I have an ongoing column for Men’s Fitness called The Fit 5. I answer reader’s questions about fitness, nutrition, and general awesomeness. [ I'm not the only trainer who does it - other smart folk do it as well. ] But, it’s fun and I’ve done enough of ‘em that I wanted to round up all of my Q&A’s in one easy-to-read collection. I’ll be updating these as new Fit 5′s get published. So snuggle up to your computer, grab a post workout protein shake and enjoy.Bro-hugz, Rob
Plyometrics are an oft misunderstood and oft misutilized facet of training. Let’s clear up some of the confusion:
1) Understanding Plyometrics asked by Tom Riley
What are plyometrics and what’s the point of doing them?
Plyometrics are any movement that utilizes the Stretch-Shortening Cycle (SSC). They’re drills that are aimed at linking strength and speed, especially with fundamental movement patterns like jumping, bounding, and throwing. So think: squat jumps, bounds (1 leg take off, opposite 1 leg landing), hops (1 leg take-off, same 1 leg landing), and med ball throws.
2) Using Plyos asked by Gregory Moran
Is plyometric training a sport-specific form of training or are there functional applications to everyday living?
Bandana: Great question. While plyos are definitely paramount for athletes, anyone can benefit from an improved ability to coordinate high speed movements. So, it’s a win for everyone.
3) Plyometric Progressions asked by This Fit Chick
How do you progress with plyometric training?
Bandana: There are many ways to progress plyo’s. Here’s my favorite:1) Non-Countermovement Plyo’s (ex: squat and pause before jumping.) 2) Countermovement Plyo’s. (ex: stand tall, quickly squat and jump.) 3) Double Contact Plyo’s (ex: hop forward then quickly squat and jump.) 4) Continuous Plyo’s (squat jump, squat jump, squat jump, etc.)
You can also move from simple to complex movements (ex: linear jumps to lateral jumps) OR from a stable base to a less stable base (ex: two legs to one leg.)
What I DON’T love to see is simply adding weight to plyometrics. Initially, there are more intelligent ways to progress.
4) Details of Plyo Workouts asked by Colin Lane
How many sets, reps should I be doing? How about frequency and when/where in my programming should I include plyometrics?
Bandana: Generally speaking you want quality over quantity. I LOVE plyo’s at the beginning of my workouts as a form of neural activation. Should take about 10 minutes, 2-3 different movements, 5-8 sets, 3-6 reps. Less intelligent in my book – plyo’s at the end of the workout as a form a cardio (technically, you could consider sprinting a form of plyo, and sprinting is teh great cardio, but I consider sprinting sprinting and plyo’s plyo’s.)
5) Advantages/Disadvantages asked by Courtney Selig
How do the advantages of plyometrics outweigh the disadvantages when training?
Bandana: Smart question. When executed properly and used in reasonable volume, plyometrics help prevent injury and improve performance. But poor form, misguided progressions, or crazy-ass volume leads to the opposite of that. Any time you start getting fast and explosive, you’ve gotta be thoughtful with your training.
MAXIMIZING YOUR CARDIO
Bandana Badass James Livsey asks: “What’s the difference between cardio to increase my endurance and cardio to help me shed body fat?”
Lovely question. It’s really a matter of volume vs. intensity. If you want increase your endurance, your primary training progression should be volume. That means workouts should get longer and longer. If you want to get shredtastic, your primary training progression should be intensity. That means workouts should get more and more Crazysaurace (technical term.) Of course, the relationships aren’t that simple, but that’s a good place to start.
Bandana Badass Shane Wigley asks: How can one person use TABATA wisely??
Bandana: A true Tabata protocol is 20s On/10s off x 8 at SUPER high intensity (what would be comparable to 170% of your VO2 max.) Let’s be clear about this: THAT’S REALLY F’IN HARD. Most people cannot and should not start with Tabata. If you want to use the protocol wisely, modify it to suit your current state of fitness. That means you (probably) need to reduce the work-to-rest ratio to allow you to go balls-out. 8s on/22s off might be a good place to start.
Also, just for the record, you need to pick an appropriate exercise. You can’t do Tabata pushups. You just can’t make ‘em intense enough. You can do 8 sets of pushups for 20s and then rest 10s, but that isn’t Tabata. Sleds/prowler, fan bike, battling ropes, and hill sprints tend to work well.
Bandana Badass Thomas Ginty asks: “Should you still do cardio whilst gaining muscle?”
Bandana: First of all, nice use of “whilst.” Second of all, no need. If you want to absolutely optimize muscle gain (especially if you’re a hard gainer), stay off the treadmill and use your nutrition to manage body fat.
