ROCK FOR RESCUE! – HUMANE SOCIETY CONCERT “I”D RATHER BE WITH MY DOG”

ROCK FOR RESCUE! – HUMANE SOCIETY CONCERT “I”D RATHER BE WITH MY DOG” – February 22

Also featuring performances of “I’d Rather Be With My Cat” “Take Me Home ” “If You Wanna” …..

I’m so honored and excited to announce that we’re playing a fundraiser concert for the Dakin Humane Society on Saturday, February 22nd at the Waterfront Tavern in Holyoke, MA. You can buy your tickets HERE or buy them at the door!

Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door!

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Interview With A Crossfit Coach

Interview With A Crossfit Coach

Last week I posted my thoughts on Crossfit, and in response to my post, Ryan Graveline made an insightful response to the article and it only made sense for me to feature him on my blog…..

Ryan is a successful Crossfit coach at Crossfit Southside in Jacksonville, FL.

Ryan and I actually played in middle school Jazz band together, well over 10 years ago. He’s moved beyond the trumpet and is now improving peoples lives in the fitness industry. Here is my interview with Ryan.

How did you get started with Crossfit? I know you were an athlete growing up, what led to this?

About six years ago I moved to Florida to pursue a career as a Punter in the NFL. While I was training I was introduced to CrossFit by my boss at the gym I was working at. I did a couple workouts and thought it was hard, different, and the more I read about it the more interested I became.

What fuels your passion for fitness and keeps you going?
I’ve always been active with sports or fitness from a young age and regardless whether it’s CrossFit, Sports or something else, I’d constantly have that itch to be doing something. CrossFit happens to fit a lot of the things I’m interested in fitness wise like power lifting, olympic lifting, and things I’m not so good at like basic gymnastics.
Since there is so much involved in CrossFit movements wise, there’s always something new to work on so that helps keep me motivated. Otherwise I like the competition aspect of it and whether I’m pushing to not let somebody catch up to me, or have my sights on someone whose a little ahead of my, I’m constantly pushed by the community to be better.
What is your current diet like?
Currently I eat pretty clean meaning good sources of protein, vegetables, fruits, and good sources of fat. I probably eat more fruit than I should, purely out of convenience and being lazy, but if I wanted to have better results physique wise, I know what to get rid of first.
What is your favorite exercise? 
I really enjoy the Olympic Lifts (Clean and Jerk + Snatch). They were challenging for me at first because they involve so much technique and I only knew brute strength at the time.
What is your least favorite exercise?
 
I think my least favorite thing to do it Run. There’s not a ton of running involved with CrossFit, and the running we do is relatively short. I see the value in it, and know if I improved my running I would improve a lot of other things… but I just hate it.
editors note: I also hate running, unless it’s in a sport or a short sprint, other than that…it sucks.
What are common mistakes you see people making in the gym?
 
I think the biggest mistakes people make in the gym is trying to hard. I know that’s weird to say, but almost of the movements involved in CrossFit are natural in the sense that their compound movements people do everyday (squat, press, deadlift & variations of). So even though there’s a ton of mechanics and it’s important to understand them, your body is designed to do this stuff, so instead of moving like a robot try to feel the movement out and what makes sense. We’re all different if you think of the geometry of our bodies like knee angles when you squat, hip angles when you deadlift etc. Understanding yourself and what feels right for you is sometimes something a coach can’t tell you, and it takes diligence to figure yourself out.
Any final words?
CrossFit is a great program and encompasses a lot when it comes to fitness. I think because it’s so different it’s easy to try to poke holes in it and only look for the flaws. At the end of the day you have to just level with people, regardless of their fitness perspective and just be happy they’re doing something. It’s not your job to worry about what other people are doing, only when they step into your world is it your concern, and when that happens hopefully you know how to teach them properly!
If you’re down in Jacksonville, be sure to check out Crossfit Southside and ask for Ryan Graveline.
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Tip of the Day

