Nutrition: Two simple steps to improve your fitness program.

If you visit here often, then you should know how I feel about the importance of strength training. However, if you want to lose fat, nutrition is certainly something in addition to strength training to work on.

I’ve got personal experience in this area. Along with my multiple Strength and Conditioning certifications, I am also a certified sports nutritionist. Over the years I’ve designed, implemented and updated hundreds of fully customized eating programs for a broad array of fitness participants from elite athletes to average Joe’s. It’s beyond the scope of this article to get too in depth into the specific details of creating custom Personal Eating Plans, but I do want to mention a couple of very useful principles for nutrition if someone wants to get leaner and lose fat.

1. Cut out the sugar: Limiting simple carbs is the best place to start for almost everyone when creating a new Personal Eating Plan (P.E.P.). For many, just getting rid of all the sources of simple and or processed carbs in their P.E.P. will quickly see them dropping unwanted pounds.

2. Total calories do matter: Despite what many “Clean eating” diet guides recommend or suggest, total calories do matter. It is absolutely possible to over-eat on healthy food choices. If after eliminating the sugar from your P.E.P. you are still not losing body fat, (or not losing as much as you would like) then it’s time to actually pay attention to the total calories you are consuming. Keep in mind that as we age, total caloric needs often decline.

Where should you start? In my experience I’ve found that for those requiring reduced calorie intake the following guidelines were extremely helpful:

Nutrition Guidelines*

Moderate Calorie: 1500-1800 men; 1200-1500 women

High Protein: 1.5 grams protein x 50% ideal body weight

High Water: 1 oz. x 50% ideal body weight

High Vegetables: unlimited servings (within daily calorie guidelines)

Moderate Fruit: Limited servings (within daily calorie guidelines)

Example based on the above guidelines:

Female with ideal target weight of 130 pounds.

Protein = 100 grams minimum daily (1.5 grams x 65*)

Water = 65 oz. minimum daily (1 oz. x 65)

Begin with meeting protein intake requirements. Then add Fruit & Vegetable and friendly fat while remaining within daily calorie guidelines.



For those interested in fully customized Personal Eating Plans contact TAKU at: Put NUTRITION in the subject line.

*rounded up for convenience.

Low Carb Dieting (the truth): Part 2

The body derives it’s energy from four key fuels:

1) glucose

2) proteins

3) free fatty acids

4) ketones

The primary determinant of the fuel utilized is the availability of carbohydrate.The body has three storage units that can be utilized during times of calorie deprivation:

1) Carbohydrate, which is stored in liver and the muscles

2) Protein, which can be converted to glucose in the liver

3) Fat, which is stored primarily in adipose tissue.

Under specific conditions a fourth fuel comes into play -ketones which are derived from the incomplete breakdown of free fatty acids. Under normal dietary conditions ketones play a minimal role in energy prodcition. During times of Low carb dieting or starvation diets ketones impact energy production significantly.

When looking at storage of bodily fuels triglyceride is the most abundant. Carrbohydrate stiores are minimal compared to protein and fat. Although stored protein could possibly fuel the body longer than stored carbohydrates too much reliance and protein for energy could result in death. The average person has enough body fat to live for months without food. There are numerous documented cases where morbidly obese patients were fasted for up to one year.

In gereral the body utilizes the fuel that is most abundant in the bloodstream. As an example when glucose elevates in the bloodstream the body will utilize mostly glucose. When glucose levels begin to lower the body uses less glucose. When decreasing carbohydrate availability the body begins a metabolic shift resulting in a higher dpendence on fat for energy.

Many trainees like to point to the fact that a high carb diet is protein sparing. Keep in mind while a high carb diet is protein sparing it is also fat sparing. High levels of carbohydrates decrease the use of fat for fuel.

In the initial days of fasting prtein is converted to glucose. This is where some people formed the idea that low carb diets were muscle wasting. With an adequate amount of protein intake these muscle wasting effects can be minimized in the early stages of the diet. As the body becomes ketogenic protein is spared.

Most tissues of the body can use FFA for fuel. Although, there are tissues that cannot utilize FFA for fuel including brain, red blood cells, renal medulla, bone marrow and type 2 muscle fibers. One of the biggest mis-conceptions about human physiology is the belief that the brain can only run on glucose. Under normal dietary conditions the brain primarily functions by using glucose, but under conditions of ketosis the brain can run efficiently by using ketone bodies. Arguably the most important tissue in terms of ketone body usage is the brain which can derive up to 75% of it’s energy requirements from ketone bodies once adaptation occurs. Other research indicates that ketone bodies are the preferred fuel of many tissues. One exception is the liver which does not use ketones for fuel, but relies on FFA.

There are several factors which influence the fuel used by the body.

