Thursday, December 28, 2006

Questions & Answers

I play in competitive flag football leagues and tournaments and I have been trying to find a workout to improve my playing ability as well as maintain my size and strength. I typically play football three days a week and I found it difficult to fit the typical workout plan into the rest of the week. I read the MVP Muscle Plan in Men’s Fitness and I found that it works perfect for me. I can get three great workouts in between my game days. I also work in law enforcement and I feel that this workout can also benefit me in my job. With this workout I can increase my speed and agility for football but also build strength for my job. I was wondering what substitutions I could make to the workout to change it up a little as not to get too burned out on one workout. Thank you for the great workout and I hope to read many more great articles.

If you play football three days per week, three days is probably the maximum amount of days that you can lift. And like the MVP workout, you should stick with one lower body day only and two upper body days. There are tons of exercises you can sub in for the ones listed in the magazine article. For your purposes, here is a typical layout of what each training day should look like:

Day One
1) Flat, Incline, Board, Floor or Rack Bench Press- 3-5 x 1-5
2) 1 Arm DB Row, Chest Supported DB Row, Bent Over Barbell Row, Reverse Grip Barbell Row, T-Bar Row, Chin Up, Pull Up, Neutral Grip Chin Up, Towel Chin Up- 3-5 x 1-5
3) Upper back/ rear delt- Bent Over Lateral Raise, Seated DB Clean, Face Pull- 3 x 6-10
4) Biceps- Barbell Curl, Hammer Curl, Incline Curl- 2-3 x 6-8
5) Triceps- Pushdowns, Parallel Bar Dips, Extensions- 2-3 x 8-10

Day Two
1) Box Jump, Depth Jump, Altitude Landing- 3-6 x 1-5
2) Olympic lift- Snatch, Clean, High Pull, etc.- 3-5 x 1-5
3) Squat or Deadlift Variation- Front Squat, Back Squat, Box Squat, Deadlift, Snatch Grip Deadlift, Deadlift off plates, Deadlift from rack- 3-5 x 1-5
4) Single Leg Exercise- Split Squat, Step Up, Reverse Lunge,etc.- 2-3 x 6-12
5) Posterior Chain Exercise- Back Extension, Glute Ham Raise, Reverse Hyper- 2-3 x 8-10

Day Three
1) Row Or Chin Up variation- 3-4 x 8-10
2) DB press or pushup variation- 3-4 x 8-19
3) External rotators- 2-3 x 12-20
4) Biceps- 2-3 x 8-12
5) Triceps- 2-3 x 8-12

Abs can be done at the end of each workout or just on the leg day or just on the two upper body days, whatever works better for you and your schedule.

I am currently on a very long-term (3 months so far, 3 more to go) of an Anabolic Diet cycle, i.e. just fat & proteinduring the week, and massive carb-ups during the weekend, so long weekends are indeed a feed-fest, time to replenish glycogen stores and any musclelost during the week. This has worked brilliantly, down from 13% BF to 8%so far, aim to hit 6%.What are your thoughts on the Anabolic Diet and Body-Opus- type diets ? Any articles you may have produced on this topic ?

Obviously this is working for you so I probably wouldn't be in a hurry to switch anything just yet. I have used similar plans with much success in the past. My problem with diets like this is that they are generally not healthy and do not provide an ample amount of fiber and vitamins and minerals. Anytime you restrict your intake of vegetables, something is wrong. Low carb diets are great for losing fat but there are problems associated with them as well. As long as you do a low carb and not no carb diet and are sure to eat plenty of vegetables and avoid tons of saturated fat you should be ok.

If you stay on a very low carb diet for a long time you will also find that your insulin sensitivity will start to decrease after a while. This is not a good thing.

These kinds of diets should be used sparingly, such as to really kick start a fat loss cyle like you are doing or, more appropriately, at the very end of a fat loss cyle, to help lose the last few stubborn pounds of bodyfat.

As far as gaining mass goes on these diets, my advice is to never try it. The name the "Anabolic Diet" is a bit misleading because there is really nothing anabolic at all about removing carbohydrates from your diet and you would be hard pressed to find a single sould who ever built a lot of size without carbs in his diet.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


On a normal visit to the mall it usually takes me at least 15 minutes or so for the stress levels to amplify and cortisol to flow like the Nile. But around the Christmas shopping season, I'm sweating bullets long before I ever walk in the door. Sitting in bumper to bumper traffic in the parking lot, while waiting for the next miserable mall patron to harrass and follow to their parking spot is enough to make anyone long for a sharp piece of glass to jam in their retina.

Finally inside I realize that I forgot how hot the mall gets, especially this time of year, and now I have to lug my enormous hip hop style puffy winter jacket with me for next hour. Of course I could run it back out to the car but once I enter the war zone I like to get down to business and get out as quickly as possible. A mad dash in the cold would only extend my time of suffering.

I pull my hat lower and keep my sunglasses on to avoid the possiblity of any awkward exchanges with someone I haven't seen in the last three to ten years. You know how those go...

"Hey...Mike? How's everything?"

"Good. And you?"

"Great, thanks."

"So what's new, what have you been up to?"


"Oh yeah?"

"What about you?" (please say "nothing", please say "nothing.")

"Not much, same old shit."

Whew, thank God. He needs to be stuck here talking to me like he needs a hole in his head and is telling me so in not so direct terms. I couldn't be happier.

"Ok well I gotta get running here, good seeing you, Merry Christmas."

"You too, Jay, take care."

With that close call out of the way I'm off to buy presents. Three highly succesful hours later, I'm ready to leave. On my way out I realize that I need a new pair of jeans and should grab some while I'm here.

I pile into the dressing room with my stash of bags and proceed to try on four different jeans. When you have squatted and deadlifted for a number of years, you know how difficult it can be to find jeans. Everyone who has ever trained in my gym always had this same problem. The legs and ass are too tight and the waist is too big. The other thing is you can't fit in any jeans from a lot of stores. Anything trendy like Diesel aint happening.

I peel off my cargo pants which are now glued to my leg with sweat; the byproduct of three stress filled hours of shopping, and try on the first pair of jeans. They come to a complete halt at mid quad. I start to sweat more.

Next pair comes to my hips but is never going to make it over my ass unless I get a size 46 waist. I feel the sweat drip off my eyelids.

At this point I know I'm in the wrong store and decide I have had enough of the mall for one day. I strip to my boxers and fan myself down in the dressing room for a second before getting dressed to leave. I look in the mirror and notice that it's one of those dressing rooms that has the "posing light" which makes you look way more jacked than you really are. You know, the one small spotlight that shines straight down on you from directly above your head. It casts the perfect shadows, so even though you are smooth and dehydrated from not drinking any water during the three hour sweat fest and are bloated from the pizza you grabbed cuz it was the only thing in the mall to eat, you suddenly look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club, only 50 pounds more muscular. It's not till you get home to the stark white light of your bathroom that you realize that the holiday season has you left you more closely resembling Brad Garrett from Everybody Loves Raymond, than Brad Pitt from Fight Club, but I digress.

Finally I was able to peel myself away from the mirror and head back out into the cold. I began the hand signal game with a few of the cars waiting outside to direct them to where I was parked. When I got in the car and pulled out I tried to think of the last time I could buy jeans with ease and was the cause of my plight. One thing came to mind: squats.

If you want big legs you have got to squat. For the first few years of your training you should squat, squat and squat some more. Everyone's goal should be to squat double bodyweight, at least. And I'm talking about real, full squats, at least to parallel.

Let's briefly talk form for a second. A perfect squat should look like this:
Grab the bar with an even grip, wider than shoulder width. Be sure to squeeze it as hard as you can.
Duck under it and jam your shoulder blades as far back as you can.
The bar should sit on your traps, not the top of your spine or your neck.
By keeping your hands in a little closer you can create a bigger shelf for the bar to sit on. By close I mean 6-10 inches wider than shoulder width. If you have shoulder problems, this is not an option and you will need to grab the bar wider. Never grab the bar with an extremely close grip.
With your head up and back arched, unrack the weight and take two steps back.
Before beginning your descent be sure to take a deep breath and fill your belly with air. Basically you want to push your abs out as far as you can.
With your chest up and back arched, you are now going to push out on the sides of your feet like you are trying to spread the floor.
To begin your descent, break at the hips by pushing your glutes back as far as you can and then squatting down as low as you can go without losing the arch in your back and allowing your butt to tuck under.
This may be to parallel or it may be all the way to the floor (known in some circles as "ass to the grass" or even worse, the acroynm, "ATG." If you use this terminology your manhood will be revoked in all 50 states for five years, minimum).
On the way up, be sure to lead with your head, chest high, drive your elbows forward and under the bar and push your hips forward.

