TAKU Interview at Breaking Muscle

Hey Gang,

Check out my featured interview along with some of my  S&C programming over at Breaking Muscle. Thanks go to Becca Borawski, Managing Editor, for doing an awesome job over there.

Thanks Becca!!



Daily Practice

Hidden in your daily routine are many opportunities to sneak in a little fitness. Here are five simple ideas that will improve your fitness in no time.

    1. challenge your balance: When you are getting dressed in the morning or brushing your teeth etc, try balancing on one foot. You’ll be surprised how challenging this can be if you are not used to it. As our bodies attempt to remain stable, lots of little muscles are working to keep us upright.
    1. Rub-a-dub: After you shower, give yourself a vigorous rub down with a good towel. It’s like getting a massage and stimulates blood flow to all those tired muscles aiding in recovery.
    1. Take the stairs: Avoid elevators and escalators for short trips. When you are on those stairs, take them two at a time. Don’t just trudge along in slow motion, move briskly.
    1. Lift things: Don’t just slide and shove stuff around, pick them up. Avoid the easy way when moving stuff at home or at the office. Remember to bend your knees fully and keep your back straight when lifting things off the floor.
    1. Welcome the opportunity to walk: Look for ways which can add a few blocks of walking to your daily routine rather then ways to avoid walking. Keep a brisk pace and breathe deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth.

By making just these few simple changes to your daily routine you will find that you feel better in no time. Remember when it comes to fitness, a little bit of something is better then a lot of nothing.



Stop making excuses, and get to work!

TAKU’s NOTE: This Week features a couple of excellent posts from two, awesome, Strength and Conditioning coaches; Jim Bryan, and Tom Kelso.

Too busy to Workout

By Jim Brian

I guess you are pretty unique since you happen to be too busy to get a workout in. Right? First question “Are you really serious about training?” No, I mean really serious! Did you have time to eat? How about having time to brush your teeth? Did you have time to shower or take a bath?

How do people do it? To start off, They really WANT to! They don’t look for excuses, getting a workout in is important to them. They find a way to do it. Can’t go to the gym? Then do something at home. Don’t have equipment? Then do some bodyweight exercises. Take a walk. DO SOMETHING! Don’t sit on your spreading backside. Get up and move!

On the road? Staying in a Hotel? Do they have a gym? USE IT! No gym? Do some bodyweight exercises in your room. Get up early, go for a walk. Too cold outside? Walk the stairs. For that matter try to always find the stairs in Hotels, and office buildings. Use them instead of the elevator.  Not gonna do that? Then don’t say you are serious about getting into shape. Because you are NOT! If you look for an excuse instead of just “Doing it” Then don’t tell anyone that “You don’t understand why you’re still fat.”

“I have dieted for three whole days and haven’t lost any fat yet!” OK, so you have cut your food for a couple of days. That’s good!

What else did you do? Now, don’t tell me you didn’t do any physical activity. Cause if you do, I know you aren’t serious and the first chance you get, you’ll sneak some junk down your pie hole.

Get serious! Don’t make excuses! GET up and MOVE!

How many times did you workout last week? I’m not talking about the 10 minute treadmill walk. That is just a warm up. If you go to the gym and just walk on a treadmill or ride a bike for 10 minutes a couple of times a week, you are screwed. You will get a small conditioning effect but you are still gonna be FAT! ACTIVITY plus a good diet will help you get rid of the backside and inner tube gut. Just DO IT! Make working out part of your daily routine or just be fat and make excuses. It’s your choice, just don’t bitch about being fat if you won’t Get up and move.


By Tom Kelso

There are 168 hours in a week.  Training 3 times per week for 1-hour = only 1.79% of the entire week.   That is doable.

Not convinced?  Let’s get realistic:

Work 8 hours / day at 5 days / week = 40 hours

2 hour preparation and travel time to and from work each day (2 x 5) = 10 hours

30 minutes for each meal eaten each day (x 3 = 1.5) x 7 days = 10.5 hours

Sleep time at 8 hours per night (x 7) = 56


168 total hours in week – 116.5 = 51.5 remaining hours for other things (e.g., family time, recreation, errands, relaxing, etc.).

3 x 1-hour training sessions each week = 5.8% of the remaining 51.5 hours.

3 x 45 minute training sessions each week = 4.37% of the 51.5 remaining hours.

3 x 30 minute training sessions each week = 2.9% of the remaining 51.5 hours.

Find the time, make the time, stick with it, no excuses.


