Browsed by
Category: performance

The Reason Why You Aren’t Getting Stronger or Progressing Towards Your Goals

The Reason Why You Aren’t Getting Stronger or Progressing Towards Your Goals

We’ve all been there. There was a time in our training where the progress just seemed to stop. It became the un-bustable plateau. Maybe it’s getting stuck at a 225 pound bench press for 10 reps. Maybe it’s getting stuck at 150 pounds. Somewhere along the line that “beginner magic”, where the results came almost easy, just wore off. Now it’s been two years and you’ve gone to the gym consistently busting your ass but you haven’t made any noticeable progress from where you were. Why? How can all this work count for nothing? We’ll, I’m going to tell you.

 

Let’s keep it really simple.. I’ll start with a question. How do we progress? We make small progressions over time, right? We can’t expect to PR every workout over the lifetime of our fitness careers, but we can put a plan in place that lets us PR every time we plan to test our maxes. But what do we consider small progressions over time? If you’ve been stuck at 225 pounds for 10 reps on the bench press and you’re waiting to feel like you’ve progressed enough to add more weight, when is it time to do so? Well the problem that most of us have is that we spend more time waiting than necessary. Maybe it’s waiting for a day we have a workout partner who pumps us up and we add an extra 10 or 15 pounds. But how often does that happen?

 

The truth is that we all progress differently. But in order to adapt, we need to progress. So our plan of action needs to ensure that it does happen. Some people (especially if you’re new to working out) seem to progress every single week. They might add 5 pounds per week to their 8 rep max. Every single week they can do the same workouts and they just keep throwing weight on the bar. That’s progression.

 

But what if you can’t do that? We don’t want to go to failure every single set, and we certainly don’t want to sacrifice form to get more reps up because we had to add weight. So how do you progress from there? Maybe you couldn’t add 5 or 10 pounds this week, but could you do an extra set? Could you bump up your 3 sets of flat bench to 4 sets? Again, this depends. If you’ve been recovering well recently, you can probably add a set. That’s progression.

 

If you feel like you’ve been beaten to a pulp and there’s no way you can add a single set to your workout, you’ve got a couple things to consider. 1- When was the last time you de-loaded? Your cumulative fatigue may be at a point where you are best suited to take a de-load week to reduce it. And 2- Is your workout routine designed optimally?

 

There is a magical line that we should all recognize in the pursuit of our goals. It’s the line that tells us we’re working too hard or not hard enough. We want to work right up that that line to optimize our results as efficiently as possible. Going over that line is called overreaching, which is ok as long as it’s planned and usually followed up with a de-load. Staying well under that line means we are just spinning our tires and not doing enough work to progress and force adaptations within our body. Does this line have a name? Yep.. It’s your Maximum Recoverable Volume (MRV). And unfortunately, this line is not universal. It depends on a long list of factors (like training experience) and is different for everybody. But it’s name is pretty self-explanatory. It’s the most amount of work that we can do that allows us to recover and not interfere with our next workout.

 

It’s not that hard to figure out your own MRV. It just takes some time to test it. Let’s say you use 100 pound dumbbells for 3 sets of 10 on flat bench. Next week do 4 sets. Then try 5 the following week. If during that week, your reps looked like this: 10, 10, 10, 10, 7- your MRV for that exercise at that weight was the 4th set. You failed on the 5th, so that was a little bit past your MRV.

 

Do we want to train to our MRV every workout? We suggest working up to your MRV over the course of three weeks, then overreaching on your fourth week, and then you would follow that up with a de-load on your fifth week. (FYI: when I say de-load, that doesn’t mean a week off. It’s a week at a calculated lesser volume). Then you could start the cycle over.

 

So that should help us in deciding how to maximize the efficiency of our workouts, but how do we parlay that back into progressions? Well, that will help us calculate what the overview of our program should look like. But in the day to day of each of our individual workouts, ON AVERAGE, each workout should have increased volume from the last. That doesn’t mean every single workout, but on average that should be the rule… Increased volume=progression.

 

This part can get pretty technical when it comes to designing your program. But for those of you who aren’t sure exactly what volume is: weight x sets x reps = volume. If you bench 100 pounds for 4 sets of 10, your volume is 4000 lbs. So whether you add 5 pounds next week, or increase that same load for an additional set, your volume is increased. The extra set increases volume a lot more than the 5 pound increase at the same number of sets. So both should be incorporated at different times in the program to ensure you are progressing, but not overreaching too often.

