Fitness Advice for the "Average Joe"

By Paul Kim (Silicon Valley Entrepreneur & Certified Personal Trainer)


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3 Practical Steps to Make Your Stubborn Muscles Grow

PKDS-1Sig

Every single person on earth has lagging or stubborn muscles that he or she wishes would look better. Even for the few who look like Hercules, when you look at them carefully, you can almost always see flaws in their physique. Sometimes, the under-development is a result of the person just being lazy or under-prioritizing that particular body part. For example, you see a lot of guys in the gym who look like they should be walking on their hands because they have big arms but no legs. But in many cases, under-developed muscles can result because certain body parts just don’t respond to a person’s training regimen as well as others. And thus, you get people complaining that their chest never grows, or their calves are stubborn, or they just can’t get a six-pack.

Well, the good news is that 99% of you will be able to fix this by following the 3 steps that I outline below for at least 2 months. These steps are designed to prioritize your lagging muscle(s) and bombard them beyond your normal activity levels to force growth & development.

  1. Train your Lagging Muscle FIRST during each appropriate workout session. This is at the core of prioritizing your lagging muscle(s). You have the most energy and are usually most focused at the beginning of your workouts. As such, you need to devote this time to developing your lagging muscle(s). It’s so easy to get caught up in a routine where you work each muscle in the same sequence every single time… but often times, your lagging muscles are worked at the end of your workouts, when you’re tired and itching to get out of the gym. Simply changing the order of your exercises and putting your maximum effort on your lagging muscles can literally do miracles for these muscles. For example, if you are having problems getting your calves to a respectable level, then always hit this muscle FIRST in your workout sequence, as opposed to LAST like most people do. Also, usually I try not to do super-sets when I’m prioritizing a lagging muscle because I want to give it my undivided attention.
  2. Do 1~3 more sets than “normal” for your Lagging Muscle(s).  Just to be clear,  I’m not usually a proponent of increasing workout intensity by simply adding more sets and thus making a workout longer. However, when I’m trying to “catch up” a lagging body part I make an exception because it works by making you physically do more work and overload the muscle, and often times this is just what the doctor ordered to attain growth! So for example, if you’re used to doing 6 total sets on your biceps, do 8-9 sets during the 2 month period. Remember that the key here is not just to increase the number of sets, per se, but to overload your muscles to stimulate growth – as such, keep your rest relatively short and make each set super intense (go to failure or beyond using a spotter on each set). To be clear, you only need to increase sets on your problem muscles, not on any other body part.
  3. Rest fewer days and hit the body part again more frequently. For example, if your shoulders are lagging, and you usually hit your shoulders once every 5 days, try and see if you can hit it every 4 days. Now, use caution and common sense when you do this… it’s okay to be a little bit sore when you hit the muscle again, meaning that your muscles have mostly recovered, but you shouldn’t be so sore that you have not recovered enough yet (then you would end up doing more damage than good to your muscles). Assuming that you hit multiple body parts in one workout session, this would mean that your muscle-couplings (muscles that you usually work out together) would be thrown off, which is totally fine (e.g. if you usually work your shoulders and biceps on the same day, chances are that on your next workout, you would work your shoulders with other body parts).

And as always, work out INTENSELY… perform each set to failure (or beyond with a spotter), except your warm-up set(s), and keep pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone in terms of higher weights and squeezing out extra reps, because the work you do past the point of failure is where you will see the best results.

Here’s an example from my personal experience. Biceps have historically been a body part that I have neglected for various reasons. So last year, when I was doing my body transformation, I worked hard to get them to catch up. Usually, I work biceps every 4 days or so… but I made a concerted effort to catch them up to the rest of my body. As such, over several months, I disciplined myself to hit them 3 times per week (e.g. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays). But to ensure that I would recover sufficiently between workouts, I hit biceps HEAVY on Mondays and Fridays (heavy weights where I could only do 3~5 reps before I failed), and on Wednesdays, I would go slightly lighter and go to failure at around 7~9 reps (I also did more “shaping” exercises like Preacher Curls and Cable Curls, as opposed to more “bulking” exercises like heavy Standing Barbell Curls). Within 2-3 weeks, I saw a real difference by using this approach… my biceps were getting fuller, larger, stronger, and more vascular because they were getting the attention that they deserved.

Try this approach to your lagging or stubborn muscles and let me know how it goes! It works for me, and I’m pretty sure it will work for you. Good luck!

-PK


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Not Seeing Improvements in Your Body? Here’s How You Break through a Plateau!

About to get dunked for hydrostatic testing (fat %)

About to get dunked for hydrostatic testing (fat %)

Have you ever worked your butt off in the gym or at home to burn off the weight or gain some muscle, but it seems like nothing you do seems to work, and your body seems to be completely unresponsive to the workouts that you’re doing? Yeah, we’ve all been there – you’ve hit a PLATEAU.

You usually hit a plateau when your body adjusts or acclimates itself to the intensity, progression, and format of your workouts. So how do you break through annoying plateaus to get your body to respond to your workouts again? Throughout my 20+ year workout career, I’ve literally hit dozens of plateaus, and here is my practical advice to smashing through them:

