Friday, May 20, 2016

What Company or Organization has made the biggest Contribution to the Fitness Industry?


One of the questions on the survey was;

 “What company or organization has made the biggest contribution to the fitness industry in the last ten years?”


(I'll catch hell for this but what can I say?)


Thursday, May 19, 2016

When You Focus on Everything, You Focus on Nothing


I can't, for the life of me remember who first said it. Bruce Lee,Arnold, Aristotle, Tiny Tim?
If you know, let me know.

Anyway, I was reminded of it lately by Aadam at
Aadam brought up a story in The Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance about a young college student who was required to write a 500 word essay. It could be on any subject she chose. She chose, as her subject, The United States.

A week later she had written nothing. Her professor told her to narrow her focus to a single state or even a small town. Still, she got nowhere.

Beginning to lose his patience, the professor told her to focus only on the front facade of the local historic opera house. Not only that, but she was told to focus only on the single brick in the upper left hand corner of  the opera house as a starting point!

A week later she turned in a 5000 word essay instead of the required 500 words.

By trying to focus on everything she was focusing on nothing. This is a perfect analogy for fitness goals.

It’s great that you’ve made the decision to improve you health, to get more exercise, to lose weight or whatever your goal may be. But you can’t do it all at once and it won’t happen overnight. It’s admirable that you have enthusiasm. But you need to focus that enthusiasm.

As Aadam puts it; You need to find your own “upper left-hand brick”.

Matts Rehnstrom (A business writer) points out that are two kinds of work to be done; Process and Project

Process work, the things that fit the overall goals need to be done to keep the job moving (think keeping the plant operating). If the process breaks down it’s unlikely that Projects will be completed either.

Getting fit is a process. Learn to love the process and the results will come.

Project goals are more specific.Generalization won’t cut it. You will fail!

"Lose Weight" is not a goal. It’s a wish. It doesn’t become a goal until you (1)specify how much and(2) by when and (3) exactly how you plan to do it.

"Get Healthier" is not a goal. It’s just a wish until you set parameters of how and when and have a plan to accomplish it. Wishes are useless. My dad used to say “Wish in one hand and pee in the other and see which one fills up fastest”.

I can go on with every goal you can name, fitness or otherwise.
And if you want to turn a wish into a goal it has to be realistic.

Find your upper left-hand brick and build from there. Pick your first goal (not wish) and build from there. (Hint: In fitness, it’s usually nutrition)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Hypertrophy is the Holy Grail


In October of last year I did an article entitled I Train BodyBuilders. (click on the title to read it). Alexander Juan and Antonio Cortes at take it a few steps farther. Well worth the 5 minute read if you're unsure of what your fitness goals should focus on.

Everyone needs to be more muscular. Everyone. That's every personal trainer’s answer to what the “best” way is to train someone. Get them more muscular, as muscular as they can possibly be. Grossly oversimplified? There's no doubt it sounds that way, but hear me out.
Everyone has different desires, but their needs are all the same.
There exists certain paradigms within the personal training industry, one of the foremost being “Listen to people's goals.” This is very heavily emphasized in various articles and training textbooks and often gets discussed in industry content stuff. That said, I used to think this way as well...that everyone’s “goals” were the ultimate driver of how I should train them. After so many years and so many clients though, I began to realize something: despite everyone having different goals, their actual training needs were all similar or the same.
To illustrate, these are the most commonly expressed “goals” of personal training clients:
  • Improve my fitness (but he or she has no actual definition of what this is)
  • Lose body fat (fortunately hypertrophy-centric metabolic training is most effective for this)
  • Move better (having more muscle enables you to move better)
  • Increase flexibility (using a full range of motion when lifting and static stretching does this quite well)
  • Look more toned (i.e. build some muscle)
  • Be more defined (again, build some muscle)
  • Improve my energy (being more muscular and stronger means that the same activities are less taxing on the body)
  • Feel better about my body's cosmetic appearance (building more muscle improves this)
  • Tone up/flatten/tighten up X body part (get it more muscular)
  • Feel less weak (more muscle means you're stronger and you don't feel weak)
  • Improve my running (i.e. I've never strength trained before but more muscular legs and stronger legs will help this)
  • Improve my balance (more muscular legs equals stronger legs equals better balance)
  • Improve my posture (grow back muscle and train the back and this improves)
  • Correct XYZ (in every case, what needed corrected needed muscle)
  • Build some muscle (this one is straightforward)
I could list many variations of this, but the theme remains the same. Practically every “goal” that you will ever hear a general population individual express is solved by training him or her expressly for hypertrophy.
Over time, I gradually shifted away from the industry trends of “functional” training, “strength” training, “performance” training and so on and so forth. Instead, I reconsidered muscle and hypertrophy as the foundation for everything that is movement and athleticism. This may seem overly reductionist given my background in dance, but I view it as a thought experiment. If the human body had no muscle, would it be able to move? No.

