Success Stories

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Shoes and Heavy Weight

The video above describes pretty common occurrence when squatting heavy weights.  The same applies to dead lifts, power cleans, snatches etc.  Running sneakers simply do not provide a optimal base and can hinder linear progression on the core lifts not to mention alter movement patterns.  This is why you see a lot of people in the gym with minimalist shoes or powerlifters who wear chuck taylors.  You don't need to buy fancy shoes to get a more stable base.  Doing your squats and deadlifts bare foot is an o.k. option to provided you make sure a round plate wont fall and crush your foot.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sat fat Science

Scholarly Source on sat fat intake vs CVD

"During 5-23 y of follow-up of 347,747 subjects, 11,006 developed CHD or stroke. Intake of saturated fat was not associated with an increased risk of CHD, stroke, or CVD."

"Consideration of age, sex, and study quality did not change the results."

"A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD. More data are needed to elucidate whether CVD risks are likely to be influenced by the specific nutrients used to replace saturated fat."

Just came across some more research showing that saturated fat is not the enemy.  The nutrition advice given in this country is so backwards.  Saturated fat was never proven to be the causative agent in heart disease or weight gain.  People could do a lot better lowering their risk for heart disease, by eating a diet free of processed foods.  If I had heart disease I would rather enjoy foods like  eggs, cheeses, grass-fed dairy, and the occasional breakfast meat like sausage and bacon then consume processed flour, sugar, and oils in a lot of the "healthier" alternatives marketed today.  

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Home Made Sled

Anyone who has been following the trends in the strength and conditioning world understand that weight sleds have become a cornerstone in most athletes training.  No matter what you are training for everyone can get benefits out of a sled.  

A lot of powerlifters have taken notice, because the total amount of weight they could lift was being limited by their work capacity.  By doing G.P.P (General Physical Preparedness) aka sled work powerlifters were able to train different energy systems... although sled drags are not sport specific to powerlifting it indirectly increases work capacity, allowing for increased total weight lifted!

What can the normal athlete take from all this?  By adding a reasonable amount of G.P.P to your weight training sessions you can go a long way towards a stronger, leaner body, with a better ability to recover. The weight sleds they use at strength and conditioning facilities can be expensive thats why I want to link you to this article on how to make a home made weight sled...  Isn't much to look at but these things are torture!

Here is a brief clip from my workout today on a home made weight sled


Monday, June 20, 2011


The RFESS (rear foot elevated split squat) is an exercise I have been using in my training a lot recently.  This exercise is quite challenging and works your whole leg musculature in a unique way, not to mention that after a few sets you can really get a good sweat going.  The primary muscles worked during the RFESS are the quads but it also works the hamstrings and can hit the core quite well.

The RFESS is nice because you can make good strength gains without all the spinal loading of the traditional barbell squat.  In addition it can be loaded several different ways, and the range of motion can be modified to make it easier or harder.  As you can see above I am doing them on a 4 inch box allowing me to get a better range of motion.  Also I loaded it goblet style with a kettle bell because I find I can maintain form easiest with this method.  Holding dumbells at your sides is very popular, as well as using a weighted vest which is probably the best option  but not necessary as long as you are consistent with loading techniques.

While doing the RFESS it is important to keep your chest up and spine in a neutral position, it is common for the upper body to lean forward in the down ward phase of the motion to compensate for flexibility/ strength deficits and this should be avoided.  Lastly the foot that is elevated on the bench is simply their for balance and should not be used to drive back upwards.  When done correctly this may be a good exercise choice for people with anterior pelvic tilt because with a full range of motion the opposing hip flexors will get stretched.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Muscle ups

Today I wanted to show viewers a difficult excercise to perform along with some coaching cues that will allow you to perform the exercise safely.

As you can see above the Muscle Up is essentially a normal pull up with an explosive element incorporated in order to bring your body above the bar.  Muscle ups are a multi-joint movement that primarily work the muscles of your back, core, and to some extent chest and triceps (over the bar phase). They are great because the concentric (upwards) phase of the exercise teaches you how to coordinate an explosive effort and the eccentric (lowering) phase works your lats, core, and forearms much like a pull up.

When doing a muscle up form is key.  This move can be abrasive to your joints if you do not do a few important things.  First off your initial grip on the bar is very important : Grip the bar with palms facing outwards from you.  Unlike a normal pull up you must grip the bar with your palms parallel with the ground as opposed to the wall.  Your grip needs to roll over the bar so your wrists are bent over the bar.  Initially this will seem awkward but it is crucial the second phase of the exercise or you wont be able to push yourself above the bar.

Beginning at the bottom of a pull up position forcefully pull upwards behind the bar.  This is different than a pull up because in a normal pull up you would pull under the bar.  As you pull your head and upper torso behind the bar.  On your ascent pull forcefully towards the bar and lean into the bar.  This will bring you into the bottom of a dip above the bar.  Dip just as you would on a dip bar to finish the movement.

This move varies in difficulty.  While progressing you can use a kick to generate momentum and make the movement easier.  People skilled in muscle ups will be able to perform them very slowly and under control.  A muscle up can take a long time to learn depending on your starting strength.  For beginners I would advise you to check out a resource like beast skills to learn more.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Training ADD

Training A.D.D is a popular term used by personal trainers.  This refers to a trainee that will never stick to a set diet or exercise regimen for more then a couple weeks.  People with training ADD often spin their wheels endlessly because regardless of how hard they work out, or how smart they are in exercise theory, they NEVER make any measurable progress.

People with training ADD typically understand what goal they have in mind initially but for what ever reason become unhappy with their situation and decide to change midway through.  Since making changes in body composition and performance are relatively slow processes people with Training ADD never reach the level they set out for.

A common example of this is a trainee who decides they want to gain muscle.  After researching the best program and diet to gain weight they set out on an effort to become huge.  They realize  after two months of bulking up that they are starting to lose definition in their abs.  Regardless of the fact that the rest of their body is growing well and their strength is through the roof they panic and decide that they need to cut back, and make a 180 degree shift dropping calories and focusing more on cardio.  After a few weeks of this they are back to square one because they didn't put on any appreciable muscle mass, and the muscle they did put on was lost in their reactive effort to cut back down in a short time.  And this leaves the trainee exactly at square one.

