by Juston Torres-Gibbs | Feb 15, 2023 | Bodybuilding, Exercise, Nutrition
You have to get creative. This isn’t a particularly difficult answer, but it also isn’t a simple one. There’s no “just x” or “all you’ve gotta do is y”. When your body’s drained, and both calories and carbs are on the low (particularly the latter, given how their absence depletes the body of glycogen), figuring out how to get a pump on a cut becomes an outright challenge. But not to worry, it’s not a problem without a solution, and a solution- multiple solutions, actually, are what I have for you today.
Now into the specifics: what exact steps can we take to pump up our pump game while calories are on the low?
A pump is everything for some of us. That temporary rush of blood to the muscle and everything it provides. I mean, the aesthetic fullness, the satisfying “tight” sensation, that feeling of your shirt tightening around you as if you’re about to burst out of it from all the gains you’re making. And of course, popping off the pump cover and taking a moment to appreciate the fruits of your labor at their most presentable. But when that pump becomes more and more unachievable, with sessions just leaving you further depleted and lacking that sense of satisfaction, your physique flat and fatigued, something needs to be done.
In this article, we’re going to detail some of the steps you can take when you find that the fat-loss process is beginning to push you a little bit too far into depletion. By the time we’re through here, you’ll be feeling like the G.O.A.T. back in 77. Let’s dive into the first tip:
Controlling Water & Sodium Intake to Compensate for the Calories Cut
The incorporation of sodium i.e. salt pre-workout has numerous benefits, including
- Improving “mind-muscle” connection i.e. neuromuscular efficiency
- Optimizes hydration
- Maintains fluid balance
- Outright improves strength (primarily but not solely through the first listed benefit)
All of these are desirable in and of themselves, but also leading into the focus here, which is that directly as well as indirectly through the aforementioned benefits,
Salt gives you better pumps
How? Well, aside from the indirect benefits above, sodium draws water into the cells, and said intracellular water retention, on a macroscopic scale, equates to a glorious, skin-splitting, shirt-tearing, head-turning pump.
All you need to do is mix about a pinch of table salt, or Himalayan pink salt if you wanna go the extra mile, into your pre-workout (water will do also). An ideal time frame of 30min-1h before training hits right on the mark. By the time you start moving that weight around the room, you’ll feel the blood making its way to the muscle, bringing a smile to Arnold’s face, wherever he may be.
How Simple Sugars Before and During a Workout Can Help Get A Pump
I hope you’ve got a sweet tooth because salty isn’t all that’s on the menu; gotta save room for dessert! Granted, on a cut, there isn’t much room for hyper-calorie-dense sugary goodness, but a controlled dose at the right time can be more than worth it.
Now, the specification of simple sugars is due to the fact that not any old sugar will do. We’re specifically looking for monosaccharides. Due to the nature of their simplistic molecular structure, they pass directly into the bloodstream after consumption rather than needing time to be metabolized in another organ, making them perfect for our goal. Some examples of pump-inducing, monosaccharide-packed foods include:
- Honey (often favored)
- Fresh fruits (grapes, mangos, bananas, strawberries, etc)
- Breakfast Cereals
- Most Candies (chocolate, gummies, cookies, etc)
In a pinch, there are other options that can be resorted to; ground black pepper, or milk, given that they contain trace amounts of the same sugars, or are quickly digested into the simplistic ones we’re looking for. Ideally, though, we’d favor the options on the list, in the list’s particular order.
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Prioritizing the Pump During a Portion of the Routine
There’s more to the pump than just what goes into your body. We’ve also got to take a look at what’s being put out.
These prior sections advise you on what to do to provide yourself with the fuel necessary, but now let’s talk action: how can you train in a way that brings on a proper pump when it seems to elude you?
Well, depending on your training style, anywhere from a little to a lot. Your exercise choice, rest periods, as well as overall space and intensity are going to have a make-or-break impact on the pump you yield from your session.
Are you pushing plain old sets for lower reps, just shy of failure? Or are you incorporating higher volume work? Explosive concentrics, or time-under-tension? What about drop sets and cluster sets, do they have their place? You’re in a battle right now, and you’d do well to make use of every tool in your arsenal.
Here’s an example of a typical pull day. Alongside it, a tweaked version for achieving an optimum pump:
|Pull Ups 4x 8-12
||Pull Ups 4x 8-12, last set a cluster set of 4 reps on, 10 seconds off until failure
|Dumbbell Rows 4x 8-12
||Dumbbell Rows 3x 10-15, last set double drop set with a slow (2 seconds down 1 second up) tempo
|Dumbbell Curl 4x 10-15
||Cable Curls 4x 12-15, switching to cables to allow for greater time under tension
|Facepull 4x 20
||Unilateral Rear Delt Cable Fly 4x 15-20, giving a greater stretch and allowing for better mind-muscle connection
|Shrugs 4x 6-8
||Shrugs 4x 6-8, same heavy work, just holding drop setting the last set with an isometric hold to failure
I guarantee you that once you try both, the difference in pump will be astounding. What you put in is what you get out, so if you want to get a pump out of it, you’ve gotta put in the work.
Rebalancing the Ratio of Rest Days and Training Days
This next section focuses on inaction rather than action. If you’re deep enough into a cut that getting a pump is becoming an issue, it’s worth re-evaluating your current lifting scheme. Perhaps a little extra rest could help you get a better ROI in terms of energy put in and gains gotten out.
You see, this isn’t a period during which you’ll be building significant amounts of muscle, but rather, are fighting to preserve the muscle you have. Your body’s into a catabolic state, doing away with the unwanted fat smothering your gains. Because of this, we find ourselves in a “stimulate don’t annihilate” scenario, in which less is more, and very explicitly so.
