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Denver Matheson

Author Archives: Denver Matheson

I spend a lot of time at the gym and even more time in the kitchen giving my body what it needs to repair itself and grow stronger. The third most important place for any athlete is their research zone. That's exactly why this site exists, to help me share all of the information I've learned throughout the years just like people did for me in the first place!

Military Fitness: How To Train Like A Navy SEAL

For anybody who can handle intense fitness regimens, military fitness training is the best way to take your workouts to the next level--but be warned, this is no cakewalk and there are no shortcuts.

Most of the workout guides in our everyday lifestyles are more so reminders on how to get your bodies in shape.

There is the assumption that your lifestyle before your fitness journey is one that requires assistance in disciplining your mind, correcting your lifestyle, changing your diet and trying out new things pertaining to fitness.

However, when it comes to learning how to train like a Navy SEAL, these things should already be in force. You should already know how to turn your mind on and off towards working out, you should already be living a lifestyle that prioritizes fitness and top notch health, your diet should already be habitual and you should already know how to do most workout routines.

The reason that you’re reading this article in the first place is because you’re looking for that challenge that truly tests your limits.

Sure, you’re comfortable with getting a sweat on and you’re used to hashing out some corrective reps after indulging in that once every week mega meal to get back on track, but you want more. 

In this article, I will take you to the grind. I will walk you through the military fitness training program so that you can train just like the big guys in our Navy.

If you want to get results fast, look no further, but be prepared because your limits will be tested to the fullest, and even more. 

What Are Navy SEALs?

Navy SEAL

Short for Sea, Air and Land, SEAL teams are the US Navy’s primary special operations force that are tasked with missions that are separate from other departments of the US Army, such as: capturing high level targets, eliminating high threat persons or gathering intelligence behind enemy lines without the enemy knowing.

Members in SEAL are seldom shown to the public and their missions are never publicized due to American safety and security, however, their presence is still very much there in society.

Some of the latest SEAL successes you would have heard of today are from their military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the middle east.

Given their covert operations and generally high intensity missions, you can imagine why SEALs have such strict and intensive workouts that require peak performance every time.

Many SEAL missions require various combinations of speed, strength, stealth, endurance and of course, a sharp mind, so lots of these workouts test each one of these, often together. 

Because the battlefield is so rigorous for a Navy SEAL, they have to be at their top level at all times. Let’s take a look at how to train like a Navy SEAL. Here are some of their workouts.

Battlefield Speed

When it comes to speed, SEALs are at their peak because they have to be able to travel quickly to avoid compromising their missions--they often have to travel in groups, so they cannot afford to fall behind.

When it comes to combat, speed is a hugely important quality because you want to be able to deliver more strikes than your enemy.

Battlefield Speed

Even further to that, the faster you strike, the less time your opponent will have to react, and you will have an even greater window to land your next blow to a vulnerable and open side. 

Here are some speed workouts for Navy SEALs. The key idea here is to do each rep at the same rhythm and to not take breaks before the allowed rest time.

Shadow Boxing with Weighted Fists

  1. Wear weights on your fists or wrists (for example, 20 ounce boxing gloves or wrist braces)
  2. Consistently punch the air with both fists at a stable rhythm nonstop for 2 minutes
  3. Rest for 30 seconds
  4. Repeat for 3 sets

Weighted Kickboxing

  1. Wear weights on your ankles on heavy shoes (for example, ankle weights or weighted shoes)
  2. Do low, medium and high side kicks with one leg for 15 reps
  3. Switch legs and repeat
  4. Rest for 30 seconds
  5. Repeat for 4 sets

For this workout, you can also change the type of kick you are doing.

Plyometric Pushups

  1. Get into pushup position
  2. As you push up, do so with enough force that your hands leave the ground, clap and then return to pushup position all in one motion, and land lightly
  3. Do one rep, rest for 3 seconds
  4. Do two reps, rest for 3 seconds
  5. Do 3 reps, rest for 3 seconds
  6. Continue until 10 reps
  7. Rest for 30 seconds
  8. Start at 10 reps, then work down back to one rep, with rests in between

Combat Power

Combat Power

When it comes to strength, SEALs are often put in situations where they have to rely on themselves alone, so they have to be able to get themselves out of positions on their own.

Power is what makes combat strikes dangerous--they can break jaws, bones and knock dangerous opponents out, all of which can be integral for life and death situations. 

Here are some power workouts that SEALs are experts at. The key idea here is to be consistent in your rhythm and to not shy away from your weights. Push yourself to your limit.

Heavy Bag Alternating Hooks

  1. Perform alternating hooks to your heavy punching bag nonstop for 3 minutes
  2. Rest for 30 seconds
  3. Continue for 3 sets

For this exercise, you can also change the type of punch. However, the focus here is force and power as opposed to speed.

Squat & Deadlift Superset

  1. Perform squats and deadlifts with heavy weights according to your strength
  2. Do maximum rep squats for 3 minutes with the weight
  3. Rest for 1 minute
  4. Do maximum rep deadlifts for 3 minutes
  5. Rest for 1 minute
  6. Repeat for 3 sets

For this exercise, you can also set a number of reps, but then add 3 to it each set. For example, for set 1, you can perform 20 squats and 20 deadlifts, however for set 2, you will perform 23 squats and deadlifts, and then 26 for set 3.

Extended Standing Plate Rotations

  1. Stand straight with feet shoulder width apart, holding the plate with bent arms at chest level
  2. Rotate torso sideways, alternating with each side while arms, feet and hips remain at the same place
  3. Perform plate rotations for 40 reps
  4. Repeat for 5 sets

Stealth & Endurance

SEAL missions are covert, so a great amount of stealth is required, which is achieved by proper form, consistency and flawless technique.

Endurance is so important to SEALs because they will endure a lot of hits, impacts and knockdowns--after all, getting back up after being knocked down is what true strength is. The idea here is to extend our maximum effort.

Stealth & Endurance

Here are some endurance and stealth training that SEALs are experts at. While you can’t practice stealth, good technique, lightness and precise movement is really what to focus on.

Sprints and Heavy Bag Superset

  1. Sprint 100 meters
  2. Heavy bag for 1 minute with speed punches
  3. Rest for 30 seconds
  4. Repeat for 5 sets

For this exercise, you can also switch for power punches instead of speed punches.

Shadow Box and Stair Climb Superset

  1. Shadow box for 3 minutes
  2. Sprint up and down 1 flight of stairs
  3. Repeat for 5 sets

For this exercise, you can also use a stair climber if you have one--be sure to aim for quickness and lightness on the stairs or stair climbs.

Jump Rope and Speed Bag Superset

  1. Jump rope for 100 reps
  2. Speed bag for 2 minutes
  3. Rest for 30 seconds
  4. Repeat for 5 sets

Conclusion

Military fitness training requires you to have a sharp mind, impeccable technique and form, laser sharp precision and relentless consistency. 

Each one of these exercises require a combination of speed, strength, endurance and a disciplined mind that is motivated to not quit and to perform at your best, without cutting any corners, taking any shortcuts or giving anything less than 100%.

If you are performing the weighted shadow boxing, kickboxing or plyometric pushups to enhance your speed, if you are focusing on the heavy bag alternating hooks, squat and deadlift superset or extended standing plate rotations for strength, or if you are working on the sprints and heavy bag superset, shadowbox and stair climb superset or jump rope and speed bag superset for endurance, any kind of military fitness training program will have you aiming for your best every time.

These exercises are a close glimpse at the types of fitness regimens that Navy SEALs undergo every day--after all, they would not be SEALs if these workouts were not as long, gruesome and testing as they are currently.

However, all of these workouts have proven to be significantly results oriented and their success rates are high.

Whatever your fitness goals are, learning how to train like a Navy SEAL is a great way to ensure that you are redefining your goals and matching them every time.

I hope that these exercises are great additions to your current workout routine. Enjoy the grind--you got this!  

Concept 2 Bike Review

Concept 2 Bike Review

In your home gym lacking in the cardio training department?

Lifting weights and getting strong is integral to staying in shape, but no fitness program is complete without cardio training.

Heart health is important when you are examining your overall fitness, and directly translates to how effectively you can perform daily tasks like climbing stairs or keeping up with your friends on the basketball court.

A great way to incorporate more cardio training into your workout routine is by investing in a stationary bike.

Stationary bikes are compact, versatile, and durable, making them suited to challenge your endurance and get your heart rate in a variety of workout styles. 

Today, I am going to share with you one of my favorite stationary bikes, the Concept 2 BikeErg, and let you know exactly how the BikeErg can bring your training to the next level.

What is the Concept 2 BikeErg?

You might already be familiar with the training equipment company Concept 2 for their world renowned rower design.

The Concept 2 BikeErg predecessor, the Concept 2 RowErg, is the most popular rower used worldwide for indoor training.

These rowing machines are trusted by CrossFit enthusiasts and Olympic, high level athletes for their durability and effective design.

Now meet the Concept 2 BikeErg, essentially the stationary bike version of this famous rower.

In fact, the BikeErg uses the same technology as the rower as they both use a Flywheel (the fan-like piece of equipment near the front of the bike) to get resistance from air. 

The use of this Flywheel makes the BikeErg almost like an air bike, but without the arm handles.

However, the BikeErg sets itself apart from a typical air bike by also featuring a damper control that allows you to change the amount of airflow moving through the BikeErg’s Flywheel and gives users the ability to fully control the level of resistance on their side. 

If you explore their online website, you will notice that Concept 2 only offers a handful of training products. This is what I respect about Concept 2; they do one thing, and they do it well.

So, you can imagine my excitement when I heard that they were introducing a stationary bike to their product line, and that the Concept 2 BikeErg, in my experience, lives up to Concept 2’s esteemed reputation.  

What makes the Concept 2 Bikeerg an Excellent Stationary Bike?

When I review a stationary bike, I look at the following features: quality of the ride, its tech and workout feedback features, and its durability. When I took the Concept 2 Bikeerg for a spin in my home gym, here is what I discovered:

#1. Ride Quality

If I had to pick one word to describe my experience on the Concept 2 BikeErg, I would say smooth.

The Concept 2 BikeErg provides riders with a continuous riding experience that responds quickly to your changes in pace and resistance.

This is supported by the aforementioned Flywheel design, that ergonomically uses airflow technology to mimic the experience and ease of pedaling and changing gears on the real bike.  

The Concept 2 Bikeerg is also conveniently customizable to enhance your ride experience. The saddle and handlebars on this stationary bike are easily adjustable, allowing you to quickly get into your prime position for a comfortable workout. 

As well, the Concept 2 BikeErg is compatible with popular bike parts, so go ahead and switch in your favorite bike saddle, handlebars, or pedals to make this bike your own.

This customizable quality also makes the Concept 2 BikeErg an excellent choice for serious bikers who want to bring their outdoor training indoors during their off-season or winter months. 

#2. Workout Feedback and Tech Integration

My experience with the tech features on the Concept 2 BikeErg was comparable, if not superior, to other high quality cardio trainers I have tried out. 

The Concept 2 BikeErg comes fully integrated with Concept 2’s most advanced workout monitoring system.

When you hop on to the bike and begin to ride, the BikeErg enters “Just Ride” mode that automatically begins your workout.

Right away, the PM5 monitor begins to track your pace, watts, RPM, and calories burned to keep you motivated during your training session. 

This information is vital for athletes who are training in high intensity intervals, for calories burned, or trying to challenge themselves further with each workout to really see results.

To help track your progress, the BikeErg stores that data from your workout into its memory, and you can upload your workout specs from the BikeErg to your computer via USB.

As well, the Concept 2 BikeErg comes with a smartphone cradle that you can attach on top of the stationary bike’s PM5 monitor to enhance its tech capabilities.

You can place your phone in this cradle to view it during the workout, and can also connect your phone to the BikeErg using Bluetooth.

I found this particularly useful because I was able to connect my present workout to the Concept 2 Erg Data app I downloaded to track my workouts, and I also had the option to connect the BikeErg to other popular third party fitness Apps I use to store and analyze my workout data.   

