Friday Finisher 1.0

Friday Finisher 1.0

  • 50 Front Squats

  • 50 High Pulls

  • 100 Back Squats

  • 100 RDLs

These went in order from “hardest” to “easiest”.

The Front squats are the hardest to keep form in since they really challenge upper body position as well as leg and core strength.

Then the High Pulls are explosive but a relatively strong movement for me. Since they are so dynamic I am putting them second.

The Back Squat is much stronger than the Front and much less postural demanding. So I doubled the reps. That makes sense…

Finish up with RDLs. These are one of my strongest lifts. My hamstrings were still pretty sore for 4 days though…

Enjoy!

Hill Sprints

Sprinting is an awesome form of exercise. There are few things that feel better than flying down the track or up a hill (or wherever you like to sprint).  All other sounds are drowned out by the wind rushing by your ears and the sound of your feet.

But as we get older and busier we tend to start choosing slower forms of running, or even stop all together. And moving fast should really be a capacity we hold on to for as long as possible.

Sprinting in itself has a lot to offer: increased cardiovascular health, increased strength in the glutes and hamstrings, increased muscular coordination, decreased body fat,  and increasing general “in shape-ness”.

The main drawback is an increased risk of injury, especially for people just returning to sprinting. Typically a result of weak hamstrings and glutes, the risk of hamstring strain is high unless a smart progression is used.

Hill sprints or stadium sprints are probably the safest form of sprinting for several reasons.

1) You can’t go as fast since you’re fighting gravity more than usual. 

2) Stride length is shorter which reduces hamstring lengthening.

3) There is less impact on the joints.

Combine hills with a great warm up protocol and you should be well on your way to getting faster, leaner,  healthier and more fit.


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Progress

Progress is what we are really after, right? That’s why we are exercising and eating healthy. To get better at something.

But progress needs to be earned and you do so by paying attention to a few different things. Improved form, more reps, more weight, more speed, and workout density. Improving any one of these things means you are moving in the right direction.

Form. Beginners should place more emphasis on improving form as the first level of progression. Strive to improve technique and control of a weight through a full range of motion. The weight used should still be challenging but the focus shouldn’t be on adding load until the form is dialed in.

Weight. After form is set putting more focus on adding weight will lead to the most strength gain. Over the course of weeks, months, and years (yeah, it takes a long time) try to steadily increase the amount of weight you are able to lift. Don’t rush it, there’s no need to force weights you aren’t ready for. But work hard.

Reps. If you can lift the same weight for more reps than you used to, you have gotten stronger. This is another great way to tangibly notice you are improving.

Speed. Sometimes a certain weight is a real grinder to get up. If you can move that weight with more speed you have gotten stronger.

Density. If you can finish the same amount of work in a shorter time, or more work in the same amount of time, you have gotten more fit. This might mean you are stronger too. Try removing some some of the rest period during your workout while doing the same number of reps and sets to improve the training density.

There are a bunch of ways to progress in your workouts. Each one takes a lot of hard work though. Take note of what you do in each workout. Write it down and improve upon that performance next time. Progress.

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Post Workout Nutrition

The post workout window turns out to be more like a post workout barn door. At least that’s the term the researchers used to describe it.

It used to be thought that without a meal immediately after the workout that a lot of the benefit of the workout and usefulness of the food that came later was wasted. Muscle wouldn’t grow and the food you ate later would more likely turn to fat.

Well it looks like that isn’t true. What the researchers found was not that surprising if you think about it. If you get the right amount of food, over the course of the whole day, you’ll be just fine. That nutrition strategy may not be completely optimal but meal timing only accounts for about 5% (or less) of diet results.

That 5% is still there for people who are otherwise dialed in though. Especially for people who have another training session or competition soon after, timing becomes more important for recovery. For these people shoot for a 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein to start and adjust as needed based on how you do.

For most people newer to dieting shoot to get 30-40 grams of protein soonish after your workout. If you’re having a whole food meal have most of your carbs for the day in this meal. The grams of carbs can vary a ton based on individual needs so it’s harder to give an easy number.

Summary: if all your other diet pieces are in place then focus on getting the post workout meal in quickly. If you’re still working on getting your diet cleaned up and where you need it to be, don’t worry about the timing so much. Instead focus on getting the calories and protein, carbs, fats all at the level they need to be.


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Some important things to know about how fat loss works.

Losing fat only works by creating a calorie deficit. That means you need to eat fewer calories than you burn. There are things that help with that, and things that hurt. 

By creating a deficit your body needs to come up with the energy to keep you moving and living and it turns out that fat stores are a great deposit of energy. So using theoretical numbers, say you eat 1500 calories each day and burn a total of 2000 a day. That 500 calorie difference will come from fat stores. And over the course of a week, that 500kcal/day deficit will result in a pound of fat lost.

Now, we have a few different ways of burning calories. First we have our BMR, or Basal Metabolic Rate. This is the amount of calories we burn simply by being alive. This is the energy that our internal organs run on. It powers our immune system and healing processes and all the little things we don’t have to think about. You would burn this amount by just sitting on the couch all day long.

Next we have NEAT. Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. This is just the number of calories burned through activity. Cleaning the house, taking a walk, shopping, fidgeting, etc., etc. This might be the most important number to consider in long term weight loss success. This is why you seen so many experts advocating for increased overall activity levels each day. The number of calories used by being highly active can be rather high.

