Burn Belly Fat With This 2 Part Strategy

You’ve been told spot reduction is impossible.

You laugh at the ladies (and some men) wearing their ‘waist trimmers’ (don’t stop laughing at them)

And you think to yourself “Just eat clean and train hard.”

Right?

Sure. That’s all I knew for the better part of a decade.

You know these things too… but that doesn’t mean they help you do them consistently.

(Stay with me here… it’ll all make sense very soon).

I lived like a monk in pursuit of the perfect body for years.

I watched everything I put in my mouth and sacrificed a lot.

I would never eat the foods I loved — and never dared miss a meal for fear of losing ‘muscle’

On top of that, I trained excessively as often as I could.

Did it work?

Sure, well, maybe, but I could’ve gotten there an easier way.

Let me explain…

These days, I don’t spend hours in the gym. I’m building a business, have a beautiful family and work with a growing roster of guys across the globe.

I eat fun ‘off limit’ food such as hamburgers and fries, ice cream and guess what?

I found a way to look decent and feel great anyway.

My bloodwork is top shelf, according to my doc.

Plus, I enjoy the process a lot more these days.

The diet isn’t a chore because I always have something to look forward to.

The workouts are of my choosing, not some random roided up bodybuilder.

I THOUGHT I had to eat dry chicken every day.

I THOUGHT I had to do crazy workouts, buy a ton of supplements and wash it down with a fancy shake immediately after.

But I now realize this is unsustainable when you have other priorities in your life.

And all of my clients are in the same boat.

But we know there’s a fine line there. You are on this site for a reason. You are not your average Dad Bod totin’, lethargic couch potato.

If you read the TOT Optimization Bible from my friends at TOT Revolution, you know getting older requires you to find that 2% to improve your manhood, body composition and quality of life. That may mean TOT, shoring up your diet or smart supplementation.

It’s no different in the gym.

As a guy, you’ve probably dealt with stubborn belly fat at one time or another.

The Belly Fat Solution

Now, according to science, you can actually spot target that stubborn stuff – with the right approach to training.

Poor blood flow to certain areas of the body – obliques and lower abs for example – equats to poor fat loss from those areas. Hence the ‘stubborn’ term.

But the right training strategy can shift calorie burning toward localized areas of fat storage. (Stallknecht, 2007)

Blood flow and lipolysis (i.e. fat burning) are generally higher in subcutaneous adipose tissue adjacent to the contracting muscle.

In layman’s terms, if you train your abs the right way at the right time, the belly fat on the outside of the abs will “burn” preferentially when you throw some conditioning work at it.

Essentially, finish your workout going back and forth between an ab exercise and a conditioning exercise.

Pick an ab exercise. Any movement will work. The goal is just to direct blood flow toward that area. For maximum effect, you want the ab set to last 45-60 seconds. Less than that and you won’t be getting as much blood flow to the region, according to an article on T-Nation.

Then jump to a conditioning exercise. Any demanding energy systems activity will work here. Sprints, hill sprints, Prowler pushing, battle ropes, tire flipping, etc.

You want the whole session to be non-stop for 10-15 minutes, supersetting the two exercises with minimal rest.

For some specific finishers, Mortal Kombat style, visit this blog

Plan B

In a more recent study, the researchers tested this hypothesis with a small change – pairing steady state cardio (not HIIT) with circuit-based weight training.

In this study, combining circuit-based resistance training with steady state endurance exercise (i.e. 30 minutes at a steady pace on a bike) resulted in fat mass reduction adjacent to the trained muscle due to enhanced blood flow. In other words, train legs followed by cardio, and your leg bodyfat will reduce preferentially.

One problem: Excessive cardio (or timing cardio and weights concurrently in this fashion) can have an “interference” effect on the muscular adaptations you want to occur after resistance training. If building muscle is your primary focus, exercise caution with this strategy and/or separate weights and cardio by several hours (or even days). This was also in a group of largely untrained women. Would the results be applicable to advanced gym rats? Maybe, maybe not.

Now, let’s be clear. This is only a couple studies as well. Many other studies stand in contrast, showing localized fat loss adjacent to trained muscles do not occur. No study stands on its own, especially those with small sample sizes.

