Monthly Archives: December 2010

Choosing the Right Program in 2011

One of the “Miyaki-isms” I repeat almost daily in my training business is this: training for performance is different than training for appearance.  That slogan has been sprinkled over various articles and posts on this site.  As the New Year approaches and everyone starts setting their goals and resolutions, I thought I’d take a moment to readdress that issue.  I want to ensure the training program you choose in the New Year matches your training goals.

I would say that most people’s New Year’s goals are related to appearance — we want to change our body composition and lose fat.  Great.  But here is the problem for you.  Very few trainers these days are prescribing programs that are appropriate for physique development (and on a side note, maybe that’s why there are so few trainers who are actually in shape themselves — ever think about that one)?  New-age, “innovative” trainers are focusing on things like functional training, balance, unstable training, sport-specific training, multi-directional/multi-movement complex exercises, etc.  These are all fine and have their place, but they are not ideal, or lets say efficient, for changing how you look.

There has been a blending of strength training concepts in today’s program designs.  This results in a jack-of-all-trades and expert at none kind of a thing.  That’s cool if that is what you want, but if you just want to look good/change your appearance, you need to prioritize, and focus solely on the training principles that emphasize specific physiological adaptations.  Here are some different responses your body can have to training protocols:

1. Balance:  This is mostly a nervous system response, not a muscular one.  The body gets better at recruiting the muscles/motor units that stabilize the body.

2. Strength: This is also mostly a nervous system response, with some muscular side effect.  A lot of strength development is the body getting more efficient at turning on all of the motor units in a given muscle group, and generating maximum force for a single lift (or 1-5).  This is good for producing force, but generally the muscle fibers do not spend enough time under tension for an adaptive response.

3. Endurance:  This is mostly a metabolic response, not a muscular one.  The body gets better at dealing with lactic acid, and becomes more fatigue resistant.

4.  Multi-directional/multi-movement exercises.  These have become more common-place in the gyms — twisting, lunging, one arm-thrust curls.  Again, because of the complexity of the movement, this is more of a nervous system response than a muscular one.  The body gets more efficient at moving in multiple directions and planes of motion, but none of the individual muscles receive enough tension and overload for physique development.  Rhythmic gymnastics helps you move in multiple directions too, but its probably not going to help you look much better, unless you are Will Ferrell in Old School.

5.  Power:  This is all about learning how to generate a lot of force and accelerate through a movement.  Golfers generate a lot of power, but most golfers are fat.  Are you beginning to see the theme?  This is more of a nervous system “thing” then a muscular “G-thang”.

6. Flexibility: This is about improving your body’s range of motion.  It has nothing to do with physique development.  Sorry folks, but yoga and stretching are not going to get you ripped.

7. Muscular development:  Finally, what we really want.  Building muscle shapes the body and boosts the metabolic rate (which in turn helps you burn fat).  This is about tension and overload on the muscle.  This is best accomplished with basic exercises — compound and isolation – working the muscles through their natural functions and planes of motion with enough resistance AND a certain amount of time under tension and volume.

Here’s the thing, most programs these days focus on 1-6, very few focus on #7.  Fancy multi-directional movements and training on unstable surfaces are about 1 and 4.  Boot camps, group exercise classes, and cross-training programs generally highlight 3-5.  Yoga and stretching are about #6.  And guys loading up the bar with too much weight, using shitty form, screaming, and eeking out 3 horrible reps is about #1, if anything at all.

I feel bad for the consumers who have no clue about proper training and come into the gym in the New Year.  They get hooked up with trainers who have no idea how to train people for physique development.  They think they are training for body composition change, but when you analyze their actual programs, you discover they are training for anything and everything BUT their goal.

Take some accountability for your own results.  I highly you suggest you read my Body Composition Training 101 Series.  This will give you a knowledge-base so you can critically analyze different training programs, and find one that is appropriate for your specific goals.

Maybe if you educate yourself, you won’t have to make a resolution next year because you’ll finally accomplish this year’s goal.

Even Simpler Nutrition Advice

I like to write. I guess in the real world that translates into I like to hear myself talk — which I really don’t, I’m usually the wallflower at parties. So something must get lost in the translation. But I do like to write. And sometimes when I write, I go off on tangents about science or the state of the fitness industry or some other random topic (90% of the time related to sex).

I know you’re not supposed to do that as a professional writer, but hey, that’s me. The only way I know how to do things is with full authenticity. I don’t write to fit into conventions. I write what I think and feel at the time, in the manner in which I talk, and hopefully to teach you a few of the things I’ve learned from over ten years as an athlete, student, and trainer in the fitness and natural bodybuilding worlds.

With that being said, I realized that sometimes the practical information/fitness tips I want you to apply, preferably TODAY, don’t always immediately get across to all of you — my family and friends. And yes, I consider my private clients, and even my online readers, as my friends. I guess that’s something I’ve always believed in, and it helps me stay a real, authentic, dude. Treat everyone you meet, and interact with, and give advice to, like they are a part of your family. Some of my training clients might be thinking to themselves, “but wait Nate, you can be a real dick sometimes.” Well, all I can say is that at times, tough love and the cold, hard truth, is the best way to ultimately help the people closest to you.

You see, here I go again on some random tangent. Let’s (meaning me) focus.

I need to give you some straightforward, practical nutrition tips you can apply in the real world. With the nutrition tab/summary on my homepage and the Barebones Fitness Nutrition Plan article, I thought I had already done that. Most people seem to get the theories and concepts, but I’ve found that many people are still having a hard time using that information to implement an everyday, practical nutrition plan. Maybe you are just lazy — hey, that’s on you. But I realize that it also could be that I need to give you more clear, concrete, simple user-friendly tips to follow — that’s on me.

