Note: Charles is here on a weekly basis to help you cut through the B.S. and get to the bottom of the biggest questions in health and training. Post your questions via social media or in the comments section below to participate in next week's mailbag.

 

Question #1: Fasted Cardio for Fat Loss

READER: I suck at waking up in the morning and I'm trying to cut weight right now. What difference will it make to fat loss if I do my cardio in the morning while fasted or in the evening after my strength training? I need to drop 4-5% body fat to be at my goal.

 

CHARLES SAYS: To the best of my understanding, fasted cardio isn’t supported by current scientific research. So, whether or not you do cardio right after weight training would depend on the type of cardio you’re doing. If you’re doing Tabata or HIIT-style stuff, I’d do it right after lifting, since in essence, it’s physiologically similar to lifting anyway. If, on the other hand, you’re doing more of a LISS (low intensity steady state) type of cardio such as walking, you could do that anytime, including on non-lifting days.

 

"We all like to do the 'fun' things we’re already good at, but few of us are willing to undergo the 'purposeful practice'[.]" 

As an aside, I’m becoming slightly less adverse to cardio as a whole, particularly for those who are mainly interested in improving body composition. I’m still not a fan of distance running due to it’s catabolic effects and it’s potential for creating or exacerbating knee issues, but aside from that, I think most people would be well served by doing two or three cardio sessions of some type each week.

 

Question #2: Goal Setting

READER: What do you think is the one thing that gets in most people's way of succeeding in their fitness aspirations (if I hear the word "g#$l" one more time I’m going to puke) and what can a coach do to most effectively get someone over that barrier?

 

CHARLES SAYS: I can’t limit my answer to a single reason because people are all different, but I’ll give you a few of the front-runners:

 

The first reason is an unclear definition of success what success looks like. Yes, this is related to goal setting, but more specifically, you need to have a clear picture of what your destination looks like. And further, you need to be able to see yourself at this end point. In other words, you need to believe it’s possible.

 

"It’s cliché, but still true - a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and the same applies to you." 

I remember the first time I ever had a $20,000 month in my business. Once it happened the first time, I could actually picture it happening, and guess what? It started happening more and more often after that. Fitness works in much the same way. If you can’t honestly see yourself in possession of a six-pack, a 600-pound deadlift, or whatever your goal might be, then it won’t happen.

 

The next question you might have is how do you get to the point where you can see yourself in possession of that goal? The best way I know of is to find and hang out with others who have already gotten there. When you see that others have done it, it becomes easier to imagine you can do it. Case in point: not long after Roger Bannister ran the first ever four-minute mile, another runner achieved that same time. A few years later, a high-schooler did it also. Bottom line: seeing is believing.

 

The second reason people don’t succeed is that they have no social support system. When you’re trying to achieve great things, not only do you enter the minority, you also experience opposition from others whose own achievements are diminished in comparison to your own. It’s critical to surround yourself with people who support and encourage your aspirations. In my own case, I currently train with three people who are all younger, bigger, and stronger than I am. You never want to be the smartest guy in the room - or in this case, the strongest.

 

The third reason people fail is due to an unwillingness to acknowledge and shore up weaknesses. We all like to do the “fun” things we’re already good at, but few of us are willing to undergo the “purposeful practice” that Malcolm Gladwell speaks of in his books and blog posts concerning mastery and the 10,000-hour rule.

 

It’s cliché, but still true - a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and the same applies to you. I regularly create a complete list of all the factors involved in my preparation - nutrition, social support, mobility, technical proficiency, motivation, and so on - and then assign a numerical score (from one to ten) to each item, based on how good or bad I am in that department.

 

Question #3: Night-Owl Lifting

READER: When I work out in the evening, I add four to six kilos to all of my lifts. In the morning, I feel the same level of effort, but cannot lift as much. Am I getting the same level of work out when I lift in the morning?

 

CHARLES SAYS: You’ll probably never really know why you’re stronger in the evening, nor do I think it matters much. You might still be putting in the same degree of effort in the morning, but if you’re not as strong then, I don’t believe you’re getting as much out of your efforts compared to training at the time of day when you are (and feel) strongest.

 

Think of it this way: if you train when you’re severely malnourished or sleep-deprived, you might be working as hard as you can, but your results will still be stunted. In my mind, the same goes for training at times of the day where, for whatever reason, you can’t perform as well.

 

This Week’s Training

Weekly Training Volume: 67,677 Pounds (Last Week 16,200 Pounds)

 

Significant Lifts:

 

  • Low Bar Squat: 315x3
  • Trap Bar Deadlift: 365x4
  • Deficit Deadlift: 485x1

 

Lots of volume this week, and a few PRs, as well - including a 485 deficit pull, which is the most significant thing I’ve done in the gym in a while. What’s particularly interesting about this is that for some time now I’ve been pulling twice a week, which is a very high frequency by most accounts.

