It is scary when you see guys that want to bench 300 but can’t perform 12 push-ups with correct form. Or what about the guys who can leg press 800 but can’t do one single legged squat. Finally there is the dude with the Hulkamania bandana maxing out the weight on the lat pull down but can’t do one pull up. Scary isn’t it? We really don’t take advantage of our most important training tool, our bodyweight. I am going to drop some body weight exercises that are sure to get you stronger, add lean muscle mass, and humble you like nothing before.
Not only are all of the following exercises great because you can do them away from the weight room, but some of them are prerequisites for strength training. If you can’t do a single legged squat (or at least a split squat), you have no right to be back squatting (let alone filling the leg press with plates and making more noises than Arnold when he is exposed to Mars’ atmosphere).
Are you wasting your time doing lots of wrist curls when you could do towel pull-ups and have forearms, biceps, and lats. Are you doing leg curls until you, again, look like Arnold in the above image? Maybe you need to challenge yourself and find out if you are strong, or just machine strong.
Single legged squat (SLS)
The single legged squat may be the hardest of the bunch to execute to perfection. Not only does it force you to use your adductors and glutes in conjunction with your quads, but it will cause some serious increases in your bilateral movements like the squat and deadlift as well. The unilateral nature of the exercise will also help prevent any kind of asymmetries between your right and left legs.
Keys to the Exercise: Start by squatting to a box that will have your femur parallel to the ground, or a little higher. Watch the knee of the active leg and make sure it does not cave in. Push your hips through at the top and fire your glutes. Stay in control at all times and do not sit back on the box.
Rear foot elevated split squat (RFE Split Squat)
The RFE Split Squat is the sister movement to the single legged squat. You may also know this exercise as the, “Bulgarian Split Squat.” Just like the single legged squat the REF split squat is another great unilateral exercise that promotes glute activation and proper movement patterns essential for increasing load and in turn getting stronger and building more muscle. Women should also take notice, this exercise will get you the ass you have always dreamed of! (Guys, feel free to let your girlfriend/wife on this one too).
Keys to the Exercise: Start from the ground up. Place something like an airex pad under the knee of the foot that is elevated as a guide to how low you should go. As in the SLS, make sure the front knee does not cave in and push through the heel. Keep your chest up and stay in control for the duration of the movement.
Towel Pull Up
Pull ups kick ass. Want a big biceps, lats, or traps? What about big forearms and improved grip strength? Then you want to be doing towel pull ups. Why with a towel? Put simply, it is going to make it harder to grip and cause the movement to intensify. Do you want to build bigger biceps, lats, and trap? How about improving grip strength and forearm size? If you answered yes to any of those (and who wouldn’t) the towel pull up is your exercise. We know that using a more difficult grip can cause more muscle activation. The towel pull-up is a prime example of this. Also you are going to look like a badass, which is a nice bonus. If you can do fifteen chin-ups, I challenge you to do 8 towel pull-ups. Just pray that when you are done, you can still open that tub of protein.
Keys to the Exercise: Use a towel that is in good enough condition to support your weight; the towels at most commercial gyms should be fine. Throw the towel over the pull up bar so you are using a neutral grip. Pull all away up until your elbows are by your side. HOLD ON FOR DEAR LIFE!
Glute Ham Raise (GHR)
You are one lucky SOB if you have a glute ham raise where you train. If you don’t, that doesn’t mean you can’t modify the exercise. This is where the bodyweight GHR comes into play. As long as you have a dumbbell rack or something to support your heals. If you have never done GHRs before, you are missing out on a major movement that can really increase those deadlifting numbers.
Keys to the Exercise: Keep your chest up and your back arched. Go down as slow as you can and gently push off the ground, pushing your hips through at top.
Feet Supported Side Plank (FSSP)
Side planks are great and all, but what do you do when you can hold one for 60+ seconds? That is when you move on to the feet supported side plank. The FSSP is very challenging and will humble you when you do them. Setup a bench parallel to a DB rack (or some place you can place your feet). While sideways, lodge your feet in the DB rack while just the side of your hips are on the bench. Start with 15-20 second holds and progress from there.
Keys or the Exercise: Keep your body erect and glutes tight to hold proper form. Do not allow yourself to bend and the waist. For safety, before you switch sides, place one hand on the ground before moving.