Further still, spot reduction is not something you need to worry about when you have a lot of body fat to lose all over. Focus on the big rocks of nutrition, like a smart diet overall 

FREE Download: Have a fair bit of fat to lose first? Need a place to start in 30 seconds or less? Grab this easily digestible (pun intended) two-page diet cheat sheet to simplify your diet without fads, quick fixes or calorie counting.

The Belly Fat Solution – Part II

There may be a way to dig into those stubborn fat stores even more so, combining the strategy above with this small addition.

As you may have read in the TOT Optimization Bible, nicotine can help your body convert stored fat into energy that is then used by your muscle tissues.

When your body is in a state of low insulin/glucose, using nicotine will help get stored fat out of cells and make it ready to be used as energy, like say, during cardio after weights when you’re carb depleted.

The TOT Optimization Bible advocates for its use, with a disclaimer:

“When you use nicotine in a nasal spray, gum or lozenge, it is much different than using a tobacco product. Tobacco is a known carcinogen, whereas nicotine is not. Nicotine, by itself in its pure form, has shown no adverse health effects. When used in conjunction with a fat loss diet, such as The Metabolic Blowtorch Diet, supplemental nicotine gum has been shown to suppress appetite. If it is combined with caffeine, these actions are enhanced. Lastly, nicotine can also help your body convert stored fat into energy that is used by your muscle tissues.”

 

New Year’s Resolution: Cheat On Your Diet More

After a holiday season full of overindulgence, you are particularly motivated (or guilty) to start a healthy lifestyle.

Regardless of all that enthusiasm, most New Year’s resolutions fall off by mid-February.

The statistics are grim – especially when you include the mental sadness that accompanies a diet comprised of celery sticks and tears.

How can you change your success rate this year? Cheat on your diet more.

Say what?

According to Australian researchers (thanks, guys!) a group taking frequent diet breaks lost ~50% more fat compared to a group dieting continuously for 16 weeks.

The researchers recruited 51 obese men and divided them into two groups.

All were put on a diet geared toward weight loss, providing only 67% of the calories needed to maintain their weight.

The first group was the control group who dieted for 16 consecutive weeks.

The second group undertook a 30-week diet, alternating two weeks of dieting with two weeks of maintenance calories throughout.

The Results

Aside from losing 50% more fat overall, almost all of the extra pounds of weight lost by the diet break group was fat as well.

But the positive results didn’t end there. The researchers continued to monitor both groups for a period of six months after the study’s conclusion.

Both regained some weight, but weight loss in the diet break group was 17.9 pounds greater than the control group overall.

One caveat: The diet break group did take twice as long to accomplish their results (30 weeks compared to 16) but the researchers believed the breaks helped prevent the slowing of one’s metabolism, a common side effect of aggressive diets over the long haul.

Also of equal importance is the fact these diet breaks weren’t a two-week bender filled with Chinese buffets. The men still tracked their calories, with a return to ‘maintenance’ calories 33% higher than on the diet, while still keeping tabs on weight gain. During these diet breaks in the study, there was no loss or gain of body weight. I.E. They didn’t go off the rails.

BONUS: Grab this free Mansformation diet cheat sheet and get a simple and sustainable nutrition plan to help drop those first 5 or so pounds. Warning: You might need to create a new hole in your belt as your waist shrinks.

More Proof Diet Breaks Work…

In another study, scientists from the University of Quebec put 15 gym rats (all men) on a “Super Size Me” diet, comprised of nothing but McDonald’s for two weeks.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner filled with nothing but Egg McMuffins, Big Macs, fries and coke (yes, they even ditched the diet coke!).

Courtesy wikipedia

Sounds like some sort of twisted heaven for the fat kid inside you, right?

Throughout the short study, they also did daily 30-minute high-intensity interval sessions on a treadmill, sprinting full out followed by a recovery time, rinse and repeat.

Surely, despite the cardio, their insides were rotting and the scale ballooned?

Wrong.

They didn’t gain weight.

And their health, according to the researchers, improved aside from a negative drop in HDL cholesterol (considered the ‘good’ cholesterol).

Of course, this study was only two weeks long. Had they continued to eat this way, you’d have to assume things may turn for the worse eventually (Who’s up for the challenge?).

But, the good news is if you’re feeling guilty about a holiday binge or two – don’t sweat it. Just brush it off and get back on plan.

How Can You Apply This?

