Friday, December 12, 2008

The Best Training Program Ever

I talk to people all the time and they are always looking for a better and more efficient fitness program. In my opinion, there is no program in the world that is the best. Every program has its flaws and every program can get better. No training program is perfect. But with a new outlook on your fitness routine you can make your time at the gym much more efficient. I want to show you some basic concepts on how to create and design your own training programs. With just a few simple ideas and methods, you will have the education to design a proper workout that will get you results and keep you motivated. Too many people that go to the gym follow the same routine, have no progression, do not know how to push themselves, have no plan of action, and they get frustrated. Frustration leads to uninspiring workouts and, in the end, quitting of a fitness routine. You do not want that! Follow these simple guidelines and you will be on your way to achieving your fitness goals, increasing your fitness levels, and increasing your performance to a whole new level.

Having a plan of action is an important aspect that most gym goers disregard when they show up to the gym for a workout. The typical gym member will walk into the gym, step on the treadmill for ten minutes, walk at a slow pace, hop off the treadmill, go to the strength training machines and start lifting light weights with a lot of repetitions. Sound familiar? Also, you see the “bench presser”, usually a male in their 20’s or 30’s, walk into the gym, go straight to the bench press, perform a few arm circles to “loosen up”, lay down and start repping out 225 pounds until their face is red. Then that person will complain about shoulder issues. I wonder why? Then they go bust out some chest flies and some bicep curls. They end with some crunches and then the workout is over. They have skipped some very important “ingredients” of a fitness routine. Having a plan of action before you go into the gym is crucial to having an efficient workout. Write down your workout before you even step foot into the gym. Do not “freestyle”. If you have a plan and it is written down, you will work harder, be more efficient and you will get a better workout. Below, I will go over a type of program sequence you should follow to make your workouts more organized.

Do you perform a dynamic warm-up? A workout routine should always begin with a dynamic warm-up. Do not walk on the treadmill or ride a stationary bike for ten minutes and declare you are warmed up. With those ten minutes, you can get more bang for your buck by doing some dynamic flexibility and mobility drills. Goals for a dynamic warm-up include: Injury prevention, increase range of motion, increase blood flow, increase heart rate, increase joint mobility, increase muscle flexibility, and prepare and activate the body for the workout. A proper warm-up should take at least ten minutes; It all depends on the time you have and the goals you have set. I have some athletes that their dynamic warm-up takes up to 25 minutes. When you have mobility and flexibility issues, you will need to spend more time warming up so you can address those issues. This needs to be a main aspect of your fitness routine. Start performing a consistent warm-up before every training session that includes shoulder, hip, and ankle mobility drills, activation techniques, and dynamic flexibility drills and you will see major changes in your movement patterns and your overall performance.

Is your program balanced? Do you perform more pressing movements then pulling movements? Or more knee dominant movements than hip dominant movements? If you answered yes to those two questions, then your program is imbalanced. Do you include three or four pressing movements and only have two or three pulling movements? Do you have three or four knee dominant (focusing on quadriceps) exercises and only have one to two hip dominant (focusing on hamstrings and glutes) exercises? You really need to look at your program and make sure there is balance. If you have one horizontal press (bench press) and one vertical press (shoulder press), then you should have one horizontal pull (Inverted Rows) and one vertical pull (chin-ups). Same thing with the lower body. If you have two knee dominant exercises (split squat and lunges), then you should have two hip dominant exercises (Stability Ball Leg curls and Straight Leg Deadlift). Most shoulder issues are caused because people live in a “bench pressing world”. They can bench press 315 pounds, but when asked to chin-up the same amount, they can’t even come close. This creates an imbalance in your shoulder strength. A balanced athlete should be able to pull just as much as he or she can press. Create a balanced program and you are less likely to suffer from asymmetries that, in the end, can cause injury.

