5 Ways To Make Your Session “Easier”

By: Kyle Arsenault CSCS

Before we start, I have to clarify one thing.

A training session needs to be stressful and challenging enough to promote adaptation and growth. If the session is in fact “easy” then the body has no reason to grow stronger and healthier.

But that does not mean that you cannot make a session seem easier, and still train at high intensity, by incorporating a few “tricks.” The tricks that I am going to cover are quick ways to take the mental game of training and tip the scale more in your favor.

Many times we will psych ourselves out of a rep, set or entire training session with negative self-talk, or an overall negative approach to training.

“I still have 5 sets left!”“This sucks, I have to go train.”

“Damn it, I still have 3 more exercises.”

“Holy hell, 6 more reps!”

If any of these statements have ever crossed your mind, or have actually found yourself crying out like an unhappy infant, you probably experienced a training session that was not only miserable, but less than productive when trying to achieve your goals…but what if you could change this with a few simple tricks? Wouldn’t you like to know how?

Well you’re in luck as right here, right now, you are about to learn 5 simple tricks that you can utilize to take what is usually a “let’s just make it through this workout,” to a “hell ya, let’s crush this training session!”

This will make for more enjoyable training sessions and greater results. It is all about “tricking” the most powerful organ in the body; your MIND! Your mind is the only organ that is involved in every action the body produces and is many times the determining factor between success and failure (but after this failure will no longer even be a part of your vocabulary thanks to point 5!).

So here are 5 easy ways to “trick” the mind into thinking a training session is “easier” which will allow you to continue to work harder for longer and achieve greater results.

1.       No more “I have to…”

If these are the words that enter you mind before a session even begins, you may be better off taking a day off. If this is a consistent internal dialogue, I am sorry, but I can’t help you other than saying that those of us who train are healthier, stronger, more confident, less likely to fall ill and generally enjoy life more…but who cares about that stuff?!

The easiest way to fix this is to simply replace “have to” with “get to.” The next time you are about to begin a training session, tell yourself “I get to train!” rather than “I have to train.”

Easy and extremely effective!

And not only does this work with training, but every other situation in life!

“I have to get up early.”  “I get to get up early and enjoy my morning!”

“I have to go to work/school.”  “I get to go to work/school!”

“I have to visit my in-laws.”  “I get to visit my in-laws!”

Give it a try, change your mental approach and enjoy a better training session (and life!)

2.       No more “sets” but “opportunities”

Piggybacking the point above, if we go into an exercise, especially one that is appropriately programmed for maximal strength or power development, we may find ourselves complaining, “Damn, I’ve got 5 sets of this crap?!”

Instead of using the word “set,” try replacing it with “opportunities.”

So now you have “5 opportunities” to get stronger, more powerful and become a downright sexy piece of human flesh.

And when you get to that second to last set (it is always the hardest set!), think of it, or shout out loud, “Second to last opportunity”…believe me, it works!

3.       Countdown your reps, not up!

The first time we were taught how to count, we started at 1 and worked our way up. This is typically how most of us count our reps during what we formally knew as a set (now an opportunity, but I will use set to finish this post).

Instead of working from 1 to whatever your target rep number is, try counting down. This simple method tricks your mind into thinking “I’ve only got 3 reps left” instead of “Damn, I’ve done 3 reps and have to make it to 6,” for example.

This method works with any rep scheme, but especially well when rep targets are more than 3-4 and no more than 8-10

4.       Chunk your reps

 Along with the last point, “chunking” your reps into smaller “mini-sets” (mini-opportunities) helps to trick the mind to make the set easier, especially when reps exceed 8.

For example, say you were doing a set of lunges with a target of 10 reps per side, instead of counting to 10, or counting down from 10, try counting in groups of 2 with a target of 5. This would go like this for each leg…

“1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5”

Although you are still hitting 10 reps per leg, by grouping the reps in 2s you trick yourself as you are only actually counting to 5.

