Be A Nostrabadass

“Strong people are harder to kill than weak people and more useful in general,” is a famous quote by strength coach and author Mark Rippetoe.

A recent study seems to corroborate that opinion. The American Journal Of Medicine published research that puts an interesting spin on predicting life expectancy. They found that older folks who are underweight have similar morbidity rates as those who are overweight.

According to the scientists, the most accurate determinant of lifespan is how much muscle you have as you get older. At first, researchers divided the participants into bodyweight categories, but they could find no link with mortality rates. When the subjects were grouped according to their amount of lean body mass, it became clear that those with plenty of muscle were 20 percent less likely to die. It could be because muscles better utilize glucose or the way they protect the elderly from falling, but Rippetoe summed it up best: Muscular people just don’t die as easily.

I’m In Trouble? Urine Trouble.

Proper hydration is vital for optimum health, strength, performance, and a fast metabolism. Hydration needs are highly individual, though. Size, activity level, and climate all play a role.

A brand-new study from the European Journal Of Nutrition has found an easy way to assess your own hydration status: by looking at the color of your urine. The first study of its kind, scientists utilized an eight-shade scale to measure the relationship between fluid intake and urine color. They found that a two-shade difference indicated a significant reduction in total fluid intake. The lighter the color the greater the amount of fluid has been consumed.

Ideally, you want to see a consistent color that is almost clear. Tracking the color throughout the day is an easy way to gauge if your hydration habits are helping or hindering our fitness goals.

Lead From The Front

When it comes to training, nutrition, and now supplements, Kris Gethin is always the first one through the door.   

By Mike Carlson


PQ: “The one thing I have always loved about fitness is that you are always learning. I always say, ‘Knowledge without mileage is bullshit.’ Unless you try it yourself, you never know.”

 PQ: “You should always have some type of goal that leads to the next chance to better yourself. Everyone wants to reward and overindulge, and next thing you know they need another transformation.”

Late on a recent evening, Kris Gethin returned to his house in Boise, Idaho, from 12 straight hours of travel. His day consisted of hotels, shuttles, cars, planes, and airports. When Gethin finally arrived home close to midnight, he did something very few people in the fitness industry would do.

“I sat outside for an hour even though it was dark out,” he says. “I just sat in my garden underneath the stars to get fresh air into my system.”

No social media, no late-night workout, no well-deserved beer, no Netflix and chill. Fresh air and nature has become a health priority for Gethin. Last year, Gethin—who has created and quarterbacked dozens of physical transformations for tens of thousands of fitness enthusiasts—underwent a life-changing transformation of his own. Suffering under the dark cloud of depression and insomnia, he spent six weeks with Dr. Rick Sponaugle in Florida, who helped guide him through a complete lifestyle reboot.

“I am in a really good place now. I’ve been living a much healthier lifestyle. I don’t generally stay in air-conditioned units, I eat organically, I have my weekly colonic, and I detox a lot,” he says. “My body responds better. It is easier to lose body fat, maintain muscle, and build muscle. A couple years ago I had a lot of niggling issues in my back, knees, and biceps tendons. I don’t have any of these aches and pains, and I am not training any lighter or easier. I am eating less, but I’m able to put on muscle because I’m assimilating my foods much better. And I’m able to lose fat because I believe my cortisol levels are that much lower now.”

This type of intrepid experience is classic Gethin. During his years in fitness publishing and as the former editor in chief of, he was always his own best guinea pig, testing every workout program and dietary strategy on himself before reporting on it. “Knowledge without mileage is bullshit” is a favorite quote of his. (A recent e-mail to Gethin was returned with an auto-response stating: “I will be offline for a Digital Detox and Juice Fast until next week. I will not be reachable via phone or email during this time.”)

His hunger for experience stems from his desire to share effective findings with his legion of followers. It’s this devotion to his fellow fitness junkies that inspired him to create Kaged Muscle, a boutique supplement line that is an industry game-changer in terms of quality, integrity, and transparency.

Mike Carlson: You’re a bit of a transformation guru. Are you better at the workout part of the transformations or motivating people to do the work?

Kris Gethin: It all depends on what the person has taken from me and what they need. Some people work in automatic and just need the education. Some people are extremely educated and know everything they need to do, but they just don’t do it, so they need the motivation. I can’t say what I am better at. All I can say is that I try to give out every leg of that stool to sit up in, and if one of those legs are short, they are going to fall off.

MC: What’s the most common problem people have while trying to transform their physiques?  

KG: Number one is that people reward themselves with the wrong thing. When they reward themselves, they think of food. They want what they think they can’t have even though they don’t really enjoy themselves when they can have it. Some people overindulge because they create a mindset that they need to overindulge at the end of a transformation. I just finished an eight-week transformation, and I went out and got myself some triathlete gear. I got a new bike, a bike fit, a wetsuit, and touch-up on a tattoo. Part of a reward goes to my next goal. You should always have some type of goal that leads to the next chance to better yourself. Everyone wants to reward and overindulge, and next thing you know they need another transformation.


MC: What kind of diet do you follow?

KG: It’s a pescatarian diet. It’s made up of whey isolate protein after my workout and a cold-filtered micellar casein shake at night. Every other meal is egg whites or fish, along with a carb source that is usually quinoa or sweet potato or gluten-free oats. I eat gluten-free as well. And then my fibrous vegetables such as spinach, kale, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, and lettuce. And my fruits are just a little blueberries, strawberries, and pineapple.

MC: Is it difficult to eat well when you travel so much? 

KG: It is difficult, so I pack as much as I can. I’ll get myself salads at airports. Sometime I’ll get three at a time and put them in my Tupperware. I was at a Holiday Inn Express yesterday, and I was eating boiled egg whites and dipping them in low-fat Greek yogurt—it tasted awesome. And then I bring packets of oats, tuna packets, and Ziploc bags of protein power and Pre-Kaged.