Training A.D.D. does not just have to be applied to body composition changes but we can also see this in performance measurements when a person tries to train for to many different things at once.  They want to be good at long distance running, and powerlifting, all while being fast.  Their training tries to resemble this by switching between mutually exclusive goals all at once.  And in the end they get no where because they don't pick with one goal and focus on it!

People with great physiques or great speed or great power all or all of the above have gotten that way over a long period of time.  Whatever their goal was they stuck with tried and true methods and were CONSISTENT! This does not mean consistency for a month or two.  Consistency means dedicating yourself to a diet and fitness regimen for years.  

So far all those with training ADD set a goal and stick with it for at least three months before re evaluating.  

400 lbs squat at 175 body weight

Scary strong!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Oxysterols and Milk

Does anyone else remember that dairy movement that wanted americans drinking three cups of milk a day?  I do...and although I don't believe milk is inherently bad I think some of us need to reconsider the way we get our milk.

Lets face it, from the way people used to drink it, milk has come a long way.  I know that some of you are thinking that this is a good thing.  After all without advancements in modern food science we wouldn't have microbial free (pasteurized) homogenized, and fat free milks.

Although at first these innovations to milk appear to be beneficial are they all that great?  I along with many other nutritionist and researchers think that these scientific advancements have simply taken a perfect health promoting food and degraded it in order to make a cheap buck.  Lets take a look at some of the problems modern dairy faces and why these "advancements" could mean bad news for your health.

I would often bring a bottle of whole milk into class if I had missed breakfast.  I would find many of my fellow nutrition majors scowling at me, "You drink whole milk!!!!?????" As if they simply could not fathom that a person who had taken all the coursework they had could consciously drink the fat laden stuff.  I would often reply that before whole milk was "whole milk," it was just called milk and people were fine.

I tend to piggyback off the  philosophy that eating foods in their least processed form is the ideal way to optimize health and performance.  When it comes to milk this philosophy holds true.  Many people are wary and believe that the saturated fat and cholesterol in milk will lead to heart disease.  I invite those people to read Stephen Guyenet blog post on why saturated fat does not cause a rise in blood cholesterol here.  

Secondly I would like to point out that the pasteurization process of milk not only denatures and changes the protein composition in milk, but instigates a rise in harmful substances within the milk called oxysterols

Oxysterols are oxidized forms of cholesterol.  In dairy pasteurization (heat exposure) cholesterol oxidation products (COPS) can be formed which indeed have many negative effects on health.  Among these detrimental health affects COPS have shown to have cytotoxic, inflammatory, effects and have been linked with chronic diseases including artherosclerosis and neurogenerative diseases.

COPS are thought to be potentially involved in the initiation and progression of artherosclerosis, neurogenerative procecesses, diabetes, kidney failure, 

COPS compared to unoxidized cholesterol (like the cholesterol found in raw milk) have demonstrated stronger pathological and toxic effects by at least one or two orders of magnitude ([Poli et al., 2009] and [Van-Reyk et al., 2006]). 

One of the primary COPs in milk is called 7-keto cholesterol which is linked to cancer and heart disease. The amount of 7-keto cholesterol formed is directly related to the temperature of pasteurization.  This means that if you are going to by store bought milk it may be a wise choice to by milk that is only lightly pasteurized.  Ultra-pasteurized milk or the "UHT" you often see on milk labels can contain higher levels as well as milk put in the microwave.  So if you eat something like oatmeal and microwave it make sure to put the milk in afterwards or use a milk alternative like almond milk.

These Oxysterols as well as other issues like antibiotic and hormone use, as well as poor animal treatment are a couple of reasons why processed dairy is becoming less and less of a healthy choice.  I am fortunate enough to live in a family that gets raw milk, but if that is a little to extreme for you I would suggest buying a lightly pasteurized organic milk.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Training, and random thoughts.

Readers recently school work and rugby have consumed my life and my blog has taken a back seat.  In an effort to get some content up I wanted to post some random tidbits.

Recently my weight lifting has taken a back seat to rugby.  Most athletes have to deal with this, it is very hard to set PR's during a season.  Athletes should use an appropriate training template for in season.  This will depend on your specific recovery abilities - volume should be cut accordingly.  Currently my split looks like this.

Monday: upper power
Barbell row 5*5
Shoulder press 3*5
Bench Press 3*5

Tuesday: Lower Power
Squat 3*5
Deadlift 1*5

Thursday: Chest Tricep
Dumbell Incline Press 3*8
Close grip Bench 3*8
Dumbell flat 2*8
Some direct arm work

Friday back shoulder hypertrophy
3 sets of pull ups
Dumbell shoulder Press
Lateral raise
Dumbell shrugs
parralel rows
Kroc rows

The above stuff is done off "feel" when you have been training for a while you can tell what you can get away with.  I keep workouts short and intense, and aim to improve week to week.  If recovery is an issue I will take as much time as I need, this is a dumb-downed version of layne nortons power hypertrophy split, I will transition to the full split after rugby is over and reccomend it for people with experience in the compound lifts...Linked here

Some advice I have found useful in my experience as follows:

"Once you have accepted that changes to your body composition is a slow process driven largely by caloric intake. You essentially free yourself from the constraints that hold you back.
The more rules you have in your diet the better chance you have of breaking one, the better chance you fail/ binge/ get off track. 

I find that if you concentrate as much about consistency in certain things rather than the type of food you eat you will get the most profound results. 1. A controlled caloric surplus or deficit. 2. A substantial amount of protein in your diet (gram per lbs?) 3. Lifting Heavy weights on a well though out program three-four times a week.

By focusing on less you get more. Accept that you that changes to your body composition are going to take a long time. This elimantes the stress of dieting and you can go about every day effortlessly acheiving your goals.

Lastly try and find your Connections between eating and your emotions. Do you eat when your bored? etc... Deciphering this is your key to self control

Keep it fun, and challenge yourself in the weight room. Be consistent with your diet, and realize that although your body composition doesn't change day by day, your mind can! Your body composition is 1/16th of the great person you are, Dieting is a time for reinvention and self reflection, go out and try something new that you enjoy and hold your head up high because you are drifiting towards a happier healthier you everyday."

Another reason to eat vegetables!

Research shows that vegetables give your skin a healthy glow. read here

Monday, April 4, 2011

Born to Run?