Junk volume is something you can more easily get away with during a period of surplus. In times of nutritional scarcity, though, it borders on outright sin. Once you’ve sufficiently stimulated the muscle enough for both tissue and strength retention, you’d do best to rebalance your efforts elsewhere. You can improve your metabolic conditioning, or focus on flexibility (both of which are great in and of themselves but will also be conducive towards a better pump long term).
The main benefit achieved through this, however, is a less exhaustive depletion of your glycogen storages. What does this mean? It means that on the days that you DO lift, achieving a pump will be that much easier. And this need not come at any detriment, given that you can easily compensate for the caloric burn elsewhere. Be it in the pursuits mentioned above, or other leisure activities, from long walks to surfing. As long as you’re proportionally active, no negative changes with be made.
So re-think your weekly approach, and perhaps 4 days over 5 will suit you better in the long term, dedicating that 5th day to an active recovery; this game is about quality over quantity, after all, and that’s what this all boils down to.
Beyond the Pump: How Can You Take Your Training Further?
A lot of information has just been dumped in your lap, and if you’re at all like me, I’d wager there’s a lingering worry regarding if it will stick, if you’ll incorporate it past the first few tries, if you’ll actually take these changes on or if they’ll becoming another set of good ideas that get lost in the clutter, leaving you with that same feeling that you’re spinning your wheels. Thankfully though, we can avoid falling into that trap again right now.
Forget doing this alone, scrounging and scavenging for whatever tip and secret might give you an edge if haphazardly rammed into your routine. Take a step in the right direction by placing your trust in someone who’s dedicated their life to this, who’s made the mistakes, learned the lessons, dodged the curveballs (and gotten hit by a few as well), all of which experiences that have helped them reach a point at which they can guide others, help them avoid those same mistakes and rocket past each milestone with the help of someone who knows the way. Click here, if you’re ready to stop kicking the can and start putting in the work.
by Juston Torres-Gibbs | Feb 6, 2023 | Bodybuilding, Exercise, Nutrition
So the holidays are upon us, Thanksgiving binging has been had and Christmas binging approaches. As we indulge and eat our hearts out with family and friends, the pang of guilt can’t be fully ignored, and the thought lingers in our minds: “How much damage am I doing right now?”, “What will I have to do to balance this out afterward?”, or, more realistically, “Can I even make up for this?”.
Well, in my opinion, that’s no way to be spending the holidays. During a time that’s supposed to be focused on joy and celebration, the last thing you need plaguing you is a persistent lingering worry that said enjoyment is just going to equate to more work after the fact; I’m here to tell you that not only can you make up for it, but you can also enjoy yourself in such a way that requires no compensating for in the first place.
So what’s the “secret”? How can I enjoy my holidays to their fullest, and know assuredly that I’ll be able to bounce right back, or not even have to in the first place?
Well, sadly, the secret to making up for the holiday binge is in fact no secret at all, but rather the same core truth you’ve most likely heard parroted before: consistency, precision, and discipline. Now, this isn’t “How to avoid binging on the holidays”, this is “What can I do to make up for holiday binging?”. We’re here to tell you how you can still very much partake in the festivities, and through these principles, enjoy the best of both rather than believing that one can only exist without the other.
Assessing the Damage
First and foremost, we need to understand what it is we’re tackling here. You’ve got to take a moment and truly, honestly (a key factor most delude themselves into overlooking) assess just how far off the deep end you went. Always best to overestimate than to leave yourself falling short.
So, let’s take a moment to think back and talley up the most important factors in order to paint as accurate a picture as possible:
- How many days were we “off-plan”? Both training and food wise respectively
- How heavy was the binge?
- Was there drinking involved? And if so, how much?
All questions that’ll give us an idea of how to tackle things moving forward.
Let’s say, for example, that we’re reflecting on a particularly rough Christmas. Drinks were had, sweets were savored, and by the end of the holidays, the turkey had nothing on how stuffed you were. By answering the questions above, we’re left with the following answers:
- The night of the 24th to the night of the 31st, making a total of 7 ½ days; we’ll round up to 8.
- Not particularly abusive, just indulging in holiday treats here and there, and an “eyeballed” approach rather than strict portion control throughout.
- Heavy drinking on the main days (⅜), with only the odd glass here and there on those in-between.
Now, with this, we have the directions with which to draw up the roadmap that’ll help you get back on track, averaging out the damage done with recovery efforts made, so that your goals are no farther than they have to be.
Formulating a “Holiday Binge” Recovery Plan
We’ve got our guidelines, we know what needs compensating for, and in this next step, we’ll lay out just how to do it.
Now, for the first factor, it’ll be pretty straightforward in the sense that we’ll want to dedicate a somewhat proportionate amount of time cleaning up as we did messing up, so in this case, given the week of complacency towards our overall regime, we’ll take a starting point of a week, before our next point, which will be evaluating the intensity of the off-days themselves.
By gauging to what degree we over or under-ate, whether we at least trained those days or not, and how much it tallies up to in the end, we’ll be able to refine our plan further still. As an example, let’s say we didn’t train, and also completely disregarded our diet during this week, i.e. worst-case scenario (assuming weight loss was our goal).
For this scenario, we’ll want to overcompensate diet-wise, knocking off perhaps 20-30% of our calories, particularly from fat and carbohydrates, in that order of priority (not ever dipping below 1g/kg of bodyweight regarding dietary fats); Training-wise, we’ll want to toss in a supplemental dose of cardio, just for about the same time as was missed, although this can easily be something like a 1h walk rather than something as daunting as the Stairmaster, the treadmill, or the likes; just upping your daily energy expenditure that little bit more.
And finally, regarding alcohol intake, there are two ways in which it’ll influence the plan: directly proportional to how much was actually drunk, you’ll want to bump up the supplemental cardio (within reason), and more importantly, significantly increase water intake, should things have been particularly wild. The chronic dehydration effects of alcohol are no joke, and I’m willing to go out on a limb and assume that you didn’t make sure to have a glass of water between each drink, so I’m also going to have to insist that you get to chugging, because your body could definitely use it.
