Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Don't eat like an enraged glutton

I get a lot of questions regarding nutrition and diet, especially with new clients, people want to know how to eat, or to reaffirm that what they are eating is not crap. This is an imminently frustrating topic for me, because people invariably make excuses ‘I can’t give up my chocolate’, ‘if I eat less bread what will I eat’, ‘I don’t like drinking water’. I have started asking people what they think they should eat, guess what? People have a really good idea about what should be going into their bodies, they just don’t want to commit to the lifestyle change that eating healthy requires.

Sexy, but not what I am talking about

Let’s take a quick look at macronutrients:

First, what are they? Macronutrients are nutrients needed in large amounts as they provide energy for bodily processes (metabolism, growth, life…etc). The three main macronutrients are:




These have received a lot of bad press in the past years because people are looking for an excuse as to why they are fat and weak. There are a myriad of reasons for this, and too many carbs definitely played a role, but too much protein and fat will also make you fat.

Here are some reasons that carbohydrates are pretty great in my book:

  • Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel.
  • Carbohydrates are easily used by the body for energy (they are pretty simple, and require less energy to break down).
  • All of the tissues and cells in our body can use glucose for energy.

  • Carbohydrates can be stored in the muscles and liver and later used for energy.
  • Carbohydrates are mainly found in starchy foods (like grain and potatoes), fruits, milk, and yogurt. Other foods like vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and cottage cheese contain carbohydrates, but in lesser amounts.


Whole grain bread (if it has an expire date later than a couple of days it’s no good), potatoes, muesli for breakfast, oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, NUTS (a good source of healthy fat), fruit, veggies. Eat most of your carbs before the evening, more at breakfast, pre and post training.


You need complete amino acids to build your body; if you are a vegetarian you need to make sure that you are getting all the eight essential amino acids that eating meat supplies the body. If you train hard you should be taking in at least 1g of protein per pound, if you want to gain mass 1.5-2g per pound.

Need for protein

  • Growth
  • Immune function
  • The manufacture of essential hormones and enzymes
  • Energy production when carbohydrates are unavailable (suboptimal and hard on the system)
  • Growing and preserving lean muscle mass


Grass fed beef, wild fish, chicken, eggs, ostrich, diary products (these do increase inflammation responses in the body)

Non animal sources: veggies, nuts, and legumes. Quinoa- the only complete vegetable protein that we know of.


Fats taste good, people eat too much bad fat, and avoid the good fat. Good fat (mono & polyunsaturated), is necessary for many important bodily processes, such as:

  • Normal growth and development
  • Energy (fat is the most concentrated source of energy, which is why it gets stored)
  • Vitamin absorption ( vitamins A, D, E, K, and carotenoids)
  • Maintaining cell membranes
  • Cholesterol management
  • Prevention of heart disease


Good fats come from nuts (almonds, peanuts, pistachios), olive, coconut, and avocado oil. When added to the diet correctly these fats can help to maintain a healthy body weight and even aid in weight loss. Use these oils for cooking, or a bit as a dressing, eat some nuts and fruit as a snack.


The guidelines call for 6-8 8ounce glasses a day. I say that isn’t enough, get 12 in there. Carry a water bottle and haul off that rather than that 5th cup of coffee, or 3rd soda (don’t drink soda, unless you make it yourself, only a bit of coffee).

Don't take his water.

Are you getting the point? Eat food that you know is good for you, if you are unsure then figure it out. If the food label is a mile long it is probably a bad choice. Eat simple ingredients that you can combine to create great meals, stay away from prepackaged crap. Eat more vegetables, fruits, nuts and lean grass fed meat. This is not rocket science, if food is packaged as convenient and fast, and comes frozen, don’t eat it, if you don’t recognize the ingredients, avoid it (unless you have never cooked a thing in your life, then baking powder is a magical mystery to you).

Being healthy is a lifestyle change, you can’t just pop into a gym once every week and plod away on a treadmill for 30 minutes and expect to reap the benefits. You need will and strength training to back that up. This works the same way with food, eating an apple doesn’t mean you are suddenly healthy. You need to eat good food, and drink plenty of water. You need to strength train 3x a week and get some sort of cardiovascular exercise in (I like battle ropes, sled pulling, pushing, and sprints). If you can’t commit to leading a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and eating right you will never get to where you want to be.

