Tips to Stay on Track Throughout the Holidays

The Holiday Season is quickly approaching and for many, this will mean a time of stress and over-packed schedules.  Don’t allow yourself to get caught off guard or get off track of a regular workout routine. Here are tips and a plan to help eliminate some of the stressors, and stay on track throughout the holiday season.

  1. Schedule your workouts.

    Whether you work with a personal trainer, go to small group workouts, or train on your own, make sure your workouts are scheduled between now and the New Year.  Treat those workouts as an important appointment for yourself. Even if you have to adjust your workout time to go around holiday parties or gatherings, be sure it is on the calendar!

  2. Take a measurement to hold yourself accountable.

    It may be a good idea get a DEXA Scan done in order to hold yourself accountable throughout the holidays.  Doing one before Thanksgiving and scheduling one right after the New Year will help keep you accountable to continuing with your workouts and maintaining a good nutrition plan.

  3. Practice Moderation.

    It is inevitable that you will be at multiple holiday parties where there will be foods and drinks that don’t align with your nutrition plan.  Moderation will be the key component to not falling off the wagon. Be sure to not skip meals or allow yourself to overindulge. Is it really worth ruining your progress for a holiday season that comes around every year?

  4. Rest.

    This may be a good time to allow your body to get some additional rest.  Ensuring proper rest will allow your body to recover and lower cortisol levels -- aka unwanted stress!

  5. Celebrate!

    The holidays are a time to be surrounded by those you love the most and celebrate another wonderful year coming to an end.  Don’t forget to celebrate with friends, family, and loved ones!


Written By: Megan Osysko

Fat Loss? Do Without HIIT

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a training strategy that integrates short periods of intense exercise with periods of recovery, in rapid succession, until failure or extreme exhaustion. The goal of HIIT is to maximize caloric expenditure while minimizing activity duration. Although activity duration differs, 30 minutes is generally the cap.

Here are two sample workouts:

10-second sprint, 50-second jog

EMOM*, 10 rounds

Jump Squat, Deadlift 80% 1RM, Plank

AMRAP**, EMOM, 10 rounds

*Every Minute On the Minute

**As Many Reps As Possible

This post addresses THREE pitfalls of a weight management program that strictly utilizes HIIT.

1. Sustainability

First and foremost, when starting a new training program, we need to ask ourselves: can we sustain this activity, both physically and mentally, long term? Health and fitness should be a long-term goal, but quite frankly, HIIT does not allow for this. This is because HIIT requires consistent, high-energy output…even under extreme fatigue. High-energy output under extreme fatigue, more often than not, leads to technique breakdown. Consistent (or acute) technique breakdown will (not can, will) present high injury risk, and ultimately, an injury will prevent the individual from continuing to train. For example, how will your deadlift repetitions look on your 10th round in a workout like the one above? Probably not good.

2. Progression

Next, a training program should be progressive and adaptable because the human body is designed to adapt to the stimuli we provide it. This progression should be realistic. With that in mind, if you start with the intensity that HIIT requires your first week, where will you be in week 10? In a year? For example, you start with 10 rounds of sprints like the sample workout above. Second week, you go to 12 rounds, then 15, then 20… then 60…? Yes, every training program will present challenges and plateaus, but is the risk associated with the necessary training effort worth the outcome? If the answer is no, maybe an intervention is required.

3. Practicality

Lastly, a training program should consider an individual’s or group’s overall make-up and goals. Yes, HIIT can burn plenty of calories—but burning as many calories as possible is not an optimal, long-term fat loss strategy. This is especially the case for beginners or individuals with minimal weight training experience. If improving body composition is the goal (getting “toned”), there needs to be a change in mindset. That is, building and maintaining as much muscle and strength is most optimal, and not simply burning calories, as it will not only burn calories but increase one’s Basal Metabolic Rate over the long term, too. Unfortunately, HIIT, in general, does not allow for this, as one can expect to lose almost as much muscle as fat during the process. For example, John Doe, who is skinny-fat, decides to start working out and utilizing HIIT to get rid of belly fat. Burning as many calories as he can each workout, he notices he has lost weight, but he proportionately looks the same (same body composition). Not ideal. Almost always, a strength-training/muscle-building program coupled with a nutrition intervention will work better in this case.

In summary, HIIT can be a short-term training tool for advanced trainees looking to burn fat, as it can help burn more calories than their average workout. However, when combining all of the above reasons, it’s clear that a strength-training program WITH a nutrition intervention will provide better results long-term.

“Quickly come, quickly go.”

Written by: Dawit Girma

Making An Investment In Your Health

Many individuals who want to be an ideal weight, look a certain way, or want to be stronger do not realize the true investment that needs to be made into their health and wellness.  Everyone seems to want the end result, but aren’t willing to commit to building a healthy lifestyle that will be sustainable for the long-term. So many are looking for a quick fix or the next nutritional fad, rather than making an investment to be the best version of themselves.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the “total costs associated with high blood pressure in 2011 in the US were $46 billion in health care services, medications, and missed days of work.”  One way or another, you will end up paying for your health - the question is would you prefer to make that investment on the front end as preventative health care, or on the back end for medications and medical bills?

