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Get Stronger with Progressive Overload

Our bodies adapt. They can get with the program pretty quickly.

If you always do 3×10 back squats with 95 lbs., you can bet that your body will adapt to that challenge. 

If you always do the same bodyweight exercises at the same tempo and in the same rep range, your body will also pick up on that pretty quickly.

If you always work out 30 minutes a day, 3x a week, and do the same steady state cardio, you can bet your body is going to yawn through those workouts, too.

The obvious ways to progressively overload your muscles and stimulate change are to increase:

  1. the resistance (weight) you use or
  2. the amount of reps you perform.

But what happens when you are stuck in weight limbo (e.g. “10s are too light but 15s are too heavy!”) or simply can’t complete those next five push-ups with good form? 

Good news – there are several other ways to safely overload your muscles, get stronger and bump up to the next level. 


INSTEAD OF RESISTANCE/REPS, INCREASE:

FREQUENCY:

For example, if you aren’t seeing pull-up progress with one session a week, increase the number of times you train back and shoulders to 2-4 more weekly sessions. Our muscles are resilient; they don’t typically need more than 1-3 days of recovery. Increase the number of times you train a lagging muscle group each week.

Now, I don’t mean “go train legs every day.” I know there are lots of people on IG who appear to only do glutes and abs, but don’t be one of those people. A healthy body is well-rounded. And, for example, if you find deadlifting to be difficult, you might find that by training back and core, you are able to deadlift more!

VOLUME:

In addition to cranking it up when “Africa” by Toto comes on, increase the amount of sets you do for a lagging muscle group. Struggling to progress with push strength and typically do 3×10 sets of incline push-ups? Try 4-5 sets next time.

You can also decrease the number of reps for a new level of resistance and increase the set count. Can’t seem to press 10 reps of 15 lbs. but have no problem lifting 3×10 at 10 lbs.? Try 4-5 sets of 4-6 reps at 15 lbs. 


YOU CAN ALSO DECREASE:

REST TIME:

How long do you rest between sets or circuits? With our love affair with our phones, we probably rest a lot longer than we realize. Put the phone down and pay attention to how long you’re resting. Cut it 10-15 seconds shorter every few workouts. This is especially effective for HIIT/ circuit training.

TEMPO:

This is probably my favorite way to progressively overload, as my clients (and MBBHome / MBB (gym) athletes) are well aware. How fast are you pumping out reps? What happens when you slow a chest press down to a 5-sec. eccentric stretch with a 2-sec pause at the bottom? What happens when you add a 2-3-sec. pause at the bottom of your squat? You can make 10 lbs. feel like 50 lbs. when you slowwwwwww down and increase time under tension. Eccentric training is one of my favorite methods because it really forces you to lift mindfully.


PICK ONE TO TRY.

I recommend picking one and focusing on it. See a bunch you want to try? Don’t worry – your body is adaptive, remember. So, chances are, you’ll need to switch it up again soon.

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Five (Easy) Ways to Stay on Track in December

I get it – December can be a wash from a fitness and nutrition perspective, but only if you let it. It’s really, really easy to justify behaviors in December that you wouldn’t any other month of the year. 

Five cookies instead of two? It’s December, no biggie.

Didn’t exercise this week? It’s December, no biggie. 

It’s easy to say, “Screw it. I’ll pick back up in January.”

The average person gains 1-2 lbs. over the holidays. The good news? It’s really, really easy to avoid holiday weight gain.

Here are my top five tried-and-true holiday guidelines to help you stay focused, enjoy the holidays and start 2018 strong:

MAKE THE “NON-HOLIDAY” DAYS COUNT.

Christmas and New Year’s Eve are each one day. One! And yet, so many people let two or three weeks go by without exercise or structured diet. Look at all of the days leading up to and following the holidays. Surely you have a free 30 minutes to exercise on “non-holiday” days and surely, you have the opportunity to stick to a clean diet most of the time. 

Do something for me. Dig way back in your memory to when you started your health journey. Remember how hard it was to get going? How much time it took to schedule your workouts, how painful it was to get up an hour early, how difficult it was to eat clean on a regular basis? Don’t go through that again! Schedule out those “non-holiday” days with at least 30 minutes of exercise. Don’t have a gym? No problem! Take a long walk with your family, or do a quick HIIT workout in your bedroom before the rest of the house wakes up. The key to making these “non-holiday” days count is scheduling. Write it down. Stick to it! 

BUDDY UP.

Exercise is more fun with company. You don’t have to sacrifice precious family time slaving away for hours at the gym over the holidays. While you’re planning your “non-holiday” day workouts, get your siblings, parents, friends or partner involved. Having an accountability buddy will help you both stay on track and makes the whole process a lot more enjoyable.

INDULGE WITHIN REASON.

A big part of holiday tradition is food, and most of it is far from “clean.” And you know what? That’s OK! Enjoy your Grandma’s Christmas cookies. Don’t be that person who stands in the corner eating celery. BUT. Focus on portion control. Remember that this won’t be the last time you ever get to eat holiday foods in your life. If you’re like me and can easily eat 15 cookies in a day, set a limit, like two per day. This will force you to slow down and really savor what you’re consuming.  

DON’T EAT TWO UNHEALTHY MEALS IN A ROW.

This is a super straightforward and easy-to-follow nutrition tip that will help you stay on track and also feel fulfilled during the holidays (#score!). If you know you’re going all out for Christmas dinner, make sure the lunch before and breakfast the next day are healthy and balanced. Enjoy and indulge in those special holiday meals, but then, get back to it.  

