“Nutrition Week” – Guest Post by Michelle Adams

February 21, 2012 by danny · Leave a Comment 

Let’s keep “nutrition week” rollin’.  In case you missed day 1 of nutrition week, be sure to go back and check out the great information that Brian St. Pierre provides in this interview.

I  thought it would be beneficial for you all to see what a food log looks like from someone other than myself.  I think this will be especially beneficial coming from a females perspective. So I contacted two of my good friends to see if they’d share a day or two for everyone to see.  Luckily Michelle Adams and Marci Nevin were happy to share.

First up, is Michelle Adams.  I met Michelle 5-6 years ago when she sought me out to train her for her first figure show.  I noticed that Michelle REALLY loved the field of fitness so I talked her (with the help of my wife) into giving up her day job to become a trainer.  She agreed and has been going strong ever since.

Michelle Adams

Without further adieu, the floor is yours Michelle…

I’ve been following the foods for my metabolic typing and this seems to be working well for me. I worked with a nutritionist and tested as a protein type. This means I should follow an eating plan that is heavier in protein and fat. I also have a list of specific foods that have a nutrition profile that compliment my bodies’ chemistry. I tend to struggle with being constantly hungry. I also have hypothyroid. After trying numerous eating methods, I realized that cutting starchy carbs only makes me moody, tired, and more hungry. With a few exceptions, I choose whole, clean foods, and always choose organic dairy and meat. I try to eat for optimal health and to support my training. I’m currently following a Nia Shanks workout that is an upper/lower split. I like to train heavy and I do not like cardio. I like to incorporate jump rope and line sprints as interval training. I drink water throughout the day and require at least 7 hours of sleep a night to function at my best. I practice mediation daily, even if it’s just 3 minutes. It’s all part of my personal wellness plan.

Non-training day

Meal 1
Nanogreens green drink
low-fat, plaint greet yogurt with walnuts, sliced banana, cinnamon and stevia
green tea made with 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, water and stevia
supplements: vitamin D3, vitamin C, krill oil, DHEA, astaxanthin
Meal 2
2 hard boiled eggs
apple slices
Meal 3
homemade turkey meatloaf
steamed artichoke hearts with olive oil drizzled on top
Trader Joes fiber cake
green tea made with 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, water and stevia
supplements: multi, vitamin C, krill oil
Meal 4
celery with peanut butter
whey protein in water
Meal 5
grilled chicken breast
steamed cauliflower, carrots, and snow peas with olive oil drizzled on top
supplements: multi mineral, vitamin C
Before bed supplements: Z12, probiotic

Training day

Meal 1
Nanogreens green drink
sprouted wheat english muffin with peanut butter
whey protein in water
green tea made with 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, water and stevia
supplements: vitamin D3, vitamin C, krill oil, DHEA, astaxanthin
Meal 2
lowfat cottage cheese with small serving of banana and almond slivers
Meal 3
scrambled egg whites made in coconut oil
brown rice
steamed asparagus drizzled with olive oil
coffee made with 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, water and stevia
supplements: multi, vitamin C, krill oil
whey protein in water with creatine
Meal 4
bison burger on a sprouted wheat bun with unsweetened ketchup, mustard, GOOD (it’s the brand) mayonnaise, and red onion
steamed veggies drizzled with olive oil
Meal 5
lowfat, plain greek yogurt with chocolate protein powder and natural peanut butter
supplements: multi mineral, vitamin C
Before bed supplements: Z12, probiotic
Danny’s Notes:
Getting lean and healthy doesn’t need to be complicated.  For example, you don’t need to get tested to find out your “metabolic typing,” like Michelle did.  Michelle has been in the game for quite awhile now, and has tweaked her nutrition plan many times in attempt to find out what works best for her.  With all of her experience, she wanted to give metabolic typing a shot to see what comes of it.  There is still a lot of research that needs to be done.  With the combination of research and real world experience, hopefully we’ll be able to tell how effective (or ineffective) metabolic typing turns out to be.  Maybe I’ll even have an updated interview with Michelle down the line to see what her thoughts are once she gets more time “under her belt” with this whole metabolic typing thing.  For now though, it seems to be working really well for her!
If you have any questions for Michelle regarding her food choices, supplements, or anything else, leave them in the comments section below.  Thanks for your time, Michelle!
To wrap up nutrition week, tomorrow I’ll share Marci Nevin’s food log..  Marci has been going the “intermittent fasting” route.  Find out why she is doing the intermittent fasting thing, and why she has been enjoying it so much.
See you tomorrow! …

Nutrition Week – Interview with Brian St. Pierre

February 20, 2012 by danny · 2 Comments 

I’ve labeled this week nutrition week because I have 3 great nutrition posts that will be going up.  Tomorrow and Wednesday a couple of my good friends (and they are trainers) will be sharing their foods logs with us.  This should be great because it will give you a couple of examples of what a healthy day looks like (and ladies, they are both females). As you’ll see, there is definitely more than one way to skin a cat as their current nutrition plans are quite different.  But first up, is an interview I did with nutrition expert Brian St. Pierre. Brian is one of my favorites “nutrition guys” for several reasons:

-He is very smart

-He stays on top of the most current research

-He makes difficult subject matter easy to follow for his readers

-He has worked with many clients in the real world which helps make him a better nutrition coach (in other words, he’s not just and “internet expert”)

With that said, let’s get to the interview…

Brian St. Pierre

Danny McLarty: A number of years ago, “nutrient timing” became THE thing. Many people would say: for us to reach our optimal physique, we need to appropriately time our carbohydrate consumption.  Nowadays, it *seems* to me like many are now saying: at the end of the day, hitting our macro numbers is all that really matters. Where does your opinion fall in this discussion?

