Should You Have Cheat Meals?

Cheat meals are touted by many fitness experts as a necessary component to one’s dieting success. And I must say, I completely agree with them. If you are on a diet for weight loss, whether it be a basic calorie restriction, or you are on a low carb kick you will see results over time on either one. But putting in a scheduled cheat meal can not only help keep you sane, it can have other benefits as well.

Benefits

Cheat meals can keep your metabolism kickstarted. When you eat a low carb or a low calorie diet for a period of time, your bodies natural T3 production will start to decline. T3 is a thyroid hormone that is responsible for keeping a healthy metabolism. The cheat meal is a surplus of calories coming in, and will cause your body to produce a good amount of T3 to keep your production where it needs to be. By adding in the cheat meal, you will keep your metabolism at a steady rate to help continue your weight loss progress. So in the long run, you will be more efficient at burning more calories. Additionally, the cheat meal being put in your diet from time to time can help you break up the occasionally monotony you get from a restricted diet. It is no lie that your diet must be on point to see sustained results, but every once in a while its nice to have something different, without having to worry about it fitting in your meal plan.

Can You Handle It?

Now that I have given you the two positive aspects of cheat meals let me leave you with this. Cheat meals can be very useful and successful as long as they are not a gateway to binge eating, and completely falling off your plan. You need to be sure you have the discipline and control to be able to throw in cheat meals properly. I have literally had clients throw in cheat meals in their diet, and within a week completely fall off the tracks on their plan because instead of having one cheat meal weekly, they had three. Then it is no wonder that there results stalled. So be cautious of this as you move forward.

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Are Limiting Beliefs Stopping You From Achieving Your Fitness Goals?

Around this time of year during the holiday season everyone begins the voyage of getting back on track with their fitness goals. Whether it be to lose weight, get stronger, or hell, to look good naked, whatever goal is in mind seems to begin to resurface. We tell ourselves, “this time it is going to be different, this time I am going to do “X” and I am going to lose “X” number of pounds”. But within two weeks you are looking in the mirror telling your own self, who are you kidding, you weren’t going to do shit. Because the truth is, you never believed in yourself in the first place. You can have all the greatest goals in the world, but if you do not truly believe in yourself to make it happen, then the odds of you even coming close to doing so is slim to none. We call this limiting beliefs. It is when all the good intentions are there, but deep down in your gut, you know you are not going to have the discipline to make it happen. Some of you may be thinking, that sounds stupid, why would anyone do this?

Well, in most cases when referring to the fitness industry, when results aren’t happening as quickly as you would have hoped, you start to have some self doubt. Then you begin this process of comparing yourself to others, saying things like, well so and so goes to the gym five days a week and is still overweight too so maybe this is just who I am as well. Or he has great genetics, so he is going to look good regardless. Or, my personal favorite, he’s on steroids so I can never be even close to what he is. And, from here we slowly, or sometimes quickly settle right back into our comfort zone, and another year goes by, and we look and feel the same. This is a sad vicious cycle for most people today and I am here to tell you a few things…

One, it takes hard fucking work to reach your goals, no matter what, and it will always be harder than you anticipated I promise you that. Two, limiting beliefs are bullshit. You can literally do anything you want, you must make the decision to do something and have the discipline, and daily rituals to back it up. Unfortunately the vast majority of people will desire change but continue on the same path their entire lives. Psychologists have actually stated that the reason people will continue on this path of no change is because the pain is not enough to elicit a change in one’s habits, which I totally agree with. For example, as a kid I was fat. At ten years old I was 140lb, which is about 1.5 times the weight of the average kid in fourth grade. I was teased and made fun of by my own friends and even family. So my pain began at a young age. And it was here that something clicked in me that made me want to be different. I wanted to prove to everyone, including myself that I was better, and once I started becoming more active, getting involved in sports, and then eventually weight lifting, I realized I had great potential, and that I could achieve anything I wanted as long as I put in the time and effort. Now, if I would’ve told myself a different story back then, like what’s the point, or there is no way you are going to be in shape, not only would I have not achieved my short term goals, but my entire life could actually have played out different.

Do any of these scenarios above sound like anyone you know? Does it remind you of yourself? If so, I must tell you my friend you need to stop limiting yourself and start believing. Nothing worth while has ever come easy, ask anyone that has ever done a fitness competition, or even just ask the average person who put in the effort to lose 100 pounds. It takes time, hard work, and discipline to make it happen. Along your journey if you begin to feel discouraged with your progress, just remind yourself that it takes time to get where you desire. So be patient and put in the fucking work!

 

Why you need to deadlift

Do you even deadlift?

