Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ode to Recovery

I would just like to take a few minutes to let you all know about my favourite part about hard training...The rest and recovery days!  There is nothing like training hard all week, both at work and in the gym and then coming home to relax, get a few extra hours of sleep and a few more nutrient packed meals.  These are the days that you usually start to see the fruits of your labour, you body has a chance to rebuild, soreness starts to go away as your body begins to recharge for the next hard week of training.

Here are a few ways to make these rest days as productive as possible:

1) Do some light cardio.  By light, I mean very light, like going for a nice slow bike ride around the neighbourhood or walk with the dog.  Just enough to get the blood and nutrients flowing to help speed recovery and ease soreness without further breaking down the muscles any further.  Although if you are really sore it may be very tough to get moving but this is the best thing for you to do.

2) Some light stretching. This speaks for itself and some yoga would be perfect!  Perhaps go to that class that your girlfriend has been bugging you to go to for the last 10 months.

3)Get a massage.  If you get these regularly from a loved than you are in luck.  But if you have the extra cash or an excellent health plan; then having a therapeutic massage or some muscle therapy will do so much for any stress from the last week. Muscle soreness or any bad feelings at all that you have will be a thing of the past.  A bit of an exaggeration, but not really.


[This very gentle massage picture found here]

I recently received one of these as a birthday present and I must say: I do not think that I could have felt any better.  I could not wait to get back out and train because all sorts of little aches and pains that I had all over my body had been viciously worked out [although some parts were very sore from my very powerful masseuse! In a good way.]

4) Eat well. This doesn't mean that you have to forgo all of your favourite foods. Just make sure that you are getting enough nutrition and you can still enjoy some of the very tasty treats that tend to appear at BBQ's and other weekend functions, just don't go overboard.  Eat the good stuff first!

5) Don't party too hard. Get some sleep otherwise all the hard work you put in during the week is going to go down the drain.

Easy tips, the more of these you are able to add as part of your active recovery the more productive your workouts are going to be week in and week out. 

How do you like to relax after a hard week's training?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Time for Some Super Pizza

Ever since I was a young boy I have been getting home made pizza every single Friday night.  This was until I moved out to go to University; where, obviously I ate pizza much more often than that!   Although it was not home made and not quite up to the calibre that I used to enjoy at home.  Now that I am totally out of the nest with my beautiful fiance (I'm pretty sure she might one day read this BLOG), we have also taken up the tradition of creating our own pizza masterpieces every Friday night when we get home from work and sit down to watch a movie or another couple episodes of 'Allo Allo' on DVD.  A nice little tradition that I am sure will be continued for some time to come!

image found here

Now to the nitty-gritty... This pizza is simple and I originally found the recipe for the dough here.  It takes an hour and a half until the dough is ready.  After that, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and begin the preparation of the goodies to throw on to the pizza! You spread out the dough on a circular cookie sheet for 8 massive pieces or use a large cookie sheet and you can get 15 nicely sized rectangular pieces.  As an added bonus: you now have several future meals taken care of [or two if you are like my fiance and I].

I usually like to use tomato sauce as the base of the pizza, but sometimes I like to spice it up with a little salsa.  I will throw on some oregano and crushed garlic into the tomato sauce so it smells extra delicious when it goes in to the oven.  I then place a layer of fresh uncooked spinach on to the tomato sauce to help bump up the nutritional punch.

As for toppings: I like to fry up some cubed pieces of two chicken breasts along with an onion and a handful of mushrooms.  Make sure that the chicken is not overcooked or it will become dry when it is baked in the oven.  Fry the onions in some oil with the mushrooms until they caramelize and then throw them all on the pizza with some sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes and cover them all in mozzarella cheese which is covered in parmesan.

Oh I can taste it now! When the oven has heated up, toss in the pizza, it should approximately 20 minutes to bake.  I like the cheese to be slightly browning with the crust nice and soft, a delectable combination!  Now, the beauty of pizza is that there are millions of combinations, the only complication is going to be deciding what movie to watch  and what type of wine will you be enjoying with it?

