Author Archives: SNI

Keeping Track of Rest Period – Is It Worth It?

“Time is the most precious commodity out there. It’s the one thing you can’t buy or ever buy back. Give it your absolute all to whatever task it is your doing, no matter how big or small it is.” – Muscle Prodigy

This is a deep quote that hits home every time we read it. Ultimately, this has brought us to writing this article on rest periods. Why is it that we are constantly feeling pressed for time? Why do we always keep track of time whether it’s with our cell phones, watches, or clocks? Why do we always look at the time to see if it’s 5 pm yet at work? We are always keeping track of time, but why is it that we don’t keep track of time when we are training, as in our rest periods? We’ve found that a lot of people don’t do it simply because they are always in a rush, too lazy to keep track of it, or they don’t understand the benefits of it. So, before we get down-right nasty with this article, just remember that this might not be your cup of tea, but trust us, we will make you think twice about going to buy a stop watch or busting out your I Pod’s stop watch during training.

How Much Time Should You Rest?

(1) The position statement of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that rest periods should be 2-3 minutes for multi-joint exercises (i.e., squats, deadlifts, bench press) and 1-2 minutes for single-joint exercises (i.e., leg extensions, bicep curls).slow-gains-267x300

(2) The National Academy of Strength and Conditioning (NSCA) recommends 2-5 minutes for strength, 2-5 minutes for power, 30 seconds-1.5 minutes for hypertrophy (muscle growth), and less than 30 seconds for muscular endurance.

(3,4) A 2007 study, showed the influence of different rest interval lengths in multi-joint and single-joint exercises. This was reviewed in the November Strength and Conditioning Research Review  by Bret Contreras and Chris Beardsley.  They came away with the following key points:

  • When subjects performed both the multi-joint bench press and the single-joint machine chest fly, they performed a reduced number of repetitions when short rest periods (1-3 minute) were used than when longer rest periods (3 minutes) were used.
  • There was a progressive reduction in the number of repetitions performed for both the bench press and the machine chest fly across all sets.
  • The reduction in the number of repetitions was less when longer rest periods were used, irrespective of whether the exercise was a single-joint or a multi-joint exercise.

Be Specific With Your Rest Periods

After looking at these 2 highly accredited organizations recommendations and this interesting study, it comes down to the principle of specificity and let us explain that a little more. For example, let’s say you have 2 subjects: Subject A) is training for a powerlifting meet and subject B) is training for a marathon.

These 2 subjects training loads are going to be very different. As the powerlifter will be training in the 1-5 rep max range and will need at least 5 minutes of rest if not more between sets and the marathon runner will be training in the 20-30 rep range trying to build muscular endurance and will need approximately 30 seconds of rest between sets.

So as you can see the length of the rest period between sets and exercises is highly dependent on the goal of training, the amount of weight being lifted, and the athlete or person’s training status. You have to know what you’re training for and use specificity. Are you training to be a bodybuilder, a powerlifter, an endurance athlete, a sport, or are you simply just trying to look good naked? You have to ask yourself all of these questions and be specific as to what your goals are.

So Exactly How Long Should You Rest Now?

We know a lot of you are looking for a black and white answer as to what’s the optimal rest period to get the best results. But to be honest there is no one exact rest period for optimal results. You have to see how your body adapts to different rest periods. You have to experiment with all of the energy systems your body uses during training. You have to test how long it will take to be mentally and physically prepared for the next set. You have to be specific about your goals like we discussed earlier and then you have to use trial and error and see what works for your body. Try using some of the rest period lengths from the above recommendations as a starting point and track it.

The Benefits of Tracking Rest Periods

Okay so if you are still not convinced on the importance of tracking your rest periods, let us get out our sexy list of benefits for you:

  • Keeping track of rest periods is another measurement for progress
  • It’s another data point on the stat sheet to have
  • It helps keep you more focused during your workouts
  • It gives you a chance to experiment with all three of the energy systems (phosphogen system, glycolitic and the oxidative system) fast, medium, and slow.
  • It gives you a good indication of how fast or slow your body recovers with different rep schemes and loads (weight)

If you still aren’t buying this, then just help us twins out and give it a try.

Wrapping It Up

We always want to keep track of the weight, reps, and sets, so why neglect rest period lengths? We aren’t going to go as far as saying that this will make a 50% difference in your training and overall progress but over time it will make at least a 5-10% difference. Funny thing is people will sit there and say “well 5-10% just isn’t worth keeping track and recording my rest periods.” Truth is if you keep finding tricks that will make a 5-10% difference and go that extra mile to do it, over time you’re going to eventually make more progress than that other person. So, remember to know your goals first, use the principle of specificity, use some of the rest period lengths from the above recommendations as a starting point, use trial and error, and record the damn rest periods in your training logs. So is recording your rest periods worth it? Hmmm… We’d say just give it a go. What do you have to lose by trying it?


  1. The position statement of the American College of Sports Medicine
  2. Baechle, Thomas R and Earle, Roger W. Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning/ National Strength and Conditioning Association. USA: 2008 by the National Strength and Conditioning Association
  3. Simao et al. Influence of exercise order on the number of repetitions performed and perceived exertion during resistance exercise in women. Journal of Strength and Conditioning. 2007
  4. Contreras, Bret. Beardsley, Chris. Strength and Conditioning Research Review. November 2012. Pg 16


About The Authors:

Chris and Eric Martinez, CISSN, CPT, BA, also known as the “Dynamic Duo” operate a world class personal training and online training business “Dynamic Duo Training,” They’re also fitness and nutrition writers, fitness models, and coaches that love helping people reach their goals. Their philosophy is “No excuses, only solutions.”


Visit them at:

Dynamic Duo Training


FaceBook Page


YouTube Channel





Come On Man! Why No Glutes?

By Chris Martinez CISSN and Eric Martinez CISSN.  We remember when all we cared about was having a big chest, massive arms, and a ripped mid-section. As we got older, we came to realize that why follow the other typical male standards of a complete physique. We said to ourselves “we love women that have a nice, firm, and shaped booty.” So we thought why the heck are we not growing ourselves a nice backside as well. We went on to do whatever we could to get our glutes to salute!

A very wise man, also known as Bret Contreras aka “The Glute Guy” once said “The glutes have multiple subdivisions and functions, and it’s therefore necessary to perform a variety of glute exercises in order to maximize activation and muscular shape throughout the entire gluteus maximus.”

Pretty much in a nutshell your glutes carry a large load and have a big job all around and if you want nicely shaped glutes, you better work them right. So why is it that some of us neglect these beautiful Assets? More importantly we have come to realization that mainly men neglect their booty muscles. So as the famous Monday Night Football Countdown crew would say, “Come On Man!”

Now ladies, I hope you would agree with us 100% that men should also have nice booties as well, right? Please give us an “amen” or a “halleluiah if you agree!” So, gentlemen you see, women appreciate nice booties just the way us males appreciate a nice pair of glutes on a female. Therefore it is only fair that the opposite sex also put in the necessary work to get their glutes to salute as well!

Time after time we have heard so many excuses when it comes to men not wanting to work on their glutes. A couple of examples are as follows: It’s too feminine, it looks like your humping a bar while hip thrusting, and women only should work on their booties. Once again, “Come On Man!”


In all honesty these are some bogus excuses. At the end of the day men choose not to target their glute muscles because they either do not know how to activate them properly, it’s too hard for them, or their good ole egos kick in while performing curls in the squat rack. There is nothing worse as a man putting on a pair of jeans, especially $200 jeans and knowing you have a flat ass. Seriously guys, chicks dig the glutes too, ask a group of females if you do not believe us.

If you’re thinking standing only exercises activate the glutes best, think again guys. A study by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) conducted in 2006 showed that a simple bodyweight quadruped hip extension activated more gluteus maximus and medius muscle than a max squat. This exercise is performed by getting on the ground on all fours and extending one bent leg rearward. It also outperformed the lunge, step up, and single leg squat exercise.

Epic glutes are not just for women!

Instead of getting a bunch of in-direct work from squats and deadlifts, why not try some direct work such as hip thrusts, glute bridges, reverse hypers, glut-ham raises, and heavy kettle bell swings. Training your glutes directly could potentially have a carryover effect onto compound movements such as squats and deadlifts and we will explain more about this in a few seconds.

The take away message here is don’t be afraid to get on all fours or lay on your backs to perform glute exercises. We promise as much as you guys like watching women perform these glute exercises, they will return the favor and eye ball your booty muscles working.

Stay with us fellas, we are almost finished here. If you are still thinking you shouldn’t train your glutes or they won’t carry over on other big lifts… “Come On Man!” There is plenty of anecdotal research out there from various strength and conditioning coaches that will change your minds and show that by targeting your glute muscles more, will definitely have a carry over to all other training. The best style of training for the glutes borrows from each of these fields:  bodybuilding, powerlifting, and athletic training in order to maximize the stimuli on the glutes. Ever seen the glutes on pro athletes? Do you really think they don’t work their glute muscles? If you say no, “Come On Man!”

Wrapping this all up

After reading this article, we hope men do not feel like we are bashing them. When we first started training we were in the same boat and never thought targeting the glutes were important. To be quite honest, we are pretty proud of the glutes we have built ourselves. We wrote this article to give the male species a heads up to start training their glutes more often and that there are nothing but Ass-tastic (fantastic) benefits by doing so. As we mentioned early, you do not want to be that guy with the flat butt, women appreciate a nice pair of glutes as well. And if you like to back it up on the dance floor, my goodness, will having a strong pair of glutes only help you and probably get you more dance partners as well.

So, the main take home message here is to not neglect your glute muscles gentleman. Make sure to activate them properly and train them hard just like any other muscle group and we promise you will love the results. And, if you still don’t believe us on all this glute talk, ask Bret “The Glute Guy” Contreras for his thoughts, he will definitely drop more glute knowledge than us and, if you don’t believe what he says, then… “COME ON MAN!”


Glutes Demystified, Debunked, and Re-Examined. Bret Contreras and Kellie Davis.

