Category Archives for "Training"

My Shocking Discovery About My Body

You can often look back on your life and trace dramatic changes to a pivotal moment that shook you out of your stupor.

Maybe it was the day your child was born, and you realized you had work to do if you want to become the kind of role model you aspire to be. 

Maybe it was when your girlfriend broke up with you out of the blue. Eventually, you realized that the signs were three for a long time and you simply ignored them.

We all have these lightbulb moments. Mine happened over seven years ago when I asked a friend to take a shirtless progress photo for me. And I got the shock of my life...

At the time I felt like I was in a place. I had a flourishing career in finance in London. I wasn’t exactly the Wolf of Fleet Street, but things were going well.

I was in a loving relationship with the woman of my dreams. She was drop dead gorgeous and I was very happy. So far, so good...

My progress in the gym was modest, but I was content with it. I could deadlift 450 lbs for multiple reps and my squat and bench were decent. 

I trained balls to the wall for years. I didn’t consider it a “workout” unless I was completely wiped, drenched in sweat,  sucking in oxygen through my tired lungs, and close to puking.

(Some bodybuilders would consider that a light workout.)

in hindsight it was perhaps not the most sustainable way to train. Alas, in my mind, the stronger I became, the better I would look. 

And the better I looked, the more confident and attractive I’d feel.

Then, I reasoned, all my problems like anxiety, lack of focus and motivation would disappear. 

At least that’s what I reasoned...

The Bombshell

I had seen my physique in the mirror every day and thought I looked pretty good.

Nevertheless, I hadn’t seen a picture of myself shirtless a while, so I was keen to see how I looked objectively, because as they say – the camera never lies.

On the day of the picture I was buoyant. I’d been training my ass off for months and was excited to see how I looked.

But I wasn’t prepared for this level of honesty...

I had big shoulders and a broad chest, but they were covered by body fat. It’s like big boobs on a fat chick or abs on a skinny kid: They don’t count for much.

Needless to say, my abs were non-existent. I was going for the lean and built look –

The kind of physique that makes it apparent that you lift weights whether you wear a slim fit tee or New York Giants jersey, but, isn’t so much that you look like a caricature of a Marvel character. 

Instead, I had a kind of “Ugg the Caveman” look going on. Years of bench pressing and poor training practices left me with rounded shoulders any self-respecting caveman would be proud of. 

It kinda looked like I lifted. When in reality, I spent four to five days a week pounding the weights. It was a little disheartening to say the least.  They say the camera never lies

So how about the look on my face? That told more than any other part of my anatomy:

I looked unconfident, anxious and almost embarrassed. Although it didn’t dawn on me that I felt that way until I saw the picture. 

In short, I was nowhere near the athletic, confident, go-getter I had imagined myself to be. This photo, which was meant to measure my progress, turned out to be a watershed moment in my life.

Not only did I see I was not in the kind of shape I aspired to. But I also realized but there were other areas of my life that I was glossing over

Once the initial shock wore off, I reflected on my life. I was actually anxious A LOT – almost every day in fact – but I had ignored it because it was so frequent. 

Anxiety had become my new normal. And if I'm totally honest, I felt insecure about myself and the way I looked.

Yet I had stuffed it down and chose to ignore it. Looking back, I realize this had dramatically impacted my personal life. 

I was anxious and reclusive in social gatherings, especially in situations where I didn’t know people.  I was in a stable relationship at the time, but due to my rockbottom confidence, I secretly worried if my girlfriend was looking at other men. 

When I first began lifting in my teens, I assumed that hitting big numbers in the gym would increase my confidence. 

I was reasonably strong, yet I still didn’t feel confident about taking my shirt off while on vacation.

And my libido? I couldn’t remember the last time I had a morning wood. Sex felt more like a chore than the intimate, enjoyable experience it’s supposed to be.

While it depressed me to see how mediocre I looked and felt, it was also a blessing in disguise. It was a wake up call that made me rethink my entire life. 

 A verdict of low testosterone…

The following day I performed a life audit. It was clear that several things needed to change. I completely overhauled my nutrition, training and cut back drastically on drinking. 

So much so, that I gave up drinking for two years altogether (but that’s another story).

I added more vegetables, protein and good fats to my diet – such as olive oil and avocado – and tracked everything that went into my mouth.

And instead of training like a powerlifter, only concerned with how much weight I could lift, I focused on hypertrophy (i.e. building muscle) with higher reps and more volume.

I did a lot of research and it appeared that my anxiety, low confidence and excess body fat all had one thing in common – 

Imbalanced biochemistry.

In other words, my hormones (and probably a host of other biomarkers) were out of whack. I took a blood test and found out it was true...

It revealed I had the testosterone level of an 80 year old man!  I was basically running on empty.

It took more than a year of trial and error to figure out what worked in terms of diet and training, not only to support my fitness goals, but to get my hormones balanced again!

Low carb, no carb, high fat, low fat, booze, no booze, working out two days a week or five…

Trust me, I’ve done it all. 

I felt like a new man

The biggest challenge was figuring out how to balance it all with a demanding and stressful job that required me to work long hours.

While it was difficult figuring out what nutrition, training and lifestyle hacks worked, I’m glad I went through it. 

I battle tested pretty much every diet and training program out there. 

I worked relentlessly to improve my sleep, lower my stress, and essentially, declutter almost every aspect of my life.

Within a few months, I began to feel much more mental clarity. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had quite a bit of brain fog that meant I couldn’t focus. Which meant that my performance at work was mediocre at best.

I had been seeing a therapist for my anxiety. This did help to some extent, but I felt like it was always there in the background, like an elephant in the room. 

But once my body started to feel more balanced, the anxiety began to subside.

For months, my progress in the gym had trickled along at a snail’s pace and I had almost given up hope. Now, my strength went through the roof and I was gaining muscle once more.

The changes in my body composition made me feel much more confident about taking my shirt off. In fact, I even looked for situations where I could do it! 

My sex life, which had virtually dried up, now came roaring back into life and I enjoyed physical intimacy with my girlfriend again – something that was sorely lacking in my life. 

Today, over seven years later, I can say with hand on heart that I feel happy with my health, the way I look, and in particular, how I feel about myself. 

Below is a picture of how I look now most of the year: 

Now, I don’t show this picture to boast or to make you feel bad. It’s simply to show you what’s possible for you, too.

Final Thoughts

I didn't get this way due to good genetics (definitely don’t have those), drugs or anything else – it’s down to that foundational work I did all those years ago.  

So how did I get there?

Truth be told, it's a combination of multiple things:

  • Consistent training – I've not taken time off from the gym EVER
  • Prioritizing sleep – if you don't recover you don't grow, simples!
  • I took my diet seriously – before I used to half-ass my diet and it showed

However, if I could boil it down to one thing I’d say it was down to hormone optimization. 

You see, if you have no testosterone in your tank, you’re not going to get very far. And despite my best efforts, I was going nowhere, all because I had low testosterone.

My progress in the gym had ground to a halt – not because I had maxed out my genetic potential, but because I had zero testosterone to build muscle. 

The anxiety, low libido, and depression weren't personal issues, but were more a consequence of low testosterone. 

Ultimately, this led to me undergoing testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), which helped in many ways. But in hindsight, I realized it was a big, fat mistake.

The exuberance of youth perhaps?

I became a health optimization coach because I realize there's a TON you can do to raise your T levels naturally. Without ever resorting to testosterone. 

That's exactly what I teach my clients to do – through simple lifestyle changes. Click here if to find out more about my coaching and how I help men like you 10X their energy, get deep, restorative sleep and rekindle their love life!




Daniel Kelly bench press

120 Days to Fully Optimized? Yes Please

Over the past few years I’ve coached dozens of men through fatigue, low testosterone, broken sleep, brain fog, weight loss, muscle gain, and even helped one guy discover he had cancer before it could become life-threatening. 

So when it comes to optimizing men’s health, there aren’t many things I haven’t come across. Which is great news for you!

Recently, several guys have asked me what actually happens behind the scenes with my coaching.  

So I decided to share he process I use to take men who struggle to get out of bed in the morning, can’t think straight because of crippling brain fog, and can’t remember the last time they had morning wood to jumping of bed every day, razor sharp mental clarity and tearing their wife’s clothes off.

In the article I'm going to show you exactly how my 120 day Fully Optimized coaching system works. So are you ready to find out what it takes to get Fully Optimized?

“Why 120 days? Doesn’t it take YEARS to get results?”

When I say that I need 120 days to teach you everything you need to know, it often elicits skepticism. And I get it; in fact, that’s what many of my clients used to think.

Yet, they’re shocked to see how quickly they can lose weight (on average 5-7 lbs a month), while destroying limiting beliefs and crushing their workouts.