  1. Use a “Phased” Approach to Muscle Confusion: I’ve found that the most important factor in breaking through a plateau is to confuse my body and muscles through systematic change in my routines via Phased Muscle Confusion. I say “Phased” confusion because you should NOT make “muscle confusion” a recognizable pattern, as your muscles need to genuinely be confused and overloaded. For example, I’ve seen programs out there where they supposedly “confuse” your muscles by performing different types of exercises sporadically throughout the week (e.g. mix in Cardio Boxing or Plyometrics to your routine), but the problem is that these changes come at such regular intervals that people’s bodies come to expect the change and adapt quickly to it. In addition, in many cases a sporadic “mixing up” of exercises don’t yield long-term gains from that particular exercise type/genre because it’s used so sporadically. This is why I recommend employing a PHASED approach, where you stick with a different type of routine for at least 2~4 weeks at a time, so that your body can benefit from the positive effects of the “confusion.” Incidentally, I’ve built Phased Muscle Confusion into the workouts in Alpha Trainer… what you will find is that each phase is a bit different from the prior, which helps to keep your muscles guessing and minimize the effects of plateaus.
  2. Change the Order, Pairings, and Types of Exercises: Often times, people get so stuck on their “routines” that they rarely deviate from them. This presents many challenges, including the fact that certain body parts don’t get worked as hard as others.
      • Change Exercise Pairing: For example, many people hit their Chest and their triceps on the same workout day continuously (almost always chest first, followed by triceps) – this exercise pairing is perfectly fine, but if you never change your exercise pairings or your exercise ordering, chances are good that certain muscles are not getting worked as hard as they could be. In this example, if you are always exhausting your chest first before hitting your triceps, you’re not going to be able to maximize improvements in your triceps because it’s already somewhat fatigued from the chest workout (which also works your triceps). It makes sense to mix up your routines for different periods such that your triceps are worked hard first, followed by another body part, such as biceps, back, or legs.
      • Change Exercise Ordering: Another example I want to give is that simply changing the order of the exercises on the same body parts can yield amazing results. For example, I’ve broken through bench press plateaus in the past where my bench press max became stagnant after always doing flat bench press first, followed by incline bench press… when I changed up the ordering and performed incline bench press first, followed by flat bench press for a 2 month period, my body broke through a plateau, and my max bench press went up by ~40 pounds soon thereafter! It’s because my upper chest was not getting maximum stimulation because it was pre-exhausted from the flat bench in the past, but now I was giving it the attention that it needed to get stronger.
      • Experiment with Barbells, Dumbbells, Cable, Different Exercises, and more: Go through phases where you focus more heavily on a specific workout apparatus, such as barbells, dumbbells, cables, Hammer Strength machines (excellent “machines” that use free weights), etc. I’ve had much success going through a progressive stage of focusing on barbells, then focusing on dumbbells, then working on Hammer Strength machines, etc. The reason is that each apparatus works your muscles slightly differently because of the angles, positioning, and balance, so they develop your muscles differently. For example, although you can do less absolute weight on the dumbbell bench press as opposed to barbell bench press, dumbbell bench press works your stabilizer muscles far more, and when you develop these muscles, they help you tremendously in gaining overall muscle size and strength.
  3. Put focus on a specific body part: sometimes what you need to break out of a plateau is to simply focus most of your attention on a specific body part. For example, try getting much stronger on your legs, chest, or shoulders. When you do this for weeks to several months, often times you will find that you naturally break out of a plateau, and all of your weights improve as a result of a stronger individual muscles!
  4. Take it easier for a short while, Turbo!: Sometimes your body hits a plateau because you are exhausted from OVER-TRAINING. Again, this is why a phased approach to developing your body is necessary. Don’t be afraid to take it down just one notch for a few weeks, as you let your body and muscles recuperate from months of hard work and exercise. Now, I don’t mean you just stop working out (although in some cases it really makes sense to take a week or two completely off), but definitely change it up for a couple of weeks. For example, if you have been working out heavy for months with low reps of 3~6, go through a phase of working out with lighter weights at 8~12 reps. Or try lower intensity circuit training, instead of high-intensity bodybuilding type of workouts. Giving your body a welcome respite is sometimes exactly what your body needs to help it recover from the negative effects of over-training.
  5. Finally, you can increase the Intensity of Your Workouts by Adjusting the following Factors: Many times, you need to work out more intensely to break out of a stagnant plateau. But remember, after working out super intensely for a few months, be sure to take it down a notch for a couple of weeks to prevent over-training.
      • Progressively use heavier weights. Remember to push yourself. You can reduce the number of reps you do, but push yourself to do more weight (while maintaining good form). This is one of the best ways to overload your muscles.
      • Perform more reps to failure, more forced reps, more “strip” sets. Perform each set to exhaustion, until your body can’t handle another rep. By pushing yourself to your physical limits (while staying safe), your body will be forced to adapt by becoming stronger and bigger.
      • Perform more sets (in some cases, not all). Use this sparingly… but in some cases, some people just don’t do enough sets to get a good workout. Or if your workout stamina has increased, don’t be afraid to add an extra set in your workouts to overload your muscles. Remember, I am not espousing long workouts or high volume workouts – in fact, I prefer shorter but more intense workouts. But in some cases, you will need to add an extra set to your workouts to increase intensity.
      • Reduce your Rest Time (unless you are trying to maximize your strength). Unless you’re doing Power Training and primarily trying to increase your strength, reducing your rest times is a good way to increase your workout intensity and get better results.
      • Perform bi-sets and tri-sets. There’s magic in performing different exercises one after another with minimal rest… this makes your body work hard, and it also makes you burn more calories during your workouts AND AFTER your workouts, through an effect called EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption), or “Afterburn”. Again, I’ve mixed in many bi-sets and tri-sets into the routines on Alpha Trainer to maximize intensity and EPOC.

By employing these principles in your workouts, you will probably be able to break out of your plateau. Try it out, and let me know how it goes! Good luck.

-Paul.


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Weight Training to Build Speed, Power, and Vertical Jump!

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As I watched the Superbowl recently between San Francisco 49’ers & Baltimore Ravens and looked around at the incredibly big and strong athletes who spend countless hours in the gym training, I was reminded of the importance of weight training to become truly fast, quick, & powerful. But most people don’t understand HOW to train properly to develop speed, quickness, & vertical jump. So my purpose in writing this post is to take all of the complicated theories, books, and training methods that deal with building speed & quickness and summarizing the concepts for you in an easy-to-understand format to you can employ them immediately. I could talk about this topic for days, but I’m going to keep this post as succinct as possible, while giving you the framework to design the most effective workout for yourself.

To start, here’s an explanation of the two basic formulas that impact speed & quickness (we’re going back to high school physics for just one second!):

  1. P = F * V.       Power = Force x Velocity.
  2. F = M * A.      Force = Mass x Acceleration.

Formula (1) states that Power is a function of Force multiplied by Velocity. Simply put, the more Force (think of it as maximum strength) you can apply at the Fastest Speed (Velocity) possible, the more Power (Speed, Quickness, Vertical Jump) you will generate. So the faster you can lift a heavy object, the more power you will generate. A widely accepted rule of thumb is that it’s easier to increase your strength (force) than it is to increase your speed (velocity), which has more significant genetic limitations. For example, I can still remember the very first time I ever got under a barbell to do a bench press… I was a skinny little 15 year old, 120 pound Freshman in high school, and I had no idea what I was doing, but I remember being able to bench press ~120 pounds (1x my body weight) for several reps… more than a decade of consistent weight training later, that 120 pounds for reps essentially tripled to a max bench press of ~405 pounds at a body weight of 180 pounds during my mid-20’s (~2.3x my body weight). I read some research a long time ago which shows that you can increase strength up to around 4x from your starting point through consistent weight training…  the point being that you can increase your strength much easier than you can your speed, so focus on increasing your strength to increase power. In case there is any doubt that increasing strength will actually increase your speed, quickness, & vertical jump, take a look below at some random Powerlifters jumping up in the air after a lift… powerlifters have such strong legs, their vertical leaping abilities are very well known (I especially love the portly, 300 pound dude on the left leaping high up into the air, which makes me smirk). In addition, I have not worked specifically at jumping in a very long time, but because my I can squat a lot compared to my body weight, I am still able to get pretty high up in the air (about ~35″).

