1. Nutrition

1 part Protein “chicken, red meat, fish, eggs”
1 part Fruit “apple, orange, grapefruit, etc.”
1 part Veg. “broccoli, asparagus, green beans, etc.”
Fat intake is obtained through snacks. “Nuts, avocado, peanut butter, olive oil, etc.”

I use a very simple method for my nutrition. Eat the good stuff “a lot of it” and stay away from the bad “far away”. I take my fist and that’s about how much I should be eating of each protein, fruit, or vegetable. If you had three fists, one fist would be your 1 part protein, another would be your 1 part fruit, and the last one would be your 1 part vegetable. You can make any combination. I also use brown rice and sweet potatoes in my plan. A typical meal would look like:

Chicken Breast, Apple, Broccoli
Steak, Asparagus, Sweet potatoes
Fish, Brown rice, Green beans

My fat intake comes from snacking throughout the day. I will snack on nuts and seeds, avocado, or peanut butter. I use olive oil when I cook so there is some fat intake there as well. Remember these are healthy fats “think heart”, not the unhealthy ones “think fat on your ass”.

Nutrition is the hierarchy. Without it you have no base. You will not be able to out train a bad diet. If you type in “Diet” in any search engine, you will get hundreds of millions of ideas on how you should eat. America as a whole has spent billions of dollars on health care and its own food industry. Why is it that as you read this, America is still the fattest and sickest is has ever been in history? Use common sense and keep it simple. Simple does not always mean easy. You must buy low and sell high everyday. The concept is simple in theory, but to put it into practice is not easy. If everyone could do it we would all be rich. Same concepts apply to your nutrition. You must make proper food choices every few hours. If you can do this you will separate yourself from the ones who can’t, and you will clearly see and feel the difference.

2. Recovery/ Preparedness methods

The general way of thinking in America is train first, recover later. This thought process is absolutely backwards. The Chinese and Eastern Europeans have recovery down to a science. Most people think they get stronger when they train. Where you get strong is in your recovery. The recovery/ preparedness method simply put is recovering from your current training session and preparing yourself for the upcoming training session. There are numerous ways you do this. Everyone will have their own particular way they like to recover but here are some of my personal favorites.

1. Supplementation- Protein shakes, Branch Chain Amino Acids “BCAA”, Fish oil, Multi-vitamin, and Fiber. These supplements are the foundation for optimal health and recovery from muscle breakdown during a training session

2. Sleep- Proper sleep is one of the best things you can do for your body. When you are sleeping, your body is growing and recovering the most. The hours you get in before 12a.m. are better than the hours you get in after 12.

3. Water intake- I can’t stress how important this is. Water is the best anabolic you can have. Call me crazy but it seems to work wonders with fat loss too.

4. Lifestyle and habits- Excessive partying, drinking, smoking, and doing drugs might not help in recovery.

5. Nutrition- As I mentioned before, it’s the hierarchy. Without this, you’re doomed.

6. Stretching- This might be one of the most under rated components of fitness, yet it might be one of the most important and beneficial. From the warm up through the workout to the cool down, stretching should be implemented. This can be achieved through proper dynamic stretching, training through a full range of motion, and proper static stretching. This will not only help with recovery but will help aid in injury prevention as well.

There are also different methods of recovery like massage, acupuncture, hot sauna, ice baths, taping or wrapping, cupping therapy, etc. I have tried all of these and all of them work. Don’t be scared to try them out and see what works for you.

3. Be balanced

How many times have you been to the gym and seen a guy with huge arms, only to be disappointed by his legs that belong on a barstool. Being balanced is another one of those rules that is simple in theory yet hard in practice. You might think of it as common sense that if you push something you would pull something, but no, we are talking rocket science here. Injury is probably one of the most serious side effects of being unbalanced. Take a person who bench presses all the time. Eventually his pecs “chest” will become very tight and the muscles in the upper back “those are called traps and rhomboids by the way” become very weak. This causes the shoulders to round out or cave in and the upper back to round out as well. Eventually it will cause back problems and none of the women will want to date you because you look like a hunchback. Seriously, if you do something that takes you one way, do something that takes you the other way. Here are 9 disciplines of movement that I follow to help me become more balanced.

1. Horizontal push “bench press, push up”
2. Horizontal pull “bent row, inverted row”
3. Vertical push “press, push jerk”
4. Vertical pull “pull up, chin up”
5. The Squat “front squat, back squat”
6. Uni-lateral movement “lunge, step up”
7. Posterior-chain movement “deadlift, back ext.”
8. Abdominal movement “leg raise, plank, Russian twist”
9. Conditioning “run, row, cycle”

There’s an old Chinese saying, Wu Ji Bi Fan “Too much of something is no good”

Be balanced.

