Soccer Conditioning Plan

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Soccer Conditioning Plan

Let’s face it, most people workout to get a better body. But with this plan, you can not only build the body of a soccer player, but get the conditioning of a soccer player to go along with it.

And for ectomorphs (hardgainer types) like me, the athletic body of a soccer player is more realistic than building the body of a linebacker. And hey, soccer players get some pretty good recognition for their bodies, too.

OK, back to some theory, before we get into the program.

Before you can even begin to decide how to train for a sport, you need to know what the physical (metabolic) requirements are. This is called the principle of specificity. Here are some numbers for you:

A soccer player, in any given 90 minute game will approximately:

Walk for 26% of the game, or about 2600 meters
Jog 49%, or 4900 meters
Cruise 17%, 1700 meters
Sprint 8%, 800 meters
and have the ball for less than 2%, 180 meters.

In other words, a soccer player travels about 10k in one game!

This gives you an idea how much you should be focusing on each component. You should be training for aerobic endurance about 75% of the time, and anaerobically only about 25%. This also gives you an idea on how to structure your training with respect to interval times and distance.

That doesn’t mean that 75% of your workouts need to be aerobically based, but 75% of the volume of the workouts should be.

Based on the analysis, here is the breakdown of training. Keep in mind this may or may not be for you depending on your age, training history, injury history, level of play, and many other variables.

Aerobic Training:
80-90% HR Max, 6-30min per rep, 1-8 reps with no more than 1 min rest. (rest should be a walk — you would never stand still in a game)

Lactate Threshold Training (Anaerobic Lactic):
>85% HR Max, 3-6 minutes per rep, 4-8 Reps with a 1:0.5 to 1:1 work to rest ratio. In other words if you were to perform a rep that lasted 3 minutes, your rest would be anywhere from 1.5 min to 3 minutes.

Anaerobic Training:
>90% HR Max, 20sec – 3 min per rep, 2-4 sets of 4-8 reps with a 1:4 work to rest ratio.

If you want to do the math on the volume for each, it closely resembles the portion of aerobic to anaerobic needs.

I would prescribe each type of workout on its own day, along with two strength training sessions per week. I would also have my athletes perform speed, agility and quickness work on strength days, or before the anaerobic training day.

So early in the off-season a training week might look something like this:

Monday – Anaerobic Focus

  1. Sprint 30 sec, Rest (walk) 90 sec, 4 times
  2. Rest 3 minutes
  3. Sprint 30 sec, Rest (walk) 90 sec, 4 times

Tuesday – Strength Workout

Wednesday – Aerobic Focus

  1. Jog 8-10 min, walk 1 min, 3-4 times

Thursday – Strength Workout

Friday – Anaerobic Lactic Focus

This workout is done on Fridays, because it’s the most taxing.  This will give you 2 days rest before getting back to it.

  1. 3 min cruise (almost a sprint, and you should not be able to go for much longer than the 3 min), rest (walk) 90 sec, 4 times

The overall plan would of course include mobility work, flexibility, speed drills, plyometrics, agility and quickness drills, as well as warm ups, cool downs and so on.

The great thing about this plan is that it develops all three energy systems, without the focus on just “cardio” or “HIIT”. It’s a much more rounded way to develop performance, fitness, and a lean body.

Image courtesy of bplanet /

The Power Clean – Benefits, Limitations, Progression and Alternatives

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Power CleanThe power clean is, without question, the most difficult lift in the AW Training Program. The lift is in the program because of the significant benefits the power clean will give an athlete. But many athletes don’t know how to correctly power clean and many guys are even intimidated by the lift. So today, I’ll talk about some of the benefits of the power clean and some concerns with the lift. We’ll also talk about a proper power clean progression and some power clean substitutes. That way, if you still don’t feel comfortable doing the lift, or don’t have access to a qualified professional to teach you the lift, you can at least get some of the same benefits.

Power Clean Benefits

Probably the biggest benefit of the power clean is that it is truly a full-body exercise. It involves the “triple-extension” of the hips, knees, and ankles, that simulates many sport and real-life movements. It develops full-body explosive power and force production. The power clean is ground-based, multi-joint, and multi-planar, which increases efficiency with many movement patterns. It works on the complete “posterior-chain”, and includes both upper-body and lower-body movements.

