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)

 

 

Why You Need Red Meat

What the … Health.

You may have heard of the latest Netflix documentary that tells you there’s only one way to eat for overall health – going vegan.

What The Health, like many documentaries that came before it, offers cherry-picked studies to support the filmmaker’s views.

Yes, the filmmaker – not a scientist – but someone in the business of generating buzz for his film (he gets full marks for that).

It seeks out a slew of vegan-friendly health professionals to reinforce its claims.

Side note: None of these experts look like they lift weights. They would blow over in a stiff wind. I suggest it might be the lack of meat in their diet. Yes, actually, it’s definitely that.

Of course, joking aside, there’s no doubt we are in the midst of a health epidemic. As men, we have never been fatter and more lacking in testosterone.

And, yes, most of us could stand to eat more fruits and vegetables and less processed meat and dairy.

But this documentary does more harm than good.

Let’s look at the facts when it comes to losing weight and general health…

A Calorie Deficit Matters Most

First off, if you’re overeating and sedentary, no diet will save you.

If you’re overweight, focus on losing weight first and foremost, and that starts and ends with eating less than you need to maintain your body weight.

Case in point: Mark Haub, a professor of nutrition at Kansas State University, proved that calories-in versus calories-out is what matters first when seeking weight loss.

Mark Haub limited himself to 1,800 calories a day, eating Twinkies or another treat every three hours instead of meals, while also consuming a protein shake and some vegetables over the course of the diet.

Haub not only lost weight but improved all biomarkers of health along with it. His LDL, considered the bad cholesterol, decreased, while his HDL, or good cholesterol, increased by 30%. And he reduced his triglycerides by 39%.

Need a place to start with your diet? Get this FREE Mansformation Cheat Sheet NOW… and get a done-for-you nutrition plan (yes, it recommends red meat) and lose as much as 10 pounds FAST.

Will Bacon Kill You?

First off, know this: Eating bacon on Saturday mornings will not cause you to instantly drop dead, face down in your frying pan.

The dose makes the poison.

If you make a habit of eating bacon for breakfast, chargrilled BBQ hot dogs for lunch, and processed deli meats for dinner, day in and out, yes, you may, in fact, be increasing your risk for colorectal cancer.

But regularly swapping those processed meats for grass-fed beef, wild caught fish, and lean chicken is a completely different story.

It’s the processed kind that is more likely to cause colorectal cancer, according to the World Health Organization’s 2015 review of the link between processed meat and cancer. What The Health conveniently ignores this fact.

Biceps built by meat-free hummus, spinach, and tofu (LOL)

You’d be doing yourself a disservice by eliminating red meat entirely – it’s one of the most nutrient dense foods out there (organ meats are even better), packed full of fat soluble vitamins and protein to positively impact your hormonal profile (think testosterone), build muscle and boost mental clarity.

Red meat supplies vitamin B12, which helps make DNA and keeps nerve and red blood cells healthy, and zinc, which keeps the immune system working properly, and protein, to build and repair muscle.

Further still, a meta-analysis, reported on by Examine.com, based on 24 randomized controlled trials in adults, compared red meat eaters to those who didn’t consume red meat.

Compared with eating less than an ounce of red meat per day, consuming more does not appear to have a significant influence on blood cholesterol, triglycerides, or blood pressure, according to the research.

Examine.com also notes that red meat is likely to be more harmful when prepared in certain ways.

Harsher cooking methods such as frying, broiling, BBQ grilling, and roasting consistently led to higher levels of toxic compounds than gentler cooking methods such as boiling, poaching, stewing, and steaming.

It would be quite the stretch to state that a charbroiled burger patty, bacon or sausage are the same as a medium-rare sirloin steak or ground grass-fed beef.

Eggs As Bad As Cigarettes?

This other claim from What The Healh reflects an out-of-date understanding of cholesterol’s role in health. According to Vox.com, two in three long-term smokers will die because of their habit. The same just isn’t true for egg eaters.

Cholsterol was wrongly considered a scapegoat for decades, and the scientific community has moved on since evidence has piled up showing that eating more cholesterol isn’t necessarily associated with higher levels in the blood or an increased risk of heart disease. That’s why it’s been declassified as a “nutrient of concern” in the American diet. Forget about this one. Eat your eggs.

What Everyone Agrees On

There is no best diet universally: you need to determine the diet best suited to you. The nutrition community has generally moved away from prescribing particular diets or vilifying foods.

For example, a recent consensus statement reported on by Vox.com from a very diverse group of nutrition researchers came to these conclusions:

A healthy dietary pattern is higher in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low- or non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in alcohol (among adults); lower in red and processed meats; and low in sugar-sweetened foods and drinks and refined grains.

Additional strong evidence shows that it is not necessary to eliminate food groups or conform to a single dietary pattern to achieve healthy dietary patterns. Rather, individuals can combine foods in a variety of flexible ways to achieve healthy dietary patterns, and these strategies should be tailored to meet the individual’s health needs, dietary preferences and cultural traditions.

There’s a lot of evidence that plant-based diets can be a truly effective strategy for many people. Also, there’s the whole animal rights movement to veganism, which is a valid reason to partake. If they stopped there, I think there would be more vegans.