For those of you that are new to working out you may not even be familiar with this exercise, but the vast majority of folks know at least vaguely what a deadlift is. It is that move where you pick the bar up off the ground and set it back down. Simple enough right? Not so much. Form and technique are extremely important with this move so it may take some time to get your form down, but once you do, this exercise is the best hands down for a total body workout.

Every Major Muscle Group

The deadlift literally hits every major muscle group. From your legs, glutes, hips, entire back, and core. This is why it is also the most taxing on your body. One time a week is more than enough for using this move in your routine if you are an average gym goer. Some top powerlifters will deadlift 2-3 times per week, but they are only using maybe 70% of what they could really do and focusing more on technique only, while one of those workouts are actually at a training weight that is more suitable to building strength or building muscle.

Form Check

The proper form on a deadlift varies depending on which coach or guru you talk to, so I will give a basic definition of what your form should look like and give an image below that shows good technique.

For starters…Do not lift in shoes with a heel what so ever. This will naturally pitch you forward when you get in the ready position to pull. Either lift in bare feet or in something like a chuck taylor or reebok crossfit shoe.

Feet

From here step up to the barbell. Your feet should be far enough under the barbell to where it looks like the barbell would cut your foot in half if it were to keep going toward the floor. This is considered the best position to be in so you get the best and most balanced push from the floor. Your feet should be about a foot apart, maybe slightly wider if you are a bigger guy, or someone with large hips. Once your feet width is figured out, your toes should be pointed slightly outward to help incorporate more glute and hamstring muscles into the workout.

Hands

Now that your feet are in the correct position reach down and grab the barbell with both hands. Make sure your hands are at about a shoulders width and are not too wide. This will change your starting position and make the exercise even more difficult than it should be. For your grip I would start out with a hand over hand grip. Where both hands are over the bar. This will be shown in the image below.

Knees and Chest

Now that your feet and hands are in the right position bend your knees and raise you chest a bit. When you do this you should feel tight. This means you are just about ready to pull. Last thing to mention is your head position. When you lift your chest DO NOT raise your head up high as well. This will put you in a bad position to start your deadlift. Your head should be in a neutral position, meaning when you get into position your eyes should be looking at the ground about 12-15 feet in front of you, not looking at the floor, or looking up, just ahead of you 12-15 feet.

Pull! Wait…Push!

Now that you are in the right position you are ready to pull. But here is the number one thing to remember. A deadlift really isn’t a pull as much as it is a push with your feet. Yes you are pulling the weight off the floor, but pretending to push your feet through the floor will give you the best possible strength out of the starting position. The deadlift requires that hard push off the floor and then the back takes over on the mid range to lockout position. Check out the video tutorial below. This will walk you through what we just discussed above to give you a good visual of how to perform the movement. If you haven’t already I highly recommend adding the deadlift into your weekly routine. Not only will you get stronger but your physique will tighten up as well. Give them a shot!

 

Weight Training For Beginners

Where to Start

For someone just really breaking into weight training for the first time it can be overwhelming to say the least. You walk into a gym full of all walks of life, staring at you like you are the new kid in school. And the best part is, after about 10 minutes they realize you have no idea what you are doing. Sounds inviting right? Wrong, in fact these last few sentences are the reason most people never step foot in the gym and take control of their health. So this being said, having a solid plan put together before you blindly walk into the gym will help you get way ahead of the game compared to most.

Try This

Taking into consideration that you haven’t really ever exercised with weights I think the easiest way to get started would be to break down your workouts into a 2 day split. One day upper body, followed by a day of lower body. This way it makes the exercises you do easy to categorize. This 2 day split can be performed twice in a week. Monday and Thursday can be upper body, and Tuesday and Friday can be lower body. Then take Saturday and Sunday off for recovery. Also by flip flopping the days between upper and lower it allows you to recovery well between sessions. This can be done week to week for a long time before you would really need to switch anything up.

The Details

From here you need to put together a program for each day. For a beginner I would recommend doing moves that involve MORE than one muscle group. These types of moves are called compound movements such as the bench press, military press, or bent over rows. These moves will give you the best overall bang for your buck results wise. In fact, a great program for beginners that involves compound movements is the 5,3,1 program. For a great explanation and breakdown of the program check out the creator, Jim Wendler’s website. There is a lot of content out there written on this so I would highly recommend it. For a detailed exercise routine I myself can always lend a hand so if you would like any help with putting together your own customized routine feel free to contact us and I will help you as well. A custom routine would really focus more on the intricacies of your own personal goals. For example, say you were a former athlete and wanted to keep your legs strong and in good shape, well you would be doing a completely different routine from someone training to get a 400+lb bench press. So remember different goals will require a different focus. Nutrition Fx weight training

How To Get The Best Night’s Sleep

In today’s modern world sleep has been put on the back burner in many people’s lives. The average person today is burning the candle at both ends, during the week and then attempting to play catch up on there weekends. New research has actually been showing that the “playing catch up” game doesn’t work. In fact practicing this messes with your natural circadian rhythm and over time can increase your risk of heart disease. So your best bet is to get as much quality sleep as you can consistently each night. Here are a few surefire ways to help you get that quality sleep you are looking for.

