Category Archives: Fat Loss

How to Sprint Faster

A big part of why I founded Primal Strength Camp is because fundamental skills that were once prevalent in mankind are eroding from our society. The most common of those is the ability to run.

At Primal Strength Camp, we are geared towards performance so training to sprint faster is commonplace. There are a variety of things you can do to sprint faster and fortunately a lot of those things align with other things you should be doing in the gym anyway.

sprint faster

#1: Lose Body Fat

Blinding flash of the obvious I’m sure, but carrying extra weight, other than for leverage in some big lifts, does nothing for your athletic performance. The extra weight will make you slower, less agile and mobile, and less healthy overall. Drop the weight with high-intensity cardio and clean up your diet.

#2: Increase Your Explosiveness

You’ve heard me talk about ways to increase your explosiveness to lift bigger weights but how does that translate to sprinting faster? The more explosive you are, the more force you can generate. To sprint faster you need to produce a lot of force from the ground through your posterior chain and the rest of your body.

Lifting heavy weights, plyometrics, and medicine ball work are all things you should be doing in the weight room that will develop your explosiveness and help you sprint faster.

#3: Improve Your Posture

This is by far the most common problem I see when I watch people run. Office jobs, long bouts of sitting, too many video games for kids, and overworking the muscle groups you can see (chest, shoulders, etc.) and neglecting your posterior chain are all major contributors to bad posture.

Bad posture directly translates to poor running mechanics.

This correction can be made through conscious effort and persistence. When walking and sitting, you should be thinking about a big chest and retracted shoulder blades, rather than slouching. You can make a lot of progress just by sitting up and walking “proud”. In the gym, try retracting and holding your shoulder blades at the lockout of your deadlifts (using lightweight).

#4: Increase Your Stride Length

The longer your strides, the faster you will cover more ground. A lot of this goes back to #2 and being more explosive, but more specifically you must focus on driving with your legs.

In most cases this means driving your legs back and creating more leverage with each stride. Focus on “pulling the ground” away from your body with your feet and actively engaging your posterior chain.

To improve your stride length and technique, prowler and sled pushes and pulls are the best remedy. The necessary movement to move the prowler or sled mimics running technique.

#5: Strengthen Your Hip Flexors

I always talk about hill sprints as the only thing you need to do for fat loss, but they also indirectly help you sprint faster. The stronger your hip flexors and the more force they can generate, the faster you can sprint.

The top sprinters in the world focus on hip flexor development, so in addition to hill sprints, emphasize hanging leg raises and knee drives (explosively move your knee upwards to your chest). You can add resistance to your knee drives as well by strapping your foot into a cable machine.

— Tank

Contrast Training To Boost Strength Gains

Contrast training is one of the most effective ways to increase your strength levels, power output, muscle mass, metabolic function for fat loss, and overall performance levels.

contrast training
Sprinting with a parachute or sled, followed by sprinting with no resistance, is a great example of contrast training.

I first read about contrast training in Yuri Verkhoshansky’s Supertraining, but I have seen it employed elsewhere for a variety of different training goals and applications.

The concept is simple. Taking an example from Verkhoshansky and something we’ve probably all done in our lives, imagine picking up a can that was half full of liquid when our mind thought it was full. Typically what happens is we move the can with much more force than we intended and make a big mess. Our nervous system was primed based on past performance and therefore muscle capability was enhanced.

Now apply this to strength training. There are two different ways I use contrasts in my training. I use contrasting movements (an explosive movement after a heavy lift) and I use contrasting tempos (lighter loads with explosive, faster tempo than normal).

Using either of these, think of the above water example. Working in explosive movements/tempos after a strength movement recruits more motor units and produces more force. The benefits are straightforward. The more muscle you recruit, the more explosive, strong, and powerful you are. Contrast training also increases the amount of work you are doing giving you a greater metabolic boost than normal training. And obviously, the more muscle you recruit, the more hypertrophy you can induce (although you may want to up your reps slightly for a hypertrophy focus).

Putting Contrast Training Into Practice

Ok, so you get the concept, but how do you actually implement it? As mentioned before, I use contrast training in two different ways.

#1 Contrasting Movements

Start with a 5-8 rep set of a heavy lift and pair it with an unloaded explosive movement with the same rep scheme. For example, a heavy set of squats followed by a set of box jumps; or a heavy set of bench followed by a set of plyo push-ups; or a heavy sled drag followed by an all-out sprint.

contrast training
Heavy squats followed by max effort box jumps will increase your strength and explosiveness.

Your unloaded contrasting movement should be done with maximal effort. Rest times in between your heavy lift and contrast movement can vary and is goal dependent. If you goal is maximal strength, rest for 3 minutes. If your goal is for increased athletic performance or fat loss, rest for 30 seconds or no rest at all. For hypertrophy, split the difference somewhere in between.

