Tag: Resistance Training

One of the popular questions I get asked alot is what supplements should people take? Supplements aren’t needed but some are definitely helpful. For the purpose of this article I will focus on the benefits of why you should be taking creatine to assist you in your fitness journey. Several people shy away from creatine due to the fear of water retention. If you ever had several alcoholic drinks, high sodium meals or just didn’t consume enough water, the day after you will notice a weight increase and more of a fluffer look to your physique. That’s your body retaining water in the skin. Creatine on the other hand causing you to hold water in the muscles which in my opinion makes it a very useful supplement.

If you’re a powerlifter, bodybuilder, crossfitters or just someone who wants to put on some muscle size, creatine can benefit you. Creatine may also help those who perform high intensity sprints or endurance training. So how does creatine actually work? Creatine increases your muscles phosphocreatine stores which help create additional ATP energy. During high intensity exercise such as resistance training, ATP fuels your muscles during your workout. ATP energy is burned faster than the human body can reproduce it so supplementing with creatine allow you to produce more ATP which will improve performance during your high intensity training sessions. If you’re currently not supplementing with creatine you probably notice days in the gym where you hit a certain amount of weight for a certain amount of reps successfully. But on the last set with same weight, you’re unable to execute. This is due to not being able to reproduce ATP fast enough at that present time. Since supplementing with creatine, I’ve noticed an increase in energy. Prior to using creatine I found it difficult to successfully complete 4 sets of 3 reps on my heavy squat days being that my body wasn’t producing more ATP. This is the key benefit of creatine supplementation!

Now you know the most important benefit of creatine so which one do you purchase? With the supplement industry constantly growing, several different forms of creatine have been developed. Creatine monohydrate is the one I’d recommend for two reasons. One is the cheapest form of creatine and two other forms are still relatively new which haven’t been tested to see if they actually work how supplement companies claim they do. Creatine monohydrate is the most common you will find and is the form that most scientific studies have used to conduct their research on the effectiveness of the supplement. So instead of possibly paying an overpriced charge for creatine, stick to the one that has been proven to work for years. Just to give you an idea of how cheap creatine is, a 200 serving container of creatine on Vitacost.com will cost $17.32 not including shipping. That should last you about a half of year if you’re only taking the daily recommended amount of 5 grams.

Out all the supplements that exist today, creatine monohydrate is one of the few that is actually backed up by science. I personally used creatine whether I’m bulking, dieting or just maintaining simply because of the improved performance during my workouts. So to address the title of this article “no creatine DOES NOT make you fat”. Instead it provides your muscles with additional energy than what your body can naturally produce to push past intense training sessions. If increased strength, muscle or endurance is one of your goals, creatine is the one supplement that can benefit you!

If you clicked on this article, you’ve already read the title and I truly mean what I’ve titled it. Why you may ask? The answer is simple, you can take the necessary steps to the change you want way before the new year but most people allow themselves to wait however long is left until January 1st to take action. Many people will fail in achieving their resolutions not because they don’t want it but because they don’t want it bad enough! Patiently waiting for the perfect time to start something is only delaying the process to be able look at every possible gap that can prevent you from being successful at what you’re trying to attain. If you can tap into your life as whole and identify all areas that could potentially cause conflict with your goals, the greater the chances of you being successful at reaching your goal(s).

Adjust Your Mindset

I know it’s easier said than done but if you’ve been obese all your life, it won’t take a few weeks or months to lose the amount of weight you want. Instead of waiting for the new year to take action, get a head start before everyone because you already identified your weight as being a problem for you. What the difference between a problem that you’ve identified and a problem that let’s say your doctor has identified? They both don’t bring joy to your life therefore waiting for the new year to take action will only cause more internal pain and suffering. Take action now!

Search For Sustainability

Every year, someone either on social media, TV or even the radio is raving about a new fad diet and it’s so easy to feed into believing that this may work for you. But it won’t! Reason being is that most of these fad diets dramatically change the way you’ve been eating in past years. I believe that anyone can follow any diet and be the happiest person ever but most people don’t ease into a diet. 9/10 times they go in cold turkey because they want change fast instead of asking themselves “can I do this for the long term or even the rest of my life?” If they answer is no to that question, that diet isn’t for you and you have to find something else that is sustainable for your lifestyle.

Change Your Environment

As a former heavyweight, not referred to myself as a boxer, I realize that in order to make a new habit permanent I had to change many visual aspect of my life. From tossing out all processed snacks from my kitchen to limiting the time I spent with people who had the luxury of eating whatever they wanted without the fear of gaining weight. Our environment is huge part of our success and a lot of us take that for granted or just ignore it all together. But I can tell you first hand that you shouldn’t ignore it especially if its influencing you to go back on your word of commiting to the fitness lifestyle. It doesn’t mean cut everyone in your life that doesn’t want to get fit and be healthier. It simply means communicate your goals to your circle so they understand what important to you at this present time. If they’re not willing to understand your goals, surround yourself with people that will and support you to continue your journey.

