Category Archives: Training

cropped-1190-weight-bar-facebook-cover

SuperHuman Strength: Update

 

After 3 months, here are my figures for the end of December (see original post HERE)

1. Bench Press – 175 (15 pound increase)

2. Military Press – 120 (20 pound increase)

3. Squat – 250 (30 pound increase)

4. Deadlift – 260 (30 pound increase)

 

 

Supplements taken for the first 3 months of the program have been whey protein, BCAAs, L-Glutamine, and a pharmaceutical grade Creatine Monohydrate, prepared by my brother, a registered pharmacist.

Creatine is a naturally occurring substance produced by the body’s liver and helps to make adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which provides the energy for muscle contractions. Also found in foods such as meat and fish or in supplement form, creatine is known to improve strength, increase lean muscle mass, and help the muscles recover more quickly during exercise. It is used by top tier athletes and is now being tested as a treatment for heart ailments and neuromuscular disorders.

The most important things of the strength challenge (aside from the creatine of course):

1. FORM

Invest in at least one private lesson with a personal trainer and go over the form for all the lifts and some good warm-up exercises to reduce risk of injury and increase performance.

 

2. DE-LOADING

The last week of every month is called “de-loading” and it is astonishingly hard to go to the gym and do 5 reps at a weight that doesn’t even a break a sweat. Trust me, it will pay dividends.

 

3. CONSISTENCY

Strength gains are a long road and it’s important to stay focused on form and mental toughness. Don’t go too fast or you’ll injure yourself; but don’t go too slow or you won’t make progress. Find that steady increase which works for you.

 

Life & Fitness: One Man’s Quest For Strength

I think one of my favourite parts about fitness is the linear transparency it has.

There are countless things in life where people say “what you put in is what you get out,” but in reality, it’s usually not true, as there are numerous variables that must be accounted for.

Fitness, on the other hand, allows things to be planned and regimented to the most minute details and does well to remove a substantial amount of those variables. It’s one of the few things in life where you can set your goal, plan your course of action, and then achieve it. Achieving one’s goal is a phenomenal feeling and results in the desire and motivation to succeed in other facets of life. Success breeds success, which is why fitness is so important in one’s daily life.

For the better part of the past decade, my main goals in fitness have revolved around “gaining” (a.k.a. putting on weight, preferably in the form of lean muscle mass). Very aesthetic focused, less-focused on strength and performance. A debilitating knee injury a few years ago caused my priorities to shift more onto performance and less on aesthetics. Since then I’ve slowly phased out the bodybuilding regimens for more athlete-catered, full-body workouts.

This brings me to my current goal: Strength.

 

“Use your BODY every way you can, it is the greatest instrument you will EVER own.”

-Baz Luhrman (Sunscreen)

 

The human body is a remarkable thing. Why not push it and see what it can really do?

 

 

 

The Quest for SuperHuman Strength Gains

The regimen is inspired by Jim Wendler’s 5-3-1 as seen HERE

The 5-3-1 is rather simple, focusing on FOUR movements. I have provided my training maximums for the “Big 4″ when I started the program in October:

 

1. Bench Press – 160lbs

2. Military Press – 100lbs

3. Squat – 220lbs

4. Deadlift – 230lbs

 

The program requires 4 workouts a week, with each day based around the ONE compound movement, then followed up with other exercises of your choice, usually to compliment it. For example, on Squat day I will perform the squats as per the 5-3-1 regimen, and then finish the day with a superset of 1-legged squats, box jumps, and single leg dead lifts (all leg movements). That way I can be fully rested for chest day, if I wanted to do it the day after. The goal is to lift as much as possible, so the key is to not get carried away. Focus on the big lifts, the others are just extra.

What separates this program from all the others I’ve done in the past is its longevity. In order to see drastic strength increases, you need to put in the time. 5-3-1 is designed to be a year-long program, with steady strength increases over the course of 12 months. This may seem “less drastic,” however, a 10-pound increase each month for a year results in a 120-pound strength gain–very drastic indeed. I’m used to doing 1-month programs; the discipline for a year will be, bar none, the hardest part of this strength challenge for me.