Tip of the Day

The number one thing you must remove from your brain is that carbohydrates are essential to the human body. They are not. In fact, biologically and chemically speaking, there is no such thing as an “essential carbohydrate.” There are essential amino acids and essential fatty acids, but none for carbs. The argument is made that the brain/body’s primary source of fuel is glucose, so you must eat carbs to get fuel. This is true, BUT, you don’t need carbs to create glucose. Your body can easily make it from amino acids and healthy insulin metabolism will be able to use fatty acids for energy. Also, if your cells are not sensitive to insulin, your body can’t even metabolize the glucose from the carbs and it will get stored as fat.

Please don’t get me wrong. There are EXTREMELY healthy foods with carbs in them, blueberries, blackberries, vegetables, sweet potatoes, etc. However, we do not NEED carbohydrates. We need protein and fat to survive. Think about that the next time someone tells you that you need carbs.

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Troubleshooting Fat Loss

Troubleshooting Fat Loss

For some people, losing fat is very difficult. And for some it’s very easy. This is an obvious statement, so the better question is, what can you do about it? Here are some tips that I’ve learned over the years. If you have any questions, you can always email me at doug@dougratner.com

1. Improve your sleep- this is often the most common setback people have. They feel as if they can function on little to no sleep, or have shitty quality sleep. There is a night and day difference in my abs if I don’t get a good nights sleep. Why? Cortisol and testosterone. Your cortisol will be raised throughout the day, in turn raising your insulin levels and lowering your testosterone. It’s a bad cycle. Plus your body repairs itself while you sleep and you can’t recover otherwise. Simply getting 7-9 hours a night of restful and restorative sleep will GREATLY improve your fat loss results. Read this article on SLEEP for tips.

2. Heal your gut– another one of my biggest issues and an over looked element of fat loss. If your gut is not functioning well, your cortisol will go up. This is bad news for your abs. Take a high quality probiotic, eat a lot of fiber, and don’t stress. Stress impairs gut function and will lower the HCL in your stomach lining.

3. Improve digestion– bloating, burping, farting, etc. all of these things may seem normal and part of every day life, but they aren’t. It’s a sign that something isn’t right and you’re not breaking down your food or absorbing it. I highly advise taking Betain HCL to improve your digestion.

4. Remove Food Allergies- if every time you drink milk it gives you gas, why do you continue to drink it? Food allergies/intolerances are not a laughing a matter. They can manifest themselves as weight gain, digestional discomfort, acne, achey joints, brain fog. But in terms of fat loss and seeing your six pack, I strongly advise you get a RAST test done, which tests for IGG and IGE antibodies in your blood after eating certain foods.

5. You’re eating too many carbs- are you sneaking in a banana at lunch? Throwing in milk to your coffee? I know you may not think these carbs/sugar add up because they aren’t a lot of calories, but that has nothing to do with it. If you’re not sensitive to insulin, eating a banana will most likely make you fat via insulin. Read this for more information ARTICLE.

6. You’re not lifting weights– lifting weights is the most ideal choice when it comes to burning fat and staying lean. Cardio is secondary, aerobics are not necessary at all. Why? The more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you will be burning at any given point. Lifting weights also increases your testosterone, improves your insulin sensitivity, and reduces cortisol and stress. If you’re doing endless aerobic work, stop it.

7. You’re not eating the right breakfast– I had a friend who told me he never had energy in the morning. I asked him what he had for breakfast and he said oatmeal. I told him to try eating only eggs and cheese for a couple of days and see what happened…lo and behold it all changed! What you eat for breakfast sets you up for the rest of the day? If you eat sugar and carbs, your insulin will sky rocket and so will seratonin, you’ll feel good for perhaps 24 minutes, and then you will crash. And that precious coffee you drink? It won’t have much of an impact because your insulin is out of control from all the sugar you ate.  Try eating steak for breakfast for the next 2 or 3 days. Watch how your entire day changes.