4. Use compound, multi-joint, closed-chain exercises

These are exercises that will train the movements, not the muscles. These types of exercises will produce a systemic “total body” effect while training also. Imagine someone doing a bicep curl. How much does that exercise require? Curl the weight up; release it back down, repeat. The total movement is about two feet at the most and there’s really no stress on the Central Nervous System “CNS”. Now, let’s talk about an Olympic lift called the snatch. In this exercise, the lifter pulls the barbell off the ground, when it reaches the hip the lifter quickly explodes pulling the barbell up while dropping underneath it in a full squat position to catch it in total balance with arms locked out overhead. It’s a beautiful lift when executed properly. So for this lift, the bar is probably moving a total of close to 10 feet depending on the height of the lifter. It requires strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, accuracy, agility and balance. The CNS is being taxed. It does not take a genius to tell you which one is better for you.

Closed-chain movements can be described in many ways. For my purpose I think of them as exercises that are done where your feet are in contact with the ground. These are movements that are directly built into your DNA “run, jump, kick, throw, push, pull, roll, press, punch, squat, lunge, etc.” Using compound multi-joint exercises are far superior to isometric single-joint exercises. I’m not saying to never do isometric single-joint exercises because there’s a time and place for them but overall, stick to the compound multi-joint exercises. They will take you further in your journey to getting fit.

5. Increase MSF “Mass Specific Force”

Why is increasing MSF so important? First of all, you don’t want any additional weight you might not need. All this is going to do is cause greater gravitational pull which makes you slower. Remember, gravity is the enemy. I want you to get stronger at a specific weight “also known as getting relatively strong” so there is no additional mass. If you weigh 300 pounds, the individuals are few and far between that can actually generate that type of force. It does not matter if you are running, lifting, jumping, throwing, etc. You must first start to lose fat and build muscle. As you do this, your MSF increases. Suppose you have two race cars of equal size. They have the same amount of fuel and both have 1000 horsepower. The only thing that differs is their weight. Car “A” weighs 3000lbs and car “B” weighs 1500lbs. When the light turns green, car “B” launches off the line and quickly puts a huge amount of distance between them. Car “A” with its added weight causes it to burn fuel quickly and eventually fades. With all things equal, the lighter car will go faster and further every time. If I’m 185lbs, I want to get stronger at 185lbs. If I put on 10lbs and my lifts are weaker and I’m slower, the 10lbs I added was unproductive weight. On the other hand, if I put on 5lbs and my lifts got stronger and I ran faster, the weight was productive. Remember, what I want to achieve is not the bodybuilder look, but a lean strong physique. You don’t want to look like Tarzan and perform like Jane. Seems like absolute common sense but you will be amazed at the difficulty people have understanding this.

6. Train across all metabolic pathways

Knowing how metabolic pathways and energy systems work is crucial to seeing results. I believe you are only as strong as your weakest area. That’s why we always train our weaknesses. If I were to break down the metabolic pathways in to running it would look something like this.

400meters = Phosphagen/ anaerobic/ does not require oxygen
800meters = Glycolytic/ anaerobic & aerobic/ may or may not require oxygen
1600 meters= Oxidative/ aerobic/ requires oxygen

The CNS adapts differently to each energy system so training all of them is very important. Inadvertently, too much time spent in one can cause burn out and lead to decrease physical skill or injury. For instance, someone who only trains long slow distance “LSD”, the consequence is decreased strength, power, and speed. This person will also have poor anaerobic capabilities because of too much time spent training aerobically. There is a time for specializing in a specific pathway and that is why we are humbled by the Usain Bolt’s “fastest man in the world” and Lu Yong’s “Olympic weight lifting champion” of the world. For my purpose, specializing is not to specialize. This way, we get a type of fitness that is good in every aspect from lifting, running, training, to actual sport.

7. Lose fat, not weight

I always get asked, “Scott, how do I lose weight?” This is a very easy question to answer. I say “Simple, don’t get fat in the first place.” Fat loss vs. weight loss, it’s a debate that has been going on since the beginning of time. Personally, I don’t know why this subject is still being debated. Weight loss is completely idiotic at best. If you start losing fat you will in turn build muscle “if you are training and eating properly” So why do people still insist they want to lose weight. If you amputate your legs you are going to lose weight. If you cut off your hand you will lose weight. So there is my suggestion for weight loss. Fat loss is something very different. It’s not as simple as calories in/ calories out. One pound of fat and one pound of muscle weigh exactly the same. Metabolically they are very different. I have yet to have someone who believes the calories in/ calories out method, take me up on my Crisco challenge. I will give you 1200 calories of pure Crisco, right out the can. Then we will give someone else 2500 calories of chicken, broccoli, and fruit for a month and see what happens. We will see who is sleeping better, performing better, feeling better, and let’s not forget about what’s going on internally. Let’s see what happens to your HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. It’s clear and evident that weight loss should not be the goal, but to lose fat and gain muscle, that’s logical.

