Increasing intensity and results

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“I workout at home. I am not buying any more equipment. How do I make the workout harder?”
“The workout my coach gave me is too easy.”

So let’s dig right in and talk about your workout and the effort you need to apply to it. For amazing results, it should be intense.  That means you should have laser focus and give 100 percent effort to your sessions.

We often see clients walking through their workouts with a very lacadasical pace.

Last week, I got a check in from a client who said “I need harder workouts”.
If you have ever thought that.. you need to work harder.  This is on you. I can give my clients a series with 5 pound weights and I anticipate they will kick their own asses with that.

I will give you some really nice ideas here now to increase your intensity and raise your game.  I’m throwing shade on that last check in..  Work harder!!  I’m squeezing so hard here.. RARRRRRRRRR
lift

Ways to increase intensity:

Lift heavier:   I gave Mary Beth 3 sets of 10 reps with her bicep curls.  She’s been doing 8 pounds on those curls for 2 months.


Your body gets used to lifting a certain amount and it adapts.  So now you need to grab a heavier weight and push your muscle to do more.

Pro Tip:  Muscle engagment. Visualize that you are lifting 100 pounds on those curls and resist!!  Squeeze.  Visualize your muscles growing!!  Connect the hardware (brain)to the soft ware (body). Tell your muscles to grow!!

Muscles grow when they are challenged!!  We have to keep on the progressive overload if we want results so keep lifting heavier!! Look for increases in strength to let you know you are building!! YES.

More reps:  Our client said she’s not investing in more weights and the 10 pounds she has to use is all she is going to use. Hmmm..

I asked her to add sets.  Progressive overload is still happening by using a more volume training approach.  She can do 4 sets of 12-15.  I promise you, she will burn out and feel that fatigue!!  If you can’t increase weight.. increase reps.

Super sets:  This is a fun way to fatigue the muscle. Fun for who?  hahahah.. It’s a burn like none other.

Marybeth was given
bicep curls 3×10
Tricep kickbacks 3×10

So she can super set them

Bicep curl 10 reps
+
Tricep kickback 10 reps
3 sets

No rest between those two moves.  A super set is just putting two moves in succession.  You can super set anything together.  After she does her superset, then she will rest. Repeat 3-4 times.

Giant set:  adding 3 or more moves in succession before you rest. It’s often called a Circuit.

Let me be clear.. if you can do more.. do more!!  If you have energy for a second workout or could go take a class.. you did not do your job. You should be spent.

Ok.. here’s one for you..
Let’s say you are doing cardio blasts at home or the gym.  You are bored or just not feeling the effort is there. You can increase intensity in your basic movement by using the  STAR method.

STAR stands for
Speed
Tempo
Air
Range of Motion (ROM)

How to do this:  
Start with a very basic move.  Any one will do.
Round 1: do your basic move.
Round 2: change the speed (faster.. slower..  up to you)
Round 3: change the tempo.. to what? Doesn’t matter. Slow, fast slow fast.. just alter the tempo.
Round 4: Add a hop or jump to it!!
Round 5: See how big the movement can be!!
My video below shows this!!

My video shows a very basic movement. It can work with any thing!! You could increase the box height too.  You could use a ladder.. you could just do super basic movements on the floor like skaters or jumping jacks.  You could use a bosu too!

How to do this for cardio.  Set your timer for 30 seconds work/ 10 seconds rest.
Pick one move then do the STAR method. That’s 5 rounds!  Or do it twice!  Mix and match rounds.. you got this..

In your weight training, you can also somewhat modify this to your lifts.  Using tempo changes, holds, less rests, more rests, all create variance in your training. Our bodies need to be pushed.

One thing to remember, you  are fully in charge of the work you are doing.  So push really hard!!!

This is Baby Iggy. He’s very sure you can train harder. So go on and do that.

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IIFYM : Secrets to Staying on Plan While You Travel

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Guest Blogger today is Sleek Body Coach Tracy Collins.

