Wednesday, November 30, 2016


It's the week after Thanksgiving. Which means most of us are still coming out of our food coma. While most of us ate more than we needed to, the thought now turns to training:

How much do I need to workout to "burn off" these calories?

I've mentioned this quite a few times in the past, but we use fat the most at rest! Our body prefers to use fat as it's primary energy source. Energy demands dictate how much energy we use as well as what type.

So when we are sitting doing nothing, we aren't using a lot of energy/calories. But of what we are using, anywhere from 85-95% of it is from fat.

Have more muscle? You'll burn even more calories at rest. Some studies have shown a 15% increase in calorie use at rest for people with increase muscle mass. Let's do the math:

If you use 100 calories per hour, then over 4-months add 12-lbs of muscle (112-lbs x .15) you will increase your calorie usage by 17 calories per hour. Multiply by 24, and you're now burning an extra 400 calories per day when you're sitting! 

But if your testosterone is low, well we have a problem. Low testosterone results in metabolic decline and increased body fat. It's a vicious cycle.

So what do you need to do to build muscle AND boost Testosterone?

First off, let's talk exercise selection because it is the simplest answer. Look, if you don't finish the exercise breathing hard with your heart beating hard and fast, then it should NOT be the foundation of your strength program. 

So this excludes: seated bicep curls, tricep extensions, calf raises, shoulder raises and sit ups.

Instead, pushups/bench press, squats, lunges, deadlifts, pull-ups, seated rows, pull downs, weighted sled pushes/drags, hang cleans and even weighted carries. 

Doing hours and hours of exercise is not the key. Absolutely demolishing your body day in and day out will have adverse effects. Why?

Cortisol is one of the hormones that when elevated for long periods of time will cause growth hormone and testosterone to decline. Studies show a significant increase in cortisol after roughly 45 minutes of intense weight lifting.

Don't get me wrong. Cortisol is actually a trigger for growth hormone. But only when it's elevated in cycles: increase during workout, decrease with rest and recovery following workout. Rinse and repeat.

Stress from work, family, training and poor sleep all can contribute to chronically elevated cortisol levels. Which in turn causes our testosterone to decrease and our body to store fat, usually in the abdominal area!

How many reps and sets should you be doing? Well to really get a decent testosterone elevation, you have to have a balance between volume and intensity. Volume is your total repetitions. Intensity is you weight, movement speed and rest.

You can do heavy weights for 5 sets of 6-12 reps and get significant testosterone boost. In 2010 research review by Dr. Brad Schoenfeld, sets between 6-12 repetitions have been shown to be the best balance of volume to create metabolic stress as well as using a high enough resistance to recruit what he calls high threshold motor units. Basically, it's the sweet spot.

In summary, your training should use an upper body/lower body split routine (upper body on day-1, lower body on day 2) and then train 3-4 times per week. 

Next, the exercises must be those that use multiple muscles and joints simultaneously because this causes the metabolic stress on your cardiovascular system as well as muscular system.

Repetitions and sets should be 3-5 sets of 6-12 repetitions for each exercise. This does not mean all exercises should be 5 sets of 12. But instead look for a total volume of 36-60 repetitions per movement pattern. An example would be 4 sets of 6 of flat bench press, 3 sets of 10 of incline bench press. This is a total of 54 repetitions. 

Lastly, we need to talk about rest. Too much rest and you lose the metabolic stress that keeps your heart beating fast and the stress on your cardiovascular system. Too short of rest and you won't be able to use a high enough resistance. Schoenfeld's article suggest 60-90 seconds of rest between sets.

I hope this helps clear up your training questions. I know we didn't really discuss cardiovascular fitness and specific energy system training. We'll address this one next time and give you a good look at what you can do for endurance training.

So let's get to work training to BOOST your low testosterone, huh?!!

If you'd like more information, email

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Having the RIGHT destination makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE!

It's okay to be frustrated with the way we look. If you're unhappy with the shape of your body, you're not alone. With obesity rates approaching 40% and over 60% of the country statistically overweight, most people are unhappy with their current state of appearance.

Most people then initially start off thinking "I need to lose weight." That's a pretty general statement. It's a goal, but it's an outcome goal. It's worthy of your attention and will most likely lead you to 

So what do you need to do to achieve that outcome?

Eat less? Good.

Eat less junk? Better

Eat protein with every meal? Best.

Exercise more? Good

Exercise more than I do now? Better.

Exercise 4 times per week? Best.

