The Solution: Modified Protein Sparing Fast (PSMF)
The endless debate of which diet strategy works the best and/or is healthiest is tiresome.
I do not EVER allow myself to become dogmatic about any of this stuff, and neither should you.
In my opinion (backed up by research and experience), the Modified Protein Sparing Fast is the optimal way to get lean very fast (4-6 weeks), AND improve metabolic flexibility/insulin resistance.
The goal of a PSMF is to lose body fat quickly while preserving as much muscle as possible.
How Does a Protein Sparing Fast Work?
This method of dieting is pretty simple: It should be noted that this is my version of this diet, and may slightly differ from others.
Eat very low calories (800-1200cal)
Keep Protein very high, at least 1g/pound of body weight
All meals should be based around protein.
Eat single ingredient, nutrient dense whole foods almost exclusively
Cut out ALL refined sugars and processed garbage.
Eat minimal carbs, as low as possible
Shoot for 3-4 meals/day.
If you’re training hard, allow yourself 300-500 additional calories right before or after training.
NO cheat days. This is a short term diet, cheat days are not acceptable.
6 week max if calories are very low.
Refining the Details
These are some additional details that can be helpful:
A mostly “carnivore” style diet works really well for the PSMF. In particular, red meat is very nutrient dense, high protein and leaves you feeling satiated (full).
If you’re used to being full of glycogen and pumped 24/7, you WILL feel and look “flat” for a short time. TRUST THE PROCESS.
If you look flat one week in, you didn’t lose muscle. You just didn’t have as much as you thought!
Make sure you’re eating nutrient dense food, salt/electrolytes, and a lot of water.
Caffeine can help a lot.. being in a deficit, the energy boost will be welcome.
If you want to take pictures/peak the diet, spend a day limiting water and salt intake, eat a TON of carbs (no salt), and the next day you should be looking shredded and a lot more “full” when you lift.
Being hungry is part of dieting to get lean. Accept it from the beginning, and don’t start unless you’re 100% all-in.
If you’re feeling excessively flat and fatigued, allow one “refeed” day, where you eat additional carbs to let the muscles restock glycogen. Don’t overdo it….
Crossfit probably isn’t the most optimal choice if your primary goal is building muscle.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t steal some concepts from Crossfit and integrate them into our hypertrophy-oriented training to build some size.
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What Is Crossfit?
In their own words, Crossfit is: “Constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity across broad time and modal domains.”
“Functional” is a term I’ve always disliked in the fitness industry.
Almost anything can be “functional,” assuming it is useful towards your goals.
A Biceps curl is functional if your goal is bigger, stronger Biceps.
“High intensity” is also not something unique to Crossfit, obviously.
Bodybuilders, Powerlifters, Strongmen, and recreational lifters generally train with high intensity, either training to failure or using high percentages of their 1 rep max.
OK, So… What is Crossfit?
Crossfit is concept, not a system.
There have been many spin-offs of Crossfit, including Crossfit Football (which I loved), Crossfit MMA, etc..
The idea is to be very strong, training big lifts in the low rep ranges, combined with intense metabolic conditioning (which can be just about anything), improving your ability to do more physical work in less time.
Can You Build Muscle With Crossfit?
Can you build muscle doing Crossfit?
Absolutely you can, yes.
You’re performing a lot of work very close to failure, accumulating a ton of lactate/metabolic stress and probably getting in quite a bit of volume using compound movements.
The problem from a hypertrophy perspective is that this is simply not optimal if your goal is primarily building muscle/size.
You’ll likely be limited by other factors, i.e., aerobic conditioning, endurance, etc.
When focusing on Hypertrophy specifically, you want to be limited by reaching failure with the target muscle group, not because you can’t breathe and are gasping for air.
The law of specificity is always present, and this is no exception.
In short, if your goal is hypertrophy, training Crossfit is ignoring the principle of specificity.
You’re targeting improvement over a broad range of fitness markers, but not specifically training to build size.
This is OK, of course, as long as that doesn’t conflict with your primary goal.
The more specifically you train for a given adaptation (hypertrophy), the more likely you are to get it.
That means you have to pay attention to the type of stimulus you’re presenting to your body.
Additionally, the emphasis is often on full body movements (snatches, cleans, etc.,) vs. isolating a target muscle group or groups specifically for growth.
If I want bigger shoulders, combining overhead pressing with box jumps isn’t going to be of much benefit for that specific goal.
Again, I’m not saying it’s “bad.”
I’m saying it isn’t optimal for the specific purpose of hypertrophy.
Enter the H-WOD
While Crossfit typically uses metabolic conditioning as the “WOD” (workout of the day), we can instead implement an “H-WOD,” or Hypertrophy Workout of the Day.
We’re basically going to use the same concept of training movements “at high intensity across broad time and modal domains,” but we’re going to tweak them to the specific goal of hypertrophy.
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Born Out Of Demand
This program was created based on demand. I simply had many females asking for a program specifically designed for them, as most of my other programming was geared towards men.
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Having had a lot of success training female clients, I decided to create an 8 week program based on what I felt worked the best for the goals of most women in the gym.
In short, I know it works, because I’ve used it repeatedly and seen it work.
If you love grilling like I do, you know that how you prep your steaks can make all the difference. This easy homemade steak marinade recipe will take you about 5 minutes to make, and is well worth the time!
Steak Marinade Ingredients:
Olive Oil (light tasting is best): 1 Cup
Worcestershire Sauce 1/2 Cup
Soy Sauce: 1/3 cup (more if you like)
3-4 Cloves of Garlic
Juice from 1 Lemon
Dijon Mustard (a squirt or two)
Salt & Pepper, or steak seasoning (I don’t measure)
How To Make The Steak Marinade
Making this steak marinade is extremely easy and simple (and really good).
