Most of the things we put out are for everyone; young, old, new to working out, or a weathered vet. Not today – I’m tired. Tired of hearing excuses from men about why they aren’t hitting their goals, having great energy on a daily basis, or why they can’t lose their dad bod. If you have the first ingredient complete – the fitness component, it’s time for the (not so) secret sauce – your nutrition.
The 4 Rules of Male Nutrition
Stop relying on your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, or chipotle to cook for you. Take it into your own hands and stop the excuses. When we were hunter gathers, sure we would go kill some shit and bring it back to the village for the women to cook. Unless your name is Cameron Hanes and you actually are killing quadrupeds to put on the table, your buying you’re food from a grocery store. It’s not that hard and likely you still aren’t even doing that. The least you can do is cook it up for yourself and/or your family.
Take the primary role in your and your family’s nutrition. Cooking for yourself is an amazing gift that you can give your body and your family. Take responsibility that you all are properly fed with nutritious ingredients, giving the gift of health, energy, and eventually, amazing meals. If you don’t currently cook, start by cooking once a week. Then add in another day. And another. Soon, you’ll be cooking the majority of what goes into your body. Don’t be too hard on yourself either – if this is something you never learned how to do, search some recipes and start experimenting. You’re going to fuck up a lot of meals before you get the hang of this shit. Use the internet, but don’t be too egocentric to ask for help from the women in your life who have likely been doing this for longer. Your mom, wife/girlfriend, or other lady friend will be stoked to share her two cents with you. Plus, if I were single, cooking together, then eventually cooking for her, would be a solid date night.
You aren’t a 100-lb woman, so don’t eat like one. Once you start cooking for yourself – with real and quality ingredients, you’ll quickly realize that brown rice, vegetables, and braised chicken breast really don’t add up to that many calories. The days of getting too many calories when you are cooking for yourself are likely over – now we need to ensure we are getting enough nutrition to support our muscle mass, energy output, and hormonal demands.
Ensure you are getting enough nutrients by keeping a food log for a few days (MyFitnessPal is easiest). Protein, the alpha male’s favorite macronutrient, is important, but doesn’t replace fats and carbohydrates. Fats are going to ensure proper cell health, transportation of vitamins, and energy. Carbohydrates will give us the immediate energy to lift heavy and train hard. Don’t overemphasize protein. Yes, it’ll aid in muscle repair and building, but is only vital in usable quantities.
Food is Fuel
You wouldn’t put E-85 ethanol in your diesel truck, so stop putting shit fuel in your body. Quality nutrients are like an octane booster to our male health. They will give us more energy – allowing us to work harder at the gym and at home for our family. They will also improve our hormonal health and provide a natural alternative to testosterone therapy. Occasionally, we can look at food as a pleasurable item – but reserve this for date night, special occasions, or Sunday football with the boys.
Balance Your Shit
Looking at everything you just read can be overwhelming. Balance is key! I want you to cook the majority of your meals – but don’t miss out on lunch when the boss is in town because you meal prepped for the week or skip chips and guac at Taco Tuesday because it doesn’t fit your macros. Make this work for you and make it a lifestyle. We aren’t doing this to look good for the wedding, we are doing this to be healthy, to get after it in the gym, crush your work to do list, live to see your kids (human or dog) grow older, and be the best man we can be. Oh, and being the most ripped dude at the 4th of July beach party doesn’t hurt either.
The first question I ask new athletes when I meet them whether they are more comfortable in a group setting or one on one. Although ultimately, I am going to prescribe what I think is best for them, getting to know their comfort level immediately will jump start the process of getting them amazing results.
The reality is, some people thrive in classes and others in a group environment. Some do great with a little bit of both. It all depends on you, your personality, and your goals.
Personal Training is great for:
Group Classes are great for:
A combination of both are great for:
There is no right answer to which of the above is best, it’s about what is best for you. Try PT, try group classes, try a little bit of both, and see which is going to be best for you to get the results you desire!
Almost every person who walks through the door of Aspire has one of two primary goals when it comes to their bodies – they either want to get smaller or they want to get bigger.
Regardless of which end of the spectrum your goal is, there are two things you need to be doing in order to look good naked be healthy and achieve the body you desire.
#1 – Strength Train
Yup, to both “get smaller” and “get bigger” we want to strength train to change our body composition and influence our muscle tissue.
Let’s first define strength training for this current topic as multi-joint exercises using high load and low volume AKA squatting, deadlifting, and pressing heavy shit for just a few reps.
Secondly, let’s dig deeper into the goals of “getting smaller” and “getting bigger.” 99.9% of individuals that are looking to get smaller need to lose body fat. Fat is their issue and not muscle mass. So, we need to create a program that helps them decrease fat as rapidly as possible.
Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your goals) strength training with heavy loads and low volume doesn’t make muscle grow. Strength training has benefits (next paragraph) that aid in both muscle growth and fat burning, but those reps alone won’t help the tissue grow. Instead, these low reps and high load movements increase the strength of the muscle fibers and do not cause expansion of the muscle fiber itself. Growth will occur in higher rep ranges along with proper nutrition and caloric needs.
Strength training will increase muscle building and fat burning anabolic hormones like testosterone, HGH, and HCG. It will allow you to preserve muscle while eating at a caloric deficit, also allowing for caloric needs to be increased throughout the day due to repair and maintenance of muscle tissue. More calories being burned = higher metabolic rate AKA metabolism with an end result of burning fat.
To use these hormones to shrink or grow your body, you will now need to assess your nutrition.
#2 – Eat in appropriate quantities
To reach your goals, you probably don’t need a fancy, regimented, or strict diet scheme. You need to eat appropriate quantities of calories in proper macronutrient ratios – for your goals, not anyone else’s!
Calories can be fairly simple:
Lose Weight = Calorie Deficit
Maintain Weight = Calorie Needs
Gain Weight = Calorie Surplus
Don’t make it much more complicated than this. If you want to lose body fat you need to be at a calorie deficit and if you want to gain muscle you need to be at a calorie surplus. Yes, you can gain muscle at a calorie surplus – but don’t worry about that right now, keep things simple. You also need to eat proper macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fat) to support your goals. You can begin to determine what you need by logging your food and beginning to experiment with different variables. However, meeting with a nutritionist to determine the exact numbers of your caloric intake and macronutrient demands will take a lot of the guesswork out of the equation.
To makes things even simpler – you need to eat less than what you need to “get smaller” and more of that you need to “get bigger.”
Do you feel like you are doing one of these two things pretty damn well, but not achieving the results you desire? It’s time to dig deeper and concentrate more on the one you are lacking. If you are strength training, but eating/drinking improperly, you are not going to change. Same goes the other way around about eating properly and not strength training. Period. In very few cases, we see individuals who are nailing both their strength training and their food, but still not hitting their goals. This is when we now need to look deeper into hormonal health, sleep patterns, overtraining, and additional factors such as accessory exercises during workouts.
For the vast majority of us – lift heavy shit, do not drink alcohol excessively, and eat in appropriate quantities for your life and goals. It’s that simple.
Great technique equals safer movements, increased efficiency, greater range of motion, increased neuromuscular recruitment, and better performance.
Essentially, we can look at great movement technique not as one goal of our workouts, but THE GOAL. Everything we want out of our exercises lies in doing movements properly, so why would we have it any other way?
Decrease Risk of Injury
Luckily for us, the correct way to do something is also the safest way to do something. By performing movements correctly, we are reducing our risk of injury. The worst thing for all of our goals is to be injured. Sitting on the sidelines is no way to get closer to where we want to be, so ensure you are doing everything you can to maintain proper form. If you are unsure of the right way to do something, ask your coach!
Increased Range of Motion and Recruitment of Muscle
Pushing your body through full ranges of safe motion are essential to recruit as much muscle as we can. Working through full range technique will also provide increased mobility over time. Recruiting muscle, and the target muscles for that movement, will ensure we are building up the proper muscle to maximize performance, aesthetic gains, and overall neuromuscular health.
Efficiency = Performance
If the fastest way from Point A to Point B is a straight line, why zig zag to your results? The more efficient we are with out movements, the faster we are going to get to our goals. This is the same for the beginner CrossFitters looking to decrease body fat to the elite athlete looking for a 1 kg PR in their snatch. Proper movement equates to increased performance.
One of the best things about CrossFit is that we get to constantly compare our results. This may be to others in the gym, our favorite CrossFit Games athlete, or simply ourselves. By defining movement standards based on proper movement technique, we are creating a fair baseline of athletic abilities. By performing these proper movement standards, we are ensuring fairness in what can be the most fun aspect of this fitness modality. This is important for any athlete looking to see how their fitness increases over time, but also any athlete looking to compete in online, local, or national level competitions.
Steps to Great Movement
So how do we achieve these proper movement patterns and standards presented to us? It takes time. Achieving proper form takes time, dedication, and practice. This can occur in your 60 minutes of class time, but often occurs outside of it as well. Take the time to practice technique with low heart rates, ample recovery, and either a friend, camera, or even better, a coach, to help you nail down any movements you struggle with. Mastering movements might take repetition, increased strength, increased range of motion, or all the above. It begins with dedication to the movement standards.
“If you have a body, you are an athlete.”
Anyways, if you don’t already make a daily To-Do List, you need to start as soon as possible. We do all feel like we need more time in the day and this checklist can keep us on track, prioritize the most important tasks, aid in our time management, and get shit done.