Changing your life does not come when there is one foot, it comes when you realize that you are sick and tired of being sick and tired.  As I said, there are a some investments that will need to be made to reach your potential with your health and wellness:

  1. Financial Investment

    • Invest in a gym or personal trainer who will help you achieve your goals.  

    • Invest in choosing healthier foods at the store.  This may mean paying extra for fresh produce over the quick and easy drive thru restaurant.

    • Invest in proper supplementation that will give you support towards your nutritional goals.

  2. Time Investment - results do not come overnight, it will take time

    • Time that will take you away from friends and activities that do not align with what you are trying to achieve.

    • Time that will take to go to the gym in order to build strength and lean muscle.

    • Time that will take you to prepare your meals that align with your nutritional goals.

  3. Social Investment

    • Invest in a support system that will help you achieve your goals - which may mean finding new friends.

These may not be statements you want to hear, but they truly are things you need to hear.  We understand that making such a commitment is the most difficult step in the process. Once you recognize the positive changes you can make by cutting out eating out and going to happy hours (both physically and financially), the investment in your health does not seem all that bad.  

The only question left to ask is are you willing to make an investment in your health?


Why Strength Training? Why Bodymass Gym?

Looking to lose fat?

Looking to gain muscle?

Looking to get “toned”?

Did you say yes to any of the three?

If you did, then you said yes to strength training. You said yes to lifting weight. You said yes to Bodymass Gym.

It’s 2018 and slowly but surely, we’re starting to see more people squatting, more people bench pressing, more people deadlifting, and most importantly, more people moving and feeling better.

So, let’s look at why these people are “doing it right” and why strength training is the most optimal approach to achieving the aforementioned goals.

First of all, in my opinion, strength training is NOT synonymous with resistance training. The difference is very small, but yet so large. Once again, in my opinion, resistance training sounds like and implies a random assortment of exercises done to appease someone’s orders. A doctor’s order, a news article, or a commercial telling you that you should “incorporate resistance training in your exercise regimen”. What does that even mean…?

When I read, “resistance training”, I read bands, cables, and machines. I read a lack of supervision, a lack of coaching, and a lack of progress. I read a lack of direction. I read “I’m doing it just to do it”.

On the other hand, in my opinion, strength training is the pursuit of gaining strength (obviously…? goes without saying…?), and implies progress. But most importantly, it implies using free weights (be it dumbbells or barbells) to improve functional movement. It implies proper coaching, proper form, and proper programming and exercise selection.

With Bodymass Build, you get just that: a strength training program that is specifically designed to improve functional movement patterns, to improve body composition, and to build self-confidence. It will challenge you, but it will also empower you.

More specifically, Bodymass Build is a strength training program that runs in four-week cycles, focuses on multi-joint, compound movements, and utilizes fundamental principles of progressive overload and periodization to produce optimal results. Each cycle provides a breath of fresh air and an opportunity to learn new movements, while maintaining the ultimate goal of full-body strength.

That said, with full-body strength as the goal, Bodymass Gym members can expect to build muscle and to burn fat as a byproduct. This is mainly due to two reasons: getting stronger will require building more muscle and getting stronger will require more work, work that will burn plenty of calories. And the best way to build muscle is to get stronger at using movements that utilize most the amounts of muscle: multi-joint, compound movements. And you guessed it… the best way to burn fat is to do movements that require the most amount of work: multi-joint, compound movements.

This, alone, is why strength training trumps yoga, spin, pilates, boot camp, HIIT, and the like. That is not to say these training methods (I don’t know if I’d really call them training methods, more so classes, but that’s besides the point) do not hold merit, that they should not be done, or that they are not fun, but they just are not the most optimal options when building muscle and losing fat is the goal. They also do not provide the same level of incremental and “trackable” progress that strength training provides, which makes it difficult to continue doing over a long period of time.

Ultimately, there is no magic bullet and there is no secret. Building muscle and losing fat, or getting “toned” (because that is what getting toned means), is a byproduct of training properly and consistently over a long period of time. And our goal at Bodymass Gym is to provide you with the tools to do just that: train properly and consistently over a long period of time.


Written By: Dawit Girma

Train to Get Strong. Eat to Get Lean.

All too often people try to use exercise as a way to validate eating whatever they want.... “I just burned 500 calories in my HIIT class, so I can go enjoy brunch now”.  This justification won’t result in progress, and in fact derails progress.

Unfortunately, our environment has shaped us to think that way.  It is important to create a mindset that allows you to feel empowered and proud of how far you have come in your strength training program.

Training allows you to get strong, feel powerful, be motivated, and create muscle. Nutrition allows you to alter your body composition and fuel your training regimen. They go hand in hand. 