Band Resisted Rollouts
OK, so not 100% bodyweight, but it is pretty close, and in my mind, the ultimate challenge for your core musculature. Grab one or two resistance bands and an ab wheel attach the band(s) to something that isn’t going to move (like a dumbbell rack), take a few steps back, and prepare for those abs to be sore for a few days.
Keys to the Exercise: Keep glutes tight and listen to your body. If you back kicks in, you need to regress and go back to an easier variation.
Last but not least is the Trench Plank. For this you will need two Valslides or something similar that will allow your feet to move on a turf or mat surface. The goal here is to crawl like you are in a trench without allowing everything but your arms move. Go for distance on these, 20-40 feet. For a progression, put some 10-15 pound dumbbells in your hands while following the same rules.
It is a pretty cool thing being able to work with people all over the world who want to lose weight, get stronger, and gain lean muscle mass. Seeing people get results 3,000 miles away is something I really enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, I love training people in person too, but being able to call people up and talk about a crazy week they had and talk them off the edge of calling Pizza Hut is a completely different ballgame.
- Replying to 1,000+ word e-mails about crazy gym or boyfriend/girlfriend stories
- Shooting almost 300 videos for my clients
- Looking at what they are consuming every single day and giving them feedback
- Changing programs on the fly with a text message, phone call, or skype conversation.
To put it simply, I am willing to just about everything in my power to guarantee my clients success. I am not joking that I give my personal cell phone number to all of my clients. Why not? They should be able to contact me just like if I was training them in person. This is why I have kept just about every client I have ever had. I get results. Plain and simple.
(NOT one of my clients…)
This last year or so I have been able to get some great results with my online clients. Recently, some of my clients sent in e-mails discussing their time with me. Yes, these are real people, you probably even heard me read one of their e-mails on the podcast:
I have been training with Kevin for the last five months and can honestly say that I have made the biggest transformation in both my training and diet. It is obvious that Kevin commits a lot of time into designing the workout and nutrition as he really tailors it to your goal. My workouts have been amazing and he has pushed my intensity level to a new high. Furthermore, he is great at answering questions and really listens to what his clients have to say. I would recommend Kevin to anyone who is looking to make a serious commitment to transforming their body.
Working with Kevin has been both fun and effective. He is so knowledgeable that I can already see specific results based on what my goals are. His programming is interesting, enjoyable, and it WORKS! He is so passionate about what he does, that it is infectious and makes me want to go after it that much harder in the gym. Even though we don’t get to train together, Kevin’s energy is contagious and more motivating than most of the trainers I’ve worked with in person. I can’t say enough about how great it is to be working a program that is well designed and is specifically for me, and how much I appreciate the thought and effort that goes into each aspect of my program. I have the utmost confidence in Kevin, and that translates into confidence in myself. What more can you ask for?
Both of those testimonials are from online clients that have been KILLING it! even with incredibly busy lives with, school, work, family, and a social life! I even got to meet Michelle during the Perform better Seminar in June and get a bite to eat (and as a bonus, got a ride back to my hotel. No taxi fare FTW!).
I have kicked things up a notch too with the new online training software I am using that gives clients access to 150 exercise videos with another 150 coming in about a week or so that cover speed, agility, ladder work, plyometrics, olympic lifting, and more!
Two online PT spots are currently open now as I get things locked down with the new software. If you have been stuck not getting results, or have been doing boring workouts, or just want to be in the best shape of your life, we can work together to achieve your goals. And not to get all infomercial like, but we are talking about $4 a day for online training. I know most spend more on their morning coffee, and it probably has sugar, heavy cream, and a syrup that should be on ice cream. Which will help you meet your goals?
The Type of Diet
Let’s get this out of the way first, we, as humans, are incredibly complex, diverse, and above all else weird. This is why something like the Atkin’s Diet will work great for Bobby Joe, but will cause Johnny Ballgame to binge three days into the same diet. What about the fad of liquid diets? Low Fat, high carb, moderate protein? High Fat, high protein, low carbohydrate? No carbs (i.e. Anabolic Diet)? Fasting? Straight up calorie restriction is fine too, as long as you make sure you get in adequate protein and carbohydrates to complement you training. But since many people like to follow a designed program or a set of guidelines I will help you decide if one of these diets are right for you. Read more
This weekend is the annual Perform Better Summit in Providence, RI. The summit consists of three days of presentations and, “learn by doing” sessions. In the past I have only gone to the 1-day seminars that Perform Better puts on, so this will be a little bit of a different beast. To be honest, I am only going on Saturday and Sunday because I have a full schedule of clients on Friday. So the plan is for myself and Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning staff members Dave Rak and Evan Levy to drive down to RI on Saturday Morning around 6:30am.
