Saturday, October 31, 2015

Podcast Ep. 7 - Jason Helmes, Anyman Fitness

By day, Jason Helmes is just a regular guy. He teaches math to middle schoolers; he has a wife and two kids. He is exceptionally tall (6 feet, 8 inches), but we won't hold that against him.

By night, he's the boss at Anyman Fitness, an online community for people "who want to learn to lean out, live well, and improve themselves permanently."

To date Jason has helped thousands of people reach their goals, and it's no wonder, given his teaching background and incredible ability to simplify fitness and nutrition. He's also a really nice guy, which probably helps.

I was fortunate enough to get Jason on for Episode 7 of the Fitness Pollenator (Video) Podcast. Over the course of the episode, Jason Helmes and I discuss

  • How he went from jock to jiggly to jacked again
  • The availability bias and the difference between popular and evidence-based fitness 
  • Making fitness a lifestyle and how anyone can do it
  • The importance of meal planning
  • How being both a teacher and mathematically-minded helps Jason as a coach
  • His eight month diet in preparation for a summer photo shoot
  • Whether or not "bulking" and "cutting" cycles are necessary
  • Why being bodybuilder lean is neither healthy nor sustainable
  • The advantages and disadvantages of being an exceptionally tall lifter
  • Avoiding "lifestyle bloat"
  • Jason's secret for building a successful (online) business
  • And more
This is one you absolutely do not want to miss!

Monday, October 26, 2015 “One Weird Trick” to Improve Exercise Technique Instantly: Proprioceptive Stimulus

Arnold probably used *a few* weird tricks in his day.

Just recently, I realized that a tool we used in the pool for improving stroke technique was exactly the same as one I now use all the time in the gym.

This "weird trick" is precisely the subject of my latest guest blog post for Dean Somerset.

Read all about it here: 

>> <<

P.S. Cool beans! This article was also selected by thePTDC as the best in Strength Training for the week!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Why Do HIIT when Hypertrophy is the Goal?

I recently reached out to my good friend Marc Lewis with a question regarding muscle hypertrophy and interval training. With Marc's background in exercise physiology and research interest in concurrent training, I knew he'd have the answer.

When I received Marc's incredibly thorough response, I realized just how lucky I am to have such a smart friend. I learned so much, I figured I'd share it here. If nitty gritty exercise science tickles your fancy, read on!

Hey Marc,

Even when someone’s primary goal is muscle hypertrophy, we still recommend a combination of cardiac output training and high-intensity metabolic training (i.e. HIIT).

In really simple terms, cardiac output training improves a person’s ability to recover, which helps them train with more volume and more frequently (thereby promoting hypertrophy). 

Why, though, do we recommend the high-intensity component? The argument you see a lot of the time is “just look at a sprinter’s body,” but you could also make the case that elite sprinting selects for muscular body types. Is there research showing that high-intensity metabolic training builds muscle?

Thanks a bunch,


Marc's All-Star Response

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Surprising Reasons You’re Not Reaching Your Fitness Goals

Guest Post by Geoffrey Chiu

Through years of experimental and observational research on human physiology and biomechanics, science has dictated the optimal way to train for specific fitness goals. The problem is, the most efficient route may not always be the most enjoyable -- especially for people new to exercise.

What often happens to beginners is that they begin to find their routine boring and monotonous. These people eventually fall off and stop working out all together; whether it’s due to boredom or a lack of progress/results. Now, much like science, where adherence is an important factor in experimental studies, adherence is also a crucial part of a beginner's long-term fitness success.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015 Reaching Your Muscular Potential

Hang out for any length of time in a commercial gym, and you're guaranteed to see atrocities like triple bodyweight quarter squats, push-ups that look like they're being performed by a dying seal, and eighteen variations of bicep curls.

In my new article for, Reaching Your Muscular Potential, I thought long and hard about the most common mistakes I see people make.

In the end, I was able to boil the list down to just six things. Are you making any of the six mistakes? Find out here:

Monday, October 19, 2015

Podcast Ep. 6 - Kevin Mullins Fitness

Curious what it's like to be a TWO-TIME finalist in the Men's Health Next Top Trainer search? How about being selected as one of Women's Health Magazine's Ten Insanely In-Shape Male Trainers?