MC: What are your workouts like?

KG: I do various rep schemes all in one workout. I use both low reps and heavy weights, and high reps and still heavy weights. I combine them both, so I attack the fast-twitch and slow-twitch fibers all in one go. Generally, I’ll start with the high-rep principle and use that as a warm-up. I’ll go to failure, so it’s counted as a working set. I’ll increase from there until I get to a low-rep range, which is about 10 reps for me. And then I’ll go back down the pyramid until I get to 40 to 50 reps. I rest during the low reps for two to three minutes, but when I’m doing the high reps I only rest for 30 to 45 seconds because I’m trying to encounter sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, which is encouraged through high reps and shorter rest periods.

MC: The online fitness world seems to attract dogmatic characters, but you have always seemed remarkably open to change.

KG: The one thing I have always loved about fitness is that you are always learning. I always say, “Knowledge without mileage is bullshit.” Unless you try it yourself, you never know.  So I love to test things, and once I test something, and if it’s new, I will adapt to it and tell as many people as possible. I have always been that way. I never participated in team sports. I never enjoyed that. I like to “test and not guess” to see if anything would help me achieve something greater than the next person. I have always been open to that because I want to evolve.

MC: You use the words “toxins” and “detox” a lot, but to knowledgeable fitness people that sounds like Gwyneth Paltrow-esque junk science.

KG: I think they’re looking at it the wrong way. Maybe they think that detox means “cleanse,” but it does not. It means “fighting free-radical damage.” When I say “detox,” I mean different things that stop free-radical damage or bring our cortisol levels down. I think people take detox to mean cleanse—it’s a problem with the translation or perception of it.

MC: What kind of toxins are you referring to?

KG: Environmental toxins. In a house, you have a lot of cleaning toxins, you have pesticides on our food, contaminants in our water, so I make sure I always have the windows open whether it’s hot or cold outside. We basically live in gas chambers now. Air conditioning only been introduced in the last 35 years, and during that time there as been a huge increase in various issues, whether they be viral, cancers, or emotional disorders such as depression and anxiety. I find that is no coincidence. I use a travel filter for my shower at the hotel so I don’t absorb any contaminants through the pores of my skins. And I take certain supplements like selenium, glutathione, and alpha lipoic-acid to make sure I’m detoxifying my body.


MC: And you have brought this health-forward mindset to your supplement line, Kaged Muscle?

KG: Every ingredient in Kaged Muscle is third-party tested that they are free of any heavy-metal contaminants. There are fermented ingredients, organic ingredients, patented ingredients, they are all BSCG [banned substance control group] certified. Everything I put in my body I want to be clean. They are not providing a toxic environment where my body’s own enzymes have to break down those items. Once I run out of my own enzymes, I become toxic and open to cancer, viruses, sickness, and I definitely don’t want that.

MC: In simple terms, what’s the difference between Kaged Muscle and other supplements?

KG: No proprietary blends, no generic ingredients, and efficacious doses of every ingredient. I make sure every single ingredient is listed. I have like nine patented ingredients in my formula. I have patented creatine HCL and not the generic one. I always have the efficacious dose of citrulline. Another difference is that my product has fermented BCAAs. I have carnosine, and I have the Spectra ORAC blend with all the antioxidants. I have the coconut water powder in there. I have the PureCaf organic caffeine, which is a green-bean coffee so you don’t get that crash. And it’s all naturally flavored and naturally colored. There is no artificial shit in there.

MC: Are consumers responding to it?  

KG: Pre-Kaged just become the number 11 product on When I was at the warehouse yesterday, it was in the front tier, which is where they keep the products that are ordered all the time. Pre-Kaged was right in the front, and it made me feel really happy.

The proudest part is that everybody keeps telling me this—and I have never heard this before—they say, “It feels so clean,” or “It is such clean energy.” The word “clean” always comes into it.

MC: Is Kaged Muscle a game-changer in the supplement industry?

KG: It is for the consumer. I don’t know if it will be for any brands. I don’t know if they are even interested in doing that. To be honest, they are in it for the money. I don’t mean every brand. There are some great brands out there. But the leaders in the industry, I don’t think they will take any notice of Kaged Muscle and change their ways anytime soon.


Name: Kris Gethin

Lives: Boise, ID

Profession: CEO of Kaged Muscle, Co-Founder of Kris Gethin Gyms franchise

Likes: Punctuality

Dislikes: Negative people
Favorite Drink: Hydra-Charge

Favorite Clean Meal: Kaged Kasein Pancake

Favorite Cheat Meal: Granola

Favorite Movie: Pulp Fiction

Who Would You Cast To Play Yourself in a Movie? Tom Hardy

Desert Island Exercises: Leg press, deadlift, chest press

Favorite Charity Or Cause: International Bipolar Foundation

Sponsors: GASP, Ryderwear and Nutrition Solutions


Twitter: @kagedmuscle

Facebook: Kris Gethin


Nine The Hard Way

Hed: Nine The Hard Way

This ultimate shoulder annihilator will finally get your delts to pop.

By: Redmann Wright.

Today’s world of competitive fitness— from Men’s Physique to Classic Physique to Bikini—places a major emphasis on broad, round shoulders that stand out and wave to the judges. They are the single most important factor in creating a flow that V-tapers into a small midsection and then flares back out to a strong lower body. This superlative asset is prized by both men and women, and is key for those who decide to take their personal fitness to the next level and compete. For others, it simply creates a very primal sexual appeal in the eye of the beholder.

It’s tricky, though, to develop well-balanced, thick muscle bellies in the shoulders. Poorly designed training can lead to injury, imbalance, and lack of strength. A good delt-training plan needs to be well-rounded and holistic, and take any emphasis off of feeding the ego.

