If 3 sets of 5 reps on the overhead press doesn’t crush your sole… you’re not training correctly.

You’ve probably heard this before, but it warrants repeating: you don’t need to kill yourself in the gym to make progress.

Sadly, for normies, an effective session in the gym is gauged by:

  • Quantity of sweat produced.
  • Amount of soreness obtained.

To be honest, sometimes it might be wise to strive for a sweaty and sore workout. Periodic bouts of extreme movement – a long run or a high volume barbell session, for example – can be beneficial. The problem arises, however, when you only train like this.

Exhausting workouts can feel enjoyable, but if they’re too frequent and beating you up, your motivation to initiate them will wain rapidly. Moreover, you might end up dealing with overtraining, perhaps in the form of inflammation. Prompting this response may have value if done infrequently, but to be training so hard as to be constantly in a state of inflammation? Doesn’t seem healthy.

This is why it helps to reframe physical activity. Avoid “working out”, instead consider “training”. Don’t randomly move weights around. Pick a few exercises that cover your requirements, and track your progress. Track progress in terms of strength, and perhaps, body composition. Let the numbers and aesthetics speak for themselves, not the perspiration and pain.

Let’s Go!

Now, here’s where things get fun. If you’re like me, you actually love training. In fact, it’s not a lack of motivation that’s the issue, it’s the abundance of ambition.

I absolutely love crushing deadlifts in my garage gym. So much so that I’ve often (and still am) guilty of moving too much weight, too soon, before sufficient recovery.

The outcome: more work for worse results.

So, I’ve started flipping the formula. If I want to train most days, maybe even 10 or 20 consecutive days in a row, then I have to plan more intelligently.

In practice, this often equates to planning very short bouts of movement. I get the near-daily training out of my system, but most ‘workouts’ are short and sweet. Just enough stimulus to promote growth, but not too much that I can’t sit on the toilet the next 48 hours. The minimum effective dose.

“But I’m soooo swamped.”

Despite all our supposed wonderful technological advancements, most of us are getting busier and unhealthier in 2021. Some folks actually have to nerve to call this “progress”, but I call it “f*****g ridiculous”. Sadly, this is a subject for another time. Suffice to say, if you’re one of those “swamped” folks, this type of training might work even better for you.

Like I said, you don’t need to crush it. You just need to give your body a sufficient signal to promote growth.

Busy whipping up dinner for the family? Take a few minutes to squat between pre-heating the oven and grating cheese for tonight’s spaghetti and meatballs. Done. That’s it.

Is that enough? For me, yes. But don’t listen to me. Start experimenting. This is a single example from a single person. No one-size formula exists, despite what some Twitter-fitness-evangelists like to preach.

I don’t care what you think, 10 reps at 405 lbs will promote a response. Sometimes a single, heavy, set of deadlifts is all I need.

Breakfast is served.

I’m known for posting some pretty edgy material on The Gram. Eight eggs? F**k it. The people can handle the truth. I can’t stand idly by, enjoying my yolks guilt-free, while the rest of you suffer with your cauliflower (insert replacement food here).

No, it’s unconscionable. But I should explain myself further, instead of just posting gratuitous images of yolky eggs with little context. I need to get to the real heart of the artichoke.

It’s time to come clean, or at least lick the plate clean. So, let’s talk stock. And I’m not talking the S&P 500, champ.

I’m talking bouillon, b***h.

Food. Am I Right??

I thought I’d share some insights into how I approach eating. The following isn’t an exhaustive list, and I certainly don’t follow these principles 100% of the time. Instead, these are rough guidelines and strategies for reframing food that help me navigate the overwhelming abundance of options we have access to today.

I’ve talked about it before, but I often view fitness and nutrition with an 80-20 rule lens. In this context, I interpret it as a disproportionate amount of your diet’s success, say 80%, will come from a small number of causes, say 20%. In other words, there are a “vital few” number of actions that will be responsible for the vast majority of your success.