8. Your not eating enough protein- protein is the most thermogenic of all foods, it contains all essential amino acids, it is satiating, and filled with nutrients. Protein should make up the dominant part of your food intake 90% of the time. Whether it’s building muscle, burning fat, or maintaining, a high protein diet is key.

9. You’re always stressed– the more stressed out you are, the more cortisol you produce, thus the less sensitive you are to insulin. Remember, when you’re chronically stressed out, the last thing your body wants to do is burn fat and build muscle. In fact, it will store all the food you eat as fat because it thinks there is a famine approaching and you need to survive. Stress is bad folks. Very bad.

10. You have a vitamin/mineral deficiency- Vtamin D, Magnesium, and Zinc are the most common deficiencies. Get a RBC Magnesium test done to check your levels. Along with zinc and Vitamin D. Unless you’re living in Miami and spending every moment in the sun, you’re deficient in Vitamin D. These three are power houses and will do wonders for your health and body.

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Quick Workouts That Work

Quick Workouts That Work

Sometimes you don’t have 45-60 minutes to dedicate to the gym. Hell, sometimes you don’t even have time to make it to the gym at all. Try either of these short 15-20 min ball busting workouts that will burn fat, pump you up, and make you feel like you actually accomplished something.

*If getting to the gym is difficult, I strongly advise installing a pull up bar in your house, or buying an Iron Gym, the portable pull up bar that you can attach anywhere.

At the Gym

A1. Squat 5×10 rest 45 seconds

A2. Dip 5×6-8 rest 45 seconds

A3. Hanging Leg Raises 5×10-12 rest 45 seconds

A4. Chin Up- 5×5-8 Rest 45 seconds

Repeat this circuit 4 more times.

At Home

A1. Chin Up- 5×6-8 no rest

A2. Diamond Push Ups- 5×12-15 no rest

A3. Jump Squats- 5×12-15 no rest

A4. Hanging Leg Raises (from pull up bar) 5×10-15

Rest 90 seconds. Repeat Circuit.

Neither of these workouts will build you up a body that will impress Arnold or Ronnie Coleman, but they’re quick and will kick your butt.

Enjoy!

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Pros and Cons of Crossfit

Pros and Cons of Crossfit

I think Crossfit is one of the best things to happen to weightlifting in a long time. It has reshaped the way we look at training and a lot of crossfitters are extremely health minded individuals preaching excellent information. Where as the typical gym rat used to be perceived as the bulked up d-bag prancing around flexing in the mirror, Crossfitters are generally in incredible shape and give off the vibe that it’s okay to look ripped and shredded and be functional.

Before I begin my pro’s and con’s list, let me say that this. Though Crossfit branched off from the guy who did the training for 300, it really is a variation of Charles Poliquin’s GBC program. Charles has been writing programs along these lines for twenty plus years, way before Crossfit came about. You’ll see in my list where they differentiate and where my views lie. Now let’s begin.

Pro’s

1. Emphasize multi joint exercises– squats, dips, pull ups, cleans, etc. these are all excellent exercises that I myself perform and have been performing for almost 10 years. Nothing will pack up muscle like a squat. Screw the leg extension, try 10 sets of 10 on squats and see how your legs respond.

2. Emphasize full range of motion– Crossfitters go ass to the grass and that’s great. It’s ridiculous to walk into a gym and see someone doing quarter squats. Generally the person doing this has tiny legs and tiny calves. Experienced cross fitters know the value of full ROM.

3. Emphasize hard work– they know the value of working hard to get the results you want. And that’s a great mentality to have. You rarely see Crossfitters hangin’ out on their cell phones, dicking around and talking about taxes and girlfriends between sets.

4. Emphasize good nutrition– more importantly they emphasize whole foods, typically Paleo style eating. Any movement that preaches this kind of eating and life style gets a thumbs up in my book.