#3. Durability

The first thing I need to mention is that the Concept 2 BikeErg is lighter than your average stationary bike, weighing in at an easy to move 68lbs (while still being able to safely accommodate riders up to 300lbs). 

I will admit that this initially worried me; there is nothing worse than a stationary bike that precariously shakes and tremors underneath you as you are pushing yourself hard in those final 30 seconds of your ride. 

However, I soon discovered on my first ride that Concept 2 has intelligently designed a lightweight bike with tremendous durability and stability. On the Concept 2 Bikeerg, I felt secure and was easily able to push myself to my limits while still enjoying a smooth ride.

Finally, to cycle its pedals, the BikeErg uses something called polygroove belts. Polygroove belts are superior to a traditional chain that turns the bike pedals because they offer a much quieter ride and are less likely to break down and require maintenance.  

Concept 2 Bikeerg: Sizing and Specifications

While Concept 2 training equipment is popular in commercial gyms and public spaces because of how durable and versatile they are, the sizing and specs of the Concept 2 BikeErg also make it the perfect choice for your home gym.

To add the Concept 2 BikeErg to your home gym, you will want to be able to accommodate a 48 inch x 24 inch space for this stationary bike.

This makes the BikeErg a more space efficient choice in comparison to other cardio training machines like treadmills or ellipticals, that generally take up more space. 

Another convenient feature of the Concept 2 BikeErg when it comes to including this stationary bike to your home gym is that it runs on battery, so you do not need to ensure it is placed near a power source or wall outlet.

The BikeErg takes two D Cell batteries, and it saves battery power on its own by using the energy generated by the Flywheel to power its monitor while you ride. 

In terms of build, the Concept 2 BikeErg features an aluminum frame and steel base to make a stationary bike that is equally stable and mobile.

This makes the BikeErg a solid choice for individuals who want to train for long distance biking, or hop on and off as part of the high intensity interval workout or METCON (metabolic conditioning) workout. 

Keep in mind as well that you need to self assemble the Concept 2 BikeErg when you purchase one. The BikeErgs shipping weight is 80lbs, so keep that in consideration when you are adding it to your home gym as well.

If you are concerned about the need to assemble the Concept 2 BikeErg on your own, let me assure you that this stationary bike comes with an easy to read assembly manual with plenty of clearly defined images that I found made putting together the BikeErg a pain-free task. 

Where to Buy the Concept 2 BikeErg

I purchased my Concept 2 BikeErg from Rogue Fitness' website.

By doing this, I now benefit from a limited 2 year and 5 year warranty as reassurance  if I do notice any issues with my BikeErg, although I can’t imagine needing to use it considering the reputation Concept 2 has in the quality department.

Since I did spend $990 on this stationary bike, it was nice to know that I had the option to change my mind within 30 days, but as you can probably guess, I never did.

The BikeErg continues to be one of the most used cardio training equipment in my home gym. 

My Final Pros and Cons List for the Concept 2 BikeErg

Here is my overall Concept 2 BikeErg review:

Pros

  • Innovative Flywheel technology that offers a continuous smooth ride and resistance to enhance workout difficulty
  • High quality and durable design
  • Suitable for cyclists wanting to train indoors, CrossFit athletes, or individuals looking to add more cardio training into their workouts
  • Perfect for smaller home gyms with compact and lightweight design
  • Immediate and accurate workout feedback to track your intensity and progress
  • Customizable with your favourite bike seat, handlebars, or pedals
  • Quiet polygroove belts to turn pedals are a step above regular chain systems 

Cons

  • No water bottle holder
  • Not as large a range for forward and backward seat adjustment as other stationary bikes

Overall, the Concept 2 BikeErg is a high quality choice for any person in the market for a stationary bike to enhance their workout routine.

The BikeErg has the comfort, customization options, and durability of a commercial gym product, but it is light and compact enough to suit your home gym perfectly. 

Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Dumbbells Review

New gym equipment is always exciting and can be a big boost to your motivation to get started or keep staying on track.

I love getting new equipment whether it’s some new gym clothes, gloves, shoes, or some new equipment because it motivates me to make the most out of my newest purchase.

Today’s piece of equipment is a very fancy set of dumbbells from Bowflex that will help your speed through your workouts without wasting time on selecting and changing weights. 

Today’s review is covering the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Dumbbells, the big brother to Bowflex’s flagship and best-selling SelectTech 552 dumbbells. When these dumbbells first arrived on the scene they were revolutionary and provided something never before seen on the market.

Today, there are a few major competitors to the SelectTech style of dumbbells which include Powerblocks and IronMaster dumbbells. These types of dumbbells are very attractive to the home gym builder and are extremely useful for saving time and space.

What are SelectTech Dumbells?

These dumbbells are specifically designed to clear your workout space and be rid of all the extra weights lying around. Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells can replace the equivalent of 34 dumbbells, saving a ton of space.

The patented SelectTech weight adjustment on either side of the dumbbell can be rotated in the base to select the desired amount of weight for each side. The weight can be adjusted in 5lb increments so that you can increase your weight as you build your strength. 

SelectTech Dumbbells come in 2 different options, the flagship 552 dumbbells which range from 5lbs - 52lbs, and the SelectTech 1090 dumbbells which range from 10lbs - 90lbs.

The smaller size is great for those looking to get into weight lifting and are low on space. The SelectTech 1090s however are made and designed for serious lifters. The range of weight available on these weights is quite high and will only be maxed out by the most dedicated and strongest of lifters. 

Why Should You Buy the SelectTech Series Dumbbells?

For those who are extra serious about fitness and exercise and want to maximize their gains, the SelectTech dumbbells are the perfect choice for achieving those goals.

These dumbbells provide a few extra benefits over traditional weights that make them hard to get rid of once you get accustomed. 

Space Saver

As previously mentioned, these dumbbells are enormous space savers.

Those who are locked up in tiny apartments or small home gyms can rejoice and celebrate as these dumbbells are the ultimate solution to not having the space for proper equipment.

The 552s can replace 15 sets of dumbbells and the 1090s can replace 17.

That’s an enormous amount of weight and space you can allocate to other resources now. 

Wider Weight Range

In comparison to the 552s, the 1090s are able to hold almost twice the weight. This is a significant step up in weight and is very much a serious purchase for the more dedicated lifters.

The increased weight range means that the weights will keep up with you as your gains increase too.

No more changing and buying extra weights once you reach a new strength level. Now the solution is as simple as turning a tumbler on either side of the dumbbell and getting back to work.

This is a very welcome upgrade as the 552 dumbbells are fantastic but fall short in weight for a couple of key exercises I would like to perform using them. With the 1090s I don’t need to worry as much about outgrowing the weights and not finding them effective anymore. 

Silent Workouts

Each individual weight plate is coated in a durable molding that provides a smooth selection action and no clanging plates.

For some the sound of clanging plates is cathartic and the sound of iron being pumped can be very motivational. For others, especially those in home gyms, silence may be more appreciated and the coating on the weights does exactly that. 

True Efficiency

I’ve seen many people loafting around in the gym while looking around and picking out the appropriate weight for their exercise.

This is an incredible waste of time, energy, and potential.

For one, nobody wants to spend all day at the gym, the quicker you finish, the quicker you go home.

Time does not equal gains and efficiency matters a lot more than time spent at the gym.

Somebody pushing themselves to the limit for 30 min with short breaks in between sets will see drastically greater results than somebody who spends an hour lifting weights but changes their song and weights for 2 min between sets. 

Secondly, when exercising and getting your heart rate up after an intense set only to cool down while looking for weight for your next lift is counterproductive to making maximum gains. Maximum fat burn and muscle gain happen when we push ourselves and our hearts as much as we can. 

Being able to rapidly select your weight and pump out sets will yield greater gains from your routine than you could have possibly expected.

Shortening the break between sets will also liken the workout to a HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) session which yields better results in fat burn and muscle gain than standard routines do. 

Comparing the SelectTech 552s and the 1090s


SelectTech 552

SelectTech 1090

Weight Range

5lbs - 52 lbs

10lbs - 90 lbs

Weight Settings

5, 7.5, 10, 12.5, 15, 17.5, 20, 22.5, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 52.5 lbs

10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 85, 90 lbs

App Included

Yes

Yes

Dimensions w/ stand

16.9” L x 8.3” W x 9” H (each)

17.5” L x 9.5” W x 10” H (each)

Warranty

2 years

3 years

Price

$399

$799

The Good, The Bad, And The Odd In Using The 1090 SelectTech Dumbbells

When you buy a Bowflex product you can expect a couple of things.

You can expect to receive a quality, well-polished and elegant product that is also uniquely designed for maximum results.

All of Bowflex’s products have a particular design variation that makes them superior to the standard version in some sense.

In the case of the 1090 dumbbells, that design is the tumblers on the ends of the dumbbells for selecting the weight.

This ingenious design is what allows such a quick and efficient selection of a large variety of weights.

 Out of all the weight selection dumbbells, this weight selection system is the easiest and quickest making it the biggest selling point of these weights.

As mentioned before, the individual weights are actually steel plates coated in plastic. This plastic coating allows the weights to slide and move past each other freely.

This is a wonderful feature, however, it is also one of the dumbbell’s bigger downsides. Bowflex makes it a key point to stress several times, “DO NOT DROP THE WEIGHTS”.

This is due to the fact that dropping the weights can cause not only the fragile plastic coating to crack but could also irreparably damage the tumbler weight selection mechanism. 

A lot of problems arise because of the fragile nature of the plastic and the adjustment mechanism. Heavy steel weights and plastic are never a good combination, especially under impact forces.

This is why Bowflex stresses not to drop the weights, the plastic notches can deform and the latching mechanisms may no longer work properly or be secured. Unfortunately, Bowflex does not provide a warranty on dropped equipment, including the adjustment mechanism.

This can be a sore spot for a lot of people as the weights are fairly delicate and can’t be treated the same as traditional weights. Easily forgetting this detail, many people have forgotten and accidentally dropped the weight only to cause irreparable damage to the selection tumbler leaving the dumbbells unusable. 

Due to the design of these dumbbells, the handles tend to be a little bit longer than standard.

This fact is easily overlooked but can be a significant hurdle to overcome when adjusting to the weights.

The handles are 17.5” long because the selection system runs the length of the handle. 

Problems start to occur when performing certain exercises such as a dumbbell press for example, and the dumbbells clash before the rep is complete.

Another example of this would be when performing dumbbell curls and the long weight handles can strike or snag at the body or clothing towards the bottom of the rep.

While the handle length is an odd thing to get used to, it is possible to do so but may feel a bit unnatural for some time. Once adjusted the selection speed and efficiency far outweigh the slightly more unnatural positions for certain movements.

Overall the handles are not a make or break feature but they have to be mentioned as they do take some getting used to. 

Best Place to Buy a Set of Dumbells 

If you think the SelectTech dumbbells are right for you then the best palace for you to pick them up would be at Bowflex.com. Picking up the dumbbells directly from the manufacturer ensures that they will be the real deal and not an imitation.

Additionally, you can benefit from deals on shipping and choose financing options as their products do run on the more expensive side. Financing can be made on 12-month terms making for more reasonable monthly payments after conduction a credit check through Equifax or TransUnion. 

My Thoughts on the SelectTech 552 and 1090 Dumbells

When it comes to practicality and usability, these dumbbells and amazing and serve their purpose dutifully.

The wide selection of weights including the ability to only stack weights on one side makes for some additional uses such as a makeshift kettlebell for doing weighted squats.

I love that I don’t have to worry about adding additional sets of weights as I get stronger. Being able to just turn the tumbler when I feel ready for more weight is the simplest and most elegant solution to keeping up with lifting progress.

The added intensity from the time saved between sets also makes a huge difference in my results. My exercises feel quicker, more intense, and more focused when I can dial in exactly what I need without thinking about anything more. 

When it comes to the SelectTech 1090 dumbbells, I would only recommend them to those who will be able to make use of the maximum range of the weight.

If you are serious about weight training and are a fan of efficiency and convenience then these 1090 dumbbells may be one of the best purchases you will ever make.

These dumbbells are for those who are packing on serious muscle and are pushing for maximum muscle gain.