5.       Failure is no longer an option

If we miss a lift or had a less than stellar set by not achieving the rep number we set out to or using less weight than the previous session, it is typical that we let that set determine the fate of the entire session.

The set is viewed as a failure, and this failure causes mental negativity that often manifests itself into a session lost.

Instead of viewing it as a failure, think of it as a “temporary defeat.” Evaluate what the factors are that caused the miss rep or set, change your plan of attack and try again.

Possibly the best quote ever by one of the most badass, and intelligent dudes to ever live!

It may be that you simply didn’t get a good set up and it is something you can fix on the next set. Or it may be that today is just not your day as a result of other compounding factors (lack of sleep, dehydration, a little slow from a night out with your buddies, etc.). In either case, approach it as a temporary defeat that can, and will be overcome…but only if you change whatever it is that caused it.

“Failure” is a strong word that often results a cascade of negative emotions that only leads to further deterioration. By simply changing your mental dialogue from “I failed” to “I was only temporarily defeated,” you provide yourself a better platform to address the cause rather than dwell on it and allow it to influence the remainder of your session (or life).

This is also typically when we have an unexpected cheat meal or slip up with our nutrition. Rather than saying, “Well I already failed so let’s just keep going,” consider it as a temporary defeat, or slip up. Then you can address it with your very next meal.

Get Your Mind Right

Use the above tactics to make a training session seem easier, which will allow you to continuously get after it and better enjoy training.

After all, it is should not be about the outcome, but rather the process.

If you can make the process more enjoyable you will set yourself up for long term gains, health and performance, as well as life.

If you have any other tricks you use share them with us in the comments! And don’t forget to share this on FACEBOOK so your friends and family can also benefit from a more conducive mental dialogue for training and life!

The Best Time to Train Core

By: Kyle Arsenault CSCS 

You may have heard something like this before…

“You shouldn’t train core before your main lifts because it will fatigue your system and you won’t be able to train as intensely.”

Or maybe you have been told the opposite.

“You should train core before your main lifts to activate the system and encourage more stability.”

Or maybe you’ve heard both but don’t give a damn about core training and still spend all of your time hopping from machine to machine and finishing up with 30-60 minutes of “cardio” on the treadmill or bike…if this sounds like you, you have bigger issues to address where your core training should fall in your program!

But for many of us, we have heard conflicting information as to where core training should fall within a training sess. It’s time to figure it out.

Core Training Principles

For an easy anatomical definition, we can think of the core as the musculature of, and between, the hips and ribcage (as well as other structures such as fascia, tendons, etc.).

For an easy functional anatomy definition, we can think of the core as the musculature and structures that work to stabilize the joints of, and between, the hips and ribcage and work to transmit force from the lower extremities to the upper extremities and vice versa.

For this reason you can see that training the core effectively would be to train the musculature and other structures to efficiently stabilize the joints of, and between, the hips and ribcage. This is essential so that when movement is produced, or when outside forces are being exerted upon the body, force can be transmitted with minimal loss of that force, and subsequently, with as little motion as possible about the joints.

If the joints that are supposed to be stable/centrated/stacked (in proper position) during movement and transmission of force are instead unstable/de-centrated/not stacked (out of proper alignment) then force is loss, joints are compromised and injury is much more likely to occur…all unwanted scenarios when we are trying to enhance athletic performance, stay healthy and sport body like King Leonidas (or his Queen for the ladies).

And with that in mind, below is not one, but three different times where core training can, and should be incorporated into your program to help you maximize strength, avoid injury and put a whoopin’ on some Persian punks (I’m a big fan of 300 if you couldn’t tell).

Where Core Training Should be in Your Program

1)      Activation (pre dynamic warm up)

In order to effectively stabilize the trunk, the core musculature has to work in unison with appropriate timing. By activating the core in an efficient pattern with exercises such as supine leg marches, quadruped reaches (birddog) and back to wall overhead reaches, you are encouraging the core to fire/work in an efficient and proper manner.