Here is an interesting Ted talk that may change the way you think about running. here

Friday, April 1, 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pure Maple Syrup

Researchers discovered 34 new beneficial compounds in pure maple syrup, and confirmed that 20 compounds discovered last year in preliminary research play a key role in human health.  check it out

The point of this blog post is not to promote maple syrup which in the end of the day is still just sugar.  It is to point out that real food, simply can not be beat by man made substitutes or as the article best describes it- Nature is the best chemist.  Real food seems to have great nutrient interactions that give them unique health benefits, processed food not so much.

Look at some of these studies!

Long distance runners

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Powerlifting results

For anyone interested in Power lifting check out my good friends write up on his most recent competition as follows.  Congratulations to Tom who came in first in his weight class 198 even though he was severely under the max weight.  Freak Strength, readers no matter what your goals we can learn from power lifters because they know how to lift heavy weights and know how to do it safely!  Furthermore they don't compare themselves with anyone else.  They know their limits and seek to push past them on a day to day basis.

380 lbs squat

305 lbs bench

460 lbs deadlift
Broke a record for my federation

All in all it was a fun contest, I did not cut weight and still won for my age and weight. I got some great experience, and met some cool people. Power Lifting is an individual thing, while I do compete with other individuals my goals are improvement contest to contest. The last contest I did in November I totaled 1050 in the 165 lb class, the time before that in September 1000 in the 165 lb class. The next
potential contest for me is in May, and I can guarantee if I compete there will be another jump in my

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lipid Madness- sorting through the terminology a basic guide to fat

Some advice I always hear thrown around is, "Fat is not the enemy, when dieting you should eat "good" fats and avoid the "bad" ones.

This advice like others is overly simplified and although its intentions are good it does not always paint the right picture about how you should be eating.  Let me follow this up by saying that no food is inherently good or bad...meaning within the context of a sensible diet whilst reaching set macronutrient goals you can any food without adverse outcomes on fat loss and health.  For example the nefarious trans fat can be enjoyed in moderation with no affect on health, and the exalted Omega-3 fats can be detrimental if you have to much.  For this reason I would like to provide some basic information about different kinds of dietary fat you hear about and follow that up with my thoughts on dietary fat and weight loss/ health.  

First things first, all fats are composed of fatty acids.  The properties of fats are dependent upon the specific fatty acids that  constitute it.  Fatty acids are chains of carbon, and hydrogen atoms with a carboxylic acid group at one end and a triacylglycerol molecule  at the other.

Without getting to technical learning the basic chemistry can be helpful to understand some of the common fatty acids.  A saturated fat is named this way because every carbon on the fatty acid is bound with a hydrogen atom...thus the molecule is fully saturated.  In other fatty acids the carbon atoms may have a double bonds between themselves (creating a degree of unsaturation)  aka monounsaturated fatty acids.  If the fatty acids contain two or more double bonds between carbons they are referred to as polyunsaturated fatty acids.  Unsaturated fatty acids with a trans isomer are commonly called trans fat and have received a lot of bad press.

                                                  Above are a few examples of fatty acids

Fats are an important part of our nutrition.  Among other things dietary fat provides energy, is needed to regulate the fat soluble vitamins, provide essential fatty acids, and is important to maintain a good hormonal environment.  The general nutrition world usually refers to polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats as the "good" fats because of their ability to regulate cholesterol levels and because the polyunsaturates in our diet are essential.  Saturated and trans fat are referred to as the "bad" fats.  Each fat has unique affects after digestion but the terms good and bad are limited.

Essential fatty acids are fatty acids that the body cannot synthesize.  They are required for good health and must be obtained through our diet.  The two essential fatty acids are alpha-linolenic (an omega-3 fatty acid,  and Linoleic acid (an omega 6 fatty acid) and besides from being necessary to control inflammation must be gotten dietarily or we could not survive.  Just getting these Essential fatty acids is not enough for optimal health, these EFA's consumed in the appropriate proportion (supposedly 4:1 or less omega-6 or omega-3) purportedly will have a positive impact on numerous health events like heart disease, cancer, depression and other mood disorders.  A typical American diet is full of omega 6 fatty acids and because these fatty acids compete with each other omega 3 absorption is compromised.  The American diet may provide a ratio of 10:1 or more and this is not favorable.  This is mostly because Americans eat so much processed food.  

Saturated fat a "bad" fat has been villainized by the scientific community as an artherogenic agent (causes heart disease).  Researchers believed that consumption of saturated fat elevated cholesterol levels which promoted cardiovascular disease.  This research was horribly limited and we can fairly confidently say that for most people their is limited association between saturated fat and heart disease.  Some studies have even shown saturated fat to have a protective effect on coronary artery disease [1].  This goes against what many have had ingrained in their mind, but I suspect within the next couple of years their will be major breakthroughs in cholesterol and saturated fat research alleviating this fat of its "bad" moniker.

Of the most clear cut fats that can be delegated "bad" is transfat.  Trans fatty acids are formed during partial hydrogenation of vegetable oils.  "In the past decade new metabolic studies have provided unequivocal evidence that partial hydrogenation of vegetable oils creates fatty acids that adversely affect plasma lipid concentrations  relative to natural oils."[2]  So basically trans fats are unnatural and detrimental to health.  It is important to note that a natural occurring trans fatty acid (vaccenic acid) may actually be health promoting.  If you are interested further in the subject I recommend you visit Alan Aragon's website and subscribe to his research review he provides a unbiased look at trans fat and its health affects.

Now that some of the common terminology has been sorted out I want to discuss dietary fats role in dieting and health.  Some researchers have come to believe that our ancestral diet consisted of more fat then we once thought.  It is very reasonable to believe that increasing the percentage of fat in your diet could be a good thing as far as health and weight loss go: assuming the increase in fat does not accompany an increase in calories.  Fat has nine calories a gram as opposed to protein and carbohydrate which have four cals/g respectively and for that reason it is still important to maintain a sensible caloric intake.  Further more fat as a macronutrient tends to be much more satiating the carbohydrate...that is a nice fatty meal will fill you up longer than a carbohydrate meal.  For this reason dieters should not be afraid to include high fat foods such as full fat dairy, eggs, fish, and nuts etc.  into their diet.  Some people fear that the dietary cholesterol that can be associated with fatty foods is dangerous, yet their is another weak correlation here.  Dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol are weakly associated... some people even believe that cholesterol levels and heart disease are poorly associated...I have even seen some studies that show high cholesterol foods such as eggs improving the heart health of people.[3] 

As a closing statement I would like to say that fats are not simply good or bad.  Within the context of different diets they can have very different effects.  It is important for dieters and health enthusiasts to remember that the fat you eat does not make you fat.  Furthermore within a sensible caloric intake dietary fat excluding trans fat should not have a negligible impact on your health.  As a dieter it is important to remember that taste is importance for adherence, and adherence is important for results.  Do not shy away from natural foods, and in order to better your omega 6:3 ratio eat processed food in moderation.  Some fat sources I love to eat are eggs, guacamole, red meat, fish, seafood, all nuts, and many more. Don't be afraid to reintroduce some of these natural fatty foods back into your diet today and pass on all that processed junk!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Return Home

Today is my first day back at classes after my return from jamaica.  It was a wonderful experience and although I got a poor view of their culture as a whole staying on a resort.  I wanted to share with my readers a few interesting things I noticed about Jamaicans pertaining to their eating and fitness habits.

