Tag Archives: Muscle

Losing Weight but not Size, Losing Size but not Weight, Losing my Mind, not Weight or Size.

My blogs “I’m losing inches (but not pounds)” https://mytrainerchris.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/im-losing-inches-but-not-pounds/ and I’m losing weight (but not size) https://mytrainerchris.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/im-losing-weight-but-not-size/ have been the two of the top four most viewed four here on My Trainer Chris.  

I fully expect that one will fall off the top four chart when I post a blog titled “Win a Date with Chris”, but I haven’t gotten around to jotting any blog notes on the topic as of yet.

The popularity of my weight loss/size loss blogs brings me to today’s post.  The love-hate relationship with the scale


I don’t see the scale as an inherently bad or good thing.  The good part is that I can see the scale when I step on it.  

I have a morning routine that I’ve been following for a little while and thus far things have been going exceptionally well.  This is especially surprising for me since I was not formerly the type of guy one would describe as a morning person.  Retiring with more than two decades of military service can apparently swing the pendulum either way, with some people continuing to rise early and others saying “I’m sleeping past 5 a.m because I can.”


Guys: Here’s yet another way to annoy your partner.

One thing that is not part of my morning routine, and frankly never has been, is checking my weight on the scale.  In my opinion this act has an amazing ability to set the tone for the rest of your day.   I don’t like giving up that much power to anything.

Where the scale is a great thing:

It’s portable and can be done in the privacy of your own home.

It can be bought at a reasonable price.

It can help provide a boost of motivation.

It gives a quick estimation of where you currently stand.

Where the scale is not such a great thing:

The scale provides a numeric reading, that like most other sources of information may not give the most accurate reflection if you losing fat or not.  I think of it as the MSNBC of fat loss.

The scale is not the alpha and omega and should not be thought of as such.

The scale can also provide demotivation if the number on the scale does not even meet your lowest levels of expectations.  I’ve seen that heartbreak firsthand more than a few times and it never get easier.  This fellow trainers is a price you pay for caring about your client.  


If your wardrobe closet looks like this please contact me immediately. 

For my weight loss/size gain clients, I initially advise they check their weight based on my highly un-scientific, yet always honest “favorite clothes test.”   It’s simple and quite straight forward.  

(1) Find the clothes you currently love wearing the most, it doesn’t matter what it is. 

A t-shirt and shorts counts just as much as a little black evening dress or polo shirt and khaki’s.  What’s important here is that YOU LOVE how you make those clothes look.

(2) Take a long hard honest look at yourself in the mirror and while not looking at the mirror.  Mirrors provide a visual reference, but looking away from the mirror means you have to rely on your body to tell you how it thinks the clothes fit.


“I love how I look in Orange, but my waist and hips look like a single unit.”

(3) Date and List the areas of the clothing that you like, dislike or feel could use improvement.  “Too tight in the butt, but good in the thighs.”  “Arm holes are perfect, waist is too tight all around.”  Be honest, fair and highly specific.

(4) Put your clothes away, exercise, eat smart, enjoy your day and re-test in two-weeks. 

 “But he said wear clothes that I make look great right now, I want to be smaller/bigger!   Yes I did, trust me on this one.  If you’ve read this far I imagine you’re willing to read a little further.

 “Wait….he didn’t say get on the scale and record my current weight!”  That’s right I didn’t.  Why? Because clothes will always tell the truth. Besides, I did my due diligence and already recorded your scale weight, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio and circumference measurements.

Hypothetically imagine that body weight was constant and there was zero variability.  This morning I weighed 170 lbs post-evacuation and my most dehydrated state.  My body fat reading said I was at 14% body fat.  Numerically this works out to 146.2 lbs (64 kg) lean muscle mass and 23.9 lbs (10.8 kg) fat mass.

In a typical week my weight fluctuates between a high of 175 lbs to a low of 167 lbs.  In a dieting stage I might drop down to the 160 without even seeming to try.  The reality of the situation is that scale weight is subject to some variation.  My actual weight is probably right around 165 lbs.  The asymmetry of my -3 lb or =5 lb weight swing may be more common that I originally thought, but -3/5 will not be common to everyone.


I’m pretty good with plate and kettlebell weight, this stuff will take a little while to figure out.

“Scale weight” can be expressed in the following formula:

Scale Weight = True Weight + Weight Variance

True Weight: The weight that you would be in the hypothetical situation I presented above.

What is weight variance: In a nutshell weight variance is the little things that add or subtract from your weight.  

