How To Improve Consistency In Fitness

How To Improve Consistency In Fitness

Whether you’re trying to lose some weight, add some muscle, or improve your overall health and fitness, it all comes down to one thing: consistency.

Interestingly enough, it also seems to be the hardest part for most people.

In a recent Q&A on my Instagram, I asked what my followers biggest struggle with weight loss was.  More than half of them said consistency.

You can have the best plan, trainer, and groceries in the world.  But if you don’t have consistency, none of it matters.

Improve Consistency In Fitness

In this article, I’m going to share with you 4 Tips To Improve Your Consistency In Fitness

So let’s dive right into it.


How To Improve Consistency In Fitness


Tip 1: Set Goals

Having a clearly defined goal is going to set you up for long term success.  How can you know you’re being consistent if you don’t know what you’re trying to be consistent in?

For consistency based goals, it’s important to have process based goals rather than outcome based goals.

A process based goal is what you are going to do to try and reach your outcome based goal.

Process based goal example: I’m going to be in a calorie deficit 80% of my days

Outcome based goal example: I’m going to lose 20 pounds.


While there is nothing wrong with having an outcome based goal, you’re not going to reach that goal unless you have a process to reach it.

So setting process based goals, is how you come up with a plan to reach your outcome based goal.

Remember, a goal without a plan is just a wish.

Setting your goals is a great way to actually achieve your goals

So what should your goals look like?


Sustainable Goals

Any goal you set needs to be sustainable.  There’s nothing wrong shooting high.

But if you’re setting unrealistic goals like “I want to lose 50 lbs for my sister’s wedding next Wednesday”, I’ve got some bad news.

How Improve Fitness Consistency

It’s also unrealistic to set goals like “I’m going to eat 1,200 calories every single day for the month of March.”

Number one, because you should not be eating 1,200 calories unless you are a pottytrained labradoodle.  Number two, because even if you were a pottytrained labradoodle, aiming for perfection is just not realistic.

The reality is, sometimes life gets in the way.  And if you want a high quality of life, while trying to achieve your fitness goals, you’re going to want to allow yourself a little grace.

A better example of a realistic goal might be something like “I’m going to workout 4 days a week for the month of March.”

This allows you some flexibility to schedule your workouts, without making you insane.

Measurable Goals

How can you know you’re succeeding at your goals if you can’t measure them?

Again, if these are process based goals, this is definitely something you can measure.

If your goal is to do X thing X amount of times, then that is very easily measurable.

If your goal is something like “Meh, I wanna lose weight.”

That’s not very measurable, and it’s vague.


Your goal should excite you.

It should be something that if you stick to that goal, you can picture how much better your life will be by working on it.

If you don’t get fired up about your goal, then you’re a lot less likely to stick to it.


How To Improve Consistency In Fitness


Tip 2: Create A Consistency Calendar

If you really want to improve your consistency in your fitness, this one is going to play a huge role.

Here’s what to do.

Go buy a paper calendar, a black marker, and a red marker.

Every day that you’ve fallen within your goals that you’ve outlined in step 1, you put a big Red X on the calendar for the day

Every day that you don’t reach those goals, you put a big Black Circle on the calendar for the day.

At the end of the month, you’ll have a very nice visual of your consistency for the month.  If you see lots of red X’s and few black circles, then you’re doing great.  If your black circles end up being more than 20% of the days of the month, then you have room for improvement.

Improve Fitness Consistency Calendar

Things to aim for:

  • No more than six black circles in a month
  • No black circles two days in a row


How To Improve Consistency In Fitness


Tip 3: Start Small

The biggest reason people fall off in fitness is because they try to go too fast too quick.

They’ll try to add every healthy habit all at once.

This is a great way to burn yourself out, and feel completely overwhelmed.

What not to do:

  • Workout 7 days a week
  • Eat the bare minimum amount of calories
  • Restrict entire food groups
  • Limit yourself to only eating in certain meal windows

This stuff above doesn’t do anything good for your fat loss.

Because it’s virtually impossible to stick to.


Now I know you may be reading this article, and thinking.  That’s great and all, I’d love to start small.  But what exactly should I do?

I’m glad you asked.

Here’s 3 mini-tips to get you started if you’re not sure what to do.

The 3-3-3 method

I’ve used this method with my online coaching clients, and it is tried and true.

3 plates of food each day

  • This is a regular size dinner plate, you’re not eating out of a trough here.
  • 1/2 your plate is filled with either protein or vegetables.
  • 1/4 your plate is filled with either protein or vegetables (whichever you didn’t choose in the above step).
  • 1/4 your plate is filled with whatever the hell you want.


3 snack each day

  • Snacks fit in the palm of your hand
  • Make at least one of these snacks fruit, the other two can be whatever you choose.


3 days of exercise per week

  • Any form of exercise will do here.  Strength training, walking, unicorn jousting, it doesn’t matter.  Just move your body.
  • If you’re really unsure where to start, take my free beginner’s workout program.


This program is designed to take ALL of the guesswork out for you.

Go into the gym, follow this program. Reach your goals.


How To Improve Consistency In Fitness


Tip 4: The 80/20 Rule

It’s okay to not be perfect 100% of the time.

In fact, I think it’s better to be 80% consistent than 100% consistent.

If you’re having to worry about being perfect all time, you’re not really living life to the fullest.

Life is about more than being all in on your fitness all the time.

It’s about the little moments.  The birthday cake at your nephew’s 3rd birthday party.  Having a couple drinks with your friends after work.  Or just a glass of wine to yourself on a Sunday night.

Being 80% consistent allows you to plan for these events, and be able to enjoy them, and then stay on track.


This doesn’t mean go out and have a drink with your friends every single night after work.

It also doesn’t mean be completely on track all week, and when the weekend comes just throw all of your plans out.

That’s not being consistent, and that’s not balance.


What it does mean is that 80% of your food should come from nutritious sources.

20% of your food should come from delicious sources.

And that should be done 80% of the time.


Now remember, if you don’t manage to stick to this, don’t give up.

If you end up with a few days where you go off track, this is not the time to quit.

You can’t mess up your progress from a couple days of inconsistency.

It takes just as much time to undo your progress as it took to make it in the first place.


How To Improve Consistency In Fitness


Tip 5: Hire A Coach

A great way to improve your consistency is to have someone to help hold you accountable.

