How To Be A Good Spotter: 7 Tips!

Bench-PressIf you’ve spent much time in a gym, you’ve likely been asked to provide a spot. Or, there’s probably been a time or two when you would have benefited from a spotter.

Years ago, I was lifting at a gym that didn’t provide safety pins to hold the weight plates in place. On my last repetition of bench pressing, I missed the rack and dumped 175lbs worth of weight plates across the gym floor. More than creating a spectacle (which it was), I was lucky to escape injury. If I had asked for the assistance of a spotter, the whole debacle could have been avoided.

What is spotting?

Simply put, it’s the act of supporting another person during an exercise to ensure safety and allow the exerciser to lift or push more than he or she could on their own.

Some spotters are good. And some spotters suck. So to be a better spotter, here are a few tips focused around bench pressing:

  1. Communicate. Asking someone for a spot is a bit like asking someone to be your boyfriend or girlfriend. Good spotting relationships are built on a foundation of communication. Being on the same page involves asking the exerciser what they need from you and how many repetitions they are aiming to complete.
  2. Help only when needed. When someone asks you to spot, they’re not asking you to do the work for them. If they’re struggling and moving the bar slowly, don’t provide assistance. If the the exerciser is failing and gravity is pulling the bar down, do provide assistance.
  3. Don’t use full force – unless needed. When you do provide assistance, apply the proper amount of force. Usually, this means providing just enough force to lift the bar. The exerciser should still be working throughout your spot. The exception would be a sudden drop in the bar or total failure on the part of the exerciser; in this instance, full force is necessary to safely re-rack the barbell.
  4. Spot lift off. When bench pressing, lifting the barbell off of the rack may require some assistance. You’ll commonly see this in powerlifting competitions. It’s always smart to ask if they’ll need help with this movement.
  5. Help re-rack. You’ll probably be expected to assist in the re-racking of the barbell upon completion of the set. This is especially important if the lifter has reached failure. Many accidents happen when exercisers miss the j-hook, so be proactive during this part of the exercise.

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    Should have had a spot!

  6. Know the technique. Different exercises require different spotting strategies. For the bench press, keep your hands near the bar but don’t touch it until needed. Having a mixed grip of one hand under the bar and one hand over the bar will enable you to use maximum lifting strength if required. Spotting on a squat, on the other hand, is much more technical. If you’re unfamiliar or uncomfortable spotting, just let the exerciser know. It’s better to speak up than risk injuring the exerciser.
  7. Pay attention. When someone asks you for a spot, they’re putting their safety in your hands. It’s not the time to look around the gym or check your cell phone. Pay attention. A good lift can go bad quickly, and you’re the safety net to prevent serious injury.

If you have any tips, spotting stories or pet peeves, share them in the comments below!

P.S. If bigger muscles are your goal, download Size Matters: Davey Wavey’s Foolproof Guide to Building Muscle!

Answered: Why Am I Exercising But Gaining Weight?

Dear Davey,

I’ve been working out for almost two months. Two months ago, I had a 38 inch waist and weighed 210 lbs. After all this exercising, I’m now 215 lbs and my waistline has increased by an inch. I’m extremely discouraged. What is happening?

From,
Peter

14405029672_43f234844f_zHey Peter,

That is very frustrating. But as it turns out, you’re not alone. Gaining weight while exercising is actually quite common. In fact, a recent study demonstrated this reality by enlisting 91 healthy but overweight women in an exercise program. At the end of the 12 week program, 70% of the women had added fat mass – despite being more aerobically fit and healthier.

The study didn’t focus on the other variables in the women’s lives. And therein lies the problem. Exercise is just one part of a very complicated equation. For example, it’s entirely possible that the women ended up increasing their calorie intake during the study or became more sedentary in other aspects of their lives.