When it comes to sticking to your macros while traveling—it doesn’t have to be a struggle… it is what you make it! Don’t let “ but..I travel” be an excuse!

Plan ahead
Before you leave, make the decision made about what foods you are not willing to bend on!

Think about how many meals you will need to pack per day. If you are traveling for business, chances are you know the name of the restaurant that you will be dining at. Pull the menu up online ahead and decide what you are going to have as your meal, or call ahead and explain you have special dietary needs. Don’t feel embarrassed, or ashamed! We have goals and we are sticking to them! Trust me, your guests will respect your decision.. heck they may thank you because now they don’t feel pressured to eat something that’s not on their typical menu!

You can stick closely to the types of food you are typically eating at home. Look for the hidden fats and ask them to be removed from your food.. example: filet, ask them to cook with no oil or butter, veggies ask them to be steamed, or no oil. Salads, really read the ingredients and review everything that it contains… think about your macros… if you don’t want it, ask them to remove it!
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Alcohol

Do you know how to accurately track alcohol?  

We all know the secret to this…and I have to admit, I’m not afraid to just stick with water and lemon, or a diet soda…However you know your macros. Go in with a plan! Remember, You don’t have to take your clothes off to have a good time!

You can stick closely to the types of food you are typically eating at home. Look for the hidden fats and ask them to be removed from your food.. example: filet, ask them to cook with no oil or butter, veggies ask them to be steamed, or no oil. Salads, really read the ingredients and review everything that it contains… think about your macros… if you don’t want it, ask them to remove it!

I most always bring a packets of oatmeal and make a protein shake as my pre-workout meal. If additional carbs are needed, I pack some dried blueberries or cranberries or other fruit. Most workout facilities have fresh apples available, (but don’t count on that).

My post workout meal is usually a shake and oatmeal again if a restaurant isn’t available. Starbucks has those turkey egg white sandwiches that are Divine! (There seems to always be one close to or in the hotel)

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Really, there are so many options and I’m always up for a challenge to myself. How can I make what’s available to me work! It’s like a game of survival… Could you do it?

The Hotel
Search for hotels that offer a mini-fridge and a microwave in the room. Most will bring one to your room at no additional charge or there is a community microwave is available. (However, the Kuerig in the room is easily manipulated to my oatmeal warmer). If I had to choose between the two, I would pick a fridge.

My co-workers know when we travel a gym is super important to me, so we always check it out online before we go or search for nearby full size gyms. Obviously, a hotel most times does not offer the same equipment.

If you need additional items or want something specific, plan to make a trip to a nearby grocery store.
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What to Bring?
All food is safe to bring on an airplane, it’s how you pack it that matters. TIP: if you have a suitcase that you are checking, pack your food in a insulated lunch box with an ice pack! It will be fine!

In you carry on bag, pack an empty shaker cup, use this as your water cup throughout the day… you will also get through TSA with it being empty. Once through security, fill it up at a water fountain, or most restaurants are happy to fill it for you with ice water. (I always go in showing a few bucks in my hand) 😉

Snacks: nuts, protein bars, carrots, hummus, rice cakes, almond butter (individual packets are available) lunch meat, protein powder, jerky, apples and other favorites of yours. (Yogurt is subject to the liquid TSA rules, but is available heavily throughout most airports)

In summary, don’t stress or worry, do your best.. and learn from each trip that you take!

Coach Tracy has openings for coaching!!  Check her out here

The off-season lie no one wants to talk about.

offseason
Andreia Brazier in her show season and off season.

Let me start this post by saying this
Stage Lean is addicting. To me.. it’s like in the movies when you see a vampire taste blood for the first time.  You are on a never ending path to chase it down, own it and keep it.

Every single time I prep, I swear I’m going to stay stage lean but I don’t. It’s not real and it’s really just a moment in time for most of us.