In addition to research studies, academic textbooks, and multiple certifications, I’ve also read a bunch of commercial diet books. One of my favorites is Body-For-Life by Bill Phillips. It’s not necessarily because of the actual nutrition advice (his plan is similar in structure, but I believe you can make better food choices), but I think the true value is the simplicity of his practical application strategies. He basically says combine a serving of this with a serving of that 5-6 times a day, and that’s it. Simple as shit.

You can check out the Body-For-Life book. He also has a free website where he goes over how to construct any meal or snack (just Google it). Since my nutrition advice is slightly different (and I’m not pushing nutritional supplements) I figured I’d give you my own version of that. I want to give credit where credit is due. I didn’t make this up. This is essentially his practical advice with my own personal food selection recommendations (and minus the EAS/Myoplex supplement marketing push).

*This assumes you are exercising at least 3 times a week. I recommend a completely different approach (lower carb, Paleo-style diets) for inactive, sedentary folks.

STEP 1: Select a serving of lean protein (about the size of a deck of cards) from the following choices:

Skinless chicken breast, Skinless turkey breast, Fish (any kind — salmon, halibut, cod, sole, tuna, etc.), Shellfish (any kind — shrimp, scallop, crab, etc.), Lean pork (loin, tenderloin), Lean red meat (top round, London broil, eye of round, sirloin, filet mignon), Lean buffalo (same as red meat cuts), 90% or leaner ground meats and poultry, Egg white/egg mixtures (6 egg whites, 1 whole egg with 5 whites, 2 whole eggs with 4 whites), various protein powders.

STEP 2: Combine your protein with a serving of a select few complex carbohydrates (about the size of a fist) from the following choices:

Potato (any kind — russet, red, yukon gold, etc.), Sweet potato (any kind — garner, jewel, japanese/oriental, etc.), Rice (any kind — brown, white, basmati, long grain, short grain, etc.), Plain rice cakes, Whole fruit (any kind — apple, orange, banana, berries, etc.)

STEP 3: Add plain raw or cooked vegetables to any or all meals (but at least two) in unlimited amounts.

Lettuce (any kind), Spinach, Broocoli, Cauliflower, Cucumber, Onions (any kind), Tomato, Green beans, Peppers, Cucumber, Carrots, Celery, You get the idea…

STEP 4: Since this plan is moderate in carbohydrates, limit dietary fat intake to that found as by-product of your protein sources in step 1 (the dietary fat found in fish, eggs, and lean meats). No added fats — not even “good fats” — from oils, sauces, nuts, and butters (read the rest of my articles before you bitch and moan about the benefits of healthy fats — I recommend different diets for different folks — sedentary vs. anaerobic athletes).

STEP 5: Add no/low calorie herbs, spices, and condiments to flavor as necessary:

Garlic, Onions, Salsa, Pico de gallo, Mustard, Wasabi, Sea salt, Paprika, Cumin, Oregano, Pepper, Cinnamon, Lemon, Lime, You get the idea…

STEP 6: Stick to the following beverages:

Water, Black coffee, Black tea, Green tea, Herbal tea. Artificial sweeteners are crap. Don’t load your body with a bunch of man-made chemicals.

STEP 7: To me, there is no difference between a meal and snack. So follow the above steps to construct a meal/snack 3-5 times a day.

STEP 8: As much as you can, cook your own foods, eat at home, pack your lunches, etc. so you are in direct control of what goes into your meals.

A good fitness-oriented meal like home-cooked lean chicken breast, rice, and steamed vegetables may not be such a good fitness meal in a restaurant. The way most restaurant foods are prepared these days it’s probably loaded up with fat and sugar from butter, oils, and sauces. There’s a reason it tastes so much better in a restaurant than at home.

TO SUM IT UP: Basically combine a serving of lean protein with a serving of complex carbohydrate at each meal and snack. Don’t add fats, get your essential fats as by-product of your protein sources. Cook most of your meals so you know exactly what is going into them, and are not at the mercy of gourmet chefs who liberally use sugar and oils.

If that doesn’t make sense, there may be no helping you (again with the tough love thing).

Even Simpler Nutrition Advice

With that being said, I realized that sometimes the practical information/fitness tips I want you to apply, preferably TODAY, don’t always immediately get across to all of you — my family and friends.  And yes, I consider my private clients, and even my online readers, as my friends.  I guess that’s something I’ve always believed in, and it helps me stay a real, authentic dude.  Treat everyone you meet, and interact with, and give advice to, like they are a part of your family.  Some of my training clients might be thinking to themselves, “but wait Nate, you can be a real dick sometimes.”  Well, all I can say is that at times, tough love and the cold, hard truth, is the best way to ultimately help your friends.

You see, here I go again on some random tangent.  Lets (meaning me) focus.

I need to give you some straightforward, practical nutrition tips you can apply in the real world.  With the Barebones Fitness Nutrition Plan article, I thought I had already done that.  Most people seem to get the theories and concepts, but I’ve found that many people are still having a hard time using that information to implement an everyday, practical nutrition plan.  Maybe you are just fucking lazy — hey, that’s on you.  But I realize that it also could be that I need to give you more clear, concrete, simple user-friendly tips to follow — that’s on me.

Read the rest of this article: Even Simpler Nutrition Advice