Tag Archives: advice

Good Diets for Lifters

Note: As with everything on Lift Bros, the following article contains my opinion only. You should form your own and make decisions accordingly.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the better part of the holiday season just utterly stuffing your fat face with all sorts of food most of the human race would consider terrible. Mmm cookies!

But what makes a diet good and what makes it bad, especially for people who even lift like us Lift Bros? Is there such a thing as the best diet? Should you be vegan, on keto, doing intermittent fasting, or going out to hunt deer with a spear to make sure the meat you’re consuming is 100% organic?

If you’ve spent any amount of time researching the topic of diets, you’ve likely encountered a nightmarish amount of misinformation and, even worse than that, information that contradicts other information you believed before.

So, who is right? I hate to break it to you, fellow lifters, but there is a lot of reason to believe that many diets are actually equally as good for you. And one of the most important things to consider with dieting are the personal preferences of the individual.

Some meathead powerlifters may say you should eat a bunch of junk food because it’s packed full of calories and Dr. Mike Israetel said calories are your #1 priority.

Maybe they’re right. Maybe you should be eating lots of garbage, if it aligns with your goals of getting massive and eating your way toward a heart attack, but probably not most people.

The take aways from most diets that people are successful with and don’t end up looking and feeling awful due to are more along these lines:

Eat whole foods as much as possible. The reason that diets where processed sugar is very limited or entirely avoided work so well, is because it goes along with avoiding foods that are heavily processed and packed full of artificial ingredients and preservatives. Maybe the sugar on its own isn’t quite as terrible as the atrocious ingredients that generally come along with that sugar.

If you have a specific weight loss or weight gain goal, it may make sense to count calories using something like MyFitnessPal. If your goal is to just lose a bit of weight or gain some, then it may be sufficient for you to exercise intuitive portion control. F.ex. if your goal is moderate weight loss, get yourself a broad overview of what you normally eat, then try to eat a bit less. Or cut out things like soft drinks, add more walking to your daily routine, etc.

Make gradual changes over time. Just like lifting, dieting is also more of a marathon and not a sprint. With lifting, you should focus on building volume and having regular progress, instead of trying to max out every session. With dieting, try the same approach and make small changes over time that will add up and have you continue making progress. Example: If I eat 4000 calories each day and don’t gain any weight, I don’t need to eat 1500 calories per day tomorrow to start losing weight at a healthy rate.

Place a large part of your focus on micronutrients like vitamins and minerals, derived primarily from the whole foods you eat. Make sure you get enough fiber in your diet and consider supplementing Vitamin D in the winter time especially, after you’ve discussed it with your doctor. When you make sure you’re getting enough micronutrients in from actual food, it will involve eating a lot of vegetables and fruits. For most people, this will lead to them feeling better.

If you even lift, then weight loss probably isn’t your number one goal, but for the average person it’s an important one. For the most part, diets for people that lift heavy and train hard multiple times per week should include a nice caloric surplus (most of the time). Be it for powerlifting, strongman, Crossfit, or whatever other craziness you can come up with in your training routine, you’ll probably need plenty of energy.

So, if you find yourself unable to consume enough food (or you just don’t want to), then supplementing your diet with some protein shakes can be a feasible idea. The important thing to remember, however, is that supplements should be used to add something to your diet. They shouldn’t be your diet. I love a nice shake of chocolate protein powder, whole milk, oats and some peanut butter. Honey roasted peanut butter… so good.

In conclusion, the diet you choose for yourself can be good regardless of what it’s called. It should follow some primary principles and you’re very likely to find success with it.

Lack of Motivation

When things aren’t going your way at the gym and maybe also in other parts of your life, it might just be time to make some changes.

I recently hit a minor roadblock with my training where motivation was fairly low, so I made the move to simplify things for myself and focus on the important aspects of my training routine. Namely the actual lifting.