1.  Among the islanders it was very rare to see an obese person.  Although the island has been americanized there is still an abundance of traditional foods.  I enjoyed a bunch of traditional foods like root vegetable soups, jerk chicken and pork, curried goat, spicy sea foods, fresh fruit and vegetables, and beef patties.  

2.  Jamaican Foods make up for lack of fat with spices.  All the traditional foods I ate were cooked with spices.  Our culture often tries to make food tastier by adding fat, we should follow after other cultures and use spices to flavor our foods.  They taste great and add big time flavor without the calories.

3.   There was fresh fruit growing everywhere.  After tipping a resort worker he showed me how to pick fresh mangos, plantains, and cut open a coconut to have some fresh coconut water.  

4.  There is a lot of seafood in their diet.  Most American diets are dreadfully deficient in Omega 3 fatty acids and should take after jamaicans eating more seafood.

5.  Portion sizes were reasonable and I noticed that even the fried food in Jamaica was a lot less salty.  

These were just a few things I noticed in my limited stay.  I enjoyed traditional Jamaican cuisine and wanted to remind everyone to eat more real food!   Stay tuned for an article on omega 3 and omega 6 ratio.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Spring Break

For anyone that is a regular reader I am sorry for the lack of content this week.  It was midterm week here at Ithaca and my blog was my last priority.  Im sitting here at my campus lounge waiting for my meal to digest so I can hit the gym.

I wanted to leave you with some nuggets of wisdom and some reading material because I am heading to jamaica for spring break and may not have a chance to post before then.

Wisdom you probably didn't want to hear

1.  Completely reverse your approach to training.  Instead of lifting upper body most, start training your lower body more frequently.  Instead of doing so much bench press, start doing more rows and chins/pull ups.  If you have been doing high reps for a while do lower reps

2.  Progressive overload-  If you are not adding weight or reps to the bar week to week you are not doing it right.

3.  If you split your body parts up and you are not an advanced bodybuilder you are doing it wrong! A novice does not need their own delt and calves day.

4.  Traditional jogging on the treadmill does not need to be a part of your workout unless you enjoy it.  Conditioning can be accomplished in shorter periods of time through other methods.  If you do it for fat loss take the extra time you spend on the treadmill cooking healthy meals and you could expect to see a 100% increase in results.

5.  Just because you did cardio doesn't mean you can have that extra bite.

6.  Losing fat is 75% diet

7.  Most novices would do best lifting 2-4 days a week.

8.  You can't out train a bad diet

9.  barbell squats and dead lifts have always been popular for a reason.

10.  Crunches are a joke of an excercise.  Tony gentilcores critique on crunches

Thats it for now for some good reading material while i'm gone scroll down to the blogs I reccomend at the bottom of my page.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Saturated fat and cholesterol

Check out Stephan Guyenets article on saturated fat and cholesterol.  Stop fearing fat look at Stephans conclusion below.

"Overall, the literature does not offer much support for the idea that long term saturated fat intake has a significant effect on the concentration of blood cholesterol. If it's a factor at all, it must be rather weak, which is consistent with what has been observed in multiple non-human species (13). I think it's likely that the diet-heart hypothesis rests in part on an over-interpretation of short-term controlled feeding studies."

This article reminds me of an interesting phenomena in human reasoning.  People are scared to death to eat eggs because of the fat and cholesterol yet at the same time will go out and eat processed crap and drink lots of booze.  Bottom line stick to whole foods with minimal processing and you won't regret it.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Man vs Food Era

Within my young lifetime I have seen the explosion of food related media.  It is increasingly clear that people love anything food related… and why wouldn’t they?  Food and emotion are undoubtedly connected (a gift and a curse) which brings us to an interesting paradox.  Food is a great way to stimulate connections, show thanks, and is one of lifes greatest pleasures.

Unfortunately the dark side of the food and emotion spectrum is a term called, “emotional eating.”  You may have heard this term thrown around before with its associated buzzwords like comfort foods.  My family and I even deemed our own word for emotional eating called the “crunch.”  The crunch represents that popcorn you eat as a nightcap, or the handful of crackers you mow down as your watching TV.  It is a funny way to represent emotional eating because most times the craving for the crunch exists at times where you are completely satiated (full).  In my experience women in particular seem to be very susceptible to “the crunch,” and it represents a huge reason as to why people cannot take control of their eating habits.             

To throw out a more surgical definition than the crunch, “emotional eating” is eating for any other reason then hunger.  Yes this definition is meant to be very broad and as social beings it is clear we eat for many reasons other than hunger.  However I would like to emphasize the need for people especially Americans to regain a sense of their hunger.

When I say hunger I mean the physical sensation that occurs when your body “needs” food.  When you eat for emotional reasons you are satisfying something else.  It can be different for many people but often emotional eaters crave sugar, alcohol, or high fat.  Mostly high calorie nutrient sparse foods that give you a burst of neurotransmitters that make you feel really really good…for a really short time.  Over time this cycle reinforces itself and can really do some damage to your body.

Taking control of your emotional eating can be very helpful but often times difficult for some people as food has been their only crutch.  The first step is to recognize your emotional eating by identifying your triggers.  In my own experience I noticed I had emotional connections to food when I was bored… which seems to be a common emotional trigger to eating.  Others include eating for sadness, happiness, low self worth, anger etc…

Depending on your level of emotional eating fixing your habits can range from being somewhat simple to very difficult.  Identifying your triggers and when you feel the need to eat, asking yourself, “am I really hungry.”  If the answer is no you are not hungry then go about solving your emotional eating by doing another enjoyable activity.  This could be anything from messaging a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, watching a favorite clip on you tube, reading my blog, or going for a walk, basically any other activity than can replace the feeling to eat.  Some people suggest doing a couple pushups or excercising.  Yoga, relaxation, and meditation are other popular options.  In reality it is going to be person specific.

