Before we get into the nuts and bolts of success, here is a video regarding where I stand with the application of the ‘cheat day’. As far as I am aware, I have been experimenting with it for far longer than most out there and here I break down the application in addition to some of the science behind it. Enjoy!
This past weekend I had the pleasure of going to two different seminars which meant a weekend of traveling but it was well worth it. On Friday, I was up at DeFranco’s Gym in Wyckoff, NJ to learn more about the business side of training from Joe Defranco, Paul Reddick, Vince Gabriele and Jim ‘Smitty’ Smith.
All four of these guys run super successful businesses and they are people I look up to. In fact, I have been a part of Paul’s mastermind in the past and Vince is currently my business coach. Just like in other areas of my life, I feel that its important to have a Coach in anything you want to get better in. But that is a different article for a different time. Following that seminar, I went up to Rhode Island to another Charles Poliquin seminar and it was good, the highlight being the presentation by the New England Patriots strength coach staff.
Paul Reddick, one of the smart business guys I know also possesses a street smart knowledge which makes for a very rare combination. Every time I get to hear him present, I walk away scratching my head but also having a whole bunch of new ideas to implement. One of the things that Paul always talks about is progress, not perfection. He is fond of saying ,’Move the chains’ and it is a great point for nearly anyone. Sometimes, I find myself getting or thinking too far ahead and I need to stop and realize that I just need to get better each day, that’s all. The second thing I was reminded of by going up to the Poliquin seminar was something he said a few months ago when I went to the BioSignature course and that is: “Their easy is your hard….”. This makes so much sense and it is something that I have forgotten at times.
Not every one has the mindset that you can create the life you want at will (although it is true), in fact, most people have the mindset that life is a struggle and that to accomplish anything, it will require a lot of hard work (also true). The mindset that you can accomplish anything you want is known as ‘open architecture’ and it is something worthy to pursue, but in the mean time, I’d like to make a few other salient points.
If you remember what Paul said, just keep moving the chains, you can win the hour and thus win the day. All you have to do is to make it through to the next day and build some momentum. However, most people want instant gratification and that will get you nowhere but frustrated. If we look at how addicts have to approach their daily struggle, they just need to win each day. Do you think any addict would be successful if they thought too far ahead? If all they thought about what the mountainous challenge that faced them head on? Hell no, it would be too intimidating. Well, it’s the same thing with success in anything. The people that do manage to have success have just failed far more than anyone else in those failures, they have learned how to succeed and they have expanded their comfort zones. I find it amusing when clients want me to start them right up on a full fledged nutrition plan right away and I used to do this for people, until I realized: ‘my easy is their hard’. The normal person is not going to spend an hour on Sundays, heck, make it two hours, grilling up chicken and putting it in tupperware. At least not initially. When I give someone one thing to work on, there is an 85% success rate, when I bump it up to 2 things, the success rate drops down to 30%. Again, win the week in terms of your nutrition or workout and then build upon it the next week. Everything comes down to behavioral psychology. When I used to go the Villanova basketball camp with Coach Steve Lappas back in high school, he used to say the same thing every summer: “Each time you touch the basketball, you get a fraction of a percent better, even if its just 1/100th of 1 percent.” Again, this applies to everything. In 100 days, you would be 1% better and by the end of the year, 3% better.
It’s the same principle as compounding interest. How bad do you want to be great or how much do you want to succeed? Just remember to move the chains one yard at a time, don’t worry about getting in the end zone because it will eventually sneak up on you and you will look back one day realizing it was the inch by inch mindset that go you to where you then stand. And o yeah, never stop learning!
Yesterday was the first full cheat day that I had in quite some time. If you have been following along, I have been on a mission to get my body fat down to 10% or less and I have a firm deadline in place. I am finally starting to train hard again, a year after my knee injury. So, what does my current diet look like? Its very simple and there are no secrets. I have as much passion for fat loss, hypertrophy and diet/nutrition as I do for training, which is one of the reason’s I have been striving to make Newell Strength known for both. They go hand in hand, like 2 wheels on a bike. ‘The bike don’t work properly when both wheels aren’t working together’.
