Posts Tagged ‘abs’

weight-scale1

“I’m gunna start working out because I want to lose X amount of pounds/kilos”. If only I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that. You might have said it yourself or have heard a friend say it. The reason I bring this up is because the general population believes that solely the scale can track progress. While losing weight will definitely bring you closer towards your target body, it won’t be of much use once you actually hit your target weight. I very rarely, if ever, look at the numbers on my scale. If I were to hop on a scale now I’d probably be sitting around 180-185 lbs. You may be wondering how I measure my progress if I don’t watch my weight. What I’m going to tell you might surprise you. Ready? Drum roll…..the secret to getting your perfect body is the mirror. Crazy right! It can’t get much simpler! Let me explain how I’ve come to this conclusion.

When I started working out I was skinny-fat and I weighed around 135 pounds. I needed to lose fat on my body but I was actually really light.  Typically when somebody has a higher amount of body fat they’ll immediately think losing weight will give them the body they want. I’m here to tell you that’s not necessarily the answer. I’ve seen people that look like they’re 180 pounds of pure muscle, when in reality they weigh 160 pounds. After my phase with p90x, I weighed around 175 and had some good muscle definition but I wanted bigger more defined muscles. 3 months later, I looked like I gained 10 pounds of muscle and weighed myself and was 2 pounds heavier at 177 pounds. How is it possible that I looked a lot heavier when I actually only gained 2 pounds? Would I have been as successful if I only used scale to track my progress?! No way!! DO NOT TRACK PROGRESS SOLELY WITH THE SCALE, TRACK PROGRESS BASED ON HOW YOU LOOK IN THE MIRROR VS. WHAT YOU WANT TO LOOK LIKE. That’s right, all caps, if you know what’s good for you, caps usually mean something important, so take it in again. MIRROR > Scale. 

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let me tell you how to track progress by using the mirror. The thing you’ll be focusing on changing is your body composition. Body composition is basically the amount of fat vs. the amount of muscle on your body. If you think you need to lose weight then you probably have a higher amount of body fat and want to convert that into muscle. I’ve found that my weight generally fluctuates 5 pounds,  give or take, from my starting weight. I like to eat just above my maintenance calories (to find yours click here)  with a macronutrient split of about 40% Protein 40% Carbs 20% Fats. This is generally my starting point when I start a program and I adjust the ratio based on how I look in the mirror. If a couple weeks down the road, I don’t see the definition I want, then I’ll replace a serving of complex carbs with a serving of fibrous carbs. I’ll eat this way for a week and then make any necessary adjustments again. I’ve found this method of measuring progress to be the best for me because instead of worrying about my weight, I can focus on how my body looks, which is, in essence, the main goal. We’re trying to shape and build a body that we want. You have to be able to visualize what you want your body to look like to get there. I’m sure you’ve seen photos of people with amazing bodies that you aspire to build. Use that as motivation. Recognize that the mirror will give you a better measure of your progress towards that dream body than the scale. You can see abs and muscles in the mirror but you can’t see those on the scale. How are you going to get closer to achieving that dream body if you’re only focused on the numbers on the scale?! You won’t, it’s as simple as that!

You can find everything you need to build your dream body on this blog. Use the nutrition articles to find out your maintenance calories and to create a meal plan, try my workout routines and continuously check progress in the mirror and adjust your nutrition accordingly. Results will follow and you may just be surprised of what you’re capable of looking like!!

Good luck and train hard friends!

As summer has recently left, we can only expect cooler temperatures, shorter day and miserable weather. This is when the general population decides that its time to completely loosen up on their diet and training and enter “bulking” mode. Time over time I hear people saying, “Ah summers gone, I won’t be shirtless so I’ll just stop doing cardio, eat more and start bulking”. Okay, that’s cool, but why?! Unless you’re competing there is no in season or offseason and definitely no need for bulking and cutting phases. Just because summer is over doesn’t mean that you can totally ease off of healthy eating and hard training. This should be the time that you take advantage off, kinda like the construction period before the grand revealing. The idea that bulking (which includes eating more calories, putting on muscle and some noticeable fat gains, training heavy with lots of rest, reduction of/or no cardio) is the only way to put on muscle is ridiculous. Do you know what comes as a result of bulking? Excess fat gains. Yeah, not so good. We want to build muscle and burn fat simultaneously. Traditional broscience says it’s not possible but my experience tells me differently. I’ve used this method to get ripped, adding muscle to my frame while successfully losing fat and managed to carve out a pretty impressive physique. I was getting complimented all the time and it felt good. I want you to feel good. I don’t want you to waste your time. I want you to work smart and efficiently. That’s why I’m here. Because I’ve tried and tested this on myself and it worked. Try and test on yourself and see how your body responds, you might be surprised with the results you can achieve!

