7 Ways to Break Through Training Plateaus

 

While setting a new personal record can be unbelievably uplifting, missing the mark after weeks and months of preparation can be even more deflating. Exercise plateaus and setbacks can be extremely frustrating, and can derail even the most ambitious workout plans. To make matters worse, there are a variety of reasons plateaus and setbacks can occur — making it hard to pinpoint the exact cause. To eliminate the guesswork and get you back on track to your fitness goals, we’ve compiled expert-approved strategies for overcoming the most common strength training plateaus.

1. Modify your reps.
Doing the same amount of reps week after week is a quick way to suffer from stagnant results, not to mention boredom. After only a few weeks, the body adapts to acute workout variables like sets, reps and rest time. The result is fewer stimuli for new gains in strength. To keep your workout fresh, experiment with different set and rep schemes. For instance, while a few weeks might focus on strength with sets of three to five reps, increase the rep ranges during the subsequent weeks to five to eight reps to change up the workout and spur new muscle growth.

2. Change up the tempo.
Not all reps are created equal. There are several strategies within the actual repetition itself that can drastically change the intensity of a workout. When suffering from lack of progress, try slowing down each rep, especially during the lowering portion of the exercise. The slow tempo will boost the amount of time the muscle is under tension, while increasing the overall difficulty of the exercise.

3. Experiment with different exercises.
Performing the same exercises week after week can lead to lack of results and a drop off in motivation. Varying your routine is crucial for encouraging progress. Fortunately, lifters don’t have to completely change up their routine to get the benefits of variety. To prevent plateauing, pick one or two exercises in each workout to modify. Here are some quick and easy modifications:

  • Platform: Move from two legs to one on a bodyweight squat to increase the difficulty of the movement while incorporating balance, coordination and core work.
  • Equipment: Instead of using a barbell for deadlifts, grab a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells to add variety and change how the body is loaded during the motion.
  • Complexity: Combine two exercises into one like a squat and a shoulder press to greatly boost the difficulty of an exercise.

4. Do more soft tissue work.
Lack of results often causes individuals to work harder in the gym. In reality, they might need to take it easier. Without proper recovery in between workouts, the body can’t rebuild muscle that has been broken down. This can result in subpar performance and lingering soreness that just won’t go away.

Foam rolling and massage therapy are two great interventions to speed recovery and help relieve soreness. Joe Vennare, co-founder of Hybrid Athlete, encourages his clients to perform self-massage, aka self-myofascial release (SMR), every day. “Regular tissue work increases circulation, enhances recovery and reduces scar tissue,” Vennare says. So make friends with that foam roller (particularly before and after workouts) and consider scheduling trips to see a skilled massage therapist every few weeks to work on deeper knots.

5. Experiment with variable resistance.
The traditional method of loading exercises with barbells and dumbbells provides a constant amount of resistance throughout the movement. By contrast, variable resistance, using bands or chains to change the resistance throughout the movement, is becoming increasingly popular as a way to spice up a routine.

For a barbell back squat, for example, a set of bands can be hooked to the floor and then attached to each end of the barbell. As the lifter descends into the squat, the bands shorten, lessening the tension on the bar and thus the difficulty. However, as the lifter stands up, the bands lengthen, increasing the difficulty of the exercise towards the top of the motion where the lifter is strongest. Try using variable resistance on one or two exercises during your routine to challenge your muscles in a new way.

6. Try partial ranges of motion.
In most cases, full range of motion takes the cake for getting the biggest benefit with exercise. In some cases, however, partial ranges of motion can provide a well-needed boost for strength development. Working a specific range of motion affords lifters the ability to get comfortable working with heavier weights and practice a certain part of a lift.

Although this strategy can be extremely useful to boost strength, Rob Sulaver, trainer at Peak Performance and founder of Bandana Training, cautions lifters not to use partials too often. According to Sulaver, “Partial reps can be exceptionally valuable for acclimating the nervous system to heavier weights, but I would incorporate them sparingly [since] over-training a partial range of motion leads to a partial range of strength.”

7. Eat more.  
Think restricting calories is a quick fix for shedding pounds? In reality, this may be preventing gym-goers from seeing results. According to Sulaver, “Poor nutrition tends to be a silent assassin in the gym. When we don’t exactly know why performance is dropping, the first place to look is nutrition.”

To recover from hard workouts, athletes and weekend warriors alike need to be sure they’re taking in enough calories to help their body recover. Determining how many calories are enough can be tricky, but start by tracking intake and taking note of performance and energy levels. If speed of recovery seems to dip along with motivation and energy levels, it might be time for more fuel.

8. Take some time off.
First one in, last one out at the gym? In some cases, lack of progress might mean the body needs more time to recharge. Many trainers and coaches often incorporate deload weeks into a workout program to boost recovery in their clients. These weeks are exactly what they sound like — a decrease in workout intensity for a short period of time. But rather than zoning out in front of the TV, focus on quality rest alongside easy movement. Vennare recommends soft tissue work in addition to core training and mobility work. “Thus, the deloading becomes more active rest than complete rest,” Vennare says.

Plateaus can happen for a variety of reasons, both positive and negative. On the plus side, they can be a good indicator of hard, consistent training in the gym. They can also signal poor nutrition or inadequate recovery. Although fitness plateaus can be frustrating, they shouldn’t be a death sentence for progress in the gym. Use the tips mentioned above to bust out of a rut and continue to see success in the weight room, on the field or court, or wherever else you get your sweat on!

10-Minute Core Workout

Most of us know that a strong core is vital to almost every physical activity, right? But how do we get a strong and functional core? While having a six-packs might look nice, visible abs are not a reliable indicator of performance ability, or injury resistance.

Core Training Facts & Myths

Did you know that crunches aren’t the best way to train your abs? Exercises like crunches and sit-ups place repetitive stress on your spine in a flexed position, which can lead to bulging and herniated discs. If you sit at a computer for any amount of time throughout the day, the last thing you need is more time in a flexed (or rounded) spinal position. In fact, spine specialist Dr. Stuart McGill is on a crusade to eliminate the sit-up.

Maybe you’ve heard that you don’t need isolated core training if you do compound strength exercises like deadlifts and squats? There are certainly a number of reputable strength coaches that ascribe to this ideology. While it’s true that you don’t need to perform core training, I believe some extra core work can be incredibly beneficial.