For the majority of the week, I have been doing a protein and fiber rich diet and low to moderate fat. I consume very little carbohydrate, coming in the forms of veggies. This is very similar to what I used to do when I was competing. Am I doing this for the long term? Probably not, rather I am using it to jump-start the fat loss process. On Friday nights I have been doing a small reefed, this past Friday nights meal consisting of five rolls of Sushi. This is just to get my through Saturdays workouts, yes that is plural. I’ll address the workouts in a minute. On Sunday nights, I have been doing a 3-hour window of ‘re-feeding’ to offset some of the downturns in metabolism that we will see when in caloric deficit. These include drop in thyroid levels, testosterone levels, IGF-1, leptin to name a few. So you see, these windows do serve a purpose. Here is the problem: most people focus too much on the re-feed or cheat, making it the sole purpose of the diet. I made this mistake too at one point in my more immature dieting days and it is surely a road to nowhere. And if you are too fat, say above 15% for a male and 25% for a female, you don’t really need a cheat meal window physiologically. You may need it psychologically and I don’t believe one meal per week will do any harm in your efforts, but for sure its not needed physically.
Back to my diet. Remember, this is for fat loss and body recomposition, which means trying to maintain a relative weight or in the neighborhood of 225 but shift the balance of muscle and fat. So far, its been working. My cheat day yesterday, which was a success, looked like this:
1. I started with a 40 gram Metabolic Drive protein shake with one cup of raw milk. I did this because I was starving and I wanted to at least control myself at my in-law’s Mother’s Day breakfast. I grabbed a coffee with a shot of espresso on the way to the breakfast (normal Sunday morning routine).
2. At breakfast, I had half a loaf of chocolate chip crumb cake, 8 mini chocolate and cream cheese strudels, 3 sausage links, 4 cage free whole eggs, 4 small pancakes, 1 cup of potatoes and some rasberries.
3. When we got home, I had 2 large cinnabon rolls with 1 large bowl of fruity pebbles. I took a nap, woke up and hour later and repeated the exact same meal along with some meatballs Devon had cooked up. I used vanilla almond milk with the cereal.
4. I sipped on two glasses of Jersey Devil wine while making my family burgers and such for my side of the family. I had an 8oz grass fed beef cheeseburger on a bun, one large baked potato, 1 cup of potato salad and a few French fries.
5. For dessert, I had 1 3×3 inch piece of ‘slutty brownie’ that Devon made, along with 3 scoops of ice cream.
6. To top it off, I had one more bowl of fruity pebbles before going to bed.
How do I feel today? Absolutely great, actually very hungry. This is one of the signs I look for after a full cheat day. I also woke up sweating last night, meaning I had to ‘disrobe’ down to my boxers in the middle of the night because my clothes were soaked. Notice that my cheat day had a purpose though, I was trying to get in as many carbs as possible to refill glycogen levels for the week ahead. Based on my hunger levels after breakfast, I’d say I fell a bit short.
Notice that some of what I do is based on my intuitive knowledge and some of it is based on science. All good coaches do this. I have been reading up a bit on Metabolic Typing and it reiterates the point that every single body is different. I know what works for me and I can replicate it time and time again. I do get a kick out of prospective clients that want me to ‘fix’ them in a month so they can be jacked and ripped. A good coaching relationship takes time to cultivate and for me to learn the athletes body.
And I am in the process of hiring my own personal coach for the next year, as I do believe in the value of having your own Coach, wouldn’t I be a hypocrite if I thought otherwise? Is it a necessity? No, but it is a time saver and a learning experience. As far as training is concerned, I am very concerned with a trend I am seeing and that is: people think they can just follow a nutrition plan and train half ass and get results. NO! You must train intensely along with your diet plan. Otherwise, you may lose weight, but we can do that by chopping off an arm too. If you are trying to re-composition your body, it is going to take some serious effort, not three 40 minute workouts per week. And cutting out on things like leg day or lower body day is not the right mentality. And if you tell me that you don’t have time, then that’s fine, but you won’t get the results you are after.
