Does Sore Muscles Mean Muscle Growth?

Does Sore Muscles Mean Muscle Growth?

Does sore muscles mean muscle growth?

If you’ve lifted weights before, you’ve felt sore muscles before.

You woke up the next morning after your workout feeling like you got hit by a Greyhound bus that exclusively serves passengers who are world class heavyweight boxing champions.

You’ve thought to yourself, “Was my workout that hard, or do I just have the flu?”

You’ve also thought to yourself, “This soreness must mean my muscles are growing so much.”

In this article, we’ll uncover the truth about muscle soreness.

You’ll learn why muscles get sore, whether they need to be sore for a good workout, and how you can be sure that your muscles are growing.

 

Why Do Muscles Get Sore?

One of the reasons muscles get sore, is through strength training, you are causing microscopic tears to your muscle fibers.

The microscopic tears cause an inflammatory response, which is a response needed to heal those tears.

These tears are in part, what causes muscle growth.  Along with other factors such as progressive overload, mechanical tension, etc.

But microscopic tears aren’t the only thing that cause muscle soreness.

Some of the pain also comes from the connective tissue that holds muscles together, not the actual muscles.

Why muscles get sore is multifactorial.  While the above are the main drivers of muscle soreness, it can also be caused by training specificity, training experience, nutrition, genetics,  recovery, sleep, stress, and many other factors.

Some people get more sore than others.  Sometimes you will be sore, sometimes you won’t.

It’s all highly individual and variable.

 

 

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

Delayed onset muscle soreness is pretty self explanatory when you break down the term.

24-72 hours after you workout, the muscles you worked feel sore.

DOMS is experienced worst by those who are new to weight training.

This is your body’s alarm reaction to introducing a new stimulus.

Every single person who’s ever picked up a weight and done their first leg day, has experienced feeling like you’ve been bitten on the thigh by a diamondback rattlesnake.

Luckily, the more you do it, the easier it gets.  And the less DOMs you experience over time.

The extreme soreness you feel as a beginner to strength training is your body’s way of saying “Why the hell are you doing this to me?”

Once your body starts to understand this as the new norm, it stops having a temper tantrum.

That doesn’t mean you magically won’t get DOMS ever again.  But the effects will be less severe.

 

Does Sore Muscles Mean Muscle Growth?

I have an online client, whom when we first started working together, would always tell me about how sore her first trainer used to make her.

“These workouts were so great, I could barely even walk up the stairs after them.  I felt soooo good after.”

So I asked her, “So did you get good results?”

“Yeah!  You have no idea how sore I felt, it was incredible.”

It took her a while to realize that I wasn’t asking how sore she was, I was asking about her overall results.

I took a more direct approach. “When you’re time with her was done, what kind of changes did you notice?  Did you feel stronger?  Leaner?  Did you build more muscle?”

She thought long and hard about it, but realized the answer was ultimately, no.

Because muscle soreness is not directly one of the factors for muscle growth.

So let’s talk about what does matter for muscle growth.

 

1. Progressive Overload

Progressive Overload is a fancy way of saying over time, you are increasing the demands on your muscles.  Whether that is through increasing how much weight you lift, how many reps you do, improving form, etc.

muscle soreness muscle growth

For example, if you are able to do a bicep curl for 10 reps with a 15lb dumbbell, and then you can do it for 12 reps, that’s progressive overload.  From there, you are able to do a 20lb dumbbell for 10 reps, that’s progressive overload.  The more you are able to apply this principle over time, the more you will see muscle growth.

 

2. Mechanical Tension

Mechanical tension is the forces that act on your muscles.  This can be through gravity, or through a load like with a dumbbell, barbell, kettlebell, etc.

Mechanical tension occurs through the eccentric, concentric, or isometric phase of a muscle contraction.

muscle soreness growth

3. Muscle Damage

We’ve already touched on how causing microscopic tears in a muscle allows it to have an inflammatory response, and then grow.

muscle growth soreness

Like I’ve said earlier, this contributes to muscle soreness.

But I’ve also said that you won’t always be sore after workouts.

So if you are causing muscle damage, but not feeling sore, you are achieving muscle growth over time.

 

So while muscle soreness can be associated with muscle growth, as a result of the 3 topics listed above, it is not a requirement for muscle growth.

If you’re not applying these three principles, you’re not achieving muscle growth.

 

Final Thoughts: Does Sore Muscles Mean Muscle Growth?

As long as you are applying the principles of progressive overload, mechanical tension, and muscle damage, your muscles will grow.

That may or may not mean that they will get sore as a result.

Sometimes, they will, sometimes they won’t.

But chasing the feeling of soreness is not a valid metric to indicate whether you are inducing muscle growth.

If you have any questions, drop them in the comments below.

 

Much love,

Nick

 

 

How To Lose Weight And Eat Whatever You Want

How To Lose Weight And Eat Whatever You Want

You’ve probably been told that if you want to lose weight, you have to eat a certain way.  But what if I told you that you could lose weight and eat whatever you want?

Have you ever tried a diet where the number one rule was to cut carbs?

