Unconventional Bodybuilding (Pt.3)

Here are the final two pieces of conventional bodybuilding wisdom that will prevent you from realizing your best physique.

Unless you decide to take the unconventional road.

#4 – You Need to Use a lot of Supplements

I guess that depends on what you define as “a lot”.  Personally, I use protein powders, take a Shaklee Vitalizer pack (multi-vitamin, Omegas, probiotic, and B vitamins), and creatine and BCAA’s during my competition prep.  For a pre-workout shot of energy I typically drink a bold black coffee or I’ll use a pre-workout drink if my friend Rich Fitter has sent me any samples of the latest and greatest.

Whey protein powder, supplements, bodybuilding

The truth is, many top natural bodybuilders (not that I’m one of them) don’t take many supplements.  Most use what would be considered “the essentials” which is essentially what I outlined above.  But of course there are those that do consume virtually anything found on a supplement stores shelf if they think it will add an inkling of more muscle or burn more fat.

protein powder. Supplements for bodybuilders

More often than not, those with the best grasp on their training and nutrition utilize far fewer supplements than individuals that do not.  The conventional—and outright stupid—outlook on supplements is that results can be found in a pill or powder.

As the lyrics from Survivor’s song in Rocky IV so eloquently points out, “There’s no easy way out…there’s no shortcuts home”.

Unconventional bodybuilding would have you thinking and acting like a researcher or scientist.  And like any great researcher you need to control for as many variables as possible before introducing a new one.  That means spending months if not years getting your diet and training dialed-in so that if some new revolutionary supplement is added to the mix you can know for sure whether or not it actually made a difference.

#5 – You Have to Dehydrate to Show More Muscle Definition

This might be THE most misunderstood aspects of bodybuilding even for seasoned bodybuilders.

Answer this question for me: How much of your muscle is made up of water?

That’s right, 75%.  When you deprive or deplete yourself of water the first place the water leaves is the muscles.  Not underneath the skin like most broscience knuckleheads think.

I’ll tell you in a moment the unconventional method for getting water out from under the skin and it doesn’t require the use of diuretics.

But first…

Water makes up three quarters of our muscles size so our goal is to keep as much water in the muscles as we can.

Water, bodybuilding, supplements

The way to regulate water inside and outside the cells is through carbohydrates and sodium/potassium balance.

Each gram of stored carbohydrate holds 2.7 grams of water.  That means the higher the concentration of glucose in a muscle the larger or more fuller that muscle will appear as a consequence of holding more water inside of it.

This is why people who undertake a very low carb diet find their muscles looking flat or have difficulty sustaining a good pump when they train. Without a high concentration of glycogen in the muscles, water has nothing to latch onto.

However this doesn’t mean you can consume copious amounts of carbohydrates either.  The muscles can only hold a certain amount of glucose at any one time.  Exactly how much depends on your body type, muscular size, metabolic rate, activity level, training demands, and what you are accustomed to.

bodybuilding, carbohydrates, supplements

If more glucose is present than what the muscles can store, water now has no place to reside within the muscles so it winds up outside of the cells and underneath the skin.  This situation is commonly referred to as “spill-over” and is a bodybuilder’s biggest fear and the reason they erroneously cut their water intake days prior to competition.

The unconventional approach to carbohydrate intake.

A good starting point is 1.25-1.75g/lb. of fat free mass.  Those who are highly active, have a high metabolic rate, are insulin sensitive, or find their muscles appearing “flat” will need to adjust their carbohydrates higher.  However it is best to methodically make these increases so as to determine the ideal amount for maintaining fullness without spillover.

The other regulating factor in achieving the cellophane skin look is sodium and potassium.

Sodium regulates extracellular fluid activity.  Potassium is responsible for controlling intracellular fluid activity.

Salt shaker

What does conventional bodybuilding logic say?  Drop your sodium so you hold less subcutaneous water, and if you really want to hit a home run pop some potassium pills!!!

When sodium is too low it signals the release of the hormone Aldosterone which causes the body to reabsorb and prevent the excretion of sodium which then results in water retention OUTSIDE THE CELLS!  The more sodium is decreased the more Aldosterone is released and the smoother and more waterlogged the muscles begin looking.

