How to Get Strong – The Science of Strength

In an earlier post, The Components of Physical Fitness, I divided physical fitness into it’s component parts and provided a brief introduction of each part.

In today’s post, I am going to focus on muscular strength…or as Google likes to say…how to get strong, how to get stronger, how to get brutally strong, how to get freaky strong, etc, etc, etc.

And if you plan on getting freaky strong, you’re going to need to understand the whys and hows behind getting strong. And those whys and hows are all based in science.

So….we’re going to look at some of that science to help you figure out how to maximize your own personal levels of “strong”.

Intro to Muscular Strength

How strong you are (and how strong you could be) depends on the performance of your body’s skeletal muscles.

Your body’s muscles are highly adaptable. They will react to the stresses that you place upon them.

  • Sit on the couch and they will atrophy.
  • Try and run fast and they adapt to produce faster contractions.
  • Lift heavy objects and they will increase their ability to produce maximum strength.

Muscular Strength can and has been categorized in a variety of different ways. In this article, I am choosing to divide Muscular Strength into four categories, based primarily on Newton’s Second Law.

vec F = m vec a (force is equal to the product of mass and acceleration.) Mass relates to how much weight/mass a muscle or muscle group can move. Acceleration relates to how fast that weight/mass is moved.

By using and manipulating force, mass and acceleration, we can force our muscles to adapt and become more efficient at generating…

4 Types of Muscular Strength

  • Maximum Muscular Strength
  • Maximum Muscular Power
  • Maximum Muscular Speed
  • Maximum Muscular Endurance

NOTE – Each of these categories has different characteristics with regard to mass and acceleration


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The Components of Physical Fitness

What is physical fitness?

You will receive some very different answers depending upon who you ask.

To a person with a medical condition, physical fitness may be a day without pain or a day where they have the energy to walk down to the corner store. To the weekend warrior, it is being able to compete with his friends and still be able to go to work on Monday.

To an Olympic calibre gymnast, physical fitness is performing an Iron Cross. The flexibility of an accomplished yoga practitioner is a display of physical fitness. As is the endurance of a triathelete. Or the power of an Olympic style weightlifter. Or the speed of a sprinter. Or the agility of a badminton player…

They are all right and they are all wrong.

For their particular needs, there is an appropriate level of adequate fitness. The weekend warrior has no need to perform an Iron Cross. Or a gymnast to run a marathon.

The decathalete / heptahalete is supposed to represent the ultimate of physical fitness. While the other athletes are specialists, these multi-sports athletes train to develop the ultimate combination of the different components that make up physical fitness.

So that is where we will go. By breaking down physical fitness into it’s components, we will arrive at a better understanding of physical fitness.

The 5 Components of Physical Fitness

1. Muscular Strength

This component of physical fitness deals specifically with the performance of the body’s skeletal muscles.

Your skeletal muscles contract and stretch in order to produce movement. Simple.

How they produce that movement is less simple. Your body’s muscles are highly adaptable. They will react to the stresses that you place upon them. Sit on the couch and they will atrophy. Try and run fast and they adapt to produce faster contractions. Lift heavy objects and they will increase their ability to produce maximum strength.

One way to organize these different types of strength is in relation to time.

Maximum muscular strength is the ability to produce the most amount of force regardless of time. That big guy at your gym that is ALWAYS bench pressing may have a high level of maximum strength. He can produce a large amount of force (to move that heavy barbell) but he does it relatively SLOOOWWWLY.

Maximum muscular endurance is the ability to produce a smaller amount of force, but do it for a long time. A marathon runner has a high level of muscular endurance. His bodyweight requires less force to move than a heavy barbell, but he is able to move that weight for 2+ hours non-stop.

Maximum muscular speed is the ability to produce muscular movement very quickly. A hummingbird’s wings are the epitome of speed.

Muscular power is a combination of maximum strength and speed. An Olympic weightlifter is a great example of power. So are high jumpers and sprinters. Another way of looking at power would be to use our weightlifter friend from the gym.

If he bench presses 300 lbs but takes 3 seconds to perform the lift, his power output is 100 lbs. per second. However, if he drops the weight to 200 lbs and performs the lift in 1 second, his power output shoots up to 200 lbs. per second.

If that wasn’t confusing enough, different types of muscular strength rely on the development of the 4 other components of physical fitness.

Next Page…Neuro-Muscular Co-ordination

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The Cure for Teenage Obesity

According to the latest research, emphasising the emotional benefits of exercise is more effective at increasing levels of (teenage) physical activity than highlighting traditional health benefits.

Or, to put it in layman’s terms…

  • Teens like to do fun stuff
  • They don’t like to do stuff that is “good for them”


But seriously, there is evidence showing that people who believe that physical activity is enjoyable and fun are more likely to engage in sport and exercise. To test this concept, researchers investigated whether highlighting the emotional benefits of sport and exercise to young people increased their levels of physical activity.”

The Study

To test their hypothesis, the researchers  sent different types of SMS messages to kids (ages 16-19) encouraging them to “get active”.

  • Group 1 received messages that highlighted the emotional benefits of physical activity such as ‘Physical activity can make you feel cheerful. What activity will you do today?’ and ‘Physical activity can make you feel more enthusiastic. What activity will you do today?’.
  • Group 2 received messages that highlighted the physical health benefits of exercise such as ‘Physical activity can help maintain a healthy weight. What activity will you do today?’ and ‘Physical activity can keep your heart healthy. What activity will you do today?’.
  • Group 3 received a combination of the two messages – emotional one week, practical the next week.
  • Group 4 was the control group.Their SMS messages contained only the final element of the phrase used in the intervention groups, ‘What activity will you do today?’ for comparability.


Analysis of the results found that the physical activity levels of all 128 participants increased after the two-week intervention by an average 31.5 minutes of moderate activity a week.

Amongst the naturally active kids, overall activity increased a little bit, but none of the 4 text messages stood out as being more effective than the others.

But… in the naturally inactive group, the teenagers who received the texts which highlighted the emotional benefits of exercise performed 120 additional minutes of moderate exercise.

That’s 4x the overall average.

It’s also the cure for teenage obesity.


If we want our teens to get active, get healthy & drop a few pounds, we need to forget about motivating them with logic. Logic ain’t gonna work……We need to motivate with emotion…with fun.

Any suggestions?


We all know how to stretch….right?

Bend over, touch your toes and hold for 30 seconds.

So, why is it that after years and years of static stretching after each and every workout, my hip flexors, hamstrings, abductors, calves, traps, pecs and entire shoulder girdle were always uber-tight and I was suffering from lower back spasms every few months?

  • Could it be that what we thought was right wasn’t?
  • Could it be that just about every personal trainer in the world is wrong?
  • Could it be that Mr. Toe Touch was wasting his time and perhaps even making things worse?

This is where I found myself about a year ago.

So I went looking for another way to stretch my tight muscles back into balance.

And I found two very different techniques that worked very well for me.

Today, I am going to introduce you to microStretching.

For those of you that need more info – here is an article written by microStretch guru Nikos Apostolopoulos that explains things in more detail.

Microstretching – Nikos C. Apostolopoulos

That’s it for today. I am going to let you chew on this concept for a little bit before we get into the “how to” details.

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The Deadpool Mega Muscle Mass Workout – Part Four

ryan reynolds muscle beard

Continuing on from Part 3 of the Deadpool Mega Muscle Mass Workout…


Hip Flexion

In most of my clients, I see the unfortunate combination of weak yet chronically tight psoas (hip flexors).

So, for this muscle group, I like to combine strength training with an aggressive flexibility routine.

So, if you are going to train your hip flexors with this program, you NEED to balance it with some flexibility work.

  • Heavy Partial: N/A
  • Isos: Flexing your hip, push your knee/thigh into an immovable object and hold for 2-5 seconds per rep for 3-8 reps. Options include the underside of a table with your upper-body weight pushing down on the tabletop, or leaning against a wall & driving your knee into a stability ball placed against the wall, or this supine method shown in the video
  • Plyos: N/A
  • Vibrations: High Knees –  3-8 reps per leg

Immediately after completing the wake up exercise, proceed to a set of heavy/explosive Hanging Leg Raises – 3-8 reps


Hip Extension

  • Heavy Partial: Partial Deadlifts or Good Mornings out of a Power Rack – 3-8 reps
  • Isos: Using the same Power Rack, grab an unloaded barbell and Deadlift or Good Morning the bar up into the Power Rack pins. It’s your muscular force pulling up into an immovable object (the power rack) (see the iso bicep curl video for reference) – 3-8 reps
  • Plyos: Broad Jumps – 3-8 reps
  • Vibrations: Bodyweight Hip Thrusts –  3-8 reps – move as quick as possible

Immediately after completing the wake up exercise, proceed to a set of heavy/explosive Hip Thrusts or Deadlifts or Good Mornings – 3-8 reps


Knee Flexion

  • Heavy Partial: Partial Glute-Ham Raise (holding DB or band resistance) – 3-8 reps
  • Isos: Partner assisted Isometric G-H Raise or Leg Curl (have a partner resist your movement) – 2-5 sec hold for 3-8 reps
  • Plyos: N/A
  • Vibrations: Seated Band Leg Curls –  3-8 reps per leg – move faster than the big fella in the video

Immediately after completing the wake up exercise, proceed to a set of heavy/explosive Glute-Ham Raises – 3-8 reps


  • Heavy Partial: Partial Squats out of the Power Rack – 3-8 reps
  • Isos: Iso Squat out of the Power Rack (barbell or hip squat belt) – hold each rep for 2-5 seconds per rep for 3-8 reps.
  • Plyos: Depth Jumps – 3-8 reps
  • Vibrations: Jumping Squats – Bodyweight only –  3-8 reps

Immediately after completing the wake up exercise, proceed to a set of heavy/explosive Squats, Front Squats, Zercher Squats, Bulgarian Squats – 3-8 reps



  • Heavy Partial: Partial Standing Calf Raise (Machine)
  • Isos: Using a barbell & a Power Rack, set the rack pins so that you can calf raise up into the pins (just like the iso bicep curls) 2-5 seconds per rep for 3-8 reps.
  • Plyos: Ankle Bounces – 3-8 reps
  • Vibrations: Light weight Calf Raises –  3-8 reps

Immediately after completing the wake up exercise, proceed to a set of heavy/explosive Standing Calf Raises – 3-20 reps



  • Heavy Partial: Partial Seated Calf Raise (Machine)
  • Isos: N/A
  • Plyos: N/A
  • Vibrations: Light weight Seated Calf Raises –  3-8 reps

Immediately after completing the wake up exercise, proceed to a set of heavy/explosive Seated Calf Raises – 3-20 reps


Alright, that’s it for Part 4 of the Deadpool Mega Muscle Mass Workout

In Part 5, I will wrap this series up by showing you how to put together your own workout as well as introducing you to the Deadpool Getting Ripped Workout



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The Deadpool Mega Muscle Mass Workout – Part Three

DeadPool muscle

Continuing on from Part 2

Upper Back

Horizontal Pull

  • Heavy Partial: I don’t like partial reps for any rowing exercises
  • Isos: Isometric Row – Grab hold of an immovable object (ie. heavy barbell, cable stack, piece of equipment, flagpole, etc and try to pull it towards you using a rowing motion. Neither you nor the object should move. Hold for 2-5 seconds per rep for 3-8 reps
  • Plyos: N/A
  • Vibrations: Using a light weight (dumbbells, barbell, bands, etc..), perform 1 or 2 handed speed rows as fast as possible. I prefer the bands for this…less chance of injury Remember, think hummingbird wings –  3-8 reps

Immediately after completing the wake up exercise, proceed to a set of heavy Barbell/Dumbbell/Cable Rows – 3-8 reps

Upper Back

Vertical Pull

  • Heavy Partial: Partial Chin-Ups with added weight, Partial Pull-downs – 3-8 reps
  • Isos: Attempt to Chin-Up or Pulldown a weight that is too heavy to be moved – Hold for 2-5 seconds for 3-8 reps
  • Plyos: N/A
  • Vibrations: Using a light weight (dumbbells, barbell, bands, etc..), perform 1 or 2 handed speed rows as fast as possible. I prefer the bands for this…less chance of injury Remember, think hummingbird wings – 3-8 reps

Immediately after completing the wake up exercise, proceed to a set of heavy Barbell/Dumbbell/Cable Rows – 3-8 reps

Lower Back – Core

Spinal Extension

  • Heavy Partial: N/A
  • Isos: N/A
  • Plyos: Overhead Medicine Ball Tosses to the rear – 3-8 reps
  • Vibrations: Band Triple Extension or Swing Snatches (light weight) – 3-8 reps

Immediately after completing the wake up exercise, proceed to a set of heavy Swings or Good Mornings or Deadlifts – 3-8 reps


  • Heavy Partial: Partial Bench Press in the power rack – 3-8 reps
  • Isos: Isometric Bench Press – Push the bar into an immovable object (ex. Power Rack) –  Hold for 2-5 seconds for 3-8 reps
  • Plyos: Medicine Ball Chest Throws (lying or standing)
  • Vibrations: Band Chest Press for speed

Immediately after completing the wake up exercise, proceed to a set of Chest Presses for 3-8 reps

Abs – Core

Spinal Flexion

  • Heavy Partial: N/A
  • Isos: N/A
  • Plyos: Medicine Ball Slams – 3-8 reps
  • Vibrations: Standing Band Crunch – 3-8 reps

Immediately after completing the wake up exercise, proceed to a set of Standing Cable Crunches (just like the band crunch except using a pull-down cable machine) – 3-8 reps

Obliques – Core

Spinal Rotation/Lateral Flexion

  • Heavy Partial: N/A
  • Isos: N/A
  • Plyos: Rotational Medicine Ball Slams – 3-8 reps

  • Vibrations: Band Wood Chops – 3-8 reps (move faster than the girls in the video)

Immediately after completing the wake up exercise, proceed to a set of Standing Cable Woodchops  – 3-8 reps

Okay, that’s enough for today.

In Part 4, we hit the lower body



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Drink more soda…it’s good for you

Not everyone is happy with the anti-obesity/anti-soda ad produced by the NYC Dept of Health.

soda obesity nyc

And it isn’t just the people who lost their lunches after seeing that globby/fatty/veiny cup of goo.

It’s groups like the Center for Consumer Freedom.

In fact, the CCF was so upset, that they produced their own rebuttal ad and had it printed in the New York Times

you are too stupid consumer freedom

BTW, a full page ad in the Times costs upwards of $158,004.


And we’re not even including the costs associated with creating the ad.

We’re talking big money.