There is a big psychological and behavioral component to this as well but that is a different article for a different day. I will also be writing about metabolic destruction this week and why I follow the plan I am following after years of competing and chronic dieting. Stay tuned!
HEAT SEEKING MISSILE AND FAT LOSS
Luckily, I got to snap this pick while waiting at a traffic light. What the F? It is a pitiful state when people get so damn fat and out of shape that they need to roll around town in an electric scooter. I do not feel bad for them and they are a burden to the health care system. I will be writing a follow up article on this entire article, but for those that say: maybe they don’t know what to eat. To that I say, listen to your body! If you feel like sh** two hours after you ate, something is wrong and your body is telling you something. I don’t want to hear thyroid and faulty metabolism, etc. AND, think about this, have you ever eaten anything by accident? My friend on the scooter put years and years of work into that physique. But with that said, I do have people in pretty bad shape that do seek me out to help and for them, I give them an ovation. Change is hard but riding around in a scooter because you are too fat/lazy/can’t move right, should be a clear sign that your body has had enough abuse.
I am often astounded at the lack of effort you will see from an ordinary man. Many, many people are just happy to be average and ‘not stick out’. Let me ask you a question….did God or whatever you believe in not provide you with more than enough opportunity to do great things with? I pride Newell Strength on being a place where clients and athletes can be propelled on to do greater things in their life. If you don’t think kicking a workout’s ass and owning it have anything to do with the rest of your life, you are making a big mistake.
You need to take time every year, month, day, to be awesome. This means that you have to attack something with all your passion and become superior at it. That is one of the main reasons I always loved competing, because of the supreme focus it gave me and knowing I was doing something that 99% of people would be too soft to do.
As you may or may not know, right now I am in the process of getting my body fat down under 10%, nothing super compared to 5% but it’s a tangible goal and a place for me to start. I am not doing this for health reasons so much as I am for the simple idea of being awesome, doing something hard to get focused and to remind myself of what my athletes and clients are feeling. I do not mind being hungry or any of the side effects of dieting as I embrace them and when I feel them I put them back in their place.
When you are trying to achieve something out of the ordinary, you must expect balance to go out the window along with it. Don’t worry, you can regain your balanced life once you hit your goals, whatever they may be. This should add to your sense of urgency to reach your goals even faster. People have been asking me this week what I have been doing, since they can notice the change in my face and arms as I get leaner and I don’t really have a good answer for them. I simply envision myself as a heat-seeking missile and go after it. There are no options, no choices, I simply do!
Last weekend we went over to a birthday party for my niece but since it wasn’t cheat night for me, guess what? You got it, I didn’t have pizza or cake, although I would have loved to and I brought a bag of chicken to throw on the grill. You see, too many people have too many ‘wants’. You either want to be lean and lose fat or you don’t. If you want to have your cake a couple of times per week, then there is your answer. And no, don’t take it personally, it is what it is. When you make up your mind to do something you don’t also create an option B because it will only distract you.
As you may have seen in one of my other articles, I have an alter ego, some combination of Danny Trejo, Marshall Mathers and the Terminator and no I am not kidding. You have one too, even if you try to ignore it. Why is it important? Because you will be having conversations with yourself constantly when you are trying to do something hard that is going to push you outside your comfort zone. The alter ego(s) must be there to take a stand and not give in to your quibbling.
To be a heat seeking missile, you cannot let other people get in your way and more importantly you must get out of your own way. This goes for the athletes I train at Newell Strength that may have no concern for fat loss but who desire to be the best. Are you going to wake up early to practice? Are you going to take time to prepare your meals? Are you going to be that kid that leaves the party to go life (I was). If you aren’t, then there is your answer. Being awesome looks good and sounds good on paper but your actions will speak louder than your words.