Brian St. Pierre: I would say that for the most part your total numbers are a far greater determinant of success than the timing of your macronutrients.  In the hierarchy of importance timing is far below total intake for sure.  Having said that though, there are instances where timing is important.  For example an endurance athlete with multiple events in a 24 hour span would be one example.  In addition this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t employ any type of nutrient timing strategies, it just means that being neurotic about eating immediately before or after you finish training is unnecessary.  It is ok to wait an hour or two as it really won’t make a bit of difference.  If you eat 1-3 hours before training and within 1-2 hours after training, essentially placing your training between two normal meals, then you will be just fine.  While some acute data may support nutrient timing, the longer-term research just has not bore this out.  If you feel your results are better when you eat closer to your training, go for it, it certainly won’t hurt.  It is all about your results, so do what works for you, but in general I just find that keeping it simple brings the greatest long-term bang for your buck.

DM: There are some people out there that don’t handle dairy well.  When these individuals reduce their dairy intake they start to feel better. However, many (particularly females and kids) of them are nervous that the reduction of calcium consumption will lead to bone fractures and other problems. Can you tell us why this (reduction of calcium consumption) should not be a concern? Or should it?

BSP: Well that is certainly a difficult question to answer.  Calcium consumption in the US is quite high, but do keep in mind that vitamin D levels in the US are quite low on average.  Vitamin D’s main job is calcium absorption (among many others), so even if our calcium intake is high, if our vitamin D levels are inadequate it may not be helping.  In addition there are many other elements needed for proper bone health beyond calcium and vitamin D – magnesium, vitamin K, phosphorus, etc.  Beyond that you can get into the need simply for adequate calories and resistance training, but that is beyond the scope of this question.

The point is that just focusing on calcium intake is missing the forest for the trees.  Even if you don’t consume dairy, you can certainly get in adequate calcium from non-dairy milks, leafy greens, almonds, etc. In addition ensuring adequate vitamin D levels will aid in absorbing the calcium you do consume, and it would also be wise to ensure adequate magnesium and vitamin K intake as well.  Add in a quality resistance training program and consumption of maintenance calories and bone fractures should be of little concern.

Resistance Training Has So Many Benefits

(Danny’s Note: To get more great thoughts from Brian on dairy, check out this 3-part series he did …)

Is Dairy Healthy? The Whole Story – Part I

Is Dairy Healthy? The Whole Story – Part 2

Is Dairy Healthy? The Whole Story – Part 3

DM: Some coaches/trainers/nutritionists have different opinions on how to incorporate cheat meals. Some recommend to have a day that they just let loose. Others prefer to have their clients pick ONE cheat meal here and there throughout the course of the week. What approach do you feel works best?

BSP: I personally don’t like cheat days, because people tend to get too wrapped up thinking about those days and all the foods they have been avoiding like a good little boy or girl.  To me it warps perception of food.  I prefer people work in those “cheat” foods or comfort foods here and there as part of their normal intake.  As long as you are keeping your calorie and macronutrient totals in check, having up to 10% of your intake from those foods is a non-issue.

In my mind it is all about creating health eating habits and patterns, and entire cheat days simply do not do that.  People like to talk about resetting leptin and other hormones after dieting hard as a reason for a cheat day.  I am not a fan of hardcore dieting followed by high-calorie cheat days, even if it works, because it is certainly not setting a long-term eating pattern that someone can follow for life.  It is a temporary fix, like painting over a water stain in your ceiling without fixing the roof.  In the long run it just isn’t going to work.

DM: Quite often when people simply start to “clean up” their eating, total calorie amount falls into place. But for those that handle numbers better, do you have general recommendations as a starting point? (i.e. X amount of calories x BW for those looking to lose fat; X amount of cals x BW for those looking to gain LBM, etc).

BSP: I definitely agree with your first statement, and it is one of the main reasons why my main focus with people is to get them to eat mostly real, whole minimally processed food, as it tends to take care of a lot of other issues indirectly.  However for those are numbers inclined or who are trying to get lean for a particular event where you have to be a little more aggressive then I do have a general recommendation that I mostly stole from Alan Aragon.  I say mostly because I add a little twist.  It is also important to remember that this is just a starting point estimate, some people still need more or less calories than this to meet their goals, but this does fit a good majority of the population.

My recommendation is as follows.  Figure out how many hours you spend training per week.  Then decide if you train at a low, medium or high intensity.  Ok good.  Here we go:

Females:  Goal Bodyweight X (8-10 + the number of hours training per week).  You choose 8 if your training intensity is low, 9 if medium, and 10 if high.

Males: Goal Bodyweight X (9-11 + the number of hours training per week).  You choose 9 if your training intensity is low, 10 if medium, and 11 if high.

This is a good starting point, though there are some caveats.  For every decade over your twenties I tend to take 100 calories off the final number. Try this starting point for a few weeks and see what happens. Don’t like the results, then either add or decrease 200-250kcals per day and see what happens.

