Here are pictures of different batches of Healthy Breakfast Muffins i’ve made (some with blueberries and some without)
Simple list of ingredients:
Eggwhites, whole eggs, cooked sweet potatoes or canned pumkin, plain nonfat greek yogurt, whey protein, oats, cinnamon, frozen wild blueberries
No excuse not to have a healthy, balanced breakfast…just requires a little bit of thought, planning and preparation ahead of time…when I get up at 4:20am, my breakfast is ready for me
around 103 packages of chicken to be more precise (7 cases)…got an extra 10% off for my bulk purchase
The Multi-Dimensional Aspect of Fitness
If one is to truly attain a status of being fit, then he/she must be willing to implement a balanced workout routine that enables both aerobic and anaerobic conditioning, achieves muscular balance, core strength, speed, agility and favorable strength/weight ratio. Achieving success in your fitness related goals requires a multi-fauceted approach that involves strength training, cardiovascular conditioning (both aerobic and anaerobic) and nutritional planning.
Let’s start with the strength training aspect of fitness. There are some basic principles that need to be recognized in order to benefit. In simple terms, lift large objects repeatedly. The more weight, the more stressed imposed on the muscles, enabling more potential growth. The more repetitions, the more the muscles become conditioned for the particular activity and are able to deal with imposed stress. The more sets, the more the muscles are conditioned to recover from repeated bouts of movements placing the same stress on the same musculature. Large compound movements involve more muscles, enabling greater recruitment of muscle fiber in various parts of the body. The greater the range of motion, the more work completed on each rep as the amount of weight is traveling a greater distance and the muscles involved are worked from their longest stretched position to their shortest contracted position (enabling flexibility), encountering resistance through both the eccentric and concentric portions of the movements. The wider the variety of resistance exercises implemented, the more conditioned the muscles become for a wider variety of tasks and movements, involving various positions and angles. Consider your repertoire of exercises like your playbook…a football team with only a few set plays is going to SUCK!!!
I don’t care who you are or what your fitness related goals are, YOU NEED TO MOVE SOME F***ING WEIGHT!!! And yes, I’m talking to all the females who are afraid of getting bulky and who think lifting weights means doing some isolation exercises for shoulders and arms with 5 lb dumbells in addition to using the hip abductor and adductor machines. If you want to have a nice physique with some shape and not look like a skinny fat person, then you have to LIFT SOME WEIGHTS!!! Big movements, big weights, repeatedly to exhaustion…and NO, BODYPUMP does not count as lifting weights. If you find the females in the gym with the best physiques, you’ll discover one common denominator: THEY ALL LIFT HEAVY WEIGHTS REPEATEDLY!!! They aren’t afraid to go mix it up in the free weight section. Their routines incorporate key lifts like deadlifts, squats, lunges, pressing and pulling movements. Ladies, don’t be afraid of the free weight area, because of the guys over there…most of them have no idea what the f*** they are doing anyway. They may be trying to lift heavy weights, but they are likely doing it the wrong way. Do not assume any of them know what they are doing. If you don’t know how to execute certain movements, then seek help from a QUALIFIED individual…not the guy who’s been staring at your ass for the last 30 minutes.
Some people may think lifting weights doesn’t elevate your heart rate or burn calories…these people have never actually done multiple compound movements to near failure, while maintaining a fast tempo in between sets. Resistance training should be exhausting…if 30 minutes on the elliptical machine is not a walk in the park compared to your weight training, then you are not executing your workouts properly. Nothing is going to compare to the level of exhaustion you’ll feel after performing numerous extended sets of a compound movements like squats, deadlifts, etc. You will burn more calories doing these large movements than you will doing anything else. Furthermore, strength training helps you build and maintain muscle, which acts as the foundation for your metabolism. More muscle means faster metabolism . The body requires more calories to maintain itself and burns more calories even in a resting state…you don’t get that from doing cardio! Also, the more muscle and strength you possess and the more conditioned your muscles are to imposed stress, the greater the total work capacity of your body, which translates to MORE CALORIES BURNED WHEN YOU WORKOUT!!!
I don’t want to just pick on the ladies, because there are plenty of guys who frequent the gym regularly and don’t accomplish sh*t while they are there. I’m talking about the dipsh*ts who waste an hour crowded around in groups of three or four doing bench press and curls. TRY DOING SOME F***ING SQUATS OR DEADLIFTS!!! And I’m talking about real squats, where your ass drops below the level of your knees:
You all talk about wanting to grow…well it ain’t gonna happen unless your start exerting yourself a little more. Spending the bulk of your time benching is not going to induce growth and hypertrophy…neither is talking/texting on your F***ing cell phone. If you’re going to come to the gym to workout, THEN WORKOUT!!! If you’re going to talk on your phone or text people THEN GO TO THE F***ING COFFEE shop and stay out of everyone else’s way. Guys, if your goal is size, then stop to realize that your legs and back are your largest muscle groups making up 75% of your potential areas for growth…want to grow? Work your damn legs and back! Stop focusing on your f***ing chest and arms! For every one of you who I’ve heard say “I can’t put on size”, how many of you have ever done squats or deadlifts until you puked?