So, 80% of your fitness and nutrition goals can be reached by following the top 20% most powerful strategies. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it’s a deadly effective framework to apply when approaching your fitness and nutrition strategy. Don’t focus on optimization—focus and getting most things right.

Prioritize Protein

This might be one of the largest rocks people neglect. Calorie reduction gets a lot of love, but the protein ratio on your plate should weigh just as heavily. There are two main reasons for this.

  1. Protein builds muscle. Of the calories you feed your body, you want to ensure a sufficient portion is comprised of this muscle-building macronutrient. When losing weight, higher protein levels can help ensure a greater proportion of that weight loss comes from fat, versus muscle.
  2. Protein is satiating. Compared to carbohydrates, protein will leave you feeling fuller, longer, all else equal. Protein doesn’t trigger the same craving response that carbs do. Just try and eat a lot of steak. It’s tough. It’s even tougher to do if that steak doesn’t come saddled with mashed potatoes.

Here are a couple of examples of how I might prioritize protein in a meal.

  • Are you grabbing fast food for dinner? Skip the fries, and double up on the patty, instead. Maybe even add bacon and cheese, and lose the bun.
  • Use bone broth in place of water when making rice. Bone broth adds fantastic flavour to your rice and provides a healthy serving of protein.

Pursue Simplicity

Don’t add another unnecessary challenge to your day by trying to dream up an elaborate dinner with dozens of ingredients. Of course, there is nothing wrong with a well prepared, elaborate dinner. The problem arises if you frequently fail to make these dinners and opt for something much junkier. Have go-to, easy to access meals in your back pocket.

Here are some of my favourites.

  • Grocery store rotisserie chicken. Inexpensive and very high in protein. Filling and satiating – especially dark meat and skin. Convenient. You can eat the chicken in the grocery store parking lot before dropping Timmy at soccer practice.

Shred the chicken over some baby spinach with olive oil, lemon, and salt, if you want to get fancy.

  • Frozen ground beef. Our house never runs out of ground beef. We always have multiple pre-portioned slabs at the ready in our freezer. If nothing else, I can toss the meat on low on the stove, covered, and mix with taco seasoning for a delicious, healthy dinner. We usually enjoy it with shredded cheese, sour cream, and hot sauce. Level it up with a bed of rice if you’re feeling loco.
  • Eggs. These are a no-brainer. Healthy and affordable. You can prepare them in dozens of ways, and fast. If you have some, but not quite enough, leftovers from the night before, eggs are perfect for stretching the meal out further. I’ll add eggs over leftover sausage and steak, stir fry, or even a frozen burrito.

Get Spicy

F**k all these sauces. No one likes a saucy person, and no one likes saucy food. Yes, there are many exceptions, but I’m talking about the sugar-laden BBQ sauces, and the like. I’m not referring to some nutritious and delicious homemade sauce your grandma makes with butter and herbs.

Want to move the needle? Stop coating all your food in these canola oil concoctions.

Salt reigns supreme in flavour city. Enjoy it. And try playing around with spices and fresh herbs. Get creative and use a lot! Don’t be afraid to experiment.

And then there’s the lemon. Your favourite chef’s favourite chef’s secret weapon. Your chicken probably sucks, but lemon will make it about 43% better.

Lemon, salt, and pepper, chicken wings tick all the right boxes.

Set the Foundation

I aim to keep my carbs somewhat low. At least lower than the typical standard American diet. On days where I want to aggressively reduce my carb intake, the most effective strategy is to ensure my first meal is the strictest.

Why?

It builds momentum for the remainder of the day. Maybe it’s like making your bed, it starts the day with a win.

More importantly, though, it fills you up!

If you start the day with a high carb meal, you’ll be hungry again in no time. It’s that simple.

Your body wants carbohydrates. Carbs are an efficient source of quick energy. As a caveman with food insecurity, carbs were great. As a modern-day desk jockey, not so great.

Moreover, cavemen didn’t have cupcakes. You don’t find fat and carbs together in nature the way they exist in our food today.