These are behavior goals. These are what is needed to be set to achieve the outcome goal. You see the outcome is basically a side effect of achieving behavior goals.

If a college basketball player wants to improve their free throws they need to work on technique and the volume of quality free throws. In other words they need to work towards mastery

Precision Nutrition recently put up a blog post about goal setting. If you've got 10-minutes, it's definitely worth your time to read.

I hear you now asking, "If goal setting is good, how can setting the wrong goals lead to failure, Aaron?"

Without setting behavior goals, you're not going to have a road map to success. It's like saying "I want to go to Beverly Hills. Let's hit the road!" But you leave with out a map: just driving away from Bakersfield won't get you to Long Beach. In fact, you could end up going in the wrong direction! 

In that case the person who says "I want to lose weight" but doesn't think about what is needed to achieve that goal, might hit their goal. Yet, it will probably take you much longer and there will be a lot of trial and error. 

So setting behavior goals is akin to getting directions to Beverly Hills and taking action steps to get there. (ie. Take CA-99 South, merge on to I-5 South, take I-405 South). 

Your behavior goals for losing weight should be fairly specific and clear. For example, "Eat 3 fist sized servings of vegetables per day" is specific and clear. Another behavioral goal we have set is to "replace calorie laden drinks with water." With this goal, we aim to reduce calories and improve hydration levels by increasing water intake and reducing sugary drink intake. Pretty simple, pretty clear. Right?

When you have behavior goals, it is much easier to measure success. Where as success with outcome goals is measured at the end of the time period, behavior goals can be improved upon daily, even hourly! If you are successful with behavior goals, being successful with outcome goals will practically be a side effect!

So think about some behavior goals that can lead you to your desired outcome goal. In other words, what do you have to do (behavior goal) to lose 10-lbs (outcome goal)?

List 3 behavior goals that you can accomplish on a daily basis that will improve your health. 




Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The "Disease" that is sweeping the nation... (You know somebody who has it!)


There is a "disease" that is raging across office personnel everywhere. Odds are, it's in your office. And even worse still, many people, possibly even you, are oblivious to it.

This disease can have life altering effects. It can cause sleep disruption, fatigue, back pain, knee pain and even digestive issues!

Back to this shortly...
Forgive me for being so blunt, but the gluteus maximus (the primary muscle of your rear) is an amazing thing! It is the most powerful muscle in the body...

Wait... for some of us, it's not.

For some of us it's actually a flat, non-muscular, dysfunctional pancake that gets no attention at all, from ourselves or the opposite sex!. And it's one of those things that, aside from attracting attention from the opposite sex, is very necessary for reducing back pain and knee pain: It literally the key to getting rid of most back pain and knee pain.

Unfortunately for most people with a case of "Noazatol (No-Ass-At-All), because it is on their backside, it gets ignored. If you don't look at it, it's not there, right? Just like a baby pretending you can't see him if he just covers his eyes?

Wrong. It will make you painfully aware of it's absence if you ignore it for long enough.

So let's talk about how you guys (and gals, because this "disease" is non-discriminatory) can cure your Noazatol.

First off, you have to realize it should be there, but yours is not. Admitting you have a problem is the first step!

Secondly, you have to find the on switch. Once you discover how to turn this muscle on, you can start paying attention to when you use it! The first way to turn it on is to simply contract it right now. Sitting in your chair, squeeze your buns together. Hold for 5-seconds, and slowly relax. Repeat 10-times. This is the most crucial step.

The next step is to perform that contraction any time you do a lower body exercise such as step ups, squats, lunges or deadlifts. A little trick here, lift your toes up a touch and push your heels into the ground. Often when we do lower body exercises, we tend to push through our toes. To cure what ails you, push through the heels.

Now below is a workout that you can do to help build the glutes. Perform all 3 exercises in a row with 10-seconds of rest between each one. Do each circuit 3 times

A1) Single Leg Hip Bridge x 15 each leg
A2) Sumo Squats (feet wider than usual, toes turned out 45-degrees) x 15
A3) Pushups (Because everyone benefits from pushups) x 10
B1) Quadruped Hip Extension x 15 each leg 
B2) Single Leg Deadlift x 15e (remember to "turn on" glutes with each repetition)
B3) Stick Ups (Back against wall, slide arms up and down wall as if I said "Stick em up!") x 15

Now, about cardio. Jogging is a GLUTE KILLER. It will make Noazatol worse. My recommendation is to do something like rowing, stair stepper or better yet, hiking uphill. Set the incline at a minimum of 6% and run uphill. This activates the glutes as your leg has to push you up and extend, thereby using more glutes than jogging on flat ground.

