Become a more efficient striker and improve your fitness

A balanced, strong body helps improve power and efficiency

If you are someone who trains in karate, you would have heard your Sensei say that the power in striking comes from the hips, specifically hip rotation. Your Sensei is right. Hips play a very important role in the process of striking, kicking, and so on.

But hips are not exclusively the only body part that plays a role in how ‘good’ your striking is.

Just like anything we do, it requires components of our body to work together throughout the process. There are muscles that work as the primary movers, muscles that are secondary movers, and stabilizers. An example would you the set of muscles that make up the core. If you have a strong core you will have stronger striking, faster striking than if your core is weak.

When we punch, or strike, the motion starts with our feet. Foot positioning, stances can be a complicated discussion but I’ll keep it simpler. As an example, if we are throwing a reverse punch (punching from the opposite side of the foot that is forward in our stance) our hip on that side is rotated back and the opposite side is rotated forward. We make ourselves become heavy by digging into the ground with the ball of our foot on the side we are striking with. That starts the process of kinetic energy getting to the punch, the fist. While digging down on the ball of that foot, a few things start to happen. That kinetic energy drives up our leg, through the muscles in the leg, through the glutes. Core muscles tighten and contract to help with the speed and efficiency of the hip rotation.

As the hip rotates forward and our arm starts the striking process, moving forward towards the target driven by the kinetic energy we have created from the foot up, the energy now is moving through additional muscles. The back, shoulder, biceps, triceps, all this working in harmony (hopefully) to execute our striking as efficiently as possible. Just like a conductor of a symphony keeps the wind section, percussion, string, and brass sections working together to make beautiful music, we want the various muscles of our body working together as best as they can to make that perfect punch.

If one of those muscle groups is not able to perform well due to being weaker, underdeveloped, out of balance, our striking will not be as strong or efficient as it can be. Just like an orchestra, if the brass section is not aligned with the other sections, the music just isn’t as good as it can be.

I think we all have muscle groups we like to train more than other ones. That’s why there is the saying ‘Never skip leg day’. No one likes training legs. Try to have a balanced workout routine. Full body exercise routines are a great way to help achieve this. On the other hand, exercises that isolate individual muscles can end up creating muscle imbalances if not done correctly. This can lead to reduced performance, and also injury.

Want to get better at something, then keep doing it. Want to be a better striker, then keep striking and correcting mistakes made in your technique.

Do you have muscle imbalances that need correcting? If you don’t know, a personal trainer can assess you and point these out. This will help you strengthen those imbalances and bring your body to a homeostasis state.

Lastly, something to think about. If we continue to train each side of our body the same, we are only perpetuating our muscle imbalances. As an example, if on my weak side I curl to failure a certain weight for 10 reps, and on my strong side I curl the same weight for 14 reps, I’m perpetuating my bicep muscle imbalance. I’ll always have that imbalance if I don’t change my training. Ideally, you should always train the weak side first, and only do the same amount of reps on the strong side that you did on your weak side. The same goes for striking. Let’s take the jab/straight combination. If you execute the same amount of combo’s on your strong side that you did on your weak side you will never have your weak side perform as well as your strong side.

The weak side will get better, but it will never be as good as the strong side since the strong side is also improving. Try things like a 2:1 ratio. If you do 10 reps on the strong side, execute 20 on the weak side. Developing the weak side by doing significantly more reps than the strong side will bring improvements quicker. You will then get to the point of not having a weak side and being uncomfortable when having to strike from that side.

Ultimately, have fun in your training. Find what works for you best to address these things and help you to become better at what you do. If you aren’t having fun, you won’t end up doing it.

Yours in health,


Time Under Tension

Use TUT to gain strength and muscle

Like most things, our body responds to pressure, or tension if you will. And increasing the time under that tension can produce results of increased strength and muscle size.


