In The Gym

A lot of people ask me what I do in the gym, so I thought I’d give a quick rundown as to what my primary exercises are and the way I look at working out

First things first, almost everything I’ve learned in the past few years is from two people, Charles Poliquin and my friend Ryan at EnFuse Fitness. I suggest you follow their blogs/posts because they will offer you a tremendous amount of insight. But let’s get down to business.

I’m no genetic freak, naturally muscular or ripped, nor am I extremely athletic. Everything I tell you works and it works very well. So don’t say “well it won’t work for me because bla bla bla” trust me, it will. And also, everything I do is complete full range of motion. When I squat, I bring my ass all the way down. When I do pull ups, I go all the way down until my elbows are locked out and come all the way up until my chin gets over the bar. If you do half the rep, you get half the results.

Exercises

1. Squats- I squat twice a week, back or front squats depending on what I’m trying to do. In my opinion, mastering the squat is the most important thing you can ever do in the gym. I’m not going to get into mechanics of how to perform this exercise, but they are a staple in my training no matter what. No exercise elicits such a powerful hormonal response, burns more fat, and builds more muscle for the lower body than the squat. But the squat is also one of those exercises that people only perform a quarter of the way or half way down, I just don’t understand this. For some stupid reason, most magazines or fitness books will say that you shouldn’t squat beyond parallel. Not only is there zero evidence to support this claim, it’s also worse for your knees to only go halfway down. The muscles and joints that surround the knee (particularly the vastus medialis) are activated when the quad goes beyond 90 degrees, so you’re actually strengthening your knees by going all the way down and vice versa, weakening them by going half way down. Think of it like this, when you bench, do you go all the way down or half way? Why would you not squat that way?

2. Dips- I’ll never forget my driving school instructor telling me to do dips (he was an older guy but in great shape) when I was 15 years old. Since then, they’ve been a staple in my routine and one of my strongest lifts. You see, the greater load/demand you can place upon a given muscle group, the more muscle you will build via activation. What that means is that doing a dip places more emphasis on your triceps than a standing tri cep press down, through both gravitational forces alone the exercise is more demanding therefor it activates more muscle. Just like squats, go all the way down, literally all the way down. If you have shoulder pain I would advise focusing on some rotator cuff exercises prior to performing dips.

3. Pull-up/Chin-ups- pull ups are the upper body squat. No other exercise places so much of a demand upon the upper body like a perfectly executed pull up. Note, a pull up is when your palms are NOT facing you, and a chin up is when your palms ARE facing you. Both exercises are fantastic. And you’ll see a lot of cross fitters swinging and kipping when they do these, I’m not a fan. Why? Because you’re actually cheating your muscles out of valuable activation and stimulation when you don’t control the movement. I do all my negatives with a 3 or 4 second descent, pause in the bottom, and come all the way up. Remember, building muscle is about stimulating as many muscle fibers as possible, and nothing is harder than lifting your body through gravity. Remember, go ALL THE WAY DOWN. You’re wasting your time just going half way.

4. Deadlifts- if Squats are the Zeus of lower body exercises, deadlifts are Poseidon. An unbelievably diverse exercise with so many options, my favorite being the snatch grip deadlift on a box. This is an insanely hard exercise that builds lots of muscle in the lower back, traps, forearms, and hamstrings. Talk about a lift that gets you results fast. Do dead lifts.

These are the big 4 that make up 85% of all my workouts. If you’re not doing them, I would strongly advise it because the results speak for themselves. Want to get strong? Squat. Want to get ripped? To pull ups and dips? Want to get faster? Deadlift.