20in30 – Day 2 Squat Day

Today was squat day.

Even though the main goal of this program is progressing the bench press, I don’t want to lose strength in the other big lifts (squat and deadlift.) It is usually best to have one main goal; because of that I will only be squatting and deadlifting once a week. Squat I usually squat 2 to 3 times a week and at one point I squatted everyday for 45 days. So the low frequency is odd to me but I don’t want to burn myself out on squats and not be able to hit my bench numbers the next day.

I did 3 sets of 3 on high bar squats and I chose high bar for a couple of different reasons. I’m not nearly as strong with a high bar squat as low bar so this gives me a chance to work on the technique and build strength in this style of squat. Also, because it is a lighter load it’s less systemic stress on my body, which hopefully will allow full recovery for my next bench press day (AKA Wednesday.)

 

 

 

 

Here’s day 2 of the program.

High Bar Squat: 3×3

Bulgarian Split Squat: 3×8

Donkey Calf Raise: 4×20 (Raised the weight every set)

Ab Wheel Roll Out: 3×10 (Best ab exercise ever!)

 

Hit a fairly easy 3×3 at 275 today and it felt good. Looking forward to the speed bench day tomorrow! Getting better everyday.

@livingHumanAgain on instagram

 

Day one of the program here!!!

Advertisements

20in30 – Day 1

Today I started my 20in30 program that I have been working on. I’m trying to add 20 pounds to my bench press in 30 days because unfortunately my bench press is woefully sub par.

So, today was my first day and I feel pretty good afterward. Hit my numbers for the day which is really important because today was my “intensity day.” Now contrary to popular belief this has nothing to do with HIIT or how many ounces of sweat I lost. Intensity in the weight room refers to the amount of weight lifted. So today my goal was to lift a heavy weight for low repetitions. This could be compared to the Westside or Conjugate method of a “Max Effort Day” but instead of a 1 rep max (1RM) I worked up to a 3RM and then took 90% of that for 3 sets of 3. I can’t take credit for this idea because Travis Mash of MashElite.com uses it all the time in his programs.

Since this was my intensity day I didn’t want to do a ton of benching volume (to be explained later this week) mainly because I have a volume day scheduled later in the week. So I did some direct arm work instead. I have avoided direct arm work for around 2 years and it’s time to get some horseshoes! TricepsMy triceps are fairly weak and I believe that is contributing to my poor bench press performance so I attacked those suckers using Kris Gethin’s DTP method. DTP is a pyramid scheme. I’m using his method to add size to my arms. It utilizes extremely high volume and low intensity and I need some actual muscle growth in my arms because a bigger muscle has the potential to be a stronger muscle.

 

 

 

So without further adieu,

 

Super Set 1

Bench Press: Work up to 3RM – Then take 90% of the 3Rm for 3×3

Cable Row: 1 set of 10 for every set of bench press, including warm ups.

 

Super Set 2

Hammer Curls: Sets of 50, 40, 30

DB Tricep Extensions: Sets of 50, 40, 30

 

Super Set 3

Cable Curl w/ Iso Hold: 3×20

Cable Tricep Pushdown W/ Hold: 3×20

 

So I hit 195 for a solid triple and did 3 sets of 3 with 175 for bench press. It took me around 10 or 11 sets including warm ups so I did 10 or 11 sets of cable rows.

I’ll try and post again with tomorrow’s workout, make yourself better and live human.

@livingHumanAgain

Wellness – Resources to Better Yourself

Wellness can be tricky to define but I think we would all agree that is vital to us living a long, happy, successful life. The definition that I find most useful is from the National Wellness Institute. It says “Wellness is an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.” This is a very broad definition and I think that’s why I like it. It’s so much more than physical health!

Part of wellness is striving to further yourself intellectually and physically. In some ways my blog can help accomplish those goals but there are also other resources out there. Books, podcasts, seminars, conferences, and education, to name a few. I wanted to list some of my favorites and hear yours. Many of the resources on my list are health related but certainly not all.

