Monday, October 31, 2011

The Top 3 Reasons to Track Your Workouts

Don't use crayons to track your lifts

Tracking your workouts day-by-day is one of the best ways to monitor self improvement and progress made in the gym. To be a successful lifter, tracking your workouts is an absolute necessity, but for new trainees, it can be seen as a hassle, or something that is hard to remember or is just plain unnecessary.

I have compiled my list of the top three reasons to track your workouts which hopefully give enough motivation to stop making chump excuses and start down the path of successful lifting.

Side note: That's an impressive RDL.

1. It Makes Your Coaches Job Easier

I love coaching and I love seeing the progress that my trainees make each session. However, what I HATE is having to play guesswork to figure out what your previous PR was. Just because I love coaching doesn't mean that I have brain space to remember your PR's each week. You are not my only client, numbers are going through my head all day when planning your workouts, rep schemes, and thinking about my own lifts. If I can show up prepared to train you, then you can show up prepared to be trained.

Track the progress of your lifts from each session, know exactly where you stand going into a workout, and show up prepared. Your coach will thank you for it. When your coach is happy, everybody's happy.

2. Goal Setting

The most obvious reason for tracking the progress of your lifts is to know what to aim for during the next session. If you just hit 350lbs, write it in your logbook so next time you will know to aim for 360. It's pretty simple folks, if you want to seriously start strength training then you need a log book. You can't just walk into the rack and aim for whatever feels nice. Whether you are getting big or just lifting big, your progress must be tracked each day. One of the signs of a lazy individual who lacks passion is someone who has no goals, don't be someone who is fine with squatting whatever is comfortable, boundaries must be pushed.

If you have nothing to aim for, then that's all you will hit.

3. Preparation For The Next Session.

Another great benefit of tracking your lifts is that it gives you the chance to visualize the successful lift. On rest days I spend about 20 minutes mentally visualizing the next days lifting session and exactly how it will play out. I visualize the weight progression I will use to work up to a new PR, how I will stretch, and even how far my knees will be out. This all plays a huge role in having a successful training session, and would not be possible if I did not track my workouts. On training days, as I head to the gym I check my log book again to verify exactly what I should be aiming for. I feel my testosterone increase and my core temperature heat up as my body begins to warm itself up.

If you just mosey into the gym without some form of game plan, chances are your workouts will suffer tremendously.

These three reasons should be more than enough to get you tracking your workouts. Once you start, you will notice that things operate much more smoothly when you are organized. If nothing else, do it for your coach!

Happy Halloween

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Shoes That Make The Lifter

 Article written for by Jay Stadtfeld
Tennis shoes like Nike’s are designed for running, walking, and various sports. What they’re not designed for is weightlifting of any variety.
Yet, because they’re frequently the only thing people have known for most of their natural born life, that’s what is used in the gym.
Compressible soles, which are found on most (read: not all) tennis shoes create instability while training under heavy loads, and can put you in an un-advantageous position when squatting or deadlifting. The last thing you want is to be wobbly while squatting or deadlifting heavy. You’ll want as little side to side motion as possible in the first place, so why would you assist in that by wearing shit shoes to train in?
The best type of shoe is a squatting shoe, which if you’ve seen Olympic weightlifting, you’ll notice the shoes typically have straps which support the foot and prevent it from sliding around, along with providing a wooden sole and heel to assist in better “spreading the floor”, while the heel aids in promoting quadriceps recruitment necessary for “raw” squatting, and providing artificial dorsiflexion, should flexibility be an issue.
"Gotta keep it so my kicks is clean"....Ludacris
However, not everybody has the funds (these can range anywhere from $70 to $200+) to purchase Olympic shoes, so your next best bet is Converse Chuck Taylor’s. Chuck’s are flat soled, meaning that they will not have the heel lift like the Oly shoes. You may not get the extra quadricep recruitment that you did from the Oly shoes, but they’re still a fine substitute, presuming you have the flexibility to remain on your heels in the squat. You’ll see a lot of us Powerlifters using them to deadlift in, too. Basically, the flat sole will put you closer to the ground, meaning the bar will have to travel less of a distance. Personally, I’ve never really had much issues pulling in my Olympic shoes. Even setting a 15 lb PR with them on in my last meet. Do as is comfortable to you.
This is a (read: one) Chuck.
Hopefully this provides some background as to why you shouldn’t train in conventional tennis shoes. Plus, Chucks and Oly shoes just look like you mean fucking business. And, if you’re lifting heavy things, you most likely do.
You are a weightlifter, Your shoes should reflect that.
Authors Note: I refuse to acknowledge Vibram Five Fingers on account of people who wear them look like a complete jagoff. I said it because someone had to.