Con’s

1. Improper exercise order– this is not the case for all of their workouts, but when I see front squats, back squats, power cleans, and a sprint, repeat….this just doesn’t make sense. Yes, it’s hard, brutally hard, but it’s an injury waiting to happen. The lower back and external rotators will be spent after the front squats and power cleans, so why repeat this if you’re compromising form and risking injury. Harder isn’t always smarter. Like I mentioned with a Poliquin program, there is a rhyme and reason to his exercise order selection, one to make sure you don’t injure yourself and to maximize the right muscle development.

2. Improper addressing of injuries– this is not for all Crossfitters, so don’t start screaming at me. But it’s something I see often, an average joe walking into a crossfit facility and thrown into a brutal back squat with addressing his or her unique limitations or injuries. I was training a client over the summer and he wanted to try Crossfit. This person had never squatted in their entire life, let alone could he perform a free weight squat correctly. I told him to let me check out his form before diving in. Turns out when he squatted, he had a lower back injury that would flare up every time. We took about 10 minutes to address the issue with some of the “magic” that I’ve learned over the years. After some tweaks, the injury was gone. If he had gone into cross fit, began one of their workouts, he’d be out for months.

3. Crossfit gets you better at Crossfit- this might seem weird, read on…Crossfit is hard and will get you ripped, but you’ll most likely just get better at Crossfit. If you’re training for a sport, like hockey, football, or skiing, you will need a specified routine in order to target the muscles to excel in the sport. Every position on the field or on the ice requires detailed attention in the weight room in order to excel. Crossfit won’t help you in that regard.

Summary

Like I said, if you’re an advanced trainee, Crossfit is fun, challenging, and will kick your butt. Personally, I like split routines with are tailored to my needs. If you want to work on lagging body parts, or get brutally strong at certain lifts, Crossfit is not for you. But if you just want to have fun, challenge yourself, it’s a good choice.

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Interview With The Man

Interview With The Man

I knew Ryan was a serious weight lifter when I saw him snatch grip deadlifting 225 lbs from a deficit with super slow and strict form. You just don’t see that in average gyms and I knew right away this guy was a Poliquin fan. As it turned out, Ryan and his best friend/cousin Tyler own a private, personal training studio called Enfuse Fitness in Enfield, CT….right down the road from me! Almost 3 years later, I can honestly say that I have learned so much from Ryan, not just abut weight lifting and staying lean, but about life and outlook. Ryan is perhaps one of the most intensely relaxed human beings I’ve ever met. It’s a very interesting combination to say the least! My goal is to have a consistent interview, maybe once or twice a month where our followers can send me questions to ask Ryan about health, fitness, nutrition, etc. Without further a do. Here we go.

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Ryan squatting 275 with perfect form, and he went further down after I snapped this pic

How did you get your start in the fitness world?

My foray into the world of fitness and personal training was complete happenstance.  I always had a peripheral curiosity about strength training that followed an ebb and flow throughout my teenage years.  However, the actual immersion into the field of personal training followed a Vitamix demonstration of all things.  I decided to purchase the blender at the age of nineteen.  That purchase changed the trajectory of my life and my career.

Your philosophies are different than most personal trainers. You encompass a very holistic approach to being lean and mean. Describe that for us.

I realized very early on that our body is an ecosystem.  For us to individually and collectively flourish, our environment has to address our basic physiological and psychological needs.  These pillars are different for everyone as we all gravitate towards different stimulus.   For me, the following need to occur for my ecosystem to flourish: chiropractic, deep tissue massage, epsom salt baths, paleo dieting (with uncontested indulgences when a re-feed is necessary), creating good habits, reading, surrounding myself with like minded people, showing gratitude, patience, and consistency.

What are some common mistakes you see people making in the gym?

Common mistakes in the gym: following routines that do not align with the person’s goals or current level of fitness, showcasing a quantity in lieu of quality training ideal, lack of consistency, and patience.

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Ry doing one legged hack squats (he eventually got up to 45 lbs on each side)

Favorite exercise for triceps? Biceps? Back? And chest? 

