Friday, December 28, 2007

5 Ways to Get Fit in 2008

One thing that I've enjoyed since starting my blog back in August is that I've met some really cool people, who also are interested in blogging about fitness and health. One person is Mark McManus, who usually drops by and leaves a comment or two. I like Mark's writing style and his approach, so I check out his blog weekly. Well, today I came across a post that I had to share with you guys because I couldn't agree more with all of the points he makes.

See for yourself and leave the brother a comment while you're at it:

5 Ways to Get Fit in 2008

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Stay tuned for more details on MLBF's 12 week "In Search of Sandow and the Classic Male Physique" Body Transformation coming in a couple of days!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Bells Are Back . . .

As I alluded to in a previous post, one of my kettlebells was stolen from the fitness center in my apartment complex. OK, let me back up to the beginning. In May of this year, I moved from a four bedroom/two bathroom house to a two bedroom apartment. I had to sell all of my weightlifting equipment (i.e., power rack, dumbbells, benches, etc.) because I simply did not have the space. So, after reading one of Pavel's books, I became familiar with kettlebells and quickly ordered a set of 35lbers. I started using Mike Mahler's Kettlebell Solution for Fatloss and Mental Toughness DVD, especially the High Frequency Training (HFT) Double KB routine.

Following Mike's DVD, I was able to improve my technique and strength to the point that I needed to move from my 35lb KBs to a set of 54lbers. Since I live on the third floor, I decided to leave my KBs in the fitness center. Never in a million years did I expect someone to steal a 54lb. KB, but it happened! So, I was left with one 54lb KB since I gave my lighter KBs away. I decided that this would be a good time to take a break from KB training and try out bodyweight exercises wearing a weighted vest, and I'm glad that I did because now I'm going to combine both in my training.

Well, as the new year approaches, I'm happy to report that the Bells are back! No, the sorry bastard who stole my KB didn't have a change of heart and returned my shit. On the contrary, I picked up three new sets of KBs: 54s, 62s, and 70s. My previous set of 54s were from and are "obviously" really nice bells, but the shipping costs is a killer. So, now it seems that Apollo KBs has the right idea because they've opened a couple of distro centers in different parts of the country and reps are popping up everywhere. Here's a shot of my babies:

They have a smooth texture like Ader KBs, but the shape is pretty much identical to the lifeline bells. You need to use chalk with them for grip, but that's a small price to pay compared to not having to pay just as much for shipping as you do the damn KB. So, check to see if there is a distributor in your area.

As I was taking pictures of my new bells, I looked around and decided why not show you guys how much of a workout minimalist I am. OK, in addition to using my bells, I only use four other pieces of equipment. My weighted vest is at work, so I don't have a picture of it, but it's one that I picked up from Walmart for $45. Here are the other three:

Door Gym from

Ultimate Body Press & Cheap Walmart Ab Wheel

Fellas, you don't need a lot of equipment to get ripped: the closer I get to my goal the more I'm really starting to realize that. I'll give you more details in my next post, but I'm going to start a 12 week training cycle at the beginning of the year. And, I'm only going to use the KISS philosophy with only the equipment above. I'm really considering doing a video-blog; we'll see.

Anyway, 2008 is going to be the year that a reformed fat English professor is going to complete his transformation and inspire fat guys all over the world to not settle for simply losing weight or having a normal body fat %.

No, there are guys out there who have always wondered how does it feel to have a six-pack or a body of an athlete; you know who you are. Yeah, you're the guy who hears women talk about how fine or hot Brad Pitt is and wonders how does it feel to be lusted after. How does it feel for a woman to say, "Can I see your abs?". Well, even for someone who has bashfully lifted up his shirt since I have loose skin, let me tell you that it feels damn good! Listen, I don't care how much weight you have to lose; if you are the guy I'm talking about here, let me assure you of something: In every obese, overweight, or simply fat ass guy, there is a Mr. Low Body Fat waiting patiently to be unleashed . . . so, are you going to let him out?

Approximately 5 years after starting my weight loss journey, I realize now that I started off wanting to lose weight, but along the way I started to chase after what I like to call Sx3, which stands for Six pack, Shredded physique, and Strength!

Stay tuned and hold on . . .

Saturday, December 22, 2007

KISS Your Old Routines Good-bye (Addendum)

After yesterday's posting, I had one reader send me this question:

Could you suggest with your experience of how I can design my own KISS way of strength training?
Well, I'm glad that you asked because it allows me to spotlight another person whose training philosophy and methods are helping me on my journey to becoming very flexible. I encourage you to visit Paul Zaichik's Elastic Steel website for many free videos and articles. He has freakish flexibility, as you'll see from his site, but he is also a bodyweight culturists (i.e, folks who use their bodyweight as their main form of resistance in their training) who has many articles and videos on

As a matter of fact, to answer my reader's question, I've decided to post Paul's Home Workout video, which is in two parts. To do these workouts, you do not need to purchase any sort of weights or equipment. He explains, and performs, each one of the exercises. So, feel free to pause, stop, and back up the videos as needed!

