Recommended supplements

A measure of safety is to look for the designation “USP” on the label. A multivitamin that meets the requirements of the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) meets the standards and ensures the product is pure and actually contains the listed ingredients. For information about supplements, https://examine.com is a must-read before buying any product. – Multivitamin Dose: 1 serving Purpose: Cover any potential nutrient deficiencies You don’t need to go expensive here. Look for products that have close to 100% RDA on most vitamins and minerals. Avoid ones that have too little or too much (common in bodybuilding brands). Pay specific attention to Vitamin K, Magnesium, Calcium and Zinc, which is what most people lack. If you’re a woman, make sure it has a good amount of Iron. And if you’re a men, make sure it doesn’t have too much. – Vitamin D3 Dose: 2000-5000+ UI (depending on sun exposure) Purpose: Eliminate Vitamin D3 deficiency (which is almost inevitable without supplementation) If you can, take a blood test to see what your vitamin D levels are. Your blood levels should be between 35-40 ng/ml. As a general rule, it takes 100 IU (2.5 mcg) of Vitamin D per day to raise levels by 1 ng/mL. If you want a more accurate calculation, you can use this: http://www.vitamindservice.com/node/87. It’s still not a perfect formula as different people metabolize the vitamin differently, but it’s a good guide. If you can, take it with 100 mcg of Vitamin K2 as MK-7, or look for a product that has both. This is recommended but not critical. – Fish oil (Omega 3) Dose: 2-3g of combined...

It’s easy to criticize lack of effort

It’s easy for us that are within fitness to criticize people who are sedentary and/or overweight.   The fact that we train, gives us a subconscious superiority regarding health. We’re healthy (at least healthier) than them. I make the sacrifice, and they don’t. I work hard and put effort. They don’t.   However, I believe in many cases, that’s a lie you tell yourself. You don’t actually sacrifice that much. You do it because you enjoy it. Either you enjoy the process, or you enjoy the benefit. You put effort because that gives you results you like independent of health (getting stronger and/or bigger).   The point is, you like what you do. You like powerlifting, bodybuilding or whatever.   A problem with these people that are overweight and sedentary, is that they don’t enjoy it, and that makes things infinitely harder. You are healthy because you train, but you don’t train because you want to be healthy, it’s a convenient by-product.   If training didn’t make you healthy, but something else did that you didn’t enjoy. Would you make ballet or zumba part of your routine, if that’s what it took for you to be healthy? I think all of us in the fitness industry would like to say we do. But would we really? Maybe not.   So while this word has an extremely negative connotation, you have the “privilege” of liking a type of activity that improves your health. Some people may not have that luck, and what they need to do is not pleasable to them.   I think this is important to think about...

A few examples of Sampling Bias in Fitness.

I originally posted this on Facebook, just wanted to share my thoughts. Since the post was well received, thought I’d make a post here in the website as well:   A particular bias I find very interesting is the selection bias. I think in this case it may be called sampling bias. I’m not sure, but I’m not too interested in semantics.   I’m going to give one example of it. This includes 2 people: Alan Aragon and Spencer Alan. I chose to not hide their names so the examples can be better understood as I figure most people reading this know them. This isn’t calling them out or anything of the sort, I have a huge respect for both, and they both know it.   The first example is the idea that doctors often give bad advice, usually specific to training or nutrition. This topic arrives often, and it has come up in threads containing both Alan and Spencer. When that happens, they usually clash. I’ve seen this at least 4-5 times over the years. Spencer laughs at the idea that doctors aren’t knowledgeable in nutrition. I’ve seen him argue that if that were the case, they wouldn’t be able to pass their degree (or a similar argument, can’t recall the exact details). Alan on the other hand, believes this is false on a general level, and believes most doctors are ignorant about nutrition. Of course, Alan agrees that some doctors are exceptional, but ignorance is the norm. Meanwhile, Spencer agrees that some doctors are exceptional, but argues that adequate knowledge is the norm. Who’s right? I don’t...

