Factors and Variable to Consider in Your Fitness Training


As I further my education within exercise physiology and nutrition, I can never give enough respect to the true complexity of the human body.   As I know, training can be very frustrating from time to time.  As frustrating as it may be, it is surely fascinating as well.   There is no such thing as a “one size fits all” science or art relative to training as I have been continually preaching.   I often get the question “Which is better for losing weight? Cardio? Strength? Pilates? Yoga? Dieting?  My answer is always the same: All of it.  You need everything, one is no better than the other.

Finding what order you need to do all of your training in the amount of time given is always the challenging part.  I always encourage people to try new things in their regime.  You always hear the phase “keep your muscles guessing”.  Well physiologically, your muscles don’t have brains, however it is human nature to get sick of repetition.  When I compete, I can tell I get better workouts from going to different gyms, or working out with different partners from time to time.  The different environment and social aspect is the psychologically challenging component of training as well.  If there is a new class list on your gym that you think you may want to take, take it!  If there is a piece of equipment in the gym you have never tried then you should try it.  People always want to train what they are either good at or comfortable with.

Girls and guys both drive me nuts when it comes to training.  Today I am going to pick on the girls (of course I would take the male side, sorry ladies). Women ALWAYS think that strength training is going to make them heavier and bulkier.  I read a study one time that said 1 in 100,000 women had the hormonal imbalance to hypertrophy from strength training.  I have made multiple women fitness queens, as well as model figures in my years of professional training.  There is no miraculous way of “toning” a muscle, trust me I know.  I work with competitive figure athletes as well as models on a regular basis.  The average mentality of a girl is to eat a little and do cardio until you drop to have the perfect toned body.  Well girls, that’s not the way it works!  When I have girls working at maximum efficiency I have them eating as many as 6 eggs a day or 6 ounces of fish!

When girls start getting the shape and “toned” look in their arms, they are experiencing muscular hypertrophy.  The cross sectional area of skeletal muscle expands and becomes more dense in appearance.  When this happens, women also have a decrease in adipose tissue and retention which literally makes them appear smaller but in all actuality they have gotten “bigger”.  The WORST thing girls do is use body weight as a measurement of progression.  When girls look their best for me, sometimes they have gained 12lbs and  lost 4 inches off their waist.  Their arms gained 2 inches in circumference but in appearance looked like they lost 4 inches in circumference.

Body shape is such an illusion.  Anthropemedic measurements and simply the way your clothes fit is the BEST way to measure progression.  I love training girls the best because they are the most challenging for me to get their total belief in me.  In their defense, why should they believe in me if I’m a bodybuilder who works with professional killers?  Women are NO DIFFERENT than guys in training.  The only thing that is different in women is the hormone, estrogen which is the most understood hormone there is (sorry girls).  All training studies with women are so fascinating with the results that show up being that every study always shows constant inconsistency.  Menstrual cycles have always fascinated me personally as well as how much weight is gained, duration of cycle, nutrition pattern change, it is all so different.

I have seen women not gain any weight and I have seen women fluctuate 12lbs.  All of these relative variables dictate what time of fitness program and diet plan a girl should do and for optimal peaks and recovery.  Women also need to understand that they are not supposed to have only 4% body fat.  As you can never tell a girl that their optimum range for health is normally between 18 to 26%, it’s the truth.  Women are supposed to have more fat on their body because of the hormone estrogen.  I have dealt with women that their optimum levels are lower than that, and vice versa.  I noticed my optimum level of body fat percentage is in between 8-12%.  When I go above or below these levels I have various types of negative responses from my body.  Nate is totally different, he is meant to be 6-9% bodyfat.  Life isn’t fair, deal with it!

The biggest myths are taught to us by society and media.  I had a fitness model friend who was a great friend of mine.  She was built like you wouldn’t believe and was featured in magazines.  She told me she went to a shoot and weighed in at 125lbs at 5”3.  On her magazine ad they brushed her photo and totally manipulated her look and said she was 5’3 102lbs. Get the point?  Stay away from bodyweight it will only frustrate you, go by the pants/dress size.