And thinking about that big money awakened the skeptic in me. And that inner skeptic started thinking…who is the Center for Consumer Freedom and why are they spending a ton of money defending our freedoms against anti-cola advertisements?

So, I did a little research into the CCF.

My findings?

Apparently, there are a lot of people who don’t like the CCF.

To them, the CCF is nothing but a front group for the restaurant, alcohol and tobacco industries.

It runs media campaigns which oppose the efforts of scientists, doctors, health advocates, environmentalists and groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, calling them “the Nanny Culture — the growing fraternity of food cops, health care enforcers, anti-meat activists, and meddling bureaucrats who ‘know what’s best for you.’ ”

Over 40 percent of the group’s 2005 expenditure was paid to Rick Berman’s PR company, Berman & Co. for “management services. As part of its operations CCF runs a series of attack websites.


But, don’t take their word for it….Check out the “attack” websites

And, if that ain’t enough, watch this video…

Or listen to the man himself as Rick Berman is interviewed by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow…

So, what do you think?

Is Rick Berman…

  • standing up for your freedom against the American nanny state?
  • or is he spinning lies in order to promote the interests of his anonymous donors?


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The Deadpool Mega Muscle Mass Workout – Part Two

deadpool ryan reynolds

In Part 1 of the Deadpool Mega Muscle Mass Workout, I told you that:

  • By stimulating the hard to hit fast-twitch muscle fibers, even hardgainers can maximize the size, strength and power of their muscles.
  • To wake up those fast-twitch fibers, we need to use 1 of 3 different techniques:
  1. Very Intense Concentric Muscular Contractions – ex. Partial range bench press or Isometrics
  2. Very Intense Eccentric Muscular Contractions – ex. Plyometric movements (depth jumps)
  3. Very Fast Concentric & Eccentric Muscular Contractions – like a hummingbird flapping it’s wings
  • After waking up the fast-twitch fibers, we hit them with…
  1. Slightly Less Intense Concentric Muscular Contractions…through a full range of motion and performed as fast as possible. Think explosive bench presses.
  2. Slightly Less Intense Eccentric Muscular Contractions….but we drastically increase the time under tension. Sloooowwww negatives on those bench presses.
  3. With no pause at the top or bottom of the lift. The muscle is always under tension.

Today, I am going to give you some of my favorite Wake-Up Exercises and show you how to pair them with the traditional lifts to get the best results.

Wake-Up Exercises

For convenience, I am going to shorten my descriptions of the 3 style of wake up exercises.

  1. Very Intense Concentric Muscular Contractions will be called “Heavy Partial Lifts” or “Isos”
  2. Very Intense Eccentric Muscular Contractions will be called “Plyos”
  3. Very Fast Concentric/Eccentric Muscular Contractions will be called  “Vibrations”

I have broken the list of wake up exercises down by body part and/or body movement.

Hopefully, it is easy enough to follow, but if there’s a problem, please comment and I will update the post.

Here we go….

deadpool guns


Vertical Shrug Movement

  • Heavy Partial: N/A
  • Isos: Isometric Shrug – Grab hold of an immovable object (ie. heavy barbell, pins in a power rack or even sit on a bench and grab the underside of the bench) and try to shrug it. The weight should not move. Hold for 2-5 seconds
  • Plyos: Slam Shrugs – Set up a power rack with the pins slightly lower than your shrug lockout height. Grab your barbell and position it beneath the pins. Then, shrug the bar HARD into the pins. Repeat for 3-5 reps
  • Vibrations: Using a light weight (dumbbells, barbell, bands, etc..), perform 5 shrugs as fast as possible. Remember, think hummingbird wings

Immediately after completing the wake up exercise, proceed to a set of heavy Barbell Shrugs – 3-8 reps

Horizontal Shrug Movement

  • Heavy Partial: N/A
  • Isos: Iso Face Pulls into the floor – Just like a regular standing cable face pull, except you are lying on your back and pushing your elbows back into the immovable floor – Repeat for 3-8 reps holding each rep for 1 sec.
  • Plyos : Reverse elbow strikes into a heavy bag – 3-8 reps per arm
  • Vibrations: Face Pulls using a Jump Stretch band – 3-8 reps – as fast as possible

Immediately after completing the wake up exercise, proceed to a set of Standing Cable Face Pulls – 3-8 reps


Overhead Pressing Movement

  • Heavy Partial: Standing or Seated Partial Shoulder Press out of a Power Rack
  • Isos: Isometric Shoulder Press – Shoulder Press into an immovable object –  Hold for 2-5 seconds for 3-8 reps
  • Plyos: Medicine Ball Shoulder Press Throws-  Repeat for 3-8 reps – think speed!!!
  • Vibrations: Shoulder press using bands – 3-8 reps – moving as fast as possible. Remember, think hummingbird wings

Immediately after completing the wake up exercise, proceed to a set of heavy Shoulder Presses – 3-8 reps – using either barbells or dumbbells

Lateral Raise Movement

Normally, I wouldn’t use this technique for an isolation exercise such as this, but feel free…

  • Heavy Partial: N/A
  • Isos: Isometric Lateral Raise – Lateral Raise into an immovable object (ex. Power Rack) –  Hold for 2-5 seconds for 3-8 reps per arm
  • Plyos: N/A
  • Vibrations: Super-speed Lateral Raises using bands – 3-8 reps – moving as fast as possible. ala Speedy Gonzales

Immediately after completing the wake up exercise, proceed to a set of heavy Lateral Raises – 3-8 reps – using either barbells or dumbbells

DeadPool muscle

Reverse Lateral Raise Movement

Normally, I wouldn’t use this technique for an isolation exercise such as this, but feel free…

  • Heavy Partial: N/A
  • Isos: Isometric Lateral Raise – Reverse Lateral Raise into an immovable object (ex. Power Rack) –  Hold for 2-5 seconds for 3-8 reps per arm
  • Plyos: N/A
  • Vibrations: Super-speed Reverse Lateral Raises using bands – 3-8 reps – moving as fast as possible. ala Speedy Gonzales

Immediately after completing the wake up exercise, proceed to a set of heavy Lateral Raises – 3-8 reps – using either barbells or dumbbells


  • Heavy Partial: Cheating Bicep Curls  or Partial Range Bicep Curls – 3-8 reps
  • Isos: Isometric Bicep Curl – Curl a barbell into an immovable object (ex. Power Rack) –  Hold for 2-5 seconds for 3-8 reps per arm
  • Plyos: Drop & Catch Bicep Curls – Start by holding a barbell at the top position of a bicep curl. As you start to lower the barbell, let it drop and catch it while your elbows are still bent. This will take some practice. You don’t want to drop the barbell. – 3-8 reps
  • Vibrations: Super-speed Bicep curls using bands – 3-8 reps – moving as fast as possible. ala Speedy Gonzales

Immediately after completing the wake up exercise, proceed to a set of heavy Bicep Curls – 3-8 reps – keep the form strict…not like the cheat curls


  • Heavy Partial: Partial Dips, Partial Close Grip Bench Press or Partial Pushdowns- 3-8 reps
  • Isos: Isometric Close Grip Bench Press or Iso Pushdown- Your tricep force vs an immovable object (ex. Power Rack) –  Hold for 2-5 seconds for 3-8 reps
  • Plyos: Close Grip Plyo Push Ups  – 3-8 reps
  • Vibrations: Super-speed Pushdowns – 3-8 reps – moving as fast as possible.

Immediately after completing the wake up exercise, proceed to a set of heavy Dips, Close Grip Bench or Pushdowns – 3-8 reps – keep the form strict.

Okay, that’s enough for today. This post is too long already.

Tomorrow…another bunch of exercises



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Get Fit and Save Money

frugal food and fitness

The “experts” say that low income families have higher levels of obesity because “healthy” food is too expensive.

I say….B.S.

You can eat healthy on a small budget.

  • This free ebook from Kerry Taylor shows you how to eat healthy and save money.
  • This post from Mark’s Daily Apple shows you how to eat a paleo-style diet on the cheap.
  • The Eat Well guide helps you find healthy and affordable foods in your neighborhood (Thanks to the Healthy Irishman for putting me onto this resource)
  • Fitness magazine has a ton of money-saving, healthy dinner recipes – Buddha Stir-Fry $3.04

stir fry recipe

  • McDonalds does not – Big Mac combo $5.29

big mac combo

  • Kathy’s Healthy Food on a Budget blog is another fine resource
  • Jimmy Moore shows you how to eat low carb on a budget (sorry about the singing)

And what about the government’s involvement in the cost of healthy food?

government food subsidies

Billions of your tax dollars being spent on farm subsidies, and with less than 1% goes to America’s fruit & vegetable farmers…is it any wonder that a salad costs more than a Big Mac?

But, there is hope.

image: Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times
image: Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

New York City is planning to “offer zoning and tax incentives to spur the development of full-service grocery stores that devote a certain amount of space to fresh produce, meats, dairy and other perishables”.

The plan — which has broad support among food policy experts, supermarket executives and City Council members, whose approval is needed — would permit developers to construct larger buildings than existing zoning would ordinarily allow, and give tax abatements and exemptions for approved stores in large swaths of northern Manhattan, central Brooklyn and the South Bronx, as well as downtown Jamaica in Queens….read more

So, there you go…no more excuses.

  • You can eat healthy while on a budget.
  • And if you want to save even more money, tell the senior levels of government how you would like to see your tax dollars spent (or not spent) on farm subsidies.
  • And then tell your municipal governments to create bylaws like NYC.


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The Deadpool Mega Muscle Mass Workout


Since building the Squidoo Lens about Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool Workout, I have become a big Deadpool fan and am really looking forward to the movie. I think the studio made a great choice casting Ryan “Smart Ass” Reynolds in the role of Wade Wilson.

But, as I mentioned in the lens, Ryan is naturally a pretty skinny guy.

As a result, adding a whole lot of muscle mass was job #1 as he got ready to take on the role of Deadpool.

And he did a pretty good job.


But we can do better.

In Part 1 of this series, I outlined the concepts behind my Official “Make Ryan Reynolds your Beeyotch” Workout

In this post, I give you a mass building workout that will put Deadpool to shame.

And I have named it…

The Deadpool Mega Muscle Mass Workout

DeadPool muscle

Like I mentioned in the previous article, the key to the success of this mass building phase is the focus on your nervous system and fast-twitch muscle fibers.

The theory is that since most hardgainers are slow-twitch fiber dominant, and slow-twitch fibers aren’t built for hypertrophy, we need to do something special to wake up those dormant fast-twitch fibers and force them to grow.

And here’s how we’re going to do it:

  • Each workout will consist of a series of 2-exercise supersets
  • The first exercise in each superset is designed to wake up the fast-twitch muscle fibers
  • The second exercise in each superset is designed to take advantage of the newly awakened fast-twitch fibers

How to Wake Up your Fast-Twitch Fibers

I was exposed to this concept about 15 years ago. At that time, I was training for powerlifting and strongman events. But my bench press was stuck. So, here’s what I did.

I would perform a partial bench press in a power rack with as much weight as I could handle. After a few sets of single reps, I would crawl over to standard bench press and attempt a maximum lift.

This technique allowed my to put over 30 lbs on my maximum bench press…after just 2 workouts.

The Theory

My strength was improved due to some combination of fast-twitch muscle recruitment and improved neuro-muscular co-ordination.

Since then, I have researched this topic…without much success. At least in the English speaking world. Those Russians were way ahead of us back in the day.

Anyway, most of you probably don’t care very much about the theory, so let’s move on.

The Wake-Up Exercises

I use 3 different methods to wake up the fast twitch fibers

  1. Very Intense Concentric Muscular Contractions – that’s what I did with the partial rack bench press
  2. Very Intense Eccentric Muscular Contractions – Plyometric movements
  3. Very Fast Concentric & Eccentric Muscular Contractions – think sprints or throwing movements

Okay, your fast-twitch fibers are awake…now what?

Now we take advantage of those FTs, by exposing them:

  1. Slightly Less Intense Concentric Muscular Contractions…through a full range of motion and performed as fast as possible. Think explosive bench presses.
  2. Slightly Less Intense Eccentric Muscular Contractions….but we drastically increase the time under tension. Sloooowwww negatives on those bench presses.
  3. With no pause at the top or bottom of the lift. The muscle is always under tension.

Reps, Sets & Bodyparts

Here’s where individual goals play a part.

Are you interested in athletic performance or just getting big and buff like Arnie?

  • My GPs were athletes, so I had them doing total body workouts. If they had been interested in appearance only, I would have had them do split body workouts (ie Back & Bis on Monday, Chest & Tris on Wed)

When it comes to rep selection, I had the GPs perform 3-8 reps on the Wake Up sets and 3-8 reps on the Work sets

For sets, I was much more fluid and looked at performance and time.

  • Max time for a workout was 45 min
  • But more important than time was speed. If I noticed a drop in the speed of movement, we shut everything down and hit the showers….not together. You get my point.

So, there you go. That’s the nuts and bolts of the Deadpool Mega Muscle Mass Workout

In the next installment, I will give you some examples of Wake-Up Exercises and show you how to pair them with the traditional lifts to get the best results.



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The Official “Make Ryan Reynolds your Beeyotch” Workout

Ryan Reynolds Transformation

A few months ago, I created a Squidoo Lens about Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool Workout.

The lens was essentially an introduction to the workouts that Reynolds had to endure in order to transform his naturally thin (aka scrawny) frame into a muscular, ripped physique worthy of superhero status.

Since then, I have received a ton of emails from guys eager to build their own Deadpool bodies.


The only problem was that I was underwhelmed by the original workout.

It was good, but it wasn’t great.

Sure, it would help you look like a superhero, but it wouldn’t help you perform like a superhero.

So, I re-invented the Deadpool workout and spent the summer beta testing it on some willing victims up here in Toronto.

And, if I say so myself, I have come up with a seriously kick-ass training program.

Over 3 months, my 4 scrawny test subjects:

  • Gained between 5 and 14 lbs of muscle
  • Increased their max strength between 55 & 197% (Front Squat)
  • Saw their speed, power & anaerobic endurance go through the roof (Hill Sprints)
  • And, oh yeah, they also lost a ton of baby-fat in the process.
  • The average body-fat percentage at the beginning of the test was 21%.
  • At the end of the 3 months, the average body-fat was down to 9% (a Bod-Pod was used to measure BF%)

Wolverine vs DeadpoolIn short, by the end of the summer, my little guinea pigs didn’t just look like superheroes.

They were superheroes.

So, without any further ado, I would like to present…

The Official “Make Ryan Reynolds your Beeyotch” Workout

(Because this workout is too detailed for one post, I am going to break it into chunks – today’s chunk will outline the theory behind my madness)

Like the original workout, my MRRYB workout had two distinct phases.