If one accepts that premise, the absolute first priority of training is the development of muscle and its functionality. Your eyes are controlled by muscles. Your ability to crawl, walk, run, lift, defecate and speak are possible only because of muscle tissue. And health? Increased lean body mass from exercising correlates with so many improved markers of health that it would be silly to list them all.
If you are muscular and exercise, science “says” that you’re more likely to live longer, move better, not fall ill to degenerative diseases, have a greater quality of life, not get dementia or neurological decline, have a far greater quality of life and have less incidence of diabetes, cancers, heart disease and infection. The list goes on and on.

So what does that mean for training people? I train everyone like bodybuilders. Cue everyone reading this to burst a blood vessel.
Bodybuilding training should be the foundation of training and something that every trainer learns and practices himself along with his clients. Why?
  • It develops kinesthetic/proprioceptive awareness.
  • It's an application of functional anatomy.
  • It's applied understanding of exercise and technique.
  • Higher reps develop the oxidative capacity of muscle and improves blood flow along with a host of other associated health benefits.
  • An increase in lean muscle improves both general movement and cosmetic appearance.
  • If you don’t get more muscular, the training isn’t working.
The arguments against this will be that training like a bodybuilder isn’t “functional” and that these kinds of “workouts” demand machines. Some will also argue I'm implying that only isolation exercise are to be used. Maybe they’ll bring up “non-functional hypertrophy" or something about “getting people stronger." These assumptions are wrong and indicative that someone has little to no comprehensive understanding of how to train someone or how biology works let alone exercise. No one without muscle is strong either. Period.
If one accepts the idea that muscle is important and that it's the foundation of movement and every expression thereof, any training that promotes muscular growth can be considered “bodybuilding.” The criteria beyond that would be determining which manner of training promotes more muscle growth compared to others (high reps > low reps) and what is most sustainable over the long term, which is another article for another time.
Call this enlightened bodybuilding if you want, but that is what I mean when I say that I train my clients like bodybuilders. I train them to constantly be more muscular. Relative to all their “goals,” they all end up being fulfilled.
Muscle is the answer, and bodybuilding is the way.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

How Often Should You Weigh Yourself?


If it were left up to me, the answer would probably be never.  Scales have probably been the cause of more people giving up on their fitness goals, especially the goal of losing weight, than any other single reason. Scales Lie!

I wrote an article last year entitled Throw Away Your Scales Please, if you never read anything else, click on the title and read it or read it again. Although that article got one of the highest number of page views to date, I still have people complain that they just can't seem to get the number on the scales to go down.

Of course you need to track progress. But scales are possibly the worst way to do it.That's what the previous article is all about.

If you have an irresistible urge to punish yourself and step on the scales, whatever you do, don't do it daily! I did a little experiment with scales last week. Using the same commercial grade digital scales at my gym, I weighed every day before my workout and at roughly the same time of day.

Here are the results:

Friday- I had a doctor's appointment before my workout. They checked my weight on digital scales-206.0
Saturday- I was at a gym in Lakeland which has balance scales-210.5
(By the way, my macro's track very close, usually within about 5% to set goals, almost every day.

Why would you want to put yourself through that?

If you insist on using scales don't weigh yourself any more than once a week-preferably every two weeks or more.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Why I'm Not a Fan of Upper/Lower Splits


An oversimplified definition of an upper/lower split simply means working muscles or muscle groups below the waist one day and muscles or muscle groups above the waist the next day.

Keep in mind that this is a personal opinion. Millions of people swear by them including pros and coaches and other trainers. So, before you drop an upper/lower split or shy away from an upper/lower program, see if my reasoning and experience with upper/lower splits  fits your situation. You may find they work great for you.

My issues with upper/lower splits fall into two categories; physiological and psychological


The muscles of the lower body are, as a whole, the largest in the human body (quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves) and some(like the calves) are some of the hardest to train. And all need to be trained heavy and hard to see progress. Blasting you lower body correctly for 60 to 75 minutes in a single workout consumes a lot of energy. It also takes a heavy toll on your central nervous system and your endocrine system. The larger muscles of the leg normally take longer to recover anyway.

Do you feel totally recovered the next day for your upper body workout? If not, you’re short changing half of your workouts. Do you have the energy to give your upper body the intensity you need to? Or are you still dragging a little from the lower body workout?


How’s your mental state on leg day? Are you dreading it? Do excuses come a little too easy on leg day? How often do you find an excuse to skip it? Everyone has a life outside the gym. But does life seem to get in the way more often on leg day? Funny how it seems to work out that way, isn’t it?

When was the last time you skipped “Arm Day”?