Normal back squats should be your bread and butter but here is a list of other excellent squat variations that you should include in your workouts:
  • Back squat
  • Front squat
  • Safety bar squat
  • Cambered bar squat
  • Box squat
  • Safety bar box squat
  • Cambered bar box squat
  • Belt squat
  • Power squat machine
Beginnners can often squat three times per week. Intermediates will do better squatting once or twice a week and advanced guys should squat once every 7-10 days.

Be sure to include a variety of sets and reps in your squat workouts and always focus on maximizing your recovery.

How do you know if you're squatting enough?

If you can buy jeans at Banana Republic, you're not.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Music Please

"At first I was afraid, I was petrified..."

No way they're playing this...

"Kept thinkin I could never live without you by my side..."

What did I do to deserve this? Say it aint so.

"But then I spent so many nights thinking how you did me wrong..."

Holy shit, they really are playing I Will Survive, in a "gym" in New York City. How a travesty like this could ever be allowed to occur is something that will always boggle my mind.

If you own a gym or training center of any kind, one of your main responsibilities is to have a fairly decent knowledge of music. To know nothing whatsoever about music and pay no mind to what is playing in your facility is downright negligent.

In this day and age it is unacceptable to ever hear a commercial in a gym or training center. With iPods and satellite radio readily available, allowing commercials to air while people are trying to squat is unforgivable.

If you own a training facility you have those two options. You either buy satellite radio or you make 12 hour mixes on your iPod and plug them into the stereo system and allow it to play all day long. If you own a hardcore powerlifting or sports performance place, stick with rock, metal and hip hop. If it is more of a mainstream, commercial place you probably want to cut out the metal and stick to rock and hip hop.

Gone are the days when only a small rebellious group of individuals listen to hip hop. Now it is as widely accepted as mainstream rock like Bon Jovi or Bruce Springsteen. To not have it playing would actually seem a bit strange and like the gym you are running is out of the loop and behind the times. I have a good female friend who is quite wealthy and recently turned 50. Her current favorite song is I Wanna Love You by Snoop Dogg and Akon. Everybody listens to hip hop. Don't be afraid to play it because you don't want to offend people. Not playing it will offend just as many people.

If you run a training center at a private country club and all of the members are wealthy men in their 50's and 60's, get Sirius Satellite Radio and tune into the classic rock station all day. It's not really that hard to figure out.

Find out who your clientele are and put on some music that everyone will enjoy training to throughout the day. Believe me, it aint country, disco, hit's from the doo wop era or commercials.

I am continually shocked every time I go into a gym and hear regular old FM radio playing or some absolute horseshit mix of stuff no one has ever heard of or would ever want to hear of. Music is one of the most important elements in creating the right environment in your training center. In many people's minds, including mine, it is the number one determining factor of how much they like training at your facility. I don't care what the place looks like or what equipment you have, if I walk in and Flashdance by Irene Cara is playing, I'm outta there. I know tons of people who feel the same.

Of course you always have the option of playing your iPod in a place like this but I just think it's time for gym owners to wake up and step it up a notch. This is something so important, so easy to fix but yet so often overlooked. Paying attention to detail is always one of the most important things in life and this is one small detail that should never be overlooked.

By the way, The Re-Up by Eminem and Hip Hop is Dead by Nas are two great new albums worth checking out.

Top tracks are The Re-Up, Wer'e Back and You Don't Know on Eminem's album and Money Over Bullshit, You Can't Kill Me, Hip Hop Is Dead and Black Republican featuring Jay Z on Nas' album.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

New Interview

This is an interview I did recently for Mike Robertson of

MR: Jay, tell us a little bit about yourself.

JF: Well Mike here is a quick summary for everyone: I became obsessed with weight training when I was younger because I was always the smallest and weakest kid in school. At that time I had two goals; one was to improve my sports performance, but more importantly to me was just to get bigger. I hated being so small and weak.

I learned a lot through trial and error and then started to read and study as much as I could. I made some great gains over the years and went from 145 pounds at six feet as a high school senior to 230 at the same height, at my biggest.

Over the last 14 years I have helped tons of hardgainers like myself to achieve their goals. I have also worked with over 500 athletes in my own private training center in New Jersey.

MR: What brought you into the industry? Once there, who has helped you become the coach you are now?

JF: My obsession with training continued to grow over the years and eventually I decided it was something I could make a living at. I loved training, I loved sports and I loved helping people. I figured I could combine the three and make a great life for myself.

At the beginning I got caught up with the wrong crowd and fell victim to false guru worship. That taught me a lot about how not to do business and how not to conduct yourself. Many people who have heard me tell some of these stories are horrified to hear of some of my experiences but I wouldn’t change a thing. Everything happens for a reason and you learn even from bad experiences.

I think I had to go through that for a reason because since then I have been blessed to meet some incredible people in this industry. The person who has helped me the most over the years just by being a good friend and an incredibly intelligent colleague to bounce things off of has been John Alvino.

Alwyn Cosgrove has become one of my closest friends in the world and he has helped me infinitely over the years. Whenever I need advice in this business I go to Alwyn or Dave Tate.
There are many other guys out there who have become good friends and have been helpful but John, Alwyn and Dave stand out.

MR: Tell the readers a little bit about your training philosophy: Are you a max strength guy? Worse yet, a mobility guy?

JF: Haha, I’ll leave that last one to you.

I’m an “everything guy” I guess you could say. There is no way to describe what I do. Some guys have a specific niche or gimmick I guess that they are known for but I really don’t.

Am I a max strength guy? Yes.

Am I a bodyweight training guy? Yes.

Am I an Olympic lifting guy? Yes.

Am I a “functional training” guy? I guess.

I don’t discriminate. I take ideas and concepts from several different disciplines, use bits and pieces of different theories and systems and combine them all the best way I know how to achieve the desired result.

I think if you become just an “xyz” guy you are missing out on so much more. Some guys think that max strength is all that matters. Get stronger and you will instantly jump higher, run faster, hit harder, gain size and have less injuries.

Well, yeah, maybe. But maybe not. What if strength is not your limiting factor? What if you can squat and deadlift 700 pounds? Is getting stronger really going to make you run faster? What about your mobility or flexibility? Maybe you are just strong and slow and need to add in some plyos and other speed work.

There is never a universal answer that is why you can not just be a strength guy or a kettlebell guy or whatever. It’s all just about picking the right tools for the job. And those tools may change from year to year.

So my general philosophy is to take everything out there that I find useful from gymnastics to strongman training, and apply it when needed in the appropriate situation.

MR: You have a new manual out now titled “Tapout;” what made you decide to write that, and who is it applicable to?

JF: I wrote the book a few years back and recently updated it with a bunch of additional information. I participated in some form of combat sport all my life, from Tae Kwon Do to wrestling to boxing to grapping. The thing is, like I mentioned earlier I was weak and slow and therefore sucked during my early years. Eventually when I learned how to train properly I was able to see a huge difference in my performance.

When I opened up my training facility, for some reason I attracted a lot of combat athletes. With my personality, these athletes, along with football players, are my favorite kind of athlete to train. Over the years I worked with several combat athletes and continually refined my training system always trying to get better results each and every year.

Eventually I was getting better results with these kinds of athletes than anyone else in my area and noticed that there was really a lack of training info out there for these guys. This was a much neglected sport, I felt. That was what led me to write the original version of the book a few years back.

In the book I cover strength training, conditioning, nutrition, injury prevention and many other things for combat athletes.

Tap Out is applicable to any martial artist, fighter, wrestler or mixed martial artist looking to real take their performance to the highest level.

MR: If you could give me a few tips, what in your mind is keeping most trainees from achieving their goals?

JF: Well, like I said before, I think focusing too much on one thing is always a recipe for disaster. I will use myself as an example. I like to go to the gym and lift heavy, all the time. But just focusing on max strength would mean I would be neglecting my mobility and flexibility so I would probably start to feel like crap. Lifting heavy all the time leaves you feeling beat up as well. And what about your work capacity, endurance, hypertrophy, prehab, etc?
Most people make this same mistake and just focus on what they like or are good at. You have to be sure to use a well rounded approach and do all the little stuff that you really don’t want to do but could make the biggest difference in the end.