Over Training

Over training is a problem for many athletes and non-athletes alike. It is not uncommon for people to under estimate the impact that intense and or frequent training sessions may have on their limited recovery resources. Keeping accurate records of all aspects of your training will help you to spot and possibly prevent (or at least minimize) the impact of over training to your current schedule. By closely monitoring the impact that adjustments in volume, frequency and intensity have on your bodies ability to progress and improve, you will learn to create programs which provide optimal results for your efforts.

Below are some things to think about which may help to insure you get the most from your current and future training sessions:

1. Developing Training Tolerances

Physiologically, athletes must begin their training programs slowly and with moderate intensity. Athletes will adapt to the level of overload as training sessions progress. Each athlete is an individual and may respond to the same stimulus differently. The key point is that each individual athlete must be physiologically and psychologically ready to advance to a greater level of intensity otherwise the body will respond with overuse or over training symptoms.

2. Detecting Over training

Over training can be difficult to detect with some athletes. Researchers have found that the over trained athlete exhibits certain physiological and psychological characteristics.

A. Physiological characteristics

1. Decrease in performance.

2. Decrease in bodyweight.

3. Gradual increase in muscular soreness from training session to training session.

4. Extreme muscular soreness and stiffness the day after a hard training session.

5. Increased minor injuries.

6. Decrease in speed and reaction time.

7. Decrease in coordination and technique of specific training drills.

8. A sudden increase or gradual increase in resting heart rate and blood pressure (when the heart rate is taken each day at the same time).

9. Lowered general physical resistance as shown by continuous colds, headaches, or similar allergic reactions.

10. Decreased appetite.

11. Swelling of the lymph nodes in the groin or armpits.

12. Constipation or diarrhea.

B. Psychological Characteristics

1. Depression or irritability.

2. Simple chores are a burden.

3. High anxiety level and inability to relax.

4. Unusual sleeping pattern or can’t sleep at night.

5. Decreased eagerness to train.

In addition there are stressors that might affect the athletes training attitude such as family, relationships, academics, jobs, and finance.

3. Responding to Over training

When signs of over training are present it is advisable to suspend training for one or several days or to decrease the intensity and or duration of training for one or several days. If strong signs of over training are present, it is possible that the athlete may have to spend days or possibly weeks at a decreased level of training intensity until physical conditions recover sufficiently to allow extremely hard training to be resumed.

4. Preventing Over training

1. Don’t increase intensity, frequency, or duration of training too suddenly, “build up tolerance?

2. Allow adequate recovery between training sessions and cycle the hard, medium, and easy days.

3. Get plenty of sleep (7-9 hours a night).

4. Eat a well-balanced diet that includes all the basic food groups.

5. Short naps may be advised before heavy training sessions.

6. If an athletes heart rate measures above average on a regular basis and it is not recovering to the desired level between workouts, the workload should be reduced to a lower level, or end the training session for the day.

7. Monitor body signs such as resting heart rate, muscular soreness, and muscular stiffness and adjust intensity levels accordingly.

8. REST! Don’t hesitate to give a day or even a few days of rest to the athlete who has been adapting to a higher training level for a period of weeks. You are better off being under trained then over trained.

Remember, consistent hard work is the cornerstone of successful strength and conditioning programs. It pays to know when to work hard and when to take a break. Listen to your body and learn when to step up and when to back off.



Compound for Success

When training to enhance athletics, Compound movements should be your bread and butter. Training using almost exclusively compound movements saves time and guaranties maximum efficiency in your training. As a minimum standard be sure that you push and pull both vertically and horizontally and include some forms of squatting lunging and dead-lifting movements in your over all plan. Resisted and dynamic midsection work as well as neck and grip work are, an effective way to round out a well planned training program.

Here is a short list of movements you should include on a regular basis:

1. Horizontal press variations (Flat / Incline / Decline)

2. Horizontal Rows Variations (Overhand / Underhand / T-bar)

3. Vertical pulling variations (Chin-ups / Pull-ups / Pull-downs)

4. Vertical press variations (DB / BB / Military press / Press Behind neck)

5. Squat variations (Front / Back / Zercher)

6. Dead-lift variations (RDL / Stiff-legged / Standard)

7. Lunge variations (Forward / Lateral / Reverse)

8. Mid-section variations (Full contact twists / GHD / Knee raise)

9. Neck variations (Neck harness / Manual resistance / Neck-ups)

10. Grip variations (Farmers walks / Grippers / Timed Hangs)



Strength Training Q and A

Gym-goers seem to come in two major varieties. Those who love to lift weights or strength train, and those who love to do “cardio”.

There are many who do both activities but for the most part, they fall into one of the above-mentioned camps. They begrudgingly partake in the other activity because they heard somewhere it was important or because they know it helps even though they do not really like it.

