Day 2 Velocity Diet: This is Gonna Take Some Getting Used to

First off I did have some people ask me if this diet goes against my philosophy. In short yes, I prefer to get calories from food over any supplement or powder. My personal philosophy is very close to that of Paleo Nutrition. But I was intrigued by the Velocity Diet and decided to be a guinea pig. That’s it. If it works and for me works means drop 10-15 pounds and keep or gain strength then I can honestly critique it. If I lean up and drop tons of strength then I can bash it all to hell. My hope is the first scenario. So having said that…… On to day 2.

So I kind of under estimated the will power it would take to complete this diet. I think they should actually name it the Velocity Diet Challenge.  I have consumed 1800+ calories per day on this diet so it is far from starvation but the lack of real food definitely plays with satiety, actually there is no satiety. As per Webster, Satiety is : the quality or state of being fed or gratified to or beyond capacity.   Actually, as I am typing this, an Applebee’s commercial came on the TV and for the first time in my life I actually wanted to go and eat there.  But on the other note, today’s workout felt good and my wife or my co-workers haven’t complained of me being a moody SOB so that is a good thing.  Going in to this project yes I wanted to shred up a bit but not at the expense of strength.  So this is going to be an interesting journey.  I need to go make my last shake of the night with peanut butter and eat my fish oil. Until next time…..

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Day 1 of the Velocity Diet

I won’t post my before pictures yet because my ego may not be able to handle it yet. I usually spend much of my time around 185 pounds, put some weight on a mass building phase. The goal is to get down to 175- 180 pound and…. Keep or gain strength….

Here are the beginning stats:

194 pounds,  15.6% Body Fat,  Abdominal Measurement 36inches (still fit in 34 jeans comfortably though).

Strength was maximally tested last month: 430lb dead lift, 19 strict pullups, 1 pullup with 24kg kettlebell on foot. 88lb Kettlebell press on Right arm x 2.

Can’t really tell you exactly how the diet is going yet but in Recap…. if you like food this diet may not be for you. 10 pm tonight ate my last shake and it couldn’t have come sooner. Overall the shakes are tasty only 27 more days left. Will keep you posted….

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Project #1 The Velocity Diet

As any one that has been a fitness enthusiast for a number of years we tend to have one thing in common. We tend to be human guinea pig for the fitness industry. 10 sets of 1o, super slow reps, HIT, HIIT, Crossfit, kettlebells, Zumba, Pilates, Tae Bo,the Atkins Diet, The cabbage diet, South Beach, Paleo, and the list could go on forever. With over  20  years of experience lifting weights and working out I have tried numerous approaches to training and nutrition. It is usually pretty easy for me to discount numerous approaches marketed to the general public via flashy internet ads, infomercials, and celebrity testimonials. And though some of these processes may work the risk to benefit ratio just isn’t worth it many times. I mean if you really want to lose weight quickly don’t eat for a couple days and you will see results but the risk just isn’t worth it.  I guess now if I am going to try something I really want to quantify the results, mot just weight loss, body fat, and before and after pictures, but really what happens to my performance. If I follow a diet or a workout routine and lose my strength is it really worth it? My answer is no, but for many people strength really isn’t a factor since much of our society is primarily vanity based. So I have an experiment I want to try. It surrounds the Velocity diet.

In a nutshell you eat 5 to 6 shakes per and a few different supplements through out the day including fish oils and fiber. It even has a superfood mix with fruit and vegetable extracts to get a whole food source for vitamins. You eat one solid meal per week and you do this for 28 days.  I researched the nutrient content and all the macro nutrients are covered as well as the vitamins and essential fats are all there. It definitely has a high protein content and a lower carbohydrate load, but you do get more carbohydrates on workout days.  So basically it is chemically engineered food and the amount you take is based on your body weight. The goal of the diet….get ripped and lean. I have to say the before and afters are impressive on the t-nation website. Strength coach Dan John tried it and lost 23 pounds over the 28 days. So why am I trying it?  Well one reason is I am just a bit bored. Last year I needed lots of corrective exercise to correct many asymmetries I had going on. A year later my FMS scores are dramatically improved and I am injury free. A year of correctives has made a world of difference. The past year has also been a year of major gains in strength. I started viewing my workouts less and less as workouts and more as training sessions the result is almost a 100 pound gain in my dead lift and a personal record of 19 strict pull-ups. The fact is my workouts are working and strength is still my goal so I don’t really want to mess with that. But over the last year a few other things have also happened.  I became a father, quit a job, and started  a business.  The result has also been a gain of a bout 10 pounds, some of which is muscle  but I also know I would like to be around 180 instead of 190 and keep my strength. So this is where this experiment comes in. 28 days isn’t too bad and it also will help break my boredom. It will also give me an opportunity critique something. Instead of me bashing this diet before I try it I can come from a perspective of actually going through it. I will measure my body fat percentage, weight, and Strength. I will continue to post my results and experience. You can check out the velocity diet on T-nation website for all the details. I purchased the package but chose to forego the thermogenics since I really don’t want to mess with my adrenals.  I was tempted to make my own concoction of the Velocity diet by mixing and matching my own version of 28 days of shakes but after my conversation with Dan John he said if your gonna do the diet, do it exactly how they say so you can actually critique it. So here it goes…. The supplements should arrive any day.. Stay tuned for more..