Being Prepared For Setbacks
The holidays aren’t the only time you’re going to find yourself straying from the routine, having slip-ups here and there; margin of error is a part of quite literally every endeavor we embark on, from a year-long business projection to cooking dinner for yourself each night. Maybe a partner doesn’t follow through and you fail to meet financial quarter expectations, or maybe you forget to bring down the heat on the rice and end up burning it, everything can and will get messed up every once and a while. It’s how you handle this reality that will set you apart.
Your fitness regime is just that, a regime: a system, a planned way of doing things. Within that system, you’ve got to have contingencies. Give yourself some breathing room when it comes to training, to your daily calorie count, to your weekly sessions, not so that you can fail daily without consequence, but to avoid “failing” entirely by having said mistakes factored into the plan, and adjusting accordingly.
Here’s a table with some example scenarios and respective actions that can be taken.
|Used way too much oil when cooking, and am now 200kcal over “budget”
||Run a couple of miles, or substitute rice for potatoes that evening, cutting calories in half
|Missed a Monday session, throwing off the whole week
||Restructure the week, incorporating the days into each other to compress the routine down, or train on a weekend day (exciting, I know)
|Hurt my arm, can’t train upper body this week
||Consider a deload week or alternate training such as cycling or a mobility-focused routine
|Accidentally hit the wrong weight, and am now in too deep to backtrack
||Adjust in terms of volume, or rest time, making sure to still induce some form of progressive overload
Making mistakes is ok, giving up because of them is not. Give yourself contingencies, and watch yourself grow into the consistent, fine-tuned athlete your work will drive you to be.
Truly Sticking to the Plan
As trivial as this next point may seem it’s actually crucial.
Whatever contingencies you do set up for yourself, you have to follow them. If you or your coach have decided that missing a single session a week is fine, then that’s ok, but if you haven’t, then you can’t bargain with yourself as to why it should still be ok. Establishing rules, and mustering the discipline to follow them is all we have. It is the only way you’re going to become what you can be and stop being what you were.
It can often seem like an unrealistic goal, seemingly too far off or unachievable, not yours to attain, and while that’s not true, the reason it seems that way is because for many, it might as well be, for the simple fact that it is not easy. If you want to look like someone that does difficult things, you’re going to have to play the part in order to look it. There’s a quote I’m reminded of when discussing matters like these:
“Without commitment, you’ll never start, but without consistency, you’ll never finish.” -Denzel Washington
Now, you’ve committed, you’ve taken the first big step and gotten the ball rolling, but it’s not the most difficult one. You’ve gotta keep that ball rolling if you want it to get where it needs to go, and sometimes, most times, that can be difficult, especially alone. But you don’t have to do it alone.
What to Do When It All Seems Like Too Much
Changing your physique is no easy feat in and of itself, and even less so when you’re faced with scenarios like these. The hurdles, the roadblocks, the twists and turns, they’re all obstacles that will be faced at some point or another throughout your journey, and continuously at that. There’s a reason less than 2% of the world’s population is in what’s considered “athletic shape”, meaning they both look the part and perform accordingly. And that reason is that it’s not something most people can put together alone in this day and age. But like I said, there’s no reason you have to do it alone
If you come under my coaching, you’ll take the first step toward your physical goals, with the help of someone harboring decades of experience under their belt to guide you along the way, and make sure that these obstacles you’ll face are blown past with ease. Click here, and begin a new chapter, one that’ll end with you exactly where you want to be.
by Fred Chevry | Dec 2, 2022 | Exercise
Yes! As surprising as that may be for many to read, consistent sports massages will in fact lead – albeit with the odd degree of separation – to greater muscle growth in the mid to long term. The mechanisms through which these results are achieved is often unexpected, but the literature leaves no room for interpretation; if incorporated correctly, massage work will further boost your calf development.
So how do you start using this new information to grow your calves?
Now, I can imagine this is exciting news; if you’ve struggled with calf growth even half as much as I have, this could seem like the light at the end of the tunnel. As ridiculously stubborn as calves can be, anything promising to actually make them pack some tissue on can not only be exciting but also seem too good to be true, especially given how simple this solution presents itself to be.
I assure you though, as suspiciously clear-cut as this may seem at a glance, once we dive into the details, the pieces will begin to fall into place, and paint a picture that’ll make you wonder why you didn’t think of it sooner.
Let’s dive into the specifics and flesh out just how it is that they help, and more importantly, how you can make the most of them in order to really boost that lower leg hypertrophy.
How Exactly Do They Help With Growth?
As I mentioned above, there’s a degree of separation at play here: while supplementing a proper training regime with consistent sports massaging will in most cases result in an improvement muscle-growth-wise, it’s not the massage itself that directly incites increased tissue production.
The many benefits that the massages do bring, however, such as myofascial release, improved blood flow, and acutely heightened flexibility – with some studies (D’Andrea, 2016; Sağiroğlu, 2017; Stroiney et al., 2020) even finding improvements in muscle power, strength and agility -, all contribute significantly to an improvement in recovery and greater performance in concurrent sessions, leading to a higher intensity and total overall volume, which, you guessed it, means better results in the long run.
This isn’t going to be some saving grace, however, on which you can rely in order to lessen your efforts. You can consider more so to be the cherry on top of an already solid routine, helping squeeze out those few extra drops of calf growth from all your hard work.
When Should I Get These Massages Done?
Now, this is all good and dandy, another weapon in our arsenal for the battle against stubborn lower legs, but when is the time to unsheath this metaphorical sword and get to slashing and hacking? How do I fit these massages into the routine to yield maximum results? Two options lay before us, both of arguably similar efficacy:
- The day before a heavy session: As listed above, there are two main benefits to this method: the boost in recovery, and the priming effect for the next session, the latter of which we’d be looking to maximize with this approach. By timing the massage ~24h before your session, you’d both reap the greatest benefit in terms of performance increase, while giving your calves time to recover from the massage itself, lest power output is diminished when it comes time to actually train.
