Your fasted workouts are failing you!

   If you're like me, then perhaps you have tried different forms of cardio in or out of the gym. I've hit the treadmills, stair climbers, ellipticals, you name it. Burning fat while gaining muscle or simply to just maintain an ideal physique is what 99/100 of us want out of our routines. I'm always pushing to gain more lean mass while limiting unnecessary fat stored in my body. I got to a point where I wasn't feeling the effects of my pre workout supplement anymore because I was consuming food prior to my workouts. I work out in the morning, and was consuming way too much food prior which left my feeling water-logged and sluggish. 

   I decided to hit the weights or cardio on an empty stomach so I wouldn't feel bloated and would feel the full effects of my pre workout. I started noticing that my muscle fullness, endurance, and pumps were nearly non-existent, while my fat loss seemed to have stagnated. I started drinking a protein shake with around 4-6oz of water prior to my workouts and have noticed significant positive changes. My endurance, blood flow, and strength definitely increased during my sessions which is always a plus. 

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Doesn't fasted cardio/training help burn more fat?!  

   Any type of fasted cardio or training will help you burn more fat DURING the exercise time, BUT your intensity may decline very noticeably. This leaves your body's ability to burn fat post exercise compromised. Over a period of time, fat burning is not an immediate process, as it occurs over the course of hours, even days. When you are in a fasted state (ex. when you wake up after a night's rest) your glycogen levels are depleted while leaving your body more carbohydrate reliant. Doing fasted cardio or weight training will burn more muscle in the long run than torching fat. And I don't know about you, but that doesn't seem like anything I want to be a part of.


   Studies have shown that burning more carbs during workouts (i.e. you aren't fasted)  you get the "after burn" effect which entails that you are burning more fat post workout as opposed to during the exercise on an empty stomach. Strange how that works, huh? 

   I've done fasted cardio for an extended period of time and the results were mediocre, as my fat loss left me with something to be desired. To break my fast before the gym, i drink a protein shake with only half the usual amount of liquid. You could also eat a banana, apple, oatmeal, protein bar, cup of yogurt, rice cake with peanut butter,  or something similar to satiate your hunger. If you feel as if fasted workouts/cardio is working for you then by all means stick with it! I just feel as if my workouts leave me feeling more engaged while I have broken my overnight fast, along with noticeably more endurance. So make sure you're eating something to break that "fast" before you hit the gym or do any type of cardio, don't let your gains be losses! 





Rest Pause sets for the Win!

Have you hit a plateau in your workout regimen or feel like you're doing the same routine every time you step in the gym? I'm going to go over what Rest Pause sets can do for your short term and long term goals. In short, rest pause sets are when you are doing a typical set (I.E. bench press) to failure, resting 15-20 seconds, then going until failure again. Rest pause sets will definitely change your routine, and you will definitely be feeling the difference at the end of your workout. The purpose of rest pause is to maximize your reps and hit those stingy muscle fibers deep in the muscle tissue to stimulate more growth by going to failure in your sets. 

I recently had hit a plateau in my chest workout and I was leaving the gym feeling very unfulfilled as if I had just wasted an hour of my life. I decided to take a different approach with adding a rest pause method into my workout. While I didn't change much as far as my exercises, simply going until failure at the end of each set has definitely upped my strength in each area. I felt more energized after each set because I was focusing on the getting the MOST out of each rep. My wife and I started doing a new program, which is based off Jim Stoppani's methods. We are keeping our rep range high and doing about 50% of our max weight for each exercise. This is a strength building method with some muscle building elements as well.  Keep in mind that you can implement Rest Pause sets with any type of muscle building workout. This is an example of our chest day workout :

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Chest Day - 15-20 Reps with 4 Sets per Exercise

(50% Max weight)

* If you're feeling that the weight is too easy at this range, play around until you're struggling to hit between the 15-20 rep threshold*

Flat Bench Press or Dumbbell Press

1st Set x 15-20 Reps

2nd Set x 15-20 Reps or until Failure, Rest 15-20 Seconds, Then reps until failure

3rd Set x 15-20 Reps

4th Set x 15-20 Reps or until Failure, Rest 15-20 Seconds, Then reps until failure

Incline Bench Press or Incline Dumbbell Press

1st Set x 15-20 Reps

2nd Set x 15-20 Reps or until Failure, Rest 15-20 Seconds, Then reps until failure

