Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Moving my blog


Thank you to all who have enjoyed reading this blog. It will now be hosted on wordpress, and can be found at

Monday, June 20, 2011

Practical Application

Last week I wrote on the benefits of lifting heavy, so this week I thought I would write up an example of how to put that knowledge into practice. This workout is designed for the intermediate to advanced lifter. All exercises are done for 4-8 reps and each group of exercises should be performed in a circuit, going through each circuit twice. Remember, if you can do more than 8 reps, than the weight is too light. This workout took me 25 min to do.

DB chest press
Lat pull-down
Bent-over barbell rows
KB swings

Bosu crunches (feet off of floor)
Bosu cross pikes (one leg bent on floor, touch opposite hand to opposite toe, like a V-Up)
MB chest pass against the wall
Bicep curls

Band woodchops
Single arm band chest press
Full sit ups
Wall slides for shoulders

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lift Heavy

     I have previously discussed the benefits of lifting heavy weights. In short, lifting heavy builds muscle for a more cut or toned look, as well as burning more calories than light weight with high repetitions. Don't worry ladies, unless you are spending copious amounts of time in the gym, or are taking testosterone enhancers, you won't get "bulky."  What I feel like I did not cover adequately is how to lift heavy. For the most part, I assume many of the readers here are beginners in weight room, but this still serves as a good reminder for those who are more advanced.
     So lets get into the meat of this post. How does one start lifting heavy. First and foremost, warm up for ten minutes. The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends an active warm up instead of static stretching, so something like a light jog, or some body weight exercises should do the trick. If you feel like you must stretch, do so after the warm up.
     After you warm up, determine the order of your exercises. Personally for beginners, I recommend that a person do exercises that involve the largest muscle groups first. These include, but are not limited to, squats, lunges, dead lifts, push ups, pull ups. From here, work down from large to small muscle groups. I typically put cardio at the end of a workout as it can help keep you from getting sore.
     Finally, select you weight. You are aiming for 8 repetitions, and 2-3 sets. To find the appropriate weight, select something, and start your first set. Perform the exercise until failure. If you can do more than 8 repetitions, select a heavier weight for your next set. In this case, go for 3 sets, counting the first as a warm up. If you cannot do 8 repetitions on the first set, select a lighter weight for set 2. Do 8 repetitions and move to the next exercise, as that muscle group is likely already taxed. Finally, once you have found the correct weight, only increase that weight once you can do 10 repetitions for two straight weeks.

There you have it, now go hit the gym,


P.S. The recommendations written are adapted from the NSCA CSCS textbook.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thursday Quick Tip

     Since summer has rolled around, and my mornings are getting warmer, I have taken to making smooties in the morning for breakfast. Recently, I have read several posts, on various nutrition blogs, that include spinach in their recipes. Now, I know what you are thinking, spinach does not belong in a smoothie. I was thinking the samething, untill I tried it. The spinach simply blends in to the smoothie, adding no flavor. Since the initial experiment I have been adding more and more, and still no taste! If you are looking to add veggies to your diet, and you should be, this is a quick and easy way to get them in! Currently I am using a large handful, maybe 1.5 to 2 cups., and see no flavor change. Currently, this is my favorite recipe.

Berry Smoothie:
1/2 cup frozen mixed berries
1 scoop vanilla whey powder
large handful of spinach
1 tsp coconut oil
Add water to liquify

Monday, June 6, 2011

Post Workout Nutrition

     One of the first things I always talk to my clients about is post workout nutrition. You have just spent an hour or so working hard, so why waste it. Post workout nutrition is a vital part of the of the total health equation. Do it right, and you can see significant gains in lean body mass, do it wrong, and you can stagnate. After telling this two my clients, I usually get two questions, "What should I eat?" and, "When?" Lets Take a look at both of these.
      "What should I eat?" This is the first and more complicated of the common post workout nutrition questions I get. The most simple answer, is milk. Milk has a great protein make-up, containing all essential amino acids your body needs to refuel. It also has a good amount of carbohydrate, the approximate ratio to protein is 2:1. 8-12 oz of milk after a workout should do the trick. Many studies have covered this topic (including this one) so I feel milk is the best option for the general public. Here's the tricky part, many people (especially females) don't like milk. For those who don't like milk, whey protein powder provides many of the same benefits (sometimes more as you have more control over the fat and carb content) however, I typically find those who don't drink milk don't like whey protein either. Nuts are another option, though they are not as complete as milk or whey. Eggs are great if your stomach can handle them. The important thing here is to get a complete source of protein along with a few carbs and some fat. Remember though that protein takes more water than other nutrients to breakdown, so continue to hydrate post workout.
     So now we come to the question of "When?" This subject is up for debate, with time frames ranging from immediately to 1 hr or more after the conclusion of resistance training. as a trainer, my stance on the subject is lax. Many of these studies discuss optimal timing. Most people looking to generally fit do not need an optimal time, but rather a general one. I tell clients to eat as soon as they can. This usually puts them in the 0-60min range which is the debated time frame. This means that while they may not get maximum benefits, they will close to it. Though I do not know the source study, I was always told in physiology that within 20 min of exercise provided the most benefits, for what it is worth.