And then you find yourself having wet dreams about a loaf of thinly sliced Italian bread?

Have you ever tried a low-fat diet?  And you go all week without eating cheese.

And then you find yourself in trance, wandering to the refrigerator, shoveling shredded cheese directly into your mouth, like a cheese goblin that just escaped from captivity, and wandered into a store that exclusively sells shredded cheese.

I get it, because I’ve lived it.

For the vast majority of people, elimination diets don’t work.

Because the moment that you tell yourself you can’t have something, it’s the only thing you want.

And then you tell yourself “No, I’m an adult.  I can have whatever I want.”  And since you’ve been restricting yourself of that one sweet thing you really want, it turns into an all out binge fest, because you then tell yourself this is the “last time” you’ll ever have it.

Pro Tip:  It won’t be the last time.

 

How To Lose Weight And Eat Whatever You Want

What Is Flexible Dieting?

Flexible dieting is a simple weight loss plan that allows foods that fit within your calorie budget.

If it fits your calories, you can eat it.

If it doesn’t… well, technically you can.  But it’s not going to be conducive to your weight loss goals.

So that means, if you really want a slice of pizza, and it fits your calories, you can eat pizza and lose weight.

 

 

So I Can Eat Whatever I Want?

Yes!  But that doesn’t mean you can eat however much of whatever you want.

Because you still have to stay within your calorie limit.

Fat loss works by being in a calorie deficit.

Which is when you give your body fewer calories than it uses.

And while this is the founding principle for weight loss, it doesn’t mean you should eat a diet consisting of solely Blueberry Pop-Tarts with butter smeared on the back.

Though believe it or not, this actually does work for weight loss.

The Twinkie Diet

For 10 weeks, Dr. Mark Haub, a nutrition professor at Kansas State University did something that become dubbed as “The Twinkie Diet”.

His diet consisted of mainly convenience store items.  Twinkies, snack cakes, Doritos.  He also included a multi-vitamin, and a protein shake.  So he wouldn’t… you know… die.

But the key, is that he limited himself to 1,800 calories.  Which for a man of his size, puts him in a calorie deficit.

And at the end of experiment, Dr. Haub dropped 27 pounds.

So with that being said, should you try the Twinkie Diet?

I want to be very clear here.

I do not think you should try the Twinkie Diet, and I do not recommend for this for any of my online coaching clients, nor anyone reading this article.

While it did work for Dr. Haub, this is a study with a sample size of one.

But it does illustrate the point, that you can eat whatever you want and lose weight.

 

How To Lose Weight And Eat Whatever You Want

Does Calorie Counting Work?

Calorie counting can be a great tool to know how much you’re actually eating.

And when you’re tracking accurately, it can be a great tool for fat loss, to make sure you have achieved a calorie deficit.

 

This is my online coaching client, and good friend Kate

Lose Weight Eat Whatever

The great thing about Kate is, that she will do just about anything I tell her to (except for lunges).

And after tracking her calories over the course of a year, she lost 42 pounds.

And she didn’t have to give up any of her favorite foods.

 

My online coaching client Heidi, who lost 45 pounds working with me.

Lose Weight Eat Whatever

And while she did fight me every step of the way, through counting her calories, she was able to lose the weight she wanted.

And she was able to do it while eating pizza, completely guilt free.

 

So yes, calorie counting does work.

 

But for some, calorie counting can lead down a dark hole of obsessing about every gram of spinach, and if you go one calorie over your target, it triggers a complete breakdown.

The key is knowing which type you are.

So if you are the type of person that feels anxious by the idea of tracking their food intake, as to what it might do to your relationship with food, then this option might not be for you.  And that’s okay.

 

 

Good Calories Vs. Bad Calories?

Everyone knows that given the choice between blueberries, and brownies.  Blueberries is the more nutritious option.

The blueberries has a much healthier nutrient profile.  It’ll fill you for fewer calories, it has more vitamins, minerals, nutrients.

But if you have 100 calories of brownies, or 100 calories of blueberries.  It’s still 100 calories.

Calories are a unit of measurement for energy.

Just like a mile is a unit of measurement for distance.

If you run one mile, whether it’s on a flat road, through waist deep water, or at a 20 degree incline, it’s still a mile.

It may be harder for you to get through that mile based on the conditions, but it is still a mile.

 

It’s the same thing with a calorie.

The nutrients may change across different foods.

Which, depending on how many nutrients you get across your foods, may make hitting a calorie target more or less difficult, and energy levels may change based on the nutrient profiles you receive from food.

A calorie is still a calorie, whether it comes from blueberries or brownies.

And when it comes to fat loss.  Calories are what dictates whether or not you lose fat.

Not how many nutrients you get, not how many vitamins, minerals, or gallons of kale you force feed yourself.

It’s the relationship of how many calories you eat, versus how many calories you expend.

But, that doesn’t mean calories are the only thing that matters for your consistency.

 

Emphasize Nutritious Foods

For this whole flexible dieting thing to work, calories is number one.

Aside from that, is a heavy emphasis on food that will help you Feel Full In A Calorie Deficit.