Glycogen stores. This relates to carbohydrates you consume. For every gram of carbohydrate that your body stores via glycogen, it also stores three grams of water. If you are carbohydrate-depleted (such as in the Atkins Diet), you will be at the lower end of your variance. Conversely, if you feast on carbohydrates, you will be at the upper end of your variance.

Water retention and depletion. If you consume more sodium than usual, you will probably retain water. If you drastically cut sodium, you will release water.  Your body adjusts its levels accordingly through hormone response.  This is not something you can do forever and it good. Combat athletes in MMA and Wrestling have to cut weight for the weight class and bodybuilders and physique competitors cut water to improve their appearance on stage.  Both of these situations are meant to be temporary.

Menstrual bloat. Women retain water during their cycle. In some cases quite a bit more than they retain off-cycle. This is where monthly weight checks come in hand.


“My scale needle moves like a epileptic stripper.”  

Your scale can swing erratically when dieting often due to the fact that glycogen is a much more volatile than fat. Fat loss occurs slowly, while glycogen levels can swing wildly. Let’s see what happens at both ends of glycogen storage.

The Full Tank ( You’re bloated from binge eating)
Binge eating typically means more glycogen will be retained afterwards and you’ll see an increase in the scale. This is only water weight. This is often the case when clients return from holidays or party weekends and complain that they’ve gained all the weight back.  I could be honest and give the client the biological facts that  If they find themselves gaining a ton of weight after a bad day of dieting, that is it only temporary and that their true weight didn’t move much, it’s simply subject to the laws of thermodynamics. Conversely, I could look them squarely in the eyes and say “yep, we needs to gets to some sprinting and lifting of heavy things, you ate it….you’re paying it.”


Weight Loss in 3 E-Z Steps!

(1) Download photo of handsome and charming trainer. 

(2) Post photo just over your eyebrow level on your refrigerator.

(3) Consider what sort of things this handsome and charming trainer will do to you when he finds out you ate 5 doughnuts.

That ought to do it.

Water bloat does seem make you look fatter than actual fat.  A person with a true weight of 200 lbs and bloats to 205  lbs  look fatter than if his/her true weight were 205 lbs.  If you find yourself gaining a ton of weight after a bad day of dieting, remember, this is only temporary. Your true weight hasn’t moved much; it’s still subject to the laws of thermodynamics.

While dieting, take weekly pictures of yourself when you adhere to your nutrition plan. I advise taking these photos in two-piece bikinis or shorter shorts for men.  Covering yourself up with a big one-piece swimsuit or near pant length board shorts will not do.  After you’ve lost some weight, take pictures again after eating wildly for a day. In the Las Vegas area we have numerous buffets willing to take your facilitate this test.  Find the two pictures that match up with the same weight. You’ll notice that you will look fatter in your latter pictures, even if your true weight ls lower.

The Tank is on E: Carb Depletion
Paleo or ketogenic style diets usually cite the rapid loss of weight at the very start, as well as the rapid influx of weight when they cease their low-carb diet. This isn’t due to some magical powers from copying the diet of pre-historic man. Rather, this is due to the rapid purging and subsequent replenishment of glycogen.  

Clients will also often gain lean mass and/or increased glycogen capacity during a diet, especially with a mild deficit. For that reason, scale weight may remain the same even if fat loss is occurring.

It’s a story…

The scale provides a “word”, in this case the word happens to be a number.  A single word never tells the whole story. Words need to be strung together to form sentences, which in turn form paragraphs.  Put enough paragraphs together and you have your story.

Waist circumference.   Waist measurements are far more useful at determining overall direction of fat loss. The most comprehensive method is to take measurements at the navel, two inches above, and two inches below.  Compare with last measurements to see if circumference decreases, stays the same, or increases respectively. Add the sum of the three measurements to determine overall direction that fat loss/gain is occurring.  Short course goal is to get female clients to a waistline below 35 inches (below 32 if Asian) and males below 40 inches (38 if Asian.)

Strength.  A baseline series of tests must be conducted in order to assess strength.  The tests need not be complicated nor should the exercise programming revolve around the exact techniques in the test.  If strength is measurably increasing, then you are likely increasing your weight from lean body mass as well.  My favorite tests: Air Squats, Push-Ups, Pull-Ups/Chin-Ups and an Abdominal Exercise.  As many repetitions the athlete can perform in 2 minutes each with standardized break period in between tests.