If you’re gaining weight while exercising, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  1. Is it muscle? Depending on your exercise program, your weight gain may be due (at least in part) to added muscle mass. If this is the case, you may notice a transformation in your body such as increased biceps, larger pectorals or increased glutes. A larger waistline, on the other hand, is an indication that you may be adding body fat.
  2. Have your eating habits changed? In the simplest terms, weight loss is the result of a calorie deficit. When we eat fewer calories than we burn, a calorie deficit occurs. Exercise can increase calories burned, but many exercisers also increase their caloric intake. Exercise may increase your appetite – and it’s possible to consume more calories than you burned during exercise. This can result in excess calories being stored as body fat. In other words, working out isn’t a free pass to eat anything and everything.
  3. Is your workout effective? Going to the gym isn’t enough. Your workout must be connected to your goal of losing weight. Endlessly walking on a treadmill, for example, could actually be counterproductive. If you need help creating a workout that targets fat loss, download Davey Wavey’s Weight Loss Program or enlist the help of a personal trainer.
  4. Are you sleeping well? Besides exercise and nutrition, other variables can impact body fat storage. Not getting enough sleep is one of them. Changes in hormone levels can increase your appetite and decrease satiety after eating.
  5. Are you stressed? Increases in stress result in the release of a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol can increase appetite and may result in the accumulation of fat in the body’s midsection.
  6. Are you taking any new medications? If you are on any new medications, talk to your doctor about side effects. It’s possible that weight gain is one them. This is especially common with anti-depressants, anti-inflammatory steroids and medications that treat migraines, seizures, high blood pressure and diabetes. Don’t stop taking medications without talking to your doctor.

Don’t be discouraged. Gaining weight when working out isn’t a sign of failure. Instead, use it as an opportunity to assess the effectiveness of your training, your diet and the other factors in your life. And then, if possible, make changes and press forward in the achievement of your goals.

Love,
Davey

Which Fats Are Good And Bad?

mens_fitness_18793A decade or two ago, low fat diets were popular. If you’re looking to drop body fat, cutting dietary fat would seem logical. But that’s not really how things work. Through science, we’ve come to realize that things are a bit more complex than that – and that we still have a lot to learn.

If you read the nutritional labels (and I hope you do!) of the foods you eat, you’ll notice that there’s total fat, saturated fat and trans fat. Here’s what they all mean.

  • Total fat: The cumulative fat content in a serving, displayed in grams and as a percentage of your recommended intake. Keep in mind these percentages are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your actual caloric needs may be different. Total fat doesn’t seem to have an effect on health. Instead, it’s the type of fat consumed that has an impact.
  • Saturated fat: Until recently, nutritionists have warned against saturated fats because they raise the type of cholesterol that clogs your arteries. However, researchers have been unable to establish a correlation between saturated fat and the risk of heart attack or stroke. As such, saturated fats may actually be neutral. But that’s not a free pass to eat a pound of bacon.
  • Unsaturated fat: These are the heart-healthy fats found in fish, olive oil, etc., that appear to have a protective effect on your health. Of course, unsaturated fats are still calorie-dense – so continue to eat these fats according to recommendations.
  • Trans fat: These are the bad guys, and are most often found in processed foods. Trans fats simultaneously raise bad cholesterol while lowering good cholesterol. As such, the American Heart Association recommends minimizing trans fats in your diet by not exceeding more than 1% of your total caloric intake. Based on a 2,000 calorie diet, that’s 2 grams of trans fat per day. You can find trans fats in many cakes, fries, doughnuts and baked goods. Though many manufacturers are moving away from trans fats, it’s important to check nutrition information.

The truth is, all of us need essential fats to survive; cutting all fat out of your diet would be a very bad thing. Instead, be mindful of the type of fat you eat – with an emphasis on heart-healthy unsaturated fats.

P.S. If you want to cut body fat, there’s no better way to do it than by downloading Davey Wavey’s Bootcamp Program. Through a strategy called high intensity interval training, you’ll incinerate excess body fat while preserving muscle.

Is Milk Actually Good For You?

lady-drinking-milk-1We’ve always been taught to drink our milk. In fact, the USDA recommends that adult men and women should get three dairy servings per day. But are these guidelines outdated – or downright wrong?

A number of recent studies have shown that milk might not be so great, after all. Just a few weeks ago, a new study was published in the journal BMJ. Researchers set out to determine if high milk consumption is associated with mortality and fractures in men and women.

More than 100,000 Swedish adults were recruited for the study. Over the course of several decades, mortality rates and fractures were tracked. According to the data, researchers concluded that having three or more glasses of milk per day increased mortality rates for both men and women, and increased fractures in women.

So does drinking three glasses or more of milk really cause you to die earlier?

Researchers advise caution, and feel that more data is needed before making any conclusions. If this link proves to be true, researchers speculate that it could be due to an ominous ingredient in milk called D-galactose. In animal studies, this ingredient led to premature aging in the body and bones and internal inflammation, which can lead to health issues including cancer and heart disease. But all of that is a big ‘if’ at the moment.

Of course, we do know that milk does have some benefits – mainly, that it’s rich in calcium. But there are plenty of other calcium rich foods like kale, oranges, beans, green peas, chickpeas, quinoa and seeds.