The Right Way To Train Your Core

This core training workout is a 10-minute circuit designed to build an indestructible torso. You’ll be challenging your abs in a functional way by working your core from every angle, instead of just working rectus abdominus (the 6-pack abs). This entire workout is focused on challenging your muscles to keep your spine stable through varying loads.

Before trying this workout, you want to make sure you have proper core stability, or the ability to brace your spine as you move your limbs, before attempting these core exercises.

Core Stability Test

The dead bug is my go-to core stability test. Can you do this without arching your lower back and flaring your ribs?

If so, you have some decent core stability and can move on to the workout below.

If have any pain or can’t perform this exercise well, I would NOT recommend doing this core workout. Instead, perform core stability exercises, like plank and bird dog.

4 Types of Core Exercises

As I mentioned earlier, this workout trains the primary function of the core to stabilize the spine. What does this mean in terms of how the body moves?

This workout includes 4 exercises – each designed to challenge the core in different ways including anti-extension, anti-rotation, anti-flexion, and anti-lateral flexion.

1. Anti-extension refers to preventing overarching the spine, especially in the lower back. Any kind of plank exercise is an anti-extension exercise, as you try to maintain a rigid torso without arching the lower back.

2. Anti-rotation refers to fighting rotational forces placed on the spine by keeping the shoulders and hips square. Any variation of the Palloff press (seated or standing) is an example of an anti-rotation core exercise.

3. Anti-flexion refers to limiting the rounding (or flexing) of the spine. A goblet squat or deadlift fits this category, since your focus is on maintaining a long spine as you bend from the knees and/or hips.

4. Anti-lateral flexion refers to fighting leaning to the side when unilaterally loaded. Side planks and any one-sided carries are examples of this type of core exercise.

If you train your core to stay strong and tall through those 4 patterns, you will build a stable, bulletproof core. This workout is best performed at the end of a strength training session.

Core Workout Instructions

Perform this workout as a circuit, with little rest between exercises. Complete a total of 2 rounds.

Exercise Reps / Time / Distance
RKC Plank 30 seconds
Pallof Press 10 reps each side
Goblet Squat (hold) 10 reps
KB Suitcase Carry 50 yards each arm

Core Exercise Demonstrations

1. RKC Plank

This is a variation on the standard plank position where you brace your abs while supporting your bodyweight on your elbows and toes. The RKC variation increases the intensity by placing the elbows slightly narrower than shoulder-width (narrower base = more difficult) and the forearms out in the front of the body (longer arm lever = more difficult).

2. Standing Pallof Press

Set up a resistance band so one end is wrapped around a sturdy base just below chest-height. Stand sideways a few feet away from your anchor so that your inside shoulder is lined up with the post. With a slight bend in your knees, press the resistance band straight ahead. Your goal is to keep your core braced and fight the pull of the band as you press the band straight out in front of your chest. Don’t let your shoulders or hips rotate!

3. Goblet Squat

The goblet squat is a versatile exercise. It improves hip mobility, activates your quads, and challenges your core. The focus here is anti-flexion. Start with a moderate weight and take 5 seconds to slowly lower in a deep squat. Hold at the bottom for 5 seconds. Stand up tall maintaining a strong neutral spine throughout the entire movement. Keep the kettlebell, or dumbbell close to your body as you squat up and down.

4. KB Suitcase Carry

The suitcase carry is one of my favorite loaded carries. This exercise challenges anti-lateral flexion while simultaneously emphasizing shoulder and hip stability.

Grab a moderate to heavy dumbbell or kettlebell in one hand and start walking. Maintain tall posture and avoid leaning towards the side with the weight. Walk about 50 yards, then switch hands and do the other side. Most guys can start with about 40-70 lbs, ladies can start with suitcase carries around 30-50 lbs. A solid goal is to work yourself up to half your bodyweight in each hand.

This workout is an intermediate level workout. As I mentioned in above, make sure you have good core stability before performing this workout. Let me know how you do with this workout and feel free to share any of your favorite core exercises below.

Quick Arm Work Out For At Home

tone biceps and triceps with this arm workout
“Your arms are one of the first muscles to show toning results after starting a weight training routine,” says Adam Kant, owner of Intrepid Gym in Hoboken, New Jersey. “You don’t have to be lifting heavy to tone up (although it tends to show results faster if you do!)—doing lightweight movements with higher reps will help firm everything up ASAP.” Here’s how to sculpt your arms without stepping foot in the gym:

What you’ll need:
A yoga mat or towel to stand on
Two dumbbells (5-10 pounds)
A kettlebell (15-20 pounds)

The routine: Perform 3 rounds, 12 reps per move, 2-3 times per week. Pair with a cardio workout for optimal results. And try not to rest in between moves or rounds, to keep up your heart rate and those calories burning!

1. Push-Ups

“Push-ups are a classic move that really get the job done!” says Kant. Start out parallel to the floor in a plank position then lower your body, bending your elbows until your chest touches the floor. Return to starting position and repeat. “If this is too challenging for you, rest your knees on the floor for an assisted push-up.”2. Kettlebell Swings

“Kettlebell swings are an amazing full body exercise,” says Kant. “They work your core more than you realize, while also toning your arms at the same time.” Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding the kettlebell with both hands in front of your body, arms loose. Bend your knees slightly, keeping your weight in your heels. Slightly swing the kettlebell through your legs toward your rear then explode with your hips forward sending the kettlebell up toward the ceiling, overhead or at least chest-height. Be sure to keep your arms straight and extended throughout the entire exercise. Bring the kettlebell back to the start position between your legs and repeat, using the momentum you’ve built up! “Remember to keep your weight in your heels and your core tight the whole time,” says Kant.3. Triceps Kickbacks

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your side. Bend your upper body at your waist slightly to make a 45-degree angle. Push the dumbbells back until they are parallel with your lower back. Return them to the start position, bending your elbows, bringing the dumbbells in line with your chest.

4. Dumbbell Shoulder Presses

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, bring the dumbbells (one in each hand) up to your shoulders. With a slight bend in your knees, thrust the dumbbells up overhead to meet at the top. Return to the starting position with dumbbells at your shoulders and repeat.

5. Floor Bench Presses

Lie on the floor, knees bent with a flat back. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, press them toward the ceiling then lower the weights until your triceps touch the floor. Repeat.6. Plank Rows

Start in a plank position, holding a dumbbell in each hand on the floor. Row one dumbbell up until it reaches your waist. Return to floor and repeat on other side. “To up the intensity, complete a push-up between the rows,” suggests Kant. “It’s called a ‘man maker.’ “

3 Weightlifting Accessories To Up Your Game

Wrap, strap, and cinch your way to safe and effective lifting with the best equipment!