I was logging my workouts on two web sites (bodybuilding.com forums and Fitocracy) along with the handwritten notepad I take to the gym with me. Then I also plugged the workouts into spreadsheets to analyze how efficient my training was. While this is a solid approach and being part of online fitness communities may be fun and worthwhile to learn new things, it was just taking too much time and lifting started to feel like a job when it’s really just supposed to be a hobby I enjoy.

I noticed that this added stress in my life and made lifting less fun, so I’ve cut back and only keep my handwritten log now. I try to still get some efficiency out of my training, but mainly I depend on a few base parameters and let auto-regulation do the rest for me. At some point, I will probably be willing to analyze training data again and go back to plugging things into spreadsheets, etc. That time is not right now.

I have also cut back on my extra workouts a bit. Mainly foam rolling and stretching. While I think these things are extremely important and have a lot of benefits, I was foam rolling and stretching my entire body daily. Now I do it with a 2 on, 1 off system. Day 1: Upper Body Stretch & Roll, Day 2: Lower Body Stretch & Roll, Day 3: OFF. I still do a general warmup with mostly dynamic stretches before lifting, but I don’t spend an extra hour a day stretching and foam rolling anymore.

I’d say I dropped cardio, but I really haven’t done much cardio in the traditional sense in a while. I still walk for an hour a day with my dog.

Other than that, I took on a new project for work which occupies quite a bit of time. This might seem counterproductive to reducing stress, but my stress was mainly coming from all the shit I was doing training-related. This switches that up a bit.

I also haven’t updated this site too much as a result of all this, but I will try to publish articles more regularly again going forward. No promises though.

 

Right Now

After a couple weeks of no tracking and less fitness-related activity on the Internet, I can truly say I feel refreshed with my training and thoroughly enjoy going to the gym again. I have plans to start building my own garage gym in the near future. (Hopefully this spring. I’ll do my best to make that happen!)

 

As always, this is all just my opinion. Do whatever you think is best for you.

Supplement Recommendations from Fitness YouTubers

Today, I’m going to share some supplement recommendation videos with you from a few popular fitness / powerlifting / bodybuilding YouTubers. At the end of the article, I’ll tell you which supplements I take.

Note: Always do your own research, before you pound a bunch of supplements into your body. Examine.com is a pretty good web site to begin your research for most supplements.

 

Chelsea LiftsHer channel

Ladies first. I think Chelsea is training for a powerlifting meet right now and there is some lifting included in the following video, but she starts it off by showing us her favorite supplements she currently takes. Wouldliftwith/10

Chelsea’s Supplement Stash: Citadel Fish Oil | Vitamin D (5,000 IU) | Optimum Nutrition Creatine | Primaforce Yohimbe HCI | Citadel Tier 1 Pre-Workout | GNC Pro Performance Beta-Alanine | Cellucor BCAA (Watermelon Flavor) | Spring Valley Iron | One A Day Women’s Active Metabolism Multivitamin (She recommends buying a better quality multivitamin, if you take one regularly.)

 

Elliott Hulse (strengthcamp) – His channel

While Elliott very rarely actually recommends supplements, he has mentioned what he uses in a few videos. I’m not going to embed his old recommendations video, in which he suggests you take ON whey, BSN creatine, Vitamin C and glutamine. It’s fairly outdated considering his recent recommendations of not taking any protein powder shakes. You can also tell how he feels about most supplements in his videos Honest Supplement Review #1 and #2 (graphic).

Below is a video where he discusses what he actually takes.

Supplement Stash: PaleoMeal from Designs for Health – Some flavors available: Chocolate | Natural Vanilla | Natural Berry | Strawberry … Elliott has also mentioned using a greens drink in past videos, but I’m too lazy to dig them up right now. I’m pretty sure he uses Living Fuel.

 

Jonnie Candito (CanditoTrainingHQ) – His channel

I haven’t seen Jonnie talk about supplements too much on his channel. Probably because he’s busy lifting heavy-ass weight.