JumpingPowerLifters1

Formula (2) states that Greater Force is generated by either increasing the mass of the object or the acceleration applied to the object. No need to confuse yourself here… just think about FORCE as the Maximum Strength that you can apply to something. The key here again is to increase your maximum strength (getting as strong as you possibly can).

So here’s the bottom line. To maximize Power, Quickness, Explosiveness, and Vertical Jump, you need to concentrate on improving in the following key areas:

  1. Increase your Maximum Strength in the body parts that matter for your sport. For example, if you want to increase your vertical jump, increase your maximum strength in your quads, glutes, lower back, hamstrings, and Calves through key exercises like squats and deadlifts. You accomplish this by training VERY HEAVY, in the 80~100%+ of your 1-rep maximum range. For example, if your maximum squat for 1 full repetition is 300 pounds, then after performing sufficient warmup sets, you need to train with weights in the 240~300+ pound range for low reps, like 1~6 reps. When you’re training heavy, for any of the exercises where you are positioned underneath the weights (e.g. squats, bench press, barbell shoulder press, etc.), make sure you have a spotter AND/OR use a safety cage to be safe to prevent becoming workout roadkill. Also, try to perform the reps as FAST AS YOU CAN. The key point is not whether the weight is moving quickly… in fact, it’s not possible to move your 1-rep max weight very quickly… rather, what’s important is whether your muscles are working and understanding that it’s trying to move the weights quickly. This helps to actually activate your Fast Twitch muscle fibers (Type 2A and Type 2B) and helps you to recruit more of these Type 2 muscle fibers, which also helps to improve your rate of force development, which is the next key point.
  2. Increase your RATE OF FORCE DEVELOPMENT. What does this mean? Research shows that it generally takes more than 0.5 seconds to develop maximum force because it takes time and coordination for your muscle fibers to fire and be recruited… but the challenge is that many explosive activities, like jumping, sprinting (each stride), swinging, etc. are completed in a fraction of a second (like 0.2 seconds or less). So the key to increasing FORCE to increase power is to increase the amount of usable or recruitable force you can generate in a short amount of time. This requires muscles to be trained to fire quickly. Two great ways to do this are as follows:
    • Plyometric/Reactive Training: Plyometric training, first invented in Russia in the 1970’s, focuses on training your muscles to fire very efficiently, as well as quickly utilizing the potential energy that is stored via the stretching of the tendons (kind of like a rubber band that accumulates energy quickly, then releases).
    • Weighted movements performed quickly/explosively: Use moderate to moderately-heavy weights for maximum results, say, in the 30~80% of your 1 rep maximum. But again, move the weights very quickly. Some examples of exercises you can perform are jumping weighted squats, jumping weighted lunges, medicine ball throws, etc.
  3. Increase your Velocity or Speed through Plyometrics and Training in the Actual Sport.
    • Use Plyometric or Reactive Training. By nature, Plyometric exercises helps get you faster by improving explosive reaction time in your muscles.
    • Continue to Train in the Sport or Activity that you are trying to Improve in. It goes without saying that if you are a boxer, continue your live boxing training, and if you’re a basketball player, continue playing basketball. No amount of strength training in the gym or weighted workouts will ever mimic the actual speed and neuromuscular coordination that training in the actual sport will accomplish.
  4. Lower your Body Fat, and thus your Body Weight. This reduces the weight that the Power you generate has to carry or launch in the air, and thus increases your speed, quickness, vertical jump, etc. Think about it this way: who do you think will likely jump higher… a 150 pound guy who can squat 400 pounds, or a 300 pound guy who can squat 400 pounds? My money’s on the lighter guy, assuming his rate of force production and velocity are equivalent to the other guy, or even if slightly inferior. It definitely pays to have good pound-for-pound strength.

Anecdotally, I have a younger brother named John who’s about 5’11” or so… at his best, I’ve seen him do reverse slam dunks while pulling the ball down to his mid-chest level with both hands (below is a video of him dunking)… not bad for a guy of his stature. But what’s amazing to me is how much effort he put into his vertical jump, and how much I saw him improve, when he was a kid. What really helped him in the jumping arena was him developing serious leg strength via heavy squats, as well as improved muscular efficiency, velocity, and efficient force production via plyometric exercises. One summer during college, I remember training with him at Sand Dune Park in Manhattan Beach, which has an intensely steep and high hill made of sand, where we would hop up the hill with weights strapped onto us (I remember it well because I vomited at the top of the hill after my first workout session). But John worked hard throughout the summer and worked on plyometrics and squats… after which, he was skying and throwing down the basketball with ease.

Hope this helps in understanding how to improve your speed, power, and vertical jump. If I have time, in future posts, I will post some workouts that combine heavy weightlifting, plyometrics, and explosive weight training. Until next time, more power to ya! 😉

-Paul.


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How to set Fitness Goals and stick with them in the New Year!

Goal - Main

As we count down the hours to the new year, it’s now time to set our New Years Resolutions. But sadly, most us will break our resolutions within 6 months, and in fact, many of us won’t even last until Valentine’s Day. So what must you do to set goals and stick to them?

Although there are many plausible approaches, I’m going to share with you the strategy and methods that helped catapult me in 9 months from ~17% body fat to about 3.5% when I took pictures about 7 weeks ago (I will post the pics very soon). Believe me, it wasn’t easy… it took tremendous desire, planning, and creating the right environment to attain this goal, and I’d like to share what I did in this post so that you can take pieces from it for your own benefit.

1. Get Fired Up & Motivated

Before setting your goals, make sure you have the DESIRE and MOTIVATION to wholeheartedly pursue the goal(s) you set for yourself in 2013. Seriously, developing that burning motivation inside you is half the battle. So how do you get this drive? There are many ways to do this (you should get creative and get it in whatever way that you need to), but I will share a few.