WEBSITES – These are my go-to websites for reading material!

  • BarbellShrugged.com is a fantastic resource for all things fitness but they also delve into other topics like goal setting. The Shrugged team has been doing a lot of changes of late and are even working on something called Barbell University, which I am ecstatic about. Their website has a plethora of information on it and several different training programs. You can purchase and get access to the 6 month Muscle Gain Challenge as well as Barbell Shredded and Barbell Bikini.
  • JTSStrength.com is home to Juggernaut Training Systems and the juggernaut himself, Chad Wesley Smith.ChadSmith With a 2,325 pound total, Chad knows his stuff, and the articles posted to his website are fantastic! His team continually provides great free information. He also has several digital resources like A Thoughtful Pursuit of Strength and The Juggernaut Method 2.0. This might seem like a powerwebsite but they have articles on mobility, weightlifting, nutrition and several other topics.
  •  MashElite.com is home to the Travis Mash who has not only been coaching for 21 years, but at one time broke the world record pound for pound total. He broke Ed Coan’s record, the greatest of all time (the GOAT) . Clearly, Mash knows a ton about powerlifting but he also was a great Olympic lifter and his Olympic athletes are consistently winning competitions. The website has new articles being posted all the time and Mash posts new FREE training programs all the time. You have to at least check out the website.

PODCASTS – I have turned into quite the podcast junky. I love that I can acquire new information while driving around all day. Now I am constantly gleaning information from people via these great podcasts

  • Barbell Shrugged Podcast I know, these guys again? Yes! This is the podcast that started it all for me. Originally it felt a little more like a crossfit podcast but as the show matured, it progressed into so much more than just that. They have had some amazing guests like Cory Gregory, Christmas Abbott, Travis Mash, Brian Mackenzie, Rich Froning, and even Dmitry Klokov.

bb shrugged

  • Barbell Life Podcast This is led by Travis Mash of com. I really enjoy this podcast because it is just a bunch of good dudes who really care. While the show might lack some in audio quality, it excels in content quality. They answer questions, have big time guests, and are always willing to learn themselves. This podcast is honestly, a breath of fresh air.
  • Industrial Strength Show – Joe DeFranco is THE man when it comes to strength and conditioning for sports. joe-defrancos-complete-3-week-strength-reboot-graphics-1He has trained more NFL players than can be numbered and his knowledge and experience is vast. I like this podcast because Joe is an incredibly passionate person and it comes through in this podcast. He has had many great guests but I also enjoy the episodes where he is by himself. He is extremely consistent and always posts a new show on Thursday morning. I have usually finished it the very same day because it’s that good! He also has worked out a deal with CBS, which should propel the show even further!
  • Tim Ferriss Show – This might be the most interesting of all the podcasts. If you are not familiar with Tim Ferriss than come out from underneath the rock, Patrick! He has written several books; The 4 Hour Body, 4 Hour Chef, and the 4 Hour Workweek. I love this show because every guest is so different! I have learned about cancer research, hip hop music, foreign languages, kettlebell swings, and how to answer emails most efficiently. Ferriss is constantly speaking with people who are trying to push the limits of human performance, and who doesn’t want that? If you haven’t checked out this podcast yet, you should.
  • Dave Ramsey – We have officially and completely veered off the path of fitness but honestly, I don’t care. This post is about wellness, remember? Dave Ramsey is a financial genius, and it’s not because he can teach you how to play the stock market. He is a budgeting mastermind and genuinely cares for people and their wellbeing. If you are in some financial woes, consider the path of Dave Ramsey. His baby steps can be life changing and although his methods might seem extreme, his results speak for themselves. He also had produced a really terrific app called Every Dollar

BOOKS – Let me start this section by saying that these are literally my three favorite books. I think they are the most tremendous resources, especially for those of us who are in pain.