For some people emotional eating is a little bit harder to just fix.  Sometimes these people have been using food as self-medication.  Trying to control their depression or anxiety with food is serious and underlying issues must be resolved, and therapy, meditation and other such methods should be employed.

Over the last couple of years my research interests have slowly evolved and I ponder quite a bit about how people perceive their own body image.  Dieting itself is often a time where people are particularly susceptible to emotional eating.  I think on a subconscious level dieting for some people is an admittance of dissatisfaction with their bodies and self worth.  Hopefully in the future I can help this country get back to a healthy standing.  Too many poor girls and boys suffer a living hell because of their eating disorders and body dysmorphia.  It is my job to remind people that dieting is just one of the many ways to improve your self confidence… It may take a while to reach a body you are satisfied with but you can change your mindset today.  At the end of the day your physical appearance is the tip of the iceberg of the great person you are.  Dieting should be a slow enjoyable process filled with foods your body actually needs and a period of self-reinvention and acceptance.  Exist outside the unrealistic messages the media sets forth and everyone can be a lot happier.  Work on your body composition goals day by day in a realistic manner, and focus your worries on much more meaningful things.  You don't need to look like a greek god to be happy!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

News in my life

Today I made a presentation to personal trainers at the college on how to give nutrition advice to clients.  I have been so caught up in research as of recently presenting was good because it got me reminded of the big picture.

To summarize my presentation:

"We want our clients to achieve their goals!  Our clients must create a consistent sensible caloric deficit over time.  In order to spare muscle clients should aim to get adequate protein and resistance train.  Meal timing and macronutrient composition should be based on taste preference, energy level, and convenience.  To worry yourself over such trivial matters will not help you in your weight loss goals!"

 If you have stalled in your fat loss you may want to take note.  Due the following to get back on track.

1.  Set a goal of weight to lose 4-8 lbs in a month is realistic... Use four if you are already lean and eight if you have some room to go.
2.  Calculate your total energy expenditure here (Shave 10-20 % off your total energy expenditure)
3.  Get a food journal and count calories. is a easy free site.
4.  Try to get 1 gram of protein per lbs of body weight a day
5.  Resistance train 2-4 days a week.
6.   Don't over do it on cardio... and eat foods you enjoy... as long as you hit your calorie goals and keep protein intake up fat loss will continue... diet is how you lose fat not running!

If people were to follow the above and commit to three months of consistency the world would be a much healthier happier place.  Don't stress dieting take it day by day and eat foods you enjoy!

I also just entered into a study being conducted on campus... The study is researching betaine and its effect on sprint performance.  Betaine is an amino acid that has been proven to increase cycling power in untrained athletes source.  I am not hopeful that performance enhancements will be statistically signifcant in trained male athletes but I get a free V02 max report and bodycomp testing by signing up, plus its always nice to help the research community!  I will keep the blog updated with the results.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Post-workout nutrition

A lot of you have heard about the "anabolic window" or the time after a workout (usually between 30-45 min) where it is apparently imperative that you have a protein shake with simple carbohydrates to spike insulin levels  and maximize protein synthesis.  Like most things in the fitness world this has "anabolic window" has been over blown and causes more stress then need be.

Take a look at this article written by Brian St Pierre that clears up some of the misconceptions about the post workout window.  read on

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Intermittent fasting

If you readers have noticed one of my big philosophy's when dieting is eating conveniently.  Be very skeptical of any nutritional advice that tells you to eat a certain number of meals a day.  In reality you should base your meal frequency on what best suits your training, convenience, needs.  Read my previous blog post on meal frequency read here

One unconventional method of dieting is called intermittent fasting and is an approach that has really grown on me over the years.  I like it because it can cut out a lot of the stress out of dieting and might even be a good way to control cravings. 

Lean gains has become an increasingly popular method for people wanting to lose fat or gain muscle.  The basic premise being that you fast for 16 hours then have a eight hour eating window.  So for example you would start eating at 3 and end at 11 pm go to sleep then wait till three the next day until you start eating.  Many people enjoy this way of dieting and it can have a number of benefits over standard dieting.  You should peruse the site to learn more and as per usual feel free to ask questions in the comment section below.

                                    Martin Berkhan got this physique using Intermittent fasting

Monday, February 21, 2011

Getting a six pack

Honestly speaking you can work out abs as much as you want but as long as you have that layer of fat covering them you will never see any definition.  Check out what expert strength coach Mike Boyle has to say.

read on

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Correlation Vs Causation

People spin their wheels so often in the fitness world because they do not focus on the things that matter.  For all you readers out there understand that CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION.

The graph above illustrates a funny way in which these two concepts can be confused.  Lets look at how some people get confused with correlation and causation in the diet and fitness game.

Evaluate these fitness statements

-Eating “bad” (sugar, candy, bread etc…) carbohydrates will make me fat
-High protein foods will help you lose fat.
-Cardio will help you lose fat
-Eating lots of vegetables will make you thin

When looking at all these statements they seem somewhat reasonable.  It would seem that a person that did not eat bad carbohydrates, ate high protein diet, ate plenty of vegetables, and did cardio regularly would be very lean, doing such activities may be correlated with being lean.  Unfortunately none of these activities is the cause of losing fat.

Losing fat is caused by something more specific.  In our context as dieters losing fat is caused by a consistent caloric deficit over time.  Other factors like cardio, or types of food may be correlated with creating a caloric deficit but they themselves do not cause fat loss.  If people want to ensure long term success they should focus on the cause of fat loss, a consistent caloric deficit over time.

In fact you do not have to eat any special foods to lose weight, you do not need to do cardio, or completely cut out junk food.  Focus on the cause of losing fat… to lose fat you should find the easiest way for YOU to create a caloric deficit, lift weights reasonably, and aim to get a reasonable protein intake. 

This will differ from person to person but for most people a safe formula is.

-Eat ten to twenty percent less then your total caloric intake (BMR + Activity cals)
You can find a total caloric intake using this calculator.  (This will tell you how many calories you need a day… shave ten - twenty percent off the final number.)