The goal with each of these exercises is to keep the lower back from moving (no arch or rotation) and the ribcage from “flaring” from a neutral position as the arms and/or legs move.

2)      Your “1a” Exercises

 In my programming I use my “1a” exercises (or 2a, 3a, etc.) to get my athletes ready for their “1b” exercises, and this usually includes a core component. During these exercises I do not want to fatigue the athlete’s core to a point that it will negatively affect the subsequent exercise, but instead I want the core to “activate” in a more specific pattern.

For example, if I want my athlete to crush a Reverse Lunge as their “1b” exercise, I will likely have them complete a “1a” exercise from a static lunge (split stance) or half kneeling position where they are focusing on perfect form while trying to prevent motion at the trunk.

A Split Stance Medicine Ball Chop works well to engage the core and pattern the lunge before trying to crush some weight on a Reverse Lunge, for example. Other examples would include a plank variation before a bilateral squat or an overhead anti-extension (such as an overhead medicine ball tap, overhead RIP Trainer reach, etc.) before a deadlift.

These “1a” exercises can also be another opportunity to incorporate some of the lower level exercises from point #1 if the athlete is not yet capable of performing the higher level core exercises described.

 

3)      Post Training or Energy System Work

Once the bulk of your program is complete, you can, and in many cases should, challenge your core stability in a fatigued state. When fatigue enters the equation, appropriate activation and timing, specifically core stability, is compromised which promotes faulty movement, loss of strength / power and overall performance and injury potential.

By adding higher level core stability exercises (to YOUR capabilities of course) at the end of your training session can help to challenge and strengthen the core when it is most likely to fail. Try adding higher level plank variations such as fallouts, slideboard bodysaws or weighted plank rows (renegade rows) at the end of your session.

For more of a rotational challenge try incorporating higher level anti-rotation presses such as the anti-rotation walkout, wide stance cable chops or split stance lifts or chops.

And one of my favorite ways to challenge core stability, as well as enhance an athlete’s work capacity and conditioning, is to finish a session off with some energy system work that includes weighted carries (especially uni-lateral carries), battle rope variations and bear crawl variations.

The focus is to complete as much work as possible while maintaining a stable trunk through core stability. Try putting together a finishing circuit or some density work with one or more of these exercises.

When is the Best Time to Train Core?

As you can see there are varying degrees of core training that should be used for different purposes throughout your training session.

The goal of core training, no matter where it falls in your session, is to challenge the core to stabilize the trunk, reduce excess motion at the trunk, and transmit force effectively.

I encourage you to first activate and understand what it feels like to maintain a stable trunk, next strengthen the core in specific patterns to promote better performance of a subsequent exercise, and lastly challenge your core stability and strength when you are fatigued.

Try implementing these principles throughout your training session and enjoy a stronger and higher performing core (and yes, a more chiseled one as well).

 

 

Stop Wasting Your Time Foam Rolling!

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

Stop wasting your time foam rolling!

There, I said it!

But before you start to write me hate mail, or leave a comment below telling me how ignorant I am and threatening my life, I am not suggesting that you shouldn’t foam roll (or do other “soft tissue” work).

What I am suggesting, is that many of us don’t take full advantage of foam rolling because we don’t understand exactly how or why we should foam roll, we are uninformed about how to best apply it, or we have tried it and hate doing it because it hurts, so we just don’t do it.

Properly programmed foam rolling can help decrease aches and pains, promote optimal movement patterns and enhance the overall results of a training session and program…so let’s get to it.

What is foam rolling good for and how to do it

A while back I wrote about the benefits of foam rolling and included a short video of how to foam roll.

I would recommend looking that over first, but here is a quick recap on the benefits foam rolling; The the breakdown of scar tissue and adhesions (this is more of a theory), blood flow promotion, enhanced proprioception and when performed correctly, some direct core work.