What is stage lean, really?
If you don’t know what stage lean is, it’s extreme.Personally,  I love my physique at 5 weeks out. As I get closer to stage, I look drawn , tired, frail, tiny, quite bobble headish. On stage, under the lights, in my bikini I look huge. But in reality, it’s the smallest I’ve been since I was 11 years old.  As a women, it’s the ultimate high even though I know how I look in real life.

Stage lean is the extreme phase of body building where you are at your very best, displaying all your hard work and feeling like you own the world.  It’s important to be extremely lean so that your muscle show and you can be judged on them!! I’m not thin. I’m not naturally athletic. I’m not an outlier. I’m not someone any of this comes easy to.

Those few moments in time are everything.  I will take on everything about prep, dieting, training to own those moments.   Seeing your hard work makes it all worth it!

What is off season?

Off season or improvement season is for building muscle and getting gains! It’s important as competitive athletes to work to improve our package each year.  To do so, we must eat and lift.  In a caloric deficit, we are fighting to keep the muscle we have. That means for most of us, in our prep, we are working hard to save the muscle we have! No muscle is growing!

To achieve gains, we must be in a surplus of calories and that’s how we grow!

A solid off season weight would be 8-10 pounds over stage weight.

We are hopeful that post show, we can do our reverse diet properly and move into a lean bulk. For many, it’s simple. For some..not so much.

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The lie: 
The internet provides us some pretty intense  fitness inspiration.   My Instagram feed is all about body building competitions so I have a steady diet of lean, ripped , physiques to keep me motivated.   When you finish your show season and begin your lean bulk, it’s very easy  to get discouraged and feel like you are failing because you don’t look shredded  like the  InstaStars .

So many of our fellow competitors find that post show, they experience the blues and they feel fluffy because now they now comparing their physique to their stage weight.

This certainly has the potential create body  body dysmorphia!

“Look at her.. If she can stay ripped all year, why can’t I? Why am I failing?”

Thoughts
Someone I admire very much made a post that really brought it home for me..
What if, post competition you were normal? What if you gained a little weight back, you don’t look stage lean and you just  ate at your maintenance macros. Because we are looking at the InstaStars who appear to stay stage lean all year round, we have a skewed view of what is actually normal. His point was, the majority do gain in off season and don’t stay stage lean. So while feeling like we are the ones who aren’t normal.. we actually are. Most of us do, eat, lift and build!!

Chasing the dragon:  As body builders  we laugh and say
Welcome to the world where you are
1. never lean enough
2. never big enough
3. your abs are never good enough

There are athletes out there who never take the time for their bodies to recover. They don’t take grow seasons and they don’t improve. But, recovery is important. As athletes we should take at least the same amount of weeks we dieted to recover. I have a full year between my shows. My body could not take less. One year I did an 18 month off season.
Recovery and improvement are good things. They just don’t look very glamorous!

Judgement: I see posts from athletes who are feeling so strong as they compete then their feed in off season becomes apologetic.  #offseason  #fluffy  #bulking
Off season doesn’t and shouldn’t look like stage lean!   Why are we judging our fellow athletes when they are doing what they are supposed to do ? EAT and lift heavy weights!
Growing a booty means feeding that booty.  Gains come from surplus!
What we can do:
Be kind to ourselves.  Stop listening to the noise of what the InstaStars present. They are not directing it at us. They are selling sups, menus, workout pants. Of course they are going to present their ultimate package all year. They have sponsors!
Also..We do not know these people and their feed could be posts from their prep,  or their photo shoot time frame.  We do not know if they are lean naturally. We do not know if they are enhanced.  We do not know if their pics are enhanced.  Comparison is the thief of joy!

Change the channel: One of my bikini athletes had a great idea. She scaled back her Insta feed to reflect only natural athletes she knew.  This is a protection of her spirit!  She is committed to bring the best HER possible and the unknown variables of InstaStars are distracting!!

