I can’t stand it I know you planned it

Can you be at your best if you haven’t prepared properly? And will you feel fantastic after an exhausting workout if you haven’t prepared properly? No. You can’t and won’t.

What you do before working out, be it a high intensity workout or a moderate intense workout impacts how you perform. And not only is it what you do an hour or two before, it can also be a day or two before.

There are things we do that impact our performance: mental aspect – how do we feel, are we motivated, are we tired and just don’t want to be there or are we ready to kick ass? Our attitude can have a large impact on how our workout goes. And then there’s the influence of what we eat. You can be really pumped for your workout but if 10 minutes in you start to feel like crap, like someone added 20lb weights onto your feet and your legs feel like they are moving at half speed that can very well be due to what you ate, or if you ate anything at all before the workout.


We need to provide fuel to our muscles in the way of food especially when we are asking them to perform extremely. But if we don’t eat anything before a workout, or not enough or nothing at all most likely we will not perform well. And in some cases we will do damage to our body.

And it’s just not what we eat before that counts. If your workout is long in duration, more than 60 minutes, what you ate the day before and what you did the day before influences your performance today.


Our body want’s carbs for fuel. It’s that simple. So if you are someone who is on a low carb/high fat protein diet you may want to rethink that decision. Actually, I beg you to rethink it. Carbohydrates are what our body needs to get glucose into the blood and also to store as glycogen for future use. When you exercise the available glucose is used for energy be it for a highly intense cardio workout or an intense resistance training workout. When the available glucose is used, the body then uses glycogen stored in the liver and muscles to convert it to glucose to provide that fuel. Carbs are what our body, including our brain use as fuel to get things done.

Let’s look at what the International Olympic Committee says about carbs:

“surveys show that the best
endurance athletes in the world (the Kenyan and
Ethiopian distance runners) consume diets that
are particularly high in carbohydrates. Meanwhile
in many Western countries, media reports state
that carbohydrates make us fat and unhealthy,
and the most popular current diet books are
based on eating plans that are low and moderate
in carbohydrate and high in fat.”

And this:

“the importance of
the body’s stores of carbohydrate as a source of
fuel for the muscle and brain during exercise is
still a fact. In many types of sport, low levels of
carbohydrate stores are a factor in fatigue and
reduced performance. Furthermore, strategies
to increase carbohydrate availability have been
consistently shown to result in performance
enhancements, not just in marathon running
but in short duration events too. That is why
carbohydrate continues to play a key role in
competition nutrition.”

You can read more here if you like.

You may not be an Olympic athlete but if you perform like you want to be one than you need to eat those carbs.

Eating carbs with respect to working out usually is associated with endurance events such as marathons. You might have heard the term ‘carb loading’, the process of eating a lot of carbs days before an event to ensure you had enough carbs for that event, only for long endurance events. I remember the week of my black belt test being told to carb load. But this goes for any intense workout. It’s always a good idea to have those carb stores, the glycogen levels, as high as you can. If you only focus on what you eat before you work out, and your glycogen levels are low, then you probably won’t have the amount of glucose/glycogen you need to get through your workout. You may only have enough fuel for 20 minutes of intense work then you hit that wall where you feel really lethargic.

Here’s a tip to keep it simple. Keep your carb intake levels high all the time. I know, this goes against what we are hearing today with the Paleo diet, and Ketogenic diet being very popular. Read my previous posts to see why those diets do more harm than good and don’t provide the energy we need. If you think a high carb diet makes you fat, just look to cultures that follow a high carb diet like south east Asia as an example, then look at cultures that don’t – western cultures like North America. Using the World Health Organization criteria Japan has the lowest rate of obesity among the OECD member countries at 3.2%. By 2015-2016 numbers almost 40% of Americans are obese! Unbelievable!

Also, it’s not only what we do before that impacts our performance it’s also what we do during. If you are exercising intensely for 60 minutes or more you should really think about taking in carbs at that 60 minute mark. It can be as easy as drinking a sports workout drink or gel. You can even make your own that doesn’t have those nasty dyes in it and too much sugar. Most people will be in a glucose deficit after 60 minutes of working out and that’s when you will start to feel run down, low in energy. Let’s take a look at this chart:


Carb requirements









As the chart shows, exercising for a period of 1 – 2.5 hours 30 – 60 grams per hour is recommended for better performance. Without that intake of carbs you are most likely to burn out and not perform as well.