- ASAP post-session: On the other hand, should we choose to maximize the former benefits, ideally we’d get these massages done as soon as possible post-session, to ensure that the gains are capitalized on to their fullest throughout the entire recovery process.
Now to some, this may seem like a trivial difference, but anecdotally, it has proven to have a significant effect on the results athletes have obtained, and while we may not fully understand the mechanics at play, what one cannot argue with is a consistent trend of positive results. Something is at work here, and work well it does.
What About Frequency? How Often is Best?
This factor ties in more to the frequency of your calf training itself, which, contrary to popular belief stating that most if not all muscle groups have a similar enough fiber composition to make bi-weekly training sufficient, in reality evidence suggests up to ~4 sessions a week, typically on a day-on, day-off approach. This is due to the fact that the average gastrocnemius is composed of over 50% slow twitch muscle fibers, which, in summary, means that it isn’t nearly as responsive to the same kind of stimuli that, say, your pectoralis major will be.
Slow twitch muscle fibers tend to be pretty resistant to hypertrophy, period, but some growth can still be incited through lower intensity, higher volume work, i.e., 4 or even 5 sessions a week. This is, however, not the only approach to be taken, as we can’t forget that a 50% composition shouldn’t dictate the entirety of our training approach. Higher intensity methods can and should be applied, but variety will be key for ideal results.
|Increase in Results over previous step
So, circling back to the matter at hand: ideal training frequency comes down to 4-5 times a week, and if that doesn’t seem realistic within your routine, you can simply train them as many days as feasible to you, which would then triangulate into receiving just as many massages (for optimal results).
What Else Can I Do To Grow My Calves?
With the momentum built up from what we’ve just finished reading, I can imagine this question easily popping into your mind; what can I do to push growth further still?
Well, there’s a borderline bottomless depth of knowledge to delve into when it comes to tackling this very question, whether it’s unorthodox training methods, alternative forms of manual stimuli, enhanced recovery techniques, or other novel tackles, there are simply too many options for one to find themselves giving up on this pursuit, e.g.:
- Weighted Hiking/Uphill Walking
- Weighted Jump-Rope
- Explosive Eccentrics
- Cluster Sets
- Heavy Isometrics
And these are just some prominent examples, the list could go on. All this to say that while sometimes a lack of progress is frustrating, we can’t let ourselves fall into the comfortable pit of victimization; “Oh, I’m doing everything I’m supposed to and it’s still not working, it’s not my fault”. It’s a very easy thing to sink into. And while it may arguably not be your fault, it is indubitably your responsibility. Anything you want, training or otherwise, is in your hands to achieve. Whether you do the legwork yourself, seek help, or outright outsource it, it’s always going to be you that must take the initial step; now, speaking of that latter option…
What to Do When It Seems Like Nothing Else Is Working
As mentioned, sometimes, and especially when one simply has a plate too full for any other demanding responsibilities, the solution lies in accepting how others can help you, and outsourcing as much as one can elsewhere. This benefits not only your time management, but also brings to the table much that would otherwise be absent, such as a higher education in the subject matter at hand, years of expertise that have been curated through painstaking trial and error, making mistakes, and learning from them so that you don’t have to.
The advantages you gain from delegating the logistics of your fitness journey to an expert are undeniable, boosting you ahead of where you would have otherwise been, not to mention helping you stay consistent but helping you through the roadblocks that are inevitably faced, and allowing you to avoid the unnecessary ones entirely!
If you’re still on the fence regarding whether or not you need a personal trainer, perhaps sit for a second and evaluate what it means to “need” something to begin with; is it paramount to your survival? No, the only things you really need are food, water, and sleep. Is it going to boost you into a lifestyle that you’ve practically written off as a pipe dream, granting you levels of physical and mental confidence that are quite literally unachievable through other means? You’re damn right it will.
What you have in front of you is a ticket to the body, the physique, the lifestyle that you know you want, not because I’ll pick you up and drop you at your destination, no, but because I’ll help unlock the door, clear the path, and be your guide down the road that you’ll traverse on your own, growing physically (and mentally) along the way.
Sign up now, and let’s take that first step.
by Fred Chevry | Nov 11, 2022 | Exercise
You train. You eat. You stay consistent. That last step, however, is the exact issue. Staying consistent when your environment is not isn’t exactly smooth sailing, and for many is past the threshold of what they can realistically sustain, especially when looking to make a positive change rather than simply maintaining something pre-existing.
So where do you start?
Where anyone else would with these same goals; you just have to be ready for the extra degree of difficulty, the extra helping of obstacles, and the extra layer of complexity that this situation is going to throw your way.
It’s important that you remind yourself that you’re not going to be on some laidback spa vacation, at very least not in a physical sense. It’s not only easy to fall into a state of lackadaisicalness in circumstances like these, but almost inevitable for many (to some extent). Keeping your game face on and reminding yourself that you have work to get done will be essential to ensuring that you achieve the goals you set out for yourself.
Now, let’s get to the first, and arguably most important step, as it lays the foundation for the rest to follow.
Understanding What Getting In Shape While Traveling Entails
This may seem a tad on the nose, but you’d be surprised just how much can be avoided by taking a moment to actually go over and fully comprehend the scope of what you’re setting out to achieve. For this very reason, approximately 61% of people find themselves falling further out of shape while traveling. I myself have spent a substantial amount of time in SE Asia, and it’s not hard to see why; there’s a lot that caught me by surprise, simply because, as ready as you may be to answer certain questions, you need to ask them first. What do I mean by this? Well, for example:
- What will your training focus be? Gyms won’t be a guarantee, nor will their quality.