-It can be helpful to get about a 1-2 grams of protein per lbs of lean body mass.
-Lift heavy weights 2-4 times a week on a decent program.
-Do as much cardio as you can without it interfering with your lifting, life, or diet.  No need to spend hours a week on the treadmill.
-This will depend on your training level.
            -Sleep well and get at least one full day rest (barely any activity) a week

That’s it… remember the cause of weight loss and you free yourself from all strict rules you set up for yourself. Dieting becomes shockingly easy you just have to dedicate yourself to consistency with that caloric deficit, and weight training.  In the short term you wont notice much but six months later you will be a new person.

Friday, February 18, 2011


While I was looking over some material online I came across this great motivational video. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Apotheosis Progress

People always need to lose a certain amount of lbs by whenever.  Whether spring break is coming up, or you need to fit into a certain dress dieters are always looking for a quick way to shed their stubborn fat.

This is a huge problem, because people often crash diet there way to their arbitrary weight goal, and while doing so they compromise there health, their athletic performance, lose muscle, and when all is said and done the weight comes back on plus some.

I want to encourage dieters to set more realistic weight loss goals, and help reach them much easier.  A realistic goal means losing one-two lbs of body fat a week.  It means lifting heavy weights three-four times a week, and taking an extra ten minutes to count calories each day.  When you think about it, IT REALLY IS THAT SIMPLE.

I want to share with you a story of a client who did exactly that.  Instead of dieting hard, he dieted smart.  Tom was a power lifter with no emphasis on diet what so ever.  After a while of over eating he weighed in at 204 lbs.  When he came to me his goal was to lose fat, but because he was a power lifter, it was absolutely important that he didn't lose strength (Loss of strength is a common side effect of dieting.)

This was Tom at 190 ish fourteen lbs from the beginning of his meal plan and about two months in to his diet plan.  There was no before picture while he weighed 204 so this is the closest picture their is to the start.

For about six months Tom dieted and went from 204 lbs to a lean 164. A TOTAL OF 40 LBS!

During this 40 lbs weight loss, Tom's power lifting total went from an already impressive 1035 for doubles at 204 lbs to a obscene 1085 four doubles at a body weight of 164.

So not only did he gain strength and some muscle, he lost 40 lbs...What's even more impressive is that during this weight loss period he did not run one mile.  In fact he didn't do any cardio.  He even ate foods like brownies, and Wendy's.  He lifted heavy weights three days a week, and focused on his diet.  There was no starvation involved, he focused on creating a consistent mild caloric deficit and over time it showed.

If Tom's success story inspires you to do anything it should be to focus on realistic goals.  He lost 40 lbs in six months but because he didn't starve himself and did not rely on over exercising to lose the weight he does not need to worry about gaining those lbs back.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Check out Stephen Guyenets most recent blog!

"Nutritional science has advanced rapidly, and the evidence now demonstrates the major limitations of nutrient-based metrics for prevention of chronic disease. The proportion of total energy from fat appears largely unrelated to risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, or obesity. Saturated fat—targeted by nearly all nutrition-related professional organizations and governmental agencies—has little relation to heart disease within most prevailing dietary patterns. Typical recommendations to consume at least half of total energy as carbohydrate, a nutrient for which humans have no absolute requirement, conflate foods with widely divergent physiologic effects (eg, brown rice, white bread, apples). Foods are grouped based on protein content (chicken, fish, beans, nuts) despite demonstrably different health effects. With few exceptions (eg, omega-3 fats, trans fat, salt), individual compounds in isolation have small effects on chronic diseases. Thus, little of the information found on food labels’ “nutrition facts” panels provides useful guidance for selecting healthier foods to prevent chronic disease."

Read On

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Another reason to eat meat

Every once in a while some research will pop up that really makes you laugh.  According to a evolutionary psychologist at McGill the act of looking at meat can promote peaceful feelings.


How about this... Eat when your hungry...

Bellisle F et. al. Meal frequency and energy balance. Br J Nutr. (1997) 77 (Suppl 1):S57-70

Although some short-term studies suggest that the thermic effect of feeding is higher when an isoenergetic test load is divided into multiple small meals, other studies refute this, and most are neutral. More importantly, studies using whole-body calorimetry and doubly-labelled water to assess total 24 h energy expenditure find no difference between nibbling and gorging. Finally, with the exception of a single study, there is no evidence that weight loss on hypoenergetic regimens is altered by meal frequency. We conclude that any effects of meal pattern on the regulation of body weight are likely to be mediated through effects on the food intake side of the energy balance equation.

Did you just read that right!!!???!

Meal Frequency does not matter in regard to weight loss!!!!  Let me repeat meal frequency does NOT have any effect on weight loss.  This abstract was taken from a large research review that looked at multiple studies regarding meal frequency (How many times a day you eat)

If you have trouble comprehending some of the stuff you read above let me break it down for you.  There has been a long standing myth in the fitness world that somehow eating more frequently (For example every two hours) keeps the metabolism burning on overdrive.  This myth causes A LOT of stress when dieting because people then need to constantly plan when they eat, what they should eat, should I pack food? etc...  For a person living a fast paced lifestyle this becomes a burden very quick and eventually they end up missing a meal.  In reality this is not a big deal but what usually happens when a person breaks one of their rules on a diet instead of just hopping back on the horse per say... they have a full scale meltdown abandoning their diet and binge.  

This myth may have been propagated with good intentions.  It turns out that every time you eat, your body needs to use energy to break down that food.  This is referred to as the thermic effect of food (TEF).  So for instance if you ate a 500 calorie meal you could "burn" about 50 calories digesting it.  The idea was that the more times a day you eat the greater (TEF) so you would get an increase in metabolism because you would take advantage of all the calories your body has to burn when you eat.  So in theory the more you ate the more calories you burnt digesting food therefor the claim was that you had a elevated metabolism.

By eating more meals a day people would spread their calories out more and eat smaller meals more often.  After eating the thermic effect of food would indeed burn calories but what people weren't taking into account is that even though they took advantage of the TEF more, the total TEF was less for smaller meals.  When people ate less frequently they ate more each meal so the thermic effect of each meal was greater.  For example if I was eating 6 meals a day I might have 6 separate 500 calorie meals and burn 50 calories digesting each meal or 50*6= 300 calories that day.  Now if I were eating less frequently say three meals a day.  I would be eating three 1000 calorie meals.  The bigger meals require a greater TEF so I would be burning 100 calories trying to digest this larger meal.  As you can see at the end of the day both groups eating six and three meals burnt 300 calories digesting food making no difference what so ever on weight loss.