If I were to program 100% around those exact exercises then there is the distinct possibility that the athlete would biologically adapt to getting better at taking the test and only get as strong as they would need to be.

Bloat.  Bloat means variance is going to happen with your measurements. This will vary from person to person, but it will be areas that seem to swell up after a binge. 

As the trainer, or at home you want to read “true” weight? as much as possible.   You should not interpret measurements when bloat is high. Wait for it to subside (especially if it’s caused by a menstrual cycle) and eat clean for a few days (if you hit up a couple of your favorite buffets.)

or do it,be mad at the scale, see me and we’ll talk about some sprinting and barbell love.

T.G.O.A.T (The Greatest of all time)

Over the past two-weeks I’ve had the chance to catch up on my reading and put everything in place before heading back to work.  I will be the newest rockstar to join the team of Las Vegas Iron House this Friday.  I already have a few athletes itching to get back in the gym and quite frankly I’m ready to do my thing.


NSCA,ACSM,NASM,ACE,CrossFit,StrongFirst and a ton of others…time for my geekiness to come out of the closet.

Believe it or not, I have a second stash of fitness books in another room of the house plus at least one in every bathroom. Buying a house with two walk-in closets was indeed a good buy.  Yes, I do rock those hot pink shoes and yes, those are the red Nano sneakers from the now famous “Bro Hug of Doom” situation.

Funny Pink Shoe Story: Not long ago I caught an XXL bodybuilder guy staring at my pink shoes, he caught me catching him staring at them and when I asked  “I bet you’re wondering if these babies come in your size?”…..I almost fell over myself when he responded in a rather high pitched lisped voice “Yesss….where did you get them, they’re sooo hotttt.”


Recently I took part in an online discussion on “The Greatest of all time” exercises (and you thought this blog was going to be about me!) I am pleased to announce that I won the group consensus based on my personal favorites and ability to state my case for each.

Enjoy the awesomeness….


Technical Point: Note the head/neck position on all three squats.  The head/neck maintain a neutral position on all versions throughout the range of motion.  Many coaches have the athlete look up slightly during the lift, I believe this affects the spinal movement involved in the lift and have my athletes keep their spine in line.  On the low bar squat, I have my athletes initiate the lift from just above their butt when coming up from the bottom position.

1.  The Low Bar Barbell Back Squat.   Athletes: Hopefully this photo illustrates why I am so particular with this lift,  My favored Squat is the low bar back squat, however I’m well aware that this is not a wise option for all athletes.  I will select the Bench Squat, Air Squat, Front Squat, Goblet Squat or Zercher Squat as applicable.  Basically,if I’m your coach and you have legs you’re going to squat.


Pavel, the Godfather of Kettlebells in the U.S.A.  A common mistake I seen is people attempting to “Squat Swing” the Kettlebell instead of swinging it using a hip snap and driving the lats to retract it.  The CrossFit/American version of the swing brings the Kettlebell overhead, the hardstyle version pictured above is often the scaled version seen in CrossFit.

2. The Hardstyle Kettlebell Swing.   I’m learning the intricacies of the hardstyle swing and more importantly how to coach it to others so that it can join the Turkish Get Up, Press and Goblet Squat that I already coach.  Based on sheer number of calories burnt in a short span and the multitude of benefits the swing is among the top choices.


On Sprinting, I’m not looking for Usain Bolt times, I’m looking for YOUR best time.

3. Uphill Sprinting.  The Rules of Hill Sprint Club:  1. We loves us some Hill Sprints.  2. We talk about how much we loves us some Hill Sprints.  3. We stop if we need to, not because it’s convenient or because we see some squirrels doing neat things.  4. Any number of people can sprint at a time, it’s you versus you, not you versus them.  5. One best sprint at a time, everytime.  6. Shirts optional, good shoes mandatory…unless you’re into the naturism/ barefoot running thing (local laws apply.)  7. Sprints will get easier the more you do them, the lighter you get or the stronger you are. 8. If this is your first time at Hill Sprint Club, you will sprint like you just committed a crime.


What is not shown is the poking of the head through the arms.  Technical Points: Athletes new to the Thruster (or Press or Push-Press) will often put the bar either too far behind or in front of themselves.  The bar should have a nearly vertical path with minimal lateral travel and the head pokes through the hole created by the press action.  The athlete must drive through their heels on all reps, after the first rep they can take advantage of the bounce reflex action created at the bottom of the squat.  Regardless of what weight my athletes actually press, we ALWAYS start with just the bar for warm-ups.  Side note (Because I feel like giving technical love tonight) You can press around 33% more in the push press than you can in the regular press due to the momentum created by the partial squat.