- What’s your diet going to look like? Access to kitchens or even solid food choices of any kind will also be pretty limited depending on your itinerary
- How will you balance fitness amongst your other pursuits? If you can’t achieve harmony, something, most likely fitness, will begin to slip
- What contingencies will you have? When traveling, unplanned scenarios are practically a guarantee, and you need to be ready to adapt accordingly
The list can go on, but the gist is pretty clear: getting in shape is already a difficult endeavor in and of itself, but to do so while traveling? That bumps up the difficulty considerably. If you want to do this, you’re going to have to come to terms with just how much of an effort it’s going to be, pull your socks up, and give it the work it requires, starting with our next segment.
Defining Clear & Concise Goals for Yourself
Again, seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? I’ve thought so in the past too, but akin to the last point, if left unattended, it can be the flaw that brings the whole house of cards tumbling down. When we hear “goals”, we think of our objectives, what we want to achieve, but it’s important to actually voice these, put them into words, give them structure, and build a concrete plan that you can use to not only steer yourself precisely in the right direction, but also track your progress, and maintain a sense of progression which is paramount to staying consistent with pursuits such as these.
So what would that look like? Well, it can manifest in a number of different ways, but it’s going to hinge quite heavily on one of the previous points: What will your training focus be?
||Objectives to work towards
||Bodyweight, body composition, overall physique development
||Skills, specific movements/holds, AMRAP maxes
||Overall strength, SBD development, one-rep maxes
||Snatch, Clean & Jerk, and Clean & Press development
There should be weekly milestones, seasonal ones, and long-term goals that you work towards, that keep you motivated and give you a tool to track your progress; in a 2016 study, it was observed that even the mildest structure contributed to a substantial increase in both improvements upon athletic performance and overall body composition compared to the unstructured control group. Incorporating these principles will allow you to not only push yourself harder, but accurately determine if you’re continuing to move in the right direction, and ensure you continue to do so.
Setting Rules and Actually Abiding by Them
We’re three for three on seemingly obvious principles that are often underestimated in their importance. The milestones I mentioned in the prior segment tie into this same rule, as they essentially are a rule in and of themselves stating “I must achieve this”. These rules can be more specific, such as a minimum weekly training quota of “x” amount of sessions, “y” amount of weekly cheat meals, or a minimum “z” amount of sessions within a gym rather than outdoor training.
These examples are one’s that I would recommend, but the rules that you end up following should simply be those that you believe will be the most conducive to helping you achieve the results you’re chasing. The important part, however, is being realistic, because you can give yourself no leeway when it comes to following them.
Don’t jump the gun and make claims such as “I’m gonna train EVERY DAY”, or “I’m never going to enjoy something I crave; always strict, all the time” because that’s just not sustainable, and deep down you know it, which means that you’re setting these rules up in a way that’s destined for failure.
Start slow, start simple, start savvy and most importantly, just start. Set up rules that you think will be almost too easy to achieve at first, leave yourself hungry to work harder, and then slowly ramp up the intensity so you have time to adjust, and can actually respect those rules as inviolable, because that will lead to actual consistency, and consistency is what will bring results.
Not Letting Yourself Be Overwhelmed by the Temptations of SE Asia
Now we all know the infamy that certain places in SE Asia hold (particularly one rhyming with Wangclock), and how they cater to the hedonistic indulgences of those that come seeking them. Few places in the world are going to match the temptation you’ll face here, often in unexpected places. Many things won’t even seem like “temptations” per se, but they will be in the sense that they interrupt your regime and cause you to become undisciplined, which, long term, will show in your results.
Let’s skip over the obvious, such as cheap, abundant unhealthy foods or heavy substance use; maybe a weekend of diving turns into a week enjoying Koh Tao, or a two-day trip to Penang on the Malaysian border gets extended after you run into visa issues, leading to logistical issues that’ll take who knows how long to sort; these things will cut into your progress, and hey, for many they’re arguably more important, which isn’t a bad thing, but that will still lead to one suffering because of the other, and while one may be the most important of the two, both are in an absolute sense, and balance should still be aimed for one way or another.
So how do we handle these difficult situations as they arise? Because unless you’re hunkered down in a hut, doing nothing but eat, train and sleep, they inevitably will. You can either juggle them on your own and struggle to keep your gains through these predicaments best you can, oooooooooooorrrrrr…
What to Do When You’re Struggling to Stay Afloat
The situations above are just examples of the many occasions in which you’ll find your progress throttled, and hurdles thrust in front of you that may often be too tall to leap, considering the weight you’ll already be carrying by virtue of just how much difficult your scenario and overall goals are to begin with. So what can you do to streamline this process? You can outsource the heavy lifting, that’s what. The metaphorical lifting, at least; the literal lifting is still very much on you.
I’ve coached hundreds if not thousands of clients over the years, many in situations akin to this one and with goals just as ambitious. The logistics that go into this, the details often overlooked, the mistakes made by first-timers hurling themselves into this chasm not knowing just how deep it goes, they lead to many lessons learned, yes, but at the cost of progress one could have made if you had simply had someone with the experience already under their belt to show the way. And that, of course, is what I’m here for.
Sign up now and enlist me, Fred Chevry, to help you overcome said hurdles, avoid said mistakes and achieve said progress by learning from the mistakes of others, and the decades of expertise accumulated in the process, so you don’t have to pay the price for those mistakes yourself.
by Fred Chevry | Nov 8, 2022 | Exercise
In a single word: No. There isn’t a person on this planet for whom weight loss is impossible. For some, fat loss is particularly tough due to digestive issues, hormonal imbalance, or any number of other factors, but even if you’ve been dealt a shoddy hand, don’t lose hope. You can lose weight.
So what can I do to actually lose weight?
Losing weight for those to whom it doesn’t come naturally is hard. Everybody has struggles, be it losing (or sometimes gaining weight), academic issues, or even financial issues. What comes easily for some, feels unachievable to others, and we can’t condescend to those having a hard time where we don’t.