I will give a few real life examples. Let’s take a 25 year old male who is training hard to gain some mass and a 52 year old woman training moderately hard to lose some weight.  The guy’s target bodyweight is 200lbs and the woman’s is 150lbs.  They both exercise 5 hours per week.

Woman:    150 X (9+5)= 2100 – 300 (for age) = 1800kcal total per day.

Man:          200 X (11+5) = 3200 total kcal per day.

There are far more complicated formulas, but I don’t find that they are any more accurate than this.

Hope that helps and thanks for having me!

DM: Thanks, Brian!  As usual, great stuff!  To get more outstanding information from Brian, be sure to check out his website over at brianstpierretraining.com.

If you have any questions or comments, be sure to leave them in the comments section below.

Connect on twitter @DannyMcLarty

Basketball, Training, Nutrition, Life…

February 7, 2012 by danny · 2 Comments 

How we go…

1) I’m playing in a basketball league on Monday nights (35 and older league – that feels weird to say!).  Last night was the first round of the playoffs (we have the #1 seed, just sayin’) and we were told the game started at 7:30.  Well, it actually started at 7:00.  So the refs said if you don’t start in 2 minutes you must forfeit.  We had 3 guys there and another one of our players just happened to come watch… he recently tore his achilles tendon and was in a boot.  The rules state that you must start the game with 4 players, so he walked out on the court in his street clothes for the tip and just stood there ’til the first dead ball, then walked back into the bleachers to watch.  So that put us at 3 vs 5 for the first 5 minutes of the game until our 4th and 5th players showed up.

Our strategy?  Dribble around and stall as much as possible until the other guys arrived.  And it worked great!  By the time they showed up, we were only down 6-3 (and that counts the 2 point technical foul we got right off the bat as our player with the achilles injury was not in “proper uniform”).  We ended up getting the W, but it was much closer than the rest of the games.

Championship game in two weeks – I’ll let you know the outcome…

2) In a blogpost that I made the other day, I mention that I performed Bret Contreras’s,”The Sexy Challenge.”  It went well and I actually wasn’t as sore as I thought I’d be… until day 2’s DOMS set in!  I mentioned that I like to perform a challenge like this from time to time, but if done too frequently it can lead to set-backs.  I performed the challenge last Thursday and my training program had me scheduled to do legs that Saturday (2 days after the challenge).  Yeah right!  My hammies were killing me so I flip-flopped a day in my program and did upper body on that Saturday instead.  Sunday came around and I was still very sore.  So, I FINALLY got that leg day in yesterday (Monday).  This is exactly why I’m not a fan of doing this kind of “test” or “challenge” more than 2-3 times per year… it ends up messing with your program design and throws everything off for awhile (and has you limping around for days).  I’m still glad I did it, but again, I won’t be doing anything like this for quite some time.

3) My wife just landed a very good as the General Manager at Mario Tricoci (hair salon for those of you that don’t keep up on these sort of things :) ).  I’ll still be able to train clients in the morning out of my basement, give basketball lessons on the weekends, continue my social media obligations, and write training programs for my on-line clients.  BUT, I’ll be putting in a larger amount of time as “Mr. Mom” until we get day care ‘n all that figured out.

Going to be fun hanging with the twins, but if my hair is completely grey the next time you see me, now you know why!

4) Football is over, so it’s time for basketball to take center-stage.  Let’s hope Deng can stay healthy, Rip can GET healthy, and D. Rose keeps on killlin’ it!  I can’t wait for that Chicago-Miami rematch!!!

5) I’ve got some GREAT nutrition information to share with you all next week.  A few times I’ve given you a sample day of what my eating looks like.  Well, I thought it would be cool and beneficial to see a couple other examples from other people.  My good friends Marci Nevin and Michelle Adams agreed to share a food log of what they eat for a day.  It will be great for females to see what a couple other VERY healthy and very fit chicks eat while attempting to reach their health and physique goals!

And finally, I’ll be posting a nutrition interview that I did with Brian St. Pierre (one of my favorite “nutrition guys”).

So make sure you don’t miss all this great content – be sure to pop in next week to check it out.

Until next time…

Training, Life, and Stuff…

January 21, 2012 by danny · Leave a Comment 

Just a bunch of things creeping through my mind …

-It has been an unbelievably nice winter so far.  Many days in the 40s and 50s, and quite a bit of sun.  This has made my transition from California back to Illinois quite a bit easier.  But the reality of living in the Midwest has hit, and hit hard…

My first time shoveling snow in about 10 years!

It has actually been kind of fun!  But the thing I hate, is when these type of conditions last month after month after month.  That’s why I’m so glad we had such a nice first part of winter.  This greatly shortens the winter season… March is only just over a month away!

-Tony Gentilcore had a really good blogpost the other day.  Q and A: My Supplement List. Tony delivers in his usual funny and informative way.  The gist of his post is this (as he points out)…

It’s been said supplements are progress enhancers, not progress starters.  If your current diet and training program isn’t getting the job done, then taking “x” supplement probably isn’t going to be the answer.