Prehistoric man ate carbs, but likely earned them. They probably engaged in considerably more daily movement than we enjoy in 2020. Moreover, when carbs were found, it may have been in the form of a dozen raspberries, not a movie theatre sized serving of Sour Patch Kids.

Also, I like Sour Patch Kids.

Learn to Love Water

Forget trying to always optimize for taste. There is always a better-tasting option available, but if you fixate on only having your ideal meal or drink, you’re doomed. If you constantly drink Coke, everything else will pale in comparison (note, I like Coke even more than I like Sour Patch Kids).

If helpful, try to make your water more appealing. Drop some lemon slices or cucumber in a jug and keep the water ice cold in the fridge.

On the flip side, keep Coke in the basement, warm. If you want one, you have a hurdle to cross. Better yet, leave the Coke at the store if you have trouble resisting that devil-red can.

Don’t Fixate on ‘Deals’ on Junk Food

If you’re like me, sometimes you have difficulty passing up a “deal” on some junk food. The conversation usually goes something like this:

  • Junk Food Jesse: Oh snap, Tim Tams are on sale. That’s like 150 Tim Tams for only $20.
  • Jacked Jesse: Dumba**, remember what happened last time you bought all those Tim Tams? Are you sure this is a good idea?
  • Junk Food Jesse: Listen, bro, it’s not ideal, but wouldn’t it be irresponsible to pass up the savings? I’ll keep the cookies tucked away in the cupboard. I probably won’t even remember they’re there.
  • Jacked Jesse: You drive a hard bargain. Make it 300 Tim Tams, just in case this deal doesn’t roll around again soon.

More often than I’d like, I end up with the junk and proceed to deplete a bunker-size serving of cookies in short order.

Junk food in bulk is never a ‘good deal.’ If you have tendencies like mine, you end up eating more junk. Junk that will likely lead to additional costs down the road in terms of health expenses. It doesn’t make sense to grab four 2L of pop when they’re on sale. Eventually, you’ll pay full price, and then some.

Cardio can crush a gazillion calories in a single session, but building muscle through resistance training can be a much more enjoyable route. Muscle is metabolically active. It requires energy at all times. What does that mean in practice?

More lean muscle on your frame equates to a greater proportion of consumed calories being directed towards just maintaining that muscle, versus being stored as fat or burned for energy.

You should prioritize building lean muscle. Resistance training promotes this signal in your body. Running, unfortunately, does not.

Not only that, but your body tends to adapt quickly to excessive cardio. It becomes increasingly efficient at covering the same distance with less energy (fewer calories). When food was scarce, and you had to travel long distances to find calories, this was a great feature. You could go further with less energy. Today, we simply don’t face this problem. We face the problem of having too many calories.

All else equal, a 5 km run today will burn more calories than the next 5 km run. You burn increasingly fewer calories the more proficient you become at running, and the more your body adapts to the activity.

This is important: your body will not prioritize building muscle if you are constantly running. Why would it? Muscle is heavy, and you don’t need a lot of it to run long distances.

Take a close look at a long distance runner vs a 100 m sprinter. The marathoner’s physique is extremely slim and light, while the sprinter is packed with lean muscle. Both groups have low body fat percentages, but sprinters have far more muscle mass.

I’m not trying to convince you not to run. If you love it, and it works for you, fantastic. However, for many people, resistance training may be more conducive to their goals. If you’re like me and you enjoy eating, but hate long, steady-state cardio, picking up the barbell and building some muscle is the obvious choice.

I really enjoying training, and feed off the momentum of a disciplined regiment, but sometimes I do it too much. Usually excessive intensity without sufficient recovery.

Here’s some strategies and tactics I use to to accommodate this addiction..

My favourite room in the house.

Shorter workouts, with a limited focus.

I enjoy full body training, and still prioritize compound movements (multi-joint exercises that engage multiple muscles), but I might focus on a single compound lift certain days, giving the other lifts a break.