The summit lineup is just incredible from Todd Durkin, to Stuart McGill, to Dos Remedios, Mike Boyle, to Dr. John Berardi, to Sue Falsone (pumped for her talk on thoracic mobility), to Martin Rooney, to… You get the picture…
Since I will be staying overnight there are a few necessities I have to pack first. This might not sound like a big deal but it really is. And I think this list can translate into any trip for someone that is a fitness enthusiast or professional.
1. CASE of Spike
Best to get the most obvious one out of the way. Why a case? Because I know I will drink at least 4 over the weekend, plus I plan of getting Bret Contreras hooked on them. Plus let’s be real, no one is going to sleep this weekend. The Perform Better Summits are the equivalent of the Catalina Wine Mixer. We are going to go all out. (WARNING VIDEO IS NSFW DUE TO LANGUAGE…BUT WHO CARES IT IS FUNNY AS SH*T).
2. Large Cooler Packed With:
- 2% Plain Greek Yogurts
- Pre grilled Chicken/Steak
- Cottage Cheese
- Fresh and Frozen Fruit
- Raw Vegetables
3. Dry Goods
- Beef/Buffalo/Turkey Jerky
- Protein Powder
4. Magic Bullet
For smoothies… And mixed drinks….
Keeps water cold, and looks bad ass.
I find it pretty astounding when I see people grocery shopping and being so indecisive. Did they just decided that they are low on food so why not go to the grocery store and see what they have? This morning I saw one woman look at yogurt for 4 minutes and 32 seconds (yes I really timed) before buying 3 cups of Yoplait fat free yogurt. What was going through her mind? Maybe something like, “Well, I heard on ‘Doctor Oz’ that I should get Greek yogurt because it is better for digestion…But last time I tried it, I didn’t like that there was so much real fruit in it, that is gross. Not to mention there is so much sugar in there (looking at the fruit versions). I will go with this low carb Yoplait stuff with Splenda in it instead!” All of this, while she had, no joke, ice cream, a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch (although an epically great cereal) and bagels in her cart.
You need to go into the grocery store with a plan the likes of attacking the Death Star. Have a list of what you NEED, not what you want.
Anyways, that being said, here are what I consider to be the grocery essentials.
1. Lean Beef: I am a HUGE fan of the 96% lean burgers. Quick, convenient, and most importantly high in protein, low in calories, and taste awesome!
2. 50% Salted Almonds: A great on the go snack and essential for Greek Yogurt concoctions.
3. Egg Whites: The first ingredient in every omelet. Also great for many protein bars recipes.
4. Frozen fruit Vegetables: Unless you are going to be using those fruits/vegetables within three or four days of purchasing them, you would be much better off buying frozen. I have written about it before, “The best tasting frozen vegetables are spinach, green beans, and broccoli. Frozen fruits and vegetables are almost always fresher than those found in the produce section because they’re flash frozen the day they were harvested.”
Here is a video from way back where we make some protein smoothies with some frozen fruit:
How do people go to the gym day after day and do the same 30 minute workout on the elliptical machine? Honestly I would rather do some sprints in the parking lot outside of a 7/11 in a rival gang’s territory at 2am with nothing on but a game worn jock strap from Terry Tate.
No, but seriously, I would rather challenge myself and do something different every time. That is where this blog post comes in. I hope to provide some fresh ideas for you to use when it comes to the end of the workout, when you need to get that finisher in. Now hold on to your butts and crack open a Spike!