This brings up the next point. Whatever you’re doing, if you want results, you need to exert yourself. Get out of your f***ing comfort zone! Find your limits and push them. Focus on the task at hand and put forth everything you have at that moment. Don’t tell me that you want to gain 10 lbs of muscle or lose 10 lbs of fat…SHOW ME!!! When I see someone getting lightheaded after a 20 rep set of ass to the ground squats or someone gasping for air after doing hill sprints, I see someone who is serious about attaining their goals. Talk is bullshit! Let your actions speak! In regards to effort, I will refer you to another piece I wrote titled “A Sense of Urgency”
The next part of the fitness triangle that needs to be addressed is cardiovascular exercise. You need to do cardio. You don’t need to do hours of cardio a day, unless you are training for a specific event that requires such duration. Most females focus too much on cardio, while not allocating enough time and effort to resistance training. Most guys do not perform enough cardio (many don’t do any). Regardless of who you are or what your goals are, some amount of cardio is necessary…yeah, even if you’re a supposed hard-gainer who wants to add as much muscle as possible. Some guys are deathly afraid of doing cardio, because they claim it will cause them to catabolize…they’ll burn too many calories and lose muscle…unlikely! First off, unless you are under 5% bodyfat and significantly restricting calories, you are not at risk for breaking down muscle by doing 20-30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise 4-6 days a week…especially if you play your cards right with your nutrition (which we will be addressed next). Most of these guys are at least 12% bodyfat, which means their bodies will be quite willing to spare fat from some additional activity. While you’re at it, try elevating the tempo of your workout a little! You don’t need to take 6-10 minutes in between sets. Force your body to adapt and recover while it becomes stronger. The problem is that most guys want to be able to lift a lot of weight, but they do not want to recognize how out of shape they are. They are afraid of feeling out of breath from doing a few minutes on a machine, doing some hill sprints or stairs or cutting their rest in between sets down. Cardio vascular health and efficiency enables blood circulation. Oxygen and nutrient delivery are dependant upon blood circulation, which determines both short and long term recovery (how fast you’re able to recover from one set and perform the next and how long it takes to recover in between workouts). Being in better aerobic and anaerobic conditioning as a result of cardiovascular exercise increases your work capacity, enabling you to work harder during your workouts, which translates to more intense workouts and more muscle. You can’t get your legs to grow from doing squats if you get tired and winded after the first couple working sets. Aerobic and anaerobic capacity is a limiting factor to muscle growth. Furthermore, by incorporating cardio in your routine, you’re more likely to utilize the extra calories you take in.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that most people are extremely proficient at bullshitting themselves. When someone says “I don’t want to get big” or “I just want to tone up” or “I’m afraid of losing muscle”, what they are really saying is “I don’t want to work that hard” or “I’m not willing to make sacrifices”. Don’t bullshit yourself. You all need to lift heavy objects repeatedly and perform cardiovascular exercise consistently.
The last piece of this big puzzle is nutrition and everything you do outside the gym. Regardless of whether your goal is to gain muscle, lose fat or improve performance, what you put in your body is of the utmost importance. Working out is just a catalyst. It imposes stress on your body, forcing it to adapt and become stronger, but this cannot happen without the proper internal environment. First off, you need to fuel your body properly for workouts, so that you can get the most out of them. Second, you must provide your body with appropriate nutrients following your workouts, so that you can recover. You don’t grow in the gym. The process of growth and recovery takes place after the workout. Workouts break your body down. If you do not put the right things in your body, it cannot rebuild itself properly or efficiently. Proper nutrient intake, hydration and rest all contribute to both performance and recovery and are essential for progress of any kind. Guys, wanting to put on size is not a green light for consuming whatever sh*t you want to eat. Pizza, hot wings and beer don’t help you build muscle…they just make you fat and hinder performance while robbing you of an opportunity to ingest useful nutrients. Ladies, wanting to lose bodyfat is not a green light to skip meals, exercise on an empty stomach and only consume useless sh*t that says it’s only X number of calories…Special K might be only 100 calories per serving, but it’s 100 useless calories!!! It will do nothing to help your body. By under-eating and overtraining on cardio you are priming your body to burn muscle and store fat, which will slow your metabolism down even more.
