Archive for the ‘Training Diary’ Category

Stop Fit Shamers From Sabotaging Your Client’s Fitness Goals – Lori Calloway.

How Long is a Training Session? – Alwyn Cosgrove.

Your Optimal Training Frequency for the Glutes Part I: Exercise Type – Bret Contreras.

An Introduction to Dieting Part 1 – Lyle MacDonald.

An Introduction to Dieting Part 2 -Lyle MacDonald.

How to Run Without Pain – Chad Waterbury.

Are we really working hard? – Alwyn Cosgrove.

Individual Differences: The Most Important Consideration for Your Fitness Results that Science Doesn’t Tell You – Bret Contreras and James Krieger.

Doctors Do Not Know Much About Obesity Because They Are Not Expected To – Dr Sharma.

Canadian Human Rights Petitions Against Sizeism -Dr Sharma.

Weight Bias Awareness Is Still Not Being Taught To Health Professionals -Dr Sharma.

Random Thoughts on Long-Term Fitness Industry Success – Installment 5 – Eric Cressey.

How long should you rest when training with lighter loads? – Brad Schonefeld.

What is the Best Rep Range for Muscle Strength and Size? -Brad Schoenfeld.

What Are Macros? — What To Know About Macronutrients – JC Deen.

Alcohol And Weight Loss — The 4D Fat Loss Guide For Losing Body Fat And Having A Social Life

Fine Tune Your Frequency -Blaine Summer

3 Tips for Successful Dieting – Nick Shaw.

Sleeping Positions: A Disucussion of Pros and Cons – Quinn Henoch.

The Best Program for You -Thomas Lilley.

More from the Mailbag – Lyle McDonald.

Training the Obese Beginner – Lyle McDonald.

3 Amazing Back Training Routines – Smitty

Less Sickness For Better Results – Eric Cressey.

Why People Store Fat In Different Parts Of The Body -Kevin Richardson.

Questions on GMOs -Steven Novella.

Curcumin Hype vs Reality – Steven Novella.

The Strength Training Guide for Women Over 40 -Nia Shanks.

10 Overlooked Reasons Why Every Woman Should Strength Train -Nia Shanks.

Strength Training Made Simple – The 5 Principles For Pencil Pushers –Charles Poliquin.

Rise of the (Weight) Machines: Why Exercise Equipment is Not As Bad You’ve Been Told – K. Aleisha Fetters.

Losing Weight and Your Sanity: Why the Scale Lies (And How to Make Sense of Your Weight) – Brian Sabin.

Lady Gaga, The Super Bowl, And Half-Assed Body Positivity – Ragen Chastain.

Maybe I’m just not fit enough to be a trainer. 6 ways to overcome this common anxiety and build a great career. – Lindsey Heiserman.

How To Lose Belly Fat And Keep It Off In 7 Effective Steps -JC Deen.

3 Simple Squat Depth Solutions -Dean Somerset.

Are You Ready To Do Stuff? A Post On Mobility – Dean Somerset.


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IMG_5252Before @ 105kg and After @ 94kg

Westy, what can I say about the guy? He’s a terminator. He has been working his butt off for a long time, to not only change his body composition, but also maintain those results for an extended period of time. While it’s true these aren’t 12 week results, they have taken time, he has changed his lifestyle, changed unhealthy habits to more positive ones, and has kept the weight off. That is significant. He is no bodybuilder, he doesn’t live, sweat and breathe the fitness industry. He has a wife and kids, and a life outside the gym. That is; he has a myriad of concerns other than health and well-being, but he comes to his sessions, ready to do whatever is asked, he texts me his food, his macros everyday, and is involved in his dietary and health goals. That is all anyone can ask.