The secret unconventional approach to subcutaneous water excretion is (drum roll please)….

Keep your water intake as high as possible (at least 1 – 1.5 ounces per pound of bodyweight) and keep sodium and potassium intake…NORMAL.

  • 1,500-4,500 mg Na
  • 1,500-2,000 mg K

That’s the secret recipe.  It’s not a trick, it’s not magic.  It is a predictable approach that will leave you looking as tight as a pair of skinny jeans on a Hipster.  Presuming you are lean enough.

That’s right, none of this will make any sort of a difference unless your body-fat is low enough to where you already have significant muscle definition.  Put simply, unless you have shredded shoulders, separation in your quads, or something that at least resembles six pack abs, all the manipulation of water, Na, K, and carbs won’t give you these things.


By and large bodybuilding is an illusion.  But it’s an illusion that’s created by being as lean as possible while retaining as much muscle as possible while at your leanest.  As mentioned at the very start of this series, you don’t simply grow into the incredibly shredded and jacked condition of a bodybuilder.   It’s an endeavor that takes time, patience, and the willingness to turn your back on the herd mentality and take the unconventional approach.

Since we opened this series with a quote I figured we should close with on as well.

When you’re used to being prepared to reject conventional wisdom, it leaves you open to learn more.
– Mayim Bialik

5 Things You Must Know to Pack on Muscle

The struggle to build muscle is one that’s near and dear to me.  Never the genetic freak. Completely average at best.

I know what it’s like to pour everything into your training with only negligible returns.

I’m not complaining though.  This reality is what’s helped me sift through so much of the BS that’s written in articles and on other blogs and shown on YouTube.

Now when I read, see or listen to someone I know whether they’re full of shit or there’s something legitimate to what they’re saying and worth exploring.

There’s more reasons further than the eye can see for why some guys pack on muscle and others don’t. (Yes, there’s more than just genetics all you self proclaimed hardgainers.)

Knowing these five will swing the odds heavily in your favor …regardless of genetics.

Here they are, in no order of importance:

1. There is a Training Variable Domino Effect

We’re clear on the fact that every workout program has these four primary variables present: intensity, volume, frequency, and load.  Then we have detail oriented variables such as rep speed, rep and set variations, equipment, and rest periods.

What’s not always clear is the immediate impact that putting your focus on one (or a few) has on the rest.

Through my first thirteen years of my weight training the focus had been on completing a certain (high) volume of work.  When I made a shift to focusing on intensity of effort a funny thing happened …I couldn’t handle as much volume.  At least not long term.

I tried, but soon realized that if I wanted to keep my focus on training with the highest intensity possible for each exercise, doing more sets per exercise would cut into my performance.

When my focus shifted to an increase in frequency I couldn’t maintain the same high intensity, training to muscular failure and beyond workouts, for more than 2-4 consecutive weeks.

It wasn’t for a lack of trying, rather the cumulative stress was resulting in a drop in performance because my body didn’t have time to overcompensate.  We’ve all experienced this on some level.

Have you ever been forced to take a week off from training only to come back stronger?

The reason why is because your body had the opportunity to systemically recover from the cumulative stress.

Why does this matter?


Your Long Term Success in Building Muscle is Directly Proportional to Your Ability to Manage Your Overall Training Demands by Managing Exercise Variables.

When you adjust or change one variable it causes a domino effect. Think about going from your typical straight sets to adding two forced reps at the end of each set.

After one or two sets the load you can handle on each consecutive set will likely be much less than usual.  It’s also likely that you won’t maintain the same level of intensity throughout the workout as you normally do.

This could be good, this could be bad.

Whether you get a hypertrophy response depends if the training demands from making this change are appropriate, relative to your needs at that time. And if they’re balanced with enough recovery time to allow for overcompensation.

The point is, whenever we adjust training variables we have to take notice of how it effects the others and our intended outcome.

2. You Have to Change Your Approach and Innovate Your Training

Let me start by saying that the following suggestion does come with a caveat.  If you’re relatively new to weight training there’s no need to make frequent or dramatic changes to your training.

Depending on your responsiveness it can take 6-12 months before you start seeing diminished returns from a single or double progression approach (ie. increasing weight and/or reps).

When the time does come.. 

