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.
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… (more…)
The video itself says it all (just click to see the video – only 3 minutes long but worth every second):
Written by Jason
Alright, let’s be honest, we all have those days where it’s tough to get up and go to the gym. You can think of a thousand reasons not to do it, and of course it’s so easy to rationalize that skipping just one day won’t hurt anything.
Don’t get me wrong, you’re body needs plenty of rest for recovery, but plenty of rest can quickly turn into laziness if you let it go too far.
So let’s talk about the other side of things. There are also a million reasons for you to get into the gym. Everything in your life… literally everything can be improved by your workouts, either directly or indirectly. Yep, it’s all connected.
1. Confidence: Some studies have shown that heavy, compound lifts activate the endocrine system and release anabolic hormones into your body such as testosterone. This makes you feel strong and confident. It takes the fear out of you and makes you feel like a real man… no, actually, it does make you into a real man. We’re talking about natural testosterone and its benefits here… this is very different than the synthetic hormones/steroids and their negative side effects. This is ok for the ladies too, since testosterone will only be released in much smaller amounts.
2. Dating: You can tell yourself all day long that you’re not shallow and looks don’t matter… but the reality is that a good looking body is always a plus when it comes to dating. Always. Going from overweight to lean & muscular can dramatically alter your ability to attract the opposite sex. So, if a girl has rejected you recently… maybe it’s not that she was rude or didn’t like you… maybe you’re just too fat. Do something about it.
3. Sleep Better: Most people with sleeping disorders are leading sedentary lives. Studies have shown that the amount of time required to fall asleep is cut in half when you’re working out. Hitting the hay never felt as good as it does after a workout.
4. School: Your workouts will sharpen your brain’s function by increasing the flow of oxygen it can receive. That translates to better grades in school and better job performance. Besides, too much fat can clog your brain… ok, not really, but it is harder to have the clear mind and focus when you’re really out of shape.
5. Enjoy Food More: All this working out will help you to realize that you don’t like to eat crap food anymore. Your appetite will start to increase as your body recovers from heavy workouts, and all those lean meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes… they suddenly start to taste a lot better. You body will demand real nourishment.
6. Look Better, Feel Better: This will help you with #2. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve the way you look. It’s not vain… it’s human. More people should try to do this through exercise.
7. Water: It never tasted so good as it does after a heavy set. This will help you to kick the soda/junk food habit.
8. Sex life: Increased strength, speed, endurance, stamina, flexibility… enough said.
9. Happiness: You just plain feel good when your body releases endorphins into your blood stream, so go out and get that natural high. You’re less likely to be moping around, sad about life or getting depressed about all the bad things that happened to you. You’ll become one of those positive people who are successful and driven.
10. Dedication: Speaking about success, the hard work ethic you develop in the gym doesn’t drop dead at the door when you leave. That tough guy that you built in the gym walks out of the gym with you, and he knows how to work hard in life. If you have the willpower to finish a tough set of 20-rep squats, you’ll have the willpower to do anything hard in life.
11. Progressive Overload: This term doesn’t apply to the gym only. Your muscles grow as you gradually increase the stress placed on them, and improvement in life follows the same pattern. You learn step-by-step, and you always improve just a little bit at a time. Instead of running from the tough things in life like most people do, you’ll know that these are what make you stronger. You will embrace the challenges in life.
12. Take the edge off: Those giant, juiced-up guys on steroids give us all a bad name with their attitude and bad temper. The truth is, a heavy weight lifting session will calm you down more than anything, and it’s the perfect outlet. Channel your anger and frustration into the bar, not the people around you.
13. Energy: You’re sleeping better and your workouts are giving you steady energy throughout the day. You won’t have to be cranking down coffee or riding the caffeine roller coaster to get through the morning. You’ll have a steady stream of consistent energy that will give you an advantage over the people around you.
14. Stop being a wuss: Once you toughen up the inner man, you won’t have to whine or complain about hard things in life anymore. In fact, you might even begin to volunteer for doing the tough things in life because you know that the only way to grow is by going heavy, whether it’s in the gym or anywhere else.
And you thought you were only making your muscles bigger…
I’d love to hear how training has improved your life as well.
Your body is 100% unable to do anything that your brain does not tell it to do. Period.
For every movement you make, and for every action you take, the initiation and completion begins and ends with the signals that come from your brain. Since your brain is the central command center for your body, it makes sense that improving the function of your mind also improves your physical capabilities.
This improvement can be accomplished through mental rehearsal and visualization. By using your mind to visualize the actions you will take, dramatic increases in performance are possible. Here is an example:
Individuals were divided into 3 groups. Each group was tested to see how many free throws they could successfully shoot with a basketball at the beginning and the end of the study.
Group A: Practiced free throws for 20 minutes
Group B: Did not practice free throws at all
Group C: Practiced mental free throws every night for 20 minutes. No real free throws were done, only a mental rehearsal and visualization of each free throw.
The results were as follows:
Group A: Increased their free-throw percentages by 24%.
Group B: Saw no increase in free-throw averages.
Group C: Increased their free-throw percentages by 23%. Remember, this is only using mental practice and visualization.