If you are not a competitive bodybuilder, then do not lift like one! Unless your goals are to compete as a bodybuilder, you should never go to the gym and spend 60 minutes on your arms. You need to incorporate full body routines. Start thinking of training specific movement patterns and not specific body parts. You can work your entire body in a 3 or 4 day split lifting program and get much more bang for your buck and better results. I will show you a few examples below of full body routines that are balanced and efficiently planned so you are getting the most out of your gym time. Even if you aren’t a competitive athlete, start thinking like one, and train like one. If you want to increase your fitness level, feel better, increase your energy and most importantly BE HEALTHY, then you need to start implementing these ideas into your daily program. Your program should have dynamic flexibility and mobility drills, core stabilization work, explosive exercises, full body strength movements, conditioning, and cool down stretching. It is a waist of time to go into the gym and perform chest and triceps for 90 minutes. Especially if your goal is to get fit and to increase your performance.

Is there a proper sequence to your workout? Do you just have a huge hodgepodge of exercises and decide which ones to choose when you get to the gym? Or do you put some thought into it before you set foot into the gym and decide what you will do, in what order you will do it, and at what intensities and volume you will perform them at. These methods will allow you to have a more efficient workout. Should you do jump squats at the end of the workout? Probably not the best idea. Should you perform the heavier, more intense lifts after the less intense lifts? Probably not the best idea. Also, what sets and repetitions will you be using in each workout. I have a strong belief that by changing the intensities and volume every workout, your body will never adapt, thus leading to better results. One day, work on endurance (12-15 reps), one day work on hypertrophy/strength (8-12 reps) and one day work on power (3-5 reps). The more variety in your workouts, the more motivation you will have to go and complete them. Here are two examples of properly sequenced and designed workouts:

Workout example #1:
Activation/Dynamic warm-up/mobility drills: 10-15 minutes
Core Stabilization (start thinking anti-rotation and anti-flexion): 5 minutes
Plyometric (box jumps, hurdle jumps, jump squats, etc.): 8 minutes
Strength Work: 20-35 minutes
A1: Vertical Pull: 3 x 8, A2: Knee Dominant: 3 x 8,
A3: Active Hamstring Stretch
B1: Horizontal Press: 3 x 10, B2: Hip Dominant: 3 x 6,
B3: Active hip flexor on box
Conditioning: 8-10 minutes
a. High intensity interval
i. Example: 8 Treadmill sprints, 15 seconds on/45 seconds off
Stretch: 5-10 minutes

Total: 56 – 83 minutes

Workout example #2
1. Activation/Dynamic warm-up/mobility drills: 10-15 minutes
2. Core Stabilization: 5 minutes
3. Medicine Ball Explosive Work: 8 minutes
4. Strength Work: 20-35 minutes
A1: Horizontal Pull: 3 x 12, A2: 1-leg Knee Dominant: 3 x 6
A3: Standing hamstring stretch on ½ foam roll
B1: Vertical Press: 3 x 12, B2: 1-leg Hip Dominant: 3 x 6/leg
B3: Shoulder Rollouts w/foam roll
5. Conditioning: 8-10 minutes
a. High Intensity interval
i. Example: 8 Spin Bike sprints, 15 seconds on/45 seconds off
6. Stretch: 5-10 minutes

Stick to the basics. When in doubt, you need to master the basic exercises. For some reason, our country loves to overdo things. This “functional” training era has become a competition of who can do the most “circus act” exercises in the gym. You do not need to be doing bicep curls while standing on a stability ball to be “functional”. Remember, the simple and basic exercises are what get you strong. Being strong is being functional. Chin-ups are a very functional exercise. But yet, you do not see too many people in gyms performing chin-ups. If you can not perform the basic movements with perfect form, then why are you getting into more complex movements? Get back to the basics. Here is a list of exercises, in their correct category that you need to start implementing into your program. You can cut and paste these exercises into the workout sequences I gave you up above so you can modify and change your workout on a daily basis.