I have often talked about time and the value of it. Or in some cases, the lack of value most people place on it. Time is often thrown away, spent for nothing in return and rarely thought about. I went down to see Charlie Weingroff (see video below) the other morning and the only time we could both make work with our schedules was 6AM down in Marlboro, about 40 minutes away. I didn’t hesitate to book it because I knew the visit would help me.
One of the worst excuses in the world is that you don’t have time. We all have the same amount of time, we just choose to use it differently. I wrote a few months back about how while I was driving out to my grandmother’s funeral in Pittsburgh, I decided to listen to a time management CD by Dan Kennedy. I realized after listening for the 8+ hours how much I have been slacking off on commanding my time. Some of my friends think I am crazy that I schedule out my weekdays down to the minute, but I get so much more done this way. If you have ever tried calling me unscheduled you now know why I do not pick up. And when I do have a phone appointment, I make sure it has a definite ending time before I get on the phone. Again, respect your time, let other people throw theirs away.
If you want to accomplish great things in life, you need to command your time. I am not sure who it was, maybe one of the Schwab’s off the top of my head, but he was asked for a secret to his success. So he took out a napkin and scribbled something on it, handed it to the inquirer and said, “If you follow the secret on that napkin, it will yield you know less than $25,000 extra in the next year (equivalent to over half a million now days). When the inquirer opened it up, he was disappointed to see that all it said was simply: “Schedule your days out the night before.”
There is nothing sexy about it, nothing magical and all it takes is a little discipline. I can hear people saying now that they don’t have time for this type of thing, see what I’m talking about? People want to be great but they can’t bring themselves to do something as simple as this. What is the purpose of this entire maniacal attitude towards my time? I love the sense of purpose and accomplishment I get during and at the end of each and every day and it allows me to create my ideal life, which means no more working on the weekends since I’ve stopped teaching. This allows Devon and I time to enjoy each other without my being distracted.
Want to get lean? Use your time wisely and wake up early if need be. If you can’t do that, then you don’t really want to be lean, you just like the idea of it. I cannot tell yo how often I have people tell me they want to be lean and in the best shape of their life yet they are the same one and two months later. How come they couldn’t do it but others could? Is it some secret ‘thyroid’ issue? Nope, just a difference in attitude and with that, how they use their time towards their goal. I have a definite deadline of June 1st to be under 10% body fat. I know what I will look like and where I will go from there. Dave Tate once told me that when you are on a mission, set a start and ending date, otherwise there is no urgency. While talking with my boy, the Wolverine, last night, we decided where we are going to be at certain dates throughout the summer. We used to be buddies on the competition trail and now we do it for the love of being awesome and getting in the best shape we can. If you need a contest to get lean and in shape, you are employing backwards thinking. That doesn’t mean I am opposed to competing, it means you need to be clear on what you are doing and why.
Finally, the point you thought I’d never get to. Some dieting advice and tips to look for. I always become ultra aware of these things when on the journey myself and it follows the same patterns almost every time. So, if you are trying to get lean, really lean, look for these things to happen:
• You will start to get lean in certain areas first. Usually the face and cheek and then from there its individual. For me, I have a certain vein that comes out in my right arm and I know I am on the right track. For guys the belly will be one of the last things to go and for the females it will be the glues and thighs.
• Your body temperature will drop. This is normal when you are in the appropriate caloric deficit. Leptin, thyroid, testosterone, IGF-1 and other hormones will crash after just 4 days of a deficit. Your body will literally begin to shut systems down and you will notice body temperature coming down. This is one of many reasons you need re-feeds.
• Getting up in the morning should be much easier and I attribute this to keeping insulin under control on a consistent basis.