Phase 1 – Muscle Building

The key to the success of this phase was the focus on the nervous system and the development of fast twitch muscle fibers.

Using a combination of high speed movements and plyometric style loading, my GPs forced their fast twitch muscle fibers to engage during part 1 of their 2-part supersets.

(Here’s how I activated their fast-twitch muscle fibers)

Once I had the fast twitch fibers turned on, I moved them immediately to part-2 of the superset.

In part 2, the GPs were able to handle loads much heavier than normal because of the activation of their hard to activate fast twitch fibers.

Taking advantage of this situation, part 2 of the superset consisted of explosive concentric movements combined with slow eccentric movements. The GPs were not allowed to pause at either the top or bottom of the lift.

And yet, due to the activation of the fast twitch fibers, the GPs were able to lift more than ever before, add more muscle than ever before and yet experience only moderate muscle soreness.

Depending upon the exercise, the muscle group and the techniques used, reps for each part of the superset ranged from 3 to 8 reps.

Phase 2 – Getting Ripped

Phase 2 is all about melting the baby-fat off of the newly built muscle.

To do that, I introduced the GPs to some particularly nasty HIIT and HIRT workouts.

And while I expected fairly rapid fat loss, I did not expect what happened.

For some reason, in the first week, each of the GPs lost over  6 lbs of fat.

And this is after almost 2 months of very intense training and a strict diet. They had already lost fat during phase 1.

I can only speculate on the reason behind the very rapid fat loss, but to be honest, I don’t care. I am more than happy to leave the science to the scientists. All I know is that this workout hit one out of the park.


In the next installment of this series, I will get into the nuts and bolts of the workout.


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You Don’t Know HIIT

Yesterday, Timbo (aka Dr. Timothy Miller) added a comment to one of my older HIIT posts – HIIT v.s. Type 2 Diabetes.

Since it was an older post, most of you wwill never see his comment. And that would be a shame, because Tim’s description of a real HIIT workout was fantastic:

I’ve been doing HIIT workouts about four times per week for three weeks now. I do it on the elliptical trainer at the gym. (The stationary bike tends to hurt my knee.) I can go harder on the stair master, because I’m using my upper body at the same time as my legs. I warm up for about five minutes at modest speed and resistance, then turn up the resistance really high and go AS HARD AS I CAN for 30 seconds, then go slow and easy for five to ten minutes, and repeat, until I have done four high-intensity intervals. I go slow and easy for about five minutes to cool down. 25 to 30 minutes total.

When I say I go “as hard as I can,” this is what I mean. On a Life Fitness model 9500 elliptical trainer, I’m at level 18 at 80 to 90 rpm. This is equivalent to a rate 2000 calories per hour.

I’m a type-2 diabetic, 60 years old. The last two times I checked, I started the workout with blood glucose of 140 to 150. After the workout, it was down to about 70. I’ve had to reduce my insulin dose.

I’m hoping I will reduce my insulin need, and maybe won’t need insulin at all. (I don’t use oral meds.) Time will tell. I believe none of what I hear and half of what I see.

All the ecstatic blog posts and articles forget to mention one thing: These workouts are exhausting! Very exhausting. After each interval, I feel like I might faint and fall off the machine. I remain winded for about five minutes after each one. I’m physically tired for at least an hour after I leave the gym. I was already fairly fit. I’ve been doing fairly regular cardio and strength exercises for years. Maybe I’ll get used to these workouts after awhile.

HIIT is all about the effort – Full out 100% total exhaustion effort.

So, the next time you do a HIIT workout, you NEED to ask yourself…Am I giving 100% effort?

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Here Come the Soda Tax


Last month, I predicted that America will soon be paying 5 bucks for a can of Coke.

And it looks like that prediction may be coming true.

In an interview with Men’s Health magazine, President Obama was asked “would he consider so-called sin taxes, on soda and other sugar-laden products, or on activities that sabotage the health of the masses?

His response:

I actually think it’s an idea that we should be exploring,” the president says. “There’s no doubt that our kids drink way too much soda. And every study that’s been done about obesity shows that there is as high a correlation between increased soda consumption and obesity as just about anything else. Obviously it’s not the only factor, but it is a major factor.”

But even the most powerful man on the planet needs to keep an eye on what’s politically feasible:

“Obviously there is resistance on Capitol Hill to those kinds of sin taxes,” he says. “Legislators from certain states that produce sugar or corn syrup are sensitive to anything that might reduce demand for those products. And look, people’s attitude is that they don’t necessarily want Big Brother telling them what to eat or drink, and I understand that.

It is true, though, that if you wanted to make a big impact on people’s health in this country, reducing things like soda consumption would be helpful.”


OrangeGladObamaSomehow, I don’t think that this is the type of change that the people at Jones Cola had in mind when they came up with their Orange “You Glad For Change” Cola to commemorate the inauguration of President Obama.


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The Lazy Man’s Guide to Getting Ripped

A few weeks ago, I was talking to a potential client.

  1. He told me that he would love to get fit, but he just doesn’t have the time.
  2. He’s just too busy with work, kids, internet porn, etc…
  3. B.S.

He’s not busy…he’s lazy. And he’s not alone.

According to the WHO, there are 3.6 billion lazy guys sitting on couches all around the world.

And the trainer who can help those lazy buggers transform their lazy asses from….


…is going to be rich. Filthy…Stinking…Rich

So, here we go. The lazy man’s guide to getting ripped….or as I like to call it – My ticket to becoming filthy, stinking rich.

(BTW, this story is based on a real client. We have been training for one week. He has already lost 5 lbs.)


Meal # 1 – Breakfast

  • 1 Tbsp of Fish Oil
  • 3 medium sized Apple or Pears
  • 3 fried or hard boiled Eggs
  • Water or Tea
  • 5 grams of Leucine

Meal # 2 – Morning Coffee Break

My client works in an office. Each morning, he has a mandatory group meeting. Coffee & pastries are served.

  • 1 Coffee (with cream)
  • 15 Almonds (brought to work in a little Ziploc baggie)
  • Water

Meal # 3 – Lunch

Big Salad – consisting of

  • Salad Greens (pre-washed, pre-chopped)
  • 1 can of tuna or salmon, or 3 more hard boiled eggs, or leftover meat from last night’s dinner
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon Juice or Vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 5 grams of Leucine
  • Water

Before our hero goes to bed at night, he rips open the bag of greens and dumps it into the tupperware container. Same goes for the protein. In the morning he pours in the oil, lemon juice & salt and pepper. Come lunch time, he shakes the container and presto he has his Big Salad

Meal # 4 – Afternoon Snack

  • 1 Coffee (with cream)
  • 15 Almonds (brought to work in a little Ziploc baggie)
  • Water

Meal # 5 – Workout Nutrition

Meal # 6 – Dinner

  • Another Big Salad or steamed vegetables prepared with a microwave steaming bag
  • BBQ – steak or chicken or fish or pork or lamb or….
  • 5 grams of Leucine
  • 1 Tbsp of Fish Oil
  • Water


I have designed a training program specific to his needs, injuries, muscle imbalances, etc…

But the basic design of the program is:

  • 3x per week total body HIRT workouts
  • 2x per week HIIT/Cardio workouts on his stationary bike
  • 1 x per week active rest – long walks with his wife, soccer with the kids, etc…
  • Dynamic stretching at each workout designed to correct imbalances & prevent injuries


As I mentioned above, the client has lost 5 lbs in the first week. And while that certainly is good news, what really excites me is the fact that he has been perfect on his meal compliance.

He said that it was easy…EASY!!!

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The “I don’t have time to workout” Workout

No more excuses….You do have time to exercise…

  • If you only have 5 minutes to spare, do 1 of these workouts.
  • 10 minutes = 2 workouts
  • 15 minutes = 3 workouts….

…You don’t even have to go to the gym.

The Rules

  • Each workout lasts 5 minutes (the set/rep combinations are suggestions based upon my experience with clients)
  • If you get to 5 minutes before you get to the end of the workout…STOP. 5 minutes max means 5 minutes max.
  • Each workout involves 2 or 3 different exercises
  • Perform 1 set of exercise A, then move on to exercise B
  • No rest between sets – the workouts are designed to be performed with no rest
  • If your form gets sloppy…slow down. Catch your breath. Good form is more important that getting one extra rep. Injuries suck.

5 Minute Workout # 1

1.   Air Squats – bodyweight only – 5 sets of 30 reps

2.   Hindu Pushups – 5 sets of 15 reps

Try and complete all 10 sets in 5 minutes

5 Minute Workout #2

1.   Dragon Flag 5 sets of 5-10 reps or 5 minutes (whichever comes first)

2.   Shuffle or Scissor Lunges – 5 sets of 40-60 reps (20-30 per leg) or 5 minutes (whichever comes first)

Try and complete all 10 sets in 5 minutes

5 Minute Workout #3

1.   Spiderman Lunge 5 sets of 12 reps (6 reps per side) or 5 minutes (whichever comes first)

2.  Hip Thrust/Bridge – 5 sets of 40-60 reps (20-30 per leg) or 5 minutes (whichever comes first)

Try and complete all 10 sets in 5 minutes

5 Minute Workout #4

1.   Kettlebell Swing  5 sets of 10 reps (5 reps per arm) or 5 minutes (whichever comes first)

2.  1 Arm Dumbbell Press – 5 sets of 10 reps (5 reps per side) or 5 minutes (whichever comes first)

3. Siff Lunge – 5 sets of 10 reps (5 reps per side) or 5 minutes (whichever comes first)

Try and complete all 15 sets in 5 minutes

5 Minute Workout #5…my personal favorite

1.   Jumping Bulgarian Squat 5 sets of 20 reps (10 reps per leg) or 5 minutes (whichever comes first)

2.  Band Woodchops – 5 sets of 20 reps (10 reps per side) or 5 minutes (whichever comes first)

3. 1 Leg Stiff Leg Deadlift – 5 sets of 10 reps (5 reps per side) or 5 minutes (whichever comes first)

Try and complete all 15 sets in 5 minutes

Bonus Workout…if you have a partner

5 minutes of this…

BTW, Marv is another personal trainer from Toronto

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The Philosophy of Fitness

The more challenging or threatening the situation or context to be assimilated and affirmed, the greater the stature of the person who can achieve it. The demon that you can swallow gives you its power, and the greater life’s pain, the greater life’s reply.” ~ Joseph Campbell from The Power of Myth (Canada)

  • Getting in shape is hard work.
  • Getting out of shape is much, much easier.
  • Getting fit requires self-discipline.
  • Getting fit requires the ability to say no.
  • Getting fit requires sacrifice.
  • But, it’s worth it.

The demon that you can swallow gives you its power

Thanks to TC @ TMuscle for putting me onto this quote.

Recipe for a Fat Man

Matt McClain - Rocky Mountain News
Matt McClain - Rocky Mountain News

Reading the comments from my last two posts (here and here), I was struck by the very strong, yet very different opinions about the cause(s) of obesity.

Some people believe in ye olde Calories in vs Calories Out theory, while others believe in the power of insulin while others blame their DNA.

So, I raise the question….Is there a one size fits all cause / cure for obesity?

Or are there a whole bunch of factors coming together to create America’s obesity epidemic?

To aid in the discussion, I have put together a list of the factors that I think influence human obesity.

Feel free to comment/criticize or add to the list

Determinants of Obesity



  • Quantity of food – Calories
  • Quantity of food – Volume
  • Type and Quality of food – Macronutrients – Carbs, Fat, Protein
  • Type and Quality of food – MicronutrientsVitamins, Minerals, Enzymes, Phytochemicals, etc…
  • Type and Quality of food – Nutrient Density v.s Caloric Density
  • Your beliefs and emotions regarding food – food as pleasure, food as fuel
  • Dining habits – eat on the run vs sit down dinner

Your Body

Your Life

Physical Activity

As you can see, there are a lot of factors that influence obesity.

I didn’t even get into all of the bleeding edge obesity research.

The search for an obesity cure never ends. Just today, there were two new obesity discoveries (here and here). Tomorrow, there will probably be two more.

But for now, I think we have enough on our plate.

BTW, feel free to critique or add to the list.


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The Glute-Ham Raise

The Glute-Ham Raise is one of my favorite exercises.

And yet, whenever I do it in the gym, people stare at me like I just let one rip.

Little do they know, that the GHR is my secret weapon when it comes to:

  • Developing brutally strong hamstrings and glutes
  • Strengthening my core
  • Building my calves & spinal erectors
  • Improving the functional strength, mobility & flexibility of your entire posterior chain (lower back, glutes, hamstrings and calves)
  • And bulletproofing my hammies against pulls, sprains and tears.

Plus, to be honest, I kinda like freaking out my fellow gym members.

So, if you are the kind of person who enjoys strong, shapely, injury free hams & glutes, check out this Squidoo Lens about the Glute-Ham Raise.


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SuperFood: Beet Root

An interesting new study shows that drinking beet root juice boosts your stamina and could help you exercise for up to 16% longer.

The theory is that the nitrate contained in beet root juice leads to a reduction in oxygen uptake, making exercise less tiring.

And while the researchers are not yet sure of the exact mechanism that causes the nitrate in the beet root juice to boost stamina, they suspect it could be a result of the nitrate turning into nitric oxide in the body, reducing the oxygen cost of exercise.

In fact, drinking beet root juice reduces oxygen uptake and improves endurance better than any other known means, including training.

Including training! Obviously, this is big news for endurance athletes.


The Science

The researchers gave the test subjects 500ml per day of organic beet root juice for six consecutive days before completing a series of tests, involving cycling on an exercise bike.

On another occasion, they were given a placebo of blackcurrant cordial for six consecutive days before completing the same cycling tests.

After drinking beet root juice the group was able to cycle for an average of 11.25 minutes, which is 92 seconds longer than when they were given the placebo.

Beet root supplementation resulted in a 19% reduction in the amplitude of the pulmonary O2 response during moderate cardio exercise

As an extra added bonus, the group that had consumed the beet root juice also had lower resting blood pressure. (systolic pressure dropped 6 mmHg)

This blood pressure benefit was also found in a 2008 study.

In that study, researchers discovered that within 1 hour of drinking 500ml of beet root juice, volunteers experienced a drop in blood pressure, with the peak drop 3 to 4 hours after ingestion.

Some degree of reduction continued to be observed until up to 24 hours after ingestion.

Researchers showed that the decrease in blood pressure was due to the chemical formation of nitrite from the dietary nitrate in the juice. The nitrate in the juice is converted in saliva, by bacteria on the tongue, into nitrite. This nitrite-containing saliva is swallowed, and in the acidic environment of the stomach is either converted into nitric oxide or re-enters the circulation as nitrite.