He reviewed Jack3d Micro and he didn’t like the taste, but said it provided energy well. Below are his thoughts on whey protein.

Jonnie’s Supplement Stash: Jack3d Micro | Body Fortress Whey Protein | Creatine (Reference)

 

Chris Barnard (overtimeathletes) – His channel

Chris rarely does videos about supplements, just like his buddy Elliott Hulse. Below are a couple he did make. The first one is about creatine and the second one is about bulking in general.

Chris’ Supplement Stash: Creatine | Whey Protein Powder

 

Brandon CampbellHis channel

He did a top 3 video about supplements.

Brandon’s Supplement Stash: Creatine Monohydrate | Whey Protein | Caffeine

 

What I Take

This is just to wrap this article up. It’s a list of supplements I currently take.

My Supplement Stash: Creatine | Whey Protein (I only take it occasionally to top off protein requirements.) | Caffeine (I usually opt for coffee instead, but I do have some pure caffeine as well.) | Beta-Alanine (Only for certain training periods.) | Vitamin D (Only in the winter.) | Fish Oil | Magnesium

Why You Should Walk

Elliott Hulse posted a video today about the importance of walking.

Cliffs:

Walk every day.

Walking?

Walking has more benefits than you might think. As mentioned in the video above, it forms a habit of daily exercise. This is far more important than going on an endless quest to find a ‘magic’ workout routine. It increases calorie expenditure, improves bloodflow, controls stress by relaxing you, etc. Walk outside to get the full benefit (i.e. sunlight and fresh air).

Even for more advanced athletes/lifters, walking is excellent to help maintain heart health and an incredible recovery tool. I walk every day.

Hint: The perfect training routine doesn’t exist. There are many fantastic workout plans, but none of them are ‘magic’.

Going Beyond Walking

Once  you’re comfortable walking every day for an hour, you can begin to make other changes. A logical next step would be to improve your nutrition.

When you have solid eating habits and you’re walking for an hour every day, think about choosing another goal. If you’d like to lift weights and build some muscle, choose a lifting program. If you’d like to train for a marathon, go for it. Just find something that appeals to you and get after it.

That’s it. It’s that simple. Stay consistent and form long term habits. Walk, eat right and get some other type of exercise you enjoy. Avoid ‘magic’ (read: horse shit) workout programs, ‘perfect’ (read: crash) diets and unrealistic expectations. Good luck!

Ideals for People You Love

Below is another great video from Elliott Hulse. He received an e-mail from a viewer wanting to get his girlfriend to ‘lift like a man’ (read: lift heavy) and was seeking advice on how to make this happen.

Cliffs:

Do not subject people you love to your ideals. If what you do motivates them to copy you or they ask you for advice, great! Give them advice, if they ask for it.

People should be free to do whatever the fuck they want to do. Provide guidance, if they ask for it. Otherwise let them do what they want. (Maybe try to get them to stop if they’re smoking meth.)

 

The point is that you should not have an expectation that the people you love will change the way they are just because that’s what you would like to happen. If  you try to force people into molds you have created for them, they might try to fit into these molds for a while to make you happy. However, they will most likely resent you for it at some point down the line, because it’s not really what they would like to do with their life.

Good Reads for the Week

Here are some articles that might interest you.

300-Pound Complexes for Max Strength by Wil Fleming

High-Pull for the Power Look by Christian Thibaudeau (This one actually convinced me to try the Snatch Grip Hang High Pull. A fun movement for sure.)

Best Lifting Shoes for Performance by Jordan Syatt

To Compete or Not to Compete, That is the Question by Eric Maroscher

You’ll Never Squat Again: Why Physical Therapists and Doctors Should Learn Some Biomechanics by Bret Contreras

Do You Really Need a Lifting Belt by Mike Robertson (with other coaches)

Essentials for Lifting

When you decide you want to start lifting weights, there are a few essential items you should have. I will cover the physical preparedness you should bring to the table in another article, but this is a list of actual things you should own or have access to.