Making sure that roughly 80% of your diet comes from things like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and protein, is going to go very far for you to be able to stick to being in a calorie deficit.

Because while going to McDonald’s is awesome, it doesn’t fill you up.

Think how much you’d have to eat at McDonald’s before you felt full.

I could easily eat two Big Macs, and 1,100 calories later, still reach for the fries.

Not because of gluttony, but because a Big Mac is not rich in nutrients, and is not a satiating food that fills you.

 

If I were to eat a salad, however.  Filled with lettuce, cucumbers, chicken, and other vegetables, it would make me feel a lot more full, for a lot less calories.

This is why, it’s so important to build a diet based mainly of nutrient dense foods.

A nutrient dense food is high in nutrients, and low in calories.

 

Satiety Vs. Satisfaction: The Balance of Nutritious Vs. Delicious Foods

Feeling full is important for being in a calorie deficit.  But what about foods that don’t make you feel full?

This article is titled How To Lose Weight And Eat Whatever You Want right?

Well, we as humans don’t always want chicken, rice, and broccoli.

We want to have ice cream, and tacos, and pizza.

Because these foods are satisfying to the palate.

While you might feel physically amazing eating broccoli, it can leave you wanting a little something extra.

So while it’s of the utmost importance to prioritize nutritious foods, I also believe it’s important to include some foods that you enjoy from time to time.

Because if you are eating nothing but nutrient dense foods all the time, you’re restricting yourself from all the things that you actually enjoy.

And what you restrict, is what you ultimately binge.

The key is, to include these foods as part of your calorie deficit.

If you are allowing room for delicious foods, and staying in a calorie deficit, you will lose weight.

 

 

How Many Calories To Eat To Lose Weight And Eat Whatever You Want?

In order to make losing weight stick for good, it’s crucial to make sure you’re eating less calories than you body burns.

But, it’s also crucial that you eat enough calories.

Because eating too few, even though you are in a calorie deficit, can have some serious negative effects.

If you’re calories are too low, you are not providing your body with enough energy to support its daily functions.

Which will leave you feeling exhausted, unenergetic, and so cranky your head might burst into flames.

It will also make it nearly impossible for you to stick to.  And you won’t have the flexibility to fit whatever you want into your day.

So you have to balance eating few enough calories that you are in a calorie deficit, but also enough calories so that you can stick to it long term.

In order to find that sustainable range, you can use my Free Fat Loss Calorie Calculator.

This way you can lose weight sustainably, and not rip your boss’s head off when you get an e-mail from them.

 

How To Lose Weight And Eat Whatever You Want: Final Thoughts

So yes, it is absolutely possible to lose weight and eat whatever you want.

But the key is to above all, be in a calorie deficit.

Include plenty of highly nutritious foods, and save some room for the delicious foods when you want them.

 

I hope this has helped you, and if you have any questions, leave them in the comments below.

 

Much love,

Nick

 

Fitness Products To Not Waste Money On

Fitness Products To Not Waste Money On

If you look on social media, magazines at the grocery store checkout, or ask your creepy uncle Frank, they all have some fitness products they swear by.

Some products for fitness are great, but the vast majority are not backed by any science, or weak scientific evidence at best.

Today, I’m going to tell you which products to not waste your money on.

And as a bonus, I’ll give you some recommendations as to what may be worth your money, depending on your individual situation.

Let’s get into it.

Fitness Products To Not Waste Money On

Fat Burning Supplements

Fat burners have a very misleading name.  The name implies that they burn fat.  But they don’t, because the only way to get rid of body fat is by being in a calorie deficit.

Anyone who has claimed to lose body fat whilst taking a fat burning supplement also was in a calorie deficit.

Think about it, do you logically think it’s possible to take a fat burning supplement, eat like garbage, and lose fat because you’re taking a pill or a powder?

That’s not how it works.

fitness products waste money

Well, good news to the supplement industry, because most fat burning supplements don’t actually claim to melt the fat from your body (though some do make this bold, and inaccurate claim).

The supplements work in other ways to aid in your fat loss.

For example, one thing they do is elevate your blood pressure to attempt to increase how many calories you burn throughout the day.

To me, increasing your blood pressure, which is a firm marker of health, just to burn more calories seems like a pretty stupid idea.  Not to mention the overall amount of calorie burn is miniscule.

When really, you could just go outside and take a walk and burn probably the same amount of calories that you would from the elevated blood pressure, and improve your health markers while doing it.  Not to mention, walking is free.

Fat burning supplements also claim to curb your appetite.  Now, if you’re really struggling with appetite, this can be helpful in the short term.

But it doesn’t teach you anything to keep body fat off in the long term, because now you are relying on a pill to keep your appetite down.

Which is kind of like walking on crutches forever and never learning to walk on your own two feet.

If you really want to keep hunger down, you can use some easier, and more cost effective tricks to Keep Yourself Full In A Calorie Deficit.

Again, the tricks in the article linked above are going to help you improve your health markers, instead of relying on a pill.