Having a coach that you have to regularly check in with to make sure you’re getting the results you want can be almost like a cheat code to improving consistency.

It’s important to realize that hiring a coach doesn’t mean all the work will get magically done for you.

You still have to put in the work.

But it helps a lot to have someone who cares about you and wants to see you succeed.

If you’re serious about taking your fitness to the next level, or maybe even the first level, go ahead and fill out my online coaching application, and I’ll take all of the guesswork out of it for you.

As always, if you have any questions, e-mail me, [email protected].  I’m always here to help.


Much love,





How To Grow Your Butt

How To Grow Your Butt

So you want to grow a big butt.


I could start off this article by doing what every other fitness influencer on Instagram does, and show pictures of my butt.

But I’m not going to do that, sorry.

What I am going to do, is teach you how to grow yours.

I’m going to tell you what kind of weights to lift, what kind of exercises to do, and how you should structure your workout program.

The only thing you need to do, is read every word of this article (no skipping around), and execute on what you’ve learned.


How To Grow Your Butt

Lift Heavy Weights

If you want to grow a butt that gets you stopped at airport security, because you have too much junk in your trunk, then you have to pick up some heavy weights.

When I say heavy weights, I don’t mean the cute pink ones underneath your TV stand.

I’m talking about weights that are going to challenge you.

The last 2-3 reps should feel like you aren’t sure if you can finish.

When it comes to lifting heavy weights there’s a few important things to remember.

1.) Form Over Everything

Whether you’re lifting 2 pounds or 200 pounds, proper technique is non-negotiable.

A few ways you can ensure you have proper technique.

  • Record yourself lifting, and watch your sets back.  For every single rep.  Pay attention to every single part of your body and make sure it is doing the correct motion.
  • Educate yourself!  You can find educational videos for proper technique plastered all over Instagram, Youtube, TikTok.I post some quite often on my Instagram.  I can also direct you to some other good coaches out there who post form videos often, like Eric Roberts, Jodie Walker, and Jordan Lips.
  • Hire a coach to help you.  The most common technique errors come from not knowing what you are doing wrong.  Hiring a coach will take all of the guesswork out of it for you.

Remember that form is always most important, and if you are sacrificing your form to lift more weight, you will eventually get injured, which will cause you to be sitting on your butt more than growing it.


2.) Progressive Overload

If you’ve never lifted a heavy weight before, you don’t want to go straight into it.

You want to start conservatively, and then progress from there.

As your body gets used to lifting heavier weights, it will start to adapt, and that weight will become less challenging.

That’s when it’s time to up the weight.

A good rule of thumb for when to increase weight is the “2 for 2” rule.

If you can do 2 more reps than you started with for 2 consecutive workouts, that means it’s time to increase weight.

So for example,

Week 1, Romanian Deadlift for 3 sets of 8.

Week 2, you feel good so you do 3 sets of 9.

Week 3, 3 sets of 10

Week 4, 3 sets of 10.

The following week it would be time to increase to the next available weight and repeat the process anew.



Knee Vs. Hip Dominant Exercises

When you are trying to build your butt, you want to focus on glute based exercises.

Glute based exercises are exercises which are hip dominant, and not knee dominant.

When it comes to training your lower body, exercises which move the hip joint are going to predominantly work your glutes and hamstrings.  Exercises which move the knee joint are going to predominantly work your quadriceps.


It’s important to understand, just because an exercise is hip dominant, does not mean it’s not training your quads, and vice versa with knee dominant exercises.

There is a spectrum between the two, and most exercises do not train one without the other getting involved.

That is because some of the muscles in both your quadriceps and your hamstrings are biarticular muscles.

A biarticular muscle is a muscle that connect to two joints.

The semimembranosus (part of your hamstring) and the rectus femoris (part of your quads) cross both the knee and the hip joint.

The means you can’t move one without the other also moving.

However, you can put a bias on one muscle over the other, by emphasizing either the knee moving more, or the hip moving more.


Let’s use the squat as an example.

This is my online coaching client Habib.  He’s strong as all hell, and he has a very good squat.



In the image above, you can see that his knees have the most bend.

While his hip is still being bent, and he’s initiating the movement by pushing his hips back, the knee is much more.  Which makes this more of a knee flexion based exercise, and thus more quad based.

However, since his hips are still moving, his glutes/hamstrings are moving as well, and are under tension.  Making this work both sets of muscles.


Now let’s take the Romanian Deadlift.

In the image above, you can see that my hips have the most bend.

My knees are still slightly bending, so there is a bit of movement in the quads.  But the hips are moving most, which makes this a hip extension based exercise, and thus more hamstring/glutes.  As I come forward from this bottom position, my hips are going to extend forward.


Exercises To Grow Your Butt

So now that we’ve learned that you need your hips to move most to get your butt to grow the most, we can talk about which exercises use more hip extension.  We’ll also talk about some exercises which put you in hip extension.  Whether you’re flexing or extending your hips, the glutes are under tension, and your butt will grow.

The primary function of your gluteus maximus, is hip extension.  When this occurs, your hamstrings, your glutes, and your erector spinae (the big long muscles that go from your butt all the way up your back), work together.

Hip Extension Exercises

Just going to list some of my favorites here, with a few instructional videos on how to do them.  Remember, you can do these with whatever equipment you have available.  So if something says barbell, and you only have dumbbells, you can probably do it with dumbbells.

These aren’t the only hip extension exercises you can do.  There are several variations of these you can do as well.

How to Active Your Glutes To Grow Your Butt

You might hear all the time from trainers at the gym “activate your glutes” or “engage your glutes”.  But what does it mean?

If you don’t know what actually activating your glutes means, this cue is completely useless.

When you’re performing the above exercises, you want to keep your glutes activated.

Here’s my simple “how to”

I want you to imagine that you put a penny right between your buttcheeks.

Why did you do that? I don’t know, and I’m not here to judge you.

But you don’t want to drop that penny out of your butt.

I want you to squeeze it so hard it turns into copper wire.

Keep that up throughout the entire movement, and huzzah! Your glutes are activated.

Just make sure when you’re done, to dispose of that penny.

Program Design

When it comes to designing a program to grow your butt, you don’t want to be do nothing but glute exercises.