Post workout also requires intake of carbs. Don’t reach for that high protein shake just yet. If you have depleted your body of  glucose/glycogen you need to replenish. A simple banana, orange, smoothie will suffice to maintain a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein. This will get your glucose levels up, which will help you feel more human, and also provide a bit of protein to help in the rebuilding process. Then, an hour or more later you can consume some foods again. Remember, our body requires carbs for the simplest things like breathing, thinking, walking, just living. Without those carbs you will continue to feel rundown and your recovery from your hard workout will not be what you want it to be.


It’s an old school mentality to not consume anything while working out. You are working out to be faster, stronger, better. Help yourself do those things and eat those carbs. Eat them before, during, and after. If Olympic athletes are doing it, why wouldn’t you? Try it and I think you will think afterwards ‘Why didn’t I do this earlier?’.

Lastly, ensure your carbs are quality carbs, not processed and full of added sugar.

Yours in health,







a plus b plus c…

I love science. I often will refer to science when I am teaching my students at the dojo. How do you overcome someone who is stronger? You position yourself so you are using the stronger muscles in your body against their weaker ones. How do you successfully apply a choke? You position yourself so the technique you are using applies maximum pressure to the arteries on their neck. It’s technique, it’s physics, it’s science.

The same can be applied to exercise. Don’t use the science of proper technique and you risk injury and you also will minimize the muscle growth you could have experienced. And the same can be applied to bulking up, or adding muscle to our body. This post is sort of an extension to my previous post that talks about not having energy. Not adding muscle to your body? Ask yourself if you are doing the following and it might be because you are not. Our body carries out a lot of chemical processes daily and our body is the result mostly of what we do each day.

So let’s get to it and look at how we can add muscle to our body by doing the following things.

