Training to Muscle Failure: 5 Hacks for Serious Lifters

Training to Muscle Failure: 5 Hacks for Serious Lifters

Think back to the first time you ever lifted weights. What did you do? You probably walked up to a dumbbell rack, picked up the heaviest weight you could hold, and performed some exercise movement–heck, any exercise movement–to the best of your ability. Rep after rep after rep. And you did so until you could no longer move the weight. Then you rested—probably until you felt fresh again—and repeated. Sometimes, a little naivety and simplicity is a good thing. But that simplicity is also why so many people are frustrated by what they do in the gym. Beyond the exercises you perform and the frequency with which you train, most people don’t know how hard to push on any given set. They don’t know how to build muscle. And they don’t know how to build strength. What they do know how to do is just perform exercises. It’s the reason why “training to muscle failure” is one of the most highly debated topics in the fitness industry and, truth be told, it’s extremely misunderstood. I’ve spent enough time studying the topic to know that there’s no simple answer. Some people swear that taking every set to failure is the secret to success while others insist it’s a recipe for guaranteed injury and “overtraining.” Is training to muscle failure good or bad? Right or wrong? Will it help you achieve your goals or will it devastate your body and ruin your chances for success? The answer – as most things in life – depends entirely on the individual as well as their needs, goals, and preferences. Unfortunately, though, saying “it depends”...
Training and Nutrition for Fat Loss: The [Short Person’s] Ultimate Fat Loss Guide

Training and Nutrition for Fat Loss: The [Short Person’s] Ultimate Fat Loss Guide

Being short is a pretty sweet gig. I mean, think about it, when you’re short you never have to worry about leg room on an airplane. Being too tall for a bed is an impossibility. And you have a huge advantage when someone breaks out the limbo pole because…well…you know. See? Being short has a whole lot of benefits.  But, like everything in life, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns; there are downsides, too. For example, it’s never fun going to the theme park because, no matter what, you’re going to be discriminated against simply because of your height. Not to mention, if you need to reach something up high and don’t have a tall friend nearby…you’re screwed.  More to the point of this article, arguably the worst part about being short is that it can make fat loss a whole lot harder than it is for taller (and heavier) folk. Why is Fat Loss Harder for Shorter People? I should clarify, height doesn’t inherently make fat loss harder. Rather, your body weight (and composition) is the primary factor responsible for how much you can eat without gaining or losing weight. And seeing as shorter people tend to weigh less than taller people, especially as they reach lower levels of body fat, fat loss tends to impose much greater difficulties on shorter/lighter people than it does on taller/heavier people. Let Me Tell You A Little Story… Just in case you’re new here, my name is Jordan (but everyone calls me “J”), I’m an internationally published fitness author, an online strength training and nutrition coach, and I’m also very, very short. Clocking in at a whopping 5’4,” I’ve been a proud representative of the shorty brigade since...
Proper Squat Form for a Safe, Strong, and Perfect Squat

Proper Squat Form for a Safe, Strong, and Perfect Squat

In This Proper Squat Form Tutorial You’ll Learn… The best foot width for heavy and pain free squats How to create more surface area for your feet, balance more efficiently, and transfer force more effectively If letting your knees pass your toes is a dangerous or smart strategy If sending your hips back or sitting straight down is optimal for elite squat performance The best bar position (high or low?) for your body type Proper Squat Form for a Safe, Strong, and Perfect Squat I hope you enjoyed this squat tutorial and that it’s helped you better understand proper squat form in a way that’s simple, straightforward, and allows you to squat a metric shit ton of weight. Increase Your Deadlift by 30lbs in 30 Days with the FREE Deadlift Bible Downloaded and read by thousands of lifters, The Deadlift Bible is my own creation complete with 4 instructional video tutorials and an entire manual outlining optimal deadlift technique, progressions, programming, and more. Plug in your info below and I’ll send your free copy directly to your e-mail in less than 60-seconds. Never Minimal. Never Maximal. Always Optimal. -J World Record Strength! Sign Up & I’ll Send Your 4 FREE World Record Strength Training Manuals Directly to Your Inbox Name: Email: We respect your email privacy...
2 Shortsighted Lifting Mistakes Keeping You from Getting Strong