1. Burpee/Mountain Climber Combo: This one is pretty straight forward. You give yourself a rep amount to hit for each movement. I am a fan of doing 60 mountain climbers (30/side) and 12 burpees (with the push up). Rest for 60 seconds in between each round. Rinse and repeat at least 4 times and try to work up to 8 or 10. Keep the trash can near by…
2. TRX Circuit from Hell: OK, now things get interesting. That TRX in your garage isn’t just for rows and planks, it can be used for some of the hardest complexes imaginable. For this you will go from one exercise to the next, performing 10 reps (per side if for each movement. The exercises are: Atomic push ups, rear foot elevated split squat, leg curls, rollouts, and rows. Try to get through the whole circuit in under three minutes.
3. Grab bag Finisher: This is the one I use the most. I put together five or six exercises and put them into a complex. They usually involve low risk movements with lighter weights than normal, for obvious reasons. Think medballs, kettlebells, slideboards, TRX, body weight, and barbell exercises. Here is one you can try today that will have you screaming for mercy:
- Plate loaded front squat (Hold a 10-25 pound plate out in front of you while squatting). x8
- Renegade Row 8 reps/side
- TRX Rollouts (or ab wheel) x10
- KB Swings x12
- Bodysaw x12
- Overhead Medball Slams x20
BONUS: Here is a Death Circuit I did three years ago with Eric Cressey. I promise my posture is much better now:
If you want some more of these, I highly recommend you check out Tony Gentilcore’s blog. He posts tons of circuits on there, and blogs about the latest Lord of the Rings convention. Enjoy and be safe. Have some other circuits or finishers you want to share? Post them in the comments section.
Here comes another gem from CBS Morning News and their, “CBS News Medical Correspondent.” A recent study came out recommending that middle age women should be exercising for one hour each day to keep from gaining weight. That is 60 minutes or 1/17th of your day if you get 7 hours of sleep each night. THAT IS LESS THAN 6% of your time spent awake!
So, of course the doctor is going to say that, “yes, you should exercise for 60 minutes each day…” NOPE… Not going to happen.
She explains that women should be eating better instead of exercising more. Sure, I can agree with eating better, but why not still encourage women to move more! Not just for weight loss, but to stay healthy. What about osteoporosis? Keeping a healthy heart rate and blood pressure in check? What about just for the sake of their mental health? I don’t know about you but I am in a much better mood after I train for an hour. And how about just keeping a baseline of strength so you can pick up bags of groceries or your kids.
One hour of activity can be doing a Yoga DVD for 30 minutes in the morning, then walking your dog for 30 minutes at night! Come on health professionals!
All we are doing is giving people MORE EXCUSES!!!
This past week was easily one of the best I have ever had. First off, I get to work at one of the premier strength and conditioning facilities in the WORLD, Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning. If my batteries are ever drained, they get recharged every single week at our staff meetings. This past week Mike had Todd Durkin come in and talk to the staff because he was in town for the Perform Better Seminar. To be honest, he didn’t even talk to us about training. Instead he talked about how we can/should go about bettering ourselves and our business.
If you listened to this past week’s episode of The FitCast (Episode 171), you heard me talk about some of the things that Todd had to say, but that was just scratching the surface. The second Todd had the floor the energy in the room raised immensely (and this was AFTER he trained had for an hour in the weight room!). I don’t think I have been more wide-eyed since I first met Mike back in 2006.
Anyways, to the point of this post, I am going to make it very clear. Some of the things Todd said hit home hard. Sometimes we can hear the right answer 1,000 times, but it is number 1,001 that makes the biggest impact and convinces us it is the right one because of the person who is delivering it. That is what happened with Todd. He dropped a bunch of quotes and sayings that I immediately wrote down for future reference. Here is the one that hit home:
“Eat to Live, Don’t Live to Eat”
I should say it was that quote followed by this one:
“You Can Only Take a Client as Far As You Have Gone”
Think about that. Does that mean a coach or training with 20% body fat can’t get their client below that? No, I don’t think so. I am not in the same shape as my man Jason Statham (I really want to meet that guy…), but I have gotten some amazing results with all of my clients. I took it more as, “How do you expect your clients to get results that you can’t achieve yourself?” I mean, YOU are the expert right?
Another reason why I am excited to post these finished Destination Abs pictures in the near future…
I am sure there are more quotes and thoughts from the talk coming soon, so stay posted!
Sometimes I have some cool things to talk about, but they wouldn’t justify a whole blog post. That is where the random tips posts come in. I am not going to go too in depth on these, just some thoughts on diet, nutrition, training, and rehab.