Making a daily To-Do List completely changed my life, my business, and my drive. It keeps me on track, more productive, and accomplished at the end of the day. It also gives you tiny little fist bumps all day as you get to check things off one by one. I am obsessed with my to-do lists and I MAKE myself feel guilty at the end of the day if it isn’t complete. I simply need to get these things done daily if I want to reach my goals – and I am driven to do so.
You can create and manage this list(s) in the best way that works for you. This might be one big list written on paper daily or in your phone. To share my personal experiences, I am going to talk about what works best for me. You need to try out different things and see what works best for you.
Start with your goals – if you don’t already know how to set amazing goals, click here.
Break down those goals into daily tasks. What do you need to do, every day, to get to your goals? For example, I have a goal of having a passive income stream, so I set aside just 15 minutes a day to work on it. At first, I didn’t have a clue what that income stream would even be. Much of my first few weeks was focused on learning more about passive income. This counted toward my 15 minute daily goal. Then I decided on creating an eBook to see if that could generate passive income. During my 15 minutes a day, I work on my eBook. It isn’t near complete yet, but it’s a ton further along with these 15 minutes a day then I ever would be if I didn’t put that 15 minutes of “Passive Income Generation” into this list.
For these daily tasks, I created a folder in the notes in my phone called “Daily Tasks to Reach Goals,” and wrote down the 15 things I believe I need to do daily to reach my goals. They include checking emails, social media posts, completing my business To-Do List, and setting aside time to learn. These things are all important to me and are stepping stones to achieving my goals. I check them off as I complete them.
I then have an additional To-Do List, my “Business To-Do.” This is a separate list from my Daily Tasks, because they will break down everything I need to do within my business that day. For you, this could be “Work,” “Family,” “Home,” or broken down into whatever category (or categories) that you have a list of things you need to accomplish daily. I constantly add things to this list and assign a day they need to be completed. Some things are urgent, but others can be assigned a few days from now based on it's time sensitivity. I’m not putting anything off – I am simply prioritizing when they need to be completed.
I am obsessed with looking at these lists in the note section of my phone. Every time I complete something, it gets checked off. My day is not done when 6 pm hits, it’s done when I am finished with all the tasks on these lists. Once they are all completed, I erase all the tasks for that day on my Business To-Do and un-check all my Daily Tasks. This gives me a fresh start when I wake up the next morning and begin plotting how I am going to crush my day.
Tips to crush your To-Do List:
-Start with the easiest task to get the ball rolling
-Prioritize your day
-Don’t get into a habit of moving something unfinished to tomorrow
-For big tasks that are not time sensitive, set timers on how long to work on the task for, I do things in 15 minute intervals. If I am still being productive after 15 minutes and want to continue, I restart the timer. If I am at a stopping point or not being highly productive, I’ll stop and move on to another task.
-Don’t forget to add important things to your Daily Tasks that further your life and health such as exercise. I also set aside 15 minutes a day consisting of learning and thinking, most of which comes via audio books and podcasts and are completed while training or stretching.
Someone recently told me “if it’s meant to be, it’s up to me.” I quickly became a big fan of that saying. Life doesn’t just happen, it is what we make of it. By taking the time to figure out what we want in life and where we want to be, then breaking it down into daily tasks, we will be set up to live a life of dreams and not fantasies.
Don’t get me wrong, we do need to be thinking. In fact, this contemplative stage is vital to our goal setting. During this stage, we need to envision, ponder, and evaluate where we want to be, what we want to do, or who we want to become. Then however, we need to stop the “why” bullshit and get the fuck after it.
Set your goals, break them into daily tasks, weekly checkpoints, and monthly landmarks. Set timelines to them. Then every day, do what you need to do to accomplish them. Don’t put them on the back burner or change them to be something more attainable. Don’t wonder why you set that goal or reanalyze if you really want it. You thought about it, wrote it down, and need to chase it down. Whatever it takes, get it done and stop wasting time on the why. Just fucking do it.
Once we get there, or spend the allotted amount of time that we set to get there, we can sit down and reanalyze. This is the time we can now think once again and get all the analytical, philosophical, and investigative shit out of the way.
Did we achieve the goal we set or did we come up short?
If we did, do we feel like we thought we would when we set it? Does it give us joy, happiness, more free time, more money, more power, or whatever it was we were seeking through this goal?
Are we happy here and want to maintain? Or do we want to reset the goal to something beyond our current achievements?
If short, why were we not able to complete this goal. Is this something we want to continue to go after? Or do we want to change this goal and set our sights on something different?
Don’t change the goal to simply be more attainable. Remember big goals are what we want out of our lives to reach our potentials. But, maybe the journey here wasn’t what we thought it was and we don’t think that this goal is going to help our lives for the better. Change it to something else - just don’t change it because you still want to achieve it, but it’s just too big.
Stop thinking and get to doing. It’s the only way success is in your future.