  • Becoming a Supple Leopard Kelly Starrett is the author and he is no joke. His doctorate is in physical therapy but he was also an Olympic rower and now owns Crossfit San Fransisco, however he is known everywhere as a movement guru. I first heard about him through MobilityWod.com and his youtube videos. His videos not only show you how to achieve a stretch or exercise that can make you feel better but he also explains the why and how. I don’t know if you can tell, I love learning, and I have learned so much about my body through Kelly Starrett. The book is excellent because it talks about how he performs self care, how to do every exercise known to mankind, and hundreds of exercises that can help improve mobility and ease pain. Dr. Starrett says that you should be able to treat about 90% of your own aches and pains. That is incredible and so is this book. I would definitely recommend the 2nd edition as it is much better organized. Both are incredible though.
  • The Roll Model – Jill Miller might be a Yogi, but she won’t put you in any twisted and painful positions.JillMiller4 She is actually doing just the opposite, trying to heal your movement. Musculoskeletal disease affects 1 out of every 2 persons over the age of 18! That is insane; and I would be willing to bet it is only going to get worse in this country, if we don’t do something to change it! Jill utilizes her Yoga Tune Up balls to help release all the fascia in your body so you can move better and feel great. I know it works because I have two of those balls and I want to get more of them! To me, this was an easier read than Supple Leopard and I absolutely adored the sequences in the back that help release tension and stress in different parts of my body.
  • BibleOkay, stay with me for just a second! This is hands down the book that releases the most pain in my life. No matter what you believe, most people would agree that relieving emotional strain is extremely important. The spiritual benefits are off the charts. Don’t believe me? I dare you to read some every day for a week.

For thousands of years humans have strived to increase their knowledge, intellect, and power. This is a piece of the wellness puzzle and now you have seen a glimpse into my own endeavor.

How have you been trying to better yourself? What books or resources have you been using to improve yourself? Flowing water brings life, stagnant water is riddled with disease. So keep cultivating who you are. Live like a human and progress forward, onto great things.

Comment with your favorite resources and how you are moving forward!

Follow me on Instagram @LivingHumanAgain

Nutrition – Low Hanging Fruits Part 2

So hopefully you read part 1 about how you should erase the soda and replace with water. Not to mention erasing the fried foods and replacing with grilled. I called these the low hanging fruits of nutrition because it’s the easy stuff. Anyone can do it and it is not supposed to be that hard. I want to continue that conversation so we can get healthier.

So what should we Erase/Replace next?

Erase the processed foods. Why? Well, there is a laundry list. Let’s begin, shall we?

  1. Trans Fat is the worst fat ever. Remember our talk about fried foods? Well this fat likes to creep into other processed foods as well. However, it sometimes likes to hide in disguise under the name “partially hydrogenated,” “hydrogenated,” or “fractionated.” Oh and remember that on the ingredient list, the sooner the name appears, the more of that ingredient is in the “food.” Yeah, I used those quotations on purpose.
  2. High Fructose Corn Syrup is also about the worst sugar you can digest, and not just because it’s a crappy form of sugar. It can singlehandedly raise your chance of heart disease, diabetes and can even encourage overeating! That’s crazy! More on sugar later…
  3. Sodium levels are insane in processed foods. Now salt is healthy, but not that much salt. Read those labels and be afraid, very afraid. Herbs are expensive and salt is cheap, which is why it is used to enhance the flavor of a frozen meal that will probably still be “edible” in 2050.

Check out livestrong.com for more on processed foods!

Replace with real food. What do I mean by real food? I’m not specifically talking about organic food, even though it’s great. I’m talking about single ingredients that you can pronounce and when you buy something that has an ingredient list, make sure it’s five ingredients or less.

I once read that if you stay on the outside edges of the grocery store, you are more likely to buy healthier items. Don’t walk down those aisles, it’s not worth it. Those processed foods have little to no nutritional value while fruit, vegetables, beef, chicken, milk, eggs and even rice are full of vitamins and minerals. Everything you eat either makes you healthier, or sicker. Remember, there is no Switzerland when it comes to food.