Jay is a strength and conditioning coach based out of the suburbs of Chicago. He's a Powerlifter in predominantly the AAPF raw division in the 220 class and his latest total was 1200 at 198.4lbs bodyweight. Yes, he missed his weight class by .4 pounds. Let's all make fun of him.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Relationship Between Proper Form & The Confident Athlete

When I see individuals not paying attention to proper form, there are usually a few things that run through my mind. For the sake of time, I will only discuss the thought that doesn't involve a boot up someone’s ass. Certain individuals refuse to accept the fact that their technique sucks and is only holding back their progress while putting them at greater risk for injury.

I feel that this is a self-esteem/ confidence issue. If the beginning of your weightlifting career was anything like mine, you probably started on your own, with no professional coaching your or correcting your technique. Did you honestly feel confident while performing the lifts? Did you really feel like a badass when squatting above parallel with knees caving in? Or did you feel somewhat ashamed, hoping that no one with real talent was watching you. 

Andrew B. from Foundation Crossfit taught me how to squat correctly.  After learning correct form, confidence was no longer something that was lacking in my lifts.

After a set of squats, if you aren't leaving the rack feeling like a beast, or at least confident that your form looked spectacular, then something needs to change immediately.

Athletes who use proper form tend to have high levels of confidence. What they believe about form is revealed through their technique.

No weak wrists in my house

These athletes lift for themselves, not to impress others. If they know that doing front squats with 200lbs pounds will do more for muscular development than slapping 8 plates on the leg press machine, then they will do the 200lb front squats.

They are interested in linear progression, not flexing their nuts at the gym. They don't care how they look when practicing jerks with 135lbs when their max is 345. They know that it will help with form and injury prevention, as well as improving overall technique. 

This is one of the reasons why I hate coaching in a room with mirrors. Humans are biological creatures that are naturally attracted to moving objects and have a subconscious desire to look at what is moving. The thing that is moving is usually their reflection in the mirror. There is nothing uglier than a deadlift or squat performed while looking sideways at the mirror. Much better to be outside or in a room without mirrors, so all of your attention can be focused on feel/ technique. If you have a coach, then you absolutely don't need to be looking in a mirror while lifting.

No mirrors here

Finally, these amazing athletes understand that lifting a big load with bad form will not help you lift big loads with proper form nearly as fast as always lifting with proper form. Obviously squatting above parallel will allow you to load more weight on the bar, but the difficulties and benefits are much greater when the exercise is done correctly. Like I have said before, big numbers are meaningless if you are sloppy Joe. The proper form has to be there before the big numbers can be.

Never sacrifice proper form for increased poundage. If you want to be an amazing athlete, then always look for ways to make an exercise harder, not easier. If you want an easy exercise that won't give you great results, you don't deserve to be under the first place. For example, bouncing the plates off the floor during multiple deadlifts will allow you to use more weight, but pausing on the floor will create more overload on the neuromuscular system. 

If you want to be an amazing athlete, then your confidence needs to be shown through your lifts. No matter what weight is on the bar, if you aren't CONFIDENT in the form, then you need to change

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How To Eat An Elephant

I'm freakin out, man!
If you have never heard of Scott Mendelson, then gather 'round children. He is a man that stirs up controversy wherever he goes, usually because his brain-to-mouth filter is switched to "off". Say what you will about the man, but there is one special thing about him: his 1,031 pound bench press. To quote Tim Ferris "To put 1,031 pounds in perspective, imagine loading a standard gym barbell with 45 pound plates until no more can fit. That is a measly 885 pounds. Scott has to use 100-pound plates, and the tempered steel literally bends around his hands.  He wears a mouth guard so he doesn't shatter his teeth with jaw tension, and his vision gets pulled horizontally when he pauses at his chest".

Now you can cry out things like "he wears a bench shirt!" or "he is on steroids!," but without a bench shirt, he can still bench 731. I would be happy with a 731lb deadlift. Scott is an unusual individual, but there is something to learn from people like him. He didn't walk into a gym and load up a barbell with half a ton on it. No, he had to learn how to eat the elephant: one bite at a time.