There are three distinct parts to the shoulder. A common mistake is to concentrate too much on one area for the duration of your workout. For instance, with a steady diet of Arnold presses, side lateral raises, military presses, and shrugs, the medial deltoid can easily be overworked while the posterior delt is ignored. It is always a good idea to hit a target muscle from different angles, but it is an absolute necessity when it comes to the shoulders.

You can’t discuss the shoulder without a nod to the rotator cuff, the foundation of your shoulder. Unfortunately, almost every time you hear the words “rotator cuff,” they are followed by the word “injury.” Due to either overuse or neglect, a painful rotator cuff has kept more guys out of the gym than Monday Night Football. It’s predominately overhead and rotational movements that exacerbate injuries to this fragile area. Keep that in mind when trying to add weight to the bar, and never allow your ego to dictate the load or volume. In reality, the shoulder doesn’t need much weight to stimulate growth, especially if you’re a relative newbie and your delts have not been conditioned to support and move significant weight for volume.

Lift within your capabilities, and focus on building strength in order to progress in weight load in slow moderation. Be patient, stay disciplined, and maintain motivation. This commitment to your goals will benefit you with injury-free gains in size and strength, and before you know it you’ll have your own impressive X-frame. IM

Triple Threat: Shoulder Anatomy 101

Anterior Head

Function: Flexion, medial rotation, abduction

Location: Front portion of shoulder girdle

Exercise Example: Dumbbell Front Raise

Medial Head

Function: Abduction for internal rotation and assist with transverse movement

Location: Middle/side of shoulder

Exercise Example: Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise

Posterior Head

Function: External and  lateral rotation; the posterior head also aids in shoulder extension, external rotation, transverse abduction, and transverse extension

Location: Rear of shoulder, originates on the back of the scapula

Exercise Example:  Bent-Over Dumbbell Rear Deltoid Raise With Head On Bench


Battle Ropes: Stand with your feet wider-than-shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Grasp one end of the rope in each hand at about waist level. Perform each of the following variations for one minute.

Double Wave: Bring both ropes up and down in the same rhythmic fashion

Alternate Wave: One arm goes high as the other arm goes low in a continuous motion

Low Alternate Wave: Perform exactly like the alternate wave but from a deep squat position

Power Slam: Keep both hands together and bring the rope high and then forcefully pull it to the ground

Cable Lateral Raise: Place a D-handle on a low cable pulley and stand with your right shoulder to the machine. Grasp the handle with your left (far) hand and bring it across your body and up until your arm is parallel with the floor. Your arm should be almost straight and palm facing down. Keep your body erect and stable and your movements smooth. Hold for a beat in the top positon and then lower the weight back down to your waist.

Standing Front Cable Raise: Grasp the D-cable handle, stand with an erect torso. Your body should be facing toward the cable machine. Grasp with either hand, then alternate. You should perform the exercise with a slight bend in the elbow, raising horizontally with your palm facing down. Keep your body erect and stable—no jerking movements! Pull up slightly above your shoulder and hold, then lower back down to your waist side. Breathing technique is to exhale while lowering, pause at the top, and inhale as you return to the starting position.

Reverse Cable Flye: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your torso tilted forward just a bit, and your knees slightly bent. Using two D-handles or simply the ends of two high-pulleys, cross your arms to grasp each handle with the opposite hand. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you spread your arms apart in a T-pose with a sight bend in your elbows. Hold for a second, then release using the negative pull to re-cross your arms back to the start position.

Lying Lateral Raise: Lie facedown on a bench with a 15-degree incline. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, with your palms facing you and a slight bend in your elbows. Tighten your core and activate your rear delts as you raise your elbows to about shoulder height, keeping your arms parallel to the floor. Hold for a beat at the top and exhale as you slowly lower the weight back down.

Arnold Press: Sit on a bench with a back support. Grasp a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing inside toward you. The start position should resemble the contraction portion of a dumbbell curl, with the elbows bent and dumbbells near your shoulders with your palms facing you. As you extend your arms and raise the dumbbells to the sky, rotate your hands until your palms face forward. Once the arms are fully extended above your head, pause a second at the top. As you slowly lower to the start position rotate your palms back to their original state.

Military Dumbbell Press: Grasp a dumbbell in each hand and sit on a bench with a back support (if you have back problems, a bench with a back support is a must). Hold dumbbells upright at your lower torso while sitting them upright on your thighs—this is your starting position. Raise the dumbbells to shoulder level one at a time using the force of your leg to propel them upward. Exhale and push upward simultaneously until they come close to touching each other. Your palms should be facing outward for the entire rep. Pause for a second at the top and then lower slowly to start position.

Standing Plate Hold: Hold a plate securely in both hands at the three o’clock and nine o’clock positions. Extend your arms, keeping a slight bend in your elbows. The plate should be below your waist. This is your start position. Tighten your core and slowly raise the plate while exhaling until you reach a point slightly above shoulder level. Hold for a second, then lower the weight while inhaling. Keep your upper body solid and stationary without bending at the waist.

Dumbbell Pullover: Position a dumbbell standing up on a flat bench. Lie perpendicular to the bench, with the pad under your shoulder blades and the rest of your weight supported by your feet that are flat on the floor. Keep your head off the bench. Grab the dumbbell and hold it directly over your chest with your arms extended. Slowly move it in an arc motioning back and behind your head until you feel a stretch in your chest. Bring the weight back along the same arc to the start position and hold for a second before beginning your second rep.


The Workout

Exercise                                             Sets                 Reps                           Rest

Battle Ropes (variations)                4                      60 seconds                 60 seconds

Cable Lateral Raise                        3                      8-10                            90 seconds

Standing Front Cable Raise       3                      8-10                           90 seconds

Reverse Cable Flye                          4                      8-10                            90 seconds

Lying Lateral Raise                        4                      8- 10                           90 seconds

Arnold Press                                     3                      6                                 90 seconds

Dumbbell Military Press              3                      6-8                             90 seconds

Standing Plate Raise                      3                      10                                none

-superset with –

Dumbbell Pullover                         4*                    10                               12-20

*Perform one extra set of this exercise as a “finisher”



Tana Ashlee

The Instagram training sensation is serious about helping make fitness more approachable for women.