Limitations of The Power Clean

The biggest reason people shy away from the power clean is that it is so technique dependant. Because it’s so technical, it can take a while to master the lift, and incorrect technique can lead to injury, more so than many other lifts. It’s also best to do power cleans on a proper lifting platform, with Olympic bumper plates, and most gyms don’t have these.

Some strength coaches feel that teaching the lift is a waste of time, because it usually takes so long for athletes to master. While I agree the progression can take a period of time, once an athlete “gets it” it’s well worth their while, as the benefits are so great.

Basic Progression and Alternatives for the Power Clean

In order to learn the power clean, athletes move through a basic progression of exercises, before performing a full power clean. You’ll need to be able to hold the bar on your chest with a clean grip – this will require decent wrist mobility. Then, master each of these lifts in order to progress to the power clean:

  • Deadlift
  • Front Squat (with the clean grip)
  • Hang Jump Shrug
  • Power Jump Shrug
  • Hang High Pull
  • Power High Pull
  • Hang Clean
  • Power Clean

So you can see, it can take a while to move through each of these lifts. Because with the AW Training Program, you already do front squats and deadlifts, as you learn the lift, when the program calls for power cleans, begin with hang jump shrugs, and progress from there.

As far as alternatives, you could use plyometric exercises, but plyos do not give anywhere near the benefit of power cleans. So I suggest using any of the progression lifts in place of power cleans, but realize they won’t give you the same benefits.


Lastly, here are some key points to watch for and are the most common problems I see with power cleans.

  • In the ready position, athletes can stand with their feet too wide, and have too loose a grip on the bar. As they get ready to lift, they can keep their shoulder behind the bar, rather than over it, and they keep their elbows turned in instead of out.
  • You’ll see athletes not perform a proper triple extension and “lift with the back” and pull with the arms letting the bar get too far away from the body rather than shrug the bar.
  • Finally, they have difficulty catching the bar because their elbows are too low, and they don’t get low enough into the front squat position to catch the bar as well.

So keep practising. It’s a great lift, fun as hell to do, and will give you many benefits.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

Interval Training Workouts

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Interval Training Workouts

Interval training workouts have been proven to be a fast, effective way to lose fat. And if you have fat to lose, you need to be incorporating some kind of interval training into your program. High-intensity interval training can provide numerous health benefits, too.

If you have signed up to get the AW Training Manual, you’ve no doubt noticed that I’ve only included strength workouts. So today, I’m going to talk about what interval training is, the benefits of interval training, and finally I’ll recommend to you one of the most innovative and unique interval training workouts I’ve ever come across, and how you can integrate it with the AW Training Manual.

What Are Interval Training Workouts?

Simply put, interval training workouts alternate high-intensity work periods and low-intensity active rest periods that are then repeated to complete the workout.

You can use any mode of traditional “cardio” exercise to complete your interval workouts such as running, biking, swimming, and the elliptical.  But to get even more benefit, as you’ll discover, you should incorporate some kind of resistance to your intervals like kettlebells, and bodyweight exercises.

Research On Interval Training Workouts

There are plenty of studies on the benefits of interval training.  Here’s just a few:

  • Just 2 and a half hours worth of high-intensity interval training provides similar aerobic endurance benefits as 10 and a half hours of traditional aerobic training. (Tabata I, Nishimura K, Kouzaki M, et al. (1996). “Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max”. Med Sci Sports Exerc 28 (10): 1327–30.)
  • High-intensity interval training may improve VO2 Max (maximal oxygen consumption) more effectively than traditional, long slow cardio. (Helgerud J, Høydal K, Wang E, et al. (2007). “Aerobic high-intensity intervals improve VO2max more than moderate training”. Med Sci Sports Exerc 39 (4): 665–71.)
  • High-intensity interval training burns fat more effectively than longer, moderate intensity training. (Tremblay A, Simoneau JA, Bouchard C (1994). “Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism”. Metab. Clin. Exp. 43 (7): 814–8. )
  • HIIT has also been shown to lower insulin resistance (Boutcher SH (2011). “High-intensity intermittent exercise and fat loss”. J Obes 2011: 868305. )

Along with the above study, others suggest that HIIT can help with the prevention of Type II diabetes

With all of these health, fitness and performance benefits, you need to include some form of interval training into your program.