First let me start by saying that I try to use as little lifting equipment as possible while working out. Lifting equipment is used to help your body in support and lift heavier-than-normal weight. Powerlifters tend to use these aids more than any other type of lifter. The main reason is because the extremely heavy weight being used makes your body more susceptible to injury. By using specific equipment, you can reduce your chances of bodily injury.

SHOW YOUR WORKOUTS THE BELT

A weight belt is probably the most common piece of equipment used in a gym. There are many different brands such as Valeo, Everlast, Inzer, etc. that most sporting-good stores sell. Ideally, you want to use a belt while performing exercises that can be rough on your lower back such as squats, deadlifts, and stiff-legged deadlifts.

In addition, I’ve been told that, by wearing a belt while bench pressing, you can enable yourself to support and press more weight, if done correctly. I don’t understand why people tend to wear belts while doing every exercise in their workout, it really is unnecessary because a belt is not needed in order to perform curls or pull-ups, or any other exercise that doesn’t put a great amount of stress on the lower back.

In order for a belt to work for you, you need to know how to properly wear a belt. Seems simple, right? The belt is positioned just like any other belt that you’ve ever worn, right above your hips, and around your waist. You should wear the belt very tightly, but not so tight that you can’t breathe. Once the belt is on, suck in a deep breath before you lift the weight off of the rack.

Ideally, you want to use a belt while performing exercises that can be rough on your lower back such as squats, deadlifts, and stiff-legged deadlifts.

“IDEALLY, YOU WANT TO USE A BELT WHILE PERFORMING EXERCISES THAT CAN BE ROUGH ON YOUR LOWER BACK SUCH AS SQUATS, DEADLIFTS, AND STIFF-LEGGED DEADLIFTS.”

Once you’ve picked up the weight, let out all your air. Suck in again right before you do a negative. Try to push your stomach outwards as hard as you can so that your stomach and lower back are pushing hard against the inside of the belt. Begin letting out your air on the way up, and then repeat for your next rep.

Personally, I think a belt should only be used when absolutely needed. This means that you should never wear a belt while warming up. Also, if you are going to use a belt, find one that is about 6-8 inches thick and the pressure of the belt is distributed over the entire width of the belt.

SIT DOWN, STRAP IN, AND SHUT UP

Wrist straps are also a very common piece of equipment. Straps are used in order to aid your grip so that you can hold onto heavier weight without it slipping out of your hands. To tell the truth, this is the only piece of lifting equipment that I use. You use straps for exercises such as stiff-legged deadlifts, shrugs, and bent-over rows.

Once again, you only want to use straps when needed; this does not include warm-up sets. Remember to not wear straps when doing exercises that you don’t need them for, such as pressing or curling movements. I’ve actually seen people using straps for movements such as these, and they look like clowns.

It’s amazing to me that many people use straps incorrectly; the straps can actually work against you increasing the chance of the weight slipping out of your hands during a set. So listen up; without twisting the strap, run the regular end through the looped end. Now place the strap around your wrist so that the loose end points away from your body and runs directly in line with your pinky.

Now, here is where everyone gets it wrong. Grab the bar normally, and wrap the strap around the bar going underneath the bar first, not over. Once the straps are in place you can tighten them by grabbing the wrapped strap, not too tightly, and roll the bar back towards your body. By doing this, you greatly increase the amount of the weight that you can hold.

Take caution in how tight you wrap the strap is because the tighter it is, the higher the risk of it snapping. Trust me, I’ve had a strap bust on me while I was shrugging over 600 pounds, and the outcome is no fun.

THE ULTIMATE WRAP BATTLE

Finally, wrist wraps and knee wraps are usually used by those with weak or injured knees or wrists. Knee wraps are used on squats, and wrist wraps can be used on any pressing movement. By using knee wraps, you give yourself a little bit of spring at the bottom of a squat. This is very useful for powerlifting. I used knee wraps every time I maxed out on squats.

XXX

“DON’T WRAP TOO TIGHTLY BECAUSE, FOR ONE, IT’S REALLY PAINFUL, AND TWO, YOU DON’T WANT YOUR FEET TO GO ABSOLUTELY NUMB FROM ABSENCE OF BLOOD FLOW.”

They give your knee extra support, so if you have pain in your knees to the point that you absolutely can’t squat, then you might want to look into using them. However, if you can tough it out, then do so. It is important that you put the knee wraps on correctly in order for the outcome to be effective. First roll up the straps like toilet paper.

I always started at the top of my knee and worked my way down. When you are wrapping, be sure to overlap the last wrap by half of its width. You should end up about an inch below the bottom of your knee cap. Once you finish, tuck in the loose end. Don’t wrap too tightly because, for one, it’s really painful, and two, you don’t want your feet to go absolutely numb from absence of blood flow. If you can see any of the skin on your knees between individual wraps, then you wrapped incorrectly. Try overlapping a little bit more.

Wrist wraps are very simple. Before performing a pressing movement, wrap your wrists as tight as you need. If your wrists don’t stay straight, wrap tighter. Many people limit their use wrist wraps for heavy weight on bench press mainly.

As stated earlier, many people use this equipment for the wrong reason, and use it incorrectly also. The downfall to using these items is that you weaken the muscles that you are aiding. For example, using a belt weakens your lower back strength, and using wrist straps decreases your grip strength. This is the main reason why you want to use aids only when absolutely necessary.

4 Ways To Help Increase Your Deadlift

Protect your back and build more strength with these tips

add weight to your deadlift with these 4 tips

Trainers like me preach good form for good reason: It allows you to lift more weight, and also reduces your risk of injury.

That rule is never truer than it is with the deadlift.

But if I tell you to “keep your spine neutral,” chances are you still might perform the lift wrong. That’s why I’ve developed a two more cues that I like to use with lifters, which, I’ve found, helps them really nail that critical spinal position.

The result: Big numbers without pain.

Deadlifting form tip: Get tight and wedge

A tight body helps you keep your spine straight. So get tight right off the bat, as you’re setting up for the lift.

If you aren’t tight when you lift, one of two things will happen when you pull the barbell off the floor:

  • Your upper or lower back will round.
  • Your hips will come up too fast in relation to your shoulders.

To maintain tension, I tell lifters to pretend they’re squeezing oranges in their armpits, and to “wedge” I into the floor. Here’s what I mean:

Deadlifting form tip: Align your armpits and flex your hamstrings

Let’s say you followed the advice I just gave you, and you just can’t seem to keep that neutral spine when you do a regular deadlift. No biggie.