 

Fitness Products To Not Waste Money On

Waist Trainers

Waist trainers are believed by some to aid in weight loss.

But as we learned above, the only thing that leads to weight loss is being in a calorie deficit.

And as far as I can tell, putting a piece of cloth around your waist doesn’t change how many calories your taking in or burning.

It does provide you a “slimmer” look… while you are wearing it.

Similar to the archaic idea of the corset which was popular in the 1800s.

The idea is to literally compress your body so tight that you can barely breathe.

fitness products waste money

Compressing yourself to skinniness is not the way to go about it.

Again, there are no long term benefits, and as soon as you remove the waist trainer, literally nothing has changed.

 

There are also some health risks associated with waist trainers

It’s very well agreed upon among the actual experts of the fitness industry that waist trainers actually weaken your core/abdominals over time.

Since they are so tightly cinched to your body, it makes it almost impossible for you to use your core muscles while wearing it.  Over time, this has some diminishing effects to your core strength.

 

Fitness Products To Not Waste Money On

Greens Supplements

Greens supplements and promoted by social media fitness influencers as a way to get vitamins, minerals, and all those good micronutrients in.  And there’s one thing they are right about.  Those are very important

But you know what else is a great way to get micronutrients in?  Eating an actual, real life vegetable.

Now for the crowd out there who says “well Nick, I don’t like eating vegetables, they don’t taste good.”

I get it.  But have you ever tried a greens supplement?  Because they taste like liquified Purina Dog Chow.

I guarantee you that eating some broccoli or a carrot once in a while is better than plugging your nose and trying to force this bile-like substance down your gullet.

fitness products waste money

Just eat some vegetables instead, it’s going to be more cost effective.  And bonus, if you’re in a calorie deficit, vegetables are going to help you feel full, because you can fit a lot of vegetables in your stomach for a very low calorie amount.

 

 

Fitness Products To Not Waste Money On

MLM Products

Beachbody, Optavia, Plexus, Arbonne, Herbalife, ItWorks, these are all examples of “health and wellness” multilevel marketing companies who’s job it is to sell you their product, then recruit you to start selling their product as well.

In my opinion, these products are very overpriced, and you can purchase similar products from non-multilevel marketing companies for a fraction of the cost.

Plus, you don’t have to worry about someone trying to recruit you to sell the product as well.

Because according to the FTC, 99.6% actually lose money in mutli-level marketing after expenses.

For more information about Anti-MLM, you can check out the podcasts From Huns to Humans, or Life After MLM.

 

Bonus: Fitness Products That Are Actually Worth The Money

Gym Memberships

Having a place to exercise is crucial if you want to get fit and be healthy.  Gym memberships are fairly inexpensive, depending on what gym you go to.

Make sure to tour the facility before you sign up, and ensure it has everything you need.  Some gyms will even off a day pass for you to workout there before you sign up to see if you like it.

 

Gym Equipment

If you’re the type of person that likes to work out from home, then investing in some equipment for a home gym can be a great option.

This gives you the convenience of never having to leave your house to workout, which can sometimes be a barrier.

Some starter product recommandations:

Adjustable Dumbbells, Resistance Bands, Foam Roller

As you get a little more advanced you can consider:

A barbell set with bumper plates, a squat rack.

 

Some Supplements

I want to first point out that there is no such thing as a necessary supplement.  The bulk of your progress is going to be made up of the consistent daily actions that you make to move your “fitness needle” in the right direction.

Meaning things like what you’re eating, whether or not you’re exercising, drinking enough water, sleeping well, etc.

These are the determining factors in your health and fitness, not whether or not you take a supplement.

That being said, some supplements can make a small impact which can be helpful.  But they are never your end-all-be-all.

Creatine

Creatine Monohydrate is the most well researched supplement on the market.  It’s also one of the most inexpensive.

It can improve your performance when strength training, and improve your recovery between sets.  It’s also very safe to use.

Just make sure you’re getting Creatine Monohydrate, and not some other form.  The only ingredient in the type you buy should be Creatine Monohydrate.  And don’t pay a lot for it.

It’s not supposed to be expensive, here’s the one I use

 

Omega 3

This one can be a good one for overall health.  Omega-3 fatty acids are typically found in fish.  And in western culture, fish is not often a regular part of our diets.

Now, if you’re regularly eating fish, you 100% do not need this supplement, because you are already getting it from food.

It’s important that we get a good ratio of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega 6 is found more in meats, and in todays culture, we are getting a much higher concentration of Omega 6.

It’s much more common to see a 20:1 ration of Omega-6 to Omega 3.  A more ideal range would be a 4:1.  This ratio will help reduce chronic inflammation, and lead to a longer, healthier life.

If you’re not getting enough fish in your diet, you may want to consider supplementing with this.

 

Multivitamins

You may also want to consider taking a multivitamin.  This can help fill in any nutritional gaps you may not be getting in your diet already.

This is really only needed if you do have any vitamins/minerals you are regularly missing out on in your diet.  If you have any kind of vitamin deficiencies, this can be a big help.

If you don’t, you don’t need it.