Keep in mind they are fragile and are not for those who frequently throw weights. This can teach a lot of restraint and be part of the exercise as maintaining complete control over the weight, even after finishing the set can be difficult without outright dropping the weight. 

If you are looking for weights but are not that strong or simply don’t require that much weight, then the SelectTech 552 is your better option.

They provide a greater selection of weights near the bottom half of the weight range and are better suited to those looking for more weight variety around the 20lbs range.

Final Thoughts

If you are usually using the 40-50lbs dumbbell range then I would suggest preemptively buying to 1090s as any lifting progress past 50lbs will be limited by the weight capacity of the 552s. 

Depending on your uses, both SelectTech dumbbells are very viable options for their respective purposes. The 552s are more casual and replace a dumbbell set, whereas the 1090s are for the more seriously involved and can be used for a very wide assortment of exercise due to the large weight range.

Consider your maximum lifts, your potential progress and other factors when choosing between which set if better for you. 

German Volume Training: Is It Worth the Effort?

German Volume Training Is It Worth the Effort

Are you serious about getting strong?

Hollywood has shown us some very enticing montages of our favorite actors running up stairs and grunting as they push a heavy barbell off their chest to get shredded, but that highlight reel is far from the real deal.

In reality, strength training takes time. In fact, I would argue that the length of time you are willing to commit to your fitness program is one of the biggest factors in determining whether or not you get results (sorry readers, no “rock hard abs in two weeks” promises to be found here). 

So, if you are ready to commit to an effective training program, and put in the time that it takes to build muscle and improve your strength, you are likely on the hunt for a program that suits your goals.

There are a wide variety of programs that different bloggers will swear by and convince you to commit to, but as I said, I am not here to make false promises. 

Rather, today I am going to talk about just one popular strength training method called German Volume Training, give you the facts on this workout routine, and let you decide if this is the best program to put your strength to the test and crush your personal goals.

So, without further ado, here is my German Volume Training review. 

How Does German Volume Training Work?

How exactly does the German Volume Training plan work?

Charles Poloquin, the Canadian coach who popularized German Volume Training, once said, “one of the reasons people don’t get strong is because they simply don’t do enough sets”. 

Do you believe that? In many ways, I do.

As I said early, time commitment is a big variable when it comes to muscle gain, and more time under the bar does create more muscle building opportunities.

In the spirit of achieving “enough sets" in Poloquin’s words, the German Volume Training plan is an intense, structured, and high volume workout.

 And in the world of strength training, high volume essentially means a lot of reps and sets.

So, you might be less surprised when I tell you that the German Volume Training program core training structure follows a 10x10 program for your core lifts, meaning that you perform 10 reps for 10 sets.

This heavy volume training program is a big step up from the standard 5x5 method that many strength athletes, particularly beginners, adhere to.

On top of that, rest is also highly structured in the German Volume Training workout routine. If you are training one main lift, you maintain a 60 second rest window between each set. For a superset, you are allotted 90 seconds between sets.

If you are not already intimidated by reading that, get this: the German Volume Training plan additionally adds in tempo training.

Tempo training is essentially slowing down and increasing your control during your exercise movement to focus on form (and of course, challenge your muscle performance under extended time and resistance). 

For lifts that feature full body movements (let us say a deadlift, squat, or pull up) you follow a 4-0-2-0 tempo. For example, in a squat, this would be a 4 second descent, no pause at the bottom, and a 2 second accent. 

For exercises that have a more limited range of motion (think leg extensions or bicep curls) you maintain a temp pattern of 3-0-2-0.

So, for a curl, that would look like counting to 3 on your curl upward with the dumbbell, taking no pause at the time, and bringing your arm back down for a count of 2 seconds (while really feeling the burn). 

In general, the German Volume Training workout routine is performed over a 30 day period. During one 30 day, you train for three days over a period of 5 days, and repeat that 6 times over. 

Who Benefits from German Volume Training?

The German Volume Training workout routine is a hypertrophy program. It focuses on helping athletes grow their muscle size and volume.

People who aspire to bodybuilding competitions, or want that similarly shredding physique, will often train for hypertrophy.

Who should give the German Volume Training plan a try?

Note that this is different from raw strength training. Traditional strength training, that helps athletes move heavier and heavier weights, does require training with less volume. 

Think about it: if you are looking to hit a squat PR and train by performing reps at 80% of your max lift, there is no way you are hitting that for a set of 10x10.

Therefore, athletes who train for strength, like powerlifters, might opt for the German Volume Training as offseason training to increase their strength endurance and conditioning, since regular strength training programs rarely push athletes above 5 set workouts.   

So, I would mainly suggest the German Volume Training for people who want to train “bodybuilder style” and increase their muscle size.

German Volume Training Sample Plan:

Curious about the German Volume Training and want to see it in action? Here is a 5 day exercise routine to get you started.

Take in account that the German Volume Training plan has you perform exercises in supersets (rotating back and forth between each movement).

Each day you will do 4 exercises in total, performing the first two as a superset, and then the next 2 as a superset. 

Monday: Chest and Back

Phase

Exercise

Sets

Reps

Tempo

Rest

(between sets)

Superset 1

A) Decline Dumbbell bench press

10

10

4-0-2-0

90 seconds

Superset 1

B) Pull-ups

10

10

4-0-2-0

90 seconds

Superset 2

A) Incline dumbbell flyes

3

10-12

3-0-2-0

60 seconds

Superset 2

B) Single arm dumbbell row

3

10-12

3-0-2-0

60 seconds

Tuesday: Legs and Abs

Phase

Exercise

Sets

Reps

Tempo

Rest

(between sets)

Superset 1

A) Barbell Back Squat

10

10

4-0-2-0

90 seconds

Superset 1

B) Lying leg curl

10

10

4-0-2-0

90 seconds

Superset 2

A) Low cable pull-in

3

10-12

3-0-2-0

60 seconds

Superset 2

B) Weighted calf raises

3

10-12

3-0-2-0

60 seconds

Wednesday: Rest Day

Thursday: Arms and Shoulders

Phase

Exercise

Sets

Reps

Tempo

Superset 1

A) Parallel bar dips

10

10

4-0-2-0

Superset 1

B) Incline hammer curls

10

10

4-0-2-0

Superset 2

A) Bent over dumbbell lateral raises

3

10-12

3-0-2-0

Superset 2

B) Chest supported reverse flies

3

10-12

3-0-2-0

Friday: Rest Day 

Saturday: Repeat Routine 


Tips for the German Volume Training Program:

1. Know How to Calculate Your Starting Weight

Know how to calculate your starting weight

Since the German Volume Training plan is so volume intense, you want to make sure that you are not over exerting yourself by using too heavy barbells or dumbbells.

If you are working to failure, this workout will not be sustainable for you. 

Achieve the optimal dumbbell or barbell weight for German Volume Training this by starting your first week of workouts by moving only 60% of your one-rep max. 

Make sure that along with this, you are following the method of progressive overload, meaning that you are either striving to increase the weight you are lifting by 4 to 5 percent each workout.

This will ensure that you are challenging your muscles enough to see results. 

2. Don’t Skip rest Days

Oftentimes, beginner lifters will choose to skip rest days and just move on to the next workout day on their program, and I get the mentality behind this: you are feeling motivated, determined, and you want to push your limits to see results fast.

However, skipping rest days is not the way to do this!

In the world of strength training and muscle growth, rest days are just as important as workout days. Time off is essential in order to let your muscles repair themselves.

Otherwise, you are training without allowing your body to recover, and thus putting yourself at a higher risk of a training related injury, that will end up setting you back a lot more than one day of rest will.

Keep in mind as well that rest days don’t need to become “couch days” that often come with other less healthy habits like indulging in sweet and salty snacks.

Learn to practice active rest on your days off: take time to stretch and foam roll, or schedule a hike or bike ride to keep moving. 

3. Time Your Rest Intervals

Time your rest intervals

With the German Volume Training plan, you will want to keep your eye on the clock. One of the key parts of this program is being rigorous with the amount of rest you take.

Personally, I use my smartphone clock to follow the rest period properly.

Pay attention to whether the superset requires a 60 or 90 second rest, and resist the urge to chat with your gym buddies and lose track of time.

4. Eating Right is as Important as Working Out

As the saying goes, abs are made in the kitchen. Especially with such a high intensity program as the German Volume Training workout routine, you want to make sure that what you eat is helping you achieve your fitness goals. 

You will want to eat whole foods, and track your protein intake to make sure that you are consuming enough to support muscle growth and repair.

Keep in mind as well during your German Volume Training, you likely do not want to be cutting calories.

Since you are training so frequently with high volume sets, you want to ensure you have enough energy from food to safely power you through these workouts. 

My Experience with German Volume Training

I was looking to change up my strength training program, so I gave the German Volume Training workout routine a try for one cycle (30 days). 

Now, here is the question you are probably all wanting to ask me: did it work? Did I see results?

The answer, in short, is yes. I did notice muscle growth.

The strict requirements of the German Volume Training plan kept my training performance at the gym very structured, consistent, and had me pushing the limits of my strength each time I trained, which is the recipe for successful training.

I was also careful to plan my meals and ensure I was eating enough nutrient rich foods each day to support my training, which I am sure helped as well. 

I will impart you with this knowledge: the German Volume Training program will make you sore. Really sore.

And while soreness is a good thing, because it means that your muscles have to repair themselves (read: grow), you will need to keep up with your foam rolling and stretching during this training or else you are going to come out of this cycle very stiff and at risk of injuring yourself.

I recommend putting on your favorite TV show or podcast at home, rolling out the yoga mat, and making that foam roller your best friend.

As well, because of its high intensity and volume, the German Volume Training program is not something I would attempt more than once or twice a year.

Use it sparingly to advance and challenge your muscle gain; anything more than that is not sustainable. 

On that note, do not forget to warm up and cool down during your gym sessions. I am used to shorter set and rep programs, so the 10x10 requirements of the German Volume Training routine did at times make my gym sessions feel longer.

This made me tempted to shorten my warm up or skip my cool down all together, but please resist that temptation.

Properly preparing your body to perform high intensity movements, and stretching afterward, is essential to the longevity of your fitness journey and overall safety while training. 

My Final German Volume Training Review: the Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Helps athletes achieve hypertrophy build muscle mass
  • Idea for bodybuilder style training
  • High-volume challenge that other programs don’t offer
  • Only four exercises each day
  • Effective 30-day program to change up your routine

Cons

  • Not recommended for hitting one rep maxes
  • Not sustainable as a long term workout plan

In conclusion, the German Volume Training plan is worth the effort for people who want to experiment with a new form of training that is geared toward building muscle and improving your overall physique.  

Bowflex Treadmill 10 Review

Bowflex Treadmill 10 Review

If you’re anything like me, you know that if there was somehow a safe way to do it, you would run during a hurricane--okay that’s a bit of a stretch, but whether there is rain, snow, strong winds or excessive heat, nothing can get in the way of your running routine. 

Luckily for us, treadmills exist, so we don’t have to worry about catching a cold from running outside (or flying debris, using the hurricane example.)

More specifically, lucky for us the Bowflex Treadmill 10 exists, because it completely changes the game when it comes to your stationary running or walking workouts from home.

Whether you are bringing your workouts inside due to inclement weather, self-conscious body image or just pure convenience, the Bowflex Treadmill 10, with all of its features and amazing performance, is more than enough to elevate your fitness to its peak and to deliver guaranteed results.

Read on and find out what I’m talking about.

About the Bowflex Treadmill 10

Bowflex has always been a key player in the treadmill market, but for some reason, they have always fallen short of the top spot because of the emergence of more technologies, fitness programs and brand names.

Companies like NordicTrack and Peloton seemed to be the top of their classes for a while--until now.

Bowflex released the Treadmill 10 in early 2021 and it has legitimately become the best thing to happen to the stationary runner’s market ever since. 

The T10 replaces Bowflex’s previous models, the BXT116 and BX216, because of their relatively fewer sales due to their uncompetitive price ranges, technologies, features and performance. 

The T10 does cost a bit more, but at first glance you can notice that every penny invested went into diligent construction, peak performance, and more technology than a smartphone.