Too many people train without any plan at all or a training journal. I think that is a mistake.
Too many people neglect nutrition. They try to get huge and swear that they are eating a ton but when someone forces them to write it down and add it up it’s only about 2500 calories. Not too many people can get huge on that. By the same token, people try to get lean by either eating too much or not eating enough, and actually shutting down their metabolism. You need to pay close attention to nutrition and until you really have it down, should probably be keeping a diet journal.

One last thing is this; a lot of people seem to not know how hard to train. What I mean by that is that there has been a lot written about the negatives associated with going to failure. So the baby got thrown out with the bathwater in a lot of cases and now you have people training like complete pussies. This is not a good thing either. You have to work hard. Don’t kill yourself or cause a nervous breakdown but you need to push yourself quite hard if you want to achieve beyond what most people think is possible.

On the other hand, if you are one of the rare people who hasn’t been warned about training to failure all the time, I should note that it is not the best idea to turn every set you do into a fight to the death that ends with you shaking and quivering for thirty seconds before collapsing in a heap. This does nothing but fry your CNS and slows down your progress.

MR: Ok, last one Jay; you have a kick-ass knowledge of music and your article on training music at Elite a while ago brought back old memories. What are you training to right now? Any good music we should know about?

JF: Oh man, you don’t want to get me started on this. We could be here all night, I’m obsessed with music. As far as training goes I listen to hard rock, metal and hip hop. Sometimes it’s a mix, other times it’s just one or the other. Right now I’m in a real hip hop phase.
Here’s what’s in high rotation in the gym lately:

Eric B. & Rakim- Run For Cover, Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em

Naughty By Nature- 19 Naughty III, Sleepin on Jersey, Take it to Ya Face, Yoke the Joker, Poor Man’s Poetry

Ice Cube- How to Survive In South Central, Endangered Species (Tales From The Darkside), The Wrong Nigga to Fuck With, We Had To Tear This Mothefucker Up

LL Cool J- How I’m Coming

As for some new stuff, the title track to Jay Z’s new album Kingdom Come is an instant classic and Dig a Hole is pretty good too. Untouchable (Swizz Beatz Remix) on Tupac’s new album is also worth a listen.

MR: Good stuff Jay – how can our readers find out more about you?

JF: Thanks Mike. They can check out my website, for more about me. Combat athletes can check out . I also write for several magazines including Men’s Health and Maximum Fitness and I have my own monthly column in Men’s Fitness called The Hardgainer with a corresponding website called where people can find my book called How to Get Jacked.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Keep It Simple, Stupid

"Hey Jay does your training system focus more on sarcoplasmic hypertropy or myofibrillar? Do you believe in hyperplasia? What fibers do you focus on hypertrophying? Type IIA, IIB, IIDD, type 36-26-36? How do you vary rep speed within a set to take advantage of the dynamic effort motor unit induced reverse dialysis of the brachialis which has been shown to cause paralysis of the urine analysis consumed post workout in the hopes of inoculating thermogenesis of the breastesses?"


These are the kinds of training questions I am asked on a daily basis. The one asking the questions is usually a 149 pound guy with one year of training experience and approximately 7,839,402 posts on his favorite online training forum where he has spent an equal amount of hours. He is an expert because although he hasn't trained anyone and has barely found time to train himself he can quote SuperTraining inside and out.

Newsflash, people: It aint that complicated!

In the last few days I have discussed this with some of the brightest minds in the business. First, I spent last week with one of the smartest guys in all of strength and conditioning, Alwyn Cosgrove. We discussed training and agreed that only 1% of the time will anyone ever need a super complicated, overly technical and" scientifically advanced" program.

Alwyn has the best fat loss program I have ever seen and it is very straightforward and easy to follow and understand. There is no crazy nonsense that he added just to impress the reader. That kind of shit drives me insane and I find it nearly impossible and completely mind numbing to read. AND I'M IN THIS INDUSTRY! I can't imagine how people who are not must feel. I did all that when I was coming up in the business, please don't make me do it again with long scientific diatribes that no one wants to read.

Afterburn is a scientifically sound program that delivers kick ass results, which I have seen first hand.

When I visited his gym last week I was blown away by the transformations his clients had made.

For more info about Alwyn's incredible fat loss programs click HERE now.

While I was out in Cali I also had the pleasure of meeting the great strength and conditioning coach, Robert Dos Remedios. Dos was discussing his new book with me and telling me how he has included a lot of unique stuff in there but for the most part it was all about the basics that everyone seems to forget about, or even sadder, not know about. No one wants to do what works anymore, they all seem to want the most complicated thing they can find. Dos and I were discussing some of these space aged methods and after commenting on one, both simultaneously said, "I don't even understand that shit." That's coming from a guy who has delivered incredible results with thousands of athletes for 20 years. Do you really think you need something more advanced than what he uses?

Absolutely not.

On the plane ride home I was discussing this same thing with my brother Jared who is around 240 pounds and deadlifts 600. I have trained with him or designed his programs for years. For a while he got caught up in the hype and wanted to do more "scientifically advanced" and overly complicated programs. That was when his progress came to a halt. When he returned to basics, his results skyrocketed again. He has never done anything else, since.

When I got home, I called my good friend Jim Wendler to see what he's been up to. We got to talking about training and sure enough the subject turned to the keyboard warriors who have the insatiable desire for the most advanced program on earth even though they only squat 185 and have 13 inch biceps and a bad case of carpal tunnel. For those that don't know, Jim has squatted 1003 pounds in competition! En route to that incredible feat he used about a dozen different exercises at the most and about...oh I'd say, zero space aged training methods.

After hanging up with Jim I received a call from another good friend and one of the top strength coaches in Minneapolis, Rob Duggan. I was telling him of the discussions I had with Dos and he was laughing hysterically. "Dude, I can't even bring myself to look at that shit anymore," he said, in reference to the over complicated training info we were discussing. "It just makes me sick."

I have seen Rob train tons of clients and I have trained with him. During one such workout he kicked my ass on the bench, repping out 365 like it was a joke. This is a guy who knows a thing or two about getting strong.

Last night I walked into the gym and saw my good buddy, John Alvino. John is one of the brightest guys in the field and has competed on the same stage as Jay Cutler, the current Mr. Olympia. He was already halfway through his workout. He wasn't counting some exotic tempo or using some kind of isoballistic miometric paused static dynamic reverse press squat jump. Nope, he was pulling and pushing heavy weights just like he did 12 or 13 years ago when he competed on stage with Cutler. When I tell him to check out some crazy science stuff just for a laugh his reply is always the same; "Bro, I just don't even have the heart to do it."

I have seen pro and world class athletes who have not needed an incredibly advanced program. Unless you are among the top 1% in the world, you probably will not need anything incredibly fancy to help you achieve your goals.

Lift heavy, lift fast, get a lot of rest and eat appropriately. If you are an athlete, combine that with some speed and agility work, being sure not to overtrain, and you will be way ahead of the pack.

It aint rocket science.

For a back to basics approach that delivers results every time and takes all the confusing science and guesswork out of the equation, check out How to Get Jacked: The Hardgainers Guide To Mind Blowing Muscle Gains by clicking HERE now.

Monday, December 11, 2006

How to Fast Track Your Career In the Fitness Industry

Last week I had the great pleasure of visiting my very good friend and colleague, Alwyn Cosgrove. Sometimes when you're close to someone you forget about their level of expertise or start to overlook it after a while.

For those who don't know, Alwyn is one of the leaders in the fitness industry and one of the most brilliant people around. I knew that Alwyn was the leading expert in the field when it comes to business coaching for fitness professionals but I really had an awakening to just how good he is this week. I visited his training facility, Results Fitness, for the first time to do staff training for his employees. To say I was impressed with what I saw would be an understatement.

From the moment I walked in I could tell that this was a highly successful, first class operation that was run flawlessly by Alwyn and his amazing wife, Rachel. He has systems in place and a business model that can't be beat. There was a great family like atmosphere in the gym that was noticeable immediately that would make all new members feel welcome in a hearbeat.

Alwyn and Rachel have done an outstanding job putting together the best staff I have ever seen in any fitness facility I have been to. Cameron, Mike, Erika, Hedge and Craig are an incredible group of people with amazing personalities and an undying passion to learn. I had the opportunity to speak to them and watch them work and interact with each other and I was genuinely impressed. They all have a great future in this business and I wish all of them the best and thank them for allowing me to share some of my experiences with them.