3rd Set x 15-20 Reps

4th Set x 15-20 Reps or until Failure, Rest 15-20 Seconds, Then reps until failure

*Still Feeling energized? Throw some HIIT in with some pushups in between your non rest pause sets ! *

Incline Dumbbell Flys

1st Set x 15-20 Reps

2nd Set x 15-20 Reps or until Failure, Rest 15-20 Seconds, Then reps until failure

3rd Set x 15-20 Reps

4th Set x 15-20 Reps or until Failure, Rest 15-20 Seconds, Then reps until failure

Flat Dumbbell Flys

1st Set x 15-20 Reps

2nd Set x 15-20 Reps or until Failure, Rest 15-20 Seconds, Then reps until failure

3rd Set x 15-20 Reps

4th Set x 15-20 Reps or until Failure, Rest 15-20 Seconds, Then reps until failure

Single or Double Arm Low Pulley Flys

1st Set x 15-20 Reps

2nd Set x 15-20 Reps or until Failure, Rest 15-20 Seconds, Then reps until failure

3rd Set x 15-20 Reps

4th Set x 15-20 Reps or until Failure, Rest 15-20 Seconds, Then reps until failure

*Add some pushups* It sucks, But it works !

*If pulleys are too heavy for you like they are for my wife with this type of workout, resistance bands can be used instead! 



Set off your muscles with Super Sets!

   Feel stuck in a rut at the gym? You look forward to working your guns today but you've been doing the same thing for a year now. Why not add some supersets to your routine and change up the game a little bit? Super sets not only allow you to get more out of your gym time, but also help in your recovery! You can think of it as a push/pull, or using opposing muscle groups in each set. (Biceps, triceps, hamstrings, quads, etc.)

   I've been adding in super sets to some of my routines that have grown a bit "stale" over the last few months. It's always nice to implement new rep ranges and techniques to your regimen to keep your body guessing in a constant state of positive change.

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   Here's a few examples of some super set exercises. For instance, if you're using a barbell or smith machine for squats and you rest for 2 minutes, you could use that 2 minutes for some bicep curls. While your busting our some curls, your legs are getting ready for the next set of squats! You can add these into your own routing and play around with what works best for you! 

Bicep curls <drop set> to tricep rope push downs

Dumbbell/Smith machine Bench Press <drop set> to bent over dumbbell/smith machine rows

Front Leg extensions(quads) <drop set> to lying leg extensions (hamstrings)

Lat pull downs <drop set> to push ups

   I use this method as a way to incorporate some HIIT aspects to my workouts by keeping my heart rate elevated which will inevitably help burn fat at the same time. It's always good to keep your muscle groups engaged and this is an excellent method for faster recovery times!



12 Weeks to a Stronger YOU!

   Have you hit a "plateau" in your workout routine where you seem like you're lifting the same weight over and over while not getting any stronger? I recommend trying a full body workout routine which will engage and use all of your muscles simultaneously thus making you stronger each subsequent workout. When you're doing a full body workout, you should focus on compound movements. 

   By using compound movements you are engaging more than one muscle group and synergizing them to help build your overall strength. I'm going to break down a full body workout that my wife and I use during our strength building phases. It will be a 12 week split (routine) while moving up in weight each week until week 4, then starting over at week 5. (example; weeks 1 and 5 would be the same weight lifted per exercise) If you're unsure on what these exercises are called, you can use the app HERE which has a plethora of demonstrations on how to properly execute these movements. I also recommend taking a day off between each exercising so you can heal properly, this comes out to around 3-4 workouts per week.

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12 week Full Body Workout Plan

   Each week you will be adding weight to each exercise so that you can hit the targeted rep range. You can adjust the weight however you'd like to ensure you're progressing, every pound matters.  Example- Week 2, once you add the desired weight make sure you can do AT LEAST 10 reps. If 10 reps can't be reached, lower weight slightly. If you can do more than 12 reps without failure, add weight accordingly!

Week 1- 3 sets x 15 reps per set

Week 1-4 will be rotated throughout the 12 week workout plan.
(Ex. week 1 will also be used for week 5 and 9, week 2 will be used for 6 and 10 etc.)

*The idea is to gradually move up in weight each week, so week 1 and 5 will be the same amount of sets and reps, but hopefully you will be more comfortable lifting more weight!



