WHAT ARE DROP SETS?Drop sets are a training technique geared towards increasing muscle mass by performing an exercise, then reducing (dropping) the weight, and continuing to perform more reps until you reach failure. They were a favorite of Arnold Schwarzenegger and...
Varying the tempo on an exercise to manipulate the time under tension (TUT) is an excellent tool for building muscle and busting plateaus. It is also a great trick for making your in-home workouts more challenging if you are limited to a few lightweight dumbbells. TUT...
Which weighs more, muscle or fat? If you answered “they weigh the same”, you are correct. The difference is that muscle is denser so it takes up less space. To put it another way, if you gained 5 pounds of muscle and lost 5 pounds of fat, your body weight would stay...
As opposed to the traditional bench press, which primarily targets the chest, the close grip bench press primarily targets your triceps. In fact, aside from parallel dips, this exercise is in my opinion the best exercise for your triceps when performed correctly. When...
You may be wondering, “Should I be lifting to muscle failure? How do I know if I’ve hit failure?” In strength training, lifting to muscle failure means performing a specific resistance training activity enough times that the primary muscle cannot perform one more rep...
HIIT… No equipment needed! Are you missing out on one of the most efficient ways to burn fat and build lean muscle? High-intensity interval training, also known as HIIT, can be described as any workout that includes short bouts of intense activity followed by...
No exercise equipment at home?
Bodyweight circuits are a great way to burn fat and get some cardio in at the same time.
Here is how to do this.
Choose 4 or 5 exercises.
Be sure to include at least 1 lower body exercise, 1 upper body, 1 core, and 1 cardio or plyometric exercise.
Perform at a high intensity, completing 1 minute on each with little to no rest between exercises.
Rest up to 2 minutes upon completion of all exercises.
Repeat 2-3 more times.
Give it a try, I think you'll find that it is a lot harder than it looks!
- Coach Brian
P.S. With all of the gym shutdowns, I’ve been spending a good chunk of my time writing up in-home bodyweight, resistance band, and dumbbell workouts for my 1-on-1 online coaching clients.
Want 7 days of FREE workouts that you can do entirely from home?
All you have to do is sign up using this link in my bio ☝🏼
With gyms shut down everywhere for the foreseeable future, it’s as important a time as ever to make sure we are staying active and healthy. If you don’t have any workout equipment at home and need to make the switch, below is a list of what I believe to be the best pieces of in-home equipment, prices included. You don’t need them all, but it’s a good idea to invest in one or two of these items to allow for a complete full-body workout.
Jump Rope: Effective for high-intensity cardio, warm-ups, speed and agility, hand-eye coordination, footwork, and metabolic conditioning. A good rope starts at $10.
Resistance Bands: These allow you to do exercises you cannot do with your bodyweight alone, particularly, exercises for your back muscles that involve pulling. A good set of 5 resistance bands with handles and a door anchor starts at $21 on Amazon.
TRX Suspension Trainer: Many of the same exercises can be done with the TRX as resistance bands, however, the TRX also allows for some more challenging exercises that are performed suspended (feet hooked into the straps). These start at $149 with the door anchor included.
Pull-Up Bar: Pull-ups and chin-ups are very efficient because they work your biceps, triceps, forearms, lats, shoulders, core, and they improve grip strength. However, if you are unable to do a single pull-up or chin-up at this time, I would start with resistance bands and/or the TRX first. These start at $19.
Kettlebells: These allow you to do compound exercises, core exercises, rowing and pulling, curling, functional movements, and metabolic conditioning. These will vary anywhere from $13 to over $300 depending on the weight ranges you need and whether you buy just one or multiple kettlebells.
Adjustable Dumbbells: Although these can be expensive depending on the weight range you need, I consider them to be the best investment of all of these pieces of equipment. They allow you to do the most exercises, target all muscle groups, and they take up little space. Most can be adjusted from 5 pounds up to 52.5 pounds and start at $249.
- Coach Brian
WHAT REALLY HAPPENS WHEN WOMEN LIFT HEAVY WEIGHTS by @online.fitness.coach
“I am afraid that if I workout, my arms will get bigger. They are so big already and resistant to losing weight. If I gain muscle and I don’t lose any fat from that area, I can’t imagine…”
I understand the concern my new Instagram friend has. After all, fear of getting too bulky is one of the most common concerns among women who are new to strength training.