Interval Training Myths

Despite all of the positive benefits HIIT can provide, there is some misinformation out there about high-intensity interval training.

Most people are led to believe that traditional interval training (on the bike, treadmill, running outside, etc.) causes a significant increase in resting metabolic rate after exercise due to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), a phenomenon known commonly as the “Afterburn” effect.  But I’ve only come across one study (a thesis at that), that claims this (if anyone can prove otherwise, please let me know).

Only high-intensity resistance training provides the much-hyped afterburn. This is why you get all the  MRT (Metabolic Resistance Training) workouts have become so popular as of late.  MRT workouts have you work at a high intesity with resistance and include controlled rest periods to keep you from recovering completely.

MRT really is just intervals with resistance.

So how do we get all of the benefits of high-intensity interval training, AND get the added results of the “Afterburn”?

31 Interval Workouts

One of the most creative sets of interval workouts I’ve come across is Craig Ballantyne’s 31 Interval Workouts. And that’s exactly what you get – 31 unique, effective, challenging yet fun interval training workouts that not only provide the benefits of interval training, but also give you the afterburn to keep you burning fat all day.

No more boring run fast, run slow workouts (that I’ve certainly been known to prescribe to my athletes, probably the biggest reason I’m recommending this program to you).

Click Here To Get 31 Interval Training Workouts Now

And these workouts are easy to integrate with the free AW Training manual.  Simply pick the interval workout you want to do, and complete it after a strength session or on an off day, up to 3 days per week (just make sure you take one complete day off of training each week).

Craig’s dedicated the last decade to helping people lose fat, and he’s an interval training expert, so I always trust his stuff when it comes to workouts to help you shed extra flab.

When most people think of interval workouts, they think you need a treadmill or bike, but that can’t be further from the truth. I really like 31 Interval Workouts because there’s no need to buy any of that expensive equipment or sign up for a gym membership (and the outrageous cost that goes along with it).

In the 31 Interval Training Workouts manual, you’ll discover how to do intervals with kettlebells, hill sprints, and even bodyweight exercises (including a NEW bodyweight cardio 5×5 circuit). This gives you all you need to get more results in less time and give you enough resistance to get the afterburn that takes your fat loss to the next level.

Click Here To Get 31 Interval Training Workouts Now

Don’t wait, complete your free AW Training Program with the 31 Interval Workouts manual today and get your free copy of AW Component Training for acting now.

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NOTE: Image courtesy of hin225 /

How To Gain Strength Faster and Stay Motivated

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Most training programs will keep the variables set for a period of 4 weeks. This means the sets, reps and exercise selection will stay the same for a month. There is nothing wrong with this and this style of training is backed by a lot of research. In fact, most of my programs are designed this way. It follows a more traditional linear periodization.

But for a lot of people, following the same workouts for 4 weeks creates some boredom, and they need changes in their workouts more frequently – it keeps the motivation level high. Some trainers will continually changes exercises, or create crazy looking exercises just to be different, or worse, not have any plan at all.

Other well-known strength coaches will use a non-linear or undulated style of periodization where the training variables change each workout so they hit a hypertrophy (increase in lean mass), strength and power style workout every week.

I’m a pretty conservative guy, and my philosophy is to stick with very basic, compound exercises that work a lot of muscle fibers, and get very good at the technique in those lifts. Better technique allows you to lift more weight, leading to more strength, power, and muscle. I kind of look at it as “exercise specialization”. Any professional that is well-known and makes a lot of money is a specialist, not a generalist. They pick one thing and become very good at it. So my repertoire of exercises is relatively small compared to many other coaches and trainers. (Not that I’m against it, or that I won’t add exercises when necessary, just my view).