Interview by Mike Carlson

As a city, Las Vegas is not famous for its modesty. Sin City is famous for its pool parties, nightclubs, and being an epicenter of IFBB/NPC Bikini contests. If you live in Las Vegas, you either have a great body or you’re working toward one.

Tana Ashlee is definitely one of the former. But this self-described “Instagram trainer” is more likely to share her thoughts and life lessons than an arched-back shot of her glutes.

“I did one bikini contest when I was 17, but to be honest, I pretty much pissed myself. Not really, but if I could have, I would have,” she laughs. “I don’t do well in the spotlight. It was not my thing. I don’t like contest dieting. I want to live a healthy, balanced life. God bless the people who can do competitions, because I don’t have it in me.”

What Ashlee does have in her is a genuine desire to help her fellow women lead fitter and healthier lives. Her wildly popular Instagram account is filled with videos offering women-centric training and diet advice, such as how to combat cellulite or the dreaded “bat wings.” Part of her online appeal is how she mixes solid training advice with authentic snippets of her life with her boyfriend and her two 80-pound pit bull rescues, Theo and Bailey.

I want to help people, and my being real helps people talk about their problems,” Ashlee says. “I just try to be real with who I am.”

Mike Carlson: How many online training clients do you have?

Tana Ashlee: I get about 200 clients a month. I have had some for three years. Some are even on their way to becoming personal trainers, too.

MC: Your Instagram account seems especially devoted to fitness for women.

TA: I only train women now. I have had some very creepy experiences with guys online. It bummed me out, because I love training everyone, but I don’t want to put myself in a crappy situation like I did before. One guy sent me his weekly progress picture and it was a picture of him completely naked! It makes for good stories, though.

MC: Your logo is an image of you deadlifting. What are your workouts like?

TA: I really like to deadlift. I love to deadlift and squat. Those are my two absolute favorites. My workouts are usually an hour of weights and 20 to 30 minutes of cardio, five days a week. Monday is legs. Tuesday is back and shoulders. Wednesday is arms. Thursday is legs and then a whole upper-body routine on Friday.


MC: You seem very personal on social media.

TA: I just think people need to be realistic about who they are. My life is that I wake up, go to the gym, run errands, and then I work. I get bored being home, and I know that a lot of other people struggle with that boredom, too. So I felt like I should talk about it so they know they are not the only ones going through that.

MC: Do you have a digital strategy for your social media?

TA: I have OCD where I want to post a video and then a picture and then a video and then a picture. I’m just weird like that, but it’s never planned. Everyone tells me I need to plan my posts, that it’s better business-wise, but I don’t know what I’m going to feel like this week. I might have a life lesson that day and I’ll feel a need to talk about it. I want it to feel real to who I am.

MC: What’s a common hurdle for the women you coach?

TA: I think so may people get very doubtful. They’ll tell me their goal and then immediately say, “I don’t know if I can accomplish that.” I tell them that they can do anything they set their mind to, but they can’t keep sitting there saying, “I can’t do it.” It’s constantly coaching them through that.

MC: Do you ever get frustrated with your clients?

TA: I’m a pretty patient person. I have gone through so many struggles myself, I try to be very understanding, There’s one girl I saw so much potential in and she was plagued by self-doubt all the time. I had to text her and say, “We need to talk.” I try my best not to lose my patience. When I first started online training I would be kind of a brat, but I learned that was not how to motivate people. I had to take a different approach.

MC: What’s next for you?

TA: I want to do online boot camps, Skype training, traveling boot camps. The one thing I’m having problems with is I don’t want to leave my dogs. So it will probably be more online stuff and give people more variety about what they can do with me when they train online. I eventually want to have a pit bull rescue in Vegas. I have a monthly income I want to hit before I do that. It could happen within the next year. If I hit my goal, I will start the LV Bully Crew.


Name: Tana Ashlee
Age: 26

Lives: Las Vegas

Profession: Online trainer, helping people transform their body and life

Likes: Food, animals, and dumbbells

Dislikes: Mean people

Best Body Part: Probably my legs
Favorite Drink: BCAA, wine, and water—not all mixed together!

Favorite Clean Meal: Spaghetti squash with ground turkey

Favorite Cheat Meal: In-N-Out burger and ice cream

Favorite Movie: Sabotage

Who Would You Cast To Play Yourself in a Movie? 

I love Jennifer Aniston

Desert Island Exercises: Deadlifts, squats, and lat pulldowns

Favorite Charity Or Cause:  NYBC—New York Bully Crew

Instagram: @tanaashleee


Twitter: @tanaashlee



VaporX5 Next Gen by MuscleTech


What good is a pre-workout that gives you a pump but leaves you thinking about that stack of papers on your desk? Preparing the body to train is a complex undertaking that must involve the brain, muscles, central nervous system, and more. VaporX5 Next Gen is the latest pre-workout offering from MuscleTech, an industry giant that has helped develop whole categories of sports supplements. The formulators behind VaporX5 Next Gen understand what real training demands of the body and included five separate blends that each address a separate factor of an optimal workout experience: endurance, energy, mental focus, vasodilation, and muscle building. This five-in-one formula contains clinical doses of validated ingredients that create a synergistic effect, making them stronger together than they are on their own.

VaporX5 Next Gen contains no proprietary blends, and all ingredients are clearly labeled in their gram amounts. Proven agents of change such as creatine and beta-alanine are alongside cutting-edge botanicals like hawthorn extract and galangal extract. The broad-spectrum benefits of VaporX5 Next Gen make it a perfect pre-workout supplement no matter how you train. If you are doing a high-volume two-hour 36-set bodypart workout or a nasty 30-minute HIIT session, VaporX5 Next Gen can help you go longer and stronger than ever before. VaporX5 Next Gen is available in Fruit Punch Blast, Blue Raspberry Fusion, Icy Rocket Freeze, and Candy Watermelon flavors.