Just to add to your fitness vocabulary of HIIT, HILIT we have TUT, or Time Under Tension. Anyone whom I’ve trained will be familiar with this in that it’s common to hear me instruct them to slow down, to add a pause of a few seconds at the lower part of the exercise. Have you ever seen anyone at the gym ripping of barbell bicep curls like no one’s business? They’re executing them at about 10 per second? Most often you’ll also see some hip action as they move the hips backward when they lower the bar and swing forward to give it that little bit of help to execute the move, usually due to too much weight or sometimes it’s because they really don’t want to work out but want to feel like they did and are trying to get it over as quickly as possible.

woman doing leg presses
Clean, proper technique will result in gains

So what is TUT. TUT refers to how long a muscle is under strain during a set. That person you observed in the gym doing bicep curls probably completed 10 in about 10 seconds. By increasing the duration of the strain on the muscle by lengthening the time of the set you can increase the amount of muscle breakdown thus increasing your strength and muscle size. Another benefit of TUT is by slowing down the movement your technique will be cleaner and should reduce the risk of injury.

Now, knowing this let’s look at how to properly train using TUT


Here are the points you are going to want to remember for your TUT training:

  • Total Duration: Try to time the duration of your sets to 30 – 45 seconds. This will ensure you muscles are getting the proper amount of stress.
  • 4/2/e/1: Keep this formula in mind. 4 seconds for the lowering phase, or the eccentric phase. 2 second pause. Explode for the concentric contraction. 1 second pause at the top.
  • Keep it flexible: This is a rule regardless of the type of workout. Never lock out your joints at the top of a movement. This transfers the weight from the muscles we are trying to strengthen to the joints and can cause injury.
  • Keep it hard: Don’t spend time in the zone where the work is easier. An example of this is when doing bicep curls. Have you noticed that when the weight comes closer to the body it gets easier? It’s usually the easiest when it is right above the fulcrum, the elbow. When you feel the load drastically reduce take that 1 second pause with the load still on the muscle then reverse the direction of the movement.
  • The eccentric contraction: Spend more time doing the eccentric contraction, the motion of the move that lengthens the muscle. If doing squats, this would be the downward motion that lengthens the quads. This will cause more muscle damage and encourage muscle growth.
  • Keep the intensity and the correct weight: Following the above tips but not being fatigued at the end of the set will not help you gain strength or muscle size. Keep the weight at the amount that will allow you to get out 8 – 10 reps. This is an ideal amount of reps for muscle growth. If your goal is to add as much muscle as possible keep the reps in the range of 6 – 8.
  • Form: Always execute clean form. When you get tired, don’t compromise your form. Stick it out and do what you can. When you compromise your form you are cheating and neglecting the muscles that you are supposed to be training. If the next day you feel muscle pain in another area that you didn’t train this is why.
purple and brown colored planet
Photo by Pixabay on

Intensity and speed. Follow the above guidelines and keep that intensity. Do you have to do TUT every workout? Absolutely not. Changing how we work out from mixing up the exercises you choose, mixing up the duration of the workout, incorporating different strategies such as stacking, pyramiding, etc. can bring changes quicker. This is another tool to help get you there.


Give Time Under Tension a try if you have been finding the gains haven’t been happening. And if you are finding things are becoming stagnate, the growth hasn’t been happening then maybe go back and read some of my other articles on training techniques and strategies. Muscle growth is like most things, it’s science.

Follow the correct science and the growth will happen.

Yours in health,


First I’m gonna make it

…then I’m gonna break it

Increasing muscle mass and or strength is not magic by any means, it is science. Which is great because sometimes it seems that way like we need some magical potion.  The good news is once you have an understanding of the science you can then apply it and start making the gains you are looking for, ‘these are the gains you are looking for’. Just like the title of this post (credit to Echo and the Bunnymen) first you are gonna make it and then you’re gonna break it.


Ok, yes, genetics do play a role. But we can’t change that so let’s not worry about it.

Heavy lifting

Stress: Our muscles respond to stress, stress that causes damage (breaking down) to our muscle fibers. You have probably felt this the next day after a workout when trying to use your legs after a hard leg workout and you do all you can to avoid stairs. Now, excessive muscle pain the next day or 4 days later is not good as you might have seriously damaged muscle tissue but some uncomfortableness is what you want. This then causes the body to respond and put into process different mechanisms to facilitate muscle growth if the environment is right (more on that in a bit).

