Bulletproof Your Core With 3 Advanced TRX Exercises

Ditch the Crunches, Sit-Ups and boring Planks. Stop doing “ab exercises” that fry your hip flexors instead of working your abdominal muscles.

When it comes to training the core, you have to think outside the box. In this case, the box is your rectus abdoninis—the “six-pack muscles.”

The TRX core exercises featured below are some of the best bang-for-your buck exercises. But first, let’s talk more about the “core.”

There is so much more to the core than a set of washboard abs and taking a selfie in good lighting. The core is vital for athletic performance, general health and most of all, the safety and well-being of your body during exercise.

When you train your core, think “everything from your glutes to your neck, 360 degrees around your body.” With this mindset, you can bulletproof your body and build a sturdy foundation for powerful athletic performance and a healthy life.

Here are three TRX core exercises that will strengthen, stabilize and bulletproof your core.

Why You Shouldn’t Ice After A Workout

If you step into any sports training facility, you might see some exhausted athletes lying in a tub of ice after a workout. The ice bath has been around for years, but lately it has become a hot trend in recovery techniques.

Some facilities specialize in cryotherapy, which is the use of hyper-cool temperatures to speed up the healing process in soft tissue and joints.

These techniques are especially popular among athletes, and it seems that icing after workouts has become a standard method of recovery.

But what if I told you that using ice after a workout is the exact opposite of what you should do to speed your recovery? What if I told you that icing after a workout actually slows down and directly interferes with your body’s natural healing process?

Click here to read more on why you should never ice sore muscles and injuries!

5 Reasons Your Training Program is Failing (And How To Fix It)

Everyone has their ups and downs in the weight room. Sometimes those downs last longer than you’d like. If your progress has been stalled for an extended period of time, there may be some alterations you can make to get back on track. Here are the 5 most common reasons your training program has failed you  and how to make sure it doesn’t fail you any longer.

FREE DOWNLOAD: 60-Day Barbell Strength Training Program For Incredible Results

We have a lot of different members here at 1 & Only Fitness. We have athletes, ex-athletes, general fitness enthusiasts, people who want to get big & strong, people who want to get lean, people who want to move without pain… the list goes on and on. There is one shared characteristic that all of our members share, no matter their fitness experience. That is the eagerness to create a better version of themselves every day!

Recently, I wrote an 60-day training program eBook for a sports performance website called STACK.com. While STACK’s main audience is athletes and coaches, I wrote the eBook in a way that everyone can benefit from it, no matter what your fitness level is. This isn’t your average training program though. It has a twist.

This program requires only one main piece of equipment = a BARBELL.

This 60-day barbell workout program has two phases. Each phase lasts 30 days and has subtle tweaks, but overall they are similar enough to facilitate an easy transition for you.

Barbell Barbarian is not your average, run-of-the-mill, 3 sets of 8-12 reps training regimen. You will endure some of the most gut-wrenching set and rep schemes known to man. The program breaks a few traditional rules and appears unorthodox at times, but sometimes you have to go against the grain to get the results you want. It’s well worth it. You’ll learn to love the mixture of methods, including EMOM (Every Minute On the Minute), AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible), tempo control, percentage training and, of course, old school supersets and tri-sets. These techniques are covered in detail in the PDF you can download below and there are exercise tutorials for every move here!

Bottom line: You will be in the best shape of your life after this 60-day program!

Sound like fun? Download it for FREE here and get started! Let me know when you begin and I’ll coach you along the way.

 

An Open Letter to All Gym Goers

Dear Consistent Gym-Goer,

Are you ready for the new year? How was your 2015? Did you make GAINZ (with a z)? Are you bigger, stronger, faster, healthier and more awesome than ever before?

I hope so!

I overheard you talking last week, complaining about how you’re dreading the upcoming wave of newbies at the gym in January. You know, those New Year Resolutioners.

Jeez. What the hell is wrong with those people? Why would anyone want to get in shape and improve their quality of life? Sounds like a bunch of chumps.

How dare they step foot into your gym with a positive attitude and smile on their face because they are excited to give themselves a second chance at achieving a healthier lifestyle.

The nerve of these people.

They come in and bench press until their chest goes numb on the very bench you sit and take selfies on. They’re sweating and gasping for air, doing interval training on the treadmill. The exact same treadmill you walk and text on. They perform squats in the squat racks until their legs feel like noodles. The same squat racks that you do curls in 4 days a week. Sick workout, bro.