For more info, check out


Wake Up And Smell The Chocolate

Now we know why Sonny the Cuckoo Bird is always “cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs”—he’s wired. Not only is cocoa packed with bioactive stimulants such as caffeine and theobromine, it’s teeming with powerful phenols that jack up hormones like adrenalin and noradrenalin that can really get you going.

Researchers at the University of Arizona decided to test just how powerful cocoa is as a stimulant. Instead of cuckoo birds, the scientists fed cacao to students, then took brain measurements 90 minutes later. The students in the high-cacao group had elevated levels of beta waves, which is a sign that the brain is more alert. Said researcher Larry Stevens: “Chocolate is indeed a stimulant and it activates the brain in a really special way.”

And it tastes a lot better than Adderall, too.

A Cure For The Common Cold?

The best way to win the fight against cold and flu season is to not get sick in the first place. Unfortunately, there’s no flu shot equivalent for the common cold, but you can try the next best thing: Gulp down flavonoid-rich foods and supplements.

A bulk of scientific research has found that upper-respiratory tract infections—a catchall term for nasty colds and related ailments—can be significantly reduced by ingestion of flavonoids, which are natural antioxidant compounds found in green tea, red wine, apples, blueberries, onions, sweet potatoes, and other fruits and veggies.

So how much of an effect can flavonoids have on preventing colds? According to a meta-analysis of 14 studies by researchers at the University of Auckland, those who consumed flavonoids had a 33 percent less chance of catching a cold than those people who didn’t ingest these powerful antioxidants. The scientists also found that people who eat generous amounts of flavonoids suffer fewer sick days than others.

So hit the produce section and wine bar and see if you can avoid a cold this year.

Why “Humane” Meat Tastes Better

When zombies roam the land searching for brains to eat, they don’t care if they’re munching on a Nobel Prize-winning scientist or a grade-school dropout. Humans are a little more particular where they get their grub, especially when it comes to our meat options, and these biases affect our taste buds.

According to research in PLOS ONE, your feelings about the treatment of farm animals have a profound effect on how much you enjoy your meat. The study, led by Lisa Feldman Barrett, University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University, found that putting a “factory farm” label on beef jerky caused study subjects to say it tasted less pleasant than the very same beef jerky that that was labeled as humanely farmed. The scientists also discovered that you’ll pay more for the humanely raised meat as well.

It’s a phenomenon known as “affective realism,” when your feelings influence your real-world perceptions. While you’ll happily eat cows and pigs, at least you’re not being a jerk about it, which frees your conscience to enjoy the meat more than you otherwise would.


Beta-Alanine May Help Against PTSD

Common pre-workout supplement beta-alanine (BA) may have beneficial effects on those who have suffered psychological trauma. BA is well-regarded by bodybuilders and hard-training athletes as an effective power booster in the gym, mostly due to its effect of raising carnosine in the bloodstream. Carnosine, an amino acid, has been shown in studies to help boost muscle strength and stamina during intense physical activity.

Now scientists at the University of Southern Florida have discovered that BA can lessen the effects of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). In this animal study, ingestion of 100 milligrams of BA reduced anxiety in study subjects who previously been exposed to high-stress stimuli. The researchers believe the beneficial actions of BA are likely the result of increased concentrations of carnosine in the hippocampus, which has a protective effect in the brain. While it’s no cure-all for PTSD, it may help blunt some symptoms.

Java Heads Rejoice! Coffee Loves Your Brain.

Starbucks may not seem like a smart place (they call their smallest cup size a “tall,” after all), but what they serve may actually boost your brainpower, according to new research. In a study published in Scientific Reports, caffeine was found to help protect against age-related memory deficits, thereby counteracting cognitive decline in older brains. At work is a caffeine analogue that affects adenosine-A2, a receptor in the brain that’s associated with memory impairments in Alzheimer’s and other patients suffering from cognitive decline. Caffeine may help stabilize adenosine-A2, thus protecting the brain’s ability to fight the stress factors that contribute to loss of memory and other mental faculties. So not only can you enjoy the main product at Starbucks, you’ll have a better chance at remembering the Wi-Fi password.

What’s So Special About K?

You don’t hear too much about vitamin K, but it may be the nutrient that saves your joints and connective tissue from arthritis. Found in kale, spinach, broccoli, chard, and green leafy vegetables, vitamin K was discovered to have a dramatic association with osteoarthritis in knee joints, according to a study published in The Journal Of Medicine. Those who had lower concentrations of vitamin K in their blood had a much higher chance of having damaged cartilage than those whose levels exceeded a threshold of 0.5 nanomoles. In fact, not having enough vitamin K almost doubled the chance of developing osteoarthritis. The researchers believe that vitamin K increases a protein that helps strengthen connective tissue, thus contributing to its protective effects.

Paleo Caveat

The Paleo diet has often been bashed by the mainstream health media, but it has been shown to be very effective for changing the body composition of overweight carboholics. A recent study out of Australia followed 22 subjects as they followed the Paleo diet for four weeks. While they were not restricted to the amount of food they could eat, almost all of the subjects lost weight. The scientists did find a worrying deficit of certain vitamins and minerals, though. By eliminating grains and dairy, the subjects did not ingest enough calcium, B vitamins, or iodine. While there is plenty to like about the Paleo diet (swapping pasta for protein and vegetables is good), like many other eating programs it demands some smart supplementation for optimum performance.