All of the benefits are great, but there is one more major benefit/concept that needs to be included.

That is, foam rolling helps to “reset” the body. Whether it is by the actual lengthening of tissues, or it is through the mechanoreceptors of the tissues and there message to the CNS, foam rolling helps to reset the body which allows for novel pathways to be established.

What this really means is that foam rolling helps to down regulate the input to certain tissues (helps relax stiff tissues) which can then allow you to better achieve proper activation and of promote better movement  (if you are on a good program and have a good coach).

A better approach to foam rolling: Don’t try and crush it all at once!

During Training

This is where many of us run into a problem.

Like most everything else in life that we think is good, we have a tendency to overdo it with foam rolling. Again, I am not suggesting that you shouldn’t foam roll, and foam roll a lot, but most of us end up taking 20 minutes at the beginning of our training session to try and “crush” all of the “knots” and stiffness. It doesn’t work like that!

Oprah is a smart woman!

A better approach would be to quickly address all of the major regions of the body, spending a few extra seconds on our individual “problem” areas, and then move right into the activation and dynamic warm up of our program. This is better for two reasons.

One, we only have so much time to train and if you spend 20 minutes on the roller each session, you are sacrificing valuable time when you could be moving and getting stronger.

Two, moving quickly into the activation and dynamic warm up allows you to best utilize the “reset” that you just performed through the foam rolling.

For example, if you start by foam rolling your hip flexors and finish with your upper back 20 minutes later, when you go into your core or glute activation the transient “reset” of the hip flexors is no longer optimal. With only taking 5 minutes to complete your foam rolling, it is more likely that the “reset” is still present and this will allow you to better activate the wanted muscles and patterns.

Another approach, and a way to take this a step further especially if you have a major stiffness issues, is to incorporate foam rolling between sets of strength movements…like the filling of an oreo, foam rolling can be your sweet middle that makes the cookie better.

Sticking with the hip flexor issue, let’s say you were performing deadlifts. While you are resting between sets of deadlifts, get on the foam roller and roll out the hip flexors. This will better promote a decrease in stiffness of the hip flexors, allowing you to better utilize the core and hip musculature that is wanted during the deadlift (deep core and glutes).

And if you really want to take full advantage of the “reset” and promote better activation and patterning for your deadlift, try foam rolling the hip flexors, hitting a set of glute bridges and then crushing the deadlift.

Lastly, finishing a session with foam rolling, again especially your problem areas, allows you to again reset those areas.

Quick and often throughout the day

Other than incorporating foam rolling into your training program, another way to better take advantage of the benefits of foam rolling is to foam roll throughout the day.

I encourage all of my athletes to roll at least 1-2 times per day (on top of training) and if stiffness is a major issue, I suggest upping that to 3-4 times per day.

Again, this does not mean they should be spending 20 minutes every time they foam roll, because for one, nobody has that much time in the day. Second, I would rather them target the areas that give them the biggest problem, hit it for 30-60 seconds, and follow that up with a quick activation…foam roll the hip flexors and hit a set of glute bridges.

Even if they pick two or three areas, these short burst sequences will take no more than five minutes at a time.

So if you want to decrease aches and pains and promote better performance, I am sure that you can find a couple five minute sessions throughout the day…try it during commercials when you are watching TV, and check out my brothers little girl showing you how its done!

 

“Wow this hurts…I don’t like it and I don’t want to do this!”

This is often the first thing athletes say when they are introduced to the foam roller.

Well, actually there are a few expletives mumbled under their breath while they give me the stare of death, and that is why I quickly inform them that the more often they do it, the better it will get…I promise!

Three weeks of diligent application later, it is hard to find many of my athletes who don’t love the foam roller and are completely lost if they don’t do it…so just do it!

Roll out…better!

Try applying these methods of foam rolling into your training and reap the benefits of a more optimal application.