I help clients achieve mental and physical transformation in two key ways:

- The first is through constant feedback coaching that helps clients rapidly see results in all areas including nutrition, training and their lifestyle. 

- The second is through a comprehensive blood panel that tests over 80 different markers. This allows us to be surgically precise with any nutrition or lifestyle recommendations I make.

Here’s what happens the moment you become a client:

Day 1-14 Immediate results

First off, we’ll perform what I call an “optimization audit.” I’ll ask you to fill out a detailed lifestyle questionnaire so I have a good understanding of your medical history, supplementation and sleep patterns.

I’ll also ask you to keep a food log prior to our on-boarding call, which means I can identify the holes in your diet. This gives me a good idea of your current relationship with food, as well as what habits and behaviors we need to work on. From there, we can formulate a strategy to plug the gaps. 

For most people, diet is the biggest confusion. And at the same time, it’s the most important area of fitness and nutrition – accounting for up to 90% of the results.

Results vs excuses

If you only come away with one thing from my program, it should be a solid grasp of nutrition, and above all, how it relates to you. 

And here's where my approach differs from other coaches. You see, most trainers out there are focused on calorie-counting and workouts. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, these things can work. But in my experience, they still leave money on the table; because they don’t actually know what’s going on inside your body.

For example, doing blood work may help us identify you have an autoimmune thyroid condition (where the body attacks the thyroid gland), meaning we have to make very specific changes to your diet to minimize the condition. 

What’s more, I don’t want you to rely on me forever – I aim to teach my clients. That means instead of ordering you around like a drill sergeant, leaving you confused about what works, you’ll learn how to do it yourself.

Because let’s face it, the internet is a mind fuck when it comes to diet. Carbs or no carbs, broccoli or not, eggs or not, red meat or not, alcohol or no alcohol. The list goes on…

As a busy guy who’s already stressed from work and family matters, you have little time to figure this stuff out, let alone put it into practice! So how do I teach this to clients you ask?

Metabolic Flexibility

I teach nutrition to my clients using a concept known as ‘metabolic flexibility.’ 

Metabolic flexibility can be defined as allowing your body to utilize the best fuel source available (preferably from solid, whole foods) to fuel its energy demand. This is a concept Jay Campbell and I discuss in depth in our book, Living a Fully Optimized Life.

Understand, there is no such thing as the “best diet”, there are only foods that work for you. Period.  Blanket statements about paleo, keto, intermittent fasting or other such nonsense being the best diet don’t take into account your unique biochemistry.

For example, if you’re a busy entrepreneur who works until 10PM every night and you’re stressed out most of the time, then intermittent fasting is probably not the right choice for you. 

Fasting stresses the body (due to calorie restriction), therefore, adding more to someone who is already stressed will be detrimental to their health and performance. 

Metabolic flexibility means I provide clients with a framework within which they can eat, e.g. a specific macro target or certain types of foods based on their requirements, allergies, etc. 

That means if they can only eat two meals a day, we’ll make it work. Or let’s say they’ve had a stressful day at work and have no meals prepared (life happens), I teach them how to make good food choices even when options are limited. 

Essentially, I help them cut through all the confusion and bullshit out there. A good understanding of nutrition, and specifically how it relates to you, is the primary factor behind our success. Subsequently, clients tend to see results within the first few weeks of working together.

Day 14-30: Tweak and optimize

As part of our “optimization audit”, all Fully Optimized clients take a comprehensive blood panel that tests over 80 different health markers.

The main difference between the test I do and a normal lab test is that it has five “functional” ranges that distinguish between optimal and suboptimal. 

Functional blood test overview

This is the kind of detailed information you won’t get from your doctor.

A normal testosterone test

A typical lab report that gives you a reference range of 264-916 ng/dl, but doesn’t tell you anymore than that.

Functional testosterone range

The functional test that my clients take gives you a lot more clarity on your health.

A normal lab test lumps you into one reference range and tells you you’re “normal” – even when you feel anything but.  Testing your blood using a functional lab test is an amazing tool to know exactly what is going on at a cellular level. 

If we have that information, we can be much more specific when designing our nutrition plan. Now, we can still produce top notch bespoke plans without the panel, but it takes some trial and error to get things right.

Whereas testing cuts straight to the chase and shows us any particular health issues that may need support from the nutrition side of things, which we may not see without it.

Blood testing also means we can get people results much quicker because we know exactly what you need from day one.  We’ll continue to tune your nutrition as we go, so you’re able to do all the things you shouldn't’ and still progress…

A glass of wine after a hard day’s work? → Check

Pizza with the family? → Check

Isn’t this bad you ask? Not when you understand the power of Metabolic Flexibility and how to use it.

Day 30-60: Optimized Mindset

We’ll spend an entire month developing your mindset. Your mindset can be defined as your current set of assumptions, thought patterns and beliefs.

Your current thoughts and beliefs are what got you to where you are now. So, it stands to reason that if you want a better outcome, i.e. improved energy and vitality, increased libido, weight loss, etc, then you’ll need to modify many of your existing beliefs.

Staying in top notch shape year round has as much to do with your mindset as it does with how many calories you eat. I’ll show you how to make sure that you stick with your training and diet even when the bullets start flying. 

That means if you have to pull an all nighter at work, spend the weekend with your kids, or it’s your aunt's birthday, you can still have a piece of cake, drink a beer and enjoy yourself WITHOUT sabotaging your results.

And the way you achieve this is through an Optimized Mindset. This will give you an unprecedented level of freedom that will not only help you to make better food choices, but means you’ll always feel confident taking your shirt off, in bed, at the beach, at your-in-laws (OK maybe not..) or whatever.

Day 60-90: Optimized Evening Slumber

You know the feeling you get when you’re well rested and you wake up the next day feeling like a king? That’s what I aim to help my clients achieve every single day.

Many clients have long-standing sleep issues before they come to me, such as difficulty falling asleep (it shouldn’t take you longer than 10 minutes), waking up multiple times a night or feeling groggy in the morning. 

Often, they’ve spent thousands of dollars with “specialists” who can’t find anything wrong. Our bodies know exactly what’s best for us. 

My goal is to help you tap into this innate intelligence and balance your natural circadian rhythm, so that you no longer struggle to fall asleep, wake up every night or feel groggy when you get up each morning. 

We achieve this WITHOUT the need for medication and through sustainable lifestyle changes. 

Day 90-120: Stress less

Pretty much all my clients have one thing in common: A ton of stress. Often because they’re busy professional men who have to juggle their career and family responsibilities, which comes at the expense of their health.

I equip my clients with the tools they need to deal effectively with stress. This may involve teaching them how to meditate properly, journal or simply allocate more time for themselves each day. 

These are simply examples and they may or may not apply to you. This is an individual process, which is why we work together to figure out what’s best for you. 

That means whether you get into an argument over bonuses at work or with your spouse, you can handle it and it doesn’t derail your day, week or month. 

Daniel Kelly de-stressed

I am thoroughly de-stressed in this photo!

Roll with the punches

The framework of my Fully Optimized coaching system is extremely flexible. Which means while everyone has different needs, I’m still able to accommodate them, because the principles of proper nutrition, sleep, and stress management are universal to everyone –

The art form is knowing how to get them to work for you.  And because we’ve done all the heavy lifting upfront with the blood test and optimization audit, we know exactly how to do that for you. 

If you’ve been struggling with low energy, lack of libido and shitty sleep for some time, I imagine you’ve already done some investigation.

You’ve been told you’re “normal” or you’ve been told: “Here take these pills”, which you’re reluctant to do. 

I’m here to tell you that energy and vitality is your birthright and that your age or history don’t have to determine how you feel tomorrow.

Not with any gimmicks or hacks, mind you, but with real food, smart supplementation and subtle tweaks to your lifestyle. 

If any of this resonated with you, you can claim your free 30 minute Health Audit with me. On the call, I’ll share the results my clients have had, diagnose your issues a bit more, and get clear and certain on what it is that you’re stuck with.

Then, I can give you some feedback on how you can actually get to where you want to go.

And if you want to stay up to date with the best health optimization information anywhere on the web, join my Optimized Inner Circle newsletter

Lifting at the gym

4 Fundamental Principles of Resistance Training

These days, people make resistance training far more complicated than it is. They obsess over reps, sets and most of the time spend far too long in the gym.

As a result, the progress of the average trainee is mediocre, so they become frustrated and inconsistent with their training. And sometimes, they give it up altogether. 

But as long as you understand some of the most fundamental principles of resistance training, you will always make progress.

In this article we'll look at four of these principles and how you can apply them to your training. This article is an excerpt taken from a chapter in mine and Jay Campbell's book, Living a Fully Optimized Life.

Principle #1: Training is relative to your age and goals.

