The Perfect Split

What is the perfect workout split? This age old debate between lifters has raged on for centuries, with no foreseeable end in sight. Truthfully, there is no “best” training split overall. However, there is absolutely a best training split for you based on your goals, previous experiences, training preferences, and schedule. I’ve broken down the most common workout splits below to help you choose the perfect training split for your goals.

Terms to Know:

  • Frequency: # of training sessions per week
  • Volume: total amount of work (sets and reps) done in each training session
  • Intensity: Amount of physical power exerted
  • Hypertrophy: Muscle Growth

 

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“The Bro Split”

No, I’m not talking about the “curl bro” split of bench, biceps, and nothing else (definitely not legs). I’m talking about a true bodybuilding style bro split, in which one trains four days per week, training different muscle groups each day. Though some argue that hitting each muscle group once per week is too little frequency, this is not necessarily the case. It’s important to remember that any rowing exercise is hitting your biceps along with your back, and bench press will work your triceps and front delts at the same time as your chest. Therefore, while each muscle group will only be isolated once per week, they will be involved many times throughout the week given proper exercise selection. For example, deadlifting on back day allows you to work your legs twice during the week while keeping the focus of that day on your back. This increased frequency will hinder recovery slightly, but with only one day of intense work per muscle group per week, recovery should not be a significant issue. The Bro Split has two main options:

  • Bro Split A:
    • Chest/Triceps
    • Back/Biceps
    • Legs
    • Shoulders
  • Bro Split B:
    • Chest/Biceps
    • Back/Triceps
    • Legs
    • Shoulders

In order to decide between these, it is important to note your weak points. If you are looking to work on your back more than your biceps, I’d recommend bro split as it allows you to train your back to exhaustion, before your biceps have been isolated that week. However, if you are trying to catch your biceps up to your back, isolating them when they are at full strength may be the most beneficial. The order of the days can be mixed up as well. If you’re struggling with your squats, you should probably hit them before you deadlift, moving leg day before back day. Your schedule can also come into play as some will train a bro split Monday-Thursday, while others will split their 4 days throughout the week. The bro split is a great choice for those chasing gains, that allows for adequate rest and personalization.

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First Gympressions: A Judgement-Free Gym

No one is judging you. I know, I know, it sounds crazy. Of course, everyone must be judging you, you’re the newbie in the gym and they can all sense that right? Wrong. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but that was my own honest thought process when I first started working out. I didn’t have any idea what I was doing, and there wasn’t an ounce of muscle on me. How could anyone not judge me? Well, the truth of the matter is that 99% of people are too worried about their own workouts to even pay attention to you. The other one percent are just insecure people who are so worried about judging others that they’ll never make any progress of their own. Pay no attention to them, because you’ll pass them up within the year anyway.

You may feel like you don’t belong near some of the ripped, muscular beasts in your gym, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Anyone who has made that much progress relates to you more than you’d expect. You see, even these people who have been working out for quite a while remember their first day in the gym better than you may think. To reach that level of fitness requires absolute determination and a crazy level of consistency. In order to remain this consistent, there must be a deeply personal and meaningful source of motivation for them. Be it feeling like they needed to gain muscle or lose weight, there was likely a point in time when they hated the way that they looked and felt. This need for self-improvement still lives in them to some extent or else they wouldn’t still be in the gym. What I’m trying to say is that they still think of themselves as someone looking to improve, and they still remember being completely unhappy with how they looked and felt about themselves. Knowing all of this, how could they possibly be judging you? They’re not judging because they were in your shoes not too long ago, and they likely picture that memory every single time they workout as motivation to keep progressing.

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You Might Be a Gym-Bro If…

1. You own more Tank Tops than t-shirts.

It’s okay bro, just try and aim for that 50/50 ratio.

2. You refer to days by the body part you’re training rather than their actual name.

Just call Monday, “Monday.” We all know it’s International Chest Day too.

3. Your wardrobe is mostly made up of free giveaway shirts that you got from Bodybuilding.com orders and expos.

Honestly… same. They’re free.

4. You’d rather die than miss a workout.

I support this wholeheartedly. Respect the dedication.

5. You know everyone who works at the gym’s front desk by name.

Yeah, you might spend too much time there, but look at all of the friends you made!

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What’s the Best Rest Time for You?

One of the most commonly debated questions between gym-goers is “what is the best amount of time to rest between sets?” You’ll often hear powerlifters saying that it takes 2-5 minutes to fully recover from a set, while bodybuilders will argue that anything over 1-2 minutes is just wasting time. Endurance athletes and those chasing extreme fat loss goals may argue for as little as 15-30 seconds of rest! With all of these conflicting ideas, it can be extremely difficult to decipher between fact and fiction. This article is here to help you sort through the broscience and figure out the best rest time for you!