What I think a lot of us forget is that we were all once newbies too. Also, maybe we need to revamp our own workout regimen and kick it up a notch. I’m saying us, meaning consistent gym goers. I’m saying us because I’ve been just as guilty of some of the teasing that surrounds the New Year’s wave at every gym across America.

Every professional was initially an amateur. We all pretty much started from the bottom on our own fitness journey. My personal fitness journey turned into a career. A career where I helped those same annoying gym newbies from last year lose hundreds of pounds in 2015.

Sure, the memes and jokes are funny. You guys know I love to lift weights, but making fun of how much I love to lift weights is even better. I love gym humor.

But, there’s nothing funny about shaming and discouraging someone out of the gym and back into an unhealthy state of mind.

I have a challenge for us. Let’s embrace this new wave of people, no matter how out of shape they are, no matter how horrible their form is and no matter how crowded it makes the gym. Chances are, one day not too long ago, you were that out of shape person with bad form and no clue what you were doing at the gym. Everyone has things they can improve on. I have a list that I’m going to tackle in 2016.

Embrace this new wave of people and use it as motivation for your own fitness goals. More new people in the gym means more potential like-minded friends, more networking connections, more learning experiences, etc. Heck, at the very least, think of it as more people who will see how much of an absolute beast you are in the weight room.

Welcome these people to your gym. Introduce yourself. Encourage them. Give helpful tips if you have the time to do so. Introduce them to me if they need extra help. Hopefully the lifestyle sticks and next year we can have the same conversation with some newbies-turned-regulars who may have forgotten where they came from.

One last thing. Keep up the great work. You come to the gym consistently year around and that is no easy task. Here’s to a great new year in 2016!

Sincerely,

Justin

PS:

Exercise Tip of the Week: Box Jumps

Box jumps have been around for decades as one of the staple plyometric exercises in training. Whether you’re an athlete or a general health enthusiast, box jumps have a tremendous impact on your explosiveness and ability to generate power through your lower half. Both things will pay huge dividends in your exercise routine.

There’s one big problem…

Box jumps may be one of the most botched exercises out there.

boxjumpfail1

I could watch these all day.

boxjumpfail2

I see it every day, multiple times a day. I’ve been guilty of it myself plenty of times, but over the years I’ve corrected my own mistakes and talked to some great strength & conditioning coaches that were able to show me how to properly do, instruct and program an effective box jump.

First, let’s talk about what a box jump IS NOT.

  • A box jump is not cardio
  • A box jump is not a “more is better” exercise
  • A box jump is not a “faster is better” exercise
  • A box jump is not supposed to be heavily loaded

Here are a few common mistakes that a lot of people make on their box jumps.

 

Hey you… yeah, you! The guy doing 1-minute intervals of rapid fire box jumps on a 36-inch box that you can barely get your toes on… STOP!

It’s not safe or effective to perform box jumps like that. That is everything a box jump is not.

So, what IS a box jump?

  • A box jump is a great way to activate your central nervous system
  • A box jump is a great way to increase your explosiveness and power
  • A box jump is a low-impact exercise
  • A box jump is a bodyweight exercise
  • A box jump is an opportunity to achieve triple extension (ankles, knees and hips) and jump as high as possible without having to absorb the full impact of max-height jump (this is because you land on a box, instead of returning all the way down to the ground).
  • A box jump, when done correctly, will make you a better athlete

Below are some examples of what I consider to be good form. All have slight variations, so I’ve slowed the videos down and added a few notes.

Personally, I use box jumps as a part of my dynamic warm up. One coaching cue that has stuck with me is that “a box jump can potentiate the nervous system,” and that is how I prefer to use them.

With explosive, short bursts of power (like box jumps) I can give my nervous system a wake-up call. This will activate the rest of my body to be ready to handle increased amounts of weight throughout the duration of the workout. Technically, a box jump won’t build much new muscle for you, but when you use them to prime your body for an intense workout, that’s where the muscle magic happens.

As a part of your training program, box jumps can help you generate more power and explosiveness, which will allow you to become stronger, faster and bring you to new levels of badassness. Is that a word?