4. Thrusters.  Popularized by CrossFit and a mean lady named Fran.  Well covered here on MTC and one of the staple lifts in my programming.  The entire kinetic chain gets the love with this exercise and I feel it pairs well with the Deadlift.


Technical Points: The diagrams hands appear to be too far ahead and the head should be in a neutral position. I prefer to have the athletes thumb knuckles in line with their nose and their head and neck in line with the spine, with the chin roughly a tennis ball distance from the chest.   For the Push-Up position variant, I line the hands and wrists in line with the shoulders and lock down the lats and shoulders.  The diagram fails to animate the posterior chains contribution to the plank. Coaches: I’ve had good fortune covering the elbow plank before teaching the deadlift and the hardstyle swing.  The feedback the body gives the athlete from a proper plank is the same feedback that it gives in the final positions of the deadlift and the hardstyle swing.  I would add that this feeling is the same in many other standing lifts.

5. The Plank. A very good exercise, but has the limitation that once the athlete can perform it for 60 seconds there will need to be a modification made since it will reap less benefits. My favorite version is a push-up position plank done between two-benches while rowing a heavy dumbbell.


Nearly every muscle in the body contributes to the deadlift.

Technical notes: There is no need to flip the head back before,during or after the lift. Just look straight ahead and maintain spinal alignment during the entire pull. In the bottom position this means you will be looking downwards at a slight angle.  I coach my athletes to take in a big breath before the pull to maintain abdominal and intra-thoracic pressure and exhale at the top of the pull while squeezing the glutes hard.  The image shows both hands in the Overhand position, some lifters will alternate hands (1 Over, 1 Under) when lifting heavier loads.  I am OK with this but suggest they switch their grips per set.. Lifting over-under alters the load across the joints, tendons and muscles unevenly and can lead to muscle imbalances if both sides are not trained evenly.  Deadlifting is also a key technique in learning the Olympic Lifts.

6. The Deadlift. Humorously covered here: https://mytrainerchris.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/so-a-powerlifter-hugged-me-the-other-day-at-the-box/


Not shown in the Turkish Get Up image is the use of both hands to pick up and park the Kettlebell while laying down.  Technical Point: One of the more common mistakes I see is athletes doing is extending their shoulder instead of keeping it packed in.  I believe that “re-packing” the shoulder and engaging the lats prior movement should be emphasized.  On a side note, I believe that the images 1-4, or possibly even just 1-3 can help rehabilitate a shoulder.

7. The Turkish Get Up. A full-body exercise that is far more taxing than it looks, but I suppose the same could be said about any of T.G.O.A.T exercises.


Pictured above is the Farmers Walk Dumbbell Variant.  Barbells, Kettlebells or Odd sized objects can also be used. Note the amount of work the back muscles alone are contributing to the Farmers Walk.  Technical Tip: Go for distance with a given weight. Increase the distance or the weight weekly in a linear progression. The use of straps,lifting hooks or padded gloves is ill advised as (A) Straps and hooks allow for cheating…therefore suck. and (B) Padded Gloves alter your natural grip.

8. The Farmers Walk. A mentor of mine once shared with me his entire strength and conditioning program.  To pay it forward and earn good Karma I shall do the same for you…

1. Pick heavy things up from the ground.

2. Press heavy things over your head.

3. Pick heavy things up and walk with them.

4. Pick heavy things up from the ground, Press it overhead and then walk around with it.

Progression: Pick up heavier things.

My mentor didn’t exactly use the word “things”, but you get the idea.  Fellow Coaches and Trainers: As simplistic as the program is, take a step back and tell me it doesn’t challenge many different fitness domains.  Remember that “heavy” is a relative term depending on the athlete and that strength is a skill that needs to be developed like any other skill.


Ali jump roped. So can you.  Technical Points.  Can’t jump rope? Put the rope on one side of your body and time your jump with the rope.  Go for time or revolutions.  I keep three different jump ropes on hand, one for speed, which hurts big time if you snap yourself with it, a heavy rope and a mid-weight rope.