This one is very simple. If you’re older than 50, your body will not be able to withstand tissue trauma (from training) the same way a 20 year old can.

Yet so many older men train classic bodybuilding style, four to five days per week, not recognizing their bodies and recovery ability have changed.  

Your recovery is very much dependent on your age. By and large, younger trainees will recover faster than older ones.

If you are an older trainee, you won't to focus on training smart instead of busting your balls every time you go to the gym. I wrote an article on this subject: 16 Weight Training Tips For Men Over 50.

As an older trainee, you should also ensure your cardiovascular efficiency (CE) and heart rate variability (HRV) are consistently being measured over time.

Daniel Kelly weight training

Principle #2:  You MUST maximally contract your muscle fibers while simultaneously removing ego and momentum from every aspect of your training.

This is arguably the most important principle out of the three, so pay close attention!If there is only one thing you take away from this book and apply to your training, let it be this principle

In your pursuit of an amazing physique, what others do in the gym is MEANINGLESS.  Removing EGO from your training will massively benefit you as you age.  You’ll also avoid injury from lifting too much weight to keep up with the Jones’ in the gym.

Never forget: The only REAL reason you should go to a gym is to grow muscle and look better naked.  And, if you don’t know how to properly contract muscle fibers while also training to positive muscular failure (PMF), you’re wasting your time.

Why? 

Because you’ll never grow muscle and look the same as 90% of the people who go to gyms for 30-40 years and never change the way they look . I can’t be more serious... 

If you don’t know how to maximally contract your muscle fibers by blasting the targeted muscle to complete and total exhaustion, you will NEVER BUILD MUSCLE and ultimately change your physique.

Blasting a muscle to total and complete exhaustion is what we call “positive muscular failure” (PMF).  Better defined, PMF is training a muscle or body part to a point where you cannot lift another rep without help from a spotter or some form of machine assistance.

If anything, training to positive muscle failure teaches you the training intensity required to get real results. We can talk about the best workout program all day long. But the truth is that most people simply do not train hard enough to see results in the gym.

They live a life of comfort, devoid of pain. They have no concept of the brutal intensity and focus necessary to build muscle.

Another thing people tend to overlook when they learn how to contract their muscle fibers is “time under tension” (TUT). TUT is defined as the amount of time under which your muscles are maximally contracting. 

Increased TT adds to the overall volume (work performed) of the workout, ultimately leading to greater training adaptations and results.  Logically speaking, then, wouldn’t you want your muscles to be under as much tension for as long as it took to fully fatigue them?

Of course you would. But most people have no idea what no idea what time under tension is, let alone think about applying it in their training.

Rather than take the time to brutally contract their muscle fibers, they rush through every rep and set in the hope of being able to lift heavier weight through the force of momentum.

The greatest enemy to your progress in the gym is allowing momentum to dictate the flow and speed of your intended muscular contractions.

Think of it this way: If you do not maximally recruit muscle fibers, you are not working the muscle to its fullest extent.  In other words, you are not developing your physique to its maximum capacity. 

And this is precisely what happens when you train with ego and use momentum to jerk the weight around.

One interesting study, “Does Tempo of Resistance Exercise Impact Training Volume”, examined how merely changing the “rhythm” or tempo of each rep (i.e. fast, medium, slow) dramatically impacted how many reps subjects were able to perform, AND the total time spent under tension:

“The results of the study indicated that even a small (few seconds) modification in terms of tempo or cadence of particular movement phases can impact maximal number of performed repetitions, time under tension and, importantly, exercise volume in a set and in the whole training session. 

Movement tempo impacts training volume and, consequently, the level of post-exercise fatigue and adaptation patterns”

Long story short:

Maximal muscle fiber contraction via perfectly controlled reps executed with perfect technique is the secret to building a physique worthy of showing off. 

If you learn how to consistently train in this fashion, you can train the targeted muscle for two sets to complete and total exhaustion. That’s right: When you know what you’re doing, two sets is all you need.

What about novice trainees, though? A novice trainee has minimal neurological efficiency (i.e nervous system adaptation) and minimal muscle mass. By neurological efficiency, we refer to a fully functional central nervous system which has adapted to intense training over time. 

The best way to picture or understand this is when you see a young lifter violently shaking to execute a rep or specific training technique.

Lifting at the gym

If you are a newbie, you must train for at least a year to reach a point where you’ve built an appreciable level of muscle mass and neuromuscular efficiency.

Once a minimum of neuromuscular efficiency is achieved, there’s never a reason to stay in the gym for too long because you already understand how to stimulate maximum fiber recruitment and force production. 

If you follow the instructions in this book, you will be training intensely and maximally contracting your muscle fibers. 

Due to training in this manner, you will have a limited amount of natural growth hormone and muscle glycogen at your disposal to get you through more than 45 minutes (if training alone).

That means no more marathon workouts. They are unnecessary and counterproductive.

If you are truly serious about building a world-class physique and mastering your training, everything we’ve just told you won’t be enough. There are no shortcuts to success. You will need to consistently apply these principles for YEARS, and often decades.

Due to the influence of social media and living in an instant gratification world, many are deluded and believe they can acquire their dream physique in 12 weeks. These expectations are not grounded in reality. 

Philosopher Manly Hall said it best: 

“An unhealthy mind, even in a healthy body, will ultimately destroy health."

In addition, watching training videos online will not get you the body of your dreams. At some point you must get out there and train. Hone and master your craft. Learn from guys who are more experienced than you and work on refining your technique. 

There's a rhythm to all of this, and learning how to train with weights properly is a lot like learning how to dance.  (As an interesting aside, learning how to dance, or playing sports for that matter, is a great way to develop neurological coordination)

For your physique to work as a fully functional unit, you must be neurologically coordinated. The easiest way to summarize all we’ve just said is that you have to seek out a master and learn at their feet. 

Even if it's for a week, or a few days, it is an absolute must. Indeed, I can attest to this. I spent significant time in the past training with Jay Campbell, which dramatically improved his knowledge and shortened his learning curve with regard to training.

Jay himself learned from masters (i.e. pro bodybuilders) like Jim Brown and Markus Reinhardt.

Incidentally, I am a huge fan of Jim Brown's (another mentor of mine) Forged training program. If you're looking to learn how to brutally contract your muscle fibers and train to positive muscle failure, then Forged will show you how. I wrote an article about my experience training the Forged way here

Principle #3: You MUST engage in regular resistance training to build skeletal muscle mass.

Muscle is the single greatest deterrent to the diseases of aging.  Sadly, 95% of people who go to the gym have absolutely no idea how to build muscle. 

They have no real awareness of why they are there to begin with, because they are so focused on following an exact amount of sets and reps for a specific set of exercises. 

Muscle is a lot more than a storage depot for glycogen and an enhancer of bodily aesthetics.

Look at all the amazing things skeletal muscle mass does:

  • Increases insulin sensitivity via lowering blood sugar
  • Anti-inflammatory, strengthening your immune system
  • Significantly improves your odds of survival for dangerous surgeries 
  • Protects against sarcopenia, i.e. muscle wasting that comes with old age
  • Gives you a greater chance of survival against accidents
  • Protects against osteopenia (bone loss) by improving bone mineral density

You must lift weights if you want to live long and prosper. In the same way being lean is essential for far more than vanity, building muscle does far more for your health outside of looking good in the mirror...

Building muscle helps you live a fully optimized life that allows you to age gracefully, while keeping your mind and your body dialed in. It’s important to understand that people who become frail as they get older don’t do so because of age. 

It's because they haven't looked after their body by performing resistance training to maintain muscle mass and bone mineral density (BMD), both of which confer protection against age-related disease. 

Principle #4: You MUST Do Cardiovascular Exercise

Regardless whether you are hormonally optimized or not, you cannot afford to skip cardiovascular training. This is essential for training your organs to process and breakdown the food you eat. 

Regular and consistent cardiovascular training will also help scavenge free radicals found in your body that lead to inflammation and age-related disease. 

Cardiovascular training allows your body to effectively dispose of waste products that build up in your body and metabolize the nutrients you consume. 

Some people process food and macronutrients differently, but regardless of your unique biochemistry, your metabolism will change and slow down as you age. 

By performing regular cardiovascular training, you can offset - to a great degree - the slowdown in metabolism that comes from aging. Cardiovascular training becomes doubly important if you are on injectable therapeutic testosterone. 

As discussed in mine and Jay Campbell's books, injectable testosterone is heavily oxygenated.  Subsequently, your blood often becomes thicker (via a process called erythrocytosis), sometimes resulting in higher hemoglobin and higher hematocrit levels. 

This is a common occurrence, although contrary to what physicians used to believe, therapeutic phlebotomy is not required in most cases.  

The reason why cardio training is so important when you’re on injectable testosterone is because it helps push out the thicker blood and the metabolic and cellular waste produced by training with weights at high intensity. 