Dynamic warm-up/Mobility Drills: leg swings, ankle mobility on wall, wall slides (shoulder mobility), lunge/arms straight up, inchworms, side lunging, knee raise pulls, leg cradles, straight leg kicks, quadriceps pulls, shoulder Y’s/T’s/W’s, running high knees, running butt kicks, power skips and side shuffles

Knee Dominant: front squats, split squats, 1-leg squats, back lunges, front lunges, walking lunges (both knee and hip dominant), and step-ups

Hip Dominant: deadlifts, single leg deadlifts, stability ball leg curls, stability ball hip lifts, glute bridge, 1-leg glute bridge, and walking lunges

Horizontal Pressing: bench press, dumbbell bench press, push-up, and cable press

Horizontal Pulling: inverted rows, seated rows, DB rows, and cable rows

Vertical Pressing: shoulder press (DB’s or barbell), alternating DB shoulder press, and DB incline bench press

Vertical Pulling: chin-ups, pull-ups, 1-arm high cable rows, and pulldowns

Core Stabilization: front plank variations, side plank variations, cable stabilization, kneeling chops, and kneeling lifts

Plyometrics: box jumps, hurdle jumps, squat jumps, bounding, and 1-leg hoping

Medicine Ball Work: overhead slams, chest slams, push press thrusts, chest press thrusts, and side throws

If you start implementing these simple principles into your workout regimen, you will see what a difference it will make in your fitness levels. You will learn to push your body, change the workout when needed, have a proper progression and program design, have balance, and have a plan of action every workout. This will lead to increase strength, increase power, increase mobility, increase flexibility and an increase in your overall performance. You will have more energy, have a higher vitality towards life, and your motivation levels will be sky rocketed. Remember, being healthy and fit must be a lifestyle habit. It must be a priority you think about every single day of your life. Healthy nutritional habits, consistent work ethic, and a long term approach will get you to the top. Do not expect short term results. Put in the time and watch your Life take off!

Short and simple

“You have the opportunity to succeed everyday. Take one day at a time and make each day count. Live, Love and Cherish the people around you and the things you have.”


I am going to be short and simple this week. I believe in the four F’s to live a happy and fulfilled Life. You must have a strong FAITH, have good relationships with FAMILY and FRIENDS and you must be FIT. All these things will guide you to appreciate and enjoy everything around you. You will live life to the fullest! When the tough times arise, you will bounce back quickly. Part of this whole fitness thing is to think a certain way. Do not let a number influence your feelings. Do what you have to do to achieve your goals. Your goals will not get accomplished by just talking about them. Write down your goals, not just fitness goals either, and set a game plan for you to conquer them.

I wrote a quote up on the board in my gym. It goes like this:

“You can not push anyone up the mountain unless he is willing to start the climb himself.” Andrew Carnegie

Plain and simple, you need to light your own motivation flame. Do not wait for people to do it for you. Just go out and MAKE IT HAPPEN! Get to the gym, get moving, buy and eat the right foods and you will be on your way to achieving your goals. But remember one very important thing: IT TAKES TIME! Be patient, create a healthy lifestyle and you will see the benefits.

Do not wait for the New Year. Start now! This is the best time to start a fitness program!

Put your trust and faith in God and he will lead you in the right direction

Stay UP!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Just some random thoughts....