If you had trouble understanding the technical stuff above just be aware that meal frequency (how many times a day you eat) is largely unimportant when looking for weight loss or weight gain.  Every person should experiment with themselves and see what works best for them.  My reccomendations would be to eat in a way that will fuel your excercise goals, and keep you full.  This can change day to day don't worry about eating your meals so much.  If you need to skip breakfast feel free, just make sure not to gorge later.  If you enjoy eating six times a day feel free to do that as well.  This could be one to nine times a day it DOES NOT matter.  What does matter is creating a consistent caloric deficit over time. The calories in the food matter not when you eat them!

For more evidence that meal frequency doesn't matter check out Martin Berkhan's work over at lean gains...

Monday, January 31, 2011

Nutrition Tip of the Day!

You may have heard a lot of hype surrounding the flavanoid epigallocatechin gallate AKA (EGCG) the anti-oxidant in green or white tea. Researchers believe that EGCG is responsible for a number of positive health attributes.  Green or white tea can be helpful to anyone regardles of their goal.  Lets take a look at what some of the research shows.

-EGCG  increases maximal oxygen uptake in adults (VO2 Max).  In simple terms, over the long run drinking Green or White tea may help you excercise harder/longer.

-Consumption of Green Tea is associated with a decrease in cardiovascular mortality.

-There is research showing that ECGC can lower blood pressure,decrease LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff), and inhibit inflammation.

-Green tea may help prevent / improve many conditions from heart disease and diabetes to cancer!

-There is conflicting research on Green Tea and fat loss.  Lets just put it this way: green tea over time may help give you an advantage in losing weight, you are not going to suddenly drop lbs because you start drinking more green tea. If anything I would attribute the weight loss effects of green tea to its mild caffiene content (Slight appetite suppressant) and the fact that it virtually has no calories which is a great thing because we should be eating our calories instead of drinking them!

In order to see some of the health  benefits listed above.  Aim to drink three cups of green or white tea daily and skip the sugar!  Lightly sweetening your tea with honey may improve the antioxidant capacity of your tea.  Make sure that if you are caffeine sensitive or drinking it before bedtime you get the decaffeinated type!  Depending on where its grown and how its brewed green tea can vary highly in caffeine levels... but a typical cup will have somewhere between 20-45 mg or about half or a third a cup of coffee.  Remember that homemade iced tea is a great way to break the monotony of drinking just water... You can make a batch yourself by adding six tea bags of your favorite tea to a pitcher of boiled water and letting it brew for five minutes add lemon and honey until you like the taste and put in the fridge and let cool.  Iced tea like this is a great way to get antioxidants without the extra calories from sugar.

For a while researchers feared that drinking to much tea may be harmful towards thiamine and iron stores important substances in the body.   Americans seem to be fine because a diet that meets its vitamin C needs appears to protect you from the possible side effects of drinking to much tea.  This worry in my opinion is very alarmist and obviously people have drank tea for hundreds of years with no ill effects, but in case you worry anyway squeeze a bit of lemon juice into your tea and remember to eat your fruits and veggies!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Stealth Health Food

If your an athlete that wants a boost in performance, particuarly endurance you may want to experiment with beetroot juice.  A study in 2009 by Bailey et al. in the Journal of Applied Physiology showed that participants supplementing with .5 liters of beetroot juice for 6 days experienced a remarkable increase in performance.

The study measured 8 males cyclist’s time to exhaustion during intensive cycling and found that the participants who used beetroot vs the placebo were able to ride for 92 seconds longer.  Also when they exercised at moderate intensity the amount of oxygen they used was decreased by 19 percent. The researchers believe beetroot juice’s high level of nitrates may be converted to nitric oxide in the body allowing better blood flow to skeletal muscles.

Like all studies there could be a number of flaws, and there is a large confounding variable.  My advice would be to experiment with beetroot juice before a week of heavy conditioning, and see if it helps.  Take one cup of beetroot juice daily for a week.  During this time make sure you record if your making progress, and mentally note whether it has any negative gastrointestinal effects.  If you don’t mind the taste or the purple color it turns your feces, then feel free to use this drink as a staple in your diet.

This study may have implications for other vegetable and vegetable juices as well.  We struggle so much in this soceity to get enough vegetables, so drinking fresh vegetable juice should not be discouraged they can be a great source of carbohydrate and help increase the PH of our blood (Our blood should be slightly basic).  For Body composition, and possibly performance benefits it is never a bad idea to eat a majority of your carbohydrates from fresh vegetable sources.

Why women should lift weights!

     All right girls the goal of this article is to break down the misinformation that holds you back from the body you deserve!  YOU WILL NOT GET BIG WEIGHT LIFTING! Let me repeat you will NOT get big and manly from lifting weights.

                She does not look like a man, but this sexy lady could probably beat one up.

            The myth that women can get bulky has been long standing and has no basis in reality.  The fact of the matter is that females do not have the proper hormonal environment to get big and bulky.  This does not mean to say they cannot build muscle, in fact as they build muscle they will appear leaner and more toned. 
            What isn’t a myth though, is that lifting weights over time will give you that lean sexy physique, make you lose fat in those troubled areas, make you a lot stronger, and improve your bone density.
            Many women get disappointed because they put hours and hours of time into cardio each week, only to be disappointed by their results.  Since results never seem to show this way they then turn to their diet and start drastically lowering calories (starving).  This compounds the problem because now instead of losing fat they begin to lose fat and any muscle that they had at the same time.  What ends up happening is that you run and diet and eventually become a skinnier version of your old self.  How many girls run and run and find that there whole body starts to get skinny except there stomach and love handles!?
            Running yourself into the ground is not the way to lose fat.  The way to do that is through a balanced approach between a smart diet, resistance training, and cardio.
            Most importantly out of the three above is dieting.  You cannot out train a bad diet no matter what you do.  Getting your diet in check is the number one step towards getting that shapely body you have wanted.  The next biggest factor is weight lifting, yes you heard me correctly weight lifting is MORE important than cardio. This is because weight lifting is muscle sparing, as you shift into a caloric deficit (dieting) your body will be forced to lose fat exclusively!  Lifting weights in combination with your diet will give you that toned look you desire.  I want to clarify that we aren’t talking about little pink dumbbells here.  Lifting weights that challenge your muscles for 5-12 reps is ideal. Heavy resistance training to build the muscle, so that you can diet down and show it.
            Finally once you have your diet and resistance training down then and only then should you add cardio, because it is the least important factor for achieving your ideal physique.  And there is no need to spin your wheels running for hours on end.  When trying to lose fat it is not the calories that we burn during exercise that must be focused on.  Instead we are trying to build a consistent calorie deficit over the course of a week.  For instance you could burn about 500 calories running for an hour.  Or you could just cut out five hundred calories from you diet a day which depending on your diet means cutting out a bagel and substituting those cookies you’ve been eating for a handful of berries.  Which is harder???
            The point is this. To get the best results turn your mind towards your diet as opposed to your cardio.  Next get a good balance between cardio and resistance training.