The peak time of reduction in blood pressure correlated with the appearance and peak levels of nitrite in the circulation, an effect that was absent in a second group of volunteers who refrained from swallowing their saliva during, and for 3 hours following, beet root ingestion.

This research suggests that drinking beet root juice, or consuming other nitrate-rich vegetables, might be a simple, effective and inexpensive way to reduce blood pressure and maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.


If you are interested in:

  • Lowering your blood pressure
  • Reducing your risk of heart disease
  • Increasing your aerobic endurance
  • and making you cardio sessions feel much, much easier

Drink your beet juice.

And if you can’t get your hands on some fresh beet root juice, there are a number of GreenFood/SuperFood/Antioxidant drinks that have beet root powder as an ingredient.

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Are You Tough Enough for This Workout?

Are you tough enough to handle one of my custom HIIT/HIRT workouts?

And by handle the workout, I don’t mean just survive the workout. I mean, can you push yourself harder than you ever have before?

Can you kick my ass at this workout? Well, can you…punk?

The Workout

Part 1 – The HIIT.

30 minutes of HIIT sprints on a Stationary Bike

Note: These are short duration sprints – 10 sec. As such, they are to be performed at Maximum IntensityAnd when I say max intensity, I mean MAXIMUM INTENSITY.

      The 20 sec Active Rests should be performed at a 6-8 on the Borg Scale…very, very light effort.

Part 2 – The HIRT

This second part of the workout is a 10 Minute HIRT Circuit consisting of 3 exercises, performed back to back with no rest between sets. The goal is to complete as many reps as possible (AMRAP) in 10 minutes

Each set will consist of 5 reps performed in an explosive manner.We will be using bodyweight exercises.

  • Push-Up – 5 Reps per Set – As Many Sets As Possible in 10 minutes
  • Body-weight Row – 5 Reps per Set – As Many Sets As Possible in 10 minutes
  • Bulgarian Split Squat – 5 Reps per Set – As Many Sets As Possible in 10 minutes

For most, body-weight will be more than enough resistance. However, if you think you can handle it, feel free to add some resistance (weight vest, chains, bands, plates, dumbbells…your choice). But, I don’t want you sacrificing intensity & speed just to add some weight.

  • Remember, there is no rest between sets.
  • Perform all 3 exercises in the same spot.

I find that a Power Rack or Smith Machine works well for the Body-weight Rows. So, I just camp out there for the full 10 minutes using the bar (or a bench) for the Bulgarian Split Squats.

So, do you think you can kick my ass at this workout? Here’s how I did earlier today:

HIIT Sprints

      • All sprints completed as designed
      • Bike Resistance set at 80% of maximum
      • Fastest Revolutions per Leg in 10 seconds – 32 (3rd sprint)
      • Slowest Revolutions per Leg in 10 seconds – 24 (last sprint)

HIRT Workout

      • Push-Up – BW (248) + 20 lb Weight Vest for 100 reps
      • BW Row – BW (248) + 20 lb Weight Vest for 100 reps (Body held parallel to floor)
      • Bulgarian Split Squat – BW (248) + 20 lb Weight Vest + 25 lb plate for 105 reps per leg (Back leg on std. flat bench)

So, can you kick my ass?

PDF copy of the workout

13 Training Mistakes You Need to Avoid

Fitness training isn’t rocket science.

  • Good training & nutrition decisions produce good results.
  • Poor training & nutrition decisions produce poor results.

So, how come when I go to the gym this afternoon, I can pretty much guarantee that I am going to see a lot of intelligent, well-educated, gainfully employed people making some pretty stupid training decisions?

  • Maybe fitness training is rocket science?
  • Maybe I am some sort of fitness training genius.


So, as a public service to all of the non-fitness-training genii out there, here is a list of some of the training mistakes I will probably see at the gym today.

Try and avoid them.

  1. Doing Cardio Training before Resistance Training
  2. Doing Static Stretching before Resistance Training
  3. adductor inner thighTraining Core before Legs
  4. Chugging a Gatorade while reading a book on the Exercise Bike
  5. Thinking that the Inner Thigh (Adductor) Machine is going to work some sort of magic.
  6. Ignoring your Weaknesses and over-training your Strengths
  7. Believing that Core Training is all about Crunches & Planks
  8. Training Body Parts instead of Body Movements
  9. Believing that you can Out-Train a Bad Diet
  10. Making chronic neck & shoulder pain worse by ignoring your postural muscles
  11. Thinking that Resistance Training will make you too big
  12. Thinking that Cardio training will make you too small
  13. Performing a one size fits all type of fitness program

And if you see yourself on the list and want to change your evil ways, feel free to comment.

I or one of your fellow readers would be glad to lend a hand.


I just received an email from a quasi-famous strength coach/trainer to the stars telling me that I was an idiot for believing that cardio prior to resistance training is a bad idea.

Personally, I can’t believe that he took the time out of his day to tell me off via email (wouldn’t a comment have been quicker?) but I would like to thank him because it helped me come up with another fitness training mistake:


Believing that one way of training is the 100% right and that all other methods are 100% wrong.

Whether it’s hardcore cardio junkies or Crosfitters or bodybuilders of Yoginis, being close minded to different training methods seems prety stupid to me.

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Having trouble sticking to your diet?

Summer. The weather is warm, the steaks are sizzling on the bbq, the beer is flowing and the last thing you want to think about is sticking to your diet.

beach party

If this sounds like you, read on…

According to a new study, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and obesity are on the rise in Canadians of all ages. (same goes for you non-Canadians)

It’s so bad that for the first time in 2 centuries, Canadians can expect to die earlier than their parents. And why, you may ask are more and more of us dropping like flys on a bug zapper?

Because we are fat.

fat canadian

The authors of the study found that hypertension and diabetes are increasing most in those who were obese or overweight.

“Projections suggest that the rising prevalence of obesity in the current generation of adolescents will increase the prevalence of coronary heart disease by 5 to 16% in 2035, and may for the first time in 2 centuries significantly reduce life expectancy in the 21st century,” state Dr. Douglas Lee of the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.

Obesity = Hypertension = Diabetes = Heart Disease = An Early Death

And just in case you still feel like reaching for another handful of nacho chips…

This couple loves to eat nachos & donuts & pizza & ice cream
This couple loves to eat nachos & donuts & pizza & ice cream
This couple doesn't
This couple doesn’t

Your choice

A Reader’s Experience with HIIT

Taz love HIIT
Taz love HIIT

Obviously, I love HIIT.

And as it turns out, I am not alone.

A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from Matt explaining how his fitness had gone through the roof after becoming a HIIT guy.

Here’s Matt’s story… in his own words:

My experience with HIIT

When I first heard of HIIT I thought it was just simply interval training, a time tested way to raise your endurance.  However I started looking into this more and its very different then just interval training, you alternate periods of very high/extreme effort with periods of low effort.  My first real HIIT session was 2-30s, 2-20s, and 1-10s intervals after a 5min warm-up.  Only 5 minutes of actual HIIT, but it left me shaky and a little light headed, but shortly after that I also had a great sense of well being.  I have since grown to really enjoy my HIIT sessions.

Results?  I started easy on HIIT and although my diet has not been as great as I have wanted I still have managed to lose 8lbs in the past 8 weeks. That may not sound like much, but I had been on a plateau prior to this for a month or so, and it should also be noted that I have lost 2.5in on my chest, 2in off my stomach, and 1in off my waist as well.  Lately I think I may be re-compositioning because in the last 2 weeks alone I have lost a ½in on both my chest and my waist with no net weight change.

bruce_lee 2The most noticeable results for me come from my martial arts sessions, particularly sparring where it can be very explosive start/stop type of a workout, I simply don’t get winded anymore and even when I start to breathe hard it’s only a matter of seconds before I can recover.  HIIT has totally supercharged my cardiovascular system, in the past my wind always went long before my muscles, now it is tending to be the other way around which lets me train harder.

The scariest part initially was seeing the HR ranges I was staying in; however everything I have read states that perceived effort (how you feel) is more important than reading the numbers.  Our max HR are all different just like how our bodies will respond to HIIT is different, as long as you are not light headed, gasping for air, your arms are not tingling, or your chest not hurting your probably fine.  But at the same regard I would not jump full bore into HIIT without some moderate prior cardio work of some sort just to gauge your current status.

Otherwise I highly recommend HIIT to anyone healthy enough to perform it that wants improve their cardiovascular system or drop some fat.

Thanks Doug for helping me along with my questions on HIIT!



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Age is just a number, right?

dara torres age is just a number

Yesterday, at the U.S. National Swimming Championships, a 42 year old mom with:

  • an arthritic and surgically repaired left knee,
  • a surgically repaired right shoulder,
  • and a surgically repaired left thumb…

won the U.S. national 50 meter freestyle championship.

42 years old

Fastest female swimmer in the U.S.


Dara Torres

Here’s a link to a video of the race.

Not too shabby for a 42 year old

So,what’s your excuse Mr. & Mrs. Couch Potato?

fat couple on the beach

Too old just doesn’t cut it anymore.

You’re only as old, fat, tired and broken down as you choose to be.

Age is just a number.

Decide today if you want to be 42 like Dara Torres:

dara torres banner

or 42 like this guy:

just kidding, Wilford was 43 when this pic was snapped
just kidding, Wilford was 43 when this pic was snapped

Once again…Dara Torres’ brand of 42

dara torres banner 2

Typical American brand of 42


Your choice.


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Occlusion / Kaatsu Training: The easiest and fastest way to build muscle mass OR health club kink?

You gotta love the Japanese.

They start with a little of this:

arnold bicep curl arm blaster

Add in a little of this:

image credit: Roger Hargreaves
image credit: Roger Hargreaves

And end up with this:

kaatsu biceps

Occlusion or Kaatsu training.

What is Occlusion or Kaatsu Training?

In a nutshell, Occlusion Training involves applying a tourniquet of some sort (Researchers use a pneumatic tourniquets similar to a blood pressure cuff) to the proximal portion of one of your limbs to restrict blood flow (partially or fully) while you perform low intensity exercise.

And why would you do that?

According to this recent study:

Low intensity occlusion (50-100 mm Hg) training provides a unique beneficial training mode for promoting muscle hypertrophy.

Training at intensities as low as 20% of 1 rep maximum with moderate vascular occlusion results in muscle hypertrophy in as little as 3 weeks.

A typical exercise prescription calls for 3 to 5 sets to volitional fatigue with short rest periods.

The metabolic buildup causes positive phsiologic reactions, specifically a rise in growth hormone that is higher than levels found with higher intensities.

Occlusion training is applicable for those who are unable to sustain high loads due to joint pain, postoperative patients, cardiac rehabilitation, athletes who are unloading, and astronauts.

In fact, during the study, test subjects saw some pretty startling results:

  • Lactate increased
  • Growth Hormone increased
  • Norepinephrine increased
  • IGF-1 increased
  • Noradrenaline increased
  • Myostatin decreased
  • One rep maximum strength increased
  • Isometric strength & torque increased
  • Isokinetic strength & torque increased
  • Muscular endurance increased
  • Cross-sectional area of the muscle increased
  • Slow twitch fibers changed into Fast twitch fibers

And all you need to turn yourself into a muscle-building Kaatsu warrior is some bondage gear and the ability to ignore the stares and giggles of your fellow health club members.

occlusion training - leg extension

So, what do you think of that?

I may come back and expand this post with more data in the next few days. I just received a full copy of this latest study and I am poring over the details. But, I couldn’t wait to share this with you.

Looking forward to the comments.


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Today’s Workout – June 15, 2009

leg press ronnie coleman

Monday’s Workout


  • 10 min of Joint Mobility exercises & Dynamic Stretching
  • including kicking, punching & Turkish Get-Ups


Superset #1

  • 1 Arm Standing Cable Row – 81x tempo – 90 x 8, 105 x 8, 120 x 8, 135 x 8, 150 x 8, 165 x 5, supersetted with
  • Stab. Ball Terminal Leg Extension – 151 tempo – 6 sets of 10 reps

no rest between sets – 1 min rest between superset 1 & 2

Superset #2

  • Cybex Leg Press/Squat Hybrid Machine – 911 tempo – 5 sets of 10 reps @ 540 lbs, supersetted with
  • Incline DB Fly – 91x tempo – 5 sets of 8 reps @ 45 lbs

No rest between sets

30 sec rest between superset 2 & 3

Superset #3

  • 2 Arm Cable Tricep Pushdowns – 91x tempo – 3 sets of 15 reps @ 150 lbs,  supersetted with
  • 2 Arm Cable Slide Reverse Grip Curls – 91x tempo – 3 sets of 10 reps @ 150 lbs

No rest between sets

30 sec rest between superset 3 & 4

Superset #4

  • Dragon Flags – BW – tempo 91x – BW x 8/5/5/5/5/3, supersetted with
  • Vacuums – 6 sets of 5 reps – tempo 191

No rest between sets

Vacuum - Frank Zane
Vacuum - Frank Zane

Flexibility/Mobility Training

  • 15 minutes of static & pnf stretching


Slow negatives suck

Today’s Workout – June 12, 2009

Resistance Training Day


  • 10 min of Joint Mobility exercises & Dynamic Stretching
  • Pre-Hab exercises for shoulders & hips


Superset #1

  • Roll-outs – 10 sets of 10 reps – Bodyweight
  • Reverse Lunge – 10 sets of 20 reps (10 per leg) Bodyweight

No rest between sets

2 min rest between superset 1 & 2 as I move from stretching room to lifting room

Superset #2

  • 1 Arm Kneeling Pulldown – 8 sets of 5 reps per arm – weight pyramided from150-240 lbs
  • Glute Ham Raise off of Pulldown Machine – Bodyweight – 8 sets of 5 reps – Bodyweight

No rest between sets

30 sec rest between superset 2 & 3

Superset #3

  • Cable Woodchop – slight decline angle – 7 sets of 6 reps in both directions (total reps – 72), weight pyramiding from 120 – 195 lbs., (last 3 sets 19, 16, 14 reps) supersetted with
  • Jumping / Shuffling Split Lunges – 7 sets of 20 reps, Bodyweight
  • 1 Arm DB Overhead Press – 7 sets of 5 reps @ 65lbs – last set 12 reps

Set #4

  • Cybex Military Press – 1 big drop set  – 4 big breaths between sets
  • 205 x 16
  • 190 x 11
  • 170 x 8
  • 150 x 6
  • 130 x 5
  • 110 x 4
  • 90 x 5

Flexibility/Mobility Training

  • 15 minutes of static & pnf stretching


Decent workout

Yesterday’s workout – 60 minutes of cardio on the bike while watchinbg the Lakers beat the Magic


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The Top 10 Fitness Experts in the Universe

Need some fitness advice?