There are more 45s on the bar than in my whole collection.

I think that the internet is great for a lot of things, my website being one of those great things. Another one of its advantages is also one of its drawbacks: videos of beasts moving obscene amounts of weight or possessing unbelievable conditioning. It can serve as a motivator, but I feel that too often it serves to take our eyes off the elephant we are gnawing on. It would be nice to make 30 or 40lb jumps on our lifts or knock 2 minutes off a WOD and become like the beasts in the videos. The reality is that the work must be put in, week after week, just to get those incremental 5-10lb or 10 second jumps.

And that's what makes strength & conditioning so great. Think back to when you started lifting or flailing around on the pullup bar. Which victor tasted sweeter: picking up a barbell for the first time and making 30lb jumps to find your weight? Or, having lifted for a few months, finally adding 5-10lbs to the squat or press that you had stalled on for 3 weeks? I know which victory tasted sweeter to me.

This was my elephant for 6 months
If you have ever studied sin from a theological point of view, you will see that there is a redemption for every problematic. Weightlifting is no different. For every instance of intimidation to be overcome, there has to be a strategic equivalence of bravery in the face of intimidation. This is what separates the do-ers from the wish-ers. You have to be able to grit your teeth, suck it up, and put in the work it takes to rise the top. You can't look at the goal of a 600lb deadlift and get overwhelmed, you have to break it up in chewable bites and chip away at it each week.
One bite at a time is how you do this

This mentality can be applied to weightifting, your diet, your marriage, or anything in life. So often we get lost looking at the big picture that we let our intimidation get the best of us and we become a deer in the headlights. Don't lose sight of the work you have to put in, in order for you to reach your goal. Eat your elephant one bite at a time, and when you have finally reached your goal, you will look up and say "Is that it? I'm still hungry".

Monday, October 24, 2011

Protein Absorption: The Myth of 30 Grams

Based on absorption, how much protein should you be ingesting per meal?

There is a popular (mis)belief that the human body can't absorb more than 30 grams of protein protein per meal. I remember back in my swimmer days that my coach told us that our body couldn't handle more than 25 grams of protein at a time, it wouldn't know what to do with the excess and it would make us sick. But then again, he also told us to eat carbs before and after practice, and to load up on spaghetti the night before swim meets.... I am going to channel my inner Professor Platek and look at this from an evolutionary point of view. In ancient human history, could our bodies really only handle 25 grams of protein at one time?

Science and common sense seems to refute this claim.

Researchers in France have found that eating protein all at once can be just as well absorbed as spreading it it out over your day. A group of 26 year old women were given either 80% of their protein for the day at one meal or spread over multiple meals. After two weeks, there was no difference between the subject and control groups, in terms of nitrogen balance, whole body protein turnover, whole body protein synthesis, or protein breakdown.
Huh, Soy is way down the list....Who knew?
In both subject and controls, the amount of protein given was 1.7 grams of protein per kilograms of fat-free mass per day. This means that for a 26 year old, 125 pound woman, eating 77 grams of protein in one meal had the same effect as spreading it out. While I don't view 1.7 grams of protein per kilo of fat-free mass as sufficient for a weightlifter, it is still nearly triple the amount you can supposedly ingest, according to what you hear from the uneducated.

The experiment was then repeated in older subjects, with whom, it turns out, eating protein all at once can actually lead to better protein retention. Giving elder women 80% of their protein for one day in a single meal for two weeks led to almost 20% more synthesis and retention of protein compared to dividing it in smaller doses.

It appears that daily protein is more important than per-meal protein. For some people though, including my wife, eating 80% of your protein in one meal just isn't going to happen (spouses can be stubborn, can't they?). In that case, I WOULD recommend protein at every meal, just to make sure they reach the daily dose.

Stubborn as a mule.
It's also important to remember that food weight does not equal  protein weight. For example, if you weigh near-fat-free chicken breasts on a food scale and the total is 140 grams it doesn't mean you are getting even close to 140 grams of protein. In fact, 140 grams of chicken contains about 43 grams of protein, less that 1/3 of the total weight. People forget the heaviest piece: water.

A good rule of thumb for daily intake: 1-2 grams of protein per kilo of bodyweight. However, if you are currently lifting big and trying to get big, I suggest 1.25-2 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass, which means you subtract your your bodyfat first.