Plans: We can focus on the goals of our next competition.  Eating with purpose to support the gains we need to help us come in stronger.   This is when I feel like I’m most challenged as an athlete. Keeping my focus when my body image is low.

Support: I love having a team. We support each other because we know how this feels.  We can keep each other grounded as we navigate this  part of the journey!  There are facebook groups that are very good support systems for competitors. Not all of them are, but if you find like minded friends it can help you feel less like an island!

I wish you luck in your competition journey. I know you are working so hard!

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Top Supplements for fat loss

It’s that time of year!  The Supplement stores are excited to see you coming in and part with all your hard earned cash.  I know you are in search of the magic pills to make you lean and tight.

So  I want to give you the scoop on supplementation and it’s place in fitness weight loss.
The first thing I want to say is

Supplements are for supplementation. They are NOT the solution to your problems.
I do not believe in starting my clients on any supplements until we have gotten their food worked out.
Don’t waste your money on magic pills when you haven’t put down the fast food.
You cannot out train a bad diet and you cannot out supplement one either.

But…

Dr. Oz gets a check. #truth
Dr. Oz gets a check. #truth

Stop listening to Dr. Oz, Oprah, Dr. Phil, Real Housewives and infomercials!
Now, I realize that Dr. Oz is a popular guy and while I believe he knows some things and he’s got a friendly face, I don’t think he really embraces  a brand new fat loss cure every single day of the week. There cannot be that many cures or we’d all be cured from belly fat.  Dr. Oz gets a check. So does Jillian Michaels. Uh-oh! I’m in trouble now. I’ve said something negative about the ‘World’s Toughest Trainer’.
*eye roll*

Supplementation products are terrific in theory. You can wander into Target, Walgreens or GNC and find products that promise you everything  you want. I want you to stop for a second and drink this in. If a product has a famous face on it, it is called a “licensed” product. That means the  celebrity that is ‘endorsing’ it got a check. Many times the product ends up being very kitchen sink-y. The product might have more fillers or less  quality ingredients because the company has to pay for the licensing rights.

So.. walk past those products. A personal side note.. please never give the Kardashian family a dime for any fitness related products. *shakes head* Jillian I get.

So where shall I go?
Return policy is #1
I live in St. Louis and the two competing entities in our area are GNC and Supplement Super Store.
I really like them both, but I recommend GNC for my clients for one solid reason. The return policy is great at GNC. There is no ‘official’  return policy at SS2. Quality products are an investment so if you find a product that doesn’t suit your system or you don’t care for, you need the opportunity to get it right. This is absolutely not an indictment of stores that don’t have a return policy. I have had clients who have reactions to high quality products and it’s hard to let go of 75 dollars for whey protein you can’t use. Begin your search in a store that has a return policy.

But I want some supplements because it’s January and I’m on a diet.
January is awesome. You feel all energized and ready to go. Supplements are deeply discounted for this reason. So I’m trusting that you have  your meal plans in order. I also trust that you are not going to be falling for the cardio only workout of weight loss. So if you are solid and ready to get started some supplements, alright!

I can help you with your meal plans!

 

Do you take a multi?
Take a multivitamin every day. I use GNC Active Multi. Love it. But I’m happy if you are on a One A Day.

Fish oil/Omega 3: Let’s do that too. Got mine at Target for 6 dollars. Fish oil is terrific for making your arteries slick and it also aids in weight loss.
It is believed that omega 3 oil improves the flow of blood to the muscles during exercise and helps to stimulate enzymes which transport fat to where it can be used up for energy. You can get Omega 3 in super foods like Flax oil or Flax seeds as well.

Vitamin C 1000mg daily: Recent studies show that vitamin C helps in weight loss and lowering body fat.
Vitamin C is one of the building blocks for carnitine, which is used by your body to transform fat into the fuel it needs.Taking extra “C” can help balance out cortisol spikes so take it!!

Calcium with D: For your bones. You already knew that! If you are taking calcium chews be sure you are tracking the macros for them!