Don’t Stop, Goji

Superfoods seem to come and go, but the goji berry has withstood the test of time. It has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine to treat everything from macular degeneration to infertility. A recent study published in The Journal Of Alternative And Complementary Medicine found that goji berries can increase focus and mental acuity, and improve quality of sleep, energy, and even athletic performance. The fruit, also knows as the wolfberry, boasts high levels of antioxidants, amino acids, and potassium, the latter two of which assist in building muscle. One third of the carbs in goji berries come from fiber. Some evidence suggests that gojis support muscle growth via the combination of amino acids and potassium, which helps keep the pituitary gland healthy and stimulates it to produce more HGH.


Arm Yourself

In the history of the world, no one has ever said, “I wish I had smaller arms.”

By Jay Ashman


There are two types of people who train at gyms: those who want arms that are big and jacked and those who are lying about it. You can argue this point by saying, “Stronger is better” or “Being fit is better,” but at the end of the day if your arms fill your sleeves out, you actually start to look like you lift weights. Of course this is debatable, but go ahead and tell me you can look at someone whose arms are muscular and defined and not immediately assume that they lift hard.

There is one issue with many trainees in gyms when it comes to wanting bigger arms: They simply don’t train them smart enough. Going too heavy, not training them enough, focusing too much on the biceps, or using bad form will all cause your arms to lag behind in development and size. It goes without saying that you can’t expect to have 19-inch arms if you want to stay 180 pounds and ripped. Arm size generally follows overall muscular size. A few sets a week will not be enough. If you want them to grow, you have to go after the arms like you go after international chest day.

There are several ways to train arms. You will often see triceps and chest paired on the same day, along with biceps and back on their own day. The following program is for a stand-alone arm day, meant to be the second training stimulus of the week. This workout is challenging and high volume. You can do this for four to six weeks, changing up sets and reps slightly each time, or keep them the same for the entire period. Your arms will explode with a pump after this session, and you will catch yourself walking by random car windows, mirrors at work, and other reflective surfaces while you flex and admire your pump.  IM


Superset I

1A: Close-Grip Bench Press: Work up to a heavy six reps in four to five sets.

1B: Rope Hammer Curls: Between each set of bench presses, do eight reps of rope hammer curls.

We start off this day by using the king of triceps exercises, the close-grip bench press. This exercise packs the most mass on your triceps. Do I have a study on that? Not a single one, but I do have years of experiential evidence to back up that claim.

Begin with the inside of your hands on the inside edge of the knurling on a barbell. Lower the bar to your chest with your elbows tucked in—using this form will maximize triceps activation. When you’re finished with this exercise, immediately move to rope hammer curls. Pump these for eight reps with a flex at the top of the movement. You will perform the curls between every set of close-grip bench press, from warm-up to finding that max set of six reps. As with all bodybuilding-style exercises and movements, control over the tempo is critical. Don’t throw the weight. Instead, move it with control through the entire range of motion both concentric and eccentric.


Superset II

2A. Triceps Bench Dips: 3 sets of 6-8

2B. Zottman Curls: 3 sets of 8-10 reps

The second superset starts off with an old-school exercise called triceps bench dips. Set up two benches parallel from one another so you can splay out between them. Your hands will be on one bench and your feet will be propped up on the other side. With your hands and feet on the bench, lower your body in between the benches until your upper arm reaches about parallel and then press to the top, flexing your triceps forcefully when you reach the end of the movement. This flex is critical. You do not want to rush through these. Make each rep count.

When finished with this exercise, grab a pair of dumbbells and perform eight to 10 Zottman curls. Zottman curls are performed by curling the weight up with your hands supinated, pronating at the top, and lowering it while continuing to keep your hands pronated. Repeat this sequence for eight to 10 reps. It’s important to flex at the top of each rep and hold that flex as you rotate your hand to a pronated position. This superset is for three working sets.


Superset III

2A. Overhead Triceps Rope Extensions: 3 sets of 10 reps

2B.  Incline Dumbbell Curls: 3 sets of 6 reps

2C. Incline Dumbbell Hammer Curls: 3 sets to failure

This is a tri-set where you will start off with overhead triceps rope extensions. Set up the rope on a cable stack machine, face away from it, and pull the rope to a full flex. When you’re in the eccentric part of the exercise you want to hold the end stretch for about one count before you move the weight concentrically. Flex the triceps hard for each rep. Do eight to 10 reps of this series before moving on to the next part of the tri-set.

The second and third part will be on an incline bench set up at about a 45-degree angle. Use the same weight for both parts of this. The first part is incline dumbbell curls; let your arms hang down at your side and lift the weight using your lower arm. Your upper arm should not be a part of the movement other than the activation in your bicep. If you’re swinging the weight, you’re going too heavy. You will do about six reps with this exercise. After performing these, immediately do hammer curls on the same bench until you fail. Use the same weight you used for the incline dumbbell curls. You can use a little swing as the reps start to get difficult, but if you choose to do that, be sure you lower the weight under control and don’t allow yourself to speed up the eccentric part of this exercise. This tri-set is to be done for three total working sets.


Superset IV

4A. Close-Grip Push-Ups On Bench: 2 sets to failure

4B. Spider Curls With An EZ-Curl Bar: 2 sets of 10-12 reps

For the final superset we’ll start off with close-grip push-ups. Your hands will be on a bench for the simple reason that you’ll be doing these reps very slowly. Set up with your feet on the floor, hands on the bench slightly closer than shoulder width, keep your elbows pinned back for the duration of the exercise. Lower yourself very slowly to the bench, and push yourself very slowly back up to a full lockout with a triceps flex. Take each set all the way to failure.

After the push-ups, grabs an EZ-bar and move to a preacher curl bench. Sit backward so you have your arms draped over the vertical side of the pad, keeping your armpits lodged on the top of the pad. The proper way to perform spider curls is to lower the weight to a full stretch and curl it to a full flex. Do not go too heavy on these or you’ll make this exercise unnecessarily difficult. Sacrifice some pounds and use the correct form: stretch, flex, repeat. If you don’t have a preacher curl bench, you can do these off of an incline bench. Set it up at about a 30-degree angle and perform the exercise with your body facedown on the bench. It is exactly the same in execution without the preacher curl pad to brace your upper arms. This last superset is for two sets only. Finishing the day off strong with these two exercises will flush your arms full of blood.


