How Many Times A Week Should I Workout?

In most cases 3 or 4 days a week is more or less optimal.

There you go. There’s the answer. You can stop reading now. Good day sir!

A straight-forward answer?! What is this tomfoolery?!!?

Just for the hell of it, let’s go into a little more depth on this topic.

It’s not uncommon for a potential client to come into a consultation saying they want to work with me 7 days a week. That amount of ambition is certainly commendable. However, this amount of gym time is gratuitous.

“Hold the phone! You ain’t gotta work out that much!”

*Cue tremendous sigh of relief*

Recovery time is mega important. Any protocol that doesn’t allow enough time for the body to rebuild itself is destined to be subpar at best, deleterious at worst.

This is why 3 full body lifting sessions a week is solid. Here we have at least one day of recovery in between sessions. Each session will include the 5 fundamental movements. These are Push, Pull, Squat, Hinge, Carry. An example of a session with this structure could look like this:

Push-Pushup or Bench Press

Pull-Dumbbell Row or Chinup

Squat-Goblet squat or Dumbbell Lunge

Hinge-Glute bridge or Deadlift

Carry-Farmer walk or Farmer Walk

If we train 4 days a week, the sessions will typically be split into “Upper body” and “Lower body” days. And while this protocol has back to back training sessions, we aren’t emphasizing the same muscle groups two days in row. This allows for adequate recovery. A training week could look like this:

Monday(Upper), Tuesday(Lower), Wednesday(rest), Thursday(Upper) Friday(Rest) Saturday(Lower)

This is just one example. We still do our 5 fundamental movements throughout our training week. We just don’t do them all on the same day. We do Pushes and Pulls on Upper Body days. We do Squats and Hinges on the Lower Body Days.

As for which protocol is better, I honestly can’t say. Both have their advantages. I’ve had success with both. It really just depends on your schedule and where you’re at in your fitness journey.

Now, there is also the option of 5 lifting days a week.

There is only one 5 day lifting protocol I’m aware of that I’d ever recommend. Granted it’s probably the best strength program I’ve ever done. You can read about that here Even Easier Strength.

But what about cardio?

What about cardio, indeed.

It’s not necessary for fat loss. If you like doing cardio, by all means, have at it. But if you would rather watch Twilight while rabid weasels go to town on your armpits, don’t worry about it. Use those treadmill hours to build healthy nutrition habits.

clockwork orange

So 3 or 4 days a week is optimal for most. But let’s not let perfect be the enemy of pretty good. 2 days a week is awesome too. My online coaching groups are centered around sustainable fat loss, so we encourage whatever exercise protocol seems realistic. Whatever frequency allows you to train consistently over the long term is the optimal amount. Consistency always trumps intensity.

Beyond that, experiment. See what works for you.

 

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The Answer Is Always David Bowie

When I lived in Oakland, I would do pub trivia with a few friends every Tuesday.

We never won.

We got pretty damn close though. At one point we were getting 3rd place semi-regularly.

The music round was always fun. We had to guess the artist for the song blaring on the loudspeaker. When we didn’t know the answer I would shout “DAVID BOWIE! DAVID BOWIE!!!!!” with earth shattering consistency. Then one fateful day, “The Width of a Circle” played. I lost my shit and a hearty guffaw was had by all.

bowie-2

There’s nothing wrong with wrong answers. In this case, the wrong answers were right in their own way. Not objectively, of course. But I’d rather contribute to a running gag than have all the right answers.

We can’t know all the answers all the time, to anything. Is there any benefit in beating ourselves up about it? Nah.

I had no way of knowing which songs were worth knowing. Getting pissed at myself for not listening to music I don’t listen to? Where would that get me?

Nowhere. And I wouldn’t be laughing.

We might as well make light of this inevitable condition, the inescapable dynamic of life:

We can’t know what we don’t know yet.

And if we’re doing something different, something outside our comfort zone, there’s A LOT we can’t possibly know. Every new pursuit is like learning a new language– Not knowing comes with the territory. In fact, not knowing IS the territory.

That’s not to say that I can just laugh off any mistake I make. Far from it. I’m just as susceptible, if not more so, to being really fucking hard on myself. Consciously, I realize it’s silly to beat myself up for things I have no control over, subconsciously is another matter.

We will never know what the awaits us on the path ahead. We have no choice but to figure things out as we go. This is the culture my online coaching groups operate on: Progress is all one big experiment and we’re all figuring things out as we go.