 

Bikini Body Blitz

After over a year of macho, testosterone-charged posts and challenges, I am happy to announce New Age Hero’s first ever female blog post, courtesy of friend, med school student and fitness enthusiast, Andrea Wasilewski.

 

Bikini Body Blitz

 

Andrea

This blog is all about the New Age Hero- and what’s more new age than a heroine? I’m honoured to be the first female contributor to New Age Hero and hope to show all the girls out there that muscles aren’t just for the boys!

After years of working out I’ve come to realize that personal fitness is one area in which you can’t cheat to get ahead.  If you eat a cookie- the scale knows. If you skip a few workouts, well like Shakira said- your hips don’t lie.  Achieving results takes time, diligence and unfortunately a lot of saying NO. But fitness is one area that when you put in the effort the results are beautiful.

 

With that said ladies, bikini season is right around the corner! So it’s time to dust off those Nikes, put down the cupcakes and pick up some weights. In preparation for my trip to Ibiza (hello nude beaches!) I’ve decided to start a 30 day fitness challenge to a rock hard bikini bod.

Before I get into the specifics, let me just say that taking on a fitness challenge is sure to fail if you don’t have a well outlined plan with specific and, most importantly, realistic goals.  Girls, I know stepping on a scale can be traumatizing so here’s some good news. Throw out the scales! The numbers on a scale don’t mean much here- we’re looking for specific measurements of progress: circumferential measurements. Measure your arm, waist, hip and thigh circumference once a week- on the same day and time each week! This is by far the best way to track your progress.

 

Starting Point:

Weight: 64 kg, Height: 177 cm

BMI: 20.4 kg/m2

Biceps: 26 cm

Waist: 67 cm

Hips: 88 cm

Thighs: 52 cm

 

Workout Plan

Weight training is a MUST if you want to build muscle, increase you BMR and burn fat. The fact is that most girls are scared of weights because they think they’ll end up looking like Arnold. This is FALSE. Weight training will give you definition and toning; and because of our low testosterone levels, looking like Sylvester Stallone is virtually impossible.

 

I will be doing high intensity weight training workouts 3 times per week with 3 days of cardio in between and 1 day of rest.  My workouts are mostly Cross Fit based using a combination of kettle bells, dumbbells, weighted bags and TRX. Follow the link to videos of some of my favorite exercises:

CrossFit Exercises

To increase the effort in your workouts follow each set with a 1.5 min fast walk on an incline (incline of 5 on a treadmill at least). This walk is your break- so use this time to drink some water and prepare for the next set.

Running, swimming or any activities that get your heart rate up are acceptable for the cardio days. I prefer to run on a treadmill for 45 min to an hour and aim to cover at least 7 km each run.

 

DIET

Putting in the hours at the gym is essential but it’s your diet that will make or break you.  I’ve had a lot of success with the Lean Gains diet in the past and I think it is the perfect counterpart to this fitness challenge. Lean Gains is all about maximizing your body’s ability to burn its own fat, You do this by altering the release of metabolic hormones, by breaking up your day into 2 zones: the fasting and feeding zones. You can check out the diet here:

Lean Gains

 

Fasting zone (16 hours)

This part is easy. Just don’t eat for 16 hours! It might take some getting used to, but I suggest including the time spent sleeping in the fasting zone. When you fast your body releases less insulin and this causes an increase in growth hormone. More growth hormone= more fat burned. You can NOT eat during this time but make sure to drink plenty of water! Coffee and tea (no milk or sugar) are also allowed.

 

Feeding zone (8 hours)

You are allotted 8 hours in the day for eating. You can eat anytime within those 8 hours and are generally encouraged to eat a pretty large amount of food. Below I’ll give an example of a typical diet I consume. It’s very important to maintain the feeding and fasting zones to maximize your body’s metabolism! Choosing the times you want to use for your zones completely depends on your lifestyle, so pick something that works for you!