 

Proper Gym Attire

This will differ from person to person, but generally speaking you should have:

1. Some sweatpants or gym shorts. I prefer basketball shorts with pockets for convenience. As long as you don’t show up in dress pants or jeans, you’ll be fine.

2. A t-shirt of some sort. I like Under Armour t-shirts, because they absorb sweat a little better than regular cotton t-shirts. Most t-shirts will work, but some gyms may not allow muscle t-shirts. Try not to be the weird person working out in a polo shirt, if you can avoid it.

3. Proper underwear is a big one. I’ve ripped a few pairs of regular boxers trying to squat in them. For men, I can recommend Under Armour boxer briefs.

4. High socks for deadlifts. These will prevent you from brutalizing your shins. Alternatively you can wear pants to deadlift. Personally, I sweat way too much to wear pants at the gym.

 

Shoes

Proper lifting shoes are nice to have, but you can also go barefoot. You’ll want to avoid cushioned sneakers. You don’t want a lot of padding. A basic option is a pair of Converse All Stars (Chucks). For squatting with a more narrow stance (usually high bar Olympic style back squats or front squats) and Olympic lifts, it might be worth considering getting a pair of Oly shoes with raised heels.

 

Notebook and Pen

This is going to allow you to keep track of your workouts and also commit you to actually doing them. If your workout is handwritten out by you (not on a computer or phone) before you even step in the gym, you are more likely to complete it. Write out your workouts ahead of time, keep track of goals and personal records. It won’t take a lot of extra time, but it will be very good for keeping yourself accountable. This is the pen I use. I couldn’t find the notebook I use, but it’s similar to this one.

 

Towel

Most gyms will require that you bring a towel with you to put on equipment, so you don’t soak it in sweat.

 

Water Bottle

So you don’t pass out and die from dehydration. An aluminum water bottle is awesome. It keeps your water cool for a long time.

 

Optional: Jump Stretch Band

These are awesome for stretching and also to add resistance/assistance to certain movements.

 

Optional: Self Myofascial Release Tools

I’ll cover Self Myofascial Release (SMR) in another article, but basically it’s giving yourself a massage to relieve muscle tension, manage soreness and improve range of motion with certain movements. Useful tools: Foam roller (the Rumble Roller is awesome), PVC pipe (cheaper than a foam roller, but more painful for beginners), tennis ball (beginners), and a lacrosse ball or field hockey ball (after a few weeks of using a tennis ball). Get 3 balls minimum. Taping two together will turn them into a great tool to loosen up your upper back.

 

Optional: Powerlifting Belt

A belt can be nice, but it’s not required. If you do decide to belt up, make sure you buy a good one. You’ll be using it for a while (read: a LONG time) and it’s going to take some time to break in. You’ll want to get a good leather belt.

 

Optional: Chalk and Straps

Using chalk when weights get heavy will improve your grip on the bar and reduce callus formation. There are liquid chalks and also chalk alternatives like an eco ball (I personally use this), if you can’t use chalk because it leaves a mess.

Straps are the next step after chalk. They should not be used on everything (because you do want to strengthen your grip over time), but they can be great if you’re doing a lot of heavy pulling or high repetition sets where your grip would give out before your posterior chain. If straps are utilized a lot, it is wise to train grip strength separately (i.e. with Farmer’s Walk, Static Holds with heavy dumbbells or a heavy barbell, or Kroc Rows).

I won’t go into details here, because this is more of a summary article, but a good rule of thumb is to use the following grips until they give out and then move to the next: Overhand (possibly underhand), overhand with chalk, hook grip (for heavy singles mostly), mixed grip (be aware of this), and finally overhand with straps. If you can’t hold it with straps, it’s way too heavy for you.

 

As always, this is just my take on things.