Next time you feel bad about a mistake, I encourage you to look in the mirror and say “David Bowie”.

Sometimes the wrong answer is the right answer, if for no reason other than a good laugh.

 

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4 Awkwardly Sexual Exercises You Should Be Doing

The title really says it all. Sometimes the best exercises are the least flattering ones.

Now considering that many gyms are probably the least emotionally comfortable place in the world save a locals-only biker bar in Stockton, CA, I understand that what I’m suggesting isn’t appealing.  

That said, if you decide you give zero fucks about what anyone else in the gym thinks, these exercises can help you get a bigger booty, happier hips, eliminate back pain, and unleash your awesome.

I would add that the exercise of not giving a fuck is healthy.

Hip thrust

You put a bar on your hips and hump the shit out of it.

No matter which way you spin it, that’s what this lift is. It’s also the most important exercise for bigger, stronger, nicer glutes.

Don’t chase big numbers on these. Keep the weight moderate and really try to feel your glutes working. At the top position of the lift, squeeze your butt cheeks together like your life depends on it.

 

Tactical frog

Another humpy exercise. This one might be more awkward. I think a more apt name for this exercise would be, “What my friend’s dog does to his pillows”.

 

Band seated abduction

Here you’re basically getting strong at spreading your legs. Many find it unflattering, but it’s a great tool for building a balanced, round butt.

Do these after hip thrusts to get a crazy burn.  Or do them before to help develop the mind-muscle connection. Make sure you’re focused on feeling your glutes contract HARD throughout the movement.

 

Jefferson deadlift

I call these hipster deadlifts because you’ve probably never heard of them.

This lift entails lifting a loaded barbell into your crotch. HAAWWWT.

The Jefferson Deadlift is one of my favorites. And not just because I get an odd satisfaction of people thinking I’m crazy.

While this lift looks bonkers, it’s one of the safer deadlift variations. The bar is centered directly under us which means we put less shear force on the low back. The asymmetrical nature of the lift also means we strengthen our weak links. Most exercises don’t have us moving in this rotational manner, so this lift can help prevent muscle and strength imbalances.

The best exercises usually aren’t the most sexy.

Sometimes they are, in fact, TOO sexy. This is one of those times.

too sexy

 

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How I Feel About White Chocolate

My relationship with white chocolate is similar to my relationship to my white skin: complicated and riddled with guilt.

Just kidding.

I don’t feel guilty when I eat white chocolate. I freaking love the stuff.

white chocolate

Now, you may say, “Jeff, white chocolate isn’t chocolate you simpleton.”

And these are the fucks I give.

aardvark

You could call the stuff fermented echidna droppings and white chocolate would still taste the same.

It would still taste amazing.

I don’t care about formalities or technicalities when the purpose is still crystal clear. I eat white chocolate because I want to eat white chocolate, not because I want to pay homage to the gods of chocolate zealotry.

It’s important to be mindful of why we’re eating a food. The only “right” reason for eating something is the accurate one. This means if we’re going to eat a shit-ton of bacon, let’s not convince ourselves it’s healthy because it’s paleo. Or let’s not say chocolate is healthy because it has antioxidants.

It’s fucking candy. And it’s amazing.

There’s nothing morally wrong with eating candy. Yes, too much candy is detrimental to our health. That doesn’t mean candy is completely forbidden for those of us looking to feel more confident in a tank top.

Eat whatever you want. Just be honest about it. Stop rationalizing it. You don’t need to. You’re better than that. If you feel the need to justify your decision with phrases like :

“I earned this because I went to the gym”

“Or it’s not that bad because it has dark chocolate and almonds in it. It’s also non-GMO and made from the blood of adolescent centaurs. Organic, of course.”,

then I encourage you to take a minute to look inward. To figure out WHY you feel the need to justify a dietary decision.

The rationale for eating ice cream is that you’re human and ice cream is objectively delicious. That’s as good a reason as any. There aren’t acceptable and unacceptable reasons to eat junk food.

Just own up to whatever the actual reason is. Regardless of how we perceive a decision, the repercussions are the same. Again, there is nothing morally wrong with eating one way or another. This is simply a discussion of being honest with yourself.

White chocolate has the same nutritional value regardless of what you call it.

 

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Weekly Fitness Reads: 4/18/16

RTS Coaching: The Reaching Deadbug

I love me some deadbugs! Here’s a great variation to break up the monotony of standard deadbugs. 