Because you don’t want to be nothing but ass.

assy mcgee | Cartoon, Animation art, Animation

You’re going to want to work your other muscles, not only for your physical appearance, but also your health as well.

However, if growing your butt is your goal, I suggest more of a focus on glute dominant exercises, with the other exercises sprinkled in.

The way I would typically program this would be to have 2 lower body focused days, and 2 upper body focused days.

The lower body focus days would have double the hip dominant exercises than the knee dominant exercises.

For more insight into How To Design A Strength Training Program, check out my article on that.


How To Grow Your Butt: Final Thoughts

So there you have it, there’s my top ways to grow a big ol’ butt.

You need to make sure you are focusing on glute dominant exercises, with heavy weights.

Sorry but kickbacks on the stairmaster don’t count, and those little booty bands aren’t going to help much.

You want a big ol’ butt, you need to use big ol’ weights.

Oh yeah, and don’t forget to squeeze that penny.


Much love,


How Much Weight Should You Be Lifting?

How Much Weight Should You Be Lifting?

Walk into the gym and one of the first things you’ll see is a big rack of dumbbells that range from size tiny to massive.

You look at your workout program (that you should absolutely have, and if you don’t here’s a free one) and the first exercise is a dumbbell bench press.

You may think to yourself, okay cool dumbbell bench press.  But which weight should I pick up?

You don’t want to pick up a weight that’s too light, because then what’s the point?  You could just go home and lift a couple of sticks of butter instead.

And you don’t want to pick up a weight too heavy, because then you’re going to drop it on your face, be embarrassed, and also injured.  And then you’re going to have to tell the paramedic that you didn’t read an article on how much weight you should be lifting, which is also embarrassing.

By the end of this article, you’ll have the confidence to know how much weight you should lift for the first time you try an exercise.

You’ll also know how and when to increase weight.

You’ll know which exercises you’ll be able to choose a heavier weight for, and ones you may need to choose a lighter weight for, and get the maximum benefit out of it.

You have just one job in this.

Read every single word of this article.

Don’t skip, don’t skim, because then you’ll miss some crucial information.



Let’s go.

How Much Weight Should You Be Lifting?

Something to consider before you even touch a weight

Before you head straight for the dumbbell or squat rack, there’s something you need to do first.

You want to make sure you can execute a movement appropriately before you add weight to the movement.

Imagine not being able to do a bodyweight squat with proper form, and then you try and add weight to it.

You don’t really have to imagine, you’ll see this at the gym all the time.

You’ll frequently see people doing a squat with 300+ pounds on their back and their form looks more like a manatee having a seizure than an actual squat.

It doesn’t improve your squat strength (though it may improve your seizing manatee impression you’ve been working on for your next charades party).

What it does do is improve your risk for injury.

So before you attempt a squat with weight, master the bodyweight squat first.

Before you attempt a deadlift with weight, try it with a broomstick first.

Do this for any movement you are unfamiliar or unsure about.

And then video yourself doing it, and analyze your own technique.

This is something I do all the time with my online coaching clients, so together we can review technique and ensure the movements are both safe and effective.

And by the way,

This isn’t something just for beginner lifters.

This is something I to this day do.

If I feel like my movement is off with weight, I’ll go back and do it without, and analyze my technique.

Being an intermediate/advanced lifter doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go back to fundamentals and just practice movement patterns.

You absolutely should.


How Much Weight Should You Be Lifting?

Alright, so you’ve mastered the movements.

You’re deadlifting properly with the broomstick, so now you can put the Nimbus 2000 back in the broom cupboard.

And you’ve mastered the bodyweight squat so now you can get on and off the toilet with perfect form.  That’s good.  That will come in handy later in life.

So now it’s time to pick up some weights.

But, how much weight should you be lifting?

There’s a few things we are going to cover in the coming sections to give you a solid understand how heavy of a weight you should be lifting.


The RPE Scale

Above is an image of the RPE Scale.

RPE stands for Rate Of Perceived Exertion

Which basically is a scale of how hard something felt.

A 1 on the RPE scale feels as hard as buttering and eating your morning toast.

While a 10 on the RPE scale feels as hard as your morning toast buttering and eating you.

But seriously, a 10 should be HARD.

You should not be able to get out a single more rep at RPE 10.

And your face should look like this.

Yeah, it should look like you’re about to shit yourself (don’t actually shit yourself).


The RIR Scale

And going hand in hand with the RPE scale, is the RIR scale.

RIR stands for reps in reserve.

Which means how many reps you could have done in addition to the ones you actually did.

For example, let’s take that dumbbell bench press we were going to start your workout with in the beginning of the article.

You walk in, you grab a pair of 20 pound dumbbells off the rack.

You do a set of 10, but if some dude puts a gun to your head and told you to do more, you could have got 6 more (that dude really wanted you to push hard).

This means you had 6 reps in reserve.

This works in reverse with the RPE scale.  So 6 reps in reserve means you were at RPE 4.

If you had 1 rep in reserve, you would have been at RPE 9.

One thing to note about the RPE/RIR scales.  It’s unfortunately, not a perfect system.  And it’s left up to a lot of ambiguity, and self speculation.

So you can finish a set and think it was really hard.  But in reality, you could have busted out another 5-7 reps.

Not sure what RPE you’re working at?

Test it.

This is a method I’ve used with my in-person clients.

I was recently training one of my favorite clients, Katie, and she was doing a seated shoulder press.  I asked her, on a scale of 1-10 how hard did that feel?  She told me with the highest level of confidence that it was a solid 9.

So I said, “Cool, alright on the next set I want you to do an extra 10 reps just for fun”.

She did them, all 10 extra reps.

And I said “Katie, that was not a 9.”

Begrudgingly, she asked me for a heavier weight.

This is something you can test on yourself, if you think you’re at RPE 9, try adding a few reps.  When you legitimately fail a rep, that’s where it becomes RPE 10/RIR 0.  Because you had no reps in reserve, you failed the rep.

Note on training to failure:

This is something that is okay and even beneficial to do from time to time, however be careful.

Choose your movements wisely here.  Training to failure on exercises where there is a danger of dropping a weight on you, or getting stuck under a barbell is not worth the risk without a spotter.  I’d rather you have a slightly less optimal training than die in a freak bench press accident.

