Monday, November 30, 2015

Learn the Mind-Muscle Connection for Better Progress


What is the mind-muscle connection?

Your body does only what your mind tells it to do. And only what the mind believes it can do. Your mind controls your muscles through your central nervous system (CNS).

Any activity, fitness or otherwise, means training your muscles and your central nervous system. At first you have to think about it. Remember learning to ride a bike? Or even getting a spoonful of food into your mouth without getting it all over your face?

But with repetition and practice it begins to happen automatically without conscious thought. “Practice makes perfect”. But, of course, it should be “Perfect Practice makes perfect”. Eventually, the CNS takes over completely.

The body, of course, has musculoskeletal limits. So how do advance power lifters continue to make progress in strength after years of doing the same thing?
The CNS gets more and more efficient at recruiting more and more muscle fibers.

When you were a beginning lifter you probably saw more gains in strength and size than you will ever see again. Most of those out sized gains came from your CNS and muscles learning together at the same time. Remember how you struggled with the bike for so many hours? Then, suddenly, you were racing full speed! It’s the same thing.
 Related Article "Mind over Muscle"

How do you improve the mind muscle- connection?
Perfect Practice.

Each movement (exercise) should be targeting one muscle or one group of muscles. Accessory or supporting muscles shouldn’t be any more involved in the movement than absolutely necessary.

We’ve all seen the guy (or girl) doing bicep curls by swinging his whole body back and forth. He’s doing little or nothing to strengthen or grow his biceps. Then he wonders why his biceps won’t grow. (Plus, he looks like a tool and he’s impressing  no one).

The best way to establish the mind –muscle connection is concentration. Don’t think about moving the weight. Think about contracting the muscle.
The more you concentrate on contracting the muscle the more muscle fibers your CNS will recruit. The higher the number of muscle fibers recruited the higher number of muscle fibers that will grow.

EMG studies( Electromyograchy- measures electrical activity in a muscle) have shown that when subjects are simply told to focus on using a specific muscle before performing a movement, they call upon a higher percentage of those fibers and fewer accessory fibers. With resistance training, your body is able to call upon more motor units to produce more force over time.
Another way to increase the focus on the muscle is tempo. Increase the time you raise and lower the weight and squeeze the contraction hard.

A third suggestion, don't even count reps. Keep all your focus on the muscle, not the reps. Just continue the set until you reach technical muscle failure (your can't do another rep and still maintain good form).
No matter how long you’ve been training,  use this. It will soon become a habit just like riding a bike.

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Friday, November 27, 2015

How I feel after Thanksgiving

Is this how you feel after Thanksgiving??
Beware the leftovers!

Would you believe 2414 kcal...just at dinner?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Best Way to Warm Up Before Resistance Training


Common advice for warming up is to hop on some cardio apparatus or another and ride that for 15 minutes or so until you break a sweat. (Breaking a sweat raises your core temperature and warms up your muscles) That’s hardly efficient use of your limited workout time. If you watch most people, they seem to be under the impression that they have to warm up before they start doing their warm-up.
They’ll walk slowly on the treadmill for ten or fifteen minutes before they ever go up to a speed or resistance that’s required to get them to actually warm up!

Stop it! You’re paying for this and spending your valuable time so stop wasting it. Use the time to do something that actually helps. If your warm up takes more than 8-10 minutes (preferably less) you're doing it wrong!

If you insist on using cardio, get on the apparatus, set the resistance on high and go to work. Don’t use the recumbent bike, or treadmill or stair master. Use something that’s going to use your entire body. That’s usually the rowing machine or the bikes that require you to use both upper and lower body. (There are several different types).

And spend as little time as possible doing the cardio. any cardio beyond what is needed to warm up, when it precedes resistance training, actually lowers you capacity for resistance training. If you insist on doing cardio for anything besides a short warm up do it after your resistance training or on a different day.

