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?