Milk also contains a great deal of sugar in the form of lactose. One cup of milk contains 13 grams of naturally occurring sugar… or just over 3 teaspoons. It’s one of the reasons why I always opt for unsweetened almond milk. It’s creamier than milk, but without the sugar or extra calories. Regardless of whether or not these studies prove to be true, I highly recommend making the switch.

P.S. To look good and feel great through the foods you eat, download Davey Wavey’s Insanely Easy Guide to Eating Smarter. It comes with a free gift!

5 Tips For Healthier Burgers.

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Nope.

Mmmm. Burgers.

According to The Economist, the average American eats 3 burgers per week. That adds up to 40 billion burgers annually. The problem is, most burgers start with fatty cuts of meat and then go from bad to worse with unhealthy toppings.

By upgrading the nutritional value of our burgers, we can take a huge step in the direction of a healthier diet. Here are a few simple and delicious tips for getting more out of your burgers.

  1. Start with lean meat. While turkey can be leaner than beef, it really depends on the cut. The USDA defines ‘lean’ as meat containing less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 100 grams cooked serving. You can also opt for extra lean for further reductions. If beef is your choice, grass-fed provides nutritional benefits over conventional beef. To cut down on calories per serving, I like to sneak lots of veggies into my burgers. I’ll chop up an onion and a few cloves of garlic to add into the meat mixture. Alternatively, a marinated Portobello mushroom burger can also be perfection.
  2. Select a whole grain bun. A wheat bun isn’t the same thing as a whole wheat bun. Whole grains contain all parts of the grain kernel; they contain more protein, fiber and nutrients. Read the ingredients to ensure that the first item listed has the word ‘whole’ before it. You can even ditch the bun and sandwich your burger between to lettuce leafs.
  3. Opt for healthier condiments. Mayo, BBQ sauce and ketchup are tempting. But the first is loaded in unhealthy fats and the second and third contain huge amounts of sugar. In fact, ketchup is 25% sugar. The good news is that all of these condiments are replaceable. Use a thick slice of tomato instead of ketchup. Avocado is another great condiment upgrade.
  4. Load up on the good stuff. Don’t stop with tomato and avocado. I love adding microgreens to my burgers. Sun-dried tomatoes and olives are also nice. You could use salsa and cilantro. Or red onions and spinach. Sometimes, I even top my burgers with an egg. Yum!
  5. Grate the cheese. Cheese has some health benefits, but it’s calorie dense and often loaded with unhealthy fats. If you absolutely must include cheese on your burger, opt for grated cheese. By grating your cheese, you reduce the portion.

The good news is that burgers can be a part of any healthy diet. It’s just important to be mindful of the ingredients you select. And if you have any tips for building a better burger, share them in the comments below!

P.S. To look and feel great by changing the foods you eat, download Davey Wavey’s Insanely Easy Guide to Eating Smarter. You’ll even get my five video ab workout series (A $59 value) as a free gift!

How To Build A Better Butt.

Dear Davey,

I’m going to get right to the point… I hate my butt. I don’t like the shape and it’s too small. I have no idea what to do. Help!

From,
Jordan

gingers-are-cool-OH.-OKAY-THEN.-I-WILL.-UM.-JUST-BE-OVER-HERE-IN...Hey Jordan,

For both men and women, our asses are important assets. They can be one of the first things that other people notice (other than your wonderful personality!), and can certainly get the blood pumping. Among other things.

Here are few tips for giving yourself a booty makeover.

  1. Build your glutes through strength training. The gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus are the muscles that define your butt. By engaging in strength training exercises that target your glutes, you’ll build a rounder and tighter tush. Some exercises to incorporate into your workout include squats (this one is the best!), lunges, leg presses and deadlifts. Every few weeks, progress to heavier and heavier amounts of resistance. This process (called progressive overload) will cause your muscles to grow.
  2. Target glutes through cardio. You can also train your glutes through cardiovascular exercise. According to research, jogging on a treadmill is the most effective cardio exercise in terms of glute activation. Adding an incline further enhances activation. If you’re really willing to invest time in the pursuit of an awesome ass, learn how to ice skate… because hockey butt.
  3. Reduce butt fat through a calorie deficit. If you want to reduce butt fat, know that a calorie deficit is required. That means, you’ll need to eat fewer calories than you burn. It’s important to continue exercise when using a calorie deficit to ensure that more fat than muscle is lost. However, keep in mind that fat will melt off all areas of your body… and not just your backside. It’s impossible to reduce fat just in your butt without reducing fat from other areas of your body.
  4. Be realistic. At the end of the day, exercise and diet will most likely enhance the shape you already have. But having a stronger, lean backside isn’t just about looking a certain way. It’s about being strong and powerful. And a well developed butt will help you in other aspects of your workout.