Unfortunately, alcohol is not a feature of this plan.  Unless you’re living the dream and day drinking, alcohol and partying will probably land in your fasting zone anyways. Nobody said this was going to be easy…

 

Sample diet:

Fasting zone: 6 pm – 10 am

Feeding zone: 10 am- 6 pm

 

Non-training day (1740 kcal)

  1. 150 g turkey breast + 50g brown rice + 2 tbsp olive oil
  2. 300 mL plain yogurt + 100g cottage cheese + 100 g granola with dried fruit
  3. 4 whole eggs + 2 egg whites + 2 rice cakes
  4. 1 protein shake

 

Training day (2150 kcal)

  1. 150 g turkey breast + 50 g brown rice + 3 tbsp olive oil
  2. 300 mL plain yogurt + 100g cottage cheese + 100 g granola with dried fruit
  3. 6 whole eggs + 3 rice cakes
  4. 2 protein shakes

 

Vegetables are unlimited and can be eaten in any amounts during the feeding zone. Also make sure to stay hydrated! I aim to drink 3 L of water a day.

Well there you have it! Wish me luck and check in regularly as I’ll be posting progress updates.

See you at the beach!

DTP: Eat Clean, Train Dirty

Check out my original post explaining the DTP program first!

After 4 intense weeks I finally finished the DTP program. It was very different from my previous routine but I loved it! I gained muscle and lost fat resulting in

 I started the program at 178lbs and ended at 184lbs. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to calculate my body fat % at the beginning of the program, however, a few days after I finished (post 2 nights of drinking and binge eating!) I ended with 12.5% body fat. I did stick to every workout, and my diet was generally healthy. That being said, there were one or two nights out with alcohol and a couple cheat meals. I was impressed with my results and I would definitely recommend this program to anyone who has either hit a plateau or just wants a fresh change.

 

What I liked about the program:

  • The workouts were short but very intense
  • I could see improvements after each week (increasing weights for exercises)
  • Very simple to follow, and minimal equipment was required
  • Foam rolling significantly improved my legs, specifically calf definition which has always been a problem for me
  • Leg day was my favourite day, just because I have never pushed myself that hard even when I was doing squats
What I didn’t like about the program
There wasn’t anything truly negative about the program. Certain aspects of the program take time to adjust to; you have to be accommodating if you want to follow the program strictly.
For example:
  • The cardio sessions significantly increased my appetite, I woke up and ate 1 or 2 times in the middle of the night almost every night. This got a little annoying…
  • I don’t like going to the gym just for 20 minutes of cardio and not lifting weights, I felt like I could do so much more since I was already there but I didn’t
  • Chest and back on the same day, I did see results in the end, but I am stubborn and will return to splitting them
Soreness:
The day after each workout the specific muscle groups were very sore, the exercises really isolated each muscle group which was fantastic. My legs were constantly sore for the 4 weeks because of the cardio on rest days. No joke, it was a struggle to get out of bed a few times.
The mental aspect:
The absolute requirement for this program is a hard work ethic. This might sound cheesy but it’s true. To really gain muscle the last sets and reps count the most. DTP forces you to go to failure every set, at a specific amount of reps. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to drop a weight so badly because my muscles were sore. However, with a specific rep target, I forced myself to that number every time. I know a few years ago if I were to do this, I would have probably called it quits way before hitting that target, which would mean less gains. To be honest, your not working hard enough unless your making some weird faces or letting out a grunt when reaching failure. Why do you think you hear tennis players grunting after each swing; it’s because they are working their asses off.
More specifics for the nerd

Before DTP, I was lifting heavy, with long rest times. DTP is a mix of lifting heavy, with high reps and short rest times. The whole idea behind DTP is to put your body into shock, making it adjust and grow in response to the shock. Let me explain:

Essentially, muscles contain two types of fibers, slow-twitch (Type 1) and fast-twitch (Type 2a + 2b)

Slow-twitch fibers help to sustain your muscles over a long activity period, these provide fatigue resistance. ex. marathon runners.