9. Jump Roping.  It’s inexpensive, low-tech and takes up minimal space.  It’s a cardio workout that burn more calories than you would think, engages the upper and lower body and can be combined with nearly any training program save for rehabilitation.medical exercise and inclusive fitness.  Jumping Rope has been a staple of fighter training for many years, think for a moment about what fighters are training for and the physical demands of combat sports in general.   I do not program jump roping for athletes with certain medical conditions (such as osteoporosis) or with histories of joint problems.  I have had athletes complain of the “jiggle factor” when jumping rope, but unless the jiggles are in dissimilar directions I don’t care, I view jump roping as a “de-jiggler.”

“I’m losing weight! (but not size?)

Awhile back I posted a blog titled “I’m losing inches! (but not pounds!) which has turned out to be one of the more popular pages so far.  If you are new to the Mytrainerchris page, you can find it here: https://mytrainerchris.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/im-losing-inches-but-not-pounds/

It can be boggling,  how could a person weigh less, yet retain nearly the same size? Unless you are on a helium diet, the following are my usual suspects…

1. Measurement errors.  Body measurements including scale weight, tape measure, calipers and bio-impedence readers are imperfect.  Your body weight moves up and down throughout the day, in some cases up to several pounds/kg’s.  The foods foods you eat, the amount of water you can retain and how much your stomach bloats following a meal can all alter measurements.  In the case of skin fold calipers and measurement tape, a slight variation in placement can alter readings.

2.  Measurements need to be taken of multiple parts of your body.  Typically this includes the waistline, thigh, chest, shoulders and upper arm, calf and neck.  If you are only measuring the waistline, please note that this is usually the slowest portion of the body to reduce size.

3. Weight loss typically comes before size loss, but the amount of each is not equal nor exactly proportionate.  Losing weight means you lose fat, water and muscle.  The goal of course is to lose fat and maintain and preferably build muscle.

When you lose fat, which is less dense than muscle, you lose bulk.  When you lose muscle, you still lose weight, but you lose less size.


4. Your current workout program could be causing you to lose more muscle than fat.  During a recent 12 week transformation challenge, I noted a contestant who spent hours nearly everyday on the cardio equipment at a modest speed drinking fat-burner drinks.  I can only recall him lifting weights once.  In the end, he did indeed lose both size and weight, which is awesome and will certainly benefit his heart and joints, but his overall composition looked like a slightly smaller version of his previous self.  Personally I would have prescribed doing less exercise at a higher intensity, allow his body to recuperate between sessions and couple his cardio training with resistance to build muscle.


5. You body is a miser.  This taps off nicely with point #4, during endurance based exercises your body burns the muscle’s glycogen stores.  The more you train, the more your body becomes miserly with glycogen expenditure, better at refueling it and you become more bio-mechanically efficient, therefore expending less overall energy.  Therefore you lose less fat.

With resistance training, and varied workouts including HIIT, MIxed Martial Arts and CrossFit Workout of the Days, you’re utilizing other aspects of your muscles, and your body spends glycogen more freely.

With my current weight loss clients, I prescribe cardio after our resistance/HIIT training. I want to lower their glycogen stores before they engage in steady-state or interval cardio training.

“I’m losing inches! (but not pounds!)”

UPDATE 4-13-2014: The below blog has been one of the most popular entries on My Trainer Chris.  I’ve expanded on this topic here:


The day arrives where you decide that you want to get in shape, drop the excess body fat and generally try to live a healthier life.   You exercise, eat the right foods in the right amounts (OK, most of the time you do) and you do your level best to stay motivated and positive about your new lifestyle choices.

Congratulations!  You are awesome.  You make each day your own and are taking back your life.

Like every other person starting out on a new fitness plan, you often consult a device that becomes the alpha and omega of your progress.


When I say often, I really mean “Wayyyyyyyy too much.”

The scale only knows one thing: “How much does that thing on top of me weigh?”  First, let us presuppose the scale is accurate to the half-pound.  It will read ###.50 and you really are ###.50.

What the scale does not take into account is (1) How much is fat mass vs. lean mass?  (2) How much is the bone, organ or fluid content contributing? (3) How much is food that hasn’t passed through the digestive system?

So the scale only provides a small glimpse of the overall you.  Ideally you have more than one source of data to see your progress.  In my current practice I use the following (1) Scale Weight (at my gym for official readings, the clients home scale for unofficial checkups) (2) OMRON Bio-Impedence Bodyfat Reader (not my favorite, but is required by my employer) (3) Girth Measurements (4) Skinfold Calipers and my highly unscientific, yet brutally honest  (5) Favorite clothes test.