Here it is

  • Quality calories: Garbage in / garbage out. We all love food that may not be the best for us, food that has a lot of things that damage our body, or minimizes our potential. Think of the following: if you consumed 2,800 calories throughout the day, eating enough that you felt full most of the day, not overly hungry, and some of those calories didn’t provide the nutrients to your body to create muscle tissue then you lost the chance to gain muscle. Eating to gain muscle is not about eating whatever their is it’s about eating quality calories to provide the nutrients to provide the right conditions for your body to grow. It like when you cheap out on paint to redo the colour in a room. The paint may be cheaper but you end up having to use a lot more to cover over the previous colour. Buy the quality paint and one coat and you’re done. You’ve worked out really hard! Eat the quality foods to provide the pool of nutrients for the body to repair the damaged muscle tissue. Proper nutrition equals gains. To get the quality nutrients you need make most of your foods whole foods, not processed. Make sure they are nutrient dense, and are not foods that cause inflammation, such as dairy and other animal products. Foods such as berries, greens, beans, nuts and seeds. And don’t get hung up on protein, especially if you are eating animal protein. Eating animal products causes disease such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and it causes inflammation. If you eat whole foods, plant based you will be getting quality nutrients without the saturated fats, cholesterol, IGF-1 which has been linked to cause breast, prostate  cancer. If you want to increase protein intake then increase the amount of beans, peas, soy and other plant based foods higher in protein, still getting large amounts of nutrients and fiber.
  • Ample quality calories: Read this post to understand more about the amount of calories and if you are getting enough. It’s not good enough to only eat quality calories as you also have to eat enough. But what an awesome problem to have! Your work outs are really tough and intense so your caloric need has increased just to maintain your current body weight. So you get to eat more! Who does not want to have this problem. But if you haven’t adjusted your eating habits to increase your calories you are not only not going to gain weight but you might also lose weight by losing muscle. Your body may switch to metabolizing muscle tissue to get the calories it needs. You have sabotaged yourself and you are actually making loses instead of gains even though you work out hard. Experiment to see how many calories you need to add muscle but not add unwanted fat.
  • Variety: Doing the same workout over the last year? You’ve increase your caloric intake with quality foods? But you haven’t gained weight at all? Could be because you are doing the same thing over and over and over… This can be bad for a couple reasons. One, you may lose interest and lose motivation because you are bored. If the mind isn’t engaged, the body isn’t engaged. When someone asks me what they should do to keep motivated when exercising I tell them that they need to do something that interests them. Things like group fitness, martial arts, having a personal trainer. And if we are doing the same thing all the time our body adapts. It adapts to the load and will stop responding and growing. Remember how your body changed when you started working out? 3 months in and you couldn’t believe the changes? Things got tighter, people commented that you looked great and your arms seem to be firmer and bigger. But a year in and you don’t really see any changes. That was your body responding to the changes in load, that’s why you got firmer, then the body responding to the same load by not responding at all. The same loads, the same stress mechanisms, the same motions will cause the body to plateau. The body just won’t grow any more. Doing the same squats using the same reps, the same rest period? Switch it up. Try doing squats with the barbell on the front of the shoulders instead of behind the neck. Or hold the squat longer at the bottom position and also don’t lock out at the top, keeping constant stress on the muscles. Go to a cross fit class to change the routine. Change exercises that target the same muscle groups but in a different way. Do this until you plateau and then change it up again. The body is very adaptive and you need to keep it guessing and target those muscles differently.
  • Resting: Years ago I was a big gym rat. I spent probably anywhere from 90 to 120 minutes in the gym 6 days a week. I worked hard when I was in the gym, not just sitting on equipment. I made some gains but it wasn’t until I had a 3 week layoff that I made big gains. I was working my body so hard and I wasn’t giving it the rest it needed to repair all the damage I was doing to the muscle tissue and tendons, etc. When I had the 3 week layoff my body was finally able to repair the damage and that was when I made my biggest gains. It’s good that you work out hard, we need to do that to make gains but it’s just as important to rest so the body can make the repairs. It’s not always easy but try to make it a priority.
  • Intensity: Are you exercising with intent and intensity? Are you sure? No, I really mean it, are you sure you are working out hard? I’m not being an ass here. We have many distractions in our lives one of them being our brain. I’m serious! Our brain tells us when to stop doing something when it starts to bother us. Our brain tends to wonder when we exercise, we lose focus. It used to be that running a marathon was a huge deal, you were considered an elite athlete, or a nut. Now, everyone runs them. Have you ever watched Eco Challenge? Eco Challenge was a race of groups of 4 that required them to do various things such as running, mountain climbing, mountain biking for 24 hours a day. Ultra marathoners will run non stop for 24 hours. How do we do these things if at one point a marathon was considered the epitome of endurance sports? We learned to tune out those distractions, the voice telling us to stop and that can’t go on any longer. Did you hear about the man that got his arm wedged between two rocks in a cave and to survive had no choice to cut his arm off below the elbow, using a small knife? He had to do that because otherwise he would have died. Have you ever been so hungry, really hungry, to the point that your brain says over and over you need to eat? But you can’t for what ever reason, maybe you don’t have food within your reach because you are stuck at work and the job has to get done? But somehow you mange to not eat for the next 6 hours and you didn’t die. But at the time you were almost ready to do anything to get food. Our mind does that because it’s survival. Our mind is not thinking about the gains we would make by pumping out 2 more reps it’s thinking about the exhaustion you feel and the pain and it needs to make it stop. I see it all the time when I train people. They think they are done but I push them further and they keep going and then realize they have self imposed limits brought on by listening to their mind. When you think you cannot do one more rep, block out the ‘noise’. Really block it out. Tell yourself you are going to do one more. When you go to the gym, or whatever your workout space is, prepare your mind. Tell yourself you are going to do more today. When a voice in your mind tells you you are tired, or your mind wonders to what it is you are going to do after the workout shut it out! Bring your mind back to focusing on the exercise. Focus on the movement of your arms as your curl that weight, focus on your breathing as you do burpees. Train your mind to block out negative thoughts and to focus on things that need focusing. You will be able to do more. You can. It’s your brain telling you you can’t. And when you learn to do this, when you are able to get past the point of stopping you will really start making gains. This is where the magic occurs. You need to get out of the ‘I’ve done enough’ pattern to ‘I’ve done all I can do’ pattern.
  • Purpose: Why are you doing this? Is it important to you? And be honest with yourself. Do you really want to add 10lbs of muscle, or 20lbs. Sure, we would all like to, but do you really want to? Because if you don’t then it probably won’t happen. And that’s OK, just understand that. Exercising with a purpose will help ensure you are working out when you need to, not working out here, or there and sometimes. You will not be able to add those pounds if you are not consistently working out. The off and on again approach has never been successful in adding muscle. Ask any elite athlete if they got to the level they are at by skipping days at a time instead of training. I don’t think Rose Namajunas got to be the women’s straw weight champ by choosing to sit on the couch instead of hitting the gym. Would GSP have become the middle weight champ if after two rounds, showing signs of exhaustion, said ‘that’s enough, I can’t go on’? I don’t think GSP would have been able to come back after a 4 year layoff, going to a higher weight class of 15 lbs, by saying ‘that’s good enough, I’ll do more reps later’. Later never comes but time passes and we all have to look into the mirror when that time comes. Are you happy when you see what you see? If not, then do something different because what you are doing isn’t working.
  • Timing: Give your body the nutrients it needs when it needs it. After you worked out hard your body is deprived of glycogen, and your body will also require some protein to rebuild. But, it’s the glucose your body requires to fill the empty fuel tank as your glycogen stores could be almost empty. If you go for that protein laden shake that’s low in carbs you could be doing damage. Your body requires glucose to do the simplest things such as breathing, and digesting foods. If you don’t have the glucose it needs it will again metabolize muscle tissue to get it. After about 45 minutes, giving your body some time for the blood to leave the muscle tissues, consume food that has a ratio of 4:1 carbs to protein. This will give your body the glucose (carbs) it needs to start filling up the fuel tank and will also provide some protein for tissue repair. Also, because you have hammered your body think about consuming more calories of your daily intake after you work out. You’ve created a demand and your body is more receptive to the nutrients coming in. You may even want to think about eating up to 50% of your calories post workout, eating lighter the rest of the day. You’ve created the demand, now provide your body what it needs.