Intelligent Intensity

By Tucker Loken-Dahle

PQ: “Volume and intensity work inversely of each other. When you use a lot of one, you won’t have much room for the other.”

If you’re anything like me, when one program gets close to the end, you start scheming on the next one. You’re thinking of which muscle groups to hit on what days, what order to put the exercises in, and how to best work on your weak points to build the physique you want. Your legs are lagging, so you want to work them twice per week. Your arms are really good, so you put them after something else you need to work on. Something often overlooked when putting together your next program is how to factor in just how much your body can take based on how much volume and how much intensity you want to put into each workout. These are two key factors that will often make or break your progress. I’ve seen a lot of people doing way too much volume too intensely and being severely overtrained, as well as people thinking they can just pop in, do a low-volume/high-intensity routine and go home. The only problem is that they missed the memo about intensity and didn’t even break a sweat.

Volume and intensity work inversely of each other. When you use a lot of one, you won’t have much room for the other. In terms of a visual, think of it like buckets and a limited amount of resources that can be put into them. Let’s say you’ve got 100 points of CNS energy to put into your training. Other factors like stress and lack of sleep aside, you’ve got two buckets, one labeled intensity and one labeled volume. The more energy points you put into volume, the less you’ll have for intensity, and vice versa. If you want to do lots of different exercises and many sets of each to hit the muscle from a dozen different angles, you won’t have much left to actually push those sets to a maximal intensity. If you want to focus on how hard you can go and want to take everything to failure, you’ll only have a couple good sets and exercises that induce growth, and the others are just the warm-up or cooldown. So how do you make the choice for yourself, and how do you apply this?

When we think intensity, Dorian Yates and Mike Mentzer come to mind immediately—two guys who punished themselves with torturous workouts for years on end. Their pain tolerance was sky high. They knew, however, that if you want to do biceps curls until you feel like muscle will pull off the bone, you’re not going to be able to do four sets of barbell curls, followed by dumbbell hammer curls, followed by machine curls. They would generally do a variety of exercises, but the sets leading up to their maximum-intensity sets were only warm-ups to make sure the muscle was primed and ready so that they could be effective and avoid injury. They finished up with one super intense max effort set per exercise and moved on. This made their workouts quick and effective, and built some legendary physiques.

On the other hand, when we think of who represents volume, Arnold has been known for his twice-a-day, six-days-per-week workout plan. If you watch Pumping Iron, you’ll see a few good clips of high intensity, but you’ll also see he and the other bodybuilders shelling out plenty of reps, focusing on the feel, pumping the muscle, and hitting it from many different angles.

All of these men are outliers. Dorian Yates could withstand a level of intensity, along with a decent amount of volume that most could not. Arnold could be in the gym for hours pumping away, and taking some of his sets incredibly hard, too, and still come back for more later that day. Just like a bell curve, though, there are very few people on the outside edges, and more than 90 percent of us fall into the normal range. We have to be very careful in our training, because we have the constitution of regular folk, and that doesn’t bode well for high intensity and high volume put together.

When you’re organizing your workout, it’s important to realize that both styles have their own benefits. When someone emphasizes volume, the pressure of going to all-out failure isn’t there, so instead of just focusing on squeezing out one more rep, you can focus on how the weight feels and the mind-muscle connection, which is arguably the most important thing in bodybuilding. Along with that, you’ve got more wiggle room to do more sets if you’re feeling good that day and avoid overtraining, as well as avoiding injury, because you’re not going all out as often and exposing yourself to heavy weight under fatigue.


When you emphasize intensity, the workouts are quick and highly stimulating. Just like some people need to back off the weight and take the sets a little easier so that they can actually feel the muscle working, some people just need a kick in the pants to actually push it and fully stimulate the muscle in order to get the following response of size and strength. Aside from your warm-up routine and any cardio, you can be in and out of the gym in under an hour almost every time, leaving more time for recovery.

The best way to apply these principles is to go back to a routine that worked for you in the past and start making adjustments in your volume or intensity. If your goal is more volume, put in another one to two exercises and make sure to go to failure only sparingly during the workout. This will change the workout so that you can really focus on feeling the lagging muscle group, and make sure you emphasize it and make it grow, rather than letting surrounding muscles take over.

If you want to increase your intensity, take out one to two exercises and put all of your energy into the ones you still have. Some people will work biceps from every angle with many exercises, but just hammering them on a basic barbell curl and dumbbell curl may be plenty to make them grow. Since the amount of sets are decreased, you’ll only have a handful of chances to fully stimulate the muscle, so you’ll need to push yourself in order to get the most out of the workout.

In the end, make sure you’re having fun with your routine and keeping it new for your body. The changes will work as long as they are something new, so looking at intensity and volume as another tool in your box can add an extra layer to your training and progress, and deepen your understanding of your body. There’s no absolute right way to go about it. The best way to find out what works for you is through trial, error, and time under the bar. IM


Fueling The Hybrid Athlete

Eating for optimal performance is easier than it sounds.

By Eddie Avakoff, owner of Metroflex LBC


First and foremost, this is not the most effective method of building mass and size, nor is it the best diet for losing crazy amounts of body fat. What this is, is a diet plan for someone looking to fuel their level of performance. That is, to intake the proper nutrition in the right quantity so that you can repair what’s been torn down, rest what has been exhausted, and continue to perform at the same, if not higher, level of output. So, in short, this is a “my body’s a machine and I need to fuel it properly” diet.

I once read this quote and it really stuck with me: “Food is fuel and nothing more.” Sad but true, isn’t it, foodies?