As far as a typical undulated periodization, I like to keep my workouts short and split movement patterns up between two or three alternating workouts. In order to make sure all movements were hit each workout, would make the workouts longer than I would want. It’s not impossible to do, but that’s for another post.

So my solution is to change the variables every week, or every two weeks. An example program that follows this is my Ultimate Strength Training Manual. With typical monthly cycles, a sample plan and it’s phases might look like this (with sample sets and reps in brackets):

Month 1: Adaptation (2-3×12)

Month 2: Hypertrophy (3×8)

Month 3: Strength (3×6)

Month 4: Power (3×4)


By changing the variable each week, it becomes this:

Week 1: Adaptation (2-3×12)

Week 2: Hypertrophy (3×8)

Week 3: Strength (3×6)

Week 4: Power (3×4)


Having an Adaptation week every month acts somewhat as an unloading week, keeping you fresh and recharged, ready to hit new goals.

Further, following a plan like this allows you to look forward to a new phase every week, and you can set personal bests in each phase every month, rather than every four months. (You should always compare PBs to a similar phase, set and rep scheme). This way, boredom is less likely to set in, and setting PBs more often helps keep you motivated. Nothing is more motivating than seeing success and results.

Dynamic Warm Up

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When it comes to warming up, many people still rely on the outdated 5-10 minute warm up on the treadmill and then go straight into their workout.

While this was generally accepted as the best way to warm up for a very long time, it’s been discovered that a more specific, dynamic style warm up serves the purpose much better.

That said, I still like my athletes to do a quick general warm up on the treadmill, bike, skipping, jogging, etc., but only for about 3 minutes.  The biggest reason is for most people, it’s a psychological thing.  Once they’re doing they’re general warm up, they know they’re in workout mode.  Also, I think it’s a good way to slowly transition your body from rest to exercise.  It raises your core temperature, lubes up the joints, and increases heart rate.

Once the general warm up is complete, we’ll move into a more specific warm up, depending on whether it’s a conditioning session or strength training session.

So here’s what I usually prescribe to my athletes before their conditioning:

  1. High Knees, or High Knee Skips (for the glutes and hamstrings)
  2. Butt Kickers (for the quads)
  3. Lateral Step Unders and Overs (mobility)
  4. Reverse Lunges with a Twist (hips and core)
  5. Inchworms (posterior chain and shoulder stabilization)

Do these exercises circuit style 2 to 3 times, then you’re ready to go.

For a resistance workout I use a few bodyweight exercises more specific to the movements of lifting:

  1. Bodyweight Squats (lower body)
  2. Lateral Step Unders and Overs (mobility)
  3. Push Ups (push muscles)
  4. Inverted Rows (pull muscles)

Again, do this circuit style 2 to 3 times, about 10 reps for each exercise.

OK, you’re warmed up now — so go do it!

Joint Mobility – The Plan

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Admittedly, joint mobility exercises are not terribly exciting, and it can seem at times like it’s doing nothing for you. But be patient, just do the exercises, and you’ll find yourself feeling “freer”, you’ll be able to lift more weight, because your technique will improve with improved joint mobility.

You will want to work on ankle, hip, thoracic spine, and shoulder mobility. If you notice, each joint from the ground up alternates between mobility and stability:

  • Ankle – Mobility
  • Knee – Stability
  • Hip – Mobility
  • Lumbar Spine – Stability
  • Thoracic Spine – Mobility
  • Shoulder – Stability and Mobility (I might talk about this another time, but we’ll focus on the mobility part today)

Anyone that has experienced low back pain is probably because of poor hip mobility. The lumbar spine has to compensate. Knee pain can be caused by poor ankle mobility. Many people find that once they begin a joint mobility program, their pains go away.

So, from the ground up here’s a list of mobility exercises that can get you started (One of these days, I’ll get some video up for these posts):

Ankle – Ankle Rockers – Stand with your knees slightly bent and toes on a step no more than a couple of inches. Rock back and forth taking the ankle through it’s whole range of motion.