Four to five sets (of each movement) will do the trick. Use the lower end of the rep scheme for maximal strength, and the upper end for hypertrophy and fat loss. You don’t need to use contrast movements every training session, as I don’t recommend training maximally for extended periods of time, but continuously keep it as part of your training toolkit.

#2 Contrasting Tempos

For this, you are doing the same movement (bench, squat, deadlift, etc.) for three sets, but varying the tempo in which your perform it. You start with a set of slow tempo emphasizing the eccentric movement of the lift, then perform a set faster than normal, and then perform a normal one. Here is an example:

Set 1: Using a moderate weight (70-80% of your 1 rep max), you use a very slow tempo (about 5 seconds on the negative portion of the lift) and then pause near the bottom of the lift for 2-3 seconds. For squats the pause would be at roughly parallel, for bench, the bar just above your chest, etc. The idea here is that you keep full body tension. After the pause, you perform the concentric part of the lift normally. This set is done for 2-3 reps, and then you rest for 2 minutes.

Set 2: This set is done with lighter weight (60-70%) but done explosively. You control the eccentric portion, but explode from the bottom applying as much force as you can. This set is for 3-5 reps, and then rest for 60 seconds.

Set 3: This set is done with the heaviest weight (80-85%) using normal tempo (2 seconds down, no pause, 2 seconds up). This set is for 4-6 reps and then you rest 3 minutes.

You perform this series of sets (all 3) 2-3 times, giving you a total of 6-9 sets.

After your last set, try to end your training with the tempo that is most conducive to your goals. For example, if you are a strength athlete always end your training with the heaviest set. If you’re a an athlete and are trying to develop explosiveness, then add in an extra set of set #2 at the end of the series. For hypertrophy, end the series with an extra set of #1.

contrast training
This is perfect position for pausing at the bottom of the squat.

Training Smarter, Not Harder

Use contrast training to help boost your performance, but know how to tailor them to your goals based on the recommendations I gave above. These are easy to integrate into any strength training program, so use them to your advantage and break through your plateaus. But as with anything else, do not overuse them to the point that they lose their effectiveness.

— Tank

Training Finishers for Fat Loss and Muscle Gain

Want to boost fat loss, improve your conditioning, build some extra muscle, and increase your mental toughness, all in less than 20 minutes?

Adding training finishers to the end of your workouts is an extremely effective way to do all of the above.

Most of the time Primal finishers take the form of either high-intensity cardio, a hard hitting bodyweight circuit, or a strength movement with a conditioning component built around improving mental toughness.

Since finishers are meant to be high-intensity, you only need to do them a few times a week and are not meant to be done after every training session. Doing finishers too often will jeopardize your recovery times and strain your central nervous system (CNS), and if you are working your ass off during the main components of your training sessions, they just aren’t necessary all of the time. Keep your finishers to 20 minutes in duration or less.

battle rope finishers

High-Intensity Cardio Finishers

Primal conditioning philosophy centers around high-intensity cardio and using finishers in this fashion is a perfect opportunity to burn some extra fat. High-intensity cardio burns more fat calories in a shorter period of time than steady state cardio like jogging or the stair climber, and it will have a long lasting metabolic effect, boosting fat loss for up to 24 hours after you have left the gym.

Here are some examples of high-intensity cardio finishers:

  1. Battle Rope Finisher: 3-4 rounds of battle rope for intervals of 30 seconds to 90 seconds or more. Non-stop movement of the ropes switching between rope slams (single and double arm variations), rope jumping jacks, and shoulder rotations. Rest 1-2 minutes between rounds.
  2. Hill Sprints: This is the most classic and effective fat burning cardio you can do. 5 – 10 sprints with 1-2 minutes rest in between rounds will do the trick. Your rest period includes time spent walking back down the hill.
  3. Sled and Prowler Work: Weighted sled pulls and sprints, and loaded prowler pushes make for brutal conditioning finishers. Pulls/pushes for 50 feet or more with short breaks in between movements work best.

Bodyweight Circuits

Bodyweight circuits are one of my favorite finishers to not only boost fat loss, but also build muscle and throw in some extra volume to my training sessions. You can do circuits with light resistance as well, but if you worked hard enough during the core of your training session it probably isn’t necessary. Bodyweight yields a good training effect while minimizing wear and tear on your body that increases recovery times. Using a circuit that recruits the entire body will boost the effectiveness of the finisher.

An example would be:

1a) Pushups x 10
1b) Recline Rows x 10
1c) Jump Squats x 10

Perform each exercise consecutively without rest in between. Completing all 3 constitutes one round. Rest 30 seconds to 2 minutes after each round. Perform 3-5 rounds.