Instead of doing three sets of five reps on the squat, overhead press, and barbell row, I might only do squats that day, knowing full well I’m going to be drawn back to the gym the next day, and can complete the other lifts at that time.

This has a couple of benefits.

  1. Reduces the risk of overtraining.
  2. Allows me to focus on a single lift.

Regardless of how you train, some lifts will get a priority in terms of CNS (central nervous system) resources. For example, if you were to cram eight exercises into a single workout, some of those latter movements will begin to suffer, even if you didn’t explicitly work those muscles yet. The CNS impacts all.

This is relevant if your priority is to build strength. It’s not only your muscles that need to be prepared and ready to execute a heavy deadlift or squat, but also your CNS.

Assess training over multiple days, rather than each single day.

I hate taking days off, but it helps to recognize the role that recovery plays in my week’s overall progression. Recovery is necessary for growth and injury prevention. Looking at it as an extension of training is helpful, psychologically.

Leverage active recovery.

If I get a few walks in during an day off, it reminds me that I’ve done something, but didn’t interfere with the recovery process. Instead, some very light walking likely helped it.

I prioritize multiple short walks versus a single, long hike, for example. This ensures I don’t go hours on end without moving. It keeps blood flowing to my muscles throughout the day, and avoids overexertion.

In my experience, it’s far more valuable to engage in frequent, light recovery, than a single, longer session. I’ve yet to discover a more effective way to reduce the symptoms of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), than frequent, brief strolls.

Recovery Plus: Treat Yo’ Self.

I like to plan enjoyable recovery days as well. This still includes walking, but also cold exposure (cold pool, showers), sauna, stretching, and lots of healthy protein, water, salt, and anything else I might need.

Essentially, I treat myself like a pro athlete.

Recovery.

All these strategies have helped me…

✅ Reduce the risk of overtraining while maintaining momentum.

✅ Experience more enjoyable recovery days.

✅Achieve better results by ensuring my body is properly recovering and growing between strength training sessions.

Do you have any tactics that help ensure you aren’t overtraining?

Lessons from the First Half

Originally posted on Medium on September 3, 2020.

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Left: a lifetime ago, visiting Vietnam when I was 23. Right: age 35, visiting a cottage in Quebec last week.

My Trajectory

When I was a teenager I was relatively slim. I took up Karate when I was around twelve years old, unable to perform a single push-up. Thrice weekly Karate classes soon changed that. A few years later, I could easily rep out dozens. And I was still pretty slim.

I parted ways with Karate when I was sixteen. I never joined any formal sport afterwards, though did cultivate a passion for breakdancing while in high school. Those moves still come out at the occasional wedding, but sadly I can no longer windmill (this is a windmill if you’re curious).

My twenties saw a rapid decline in my physique. I ballooned up in weight. I was around 150 lbs in high school, but topped 215 lbs when I hit age 23 (with no discernible muscle included in that surplus).

My weight ebbed and flowed for the remainder of my twenties, ending right around 185 lbs at age 30. Definitely not horrible by today’s standards. But then again, today’s standards leave much to be desired.

My thirtieth birthday kicked off a quest for better health. A membership at a newly opened Globo Gym-style facility was just the ticket. Over the next eighteen months I began dropping calories, slowly and conservatively hitting weights, and frequently (way too frequently) crushing the stair mill, interval style.

This produced some impressive results. I dropped to a lean 149 lbs with a 30” waist.

The only problem was, I was hungry and weak, but at least I was slim!­­

It was at this point I decided to prioritize building muscle. Partly due to the fact I knew I’d get to enjoy more guilt free calories. And partly because I looked straight up spindly.

And so began a regiment that included a generous serving of eggs, steak, and very heavy deadlifts. I dropped cardio to virtually zero, and began following Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength Program. In hindsight, maintaining a small amount of weekly cardio would have been good idea. Otherwise, I’ve been extremely happy with the changes I enacted, namely, more calories, and heavier weights.