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Why my Client’s Train for Strength

There are tons of different philosophies out there regarding fitness and exercise. I have heard other respectable trainers say “don’t make your own personal fitness goals your client’s goals.”  I do agree with that in many ways. I have seen trainers that are more of the runner type have their clients running inappropriate amounts of volume on unstable hips. And more of the aerobic type that just do way to much elliptical prescription for my taste. I too have been guilty of this. Early in my training career I had a very limited amount of tools. I knew how to do bench presses, bicep curls, leg extensions, leg presses and so on… I trained strait out of muscle head magazines to get get big guns and ripped abs. Guess what. whether you were Jenny, Bob, or Dave You did the same weight lifting routines. Monday was Legs, Wednesdays was Chest and Tris, and Friday was Back, Bi’s and shoulders. If I really wanted to mix it up I would throw in superset or a burnout set at the end. Then I would have them jump on the elliptical for 45 minutes. Oh,  I forgot to mention that I kept many of my clients at 12-15 repetitions because I was afraid of bulking them up. Sometimes I ventured to the land of 8 repetitions. I rarely tracked the weight they used and based just about everything on their or my level of perceived exertion.  Ok so maybe you get it, inexperience without proper guidance isn’t a recipe for success. Amazingly though I managed to be relatively successful as a trainer.

Fast forward over a decade later. I no longer use machines, train specific body parts or isolation movements, and definitely don’t make 12-15 repetitions a staple for my clients. So what has changed? About a decade of experience, tons of continuing education courses, hundreds of clients to practice with (yes I said practice, and if I didn’t I would be lying), and a fundamental understanding of human movement physiology. After all of this I have to admit I am still guilty of training my client’s based on my biases and leanings. Now, let me clarify. My goals today are based on keeping the body mobile especially through the hips and T-Spine. The other big focus for my clients is that of strength. Yes I am talking about low repetition strength. People that say they are training strength in the 12-15 repetition range know little of what they are taking about unless they are doing heavy singles. Unfortunately people buy into the philosophy of “if becoming strong isn’t your goal, it’s ok we can just work on toning with high repetitions and lots of cardio, and as long as you are active then that is better than just sitting at home doing nothing.” There is also the philosophy of “Fitness should be fun, as long as you are sweating and have your heart rate up you are doing great!!!” Now let me be clear I am not going to bash on those that focus primarily on Aerobic based and high repetition fitness, but I need to clarify that those two examples couldn’t be further from the philosophy that I follow and train my clients by. And if it is just better than doing nothing then do something else.

A group of women came in to my facility to want to form a “private group training” the other day.  The ages ranged from late 2o’s to early 60′s. They all had enthusiasm walking in the door and were excited to get started!!! Guess what,  20 minutes later they walked out without a training package being sold. Now some of it could have been cost, but the biggest thing that happened is that there is a disconnect from what people are programmed by watching foo-foo fitness shows and Dr. Oz. First off these ladies come to me for help because guess why… They need help getting fit and CAN”T do it by themselves. But when in front of me I have one lady saying well I don’t like lifting weights and I don’t want to do strength training, can we do something else? My answer “absolutely not. We will work with many different tools, bodyweight, kettlebells, barbells, suspension training , but we will also work on becoming stronger.” I don’t know if she liked the answer, but since it is my gym I am not going to break out a zumba class or Kickboxing class for them just because they are paying me, hell they can go to Gold’s gym for $20 per month and get that stuff. I asked any of the ladies if they needed help lifting 5 pounds of weight? they said “no.” Then why should I train you to lift weight you can already easily lift? The thing is they may never get it and they may just keep dreaming that one day the fantasy of getting in shape will happen on a late night infomercial. My goal wasn’t to turn these women in to powerlifters but in the same breath I am a trainer that focuses on movement, strength, and conditioning. If you want aerobics go to LA Fitness, they are cheaper than I am anyway and the trainer there will tell you anything you want to get a sale.