With all of the rain the local mountains have been getting, the hils are very green and there are beautiful hiking trails nearby.

Windwolves Nature Preserve has miles and miles of hiking trails.

There are many trails on the hills near Hart Park and up into Kernville there are a number of hiking trails as well!

Get outside and use those glutes!

I hope this helps you cure your Noazatol. If you have more questions regarding the cure, feel free to email me at!

Friday, January 22, 2016

When am I using my abs?

A lot of times, we as a society are looking for the newest "Ab Blaster Workout!" More common now days is the word "Core", but these authors mean the same thing. Different article for a different day.

But I digress.

Often times, we are trying to get the best ab workout. Then when we don't see results, we are mystified! 

The truth is that through out history, abs showed up 
when people had to move and work for a good portion of the day. They didn't sit around doing crunches and planks. They worked, their life is what led to having a lean and fit look. As a result, the abdominals showed up.

So what "manual labor" type exercises would lead to having a lean body? Chopping wood, Shoveling dirt, lifting hay bales, carrying heavy stuff with one arm. And of course cow tipping.

Although it's tempting to try and focus on abdominals, we use them the most to stabilize during movement. Therefore, it is wise to do a wide range of exercises that involve all of our body parts and require stabilization, agreed?

So exercises where weight is overhead or while we are offloaded (holding weight in one hand) will greatly improve our core strength. See how we can somewhat replicate these movements? 
Think about a single arm dumbbell front squat. It kind of looks like the "farmer" above; off-set load, held high. This requires abdominal stabilization.

Exercises such as standing overhead press, farmers walks, lunges, front squats and dumbbell step ups will constantly challenge your core strength. So it is these exercises that your training should be based around.
Lastly, this work was what people did 6-days per week. The lesson learned from that is to be consistent. A little bit done every day is more effective than a lot done once or twice a week. If that is all you have time for, then by all means use it to train. But don't make your abdominals the focus of your training. Instead use training to perfect the basic movements used in life. If you do this, your abs will show up.

Additionally, by throwing in some periods of running, there is a very good chance you'll see your abs without ever doing a crunch!

In short, if we know how to use our abs, then they are almost always turned on when we are standing, walking, running or weight training. And by using your abdominals to stabilize during daily tasks in addition to your weight training, they will get stronger and bigger. And pending your eating habits, some abdominals should show up. But that's for another article!

If you're not sure how to implement these exercises into an effective and efficient training program, and look into our Program Design services. We'll do a movement evaluation, body composition (body fat %), nutrition evaluation and lastly strength testing. Based on this information, we put together a training program that fits your schedule, your needs and your wants. It's pretty impressive if I do say so!

Here's to a fit and healthy 2016!

Friday, October 23, 2015

How well do you know your "OWN"ers manual?

Whenever we purchase something that is a bit technical, it comes with an owner's manual. The manual helps us understand how the equipment works, how to maintain the equipment, what it can and can't be used for, some cautionary instructions, trouble shooting suggestions and a help line if a person were still struggling getting the item to operate how it should.

Things as simple as a toaster come with an owner's manual. Other electronic items also come with rather extensive owner's manual.

Despite most things coming with an instruction book/owner's manual, people rarely look at them until they have a problem. Some of the most basic, primitive tools require maintenance.

We as humans are exponentially more complicated than even a computer.

So wouldn't it be wise to have an owner's manual for ourselves?

The Precision Nutrition Lean Eating program, which will be starting in January, has clients create an owner's manual for their body. And honestly, it's a great idea. As the ancient Greeks said, "Know thyself."

What types of things would go in your own owner's manual?

From a nutrition perspective it would be things listed below:

  • What types of foods do you like/dislike?
  • What are your favorite veggies/meats/grains/meals?
  • How often should you eat to feel, think and move well all day?
  • How does your body respond to a low quality meal? 
  • What can you do to ensure you have quality food available for when you get hungry?
  • How are you when you get thirsty?
  • What are some "trigger" events that would lead to over eating?
From a physical perspective, questions below are good to ask yourself;
  • How often do I need to exercise to feel good? 
  • Do I do better with short workouts 5-6 times a week or 2-3 longer workouts over the week?
  • What activities do I enjoy? Which do I dislike?
  • Which activities look like exercise but feel like fun?
  • How often do I need to stretch?
  • Which stretching methods work best for my body?
And from a lifestyle perspective:
  • How much sleep do I need to not feel like junk in the morning?
  • Who are my best friends?
  • Are there any relationships that are hurtful or destructive?
  • Am I a good employee?
  • How is my faith/spiritual life?
  • How is my family life?
  • Do I take time for myself?
All of these questions (and these are just a few) will help us understand ourselves better and make ourselves healthier from a physical, mental, spiritual and emotional perspective.