Remember that you don’t have to (or can you) fix your stiffness issues in one 20 minute session. It is better to hit it with short bursts throughout the day, and even better to follow that up with an activation exercise that can help cement the “reset.”

So continue to “Roll Out”  but do it with these concepts in mind and enjoy a less achy, better moving, stronger body and save yourself some time.

Minimal Effective Dose

By: Kyle Arsenault CSCS

Do you really want to train longer and harder to achieve the results you are looking for if you don’t have to?

This is a question that 95% of mankind would emphatically answer “Pffff, NO!”, and probably add in a sarcastic chuckle.

While I fall into the other 5% that love the act of getting after it, sweating a bit and feeling like I just got trampled by a heard of buffalo (I just purchased some grass fed bison so buffalo is on the mind), I realize that if we could achieve a healthy, lean and strong body by sitting around all day, most of us would.

Unfortunately for the 95%, sitting around eating “real fruit filled” poptarts watching severely unconditioned individuals getting the crap kicked out of them on latest episode of The Biggest Loser will not help you shed fat, gain muscle or look and feel better.

So if doing nothing won’t help you on your journey to “stud land” (or “studdette land” for the ladies), then training 2 hours per day, 7 days per week and eating nothing but organic free range chicken breast with steamed broccoli is the way to the godlike health and physique you want…right?

Spending more time in the gym than you do with your friends and family and eating strictly lean protein and veggies will definitely jump start the physical transformation that you are looking for, but your joints will soon begin to hate you, your friends and family will become fed up with your obsession, and life will be one dark and lonely venture.

So what is the answer?

Finding your minimal effective dose, or the least amount of effort you need to put in to reach your goals…that is what you need to determine.

I am not saying that you shouldn’t put in the work, but you should be able to work hard and still enjoy life. And the easiest way to do so is determine what the biggest barriers are that are preventing you from reaching your goals (usually concerning nutrition and physical activity), and what amount of training will provide continued progress without burnout.

To illustrate this a bit let’s take a look at a quick case study…my brother.

Over the last month my brother has been busy trying to get his ducks in a row as he is in a transition period in his life.

Because of this, he has not been able to make it to the gym as much as he would like (4-6 times per week) and has only been able to train 1 to 3 times per week. His goals include leaning out a bit and gaining some strength.

With the lack of training, you would expect that he may have ended up losing some strength and gaining a little extra thermal insulation about his midsection (yep, fat!).

So what happened?

He ended up losing 8 pounds and actually gained some strength. But just how was this possible?

My brother is a New Hampshire kid at heart, although he has spent the last 5 years in California as he completed his time serving as a United States Marine (thanks again bro!).

Do to his NH background, enjoying a cold brewsky a night (or 2 or 3) was a common practice. Add a slice or two of pizza to that and he was pretty much kissing his goals of a healthier, leaner and stronger body goodbye, even though he was putting in ample time at the gym.

And now over the last month he has eliminated the adult beverages, cut back (but not completely eliminated) the processed carbs (pizza crust, bread, pasta, etc.) and has trained intensely a couple times per week versus 5 or 6 days. He also went for a couple easy jogs and long walks in the sunny California weather, as well as performed a sprint session every now and then throughout the week…and that was it.

This shows you that by addressing the biggest factors preventing you from achieving your goals (the few bubblies and processed carbs for my bro) and determining the least amount of training that will allow you to progress your physical abilities and results (1-3 full body training sessions with some off day conditioning and sprints in my brother’s case) is all that is needed.

What is your biggest barrier to achieving your goals?

My brother’s little case study is just another good example that if you take care of your nutrition for the most part (staying consistent 90% of the time) and perform a full body training program 1-3 times per week while staying physically active, this is likely all you need to do to get closer to your ideal body.

You do not have to train hard every day and eat strict all the time, just enough of the time!

