• How to stay in shape while traveling.

    How to stay in shape while traveling.

    It’s that time of year that makes getting to the gym regularly not so easy.   Going out of town every weekend, leaving for even longer vacations, weddings, BBQ’s, you name it.  As a trainer, my workload decreases by anywhere from 30-50% in July and August.  Every client asks me the same question- “can you write me down a workout to do in my hotel room that won’t take very long?”   Of course I oblige, telling them while it’s not a substitute for strength training, bodyweight circuits can be effective for burning fat and most importantly keeping themselves active when away from their routine.  

    So I rather than write one, two or three workouts, I decided to put together a simple template from which a crap-ton of workouts can be designed.  All the exercises are bodyweight movements, but feel free to get creative and use different objects to load them.  With the exception of “pulling” exercises, you don’t need any other equipment than yourself and something to elevate your feet or hands or step onto like a chair or phone book.  Personally, I feel that for most people, upper-body pulling exercises are more important than pushing.  Most people spend hours sitting at a desk, slouching with their upper back rounded and chest caved in, leaving them weak in the back and tight in the chest and shoulders.  So rather than omit pulling exercises all together due to lack of equipment, I highly suggest purchasing a suspension trainer such as the TRX or Jungle Gym XT.  I personally like the Jungle Gym XT better, it’s easier to set up and half the price, you can check it out hereBut if  you like the TRX better, awesome, check that out here.  If you’re a frequent traveler, I really suggest investing in a suspension trainer.  If you don’t travel much and are just taking a short vacation, relax and have fun- the gym will be waiting for you when you get back.  Or if you feel so inclined, put together a workout only utilizing what you have to work with. 

    Another item I like are Val Slides, again, not necessary, but great to have if you find yourself in a hotel room with limited time often.  Check those out here

    The Workout

    Simply choose an exercise from corresponding category, for A1-A6 and go at it.  I’m assuming if getting a quick workout in is important to you while traveling, then you’re pretty well schooled in these exercises already.  All my baddass clients know them.  If there is an exercise you’re not familiar with, send me a message, I’ll be happy to break it down for you. 

    Without weights, following tempo is really important if you want to keep the exercises challenging.  For the most part, the slower you go, the harder it is.  For simplicities sake, go with a tempo of 3/0/1/0 for upper-body pushing and lower-body exercises and try a tempo of 3/0/1/1 for upper-body pulling.  You can really go for it by changing it up, say a tempo of 4/0/2/0 or if you’re a sadist, 5/2/2/0, play with it. 

    Here’s how tempo works, for a tempo of 3/0/1/0 using a push-up as an example:

    >The first number (3) is the lowering phase- lowering your self to the ground (3 seconds).

    >The second number (0) is the pause, if any, before pushing your self up (0 seconds).

    >The third number (1) is the lifting phase- pushing your self back up (1 second).

    >The fourth number (0) is the pause, if any, before lowering yourself again (0 seconds).

    Using this 3/0/1/0 tempo, we know that each push-up should take 4 seconds, and that a set of 10 push-ups should take 40 seconds, so try timing the whole set, stay honest.  Now if we followed that tempo for all six exercises, it would take 240 seconds, plus a about another 15-30 seconds of transition time between exercises depending on how fast you move through it.   We’ll call it 260 total seconds, which is less 4 ½ minutes a set, not too bad.  Do that 3-5 times and you’ll be done in 13 to 22 minutes.  Most people can spare that amount of time; it’s 2-3 cycles of not hitting the snooze button. 

    I hope you find this helpful.  If you like it, share it with others who would get something out of it.  Comments, questions, want me to make a video demoing a movement?  Let me know in the comments down below.

  • Keep track of yourself!

    Keep track of yourself!

    I recently went on a 30 day Paleo challenge with 3 other friends with the intent being to get one of our friends to eat healthier and to start exercising.  And while it was a success on that front, it was a great experience for me.  Although I’m constantly explaining to my clients the importance of tracking activities and food intake, this is the first time I have kept a log of my dietary intake in longer then I can remember.  I understand my body and the food I put in it pretty well, so it usually isn’t very hard for me to lean out when I decide to, and it definitely isn’t hard for me to get not lean when I decide I don’t care.  My meals have never been an issue for me unless I’m blatantly eating like crap, it’s usually the little “snacks” I have that get in my way.  Things I don’t need, and more likely I am eating out of boredom than actual hunger.  This is where the tracking came into play for me- if I know I have to write it down and that my friends will see it, I might make smarter choices. 

