Updated: May 24
Given the fact that my facility had to shut down all operations as of yesterday, I thought it would be a great time to get started on some new content for our members and website. When writing a blog, I organize all of the information into what I hope will be a well laid out format that allows the information to be digested on one particular topic, and then applied by the reader.
For my random thoughts installments, you can expect similar organization, with the exception of scattered topics, ideas or information that I think will add value to peoples lives in some way.
#1 Book Recommendation: Extreme Ownership- Jocko Willink & Leif Babin
If you have not yet read this book, I highly encourage you to do so. Released in 2015 by 2 former Navy SEALS, it very quickly became a top 5 book for me, due to its focus on the core values of:
Taking self ownership for responsibilities and actions
Why the leader is in charge of creating the opportunity for others to succeed
The importance of simplicity and planning and why this is essential for the success of any strategy that a business implements
Why a leader must provide the back bone of a team and to ensure its mission is clear, concise and clearly delivered to all team members
Why you have to trust your team to deliver
This is not just a business book and would serve as an enjoyable read for literally anyone who has a passion to lead or manage others in any way. I highly recommend and the audio book on Audible is read by the authors, which I usually enjoy.
#2 Simplicity Leads To Success
With essentially all fitness facilities shut down for the Covid-19 pandemic, I thought a few keys points regarding fitness. health and performance would be helpful to keep top of mind:
Strength, once attained, can be very easy to maintain with just a few sets of bodyweight exercises taken to muscle failure 1-2 times/week
Muscle mass can be significantly maintained for weeks if appropriate protein intake is maintained. A minimum recommendation in this regard is to consume at least 1.6g/kg/day of bodyweight. This recommendation is especially important for those who have invested significant time into gaining as much muscle tissue as possible up to this point. I would go even further and recommend a minimum of 2.2-2.5g/kg to those individuals. Obviously these are blanket recommendations and individual needs will vary, but in regards to safe recommendations, these will set you up for more success if you have adequate protein coming on board to fuel muscle protein synthesis (MPS).
Follow my 4 x 4 x 4 protocol. Every 4 hours, 4 times/day, have 4 servings of protein. This will ensure constant amino acid release into your blood stream, again setting you up for success regarding MPS and retaining muscle mass during periods when you cannot strength training or exercise to the same degree that you may have been.
If you are overall less active, eat less total calories from carbohydrates and fats. You simply don’t need to eat as much if you are less active. Be aware of this and account for it as best you can. A simple 300-500 calorie daily reduction would be a great start, and if you track your bodyweight in the mornings it will give you even more information as to what to adjust. Data allow you to monitor and thats almost always a good thing.
#3 Achieving Results While Training At Home- What Matters Most
At home exercise, specifically with no equipment can still pack a big punch. Here are the things I feel are most important for anyone to get a robust stimulus from at home training.
Whatever exercises you choose to perform, take those exercises to muscular failure.
Although ALL MOVEMENT is good movement for the most part and I am happy to see any form of exercise being done, my job as a coach and exercise professional is to help optimize success. For example, if you are going to do an at home circuit of squats, lunges and push ups, do not set a pre-determined rep # to each set and stop each exercise when you reach this designated number. Bodyweight training is different than loaded resistance training, where we instead select appropriate set/rep goals, since YOU CAN DECIDE ON THE LOAD AND CHANGE IT AS REQUIRED.
With bodyweight exercise or limited equipment, we have to actually understand how muscle grows and what will actually create a stimulus strong enough to drive adaptation…and this can be done!
My recommendations are to:
1. Perform 2-4 sets of each exercise selected and take those sets to complete muscle failure in order to fully stimulate all motor units within a given muscle
The weight is not the issue, it is proximity to muscle failure where a lot of the magic happens from a muscle building or muscle retaining standpoint, so by ensuring you go to failure, you achieve a bigger stress to drive adaptation- this is important for those who really care about your training and fitness goals
2. Perform 8-12 total sets in each workout, remembering that these sets are taken to muscle failure, so if this seems like a small amount, you’ll be surprised
3. Set up mini circuits that blend upper body, lower body and trunk/core exercises. This will allow you to keep moving and get a bit of an aerobic/anaerobic component completed as well. Most people like that feeling, hence my suggestion to do it. It is not required or superior for muscle growth or muscle mass retention purposes. Understand the difference.
4. Use exercises that target a lot of muscle: lunges variation, squat variations, push ups, pull ups, planks, side planks and other trunk isometrics.
I want to say again…my most important piece of advice for at home successful workouts with limited equipment, is to take exercise set to safe muscle failure.
Here is a sample at home workout that I sent off to our facility members the morning after closing the facility for Covid-19. The best way to get started, is to actually start!
TARGET/GOAL: Full Body
EQUIPMENT NEEDS: Bodyweight only
STRUCTURE/PROTOCOL: Take all sets to muscle failure, just prior to technical failure (don’t use poor mechanics)
A1. Prisoner pulse squat. 3 x Max reps (actively contract glutes and quads on all reps)
A2. Double pause push ups. 3 x Max reps (set yourself up to get a minimum of 10+ reps/set)
B1. Rear foot elevated split squat. 3 x Max reps/leg
B2. Low touch plank 3 x Max reps alternating left-right shoulder taps
*Complete the workout above by taking the least amount of rest between exercises as possible, using good bracing skills and actively contracting the involved muscles. If that was easy, you did it wrong!