The exact time frame it takes to create a new habit is very subjective but once you’ve mastered it you’ll know. How? Let’s say every day or on the days you’re schedule to go to the gym, you don’t create any excuses and get your workout done feeling like you’ve conquer the world. Or every week you go grocery shopping and as you shop you’re thinking of what new delicious healthy dish to make for this upcoming week. These are all powerful signs that you’ve committed to changing your old habits to better yourself. Many personal trainers live for new years to come along because that when so many people seek help with their goals but don’t be like the rest. Follow the advice I’ve provided for you above, educate yourself from reliable sources and start working towards redefining the new you now!

Over the years I’ve dabbled  with a several ways to lose weight. What you put in your body will impact how you look and feel. When I first got into fitness I was well over 300lbs, wasn’t active and didn’t have the slightest clue as to what calories truly were. The cambridge dictionary defines “calorie” as a unit used in measuring the amount energy food provides when eaten and digested. If you eat 1 cup of blueberries at 80 calories, once digested your body will have 80 calories to expend for energy. Pretty simple right? When weight loss is the goal, as long as you’re not eating more calories than you burn you will lose weight so as a fitness professional I highly suggest tracking calories but it isn’t a must.

 

First let’s cover why tracking is beneficial for weight loss. For the majority of my life, I never was conscious of the food that I was putting in my body. If you’d ask me if I was allergic to any foods, I wouldn’t know because I would just eat whatever food that was available which explains how I accumulated the weight that I did. Tracking calories allows you understand how your body responds to certain foods due to the fact that your documenting all meals. But the most important part of tracking your calories is that you have data of what you’ve done in the past so that you can adjust to overcome plateaus. Plateaus are going to happen and there’s very little you can do to avoid them especially if you’re making great weight loss progress. The more your weigh, the more calories your body will require. As you start dropping weight, the less calories your body will require. As an online coach, my clients typically experience plateaus when their start calorie deficit becomes their new maintenance calories for their new weight. It happens, its normal and counting your calories will only make it easier for you overcome that small obstacle in your weightloss journey in my opinion of course.

 

But as I mentioned earlier, counting calories isn’t a must because for the first 4 years of my fitness journey I didn’t count a single calorie. I just created a structure that I could commit to, but will also change my eating habits. If you are like the old Chayan in the past who ate anything and everything, incorporating meal preps into your routine can help you lose weight. From eating as you go through your day to having a set number of meals for day is what help me lose my first 70lbs. Makes sense right? Prior to starting my journey, I would rarely cook. Most of my calories would come from eating out which means I never knew how much I was really eating at a time. Once I incorporated meal prep, now I cook my own meals, I know exactly what’s in them and I have a food scale to weigh out my portions for each meal. Even the best tracking app isn’t 100% accurate when eating out therefore cooking your own meals and knowing every single ingredient that included is the best way to know the exact amount of calories you are consuming.

 

Now let’s say you’re not like the old version of me and you eat home cooked meals consistently but still struggle with weight loss, one thing you can try is try to identify on average how many meals a day you eat. For example let’s say you eat 6 home cooked meal a day and scale isn’t going down. It’s a possibility that the 6th meal is putting you in a calorie surplus or maintenance which is why you haven’t been losing weight. Easy way to correct this is by simply eliminating one meal all together or replacing one meal with a small snack that isn’t as calorie dense. Let’s say that 6th meal is about 500 calories, by eliminating it from your diet you are eating 500 calories less everyday. If you replace it with a small snack at 250 calories, now you’re eating 250 calories less each day. Both method can create a calorie deficit and that’s the most important factor to weight loss. Calories in versus calories out!

 

Life can be so fast paced for the majority of us that we sometimes ignore the little things that could be hurting our weight loss journey. From the creamer in your coffee to the one serving of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream you have every night. All these factors matter because everything has calories. In all honesty you can continue eating the way you do especially if your eating a well balanced diet of home cook meals, but eliminate those small factors from your diet and you’ll lose weight. Next time you grab coffee either look into drinking it black, add a artificial sweetner or almond milk. It’s easy to get carried away when using a creamer because we never just add the recommended tablespoon serving. Depending on how many cups of coffee you drink a day, you can see that eliminating the creamer all together can save you anywhere from 30- 200 calories. These calories that can be used towards your deficit instead of adding extra calories to your drink. Evaluate your overall diet, look at those added factors that aren’t a necessity and by minimizing or eliminating then all together, you will set yourself on the right path to a successful weight loss story!