Strength and Mental Toughness Finishers

These are my favorite finishers to use. I like leaving the gym knowing I gave it everything I had and really testing yourself at the end of a training session is a sure-fire way to end on a high note. The strength component of this finisher should involve heavy weight but with a movement that has little risk for technical error or injury. With this in mind, I often turn to heavy farmers carries or carrying odd objects like kegs, sandbags, or stones.

You will get a strength, muscle building, conditioning, and mental toughness training effect with this kind of finisher. I also like combining this type of finisher with high-intensity cardio as a form of contrast training.

A couple examples of this type of finisher would look like:

  1. Kettlebell farmers carries for 150 feet.
  2. Heavy object carries for 150 feet in a variety of positions (zercher, shouldered, cleaned, overhead). Keep in mind risk for technical error and increasing the difficulty with different positions since you are already fatigued from your entire training session.
  3. Farmers carries for 50 – 150 feet followed immediately by a hill sprint.

farmers carry finishers

Wrapping Up

  • Finishers are a great way to boost fat loss, improve conditioning, increase muscle mass, and build mental toughness.
  • The best finishers can be high-intensity cardio, bodyweight circuits, and strength and mental toughness movements.
  • Do not perform finishers after every training session because they can jeopardize your recovery times and increase CNS fatigue.

— Tank

Primal Nutrition: The Carbs at Night Myth

When I explain to people how I eat, and how I would recommend them to eat, I always get the same response.

“But Tank, doesn’t eating a lot of carbs at night make you fat?”

This cements the fact that fitness and diet myths are deep rooted and it makes my job as a strength coach even more important to help spread some truth.

Calories at night are not bad. Carbs at night are not bad. Eating this way will not make you fat.

But you will get fat by over-eating your carb and caloric needs throughout the course of the entire day.

Stuffing your face all day and then piling a huge dinner on top of that ups your chances of overshooting your caloric needs and packing on the pounds.

This is where it’s important to look at your diet as a whole (24 hour cycle) as opposed to meal by meal.

Primal Man vs Modern Man

Not eating a lot of carbs at night goes completely against Primal instincts and history, and is the complete opposite of our psyche and social patterns.

primal diet

Primal man under-ate throughout the course of the day because he was too busy grazing, hunting, fetching water, running from saber tooth tigers, and hustling his ass off to survive. After he returned home at night, he’d lounge around and feast on his daily conquests replenishing his glycogen stores from a hard day’s work, and sleep deeply with a full stomach. That nightly feast fueled him for the following day’s activity.

Fast forward to modern society. Our DNA has barely changed from Primal man. Our lives are somewhat different as far as our activity and exertion levels, but our routines and instincts are not. Most of us work during the day (albeit it sitting on our asses much more, which is another reason to not eat big during the day). At some point, we lift heavy weights and train. After work, current norms call for happy hours, social dinners, and family feasts where eating big is a natural occurrence. Our natural psychology makes kicking back and eating big at night appealing.

How I Recommend Eating

So why go against the grain of what our minds, bodies, and social patterns tell us? Is there a better way to approach our daily eating routines?

Of course there is.

First off, I’m a huge fan of intermittent fasting and under-eating during the day. And despite the potential backlash I get from the community, I’m not a big breakfast fan either. That’s a whole other story, but if you want the low-down on that, check it out here: Is Breakfast Really That Important?

Fasting allows you to burn body fat at a much higher rate naturally, and minimizes the amount of time you need to spend doing cardio. Under-eating during the day keeps your energy levels up and makes you much more productive.

(Besides, as I alluded to earlier, unless you work a manual labor job, you simply don’t need a lot of caloric intake during the day. An no, you will not go catabolic if you don’t eat every few hours. That’s another myth perpetuated by the fitness/supplement industry).

Then after a day of work and intense training, your body will be in a glycogen depleted state in the evening.

Enter the nightly feast.

Because you under-eat during the day, your body will be primed for calories and carbs, causing carbs to be much more likely stored as glycogen rather than fat. Eating big following the day’s activity will also promote recovery, muscle repair, and help put you in an enhanced anabolic state for growth.

Coinciding with our natural instincts, eating big at night will also promote deeper sleep, critical for protecting your nervous and hormonal systems. And by refueling your glycogen stores in the evening, you will be fueled for upwards of 12 hours, which will carry you well into the next day.

** Because you under-eat during the day, it is critical that you make up your caloric deficit at night and eat enough to put yourself in a caloric surplus if you are trying to gain weight **

Plus, you’ll probably be far happier eating this way and I can almost guarantee that this will be more conducive to your lifestyle and social schedule.

This is precisely how I eat, and how a lot of my clients eat as well. I’ve never strayed above 15% body fat eating this way, and if I need to gain weight, I just up my caloric intake for the day (I gained 20 pounds in 2 months this past summer maintaining this lifestyle to prep for a Strongman competition).