Relying on What Got You to Where You Are Won’t Get You to Where You Want to Go.

This is when periodic changes in your training demands through new and unique ways of training is most beneficial.

Sometimes the innovative thing to do is to train LESS.  Not just for recovery to but to desensitize yourself to the current demands and then come back with a fury.

3. You Need to Stop Listening Everyone Else and Listen to Yourself

I hear my parents words echoing in my head, “Just because your friends would jump off a bridge doesn’t mean you should.”

I get it.

Problem is, I’m more likely to be the first to jump.

But there’s a lot of truth in the message they were trying to convey.  How many of us in pursuit of the perfect program have jumped from one expert or champions routine to another?

Only to be disappointed that we didn’t get the result promised.

I should have cannonball delts and powerful pecs by now!

The times I’ve made by best progress were when I followed my intuition.

No one knows you better than you know yourself.

An outside objective point of view is important but even I’ve been proved wrong by clients who told me they felt like they needed a little bit of ‘X’ and when added into the mix (or taken out) it worked.

If you have any appreciable time training under your belt and you’re observant you don’t need to put your faith in the next guys program. Put it in yourself!  If you’re intuition was wrong see #2.

4. Your Nutrition Can Not be Based on “What you think”

Having personally trained hundreds of people the most common answer I get when I ask someone how much protein they’re taking in is, “I think I get enough”.

I think I get enough, is not an amount.

(And I really wish people would stop referring to peanut butter as one of their primary sources of protein.)

When you don’t know how much carbs, fat, protein and calories you consume it’s nearly impossible to determine how much you need …or don’t need.

If your goal is to build muscle you need a certain amount of protein based on your lean body mass, body type, and activity level to optimize protein synthesis.

You also need a certain amount of carbs to supply energy for your hard workouts. For most people ketogenic diets are not ideal for muscle building building since protein will first be converted to glycogen to supply your energy needs.

We’re better served taking in enough carbs to satisfy our energy needs so the protein we do consume can do it’s primary job of repairing and building muscle tissue.

Track what you’re taking in so you, your trainer, coach or nutritionist, can make informed decisions based on what you know, not what you think.

5. Look at the Whole and Just the Parts

All of this muscle building stuff would be a heck of a lot easier if we lived in a vacuum (not the Hoover kind).  But we don’t.  We live in a dynamic world where our environment and our body is constantly changing.

Not too long ago my wife took me hang gliding for my birthday.  She knows I love heights which is why the birthday before that was spent sky diving, and I went two other times before that.

The view from 13,500 ft. is like nothing else.  You can see so much more than you can on the ground.

Our training isn’t much different.  Week in and week out we’re on the ground level.

It’s Easy to Miss What’s Happening or What Has Happened Until We Take a Step Back.

Only then do we see the sum of all the parts.

Workouts are only a piece of what defines our outcome.  It’s a big piece, but still just a single factor in whether or not we are building muscle, maintaining, or regressing.

Nutrition, lifestyle, age, experience, stress, rest and yes, genetics all play a role in the effectiveness of your training and muscle hypertrophy.  The more you can control the controllable components the greater your likelihood for success.

[Poof!] My Shape…Gone in an Instant

You create your fitness plan, you stick to it for 3 months, and then you piss it all away in two weeks. That’s my story and I’m not ashamed of it.  It’s a story that will deliver a massive dose of reality and teach you a lesson if you’re willing to sit here and read it for the next 4 minutes.  As I sit here typing away on my laptop I have to laugh at how quickly I was able to reverse three months of hard work.  Seriously, three months of tracking my food intake and gradually getting my body near competition form, GONE after just 2 weeks of indulgence.

poofThe two weeks were comprised of my wedding and honeymoon so by no means do I kick myself over all the eating and drinking I did.  Heck, Corrie-Beth and I spent 7 of our 10 day honeymoon in Napa Valley and Sonoma so you better believe we were drank a lot of wine!  And the meals were pretty damn good too.

So what was the damage?  A nine pound increase in body weight and all the definition in my abs and arms had disappeared.  Granted at least 3 of the 9 lbs. is retained water which can be eliminated within a week by pushing my water intake up to around a gallon per day but unfortunately the rest of the weight (fat) will take a lot longer to get back off.


