What is your favorite exercise?  Add your comment below…

For years I’ve just been taking my wedding ring off when I lift.  I don’t want it scratched up by the bar.  Given that this (lifting) is something I want to do the rest of my life, and this (my ring) is something I want to last till death, that seemed like the only solution.

lifters ring wrapper, ring guard

Cover/wrap your ring instead of removing it when lifting?

But it’s a pain to take it off.

Sometimes, usually when it’s hot and humid, it takes a lot of soap and elbow grease to get it off.  Leaves my knuckle a little raw.

And then there’s the fear of losing it.  I have a decent home gym so most days it’s not an issue around loss, but whenever I travel or go to a commercial gym, I leave it in my hotel room or my car.  Easy to forget, right?  Not to mention my wife doesn’t like me out and about without my wedding ring.

Back in my early days of lifting, I’d wear gloves because I didn’t want my hands to get rough.  Sheesh.  Hard to remember how lame I was.  Now I take my callouses as pride.  And clearly gloves stink for grip. Plus you look like a fool if you are wearing gloves.  So gloves are out.

So what is the solution?

I’ve been messing around with various ideas and think I’ve stumbled on something that might be a really good solution.  I don’t have a name for it yet, but essentially it’s just a ring protector for when you lift weights (or other similar activity).  Here’s a picture:

lifter ring protector

A simple device to protect your ring while lifting

I’ve been using it for several sessions and it has a ton of advantages:

  • easy to put on
  • stays on, no adjusting during session at all
  • doesn’t slip around or anything
  • comfortable, barely notice it’s on
  • zero negative impact on lifts; even pulls
  • I’ve used chalk with no problems
  • I’ve even washed my hands and it just stays on
  • easy to take off (which is surprising, since it stays on so well)
  • no degradation – after many hours of lifting, the piece looks like when I first made it; no wear and tear

I think I might be onto something here but I need others to test it.

lifters_ring_protector (1) lifters_ring_guard

So here’s a “first mover” offer.  I’ve made a bunch more and I’m going to send a free one to the first people who email me.

Email me at “darrin” then put that funny @ symbol and then “worldfitnessnetwork.com”  (sorry to be so laborious but I hate getting spam).  Subscribers only.  Once the ones I’ve made are gone, then I’ll have to figure out something else.

For US folks, these are small and light so I can just put them in an envelope to mail.  If you are not in the US, then we’ll have to work out shipping costs.

But here’s the condition:  you must give me detailed written feedback after you’ve used them.  I want to hear the good and the bad.  Before I even consider mass producing these I need to get honest feedback.  I’m pretty sure you are going to love it as much as I do, but if not then tell me.

So, send me your name and mailing address to the above email address.  And include your finger size.  I’m talking about “fatness” of your fingers.  This isn’t going to be exact, but heavyweights would probably be XL, a large male with thick fingers is probably L, most lean men are probably M (that’s me) and heavier females are probably also an M, and most females or males with really thin fingers would be S.

UPDATE:

I’m all out of the first batch but if you leave a comment below, and I get enough comments, I’ll make another batch and send some out.  Please chime in here on what you currently do.  How do you protect your ring while you are lifting?  Do you just take it off?

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There are many old-school techniques for pushing yourself harder when seeking hypertrophy (muscle growth).  Arnold’s Encyclopedia, even if dated, does a great job highlighting various methods – drop sets, assisted reps, rest/pause, etc.  I’ve written about many of these here, here and here (and probably many more past articles).  But it seems common knowledge that you just can’t do drop sets all the time – you’ll burn out.  John Meadows does a great job explaining a fairly simple technique to periodize these methods – you can start following it immediately:
http://www.t-nation.com/training/planned-brutality     .

Intensity image from t-nation

I’m trying very hard to avoid processed wheat (though not worried about being gluten free) and I recently wrote about a great no-wheat bread recipe.  But what about pizza?  Pizza (plus bacon and protein oatmeal) is one of my favorite foods so I went in search of a wheat-free pizza crust.  After reading several, I tried this one (link below). Result: easy, great texture, excellent appearance, but kinda bland in taste. Secret tip in this recipe is the use of parchment paper:
http://www.sundayscratchups.com/gluten-free-low-carb-almond-flour-pizza-crust/ .