Check out the entire piece – Q and A: My Supplement List

-You want to know what is absolutely unbelievable and ridiculous?  Let me tell you; there are about a zillion toys made specifically for babies, and the only things they want to play with are (in no particular order)…

1) My watch

2) The remote control

3) My cell phone

4) All the cables by the TV

5) The dog food in the dog dish

Kids these days!  But, it’s hard to get mad at this face…

Capri in her hoodie

-Here’s a powerful picture…

Just a reminder of the power of weight lifting. Lifting can help you add muscle and as you can see, muscle takes up a lot less space than fat!  This is why the scale can be deceiving.  If person A and person B weigh exactly the same, but person A has more muscle than person B, person A will take up a lot less space (ladies, this means your clothes will fit better!).  Now go get your lift on!

-I finished off the last day of my current training block on Thursday. I’ll be starting my new program on Sunday.  It’s always exciting to start a new program.  I’ll fill you in with some of the particulars in future posts.

I hope everyone has a great weekend.  If it’s snowy in your neck of the woods, remember to take er easy on the roads.

Connect with me on twitter.

Dear Young Fitness Friends…

December 1, 2011 by danny · 4 Comments 

Every one of us that has been in this fitness game for any length of time, started off as a newbie.  In our early stages of fitness, we were eager to learn, but had no idea where to start.  I was the same way.  I loved playing sports as a kid, and as I hit my freshman year in high school, I also started to incorporate lifting weights “here and there.”  I loved it from the get-go, but really had no idea what I was doing.

Am I doing this right?

This led me to do some investigating; what are the best exercises?  Do I do a set of one exercise, rest and then do the same exercise?  Or do two different exercises, alternating back and fourth?  Cardio before weights, or the other way around?  How many days per week should I lift?  What are the best rep ranges?  And the more I looked into it, the more confused I got.  The “answer” to one question just led to whole new set of questions.  But then, things started to change for me.  I met a person that greatly influenced me.  His name is Cy Willson.  He was a guy at the local gym that was known for being very smart, with a very good physique.  One day I approached him with a few questions and he was more than happy to help me out.  He answered every e-mail that I sent him (100s of e-mails!!!) and even met with me one day to go over a notebook full of questions I had for him.

Cy also new Dr. John Berardi and told me that I should start reading some of his work.  So I did – and I learned a ton.  Dr. Berardi was also gracious enough to answer many questions that I had and I’ve since attended a few seminars that John has presented in.

I talk more about the coaches that have influenced the most, in THIS POST.

Since I’ve always been so appreciate of people like Cy and John, I feel it’s my duty to “pass it on” to people that are just getting involved in fitness and are a) not sure where to start, and/or b) looking for more information to help them achieve greater results.

With that said, here are seven tips to help the newbies get started on the right path in their fitness journey.

#1) Show Up

What’s a better exercise for your triceps – the close-grip bench press, or overhead tricep extensions?  It doesn’t matter at all if you don’t CONSISTENTLY get to the gym.  Showing up is the first step and probably the most important step.

#2) Keep A Training Log

It’s hard to know what’s working and what isn’t if you are just “winging it” every time you go to the gym.  Having a plan and recording your training sessions can teach you a lot.  And just as important, a training log is a huge for motivation.  Human nature has us wanting to outdo our previous performance.  Lets say that last Monday you totalled 24 chin-ups over the course of 4 sets.  Well, when next Monday rolls around and you have 18 total reps going into your final set, believe me, you are going to dig down a little deeper to be able to get 7 reps on that last set (for a total of 25 reps).

One. More. Rep.

#3) Form First

I tell my new clients the golden rule is, FORM FIRST.  I don’t want them to worry about adding weight until they’ve mastered form while using a full range of motion. It’s important for new trainees to put their bodies through many, many, many “perfect” reps to be able to get an idea of what the exercise should feel like.  Grooving that proper pattern is key.  Once this is mastered, there may be a little room for some “body english” from time to time.  But for staying healthy and performing optimally over the long haul – form first!

#4) Compound Movements

Exercises that use many muscles at one will get you results much faster than doing isolation exercise after isolation exercise.  It will also save you time and set you up for better results down the road.  Yes, there DEFINITELY is a time and place for isolation exercises (i.e. bicep curls).  But make compound movements (i.e. push-ups, chin-ups, deadlifts, squats) your staple – especially early on in your “career.”

#5) What You Drink Matters!

You can be “money” when it comes to the food that you put in your mouth.  But if you are not being equally as strict with what you drink, you may just have to kiss the idea of getting great results, good bye.  It’s very easy to guzzle down sugar filled drink after sugar filled drink without even realizing it.  So, be careful here.  Make water and green tea your staple beverage.

#6) Have Fun

Have fun while you are working out.  But just as importantly, enjoy life outside of the weight room (or track, or pool, or pilates studio, or wherever it is that you are working out).  I’ve always tried to make sure that I include cheat meals and fun – a few beers here and there, a pepperoni pizza, reese’s pieces, etc., from time to time.

Man I love these things!

But the key is, to get RIGHT BACK ON TRACK and truly treat this kind of behavior as a treat, NOT a staple.  Life is too short to be so strict and never enjoy a little fun here and there.  But it is also too short to be average.  So find that happy medium … work hard, but don’t be afraid to “play” from time-to-time.

#7) Have A Great Support Group

If you are really excited about making fitness a big part of your life, but your closest friends spend the majority of their time playing video games and smoking cigarettes, then chances are it’s just not going to happen for you.  There’s nothing like having a good training partner there to help hold you accountable, push you harder than you thought you could be pushed, and someone to enjoy your time with.  As I mentioned in #6, if you must have fun.  If you hate your experience in the gym, it probably won’t last.