If you don’t perform regular cardio training, you’ll likely find yourself feeling winded and tired more often. 

Despite what the bros say on the Internet, weight training alone is NOT a sufficient form of cardiovascular training. So make sure you’re doing cardio on a regular basis! 

Final Thoughts

Your training must be designed relative to your age and goals. Older trainees will not recover at the same rate as younger trainees do from resistance training and cardio.

Learning how to maximally contract your muscle fibers while removing ego and momentum from your training is CRITICAL to forging an amazing physique. As you age, it is also imperative you understand how to manipulate time under tension (TUT).

If you are uncoordinated, unathletic, or devoid of any sport background, it is IMPERATIVE you hire a master teacher to coach you on how to utilize proper form and technique when training with weights. Watching videos on the Internet won’t cut it.

Your primary goal as you age is building muscle to resist the diseases of aging. The more muscle you possess, the better your insulin sensitivity, mitochondrial function, and an improved basal metabolic rate (BMR) while at rest.

Cardiovascular training allows your body to effectively dispose of waste products that build up in your body and metabolize the nutrients you consume. It becomes doubly important if you are on injectable therapeutic testosterone. 

If you enjoyed this chapter excerpt from mine and Jay Campbell's book, Living a Fully Optimized Life, you can get your copy here. 

Deadlift

5 Things Nobody Told You About Weight Training

Most people who go to the gym simply have no idea what they’re doing. They are half-hearted in their efforts, and they train aimlessly without any real purpose.

I think the main reason this happens is due to lack of education. 

They’ve never taken the time to truly understand weight training and how to actually get results from their time in the gym.

In truth, long-term success in the health and fitness game comes from sticking to tried and tested principles. Now, in over a decade of training consistently, I can tell you that there’s a lot more to it than this article.

However, what I’m going to share with you are five principles that are going to stand you in good stead. And if you apply what you learn here, you will be way ahead of 99% of people who train.

1. Focus on muscle fiber contractions

When you go to the average gym and take a look around, most guys are focused entirely on moving weights from A to B.

This is fine if you want to be a powerlifter and simply get numbers on the bar. However, if you want to build quality muscle mass you need to focus on muscle contractions.

Muscle contraction means squeezing the muscle in every exercise.

For example, at the bottom portion of a lat pulldown, you would pause and really aim to squeeze your lats. As opposed to mindlessly lifting the weight up and down as most do.

In addition to squeezing at the top of every contraction, you want to slow down the eccentric (negative) portion of the lift. This is the lowering part of the lift.

Aim to lower the weight for 2-3 seconds on every lift and watch the difference it makes to your physique. Indeed, research shows that the negative part of the lift is the one that leads to the most gains.

Jay Campbell and I elaborate much further on this topic in our new book: Living a Fully Optimized Life.

Living a Fully Optimized Life

2. You need to build a strength base

Another thing that came up in our conversation was the importance of building a base.

That means building a solid foundation of strength. In the beginning, the best way to do this is through big compound movements like squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, bench press, military press and bent over rows.

These movements serve a few purposes. They help you develop neuromuscular co-ordination – which is key to the mind-muscle connection. They also give you the best bang for your buck and help you pack on plenty of size and strength.

Rookie trainees have no business doing isolation exercises, or should at least do them in small doses.

Don’t go chasing numbers that you read about on the Internet. Your strength is relative to your own bodyweight.

But in terms of simple numbers, the following numbers a good benchmark for building a strength base:

– 1.5 x bodyweight squat
– 2 x bodyweight deadlift
– 1 x bodyweight bench press
– 0.75 x bodyweight military press

Now, do you have to achieve all these? Not necessarily. It may hurt your knees or back to squat, and if this is the case you should follow the tried and tested maxim:

If it hurts, don’t do it. 

However, where possible you should aim to at least achieve these numbers in three areas.

Hitting these numbers will give you a solid strength foundation that you can take into a muscle building phase. The ability to lift more weight for a greater number of repetitions is ultimately going to translate to improved muscularity. 

It might take a while to build this base. But it’s worth it and will dramatically improve your body composition.

Daniel Kelly Bench Press

3. Machines are your friend

I used to scorn machines thinking they were for pussies and free weights were for the ‘real men.’ That was until one day I had a lightbulb moment after watching a video of a professional bodybuilder.

He said that you would be laughed out of the gym if you told him machines were for pussies.

My original training philosophy was simple:

Lift free weights, do compound exercises and you’re guaranteed a great physique!  In reality, building a physique to be proud of takes a lot more thought.

Machines allow you to maintain constant time under tension.

For example, when you do regular chest flys, the tension is removed at the top of the movement. Whereas machine flys keep your pecs under constant tension throughout the range of motion.

Ultimately, more time under tension results in more overall volume and workload, leading to greater adaptations. 

Machines allow you to target muscles from multiple angles. As a result, you can develop your muscles in a way that is simply not possible with free weights.

What’s more, and this is often overlooked, they are also kind on your joints and reduce the possibility of injury. This is especially true if you’re a man in his 40s or 50s.

Machines are extremely safe and dramatically lower the risk of injury. This is huge. How many people do you know who get injured using free weights? Many I suspect, but by comparison, relatively few injure themselves with machines.

Now this not necessarily an argument to say one form is better than the other. It’s simply to point out there are benefits of using both machines and free weights in your routine.

4. You can’t out train a bad diet

This one had stood the test of time:

You can’t out train a bad diet.

If you want maximum results in the gym, it’s in your best interests to eat like it. Indeed, I would go as far to say that nutrition is up to 80% of the game. 

The food you put in your body determines your energy levels, your performance in the gym and the way you look. 

I used to think I could train my balls off and get great results. I did get stronger and bigger. But in all honesty, I didn’t look all that good – I looked soft. 

One day I looked in the mirror and decided that I wanted more from all my hard work and effort. Why train balls to the wall only to look OK?

I knew I had to take my nutrition seriously. Ever since then, my results in the gym have taken off. 

You can train all you want, but if you don’t have the diet to support it, you’re leaving money on the table.

Why waste your precious time and energy?

Healthy meal

5. Most guys who juice have it the wrong way around

In my book, Optimized Under 35, I have an entire chapter on anabolic steroid abuse in men.

Suffice to say, it’s full-blown epidemic, and yet hardly anyone recognizes it.

Men are taking steroids in their droves; often in massive quantities. All in the pursuit of muscle gain. But this comes at an extraordinary cost to their health.

However, many of them don’t seem to care.

I don’t know exactly what convinces men that they need to resort to gear to make progress in the gym. I suspect it’s a combination of social media and misguided expectations.

But truth be told, with a solid work ethic, proper nutrition and a testosterone-friendly lifestyle, you can build a QUALITY physique.

Totally natural. No gear required.

If you’re an older trainee, testosterone replacement therapy may be necessary to restore your hormones to an optimal level. But even then, most men would do well simply to improve their nutrition and lifestyle habits.

This is what my 1-on-1 coaching specializes in. 

Anabolic steroids aren’t going somehow shortcut their success, despite what the bros say on the Internet. If you don’t already have the proper foundation of work ethic, nutrition and lifestyle in place, taking steroids will do nothing for you.

3-pillars-of-fitness-and-nutrition

3 Pillars of Fitness & Nutrition For Optimal Body Composition

It SUCKS when you put so much effort into a calorie-restricted diet, training multiple days a week, and educating yourself.

But in the end, you only lose a pound of two, then pile the weight back because the diet was completely unsustainable and made you miserable. 

For the lucky guys out there, fitness and nutrition is a piece of cake (pardon the pun). Hell, they don’t even need to diet – they seem to be able to eat anything they want and stay lean.


That was never the case for me. I was not blessed with ‘top tier’ genetics, and if you’re reading this I suspect this may be the case for you, too. All the changes I’ve ever made to my fitness have been earned through good old-fashioned hard work.

For the majority of men, many traditional weight loss strategies simply don’t work:

  • Crash-diets
  • Cutting entire food groups out (i.e. bread, dairy, etc.)
  • Training multiple days a week in an attempt to lose weight quickly
  • Buying tons of supplements

You feel miserable because you’re trying to starve yourself into submission. You end up binge eating because you’re hungry all the time. Then you beat yourself up due to your inability to lose weight, despite trying your hardest. It’s a vicious cycle and doomed from the start. 

The Problem With Calorie Counting and Restrictive Diets



Massively restricting your calories might seem like a good way to lose body fat. After all, eat less calories you’ll burn fat right Wrong.  If anything, you don’t eat enough. This is especially true if you train hard. Don’t forget, nutrition is vital for recovery!

This is a huge mistake that so many guys make. 