If you want a bigger butt, focus on tips 1, 2 and 4. When building muscle (a process you’ll often hear gym enthusiasts refer to as bulking), a calorie deficit will actually work against your goals. Obviously, building muscle requires a surplus of calories.

If you want a smaller backside, focus on tip 3. When reducing fat (a process you’ll often hear gym enthusiasts refer to as cutting), you won’t be able to build muscle.

Love,
Davey

P.S. For a guaranteed strategy to build muscle on your backside or anywhere else, download Size Matters: Davey Wavey’s Foolproof Guide to Building Muscle!

5 Steps To Stay Full Longer!

Hey Davey,

I’m 90 pounds overweight and can’t seem to stay full for more than an hour. I want to lose weight, but I don’t want to feel like I’m starving. For example, the other night I had a massive dinner at a Chinese restaurant. An hour later, I was hungry again. So I ordered a second dinner from KFC. I can’t believe how much food I’m eating.

Any advice for staying full longer?

Thanks,
Chris

tumblr_my7w12DSyA1rman8co1_1280Hey Chris,

When it comes to feeling full longer, not all foods are created equal – and there are a few handy tricks that can help curb hunger.

Here are five steps to follow.

  1. Step 1: Ask yourself if you’re you really hungry? Know the difference between hunger and appetite. Hunger is the body’s need for food whereas appetite is the psychological desire for food. With this in mind, rate your hunger on a scale of 1 to 10 – with 1 being insatiably hungry and 10 being in pain from overeating. Using this hunger scale, you’ll slowly learn to both identify true hunger and do a better job of differentiating psychological desires for food.
  2. Step 2: Drink water. Believe it or not, water is actually filling. It creates more volume in your stomach, which can make a significant difference. Best of all, water has no calories. Various studies (including this one) have demonstrated the power of water in weight loss.
  3. Step 3: Add fiber and lean protein to your diet. Fiber takes a long time to digest and numerous studies have illustrated the satiating effect of lean protein foods. For this reason, high fiber and lean protein foods cause you to feel more satisfied. As a result, you’ll consume fewer calories throughout the day.
  4. Step 4: Opt for high volume foods. High volume foods are foods that contain lots of air or water. As such, they’re much less calorie dense. Think vegetables and salads. Because these foods add bulk to your diet without adding a large amount of calories, they’re worth loading up on. By eating a large volume of food, your stomach will feel full.
  5. Step 5: Eat nuts and peanut butter. Nuts are high in both protein and fiber, and are a great healthy snack that will fill you up. Peanut butter is also a good treat. Researchers at Purdue University found that people feel fuller and eat less after snacking on peanut butter than other foods.

I hope you’re able to put these steps to work for you.

Love,
Davey

P.S. To transform your life through the foods you eat, I recommend downloading Davey Wavey’s Insanely Easy Guide to Eating Smarter. I’ll show you how to eat in a way that supports your health and fitness goals.

7 Treadmill Myths You Probably Believe!

o-SMILE-TREADMILL-570The treadmill can be an incredibly useful and effective tool in any workout. But it’s no surprise that there are many myths and misconceptions surrounding this piece of equipment.

Here are a few of the most common:

  1. Calories burned is accurate: MYTH! Our bodies are very, very unique. It’s completely ridiculous to believe that by typing in your age and weight, a treadmill can accurately calculate your caloric burn. This is a gross oversimplification. Instead, use calories burned as a very general guide.
  2. You’ll run the same speed outside as on a treadmill: MYTH! Just because you can run a six minute mile on the treadmill doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to run one outside. The outside world is a very different beast with lots of added variables including weather, headwinds, uneven surfaces, hills, traffic and much more. Moreover, the spinning treadmill belt actually enables you to run a bit faster. This is especially important to consider if training for a 5k or competition race.
  3. You should always do cardio before strength training: MYTH! If your goal is cardiovascular endurance or weight loss, it may make sense to do cardio first – when you have a fresh set of legs. But if your goal is muscle size or strength, hit the weights first while your energy is still high. In actuality, the order of cardio versus strength training doesn’t make a huge difference; it’s more important to do what works for you.
  4. If someone is on the treadmill next to you, you’re not racing: MYTH! I’m only half joking with this one. Runners can be very competitive, and sometimes it’s nice to have an extra challenge.
  5. If you run at a 1% incline, it simulates outdoors running: MYTH! This is a very common tool and something that I’ve previously recommended. Because treadmill running is easier, adding an incline can help increase energy output and better simulate outdoors running. But the 1% incline is very general, and represents an over simplification. It’s only been found to accurate at running speeds of 7MPH or faster.
  6. Holding the treadmill handles while running is smart: MYTH, MYTH, MYTH! This myth needs to die today. Holding onto the treadmill handles is dangerous, especially at faster speeds. It also fundamentally changes the way your body moves and can make you less stable when walking or running without a treadmill. Moreover, holding onto a treadmill while moving at an incline actually negates the incline. All around, it’s a terrible idea.
  7. Sweating more will help you lose weight: MYTH! Well, it’s technically true that sweating results in weight loss – but the weight being lost is water, not fat. As soon as the body is re-hydrated, all that water weight comes back on. Nonetheless, you’ll see people running in sweatsuits to increase perspiration. It’s a silly idea that’s not backed by science.