I’m challenging you. I am guaranteeing you that you can add 10 lbs of muscle in 3 months if you do these things. No bullshit. I’m not throwing a crazy unrealistic number out there. You can add 10 lbs of muscle onto your body by doing the above. That’s less than a pound a week. It’s measurable and doable. Just over 3 lbs in one month. How fast does 3 months go by? Pretty fast. The time will be up before you know it.

Make it a project. Take pictures, create a journal. Record your numbers. It’s totally achievable. Then, remember to thank me. No, don’t thank me thank yourself because you did it, you put in the work.

Are you up for it?

Yours in health,



Give me a breeze that’s long winded

Always facing a head wind.


Having the motivation but not always being able to execute can be frustrating. You make the effort to get to the gym, the club, the track and maybe 5 minutes in you are done, not able to go on anymore. But why? You slept well and you seem to be eating well but you just can’t pull the trigger.

You are sleeping well so that’s not it. It could be stress because stress can have a lot of detrimental affects on us. Is it that? If not, if you feel you have your stress under control than it could be a couple things. Either not consuming the required amount of calories or not consuming enough fuel.

By fuel I don’t mean the general term food, I’m talking about specific food, carbs.

The gold standard

Going against popular belief and the majority, I think, you need to eat carbs, complex carbs, the good ones. And they are good. Our body runs on carbs from the simplest activity as thinking, breathing to more complex activities as exercising. Carbs is what fuels our body. I’m going to kind of explain it and I’ll do my best to keep it simple and not overly geeky.

When we consume carbs our body breaks down the carbs and converts them to glucose. Glucose is then dispersed into our blood and through this process the glucose is delivered to our tissues including muscles, organs, etc. and is used for whatever it is we do. From breathing, sitting, or running a marathon. Any excess glucose is then stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver.

This is a very efficient way for the body to get fuel and to use it. There are other ways, such as utilizing fat, which happens when we don’t have glucose or glycogen and of course there is utilizing muscle tissue. The body will actually go through a chemical process of converting muscle tissue to glucose. I’m grimacing as I type this thinking of muscle tissue being used for energy, but it can happen if you don’t have the fuel the body wants.

Could this be why you don’t have the energy you need? If the majority of your calories are not coming from complex carbs then it could be. If you are following a paleo, ketogenic, or Atkins type diet than almost certainly. These diets drastically limit the amount of carbs and without those carbs you don’t have glucose. I know, I sound like some crazy nut. But read on and you’ll see that I just may not be.