ACE 2006

For an awesome glute workout, click here!

“No Excuses, Only Solutions!”

Creatine: The Truth behind the Chemical

The nutritional supplement industry is a multibillion-dollar industry full of products claiming enhanced performance, quick creatine-1weight loss, increased longevity, and better health. One of the ubiquitous supplements in the sports nutrition field is creatine. In the United States alone, creatine-containing dietary supplements make up a large portion of the estimated $2.7 billion in annual sales of sports nutrition supplements1. Despite its widespread use, creatine supplementation is still a controversy amongst athletes, researchers, and clinicians regarding its efficacy and safety.  In order for you to make a well informed stance on creatine supplementation I shall review the role of creatine in the body, the research surrounding its efficacy in performance enhancement, and the potential side effects of creatine supplementation. 

What is Creatine and What Does it Do?

Creatine is similar to protein in that it is a nitrogen-containing compound, but is not a true protein.  In the nutritional biochemistry world it is known as a “non-protein” nitrogen. It can be obtained in the food we eat (typically meat and fish) or formed endogenously (in the body) from the amino acids glycine, arginine, and methionine3.

Creatine is a key player in the phosphagen energy system, the primary source of ATP (the main energy substrate in our body) during short-term, high intensity activities. Creatine exists as both free form creatine and phosphocreatine in the body.  Phosphocreatine (PC) functions as a “storehouse for high energy phosphate”2. PC functions to replenish ATP in muscles that are rapidly contracting by transfering a phosphate group to the ADP that was formed from the hydrolysis of ATP for energy in the contracting muscle. When our muscles run out of creatine, our short-term, high intensity energy system shuts down and our muscles are no longer able to produce force.

Courtesy of Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism (citation 2)

Phosphocreatine and creatine do not remain in muscles for an extended period of time and are cyclized in a non-reversible reaction to form creatinine, which is then processed by the kidneys and expelled from the body in the urine2.

The use of creatine as an ergogenic aid is based upon the theory that one can increase the saturation of creatine in the muscle through supplmentation. Theoretically, increased creatine in the muscle will increase performance in short, high intensity exercise by increasing the capactiy of our phosphagen system.

What Does the Research Say?

Creatine is one of the most wide researched supplements. In fact, a google scholar search for the terms “creatine supplemenation” yielded 6,740 scholarly articles and a PubMed search yielded 562 articles. While a full analysis of these studies is beyond my capability the findings amongst the literature is relatively conclusion in regards to the efficacy of creatine as a ergogenic aid and its safety.

Supplementation and Muscle Creatine Levels

According to recent research, 10-40% increases in muscle creatine and PC stores have been observed with creatine supplmentation4,5. These results were observed after a specific “loading” protocol was observed. This protocol involves ingesting roughly .3 g/kg/day for between 5 and 7 days (roughly 20 grams a day in 5 gram increments) and 3-5 g/day following the first 5-7 day period5,6. While other protocols have been suggested that involve no loading phase and “cycling” on an off creatine supplemenation, they have not shown to be quite as effective in maintaining increased levels of muscle creatine levels7.

Supplementation and Performance           

Creatine supplementation appears to be the most effective legal nutritional supplement currently available in regards to improving anaerobic capacity and lean body mass (LBM).  The research surrounding the ergogenic effects of creatine supplementation is extensive with hundreds published studies looking exactly at those two outcomes. Approximately 70% of the research has reported a significant (P<.05 for the stats people out there) increase in exercise capacity, while none have reported an ergolytic effect8.

In both the short term and long-term, creatine supplementation appears to enhance the overall quality of training, leading to 5 to 15% greater gains in strength and performance8,9. In addition, Nearly all studies indicate that “proper” CM supplementation increases body mass by about 1 to 2 kg in the first week of loading. In the International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand on creatine the authors state, “The tremendous numbers of investigations conducted with positive results from CM supplementation lead us to conclude that it is the most effective nutritional supplement available today for increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and building lean mass”8. I guess the case is closed on that front.

Is Creatine Safe?

 For years the media has portrayed creatine as a dangerous, not well understood supplement and those that were using it will “pay the piper” in the end. Unfortunately for the mass media, they arrived at their conclusions from a small sample size, namely the ever famous experiment of “n=1”.  The claims in the news are often that creatine can cause dehydration, injury, GI distress, and even kidney or liver damage. However, to date there have been no controlled trials that have shown creatine supplementation to cause dehydration, GI distress, injury, nor kidney or liver damage. The only clinically reported side effect of creatine supplementation is weight gain, which typically, is a goal of creatine users.

The notion that long-term effects of creatine are still unknown and the supplement is not understood simply shows a lack of knowledge and doing some reading. It could be argued that “supplemental” creatine has been around since man began eating meat, which according to recent research was more than a million years ago11.  Research on creatine actually began more than 40 years ago when it was experimentally used to treat heart disorders and improve heart function during heart attacks12.

To wrap up this question I will simply say that the research has shown that creatine appears to be safe when it is used in healthy populations and taken within recommended guidelines. However, like anything else in life, it may be harmful if taken in excess.  In addition further research in this area would be beneficial to determine if it is safe in non-healthy populations.

1.     What is the role of creatine in the body?

Creatine acts to improve our anaerobic work capacity by rephosphorylating ADP to ATP during short-term, high intensity exercise.

2.     Is creatine effective in enhancing performance?

To date, creatine is the most effective legal supplement available for increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and building lean mass.

3.   Is creatine supplementation safe?

No controlled trials that have shown creatine supplementation to cause deleterious side effects, with the only clinical side effect recorded being weight gain.

Is Creatine Ethical?

The last point of contention surrounding creatine supplementation is whether it is ethical or not. As my minor in my Ph.D. program is “sport ethics” and my major professor, Dr. Sharon Stoll, is one of the most renowned sport ethicists in the country I do have some thoughts on the ethics of creatine use, but that is a whole separate story, and perhaps I can convince her to write a paper on it with me.

Unless you are an athlete under the jurisdiction of a specific governing body, i.e USADA, WADA, or the NCAA, whether or not you decide to take creatine is a choice for you to make. I do not believe there is a right or wrong answer here as each person has their own views and perspectives on things, something I value quite highly about humanity. However, hopefully after reading this you have a better idea behind the big questions regarding creatine supplementation and can make a fully informed, educated, and well thought out decision.


  1. NBJ (2009) Sports nutrition & weight loss report. Nutrition Business Journal, vol XIV, September edn., Boulder.
  2. Gropper, S. S., Smith, J. L., & Groff, J. L. (2005). Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.
  3. Williams MH & Branch JD. Creatine supplemenation and exercise performance: an update. J Am Coll Nutr. 1998, 17, 216-213.
  4. Greenhaff PL: Muscle creatine loading in humans: Procedures and functional metabolic effects. 6th International Conference on Guanidino Compounds in Biology and Medicine. Cincinatti, OH. 2001
  5. Kreider RB, Leutholtz BC & Greenwood M. Creatine. Nutritional Ergogenic Aids. CRC Press LLC: Boca Raton, FL, 2004,  p 81-104
  6. Stout J, Eckerson J, Ebersole K, et al. Effect of creatine loading on neuromuscular fatigue threshold. Journal of Applied Physiology. 2000;88(1):109–112.
  7. Candow DG, Chilbeck PD, Chad KE et al., Effect of ceasing creatine supplementation while maintaining resistance training in older men. J Aging Phys Act, 2004, 12, 219-231.
  8. Buford T, Kreider R, Stout J, et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2007;4(1):6.
  9. Kreider RB, Effects of creatine supplementation on performance and training adaptations. Mol Cell Biochem 2003. 244, 298-307.
  10. Kreider, RB, Creatine in sports. Antonio, J., Kalman, D., Stout, J. R., Greenwood, M., Willoughby, D. S., & Haff, G. G. (2008). Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements. Humana Press.
  11. Domínguez-Rodrigo M, Pickering TR, Diez-Martín F et al., Earliest Porotic Hyperostosis on a 1.5-Million-Year-Old Hominin, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7.
  12. Neely, Rovetto M, Whitmer J, Morgan H. Effects of ischemia on function and metabolism of the isolated working rat heart. American Journal of Physiology. 1973;225(3):651–658.


Brad Dieter, MS, CISSN, CSCS is a Doctoral Student at the University of Idaho, Movement Sciences;

Tis the Season to Avoid Excuses

holiday-eatingAs the holidays approach us it is inevitable to believe that avoiding pumpkin pie and social gatherings is a likely option. Tis the season, as they say, to eat like crap and completely abandon our fitness goals. “I’m too busy,” “I spent too much on the holidays to invest in my health,” and “I’ll wait until the New Years to exercise” have become the go-to hackneyed gestures. Just as quickly as one pulls out the credit card for a Black Friday transaction these same people pull out similar excuses.

Excuses no more!

1) “Paradigm shifting:” Since the holidays are a time of social gluttonistic gatherings, shortened days and indoor recumbent “exercise” (sitting) I encounter my clients always telling me that they don’t have time to exercise. Plain and simple. To combat lethargy and excessive weight gain one should focus on a paradigm switch from “I need to exercise AT LEAST 2-3 times a week” to “I’ll exercise only two, maybe three times a week.” By simply changing the mindset from perceiving winter fitness as meeting a requirement to simply as a privilege the stress induced from missing workouts isn’t as damaging. Also, it gives the exerciser more autonomy in WHEN and HOW their workouts come about. This allows for more freedom of training without feeling so committed to exercising as a means of holiday damage control. I find that clients are more likely to exercise on their own when they don’t feel so obligated.

2) “Tis the season to maintain:” To those who don’t have time to exercise 4+ times a week — stop worrying about getting in so many workouts. The last thing we want from our clients is for them to feel so pyschologically blemished from missing a workout or two. Instead, focus on maintaining throughout the winter. This is the perfect time of year to be efficient with your workouts by breaking down your training into two, maybe three sessions a week for under 60 minutes. Allow the clients more freedom in how they spend their holidays; plus, it serves as a way to teach them time efficiency with exercise along with allowing them flexibility. This is when I often advise my clients to experiment with different styles of training or coach them to break their workouts into upper/lower splits composed of supersets with a mixture of HIT. Besides, when they only have to train 2-3 days tops, they don’t feel married to training.