Unless you have a pressing weight loss goal like an upcoming vacation, wedding or bodybuilding show, you can take the long view and mix in short-term periods of diet breaks like the two above examples and do just fine over the long haul.

However, you could theoretically take less frequent breaks, say every 8 weeks of your diet rather than every 2, and likely get a similar result in less time.

As you know, if your diet is filled with restrictions, as soon as you return to old habits, the weight creeps back on.

One way around that just might be built-in diet breaks, so you have something to look forward to throughout the process.

Mitch Calvert is a transformation coach for men like his former self, with worse genetics than Chris Farley. Yes, the chubby dude from Tommy Boy. Get Mitch’s free Mansformation Cheat Sheet to simplify your diet and start shedding that stubborn belly fat.

Sources

Byrne, NM, et al. “Intermittent energy restriction improves weight loss efficiency in obese men: the MATADOR study.” International Journal of Obesity, 17, August, 2017.

Christian Duval, Marc-Antoine Rouillier, Rémi Rabasa-Lhoret, and Antony D. Karelis. “High Intensity Exercise: Can It Protect You from A Fast Food Diet?” Nutrients 2017, 9(9).

 

7 Common Fat Loss Mistakes (Here’s How To Fix Them)

I want to share a secret with you…

Come closer.

It’s just you and me now…

Here it is: If you aren’t burning more calories than you’re consuming, you aren’t going to lose weight (for those that are trying to).

One of the simplest ways to cut calories (and speed up fat loss) is to eliminate some of these “calorie bomb” foods and employ a few tricks to keep yourself under maintenance.

Here are 7 common fat loss mistakes and tips to correct to them:

Mistake #1: ‘Healthy’ Cooking Oils

You should be finding areas to “save” calories on a diet.

As you may know, fat is the most calorie dense food at 9 calories per gram.

You can very easily turn a calorie deficit into a surplus by getting a little too liberal with the peanut butter or cooking oils.

Watch your oil intake. Free-pouring oils (even healthy ones) into the pan to cook can quickly add as much as 250-300 calories.

How do you avoid this? Swap out cooking oils for sprays when preparing your meals.

Any cooking spray will do – even canola. You’ll be using trace amounts anyway.

Mistake #2: Watch the Sugary Sauces

Barbeque sauce. Teriyaki. Honey dill. Full sugar ketchup.

Sauces can add as much as 10 grams of sugar with every single tablespoon (and let’s be honest, you’re using a lot more than that!)

Instead of flavouring your meats with sauces, swap them out for seasoning salts and spices. Salt doesn’t add any calories to your meal, and in fact can aid your performance in the gym.

There are countless rubs, spices, salts, etc. for you to try out on your meats.

Whether you go for a pre-made rub, or create your own, pick out some new spices and give them a go.

Here’s a poor man’s alternative to teriyaki sauce: soy sauce with a few packets of Splenda mixed in.

Or look into Walden Farms line of calorie-free products.

As much as you may hate to hear it, if you are struggling to manage your weight it’s likely your portion control sucks.

By eliminating hidden calories, you won’t notice much difference in taste but your calorie intake will decrease on auto pilot.

Mistake #3: Drinking ‘Healthy’ Sugar Bombs

Drink zero calorie beverages only.

Somehow, drinks with ‘new’ versions of sugar such as agave and cane are being marketed as better choices than zero cal drinks.

Both sugar is still “sugar” – no matter what way you dress them up.

Stick to the odd zero cal beverage, water, teas, and coffee.

But there’s a caveat with coffee: Drink it black.

Forget the venti frap with whip that has more calories than a Big mac.

You don’t need a metric tonne of sugar before work.

PS – Even worse, if you put butter and coconut oil in it, I will hunt you down.

Mistake #4: Being Scared of Eating Meat

Protein reduces your levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin.

It also has a high TEF – or Thermic Effect of Food. Meaning that as much as 20-30% of the calories from protein are “burned off” just to digest the protein,  compared to carbs (5-10%) and fat (0-3%).

Plus, it helps you maintain lean body mass as you diet down. When you’re in a significant calorie deficit (i.e. eating less than you burn), your body is happy to feast on muscle for energy. It doesn’t tend to throw out just fat and keep muscle… unless you eat lots of protein and weight train.

That’s why scale weight is not the only measurement of success.

A high protein intake may help prevent muscle loss when daily calories are reduced for weight loss.