Training a pushup to failure on the other hand.  What’s the risk of injury?  You just go back to the floor.

Think about this when training to failure and choose your movements wisely.

When the risk is there, find a spotter.


What RPE should you be working at?

With my online coaching clients, I generally want them working at about RPE 7-9.

So this means when you’re choosing a weight, you should choose one where you if you’re doing a set of 10, you could probably only do about 1-3 reps more.

So how do you tell?

Trial and error.

Try a weight, see how it feels.  If it feels too light for your set, increase.

The nice thing is, you have plenty of time in your training career to find the right weight for you.

Just make sure, above all else, you are still lifting with good form.

When Should You Increase In Weights?

So you’ve busted out that set of 10 reps of dumbbell bench press at 20lbs.  And it felt challenging.  It was a solid RPE 9, and your form was on point.  Great.  You’re crushing it.

But guess what.

It won’t be challenging forever.

Because the fun part about strength training is, that it gets you stronger.

As you continue to lift the same weight, your body starts to adapt to that.

This happens through a principle known as progressive overload.

What the hell is that?

Glad you asked.


Progressive Overload

Progressive overload is when you increase the demands of your training to increase the output of your body.

This can be achieved through lifting a heavier weight, increasing reps, increasing sets, or increasing the time under tension for your lifts.

By doing this, your body will begin to adapt to that demand by getting stronger, and increasing muscle size.

So using the 20lb bench press example, as that occurs, your body begins to adapt to lifting 20lb dumbbells.

Until it becomes easy.

So if you keep lifting those 20lb dumbbells for the rest of your life at the same reps and same sets, your body will not continue to change, because you’re not putting any new demands on it.

So when RPE 9 does not feel like RPE 9 anymore, it’s time to give the next weight up a shot.  This could mean getting a 5lb heavier dumbbell, or putting a pair of 2.5lb plates on to the end of your barbell.  It could also mean doing additional reps at the same weight.  But, at a certain point, you’re definitely going to want to increase the weight, and that should generally be your first choice.


How quickly does progressive overload happen?

This can vary depending on whether you’re a beginner or intermediate lifter.

If for 0-12 months you’ve been following a well structured program (sorry, Beachbody and YouTube workouts don’t count), you are considered a beginner lifter.

If you’ve been training intelligently for 12+ months, you’re an intermediate lifter.

If you’re an advanced lifter, carry on.  You probably don’t need this article.

For the beginner lifter,

It’s quite common to see very fast strength progression within that first 12 months.

You have probably heard this referred to as “newbie gains”, and it’s very real.

So you may walk into the gym day 1, bench press 20lb dumbbells, and then next week be able to do 25, and then 30s the following week.

Your progress will be very quick.

So enjoy this while it lasts.

If you’re an intermediate lifter, your newbie gains are done.

But that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to lift heavier, and continue to make gains.

It just might be a little slower.

It’s not uncommon to not be able to increase in weight for an entire month, or even longer.


Tracking Weights

When you step into the gym on any given day, you should know what you lifted last time.

That way you’ll know to either attempt that weight again, or go up in weight.

So by keeping a log of what you lift, you’ll have an idea of when it might be time to try and increase.

You don’t have to be crazy detailed (though you can if you want to be).

If you look at your log and see that 9 months ago you were lifting the same exact weight, and you’re wondering why you haven’t seen a lot of changes… you know why.


Should You Lift The Same Amount Of Weight For Each Exercise?

If you walk into the gym and are now able to hit 30 lb dumbbells for the bench press, should you be able to do the same for a lateral raise, or a dumbbell curl?

I think Bishop Bullwinkle can answer that for you.

Not every exercise is the same.  With each exercise, you are working different muscles, and creating different lever arms.

And different muscles are stronger than others.

For example, your legs are stronger than your back.

(Lift with your legs not your back)

And your legs are a hell of a lot stronger than your shoulders.

That’s why people can do squats and deadlifts with absolutely insane amounts of weight, but can’t do bicep curls with the same weight.

In general, the smaller the muscle being worked, the lighter the weight you’ll need to lift.

Of course, with each exercise, this will be a trial and error to figure out which is right for you.

But if you’re not lifting the same for a curl as you are a bench press, don’t worry.  That’s normal.  And if you are lifting the same amount for a curl as a bench press, you need to increase the weight of your bench press.  It’s too light.

Keep using the RPE/RIR scale to figure out what’s right for you for each exercise.

Final Thought

So now, you can take a nice deep breath.

Because you have an idea of how to attack the weights next time you step into the gym.

You know that through trial and error, you can find out how to get to an RPE 7-9.

And you know that you won’t stay there forever, and eventually, you’ll have to increase weight.  And if you’re a beginner lifter, that time will be very soon.

Now, you’re ready to make progress, and go crush your goals.

If you have any questions, e-mail me, and I’d love to chat about it – nick@nickandersonfitness.

Or you can always DM me on Instagram.

I’m always happy to answer any questions you may have.

Much Love,


How To Design A Strength Training Program

How To Design A Strength Training Program

Ever walk into a gym, and it feels like you’ve stepped into a foreign country slewed with machines you don’t know how to use, dumbbells that are too heavy to lift, and dudes that are too big to fit in their t-shirts?

Well, if I’m being honest. Me too.

When I first started, I had no idea what I was doing.

In fact, I was so anxious about going in, the night before I had stress dreams the entire night.

I vividly remember dreaming of picking up a barbell, and all the plates fell off and I got kicked out of the gym.

Dreams are weird.

By the way, that didn’t actually happen.

And eventually I learned what to do.

I was able to train hard enough, and smart enough to get to a point where I could lift far more weight than I ever believed was possible for myself.

And I was able to teach that information to my online coaching clients.

Like Kate…

Who went from deadlifting just a kettlebell, to a 235lb barbell.

Or Krystina,

Who after a monumental amount of hard work, can now do unassisted pull ups.

So what’s the secret to their success?

Well, a lot of it comes from consistency, and hard work.  That’s really the key to all of this.

But lying beneath that is program design.

By the end of this article,

You will know how to design a strength training program.

You will know what exercises to perform and when the perform them.

You will know how often to work out

You’ll know how to make a well structured plan that is going to have you be efficient, and get strong as all hell.