Your history in the gym, past injuries, goals, anatomy, and comfort level can all determine if you should do a conventional deadlift.

For example, the sumo deadlift might be a better fit for people who have chronically tight hips, short arms, or who are taller. Likewise, people who are new to deadlifting—or have a history of back issues—might want to do the more back and beginner-friendly trap bar deadlift.

Regardless of the variation you perform, never stray from this rule: Make sure your armpits are directly over the bar, and that your hamstrings are flexed and tightened.

You see a lot of guys set up with their armpits too far in front of the bar, which makes for a poor line of lifting. It often causes your weight to shift onto your toes. As you lift, you sort of “fall forward,” which adds force directly to your delicate lower back.

An easy fix to get your weight back and armpits over the bar: roll the barbell in closer to your shins.

To build hamstring tension so you can contract the muscles powerfully—think of your hamstrings like a bow’s string—lengthen them by keeping your hips high. Your hips should be as high as possible while allowing you to keep your back straight and move the weight. Like this:

The Insiders Guide to Cardio

Cardio is maligned by so called “serious lifters” but done exclusively by 60 percent of those who set foot in the gym after 5 p.m. But who’s right, and what is the best recipe for results?

Is there a magic ratio of weight training to cardio that should be done? Should cardio be cast aside for a heavier dose of strength training? Does cardio before the workout destroy your gains?

If your goal in training is to lose weight and look better naked, then on a molecular level, your goal is to burn through all your muscle glycogen in order to start burning fat as fuel.

Here’s the science.

ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is the fuel that your muscles need in order to contract, but there is only a limited amount contained within each muscle, and when it’s gone your body needs to produce more somehow.

There are three main energy systems at work in your body. Here, I will only be addressing two of them.

 

Name: Anaerobic system (lactic acid system):

What it does: Breaks down glycogen using a complicated chemical reaction that leaves lactic acid as a by-product, which is responsible for the intense burn you get after hiking up a long hill or doing a long set of biceps curls.

Used During: Short duration high intensity activities like sprinting and strength training.

Anaerobic System Conversion: 1 molecule glycogen = 3 ATP.

 

Name: Aerobic System (oxygen system)

What it does: Uses an even more complex chemical reaction to break down glycogen into ATP using oxygen (remember the KREB cycle from 10th grade?). This is why you breathe harder during cardio than strength training, because your body needs more and more oxygen to sustain your workout.

Used during: Long duration medium intensity activities like jogging or rowing. This system turns on after 8-10 minutes, which is why jogging feels much easier after the first mile.

Each molecule of glycogen can be broken down into 32 molecules of ATP in this cycle, which is great for sustaining longer term exercise.

Aerobic System Conversion: 1 molecule glycogen = 32 ATP.

This is a much more efficient conversion, and can provide more sustained energy than the anaerobic system.

Depending on the activity, it can take up to an hour to use up all the glycogen stored in your cells and liver, at which point the body has no choice but to start burning fat as fuel. Which is the goal for most of us who are trying to shed our winter weight and fit into last year’s swim suit.

This hour marker mentioned above is highly dependent on diet as well, which is why a low carb diet can work extremely well for fat loss especially when coupled with exercise. The more carbohydrates that are eaten before a workout, the more glycogen remains in your system to burn off before fat can be used as fuel.

Cardio before a workout. Energy system trained: Aerobic.

Cardio after the workout. Energy System trained: Anaerobic.

Pros and Cons


Cardio First

Cardio before a workout is great because it gives you the opportunity to burn more calories over the course of the training session by elevating your heart rate initially. This increases your internal temperature and elevates the metabolic demands placed on your body.

This ensures your heart rate will remain elevated, and thus overall caloric burn will be increased for the entire workout.

The downside is that you’ll be more tired after doing cardio, and won’t have as much energy to spend on resistance training, which is better for making lasting physique changes.

Cardio Last

Since the aerobic system is much more efficient in terms of generating ATP, weight training first is great because it allows you to get to the fat burning portion of the workout faster than if you had done cardio first.

Focusing the majority of your energy on making improvements in the weight room, will result in better strength and physique. Then after all the glycogen is depleted, doing cardio will result in a much higher percentage of fat being burned.

The downside to this technique is that it can be difficult to work hard at resistance training, and then push yourself through a cardio session immediately after.

So Which is Better?

Think about burning fat like digging for gold. You have to get through layers of dirt and rock (muscle glycogen) before you can get to the gold.

Doing cardio first is like digging for gold with a shovel. Getting through a single layer requires 32 scoops to be removed. You’ll eventually see gold, but it will take a while.

Doing resistance training first is like showing up to the same dig site with a backhoe. Now only 3 scoops are required to get through one layer thanks to your diesel fueled machinery.

So if you’re short on time, or just want to maximize your workout so you can get back to your family, pets or World of Warcraft character, hit the weights first and save the cardio for the end.

Shoot for a 45-minute workout, followed by 20-30 minutes of cardio intervals 3 times per week in order to get the maximum benefit.

How to Train Like The Spartan’s

The 300 Workout

You’ve seen the movie 300 and you’ve seen how freaking jacked those guys are.  Well, as it turns out, many of the actors in the movie went through a certain routine that they had to finish in order to be considered “ready.”  I love this routine because it’s a full body workout that teaches both strength and endurance.  Every day in a gym I see guys working out their forearms, doing 5 different triceps exercises to hit the arms from all different angles, specializing in tiny muscles.  For this 300 workout, each exercise is a compound exercise, working multiple muscle groups simultaneously.

Think about it: 2000 years ago, these warriors didn’t have cable pull machines and exercise balls and Nautilus machines – they had their body weight, they had heavy things to pick up, and things to hang off of. That’s it…oh yeah and they had to fight for their lives every freaking day.  They were in peak physical shape and scared the crap out of every other “army.”   I guarantee if a Spartan walked around in that loin cloth thing nobody nobody would question it.  Gerard Butler (who plays King Leonidas in 300) told Men’s Health: “You know that every bead of sweat falling off your head, every weight you’ve pumped — the history of that is all in your eyes.  That was a great thing, to put on that cape and put on that helmet, and not have to think, shit, I should have trained more. Instead, I was standing there feeling like a lion.”  Yeah, I want to feel like that.

So here the routine.  If you can complete this test, you’ve completed the final level, you beat the last boss, you did it.  So what is this routine?