Westy works a stressful job, sits at a desk all day, and to be honest, even until recently, his dietary habits have been based off habit, comfort and stress. But we have been working together, over time, to make improvements, to find what is based on science and works for him. We have tried low carb/high protein diets, intermittent fasting, which have worked to varying degrees (IF in particular Westy found to be useful), what we have found that has helped him retain the most muscle mass while losing bodyfat has been in a high protein/moderate carb/low-fat/sugar diet. I have been trying to push his protein up to about 2+g/kg/bw/day with his fat at about 25% of total cals with the remaining cals to be made up of nutritious and fibrous carbs. Coupled with this is a total deficit of 3,500 cals/week (how he chooses to get that within the parameters above is up to him). We set it up at about -500cals/day with a high and low day in there, but hey, sometimes life gets in the way. We have been measuring his weight and hes getting to below 90kg now which is starting to get us to a good bodyweight, so we may play around with bringing up his calories to -100-200 below maintenance/day so as to maintain as much muscle as we can and slowly drip the bodyfat off.

Now for some numbers, the first assessment I have for Westy is on 19/9/14:

  • Has his weight at 101.5 kg
  • Bodyfat Percentage at 31%

And of his latest assessment on 1/7/15:

  • Had his weight at 89kg
  • Bodyfat Percentage at 23%

More than this, his changes haven’t simply been physique related, as you can see below he has also make incredible improvements to his strength:

I’m incredibly proud of this guy, who is a client, but has also become a dear friend and a trusted confidant. I’m thankful that he has stuck with me on his journey and I hope that I continue to help him for a long time to come with his goals.

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IMG_5149  IMG_5148

Surprisingly, there is only 2.5kg difference between these two pics.

For Sieraya’s first results blog, see here.

This girl, what a trooper. She has had an intense year, working 50hrs a week managing her own gym with lunch hours worked at her desk, long commutes to work and back, and the stress that comes with all of this and the job itself. She has had ups and downs over the past year and a half (since her last results blog) and not all of her work has been in the right direction. But, that hasn’t stopped her. And it’s showing through in her work, which is steadily moving in the right direction.

Now for some quick stats:

Her first pics on the left have her bodyweight at 78.3kg and her bodyfat percentage at 35%

While the pics on the right have her bodyweight at 75.8kg and her bodyfat percentage at 26%

That’s a loss of 9% bodyfat while only losing 2.5kg. What has been most interesting about her results is that since her last results blog she has put on 5kg of muscle and has lost a further 1.5% bodyfat.

The change has come from utilizing metabolic resistance type training programs and dietary strategies such as low carb, intermittent fasting and such to more bodybuilding/volume based programs that focus on heavier weights and less cardio based training, coupled with high protein diets with moderate carb intake and low-fat. Now, a sidenote, the aforementioned strategies are useful, particularly if you are looking to lose a lot of bodyfat quickly and aren’t overly concerned with keeping as much muscle mass as possible. For example, the pic below has Sieraya at a lower bodyfat percentage than she is now, and looking “smaller” but that is not necessarily what Sieraya wants, she wants muscle mass, she wants to be lean and muscular, a hard combination to be sure, that takes much more nuance.

FullSizeRenderOn the left she is 69kg with a bodyfat percentage of 23%

On the right she is 74kg with a bodyfat percentage of 26%

As you can see from the two pics together, that while she was leaner and lighter in the pic on the left, she doesn’t have the same kind of curvature and musculature as she does on the right. And these are things we have worked on together as we get results from different programs and methodologies, as we find what works for her to get her the results she is looking for.

The same goes for her strength and indeed her training ethic, in the videos below we get a glimpse of the hard work she’s put in with her strength training, as well as her hypertrophy/volume work. And let me just say, some of her high volume hypertrophy programs have been just as grueling as some of those metabolic resistance workouts (as you can see with her German Body Composition video).

I couldn’t be prouder of Sieraya and I look forward to the coming months of training as we start a new block.

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Symmetry’s Novice Program (Part 2) – Mehrad.

Symmetry’s Novice Program (Part 1) – Mehrad.

Impact of the Menstrual Cycle on Determinants of Energy Intake – Reseach Review -Lyle McDonald.

Q&A about opening a gym -Alwyn Cosgrove.