3) “Just say no…..or nah, I’m good:” One of the problems many of us face during the holiday times is being pressured to eat those sugary, taste-so-darn good goodies. Yes, I absolutely love cookies and pie, but it’s perfectly fine to decline ingesting more than I should even when the host of a holiday shindig offers. Remember, when party hosts ask you to try their cookies it’s simply because they are being polite (or have an ulterior motive mwahahah!). Next time you’re at a holiday get-together and they implore you to gorge simply say, “man, those sure do look tasty, but I’m already stuffed on all of the other stuff you have! (optional: insert laughter) ” or “I’m definitely getting some of this to-go.” Both work and yet you don’t come off as a dietary elitist. It’s not necessary to elaborate beyond this as you have made it clear that you appreciate their kitchen endeavors. It also puts off the vibe that you have already liberated yourself to the snack tray (even though we all know you didn’t, but that’s our secret).


Justin Groce has been a personal trainer and strength & conditioning professional for over five years servicing middle Tennessee. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (with distinction) from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (CSCS*D – NSCA), a Certified Personal Trainer from the American College of Sports Medicine (CPT – ACSM), a Certified Sports Nutritionist from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (CISSN – ISSN), holds a master’s degree in education and a bachelor’s degree in health and human performance.

Justin is the current owner/operator of www.JustinGroce.comwhich educates on nutrition, recipes, supplementation and exercise training protocols.

He has a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, a 2nd degree black belt in Tang Soo Do and a 2nd degree black belt in Shorin-Ryu. Additionally, he enjoys coaching clients with their nutrition and strength training programs to maximize performance.

Simple Strategies to Increase Your Veggie Intake

By Liza Muravyeva MS RD CISSN.  Everyone knows to eat more veggies and more greens. No new news there. But 19-greenveggiesare you actually eating them? When you’re starving, you’re probably going to go for that piece of chicken instead of a fresh green salad (especially if you’re a guy).

Greens like spinach and kale are packed with tons of nutrients like iron, calcium, potassium, vitamins A, C, K, and more! There are tons of “greens” products on the market today that claim to balance you internal pH balance and alkalize your system. Those are great and easy to use, however, they come with a higher price tag. So skip the fancy products and get yourself some FRESH greens.

So how can we eat more veggies daily, without putting much thought into it? Here are my top 5 ways of increasing your veggie intake:

  1. Since we are all protein fans, go ahead and add a handful of spinach or kale to your favorite protein shake. You will barely be able to tell it’s in there! Make sure to use an actual blender to mix up the greens well. Spinach has a slightly milder taste than kale, but both are great!
  2. Make some kale chips. These are delicious and I bet you can eat a whole bag of kale chips in less than 3 minutes. They are super easy to make. Get some kale and lay it out on a baking dish. Spray some olive oil cooking spray on the kale, sprinkle some sea salt and black pepper, and stick it on the oven at ~350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes. If you cook them just right, they come out nice and crispy!
  3. Don’t feel like cooking vegetables for lunch or dinner? This would not be my first suggestion- but if you’re in a time crunch you can buy the steamer bags of veggies that you can stick in a microwave and they will be ready in 4 minutes. I’ve seen broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus and even brussel sprouts. Go fresh if you can-but the steamer bags are a great alternative.
  4. Sauté you favorite veggies in the morning before pouring on the egg whites or your eggs. This takes less than 5 minutes, so no excuses. I prefer using spinach or kale simply because it doesn’t need to cook long at all, and its easy to grab and throw in the pan. Sautee the veggies for a minute or so and add in your eggs/egg whites.
  5. Since the cold winter is right around the corner (unless you live in South Florida), you can make a great and hearty stew with turkey or chicken, beans, and your favorite vegetables. Experiment with different veggies like zucchini, carrots, and tomatoes…the more the merrier!

About the Author

Liza Muravyeva MS RD LD/N is a Registered Dietitian, AFAA Certified Group Exercise Instructor and a Mad Dogg Athletics Certified Spinning Instructor.

5 Game Changing Off-Season Nutrition Tips

“Tis the season to be Jolly”…You all have heard this Xmas song right? Well, we say “Tis the season to be BULKY,” except you won’t be eating all those damn cookies like Santa did and you’ll have a lot more muscle mass.  

As we begin to get into off season mode, it is a time of excitement, more food, more carbs, we don’t have to worry about having shredded abs at pool parties or at beaches, we get to eat like a lineman, have some brewskis with the fellas, cut down cardio or cut it out completely, lift heavy ass weights, wear warm clothes, and enhance our physiques basically anywhere from 4-24 months depending on your own personal goals.

Though a lot of people will think bulking season is as simple as just eating a shit load of food and lifting heavy weights, it’s just not that simple folks, and if you need more info on how to do it the right way then read this ultimate muscle mass gaining guide that we wrote.

In this article we will give you 5 game changing nutrition tips for your off season that’ll help you and especially deep into off season. We promise you will try one of these tips and then thank us later. Alright, back straight, shoulders square, neck neutral, note pad out, protein shake by your side…Let’s do it!

1.      Shakes Over Solid Meals

I know a lot of you have heard that solid meals are better than shakes and vice versa, we get it, we’ve heard this too. So we wanted to know the real answer ourselves and we came across an interesting study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism that showed consuming a liquid meal in the form of shakes resulted in an increased thermic effect of food (thermogenisis) compared with a solid meal (bars).


Now, there are obviously some limitations in this study, there’s not much data on this subject, and we’re not going to go as far as saying that shakes are better than solid meals and vice versa. But, the results are very interesting here and the most likely explanation for an increased thermic effect of food from a liquid meal is the fact that liquids empty from the stomach faster than solids and therefore would be expected to be absorbed more quickly.

Keep in mind that if you decide to have shakes, your satiety levels (feeling full) will not be as high as opposed to solid meals. We know from anecdotal evidence from ourselves and working with clients, that having shakes over solid meals has the same outcomes as having solid meals over shakes, it’s more of a personal preference thing and lifestyle suit in our opinions.

But, we will tell you one thing, we know that when you are deep into off season and your calories are high and macros are up, it is a pain in the ass getting in solid foods. This is where shakes will make your life that much easier.

Take Home: If someone says the body burns more calories breaking down solid foods or solid foods give you better results, it’s flat out false because research shows that shakes have a greater thermogenic response. But just because it has a higher thermogenic response does not make it the end all, be all. Try incorporating shakes into your nutrition program, especially deep into off season when your calories and macros are high. At the end of the day, do what works best for you, whether that’s eating solid foods or having shakes.

2.      Keeping anabolism elevated throughout the night

Now a lot of you are probably thinking how do I keep anabolism elevated throughout the night? I’m knocked out, getting my 8 hours. Well, new research by Van Loon et al. has proven that overnight protein administration stimulates muscle protein synthesis. There were two studies done, the first being in elderly men and the second being done in recreationally active young males and they both showed that protein ingestion prior to sleep stimulated muscle protein synthesis overnight.

Even though there are basically only two studies for this, it still proves that protein ingested immediately prior to sleep or during sleep is effectively digested and absorbed, therefore stimulating muscle protein synthesis overnight. It’s very fascinating and promising research so we highly recommend some sort of high quality protein source before bed or during the middle of the night when you have to let Niagara Falls pour out.

Just think about it, your body will be entering a 6-9 hour fast and why not have a steady stream of amino acids flowing in the bloodstream overnight and keeping anabolism elevated.

Another suggestion we recommend is for those that have their calories at very high levels during bulking or deep into offseason and are having trouble consuming all of their macros through their meals during the day, you can simply have a shake in the middle of the night that contains protein, carbs, and fats and this will be an easy way to ingest some of your total daily calories.

Take Home: Try having 20-40g of a high quality protein source before bed or during the middle of the night. If you’re deep into off season and simply can’t get all the calories in throughout the day and through solid food, then whip up a shake that has protein, carbs, and fats before bed and drink it when you wake up and have to go to the bathroom during the middle of the night.    

 3.      Pound an Intra drink during that hard workout

Man, we keep bringing up debatable tips here, but you know what, that’s the beauty of science, it’s open for interpretation and sometimes anecdotal evidence plays to your advantage.

During off season and especially deep into off season, depending on your metabolism and insulin sensitivity your carbs should be in a surplus. Now, we don’t know about you guys, but when you are at 600g of carbs throughout the day like us, that is a ton of food to gorge down. So why not chip away 30-50g of carbs and have it intra workout? 3593998

This comes in handy especially if your workouts run long or maybe you aren’t feeling it that day. What will a little bit of sugar hurt? It won’t hurt nada, it’ll actually help by getting in that extra glucose for energy because your glycogen stores will be replenished and it’ll help you grind through the rest of your workout. We’ve also found that by knowing that we’re going to get that extra 30-50g of glucose, it gives us a mental push as well to finish our workout strong.

Take Home: We recommend consuming 30-50g of a fast acting carbohydrate drink such as a Vitamin Water or Gatorade during your workouts. If all else fails, you still chipped away at your total daily carbs and got some extra energy to finish your workout.

 4.      Have more of your carbs pre and post workout

Yet another good debatable tip here. This is one of our favorites because we feel you get the best bang for your buck here. We feel that by partitioning the majority of your total daily carbohydrates around pre and post workout is a game changer. There are several reasons why we think this, let us bust out our dynamic list for you:

  • You get an increase in insulin sensitivity by working out so you can more effectively tolerate and utilize carbohydrates post workout so it also makes sense to put more carbs post workout as compared to other times of the day.
  • Since insulin sensitivity is also elevated pre workout, it makes sense to get in more carbs to fully top off glycogen stores and have more energy for your workout.
  • Helps with tissue leverage. When your stomach is full, it makes it easier to push your abdominal wall against your weight belt, giving you more stability. Great for squats and deadlifts.
  • Since you are deep into off season and your carbohydrate intake is very high, you might as well make it a bit easier and shave off some of those carbs and have more of them pre and post workout to get the best bang for your buck.