 

Everyone has heard the phrase, “Train insane or remain the same,” right? There’s a little more to it than that, but it’s true. If you train the same, you remain the same. You need an overload to progress. You need to progress to force adaptations. We need adaptations to go to the beach every summer or to leave a competition with something shiny. You have to train harder AND smarter.. We can help with that! Join the Evolution and find the success that so many of our members have already!

 

http://www.sd-evolution.com/services.html

What you need to know about rest day

What you need to know about rest day

rest day

We’ve all seen the funny pictures on Instagram. Rest day… Who needs it? This is becoming a more widely asked, and speculated, question around the fitness community. Routines are being taken to new extremes each day. And this is good, because it means we are pushing our limits to new heights. You can’t discover how far your body can actually go until you push past every threshold. And here comes the but… BUT there are limitations on how long you can push your body that hard.

People have started questioning whether there was any truth to the concept of “overtraining”. That is where these pictures, articles, and discussions gained momentum. A main argument was that if you feel good and you aren’t sore, your recovery time has reduced and you can now workout more frequently on less rest (if any). But there are some other factors being overlooked that don’t have to do with how your muscles are feeling today. Your body is a very, very complicated thing. So I’ll get into what those other factors are in a second but first I want to ask you if you’ve felt any of these lately, or if you remember having any of these after a week where you tried pushing yourself to a new extreme..

Your outsides:

Persistent muscle soreness (not your regular “that was one hell of a workout” soreness but the kind that lasts longer than it was supposed to), elevated resting heart rate, past injuries begin hurting again or you are recognizing new pain, not getting as good of a pump or not feeling as refreshed after a workout (you don’t get that “ahh” moment when you’re done), weight loss, stuck in a plateau (working hard but haven’t made any progress)

Your insides:

Irritability, depression, loss of appetite, loss of motivation, fatigue throughout the day, not mentally sharp- can’t focus and can’t concentrate well, insomnia (this is a big one.. trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.. very restless), lack of interest, getting sick (cold/flu)

These are all signs that you aren’t getting enough rest AKA overtraining! But your body was feeling so good and you thought that removing that rest day was the only way to capitalize on it. Well your body was feeling good because you had a great balance of exercise and rest. Now it’s all exercise and there is no balance.  Your body is constantly being broken down when you workout, but without rest, it doesn’t get to rebuild itself. So let’s breakdown this process. Here is the point of working out in a nutshell. Workout- breakdown body. Rest- recovery and growth. Workout- breakdown body. Rest- recovery and growth. RESULT- a stronger, healthier body. Now here is overtraining in a nutshell. Workout- breakdown body. Workout- breakdown body. Workout- breakdown body. Do you get the picture? There is no rebuild. You are breaking down what is still broken down and actually making yourself WEAKER! Now if that counter-productivity isn’t frustrating, I don’t know what is.

Earlier I mentioned that there was more to this concept that your muscles and your body feeling good. Working out places a HUGE stress on your central nervous system, or CNS. The CNS is responsible for controlling muscular contractions. When this becomes fatigued, it creates a reduction in the output of the motor control regions in the brain. This, in essence, causes a decrease in performance. Every time you move, your brain has nerve impulses generated by chemical activity. After intense training, that neural drive is reduced. So even if your muscles feel great, that workout also took a toll on your CNS.

So all of those “outside” effects may have made sense to you as general side effects of working out, but those “inside” effects may have seemed a little outside the box. Well that’s all tied into everything else that overtraining affects that often gets overlooked. Even something like getting sick seems silly, but when you place that added stress on your body with no recovery, everything starts to breakdown and your immune system gets much weaker, because yet again, YOUR BODY CANT RECOVER WHEN YOU ARE CONSTANTLY BREAKING IT DOWN.

I won’t pretend I’ve never pushed my boundaries and tried to go without rest days. I did. I love pushing my body to new levels. It’s an addiction. I want to see how far I can go in everything I do. And in our minds, taking a day off seems like a wasted day. But we have to remind ourselves, rest is just as important as the workout because the workout is where we break ourselves down, and the rest day is where our bodies recover and get STRONGER. Yep, that lazy day you take every week… That’s the day you are getting better at everything you worked so hard at. That doesn’t mean lay in bed 6 days a week… Balance…

Push your body to it’s limit and find YOUR perfect balance. For myself, and many others, a 3 days on 1 day off schedule is extremely effective. You are still working out 6 days a week, but never more than 3 days in a row. For others, a 2 on 1 off 2 on 2 off schedule works better. As with everything else, we are all created differently with different needs. Play around with it. If you feel great, it’s working.