Fast-twitch fibers generate a high amount of force in a short period of time. ex. sprinters

If like me, you constantly do a high weight and low number of reps with a long break, the primary fibers strained are the fast-twitch fibers. This leaves the slow-twitched fibers unstressed. So why train the slow-twitch fibers? Well, training more muscle fibers means greater overall gains in strength and muscle mass. That is the goal of this program. By increasing the amount of reps, and decreasing the rest time, you start to strain your slow-twitched fibers. This will allow them to grow along side your fast-twitch fibers.

 

Conclusion

Overall I would give this a program a 9/10 rating, just because nothing is perfect. I will definitely be doing this again, but for now it’s time to get cutting, Ibiza in 3 weeks!

Happy hulking!

 

 

 

 

Dramatic Transformation Principle

Ok boys and girls, this is my first post so I hope you like it. After months of going back and forth, sharing progress reports, photos, and ridiculous conversations, Bear has convinced me to make a blog post. Time to put aside the med school text books and hit the world of blogging.

This is only about half of them.

Anyway, over the past couple of years I have never followed a strict routine at the gym. I added in exercises here and there, made some adjustments and did what I thought worked best for my body. My diet has been relatively healthy and stable even with the limited time I have in school. Until recently, this satisfied me, but after time everyone hits a plateau, I have reached mine. So I figured it was time to try something I read about during the summer, the Dramatic Transformation Principle. In short, this 4 week program is a combination of high reps and high weights. There are 4 days of weight lifting each week, with a cardio day separating each of those days. You have to leave your ego at the door, no more maxing your bench press, sorry dudes.

  • Day 1: Legs, Upper Abs
  • Day 2: Cardio
  • Day 3: Chest, Back
  • Day 4: Cardio
  • Day 5: Arms, Lower Abs
  • Day 6: Cardio
  • Day 7: Shoulders, Upper Traps

 

I wont describe that many more details of the actual program because the link I provided has everything you need to know about it.

As of right now, I weigh approximately 178lbs, max bench press (with the bar): 245lbs, incline bench (dumbbell total): 220lbs, squat: 265lbs. Deadlift: Not sure sure since I have never gone for a max.

Currently, I just finished day 2/28. Day 1 was a total of 360 reps of leg press, 220 reps of calf press, and decline crunches

It’s pretty tough to pick a good weight to start with because of the amount of reps you are doing, and the superset with calf press, but you get the hang of it quickly. The point is to end each set to failure with 45sec to 1.5 min breaks. The work out takes about 45 minutes to complete.

  • Leg Press 10 sets of 50,40,30,20,10,10,20,30,40,50 reps
Today was day 2/28. It was weird going to the gym and not lifting a weight but I want to follow this program as closely as possible. The program suggests different forms to complete the cardio and I chose the treadmill.
3 minutes jogging, then 1 minute of running for a total of 20 minutes.
I started my 3 minute jog at 10km/h, and my 1 minute sprint at 14 km/h. I worked myself up to a 14km/h jog and 18km/h run for the last 2 cycles. I always put the treadmill on an incline of 1 just to make it a little more realistic to running on flat ground.
As of now, my legs are still sore, but I can’t wait for tomorrow, chest and back day!

 

In terms of diet, I am trying to eat as healthy as possible. Of course there are going to be some slip ups for those nights out, or going to restaurants; but for the most part it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
For this 4 week program I will be on whey protein powder, creatine, BCAA’s and using 1MR for my pre-workout.
Supplements

Well, it’s time to finish cooking up this week’s meals and then get back to the books. Stay tuned, results of the DTP challenge will be posted in 4 weeks time! Happy Hulking!

Barefoot Running

It’s finally Spring time and with the warmer weather and occasional sunshine we all feel a little inclined to throw on a pair of headphones, some Top Guns Charity shades and go for a jog outside.

We all know running will help us shred some pounds for beach season, but the real question is: What should we be wearing (or not wearing) on our feet?

For the past year I’ve been intrigued by the Barefoot/Minimalist running revolution which has taken the world by storm. In fact, the barefoot/minimalist industry has grown to a worth of 1.7 billion dollars and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. The movement can be greatly credited to the National bestselling book “Born to Run” by Chris McDougall, chronicling the life of the Tarahumara tribe who run for days without injury on bare feet.