Factors influence fuel utilization

1. Amount of each nutrient being consumed

2. Level of hormones such as insulin and glucagon

3. Bodily stores of each nutrient

4. Levels of regulatory enzymes for glucose and fat breakdown

Amount of nutrient being consumed

There are four substances that we dervie calories from. These include:

1) carbohydrate

2) protein

3) fats

4) alcohol

Generally speaking, the body utilizes glucose in direct proportion to the amount of carbohydrate being consumed. If carb intake increases the bodies utilization increases and vice-versa.

When protein intake increases protein oxidation will also increase to a degree. If protein intake drops the body will use less protein for fuel. The body attempts to maintain body protein at constant levels.

The amount of dietary fat being consumed does not significantly increase the amount of fat used for fuel by the body. Fat burning is determined indirectly by alcohol and carbohydrate consumption. The consumption of alcohol will almost completely inhibit the bodies ability to burn fat for fuel. The greatest rates of fat oxidation will occur when carbohydrates and alcohol are limited. Levels of muscle glycogen also regulate how much fat is used by the muscle.


Insulin’s primary role is to keep blood glucose in a range of 80-120 mg/dl. When blood glucose raises above 120 the pancreas releases insulin to lower blood glucose. The greatest increase of blood glucose come after the consumption of carbohydrate (different types have differing effects). Protein causes a smaller increase in insulin output because some individual amino acids can be converted to glucose. FFAs and ketones can also stimulate an insulin response, but the response is a great deal less than that which comes from the consumption of protein or carbs.

As blood glucose drops insulin levels decrease as well. With the decrease in insulin the body begins to break down stored fuels. Fat cells are broken down into glycerol and FFAs and released into the bloodstream. Proteins are broken down into individual amino acids and glycogen stored in the liver is broken down into glucose and released into the bloodstream.

Glucagon is a hormone released from the pancreas that acts to control blood glucose as well. Glucagon acts to raise blood glucose when it drops below normal. Glucagon’s main action is in the liver as it breaks down liver glycogen and releases it into the blood stream. Glucagon also plays an important role in ketone body formation in the liver. Glucagon released is stimulated by exercise, decreasing blood glucose and insulin and protein consumption. Elevated levels of insulin inhibut the pancreas from releasing glucagon

From the information provided above it is apparent that insulin and glucagon play antagonist roles to one another. Insulin is primarly a storage hormone: while glucagons’s primary role is to moblilze fuel stores for use by the body.

Growth hormone is another hormone which has numerous effects on the body. GH is released in response to exercise, a decrease in blood glucose, and carb restriction or fasting. GH is a growth promoting hormone increasing protein synthesis in the muscle and liver. GH also acts as a FFA mobilizer.

Most of the anabolic effects of GH are mediated through a class of hormones called insulin-like growth factors (IGFs). IGF-1 is the key contributor to anabolic growth in most of the bodies tissues. GH stimulates the liver to produce IGF-1 but only in the presence of insulin. High GH levels in combination with high insulin levels (protein carb meal) will raise IGF-1 levels increasing anabolic reactions in the body. On the other end high GH levels with low insulin levels will not cause and increase in IGF-1 levels.

The thyroid gland produces two hormones, thyroxine (T4), and triidothyronine (T3). In the human body T4 is primarily a storage form of T3 and plays few physiological roles itself. Thyroid hormones can have an effect on all tissues of the body. Chronically low carb intake can significantly lower thyroid hormone.

Cortisol is a catabolic hormone released by the adrenal glands. Cortisol is involved in gluconeogenesis as well as fat breakdown. Cortisol is required for life but excessive amounts can be detrimental to health causing protein breakdown, bone tissue degradation, immune system impairment, connective tissue and skin weakening.

Adrenaline and noradrenaline (epinephrine and norepinephrine) are released from the adrenal glands and are frequently referred to as fight or flight hormones. These hormones are generally released in response to cold, exercise, or fasting. Epinephrine is released from the adrenal medulla, while nor epinephrine is released primarily from the nerve terminals. The primary role the adrenal hormones adrenaline and nor – adrenaline play in the ketogenic diet is to stimulate free fatty acid release from fat cells.

In humans, insulin and adrenaline and nor-adrenaline have the most profound effect on fat mobilization. In general, insulin acts as storage hormone while adrenaline and nor-adrenaline stimulate fat breakdown.


All foods coming through the digestive tract are processed initially in the liver. In general, liver glycogen is the key determinant of the body’s tendency to store or breakdown nutrients. There is a direct correlation between liver glycogen levels and bodyfat levels. High levels of liver glycogen are usually related to higher bodyfat levels.

The liver serves as a storehouse for glycogen. Liver glycogen is broken down in response to glucagon and released into the bloodstream. When liver glycogen is full the body is generally in an anabolic state. Incoming nutrients are stored as glycogen, proteins, and triglycerides. This is sometimes called the fed state.