Place all ingredients into a food processer (or blender) and turn it on. Once it’s all mixed up sufficiently, unplug the food processer.
Place your steaks in a large plastic bag or a bowl (covered).
Use a meat thermometer! There’s nothing worse than making a perfect steak marinade, waiting several hours, then ruining them by overcooking.
Use the following guidelines: (in degrees farenheit)
Rare: 125 degrees
Medium Rare: 130 degrees
Medium: 130-135 degrees
Medium Well: 135-140 degrees
Well: 145-160 degrees
Don’t Cut Into The Steak!
This is extremely important!
When you take the steaks off the grill, do NOT cut into them right away.
Wait about 8 minutes before cutting into the steaks. If you do not wait, the juices will not redistribute back into the meat, and you will end up losing out on flavor and tenderness of the steak.
It’s also worth noting that the steaks will continue cooking for a few minutes after you take them off the grill. For this reason, I am very careful not to let the temperature get too high before taking them off.
If you wait until the temperature passes 135, for example, you may well end up with well done steaks. This takes some trial and error with your grill set up.
Steak Marinade and Grilling Recap
To highlight the important points:
This easy Steak marinade recipe can be made in about 5 minutes and is delicious
Let the steaks marinate for at least an hour or two, ensure they are covered with the marinade.
Get the grill HOT. You want to sear the flavor into the steaks and create a crust of flavor.
Use a meat thermometer to ensure you cook them to your desired level of doneness.
DON’T cut into the steaks right away. Wait about 8 minutes or so.
Experience with your grill setup is king. A little trial and error may be necessary to get it just right.
Thanks for reading! I hope this homemade steak marinade recipe and grilling tips can help you create an amazing dinner for your or your family! Nothing beats a perfectly cooked steak!
Core Strength is one of the most misunderstood topics in the fitness world. If you want to be strong, you must have an iron strong core, and chances are you’ve been going about it all wrong.
What is Core Strength?
This is the definition I’m going to use, and I’ll stand by it..
Core Strength is your ability to stabilize the torso (trunk) under load.
The “Core” includes the abs, stabilizing muscles in the back, and really the entire trunk working together to stabilize the body.
When you perform movement under heavy load… for example, during a back squat, your torso must be able to stabilize the weight while you move. If you cannot stabilize the weight, you will simply not be able to complete the movement.
The human body is pretty intelligent. It can sense instability, and will not allow you to perform a loaded movement that you cannot stabilize.
Proprioceptionis the process through which the central nervous system essentially controls your ability to produce strength.
The point? A weak and unstable core will limit your strength potential, period.
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My goal here is to provide value to you, the reader. Here are some high-impact methods you can implement into your training to develop serious core strength.
Zercher holds, walks and squats are quite possibly the single best core-strengthening movements that exist.
With weight held in the crook of your arms, your trunk is forced to work hard to keep the body upright. If you don’t brace the hell out of your core, you will not be able to hold onto the weight without being folded.
4 Zercher Variations for Core Strength
First up are Zercher Walks. Holding the weight out in front of you, keep your posture upright and walk, taking small steps and bracing the hell out of your trunk/core.
Next we’ll look at some Zercher Shrugs. Here you can target the core as well as the Traps, performing shrugs from this position. Continue to fight to keep the torso upright and braced hard.
Zercher Squats are another very solid movement for core strength as well as targeting the lower body. These are basically a tougher version of front squats, with increased emphasis on bracing the trunk.
Last but not least for the Zercher variations are some isometric holds. These are essentially standing, loaded planks. These are far tougher than a plank and will create real core strength. Planks are great, but lend themselves to core endurance more so than true raw core strength.
2. Loaded Carries
Loaded carries are an incredible and often under-utilized method for building both size and strength.
When you perform a heavy farmers carry, the weight shifts slightly as you move, forcing your core to continuously stabilize the weight. This extends to muscle fibers in the back, Traps and shoulders as well.
The high amount of tension you can place on the upper back, Traps, shoulders and arms with heavy carries can lead to significant hypertrophy, and can also make you strong as hell.
You can use heavy dumbbells, kettlebells, farmer carry handles, or even a trap bar.
If you havn’t noticed, I’m trying to give you options you can integrate into your current training.
Rather than simply adding movements to your current training routine, you can work some of these in and swap out movements that you may already be doing too much of. I.e., replace DB shrugs with Zercher shrugs, and swap out overhead pressing for the Z-Press for a while.
Pressing from the seated Position will take away any ability to cheat, with zero leg drive and nothing to lean against.
Your core strength will absolutely be a limiting factor in how much you can press from this position.
The Z-Press was invented by famous Strongman Zydrunas Savickas, who held a 500lb overhead press. He credited this movement with developing raw pressing strength.
Use a barbell, swiss bar, or dumbbells.
4. Plank Variations for Core Strength
I have nothing against planks and use them all the time with clients.
If you’re targeting core strength and are already good at planks, consider performing some more challenging variations.
Shorten the time of each set and work on getting stronger.
Extended Planks will force the trunk to work harder to remain stable. Try holding these for 20-30 seconds and you’ll see that they are far more difficult than a traditional front plank.
Star Planks are another tough plank variation. Raise the top arm and leg from a side plank position and hold.
Last but not least, try weighted planks. This will shift the focus from core endurance to core strength in a hurry.
Just be careful not to overdo it.. You don’t need to train to failure on these, and probably shouldn’t be coming too close to max effort work on a plank.
Final Thoughts on Core Strength
I hope this article has given you some solid ideas on how to build some real core strength.
Try integrating a few of these into your current training split and work on getting stronger with them.
As with all new training methods, start conservative and work on solid form, then build from there.
If you want it all programmed for you, check out the Swole Town Program and join the team.