Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What Workout Style Is Right For You

People ask me a lot what my workout program is like, and I could tell them, but is it the best program for them? Does my program fit their needs, goals, lifestyle and time available? What if I’m on a bulking program, and they want to lose weight?

Have you ever been confused at what to do when you go to the gym? Has that confusion ever prevented your from going to the gym because you feel like you are just doing random exercises and wasting your time? Most of us have been in this position before. You want to workout and exercise; maybe you even know how to do a lot of different exercises, but you don’t know how to put it all together.

Are you one of these people that go to the gym, watches what somebody does that you want to look like, and then follows along after them doing the same exercises? Seems like a good idea right??? Well it might not be. You don’t know what else they are doing, what their nutrition or cardio is like, or how long it took them to get to the point that they are at.

Ever guy I know wants to have big double peeked biceps! But if you have a body fat percentage over about 9 or 10% your not lean enough to see a lot of the biceps definition, so does it make sense for you to do 5 different biceps exercise??

Basically I see people at the gym all the time that are over weight and out of shape doing bodybuilding style workouts. Last time I check doing a standing biceps curl, resting 60 seconds (or let’s be honest most people rest almost 2 minutes unless they are timing themselves), and repeating the movement doesn’t burn a whole lot of calories, but that’s what I see out of shape people doing all the time. Most people just don’t know any better. They just do what they see everyone else doing, or what the read in a magazine (add 2 inches to your biceps with this revolutionary biceps workout!!!!.....blah blah blah). People need to find the right fit for their goals, needs, and level of fitness.

There are 3 styles of working out that I like, and think fit the needs for most people’s goals. There are also many adaptations to these trying styles.

They are:

Bodybuilding style- split routines
Circuit training
Cross fit style training

Now let’s not forget the importance of diet and cardio, but I’m not going to take the time to go into those two aspects right now. Let’s just say that without the proper diet and the right amount of cardio you will have a hard time reaching your goals.

Bodybuilding style

This is probably the most popular workout style out there, and for good reason. The bodybuilding style workout is what is most often published in the workout magazines, which is where most people get their workout information from. But also the bodybuilding style of working out is very effective! I wouldn’t say it is effective program for beginners, but for more advanced lifters it can be a great way to make size and strength gains.

A typical bodybuilding workout split may look something like this.

Day 1: chest

Day 2: legs

Day3: rest (which always means cardio day)

Day4: back

Day 5: arms

Day 6: shoulders

Day 7: rest

Or some chose to split the workouts up like this:

Day 1: Chest/ Tris

Day2: Legs

Day 3: rest

Day 4: back/bis

Day 5: Shoulders (possible second leg day)

Day 6: rest or shoulders depending on if day 5 was a second leg day

Day 7: rest

Those are just 2 examples out of many different possibilities of how to split up workouts. One way is not better than another way in my opinion. This style of training is very specialized and lets you focus on shaping and building each muscle group.

Generally you can plan on spending 60-90min on each workout session using the bodybuilding workout style. Generally you do your cardio at a separate time in the day from your lifting workout or right after your lifting workout. You should plan on a minimum of 4-5 days of week of lifting to be able to hit each body part/muscle group sufficiently. Sets and reps will very greatly depending on what cycle or phase of lifting you are in.

This is a great style for those that have a couple of years of lifting knowledge under their belt, understand proper diet and supplementation, and have plenty of time in their day to spend in the gym and can hit the gym 4-5 times per week. If you are limited for time, or looking for weight lose, this isn’t the style of lifting for you.

Circuit training

This might be my favorite lifting style of any of them. It is very time efficient, metabolic (calorie burning), and does allow for a certain amount of muscle growth and strength gains. It can be done using simple exercise or more complex advanced lifts. The key to circuit training is to have 4-8 exercises that you rotate though without resting in between. The other key is it to select exercises that are multi joint movements, and large dynamic movements. Exercises that combine both lower body and upper body muscles are some of the best to go with.