Use this program to get the toned body you desire- it can be modified depending on your level of fitness (read notes below).  Consistency in your diet and resistance training will give you best results.

Barbell Squat 3*8
Lunge 2*8
Jump rope 10 minutes
Plank on elbows and toes work up to a minute

Pull up 3*8
Deadlift 2*5
Inverted row 3*8
Reverse flies 3*10
Bicep curl 2*8
Hammer curl 1*8

Dumbbell Bench Press 3*8
Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3*8
Dips 2*8
Lateral raise 2*8
YTW 3*10 (minimal weight)
Pushups 3*8
Body plank work up to a minute

Hit the weights and watch your body transform week to week you wont believe your eyes.


This is a simple Legs Push Pull routine for weight training.  It can be done before or after some cardio work.  Depending on your current training level you can make changes to make it easier/harder.  Most gyms have assistance machines for pull-ups and dips, you can modify pushups to make it easier etc.  If you have never squatted or lunged before use bodyweight at first and build your way up to using resistance.  Get a trainer to show you correct form.  Good form is a must and you should take your time to learn it in order to keep your self-safe.  If you are obsessed with doing abs you can do your own work on the leg day.  It is important to note that just like any other muscle the abdominals grow during rest and should not be trained everyday of the week.  Rest between sets should be between 1-2 minutes.  This workout should take no longer than 45 minutes including a proper warm up.  Use weights that are challenging to you, and make sure that week to week you either increase the amount of weight you do on an exercise or the number of reps you can get with the same weight.  Adding weight to the bar is the best indicator that you are building muscle and intensity is key.  Make sure to check with your doctor if you are fit for activity.  If you are obese or new to activity start little and work your way up over time and get moving.  This workout does not seem that challenging but if you keep adding weight to the bar it becomes difficult in no time.  If you have any questions post in the comments below ill try to answer them as quick as possible.

Your ability to recover from this workout will determine how much cardio you can do in a week.  I would suggest doing twenty minutes of intense cardio three days a week in addition to this weight training.  Changing your forms of cardio will keep it fun and help you avoid injuries.  Try swimming, cycling, kickboxing etc.  Push yourself during cardio and you will get more accomplished in less time.  Make sure that you are taking at least one day a week to do NO ACTIVITY, and if you are dieting at least two days.  Once again it is not worth worrying about the calories burned during exercise! Diet will be responsible for at least fifty percent of your progress, followed by weightlifting. Stayed tuned for an article on how a simple no stress diet can give you that toned physique you are looking for.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How much DYA BENCH?

I remember a while ago one of my buddies said a personal trainer told him not to bench because its bad for shoulder health!  This Personal Trainer had good intentions but was very misinformed.  The Bench Press just like with any exercise done incorrectly can place you at an increased risk of injury.    You should recognize that Bench Pressing with good form using a program that is balanced is a great way to pack on slabs of muscle and lots of strengh to your upper body.   To learn about a safe way to bench read on...

Bench Press Body Placement: The first step for a safe and effective bench press is to line up the bench. A lot of gym’s do not have the free weight benches bolted to the floor and get misaligned through daily use. A lot of gym goers overlook this and in some ways it can be insignificant, but by making sure the bench is straight it will allow you to more easily position your body. It is not 100% important to line the bench up perpendicular to a wall but it is something that I have learned to do that makes it a lot easier to get my body in the right position. It is up to you what you line the bench up with, but try to pick something and do that every day you get on the bench. Some gyms will have the free weight bench bolted, which means you will be lined up already.  
Once the bench is lined up how you want, check to make sure that if the barbell is resting securely. A quick shake will tell you if for example a peg is fully locked in. Doing this is extremely important for users at all levels because normally when you rack the weight you want it to stay racked rather than have your weights slide off, or worse have it drop on you. After loading your weight sit on the front of the bench with your back to the bar. When you look down at your legs they should be roughly at a 45 degree angle to the bench (this is where it helps to have things lined up with the walls). You then want to square up so that your shoulders are parallel with the bar. Take a deep breath so that your chest is out and your shoulders are back, there should be an arch in your lower back. This is the position you want to maintain when you lay back onto the bench. Lay back and adjust your butt as necessary so that you can reach the following appropriate position under the bar. 
When you are under the bar you want to line yourself up so that your eyes when looking straight ahead are roughly centered on the bar, basically if a line was drawn vertically down from the bar it would hit your eye. It is okay to be a little bit below or a little bit above depending on your torso size, but by doing this when you take the bar out to where you will press it you will have clearance from the rack, and the bar will go right to where you want to perform the exercise while putting minimal strain and potential for injury on the shoulders, as well as clear the rack so you do not hit it while performing the exercise. 
There are many ways to grip the bar to perform a proper bench press, and those will be explored further in another segment. The golden rule however is symmetry, as long as you have symmetry you will be safe, the width of your grip will depend on what your goals are. Almost all barbells have two strips on them where the bar is not knurled. What ever width you decide, make sure each hand is grabbing the bar in the same spot in relation to these strips. For example I grip the bar 2 fingers in from these smooth patches.  

To sum up, when you are ready to take the bar off the rack here is a checklist to run through:  

1. You are square with the bar 
2. Your legs are at roughly a 45 degree angle from the bench on both sides 
3. Your eyes are approximately level with the Bar 
4. Your chest is out and lower back is arched so that your shoulders and butt are both in constant contact with the bench 5. Your hands are gripping the bar symmetrically