I can already hear some of you saying, “But you’re already in good shape it’s not that big of a deal”.  To which I say, “It’s all relative”.  I have certain expectations and standards which if not met or maintained have the same emotional impact as anyone else who looks at them self and is disgusted with how out of shape they’ve become.

I knew it would happen, I’ve been here before.  In the early years of my bodybuilding career I would spend six months prepping for a show only to binge my way out of competition shape in less than a week.  Over more recent years I’ve learned that if I (as well as most people) can keep from letting one day of binging or cheat meals turn into 2, 3, 4, 5 days or more then maintaining that ideal condition that I worked long and hard to achieve is easy and doesn’t require being on point all the time.  But once you start rolling downhill it’s very difficult to stop and the unfortunate consequence is having to start all over.

Fitness PlanThe idea of starting over can be a little demoralizing if you don’t have the proper mindset.  As I said, I would never give up all the great breakfast, lunch, dinners, wine, beer, and spirits I indulged in over the two week wedding/honeymoon period.  In fact I had planned for it.  All the dieting I had done over those three prior months was in anticipation of all I would do and was a way of mitigating the damage.  I knew from the very beginning that at some point I was going to have to “start over”.  Since it is exactly what I expected it eliminates the pain of feeling like “I blew it”.

The situation—and the emotions that accompany it—is similar to saving thousands of dollars over the course of several months or a year for a vacation you’ve always wanted to go on.  When the time comes to actually pay for the vacation the money suddenly disappears from your account, or the envelope of cash you’ve been saving it in.  You knew it was going to happen, and you would never give up the vacation just to hang onto the cash, but you’re still left with that slight bit of sadness that all you saved is gone in an instant.  It doesn’t make the vacation any less enjoyable it’s just an unavoidable feeling…just like putting weight back on that you worked hard to lose. But the great thing is, if you’ve done it once you can do it again and if you’re committed, the next time should be much easier since you already know what to expect.

Competition Shape…Minus the Competition (Lisa’s Journey) – Entry 3


[Lisa]  I will be having five ounces of steak tonight as part of my dinner.  It has 12.7 grams of fat.  This is more than half of what Mike has allotted me daily for fat intake.   Nevertheless, I want it and am going to have it.  I have planned for it and logged it in my food diary.  Why is it I have to keep a food diary in order for me to lose weight?  I watch naturally thin people go about their lives without writing down what they eat or what they plan on eating.  Yet, they remain at an ideal body weight.  Whether I am seriously focusing on losing weight or not I am very much aware of the caloric make-up of foods that I eat.  Further, I also know and/or look up how many calories are burned for any exercise I do.  For example, a half gallon of plain vanilla ice cream (one serving in my world, I mean my OLD world) is 1200 calories.  This translates to jogging for 2 hours at about 5 mph.  Not gonna happen!  I guarantee you my naturally thin husband has no idea how many calories he eats and burns in a day, week, month EVER!  This is not fair and I demand to know why this is.  Mike?

[Mike]  Why keep a food diary?  Why have limits on your food/caloric intake? Why worry about what others can eat and you can’t?

Here’s the deal, by definition a calorie is a measure of energy expenditure.  You require food for one reason and one reason only and that is to supply your body with the energy (calories) it needs to sustain proper function and support your daily activity. Whether you like it or not or, think it’s unfair, there are limits to how many calories you can consume regardless of how “healthy” you eat.  Because your body only needs so many calories to do its job as soon as those needs are met any additional calories, whether from ice cream or Cream of Wheat, get stored as fat.

The only time fat gets used for energy is when your body is in a caloric deficit.  Meaning you are not taking enough calories to support your energy requirements so now your body goes scrounging for them.

The reason why keeping a food journal and tracking your calories–as well as your carbs, proteins, and fats–is necessary is so you know precisely how much you can eat instead of taking a guess or being erratic. It’s a scorecard.  Just like in golf the way you win the fat-loss gam is by shooting under par.