Need to get in shape……fast?

Well, look no further, because in today’s post, I have assembled the top 10 workouts from the top 10 leading minds in the field of exercise science.


Just kidding…seriously


Workout Genius #1.

Kim Kardashian – Fit in your Jeans by Friday

kim kardashian fit in your jeans by friday

Workout Genius #2

Carmen Electra – Aerobic Striptease

carmen electra aerobic striptease

Workout Genius #3

Jane Fonda – The Original Celebrity Workout Guru

jane fonda workout

Workout Genius #4

Jim Carrey – aka Vera DeMilo

Workout Genius #5

Suzanne Somers – The ThighMaster

suzanne somers thighmaster

Workout Genius #6

Cindy Crawford

cindy crawford workout

Who knew that Cindy spoke German?

Workout Genius #7

Fabio – that’s all I’m sayin…Fabio

fabio workout

Workout Genius #8


barbie workout

Workout Genius #9

Heather Locklear


Workout Genius #10

Traci Lords – Warm Up with Traci Lords

traci lords workout

And as an extra bonus, I have included this classic from the 80s.

The 20 Minute Workout


If anyone has any other classic workout videos/books/etc, leave a comment and I will expand the list.


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Lack of Sleep = Weight Gain

sleep garfield

Did you get 8 hours of sleep last night?

According to some new research, sleep restriction results in:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Decreased food cravings
  • Decreased food consumption, and
  • Increased bodyweight


Sleep less…Eat Less…Weigh more???

The Science

The study involved 92 healthy individuals (52 male) between the ages of 22 and 45 years who participated in laboratory controlled sleep restriction. Subjects underwent two nights of baseline sleep (10 hours in bed per night), five nights of sleep restriction and varying recovery for four nights. Nine well rested participants served as controls. Food consumption was ad libitum (subjects had three regular meals per day and access to healthy snacks, and during nights of sleep restriction subjects were given a small sandwich at one a.m.).

Results indicate that people whose sleep was restricted experienced an average weight gain of 1.31 kilograms (2.9 lbs) over the 11 days of the study.


I am sorry to say that there are no conclusions. The researchers have no idea what happened.

The researchers had hoped to see a link between sleep deprivation and an increased craving for carbs.

When that didn’t happen, they had to scramble. here’s what they came up with:

  • Lack of sleep may result in less activity (not measured), and
  • “the ability to snack for longer due to reduction in time spent asleep might have influenced the weight gain”. (and yet their measurement showed a reduction in caloric consumption)

My Conclusion/Assumption

I think that if the researchers had done some blood tests pre and post experiment, they would have seen some interesting changes.

Anyone who suffers from insomnia knows that lack of sleep has a huge impact upon both your physical and mental state of health.

I would have been curious to see the changes in levels of serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, etc along with insulin and various other obesity related hormones/brain chemicals.

Maybe next time.


This research was presented at the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies


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My Unconscious Mind is Making Me Fat – Part 3

emotional eating chocolate

In Part 2 of this series, I tried to back up my belief that our unconscious minds make us fat with some science.

In case you missed it, here’s the Cliffs Notes version:

  • Our Western Diet is high in sugar, fat & salt
  • A diet high in sugar, fat & salt over-stimulates our reward centers and causes us to…
  • Seek out more and more sugar, fat & salt

In essence, this Un-Holy Trinity of processed food ingredients is an addictive substance.

Just like drugs or alcohol or sex.

So, what do we do about it?


The Plan

Step 1

Mental Strategy

Whether you know it or not, your brain is constantly searching for the answers to questions…all sorts of questions…Why am I so fat?…What smells in here?…Why would she wear those shoes with that dress…..

What we need to do is to harness the power of our own personal Google search engine by asking it better questions.

Better questions lead to better answers.

Better answers leads to better assumptions about yourself.

And better assumptions lead to better actions.

And better actions leads to success.

And I know that this all sounds like a bunch of self-help, new agey blah blah blah, but I have seen it work time and time again.

It is one of the main reasons successful personal trainers have successful clients.

Because they have helped clients lose weight and get fit in the past, they assume that all of their clients will lose weight and get fit. And then they go and lend that confidence to their clients…and eventually, the client accepts that the trainer is right and starts assuming that they too will lose weight and get fit.

And then they go out and do it.

And this is how you’re going to do it.

1. Ask yourself what you want.

Lose weight, get fit, be healthy, have lots of energy, see my abs, see my toes, live to 100, firm up my arms, run a marathon, shrink my butt, get a bigger butt, etc…

2. Write down these “wants” in the form of a question. But, most importantly, write that question as if you have already achieved the goal.

  • Why am I fit?
  • Why does my butt look so great in my jeans?
  • Why can I run a marathon?
  • Why do I have so much energy?
  • Why does everyone find me so damn sexy?

3. Don’t actively try and answer the questions. Just ask ’em.

Ask these questions often and just let your unconscious mind start working on finding the answers.

4. Start taking actions based on the assumptions raised by your questions.

This is the hard work – changing your diet, exercising more, getting enough sleep, etc…

The Plan

Step 2

Dietary Strategy

Your body functions best on a diet of non-processed protein, non-processed fats and non-processed carbohydrates.

The less processing the better.

  • Your Mom’s “homeburger” is better than a Big Mac
  • An orange is better than orange juice
  • Grass feed beef is better than corn fed beef
  • Roast chicken is better than McNuggets

and don’t pretend that you don’t already know this stuff.

Because we both know that you do.

And even though your unconscious mind is forcing your body to crave junk, consciously, you know that stuff is bad for you.

This is what’s good for you.

  • Beef, chicken, pork, poultry, fish, eggs, etc…unprocessed, organic if possible
  • Vegetables…unprocessed
  • Fruit…unprocessed
  • Nuts & seeds – not fried in oil
  • Water

Now, how you transition from eating junk to eating healthy is up to you.

Some people prefer to do it gradually…cut out the McDonalds first, then cut out Subway, then cut out the “microwave-ready” meals and eventually they end up with a diet that is good for them

Other people like to dive right into the deep end. Throw out all of the junk and re-stock the pantry with healthy stuff.

It’s up to you, but I would recommend the second option. It’s just like tearing off a band-aid. It hurts more at first, but it’s over with much quicker.

Note – for this article, I am not going into much detail about the diet. I will be doing that next week. But, if you can’t wait, take a trip through the archives.

The Plan

Step 3

Exercise Strategy

There has been a bunch of research done showing that exercise stimulates the same reward centers in the brain as food or drugs or sex. In these studies, the type of exercise was shown to be irrelevant. You will receive the same benefit whether you walk, do yoga, play softball or take up weight lifting.

And considering that you are going to be facing a big enough challenge with your dietary changes, I would suggest that you choose an activity that you might actually enjoy.

In a perfect world, I would have you do a variety of exercise in order to improve all of the aspects of your physical fitness.

But, for now, finding a workout buddy and going for a brisk walk each night is a great start. If you’re extra motivated, stop every now and then and do some push-ups or partner assisted bodyweight rows. If you’re extra-extra motivated, throw in some short bursts of  jogging/running/sprinting during your walk.

In the coming weeks, I will be posting a variety of exercise videos that you can do in the great outdoors.

The Plan

Step 4

Emotional Strategy

This may be the most difficult part of the plan for some of you.


During this process, you are going to screw up. Guaranteed.

You’re going to give in to temptation and demolish a bowl of ice cream or a bag of potato chips.

And you know what, it doesn’t matter. One meal (even one really big meal) isn’t the reason why we gained the weight in the first place.

And one meal isn’t going to derail your efforts to lose the weight.

But, if you beat yourself up about it, you WILL be more likely to wallow in that guilt. And if you wallow, you are much more likely to slip again and again and again….until you eventually give up altogether.

So, when you give in to the lure of the Golden Arches…ENJOY IT!!!

Don’t worry about the calories. Don’t skip breakfast the next day. Don’t go to the gym and run on the treadmill for 2 hours.

You’re human. You screwed up. The world didn’t end. Start over.


As well, I would also recommend people take a look at including some form of Mindfulness Meditation in their program. It’s an unbelievably powerful practice that has been shown to have numerous health benefits.

However, I also know that a lot of people think this stuff is a load of crap. No way, no how are they going to meditate…mindfully or not. Up to you.


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My Unconscious Mind is Making Me Fat – Part 2

smore brownies
s'more brownies: the food network

Your conscious mind is a super-powered tool in the fight against obesity.


When used correctly, your conscious mind can give you the ability to be:

  • faster than your neighborhood pizza delivery man
  • more powerful than your addiction to chocolate, and
  • able to turn down seconds on dessert…even if it’s that double chocolate cake that your mom makes with the extra thick icing and…..

….well, you get the point.

fat supermanSo, why is it that most of us look nothing like Six-Pack Superman, and more and more of us are looking a lot like the Two-Ton Superman?

Well, I’ll tell you.

Like Superman was helpless against kryptonite, in today’s society, when it comes to obesity (and related diseases – diabetes, heart disease & cancer), your conscious mind is just as helpless against your unconscious mind.

But fear not super-dieters, there is hope.

With the help of some lifestyle changes, you too can defeat your unconscious mind.

And I’m going to tell you how to do it.

double fried french fries: Guy Fieri
double fried french fries: Guy Fieri

1.     Homeostasis v.s. Reward

In nature, you don’t see too many fat animals.

In civilized society, you see lots of fat animals – cats, dogs, humans.

What’s the difference?

In a nutshell, it comes down to a battle between the reward system of your brain and the homeostatic system of your brain.

The homeostatic system of your brain tries to keep things static. Calories in v.s calories out. Everything balanced. Not too fat, not too thin.

The reward system is all about pleasure.

The reward system is all about eating a slice (or two) of deep fried cheesecake in order to make yourself feel better about that bad day at work…or getting dumped by your girlfriend…or the stressful commute…or….well, you get the point.

deep fried cheesecake: Paula Deen
deep fried cheesecake: Paula Deen

For the sake of brevity, I am not going to go into the science behind this battle. And there is a LOT of science…involving brain research, nervous systems, the G.I. tract, hormones, neurotransmitters, proteins, DNA, epigenetics, etc…

If anyone really, really wants to read about the science, shoot me an email at

Chicago style "deep dish" pizza
Chicago style "deep dish" pizza

So, what’s the deal with the Reward System?

The reward system is designed to help you seek out pleasurable things like food and sex and food.

Without that drive, nothing ever gets done and the human race ceases to exist.

However, the reward system can (and has) be manipulated to make us crave things that aren’t necessarily good for us…like sweet potato pie with whipped cream on top.

sweet potato pie: the food network
sweet potato pie: the food network

And while sweet potato pie isn’t inherently bad for you, I think most of you would agree that a diet based on sweet potato pie and mashed potato skins and caramel pecan sundaes is a quick and easy way to get fat.

mashed potato skins: Rachael Ray
mashed potato skins: Rachael Ray

And that is precisely how the reward system overwhelms your homeostatic system.

With food that stimulates the reward system and makes you feel good….temporarily.

And just like any other pleasure-seeking junkie, your reward system is constantly trying to get you to repeat those behaviors that give you pleasure.

So, even if your homeostatic system is telling you to stop eating, your reward system overrules it, and you say yes to that second or third piece of pie.

caramel pecan sundaes: Barefoot Contessa
caramel pecan sundaes: Barefoot Contessa

And the food manufacturers know all about this stuff.

They know exactly how to create meals that will maximally stimulate the reward center and keep you eating and eating and eating.

fried chicken: Paula Deen
fried chicken: Paula Deen

Their secret?

The un-holy trinity of processed food:

  • Sugar

  • Fat

  • Salt

double chocolate gooey butter cake: Paula Deen
double chocolate gooey butter cake: Paula Deen

These three ingredients are the cornerstone of just about every great meal that you have ever had.

lasagna: the Neelys
lasagna: the Neelys

Think about it…

  • Sweet, buttery, ooey gooey cake, or
  • A thick slice of cheesy, meaty lasagna, or
  • Crispy, crunchy, sweet & salty onion rings
onion rings: Guy Fieri
onion rings: Guy Fieri

Getting hungry?

I know I am.

Even as I write this sentence, my reward system is pulling up memories of past meals and setting into motion some very physical symptoms of hunger.

Now, imagine if I was at a restaurant with all of the smells and sounds and sights that the food industry uses to keep you coming back for more.

and finally...a brownie pizza by Paula Deen
and finally...a brownie pizza by Paula Deen

Well, that’s enough for today.

Stay tuned for Part 3.


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PediaSure…a source of complete and balanced nutrition for our kids?

When I was a kid, one of my favorite treats was chocolate milk.

nestle quik nesquik

A great big glass of milk (whole milk, not skim) with a heaping tablespoon of Nestle Quik.

mmmmmmmmmmmmm good. I can almost taste it now.

True, it wasn’t the healthiest choice of beverage for a growing boy, but like I said, it was an occasional treat, and all of the good stuff in the milk helped to make up for the overdose of sugar in the chocolate milk powder.

Well, things certainly are different today.

Today, good old fashioned chocolate milk has been re-placed, re-packaged, re-formulated and re-branded as PediaSure.  And PediaSure is being marketed to parents as the pediatrician recommended choice for your child’s nutritive needs.

Ahhhh, wasn’t that adorable. The poor little kid doesn’t like broccoli or chicken or waffles. But she sure likes her PediaSure.

And that’s okay, because PediaSure is “a source of complete balanced nutrition…for healthy growth”.

And it’s pediatrician recommended.

You can trust me, I'm a doctor
You can trust me, I'm a doctor

Okay, let’s forget about the pediatrician recommended thing for a moment.

Let’s try to be objective and look at the ingredients.

Here is a little chart I put together comparing PediaSure and my childhood addiction, chocolate milk.

Sorry about the fuzzy image. Click on the pdf link below for a clearer image
Sorry about the fuzzy image. Click on the pdf link below for a clearer image

PediaSure vs Chocolate Milk-pdf

Note – I included a whole milk and a reduced fat chocolate milk in the comparison because I realize that no one drinks whole milk anymore because of the fear of cholesterol. And I am glad I did. It provided an interesting observation.

PediaSure v.s Chocolate Milk

Here are some of my observations:

  • PediaSure is higher in calories than both of the chocolate milk samples.
  • The higher calories is due primarily to a higher fat content
  • The higher fat content is a design feature of PediaSure. PediaSure is fortified with  life’sDHA by Martek Biosciences Corporation. DHA is an Omega3 fatty acid that has been shown to support brain development.

In fact, PediaSure ran another commercial highlighting the supplemental DHA in their product.