In one study, researchers at McMaster University, found it’s possible to gain muscle while cutting fat—in just 4 weeks.

In their month-long study published last year, 40 overweight men in their 20s followed an exercise program and ate a calorie-restricted diet of 40% fewer calories below maintenance.

The wrinkle? Half the men followed a lower-protein diet (1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight) and the other half followed a higher-protein diet (2.4 grams per kilogram of body weight).

The results: After 28 days, the higher-protein group saw 2.3 pounds of muscle gain and 10.5 pounds of weight loss. The lower-protein group retained their muscle mass (broke even) and lost about 8 pounds.

Mistake #5: Not Getting Enough Sleep

Getting enough quality sleep can also help reduce hunger and protect against weight gain.

Studies show that too little sleep can increase hunger and appetite, and chronically over time has been linked to higher rates of obesity.

Get your shut-eye by any means necessary!

Mistake #6: Overcomplicating Dinnertime 

It’s a great thought to start making elaborate, healthy recipes to support your goals.

But often these complicated recipes come with tons of ingredients in them.

You don’t have time to be consistent with this.

Many people my age have children of their own along with their careers. If your meals contain more than just a few ingredients, they probably won’t be made on a regular basis.

If you’re struggling to find good, wholesome, healthy meals, remember you can’t go wrong with a piece of meat, some whole food carbs, and some veggies.

A few simple, meal examples you can easily fit into this:

  • Mexican night – tacos or fajitas
  • Stir-fry
  • Steaks
  • Spaghetti
  • Fish/salmon
  • Crockpot meals – beef stews etc.

Any of these can be combined with some rice/potatoes/pasta and veggies to make a wholesome, complete meal in minutes.

BONUS: Grab this free Mansformation cheat sheet and get a simple and sustainable nutrition plan to follow. Warning: You might need to create a new hole in your belt as your waist shrinks…

Mistake #7: Grazing After Hours

A tip I picked up from Jason Helmes: “Close the kitchen” immediately after dinner.

As soon as you are finished eating dinner, “close the kitchen” and scrub all of the dishes, pots, and pans.

Wipe off all the counters, close all the pantries, put away everything, and leave the room.

At that point, the kitchen is “off limits” and feeding time is over.

This may not prevent you from wandering in and staring longingly into the pantry for junk food to appear, but because you’ve cleaned up, subconsiously you’ll have second thoughts about messing it up again for a quick fix.

Such a simple thing, and it works like a charm.

PS – When you’re ready, here’s the three most popular ways to work with me that my clients love…

1. 30 Days To Thor: The Ultimate Chubby-to-Jacked Transformation Plan. Ryan lost 20 pounds in one month following this protocol (see his testimonial at the link)
http://mitchcalvert.com/thor-on-sale/

2. Mansformation Group Coaching. If you’re tired of looking and feeling the same… year in and year out… Mansformation Group Coaching shows you exactly how to eat and exercise properly so you finally get the pinnacle of fitness (health AND body) you want.
https://calvertfitness.lpages.co/mansformation-group-program/

3. Mansformation Custom VIP Coaching. The most remarkable transformations happen here. If you want to impress your wife or mistress with a lean midsection and bicep peaks, this is for you.
http://mitchcalvert.com/online-coaching/
 

Back Row at His Own Funeral

It’s wise to ‘picture the end’ sometimes…

What do I mean by that?

Well, envision yourself in the future.

One clever way researchers have done this is to show people pictures of themselves digitally aged.

If you’re looking to lose weight, use pictures of yourself digitally fattened up and refer to that mental image in the moment.

When you see older or fatter versions of yourself, you are more likely to see your current and future self as the same person.

When you understand that your choices today shape your future – good or bad – you become self-aware.

Take it a step further and picture yourself at your OWN funeral.

Yikes. Uncomfortable.

But here’s what this looks like…

Back Row At His Own Funeral

Someone you don’t recognize is handing out programs, printed with the face of a white-haired guy in a suit.

Family members are taking the pews, which are otherwise bare.

You recognize the church, all cavernous and bare, and knew you’d be invisible in the back row.

They sure picked a shitty picture, you think, scanning the program.

You look fat.

“Couldn’t they have found one with me smiling?”

But you knew the answer to that question.

You see your daughter and her newborn baby in the front row.