  1. Pullups – 25 reps
  2. Deadlifts with 135lbs – 50 reps
  3. Pushups – 50 reps
  4. 24-inch Box jumps – 50 reps
  5. Floor wipers – 50 reps
  6. Single-arm Clean-and-Press with 36lbs Kettlebell – 50 reps
  7. Pullups – 25 reps

To see what these moves look like, check out Craig Ballentyne’s explanation for each:

There you have it.  Even though I’ve been working out and “in shape” for years, this test scares the crap out of me.  It’s a great goal to have though.  Once I get back from my next cruise in a few weeks, I’m going to try and attempt this test; I’ll record my stats and see if I can even get through it (my guess would be NO).  I tried to do some floor wipes this morning and nearly killed myself…50 of them scares the bajeeezus out of me.  Oh well, gotta start somewhere, right?

My ultimate goal is to compete on Ninja Warrior – yes I’m serious – so until I make it on the show I figure if training to look like King Leonidas is a good start. -Steve

3 Ways To Trim Unwanted Belly Fat

belly fat weight loss If you’re like many other people, losing the fat around your midsection is the biggest problem area in your weight loss journey. You’ve watched the numbers on the scale fall, but haven’t seen a corresponding loss in belly fat.

Or maybe you haven’t yet started to lose weight and you know you need to. It’s no secret that obesity continues to rise. You don’t have to read scientific data, or research studies to know, a simple look at a random group of people walking down the street in your town reveals this. The facts only reinforce what most of us already know.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the rate of obesity between 1980 and 2000 doubled among adults and children and scarily has tripled amongst adolescents. This translates to 60 million obese adults in the United States. That’s a staggering thirty percent of the population.

Not only is obesity unattractive, more importantly it’s seriously bad for your health. The facts on children and adolescent obesity are even of greater concern. This means significantly more years that these children’s, but soon to be adults’, bodies are living with the dangerous health effects of obesity.

According to more and more research obesity increases the risk for a number of not just debilitating but sometimes terminal diseases. From heart disease to cancers, being overweight and obese can wreak havoc on your body, often as a silent assailant.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders (NIDDK) say that obesity can lead to the following health problems.

Health Problems from Obesity:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease and stroke
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Sleep apnea
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Pregnancy complications

What is your current weight? Could you lose a few pounds? Chances are if you’re like most other Americans you could benefit from losing weight. The NIDDK also says that losing just ten to twenty pounds can make a real difference in your risk for getting these serious diseases.

Where’s Your Fat Being Stored? Discover Belly Fat Solutions

We all have our ‘weak’ spots for fat and flab. If you’re a woman chances are you tend to keep this extra fat right around the mid-section or your belly. Men also suffer from excess belly fat.

Not only is belly fat unsightly and at times uncomfortable, belly fat is also an indicator of more serious health problems lurking. That is, fat around the belly or mid-section is one of the more dangerous types of fat to have.

Belly fat is also known as visceral fat. Visceral fat is also called organ fat or intra-abdominal fat. This fat lies in close proximity to the vital organs of the body. This is a real concern.

When fat is stored close to the vital organs it’s easier for this fat to get into the bloodstream and circulate through the entire body. This leads to problems such as clogged arteries, hypertension, and even problems with metabolic functions in the body.

If you have belly fat it’s essential to take the steps necessary to get rid of it for good.

3 Simple Steps to End Belly Fat Now

If you’ve ever joined a gym or the YMCA you’ve surely noticed the regulars who go there (that is if you attended somewhat regularly). Maybe you’ve noticed some people who run on the treadmill for more than an hour or those who are going up and down on the elliptical trainer sweating profusely. I noticed years ago that some of these people who are obviously working out very intensely still for some reason have belly fat. This observation brings us to the first step to lose unwanted belly fat.

1. Burst Training Instead of Long Distance Cardio

Burst training, also known as interval training,  is not what these people we see giving it their all on the gym machines are doing. Burst training will help your body become a fat burning machine. Burst training consists of exercising at 90 to 100% of your maximum effort for 30 to 60 seconds; slowing it down to low impact for a recovery period of just 30 to 60 seconds and then bumping it back up again.

If you’ve been spending hours on the treadmill and not seeing any results, it’s because long distance cardiovascular exercise can decrease testosterone and raise your stress hormone level, cortisol. Increased levels of cortisol stimulate the appetite, will increase fat storing, and slow down or inhibit exercise recovery.

If you like to exercise outside in the fresh air, try going to a track or a trail at a park and alternate between sprints and either jogging or walking. If you prefer working out at your home or a gym, try burst training on a spin bike. Repeat this cycle four to six times, for three days a week, and you’ll see results. Belly fat will seem to melt away – as long as you follow the next two tips as well.

2. Burn Fat with These Real Foods

Here I go again with the real foods. This is a vital component to longevity, optimal health and vibrant living you simply can’t skip. Eating real foods instead of fake foods is one of the best (and easiest) things you can do for yourself and your loved ones.

Real foods are the ones that God gave us at the advent of creation. The vegetables, fruits, seeds, clean meats and fish, legumes, and more that are grown in healthy, rich soils without any chemicals added.

Fake foods are what you want to avoid at all costs. These are most of the foods you’ll find at your local supermarket. Bagged, boxed, frozen, items loaded with unhealthy additives and preservatives you don’t want to be putting into your body.

Focus on eating real foods, especially veggies, when you’re trying to lose belly fat. This will help not only get rid of the unwanted visceral fat but also give your body the vital nutrients it needs to function properly. Believe me, you’ll feel and see the difference when you make the switch from fake foods to healthy real foods.

You also want to focus on eating real foods that are high in fiber:

Stay away from sugar when you trying to lost belly fat–even hidden sources of sugar like grains. All grain are not bad (especially sprouted or gluten-free grains) but they won’t help you lose weight or recover from a health condition. So focus on vegetables and fruits that are low in sugar and high in fiber (like raspberries in the chart above).

Another surprising real food that has been shown to boost metabolism? Cayenne pepper! Hot peppers will increase your heart rate, make you sweat, and boost your metabolism at the same time. They are also one the best foods to reduce inflammation in your body.

3. Supplement with Fucoxanthin

You may not have heard of this brown seaweed called wakame in Japan yet, but you can bet you will soon. In a Japanese study at Hokkaido University led by researcher Kazuo Miyashita, PhD, fucoxanthin was shown to promote fat burning within the fat cells in animals.