Bon Appetit!

image found here

Here is the nutritional information for the entire pizza: so you can divide the totals by however many slices you have chopped the pizza into.

superpizza nutritional info

Monday, August 18, 2008

Let's Get Motivated to be Bored

Now that I have begun a consistent cardio routine in order to get in shape for honeymoon time; I already find myself incredibly bored with it.  In order to crank up the effectiveness and efficiency of it all I have begun doing a nice light cardio session (ride the recumbent bike or light jog in the morning as soon as I wake up on an empty stomach. Weight training is done on it's  own in one session around noon at work (luckily I work at a hospital and school) followed by another cardio session before I go to bed (bike or jog [opposite activity that was done in the morning]).  I am only one day into it all but already I am feeling the intense boredom associated with cardio.  I could weight train all day, I love, it seems so much more manly.  But cardio is so mindless, so repetitive and also no fun!  It is all mental...and unfortunately it can make or break your physique [depending on how tight your diet is].  Since I enjoy eating too much to count calories and all that junk, cardio will have to suffice.  Hopefully I can make through the next 6 weeks because I know that it will be worth it. Not only due to the improved body look of less body fat and visible muscles; but I expect to feel better, healthier and be more full of energy.  Now, time to stop typing and get er' done!  Luckily, the Olympics are on; and seeing the best athletes on the planet every day is helping me get my butt off the couch [at least for the next 5 days].

How do you stay motivated on the cardio equipment when the head and body both say "Go home!"

image found here

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pre Wedding/Hawaiian Honeymoon Weight Training Routine

Right now, I have put trying to attain strength gains from weight training on the back burner as I attempt to get into the best shape I've been in for quite some time. I am currently using a bodybuilding style of weight training and am basically training by instinct. By that, I mean that the exercises that I perform on any given day depends mostly on how I feel, what is or isn't sore and on the equipment available. I plan out my first couple of exercises and then wing it from then on and try to get as much as I can get done in as little time as possible. I try to get as good a pump ("The Pump"- explained here by Arnold) as possible without sitting around and picking my nose. Since the weight is not that heavy, the reps are little higher and the rest periods are also quite low (45-60 seconds).

Currently my split has a tendency to look like this:

Day 1: Chest, Triceps, Abs, Cardio

Day 2: Back, BicepsCardio

Day 3: Rest/Cardio

Day 4: Shoulders, Traps, Cardio

Day 5: Legs, No Cardio

Day6: Rest/Cardio

Day 7: Repeat Cycle

Flat Press (DB or BB)38-12
Incline Press (DB or BB)38-12
Dips or Decline Press312-20
Cable Pressdowns312-20
French Press310-12
Overhead Extensions (DB or BB312-15
Wide Grip Pull Ups or Pull downs315-20
BB Rows38-12
Close Grip Pull Ups or Pull Downs312-15
DB Rows 310-12
Deadlifts 312-6
Cable Rows312-15
BB or DB Curl310-12
Preacher Curl312-15
Hammer Curl310-12
Overhead Press (DB or BB)412-6
Seated Lateral Raises315-20
Bent Raises312-15
DB Shrugs315-20
Leg Extensions320+
Front or Back Squats412-8
Leg Press320+
Stiff Legged Deadlift315-20
Hamstring Curls312-15
Standing Calf Raise310-12
Seated Calf Raise320+

I Know that it looks like a lot [for legs and back]; but if I rest minimally my workouts never last any longer than 60 minutes and I'm usually sweating like a pig and am totally exhausted by the end. So far it is working quite well, one great thing about decreasing the weight and checking my ego at the door (as opposed to when I was a younger buck) I have avoided suffering any injuries over the last year (the first year since I began training by the way) and have been making fairly steady progress all year long!

How much does your training environment influence your exercise choices and workout intensity?