If you work in the fitness industry you owe it to yourself to read Alwyn's blog on a daily basis and to do a consultation with him. Whatever price you pay for his services will come back to you tenfold. It will be one of the best investments you could possibly make.

One of the reasons for my trip to Cali was to help my brother with his career. He has worked for me for years and is now ready to branch out on his own in the fitness industry. Since advice is always better taken when it comes from an outsider rather than a family member, I asked Alwyn for his help and he was more than willing to oblige. Not only did he oblige but he went the whole nine yards and did more than I could have ever imagined. The few days he spent with Alwyn have done way more for my brother than a year trying to do things on his own would have done.

We both learned a lot during our week with Alwyn, more of which I will share in subsequent posts this week, but the most important thing I can say to all fitness professionals is this:

If you want to advance your career in this industry, you absolutely can't afford not to do a consultation with Alwyn Cosgrove.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Determining Optimal Training Frequency

How often can you train a bodypart, muscle group or movement pattern?

Well that depends on quite a few different factors. How long have you been training? What are you training for? How strong are you? How is your recovery ability? Are you healthy or injured? What other physical activities do you engage in? What have you been doing in your workouts lately?

Let's address each of those and show why they are so important in determining this.

How long have you been training?
If you are a beginner you will always do full body workouts three days per week, no questions asked. If you are an intermediate you may switch to upper/lower splits and train four days per week or still three days, just spreading your two upper and two lower workouts over 9 days instead of 7. If you are advanced you may stick with this plan or perhaps do two upper and one lower workout per week. Or maybe you may do a pushing workout, a lower body workout and a pushing workout, or some variation of that.

What are you training for?
If it's mass, full body workouts work great. Then again so are upper/lower splits and even bodypart splits. If it's fat loss the usual inclination is to do full body workouts with exercises that burn the most calories. But this approach only works for a short time and is often flawed. The reason? If you are trying to lose fat, you are probably doing intervals and/or steady state cardio a few days per week. Add three days of squatting and lunging on top of another 3-4 days of riding the bike or sprinting and your knees will be screaming in no time.

I think the full body workouts are great to kick start a fat loss workout for beginners or intermediates and even certain advanced guys but eventually, and this may only take 3-4 weeks to happen, your knees will be shot. Unless, of course you are doing your intervals and weight training on the same day. Then you have a little longer to recover but the sheer volume is still the same and will lead to breakdown sooner or later. One option is to alternate one month periods of full body workouts with splits in the quest to uncover your abs.

How strong are you?
If you are very strong, and by that I mean strong for what your body can handle naturally, full body workouts are not really an option. If you can bench press over 300 pounds and squat over 400, there is no way it is healthy or smart to press or squat more than twice per week, for any length of time. Maybe you can do it and make great progress, but only for short periods of time. I do it on occasion when I am coming back from a layoff or as a change of pace but you simply can not EVER do this year round. Actually that is a statement for all lifters, beginners to advanced; you can not do full body workouts year round.

How is your recovery ability?
If your muscles ache and joints hurt after training you may need less frequency. Maybe you recovery incredibly well. Then you might need more.

Are you healthy or injured?
If you are healthy you can get away with pressing or squatting more frequently. But what if you are forty and have been training for over twenty years and your shoulders feel terrible. Guess what my friend? You're doing bodypart splits. You almost have no choice. Pressing twice a week is tough on healthy shoulders if you are strong and have a lot of years under your belt. But on bum shoulders, it's a nightmare. In a situation like this you would have to do one of the following two options:
Monday- Chest & Biceps
Wednesday- Legs, Abs, Calves
Friday- Back & Triceps

If your shoulders are really smoked and you need to relegate all shoulder irritation to just one day you may have to do chest and back on Monday and just biceps and triceps on Friday. That would give the shoulder more time to rest each week.

What other physical activities do you engage in?
If you play a sport or run sprints a few days a week, you probably can't recover from more than one lower body workout every 5-7 days. Now again, if you are a weak beginner you probably can. If you are an intermediate you would probably do best on 5 days and advanced guys would do better on 7, sometimes going heavy every 14.

What have you been doing in your workouts lately?
Usually the best thing to do in your next program is the opposite of what you have been doing for the last few months. I know this isn't the most scientific approach but in many cases it happens to be the truth.

As you can see, there is no cut and dried answer when it comes to determining the optimal training frequency or split. No split is optimal all the time. The best split is the one that addresses all of the concerns addressed above and even that will need to be changed eventually.
Ask yourself those questions and plan accordingly. Remember, failing to plan is planning to fail.

Train smart.

The Value Of Information

There is no more valuable commodity that someone could sell than information. Yet many fail to understand this. I want to point to a recent example of what happened on an internet forum when a colleague of mine announced the release of his new training manual.

The manual was set to sell at $39.95. In my opinion, this was ridiculously cheap for what he was offering. But low and behold there were people bitching about the price.

Are you kidding me?!

Let's say that he has a single 12 week program included in the manual. He told me that he personally charges somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 for a six week program. Double that and the cost is $600. That is the true value of that training manual. If I was desperately in need of that information and wanted to apply it to my workouts, that is what I would pay. Hell, I have paid many experts that much in the past when I was coming up in this industry as a kid. Yet people found the nerve to bitch about paying forty dollars for that?

If you want, more than anything else in the world, to shave ten strokes off your golf game, what monetary value would you place on achieving that goal? Is it worth more than forty bucks to you? Is the information that you need to get you to achieve that goal not an incredibly valuable commodity to you?

If you would kill to lose twenty pounds of fat in the next two months would you balk if I told you that a mere $60 or $100 investment was necessary to get you to achieve that goal?

What if you were insecure about being so small and skinny and weak? What value would you place on getting bigger and stronger. How much would you be willing to pay to gain twenty pounds?

I have been in that situation so I can answer. I would pay A LOT! If you said it would cost me a grand to go from 150 to 180 in the next three months, I would gladly hand you the money. That's how much I hated being skinny. And the one thing I didn't have at the time was the INFORMATION on how to get me there. But if you are going to give me a 12 week program with the information I need to achieve my goal, it is a no brainer.

There is nothing more valuable than information.

If the information needed to help you achieve a desired goal is not worth paying for or you see it as too expensive, then the goal must not really be that important to you.

If someone said to me, "I can tell you how to make an extra hundred grand next year but it's going to cost you five grand," I'm writing the check for five grand in two seconds. I DESPERATELY WANT THAT INFORMATION!

If you say you want to lose fifty pounds of fat or even ten or twenty, you need to look within yourself and ask yourself what is that really worth to you. How much better would you look and feel? How would it be to finally take off your shirt at the beach? What would it feel like to wear the clothes you always wished you could but didn't because you were too embarrassed? How great would it be to be feel attractive to the opposite sex again?

What is that really worth to you? Can you really put a price on your happiness and self esteem?

And if so don't you think that price tag should be a little more than forty bucks?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Are You Too Busy To Workout?

Many times I hear this excuse from people who do absolutely no exercise at all. They say they have no time to train. They feel and look terrible yet they have no intentions of doing anything about it.

I was at the park doing some sprints a few days ago and saw a guy there pushing his kids on the swings. When they got off the swings and went to play on something else the guy, in his mid forties, went over to the chin up bar and attemted to do a single rep.

He couldn't even get half way up!

A grown man who couldn't do a single chin up...What a disgrace. The sad thing is that I have seen this exact scenario at least a dozen times at the park.

How can you even consider yourself a man? What would you do if you ever had to defend or protect your wife or kids?How can you look yourself in the mirror and live with yourself if you are in that kind of shape and that pathetically weak?

The excuse of not having enough time is a lame one. No matter how much you work and how many responsibilities you have, there is always time to exercise. The problem is that most people think an efficient workout has to last an hour or two. This is complete BS. Often times I will train for no more than 20-30 minutes on a very busy day. If you can honestly tell me that you don't have 20-30 minutes per day for exercise, you need to take a serious look at your life and your priorities.

An efficient strength training workout can be accomplished with as few as two or three exercises and be completed in as little as twenty minutes. Just by making time each day to do that small amount of exercise, you will feel ten times better. The workouts in How To Get Jacked all average about 40 minutes but if you are pressed for time they can be shortened to meet your schedule. If time is your enemy, try this: Go to the gym (or your basement or garage) and do a brief warm up. After warming up pick one pushing exercise, one squatting exercise and one pulling exercise. Do 2-3 sets of each for 6-10 reps each. You will be in and out of the gym in 20 minutes but the positive benefits will be with you for the next few days. Don't think that if you don't have at least 4-6 hours a week, it's worthless to do anything at all. Nothing could be further from the truth.