Fast forward to 2020. I still maintain the same 30” waist size I held at 149 lbs, but now I wake up a much healthier 170 lbs. I’m knocking out push-ups better than I did training for my black belt at age sixteen. While I was one of the few guys who couldn’t perform a pull-up as an adolescent, I’m now in the minority of men my age that can rep out a dozen plus. When I began conservatively training the barbell at age 30, I was barely pulling 150 lbs. Now I can rep out 405 lbs deadlifts on an empty stomach.

This isn’t to boast (well maybe, partly), but to show what massive potential we have in us. Even those of us who believe we are at a genetic disadvantage. And even those of us who are no longer spring chickens.

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Making a pretty face while crushing some heavy deadlifts in my garage gym.

Lessons Learned

Now on my fifth year of lifting, and well into my 35th year on this earth, I thought I would share some lessons I learned picking up the barbell in my thirties.

1. Dose Matters: When I first started lifting, I struggled to get myself to the gym. As I progressed, the difficulty of going to the gym vanished, and before I knew it, I had difficulty avoiding it. At first, I had trouble delivering a large enough ‘dose’ of exercise to elicit an optimal response. Over time, however, I started employing too high a dose. Ultimately this led to overtraining, hindering my capacity to recover and grow.

Finding the sweet spot with respect to volume, intensity, and frequency is something that takes time. It is, however, helpful to be aware that more is not always better with exercise, whether it’s cardio or resistance training.

Some exercises are so potent (heavy deadlifts for example), you likely shouldn’t engage in them more frequently than once a week. I’m talking to my peers here, specifically. Individuals in their thirties, likely out of shape, and unconditioned. I’m not referring to a 22 year-old powerlifter with above average recovery. Perhaps they can get away with more volume. You probably can’t. At least I couldn’t.

Find the sweet spot, and learn to embrace the minimum effective dose. It’s more efficient, and will help extend your lifting years.

2. Pay Homage to Pareto: With every passing year I appreciate just how valuable the fundamental barbell lifts are. I’m speaking of the overhead press, squat, deadlift, and to a lesser extent, the row and bench press.

These movements offer so much value. They are the embodiment of the Pareto Principle. Of the multitude of exercises you might engage in, this small group of core lifts will be responsible for the overwhelming majority of results. Armed with this knowledge, you can complete far more efficient training sessions. The loud awakening of your central nervous system simply can’t be replicated the same way with other movements.

My garage gym is scarcely more than a squat rack and barbell, save a couple of kettlebells and light dumbbells. I’ve eliminated options, cut out noise, and bought into the 80/20 principle with respect to resistance training.

It’s made training remarkably straightforward, and supremely effective. I’ve learned to prioritize to the main lifts, because they work.

3. Muscle is Precious: Consistency and patience are rewarded handsomely in strength training. While peak genetic cardio fitness can be reached rather quickly with proper training, peak genetic strength can take years, sometimes decades to achieve.

Put another way, with strength training, you can enjoy new personal records for years and years to come. Assuming you train intelligently, of course.

We all want to reduce body fat and increase lean muscle, but we tend to prioritize body fat reduction. I certainly did.

Body fat can come and go rather quickly, but muscle growth and reduction is a slower process (at the very least, growth is). I’m now of the belief that it’s far better to prioritize building muscle, most of the time.

If you need to drop ten lbs of body fat, this can be achieved relatively easily by disciplined individuals in short order (a few months, or even a few short few weeks). Gaining ten lbs of muscle in a single year, on the other hand, despite what some people might claim, is extremely difficult.

Muscle building is a long game. And that’s okay. It’s taken me time to realize this. I wish I had prioritized building muscle at an earlier age. It’s like a retirement account for your health. You should make deposits early and often.

4. Creative Targets are Invaluable: Success in strength training doesn’t have to be measured purely in absolute increases in poundage on the bar. There are countless ways to measure growth. Identifying these alternative targets, and tracking them, make the entire process much more enjoyable.