  1. Try not to eat anything within 2 hours of bedtime. Not eating before bedtime will help the body release the correct hormones, like GH(growth hormone), which will help promote more restful, quality sleep.
  2. Take a warm bath followed by stretching before bed. Keeping the muscles nice and relaxed before bed will help put you into a sleep state faster.
  3. Be sure to ditch the blue lights! This includes tv, phones, and computers. Blue light from these products can be very disruptive to your sleep.
  4. Keep it cool in your room. Heat can be a tough environment to get the body into a sleep state, so be sure to have the ac on if you plan on getting quality rest.

Nutrition Fx quality sleep

Don’t Skip Leg Day! Here’s Why

Don’t skip leg day

How many times have you heard the phrase, “don’t skip leg day” in one form or another? Probably 1000 times by now. Besides having twigs for legs, not training your legs adequately can actually hinder your results in the long term, not just for building muscle, but losing body fat as well. In fact, one of my favorite trainers out there today Mark Rippetoe has been noted for saying, “if you do not squat, you are not working out”.  And to be honest I have to agree with him to a point. Squatting is easily one of the best overall exercises for your body because it involves so many different muscle groups besides your legs. Your entire body is literally involved in the movement top to bottom.

Great but I can’t

On the flip side to this I already know I am going to have a bunch of people out there saying squats are great, but due to certain circumstances they can not perform the move. That is okay because there are plenty of different leg exercises you can do that will work in place of a barbell squat. Three simple moves that come to mind are lunges, split squats, or step ups. Check out the photos below for a visual. The biggest take home message I want everyone to understand here is just because you have certain issues with mobility or maybe a past injury doesn’t mean you have to skip out on an area all together. We call this throwing out the baby with the bath water. Just do the best you can to still work through the issue. You will benefit much more from this than doing nothing at all. Skipping out all together will hinder progress and limit your true potential in the long run.

Nutrition Fx Smith Machine Squats

Split Squat

Nutrition Fx Lunges

Dumbell Lunge

 

Nutrition Fx Dumbell Step Ups

Dumbell Step Up

 

Best Program For Size and Strength

Everyday

Probably at least twenty times a week I get asked my opinion about what is the best program I can get on to put on muscle. And surprisingly this is not just coming from young men wanting to get bigger but all walks of life. The importance of holding onto muscle tissue as we age has become more well known in the masses, especially to seniors in their golden years. As we age we tend to begin to lose muscle tissue, which is not good because this can be beneficial to have in our day to day lives. But, more importantly, staying physically active, especially with weights can help keep your immune system boosted, bones stronger than average, and keep you chasing around those pesky grand children. So old and young here is my opinion on the best program for putting on some quality muscle.

How do we define best?

Determining what the “best program” is for size and strength to me would be one that does not require a user to be in the gym every single day to get results, so lets lay that foundation out from the get go. I have been a firm believer my whole life of lifting weights 3-4 times a week for best results. Exercising 3-4 days a week and really focusing on movements that will give us the best bang for our buck because we are all busy people, and do not have all the time in the world to run around doing 15 different movements in a given time frame. That being said, for me anyway, whether it be Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, it’s all relative. Pick three days spread out through the week, train hard and effective, and that pretty much sums it up. The next issue at hand is what to do on these three days?

The Movements

Here is a list of exercises that could be considered some of the most effective for putting on quality muscle and getting stronger in no particular order…

Squat, Deadlift, Standing Military Press, Bench Press, Bent Over Rows, Straight Leg Deadlift, Barbell Shrugs, Pull-ups, Dips.

Truly on this list you could develop an entire program with just these exercises and be extremely successful at putting on lean muscle and losing body fat in the process. For more information on these movements stay tuned into our other media outlets such as instagram and facebook for more information on form and technique.

How much weight? How many reps? What days do I do certain movements?

All these questions in the headline should be coming next out of anyone’s mouth. Well, that’s great that I should be doing these moves, but what do I do with them? Here is a simple way to set up your training. Push day, Pull day, Leg day. Push day being a bench press and standing military press day. Pull day being a Deadlift and Bent over row day. Lastly leg day being a Squat day. Without going into a crazy amount of detail on one post here if you are interested in getting a customized training routine built for your goals, please just email me at derek@nfxfit.com and we can work together on this one-on-one. For the sake of time I can tell you your rep count on main movements such as deadlifts, benches, and squats should be in the 3-6 rep range to put on quality muscle and get stronger. The weight you should be using on these movements is completely dependent on your current strength level. This can be determined by doing max effort lifts on these moves to help you gauge what weight you can use to train with on a weekly basis.