In already such a short amount of time since its inception, it is already being compared to the best names currently on the market.

Unique Features

I will delve into this in greater detail in the technological specifications category, but if you are a “quick conclusion” kind of person and just want to speed read through this article, the biggest takeaways that the Bowflex T10 offers is its huge incline variation capabilities as well as its associated app called JRNY. 

The makers of the T10 know that treadmill users want to experience the simulation of running outside.

Similarly, scientifically speaking, runners are less inclined and less motivated to continue their treadmill workout if they are experiencing the same incline, speed and regularity--there is a huge percentage of lower performance rates on a stagnant workout like that.

Similarly, our world is advancing toward a more technologically connected one. Being able to navigate through technology is important, but it is also equally necessary to know how to customize your devices to your own specifications so that you can really bring out the best experiences for yourself.

From small things like having a good playlist to help your motivation to bigger things like giving you an immersive display of a realistically scenic running route on the display, technology is huge with equipment like this. There is also a huge interactive workout world contained within the JRNY app as well.

I will get into much more detail about this later on, but if you want a quick read of what sets the Bowflex T10 apart from its competition, it’s the ability to replicate real life running settings and its gigantic improvements on the side of technology.

So now, let’s get into detail. 

Physical Specifications

I am not going to mince words here: the Bowflex T10 is a mammoth machine, so a large workout space is ideal.

Obviously, you can make it work if a large space is not available to you, but as you will already know, treadmills naturally move during use depending on a combination of your weight, intensity and running behaviour.

It is also worth mentioning that a taller ceiling is preferred, because based on your height, the natural jump motion of a good jog or sprint can result in an injured head.

The T10 comes with a 4.0 HP motor that can operate at a top speed of 12 mph, which is more than enough to test your limits consistently.

Above the console is a 10 inch HD display that is completely touchscreen, so instead of spending time trying figure out what setting works best, you can just use a finger to quickly meet your workout needs. The console feels like a tablet, to be honest. 

As big as the Bowflex treadmill is, it does have a folding capability with its SoftDrop folding system.

So, if you accidentally lose your grip or if you bring it down too fast in your excitement to start your workout, the T10 will automatically adjust its speed and fold down slowly.

When it comes to its dimensions, the Bowflex Treadmill 10 measures at 85 inches long, 39.6 inches wide and 65.3 inches tall. The actual running surface is 22 inches x 60 inches, so it gives you ample space to do anything from a light job or a full on, 100% effort prolonged sprint. 

In terms of the treadmill’s weight, the T10 itself weighs 323 lbs and is capable of carrying a maximum weight of 400 lbs. You can only achieve such a big weight because of how sturdy, durable and well built it is.

Unfortunately, most heavier people rule out treadmill shopping because of the fear of maximum weight, but this is not the case with the Bowflex T10--it is such a steady machine for users on the heavier side and lighter side alike.

In terms of appearance, the T10 has a much cleaner, durable and to be honest, a way more attractive look than other treadmills on the market. From the bottom up, it has the actual running surface with a very high quality material.

Moving up, it has the standard arms that connect the base to its console, but these are made with a durable steel that can easily withstand your entire weight plus additional force.

There is also an additional brace that supports the vertical arms with the running surface to provide that extra durability in case you do a completely intense workout.

On top of the arms is the very high tech console, control pad and various screens that indicate your performance and your workout settings.

When it comes to warranty, the Bowflex T10 has a pretty good plan, with the frame itself being eligible for 15 years, 15 years for the motor, 5 years on the parts, 1 year for electronics and 2 years for labour.

All things considered, the T10 has a great warranty plan in terms of longevity considering its price--I mean, a 15 year lifespan is already great for a treadmill, so a warranty lasting that long is amazing. 

I’ll get onto the technological specifications next, because that is truly what sets most treadmills apart from the rest. 

Technological Specifications

I did a quick rundown of what sets the Bowflex T10 apart from others above, but if you want specifics, this is the section for you.

By all means, the Bowflex T10 is a very modern treadmill that meets every technological demand that even the most hi-tech savvy consumer would need, and more.

As we all know, the hype around most workout machines is its connectivity capabilities--and this is definitely with good reason, whether you want to be involved in the community workout aspect or if you want to pursue your fitness goals alone.

This highly intelligent machine will have you covered for every aspect of working out that isn’t actually working out-- the only thing you have to do is move your legs, breathe and start running!

The only difference between running outside and running on a treadmill is the scenery and of course the natural elements, which of course both have their benefits and letdowns.

While it’s definitely nice to feel the wind and hear running water on a jog by the riverside, it’s also nice to not run into a swarm of mosquitos or having to stealthily navigate through crowds of people. 

Conversely, on a treadmill, it’s amazing to be in your own space and to be in complete privacy, but it can be a little mentally disappointing to not see other people outside or to stare at the same four walls or window during the workout.

With the Bowflex Treadmill 10, you can have the best of both worlds.

As perhaps its best feature, the T10 has a completely intuitive incline system. Running outdoors comes with its sets of challenges, such as encountering a hill or a very daunting incline.

With the T10, the treadmill will automatically alter its incline, all the way from a downhill -5% incline to an uphill one of 15%, and anywhere in between.

Therefore, if you want to tackle a real life hill for a truly intense workout, you can do so in the comfort of your own home.

I mentioned earlier that the Bowflex T10 comes with the JRNY app, which has quickly become a major selling point for this amazingly intelligent machine. If the treadmill is the body, JRNY is the brain. 

With the app installed onto your smartphone, you can enter a huge and diverse workout world that can introduce you to anything from coach-led workouts to complete entertainment apps.

There are group classes that are similar to real life gym sessions, with real time coaches who are pushing you to give you that extra motivation for the best workout of your life, and interface options that allow you to see how you are compared to other real members who are in the same class. 

The T10 has a 10 inch HD touchscreen display, making any unsuspecting user think that there is a fully functional tablet attached to the treadmill. On top of its touch sensitive display, it is crystal clear.

So, if you are tired of staring at the same four walls during your workout, you can simply turn on the display and have it show a scenic route for your exercise.

Studies have shown that runners perform better while seeing changes in scenery, seeing and passing by other people, and with visual landmarks to help the workout (for example, “I will sprint as fast as I can until I pass that tree.”)

You can set the display to show a city route, jogging in the woods or by the water--there are endless possibilities here to make the visual aspect of your workout as realistic as possible. 

Further to the display is the entertainment capability.

You can easily connect to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and any music streaming app while working out.

There is nothing to pass the time while watching your favourite show or movie and listening to your favourite song, so why not work out while doing exactly that?

Of course, it would not be a treadmill without some kind of heart monitoring system, cooling fan, media rack and water bottle holders.

Bowflex includes an arm band heart rate monitor for you to measure your heart rate--alternatively, you can do the same functions with Bluetooth or through the JRNY app. 

Similar to standard treadmills, you can easily place your phone, tablet or other media devices on the rack; there is a built in cooling fan to help keep you more comfortable during intense workouts and there is a water bottle holder that is wide enough to fit any customizable bottle in case you make shakes, hold larger amounts of water or any kind of liquid.

Conclusion

The Bowflex Treadmill 10 is a remarkable treadmill all around. While it is slightly bigger than your average treadmill, its technological and performance functions are significantly above the average competitor.

Bowflex Treadmill 10

With its incline settings, JRNY app, crystal clear and touch sensitive touchscreen display, all of these features come together to give you an amazing workout.

Whether you are using it alone or as part of a group setting, the Bowflex T10 provides you with everything that you need to bring your workout to the next level.

You can purchase yours here: 

Bowflex Treadmill 10

Bowflex Treadmill 10

  • Max weight capacity of 400lbs
  • JRNY App connection
  • Intuitive incline system
  • 10" HD touchscreen display
  • Get the BEST price now

Fitbit Versa 3 Review

How do you keep track of your fitness goals?

I have to admit, for a long time I wasn’t. In my early days of fitness training, it was sort of a free for all. I would show up at the gym, or go for a run, and just base my progress off of memory and what felt good. And in all honesty, I think I limited my progress that way.

Keeping track of your activity, whether it is during your workout or your overall movement throughout the day, is an excellent way to stay motivated towards reaching your goals.

Without tracking methods, it is just too easy to dismiss a workout, slack off during one, or have too many “couch days” in a row. As well, without an overall picture of your progress, you are missing out on discovering just how far you have come!

On that account, let me introduce you to the discovery that made activity tracking incredibly convenient for me, and will do the same for you: the Fitbit Versa 3.

Now, you have likely heard of the Fitbit already. Beginning in 2007, Fitbit strives to create wearable devices that help revolutionize the way people think about their everyday movements.

Today, this brand has expanded to incorporate a variety of product designs, including activity trackers, smartwatches, a premium fitness App, scales, Fitbits for kids, and stylish designs.   

So, where does the Fitbit Versa 3 fall within Fitbit’s wide line of exciting products? The Fitbit Versa 3 is the third generation design of the Fitbit Versa smartwatch. It includes everything that you need to stay on top of your health and fitness goals, all from the convenience of your wrist. 

In this Fitbit Versa 3 review, I am going to go over the details that have helped this product evolve into one of the top choices on the market for smartwatches today.

I will also include my experiences with the Fitbit Versa 3, to help you decide if this is the best Fitbit smartwatch for you.

With that, let us begin!

What Exactly is the Fitbit Versa 3?

Right- that was the same question on my mind too when I was first introduced to this product.

With so many new smartwatch designs coming out regularly, it can be difficult to decipher what makes each of them unique.

But with the Fitbit Versa 3, it is no question that this is a standout model, for a variety of reasons.

Let me explain.

To oversimplify this product for a moment, the Fitbit Versa 3 is essentially a watch. It comes in a variety of stylish colors, ranging from midnight to clay to olive, all with soft gold aluminum detailing.

The band is flexible in design, making it comfortable for everyday use. It is also an easy to wear “buckle adjusting” style that comes in two sizes, small (for people with wrists from 140mm circumference to 180mm) and large (for wrists from 180mm circumference to 220mm). 

The Fitbit Versa 3’s band can be switched out and replaced with other Fitbit bands to customize this smartwatch’s design even further and match your unique style. In fact, it has a quick release feature that makes this really easy. 

But aside from an attractive watch, the most exciting part about the Fitbit Versa 3 is that it is packed with innovative technology to make your life easier.

The Fitbit Versa 3 prioritizes your health and fitness goals with advanced sensors, reliable activity tracking, and full integration with your smartphone. 

To support all these intelligent and comprehensive features in one tiny device, the Fitbit Versa 3 comes with a powerful rechargeable battery and charging cable that sustains the smartwatch’s battery life for up to six days or more, depending on your user habits.

Its lithium-polymer battery takes about 40 minutes to charge completely, and its fast charging technology gives you one full day of battery life in just 12 minutes of charging.  

The display screen on the Fitbit Versa 3 is an easy to read AMOLED display sized at 40.48mm x 40.48mm x 12.35mm.  It features “always on” technology that lets you quickly glance at the screen to learn the time, see your notifications, and check in on your activity progress for the day.

However, you do have the option to turn the display off for a more discreet wearable screen as well. 

Moveover, the Fitbit Versa 3 syncs easily with almost all popular smartphone and tablet products. It is compatible with Apple iOS 12.2 or higher, Android OS 7.0 and higher, iPhone 5S and later, iPad 5 gen and later, and more. It is also bluetooth compatible.  

Finally, the Fitbit Versa 3 compiles all your data on the free Fitbit mobile App. On this App, you have the freedom to view and explore the ongoing data about your daily activity rates, sleep, nutrition, heart rate and more that the Fitbit Versa 3 monitors.

This is just one of the accessible ways that the Fitbit Versa 3 helps you keep count of your daily movement, without any additional effort needed to be taken by you. 

How Can the Fitbit Versa 3 Improve Your Health?

Let me break this down by explaining what features of the Fitbit Versa 3 that I think can really enhance a person’s wellness- and you will be surprised just how much intelligence this small watch offers.

#1. Improving Your Sleep Hygiene

Sleep habits are a complicated thing to track because, well, they happen when we are sleeping.