When liver glycogne is depleted the liver shifts roles and becomes catabolic. Glycogen is broken down into glucose, protein is broken down into amino acids, and triglycerides are broken down into FFA’s. This is often referred to as the fasted state.

Ketogenesis will occur when liver glycogen is depleted, blood glucose drops, and the insulin/glucagon ratio shifts.


Enzyme levels are primarily determined by the nutrients being ingested in the diet and the hormonal levels that result from the ingestion. When carb intake is high and glucose and glycogen storage is stimulated the enzymes involved in fat breakdown are inhibited. On the other hand when insulin drops the enzymes involved with glucose use are inhibited and the enzymes involved in fat breakdown will increase.

Relevant research in regards to ketogenic dieting

A comparative study of two diets in the treatment of primary exogenous obesity in children

Pena L, Pena M, Gonzalez J, Claro A,

One hundred and four children, ages six to fourteen with exogenous obesity were subjected to two different diets, Ketogenic (low carb) and hypocaloric, for eight weeks.Body weight, serum triglycereides, cholesterol, glucose tolerance test, blood glucose, and plasma insulin determination were measured before and after diets. The results revealed significant differences in bodywt, and triglyceride concentration, with both diets. There were significant differences in the fasting insulin levels, insulinogenic index, and insulin concentration after a glucose tolerance test in the patients treated with a KD diet.




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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.



Eating Plan to Pack on Muscle Without the Fat

Let’s face it; eating plans are not always about losing weight. Some of us would like to add as much muscle as possible while still maintaining a solid physique. Many folks will argue that you can not add muscle and stay lean at the same time. This simply is not true. If you are serious about your goals and follow a well structured, cyclical P.E.P., you can add muscle while maintaining a lean, athletic body.

This P.E.P. is a weekly plan which requires specific eating patterns be followed on specific days. Each weekly cycle is the same. Days 1-3 are high protein / low carb days. Day 4 is a moderate protein / high carb day. Days 5-7 are high carb / high protein days. I recommend that you follow this type of plan for 8-12 weeks and then return to a more balanced approach like my Basic Eating Plan. Keep in mind that when ever one adds new lean mass then daily and weekly calories and macro-nutrient ratios must be re-calibrated to take into account the new you.

Below is an example of what the weekly schedule might look like on a day by day, meal by meal basis.

DAY(s) 1-3 = High Protein / Low Carbs

Meal 1. Omelet with 4 whole eggs, 4 strips of Bacon or Sausage. Feel free to use butter or any “friendly” oil of your choice (Olive, Walnut etc)

Meal 2. 2 scoop Whey Protein + 1 Tbsp Flax Oil in 10 Oz water

Meal 3. 8 Oz grilled Chicken breast or Turkey

Meal 4. Protein drink as above

Meal 5. Steak 10 Oz (or other lean meat) with veggies, salad & avocado

Meal 6. Protein drink as above

Cal = 1854 / Protein = 200g / Carbs = 30g / Fat = 107g

DAY 4 = Mod Protein / High Carbs

Meal 1. Oatmeal (16 Oz cooked), 5 dates, 1 whole Banana (chopped & stirred into oatmeal)

Meal 2. “Power Shake” 8 Oz non-fat milk, 8 Oz Orange Juice, 1 Banana (mix in blender)

Meal 3. Roasted chicken (6 Oz), rice (1 cup), beans (6 Oz), Sherbet (3 scoops)

Meal 4. Cottage cheese (1 cup), Pineapple (canned in own juice) 1 cup, Mandarin Oranges 1/2 cup

Meal 5. Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich,(1 Tbsp P-nut-butter + 1 Tbsp jelly on sprouted (flour-less) bread), 1cup non-fat milk, 1 Banana, 1 apple

Meal 6. . “Power Shake” 8 Oz non-fat milk, 8 Oz Orange Juice, 1 Banana (mix in blender)

Cal = 3674 / Protein = 159g / Fat = 62g / Carbs = 560g

DAY(S) 5-7 = High Protein / High Carbs

Meal 1. Non-fat milk (8 Oz), Oatmeal (8 Oz cooked), 3 egg whites (stirred into oatmeal), 5 dates (chopped & stirred into oatmeal)

Meal 2. “Power Shake” 8 Oz non-fat milk, 8 Oz Low-fat yogurt, 1 Banana (mix in blender)

Meal 3. Roasted chicken (6 Oz), rice (1 cup), beans (6 Oz), Sherbet (3 scoops)

Meal 4. Cottage cheese (1 cup), Pears (canned in own juice) 4 halves

Meal 5. Peanut butter sandwich 1 Tbsp P-nut-butter + 1 Tbsp jelly on sprouted (flour-less) bread, non-fat milk (1 cup) 1 Banana

Meal 6. Tuna sandwich (tuna packed in water) on sprouted (flour-less) bread, 1 apple, handful of nuts (your favorite)

Meal 7. “Power Shake” 8 Oz non-fat milk, 8 Oz Low-fat yogurt, 1 Banana (mix in blender)

Cal = 3586 / Protein = 211 / Fat = 69 / Carbs = 527

Remember, the goal of this plan is to add new lean mass (muscle) to your body while maintaining or perhaps even lowering your current body-fat percentage. If your current body-fat is above 10-12 %, then I recommend that you get a little leaner before attempting this plan. Try my lower carb, weight loss plan the Cyclical Ketogenic Diets made easy.