So in short conclusion, drink milk asap after a workout!


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Benefits of Walking

     One of the most asked questions I get as a personal trainer is about jogging vs. walking. More specifically, clients usually ask me, "I hate running, is there any other type of cardio I can do?" Why yes, as a matter of fact there is, it's called walking. Typically this garners a response of disbelief. can walking really count as a workout? I am a big believer in walking for cardiovascular health, however, it has to be done correctly. Walking can burn 100 calories per mile. Walk 10 miles a week and those calories start to add up. Walk for an hour each night, about 3-4 miles if your focusing, and that adds up to 2100-2800 calories a week!
     So what do I mean by walking correctly? Well first of all this needs to be exercise, not physical activity. Exercise is time set aside to workout, that is only focus. Physical activity may be the same exercise (i.e. walking) just done as part of your daily, liking walking from the car to the door. While physical activity is good for you, if you are looking to improve your health, it just will not cut it. When you walk for health it needs to be sustained, an hour or so, and at a somewhat fast pace, not just a leisurely stroll. So take advantage of the weather today, and get out there and walk around!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What Do I Eat?

     As a personal trainer, a large part of my job is working with clients on their diet. When I say diet, I don't mean a "diet" in the sense of a strict set of rules or gimmicks to be followed for a short period of time, but rather a clients entire lifestyle as it relates to food. I truly believe that 80% of a clients health (including a healthy weight) is directly related to what they put in their bodies.
     Often, clients ask weather or not I follow the same diet that they do. This is sometimes awkward because, I am a person who believes that a trainer should practice what they preach. However, I also believe that there is not one specific diet that fits all people. For instance, I am a 6'3", highly active, 23 year old man. My clients are mostly middle aged, moderately active women. Our two diets should be very different, because we are very different in terms of metabolism and energy expenditure.
     That disclaimer aside, some still want to know, "Jason, what do you eat?" Currently I am a big believer in the Paleolithic diet and lifestyle more specifically, the guidelines set out by Mark Sisson. This diet aims to revert the human diet back to what our ancestors ate before the cultivation of grains. The major change in this diet is the amount of carbohydrate a person can eat, as well as restricting certain food groups. Sisson advocates a diet that includes 150g of carbohydrate or less. I like to call this a moderate carbohydrate diet. Low carbohydrate diets, like Atkins, will tell you to keep carbohydrate to under 20g. I do not endorse this, because it can limit the amount of vegetables one eats, and I certainly believe in vegetables as a dietary necessity. The Primal way of life aims to keep carbohydrate intake low by limiting the amount of fruit we eat, (fruit, while good for you, is high in sugar and can be over consumed) and totally eliminating sugar and grains from our diets.
     Sugar we all know (or should) is the insidious culprit in western diets for weight gain. the more you eat, the heavier you'll be. Its in everything from bread to juice and beyond. Even if I don't have some of my clients follow this diet, I always advocate getting rid of bread. It can't be made without sugar, and that means you shouldn't eat it. The other part of this equation is getting rid of grains. Grains, Sisson suggests, cannot be properly digested by humans (probably why so many people have Celiacs) and contain certain toxins that are actually poisoning us. I personally believe that it is simply a mater of glycemic load. Americans eat way too many carbohydrates in a day. Carbohydrate is strictly used as fuel in you body. If you do not burn that fuel, you store it. Fat and protein, however, have many functions in the body. If they need to be burned as fuel they can be, if not, the body can put them to use else ware before deciding to store them. Cutting out grains eliminates a lot of carbohydrates from the diets, leaving a person to obtain them from fruit and vegetables, which provide other benefits as well as fuel.
     So there you have it, that is what I eat. I keep my carbohydrate intake to 150g or less. I do not (or try my best) to not eat any grains, beans, or sugar. I eat plenty of fat (see Sisson's site,, for research) because a growing body of research suggests fat does not make you fat, but rather is your body's preferred fuel source. I sleep well, and get plenty of exercise. Hopefully I have convinced you to do the same,