Friday, August 15, 2008

I Wish I Could Eat Like Michael Phelps

Pic found here

Well, it looks like I have found my new role model..Michael Phelps! And not because he has the most Olympic gold medals of any athlete ever. Not because he has a multi million dollar contract with Speedo (although a lifetime supply of Speedos would be nice[if my fiance were editor, I am sure she would disagree and say that a lifetime supply of Speedos would no be nice!]), or that he has a sweet Escalade with an XBOX 360. No, it is because he gets to eat upwards of 12, 000 calories a day! Not the recommended 2000 with an emphasis on 5-12 servings of fruits and vegetables or 5-10 servings of whole grain products. I am talking 12,000 calories of white bread, pasta, pizza, mayo, energy drinks, and whatever else he can probably get his hands on. Needless to say in order to be able to take in this amount of grub on a daily basis you not only have to train like a top tier, world class athlete and that involves non-stop training. Although I have heard that Phelps has not been much of a weight trainer and all his results come from simply being in the pool (or perhaps there is some tuna fish in his gene pool), a great rarity nowadays in these days of stringent sports all around training protocols. But I digress (or should say digest) by looking at such a fantastic athlete, who basically just throws whatever he can down his gullet; it begs the question...what is more important 1)super intense training with ridiculous caloric intake that has no regard for nutrient density (although he did claim to take a multi-vitamin) or 2) Intense training with a carefully planned diet that may have fewer calories but more nutrients/calorie? I think that the results speak for themselves.

source of image

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Who Needs to Diet!

So, apparently I have a wedding coming up and also quite importantly...a honeymoon on the beaches of Hawaii. I usually consider myself quite fit and strong but my love of eating almost everything in sight usually results in me being significantly less ripped than most people who grace the cover of grocery checkout magazines. In fact, every year since high school I have consistently put on 20lbs for the winter. Luckily, I promptly lose it when summer time comes around and I get to go outside again without having to hide from the rain or snow.

I do however tend to do significantly more cardio in the summer time, as most people do, running, biking and playing whatever pick-up sport I can get in to. While the winter is spent toiling away in the gym lifting heavy weights with minimal cardio and endless food. There is no denying the correlation between the best eating holidays of the year (Christmas, Thanksgiving, even Easter!) and the increased weight gain that accompanies them.

This year is going to be a little trickier, I am going to have to put off my usual weight gain a little longer (before married life sets in; although it is my goal to avoid the post-marital beer gut) and keep myself in the best shape for surfing and everything else that goes along with a honeymoon (that's right....taking pictures at the beach).

image source here

So far so good, this March I was sitting at about 205lbs (I am 5'11'') and am currently 185lbs give or take a burp. And it has all been relatively simple: I have kept weight training, increased my cardio slightly and my diet has barely changed at all. I still enjoy drinking beer and wine and going out for food as often as I can afford.

Stay tuned for the finer details regarding my actual weight training routine as well as my simple cardio and eating tips that make staying in shape quite easy.

How did you get in summer shape?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Slurpees? Really? That's Cool...

(image source here)

So I am happy to say that I live in the Slurpee capital of the world...Winnipeg.  Not that I have anything against this place (I love sunshine! And having snow for 6 months out of the year makes for a good healthy dose of reality).

I remember my friend telling me "hey man, Winnipeg, Slurpee capital of the world!" and saying "oh, that's cool, hah" and then thinking nothing of it.  But then I started noticing how much of this nuclear sweet goo my fellow Winnipeggers were actually drinking.  I would be walking home from a long day at school in the middle of January, wearing two pairs of pants, toque, two pairs of gloves, three shirts and a winter coat ( as a minimum, but I digress), then, I would see some high-schooler walking by me holding a giant ice cold slurpee in his bare hands!  Now, perhaps I'm just a big wuss when it comes to temperatures lower than minus forty degrees (celcius), but seriously, talk about dedication!  This city takes a large amount of pride in this triumph...and I wish them well. 

Unfortunately, the percentage of Manitobans who are over weight or obese is among the highest in Canada and a trip to any local mall will prove that they seem bent on catching up to our neighbours down south.  Coincidence? I think not.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Multivitamin Q & A at

A few months ago I did a question and answer segment on one of the web's most popular wedding planning sites, My fiancĂ© is a blogger there, and as per her request, I answered some questions the "bees" had about premarital health and fitness. The answers were targeted at brides, but are easily applicable to people of all genders. Because there were so many different questions, I chose to begin at the beginning - with the body’s building blocks - VITAMINS!