The biggest problem with slashing your calorie intake is this. When you lower your calories too much you create monstrous cravings, which you can only stave off for so long.  Guess what happens next. BINGING!

The cravings become insatiable too, so you resort to binging just to feel normal again, because you’re sick of feeling tired and depressed all the time. The transient high from the junk food gives you your dopamine fix. However, the processed foods lead to an insulin surge, which crashes your blood sugar and leads to an inevitable energy slump. So you binge once again to feel good. 


It’s possible to gain 2 to 3 pounds of fat from just one day of binge eating. Dramatic crash-diets may help you lose weight in the short-term. But in the end, you always put the weight back on

All of these things are common in men trying to lose weight, but they’re not the right way to go about fighting that stubborn fat.

The Internet can be confusing place and it’s hard to know what to believe with so many conflicting opinions. In a moment, I’ll share with you my three pillars of fitness & nutrition that will help you cut through the confusion. They will finally help you lose that stubborn body fat, drop weight, and get into the shape of your life.

Now, my methods might a bit different. But I promise you, they’re backed by science. It’s just that they don’t make the mainstream as they’re not designed to make you part with any cash. And best of all, they can all be done completely FREE. Plus, you can take action on them as soon as you finish reading this article.

1. Eat Plenty of Protein

In my experience, men who try to lose weight and get their dream body don’t eat anywhere near enough protein. As a general rule, you want to eat 1g of protein per pound of lean body mass.

For example, let’s say you weigh 230 lbs at roughly 25% body fat. From here, you subtract your body fat percentage, i.e. 25% (34lbs) from your total weight – 230lbs (230-34). So this gives you a lean body mass of around 196lbs. The aim to get this amount of protein in every day. Although, I would aim to overshoot it a little, say 200-210g of daily protein, to ensure you hit it. 

The is because not all proteins are made equal. 

NOTE: If you’ve never measured your body fat before, I recommend getting a DEXA scan or bod pod done. These are the most reliable and accurate ways to measure it.

It’s easy to lie to yourself about how you look in the mirror, but it’s not strictly necessary. You can get a good idea if you compare your body with the pictures below. 

male body fat

Your body requires protein to build and repair tissue. It’s the building block of bones, muscle, skin and blood. It also helps boost your metabolism, lower your appetite and activate key weight-regulating hormones.

Therefore, its importance in the context of losing weight and gaining muscle cannot be understated. Science backs this up. One randomized controlled study compared the effect of a high protein diet versus a standard protein diet on 105 adults with an average age of 47. [1]

Participants underwent a calorie-restricted diet of 500 cals under maintenance, and had a protein intake of either 1.34g/kg bodyweight or 0.8g/kg bodyweight for 6 months. Participants in the high protein group lost significantly more weight than those in the standard protein group.


2. Resistance Training

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of resistance training to your fat loss and physique goals. I say ‘resistance training,’ because ultimately you can build a muscular physique whether you lift weights or only use your bodyweight. Muscle has a higher metabolic rate than fat, so having more muscle increases your resting metabolic rate (energy expenditure) compared to having more body fat. 

Effectively, this means you burn more calories at rest. Sounds like a good deal to me. Not convinced? Take a look at the dramatic different in physique between endurance runners and sprinters. I know who I’d rather look like…

runner vs sprinter

Now, you may be thinking, “I don’t want to look like sprinter or a bodybuilder!!” Look. if simply lifting weights made you look like this, everyone would look like a bodybuilder. The fact is, most guys who go to the gym DO NOT look like this. So clearly, there’s a more to it.  

The bottom line is this:

Better fitness = a better life. And more muscle mass will make you look and feel better, and burn more calories at rest. Nevertheless, there is one point I want to stress. When you lift weights you must train with INTENSITY. That means you need to have a plan when you go to the gym and execute it. 

Most people simply go through the motions when they go to the gym. They make up their workout on the spot, drift aimlessly from one exercise to the next, and train with the same intensity as a slug in a puddle. Then they wonder why they don’t lose weight and look the same year after year. 

Another point to note here is that you can have the best training program in the world. However, if you don’t have the right nutrition to support your goals, you will be spinning your wheels. Indeed, I say to my clients that nutrition is 90% of the game. Understand that your efforts in the gym will be wasted until you make your nutrition a priority. 


3. Hormonal Balance


Hormones are the backbone of your health. As a man, testosterone is the most important of all. Testosterone supports muscle mass, fat loss, cognition, libido and well-being. In addition, it contributes to proper immune system and cardiovascular health.

testosterone male body
In contrast, low testosterone leads to a number of debilitating symptoms, including brain fog, increased fat gain, low energy and low libido.

The mental fog and depression from low testosterone alone is crushing. But equally as important is that low testosterone will wreck your results in the gym. As mentioned, testosterone supports lean muscle mass and fat loss. Subsequently, if you have low testosterone, much of your effort in the gym will be in vain. 

I discovered this for myself a few years ago. I was training hard in the gym. In fact, I was squatting and deadlifting up to three times a week! But I never got any results. That was until I took a blood test; only to find out I had the testosterone level of an 80 YEAR OLD MAN! No wonder I wasn’t getting any results from my blood, sweat and tears in the gym…

Ultimately, this involved getting further blood tests and undergoing testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). But you don’t necessarily need to go on TRT to boost testosterone.

Indeed, I recommend that most men invest their time improving their lifestyle and nutrition to improve their hormonal profile. As opposed to looking at TRT as some kind of quick fix. Nonetheless, there is a chance you could have low testosterone, and not even realize it – as was the case with me. 

If you’re overweight, your chances are even higher. Excess estrogen from high levels of body fat (adipose tissue) results in the degeneration of testicular tissue, which lowers testosterone production. The subsequent low testosterone leads to loss of lean muscle mass. This makes it harder to exercise and saps your motivation! 

It’s like a double whammy to your testosterone. No wonder you feel drained and don’t want to get off the couch!

One study of over 1500 American men aged 45 – 79 years measured testosterone levels from 1987-2004. The researchers found that on average, testosterone levels declined by 1% a year. This means that testosterone levels have by 20% over the past few decades. [2] This has dramatic ramifications for men’s health and society as a whole. 

This study was a few years ago now. We can only imagine how low men’s testosterone levels are now…And I’ve elaborated on this in detail in my book, Optimized Under 35. Suffice to say, the combination of toxic endocrine disrupting chemicals in our environment, combined with poor dietary habits have created the perfect storm for hormonal imbalance.

So what leads to low testosteroneThere are many things that lead to low testosterone. In addition to the aspects mentioned above, sleep deprivation and chronic stress also have a major influence. Indeed, modern life is characterized by lack of sleep and stress.

Nowadays, most people don’t sleep anywhere near enough. Chronic sleep deprivation is associated with low testosterone and obesity.  If you can improve your sleep quality, you can dramatically boost your testosterone and drop fat in the process! No supplement on earth can match a good night’s sleep!

Once I started using these simple, but massively overlooked methods with my own life, the results were staggering. When I suffered with low testosterone, I felt like a shadow of a man. I was anxious, depressed, had low self-esteem and constantly battled with low energy. But after undergoing testosterone replacement therapy, I felt like I had finally gotten my life back.

I felt stronger and more energetic. My efforts in the gym were finally rewarded, and I gained over 10 lbs of lean muscle mass within a year! Which goes to show what happens when your hormones are balanced. And not only was my sex drive vastly improved, but I felt much more confident and driven to succeed. Talk about a turn around! 

Final Thoughts

It’s sad that so many men give up on their health & fitness goals because they conclude that dieting doesn’t work. Or they slave away for hours on end at the gym. Only to get no results from it. This is both demoralizing and would be enough to dishearten anyway. Nevertheless, I hope that after reading this article you understand that to achieve your fitness goals, you need to have the right approach. That is, you need to incorporate these fundamental pillars of fitness & nutrition.

One takeaway I want you to get from this article is this.

Leading an enjoyable life and being in supreme physical condition are not mutually exclusive. Yet so many people believe this dogma. They think that being in shape requires living an extreme monk-like lifestyle.

That means you can’t go out to eat with friends, go to barbecues, have a casual drink with your partner, or celebrate birthdays. Sounds like a boring life. The whole purpose of living a healthy lifestyle is to lead a high quality life – it shouldn’t detract from your life.

If this is the case, you’re doing it wrong. 

By following these pillars of fitness & nutrition that I’ve laid out in this article, you will see dramatic results. This alone should give you enough to get going. But if you feel like you need something more personalized to you, you can find out more about my online coaching below:

deadlift

16 Weight Training Tips for Men Over 50

deadlift

16 Weight Training Tips for Men Over 50

Want to know how to start working out in your 50s but don't know where to start? Don't worry, I've got your back!

Men of all ages are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of lifting weights. However, it seems that many men in their 50s didn't get the memo...