Picture this! You had a long weekend with family & friends and decided to eat freely because these gathering with your loved ones rarely take place. Fast forward to Monday morning, you wake up, the scale is just waiting for you to step on it but you are too afraid to see the number and realize the possible setback you have taken on your goals over the weekend. In all honesty the scale isn’t something to get upset or frustrated about. It is simply a tool to track your progress but it DOES NOT define who you are!

 

The scale doesn’t measure fat meaning that just because you gained one, five or even ten pounds in a matters of days, it doesn’t mean you gained that weight in the form of fat. If you can change how you view the scale, you won’t be terrified the next time you may want to weigh yourself. The scale simply measures everything in the human body from muscles, body fat, water, bones & organs. Depending on the time of day and how much you’ve eaten or how much water you’ve drank, that number can reflect differently than your weight first thing in the morning. As you eat food and drink water throughout the day, the more and more you’ll weigh which is why it isn’t recommended to weigh yourself multiple times a day. This is completely normal so safe bet is to stick to weighing yourself first thing in the morning or when you wake up.

 

Like any other measuring tool, the scale should be used to compare and contrast progress instead of putting a label on a person. Just because you weigh a certain number doesn’t make you obese, overweight or underweight which are categories of the BMI(Body Mass Index) chart. The truth is that the BMI chart has been debunked for several years now! I’m currently 6’3 weighing 211 lbs which puts me at a BMI of 26.4 considering me overweight. Reason being is because BMI doesn’t take muscle mass into account when categorizing individuals. Muscle weighs more than fat therefore you can be an extremely muscular individual and not fall within the normal weight for your height. Which brings me to my next point, if you just started going to the gym and building muscle is one of goals, expect your weight to go up. It’s not a bad thing. It just means that you are reaching your goal of putting on some muscle on your current frame. As long as you’re not gaining drastically noticeable amounts of body fat and the scale is going up, you have nothing to worry about.

 

There are some other instances where the scale can reflect a number that shocks you. For example, women during their menstrual cycle experience bloating therefore causing their weight to fluctuate more as opposed to when their cycle ends. For someone who doesn’t intake a lot of sodium but eats a high sodium meal, the body will retain excess water causing the scale to read higher prior that meal. If you had some drinks the night before you will weigh more the following day due to alcohol serving as a diuretic which causes an increase urine output and dehydrates you. These are all scenarios that will affect your weight but how important is the scale at the end of the day?

 

The simple answer is no its not extremely important because there are other ways to track progress. I recommend to have two or more ways to measure your progress so that one form doesn’t become the end all of everything. If the scale isn’t moving but you are losing inches in certain areas of your body, you’re still losing fat. If your entire focus is on losing a certain amount of weight, you’ll drive yourself crazy finding new ways to force the scale to move which is why some people skip meals or do massive amount of cardio to change that number. Don’t be that person! Instead use other forms of tracking such as measurements, progress pictures, calipers, body fat readers, dexa scans, etc. In conclusion the scale isn’t the king when it comes to measuring your progress. Use it to your advantage but also have another form of measurement for when the scale isn’t playing in your favor.

 

When embarking in anything new, it’s important to to start small so that you prevent feeling overwhelmed. A lot of times we tend to want to become experts to start something, when in reality waiting will only delay the results we desire. When it comes to your fitness journey, look at all the habits that are prevented you from achieving your dream body and focus on the small things you can change in a short amount of time versus the overall big goal. If the small goals are headed in the same direction as the larger goal, you will see progress in the efforts you are making and eventually become successful at your goal if your remain consistent & discipline.

The Scale

Let’s say you have a weight loss goal of 50 lbs. This may seem like an eternity if the scale isn’t moving fast enough. A quick fix that a lot of us fitness professional implement is creating a weekly weight loss goal. For my online coaching clients, I give them a goal to lose 1-2 lbs per week and over a period of time they get closer to their end goal. 1-2 lbs a week is more realistic than finding a way to lose 50 lbs in the fastest way. Remember that outside of the gym you have other responsibilities that require your energy so following a diet that can potentially affect your energy levels dramatically isn’t the smartest idea. Please refer to my past blog article “Losing Weight Too Quickly? A Bad Thing?” for more information on the risks involved when losing weight too fast.