If your baseline requirement is 1200 calories a day, then you need to take in less than that in order to start using the calories stored as fat to fill the gap.  If you haven’t read it yet check out my blog on how to figure out your caloric needs for fat-loss at: http://yorktown-somers.patch.com/blog_posts/fat-loss-its-a-numbers-game

Now regarding your husband and other naturally thin people who don’t have to track their food intake, who can eat whatever they want, who have metabolisms like race cars…GET OVER IT.  Sometimes life just isn’t fair, boo-hoo.  Why don’t we just throw a pity party because others seem to have it easier in one small area of life than the rest of us.

The fact is some people inherently have fast metabolisms—it’s genetic.  You can blame your parents (and they are the ones to blame) or you can make the necessary adjustments to your diet and do proper weight training to increase your metabolic rate.  Just stop whining about it, whining does not have a positive effect on your metabolism.

Competition Shape…Minus the Competition (Lisa’s Journey) – Entry 2

[Lisa] The numbers, they don’t lie or do they?  Maybe you are like me; you begin a fitness/diet program and expect because you weigh xxx (fill in your own number) the weight should come flying off in the beginning.  You prepare for your first weigh-in; it should go without saying that you only get on the scale, naked, first-thing-in the morning, having shaved, removed all jewelry and having trimmed your nails.  You certainly don’t want any of those things weighing you down.  You gingerly step on the scale, if you see a number you are happy with, “Woo-Hoo,” if not – throw scale out the window, buy a new one and repeat weigh-in steps in seven days.   Losing weight has never been easy for me.  No matter what I do, it comes off painfully slow.  The scale, for many of us, is the measure of success.  Are there other things that even matter?

[Mike]  There are certainly many ways aside from the scale to measure your success.  I’ll get to that in moment but before I do I want to share the following text message I received from Lisa the other night just before going to bed (yes, I do field messages from clients at all times of the day because like a doctor, I’m always on call).

If I weren’t doing this f***ing blog I so would have had ice cream right now.

That’s what I call leverage!  Having something hanging over your head—a consequence—that forces you to stay on track.  I cannot stress the importance of having leverage which is why I dedicated a huge section to it in my book.

Back to the scale…or backing off if you can’t handle the truth.  What we’re talking about here is measuring progress. You need an objective means of determining whether or not the the actions you are taking are moving you towards your goals. There are numerous ways to measure progress.  You can go by how your clothes fit, a tape measure, pictures, the mirror, skin fold calipers or a body composition (bioimpedence) testing machine.  You don’t necessarily need to use the scale but it is a quick and easy way to track your progress.

What you need to know about stepping on the scale is that your weight can fluctuate day to day even if your caloric intake is the same due to changes in your total body water.  These changes in water weight are influenced by your sodium, carb and water intake.  With that in mind, take your daily weight changes with a grain of salt and use your average weekly weight to track to your progress.


You use energy no matter what you’re doing, even when sleeping. The BMR Calculator will calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR); the number of calories you’d burn if you stayed in bed all day.

If you’ve noticed that every year, it becomes harder to eat whatever you want and stay slim, you’ve also learned that your BMR decreases as you age. Likewise, depriving yourself of food in hopes of losing weight also decreases your BMR, a foil to your intentions. However, a regular weight training routine can increase your BMR, improving your health and fitness when your body’s ability to burn energy gradually slows down.

Find out what your BMR is here >>> http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/

DFAC PURE PHYSIQUE Natural New York Championships

Last Saturday (May 26) PURE PHYSIQUE hosted it’s first natural bodybuilding and figure competition and it was a huge success.  Am I relieved its over…yes.  Was it worth every minute that was poured into it and all the stress…ABSOLUTELY! The physiques on display were a true testament to what can be achieved through hard training, dieting and committing one’s self to a goal and seeing it through to the end.

If you think age played a factor you’d be dead wrong.  There were competitors as young as seventeen and as old as fifty-six and everyone of them looked great.

Could YOU do it?  Sure.  You just need to take that step no matter how far-fetched it may seem.  Now I know many of you will sit there and say, “I don’t want to step on stage” but the truth of the matter is that you are always on stage.  Whether it’s putting on a dress for a formal event, putting on a suit for a board meeting, or jumping into a bathing suit before heading out to the beach you always want to look your best.

Regardless of the degree you are willing or wanting to take your physique there is a certain amount of commitment and sacrifice that’s necessary. I know you’ve probably heard me say this a thousand times but if it takes 2,001 times for it sink in and take the necessary action then I in no way mind continuing to repeat myself.  Remember, if it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you!