In reality, your chances of “accidentally” bulking up from lifting weights are about as good as replacing Danica Patrick on the racetrack because hey, you drive a car too right?
…Doesn’t work like that.
Nothing happens overnight. So if at any point, you felt like you’d reached your personal preference for muscle mass, you or your coach would simply adjust your training and nutrition plan for maintenance at that point. You won’t just wake up one morning and have accidentally gotten too swole.
One of the main reasons why it’s harder for women to put on a significant amount of muscle mass compared to men is that the balance of testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH) in women is far lower than in men (in terms of the general population). Both of these play a large role in building muscle mass. Some studies suggest that testosterone levels in women are as much as 15 to 20 times lower.
So it’s not that women can’t get bulky, it’s just that unless your training regimen, nutrition and supplementation plan are specifically geared towards putting on size, it won’t happen.
It’s also worth mentioning that “bulky” is subjective. What’s bulky to you, may not be bulky to someone else.
If you are just looking to lose some weight and get fit, your training regimen and nutrition plan will look vastly different than that of a female bodybuilder or powerlifter for example.
Now stop worrying about getting bulky and go lift something!
Know someone who needs to see this? Tag them below! 👇🏼
- Coach Brian
HOW TO USE YOUR HAND FOR PORTION CONTROL by @online.fitness.coach
Tracking calories and macronutrients via an app like MyFitnessPal is a terrific tool for staying on top of your fitness goals, especially for those who are just starting a fitness program and need to dial in their nutrition, or those who need to be as precise as possible with their nutrient intake as they prepare to step on stage.
Not only does it help to more accurately assess calories in versus calories out, but it creates mindfulness around snacking and gives you a better understanding of which foods are high in calories.
That said, it does require consistency and you do need to take a little time each day to record everything you eat and drink. Long-term, this may not be the best strategy for those who have very busy schedules.
The good news is that you don’t have to track calories forever. If you’ve never done it before, I recommend you do it for at least 3-4 weeks in order to gain a better understanding of how many calories you consume daily, which foods you eat that may have more calories than you thought, which foods contain the macronutrients you need for your goals, and what areas of your diet can be improved.
Once you’ve gotten a handle on this, if you decide tracking daily is not for you, you can simplify things by using your hand instead to estimate portion sizes.
To do this, use the following as a guide and try to eat like this at each meal 3 times a day. If you’d like to eat less or more often, simply adjust portions up or down:⠀
🥩 Protein: 2 or 3 palm-sized portions
🥗 Veggies: 2 or 3 fist-sized portions
🥔 Carbohydrates: 3 or 4 cupped handfuls
🥑 Healthy Fats: 2 or 3 thumbs
Know someone who could benefit from this guide? Send them here @online.fitness.coach
- Coach Brian
THE TOP 5 UNDENIABLE BENEFITS OF SQUATS by @online.fitness.coach
There are few exercises as effective for building muscle, and increasing strength and power as the squat. If you are not currently including them in your workout routine, you need to be. Here are 5 good reasons why:
1. Burn Most Calories In Shortest Amount Of Time: Because you are recruiting so many different muscles and they are so taxing on your body, you burn far more calories than you do with isolation movements. They are great for maximizing your time in the gym.
Speaking of maximizing time, one of the most efficient ways to burn more calories is to actually gain more muscle. For every pound of additional muscle you gain, your body will burn an additional 50-70 calories per day. So, if you gain 10 pounds of muscle, you will automatically burn 500-700 more calories per day than you did before.
2. Translate To Everyday Life: Squats are a “functional” exercise. Functional exercises help your body to perform normal everyday activities. You squat every time you sit down or get up out of your chair, lift a heavy piece of furniture, or pick your baby up and carry them. Learning how to squat correctly will help you to perform these tasks without throwing your back out.
3. Prevent Injuries: Studies show that when done properly, squats strengthen and tighten your knee ligaments as well as increase knee stability. Most athletic injuries involve weak ligaments and stabilizer muscles. Squats help prevent injuries from happening by strengthening these areas as well as improving flexibility and balance.
4. Increase Core Strength: Not only do squats strengthen the glutes, quads, and hamstrings, but they engage the core and require a great deal of core strength. You simply cannot squat heavy without a strong core.