Fucoxanthin fights fat in two ways; first it encourages the action of protein, UCP1, that causes fat oxidation and is found in the type of fat that surrounds organs. Secondly, fucoxanthin promotes DHA production in the liver. Increased DHA, an Omega 3 fatty acid type, can help with decreasing bad cholesterol or LDL.

No matter what your age is, if you’re overweight or obese the time to make the changes to get healthy is now. If you follow these three easy steps you’ll lose belly fat that may have been hanging around for years in less time than you may think.

The longest journey begins with a single step, so take that step today. Get moving, eat real foods for life, and supplement with fucoxanthin to get rid of dangerous visceral fat.

What It Takes To Eat Like The Pros

J.J. Watt’s 9,000 Calorie A Day Diet.

jj watt

At 6’5” and 288 pounds, there’s no wonder why the Texans’ defensive end packs away close to 9,000 calories a day. With his speed, size, and strength Watt’s body needs the right amount of fuel to tackle a workout and get through a game. Trainer Brad Arnett, noticed back in February that Watt’s performance was slacking, and Watt picked up on it.

Watt says, “My body was grabbing for something that wasn’t there. It was trying to fuel itself with no fuel.” The solution: cheat days and more calories. Arnett explained to Watt that if he were going to down several chicken breasts in one meal he had to to wrap them in bacon, daily. Upping the fat, also meant doubling the portion sizes of mashed sweet potatoes, pasta, fish, and avocados. Watt was eating avocados like it was his job.

Since that day back in February, Watt’s calorie count has drastically increased between 6,000 to 9,000 calories a day, depending on his activity. Fifty slices of bacon, 20 chicken breasts, and 13 whole avocados, Watt was soon nearing 9,000 calories. Soon enough, cheat days came back into the picture, and brunch became a weekly food regimen. “Brunch is my favorite meal, had a massive potato pancake omelet. Then I had stuffed French toast with berries and stuff. The omelet is still pretty darn healthy. The stuffed French toast was the cheat meal, but that was delicious,” says Watt.

Adding to his list of favorites: barbecue. Watt became close with chef Ronnie Killen, ownder of Killen’s Barbecue, which was also named one of America’s top five barbecue places by the Food Network. Killen mails Watt smoked turkey and lean cuts of brisket. And Watt is not a fan of sauces, keeping the meat simple.

Watt is not the only althlete to splurge on calories. Back in ’08, swimmer Michael Phelps was eating up to 12,000 calories a day while training for the Beijing Olympic Summer Games. But eating 9,000 calories for Watt isn’t easy, “If I’m not working out, I eat the whole time I’m not working out. It’s exhausting. You have to force-feed.”

Training Practices During Travel

Everybody travels.

Whether it’s for business, pleasure, vacation, world domination, or epic questing, at some point in our lives we all depart from the comfort of our personal “Shire” to visit another location. It might be a quick trip to the next town over for a business conference or a massive adventure halfway around the world for months at a time. No matter what kind of trip it is, one thing is certain:

Our normal routines get completely thrown out the window when traveling:

If you work out in a gym, suddenly you might not have access to any equipment.
If you run around your neighborhood, suddenly you no longer have a familiar path to follow.
If you usually prepare your own meals, suddenly you don’t have a kitchen or fridge.
If you’re used to a good night’s sleep, suddenly you’re sleeping at odd hours in different time zones.
We are creatures of habit – while working a normal day job, we can stick to a routine pretty easily (wake up at the same time, eat all meals at the same time, work out at the same time, go to sleep at the same time). However, when we start traveling, absolutely nothing is familiar and the slightest speed bump can be enough to screw things up.

Luckily, there is hope!

It’s time to get you a specific action plan that you can take with you on your next trip, whether its for a day or a year.

My Story

I have been a gym rat my entire life.

Well, it certainly feels like my entire life – I got my first gym membership at age 16, and I can probably count the number of months on one hand when I didn’t have a gym membership of some kind since then:

In high school, I worked out at Sportsite in Sandwich, MA.
In college, I worked out at Vanderbilt’s student gym.
When I moved to California, I worked out at 24-Hour Fitness in Pacific Beach, California.
When I lived in Atlanta, I worked out at the LA fitness by my apartment.
During the majority of that time I also always had access to a blender and raw materials to mix my breakfast shake and post-workout shake. Back when I had a regular day job, I had a very clear routine – wake up, drink my breakfast shake, eat my snacks brought from home, eat a pre-made meal at lunch, go to the gym after work, drink another shake, cook myself a healthy dinner, and get to bed at a reasonable hour after an hour or two of gaming.

However, things always got completely screwed up whenever I traveled (which was a lot) – hotel gyms were always crappy, I was always “too busy” to exercise, I could never find a good set of weights, and I allowed myself to eat whatever I wanted “because I was traveling.” Not surprisingly, my fitness progress would either stall completely or backpedal during these trips, and I’d have to spend two weeks after coming home trying to get back into a rhythm.

Because I was on the road so often, it was a constant game of “2 steps forward, one step back.”

My big trip

Back in January 2011, I began an adventure of epic proportions, traveling all over Australia, New Zealand, and Asia.

Not going to lie, I was seriously worried about my physical well-being for this trip. I had never been able to stick to anything other than the occasional hike – I justified this by telling myself that it was just too hard to keep a routine and that I would pick things back up when I came home.

Now, for this big trip, I was going to be traveling for five months with no access to a gym or a blender (which had previously accounted for half of my daily meals). I was going to be living out of a backpack, in a new city every few days, sleeping at odd hours, exploring exotic locations, crossing off crazy things from my list, flying stunt planes and finding Nemo, and also working full-time on Nerd Fitness.

On top of that, I managed to get myself sick for the first two weeks of the trip and I didn’t work out or eat right at all. I was already starting behind the 8-ball.

And then I put on my hard hat and went to work.

Three Months of Win

These are before and after pictures of me, taken almost three months apart. The picture on the left was taken on Feburary 14th on Waiheke Island in New Zealand – I weighed 162 pounds. The picture on the right was taken on May 12th in a hotel room in Bangkok, Thailand – I weighed 174 pounds.

Despite an incredibly hectic life and travel schedule, I was able to pack on 10-12 pounds of muscle during my three months of hardcore traveling. (I didn’t have any way to measure body fat while traveling so I don’t have exact numbers). I spent the first nine weeks “bulking up” by overloading my system with calories and strength training, and the last three weeks before this picture “thinning out” by eating less calories while continuing to strength train.