Given these 4 reasons, there’s also an excellent study by Devkota. et al out of Dr. Layman’s lab at the University of Illinois on partitioning carbs closer to your workouts. We know we’ve brought up a debatable tip, but we like the research behind it and we’ll take our chances on this one, especially deep into off season.

Take home: Try partitioning the majority of your carbs around your pre and post workout meal. It doesn’t hurt to try something new.

5.      Don’t  be afraid to eat non-traditional foods

Last but not least, we recommend not being afraid to eat non-traditional foods or should we use the words clean and dirty foods? The clean and dirty words that have no scientific meaning or definition to them, we can’t stand these words because labeling foods as clean or dirty ignores context, and ignoring context is just plain stupid.

We are huge proponents on the diet consisting mostly of whole and minimally refined foods. But still, it’s not all that simple, since certain foods are significantly changed from their original state (i.e., whey protein powder), but still have positive impacts on health.

The point we’re trying to make here is when you are in off season and deep into off season your caloric intake is going to be high and it is going to be very hard to get traditional and whole foods in all the time because simply their caloric value isn’t high and sometimes eating too much low GI and high fiber foods can be counterintuitive when calories are high. So it’s safe to say that it is okay to have some refined and non-traditional foods if your calories are high, so as long as you aren’t abusing this, as long as you’re hitting your macros and fiber numbers for the day, and not gaining too much excess fat in the process.

Take Home: When your calories are high, you are allowed to have some non-traditional foods to meet your daily caloric intake. Trust us this makes off season life that much easier.

Wrapping all this up

Now that we’ve have given you 5 game changing nutrition tips for your off season, just remember that to keep an open mind to trying new things. Just because something doesn’t have research behind it, doesn’t mean it’s useless, because anecdotal evidence can come into play and just because there’s research behind something, it doesn’t mean it’s the end all be all, everything is open to interpretation and should be questioned. These are just tips we have for you and none of these are black and white answers because everything in this game has grey areas. Biggest take home message is to think for yourselves, try it, see if it works for you, work hard at it, and don’t end up looking like Santa after off season! Peace


  • Ratcliff L, Gropper SS, White BD, Shannon DM, Huggins KW. The influence of habitual exercise training and meal form on diet induced thermogenisis in college age men. Int J of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 2011
  • Antonio, Jose et al. “Essentials of sports nutrition and supplements.” 2008
  •  Van Loon et al. “Protein ingestion prior to sleep improves post-exercise overnight recovery.” J ACSM. 2012 Jan.
  • Van Loon et al. “Intragastric protein administration stimulates overnight muscle protein synthesis in elderly men.” Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Sept.
  •  S Devkota, D K Layman. Increased ratio of dietary carbohydrate to protein shifts the focus of metabolic signaling from skeletal muscle to adipose. J Nutri and Metab. 2011.
  • Joanne F. Dorgan; Joseph T. Judd; Christopher Longcope; Charles Brown; Arthur Schatzkin; Beverly A. Clevidence; William S. Campbell; Padmanabhan P. Nair; Charlene Franz; Lisa Kahle; Philip R. Taylor. “Effects of dietary fat and fiber on plasma and urine androgens and estrogens in men: a controlled feeding study.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Dec 1996.
  • Haff GG, Lehmkuhl MJ, McCoy LB, Stone MH. “Carbohydrate supplementation and resistance training.” J Strength Cond Res 2003 Feb;17(1):187-96
  • Schliess F, Haussinger D. “Cell volume and insulin signaling.” Int Rev Cytol 2003;225:187-228
  • Wilson, Jacob. Pre-contest week- An in depth analysis-

Chris Martinez, BA, CISSN, CPT



Interview – Anna Lepeley, PhD, CSCS, CISSN

SNI:  What’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard uttered by a so-called expert?

Anna: If I had a nickel for all the dumb things I’ve heard from so-called “experts”, I’d have more money than a priest. Apparently everyone is an expert these days.

I once had to [involuntarily] debate a guy who claimed to be an expert. He went to the university of watching-liberal documentaries-on-veganism. He claimed that meat and dairy were the cause of obesity in this country today. As I stood with a steak in my hand and gave my physique a quick look over I realized my meat-eating muscles were much more happy than his adipose-infested, estrogen-dominated curvature. Not to mention, he also had a wattle. I told him people are fat because they don’t want to work out and think that eating like a cow or bird is going to get them all the protein they need.

And don’t get me started on the nonsense I see in gyms. I truly believe these personal trainers are setting up their clients for failure with weight loss (and sometimes an increased potential for injury). On a positive note, these infamous trainers are setting up their clients for successful career in the circus; doing one-legged bicep curls in a clown suit while alternating an uncoordinated lunge under an elephant. In the trainers’ defense, they claim they’re keeping their clients entertained. They’re just keeping me entertained as I watch and cringe between my unstoppable, abrupt bouts of laughter.

Cleanses and detoxes; liquid diets. I suppose people didn’t learn their lesson from Linda Hazzard (as if her last name wasn’t enough warning) of the early 1900s who proposed the ridiculously fatal starvation diets that share similarities with the bullshit we see today. Your lymphatic system, kidneys and liver do a pretty good job of detoxing your body but if you’d like to slow down your metabolism, suppress your immune system and be a cranky jerk for a week, be my guest!

SNI: Why are there so few libertarians in academics?

Anna: That’s a great question and the only answer I can come up with is that it’d make too much sense. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to the libertarian party by Dr. Jose Antonio when he was my professor years ago.

SNI: Who would you rather have dinner with, Sir Isaac Newton, Ron Jeremy, Joan Rivers, or Justin Bieber?

Anna: Hands down, Joan Rivers. That lady should run for president and have Howard Stern be her VP.

I’m sure Sir Isaac would be incredibly insightful but given our differences in eras of existence, his lingo would cause for some discrepancies in our verbal exchange. Did they use the “f” word back in those days? Otherwise, I’d kindly ask to try on his wig.

Ron Jeremy- I’ll pass. He makes for a great appetite suppressant. I actually gave seminars at a conference and was in the line-up with Jeremy. (I promise my talk was very scientific but very entertaining at that. The only difference is I could use profane language at this conference because it wasn’t filled with tightwads from academia.) Here’s my take on Ron Jeremy. He gets paid to give seminars, do appearances and sign autographs for a bunch of goons yet he looks like he hasn’t bathed in three months and wears sweat pants and crocs. If you get paid to present yourself somewhere – clean up! He looks like he’s been residing inside of an elephant’s anus since the 70s.

I’d also pass on Bieber. Although, I’d love to help him get his testosterone levels up in a weight room. He’s way past puberty and looks like a female undergoing her initial phase of gender reassignment. Hit the weights and pull up your pants Justy! Little girls are going to be embarrassed when they look back on their youth and realize who they idolized.

SNI: Why do you think so many journalists in the mainstream press are completely ignorant of the science (vis a vis sports nutrition)? Is it a general lack of science knowledge? Or they’re just too dumb to learn science?

Anna: I think the media is always looking to shock people. It’s their job. People want to read outlandish headlines. By the time a research finding reaches a media source, it’s been taken apart and misconstrued. It’s just like playing telephone, except with idiots. If the readers actually took the time to read the sourced research (if they could understand it), they’d wonder what the hell the journalist was on when they wrote the article. Perhaps it’s all become political too. You don’t need science in politics; just a bible and some pictures of Paul Ryan struggling to curl a dumbbell and showing the world that he doesn’t train legs.

SNI: What are your top 5 supplements for athletic performance?

Anna:  1. Whey protein is a must have! Good fun for all ages; guys, girls and trannies. You can’t live without it. It’s the vital complement to your exercise regimen, speeds up your recovery, lessens muscle damage and improves your antioxidant capacity. Whey protein is the best but if you have a dairy allergy, like me, throw in some extra essential amino acids (throw in some extra EAA’s even if you can have whey) to your alternative protein source. No soy protein, thanks. I still think soy and hemp proteins are for hippies.

2. Caffeine! The best physical and cognitive performance-enhancing supplement. Critics, doctors and the [aforementioned] journalists like to bite their nails at the thought of a caffeine addiction and its habit-forming characteristics. There’s nothing wrong with being a caffeine addict. You’ll never steal an old lady’s purse or beg in the streets if you’re caffeine deprived. You might punch someone in the face if they rub you the wrong way but a cup of coffee should quickly appease the fix. The Mr. Miyagi in me must advise that you use caffeine wisely. Don’t abuse its benefits. Don’t drink an energy drink and sit your fat-ass on the couch to watch a football game. Don’t desensitize so you can continuously reap the benefits of caffeine. Take caffeine prior (60-25 minutes) to your task (i.e. exercise, physical activity, studying) and ease into your dose if you’re a caffeine-rookie.

3. Creatine! Good for guys, good for girls and good for your grandma. It’s great for long-term body composition enhancements, exercise performance, brain function and is one of my top choices for antioxidants!

4. Beta-alanine. The most successful (and practical) way to boost your intramuscular carnosine levels. Plus, who can resist the tingles (paresthesia)??

5. Fish oil; attenuates the inevitable exercise-induced inflammatory responses experienced by athletes and supports healthy brain function.

SNI: Last but not least, if you could be a super hero, who would it be?

Anna: Hulk! The female version, of course; just as strong!


Anna Lepeley, PhD, CSCS, CISSN recently finished her doctorate in Sports Nutrition research, conducting the first study to examine the acute effects of pre-exercise whey protein, versus carbohydrate, consumption on resistance exercise performance and ratings of perceived exertion in trained females. Anna was a former radio talk-show co-host with Dr. Jose Antonio. Anna does freelance work for food & beverage/supplement companies; writing and spokesperson work. Anna provides seminars on an array of health topics; always entertaining her audience while educating them.