Here are a few examples:
100lbs of LEAN mass= 125 grams of protein
120lbs = 150 grams
150 lbs = 187.5 grams
200lbs = 250 grams

Not gaining muscle? Here is a tip: Track your protein intake over 1 day. Then eat more.

Article excerpts taken from "The Hour Hour Body" by Tim Ferris.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Imagining A Successful Lift

U mad bro?

 Article taken from

Use mental imagery and adhere to a pre-workout or competition routine to improve performance, raise confidence, and decrease anxiety. Research shows that using task-oriented coping, such as mental imagery, before working out or competing is an effective way to cope with anxiety and improve performance. Task-oriented preparation helps build confidence more than disengaging or distracting yourself from the competition or workout at hand. Even if you’re just doing your daily training session, visualizing the lifts, sprints, or drills in advance can improve your performance and build self-confidence.

A new study from the UK investigated the relationship between confidence levels and performance, and the role that different coping strategies influenced these factors. It’s probably no surprise that athletes with greater confidence perform better, but this study highlights the best strategies for developing confidence and performing at your best.

Avoid using a disengagement strategy, such as resigning yourself by mentally giving up, or accepting negative feelings. Resignation can take the form of surrendering your abilities or confidence to your opponent or to another influence such as being overweight—in this case you might avoid working out because you’re resigned to having an unhealthy body composition. An understandable response, but a better strategy is to develop a routine before working out or competing, and control your thoughts by imagining yourself performing the lifts or activities to come.

For optimal performance, avoid distractions as well. These take the form of focusing your attention on unrelated aspects of the task by thinking about other things, listening to music, reading or watching TV, for example.  Naturally, we probably all fall prey to distracting ourselves before and during workouts, but there’s extensive evidence that you’ll perform better by using visualization and paying attention to the cues your body gives you while exercising. This is particularly true in competition, but for best results you should always practice as you play.

Using mental imagery will not only improve performance, but there is evidence that it raises confidence, even in lower skilled athletes. The UK study showed that lesser skilled athletes tend to have lower confidence and use disengagement, particularly resignation strategies for coping, resulting in poorer performance. The answer is task orientation and imagery to focus on the task, improve performance, and ultimately raise confidence levels.

Research also shows that regardless of skill level, self-confidence tends to deteriorate as competition nears, making routine and mental focus all the more important in the immediate moments before a workout or competition. By using task-oriented coping strategies, you’ll be able to ease anxiety and have an overall better experience from your sport or training. This has been shown to promote goal attainment more effectively than disengagement, which is more likely to lead to lack of success. Using mental imagery will allow you to avoid getting caught up in high stress feelings, and help you perform better. You can create a positive cycle of greater confidence and even better performance!


Levy, A., Nicholls, A., Polman, R. Pre-Competitive Confidence, Coping, and Subjective Performance in Sport. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. September 2011. 21, 721-729.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Stop Training For The Mirror

The powerhouse
As we head into the Fall, I look back on this past Spring and Summer and think about the people that fill the gym at these times, people you wouldn't normally see in there.  Group 1 usually consists of young baboons clamoring around the 25lb dumbbells and decline bench (making sure that the spotter assists with every rep, of course). Group 2 consists primarily of women, swishing their lives away on the elliptical and cursing themselves for eating that 250 calorie bagel (HOW COULD YOU!?!).

Incidentally, both groups are probably listening to Ke$ha.

These are the seasonal gym-goers, working out for the sole purpose of showing off their guns or stomachs at the beach. They rarely see results at the gym and they rarely stick around for very long. In my opinion, that is because they are training for what people see face-on, for what they see in the mirror.

If you want results that involve things like increased testosterone and HGH, big PR's on your lifts and overall increases in strength, then you just have to do one simple thing: stand in front of a mirror. Now, work on all the muscle groups that you CAN'T see. Work your posterior chain & your back.

Society has indoctrinated us to think that training the anterior chain (things like the chest, abs and quads) are the sexiest things ever. In reality, it's not. You know what's sexy? Strong shoulders, big hamstrings, and a great big ass. If you think otherwise, then you are probably on the wrong website.
I posted a photo to the Facebook page a couple of days ago that reaffirms my belief that people don't want a partner with a great anterior chain so much as they want the posterior chain. You don't get these things by focusing on the mirror muscles, you get the posterior chain by focusing on things like squats, deadlifts, the oly lifts, presses and GHD work. By working on these lifts, not only will you be working muscle groups that we are designed to be attracted to, you will also be working on your overall power output. Proper hip drive is crucial for nearly all the lifts and without it, you will be half the human that you you could be.