So there you go my newbie fitness peeps – soon to be sexified fitness peeps.  My top tips to help you get started.  If you’re a veteran in this game and have some other greats tips for the newbies out there, let us see them in the comments section below.

And if you have any fitness friends looking for a place to start, feel free to share this (and/or hit the like the button below) with them.

You can find me on twitter @DannyMcLarty

Nothing Beats In The Trenches Experience!

November 29, 2011 by danny · Leave a Comment 

In the fitness world, science can be very beneficial.  Science has helped advance the field and will continue to do so in the years to come.  However, it is not without its limitations.  The results obtained by researchers may give them X, Y, or Z results – in the setting that the research was conducted.  However, not every study ever performed was designed to meet your particular needs in your exact situation.

Another thing about research/science; there is still a ton to be tested.  We’ve all formed an opinion based on what we’ve observed with our training and nutrition (and/or while working with our clients).  And we didn’t have to wait for a study to be conducted to form this opinion.  This is where “in the trenches” experience sometimes trumps science.

With that said, I contacted a handful of Coaches that have logged thousands of hours working with their own guinea pigs.  This in the trenches experience has left each of them with training and nutrition information that you just won’t find from the white coats.

Nate Miyaki:

Danny: Nate, when it comes to nutrition, what is the biggest mistake that you see from most trainees that are trying to add muscle?

Nate: “I think the biggest mistake is the low-carb trend.  Research has shown that for the obese, sedentary, and insulin resistant/type II diabetic populations, low-carb plans are the most effective approach.  These populations should follow a Paleo-style plan 100%.

The active, anaerobic athlete whose primary goal is physique enhancement should add back in a select few, low fructose, non-”anti-nutrient” containing carbohydrates to support their training and recovery demands.  Recommendations include potatoes, rice, and yams/sweet potatoes.

Sweet Potatoes Do The Body Good!

Still most modern foods like sugar, dairy, bread, juices, and whole grains (as are typical in many physique athletes’ plans) remain off-limits to avoid the host of metabolic, hormonal, and digestive diseases associated with modern eating.”

Bret Contreras:

Danny: Bret, what is THE biggest mistake individuals make when trying to improve their glutes?

Bret: “This one is easy! The biggest problem is that they’re not activating their glutes sufficiently. The gluteus maximus is a strange muscle. It’s always trying to find a reason to shut down and go to sleep. Any lower body injury or pain will shut it down, any activity that’s easy will not activate it sufficiently, and quite often people are performing great glute exercises but aren’t activating them properly throughout the movements. For example, you can squat and lunge while using mostly quad and erector, and you can deadlift and bridge by using mostly erector and hammy. When people learn to activate their glutes properly and master the feel of strong glute contractions, they’ll begin to heavily incorporate their glutes into all of their lower body movement patterns, including squats, deadlifts, good mornings, lunges, hip thrusts, back extensions, and even planks.

A Few of Bret's Clients

Many readers have seen all of my Youtube videos of strong girls and athletes moving heavy weight on their glute exercises, but they don’t start out that way. Most of my clients start out with bodyweight squatting and bridging and I have to work hard to get them to sit back, keep their knees tracking over their toes, utilize proper lumbopelvic mechanics, push through the feet properly, and symmetrically activate the glutes. Once all of these are happening, then I add load. After around six weeks clients almost always boast about how well their glutes work during their sessions.”

Tim Henriques:

Danny: Tim, what is THE biggest training mistake made by the “intermediate” lifter that is trying to add muscle?

Tim: “I would say the biggest mistake an intermediate lifter makes (excluding simply not training hard, because if you aren’t doing that it doesn’t matter what soviet bloc routine you are on) is that they get decent results with one method and they just stick with it too long.  They become HIT guys or Westside Guys or DC guys or Kettlebell guys or whatever.  To build muscle to you want to stimulate the muscle as much as possible in a variety of ways.  You want to do some serious strength training but don’t focus exclusively on that.  You should try some higher rep stuff but don’t focus exclusively on that.  And a good chunk of time should be spent on the intermediate modalities.  A simple guideline is train 25% of the time for strength (high weight, low reps), to train 25% of the time for endurance (lower weight, higher reps – as in 20 or so), and to train about 50% of the time in the traditional size building zone (moderate weight, moderate reps, high volume).  Personally I had good success following a HIT routine for 6 weeks (1 all out set on the exercises), a Westside routine for 8-10 weeks, and then a more classic traditional bodybuilding routine for 6-10 weeks and then just rotating through them again.  Do several rounds of that and you will be bigger and stronger no doubt about it.

I would also add that a close second mistake is that the intermediate level lifters should start to understand their bodies and start to figure out what works and what doesn’t.  Tricep pushdowns might give you big triceps or they might not.  Same with dips and close-grip bench press.  Don’t just perform an exercise forever because some expert said it would do something for you, give it a fair test (2-4 months) and see what happens.  If you don’t get any measurable results from that exercise, drop it and try something else.

The Power of a Good Training Environment!

Finally try to surround yourself with like-minded individuals that have similar goals and train their ass off.  Don’t underestimate the power of training in a productive environment with strong social support.  The “me against the world” mentality is nice for a while but it gets old real quick and you only have so much energy, better to use that energy to create a good environment then always fight a bad one.”