2 Shortsighted Lifting Mistakes Keeping You from Getting Strong

When you first start strength training getting stronger is quick, easy, and simple. But as you continue to gain strength and become an advanced lifter things get a little bit trickier. Attention to detail becomes increasingly important and understanding nuances in programming strategies, exercise selection, training philosophies, etc is essential for your long-term success. To that end, in today’s article I’ve outlined 2 shortsighted lifting mistakes that will hinder your progress and keep you from getting to the next level. Keep in mind, I made both of these lifting mistakes for years on my journey to becoming an Elite level powerlifter. Fortunately, I finally saw the error in my ways and made the necessary changes which allowed my clients and me to get exceptional results. 1. You Do Too Many Warm-Up Sets Warm-up sets are meant to [hold for dramatic pause] warm you up before your heavy work sets. Crazy, I know. But the thing is, many lifters (especially intermediate to early advanced lifters) shoot themselves in the foot by warming up too much. And that’s not a typo. They warm-up too much. Here’s the Deal If you’re fatigued, tired, out of breath, or burned out before you even start your work sets then you’re excessively warming up. It might sound counterintuitive, but one of the most common mistakes I see among intermediate to early advanced lifters is taking too many warm-up sets as they progress towards their work sets. In theory, taking lot’s of warm-up sets sounds like a smart idea as it gives your mind and body a sufficient amount of time and stimulus to prepare for heavy lifting. But what many lifters fail to realize is that as...
Barbell Complex Madness: 3 New Fat Burning, Muscle Building Barbell Complexes

Barbell Complex Madness: 3 New Fat Burning, Muscle Building Barbell Complexes

If you keep up with my training on Instagram (#AlwaysOptimal), you’ve recently seen me experimenting with different training methods including emphasized eccentrics, constant tension sets, and a variety of barbell complex variations.  While each methodology encompasses its own unique set of benefits, today I’m excited to share with you 3 of my personal favorite barbell complex variations and outline how you can incorporate them into your individual training programs to use them most advantageously.  Barbell Complex Madness: 3 New Fat Burning, Muscle Building Barbell Complexes   Barbell Complex #1: Front Squat to Reverse Lunge Complex “Quad dominant” is a popular fitness industry buzz-phrase that, unfortunately, leads coaches to believe we should only strengthen the posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, etc) and never directly train the quads.  I say malarky. Of course, strengthening the glutes, hamstrings, and entire posterior chain is important for a variety of reasons…but neglecting the quads is a surefire way to sabotage your strength and overall performance.  In fact, it wasn’t until I started making my quads a priority that my squat radically increased and I finally raw squatted 3x my bodyweight. Not to mention, strong quads improve a variety of athletic movements like, oh I don’t know…sprinting? Enter: The Front Squat to Reverse Lunge Complex The Front Squat to Reverse Lunge Complex is simultaneously one of the most brutal and effective drills for improving lower body strength and performance. Getting the best of both worlds in bi-lateral and uni-lateral training, this particular complex is one of my personal favorites for improving squat performance as it absolutely destroys your quads and glutes while forcing you to maintain an upright torso throughout the entire drill. Barbell Complex #2: Alternating Unilateral to Bilateral RDL Complex As if RDL’s...
The Feet Elevated Bench Press is Way Better Than the Floor Press (Here’s Why)

The Feet Elevated Bench Press is Way Better Than the Floor Press (Here’s Why)

The floor press is overrated. There. I said it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a decent exercise and obviously has a time and place within a well designed program but most lifters (save for geared powerlifters and individuals with anterior shoulder pain) aren’t going to gain much from it. But What About All of the Floor Press Benefits? The floor press offers a variety of benefits including minimized leg drive and a major emphasis on improving raw upper body strength for the pecs, anterior deltoids, and triceps.  And while powerlifters have touted these benefits for years in its defense, the reality is these benefits are not exclusive to the floor press.  In fact, there’s another bench variation that encompasses all of the exact same benefits and probably has greater carryover to your bench press strength than the floor press. Enter: The Feet Elevated Bench Press Regularly utilized by bodybuilders and unfortunately mocked by powerlifters, I’ve become a huge fan of the feet elevated bench press and would argue that it’s more effective than the floor press. Why? Watch the short video below and I’ll let you in on a little secret…. Technique Points 1. Set up exactly as you would for a standard bench press but bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the bench right in front of your butt. 2. Lower the bar towards your chest and make sure to keep your shoulders down & away from your ears throughout the entire movement. Think about raising your chest to the bar to keep your shoulders in the safest position.  3. As soon as the bar touches your chest, press the bar back up at a slight backwards angle to the starting position.  Feet Elevated Bench Press...
8 Time Tested Tactics That Will Increase Your Productivity Right NOW