Some benefits of a strong posterior chain include:
  • Shifting weight to hips and glutes, decreasing knee pain
  • Improving your posture
  • Decreasing lower back pain by supporting the spine
  • Increasing overall speed and power
  • Never having to worry about sagging pants
  • Having the best butt in the room
These are just a few of the many benefits of having a strong posterior chain and should be motivation enough to get you off the overhead tricep extension and on to the deadlift. After all, no one cares about your biceps as much as you do, and which do you think will take you farther when the fit hits the shan: the posterior chain or the biceps?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How Birth Control & The Menstrual Cycle Affects Weightlifting


After reading my article yesterday about soy and its estrogenic effects on the human body, fellow lifter/eater Dana asked me to do some research on birth control and how it may or may not affect a females weightlifting progress (did I mention Dana is a record-holding powerlifter?) I am clearly no expert on the subject of birth control, but in this article I will do my best to present the research I find to you.

Lets get started.

Birth control involves one or more actions, devices, sexual practices or medications followed to intentionally prevent or reduce the likelihood of pregnancy or childbirth. The three main routes of birth control to prevent or end pregnancy include contraception (the prevention of fertilization of the ovum by sperm cells), contragestion (preventing the fertilized egg from implantation - morning-after-pill), and the chemical or surgical induction of abortion of the developing embryo/fetus.

The Pill - combined contraceptive pills have two hormones - an estrogen and progestin. They stop the release of the egg (ovulation), and also make the lining of the uterus thinner. (MNT)

Contraceptive patch - a transdermal patch applied to the skin. It releases synthetic estrogen and progestin hormones. They have been shown to be as effective as the combined oral contraceptive pill. The "Patch" is worn each week for 3 consecutive weeks, generally on the lower abdomen or buttocks. The 4th week is patch-free.  (MNT)

El patch.
First off, it has been surprisingly difficult to find more than a handful of studies that have tested the effects of BC on a female weightlifters body. And the research that is available is somewhat inconclusive. Most of the studies have been conducted to test the effects of menstruation on an athletes performance and both sides have presented arguments. On the one hand, there have been Olympic level athletes who have won gold medals during menstruation periods, but most of these athletes were runners or endurance athletes. On the other hand, studies have reported that athletes have experienced cramps so sever that they are unable to perform at their normal levels.

These studies have also reported an increase in muscoskeletal and joint injuries, there has not been a definitive answer on this, however. A theory that has been gaining traction has pointed out that the increase of the hormone "Relaxin"  during menstrual cycles may be the culprit. Relaxin relaxes (go figure) the joints and connective tissue in a woman's body, so this may be the cause of increased injuries during menstrual cycles.

It has also been difficult to conduct studies on women's birth control cycles and how they relate to weightlifting, partially due to the various BC methods on the market, but luckily there has been one comprehensive study that has done the job. A study was presented at the annual Experimental Biology 2009 conference in New Orleans. The study found that women who used oral contraceptives experienced hampered lean mass gains while weightlifting.

73 healthy women, ages 18-31 were either assigned to a BC or non-BC group. Body compositions measurements were taken via hydrostatic weighing, in addition to blood samples before and after to measure DHEA, DHEA-S, and IGF-1. The results showed that the women who did not take BC pills gained 60% more lean mass compared to those taking the pills. While strength gains, arm and leg circumferences remained the same for both groups, The anabolic hormone levels of the non-BC were significantly higher than the BC group, and the DHEA and IGF-1 levels were also significantly higher.

Sadly, testosterone levels were not tested, that may have provided some clarity as to why the strength gains were similar for both groups. the BC group also had elevated levels of cortisol, which also helps to explain why the lean mass gains were lower than those in the non-BC group.

Love the message behind this poster

There is copious amounts of anecdotal evidence from female users of various contraceptive methods. Nearly all users of contraceptives report some sort of undesirable weight gain, even though they are actively participating in strength training and eating a clean diet high in protein. Based on what I have seen, those that use the DEPO shot have reported the highest amount of weight gain, some as high as 45lbs. Hormone levels can also be affected by introducing artificial hormones into the body, and some pretty crazy mood swings may ensue. 

