Posted by Tony Montgomery under General  Weight Lifting  Training  on May 30 2015

Training will beat you down, especially if you’re training hard and no matter how good your sleep, nutrition and programming is there will come a point in time were you need to take a deload to restore your CNS and the accumulation of muscle fatigue. Deload is a mental and physical break from training to allow your body a few days to a week to recover and restore to continue your training at a high level.
A proper deload will allow you to advance in training if done properly, which seems to be different for each person. Some people will reload with light weight and volume others, will just do 50% of competition lifts with zero accessories, and some go heavy. Finding the proper way to deload will take time but knowing the reason behind a delaod.
Are deloads even necessary? It varies from person to person and on how their competition cycles are planned out. If you compete often and deload the week prior to a contest then you probably don’t need to take on in your training. If you are training in a conjugated style where the exercises and intensities are changed weekly the need for a deload is less likely due to the amount of variety in the exercise selection. Training a more periodized approach with a steady stream of volume of the competition lifts a deload may be required more often, every 4-8 weeks depending on the person. These all vary from person to person so setting a deadline to deload is not a good idea either as an individual trains and learns their body the ability to pinpoint exactly when to throw it in will be easier and easier but I am not a fan of saying you have to deload every 4 weeks no matter what. i am a big believer in the more volume a person can handle the better they will become, but to much volume can lead to overtraining, overuse, and injury so it is very individual.
A few signs to look for that may tell you when it’s time to deload are lack of enthusiasm going into the gym, taking longer and longer to recover, getting sick when you never do, can’t sleep, elevated resting heart rate, these are just a few signs to look for. When you training a few things happen you breakdown your muscles over and over again which accumulates a lot of fatigue and stress. You constantly tax your CNS which may take anywhere from 1-2 weeks to fully recover from. The accumulation of these two things is what leads to overtraining and if you continue to train in this state your performance will suffer and injury is right around the corner.
So if accumulation of fatigue through volume is a reason to take a deload why would you do volume to rest and recover. I understand that its lighter weight but muscle fatigue is muscle fatigue so dump the volume training in half of a normal training week. Next if heavy weights wrecks havoc on your CNS maybe its a good idea to stay below the 90% threshold when deloading as well. The next thing you want to account for is a reconditioning affect of fitness from a lackluster deload. I hear all the time I took a deload and came back and felt worst, like I forgot how to lift. This is due to the fact that the person didn’t lift heavy enough they just went into the gym did the normal 50% of the big 3 lifts and called it a day. Even one small week of this can decondition you enough to make the deload a detrimental thing more than a helpful thing. So keeping the intensity around 70-90% is a great idea so detraining doesn’t occur.
The way to deload so training can improve through supercomposition is to drop volume significantly and to lower intensity to 70-90%. Here is an example week:
The first half of the week keep the intensity somewhat high
Sunday- Off
Squat - 3 sets of 3 at 80%
Pause Squat- 2 sets of 2 at 80% of 1rm Pause Squat
Band God Mornings- 2 sets of 10 reps
Pause Bench Press- 3 sets of 3 at 85%
Close Grip BP- 2 sets of 3 at 75%
DB Side Raises- 2 sets of 8 reps
DB Hammer Curls- 2 sets of 8 reps
Wednesday- Off
The second half of the week drop intensity and volume a bit more
Deadlifts- 2 sets of 2 at 75%
Front Squat- 2 sets of 3 at 70%
Sled Walks- Active Recovery 3-4 sets of 50’
Pause Bench Press- 3 Sets of 2 at 70%
Wide Grip BP- 2 sets of 3 at 65%
DB Flyes- 2 sets of 8
Sled Rows- Active recovery 3-4 sets of 50’
Saturday- Off
This will vary from person to person depending on your training styles and how your program is set up week to week. The biggest takeaways are:

  • Lower Volume Significantly
  • Slightly decrease Intensity
  • Do enough to allow for recovery but not to little to decondition
  • Listen to your body and constantly tune things in
  • Don’t set deloads, take them when you need to