That is where the Fitbit Versa 3 comes in to help.

While you sleep, the Fitbit Versa 3 is able to capture the amount of time you spend in light, deep, and REM sleep.

It sends this information to the Fitbit mobile App, and then gives you a nightly sleep score.

This helped me better understand and track how my daily habits were impacting the quality of my sleep, and improve it over time.

#2. Wake Up Feeling Better

Big promise, right? Hear me out: because the Fitbit Versa 3 keeps track of your sleep patterns, you can set it to gentle vibrate to wake you up when you are already in a light sleep, as opposed to a deep sleep or REM sleep that can be more jolting to wake up from.

This also means so more hitting the snooze button several times each morning, which my partner is admittedly thankful for. 

#3. Know How Much Oxygen is in Your Blood

Can a watch do this? Yeah, I was surprised too. Oxygen saturation (or SP02) is an important indicator of how much oxygen is in your blood and is travelling to different areas of your body to give you energy during physical activity.

The Fitbit Versa 3 can give you an immediate estimate of your SP02 levels, as well as a nightly average, to help you see how your body is responding to different levels of activity and to be aware of any important changes in your personal wellness. 

#4. Menstrual Health Tracking

This is a convenient feature for people with periods. While it isn’t something that I use of course, my girlfriend told me she really enjoys being able to quickly log when her period will come, record the data, and find patterns in her menstruation to help her keep track of ovulation and cycle.

#5. Give Yourself More Mindful Moments

I think this feature really demonstrates that Fitbit knows just how important mental health is to a person’s overall wellness.

Not only does this Fitbit smartwatch measure your breathing rate, but it also offers you short guided breathing sessions to become more connected to your breathing throughout the day.

These last between 2 to 5 minutes, and they are even personalized to your own breathing rate. I wasn’t sure how often I was going to use this feature, but I am incorporating more and more into my daily routine to help me start the day off with more focus, and fall asleep faster. 

How Can the Fitbit Versa 3 Help You Crush Your Fitness Goals?

I invested in the Fitbit Versa 3 with the main priority of keeping track of my fitness and daily activity. Let me tell you what I discovered. 

#1. Track Your Heart Rate

The science behind this one is easy: when you push yourself during a workout, the heart rate rises to pump more oxygen throughout your body.

Every individual has something called a “target heart rate zone”, which is essentially the ideal place for your heart rate to be to get the most healthy benefits from your workout.

The Fitbit Versa 3 can help track your heart rate to learn if your workouts are helping you reach that “target zone”, if you need to push yourself more, or if you need to slow things down.

Gradually, with more physical activity incorporated into your every day, you will be able to exercise more comfortably at an increased heart rate, and use the data tracking in the Fitbit mobile App to watch trends in your resting heart rate too.

This was a great feature for me to make sure that each of my workouts were reaching maximum effectiveness! It was also interesting to be more aware of how factors like stress or anxiety could influence my resting heart rate. 

#2. Built in GPS

Now THIS is a standout feature for people who like to be active outdoors, whether it be walking, hiking, biking, or running. The Fitbit Versa 3’s GPS helps monitor your route and distance.

Knowing how many kilometers you crushed in your last bike or run is a great benchmark to know just how far you want to push yourself during your next outing.

As well, the Fitbit Versa 3 is so intelligent that it is able to also track your intensity during each route of your run, so you can know just how difficult that steep road incline or rocky hiking trail was. 

#3. Know Your “Active Zone” Minutes

I probably don’t need to tell you that life is busy, and it can be hard to fit in physical activity throughout the day.

The Fitbit Versa 3 helps you make the most of your day with the Active Zone minutes: when you reach your target heart rate throughout the day, the watch will buzz on your wrist to let you know you are in workout mode.

The best thing is? You might be helping your buddy move into a new house, or chasing your kids around, and discover that you are working out. This can be a really motivating and satisfying reminder that getting active does not need to be a chore!

#4. Activity Tracking

Did you know the average adult should be aiming to walk around 10,000 steps a day?

Where do you measure up to that? The Fitbit Versa 3 helps you keep track of your daily steps, and more (like the stairs you climb, distance you travel, and calories burned) to help you set and beat your daily activity goals.

I have found this feature so motivating when it comes to little things, like walking instead of driving, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator- all crucial changes to move yourself towards a healthy lifestyle. 

#5. Know Your Cardio Level and Set Goals to Improve It

This is exactly what I am talking about when I say that tracking your fitness can help you get into better shape, faster- and the Fitbit Versa 3 does all the work for you.

This little smartwatch tells me my cardio fitness level, essentially how good my body is at exercising with an increased heart rate, so that I can actively improve this area of my fitness.

And to be even more helpful, the Fitbit Versa 3 has more than 20 exercise modes that I can set goals to keep my fitness progress on track throughout the day. 

Just How “Smart” is the Fitbit Versa 3 Smartwatch?

If the health and fitness tracking features I mentioned above are not enough to convince you that the Fitbit Versa 3 is a truly life changing watch, get a load of these smart features:

  • Enjoy music and podcasts from your Fitbit Versa 3 with its Deezer and Spotify compatibility (I just connect my Bluetooth headphones to the smartwatch and immediately have access to my music library through my watch)
  • Leave your phone in your gym bag: the Fitbit Versa 3 lets you take calls, see your texts and notifications, and have access to a variety of Apps from the little screen on your wrist. This is a huge convenience in comparison to carrying my phone around the gym, or having to take it out during a hike or bike. Better yet, you can even send text messages from this smart watch using voice command. 
  • Have access to Fitbit pay, allow you to use your Fitbit Versa 3 to make debit and credit payments on the go
  • Lost your phone? The Fitbit Versa 3 can sync with the Find Your Phone App to help you quickly locate it 

Final Thoughts and Where to Buy

Pros

  • Intelligent sleep tracker
  • Has almost as many features as a smartphone, without having an extra device to carry around
  • Motivating and convenient analysis of your fitness progress and goals
  • Attractive and comfortable design 
  • Integrated GPS

Cons

  • Battery life may be shorter than 6 days depending on how many features you use throughout your day
  • Syncing can take time; some patience required

In all, I highly recommend the Fitbit Versa 3 for people who are beginning their journey to a healthier lifestyle, or for people who want to track their activity more accurately in order to smash their previous goals.

The Fitbit Versa 3 is the perfect accessory to enhance your personal fitness and wellness with ease.  

Whether you're someone that is running half marathons regularly or just want to get out for a short walk, then the Versa 3 casts a wide net for possible users.

How to Join & Compete In Bodybuilding Competitions

How to Join & Compete In Bodybuilding Competitions

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, bodybuilding competitions are a great contest to join regardless of your progress and where you are at in your life.

I’ve competed in several bodybuilding competitions, and while I might not have won, I had an absolutely amazing time, met some fantastic people, and have had a ton of progress.

I do understand how a bodybuilding competition can be intimidating to people, especially with what they see out there, however you shouldn’t be afraid at all. If you are taking your workouts seriously, there should be nothing that you are afraid of anyways.

In today’s article, I’m going to talk about how to join bodybuilding competitions, why you should join bodybuilding competitions, and how you can go about competing in them. There is going to be a ton of information presented here so just sit back and enjoy the ride.

How Do I Join a Bodybuilding Competition

Bodybuilding

If you want to join a bodybuilding competition you are going to have to find one.

There is no secret to finding one, it’s more just going onto Google and searching up bodybuilding competitions in your area. You will have several things show up and from there you can find what works best for you.

You are also going to have to decide what type of competition that you want to enter. Bodybuilding is just an all encompassing term that is used to describe a variety of different competitions.

It’s up to you to decide what you are looking for. I’ll give you a quick run down on some of these bodybuilding competitions so you can get an idea of what works best for you.

Bodybuilding For Men

  • Bodybuilding Division - This is a bodybuilding competition where eit is all about muscle. Your weight will determine what class you fit in and your height does not play a role at all
  • Classic Physique Division - This is a similar bodybuilding competition, however your height and weight both play a role in the division that you are competing in
  • Men’s Physique - In this bodybuilding competition your weight does not matter at all and instead you are grouped by height.

Bodybuilding For Women

  • Bikini Division - The bikini division is a bodybuilding competition that is exactly what it sounds like. While you will need to have more muscle than your standard woman, other women’s bodybuilding competitions will require a lot more. There is a heavy focus on overall body health and posing.
  • Fitness Division - This bodybuilding competition is not about the amount of muscle on your body, but your overall fitness level. You will be judged based on a routine you created and how well you can pull it off.
  • Figure Division - The Figure Division bodybuilding competition looks to take things a little further than the wellness division. You’re going for a moderate amount of muscle, but only with a small amount of striations.
  • Wellness Division - This bodybuilding competition fits somewhere between the bikini and figure divisions. It is for women with a highly athletic looking physique.
  • Women’s Physique - This is a bodybuilding competition that is one step down from all-out muscle. You are going to want to be strong, but still have a defined figure and look.
  • Bodybuilding Division - This bodybuilding competition is all about strength and how large your muscles are. They are looking for striations, good posing, and fantastic body structure.

Bodybuilding for Beginners

Bodybuilding

There is a bodybuilding competition out there that is known as a true novice competition. This is a fitness competition for those who have never competed before and once you have competed in it, you can never compete in it again.

This is a perfect bodybuilding competition for those who want to compete but are nervous.

I recommend entering into a true novice competition for your first bodybuilding competition as it will allow you to understand the expectations while also meeting other like-minded people who are starting to get into bodybuilding as well.

It’s a great way to bolster your confidence before entering into some of the more intense competitions.

Now that I’ve given you a slight idea of the bodybuilding competitions you can enter into, it’s now time to move onto the next topic. Why should you join a bodybuilding competition?


Why Should I Compete?

Entering a fitness competition isn’t just about winning. Sure, there’s a hope that you can win, but bodybuilding is so much more than just a trophy.

I found that the months leading up to the bodybuilding competition were just as important as the competition itself and I was working out better than I ever have.

Here are some of the reasons why I think competing in a bodybuilding competition is a great idea.

Motivation

Sometimes you just need that little extra kick to get yourself to the gym, work harder for that session, and push your body past limits that you thought were impossible.

If you don’t have a goal in mind while you are working out, you might find yourself wanting to quit, or you might even find you are mentally holding yourself back.

I found that when I entered a bodybuilding competition I was able to push myself as I now had something to work for and prove.

Motivation

I didn’t want to enter a fitness competition weak and with little muscles. I found myself getting to the gym every day and working as hard as I could to get myself ready for the competition.

Self-Confidence

This right here is one of the biggest reasons as to why I recommend people compete in a bodybuilding competition.

It gives you a huge boost of confidence seeing yourself get jacked and then ending up on stage with similar people.

I’ve mentioned it before, the bodybuilding scene is extremely positive and encouraging towards one another.

Even if you don’t win, you are going to be thankful for the opportunity and are going to love the people that you met along the way.

Progress

The final reason why I recommend entering a bodybuilding competition is simply to improve your progress.

This plays off of your motivation and confidence levels, and as I mentioned above, you’re going to push yourself to new levels for the competition. It is a great way to slam past plateaus and reach new heights.

A bodybuilding competition is all about yourself, so be prepared to dial in the work effort to get the results that you are looking for.


How To Compete

Bodybuilding Competition

It’s now time to talk about everything that you should be doing to get yourself in tip-top shape for your bodybuilding competition.

This is not something you can do a few weeks before the competition. You are going to need months of planning and hard work. 

I’m going to tell you right now, it’s not going to be easy, and there will definitely be times when you feel like you want to quit and give up.

I’m personally challenging you right here, to stay on track with everything you are doing so you can be proud of what you accomplished.

Diet

You can lift the heaviest weights in the world and have the biggest muscles, but it means nothing if you are eating unhealthy and have a poor figure.

Diet is extremely important when it comes to bodybuilding competitions as it can help to bring out the muscle mass that you have in your body.

If you are far out from the competition (9-12 weeks out) you are going to want to focus on healthy foods and eating clean. Things like steak, chicken breast, and fish are all sources of protein that are great.

