MAKING YOUR BODY A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE

Of all of the flexibility/mobility work we do at ITS, this may be the most important.  As a matter of fact, it’s among the most important things we do at ITS, period.  We see so many people with tight quads and hip flexors causing low back tightness, hip pain, knee pain and the list goes on.

Do yourself a favor and do this stretch every single day!

http://www.intensitytrainingsystems.com/2017/06/07/1946/

Get-ups

Statistically, the most dangerous thing you do each day is get in and out of the shower.  Why?  Because so many people fall getting in and out of the shower.  Add to that the fact that after the age of 55 you’re more likely to outlive cancer than you are to outlive falling and breaking a bone or a joint (in a five year window) and we officially have a bad combination.

Falling is clearly a bad thing which would lead us to believe (or know for fact;) that getting up is a really, really good thing.

Before I go on, if there are any fitness purists reading this…chill out.  This is NOT a Turkish Get-up.  This is survival.

Anyway, we use get-ups on a weekly basis with our clients not only because it will likely increase their time on this earth but also because it can be a sneaky hard workout if done correctly.

Try 5-10 minutes straight or 100-200 get-ups for time.

Enjoy!

Get-ups from Levi Memmer on Vimeo.

Torture Your Abs

We see LOTS of lordosis (excessive swayback) at our gym.  There are many factors that contribute to this poor posture….weak abs, weak glutes (butt), tight low back muscles and tight hip flexors to name a few.  This exercise that we’ve lovingly names “rockers” is an excellent way to address weak abs.  It’s super simple but certainly not easy.  If you can do 5 perfect reps (5 seconds up and 5 seconds down) without your elbows and knees separating, you have some pretty dang strong abs.  Enjoy!

 

Planking…Correctly

The plank or “front bridge” as we call it is a foundation exercise for all of our clients and should be a foundation exercise for everyone.  Even my good buddy Zach Dechant, baseball strength coach at TCU, uses front bridge daily with his elite level baseball guys.

Unfortunately front bridge is done incorrectly all to often.  We all had the coach back in junior high or high school that insisted that our hips needed to be lower.  Therein lies the problem.  Check it out…

Death to Meal Plans

People love meal plans.  Check that.  They love the idea of a meal plan.  I hear it quite often from innocent people who just don’t know any better.  “I need a meal plan.  I want to know exactly what to eat and how much of it to eat.”  Little to they realize at the time that by even trying to follow a “meal plan” they are sending themselves straight to nutrition hell.  Who has time to measure out and eat 6.2 ounces of chicken and 1-2/5 cups of broccoli at 10:43 a.m.?  Forget the timing for a minute…who has time and the schedule that would allow eating five or six meals a day?  IF you followed a very specific meal plan, would you get results quicker?  Probably, but you’ll likely only be able to stick to for a few weeks at most.  It’s not realistic long term.  The most important component to your success on any “diet” is consistency.  Good, clean nutrition is important without question but you’re life can’t revolve around your nutrition unless you make a living as a physique athlete or a professional sports athlete.

After working with hundreds of clients we’ve found that creating solid, fundamental habits are key.  We’ve also found that “slow cooking” the process usually works better than trying to change everything at once.  With a meal plan you’re changing some habits but the focus isn’t on the habit that’s being changed.  It’s focused too much on the food.  The reason people come to us is in part because they focus too much on food, so let’s change that!  The research shows that if you try to change 3 habits at once, the success rate is about 7%.  Two habits at once…about 35%.  Once habit at a time…about 92%.  So it’s clear that making a bunch of changes at once, such as a meal plan, is not the best move.  If you slow it down and deal with one habit at a time, success is much easier to achieve.

Each person is a bit different but the best place to start is to pick the low hanging fruit.  With our clients, I take refined sugar out first.  That’s it.  For 1-2 weeks, they’ll go sugar free.  They can eat whatever else they want during that time but no sugar.  Pick an area where you really struggle and address it.  My wife LOVES nachos.  She would first cut out nachos.  For the record, she’s stays lean and strong as hell regardless of her nutrition, which really sucks for me as I get pudgy just looking at nachos.