When people come back after vacations, family issues, lack of motivation, etc, I always perform a body composition analysis. They are always reluctant and no one likes me that day – but it’s vital. I put them all on the InBody upon return for two reasons:
They need to realize what that time off did for them. This is a huge lesson in lifestyle change for the good and bad. If someone keeps their nutrition and exercise going while away from the gym – they will get some results. Maybe not incredible ones, but they will be moving on the right track. If they hit one of two, they will likely maintain. Often times, I am happy about this and maintenance is a great goal sometimes – especially while on vacations. Keep your daily activity levels up and you do have some room to splurge on local treats while in Bermuda, or the Cape, or wherever you summer. OR keep your food on track and enjoy the relaxation that sitting on the beach in Laguna brings. However, ditch both of your positive nutrition and exercise traits, and you will quickly see what happens to your body composition as your fat mass rises and your muscle mass decreases. No bueno for any of our athletes at Aspire. This is a perfect lesson in how they should be treating their daily lives away from the gym when life gets in the way in one way or another.
Additionally, doing a body composition as soon as you are back from a hiatus is vital to once again measure our progress. If you come back after 3 weeks and in that time get right back to all the positives habits, we preach at Aspire, you will be losing body fat and gaining lean muscle mass. Those improvements may not seem as drastic if we are only comparing against your old results. We need to retest to once again see where we need to go and where we’ve been.
Remember, this journey to health and fitness is a lifelong road. We need to develop habits to the best of our abilities and also realize when they have receded. It’s like pushing a boulder up a hill. Ideally, we will be constantly pushing that boulder up. Occasionally, we may let it slide back down a little. As long as we stop it as soon as possible and begin pushing once again, the journey to the top – our ultimate health and fitness goals – is inevitable.
The majority of the most successful people in the world get up early. Tim Cook, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and more are all known to wake up well before the sun rises. There is a reason for this – so much can be done before the typical person wakes up. Typically, your family is still asleep, calls are not being made, and last minute fires don’t have to be put out at the office.
This morning time can be your time – a time to take care of yourself both mentally and physically. Your mind and body work differently immediately after a good night’s rest and without the day’s distractions taking away from “your” time.
Sure, it can be tough to not hit the snooze button and keep sleeping. That’s reality – deal with it. I have not met anyone that actually enjoys the alarm going off before 5 am. I wake up every morning between 3:45-4:45 and it fucking sucks. There is nothing fun about it. Ultimately however, I love what I am able to get done in the morning. It gives me an incredible head start on the day physically and mentally. Champion boxer Floyd Mayweather often trained in the middle of the night because he felt it gave him a mental edge on the competition. While his opponents were sleeping – he was training. A strategy he would implement and visualize in a fight. A similar feeling comes to me when I am trying to solve a problem, be better than my competition in business, or overall conquer my day – I know that I have put in more work that my competition and did it while they were all cozy in bed. We have primal instincts still within – and in survival of the fittest, I am going to subsist and prevail. A lot of this strength is taken from the morning.
Here’s the deal – distractions and desires may not prevent you from hitting your workout at some point in the day. If you’re getting shit done, then keep your schedule, wake up at 7:30, and continue to kick ass. However, if you are constantly searching for that answer – more time to take care of yourself, inspiration to hit the gym, or how to schedule fitness into your busy professional, personal, and family life, the answer lies before that sun rises. Master your morning and you will dominate your life.
It’s probably a fact that most people need to drink more water, but often times we forget a vital component of hydration – electrolytes. There are 6 electrolytes that are essential to our bodies: sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, and phosphate.
Electrolytes affect the amount of water held in your body, blood PH, and muscle function. Without electrolytes you will be peeing out all of the water you take in and quickly pushed to the sidelines cramping with insufficient hydration levels.
Essentially, just drinking water will simply hydrate the blood, often leading to peeing it all back out in clear urine. You think you are hydrating, but in reality that water is just passing through your body. Electrolytes provide the cells the ability to take in the water, hydrating them intracellularly. Pulling the water into the cell demonstrates true hydration and can only occur via electrolytes. Too much water without electrolytes can also cause a problem called hyponatremia, which can be life threatening.
Although proper hydration is vital for all humans, the importance is most prevalently seen in endurance athletes. Fully hydrating the body doesn’t just happen in one sports drink. You should also be taking electrolytes in the days and week prior to athletic events. Even in times without a competition on the horizon, especially in the humid climates of the world, a daily electrolyte supplement can be vital to achieving both peak performance and health.
If you are currently looking for a supplement for electrolytes, we currently recommend Salt Sticks, Base Salts, and Nuun (available for purchase at the gym).
Sean Spire is the Owner and Head Coach of Aspire. Athletically, he enjoys lifting heavy shit, running in the middle of the day, and tough MetCons. Personally, he likes spending time with his amazing wife, Erika, and dog, Reef.