An effective circuit training program can be done in 3 days a week of resistance based circuit training. A typical workout takes from 45-60 minutes. I recommend people use as many exercises as they can utilizing free weights (dumbbells, bars, plates) as this allows for less rest in transitioning from one exercise to another. Also if you are at the gym during peak hours which chances are you will be, there is often a line of people waiting to get on the machines. Remember for effective circuit training you want almost no rest between exercises and very little rest between rounds of your circuit. Generally you should look to complete 2-3 rounds of each circuit. Reps will range form 10 up to 20+.

An example week using circuit training may look something like this:

Day 1: circuit training

Day 2: cardio

Day 3: rest

Day 4: circuit training

Day 5: Cardio

Day 6: circuit training

Day 7: rest

Again there are a lot of options of how to split your workouts up during the week.

Here is an example of one of my favorite circuits using a loaded barbell:

Bent row
Hang clean
Front squat
Push press
Back squat
Push up roll out/ with bar

Here is an example using dumbbells:

Squat shoulder press combo
Push up with row
Reverse lunge with biceps curl
Squat hold with triceps kick back
Romanian Deadlift

There are many combinations of lifts that work great for circuit training. Be creative; you can put together some great workout combos using a variety of free weights and machine weights.

If you have a limited number of days that you can spend at the gym each week, and a limited amount of time to spend at they gym, then circuit training is a great option. Circuit training is what I recommend to my clients that are trying to lose weight.

If you are looking to put on a lot of muscle size, or gain a lot of strength then circuit training is probably not the right style for you. A modified circuit training program can also be used to cut down before a competition or big event.

Cross fit style training

I thought I would also mention crossfit in my overview of workout styles. Crossfit has become immensely popular over the last few years, and has even evolved into its own sport. Crossfit is very effective, very hard, and utilizes a lot of advanced Olympic style lifts. Crossfit workouts are generally time effective. Some workouts take as little as 15 minutes to complete, but trust me at the end of the 15 minutes you will feel like you were hit with a truck, dragged to the train tacks, run over by a train, then taken home and put through a spin cycle!

In brief (and I am sure I will have some crossfitters tell me I am wrong or that haven’t explained this right. Crossfit people tend to be a bit sensitive about their workout style)

Crossfit style training utilizes a combination of Olympic and Power lifts in conjunction with plyometrics, running and other explosive type movements. (Remember I said in brief, meaning just a brief explanation, so all you Crossfit people out there just calm down).

Crossfit style training is great for off season athletes, military and law enforcement personal, and anyone that is looking for an intense workout. One thing that is unique about Crossfit workouts is that many of them are based on a number of rounds for time, or often the lifts are based on a percentage of your body weight, so people of all abilities can complete the workouts.

Crossfit is a specialized workout style, so I don’t recommend just trying it own your own; chances are you will do the lifts incorrectly, inefficiently, and risk hurting yourself. Crossfit gyms are opening up everywhere, so if you are interested find one in your area and give it a try.

If you interested to find out more, just Google crossfit, and you will get more information than you know what to do with.

If you would like to now more about Crossfit training get a hold of my friend Jaquelyn Kay on her bodyspace page. This girl kills it at Crossfit!!



Remember there are many different types and styles of training available. In my opinion, I don’t think any one style is better than another. The key is to find the style that fits your goals and lifestyle, then dedicated yourself, and hit it hard. Intensity is the key; most people make the mistake of not hitting their workouts with enough intensity. Go hard or go home!

Along with finding the best workout style for you, don’t forget to add in your cardio, and most importantly get your diet and supplementation on the right track!

Check out Bodybuilding.com (http://www.bodybuilding.com/) for information about training programs, diet plans, and supplementation. You can also get involved with their social network and connect with people with similar goals as you, plus as always you can buy all your supplements right there!



Monday, April 4, 2011

Cheating The Right Way

You know you do it, don’t deny it, don’t lie about it, and don’t pretend you don’t! You cheat, I cheat, we all cheat on our diets occasionally. Now I will grant that sometimes you may cheat and might not know it or realize that you are cheating. You would be surprised at how many foods we think are healthy really aren’t.

What about those times when you are just craving something sweet or salty……? Something that just tastes good, and makes you smile……what to do?