Treadmills are a great tool. I use one almost every day and absolutely love it. But it’s important to separate fact from fiction and to have a safe, smart and effective workout.

P.S. If you’re looking to increase muscle definition, download Davey Wavey’s Bootcamp Workout and get started today with this exclusive workout series.

Running The Rack Workout Technique!

14981056675_b2db876f07_kWhen looking to increase intensity or break through plateaus, dropsets are a great strategy. As I’ve mentioned before, a dropset is as follows:

A technique wherein, after completing a set of a given exercise until failure, you drop down the weight and immediately continue the exercise with reduced resistance.

Typically, dropsets are best utilized with a workout partner. They can quickly change the weight plates on your barbell. However, if you’re flying solo, you can also use a dropset strategy by “running the rack.”

Here’s how running the rack works.

Approach the rack and select a dumbbell that allows you to complete a normal set of a given exercise. For example, I would use the 55 lb dumbbells to complete 7 bicep curls. Immediately replace the dumbbells with a set that is 5 pounds lighter. Try to complete an additional set. Drop down another 5 pounds and continue on until completing the set is no longer challenging.

It sounds easy. But I promise it’s not. As such, make sure that you don’t compromise your form as the intensity cranks up.

Next time you hit the gym, give it a try.

P.S. If you’re looking to increase muscle size, download “Size Matters: Davey Wavey’s Foolproof Guide to Building Muscle” and get started today!

4 Exercise Phrases to Replace NOW!

Our words have a lot of power.

They might not change reality – but they can change your perception of reality. And that’s a pretty big deal. As such, it’s important to choose words wisely.

14410557274_d803a6b38c_zChoosing words wisely is especially important when it comes to health and fitness. Through the words we express, we can dramatically shift our experience of exercise – and, ultimately, our results. To that end, I’ve picked a few key fitness phrases to replace in your vocabulary.

  1. “I hate this exercise.” When we say that we hate an exercise, what we usually mean is that it’s difficult. And if an exercise is difficult, that’s a good indication that we need to do more of it. Let’s be clear: You’re at the gym to exercise and get stronger. To get stronger, we need to challenge ourselves – and it’s these difficult exercises that help ensure results. Rather than hating difficult exercises, embrace them! Don’t hate the exercise, love it!
  2. “I want to be skinny.” The dictionary defines skinny as “lacking sufficient flesh; very thin; emaciated.” Despite the images we see and the messages we hear, skinny isn’t a wise fitness goal. Instead of aspiring to be scrawny or gaunt, let’s work towards healthy, strong, athletic or fit. There are so many words more deserving of our attention.
  3. “I need to go to the gym.” When you say it like that, going to the gym sounds like a chore. And if it sounds like a chore, it will feel like a chore. Going to the gym isn’t something to dread. On the contrary, going to the gym is a tremendous gift to your body – and it’s a step in the direction of your goals. You don’t need to go to the gym. You want to go to the gym and to experience its benefits.
  4. “I’ll never look like that.” Why in the world would you root against your goals and your body? By feeding yourself negative sentiments, you’re fighting against the reality you want to create. Instead of building walls up, knock them down. Be your biggest cheerleader. Rather than focusing on the ‘nevers’, bring your attention to the changes that you can and will make – and let each day be a step in the direction of your goals.

At the end of the day, what you tell yourself and the people around you becomes your truth. So let’s use language that keeps us in alignment with the truth we want and the goals we wish to achieve. Bring awareness to what you listen to, what you tell yourself and what you tell others.

P.S. If you want a strong and healthy core, download “Davey Wavey’s Six Pack Program” and use discount code “YouTube” to save 25% during checkout! It contains five, 12-minute ab workouts that you can do at home to achieve real and lasting results!