Here is some more info on life’sDHA. Feel free to scroll down if the details are too geeky for you.

LifesDHA_logolife’sDHA™ from algae is a vegetarian source of DHA. It’s produced, from start to finish, in an FDA-inspected facility with controls in place to ensure the highest quality.

Martek’s microalgae are grown in fermentors that range in size from 80,000 to 260,000 liters. The algae are then harvested and processed to extract the DHA-rich oil. The finished product is a clear, amber-colored oil rich in DHA.

And as my regular readers already know, I am a big fan of DHA and Omega3s in general. There are lots of health benefits to supplementing your kid’s diet with Omega 3s.

Back to PediaSure v.s Chocolate Milk

  • All 3 samples have the same amount of protein
  • The reduced fat chocolate milk has the lowest amount of fat calories (duh!)
  • And it has replaced those fat calories with sucrose

But most important….

  • PediaSure has far and away the highest amount of Omega6 fatty acids

and when we look at their Omega6 to Omega3 ratios, we see that:

  • PediaSure has a 10.6 : 1 – Omega 6 : Omega 3 ratio, while
  • Whole milk chocolate milk has a 1.7 : 1 – Omega 6 : Omega 3 ratio

And, as I have said before, having a diet with a high Omega6 : Omega3 ratio, is a bad, bad thing.

As well, it should also be noted that organic milk (or pre-factory farm milk) has been shown to have 71% more Omega3 fatty acids than conventional milk. Just some food for thought.

Here are a couple of studies – Study 1, Study 2

So, what does all of this mean?

  1. In my opinion, PediaSure is inferior to whole milk chocolate milk when it comes to feeding your kids.
  2. Kids don’t like broccoli. Never have, never will. But instead of giving up on feeding real, healthy food to your kids, go to your library and take out this book.
  3. Monkey see, monkey do. If you are eating junk for dinner, how are you ever going to convince your kids to eat healthy?
  4. Even if chocolate milk is healthier for your kids than PediaSure, please remember that it is not a wonder-food. It’s a treat…like dessert.


And please, please, please – pass this article on to anyone you know who has kids and is feeding their kids PediaSure.

Childhood obesity is higher than ever before….and if we’re at the point where laboratory designed chocolate milk is actually being sold as a healthy option for our kids, we have really lost our way.


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Can Potassium Reverse High Blood Pressure?

  • High blood pressure is a killer….we all know that
  • Eating a diet high in sodium can lead to high blood pressure….we all know that

And because we know these things, a lot of people have been told by their doctors to stop eating this…

Salty Snacks

…and to start eating this…


And they aren’t happy about it……….but maybe there is another way.

Maybe, instead of labeling salt as a BAD FOOD, and banning it from our diets altogether, we can balance out the hypertensive effect of sodium with the hypotensive effect of potassium. If only we had some proof…

The Proof

Earlier this year, researchers found that “the ratio of sodium-to-potassium was a much stronger predictor of hypertension and cardiovascular disease than sodium or potassium alone”.

“There isn’t as much focus on potassium, but potassium seems to be effective in lowering blood pressure and the combination of a higher intake of potassium and lower consumption of sodium seems to be more effective than either on its own in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Paul Whelton, senior author of the study in the January 2009 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

In this study, researchers determined average sodium and potassium intake of their test subjects.

They collected 24-hour urine samples intermittently during an 18-month period in one trial and during a 36-month period in a second trial.

The 2,974 study participants initially aged 30-to-54 and with blood pressure readings just under levels considered high, were followed for 10-15 years to see if they would develop cardiovascular disease.

The Results

  • The highest salt consumers were 20% more likely to suffer strokes, heart attacks or other forms of cardiovascular disease when compared to the lowest of the low sodium eaters.

20% more likely to suffer a stroke. That sounds great…time to ditch that salt shaker…..right?  Maybe not…

  • The participants with the highest sodium-to-potassium ratio in urine were 50 percent more likely to experience cardiovascular disease than those with the lowest sodium-to-potassium ratios.

According to this study, the ratio of potassium to sodium in your diet is more important to the health of your heart than the overall consumption of sodium.

According to Dr. Whelton, healthy 19-to-50 year-old adults should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day — equivalent to one teaspoon of table salt.

NOTE: More than 95 percent of American men and 75 percent of American women in this age range exceed this amount.

What does this mean to you?

Odds are that you are part of the majority whose sodium : potassium ratio is out of whack.

  • How much potassium do you need to help balance out the salt?

To lower blood pressure and blunt the effects of salt, adults should consume 4.7 grams of potassium per day unless they have a clinical condition or medication need that is a contraindication to increased potassium intake.

Most American adults aged 31-to-50 consume only about half this amount.

  • And how do we get more potassium?
  • Good potassium sources include fruits, vegetables, dairy foods and fish.
  • Foods that are especially rich in potassium include potatoes and sweet potatoes, fat-free milk and yogurt, tuna, lima beans, bananas, tomato sauce and orange juice.
  • Potassium also is available in supplements. However, most potassium supplements come in dosages of 50mg . To get your daily 5 grams, you would need to take 100 pills.

So, maybe we should listen to the good doctor and “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”Hippocrates

Click here for the USDA’s list of foods high in Potassium..

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Boot Camp Fitness


According to the Boston Globe, Boot Camps are the “newest, trendy way to get into shape.”


I hate trendy.

And yet, I think boot camps are a great idea.

  • Intense workouts
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Fun, challenging workouts
  • The shared experience reduces the drop-out rate

But of course, Health Habits can do it better.

So, if any of my Toronto area readers are interested in getting tortured by yours truly in an outdoor training session amongst your neighbors and a bunch of people out walking their dogs, Email Me and we will try and squeeze you in.


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Ryan Seacrest and Jamie Oliver take on America’s Obesity Epidemic

jamie oliver ryan seacrest

Attention America!!!!….celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and Ryan Seacrest have teamed up to take on America’s obesity epidemic.

In their new reality tv series, chef Jamie Oliver will travel to America’s fattest cities and “find ways to use nearby resources to improve local eating habits”. It’s kind of like the Biggest Loser, but with more cooking and less sweating.


According to the Hollywood Reporter,the series is loosely inspired on Oliver’s acclaimed school lunch project in the U.K., where the chef set about to improve kids’ nutrition. His effort to improve one school’s offerings, documented in the 2005 series “Jamie’s School Dinners,” shamed educators into passing new measures to ban certain junk foods.

Seacrest said he talked about school lunches during a segment on his KISS FM morning radio show and was struck by the amount of listener response. Then he heard Oliver was looking to bring his public service campaign stateside. The resulting ABC show will not only tackle a city’s schools, but workplaces and other avenues for change.

“I couldn’t do what I do in terms of my schedule if I didn’t eat right and exercise right,” Seacrest said. “As a kid I was chubby, and I’m a firm believer that the fuel we put into our body results in a healthy lifestyle. Jamie’s going to come over here, roll up his sleeves and use the resources of each town to help condition living habits to make it a better and healthier place.”

At this time, ABC has committed to 6 episodes of the Seacrest produced show.

The target city has yet to be chosen. Perhaps they will chose from one of the cities ranked by Men’s Fitness as the 10 Fattest Cities in America.

  1. Miami, FL
  2. Oklahoma City, OK
  3. San Antoni, TX
  4. Las Vegas, NV
  5. New York, NY
  6. Houston, TX
  7. El Paso, TX
  8. Jacksonville, FL
  9. Charlotte, NC
  10. Louisville-Jefferson, KY

But, then again, I’m sure that there are lots of cities all across America that could use a Seacrest/Oliver weight loss makeover. And seeing as this show is still in the pre-pre-production stage, perhaps an organized email campaign could bring Jamie Oliver and his low-fat skillet to your town.

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trust me, i'm a doctor-health-healthcare-healthhabits

The status-quo is broken…We need a new model for burning fat and getting fit

For decades, we have listened to the nation’s health experts tell us:

  • what to eat,
  • what not to eat,
  • how much to eat,
  • how much exercise we need,
  • what type of exercise we need….

And, after all of that advice, we have become a nation world afflicted with runaway obesity, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, cancer, etc…

And yet, when we want to improve our health or reduce our waistlines, we still turn to the experts.


Everyday I meet people who are trying to get into shape. For years, they have been trying to follow the rules laid down by the experts.

  • They followed the food pyramid
  • They cut the fat out of their diets
  • They did their 20 minutes of fat-burning cardio
  • They choked down their egg white omelettes
  • They ate their fiber

And they watched their backsides get wider and their blood pressure rise higher and higher.

  • It’s time for a change.
  • The status quo is broken.
  • The top-down approach doesn’t work.

But with the technology available today, we don’t need to rely solely on that expert advice from up above. We can connect those people who are desperate to transform their bodies with those people willing to help. We can create a tribe of people devoted to health, fitness and each other.

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10 more reasons to love High Intensity Interval Training

  1. HIIT was better than the standard  multidisciplinary approach (exercise, diet and psychological support) at helping overweight kids reduce their cardiovascular risk factorsHere’s the study
  2. HIIT can prevent cardiac death in type 2 diabetic individuals. Here’s the study
  3. HIIT should be a required treatment for all Metabolic Syndrome patients. 16 weeks of HIIT training significantly reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease, in terms of improved VO2max, endothelial function, blood pressure, insulin signaling, and plasma lipid composition. Here’s the study
  4. HIIT substantially improves insulin action. Say bye-bye to type 2 diabetes & metabolic syndrome. Here’s the study
  5. HIIT increases levels of HDL cholesterol – that’s the  good cholesterol. Here’s the study
  6. HIIT improves the HRR (Heart Rate Recovery – a measure of how quickly your heart returns to normal post-exercise)) in already well-trained cyclists. Here’s the study
  7. HIIT drastically improves cardiovascular function (V02max) in patients with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) Here’s the study
  8. Interval training produced a 302% greater increase inV02max when compared to a long, slow distance training protocol. Here’s the study
  9. HIIT significantly improved the aerobic fitness of a group of prepubescent children (aerobic fitness measured by peak oxygen consumption and maximal aerobic velocity) Here’s the study
  10. HIIT improves the erectile function of hypertension patients  Here’s the study fellas

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Here's why you NEED aerobic exercise

Let’s face it. Cardio is boring. Running laps around a track or pedaling away like some spandex wearing gerbil…..Boring.

But,according to the authors of this new study, “your personal aerobic fitness is not something you will see in the mirror but it is an important predictor of your long-term health,”

“The most important part of physical activity is protecting yourself from diseases that can be fatal or play a significant role in increasing the risk factors for other metabolic diseases.”

The Study

Fatty Liver

For years, we have known that poor aerobic fitness is associated with obesity, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. This new study adds another serious condition to the list – non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

The study also suggests that the resulting liver problems play a crucial step developing obesity-related illnesses. In fact, the study authors think that “Fatty liver disease will be the next big metabolic disorder associated with obesity and inactivity.”

So, to test the link between aerobic fitness and fatty liver disease, the researcher bred a strain of genetically unfit rats. These couch-potato rats could only run an average of 200m compared to over 1500m for the average fit rat.

Leaving both strains of rats to their own devices, the researchers noticed that at 25 weeks, the unfit rats showed clear signs of fatty liver. “By the end of their natural lives, the rats’ livers had sustained damage including fibrosis (the precursor to cirrhosis) and unexpected cell death”.

In contrast, the ‘fit’ group enjoyed heathy livers throughout their lifespans – despite the fact that neither group was getting any real exercise.

The team’s findings provide the first biochemical links between low aerobic fitness and fatty liver disease, and have lead the authors to suggest that NAFLD could potentially be treated or prevented by a suitable exercise program.


  • Aerobic exercise is boring
  • Aerobic exercise prevents fatty liver disease
  • You don’t want fatty liver disease, so
  • Get movin’

The Future of Fast Food


A new study, published in the Millbank Quarterly, looked at the impact that government taxes and subsidies might have upon the growing trend of obesity in the United States.

Based upon their research, “nontrivial pricing interventions might have a measurable effect on Americans’ weight outcomes, particularly those of children and adolescents, low-SES (socio-economic status) populations, and those most at risk for overweight.

Even though they would have only a small impact on individual behavior, such interventions could have a large impact at the population level when applied broadly.

And what do they mean by nontrivial pricing interventions?

The empirical evidence supports a multipronged approach, especially for children and adolescents, of changing relative prices by both taxing less healthy, energy-dense foods and subsidizing healthier, less-dense foods.

Aaahhh, taxes and subsidies = nontrivial pricing interventions

The Justification for Increased Taxes and Subsidies


The researchers found that the price of junk food and sugar had a large effect on adolescent and adult rates of obesity.

Well, that makes sense. How many chubby little kids can afford a $29.95 Happy Meal.

As well, subsidies of fruits and vegetables were also estimated to improve children’s and adolescents’ weight outcomes.

Cheaper fruits & veg…why didn’t I think of that.

And finally, this price sensitivity was found to be strongest with overweight and low-SES children.

And it just so happens that low-SES kids have higher rates of obesity than their Richie Rich schoolmates.

So, there you go.

It’s all about the kids. The poor little fat kids.


Of course, it’s the fat parents of those poor little fat kids who are going to have to foot the bill.

And dammit, Americans don’t like taxes.

or, do they?.

Currently, state taxes on sodas and various junk foods are relatively low, and no state or local government has used these taxes to promote healthier eating and reduce obesity.

See, cheap subsidized corn + low “food” taxes = more Extra-Value meals per citizen.

But wait….

The same was generally true for state cigarette taxes before the public became aware of the health
consequences of smoking
, when cigarette excise taxes were only a few cents per pack and revenue generation was their primary purpose.

uh, oh…

But as evidence accumulated about the health and economic consequences of tobacco use and as research demonstrated the effectiveness of higher taxes and prices in reducing tobacco use, governments have increasingly used these taxes to promote public health.

Inflation-adjusted state cigarette taxes more than tripled, on average, from 1982 to 2007, contributing to a more than 160 percent rise in average cigarette prices during this period.

In turn, these price increases have been credited with driving most of the recent declines in adult smoking prevalence.


The days of Big Gulps and Super-Size-Me are just about over.


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Powell et al. Food Prices and Obesity: Evidence and Policy Implications for Taxes and Subsidies. Milbank Quarterly, 2009; 87 (1): 229 DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0009.2009.00554.x

Fat Britannia


Back in the 90s, the U.K. was Cool Britannia.

No longer.

Today, I re-brand the U.K. as Fat Britannia.


And before any of you Brits start dropping F-Bombs and trying to head butt me through your computer, give me a chance to prove my point.