I had a trainer approach me the other day and ask me if I wanted to get my body fat tested.  Being a bodybuilder, I know where and what my body fat is all year round simply because I know my body.  He was of course trying to get me to use a bioimpedance hand held body fat analyzer.  The theory behind bioimpedance is it sends an electrical current through your body and fat is not a good conductor of electricity.  Little do most people know, it is still based upon an educated guess.  When I was in my last show chiseled to the bone, it read me at 19% body fat.  I looked and it and said they are a waste of time and are far from accurate.  The BEST way to know what your body is at is to get access to a Dexa Scan.  Universities also have the POD (air displacement) and Hydrodensity Underwater Weighing.  In the clinical world, Dexa’s are used to measure bone density in women to analyze if one is at risk for osteoporosis or osteonpenia.  I worked in research in the clinical field for awhile so I got to use these often and see how really different people are with their somatotypes.  People have different adipose (fat) tissue types percentages/locations, muscle mass densities, connective tissues, fibers, tendon/ligament length, mineral content, bone structure, vitamin and fluid ratios, blood lipid profiles, the list goes on.

It is truly unreal how different we all really were made, which makes us all individuals and human.  Take for instance different somatotypes (Body types) using a chicken and a duck for a basic analogy.  A chicken is not meant to fly for a long time in the air whereas a duck is and vice versa.  A turkey has both white and dark meat and can do a little in between.  We all are also constructed like this, however much more complex.  Some of us have type 1 muscle fibers, some type 2, some type 2x, and so on.  The only way to truly know what somatotype we are, is to do an actual biopsy on ourselves (which we obviously wouldn’t do).   We can have a basis idea of what somatype we are by doing cardiovascular and strength assessment exercises.  Having a basic understanding of what somatotype we are helps understand what kind of fitness program works best for us so we know what our strengths and weaknesses will be.  If someone is a fast twitch fiber somatotype, I know I can not give high volume exercise loads in cardiovascular fitness or else they will be sore for weeks.  Vice versa, a slow twitch fiber person can not do heavy squats without totally shutting their bodies down.  Both somatypes of humans should still do anaerobic (strength training) and aerobic exercise but in a fashion that is must suitable to them.  Because of this, it is TOTALLY wrong to ever compare yourself to anybody else.  You will get nowhere if you think your results will be the same as your training partner.  Believe it or not, what Nate and I do are totally different with our training styles and nutrition regimes based up different somatotypes, likes, needs, recovery, etc.

When considering weight loss/muscle gain programs you have to consider one thing and one thing only, metabolism.  There are so many factors that affect our metabolism positively and negatively.  Training and nutrition are only a small part of the game.  Whatever we put in our bodies will affect our metabolism, most people don’t understand that.  If you are on medications/supplements you ultimately are changing your body biochemistry and cellular filtration which ultimately changes your metabolic pathways. Smoking cigarettes effects respiration pathways, constricts vessels, decreases oxygen distribution to tissue, and so many more negative variables which in return affects metabolism.  Alcohol is my favorite one to try to explain to people.  Clients often try to “bargain” with me over their alcohol consumption and how they can drink without having any harmful effect.  I love alcohol just as much as the next person but I can personally vouch that it negatively affects training.  Alcohol interferes with the protein synthesis phenomenon, effects blood sugar levels, dehydrates your body causing tons of negative effects I can’t even begin to list, increases parasympathetic responses, the list goes on.  Bottom line, don’t drink all of the time if you are totally serious about being the best you can be.

I mentioned recently that I have been perfecting different postural tactics with my training that is taking me to a whole new level.  I look better than I ever have and feel better than I ever have, and I didn’t even start dieting.  My intensity of training is only at 70% unless I am training with my UFC bad boy.  I have been waking up soaked in sweat which is a great sign of high metabolic rate and thermogenesis (my internal fire is hot).  I normally only experience this when I am dieting and training hard 4 weeks out from a show.  I also have been noticing my hair stinks, breath stinks, body odor (laugh) which is something totally new to me?  I always like to think I smell like roses, but not anymore.  I am obviously changing my body PH level and put myself into a state of ketosis, which in return totally changes metabolic pathways.  Because of this I must increase my carbohydrate intake as well as fluid ratio’s and amounts (electrolyte, potassium, etc) to make myself less alkaline.  I run into this problem with The Barbarian often with alkalinity when he gets close to training.  This can be a very frustrating because you have to be dynamic in the sense of changing the total package.