I am a strong proponent of multi joint exercises:  dips and chins covers all four body parts.  I am a huge fan of keeping the reps schemes low, 1-5 reps, playing with tempo, rest pause, clusters, and partials.  The exercises don’t have to be sexy to be incredibly effective.  Plus most of my clients have a limited budget when it comes to the time they can commit to the gym.  Cycled correctly, these two exercises with slight variations in grip, stroke, and tempo can have a massive impact in strength and size. If I have a client that can’t perform these exercises we design programs / strategies to help them build the strength, mobility and flexibility to perform them properly.

Looking back, what advice do you wish you could give to “young Ryan” in his quest for health and fitness? What’s the most underrated/overlooked aspect of being ripped?

This is a great question.  I found myself starring aimlessly at the screen the first time I read it.  Truthfully, I do not feel a ‘young’ Ryan would heed ‘older’ Ryan’s advice.  Experience is what shapes us all and without it we would never develop our true north.  If I could leave him with a few noteworthy points they would would be: have patience, pay attention to habits and make sure you are developing healthy and productive ones, don’t be afraid to experiment, quality over quantity, keep a journal, and read constantly.

Next interview we’ll dive into some more specific questions regarding nutrition, supplements, and maybe a few questions from you.

 

 

What Keeps Me Inspired

What Keeps Me Inspired…in and out of the gym. 

With 2014 coming around the corner, I like to ponder about the things that inspire me in and out of the gym.

1. Looking Good– what the hell is wrong with wanting to look good? When I look in the mirror or flex a muscle and notice new changes, this is an extremely rewarding feeling. Nobody handed this to me. I didn’t buy it somewhere. It’s all hard work and dedication. I never grew up ripped or muscular and every bit of muscle and definition on my body I earned from an extremely tough work ethic and educating myself. Though I don’t prance around in tank tops flexing my muscles in the mirror at the gym, there is nothing more gratifying than looking fine.

2. Feeling Great- I started my own business 2 months ago, and a large reason I was able to do that is because I feel healthy almost all the time. I may not be the smartest cookie, but when I set my mind to something I do it. I don’t waste time. I don’t procrastinate. If I didn’t feel physically and emotionally stable enough, I couldn’t do anything. Some people can run on empty, I can’t.

3. Helping Others- I’m a Jew, and one of the biggest things you learn from day one is to do perform Mitzvah’s, or acts of loving kindness. I always inherently did these things, I think I’m a nice person. BUT, as I’ve grown more spiritual over the years, I’ve discovered something deeper that resonates within my soul when I help other people. Plain and simple it just feels so good to give. You get what you give, there is no doubt about it.

4. Growth and education– I try and learn something new every day. Whether it’s related to health and nutrition, business, or random facts about life, it doesn’t matter because you can learn something from everyone. Now that I’m running this new business, I’m reading new books and I find myself thinking about things in a way that I don’t usually do. It’s extremely exciting and inspiring.

5. Stress Relief- going to the gym is never a chore for me. It’s the opposite. I can let out my frustrations and just focus on lifting the iron. Nothing else gets in my way and I’m in complete control. 

6. People around me- I surround myself with positive people, and the result is more positivity. Ryan from Enfuse Fitness, my parents, Ben Jon, Jonathan Schultz, and all of my friends. The opposite is true; if you hang around negative people, their energy will rub off on you. This is toxic and needs to be removed at all costs!

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Rapid Fat Loss Part 1

Rapid Fat Loss Part 1

Have you been overweight your entire life? Do you struggle to keep weight off? This article is for you. I was never skinny and I’m not blessed with a super fast metabolism, so I can relate to the pain.

Over my years of trying many diets, meeting many people with all sorts of metabolisms, workout ethics, etc. I can tell you one thing and one thing for sure, everyone is unique in their own way when it comes to dietary needs. However there is a common thread amongst people; low carb diets will always result in fat loss, but “low” is different for everyone. For some, low carb means 50, or it means 100, or it means 15 g.