  • Create a Motto or Slogan that epitomizes your desires and post it all over the place to remind you. For me, my attitude is summed up in big, red text in my home office (inspired by Steve Jobs, founder of Apple): I will die. I’ve got nothing to lose. A macabre slogan? Maybe, but for me, this means that I have no time to waste. It helps me to focus and maximize each day towards something that adds long-term value. It also means that I fear nothing (we all die, right?), and I will not let anyone or anything get in the way of accomplishing my goals. In a similar way, think about what drives you and your goals, and summarize that in one phrase. Then put it all over the place to remind and encourage you.
  • Negative Reinforcement. Another effective method is negative reinforcement. For example, if you are overweight and don’t like the way you look (like me earlier this year), post an unflattering picture of yourself in places that are private enough but in plain site, such as your bedroom, your home office, kitchen, etc… yes, it’s going to be an eye-sore, but you hate looking like that and need to change, right? Exactly. By the way, Arnold Schwarzenegger did precisely this to develop his calves into watermelons… his calves were relatively scrawny compared to the rest of his body (people would snicker), so he would always expose his calves in the gym for all to see, and the embarrassment motivated him to make them huge.
  • Postitive Reinforcement. Obviously, look to others who are successful in the area that you want to accel at, and imiate what they do. The closer you are to them and the more actual contact you have to them, the better because you can talk to them and get advice.
  • Penalties and Rewards. Money is a factor that drives a lot of people’s behaviors. Try putting $1,000 (or $100) “in escrow” with a close friend, and each week that you hit your goals (e.g. run for 30+ minutes 3 times per week), get $20 back from him/her (of course, if you fail during the week, you lose the $20). Believe me, this provides good incentive for a lot of people to hit their weekly goals 🙂

2. Visualize your Success.

I’ve learned that the mind is a supremely powerful tool. Whenever I have a goal, I visualize accomplishing that goal every single day. I think about it in the morning, while I’m driving (while keeping my eyes on the road, of course), while working out, and at night before going to bed. If you believe something in your mind and envision it over and over again, it really is so much easier to attain. As I got myself into shape this year, I continuously visualized how I would look when I reached my goal of 5% body fat, and this really helped encourage and drive me forward and ultimately helped me reach even BEYOND my initial goal.

3. Create an Environment around you that is Hospitable to Success.

John Donne said “No man is an island.” He’s right… we are part of an inter-related ecosystem, and depending on who and what you surround yourself with, it either helps or hurts you in terms of accomplishing your goals. This is exactly why you have to PROACTIVELY MOLD the environment around you.  If you’re trying to quit smoking, stop hanging out with people who smoke and stay away from settings that make you want to smoke. Instead, surround yourself with others who are trying to quit smoking and keep each other accountable. I’ve found that the following three things help create the right environment for success:

  1. Get an Accountability Partner(s) or a Peer Group to support you. Surrounding yourself with people who WANT to help you is one of the best ways to stay on the wagon. For example, get a workout partner who is also dedicated to working out with you 4 times per week, and keep each other accountable. Also, make some new friends at the gym who are motivated to work out or join a running group. Like-minded, motivated people can easily make the difference between success and failure.
  2. Identify the People and Settings that contribute to your failure, and cut those things loose. This is pretty straightforward. Recovering alcoholics should stay away from bars, right? If you find yourself feasting on a half gallon of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream each night after putting your kids to sleep,  then purge your refrigerator of such things (and make yourself a fruit smoothie with yogurt instead). And if playing video games after work contributes to you not going to the gym, well then, put your X-box up on eBay. Life is full of distractions… cut out the ones that are keeping you from being your very best. For me, I had to reduce my late-night beer consumption that contributed to empty, excess calories… it was tough at first, but once I stopped regularly buying a case of Newcastle or Guiness on my weekly grocery runs, I noticed immediate results.
  3. Develop routines that help keep you motivated and on-track. Human beings are creatures of habit, so implement good habits. One positive habit I developed this year is journaling and recording everything that I eat in a spreadsheet. Now that I know exactly what I’m eating and how it contributes to the way I look and feel, I’m more educated AND it naturally keeps me from going too crazy on my vices, like alcohol and junk food. Also, I developed the habit of always having protein bars close by – whether it’s in the car, in my house, or at work – because it’s often difficult to get adequate protein in the environment that I’m in.

4. Use S.M.A.R.T. Goal-setting to set, measure, assess, and reassess your goals.

You’ve heard of the S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting technique, right (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMART_criteria)? There are many variations of this acronym, but usually it stands for the following:

  • SPECIFIC: Your goal should not be a general, “pie-in-the-sky” goal, such as “I want to be physically fit!”; instead, it should be broken down into specific actions, such as “I will work out 3 times per week for at least 30 minutes per day” or “I will complete a half marathon this year by training 4 times per week for 40 minutes each session.”
  • MEASURABLE: By making your goal specific, you can MEASURE it; for example, you can test whether or not you went to the gym or jogged for 30~40 minutes, 3~4 times per week.
  • ATTAINABLE: Obviously, don’t make your goal something you cannot realistically attain. For example, if you are 500 pounds overweight, it will be much more realistic to target losing the weight in increments, rather than trying to lose all of that in six months (e.g. 20 pounds per week), which is unrealistic (and you will likely be discouraged).
  • RELEVANT: This is used more in a work context, but your goal should actually be relevant to your role or responsibilities. Obviously, pick the most relevant goals for yourself based on your needs or desires.
  • TIME-BOUND: Make sure your goals are bound by time. Don’t make them open-ended like, “I want to bench press 300 pounds” or “I  want to weight 110 pounds.” Instead, say, “I want to bench press 300 pounds by 12/31 of next year, and I will work out 4 times per week to attain it” or “I will lose 12 pounds by June 30 by eating an 1,800 calorie diet and losing 2 pounds per month.”

Remember to constantly measure your progress and assess/reassess. For example, as I slimmed down this year from ~17% body fat, my target was to get down to 5% body fat by the end of October, but I realized that I was well ahead of my pace and wanted to look even more ripped, so I decided to shoot below that when I reassessed myself a few weeks before my target date.

Finally, remember that we all have setbacks sometimes or we need to reset our goals to something more practical. That’s totally okay, and it’s actually part of growing and becoming successful. The important thing here is to be DISAPPOINTED but not DEJECTED. The difference is that if you feel dejected and hopeless, you’re likely to give up and lose motivation, but if you are disappointed, you can use it as a positive catalyst for renewing or strengthening your desire to succeed.

My Goals for this Year:

I’ll finish off by sharing my two goals for the first half of this year (one is personal and the other is professional):

  1. Personal: I want to Bench Press 405 pounds and squat 505 pounds again by June 30, 2013. I will accomplish this by using a mass and strength conditioning program and working out at least 4 times per week. In addition, I will continue to keep up my endurance by playing soccer or basketball at least 2 times per week (probably on Tuesdays and Sundays).
  2. Professional: I want to launch my new company before March 31, 2013. I will accomplish this by satisfactorily completing all remaining internal development & testing by January 31, completing User /Outside testing by February 15, and getting all required approvals and marketing partnerships completed by February 28.

Good luck to all of you in setting your goals. Happy New Year, and may this year bring huge success and happiness for you!


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Stay Fit while Traveling: Tips for the Road Warrior (2-Day/Full-Body Workout Included!)