Women, Bulky Muscle & The Hulking Reality – Mehrad.

A Better Way to Gauge Intensity of Effort During Resistance Training – Brad Schoenfeld.

To Stretch Or Not To Stretch? – Mehrad.

Best Fitness Articles — June 7, 2015 – Ben and Kristen.

BioLayne Guest Blog Peter Baker – Unf***ing your Spine for Powerlifting Excellence

DOMS and Muscle Growth -Lyle McDonald.

Women Training and Fat Loss – Book Teaser -Lyle McDonald.

12 Ways to Know if You Should Include an Exercise in a Strength Training Program – Eric Cressey.

It’s ok to be fat as long as…

3 Ways to Level Up Your Coaching -Mike Robertson.

Don’t just stand there, do nothing! The difference between science-based medicine and quackery -John Synder.

Fat Loss Friday: 15 Lessons on Leaning Out – Eric Cressey.

Build Your Glutes Fast! -Chad Waterbury.

Eat, Lift, and Condition to Lose Fat and Maintain Muscle -Mark Lewis and Travis Pollen.

Does Light Load Training Build Muscle in Experienced Lifters? – Brad Schoenfeld.

Squats and Deadlifts Won’t Make Your Waist Blocky– Bret Contreras.

Eight Considerations for Weight Room Training -Robert A. Panariello.

12 Observations From Training Women – Bret Contreras.

3 Weekend Mobility Drills to Help you Enjoy Spring -Dean Somerset.

Current Position Statement on Anterior Pelvic Tilt– Bret Contreras.

6 Exercises Upgrades For Better Results -Adam Bornstein.

The “Thin Woman Inside” Lie

Transcriptional Control of Energy Regulation -Dr Sharma.

Endurance vs. Conditioning – The biggest misconception in sports specific training – Wolfgang Unsold.

The Pro’s and Cons of BCAA Supplements – The Poliquin Group.

Naturopathy vs. Science: Diabetes Edition -Scott Gavura.

Doing Too Much Causes (Unnecessary) Stress and Costs You Long Lasting Results -Nia Shanks.

Top 12 Biggest Myths About Weight Loss -Kris Gunnars.

Whole Body Vibration Therapy -Steven Novella.

Responses to Ridiculous Justifications for Fat Shaming

Squat With A Large Volume To Improve Strength Rapidly.

The Curious Case of Why People Fear Protein -Adam Bornstein.

How Drinking More Water Can Help You Lose Weight -Adda Bjarnadottir.

20 Common Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight -Kris Gunnars.

Antidepressants and Weight Gain – Lyle MacDonald.

GMO Foods: Good or Bad? -Atli Arnason.

The Best Protein Sources -Adam Bornstein.

The New Rules of Specialization: How to Add Muscle Mass -Adam Bornstein.

No Carbs Diet: The Flaw in Fat Loss -Adam Bornstein.

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Why Weights Are Better Than Cardio for Fat Loss -Adam Bornstein.

The Sisterhood of Lifting -Alice Round.

Wheat Belly Deception: Understanding Wheat, Insulin, and Fat Loss -Adam Bornstein.

What Do We Mean By Fat Civil Rights?

The Body Cleanse: Does Juicing Really Work? -Adam Bornstein.

BioLayne Guest Blog by Jonathan Goodman – The Fitness Industry is Failing -Jon Goodman.

Strength Is Not Always the Answer -Adam Bornstein.

Strength and Prevention of Injuries -Mark Rippetoe.

A Better Way to Perform Circuit Training -Adam Bornstein.

The Ultimate Training Secret -Lyle McDonald.

If You Want To Lose Fat, and Keep It Off, Don’t Fall For The Low-Carb Trap -JC Deen.

5 Common Diet Excuses Too Many People Make -JC Deen.

Training For Fat Loss In Simple Terms: What You Must Know -JC Deen.

When to Eat Delicious Food and When to Avoid It -Mike Israetel.

The Hip Impingement Solution -Dan McClean.