Her head is in her hands, crying.

You flashback to a special moment:

“Daddy, Daddy, Daddy! Come here, Daddy”

As she runs into the room, excited to share one of her projects from school.

Your eyes light up at the thought.

But just as instantly, you feel a sense of deep regret in the pit of your stomach.

“You knew at that moment, didn’t you, asshole?”

Your bad habits were slowly leading you down this path…

“So why didn’t you get off the couch?”

Fuck.

Your wife is across the aisle.

Boy, she looks like she’s aged 10 years since you last locked eyes on her.

More people drift through now, a cell phone goes off, and you see your brother reach for a tissue.

This is it.

You’ll be leaving this room in an urn, a tidy departure from this world.

Left to collect dust on a shelf.

But better than rotting six feet under, you figure.

At least that was your thought process when arrangements were made and the will was written.

Your brother takes the stand.

He talks about all the usual BS spewed at these things: you were a good father, husband, hard-working man.

He throws in a few stories that bring about a stifled laugh or two from friends.

You drift off and are overcome by a memory of the two of you and your dad.

“Dad, your head looks like an egg,” you said in front of the whole team of bantam hockey players, prompting shocked, amused laughter from teammates.

He was just blasting us for a bad period of play, too.

Dad eventually went full Bruce Willis and kept it shaved down to the bone – no more bald spot.

Still looked like an egg…

Now it’s your aunt’s turn to speak.

What’s she got to say?

More of the usual stuff. Boring.

Watching your relatives step up, overcome by emotion, triggers another memory.

It was a summer day like any other.

You were stocking shelves at the local Safeway and that dick head manager of yours flags you down, talking on the phone like he’d seen a ghost.

Not the usual high-and-mighty smirk you were used to seeing when he came to bark orders at you.

Odd, you thought.

“Your mom is on the phone,” manager Dick Head says.

You were just 16 when your father died suddenly of a heart attack.

You showed no emotion on that phone call or at the funeral.

Kept it all bottled up inside.

Family members reacted with awkward, stiff sympathies, leaving you confused and guilty for not crying.

What did they want?

You felt a loss – for sure – but how did they expect you to express any of it at that age?

You should’ve vowed to take care of yourself, you think…

The genetic lottery was working against you. Your dad’s sudden death was proof of that.

At this point, the minister seems to look right at you: “The floor’s open, if anyone wishes to speak.”

You jump to attention.

Of course, you’d like to…

Tell everyone how thankful you are.

Tell everyone how much you’re going to miss them.

Tell everyone how much you wish you could’ve stopped drinking and eating yourself to an early grave.

But it’s too late.

Your story has been written.

No do-overs.

 

Get Pumped With Partials

New Study Shows Partial Reps Pump You Up More Than Full ROM Reps

A recent study shows that training through a partial range of motion led to almost twice as much muscle growth as full ROM training.

When most think of progress, they think of continuously adding weight to the bar week after week.

But there are many ways to go about it.

One way to progress without adding weight to the bar, which has long been used by bodybuilders, now has a study to back its effectiveness – partial reps.

Basically, when you get to a point where you can no longer perform a rep fully with good form, just involve the bottom portion of a rep (1/4-1/2 reps) to extend the set and push past failure. 

The New Study Results

The recent study can be found here in its entirety.

It put 44 young men with at least one year of training experience, who regularly trained their triceps at least once per week, to the test.

Split into a full-ROM and partial-ROM group, they each did barbell triceps extensions three times per week for eight weeks, performing 3 sets of 8 reps per session with a minute between sets.

The key findings, first reported by Greg Nuckols in his MASS research guide, found the partial-ROM triceps extensions group had nearly twice as much hypertrophy as the full-ROM group.

What’s Happening Here?

Writers have been preaching constant tension for years when hypertrophy is the goal, which generally involves stopping a movement just short of full ROM and not locking out each rep.

Previous research supports that lifting with continuous tension can provide a potent stimulus for muscular hypertrophy, even when relatively light loads are used (Tanimoto et al., 2008).

But most studies on partial reps before this one compared a full ROM to the top half of a ROM – deep squats versus half squats, for example – in contrast, a constant tension approach to squatting is more about emphasizing the eccentric/bottom half of the movement, prolonging muscle tension.