    This isn’t to say that one needs to track down every bite of food for the rest of their lives, but maybe for a short period of time, say 30 days.  I feel one month is a decent enough amount of time to recognize habits and patterns in your life and start to change them.   It’s also enough time to improve on making smarter choices and instill newly learned good habits 

    Another part of this that leads to success is accountability, to one’s self and to others.  My friends and I pledged 30 days to each other and to ourselves.  We created spreadsheets on Google Documents so that we could log our food and workouts everyday, for all of us to see.  For the most part it kept everybody honest, if one person slacked off and didn’t log their intake, or logged beer and hot dogs, the other guys would pipe in and give him crap.  While we all cheated at least once, and some more than others, we all saw improvements to our body composition and health.

    I ask all of my new clients to log their food intake for the first 30 days and to share that with me.  We do it over Google Docs, so that I am able to make comments and suggestions if needed everyday.  While people can be really resistant to this in the beginning, they find it to be a rewarding experience that pays off in the end.  Once they do start, it becomes a lot easier to identify the problems and make changes.  Not always, but most of the time, I think people tend to overestimate how active they are and underestimate how much they eat.  Not accounting for snacks and believing that the boxes of food that say “healthy” and “natural” on the label are actually that. 

    If we don’t keep track of what goes into our bodies (food), and what goes out (exercise), how are we to know what is or isn’t working?


    “What get’s measured get managed” –Peter Drucker




  • Training and being a dad

    Training and being a dad

    This is my little man Jack. He's a real animal and I love him for it.  To state the obvious, he has changed my life in so many ways.  I'd like to say that the second he was born I fully graduated into adulthood, but I didn't.  It's been much more gradual than that.  It wasn’t so much getting used to the sleepless nights, episodes of relentless crying, diapers and all the fun stuff that comes with a newborn.  The difficult part was getting used of my new role in life, assuming a new responsibility and trying to be better in ways that I didn’t quite understand yet.  It’s been a real process.  I’m not saying I have it all figured out, but I’m on a damn good roll with it.  

    I feel like being a trainer, helping others identify and pursue goals while also maniacally chasing my own, has been a big help to me in these regards.  Having a 400lb deadlift probably won’t make me a better father, but chasing after it and putting in the work to achieve it does.  This means identifying my strengths, accepting my weaknesses, knowing when to back off and when to step it up. 

    This might seem a bit of a stretch, comparing squats to being a dad, but to me it just comes down to working to be better.  Even if I don’t get smarter or stronger today, if I gain more patience, well that’s progress too. 

  • Meat, oh glorious Meat

    Meat, oh glorious Meat

    This is my recent haul.  Every time I place an order, I get a little too excited.  I’ll check the tracking online a few times a day; even call my P.O. Box to see if it’s come in yet.   I really like my meat.  

    I eat protein with every meal, so it’s really important to me to have high quality meat.  That means grass fed pasture raised.  I’ll skimp on a lot of things, like cleaning products or my wife’s brand name crackers, but meat I will not.  Lucky for me I found a small farm located in upstate New York that sells very high quality meat at a pretty affordable price.  I’m hooked.  You should check it out, it called Meadow Raised Meats, a woman named Wendy runs it all by herself, and apparently she really cares about her livestock.  She told me so herself.

    The health benefits of grass fed meat versus it’s crappier cousin, factory feed-lot meat is overwhelming.  We seem to all know about the anti-biotics, growth hormone and so-on, but what’s another really important factor is the quality of the fat.  Yes there is less of it in grass fed meat, but more importantly it’s better for you.  Fat is a storage locker.  So when a cow eats crappy food, is pumped full of drugs and hormones, well, guess where that goes.  In the fat.  And you eat it.  Not to mention, fat from grass fed meat has 2-4 times more omega 3’s (good) and far fewer omega 6 (bad).  To read more about this and other health benefits, check out this article.  While you're at it, here's another good post on high protein diets.

    I’m writing this now with a belly full of porter house steak and a huuuge salad.  I’m feeling pretty awesome.