So grab a cup of coffee (iced is my go to, but whatever you like).  Grab a pen and paper, or the notes app of your phone.

And let’s get into it.

How To Design A Strength Training Program

When it comes to strength training the first thing I need you to do is forget any workout you’ve seen from an influencer in tight booty shorts while doing a one legged bosu ball kickflip salchow with a flaming upside down kettlebell overhead press.

There’s one important rule to adhere to.

Stick to the fundamentals.

Heath Ledger said it best here (he didn’t actually say this, I actually think it was Leonardo Da Vinci who said this via a Tweet in 1502).

Fundamentals are essential.

As a general rule of thumb, the flashier the exercise looks, the less effective it actually is.

Let’s use basketball (a sport I actually can’t stand) as an example to drive this point home.

If you’ve ever watched the Slam Dunk competitions they have, where guys will do some kind of double backflip and then dunk the ball and it looks cool as all hell…

And then you watch an actual basketball game and see that literally never happens.

This becomes a prime example of how fundamentals are important.

Because while doing a double backflip slam dunk looks cool, it has no practical applications.

It’s much more practical to work on dribbling, shooting, defense, being tall (a skill I’ll never have), and whatever else it is basketball players do.

So let’s apply to strength training.

The 5 Foundational Movement Patterns

These 5 foundational movement patterns should be the meat and potatoes (mmm… potatoes) of your programming.  These are the essential movements.  These are the ones you probably do in every day life just walking around your house.


The Squat

Squats are probably the most well recognized movement pattern.  We all know what a squat is, and we all know how to do it (for the most part).

Of course, there are many different ways to do a squat.

You can do

A bodyweight squat

A goblet squat

A barbell squat

And I’ve put these in order of how you should progress these.

You want to make sure you have the fundamentals down at each level, starting with bodyweight, and working your way up to a barbell.

You’ll see a lot of sweaty dudes around the gym doing barbell back squats with 400+ pounds on their back, but their actual squat mechanics look closer to that of a chimpanzee having a mild stroke.

Make sure you have your form on point for each progression, and before adding further weight.


The Hinge

This one is the most elusive for new lifters to figure out.  Some people get it down right away, other people can’t seem to differentiate it from a squat.

But that’s okay.

I’m here to help.

The hip hinge occurs when you are sending your butt back and forth (not twerking, that’s different).

In this quick deadlift tutorial video, you can see me sending my hips back to the wall behind me, then pushing forward.  Think of it like closing a car door with your butt when you have heavy groceries in your hand.  You know the one.

The hip hinge is a great way to target your posterior chain.  Which is a fancy way of saying all the muscles on the backside of you.  The ones you don’t see in the mirror are some of the most important ones to train for your overall health.

Examples of the hip hinge include (but are not limited to)

The Deadlift

The Romanian Deadlift

The Single Leg RDL

The Hip Thrust

The Goodmorning

These aren’t in any particular order like last time.  But make sure you have the basic hip hinge movement pattern down before you start adding weight to it.


The Lunge

Okay everyone hates this one, it’s cool me too.

But we still should be doing at least some variation of it.

So what classifies a lunge?

A lunge is any exercise where one leg is forward with your knee bent, and your other leg is behind you.

A lunge is similar in mechanics to a squat, but a lunge forces you to work one leg at a time, which helps you to correct any muscle imbalances you may have (we all have them by the way).

There are many variations to lunges

Such as

Reverse Lunges

Forward Lunges

Side Lunges

and my personal favorite Bulgarian Split Squats


The Push

Walk into any gym, you’ll see no shortage of pushing exercises.  A push refers to any time you are pushing a load away from the primary muscle being worked.

Like a bench press is pushing the barbell away from your pecs, and a pushup is pushing the floor away from your pecs.  This one is a foundational exercise because how often do you have to push things in real life?  And you never know… what if you’re in a situation where something really heavy falls on you, and all that bench press training finally pays off?

In general, pushing exercises work your chest, shoulders, and/or triceps (there are some exceptions to the rule, but we don’t really need to dive into that today).

Some examples of pushing exercises:

Bench Press


Overhead Press


The Pull

Walk into any gym, and you may see a shortage of pulling exercises.  Which in my opinion is a huge mistake.  As far as general strength goes, having a strong pull is important.  Most people don’t do them as much because they don’t work the “mirror muscles”.  Most pulling exercises are going to work your back, (remember that posterior chain we talked about) as well as your biceps.

When you think of a pulling exercise, it’s an exercise where you are pulling a load towards the primary muscle being worked.

Some examples of pulling exercises:

Row Variations


Lat Pulldowns

Strength Vs. Muscle Gain Exercises

Alright so we talked about the different kinds of forces that can be applied to exercises, now let’s talk about the different types of mechanics that can be implemented.


Your strength exercises are going to be your big compound exercises. A compound exercise is an exercise that recruits more than one muscle at a time.  When you are thinking about how to design a strength training program.  These are the exercises you want to put at the beginning of each workout.

The reason being, you want to be able to give your all to these exercises.  They are the ones that you can lift the most weight with, and are going to contribute most to your overall strength gains.

In general, you should do 3-4 sets of these.

Anywhere between 3-8 reps.  When you choose a lower rep range, aim to lift a heavy weight that challenges you for those few reps.  Obviously, the less reps you do, the more weight you can lift, and the higher reps, you’ll probably have to scale back on weight.  For more tips on how to choose the correct weight to lift head here.

Rest periods should be anywhere between 2-5 minutes per set.  The higher the weight you lift, the longer the rest period should be.

Choose 1 compound exercise to start your workout with that you want to work on.


Upper Body

Bench Press

Barbell Overhead Press

Bent Over Row



Lower Body





Muscle Gain Exercises

These exercises can be compound exercises, or they can be isolation exercises (exercises that work just one single muscle, a bicep curl for example).

The difference between strength and muscle gain exercises really lies in how much weight you lift, and how many reps you do.  To make an exercise effective for muscle growth, it should be somewhere between 6-12 reps.  Again, the weight should be heavy, and the last 2-3 reps should feel like you’re not sure if you can do it

For these choose 2-6 exercises to incorporate into your program to be done after your strength exercises.

Core Isolation Exercises

Okay, let’s talk six packs.