Hip – Unders and Overs – Imagine you have a bar just above waist height and duck under the bar to come up on the other side, and repeat the other way. After a set of unders, picture the same bar lower, then step over the bar to get to the other side, and repeat the other way.

T-Spine – Prisoner Twist and Bend – Place your hands behind your head like a prisoner, and keeping your hips and lumbar spine stable rotate to one side as far as possible, then, in this position, bend to the side you twisted to. Rotate to the other side and perform the same motion.

Shoulder – Wall Slides or Stick-Ups – Stand with your feet 6 inches away from the wall with your hips and shoulders planted against the wall. Raise your arms so your elbows are at 90 degrees and your forearms are perpendicular to the floor (like you are doing “stick ’em up”). Keeping your elbows, shoulders and hips against the wall and your forearms perpendicular to the floor, raise your arms up as far as they can go and then lower them as far as they can go.

When you perform these exercises, remember they are not static stretches, move through the range of motion dynamically, but under control.

You can do these before your workouts as part of your warm-up. Start by doing these for 15-30 seconds each and progress from there.

Training Intensity

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Training IntensityAthletes and coaches need to realize there are two types of training intensity: Load-Based Training Intensity and Effort-Based Training Intensity.

Load-Based Training Intensity is based as a percentage of your maximum ability and is usually associated with strength training.

Effort-Based Training Intensity is a less definite measure of intensity and is based on the perceived effort of an activity. This measurement of intensity is usually matched with conditioning activities.

They both have their place, and in fact, can and should be used simultaneously.  If you’ve ever walked into the gym and have had those days when even a relatively light weight felt heavy (high effort intensity with moderate load intensity), you’ll know what I mean.

Load-Based Training Intensity

Load-based training intensity is most associated with strength training, but can also be used with conditioning style activities.  A simple definition is how heavy the load is you are lifting, relative to your 1RM (1 Repetition Maximum).  As such, the intensity of a particular lift will be expressed as a percentage of your 1RM.

An example in a conditioning setting would be working at a particular percentage intensity of your max heart rate.

Here’s the basic rule for load-based training intensity for strength training, depending on your goal:

Hypertrophy (muscle gain) – At least 70% 1RM
Strength – At least 80% 1RM
Power – At least 90% 1RM

In the programs you see here on Athletic Workouts, each lift has a designated training intensity.  They are listed either as a percentage of your 1RM, or as somthing like 8RM.  This would mean that you select a load you can lift for 8 repetitions. I sometimes list it this way, but call for 6 reps in a set, meaning you should be able to complete 2 more reps at the end of the set with the load you selected.  This is useful for de-load weeks and active rest weeks.

If you want to determine your 1RM, I prefer finding an estimated 1RM for most people.  Lifting at your max can be dangerous, and having an estimated 1RM is more than practical for most guys purposes.

In the AW Training Manual, I have lifters find their estimated 1RM based on a 5RM lift.  This is the most weight you can lift for 5 reps.

1. For beginners, start with an empty bar and perform 5 reps.  Rest at least 1 minute.  With lower weights, you can rest for a shorter amount of time and as the weight progresses, increase your rest time, even up to 5 minutes.

2. If you were able to perform 5 reps with good technique, proceed to the next step.

3. Add 5-10 lbs to the bar for upper body exercises and 10-20 lbs to the bar for lower body exercises, and repeat steps 2 and 3 until you cannot complete a full 5 rep set.

Of course, as the weight get heavier and closer to your 5RM, you may want to increase the weight more conservatively.

To calculate your estimated 1RM, take the highest weight you lifted for 5 reps and multiply by 1.12.  for example, if you lifted 150 lbs 5 times on the bench press, you can estimate your 1RM by multiplying 150 by 1.12 which equals 168.

This is much safer than attempting a true 1RM.  If you miss the lift, you usually stop at 3 or 4 reps (and can even calculate your estimated 1RM from that result), as opposed to failing with a weight you can’t lift at all.  Most of the guys here lift on their own, so this is the safest, most accurate way to find an estimated 1RM.