Until next time,

~Josh

There are Miracles Created by Power-Lifting! But Weight Loss?

There are Miracles Created by Power-Lifting! But Weight Loss?

heavy barbell

When we think of power-lifting, we often think of giant men lifting enormous amounts of weight. So naturally, we correlate heavy weights with big muscles. This is where the “I don’t lift weights because I don’t want to get big” myth came into place… We’ve already touched on this topic plenty and we will save more of these arguments for another day. But today’s topic is power-lifting for weight loss.

To put it simply, the more weight you move, the more calories you burn. Why? Because it requires more work to move more weight. Calories are our bodies’ energy source and those are what we burn to get our bodies to work. You can do dumbbell bench presses with 5 pounders all day, but the results will be limited if you are even lucky enough to see any. Same thing with body-weight squats. They can only get you so far. But load up that bar with 100, 200, even 300 pounds and see what your body can do! This is where the magic happens!

On top of that, a well-designed power-lifting program should be well-rounded. You are hitting your entire body in many fewer exercises, and getting better results from it. Nothing beats a quality, compound movement. Isolation movements have their place, but that place isn’t in an efficient weight-loss program. The truth is that if you have a lot of weight to lose, cable triceps press downs do not belong in your routine. Ab machine crunches don’t either. You should get most of your core work from your basic lifts. I’m not saying you should never do a plank or any core-specific work, but isolation movements (like the machine crunch) should be saved for your fine-tuning phase when you are much closer to your goal.

Let me explain the difference between a compound movement compared to an isolation movement. This should show you why it is so much more effective to incorporate compound movements. For legs: Compound movement-Barbell Squat vs. Isolation movement- Leg Extension. The leg extension is an exercise that is focusing specifically on the quads (the top side of your leg). This movement is performed in complete isolation, meaning no other muscles are required to do any work. The barbell squat is a compound movement that not only incorporates many more muscles in your legs, it actually includes about 75% of the muscles in your body to do some sort of work. Some of the muscles are the prime movers (glutes), others are assisting muscles, and many are stabilizing muscles that engage your core and keep proper movement patterns in tact. Now why would you choose the exercise that only uses one muscle? You would have to do a lot more exercises to engage all the muscles that you would in the squat. So why would you choose the isolation exercise? For one reason and one reason only- because it’s easier! Challenge yourself with the heavier, compound movements and your body will thank you!

To give you an idea of some quality, basic compound lifts, here is what I’m talking about:

Squats, Deadlifts, Bench Press, Bent-Over Row, and Military Press are a great place to start. These are your power-lifting movements at your most basic form. There are plenty of alterations to that, of course. One of my favorites is a clean to press, or for beginners- a regression to (squat to reverse curl to press). This is building strength, requires a lot of work, and is a very efficient total-body movement that will burn a lot of calories.

The biggest component in this program being utilized for weight loss is your nutrition. If you are following the right meal plan and properly designed power-lifting program, you can get absolutely shredded! This stuff works so don’t be afraid to step out of what you think you know, and try something new. Start the new year off right and take some chances! If you train the same, you will remain the same. Nothing is more frustrating than busting your butt and not seeing a difference. So get to it! Check out our site at www.sd-evolution.com or our instagram @sd_evolution for some amazing transformations, and transformations in the process! If you are interested in personal training or your own personalized workout program and meal plan, those are on the site as well! Good luck guys!

 

Until next time,

Josh

 

Everything you need to know to successfully start your Post-Holiday workout reboot!

Everything you need to know to successfully start your Post-Holiday workout reboot!

IMG_0858

It happens to all of us. Ok, if you really want to argue, it happens to 99% of us. The holiday season begins and things get crazy. Our workouts get rescheduled (or maybe one or two are even missed) and our diets become a little more lax… We’re running around getting presents and getting ready for parties and seeing family, and fitness takes a back seat for longer than we planned. We get a little softer. We start watching our results disappear day by day. But there is a light at the end of that tunnel! If you can sneak through that process relatively unscathed, you’re already in good shape. So here we are. We have officially made it past Christmas and we are all staring in the mirror. Now what? Now we get started…

The first thing you need to do is put your workout plan back in focus. Plan out your entire week of workouts and meals. DO NOT WING IT. You will have a very frustrating time getting back into a rhythm if you walk into the gym and plan your workout on the fly. You will walk right back out feeling like you accomplished little to nothing and that is not a positive note to start your system reboot on. Go in with a force. Throw your headphones on and get the job done. You are not there to socialize. You are not there to talk about what you got for Christmas. You are there to get your body back.