• Hunger is constant, but not severe. You will always have the feeling (besides your cheat meals) where you could definitely eat more.
• Urination levels will go up. This is due to two reasons. 1)Less carbohydrate for your water to bind with. We are aiming for lower glycogen levels any way to lose body fat, but look at the name carbo-HYDRATE and you will see that for every one gram of carbs it’ll bind with 3 grams of water. 2) As your body begins to break down and mobilize body fat, it will release the toxins in the fat cells, and thus they will have to be excreted via the urine.
There are many more, but if you are just starting, these will save you some time to know if you are on the right track. By the way, the Wolverine and I will be starting our own Internet radio show unlike everything you have ever heard before. And, if you are interested in the fat loss stuff I spoke of, check out the banner with the link to my fat loss seminar page. Win the day!
Well, its been one year since the knee injury and in the video below, I reflect and re-live. That knee injury has helped to help me become a much better Coach and it has propelled Newell Strength to the next level of physical preparation. Enjoy the video and check out some of the other random stuff below the video!
*Danny Peltack, starting tackle at Immaculata High School, has been training with us at Newell Strength for the past 3 months. He has his high school combine this weekend. When Danny started, he was benching 185 for 2, yesterday he got it for 14! He also took his vertical from 21.5″ to 26.25″! This is for a sophomore that is 6’5″ and now has his weight up to 280 pounds. Weight up, body fat lower=awesome!
*Newell Strength was mentioned in two different newspaper articles this week, kind of ironic since I never go out to seek these things. But people must be noticing what we have going on and when you follow your passion, only good things can happen. There articles are here and here
*One of our members, Casey Ransone, was recently named head football Coach at St. Joseph’s of Metuchen. The article is here
*Just thought I’d give my 2 cents on last week’s Rutgers debacle. I watched the press-conference and was disgusted by president Robert L. Barchi. It was pathetic to watch him squirm and use academic language to do everything but take responsibility. YOU sir, are in charge there, it falls on YOU! If that is who they want as a leader, good luck. I was also disgusted by Chris Christie coming out in support of Barchi while saying it was the right move for Pernetti to resign. Pernetti wanted Rice gone right away! I love Christie as a politician, but that shit made me sick. The world needs some real men to stand up and stop doing everything for the almighty dollar! I will be writing some articles coming up about being a MAN and will certainly cite this. Heck, this instance might even make it into my Manifesto.
*I will be speaking at Kean University this upcoming Monday and Raritan Valley Community College next Friday. I love going to speak to the students and give them some straight talk, no BS. I will be audio-recording it and they will be put into one of the other books I am working on.
Keep making yourself better, good things will happen…and oh yeah, happy anniversary knee:)
I have not been having as much time to write as normal. This is not due to being lazy (come on now!), but rather I have been extremely busy working within my passion, my business, the business of Newell Strength. You may have noticed that in nearly all my writings, I rarely if ever refer to myself as a personal trainer or strength coach because to be honest, the quality in this field is currently piss poor. Normally I will refer to myself as the Human Strength Expert, a Physical Preparation Coach or Teacher. Why I am telling you this? Simply because this is not a job title to me or a career, it is my passion. When people ask me about my competition in central New Jersey or even Hillsborough for that matter, I answer that I don’t have any competition. Not because I am an egotistical maniac but because I am only competing with myself, I am not trying to better anyone nor do I care what others are doing, unless I know they know more than me.
This article will seem to bounce around a bit, but the theme is efficiency, and how appropriate that as I write this, my countdown timer has just crossed the 17 minute mark, you see, I need to be efficient in everything I do because I am obsessed with getting better and helping those that get in touch with me get better. In the past month, I have traveled over 4,000 miles to speak with various top experts in the field of the human body, simply because they are the best and to be efficient in learning, I would rather pay a nice sum rather than buying all their books and taking weeks to read them. Efficiency. (PS- I do have all the books, its just a quicker way for me to learn before I get around to reading the books in their entirety).