 

I want weight loss supplements

Do NOT buy fad diet items like HGC, that promise rapid weight loss. You are risking metabolic damage. I will never condone anything other than solid meal plans, proper workouts and lifestyle changes. However, unless you are prepared, you ‘could’ walk out having spent a small fortune. You are doing your homework so now you know.

Fat Burners
There are two types of Fat Burners:
Stimulants (Stim) and Non Stimulant.
If you can take caffeine you ‘might’ do ok on a Stimulant. Fat burners are NOT made to allow you to eat whatever you want.
They raise your metabolism slightly and some have ingredients that stabilize your insulin. Extreme fat burners might have the Geranium oil and use tag lines like the ‘meanest and cruelest’ fat burners on the market. You may really like the idea of sitting on the couch and losing 5 pounds, or sweating like crazy while at your desk, the risks are real. I used a Stim fat burner and had terrible panic attacks. If you are on medications, be wary also. Mixing extreme fat burners if you are on anti-depressants or other mood altering pharms might not be a good idea. Do your research!!

Non-Stimulant Fat burners use ingredients like Green Tea, Raspberry Keto to rev the metabolism. Be wary, they take a long time to get into your system and work. You can certainly drink green tea as a natural fat burner if you prefer.  If you try one of these for a month and don’t like it, you didn’t give it a chance to work! The stores will try to sell you more than one month supply because YOU NEED more than 1 month.

But, there were great results on the commercial!
Those products are tested on people who are most likely
1. sedentary
2. eating terrible
3. out of shape.

They give them a controlled meal plan (read the fine print).
Get them off the couch.   Wow!  huge results!

But: it says I don’t have to exercise if I take this.
If you are still standing by the ‘no exercise’ success stories, you need to save your money on pills.
To lose FAT you need to burn it off. You need a deficit of calories. That is either by lower calorie intake or by training or moving more.   If you are not moving more, you will burn off muscle and that will slow your metabolism down.  Even weight training 3x a week will amp your metabolism. Let’s make good choices this year!!  Get lean the right way!

What I used:
The Non-stim fat burner I used before my first show was Epiq Shred from GNC. I had great results with it taking just one capsule a day.  My second show I used Hydroxy Cut non stim from GNC. It’s not the crappy version from Walgreens.  I liked both of those.

Do not purchase a fat burner that has an appetite suppressant. You must eat to lose weight. If you are not eating you are burning muscle. Your weight loss will be temporary and you will gain even more weight. Don’t be that girl!

 

Here’s my review of a great Fat Burner stack I love for my clients

 

Booty Builder: Banded Squats

Are you working on building out those glutes?

Banding above the knees gets the glutes activated immediately!

In this video I am using it for my weighted wide squats.  This is so hard that I have to drop my weight way back to complete my sets.   The glutes are activated and it’s intense.  You have to fight to keep your knees from caving!
I use the band in my thrusting, side leg work and squats/deads.

 

Get Lean: Top secrets for smart people.

Everyone wants it to be easy. They want it now. Time and time again I get asked the secrets to getting lean.
Here you go!

1. Eat according to your goals.

What do you want?
What do you want?

Have you decided what you want?  Active fat loss, getting leaner but adding muscle?
Eat according to your goals.  You can still eat well, even on fat loss!

I can help you get your meal plan right!

I know… Everyone has YOLO’d their  way into a food coma, but if you aren’t eating on your plan, get back in check.
Consistency with the right foods will keep you lean and tight. If you are eating for your physique goals
you can enjoy all kinds of foods!

2. Pick up heavy weights

Lift heavy. LIFT!
Lift heavy. LIFT!

Muscle is the fountain of youth. Lift heavy weights at least
3 x a week to increase your metabolism!

3. Stop fretting over being too bulky.
Be fearless!

My client got this booty by eating lots of yummy carbs.
My client got this booty by eating lots of yummy carbs.