The Bottom Line

Look at your diet as a whole.

Eating carbs at night and increasing the caloric content of your nightly meals is just a way of shifting your eating patterns (which will align much more closely with your psyche, Primal instincts, social schedule, and your goals of fat loss and muscle growth).

This way of eating has been documented by countless studies, and I’ve been eating this way for years. Everyone I’ve ever converted to this style of eating is amazed at how quickly they see results, not only in their body, but in their mindset as well.

Don’t let the “carbs at night” myth mess with your lifestyle. In fact, eat big at night and start reaping the rewards.

— Tank

Best Exercises You Aren’t Doing

best exercisesSome of these may seem obvious to you, but inevitably we all can neglect some of the best exercises for building size and strength.

Take a look back at your training logs and see how much time you are devoting to these. I bet you’d be surprised at what you find. I meticulously plan my workouts every single day, but when I look back on my records, I can always find at least one these best exercises that I’m neglecting.

Missing something from this list in your training? It’s time to make it a priority. Maybe that means scrapping something else from your current training plan to fit these in, and in that case, you are welcome for the intervention.

  1. Deadlifts – What? Everybody does deadlifts right? Wrong. The average gym rat doesn’t spend enough time making these a focus, or they commit one of the greatest gym sins of all by not deadlifting period. They are one of the greatest tests of overall body strength, and if you aren’t doing these with regularity, I can guarantee you that you aren’t meeting your full strength potential.
  2. Pushups – Amazing that such a classic can get overlooked, but it happens on a regular basis. Hall of Fame NFL running back Hershel Walker claims he built his body totally from push-ups. Not sure I buy it, but I’d rather be safe than sorry. An easy way to make sure to get these in is by incorporating them into a warmup or a finisher.
  3. Pullups – Same as above. After you can do 15 perfect pull-ups, vary your grip and start working on some of the variations.
  4. Glute Ham Raises – Weak hamstrings are the single most pervasive muscle imbalance across the planet. Weak hammies will hinder you in the deadlift, squat, sprinting, and a myriad of other athletic performance activities. If you don’t have access to a glute ham machine, there a variety of different techniques to perform them, or you can substitute in Romanian deadlifts, good mornings, hip thrusts, hamstring curls and boxsquats. If this list was a top 15, all of these would be on there.
    best exercises
    If you don’t have a glute ham machine, there are a variety of alternatives.
  5. Farmer Carries – These are a must and one of my favorite exercises. They make a great training finisher and will work wonders for your upper back, grip strength, forearms, and mental toughness.
  6. Squats – Kinda goes hand in hand with #1. If you don’t want to look like a lightbulb, you gotta squat. Squat often, squat for a lot of reps, and squat heavy. As I mentioned with pull-ups, work in some of the squat variations like front squats, box squats, and single-leg squats. All of these will help improve your flexibility, technique, and strength.
  7. Hang Cleans – Performing these will do wonders for building mass on your entire upper body and for developing your explosiveness. Hang cleans produce 4 times as much power as squats and deadlifts, and 9 times as much as the bench press, according to some research. They are also fairly easy to learn, making them a great addition to the classics like bench, squats, overhead pressing, and deadlifting.
    best exercises
    There are several starting positions for doing cleans. I like hang cleans because they require more upper body strength and force and the technique is much easier to learn than full cleans.
  8. Kettlebell Swings – These are the easiest of the kettlebell lifts to learn and one of the most effective. Benefits for your legs, shoulders, hips, mobility, explosiveness and power make this fat burning lift a must for your strength training routine.
  9. Hill Sprints – Get outside and run some hills for fat loss. I always feel sorry for the suckers I see on the stair stepper or treadmill for hours on end when they could be outside doing 20 minutes of hill sprints and get a far better training effect. Hill sprints are the single most efficient way to burn fat. No more elliptical, I’m begging you.
  10. Hanging Leg Raises – In my opinion, these are one of the best core exercises you could do. Not only do they strengthen your ab muscles, but they target your hip flexors as well. They offer a great range of motion and help improve your mobility.

— Tank

How to Program Your High-Intensity Cardio

Conditioning is a vital component of being strong and able to perform.  Not only do you need it to stay lean and mean, but building up your work capacity is the only way to push yourself in the gym on a continual basis and amp up your volume.  If you are out of shape, you cannot progress.  Bottom line.

For many people, they fear conditioning will take away from their gains and they are unsure of how to fit it into their programming.  Have no fear.  If you are training the right way, and not running yourself into the ground, you will shed some fat and build some muscle at the same time.

First of all, you should know what kind of cardio to limit yourself to.  Read this: Cardio For Getting Shredded

Sprinters
Now, as far as programming goes, you have a number of options.