Erase all that sugar! Okay, most people know that sugar isn’t healthy. Snickers are widely accepted as delicious and incredibly fattening. You might think it’s just because snickers have 250 calories in a bar or 170 in four miniatures! It’s also because of how sugar works in your body. There are lots of types of sugars like glucose, fructose, sucrose, dextrose, and lactose! Basically, everything that ends in “ose” (Read more at this great blog nerdfitness.com).

So when you eat sugar, either from the snickers or the entire box of chocolate covered strawberries, your body can do two things with that glucose in your blood stream. Use it for energy or convert to fat, known as triglycerides.

This is where insulin comes into play. When your body detects sugar in the blood stream your pancreas releases the hormone insulin. Then it attaches to the glucose and takes it to your muscles and converts it to glycogen or takes the glucose to fat cells…those nasty triglycerides again.

The part that really stinks is when you bombard your body with a ton of sugar, your body sends out a lot of insulin and it doesn’t always get the balance right. So your body might release too much insulin so now your blood sugar drops drastically and you crash. In fact, you crash so hard you want more sugar for energy! Thus starts a vicious cycle.

Replace the sugar. Hopefully you have already replaced the soda with water. Those sugary snacks can be replaced with healthy nuts like almonds, walnuts, and brazil nuts. If you are craving something sweet check out this banana ice cream recipe. The point is actually not to replace all the sugar with other things but to lower your overall intake. Some sugar isn’t going to kill you, but let’s be honest, you are probably eating too much and you don’t even realize it.

There is a bit of theme running throughout this post. Living healthier means eating real foods with real nutrients. You have to start taking your nutrition into your own hands. There is no reason you can’t live a long healthy life. I can’t time travel but maybe if I make healthier choices, I will extend my time on this earth. Seems like a goal worthy of a human.

Until Next Time!

Follow me on Instagram @livinghumanagain

Nutrition – Banana Ice Cream (Sorta…)

Ice cream is absolutely delicious but not exactly the healthiest of snacks. Luckily, there are some healthier alternatives. Although, I can’t take credit for this recipe because a friend of mine who happens to be a vegan told me about this (thanks Madeline).

Let’s get to the recipe!

Blog

Cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, some leftover walnuts and of course the banana.

The first step is to freeze the banana. I usually cut it into small pieces so it will work well in the food processor. You could always go primal and break it up with your hands, but I elected for a knife today. (Never mind mind that I don’t know what year it is)

Once you have frozen the banana you can put in your food processor. If you don’t have one a blender will probably work as well.

banana 4

Now you get to add your ingredients! Vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg! Feel free to add as much or as little as you like.

I used 1/2 tsp of vanilla and several dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Now, it’s time to blend into that creamy vegan soft serve!

Now spoon out that goodness!

Banana 10Banana 11

Add the nuts or whatever topping you prefer!

Banana 12

Now you get to enjoy a healthy, cool, refreshing snack that leaves you with no guilt!

There are plenty of ways to change this up. You can add a little milk (almond or coconut are delicious) when you blend it up to add more creaminess. You can also add in frozen blueberries, or my personal favorite, raspberries.

This is the base of the banana ice cream, don’t be afraid to experiment and add ingredients. You are human after all, we like to try new things from time to time.

Until next time!

LIFESTYLE – Dreams, Resolutions, and Goals

Dreams, resolutions, and goals. What’s the difference between these three? Why does it matter? I probably should have posted this on January 1st because it has that New Year’s resolutions feel to it. The truth is that goals should not only be set on at the beginning of the year. They can be set at any time and you need to have goals!

