Build Stronger Abs and A Stronger Back: 3 Point Row

Christmas is less than three weeks away. Holy crap!

It seems like that is coming up way to quick.

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That doesn’t have anything to do with this post…I just realized that and thought I’d share it with you.

So…

The movement I’m going to share with you today is currently one of my favorites. It does a lot of things in a lot of places. Most notably, in your back and abs.

Two areas of the body that you most likely aren’t going to train too much.

For starters, does anybody not want definition and strength in their back and abs? Maybe some, but probably not too many.

Beyond that, back muscles and ab muscles tend to be weak points for most people, due to a variety of reasons. Making them stronger is a good idea for being healthy and for longevity.

3 Point Row

While the 3 Point Row has the same mechanics of any dumbbell row, the positioning of the arms and legs provide a unique challenge to the abs that most other rows don’t.

That’s some good stuff.

CUES:

  • Start with your feet wide, and brace your abs tight.
  • Pull the dumbbell towards your hip, while bringing your shoulder blade in towards your spine.
  • Don’t let your hips rock back and forth. If you do, you’ll lose most of the ab work this movement should provide.
  • Keep you torso fixed throughout the entire movement.
  • If you need to make this exercise more challenging, you can bring your feet closer together, which reduces your base of support.

Doing these correctly should hammer your abs and back at the same time.

I like to have clients do these for 8-12 reps per side. You could definitely up the weight and go with lower reps, but only if you can maintain very strict form.

Give them a shot, and feel free to share this with someone who would love to try them as well!

Five Ways To Boost Your Metabolism

Metabolism.

You want it cranking high and running hot, right? But how exactly do you do that? And what is metabolism, anyway?

I don’t want to get too deep into the complexity of metabolism in this post. Perhaps a dive into what metabolism is, and understanding it well, is something I will tackle in a future post. But for this post, let’s just go with the understanding that metabolism is all of the chemical processes that occur to keep you alive.

In other words, the sum of all the energy it takes to do whatever it is you do.

There is a funny inconsistency we have when we think about metabolism…we tend to think of it as a static or fixed thing. We say things like, “she has a fast metabolism” or, “my metabolism is slow”. But we also tend to think of it as something dynamic or flexible. “I know eating more often will increase my metabolism”, or “I think my metabolism is in starvation mode”. (Both of those are false statements by the way, but they represent how we see metabolism as flexible.)

So, which is it?

Your metabolism is very flexible. It is constantly adapting and adjusting to the activities, both voluntary and involuntary, you are doing all day long.

This is good news.

This means you are able to influence and control your metabolism. This means you can increase your metabolism, and burn more calories.

(It’s worth mentioning that increasing your metabolism also means in increase in your appetite. The body likes you to fuel it’s activities. So if you aren’t actively working on self-control and new habits with food, an increase in metabolism may be a shot to the foot.)

Let’s look at a few (or five) ways you can increase your metabolism and burn more calories throughout the day.

#1. Move more.

One of the biggest contributors to your body’s metabolism is simply how much you move during the day. In fact, non-exercise activity can make up close to 15% of your total calorie burned throughout the course of the day.

That’s a lot!

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Simply being conscious of moving more throughout the day can go a long way. Play outside with your kids, clean the house, go for a leisurely bike ride, take the stairs instead of the elevator, just get off your butt a little more…these things can add up.

#2. Build muscle.

One way to increase your metabolism is to weigh more. The more you weigh, the more calories you need to maintain that tissue. You can increase your weight by putting on more fat tissue, more muscle tissue, or more of both. Of those two tissues, muscle requires more calories to maintain, pound for pound. So it would have the biggest impact on increasing your metabolism.

Gaining some muscle usually equates to increased strength, which is never a bad thing. It also gives you strong curves, and increased definition. If that’s something you’re into, adding some muscle to your frame might be a solid option for giving your metabolism a boost

#3. Stay hydrated.

If you’re dehydrated, things don’t work as well as they’re supposed to. You get headaches, feel sluggish, your body’s minerals are out of whack, and in general you feel like crap. Along with all of that fun stuff, your metabolism can get sluggish too. Staying hydrated can keep your metabolism running optimally.