You must start by choosing what type of program you are going with. Are you continuing a weight-loss/cutting phase? Are you looking to put some more muscle on? Or do you want to continue a strength training routine? Chances are, regardless of what you are getting back into, you are going to be set back a little bit from where you left off. That’s ok, just record it and use that as a starting point. This is Day 1! Next, you get into the nitty gritty. Sit down and plan each day of your workouts for the entire week and STICK TO IT. If you don’t feel qualified to do so, get some help. The trainer at your gym probably won’t write you a program without you signing up for a personal training package. But if that isn’t in the budget, you have plenty of online options. Here at SD Evolution, we run a New Year’s Special on a very affordable 8 week program, and always offer our regular 12-week Online Trainer and Meal Plan.

Next, get your meals back in check. Meal prep, meal prep, meal prep. I’m sure you have plenty of left overs from the holiday parties… Give them away! Get back to what you know works. Go shopping for the healthy goodies and spend a day preparing it so you can take it to go as you get back to work. If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. There is nothing that sets you back quite as bad as a bad day of eating. Nutrition is 60% to our workouts’ 40%. You can’t out-workout a bad diet, and a couple missed or poor-quality meals creates a bad diet.

Once you have all of this down, you need to remind yourself that this is a process. You will not be at your end-goal next week. So find a plan that you are comfortable with, and complete it. Don’t get through, one, two, three weeks and then quit. That will start a vicious cycle. That’s why it’s important to believe in the program you are about to start. If you trust it, stick with it. If you don’t trust it, don’t start it and find a new one that you do and that you will stick with.

Finally, track your progress. Complete measurements and weigh-ins along the way. You can even take weekly pictures. You may not be able to see the transformation on a day-by-day basis, but the numbers won’t lie.

The most important thing you can do.. Get started and stay dedicated! You are starting for a reason. You have a goal in mind. Get to that goal. It’ll take hard work, but you can achieve anything. I’ve seen incredible transformations throughout my career. Yours can be next!

 

Until next time,

Josh

How Important is your Music to your Workout? You May be Surprised by the Answer.

How Important is your Music to your Workout? You May be Surprised by the Answer.

music blog picture

How many times have you pulled up to the gym, reached to your passenger seat, and realized that your headphones weren’t there. They are still sitting at home on your night stand. Do you turn around and get them? I won’t lie, I’ve gone back for them. It’s not that I hate working out and I need a distraction, but I knew that they helped me take my workouts to the next level. Even while I did this, I didn’t realize the science behind it that actually made my case even stronger.

There are many benefits to listening to music while you workout. For starters, and to cover the most obvious first, music is a distraction to the work you are doing. It produces a lower perceived effort for the workout you are putting yourself through. The music drowns out that little voice in the back of your head telling you to stop and telling you it’s too hard. As we get more tired, we turn the volume up because that voice gets louder. But it doesn’t stop there. University conducted research concluded that music boosts your endurance by 15%. 15%!!! It does this by improving your “feeling states” while working out. It helps us derive more pleasure from what we are doing. By doing this, it creates an atmosphere for us that allows us to workout to near exhaustion VOLUNTARILY!

The man conducting this research, Dr. Costas Karageorghis, had this to say: “The synchronous application of music resulted in much higher endurance while the motivational qualities of the music impacted significantly on the interpretation of fatigue symptoms right up to the point of voluntary exhaustion.” Meaning- music has a “magical” effect on us as we exercise and lets us go much farther than we could if we did not use it.

However, all music is not created equal. The research further shows that the optimum music for working out is between 120 and 140 beats per minute. This is faster paced, but not too fast. It’s a pace-setter for us as we go. It’s what keeps us moving. We synchronize our bodies to the music to create the ultimate workout experience.

Not buying it? Put it to the test. Workout with and without your headphones. Which workout went better? How hard did you push yourself in each? Give us a shout and let us know!