This plan is an example of how to properly structure your feedings to get big without getting fat. However, all eating plans require a break in period in order to dial in the specifics for your body. Be prepared to spend a couple of weeks fine tuning things to get the most out of your plan. Keeping a food journal will really help here.

Finally, for this plan to work, it must be accompanied by heavy, intense weight training. You will not get bigger and stronger by adjusting your P.E.P. alone. For ideas on workouts that will pair nicely with this P.E.P. follow the links at the bottom of this article.

P.S. Don’t forget that rest and recovery are just as important as the actual workouts themselves






How does fat leave the body?

 Q: How does fat leave the body?

A:  *Actually, your fat cells stay right where they are. What is happening is the contents of the fat cells are released, in the form of free fatty acids (ffas). These ffas are then converted and used for energy by your body.

The energy that goes into the biological system known as “the body” is measured in calories that are derived from macro-nutrients that make up food.  This “chemical” energy derived from food is then utilized to be transferred into other required forms of energy to accomplish physiological processes in the body, as well as produce body movement (mechanical energy) and give off “heat energy” as a by-product etc.

In other words, the energy that “goes out” from the body consists of calories that are expended due to 1) human metabolism (a sum of all of the chemical reactions that take place in the body) and 2) physical activity or human movement.

So think of your fat cells as balloons that inflate and deflate. Inflating when you eat too many calories and then the excess get stored. Deflating when you don’t have enough immediate calories available and the stored energy (in the form of ffas) get released.

*(Super simplified example)




This question came up recently on one of the forums I frequent. I thought it was a good one, so I decided to add my answer here.

Workout in a hurry

6 weeks to a new you in the New Year (Part two)

In part one of this article I told you that we could re-shape your body in as little as 15 workouts over just six weeks. Having read part one you should have taken all of your photos and measurements as well as outlined your eating for the first few weeks of the plan. You should also know how many push-ups and sit-ups you can do as well as your time for a wall sit and how far you can run in 30 seconds. In part two I am going to outline the nuts and bolts of the plan as well as answer some basic questions and give options for those who may have limited access to workout equipment or who want to do their training bare-bones, boot-camp style; outside or at home.

We don’t have a lot of time. That is why we are using this plan in the first place. Let me reassure you it is not about the quantity but the quality of effort that is put forth that makes this type of training so efficient and effective. The workouts themselves are going to be brief and infrequent and therefore should be done with the utmost intensity. Don’t be intimidated by that word. Even if you are a beginner or coming back from a lay off you can work out hard enough to get great results. The secret is to try as hard as you can at the moment. As you recover and adapt each week, you will find that you are able to step it up a little more.

The workout will be done as follows. Each training day you will focus on a certain body region along with your cardio and stretching. None of these workouts should ever take longer then an hour including the warm-up, stretching and cool-down. In fact 45 – 50 minutes will probably be all you need as your fitness improves over the next few weeks. When I make recommendations for how many sets you should perform you will notice that I say one set. In my experience one good set is all you need to have success. Some people just can not seem to handle this approach and feel they need more. If you choose to do more keep this in mind. For each set you add you are using up more of your bodies recovery ability as well as increasing the total time you spend working out. The whole reason we are doing this workout is because we are in a hurry; so trust me and just do one set as hard as you can.

For the cardio portion of your training plan, your job is also to work as hard as you can in the moment. Whatever machine you choose to use I want you to go as far as possible in 15 minutes. I find that 15 minutes is all you need if you are really working as hard as you can. The cardio session is broken down as follows: You wont need to warm-up because you just finished your strength training session. So, pick a machine and work as hard and fast as you can for 12 minutes and then cool-down for about 3 minutes.

Do not increase the length of time you do cardio, just do your best to cover more distance then you did last time. How will you know how far you went? Look at the machine. Most of these machines will give you a distance read out. If not then use calories as your guide. If you burn more calories during the same length of time that means you are working harder then before.