“Dream big.” “Never let go of your dreams.” “Dare to dream big.” “If you can dream it, you can do it.” These all sound nice and incredibly motivating and I suppose they can be. However, to me they set up a false reality. I think there is a step missing and it is vital! At your first job, you don’t become the boss the next day. In between scrubbing toilets and becoming the manager you have to work hard and prove yourself worthy. When you register for college you don’t automatically get to graduate. There are some steps in between that must be accomplished before you get all the glory of walking a stage in a dress and a ridiculous hat with a dangling tassel.

Dreams are just that, dreams. You have to take that idea, which might spark a passion or a dream and try to turn it into a reality. You need to determine the next steps to accomplish your dream. When that happens, your silly little dream has now become a goal, and that is a very good thing!

So you now you have a goal but you need to get smart about this! Not that kind of smart, (sorry, Steven Carell) this S.M.A.R.T. which stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic,  and timely. Now just hear me out, this is not beginning of my self-help book but this is important.

This past year I had a goal to squat and deadlift 365 pounds respectively. My goal was:

  • Specific: It was precisely 365 lbs. not, “squat more weight.”
  • Measurable: Throughout the year, I could squat and then know how close I was to my goal.
  • Attainable: I knew that I could dedicate at least 4 days a week to working out in the gym and from everything I had read, that seemed like enough to accomplish my goal of 365.
  • Realistic: The most I had ever squatted was around 325 at the beginning of 2015. That would be a 40 lb. increase in 12 months, or 3.33 lbs. per month. That definitely seemed realistic to me!
  • Timely: I had to put a time limit on my goal otherwise there is no motivation to accomplish the 365 squat. My goal was a yearlong goal but I had some smaller goals along the way. For instance, I wanted to squat 345 by summer.

Now here’s the funny thing…I didn’t actually intentionally do this the s.m.a.r.t. way  but it happened to follow that model.

Here is what I actually did to accomplish my goal.

  1. WRITE IT – I wrote it down on an index card and it lived on my night stand for a whole year. This either shows you my dedication or laziness when it comes to cleaning. Either way I was able to look back at my goal all throughout the year and which proved to be incredibly motivating.
  2. PLAN IT – I decided I was going to do some research on how to increase my squat numbers. I looked at several different lifting programs and also read a ton about eating to get stronger. I utilized two main training programs for 2015. I used Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program. I bought the eBook online at amazon 5/3/1 and his 2nd book Beyond 5/3/1. Both books are tremendous resources, I have read almost every article of his on com. 5/3/1 was extremely beneficial, especially during my busy times at work. The program doesn’t totally destroy you and it also makes sense if time in the gym is becoming an issue. I also utilized Cory Gregory’s Squat Every Day program. That made the single biggest leap in my squat training. I did that over the summer when I had more time and it was totally worth it! More on squatting every day another time.
  3. EXECUTE IT – Your plan isn’t worth much if you can’t execute. This is the hardest part but I also knew what I was capable of. I know getting in the gym four times a week was achievable. Getting stronger, losing weight, or gaining weight is always easier and more feasible when you are consistent.

Humans have been accomplishing great things throughout history (building the pyramids, going to the moon, creating the Xbox one) and you should too! What’s your goal? Do you have a plan? Make one! It’s worth it. Your journey to becoming healthier is only a dream but you can make it into a goal which leads to the realization of it. So live like a human and undertake something, something big – bigger than you can dream, achieve a goal.

 

Follow me @LivingHumanAgain on Instragram

Nutrition – Low Hanging Fruit Pt. 1

In my original blog post, Strength, it’s important, I said that one of the topics that I wanted to discuss and share about is nutrition. I think it is extremely important to understand nutrition but also to be able to apply this knowledge in your food choices. You can have all the knowledge in the world but if you don’t actually buy the right groceries or the right meal at a restaurant, what’s the point? The fact of the matter is, talking about good nutrition and practicing good nutrition are two entirely different things. There are so many directions and tangents I could take this post to but I will try to keep it focused on what I would call the “low hanging fruits” for losing weight and living healthier. I may not focus on all the specifics right now but hopefully I will go into more depth in the future.