The Sport Psychology of Goal-Setting -Mike Israetel.

Off-Season Strength Building for CrossFit: Do’s and Don’ts -Jacob Tsypkin.

Activated charcoal: The latest detox fad in an obsessive food culture -David Gorski.

The measles vaccine protects against more than just the measles -David Gorski.

What is Athleticism?– Justin Hays.

How Long Should You Stay on a Program? -Mike Robertson.

How to Stick to Your Diet -Nia Shanks.

Damage Control – What to do When You Over Indulge -Nia Shanks.

Top Fitness Articles Of 2014  -Kevin Richardson,

5 Reasons Why You Don’t Need Vitamin Supplements  -Kevin Richardson.

Are You Changing Behaviors with Motivation, Ease, or Both? -Eric Cressey.

Squeeze More Muscle into Your Training -Chad Waterbury.

Q & A: Whey Protein and the Deadlift -Chad Waterbury.

Proper Hip Thrust Technique: Head and Neck Position -Ben Bruno.

First Powerlifting Meet: 20 Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

Anabolic Steroids and Muscle Growth -Lyle McDonald.

Heavy Light Medium Training -Lyle McDonald.

Effects of Low-Versus High Load Resistance Training – Research Review -Lyle McDonald.

My Weekly Routine -Brad Pilon.

7 Muscle-Building, Testosterone-Boosting Tips for Guys Over 40 (& All Hardgainers) -Jason Ferruggia.

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So far we have looked at four program design tips John has to offer (see here, and here) now we might like to take a more specific look at (one can assume one of many) periodization technique/s, entitled the “AIT Formula”. Johns periodization program comes from two main beliefs:

  1. Not believing in peaking.
  2. Related to 1., he doesn’t really believe in periodization.

He claims these beliefs to be heretical, but he does explain: (1) – he states that there people who have peaked, but many more so who have attempted to peak and failed, the exmaple he provides is the Olympics. Many athletes have their worst performance in years at such games, and while John concedes it might be the pressure, which he’s ok with, he also notes it could be that the pressure comes from the “imagined need to peak, the change in training to allow a peak, and, ultimately, the pressure to respond to the need to peak.” (p. 118) Regarding (2)- he states that all the number crunching, graphs, charts and percentages doesn’t get poundage on the bar, that perhaps there is a part of ‘paralysis by analysis’ going on here. John states his periodzation model accounts for that pesky little thing called life, which can often get in the way of the most organized program, it’s a three stage system:

  1. Accumulation

  2. Intensification

  3. Transformation (John, 2009, 118)

John’s periodization schema are seemingly more meta than simply advocating linear, or undulating periodization, his methods are life lessons one brings to a life-time of training, competition and self improvement, as such his series will take on a different tone than simply parroting the science.

Part 1: Accumulation

John’s phase one is about what he feels most programs are lacking; variety. He’s talking more than simply varying from the decline to incline for pec development, he’s talking about walking on the treadmill, then doing a few sets of benches and a few machines then hitting the steam room (p. 119).

This is far from an overstatement. The first part if the AT formula is accumulation, and doing just a few exercises a year is the antithesis of what I’m hoping you’ll adopt. Accumulation is actively seeking and learning new sports, lifts, moves, ideas and games. One literally accumulates a number of new training moves and attempts a low level of mastery of each. (John, 2009, 119)

John states this is a design we practiced often as children, playing various games both organized and not, developing different skill sets, working different energy systems, and it’s an art, he says we need to look for again. But, more than simple variation, this is about new skill sets, new training concepts, new challenges, both to our training and our philosophy. He states that the general idea of variation is to change, as we mentioned, bench press positions, but what he’s asking is to consider is a sport, if you lift weights try a powerlifting or Olympic lifting comp, if you have done that, try a triathlon. The very act of entering these competitions will open your training up to principles and practices you haven’t tried before. Even if it is the simple lesson: “seek out new training concepts – not only to add variation, but also to challenge our long-held notions of strengths and weaknesses.” (p. 120) This is the idea of accumulation versus simple variation.