Achieving a new personal best can feel great. In my experience, framing your training in such a fashion that allows for a broad range of targets to be reached, leads to more sustainable lifting.

For example. If you’ve just come off an injury, aiming for your previous personal best squat on your first workout back would be irresponsible. It may be disappointing to pull back, but setting a fresh, lower target — with full acceptance that it’s being set with a healing injury — provides an honest, new challenge to overcome.

Moreover, the reality is you likely couldn’t squat that same weight, anyway. You could try, reinjure yourself, and guarantee even lower numbers in the future.

The bottom line is, learning to look for wins in creative ways will make your lifting career much more enjoyable. Age and injury are a fact of life. Numbers on the bar will not go up linearly forever. In fact, for some overachievers, linear progression can halt a few months in.

5. Identify and Embrace what Motivates You: Consistency and longevity in the gym requires more than sheer discipline for most individuals. That was certainly the case for me during my infancy of lifting. It requires some form of motivation.

For me, it was everyone around me that didn’t lift.

The older we get, the wider the gap becomes between individuals in terms of health, fitness, mobility, and physique. Why? Because we’ve had more time on this earth to either grow or destroy our bodies.

Just look at the variation in the oldest age brackets. Some are rock climbing, travelling, dancing, and even deadlifting. Others are stuck to their computer or television, depressed, immobile, and even bed ridden.

This is where I happen to find motivation. It’s all around me. Each pound I put on the bar further ensures I’ll be able to lift a bag of groceries into my old age.

Identify what drives you. Is it the confidence you feel when pulling 315 lbs off the floor? Is it the euphoria you feel after completing a heavy set of five squats? Is it the satisfaction you get knowing you’ll be able to golf when you’re 80 years old, when other men and women your age won’t be able to?

Or is it for the guns?

Whatever it might be, try to identify it, and remind yourself of it regularly.

It’s definitely for the guns, isn’t it?

One of my favourite, go-to meals is a sort of charcuterie-style plate of goodness. It’s not technically charcuterie, but it’s close enough.

**Editor’s Note: immediately upon writing this sentence I Googled “charcuterie”, and to my shock, discovered charcuterie is in fact quite different from what I’ll be detailing here, and does not in fact, traditionally include peanut butter**

My charcuterie food board generally includes a mix of meat, nuts, cheese, fruit, and veg, but with an emphasis in favour of protein. Other than that, anything goes.

Really, it’s just an assortment of finger foods thrown together. It’s like those random plates of healthy snacks you see parent’s try and feed their kids.

Is that a recipe?

Salty, savoury, crunchy…. protein-y?

This meal is flexible, easy to make, healthy, and delicious. You can whip it together on the cheap, or go all out on quality cold cuts at a nice Italian deli. It’s a perfect meal to prepare on a Friday night with your significant other. Sometimes my wife and I will make a whole event of the thing and take a drive to the nice grocery store (*wink, *wink, Farm Boy!). Part of the fun is picking out the random foods we want to munch on that night. Other times, we opt for whatever we have on hand already at home. Quick and dirty.

Quick and dirty.

The Goods

Below is a list of items I typically include in my mix. Basically it’s every food, ever.

Of course you’re not limited to this list. Should you decide to throw a charcouterie boad together yourself, get creative. Venture into the unknown. And let me know if you do. I’m always open to new suggestions for the mix.

Leftover grilled chicken, cucumber, red pepper, cashews.
Finish with olive oil, lemon, and salt, as needed.

meat

  • Salami
  • Chorizo, or any Sausage, thinly sliced, cooked well done *chef’s kiss*
  • Pepperettes
  • Chicken (grocery store BBQ chickens torn up are great for this meal)
  • Steak
  • Bacon
  • Meatballs

fruit & veg

  • Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries
  • Sliced apple (thinly slice Granny Smith is great with cheddar cheese or peanut butter and salt)
  • Cucumbers
  • Red, yellow, green peppers
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Grapes

cheese

  • Cheddar.
  • Cream cheese (like Boursin)
  • Brie
  • Grilled Halloumi

nuts

  • Cashews
  • Almonds
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts
  • Peanuts

other

  • Sliced hard-boiled eggs
  • Hot pickled peppers
  • Pickles
  • Crackers
  • Peanut Butter
Chicken, grilled halloumi, strawberries, sausage.