This study compared full-ROM training to partial-ROM training the way it’s typically used for hypertrophy, employing an approach that keeps constant tension on the muscle in a stretched position. I.E. Emphasizing the eccentric lowering of the weight and staying in that groove.

Time & Place For Partials

When performing the big basic lifts such as squats, deadlifts, and barbell bench presses, focus on lifting big weights and using good form, not trying to push beyond failure with partials out of the hole. That’s asking for trouble.

However, for more targeted isolation movements, this approach is very effective. Think of a piston continuously moving up and down with no built-in rest periods – that’s what you want your reps to look like.

Partial-ROM “constant tension” training is useful for exercises where it’s difficult to keep tension on the target muscle through the full range of motion, such as barbell triceps extensions or pec flyes.

It also plays a part in extending sets on exercises that allow you to do it safely and effectively (think dumbbell or machine exercises).

Hey, before you go…

Do you have worse genetics than Chris Farley? Yes, the chubby dude from Tommy Boy. I feel you. Get my free “Mansformation Cheat Sheet” to simplify your diet and start shedding that stubborn belly fat, even with shat genetics.

 

The Curious Case of Christophe

There’s a trend in the fitness community that focuses on small habits for successful weight loss.

“Eat one more vegetable this week”

“Walk 32 more steps today”

“Stop at 3 slices of pie”

That’s all well and good, but when someone’s truly MOTIVATED to change, they are in a position to go ALL IN.

Why dabble at that point?

Dabbling gets you mediocre results.

When a person leaves their comfort zone, a rapid evolution follows.

I get a handful of inquiries regarding online coaching every week.

This is a service I DO still offer and is actually how I predominantly make my living.

But I can usually tell when/if someone is ready to go ‘all in’ based on what they write in those answers.

Christophe was one of those who jumped off the application page.

Here’s his results…

Considerably leaner in the face and mid-section.

Same thing from the back.

Sure, there’s more work to do. But that’s a lot of progress in a short amount of time.

Would he have achieved this by eating a few more vegetables and walking another block? Maybe in 6 months, not 8 weeks.

All told, 10 pounds down and just shy of 5 inches overall (plus some added fullness in his shoulders)

With his graduation from the program – and another who had to step away early due to a family emergency – I have a couple spots opening…

Some ‘side effects’ of the Mansformation program:

  • Go down a notch in your belt so your belly stops overhanging your favourite jeans
  • Lose somewhere between 8-26 pounds in 60-90 days (past averages)
  • Trim your beer gut or muffin top and love handle
  • Free yourself from the tired, stressed out, lethargic version so you sleep better and better adapt to daily pressures in career/family life

>> Apply for your Mansformation HERE <<

 

My (scary) DNA test results

I recently decided to send my spit to 23andMe, the personal genetics company that sells direct-to-consumer tests.

The test gave me information on everything from how much DNA I share with Neanderthal ancestors, to whether I’m likely to go bald before 40, to whether or not I might have certain genetic variations of common diseases.

The first report was my ancestry composition. As expected, I’m largely Irish/British with a little Scandinavian. My grandpa was Irish, grandma was Swedish. The French and German come from my mom’s side. Not sure what to attribute to the 0.1% South Asian – maybe a great, great uncle who got around?

Next up was the estimated body weight test. According to my genes, I’m predisposed to weigh more than average, but not by a ton. Based on my chubby kid days, this is accurate.

I found out I’m predisposed to having “sprinter/power type” muscles because I have two copies of a muscle protein that’s been connected to Olympic sprinters. Was I born with this or did lifestyle (read: lifting weights) bring it on? Not sure. I was never very athletic growing up, so this was a bit surprising. I’m definitely more of a sprinter type than an endurance runner though.

This genetic marker in the ACTN3 gene controls whether muscle cells produce a protein(called alpha-actinin-3) that’s found in fast-twitch muscle fibers. While some people don’t produce this protein at all, almost all of the elite power athletes who have been studied have a genetic variant that allows them to produce the protein. Winning.

Another test that seemed accurate (thankfully): I’m unlikely to experience hair loss before age 40 nor end up with a bald spot.

It was incredible to see all the different things the test could tell based on a sample of spit. The science of determining features based on a DNA sample is getting more advanced in recent years, but much of it is still limited. When it came to many of my results, though, pretty much everything the test showed me was spot-on.