Once the low hanging fruit has been addressed, the next habit is really cleaning up the quality of the food.  In the excellent book Fat Loss Happens on Monday, Josh Hillis says quantity of food will dictate scale weight while quality of food will determine body fat levels.   I would have to agree.  Start eating more vegetables and less bread.  Start eating more clean meat and few cheeseburgers.  You get the idea.

Other habits can include get protein in every meal, drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water and many others.  MUCH more simple than a meal plan.  The order of the habits really depends on the client.  Do you struggle to get enough water?  That may be habit number one if so.

Once you’ve picked the low hanging fruit and the quality of the food is pretty high, you move onto caloric and macro-nutrient breakdown which is another post (or 3) all to itself.

It’s important to note that if we slow cook the process like we should, these few steps alone may take 3-4 months and maybe more.  And that is a GREAT thing!  The further we can get without making the process too complicated the better.  We’ve had clients lose up to 50 pounds over 8-9 months without ever counting a calorie.  They just slowly and methodically implemented solid habits that made huge changes over time.

Eating for fat loss isn’t always easy, but it’s not complicated!

Ever stronger!
Coach Levi

 

I Don’t Want to Get Bulky!

Getting people STRONGER is my passion.  As a matter of fact, our mission is, “To help people become stronger physically, mentally and emotionally.”  That statement covers a LOT of ground, but each area is so important in becoming the best version of YOU.  While the mental and emotional aspect are probably more important in the grand scheme, I want to give you some great content on the physical aspect of becoming stronger over the next few weeks.  Today I want to start with my favorite misconception.

Strength Training will make me bulky.

This statement couldn’t be further from the truth.  I could go on and on destroying this misconception, but because I know you value your time I’ll keep it short.  You’re welcome 😉

  • You’re not them – Most of the females you see on TV and in muscle magazines have the help of modern chemistry (wink, wink).  Most of those same women are blessed (or cursed, depending on how you look at it) with great genetics AND spend their life in the gym.
  • Hormones – Strength training strengthens a given group of muscles but doesn’t necessarily make them bigger.  Women do not have adequate hormone levels (mainly testosterone) to get “bulky”.  Normal female hormone levels and proper nutrition combined with a well designed strength training program, create a very lean, toned look in women.
  • Muscle burns fat – forget what your cardio queen best friend said…MUSCLE BURNS FAT.  Not directly, but indirectly through increased metabolism.  Here are some helpful stats:
    • ​a pound of muscle uses (burns) 75-150 calories per day.
    • a pound of fat uses about 3 calories per day
    • a pound of muscle is about 20% smaller than a pound of fat
    • a pound of fat is about the size of a coffee mug
      Let’s say you lost 5 pounds of fat and put on 5 pounds of muscle (just an example):

      • you would be burning 363 – 738 more calories per day
      • since a pound of fat is about the size of a coffee mug, you would be taking off about 5 coffee mugs of fat that is typically in trouble areas (isn’t fat always in trouble areas?) such as abdomen, inner thigh,etc…and put on 4 coffee mugs (20% less) of muscle that is typically not in trouble areas.
      • This is just an example of how drastically your body can change without any actual weight loss.
Strength does not necessarily equal increased muscle mass.  Increased muscle mass does not necessarily equal being bulky.  Muscle, however, is a VERY powerful tool in creating your ideal physique.  Putting on a bit of muscle will change your shape, make you stronger and burn fat like crazy…and it won’t make you bulky!!

Calling All Cardio Queens

Are you a cardio queen?  Would you like to lose body fat?  If you answered yes to both of these questions, I have a question for you.  How’s that working for you?

The common belief among your average gym member is that fat loss = cardio and cardio = fat loss.  Not just cardio, but long, slow cardio right?  Wrong!!  Well, not completely wrong but there are better ways to burn fat in less time than plodding along on the treadmill for an hour.

Enter resistance training.  Because I feel like a first year college student typing “resistance training” I’ll refer to it as lifting weights.

I’m not talking about doing curls with 3 pound dumbbells, I’m talking about squatting, deadlifting, bench pressing, doing pull-ups (REAL pull-ups, not full body flailing pull-ups) and pushups.

