Workout Tempo; Strength Gain vs. Fat Loss

1 03 2013


I came across this succinct little video over on the Muscle & Fitness website (which, in my opinion, is one of the better strength/fitness magazines on the market) and I wanted to share it for a few reasons. Take 3 minutes out of your day to give it a watch, and take note of the following:

1) Slow tempo = strength gains. Fast tempo = fat loss (notice how out of breath he becomes after the 4 fast reps; this is what I’m talking about!)

2) Notice his squat. This is what you want your squat to look like.

3) His lack of sleeves. Someone must have stolen them. Poor guy.

That’s all for now. Happy lifting!



Weight Lifting 101: A Simple Template for Casual Gym-goers

1 02 2013

We all have our own fitness objectives, but I wanted to set forth a general weight lifting template for my casual gym-going readers. This isn’t a guide that you’ll get in any textbook, but it’s based on my knowledge and personal lifting experience. There are a million caveats and precise details that are going to be overlooked, but it’s in the spirit of keeping things as simple as possible.

Note: Athletes and advanced lifters, feel free to ignore this post. You know what works for you.

Below is a table that lays out how the number of repetitions performed in an exercise affects your muscles. More intense, lower repetition lifts, will lead to power and strength gains. Mid-range repetition schemes will lead to muscle hypertrophy (increased size). High-range repetition schemes will lead to increased muscular endurance. You can refer to this table to plan the repetition scheme your lifts, according to your fitness goals.


Note: Hypertrophy is just a fancy word for “muscle growth”

Regardless of your objective- whether it be fat-loss, increased strength, increased mass, etc., I truly believe that this is the best way for intermediate lifters to organize their time in the gym:

Before beginning to lift, don’t forget to start with a dynamic warm-up. Seriously, this is very important if you want to lift sustainably. When I neglect this, I get injured. Period.

First lift: Multi-articulated, in the strength repetition range. This is your most intense lift. You should aim for 3-5 work sets (non-warmup sets). Your rest between sets will be longest here (2-4 minutes)

Second lift: Multi-articulated, in either the strength or hypertrophy repetition range (depending on your goals). Again, ensure to use a weight that is challenging for every repetition. Again, aim for 3-5 work sets. Rest between sets should be slightly shorter.

Accessory lifts: Depending on your goals, you will keep these accessory lifts in the 8-20 repetition region. I recommend performing 3-4 of these lifts, each of 3-4 work sets. Rest periods should be as short as possible.

That’s it. That’s as simple as I can make it. You’ll keep your intensity high, you’ll get in high-quality work, and you’ll reap the benefits of getting stronger, losing fat, and either gaining muscle size or endurance (depending on your personalized plan). Of course, you also have to keep your nutrition in check.

If this seems too complex, just do what Cressey recommends.

This has nothing to do with the content of this article.

A few notes

– People who are brand new to lifting weights should not follow this template. When getting started at the gym it is absolutely paramount to learn proper technique before worrying about intensity, repetitions maximums, etc. Weight lifting is extremely beneficial, but performing lifts incorrectly will prevent you from reaping these benefits and could also lead to injury, which will prevent you from doing anything productive. Be patient, practice diligently, and you’ll achieve your results as quickly as possible.

– You’ll notice that the 5-6 repetition range is in the sweet spot for getting bigger and stronger (strength + hypertrophy). For intermediate lifters, there is no better program than the 5×5 template (5 sets of 5 reps). Perform 5×5 of your two main lifts (squat/deadlift, bench/row, shoulder press/pull-ups, etc.) and then crush 3-4 accessory exercises with the highest intensity for the giving rep range and you’ll undoubtably see impressive gains.

– Ladies! this template applies to you too! Trust me, lifting weights will not turn you into a masculine beast. Lifting weights will make you more confident, healthier, and (in the eyes of most men) sexier. Don’t believe me? Read this!

If you’d like to discuss how to tailor this type of program to your specific goals, don’t hesitate to contact me! As always, post your questions below if anything is unclear.


Fat-loss: Finishers, discipline, success

22 01 2013

222868_10101025237268184_9362072_81186257_6512712_nAgain, I’ve found a great article with lots of insightful information. Jason Ferruggia details simplistically a few great ways to shed fat in his article, What’s the Best Fat Loss Workout?

It’s not a long read, so give it a look, but here are the major take-home points:

– The single most important factor for fat loss is diet. Period. This means avoiding sugar, liquid calories, fried food, processed food, etc.

– Even if your primary goal is to lose fat, you should still train like you’re trying to build muscle and gain strength. You still want to keep the big, compound exercises in your routine because they incorporate the most muscle mass and burn the most calories.

– In general, rest periods should always be pushed no matter what the goal. Shorter breaks between sets and a brisk pace throughout the workout will boost conditioning levels and help you stay leaner.

– When your main strength work is done, you should follow it up with a high-intensity finisher for 5-10 minutes. This could be sled pushes, kettlebell snatches, battling ropes, heavy bag work or sledgehammer swings. Note: if you don’t have this equipment at your gym, you can perform 3-4 circuits of 5-6 gym exercises using dumbbells or a barbell.

– Once you’ve successfully worked in finishers 2-3 times per week, you can then add hill sprints (or flat-ground sprints) to your training regimen.

– Pace yourself when adding finishers and/or sprints- they are taxing.

– Remember that no matter how much extra work you add in you can really only lose two pounds of fat per week without losing muscle.

–  If you follow a proper diet, train hard, do some finishers and sprints, you’re doing all you can. Be patient, be disciplined, and the results will come.

For more information on how to work-in finishers and sprints to your workouts, don’t hesitate to drop me a line.