The Rules for Accommodation

  • Try something new. Join a team, a club, a sport, or take up a new hobby. Meet new people; learn some new skills and have fun.

  • Continue your chosen sport or continue working on your body composition goals. Monitor your progress in all the usual ways: before-and-after photos, body fat measurements and athletic achievements.

  • Through the lens of your new endeavor, rethink and re-imagine your primary goals. This, of course, is the key to the whole process. (John, 2009, 120)

Part 2: Intensification

For John this is as simple as adding new ideas and challenges to keep you interested and motivated in your training, that this very simple concept is often overlooked by people. I know this myself, in that when I’m training for fat loss I might stick to too high a rep range, same when I’m looking for hypertrophy, or strength. Dan asks us, in a kind of thought experiment to think, what if we only had 45mins/week to train? What exercises would you leave in, or take out?  Whatever you would leave in tells John what you need to be focusing more on; this comes from an adage he uses often throughout his book (stolen from Olympic wrestling champ Dan Gable): “If it’s important, do it everyday. If it isn’t, don’t do it at all.” (p. 123) John states three ways we might be able to achieve this:

  1. You can do the old Arnold trick: Work your weaknesses first each workout. In this example, do the most important thing for your training first. Perhaps twice a week do nothing but whatever lifts or exercises you chose in the political prisoner situation [that is: only having 45mins/week to training, broken up into three 15min workouts as you’re a political prisoner, hypothetically]. My wife, Tiffini, has a one-line time-management system. If you have to eat a plate of frogs, eat the biggest one first.

  2. Measure your workouts only by how you answered the political prisoner question. All the extra stuff is great, but it’s only icing on the cake.

  3. Using the lessons from some of the information gathered during the accumulation phase, try to see if you’re making improvements in the areas you found in need. (John, 2009, 125)

The goal of intensification John states, it’s only rule, is to: “do what you say you need to.” (p. 125)

Part 3: Transformation

The third phase is potentially the simplest of them all: add all you’ve leaned and put it together in practice. John states your training should have a strict teleology, that is it should have a design, it should lead somewhere, and that you should not add things to your programs that do not reach said goals. As such John breaks his program down as follows: Day one: push, Day 2: Leg day, Day 3: Games, Day four: Pull, Day five: recovery activities, Day six: easy cardio, Day seven: compete. Let’s now go into a bit more detail.

Day One: Push Day: for his athlete John does what he calls “skill” and “tactical” work everyday, but he states those training for body composition may change these variables to suit their specific goals, but the workout consists of military presses, power curls (essentially a power clean with a curl grip) and isometric ab work (he recommends a hanging leg raise with your legs held folded in front of your chest). All exercises are performed at his famous 3 sets x 8 reps, with a minute rest. (John, 2009, 126-7)

Day Two: Leg Day: John states simply to do front squats and overhead squats at 3×8 for this, and provided you do your “skill” and “tactical” work (or whatever assistance exercises suit your goals), he states to add some hill sprints or sled pulls.

Day Three: Games!: yeah, this is pretty straight forward, go have some fun! Throw a ball, play some sport, get amongst it.

Day Four: Pull Day: John’s favorite pulling exercises for his “peaking” athletes are variations of the snatch, whether it be clean-grip, whip or wide grip. Again he follows a 3×8 with one minute rest protocol.

Day Five: John states to merely do your warm up drills here, then go home.

Day Six: he suggests light cardio here, some easy hill runs for example

Day Seven: Compete: he states of course you can move any of these days to suit your competition day or date. He does offer some basic tips for the week however:

  • Stay tight on the diet and keep the workouts fast to keep some of the pudge off.

  • Dont go crazy and try to make some massive leap overnight. Enjoy the benefits of all the work up to this point.

