Archive for the ‘Weight Training’ 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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I’m adding this post into a series I did some years ago as it is an important phase and one I missed out of pure laziness.

The muscle definition phase (hereafter “MD”) is the phase you would use at the end of the training block of training parameters previously mentioned to help reduce bodyfat and draw out some of the muscle you have built, for clarity those previous phases would be:

  1. Anatomical Adaptation
  2. Hypertrophy
  3. Mixed Training
  4. Maximum Strength

To begin with let us state the scope of the MD phase as according to the authors:

  • Burns off subcutaneous fat and increases visibility of muscle striations.

  • Increases the protein content of muscles through performance of long, high-rep sets. In addition to better muscle definition, in some instances these exercises increase muscle strength.

  • Clearly increases capillary density within the muscle through increases adaptation to aerobic work, which may result in a slight increase in muscle size.  (Bompa et al, 2003, p.245)

The authors note they are breaking from bodybuilding tradition when they propose a rep range over 12 to 15 reps, stating that on average bodybuilders believe to increase muscle size reps over this range are not necessary, which the authors concede this. However they state that going over these rep ranges will promote “better looking bodies with higher muscle density, perfect symmetry, and increased muscle separation and striations” (p.245-6), they do this by (1) burning off the fat and (2) decrease load with more reps. Let’s take each in turn.

(1) Burn Off Fat

In order the maximize the values mentioned above removing fat is important, to do this the authors state that to do this: “the duration of nonstop muscular contraction must be increased” (p. 246). They state that bodybuilders have traditionally used aerobic steady state cardio to achieve this, but the authors state this method to be ineffective when compared to theirs. The difference, they say, comes from the fact that fat will be burned from local muscle groups and the body overall through the drastic (but progressive) increase in repetitions. Coupled with this they state to peform the program in a non stop fashion, that is “to perform hundreds of repetitions per muscle group per workout. Since it is impossible to do work of such long duration nonstop for only one muscle group, exercises must be continually alternated during the workout.” (p. 246)

(2) Decrease Load With More Reps

In order to achieve the kinds of reps the authors are talking about you need to drop the load to “30 to 50 percent of 1RM” (p. 245), that is by about half of what you normally lift (RM refers to Repetition Maximum and refers to the max amount of weight you can lift by a designated number, e.g 1,3,5,7 etc). Why do this?

At the beginning of a high-rep, low-load set, only a limited number of muscle fibers are active. The other fibers are at rest, bu they become activated as the contracting fibers become fatigued. This progressively increasing recruitment of muscle fibers allows a person to perform work for a prolonged period of time. Prolonged work exhausts the ATP/PC and glycogen energy supplies, leaving fatty acids as the only fuel available to sustain this activity. Use of this fuel sources burns fat from the body, and especially the subcutaneous fat. The burning off of this type of fat increases muscle striations and muscle definition. (Bompa et al, 2003, p.246)

Program Design For The MD Phase

The authors state in order to utilize fatty acids as fuel a large amount of repetitions must be performed, and thus short rest intervals will prevent ATP/PC and glycogen regeneration and force the body to use its fatty acid stores. The authors warn the MD phase must be carefully designed so that it only takes 2-3 seconds to move between exercise stations. Moreover as exercises are often paired together the authors note is preferable to pick an even number of exercises. They also state some basic programming principles:

In the first three weeks, the purpose of training is to increase the number of reps to 50 or higher for each exercise. When this is accomplished, the exercises are grouped into two, then four, and so on, until eventually all eight exercises can be performed together without stopping. (Bompa et al, 2003, p.247)

Fr maximum results the authors note that the ideal MD Phase should consist of two six-week MD phases, with the longer the time spent on MD the greater of amount of fat burned.

Muscle Definition Cues

Unfortunately this will be a straight quote, as it is bullet points:

  • MD training requires that muscle groups be constantly alternated.

  • The same exercise may be performed twice per set, especially one targeting a desired muscle group.

  • The number of reps may not be exactly the same for each exercise. The decision depends on the individuals strengths and weaknesses for given muscle groups or on an individuals choice in targeting specific muscle(s).

  • Speed should be moderate throughout the set. A fast lifting rhythm may produce a high level of lactic acid, which can hamper ability to finish the entire set.