Now, if you’re thinking, “big deal, I could put on twelve pounds in three months no problem!” I will tell you that I absolutely BUSTED my ass during those three months to put on the RIGHT KIND of weight to get stronger and bigger. If you’ve ever tried to pack on muscle, you know it’s tough without lifting any weights or having access to a steady supply of healthy food.

Whether your goal is weight loss or muscle gain, here’s how you can stay on target for your next trip.

Make It Your Constant

Back in November 2010, I took three weeks off from doing any strength training during my trip to Peru – I didn’t see the need to continue my workout routine without a gym or access to healthy calories and my training suffered big time.

However, I knew that I would have NO CHOICE but to find a new way to stay strong and healthy during my big adventure.

Want to know my real reasoning for forcing myself to stay in shape and exercise on my trip? Nerd Fitness and Google. I knew that I had a community of people here looking to me for advice on how to stay healthy and active – I had to practice what I preached. On top of that, I had already been scheduled to give my talk at Google in June – who would take advice from a skinny, weak, out of shape kid on how to become more fit?

So, I made a commitment. I took it as a personal challenge (which is different than a physical challenge on Double Dare) to come back in better shape than before I left.

I don’t know if you’re a Lost fan, but my favorite episode, “the Constant,” involved a character named Desmond who had to find the one “constant” in his life in order to stay alive and sane.

Because I was traveling around countries, sleeping on buses, exploring temples, and visiting a new town seemingly every other day, my exercise became my constant. I knew that without a doubt, no matter where I was or what I was doing, every other day I would find a way to work out – no excuses. I think in the four months while I was overseas, I might have had to add in an extra day between workouts maybe a handful of times.

Your exercise needs to become your constant while traveling – make a commitment to yourself that you will find at least one hour every other day to exercise – NO EXCUSES. Add it to your calendar, set up an email reminder, do whatever it takes, but don’t take no for an answer. You might need to wake up early one day to fit it in. You might need to exercise at 11PM at night on another day.

Just effing do it.

Understand the importance of keeping up your routine even while traveling, and you’ll be able to come back to your regular daily routine without skipping a beat.

Where and how do I exercise?

Remember how I said I used to be a gym rat?

I might never set foot in a gym again. I was able to get in the best shape of my life while traveling because I put my focus on strength training with increasingly challenging body weight exercises.

Whenever I got to a new town, my first mission was to go for a walk and find one of three things:

A pull up bar or swing set
A sturdy tree branch
A building or bus stop overhang
I knew that as long as I could find one of those three things, I could complete a full workout. My workouts consisted of a push exercise (push ups or handstand push ups), a pull exercise (pull ups or chin ups), a leg exercise (lunges or squats), and a core exercise (planks or hanging knee tucks).

(Can’t do pull ups (YET) or can’t find a tree branch? Do body weight rows using a desk or table, or pick up your suitcase and do dumbbell rows. Everything else you can do with just your body.)

Every other day, I did a full body workout with simple exercises listed above. Because I was working out my entire body in the same routine, it didn’t matter if I had to push back my next workout by a day or two due to travel. Compare that to somebody who does separate body parts every day (boooooo) – one missed day can throw a whole schedule out of wack.

I always found space to work out no matter where I was and so can you. You might have a decent hotel gym, you might need to work out in your hotel or dorm room (don’t worry, got you covered there), you might need to do lunges in your hallway, or maybe you need to find a park or school playground somewhere. Go for a walk, pick a direction, and try to find a small patch of land to do your push ups, squats and jump rope.

(Side note: you WILL get weird looks from people, especially if you’re doing pull ups on a swingset bar while toddlers are swinging next to you. Try to keep your swearing and shouting to a minimum when little Timmy is sitting next to you picking his nose).

Here’s a look at one of my workouts from the beginning of the trip (2/14 New Zealand):

Pushups, 2 min between sets
25, 20, 12, 12
Lunges, 2 min between. Count is for both legs
15, 15, 15
Wide grip pull ups on thick tree branch
6, 5, 4, 3

Compare that to a workout from the end of my trip (5/18 Beijing):

Handstand push ups, 2 min between sets
7, 5, 4, 3 full and 3 half (best yet*)
Close grip chin ups, 90 seconds between sets
22, 14, 8, 5
Assisted one-legged squats (each leg), 1 minute between legs
8,8, 8,8, 8,8
Side to side push up (to each side)
9,9 8,8 7,7
Various gymnastic holds

Now obviously, I didn’t just go from doing regular push ups to handstand push ups and regular squats to one legged squats overnight – it was three months of constant, consistent improvement. I wanted to get stronger, so I built my workout around those goals – I made sure to increase the difficulty of each exercise as soon as I could do more than 3-4 sets of 10 reps per set. Because I was also overloading my system with calories, it allowed me to get bigger as well.

So how did I know when to “level up” my exercises?

Track your progress!

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: your goal is to be better today than you were yesterday. This is incredibly difficult to do if you don’t know how you did yesterday!

I kept track of every single work out while I was traveling, including how much time I waited between each set of exercises, if I could only do a half repetition, and sometimes how I felt afterwards. I knew exactly how many reps of each exercise I needed to do in order to be better and stronger compared to the previous.

As to how I kept track of my workouts, I used a simple app on my iPhone called Evernote – a new entry for every workout. The picture to the right is a screen capture from my iPhone of my workouts while traveling. If you don’t have a fancy phone, just bring a piece of paper and pencil with you – my notes are VERY basic.

I’ve over covered how to track your progress to make sure you’re progressing, so now it’s time to make sure your workouts are progressing too.

If you could only do one squat and half a push up yesterday, aim for two squats and 3/4ths of a push up tomorrow.

It DOESN’T MATTER where you start, no matter how weak you think you are. What matters is that you’re better than you were last time.

Make eating a BIG priority

I have no doubt in my mind I wouldn’t have had ANY success traveling and training if I didn’t put a huge emphasis on my eating. The picture above was one of the meals that I helped prepare during a family style dinner in New Zealand (and it was easy to cook too!)

You cannot outrun a bad diet, and you can’t out-train it either.

Now, I was eating to GAIN healthy weight on my trip, which required a ridiculous amount of food consumption. I knew food was going to be a big part of my success for my time on the road, so I made eating a priority:

I increased my food budget to cover the increased costs – I spent less money on extra expenses so that I could afford to eat enough while traveling. It was tough saying “no thanks, I’m staying in tonight” to a group of fun travelers going out on the town, but I had my goals and priorities set and nothing was going to stop me.