If you’re a female reading this there is a 99% chance that you just though to yourself, “I don’t want to get bulky.”  Double cheeseburgers, donut holes and modern chemistry (wink, wink) make you bulky, not lifting weights.

So why does lifting have such a positive effect on body composition?  I could go on and on with science this and science that but instead I’ll give you two quick reasons why you should reduce or eliminate long, slow cardio and start lifting weights.

  • Lifting weights promotes the growth of fat-free mass or muscle (Get the word “bulky out of your head please).  The amount of muscle that you carry has a huge impact on your resting metabolic rate, allowing you to burn more calories, and therefore fat, at rest.
  • Any added muscle is going to change the shape of your body.  We’ve had multiple clients drop fat while adding muscle.  Their scale weight might not change much but the shape of their body has changed BIG TIME.  Guess how much long, slow cardio we do at ITS?  You guessed it…zero!!

I’ll give credit where credit is due.  Cardio is great for your heart and lungs.  Endurance athletes are in a class of their own.  That said, fat loss will come much easier if you reduce or even ditch the long, slow cardio and starting doing what I lovingly call “movements that matter.”  Squats, deadlifts, pull-ups and pushups are just a few.  They don’t have to be so heavy that your nose bleeds but it’s ok to challenge yourself with these movements.

So cross cardio off of your to-do list and replace it with lifting something!!

Ever stronger!!

Levi

 

Practice what you preach.

What are you willing to do for your kids?  Are you willing to move to another town for a better school system?  Are you willing to work an extra job so that they could participate on a select team?  Are you willing to give up some or all of your dreams so that they can pursue theirs?  Most parents would answer yes to every one of the questions above.

At I.T.S. I tell our coaches repeatedly that we must practice what we preach.  Who wants to get coached through a workout by a person who looks like a pile of goo?  It’s important for our clients to see that we are all physically fit and that we have been through the same physical and mental battles that they are going through.

What does this have to do with your kids?

How often have you told your child, “you have to stick it out until the end” when they wanted to quit in the middle of something?  How often have you stressed to them the importance of being disciplined?  How often have you required that they finish their homework before they go play or go to a friend’s house?

Are YOU practicing the same principles that you are trying to teach them?  Do YOU stick to something once you’ve started?  Do YOU show discipline, even when it gets tough?  Do YOU stay the course until a goal is achieved?

I’ve literally had a lady (who was at least 75 pounds overweight) tell me, “I’m not willing to spend an hour a day away from my kids just so that I can workout.”  Luckily I was able to bite my tongue but I wanted to say, “Either steal an hour a day from them now or steal 15 years off of the end of your life from them later.”

But take health out of the argument for now.  What a great example she could have set for her kids.  Even though eating clean and training may not have been her favorite thing to do, her kids could have watched her display discipline, hard work and dedication!!  They would have seen stick to and finish something.  They would have seen her go through the ups and downs of trying to achieve a goal.  They would have seen her fight through plateaus and days where motivation is hard to come by.  They would have seen her, in spite of all of the obstacles that arise, SUCCEED!!  What better lesson to teach your kids?

Are you practicing what you preach?  The message that you send through actions is MUCH more powerful that the message you send with your words.

Ever stronger!!

Levi

Boot Camp vs. Metabolic Group Training

I don’t like the term “boot camp”.  So why do I have a “boot camp” section on my website you ask?  Because that’s what the layperson can understand.  It’s not their job to know the difference between a boot camp and Metabolic Group Training.  It’s my job.  Although I’d like to kill the term “boot camp” altogether, I don’t have that kind of pull :)  Our group training at I.T.S. is an intense, circuit style method that carries a huge metabolic punch.  So much so that we’ve named it Metabolic Group Training.

So what’s that difference between a boot camp and Metabolic Group Training?  There are many but I’ll hit the high points.