8. Find good coaching

Learning is the main objective here. If you don’t learn it in school, you have to learn it somewhere. You can learn something from anyone, whether it’s good or bad. Ultimately it’s up to you to take what’s good and implement it and take what’s bad and trash it. Finding a good coach is part of the journey you take when you are learning about something new. That could be a sport, a lift, a track event, etc. I have trained with coaches like Dan John, Mark Rippetoe, Glen Pendlay, and Tim Swords. Even though these names might not mean much too some readers, these guys are the Warren Buffet’s of the fitness industry. I will learn more from them in 10min. than a whole semester of school. Finding a good coach is kind of like traveling. They will teach you something you can never learn in a book. A good coach will not only be able to help you with your fitness goals, but they will change your life in ways outside the fitness realm. I can’t tell you how many life lessons I have learned outside of the rack or away from the platform. Lessons that have helped me not only become a better coach, but a better man, as well as a better father. Get out there and find someone who has more confidence in you than you have in yourself. Sometimes it takes a good coach seeing something in you that you don’t see in yourself.

9. Surround yourself with greatness

You are a product of your environment. I know I want to lift strong and run fast. When I first started to study how to run 400 meters, I was not great at it. I read books on it, studied what Barry Ross had to say, watched interviews with Pat Henry “Texas A&M track coach” and Clyde Hart “Baylor track coach”, finally I sought out Derrick Brew “Olympic Gold medalist in the 4 x 400m and Olympic Bronze medalist in the 400m” and started training and learning from him. I figured if the world record in the 400m is 43.18, and Derrick runs it in 44.29 that would be a good place to start. A lot of people are content with being good, not me. Excellence does not come easy and if you surround yourself with mediocrity, that’s exactly what you will be. For those of you who have kids, imagine when your daughter comes home and starts to tell you about the man of her dreams. He’s coming to pick her up to take her out and you ask her to describe him to you. She says “he’s 5’5, 150lbs, brown hair, wears plaid shirts, blue jeans, and penny loafers.” As she finishes describing him, a pale green rusty El Camino pulls up in the driveway. Not exactly what you had in mind right. Like I said, excellence does not come easy and you have to surround yourself with greatness. You will encounter people who will criticize you, make fun of you, and tell you that you are wasting your time. Those are the talkers; they don’t know anything about walking the walk. Separate yourself from those people; they will only bring you down. When someone can’t do something themselves they want to tell you that you can’t do it. It’s the first sign of fear. Surround yourself with individuals that want to improve themselves, that want to motivate you to improve yourself. Hang around people that are stronger and faster than you. Try your hardest to keep up until you are stronger and faster than they are.

10. Don’t forget to have FUN doing it

This is the part most people forget to do. Sure you are working your ass off, but it should be enjoyable. Of course the enjoyment comes afterwards but there are many different aspects of training that should be fun. One of the things I have personally found along the way is meeting different training partners. I have developed life long friendships because of the common ground we share to improve our health and fitness. Along this journey I have also tried different training programs so I don’t get bored. Sure some of them did not work, but a lot of them did. I would have not known if I had not given it a try. The main thing is they were a change and that is what made training fun again. Another must of mine is training outdoors. I believe it does something to the body that the regular gym cannot provide. It does not matter if it is hot, cold, raining, or snowing. Get our there and train with the elements of nature. Utilizing new equipment is another thing I have done over the years. Kettlebells, barbells, dumbbells, ropes, chains, tires, prowlers, sleds, medicine balls, bikes, rowers, and so many more that I can’t even remember. Teach yourself or learn from a professional about how to use different equipment. Learn new lifts such as the clean and jerk, snatch, Turkish get-ups, front squat, etc. You’re knowledge of fitness should always be challenged. Sign up for competitions and see what you are made of. You are not competing against anyone but yourself. I promise you will feel a sense of accomplishment when you’re done. At the end of the day you got to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and feel good about yourself for how far you have come. I can’t stress how important it is for the fun factor to be there. It will keep you going, when the going gets tough. And when the tough get going, you will be right there, lifting strong, and running fast, having fun doing it.