No excuses.

For more info on time saving workouts click HERE, but first check out what people are saying about How To Get Jacked, below:

"I have gained about a good 11 pounds so far of my goal to 200 now at 183, so thanks alot for a successful program man."
Ryan Liska

"Great Book!"
Richard Bell

"Thank you for making the material and I look forward to learning from you for years to come! My training is taking off and I have to thank you for alot of it."
William Southern

"Thank you for writing the book. It helped me out a lot. I'm 30 years old and have been working out since I was 15. I'd been stalled out at 175 pounds for years and years; after reading your book I finally broke that barrier and jumped up to 200 pounds. I'd been stuck doing the standard split routine for so long; I'd given up hope that I'd ever bulk up, but I stuck with weight training because of the mental benifits I got from working out. Anyway thanks a lot for passing on your knowledge, it's given me a new zest for weight training."
Mike Orr

"Great work on the book and opening me up to some great ideas. Keep it up."
Andre Hernandez

Monday, November 27, 2006

How to Get Jacked

Today I'm reposting an interview I did for Craig Ballantyne of last week.

I hope you enjoy it.

We are going to switch gears today and talk about building muscle, and lots of it. After all, yesterday gave you the calories, right? Today we might as well give you the training...

Today I'm giving you a mini-interview with the "strength coach to strength coaches", Jason Ferruggia. When he talks, I listen. So does Mike Boyle, as does Alwyn Cosgrove.

Jason has great muscle-building advice from years running his own gym, so let's get to it.

CB: What rep ranges - you say no high reps - what does that mean? Nothing above 10, 15, 20?

JF:For the most part, skinny guys will be wasting their time if they use high reps and light weights.I usually like to see most of the reps be in the ranges of 6-12 when training for size. Now if it's a lower body exercise such as a squat, step up or Romanian deadlift, you can get away and maybe even get better results with slightly higher reps. For the lower body you could actually go as high as twenty reps and still make good progress. On total body exercises such as a dumbbell swing, you could also get good results with reps in the 12-20 range.Here's a secret about getting good results with higher rep training. Most of the time I don't recommend killing yourself and going to death set failure on every set. But if you are using higher reps, the weights are lighter already. If you are doing multiple sets of high reps the cumulative fatigue starts to mount and the weights can start to get really light.For this reason, when you do sets above 12 reps they probably should be all out death sets to failure, otherwise there is just not enough stimulus to induce a hypertrophy response. But for the most part, if you really want to get jacked, the majority of your training should be in the 6-12 range.

CB: What do you think aboot pigging out while getting big? Is that alright or should people be very strict with their muscle-building nutrition as well?

JF:This really depends on your genetics and bodyfat levels. If you can stay lean no matter what you eat then go for it. If you are really trying to add a lot of size you definitely have to jack up your calories. I believe bulking cycles should last 12-16 weeks max.After this you need to go into a maintenance or diet phase and do a completely different kind of training. Many people will do better with shorter cycles. This is an individual thing. But during this time you do have to pig out. This doesn't mean throwing caution to the wind and trying to induce a heart attack in that time frame by eating fast food and ice cream all day. You can eat some junk food if you have a very fast metabolism but the majority of your food choices should be clean.The best choices here are beef, chicken, fish and eggs for protein and rice, potatoes, whole grain pasta, oatmeal, whole grain bread and fruits and vegetables for carbs. Be sure to include some healthy fats as well like nuts, avocadoes, and oils.If you have trouble staying lean you will probably want to limit your carb intake to the morning and pre and post workout period and avoid mixing large amounts of fats and carbs.On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you have trouble eating enough, a trick I like to use is to focus on eating high glycemic carbs like white rice. The reasoning behind this is that they digest rapidly and leave you feeling hungry again very shortly after eating them. This is why you are hungry an hour after eating Chinese food.

CB: You've been experimenting in your strength training lab for years - what was your most surprising finding - what "universal truth" doesn't really hold up in the real world?

JF: There are so many. You definitely need way less training than most people think. Even if you are genetically superior and have the time and ambition, I really don't see much benefit to training more than three days per week. If you can handle it, the results are not really that much better, if at all.Some rules like the supposed inverse relationship between sets and reps is completely false. This rule, which 90% of the industry seems to live by, states that the less reps you do, the more sets you do and the more reps you do the less sets you do.This is okay with beginners but what about some one who can bench press 400 pounds? If they are doing sets of three they are supposed to do between six and ten sets supposedly. Good luck with that. Aint happening. With a strong guy this rule is actually completely backward.

Some experts will tell you that you should only do compound movements and this will take care of everything. For example, they say you should only do presses and rows and chins and never pushdowns or curls.I agree with that to an extent but after you have built up a decent amount of mass on the basics you could actually benefit from a very small volume of some of these isolation exercises.Your strongest muscles will take over when doing a row or press and often times, for the more advanced lifter, the smaller muscles like biceps, don't receive an adequate growth stimulus. For this reason, if you really wanted to get your arms to grow (and are way beyond the beginner stage) you should a few sets of direct arm work.

The old myth that a muscle takes 72 hours to recover is also completely incorrect. If you wanted to you could probably train full body seven days a week. The guys in the military do it. It's just all about finding the optimal balance between volume, intensity and frequency.I mentioned training to failure earlier but this is something that most people are still confused about.Here are the simple rules about going to failure that hold true every time: If you are training strictly for size or fat loss, you can go to failure on every set. I don't mean nervous breakdown, death set failure but you can go until you can't get another rep.If your main priority is getting stronger, you can not go to failure. It's that simple. If you do choose to go to failure when training for strength, you need to change your workouts much more frequently because you will not be able to progress week to week.There are a ton of other ones but those are the first that came to mind right now. Hopefully that gives people a few new ideas and things to think about.

CB: Thanks J. I personally am using a program that was designed with Jay's help. I suggest you give his programs a try as well.Jason has just released his hardcopy book, "How to Get Jacked". You can order a copy HERE. Again, How to Get Jacked is a hardcopy book, so you'll get it in the mail.

CB: P.S. Jason helped me design my workouts...That you can read about in my blog at

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Performing Like Georges St. Pierre

Motivated by last night's Ultimate Fighting Pay Per View, I got up today and decided to turn it up a notch in my conditioning workouts. With a sled, a forty five pound plate, a pair of blast straps and two training partners, I headed out to the field. After a dynamic warm up we proceeded to do the following workout:
Forward chest presses with sled
Forward sprints with sled
Rows with sled
Wheelbarrow partner walks
These were all done in a ciruit with very little rest. The distance was about 50 yards per exercise. We did this for 35 minutes straight or until we were all seeing stars and nearly puking our lungs up. When no one could do any more I issued a challenge. Like he always does in a situation like that, when pride is on the line, my brother proceeded to peel his carcass off the grasss and, on his last set, double the distance anyone had gone all day in the wheelbarrow walk. The value of good training partners can never be underestimated, especially when training like this.

Combat athletes need low levels of bodyfat and high levels of conditioning and these kind of workouts help accomplish both of those goals, fast.

By following a workout like this or any of the others detailed in Combat Conditioning Secrets, you will incinerate bodyfat and dramatically boost your conditioning levels.

One thing I should note though, is that, as a combat athlete, you need to watch your diet. I have provided nutritional guidelines and sample diets in Tap Out and have also brought in the worlds leading nutrition expert, John Alvino for even more detailed diet info in an exclusive interrogation in the Underground Combat Files. Both of these are part of The Combat Conditioning Secrets package.

The reason I mention diet is because when we were watching the pay per view last night, the fat guys were the topic of conversation at one point. Most combat athletes would probably assume that with all of the hours of exercise they get each week, they don't need to pay much attention to diet and will still be ripped come fight time. This was and is obviously not the case. As John noted, it seems to defy the law of thermogenics. "You would think that you could eat ho-ho's betweeen every punch you threw and still not look like that."

If you want to look like Georges St. Pierre or "The Sandman" James Irvin and be able to perform at that kind of level, you can not neglect your nutrition in the least.

For more inside info on becoming a dominant combat athlete, click HERE now.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Becoming a Bad Ass Martial Artist

"I love it, I want to sign up, " I told our teacher, David. "Okay, go down to Master Chei's studio tommorow to pick up your gi and be here with it on for class on Wednesday."