The main thing you need to realize is that you should treat your cardio as you would a lifting session.  What I mean is that you should base your programming around the effort you use for those conditioning sessions and the frequency and timing in which you do it.

So, to throw an example out there, you don’t want to go through a heavy squat workout and then go perform a 100% puke inducing hill sprint session the following day (or vice versa).

There are two simple ways to fit in your high-intensity cardio.

The first is to pair your conditioning sessions with your lifting.  Tack on an extra 20 minutes to your workout to get your hill sprints and sled work in.  Then give yourself a full 48 hours of rest before you tackle another conditioning session.  Some of you may have the discipline to do this. Others read this and probably say “F*ck!  The last thing I want to do after lifting my ass off is do a conditioning session.”

The remedy to this would be two-a-days.  Separate your sprinting from your lifting session by 6 hours or so.  Back in the day, I would jump and sprint at 10am, then go lift at 4pm.  For those of you really trying to cut the fat, hitting up your sprinting sessions first thing in the morning in a fasted state might help you burn more fat than you otherwise would later in the day. Just make sure you drink some coffee or caffeine to increase the thermogenic effect and take in about 10 grams of amino acids to prevent any form of muscle loss.  If you are keeping your sessions to 20 minutes or less and only a couple of times a week, you shouldn’t have too much to worry about anyway.

By doing either of the above, it ensures you are resting on your rest days instead of trying to fit a conditioning session in.

Shredded Girl 2

If you must run a day after lifting, you should tackle those sprints at 60-75% of your max effort instead of going 100% max effort.  A lot of times, these sprints may even help in your recovery after the previous day of hard lifting.  When running on off days just take into account what you did the day before and base your effort on that.

For most people, two 20 minute sessions a week will do the trick for staying lean and maintaining the ability to put on muscle mass.  If you are above 15% bodyfat, or fat loss is your main goal, you can tack on an additional session or perform a couple of high-intensity finishers at the end of your lifting workouts. Five minutes of things like battle ropes or medium height box jumps work really well here.

As a side note, I know I stress high-intensity cardio, and that should in fact be the focus of your conditioning.  But do not underestimate the power of a 30 minute walk upon waking.  Back in the golden age of bodybuilding, and even dating up to Arnold himself, walking on an empty stomach in the morning was mostly all they did to keep fat off.  Not to mention it does wonders for mental focus and your psyche to start the day.

Don’t make conditioning too complicated.  Vary your efforts and allow yourself enough rest so you don’t jeopardize what you are doing in the weight room.  Follow these rules and you will be well on the road to making gains and shredding fat.

Evolve!!

— Tank

How Intermittent Fasting Gets You Shredded

If you follow my diet advice, you know I’m a big advocate of intermittent fasting.  I sort of stumbled into this lifestyle because I have never been a big breakfast eater.

Despite all of the rah-rah cheerleading and publications you read telling you that breakfast is the most important meal ofShredded Girl 3 the day, it just simply isn’t true.  Does breakfast have its benefits?  Sure.  But it’s not going to make the difference between you making gains or going catabolic.  For the low-down, check this out:

Is Breakfast Really the Most Important Meal of the Day?

Traditional fasting can be anywhere between 12-72 hours.  With my diet, I don’t consume much of anything from 9pm until noon the following day.

My intermittent fasting lasts about 12-15 hours.  They are geared towards using my natural metabolic functioning to maximize fat loss, allowing me to still eat big and gain muscle mass, but eliminate the need for a lot of high-intensity cardio.

So how does intermittent fasting kick your fat burning ability into overdrive?

#1: Increases Fat Burning Hormones

One of the main reasons that intermittent fasting is effective is that it uses your natural hormonal cycles to help burn fat.

Growth hormone is the most important fat burning hormone in your body and fasting actually promotes growth hormone production.  Fasting also decreases your insulin levels, which ensures that you burn body fat instead of storing it.

This is part of the reason that skipping breakfast is beneficial.  Your insulin levels are at one of their lowest levels upon waking, meaning your body is in prime fat burning mode.  By eating, you are killing this advantage.  But if you don’t “break-fast”, you ensure that you keep your insulin levels low and prolong your natural fat burning state.

#2: Increases Fat Burning Enzymes

Your hormones need the help of fat burning enzymes to get their job done.  Intermittent fasting will boost the activity of two of the most important fat burning enzymes in your body. Adipose tissue Hormone Sensitive Lipase (HSL) is responsible for allowing your fat cells to release fat so it can be burned as energy.  Muscle tissue Lipoprotein Lipase (LPL) is responsible for allowing your muscle cells to take up fat so it can be burnt as a fuel.  By having elevated levels of both of these during intermittent fasting, you are naturally optimizing your ability to burn fat.