5. Boost Testosterone: Squats cause the release of extra testosterone and growth hormone in your bloodstream. This helps to build more muscle and increase strength not only in your legs, but your upper body as well.
Know someone who could benefit from this post? Tag them below! 👇🏼
- Coach Brian
THE S.M.A.R.T. APPROACH TO GOAL SETTING by @online.fitness.coach
Have you ever set a goal only to fizzle out and fall back into your old habits 3 or 4 weeks later? I know I have.
Breaking old habits and replacing them with new one’s is hard, but not impossible.
Identifying your goal is the first step in taking something that has not yet happened, and turning it into a reality. HOW you set your goal will directly affect your outcome.
Here’s an example of how the S.M.A.R.T. approach looks as it relates to fitness:
✅ SPECIFIC - Details exactly what needs to happen. Ex: Lose 20 pounds, drop 6% body fat, and take 2 inches off my waist.
✅ MEASURABLE - Progress can be measured. Ex: Scale, body fat reader, and tape measurer.
✅ ACCOUNTABLE - Tell someone who will hold you accountable and won’t let you quit, what your goal is. This could be a loved one, best friend, workout partner, or a coach 🙋🏼♂️.
✅ REALISTIC - Is your goal realistic given the demands on your schedule? Ex: Losing 100 pounds in 3 months while working a full-time job with 3 kids is not realistic, but losing 20 pounds under those same circumstances is. A realistic goal is important for morale and motivation, but don’t use this an excuse to set an easily obtainable goal.
✅ TIMELY - Deadlines create the pressure we need to take action. Choose a timeframe you want to have achieved your goal by, put it in your calendar, and set weekly accountability check-ins and measurement reminders to ensure you are staying on track with your goals.
Lastly, come up with 5 strong reasons WHY this needs to happen. Examples of a strong “WHY” might include being able to play with your kids, avoiding health issues, looking good in a bathing suit, or simply having more confidence.
Write these down, and keep them where you can see them every day. Post them on your fridge, bathroom mirror, or carry them in your wallet.
Studies show that those who write down their goals are 50% more likely to achieve them... yet only 3% of adults actually do this. Be the 3%.
- Coach B
HOW TO ASSESS PROGRESS WITHOUT A SCALE by @online.fitness.coach
Follow me @online.fitness.coach for more daily fitness advice like this!
Body weight is certainly important, especially if your main goal is weight loss. However, most people make the mistake of relying solely on the scale as their ONLY indicator of progress. Let me ask you this…
Does your scale tell you how much fat you’ve lost and how much lean muscle you’ve gained?
Does your scale measure how many inches you’ve taken off your waistline?
Does your scale track your food to help you eliminate bad habits like drinking too much soda?
Does your scale know that you set a personal record on your squat today?
Does your scale show you the changes in your body composition between now and the time you started?
If your scale does all these things, then disregard this post. Your scale is way better than mine. For everyone else, make sure you have at least 3 OTHER WAYS to assess your progress besides the number on the scale.
When you’re on a fitness journey, there’s a lot more going on than just weight loss. You’re getting out of your comfort zone, trying new things, reinforcing positive habits, trading a little body fat for a little lean muscle, starting to feel better about yourself, getting stronger, sleeping well, and waking up with more energy.
The scale measures none of this.
Focus on improving every single day, not on the number on the scale, and with patience and consistent effort you will reach your goals.
Know someone who needs to hear this? Tag them below! 👇🏼 - Coach Brian
#FitnessNewbie #GymNewbie #NewToFitness #FitnessBeginner #WeightLossTips #WeightLossHelp #WeightLossMotivation #WeightLossDiet #WeightLossJourney #WeightLossDiary #HowToLoseWeight #FatLossTips #FatLossHelp #FatLossMotivation #FatLossJourney #Dieting #CalorieCounting #HealthyHabits #FitnessTips #GymTips #ExerciseTips #WorkoutTips #FitnessHelp #HealthTips #DietTips #FitnessProgress #FitnessResults #FitnessGoals #OnlineFitnessCoach #TheOnlineFitCoach
HOW TO DRINK ALCOHOL AND STILL LOSE WEIGHT by @online.fitness.coach
Follow me @online.fitness.coach for more daily fitness and nutrition advice like this!