For more details on nutrition, check on my blog post called “Basic Nutrition”
In closing, my goal here is not to cut down on everyone and point out what you’re doing wrong, but rather to point out what you need to be doing and why. My goal is to help you improve. One of the purposes of this blog is for me to provide information that can help others attain their fitness related goals. Set some goals for yourself, be true to yourself, establish a plan of action and implement it with a sense of urgency. We are all capable of doing more and becoming better. Have the courage to face your fears and the humility to admit you have plenty of room for improvement.
Dinner: Chicken, Broccoli, Quinoa, White Bean Hummus
2 months into my off-season now and I’m still overcoming some injuries, although there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. There is likely some structural damage in my right knee, but it’s nothing new. Pain management is dependent upon control of inflammation. The knee issue (which I’m diagnosing as meniscus) was present prior to my first show, although the pain did not become interfering until a few weeks into my off-season. Having experienced this before during a post season transition, I attributed this to changes in my diet. While I already advocate a nutritional plan void of gluten, I started to question the potential inflammatory effects of grains such as oats. After all, one of the main difference for me between contest prep and off-season (in terms of my diet) is the amount of oats I eat. In the last week I decided to experiment with elimination of both oats and brown rice. My carb sources were limited to red potatoes, sweet potatoes, some beans, grapefruit and blueberries (in addition to my usual ridiculous consumption of broccoli). In a matter of a couple of days I noticed a reduction in pain. The question is whether I was experiencing a reduction inflammation specific to consumption of grains or whether it was just a general reduction in carbohydrates that provided the alleviation of inflammatory effects. Moving forward I am limiting carbohydrate intake more than I was and also limiting my use of oats. I will maintain a heavier reliance on sweet potatoes and red potatoes for my complex carbohydrates. We’ll see what happens
My shoulders (especially the left one) continue to give me issues, although they are noticeably better. I knew it was a good sign, when Saturday while I was getting a massage, I told Mario Travis (my massage therapist) that he could be more aggressive, because I wasn’t feeling the usual amount of pain…clients generally don’t ask Mario to apply more pressure.
Certain movements still give me problems, but I’ve been able to move some decent weight on a couple of chest movements. This past week I did 100’s for 19 reps on incline d-bell presses and the week prior I was able to do more weight on incline cable flys than I’ve ever done before. I look forward to being able to perform dips and lateral raises without pain.
The most aggravating and limiting injury I’ve dealt with this off-season has been a strain of my illiopsoas. Tight lower back, protrusion of lower abdomen, pain with movements heavily involving hip flexors, lack of power on compound leg movements and relative loss of strength in my core enabled me to diagnose this as a psoas strain.
This injury became apparent a few weeks prior to Worlds. Originally it limited my abdominal/core training…incline sit-ups and hanging knee raises were becoming painful so I had to modify my ab/core workouts. Originally the injury did not affect my leg training at all. I continued doing hill sprints without an issue. Weeks into my off-season, the injury progressively became worse and began interfering with lower body training. Unilateral movements were extremely painful and were eliminated along with most ab/core work. I was still able to perform many leg movements, but my usual strength and power was absent. The strain seemed to be the result of a misalignment in my hips that went unaddressed for too long. I feel that I’ve been able to now get this issue at least mostly corrected. The return of some strength on my trap bar deadlifts was evidence of this. This past Thursday I finally felt like I could move some decent weight again on what has typically been my strongest exercise. After several warm-up sets, I did progressive sets of 5 reps: 495×5,525×5,545×5,565×5 followed by a set of 500×10. I did not attempt to train to failure on any of these sets. My goal was to get 5 reps while maintaining clean, controlled form…based on succession, I elevated the weight on each set. While I still have a ways to go to get back to where I was in my previous off-season, this performance elevated my confidence and renewed my faith that things are moving in the right direction.
Here are a few videos showing where my deadlifts were last spring prior to the beginning of my prep:
Hopefully, it will not be long until I’m firing on all cylinders again and I hope to start posted some new training videos soon.
Vaughan and I have returned to our original 4 day split
Monday: Shoulders & Back
Tuesday: Quads, Hamstrings, Calves
Thursday: Chest, Triceps & Biceps
Friday: Back, Hamstring, Glutes, Calves
I have been doing a minimum of 30 minutes cardio per day 6-7 days per week. Many days, I have added 15 minutes cardio prior to my workout as a warm-up. Additionally, we have thrown in 5 stair sprints in between all exercises on our upper body days to keep the tempo up. I have also been religious about stretching. I plan to start incorporating my roller I just built out of a 4” PVC pipe + rubber door mat + duct tape.
That’s all i have to report for now