Each time you train, be sure to write down everything you do in the gym. Write down how much you lifted in each exercise and when you can do more then 10 reps in any exercise, add some weight. Write down the distance you covered or the number of calories burned in your cardio session and strive to go further or burn more next time. Every little increase is significant. Be sure to keep the time you do your cardio consistent so that the calorie and distance numbers are accurate from session to session. Remember you are only working really hard for about 12 minutes.

The Workouts:

Workout 1. Lower body:

5 minute warm-up treadmill, bike, or rower

Squats 1 x 6-10

Dumbbell Lateral Lunges 1 x 6-10

Dumbbell Lunges to the rear 1 x 6-10 (each leg)

Straight leg dead-lifts 1 x 6-10

Single leg calf raise 1 x 6-10 (each leg)

Mid-section: Hanging knee raise or incline knee raise, low back extension, band or pulley rotations. 1 x 8-15

Cardio: Machine of your choice for max distance or calories in 12 minutes

Cool-Down: 3 minutes

Stretch: 5-10 minutes full body

Workout 2. Pushing (two days after workout 1.)

5 minute warm-up on treadmill, bike, or rower

Flat Dumbbell flyes or pec-deck 1 x 6-10

Incline barbell or machine press 1 x 6-10

Dips 1 x 6-10 (If you can do more then 10 add weight)

Dumbbell, cable, or machine lateral raise 1 x 6-10

Barbell, dumbbell, or machine shoulder press 1 x 6-10

Dumbbell, cable, or machine rear delt 1 x 6-10

Dumbbell, or cable, overhead triceps extensions 1 x 6-10

Cable or machine triceps push-downs 1 x 6-10

Cardio: Machine of your choice for max distance or calories in 12 minutes

Cool-Down: 3 minutes

Stretch: 5-10 minutes full body

Workout 3.  Pulling (two days after workout 2.)

5 minute warm-up on treadmill, bike, or rower

Pull-ups or assisted pull-ups 1 x 6-10 (if you can do more then 10 pull-ups, add weight)

Close grip (V-bar) pull-downs 1 x 6-10

Reverse back fly with cable, dumbbells, or machine 1 x 6-10

Bent over rows with a dumbbell or barbell 1 x 6-10

Standing shrugs with dumbbells, barbells, or machine 1 x 6-10

Mid-section: Hanging knee raise or incline knee raise, low back extension, band or pulley rotations. 1 x 8-15

Cardio: Machine of your choice for max distance or calories in 12 minutes

Cool-Down: 3 minutes

Stretch: 5-10 minutes full body

Rest two days before starting over with workout number one.

Tips for continued success:


The repetition guidelines I have listed are just that, guidelines. Do not stop a set until you are un-able to perform another perfect rep. With exercises like Squats or Stiff-legged dead-lifts, stop 1-2 reps short of failure.

How much rest:

After you warm-up, move quickly from exercise to exercise. Strive to rest no more then 60 seconds between exercises.

How to be progressive:

First increase reps then increase weight. Once you can exceed 10 reps on your main exercises or 15 on core movements, add 5-10 lbs of weight.

How to add variety:

Exercises are essentially exchangeable. Exchange any major multi-joint, pushing, pulling or lower body movement with any other. Single joint movements such as arm curls and extensions as well as mid-section movements may be changed frequently as well. Just be sure to write down what you do and train as hard as possible on each work set.


Pick whatever machines you like or have available. Bike, Treadmill, Stair-climber, Rowing machine, they are all effective. For best results mix things up and use a different machine or mode each time. Just be sure to write down your distance or calories accurately.

Home training:

If you are doing this workout at home and have a well stocked home gym then follow the plan as closely as possible. If you are using resistance bands, sandbags, dumbbells, kettlebells, and or bodyweight movements then again create workouts that are as similar to those in the above plan as possible. Our exercise library database has more then enough ideas for you to choose from. For the cardio portion go to a track and see how far you can run around the track in 12 minutes (not including warm-up and cool-down). Choose a set time as before (say 12 minutes) and start running. In week one it may take you 12 minutes to run one mile. Don’t be surprised if by the end of six weeks you are going considerably further.

Have fun, work hard and don’t forget to drop us a line with your results.



Workout in a hurry

6 weeks to a new you in the New Year (Part one)

The most common excuse that people give for not eating better and exercising regularly is a lack of time. In my articles “How to save time and money while still eating well” and “Simple steps to good nutrition” I have outlined strategies for eating, shopping and cooking more efficiently. In this article I will lay out a flexible six week plan that will totally re-shape your body with a minimal time spent working out. In fact when you look at the chart in part two you will see that you are only going to be working out 15 times in six weeks. Combine these quick and effective workouts with the healthy eating ideas from the articles mentioned above and you can not fail in your quest for a new you.