Stop making excuses and dedicate yourself to changing your life for the better.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Fitness Machines AKA "Thrones of Death"

There seem to be a lot of people that believe the only way to get strong is to hangout in gyms and bang out massive amounts of repetitions on shiny machines. Cabled monstrosities that isolate muscle groups and teach the nervous system to function incorrectly, build primary movers and ignore stabilizer muscles, machines designed to simplify training and tell the world “It’s ok, you don’t need to try, it’s ok to aspire to mediocrity, come enter my simplified design and proceed to lie to yourself”. I am currently training clients in a corporate gym, I don’t mind the gym, the employees are great and the environment is very positive. What I hate are the machines, row upon row of ‘training machines’ designed to ‘simplify’ and ‘enhance’ the workout experience. Can you get a bit stronger using the machines? Yes. Are they better for you then nothing? Yes, but only marginally. Are they good for people with lots of injuries that have a hard time with real movement (the rehab crowd)? Absolutely. Are they a good substitute for actual movement and real strength building activities? Unequivocally not.

I understand why the globo gyms of the world use machines; people like them. They are pretty simple to use, you can bang out a circuit in 30 minutes and feel good about yourself. You don’t need a trainer, and hordes of people can wait in line to use them, that is what they were designed for; mass use. There is none of the complexity that is involved with real weight training. This sounds pretty great right? Simple, easy to use, quick in and out workouts, mediocre results, muscle imbalances, increased chance of injury in real world activities, never achieving your potential. Are you beginning to get the picture?

What looks like more fun?

<- This Or This ->

Good strength coaches don't use machines and won’t allow the thought of them to enter their gyms, educated trainers don't use machines, people who are strong, fast, athletic and healthy don't machines, I don't use the machines. I have a responsibility to the people I train, to those the read my words. I could spit out advice and sell mediocre programs, and I could probably have five times the client’s that I currently have. Where is the integrity in that? Where is the honor. I will never sell something I do not believe in, I will never write a program or train a client in a way that doesn’t increase their strength, athletic ability, and sense of self. I train people to get them strong, mobile, athletic and fast. Machines have no place in this, only hard work and intelligently designed programs.

So what is so wrong with these machines, so many people use them that there must be something to them, everyone is drinking the strange smelling Kool-Aid, can I have a glass? No, no you can’t.

Machines lock people in and isolate muscle groups, parts of the body that are designed to function as a unit are now reduced to their primary mover. This can add a little strength to the primary mover, but it takes a lot of strength away from the muscles that stabilize and assist the movement.

Machine Press: Look at this poor dude on the right he is sitting in some sort of “Throne of mechanical death”. His legs are not assisting, his back is flat as a European pancake, his elbows are high which is putting all the stress on the front of his shoulders, rather than his chest. The chest press machine (AKA Throne of mechanical death) has taken a full body movement and isolated the front of the shoulders as the muscle used. A true bargain at about 2000$ a machine.

Machine Press: Throne of death Proper Bench: Good Weighted Pushup: Amazing!

Bench Press: In a real honest to god bench press your feet are driving into the floor, your ass and shoulders are locked into the bench, your lower back is arched, your elbows come down the side of your body, your lats are loaded and assisting the lift, and your triceps are driving as hard as they can. Oh yeah, your chest muscles are working hard and your nervous system is working at peak efficiency. Your primary movers are working hard, and your stabilizers are doing their job, this is now a full body lift.

Take a gander at the last picture,

Weighted pushup: That dude has 40-60lbs of chains loaded up, you can add more or less if you want. He is not on a bench, or locked into a ‘Death Throne’, he is using almost every muscle in his body to stabilize the movement. His nervous system is working at peak efficiency, his muscles are cranking hard and the strength he is gaining will carry over to every other aspect of his life.

I love the chain pushups, your body has to work very hard to keep correct form and maintain explosiveness. The Bench press is a great exercise if it is done correctly. Both can build lots of strength, and explosive power. The machine (Throne of Death, remember), can’t do either of these things. There are many other ways it inhibits proper movement patterns, and leads to injury while people are engaged in real world movements, but you don’t want to read 16 pages on that. Bottom line; Machines don’t = fitness. People like to believe that the ‘=’ is in there, but it is not.

Do I worry about alienating other trainers or belittling their methods? Yes, yes I do. I might piss some people off with this post, I might alienate them. A man walks his path, and he doesn’t let convention sway him, he holds to his integrity, and what he knows to be true. I will always hold to my line and path, I will not compromise what I believe because it threatens others methods, or sense of efficacy. I do not tolerate such weak-mindedness in clients (man or woman), and I certainly won’t tolerate it in myself. I teach others the lessons I learned the hard way, in the hopes that it will better their lives. I use physical training as my classroom, and when my people walk away from training with me, I know that the lessons that I teach will help them live their lives in a healthy and forthright manner.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Back home, Killer workout for you!