Tension: Without putting a load onto your muscles you won’t see growth. And, it has to be an increasing load. If your body has already adapted to the load you are using the load is not enough. The load needs to be greater than what your body is used to. Now, this doesn’t mean that if you squatted 250lbs last time that you need to do at least the same amount the next workout, especially if that amount is new for you to squat, it means the load should be great enough that you are challenged.

Also, try to switch up how the load is applied. Your body will adapt to the same load over time and growth will not happen. This is why we increase loads. But, other things can help too such as number of sets, type of exercise, decreasing the duration of your break between sets, switching from free weights to a machine, pyramids, etc. One more thing, the amount of time the muscle is under stress also plays a role in muscle growth. People tend to rush through their routines. My god if I see one more person bouncing through their pushups I’m going to lose it, ugh. Slow down and keep clean technique and also reduce the risk of injury.

Diet: The more food you consume that is whole food and not processed the more growth you should see. Our body needs the nutrients it requires to rebuild itself from the damage we inflicted on it. Whole Foods plant based will provide your body all that it needs to repair the damage and as an added benefit you’ll feel better and have more energy. Trust me, I know. A colleague of mine switched to eating more whole foods that are plant based and he can’t believe the energy he has.

Rest: You need it although it’s not always there. Let’s talk about 2 types of rest, muscle rest and physical rest. Muscle rest refers to that you need at least 48 hours of rest after working out that muscle group. Did legs today, give your legs 48 hours off. Muscles need time to recover which means time to grow. And let’s talk about you. You need rest too. Without adequate rest you will put your body into a state of being over trained which leads to being tired, feeling run down, lack of focus, getting sick and your friends avoiding you.


Change up your workouts frequently, eat well, properly stress your muscles and rest. Science. No magic. Then sit back and watch the gains happen.

Yours in health,


I know I tried

bold and strong, waiting for the world…

It doesn’t always go the way we would like it to. We try our best, our hardest, damn it, why doesn’t this work, but the end result is not always what we want it to be, what we hope it to be. Our minds don’t function to the best of our abilities all the time. It sucks and I don’t like it. But it is my reality and I have to deal with it.

Dealing with it may mean a flood of emotions; anger, disappointment, frustration sometimes to the point that we are overwhelmed and want to walk away and forget that today ever happened. We have those days and they are defeating. Some people are so defeated that it is the end to what it was they were pursuing. That’s an unfortunately ending because although these days happen, they are not every day.

I think we need these days, some days.  I believe that ultimately we become stronger because of them. Why? Because you came back. You came back to face the same tasks that put you into that feeling of defeat. You got up and came back to better yourself. You have grown for the better. You fell down, got back up and continued. You didn’t let this moment defeat you or define you. It shouldn’t define you because it’s not a reflection of what you can do. It’s not a reflection of what you are.

Our minds although powerful do fail us and we can’t always control that. Whether it’s the time we freeze while writing a test and we know the answer but it eludes us at that time, or it’s the time we are performing and we can’t remember a sequence. We can’t control that. What we can control is what we do moving forward. We can either let those moments defeat us, win over us, or we can accept it as part of being human and dust ourselves off and give it another shot. We can grow from the experience and ultimately we become stronger than before. Do we get upset, do we get mad, do we cry? Yeah. And that’s perfectly fine. The emotions are there for a reason and they have to happen. Sometimes letting those emotions happen help us feel better, help us get back to tackling what it is that put us there. Don’t let someone tell you that you need to suck it up. Sure, move forward and try again but we need to let those emotions happen.

Those bad days are going to happen and they will happen again. The bad days don’t define you, what you do with those days, and following those days is what defines you. Know that you are not alone in this. You have company. We’ve all been there.

Yours in health,




I don’t know my right from left

Working hard and not gaining muscle? Frustrated? Thinking you’ll never gain anymore muscle? Absolutely it can be frustrating to put everything into your workout but not make any gains. It’s hopeless isn’t it. You’re going to stay at this weight forever. Unless you change what it is you are doing.


Five pounds. Five pounds of muscle in 4 weeks. How would you feel if you added five pounds of muscle onto your body? I’m thinking you’ll feel awesome and you’ll be surprised that you were able to add muscle.