Hiring A Fitness Coach

Hiring a fitness coach can be one of the absolute best things you can do to optimize your fitness.  No matter your fitness level, from absolute beginner to highly trained athlete, a coach can absolutely change the game for you.

You’ll have someone who has your best interests at heart, and has the expertise to help you get the best results.

Someone to write programs specifically for you based on any limitations you may have, and based on the exact goal you want to achieve.

You’ll also have someone to hold yourself accountable to, that way if you fall of the wagon, they can help pick you back up and put you back on, so you don’t get left behind and die of dysentery.

fitness products waste money

 

– If you’re looking to be able to strut in your workouts confident, proud, and ready to go.

– If you’re looking for someone to take all of the guesswork out of it for you, 

– If you’re looking to learn how to include all of your favorite foods, while still reaching all your fitness goals.

Then apply now for online coaching.

Otherwise, I’m always here for any questions you have.

 

Much love,

Nick

 

 

How To Make Counting Calories Easier

How To Make Counting Calories Easier

Calorie counting can seem like a daunting process, and most people’s biggest fear is that they won’t have enough time to do it.  So I thought I’d provide some tips on how to make counting calories easier.

I get it, sometimes it’s hard, and downright frustrating.

But don’t worry, because I got your back.

All you gotta do, is read this whole article.

No skipping, no skimming.

Read the article left to right, top to bottom, then read it backwards, and then one more time while standing on your head.

I guess you can skip the last part if you really want to.

Okay so we got a deal? Let’s do it.

 

How To Make Calorie Counting Easier

Does Calorie Counting Work?

For some, calorie counting is a great tool to bring some awareness of how much you’re actually eating.

For others, calorie counting can lead down a dark hole of obsessing about every gram of spinach, and if you go one calorie over your target, it triggers a complete breakdown.

The key is knowing which type you are.

So if you are the type of person that feels anxious by the idea of tracking their food intake, as to what it might do to your relationship with food, then this option might not be for you.

If you struggle with an eating disorder, calorie counting is not for you.  And your first priority should be working on that.  I highly suggest visiting psychologytoday.com and seek out a licensed mental health professional to help you.

However, if this is not an issue for you, than calorie counting can be an amazing tool for not only weight loss, but also increased strength, and gaining muscle.

Just ask my online coaching client, Kate

calorie counting easier

Who’s lost 30 pounds over the last 9 months working with me, all while counting her calories.

Thankfully, she wears those douchey sunglasses in every progress picture, for the lulz.

 

You can also ask my online coaching client, Heidi.

calorie counting easier

Who’s lost 45 pounds over the course of about 10 months working with me.  Again, all while counting her calories.

And she used a lot of the strategies I’m going to outline below.  And she still enjoyed some pizza from time to time.

Unfortunately, she didn’t wear any douchey sunglasses though.

 

Calorie counting works so well because weight loss comes down to being in a calorie deficit.

Weight loss, gain, or maintenance ultimately comes down to a simple equation of energy balance.

calorie counting easier

And if you are tracking your calories, this gives you a direct view as to whether you are taking in the correct amount of calories for your goals.

When you want to save money, it’s a good idea to keep track of a financial budget.

It’s a lot easier to save money if you are keeping track of your finances, and where your money is going.

It’s a lot easier to hit your goals if you keep track of your calories, and what you are eating.

 

How To Make Calorie Counting Easier

 

Tip #1 Don’t Change Things Up All The Time

Important to remember, that this is an article on how to make calorie counting easier.

So before you pushback at this and say “Nick, I don’t want to to eat the same thing all the time.”  I get it.

But it is going to make it easier.

The more you change up your diet, and have different recipes and foods, the harder tracking calories is going to become.

The cool thing about MyFitnessPal is that it remembers your habits.

If you’re having similar foods, you can literally copy and paste them from one day to the next.

I’m the type of person that has the same breakfast every day.

And every morning, when I start tracking my calories, I swipe from the right to “Add Breakfast From Yesterday”

Not only does this save you time in opening the app, and selecting the foods that go in.

It also saves you time on making the decision of what to make for meals, and what to buy at the grocery store.

It creates a habit, and once a habit is formed, it’s easier to stick to.

 

Tip #2 Foods With Barcodes Can Be Your Friend

“But Nick, calorie tracking takes so much time.”

How much time does it really take to open your phone and scan a barcode?

You did it with restaurant menus for all of 2020, and it took you all of 7.3 seconds.

The great thing about foods with a barcode is, you know exactly how many calories are in the package.

Not only that, but there is little to no preparation involved.

Take this yogurt for example

calorie counting easier

It’s as easy as scanning the barcode, opening the lid, inserting spoon, and increasing enjoyment.

You don’t have to worry about how much is in each serving, because it’s already portioned out.

 

Okay fine, sometimes it’s more complex than that.

Let’s take this package of rice for example.

calorie counting easier

 

It’s still as simple as scan the barcode, follow instructions, enjoy delicious rice within a minute.

Food with a barcode are convenient.  And if you’re worried about how much time it’s going to take to count your calories, convenience is key.

