I want to let you in on a little secret –
Being stubborn works in my favor sometimes…
Sometimes it doesn’t.
In fact, sometimes it blows up in my face leaving me with a
near unrecoverable mess.
Case in point –
January 31, 2005.
Best workout in almost a decade and of course I injure myself.
Tore the labrum in my right hip.
Do I stop?
I was weighing a pretty solid 230 pounds at that time and moving
some serious weight. So I tried to ignore the problem, because,
you know, I captain of my own ship, master of my own destiny
and all that.
April of 2005 I bit the bullet after floundering through my
workouts and severe hip spasms and pain.
Furthermore, because I refused to follow a normal course and
try to work around the injury and “attack” it head on –
NOTE RANT: I am so sick of hearing about workouts
that “attack this” and “destroy that.” That’s just about the
stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. You don’t want to destroy
or attack any part of your body. If you do, why not just go
the whole nine yards and mutilate yourself or cut something
Back to the idiotic “attack” thing…
The problem was that every time I did something, I was in
pain, so I had to work extra hard to fight through that pain
both physically and psychologically. The cortisol levels must’ve
been off the charts.
I should’ve just did what I know to do now.
Instead, like I said, I just kept banging away trying to attack
the problem head on.
Not only did I get physically weaker, I lost muscle.
My bodyweight dropped from 230 down to 220lb.
But it was worse than that.
By the end of the year, I had LOST 18 pounds of MUSCLE,
but I also put on almost 10 pounds of pure fat.
I think you’d agree – that’s NOT GOOD.
You may be wondering how do I know those numbers?
1) I had my body fat measured.
2) My training journal.
(Key points to remember: You should measure your results
AND track/record them. Otherwise, how will you know if
you’re making progress?)
I was 230 pounds at 11% body fat and ended up a year later
at 220 pounds and 15% body fat. That’s a net loss of 18 pounds
of muscle and a net gain of 8 pounds of fat.
Makes me sick right now just remembering it.
But, live and learn and pass it on, right?
So here’s the deal –
Here’s how you avoid doing the WRONG workouts:
You have to rotate your annual priorities.
Just like nature has seasons, and athletes have seasons, your
training should have seasons too.
– You can’t always be on a fat loss program.
– You can’t always be on a strength program.
– You can’t always be on a muscle-building program.
– And you certainly shouldn’t get trapped in the corrective
exercise morass either.
Truth be told, when you plan your year, you should have
ALL FOUR of those goals as part of your programming at
one time or another.
Glad you asked.
Let’s take everybody’s two favorite training goals – fat loss
and getting stronger and see how they can be not only
self-limiting, but self-sabotaging as well.
Seems like everybody is on a kettlebell fat loss program at
one time or another. Then why is it people don’t always (if
ever, truth be told) reach their goals?
Because they start at the wrong place.
They start at a fat loss program.
Fat loss is ultimately about one thing only:
Creating the optimum hormonal environment for fat
loss to occur.
And yes, a caloric deficit can sometimes help do that,
depending on your activity (and stress) levels. (I’ve seen
people with high activity levels actually gain weight using
traditional calorie cutting strategies.)
But if you’re walking around in massive amounts of pain, or
even low-grade chronic pain like I was, there’s a better than
good chance that optimum hormonal environment doesn’t
exist, nor will it anytime soon.
Because pain alters movement mechanics and creates low
First – the altered movement mechanics.
Let’s just say you have chronically tight hip flexors. There’s
a better than good chance that if that’s the case, your deep
abdominal stabilizers won’t be working correctly, if at all.
And that means that when you load your spine and pelvis, i.e.
through kettlebell swings, that you’re swinging in a dysfunctional
movement pattern that has the potential to hurt you.
Maybe you’ve experienced that – your lower back gets overly
tight from doing swings. And maybe it’s sore the next day.
No amount of technique work in the world will fix that. You
have to address the root cause, that deep abdominal stabilizer
Same thing with knee pain, shoulder pain, or any other kind
of pain or discomfort.
Pain makes you move away from it. And you end up using
other muscles than the ones you’re trying to use. And because
you’re not using the right muscles at the right times, you’re
using the wrong ones at the wrong times. (Duh.)
And that means you’re less efficient.
Which, in terms of fat loss – that means you’re not working
as hard as you could be, or should be, which means you’re
burning less calories.
And burning less calories means that fat is going to stay stuck
on your body.
Which of course means you’re going to feel more frustration,
because what’s supposed to be working in theory is not
working in practice.
Now about that chronic inflammation…
When you’re in pain, or are just moving poorly, you can
induce what’s called low grade chronic inflammation.
That means your body’s stress hormones get out of whack.
(Yeah, “out of whack” is the technical term. LOL.)
Your cortisol levels become chronically elevated. Cortisol,
mobilizes blood sugar stored in your muscles to be used for
energy. The problem is, you don’t actually need that extra
energy. So, your body releases insulin, the storage hormone,
to put that blood sugar back in the muscle. And around and
around the cycle goes.
Your body eventually becomes what’s known as “insulin
resistant” – meaning it needs to release more and more insulin
to get the same amount of blood sugar into your muscle cells.
In the meantime, you’re still eating what you’re supposed to
be eating, so your blood sugar is naturally rising and falling,
based on your hormonal functions.
The problem becomes your body can no longer store all that
blood sugar where it belongs – in muscle cells – because of the
constant release of cortisol and insulin, so it starts storing it
as fat. Particularly fat on your stomach and on your sides.
So, your fat loss program could actually be making you
What should you do instead?
Find and fix your movement issues and get rid of those
aches and pains.
I just glanced back at the length of this email and to keep it
from getting too long, I’ll go into the details tomorrow.
In the meantime, I want to leave you with this thought about
getting stronger –
Is it possible to lose muscle while on a pure strength
And if so, what would that do to your body in the long run?
We’ll answer that question tomorrow…