Meet personal trainer Kevin Mullins

In Episode 6 of the Fitness Pollenator (Video) Podcast, I chat with personal trainer Kevin Mullins of Washington, DC, and get answers to the above questions and so much more, including
  • How Kevin came to be a personal trainer and strength coach
  • The biggest mistakes trainers and coaches make
  • Why habit-based nutrition trumps a cut-and-dry diet plan
  • How Kevin became active in the fitness blog-o-sphere
  • What supersets are and how best to combine exercises
  • Which of Kevin's many continuing education certifications he finds the most useful

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Best Fitness Articles (Dick Talens Edition)

1. The Other Side of Strength by Dick Talens

Most folks probably think that the secret to getting ripped is sheer determination and a love of pain. In this article, Talens highlights the somewhat surprising characteristics of people he’s worked with who have successfully transformed their bodies — characteristics like humility, self-compassion, and mindfulness. If you’ve tried countless times to make a change but haven’t succeeded, this is a must-read.

Think your general practitioner is the best person to listen to for weight loss advice? Think again. According to Talens, doctors’ best tips are generally to “eat less” and “move more” — hardly a prescription for real world weight loss success. Instead of trying to follow the doctor’s terse guidelines, Talens recommends hitting the Internet, where online fitness communities (like the fitness Subreddit) that share actionable information abound.

In order to lose weight, the majority of people turn to running, even if they despise it. This choice makes sense from an accessibility standpoint, says Talens. Unfortunately, it’s actually not the best form of exercise for weight loss — especially for heavier folks for whom it causes pain. The better weight loss solution, Talens proposes, is to find an activity that you can stick to (be it walking, strength training, yoga, whatever) and strive to improve at it through what Talens describes as the principle of “activation.”

More isn’t always better, especially in the context of exercise. In this article, Talens argues that humans have finite resources in terms of time, energy, and willpower. The key to fitness success, he explains, is to maximize the return on investment of these resources. And simply doing more, more, more isn’t the right way to go about it.

5. The Word “Healthy” Sucks by Dick Talens

Nothing is inherently healthy or unhealthy, says Talens. Instead, every fitness decision must be considered in the greater context of a person’s overall lifestyle. Talens gives the near and dear to my heart example of Oreos. In isolation, most people wouldn’t consider Oreos to be a healthy food. But if a few Oreos help a person stay on track with the rest of their diet, then perhaps they aren’t so unhealthy after all.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

5 Ways Exercise Improves Relationships

By Ryan Blair

In recent years, it's becoming more and more trendy to be health-conscious. People want to engage in activities that will help not only their bodies, but also their overall being. When most people think of exercise, they generally envision activities that will strengthen their bodies. What they don't consider is how exercise can also help their relationships develop and deepen.

1. Physical Response

When you exercise, endorphins are released in your body. Endorphins help make you feel happy. When you feel better internally, you're more likely to handle your relationships in a peaceful manner. In this way, the effects that exercise have on your mood can help strengthen your relationships.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Meet Mark: The Case for Online Training

Meet Mark. Mark is a 30-something father of two and administrator at a university.

Mark enjoys being active. His primary fitness goals are simple: to look good and continue engaging in recreational sports with his buddies.

Lately, Mark’s been experiencing a plateau with his resistance training routine, though. He’s tasked me, his online personal trainer, with evaluating his current program and making some recommendations to help him break out of his rut.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Excelling at Sport with Diabetes

Guest post by Robert Turp & Michelle Stevens

There are 29 million Americans currently living with diabetes. It’s frequently described as one of the biggest health issues of the 21st Century, with those diagnosed with type II diabetes growing every year. Learning how to manage this illness is something that is very important. It’s a chronic illness that can have a big impact on someone’s life.

But how does diabetes affect sport? What happens if you dream of sporting success but currently live with this illness?

Contrary to what people may believe, diabetes (both type I and II) doesn’t need to be an obstacle to enjoying or excelling at sports and fitness. Men and women with diabetes are common in sports at all levels and have achieved some of the highest awards available on the planet. If you think diabetics can’t achieve greatness, just look at Steve Redgrave, one of the most decorated Olympians of all time. He won Olympic gold after being diagnosed with diabetes. Did his training change? Yes, of course. Did it affect his success? No.

Steve Redgrave, one of the most decorated Olympians ever