For people who are very over weight, a zero carb diet (in exception of vegetables/some carbs in nuts) is how you need to start. You don’t have to eat like this for the rest of your life, don’t think that. I don’t eat like this anymore, but that’s only because I’ve learned what to do and what changes to make as my body and physique adapted.

Now everyone has their own opinion and will try to give you advice. My only request is that if you do this, you must do it for 14 days and don’t stray away. Weigh yourself Day 1 in the morning, take a picture front and back, and after the 14 days weigh yourself again and take another picture. Everyone who I give this diet to loses on average 5-7lbs in two weeks, and way more in a month. I’m not exaggerating. Let’s begin.

Accepted Food Choices (emphasize fattier cuts of meat)

All fatty cuts of beef (rib eyes, hamburgers, ribs, sausage, etc.)

All fatty cuts of pork (bacon, etc)

Egg yolks

Dark meat chicken and chicken breasts

Ground turkey, ground lamb.

Full fat cheese, organic butter, coconut oil.

All sea food, emphasize wild salmon and fattier types of fish (more Omega 3’s)

ALL VEGETABLES- broccoli, onions, kale, tomatos, etc.

ALL NUTS.

Do not eat

All grain products (bread, rice, pasta, etc)

Alcohol

Soy products

No potatoes

No milk, yogurt, kefir, etc.

No fruit (for now, no fruit!)

No ketchup, steak sauce, etc (mustard is fine, so is hot sauce)

Extra Fat loss dieting tips

Try and sleep 7-9 hours a night. Friday and saturday nights are partying nights, I understand, but if you really want to make drastic and healthy changes, try and have a consistent sleep schedule for two weeks straight.

Drink organic coffee with added coconut oil, butter, organic heavy cream, or black in the morning. And add some cinnamon.

Drink green tea in the afternoon.

Buy a Psyllium Fiber supplement and first in the morning add 10 grams of fiber to water, mix it up and drink it down.

Eating

The beautiful thing about this way of eating is you can eat as much as you want in fat and protein. Nobody ever complains to me that they’re hungry when eating like this.

My friend and I were grocery shopping in New York City and he was just starting this diet and he asked, “what should I eat?”

I told him to buy a Rotisserie chicken and eat the whole thing. He did just that. He lost 7 lb’s in two weeks.

Spending Tips

Believe it or not this isn’t as expensive as you think.

The emphasis is on fattier cuts of meat, which don’t cost as much as leaner cuts.

And if you’re really strapped for cash, don’t buy any vegetables and save your money for the proteins and fats. Those are the most important elements of this diet. The veggies are just an added super power to help speed things up, but they are not essential right now.

Keep me updated and good luck.

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Ball Busting Arm Workout

Ball Busting Arm Workout

This is very challenging. Your arms will feel like they’re going to explode once it’s all said and done. Now before you dive in, remember to follow the rest intervals and tempos exactly. If you don’t, you’ll burn out and not be able to finish. Remember, when you see this 4×4 that means 4 sets of 4 reps. And when you see this 4100 that means lower yourself in 4 seconds, pause at the bottom, come up, no pause at the top.

A1. Weighted Close Grip Chin Ups- 4×4 (4001) no rest

A2. Standing Barbell Curl- 4×10 (3100) no rest

A3. Seated hammer curls- 4×15 (2000) rest 2 minutes. Repeat the A circuit.

Rest 3 minutes before moving on to the B’s.

B1. Weighted Dips (stay upright) 4×4 (5000) no rest

B2. Lying Reverse Grip Skull Crushers 4×8 (3100) no rest

B3. Diamond Push Ups- 4×15 (2100) rest 2 minutes. Repeat the B circuit.

The beauty of this workout is it targets all the different heads of the tri’s and bi’s. You also activate the fast twitch muscle fibers by going heavy and doing the chins and dips. I would strongly advise going lighter on the A2’s/ B2’s and A3’s/B3’s.

Enjoy.

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