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#4. Get stronger.

No matter what your goals are, I think getting stronger is a good idea.

But when it comes to keeping your metabolism elevated, it’s really important. Using our definition of metabolism above, we know that metabolism is simply the energy required to do what we do.

The thing about working out is that your body adapts to stress, load and difficulty. Your body adapts by getting more efficient at things. If a body weight squat is really challenging for you, but you do them every day, they’re going to get easier. This adaptation is how you get stronger.

Unless you make things more difficult over time, your body will become very efficient at doing whatever exercises you do. This means that, over time, any given exercise that isn’t made more challenging, will require less energy to perform.

On the other hand, if you’re focusing on getting stronger by pushing for a few more reps, or increasing weight, you’re constantly pushing your body to do things it is inefficient at. Put another way, you’re keeping the amount of energy required very high. And since metabolism is the amount of energy needed to do what we do, this is a very good thing.

Shoot to get stronger. Doing so will keep the work load high and your metabolism running hot.

#5. Eat your protein.

Protein is good for a lot of things. It’s the body’s building block, used for building and repairing skin, bone, muscle, blood, and cartilage. Plus, I think it’s delicious. It can also be really beneficial when it comes to keeping your metabolism up.

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There are three macronutrients (categories of food) – protein, carbohydrate, and fat. Each of these require a certain amount of energy to digest. This means that eating any food will elevate your metabolism, because it requires energy, and metabolism is the amount of energy required to do what we do…including digest food.

Fats require the least amount of energy to digest (roughly 3-7% of calories from fats ingested), followed by carbohydrates (roughly 5-15% of calories from carbohydrates ingested), and lastly proteins (20-30% of calories from proteins ingested). This is called the thermogenic effect of food. This is essentially a measurement of how much your metabolism has to increase to digest a given food. In this case, the greater the increase, the better.

Keeping a good amount of protein in your diet, can help your metabolism stay elevated, especially when trying to lose weight.

You might have noticed that none of these suggestions for keeping your metabolism running hot are anything you haven’t heard before. In fact, they are all pretty basic tenants to living a healthy life. That’s because doing the things you know to do to be a healthier person leads to a healthy metabolism. That’s the case with a lot of things…lower cholesterol, increased heart health, chronic pain…making healthier choices, and making them more often, tends to make everything work better.

Don’t over think this. Just do what you know to do. You might be surprised at how much some basic things, done consistently, can improve your life.

Get Stronger Abs: Plate Switches

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a big fan of people having strong abs. They help support and protect the low back from injury, and they can help undo the damage that extensive sitting can cause. Also, I just think that strong abs are awesome.

Cuz abs.

Today, I’ve got an ab exercise that I love. But I also forget about it a lot for some reason. Maybe because even though I love this movement, it’s also a killer and I don’t particularly enjoy doing it. So I “forget” about them…kind of like the dishes in the sink, or the full trash can. Sorry honey, I “forgot” about them.

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But, now that I’m remembering them in this current moment, I’ll share the love with you.

Plate Switches

CUES:

  • Set up in a plank position, with your feet spread wide.
  • Brace your abs, and squeeze your butt tight.
  • Reach one hand across your body and bring all the plates (one at a time) to the other side of your body.
  • Keep your hips from rocking side to side. This is really important. Rocking your hips will greatly reduce the efficacy of this exercise.

If you don’t have small weight plates, you can use anything else you have around in the 2-5lbs range.

I like to program these for 3-4 reps (1 rep=over and back with all weights).

You can make these more difficult by increasing weight, increasing the number of plates, increasing the number of reps, and slowing the movement down.

Feel free to share this move with someone who loves to have sore abs!

Thanksgiving Survival Guide

Ah, Thanksgiving…that time of year when we gather with our loved ones, eat delicious food, and reflect on all the things we have to be thankful for.

Or…

That time of year when we suck it up to deal with our crazy families, and deal with the stress by eating two full plates, and a third helping of pie. Because if you’re chewing, you can’t hear your families judgments about your life, and how you should or shouldn’t be living it.

Or…somewhere in between.