Numerous other studies have been conducted with similar results. Also, read about this Vietnam POW who spent years in a prison camp and dramatically improved his golf game by playing an 18-hole course every day in his head.
This technique works in all sports fields. Proper visualization techniques have also been used by many strength and training coaches to help athletes achieve their potential.
When visualization is helpful:
- Technical Lifts: The big lifts that require proper form and coordination of the muscles will especially benefit from visualization (power clean, deadlift, bench press, rows, squats, overhead press, etc). Other lifts will benefit as well.
- Coordination sports: Making a pass in American football, free kick in soccer, handoff in track events, the flip turn in a swim meet, and of course free throws in basketball. These are all examples of conditioning your motor units to perform correctly when the time arrives.
- Perseverance: Conditioning your mind to push yourself when your body doesn’t want to keep pushing. The last lap of a distance race, the end of a wrestling match, or the final squat of your heaviest set… prepare your mind to push yourself to new standards.
When visualization is not helpful:
- Absolute beginners: Visualization can be dangerous for beginners who do not have correct form down. If you haven’t developed good form yet, visualizing your exercises and movements will only help to reinforce those incorrect movements in your mind. Perfect your form first, then use visualization as a method of improvement.
- Avoidance: Do not focus on what you should avoid or correcting problems. Think of how to perform each motion correctly, and avoid all negative thoughts of the problems that can go wrong. Visualization works best with a positive mental focus and seeing how things should function correctly.
How to use visualization:
The key is that your visualization must be vivid and detailed. You must get into the frame of mind where your senses go through the movement you are trying to improve. For improving your squat, think of the sights, sounds, and feeling that go along with the movement.
Start by taking the weight of the bar on your back and getting into position. Feel where your hands grip the bar and where it rests on your shoulders. Hear the sound of the plates rattling as you lower down to the bottom of the movement.
Feel your legs press as you move back upward, driving through the hips. Condition your mind to focus on the things you will do correctly, such as keeping your back straight, your knees out, glutes active, and your abs tight as you complete the movement. Go through the entire set until you rack the bar. Visualize other exercises in a similar manner.
Go through these exercises when you have a relaxing moment or before you go to bed at night. These mental exercises can be done as often as you have time for them. You will gain more by doing them often often and in short sessions of 20 minutes instead of doing one long session every now and then.
The mind’s eye:
Of course, you will not see long-term increases in your strength or body type by simply using your mind every day. Mental visualization is only a tool to help you improve your efficiency when you put these thoughts into real action.
That’s why visualization is such a powerful technique. You learn that the strength and shape of your body is directly tied to your mind. The mind-body connection requires that you condition your mind first, and then your mind will send the correct signals to help you lift properly and strengthen your muscles.
Build your mental strength, and your mind will then push your body to follow closely behind it. Remember, it’s not about relying on your mind instead of what really matters. It is about using your mind over the matter.
Think you’re too wimpy or too small to be seen in a gym? Better think again.
His name is Aditya, but his friends call him Romeo. He is 2’9” tall, weighs in at less than 20 pounds, and feels no shame whatsoever as throngs of people come to see him as the smallest bodybuilder ever.
And why should he feel any shame whatsoever?
What is wrong with being born with a frame that’s smaller or larger than usual?
Yeah, I know that it’s easy for a beginner to feel out of place in a gym. You’re struggling to press an empty bar while some beast of a man is pressing 500 pounds next to you. You might feel (more…)
Image Credit: neloqua
With the new year a few weeks behind us, now is a great time to look at our New Year’s resolutions and evaluate how we will achieve them. It’s sad, but many people set goals that they will never achieve.
But being lazy is not the only reason that people don’t achieve their goals. There’s another reason why you you’re not getting what you want: You haven’t set the right goals.
It happens all the time. Some people set a goal like: I want to lose 25 pounds in the next three months. Is this really the goal though? Maybe it is, but my guess is that most people with these kinds of goals need to dig a little bit deeper inside of themselves.
Why do you want to lose 25 pounds or increase your bench press by 30 pounds? For many people, the answer might be that they want to look better. So the true goal is to look and feel better, and increasing your bench press or losing 25 pounds is what you believe you need to do to get there, whether that’s actually the truth or not.
So, you need a goal to get you from point A [where you are right now] to point B [where you want to be]. Knowing point A is easy because you’re already there, but clearly envisioning point B will require a little more effort. Think about what you really want to achieve as your goal.
Finally, you’ll have to mentally create the road that connects point A and point B. You’ll need to have a plan that will get you where you want to go. This is a lot like looking at a map before you start driving.
Some people might say ‘Hey, I don’t have time to look at a map because I’m in a huge hurry’. The truth is, you don’t have time to drive around without looking at a map first. You could drive around all day before you find the place you’re looking for. The same is true for your goals.
So here are 5 essential tips that can help you to set your goals more effectively.
1. Simple and measurable: Your goal should be simple enough that you can easily remember it throughout the day. Simplicity and specificity can sometimes be opposites, so you will need to strike a healthy balance between saying too much and saying too little.