A lot of coaches argue against using percentages of 1RMs in their training programs, they feel it’s too rigid.  I use training percentages to ensure my athletes are working at a proper intensity, and are progressively overloading at proper, regular intervals. But I’m not foolish enough to believe that everyday in the gym will be easy, and not every lifter will be feeling 100%.  I use percentages more as suggestion and tracking, and realize that intensity sometimes needs to be scaled back for longer term gains.

Effort-Based Training Intensity

I used to judge intensity in conditioning activities based purely on an athletes MHR (Max Heart Rate).  But seeing as the most widely used MHR calculations are far from exact, I began implementing more of an effort-based intensity system.

I still use MHR calculations from time to time, mostly to measure recovery time during intervals (In this instance, the next work period in an interval session would begin once an athletes HR reached a specific recovery level).

There are various ways to measure effort, but I like to keep things simple and keep it out of ten.

For example, a 1/10 would be laying on the couch watching football, a 10/10 would be running for your life.  High intensity intervals would occur at anything above an 8/10.  The only drawback with this arbitrary method, is sometimes athletes work at a lower intensity than they should be.

Of course then, duration of the activity related to overall intensity of effort.  Running at a 10/10 for 2 seconds and running at a 10/10 for 10 seconds are different intensities as well.  Without a doubt, it can get complicated.

Putting Them Together

Let’s understand that different manipulations of how drills and exercises are performed results in different kinds of intensities. Both a 1RM squat (max load/max effort) and 100 bodyweight squats (min load/max effort) are both intense, but in different ways.

Properly manipulating both load and effort intensities  in a training program relate directly to the training principles of overload and specificity, leading to effective training.

Image courtesy of digitalart /

Exercise Specialization

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Exercise SpecializationExercise Specialization is a term I’ve come up with to describe the fact that beginners need to focus on a specific group of exercises and forget about any others.

What is Exercise Specialization?

Exercise Specialization means you specialize in certain exercises until you have mastered the technique of these exercises, without using any others.  It’s also important to note, that in the the AW Training Manual, I’ve selected only the most effective exercises for beginners to improve strength and size.

Proper technique, developed by focusing on only certain exercises, allows the athlete to lift more weight.  More weight means more strength, and more strength means more size.

This also allows the beginner to see quicker results (and in less time), meaning they’re more likely to stick with a fitness plan.

By using Exercise Specialization, the lifter doesn’t need to worry about learning a whole bunch of different exercises, wasting time and effort in the gym.

Get good at the most basic and beneficial of exercises first and then begin to add other exercises to your program.

There are plenty of other variables that can be manipulated in a training program that will lead to variety and results.

Exercise Specialization in the AW Training Manual

Here are the exercises featured in the AW Training Manual:

Bilateral Compound Movements

  • Power Clean (A very difficult lift to master, but beginners are recommended to begin with squat jumps and progress to a power clean.  This is really the only exercise where there is some room for judgement based on training experience.)
  • Squat
  • Bench Press
  • Deadlift
  • Overhead (Push) Press
  • Pullups/Chinups

Unilateral Compound Movements

  • 1-Arm Dumbbell Snatch
  • DB Stepup
  • DB Incline Press
  • DB Rear-Foot Elevated Squat
  • DB 1-Arm Shoulder Press
  • DB Rows (Can be chest supported)

That’s it.  Those are the only exercises included in the AW Training Manual.

To ensure variety and proper periodization, we manipulate other variables like load, volume (sets and reps) rest time, and rep speed.

Again, the idea with exercise specialization is to let the lifter practice and develop good technique in the most essential of lifts.

Better technique allows an athlete to lift more developing more strength.  More strength leads to more muscle (lean mass) and more lean mass helps burn more fat.

There’s no need for complicated programs.  Simple is better, especially for beginners.  Simple is easier to stick to, especially for beginners.

By using exercise specialization, strength gains will come quicker and that means a beginner will be more likely to stick with the plan.

Granted, at some point you’ll need to introduce other exercises into your training program.  I certainly don’t recommend exercise specialization for more advanced athletes.  They need the exercise variety of stimulus to achieve smaller gains.

Keeping exercises the same leads to familiarity in a beginner, and keeps from overwhelming them.  In this day and age of information everything, keeping things simple is the way to go.