Fat Britannia: The Proof is in the Pudding…and chips and curries and…

According to the new EuroAspire survey,

  • Britons at high risk of heart attack are ‘in denial’ and ignoring doctors’ advice to change their lifestyle.
  • More than three-quarters are obese or overweight – with dangerously big stomachs – and most smokers have refused to give up.
  • More than half have out-of-control blood pressure and 40 per cent have high cholesterol levels.
  • Two out of three refuse to accept they are more at risk than other people their age – despite being given warnings by their GP and lots of prescription drugs.

This means they have a one in five chance of suffering a fatal heart attack unless they change their lifestyle.

But, they’re not changing their lifestyles.

  • Almost 80 per cent of those who were smokers at the time had not given up despite smoking being a major cause of heart disease.
  • Four out of five high risk patients were overweight or obese with dangerously large waists containing deposits of abdominal fat that raise the chances of diabetes and heart problems.
  • Two out of five patients said they did not exercise and had no plans to do so.
  • Around half had diabetes, including seven per cent whose condition was detected when they were taking part in the survey and having various tests.
  • 57 per cent of patients had raised blood pressure despite three-quarters of them being on anti-hypertensive drugs.
  • And last but not least, 40 per cent of patients had high blood cholesterol, even though the UK uses more statin drugs than any other European country except Italy.

And still, they continue to live in denial.

Two-thirds of those surveyed said they did not think their risk of heart disease was higher than a person in the general population of the same age and sex, including 16 per cent who thought it was lower.

Note: ALL of these people have been told by their doctors that they ARE at high risk of dying because of their lifestyles.

Professor David Wood, an expert in cardiovascular medicine at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College, London, said the survey raised concerns that many Britons were in denial about their heart health.

“This is high risk population, diagnosed by their GPs and started on treatment”.

“They should be managed much more rigorously and their lifestyle should be changing”.

Should be changing…but it isn’t.

And here’s where it gets interesting…for me at least.

Do the non-fat Brits have a moral/fiscal responsibility to help/coerce/force the fat Brits into changing their obesity-inducing lifestyles?

  • Do we have the moral obligation to look after others who can’t or won’t look after themselves?

When it comes to mental health issues, we have already accepted that obligation.

  • The Mental health Act of 1983 instructed British doctors to force feed anorexics over the age of 18.

It should be noted that, for force feeding to occur, the anorexic patient must be shown to be incapable of making rational decisions about their condition.

So, is it rational to live in a manner that causes:

And what about the cost of obesity to the rest of society?

  • Does the British taxpayer have to sit back and watch their taxes skyrocket as obesity drives up the cost of their nationalized health care spending?

Around the world, governments have taxed and legislated cigarette smokers almost to the point of extinction.


Why not obesity?

So, here’s my question to you?

What do we do to stop obesity?

  • Tax it to death?
  • Free gym memberships?
  • Legislate it to death?
  • Promote a healthy lifestyle?
  • Subsidize health food?
  • Free weight loss surgeries?
  • Nothing, it’s none of our damn business?


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A Better Way to Health and Weight Loss

In yesterday’s post, I talked about how our Western diet and lifestyle has caused an explosion of obesity, diabetes and various cardio-respiratory diseases.

I also talked about how the health experts of the last 50 years have continued to feed us the same advice even in the face of our growing obesity and chronic disease epidemic.

And after looking at all of that data, I wondered: why do we continue to listen to these experts with their food pyramids and low fat diets and aerobic exercise programs?

We must be insane.

Albert Einsten once said that the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

And that’s what we have been doing. The same advice year in and year out. Even as we get fatter and fatter…we listen to the same advice.

I ended yesterday’s post by saying that there had to be a better way. Here’s my idea.

A Better Way to Health and Weight Loss

In the past few years, web 2.0 technology has allowed large groups of people to collaborate and combine their talents to develop new technology, carry out a specific design task , or help capture, systematize or analyze large amounts of data.

This phenomena has a variety of names: crowdsourcing, open source, collective intelligence, wikinomics, social commerce and crowdcasting.

Examples of this activity include:

So, what does this have to do with losing weight and getting fit?

  • Imagine if you could harness the collective intelligence and experience of each and every dieter, obesity expert, personal trainer, weight loss guru, bariatric doctor, psychiatrist, behavioral therapist and obesity researcher.
  • And imagine if you could direct all of that intelligence and experience towards finding a better solution to our twin dilemmas of obesity and chronic disease.

Instead of an environment where snake oil salesmen and government approved health experts sell false hope to the fat and desperate, imagine an environment where all concerned parties can come together to find a solution.

I know, I know, it sounds a little socialist to me too. But, in fact, we are already seeing the first steps toward this concept.

Websites like SparkPeople have created massive communities of people interesting in getting fit, lean and healthy. And those communities are getting larger by the day.

If you look at the numbers, SparkPeople sees 2.1 million American viewers per month.


By comparison, my teeny tiny little blog sees almost 40,000 Global viewers per month.


Obviously, SparkPeople is doing something right. In fact, they’re doing lots right. But, they’re not perfect.

Earlier today, I entered an imaginary client into their system

The client was a 255lb. man who wanted to lose 40 lbs. He was also concerned about type two diabetes and hypertension.

This is what they recommended:

  • A diet high in starchy carbs & low in fat
  • A bodybuilding style resistance program
  • A moderate cardio-vascular program
  • Stretching at the end of the workout

Same old, same old. Repeating the same diet & fitness advice that hasn’t been working for decades.

Can someone please stop the insanity!!!

  • Where’s the HIIT training?
  • Where’s the Paleo or Mediterranean or Zone eating philosophies?
  • Where’s the mental/emotional strategies designed to keep people from breaking their diets or skipping their workouts?
  • Where’s the discussion of supplements?

I don’t think that the folks at SparkPeople have any idea of what their site could be.

Anyway, that’s my two cents.

Anyone out there have any suggestions? Any website gurus out there eager to build a kick ass health and fitness community/wiki?

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Fat AND Healthy?

Image: Threadless: The Last Piece
Image: Threadless: The Last Piece

Fat and Healthy? Well, sort of.

According to a new study, these sumo wrestlers have got a great reason to fight for that last piece of sushi.

Researchers have found that diets rich in Omega 3 fatty acids helped to protect their obese test subjects from the liver damage and insulin resistance that goes hand in hand with their bulging waistlines.

More specifically, it was two specific Omega 3s – protectins and resolvins—that provided the protective effects.

In the study, the researchers studied four groups of mice with an altered gene making them obese and diabetic.

  • Group One was given an Omega-3-enriched diet
  • Group Two was given a control diet.
  • Group Three was given docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
  • Group Four received only the lipid resolvin.

After five weeks, blood serum and liver samples from the test mice were examined.

The mice given the omega-3-rich diet exhibited:

And all of improvements were due to the formation of protectins and resolvins from omega-3 fatty acids.


If you are fat, you need to increase your consumption of Omega 3 fatty acids.

Man Eats Wild - Bear Grylls gets his Omega 3s
Man Eats Wild – Bear Grylls gets his Omega 3s


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National Heart Health Strategy


Canada may be on the verge of something revolutionary in the annals of Western Medicine.

Today, in Ottawa, Dr. Eldon R. Smith, chairman of the Canadian Heart Health Strategy and Action Plan steering committee, presented the federal government with a  new nationwide strategy aimed at combating heart disease and stroke.

The CHHS-AP plan would cost an estimated$700 million to implement over the next seven years.

However, by 2020, the plan could save Canada’s health care system over$22 billion in direct and indirect costs.

That’s over $30 of savings for every $1 invested in the plan.

And just how do they plan on saving all of those health care dollars?

According to Dr. Smith, “”We need to find ways to have people eat healthier foods, do more exercise, and we need to have less people smoking.”

“We think that with a combination of education, legislation, regulation, as we did for smoking in the past, and perhaps some incentives, that we’ll be able to create better environments for heart health in Canada.”

jaw-drop-genie-alladin<jaw drops to floor>


Promote a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent disease.

What a truly shocking and inspired idea!


The Plan

The plan makes six key recommendations to fight heart disease and stroke, including:

  1. Creating “heart-healthy” environments through education, legislation, regulation and policy.
  2. Helping Canadians lead healthier lives.
  3. Ending the cardiovascular disease crisis within Aboriginal communities.
  4. Continuing to reform health care with improved delivery of patient-centered services.
  5. Improving the surveillance and electronic medical records system to enhance prevention, care and research into vascular diseases.
  6. Developing the right number of health-care service providers with the right education and skills.

Okay, sounds good….a little vague, but good.

“The CHHS-AP will allow us to focus more on prevention, among other key areas, and tackle this health challenge head-on,” said Sally Brown, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, one of three lead organizations involved of the plan.

Still vague.

Seriously, we need some details.


According to the CHHS-AP, implementing this strategy will result in the following benefits:


  • By 2015, working with partners,
    • 20% more Canadians eating at least five servings of vegetables and fruit per day
    • 20% more physically-active Canadians
    • 20% fewer obese or overweight adults
    • fewer obese children (from 8% to 5%)
  • By 2020,
    • decrease annual rate of CV deaths by 25%
    • bring CV diseases burden among Aboriginal/indigenous populations in line with other Canadians
    • decrease prevalence of hypertension in adults by 32%
      • increase awareness by 64% among adults with hypertension
      • Increase by six-fold those hypertension treated to recommended targets
    • decrease (risk adjusted 30-day) hospital mortality rate
      • from heart attacks by 32%
      • from stroke by 25%
    • decrease hospitalizations for treatment of heart failure by 25
    • decrease hospitalizations for treatment of acute stroke by 25%
    • have 90% of Canadians aged 45+ with CV risk assessments
    • decrease (by working with partners) the smoking rate by 25%

The Economy

  • Significant savings in costs of CV diseases by 2020,
    • decrease $7.6 billion in direct costs  (2008 dollars)
    • decrease $14.6 billion in indirect costs (2008 dollars)

Canadians and our Country

  • Canadians will know their CV risk and how to reduce it to lead longer, healthier lives.
  • All regions of the country benefit from more sustainable health care systems.
  • Governments, the health care system, the private sector, communities and individuals work together, making a long-term commitment to change.
  • Patients will be partners in their own health and care.
  • Interprofessional health teams are well equipped to promote health, prevent CV disease, and provide timely, comprehensive, patient-centred care.
  • Canada is internationally recognized as a productive, economically competitive and heart healthy nation.

DETAILS!!!…for the love of god, less rhetoric and more details.

Seriously, two years and $2.5 million to come up with this?


So, where do we go from here?

According to the experts:

What needs to happen?

Work with federal Health Minister Aglukkaq to maintain momentum to:

  • Initiate the processes for change.
  • Develop effective partnerships, within and outside the health sector, to engage citizens, care providers, their professional organizations, non-governmental organizations, industry and the media to enable Canadians to become international leaders in heart health.


Please, somebody give me some details.


Oh, forget it. I ‘ll do it myself.

Here are some of my suggestions for how to spend the $700 million:

  • Tax refunds for participating regularly in exercise programs
  • Tax credits to private health clubs for administrating these exercise programs
  • Tax credits for private individuals organizing fitness clubs
  • Eliminate inequalities in federal food subsidy programs – quit subsidizing grains and soy at the expense of fruits and vegetables
  • Promote local and organic farming practices
  • Promote exercise and fitness – advertising, contests, athletes, amateur competitions
  • Tax credits to grocery chains to supply local and organic foods
  • Also, let’s stop listening to the same “experts” who have been telling us to follow those stupid healthy food pyramids all these years. Let’s talk to the fitness experts in the “real world” who get “real” changes out of their “real” clients in order to pay their “real” bills and keep “real” food on their “real” tables.
  • We should also structure the funding of these programs to encourage results. There will be lots and lots of experts lining up to collect their share of the $700 million. How many of them are willing to guarantee their work? How about we structure the contracts with a balloon payment to be paid at the end of the contract. The amount of that payment could be directly tied to the results that their program achieves.


Any other bright ideas?

And not just my Canadian readers.

Us Canucks are not the only overweight, diabetic, just waiting to have a heart attack, couch potatoes out there.


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The Edmonton Obesity Staging System


Dr. Arya Sharma, an obesity expert from the University of Alberta, has developed a new classification system to help doctors assess and treat obese patients.

If proven successful, this system would be used in tandem with the BMI measurement to help identify the health differences between people with similar BMIs

image from
image from

Dr. Sharma feels that “BMI does not always allow us to make rational clinical decisions regarding obesity management, because measures of weight (such as BMI) do not reflect severity of obesity in a given individual”.

Not only would doctors rank people with Class 1, 2 or 3 BMIs — where Class 3 is the heaviest, but not necessarily the worst — they would also use five new stage rankings.

  • Stage 0 would be someone with no health problems.
  • Stage 1 would be someone with risk factors, such as snoring or borderline hypertension.
  • Stage 2 and 3 would be someone whose condition is worsening, causing a heart attack, liver cirrhosis, sleep apnea or need for hip and knee replacement.
  • Stage 4 patients have so many problems they have to be treated extremely aggressively or need palliative care because losing the weight would be so difficult.

Using the two systems together would mean someone could have a Class 3 BMI, but only be at Stage 0.

Doctors would encourage that person to lose weight, but not suggest stomach surgery or prescription drugs since that person is otherwise healthy. Medical advice would become much more urgent for someone at Class 3, Stage 3, where bariatric surgery may be necessary.

“We think that if you have a staging system, that staging system will not differentiate how big people are, but about how sick people are,” said Sharma. “It helps (patients) in terms of recognizing how obesity is affecting their health.”

Currently, the EOSS is being studied at Alberta Health Services’ adult Weight Wise clinic in Edmonton, Alberta for both its accuracy and usefulness to doctors.

I have requested some more information from Dr. Sharma and I am hoping to have him answer a few of the questions that I have about EOSS…like why he feels that the majority of health care dollars should be spent on people in Stage 2 or 3.

What’s wrong with preventing the obesity in the first place?


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Childhood Obesity: What Can Parents Do?

Cathy Wilcox
artist: Cathy Wilcox

Our kids are fatter than ever.

  • babies are being diagnosed as clinically obese
  • adolescents are being diagnosed with “adult onset” type 2 diabetes
  • children are being admitted to hospitals with hip and back deformities brought on by excess weight
  • young girls are developing menstrual difficulties attributed to obesity
  • kids are being fitted with CPAP units in an attempt to treat  sleep apnea brought on by excess fat around their throats.


And researchers at UCLA may have determined the root cause of the problem:

Parents who eat junk food are more likely to raise children who eat junk food.

And, surprisingly:

kids who eat junk food are more likely to be obesejust like their parents.


Not exactly rocket science, is it?