Let me know what you think?

Friday, December 21, 2007

KISS Your Old Routines Good-bye

In all of my composition classes, I stress to my students to remember the KISS principle in their writings. Well, at least my take on this acronym because I tell them that KISS stands for Keep It Sweet & Simple since I really don't like calling people stupid.

It's funny because I've been teaching this for over 10 years and never really applied it to my own life until a couple of years ago. I started reading more about how it's better to learn fewer things well than many things half-assed, which I got from the strength and conditioning authors I've studied. I've tried complex split routines that you'll find in most bodybuilding magazines; however, they were so complex and had so many sets to perform that I would simply give up on them especially since my main goal was weight loss and not becoming part of the sport of bodybuilding.

I think back to the days of being the largest guy in the gym trying to look like the personal trainers who worked there. I would work my ass off just to continue looking like a walrus. What really discouraged me was that I always wanted to be able to do unassisted dips, but I couldn't press my own bodyweight. Man, my buddy would have to spot me, and I felt sorry for him because I was giving him a workout by just trying to help me. Our workouts would mainly consist of high reps of isolation exercises. Basically, we did the staples that you'll see most guys doing in the average 24 Hour Fitness or LA Fitness: bench press, preacher curls, seated military press, etc.

Well, I've now been training long enough to have worked out with machines, free weights, kettlebells, resistance bands, and bodyweight. What I've found is that using free weights causes you to fully understand how your body needs to operate as one unit. I've found that using machines, especially those that focus on isolation movements, tend to cause you to not focus on how our muscles are all connected and work together. To get the best workout, you need to focus on exercises that cause you to use more than one muscle group at a time. This will not only give you more of a calorie burn, but it will also put you well on your way to being able to control your own bodyweight, which should be one of your ultimate goals.

I use to be one of those guys that was easily impressed with how much some dude could bench press, but not anymore because I'm not into competitive bench pressing. Also, my ultimate goal is to be able to master some of the most challenging bodyweight exercises out there. For instance, I definitely respect guys that can bench upwards of 400lbs, but to see Steve Cotter do a pistol squat holding two 88lb kettlebells with perfect form is unreal. Don't believe me, check out this youtube video.

Look, if you still have a lot of body fat, why not use that extra weight to your advantage? You don't need to buy one piece of equipment because that's going to be your fat stores role for the next month and a half. Even if you have weights, I suggest that you periodically take a break and use bodyweight exercises to break up the routine or even be cycled in to your current routine. The mistake most people think is that bodyweight exercises are inferior to weighted exercises. Well, for the guys reading my blog, this does not apply to you. We'll let the athletes, martial artists, gymnasts, strength trainers, and bodybuilders continue to debate that one. For purposes of weight loss and getting lean, you can start with bodyweight exercises only!

Yes, when you do lat pull-downs, you are working your lats, but it's a totally different sensation when you are pulling/holding your own bodyweight on a chin-up bar or doing a bodyweight row. There is a difference and it is one that you need to experiment with to fully appreciate. The same goes for overhead pressing movements. If you are doing seated dumbbell military presses, try doing them standing up. You don't have to worry about hurting your lower back if you lock out your knees by pulling your knee caps up, squeezing your glutes, and tensing your abs as if you're bracing for a blow in the gut. These muscles will help you to be tight enough to form a natural corset protecting your lower back. Also, why sit on your ass when you can use it to help save your lower back?

For more about bodyweight routines or getting strong and ripped without using weights, you should check out the following author's sites:

  • Power by Pavel (check for the Naked Warrior book)
  • Ross Training (He just came out with a new DVD and training manual. This guy is incredible!)
  • Mike Mahler (Mike is not only one of the strongest vegans you'll meet, he also has various articles on his site about bodyweight training.)
  • Steve Cotter (This guys is just unreal. His Encylopedia of Kettlebell exercises 1&2 are hands down two of the top KB videos out on the market. Also, he has a series on bodyweight exercises that is just as good.)
  • Steve Maxwell (Steve's new website is under construction, but you can pick up his new Pullup DVD here.)
  • John Peterson (one of the major modern day promoters of isometrics and be sure to visit his transfometrics site too)
  • Bodyweight Culture (I think the name speaks for itself. Great website!)
  • Bodyweight Basics (Another great site for bodyweight exercises)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Do You Really Have A Slow Metabolism?