The year was 1993 and I had just attended my first Tae Kwon Do class in the rec center at Arizona State University. It had been a while since I participated in TKD. My dad owned a school when I was young and taught a more hardcore version than the tyical Gay Kwon Do that is taught in most strip malls across America. I started from a very young age and became accustomed to that style.

Since then, it had been hard to find but low and behold I had finally come across what I was looking for. This class was no joke and David, the teacher, let you know up front that there were no pussies allowed and that it was going to be balls to the wall from day one. His words were reinforced by the bruises and welts on many of the students.

One in particular stood out. Bart didn't look the slightest bit intimidating. He was small and kind of nerdy looking. But he limped into class the first day, taped up his injuries and proceeded to kick the shit out of everyone in his path. There were several others who seemed just as tough. These were the kind of guys I wanted to train with.

I took the bus to Master Chei's the next day to get my gi. When I got there I forgot to take off my shoes so he was immediately pissed. Next I forgot to bow and the master was none too pleased. I told him my name and that I was there for my gi. "Dobok," he insisted.

"Great, three strikes, dummy. He's definitely gonna kick your teeth out now you nitwit"

Luckily he let it slide and went to get my gi, er, I mean, dobok. He opened up the refridgerator. I thought he was gonna offer me a beer. It was nearing happy hour, after all and the bar on the corner had a great Monday Night Football party. Maybe he was getting a jump start.

When I looked in the fridge it was stacked to the brim with nothing but gi's. Like most things in life, I found this to be incredibly amusing and started to laugh like a kid in church. I knew I shouldn't have but couldn't help it.

"I'm really dead this time," I thought. The look on Master Chei's face told me that he didn't like me. It's a look I get from most people I meet but this was a little different. With one glance I knew that he intended to exact swift revenge on my punk ass.

Luckily he let me leave alive but notified David of my behavior. I was made aware of this on Wednesday when I walked into class without removing my sneakers; yes I really am as dumb as I look. "Fifty pushups now!" David barked.

"Master Chei said you were very disrespectful."

"Way to make a first impression, douchebag. This class should be great," I thought.

For the next few weeks David punked me into the ground whenever he could. But for some reason we grew closer because of it. I think I finally earned his respect and he definitely had all of mine.

Around this time was when I was having a great awakening in my strength and conditioning studies. A lot of what I was learning and doing with my training was making a difference in my TKD performance. Eventually I got pretty good and even earned my way back into Master Chei's good graces.

We took a beating in that class but loved every second of it. David allowed us to go at it at the end of every class; full contact, no holds barred.

At the time, I still didn't have a full understanding of proper energy system training, recovery methods, how to properly structure workouts or how to avoid overtraining. Man, do I wish I knew then what I know now. That was one of my favorite classes I have ever taken and if I just knew how to train the right energy systems and build functional strength and power like I do now, I could have been so much better. I would have been able to recover faster. I would have been able to deliver much more powerful and explosive strikes and kicks. And on the days when we practiced "street fighting techniques" I would have been able to use my strength to overpower many of my classmates and opponents.

I might even have been able to get out of bed the day after sparring with Bart.

For the latest, most cutting edge strength and conditioning information for martial artists, and to learn in just a few hours what has taken me countless hours and a few hundred thousand dollars over the last thirteen years, check out Combat Conditioning Secrets by clicking HERE now.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Ultimate Energy Bar

The sound of the alarm, irritating as ever, woke me just before Christina Millian accepted my marriage proposal and I was pissed. I stood up to find that not only was I pissed but I was hung over. The 8 vodkas I had in Giants Stadium parking lot Sunday night were definitely not out of my system. I purposely set the alarm 15 minutes later than normal because I knew I'd need all the extra sleep I could get after a long, late night. That left me very little time to eat so I grabbed a DeFranco energy bar and a bottle of water and ran out the door.

Shit! No gas! I immediately headed to my favorite gas station to throw a quick ten bucks in and head to my appoinment. I always stop at this one particular spot because I know the attendant. Well, I shouldn't say I know him actually. I know who he his. And who he is, is an angry man. I can't seem to figure what it is about this guy and what my obsession with breaking him is. He came to the window with the same disdain filled look as usual and I asked how he was doing. I even called him "buddy."


Finally after a brief staredown, I asked for ten dollars, regular. As usual, I wasn't sure if he was going to headbutt me or spit on me. Normally I despise miserable people and avoid them at all costs but for some reason it has become my lifes mission to crack this guy or at least kill him with kindness along the way. He proceeded to pump the gas, furious that I made him get up for a measly ten bucks. I thanked him as graciously as I could and told him to have a great day. I'm pretty sure he told me to go fuck myself as I pulled away.

En route to my training session I ripped open my DeFranco bar because I was starving and my head was pounding. This is going to be one hell of a long day, I thought.

But I underestimated what I had just consumed. You see, Joe's new bars contain the powerful combination of Tyrosine and caffeine. When taken alone these two are great stimulants but when taken together, the effect is enhanced dramatically. The best thing about the amounts he put in the bar is that it doesn't give you that nervous, jittery stimulant feeling. You just feel better, you have more energy, are more alert and more focused. Not only that but the thing tastes great and digests with ease. Most protein bars sit in your stomach like you just ate concrete but not the DeFranco bars.

I walked into my training session feeling miserable and dreading the day ahead. The group I was training was doing flat dumbbell presses as their first exercise. Without fail they have repeated the same mistake for the last seven years. After doing a set they drop the weights on the floor. The next person goes, without moving the dumbbells from underneath them. It's an accident waiting to happen and before long someone will put a dumbbell down on top of another and crush their finger. It happens at least one time out of five...for seven years straight. What's that they say about the definition of insanity?

In a normal good mood, I will rush over and save fingers while simultaneously trying to spot another exercise for ten minutes straight. Today was an exception, however, and I thought to myself that if they can't figure it out by now, they're beyond my help.

But then something strange happened just a few minutes later. The caffeine and tryosine from the DeFranco bar started to kick in and suddenly I had more energy and was suddenly back to my normal self, laughing and joking and yelling. Man that Joe is good, I thought to myself. I even decided to prevent a blood blister in the making by running over and kicking a dumbbell out of the way a split second before it hit.

The rest of the morning was much better than could have been expected, even though several things went wrong. Without the uplifting effects of the DeFranco bar it could have been much worse.

So even though Joe did not design the bar with this in mind, I will go out on a limb and promote them as a great cure for a hangover.

By 7pm I was starting to crash. I was riding the train and had dozed off. Whenever I fall asleep in public I always dream about food. I have no idea why. This never happens on the couch or in my bed. The embarrassing thing is that I wake myself up by trying to take a big bite out of the food placed in front of me. I can only imagine what this looks like to the people around me. This train ride would prove to be no exception. I was dreaming about something completely unrelated to food; football, opening up for Pearl Jam, an island getaway with the lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls, perhaps. Who knows? But there was definitely no food involved. Suddenly a big chicken parm sub was right in front of my face for no reason whatsoever. I went to take a bite and woke myself with a big mouthful of air. I looked at the girl seated across from me who was staring right at me. She immediately looked away because she probably felt bad for me and assumed I had some odd disorder.

For the rest of the ride I continued to chomp away at imaginary culinary delights until I got off and ripped open my bag to find another DeFranco bar. Thank God, I thought. I needed to get a work out in and had no energy whatsoever. This is what Joe really made these things for so I scarfed one down and headed off to train. Within twenty minutes I felt great again and had an awesome workout.

Most of you know by now that I don't promote bullshit that I don't believe in. Having said that I do have to say that if you are dieting strictly and really trying to lose fat, you should not consume any protein bars whatsoever. Joe would tell you that himself. But if you are an athlete or just training for size and strength, I don't think you will find a better pre workout supplement than a DeFranco bar.

And it also works pretty nicely on a hangover...

Click HERE to order yours today.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Full Body Workouts Vs. Bodybuilding Splits

My colleague and close friend Alwyn Cosgrove was recently slammed in a bodybuilding magazine by trainer Charles Glass. The reason? He recommended full body workouts. He did a great job of addressing the situation himself HERE and certainly doesn't need me to come to his aid. In fact he has no idea that I'm writing this but since I am also a big fan of full body training I felt the need to address this situation as well.