It is enough?

Let’s conclude that you are eating a high percentage of carbs but you are still exhausted. I would then conclude you are not eating enough carbs. It’s very possible. The average female adult requires 2,000 calories a day and an adult male 2,800 calories. Are you consuming this amount daily? Are you sure? How are you sure?

The tool

Most of us aren’t sure. I don’t think any of us track what we eat. Want a way to do it? Measure what you eat and then go here to get calorie info, nutrition info and then you’ll have  a handle on what you are consuming. And you don’t have to do this every day, every meal. Most of us have our standards, our staple meals we consume. Really all you need to do is do this for one ‘average’ day. Take one day and measure what you eat and input it into cronometer to see the caloric count for the day. And be honest too. It’s like that saying that when ever you measure something you take something away, it’s impacted. Do your best to not influence the outcome knowing you are measuring it. You won’t be doing yourself any favours.


Were did you come in at? 1,500, 1,600, 1,800, 2,600 calories? Try a whole week if you feel you need more data. My guess is if you are sleeping well, eating an adequate number of carbs, and for the most part those carbs come from good sources such as whole unprocessed foods then your caloric count is too low. If you are low or just on the border then increase your caloric intake by consuming more carbs. And don’t be overly concerned about ‘carbs turning to fat’. It’s a very expensive process for your body to turn carbs into fat. Your glycogen stores need to be at 100% and the need for glucose needs to be nil and the process itself is caloric intensive. Let’s look at some examples and also try to dispel some myths.

Let’s look at the myth eating potatoes make you fat. Actually potatoes are very good for you and are not that high in calories. They are high in fiber especially when you leave the skin on and they have lots of nutrients. I think, it’s all the fat that gets added on: sour cream, butter, bacon, cheese. A baked potato by itself is not fattening at all. And it’s all good carbs.

Don’t eat bread. Hear that a lot. So much that restaurants started to offer burgers with lettuce as buns. Don’t eat bread if it’s processed for sure but if it’s chalk full of seeds, whole grains and low or has no added sugar then eat it! You need those whole grans and seeds and all that good stuff.

And rice. Don’t eat rice, right? Let’s look at Asia. High rice consumers yet lower levels of obesity.

And here comes the logic: So if Japan, Vietnam, Korea, China, etc. eat diets high in carbs, and North Americans don’t, then why does North America have an obesity epidemic and Asia does not? I don’t want to bring this up all the time but it’s a real world example that I have experienced and lived, so I have my own experience and evidence even if by definition it’s anecdotal. I’ve been to Japan and I have interacted with hundreds of Okinawan’s, most in their late 70’s and above. This is important to state because they are eating the way Okinawan’s used to eat, 75 – 80% carbs and the vast majority whole foods, not the American junk food that came over post world war 2. I did not see one obese person. Pretty much all healthy looking, active, mobile. Goes against today’s noise, doesn’t it. But the physical evidence is there. You can’t get much better of a long term study than people who have followed a high carb diet and are in their 90’s, or over a hundred years old. If a high carb diet was bad for you, made you sick, fat, etc. than we wouldn’t have the majority of Okinawan’s living to their 90’s.

So why the demonetization of carbs. The fact is diet books sell, and it seem the more ‘new’ and somewhat controversial they are, the more they sell.

But let me do this. Let me give you some home work. Research what Okinawan’s ate pre 1950. Post 1950 is when Okinawa was occupied by the Americans and their diet changed due to this influence. I’ll even help you out, you can start be reading this. But, even then the change was only an increase in meat but still high in carbs. In the 70’s things changed even more as the proliferation of fast food restaurants happened. Look into this and then come to your own conclusion on how people eating such a high level of carbs can also be the longest living people, and people with low levels of disease.


That’s it. Know what you are eating and how much, and if it’s enough calorie wise.

Lastly, if you still feel run down, or feel the need to, go see a medical professional. You aren’t any good to yourself if you are still run down or have concerns. Get those concerns looked into and give yourself piece of mind.

Yours in health,



we forget about it until it reminds us

Back to some posts to help you get strong, stay strong and injury free. We all want to be injury free but no one ever is. Some of us get injured frequently for various reasons; accidents, muscle imbalances, neglecting things like posture, motion of our body and we can probably throw stress in there.