  • Have some fun; enjoy yourself. Reap what you sow. (John, 2009, 128)

In summary John states to always be open to new ideas and experiences and that you shouldn’t be afraid to put your new knowledge into practice. He begs that you take the time to consider what’s important, he might ask you to do this in all areas (and I’d agree), but for our purposes he’d we can simply state he’d want you to do it with your training.  He also states that when testing, or one can assume competing, that you know when to ease off, that keeping an eye on your body fat percentage levels is important, and also to find an outlet for your new and excess levels of energy (p.128-9).

That might bring my series on John to a close for now, I can tell you I’ve only scratched the surface of the amazing things he has to offer, and I highly recommend you follow his blog, or buy his books as his simply no-nonsense approach to training, even where you might disagree with him, is still invigorating.


John, D. (2009). Never Let Go. Aptos, Cal. On Target Productions.

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The Diet And Training Combination: Figuring Out How You’re Messing It Up -JC Deen.

Yoga for Athletes: Why Activation and Inhibition Matter More than Stretching -Dana Santas.

Round Backed Deadlifts Another Look -Lyle MacDonald.

How To Gain Weight — Practical Applications for Eating to Build Muscle, and Why You Might Not Want to Gain Weight Fast -JC Deen.

Why Should I Use “Good” Form if I’m Stronger With “Bad” Form? -Bret Contreras.

The Top 5 Deadlift Mistakes to Avoid -Amir Fazeli.

9 Non-Fitness Books Every Fitness Professional Should Read -Dean Somerset.

Body Positivity in Space

How to Strength Train for Jiu-jitsu -Charles Poliquin.

Strength Strategies: Installment 1 -Greg Robbins.

Acupuncture, Organic Food, and Other Questions -Steven Novella.

5 Mobility Rules of Thumb, Part 1 -Quenn Henoch.

5 Things to Know About Your First Weightlifting Competition -Ariel Stephens.

(Please don’t skip me!) Warm-up -Neghar Fonooni.

How to Science Your Fitness -Dean Somerset.

The Taxonomical Disorder of Recovery – Antonio Robustelli.

4 Worst Foods for Plantar Fasciitis -Rick Kaselj.

The 3,500 Cal Per Pound Weight-Loss Fallacy And Why Even Experts Get This Wrong -Arya Sharma.

Perfectionism Sucks (Plus 9 other Things I Learned in 2014) -Neghar Fonooni.

7 Worst Shoes for Your Feet -Rick Kaselj.

2014: Chiropractors, naturopaths and acupuncturists lose in state legislatures -Jann Belamy.

The Best of 2014: Product Reviews -Eric Cressey.

BEST Products of 2014 -Rick Kaselj.

An Open Apology to the Internet – Lyle MacDonald.

The Health Benefits of Moderate Drinking -Harriet Hall.

BEST Articles of 2014 -Rick Kaselj.

The Truth About Belly Fat -Rick Kaselj.

Ethics in the Fitness Industry -Nick Mitchell.

Massage & Muscle Stiffness -Patrick Ward.

No, the HPV vaccine does not cause promiscuity -Scott Gavera.

5 Lessons on Coaching -John O’Neil.

Nine Things that Improve Insulin Sensitivity: Accelerate Fat Loss & Build Muscle Faster! – Poliquin Group.

Detox: What “They” Don’t Want You To Know – Scott Gavera.

Working in Tall-Kneeling -Dan John.

Fitness Marketing Bullsh*t -Nick Mitchell.

Top 10 Foods that Help Balance Cortisol for Optimal Body Composition – Poliquin Group.

Diesel Quick Tip – Awesome Hip External Rotator Stretch

The Multi-Angle Giant Set for a Big Back -Charles Poliquin.

Stop Striving for “perfection”. Find your strong.– Alice Round.

Why IIFYM doesn’t mean go YOLO on food choices….don’t be a basic bitch -Alice Round.

Why FATS dont make you FAT -Alice Round.

Bret’s Third Powerlifting Meet: What a Crazy Day! -Bret Contreras.

Don’t Be a Slave to the Scale -Bret Contreras.


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