Again, I am no expert on this subject, If you would like to share your experience with contraceptives and how it has affected your fitness, feel free to do so in the comments.


  4. Daly J and W Ey. Hormones and Female Athletic Performance. Women’s Sport Foundation of Western Australia, Inc., 1996.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Top 3 Reasons Avoid Soy Products

Sitting at the sushi restaurant with my wife, I was staring at bottle of soy sauce while nomming on salmon and began to get lost in thought, thinking about all the ways these beans have wormed their way into our society. I can think of few questions I want to hear less than "Soy products and soy protein are good right? Less saturated fat?" 

People are often surprised when they learn about the negative health effects of soy. The first thing they usually point out is that Asian cultures have eaten soy for thousands of years, apparently with great health benefits. There are a few factors to consider here, which brings us to point #1 of why you will no longer eat soy.

1. The Reality of Asian Soy Consumption

My wife's parents are both first generation Chinese-Americans and have helped me with this article by answering a few questions. First things first, yes it is true that Asian cultures do consume soy, but primarily in its fermented forms: miso, tempeh, soy sauce and tamari. The fermentation process drastically decreases the protease inhibitors and phytates in soy, almost to the point of elimination. (Discussed in a previous protein blog post)
Tofu is the only non-fermented form of soy that is historically common in Asian cultures. On top of this, They only eat soy products in small amounts, more as a condiment or sauce than a main dish. A bowl of miso soup is very different from a tofu-based entree where tofu is taking the place of meat (just typing that made me angry). The average Asian diet  includes about 9-36 grams of soy per day. Now compare that to a cup of tofu or soy milk, about 240-252 grams per SERVING. That appears to be a substantial difference in daily soy intake, wouldn't you say?

2. Soybeans Are Processed With Hexane

Hexane is a synthetic, petroleum based solvent that soybeans are immersed in to create soy protein isolate. Hexane provides manufacturers with a cheap way of separating the oil from the protein in the soybeans. The CDC has labeled hexane as a neurotoxin and the EPA has labeled it as a hazardous air pollutant. This basically means  that most of the soybeans used in the fake meats, the protein bars, and the soy protein powders have all had a hexane bath. It also poses short and long term health hazards to those who come into close contact with it.

As if these reasons aren't enough to avoid hexane, it also causes sever digestive problems and has been known to cause copious amounts of flatulence (farts, just to be clear). So if you have been munching on Clif bars and wondering why you have to keep the windows rolled down, now you know why.

3.   High Estrogen Compounds  In Soy

Study after countless study has shown the link between soy intake and increased levels of estrogen in both men and women. As weightlifters, this should be of great concern to all of us. We need to be eating foods and doing activities that increase our testosterone and HGH. Eating or drinking soy will negate these effects and can actually reverse them. 

In 1992, the Swiss Health Service estimated that women consuming the equivalent of two cups of soy milk per day provides the estrogenic equivalent of one birth control pill. That means women eating cereal with soy milk and drinking a soy latte each day are effectively getting the same estrogen effect as if they were taking a birth control pill. 

A study at the Harvard Public School of Health in 2008 found that men who consumed the equivalent of one cup of soy milk per day had a 50% lower sperm count than men who didn’t eat soy.

This effect is even more dramatic in infants fed soy formula. Babies fed soy-based formula have 13,000 to 22,000 times more estrogen compounds in their blood than babies fed milk-based formula. Infants exclusively fed soy formula receive the estrogenic equivalent (based on body weight) of at least five birth control pills per day.

These are just a few of the many reasons why you need to eliminate soy from your diet. You don't have to be a 9 to 5 tree-hugging hippie to eat a lot of soy, just flip around the food labels and see the ingredients, it's absolutely everywhere. Be like me and cook all of your own food and eat animal proteins and soon, you will become strong like bull.


Olguin MC and others. Intestinal alterations and reduction of growth in prepuberal rats fed with soybean [Article in Spanish]. Medicina (B Aires) 1999;59:747-752. Rats fed soy-based chow had reduced growth and an increase in gastrointestinal problems compared to controls.

IEH assessment on Phytoestrogens in the Human Diet, Final Report to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, UK, November 1997. This exhaustive report on phytoestrogens, prepared by the British government, failed to find much evidence of benefit and warned against potential adverse effects.