Not sure where to start or feeling like you have hit a plateau? A DEXA Scan will give you a better idea as far as how much fat vs. lean muscle you have. On the nutrition end, the best place to start it by tracking your food intake for 3 days. This will highlight any red flags, and allow you to see where you can make some simple switches. 

If you have questions, reach out to a professional who can provide guidance, education, and help you change your mindset that may be holding you back from your next break through.


Written by: Megan Osysko

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The Importance of Rest Days

Many of us find that quantity over quality or the no days off attitude is the only way to go to get the most out of your workout or training program.  Rest and recovery is an important step that is often not taken seriously in the process of re-building muscle.  If you put constant wear and tear on your body and muscles with no time to recover, you will eventually hit a plateau or decrease in performance – also known as, overtraining.  Overtraining is the excessive frequency, volume, or intensity of training that results in extreme fatigue, illness, or injury.

If you have a hard time just giving yourself days of doing absolutely nothing, here are some ideas on how to off-load for a few days or week without feeling guilty:

  • decrease the amount of sets or reps for each exercise
  • use a lighter weight for each exercise
  • increase the rest periods
  • decrease the number of training days/week
  • decrease the time under tension
  • have a fun workout – try something you normally wouldn’t have before
  • get other things done – organize, clean, help a friend out
  • eat, sleep & RECOVER!

Five Ways to Improve Lower Body Strength and Power

Much of the power you generate as an athlete comes from your lower body.  No matter if you are running, jumping, sprinting, tackling or even golfing, your big muscles (quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings) are what fuel that power and energy.  If you want to get faster and stronger — build stronger leg muscles.

Five Ways to Improve Lower Body Strength and Power:

  1. Perform more squats. Squats are one of the most efficient ways to improve lower extremity power.  Utilize the goblet squat using a dumbbell or kettlebell, or a back squat, front squat or overhead squat using a barbell. Be sure when performing squats to keep your chest and chin up. Drop your hips back and down to where your thighs are at least parallel with the ground.
  2. Remember the deadlift. The deadlift is a great way to strengthen your lower body and can be performed either using a dumbbell, barbell, or trap bar. Just like the squat, keep your chest and chin up, drop your hips back and down to where your thighs are at least parallel to the ground. Be careful to not bend at the waist to cause unnecessary pressure on the lower back.
  3. Don’t forget about your hamstrings. When wanting to build lower body strength and power, it is very important to remember not to ignore your posterior chain (hamstrings and lower back).  Having a muscle imbalance from the front to the back can cause a higher risk of injury to the athlete. Performing the glute-ham raise, Romanian deadlift, Physioball hamstring curls, back extensions, or hip extensions.
  4. Get off your feet. To help improve vertical jump and power, follow your knee dominant exercise with an explosive movement that complements the exercise just performed. For example, squat jumps, split squat jumps, and single leg squat jumps.
  5. Find Balance with Single Leg Exercises. Everyone has a dominant side; therefore, performing single leg exercises allows it not to hide. It is also a great way to improve balance and stability. Single-leg, knee dominant exercises are stepups and single leg squats. Single leg hip dominant exercises are single-leg Romanian deadlifts, hamstring curls, and hip extensions.

Be sure to work within the recommended amounts of sets and reps depending on your training goals.  Most athletes will work within the Muscular Strength and Muscular Hypertrophy range in order to build power and strength.

Muscle Strength: Heavy weight, 4 sets 5 reps

Muscular Hypertrophy:  Moderate to heavy weight, 3 sets 10 reps

Muscular Endurance: Light to moderate weight, 2 sets of 15 reps

Stay Hydrated this Summer!

Dehydration is one of the leading causes of a drop off in daily performance.  Proper hydration and electrolyte balance is necessary for every individual to perform at their highest level.  Electrolyte replaced plays a key role in staying hydrated as well, especially during intense activity and during the hot summer months.  Electrolytes are the various types of salts in our body fluids that play a key role in physiology (function) of performance.  If not properly hydrated, fatigue, muscle cramps, dizziness or more serious symptoms can set in very quickly.

Factors to be considered when dealing with dehydration:

  • sweat rate
  • heat
  • humidity
  • exercise intensity
  • duration of activity

The American Council of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines for staying hydrated before, during, and after an activity are as follows:

  1. Drink at least 17-20 oz. of water 2-3 hours before activity.
  2. Drink at least 8 oz. of water 20-30 minutes prior to activity or during your warm up.
  3. Drink at least 7-10 oz. of water every 10-20 minutes during activity.
  4. Drink at least 8 oz. no more than 30 minutes following activity.

Although everyone is different and will react a specific way in certain conditions, it is important to always be prepared and properly hydrated.  Drink water before you begin to get thirsty.  For exercise longer than 1 hour, one should begin consuming electrolytes, primarily sodium. This can be in the form of a food or drink with at least 250 mg of sodium per 0.5 liter (or about 100 mg per 8 ounces).  Keep a water bottle filled with you at all times throughout your day and don’t let dehydration be a factor in your upcoming athletic event!