I think one of the biggest myths about weight loss is that overweight/obese folks have a slow metabolism. Hell, I use to claim this one all the time back in the day. It simply made sense to me. The majority of my family is overweight, so I just accepted the fact that I was genetically coded to be fat and cursed with a tortoise-like metabolism. Much like the whale in the comic strip, I just didn't fully understand why I couldn't lose weight.

Fellas, I know that you have read books, articles, and even other blog posts about how to speed up your slow metabolism for weight loss, blah, blah, blah. There's so much confusion out there simply because most big boys simply take somebody else's word for how to lose weight. Many of us simply want to be told what to eat and how to exercise without any active role on our part. Well, it's time to ditch the "easy" way of thinking and passively sitting by while your girth increases.

Well, today is the day that you are going to eliminate one of the most repeated weight loss myths from your bag-o-weight loss tricks. First, metabolism is a word that is thrown around as if most people really understand what it is. Wikipedia, one of my favorite sites, defines metabolism as the set of chemical reactions that occur in living organisms in order to maintain life. These processes allow organisms to grow and reproduce, maintain their structures, and respond to their environments. You can read the rest of the definition and sub-categories here, but for purposes on this post, the first two sentences will be more than enough.

So, another way of looking at your body's metabolism is that it is the sum total of all of the daily activities that your body carries out on all levels (e.g., cellular, etc.). Usually when one talks about revving up your metabolism, they focus mainly on affecting one part of the Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) equation. It's important that you understand what makes up your TDEE because it will make it abundantly clear that the notion of fat guys having a slow metabolism is a big fat lie!

OK, here's the equation: TDEE = Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) + Thermic Effect of Food (TEF) + Voluntary Physical Activity (PAL). OK, your RMR is determined by your age, gender, height, and current weight. This accounts for 75% of your total TDEE and is comprised of all the bodily processes that need to be fueled; this, of course, includes fueling ALL organs such as the brain, kidney, lungs, liver, heart and kidneys to name a few. Also included in RMR are the energy it takes to power you skeletal muscles. Next, it does require energy for the body to process the food that we eat; however, TEF only accounts for 6-10% of your TDEE, so it's not really that significant of a factor. Please remember this the next time you hear someone telling you that you burn a lot of calories digesting your food; it's simply not true.

So, we have roughly 80 - 85% of your TDEE that you have no direct control over. What you can control is the 15-20% that's generated by your PAL, which is usually broken down into structured physical activity, such as following a workout routine, and unstructured physical activity, such as taking the steps instead of the elevator or parking farther away from the front door of the mall.

Alright, enough with the scientific mumbo-jumbo, let's start making sense out of all this. OK, the man in the street believes that he is overweight because he has a slow metabolism. The logic usually goes like this: fat folks must have a slow metabolism because of the extra weight, lack of exercise, and overeating. Oh, and not to mention that many thin people (who have a "fast" metabolism) can eat whatever they want and not gain weight. Well, I hate to break this news to you guys, but it is impossible for a thin person to have a faster, or should I say higher TDEE. It's really simple; your body requires more energy to move around a larger body, but that's only half the story.

Remember that your RMR represents all of the bodily processes that happens on a daily basis, except the little energy required to digest your food (i.e., TEF). The organs I named above represent 60-80% of your total RMR! This means that while skeletal muscles represent 30-50% of total bodyweight, they only represent 20-25% of your RMR. Organs, especially the brain, require many more calories per gram of weight than muscles.

You still with me fellas? Cool.

Now, let's think about what we've gone over to see if fat folks do actually have a slow metabolism. When you gain weight, you don't just gain fat. You also gain lean body mass (i.e., bones, tissues, organs, etc.). The body is all about adaptation. As you gain weight, your body also creates more muscle tissue to help move the heavier body around. The heart and most of the other organs also grow, which only makes sense. Do you really think that the heart in a 180lb. man is the same size as one in a 350lb. man? Of course not; that's like putting a 4 cylinder engine in a Ford Excursion. Organs have to increase in size to accommodate carrying out their processes for the new heavier body. This is why larger bodies require more calories, and, therefore, a faster metabolism.

Well, what affects RMR? I'm glad you asked:

  • the number of calories consumed a day
  • changes in bodyweight (especially body fat %)
  • when daily calories drop below 1200, big drops in RMR occurs
  • ECA Stack (ephedera, caffiene, aspirin)
So guys, if you can't see your feet while standing or you use your navel to line up the toilet when you take a leak, trust me on this one: you don't have a slow metabolism and are not condemned to live the rest of your life being as big as a whale.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

My Daily Diet

Thank you to those of you who participated in my last poll. Well, I'm afraid that, like my workout routine, my diet is very simple. I mainly consume fresh cuts of meat, eggs, fresh green veggies, canned tuna (occasionally), nuts, and seeds. I eat shredded cheeses since I am, like most folks, lactose intolerant. I consume between 60 - 100 grams of carbs a day, and they mainly come from the veggies and nuts that I eat.