It’s almost as if men in their 50s think, “OK, I’ll stop looking after myself now!” Or perhaps it's because they think they're 'past it.'

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. I know many men in their 50s and older who routinely defy age, and have better physiques than men half their age.

Just because other men your age are overweight, tired and have no sex drive doesn't mean you have to be the same way.

As long as you look after your mind and body, you can remain energetic and vigorous for most of your life, and lifting weights is key to this. 

In this article, I share 16 weight training tips for men over 50, and show you why age is in the eye of the beholder.

#1 Aim for brief and intense workouts

If you’re older than 50, your body will not be able to withstand tissue trauma (from training) the same way a 20 year old can.

Yet so many older men train classic bodybuilding style, four to five days per week, not recognizing their bodies and recovery ability have changed.  

The majority of guys who spend hours in the gym get nowhere anyway. They believe that the amount of time they spend in the gym is directly proportionate to their results.

Not so. 

As a man in his 50s, you’ve probably got a family and a bunch of responsibilities. Therefore, you don’t have the luxury of spending hours in the gym/

You’ve been around long enough to know that one life’s maxims is quality over quantity. And this applies as much to weight training as it does to anything else.

For men lifting weights over 50 years old, brief but intense training sessions 2-3 times a week are more than enough. Some guys can handle 4 sessions. But more than that is excessive as it starts to cut into your recovery ability.

Don't drink the koolaid

HIT-style training, i.e. training to positive muscle failure – is ideal for men over 50. This combines both brevity and intensity.

If you’re never trained HIT style before, it will wipe the floor with you. You’ll be begging for momma and reciting multiple Hail Mary’s.

But once you become accustomed to training with that kind of intensity, you’ll likely never look back.

I recommend you check out PD Mangan’s One-Hour Fitness program for an excellent primer on HIT training (use the  discount code: KELLY for a 50% discount at checkout).

Incidentally, here’s a picture of PD Mangan deadlifting - 

He's a pretty jacked for a guy in his 60s – so clearly he knows a thing or two.

pd mangan training over 50

#2 Injury avoidance is your #1 PRIORITY

Forget about building muscle or anything else, injury avoidance is #1 PRIORITY in the gym.

NEVER do an exercise that hurts. If it does, stop immediately and find an alternative exercise. This may be due to the angle you’re working the muscle at, poor posture, or simply poor form (I’ll cover these issues more later).

Whatever it is, don’t do that exercise until you figure out what the issue is.

Getting a muscle strain or tear may mean a few weeks out of the gym in your 20s, but if you're in your 50s, that could mean MONTHS out of the gym.

A few years back I traveled to China and stayed there for several months. At my local gym, I met an American guy in his 50s who had been training for years.

He seemed to know what he was doing and had a fantastic physique for a man of his age. One day, however, I saw him hobbling around the gym. I asked him what happened. With a sad look on his face, he confided that he broke his own rules and used too much weight on a machine and strained his calf muscle.

The result? His calf ballooned and it looked like someone went at it with a baseball bat. He couldn’t train his leg properly for several months. I’m sure he learned his lesson in the end.

As Benjamin Franklin famously said, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

#3 Machines are your best friend

 Many men in their 50s earned their stripes lifting weights the old school way. That means using predominantly free weights and training balls wall.

They may even say something like, “Machines are for weaklings!!”

So when you suggest to these men using machines might be a good thing for them, they’re almost offended. To them, machines conjure up images of guys dressed in cheesy sport attire and long socks.

weight lifting for men over 50

I don’t care what people say – machines are your best friend. In fact, I feel the majority of workouts for men over 50 should include machines.

Not only do machines prevent injury, but they minimize wear and tear on your joints. And as a trainee in his 50s, joint wear and tear is a BIG DEAL.

Many men in their 50s come to me and complain about joints that ache. If you want to prevent this scenario, and avoid aggravating any existing conditions – use machines.

Honestly, it’s hard to fuck things up or get an injury using a machine. And you’re not sure which machines to use, I recommend finding a gym that uses Hammer Strength. In my opinion, it’s some of the best equipment out there.

Nothing else comes close.

#4 Use higher rep ranges

Ideally, workouts for men over 50 should mainly involve using higher rep ranges.

That means anywhere from 8-20 reps. Why you ask? Higher rep ranges mean less load and less strain on your joints and central nervous system.

Research indicates that moderate loads of 8-12 beneficial for hypertrophy (i.e. muscle gain). Where 15+ reps are ideal for developing muscle endurance.

Lower rep ranges may better in terms of pure strength training. But as a man in your 50s, the potential for injury and stress placed on your entire body is simply not worth the trade off.

Does that mean you’ll bench less? Maybe. But you’ll sure as hell look and feel better than 99% of men your age. What's more, you'll avoid many of the common shoulder problems and surgical procedures men in their 50s suffer with.

#5 Warm-up properly

In your 20s and 30s, you can get away with doing a single warm up set then jumping right into your workout. But in your 50s, you need to take your warm-ups seriously.

First off, warming up increases your overall body temperature. This will reduce the possibility of getting an injury. Warming up also increases muscle temperature. This means you can tap into the full potential of your muscle fibers. Otherwise you're only reaching half of your potential.

A proper warm up also ensures the proper release of hormones vital to a successful workout such as growth hormone, testosterone and insulin. These hormones play a key part in both your performance during your workout and the adaptation phase after.

Get on the treadmill or bike and get the blood flowing for 10-15 minutes before your workout. Ensure you warm-up adequately (i.e 2-3 sets) for every exercise.

#6 Do regular stretching and mobility drills

The axiom as you get older is: “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”

This applies not only to muscle mass, but to flexibility as well. When you’re younger, your body has a natural elasticity. But as you grow older, you must make a conscious effort to remain flexible.

man stretching

You should aim to stretch at least 2-3 times a week for 5 minutes at a time. You could also try some form of Yoga or Pilates.

Regular stretching will get rid of many of the aches and pains that creep up over time. I also highly recommend you spend some time foam rolling. This will help loosen up many of your muscles, in particular the side of your leg and your lower back.

But be warned:

The first time you foam roll won’t be a pleasant experience.

#7 Use correct form

This goes without saying and applies to guys of all ages. Although I’ve seen many guys in their 50s load up the weights and perform exercises with terrible form.

Then they wonder why they need knee straps and their joints hurt. It’s not because of old age, it’s because they’re stupid when they train.

Use proper form on every exercise.

Even if you’re a seasoned trainee, you can sometimes let your ego get the better of you. And that one time decide to push it and use too much weight?

But there’s more to it than simply being a form nazi. Using proper form means you target your muscles effectively and maximize your workouts.

For example, let’s say you don’t use proper on the squat, and you don’t squat to parallel. Doing it this way means you don’t the benefits and the muscle fibre contractions you get from a full squat.

In short, you’re leaving money on the table.

#8 You cannot afford to skip workouts

You can get away with it in your 20s and 30s, but this stuff really starts to compound as you get older.

The work you put in now will directly affect your quality of life in your later years. That means remaining disease-free and ultimately staying out of a care home.

I’m sure you never dreamt about being in a vegetative state or forgetting your own name in the latter half of your life. But that’s exactly what will happen unless you put in the work now.

You must see your workouts as non-negotiable – as if your life depended on it. Because actually, it does.

#9 Utilize time under time tension

Because you’re using less weight and overall volume, you should increase your time under tension. This means slowing down your reps and focusing on quality muscle contractions.

This is especially important as you’ll be user higher rep ranges.

Focus on slowing down the cadence of your lifts. Spend 1-2 seconds lifting the weight and 3-4 seconds lowering it. Research suggests that the negative or lowering portion actually produces more force.

Slowing each repetition down places more tension on your muscle fibers; ultimately leading to greater contractions and more gains.

#10 Supplement diligently

In terms of supplements, I usually find most people are on one end of the spectrum or the other. They are either anti-supplements, because they think they can get everything through their diet. Or, they spend massive amounts on supplements

However, the truth lies somewhere in between. The food we eat today is treated with numerous chemicals in an attempt to extend its shelf-life.

As a result, it’s often deficient in vital micronutrients (e.g. Zinc, vitamin C, magnesium, etc.).

To make up the shortfall in micronutrients in today’s world, it's vital to supplement.

supplements

On the other hand, many people have a fixation on supplements, seeing them as some kind of magic bullet. But if your diet is crap, then it doesn’t matter how many supplements you take.

Supplements done the right way can not only boost your workouts, but can help with recovery, sleep and cognition. And if you’re weight training at 50, you need every advantage you can get.

#11 Optimize your testosterone levels

According to research, testosterone levels decline with age as much as 0.4-2% each year. So by the time you’re 50 years old, your testosterone levels could have declined by as much as 30%.