One of the toughest obstacles to maintaining a good health & fitness routine is TRAVEL, whether it’s for work or for pleasure, because it throws off your routine in terms of the foods you eat, workout facilities, workout schedule, and your body’s natural rhythm. Apropos to this topic, I’ve been on a business trip to South Korea for almost a week now, with another week or two left. From the get-go, I knew this was going to be a very grueling trip, with many all-night work sessions with business partners, multiple “compulsory”  drinking events, and having to eat out pretty much every meal (many readers can probably relate to this on their trips). So before this trip, I tried to plan out as many health-related issues as I could to minimize the damage that I’d inevitably cause my body. So I made a list of the top fitness priorities while being on the road. They are as follows:

1. Get sufficient protein and vitamins.

It’s very difficult to get sufficient protein intake (at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight) when I’m on the road, so I went shopping on Black Friday for a bunch of protein bars, a bottle of multi-vitamins, and a ton of meal replacement powder (Myoplex) for when I’m on the road. This way, no matter what circumstance I encounter, I’d be ready. Below is a picture of some of the protein and vitamins that I brought on this trip. 

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This small preparation of protein in my luggage has gone a long way for me. In the morning, I drink a packet of Myoplex (meal replacement), which gives me 290 calories with 42 grams of protein (more than 20% of my daily protein requirement). My caloric and protein intake during the day is very sporadic and hard to predict, so this little piece of certainty goes a long way. Also, the protein bars (e.g. Atkins Bar, Zone Bar) have been extremely handy, as I’m locked in an office for much of the day, without time to go out and get the right kind of foods with high-quality protein. So I just pull one of these bars out and munch whenever a craving hits me, or when I feel I’m going too long without protein.

I brought enough protein bars to have up to 3 each day (3 x 19 grams = 57 grams of total protein), which was a wise decision. Noticeably missing from this trip is Whey protein – I had to drop this from my inventory because I didn’t have space to lug around a 5 pound tub of this stuff… yes, I could carry a smaller amount in a different container, but it wasn’t worth the hassle and extra luggage, given that I was already bringing meal replacement powder (I’m a guy, so I pack pretty light and don’t exactly travel “J-Lo style”, with an entourage and 35 suitcases, you know what I mean?).

2. Research the foods you might eat ahead of time (for nutritional analysis) and practice Portion Control when eating.

Don’t you hate getting sprung with uncertain foods that contain uncertain ingredients and calories, especially when you’re traveling overseas and you’re not as familiar with the foods of the other culture? That’s why I did my research in advance to see what the most likely foods I’d eat would be. I went online ahead of time and researched the nutritional content of some of the foods I would likely eat on the trip (Google is a powerful tool!). This helped give me a grasp of how much I would need to apply portion control to the foods I ate, based on my daily caloric budget.  If I encounter any foods that I don’t recognize, I try not to eat more than the amount that fits on my hand, until I learn more about the nutritional value. Below is a sampling of some of the foods I’ve eaten with business partners and friends on this trip, while practicing portion control:

Food Everywhere - 1

As I’ve said consistently throughout my blog, no matter what kind of diet you’re on (whether you’re trying to lose or gain weight), it doesn’t matter what types of foods you eat, as long as you (1) stay within your caloric budget and (2) get ample protein to fuel muscular repair and growth. Portion control comes in handy to help you stay within your caloric budget, and the protein bars and meal replacement powder have come in very handy in providing ample protein, given the uncertain dietary environment of this trip.

3. Adapt your workout to your environment (“Ghetto’s Gym”)

Remember that scene in Rocky 4, where Rocky goes to Russia and uses his natural surroundings to improvise workouts because he was given really crappy equipment and facilities (I especially love how he shoulder presses the carriage… what a beast!)? Well, sometimes you have to get creative because the workout facilities you encounter are inferior to the ones you are used to.

Rocky Scenes - 1

My business and pleasure trips have taken me to some remote places, including Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, etc. If you want to stay fit on trips to such places, you have to adapt and do what I call Ghetto’s Gym… this is where you improvise exercises based on the existing fitness equipment or do a ton of body-weight intensive exercises like push ups, burpees, bear crawls, inverted wall shoulder presses (upside down), pull ups, and situps. For example, on my trip last year to El Nido, a remote nature reserve in the Philippines, I performed a lot of wide-grip pull ups, behind-the-neck pull-ups, and bicep pull-ups while hanging off the side of the boats where I spent a lot of my time on during scuba diving and touring excursions… I just did them until I couldn’t do any more, then I’d force myself to do a few more partial reps 🙂

Ghetto's Gym - 1

Fortunately on this trip to Korea, the gym close by is of acceptable quality (better than most hotel gyms). I just pay ~$10 each time I work out, which is fine.

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Now, given the intense schedule on this trip, I condensed my workout to train my entire body in 2 sessions, with each session lasting about 35 minutes (I took the pic above after my first workout session in Seoul). I do these workouts every other day. Of course, this is not ideal to get maximum results, as I’m not training frequently enough or giving each body part enough attention, but it suffices for a super-busy business trip. I’ve outlined the workout regimen I’ve been using on this trip to Seoul below. Let me know what you think!

Busy Traveler’s 2-Day, Full-Body Training Workout: (each session is ~35 minutes)

Day 1: Work your Chest, Triceps, Biceps, Abs (~36 minutes)