#3: Burn More Calories

Intermittent fasting increases your metabolism and adrenaline levels causing you to burn more calories during your fast.  The more calories you burn, obviously the more fat you will burn. Plus, you will see a boost in your energy levels that will fuel your productivity throughout the day.  Most people are surprised at this, but just think for a second about how you feel after a big meal.  I bet you feel like sh*t and need a nap…

#4. Burn Fat Instead of Sugar

Your body naturally burns carbs first and then fat.  Any extra food that your body can’t burn in the few hours after you eat gets stored as body fat.  But when you fast your body has no choice but to burn stored body fat because your blood sugar levels are depleted.  By the end of an intermittent fasting period your body is burning way more fat than it would eating every couple of hours.

Serge Nubret Intermittent Fasting
Serge Nubret is one of the best examples of how intermittent fasting can help you burn fat and still allow you to build muscle. He often ate only 1-2 meals a day.

Alright Primal Nation.  Go “starve” yourself for a few hours.  I promise you won’t go catabolic, and you may just burn some fat in the process.  I’d take that over slaving away on a damn stair climber any day…

Evolve!!

— Tank

I Used to Weigh 400 Pounds

Primal Nation,

Not everyday are you privileged to be a part of a story like this.  But a few weeks ago, my new friend Robert reached out to me on Primal’s Facebook page and brought my attention to his weight loss journey.  After seeing some of his before and after pictures, I asked him to put his story in writing because I thought his accomplishments were remarkable and needed to be shared with the world.

And boy, was I blown away.  These kind of stories are what I live for.  Seeing people fight against the odds, push through mental barriers, become stronger day by day, and persevere through great physical and emotional challenges.  Achieving the extraordinary…

Robert’s achievements are not related to Primal Strength Camp at all.  He is just a follower of the page and every now and then I hope I give him some useful information via Facebook posts and the Primal blog.  He achieved his transformation all on his own, but after meeting the man, you better believe I’m in his corner as his journey to reach 200 pounds continues.  He has a ton to offer the world with his weight loss story and we could all learn something from him.  So it is my pleasure to help him share his story here…

Start following his page here: https://www.facebook.com/OneGuysWeightLossJourney

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One Guy’s Weight Loss Story by Robert “Bear” Asche

I don’t even know where to begin or how to start this off. My weight loss journey has been one hell of a roller coaster ride filled with small victories and major fails – I could start this off with an opening cliché such as “Once upon a Time” or “It was a dark and stormy night” or one that seems more fitting for what I’ve been through, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” – But I won’t, I’ll merely start off with – I used to weigh 400 lbs.

On the left me in my mid 30’s – On the right me in my mid 40’s.
On the left me in my mid 30’s – On the right me in my mid 40’s.

Now that I’ve got your attention and curiosity let me attempt to consolidate my weight loss experience and journey from the beginning so you understand where I was, and how I got there. I was always skinny growing up and never had a weight issue. In my 20’s I was a construction worker, and never had to worry about being in shape. The job was physically demanding, I was ripped, and so strong I could carry 3 bundles on roofing shingles on my shoulder which is about 240lbs up a ladder on a 2 story house – I was an animal! Ahhh, to be young again – 🙂

In my 30’s I left construction and dove head first into the web design / development field. My environment changed but my diet didn’t, consuming everything in sight, smoking, and drinking beer like it was free. My waistline started getting bigger (a lot bigger), and the muscle was disappearing. But hey who cares!! – I’m a part of the internet boom making tons of money, right?! I knew I was getting big; and within a few years I blew up to a 48 waist, and a 3x shirt. The day came when I needed a new pair of jeans so I went to the big and tall clothing store (it was the only place I could shop for clothes) tried on a pair of 48 waist jeans and they didn’t fit – They were too tight. I walked out of the store refusing to buy 50 waist jeans. That’s when reality smacked me right in the face, and I knew it was time to make some major changes in my life. I was a disaster, tired, unmotivated, sick all the time, and I fucking hated looking at myself in the mirror – I was completely disgusted with how I looked.

On the left me and my baby girl – On the right me becoming a fucking warrior!
On the left me and my baby girl – On the right me becoming a fucking warrior!

I was dedicated to lose the weight, but I did it all wrong the first time. I went from 420lbs down to 245lbs in a year and a half. My eating habits and gym habits where horrible. Diet Pepsi and fat free pretzels where my main source of food, along with chronic cardio. I had NO clue about proper nutrition; all I knew is that the weight was coming off. At 245lbs I found myself back in the construction field (while still running my own web design business part time), working hard and eating anything I could get my hands on. I remember walking in the front door of my house after work one day, looking in the mirror and seeing my belly sticking out. I weighed myself and saw that I was up to 270lbs. I decided to get back on my “diet” plan. I managed to get myself down to 209lbs. But once again I did it all wrong. I was so hell bent on reaching 200lbs I would go days without eating, consuming ex-lax like it was candy, and popping stacker2’s all day. I plateaued at 209 lbs; I eventually (and completely) gave up trying, started eating and drinking again, and ended up shooting back up to 310lbs.