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No matter where on the spectrum of “excited to full blown anxiety” your Thanksgivings tend to fall, we all share one thing in common – Thanksgiving is a day we struggle with when it comes to feeling equipped to handle the amount of delicious food that will lay before us.

I have four quick tips to help you navigate the day, and reduce the stress that Thanksgiving might bring.

#1. Focus on protein and veggies.

There’s a good chance your Thanksgiving day dinner will include turkey. Cool, put a big ol’ pile of it on your plate. And then get some helpings of veggies on there too. Fill the rest of your plate with whatever you want.

Easy-peasy, right?

#2. Check your portions.

When you’re filling up your plate, take a little less of everything than you normally would. That’s it. That is the extent of this tip.

#3. Savor

Whether its turkey, sweet potato casserole, or pumpkin pie, savoring your food is a great way to eat less. If you slow down and actually experience the food you’re eating, it gives you much more enjoyment and tends to make less food more satisfying. Slow down. Enjoy it.

#4. CHILL. OUT.

Tips 1, 2 and 3 can really help. And if you’re stressed about overeating on this holiday, following those two tips could drastically reduce the amount of calories you take in. So, follow them, if you’re concerned.

However, this is one day. This is one meal. Do you think your progress will be stalled or irreparably undone by one meal?

Here’s a little perspective we all (myself included) can use. Let’s say you eat three meals every day. Over the course of a year, that means you will eat 1,095 meals.

Thanksgiving is one of those meals.

One.

Do you know what 1 out of 1,095 is?

0.00091.

Roughly .09% of your meals.

Do you know how significant that is? Incredibly insignificant. Like, ZERO.

Sure, if you’re regularly eating in a way that is very contradictory to your goals, than going overboard on Thanksgiving may feel more damaging. But, that’s more of an issue of consistency than it is of one meal having great significance. It’s also a whole different issue.

That’s the end of my advice for you.

Sure you can apply the first to tips, and that’s awesome. They will definitely help you eat less, if followed. And that self control can be a good thing to practice.

Or, don’t stress about it. Because not giving importance to things that aren’t important is a good thing to practice too.

How Your Long-term Goals Might Be Holding You Back

Qui-Gon Jinn: “Don’t center on your anxieties, Obi-Wan. Keep your concentration here and now, where it belongs.

Obi-Wan Kenobi: “But Master Yoda said I should be mindful of the future.

Qui-Gon Jinn: “But not at the expense of the moment. Be mindful of the living Force, young Padawan.

The above is an interchange between Qui-Gon Jin and Obi-Wan Kenobi, from the movie The Phantom Menace, and was pointed out to me be my friend Lisa. Thank you Lisa.

What this exchange is saying is, be mindful of the future, but not at the expense of the moment.

Cool, Mike. That’ll look great on a bumper sticker, but what about fitness stuffs?

When someone starts working with me, they almost always have some long-term goals.

“I want to lose 20 pounds.”

“I want to wear size X pants.”

They know where they want to get in the long run. That’s great. Having a clear picture of what you want in the future helps you know where you’re heading.

The above quote gives us an idea of when being future-oriented can become problematic…when your focus on the long-term keeps you from being present in the current moment.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone dismissing their daily efforts because they haven’t yet reached their goal.

Maybe they’ve made habits of eating three vegetables and two fruits a day, exercising on a regular basis, and have improved the quality of their sleep. But none of that matters because the long-term goal hasn’t been reached.

They’re not just being mindful of the future, they are living there and dismissing the present.

When you have a long-term goal, you have two options.

First you can put all your chips in the future. Literally go all-in on that future accomplishment or achievement and spend your days wishing, waiting and hoping for it to come.

This is what being mindful of the future at the expense of the moment looks like.

Your second option is to keep that long-term goal out in front of you, but put all of your energy into the present moment, by developing habits and behaviors that will lead you to the goal.

This is what being mindful of the future, but being present in the moment looks like.

Long-term goals are great. But if they pull you from the present, and cause you to dismiss each little step that brings you closer to them, those long-term goals might actually be the biggest thing holding you back.

Strong and Sexy Shoulders: Dumbbell Z Press

You know what doesn’t get enough credit?

Shoulders.