Anna Lepeley, PhD, CSCS, CISSN

  • Sports Nutritionist
  • Strength & Conditioning Specialist
  • Consultant, Keynote Speaker, Author


Glycogen: more than just an energy source?

By Mark Hearris.  It is well documented that glycogen is the predominant fuel source oxidised during moderate-intensity exercise and that during exercise endogenous muscle glycogen is dramatically reduced, limiting exercise capacity (Bergstrom et al, 1967; Hermansen, Hultman & Saltin, 1967; Ahlborg et al, 1967; Hargreaves et al, 1984). It is well regarded that the onset of fatigue is associated with severe depletion of one’s muscle glycogen stores leading to hypoglycaemia and, as a result, limiting exercise capacity. In light of this, attention should be focused on nutritional interventions that aim to maximise endogenous glycogen stores (liver and muscle) before training sessions or competitive events. This strategy should allow training to be commenced with optimal glycogen stores that can be maintained throughout the exercise bout. The proposed mechanisms that explain exogenous carbohydrate supplementation include a muscle glycogen “sparing” effect (Tsintzas & Williams, 1995) and the maintenance of high blood glucose oxidation rates (Coyle et al, 1986).

However is glycogen more than just a simple energy source? In recent years, the role of glycogen has evolved into that of a regulator of cell signalling (Hawley et al, 2006). In light of this, it is suggested that carbohydrate availability is a potent modulator of the subsequent adaptations to exercise. Furthermore, there is accumulating data that provide evidence to suggest commencing exercise with reduced carbohydrate availability enhances the transcriptional rate of several genes associated with training adaptations. Recent research has suggested that commencing training with “low” muscle glycogen leads to enhanced training adaptations when compared with “normal” glycogen levels. (Hansen et al, 2005; Yeo et al, 2008; Hulston et al, 2010) including increases in resting muscle glycogen, citrate synthase activity and the rate of whole body fat oxidation. In spite of this, however, it is important to critically assess; what are the “costs” of training with “low” glycogen levels and how can these be minimized?

It is suggested that training intensity may suffer as a result of “training low” as well as increases in ones perception of effort (RPE). However, could simply rinsing the mouth with a carbohydrate (CHO) solution be the answer to this problem? Initial research by Carter and colleagues (2004) suggested rinsing the mouth with a CHO solution improved cycle time trial performance compared with a taste-matched placebo. Similar results have been shown in a handful of studies in both cycling and running protocols with seemingly no increases in effort (Whitham & McKinney, 2007; Pottier et al, 2010; Rollo et al, 2010). The proposed ergogenic effect of this intervention lies within activated regions of the brain that are responsible for reward and motor control (Chambers, Bridge & Jones, 2009) and not due to a metabolic effect. As a result, a CHO would not interfere with the cell signalling processes associated with “training low” and therefore allow optimal training adaptations.

BIO: Mark is currently a final year undergraduate student studying Sport & Exercise at Liverpool John Moores University. In regards to providing Sport Science support, Mark has previously worked at Blackburn Rovers & Liverpool FC where he was responsible for monitoring training session loads and other physiological variables of players. During the coming season, Mark will also be responsible for providing nutritional support to Blackburn Rovers sport science department. Marks particular research interests lie in the field of skeletal muscle metabolism and the role of nutrition in modulating adaptations to training.


1. Ahlborg, B. J., Bergstrom, J., Ekelund, G., & Hultman, E. (1967). Muscle glycogen and electrolytes during prolonged physical exercise. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica, 70, 129 – 142.

2. Bergstrom, J., Hermansen, L., Hultman, E., & Saltin, B. (1967). Diet, muscle glycogen and physical performance. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica, 71, 140 – 150.

3. Burke, L. M. (2010). Fueling strategies to optimize performance: training high or training low? Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 20, 48 – 58.

4. Carter, J. M., Jeukendrup, A. E., & Jones, D. A. (2004). The effect of carbohydrate mouth rinse on 1-h cycle time trial performance. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 36, 2107 – 2111.

5. Chambers, E. S., Bridge, M. W., & Jones, D. A. (2009). Carbohydrate sensing in the human mouth: effects of exercise performance and brain activity. Journal of Physiology, 587.8, 1779 – 1794.

6. Hansen, A. K., Fischer, C. P., Plomgaard, P., Anderson, J. L., Saltin, B., & Pedersen, B. K. (2005). Skeletal muscle adaptation: training twice every second day vs. training once daily. Journal of Applied Physiology, 98, 93 – 99.

7. Hargreaves, M., Costill, D. L., Coggan, A., Fink, W. J., & Nishibata, I. (1984). Effect of carbohydrate feedings on muscle glycogen utilization and exercise performance. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 16, 219 – 222.

8. Hawley, J. A., Tipton, K. D., & Millard-Stafford, M, L. (2006). Promoting training adaptations through nutritional interventions. Journal of Sport Sciences, 24, 709 – 721

9. Hermansen, L., Hultman, E., & Saltin, B. (1967). Muscle glycogen during prolonged and severe exercise. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica, 71, 129 – 139.

10. Hulston, C. J., Venables, M. C., Mann, C. H., Martin, C., Philp, A., Baar, K., & Jeukendrup, A. E. (2010). Training with low muscle glycogen enhances fat metabolism in well-trained cyclists. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 42, 2046 – 2055.

11. Pottier, A., Bouckaert, J., Gillis, W., Roels, T., & Derave, W. (2010). Mouth rinse but not ingestion of a carbohydrate solution improved 1-h cycle time trial performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 42, 798 – 804.

12. Rollo, I., Cole, M., Miller, R., & Williams, C. (2010). Influence of mouth rinsing a carbohydrate solution of 1-h running performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 42, 798 – 804.

13. Tsintzas, K., & Williams, C. (1998). Human muscle glycogen metabolism during exercise: Effect of carbohydrate supplementation, Sports Medicine, 25, 7 – 23.

14. Whitham, M., & McKinney, J. (2007). Effect of a carbohydrate mouthwash on running time-trial performance. Journal of Sports Sciences, 25, 1385 – 1392.

15. Yeo, W. K., Paton, C. D., Garnham, A. P., Burke, L. M., Carey, A. L., & Hawley, J. A. (2008). Skeletal muscle adaptation and performance responses to once a day versus twice every second day endurance training regiments. Journal of Applied Physiology, 105, 1462 – 1470.

Why Mainstream Media Got it Wrong About Fat

by Brad Dieter, MS, CISSN, CSCS.

This post started out to be a brief overview of fats and then my nerdy side kicked in and I wanted to address a wide range of questions; therefore, I decided to start a small series of fat related topics.  So, the first post in quest to explain fat is to address why they have been vilified, and why the early research was not correct.

Fat gives you love handles, clogs your arteries, causes disease, and should be avoided at all costs. The government says so, your low-fat Wheat Thins says so, and your very well intentioned marathon running uncle says so.  Therefore, fat is bad, AND you shouldn’t eat fat. I mean that sounds like solid logic right? Well unfortunately your well intentioned uncle is wrong, your Wheat Thins aren’t helping your six pack, and the government is lying to you.

In fact, fat is essential, your body requires it and you can’t live without it. Dietary fat is not the main culprit behind your love handles, your “clogged” arteries, or your diabetes, and should be consumed in healthily large quantities. Now, there is a caveat to that in regards to what kinds of fat you should consume and how much is too much and I will dive into that later.  First let’s take a look at what exactly fat is and what it is involved in.

Fat is the collective name given to a wide variety of water-insoluble (cannot be dissolved in water) including all fats and oils in our diet and in our bodies1.  Their chemical structure is similar to carbohydrates (CHO) in the fact that they are made up entirely of carbon (C), hydrogen (H), and oxygen (O); however in fats, the ratio of O to C and H is lower, which makes it a more concentrated source of energy. Aside from its role as an energy provider, fat serves a wide variety of functions in the human body.


  1. Lipid: A class of compounds consisting of phospholipids, sterols, and triaglycerols1.
  2. Triglyceride: A glycerol molecule with three fatty acids attached.
  3. Glycerol: A three carbon sugar that serves as a backbone for triglycerides.
  4. Fatty Acids: Chains of carbon atoms of varying lengths that attach to a glycerol molecule to form a triaglycerol.
  5. Saturated Fat (SFA): All carbon molecules in the chain are fully bonded with either carbon or hydrogen and contain no double bonds.
  6. Monounsaturated Fat (MUFA): A chain with one double bond.
  7. Polyunsaturated Fat (PUFA): A chain with more than one double bond. The essential N-3 and N-6 (The Omega’s) are examples of PUFAs

Role Fat Plays in The Body

  1. Phospholipids (specific types of fat) make up a large portion of our cell membranes.
  2. They are responsible for transporting fat soluble vitamins (A, D, K, and E) along with other crucial molecules through the body including cholesterol (a special fat we will get to in a minute)
  3. Essential for transmission of nerve signals.
  4. Provide satiety
  5. Produce hormones (specifically leptin) that control homeostasis in terms of your body fat set point (this is known as the adipostat)2
  6. Insulate from thermal stress.
  7. Are essential in the production of corticosteroid hormones3

The definitions and role fats play have been laid out, so now we can dive into the nerdy details! Get excited because this is interesting stuff and will change the way you think about fat!

It is quite apparent that fat is crucial in maintaining a healthy, properly function, metabolic system.  So why have fats been “vilified” by mainstream media? I have a few beliefs on why this happened.


The first idea is that when the beginning of the obesity trend coincided with an increase in caloric intake and as fat has the energy equivalent of 9kcal/gram compared to protein and CHO which have 4kcal/gram, researchers jumped to the conclusion excess calories due to excess fat are responsible for gaining weight. Those researchers also made the assumption that it is strictly an energy balance (calories in vs. calories out) that is responsible for weight gain.