Danny McLarty:

Next I contacted this really good-looking guy, Danny McLarty.  Since I’m used to talking to myself, the conversation went really smooth!

Danny: What do you find is the biggest mistake made by trainees trying to take their physique to the “next level?”

Danny: “In my mind, there is no doubt the biggest mistake that most people make, is that fact that they change their goals far too often.  We all want to have the strength of an NFL linebacker, while having 2.4 percent body fat, while training to knock out GSP, while having so much muscle that we make the average human being  look like Christian Bale in the Machinist.

But that just ain’t happenin’.  Pick a goal and STAY WITH IT long enough to see it come to fruition.  As the great Dan John says, ‘the goal is to keep the goal the goal.’

Don’t go try to get as HYOOGE as possible one week, only to decide it’s time to get shredded the next.  Pick one goal, focus all your efforts on this goal, and kick some ass while you are at it!”

Dr. Clay Hyght:

Danny: What is the biggest nutrition mistake made by the individual trying to lose fat?

Dr. Clay: “From what I’ve seen, by FAR what holds most well-intentioned dieters back is failing to adhere to a very specific plan.  People tend to do things like “eat well” or “eat less carbs” and so on.  But if you ask them “how many grams of carbs are you eating?” they don’t know exactly.

How Many Calories Did You REALLY Just Put In Your Body?

One must first have a specific plan.  For example, “have 150 grams of carbs on days I lift weights.”  Then to make sure that actually happens, write down EXACTLY how many carbs you consume.  After a couple weeks, you’ll know if that’s gonna work or not and you can tweak from there.  (Of course the same goes for protein and fat.)”

Science is great, and I know it has influenced each one of us involved in this Q and A.  But NOTHING is more helpful than experience training people in real live situations.  Many people say that knowledge is power.  I disagree – knowledge is information, applied knowledge is power.  In this article, you have information that you can APPLY right away.  Do so and go take your physique to the next level!

If you have any tips that you have found to be particular beneficial in your training/nutrition plans, let us hear them in the comments section below.

If you’re on twitter, you can find me @DannyMcLarty

Your Healthy Reminder: Don’t Forget This!

November 16, 2011 by danny · Leave a Comment 

As I’ve talked about previously, there are a number of reasons to workout and eat healthy…

The hard work is worth it!

-To improve performance

-To look better to attract others

-To look better to feel good and confident about yourself

-The high that often comes from a good, hard training session

-Improve energy

-Reduce stress (this is huge factor for many people!)

-To reduce the risk of all kinds of health problems

Now, the last one I mentioned unfortunately is the an afterthought for many people.  But it should be high on the “reason to workout/eat healthy,” list.  A couple reminders of why this is so important…

The Real “Main Reason” to Workout – This was a blogpost that I did awhile back talking about a guy that I used to train in California (currently training him on-line).  When he came to see me, things looked bleak.  His doctor told him that he was 48 seconds (give or take a few weeks) away from developing diabetes. and had a bunch of “red flags” when the doc checked all of his numbers (cholesterol, glucose levels, etc, etc).  Anyway, this all GREATLY changed after a few months of good, hard training, and much improved eating.

It’s All Muscle Mark Young talks about how dangerous it is to carry around a bunch of abdominal fat, shows us some scary pictures (like what a “fat” heart looks like), and basically scares the bejesus out of us.

Sometimes fear can be a good thing.

Now, I do want to point out once again – if you are currently not living a very “clean” life, it doesn’t have to miserable and boring to workout and eat healthy.  For example, you best believe that I’ll be having some fun with friends and family over Thanksgiving week (i.e. beer will be consumed, mashed potatoes will be consumed, and I plan on eating 4 pumpkin pies… not pieces, pies).  Work hard, be disciplined, be consistent, and PICK YOUR SPOTS when it comes time to getting a little crazy.  If you hop RIGHT BACK ON the clean living wagon, it’ll be all good.  Scroll up and review the benefits of training and a solid nutrition plan, they’re well worth it!

Feel free to click the like button below and share this with your friends.

Follow me on Twitter >>> @DannyMcLarty

What Did I Eat Today?

November 4, 2011 by danny · 6 Comments 

Over the last few days I’ve been, well, less than perfect with my eating.  I walked by the Halloween candy we had in our house about 376 times, and I dug my hand into that pile more than once.  And then last night after I lifted in my home gym, my post-workout meal was a mix of count chocula + cheerios + almond milk with a little protein powder sprinkled in there.

Don’t get me wrong, I still incorporated a lot of protein, veggies, and healthy fats throughout the day.  BUT, I did cheat more than I should have.

This is the key to success in this health and physique “game” >>> If you get back on track right away, a little cheating here and there is perfectly fine. Problems arise when a bad night of drinking beer and scarfing down pizza turns into a pancake and syrup infested morning, followed by a quick run to Micky D’s for lunch, and finished off with a family dinner at Olive Garden where you start with 14 breadsticks as your appetizer.  Moderation, moderation, moderation!  Let’s just not forget what moderation really is… i.e. don’t kid yourself into thinking that cheating 50% of the time = moderation.

Tell Others About Your Goals.  Don’t Keep It To Yourself.