I have been implementing the BioSignature method with all my members at Newell Strength and the Functional Movement Screen. Do they have anything to do with each other? Sure, but I couldn’t tell you exactly how, but I could speculate. Will they help make my clients healthier, move better and look better? Guaranteed. Will they help my athletes get stronger, bigger, more powerful and more likely avoid injury? You bet! In other words, they make the results more efficient at Newell Strength. Efficiency.
I often have athletes that get down on themselves that don’t have a 30” vertical or run a 4.5 forty. One, that’s a reason I am not big into testing, because most of the time they are coming to me to get better, not so I can tell them they are pathetic or need to work on things. I am trying to build their confidence. Second, I often explain Larry ‘The Legend” Bird. Bird could hardly jump over a phone book, yet he knew how to use his body efficiently. He would take 500 jumpers before games. He was efficient. He knew how to use his body. You don’t need to be a Lebron James to maximize your basketball or athletic potential. You need to be efficient with your body.
Just yesterday, I was down in Manasquan working with one of my coaches, Jon Torine, formerly the strength coach for the Idianapolis Colts for 14 years. He recently moved back to Jersey, we met, and I hired him to fix me and so I could learn from him. Efficiency. Yesterday, while learning from him, I also got to hang with Rob Morris, linebacker for 10 years for the Colts, who happened to be in town visiting from Utah. We got to discuss our war stories (injuries) and how the FMS helped remove the pain and get us (I’m still working on it), back to normal. Rob is interested in learning the field now that he is retired, so guess what? He walks around with a notebook taking notes from those that are smarter than he to learn better. Efficiency.
I study a minimum of 2 hours per day now, at least Monday thru Friday and I would study more if I could make more hours in the day. Its interesting now that I have started forming so great relationships with Chiropractors, Physical Therapists, Medical Doctors and Alternative Medical Doctors. And now when I go to them, rather than being another patient, we speak as colleagues about different aspects of the body and we share ideas. We have a mutual respect for each other and our meetings become more efficient.
The more you learn, the more you earn. And I am not talking about money (although that’s also true). You earn more of your passion and new opportunities open up for you. So now you see why I don’t like to put titles on what I do. I help people feel better and athletes perform better. Simple…efficient, but please don’t put in the same category as a globo gym or in shape person that thought it would be cool to get into the field. Thanks for reading.
I am setting out on this blog with a lot on my mind that I’d like to share with you. It may not seem to fit together but I will tie it all in at the end.
I went to the FMS this past weekend, which stands for Functional Movement Systems. It was very enlightening and something we will rely on at Newell Strength for screening movement, preventing injuries and assessment. I had the pleasure of listening to Gray Cook, the founder of FMS and even got to talk with him privately, which I will get to in a little bit.
Gray said a few things in the seminar that really hit home with me. He told us that when he wanted to learn kettle bells inside and out, he went to learn from Pavel, a master Russian strength coach. He said he was uncomfortable as hell because it was new to him. I felt the same way at the FMS. My head was spinning and I felt overwhelmed but I knew and know that once I put it to use, study it some more and use it, it will become second nature. You cannot let discomfort dissuade you from growing. Most people simply give up upon being uncomfortable, no matter whether it is mental, emotional, spiritual or physical discomfort, humans just can’t stand to be uncomfortable.
And many of you I am sure, no matter what your endeavor, are not confident in your value and worth. I address this more in a recent youtube video (seen below). I suffer from this from time to time, but something I picked up from Charles Poliquin helped me out a lot. Whenever you have doubts, repeat to yourself 50X, “I honor my value and time.” Its that simple. When I had self-doubts about whether I would ever meet the right partner, it began with a mantra of self-belief and months later Devon showed up in my life. Think what you want, but we get what we believe we can get and what we focus on expands.
If you focus on what you are doing rather than who you are being, you will live a shallow life. That is one reason why attempting to diet is a failing proposition. Ask yourself each day instead if you are being your best self, are you being a champion in your undertakings? Self-reflection is hard but essential.