It can be done. It’ll be hard work, dedication, and sticking to a schedule but I know you can do it. And the four weeks will go by so fast it won’t seem like an inconvenience at all.


So what can be done in four weeks? What needs to be done that I haven’t already been doing? Let me lay it out for you and see if you have been doing some of these things that have been negatively impacting your growth.

Reps. How many repetitions are you doing when working out? 10, 15, 20? Are you doing so many reps because you want to work harder? That’s ok, but by doing a high amount of repetitions, your body will not add the muscle you are looking to add. Instead of doing higher reps, lower the amount of reps and increase the amount of sets to add muscle. Stick between 4 to 8 reps and increase the amount of sets to 4 – 8 based on the number of sets you would like to do. Higher reps do work your muscles but it will not facilitate the adding on of muscle.

Failure. Are you stuck in the world of numbers? The program says to do 8 to 12 reps, and you get to 12 and stop. Could you have done more? Yes? Than you need to add weight so when you get to the maximum rep you are fatigued and have to reach in deep to pull off that final rep. Your muscles respond better and will grow when worked to failure.

Progression. Try to add weight every workout. It can be a small amount of weight; 2.5, 5lbs based on the activity you are doing. Let’s look at the bench press. If you are benching 100lbs, 5lbs is 5% of the weight you are currently using. The benefit is it’s a small increase, your body will respond due to working harder to work with this weight and you are making gains! If anything it’s a boost to your self esteem and could help keep you motivated.

Sleep. What is the easiest thing you can do to add muscle? Yeah, sleep. Although it’s easy to do, it may be hard to get it. But let’s try for four weeks. Shoot for 8 hours every night if you can. During sleep your body produces more human growth hormone then during the day when you are awake. This is also when your muscles are repairing from the stress you’ve put them through during your workout.

I know it can be hard to get eight hours of sleep. We have to work, than we have things we need to get done when we come home from work. And what if you can’t get to sleep? Try these things and see if it helps. Leave your electronics out of the bedroom. Just the light off of electronic devices can interfere with sleep. If you tend to snack in the evening, snack on something that is high in protein such as almond butter, peanut butter or have a protein shake. This helps to regulate your blood sugar and could lead to a deep sleep. Breathe in deeply through your nose then release by breathing out of your mouth. This should help in calming the body and mind. But there is one thing you don’t want to do, don’t stress out if you are having troubles sleeping. Stress if not released is not healthy for us as it produces cortisone, the stress hormone. We need this hormone for the fight or flight reaction when the situation calls for it but if we don’t react either way, our body will continue to produce cortisone which is detrimental to our health.

Eating. I’m going to call this the second easiest thing to do. And who doesn’t love to eat. How many calories are you consuming daily? Don’t know? You need to find out, and write it down. Keep track over a couple ‘normal’ days to see what your caloric intake is. Then add 500 calories to your day. Ideally you want to consume these calories by eating protein rich foods. Peas, quinoa, tofu are foods all high in protein. If you think about the process of adding muscle by breaking down the muscle you have, and then the body repairs the muscle adding to it, how would it do this without the adequate amount of protein? Also, if you have been maintaining the same body weight even though you are active, adding 500 calories should result in weight gain regardless. And that’s the whole idea of this post.

What you don’t want to do is snack on processed carbs. Eating processed carbs will increase your blood sugar causing your body to create more insulin to counter the increase in blood sugar which can lead to disease due to inflammation. If your 500 calories are going to be partially comprised by carbs, stick to complex carbs such as sweet potatoes, whole fruits, or whole grains.

All for $19.99

I don’t know what else to say other than that’s it. Low reps, more calories, sleep, overloading.

Four weeks. 28 days. How fast did your last four weeks go by? I’m thinking fast. Look at each day on it’s own. Live only in that day. For four weeks take each day as a separate unit. There is no tomorrow, there is only today. Then deal with tomorrow tomorrow. Then do the same. That’s all you can do. By living in each day you will find that tomorrow doesn’t matter and you will achieve what you wanted for that day. If you look too far ahead it can become overwhelming and you could lose focus.

Tomorrow will always be there.

Yours in health,