In this article, we’re going to work our way through every step regarding weight loss: understanding the mechanics at play, what to avoid, where to focus your efforts, and how to both guarantee results and (most importantly) ensure their permanence; what’s the point of digging yourself out of the hole, just to fall right back in?
Accepting Responsibility, and Taking Control
The first thing that you’ll need to do is, as the heading says, accept responsibility, which in turn, gives you control. You can lose weight. Whatever it is that has you convinced otherwise, can and must be dealt with. You won’t make progress until you acknowledge the fact that it’s within your power to do so, which it 100% is.
Why am I so sure of this? Well, we could dive into the physiology of weight loss, but let’s instead go for something even more foundational, something dogmatic; it’s a matter of physics. The first law of thermodynamics tells us that: “Energy can be transformed from one form to another, but can be neither created nor destroyed”.
This means that your body, which requires energy to function, will need to pull said energy from somewhere to keep you alive, to keep you moving. If over the course of a day, you consume 1200kcal, yet burn 1300kcal, then your body needs to find those extra 100kcal elsewhere. In all except medically extraordinary cases, this “somewhere” will be your fat reserves. It’s as simple as that, despite how tired I assume you are of hearing it. If you enter a caloric deficit, which you are entirely capable of doing, you will lose weight. I do understand that it can be infuriating when you’re adamant that you are in fact doing everything correctly, but I assure you, there is a mistake being made, and whatever it is that’s preventing you from losing weight, can be identified and corrected.
Think of it this way, what’s more likely: defying the very laws of physics by creating energy and thus allowing your body to consume more calories than ingested without burning fat/losing weight, or, miscalculating your calorie intake & output and accidentally eating more, or burning less, than you thought you were?
Identifying the Problem Impeding Your Weight Loss
Once you’ve accepted responsibility and assumed control, you can start directing that newfound control towards pinpointing what it is exactly that’s hampering your progress. It could be any number of things, which will mostly fall into one or both of two categories:
Miscalculating your calorie intake:
Are you sure you’re eating as many calories as your diet demands? Between sauces, drinks, cooking oil, etc, it’s insanely easy to overshoot if even the smallest thing gets shrugged off. That extra splash of oil when cooking can mean a 200-400 calorie difference per day depending on the number of meals cooked this way, which is all it takes to completely halt weight loss for many, if not actually bring on weight gain instead.
Insufficient caloric output:
In that same vein, are you burning as many calories as you think you are? I’ve had clients often greatly overestimate their caloric output since they’ll assume that the intensity of the exertion will match the calories burnt in a somewhat intuitive way, which is actually rarely the case. Those extra splashes of oil I just mentioned? They’d take a 135lb person approximately 30 minutes of continuous, moderate-intensity running to burn off. That’s right; what is for some their entire days’ worth of exercise, can be negated with an extra tablespoon or two of oil per meal.
These mistakes can stem from many things, be it a failure to account for variables that are deemed negligible, as many people believe that “it’s just a rounding error”, or “this doesn’t really count” (which it does, because the body doesn’t work that way), as well as frequent misunderstandings regarding the mechanics at play here; for example, a belief that anything “healthy” can be consumed guiltlessly (also entirely untrue: weight loss is about quantity, not quality).
All these things can be prevented by finding a reliable plan to stick to, and accepting that, as it is not one’s field of expertise, it’s not wise to decide what can and can’t be overlooked. Consistency, diligence, and discipline when it comes to these things are what make the difference between spinning your wheels, and a successful transformation.
Formulating an Actual Attack Plan to Tackle the Issue
Now, with those previous steps covered, you are both in control and have a clear target to direct this newfound power towards. It may seem like this step is somewhat trivial, a matter of “just doing it”, but it’s that very lackadaisical approach that leads to this entire problem in the first place. With all that said, let’s dive into an example.
Sticking to the previous one given, say that after analyzing you’re routine you find that you’ve in fact been overshooting the oil used to cook each meal by ~10g (less than a tablespoon). That means 90kcal per meal, 270kcal extra a day, and that’s conservative. You now go from, say, a 200kcal deficit, to a 70kcal surplus, the complete opposite of what we’re aiming for, which can actually add up weight gain-wise quicker than you’d think, as illustrated in this table*:
*Based off the approximate 7000kcal = 2lb weekly ratio
This applies to everything, as simple as it may seem. Using too much sauce? Switch to zero-calorie alternatives, or get rid of them altogether. Not burning as much as you thought? Train for longer, or eat less. LocaSo rather than losing 0.4lbs a week, you’d gain between 0.1 – 0.2. How do we tackle this? More accurate measurements. Use a scale, or a measuring cup, even for the smallest amounts, since the pennies will eventually add up to a pound if left unattended.
te a problem, identify and implement a solution. Again, all seemingly obvious, but it’s far too easy to just write things off when we feel like they’re small enough to be inconsequential; unfortunately though, in this case, we can take no such liberty.
Every little thing matters. One small slip can really be all it takes to deviate from the direction you need to be moving in, and thus you’ll need to be firm and unforgiving in your approach. Once you’ve fallen into this groove, the next step comes into play.
Losing Weight, and Making Sure the Weight Loss Is Sustainable
Congratulations! If the prior steps have been followed to the letter, you will have begun to consistently lose weight. But don’t get comfortable just yet, weight loss is a symptom of an overall lifestyle change and one that will only persist as long as you do. There is no “30-day challenge” or “90-day intensive regime” that’ll provide long-term results, because your body is a real-time reflection of your way of life, and therefore requires maintenance.
Say you aim for a pound a week, and after 12 weeks, 12lbs lost, you feel you can finally relax, ease off the throttle and enjoy all those things you miss so much. Well, without diving into the concept of homeostasis or the many other lesser physiological phenomena at play here, the simple reality that old habits bring back old problems should alone be enough to illustrate why such a relapse isn’t on the table. If you slowly inch back into old ways, the reflection of those habits will come racing back.