Usually when people talk about nutrition their goal is to lose weight. My goal is to be healthy, which might also mean that I need to lose some weight. However, I am currently trying to get bigger and stronger which is rather contrary to weight loss but not at the expense of my health. I believe that my body is a temple, which stems from my belief in Jesus. Even if you don’t believe what I believe, please understand that you only have one body and you should try to protect it. Living healthier means that you can live longer, feel better, enjoy life more, and even have lower doctor bills (WOOHOO!)

So what are these healthy low hanging fruits? (No, not those oranges) Let’s erase and replace that crappy unhealthy food for something healthier!

Tier I Fruits

  • Erase all the soda! This stuff is killer and you can google a million reasons that it’s deadly but let’s start with this simple fact; It’s sugar, which is probably going to be converted into fat and they are empty calories. All I mean by empty calories is there is no nutritional value to what you are drinking! Also, wouldn’t you want to eat your calories instead? Me too.
  • Replace with Good ol’ fashioned water. Boring, right? Well the truth is that your body needs water desperately to operate and function well. It also doesn’t have to be gross tasting. Add lemon, lime, slices of strawberry or orange. I personally love Joe Defranco’s meathead lemonade. It’s comprised of water, lemon juice and pink Himalayan sea salt, which is filled with micronutrients. This is essentially zero calories and actually has a nutritional benefit. Pretty cool, huh? Check out Joe DeFranco at DeFrancosTraining for training information and nutrition

 

  • Erase those fried foods. Most people have some awareness that fried foods are not healthy but you may not know why. I think there are two major reasons you should be aware of but this is not exhaustive by any means. The 1st problem is in foods like french fries, tater tots, and fried chicken. There is almost no nutritional value in these foods, whereas sweet potatoes have nutrients your body needs like beta-carotene. Now you might say, well isn’t chicken a healthy lean meat? Well, yes it is but grilled chicken would be much healthier because it doesn’t contain all the trans fat that fried chicken does. This brings us to my 2nd point on why fried foods suck. Trans fat is the WORST! Trans fatty acids (trans fat) is horribly unhealthy. Now first let me say that I think fat can be extremely healthy and beneficial in essentially every diet. However, trans fat is never healthy. It lowers your good cholesterol (HDL) and raises your bad cholesterol (LDL). Read what the American Heart Association has to say about it! (heart.org) Not to mention it is adding calories with no nutritional benefit! Are you starting to see a pattern? You can eat food with nutritional benefit or something that is harmful with basically no nutrients.
  • Replace with grilled foods. By grilling, baking or even sautéing your meats and veggies you can still reap the nutritional benefits the product without having to add all the nasty trans fat and it can still taste good! This is why seasoning is so important in healthy cooking. When you don’t have all that nasty but delicious trans-fat, seasoning becomes paramount and honestly more enjoyable. Check out Flavor God for some great all in seasonings that are delicious and really healthy! There are also some delicious and healthy fats that you can add like olive oil and coconut oil that provide nutrients and many hormonal benefits. Olive oil has even been shown to help people with type 2 diabetes. Your body needs those fats to produce testosterone which is incredibly important for men but also women!

 

These are my Tier 1 Fruits to healthier nutrition. It’s not rocket science and it’s only two steps. Try it out! Dallas and Melissa Hartwig really opened my eyes in their book It Starts with Food (amazon link! It Starts with Food). They said that everything you eat has a negative or positive influence on your body. There are no neutral foods – there is no Switzerland! This really opened my eyes to what I was putting in my mouth. If you focus on trying to eat nutrient dense foods as opposed to foods and drinks that are nothing but empty calories, then you will become healthier. Simple as that. No crazy diets or supplements, this is a first step to living more human. Our bodies need nutrients and lots of them! Take a step and reach for these two simple fruits.

Follow me on Instagram @LivingHumanAgain

Comment with ideas for future posts!