Personally, I like a nice Blue Moon in the summer. Nothing quite like an ice cold beer with a warm sunset.

Oh sorry, six pack abs.

How often should you train your abs?

Once a week? Once a day? Once a minute?

Well, the abs are just like any other muscle.  They need to be stimulated and then subsequently rested to grow (we will talk about rest later in the article).

In general, muscles need 2-3 days of rest before it becomes optimal to work them again.  So you should not be training them every day.  Furthermore, you don’t need to do incredibly high reps of abs.

Treat your ab movements just like a muscle gain movement.  1 or 2 exercises between 6-12 reps, and the last few should feel challenging.

And by the way, this doesn’t have to be just sit ups and crunches.

You can also do anti-rotational exercises like

The Pallof Press

Plank Reaches

Or stability exercises like


Hollow Body Holds

How often should you work out?

There’s going to be a lot of individual variance here, that all comes down to one very important factor.

You should work out the amount of days per week you can be most consistent with.

And you want to allow adequate time for rest.

One thing that most people don’t realize is that muscles do not grow in the gym during your workouts.

They grow after the gym with adequate rest.

When you’re at the gym, pumping out a sick bicep curl, you are actually damaging your muscle fibers.

After resting the muscle, your body will repair the muscle by fusing it with nearby satellite cells, and through that repair is where it grows.

You want to maximize your training by allowing for sufficient rest time.

In general muscles need 2-3 days of rest before it becomes optimal to work them again.

So, you can choose anywhere from 2-6 days working out.  Though, I recommend staying somewhere in the 3-5 range.  However 2 times a week is great for beginners, and 6 times a week can be effective for advanced trainees.

So let’s get into how to split some of these up


The Full Body Split

This is every workout consisting of working full body.  Upper, lower, abs, all of it’s jam packed into one efficient workout.  This can work well for those who choose to workout 2-3 days a week.  Anything over that and I would choose a different split, as you are not going to be able to get that ideal rest time in between workouts.

The Upper/Lower Split

This is splitting up your workouts into designated upper body days, and designated lower body days.  This one works great for 2 or 4 days a week.  Again, because you’ll get plenty of time to let your muscles rest in between.  In fact the 4 days a week upper/lower split is probably my favorite one, as you get to hit each muscle group twice a week with plenty of time for recovery in between.  And besides, who doesn’t love training legs twice a week?

The Upper/Lower/Full Body Split

This one works well for a 3 day a week only.

Many people freak out about only working out 3 days a week.  Personally, I’ve done many many phases of training at 3 days a week.  And during the 3 day a week training phases is where I’ve seen some of my best results, both for strength and muscle growth.

If you are giving your all to those 3 days, they will be plenty, and you will feel it.


Advanced trainees only.  This one works great for a 5 or 6 day a week program.  For 6 days, you can do all pushing movements one day, all pulling movements another, all legs the next, then repeat.  This way while your “pushing muscles” are resting, you’re working your “pulling muscles”, and vice versa, and everything is all happy with rest periods.

You can also combine this with an upper/lower split for a 5 day a week program.  So your week would be Push/Pull/Legs/Upper/Lower.

Putting It All Together

Alright, your coffee you started at the beginning of the article is empty by now (go refill it).

And you’ve just received a fuck ton of information (yes that’s an actual metric).

So now what do you do with all this?

Want to know the secret, dirty truth?

There is no such thing as the perfect training routine.

A lot of this comes through trial and error.  Seeing what works, and what doesn’t work.

Researching (hey step 1 complete, nice work!), hypothesizing, experimenting, and repeating.  You know… the scientific method you learned about in 7th grade and never thought you’d use again.

But as far as actually putting this in to practice goes, if you want to work out 3 times a week for example, go look at the 3 times a week option listed above.  Choose a few compound exercises to start with, choose muscle gain exercises, and an ab movement or two.  Put them together into three nice little workouts, and then go try it for four weeks.  Not just one week. Try it for four, so you can really see how the results develop, how your strength progresses, and how your form on each exercises progresses.

After that, try something else.  Keep the concepts the same, try more movements, different set/rep schemes.  And most importantly, have fun with it.

If now that you’re end of this article, there’s a monkey in your head banging two cymbals together, it’s okay.  I know I just threw a lot of information at you.

If you need help, comment below, or e-mail me at [email protected]

I’ll be happy to help you come up with your program, or critique one you’ve already written and offer guidance.

If you feel like online coaching might be a better option for you, go ahead and fill out my form and see if we are a good fit to work together.

Otherwise, I hope you’ve taken something out of this article, and feel confident in how to design a strength training program.


Much love,




Everything You Need To Know To Get Your First Chinup

Everything You Need To Know To Get Your First Chinup

Aside from maybe throwing a tree over your head, chinups rank among the top exercises of general badassery (it’s a word, don’t challenge me).  And that’s why, whenever I ask a new 1:1 coaching client if they have any performance based goals, most of them tell me they want to be able to do their first bodyweight chinup.

So if you’re working on joining the crowd of badass women or men who want to crank out bodyweight chinups, I’m here to give you the beginner’s guide to walk you through some tips and progressions so you can hit that first one, and then walk away from the chinup bar and scream like a warrior.

*Warrior cries may vary in volume and intensity

Everything You Need To Know To Get Your First Chinup


Packing The Shoulders

Packing your shoulders is a way to keep your shoulders safe, and to help engage your lats.  In a chinup, the muscle that is primarily being targeted is the lats, so you sure as hell want to make sure those are engaged.  An unpacked shoulder is basically just your shoulder hanging out all willy nilly like a strand of cooked spaghetti.

Nobody wanted a wet noodle arm trying to get a chinup.  It’s just not going to work.

What packing your shoulders actually is, is both retracting and depressing your scapula at the same time.  In other words, sending your shoulders down and back.  Think about keeping your shoulders not shrugged, and down away from your ears.  As well as pulled back, like you’re squeezing a pencil between your shoulderblades.

Here’s a quick demonstration of what a packed vs. an unpacked shoulder looks like.


Creating Tension

One of the main components for strength is creating tension throughout your entire body to produce more strength.  Your body is a kinetic chain.  So each part of your body is a link towards the rest. So keeping all those links in the chain tight is going to help you generate more strength.