I made eating a priority – because I was trying to GAIN weight and muscle, I had to overload my system with a lot of extra calories, which is tough to do on a tight budget and no consistent kitchen. If you’re curious as to what I ate while traveling in hostels and living out of a backpack, here’s a typical day for me: 2-3L of whole milk, an entire bag of almonds, lots of apples and peanut butter (couldn’t find almond butter anywhere), peanut butter sandwiches, shots of olive oil (seriously) before every meal, spinach and walnut salads, and lots of grilled chicken and hamburger. I often ate an unhealthy meal from Subway (foot-long meatball sub – best $/calorie & protein ratio I could find) right after working out to make sure I was building muscle and replenishing the energy stored within my muscles. It was expensive, and a lot of work.

So yeah, I “was fortunate enough” to get to eat a lot of calories, but it was a lot of unfun and boring calories. But I did it, because that’s what I needed to do to get results. And you haven’t lived until you watch a room full of people stare at you as you guzzle a bottle of olive oil.

(Note: I upped my food budget significantly to avoid the typical backpacker diet: bags of rice and pasta and cheap carbs for sustenance. Had I followed that diet, I would have come back looking like a skeleton. I ate plenty of meat and enough protein to ensure muscle growth, and timed my “unhealthy” meals around workouts).

I did the best I could – sometimes you’re going to be in a town where you don’t have many options. Sometimes you’ll have to go out to dinner at an unhealthy restaurant. Sometimes you’ll be stuck in an airport that only serves $12 dollar salads. These things happen.

Teddy Roosevelt said it best: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

I planned ahead – I knew I was going to be traveling on certain days, and I knew I’d be without a kitchen on other days, so I planned ahead. If I was going to be on a bus for 10 hours, I traveled with a bag of almonds, three apples, a jar of peanut butter, and a bottle of olive oil to make sure I got my meals and extra calories in.

Author’s note: you’re probably thinking “Steve, I thought you were a Paleo guy? Meatball subs and peanut butter sandwiches? That’s not very healthy. What gives?” I hear you, and don’t worry, I still think the Paleo Diet is the best way to eat healthy. I deviated from this path for the few months while traveling because I was solely focused on gaining weight and muscle while also traveling, and finding 4,000 calories of 100% paleo approved calories per day just wasn’t in my (already increased) budget. Think of this as one of those ‘Don’t try this at home, kids!’ PSAs. The more you know (do do do dooooooo….).

Since returning home to the States for the past few weeks, I have stayed relatively true to the Paleo lifestyle – I knew my “meal plan” before was only temporary, so it was a simple switch.

What are your goals? Whatever you’re currently working on improving in your life – weight loss, muscle gain, increased strength, etc. – you can continue working on that while traveling as well if you take care of your diet.

Travel day? Pack some healthy snacks with you in your bag – apples and almonds are my go-to.
Going out to dinner with your company? Find the restaurant online, scour the menu, and “pre-order your dinner” in your mind so you know what to order when you get there. Order the “meat + veggie + potato” option on the menu, and ask for double veggies instead. Aim for something like steak tips, or grilled chicken, salmon, etc.
Traveling with your family? Let them know that you’re making a concerted effort to eat better and that you’d like their support.
Going out with friends? Let’s say you’re going out with buddies, and you have no choice but to eat fried food and drink tons of beer (I hate when that happens). Compensate by being extra diligent on the days before and after – no drive through meals, no late-night vending machine stops, no bad snacks while at the convention.
Have a tight food budget? How bad is it really? I thought my food budget was an issue…but then when I cut out money for beer and other things that aren’t REALLY necessary, suddenly things became less tight.
Now, you might read all of that above and think “damn Steve, did you have ANY fun on your trip? I’m traveling and on vacation and now you want me to give up all the fun stuff!”

Not true – I certainly had a blast while traveling, I still went out and had fun (ask the town of Noosa, Australia about St. Patty’s Day: they’ll tell you), went on all kinds of adventures, ran Nerd Fitness as a one-man operation, and still managed to come back in better shape than when I left.

Pick your battles. Plan ahead. Make eating a priority.

If your goal is weight loss, try to maximize the good stuff (meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts and minimize the bad stuff (junk food, processed grains and carbs, sugary beverages, etc.). Sounds too easy to be effective, but it’s not – if you plan ahead, it IS that easy.

Yes, you will get made fun of by your unhealthy friends, or peer pressured into eating bad and skipping workouts by those around you. Tough sh**. Two thirds of this country is overweight and out of shape.

Look at “everybody else”…do you really want to be like them?

Stay Active

Last but not least – stay active.

I don’t care if you’re walking laps in the airport while listening to Ke$ha during a two hour layover or jumping rope at a bus stop – FIND A WAY TO BE ACTIVE EVERY DAY.

I already told you that eating right will be 80% of your success or failure – that means you need to be “on” with how you eat every day, even on days that you’re not strength training. Go for a run around the town, go for a hike, toss a frisbee in the park, go swimming in the ocean, etc.

Whatever it is, do something!

I find that on days when I exercise, I eat better. Something activates in my brain when exercising that says “I’m trying to be healthy, so I’m going to eat healthy.” On days when I don’t exercise at all, I tend to say things like “meh, I’ll do it tomorrow” or ‘it’s only one meal” or “it’s only 37 beers” (kidding, Mom).

Even if it’s 5 minutes of jump rope (the ONLY piece of equipment I travel with), it’s better than nothing and will get you in the proper frame of mind.

So go for a walk – try walking EVERYWHERE. In a big city? If it’s nice out walk instead of taking a cab! Go for a jog around your new surroundings…just stay active.

If you’re concerned about losing strength or muscle, a healthy diet combined with just one full-body strength training session per week (if you’re on a shorter trip) can often be enough to allow you to maintain your current levels and hit the ground running when you get back.

Questions?

This Thursday, I begin the next part of my epic adventure. Here’s my upcoming schedule:

7/28 – 8/1: Washington, D.C.
8/1 – 8/5: Chicago, IL
8/5 – 9/3: Ireland
9/3 – 9/28: Spain
9/28-10/24: Boston and Atlanta
10/24-???: Who knows?
You bet your ass that I’m going to keep training and pushing myself during this trip, with a strong emphasis on eating better and getting stronger. I can’t wait to get back out on the road, visit new countries, cross a few more things off my epic quest list, and have some fun.