How can a person somehow lose inches off their body, yet somehow remain near the same body weight?  For some people (including some trainers) this seemingly does not compute.  The old line ” Bro…a pound of muscle weighs MORE than a pound of fat.” is illogical simply because a pound is a pound.  The fact is, a pound of muscle takes up less volume than a pound of fat.  Imagine if I filled a garbage bag with a pound of steaks and another with a pound of marshmallow fluff…which bag would appear bigger?  (Stop with the “Beefy vs Fluffy” jokes….I just caught the humor in my comparison.)


Now if the above image was too gross for you, allow me to put it this way….


The same lady at 155 lbs?  These types of images are used to sell weight loss products and I greet them with skepticism.  Note the obvious differences in lighting, posture, the quality and fit of the clothing, the facial expressions and hairstyle, the seeming forced protrusion and inhalation of the stomach.  Many before and after images are taken on the same day.  In the case of fat loss products using bodybuilders as models, the “after” photo could be an image of the bodybuilder in-season at a single digit body fat while the before could be them off-season when they are bulking themselves up.

Trainers: Yes, this has happened to me….several times as a matter of fact.  Your clients work their butt off, you put together a great program, they comply fully in both the diet and exercise components and you still get  a low weight loss number.  It can be frustrating.

My suggestions are as follows:  If your client has lost inches, but not pounds they are, or at least partly have experienced better energy levels, improved kinesthetic awareness and coordination, strength and cardio improvements, new found confidence and in some cases better morale.  If enough inches have come off, they are, or will soon be buying new clothes or altering their old clothes for a better fit.

Remind the client that it is the reduction of bodyfat, not body weight nor BMI is the first matter of importance.  Bodyfat and circumference of the waistline are both indicators of health risks,

Furthermore remind them that only the client (and trainer if applicable) see what the scale says, EVERYONE see’s what the inches say.

50 Shades of Trainers – Part 3

For those of you just joining the 50 Shades series, I invite you to the visit the previous blogs located here : https://mytrainerchris.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/50-shades-of-trainers-part-1/

and here:


now on to part 3…..

21.  Trainers: If you are not motivating, dependable or care about your clients results then you don’t belong in this career field.

22.  Clients:  If you are going to frequently no-show on your trainer without giving notice then you can expect a few outcomes: (1) Every workout session you DO make will be legs day.  (2) Your trainer won’t bother putting together any long term programming for you, and simply make up your workouts on the spot.   (3) The trainer might fire you. (4) You won’t see results. (5) If your a member of a box gym, your trainer will warn other trainers about your flakiness.

23, Adding visual emphasis to #22, Personally I consider you lucky if all you get is leg day workouts.  This is better than the other possible outcomes.  That said, you will wish you had one of these installed in your home:

Post Leg Day

24.  I’m convinced that one of the secrets to an effective workout is “looking cool.”    By this I mean lifting something or performing an action that is within your physical limitations and with proper form.  In my opinion, this young lady looks pretty cool:

SkirtSports_Gym-1024x1024While this man looks decidedly uncool:

back leg press



26.  A good trainer will keep #’s 24 and 25 in check, provided they are #21 and you are not #22.   Pretty cool how I linked those bits together huh?

27.  You trainers job is to motivate, educate, innervate and eventually graduate you into a lifestyle of fitness.  Their job is not just to “deliver a workout” or “scare your fat into a coma.”

28.  A good trainer knows when you truly need assistance, and when you need to accomplish something on your own.

Light weight baby

29.  There are, and always will be overly chatty people at the gym.  While I have nothing to support my belief, I firmly believe this is where the idea for noise cancelling headphone technology originated.  Overly chatty clients are something a good trainer can control, Overly chatty trainers cause me concern.   During my private workouts I try to focus on my own work and prefer the least amount of distractions possible.  There have been days I truly felt like this:


….and I know that I’m not alone in this sentiment.

30.  Your trainer should not be trying to sell you supplements beyond what has been medically proven as safe.  The list is fairly short: Protein, Creatine, Branch Chain Amino Acids, Multi-Vitamins and Fish Oil.

BudWhey frabz-I-clearly-dont-lift-But-lemme-tell-you-what-supplements-to-take-e7681f

Get off your butt!


A simple thought that I fully believe in….We were designed to move, and to move often.”

If not, we would have evolved looking more like this:


When we would much rather look sort of like this…


Prolonged sitting in both working conditions and at home has become commonplace in many peoples lives.  A sedentary lifestyle with little, if any form of exercise has been associated with numerous negative health effects including muscle loss, circulatory disorders, increased risk of diabetes, weight gain, obesity and cardiovascular disease.