This method of nutrition is known most commonly as carb-cycling. A style of nutrition that allows the body to build muscle and lose fat simultaneously by zig-zagging your calories and macronutrient intake. This method increases the metabolism to encourage fat burning while providing calorie deficits to melt the body fat. The idea behind the zig-zag method is that you cycle your week between high, medium and/or low carb days. By timing these days according to your workouts, you can achieve the jacked results you’re looking for.

A sample week might look like this:

Monday : High Carb

Tuesday: Medium Carb

Wednesday: Low Carb

Thursday: Medium Carb

Friday: Low Carb

Saturday: High Carb

Sunday: Low Carb

 

 High carb days: 

  • Aim for 1 gram of protein per lb of bodyweight.
  • Aim for about 1.5 -2 grams of carbs per lb of bodyweight.
  • Aim for about 0.5 grams of fats per lb of bodyweight.

I like to eat just at just above maintenance level on this day, which is around 3000-3100 calories. I like to mix my proteins between chicken, tuna, x-lean ground beef, turkey and eat low-glycemic carbs such as brown rice, oatmeal, and whole wheat bagels. I eat fruits directly after my workouts. The fats are usually trace fats from the proteins (e.g. eggs and steak) and the remainder I get from almond butter and healthy oils.  I get around 180 grams of protein, 380 grams of carbs, and 90 grams of fats which is around 3050 calories.

Medium carb days: 

  • Aim for 1-1.5  grams of protein per lb of bodyweight.
  • Aim for about 1 gram of carbs per lb of bodyweight.
  • Aim for about 0.5-0.7 grams of fats per lb of bodyweight.

I like to aim for around 2400-2500 calories on theses days. I aim for about 200 grams of proteins, around 180 grams of carbs, and around 100 grams of fats. I hike up protein and fat consumption and lower the carb intake. I switch out a meal or two of slow-carbs and add fibrous carbs such as veggies. This ratio lands me at around 2420 calories for the day.

Low carb days: 

  • Aim upwards of 1.6 -2 grams of protein per lb of bodyweight.
  • Aim for about 0.5-0.8 grams of carbs per lb of bodyweight.
  • Aim for about 0.7-0.8  gram of fat per lb of bodyweight.

I like to aim for around 2200-2300 calories. On these days you basically eat only veggies and greens along with your heightened proteins and fats. I aim for around 270 grams of proteins, 50 grams of carbs and 110 grams of fats, which lands me at roughly 2270 calories.

I prefer to use a 6 day split when I use carb cycling. If I were to use the sample schedule as a template my workouts would look like this.

Monday : High Carb {Leg Workout}

Tuesday: Medium Carb {Chest and Calves Workout}

Wednesday: Low Carb {Abs and HIIT workout}

Thursday: Medium Carb {Shoulders and Arms}

Friday: Low Carb {HIIT workout}

Saturday: High Carb {Back Workout}

Sunday: Low Carb {Rest}

I like to hit the muscles hard and efficiently. Use my sample workouts provided in the muscle specific training in conjunction with this type of carb cycling schedule and see how quickly you melt that body fat and built some nice muscle.

I like to make things as convenient as possible so bear with me. I eat around 5 meals a day so this is what a 3 day cycles of high, medium and low carbs would look like.

 

High Carb Day

  1. Eggs & Egg White Omelette + Oatmeals w/t fruits
  2. Chicken + Brown Rice + Veggies
  3. Beef  + Quinoa + Veggies
  4. Chicken +Ezekiel Bread+ Jam
  5. Post workout Protein and Fruit Smoothie

Medium Carb Day 

I do this very simple, on a medium carb day I basically take out the carb portion of two meals and replace with an extra veggie serving. I also eat bigger protein portions (6-7 oz) to help shuttle protein into my body to feed the muscles and grow.

  1. Eggs & Egg White Omelette + Oatmeals w/t fruits
  2. Chicken + Brown Rice + Veggies
  3. Beef  +  2 servings Veggies + Almonds
  4. Chicken + 2 servings Veggies
  5. Post workout Protein and Fruit Smoothie

As you can see, the only changes I’ve made were to meals 3 and 4. I replaced the complex carb with an extra serving of veggies and added a serving of fats.

Low Carb Day 

The easiest day to plan but the hardest to get through. I basically take out the carb portion of all meals except for the postworkout meal and replace them with extra veggie servings, and I also add some fat servings and really hike up my protein and throw in an extra protein shake (protein and water) to add some much needed protein.