Before we begin I want you to do the following. First, if you have not already, read the two nutrition articles mentioned above. Then get your shopping list ready and plan out your eating for the next few weeks. Exercise combined with a healthy balanced personal eating plan is the one two punch that never fails to produce rapid and profound results in body recomposition. Second, I want you to weigh yourself as well as take measurements and pictures so that you can do an honest before and after comparison.* The photos should be taken with a plain back round and should show your entire body from head to toe. Wear a bathing suit or something else revealing so that you can truly see your bodies current shape and be able to compare it to your shape in six weeks. Take the photos from the front, side and rear. Stand relaxed with your hands at your sides. The measurements should be taken at the following anatomical land marks.

  1. Calves: Feet about 6 inches apart with weight on the foot not being measured.
  2. Thighs: Feet about 6 inches apart with weight on the foot not being measured.
  3. Buttocks: Stand straight with heels together and measure  around the widest part.
  4. Hips: Measure at a point just a bit higher then the buttocks.
  5. Waist: One inch above the belly button or around the widest part.
  6. Chest: At nipple line, lift arms, wrap tape, lower arms, measure.
  7. Shoulders: Tape around the widest part with arms hanging relaxed at sides.
  8. Upper arms: Arms straight out to sides, palms up, relaxed. measure thickest part.
  9. Forearms: Same position as above, measure thickest part.


Finally, if we want to know how much we have improved, we need to know where we are now. A few simple tests before we begin our six week workout plan will let us clearly see just how much progress we have made when we get to the end. The tests I recommend are as follows.

  1. Max push-up test: Do as many full push-ups as possible without stopping. Pause for one second at the top and bottom of each repetition.
  2. Max sit-ups test: See how many full sit-ups you can do in one minute. Lay on the floor with your feet flat and knees bent at 90 degrees. Cross your arms and place your hands on your opposite shoulders. Sit-up until your elbows touch your knees. Have a partner hold down your feet or anchor them under something.
  3. Max time for a static wall sit: Place your back flat against a wall with your knees bent at 90 degrees. See how long you can stay in this position. Time it with a stop watch.
  4. Max distance covered in 30 second run: Go to a football field with 100 yards marked on it. Start at one end and run as fast as you can comfortably run. See how many total yards you cover in 30 seconds. If you reach the end of the field before the time expires turn and run back the way you came.

In part two of this article I will detail the training plan for the entire six weeks including how to effectively combine strength training and cardio for maximum efficiency. Exercise variety options to avoid staleness in the gym. How to be progressive. How many sets and how much rest between sets. And more. See you there.



P.S. *If you like you are welcome to share your results with us here at Hybrid Fitness. We love to hear back from folks who have successfully integrated our ideas and built the bodies that they have always wanted.

Knock it off!

Most personal training clients come to a trainer with one goal in mind, to drop some body fat. Along with strength training and “cardio”, creating a solid Personal Eating Plan is an important part of reaching this goal.

As most of you might expect, I take pretty good care of myself. This being said, I am also human. I noticed recently that I had picked up a bad habit. Although I would eat well all day long, I had started late night snacking in front of the T.V.

As my friend, coach Tom Kelso says “5 minutes of bad eating can negate 30 minutes of traditional exercise. 6 x chocolate chip cookies = 300 calories. 150 lb. man jogging at 10 miles/hour pace for 30 minutes = approximately 300 calories burned above BMR. Message: if you spend time “working out,” be disciplined in your eating”.

With this in mind, I decided to try a little experiment. I would not make any drastic changes to my training and eating plans, other than to cut out all superfluous snacking. I started this on the first, and took all of my measurements (circumference, body-fat %, weight etc). I trained hard with the weights, and added no specific conditioning work (other that what I regularly do).

At the end of 28 days, I re-took my measurements. I had dropped my body fat by 3% as well as lost 2 inches on my waist. I even added an inch to my thighs. All this was accomplished while only training hard about 5 times every two weeks or about 10 total workouts. The above mentioned changes may not seem too dramatic but what I am showing you is that with that one small change to my lifestyle, I made a noticeable improvement in a very short time. As a matter of fact, many people noticed the subtle changes to my body composition as, I frequently received positive comments from a variety of sources.

The moral of this story is that it is not too difficult to make small changes that can and will have a positive impact on your health and well being. Weather you have 10 pounds you would like to lose or 50, it is just a matter of consistency over time. Take baby steps, and make it your goal to change one small thing per week over the next few months. Before you know it, you will be looking and feeling better than you have in a long time.

So what are you waiting for? Get to it, and knock off the bad habits.




Eating right is the ultimate discipline. It is a challenge for almost all of us, at least some of the time. I often have clients asking me; “How many calories are in this, or how much fat is in that”.

These days there are web-sites dedicated to helping folks track their nutrition effectively. Most of them have free, on-line applications. All you need to do is sign up, and start entering in the foods you eat on a daily basis. After doing this for a few weeks you should begin to see if your nutritional plan is an effective one, or if is something that needs some work.