I certainly am not trying to scare everyone with all the variables and factors that ultimately play factors in their regimes.  I never want to overload people rather than show them there are other things to consider when you are doing your program.  Know if you conquer one aspect of training that there is something else you can deal with to only evolve in your training as well as yourself.  I love challenging myself to do things that are hard for me.  I like being bad at things so it challenges me to do something different.  Most guys never want to train their backs because they can’t see themselves in the mirror.  Training my back is one of my most favorite things in the world simply because I don’t feel I’m as good at it.

Hormones (testosterone, estrogen, cortisol, thyroid, endorphins, GH, etc), ph levels, anthrokinematics, postural tactics, muscular imbalances, neuromuscular deficiencies, sleep patterns, lever lengths, structural components, lifestyle, medications, somatotypes, pathologies, stress, blood profiles, cognitive factors, and so many more ultimately truly matter what makes us all so different and play in our programs.  I personally think everyone’s program should be totally different.  I only try to show that there is always a solution to the problem you are having.  Training should not be lift a lot of weights, run like Forest Gump and eat rabbit food; it’s so much more complex and relative.

As I preach training is complex, my philosophies of training are still relatively so simple.  In the professional exercise physiology world all of the studies of training are showing maximal muscle performance, fat loss increase to training in a “proprioceptive challenged unstable environment”.   The problem with humans as in the entire world is we got too smart and need to go back to the basics.  Look at the most fit people there ever were, Neanderthals, Indians, barbarians (had to add that), Greeks, etc.  Theses warriors hunted for their “organic” food climbing trees, spearing animals, and carrying their meat our in different dynamic and diverse positions.  They had their own “organic” gardens; fished for salmon, picked berries which are now terms “antioxidants” All we did was make simple living said fancy and confusing.  Now everyone wants to drink these magic potion shakes and take as many supplements pills they can get their hands on.  My favorite MMA figher (Sorry Boetsch) is Allistair Overeem.  He eats wild horse meat and shark and swears by it.  I totally buy into this.  Think about it, why would eating chicken and tuna get you taught?  I noticed my maximum benefits from eating Elk and Moose meat with recovery, strength, and fat loss.  Now we have the Bosu balls that we are doing squats and curls on for this special training.  I always said you can have the most expensive machine there is out there and I can still get a better workout in my backyard.

I just purchased a pair of the “skeletoes” which are like gloves for your feet (Some people have vibrams).  Well that whole idea to me to me makes perfect sense.  When you wear shoes you change the anthrokinematics of your metacarpal joints (ankle), which can cause tightening of your gastrocs, which can make your abductors overactive, etc etc.  I just wrote a 20 page paper in my Masters Degree class on how an inverted right toe and cause shoulder pain.  Believe it or not, it can ask any physical therapist. If it were up to me I would hunt all day and fish for my training and diet.  I would be built better than I ever have I’m sure.

Your body is ultimately a very sensitive kinetic chain that wants to work least stressed as possible.  Our bodies do not like to be in pain and want to work at a high level of efficiency. V02 increase can be increased by simply brining your chin back in everyday daily function.  You can have a cosmetic change in our body by simply static stretching your IT band for 30 seconds which wouldn’t cause compensations of other muscles. The human body was made to move, finding out what movements best suite us as an individual is the challenging part.  In your workout, it’s not about how long you are in, it’s how efficient you are when you are there.  I always make sure my hips are in line, with my knees and my ankles (12 o’clock).  Of course macho guys want to just make sure how much weight they demonstrate so they can brag to their buddies.  Don’t worry guys; I am going to blast you with a human physics 101 on weight demonstration and lever lengths.  I will probably make you all feel like little girls when I tell you that you need to go back to Pilates and stabilization in order to get max results.

Keep working hard everyone and challenge yourself to try something new, you will only evolve and reward yourself. Train hard, but smart.


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2 Responses to “Factors and Variable to Consider in Your Fitness Training”

  1. rocky Says:

    Very true! But once a women embraces the iron, her body transforms!

  2. Christina Teter Says:

    Great article…….very insightful

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