For this very reason, the slow and steady approach is what anyone worth their salt would recommend; you’re not focusing on burning the fat, for the same reason you don’t just trim weeds, because they need to be ripped out from the root. Your lifestyle needs to change, and that’s no small feat, which means giving it the respect and time required for such a shift.
Accept what it is that such a goal actually means, and what it’ll take to truly get there, and you’ll see how different things will be, for the better.
Adapting to Scenarios in Which Your Progress Is Threatened
Next comes what I’d say is the most daunting part: in the beginning, whilst one is still finding their footing, weight loss is a fragile thing, as is any major change from one’s previous baseline.
Everybody, including myself and some past clients, has had major trouble avoiding the temptation of going back to certain habits in times of stress and struggle before you’ve been able to fully shake them. These times are the trendsetters, the times that will determine if you’ve what it takes to push through, or if the slightest test will knock you off course.
When these times come, say, a business trip, during which you’ll be away from your kitchen and thus unable to fully control your food, or an injury, completely throwing off your training regime, forcing you into inactivity until you heal, what then? How do you ensure that these don’t spell the end of your progress? Well, I’ve got an answer for that too.
What Can I Do to Make Sure I Keep Moving in the Right Direction?
As that previous section illustrated, there’s a reason so many stumble and fall on their journey towards achieving the body they want for themselves, because, as stated at the very beginning of the article, it’s simply no easy feat. Even amongst those who achieve it, as sobering and bleak as this stat may be, 90% find themselves gaining all the weight back. Why?
Because while everyone has a body, and everyone eats, moves, and aspires for improvement in one way or another, that doesn’t mean that everybody is qualified or equipped to embark on this journey on their own. Most often even, a guiding hand is needed, a hand which will save you both time and perhaps counterintuitively, money, by providing you with decades of expertise with which to traverse this metaphorical path and find your way to where you want and need to be, avoiding every trip and detour, every mistake and mishap that is inevitably made when heading down this road for the first time, and most importantly, help you retain your progress once you get there.
Sign up now and enlist me, Fred Chevry, to help pave said road so that your journey can be that much smoother, and so together we can get you there and beyond in the most efficient way possible.
by Fred Chevry | Oct 13, 2022 | Exercise
To cut to the chase, the answer is YES. An ultrasound is a procedure that requires no particular preparation on behalf of the patient unless your doctor says otherwise: this means you can maintain the same diet, sleep habits, activity levels, and overall lifestyle up until the day of the examination.
So is there nothing to be wary of?
That said, there are indirect factors influenced by specific types of exercise that can affect the result of ultrasound. Possible injuries (e.g. tendon thickening, edema, or bursitis), for example, from activities such as running (or other aerobic exercises, for that matter), can influence the ultrasound assessment of enthesis.
Aside from that, however, I’ve found no real evidence suggesting that any alteration of your cardiovascular activity regime is needed prior to an ultrasound examination.
This line of questioning opens the door for many others, though: from specific aspects regarding the health benefits of cardio, to which forms of cardio & types of training regimes are best suited for your individual needs. Further into this article, we’ll dive into some of the main tangents that arise, and explore the topic in greater depth.
The Benefits of Cardiovascular Activity on Maternal Health
The simple fact that cardiovascular exercise is good for one’s health isn’t exactly a secret. It’s one of if not the most widely known benefits and incentives to stay in good shape, paralleled only perhaps by the aesthetic benefits to be had by an active lifestyle.
But despite this widespread acceptance of the fact, I’ve found that most don’t actually know what health benefits one gain exactly from these habits, just that it’s a “healthier” way to live.
These health benefits include:
- Improvement in sleep quality
- Chronic pain reduction
- Enhanced blood pressure regulation
- Tapers cholesterol levels to within a healthy range
- Passively assists in weight management
- Improvement in sexual function
- Increase in immune system efficacy
These are just the most immediate and prominent, as there are also more case-specific, niche benefits such as the reduction of incidences of heart arrhythmia, like atrial fibrillation, or the reduction of Alzheimer’s risk through an increase of oxygen flow to the brain, boosting production of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), therefore promoting an environment conducive to neurogenesis.
And other, less direct benefits? What else does cardio give me?
There are definitely other indirect benefits that can be gained from cardio, such as stress relief, or heightened productivity, due to the meditative state and improvement in hormone balance that can be achieved through cardiovascular activity, or the ability to multitask through certain forms of low-intensity steady state cardio, such as listening to audiobooks while on a treadmill, or taking calls/answering emails while on a static bike, so on and so forth.
With all this said, though, how exactly do we reap these benefits? What kind of routine or training regime can we put together to maximize our gains in this field? Well, that segways into our next question.
What Do Experts Recommend In Terms of Cardio Training For Pregnant Women?
When contemplating how to fit an exercise regime into our routine, one of the first and primary questions we have is, how? How much, and how often? How intensely? For how long? The list goes on. In this section, we’ll tackle some of the most important aspects of a training regime, to make sure all is structured precisely as it should be.
How much, and how often?
Quantity, and frequency. How much, how often, is the sweet spot, the output that’ll yield us the most bang for our buck?
The current consensus has this pinged at around a minimum of 150 minutes per week for moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, and half that for more vigorous, higher-intensity work, although the benefits continue to stack past this number, with an optimum amount being double that.
Frequency isn’t as clear cut, as the difference is somewhat marginal; but a more spread out routine, allowing for at least some degree of daily activity, is ideal (not necessarily the same amount each day, but rather a habit of daily exertion totaling 150-300min per week for moderate activity, and half that for higher intensity).
Now, as mentioned above, the intensity of your sessions is going to impact the ideal duration, as well as the more specific benefits to be reaped over the short and long term. Shorter, higher intensity sessions are more so anaerobic exercise, providing a greater impact on your hormone balance, such as increased testosterone production with HIIT, for example, or greater lung O2 capacity. Longer, lower-intensity work is more efficient at bringing on the aforementioned benefits, contributing to things such as reduced HDL cholesterol levels, and an increase in sleep quality.