  • Have an open mind. If you think you know it all, you will not go anywhere in your Life. Learn from people who are successful and have strong values. Keep learning and watch yourself grow.
  • When you listen to a lecture you only retain 5% of what is going to be said. Lesson to be learned.....take notes. Write down things when you hear them and you are more likely to remember all those great things.
  • Just because someone is a "personal trainer" doesn't mean they know the right things to get you in shape. I have seen some "personal trainers" do the worse things possible for their clients. Remember, if you are a trainer, you have to be a teacher. Get your clients to do things perfect. Do not make excuses and do not get lazy. You have someone's life in your hands and if you get lazy, it could cost you. If you are a person looking for a trainer, make sure they are qualified and look the part. IF they do not practice what they preach you probably shouldn't be listening to them.
  • Always say thank you to the people that have helped you get to where you are at. Do not take advantage of your relationships.
  • Gatorade and power gels are not good for you. There is no nutritional benefit to these products. They are meant for replenishment of electrolytes and sugars during exercise. Do not just drink or down a gel if you are just "hanging out".
  • Did you know that the Leg Press machine at most gyms is probably one of the worse exercises to do. It puts unwanted stress on your lower back and works primarily the quadriceps without incorporating other muscle groups. If you want a blown out disk, then keep doing leg presses. Do a split squat or a 1-leg squat instead and you will see the difference.
  • I really enjoy college football on saturday's.
  • The sport of triathlon can get you to believe you can achieve anything. If you need something to train for, try a sprint triathlon. You can still lift your weights, you do not have to put in 20 hours/week of training time, and you can still have a life outside of training. But remember, once you complete a small event, you will get addicted and will want to see how far you can push. Be prepared for the craziness.

Monday, August 4, 2008

It is all in your Attitude!

Just by changing your attitude about things, you can look at life in such a different way. We turn on and off our light switches in our house all the time. How easy is that to do for us?.....IT'S EASY! Same with your attitude. You can, in a matter of a moment, change from being down in Life, to having a strong positive outlook on Life. The question is, will you "turn that light switch on?"

There are too many people that leave that light switch off and always find negativity in their daily life. We need to change the way we perceive our daily situations. You can find something positive in almost every situation that comes. Just by having a better and more positive attitude, you can see things in a different light.

Be the unique one. Be the one that guides people down the right path. Be the person that inspires others. We have so much opportunity and so much is crazy! It is just a matter of taking advantage of what we were blessed with and living Life to the ultimate fullest. Remember, it is not about those materialistic items that we get caught up in. It is about creating a legacy and a passion for Life. You can enjoy everyday to the maximum. Even when times are tough, which there will be those times, you will bounce back and be stronger than ever.

Look...I know it is easier said than done. But, with a consistent approach to get better and improve yourself, you will see the changes it will have on your Life. Stay healthy. Workout. Eat healthy foods. Be consistent. Take a friend who needs motivation to the gym for a workout. Inspire others to fulfill their lives. Do not take Life for granted. Everyday is an opportunity to get better.

"Flip on your light switch!" And watch how your vigor to Live Life increases. You will see the positive changes and you will be ready to take on each and every day!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Another week to get better....

Another week is upon us. We have opportunities everyday to improve and get better. Do not settle with just ordinary. Always strive to reach your fullest capabilities. There is no limit on what you can accomplish. When you achieve a goal, set higher goals and go out and achieve them. You have the power to do anything you want.

This weekend was another triathlon. Overall, this was my 18th triathlon. And 11th in the last 2 years. I participated in the San Luis Obispo Sprint Triathlon. It was a great race. I competed with twelve members from the Visalia Triathlon Club. It was great seeing everyone on the course. We represented and got Visalia on the map in the sport of triathlon.

Two years ago, when I completed in this event for the first time, my time was 1 hour 37 minutes. Sunday, my time was 1 hour 17 minutes. Good enough for 9th overall and 1st in my age group. It is pretty cool to see how much I have improved in this tough sport. I know I have a long way to go, but I will continue to work my butt off. I am excited to get better and I am excited to see how far I can go with this sport. With a determined attitude, who knows what I can do.

I thank the "man upstairs" for the people He has surrounded me with and the skills and traits He has blessed me with. I will contine to use my skills and traits to motivate and inspire everyone around me!

Let's all continue to be positive and motivate others so that we make this world a better place to live. It is our job to inspire and drive others to be their best.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Training for Life

Training for Life
By: Justin Levine, Owner and Head Trainer of
California Fitness Academy

What are you training for? Is it a specific sport or are you trying to shed off those last ten pounds? Whatever your goals are, in order to accomplish them you need to make your health a priority. You will not achieve the goals you set out for if you do not live a healthy life day in and day out.
Here are 5 ideas you can put into your daily routine, starting now, to enhance the vitality of your Life. Implement them into your schedule and see your levels soar beyond what you imagined. You can do anything when you put your mind to it. You just have to put in the work. Do not MAKE EXCUSES and do not wait, DO IT NOW!