Better yet, warm up the muscles you are actually going to be using. If your first set is squats, get under the bar with light weights or even just the bar itself and start squatting. Do three or more warm up sets with progressively more weight as you work up to your “working sets”.

When you move on the next muscle group, rinse and repeat.

Warming up with the actual movements you’ll be using also primes your central nervous system for your working sets. For advanced lifters, most advances in strength come more from honing the central nervous system than the muscles themselves. After a certain point, the central nervous system makes up the majority of the gains.

I’ve seen people warm up and stretch for half an hour or more before ever doing any work that was actually going to accomplish anything.

The effectiveness of any training program is directly related to the effort you put into it. If a program “doesn’t work” it’s probably because you’re half-assing it.
Effort trumps everything…
                                                            Dani and Chris Shugart

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Monday, November 23, 2015

The 5 Most Awesome People in the Gym

BY Chris Shugart-T-Nation 2/17/15
1.  Elderly People
They're older than Moses and they're still lifting weights and kicking ass. These guys and gals rock. Pray that you get to be one of them someday.
2.  The Quiet Beasts
These big guys are all business. They get in, work hard, and get out. They're always helpful when asked (but not during a set, Talkers!) but will never bug others with unsolicited advice.
3.  Women Who Kick Ass
While most men these days are sipping soy lattes and making a hobby out of being self-righteously offended by every little thing, women in their 30's seem to have become the new gym bad-asses.
They often train harder and smarter than the guys in the 20s and have all the delicious muscle to prove it. "You train like a girl" has become a compliment these days.
4.  Fat People
They've overcome their embarrassment of being in a gym with fitter people. They've decided to make a change. For that, they deserve all the support we can give them.
5.  Injured and Disabled People
Want some motivation? Check out the guy in the wheelchair getting shit done. Now take a look at the woman with her arm in a sling doubling up on lower body work.
Amit Sapir had three surgeries while training to break the world squat record. He'd simply train as best he could while recovering, sometimes training just one side of his body at a time. Just a few weeks after his last surgery, he hit 722 pounds on the raw squat.
What's your excuse?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Train Your Puny Calves

Don't forget the giveaway of a USD$25 gift card from ends on Friday.


For many people, the calf muscle is the most difficult to train. It’s harder to make the calf muscle grow and harder to strengthen it.

There are several reasons the calf muscle is hard to improve:


Yes, the old excuse of blaming the problem on your parents sometimes holds true. My daughter had four knee surgeries by her late thirties. She got that from me.
I wore corrective shoes until I was six years old and have had three knee surgeries myself.

But there is a saying that says “Genetics may load the gun but you don’t have to pull the trigger and then reload twice”, meaning that many genetic challenges can be overcome if you don’t use it as an excuse. It just means you have to work a little harder than some.

I’ll be honest; I have to put myself in the category of not working as hard as I could have on my lagging calves.

Calves Have a Very Short Range of Motion

Having a short range of motion (ROM), the calves don’t spend as much “time under tension” (TUT) for each rep you do as most other muscles. Compare the calves to the range of motion of your quads or biceps. ROM for quads and biceps can be measured in feet. ROM for your calves is measured in inches.

The Achilles Tendon

The Achilles tendon does a large part of the work for any movement of the ankle joint. It’s designed that way. It’s more efficient. It enables humans to do a tremendous amount of walking without exhausting the calf muscle and the rest of the leg. In very quick movements, the way most people exercise their calves, the Achilles tendon takes on almost the entire work load.  It’s called “stretch-reflex” and the purpose is to protect the calf muscle from tears.

Adaptive Response

“Adaptive- response” simply means that you body will quickly respond to any new stimuli by getting stronger or bigger or both. Any new growth in size or strength requires that stimuli be greater than what the muscle is already accustomed to. And the calves are accustomed to very heavy stimuli.