But they get cultish about vegan diets being inherently the healthiest, non-vegans get their guard up and stop listening. It’s like Crossfitters telling everyone that Crossfit is the only way to exercise. Not cool, guys. You do you, but don’t force your views on others. That approach never works.

When it comes to dieting for weight loss or general health, there is simply no one-size-fits-all solution. Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something or blind to the facts.

Get Mitch’s Mansformation fat loss cheat sheet here and get a proven fat loss formula to help you lose up to 10 pounds fast.

 

The Law of Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake…

My guilty pleasure.

Specifically, the one a local iconic restaurant, Salisbury House, makes…

The icing.. to die for.

The melt in your mouth filling… orgasmic.

But The Law of Red Velvet Cake keeps me honest.

It goes like this:

If the cake doesn’t get into my car, it doesn’t get home.

And if it doesn’t get home, it doesn’t get in my mouth.

And if it doesn’t get in my mouth, it doesn’t contribute to belly fat.

You feel me?

If the temptation is in the house, you are going to indulge eventually.

This rule can be applied to your guilty pleasure.

What is it you can’t help yourself around?

Make sure it isn’t staring at you from the pantry.

PS. When you are ready, here are the 3 best ways I can help you transform your Dad Bod into a super hero physique.

1) My newest program 30 Days To THOR – The Ultimate Guide To Super Hero Fat Burning Secrets. Comes complete with diet guidelines and a training plan to follow for 30 days. Get it here.

2) Mansformation Group Coaching – The best A-Z Online transformation group program. Level up with the help of a supportive group of guys on the same path as you. Try it for $1 for 7 days

3) Mansformation Custom Coaching – A 1-1 VIP coaching experience to get you to your best ever physique in 60 days. Currently closed to applications, but by applying at the link above you’ll be near the top of the wait list for next intake.

 

3 Eating Tips for Adding Muscle Without The Fat

You are what you eat, or so goes the saying.

For men who are looking for ways to add lean muscle instead of fat, what you eat, when you eat, and what you do after eating is of the utmost importance.

When you were a teenager, you could probably get away with eating two pizzas and an order of cheesy breadsticks before heading out to gym for a two-hour weightlifting session. The speed of your metabolism made up for your poor diet.

As you grow older and your metabolism slows, however, you will need to fundamentally change your eating habits.

If you are interested in staying in shape and building a sculpted, muscular body, staying faithful to a workout regimen is important.

To help your body build muscle faster, however, a quality, nutritious diet is also essential.

Below we look at three different eating tips to help you help your body add lean muscle instead of fat.

Find the Right Balance of Carbohydrates

Traditional nutritional wisdom for bodybuilders used to urge them to eat as many carbohydrates as possible. It was thought that by having enough calories in your body through high carbohydrate intake, your body would have sufficient energy reserves to prevent muscle protein breakdown and avoid using dietary protein for energy. Both bad if building muscle is your goal.

While there is still truth to that (your body will break down muscle for amino acids that it can turn into glucose, a type of energy), many men use this as an excuse to “bulk” and add on too much fat in the process. One study written by Dustin Elliot states that the average body can store about 400 calories at a time. Any more than that and you run the risk of having those excess calories slowly turn into fat.

Another important aspect regarding your carbohydrate intake is when you eat them. Foods that are high in carbohydrates are best consumed early in the morning after waking up (think whole grain granola and wheat bread for breakfast) since this is the best time to take advantage of the protein sparing properties of carbohydrates. After an intense workout, you can also take in  carbohydrates to recover from the workout.

Do Not Be Afraid to Pack on the Protein

You know that protein helps grow muscle. You will want to add some protein to every meal throughout the day. A general rule of thumb is a palm-sized serving or two. However, make sure to prioritize lean meats such as fish, olive oils, and unprocessed peanut butter.

Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for lean muscle growth and they also help to regulate your blood pressure which usually shoots through the roof every time you are in the gym. If you cook for yourself, get rid of the butter and margarine and purchase a huge bottle of virgin extra olive oil to help your body get the good fats and proteins it needs.

One recent study done by McMaster University found that overweight men who were introduced to an intense weight lifting regime while eating large amounts of protein lost more weight and built more muscle mass than the other group that only ate regular amounts of protein.

Leave Behind Processed Foods

Fast food joints and most of the boxed and canned stuff on your grocery store shelves should be left behind if you want to put on lean muscle without the fat.

Highly processed foods are loaded with empty calories. Sorry, you know this, but it needs to be said.

While you will get more than enough calories, you will also notice a loss of energy and a growing amount of body fat. In addition, for men who care about taking care of their appearance and have high standards for grooming, these processed foods are notorious for leading to acne, oily skin, and other skin and hair problems.

Eat Well, Hit the Gym Hard, and Cultivate Good Habits

Unless you are still a sophomore in high school with a fast metabolism, eating right is an essential part of building lean muscle.

By finding a balance in your carbohydrate intake, consuming healthy fats and proteins, and avoiding highly processed foods, you can build a muscular, toned physique that will help you lose weight and feel stronger and healthier.

Bio

Aron James is the founder of StubblePatrol.com. Stubble Patrol is a site on male grooming. He loves to write about his personal experiences.