CREATE A REWARD/CONSEQUENCE SYSTEM.

Once you have your holiday plan in place, write it down: your “non-holiday” day workouts (and partners) and your indulgence guidelines. Next, sprinkle a little extra motivation on top: a reward/consequence system.

For example, if you complete your plan as scheduled, treat yourself to a massage or a new pair of trainers. If you fail to stick to your routine, you have to donate $100 to a cause you don’t support. Have some fun with it!


BOTTOM LINE: A BIG PART OF FEELING HAPPY IS FEELING HEALTHY.

Do what you can to fuel yourself properly, get enough rest, and move a little bit each day. Doing these good things for yourself will improve your mood and ensure you have the best holiday season yet.

From my home to yours – happy holidays! 

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Now Available for Pre-Order: My Best Body – Home Training Program

My Best Body – Home Training Program is now available for worldwide pre-order for $89.99 USD! 

STARTING TODAY, YOU CAN:

  1. Save $10 and secure your copy of the My Best Body – Home Training Program for $89.99 USD
  2. Skip the craziness of launch date (who remembers the #MBBcrash of Dec. 5, 2016?) and receive your download links via email on Oct. 30

TO PRE-ORDER MY BEST BODY – HOME TRAINING PROGRAM: 

  1. Visit the product listing in my shop.
  2. Add the product to your cart and check out through PayPal. You will be charged upfront and will receive your downloads via email on Oct. 30 when the program launches.

Please note: PayPal securely processes all payments, but you do not have to purchase using a PayPal account! Credit and debit cards work, too. 


NOT SURE IF MY BEST BODY – HOME IS FOR YOU?

I got you covered. Try out a 3-week free trial of My Best Body – Home here. 

With so many options out there these days, I completely understand hesitation, but I can also promise you that I am 100% confident you will find this program effective, challenging AND fun, no matter where you train or where you’re starting from!

I like to take my time with the creation and development of my programs (I started this program back in December 2016!). Why? Because quality and safety are of utmost importance to me. 

My #1 goal is to help you reach your goals, even from the other side of the world. Compared to similar 3-month programs, I believe I provide:

  • An exceptional amount of value.
  • A truly effective and safe workout progression that is going to empower and energize you.
  • A lot of helpful info that will set you up for longterm success!

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MBB Leg Day Training Focus Areas

My #MBBathlete friends know that I place a huge emphasis on mind-muscle connection in the program. It’s super easy to simply go through the motions of an exercise without fully engaging the correct muscles. It was important to me to set you up for success during My Best Body and beyond by knowing how to lift weights with MBB – not just giving you a list of exercises to do.

For many of us, our legs take the longest to change. This can be due to a number of factors – genetics, metabolism, calories and macros consumed, loads, frequency of training, etc. – but it can also be because the right muscles are not being engaged at the right moment or for the right amount of time.


MBB Leg Day Training Focus Areas: (and really, these apply to all muscle groups!):

FORM: A good set is not one you rush through in pain (because the weight is too heavy). It is not one you fly through because it’s too easy, either. Let’s take the weight (load) out of the equation for a minute. Using proper form is key in engaging the right muscles. I know, I know – you hear this all the time. But let’s really think about it for a minute. Educate yourself on the targeted muscles for each exercise. I provide extensive written directions in the My Best Body Resource Guide, which is meant to supplement the photos in the program. Knowing what you are working will make you a smarter athlete and will help you engage the right muscles. As you do the exercise, pay close attention to those muscles. If you can’t feel them contracting and lengthening, there is a good chance those muscles are underactive and other (overactive) muscles are compensating. When this happens, drop your weights! Load is important, but form is key in lifting safely and effectively.

SQUEEZE: Squeeze those muscles! It’s not “cute” to squeeze your butt, but doing so will earn you results (and no one is watching you, anyway!). On squats and deadlifts, squeeze your glutes hard at the top of the exercise. It takes a mindful approach to engage your muscles correctly. Do not simply go through the motions. Make those muscles work! 

TEMPO: I go into great detail on tempo in MBB (Note: If you bought the program and skipped ahead to the workouts, bypassing the intro sections, I highly encourage you to go back and read!). I place a lot of emphasis on eccentric lifting in MBB and believe that time under tension is key in muscle growth and strength progress. Do. Not. Rush. Take your time. Think about the muscles contracting and lengthening. Make that mind-muscle connection. Again – when you have it right, you will know!

LOAD: Okay – let’s add the weight back into the equation. I will always encourage you to go heavy, but NOT at the expense of good form. Heavy weights are going to stimulate growth and change. This might require you to step outside of your comfort zone. Maybe you will try an Olympic barbell for squats instead of the lighter curling bar you’ve always used. GOOD! Get out there. Test your limits. You want to be able to complete a full set with good form, with the last few reps being somewhat difficult (but manageable). The best way to determine this weight is to simply try a set. The further you get into your lifting journey, the better understanding you will have of your abilities. Lift safely, but don’t go easy on yourself. Continue to test your limits in a smart manner.  

FREQUENCY: If your legs are resistant to change, work them more frequently. There are two leg days in many MBB weeks. Ensure you give your muscles enough rest time in between to allow for recovery and growth. 

STRETCHING AND FOAM ROLLING (SMR): We could all be better at rehabilitation of our muscles. Stretching your legs will help you achieve that definition you’re after by lengthening your muscles. Aim to stretch and foam roll regularly after your leg sessions (with a proper warm-up in advance). I provide suggested warm-ups in My Best Body for every workout!