  1. Eggs & Egg White Omelette + Oatmeal w/t fruits
  2. Chicken + Brown Rice + Veggies
  3. Beef  +  2 servings Veggies +Chia Seeds
  4. Chicken+ Protein Shake+ 2 servings Veggies +  Nuts
  5. Post workout Protein and Fruit Smoothie

As you can see, the only changes I’ve made were to meals 3 and 4. I’ve replaced the complex carb with an extra serving of veggies and added a serving of fats.

So there it is, try it out and see if carb cycling is for you! This is not recommended for sports athletes whose bodies need carbs to perform at higher levels! If you’re extremely active, the reduction in carbs may impair your athletic performance so it’s not recommended.

Try out carb cycling and see if it’s for you! Remember to stick to the principles outlined in this article and to use the sample workouts to help you achieve that jacked body you’ve been working so hard for. Good luck and please leave any questions or comments!

on7hcWhat if I told you that you had no more excuses to not work out. No more excuses to not go to the gym. No more excuses to feel tired all the time. This post is for anyone that’s in high school, college or university, that either wants to make a change, switch things up or completely transform themselves.  It’s not impossible. It’s actually very achievable if you do the right things. The main thing here is called time management. You’ve planned your days around your school schedule, so why not spare an hour or so for working out. These days almost every school or university in North America has a school gym. Take advantage of it. They are either covered in your tuition or are heavily discounted to accommodate the student budget. Take Ryerson University for example. Full-time students pay for memberships to the universities two gyms in their tuitions! Before that it was around 40$ to buy a membership for a whole semester, which is ran from September-January. That’s pennies, even on a student budget. I recommend you go to your on-campus gym and find out if you get access through your tuition, which is a definite plus. In the case of Ryerson, students have either the Ryerson Athletic Centre (RAC) or the newly built,  Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC). If you want to make the change for the better I strongly urge you to take control of your life, eat well and train consistently. Doing this will change your life, I guarantee you. The benefits of physical fitness and the habits learned from taking care of yourself transfer into your every day life. You will not only feel and look better, you will be happier, you will be able to think more clearly, you will have a more positive outlook on life and you will be able to cope with stress a lot better. All of these pros and what are the cons? You have to find a whole hour to workout. An hour of your day is only 4% of the total day. What do you do for the other 23? If you’re like the general population, you’ll probably spend a lot of time on the internet, scrolling through 9gag, reddit, facebook, and youtube. And you’ll probably spend more than an hour doing that everyday .Why not make a commitment to being healthier? Why not use that time to change your life? What’s stopping you? One of my pet peeves is hearing excuses about the gym. Oh I can’t go I don’t have the time! It’s too expensive! I’m too busy. I’ll start tomorrow! No, you won’t! You said tomorrow, yesterday and here you are today sitting on your ass making another excuse to further delay any change. You’ve got an opportunity here, take it, you absolutely WILL NOT regret it. The first step is to realize a change is necessary, then its your job to make a plan and go after it. Everything is possible and excuses are for losers. You, you’re not a loser though, you’re a champion, and you will do this. No time? Make some! Too expensive? You’ve already paid, if not check with your school gym and get discounted student pricing. Take advantage of it. You’re going to have to grow up anyway, there’s no denying it. Why not learn some discipline and prove to yourself that you’re independent. Reaching your goals will help you make new ones and reach them. You’ll have everything you need on this blog; nutrition, meal plans, goal-specific workouts, wellness tips and motivation. I’ll give you literally everything you need to know and you’ve just gotta execute. This is on you. I can’t make the change for you, but I can help you along the road. Follow my blog and like my facebook page, read and get educated. Knowledge is power, remember that. Let’s get it together, eat jacked, train jacked and get jacked, whatever your jacked may be!

Abs….we all want them. They’re usually the first muscle noticed and their high sex appeal doesn’t hurt either. Let me teach you a bit about yours, so all you jackedudes can chisel those bad boys out and all you jacketettes can sport a tight, flat stomach!

What we know as the abs are actually a group of four muscles. These are the:

  1. Rectus Abdominus
  2. External Obliques
  3. Internal Obliques
  4. Transversus abdominis

The rectus abdominus is the flat muscle at the front of your stomach that, when body fat is low enough, provides that “6 pack” appearance. It’s main functions include the flexion of the lumbar spine and compressing the abdominal contents. The first of the three anterolateral muscles (muscles that wrap around the sides of your body), the external obliques, are located at the side and the front of the abdomens. Their main functions consist of unilateral and bilateral actions. The unilateral, or one sided actions, include contralateral rotation and ipsilateral side flexion. Big words right? Have no fear, let me explain. A contralateral rotation just means that the muscles on the right move the trunk to the left. An ipsilateral side flexion is simply a same sided flexion, the muscles on the right flex the right side of the abdomen. Moving on we have the internal obliques, which lie underneath the external obliques and run in their [external obliques] opposite direction. The internal obliques share the same functions as the external obliques, which we can see if we scroll back up. The final layer of muscle, the transversus abdominus, is the deepest muscle in the abdominals and is tasked with stabilizing the back and maintaining abdominal pressure. An example of when we use this muscle is when we go to poop and pee. When you’re pooping and going for the kill, those final pushes are recruiting the transverse abdominus. Pooping your way to abs, wouldn’t that be something! Unfortunately, its not that easy. Let me give you some of my best tips and movements to build your own set.