Most of us know that strength training is an important part of a total fitness program but many are still not sure what it may or may not do for them. Is it that important for me to do those stupid weights if I am doing my cardio religiously?

It is not just important; it is the most important type of exercise you can do. Strength is the foundation of function. Without strength, we are unable to perform the most basic tasks of daily life. A properly constructed strength training routine can give you most if not all of the benefits of all other aspects of a total fitness plan combined. When done correctly, strength training can improve posture, increase flexibility, increase bone density, improve cardio-vascular capacity as well as enhance our sports performance, make us more resistant to injury and of course make us look better (clothed or otherwise). If you think walking on the treadmill can do all that, you are sadly mistaken.

For those who already have embraced the benefits of strength training, keep up the good work! For the rest of you, here are answers to some of the questions most frequently asked of trainers.

Q: How will strength training change my appearance?

A: Strength training affects body composition in two ways. First, strength training increases muscle tissue by enlarging individual muscle fibers. Second, strength training decreases body fat by burning extra calories both during the exercises session and during rest. This occurs because more muscle tissue means that more energy is burned in the process of tissue maintenance and repair. The result of more muscle and less fat is a more firm, fit, and trim appearance.

Q: How much muscle will I gain?

A: Although the amount of muscle tissue gained varies among individuals, the average beginner adds 1-3 pounds of muscle after 8 weeks of regular strength training. Do not try to compare yourself with others, however, because everyone develops muscular strength at a different rate due to inherent physiological and biomechanical factors.

Q: How much fat will I lose?

A: Your diet is the most important factor in losing weight. Over fat people who follow a balanced diet typically, lose 10-12 pounds of fat after 8 weeks of regular strength training.

Q: What should I eat?

A: This answer could be a whole article in and of itself. However, this is not a nutrition article so I will stick to the basics. You should eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, low-fat meats and “friendly” fat sources such as raw nuts and seeds, flax oil and cold-water fish. The calories should be enough to support your current goals, which may include losing fat, gaining muscle or maintaining your current weight.

Q: Do I need extra protein, vitamins or minerals?

A: Again, this is not a nutrition article. For the most part supplements are, supplemental. They should be added and experimented with only after one has worked out all the kinks of their basic exercise and nutrition plan. Unless your doctor prescribes particular nutritional supplements, you probably do not require extra protein vitamins or minerals. a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, low-fat meats and “friendly” fat sources such as raw nuts and seeds, flax oil and cold-water fish normally provides more then enough nutrients for an exercising individual. If you have difficulty eating a balanced diet, you may benefit from a daily multi-vitamin and mineral supplement.

Q: Do I need extra sleep?

A: Sleep requirements vary considerably from individual to individual. However, a person involved in regular strength training should not wake up feeling tired. Most exercising adults should obtain 7-8 hours sleep per night, and exercising children should obtain 8-9 hours sleep per night.

Q: How fast will I progress?

A: Research indicates that beginners typically increase their strength performance by about 50 percent during the first few weeks of training. Although part of this improvement is due to learning factors, adults often add 1-3 pounds of new muscle tissue during their first two months of strength training. This results in greater strength, more energy utilization and a more firm and fit appearance that should be obvious to you and others after 4-8 weeks of training.

Q: Does my age make a difference in how fast I progress?

A: Age does not reduce the training effects, but the results come more slowly in older individuals. Regardless of your age, you can improve your muscle strength through proper strength training.

Q: Does my sex make a difference in how fast I progress?

A: Males and females respond in the same manner to sensible strength training. Although due to genetic and hormonal differences men are generally larger and stronger then women, the rate of strength gain is essentially the same.

Q: Does equipment make a difference in how fast I progress?

A: Although equipment can make a difference in strength development, how the equipment is utilized is much more important. Free weights, cable based equipment and Nautilus machines are all effective when used properly. Proper muscular over load, progressive resistance, stress intensification and personal motivation are the keys to strength improvement regardless of the equipment used.

Q: Does supervision make a difference in how fast I progress?

A: Supervision can make a big difference in both the process and the product of your strength training. Most people perform much better with instructors who have a sound knowledge of strength fitness, good teaching skills, and high levels of enthusiasm. Make every effort to find a strength-training instructor / Personal trainer who exhibits these qualities.

As you continue with your current strength-training program or begin to experiment with strength training for the first time, you may find additional questions come up as you become more knowledgeable and skilled. To help you find answers to more technical questions or learn more about advanced overload techniques check out other articles in our strength library.

Weather you may decide to get seriously involved in advanced strength training or may just work out regularly for fitness; either way we hope that strength training becomes an enjoyable part of your life.