On the left, me at 310 lbs. A failed “diet plan” – On the right, finally doing it right!
On the left, me at 310 lbs. A failed “diet plan” – On the right, finally doing it right!

On January 1st of this year (2013) I decided once again to lose the weight, eat healthy, and do it the right way. This time I was eating chicken, fish, veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds. I joined a gym and by my third visit I was ready to quit. Walking on the treadmill was painful, my shins hurt so bad I was practically in tears. For weeks I pushed myself on the treadmill in agonizing pain 5 to 6 days a week, but I absolutely refused to fucking quit! I had to put my war face on when walking into the gym because I knew the next hour of my life was going to suck. I was hoping the pain would eventually subside, and lucky enough for me it went away. No more shin pain, foot pain, or leg pains. I went from barley walking a mile in 40 minutes to running a mile in under 7 minutes in just a few short months! Sitting here thinking back, this was probably one of the hardest things I had to overcome, and it made me a stronger person all around. This part of my story is an emotional experience for me, it’s a good thing you’re not reading a paper version of this because it would probably have tear drop stains on it. Hey, even warriors cry, and it doesn’t make me any less of a man because of it. Real men aren’t afraid to show their emotions.

From barely being able walking a mile in 40 minutes to running 5k charity races!
From barely being able walking a mile in 40 minutes to running 5k charity races!

I never thought of it this way but if you go back and do my weight numbers of losing and gaining, then losing, it’s mind boggling. My actual total weight loss would be 334 lbs. Most people complain about trying to lose just 20 lbs. I can’t help but laugh at myself sometimes about how naïve I was about proper eating and rest. I recommend the book “The Primal Blue Print” by Mark Sisson – I’ve followed it religiously for the last 6 months – It works, and it makes sense. I also want to thank my new friend Tank from Primal Strength Camp for answering my questions about weight lifting, and giving me a venue to share my story. Tank is a good dude, and is VERY willing to share his knowledge of strength training. As Tank would put it… EVOLVE!!

A lot of people ask me how I eat and how much time do I spend in the gym. I spend approx: 60 to 90 minutes in the gym, 5 to 6 days a week. 90% weights, 10% high intensity cardio. My food intake is: Breakfast = 2 or 3 hard boiled eggs or Greek Yogurt, and a few handfuls of berries. Lunch = 2 cans of tuna straight out of the can along with a piece of fruit, an apple, pear or plum. Dinner = A HUGE plate of veggies (you’d laugh at the how big of a dinner I eat, it’s almost comical sometimes – LOL!) along with a big piece of grilled chicken or salmon. I graze on nuts and seeds all day – Mostly almonds and pumpkin seeds, and I drink water like it’s my full time job. I’m almost NEVER hungry!

On the left me at my heaviest – On the right are those abs I’m getting?
On the left me at my heaviest – On the right are those abs I’m getting?

Now comes the part where I’m supposed to end this somehow – But the more I think about it, it’s really a never ending story. I’m 46 years old, and as of today, I am 211 lbs, I’ve lost 99 pounds in the last 6 months, and I’m only 11 lbs. away from my goal weight of 200 lbs. – Pretty exciting for me don’t ya think? I’m doing it the right way this time, eating a lot of healthy foods, sleeping/resting, and exercise. The day I get on that scale and see 200 lbs. is going to be very emotional for me. I’ve come along way, I finally like myself again, and I like what I see in the mirror. If I can do it, so can you. Stay focused, and you will see changes, it’ll happen! Become the warrior you’ve always wanted to be. I hit the weights as hard as I can, and run sprints like I’m being chased by a pack of lions knowing that I can say – I used to weigh 400 lbs.

Join me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/OneGuysWeightLossJourney

— Robert “Bear” Asche

Is Breakfast Really The Most Important Meal of the Day?

By now, you’ve heard it a million times.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

But is it really?

This may come as a shocker, but breakfast may be doing you more harm than good.  Plenty of people (Dan John being one) would like to slap me silly for saying that, but stick with me…

Insulin levels are at their lowest point of the day when you first wake.  Couple this with high cortisol levels (cortisol peaks between 7 and 9am), and your body is in prime fat burning mode.  By eating a big meal when you first wake up, you are spiking your insulin levels and robbing yourself of the opportunity to burn more fat at rest.  Insulin sensitivity in your fat cells is also highest in the morning, so waking up with a big bowl of oatmeal for instance actually promotes fat storage.