If you're not careful, the weekend is where you can fall off the wagon and sabotage your weight loss efforts. You work hard, and sometimes you want to have a few drinks, but you don't want to undo all of your progress and hard work.
Here are 5 rules you can follow that will keep you moving in the right direction:
1. Workout in the AM so that you don’t interfere with exercise recovery, you burn some extra calories, and you rev your metabolism up for the rest of the day.
2. For breakfast and lunch, go high-protein high-veggies, and aim to keep it on the lighter side. For example, eggs for breakfast, salad with chicken breast for lunch. Don’t compound all of the extra carbs from booze with a high-carb breakfast like potatoes or cereal and than a high-carb lunch like pasta. Offset the carbs you’ll be drinking that night with protein and veggies during the day.
3. Stick to low-calorie drinks. Your best option is to go with liquor (whiskey, vodka, tequila, brandy, gin, etc.) on the rocks or with a zero-calorie mixer (club soda, seltzer water, diet soda, etc.). If that’s not your thing, go with wine or light beer. Beware of high sugar mixers as these will seriously increase the calories in your drink… and give you a mean hangover.
4. Avoid drunk food like pizza, tacos, fast food, greasy snacks and appetizers. I know this may not always be possible, but when it is, you again want to offset the influx of carbs with protein. A lot of times it’s not the actual alcohol people consume that causes the weight gain, it’s the food choices they make with it. So choose a lean protein like chicken, steak or fish as your meal if you’re going to be eating and avoid or keep bread, rice, pasta, sweets and snacks minimal.
5. The following day, sweat it out with a workout, even if it’s not a great one. Just get something in. Drink lots of water to flush your system and rehydrate. Go high-protein high-veggies all day to balance your macros back out.
- Coach Brian
THE 80/20 RULE by @online.fitness.coach
Follow me @online.fitness.coach for more daily nutrition advice like this!
It’s cliche but it’s true. The best plan is the one you can stick to. This goes for training and nutrition. If you hate it, if you can’t stand the thought of doing it, you’re probably not going to be able to maintain it.
This is why fad diets don’t work long-term. Will you lose weight in the first few weeks or months? You could. Will you eventually fall off the wagon and put it all back on plus a few extra? It’s highly likely.
Enter the “80/20 Rule”. This method allows you to have the flexibility to still enjoy those foods you love like pizza, burgers, and beer without completely undoing all of your hard work.
Here’s how it works - 80% of the time, get all of your workouts in for the week, maintain a healthy diet of lean proteins, veggies, fruit, healthy fats, and some carbs, and hit your daily calories. If you’re consistently putting in the work, then allowing yourself a couple of “cheat meals” or even a “cheat day” is not going to ruin you.
I understand that for some people, this does not work. If you know you have an unhealthy relationship with food, or if this method of “rewarding” yourself with food doesn’t suit you, by all means, do what works for you. If it’s not a problem, then this method works very well for a lot of people.
Being able to eat the foods you enjoy from time to time, while still staying within your calorie range or at least keeping it within reason, is going to be a lot less miserable than extreme deprivation 100% of the time.
When you actually plan out your “cheat meals” or your “cheat day”, it eliminates the feeling of failure or beating yourself up for getting off track. You planned it, you worked hard, you earned it, so enjoy it.
There is no single right way to “do” fitness or nutrition. What works for some people may not work for others.
If you made it this far, COMMENT BELOW what your favorite “cheat” food is! 👇🏼 (mine is 🍕 without question)
- Coach Brian
HOW TO SAFELY FIND YOUR ONE-REP MAX by @online.fitness.coach
Follow me @online.fitness.coach for more daily fitness tips like this!
Your one-rep max (1RM) is the most weight you can lift once for a particular exercise. This is one way to track increases in strength and is also helpful to give you an idea of how much you should lift in other rep ranges.
🛑 Important: you do not actually have to test your 1RM to know what it is and unless you are an advanced lifter or a power lifter, it’s probably smarter not to.
You can injure yourself very quickly testing at your max strength for a single rep. It’s not for beginners, particularly if the lift is a complex movement like the squat or deadlift. You need to be confident that you have excellent form.
A better alternative is to find this number out by testing your max strength at higher rep ranges and using a 1RM calculator to predict what your 1RM would be on that exercise. You can find plenty of free 1RM calculators online or in the App Store.