Getting healthy fats through nuts and oils is another essential thing. Carbs can be quite to deal with as you want to make sure that you are getting good carbs. This means cutting out the white bread and switching towards whole-grain.

Cutting out the bad carbs is definitely the hardest thing you will encounter with your diet when preparing for a bodybuilding competition.

As for supplements during this time, you are going to want to aim for your standard pre-workouts, creatine, and multivitamins. As you are quite a long ways away from your bodybuilding competition, there's more of a focus on just general health.

That’s not to say that you can slack off here, but it’s not as rigorous as it’s going to get.

For weeks 8-5 we are now going to be cutting out some of the foods from our diet.

You are now going to want to switch towards leaner meats and beef as you are going to want to cut down on their fat levels and instead focus on getting fats through nuts, avocados, and healthy oils.

One of the more difficult things that you are going to have to give up is fruits.

While fruits are quite healthy, the natural sugars that occur in them are not conducive to losing weight, especially if you are trying to lower your body fat percentage to an extremely low number.

You are once again going to want to stick to healthy grains and complex carbs here. It’s all about starting to lower your fat intake in these weeks to help prep you for your bodybuilding competition.

We’re now getting close to the competition and are only 4-2 weeks away. At this point, you’re going to be cutting down on your carbs and cutting out gluten as it can cause some bloating.

You are going to want to say goodbye to whole-grain bread at this point along with pasta and oatmeal. This is a difficult period leading up to your bodybuilding competition but you are getting so close.

You’ve now made it to the week of your bodybuilding competition. At this point you are going to want to eat more of the carbs that I have spoken about above as they help to make your muscles round out better.

You are also going to want to start cutting your water intake to reduce your water weight.

I will personally say, the day of your bodybuilding competition is hell at the beginning. You are on little to no water and are going to constantly be cramping up.

Once the bodybuilding competition is over however, you should treat yourself to a massive celebratory meal. You deserve it after what you accomplished.

Training

BB Training

When it comes to training, less detail is needed in comparison to the diet instructions. You are going to want to make sure that you are working out every muscle group in your body as the judges are going to be evaluating you on everything. 

Each week you are going to want to push yourself to new limits and you are going to look to build muscle while also burning fat.

In the first few weeks of prep, you should be looking to powerlift. I’m talking about high weight and low rep exercises.

This is going to help stimulate muscle creation as quickly as possible. You’re not concerned with tone and how your muscles look right now, you’re just concerned about size.

As you get closer and closer to the competition date, you are going to want to up the reps and sets of your exercises in order to increase your heart rate and burn more calories as a result.

This is going to help to shed the layers of fat and therefore allow you to show off those muscles you built while you were powerlifting.

During the powerlifting phase, you should be doing a slight amount of cardio and it should start ramping up the closer you get to the competition.

Cardio is all about burning calories and fats, therefore your training is going to have a lot of cardio.

In the final week or so leading up to your bodybuilding competition you are actually going to want to ease up on your workouts a little.

Powerlifting

As you are cutting your water intake down, you don’t want to cause any serious injuries.

You definitely want to get a pump going and you still want to push yourself, but instead of giving 100% you will want to give about 85%.

On the day of your bodybuilding competition, take 15 minutes or so to get a pump going by doing some high-rep low weight exercises. This will get the blood flowing in your muscles and help them pop even further.

Even after the competition is over, you’ve made major changes to your body and are going to be happy with your results.

Tanning

Tanning

A few days before the bodybuilding competition you are also going to have to go and get a tan. You’re going to need 3-5 coats of it as it does rub off, especially if you are a paler person. Why do you need a spray tan?

A dark body helps to define some of the muscles, bringing out all of its contours. It can also help to cover up some of the imperfections of your body such as stretch marks and will also make you look slimmer.

I’ve seen people lose bodybuilding competitions simply because they weren’t tanned enough for it, so don’t make the same mistake they did.

Posing

Posing

The final thing you need to know about your bodybuilding competition is the posing.

These are poses that have been carefully constructed to show off your body to the fullest extent.

Just like with tanning, if you don’t have your poses down, you cannot expect to win.

For this, I’d recommend hiring a posing coach. 

You can learn some of these poses on YouTube or on the internet, but with how much work you’re putting in to get to this point, you’re going to want to spend the money here.

They are going to critique you in every way so that your poses are perfect. I don’t know about you, but I’d be angry at myself if I was the strongest and best looking person on stage and lost because I didn’t have my poses down.


Final Thoughts

I hope this gives you an idea of what to expect if you plan on entering a bodybuilding competition. There will definitely be some sacrifices and there will be some struggles, however I definitely believe it is worth it.

My biggest piece of advice for you if you are planning to body build is to do it for yourself. If you are doing this to impress a friend or someone you like, you’re going to have a bad time. This is a time to better yourself and get the confidence that you are looking for. 

I’m not going to lie and say the process was sunshine and roses, it was hell at times, especially in that final week.

If you can make it through the prep work for a bodybuilding competition you will emerge a much stronger person and as I’ve mentioned many times, you’re going to be proud of everything that you achieved. I think it’s time for you to get to the gym and starting working towards your goals.

Apartment Home Gym: How to Maximize a Small Space

Not everyone has the luxury or budget to afford a monthly gym membership or a large home. If you do live in an apartment, you might find it difficult to build yourself a home gym.

I’ve been in this situation before where my apartment home gym simply wasn’t cutting it and I wasn’t able to get the equipment that I needed to get big.

While I could have just sat there and complained, I decided to sit down and come up with a solution to this problem. It might sound easy, but the first step towards coming up with a solution is fully identifying the problem at hand.

It was only then that I was able to build a fully functional apartment home gym that met my needs and allowed me to get some workouts in.

While an apartment home gym will never be able to compete with something a gym could offer you, it’s a great alternative if you aren’t feeling up to travelling and still want to get some work in.

I’m going to be talking to you guys today about how to maximize the space in your apartment home gym so you can find a way to make your situation work.

The Problems With An Apartment Home Gym

Size

Remember when I first said I had to figure out all the problems with my apartment home gym? The first and most obvious one is going to be size.

There is no way I’m going to be able to get large smith machines in there as space in an apartment is already tight.

You generally get the choice of one machine top if you are lucky, and even then it might have to be small.

Another thing to mention is that if your workout requires lots of movement, you are going to have a lot of trouble pulling that off with an apartment home gym.

If you are sharing your apartment with a friend, spouse, or partner, you’re going to have an even harder time finding a way to make your apartment home gym work.

Unless they are passionate about workouts either, they are not going to want a huge portion of their living space dedicated to gym equipment. The problems with an apartment home gym don’t end there either unfortunately.

Noise

If you are planning on lifting heavy weights or deadlifting, you are going to run into serious issues.

Even setting large weights down carefully is going to make a ton of noise that your neighbors and landlord is going to hear.

After a few complaints, your landlord is going to come over, see your apartment home gym, and ask you to take it down.

It’s one of the things I hated the most about working out in an apartment as I wasn’t able to be raw and in charge when I was lifting.

The Setting

There are spaces that are made for working out, and there are spaces that aren’t made for working out.

You might find yourself getting extremely hot working out in your space and struggling to push yourself to go further.

Ventilation plays a key role at the gym, it’s a reason why you see high ceilings and massive fans above you. It’s a problem that not too many people realize when it comes to an apartment home gym.

It might sound like I’m bashing apartment home gyms, but I’m not. As I mentioned earlier, it’s important to recognize the problems that come with an apartment home gym so you can go about remedying them.

I found a way to make apartment home gym workouts work, so I know that you can do the same for yourself.

Before I jump into actual solutions though, I do want to briefly touch on the benefits of having an apartment home gym so you can see that there are some amazing things that come with it.

The Benefits of an Apartment Home Gym

Convenience

The first and ultimate reason to have an apartment home gym is convenient. Instead of having to drive off to the gym to get a workout in, you can instead take a few steps and start working out right away.

It’s great for those of you who at times might lack motivation to get out of the house.

Cost Effective

This one is a little tricky, as gym equipment is not cheap at all, however if you plan to keep it for a few years, you are going to save some money.

Let’s say the average gym membership costs about $50 a month; that’s $600 on the year. That money however keeps getting spent every month to get you your workouts.

While you are going to be paying higher costs at first with your own apartment home gym equipment, eventually you are going to be saving money provided you take good care of your machines and don’t break them.

How To Make Your Apartment Home Gym Great

Apartment Home Gym: How to Maximize a Small Space

Now that we understand why you would want to get an apartment home gym, it’s now time to take a look at the many ways that you can make your home gym great.

There are three major areas that I’m going to be addressing when it comes to creating the perfect apartment home gym.

  • Portability
  • Multi-Use
  • Size

When it comes to your apartment home gym, you are going to want things that are portable and can be easily moved around.

Not every day is going to be chest day, so you are going to have to find a way to change your workout routines up.

Having gym equipment that is portable and can easily be moved around will allow you to make changes on the fly to get the most out of your gym equipment.

It’s not all about moving things around though within your apartment home gym. You are also going to want things that can be used in a variety of different ways.

Why have 10 different pieces of equipment when you can have one that can do it all for you?

Finding equipment that has multiple uses will allow you to reduce the amount of equipment you need in your home gym, therefore helping you save space.

Finally, the size of your equipment matters as well. While a smith machine is going to cover a ton of different exercises and is one of the best multi-use things out there, asking you to fit that into your apartment home gym is simply unrealistic.

You have to find things that are going to work with the space that you have.

Now that we’ve covered the basics and I’ve given you a good idea of what I look for and what I prioritize in an apartment home gym, why don’t we move on to talking about some actual products that you can add to instantly improve your apartment home gym.

Adjustable Dumbbells

If you plan on working with free weights, I’m not going to beat around the bush here. These are absolutely mandatory for your home gym, and I'd suggest the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells.

While you can get yourself a dumbbell rack, that still takes up a lot of space in the room, and you will find yourself needing heavier dumbbells as you workout more and more.

Having a pair of adjustable dumbbells allows you to customize the weight that you are doing so you can use it for just about every exercise.

Shoulder shrugs? Not a problem. Bicep curls? Easy peasy. When looking for adjustable dumbbells, you want to look for a set that is durable, and allows for a large degree of customization.

I’ve seen some adjustable dumbbells go up to about 90lbs, while most seem to reach up to about 50-60lbs.

You aren’t going to be crushing your personal best bench press at the gym with these adjustable dumbbells, but you are going to be getting a solid workout that is going to help you out.

For an apartment home gym, these will definitely help you cut down on all the clutter and will make it so you only ever need two dumbbells to get the job done.

A Foldable FID Bench

The benches at the gym are known as FID benches and they stand for flat, incline, and decline.

These benches, like the Rogue Fold Up Utility Bench, are great as you are able to use them at a variety of different angles and in a variety of different positions to get your workout done.

What is the problem with these FID benches? They are quite long and will definitely have trouble fitting in your apartment home gym if space is an issue.

Fortunately, there are plenty of foldable FID benches that can collapse and easily be stored in a closet when you are done with your workout.

This way you can wake up in the morning, pull out the bench, crush your sets, and then fold it back up.

If you are ever looking for larger pieces of equipment, having the ability to collapse it and fold it up is essential for an apartment home gym. 

Body Weight Exercises

When it comes to working out in an apartment home gym, nothing beats body weight exercises.

All you need to accomplish this is a yoga mat or some kind of mat that you can use for groundwork to reduce pain. Here are some of my favorite body weight exercises if you are tight on space.

  • Pushups
  • Sit-Ups
  • Burpees
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Shadow Boxing
  • Planks
  • Lunges

There are definitely more body weight exercises that you can do at home, I just thought I would give you a list of some of the ones I regularly do.

If you have low ceilings or are tall, things like burpees and jumping jacks might be a little difficult for you to do, so plan ahead so you don’t end up smacking your head on the ceiling.

Some of the best workouts that you can do require little to no equipment, so take advantage of your body and what it has to offer.

A Pull-Up Bar

A pull-up bar is one of my favorite things to get for an apartment home gym as it takes up no space and can easily be put on any door.

The Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Doorway Pull Up Bar and Portable Gym System is a great example of the simplicity and versatility they provide.

Simply stick it to the top of the door, close the door, and you now have a great place where you can do pull-ups.

These things are incredibly versatile and you can use them in many different ways to get the workout that you are looking for.

While you might be a little worried at first about the bar supporting you, you’ll quickly learn that these things can withstand a lot of weight and will easily be able to support you without damaging your home.

I honestly think the large majority of apartment home gyms I’ve seen have this, so you should definitely add it if you don’t.

An All In One Gym

Some people don’t like having a ton of different pieces of equipment lying around their home and instead want one machine that can help them accomplish their fitness goals.

The Bowflex MaxTrainer M6 is a good, affordable all-in-one gym system that can provide robust workouts in a confined space. 

These are specifically designed for a home gym so they are made to be as small as possible while delivering a large array of exercises and resistances.

I do warn you however, that these can get quite expensive so unless you are looking to take working out seriously, I would steer clear of an all in one home gym.

If you are ready to work however, you can definitely get a great versatile apartment home gym with something like this.

Foldable Cardio Equipment

When you think of stationary bikes and treadmills, you’re probably imagining these large machines just sitting in your apartment taking up all the space.

While this would be true a few years ago, manufacturers such as Rogue, with their Rogue Air AssaultBike, have started to make cardio equipment that folds up and can easily be stored.

Please don’t think you are going to be able to make these things extremely compact and store them away without a problem however.

Bikes and treadmills still generally have screens and important pieces of equipment that cannot be bent.

That being said however, if you can reduce their size footprint by about 50% in your apartment home gym, you are going to have a ton more room for mobility and other exercises.

Closing Thoughts

When it comes to building a great apartment home gym, it is about recognizing the space that you have in front of you, and how you can exploit it to achieve your goals.

It’s never going to be the same experience as lifting heavy weights at a gym, but it can come pretty close if you find the right equipment. 

As I stated earlier, it’s about finding equipment that is portable, can be easily stored, and can be used for a variety of different things.

If you keep all of these things in mind when creating your apartment home gym, you are going to make great use of the space in front of you.

Proper Squat Form: How to Master the Mechanics of Squats

How is your squat technique?

Arguably one of the most important movements in fitness and in life, the squat is an ultimate full body workout- and an easy one to perform incorrectly.

Think about it: every time you reach down to pick something up, sit down and get up again, or bend over to be with your kid or pet, you are performing a squat.

Therefore, being comfortable and strong in this fundamental body position is key to your functional fitness and your overall health.

A simple squat challenges a huge range of muscles in your body- we are talking quads, glutes, hip abductors, caves, hamstrings, back, core, and obliques.

Because it is such an effective compound movement, almost every athlete, no matter their sport or fitness goals, should strive to perfect their squat form.

Personally, my journey to the perfect squat technique is ongoing. It requires increased mobility, patience, consistency, and honestly a bit of a learning curve.

But don’t fear the process, because in today’s article, I am going to walk you through the key elements of this “king of exercise”, the most common concerns people have about their squat form, and some core squat movements to help you master the mechanics of a perfect squat.

What does a perfect squat look like?

Unfortunately, the answer to the questions is not the same for everyone.

Depending on your body’s capabilities, mobility, and the purpose of your training, everyone’s “perfect” squat will look different.

But before I address those differences, let me first go over the core mechanics of a squat that everyone should be working to achieve.

Stable footing

Stable Footing

Before you begin your squat, you want to make sure you are balanced and stable.

Start with your feet positioned slightly wider than your hips. 

Some people, including myself, will find squatting more comfortable when their feet turned outwards slightly (at about a 5 to 20 degree rotation).

This slight rotation will depend on your hip mobility so play around to see what is comfortable).

People who squat comfortably in a wider stance will usually have more of an outward foot rotation in comparison to people who prefer a narrow squat stance. 

Upright body positioning

During the squat, you want to make sure you maintain a neutral upper body. What this means is that you are staying upright, and not bending too far forward or rounding your spine.

A common cue I like to use to keep my chest up is to “show the logo on your t-shirt”. 

Uprigh Body Positioning

Imagine you have a logo on the front of your shirt (and maybe you do) and you want to make sure you are always showing that off to the mirror or whatever is in front of you.

However, you want to make sure you are not overcompensating with this cue, and arching your back, which can also put you at risk of injury. Your goal is to keep your spine neutral. 

Your gaze should be neutral as well, meaning you are not craning your neck up or down during the squat.

Look straight ahead. I like to pick a middle spot on the wall in front of me, and maintain that gaze during my squat movement.

Weight Distribution

Weight Distribution

How your weight is distributed is especially important when you are performing weighted squats.

Essentially, this mechanic of the squat refers to your balance during the movement.

Leaning too far forward to pitch your chest forward, throw you off balance, and put a lot of strain on your back- not ideal when you have a barbell on your back, as this can really put you at risk of injury. 

On the other hand, leaning too far back can throw you off balance as well. You want to find that sweet spot where your weight is equally distributed across your feet.

A lot of “how to” squat guides will tell you to put your weight into your heels, while this can help for people who often fall forward in their squats, having too much weight your heels can create imbalance too.

I like my clients to think of three key points of contact on their feet: the heel, the big toe, and the baby toe. Spread your toes during your squat, as if you are “gripping” the ground with your feet.

Try this with bare feet in your home to get a feel for it. Feeling the floor beneath you can help you achieve proper balance during squats.

Alignment

Alignment in a squat generally focuses on how your knees are tracking during the movement.

Once your foot positioning feels good, you want to sit down and back to begin your squat movement. There are a couple important cues to think about when you are initiating the squat.

Alignment

First, imagine that as you are dropping your weight, you have two strings tied to your body. One is around your hips and is pulling your weight back.

Another is around your knees and is pulling them forward. You want to imagine that these strings are getting pulled on at the same time. This will help keep your body in perfect alignment during squats.

Second, when you are squatting, think about sitting your weight down and between your knees.

I have found this cue particularly useful in my own squat progress, and I kid you not, I still repeat the mantra “sit down and back” on my way to a squat. I find this keeps me balanced and aligned. Give it a try. 

A key part of squat alignment is thinking about your knee positioning in comparison to your feet. To perform a squat with correct form, you want your knees to track over the direction of your feet, not outside of them, and definitely not inside of them.

“Over the toes” is a good guide to make sure that you are protecting your knees during your squat. 

Squat Depth

Squat Depth

Generally, when you squat down, you are either aiming to hit parallel (when your hips are at the same knees as your hips) or break parallel (performing a squat “to depth”, where your hips are in a lower position than your knees). 

Proper squat depth has become a real point of debate in the fitness community. 

Certain “fitness” platforms have even gone so far as to shame athletes for not squatting “ass to grass” (or ATG), deeming any squat that is not significantly breaking parallel to be incorrect. I take a firm stance against this perspective, and here is why…

Firstly, not all people have the mobility to perform ATG squats, or even parallel squats.

Squatting takes a lot of hip and ankle flexibility, and many beginner squats are still improving their range of motion needed to squat to depth. 

Does that mean that a person who can’t squat to depth should just stop squatting altogether? Absolutely not! People should listen to their body, respect their range of motion, and actively work towards improving their depth without straining themselves.

Forcing people to perform ATG squats who do not have the proper mobility to do so can put them at a high risk of injury. 

On the other side of this debate, there are some fitness communities in which squatting below parallel is essential.

For example, in Olympic lifting you are required to perform certain movements with an impeccable below parallel squat. In powerlifting, if you do not perform a squat to depth, your lift will not count in competition.

Meaning, the specifics of how deep someone’s squat is is closely linked to the sport they are training for.

How to achieve proper squat form?

So, you think you have a firm grasp on the mechanics of a squat, and now you want to become a master in proper squat form. Here are some important things to consider.

Mobility

As I mentioned already, the success and depth of your squat is closely tied to how mobile you are.

I also suggest warming up properly before you squat, in order to reduce your risk of injuring yourself. Foam rolling can also help increase your range of motion for squats.

Check your ego

The world of strength training has only become more popular, and more and more people are rushing to the squat rack, ready to push their strength to the limit.

Don’t get me wrong, this drive to be strong is awesome, but boy, if you are not careful, “ego-lifting” can really damage your body, especially when it comes to heavy squats.

Hear me out when I say this: if you cannot correctly perform a bodyweight squat, you are not ready to safely perform a squat with additional weights (barbell, dumbbells, etc).

As I said earlier, squats require patience. If you want to have incredible squat form, you are going to have to be humble enough to start with the basics.  

Don’t neglect your breathing

Proper squat form requires intentional breathing, and this is the final stepping stone to the perfect squat that a lot of people tend to forget.

Get into the habit of taking a deep belly breath (expanding your diaphragm) before you perform your squat.

Having your lungs filled with air during your squat helps to keep your core tight and stable. Breathe out as you come up from your squat.

Be careful about holding your breath, as you don’t want to risk feeling dizzy during the movement.

Simply being more intentional about your breath and coordinating it with your descent and ascent will help make your squats strong and stable.

Don’t get too caught up in the knee over toe debate

When you are researching proper squat form, you might come across some (or a lot) of information that strongly warns against letting your knees track past your toes. Let me debunk this theory for you.

Some people, due to limited mobility, cannot squat while letting their knees go over their toes.

This may be due to past injuries, or it may be that they cannot do so without having other parts of their form breaking down.

They will find themselves arching their back or tipping forward to have their knees past their toes.

This is absolutely when you want to take the advice to not let your knees pass your toes during a squat, because you are putting yourself at risk of injury.

On the other hand, some folks have excellent ankle and hip mobility, and they can comfortably sit upright and in a deep squat with their knees tracking way over their toes.

For these squatters, knee-past-toe squatting is safe. Just watch any top Olympic lifter and you will see that at the bottom of their squat, their knees are absolutely going over their toes, and this is no problem for them.

So, don’t let this debate inhibit your squat progress. It is really based on the individual.

As long as you are performing a squat safely and with proper form, you don’t need to worry about how far your knees are past your toes. 

Look out for knee collapse

This is a common problem for new and experienced squatters alike: the dreaded knee cave, where your knees move towards each other while you are coming up from a squat. 

In all cases, this is considered poor form and puts you at risk of injury. I suggest that people squat in front of a mirror or record themselves squatting to see if this is happening.  

If your knees are collapsing during your squat, reduce or remove any weights you are lifting.

Work on strengthening your hip abductors and glutes with banded glute exercises. Make sure you are always doing glute activation movements before your squats.  

Squat exercises to train proper squat form 

Ready to improve and advance your squat? Here are my favorite squat exercises to increase your overall strength. 

#1. Wall Squat

Wall Squat

Are you new to squatting and don’t know where to start? Give the wall squat a try. The wall squat is a great air squat variation to help perfect your form. 

Place a chair in front of a wall, spaced out enough so that you can comfortably sit down and stand up on that chair without hitting the wall. 

Squat on to the chair and stand up using your lower body muscles and core, not momentum (no cheating!).

The idea of the wall is to prevent you from tipping too far forward; it keeps you in an upright position during the squat. Once you have mastered that, remove the chair and perform an air squat in front of the wall.

Focus on form rather than depth. Note that the close you stand to the wall, the more hip and ankle mobility you will need to keep proper squat form. 

#2. Goblet Squat

Goblet Squat

The goblet squat is the first step to correctly adding weight resistance to your squat. 

Perform this squat by holding a dumbbell, kettlebell, or light plate (that you can easily hold) at chest level (your elbows will be pointing down). 

While keeping the weight in place, sit back and low in your squat. 

Make sure that your upper body does not collapse with this added weight. Stay upright and engage your core. 

Goblet squats can also be an excellent corrective exercise for athletes you find themselves tipping forward during barbell squats.

#3. Deep Squat

Deep Squat

The deep squat is an excellent warm up or mobility movement. Simply sit down in your squat (without adding any weight).

Go as low as you can without breaking form, meaning that your spine stays neutral, your full foot remains on the floor, and your chest is upright.