  • Super-set #1:
    • Incline Bench Press (warm-up set): 15 reps. Don’t go to failure. Use moderately light weights and focus on pumping blood into your chest (I use 135 pounds)
    • Barbell Biceps Curl (warm-up set): 15 reps. Don’t go to failure.  Use moderately light weights and focus on pumping blood into your biceps (I use about ~70 pounds).
    • Rest: 60 seconds.
  • Super-set #2: 
    • Incline Bench Press (intermediate warm-up set): 10 reps. Don’t go to failure. Use moderate weights and focus on pumping blood into your chest while getting used to heavier weights (I use 225 pounds)
    • Barbell Biceps Curl (intermediate warm-up set): 10 reps. Don’t go to failure.  Use modestly light weights and focus on pumping blood into your biceps (I use about ~90 pounds).
    • Rest: 90 seconds.
  • Super-set #3: 
    • Incline Bench Press: Target 6 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights and focus on squeezing your chest at the top (I use 285 pounds).
    • Barbell Biceps Curl: Target 6 reps and go to failure.  Use heavy weights and focus on squeezing your biceps at the top (I use 145 pounds).
    • Rest: 90 seconds.
  • Super-set #4: 
    • Incline Bench Press: Target 8 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights and focus on squeezing your chest at the top (I use 235 pounds).
    • Barbell Biceps Curl: Target 8 reps and go to failure.  Use heavy weights and focus on squeezing your biceps at the top (I use 125 pounds).
    • Rest: 90 seconds.
  • Super-set #5: 
    • Dumbbell Flys: Target 6 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights and focus on squeezing your chest at the top.
    • Hammer Curl: Target 6 reps and go to failure.  Use heavy weights and focus on squeezing your biceps at the top.
    • Rest: 90 seconds.
  • Super-set #6: 
    • Dumbbell Flys: Target 8 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights and focus on squeezing your chest at the top.
    • Hammer Curl: Target 8 reps and go to failure.  Use heavy weights and focus on squeezing your biceps at the top.
    • Rest: 90 seconds.
  • Super-set #7:
    • Dumbbell Flys: Target 12 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights and focus on squeezing your chest at the top.
    • Hammer Curl: Target 12 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights and focus on squeezing your biceps at the top.
    • Rest: 90 seconds.
  • Tri-set #8:
    • Lying Triceps Extension (warm-up): 15 reps. Don’t go to failure. Use moderately light weights and focus on pumping blood into your triceps.
    • Lying Knee-up Crunches: 30 seconds.
    • Plank: 30 seconds.
    • Rest: 90 seconds
  • Tri-set #9:
    • Lying Triceps Extension: Target 8 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Lying Knee-up Crunches: 30 seconds.
    • Plank: 30 seconds.
    • Rest: 120 seconds
  • Tri-set #10:
    • Lying Triceps Extension: Target 10 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Lying Knee-up Crunches: 30 seconds.
    • Plank: 30 seconds.
    • Rest: 120 seconds
  • Tri-set #11:
    • Cable Triceps Pushdown: Target 6 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Seated Leg Raises: 30 seconds.
    • Plank: 30 seconds.
    • Rest: 120 seconds
  • Tri-set #12:
    • Cable Triceps Pushdown: Target 8 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Seated Leg Raises: 30 seconds.
    • Plank: 30 seconds.
    • Rest: 120 seconds
  • Tri-set #13:
    • Cable Triceps Pushdown: Target 10 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Seated Leg Raises: 30 seconds.
    • Plank: 30 seconds.

Day 2: Work your Shoulders, Back, Legs (~37 minutes)

  • Super-set #1:
    • Barbell Squat (warm-up set): 15 reps. Don’t go to failure. Use moderately light weights and focus on pumping blood into your quads.
    • Barbell Stiff Leg Deadlift (warm-up set): 15 reps. Don’t go to failure.  Use moderately light weights and focus on pumping blood into your hamstrings.
    • Rest: 90 seconds.
  • Super-set #2
    • Barbell Squat (intermediate warm-up set): 10 reps. Don’t go to failure. Use moderate weights and focus on pumping blood into your quads.
    • Barbell Stiff Leg Deadlift (intermediate warm-up set): 10 reps. Don’t go to failure.  Use moderate weights and focus on pumping blood into your hamstrings .
    • Rest: 120 seconds.
  • Super-set #3
    • Barbell Squat: Target 6 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Barbell Stiff Leg Deadlift (intermediate warm-up set): Target 6 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Rest: 150 seconds.
  • Super-set #4
    • Barbell Squat: Target 8 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Barbell Stiff Leg Deadlift (intermediate warm-up set): Target 8 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Rest: 150 seconds.
  • Super-set #5
    • Hang Clean Push Press (warm-up set): 15 reps. Don’t go to failure. Use moderately light weights.
    • Barbell Upright Row (warm-up set): 15 reps. Don’t go to failure. Use moderately light weights.
    • Rest: 120 seconds.
  • Super-set #6
    • Hang Clean Push Press (intermediate warm-up set): 10 reps. Don’t go to failure. Use moderate weights.
    • Barbell Upright Row (intermediate warm-up set): 10 reps. Don’t go to failure. Use moderate weights.
    • Rest: 120 seconds.
  • Super-set #7
    • Hang Clean Push Press: Target 6 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Barbell Upright Row: Target 6 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Rest: 120 seconds.
  • Super-set #8
    • Hang Clean Push Press: Target 8 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Barbell Upright Row: Target 8 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Rest: 120 seconds.
  • Super-set #9
    • Barbell Bent Over Row: Target 8 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Dumbbell Side Raises: Target 8 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Rest: 120 seconds.
  • Super-set #10
    • Barbell Bent Over Row: Target 10 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Dumbbell Side Raises: Target 10 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Rest: 120 seconds.
  • Super-set #11
    • Barbell Bent Over Row: Target 10 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Dumbbell Side Raises: Target 10 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Rest: 120 seconds.
  • Set #12
    • Machine Calf Raise: Target 8 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Rest: 60 seconds.
  • Set #13
    • Machine Calf Raise: Target 12 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Rest: 60 seconds.
  • Set #14
    • Machine Calf Raise: Target 12 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.


4 Comments

Every Dieter needs a “Super Food” to fall back on: Introducing my Turkey Chili!

Anyone who’s ever dieted knows how difficult it is to lose weight while getting toned and cut up. And apropos to this Thanksgiving ‘s “Caloric Armageddon” season, I want to share one of my “secret” Super Foods with you, which has helped me tremendously in my own diet, in terms of losing down to under 4% body fat. And this is where I’d like to give a major shout-out to my good friend, Sandra Chan, who gave me the recipe to this simple yet wonderful dish (God bless your soul, Sandra… you’re like an amateur Bobby Flay, seriously!).

So what makes something a Super Food? Well, when you’re dieting and working out, you need to find foods that offer four things: Foods that (1) are Tasty to allow you to stick with the diet for an extended time; (2) are LOW in Calorie while being HIGH in Nutritional Value; (3) Suppress your hunger and keep you full longer; and (4) are High in Protein to fuel your recovery & muscle development while keeping you under your caloric budget.

But it’s SO DIFFICULT to find foods that fit all of these criteria. Foods that generally taste good are high in calories and/or low in nutritional value, and foods that are good for you and low in calorie either don’t have enough protein or taste like a sweaty sock. Well, guess what? This Turkey Chili recipe is one of the single best meals that I know which checks off everything on the list above. Practically speaking, this Turkey Chili has worked wonders for me… as you know, hunger is one of the most difficult feelings to control. And for me, my biggest hunger attacks come late in the evening, as I crank away with work until the wee hours of the morning (usually 3~4 AM)… at these times, I feel like I could devour the entire meat section at Lucky’s, and I begin scouring my kitchen for food to annihilate. But when I eat a cup (or 2 cups if I’m incredibly hungry) of this Turkey chili, the cravings disappear, and I’m my normal “Dr. Jekyll” self again (as opposed to Mr. Hyde), at least for a few more hours 🙂 Scientifically, it turns out that the high fiber, high protein, and high cholecystokinin content in this dish helps to suppress hunger and appetite, keep your insulin levels at even keel, and ultimately keep you on track to lose fat.