 

Tip #3 It Pays To Plan Ahead

I’ve already touched on how it pays off to eat similar foods, and how this helps you to not have to think too much about what you’re eating.

So if you already have an idea of how you’re day is going to look, you can log it all ahead of time.

Either the night before, or morning of, start entering what you plan on having into MyFitnessPal, that way you don’t have to do it throughout the day.

So now, you’re day is already setup ahead of you, all you have to do is follow the plan you’ve laid out.

Sure, it takes a little front end work to set this up.  But it shouldn’t take you any more than 10 minutes of your day, and it leads to less time worrying about decision making.

If you end up deviating from the plan a bit, you can always go back and edit, you’ve still got a great groundwork set up for yourself.

How To Make Counting Calories Eaiser

Tip #4 Estimate When You Have To

But hold on, Nick!  I just got my white New Balance sneakers all polished up, and my wife and I are going out to Outback Steakhouse tonight to split a Bloomin’ Onion!

No problem, search for the entrée, appetizers, drinks, etc.,  you’re having today, most chain restaurants have their calories in MyFitnessPal.

Going out to the local town diner?  No problem there either.

Search for a dish that’s relatively close to what you had.  It may be a few calories off in either direction, but at least you’re close.

A lot of people get deterred from calorie tracking when they go out to eat.  You don’t have to let it come to a grinding halt the minute you want to go to lunch with your co-workers at the office.

You can stay on track and go out to eat.

It may not be perfect, but it at least gives you a bit of accountability.

Tip #5 Eat The Right Amount Of Calories

The most common reason people feel restricted around calorie counting isn’t from the counting of calories itself.

It comes from the over-restriction of calories.

Many people trying to lose weight will set their calorie target to 1,200 calories, which you should not be doing.

If you set your calorie target too low, it’s going to be nearly impossible to stick to.

So if you really  want to make calorie counting easier.  Find the correct amount of calories for your goal.
You can do that by getting my Free Calorie Calculator, and find out what your goal calorie target is.

How To Make Counting Calories Easier


.

 

How To Make Calorie Counting Easier: Final Thoughts

Okay so there you have it.  If you want to make calorie counting easier, keep it simple.

The less you can overcomplicate everything, the more successful you’re going to be.

I hope you enjoyed this article, and if you have any thoughts, please leave a comment below.  I’d love to hear from you.

 

Much love,

Nick

 

 

Should You Arch Your Back In A Bench Press?

Should You Arch Your Back In A Bench Press?

You may have seen some lifters go into a gym, and set up for a bench press, with an arch that would make The Exorcist look like a kids movie.

Maybe you shrug it off and think that it’s weird, and then carry on with your workout.

Or maybe you’ve found this article, since you were wondering what the hell they were arching their back like that for.

And wondering if it’s a safe an effective way to bench press.

Let’s talk about it, and by the end of this article, you might want to consider arching your back when you bench.

 

An Arched Back Is Safer For Your Body

Whenever you bench press you want to have your shoulders pinched together and pulled down (scapular retraction)

If the shoulders are not pinched together and down, this is going to cause your shoulder to pop forward when you bench, which is going to place a lot of stress on your shoulder joint, and rotator cuff musculature.  Which is one of the most common areas of injury during the bench press.

By pinching your shoulders down and back, this is going to create a natural arch your thoracic spine (upper back), and will allow your pectoral muscles and triceps to handle more of the load, while placing less stress on the shoulders.

 

So what happens when you don’t arch in the bench press?

When you don’t pull your shoulders back, the front part of your shoulder will have to come forward.

And when we get to the bottom of the movement, the shoulder being pulled forward is going to place a lot of pressure on your joint, which over time, will lead to discomfort and injury.

Here’s a video of what that looks like.  Watch the shoulder pop forward.

Your Spine Isn’t Loaded In The Bench Press

At first look, it looks like an arched back in the bench press may contribute to a spinal injury.

To the untrained eye, it can look dangerous.

But let’s talk about how the two ways the spine can get injured, axial loading and shearing force.

An axial load simply means a load that compressed, in the case of the spine, from top to bottom, like when a barbell is compressing your spine in a back squat.

A shearing force is where the vertebrae in the spine may be moved in opposite directions.

 

An axial load would occur on the spine in say, an overhead press.

Since the barbell is overhead, the force is pushing down on the spine.

And if you arch your back here, that would be quite dangerous.

Bench Press Arch

But you arch in a bench press, you’re not getting the same load on the spine.

Since the load is perpendicular to the spine, that’s not where the load is being handled,

Since the spine doesn’t get loaded top-down in the bench press, it is safe for your spine.

And since creating an arch positions the bar over the upper back and shoulders, there’s even less tension on the lower back.

 

 

 

It’s A Stronger Bench Press Position

Full Body Tension

By arching your back, you can create more tension throughout your body, and creating more tension means you can more more weight.

So if you want to build a really big bench press, arching your back to create as much tension as possible is ideal.

Creating full body tension makes the bench press become more than just a chest exercise.

It becomes a full body movement, and the more muscles you can recruit the stronger you will get from top to bottom.