I’m not trying to talk you out of using an upper/lower split program. An upper/lower split can be extremely effective for some people. I simply want you to pay attention to the signs I’ve found indicating an upper/lower split may not be the most effective split for you.

Here are a couple of ideas if you recognize any of the symptoms I mentioned:

  • Try to work in an extra day of rest after your lower body workout. (active rest)
  • As an alternative, split up you lower body day into two workouts. You’ll probably find you can actually get in more volume this way and still not burn out your CNS. (Central Nervous System)
  • Pair up you leg workouts with another body part you really enjoy. (arms, for example) You’ll probably find you’ll be less likely to skip “leg days”.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

I Got Busted!


I got busted for having my phone out in the gym.

The picture was taken by a friend of mine at my home gym to get even with me for ragging him all the time about having his cell phone out while working out.

Actually, he logs his workouts on his phone but that little detail doesn't stop me from constantly telling him he needs to lift something heavier than his Iphone.

In my defense, I was finished with my workout when the picture was taken and was checking for a message from my doctor's office about rescheduling an appointment. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Does Fasted Cardio Work for Fat Loss?


There has been a lot of chatter lately about supposed benefits of doing fasted cardio for fat loss.

People believe that cardio, performed without eating prior to the workout, means less available energy to power the workout thus leading to the breakdown of fat to power the workout.

While this sounds logical and is true, to a certain extent, it’s not the whole story.

1.     It’s well established that when you are in a fasted state, especially in the morning when you’ve been fasting for several hours, your capacity for work is decreased as well as your mental tolerance for physical activity. The result will be less effective training sessions.

2.     You do, in fact, burn more stored fat during the workout. But permanent fat loss for the long term is not about how much fat you burn during the workout, but rather, about what happens as a result of the workout over the next 24 hours.

3.     Your body’s preference is to hold on to fat as a fuel of last resort. So, while you may burn fat while in a fasted state, you’ll also burn muscle. The long term result of burning muscle for fuel is a slowing of your metabolism making it more likely you’ll gain the fat back.

4.     Research indicates that while you may burn more fat during the exercise period, you burn significantly less fat in the 24 hour period following the exercise.

The conclusion drawn from the study: “When moderate endurance activity is done to lose fat, fasting before exercise does not increase lipid utilization; rather, physical activity after a light meal is advisable”. Paoli, et al (2011)

In short, fasted cardio doesn’t work for long term fat loss.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Should You Be Using a Pre-workout Supplement?


First let’s determine what is in pre-workout supplements and whether or not you need those ingredients and whether or not your body can use them.

If you look at a dozen different pre-work out supplements you’ll probably find a dozen different formulas with many of the ingredients difficult or impossible to pronounce. Don’t get confused over all this. Much of it is often just marketing mumbo-jumbo.

There are only five ingredients you should be concerned with. Anything above that may be “effective” but the benefit is probably not worth the price. Any ingredient only has to be marginally beneficial to be labeled “effective”.

I’m going to be different (just because) and start at the bottom of the list in terms of pre-workout effectiveness. Just because an ingredient is at the bottom of the list of five doesn’t mean it’s necessarily ineffective. It may mean there is simply a better, more effective way to get that ingredient.

By the way, never, ever buy any supplement labeled as a “Proprietary Blend”. That means they don’t want you to know what’s in it!


A big word that simply means they have the effect of dilating your blood vessels allowing for increased blood flow by increasing the nitric oxide in your bloodstream. Common sources (ingredients) are L-Arginine, L-Citrulline and Beetroot.
Do they work? Maybe-maybe not. The problem is nitric oxide works for some people and not at all for others.

4.Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine is one of the most studied and researched ingredients ever. There is no doubt that Creatine is very effective and safe.
Creatine helps saturate your muscle cells with the fuel needed for your workout.
It’s lower on the list only because there is little or no research showing Creatine is any more effective pre-workout than any other time of day. When you use Creatine seems to make little difference.
The other reason Creatine is low on the list is that it’s cheap and recommended dosage is very small. (5 mg a day-about one teaspoon). By itself, 1000 grams (about a year’s supply) will cost you about $15.00. (About $0.075 per day)


Beta-Alanine  works by buffering Hydrogen Ions (Hydrogen Ions are what causes the burning discomfort in the muscle as you fatique) giving you the ability to keep your intensity up for longer periods of time. Higher intensity means more volume which means better gains.
Beta Alanine is on the lower end of the list, again, because it doesn’t matter whether or not you use it pre-workout or at some other time during the day.