Eating a big breakfast may leave you feeling tired and groggy too.  How many of you have felt like you need a nap by 10am?  I don’t know about you, but I hate that feeling.  I want my energy levels to remain high throughout the day when I need to be the most productive.

For me, the far more important meal of the day is your post training meal, and following that up with more nutrition even beyond that.  Ingesting protein and carbs after a training session is huge.  You need to replenish glycogen stores and get yourself in an anabolic state.  From there, you can add more food to meet your caloric and macronutrient (carbs and protein) needs.

strength training breakfast

So am I telling you to skip breakfast?

Not necessarily.  It depends on who you are and what your goals are.

For me, and guys like me (which I’d venture to guess are a lot of you), it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

I want to be big and lean, train 4 days a week and minimize the amount of time I spend doing high-intensity cardio for fat loss.  I train in the afternoon then eat big at night, allowing myself to replenish my body after intense training.  So when I go to bed, I’m in a highly anabolic state.  This is how our ancestors ate for the most part, where they fasted during the day to hunt and gather and then they ate big at night.

I may have a protein shake upon waking here and there, but for the most part, won’t eat anything until lunch.  This means I’ve technically fasted for 12-14 hours, which means for half the day I’ve been in a natural fat burning state.  (I’m a big fan of intermittent fasting, I’ll tackle that with another post.)

Eating this way, lifting 4 days, and only doing 2 conditioning sessions a week that may last 20 minutes apiece, I maintain single digit body fat and still can put on muscle.

So knowing all of this, do you still breakfast is that important?

For more guidance on meal planning, check out this post below.

How Many Meals Per Day Should I Eat to Build Muscle

Evolve!!

— Tank
NASM Certified Personal Trainer
Underground Strength Coach

Cardio For Getting Shredded

It kills me every time I walk into a gym and see 50% of the real estate covered in cardio machines.cardio

People churning away, reading magazines on a stationary bike, watching tv on the elliptical, chatting with their friends on the treadmill.  They are totally crushing the ‘fat burn program’ on that $3,000 heap of metal. They will be doing that for hours multiple times a week.

The problem is that there are far better ways to get shredded in much shorter amounts of time…

Steady State Cardio and the Fat Burn Zone Confusion

First, let’s clear up a misconception.  Word on the street is that you burn more fat during low intensity steady state cardio, such as walking or jogging.  Totally false.

While your body does burn a higher percentage of fat at lower intensities (50% of calories from fat) versus higher intensities (35% of calories from fat), at higher intensities you burn far more calories overall, ultimately leading to more fat calories (in a much shorter amount of time).

Confusing?  Let me put it this way.  If I walk on the treadmill for an hour and burn 250 calories, I may have burned about 125 calories from fat.  But let’s say I train Primal style and run several sets of hill sprints, followed by a high intensity finisher.  In about 20 minutes, I could burn 500-600 calories, with 210 calories from fat.  One-third of the time and far more fat burn…

Pretty eye opening right?

Get off the treadmill, crank up the intensity, and do work!

cardio

So what exactly do you do?

You have a number of options.

Hill Sprints or Sprint Intervals

Sprint hill.  Jog back down.  Repeat.

Sprint intervals are the same concept.  Sprint 20 seconds, rest for 20.  As you get better, increase the duration of the sprint and decrease your rest time.

Sled or Prowler Work

Load up the sled or prowler, strap yourself in and get to work.  Pull or push for distance.

Lately, I have been loading up a prowler with about 60% of my bodyweight and sprinting 40’s while pushing it. About 4 sprints with this is enough and a great finisher to heavy weight lifting.

MetCon (Metabolic Conditioning)

MetCon is really just a fancy word for interval training.  It is a short duration, fast paced workout designed to kick your metabolism into high gear and turn you into a fat burning machine for long after you have left the gym.  Under the MetCon realm, there are a number of options:

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

  1. You could lump hill sprints and sprint intervals into this, but when I think of HIIT, I use it with weights and different exercises.
  2. Weight circuits, where you pick 5 or so exercises, and perform them all consecutively for specified reps, with no rest in between.  That is one set.  Do several sets.
  3. Intervals, where you pick one exercise (say bodyweight squats), perform for a timed duration, then rest, and repeat is another.  Plyos work well here too.

Random Guidelines for High Intensity Training

women's cardio

  • Coupled with a 4 day a week weight lifting routine, 2 sessions a week should be enough.  Anything more and you are jeopardizing your recovery times.
  • Sessions should last roughly 20 minutes or so.  Anything more is overkill.
  • This is not meant for everyone.  If you cannot perform high intensity training initially, start with steady state cardio until you are capable.
  • High intensity is not an excuse for poor form.  Form trumps all.
  • Train outside when possible.
  • Metabolism is a function of muscle mass.  The more muscle you have, the better your metabolism is, and the more effective your training will be.

All the best!!

— Tank