Here are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to box jumps

DON’T

  • Rebound (rapidly jump up and down the box)
  • Land with your knees caving in
  • Use a box that you can’t land safely on
  • Stomp your feet when you land
  • Add weight
  • Land in a deep squat

DO

  • Fully extend at the ankles, knees and hips
  • Use your arms and core for power and stability
  • Land in the same position you jumped from
  • Land soft and stealth (like a ninja)
  • Step down from the box, reset and repeat

Hopefully these tips help you the next time you go to perform box jumps. These simple tweaks can help you avoid a torn Achilles, torn ACL and countless bloody, scraped shins – all extremely common in bad box jumps.

Remember, you want to generate power with each rep. Keep the reps at 6 or below (per set) so you can explode on each jump. Inability to use your explosiveness due to fatigue will lead to poor mechanics and injury, so take your time and be precise with the jumps! Now go crush it!

5 Types of Friends You Need to Have

Today’s article is a bit different. It’s not exactly fitness or nutrition oriented, but more of a lifestyle topic. With the New Year right around the corner, I’ve been writing down tons of goals I want to accomplish in 2016.

While doing so, I’m carefully evaluating all of the moves I’ve made this year towards my goal – and in some cases, becoming further from certain goals. I start to wonder why and how I was able to achieve some goals, while falling short on others.

One thing that can help you achieve all kinds of different goals is a great support system, which I am blessed to have! I have an incredible family and lot of friends from all walks of life, each offering their own supportive role in my life and helping me become a better person.

Take a look at your friends – your crew, if you will. I’ve heard people say that you’re only as strong as your weakest link. You are the average of your 5 best friends. What does your current support system say about you as a person?

I got to thinking about the diversity among my friends and wanted to share the 5 types of friends that I think everyone should have in their network!

The Mentor

Success is never achieved alone. Everyone needs a mentor who has been there, done that. Surround yourself with people who are more successful than you. Find people who are smarter, stronger, more financially comfortable, less stressed etc. and learn from them. Then become a mentor for someone else and share your knowledge!

The Loyalist

You need a ride-or-die, loyal best friend that’s going to be there through thick and thin with you. This person knows more about you than you know about yourself. You guys depend on each other in the most important situations and can always count on that person to support you to the best of their abilities. They aren’t a yes man who just constantly tells you that you’re the best thing since sliced bread, but more of a lifelong teammate always cheering you on.

The Devil’s Advocate

Who’s going to keep you in check when you get a little ahead of yourself? This type of friend doesn’t let your ego overpower your rational thought process. This is the person you go to when you need a reality check. You may think you have the next million dollar business plan, but you can count on this person to put things into a realistic perspective for you. They may be pessimistic at times, but it’s always for the best.

The Specialist

Whatever industry you’re in, you need to be friends with a specialist in that trade. This is more specific than a mentor because this person is in your field of work and at the top of their game. You want to be in their position one day, and you will. This type of friend is constantly learning and improving, which will rub off on you and pay dividends in your work life.

The Polar Opposite

Lastly, you need a friend who is the polar opposite of you. This person zigs when you zag. You may even butt heads fairly often, but I believe everyone needs to be exposed to confrontation every now and then. This person is a great friend, despite your differences, and will help you become a more well-rounded human. I believe our society is too scared to be uncomfortable. Find someone who you have nothing in common with and become their best friend. That speaks volumes about the type of person you are (same goes for them.) Expose yourself to more of the unknown.

So take another look at your crew. Hopefully nobody is dragging you down. Your support system of friends should help you make progress towards success and now you know some qualities to look for in those people.

The Best Fitness Advice I Can Give You

What do these guys have in common?

  • Frank Gore
  • Arian Foster
  • Marshawn Lynch

Well, there are a couple of obvious similarities. All 3 men are elite NFL running backs. They’ve all played in multiple Pro Bowls. Some of them have even won or played in Super Bowls. Each of them have run for multiple 1,000 yard seasons too.

Bottom line: These guys are studs on the field.

But what you didn’t know they all have in common is that they are all OBESE.

*GASPS*

How can an NFL running back who is in peak physical condition be obese?

Each one of these guys’ BMI is above 30, technically making them obese. Do you know how infuriating that is? BMI still exists. People still refer to BMI. Don’t even get me started…

I wanted to preface this article with that little tidbit of info. Extreme example? Yes, but it truly helps illustrate the point I’m trying to make.

The greatest piece of fitness advice I can give anyone is this:

Look deeper than the number (weight) on the scale.

