Secrets to Weight Loss
Zach Even-Esh: Craig, thanks for taking the time out of your insane schedule to talk with us. Tell us a little bit about yourself, your clientele and your overall training philosophy.
Zach, I'm a Strength & Conditioning coach in Toronto and I write for Men's Fitness magazine. I work extensively with clients on advanced fat loss and muscle building and with young athletes.
ZEE: We have a growing number of hard core corporate / executive members on our site. They are leading busy lives running their own business or managing companies but they love to train hard, except they need to do so with short intestinal work outs. How do you train individuals like this and still get kick ass results?
I use supersets, moderately heavy weights (allowing 6-10 reps per set), limited rest interval periods, advanced bodyweight exercises, and interval training. These efficient and effective principals are the foundation of my Training philosophy.
These workouts are designed to crank up the body's metabolism because of the intense demands imposed during the workouts.
After the workout, your body has to work hard (ie burn calories and repair muscle) to fully recover and return to a normal, resting state (that is why I compare Training workouts to the Turbulence encountered in an airplane – a neat little analogy that the magazines really love).
I tend to stick with traditional weight training exercises, however, it is easy to adapt the training principles when using strongman implements and advanced bodyweight exercises.
For interviews, I tend to stick with 30 seconds of work and 90 seconds of active recovery, although it will vary between workout formulas and for athletes of different sports.
The great thing about heavy weights and intervals is efficiency. You do not have to do either for more than 20 minutes to get a great response. So if you are a busy executive looking to get lean, build muscle, and lose fat, you can get a great workout and shower in less than 30 minutes per day. Combine Training with the right nutrition, and you are well on your way to success.
ZEE: You're known for using training not just for getting people to look better, but for greater performance with your athletes. How do you incorporate TT with your athletes?
This system is like the Conjugate System used by Westside. You are able to modify the specific details so that anyone can use the general principles. You just have to modify the workouts based on the goals and current condition of the individual.
I will modify the traditional fat Loss workouts for athletes by adding supersets of Athletic Movement Training (my terms for a dynamic flexibility and warm-up), and then making sure that the training training component focuses on the posterior chain (ie glute ham raises, wide-stance squats, RDL's, etc.).
Then we will modify the interval training so that it is sport-specific (I believe that condition is the only training method that we can give the term, "sport-specific").
ZEE: If you were limited to a 20 minute work out with an executive client, what would work out look like? Take us through a work out here.
Providing the individual is injury free, we will move through a general warm-up circuit of bodyweight exercises (3 minutes), and then into specific warm-up sets for the first superset of exercises (2 minutes).
Then we will spend 5 minutes on the first superset pair of exercises, and then 4-5 minutes on another superset pair. We may finish with a third superset pair or some ab work, and a 2 minute cool-down if it is necessary based on the individual's fitness level.
On non-weight training days, we would do intervals. It would look like this:
12-minutes on intervals
Flexibility and mobility would be addressed on the client's own time or in a separate session. Typically, there is a great amount of mobility developed from the exercise selection on training days.
ZEE: With regards to nutrition playing a role in how a person looks and performs, do you help guide your clients in a specific direction with what they should / should not do in this realm?
I like to mash up a variety of nutritional expert's advice into my own approach.
It's mostly a John Berardi-based approach, but I might not be as picky as he is with certain meals. Basically, I start with 200-250g of protein per day for a man (depending on size) and then go with 30% fat and then the reminder is carbohydrate.
Then I split that up into 8 meals preferably (6 for busy people, but no less). I think it is important to have, as Berardi recommends, a serving of high-fiber, high-nutrient vegetables with each meal. If you have a high-fiber diet, you will control your appetite and blood sugar.
I do not think that people need to exclude fruit from their eating (in fact we should aim to eat at least 3 servings, and preferably berries, grapefruits, apples, and oranges), but instead we should avoid white, processed carbohydrates from a bag or a box.
Foods that should be in every healthy person's nutrition plan:
A variety of lean protein sources
Basically, for nutrition, just choose healthy, whole natural food.
ZEE: Last question Craig. What is the greatest misconception that you find people to have when it comes to performing better and looking better when they come to you. In other words, they tell you everything they have been doing in hopes of getting results but the results simply are not there. Are there any common mistakes going on here?
Most of the time I try and get people to be honest with themselves and realize they have to change things if they want to improve.
A lot of people really just want me to approve their current workout (when it is clearly not working). But in reality, they have to change their workouts drastically to finally get results.
And most people think they are eating better and using a better program than they really are.
Even when most people they list out their food intake (as I have them all do on fitday.com), some people (including some trainers that I train) still do not see the obvious problems in their diet.
I suppose it is human nature not to see our own shortcomings, so it is helpful to have a professional review your training and nutrition or even an honest, knowledgeable friend.