But given the fact our environment is so toxic, I suspect in practice this decline could be even greater.

Testosterone improves cognition, libido, muscle mass, bone density and heart health among other things. What's more, if you struggle with low testosterone then you will be spinning your wheels in the gym.

No matter how hard or how often you train, you will fail to gain strength or appreciable muscle mass.

Therefore, it’s in your best interests to ensure your testosterone levels are optimal.

I write about this in my upcoming book, Optimized Under 35. Though if you’re a man of any age, you will get something out of that book.

In this day and age, you simply cannot afford to overlook this aspect of your health. Testosterone is every man’s life blood.

 If you’re a man over 50 and you eat well, train hard, and generally look after your body,  testosterone replacement therapy may be a good choice for you.

It restores your hormone profile to that of a young man, but you have the experience and decision-making of an older man.

However, that doesn't necessarily mean that you need TRT, which means you're on a lifelong medication and all the costs and management associated with it.

Most men will go far simply by optimizing their diet and lifestyle alone.

If you truly care about optimizing your hormonal profile and finding on what's going on inside your body, I recommend you take a blood test. 

If you're on a budget, I recommend you use Discounted Labs. Alternatively, if you're looking for something in-depth, you can contact me about the functional blood testing that I offer for my coaching clients.

One of my clients in his 50s discovered he had stage 2A rectal cancer after doing a blood test with me. Truth be told, a normal lab test isn't going to cut it if you want an accurate picture of your health.

#12 Find a Routine and Stick with It

In my experience, this is one thing that holds people back most when trying to make progress in the gym:

Constantly changing routines. I wrote about this in my article 18 Ways to Get Stronger in 2019. Suffice to say, many people get “shiny object syndrome” and go from workout to the next.

Progressive overload is one of the basic tenets of building muscle and improving your body composition. Therefore, if you change workout every week, you won’t get the kind of progression required to get results.

Another reason guys jump from one routine to another is simply because they don’t know what to do. If you’re not experienced in the gym, or you’ve been out of the game for a while, it can be overwhelming.

That’s why I came up with my 28 Day Transformation Program. Your diet, training routine and supplementation routine are all laid out in plain English, so you don’t have to think about it.

All you need to do is show up and do the work. Obviously, I can’t help you with that part – but if you do follow the program, I promise you’ll get results. Want proof? Check out Chris’ results below.

28 Day Transformation Program Chris

#13 View training as part of your anti-aging strategy

There are no two ways about it. Your level of fitness determines your quality of life. But not only that, your level of fitness is correlated with how long you’ll live.

According to research, people with a low level of fitness have a 70% higher death rate than those with higher fitness levels.

That’s staggering.

In his excellent Anti-Aging Blueprint course, PD Mangan states that exercise is anti-cancerous. Indeed, it appears that it increases molecules in the bloodstream that can inhibit cancer cell growth.

He cites a study on hip fracture patients that followed a high intensity strength training routine, and received treatment for depression and vitamin D. This reduced death rates by 81% and reduced care home admissions by 84%.

Muscle is anti-inflammatory and protects against disease. This is because it acts as a storage depot for protein, and in disease states such as cancer, sepsis (a toxic response to infection), or traumatic injury, proteins are released from muscle tissue for wound healing.

Indeed, studies suggest that survival rates in cancer patients are associated with levels of skeletal muscle mass.

The bottom line:

The muscle you have, the better your chances of avoiding disease and surviving it. So, if you’re a man over 50 and you want to live longer; you need to build muscle mass and lift weights.

#14 Stop making excuses

This may be the first start weight training in your 50s (or even beyond). You may have been out the gym for a number of years. And now you’re looking to get back into shape.

Whatever it is, don’t let excuses get in your way. Understand this: your age is NOT a reason for you, go be in phenomenal shape.

Just because other men your age let themselves go shit doesn’t mean you have to do the same. Sure, your body may have more limitations now, but so what?

results excuses

Does that mean you can’t get in the gym and kick ass?

Absolutely not.

In my experience, most of the limitations for building muscle and strength for men over 50 is in their head.

Most men who get into their 50s are poor low testosterone saps. Do you know why? Because they CHOSE to be that way. Not because of their age or any other bullshit. They stopped caring and looking after themselves.

Now quit making excuses about what you can and can’t do.

#15 Fix Your Posture

If you haven’t paid any attention to posture in  recent years, then now is the time.

My experience with posture correction is: the longer you neglect your posture, the worse it gets. There are numerous benefits of good posture.

These include; less lower back pain (a common problem for men over 50), improved mood, less tension in your neck and back, and improved circulation.

The first step in improving your posture starts with being aware of it. Get someone to take a picture of you with a shirt off from the front, side and back.

That way, you can get an objective assessment of how your posture actually is.

You may find that your neck leans forward (kyphosis), or that your shoulders are internally rotated. This second one is especially common in men that drive and spend a lot of time at computers.

I recommend make postural correction exercises a staple in your workout routine. Great exercises for improved upper body.

#16 Pack on size

OK, you’re weight lifting at 50 years old, but so what? Does that hold you back from building muscle and improving your body composition?

Absolutely not. Getting jacked is not just for younger men.

As long as you have the right foundations in place, there is no reason you cannot put on a significant amount of muscle mass in your 50s.

Some men in their 50s and beyond have this idea that trying to gain muscle is somehow “beneath” them.

But let’s be clear, there is nothing immature or childish about wanting to build muscle. Sure, it’s vain, but I see NOTHING wrong with wanting to look after your appearance.

More muscle mass simply makes you look better, instead looking like a rake that’s better off in the garden.

You’re telling me you don’t want to look better naked? Come on now.

Looking the part, and being strong to boot makes you FEEL BETTER. But not only that, I guarantee you it will improve a whole lot of other areas of your life too.

Final Thoughts

Many of my coaching clients are men in their 50s. And when they come to me, they all have their own issues.

A lot of them are overweight. Many suffer with low libido and high levels of stress. Indeed, often these men have done well in their careers and made a lot of money, but at the expense of their health.

Making big changes to your health and your physique in your 50s is no mean feat. You simply don’t have the energy levels and recovery ability of a younger man.

But, with the right attitude, consistency and dedication, anything is possible. My clients are proof-positive of this.

Many have lost weight, gained muscle AND gained their life back. They no longer buy into the myth that being an older man is a handicap. Being in great health and top shape as a man in his 50s opens up a whole world of possibilities to you.

Possibilities you didn’t even think existed. But they were always there – you just didn’t see them.

And that’s the thing about getting into great shape that’s rarely discussed:

It gives you incredible mental clarity in your life. Maybe even for the first time. If you follow many of the tips I outline in this post, I promise you incredible results.

get stronger 2019

18 Ways to Get Stronger in 2019

get stronger 2019

18 Ways to Get Stronger in 2019

It’s the start of a brand new year. That means you have another 12 months to make some serious changes in your life. And there’s a lot you can achieve in that time frame with consistent, concerted effort.

If you’re like most people, one of your goals this coming year (or at least it should be) is to improve your health. However, as I’m sure you know, most people make a big push in January, only to fall off the bandwagon come February.

Why does this happen? Mainly because their goals are not specific enough, and they’re aren’t emotionally invested in the outcome. As they say, emotion is really energy in motion.

And if you’re going to get specific on one aspect of your health and fitness, let it be this:

Get stronger.

You won’t believe how many things in your life will improve once you become stronger. To that end, I’ve come up with 18 ways you can stronger this year.

Now get to it!

#1 Focus on getting stronger in compound lifts

If you only focused on basic compound movements such as the deadlift, bench press and military press, you’d be very strong by the end of 2019.

You want big arms? Pick up a lot of weight off the floor.

Another benefit of compound lifts is that they train multiple muscle groups simultaneously. That means you get more done in less time. For example, the bench press not only trains your pectorals, but your triceps and anterior deltoids.
deadlift

#2 Train less

Most guys spend way too long in the gym. They 5-6 days a week, and train for up to 2 hours a time. This is both inefficient and counterproductive.

The reason they spend so long in the gym is because they believe more is better. However, more often than not, these guys could cut their training time in half.

In fact, you could get exceptional results by training 2-3 x 30 minutes a week.

That’s it.

Mike Mentzer, arguably one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time, narrowly missed out on winning Mr.Olympia (losing to Arnold Schwarzenegger no less), by training a few hours a week.

If it works for a guy competing in the Olympia, rest assured it will work for you too.

#3 Stop obsessing over “bulking and cutting”

The bulking and cutting mindset is an outdated bro myth that needs to go already. What happens with this kind of approach is that you go from one extreme to the other.

When you bulk you may put on size, but because you bulked too hard you got fat. And when you cut, oftentimes you it’s at the expense of hard-won muscle mass.