Before I get into the movements and tips, I want you to chisel this into your brains! Having visible abs is only possible when your nutrition is in check. Notice how I said nutrition, not diet. That’s because your changing your lifestyle here, this isn’t some diet fad that you complete over a month and then go back to junk food for breakfast. It doesn’t work that way. Proper nutrition leads to lower body fat which leads to visible abs. That’s on you. This is your life. Your transformation. Your body. Imagine  your favourite car. Now imagine your favourite car as your body… are you gunna feed yourself shitty 87 grade fuel or super 91. Which one is going to provide you with the better long term performance? The 87 or 91? I hope you get my point.. nutrition is like 80% of the battle for that six pack or tight core you’re looking for. Dial it and results will come. Now how to make those abs pop and those tummies tight!

To those of you who might be doing thousands of sit ups or crunches a day naively believing your going to get a six pack, I advise you to read this and see if it changes your mind. I, for one, am unorthodox when it comes to training my abs. I feel this way because I don’t often directly train my abs. I’ll do some targeted ab work here and there but no religious schedule or workouts. That’s me! I do, however, do a lot of indirect ab work that recruits the abdominals to stabilize my body and keep my  lower back from snapping. Sounds a bit harsh, but I’ve taken a new look on training my core. I like to put the body outside of its comfort zone. This is how I see it. 3 sets of 15 crunches vs 3 sets of squats with a heavy barbell on your upper back, and your abs are stabilizing your body; preventing you from snapping. It’s a bit vulgar but its how I train. Stabilization. Heavy weight isn’t the only solution, take away balance and your in a new world. I do a lot of work with stability balls and bosu balls to build my core. Calisthenics is also a great discipline I use to build my core. When I do train my abs directly, there are a few favourites I have that always manage to kick my ass.

My favourite ab exercises are:

  • Toe-to-Bar Leg Raise
  • Roman Chair Oblique Leg Raise
  • Decline Crunches
  • Swiss Ball Crunch
  • Swiss Ball Bicycles
  • Jackknife
  • Cable Crunches
  • Cable Oblique Crunches (Chops)
  • Windshield Wipers (*advanced )
  • Back and Front Levers (*advanced movements)
  • Hanging Leg Raises

Doing these exercises will provide you with little visible progress unless your body fat is low enough. You’ll need to have your nutrition in check and be consistently active!! You can do it, no excuses, if you want it, you’ll get there. Use your new knowledge of your abs along with these exercises and clean nutrition, and you’ll the that jacked you in the mirror that you’ve always dreamed of!!

Welcome to the Muscle Anatomy Series; a six part series with focusing on a the anatomy of a specific muscle group in the body. This series will give you a better understanding of each of your muscles and trust me when I say this, it will help you out so much when it comes to training. How so? Knowing the different parts of a muscle allows you to choose specific exercises that target it, which will help you build complete muscle-specific workouts. Sounds pretty sweet right?! It is, now go grab your reading glasses and sip some protein, here we go!

In weight training, the body is broken down and separated into a series of muscle groups. These muscle groups represent all the muscles that are on the body, they are:

  1. Chest
  2. Back
  3. Shoulders
  4. Arms
  5. Abs
  6. Legs

Many beginners and intermediates generally stick with this series of muscle groups, however advanced weight trainers, bodybuilders and competitors go even further and break down some muscle groups into their specific muscles.

The list below is the typical breakdown of muscle groups for a competitor or seasoned lifter:

  1. Chest
  2. Back
  3. Traps
  4. Shoulders
  5. Abs
  6. Biceps
  7. Triceps
  8. Quadriceps (known as Quads for short)
  9. Hamstrings (known as Hams for short)
  10. Calves

As you can see, seasoned lifters and competitors like to break down the body into such detail because in competition, each muscle is judged both for its individual condition and how it compliments the body as a whole. If the biceps are ripped and peaked, but the triceps are lacking, chances are points will be lost, so it’s crucial to have such attention to detail, however for the majority of readers who are just looking to get in shape, don a nice six pack or flat stomach and have a kick ass body, we’ll use the original six as our reference points.

So without further a due, click here to find out about the chest!