What about assistance work?

When you hear someone talk about assistance work what they are referring to are other exercises besides your main lifts for that day that you can perform. For example, on a push day you will be using a lot of chest, shoulder, and tricep muscles. So one might throw in a tricep exercise at the end of their training session to help get stronger triceps. The theory is if I get stronger triceps, I get a stronger bench press and stronger in general. But, all too often I see clients get too carried away with doing extra assistance exercises and end up taking away from there end results. So make sure you are keeping your eye on the ball so to speak with your training. Always be focusing in on those core movements to help you. If you add assistance exercises that’s great, but do not make them the bulk of your training.

Getting Started

To get started with a new program you do not have to be a total guru. Use some common sense to gauge what you can do, and what ever you do do not over reach your boundaries. If you haven’t squatted in three months, do not expect your squat max to still be where it was. Most likely you have lost a good amount of strength here, so start slow. Patience and consistency are your two best friends when it comes to getting results in the gym. Just remember to keep moving forward and do not give up. It takes time for anything that is worth while so hang in there.

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Do You Need To Change Gyms?

Should I Change Gyms?

This is a question I think doesn’t get asked often enough and leads people to complacency and “average” thinking very quickly when it comes to getting the results they want at the gym. Here are a few simple things to ponder on to make you either realize you are where you need to be, or it’s time to move on.

Biggest Fish in a Tiny Pond

Are you the biggest, strongest, fittest, most consistent gym goer at your local 24 hour spot? If so….It’s time to switch gyms. Why you ask? You need to surround yourself with people of your caliper or hopefully you can surround yourself with people that are even better than yourself to help keep your competitive fire alive. If you are an advanced lifter training with beginners, novices, and intermediates at the local YMCA, you may look like the hulk there, but the truth is you may be robbing from your own potential.

What Does Your Gym Really Offer?

Where I am going with this one is does your gym offer personal training, classes, or anything that could be of benefit to your overall goals, or are they offering you free candy, pizza, and soft drinks as an incentive because you decided to show up to the gym today? Clearly the pizza and candy is a problem if you have any amount of drive to make yourself better. And if you actually think that a gym giving away this kind of crap is okay, then please stop reading my blog because you clearly do not get it, and you never will….Seriously thou. So make sure that your gyms attitude and motivation is looking out for your best interest, otherwise make a run for it.

How Is The Atmosphere?

When you are at your gym working out, are you noticing a lot of like minded people working toward something? In other words, no matter their fitness level do you notice good effort being put in or is it more of a social club? You can have all the motivation in the world heading into a gym, but there is something about going in the gym and seeing a whole crowd of people that could just as soon be at a coffee shop bullshitting about nothing. It can take your motivation level from a 10 to a 4 pretty quick. Gives you the impression that as long as we show up and eventually get through our lifting routine we should see some results. Now, if you have been a gym avid gym goer for some time you know this is a fairy tale, but if your newer to the gym scene, this type of environment can be extremely impressionable on you. So my advice here is, find a gym where you notice people of all ages really putting in some time and work. These are people you can most likely learn something from. The only thing you will learn from the social club is who won the game last night.

In closing, I urge clients to give this sort of stuff a lot of thought because I would say 90% of getting in shape is mental. It’s getting in the right frame of mind, day in and day out consistently that is going to get you the absolute best results. And you do not have the time to waste wanting to deal with issues that can already be avoided such as these above.

nutrition fx gym

 

 

STOP Ego Lifting!

A Mild Rant

Today’s topic is more of a rant than anything else. So I go to the gym today and I noticed this issue more than I care to say, which is absurd. Do not get me wrong there is nothing wrong with being motivated and ready to workout, but please perform your lifts properly. You will not get anywhere trying to throw on another 10-20 pounds of weight, when the original amount was already too much as it is!

Learn Proper Form 

So my message today is make sure you are doing your lifts correctly, with proper form. If you have a spotter they should not be getting a light workout helping you lift the weight off your back. I literally saw this from three different groups within 30 minutes. Do a weight you can handle on your own. Your spotter is there for a lift off, and support just in case you can’t get the weight, not to curl it off your chest when it caves you in!

If you need help learning proper technique for the love of god drop the ego and ask someone. If you know you are already doing something wrong the worst that could happen is you actually learn how to do it right! And if you are worried about asking and “looking stupid” just remember the dumbest question is the one not asked, especially in the gym….Because when you fuck up, everyone sees it. Ok I’m done now. Tell you what just don’t end up like the folks in this video below.