Your calves support you full body weight whenever you are walking or standing. Usually for several hours almost every day of your life since you graduated from “rug-rat” to “toddler”. Every time you take a step you are pushing your entire body weight on one foot. Do you really think two or three quick sets of 10-12 reps are going to make them grow?

Before we talk about solutions, a quick anatomy lesson…..

We’re actually talking about two muscles. The Gastrocnemius, which is visible from the rear of the leg and has 2 heads. And the Soleus, which runs underneath the Gastrocnemius but is partly visible on the outside surface of the lower leg.


The solutions for the Genetic issue and the Adaptive-Response issue are actually the same; More work!

More sets, more reps, more weight, more exercises and more often.

·        Remember how much weight your calves push every time you take a step? Move as much weight as you can handle with a full range of motion
·        Remember; volume is the key (weight x sets x reps). Sets should be a minimum of 4 to 6 and reps should be 12 to 20
·        Do seated calf raise, standing calf raise, donkey raises and calf extensions on leg press. Switch up the exercises and alternate sets with toes turned out and toes straight ahead.

·        Work the calves daily or as often as you can. The calf muscle is nearly impossible to over train. Remember how much work they do simply by walking.

Extend the Time Under Tension and Stretch Reflex Issues

·        Raise and lower the weight slowly. No jerking the weight up or letting it drop. Raising the weight in a fast jerking motion is what activates the Stretch-Reflex and puts the Achilles tendon in play taking stimulus off the calf muscle.
·        Hold a 2 second stretch at the bottom and a 2 second contraction at the top
·        On the last rep of each set hold the contraction for a full 10-20 seconds

If this sounds brutal, it is. It just depends on how bad you want to get rid of those puny calves.

Oh, I almost forgot the most important rule of all!

Don't skip leg day!

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Calling All Walkers, Joggers and Runners

(And Cardio Queens and Kings)

Remember the old saying “You can always tell a (fill in the blank) girl. But you cannot tell them much!”

Walkers, joggers and runners fall into the same category. Some people love it and even become addicted to it. Jogging and running, in particular, release endorphins in the brain that stimulate feelings of pleasure. Just like nicotine or sex.  

Far be it from me to try to deprive anyone of pleasure. And they are all good for you. You’ll have a hard time convincing me that (almost) any kind of movement isn’t better than lying or sitting around watching “Dancing with the Has Beens” eating KFC.   If you walk, jog or run outside, all the better.  You’re moving. You’re working your heart muscle and your respiratory system. You’re using your muscles. And you’re burning calories.

But if you are walking, jogging or running to burn FAT, you may be wasting your time.  The same holds true for treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical and Stairmasters.

Your body has a priority system for burning fat and steady-state cardio is nowhere near the top of the list. Steady-state cardio is moving at the same low speed or same level of exertion for extended periods of time. For example: If you walk or run on a treadmill at a slow to moderate speed at a steady pace you will burn calories but burn little or NO fat for at least thirty minutes! How much free time do you have for your workouts? The less time you have available to train the more you need to prioritize your fat loss.

Alwyn Cosgrove co-authored nine best-selling fitness books and is a member of the Nike Performance Council. Alwyn co-owns Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, California, which was named one of the top ten gyms in America by Men’s Health and Women’s Health magazines. Alwyn’s formal academic studies are in Sports Performance at West Lothian College and an honors degree in Sports Science a West Lothian College, the University of Liverpool.
Alwyn breaks it down this way:
Here are your body’s priorities for fat loss in descending order of importance:

1.     Nutrition. You cannot out train a poor diet. You have to create a calorie deficit and get sufficient amounts of protein, carbs and good fats.