Posted by Tony Montgomery under General  on May 30 2015

My life is my message. - Mahatma Gandhi

The art of living by your own rules comes down to knowing who you are and being secure and happy about it. You only live one life and its short and it flies by so wasting it on being someone your not or trying to please other people is an ill faded way to live. Your life is your message it has to be your message why else are you here, its not as if you have a spare. Start living it the way you want to and you’ll be amazed by what it will attract.
Sometimes it takes a tragic event to realize it, like the passing of a loved one or for me going over seas and waking up with a few less friends and sometimes just a meaningless event but it meant something to you, such as a break up or an epiphany of such. In life there will be a ton of these moments hopefully some less tragic than others but these moments aren’t necessarily what defines you , but more so how you react to those moments. By knowing yourself and being yourself you will be able to handle and process life much better.
As I sit here writing this at a crossroads in my life, I just sit back and think what will make me happy and what can I do to leave behind something meaningful. A life without meaning or purpose isn’t much of a life, but by setting your own rules and following your passion it will start to bring meaning to it. You can’t help what others think of you, so just be you. Find whats inside you and what your purpose is and pursue it with everything you have because at the end of the day its your life, be happy with it and do something special!!
Be you and enjoy the shit out of it!!

Posted by Tony Montgomery under Training  on May 20 2015

The ability to recover fast from workouts is key to continuing to make gains and grow week to week. Recovery is not only how well you recover day to day, but also you ability to withstand more and more on a week to week basis as you up the intensity, frequency, and volume. Some key factors to aid in recovery are:

           •         Sleep
           •         Proper Programming
           •         Nutrition
           •         Restoration Protocol
           •         Ergogenic Aids/Supplements
           •         Managing Stress
Sleep is extremely important in that it helps your body regulate back to normal functions, it helps reset and bring down stress levels aka cortisol, helps with GH release, and adapt to the training stimulus. 8-10 hours is ideal for an athlete along with 15-20 min power naps throughout the day. You want to keep the naps short in duration as a longer nap will stimulate sleep inertia, which is a period after the nap that impairs performance and alertness.
Researcher Cheri Mah of the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory has studied the effects of sleep and athletic performance. Mah noted that sleep is a “significant factor in achieving peak athletic performance.” Mah continued that many athletes accumulate a large sleep debt by not obtaining their required nightly sleep, which can have a negative effects on cognitive functioning, mood, and reaction time. Not surprisingly though, Mah’s suggested that the “negative effects can be minimized or eliminated by prioritizing sleep in general and, more specifically, obtaining extra sleep aka naps to reduce one’s sleep debt.” This sleep debt can’t be made up with one good night of sleep it takes weeks to turn it back around.
“After sleep deprivation, plasma cortisol levels were higher the next day by 37% and 45% increase and the onset of the quiescent period of cortisol secretion was delayed by at least 1 hour.” As stated in a study by the Journal of Sleep Research & Sleep Medicine, Vol 20. You put your body through so much stress daily that night time is when you need to relax and reset your cortisol.
A few simple things to improve sleep are blackout curtains which you can get at Walmart, removing all electronics from your room, having a bedtime routine routine, staying away from TV or loud action packed things that will elevate your heart rate, read a book that doesn’t get your mind racing, and a little meditation which is invaluable in and of itself.
Proper programming is huge in your ability to recover from a day to day perspective. To much volume and intensity and you’ll lead to overtraining, injury, and to much fatigue which will all lead to a decrease in performance. The ability to understand programming and waving intensities and volume to allow for proper recover in bet training days is huge to progressing forward. Not going to failure everyday is very important as well, failure training can be ok if implemented right but when it comes to your main lifts failure should never be an option. Planning out your days and weeks based on wave loading principals is a great way to allow for proper recover. An example of this would be to have a hypertrophy day where nothing is taking above a RPE of 7, followed up with a heavy day where the RPE is an 8 but with no missed reps so a technical RPE 8 not a grinder, follow that up with some more dynamic movements learning to move weight fast and controlled with a RPE 6. Waving your days or sessions like this will help auto regulate in a way your intensity and volume to allow for proper recovery.
Nutrition is a component in recovery and sports for that matter that is often overlooked. Some will go with the war on carbs, or eat whatever I can, or intermittent fasting, etc.. The key with nutrition is knowing why and what it is used for and the benefits of everything you put into your body. Workouts will deplete your body and the best way to refill it is by eating carbohydrates around your workout. Workouts also breakdown muscle tissue and if not fueled with enough protein they won’t recover properly. Workouts also build up cortisol and can cause havoc on your joints and hormones, so eating your fats throughout the day will help bring everything back to a normal status. Gaining to much fat will also slow down recover as it is not optimal for your body to be to fat or to lean. The biggest key to improvement in recovery and performance from a nutrition stand point is to
           •         Almost never be in an extended calorie deficit
           •         Don’t skip any of the macros
           •         Eat the right amount of protein for your bodyweight
           •         Time your carbohydrates around your workouts
Having a recovery/restoration protocol in place will do wonders for your body, mind, and spirit. When all 3 of those are in perfect harmony great things can happen on the platform or in the gym. This is also often overlooked in its importance to an athlete. It starts with a proper warm up before the workout, nothing crazy just something to get the blood flowing. An example would be:
5 minutes on bike
5 minutes pulling a sled
10 minutes of a dynamic warm up
Possible Effects of an Active Warm Up
           •         Increased resistance of muscle and joints
           •         Increased release of oxygen from hemoglobin and myoglobin
           •         Increased rate of metabolic reactions
           •         Increased nerve conduction rate
           •         Increased blood flow to muscles
           •         Increased speed and force of muscle contractions
           •         Increased baselineoxygcen consumption
*Bishop, D. Warm up II: performance changes following active warm up and how to structure the warm up. Sports Med 33:483-498, 2003
Make sure the dynamic warm up is in conjunction with the exercises that will be lifted that day and try to avoid a lot of foam rolling and static stretching at this time. As this has been shown to decrease performance.
A cool down is just as important as a warm up. It will allow your body to get blood flowing for muscle repair, discard waste, and to replenish energy in a less intensive manner that will help start the recovery process at a rapid pace.  A cool down is a great time to also work on flexibility with some light static stretching and a light massage with either a foam roller or barbell.
After the workout is done and leading into the next workout things such as massage, hot/cold therapy, sauna and muscle stimulation can all be used to help with the day in and day out recovery process. All these modalities are great for restoration, stress relief, reduction of anxiety, tension, stress, and depression; improves mood, and an increase in well being.*My good friend Jesse Burdock always tells me recover harder than you train and he was right as usual.
*Weinber, R.  A. Jackson, and K. Kolodny, The relationship of massage and exercise to mood enhancement. Sports Psychol 2:202-211 1988
Ergogenic aids and supplements can also play a big role in recovery. The use of steroids has a huge role in the recovery process, but also can have some side affects so always consult with a Dr. before taking anything of that nature. Supplements can also aid in recovery, whether it be in the form of a sleep aid or the form of a peri workout drink. Sleep aids can help you get deeper and fuller sleep which as stated above is an awesome way to promote recovery. Periworkout drinks can also help in several ways but the 2 most important is the blunting of muscle breakdown during the workout and the increase in protein synthesis post workout. Drinking a fast digesting carb and whey protein mixed with some bcaa’s will do the trick in helping you power through a workout with better energy and it will help diminish the catabolic effect of a hard workout on the muscles.
A ratio of 4:1 carbohydrates to protein is an ideal ratio for the periworkout shake. So if you consume 25g of protein you’ll consume 100g of carbohydrates. Not only will this rink help with muscle repair, insulin spike, gh release, it will increase your work capacity during the training session.*
*Ivy, J. and R. Portman, The future of sports nutrition: Nutrient timing. North Bergen, NJ: Basic Health; 2004
Stress management is a component of recovery that nobody talks about. Life will always be there it will have ups and downs and being able to manage that will help performance improve tremendously. Ways of coping with stress will be different for everyone, but some recommended ways to deal with it is from meditation, reading, breathing, massage, exercise and writing.
Stress is simply the body's response to changes that create taxing demands. There are 2 types of stress Eustress which is positive and distress which is negative. Distress is always going to be around learning to cope with it will allow you to keep moving forward in training and in life. Stress prevention is basically about cultivating a balanced perspective towards one's life and place within the world. Generally speaking, the following steps will allow people to reduce stress:
           ?         becoming aware of what true needs are and are not
           ?         understanding how to meet true needs (rejecting mere wishes masquerading as true needs)
           ?         becoming able to resist being exploited or manipulated by other people
Efforts to clarify values, ambitions and social boundaries; to become aware of physical limitations and meet basic needs; to recognize and fend off interpersonal exploitation and invasion; and to cultivate a positive, optimistic and emotionally resilient attitude towards life are all important aspects of developing this perspective.*
*Harry Mills, Ph.D., Natalie Reiss, Ph.D. and Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.
Taking your recovery to the next step will help take your performance to the next level.