Last year, I got caught up in the craze and thought that simply changing my running shoes would be the cure to all my running ailments (stiff IT bands, shin splints, etc.). I picked up a pair of Nike Frees and started running the chip trail like I was Steve Prefontaine the 2nd.  Of course, within a week the splints were back, I was stiff as a cadaver and promptly returned to cycling and hockey to get my cardiovascular fix. My problem wasn’t so much my shoes as it was my style of running.

The entire notion of running shoes is actually quite ironic. I tried to find actual studies supporting the science behind cushioned heels, arch support, etc. that were boasted by the running shoes we grew up on. I remember being told that you should replace your running shoe every 3-6 months, once the cushion in it is gone, to avoid injury. The findings were simply not there, there was zero science behind it; just a marketing-driven industry which was growing out of control. I’m no expert, but my theory is that these cushioned, high-tech shoes killed the natural technique, which exists in all of us. If you’re like me, then you do a heel-toe strike and can be heard from up the block. Throwing on a pair of minimalist shoes isn’t going to help if I’m running like that; in fact they’ll only make things worse. What minimalist shoes do help, however, is encouraging that light and natural running style.

These are a pair of Nike Free Trainer shoes. They’re very thin and flexible, but still possess a little bit of cushion and form. I think they’re a great shoe to begin running form correction, before transitioning to something more minimal like Vibrams

So, how do I use minimalist shoes and return to my god-given natural way of injury free running?

Well, like I said, I’m no expert, but luckily my man Jairus Streight is…

____________________________________________________________________

A Word from Jairus.

Hey Bear & Deep Dan, Thanks for having me back.

It’s true that running minimalism has become an overwhelmingly popular theory amongst recreational and competitive runners in the past few years, but in order to part take in this “fad” in a way that is of benefit to you and your health, a fundamental understanding of how we got to this idea in the first place is needed:

1. Running is a natural movement to human beings, and one of our greatest evolutionary strengths (Did you know, there is no land species on the planet that can outlast us in running ENDURANCE?). Our muscular system and cardiovascular abilities as humans are what lead us to become dominant hunters, and in places like Africa (where farmers don’t have horses….ever think about that?), being a strong runner was an important evolutionary trait to becoming a successful farmer, and rounding up your cattle on foot. The idea of “minimialism” comes from the attempt to move as much as possible ‘in tune’ with our body’s natural physiological attributes that give us this ability to run longer than most species. To run well, you need to be efficient, and what better way to develop efficiency, than to run as naturally as possible? So…. the question remains: Can minimalist footwear running help your run better? In short, yes. It ‘can’ help to promote more efficient stride biomechanics, which will in turn help you to be a more ‘natural runner’. The problem is, as grown young men/women, we look to make this transition too quickly. Often times, our bodies are not ready for such a drastic change.

 

2. Heavy heel striking is generally bad. It causes a lot of force on the knee join, and is one of the leading causes of knee pain in runners. In order to become a more ‘biomechanically sound’ runner, it would be beneficial to avoid heel striking while running. While this can be accomplished through “barefoot” style running, which forces you to land more on the “balls” of your feet; it can also be accomplished by CHANGING the way your foot interacts with the ground, without the need to downgrade in shoe technologies. (See point 3) While a knee injury can be a hard one, making the shift to running on your forefoot too quickly has a higher probability of causing you chronic Achilles Tendon issues, from which you may never fully recover….

 

3. (Most of us) have grown up for 20+ years with “diapers” on our feet. What makes us think we can go about changing that all of the sudden? An instantaneous change in structural support to the foot would certainly not be the answer. If you are interested in transitioning to minimalist technologies for running, you need to be PATIENT and a mindful of the degree to which you make the change. Volume, intensity, and surfaces you run on are all things to be moderated, and taken into consideration when making a transition to running in less ‘support’. Look to avoid concrete and asphalt surfaces, and stick to softer surfaces such as grass, woodchip, and park trails.