So, if you’re a beginner, or have been away from the gym for a while, give the AW Training Manual a try for 8 weeks.  I promise you’ll see results.

And you’ve got nothing to lose anyway, the program is completely free.  Just sign up below to download the program today.

Note: Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

Diet and Training Tips: How To Get Started And Succeed

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Diet And Training TipsA little while back, I posted “six-and-a-half” nutrition and diet guidelines to follow for better health and performance.

For some people, this still may be difficult to get used to in a short amount of time.  So here’s my suggestion to you:  Incorporate one guideline at a time.  Don’t even think about following another one until you are achieving that single diet guideline 90% of the time.  Only then should you consider implementing a second.

While diet is crucial to your success, I suggest the first change you make is to strength train.  Make a commitment to train 3 times per week – no matter what.  Build that habit for one month.  Only then should you begin to make other lifestyle changes.  I find that once you get into the habit of training, and see some success, other changes become easier because you are more motivated.

Now, some of you may be more ambitious and will make changes quickly and with relative ease.  But for most of us, too much change too quick, will only lead to failure.

Speaking of failure, inevitably, sooner or later you will fall of the rails with either your training or diet.  When this happens, don’t let it be an excuse to quit.  Believe me, I’ve thought the same thing – “Well, I blew it yesterday, so why bother trying today” – or something like that.  Cut your losses, so to speak, and get back on the wagon.

It’s consistency that leads to success, but consistency doesn’t have to be 100% of the time.  Even 90% will yield great results.

Don’t feel like you need to make a million changes all at once.  Focus on one change at a time until it becomes habit, then move to the next challenge.  Choose to become the person you want to be, and take it one step at a time.

Note: Image courtesy of imagerymajestic /

How To Progress To A Full Pull Up

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I’m asked all the time what people can do in place of the pull ups and chin ups if they can’t do full pulls or chins. Especially if they call for multiple reps.

Here’s what I suggest in progressive order:

Inverted Rows

For absolute beginners, inverted rows are a good place to start.  Depending on your fitness level, you may even find it difficult to do a pull up hold.  If this is you, start here.  While an inverted row doesn’t work in the same movement plane a pull up, it will serve as a good substitute and begin strengthening the muscles used to do a pull up.

For an inverted row, lay face up on the floor underneath a pull up bar a few feet off the ground.  Reach up and grab the bar, keeping your feet on the ground.  Pull your chest up to the bar and return to the starting position.  To make the move easier, bend your knees to bring your feet closer to the bar.

Pull Up/Chin Up Holds (Isometric Pulls/Chins)

Using a bench, plyo box or chair for support and position yourself at the top of the movement with your chin above the bar. Remove your feet from the support, and simply hold yourself in this position for as long as possible. Try for as many seconds as reps. If the exercise calls for 6 reps, hold for 6 seconds.

Drop Pull Ups/Chin Ups (Eccentric Pulls/Chins)

When you can hold yourself for as many seconds as reps are called for in your exercise, try doing Drop Pull Ups. You’ll position yourself above the bar again, using a support, but instead of holding that position, you will let yourself perform the negative or eccentric part of the movement. Slowly drop down to the arms extended position. If the lift calls for a 2 second eccentric portion, then it should take you 2 seconds to lower yourself.

Use your support to bring yourself back up to the top of the movement and repeat as many times as possible, until you can complete the required amount of reps. So, if you can perform 2 drops, and the exercise calls for six reps, you should finish the exercise by holding the top position for 4 seconds.

Full Pull Ups/Chin Ups (Concentric/Eccentric Pull/Chins)

Once you can perform as many drop pull ups as are called for in your program, you should be able to do at least one full pull up. Again, if you are asked to do six pull ups, You might find yourself doing one full pull up, doing 3 drop pull ups, and then a pull up hold for 2 seconds.

Keep working at it. This is not an easy exercise, but one that will provide many benefits. Of course, if you have access to an assisted pull up station go for it, or use bands to help you, but many people I consult with train at home, and don’t have access to these. This is a great progression for beginners and advanced athletes alike