Posted by Tony Montgomery under General  on May 18 2015

“There is timing in the whole life of the warrior, in his thriving and declining, in his harmony and discord. Similarly, there is timing in the Way of the merchant, in the rise and fall of capital. All things entail rising and falling timing. You must be able to discern this.”
-Miyamoto Musashi
I have been blessed with a lot in my life and I've been lucky to be in the right time at the right place. The windows of opportunity in life are short and they close fast but the more I know and the more I learn the longer they stay open for. I'm a big believer in hard work and knowing oneself creates luck, but the key to being lucky so to speak is the ability to take action and to persist towards that action with such vigor and determination that you can't be stopped. I've done this in the Marines, owning my own gym, moving across the country to learn from the best, and now my pursuit back into to school and to the top of my sport.
My passion is strength training and nutrition and I've spent the past 8 years of my life entrenched in the gym, the books, and the minds of other greats. The time I've put into this has cost me a few things in my life but has also garnered me with so many tremendous opportunities that I wouldn't change a thing. The work ethic and goal setting is what creates perfect timing and luck, not some magic force that feels the need to let you catch a break. If you wait on the lottery to solve all your problems, you will quickly see your life and joy of living pass you by.
Life is definitely a rollercoaster but if you have a path set forth then its easier to stay on a ride, because at the end of the day the payoff is always bigger than the sacrifice. There is a lot going on in my life now that could have derailed me so many times over the last month but with my goals in mind and the support and guidance from the people closest to me I have been able to keep on striving and chugging along to my goals.
Like the quote says all things entail rising and falling, good and bad but having the knowledge and wherewithal to see it and ride it out will allow you to conquer so much more. So never let life get in the way of your goals and your dreams because the day you do that is the day you become a slave to it.

Posted by Tony Montgomery under Diet  Weight Loss  Nutrition  on May 12 2015

Dieting is a hard endeavor and it is extremely frustrating at times. You want to see the scale move down and you want it to move down fast. When you are doing everything right and it still doesn't go down you start to second guess why the hell am I doing this. So you lower the calories a little more and you add in some more cardio and a week later still nothing. What is going on here?
Once you start a diet and you begin a calorie deficit, because lets face it the 2 ways to lose weight is to consume less or exercise more, your body starts to immediately work against to maintain status quo or homeostasis. Your body likes it were it is and doesn't want to help you in your goal to lose weight. Once the diet starts your testosterone will drop, your metabolic rate will start to slow and your body will send all kinds of useless signals to you that it is starving and you need to eat more.
After a period of time your body pretty much fights so hard that you start to plateau as stated in the first chapter. So what do you do? Add more cardio? Lift more weights? Lower calories even more? All these can possibly get you back on track or they can create a more stressful environment for your body and stress creates cortisol and with high levels of cortisol floating around it becomes a real pain in the ass to lose weight.
The answer is to eat more!!! And more specifically eat more carbs!! I know you like the sound of that. The refeed day is a one day a a week high carb, extremely low fat day that will help balance your body and to let it know you're not starving and are not going to die and that its ok to let go of some more body fat. This will also help the uptick of leptin, why is that important for people trying to lose weight. Martin Berkhan describes leptin in an article
"In the long-term, leptin is regulated by total amount of fat mass. A drop in leptin affects the other hormones negatively and vice versa. Low leptin leads to an increase in hunger and a decrease in metabolic rate, much like high leptin leads to a decrease in hunger and an increase in metabolic rate." So as you're dieting and getting leaner your leptin drops which drops your metabolic rate and makes you hungry. The refeed day is a great way to boost leptin and to allow your body to start dropping fat again.
These refeeds are only for people who have been dieting for an extended period of time and who have become somewhat lean, so don't start this on day one of your diet. The way I like to approach these days is to have half your carbs be from starchy sources and the other half be from extremely low fat sugary sources such as cereal, fat free frozen yogurts, low fat baked goods, pancakes, etc... You also want to make sure that you are in a calorie surplus as well. So lets say you have 100g of carbs on the regular diet, on the reseed days I would bump it to 300g and if you make progress on the scale the next week bump it up a little more. I also recommend doing the refeed on training days as well.
Try this out if your diet is plateauing and let me know what you think.