While some small piece of that may be true, it is wildly presumptuous to insinuate that fat is wholly responsible, inherently bad, and should be radically decreased or eliminated.  In fact, as previously stated, fat promotes satiety, which in turns may actually help you you limit overall caloric intake. Also, the researcher’s assumption that “energy balance” is the sole culprit responsible for weight gain and obesity has been proven false in a wide range of literature.  In the light of recent research, it appears that the body has a built in mechanism designed to maintain a set body fat (the adipostat), despite minor, and in some cases major, changes in daily caloric intake. An increase in calories due to fat does not wholly explain the massive increase in obesity.

I would love to dive into this topic even further but that is quite a deep rabbit hole and I want to stay on topic. There are some great studies to read and I have provided a review to read if you are interested2. I really respect Dr. Guyenet’s work and think his ideas bring to light a big issue in why our obesity rates have skyrocketed, and I will come back to this at a future date.


The second is that not all fats are created equal, and many of the studies that linked fat intake to weight gain did not control for the type of fat, or used extremely poor quality fats (i.e. corn oil). The type of fat you consume can and does dictate how your body handles them. I think Dr. Michael and Mary Eades put it best when they stated in the book The Protein Power Lifeplan, “You are the fat you eat”. The different types of fats and their metabolic effects and biochemical interactions could be and entire Ph.D, but I am going to give you a brief crash course so you can understand why those studies aren’t a great source to hang your hat on. Buckle up and get ready for a read, but I promise at the end of it, I’ll tie it all together.

As all fats are considered acids, and are composed of C,H, and O, the way they are put together drastically alters how they act. First off, fats come in different sizes and length is determined by how many carbons they have, from few, to some, to many, and are referred to as short chain, medium chain, and long chain fatty acids respectively. Carbon attaches to other molecules via “bonds” and has the potential to form four bonds. In fats, carbons are attached to another C or an H. When all of the C atoms are full of hydrogen, the fat is considered to be “saturated”.  When a fat is missing one or H’s and the empty spot is considered “weak” and forms a double bond with the neighboring C, a less stable bond that when it was “saturated”. MUFA’s have one of these bonds while PUFA’s have more than one.

Therefore, saturated fats are the most stable, while PUFA’s are considered the least stable.  Does this make you curious as to why saturated fats have been vilified and considered a killer in terms of CVD? Let me assure you that the current state of the evidence indicates this is not the case, and I will attack this issue in full force in a later post will full data to back it up, but for now just trust me on this one (and eat some steak and coconut oil in the meantime)!

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and are found in butter, coconut oil, and lard. MUFA’s are relatively stable (meaning they do not “break apart” easily, or in a chemical sense become oxidized), and are found in olive oil, nuts, lard, and avocados. PUFA’s are the most unstable, are liquid at room temperature and are prone to oxidation.  It appears as though PUFA’s would be the most dangerous, in terms of oxidation, and that is accurate; however, there are PUFA’s that are essential, i.e. we must consume them, and are vital to our health (In walks the Omega’s).  The two fatty acids that are essential are linoleic acid (18:2 n-6) and α-linolenic acid (18:3 n-3).  From these two acids we can derive the other essential fatty acids, namely γ-linolenic acid (18:3 n-6), arachadonic acids (20:4 n-6), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) (20:5 n-3), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (22:6 n-3). All those numbers are more geek speak and indicate how long the FA is, how many double bonds there are, and precisely where the first double bonds occur. For example, EPA (20:5 n-3) is 20 C’s long, has 5 double bonds, and the first one occurs at the third C. Here is a nice little picture of these EFA’s.

Now that you have the big names of the essential fatty acids (EFA’s), let’s talk about what they do exactly. The EFA’s are unique in that they are the only FA that can be converted into something called eicosanoids.  Eicosanoids are part of the immune response of the body and are mediators in the inflammatory response and are either pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory.  Without getting into too much detail, in general the Omega-6 (n-6)fat derived eicosanoids are pro-inflammatory, while the Omega-3 (n-3) eicosanoids are anti-inflammatory.

Now that you have “the skinny on fats”, how does this apply to why fats were vilified for a long time? Lets start with why researchers believed fats were bad for your health, and caused heart disease.

We previously discussed how Omega-6 (n-6) fat derived eicosanoids are pro-inflammatory, while the Omega-3 (n-3) eicosanoids are anti-inflammatory. Well, our body functions best when these two processes are in balance, which means that we should attempt to consume Omega-6 EFA’s and Omega-3 EFA’s in equal quantities. Unfortunately, that is not the case with our standard American diet. Omega-6 EFA’s are found in industrial oils such as corn, safflower, soybean, cotton seed, sunflower, and peanut oil, and small amounts in animal fat. Omega-3 EFA’s are found predominantly in fish, algae, shellfish, and leafy vegetables. Our current diets have n-6:n-3 ratios of anywhere between 12:1 and 16:1. . . can you see an issue here? I do, our current trend of fat intake is highly inflammatory in nature. In the studies that related fat to weight gain they were utilizing fats that had extremely high O6:O3 ratios, no wonder there were some health issues observed in their outcomes.

Placing this concept in the “evolutionary based nutrition” sphere definitely gives the argument for a more ancestral based some decent purchase.  In a paper by Eaton et al. in 19985 it is suggested that our intake of O6:O3 were around as 1:1 and a study by Weber in 19896 suggests the ratio may have even been as low as .79:1.

The hypothesis of increased n-6 intake as a cause of the deleterious health affects of fat has solid theory behind its mechanism, however there is little research to fully substantiate that claim.  The one solid study I was able to track down was the Lyon Heart Study (a quick Google search will bring up the full text).  In this randomized secondary prevention study, the researchers found that diets in which n-3 consumption was higher, thus balancing out the n-6:n-3 ratio, adjusted risk ratio for overall mortality was .30 (p=.02).  Essentially, lowering the n-6:n-3 ratio cut their risk of overall mortality to 1/3 that of the control population.

The next PUFA on the list deserves its own paragraph. This FA is a chimera, an abomination that should never have been created, and deserves to be sent back to the laboratory it came from. Usher in the “Trans Fat”.  Now, in the name of honest science, I have to say that trans fats do exist in nature (i.e. in very small amounts in milk fats). But, that being said, the amounts in which they exist in commercially created foods gives them the deleterious health effects I will explain in a minute.

Trans fats are a product of chemically altering PUFA’s by hydrogenating them. The process involves changing a “cis” bond into a “trans” bond.  Don’t worry about the geek speak there, basically this process makes them solid at room temperature and more “plastic” for easier spreading (think about your margarine spread you put on your toast).  The introduction of trans fats was a product of mass food commercialization and increasing the palatability and reward factor of food. Once again, commercialized food is after your wallets, not your heart (in the context of heart health).  In a diet high in trans fats, we observe a decrease in HDL, increase in LDL, and may increase risk of myocardial infarction and death due to CHD6,7.  The long and short of trans fat is, if it comes in a box, a bag, or a wrapper, don’t eat it, and swap your margarine for real butter.


The notion of fat intake as a correlate for bad for health and causing disease can greatly be explained by the fact that in our modern “Western” diet, n-6:n-3 ratios are extremely imbalanced and our intake of those evil “trans-fats” has increased.

In terms of the weight gain, we have to look at poor research methods, and a trend of researchers jumping on the low-fat bandwagon. In fact, it is extremely difficult to even find those studies that came out in the early 90’s as they have been buried under a pile of current research that shows healthy dietary fat is not an independent predictor in weight gain. I would like to go into detail on those studies, but for the sake of being concise I will show you a few charts and quotes that convey my message rather clearly (and loudly if I may be so bold).

“Reduced fat and calorie intake and frequent use of low-calorie food products have been associated with a paradoxical increase in the prevalence of obesity”.8

“The emphasis on total fat reduction has been a serious distraction in efforts to control obesity and improve health in general”.9

U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1965 and 1977-78 Nationwide Food Consumption Surveys, and 1989-91 and 1994-95 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals.

Guyenet, S. J. More Thoughts on Macronutrient Trends, Friday, September 14, 2012.

CDC/NCHS, Health, United States, 2008, Figure 7. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

As you can see, the drastic increase in obesity rates since 1970 are not coinciding with a marked increase in dietary fat. If any conclusion could be drawn from this data is that our increased carbohydrate intake has a greater impact on obesity rates than fat does.  The data are rather inconclusive and the obesity epidemic is much more multifactorial than just macronutrient content, yet another topic I want to address in a future post.

Hopefully by now I have convinced you of a few things:

1) Fats are essential to your body and your health, you have to eat them to survive.

2) Not all fats are equal, some are amazingly healthy, some can be downright dangerous.

3) Saturated fat is not evil, it is solely (maybe not even partially) responsible for heart disease, and I promise I will fully explain that in detail in an upcoming post.

4) The balance of n-6:n-3 actually does mean something and our modern diet is not well balanced.

5) The early research and the notion of “ dietary fat makes you fat” is wrong, there are some subtle nuances that may make that statement partially true but as a blanket statement, it could not be further from the truth.

6) Fats are awesome, go grab some coconut oil toss it on some veggies to go along side a nice porterhouse steak (grass fed if you can muster one up!)


  1. Antonio, J., Kalman, D., Stout, J. R., Greenwood, M., Willoughby, D. S., & Haff, G. G. (2008). Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements. Humana Press.
  2. Guyenet, S. J., Schwartz, M. W.,  Clinical review: Regulation of food intake, energy balance, and body fat mass: implications for the pathogenesis and treatment of obesity.  Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2012, 97(3), 745-755.
  3. Gropper, S. S., Smith, J. L., & Groff, J. L. (2005). Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism.Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.
  4. Eaton, S. B., Eaton III, S. B., Sinclair, A. J., Cordain, L., & Mann, N. J. (1998). Dietary intake of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids during the Paleolithic. World Review of Nutrition & Dietetics , 83, 12-23.
  5. Weber, P. C. (1989). Are we what we eat? Fatty acids in nutrition and in cell membranes: cell functions and disorders induced by dietary conditions. Svanoy Foundations, Svanoybukt.
  6. Ascherio, A., & Willett, W. (1997). Health effects of trans fatty acids. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition , 66, 1006-1010.
  7. Mensink, R. P., & Katan, M. B. (1990). Effect of dietary trans fatty acids on high density and low density lipoprotein cholestrol levels in healthy subjects. New England Journal of Medicine , 323, 439-445.
  8. Heini, A. F., & Weinser, R. L. (1997). Divergent trends in obesity and fat intake patterns: The American paradox. The American Journal of Medicine , 102, 259-264.
  9. Willet, W. C. (2002). Dietary fat plays a major role in obesity: no. Obesity Review , 3 (2), 59-68.