Ever wonder why you feel so exhausted after a hard day of work….when you mostly sat down the whole time?  Blah blah blah “The job stress wears me out” Blah blah blah “I have a ton of work responsibility” Blah blah blah.

Results or Excuses.  Pick one, you can’t have both.

In my own work, I have worked with numerous clients with lumbo-pelvic hip complex issues, spinal instabilities and various other limitations that could be directly linked to a life where prolonged sitting was a significant factor.

Guess what? They are making a change in their lives and improving each week  Some are no longer in pain, all have improved range of motion, all have lost weight, gained muscle or at least improved the quality of their daily lives and can enjoy activities that they couldn’t do before.  Guess what else? They are busy people, with the same stresses and responsibilities that everyone else has.

According to Livestrong.com, the effects of prolonged sitting can have the following effects on your muscles alone:

Erector Spinae:  Most people slouch forward when seated. This is often because chairs lack the necessary ergonomic lumbar support necessary to keep the spine upright or computer screens are not correctly positioned. This slouched position places the erector spinae muscles in a stretched position. Prolonged stretching of this or any other muscle can result in weakness and, subsequently, injury.

Butt muscles. The largest muscle in your body, your glutes are in a stretched position when you are seated. Sitting for a long time can cause atrophy or weakening of your glutes and also make them less toned. Weak and essentially flaccid glutes, combined with weak errector spinae muscles, increase your risk of back injury especially when lifting — your glutes are your primary hip extensor muscle and are vital in any lifting-type movement. Weak glutes increase the load on your back muscles, which are also likely to be weak from extended periods of sitting.

Hip Flexors:  Your hip flexors oppose your glutes and are located on the front of your hips. Long periods of sitting can make these muscles short and tight. If you have tight hip flexors, when you stand or walk, the bottom of your pelvis is likely to be tilted forwards — this is called a posterior pelvic tilt. This pelvic anomaly flattens out the natural curve in your lower spine and increases your risk of back injury. A posterior pelvic tilt also makes your lower abdomen rounded and creates a pot-belly appearance.

Rectus abdominus:  The rectus abdominus, abs for short, is in a flexed and contracted position when you sit and slouch forward. Sitting this way for prolonged periods of time will make your abs shorter and tighter and may result in a rounded back posture called hyper-kyphosis. Tight abs pull you down and into a slouched posture, which makes your stomach bow outward.

Hamstrings:  Sitting in a chair or on a sofa involves keeping your knees bent for long periods of time. This places your hamstrings, located on the rear of your upper thighs, in a contracted and shortened position. Combined with tight hip flexors, tight hamstrings will pull your pelvis into a posterior tilted position, contributing to a flat lower back and rounded lower abdomen.

Gym Myths

Working in a gym is my idea of the near-perfect job.  I get to help people all day long and get to wear shorts or track pants to the office.  I am surrounded by other trainers with a variety of skills and knowledge and have a fantastic group of clients that I see on a regular basis.

I say near-perfect for two reasons.   (1) I can only stand listening to the same piped-in music for so long.  and (2) I have to dispute gym myths on a near daily basis.  As far as #2 goes, I calmly state what is scientifically proven factual, and I believe I do this without sounding like a pompous a$$.

I do not think I am the smartest person in the gym.  Never.  The more I read, the less I realized I knew in the first place.

That said, every day someone proves I’m not the dumbest guy in the gym either.

Tonight I will hopefully be able to shed a little light on some gym myths that truly need to be put to rest.

“You can turn fat into muscle”   This would be like turning lead into gold.  Fat and Muscle are two different substances and one cannot convert into the other.

“If you stop working out, your muscle will turn into fat.”  This probably came from the same guy that can perform the fat-to-muscle alchemy miracles.

“Squats are bad for the knees / Deadlifts are bad for the back”  This is true if your form for either of these exercises is poor.  Properly coached and performed safely both exercises have demonstrated exceptional abilities in rehabilitating the knees or back.  Now if someone says “I don’t squat/deadlift because of my bad knee/back.” Then they either don’t know any better, have poor form or know they suck at squats/deadlift and only want to do exercises they look good doing.

“Lifting weights makes you stiff and inflexible.”  This has long been proven false, yet still sticks around for some reason.  Weight training actually increases flexibility by moving joints, ligaments and the muscles through their full-range of motion.