I’m not likely to be a deep sleeper… or move much in my sleep… check. (I only get a small corner of our king size bed anyway)

I’m not likely to have a unibrow… check.

I’m not likely to have any back hair… check.

I’m not likely to have red hair… check. (Dodged that bullet!)

But other results surprised me, like the one saying I don’t flush drinking alcohol. Not true. I’ve always gotten red in the face after a few drinks. Again, some of it is based on statistical averages and not a perfect science.

I got to the most controversial part of the test at the end: the carrier-status test, which tells me if I carry a specific variant that I could pass down to my children and result in a genetic disease. 23andMe was very thorough in their presentation here, making it clear that these couldn’t be used to inform my own health. I tested negative for things like Parkinson’s, late-onset Alzeimer’s, Celiac disease etc.

However, I do carry a variant for cystic fibrosis.  People with one variant aren’t likely to get the disease, but if you and your partner are carriers, your child may have a 25% chance of having this condition.

The takeaway: At $249CDN a test, it’s a bit of a cost but super simple to do. They send you the kit, you spit in it and mail it back. I’ll definitely be encouraging friends and family to try it. It has some amazing data at your fingertips. You can order your kit online here:

 

 

Mind Over Muscle: Get Stronger With Your Mind

Become a monk and get jacked.

What’s this sorcery, you say?

Well, you only look for external solutions to build muscle and burn fat. Right

But have you ever considered the solution might be within that noggin’ of yours?

You’re surely ready to call my bluff, but science has come to my rescue with recent research showing mental training (i.e. meditation and visualization) leads to more muscle and strength gains in the gym.

The study results

According to a recent study first reviewed in the MASS Research Review service, two groups of high-level male kickboxers performed the same weight lifting program over 12 weeks.

One of the groups did additional mental training, including motivational self-talk and visualization.

While both groups got stronger, the mental training group experienced larger strength increases, along with decreases in heart rate and blood pressure, and improvements in their testosterone:cortisol ratio.

All good things if being healthy and looking better naked are your goals.

Graph provided by Lyndsey Nuckols

Graph provided by Lyndsey Nuckols

What Did The Mental Training Consist Of?

The mental training group performed motivational self-talk between sets and meditation at the end of each workout.

The athletes were told to identify negative self-talk and to restate that negative statement as a positive or motivating statement.

For example, if the kickboxer caught himself thinking “I’m not sure I can lift this much weight,” they’d instead be instructed to repeat something like, “I could lift more weight” between sets.

Meanwhile, the mental imagery session after the workout consisted of internal kinesthetic imagery. Basically, they were instructed to imagine themselves performing each exercise successfully, looking out through their own eyes in a first person view.

The study also notes that they “urged the muscles to contract maximally,” during the meditative exercise, though according to the MASS Review, it’s unclear whether the participants actually maximally contracted their muscles, or just imagined their muscles contracting.

Putting It Into Practice

So how can you implement this mental program with a job, kids and Game of Thrones to watch?

First up is the self-talk – which was used during rest periods to mentally prepare for the next set – and is an easy strategy to implement.

Simply stay focused (put away your smartphone and try not to gawk longingly at the girl doing tricep kickbacks on the next bench over) and believe you can lift the weight on the bar, reframing any negative thoughts into positive ones.

No need to give yourself a pep talk in the mirror ala Paul Rudd in Wanderlust. But getting yourself into a positive frame of mind before getting under the bar is key.

For example, if your squat normally sucks, particularly when coming up quickly out of the bottom position, focus on overcoming that issue in your head before the set (state “I know I can drive up fast with this weight”) rather than simply dwelling on it in a negative light (“I suck at squats and I’m slow out of the hole”).

The second piece, the mental imagery meditation session, may be harder to make a habit of.

Study participants spent 30 minutes in thought, post-training, which is a long extension of your workout when you’re probably already late to pick up the kids.

However, the timing of your mental imagery is likely not going to break you, according to the MASS review. Start with five minutes of meditation at some point during the day, visualizing yourself lifting successfully in the gym, and build up slowly from there.

Get Mitch’s handy “Mansformation Cheat Sheet” to simplify your diet and start reprogramming your brain through nutrition.

Study link: Effects of Mental Training on Muscular Force, Hormonal and Physiological Changes in Kickboxers. Slimani et al. (2017)