Become Lean Without Aerobics

One of the longest and hardest fought arguments in fitness is between those who believe that aerobic exercise is necessary for fat-loss and those who believe it is not.

The primary reason why this argument rages on is because both sides bring some heavy ammo in substantiating and defending their belief. When it’s time to go to battle, these two sides trade blows like a couple of heavyweights fighting for the championship. Just when you think one has the upper hand the other one comes back with an unexpected uppercut to send em’ stumbling backwards.

I have tested both theories at various times throughout my bodybuilding career as well as tested them with clients. There is so much research and empirical evidence for both arguments that one simply has to learn for him or herself. While I tend to lean more towards the “no-aerobics” camp there are specific circumstances under which I believe aerobics are appropriate and would encourage them.

Let me give you an example.

In my first year as a competitive bodybuilder I was utilizing a method of weight training called Super Slow™. This particular method of training adamantly opposed the performance of aerobic exercise not just for fat-loss but as a form of exercise altogether.

Through diet and resistance training alone I was able to achieve the “bodybuilder” look I had been after since I first started weight training nine years earlier (I was 13 when I first began weight training). The following year I continued to steer clear of aerobics and simply worked on improving my diet…I looked even better. For the next go-around I decided I would diet exactly the same but add some moderate to high intensity aerobics. Once again, I improved.

For the next few years I would continue the implementation of aerobic exercise during my contest prep, despite my aversion to it. I’m the type who will do things I despise if I know that in the end I’ll get what I want. All I wanted was to get leaner and more muscular each and every year so if that meant getting on that treadmill or elliptical I was all in.

However in 2010 I was put in a position where because of my heavy workload and other obligations I had to be very stingy with my time. This time around I would need to make some adjustments and the first thing I did was revisit my diet to see how I could improve it based on my current knowledge. Next, I decided to hold off as long as I possibly could with performing aerobic exercise. I figured I would use it only as a last resort when I needed to get that last bit of body-fat off and for now put my time and energy towards other important things outside of bodybuilding.

After the first month I was consistently losing body-fat week to week through better nutrition alone. Upon finishing month two, I was within 5 lbs. of where I projected myself to be on contest day (2 months away). Having eight weeks to lose the last 5 lbs (the hardest to lose) I decided to continue on without aerobic exercise and would only add it as a last resort if I hit a plateau.

With four weeks until the contest I was ahead of where I projected myself to be at this point. What a great feeling it was being “stage ready” with just a few short weeks remaining and not having performed a single minute of aerobic exercise! By the time I hit the stage I was 3 lbs below my projected weight and was easily the leanest and most muscular I had ever been.

Just as proof that this was not a fluke or a gender issue (yes, men do lose weight more easily). My girlfriend took the same approach with her diet and lost 29 lbs. in those four months without performing aerobic exercise and competed in her first Figure competition.

So as you see I’ve taken both paths to achieving personal bests. And whether yo need aerobic exercise or not is a function of many different factors. Just so that you don’t walk away with only my personal experience on the issue let me leave you with why I believe at times aerobic exercise was needed versus not needed. Please keep in mind that these are MY reasons and may not be applicable to everyone.

•Diet was inadequate and proper adjustments were not made as my body/metabolism changed.
•Too few weekly weight training sessions (2-3/week), not enough to keep metabolism elevated.
•Work schedule was lighter and I was not expending as much energy throughout the day.
•Did not give myself enough time to diet.

•Diet was meeting personal requirements and proper adjustments were made as body/metabolism change.
•Performing 3-4 weekly high intensity weight training sessions.
•Heavy workload with long hours.
•Lower stress levels as a result being in a “better place” personally.
•My significant other was also training and dieting for competition so I had a great support system at home.

A ‘Fast and Furious’ Workout – Part 1

There are two things everyone who exercises wishes for. Their first wish is that results came easier. “There should be a pill for this.” is what I hear from clients nearly every day. Wish number two (which could just as easily be number one) is that results came faster or with less time investment.

Well, I have good news and I have bad news. The bad news is results—really noticeable results—will never come easy. There is always a price to pay and when it comes to losing fat, building muscle and getting fit and effort is that price. The good news is results can be seen faster and with very little time investment!