Since I splurged a bit over the last couple days, I told myself that I would not put one thing in my body that even resembled a cheat food.  I walked by that Halloween candy pile another 34 times, but didn’t give in to temptation once.  Another motivating factor was the fact that I knew I was going to blog about what I ate today and didn’t want to look bad when I logged this for you all to read.  Sometimes “putting it out there” is great motivation and can be a very powerful tool in helping you drop a few pounds (or whatever your goal is).  I know not all of you have a website to share this kind of info, but try something like this; when you start your fitness and nutrition plan, tell a few (or many) people close to you and let them know that YOU ARE GOING to reach your goal.  That way, if you give up or don’t hit your goal, you also feel like you are letting them down.  It’s a great way to help hold yourself accountable.

Believe it or not, you (my readers) helped hold me accountable today.  Again, I knew I was going to be blogging about this later in the day and that REALLY helped me walk away from the Halloween candy.  So thanks for the help my peeps! :)

What I Ate On This “Bounce Back Day”

First Feeding #1

- ~ 1 cup of oatmeal

-apple slices mixed in

- ~ 1/4 scoop of chocolate protein powder (cinnamon added)

-4 whole eggs

Supplements: 1 fish oil capsule (just under a gram of combined EPA/DHA) + 1 Vitamin D Capsule (1000 IUs)

Green Tea with 1 tsp of creatine (sometime between feeding #1 and #2)

Feeding #2

- ~ 3 ounces of steak (grass-fed)

- ~ 3 ounces of turkey

- 1 small/medium red potato

- green beens + broccoli (organic)

Snacked on a YouBar as I was driving around doing some errands.

Feeding #3

- ~ 8 ounces of beef (grass-fed)

-2 Ezekiel English Muffins with almond butter spread on them

-green beens + broccoli

- ~ 10 almonds

Supplements – 1 tsp Carlson Liquid Fish Oil (lemon flavored) (1.3 grams combined EPA/DHA)

Feeding #4

-2 scoops whey protein powder (chocolate)

-2 strawberries + a handful of raspberries (both organic)

- ~ big spoonful of almond butter

-1 scoop of Superfood (veggie powder)

All mixed into a blender – tasty!

On top of this I had a bunch of water all day.

So there you have it, a typical day of what I eat.

Look similar to what you put down your pie hole on a daily basis?  You eat cleaner than me?  Does a day in my eating life look WAAAAY more clean than yours?  Let me know!

And don’t forget the above message… put your goals out there for others to hear.  It will really help you stick with it!

Follow me on twitter >>> @DannyMcLarty

An Interview with Jen Comas Keck: Girl Gone Strong

October 27, 2011 by danny · 9 Comments 

I have a GREAT interview for you today.  I tracked down Jen Comas Keck, and not surprisingly, she delivered in a big way. Jen is a great inspiration to all the females out there (and to many males as well)!  Jen puts a big emphasis on weight training, which has been a key factor in achieving her outstanding physique.  She proves that females can lift hard and heavy, and still look feminine and beautiful.  With that said, lets get to it…

1)   Jen, what got you involved with fitness?

I was insanely lazy when I was a teenager. I was a book worm and all I wanted to do was read and eat junk food. I despised the idea of doing anything physically active. While I had nearly straight A’s in every class, I failed gym class not once, but twice! I started packing on the pounds and when I was 17 years old somebody that I was very close to looked me in the eyes one day and said, “Ya know, you’re getting kinda fat.” I was completely devastated and cried my eyes out. The next day I begged my mom to help me get a membership to the gym, to which she obliged. I didn’t have a clue as to where I should begin, so I started taking aerobics classes. I was intimidated by the people in the weight room, so I’d go back to the gym around 8 or 9pm when nobody was there and I’d mess around with the machines and the weights. I initially fell in love with group fitness classes, so much so that I started instructing. I taught every class you could ever think of while living in Las Vegas, up to 13 classes per week, and had the time of my life! I decided I also wanted to work with people individually and got my personal trainer certification from NASM and started training clients, which I also loved. I’ve always been eager to challenge myself which led me to my first Figure competition and that is when I fell in love with strength training.

2)   What are some of the early training mistakes that you made?

The biggest mistake I made was doing way too much cardio, thinking it would melt fat off of my body. I was cranking out around 5 hours of cardio a day for an entire year while I was teaching classes, and I think I lost a whopping total of 2 pounds!

3)   And how did you modify your training to “turn things around” with your physique?

Late 2008 is when I did my first Figure show and I became obsessed with strength training. In early 2009, I abandoned all cardio and starting following DeFranco’s Westside for Skinny Bastards program. This is an awesome and simple to follow program that is geared towards gaining strength. It is centered around the “three big lifts”, which are squat, bench and deadlift. I gained a ton of strength, lost significant body fat and realized that this style of training is the golden ticket to a nice physique.

4)   What do you consider to be a couple of the biggest mistakes that females make in regards to their training and nutrition?

Most females make the same big mistakes that I made. They think that cardio will get them their dream body, and they think that they can out-train a poor diet. Neither has an ounce of truth. I feel like the paradigm is slowly starting to shift and women are starting to see that that an ideal physique is created in the weight room… not on the cardio machines or in the classes! In regards to nutrition, women make the mistake of under eating, and it’s all of the wrong foods – too many carbs, not enough protein or veggies, and too many processed foods like granola bars and yogurt. If I could offer just two pieces of nutrition advice for women, they would be:

1. Eat whole, unprocessed foods.

2. Eat vegetables with every single meal, no exceptions.

5)   Alright, lets have a little fun…

-What’s the one cheat food that you have a hard time saying no to?  And how do you avoid “going there” too often?