Now that we’ve covered that, here are a few general rules to follow when testing:
1. Always test for your 1RM FIRST during a training session, never do it at the end of a session after you are already fatigued from previous exercises.
2. Have a spotter present in case for any reason you get into trouble and need help lifting the weight.
3. Always do a mobility warm-up before starting. Do not go in cold.
4. Begin testing by first completing 1 or 2 sets of 6-10 reps using 40-50% of your predicted 1RM.
5. On the next set, increase the weight to roughly 60% and aim for 5 reps.
6. On the next set, increase the weight to roughly 70% and aim for 3 reps. For most people, this is as far as you need to go. Use a 1RM calculator from here.
7. Allow for 3-5 minutes of rest between each set. The heavier you go, the more rest you’ll need so take your time between sets.
8. Re-test every 5-6 weeks and record your progress in a training journal.
9. Each time you re-test, do your best to keep the conditions the same (equipment, temperature, nutrient intake, sleep, time of day, etc.)
If you found this helpful comment “1RM” below!
- Coach Brian
THE BEST WAY TO LOSE FAT WITHOUT LOSING MUSCLE by @online.fitness.coach
Your body has the ability to “catabolize”, or breakdown and use your muscle tissue for energy if your glycogen stores are depleted and no glucose is available. If you are trying to lose body fat AND build lean muscle simultaneously, you obviously want to avoid this. Here’s how…
First, you must maintain a daily “calorie deficit”. This means that you consume less calories than your body needs to burn for energy. MyFitnessPal is a free app that allows you to track your calories in vs. calories out and your macronutrient ratios. You can also calculate your daily targets by clicking the link in my bio and selecting “Calculate Your Calories & Macros”.
Second, protein is the building block for muscle. Even if you were to cut out exercise completely, a high protein diet is still ideal for fat loss. A good rule of thumb is to aim for .8-1g of protein per pound of your body weight. For example, if you’re 175 pounds, aim for 140-175g of protein per day.
Third, in order to maintain muscle while burning fat in a deficit, you have to keep your strength levels up. Tracking numbers (weight used, sets, reps) can be very helpful.
You will find that while in a calorie deficit, you may have less energy. If so, you need to adjust your training program to allow for optimal recovery while still maintaining your strength levels.
To do this, adjust total amount of sets, reps, and/or exercises as well as how many days per week you are training. You may have to play around with adjusting those numbers to find the right combo for you.
Lastly, avoid excessive cardio. It has its benefits, but when it comes to building a lean muscular physique, strength training, not cardio, needs to be the focus of your program.
Know someone who is trying to lose weight and build muscle? Send them here!
- Coach Brian
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MUSCLE VS. FAT by @online.fitness.coach
Which weighs more, muscle or fat?
If you answered “they weigh the same”, you are correct. The difference is that muscle is denser so it takes up less space.
To put it another way, if you gained 5 lbs. of muscle and lost 5 lbs. of fat, your body weight would stay the same but you would appear smaller because 5 lbs. of muscle will occupy less space than 5 lbs. of fat.
Whatever your goals are, you should be aware of the ways that muscle benefits your body and health.
Research shows that there is a direct correlation between increased muscle and improved insulin sensitivity.
This means that the more lean muscle you have, the better your body can handle glucose, which results in less stored body fat.
Higher levels of body fat have been linked to everything from obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, kidney disease, atherosclerosis, arthritis and even some forms of cancer.
Not to mention you look and feel better when your body fat is lower.
Other benefits of increased muscle include:
Increased Metabolism - Because muscle is denser than fat, it requires more calories. This means the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn throughout the day.
Improved Bone Mass - Muscle strengthens the bones it surrounds and supports.
Reduced Injury Risk - To gain muscle you need to strength train. Strength training improves bone mass, core strength, balance, and coordination which in turn reduce the risk of injury.
Increased Muscle Definition
Increased Likelihood Of Living Longer - Muscular individuals have a lower risk of falling in old age and less of a chance of seriously injuring themselves. Also, the more muscle you have, the harder your body needs to work to maintain its resting level. This results in better circulation, healthy organs, and a reduced risk of illness.
Strength training at least 3 times per week along with a high protein diet is a great way to build lean muscle.
- Coach Brian