Butt’s are getting all the love right now. It seems like every trainer under the sun has a “get a bigger booty” program.

Everyone is always training their arms.

Same with chests and backs.

But shoulders, poor shoulders…they don’t get much attention these days.

And it’s a shame too, because not only are strong shoulders important for keeping you healthy, and making daily tasks easier (like picking up kids), but a pair of well defined shoulders just looks freaking awesome coming out of a tank top or sun dress. Even if they’re covered up by a t-shirt, they still make themselves known.

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Today, I have an exercise that will not only help keep your shoulders healthy, but will also help them look more awesomer. Plus, this exercise also smokes your abs and low back too. So, that’s pretty cool.

I give you the Dumbbell Z Press.

Before we get into the details of how to execute this movement, let me say that this isn’t a beginner exercise. It’s much more challenging than it looks. It requires a good amount of mid back mobility. If you can’t press a pair of dumbbells overhead while standing without arching your lower back, these aren’t for you.

If you can, these might be a good addition to your program.

CUES

  • Sit on the ground with your legs straight out in front of you.
  • Keep your chest tall throughout the movement.
  • Brace your abs tight.
  • Drive the weight up through your shoulders.

This movement will most likely humble you. You wont need near as much weight as you normally do for a regular overhead press. And you will feel a good amount of work throughout your core.

I like to have clients perform these in the 8-12 rep range.

Looking for other awesome exercises to spice up your training programs? Give me a shout.

Try these out, and let me know what you think!

The Best Lunge You’re Not Doing

I like lunges.

Not in a “I’m really enjoying myself” kind of way. Because who likes doing lunges? A root canal might be more fun. Or maybe listening to hours of Nickleback.

Just kidding, that’s way worse.

But from a benefit standpoint, I really like them a lot. Single leg work is really important for just about everyone, and it can do so many good things for the body. Not to mention lunges are pretty great for making your legs and butt nice and firm.

However, both forward lunges and walking lunges can be pretty problematic for people with any kind of knee issues.

They can make the ouchies get ouchier.

Both forward and walking lunges require deceleration at the knee joint. When you step forward into a lunge your knee joint acts as a shock absorber when your foot hits the ground. That’s when things can get cranky for some people.

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This is where the Reverse Lunge can be very beneficial.

The Reverse Lunge is a common player in the programs I write for my clients. There’s a really good chance that if a client isn’t doing them in their current program, they’ll be doing them in their next one.

Reverse Lunges take care of the deceleration problem by stepping backwards instead of forwards. As you’ll see in the video below, instead of the front leg stepping forward, it stays static. This puts the knee joint in a much more stable position, and can take the issue of knee pain with lunges away completely for most people.

Beyond the science-y stuff, Reverse Lunges hit the hamstrings and butt more than forward or walking lunges do, which means they give the legs a better all around workout.

I use them for everyone, not just those with knee pain.

Let’s take a look at how to do them.

Reverse Lunges

I’m using dumbbells here, but I would suggest starting with body weight.

CUES:

  • Keep your chest high, and avoid letting your torso lean forward.
  • Step backwards, and bend your front knee to a comfortable depth.
  • Keep your front shin vertical.
  • Think of your hips sitting back and down.
  • Drive through the ball and heel of the front foot on the way up. This is a single leg exercise, so keep most of the work in the front leg.
  • Avoid launching yourself forward through your back foot.
  • Squeeze that booty tight at the top.

I typically have clients do these in the 6-10 rep range. But they can definitely be programmed at lower reps for strength, or higher reps if you want to be miserable.

Give them a shot and let me know what you think!

**If you haven’t yet, download my FREE eBook “Fast Food Survival Guide”! At the top of the page on the right, simply click on the image to print or download!**

Three Reasons Moms Should Strength Train

I don’t know if you know this, but I’m not a mom.

Not even a little bit.

Sometimes my daughters accidentally call me “mommy”, but that’s about as close as I get to being one.

I have, however, trained a lot of moms. In fact, over the last eleven years of being a trainer, the bulk of me clientele has always been moms. (I realize that’s a typo and should say “my”, but it sounded kind of pirate-y so I left it. Cuz pirates.) And over those eleven years of being a trainer, and training mostly moms, I’ve noticed a thing or two.