Brad is a Ph.D. student at the University of Idaho in Exercise Science. He received his M.S. degree in biomechanics from the University of Idaho and is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He has experience as a nutrition and fitness consultant, a collegiate strength coach, and a trauma representative in the orthopedic industry. Outside of school research, his research interests are in developing a better understanding of the nutrition, health, and performance axis and real world application of that knowledge.

A Sweet Pill to Swallow

By Jose Antonio PhD

Let’s face it.  The weight loss category is huge, no pun intended.  Consumers and scientists are constantly in search of the latest greatest fat-melting, metabolism-jacking supplement.  The death of ephedra was certainly a sad swan song for all of us who loved the vaunted caffeine-ephedra stack.  However, you may have noticed that bitter orange (example: as the patented Advantra Z) is becoming the go-to ingredient in many of the top sports nutrition brands lately. New products have launched recently by Nutrex, BSN, Labrada, Cellucor, Max Muscle, and Heuer Research with more R & D as we speak. With DMAA going the way of the Dodo bird and T-Rex and a dearth of other new ingredients, bitter orange has been increasingly selected as active component of new products. Pre-workout powders are particularly likely candidates to add bitter orange to their formulas.  So what gives?  Is bitter orange the answer?  Well let’s examine the facts.  And the truth shall set you free.

First of all, bitter orange (aka citrus aurantium extract) and its principal protoalkaloidal constituent p-synephrine is widely used in weight loss and weight management as well as in sports performance products. However, let’s get to the point.  Does it work and is it safe?  Well as with anything you consume, context is everything.  Don’t fall for the intellectually lazy arguments claiming that this stuff will kill you.  Heck, too much waterorange_peel will kill you; too much caffeine will kill you.  But nobody with an IQ of at least 85 is calling for a ban of Evian and Starbucks.  According to a recent scientific report, “the use of bitter orange extract and p-synephrine appears to be exceedingly safe with no serious adverse effects being directly attributable to these ingredients.1

And in an elegant review published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences, scientists examined the entire body of science to see indeed if bitter orange is both safe and effective.  They examined over 20 studies totaling about 360 subjects with more detail than Google Maps.  They found that in general, bitter orange extract alone (p-synephrine) or in combination with other ingredients such as caffeine did not produce significant adverse events as an increase in heart rate or blood pressure, or alter electrocardiographic data, serum chemistry, blood cell counts or urinalysis. In fact, modest weight loss was observed with bitter orange extract/p-synephrine-containing products when given for six to 12 weeks.2 

Perhaps the best use of bitter orange is in combination with caffeine.  A study done at Baylor University examined the effect of a fortified coffee (JavaFit) that contained 450 mg caffeine, 1200 Garcinia cambogia, 360 mg of citrus aurantium extract and 225 mcg of chromium polynicotinate on aerobic and anaerobic performance measures in recreationally-active male and female coffee drinkers. They discovered that JavaFit enhanced post-exercise fat metabolism.3

Scientists at Montana State University investigated the cardiovascular effects of a product containing caffeine, bitter orange extract (p-synephrine) and green tea extract in mildly overweight individuals. Fourteen young female and nine male subjects volunteered in this randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover, double-blind designed study. They ingested one capsule that was either a non-caloric placebo or a dietary supplement that contained 13 mg p-synephrine and 176 mg caffeine.  So what did they discover? Indeed they found no effects of the dietary supplement on heart rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure or mean arterial pressure. Thus, consuming a product containing bitter orange extract, caffeine and green tea extract does not lead to increased cardiovascular stress and that fat burning may increase in certain populations.4

Certainly, the data does indicate that bitter orange (i.e. p-synephrine) alone or in combination with caffeine doesn’t pose any undue health risk.  In fact, no adverse effects have been directly linked to bitter orange or p-synephrine.  For weight loss to occur, it is likely that a treatment period of at least 12 weeks is required. 

A report from Intertek Cantox (Mississauga Ontario Canada) stated that “the use of p-synephrine alone or in combination with caffeine within specified limits, is not considered to pose significant concerns.”  Overall, they suggest that up to 60 mg of p-synephrine alone or 40 mg of p-synephrine with 320 mg of caffeine is not likely to cause any adverse effects. 

To top it off, Health Canada, which is known to be more strict than a cloistered nun, agrees that the ‘botanical material Bitter Orange peel, at the doses typically used in herbal medicine and food, is not considered to pose any risk to the health of consumers.”

Conclusion:  The existing data indicate that bitter orange (particularly in combination with caffeine) can increase energy expenditure and is safe when used within the normally suggested doses. 


1.            Stohs SJ, Preuss HG, Shara M. The safety of Citrus aurantium (bitter orange) and its primary protoalkaloid p-synephrine. Phytotherapy research : PTR 2011;25:1421-8.

2.            Stohs SJ, Preuss HG, Shara M. A Review of the Human Clinical Studies Involving Citrus aurantium (Bitter Orange) Extract and its Primary Protoalkaloid p-Synephrine. International journal of medical sciences 2012;9:527-38.

3.            Roberts MD, Taylor LW, Wismann JA, Wilborn CD, Kreider RB, Willoughby DS. Effects of ingesting JavaFit Energy Extreme functional coffee on aerobic and anaerobic fitness markers in recreationally-active coffee consumers. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2007;4:25.

4.            Seifert JG, Nelson A, Devonish J, Burke ER, Stohs SJ. Effect of acute administration of an herbal preparation on blood pressure and heart rate in humans. International journal of medical sciences 2011;8:192-7.


Essential Fats – No, They’re Not All Equal

by Brad Dieter, MS, CISSN, CSCS.

Protein and fat are the two obligatory substrates people have to consume in order to sustain life, while carbohydrates are not.   In layman’s terms, you have to eat fat and protein to live, while carbohydrates are just extra, you really do not need them to survive. If fat is entirely excluded from the diet of humans, a condition develops that is characterized by retarded growth, dermatitis, kidney lesions, and early death1.

Research has shown that these conditions are reverse when subjects consumed certain unsaturated fatty acids, namely the Omega-3 and Omega-6 PUFA’s.  These specific PUFA’s cannot be synthesized in the human body and must be acquired in our diet, thus, these are the essential fatty acids (EFA’s). The names of these PUFA’s are linoleic acid (LA), an Omega-6, and alpha linolenic acid (ALA), an Omega-3. From these two PUFA’s our body can manufacture the subsequent compounds necessary for our bodies to properly function. . . . at least that is what science says, but we will see in a later post why LA and ALA may not be the effective way to obtain the “essential” fats that we need to include in our diet.

What Exactly Do These “Essential Fats” Do?

The main role EFA’s play in the body are for formation of cell membranes and are precursors to a group compounds known as Eicosanoids.  The Eicosanoids are long (20 carbons in length), highly unsaturated fatty acids and form prostaglandins (PG’s), thromboxanes (TBX’s), and leukotrienes (LK’s).  Ok, sorry for the big scientific terms and I will try and limit using them, but these are big time players in maintaing your body. The PG’s, TBX’s and LK’s are involved in some important physiological processes, including: 1) lowering blood pressure, 2) blood platelet aggregation (clotting), 3) immune response and regulation, 4) smooth muscle contraction (i.e. the muscles involved in breathing, blood vessels, and your digestive system), and 5) they act as signals all over the body. 

I know what you are thinking, Holy Smokes, I did not know fats did all those things for you.  Now compare the roles the many different roles that fats play in the human body when you compare it to the myopic role of carbohydrates. That is absolutely amazing if you ask me, but then again I am a huge nerd and love this stuff.

It’s pretty apparent that Omega-3 and Omega-6 EFA’s are pretty darn important… but are they equal? Well, lets find out.

Omega-3 Vs. Omega-6

Omega-3 EFA’s differ from Omega-6 EFA’s in that their first double carbon bond occurs at the location of the 3rd carbon from the methyl end of the chain where in the Omega-6 , EFA’s, that first bond occurs at the 6th carbon.  Big nerd terms aside, this just means that they play quite different roles in the body.

How different you ask? Well to answer that as simply as possible, the end products of Omega-3 EFA’s are generally considered anti-inflammatory and are reported to have hypolipidemic (lowering lipids/fat) and antithrombotic (preventing excess clotting) effects, while Omega-6 EFA’s are considered pro-inflammatory in nature.  Here is a great diagram that shows you the end products of the Omega-6′s and the Omega’s.

Clearly, the EFA’s are not equal, they play complementary roles to each other. Just like everything else in the world, too much of one, and not enough of the other has some serious consequences. . . In the case of the EFA’s, too much Omega-6 increases inflammation.


Ok, so you eat too much Omega-6 EFAs and have a little more inflammation than you should… Who cares is probably what you are thinking. Well, I care, and I care a lot. The whole reason I write this blog, went to grad school, and spend my free time learning about the human body is because I care about all of you and your health!

That being said, what is the big deal? Inflammation is a normal physiological response that is crucial to maintaining health; however excess inflammation, or uncontrolled inflammation leads to impaired function, and disease2. Inflammation is a critical component in the development of cardiovascular disease, THE NUMBER ONE KILLER IN THE WORLD.

Why is cardiovascular disease so rampant? Well I believe a large part of it has to do with the inflammatory nature of the standard western diet, and both epidemiological studies and clinical studies can substantiate this belief.  This is where we can really push the “paleo”/ evolutionary view on nutrition.