Shut Up About Toxins

You may have heard of 10,000 hour rule. Imagine how many hours your liver has been “practicing”. Hint: Humans first appeared on the seen between 8 and 6 million years ago. i.e. the liver is pretty damn good at it’s job.

Simple Tricks To Make Hard Things Easier

I don’t normally share my own articles on here, but this one has been getting a lot of love lately. Apparently people like it. I hope you do too!

 

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Simple Tricks to Make Hard Things Easier

We waste a lot of time.

Like,  A LOT of time.

We accumulate wasted time in tiny little segments throughout our day, throughout our week,  month etc.

time travel

Now we are busy. This isn’t an illusion by any stretch. But often times we’re not as busy as we think.

My theory is that we waste time to cope with the stress of feeling perpetually busy. Or maybe we only have 5 minutes free, which is enough time to go on Facebook, but doesn’t seem like enough time to crack into a novel, or learn a language, or look for good chicken recipes .

Either way those 5 minute space-outs add up.

Most of the time we aren’t even aware we’re doing it. I can safely say I constantly find myself compulsively opening Facebook.

This is just one more example of how our brains put us on autopilot, and the effect this can have.

Time management isn’t the only area where this happens, but it’s an easy example because Math.

There are small easinesses (yes, it’s a word. I looked it up) that make this time wastage so fluid. When Netflix automatically goes to the next episode my decision becomes much easier. There almost is no decision.

Now, if we have to actually click on the episode to watch it, we have a greater likelihood of stopping at some point and maybe actually going outside and taking out the damn garbage.

Convenience is king.

As far as fitness is concerned, I see two ways to make life easier.

One is to remove a barrier to a desired behavior. For example, keeping pre-chopped vegetables in the house, making them more convenient to cook.

The second is to create a barrier to a behavior I’d like to get rid of. For example, not buying the Costco size bag of Twix, and downsizing to a 2 or 3 bar package.

Manufacturing hurdles for ourselves can be a great way to reinforce proper time allocation and healthy habits.

Here are just a few ideas:

-Always sign out of Facebook/Gmail/Instagram etc.

-Don’t keep junk food in the house. Have the ice cream, just don’t keep a pint of glorious -Phish Food in the house at all times.

-Delete time wasting/unnecessary apps from your phone.

-Don’t keep your credit card on file for GrubHub(This one would have saved me a few hundred bucks had I thought of it sooner)

These are just a few inconveniences I’ve found helpful.

What are your ideas? I, and anyone reading this, would love to hear them.  Your idea could help someone, so don’t be shy and leave your idea(s) in the comments 🙂

 

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Getting Back In The Fitness Game After Time Off

My workouts are feeling dismal these days.

I started lifting again last week. I haven’t touched a weight in 3 months save for one or two random instances in the Philippines.

As for structured strength training, I’ve been out of the game for a while. I definitely can’t lift as much as I used to.

i-haz-a-sad

It’s not easy getting back into the old routine. Everything feels off. Your brain and your body aren’t on the same level. The brain says, “Fuck yeah I can do that!”. The body’s like, “What a stupid thing to think!”

It’s frustrating. It feels like all your hard work has gone down the tubes. Like you’ve backtracked.

These feelings, while totally valid, don’t accurately represent the reality of our progress.

We NEVER start from square one. We can’t.

Our past experiences will always be there. 

All of the mistakes, all of the lessons, all of the successes always provide the psychological and physiological backdrop for “getting back on the wagon”.

That said, there is no stupid wagon. It’s just you and your path.

Maybe you lift weights on your path, maybe you don’t. Either way you’re still on your path. Georgie Fear says, “the wagon symbolizes perfection”. I couldn’t agree more. There’s no wagon because perfection doesn’t exist.

There’s no single a-ha moment where you figure everything out and it’s smooth sailing from there on out.

This shit’s hard and you WILL learn to navigate the diverse and difficult terrain that comprises your fitness journey. You aren’t off the path because you’re struggling. The obstacles ARE the path.

I compare fat loss to climbing a mountain. A wagon is poor way to climb a mountain.

Remember how long it took the first time. It’ll go faster this time around, but be patient. In weightlifting, not checking the ego can be dangerous. Respect the iron and the time off you took. There is only one speed to move forward at, and that’s whatever speed will build momentum you can maintain.

Be patient. Accept where you’re at.

Does it feel sucky maxing out on a weight that used to be a warm up? Of course. But if I fool myself into thinking I’m as strong as I was, I’m going to hurt myself and be out of the game again.

And the last thing I want is to take 3 months off and not even get a vacation out of it.

 

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