You’re going to want to create tension throughout your entire body.  So as you are in your chinup, keep everything tense.  Think about keeping your glutes squeezed tight, like you’re trying to impress someone behind you.  Your core is braced, like Mike Tyson is about to deliver a shot to the body.  Keep your quads flexed, knees locked out tight.  And of course… shoulders packed.


Chinups Vs. Pullups

Is it a chinup or a pullup? Well, they’re different.  And they’re both challenging in different ways.  A chinup has an underhand (or, supinated) grip, while the pullup has an overhand (or, pronated) grip.  Both exercises primarily target your latissimus dorsi (or as most gym bros say, your lats), and are a great exercise for buiding a strong back.

The chinup involves a lot more bicep and chest activation, while the pullup involves more lower traps.  Generally speaking, the chinup tends to be a bit easier than the pullup, so I like to start with chinups, and use pullups as a progression from that if desired.





When In Your Workout Should You Do The Chinup?

If chinups are your primary goal, they should be the very first exercise in every workout.  This goes for the variations I list later in the article as well.  This is because you want to focus all of your energy into the exercise you actually want to get better at.  If you’re placing your chinups/chinup variations later on in your workout, you will already be fatigued from the other things you are doing.  Therefore, you won’t have enough gas in the tank to be able to work efficiently at them.

For example, if you start your workout with some bicep curls, and then try to move on to your chinups, your biceps will be fatigued and it will make your chinups suffer.

Whatever your goal is for something you want to get better at, that should be first in your workout.


How To Perform Chinups, Do’s & Dont’s


– Hands shoulder width apart

– Start from the bottom, fully hanging.

– Keep everything tense

– Aim to hit your chest to be bar



– Have your hands touching each other

– Don’t jump up from the bottom position.

– Chicken neck towards the bar, or flail your entire body up.

– Aim for your nose to hit the bar

Exercises To Progress To A Chinup


Inverted Row

Consider the inverted row step one.  This is arguably one of the best exercises to work towards progressing to a chinup.  And it’s because the movement replicates that of a chinup, however it allows you to not work directly against gravity, as you are at an angle.  It also allows you to not have to pull up your entire bodyweight, since a lot of your body is being supported by the floor.

Now, don’t be fooled.  Just because this exercise is “easier”, don’t mean it’s actually easy.  They are deceptively difficult.  However, they are great for you are not quite ready for the exercises listed further below.  They can also be adjusted in difficulty according to where your strength is currently at.

How to perform the inverted row


The beginner level:

Put the bar up nice and high on the rack, put your feet flat on the floor, and bend your knees.

The intermediate level:

Keep that bar up nice and high on the rack, but this time keep your legs nice and straight (remember, total body tension we talked about earlier), and just your heels on the floor.

The advanced level:

As you get better and better at these, lower the bar on the rack.  Once you get to a point where you are nice and low on the rack, you are ready to move on.



Assisted Chinups

The next progression exercise is some type of assisted chinup.  These can be done in conjuction in your programming with inverted rows.  One day in your programming of inverted rows, and another with assisted chinups is a go-to of mine for my clients who are looking to build up to a chinup.

Whether it’s with a band or a machine doesn’t so much matter, but there are pros and cons to both.  Which of course, we will deep dive into in this section.


Machine assisted chinups

These are great because you can very easy manipulate exactly how much counterweight you are using.  Which also makes it easier to track your progress as week to week or month to month you use progressively less counterweight.  On top of that, you get an equal amount of resistance at both the top and the bottom of your chinup.  The negative part here however, is that it’s a little more difficult to generate total body tension, since most machines you have to put your knees on the machine to make it work.  So with this, you are able to create tension through the upper body, but creating tension below the waist becomes more difficult

How to perform a machine assisted chinup



Band assisted chinups

These are great in their own right as well.  The good thing here is that you are able to create more total body tension, since it exactly simulates what a chinup is.  It just gives you a little extra help to get up.

With a band however, it offers you more assistance at the bottom of your chinup, which incidentally, is the point where people generally struggle the most.  That being said, I think it’s still a great way to get some solid chinup reps in, and build confidence.

As you progress with this one, you can start using a thinner and thinner band as time goes on and you get more practice (and more strength).  Once you can do 8-10 reps with a thick band, you can move on to a thinner one.  And once you get to the thinnest band, you’re ready for the next progression.

How to perform a band assisted chinup

As far as choosing which variation goes, the most obvious component here will be accessibility.  If your gym doesn’t have an assisted chinup machine, then go for the bands.  If both are an option, you can vary it up with either both, or which method you prefer.  There is no right or wrong answer here.


Eccentric Only Chinups

These require a great deal of strength.  Once you’ve mastered either the band/machine assisted pullup, using either a thin band for 6-10 reps, or 25-35% of your bodyweight in counterweight for 6-10 reps, you’re ready to give these a shot.

This one is a great way to practice the chinup, without actually pulling yourself up.  “Eccentric” refers to the lowering portion of the chinup.  So all we are doing here, is standing on a box, a bench, someone’s head…, getting your chin over the bar, and slowly lowering.

This is a great way to train the same muscles you use in a chinup… without actually doing a full chinup.

Think of it this way.  If you’re carrying a heavy piece of furniture, you can lower that furniture down.  But, you may not be able to lift it back up again.  The eccentric chinup is the same principle.

Once you can get 5-8 of these for a slow count of 3, you’re ready to move on to the big kahuna.

How to perform an eccentric only chinup

Additional Chinup Tips & Tricks


Adding Frequency

A great way to get better at chinups, is do more of them.  Like with anything, the more you practice something, the better you get at it. This concept applies to strength training as well (as long as you’re not completely and utterly overdoing it).

One great way to add frequency, is start every workout with chinups.  Leg day?  Start with chinups, then hit your legs after.  And of course, this can be any of the chinup variations I mentioned above (assisted, inverted rows, eccentric).

I wouldn’t do any more than three sets per workout, and no more than 4 days a week.


Cluster Sets

Cluster sets involve doing a couple reps, short rest, a couple more, repeat.  This is a great way to put more intensity into your sets, by adding more demand, and getting more reps in.

So a cluster set might look like 2-2-2-2-2 for a total of ten reps, with 10 seconds in between.  Maybe a 3-3-2, for a total of eight.  There’s no hard and fast rule on how many to do, but taking that 10 second rest will absolutely help you get more in.