I think what many people really need is clarity and for this, I want to recommend a book to you. I am not done with it yet, but after taking the first few tests in it, I can strongly recommend the Passion Test. It will help you get clear on what is important to you. But if you are going to do this, don’t go half way, actually do it, don’t just go through the motions. This was another Poliquin recommendation. You see, when I go to this places to learn from people far smarter than me, I pay attention to every single thing they say. If they say to read a book, I order it that night, I don’t hesitate and wonder because that will not get me to where I want to be.
Investing in yourself is better than any stock you can invest in. And I can tell you it is the only way you will ever live the life of your dreams. You know that an investment in yourself will pay off 100X if you want it to, the hard part is realizing it falls on your shoulders, no one else’s. But the thing is, once you follow your passion, it is pure fun, something you can do 24 hours per day. Notice I didn’t say you should de-value yourself and do it for free, but you will find yourself jumping out of bed in the morning to learn more about it, to get the essence of it.
If you hate your life and what you do, you are currently pathetic. Not to insult you, but to awake you. I am happy that people often comment that they get more out of my philosophical videos than they do from the science videos. And don’t try to be someone else, because someone else already has that job. Be yourself and be the best self you can be. When you realize you create your world, things get a lot more fun. Enjoy the book and the video.
I was recently asked by a prospective intern what I look to do best during the day while focusing on building Newell Strength. In truth, I like to learn by far the best and I like writing second, but if I had a choice, I’d sit on my butt, watch sitcom re-runs and eat pizza.
Don’t be confused, what I mean is that I, just like you, have a choice each and every day to decide what we want to do. I often think about what if any my next tattoo will be and I have decided it will be of a mule. Why a mule? Because it is the most efficient animal on the planet, just plodding along, getting the job done. Not that I have done anything remarkable such as some of the members of Newell Strength have, but I do realize that some of the college students that I speak to and have come to the gym for mentoring look up to what WE have created at Newell Strength. But I also realize the look of disappointment on their faces when they want me to tell them the secret and I respond: “The truth: any accomplishments I have had came slowly and painstakingly, that my success was the result of mule-like hard work and monkey like imitation.”
Just a year ago, I was working 100 hours per week, no that is not a mis-print, getting up before dawn each day, toiling through the night while my competitors, real or imagined, were sleeping. A few times actually working myself to such exhaustion that I had to take visits to the ER and which also led to this mug shot:
You may have seen it on my site before or on facebook and rather than being ashamed of it, I actually cherish it because that look, the picture, was a sacrifice I made to get to where I am today. I look ill and I was ill, chasing my dream well over the obstacles in which my body begged me to stop. Now, I am in a better place because I knew in my heart of hearts that that period would pass and all the hard work would pay off. I knew it was bad when I would wake up in the mornings and my first thought would be of fantasizing about possibly sneaking in a nap. Actually, I did do this during school hours on my lunch break while I was competing in bodybuilding, teaching and building up Newell Strength.
The roads I have used are the same roads that everyone has access too. Its just that some people use them to commute to jobs they hate, the bars, the clubs and getaways while I used them to go to the library (I used to do this every night before I started dating Devon), seminars all across the country and speaking engagements where there were two people listening to me.
Some of you will get this because you have been down the same road and already chose the path I chose. You know who you are and I follow in your lead, I commend you. There is no secret to those of you wondering what you want to BE(ing), the secret is that I work really hard, ALL the time. If you can’t do that like 99% of the people then it falls squarely on you.
Go after your dreams with a dogged determination, iron discipline, energy and desire and see where you end up. Plus, I never had the blue blood of thoroughbred☺
Getting to see and train many of the top athletes in central New Jersey at Newell Strength, I am often amazed at their athletic abilities. Many of these athletes train their butts off during the off and pre-seasons and to much success. However, it is rare that we get the athlete that will continue to train during the season. Maybe its my fault for not educating you guys on the importance of maintenance, so here ya go.