I’m sure I’ve missed some other foods I typically include, so I’ll add those in the future as I remember them. In the meantime, here’s some more pics.

More of the same… Almost.
Apple with Peanut Butter and Sea Salt, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Cashews, Cheddar Cheese, Chicken.
That’s not weird, is it?

Tomorrow my friend James and I have an opportunity to put in a longer than usual lift. We get together at least twice a week to pull iron, usually Tuesday and Thursday, and very often Saturday as well. Tomorrow happens to be Tuesday. Tuesday sessions are always followed up with a protein-heavy BBQ (so are Saturdays, to be honest… we like BBQ).

Our Tuesday sessions lately have also included a round of Rory McIlroy PGA Tour on the Xbox after the lift and meal. It’s a nice little ritual. We put in a lot of work, but we enjoy ourselves. It’s something we both look forward to.

All major food groups represented.

This past weekend I was away at a cottage, so naturally we didn’t get an opportunity to lift on Saturday. And since we have a bit more time tomorrow, I figure it’s an opportunity to enjoy a more substantial training session.

The plan is to work through a full body workout, but with a slight emphasis on the deadlift and bench press.

I like to start all my training these days with banded warm-ups. They help me warm up my shoulder for a wide range a movements, whether pulling, pushing, or gripping the barbell comfortably for a low bar squat. I take a light band and loosen up my shoulders for roughly five minutes. This would typically include movements like face pulls, band pull-aparts, banded rows, and band pass throughs.

I won’t include warm-up sets below, but I’ll surely include them in the workout I complete. Complete as many warm-up sets as you deem necessary for the barbell lifts.

THE NITTY GRITTY

  • Squats: 3 sets of 5 reps
  • Pull-Ups: 1 set of AMRAP (as many reps as possible)
  • Inverted Rows: 1 set of AMRAP
  • Barbell Bench Press: 5 sets of 3 reps
  • Incline Bench Press: 2 sets of 12 reps
  • Deadlifts: 1 x 5
  • Banded Deadlifts: 2 x 10
  • Barbell ‘Cheat’ Rows: 2 x 5
  • Strict Barbell Rows: 1 x 12
  • Push-Ups: 2 sets of AMRAP
  • Pull-Ups: 1 set of AMRAP

Good old fashioned hard training. Any questions?

Ready to put in work at ‘The Office’.

Here’s an easy dinner I threw together this evening with a beef tenderloin and an Instant Pot. It was the ‘chain’ section off a larger tenderloin I previously cut into filets (just like this). Feel free to sub a different type of meat in place of beef.

I enjoyed the shredded beef over a bed of rice, with a rough chop of cucumber and red pepper, doused in olive oil, lemon, and salt. You can skip the rice and salad, and go a completely different route altogether. This is really a recipe about the beef, specifically.

Tacos perhaps?

It looks so much better once it’s cooked, I swear…

Ingredients

  • Beef Tenderloin – feel free to substitute for pork shoulder, chicken, etc. To be honest, I have no idea what size my tenderloin actually was. It was part of a larger cut. Probably around 3 lbs or so (~1.4 kg), and yielded roughly four solid servings.
  • Taco Seasoning – I had one of those taco packets in the cupboard, but you can just as easily get creative with individual spices: cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, etc.
  • Stock – I only had chicken broth on hand, but recommend beef bone broth if given the choice. About 1/2 a cup of stock will be needed for the beef in the Instant Pot.
  • Salt