These work very well for any of the variations listed about, but I particularly like these for machine assisted chinups, because they will allow you to use less counterweight on the machine than you might if performing 8-10 without rest.

These are also great when you do get your bodyweight chinups, to be able to add more volume and get better at doing them.



Lose Bodyweight

Easier said than done right? But logically, losing bodyweight will mean you have less weight to pull up to the bar.  Losing weight is simple, but not easy.  As an online personal trainer who works with several clients whose goal is to lose fat, I know how frustrating and confusing it can be.  So if you’re looking for a guide on that as well, check out my article How To Lose Body Fat Forever.  Or if you’re looking for someone to take all of the guesswork out of it for you.  Apply for 1:1 coaching with me, and we can get you losing body fat, and/or improving your chinups.


Have Patience

Another one that’s easier said than done.  But it takes time.  For me, it took me at least a year to be able to get a bodyweight chinup.  And even longer to reach my goal of 10 chinups (I’m still working at it, but close).  It could take you months, it could take you years.  But remember, there is no finish line, so there’s no race.  Be patient, enjoy the process, and don’t give up.


Much Love,


How To Track Calories

How To Track Calories

To lose body fat, you need to eat fewer calories than your body uses.

It’s simple, but not easy.

Counting calories is one of the most effective tools to lose body fat.

It can also seem very daunting, and like a chore.

In this article, I’ll break it down for you, and make it seem a lot less daunting.


What Are Calories?

Simply put, calories are a measurement of energy.  Just like an inch is a measurement of distance, a pound is a measurement of weight, and a buttload is a measurement of quantity.  Your body uses the calories you eat and drink to support functions like breathing, thinking, walking, and twerking (do people still do that?)

Calories that you eat or drink that are above what your body needs for these essential functions gets stored in your body as fat.

Likewise, having calories below what your body needs will cause you to burn any stored fat.

Think of it like watering a plant.  The more water (energy) you give it, the more it will grow (fat stored).  The less water (energy) you give it, the more it will wither away (fat lost).


How Many Calories To Eat?

To determine how many calories you should eat, start with this online calculator

Remember, that less is not always better.  It may seem tempting to choose the lowest possible number for fat loss, but it is very unsustainable to actually do.

Your energy levels will be low, you will always be hungry and miserable, and you will probably have the mood of Jack Torrance at the end of The Shining.

It will also lead you to go off track a lot more frequently.   Just don’t do it.


Where To Start?

Given that we are constantly on our phones, one of the easiest ways to track calories is through a calorie tracking app, here’s a few of the most popular ones:

  • MyFitnessPal
  • LoseIt!
  • FatSecret

Note: If you are the kind of person who does not like using apps, phones, or technology in general, no worries.  The ol’ pen and paper trick will work great here.  You can use Google to search for calorie values, and log in a notebook, chisel it in stone, or paint it on the side of your house.  

How To Input Portions

For beginners to calorie tracking, I recommend weighing all, or at least most of your food on a food scale for the first 2-4 weeks.

Let me be clear here in saying that for the vast majority of people, weighing everything that goes into your body is unnecessary (special cases include physique competitors, someone trying to make weight for a competition, etc.).

With that being said, weighing your food can be a great tool to help you learn to eyeball portion sizes later on.

So, I don’t really want you to be weighing food as a long term strategy.  Over time, it will become tedious, and most people will want to stop doing it, and build a negative relationship with calorie tracking because of how much time it takes to weigh out all their food, input into their app, take a selfie with it, and then take it to the Senior Prom.

For now, just think of it as a learning tool to help you better understand what a portion size looks like.

Apart from weighing everything, measuring cups can be a great tool as well.  It’s slightly less accurate than tracking, but calorie tracking is inherently inaccurate anyways.

Nothing is ever going to be perfectly spot on, and that is okay!

In fact, food labels are allowed a margin of error of up to 20%.  So don’t ever stress about being perfect, it’s a losing battle.

Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and calorie tracking.

But the closer you can get, the better.



What Kind Of Foods To Eat

In the first section, we talked about calories being a measurement of energy.  This means that 200 calories is always equal to 200 calories (just like 1 mile is always 1 mile).

So 200 calories of broccoli, and 200 calories of Hershey’s Kisses, is still 200 calories.  However, 200 calories of broccoli is probably going to make your body feel a lot better than 200 calories of Hershey’s Kisses.   Kind of like walking 1 mile on wet sand is going to feel better than walking 1 mile on hot gravel.

The healthier, more nutritious options will feel a lot better and keep you fuller longer, but the more delicious options will keep you going by not restricting yourself from them, so be sure to include a mix of both.

Prioritize the more nutritious foods, and fit the goodies in later. Remember when your parents told you to eat your vegetables first? It still applies.

At the end of the day, as long as you are able to keep your total calories in check, you will lose body fat.  For a more comprehensive guide, see my article How To Lose Body Fat Forever


How To Track Homemade Meals

Alright, so let’s say you’re cooking up your famous, award winning chili.  You’re going to make 4 servings of it, and you’re going to eat one today.

Step 1 is going to be to measure out everything that’s going into the pot.   All the beans, meat, cheese, broken glass (just kidding, don’t eat broken glass).

Step 2 will be to divide all that by four, and there’s your calories for that meal.

This applies to things besides chili of course.


When You Go Out To Eat

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 (and sometimes you can just let loose a little too).

It Pays To Plan Ahead

Structuring your day ahead of time can be a helpful tool in keeping you on track and within your calorie guidelines.

If you already know it’s Tuesday, and you never miss a Taco Tuesday, log those tacos in your calorie tracker in the morning, and structure your day around it.

This way, you have a picture of what your day will look like in the morning, so you can plan what your breakfast will be, log it.

Plan what your lunch will be, log it before you eat it, and then any snacks you may want to have can be added as you go.


Too Long Didn’t Read Version

Download MyFitnessPal, weigh your food, and put it in the app.

Use this online calculator to find out how many calories your body needs.

Eat a little under for fat loss, a little over for muscle gain.

Plan your meals ahead, and know that everything is trackable, even if it’s not an exact science (calorie tracking never is).

The longer you calorie track, the easier it will get.  So keep at it!


Talk soon,