With that, the best thing you can do to is to establish your minimal effective dose…

1)      Write down a 3-5 day food log to determine your greatest need first, not EVERY need.

2)      Try 1-3 full body training days with supplemental physical activity to determine your training dose.

3)      Remember to live a little, enjoy the foods you like, train hard when you can and stay true to your goals 90% of the time.

Achieving your physical goals, doesn’t have to be an all or nothing approach. It just has to be enough to get you to where you want to be while allowing you have a good time doing so.

Get Dense!

We have all seen it, and maybe we have even done it ourselves.

Too often a training session becomes a social extravaganza where we waste time discussing everything from the weather outside to the latest screw ups of The Biebs (which recently have been plentiful), instead of getting to work and getting things done!

I am not suggesting that training should not be a time to socialize, as getting after it with some friends can be a great motivator, but taking 2+ hours to complete a session that should last no longer than 45 minutes to an hour is a problem.

Besides the fact that almost every American complains that they are busy and don’t have time, another issue with slothing your way through a session (yes, I know “slothing” is not a word, but I am the one writing!) is that many of our goals rely heavily on the overall stress and hormonal adaptation that is a result of packing in lots of work in a shorter period of time.

How much work you get done in a period of time is also referred to as your training density.

The more dense a session is the higher the stress is on the body, the greater the hormonal response (higher testosterone and growth hormone) and the better the physical adaptations…as long as intensity and nutrition are sufficient (50 sets of power curls in the squat rack don’t count, and you are just being an inconsiderate INSERT EXPLICIT that is strongly disliked by fellow gym patrons).

Do not be these dudes…please!

Increasing training density is a great way to decrease training time for those of us who can only dedicate a short amount of time to a training session or if something suddenly comes up. Increasing training density is also a great way to further enhance hypertophic adaptations of tissues (muscle growth) as well as promote greater caloric expenditure as heart rate will be kept elevated, and EPOC will be greater (excess post oxygen consumption, or how many calories you utilize to recover after training).

**Note: If your main goal is to increase maximal strength/power or acquire a new skill, taking more time to complete the training session, or at least that piece of the session is warranted. The greatest strength/power gains and the optimal way to new skill acquisition is by taking your time and allowing the central nervous system to recover between sets.

But for the rest of us, just how can we increase the density of our training session? There are a few simple ways that I like to do so with my own training, as well as the training of my athletes.

1)      Use tri-sets and quad-sets instead of supersets: Most programs are written in a superset fashion (1a,1b then 2a, 2b, etc.). To increase density try trisets (running through 3 exercises in back to back fashion) or quadsets (4 exercises grouped). You can take your existing program that may contain 8 exercises for example, and instead of 4 pairs of supersets, make two groupings of 4 exercises (1a, 1b, 1c, 1d then 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d).

2)      Go for time: Typically training sessions are completed based on sets and reps. Instead, try setting a time limit and

completing as many sets of your exercises as possible.

For example, say you are performing a deadlift and push-up superset, instead of going for 4 sets of 6 reps each, try to see how

This gives you a training session of roughly 25 minutes (I am including 4 minutes to get to the next exercises) instead of a training session that is based on 4 sets for each superset.

Time is limited so you have to work as quickly as possible! many sets of 6 you can complete in 7 minutes then move on to the next exercises and give yourself another 7 minutes and repeat one more time with another superset.

3)      Go for sets and reps: The opposite of number 2 is to set a certain amount of sets and reps and try to complete them as quickly as possible.

For example, yesterday I performed a tri-set of forward lunges, feet elevated push-ups with chains and feet elevated TRX rows with chains for 5 sets (after a sufficient warm up). I recorded the time it took me to complete the 5 sets, wrote it down and will try to beat it the next time.

Crushed in in less than 30 minutes, including warm up…boom!

Get Dense

There are 3 ways you can increase the density of your training sessions, save time and compete with yourself to further enhance progress and goals.