Or three.

Some benefits to strength training are universal. Everyone can benefit from a stronger body. So, while not all five of these reasons pertain exclusively to you as a mom, they all apply specifically to moms and the unique strengths and challenges you have.

Getting Healthy After Pregnancy and Labor

*I spent about ten minutes staring at my screen trying to figure out how to title this first reason. I’m not sure I’m settled with “getting healthy” because it implies that a new mom isn’t healthy. Which is not necessarily true. And phrases like “reclaim your pre-baby body” or “take your body back” aren’t messages I want to spread. So, for now, I’m sticking with getting healthy. If you have a better idea, I’m open to your suggestions.*

While the process of pregnancy and labor don’t automatically mean a new mom is unhealthy, it can. Or at least that things maybe aren’t as ideal as they could be. The reality is that pregnancy takes a toll. I honestly don’t know how you do it. During both of my wife’s pregnancies, I thought many times, “I don’t think I could do this.”

As a mom, you have my admiration.

Growing a human in you for nine months and then pushing it out of your body can cause some things to change. Ligaments and tissues become more relaxed to allow for more space inside of you. Internal pressure can make for some chronically achy muscles. Your abdominal wall can separate (diastis recti) which can make your core musculature weaker. Not to mention that your hormones are completely different than they were before you were pregnant.

If you’re not a new mom, this still applies. Many of those changes that occur in the body during pregnancy and labor don’t automatically reverse themselves. They tend to hang around, unless we actively do some work to change that.

This is where strength training comes in.

Proper strength training should focus on correcting imbalances, strengthening muscles that are weak, and simply make your body feel better. While this applies to pretty much everyone, it applies to you as a mom in a unique way, because your body has been through things no one else’s has.

More Energy

Whenever a mom starts training with me, “feeling tired” or “lack of energy” are some of the most common complaints I hear. And boy does it make sense. Kids can be exhausting. Even the most well behaved kids require a ton of your time and energy throughout the day. And then you throw in nightmares, wet beds, and middle-of-the-night-sicknesses and you’ve got a recipe for one tired mom.

While strength training can’t reduce the demands that kids place on you, it can make you better equipped at handling those demands.

Strength training not only helps improve your mood (which feels like an energy boost) but it also helps you sleep better. Better rest means more energy and makes daily tasks easier to do. And the easier tasks are to do, the less energy you spend doing them, meaning you’ve got more energy for other things.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a client who is a mom tell me how much their energy levels have improved from strength training.

Try it for just two weeks. You might be surprised at how much better you feel, and how much more energy you have.

*Want to work with me for those two weeks, risk-free? Drop me a note and let’s get you rolling!*

Increased Confidence

Let’s be honest, we’re all bombarded with images and messages that make us feel less than perfect. We see posts on social media that only show highlights, and assume that’s how people live. We walk through the check out line and see images of so-called beauty standards that we’ve never come close to meeting. And then people who are supposed to care about helping us be healthier and happier make it even more difficult and seem even more impossible.

I don’t think there is a demographic that is bombarded with these negative messages more than moms.

You see it and hear it everywhere.

The beauty of strength training is that it removes the focus from others and what they’re doing, and puts it solely on you. You start focusing on yourself as your only competition. Not in an unhealthy way, but in “I’m going to be better each day” kind of way.

There’s a deep, root-taking kind of confidence that grows when you are able to do more reps with a certain weight, add weight to a barbell or machine, or run farther or faster than before.

You start to believe in yourself.

You start to prove to yourself that you are capable of making healthy changes.

You develop mental fortitude by pushing through discomfort and digging deep to finish a challenging set.

You start to feel confident in your own body and mind.

And that changes everything.

It changes how you walk into a room. It changes how you interact with people. It changes how those social media posts and magazine covers affect you. And it changes how you see yourself when you look in the mirror.

So, mom, I truly believe there is so much potential for strength training to impact you positively. To prove to yourself that you are more than you give yourself credit for. Whether it’s with a trainer like myself, or on your own, give strength training a shot. It just might be one of the best decisions you make.