Women get such awful fitness advice. I have no idea why, but for decades women’s “return on exercise” (meaning, the benefits they get from the amount of time they put into it) has been low. The keys to what mistakes women make – and what do to about it are in this great article from the Poliquin Group. I’ve shared this with my family (all female except me) though they’ve heard me say all this before. You should share it too:
http://www.poliquingroup.com/
.

Any topics you want to hear more about?

Sincerely, Darrin

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Suddenly butter isn’t bad for you anymore. I don’t know how it started but for the past 20 years or so butter was evil and margarine was good; now it’s reversed. Given the process involved in creating butter (pretty basic) and how long butter has been around (very long), I’m siding with the traditional view that butter is good and margarine is evil. Read for yourself this nice summary by Dr. Mercola:
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/06/23/butter-trans-fat.aspx  .

There are countless rep schemes lifters can use to get results.  While I think the optimal range varies based on a TON of factors (including your goals, your current fitness level, your joint health, your age, your eating habits, your other non-lifting exercises, etc. and let’s not forget genetics), I think Christian does a great job categorizing these:
http://www.t-nation.com/training/22-proven-rep-schemes  .

Do you have tight hamstrings? There’s a really good chance it’s because of weak glutes. I can tell you from personal experience that when I started properly training glutes, most of my hamstring tightness dissipated (including less cramping when running). This great article by Chad Waterbury (on Brett’s site) highlights that there are simple ways to train glutes very frequently. The link on that site is Brett’s affiliate link – prefer to use my affiliate link, just email me and I’ll get it to you.
http://bretcontreras.com/the-glutes-can-take-a-beating/  .

Enjoy!  Darrin

no-wheat-low-carb-bread

An easy, great tasting no-wheat, low-carb bread

I’ve been experimenting with making “bread”.  I put that in quotes, because I didn’t want mine to have any wheat in it.  I wasn’t going for gluten-free per se, but really wanted to avoid grains.  It turned out to be quite a challenge but I finally got things right – the result is super easy to make, tastes great, and has the macro-nutrient profile I was looking for.

First, I’m not one of these guys who thinks Carbs are Evil.  Carbs are not evil.  They do not make you fat (unless the rest of your diet and exercise stinks).  Edible food-like substances (pop-tarts, donuts, kids cereal, most rolls and breads, etc.) are junk food and it’s a shame to lump them into the same family as carbs like oats, or potatoes.  So no, I’m not anti-carb.

In fact, you might have seen one of my most popular recipes for The World’s Best Tasting, Fastest, Healthiest Homemade Protein Bars, which certainly are not low carb.

But there are times when you might not want to ingest starches yet still crave a carb-like experience.

For example, I am soooo tired of eating burgers without a bun. [Not because I'm anti-carb but because buns are garbage calories; i.e. junk food.]  If you are like me, then read on.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Can you possibly lose fat or even gain muscle while on vacation?  Absolutely.  It’s not easy of course.  You are on vacation after all, so you probably want to indulge and eat and relax. Here are some tips to actually lose fat and/or gain muscle and STILL have a fun indulgent vacation.

fat loss muscle gain on vacation

You can lose fat and/or gain muscle even while on vacation

Let’s say you are taking a one week or two week holiday.  You can do a lot of damage to your body in 14 days of eating junk, drinking, and laying around the beach.  Don’t let that be you!  You can be the person who comes back from vacation not just well rested and rejuvenated but also in better shape!  An important step is to plan ahead – waiting until you are on vacation is too late.  So good for you for reading this article now.

These are notes partially to myself (I’m on vacation as I write this).  And as with many of the approaches I take, I need to thank Tom Venuto and his Burn The Fat ebook.

1. Find A Gym – Chances are, there is a gym near your vacation spot.  Search before you leave, find out if they have a power rack or squat rack.  (Yes, you’ll still do the Big Seven as your primary lifts).  Find one with day passes.