Bandana Badass Cone Nueve Once asks: “Let’s get this answered and over with: Fasted Cardio vs. Fed Cardio, which one is better?”
Bandana: I wish the answer was more straightforward: unfortunately different people respond to fasting differently. Some people feel energized and almost buzzed, others feel like absolutely dogshit. Fasted cardio can be super effective for some (they’ll swear by it and spread the news like it’s gospel.) For others it’s just painful. My recommendation? Try it. If it works for you, stick with it. It it doesn’t, find something else that does.
Bandana Badass Danny Gutierrez asks: “Can powerlifting be considered cardio? i.e.- deadlifts, cleans…I always feel 10 times more winded after these types of exercises.”
Bandana: YES. Absolutely YES. Start thinking outside the treadmill. Anything that challenges your cardiovascular system can be considered, um, cardiovascular training. If you set up resistance training appropriately, it can be very effective cardio. Just ask Charles Poliquin. I’m pretty sure that treadmills actually self-destruct when he walks by them, but he has numerous resistance protocols that elicit very powerful cardiovascular training effects.
Protein vs. Fat — asked by John Paitrew
Is it true that too much protein turns into fat?
“Sure, too much of anything turns into fat—it’s how your body stores energy and your body wants to store energy. But as a general rule, protein isn’t your enemy. In fact, it’s more metabolically costly to digest—which makes it a friend. A good friend. A strong, lean, delicious friend.”
When to Eat — asked by Teri Ryan
Is it better to eat more frequently throughout the day? Why?
Bandana: ”Generally speaking, yes. It controls hunger, manages blood sugar levels, and gives the body a good excuse to be lean. (I can already hear the proponents of IF angrily typing their response.)”
Abolishing Fat — asked by Adam Holand
What happens if I completely remove all fats from my diet?
Bandana: ”You would donkey-punch your hormone profile, suppress your brain and nervous system function, trample on your ability to manage hunger, become deficient in fat soluble vitamins (and Vitamin D deficiency is already a big problem), and slowly transform into a troll. Okay, I lied about that last part. But fat is an essential part of a healthy diet. Plus…no more peanut butter? Who wants that?”
Clarifying the Glycemic Index — asked by PJ Khal
How much of an impact does the glycemic index of foods have on my body?
Bandana: ”Glycemic index is a measure of how quickly and significantly a certain food raises your blood sugar. Managing your blood sugar is exceptionally important for healthy, lean, feel-good living. Therefore, understanding and appreciating the GI is definitely a step in the right direction. But the story gets a little more complicated than that for a few reasons. One of which is this: the GI is based on a standardized amount of carbs (50g), not a standardized amount of food. Some foods are very carb dense. It’s easy to eat a lot of carbs from bread for example. Other foods are less carb dense. It’s not as easy to eat a ton of carbs from carrots. Carrots have a relatively high GI, but won’t disturb your blood sugar much because of their lower carb density. To understand this more, read up about Glycemic Load, which is the GI multiplied by the serving size of food and is perhaps a more realistic number.”
Fad Diets — asked by Ravij Nuey
Which “diets” have the most ridiculous claims and lack of evidence?
Bandana: “Lots of diets have some degree of crazy talk. I’ve heard of some juice cleanse program that use salts to induce emesis (vomiting)—it’s pure malarkey. The body has remarkable detoxification mechanisms at work. These can and should be helped along with fiber and antioxidants, but not eating and vomiting your face off for 10 days isn’t a step towards health and vitality in my book.”
Packing Must-Haves - asked by Thomas Fanier
What are some things I should always pack for long trips to keep up with my diet?
“Nuts travel exceptionally well (there’s a joke in there somewhere) as does fruit. I also bring whey protein powder for post-workout and I get these cute little packages of natural peanut butter (the airport security Nazi’s will take a bigger jar.)”]
Kenji Roberts asks: What are the best pieces of portable training equipment?
Bandana: ”A lacrosse ball, a TRX, and some running shoes. Soft tissue work + resistance training + energy system training = everything you need.”
Frank Lauden asks: Is it worse to skip a meal or to have a massive cheat meal while on the road?
Barry Andrews asks: How long does it take for muscle to start breaking down after not working out for a while? How can I delay this process while on-the-go?
Jon Issacson asks: What are the most mistakes people make when traveling and trying to stay fit?
IF YOU HAVE A QUESTION, ASK AWAY AMIGO and I’ll be happy to answer ‘em below. If it fits an upcoming topic, I’ll even try to get ya featured on MensFitness.com.
(AND IF YOU JUST WANT TO SAY, “YO ROB…GOOD STUFF”…THAT’S COOL TOO.)