 

"I currently train with three people who are all younger, bigger, and stronger than I am."

I think I’m also making a bit of progress on my jerk, mostly through using a narrower grip spacing. There are pros and cons to the grip in the jerk: a wider grip shortens the range over which you need to move the bar, but go too wide, and you’ll be uncomfortable in the shelf position, which creates a weak and unstable platform for the jerk.

 

Enjoy the videos, and by all means, please submit any questions you might have for this column - I’m always looking for material.

 

Monday, February 2, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 199 lbs

Volume: 18,782 Pounds

Average Weight Per Rep: 141.21

 

Power Snatch

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 66 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 66 lbs × 5
  • Set 5: 88 lbs × 3
  • Set 6: 99 lbs × 2
  • Set 7: 110 lbs × 2
  • Set 8: 121 lbs × 1
  • Set 9: 132 lbs × 1
  • Set 10: 143 lbs × 1
  • Set 11: 154 lbs × 1

Notes: IQ: 75.54

 

Overhead Squat

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 45 lbs × 5

Notes: IQ: 45

 

Squat

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 185 lbs × 3
  • Set 5: 225 lbs × 2
  • Set 6: 275 lbs × 2
  • Set 7: 295 lbs × 2
  • Set 8: 315 lbs × 2
  • Set 9: 315 lbs × 2
  • Set 10: 315 lbs × 3 (Video Below)

Notes: IQ: 184.67

 

 

Trap Bar Deadlift

  • Set 1: 315 lbs × 6
  • Set 2: 315 lbs × 6
  • Set 3: 365 lbs × 4

Notes: IQ: 327.5

 

45° Back Extension

  • Set 1: 120 lbs × 14
  • Set 2: 120 lbs × 12
  • Set 3: 120 lbs × 14

Notes: IQ: 120

 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 200.6 lbs

Volume: 16,450 Pounds

Average Weight Per Rep: 122.76

 

Bench Press

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 95 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 135 lbs × 6
  • Set 4: 185 lbs × 4
  • Set 5: 205 lbs × 3
  • Set 6: 225 lbs × 3
  • Set 7: 225 lbs × 3
  • Set 8: 225 lbs × 3
  • Set 9: 225 lbs × 3
  • Set 10: 185 lbs × 10

Notes: IQ: 149.52

 

Military Press

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 65 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 85 lbs × 10
  • Set 4: 105 lbs × 5
  • Set 5: 125 lbs × 2
  • Set 6: 135 lbs × 2

Notes: IQ: 76.79

 

Chin Up

  • Set 1: 6 reps
  • Set 2: 6 reps
  • Set 3: 6 reps

Notes: IQ: 200.6

 

Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 80 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 80 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 80 lbs × 8

Notes: IQ: 80

 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 200.4 lbs

Volume: 21,765 Pounds

Average Weight Per Rep: 217.65

 

Clean and Jerk

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 3
  • Set 2: 66 lbs × 3
  • Set 3: 88 lbs × 3
  • Set 4: 110 lbs × 2
  • Set 5: 132 lbs × 2
  • Set 6: 143 lbs × 1
  • Set 7: 154 lbs × 1
  • Set 8: 165 lbs × 1 (Video Below)

 

 

1.5" Deficit Pull

  • Set 1: 135 lbs × 3
  • Set 2: 135 lbs × 3
  • Set 3: 225 lbs × 3
  • Set 4: 315 lbs × 1
  • Set 5: 365 lbs × 1
  • Set 6: 405 lbs × 1
  • Set 7: 455 lbs × 1 (Video Below)
  • Set 8: 485 lbs × 1 (Video Below)

Notes: IQ: 250.71

 

 

19" Box Squat

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 185 lbs × 10
  • Set 5: 185 lbs × 10
  • Set 6: 225 lbs × 5

Notes: IQ: 155

 

Back Extension

  • Set 1: +150 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: +150 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: +150 lbs × 10

Notes: IQ: 150

 

February 6, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 199.2 lbs

Volume: 10,680 Pounds

Average Weight Per Rep: 100.75

 

Close Grip Bench Press (Pinkies on Rings)

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 95 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 135 lbs × 6
  • Set 4: 185 lbs × 4
  • Set 5: 185 lbs × 4
  • Set 6: 185 lbs × 4

Notes: IQ: 117.77

 

Incline Dumbbell Press

  • Set 1: 100 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 100 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 100 lbs × 10

Notes: IQ: 100

 

Incline Dumbbell Row

  • Set 1: 100 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 100 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 100 lbs × 8

Notes: IQ: 100

 

EZ Bar Curl

  • Set 1: 65 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 65 lbs × 8

Notes: IQ: 65

 

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