Some of these are out of our control. We would like to avoid accidents but that’s not always up to us. And poor posture could be due to our job such as having to stand all day, sit in a chair all day, work in awkward positions and working in an environment that requires repetitive motion.

But let’s look at things we can control specifically muscle imbalances, and specifically the adductor muscles.

You may not have heard of this group of muscles but don’t stop your reading here and head off to Youtube to watch the latest trending videos. Keep reading and find out why this group of muscles is very important for your day to day activities and for performance.


The adductors are made up of 5 muscles: Adductor Longus, Adductor Magnus, Adductor Brevis, Gracilis, and the Pectineus.

Wow! Five muscles and what do they do? You can think of these muscles being responsible for moving your leg towards your body, back along side your other leg. Think of standing, legs side by side shoulder width. Now, move one leg out to the side away from your body. Not to the front, not to the back but to the side. Your abductor muscles did the work move the leg out to the side. Now to bring the leg back we need to use our adductor muscles. Remember, muscles can only pull, they can’t push so the adductor muscles that are connected to the pelvis and to the inside of femur (upper leg bone) pull the leg back.

But that’s not it. If you have weak adductor muscles you may just also have knee pain.

What are you knees doing when you squat? Do they turn in? Another sign of possible weak adductors.


It makes sense though. We tend to neglect this group of muscles because in my opinion we don’t think of these muscles when we think of strong legs. People would rather spend time doing squats, or lunges, but mainly squats. Squats give us that large leg look, especially on the outside of the upper leg. No one really worries much about having large thighs on the inside.

But we should think about strengthening our adductors especially if we are active and want to remain active. If you are someone who already is active and are already doing exercises like squats, lunges, etc, building your legs, and glutes, you want to work on those adductors. Are you able to do the butterfly stretch easily? Knees almost touching the ground when you do this stretch? That’s because your adductors are loose, lengthy. You are then probably a good candidate to build those adductors as you may already be dealing with a muscle imbalance.


We know what the adductors do, they move our legs back to the centre of our body from being off and out to the side. Knowing that, it would make sense to work the adductors we need to add resistance to the motion of bringing our leg back to and it bit beyond resting position. Let’s look at what exercises we can do to strengthen these 5 muscles:

  • Band hip adduction: I’m a big fan of exercise bands because they are inexpensive, easy to take with you, and you can use them pretty much anywhere. To do this exercise attach one end of the ban to a stationary object and the other end to your ankle. Start with your foot about a foot or more out from where that foot would be if you were standing naturally. Make sure there is tension on the band. Now, move that foot back towards the centre of your body but don’t stop there. Go past centre if you can by about 6″ to 12″. Do this for each leg, 3 sets of 12 reps.
  • Semi-Prone Hip adduction: Laying on your side, the arm on the ground extended upwards, the other arm in front of your chest with the hand on the ground for support, bring the foot of the upper leg close to your bum resting the foot on the ground. The upper leg should be bent at almost 90 degrees with the foot behind your lower leg (the leg on the side you are laying on). Now, with the lower leg fully straightened out, raise it up off of the ground trying to lift that foot as high as it can go (it probably won’t be that high). Play around with the positioning of your body. You want to be in a comfortable position. You can have the foot of the upper leg (the leg not on the ground) in front of the leg on the ground if that works better. As long as the load is during the motion of bringing the leg back to and past centre of your body then you are good. Do this for each leg, 3 sets of 12 reps.
  • Semi-Prone Hip adduction – chair: Same positioning as above except your upper leg, the one not on the ground is resting on a chair. You might want something soft under your foot on the chair since the load will be on this foot. Now with that upper leg straight, raise your lower leg as close as you can to the upper leg. Unlike the previous exercise, it’s the upper leg that is doing the work, not the bottom. Do this for each leg, 3 sets of 12 reps.


Seems simple, doesn’t it. It is! The hard part is putting the time aside to work on the adductors. But if you can find some time twice a week, that’s a good start, a really good start. Think of it as this: you’ve never done any exercises for the adductors so twice a week is a lot more that what you were doing before.

Caution: like any muscle that is neglected, those adductors are really going to hurt after the first workout. Take it easy the first time because unlike some other muscles in our body, these are in our legs and we need those to walk.

Yours in health,