Buy Food In Servings Not Bulk

Next time you step foot in the kitchen, take a look around and look for foods that attract your taste buds. If they are sweets, soda, chips or any other processed food, just go ahead and toss those out or give them away. You don’t want them in your home if they are triggers for you. They will serve no benefits in your current fitness journey especially when it comes to weight loss. But if you have some healthy options or foods that aren’t very calorically dense, next time you go shopping look into buying them in individual serving sizes. Reason being is that it’s easy to snack on a bag of almonds or rice cakes and realize a few minutes later that you’ve eaten more than you should have. I’ve been guilty of this and I can assure you that you are not alone! The convenience of having separate serving may cost a bit more so if you prefer saving a few dollars at the store, use gladware or zip lock bags to package them separately instead. It’s all about building the discipline to eat just one or two servings but not over indulge. Also if you’re always on the go like myself, having these quick servings ready to go make great snacks to ensure you are not going long periods of time without fueling your body. Even though you are dieting, missing meals or unintentionally fasting should be avoided.

Compete With Yourself

Have you ever been in the gym, took a look around and saw someone with an physique you admire? I’m sure everyone has experience that but I’ll say this, don’t worry what the next person is doing! Just focus on you and only you because everyone is at different points of their fitness journey. Comparing yourself to another individual will only cause you to lose the motivation in your journey. I highly suggest getting a workout journal or downloading an app on your phone to document your workouts in the gym. If the next week you do more repetitions, lift more weight or perform the same distance of cardio in a shorter amount of time, thats a small win! Not only does that give you satisfaction that your efforts are working, it’s also keeps you motivated to continue your own journey. At times we miss the small progress we make in the gym because we focus on the bigger goal way to much. Yes improving our appearance is important to us but if your getting stronger or able to move like you’ve never had before, thats a huge accomplish too!

If your ultimate goal is to pack on the most amount of muscle you possibly can, the exercises you choose to perform matter. Most of the old school movements fall in the category of exercises that allow you to maximize the most amount of tension. Not to say that some of the newer exercises won’t provide you with results, but the risk of injury are much higher and/or the effectiveness of overload is very limited. Muscles understand tension therefore choosing exercises that allow you to successfully progressively overload, will serve as the best options for you for gaining muscle. If you’re unfamiliar with progressive overload please refer to my article “Progressive Overload Is The Key To Continuous Progress In The Gym“.

Plate Presses

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Even though the chest is being contracted because the arms are horizontally adducted in frontal plane of the body, there are other isolation movements such as the the pec dec machine, cable flyes or dumbbell flyes that will allow for a greater way to progressively overload. I’ve perform this exercise in the past just to test it out and what I’ve discovered is that at some point you won’t be able to hold more than a 45lbs plate in your hands. The only way to continue to progress through this movements to stack weights above your body which creates the risk of weight falling on your chest if they happen to slide out of your hands. Very high risk for the reward in my opinion!

Alternating Lat Pull Downs

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This is a popular exercise that a lot of individuals are performing in the gym. It allows for each lat to be isolated individual while using a bilateral attachment. Bilateral simply means both hands are needed to perform the movement. The problem I see with this exercise is that tension isn’t evenly distributed between each lat which can cause imbalances in the future. Instead I suggest used a single handle attachment versus a bar attachment to prevent imbalances and to help strengthen each lat individually.

Behind The Neck Shoulder Presses

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I think we can all agree that shoulder health is extremely important. If you’ve been performing this exercises for some time and have the shoulder mobility to perform it great! But if you don’t and feel pain while performing it, I’d suggest you to stop immediately! This exercise puts the shoulders in a very vulnerable position which is why I’ll suggest to stay away from it. Instead performing the standard military press will be a safer choice being that the arms are in front of the body which is a natural range of motion for the shoulders.

Behind The Neck Pull Downs

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Similar to the Behind The Neck Shoulder Press, this one also puts the shoulders in a vulnerable position. This pull down variation not only recruits the lats it’s also activates the mid back as well which is why I believe a lot of people lean towards it. But again as stated on the shoulder press, if the shoulder mobility is there carry on. But if its not, perform your standard lat pull down in the front of the body which is again a natural movement for the shoulders. Then you can perform a row movement to target the upper back mid back.

Glute Band Work

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While I believe that bands have a place in time in everyone training, I also know that just because you feel a burn in a muscle doesn’t mean it’s the most optimal approach. If you want to maximize the most amount of muscle you can build for your glutes, exercise such hip thrust, deep squats, cable kickbacks & romanian deadlifts are better options because the higher chances to progressively get stronger with these movements. Now I’m not saying that using bands are bad because they have great benefits for untrained individuals or when combining them with weighted exercises. For example if you perform hip thrust with bands around your legs, the force from the bands will cause you continue to push your knees outward throughout the movement, which from experience, has help increase my muscle to mind connection with my glutes. But just doing band work alone won’t give you the same results as the exercises that I listed above. There’s always a better & more effective way!