“Eat less, Exercise More.”  The idea is that you are burning off more calories than you consume.  Under that interpretation you can lose weight.

The problem is the statement has a fatal flaw in it.

“Eat Less” means you are slowing down your metabolism.  “Work out more” means you are speeding it up.  This is like me telling you “Save your money, but max out your credit cards.

Although lengthier, try this instead “Eat mindfully and Exercise smarter.”  Generally if someone wants to lose a significant amount of weight, they typically lack the dietary discipline or knowledge to know what “Eat less” is.  6 doughnuts are less than 12, but that doesn’t erase the damage that the 6 doughnuts do.

Eating mindfully means eating whole natural foods that nourish your body, not exceeding your daily caloric needs and eating foods that don’t contain ingredients that are either impossible to pronounce or longer than this blog.  Eating mindfully means being a nutrient millionaire, yet being in the lower ends of the calorie tax bracket.

“Exercise smarter” has a catch.  First, any form of getting up and moving is better than not getting up and moving.  That said, there are exercises that are more beneficial to you than others.

For example, imagine your entire workout was composed of small isolation movements (bicep curls, calf press, seated leg extension etc.)  Although you are working muscles, they are relatively small compared to the muscles engaged during big exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, pull-ups and push-ups.  Squats by themselves require the effort of more than 200 muscles to accomplish the task.

Remember: Muscle is metabolically demanding.  Muscle tissue is roughly 8 times more metabolically expensive than fat.  Big muscles are more metabolically demanding, and can lift more than little muscles.

“But Chris, I can’t do a push-up/bench press/pull-up!” No worries, everyone has to start somewhere.  For every exercise there are numerous regression and progression techniques to get you there and make the best use of what you can accomplish.

Women and Weightlifting

Most of the women I meet who are thinking about hiring a personal trainer seem to have nearly the same goals.

(1) Lose  weight.

(1) Tone the arms, Especially that jiggly back half of the arm.

(1) Flatten the belly.  Especially that part below the belly button that “appears to go around the back when viewed in a certain light.”

(1) Trim the thighs.  Especially the part of the thighs that runs from the ankles to the rear of my pants.

(1) Round out the butt. Especially to give it some lift/perk/bubbling.

Absolute #1 criteria….Don’t make me all bulky!

With all those items covered, allow me to shed a little light on the subject on Women and Weightlifting and hopefully bring a smile to your face.

The WRONG personal trainer will tell you…

“High repetitions with light weights are the key to muscle tone.”

The RIGHT personal trainer will tell you…

Lifting a light weight for many (15+) repetitions has been conclusively proven to cause little muscle growth or strength gains.  This in turn makes it ineffective for fat burning.

Muscle Tone is simply having some muscle mass and a low enough bodyfat level to show it off.

The WRONG personal trainer will tell you…

“You can’t train like a guy, cause you ain’t a guy….here, grab that pink shake weight.”


First, I have to get this off my chest, there is no good reason for a dumbbell to be colored pink…even if it is part of the Malibu Barbie playset.  Secondly, there should be no room nor tolerance for a shake weight in any gym in the United States.  Third, I would be highly suspicious of any guy that buys a lady a shake weight as a present.

Now that I have ranted….

The RIGHT personal trainer will tell you…

Biologically speaking, it is incredibly difficult for a woman to become bulky regardless of how hard they train unless they are on a course of performance enhancing supplements.  Why is this? Because female testosterone levels are between 5-10% of the average males level.  In short course, it is 10-16x harder for a woman to gain muscle mass than a guy.

The WRONG personal trainer will tell you…

“I’m putting you on a program that will re-shape your muscles to make them long and lean, like a dancers!”

The RIGHT personal trainer will tell you…

There are no exercises that will change the shape of your muscles.  The muscle shape was a matter of genetics.  Yoga, Pilates or weight lifting will all strengthen and build your legs, but weight training will get you there the fastest.  That said, Yoga and Pilates have the added benefit of increasing your flexibility.

The WRONG personal trainer will tell you…

(Pick a flabby area)…”sure, I have an exercise that will burn off that particular section of your arm/leg/torso/butt.”

The RIGHT personal trainer will tell you…

Spot reducing body.fat is impossible.  Body fat reduction requires a whole body effort

P.S.  If you are training on your own, don’t be too afraid of trying a heavier set of weights.  Typically I’ve found the average woman to be 5-10 lbs stronger than she thought she was…and the average guy to be 5-10 lbs overly optimistic.