Alcohol & Performance

Alcohol: the most popular drug on the planet. Likely loved for its anxiety-reducing effect, there are records of its use as far back as 10,000 BC, and it’s estimated that on average, each adult consumes approximately 4.3 L of pure alcohol per year. People have called it the 4th macro. It provides your body with 7 calories per gram, but because it isn’t essential for survival it’s not typically mentioned alongside protein, fat, and carbs, as it’s not commonly found in food. Alcohol has no nutritional value aside from proving calories. From this alone, alcohol doesn’t seem a great choice for health nor performance. You’re consuming calories without any vitamins, minerals or fiber. This is especially problematic if you’re dieting or struggle to keep your caloric intake low. Also, alcohol is often drunk at social events (which already promote overeating by themselves). Alcohol affects not only hunger but impulse control as well. Being even mildly intoxicated makes you more prone to go off-track on your diet, and consume more calories than you should. Studies show that alcohol intake blunts fat burning, and it’s considered fat promoting by the general population. However, alcohol by itself doesn’t make you fat. The body simply considers it a poison and has priority for metabolism. It suppresses fat oxidation, but also carb and protein oxidation. During the time alcohol is being burnt, nothing is happening, and none of the alcohol gets stored. Some may argue this is bad since we could have burnt fat during this period, but such short time frames have little relevance when considering net fat gain or loss at the end of...

The most common newbie mistakes in the big 3 and how to fix them

There are a few mistakes beginners tend to make when doing the squat, bench and deadlift. This doesn’t mean everyone has these issues, but just they just seem the most common based on my experience. This is obviously a bit biased, and may be specific to the population I work with. Also in this context, I define beginners by people who have received basic instruction on how to execute the lifts, but have little experience and practice doing them. Squat Squat is usually a tough movement for beginners. People are not used to the movement pattern and being in a seated position most of their lives certainly doesn’t help. The most common mistake is usually leaning forward on the way up. This may indicate a quad weakness, however, with beginners it’s usually not the case, it’s simply a matter of technique. It usually occurs because people aren’t tight enough on the bottom, and easily lose posture when coming up. This often happens from rushing the descent. There’s no rush, take your time, brace your core as hard as possible, and sink in. After coming up, maintain that tightness. It helps to consciously think about not letting your chest collapse. A common cue is “chest up”, although I’ve found “driving the bar back” to be more successful. Pause squats and pin squats may be a good tool for reinforcing maintaining tightness and proper position.   Bench In the bench, I was unsure if I should put tightness at the bottom or flaring/tucking the elbows. Since I’d say it’s about 50/50, I chose the latter so the entire article isn’t about tightness. When...

Why body composition is under-rated for Powerlifting

I rarely see body composition being talked in Powerlifting. Sometimes it’s even discarded completely. How fat one is seems to be considered largely irrelevant, and all that matters is how much weight you can lift. That’s all well and good, if you’re a Super Heavy Weight, which is over 120-140kg (265-308lbs) depending on the fed. For everyone else, you should get as strong as possible, but within the weight class that makes you the most competitive. And that might mean you need to lose some fat. A lot of my clients that compete in Powerlifting get a bit confused when I recommend they should try to lose some fat if they’re a bit overweight. Powerlifting is a sport of strength, why does it matter if I have a bit of extra fat? In fact, despite being more stereotype than anything, Powerlifting is said to be a sport where you can be fat and not worry about it. There’s even an old joke that if you can’t be lean enough for bodybuilding, you can just do Powerlifting and have an excuse to be fat. The problem with this thinking is that Powerlifting is a sport with weight classes. Necessarily, you will compete with people of a similar weight to you. The strongest among that group will win. The reason why your body composition (and therefore your weight) matters so much is due to the fact that you’re competing with people of similar weight. So if you’re fat and your competitor is lean, since you have a similar weight, by default, he will have more muscle than you. And muscle is...

What shoes should you wear for strength training?

This is far from being a revolutionary post, but I wanted to address it regardless, since this topic arises often with clients. What shoes should you wear for lifting? Do you need any special shoes? First, it depends on the type lifting you’re doing. For this context, I’ll assume you’re doing heavy compound movements for the sake of general strength and hypertrophy. In general, you don’t need any specific shoe. However, you want a shoe that is compact, tight, and most importantly, non-compressible. The latter being very, very important. So any shoe that meets this requirements is fine. You don’t want a running shoe. They compress with weight, which is bad. It makes you unstable and leaks power. There’s also a specific type of shoe, called “Olympic lifting shoes”. They have a raised wheel, and allows you to stay more upright and go deeper in your squat. But that’s the extend of their use, unless you do Olympic Lifting, and they’re usually not cheap. If you want to get them, feel free to, but they’re not a requirement. It’s an extra if you want to give your squat a little bonus. Some people even prefer to squat with a flat heel, and dislike olympic shoes. But I’d say they’re a minority. If you’re looking for specific recommendations: If you want a shoe to workout overall, you don’t need anything special, as long as it’s non-compressible and with a flat sole like mentioned. But the “Converse Chuck Taylor All Star” is a popular choice. It does the job well and it’s very cheap. You can also get the Reebok Crossfit...