8 Time Tested Tactics That Will Increase Your Productivity Right NOW

I’m not going to tell you to get off Facebook. I’m not going to tell you to turn your phone off And I’m definitely not going to tell you to “just be more productive” or any of the other amazing tips to increase your productivity that have already been blogged across the interwebz ad nauseum.  In this article I’m going to share with you 8 helpful and time tested tactics that will increase your productivity right now. And I mean right now. How Do I Know These Productivity Boosting Methods Work? I started my first business when I was 20 and at that point I knew I wanted to accomplish 2 major things: Help as many people as I possibly could by giving them the best training, nutrition, and fitness information in the world. Have the ability to travel the world, working solely from my computer, while doing number 1 (above) exceptionally well.  Fast forward 4 years and I’m doing, well, pretty much exactly what I set out to do. By 24 I’ve worked with hundreds of fitness enthusiasts all across the globe, had my work featured in numerous mainstream publications including CNN and The Huffington Post, and travel whenever and wherever I want. Now, I’m not saying this to impress you.  Rather, I’m saying this to instill within you the knowledge of what’s truly possible and the power to believe that you can accomplish anything and everything you want.  Back to my story… As my business grew larger and larger I was forced to develop systems that allowed me to create more content, work with more people, design more programs, and essentially just be more productive.  So that’s exactly what...
Strength Training Program Design 101: Exercise Selection and Order

Strength Training Program Design 101: Exercise Selection and Order

There is no such thing as a single “best” exercise. There is no such thing as a single “best” training program. And there is no such thing as a single “best” set & repetition scheme. So what is there? A set of overarching principles that make up the sum and substance of every successful training program ever created. Recently I received an e-mail from an exercise physiology grad student, Laura, asking for me to explain my personal system for creating a safe and effective program. She told me: “My biggest flaw when it comes to understanding training or program design is the actual exercises to implement into a training regimen. I know that obviously it varies because programs are individual but do you have any suggested guidelines on exercises and placement of those exercises?  Every book I read says 8-10 exercises but never says which. Again, I know everything with programming is individual but this is the area that I struggle with the most.” Laura’s right.  To my knowledge there isn’t a single resource that explicitly outlines what exercises to use and how to structure them to create a safe and effective strength training program. So that’s what I’m going to do. In this article I’m going to outline the overarching principles you need to know, show you exactly which exercises to choose, and how to use these exercises as part of an evidence based approach to strength training program design. First things first. Let’s talk individual assessment. Individual Assessment “Assessment” means different things to different coaches. Some coaches think of it as the FMS or another movement-based evaluation. Some think of it...
Everything You Need to Know About the Reverse Crunch

Everything You Need to Know About the Reverse Crunch

During a seminar at which I was recently presenting, one of the attendees told me he hated the reverse crunch because “crunches aren’t functional.”  He went on to explain “reverse crunches are not only a waste of time but they are actually dangerous because they take you into lumbar flexion.”  Realizing there was a major disconnect regarding the true meaning of “functional training” along with the perceived dangers of lumbar flexion, I put the rest of my discussion on hold. First Things First: What is “Functional Training?” Most coaches agree the term “functional training” basically implies training to prepare for the activities and challenges you face on a daily basis while helping you achieve your individual goals. Some coaches think this requires training on unstable surfaces, like a bosu ball, as a means of improving balance. As I explained in my article, Why Functional Balance Training Isn’t So Functional, however, this type of “training” is more of a circus act than a valid or safe training practice. Other coaches think “functional training” solely consists of sports performance based exercise and, specifically, unilateral (single-arm/single-leg) drills as these tend to be more similar to our activities of daily living.  But I disagree. I disagree with the notion that “functional training” solely consists of one methodology or only targets a single outcome. For training to be considered “functional” it must help you achieve YOUR individual goals. This means effective “functional training” simply involves training in way that faciliates your continued progress. Whether you’re a bodybuilder looking to get bigger biceps, a powerlifter trying to build a stronger deadlift, a marathon runner hoping to improve your aerobic capacity, or a 60-year old woman trying to move and feel better…each method...
The Top 7 Best Books for Nutrition Coaches

The Top 7 Best Books for Nutrition Coaches

Any halfway decent fitness enthusiast can tell someone how to lose fat. It’s really not that hard. Calculate a moderate caloric deficit, outline sufficient protein intake, send your client these guidelines, and tell them “just hit these numbers and you’re good!“ Pretty simple. From here all you need to do is patiently wait and see how many people actually follow your guidelines long enough to get results. If you have a handful of 8-10 participants, odds are you’ll have at least 1-2 who are intrinsically motivated enough to stick to your plan no matter what. Then you can grab their before/after pictures, publish their “success story,” and explain to people how your “scientifically proven method” helped them shed X amount of pounds in 90-days. Congratulations. You’re a nutrition expert. If you want to be a great nutrition coach – a coach who can consistently inspire individuals to recognize their own ability to succeed – you need to do a hell of a lot more than just hand out calorie and protein guidelines.  You need to arm your clients with science-based knowledge in an easy to understand format. You need to teach your clients how to create sustainable habits. You need to show your clients tips and tricks that will help them succeed in the long-term. And, most importantly, you need to help your clients understand and believe that they are truly capable of achieving anything and everything they want.  To understand how to do this you need to get your hands on the absolute best books for nutrition coaches.  In an effort to help you weed through the B.S. and arm you with the most...