Category Archives: Training/Workouts

A Dirty Little Secret About Working Out No Trainer Will Tell You

…Except me

Before the magical reveal, there are two basic criteria that must be followed for this to hold true and they are:

  1. Your exercise form isn’t complete garbage
  2. You’ve established some consistency with your training, which means working out at least three or four days per week

Here’s the deal for every beginner…

You can follow ANY workout program and experience great results. No trainer has a magical program. You can literally do almost anything.

Now, as you progress in your training you may want to learn proper periodization and tailor your needs as your goals change. For that, hiring an experienced trainer or strength coach may really provide some value. Until then, your program doesn’t matter.

Why is this the case? When you introduce a new stimulus/stress to your body, it has to adapt. That adaptation leads to muscle growth, fat loss, and an overall change in lean body mass. Going from sedentary to gym rat is a major change. Whether it’s calisthenics or powerlifting, you’re going to progress very quickly. These are the ‘noob gains’ people speak of. They usually last six months to a year.

Unfortunately, this becomes a curse for many lifters. They apply the ‘use what got me to the dance’ mentality and never make any changes to their routine. They continue to perform their three sets of ten reps on the bench press and wonder why they’ve hit a plateau.

Does this mean it’s completely pointless for someone new to the gym to hire a personal trainer? Of course not, it’s always a good idea to learn proper form from the beginning. Oftentimes a novice client will come up to me, almost apologetically, and explain that they’ve never lifted before. This is actually a blessing because it’s much easier to teach a blank slate rather than fix a bad habit.

The majority of my clients don’t hire me due to a lack of knowledge however. They hire me for accountability. Most people simply don’t like to work out and won’t do it unless they have a trainer. Some may consider this silly, but I say do what you have to do to get in the gym and improve your health. Your mentality changes when you realize that skipping a workout means you’re letting someone else down besides yourself.

I don’t want to dissuade you from hiring a trainer. Hell, it’s how I make a living. But be mindful of the trainers trying to sell you on their protocol that guarantees results quickly. Anyone new to the game can get results quickly with good form and consistency. Ironically, I believe my services are better for intermediate and advanced lifters who have hit the wall with their training. As we head towards 2018 and the thoughts of getting in shape flood your mind for the new year, just remember that showing up is half the battle.

The One Supplement ALL Athletes Can Benefit From

 

Walk into any GNC with an open mind and a dream of building muscle and be prepared to shell out $200 on some supplements that probably won’t do much. Supplements are a polarizing subject; some believe they are worthless while others think they’ll change your life. As usual, the true answer lies somewhere in the middle. Many supplements are indeed worthless but some have legitimate research proving their efficacy. It’s a billion dollar industry for a reason, you can only fool consumers so much nowadays.

 

So what should you take? There can’t be one supplement that works for everyone right? Well, to a certain extent there is. That supplement is creatine monohydrate.

 

I know I know, not a sexy answer. But oftentimes the most basic practice is the most effective. It wasn’t until I became CSCS certified and learned about the body’s energy systems that I truly appreciated the role creatine plays. Most of us know one of the major functions of creatine: pulling water into the muscle cell making it hydrated and anabolic. Pretty obvious benefit there. But to understand the other half of the equation we need a brief understanding of bioenergetics.

 

The body has three main energy systems; the creatine phosphate system, glycolytic system (which can be further broken down into fast and slow glycolysis), and the beta oxidative energy system. The energy system you use for exercise is primarily dependent on the intensity and secondarily dependent on the duration. High intensity short duration activities (lifting, sprinting) deplete your creatine phosphate energy system. During these activities, Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) becomes Adenosine Diphosphate (ADP) via a process called hydrolysis.

 

In order to become useful for energy production, ADP has to become ATP once again. This is where creatine comes into play. Creatine phosphate, which is stored in muscle, loans a phosphate molecule to ADP so it can become ATP once again. You can see why supplementing with creatine, and thus increasing muscle creatine content can be very useful. The creatine phosphate system is both rapidly depleted and rapidly regenerated.

 

Creatine supplementation makes sense for anaerobic athletes like football players or powerlifters, but what about aerobic athletes? How could a marathon runner benefit from creatine if their training intensity is low and long in duration? You have to consider one simple principle of bioenergetics. You are never using just one energy system, you are always using all three. A marathon runner is PRIMARILY using their beta oxidative energy system, but it is not as if they are using 0% of their creatine phosphate or glycolytic systems. So while creatine may not help them to the degree it would an olympic sprinter, it still serves a purpose.

 

A few notes on creatine to conclude:

  1. Creatine monohydrate is still considered the most effective form. The good news is that this version is very inexpensive.
  2. There is no need to load creatine, you will eventually saturate your muscles by taking 3–5g per day.
  3. If you experience bloating, you are likely taking too much or not drinking enough water.