Weight is just a number, and a lot of the times, it can be misleading. In the example used above, weight was used to determine those guys as “obese” with the Body Mass Index (BMI) formula that is used heavily in consensus health reports and fitness institutions across the world. In this case, weight and height are the two driving factors in the equation.

The issue? There is no mention of body composition measurements such as muscle or body fat. If things like that were considered, there would be no way to slap the “obese” label on them.

I’ve heard fitness pros preach, “Throw away the scale,” but I’m not ready to get that drastic. Keep it, you paid for it already, just don’t use often – if ever.

Here are some tips on how you can improve your health progress simply by acknowledging that there is more to your body than just bodyweight.

Weigh Yourself Less

As I mentioned before, you can throw out your scale if you’re an extreme type of person. Or, you can just use self-discipline and allow yourself to weigh-in once a month. Put it in a bathroom cabinet so it’s not out and readily available to use.

Human weight fluctuates too often with drastic differences. You don’t need to start your day stressing about how you gained 3 pounds overnight. Chances are, you didn’t gain real weight at all. Conversely, I’d recommend you don’t celebrate your 3-pound overnight weight loss either. Neither are accurate.

Use the Eye Test

The best way to track your fitness progress is to use mirrors and friends. Ask your significant other or a close friend how you look, or check yourself out in the mirror. Seriously, there is nothing wrong with a little flex in the mirror. You put in the hard work. You deserve to see the results.

Before, during and after pictures are also effective ways to see changes. The camera doesn’t lie. Unless you add 3 Instagram filters, adjust the brightness and do a quick crop job. In that case, yes, the camera is kind of lying.

Plateaus for Plato’s

You finally broke through that plateau and achieved a goal – congrats! Bad news, now your clothes don’t fit. This is one of the most surefire ways to track your progress. When your clothes start to fit differently you know your body is truly changing. Now you’ve found yourself accumulating baggy jeans and ill-fitting shirts in a laundry basket labeled “Plato’s Closet.”

What a bittersweet experience. Three things are about to happen:

  • You will take your clothes to Plato’s Closet and get absolutely hammered on the pricing. You’ll give them close to $1,000 worth of attire and receive a $53.76 offer because, “these clothes are actually out of season, sorry.”
  • You take the money… *fist-pump* (NOT!), then go spend it (and so much more) on your new, form-fitting attire!
  • Repeat 3-6 months later. This time, donate to Goodwill.

InBody

Here’s a shameless 1 & Only Fitness plug. Another great way to track your progress is to test your actual body composition beyond bodyweight. We have a medical-grade device called the InBody 570, which measures complete body composition at 98% accuracy.

The InBody, as some of you know, is a truly amazing machine. It uses bioelectrical impedance to scan your body and relay readings of skeletal muscle mass, body fat mass, body fat percent, visceral fat and more.

Of course, it tracks bodyweight too, but now you can actually see what your bodyweight is made up of. You can allocate certain amounts of weight to muscle, fat, water, bones, etc. It’s all laid out on a report that is easy to read and comprehend.

Still, I would recommend you only do this once every month at the very most. I typically have my clients re-test every 8 weeks.

Here is a real-life example on how the InBody is far superior to the typical bathroom scale. Client X did her first InBody and weighed 135lbs. She had 19% body fat and 66lbs of muscle. 12 weeks later, on the re-test, she weighed 138lbs, but only had 16% body fat and 70lbs of muscle.

Those are awesome results, she gained muscle and lost fat. That’s the name of the game!

If Client X would have been weighing herself every morning in the bathroom, she would have gotten discouraged with the lack of weight loss. In fact, she gained weight. I would have been fired as a trainer. But, she trusted the process and the InBody results show the true story of the amazing changes that happened to the body composition.

Like I said before, there’s no need to throw away your scale. Just use it sparingly. You can lay the groundwork for some really healthy habits by making your weigh-ins worthwhile. Make yourself work hard for an extended period of time before you check on the results. You can’t get out of shape, or in shape, overnight. Everything is a process.

Disclaimer: This is intended for general health enthusiasts. If you’re an athlete that requires weigh-ins for competition, you live by a different set of rules. Boxers, wrestlers, bodybuilders, etc. can disregard!

3 Easy & Healthier Thanksgiving Food Swaps

So you made it through Halloween without overdosing on candy. Congratulate yourself, but get ready, because the next Holiday is one of the biggest dietary challenges of the year; Thanksgiving.