Directions

  1. Place the beef in the Instant Pot along with the stock and taco seasoning.
  2. Cover the pot and set the lid’s valve to ‘Sealing’.
  3. Set the Instant Pot to ‘Beef/Stew’ for 25 minutes (or simply ‘High’ for 25 minutes).
  4. Once cooking complete, allow the Instant Pot to naturally release for at least 10 minutes (i.e. do NOT set to ‘Venting’ for that time). If the Instant Pot is not depressurized after 10 minutes, at that point, go ahead and set the valve to ‘Venting’.
  5. Optional: Remove some of the excess liquid, if required. You can use a ladle to remove a few scoops, or alternatively, set the Instant Pot to ‘saute’ with the lid open, and allow some of the excess liquid to evaporate and reduce.
  6. Shred the beef with two forks.
  7. Salt generously to taste.
  8. Enjoy with rice, salad, or straight up carnivore style, on its own.
Now we’re talking.

One Last Note

I left out the recipe for rice… Since it’s not much of a recipe. And everyone seems to have a preferred method for making rice, anyway. So what’s the point?

That said, if you do opt to make rice, I highly recommend that you use bone broth to cook it (in place of water), and finish the rice with a healthy dollop of butter. It’ll make your rice taste delicious, and most importantly, you’re giving yourself a nice added serving of protein.

Who doesn’t want protein rice? Nobody. That’s who. Absolutely nobody doesn’t want protein rice.

Is it even worth photographing without a lemon wedge?

I’ve written about this before, but I need to mention it again. This entry overlaps with my post on ten minute workouts, but this covers a more specific application. I’m going to call it the ‘Non-Workout, Workout‘. At least until I think of a better name.

Essentially, it’s just reframing training. You’re still putting in work, but it’s broken down into smaller parts, and inserted into another activity. Maybe it’s hitting 20 kettlebell swings every commercial break, or blasting out some push-ups while you make coffee. The idea is the exercise is secondary.

You’re not allotting an hour or two to lift iron. Instead, you just happened to have knocked out some pull-ups before each Skype meeting you had yesterday afternoon. It didn’t take a tonne of effort, physically or mentally. And it certainly didn’t require you to change clothes and schedule an appropriate time to move.

When do I use this:

  • I’m short on time.
  • I’ve recently been over training, but want some form of movement.
  • I don’t feel like training. Probably the most common scenario, to be honest.

How Does it Work?

I sneakily slip in a few sets of some exercises into whatever else I might be doing. Typically, it means completing supersets of pull-ups and push-ups while I prepare and cook dinner. I described this in a recent post, but to reiterate, here’s what one of these Non-Workout Workouts might look like (in fact, this what I did earlier this evening):

  • 10 pull-ups, 25 push-ups
    • Formed some burgers out of seasoned ground beef I had in the fridge.
  • 10 pull-ups, 25 push-ups
    • Started BBQ.
  • 10 pull-ups, 25 push-ups
    • Put burgers on grill.
  • 10 pull-ups, 25 push-ups.
    • Finished cooking burgers.
Burgers and strawberries. A summertime favourite.

That little routine barely disrupted my dinner preparation. Obviously it wasn’t a crushing workout, but it was something. And since I was reluctant to train today, the choice really boiled down to completing this small routine, or nothing at all.

And I didn’t really view this evenings push-ups and pull-ups as a workout. Not because it was light in volume, rather, because all I was doing was cooking dinner, the exercise itself was secondary, incidental. Or at least that’s what I tell myself. Like, “oh, may as well bust out a few chin-ups when I pass by the door frame. No big deal.”

It’s a simple and powerful system I use when I’m short on time, or more commonly, short on enthusiasm.

Sun’s out, guns out. Finishing up the burgers after a light push/pull.

This is my go-to mix at the moment. It replaces a lifting playlist I shared previously that was created under my wife’s Spotify account. Figured I should create something under my own name. Some overlap with the original, but with a little more rock in this latest iteration.

It’s not terribly long. Just over an hour. That said, expect the playlist to expand in the future.