Even though these on-line programs are very helpful, sometimes it would be nice to have some basic nutrition info, right at your fingertips. With this in mind I created this simple calorie counting page. Now, when my clients ask me those pesky nutrition questions, all I do is hand them the sheet below.

Hang a copy on your fridge to remind you of things when you are about to create a healthy meal or snack for the day. You could also place a copy in your training log or even take one with you to the grocery store when you are shopping.

  1. EGGS: A Larger whole egg (white and yolk together) contains about 6 grams of protein, 4 grams of fat and 60 calories. The white alone has 5 grams of protein and 20 calories and the yolk has 1 gram of protein and all of the fat.
  2. Seafood: Averages 23 grams of protein and 3 grams of fat per quarter pound (4 ounces).
  3. Animal Meats: Trimmed of visible fat and skin, contain on the average 25 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat and 135 calories. Per quarter pound.
  4. Organ Meats: On the average, 1/3 pound or 51/3 ounces contains 20 grams of protein, 10 grams of fat and 170 calories.
  5. Dairy Products: Low-Fat cheeses have around 8 grams of protein, 1-2 grams of carbohydrate, 5 grams of fat and about 80-85 calories an ounce. Non-fat milk and yogurts are about 8 grams of protein and 12-16 grams of carbohydrate per 8 ounces.
  6. Nuts and seeds: An ounce (1 oz) of seeds, nuts or nut butter contains around 7 grams of protein, 7 grams of carbohydrate, 14 grams of fat and 182 calories.
  7. Fats and Oils: A tablespoon of oil contains almost 14 grams of fat and 126 calories. Be sure to consume Flax – Olive and Fish oil every week.
  8. Fibrous Garden Vegetables: Vegetables yield around 2-3 grams of protein, 5-6 grams of carbohydrates and around 30 calories per 4 oz.
  9. Beans (legumes): Approximately Approximately 75 calories, 4 grams of protein and 15 carbohydrates per 4 ounces.
  10. Grains: Grains and cereals generally contain 4 grams of protein, 20 carbohydrates, and 1 gram of fat per 110 calories.
  11. Potatoes: A small / medium potato (approximately 3 oz) should have around 3 grams of protein, 22 carbohydrate and 100 calories.
  12. Fruits: 4 ounces (equal to a nice Banana) has 24 grams of carbohydrates and roughly 100 calories. Medium sized apples (3-4 oz) contain roughly 80 calories.

So go ahead, print out a copy (or two) and you to will have the nutritional breakdown of most of your basic food groups right at your fingertips.

Let me  know if it comes in handy.



Cyclical Ketogenic Diet: Low-carb Dieting Made Easy

This P.E.P. is based on the work of Dan Duchaine (Body Opus) and Lyle McDonald (the Ketogenic Diet). The version that I am presenting is a highly simplified version of the original Duchaine / McDonald works as laid out in their above named books. If you wish to attain copious amounts of detail into how to really tweak this approach I suggest you purchase one or both of the books written by these two gentlemen. Although their approach is reliable, I am confident that similarly consistent results will be attained without following some of the extreme guidelines set forth by these two authors.

With my personal experimentation using this approach I have found it to consistently reduce BFP% while maintaining LBM. Below I have shown examples of weekday and weekend eating plans consistent with this style of P.E.P. The basic premise is to reduce Carb consumption to as low a level as possible during a five-day period Mon-Fri. Then take in high carbs on the weekend to facilitate glycogen super-compensation and the sparing of LBM. My weekday goal for carb consumption is 30 grams or less a day. On weekends the carb consumption is unlimited and should be as high as is comfortably possible. Once you feel you have fully re-loaded your carb stores (usually indicated by an increase in water retention), you may begin to de-carb once again.


The goal for protein consumption is a minimum of 1 gram per pound of total body-weight, with a maximum of up to 1.5 grams per pound of total body-weight. The calorie level should be set at approximately 90% of daily maintenance levels*. Once protein levels have been established, the remainder of the calories should come from “friendly” fat sources and a minimum of low glycemic carbs (as indicated in the eating plans below). When trying to make up the proper calorie levels start with protein. Then add the “good” fat, + bad fat, then finish with the LGC.


Protein consumption should be set at a minimum of 1 gram per pound of LBM with a maximum of up to 1 gram per pound of total weight. Carbs should be set as high as 3-5 grams per pound of total body weight. Fat should be set at a maximum of 1 gram per every 2 pounds of total body weight.


You may notice an energy slump in the first couple of weeks, this is normal and is the interim period between your body burning carbohydrate for energy and converting to burning fat. Stick with it and you will achieve your goals.

The program is a 5-days on 2-days off schedule, the days off may be fitted in at your convenience but weekends are probably best.