Fukutake M and others. Quantification of genistein and genistin in soybeans and soybean products. Food Chem Toxicol 1996;34:457-461. Average Isoflavones consumption in Japan was found to be about 10 mg per day.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

3 Ways To Eat Big On A Budget

You had me at meat tornado.

Unless you have been asleep in the squat rack for the last couple years, you may have noticed that there is a bit of a budget crisis going on.  According to some recent statistics, Americans spend the lowest percentage of their household incomes on food. I don't know about you, but this is a BS statistic to me. My wife and I probably spend 30% of our monthly income just on food, so naturally my belly gets a little concerned as the budget crisis lingers on.

Luckily for you, my team and I have put together a few of the most simple and effective methods to keep eating big on a budget. Let's take a look at the top 3 ways.

1. Become A Costco Warrior
Every lifter must make a weekly pilgrimage here
If you have budgetary concerns, then Costco needs to be your store of choice. They have everything you can get at a regular grocery store, but there is twice as much of it, and its usually cheaper to buy in bulk. On a typical weekly "Costco run", my shopping cart will look something like this:
  • 5 dozen eggs-$7
  • 2 gallons of milk-$4.50
  • 6 pounds of chicken-$14
  • 6 pounds ground beef-$17
  • Various vegetables-$20-30 dollars
  • Almond butter, oats and pureed pumpkin (for shakes)-18 dollars
That comes to about $85 dollars a week, and you can definitely get big on this. I also buy fish oil once a month at Costco, it costs about $9 for 400 pills. They also have protein powder, 6 pounds for 35 dollars. It's not as high quality as some of the better stuff, but you are on a budget, remember? The same goes for the meat and milk. It isn't grass-fed,  but your options are limited if you are tight on money. I will talk about grass-fed stuff later in this article.

2. Cook Everything Yourself

Don't look directly into it's eyes!
This one should go without saying, and that's why I have to say it. I see a lot of whining on forums and the Facebook page from people that, for some strange reason, can't afford to eat big because it costs too much. After a few simple questions on my part, I quickly discover that most of their meals are eaten out of the home, they are buying fairy fruit smoothies which consist of soy milk and fruit, and fancy coffees every day. 

I think the problem has been identified.

The answer is simple: cook all of your meals yourself, if possible cook them in advance. This will help you prevent impulse food purchases when you don't feel like cooking after a long day of looking at cat pictures at work all day (don't be a cat person). "But eating the same food every day will get boring!", they say. People vastly underestimate the various ways you can cook the same 10-15 basic ingredients. Throw meat and vegetables in a pan with some seasoning and teriyaki sauce and BOOM! You have stir fry. Use the same ingredients, but with taco seasoning, and now you have fajitas. Just be creative. Start with breakfast: There are at least 6 ways to cook an egg that I know of. Switch it up as you get bored.

3. Buy A Whole Grass-Fed Cow/Pig

Birthday present from my parents.
This is one of my favorite things to do; I am getting teary-eyed just thinking about it. While I wouldn't call it an investment, since technically an investment is something that gives you a ROI, it is definitely one of the best purchases you can make. Typically a pound of corn fed beef costs between 3-4 dollars, and a pound of grass-fed can cost up to 8 dollars a pound. Those numbers are JUST for ground beef, expects steaks and such to be much more. 

By buying the entire animal, not only do you get it all grass-fed, the ENTIRE animal only costs 2-4 dollars a pound. That means that everything from ground beef to back strap to new york cuts are all the same price. Last year my parents gave me 100 pounds of beef, and it cost them 2 dollars a pound. The animal was a nearly-feral cow that lived in the hills, and the meat smelled exactly like elk meat. It doesn't get any better than that. The same goes for a pig, it all may cost more up front, but you will be set for months and you will have meat coming out of your ears. TIP: Make sure you have adequate freezer space BEFORE you make the purchase, otherwise prepare to have the best case of meats sweats ever.

The Rock cooks his own meals. The guy in the back doesn't. See what happens?

There you have it, 3 easy tips to keep you eating big on a constrained budget. Following these 3 tips should help keep your belly swole and your wallet happy. But if you are still complaining and making excuses, saying that these tips are too hard to follow, well then you must not really love getting big in the first place, do you?