I have the world’s biggest sweet tooth! My favorite thing in the world is probably carrot cake, with cinnamon rolls coming in a close second. However, I have recently eliminated gluten from my diet, which has caused my new obsession to be chocolate covered nuts. Whole Foods has chocolate covered pecans and they are so good that I dream about them! I never keep foods that are “off limits” in our house so I don’t have the option to consume them without planning for it.

-Speaking of food, I know you have a ton of great, healthy recipes.  Care to share one of your favorites with us?

Yes! I’m very passionate about making clean treats to keep people sane while dieting. I also like to create delicious stuff in hopes that people will offer these to their children instead of sugary candy and cookies. I have so many recipes that I love, but I think my favorite is the pumpkin muffins. They are perfect right now for fall and delicious topped with natural peanut butter. They are gluten, dairy and sugar free, and I swear that you’d never know it!

-What is the one exercise that pumps you up the most to perform?

Deadlifts! They are, what I feel to be, the most bang for your buck. They work every muscle in your body and make you stronger overall. If somebody was only going to do one of the three big lifts, I’d highly recommend the deadlift. Something about locking out a heavy deadlift just feels so good and empowering!

-What is the one exercise that you dread to perform – but of course, you do it anyway, right?

Uh oh! Getting called out on this one! ;) Truthfully, I hate to squat. I always have. Of course I force myself to do it albeit not as often as I probably should, which is why I’m pretty awful at them.

-As you walk onto the stage in a competition you have people in the crowd and all the judges, well, judging you; what area of your body do you feel best about?

My mom has the most beautiful legs I’ve ever seen and lucky for me she passed her genetics on down. That, paired with the fact that I absolutely hammer my legs twice per week, has blessed me with a set of legs that I’m pretty proud of.

And we all have that one area that just won’t cooperate the way want it to.  Yours is?

Without doubt, it’s my midsection. My legs and back stay pretty lean, even if my weight swings upwards about 10 pounds, but in order for my abs to be visible, I’ve got to be around or below 15%  .

6) Switching gears to the performance side of things, what are your current PRs (Personal Records) in the:

-Deadlift – 295 (it just kills me that I didn’t go for 300 that day!)

-Bench Press – 145. I’ve attempted 150 twice over the last 6 months and barely missed it both times. 150 will be mine before this year is over!

(Danny’s Note: A few hours after we finished up this interview, Jen sent me an e-mail saying that she hit 15o pounds in the bench press!  Wow, talk about the power of putting a goal in writing – nice job Jen!)

-Squat – 215. I haven’t tested my squat max in about a year, so this is from last November.

7) What does your future in the field of fitness look like for you?  Where can the readers find out more about you, Jen?

I have a fitness bucket list that seems to keep growing! There is so much I want to do. I am definitely planning on participating in Tri-Fitness next fall, and I can see myself doing some type of Strongwoman event and/or Powerlifting meet in the interim.

On another similar topic, I’ve recently teamed up with 6 amazing and strong females to create a women’s mastermind strength group called, “Girls Gone Strong”. We plan on putting on seminars & workshops, educating women on strength training and building a strong female network and support system. Our website should be up by the beginning of next year.

To find out more about me, you can visit my website www.JenComasKeck.com , where I have all of my recipes, articles and interviews posted. You can also find my daily training log on EliteFTS.com, hear me ramble in 140 characters on Twitter, or find me either at Facebook.com/jencomaskeck or under our female strength fan page which is Facebook.com/GirlsGoneStrong.

Danny’s Note – It is GREAT to see females like Jen passing on the message that embracing weight training will not make a girl “too big.”  And that when done properly with progressive overload (and a solid nutrition plan), weight training plays a HUGE role in building a healthy and attractive female body!  Girls like Jen have been a big inspiration to some of my young female clients over the years.  Here’s a video of my client Coco, lifting 300 pounds in the rack pull…

One less female that we have to worry about becoming a “cardio queen!” :)

Thanks for the interview, Jen!

For more training, nutrition, and basketball information, you can find Danny on Twitter.

The Mental Side of Fat Loss

October 7, 2011 by danny · Leave a Comment 

This is going to be short and sweet.

Improving your physique starts with your mental approach.  How you view yourself is a big key in getting to your fat loss goals.

The other day I read a really good article written by Mike Roussell .  In it, he wrote…

Some say abs are built in the kitchen. Some say a lean body is forged in the gym. I think that both are created in your mind first. Dieting down and getting lean is made in those moments when no one is around. When it’s 10:30 at night, you’re a little tired, a little bored, and you want to eat something. What are you going to do?

If you see yourself as a fat ass, then you’re going to get off the couch, go to the kitchen, and forget all the sacrifices for the day as you eat your kid’s left over peanut butter and jelly sandwich. If you see yourself as a lean driven motivated person, you’re going to get off the couch and go to bed so that you can improve your glucose tolerance. Mental confidence and how you view yourself is key.

The power of the mind.  That’s the way life is – if you believe in yourself you CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN.  Great message by Mike!

Have a great weekend and I’ll see you next week!