You’ve probably seen the reports that Americans, on average, gain 7-10 pounds between Halloween and New Years. Maybe you’ve even fallen victim to some holiday weight gain. Whatever the case may be, I’m here to help you through the winter months and stay focused on a healthy lifestyle.

Before I get into the 3 easy and healthy Thanksgiving food swaps, I do want to put a disclaimer out there.

Thanksgiving is one day. One day will NOT make you fat and/or out of shape. You won’t deteriorate into a sloppy mess of lard if you overindulge for one day. I can promise you that. This is especially true if you’ve laid the groundwork for the majority of the year by living a healthy lifestyle with a clean diet.

I don’t want this to come across as a don’t enjoy yourself on Thanksgiving type of post, but I do want to offer some assistance so that you can stay on the safer side during this holiday. People tend to fall “off the wagon” and lose confidence. They never get back “on the wagon” and further regress their fitness level.

These 3 Thanksgiving food swaps will fulfill your holiday cravings, keep you closer to your nutritional goals and allow you to easily get back on track after Thanksgiving.

#1: Baked Apples for Apple Pie

Apple Pie is a Thanksgiving staple. Apple Pie is also terrible for you. Assuming you’re no fool, you probably like a little bit of ice cream on top of your warm Apple Pie too, right? That definitely doesn’t help. Coming in around 600 calories, 90 grams of sugar and 30 grams of fat for a moderate slice of Apple Pie a la Mode, you may not want to go that route this Thanksgiving.

Instead, try a Baked Apple. You can even top it with a little bit of raisins, nuts, cinnamon, pumpkin spice and coconut oil to enhance the flavor. Use whipped cream if you’re feeling crazy.

Just cut [in half] and core a large Honeycrisp apple, then spread some coconut oil on the flesh of each half. Top it with your favorite nuts and spices, then bake it for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Throw some whipped cream on top to complete the I miss you, Apple Pie effect and you’ll be good!

#2: Baked Sweet Potato for Candied Yams

Candied Yams; another Thanksgiving side dish that people would die for. I mean, what’s not to like? You’ve got Yams, Marshmallows, Pecans, Brown Sugar and Butter all mashed together into a glorious pile of deliciousness.

One serving of this will probably register at around 500 calories and close to 80 grams of sugar. It’s not even technically a dessert! This is like cheating the system. You add this to your plate with turkey and other side items, finish it, then go eat “dessert.”

A healthier, and in my opinion, tastier swap for this would be baked sweet potatoes. You can get creative with this one. I’ve baked sweet potatoes, topped it with pecans, bacon and cinnamon, and enjoyed that as a food swap. You can enjoy sweet potato fries, spiced up however you’d like. Another option is mashed sweet potatoes, using coconut oil, coconut milk and spiced up to taste.

However you go about this Thanksgiving food swap, you’ll surely save yourself from a sugar-high (and crash) that will ensue if you go with the Candied Yams.

#3: Roasted Veggies for Green Bean Casserole

In theory, Green Bean Casserole seems harmless. If you dig deep into the recipe, you could probably do without the heavy cream and fried onions. Now, if you’re making the Paula Dean version, you’re probably throwing in an entire stick of butter and maybe some cheddar cheese too.

Let’s stray away from ruining simple Green Beans like that. Instead of making a casserole, try roasting a wide variety of vegetables together – you can even drizzle it with a creative sauce if you want.

Roast a pound of the following veggies for 25 minutes at 400 degrees:

  • Carrots (cut to spears)
  • Brussels Sprouts (cut into halves)
  • Golden Beets (skinned and chopped)
  • Butternut Squash (skinned and cubed)

(Drizzle those with Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

With about 10 minutes left to roast, add the following:

  • 4 cups Kale
  • 2 cups Green Onion
  • Rosemary, Thyme and Oregano to taste
  • Apple Cider Vinaigrette
    • ½ cup EVOO
    • ¼ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
    • 1 tbsp Honey
    • 2 tbsp Mustard
    • Salt & Pepper

Now you can enjoy a larger spread of veggies that aren’t drowning in Cream of Mushroom soup, cheese and fried onions!

Like I mentioned before, Thanksgiving is just one day. Don’t let it spill over for the next week. Don’t let the host insist on sending you home with all of the leftover beer and an endless supply of holiday food. Enjoy your day, try to stay on track to the best of your ability and continue to make progress toward whatever your goal is!

– Justin Ochoa