As columnist for a fitness magazine myself, I know exactly how this all works and know that there was no need whatsoever for this. Especially to address Alwyn by name and claim that he was promoting a gimmick. That suggests a lack of credibility on his part which couldn't be further from the truth. The real problem I have with this is the fact that as a columnist I know that WE MAKE UP OUR OWN QUESTIONS!!

The question which was something like, "What do you think about the fact that Alwyn Cosgrove recommended full body workouts for those looking to gain mass," was answered in a very puzzling way. Charles Glass who is supposed to know a thing or two about building muscle went on to say that what the author (Alwyn) is recommending is a gimmick.

WHAT?!?! How the fuck is it a gimmick?! If I do bench presses, chin up's and squats in the same workout, how is that a gimmick? Which of those exercises is a gimmick? How do you compare those three exercises to Bosu or Bozo or whatever those balls are? What about the Bodyblade and that kind of crap? You're telling me that squats and bench presses are the equivalent of waving the bodyblade while standing on a stability ball?

To say that he didn't like full body training or that he didn't think it was great for advanced level bodybuilders would have been fine. But to say it's a gimmick just makes you look like moron of the year. It makes zero sense whatsoever. Full body workouts were the only way to train for years and years before drugs and supplements and bodybuilding magazines like the one in question ruined all that. It's how all the old time greats built up incredible levels of size and strength and how I have helped thousands of people to get insanely big.

If you like bodypart splits, that is up to you and I would never claim that what you are doing is a gimmick. If you are an elite level bodybuilder it might be the best way to go, I really don't know. To me it's boring as hell and I feel like a complete bitch doing lateral raises and leg extensions so I'm a little biased.

The shit people say sometimes...

Friday, November 10, 2006

Atlas Shrugged (But "How" Is The Question)

I trained inside last night for only the second time in the last ten or twelve weeks. I actually even used some machines; the EFS Power Squat and a Magnum seated row, which are pretty good as far as machines go and I had several plates on each side so as not to feel like a total pussy. I will admit that my last sets on each were true 5RM's with questionable form but I had to push it.

Surprisingly my strength on these two machines was not far from what it was the last time I used them. People told me that with my bodyweight/strongman outdoor workouts I would probably lose a lot of top end strength. I didn't think it would be the case and last night proved it to me.

I've broken my right wrist three times and thus need a wrap to do most exercises that involve holding a weight in my hand. Rows with a parallel grip are the rare exception. Anyway, I couldn't do any kind of Olympic pulling movement or deadlift which I was really looking forward to. So I was left with nothing else to do for traps than shrugs on the power squat.

Which got me to thinking...

The shrug is one of the most confusing exercises there is. I know what you're thinking, "It's the easiest fucking exercise on the planet, how could there possibly be any confusion?!"

Let me explain. On one hand you have the camp that says you need to go heavy as balls and do partial reps, just heaving the weight up. On the other hand you have the camp that says you need to go light and get a full range of motion, trying to get your shoulders as close to touching your ears as possible and hold it there for a second.

To understand where the answer truly lies lets look at the athletes with the biggest traps: Olympic lifters and power lifters.

Olympic lifters lift relatively lighter weights (while I know that some Olympic lifter is going to email and tell me that he clean and jerks 768lbs and that is not light fucking weight, please note that I said RELATIVELY LIGHTER as I am comparing it to the next lift, the deadlift) explosively and with a range of motion that does indeed have them bringing their traps to their ears.

Powerlifters have huge traps because of all the deadlifts they do. Deadlifts are heavy, period. There is no shrugging movement at all, in fact.

Looking at these two groups, what does this tell us about shrugs and the proper way to do them?

Quite simply: they suck and the best way to do them is to not do them. The best way to get huge traps is to deadlift and Olympic lift. Bottom line.

BUT... what if you can not do either of those exercises due to back or shoulder problems or a misplaced wrist wrap? Then you have no choice but to shrug. Traps are the most important bodypart there is and you can't walk around with none.

So then, exactly how do you do shrugs and which camp is right? They both are. If shrugs are the only exercise you can do for your traps you need to hit them with as much variety as possible. Go heavy for low reps, cheat the weight up and don't worry about getting an extreme contraction at the top. Then on another day of the week go lighter for higher reps with a complete range of motion and exaggerated contraction and hold at the top.

Another option is to do what I did last night; do both variations in one workout. I started with a lighter weight and did 15 reps on the first set, bringing my shoulders as high as they could go. With each set I added more weight and worked my way down to five reps by the fifth set and was cheating the reps up with a little calf raise and getting a partial range. You could start with the heavier ones and work your way down if you want as well.

Deadlifts and Olympic lifts should always be your first choice in the quest to look like Goldberg but if they are not possible hit the shrugs as many different ways as you can. Just make sure to go up and down and don't roll forwards and backwards; that's for douchebags who don't understand gravity.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Fastest Growing Sport in the Country

Did you know that the UFC/ Mixed Martial Arts is the fastest growing sport in the United States. Every time you turn around there is a new MMA school popping up somewhere. People are obsessed with this kind of training. It's the hottest new craze sweeping the nation.

The popularity of the UFC has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years. In the early days you would be hard pressed to find a single soul on the streets who knew Ken Shamrock or Dan Severn. Nowadays, guys like Tito Ortiz and Chuck Lidell are household names. The Ultimate Fighter reality show on Spike TV is enormously popular and there is even a new MMA reality show on another network.

Ultimate fighting and mixed martial arts appeals to the bad ass inside all of us. Seeing two warriors go toe to toe, no holds barred really gets the testosterone pumping. I remember several years back when it seemed like no one was watching. Now, nearly everyone I know watches every single pay per view. A good majority of them sit there drinking beer and eating pizza, thinking "I could do this shit." With a little training I could kick some serious ass in there.

And because of this, many fans have become participants. Every MMA school around is packed on a daily basis.

If you are a strength and conditioning coach, performance enhancement specialist or trainer this has huge implications for you. This is an ENORMOUS market that you are missing out on. Unless you are skilled and experienced in working with combat athletes you are leaving insane amounts of money on the table every year.

There are probably dozens of these types of athletes in your area that need a good strength and conditioning program to take them to the next level in America's fastest growing sport. Are you the one that can supply it? Or would you rather they give their money to some one else?

Don't leave money on the table, my friends. Educate yourselves and start making a lot more money today.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Best Fitness Expert You Never Heard Of

Earlier in the summer, I had a chance to sit down and interview my long time friend and colleague, John Alvino. John has been in the trenches for over 15 years working with bodybuilders and athletes. Without fail, John produces some of the best results I have ever seen. The reason you have yet to hear his name is because unlike many armchair experts, John is actually still out there training clients for ten hours a day and doesn't have that much time. He's finally ready to be heard here for the first time. Read on for more...

Jason: John, could you give us a little background intro about yourself?

John: I started lifting weights in the eighth grade to get bigger and stronger for football. At that time, I was training in my basement with those classic Joe Weider, sand-filled weights. Even though football was my first passion, I began to love training just as much as I loved playing ball. However, since I had absolutely no knowledge, I got minimal results. I guess that 800-calorie junk food diet wasn't cutting it. This lack of results frustrated me so much that I became obsessed with learning how to get bigger and stronger. Fortunately for me, one of my close friend's older brothers was Mr. East Coast at the time. He noticed my desire and work ethic and invited me to come and train with him everyday. I guess he kind of took me under his wing. I'll never forget those days. He would pick me up after school and we would go to one of the hardest training gyms in New Jersey. He taught me a ton about bodybuilding. Under his guidance, I gained 11 pounds in no time flat. At that point, I was hooked. For the next 10 years, I turned myself into a human guinea pig. I experimented with every training and nutritional combination possible. Naturally, the more I learned experientially, the better my results were. My obsessive work ethic and research culminated in my winning first place in the Mr. Teen New Jersey State Bodybuilding Championship. I also placed in the top ten at the Nationals. Some competitors of mine were Jay Cutler, Craig Richardson, and Branch Warren, to name a few. Even when I was bodybuilding full-time, however, I never lost my athletes' mentality. For instance, I was never into that all show/no go style of training that so many body builders adhere to. It just never made sense to me. Thus, I have always developed training systems intended to improve aesthetics through hardcore strength training. As an example, just a couple of years ago my powerlifting buddies came to me and said, "We need one more guy to make a team at our meet." I said, "OK." I had absolutely no time to prepare for the meet, but I still took second place in my weight class at the Deadlift Nationals. In other words, I believe in having huge muscles that can actually DO something.

Jason: So how did you get into the business of training others?