The next time you find yourself short on time, in the mood to discuss the travesties of today’s youth or simply unmotivated at the start of a session, get after some one of these density protocols and reap the benefits of increasing the amount of work done in a shorter period of time…yes, bigger muscles, less fat and an overall feeling of badassary!

Like this post and found it useful?…Share it with your friends and family to help spread the good word and help others get after it and achieve their goals!

Tempo for Bigger Gains

 

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

Whether you are a newbie in the game of training, a seasoned athlete looking to gain the competitive edge or a general fitness enthusiasts trying to look great naked and have more confidence, utilizing tempo within your training programs can help cement proper movement patterns, strengthen weak points and burn a little extra calorie while boosting the precious hormones necessary for greater progress.

So what is tempo? Simply, tempo is how quickly you produce different phases of a given exercise or movement.

Usually tempo is described using 3 to 4 phases (described by a 3-4 number system) including the eccentric phase (lengthening or down phase), isometric (bottom or transition phase) and the concentric phase (shortening or up phase). Some will also throw in another isometric phase at the starting point of an exercise, but for the purpose of this post we will only focus on the first 3.

For example, let’s look at a squat. As you descend into the squat you are performing the eccentric phase (going down). At the bottom of the squat, right before you are about to come back up, you are in the isometric or transition phase. Lastly, coming up from the bottom of a squat is the concentric phase.

Using tempo with the squat might look something like a 3, 1, 2 tempo or 3 seconds on the way down, a 1 second pause at the bottom and 2 seconds to return to the starting position. This is the same for any exercise such a deadlift, push up, row, lunge, step up, etc.

By manipulating the tempo, you can better achieve certain qualities and goals, and better build a more resilient body that you can slap an S on the front of and feel good about it…man or woman!

When you are first learning a new pattern, try utilizing a slower tempo such as a 3, 2, 2 tempo so you can better groove a quality pattern, spend more time in the difficult phases (down and transition) and build eccentric strength. This will help solidify proper movement, set a foundation for progress and prevent injury.

Once you achieve a good pattern you can change the tempo to make it a little more explosive on the concentric phase and then decrease the transition phase time…especially if you are an athlete looking to increase athletic potential. You may go to a 3, 1, 1 tempo for example.

If you are trying to increase muscle size (muscle hypertrophy) as well as torch extra fat, also utilizing a slower tempo is useful. When load is sufficient, increasing the time under tension of that load promotes greater stress on the tissues and results in a more optimal hormonal response for muscle growth…as long as nutrition is on par as well! And if you are going for fat loss, more time under tension requires more work and caloric expenditure.

If you are trying to maximize athletic qualities (strength speed, power, agility, etc.) using a quicker tempo is more task specific. In practice or games your body does not have the time to consciously get into proper movements or take time to transition from deceleration to acceleration. In this case, a quicker more explosive tempo such as 1, 0, X (a 1 second eccentric, 0 second transition and a concentric that is as explosive as possible) can and should be used, BUT ONLY <– read that again, when patterns are perfected from building a base of proper movement and slower tempos FIRST!!!

Conclusion

Manipulating the tempo at which you perform movements/exercises is a great way to further progress and get more specific with your training.

If you are learning a new pattern, use a slower tempo with less intensity (resistance). If you are looking to maximize muscle hypertrophy and fat loss, use a slower tempo with sufficient load. And if you are looking to maximize athletic performance (strength, power, agility, etc.) using a quicker, more explosive tempo will be more specific to practice and sport.

Keep track of the tempos used with the 3 number system and see what works best for you. There are tons of combinations that can be utilized, but the overall principles described above do not change.

If you found this information useful make sure to send it along to your friends and family and leave any questions or comments below…have you used tempo training in the past? How did it work?

 

 

5 Ways to Help You Afford Healthy Food


By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

You make it to the grocery store, grab a cart and venture into the aisles. You are on a mission. A mission to obtain foods that will help you achieve your newly sparked health and fitness goals, and nothing is going to stop you.