Quick recap, Omega-6 EFA’s are generally pro-inflammatory while Omega-3 EFA’s are generally anti-inflammatory in nature.  The standard Western Diet has a Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio of anywhere from 10:1 to upwards of 25:1, where our Paleolithic ancestors had a diet that was closer to 1:1. . . . Do you see the stark differences?

The average American consumes a diet that promotes an inflammatory state 10-25 times great than an anti-inflammatory state. Holy COW, no wonder we all drop dead of diseases linked to inflammation. Why is the Omega-6: Omega-3 ratio so out of control?  Here is a list of foods high in Omega 6 and Omega 3 and you can see what we eat a lot of and what we eat a little of.

Omega 6 Omega 3

Corn   oil


Safflower   Oil

Soybean   Oil



Sunflower   Seeds


Marine   Algae




Grass-fed   meat

Flax   Seed

Are you beginning to see why the whole “Fish Oil” movement has taken hold in the past decade? Fish oil supplements are high in Omega-3 and virtually void of any omega-6, which helps us balance out the Omega-3:Omega 6 ratio. I am not generally a big supplementation person, but in light of these facts and the state of the western diet, I definitely suggest people take fish oil supplements high in DHA and EPA. In fact, there have been a number of clinical trials assessing the benefits of dietary supplementation with fish oils in several inflammatory and autoimmune diseases in humans, including rheumatoid arthritis3.

Think about how much you just learned in about 10 minutes of dedicated reading!  Thanks for tuning in this week, I am excited about the next post where we tackle another amazing fat, CHOLESTEROL!  I am also going to come back to the EFA’s and explain why EPA and DHA are so essential and why just eating ALA (remember the basic precursor to EPA and DHA) doesn’t quite cut it.


1) Gropper, S. S., Smith, J. L., & Groff, J. L. (2005). Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.

2. Chiang, Y., Haddad, E., Rajaram, S., Shavlik, D., & Sabate, J. (2012). The effect of dietary walnuts compared to fatty fish on eicosanoids, cytokines, soluble endothelial adhesion molecules and lymphocyte subsets: a randomized, controlled crossover trial. Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids , 87, 111-117.

3) Simopoulos, A. (2002). Omega-3 fatty acids in inflammation and autoimmune diseases. Journal of the American College of Nutrition , 21 (6), 495-505.

BIO – Brad is a Ph.D. student at the University of Idaho in Exercise Science. He received his M.S. degree in biomechanics from the University of Idaho and is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He has experience as a nutrition and fitness consultant, a collegiate strength coach, and a trauma representative in the orthopedic industry. Outside of school research, his research interests are in developing a better understanding of the nutrition, health, and performance axis and real world application of that knowledge.


Get Your Glutes to Salute! 6 Perfect Tips

By Chris Martinez CISSN and Eric Martinez CISSN.   Attention ladies and gentleman! You say you want a nice butt; you want people’s jaws to drop when they see you walk by, and you talk about how you’re going to get your butt in great shape. Well here’s your opportunity to get that booty that you’ve always desired. When you’re in the gym, have these tips on a note pad, journal, I Pod, smart phone, on your training partners butt, or better yet have them ingrained in your head. Here are 6 tips that will get your glutes to salute! Guys put your egos aside and read on, if you only knew how important it is for men to have strong glutes.  Check out this kick-a$$ glute workout!

#1 Activate your glutes properly!

It’s imperative that we take 15-20 minutes to properly warm our bodies up and activate our glute muscles, remember they are the steering wheel to your lower body and they deserve to be activated. Keeping this muscle healthy, strong, active, and full ROM (range of motion) is key for a successful training protocol overall, not just for your lower body, but for your upper body and for the long run most importantly. With the sedentary lifestyles these days, most people never activate their glute muscles; therefore this beautiful muscle is never used. We recommend doing “Monster walks” or “Sumo walks” exercises prior to resistance training. These exercises involve walking in semi-squat postures with resistance bands placed on the forefeet in order to involve the gluteal muscles and the tensor fascia latae (TFL). We promise you these will burn and fire up those booty muscles!


Take home message: Activate your glutes properly before resistance training to fully engage all of the glute muscles.

#2 You want a firm butt, hit some damn weight then!

If you are one of those people that believe in traditional bodyweight circuits being able to shape the glutes sufficiently, then you probably need to go ask the Kardashian girls for some glute advice. Beginners are probably the only people that can get away with body weight circuits because their glutes get a great stimulation from not being used to any type of muscular adaption in that region. As you get experienced, your body becomes more advanced, this is where you need to overload the glutes with weights in order to stimulate muscle growth. As you progress, add in more challenging exercises that include using weights so you increase strength, get that full muscle stimulation, and growth in the glute muscles.

Take home message: You need to overload the glutes to get them to grow folks. Body weight or magazine workouts aren’t gonna cut it.  

#3 Get your booty under a bar and thrust!

Enter the highly underrated, but extremely effective barbell hip thrust. The barbell hip thrust was invented by Bret Contreras, aka “the glute guy.” He said “When the knees stay bent, the hamstrings are placed in “active insufficiency,” which means that they’re shortened and cannot contract with maximal force. Since the hamstrings can’t produce sufficient force, more work is placed upon the glutes to get the job done. This is why bent legged hip extension exercises such as bridge patterns work so well in hammering the glutes.” So, allowing your knees to stay bent, this leaves less of a tendency for your hamstrings to activate and take over the workout. This evidently leads to your glutes firing and getting more stimulation. When placing a barbell with weight under your belly button and thrusting up in the bridge position, this leads to a great workout by overloading the glutes with weight and targeting the gluteus maximus.

Take home message: If you want to isolate the glutes without any hip or quad involvement then get under a bar and thrust!

#4 Squat deep or go home!

Uh Ohhh…Squat deep or go home time! Research shows that adding resistance to a body weight squat only stimulates the glutes to around 30-40% MVC (maximum voluntary contraction). Okay… but exactly how much resistance, what kind of volume, reps, frequency, and squatting technique are we talking here? Our point is, this research was most likely done on an average Joe or untrained subject and they probably squatted quarter squat style, where they basically stimulate nothing but the quad muscles. However, if you squat deep, past parallel, you will get much more MVC stimulation in the gluteus muscles and hamstring muscles. Not to mention full range of motion squats puts more TUT (Time under tension) on the Gluteus Maximus muscle as well (1). “The three primary components essential for muscle development are mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and muscle damage,” states Brad Schoenfeld.

Take home message: If you aren’t buying any of this, just try a normal text book squat first or famous quarter squat, then a deep squat and then get back to us on which technique stimulated your glutes more.

#5 Don’t be afraid to train those buns more than once a week.

The gluteus maximus is an incredible muscle. It could and should be trained heavily on multiple days of the week. For optimal results, should be trained at least 2-3 days of the week. Why you ask? Research shows that glutes are not highly active during daily tasks such as walking, walking up the stairs, or getting up from a chair, maybe 10-15% glute activation at most. It’s because your hamstrings are over stimulating your gluteus maximus. Also, after a bout of resistance training, protein synthesis in skeletal muscle remains elevated for 48-72 hours. If the muscle is only trained once per week, then it will only be making new muscle tissue for 2-3 days post exercise. The rest of the week (4-5 days) it will be just sitting there, not growing. You might as well hit it again and maintain the growth response!  So, this leaves the door wide open for you to train your glutes frequently. You must keep in mind that a lot of the frequency depends on how bad your glutes are lagging. If you have a Vida Guerra butt, then 1-2 days of glute training should maintain it. If you have a Megan Fox butt (flat), then 3 to 4 days of glute training should be sufficient. If you’re in the middle of that, then 2-3 days of glute training should do it. Adjust accordingly to your booty.

Take home message: Don’t be afraid to train your glutes more than once a week, see how your booty responds to more frequency.

#6 How many reps to get that booty to pop you ask?

A couple of studies showed that the glutes are more slower twitch, than fast twitch: (2) gluteus maximus 68% slow, 32% fast and (3) gluteus maximus 52% slow, 48% fast. For this reason, lighter loads and body weight workouts may be of benefit when shaping the glutes. But, keep in mind that there are still fast twitch muscle fibers in the glutes and fast twitch muscle fibers have proven to be the most amenable to gains in size and strength. So, it’s important to overload the glutes with heavier weight and lower reps to activate all the gluteus maximus fibers.

Moreover, research by Goto et al. Shows that combinations of high and low intensity regimens are effective for optimizing the strength adaptation of muscle in a periodized training program (4). So, you must not leave out higher reps either because higher reps will really fire up the glutes, deplete glycogen, and give you that pump. So, it’s important to include all rep ranges when training your glutes. Anywhere from 4-6 reps, 8-12 reps, 15-25 reps, and sometimes 30-50 reps, so you can activate all your gluteus maximus fibers.

Take home message: See what rep range ultimately works for you. Just because a book or study says to do lower or higher reps, doesn’t mean you have to stick to that. Everyone’s body is different and reacts differently to certain rep ranges. So try all rep ranges and see what works best for your booty.

Now that you have these 6 tips to get your glutes to salute mastered down, keep in mind that these are tips and methods that we practice and preach when it comes to glute training with us and clients. There are other great tips, methods, and approaches out there on training glutes and from other coaches. But, we feel that these 6 tips can really be a game changer, in this context, a real booty changer for you! Just remember that to always keep an open mind to training your glutes and to not get stagnant with one method or style of training because there could be some sort of training out there that could bring jaw dropping results to your behind! Last but not least, guys, really take these tips into consideration because strong glutes can have a carryover effect on deadlifts, squats, sprinting, jumping, posture, etc. Oh and by the way, women don’t want a guy with a flat butt!


(1)              Burd et al. Muscle time under tension during resistance exercise stimulates differential muscle protein sub-fractional synthetic responses in men. J Physiology. 2012

(2)              Sirca and Susec-Michieli. Selective type II fibre muscular atrophy in patients with osteoarthritis of the hip. J Neurol Sci. 1980 Jan.

(3)              Johnson et al. 1973

(4)              Goto et al. Muscular adaptions to combinations of high and low intensity resistance exercises. J Strength Conditioning. 2004