 

Leg Drive

Leg drive is when you’re pushing the weight off your chest, you are driving your legs and feet into the floor.

This helps drive both your hips, and your shoulders into the bench, producing more force output.

If you use leg drive properly, if you weren’t holding the bar, you’d slide yourself right off the bench.

Using leg drive naturally accentuates a bench press arch, which allows you to push more weight in this stronger position.

 

Can A Bench Press Arch Be Dangerous?

Actually yes.

If your butt leaves the bench, then force is placed on the spine.

The shoulder and butt act as an anchor point.

And if the butt is not in contact with the bench, then the spine does get the axial load we talked about above.

So if you are benching with proper form, then no it is not dangerous.

As with any exercise, if you are doing it with improper form, then yes, it is dangerous.

Use good form, always.

When arching in the bench press you want to maintain 4 points of contact at all times.

The head, the shoulders, the butt, and the feet.

When the weight gets heavy, do not lift any of those things up, or you are at risk for injury.

 

How Much To Arch Your Back When You Bench Press

It all depends on your goal.

If your goal is to get to your maximum strength with the bench press, then practicing your arch is going to be extremely helpful for you.

This is going to lessen the range of motion needed to complete the movement.  And it’s going to allow you to create as much force as possible.

If your goal is to maximize muscle growth with the bench press, then a significant arch is not necessary.  However, you still want to keep your shoulders pinched down and back to keep them safe, and maximize activation of the chest.

 

Bench Press Arch: Final Thoughts

Despite it looking dangerous, it’s actually not.

Looks can be deceiving, and the bench press arch is the safest position to bench press from.

So next time someone tells you that arching your back is “cheating” or “unsafe”, send them this article.

 

Much love,

Nick

 

 

WTF Is A Macro?

WTF Is A Macro?

WTF Is A Macro?

WTF is a macro anyways?

You may have heard the phrase “I’m counting my macros.”  Or “This fits my macros.”  Or my personal favorite “Ice cream fits my macros.”

Food is made up of 3 macronutrients.  Proteins, carbs, and fats.  The balance of these things combine to make up the three main nutrients our body uses for energy.

In this article I’m going to lay out

  • The difference between calories and macros
  • What protein is, what it does for you, and how much you need.
  • What carbs are, what they do for you, and how much you need.
  • What fats are, what they do for you, and how much you need.
  • Whether you should worry about counting calories or macros

 

WTF Is The Difference Between Macros And Calories?

In a sense, they are the same.  In another sense, they are not.

Each macronutrient contains a certain amount of calories per gram.

1 gram of protein contains 4 calories.

1 gram of carbohydrates contains 4 calories.

1 gram of fats contains 9 calories.

So macronutrients are part of the calories we eat, broken down a little further, and a little more specifically.

 

A calorie is a unit of measurement for how much energy is in a food.  When we count calories, we are counting the amount of energy we get from our food.

When we count macros, we are counting how the energy from food is broken up.

Each macronutrient does different things for our body, and all three are important for our daily life and energy.

 

The Three Main Macronutrients

Protein

Why is important?

Protein’s primary job is to repair your body.  We most commonly think of it as used for our muscles, and to support our sick gainz.

WTF is a macro

Eating adequate protein is going to help you recover from your workouts better, and aid in muscle growth.

It also aids in retaining muscle mass, or in some cases, even gaining muscle when you are in a calorie deficit.

Protein is really quite a magical macronutrient for fat loss in particular, because it does two things that supports fat loss.

For one, it helps you feel full longer, as it is the most satiating of the three main macronutrients.

And secondly, it has a higher thermic effect than the other macronutrients.  Which means you burn more calories from digesting it than with carbs or fats. You burn about 30% of the calories taken in from proteins.

Where can I get it?

Meat, seafood, eggs, protein shakes, greek yogurt, cottage cheese.

These are some of the best sources of protein.

WTF is a macro

Beware of some commonly touted “good” sources of protein, that aren’t actually good sources of protein.

Some common ones are beans, peanut butter, and nuts.

While I’m not saying you shouldn’t eat these foods… peanut butter happens to be the nectar of the gods.  They just don’t happen to be good protein sources.

Let’s use peanut butter as an example.

WTF is a macro

With 16 grams of fat, 8 grams of carbs, and 7 grams of protein, based on the math we used earlier of how many calories are contained per macronutrient, we can see this is primarily a fat source.

16 grams of fat x 9 = 144 calories from fat

8 grams of carbs x 4 = 32 calories from carbs

7 grabs of protein x 4 = 28 calories from protein.

13% of the calories are coming from protein. Not a great protein source after all.  However, still delicious.

 

If you’re looking for a little more in depth answer, you can check out my article on How To Get More Protein In Your Diet

How much protein should I eat?

The minimum recommendation for protein is about 0.36 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.

So if you weight 200 pounds, you’d need at least 72 grams of protein.

However, this recommendation is to avoid a protein deficiency.  

Since you’re on a fitness website, my guess is you’re probably trying to figure out how much protein you need to stimulate muscle growth and recovery.