Ten Lies the Fitness Industry Tells You

Sometimes I feel like cranky old man. I’m not as laid back as I used to be, and this is never more true than when I’m all fed up with a healthy dose of B.S. from the fitness industry.

Today I’m all geared up to yell at the kids to get off my lawn. But the “kids” are fitness industry “leaders” and my “lawn” is you. That’s right, you’re my lawn. That’s why I water you, and feed you, and pick up the dog poop. Because I…care.

That analogy went a little sideways, but I think it makes sense if you look at it right. No, tilt your head a little more. Yeah, there you go. See, now it makes perfect sense. Right?

OK, Michael. Don’t scare them off.

There are a lot of lies the fitness industry perpetuates that really grind my gears.

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But below, in no particular order, are my top 10. These are my top 10 because they shame people, and/or make it harder for people who are looking to be healthier to make sustainable progress.

If you disagree, or have your own you’d like to add, drop your thoughts in the comments below! I’d love to talk further about these with you.

Let’s go!

#1. You have to diet to lose weight

Let’s make sure we’re on the same page with this one. When I say diet, I mean what we all think of when we hear the word “diet” – restricting food in some way, usually via a popular method (gluten-free, keto, Atkins, etc.) with the intent to lose weight.

I don’t know what the formal definition of diet is, but I think that was a pretty good one.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say, “I need to go on a diet.” Thousands? Probably, honestly. And how many times a have you heard a fitness professional talking about the need for people to go on a diet? Maybe just as many times. We are beat over the head with it, and it’s ingrained in us that the only way to lose weight is through restriction, and deprivation.

Want proof that diets tend to not work? You are probably your own proof. How many times have you gone on a diet and had it stick? There’s some pretty solid and specific-to-you proof.

In fact, I would argue that diets rarely work. They fail to address the real issues (your relationship with food, your habits and behaviors, your coping skills) and act as a quick fix that falls apart before too long.

Also, can we take back the word “diet” already? I mean, really we’re all on a diet, because a diet is simply what we eat…healthy or not. Do you eat McDonald’s every day? That’s your diet. Do you only eat vegetables and fish? That’s your diet. The food you buy your dog? That’s their diet. Plus some scraps from the table because he’s such a good boy! Such a good boy!

Whatever you eat, that’s your diet. And you don’t need to restrict or deprive yourself to lose weight. In fact, you probably shouldn’t.

#2. You aren’t healthy unless you’re lean

I hate this one. I really hate it. It makes people disappointed in their progress because they feel like it’s “not enough”.

Lean does not automatically mean healthy. Just like body fat doesn’t automatically mean unhealthy. You can be very lean and be emotionally, mentally, and physically unhealthy. I’ve seen it many times. You can also be considered overweight and be very healthy in all those categories.

It’s almost like judging someone’s health by the way they look is a really stupid thing to do. So don’t listen to anyone who says it’s not…including yourself. Let actual health markers (blood pressure, labs, annual doctors visits, etc.) determine that. Not the scale.

#3. Fit people are very lean year round

Hang around someone who is prepping for a body building or fitness show, or getting ready for a photo shoot for very long and you will quickly learn that getting to high levels of leanness is incredibly difficult for most people. There is so much work that goes into getting stage or photo ready…it’s grueling. And potentially dangerous. Water and sodium manipulation, diuretics, extreme dehydration…just to “look good”. Not too mention perfect lighting and Photoshop to make them look even better.

There’s a really good chance that the people you see on magazines only looked like that the day the had their photo shoot, and won’t look like that again until their next one.

That Instagram “model” who posts pictures of her abs every day, maybe she looks like that all the time, or maybe she posts a bunch of pictures over several months, all from the same photo shoot. That absolutely happens.

Sure, we all know people who seem to be able to stay quite lean throughout the year, but that’s the rarity not the norm. And it certainly doesn’t indicate any level of health. People work very hard, and often put their heath at risk getting lean enough to be considered stage or photo shoot ready. And the process is often incredibly disruptive to their lives. I’ve been around them. They’re usually miserable.

Don’t make the assumption that they walk around that lean on a daily basis, or that a high level of leanness is any kind of indicator of being healthy or fit. It’ll only make you frustrated with progress that you should be celebrating.