2.     Forms of exercise that burn calories and promote increase in muscle mass and elevate metabolism-Strength training

3.     Forms of exercise that burn calories and elevate metabolism-High Intensity Aerobic Training

4.     Forms of exercise that burn calories but don’t necessarily promote increased muscle mass or elevate metabolism-Low Intensity (Steady State) aerobic Training

Given the fact that most people have a limited amount of time to devote to their workouts, your time should be broken down this way:

§  If you are working out for 3-4 hours a week, you should focus solely on resistance training
§  If you are working out 4-6 hours a week, you should focus on both resistance training and high intensity anaerobic interval training
§  If you are working out 6-8 hours a week, you could then include high intensity aerobic training (running)
§  Only if you are working out more than 8 hours a week should you include low intensity aerobic training (walking/jogging)

If you are trying to lose "belly fat" go back and read what Johns-Hopkins Medicine says in yesterday's article.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Goal is to Fit Under an Umbrella

If this is you, You're doing it wrong!

What is your Waist Size. Knowing could Save Your Life

I often try to keep articles on the lighter side. But this is important. Read this!

Knowing could save your life

I don’t mean your pants size!

What is the size in inches measured just above your hip bone?

Is the tissue there fairly firm? Can you pinch it easily?

We’re talking about visceral fat (commonly called “belly fat”). Not the subcutaneous fat that may cover other parts of your body. (Your belly may have some of both)

When you lose weight, Subcutaneous fat is usually lost in layers (sort of like an onion). This is one reason you may lose weight in your face or arms, for example, but still not lose fat around your waist. Subcutaneous fat lies just below the skin. In layers.

Visceral fat, on the other hand can be the last to go. You may even see fairly thin people still have large amounts of belly fat. It’s the last to go because it is not on the surface.
 It is housed deep in your body and surrounds many of your vital organs. That’s what makes visceral fat far more dangerous.

All of what follows is information directly from Johns Hopkins

·        Visceral fat is just as dangerous to your health as high blood pressure or smoking!

·        Fat around the belly makes you more likely to have a heart attack. It also makes you more likely to have a stroke. These are the leading causes of death in diabetes. This type of fat makes it hard for your body to use its own insulin (“insulin resistance”). And, it may even lead to certain cancers.

·         Deep belly fat is a problem in healthy adults. It makes it harder for the body to use insulin well (causes “insulin resistance”). This often leads to type 2 diabetes.

·        Here is what we found in one study at Johns Hopkins. Take a man with a big waist size (over 40 inches). Compare him to a man with a small waist size (29 – 34 inches). The man with the big waist is 12 times more likely to have diabetes.

Women are not exempt
·        You may be more likely to get health problems from this kind of belly fat if: • You waist is more than 40 inches if you are a woman • Your waist is more than 35 inches if you are a man.

·        Diet alone is not enough to reduce deep belly fat. A study looked at the effect of diet and exercise. The study had 33 older women take part in it. They were all obese and had type 2 diabetes. It looked at 3 ways to lose weight: a low-calorie diet; a low-calorie diet plus walking for 50 minutes 3 times a week, used as exercise; or just walking. This lasted for 14 weeks. The low-calorie diet did not work on belly fat. But, diet plus exercise (walking) did. And, just the exercise (walking) worked too. Those two groups lost about the same amount of belly fat

·        Exercise is key to prevent and lose belly fat. Here is what the first major study found (published in 2005 in the Journal of Applied Physiology). There were 175 people who took part in this first study. These were people who did not do exercise. They were all overweight. They were put into 1 of 4 groups: a no-exercise group; or 1 of 3 exercise groups. After just 6 months, there were differences in belly fat. Those in the no-exercise group gained more belly fat. But not the people in the exercise groups. They were able to prevent or lose belly fat.

·        Include both aerobic and resistance exercise

 Exercise is the key to fighting deep belly fat. But, what is the best exercise plan? According to the experts, your best bet is to combine two types. They are: • Aerobic exercise • Strength training (also called “resistance training”) such as weight lifting. A 6-month study was done at Johns Hopkins. The people who took part in it were 104 men and women. They walked on a treadmill or cycled, plus they did strength training. They lost an average of less than 5 pounds of weight on the scale. But, they lost about 18 percent of their belly fat. This is measured using MRI (“magnetic resonance imaging”).
Those in the no-exercise group lost no belly fat. (Diet only)

The ADA has a plan for you if you have diabetes. It is based on what we now know about both types of exercise. They recommend:
• Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, for at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week
• Strength training 3 times a week that targets all major muscle groups.