The truth is lifting weights appropriately makes a big difference with body composition,strength, and bone density, that you don’t see with aerobic based fitness alone. Yes that means cardio attack classes don’t improve those things. Maybe Oprah didn’t tell them that, but it is true. I was overhearing a client of mine that has seen significant weight loss, talking with a group of people the other day and the I heard something that I had never heard before…… Are you ready for this… She was mentioning that people really started noticing her significant changes in her body when we started deadlifting heavy weight. Who would have thought, the deadlift… not the elliptical, the Zumba Classes, or the 5 pound weights. Nope. It was the deadlift. Nothing could have made me smile more. Strength is the secret. Lifting heavier weights(safely and with good form), is the secret. I have an 80 year old client. Heavy for her is 8-10 pounds for upper body movements, but even she is deadlifting the 44pound kettlebell for reps now, and for her that is truly a feat of strength(she may weigh 100pounds). I could list story after story of how real strength training has made the changes that people think they will get from the cardio theater full of elliptical machines. Deadlifting, squatting, and Kettlebell complexes in my opinion are the solution. Unfortunately, I think the gym equipment companies demonized these lifts to make people think they would get hurt doing them so that there would be a false sense of safety on machines. If you don’t know how to safely do these moves then hire a qualified person to teach you. And if the qualified person tells you that the leg press machine is safer than a squat then walk away(or Run). I can only speak on this matter because I did things wrong for so many years which finally lead me to the truth.

My dream is that one day strength will be “in” .  Unfortunately skinny jeans and skinny fat are still more desirable for manorexic sissies and women that idolize sickly models.

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The Biggest Mistakes with Tight Hamstrings

My personal training practice has a strong focus on corrective exercise. I see numerous imbalances when it comes to the human body. Many individuals have finally had  enough of getting injured right after they have healed from the previous injury. Unfortunately many people see healing from an injury much like healing from the flu or common cold. Take it easy for bit and get back into it slowly then progress into the routine by adding intensity. The initial thoughts are to make sure you stretch more so you won’t get injured.  SO what happens? Many times prudence is used, and stretching is adhered to. Weeks or months later  the same injury or a slightly different injury of similar nature pops up again. On to the healing process once again. Unfortunately with injury related to exercise or sport the underlying problems are never addressed during rest and healing time unless guided by a physical therapist and even then the results can be dismal unless the PT is skilled and educated in human functionality not just rehabbing the symptom.

Here is a prime example I see numerous times. Client comes in with a history of hamstring pulls and strains. The rehabilitation process has been anti-inflammatories, some other sort of therapeutic soft tissue work, and stretching of the hamstrings and calves. They are tight that is why they are pulling right?? The injury next time looks like a pulled groin or lower back pain.. Many times I see these individual with a similar trait. They usually have over active or shortened hip flexors. These include the psoas, illiacus, rectus femoris, and TFL. When these muscles are shortened or over active the actually pull the hips forward causing an anteriorly rotated hip.


In this scenario, the hamstrings which attach to the backside of the hips are now over stretched. They are tight because they are stretched tight not shortened. As the hip flexors crank down on the front of the hips they are like the adjustments on the neck of the guitar. Keep cranking at the nobs and the strings will get tight/over stretched and eventually snap when under stress. There are a series of other problems that occur as hip flexors take over. The gluteus maximus (buttocks) become under active and can’t extend the hips as effectively since they are in a state of being chronic under-activity. So when engaging in activities such as running, jumping, squatting, or deadlifts the hamstrings in an over stretched state have to work harder to extend the hips since the glutes are inhibited by the shortened hip flexors. Now that the hamstrings are working harder in a stretched state it leaves them like the tight guitar string being strummed with in an heavy metal riff from the 80′s.

The Solution

First assess the hip flexors, using  the Thomas Test (see Video). This is a basic test that can show you if you the hips are over active and shortened. If this is the case there are numerous stretches and soft tissue work that can assist. Many people don’t even know how to effectively  Stretch the hip flexors. Usually starting with soft tissue work with a foam roller or ball. In stretching the hip flexors  make sure to keep the hips square. In my experience just passively stretching the hip flexors for 10-15 seconds won’t make a dent in an hip flexor dominance. After soft tissue work, PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) has been most successful in my experience. Pavel Tsatsouline has a book and DVD called Relax into Stretch which primarily focuses on this type of stretching that is a must read if you are interested in attempting this on your own. The other option is to hire a professional that is skilled in these methods. The take home message is assess first then stretch the appropriate muscles, but cranking on the hamstrings many times creates more problems in chronic hamstring pulls. After stretching the hip flexors an exercise focusing on strengthening the glutes is recommended. After loosening up the hips you may notice that contracting the glutes has an entirely new feel. You should be able to have a more powerful contraction. Strengthening the glutes is one of the key methods to ensuring long term success in preventing hamstring pulls. Now In many instances I have also seen other factors that lead to anteriorly rotated hips as locked up ankles and poor ankle mobility but that will be a blog for another day. If you suffer from these issues the strongest recommendation is to get screened by a professional that hold the FMS or CK-FMS certifications. They will be able to figure out what your weekest link may be and address it to prevent the same things from happening over and over again! Until next time..

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Enough with the Biggest Loser, Lara Bars, and Idiocracy

Maybe I rant on things that are minor on the topics of world events. I tried that before and decided there wasn’t any money in bitching about politics and that everyone out there including myself and the media really don’t know crap about what is really going on in world affairs. So I decided to stick with what I know and what I am a student of. Exercise.Period.  In the same breath I am not going to exclaim that I am a guru in this field. I look to Dan John, Pavel, and others to be lead the way in this point of my career, maybe just maybe one day I will achieve a level of expertise to put me there.

People can argue that me bitching about the Biggest Loser is a waste of breath, but I think the more information and opposing opinion that is out there is crucial to steer the masses that watch this trash. Yes Trash.. I have heard others say that there are some positives about the show that I need to look at, like its ability to inspire people to get out and exercise more. Well I am going to crush that logic. First off the show is based on entertainment purposes and money making only. If you can view it like you are watching an episode of the Honeymooners you are probably OK, but I believe the show is actually doing more harm than good. A clip from one episode shows the trainer giving his clients a Larabar touting it’s healthiness and the fact that it is gluten free! Here is the nutritional acts off of a Pecan pie Lara bar :14g, 24g, 3g. Now lets look at a Snickers bar Fat:14g, carbs 35g, and 4 grams of Protein. So we are looking at about a difference of 36 calories different. I am not going to promote snickers here as better than a Lara, I am pointing out that as a society we deem candy bars to be unhealthy and a Lara Bar as to be healthy what the hell is going on? Well the fact is Lara Bar is a paid advertiser of the show and pretty much show is a whore to money so there is nothing they won’t sell. If anyone has seen Jillian Michaels idea of swinging a kettlebell or Whatever the hell his name is do a turkish get up you can tell that the level of expertise is that of picking up a trainer off the floor at your local community center is where they are at.  It is crucial that they pick Jillian an Bob because they are clueless and uneducated, if they had any level of expertise they wouldn’t stand for what is going on. If I sell out ever just resend me this blog.

It is a known fact that many of the participants have had Gastric bypass surgeries which is common place for todays society. Now I have had clients that have had these surgeries done and used it to change their lives and probably save their lives as well. But for most of America this isn’t an option and in many cases people watching don’t know that a surgery has been done on these over weight actors we see on television. Yes I called them actors because there is nothing real about the situation these people are put in. Lets take you away from everyday life. Feed you little food and when we do stuff you with protein laced candy bars. Then we are going to train you to exhaustion numerous times daily, yell at you because you are fat, and then humiliate you and kick you off the show for only losing 10 pounds in a week. Shame on America for allowing this to go on and give it high ratings, dvd’s, and way too much air time. If watching overweight people lose tons of weight is exciting to you and watching actors that are fed scripts to train them then go right ahead and let your mind waste away. This type of misinformation and idiocracy is where we are going.

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Entering the Last week Of the Paleo Challenge at Evolution Tucson

It has been one heck of a run over the 4 and a half weeks. There are 10 days left of the challenge. So far it has been amazing. One of my clients brought in a chart of her weight loss over the past 8 months. Though there had been a steady decrease in weight over the previous 5 months prior to the Paleo challenge, over the past 5 weeks her weight loss has nearly quadrupled in rate. The first 5 months had a bit over 20 pounds of weight loss. Over the past 5 weeks……….. 12 additional pounds. The first 5 months was focused on portion control, cutting out junk food, and reducing the sugar intake. As seen in the results tightening up the nutrition to strictly following Paleo has taken the results to an entirely new level. By the way she is now under 150 pounds and just repped out 185 pound deadlifts during a group workout last week, so without even looking at body fat percentages I am pretty sure she is NOT losing muscle. At Evolution Tucson we strongly promote Paleo Nutrition to nearly all of our clients, not just for the challenge but as a way of life. This doesn’t mean you can’t go out for sushi on occasion and eat some rice, but as a rule eating paleo 90% of the time can change your life. On a side note NOT eating gluten 100% is also highly recommended. For a great source of information read The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet by Robb Wolf.

The Final day of the challenge is March 12th. Final Pictures, weigh-ins and measurements need to be taken no later than March 14th. Dr. Garrett Smith NMD and Myself will announce the winner on the March 20th Episode of The Path to Strength and Health. Stay posted for the before and afters.

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Trainers and Nutrition: Crossing the line???

So many people I talk to in the industry discourage trainers from talking about nutrition because we aren’t licensed to do so, and for the most part I can’t blame them them for saying so. Mostly because many trainers out there are not even qualified to train people let alone tell them how to eat. I personally have a B.S. in Nutritional Sciences as well as post graduate work in nutrition so I feel very confident in my opinions and ideas around nutrition but mostly I serve as  the “crap” filter for all the gimmicks out there that many of my clients have fallen right in to in the past. Unfortunately, many knucklehead trainers out there get all of their nutritional information from the monthly subscription of Muscle head magazine and try and get all of their clients to follow what they just read. For the most part not all of that information in some of these magazines are bad. The problem lies in the fact that trainers start to cross the line when they start recommending supplements to clients or giving specific diet advice to individuals with pre-existing medical conditions. I am not talking about telling a client to take a multi-vitamin and a good fish-oil. I am referring to the trainer that has a client taking “enhancement’ supplements that many times are just a waste of money, but in some cases can be detrimental to a client’s health. A case in 1999  a trainer recommended a client take a fat burner that then caused the death of the client because of a pre-existing heart condition, hence a multi-million dollar lawsuit. Even individuals that don’t have a pre-existing heart conditions are very susceptible to anxiety attacks and other nasty side effects from these supplements.

Nutrition Specialist and some other forewarnings

There are a few gyms in town that tout that they “specialize in nutrition”.  Really? ask them if one of their trainers have a degree in nutrition? Most likely not. I am sorry but you are not a specialist unless you are educated in the area and I don’t mean you took an online Nutrition Specialist test through ACE fitness either or if you are a certified life coach. It also doesn’t mean that because you have a competed in a bodybuilding competition that makes you a nutritionist either. Also if your title is Fitness Counselor or Nutrition Counselor at A big box gym you have no business offering specific nutritional or supplements. Go to school for 4+ years if you want to counsel people on nutrition specifically.

First, if a trainer has a quota at their gym for product sales then politely defer any advice from this trainer regarding supplements.  Also, if they are selling a supplement that is part of a Multi-level Marketing company follow the same advice. Many of the supplements sold at the big box gyms are trash, especially if it has their label on it and MLM supplements are just sooo….(never mind that is an entirely different article).

Also, consider what the term supplement means. It means to add to. Really we should be getting much of our nutrients from the foods we eat. Now, if our diets are limited then we need to acknowledge what we are not getting and either start eating foods with them or take a supplement that may supply this lacking nutrient(s). In all of my years studying this field, it is safe to say a good multivitamin (not ones at the grocery store) usually found in the capsule form is a good start for many people to ensure they are covering many of the basis. Another supplement I may recommend is a fish oil that has good amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids that are essential for life. Many don’t eat fish or other foods high in Omega-3′s so a supplement is usually a good thing. Beyond that I don’t encourage more unless I see something that is really glaring.  If there are any symptoms a client is having due to something that could be vitamin /energy deficiency and they are taking a solid multi-vitamin then it is not up to a trainer to start adding energy boosting formulas, shakes, or metabolism enhancers to a diet.  My first line of action would be to have the client keep a diet journal to see what they are actually consuming. I had a client once complain of lack of energy and wanted to take a energy supplement. After reviewing the diet journal, it was glaring…. A diet consisting of a bagel and coffee for breakfast, a croissant with cheese and a diet soda for lunch , and chicken wings with ranch and celery for dinner can point out some glaring deficiencies. Other days didn’t look much better than that. Unfortunately changing the diet takes effort and a pill takes $24.99 to attempt to fix it. If there are physical symptoms or anything out of line refer to a doctor, CYA.(cover your …)

Are there other good supplements out there?

Yes there are some other good supplements out there depending on the goals of your client’s, but again where is the diet at? If someone isn’t eating enough or good quality foods then all the creatine in the world isn’t going to help your client put on muscle. Same for protein powders. In some situations a protein powder may be a good thing, but it also depends on the client, their goals, and once again what are they eating to begin with. For the most part I am a fan of eating calories not just drinking them. Yes there are supplements for adrenal health, sleep, energy, weight loss, and weight gain, but it almost all the time relates to the diet first. I have a good friend that is a Naturopathic Physician that I bounce ideas off of and if I feel that I am missing something I defer to him to guide me for specific supplements. Why? because that is his specialty. He studies it and lives it. For the most part I would rather stick to training people rather than trying to dose them.

When not to give specifics

If a client is on medications for the heart or blood pressure  then don’t put them on any supplement or diet. This also goes for any other diagnosed disease including diabetes etc. I give really general guidelines that just make sense to these clients. Don’t eat crap food with sugar, this includes refined foods, candy, or sodas. I also tell them to avoid fried foods and fast foods if possible. The general guidelines may also be something like eat lean meat, vegetables, some fruit, and limited amounts of nuts and seeds. Besides that it can be dangerous. Even giving out this advice to a diabetic can be dangerous. Many are taking higher doses of insulin and other meds to lower blood sugar,  then when you tell them to cut the crappy foods out they have the ability go into hypoglycemia if they don’t change their meds and that is definitely not our job. That is why it is best to just have them work with their diabetes educator on this even though you may have other ideas.

It’s Just Food or is it?

At the end of the day it is food. As fitness professionals we should be educating ourselves on nutrition since it goes hand in hand with exercise. Being phobic of giving out nutritional guidelines is not necessary, but having common sense is. Granted, I have chosen to be a trainer and not a nutritionist as my career because I don’t want to deal with creating diets all day for people. I refer people to specific books such as the Paleo Solution or the Paleo Diet to read so they can make up their own mind if the philosophy I follow is right for them. Diet and nutrition has such a hold on people that really it has little to do about nutrition and more about having a degree in psychology. Food is just food until it isn’t.  I have actually referred a few of my client’s to OA (Overeaters Anonymous) which is a 12 step program for those that are addicted to sugar and have problems with food. It has actually worked very successfully for those that have participated in the program. In that situation there is nothing I could say or do for that person except to encourage them to get help.

As a training professional my job is to guide people on their journey of health. I do provide knowledge and education on nutrition to them, but I don’t market myself as a nutritional counselor. I train people to move better and become strong and conditioned which is my primary purpose.

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What about a Cheat Day?

I have received a few questions about cheat days on the 6 week Paleo Challenge. When can I have a cheat day? What is a good thing to cheat on? Cheat,Cheat,Cheat,Cheat,Cheat,Cheat,….. My response… Cheat all you want, just don’t expect the results you are looking for. “But it is important to me to have a cheat day for my emotional state!”.. My response, “Maybe you need to look at your relationship with food. Food should not control and make our emotions or behavior.” Most of us are on the challenge to see results. It is six weeks, 42 days of our lives, period. Stick with it, see the results. Why I don’t choose to cheat or recommend it. First off, if getting lean is your goal then you need to allow your body to work with itself. As you begin to eat by these guidelines your body will start utilizing fat a bit better and become less reliant on all the sugar circulating in your system at any given time. Your cheat will effectively then allow your body’s chemistry to start feeding on sugar again and throw off the fat burning machine your body is trying to create. Also, a meal that is less than desirable is one thing and an entire day of binging is another. Cheating also just makes it harder on you to stick with it. Once the Sugar is in your system you make it harder to break the sugar and insulin cycle again. Even cheating on one meal or desert, or having once isolated gorging session is not a good idea. Also, if you choose foods that have gluten in it remember that gluten can stay in your system for weeks and weeks. Allow your body to really adapt to this eating plan rather than fight it. Have your cheat meal 6 weeks from now because then you will have earned it. A week or two of eating healthy (that is all this diet is) does not deserve pats on the backs, sob stories, or cheats. May sound harsh but its the truth. It is just food and if you think food is too much pressure to control, then once again look at your relationship with food.
After the 6 weeks I encourage you try to eat the old way for a few meals and see how you feel. If you get the response of your body not liking it then you make the choice whether or not to go down the old road.

Stay strong and focused. Your body will thank you and you will know what you are capable of achieving with your body.

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Why I choose the Hardstyle Kettlebell Swing over the American Swing

There is more debate and rhetoric in the field of fitness and exercise than we really know what to do with. I guess when there is lots of passion in a given field of interest that opinions and emotions can run wild at times. Sometimes it is necessary and other times it’s just stirring the pot. Either way I love this industry because some of the adversity actually drives change.

This subject I am going to touch on has been debated by numerous sources and really is a small thing in the overall world of fitness, but for me it represents more of a philosophy and how are you training yourself or your clients. Any knucklehead trainer can just find another way to pulverize them into a pulp. It takes planning and actually knowing how to program make the clients better.  The Kettlebell Swing is one of my favorite movements. It develops power, posterior chain chain (butt strength), hip flexor flexibility, and cardiovascular conditioning. I won’t get into the debate between swinging a kettlebell or a dumbbell, but a kettlebell is superior for the ballistic movements, period.

Now I see different methodologies swinging the kettlebell above their head. As an RKC we swing the bell no higher than our chest/chin.  As the bell gets past the chin area it actually starts to slow down. Yes you can use some arm momentum and allow it to travel up above the head. But once again ask yourself “why are you doing this”.  The philosophy of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”, comes into play here.  Yes, it has the ability to increase your heart rate a bit by increasing some workload, but doing a hard style swing correctly will get your heart rate as high as you need it to go. But lets look at the cost to benefit of swinging the bell above your head.

First, when swinging the bell above the head the motion of the bell is going to be that of a circle. Your shoulder joint will act as an axis. So, it actuality if able the bell would continue a circle behind your body and circle back through your leg. I think all of us agree that it would be very unpleasant to have that happen. So what happens as the bell is traveling past the chin you have one of two options. Let the bell stop naturally where it may or put on the “breaks” with the bell now above your head. I don’t know about you but when the bell stops above head, you give gravity a shot at kicking in. Now with a 12kg bell it is probably not a big deal, but when I see workouts doing this with a 2 pood(70lb) bell I have more concerns, and don’t think this hasn’t happened. Also, many people have compromised T-spine mobility. In this situation mobility will either come from one of two places we don’t want, either the neck which will have to shoot forward through the arms/bell or the lower back which would mean hyper-extension. Either of these situations are not desirable for longevity in a exercise. Granted there are people that may be able to do this movement safely, but I am not sold on the benefit of this move with the risk associated with shoulder impingement or neck injury. If the bell needs to go above head in a ballistic movement the snatch is a much more appropriate movement.

Now having said that, there are still some people that should not snatch the kettlebell either. The reason I prefer the kettlebell snatch is due to the fact that the energy of the bell is actually directed upwards above the head rather that allowing the bell’s energy to go behind the head. The technique of the snatch involves a change in direction with a punching motion. As I say this I know that there are YouTube videos showing someone snatch a bell that is no different than a one arm American swing.Now you may say, “I have been doing American Swings for years and I have never had a problem.” My answer, “that is great for you”, but I still choose not to teach them to my clients. As Pavel has said “allow people to be as stupid as they want to be, as long as they are not paying you for it.” If you can show me that doing the American Swing is superior to a snatch or a strait up Hardstyle Swing workout then I will listen. And I don’t mean a workout that is meant to crush someone in 5 minutes by doing random acts of exercise. I am talking about a practical training session that is focused on a goal then I will be interested in listening. If power production is the goal then the above head swing doesn’t add any benefit.  The primary power of the swing happens at the hips, not as the bell travels above head. The Hardstyle swing is NOT a half rep as some less experienced people in the fitness industry call it.  Just as a kipping pull-up is not more athletic than someone that can rep out strict pull-ups with no momentum.

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