(reproduced from here)

jfs asks:

I’m trying to be more proactive about my vitamin supplements. I take the one a day plus prenatal and I thought I was doing fine until I read an article on Hillary Swank and she takes 45 plus vitamins a day! Call me crazy but is that a little excessive? Here is the link.Anyway- are brainwave, flax, aloe c ect worth looking into? Some of these supplements cost a fortune and I’m wondering if they are worth it. Thanks so much!

Patty asks:
I’ve been thinking lately of taking vitamin supplements. I know fruits and vegetables are instead the best way to get your nutrients, but let’s be honest I just don’t get 5/day. My skin is also prone to breaking out and I read somewhere that some vitamins can help clear it up. What you recommend a female age 27 who’s never taken vitamins before start with?

Well, you first have to understand that there are more ingredients that are important to our health in food (gasp) than any multivitamin or supplement could ever hope to contain! So unless you have numerous allergies or anything that requires you to limit your food intake (crash diets don’t count), food always comes first - don’t replace food with pills!

(homemade pizza has lots of vitamins. And cheese.)

Having said that, I do recommend that all bees should take a comprehensive multi-vitamin/multi-mineral complex - regardless of whether or not you are planning to get preggers any time soon. Make sure that the multi-vitamin you choose has at least 1 milligram (1000 micrograms) of folic acid to help prevent neural tube defects.
The best route is actually to find a really good prenatal multi-vitamin - then you get the added benefits of super shiny hair (this is according to Miss Shortcake, who does not have any degrees in anything food related, but does have way too many hair products)!


1 - Buy capsules, they are easier to take and might be better absorbed than some of the larger tablets
2 - Take a look at the non-medicinal ingredients - if the list of additives is longer than the list of vitamins and minerals ( ex. titanium dioxide -a possible carcinogen, red and yellow dyes, etc) DONT BUY THEM!

This usually happens in generic and no-name brands of multi-vitamins. Why would you want to add all of that extra junk to your body? Kind of defeats the purpose of trying to improve your health… hmmmm? (my miss would like to add that she bought a generic prenatal multi once and it listed SHELLAC as the coating! WTF!)

3 - Beware of multis that claim to be superior because of their added herbs, phytochemicals, CoQ10 or amino acids. While these ingredients may be good on their own, in a multi they are in such small doses that you get minimal benefits from the extra ingredients and maximum wallet drainage!


If it smells fishy and tastes bad, it’s probably omega 3, and that EPA and DHA is liquid marine love for your body. These supplements help with inflammation, improve heart health, and have many other benefits that I do not have room for here, but you can read about here. If you are pregnant, breast feeding, or thinking about getting pregnant, make sure you are taking extra DHA to help with the baby’s brain development so that you’re more likely to produce a young Einstein!

Make sure that your supplement is made by a high quality company that does ‘third party testing’ so that you are sure to get a pure product free of mercury or dioxins. Make sure that they are from wild fish as well. Liquid or pills, it’s really your preference.

If you find that you are consuming too few calories or do not drink dairy due to allergies, make sure you are taking an extra Calcium, magnesium and vitamin D supplement (they are usually all together), liquid forms are easiest to take, don’t take more than 500mg of calcium in one serving or you will be peeing out the rest!

( take your vitamins like theoddbod and then you too can provide structural support to crumbling ruins in a pinch!)

What vitamins and supplements do you take?


photo credit here:

What is the most intense weight lifting technique? Which exercise, that is a must in your routine, makes you go into each workout dreading those grueling several sets almost enough to make you not go to the gym in the first place!

For myself it is the deadlift. The straight up and down deadlift. The most neanderthal-like lift of them all! All you have to do is bend over and pick up the heaviest weight that you can muster for a few measly reps! And if you are doing them properly you are most likely going to end up with bloody shins at the end of the workout.