John: When I was training hardcore, I never gave a second thought to training others. However, after I starting doing really well, competitors from all over wanted me to help them prepare for their shows. So I did. For the first five years of being in this business, I trained (almost exclusively) bodybuilders and people with aesthetic goals. One of the things I was known for was developing and individualizing nutritional systems that got guys body fat down to single digits in record time without losing muscle mass. I had great success, but I had everything down to such a science that I no longer felt challenged in my career. At that point, I turned my attention to my other passion: training guys for sports performance.

Jason: Why have you removed yourself from the inner circle of strength coaches and the internet in general for the past couple of years?

John: In order to answer that question, I have to give you a little history first. When I decided to train athletes for my career, I studied with all the top guys in the field. I traveled all over the U.S.A. and other countries as well. I read every book on the topic, attended every seminar, did internships, etc. I figured these guys must know more than I do. Look at the experience they have! Look at their success in their field! However, once I immersed myself in the world of "training gurus", something very strange happened. For the first time in my career, my results worsened! It didn't make sense. I figured that I was just applying my newfound knowledge incorrectly. It couldn't possibly be that I was getting faulty information, right? So I went back to these so-called mentors and experts to see what I was doing wrong. These pricks proceeded to convince me that if their teachings were not working, there must be a rare contagious blood disorder spreading through my gym, preventing positive training adaptations! God forbid their precious techniques are just a load of crap. No, they insisted; my clients clearly had an Ashwaghanda deficiency, and needed to start devouring a couple bottles per day immediately! These "gurus" had me stand on one leg, close my eyes, hold on to a bottle of zinc and perform strength tests to see what I was deficient in. It was ridiculous. They practically suggested witch doctors to perform exorcisms on my clients, who clearly were possessed by demons who were preventing them from making any strength or size gains! As my suspicion grew, I started researching all the so-called experts. And what did I find? I found that some of them never trained anyone. Not a single clientever! How could they possible prescribe techniques that they never tested? Were these training "theories" developed in a laboratory? I just didn't get it. I dug deeper. I found that some of these "gurus" could not bench 135 lbs or run a forty in 6 seconds. They were just sales people who can write well and know some impressive-sounding bullshit terminology. Do I sound angry? You bet I'm angry. I spent countless hours and countless dollars learning a lot of bullshit from a bunch of used car salesmen who call themselves experts.
Anyway, after my initial open-mindedness and trust turned to rage and disgust, I knew it would be best to remove myself from this inner circle of experts before I jammed a fat bar up one of their asses using one of their strength-zapping 6-0-4-0 tempo theories.

Jason: What would you recommend to my readers to help them avoid wasting time and money with these shysters?

John: Don't take my previous rampage in the wrong way; acquiring knowledge is absolutely imperative in this field. I could not have gotten to where I am today in complete isolation. For instance, I thank you, Jason, for teaching me some of your innovative views and theories. You have real knowledge that translates into real results, and that's what I always aim for in my own techniques. So I do value education. However, speaking from first hand experience, it?s very easy to get sucked in to some useless theory about training. Imagine reading in some big magazine that what you're missing in your training is pre-exhausting isometronic contractions at 32 degrees of elbow flexion. My clients gained 47.8% on their bench using this secret technique!? Sounds good, right? 47.8%...that sounds real nice. It sounds like a lot of chicks are going to be after your sexy ass once you buy this guy?s book, or pills, or DVD. However, unfortunately for you, my friend, it?s all BULLSHIT!! Don't fall prey to this nonsense. Education is important, but you have to learn from people who you actually trust! They may not be the best writers, or have a Ph.D. after their name. But they would never sell you a line of crap just to make a buck. They know their stuff, and they can help you get big and strong. Always be a pragmatist. Consider the source of your information. Are they nerdy little guys who never stepped foot into a gym? Or have they gotten into the trenches and used the very techniques they are prescribing to you? At this point in my life, I learn from a select few, and I learn mostly from experience and my own research. I promise that anything that I suggest to people is tried and tested by yours truly. I wouldn?t suggest something that I myself had not tried, and I would never want anyone go on the wild goose chase that I went through before I learned the truth. My techniques have been proven to work again and again, not only for me, but for my clients as well. If, in the process of suggesting a training technique or a diet philosophy, I happen to delve deeply into the science behind something, it's because I feel that it's important for people to truly understand what they are doing, rather than just listen to me because I'm John Alvino, the training guru. I know Jason feels the same and you guys are lucky to have found him.

Jason: Thanks John.

John: I'm just speaking the truth.

Jason: You have developed quite a reputation for getting guys big and strong. What are some of the unique things that you do to achieve such great results?

John: I had a strength athlete come in to see me recently. He was stuck and could no longer make muscular gains. After looking at his nutritional journal, I noticed he ate six pieces of fruit at one meal. In his journal, each piece of fruit was proudly labeled with its glycemic score. Apparently, he had read somewhere that you must eat low glycemic foods to keep your blood sugar stable, body fat low, insulin levels in check, blah, blah, blah.

Jason: Are you suggesting that people start eating higher glycemic carbs?

John: There is a lot of misunderstanding about glycemic index. Let's understand one thing: the glycemic index is a scale that ranks foods based on their rate of entree into the bloodstream, and thus, how they affect your insulin levels. The lower the glycemic index, the slower the rate of absorption, thus producing a very gradual rise in blood sugar and insulin. Low glycemic advocates recommend eating foods with a G.I. of fifty or less. One quick glance and it?s easy to see that there are not too many nutritious, calorie-dense, size-producing foods on that list! Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that people should eat jellybeans all day. I still advocate eating a diet consisting primarily of whole, natural foods. But one of the issues I have with revolving my clients life around the glycemic index scale is that all the foods are tested on an individual basis. In other words, the foods are ingested alone. This is another great example of some crazy lab coats that never saw a squat rack coming up with a totally illogical theory. First of all, every meal should have a protein base, a fibrous vegetable and some fat. This combination of foods, ingested at the same meal, will alter ALL of those foods? glycemic indices. In other words, the scale is inaccurate. For example, white potatoes (a staple in many of my size-seeking clients?food plans) are said to have a glycemic index of eighty-five. But this theoretical potato was eaten alone. In real life, the baked potato would be eaten with a protein source and a fibrous vegetable. Let's take a piece of salmon and a serving of broccoli as an example. Broccoli has a G.I. score of less than fifteen. This will slow down the digestion of the potato. Furthermore, salmon contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which also slow down carbohydrate absorption into the bloodstream. The point is, when these foods are eaten in combination, the high rate of absorption (glycemic index) of the potatoes is mitigated by the other foods that are eaten in the meal.

Jason: Very interesting. Do you still train bodybuilders?

John: Sometimes. At this stage, most of my clientele are athletes looking to increase speed. It's a perfect scenario for me, because it combines my passion for training with my passion for sports.

Jason: Is there any connection between training for bodybuilding and training for sport?

John: Obviously the training is very different. But some of the concepts and goals are similar. For instance, I am able to take my nutrition background and get my athletes very lean. The less excess body fat you carry, the faster you will be. There?s no way around this one.

Jason: That's a great point. Can you talk a little more about this?

John: Absolutely. Excess body fat hinders an athletes' ability to run at his/her maximum potential. Use common sense and picture running a forty while dragging an extra ten to fifteen pounds the whole time. It's not so efficient, now is it? Nutrition is the key to body composition. Athletes must learn how to eat properly in order to lose body fat while retaining (or even gaining) muscle mass.

Jason: You have a lot of success training athletes and increasing their speed. Care to share some of that info?

John: Well, a lot goes into what I do. But I can tell you one thing for certain. A lot of speed coaches focus primarily on only one component of training. I try to look at the whole picture and address everything from diet to technique. For example, recently, a local speed coach was getting some pretty minimal results with his clients. His dismal results drove a lot of his clients to seek me out. After evaluating their training diaries, I noticed that all this speed coach did was work on their running mechanics. Now I have no problem with working on running mechanics. But who cares how good their form is if they possess low levels of strength, or if their body fat is fifteen percent? Aren't we putting the cart before the horse here? You see, you need to have low body fat (ten percent or less), optimal flexibility, and incredible relative strength, or else the best running mechanics won?t help you. And that is where many speed coaches fall short, in my estimation.

Jason: Awesome stuff bro. Thanks for your time.

John: Anytime, Jay. I'm glad to be able to contribute to your website. You?re doing great things. Keep it up!

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