1. Wake up and eat breakfast every morning. You must wake up every morning and eat a good quality meal. In order to get your metabolism where we want it, eating first thing in the morning is crucial. You will speed up your metabolism, increase your lean body mass, burn unwanted body fat, and “wake” up the body. Do not let a morning pass without eating a good balanced breakfast.

2. Workout 4-6 days a week. Be consistent with your working out. Fitness is not fitness without the working out. You must stay cardiovascular fit, strong and healthy in order to feel good everyday. Just because you are going out of town, that is no reason to skip a workout. Do not make excuses. Working out will release endorphins, give you energy and you will feel good about yourself. It needs to be apart of your Life.

3. Don’t do diets! Diets are things you get on and get off. Learn how to eat healthy all the time. In the long run, diets do not work. You can get great results from a specific diet but when you get off you will lose everything you worked for. You must create a lifestyle to where you eat nutritious foods on a daily basis and it is just something you do automatically. Eating a healthy diet will keep your immune system strong, fight away infection, give you energy and keep you going all day long. Plus, it will aide in your recovery from your hard workouts.

4. Eat more protein. Most people do not eat enough protein to surplus their activity level. They are constantly in a catabolic state; meaning they are tearing lean muscle, storing body fat and decreasing metabolism. When you eat more protein you will stabilize your blood sugars, increase your lean muscle mass and increase your metabolism. After a grueling workout in the gym, your body is broken down and it is very important to eat quality proteins the rest of the day in order for your body to rebuild, recover and get stronger. Do not be afraid to drink a protein shake if you do not have time to cook or prepare a meal. Protein is a needed nutrient that you body needs everyday.

5. Be POSITIVE! Do not put yourself down. Always believe in yourself and have confidence. You will not accomplish your goals if you are constantly being negative and do not believe you can achieve your goals. Fitness is your Life. And if you continue to make it a priority you will see the long term benefits. Enjoy the adventure and continue to get better!

My first blog.

Life is such a precious and awesome thing we were given. We are able to make people happy, take care of our bodies and enjoy every single day to the fullest. Make sure to take advantage of every single day. We need to use what we were blessed with and change people's lives. Every day is an opportunity to live a better life. Whether you help a family member, a friend, or a plain stranger, do those things that make you feel good. Life is what we put in, each and everyday. If you wake up each morning with a negative aspect and do not believe in yourself, then you are not doing your part to live a positive life. Really try, every morning when you wake up, to live a positive and motivating life. One day at a time. If a barrier approaches you, then take it head on and find a way to get past it. You will be such a stronger person. Mentally, we all need to start thinking a bit more positively. This world is full of negative people and negative vibes, but we can change that. By being unique and different, we can make a change. Let's start doing good things, spread motivating thoughts, and see how much change we can make. We can either look at our lives empty or full. You need to make that choice. It doesn't matter about the size of your bank account, the prestige of your job, or how many people you know. What does matter is how many lives you can touch, and what kind of legacy you will leave behind. Remember, when we are no longer here, we do not take our money, clothes, shoes, and the rest of our materialistic objects with us. What we do take is our soul, our character, and our self of well being. Remember, everyday is a brand new day. Do not get frustrated with what happened yesterday or the day before or the week before. Go forward! Take one day at a time. Be positive. Motivate others. Inspire the people around you. Surround yourself with positivity and inspiration and watch your LIFE soar. You have more power than you think. Use those powers for good and it will come back twice fold. This is a test for myself and you. See what kind of person you are and what you will become. You can do so much with the right mindset. Just go for it and do not MAKE EXCUSES. MAKE IT HAPPEN! ENJOY!

Past writings