#4. You need to detox your body

I’ll be honest, I’m so tried of detoxes. I’m tired of hearing about them. I’m tired of people peddling them. I’m tired of people’s health being negatively impacted by them. And, I’m tired of people not giving their bodies enough credit.

I’ll keep this short. Your body has it’s own detox system. If you have a liver, kidneys, and skin that you can sweat through, you’re body is detoxing just fine on it’s own.

“But I did a detox once, and I felt so much better!”

Of course you did. You stopped eating a bunch of highly processed foods, stopped overeating, and were better hydrated. Anyone would feel better doing that. It’s not the detox that made you feel better.

#5. Starvation mode is real

I’m willing to bet that more people than not believe that starvation mode is a real thing. In case you’re unfamiliar with it, starvation mode is the notion that if you eat too little for too long, your body thinks you’re starving, will stop you from continuing to lose weight, and possibly even cause you to start gaining weight. However, despite how much so called fitness pros perpetuate it, it’s flat out not true.

It has about as much scientific backing as “put on a coat or you’ll catch a cold.” We’ve heard it a lot, but hearing something a lot doesn’t make it science.

Yes, metabolism slows as we eat less food over time. That’s what the body does. Eating less food, and carrying less body weight will cause your metabolism to drop because it doesn’t need to operate as high as it used to. There’s less food to digest and less mass to maintain, so it doesn’t need to expend as much energy. That’s simply the body maintaining homeostasis, not some negative effect of you eating too little. Your metabolism may slow down some, but if you’re truly in a caloric deficit, you wont stop losing weight.

As far as actually gaining weight because of a prolonged calorie deficit? Nope. That’s flat out false. Need proof? Check out the Minnesota Starvation Experiment. Look at videos and pictures from the Holocaust. If this were true, wouldn’t those starving third world countries be filled with overweight people instead people who are emaciated?

The fitness industry needs to stop spreading this falsehood.

#6. Carbs make you fat

Carbs have been getting a bad wrap for quite a while now. And the rise in popularity of low carb diets, like keto, have only furthered the demonetization of things like fruit and grains.

People really like to spread information that is sensationalized and not backed by any evidence.

The statement “carbs make you fat” fits this bill.

When someone tells me that carbs are bad, or make you fat, I find it interesting to simply ask them why. Usually, I’m met with blank stare. They have no idea, nor do they have evidence for what they’re saying. They’ve just heard it repeated so much that they believe it. I don’t put the blame solely on these people, after all we’ve all had that message beat into our heads by an industry that is supposed to have our best interest at heart. But, at the same time, we need to take agency for ourselves and make sure we’re well, and accurately, informed.

No food (not even ice cream and cookies) can cause you to gain weight on it’s own. Gaining weight, put simply, is the result of eating more calories than your body needs on a regular basis.

That’s it.

Can eating too many carbs cause you to gain weight? Yes. But that’s the result of the amount, not the carbs themselves.

#7. Lifting weights will make you bulky

This is another one of my least favorites on this list. First, it’s flat out not true, and is only perpetuated due to a gross lack of understanding of how the human body works. Second, it often discourages women from strength training. And everyone, women included, could benefit greatly from strength training.

Muscle gain is a two part process. First, there must be enough damage caused to the muscle, typically via strength training, to cause a growth response. Second, there must be enough extra energy (excess calories) in the body to facilitate and support that growth. Building muscle takes energy. If the energy isn’t there, it wont happen.

Can lifting weights cause muscle growth? Absolutely, but ONLY if coupled with an excess of calories over an extended period of time.

#8. Sugar is toxic

This one.

Ugh.

Let’s talk about “toxic” for a minute. If someone is going to say something is “toxic” they have to mention dosage. Otherwise, they might not fully understand the concept of toxic. Most things can be toxic at a certain dosage.

Like water.

Yes, water can be toxic. In fact, too much water can literally kill you. That’s right, the most benign thing in the world can literally kill you if you get too much of it. Now, you’d have to drink an absolute ton of it to be in danger of this, but it’s possible.

Dosage matters.