Check with your doctor before you start a new exercise plan. See your doctor first if you have not exercised before.

The message on deep belly fat is clear.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Alpha Edge Fitness Givaway


We’re going to start the week with a giveaway of a USD$25 gift card to

Entry to win the USD$25 gift card

1.     Go to and click on the logo on the right margin.
2.     Browse and pick any item you’d like
3.     Email me at or leave a comment with the one item you’d most like to have and you’ll be registering for one entry to win
4.     If the item you choose is fitness related you will entered for a second chance to win

·        You must enter by 5 PM Eastern Standard Time on Friday, November 20, 2015
·        The winner of the gift card will be chosen at random and will be announced on Monday, November 23, 2015
·        The gift card will be emailed to you on Monday, November 23, 2015

The winner’s gift card can be redeemed at using the logo on the site.

You can use the gift card to purchase any of the millions of item on You do not have to order a fitness item or the item you mentioned in your entry.

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

More "Bull" from the Media


About two weeks ago the media reported that the World Health Organization (the public health arm of the United Nations) stated that “red meat probably causes cancer.”

The media, as has become the norm lately, blew the results out of all proportion. Red meat is classified as Group 2A.  The World Health Organization’s definition of Group 2A is as follows.

Group 2A: The agent is probably carcinogenic to humans. This category is used when there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. Limited evidence means that a positive association has been observed between exposure to the agent and cancer but that other explanations for the observations (technically termed chance, bias, or confounding) could not be ruled out

Some of the other items that fall into Group 2A include:

·        Working as a hairdresser or barber
·        Doing  shift work (your circadian rhythms are disrupted)
·        Having a wood burning fireplace

I’m not telling you to eat red meat or not eat red meat.  I don’t care if your eat beef, lamb, goat or horse meat vs chicken, turkey or sea food.

What I’m telling you is don’t fall for misleading information. It doesn’t matter whether it comes for the scam artist or the mainstream media. It’s still snake oil.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Ultimate Guide to Fitness Nutrition (or not)

(or not)

I received this content in an email a few days ago from Dr. Mike Nelson. 
Director of Education, MPI
Editorial Board Member, STRONG Fitness Magazine

He, in turn, took it from the facebook page of Dr.James Heathers.
Dr. Heathers is a research scientist, author and consultant working in electrocardiography, biological psychology and mHealth. He's presently an Endeavour Research Fellow visiting the Poznan University of Medical Science (it’s in Poland).


Seriously this is the best thing I have read this year on nutrition.

And you will either love this or hate it.

Sit back, grab some coffee, and continue on dear reader.

“Grains should be at the center of your diet.
Grains are literally poisonous.

Butter is terrible. Butter is OK. Butter should be encouraged. Butter should be in your coffee!

Protein is bad for your kidneys. Protein is essential at every meal. Protein is overrated. You only need 0.8g per lb. Or 1g per lb. Or 2.5g/lb. Or 30% of your daily intake. Or it'll kill you. It'll eat your bones, and acidify your blood. Buy a scale. Buy two.

Milk isn’t natural. Milk isn’t wholesome. Milk is part of a balanced diet. Raw milk is part of a balanced diet. You need it when you’re pregnant. Just don’t let it near your children!

Salt is a vital nutrient. Salt will raise your blood pressure and hospitalise you.

Legumes are hard to digest, avoid them. Or eat a lot of them, they’re high in fiber and protein. Whole countries run on legumes! If only they knew about the lectins, poor fools…

Eat nothing but vegetables. Eat mostly plants. But don’t get too many carbs – only eat the low-carb non-starchy vegetables. Eat all the vegetables which aren’t potatoes. Eat only the cruciferous vegetables. And, uh, yams.