As you make your way to the produce isle, you remember you coach (and the rest of the world) telling you that organic products are healthier…so that is what you are going to get.

But there is one problem; the organic veggies and fruit are twice as expensive as the conventional brands.

 

 

And it doesn’t stop there! The Greek yogurt is far more expensive than the sugar bombed regular yogurt, the pasture raised eggs are 3x the price of the store brand and the price of the grass fed meat and all natural almond butter just about gives you a heart attack.

“This stuff is way too expensive,” you say allowed with a chuckle as you place item after item in your cart. You are just a little more than anxious to see the bill for this one!

As you grab the last item on your list which happens to be coconut oil, and the most expensive item yet, you snap, decide there is no way you can afford this stuff. In a frustrated rage you empty your cart, grab the items you typically purchase and get to the checkout.

If you have ever gone out shopping and either purchased or at least contemplated purchasing the “healthier items,” the scenario above may sound familiar. OK, maybe you didn’t stomp back through the aisles and empty your cart (I actually have at one point!) but it was a one shopping trip never to happen again.

While I can’t argue that the best items are more expensive, eating healthier (the key is healthier) is actually not that expensive…but there is a link below where I go into that.

So instead of going over that, my goal is to present to you a few ways you can save a buck or two, that you can then put towards obtaining healthier items such as fresh/frozen veggies and fruit, lean meats, omega 3 or pasture raised eggs, natural peanut butter, etc. during your shopping extravaganzas.

 

 

1)      Buy in bulk- Instead of buying just enough food to make dinner for that night, try purchasing in bulk, and take advantage of bulk item stores such as Sam’s Club, BJs, etc. While you will spend more money up front, you are saving money in the long run. Don’t get caught up with the final price, but rather pay attention to the per serving price of items and you will notice that the bulk items are far less expensive. Such items include meats (chicken breast, hamburger, etc.), frozen veggies, milk, Greek yogurt, etc.

2)      Buy on sale and stock up- My grandfather is, well, “the grandfather” of stocking up! Whenever there is a sale he will grab extra of that item and store it for later. Try dedicating a spare pantry to stock up items and invest in an extra freezer (you can get them cheap online…Craigslist). This will save you tons of money in the long run, and keep your family from starving during the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse.

 

 

 

3)      Drink Water- Stop purchasing juice (especially sugar infused “juice”), Gatorade, soda, energy drinks, beer (a 6 pack can easily be as much as 10 dollars), etc. and drink water instead…it is free and you can flavor it with fresh fruit, etc! And please, don’t buy water either, but invest in a water bottle instead! It’s healthier and cheaper.

4)      Make your own coffee/tea- Going along with the last point, drinking water is free and making your own coffee or tea, while not free, is much cheaper than purchasing one every morning. Think about it like this, if your coffee costs you two dollars (which is on the cheapest end), that is 10 dollars a week, 40 dollars a month, and roughly 480 dollars per year…that is a lot of grass fed meat you could be eating!

5)      Make and pack meals- Truth is, I have never once bought lunch at work. Whether it was when I was landscaping as a youth, interning at Cressey Performance or working at a local gym as a personal trainer I always made my lunch, packed it up and brought it with me. And now, it has been over two years I have been working as the Head Performance Coach at Momentum and the trend continues! Even a cheap salad will run you a minimum of 8 dollars and as I explained in THIS POST, you can make lunch for much, much cheaper.

 

 

Try these following these tips most of the time (I am not suggesting you can never again buy lunch or your favorite coffee) and you will find that you have an extra buck or two you can put towards healthier foods that will allow you to more easily achieve your health and fitness goals.

You will not only be saving money, but you will also save yourself the embarrassment of looking like a lunatic as you stomp your way back through Whole Foods, tossing the more expensive items back on the shelf…I can only imagine what people were thinking of me!

%d bloggers like this: