Friday, December 26, 2008

Do it for Bob

A few years back this article was a great piece of motivation. It was reprinted again, and when I reread it, I felt it was worth sharing.

And for those who aren't aware today is a very important day. It's the day you clean house of all the garbage you've accumulated over the two weeks leading up to Christmas. Throw out the extra cookies, leftover cakes and start getting back into the swing of things. One last hurrah is coming your way on New Years, but there is no reason to wait. People who succeed will not use New Years as an excuse to postpone their road to the better life. Will you?

Monday, December 22, 2008

A New York Sports Club Review: First Impressions

This post was inspired by my training at a New York Sports Club this week. As I'm home for the holidays my normal gym on the other side of the country is unavailable, so it's trail membership time at the local gym. The guy gave me some schpiel about trying to lock me in for a full term membership and wasted about 10 minutes of both of our time(that's 20 total minutes for the math whizzes out there). He was a pretty good salesman and probably would have conned most people in to one, but frankly I don't know if having a membership in a town you don't reside in would be all that useful.

As for the workout. I had a fairly simple workout lined up that involved box squats, glute ham raises, forward lunges, one legged box squats and some bar roll outs. I guess it would be considered simple in most gyms, but not here.

The locker room area was pretty nice with all the amenities one could dream of. Honestly I thought it was too nice, and they could have better spent the money on, umm round plates. Seriously all the plates were shaped like stop signs with holes in them. As Lyle MacDonald has taught me, there is no way to keep the power inside the bar if you have plates with holes in them. He's right as everything I tried to lift felt heavier than it actually was.

Try doing a bar rollout with plates shaped like this...

The warm up area was pretty sparse. So sparse in fact was all it had was some as seen on tv ab device that I thought went out with the 20th century and every different sized fitness ball you could imagine in this putrid green color. Sadly there were no foam rollers in sight(*edit* I found a foam roller on day 2!). I don't know how anyone could start a workout without one of them.

One sign I noticed that was pretty cool was that cell phone usage was limited to designated areas. It was as if cell phone users were akin to smokers, and this is as it should be. I hate people that use cell phones in the middle of sets. If you are that important, just skip the workout and get the lipo. It reminded me of a sign that the boys at Cressey Performance hung up after I had left. I believe I inadvertantly provided the frame for that sign. There are exceptions to the cell phone rule, though there are few and far between. One acceptable reason might be that you are making dinner plans with Jessica Alba.

That better be you on the other end, else get your butt back in the squat rack

The center had your standard run of treadmill/ellipticals and bikes all equipped with your very own television. I even saw a girl reading a book while on the elliptical. I honestly get car sick reading, so I'm not entirely sure if this elliptical reading is humanly possible. I quickly came to the conclusion that she must be an alien as that was the only rational explanation. I wasn't able to get a glance as to what she* was reading but I'll just assume it must have been the most rivetting book ever. Anyone else have some ridiculous spottings at the gym, feel free to post them in the comments section below.

My favorite machine by far(sarcasm) had to be this smith-machine-like-contraption that not only was controlled in the vertical plane but also the horizontal. This is to ensure that you actually don't do much of the work at all as the contraption will stablize the whole thing for you while you can pretend you are really strong because you get to use the big boy plates for the first time. I think it would be better served up front right next to the lockers for additional coat rack space.

So the glute ham raises didn't happen as I wasn't able to find any suitable equipment to do them, or even a place to do natural hams. As for the bar roll outs, lets just say I had to substitute another exercise. All in all this isn't a training environment I can thrive in, but hopefully can hold me over through the holidays.

*I'm not well versed in aliens, so I'm not sure if they assume the female human form they actually are female. Maybe they are in fact like slugs and possess the abilities to be either sex.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Should I have burst this guy's bubble?

So the other day I was in the supplement store picking up some post workout goodness and I started chatting it up with a guy who had seemingly been working out consistently for about a month and was ready to step up his game. He had apparently been cutting back his soda intake and felt it was time for some post workout shake.

He then pointed to a magazine that had a roided out, veiny freak on the cover and said "I don't want to look like that."


He then pointed to a men's fitness super ripped lean guy and said "I just want to look like that." I didn't have the heart to tell him that those guys don't look like that all the time, if ever and he would need a lot more than a post workout drink and cutting back on soda. He would also need the help of photoshop and a fake tan, much like that cover model.

Can Joe Six Pack with a desk job look like this?

Anyway my point is that one needs to set realistic goals for the amount of work they are putting in. I don't expect to be a fitness cover model any time soon, because frankly I don't train like one, and I'm not going to take any shortcuts to get there. I think people realistically see these cover model guys, read one article about their diet and training and think "hey, this ain't so bad, I can do that." Well you probably could if you quit your job, spent all your time perfecting your diet, and spent ample amounts of time in the gym and had some good genetics or drugs working on your side. If that is what you want to do then great, but if you aren't going to do those things don't expect to be on the cover of next months magazine. You get out what you put in. It is that simple.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Grocery Store Wars

Some people have way too much time on their hands. Gotta love the Cannoli.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Trying New Things: Foods & Herb Growing Kit

The theme for me this past week was trying new things. So I picked up a bunch of cool new stuff at the natural food store and Costco that I don't normally buy:

Asian Pear (have to be honest, have no idea what to do with this thing)
Sprouted Grain Bread (despise bread, although a new york bagel sounds good right about now)
Almond Butter (peanut butter guy by trade)
Raw Cashews and Brazil Nuts (usually and almond and walnut guy)
Kale & Mustard Greens (spinach almost exclusively)
Mixed Frozen Berries (usually just go for the straight blueberries)

Dang, I almost made it into the picture

Having a variety of foods in your diet is beneficial for sure. So get away from your comfort foods and try some new things. Who knows you may find you really like something, or at least you'll know you don't ever want to try something again.

I even picked up an herb growing kit. Frankly paying $4 for a sprig of something has always pissed me off(you end up throwing out the rest), so growing some stuff in house will definitely save some dough in the long run. Should be fun as well. Hopefully I remember to water them. If you don't see a picture of them sprouted in the near future you'll know it was a bad idea.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Body Composition Analysis


So I had my body composition analyzed before Thanksgiving Dinner (I wonder what it is now), and over the two tests the both came in roughly the same. This was an assignment per my Precision Nutrition coaching.

Bio-Impedence which isn't really known for its accuracy (especially when dealing with overweight and obese) came in at 12% body fat. Not too shabby. Honestly I thought it would have been a bit higher, but heck it's not all that accurate right?

Next came the fun part with the skin pinching and caliper measuring. With that test I managed a 12.28%. This test is more accurate and I feel a little more confident with this one. My score would fair better if I could get rid of some more abdominal fat, and some lower back fat which tends to be my problem areas. Yey for being an endomorph.

And now for my rant. I think people tend to put too much weight(pun intended) into these percentages and even more so when dealing with the scale. Rather than using this data to analyze exercise and diet habits and make tweak here or there, they become demotivated and mentally defunct.

To me these numbers represent just another way to measure progress. My main marker that I will continue to use is strength and performance, frankly because it's simple and it works. I think this is just something that training at Cressey Performance ingrained in my head. Or maybe it's the constant emails from Tony Gentilcore saying "I will always, ALWAYS tell people that if you train for strength/performance, the aesthetics will follow (assuming they're not eating like a nimrod). You[Gregg] are a true representation of that. It works!"

Tony, what can I say, you've made me a believer. So here is a good list of all the things you can do to measure progress, in decending order of how I value each one.

Strength/Performance - As measured by 1RM testing, or some other form of test that you can replicate and show improvement with. Tony recently blogged about a 225lb bench press test you can check that out here. I personally use things like a box squat, deadlift, bench press and 3 rep chin-up as my markers as outlined in Eric Cressey's book. He also even uses some various jumps with his clients to track progress as well (vertical, broad, etc).

Photos - A picture every few months really lets you visually see progression. Who cares what the scale says when you look leaner, jeans fit better, etc.

Body Composition Analysis - I think I've discussed this enough above.

Girth Measurements - Basically you measure the length around things like calves, biceps, waist, etc to see how the measurements change over time. The only thing misleading about this is if you were to put on a ton of fat your biceps might get bigger, but it's not because of muscle.

Scale - I don't really like to use this exclusively because it doesn't address any change in lean tissue as opposed to fat weight. If someone was trying to get lean it would be pretty difficult using this as the only means of measurement.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Airport Escalator

Hope everyone had a happy and safe holiday. And for those of you that partook in the black friday Wal-Mart shenanigans, that put a damper on the entire day ought to be ashamed. Traveling back to Long Island to see my family and friends was a treat, but that sure didn't sit right the entire weekend, especially since it happened in close proximity. Anyhow the trip went well aside from the aforementioned and the flight back.

My night flight basically turned into a red eye when delays put me back in Utah after 3am. One thing I did take notice of was after everyone got to the escalators to go to baggage claim their legs would take one step on and instantly left them immobile. Reminds me of this advertisement:

I don't see why everyone needs to make things so easy on themselves. The wheels on my luggage never touch the ground as I carry it to the escalator, where by some modern miracle I put one foot in front of the other and walk up them, as if they were stairs.

We've become habitually lazy because of conveniences like these. So next time try and inconvenience yourself a bit and increase that NEPA (Non-Exercise Physical Activity). Even if your NEPA only amounted to a meager 10 calories a day (it certainly can be more) that would be one extra pound you wouldn't see on the scale upon years end. Simply taking stairs over elevators, parking farther away, carrying luggage, chewing gum, etc can all increase that calorie burn.