The benefits of having a coach

I’ve seen several times in forums and facebook groups, people mocking trainers and coaches. Sometimes online coaches, sometimes even in person ones. “Why would you ever need a trainer when there’s so much free info on the internet?” I’d guess most of you disagree, and rightfully so, but nevertheless, they have a point. Why would someone indeed need a coach, if you can just search and find all the information you need on the internet? First and foremost, this is not an advertisement for my services. The goal of this post isn’t to sell myself, this applies to every coach and every coaching endeavor. So, why would you need a coach? What’s the benefit of having one versus going on your own? There are 6 main benefits: 1) Advice/information Nowadays, you can search for literally anything on the internet. However, without a solid foundation of knowledge, it’s incredibly hard to know what’s actually good information or not. Yes, you can search “How to lose weight” on Google, and you will have tons of blogs and forum posts popping up. But you will quickly notice, not all of them say the same thing. One might say you need to increase protein, another might say you need to stop eating carbs, and another one might say you just need to do high intensity cardio. So who’s right? Who should you trust? This is the problem. Information is easy to get and free, but how can you know the information you’re getting is accurate? Even by yourself, you can get a rough idea, by reading books, scientific papers and following the world’s...

Calories and macros mismatch

I get this question a lot from people who recently started to track their calories and macro-nutrients: Why don’t my macros equal my calories? Carbs and protein contain 4 calories per gram, and fat contains 9. So if you consumed, for example, 20g of protein, 30g of carbs, and 10g of fat, you should have consumed 290 calories (Protein: 4 x 20 = 80, Carbs: 4 x 30 = 120, and Fat: 9 x 10 = 90). But a lot of times, the math doesn’t end up right. It might say you consumed 250 or 300 calories, so what gives? There’s several possible causes: 1) Everything in nutritional labels are rounded, therefore, it has a slight margin of error. On top of that, many websites (like MyFitnessPal), also round their own numbers. So by rounding it twice, when you add a lot of food and items, that error can become significant enough to be noticeable. 2) Sometimes insoluble fiber isn’t counted. Some products and some countries don’t list insoluble fiber in the total amount of calories because it’s not absorbed. So that will throw the carb/calorie math off. 3) The numbers on a specific food are wrong. This is quite common in websites like MyFitnessPal, where the database of the foods is created from the users themselves. This means that if the user introduced the nutritional information wrong, you’re using the wrong numbers. So what should you do about it? For the most part: nothing. For the first 2 reasons, it won’t be relevant, and as long as you’re consistent in your diet, it won’t matter. However, you should...

How many days should you train per week?

I feel this topic is hugely misunderstood. When people think about how many times you train per week, they usually associate it with how much progress they can make, and the recovery associated with it. For example, most believe going to the gym 5 times per week is better than 4, and 4 is better than 3. But if you go 5 times per week, it will be harder to recover than 4, and 4 being harder than 3. In a practical sense, it’s close, but when creating a program, there’s more than meets the eye and it’s important to understand the implications of it to make sure we have a good training frequency adequate to the situation. The amount of training sessions per week is largely dependent on 3 factors: 1) Training age 2) Commitment 3) Preference 1) Why training age? Because of diminishing returns, the more you train, the harder it is to progress. In order to continue to make progress, overtime, your overall volume is going to have to increase. And the more volume increases, the more frequency is needed, to split that volume. For example, if Bob needs 6 sets of squats per week to progress, he can 2 sessions consisting of 3 sets each. However, John, who is more advanced than Bob, might need 15 sets of squats per week to progress. He can still do 2 sessions, for example 1 with 7 sets, and another with 8. But it’s a lot easier to add another session, and now he only has to do 5 sets per session. This is a HUGE over-simplification, but...