First, there is a large difference between training and working out.  Working out equals activity.  I think activity is great, but that’s not enough to achieve substantial fat loss or improved performance.  Training on the other hand is well planned, well thought out activity with a goal in mind. Not only well planned and well thought out for just that training session (notice how I didn’t say “workout”) but well planned out/though out for weeks, months and years at a time.  Today’s training session is a small but important piece of puzzle.  If we are not sure what next week’s/month’s training will look like, how do we know what today’s should look like.  Walking into the gym and training until you puke everyday is not training.  It doesn’t take a genius to come up with that training program.  You can write that training program with as little as a weekend certification…wink, wink.  We want to train…not work out.

Second (now that I’m off of my soapbox), boot camps are done in parks and parking lots.  Metabolic Group Training is held in a legitimate training facility with a roof and some actual equipment.  A boot camp instructor may ask you to bring some light dumbbells or a yoga mat but there is no legit equipment to speak of.  By the way, you can get some great workouts in just using your body weight, but it doesn’t offer much variety long term.  See above for “training vs. working out” for more on long-term training.  Anyway, in our Metabolic Group Training groups we use a variety of equipment including bands, barbells, dumbbells, slideboards, chains, plates, med balls, sleds and ropes to name a few.  This adds a tremendous amount a variety not only to keep you body from adapting too quickly (leading to plateaus) but also to keep you fresh mentally.  There are only so many ways you can make jogging, sit-ups and pushups exciting…

Third is the quality of coaching.  Most boot camps have unlimited capacity.  Because most of them are held in parks and parking lots, there are no space restrictions.  You can guess what that means.  You and 62 others will be training at the same time.  Regardless of the knowledge/ability of a coach, not everyone is going to be coached like they should be.  Our Metabolic Group Training sessions are limited to 24 people so that we can assure a quality training session where you get coached and not herded.  With a limit of 24 per group we can also make exercise modifications for any client who may have a limitation like a chronic low back pain or a preexisting should issue.

As you can see, there is a huge difference between a boot camp and Metabolic Group Training.  Experience metabolic group training for yourself!!  Get started with a 2-week free trial HERE.

My Take on Supplements – Part 1

I get asked about supplements A LOT. I get asked about supplements more than I get asked about general nutrition and training combined. Why all the supplement questions? I have some ideas.

First, supplement companies are genius marketers. They put an ad in a popular “health magazine” or do a commercial with impressive before and after pictures and give all credit to the promoted supplement. Millions of people look up from their plate of pasta alfredo and decide that they need to take that same supplement. Technology is a great tool to make those before and after pics look even more appealing to the average overweight person. And yet another “conveniently left out” piece of the puzzle is sound nutrition!! The supplement alone didn’t cause the transformation folks. As a matter of fact if you look on the label of most supplements, it will say something about combining exercise and good nutrition with the supplement. “What?!?!? You mean I can eat Krispy Kreme and lay around all day?!?! This supplement sucks!!”

Second, most folks don’t have their diet set up properly. Although they feel like they are doing all the right things to lean out, the scale isn’t moving and their clothes don’t fit any differently. Naturally they want to take a supplement that will help put them over the top. I really do feel for these folks as they have the best of intentions and unknowingly turn to the wrong thing (a supplement) to help put them over the top instead of looking at the root of the problem (poor diet set-up). Nine of ten new clients I meet with aren’t getting near enough protein and are consuming way too many carbs.

Third, and most disappointing to me, is that people are looking for a quick fix. Their diet isn’t conducive to fat-loss and they know it. Their lifestyle in general isn’t conducive to fat loss and they know it. I think most of these folks know deep down that a “quick fix” supplement is not the answer, but it’s easier than having the discipline to clean up their diet and then blaming their lack of success on a “supplement that doesn’t work.” We don’t see much of this at I.T.S. as we preach the importance of proper nutrition daily.

Do supplements have a place in your fat loss journey?

Yes.

You can achieve great results without supplements, but there are a few that we recommend to our clients when they get everything else (proper diet and training) in order.

Although the first three paragraphs make me look like a supplement hater, I’m quite the opposite. Just realize the supplements are results accelerators and not results producers.

When you get your diet, training and recovery where it should be, I think you should give yourself every bit of opportunity to maximize results. Enter supplements…