Turkey Chili Recipe

So without further ado, here is the recipe for my favorite Turkey Chili. And Gentlemen! This dish is so easy to make, even culinary-challenged guys like us can make this dish with our eyes closed. For the most part, you throw a bunch of ingredients into a pot and heat it up. Here’s what you need:

Ingredients:

  • 99% lean ground Turkey: 32 ounces (2 pounds), raw.
  • 1 Can of Diced Tomatoes: 3.5 cups.
  • 1 Can of Pinto Beans in Chili Sauce: 1.75 cups.
  • 1 Can of Black Beans: 1.5 cups.
  • 1 Can of Garbanzo Beans: 1.75 cups.
  • 1 Can of Dark Red Kidney Beans: 1.75 cups.
  • 1 Can of Whole Kernel Corn: 1.75 cups.
  • Chili Powder: 2 tablespoons.
  • “Better than Buillon” Chicken Base: 2 tablespoons(3.5 cups of chicken stock can be used as an alternative).
  • Water: 3.5 cups (if you use chicken stock instead of “Better than Buillon”, do not add water).
  • Optional ingredients: you can put in diced onions, garlic, and other vegetables in for more flavor.

Step 1: Cook the lean, ground Turkey lightly (I like it medium rare). Put the contents into the pot.

Step 2: Add the rest of the ingredients into the pot. Drain the juice of the Black Beans, Garbanzo Beans, Dark Red Kidney Beans, and Whole Kernel Corn before putting them into the pot.

Step 3: Heat up the contents on a stove and serve! FYI, I love to put Tabasco sauce in mine, as it gives it a nice, spicy kick, and it tastes oh, so good!

This makes a large pot full of Turkey Chili – about 19~20 cups (~20 servings). But the truly amazing thing is that not only is this delicious, nutritionally dense, very filling, and high in protein, but this entire pot contains less than 3,000 calories! This is awesome, considering it’s enough food for several days to a week’s worth of moderate eating for most people (in conjunction with other foods).

Nutrition Information

I calculated the nutrition information based on the ingredients, divided by the servings: each 1 cup serving (~8 oz, or about 2 scoops of a regular home ladle) contains the following nutrition:

  • Calories: 155 kcal
  • Protein: 16 grams (~40% of calories)
  • Carbohydrate: 19 grams (~50% of calories)
  • Fat: 1.8 grams (~10% of calories)

Frankly, if I wanted to, I could probably do an entire diet program off of this one food alone! Normally, it takes ridiculous discipline for me to diet at 2,000 calories per day (I usually go higher at around 2,600), but with this dish, I could technically do it AND get enough protein intake for the day (at least 175+ grams of protein, with 200 + grams being my ideal goal) while staying full and satiated.

Try this out at home. This is a secret weapon of mine that has helped my diet. When you try it and it works, don’t thank me, you can thank my friend Sandra  🙂 Enjoy your Thanksgiving, and until next time, stay healthy and motivated!


6 Comments

Say NO to Chicken Legs: Why it’s Vital to Work Your Legs (40-minute full leg workout included)

(Pic: Demonstration of Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlifts)

Legs… they’re the largest muscle group in your body and are vital for so many of your daily activities, from walking, running, jumping, playing with your kids, playing sports, etc. And yet they are the most neglected body part when it comes to working out. I know you’ve heard people ask, “how much do you bench?” But have you ever heard anyone ask, “how much do you squat?” Probably not, unless you’re talking specifically about squats. This shows how non prioritized leg workouts are in our society. It’s kind of funny to see the wide gamut of excuses that people employ for why they don’t work their legs. I’ve heard so many, ranging from “My legs are big already” to “I run for my legs” to “I don’t do legs because I won’t be quick and flexible.” Well let me pull out my B.S. translator… hmmm let’s see… it says these excuses are often used by people who are usually lazy or unmotivated to work legs because it takes so much effort… it also says that sometimes these excuses are used legitimately by people who really don’t know any better.

It’s important to realize that you can work your legs to accomplish many different goals, just like you can for your other muscles. If you want, you can train to get your legs big, muscular, and strong (e.g. power lifters, strength athletes). On the other hand, instead of focusing on getting super thick legs, you can work them to be functionally strong, quick, and flexible, like what sprinters and professional athletes who play football, soccer, basketball, etc. do. Actually, I’m one of those people whose goal for legs is not to necessarily become “Quadzilla” but to build functional strength, agility, and quickness for sports – naturally, these workouts come with size gains, which is great, but again, this is a somewhat secondary for me to athletic performance. And I accomplish this goal by combining hard leg workouts in the gym with actual game play (e.g. soccer, basketball) and plyometrics. The only challenge that I carefully manage is to plan my workouts and sporting activities so that I have plenty of time to recover from each activity and give my full attention to the next. For example, as I’ve gotten older, I definitely need at least 48 hours to recover from a soccer or basketball game, and I need even more days to recover from a hard leg workout. So what I do is play indoor soccer on Tuesday nights with my team, work my legs with weights on Thursdays, then play basketball on Sunday evenings. This allows me to recover from each activity to concentrate fully on the next. Now, you may ask the question whether intense, heavy leg workouts have hampered my speed and agility? Not at all, in fact, they have helped me become faster and more powerful. Frankly, I love the look on a defender’s face after I burn the crap out of him all night to score a hat-trick or drive around him all day for easy layups… they simply don’t expect a “beefy” guy to be faster and quicker than them. But hey, look at NFL running backs… they are some of the fastest, most powerful, and most agile people around, and those guys do serious squats, deadlifts, and legs in general, so obviously, these workouts help performance. The point I want to make is that having different goals for your leg development is totally acceptable – what’s not acceptable is not training them because you’re lazy, it takes too much effort, or you have some erroneous notion of intense leg workouts.