All in all, both forms of cardio can and will contribute to a healthier, higher-quality lifestyle, with only slight variations on either front.
For how long?
Reiterating the information above, I’ve found the consensus to be a bare minimum of 150 weekly minutes of lower-intensity work or 75 of moderate to high-intensity stimuli. This, again, is the bare minimum, as many experts state that an optimal amount would be around 300 low-intensity/150 high-intensity minutes range per week, with the latter sessions not generally surpassing 30-45 minutes each.
|Ideal Cardio Distribution
||5-6x a week
||Ideally daily, not as stringent
Now, with the logistics fleshed out and accounted for, we move on to the more immediate question.
Which Forms of Prenatal Cardiovascular Exercise Will Help Me Maximize Health Benefits?
Continuing along this line of thought regarding the health benefits cardio has to offer, I’ve compiled what are widely considered to be the best forms of cardio for improving one’s overall health and well-being, as well as also improving one’s athletic ability.
Running While Pregnant
Tried and true, known by all, and one of the oldest forms of exercise and cardio known to man, we have “The OG”, running. Even the lightest pace for most will be at least moderate intensity, especially while pregnant, and therefore a good goal to aim for when employing this form of exercise would be the 30-45 minute range unless you’re inching into higher intensities, in which case the ideal duration (or feasible duration for that matter) will vary case by case.
Cycling For Expectant Mothers
Similarly well known, and whilst in this case some equipment is required, most have access to a bicycle or a static bike at our gym of choice. Allowing for a greater degree of comfort and mitigating the impact factor to be found in running, this is a great choice if you think you’ll initially struggle with running for long stretches of time, and want to build your cardiovascular endurance from a lower starting point, while also being able to easily intensify it if needed.
Swimming While Expecting A Child
Lower impact still, and greatly relieving in the later months of pregnancy, swimming is an excellent option for those who would require joint support to the point that even walking could prove painful & uncomfortable after relatively short amounts of time, be it due to arthritis, excessive BMI, inhibitive injuries, or any other number of possible restricting factors. Just treading water for extended bouts is an excellent form of moderate-intensity exertion, and different swimming techniques can easily allow one to pinpoint the degree of intensity they prefer (as well as alleviating the somewhat more trivial but still oftentimes unappealing sweat factor).
Walking During The Prenatal Period
As the expression goes, “You’ve gotta walk before you can run”; where running is queen, walking is King, being the absolute earliest and most basic form of exertion (as well as, a neat factoid, the most calorie efficient form of movement). An excellent starting point for almost anyone, with untold benefits for one’s physical and mental health, and easily sustained for substantially longer periods of time, walking is the bedrock of physical activity, and something that quite literally everyone who is capable should incorporate into their daily lifestyle.
How Walking Before an Ultrasound Assessment Increases the Enthesis Score
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, cardio can increase one’s enthesis score, “a characteristic feature of spondyloarthropathies (SpA)” (or, simply put, the degree of Enthesitis that one suffers, which is the inflammation or aggravation of the attachment points of tendons and bones (the Entheses)), even when it comes to walking.
This isn’t actually a concern for expectant mothers, as it does not affect the womb or the immediate surroundings/areas of influence, but it’s worth knowing if not simply to be fully aware of any and all possible effects before the upcoming procedure, and how that helps achieve a greater understanding of what you’re undergoing.
What other benefits does cardio have for pregnant women?
There are so many other benefits to all ranges of exercise for pregnant women, that it’s difficult to touch upon them all in the rather specific focus of the article; despite that, I’d like to make sure to list off a few lest they go overlooked since they make an even more convincing case for a disciplined cardiovascular (and overall exercise regime) during the prenatal months spent as an expectant mother. These include:
- Reduction of pregnancy complications
- Easing back and pelvic pain that often occurs in the later trimesters
- Reduction in risk regarding issues come time for delivery
- Easier time bouncing back to 100% after the pregnancy has come to term
These are just a few key benefits, and the most prominent and direct to be had, without even diving into the more indirect benefits such as how the improvement in sleep quality will ease the pregnancy process as a whole, or how the better mood one enjoys whilst living a less sedentary lifestyle translates into an easier time overall as an expectant mother.
My Final Thoughts On Exercising Before and Ultrasound
I believe that not only is exercising safely for pregnant women, prior to an ultrasound or otherwise, is necessary.
With that in mind, I’m aware that all this information can seem almost overwhelming; how do I put it into practice? How do I coordinate an optimized routine that can also fit into my existing schedule? What if something unexpected arises (which, as life consistently shows us, always does, let alone throughout pregnancy) and I have to make changes on the fly? What if I make mistakes and hurt my progress? The list of questions goes on. But all of these have a simple answer:
I’ve been in this industry for decades and helped people reach heights they never foresaw as possible for themselves at all, beyond what they initially considered a pipedream. Whether your goal lies in a more health-focused matter, or if your drive is entirely aesthetic based, as well as pretty much anything in between, I’m not only equipped with the tools you need, but have more than likely helped somebody achieve that specific goal already, and can bring that experience to the table to help you maximize every step, avoid mistakes and make your way to your objective faster than you could’ve ever expected.
They say “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step”, but no one said you have to walk the whole way there; forget about stumbling your way down that path, hop on the freight train instead, and let’s get you there in record time. With my app, “The Razor Virtual Training”, I can help guide you through the ideal fitness regime for you and your baby, taking the stress out of the exercise aspect of your pregnancy, melting away the worry and pressure that comes with making sure you’re doing everything you can to keep yourself at 100%, and provide an ideal environment for your future child to grow into the best, healthiest, happiest baby they can be. Click here to get yourself started, and we can get you and your little one on the right track.