If you use straps you are missing out on some great forearm development, but the load that your legs and back can tolerate is going to overpower your forearms everytime. Chalk helps, but it is not always available in many gyms; especially those lousy classy ones with carpet on the floor! Plus, if the knurling is any good on the bar it will probably tear the skin right off of your hands as the reps accumulate and the poundages increase. If you choose to use a belt make sure that you are not using it all the time as it may turn into a crutch.

So yes the lift is mindless, it doesn't make you pretty and your significant other will probably complain about your massive calluses, but that's not why you do deadlifts...

You do them because they are the most ancient on all lifts, it was the first lift ever to be done and it is the most basic and functionally useful lift of them all. They might not make your biceps peak, chest explode or get you more noticed at the beach. But if you put in the time and effort into this lift, grind away week after week, you will no doubt see marked improvements in all of your lower and upper body exercises as well as your overall explosive power!

I have experimented with various rep schemes doing deadlifts; all the way from several sets of singles all the way up to 20 plus reps, lately I have found that you can get just as much done with 5 reps than with any amount of reps higher than that. I find that five is a nice efficient round number and very easy to get psyched up for. Pyramid up in weight for about 5 or 6 sets always sticking with 5 reps, this is great for both strength and bodybuilding. But hey, if your feeling up to it, be like Ronnie and pull a double or single on your last set to really build up your strength, along with your ego!

I won't bore you with the technique details, because there are tonnes of websites and books detailing the technique in plenty of detail. The best things to remember is to keep that bar along your body throught the entire lift, arms straight, lift with your legs and control the rep on the way down so that you don't bounce the weight off of the ground between reps. This should help keep the lift as safe as possible

The reps may come grudgingly and painfully slow at times, but don't quit your sets until you get your 5 reps, so pick your weight carefully and keep the form tight with your lower back arched through all of your reps.

Here is how not to do the lift:

In the end you may have a love-hate relationship with this lift, so learn to love the pain and make it the cornerstone of your routine!

What is the most intense part of your routine?

(not your average) small fry

Part of my job as a fiancé has turned out to be cooking more than my share of the meals in our house. Fortunately, I enjoy cooking! Here is a tasty recipe for a side dish that can be added to any high protein meal like chicken, steak or fish - I call them "yam fries," but they would be better titled "thebestdamfriesyou'veeverhadinyourlife."

(image source here)

Everyone likes fries, but they don't like the highly hydrogenated oil, fat and starchiness that is usually associated with eating them. Even if you make them at home and bake them, they aren't going to pack a very nutritious punch. If you want to 'up the ante' and get more nutritional 'bang for your buck,' opt for some sweet potatoes; they're loaded with the immune system boosters vitamin A (as Beta-Carotene) and vitamin C. They're also high in manganese, vitamin B6 and are a good source of fibre. They also have a lower Glycemic Index rating than regular potatoes so your blood sugar won't rise and fall as quickly. So they keep you fuller, longer and are far better if you're looking to take part in any physical activity later where you don't want your energy to fall off too soon.


  • super big ass sweet potatos
  • himalayan salt or sea salt
  • cajun spice
  • olive oil


  1. turn the over on to 350 F/175 C
  2. drizzle a baking sheet with olive oil
  3. wash the yams
  4. peel the yams if they're not organic
  5. chop your sweet potato in half, then again
  6. chop those quarters into strips
  7. sprinkle sea salt/or himalayan salt and cajun spices over those bad boys
  8. scatter them on the baking sheet and drizzle more olive oil over them, tossing them to coat thoroughly
  9. cook them on the middle rack for approximately 35 minutes.

Be careful - you don't want to cook them too hot or too quickly because they can burn quite easily. If cooked properly they'll get nice and crispy on the outside and will be bursting with colour and flavour on the inside. NOTE: the cooking time could vary depending how thick your fries were cut.

You won't even need ketchup with them (which is good if you're watching your sugar intake) because they're far more flavourful than any regular small fry!