When I was in high school, I started my maniacal training regimen during the summer of my junior year. I fell so in love with lifting that I almost gave up basketball entirely to focus solely on lifting. I wound up playing varsity both my junior and senior years, thank God, because I had a hell of a time, but I didn’t let the season stop my pursuit of the iron game.
While most athletes are concerned with maintaining their strength and performance improvements, I was concerned with trying to maintain my path on the bodybuilding train and continuing to make gains. So I was eating 6 uber-big meals per day, carrying around snacks during school and lifting before school and after games/practice. Yes, I used to ride my bike to the YMCA, a few miles per way to workout before school because I knew sometimes I wouldn’t get a great workout in after banging around with the bigger centers in our conference.
The problem is, many athletes don’t pay any attention to in season training, often citing that they don’t have enough time during the season. Let me be clear, ‘not enough time’= you don’t want it bad enough. Plain and simple, the finger really only points at you yourself. Now, I do know that energy reserves and time are limited during the season and that the specific skill training and bulk of training should take place at practice.
And, actual games are very draining on the CNS, so a recovery workout should follow suit. To maintain, it only takes one lifting day per week with more of a bodybuilding style of training, tempo controlled. For many high school and college athletes, pros too for that matter, it is very hard to maintain muscle mass during the season, so this means that we need some work to maintain as much mass as possible. An in season workout should be quick and it is ok to go heavy as well, just remember the drain on the CNS from games and practices.
Lastly, working your butt off during the off season is akin to building your dream vacation house. Not doing any in-season training is like just leaving that house during the fall and winter months, with no body keeping an eye on it. When you go back, you may not have to start with square one but its going to be beat up and need a lot of work. Which is like taking two steps forward, two steps back. Think about in season training for yourself or your athletes and realize the edge it can give you. And remember, you do have the time!
One of the most understandable yet annoying questions I get at Newell Strength from the younger trainees is, “Can we do arms today?” It usually catches me by surprise but then I remember that Weider has done a great job of sensationalizing biceps and pictures like Arnold above. It’s funny, because the older trainees rarely ask about training biceps or arms, yet they will often comment that their arms have better shape and size than when they were younger.
So this morning, while going through a strength workout at a furious pace, I made it my mission to perform 5×10 one arm dumb bell rows with the 115-pounders. I took a minute rest between sets and at the end, my biceps were smoked. That made me start thinking of some rules of the road that one should adhere to when trying to build a pair of bigger biceps.
1) You have no business doing biceps curls unless you can perform 10 good reps of chin ups. Why? Well think about it, most high school athletes will say but I can’t do that. Ya, I know, because your biceps are the weakest link. So then the conversation continues that they need to do biceps curls to make them catch up. Wrong…number 2….
2) To bring your biceps strength up, perform high rep, heavy ass dumbbell rows, otherwise known as Kroc Rows. This will do wonders for your grip (another weak link in most cases), back development and for the sake of this article, your biceps. Start at the heaviest weight you can get 5 sets of 12+ reps with and just row. When you can complete that, go up to the next weight the next workout. When you have reached the end of the dumb bell rack, go on pull ups.
3) Your nutrition has to be on point. Arnold once claimed that if you wanted to gain 1 inch on your arms, it would require an increase in 10 pounds of bodyweight. Your muscles will not grow if you don’t feed them or hydrate them. Don’t ever think about breaking this rule and asking what you can do to get bigger if you aren’t willing to eat the requisite amount of food.
Training arms should serve a purpose, be it to assist in a bigger lift or rehab and injury, but it should not serve the purpose of ego/bodybuilding training until you have the above 3 check points marked off. Another thing to think about: look up pics of Sergio Oliva, he did 10 sets of 20 pull-ups to start off ever single workout, check out the biceps development on him!