Category Archives for "Training"

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.

Furthermore, 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.

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 to me. As far as I’m concerned, 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

These days, many men in their 20s and 30s appreciate the benefits of working out. This applies less so to men in their 40s, but you’ll find a sizeable proportion in the gym.

But men in their 50s? Hardly any.

It’s almost as if most men get into their 50s and think, “OK, I’ll stop looking after myself now!” I don’t know whether it’s because they think they’re “too old,” they feel like crap, or a combination of both.

Truth be told, I feel a lot of men buy into the idea that when you reach a certain age, that means you’re past it.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I know of many men in their 50s and older who routinely defy age, and have better bodies than men half their age.

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

You don’t have the recovery ability you did in your 20s. As a man weight lifting in your 50s , this means you can no longer do marathon workout sessions.

The majority of guys who spend hours in the gym, get nowhere anyway. They think by virtue of training longer, they’ll get more results.

And what’s more, it’s likely you’ve got a family and a bunch of responsibilities. So you don’t have the luxury of spending hours in the gym – especially when that time is unproductive.

By now, you’ve been around the block enough to know that one life’s maxims is quality not quantity.

And this applies as much to weight training as it does to the rest of your life.

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.

I think that 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

If you didn’t already heed this principle when you were younger, do so now:

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 for a man weight lifting 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 great physique for a man of his age. One day, however, I saw him hobbling around the gym. I asked him what happened. He told me he used too much weight on a machine and strained his calf muscle.

His calf blew looked like someone hit 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.

Prevention is ALWAYS the best cure.

#3 Machines are your 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. And 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. Plus, it also means you're on a lifelong medication. Most men will go far by optimizing their diet and lifestyle alone.

Nevertheless, TRT can be a great adjunct to an already dialed in lifestyle.

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.

Medichecks are the leading provider in the UK.  Apply the discount code OPTIMIZED19 at checkout and you'll get 10% off all TRT, male hormone and sports blood tests.

If you're in the US, I recommend Discounted Labs.

#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 also anti-inflammatory and protects against disease. Indeed, studies suggest that survival rates in cancer patients are associated with levels of skeletal muscle mass. The muscle you have, the better your chances.

The bottom line:

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 over the past few 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 issue.

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.

However, 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.