Should you go ahead and have a tasty cheat treat? You and I both know what will happen if you do. You will feel guilty for one, also you are more likely to blow the rest of your diet for the day after you have slipped and had something not on the “approved list”. You know you will be doing an extra 40 min of cardio to burn those dreaded calories off. Let’s not forget to mention what it will do to your mental state of mind!

I’m sure you have heard all of the usual advice before to stop cravings such at: Drink water, drink tea, chew gum, munch on celery (hey it’s got a negative calorie balance right!), do something to distract yourself, etc.

But what about those time that you just can’t live without a tasty frozen dairy treat or something baked and deliciously good???? Is there anything that can be done to save yourself from disaster? The answer to that my friends is YES! So what’s the answer you ask……? The answer is to cheat! Yes you read that right, you don’t need to get your eyes checked. Cheat…….but cheat the right way.

I was talking with my good friend, Bodybuilding.com spokes model finalist, and IFBB pro Kathleen Tesori the other day about this very topic, and asking her what she does when she has a craving for a cheat, and what recommendations she might have for the rest of us. She said she cheats, but she cheats the right way. She explained that there are ways to have cheat foods that aren’t really cheating. It’s all in the preparation and choices my friends.

I’ll us myself as an example. I love French toast! I mean I really, really love French toast…but as of yet I haven’t found a way to make it healthy. Well Kathleen as shown me how I can enjoy the yummy goodness of French to toast, but not blow my diet for the day. Basically you take your egg whites, oatmeal, add in a little sweetener and some cinnamon, blend it all together, pore into a waffle maker, and bam! Out comes an egg white oatmeal waffle that taste just like French toast!

That is just one of many examples of how you can make healthy alternatives to some of your favorite cheat foods. For more tasty recipes, and other helpful eating and lifestyle tips check out Kathleen’s website. http://www.kathleentesori.com/  http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/KathleenTesori/

Ok so that takes care of my craving for French toast, but what about when I want something cold, thick and chocolaty? Well with a couple scoops of protein powder and a little creativity you can create yourself a high protein alternative to your favorite ice cream treat.

Another good friend of mine, and self proclaimed master mixologist Aubrie Richeson http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/Aubrie / has provided us with 12 sensational protein smoothie shake recipes. I am sure one of these is guaranteed to take care of that evil craving from something cold, sugary and full of fat!


All fun and joking aside, proper planning of your meals is the most important thing you can do to avoid cheating. Your more likely to cheat when you are hungry and don’t have a healthy meal readily available. So plan, plan, plan, and plan some more! ..........But for those times when you want to give yourself a delicious treat, don’t blow you diet, use the resources I have listed above and enjoy a healthy alternative, that isn’t going to make you feel the need to do an extra 40 min of mind numbing cardio!

Brandon Johnson






Friday, April 1, 2011

Gratitude for opportunities

Be grateful for the opportunities that you have. and more will come your way. Along with that be happy for the opportunities that your friends receive, and more too will come your way.

I have had some really great opportunities to work with bodybuilding.com over the last year and a half; first as a transformation trainer, now as part of their 2011 Team. What a great chance for me to share my knowledge with others, and learn from some of the best and brightest in the industry.

Have you ever noticed that fit healthy people seem to have more fun and exciting opportunities than other people? Every wondered why this is?

Here are a few of my thoughts on why that is:

1. Fit healthy people are just physically able to do more fun and exciting things. They have more energy, are stronger, healthy, etc.

2. They are happier. Fit healthy people are mentally happier and more pleasant to have around. They are less negative and more likely to help others.

3. They have more time. People that make the time to take care of themselves seem to be better at time management, thus allowing more time to pursue other opportunities.

4. They inspire others. We look up to fit people doing amazing things with their lives, and think how can we be like them. We want to be around them, thus creating more opportunities for them to do great things.

5. Fit people generally just work harder. Hard work equals rewards and opportunities.

6. Fit people have found a way to have balance in life.

These are just a few of my ideas. I am sure there are many more. Everybody has different reasons for being fit and healthy. Think about what yours are. If you don’t have any, find some and transform your life!