Suggested eating plan No1

Meal 1.

4 eggs any way, or 6-10 egg whites, 2 slices of ham, 2 Oz l/f. Mozzarella cheese. Make into omelet, if desired add chopped veggies

Meal 2.

Small tin of tuna (6 Oz) in oil (drain oil), ¼ avocado, salad or 2-3 scoops Whey Protein + 1 Tbsp Flax Oil in 10 Oz water

Meal 3.

Chicken breast w/- veggies &/or salad (stir-fry) & ¼ avocado

Meal 4.

Handful of nuts or 3-4 Oz meat (ham, turkey etc) & 2 piece string cheese Or protein drink as above

Meal 5.

Steak (8 Oz) with veggies, salad & ¼ avocado

Drink tea, coffee, or water. (If not using the ECA stack** then a load of brewed coffee is best)

Use artificial sweeteners to sweeten protein drinks & hot beverages only if you feel it is required. (I do not recommend artificial sweeteners)

Absolutely no fruit or sugar sources outside the weekend.

Suggested eating plan No. 2

Meal 1.

(6-10) Egg white omelet w/- mushrooms, tomato, l/f cheese, onions etc and tea, coffee or water.

Meal 2.

Chef salad w/- ham, cheese & egg. Or handful of raw nuts & cheese

Meal 3.

Chicken Caesar, Cobb, or Spinach and bacon salad etc w/- (no croutons)

Meal 4.

4 eggs, 4 strips bacon (or ham, Canadian bacon, sausage etc)

Meal 5.

Salmon (6-8 Oz) grilled, poached or baked with veggies, salad & ¼ avocado.

Meal 6.

(Optional, use only during transition phase if you are really craving sweets), nonfat yogurt, whey protein (1 scoop), flax oil 1 Tbsp (mix together as pudding)

Note: For the best results I recommend you stick as close as possible to the weekly examples I have provided. It is really not hard once you get into a groove.

The taper in.

In order for the transition to this P.E.P. to be smooth and relatively discomfort free, a lead in period of gradual carb reduction is suggested. This is a fairly simple process, as follows;

Week 1. P.E.P. only on Tuesday & Thursday.

Week 2. P.E.P. on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.

Week 3. P.E.P. every day except Wednesday.

Week 4. P.E.P. Monday to Friday.

This should see you make a smooth, pain free transition into the amazing world of fat burning.

During a 48 hr period on Saturday & Sunday basically eat what you feel like, try to keep it fairly healthy but succumb to your cravings because Monday you get strict again.


Meal 1.

Non-fat milk (8 Oz), Oatmeal (8 Oz cooked), 3 egg whites (stirred into oatmeal), 5 dates (chopped & stirred into oatmeal)

Meal 2.

“Power Shake” 8 Oz Non-fat milk, 8 Oz Non-fat yogurt, 1 Banana (mix in blender)

Meal 3.

Roasted chicken (6 Oz), rice (1 cup), beans (6 Oz), Sherbet (3 scoops)

Meal 4.

Cottage cheese (1 cup), Pears (canned in own juice) 4 halves

Meal 5.

Peanut butter sandwich 1 Tbsp p-nut-butter + 1 Tbsp jelly on sprouted (flour-less) bread, Non-fat milk (1 cup) 1 Banana

Meal 6.

Tuna sandwich (tuna packed in water) on sprouted (flour-less) bread, 1 apple, handful of nuts (your favorite)

Meal 7.

“Power Shake” 8 Oz Non-fat milk, 8 Oz Non-fat yogurt, 1 Banana (mix in blender)

When trying to maximize strength, size and power, I load creatine on the weekends (5 grams with every meal). You may of course add whatever supplements you currently feel are beneficial to you reaching your health goals.

LBM = Lean Body Mass

BFP% = Body Fat Percentage

LGC = Low Glycemic Carb

P.E.P. = Personal Eating Plan

**ECA STACK = Ephedrine, Caffeine, Aspirin combined to elicit a Central nervous system stimulus which aids in fatty acid mobilization as well as increasing mental focus, suppressing appetite and may also aid in the increase of workout intensity.

If you have never experimented with this “stack” do so cautiously. I suggest using a mainstream brand such as “Ripped Fuel” by Twinlab etc. Start with less then the suggested dose and work up from there. I use one dose a day Mon-Thu when on this plan. If you do choose to use it, do not take it Friday-Sunday as it may interfere with the carb loading process. It is not required that you use the ECA stack to achieve success on this plan I mention it, only FYI.

*Lowering calories further during the weekdays can speed up weight loss but will increase the challenge and potential discomfort during this phase of the eating plan.

Supplement recommendations and all other aspects of this article are intended for informational purposes only. Consult with your primary care physician before experimenting with the CKD or any other P.E.P.