As a performance athlete, nutrition is an essential part of the game. But nutrition changes depending on activity, degree of intensity, and even timing around an event. And it’s important to fuel yourself properly, along with the correct timing and proportions in order to achieve ideal results. For example, fat is best utilized before activity, whereas protein is best consumed after. Carbohydrates, however, remain relatively consistent throughout both eating cycles. But let’s take a deeper look at when someone should intake protein, carbs, and fat.

(Percentages shown as protein/carbs/fat unless noted otherwise)

  1. A) Morning Training Schedule

– Morning (breakfast): 33/33/33

– Late morning (snack): 30/70 (carbs/fat)

— AM workout —

– Post-workout (lunch): 40/60 (protein/carbs)

– Late afternoon (snack): 40/40/20

– Evening (dinner): 40/30/30

– Late evening (snack/dessert): 40/60 (protein/fat)


  1. B) Afternoon Training Schedule

– Morning (breakfast): 33/33/33

– Late morning (snack): 30/70 (carbs/fat)

– Afternoon (lunch): 30/40/30

– Late afternoon (snack): 10/30/60

— PM workout —

– Evening (dinner): 60/40 (protein/carbs)

– Late evening: 40/20/40

Along with determining when and how much to eat, I think it’s just as important to identify what we should be eating. For the most part, the rules are simple:

  • Eat only what can be grown or killed.
  • Avoid multi-ingredient foods.
  • You’re never drinking enough water.
  • Stay away from white carbohydrates (flour, sugar, starch).


Stick to those four rules and you’ve basically done 99 percent of what it takes to have a great physique and a healthy lifestyle. There’s obviously certain energy sources that are better than others, so let’s break down which protein, carbs, and fats are best for us:

deer meat and sausage on cutting board


I’m a big fan of grass-fed beef, or better yet, wild game. Red meat like lamb possesses omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for recovery. Exotic meats like kangaroo and bison are cleaner red-meat choices than beef because they are more protein-rich and even absorbed better. Like red meat, chicken should be organic and free-range, too. I know a lot of these meat/poultry companies will claim “organic,” but you really have to do your research to determine which brands are authentic and which are full of shit (literally). Fish is also a legitimate protein source. White fish offers a lean protein source, while red fish like ahi tuna or salmon provide omega-rich fats, which are great for recovery. Eggs are a protein superfood, so eat lots of those. Plant protein is not completely out of the question, but difficult to sustain adequate protein consumption with plants. Nonetheless, protein-rich plant sources such as spirulina are effective options. Due to its mutating cultivation process, nutrients are basically nonexistent in soy protein sources. Plus, what kind of a man are you if you eat soy anyways?


Fats are best taken in the form of nuts, oils, and seeds. Walnut oil, for example, has omega 3s, 6s, and 9s—and more omega 3s than even salmon. It also makes for a great oil to use as salad dressing or even take shots of for quick long-lasting energy. Yes, shots of walnut oil. Don’t knock it ’til you try it. Avocados also make for a great fat source and are my personal favorite with breakfast. Sautéing vegetables with grapeseed oil (since it has a high smoke point) allows a good addition of vitamin E and polyunsaturated fats along with the nutrients from the vegetables. Olive oil has a low smoke point, so it’s best not to cook with it. However, it makes for a great addition to vegetables or salad.


Carbs are the most important element in this whole nutrition profile simply because there are so many options for carbs and so little are actually viable. There are carb-restrictive diets out there like Paleo or Atkins, but those really fail to recognize the need for carbohydrates, especially for a performance athlete. Remember, carbs are fuel. So what “clean” carbs can an athlete take to fuel performance?

Steel-cut oatmeal, and not that cheap instant stuff, is a great sustaining carb. Mix it with a banana and some walnuts and that’s a solid go-to for breakfast. Rice is also a relatively clean protein source and certainly one of my favorites. Brown rice is generally the way to go, due to it having a lower glycemic index than white rice. However, immediately post-workout, or at times when your cells are empty, the high glycemic index of white rice is ideal. Finally, sweet potatoes are a great long-lasting carbohydrate with a decent vitamin profile, including beta-carotene.

Vegetables are obviously a carbohydrate, but hardly a significant source of carbs. I personally think of vegetables as essential vitamins I need to eat. And my rule of thumb is to eat at least two colors of vegetables with each meal.


I think water deserves to be touched upon just as much as protein. Because after all, hydration is energy. In fact, it’s said that dehydration by one percent can affect performance by up to 10 percent. That’s a significant detriment. Next to having a protein-rich diet, water consumption should be of the utmost concern. Water not only hydrates, it also lubricates joints and even aids with fat burning. Outdoor activities (or just training in a hot-ass gym without air conditioning like Metroflex) requires adequate cooling—and constant hydration replenishment. Note that one cannot just drink electrolyte drinks, nor can they exclusively drink water. Electrolytes shrink cells, while water expands them, so a consistent balance of both is ideal, especially when training or competing. Lastly, each day, try to consume at least half your bodyweight in ounces, plus 10 to 20 additional ounces due to exercise and activity level. This amount of water will ensure adequate hydration.



It’s easy to recommend what to eat, when to eat, and in what proportions to eat what nutrients. But it’s very difficult to generalize how much to eat. This is really on an individual basis, because everyone is different in size, muscle composition, and even level of metabolic expenditure. I generally recommend my clients eat until they are full (not stuffed), and as long as it’s clean healthy food, it’s hard to overeat to the point of packing on unwanted fat, especially given the nature of exercise and activity level. I personally am a 170 to 180 pound athlete who eats somewhere between 4,000 to 6,000 calories per day. I don’t count calories, but rather let my body’s natural equilibrium determine when I’m full or hungry. Unless I’m trying to pack on weight, my body naturally balances itself out and maintains an ideal weight for my performance.

Continue to fuel your body with the right nutrients, get the essential rest needed for recovery, and train your ass off. The rest balances out and takes care of itself. In short: Eat, sleep, train, repeat! IM