We are complicated beings. Those who simply react to the situation in front of them will constantly be chasing their tails.

This happens a lot in physical therapy. Patients come in feeling a lot of pain. After 4-6 weeks, they feel better. They get discharged and go back to the living that injured them in the first place without continuing on with their maintenance exercises.

What happens?

We see them again in 3-4 months.

You don't have to write a novel, but at least know a few things about yourself. A few things about me that are in my owner's manual?
  • I have a chronically tight left hamstring. But when I deadlift on a regular basis, the pain goes away. When I stop, it returns within 2-3 weeks. Better keep deadlifting.
  • I am VERY unproductive without enough food in the morning. It sets the tone for my day. Better make sure I always bring eggs and oatmeal.
  • I like coffee. But more than 2 cups leaves me jittery and scattered.
  • I am easily distracted. I do best when I set a timer and work for that period of time and then take a short break.
  • I have sleep apnea. So when I don't get at least 6-hours of sleep with my CPAP unit, I feel tired and lethargic.
  • I enjoy ironing while listening to big band music and having a beer (summer) or coffee (winter). It's SUPER relaxing if you haven't tried it!
So try just jotting down a few things about yourself. It will help explain why some days are better than others. Recognize a pattern then add it to your manual!
Special thanks to Dr. Brad Davis for the inspiration for this newsletter! 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Which type of body fat are you trying to get rid of?

For many people, the notion that weight loss = calories in minus calories out is almost cemented in their mind. As long as we are in a calorie deficit, weight loss will ensue, correct?

On paper, in text books, in clinical trials, in fitness magazines and in the doctors office, it is portrayed as that simple.

I have a very interesting theory though that I will expand upon, and hopefully be published in a bigger publication.

I've been doing some research on this theory and so far, it seems to pan out pretty well.

Here's the gist of the article: There are two types of fat-loss patients:
  • There are those who simply over eat and make poor food choices
  • There are those who are stressed in multiple ways and as a result fail to lose abdominal fat.
How do we determine who is who?

Here is a list of characteristics I see in people from the two groups
Generalized adiposity - 
  1. Poor food quality and quantity selection when observing a food eating record
  2. Larger skin folds in multiple regions of the body
  3. Soft, squishy fat around multiple body regions
  4. Body fat fairly evenly distributed among the body regions and limbs
  5. No history of prolonged dieting
  6. Minimal physical activity
  7. Somewhat sedentary job
  8. No attention to hunger/fullness cues when eating
Centralized adiposity - 
  1. Very conscious of food choices and quality
  2. Lower skin fold measurements in arms, calves, chest and thighs, high skin fold in abdominal region, mid axillary and subscapular
  3. Unevenly distributed fat (primarily deposited in abdominal region)
  4. Hard abdominal fat (they look overweight, but the belly is as hard as a drum)
  5. History of repeated attempts at losing weight with some success
  6. High demand, high pressure career, often a business owner
  7. Poor recover (ie poor sleep, dependence on caffiene, chronically tired, calories too low, deficient in certain macronutrients, micronutrients)
Now hopefully you recognize some of the traits characterized here in these 2 categories. And hopefully you indirectly see solutions to these characteristics. 

The solution for the Generalized Adiposity group is fairly simple:
  • pay attention to hunger cues,
  • eat to 80% full
  • and focus on whole foods such as fruits/veggies, lean protein and root veggies for starches
Add in 2-3 hours of exercise a week and they can expect to lose weight fairly easily.

The solution for the Centralized Adiposity group is a bit more complex. Because their's is a problem of stress and managing that stress. This study and this study demonstrated that high levels of the stress hormone cortisol is related to increased abdominal fat storage.

A big hang up for most people in this boat is the fact that they (GASP!) need to eat more and exercise a little less (assuming they are exercising). Trying to wrap your mind around that paradigm shift is a pretty tough and many people struggle with it.

An article by nutrition coach Georgie Fear has an entire section of her website devoted to "reverse dieting." In it, she outlines the steps that are needed to restore a metabolism that has been devastated by stress from chronic dieting, over training, poor recovery and poor sleep habits.