2.  Time Your Workouts around the “indulgent” meal.  You’ve heard me (and countless others) talk about how important it is to feed your muscle within that 1 to 2 hour block around your workout.  You need protein and carbs to start the repair process.  Many people advocate eating most of your calories for the day around this window (shake before, shake during, big meal afterwards).  Well, if you are on vacation and you love big, crazy breakfasts, then workout in the morning before you indulge.  If instead you are going to go hog-wild over dinner, then workout beforehand.

3. Count Calories – Calories do still count.  There’s no magic here – if you eat more than your body uses then you will gain fat.  I believe it’s more complicated than just counting calories (hormones play a huge role) but for some people, the logical process of counting calories let’s them eat crazy for a meal, then dial it back the rest of the day.  Which brings me to… Read the rest of this entry »

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traditional vs core training

How does core training differ from “traditional training”?

Guest Author:  Cameron Stache.  Cameron is a veteran fit coach for The Rush Fitness Complex in North Carolina.  He has experience in multiple types of training, fitness sales, and even trained managers for the company.  He is a certified Nutrition Coach through Dotfit and has trained people ranging from teenagers to seniors with goals as varying as weight loss, muscle growth, performance gains, or even preparation for military enlistment.

About two weeks ago I was walking to my vehicle in the parking lot of work and ran into a member of our gym.  He started talking to me about how he saw trainers using BOSUs (“The half-moon blow up thingy” as he called it) and other different things like medicine balls and such that weren’t “effective” at training.  And that everything needed to be done in a “power stance” or it wasn’t doing any good.  I’ll be the first to admit, there are MANY times where this equipment is used by some co-workers, and honestly, myself in the past now that I think about it, in ways that really are more inefficient than not using it.  However, the real point is that he has a common thought process of most old-school (and many new-school) lifters.  In fact, many readers of WFN articles would be in this “old school, over 40” bracket.  Bottom line: the training they were doing wasn’t the same that he was doing.  He saw “different” (which makes sense, because many people have different goals and focuses of training) and interpreted that as “wrong.”  This is extremely common in this field, even among professionals, because it’s so rapidly evolving.  Even the entire principle of how a muscle works is still only theory.  What he was witnessing was Core Training.

Core Training (a.k.a. “Balance Training” for its style of exercises) has been Read the rest of this entry »

I recently wrote about how most yogurt should be thought of as a carb, not a protein.

pic: Protein Bars Are Mostly Carbs
Protein Bars Are Mostly Carbs

Well, would you believe the same holds true for so-called “protein bars”?

Most protein bars are really only about 30% protein!  50% is carbs and 20% is fat.

So that makes protein bars essentially “candy bars with some protein”.

Let’s look at some labels:

PowerBar ProteinPlus:  23g protein BUT 39g carb and 6g fat.  Remembering that fat has 9 kcal/g and protein and carbs each have 4 kcal/g, that puts it at about 52% carbs, 30% protein, and 18% fat.

Detour “Low Sugar” Whey Protein Bar:  30g protein BUT 33g carb and 10g fat.  That translates to 39% carb, 35% protein, and 26% fat.  Note that this is the “low sugar” version which is still mostly carbs and only 1/3 protein.

I could go on and on but I’ll leave you by repeating the phrase I use with my kids:  “Protein bars are fine as a treat, but think of them as candy bars with protein.”

If you want to plan for the worst, keep protein powder, a shaker bottle, and a bottled water in your car.  That’s $5 – cheaper than 2″ candy bars with protein” and way better for you.  (I’d suggest casein protein if you have the option.)

Two other things to watch for:

a) soy-based protein

b) “energy” bars, where protein is even lower – like 10%!  The packages look the same but these are really just candy bars

Look, I’m a practical guy.  There are times when you are “stranded” or totally rushed and can’t get real food.  Or maybe on a long flight you get one to stow and eat after 3 hrs.  For most of you, this is once or twice a year but even the busiest of you shouldn’t be eating these things more than once a month.  How serious are you about your fitness?  If you are, then you’ll plan ahead and never be caught having to resort to “candy bars with protein”.

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