  • In order to avoid wasting time between exercises, athletes should (if this is possible) set up all the equipment needed before the training session begins.

  • Since the physiological demand of MD training can be quite severe, entry-level athletes should not use it.

  • The total number of MD workouts per week can be from 2 to 4, depending on the athlete’s experience – lower for recreational, and higher for advanced or professional athletes. The additional 1 to 2 workouts can be divided between aerobic, H, or MxS training.

  • The number of reps per exercise should not be restricted to 50, as shown in our example. A very well-training athlete may go as high as 60 to 75. (Bompa et al, 2003, p.247)

Below I’ll include example workout the authors provide:

FullSizeRender (3)Reference

Bompa, T.O., Pasquale, M.D., Conrnacchia, L.J. (2003). Serious Strength Training (Second Edition). Champaign, IL. Human Kinetics.

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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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Although not directly tied to the title of the book, Periodization offers plenty of “ancillary” information seemingly pertinent to any fitness enthusiast, as such we will look at some of that here today. Primarily we will be looking at energy systems, what they are, their role and the benefits of maximizing each. To begin let us look at Bompa and Haff’s rundown of the three energy systems and their role in providing energy:

At all times the various energy systems contribute to the overall ATP [Adenosine Triphosophate] yield. However, depending on the physiological demands associated with the exercise bout, ATP yield can be linked to a primary energy system. For example, very high intensity events, such as the 100m sprint, that occur in a short time can result in a significant reliance on the anaerobic energy [that is, energy created without the presence of oxygen] systems to meet the demand for ATP. As the duration of the activity is extended, the reliance on oxidative mechanisms for supplying ATP increase. For example, exercise bouts that last approximately 1 min will meet 70% of the body’s energy demand via anaerobic mechanisms, whereas bouts of exercise that are 4 min in duration will meet 65% of the body’s energy demand via the use of aerobic metabolism. (Bompa & Haff, 2009, p. 26)

From here the authors state that what this means is that at any given time during exercise there is a primary energy system that meets the body’s needs for energy, but they also note that this does not mean that we need to train one energy system for one intensity. Studies have shown (p. 27) that high intensity (anaerobic) interval training can significantly improve endurance (that is, oxidative, long duration) work, by increasing lactate threshold and thus allowing the endurance athlete to work at a higher intensity before experiencing a build up of lactic acid. The benefits of high intensity interval training can reach beyond this however, with increases in short-term and long-term energy system enzymatic activity, an increase in maximal power output as well as aerobic power output all being demonstrated reliably. (p. 27) The authors note from here that it has been suggested that a high aerobic capacity enhances the removal of waste products from high intensity anaerobic work because “this capacity enhances removal of lactate and PCr [Phosphocreatine a short term anaerobic energy system, one of two, the other being the glycolytic system) this has led some coaches to assume that aerobic training is useful in recovery strategies from high intensity intervals. This however has been rebutted by numerous studies (p. 27), the increase in aerobic output resulting from athletes in predominately anaerobic sports who train anaerobically will develop an aerobic capacity high enough to aid in postexercise recovery. Moreover the increase and use of aerobic work can actually decrease anaerobic performance, through proposed mechanisms such as a decrease in the force/velocity curve (that is the athlete’s ability to produce force in the high velocity/low-frequency region of the curve which can affect the athlete’s ability to develop explosive strength particularly high rates of force development and high levels of peak force, p. 288), as well as a fiber type shift from type II muscle fibers (“fast-twitch”) to type I (“slow twitch”). While not necessarily detrimental to the common exercise enthusiast this should be considered when factoring in ones sporting concerns and outcomes.

To train specific energy systems we need to be mindful of our work-to-rest ratios, perhaps by looking at the sport we wish to engage in, or if we are simply training recreationally we might like to look at what markers we want to increase, be it speed, power output, duration, or if we’re going for aesthetic goals. For example, shorter work-to-rest ratios that is a 1:1-1:3 ratio (that is one interval to one rest, working up to one interval to three times the rest) will work the oxidative system, whereas longer work-to-rest ratios will target the short-term energy systems, for example 1:12-1:20. (p. 27)

That might be enough for today’s post, in our next post we’ll look at aerobic versus anaerobic endurance more closely.


Bompa, T., Haff, G. (2009). Periodization. Human Kinetics.

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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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