What changes does the Centralized Adiposity (Stressed) client need?
  • Make sure you're not cutting calories too low
  • Sleep 7-9 hours per night
  • Exercise at a lower intensity for 3-4 hours/week
  • Focus on hunger/fullness rather than counting calories
  • Minimize stimulants such as caffeine and added sugar
  • Perform meditative exercises that focus on breathing patterns and removing mental clutter
So take a look at the two types of fat loss clients. If you know you're overweight, you're going to fall into one of these two categories. And knowing which category you are in can save you a lot of time, headaches and frustration by knowing what to expect.

I'd love to help you no matter which category you fall into. Because we can make changes that will lead to a healthier, happier life!

Email and let's get this ball rolling!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Why MEN get stuck in their fat loss...and how to fix it.

I need to talk to the men about something. Something that you're going to read and balk at. Something that might seempreposterous even.

And it has to do with your body weight, your body fat and more importantly your testosterone levels, which indirectly effects your body fat, your energy and your muscle mass. Here it is.

You probably aren't eating ENOUGH.

I share this with you because I fight the same battle, the same struggle, the same mental roadblocks.

Or at least I did.

A few years ago, I was of the eat a little less, exercise a little more mindset and thought that's what it would take to get down to the 10-11% body fat range. After doing some research and applying the G-Flux Theory to my workouts and nutrition, I found my way to 12% down from 18%!

You see, many men have taken the "eat like a bird" fat-loss approach. They make the move to lose weight and get their head around the idea that they'll have to make some eating changes.

However, they far too often drop food intake and calories to devastatingly low levels and they do it for months, sometimes years! And they don't lose any fat! They lose a few pounds but eventually their metabolism comes to a screeching halt!

Now if you're obese or over 20% body fat, the "eat less, exercise more" approach will probably work until you get down to that 20% level. But you know what it's doing to your metabolism?

Strangling it. 

Your metabolic engine goes from a roaring V-8 supercar to a moped in no-time flat.

As men, testosterone and growth hormone (GH) drives our metabolism. And those hormones need energy and yes, dietary FAT to build them. So when we go cutting our calories to low levels, we starve our metabolism.

Funny thing is, when we do this, we actually gain fat. So most of us will just try to train harder and eat less. And how effective do you think that is?

You might lose an extra few pounds. But I promise you it is NOT fat. It's most likely muscle or water. How can you tell? You'll feel weak, chronically fatigued and absolutely drained. You'll look soft, you'll be grumpy and you will not be very motivated to exercise.

This will turn into a never ending story as your body starts to break down, injuries show up and even 10-hours of sleep per night will not feel like enough.

So how do you prevent or even fix this?

The short version, train less, sleep well and start eating more veggies and protein with each meal. Most guys need between2500-3500 calories for maintenance. Do you know what most guys who are trying to lose weight are getting? Around 1500. That's less than an 8-year old child needs!

Yes, 3000 calories seems like a lot. But if you're stuck in that flabby but not fat stage, you need to eat a little more and ease up on the workouts to help stimulate your metabolism. Exercising more and eating less will only result in more frustration, more injuries and an even slower metabolism. It's just the way hormones work.

Now don't go jumping straight from your 1500 calorie a day diet to a 3000 calorie a day diet. Your body will still be in energy conservation mode and you'll just gain weight.

Instead there is a different route you need to take. Ease up on the exercise to 3 times a week of moderate intensity strength work, cut out the cardio and gradually increase your calories by about 250/day for 1 week. Then repeat for 3-4 weeks until you're up in the 2500-3000 calorie range.

 Much of this has to do with feel. Pay attention to your body. Are you always tired? Are your workouts going backwards? Are you feeling more energized? Are you progressing with both workout intensity and movement quality each workout? Counting calories is almost fruitless. Once you get below 20%, it's time to start really dialing things in. You can't just keep cutting calories. There are some other important details that I just don't have the space to elaborate on.

However, for an in-depth video course on what nutritional and exercise strategies men need, check out Precision Nutrition's 5-day Fat-Loss Course for Men! It's eye opening to say the least. And besides, whats the worst that could happen? You take 10-minutes a day for the next 5-days and learn a few new things?

If you're still not motivated, just ask yourself the QUESTION BELOW:

Check out Precision Nutrition for Men.You'll be glad you did. 

Let's say you are one of these guys that is stuck. What do you do? You need some help, someone to coach you through the process. Send me an email at aaron@pairmarotta.comand we'll get you from start to finish!

Have a great week!