I don't eat grass fed meats or organic veggies. I shop at the local market and understand the arguments. I plan on growing my veggies hydroponically as soon as the new LED grow lights are available. I'll harvest my white button and portabella mushrooms in another week or so. I guess I'm really a gardener at heart.

I'm going to look into buying more grass fed beef; nevertheless, you can achieve serious results eating foods from the your local market that may not be the best or most healthiest of choices. I try to get my blood work done every six months, and I just received a thumbs up from my doctor's office the other day.

As far as supplements go, I take fish oil, CoQ10, a simple multi-vitamin/mineral, and an all natural energy supplement that Dr. Ellis sells, XCellR8. I would say that I drink 90% of my liquid intake is water, and I occasionally drink a diet soda (Coke Zero ain't too bad). Lately, I've found myself drinking low-carb Rockstar energy drinks to give me an extra boost, especially on my 45 minute commute each way to and from work!

One thing I do want to point out is that I have had adverse results from following a ketogenic diet, 20g or less of carbs per day, and working out 4-6 days a week using mainly resistance training. I found that my muscles were flat and that my limbs felt really heavy. Not only did I feel over-trained, but I was pretty lethargic as well. Now that I consume post-workout carbs and keep my carb intake at a level that keeps me out of ketosis, I find that I feel much more energetic and for the first time I think I understand what they mean by your muscles feeling full or having their glycogen stores replenished.

Nevertheless, the most important part of my daily diet is that I count my calories because you must create a calorie deficit if you want to lose weight, regardless of diet composition. So, even thought I follow a low-carb/paleo style diet, I do so because it keeps me full and helps me to retain more of my lean mass than following a low-fat or so-called balanced diet.

Well there you have it. No mysterious herbs or secret food combinations. Just basic calorie counting coupled with a diet that focuses on eating whole and fresh foods at least 80% of the time. Feel free to write me if you have any further questions about my diet or weight loss:

Monday, December 3, 2007

Mr. Low Body Fat Goes Green!

Well, it seems that everyone is goin' green nowadays, so why shouldn't I? Actually, this has been something that I've been researching for over two years now before I made the leap. One thing that my readers will eventually learn about me is that I have an eclectic approach to life in general, and I'm interested in a too many things to begin to name. And, the picture on the left is just another subject that piqued my curiosity.

Yes, I'm filling my 84 Mercedes 300 Turbodiesel with Mazola 100% Corn Oil. You should've seen my neighbor's face when I took this picture.

What most people don't know is that when Dr. Rudolph Diesel patented his engine in 1892, it was made to run off of peanut oil. So, I guess it's safe to assume that saving the planet or using renewable sources of energy is not that new of an idea after all. For more information about Dr. Diesel and his engine, check out this Howstuffworks article.

A couple of weeks ago, I had my "hooptie" converted to run off of used or waste vegetable oil (which has been heavily filtered), biodiesel, regular diesel, straight (or new) vegetable oil, or any mixture of the four. Out here in California, many people are starting to convert their diesel cars, especially the 300 series MBZ from 1978 - 1985. These cars are perfect candidates for "veggie conversion", as it's affectionately called, because of the 5 cylinder engine that has the fuel injected directly into the engine block. To get my car to run off of veggie oil, my good friends, Gonzalo and Rodolfo, at Star European Inc. installed a Lovecraft biodiesel conversion kit.

How it works is not that difficult to understand. Unlike biodiesel, which can be used in any diesel engine without a conversion kit, used and new vegetable oils' viscocity is too thick. To solve this problem, they installed new glow plugs (diesel engines don't use spark plugs--see article above), a new heating element (to heat the vegetable oil before it's injected into the engine), and a heavy duty filter (pictured on the right).

So far, I have run soybean and corn oil in my car with no loss in horsepower or performance. Actually, the engine runs more quiet with veggie oil than it does using diesel! Also, the days of black and smelly smoke coming out of the tailpipe are over. They've been replaced by the faint scent of burned popcorn or whatever was cooked in the used oil.

Although diesel engines, unlike gasoline engines, don't contribute to global warming through greenhouse effects, they do, when using regular diesel, contribute to acid rain and smog. Now that I've converted to veggie oil, I can proudly drive around knowing that my car causes no more pollution than the fryers in fast food restaurants; also, I don't need to rely on foreign oil. More importantly, for a cheap bastard like yours truly, I can get used veggie oil delivered to my home for $2.38/gallon--that's more than a dollar and some change less than what regular diesel is going for these days. If I feel like being very adventourous, I can go and collect used veggie oil from restaurants and filter it myself, which means that I would be paying $0.00/gallon. So, not only am I doing my part to help the environment, but I'm saving a lot of money too.

Like her owner, she only gets better (and stronger) with age!