So who’s right? Truthfully, all of them are right! There is no real optimal rest time for overall fitness. However, there is definitely an optimal rest time for each person depending on their current goals. Check below for more information on the optimal rest time to help you reach your goals!

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Intermittent Fasting: What You Need To Know

Intermittent fasting is a popular dieting technique that has been around for years. About two years ago the hype surrounding intermittent fasting blew up due to its promotion by several internet fitness celebrities such as the Hodge twins, and the diet has remained popular ever since. However, as many of you know, popular does not necessarily mean effective. Data is often exaggerated or misinterpreted by companies looking to sell products. It is essential to do extensive research before starting any diet in order to minimize health issues and maximize results. However, some of you may not even be familiar with this diet so before we get into what the research says, let’s first discuss what intermittent fasting even is!

Intermittent fasting is a dieting technique which involves fasting (ingesting no calories) for a specific period of time, and then consuming all of your calories during your “feeding window.” The most popular, and most studied, form of intermittent fasting is 16/8, meaning a 16 hour fast followed by an 8-hour feeding window. As difficult as this sounds, remember that you are sleeping for 6-8 of these fasted hours. Still, why would you want to limit your eating to an 8 hour period? The most common reason people choose intermittent fasting is its “fat-burning effects.” At the end of the day, a calorie is a calorie, regardless of when it is consumed. That does not mean that intermittent fasting is useless for fat loss, however. In order to fully understand the purpose of intermittent fasting, let’s take a look at all of its potential benefits, as well as the studies that this data comes from.

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TheFitExpo’s Hardcore Leg Day Routine

If you’re one of the people who skips leg day most weeks, this workout isn’t for you. This workout is for the people who kill their leg days week in and week out, and are looking for a new challenge. This program is designed to not only challenge your muscles, but to challenge your heart, your willpower, and your mental fortitude. It is not an easy workout by any means, but the results are definitely worth it. We’ll be relying on a mix of high and low rep ranges, varying rest times, and multiple different exercises to train your legs from all angles. The reasoning behind each exercise selection is broken down below, with the complete workout routine at the end of the article.

Warm-up: Begin by foam rolling any spots that feel tight, then warm up with a few minutes on the exercise bike to get some blood pumping through your legs. 1-2 minutes of bodyweight walking lunges followed by 2-3 sets of bodyweight back extensions are very helpful to prepare for leg day. If wish to perform other additional warm-up exercises that you have found helpful in the past, do them here. Whatever you do, don’t jump straight into this workout without a warm-up. Especially on leg day, skipping your warm-up is a recipe for disaster.

Exercise #1: Front Squats

Front squats are a very effective, yet very underutilized exercise. Regular back squats may be substituted if you are uncomfortable performing front squats, but remember that the point of this workout is to get outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. Give yourself a few warm-up sets before you reach your working weight, eventually working up to a weight that you can do for 4 sets of 6-8 reps. While this lower rep range won’t jack up your heart rate the way that higher rep ranges do, higher intensity resistance training leads to greater boost in EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), resulting in more calories burned throughout the day. (1) We’ll be performing these front squats before deadlifts because while it is difficult to deadlift with tired quads, it is much harder to try and squat with an already exhausted lower back.

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IIFYM: What You Need to Know

Today we’ll be discussing the popular form of dieting known as “if it fits your macros” or “IIFYM” for short. Some people love it, some people hate it, but what does science say?

First, let’s break down exactly what IIFYM is. IIFYM (also known as flexible dieting) relies on the tracking of the three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. These are called macronutrients because you need to consume them in large quantities. Micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, trace elements, amino acids, etc.) conversely, are only needed in trace amounts. Optimally, IIFYM also includes tracking your micros, though this is often mistakenly overlooked by IIFYMers.

IIFYM generally starts with the calculation of your BMR (basal metabolic rate) to determine your total calories burned at rest during a day. There are many online calculators that will do this calculation for you such as this one (https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/bmr_calculator.htm). This gives a starting place for determining your optimal macronutrient intake. Tracking your macronutrient intake also allows for indirect tracking of calories as each macronutrient has its own caloric value. 1g of protein = 4 kcal, 1g of carbohydrate =4 kcal, and 1g of fat =9 kcal. It should also be noted that 1 g of alcohol = 7 kcal. Therefore, tracking your intake of protein, fats, carbs, and alcohol allows for you to indirectly track your total calories for the day as well.

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Once you’ve figured out your BMR, you can add or subtract calories based on goals, activity level, and current diet. If looking to gain weight you will need to eat more calories than you burn through your BMR+exercise. Fat loss occurs when you eat less kcal than you burn through your BMR+exercise. It is important not to make too drastic of cuts however in order to see continuous, long-term progress. This calculator (https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/macronutcal.htm) will help to determine your optimal daily caloric intake.