At the very least, your goal should say what you are trying to accomplish and how. The “how” of your goal should be something that you can easily measure. For example:
“My goal is to do 3 sets of the bench press with a target pressing weight of 150 pounds twice a week. I’ll measure I’ll goal by recording it in my training log at the end of each workout.”
2. Write them down and share with others: Once you have a goal that is specific and measurable, write it down. Tell other people about it and just get it out there. Post your written goals somewhere where you are likely to see them again. Maybe your bathroom mirror is a good place. This will remind you at a regular interval to rededicate to your plan.
Telling other people is the first step in moving your goal beyond something that exists in your mind only. Move them outside of your mind by sharing them. Have your friends and family members follow up with you from time to time. Just knowing that they will ask about your goal will help you to keep the motivation you need.
3. Think about your goals throughout the day: Think about your goals whenever you can. When you keep your goals at the forefront of your mind, inspiration and meaning will flow through you. Certain events that happen throughout your day will bring new meaning and new direction to your goals. Ideas will spring forth from your mind that you never expected. The parts of your day that are usually boring will become opportunities to plan and strategize.
Even the busiest of people will have the time to do this. This is because the simple act of thinking is something that we can do literally anywhere. Some of the best times to think will be in the restroom or the shower, on your way to work in the car, waiting in line at lunch time, or as you fall asleep at night. With time, you will even begin to think about your goals in your sleep!
4. Set goals that you can achieve: If you achieve your goals 100% of the time, then you are not setting your goals high enough… right? Wrong. Your goal should be something that you can certainly achieve if you follow through. The reason we often miss the mark for our goals is that we set the wrong kind of goal. We set a goal to have a certain outcome. Try setting a performance-based goal instead of a goal that focuses on a certain outcome… the outcome is still very important, but this shifts the focus to the actions that you should be taking. More on performance-based goals in part 2.
5. Create a plan to achieve your goals: Without a plan, you are lost. Back to our example of building a muscular body- to achieve this goal, you will need to asses the weak points of your body and make a plan to bring them up to speed. You will need to decide which exercises will help you to meet your goals and how you will do them.
Your plan might include things like your eating habits, your workout frequency, finding a gym partner, deciding on how you will do your cardio, etc. Just recognize ahead of time that your plan will probably have to change at some point. You won’t be able to get the same results from doing the same things forever. Always stay one step ahead of yourself by constantly reevaluating your methods.
Image Credit: Gio Foto
This article was written by Jason.
I hate the basics.
It doesn’t matter what it is, we simply don’t want basic things in life. Nobody wants to go out and buy a basic car if they could afford something nicer. We don’t like to have basic computers or basic cameras either… we want the fast computers or the cameras will all the hi-tech features.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting more than the basics. We don’t want to live basic lives, we don’t want to buy things that are the bare-bones basics, and we naturally want something more than a basic workout that gives basic results.
In addition, no matter how important it can be to learn the basics rules about whatever you are doing, learning the basics can be a real pain.
I remember taking a basic golf course in college. The teacher made us learn the basics of each golf swing by having us practice every day without a golf club in our hands. I became so frustrated by pretending to play golf each day that I wish I had a real club just so I could smash something with it.
Everybody in my golf class felt that way. We all wanted to learn how to play golf, and just sitting around all day looking at the most basic movements was a real frustration. It’s the same thing with anything we pursue; we naturally want to move beyond the basic level as quickly as possible.
Going to the gym isn’t much different either. You don’t want to have a basic body — you want an amazing body, right? So why would you do the basic exercises if having a basic body isn’t what you want?
That’s why I don’t like using the word “basic” to describe the most useful exercises… it’s very misleading.
The Accelerated Course
It’s just too easy to get caught up in all the details of what we’re trying to do in life. We often waste our time doing all the little things when there’s something big that needs to be done first.
It’s like trying to sweep the floor in your house when there’s a big elephant in the living room that won’t stop crapping on the floor. Take care of the big things first, and then the small details will be easy.
I get the feeling that a lot of us are doing the same thing in the gym. We’re trying to focus on the little details of our workouts like putting some little line on our biceps or a little “cut” in our shoulders. These types of exercises do have their place, but focusing on the details doesn’t get you very far in the beginning.
So why not take the accelerated course when you’re in the gym? You’ll get where you’re trying to go much faster, and you’ll even pick up a lot of the details along the way.
The strange thing is, (more…)
This post is part 2 of a 2 part series. In part 1, Starvation is Not the Answer, we talked about how under eating can slow down your metabolism and make you fatter.
Here’s a piece of information that some of you will be glad to hear – Eating enough food each day will help you to keep fat off of your body. You are going to have to forget the idea that cutting fat comes from just eating less food; it’s simply not the truth.
This is the part that is hard for many people to accept when you are trying to cut some fat. Switching to smaller and more frequent meals throughout the day will actually cause your metabolism to stabilize.
You might be eating more food overall throughout the day, but eating even amounts of food throughout the day will help you to keep your metabolism higher. The key will be to make the following things happen:
1. Feed your body: Like we discussed before, (more…)