If someone is going to say “sugar is toxic”, it needs to be immediately followed with “at a dosage of”, or they don’t really grasp what they’re saying. Again, this amounts to something that gets repeated so much, no one questions it, and spreads it like wildfire.

Now, can sugary foods be problematic? Of course. They’re delicious, and designed in a way that makes us want to keep eating them without feeling satisfied. But, that doesn’t make them toxic.

*It’s worth mentioning that most of the foods we label as “sugary” (ice cream, doughnuts, cookies, milkshakes) also contain high amounts of fat. So to say the issue with these foods is the high sugar content is really missing the boat, and not looking at the full picture.*

#9. Soreness is an indicator of a good workout

Nope.

Soreness is an indicator that you did something you haven’t done for a while, or before. It’s due to repeated motion through a range of motion you’re not used to, or with a load (weight) you’re not efficient with yet.

That’s it.

#10. Your worth is determined by your size/shape/weight

No.

No, no, no, no, no.

If anyone tells you this, or implies this, know that they are flat out wrong.

Your worth has nothing to do with any physical features, your size, or a number on the scale.

Your value is not impacted by what you look like in a swimsuit.

Anyone that makes you feel any different is speaking from their own inadequacies and insecurities. Shut them down, and get that noise out of your life.

Wrap-up

The fitness industry is rampant with falsehoods and lies. It is an industry that largely preys on people’s fears and insecurities to make money. It can be an ugly industry.

But, it’s not all bad. There are a lot of folks who care more about you being successful than they do about getting your money. Be careful who you let influence you. This whole “being a healthier person” thing is tricky on it’s own. Don’t let someone make it unnecessarily harder by spreading false beliefs.

If you know someone in particular who would benefit from reading this, please share it with them. Or, if you’re the type of person who likes sharing (hopefully) awesome content on your social media outlets, please feel free to do so.

Build A Strong and Sexy Back: Low Cable Single Arm Bent Over Row

Prioritizing your back in the gym is a really good idea.

There are both longevity of health reasons, and superficial “looking good” reasons to do so.

Let’s start with the un-sexy, keep-you-healthy reasons.

As we age, certain muscles tend to tighten while others tend to loosen. In the upper body we see that the upper back muscles tend to loosen and the chest muscles tend to tighten. You know that painful looking posture that is so characteristic to senior citizens? The kind of posture that makes their torso look like a questions mark? Yeah, that’s what happens over time.

Image result for upper cross syndrome

If that isn’t problematic enough, we spend a lot of time in this hunched over position. Driving, watching TV, talking on the phone, just having crappy posture in general…and these behaviors encourage that hunched over posture.

So, not only are we fighting time and physiology, but we’re actively encouraging that poor and problematic posture to settle in early.

Beyond that, a strong back, particularly upper back, keeps the shoulders healthy. Shoulders are one of the most commonly injured joints, and a large percentage of people deal with shoulder pain at some point in their lives. Making your upper back strong is a great way to help deal with those aches and pains, and even stave off injury.

Now let’s move on to the more sexy, fun reasons that you should prioritize training your back.

A strong upper back just looks good.

Dudes that fill out their t-shirts with a thick upper back and full traps, well they just look strong. And you know they aren’t afraid of hard work because a big and strong upper back isn’t something that comes easily.

And a strong back on a woman adds an extra element of “confident sexy” to tank tops, and swimsuits.

I’ve never had a client be unhappy with a stronger, more defined back.

Have I convinced you yet that you should prioritize training your back? Good.

Let’s get to the exercise shall we?

Low Cable Single Arm Bent Over Row

I’m a big fan of just about any version of single arm rowing, but I’ve really been digging these lately.

I like the unique tension that the cable provides, and I like that you have to brace the crap out of your body…(not literally, cuz ew).

CUES:

  • Keep your torso at about 45 degrees to the ground
  • Brace your abs very tight, and place your non working hand on the forward knee.
  • Pull your hand to the middle of your rib cage ans squeeze your shoulder blade tight at the end of the movement
  • Avoid rotating your torso throughout the movement.

I typically like to program these for around 8-12 reps per side.

Give them a shot and let me know what you think!