I am back in Norway! I have a visa and I have started working in a gym again (for the cash money)! It is nice to spend time around new and interesting people, and it is nice to be away from the house, Getting up at 0’dark thirty is not so nice, I’m going to have to get rid of that over the next couple of years. Being back also means training, and training hard. You might have noticed but I like to train outside the gym a bit more than I like to be inside, but when I spend all my time rebuilding my client base I can’t get outside as much as I like to. This means that I adapt my outside workouts to fit the indoors. Try this quick and nasty workout if you are looking for something to blow up your back and shoulders, or if you are tired of doing everything in a straight line (very few things in life happen in straight lines)

~Dynamic Warmup

1a)Push Press (Bar or Heavy Sandbag): 5x5 (I realize this is a straight line)

2a) Pullups: lots

This is the work out right here, use a squat rack and “DO WORK SON”, climb all around that damn thing and do different grip , hands at different height, walking pullup, one arm (or one arm assisted), one hand rope one hand bar, and ballistic pullups. Try for 3-5 each variation, walk your way from one side of the rack to the other, then take a break, keep breaks around 30sec-1 min. I recommend 15-20 minutes of different pulls.

3a) Double Kettlebell swings: 3 L&R x10

3b) Pushups (a hard variation): 3x20

3c) 1 Handed Overhead Sandbag Walks: 3x150ft keep the weight in the palm of your hand straight over your head, switch arms at 75ft. I used a 55lb SB.

Do the 3's as a circuit, go hard and take a 45sec rest at the end of the round.

This workout will make you tired and I can tell you first hand that your back, shoulders, and triceps will be toast the next day!

Enjoy! Post if you have any questions.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Friends , Funerals, and Finding the Path

As I sit down to write this I am in my father’s 220 year old farm house. My feet are up on a green chest that used to hold all our winter gear when we lived on the Mortland farm in Searsport. The wood stove from that farm is here as well and it is just as adept at cranking out heat as it was on cold winter nights in Maine. These small things are reminders that life is cyclical and from whence we came so too do we return in some form or another. There are always differences in these scenes, obviously I am in Vermont and not in Maine, My wife is sitting next to me, one of my good friends is up here with us, and I am 25 and creating the life that I want to lead. If you have been reading my blog you can refer to the previous post to get a sense of what is going on. The other difference, the one that is painful and natural is that my Mother is no longer in this world. She passed away two weeks ago with her family around her.

This post is not about that moment, or really about her, it is about the days leading up to it, the days after, and learning once and for all which of your friends will be the steadfast loyal ones that you thought you grew up with. It is about transitions and it Is also about me driving a big ass truck.

Some of you might know that hanging out in hospitals is a miserable experience and there are very few things that can make it tolerable. One of the few things that can make it even remotely bearable is having a place to go that is close by and in no way reminds you of the immense craziness of life. I am fortunate to have amazing friends that went out of their way to help me, and my family out. It is hard to put into words the bonds that are forged between some people as they grow, platitudes and clich├ęs just don’t cut it. Ian put me up in his home, made sure I was fed, had a place to sleep and injected some semblance of normality into an otherwise insane situation. He managed to do this and talk about what was going on as if it was a normal part of life (which it is) without making a big deal out of it, or constantly asking “how I was doing”. Being at Ian and Jim’s was key to my mental wellbeing throughout Mom’s last hospital stay.

There is a saying: “You are the sum of your five closest friends”, if this is the case then I am one intensely amazing human being, If I am the sum of my ten closest friends then I am the most blessed man on the face of the earth, and it turns out that that may just well be the case. Every single one of my friends, I mean the ones that I truly give a shit about, made sure that I was Ok, checked in at some point and offered their help if me or my family needed it. I was overwhelmed by this outpouring of support and solidarity. The friends that I have surrounded myself with are amazing people and I am humbled beyond belief to have such a strong bound with so many truly good people.

Anna and I decided that it was best if we transport all of our big stuff to Vermont for storage, we realized that it is best to minimize future complications by dealing with things immediately. There are always items that fall to the family to care for and carry with them for the rest of their days. In my case there are antiques, chests, a handmade (by Mom) all wood table, and a giant cast iron wood stove. Anna and I reserved a 16ft truck with Penske, when we went to pick it up all that they had was a 26ft truck, guess who got to drive that to Vermont! We drove down in driving rain and snow, my buddy Justin drove our car and helped us load and unload the truck. Why should these little things matter you ask? It is a transition, a rite of passage and a cathartic experience.

After the death of a loved one there are considerably different and conflicting emotions vying for supremacy; Sadness, relief, confusion, anger, acceptance, loss, and determination. When we packed up the items of mom’s that are now my responsibility and transported them to Vermont I felt a sense of cleansing and of closing. I had done my job beyond reproach and now I am able to sit down and ask myself “Where do I go from here”. I am pleased with my answer and I think that you will be as well.