Instead, focus on cleaning up your diet that allows you to gain muscle without gaining too much fat in the process.

For most guys, this means eating a few hundred calories over maintenance. It’s more of a slow-burn approach. You may not get the extreme muscle gain, but you don’t also get the body fat that comes with it.

#4 Overhaul your training

Most guys spend far too long doing the same training program. Then they wonder why their gains have stalled. Following the same routine for months on end is akin to banging your head against a brick wall.

As the saying goes, “The best program is the one you’re not doing.”

And while we’re on sayings, here’s another one from Albert Einstein:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Is your training the definition of insanity? The human body adapts quickly to new stimulus, and so must constantly be challenged to encourage new growth.

In the context of strength training – this means switching up your program every 6-8 weeks. On some occasions you can go longer. But in most cases you would do well to stick to this time frame.

#5 Don’t think in terms of isolation movements – think in terms of accessory lifts

When it comes to training, most people think of isolation movements, e.g. bicep curls for biceps or tricep pushdowns for triceps.

Of course, it would be silly to suggest these exercises don’t work these muscles – because they surely do.

However, I want you view these exercises from a different perspective:

Instead ‘isolation movements,’ view these exercises as accessory lifts. That is, how can this exercise support a compound exercise such as deadlifts or bench press?

Because more often than not, getting stronger in the main lifts will lead you to your goals anyway.

What secondary lifts will bring up your main lifts? E.g. pull-ups will assist your bench press AND deadlift. Push-ups will assist your military press.
bicep curls

#6 Do bodyweight exercises between sets

This is one of the easiest ways to keep your heart rate up, add more conditioning into your workouts and improve your strength endurance.

Although if you are going to do bodyweight exercises between lifting sets, aim to use a different muscle group. Otherwise, you’ll be too fatigued for your next set.

For example, you can do pull-ups between bench press and military press sets.

Similarly, you can do push-ups between squats or crunches between deadlifts. With so many bodyweight exercises out there, the only real limit is your imagination.

#7 Find a new gym to train at

Just like a change of scenery can be good for the mind – if your results have stalled, training at a different gym can help. This is especially true if you’re at one of those gyms where everyone goes through the motions.

They turn up to the gym because they know they’re “supposed to.” But the truth is, they hate going and it’s written all over their face.

Not the best type of atmosphere to train in. You can argue that should just focus on your own training instead. And I would agree with you. However, when you’re surrounded by people who are motivated to train, it makes a HUGE difference.

It energizes you in new ways:

It makes you do that extra rep or extra set – where before, you would have called it a day.

This is one of the reasons I recommend everyone train at least once in a hardcore bodybuilding gym. They usually don’t have best locker rooms or the nicest paintwork.

But what they lack in that department is more than made up for in the attitude of people who train there.  Contrary to popular belief, these trainees are some of the friendliest you’ll ever meet.

#8 Squat more often

Whenever I plateau in the gym, something that’s always served me well is squatting more often. I don’t know what it is about squatting. It seems to bring up lagging body parts and lifts in ways that other exercises don’t.

Perhaps it’s the increased growth hormone release from squatting, or the recruitment of multiple muscle groups. Or perhaps it’s the sheer force of will and intensity required to complete a set.

Whatever it is, it works.

And as long as you do it safely (don’t squat like an idiot), you could do worse than squatting more often.
squats

#9 Ditch the “new year, new me” bullshit

Every time January comes around, hordes of people jump onto the fitness bandwagon. “This time will be different!”

They convince themselves that this time they’ll get into shape. But as I mentioned at the beginning, most people don’t make it beyond January.

This is because they adopt a short-term mindset. They want to lose weight or get into shape as quick as possible.

As a result, they go on extreme, fad diets. Or they train in a way that’s totally unsustainable; 2 hour marathon workouts and training 5 days a week.

#10 The foundation of all gains in the gym is sleep

If you haven’t done so already, make sleep a priority. I talk about this subject at great length in my book, Optimized Under 35. Not getting enough sleep can interfere with your training in a number of ways.

Sleep deprivation is associated with insulin resistance and low testosterone levels to name a few. Insulin is one of the most anabolic hormones in the body. And insulin resistance basically means you need a LOT of insulin for it to work.

Not only is this terrible for your health – eventually leading to type 2 diabetes and worse. It’s also not great for your fitness goals, because it wreaks havoc with blood sugar regulation. Poor blood sugar control means you’re not going to have the necessary energy levels to fuel your workouts.

Finally, when you train you break down your muscle fibers. As a result, in simple terms they grow back bigger and stronger. However, if you can’t facilitate this process if you don’t get enough sleep.

#11 Optimize your hormones

Your hormones have a dramatic effect on your lean body mass. If your hormones are out of whack and you have low testosterone, there’s a good chance your results in the gym have stalled.

If you didn’t know by now, testosterone is crucial to your results in the gym. Testosterone contributes to muscle protein synthesis (i.e. ensures your workouts are productive) and you maintain muscle mass.

So if you care about your health; it’s in your best interests to lead a testosterone-friendly lifestyle. That means, eating properly, lifting weights regularly and getting plenty of rest.

Hormone replacement therapy, or HRT for men, is becoming more widely accepted and used to treat men who have low testosterone.

Now let’s be clear – HRT or testosterone replacement therapy is only for those who truly need it. That means, you’ve taken the time to optimize your lifestyle and lose body fat. But despite this, you still have low T – as was the case with me.

In this instance, undergoing testosterone replacement therapy might be the right choice for you. To learn more about hormone replacement therapy and whether you need it – especially if you’re a young man – check out my book Optimized Under 35.

#12 Stop switching programs

Nowadays, because of the abundance of training programs on the internet, many guys suffer from “shiny object syndrome.” They go from one training program to the next. They convince themselves that a new training program is the KEY to their newfound gains.

However, these guys miss the point entirely. The reason why their gains have stalled is because they lack consistency in their training. Indeed, one of the main principles of strength and muscle is growth is progressive overload.

Progressive overload means the gradual increase of stress placed on the body. So if you change up your routine every week, you might have the stress but you don’t have the progression.

Progression can come in many forms. This can be less rest time between sets, more reps or more weight.

The bottom line: Find a routine and stick with it long enough to get some progression.

#13 Train with guys stronger than you

You’re probably familiar with the term, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” And here’s why this is so powerful: You adopt the mindset and attitude of these people, simply by osmosis.

So you may as well use this to your advantage, especially when it comes to training. If you want to get bigger and stronger, then find people who are already where you want to be.

Some of my best gains; both in terms of strength and knowledge, came from training with guys far ahead of me. I’ve trained with world class athletes and champion bodybuilders. And each time I trained with them, I learned something new.

Whether it was a new exercise, technique or different attitude toward training. It leveled up my training in more ways than one.

#14 Up the ante in your workouts

You don’t have to train balls to the wall every time you workout. But at a minimum you must make yourself UNCOMFORTABLE.

In order to ensure some type of progression, your must make your training more difficult than the last time. Most wander aimlessly around the gym without any type of focus or intensity.

#15 Do more pulling than pushing movements

You don’t need to devote an entire day to chest and shoulders. Most guys overdo it when it comes to these exercises. As a result, they have imbalances that lead to poor posture and shoulder pain.

Instead, focus on doing more pulling than pushing movements. Pulling movements such as pull-ups or rows emphasize your back muscles. A strong back will improve your shoulder health, posture and increase your strength in other lifts.A good ratio 3 pull exercises for every push.

#16 Train your legs already

If you’ve been putting off training legs – now is the time to start.

I’ve seen plenty of guys with a HUGE upper body, and yet they have chicken legs. But rarely have I seen a guy with a big set of wheels and a small upper body. Let’s face it:

Most of us train simply because we want to look good. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

Strong, powerful legs will upgrade your physique like nothing else. What’s more, stronger legs will actually transfer into better strength all round.

For example, when training the squat or leg press, you need to develop a strong core. And a strong midsection will absolutely improve your upper body lifts.

#17 Prioritize recovery

Recovery can include a number of things. From long walks in the country, to long sessions in the sauna and steam room, or even a light swim.

And of course, how can we forget sleep? Prioritizing recovery will do several things for you. Above all, it will improve your performance in the gym.

Because if you’re tired and banged up all the time, how are you ever going to perform at your best?

It will make a dramatic difference to your training and mental state.

#18 You don’t need to have a perfect workout every time

Guys think when they go to the gym that they need to hit PRs and kill it every time. Then when they don’t do this, they get annoyed.

The fact is, some days will be better than others. And you’ll have plenty of off days when you train. Days where a weight you can normally lift for fun feels heavy. Or you just feel tired and crappy.

That’s normal and part of life. But as long as you get plenty of rest, these days should be few and far between.