2.BCAA’s (Branch Chain Amino Acids)

BCAA’s regulate protein metabolism, increase protein synthesis, and suppress protein breakdown. BCAA’s may also reduce muscle soreness. Consuming BCAA’s before your workout is the most effective time.
However, BCAA’s are usually not necessary in supplement form if one is consuming sufficient protein in their diet. (About 1 gram per pound of body weight)

That brings us to the number one ingredient in pre-workout formulas and the most effective;


Caffeine acts as a stimulant on the central nervous system. Not only does caffeine make you more alert, it also lessens the perception of pain/discomfort. That means you can exercise longer and harder with the help of caffeine.
Caffeine positively affects endurance by delaying fatigue. It allows you to perform a harder more demanding workout without feeling it.
Some people believe caffeine aids in fat burning. But, alas, there is no evidence of this.
Caffeine does not provide energy. It merely stimulates you. It is not a substitute for actual energy provided by nutrients in food.
How much caffeine? Caffeine affects people very differently. You’ll have to find your proper dosage by trial and error. Typically, about 1 mg per pound of body weight comes close. If you are a heavy coffee drinker already, it will take more. Eight ounces of regular brewed coffee contains between 97 and 200 mg of caffeine.

So, should you be using a pre-workout supplement?

 You have to decide. Most contain ingredients that you can get elsewhere (including a balanced diet). Some ingredients can be taken any time of day not just pre-workout.
But maybe you like the convenience of getting all the ingredients in one place. Or maybe you don’t like the taste or the high acid content of coffee.
And if you workout in the evening be aware that the effects of caffeine can last 8 hours or more.

Monday, May 9, 2016

What Are You Struggling With?


Send any questions about exercises, programming, nutrition, supplements, weight loss, ANYTHING.
If I don't have the answer I'll find someone who does!

Just comment below or email me at alphaedgefitness@gmail.

I'll reply privately if you like and do future articles on subjects that have highest interest.
Your questions may help someone else.

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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Motivation Doesn't Work. Here's What Does.....

Here’s What Does….

The first thing people usually say is “I need to find a way to get motivated.” The problem is, motivation only works for a short period if it works at all.

What if I could show you a way to double or triple the odds of you actually starting and sticking to a resolution?

A study by the British Journal of Health Psychology conducted an experiment to find out what gets people to follow through on their fitness goals and resolutions.

The experiment involved three groups:
248 people were randomly divided into 3 groups.

Group 1 (The Control Group)

Group 1 was asked to keep track of how frequently they exercised over a two week period.

Group 2

Group 2 was also asked to keep track of how often they exercised over a two week period. They were then instructed to read a pamphlet on the benefits of exercise as it related to reducing heart disease in people who exercise regularly. The participants were also told, “Most young adults who have stuck to a regular exercise program have found it to be very effective in reducing their chances of developing coronary heart disease.”
The goal was to motivate Group 2 to exercise regularly.

Group 3

Group 3 were also asked to track how often they exercised and were given the same pamphlet and the same speech as Group 2.
However, they were asked to fill out the following: During the next week, I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME OF DAY] at/in [PLACE].

The Results

After 2 weeks
·         In Group 1, 38% of participants exercised at least once per week.
·         In Group 2, 35% of participants exercised at least once per week.
·         In Group 3, an incredible 91% of participants exercised at least once per week.

Simply by writing down a plan Group 3 was almost 3 times as likely to follow through.

And people given motivational information (Group 2) actually performed worse than the control group given no motivation at all.
(There have been almost 100 similar studies and getting similar results.)

Motivation is usually short lived if it works at all. Make a plan.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

4 Rules of Exercise Order


Before we get into the rules, let’s be sure everyone understands the definitions.

Main Lifts

Main lifts are the heavy compound lifts- deadlift, back squat and bench press.
Main lifts come first in the workout when you are less fatigued. A breakdown in form usually comes as a result of fatigue.  And you don’t want a breakdown in form on heavy lifts.
For a power lifter or someone more interested in building strength above all else, the main lifts are their bread and butter; their main order of business. So the main lifts are always performed first.
Even for people more interested in just building muscle, the main lifts are the fastest way to gain muscle mass.


Accessory Lifts

Accessory lifts can be viewed as variations on the main lifts. For example; front squat instead of back squat or incline bench press instead of flat bench press.

Supplemental Lifts (also called Isolation Lifts)

Supplemental lifts are exercises that are designed to bring up lagging muscles or muscle groups.


Technical Lifts

While the “main lifts” could be included in this group, the Olympic style lifts are even more technical; power cleans, clean and jerk, snatch, etc.

Exercise order

·         Main Lifts come before accessory lifts or supplemental lifts
·         Strength (heavy) exercises come before hypertrophy/endurance (light) exercises
·         Compound lifts come before single joint (isolation) exercises
·         More technical lifts come before less technical lifts
·         Accessory lifts come before supplemental lifts

Change up main lifts every 4-12 weeks
Change up accessory lifts every 4-12 weeks
Change up supplemental lifts every 2-8 weeks

But always remember, if something is working, don’t change it. Everything works for a while- until it doesn’t.