The general recommendation here is between 0.7g – 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight.

So our hypothetical 200 pound individual would need 140-200 grams of protein per day.

 

Carbohydrates

Why are they important?

Carbs are the body’s main, and preferred source of energy.  After you eat carbs, your body breaks it down into glucose, otherwise known as blood sugar, which your body uses for energy.

This is why if you’ve ever tried a low carb, or no carb diet, you probably felt sluggish, or cranky, or outright Incredible Hulk angry.

WTF is a macro

Where can I get it?

Fruit, vegetables, starches, bread, grains, pasta, processed foods.

Carbs are plentily available in food.

And there’s no shortage of them to go around.

How many carbs should I eat?

Technically, you can live without carbs, and the body can convert dietary fat into a fuel source.

With that being said, you can also charge an iPhone with a potato as an electricity source, but all the same, I’ll stick to using an electrical outlet.

The real answer to how many carbs you should eat is… it depends.

If you’re training very hard in the gym, or an endurance athlete, it’s important for you to set this number on the higher end.

If you do fine with a low carb diet, and are not constantly thinking about Pop Tarts every 12 seconds while doing it, then you can set this on the lower end.

For most people, I’d generally recommend for 45-65% of your daily calories to come from carbohydrates.

To figure out this number for yourself, you’ll need to find an adequate calorie range for you to fall into.

You can do that by getting my Free Calorie Calculator, and find out what your goal calorie target is.


.

One you’ve got that squared away, take the number you’ve been given for calories, and multiply by 0.6 for the high end, and 0.4 for the lower end.  Then divide by 4.

For example, if you have a calorie target of 2,400.  2,400 x 0.6 = 1560.  1560÷4 = 360 grams for the high end.  2,400 x 0.4 = 960.  960÷4 = 240 grams for the lower end.

Again, if you function well off a lower carb diet, that’s okay and you can go lower.  But for most people, I don’t recommend it.  You’ll get much more energy and food satisfaction out of not restricting carbs.

 

Fats

Why are they important?

Fat is an essential macronutrient, and your body cannot survive without it.  It aids in the absorption of vitamins, hormone production, immunity, body tissue health, and metabolic support.  There’s also strong evidence to support cardiovascular protection, and alleviate symptoms of depression.  Yeah that’s right, eating fats make you less depresso espresso.

Where can I get it?

Dairy, nuts, oils, meats, some seafoods, and basically anything fried and delicious.

How much do I need?

Just like with carbs, it depends.  

The main thing is you want to consume at least 15% of your total calories from fat.

Above, I’ve already laid out your guidelines for protein and carbs, whatever’s left over is reserved for your fat intake.

 

The Fourth Macronutrient: Alcohol

Why is it important?

It’s not.  You can live a perfectly healthy, and happy life without alcohol.

However, if you choose to indulge, it can make you seem more confident, while also making you look like a complete idiot.

It can increase your levels of fun at parties, while leaving you with a raging morning hangover.

It has the capability to make you puke, shit yourself, and piss yourself all at the same time.

But anywho, alcohol contains calories, so that’s why it gets the honor of being the “fourth” macronutrient.  1g of alcohol contains 7 calories.

Where can I get it?

If you’re under 21, you can’t

Otherwise, beer, liquor, wine, or Grandpa’s “cough medicine”

WTF is a macro

How much do I need?

Depends.  Are you in for a game of charades with your boring neighbors?  Then maybe a bit more than usual.

 

Counting Macros Vs. Counting Calories

If you’re trying to reach a certain physique, or performance goal, counting calories and counting macros are both viable options.

No matter what, losing weight, maintaining weight, or gaining weight comes down to one thing.  Calories in vs. calories out.

WTF is a macro

But if you completely ignore macronutrients, your goals may suffer.

For example, if you ignore protein, it’s going to have a significant impact on muscle growth and recovery.

No matter what your goal, I’d recommend to keep track of protein.

For fat loss, you can either worry about counting macros, with the total caloric content of your macros adding up to you being in a calorie deficit (as you found with my calorie calculator that you downloaded earlier).

Or you can just worry about counting calories and protein.  Make sure your calories are within the range, and you’re getting 0.7-1g of protein per pound of bodyweight.

Macros are a little more regimented and complex.  If you’re up for the challenge, it can be worth it.

If you like to keep it simple, I’d go the calories and protein route.

Final Thoughts: WTF is a macro?

So now you know wtf a macro is.

You know that it is a more detailed breakdown of the energy that goes into our body.

And you know the 3 types of macronutrients, plus the bonus fourth, which you had a lot of in college.

 

With that being said, if you have any questions, please ask.  The comments are open below, or you can shoot me an e-mail at nick@nickandersonfitness.com

I’m also taking clients for 1:1 online coaching.

If you’re looking for a little more guidance into what you should be eating for macros, and how to actually hit them, I’m here to come up with a nutrition plan for you.  That way you never hit a plateau, and achieve all of your fitness goals. And you can do it from absolutely anywhere in the world.

 

Much love,

Nick