Legs:  Choose 2

Barbell/Smith Machine Squats
Romanian Deadlifts/Stiff Leg dead lifts
Leg press
Leg extension
* I add calf raises 1 workout per week *

Back : Choose 2

Lat Pull downs
Barbell/Smith Machine upright row
Dumbbell Row
Seated Row

Biceps : Choose 2

Preacher Curls
High cable single arm curls
Hammer Curls
Reverse Barbell Curls

Triceps: Choose 2

Skull crushers
V-Bar cable push downs
Overhead rope extensions
Dumbbell/Cable Kick backs

Shoulders : Choose 2

Overhead Dumbbell press
Arnold Press
Dumbbell/Cable Front Raises
Rear delt cable/machine/dumbbell fly's
*I add shrugs for traps one day per week *

   Something that has helped my wife and I is tracking our progress throughout each week. Knowing what we lifted on week 1 makes it easier to go up to the correct weight on week 2! My wife also has a terrible memory so if you're like her, you'll need to write it down somewhere. The Notes section on your phone is perfect because you will most likely always have it with you and not need to bring along a pen! Tracking your progress in this workout plan is just like taking progress pictures of your body, seeing yourself everyday makes it hard to see how your body changes. By week 12, if you stick with this plan, you will be shocked at the strength you have built up!

Why I like the Full Body 12 Week Workout Plan...

   I believe this fitness routine is awesome for adding strength to your routine. It's also very rewarding to track your progress week to week and reaching your personal goals. I prefer using this workout plan during my bulking phase of my diet due to eating extra calories while trying to put on healthy weight. You may use this workout any time you please to add that strength you may have not had before! Happy lifting!


Does HIIT live up to the HYPE?!

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   Imagine you've been walking or running on the same treadmill, pedaling on a stationary bike or using the elliptical for your cardio sessions, sweating and trying to get that body of your dreams or just to maintain. You're getting bored with that routine, and you're getting nowhere fast, as if you're on an eternal hamster wheel. What if I told you that your cardio could add some muscle and reach your goals quicker, wouldn't that be a nice change of pace? Doing HIIT will change up your cardio experience for the better and add some variety to your workout.

What is HIIT exactly?

   It's something that I use frequently use and prefer it to the steady state cardio of the mundane running/walking on a piece of cardio equipment. Don't get me wrong, if you prefer using that equipment, it can be beneficial and I do use them. With everything that comes along with fitness and training, you need to be switching up your routine to keep your ever changing body guessing. By doing HIIT, it means to basically keep your heart elevated during exercise while taking short breaks. For instance, if I'm not really feeling up for the treadmill on my training days, in between my sets of weight training, I'll drop and do some pushups during my normal "resting" period. The options are completely up to you as you could jog in place, jump rope or do burpees, those are my personal choices. The idea is to simply keep your body in an anaerobic state and to keep that heart rate up.


The benefits of using HIIT are amazing!

   HIIT has been shown and proven to burn more calories than steady state cardio, while also lowering cortisol (a stress hormone that causes your body to hold more stores of fat ) levels and can boost more testosterone in males. In my experience, walking or running while stationary gets stale over time. You can't speed up your 30 minutes on the treadmill, although all of us are wishing that we could. HIIT will actually cut your time down in the gym while offering more benefits in the short and long term. HIIT really keeps me engaged in the gym or at home with the short rest periods and I feel like I'm getting more out of the time I'm putting into my fitness routine. It definitely can help those who are looking for something different if they feel as if they are in that "plateau" stage of their regimen.
    Doing steady state cardio will help you burn fat, but a lot of people don't realize that it will also burn muscle as previously stated. When doing HIIT, you're combining your weight training exercise with your cardio routine. In essence, with HIIT, aiding in the lowering of cortisol levels, will burn that stubborn fat that seems to just hang around no matter what you do. Even if you're not weight training, HIIT is still an option. You're still taking short rest periods in between your sets, whether that be doing air squats, sit-ups, or any body weight workout. My wife prefers to do resistance band exercises in between her sets, which is a great alternative.

Why I choose HIIT...   

    I hate cardio, as much as the next person, but to reach my fitness goals it becomes a necessary evil. HIIT makes the entire cardio experience more engaging, and I truly feel like I'm getting more out of my sessions. It's also great for those who workout in tandems or groups, while alternating exercises in between sets and negates the possibility of down time being wasted. Why not make the most of your time and step off the hamster wheel?