So, what are we going to do about it?


Stay tuned, in tomorrow’s post, I will outline some of the possible solutions to this problem.


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Are “Fat Kids” victims of child abuse?

Fernando Botero - A Family
Fernando Botero - A Family

Attention all parents of obese children, this is your wake-up call.

In the very near future, the government will:

  • Hold you responsible for your child’s obesity
  • Classify childhood obesity as a form of parental neglect
  • Require doctors to notify child protection services when they see a case of extreme childhood obesity
  • Legislate mandatory weight loss programs for obese children, and
  • Remove children from the custody of parents who repeatedly fail to address their child’s dietary problems.

And for those of you who think that this would never happen:

It already has.

In February of 2007, a judge in New York state took a child away from her parents due to her their refusal to address her obesity. She was placed into foster care.

A similar case occurred in Iowa in 1992.

Courts in several other states (California, Iowa, Indiana, New Mexico and Texas) have also recognized morbid obesity as an actionable issue.

And in today’s news…

Australia’s child obesity specialist, Dr. Shirley Alexander, said that “in extreme cases parents should lose custody if they repeatedly fail to address their dietary problems“. pdf

“Passive acquiescence by a doctor in the neglect of a severely obese child … could constitute a breach of a doctor’s duty of care,” Dr Alexander and three colleagues wrote in an article in Medical Journal of Australia.

Dr. Alexander went on to say:

Eric Cartman
Model: Eric Cartman

“In a sufficiently extreme case, notification to child protection services may be an appropriate professional response.

“Obesity has a significant adverse effect on a child’s well being, (with) both immediate and long-term medical and psycho-social health problems.”

And it gets even juicier:

Melbourne child psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg said child protection authorities should be notified because leaving children to become obese was, in his view, “a form of child abuse. pdf

“Given the sociological and psychological consequences of that form of obesity, I don’t actually have a problem with that (taking children from parents) because in some instances we are condemning some children to a life of health problems . . . basically an early death.”

Mr Carr-Gregg said taking children from their parents should only be done in extreme cases.

“We are talking here about what psychologists and medical people call morbid obesity. This is the threshold where this sort of thing should kick in, that’s not unreasonable,” he said.

Surprisingly,  Children’s Welfare Agency chief Andrew McCallum disagrees. He says removing obese children from their parents is a ridiculous idea.

“We don’t need more reasons to bring more children into care in New South Wales or in Australia for that matter,” Mr McCallum said.

What we do need is:

  • A government that sees the benefits of preventing disease and promoting health
  • A government willing to spend money on physical fitness programs – not just education…actual physical activity
  • A government willing to put the nation’s health ahead of the wants of the major agricultural lobby groups – corn, wheat, etc…
  • A government willing to fund new research into obesity instead of throwing additional money at the geniuses behind the Food Pyramid
  • A government able to see that mental health and physical health influence each other…for the good and for the bad
  • A government with the guts to step up and say that over the past 30 years, our collective Western lifestyle has turned us into a bunch of fat, lazy, diabetic, anti-depressant popping, fiscally bankrupt drug addicts (pharmaceuticals and recreational).

Or, we can just sit back, eat another Big Mac and let the state raise our kids.



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The Most Amazing Weight Loss Story

This story is for all of those people out there who have already given up on their New Year’s Resolution to finally lose that extra 20 lbs.

Maybe you gave up on the diet because there just wasn’t enough time in the day to prepare healthy meals to take to work.

Or maybe, you had to take the kids to hockey practice and had no choice but to stop at Timmy’s and grab a double double and some Timbits.

Or maybe, you just needed a motivational kick in the pants to keep you on the straight and narrow.

Consider this story your kick in the pants.

Your New Weight Loss Hero: David Smith

In only 26 months, David Smith managed to streamline his body from a gargantuan 630 lbs to a trim and fit 229 lbs.

And it wasn’t easy.

Losing 401 lbs. of body-fat is a very complicated experience. David didn’t get to 630 lbs. without picking up a whole bunch of emotional baggage along the way.

His transformation involved a lot more than burning off body-fat.

In his own words:

‘I had been overweight all my life.

‘I would have sticks and stones and dog mess thrown at me and I would be spat on.
I’ve had a broken arm and black eyes because people didn’t like me because of my weight.

‘It got so bad that I didn’t want to leave the house and I didn’t even feel comfortable in my own backyard until it was dark out.

‘I felt like I deserved as much pain as possible and I wanted to kill myself.

But one day, he took the first step and reached out for help.

He sent an e-mail to Chris Powell, fitness correspondent for Good Morning Arizona, a local news broadcast on KTVK, in Phoenix.

Powell paid Smith a visit. “We were both probably thinking: what are we getting ourselves into right here? There would be no way I’d have anything in common with this guy,” Smith said.

Powell, a former Cosmo magazine bachelor, was socially confident. But now he was trying to get through to this painfully shy man.

“I didn’t know what 600 pounds looked like,” Powell said. “He couldn’t really look me in the eye. He was just so broken. He really didn’t know what to say or what to do.”

Despite their initial awkward meeting, they made a deal.

Smith committed to losing the pounds and Powell agreed to stick with him as long as Smith didn’t give up. And 26 months later, David Smith was 401 pounds lighter.

‘The first few months were really hard, Chris would be telling me that I was doing really well and I was losing weight – but when I looked in the mirror I saw someone weighing more.

‘To begin with the training was really tough, at my heaviest I struggled to walk five feet without becoming out of breath.

‘Slowly, though, I got better and managed to do more and more and the flab was literally falling off me.


  • David Smith lost 401 pounds.
  • I am sure that he had lots of excuses not to eat right or exercise.
  • And yet, he lost 401 pounds.

So, put down that bag of chips and get to sweating.


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Fibromyalgia Pain Relief

Exercise for Fibromyalgia Pain Relief

A few years ago, I had the pleasure to work with a very nice lady who was trying desperately to reduce the painful effects of fibromyalgia. She had been suffering for years as a result of this painful and debilitating condition.

Like most chronic pain conditions, the worst thing may not even be the pain itself. It is the effect that the pain has on the rest of your life. In my client’s case, she had spent the first year of her daughter’s life in bed. Every day, for a year, unable to care for her baby girl.

When I met her, she was in much better shape. Her daughter was no longer a baby. She participated in her daughter’s life. She had a challenging career. She was happy. But she was still in constant pain.

She came to me after having quite a few bad experiences with different forms of physical and exercise therapy. At the time, I was working at a fitness club just north of Toronto. She was initially assigned to work with a young, female trainer. It didn’t go well. The young trainer had a solid knowledge of how to help people get lean, fit & healthy. Unfortunately, she knew little about fibromyalgia. During their first workout, she treated her client like a normal, PAIN FREE person. Bad move.

A week later, our fibromyalgia lady returned and demanded her money back. She had spent days in bed, popping pills and regretting ever coming into our gym. I don’t know how, but the owner of the club managed to calm her down and have her agree to sit down and talk with me.

At our first meeting, I had only a general knowledge of fibromyalgia and had never worked with a Fibro client.  I did, however, know how to talk, or rather listen to justifiably angry women. Yes, I am married. We discussed her condition. I gave her my opinion and told her that I would spend the next few days researching the subject in more depth and come back to her with a plan.

A few days later, we met and talked again. At that second meeting, we discussed my findings, clarified a few more issues and outlined what my plan for her fitness training would include. After about half an hour of chit-chat, we began our workout. It was very slow at the beginning. Very slow. In fact, it took us almost 3 months before I started to notice a ‘real’ change in her body.

After a further 3 months, she had training harder than some of my non-Fibro clients. More importantly, her day to day life improved drastically. Less pain. Stronger. Fitter. Healthier.

NOTE – For those of you out there who know someone like my former client, please show them the following research paper, along with my story and do what you have to do to get them moving. They will thank you for it. Not right away…right away they’re gonna hate you, but eventually, as they get better, they will thank you.

Group Exercise, Education, and Combination Self-management in Women With Fibromyalgia A Randomized Trial Daniel S. Rooks, ScD; Shiva Gautam, PhD; Matthew Romeling, BS; Martha L. Cross, BS; Diana Stratigakis, BA; Brittany Evans, BS; Don L. Goldenberg, MD; Maura D. Iversen, DPT, SD, MPH; Jeffrey N. Katz, MD, MS Arch Intern Med. 2007;167(20):2192-2200.

 Background Self-management has increasingly been recommended as part of standard care for fibromyalgia, a common, poorly understood condition with limited treatment options. Data that assess popular self-management recommendations are scarce. We evaluated and compared the effectiveness of 4 common self-management treatments on function, symptoms, and self-efficacy in women with fibromyalgia.

Methods A total of 207 women with confirmed fibromyalgia were recruited from September 16, 2002, through November 30,2004, and randomly assigned to 16 weeks of (1) aerobic and flexibility exercise (AE); (2) strength training, aerobic, and flexibility exercise (ST); (3) the Fibromyalgia Self-Help Course (FSHC);or (4) a combination of ST and FSHC (ST-FSHC). The primary outcomewas change in physical function from baseline to completion of the intervention. Secondary outcomes included social and emotional function, symptoms, and self-efficacy.

Results Improvements in the mean Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire score in the 4 groups were –12.7 for the ST-FSHC group,–8.2 for the AE group, –6.6 for the ST group, and–0.3 for the FSHC group. The ST-FSHC group demonstrated greater improvement than the FSHC group (mean difference, –12.4;95% confidence interval [CI], –23.1 to –1.7). TheST-FSHC (mean difference, 13.6; 95% CI, 2.3 to 24.9) and AE(mean difference, 13.1; 95% CI, 1.6 to 25.6) groups had similar improvements in physical function scores on the 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey. Bodily pain scores on the 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey improved in the ST-FSHC (14.8), AE (13.2), andST (5.7) groups. Social function, mental health, fatigue, depression,and self-efficacy also improved. The beneficial effect on physical function of exercise alone and in combination with education persisted at 6 months.

Conclusions Progressive walking, simple strength training movements, and stretching activities improve functional status,key symptoms, and self-efficacy in women with fibromyalgia actively being treated with medication. The benefits of exercise are enhanced when combined with targeted self-management education.Our findings suggest that appropriate exercise and patient education be included in the treatment of fibromyalgia.


  • Exercise is effective for fibromyalgia pain relief
  • Starting an exercise program WILL be painful for a Fibro client
  • Fibro clients should NOT be trained like every other client
  • Fibro clients need to be willing to push themselves
  • Fibro clients need to help their trainers understand how their body is responding to the workouts
  • Trainers need to be very, very sensitive to how their clients are responding
  • Fibro clients should expect this that fitness training might be very difficult at the beginning of their journey


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Everything You Need to Know About Muscular Power Training

In my post, How to Get Strong – The Science of Strength, I introduced you to some of the theory behind the different types of muscular strength.

Today’s post is all about developing insane amounts of muscular power…which is important if you play soccer, football, baseball, tennis, hockey or any other activity that doesn’t involve sitting on your butt or covering long distances over the course f an afternoon.

To get you started, I will also give you a ‘tried and true’ program designed to turn you into the strongest, fastest, most powerful version of yourself that you could ever imagine.

I can’t guarantee to turn you into the Incredible Hulk.

Power Training

But I can sure as heck guarantee that you will be bigger and stronger than the ‘before’ picture.

What is Power?

Simply put, power is the ability to move heavy loads, fast.

To do that, we need to do two things.

  1. Build your maximum strength as high as possible and,
  2. Teach your muscles to contract as fast as possible.


Before We Begin

This program is designed for trainees who:

  • Make regular visits to their doctor and have been cleared for resistance training. That means you have no medical conditions that could be aggravated by moving large weights very quickly. Serious.
  • Have established a basic level of physical fitness. This is not a beginner program. I will be writing an article on establishing a basic level of physical fitness in the near future.
  • Do not have serious muscular imbalances. While this program is designed not to cause muscle imbalances; it is not a rehab program. I will also be writing an article on that topic in the near future.
  • Are serious about transforming their body. Don’t waste your time if you are not willing to commit yourself fully to this program.

Power = Maximum Strength + Maximum Speed

To develop Power, you need to combine maximum strength with maximum speed.

In a linear periodization model of resistance training, strength and speed training are never performed concurrently. However, my review of the current literature as well as my first hand experience has led me to believe that training both strength and speed at the same time is not just possible; but essential.

With this method, we avoid the de-training effect of switching from one program emphasis to another.

In the linear model, hard fought strength gains begin to dissipate soon after strength training is abandoned for speed training. The same holds true for losses in speed. You are always playing a game of two steps forward and one step back. Another benefit of concurrent strength/speed training is that since gains in strength/speed are happening incrementally and simultaneously, your increasing speed is not effected by your increasing strength, and vice-versa.

In a linear program, you might focus of 4-8 weeks on your maximum strength. During that time, you might increase your max strength by 10% (X + 10%). Due to lack of stimulation, your speed my drop by 3% (Y-3%). After completing the strength portion of your program, you shift your focus to speed training.

However, not only are your muscles slower, but you are asking them to lift weights 10% heavier than they have lifted. Now you are two steps forward and two to three steps back.

Train both strength and speed together and they both increase together. Your strength may only increase by 8%, but your speed will also increase by 8%.

Strength + Speed = Power

Maximum Strength Training

In my program, maximum strength is trained twice per week.

  • During each workout, you will focus on 1 major movement. That movement will be performed in consecutive sets of 3 repetitions until you can no longer perform 3 repetitions. You will continue adding weight to consecutive sets until you reach your 1 Rep Maximum.
  • After your major movement is completed, you will perform a series of complementary exercises in sets consisting of 5 to 10 repetitions.
  • Each of the two maximum strength workouts will focus on a different movement.

As well, since this workout is very intense, you WILL perform a thorough warm-up before hitting the serious weights. Not just cardio. Calisthenics, dynamic stretching, overhead squats, snatches, or light weight training is required.

Maximum Speed Training

Like maximum strength training, maximum speed is trained twice per week.

  • Like max strength day, you will focus on 1 major movement. While it doesn’t have to be the exact same movement as max strength day, it must be in the same family of movements.
  • Like max strength day, you will be performing sets of 3 reps. However, the number of sets will be predetermined and the weight will be between 50 and 60% of your 1 Rep Maximum on that lift.
  • For simplicity’s sake, you may want to keep your movements consistent between max strength and max speed day.
  • Like max strength day, you will be performing a series of complementary exercises after finishing the main movement.

Off Days

Off days should focus on rest and repair of your body. This program will test both your musculature and your nervous system. Stretching, chiropractic, massage, light cardio, restorative yoga, hydrotherapy, etc. is recommended.

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