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Post-Workout Nutrition

Most people are at least somewhat familiar with the importance of post-workout nutrition, yet few truly know what to eat in order to optimize recovery after a workout. Optimal recovery will allow you to get back in the gym sooner and hit your next workout harder. As many of you may know, anabolism (muscle-building) does not actually occur in the gym. In fact, training is generally catabolic (causes muscle breakdown)! Muscle-building actually occurs during the recovery period, making proper post-workout nutrition essential for gaining muscle. This article will discuss how you can make the most of your post-workout meal so that you can recover more quickly and keep chasing gains!

Muscle-building occurs from an increase in muscle protein synthesis (or mps for short). One of the main factors responsible for increases in mps is the mTOR pathway. Proper post-workout nutrition should seek to stimulate mTOR for optimal results. mTOR is stimulated exercise, insulin, and the consumption of leucine. (1) Obviously, exercise has already been completed before your post-workout meal. Insulin is released after carbs are consumed and leucine can be consumed through protein or BCAA supplementation. These stimulatory factors are discussed in greater detail below.

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Surviving Your Memorial Day Barbecue: 5 Tips to Help Keep Your Diet in Check

It’s almost Memorial Day, and you know what that means! Barbecues! But, for all of the fun that barbecues can be, they can wreak havoc on your diet. For those of us trying to get (or keep) our bodies looking good for summer, this can lead to all kinds of stress. While a good diet is essential to reaching your goals, one day won’t kill you if you keep your diet somewhat in check. Not only is it difficult to track every single gram of protein, fat, and carbs in the many homemade dishes being served, it’s awkward and you don’t want to become “that guy.” So how do you balance the stress of sticking to your diet and not freaking out when you deviate from it slightly? You compromise. Following the tips below, you’ll be able to eat as closely to your diet as possible without having to bring those dreaded Tupperware containers of chicken and broccoli to your Memorial Day BBQ. If you start to get stressed that you’ve gone too far off of your diet, remember that Memorial Day only comes once a year. Be mindful of what you’re eating but don’t stress!

Tip #1: Eat Your Burgers Without Buns

If your normal daily carbohydrate allowance lets you have the bread, go for it. For many of us who are eating low-carb diets, however, these buns are sure to send our carbs way over our daily allowance. This is why eating burgers without the buns is an easy way to stick closely to your diet. When it comes down to it, burgers are not that much different than the chicken breasts that many eat on the daily. There’s some extra fat for sure, but calories are still significantly lower than they would be for a burger with a bun. It’s an easy change that cuts out a ton of unnecessary calories!

Tip #2: Stay Away From the Pasta Salad

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Top 5 Pre-Workout Ingredients

There’s a lot more to a good pre-workout supplement than just a caffeine boost! Pre-workouts can help to boost muscle protein synthesis (mps), endurance, strength, pump, energy, even help to limit muscle soreness. Listed below in no particular order, are 5 of the top pre-workout ingredients on the market. If you’re looking to take your results to the next level, read on to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your pre-workout.

  1. Beta-alanine

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Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that is taken up by muscle fibers where it will combine with histidine to create carnosine. Carnosine helps to buffer metabolic waste such as lactic acid, resulting in increased endurance, strength, power, and recovery. (1) The wide variety of proven benefits offered by beta-alanine make it a top pre-workout ingredient for anyone looking to boost their performance in the gym. Optimal dosage ranges from 2-5 g. (2) Some people prefer to split up these doses due to the tingling sensation (called paresthesia) that is often caused by taking large doses of beta-alanine. Don’t worry though, this is a harmless side effect that some people actually enjoy.

  1. Citrulline Malate

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Citrulline Malate (or L-Citrulline Malate) is simply the amino acid citrulline bonded to malic acid. Citrulline is one of the premiere pump-inducing ingredients on the market. A majority of arginine consumed is broken down by the liver long before it can cause an increase in NO levels (and give you a pump). Citrulline, however, bypasses the liver and is then converted to arginine within the body, and eventually to NO. In fact, citrulline has been shown to boost blood arginine levels more than citrulline itself! (3) Though L-Citrulline can provide great pumps on its own, combining citrulline with malate also provides the ATP boosting benefits of malate which helps to generate more ATP through the Krebs cycle to give you more energy. (4) Optimal dosage for L-citrulline itself is about 1-3 grams, while doses of citrulline malate should be about 6 grams in order to provide you with a full dose of L-citrulline (5). Also, look for citrulline-malate in a 2:1 ratio, meaning that there are 2 molecules of citrulline bonded to each molecule of malate, for optimal dosing.

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