Do you know how hard it is to gain muscle?  Women cannot just put on slabs of muscle
and getting bulky is an unnecessary worry. Lifting heavy will create some beautiful curves
and lean tight bodies. My client, Liz worked on that Peachy Booty for 7 months. She ate
over 300 g carbs per day! She was fearless!  She’s very lean because she’s lifting very heavy!
She does no cardio.

4. Stop being a cardio bunny

cardio alone did not build this body!
cardio alone did not build this body!

Fact: Long duration cardio makes you mushy as you use your precious muscle for fuel.
Unless you are an endurance athlete, add some high intensity intervals into your weekly workout
2-3 times. It’s good for your heart.  Want to be tiny and tight with sleek, sexy abs?  Focus on lifting heavy
like Amanda Latona!

5. Trust the Process 

Trust the process. Don't give up
Trust the process. Don’t give up

Rome wasn’t built in a day. You can be successful if you are willing to
trust the process.  Fat loss or body  re-compostion is not linear.
It takes time. Giving up too soon because you want instant results
is self sabotage.  Start by taking weekly selfies to chart your progress.
Keep your  motivation up by taking daily successes.  Completing workouts,
hitting your macros, are all successes that ensure the physique you want.

6. Be good to yourself.

Never give .up
Never give .up

Your worth is NOT determined by your physique.
You can try your hardest, so what if you have a mistep.  Just keep pushing onward.
Never, ever give up!!!

Do you need help with your workouts or meal plans?
I can help!!  Contact me here
I can help you get your meal plan right!

Get it right: Stop doing this AB move!

sidebends

Oh man, how many times do I get in the gym and see a women holding a heavy kettle bell rocking this side bend move.
“Why do you like that weighted side bend exercise?”
“So I can lose weight from my belly.”

I train women primarily, and have for the last 3 decades.  I know how
my clients want to look and I have never incorporated this move and I never will.
My clients are women who want to look great in their clothes, smaller waist and flat tummies. They are not bulking or training for body building shows.  So if you are ‘that woman’…

Let me break it down for you quickly.
1.You cannot lose belly fat by doing a specific exercise.
2. This lateral weighted move can increase the girth of your waist.
3. There are better moves to give you the definition you want.

Get your food right
1. Priority: You can have great ab muscles but you may never get to see them if your body fat is too high. Abs are made in the kitchen. Your meal plan IS the most important part of your ab success.

Look like a girl
2. Women have beautiful curves. We have a natural sweep in from the back to the waist and this move has the potential to thicken that up. On that note, stay away from the ab machines in the gym too. The weighted rotation machine and the weighted crunch machine are great if you desire a thicker trunk. However, most women do not want abs that look like fun-sized candy bars.  Sporty girls, might like the idea of a thick boyish body, and that’s ok.  But I don’t, so I’m going to keep my ab training techniques reflecting the look I want. I want sexy, girl curves.

Tell me how
3. There are better ways to train your abs and get great results.  I am a huge believer in pilates and find that it creates the most incredible abs. If you want to seek out pilates, there are great videos on youtube to get you going. Women do not need to do, what I call “meathead” abs. Hanging with chains, loaded machines etc are totally unnecessary.  But think about this, Med ball slams engage the core.  Any work done on a Bosu is core-centric.  Planking is phenomenal.  You can spend a portion your workouts doing core-centric movement and add pilates a few times a week to create beautiful lines without the bulking potential.

Pilates abs.
The only ab specific training I did for my show was pilates. My full body work was core centric as well. No side bends, no weighted movements.

In pilates we use rotation and I stand by that. Instead of side to side movement as is demonstrated in the above picture, we train the obliques by trunk rotation. Movements like wood chops-low to high with a stability ball or the pilates criss cross movement are demonstrations of trunk rotation.

Check out my pilates 5 video below for amazing results!

Work smart on your core and get your food right. Soon you will see the beautiful, sleek abs you want!!