Then we have workouts. Usually calorie burn from workouts is drastically over-estimated. I just did an absolutely killer workout, I weigh over 200 pounds, and I was working hard for about 70 minutes…and I burned 500 calories according to my Apple Watch. For a lot of people, that amount of effort would seemingly burn way more than 500 calories. And increasing the time and difficulty of your workouts will eventually bite you. There’s only so much you can truly recover from. So relying on workouts as the primary way of creating a deficit will almost always let you down. This is why you hear the phrase “You can’t out train a bad diet.”

The benefit of training lies in increasing your abilities, rather than simply burning calories. Getting stronger. Increasing health of everything from your joints to your heart and brain. Increasing your fitness, which is becoming better a specific exercise tasks like running or biking or moving some kind of weight more efficiently.

Now, let’s take those hypothetical numbers from before. Say you have maxed out your day and burned through 2000kcal. Your BMR is pretty constant, you’re being highly active and you’re getting your workout in. That totals 2000kcal and doing more exercise/activity will negatively impact your recovery, so that’s not really an option. Do you know how easy it is to eat 2000kcal? Go measure out a proper tablespoon of peanut butter, like with a real measuring spoon. That’s nearly 100 calories by itself. And who in the world actually eats that amount of peanut butter?? Calories can add up QUICKLY.

This is why controlling your diet is so important for fat loss. You can have a MUCH greater impact on how many calories you bring in than you can on the calories you burn. 

And you don’t have to live forever in a calorie deficit. I hope you can see from all this writing that a calorie deficit is used for a specific purpose. Once you reach your goal you can then transition to eating at a maintenance level where you neither lose nor gain weight. 

There is a ton of nuance to all this, of course. And figuring out what works FOR YOU will determine the amount of success you see. But essentially fat loss success is going to come down to the things listed here. 

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What’s needed and what’s helpful for a workout.

What things do you absolutely need for a workout?

  1. Your body.

What things make a workout better and/or more effective?

  1. Supportive clothing.

  2. A gym, if you like that kind of thing.

  3. A sand bag if you like being outside.

  4. A good pair of running shoes for harder surfaces.

  5. Progression. It’s no good endlessly doing the same thing.

  6. Progression. You have to add challenge as you improve.

  7. A plan. Randomly throwing stuff at the wall gets inconsistent results.

  8. A goal. 

  9. A community of people that supports you.

  10. A coach to help guide the way.


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What's Needed and What’s Helpful for Weight Loss

What things do you absolutely need to be successful with weight loss?

  1. To eat fewer calories than you burn.

  2. The ability to stick with No. 1 consistently for a while.

  3. A bit of toughness to get through the times that are hard.

Thats about it. But there are also some things that make weight loss (and fat loss specifically) better.

  1. Enough protein to build and hold muscle.

  2. Resistance Training, to build and hold muscle.

  3. Metabolic/Cardio, for a number of health benefits.

  4. A meal plan to help guide you when you feel lost.

  5. A community that supports you.

  6. Eating vegetables to help with hunger and for health.

  7. Lots of activity, as outlined in a previous post.

  8. Coffee, to stave off hunger and be a better person

  9. A “why”. The better your “why” the better your effort.

  10. A coach to help guide the way with all of this… 


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Hydration

One of the fastest ways to negatively impact your workout performance is to let dehydration creep in.

Ideally you would have around 20 ounces of water a couple hours prior to your workout, then sip on water as desired throughout the workout. If you have done these things you shouldn’t be parched after the workout, but probably shoot for 20 ounces within an hour or two after the workout ends. Remember, you’re shooting for roughly half your body weight in ounces of water per day, so this protocol puts a pretty good dent in that number.

If you workout first thing in the morning it’s super important to hydrate as soon as you wake up. Sleeping 7-9 hours (you are, right?) will dehydrate you to some extent. Breathing and sweat over that length of time can mean a fairly significant amount of water loss. Even if you don’t “feel” dehydrated, you most likely are. Drink the water anyway. 

If your workout or event lasts ~80 minutes or more or you are someone that sweats A LOT some sort of electrolyte drink might be warranted. Gatorade makes a lower sugar version these days thats pretty good. They taste good and have the electrolytes to help, plus a bit of carbs to help fuel your crazy workout.

There’s also no need to OVER-hydrate. Drinking excessive amounts of water won’t enhance performance, and will likely make performance worse. Stick to realistic amounts.

This is pretty low hanging fruit for workout performance. Don’t let something so easy to address stand in your way.

Diet and Exercise Complement Each Other

One of the reasons combining a good diet and a good training program is effective is because those two things end up working synergistically. Studies have shown many times that combining a good diet with exercise produces better results than either of them alone. 

But the physiological response is not what I’m talking about. 

When getting going on and dedicating yourself to a workout plan it’s often much easier to stick with a diet plan. And it’s the same the other way around. 

It makes logical sense too. Sticking to a diet usually makes people feel pretty good. You’re getting away from over eating and focusing on lighter fare. That means fewer food comas and less lethargy. That makes it a whole lot easier to feel like doing a workout. 

Doing a good workout makes you feel like you are working to accomplish something (and you are). And working hard gives you a sense of pride. That helps you want to support your hard work with a good diet. 

It’s all a positive feedback loop. And it feels really good to make good progress. 

Of course there needs to be a wary eye for things that might interfere. But a single missed workout or off plan meal won’t disrupt real progress. If something trips you up, shrug it off, get back to the plan and keep that momentum going.