 

4. The running is simple. No really, it’s actually SO simple that often times people who aren’t as natural at it are simply OVERTHINKING it. The basic movements: You extend your knee in front of you, and perform a ‘sweep’ of your foot that lands as close to beneath your pelvis as possible, plant the MIDDLE of your foot- not the heel, nor the balls of the toes, you then apply muscular ‘force’ against the ground, pushing off your hips, extend your leg behind you in a spring-like movement. After leaving the ground, you allow your leg to recoil under you by initiating a knee drive that again lifts your (now opposite) knee back out in front of you- in essence, a series of “timely bounds. Ta-da! You are running. Don’t overthink it! If you are figuring out how to run, keeping it simple will be best practice to becoming a better runner.

 

5. Your body’s functional strength is important to preventing injury- one of the ways we get ‘stronger’ is by running MORE, but without ‘overdoing it’. I work with Olympic level athletes, as well as my own college age athletes, and the one of the greatest ‘tricks’ is knowing how much to run that will keep you getting stronger, but avoid you from getting injured. Believe it or not, building strength in your CORE can help with this (when you run, what are you pushing off of? The ground! And what does the ground push back against? Your core! Think about it like pushing off against a wall), thus making sure you keep your core strength maintained is key if you hope to be running more often.

Thanks for having me, and if you have any specific questions, fire them off on to me on Twitter!  @jairusstreight

 

____________________________________________________________________

 

Well, there you have it. Now get off the couch and get moving on your two god given legs!

Crossfit

You know the craze, we’ve all seen those Reebok CrossFit commercials, branding themselves as the “Sport of Fitness.” You’ve probably encountered a CrossFit enthusiast, telling you how awesome their workouts are, or how much better they are than you (kind of reminds you of vegans). Well, I’m never one to give up meat, so vegans, the score will not be settled anytime soon. As for a new and supposedly life-changing way of working out? That I can try. As of Monday, I will be starting my own CrossFit 30 day challenge. I’m curious to see what it’s all about, if it’s as amazing as its hardcores say it is and if I’ll really never go back to a normal gym after I’ve given it a shot.

So what exactly is CrossFit?

I wish I’d done the research before my introductory class on Wednesday and I would have known it’s far more intense than a Thursday pre-bar workout at good old Ian Stewart Complex, a.k.a. the ABC’s (Abs, Biceps, Chest). I showed up, got a brief rundown on the CrossFit culture and then was thrown into action.

A 400m sprint with a 20lb medicine ball, max pushups in 1 minute, max sit-ups in 1 minute, max pull-ups, and then finishing things off with the brutal Tabata Squats.

Less than a 30-minute workout and I was seconds away from ralphing and my legs are still the sorest they’ve been in recent memory. It should be an interesting month…

For your convenience, I have taken the definition of CrossFit from its website:

CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program using functional movements (no isolation exercises, i.e. bicep curls) that are constantly varied (no routine) and executed at a high intensity. CrossFit focuses on 3 modalities, Gymnastics, i.e. pull-ups, pushups, dips, medicine ball throws, plyo-box jumps, handstand pushups etc., Cardiovascular conditioning,  i.e. running, jumping, swimming, biking, rowing, etc., and Weight Lifting ,i.e. squats, deadlifts, clean and jerk, snatch etc.  CrossFit believes that the ultimate athlete is equal part, gymnast, sprinter, and weight lifter.

In CrossFit there are 10 domains of fitness: endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy.

Sounds intense.

I’m definitely looking forward to the variety that CrossFit brings forth. With its signature WOD (Workout of the Day) you do a different workout with different exercises every day. It’ll be a nice change-up from that gym routine, which we all know gets stale fast—but I will miss those casual conversations between bench press sets…

I’ll give an update at the halfway point and at the end of month, complete with photos and bodyfat calculations. We’ll see if it gets you both jacked and healthy.

As for diet, I’m going the whole nine yards and doing the Paleolithic (Paleo) diet for the next 30 days. I’m going to try my best to stick to it, but will be including dairy (I couldn’t possibly get by without my milk). For those who want to know more about the Paleo Diet, Deep Dan will be providing an in-depth post on the “Caveman” diet next week.