I have for you a ‘Fast and Furious’ workout that when performed just three times a week is guaranteed to build muscle and boost your metabolism so you can develop a lean, toned physique.

What makes this routine work? Intensity of effort.

How important of an ingredient is intensity? Imagine trying to bake cupcakes without eggs…that’s how important! Yet rarely does anyone train with a level of intensity that is sufficient in signaling to the body to become stronger or more fit beyond its current state or condition.

Intensity is defined as the possible percentage of momentary muscular strength and volitional effort exerted. In other words it is the amount of strain your muscles are under at any given moment during an exercise. Intensity is considered to be at its max (100%) when you have reached the point of momentary muscular failure. This is when the muscles are so fatigued that they can no longer generate enough force to move the weight being lifted despite you putting forth all your mental and physical effort. When you train with this level of intensity it becomes unnecessary and counterproductive to perform a large amount of exercise. This is why the fast and furious workout works so well and is incredibly efficient despite what you might view as being very little exercise.

If there is just one thing you take away from this article and nothing else I hope it is this:

It does not matter how many reps, sets, workouts or time you spend in the gym, without applying maximum intensity of effort you may as well resign yourself to never progressing beyond your current physical condition.

Intensity is the cornerstone of not only the routine I will outline in Part II but it is the engine that will drive your results regardless of all other factors. In Part II I’ll provide you with the specifics of the training program so you can be on your way to getting significant results, fast.

How to Perform Your Exercise for Ultimate Success

Every fitness magazines, blog and book promises that their training method or program that will lead to, Faster Fat-loss, Bigger Biceps, A Flat Stomach, Toned Arms in 10 Days, Sculpted Legs, Better Sex and a host of other desired, over-exaggerated and embellished benefits of exercise.

It’s amusing to read the some of the reasons given by the author as to why and how their program will succeed where others have failed, especially when the program has no scientific backing or logical basis. But heaven help us if there is some celebrity or athlete who endorses the program! Then the program must be legit!

Without fail these routines typically…fail. Aside from the most obvious reason that no routine or specific formula can address or make up for the various intrinsic and extrinsic factors of all individuals, the second common reason why they fail is because they never address how the exercises should be performed. This “oversight” is most common with weight training or any type of resistance training programs. Specifically, they give no detailed instruction on repetition performance other than a few generic recommendations like, “Lift the weight under control. Don’t cheat.” or “Move slowly.”

It is impossible to provide anyone with a training routine or to follow a routine that is certain to produce the desired result unless you are assured that the exercises will be performed properly or in the manner intended. Although the repetition is the most fundamental element of weight training it is also the most overlooked, under-appreciated, and misapplied. This should come as no surprise. Consider how many of us have stepped into a gym for the first time and carefully thought out exactly how we will perform our very first repetition. It would not be a long shot to say none of us, unless the first visit was with a very mindful and detail oriented personal trainer. Unfortunately many bad habits are established within those first few months or years of training which for many will never be reversed.

Whether new to exercise or a seasoned veteran, it serves one well to be very clear about the purpose each repetition serves. It should not be as simple as moving the weight from point A to point B—that’s a simpletons approach. In the simplest way I can explain, the purpose of each repetition is to maximize muscular tension and place the greatest amount of strain on muscles possible while minimizing the strain placed on the joints and tendons. This is best accomplished by moving at a tempo slow enough to keep momentum from becoming a contributing factor in the completion of each repetition and being able to feel the muscles at each point of the range of motion.

Fast repetitions (i.e. 0.5-2 seconds to lift the weight, 0.5-2 seconds to lower it) utilize momentum to carry out a better part of each repetition whereas repetitions performed slowly (i.e. 4-6 seconds to lift the weight, 4-6 seconds to lower it) must rely on the force generated by the muscles in order to complete each rep. Moving slow makes performing the exercise harder and as we know, the harder or more demanding an exercise is the greater the likelihood of it stimulating an improvement in you physical condition or development.

Effective weight training begins and ends with the repetition. It is the foundation from which every set of every workout is built, and will be a determining factor in any programs success. Address the rep and everything else will begin to fall into place.