Sit in this position for as long as you comfortably can, before you come up again. Keep your glutes engaged for the duration of the movement. 

#4. Barbell Squat

Barbell Squat

Once a person has mastered the air squat/bodyweight squat with correct form, you are ready to join the big league of squatting: the barbell squat.

The barbell squat is a core movement in weight training or weight lifting sports. Essentially, it requires you to perform a squat to depth while you are under a barbell loaded with plates. 

The barbell squat can be performed as a front squat or back squat. In a front squat, the bar is held in front of the athlete, balancing over their elbows and on their hands.

This requires advanced upper body and wrist flexibility to be performed correctly, and it is often seen in Crossfit or Olympic weightlifting. 

The back squat is the opposite of this: the barbell is carried on the back of the athlete, either resting on the traps (in high bar positioning) or on the mid-shoulder (in low bar positioning). 

 Barbell squatting is a more advanced squat exercise, so I highly recommend you get advice from a coach when you begin training with a barbell.

This is especially important as you begin to move into lifting heavier weights. Although, the hard work and learning curve is well worth it, as it can be an incredibly empowering experience to sit down and stand back up with a heavy barbell loaded on your back. 

The bottom line 

Squats are an essential movement for the overall health of all people, whether you are looking to become more mobile and strong for everyday life or want to advance in the world of weightlifting sports. 

When performed carefully and correctly, squats help you build muscle, burn calories, increase your core strength, have better balance, and become more flexible.

Better yet, you don’t need any fancy equipment to perform them- squats can be done anywhere and anytime. Why not start training your squat today? 

Home Gym Storage: Organizing Your Workout Space

You all know that I love going to the gym and getting a workout, but as I’ve alluded to in other blog posts, there are definitely days when I’m either tired or lacking the motivation to get out of the house and go to the gym.

In those cases, I don’t write the day off and decide that I’m not going to work, instead I go to my home gym which is filled with many different pieces of equipment that I can use to get my workout done.

There’s a lot more to a gym however than just the equipment that you have in there. While an actual gym has a ton of room and doesn’t really need to worry about any space management, your home on the other hand is going to have plenty of storage issues.

If you don’t keep your space clean and tidy, you are going to quickly find yourself out of storage space.

This is why home gym storage is essential if you plan on working out at home. Before I go over some of the products that I think are the best for gym storage in your own home, I’m going to talk about the benefits of gym storage along with the problems you can run into if you don’t have proper gym storage.

I’m not going to lie, when I first created my home gym, it was great, but it was an absolute mess. What started as a clean and organized area turned into a cluttered disaster.

I was then finding it difficult to even perform basic workouts. Before I could go about finding a solution however, I first had to identify the problem.

I learned that having an adequate amount of gym storage would work and would allow me to get the workouts that I needed.

Let’s talk about some of the major benefits of adding gym storage to your home.

The Benefits of Gym Storage

More Space

If you are using free weights, you probably have several sets of dumbbells. What do you do after you are done working out with them?

By having a dumbbell rack, you can easily just rack your weights up and keep the space clear for more intensive exercises. The same can be said with foldable cardio equipment and benches.

Most people don’t know this, but there are treadmills and bikes that can easily be folded up and then stored in a closet.

This can once again open up room for other exercises and can allow you to easily change the design of your home gym as well.

As soon as I started caring about gym storage, I was able to get more space to do my workouts.

Lower Risk Of Injury

When you are throwing your equipment around and not caring about where things go, it can be very easy for things to either wear down and break slowly over time.

When your equipment starts to break, it can start doing damage to you. By storing things properly, you can help keep them in good shape, which means you’re also going to be getting a lot more shelf life out of them.

Using gym storage also means that you are going to be keeping the floor clear. I’ve seen plenty of weightlifters get injured because they tripped over the dumbbells that were at their feet. Clean it up and store it and you’ll be able to workout without worries.

Creating an Organized Space Conducive To Workouts

Getting a good workout isn’t just about the equipment that you have. You have to be mentally into it also.

If your space is messy and cluttered, you’re not going to get the motivation that you need to push yourself to the next level.

By taking the time to organize your gym, you can create a space that truly feels like your own. Before you know it, you’ll be working out in your gym everyday thanks to the gym storage that you created.

These are just a few of the benefits that you can expect to get if you plan on organizing your workout space with gym storage.

The question remains, how can I go about doing so? Fortunately for you guys, I have a list of some of the best gym storage options for you in your home gym.

Some of these pieces of equipment I own myself, while others I have seen and truly think they can take someone’s home gym to the next level.

If you plan on creating a good home gym, you are going to want to check out these gym storage options.

I’ll dive the sections up as well so you can easily find the storage option that you are looking for.

Plate Storage

Rogue Vertical Plate Tree 2.0 - Best Plate Storage Option

When it comes to working out and hitting the bench press, or any barbell exercise, you are going to need to load it up with plates.

These plates are going to have to be stored somewhere, and I fully recommend you take a look into the Rogue Vertical Plate Tree 2.0 for your gym storage needs.

Rogue and I have always gotten along when it comes to products, and once again they have released a quality product that I love and use in my own home. 

This plate tree works like any other plate tree for gym storage, however there are a few modifications to it that I think take it to the next level.

The first is the fact that it comes with a triangle base that has wheels on it. This makes it easy for you to change where you keep your plates stored.

Don’t like them over in the far corner of your gym? No problem, just slide them over to the other side.

There are three tiers of storage on this baby and you can fit three plates on each side. That should be perfect for your gym storage needs at home.

The tiers are evenly spaced out as well and can store 45lb plates with ease. I love Rogue and they continually deliver with what they have to offer.


York Horizontal Plate Racks - Best Floor Plate Storage Option

Not everyone is a fan of the three tier plate storage system and instead wants gym storage that can work perfectly using the floor.

If you are one of these people, the York Horizontal Plate Rack might be for you.

In terms of sizing, the half set configuration allows you to store one of each plate, while a full configuration allows you to store two of each.

The best part about a horizontal plate rack is the convenience that it provides. 

With a plate tree, you might have to pull off a few heavier weights to get to the smaller weight on the inside of the tree.

With a horizontal plate rack, all you need to do is find the plate that you want to and pull it off. Not only does it make gym storage extremely easy, it makes it fast as well.

Personally, I do prefer the plate trees, but that is not to say that horizontal plate racks are a bad option.

You can’t go wrong with one of these and they will add a nice organized flair to your home gym and create a lot more space for future workouts.


Rogue 24" Wall Storage Stringer - Best Wall Mount Plate Storage Option

The final solution to gym storage in regards to plates is to simply use a wall mount.

Once again, the folks over at Rogue have delivered with a 24” wall storage stringer that you can use to store all of your plates.

Installing it is quite simple as well. You are first going to attach the stringer to the wall, and then from there attach the storage posts that you need.

Typically, I see people opt for a few shorter posts for smaller weights, and then one or two larger posts that are used for their heavy weights.

The benefits to this gym storage option is that it keeps the floor completely clear and you don’t have to worry about bumping into them at all.

I love the look of this storage option as well and people will definitely be commenting on how clean your gym looks as a result. For wall mounted plate storage, this gym storage option is my go to.


Dumbbell Storage

York Professional Dumbbell Racks - Best Overall Dumbbell Storage Option

I know I talk about Rogue a lot, and rightly so, they create fantastic products, but York also has some great products that you can add to your gym, especially if you are looking for gym storage.

When I’m talking about York Professional Dumbbell Racks, I’m not talking about one rack in particular, but the variety of racks that they offer.

You can opt for a standard vertical dumbbell storage tree, or you can look for a horizontal option.

No matter what you are looking for, you can find it with them.

 I have seen many people get these for their homes and I haven’t heard a single complaint from them.

Simply slap it down in your free weight section and start enjoying the pumps you are going to get.


Power Systems Horizontal Dumbbell Rack - Best Large-Scale Dumbbell Storage

Power Systems produces some fantastic gym storage options if you are looking to store a ton of dumbbells.

When comparing the two, I did notice that Power Systems did have more expensive equipment, but most of the time it was because they were able to store a lot more dumbbells.

Their base horizontal rack can store 6 to 9 pairs of dumbbells depending on the weight and their largest gym storage option can hold between 10 and 20 pairs of dumbbells.

That’s a lot of gym storage right there if you ask me.

The other thing that I love about the Power Systems option is that the storage racks are cushioned to help lessen the impact and the noise your weights make when you rack them.

If you are living in an apartment, or in a home where you want to avoid noise, having this will do wonders for you.

You won’t have to worry about disturbing other people in your home, or disturbing neighbors in an apartment with this gym storage option.


Bar Holders

Power Systems Olympic Bar Holder - Best Floor Bar Holder

You’d be amazed at the amount of gyms that just have their Olympic bars just lying around on the floor rolling everywhere.

Not only does that wear them out, it also creates a tripping hazard.

If you are planning on creating a home gym, space is going to be tight so you don’t want to have to worry about things rolling around at your feet.

Power Systems has a great Olympic bar holder that easily allows you to store your bars. With a weighted base to prevent it from tipping over, you can store up to six weight lifting bars.

The PVC inserts in the product as well will help to prevent your bars from getting any damage.

They are extremely accessible when storing them using this method, and I recommend this gym storage option for anyone who plans on using a lot of bars when working out.


Rogue V2 Gun Rack - Best Wall Mounted Bar Holder

While I love what Power Systems has going with the floor mount, I also love the wall mount that Rogue has.

It’s a simple wall mount that when attached, can easily allow you to store 6 Olympic bars (double the capacity of the original Gun Rack) that can be accessed whenever you want.

If you are okay with drilling holes and mounting things on your walls, this is a perfect option, however if you want to keep your walls intact, Power Systems is going to provide you with the best option.


Miscellaneous Gym Storage

Power Systems APEX Cage - Best All Around Gym Storage Option

The Power Systems Apex Cage isn’t made for any particular piece of storage.

The beauty of this thing is that you can put whatever you want into it, and easily roll it around wherever you need.

This is a popular piece of storage equipment for fitness teachers, however you might want to consider it if you have a ton of miscellaneous gym gear that you just want to store away.

The cage is lockable too, meaning you can keep some of the more dangerous equipment out of the hands of children if you have them at your home.

I love the APEX cage for storage and I often use it to store some of my mats or move around a few of my gym plates if I am planning on working out outside.


Body-Solid Foam Roller and Yoga Mat Storage Cart - Best Storage for Mats

For those of you who are into Yoga, mats and foam rollers, you might want to find a way to store all of them together.

This storage kit is great, as I find it easily allows me to put my yoga mats down and easily retrieve them.

There isn’t too much to say about the product other than it slides easily around my home gym and doesn’t damage the floor either.

The Body-Solid storage cart is there when I need it and does it’s job quite well.


Shoe Storage

Whitmor Steel Mesh 3 - Tier Shoe Rack Gunmetal

I’ll admit it, I buy a lot of workout shoes and love wearing different pairs out when I work out each time.

What can get annoying however is storing each of the shoes and being able to find them later.

This is why I decided to get a 3-tier shoe rack for all of my gym footgear.

The 3-tier system allows me to sort them out by activity and it can keep things nice and orderly.

The days of all my shoes being stacked on top of each other in the closet are over thanks to this thing.


How Do I Know What I Need?

I’ve talked about a lot of products here, but the thing that you have to figure out is what you need for your own home gym.

The first thing I would recommend doing is taking a look at the equipment that you have. What pieces of gym storage would work best with your setup?

Some of these gym storage options are a little pricey, so I wouldn’t recommend buying everything on this list unless it is something that you absolutely need.

For example, if you have tons of dumbbells and no plates, you are going to want to focus your time on the dumbbell racks instead of the plate racks.

That being said, a plate rack can also serve as motivation to upgrade your gym and get yourself some new equipment. Spend smart and buy gym storage options that are definitely going to improve your workouts.

Closing Thoughts

No one likes a messy gym. If I walk into the gym I workout at and see a mess, I am instantly turned off.

Having proper storage to put away your equipment not only looks nice, it also makes your equipment last longer, and I know gym equipment ain’t cheap either. Find out what storage options work for you and start setting them up in your home today.

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