Below, I’ve summarized the primary reasons why, in my opinion, legs are the most critical body parts to work out in your entire body:

  1. Releases more natural, anabolic hormones in your body than other exercises. Research shows that working legs releases more growth hormone and testosterone naturally in the body versus other exercises. As such, working your legs benefit your other body parts because of the increase in these natural bodily hormones. Ladies, there’s no need to worry, as increased natural testosterone will help your workouts but won’t make you more masculine, I promise 🙂
  2. Burns the most calories and fat. Your legs are the largest muscle group in your body. As such, working your legs burns the highest amount of calories and fat. This is fantastic, especially if you are looking to get more toned or trying to lose weight/fat.
  3. Fundamental for all sports, athletics, and day-to-day activities. Can you think of many physical, day-to-day activities or sports that don’t involve your legs? Whether you’re carrying luggage, cleaning out your garage, running, jumping, or playing sports, your legs are essential for success. As such, you will see your athleticism improve as you continue to develop your legs.
  4. Achieve large strength and muscle gains EVERYWHERE on your body. The cool thing about working out your legs is that these exercises benefit many other parts of your body. For example, doing squats and deadlifts will not only strengthen your legs and butt, but they also strengthen your lower back, core, and upper body muscles (yes, it’s true!). If you have never done weighted leg exercises before, I promise you that you will see huge increases, not only in legs, but also in other areas when you start working your legs. It’s actually quite amazing.
  5. Symmetry (e.g. NO CHICKEN LEGS!). Finally, you don’t want to be the person that people laugh about at the gym… you know, the one people say should be walking on their hands as opposed to their legs? You want to make sure you have a good balance in your body, even for the sake of aesthetics alone!
  6. It gives you a sexy looking butt! Seriously, it does! Many of you will now work your legs, just because of this, right? Oh well, whatever gets you to do it!

My 40-minute Leg Workout

I’ll finish off this segment by sharing a 40-minute leg workout that I use quite frequently. Again, I change my workout around quite a bit, but when I’m pressed on time, this one works like magic. It’s optimized to build general strength and power in your legs. Now, here’s a few things to remember when you’re working your legs:

  • Stretch and warm up your body well, especially your legs, knee joints & ligaments, and lower back. Leg workouts put tremendous strain on these body parts.
  • Use strict form and be particularly careful with your knees and lower back. These are very critical areas of your body, and injury to them can cause serious disruption to your life, work, and athletics. As such, it’s especially important to use strict form and focus on safety.
  • When you do Squats, do not go lower than “90 degrees” unless you are using much lighter weights. There is a bit of tradeoff between incremental growth by breaking 90 degrees (where your butt is almost touching the ground) versus the risk of serious knee injury – in my opinion, the very slight gain from going down all the way until your butt nearly touches the ground is not worth the dramatic increase in potential injury. I know many people who’ve sustained serious injuries from going down too deep in their squats, and they are never the same afterwards. As such, I espouse going down deep, but only until your thighs are parallel or close to parallel to the ground – I don’t recommend you go down any lower than that, unless you are on a very specific program and you are using much lighter weights.

1. Squats: 5 total sets. Go down until your thighs are parallel or close to parallel to the ground. Don’t go lower than that because the risk of injury outweighs any potential benefit. Also, keep a natural arch in your back and look up 45 degrees in the air while doing your sets, as this helps you keep the natural arch in your back. NEVER round your back, as this is a one-way ticket to injury.

  • Warm-up Set 1 (very light weights): 15 reps @ ~30% of 1RM(1-rep max). I use 135 lbs.
    • Rest: 90 seconds afterwards.
  • Warm-up Set 2 (light weights): 10 reps @ ~50% of 1RM. I use 225~275 pounds.
    • Rest: 90 seconds afterwards.
  • Heavy Set 3: 5 reps @ ~85-90% of 1RM. Go to failure. I use 385~405 lbs.
    • Rest: 2 ½ minutes afterwards.
  • Heavy Set 4: 5 reps @ 85-90% of 1RM. Go to failure. I use 385~405 lbs.
    • Rest: 2 ½ minutes afterwards.
  • Burnout Set 5: 10~15+ reps @ ~65% 1RM. Go to failure within this range. I use 275~315 lbs.
    • Rest: 2 ½ minutes afterwards. Go to your next workout station.

2. Leg Extensions: 3 total sets. Squeeze your quad muscles up at top and pause momentarily. Focus on getting a great contraction and pump.

  • Intermediate Warm-up Set 1: 15 reps. Don’t go to failure but focus on feeling the pump and the contraction.
    • Rest: 90 seconds afterwards.
  • Heavy Set 2: 6~10 reps. Go heavier. You should fail on your 8th ~ 10threp.
    • Rest: 90 seconds afterwards.
  • Burnout Set 3: 10~15 reps to failure. Drop the weights to somewhere between your warm-up set and your heavy set. Target going to failure around the 10th ~ 15th rep.
    • Rest: 2 minutes afterwards. Go to your next workout station.

3. Stiff Leg Deadlifts: 4 total sets. Be careful of your lower back on this exercise. Keep a slight arch in your back at all times. Do NOT round your back. Be sure to keep the bar in contact with your legs while doing this exercise (e.g. slide the bar down your thighs and shins), which helps keep tension on your hamstrings and glutes, which is the objective of this exercise.

  • Warm-up Set 1 (very light weights): 15 reps @ ~30% of 1RM(1-rep max). I use 135 lbs.
    • Rest: 90 seconds afterwards.
  • Warm-up Set 2 (light weights): 10 reps @ ~50% of 1RM. I use 225 pounds.
    • Rest: 90 seconds afterwards.
  • Heavy Set 3: 5 reps @ ~85-90% of 1RM. Go to failure. I use 315~335 lbs.
    • Rest: 2 ½ minutes afterwards.
  • Burnout Set 4: 10~15+ reps @ ~65% 1RM. Go to failure within this range. I use ~235 lbs.
    • Rest: 2 ½ minutes afterwards. Go to your next workout station.

4. Leg Curls: 3 total sets. Squeeze your hamstrings at the top and pause momentarily. Focus on getting a great contraction and pump.

  • Intermediate Warm-up Set 1: 15 reps. Don’t go to failure but focus on feeling the pump and the contraction.
    • Rest: 90 seconds afterwards.
  • Heavy Set 2: 6~10 reps. Go heavier. You should fail on your 6th ~ 10threp.
    • Rest: 90 seconds afterwards.
  • Burnout Set 3: 10~15 reps to failure. Drop the weights to somewhere between your warm-up set and your heavy set. Target going to failure around the 10th ~ 15th rep.
    • Rest: 2 minutes afterwards. Go to your next workout station.

5. Calf Raises3 total sets to failure. Go all the way down to stretch your calves, then go up and hold at the top of the movement. Don’t just go through the motion, exhaust your muscles.

  • Set 1:Perform 10 reps to failure. Select weights where you fail around ~10 reps.
    • Rest: 60 seconds afterwards.
  • Set 2: Perform 10 reps to failure. Select weights where you fail around ~10 reps.
    • Rest: 60 seconds afterwards.
  • Burnout Set 3: Perform 15~20 reps to failure. Select weights where you fail around 15~20 reps.

Let me know what you think about this workout. And remember… don’t neglect your legs because they’re the most important muscles in your body to work out!