1. If You Work a Desk Job, Do 2:1 Pull to Press.
This one should be pretty obvious. A large majority of people today have desk jobs, and for the guys, still tend to do too much horizontal pressing. You know the whole “Bench Monday” thing? And this is not just a postural thing. Many people wonder why their bench never goes up while their back and lats are proportionally weak compared to their chest. So, maybe do your barbell bench in the beginning, but throw in two row variations later on in the workout. Push ups are great too as it promotes scapular retraction and you can do some many progressions (coming up on Monday I will have an article on it). You can even super set the BB bench with a 1-arm DB row or a facepull. BONUS: A little thoracic mobility work wouldn’t hurt either.
2. Fat Loss: Train More to Eat More? Or Train Less, But Eat Less?
I don’t think we discuss this subject enough. Yeah, you have heard that, “you can’t out train a bad diet” a thousand times, but what about what is optimal for fat loss? A program where you are lifting 3-4 days a week with high intensity interval training along with a calorie deficit around 3500 cals/week? What about a 3-day full body program with some steady state walking on off days and a 7,000-8,000 Calorie deficit? Would we be able to retain most if not all of our muscle mass?
Do we have the answer? Has it been researched? Personally, I think it depends:
- How quickly do you want to lose weight?
- How important is it to train at a high intensity when it comes to your enjoyment?
- How much time do you have to dedicate to training each week?
- What have you done in the past and has it worked?
It is just a case of different strokes for different folks. Both will work if you have the calories, workout nutrition, macronutrient partitioning, and training down. Does one work better all things equal? In my experience with clients and personally, I would go with the lower calories, 3 day lift, and some steady state work on off days if they have their nutrition locked in. BUT!!! Remember, it does depend on their goals. I am just talking about looking good naked. Not deadlifting 400 pounds, or doing 40 pull ups, or having a 30 inch vert, or the ability to run a 6-minute mile.
Some of my clients just don’t want to eat protein at every meal and count calories. For them I take a little harder approach with the lifting and conditioning because I know they are fueling themselves to recover from it. For some of my male clients at least I can promise that they will put some muscle mass on and drop some bodyfat, it is just going to be a little slower.
I understand that everyone has their own different training and body composition philosophies. There is more than one ways to skin a cat, I guess I think we need to evaluate our clients and ourselves to determine which method will garner the best results.
Download Episode 1 here: AskKevin001.mp3 (Right Click and Save-As to download)
It was bound to come eventually, I can’t shut the hell up, so I figured I would record it and share it. Here is episode 1 of my solo fitness and nutrition podcast that I will be releasing mid week as a companion to The FitCast. It will be 20-40 minutes covering diet, fitness, nutrition, rehab, workout music, Destination Abs stuff, Back to the Fut… OK, maybe a little off topic at the beginning is something particularly cool happens.
At this point I have no artwork, and the name is just temporarily until I can think of something brilliant and catchy (don’t hold your breath). Also the podcast isn’t on iTunes. If I get 1,000 downloads for episode 1 I will add it to the FitCast iTunes feed. EDIT: Added it to iTunes after 3 e-mails under The FitCast Feed. I caved early…
Here are the notes of the show:
- Kim’s Accountability
- Ever look at the Vegas Pro Straps vs TRX? Any advantage to not having a single point attachment like TRX? Thoughts?
- Should I be sore after every workout (except maybe times of deload)?
- Do thonkgs like spike really help workouts? How should these energy drinks be used if at all? -Erin
- G’day kevin,
just a question about your training. what kind of assistance work are you doing with 5/3/1? are you doing boring but big or assistance work you chose yourself?
Also do you find that some lifts respond better to volume that others, or is that just me. my bench dies unless i’ve been hitting with twice a week with solid volume, 5×5 style, where as my deadlift only need one high intensity set to keep improving.
- Hey Kevin,
Long time listener here. I was just wondering your thoughts on a couple of supplements I am planning on taking. I’ve been hearing a lot about the Animal brand of products and was wondering your opinion on them? As far as Animal Paks multi’s and then the Animal Cuts fat burners? I’ve heard positive things about them and was wanting to try them out. I’ve noticed BioTest has been out of Hot Rox for awhile and I’m wanting to help jump start my fat loss at the gym. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.
- What’s on your workout playlist -Dan