Sugar is addictive. Sugar is a harmless foodstuff. Sugar is fine in moderation. Fruit has sugar – good! Or is it bad? Watch out for pesticides.

Moderate drinkers outlive teetotallers. Alcohol will ruin your fat-loss goals. Everything except grape-based liquors aren’t paleo. Beer is the devil.

Gluten literally causes rising sea levels, bad network programming, and is partially responsible for the ongoing success and irritating longevity of Donald Trump.
(OK, that one is made up.)

And while we’re at it: being fat is desirable, being thin is unhealthy, did you know that studies prove skinny people die sooner, being fat is a moral failing, being fat is ugly, being fat is society’s mistake, thinness is a slippery slope to anorexia, people have no control over whether or not they’re fat, strong is the new sexy, it is both easier than you ever imagined and literally impossible to lose weight, obesity is largely the province of people living in bad environments, ‘nothing tastes as good at thin feels’, obesity is caused by the influence of major corporations in the food supply, restrictive diets are the only way, restrictive diets are behavioral training for eating disorders…

Oh, and the following things are poisonous:
GMO foods, ‘toxins’, anything your grandmother couldn’t pronounce, non-biodynamic produce, feedlot-raised meat, farmed fish (nutrients!), wild fish (mercury!), ALL meat, ALL grain and grain-based products, ANYTHING that comes in a packet, ANYTHING made by a company, ANYTHING that is ‘processed’, and ANYTHING that is bad food, unclean, sinful, naughty, a guilty pleasure, “no-nos”, a wicked treat, or a ‘cheat’ meal.

Instead, eat clean, eat natural, eat real, eat 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 10 meals a day, buy organic, eat healthy, eat traditional, eat slow, embrace tradition, try new things, chew your foods, get liquid calories, prepare meals from whole foods only, shop at farmer’s markets, eat local, eat aware, eat in not out, and eat in moderation.
Try all this for 24 hours, 5 days, 2 weeks, 8 weeks, until summer, until June 21st, after January 1st, and all-year round. Be vigilant, be huge, be lean, be slim, be fabulous, be ‘Red Carpet’, be successful, be massive, be jacked, be ripped, be cut, be sliced, be back to your pre-baby weight, and AT NO POINT IN TIME SHOULD YOU FORGET TO BE CONFUSED AND AFRAID.

NOW, BUY OUR SHIT”  --James Heathers, PhD

No wonder people are confused!


Monday, November 9, 2015

Dr. Oz Diet Pill

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N.E.A.T. is an acronym for "Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis". That simply means the energy your body burns, not by exercise, but by your simple everyday movements....walking, standing up, eating, working in the yard, even figeting and talking.

N.E.A.T. is not all about your genetics or your metabolism. It's often simpler than that. 

Studies have shown that obese people "move" an average of 2.5 hours less per day than lean people! Which means obese people burn an average of 350 calories less per day than lean people.

Now you're probably thinking 350 calories per day is not a big deal. Let's do the math:
  • One pound of body weight ( fat and muscle) is 3500 calories
  • 3500 per pound divided by 350 equals one pound every 10 days
  • One pound every 10 days is 36 pounds per year!
Still think it's no big deal?

Exercise works better but if you're determined to keep using all those same old lame excuses,
Your Excuse is Invalid (article) at least move more in your daily activities. 
  1. Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  2. Stand more instead of sitting
  3. Stand up and walk around at least once an hour ( Your shoulders, back, hips and legs will thank you too)
  4. Rake the leaves
  5. Walk your dog more. He'll thank you too.
  6. Play with your kids or grand kids more
Notice that the things I mentioned not only help you with your weight problem but also improve your quality of life in general. There are dozens more. Use your imagination!

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