Category Archives: Guest Blogs

Eight Considerations for Weight Room Training

The following is an excellent guest article by physical therapist and strength coach Rob Panariello. 

Eight Considerations for Weight Room Training

Robert A. Panariello MS, PT, ATC, CSCS
Professional Physical Therapy
Professional Athletic Performance Center
New York, New York

Throughout my 35 year career in the related professional fields of Sports Rehabilitation and Strength and Conditioning (S&C) I have been witness to hundreds of presentations, have read thousands of books/research articles/blogs and had an abundant number of conversations with regard to weight room training and program design. Although all of this information has been enlightening, the lessons from my friends and mentors Hall of Fame S&C Coaches Al Vermeil, Johnny Parker, Al Miller, Don Chu, elite coaches Charlie Francis, Derek Hansen, former Olympic Weightlifter and Weightlifting Coach Gregorio Goldstein, and former Olympic Weightlifter and present day Olympic Weightlifting Coach Stan Bailey have all provided me with instruction, lessons and information that in my opinion, is second to none. It should be noted that this dialog is based on the application of weight room principles and training to enhance the physical qualities that are necessary to improve their athleticism for optimal athletic performance. The S&C program design should not intend to create weightlifters, powerlifters or bodybuilders of the athlete unless they partake in these specific competitive sports.

1. Prepare the athlete for the weight room program

Prior to the athlete’s participation in a “formal” weight room training program it should be determined if the athlete exhibits the physical ability to withstand the eventual high levels of applied stress necessary for optimal adaptation. An evaluation will determine both the strengths and weaknesses (deficits) of the athlete to assist in an appropriate program design. If it is determined the athlete is unable to withstand the high stresses of training, a preparation training period of training may be necessary.

One effective preparation training method is the utilization of “Javorek Exercise Complexes”. These complexes, developed by S&C Coach Istvan “Steve” Javorek, are employed to enhance joint mobility and soft tissue compliance, exercise technique, strength levels, and work capacity. The utilization of Javorek’s exercise complexes are beyond the scope of this commentary, however this information may be found in Coach Javorek’s books and website.

I’ve also read and witnessed conversations how certain exercises should be avoided as they may cause injury to a particular anatomy of the body. One may question why there is less concern with possible injury during the execution of other commonly prescribed exercises? Why is there such concern for stressing the low back during the back squat exercise performance but little if any concern with the SI joint stresses that occur during exercise execution with a split stance, as approximately 30% of all low back pain is due to SI joint pathology? Why is there such concern with overhead pressing while the lat pull down exercise and pull-ups are commonly prescribed? All exercises stress the body and in our 42 physical therapy clinics we treat a variety of injuries that occur from the performance of various exercises utilizing assorted implements of training. Instead of abandoning a valued exercise, why not prepare the “stressed” anatomy for the eventual safe application of the exercise(s) in question and take advantage of its benefits?

Lat pulldown

2. Be careful of what you “correct” with your athlete

In recent years there appears to be an affinity for the “correction” of athletes to eliminate their asymmetries. Certainly there are times where a “correction” is appropriate, as these “corrections” should be performed by a qualified professional. However, it should be considered that all athletes (and all individuals) are asymmetrical, if this were not true why does right or left hand dominance exist? Why do anatomical variants exist? These asymmetries are frequently contributing factors that result in optimal levels of performance i.e. increased external rotation of the dominant throwing/racquet shoulder for optimal ball/racquet velocity. I recall particular conversations with both Charlie Francis and Derek Hansen as they both discussed a world class sprinter that Charlie had trained. This particular sprinter had scoliosis and was treated by a healthcare professional to correct the “functional” (soft tissue) component of their scoliosis. The healthcare professional succeeded in this “correction” resulting in the athlete never running at the same world class velocity again.

Healthcare and S&C Professionals should also recognize that an athlete’s participation in an appropriately prescribed training program will often result in a “correction” of the asymmetries observed. The precise technical exercise execution performed repeatedly over time will eliminate many of the physical deficits exposed as “form will follow function”.

3. Do not neglect to incorporate bilateral leg exercises 

Single leg exercise testing and prescription has also become prevalent in recent years. Single leg exercises and testing are suitable in the related professional fields of rehabilitation and athletic performance training. However, during the incorporation of single leg exercise prescription bi-lateral leg exercises are often discarded. Bi-lateral leg exercise performance does present with certain advantages. These advantages include and are not limited to the following:

  • Most athletic endeavors are initiated and conclude on two feet
  • Most athletic activities occur with a foot position placed outside the midline of the body
  • Greater exercise weight intensities may be applied in a bi-lateral exercise posture
  • A greater systemic effect is placed upon the body due to superior weight intensities
  • Greater exercise velocities transpire from a bi-lateral exercise posture
  • Greater exercise ground reaction forces result from a bi-lateral posture
  • Have a greater effect for increasing total energy expenditure/metabolic benefit for stimulating larger increases in work capacity. Higher training loads increase mechanical work performed thus increasing metabolic cost

There is also appears to be a misconception that since the stance phase of running occurs upon a single leg, training should also occur upon a single leg. Ground contact time is a critical consideration in high velocity activities such as sprinting, as well as overall athletic performance. The less time spent on the ground (amortization) the better the athletic performance. The ground contact time for single leg weight intensity exercise execution far exceeds the ground contact time requirement for optimal amortization to occur. Thus single leg strength exercises are just that, a variation of a strength exercise.

Both single and bi-lateral leg exercises provide benefits for the athlete. The exercise selection for the program design should be based upon the needs and goals of the individual athlete.

chinasquat

4. Don’t forget the Olympic lifts

The ability to produce force quickly (power) is critical to athletic performance. The physical quality of strength must be accompanied by the physical quality of explosive strength and/or elastic strength for optimal athletic performance to transpire. The Olympic lifts and their variations i.e. “pulls”, have advantages not offered by other training exercises. These advantages include but are not limited to the following:

  • Enhanced rate of force development
  • Greater power and peak power outputs
  • Greater ground reaction and peak ground reaction forces
  • A stretch shortening cycle (SSC) transpires during the second knee bend of the exercise performance. A SSC is a critical component of elastic strength abilities
  • The exercises may be initiated from various exercise (bar) positions placing emphasis on acceleration or starting abilities
  • Many athletic endeavors require high force output against an external resistance (i.e. an opponent). The Olympic lifts require high force output against an external resistance
  • A positive enhancement of the co-activation index occurs due to high velocity exercise execution
  • Exercise execution requires a total body effort

5. When Appropriate Overhead press

When deemed appropriate the overhead press and variations of this exercise should be a consideration for the athlete’s training. Advantages of the overhead press include but are not limited to the following:

  • The exercise is (should be) performed in the plane of the scapula, a plane of motion that allows for optimal shoulder joint congruency and muscle length tension resulting in ideal force output and strength development
  • Exercises such as the push press are initiated from the legs, include a contribution of the entire body, and has been recognized to produce more lower body power than jump squats
  • Appropriate gleno-humeral/scapula-thoracic (GH-ST) neuromuscular timing and joint positioning occurs throughout the exercise performance as use of a bench backing is avoided. Compression of the scapula via a weight loaded exercise execution against a bench backing may have a negative effect upon GH-ST neuromuscular timing and joint rhythm

There appears to be a concern for the possible incidence of shoulder and rotator cuff pathology with overhead exercise performance. As mentioned previously, why is there not the same concern when performing overhead exercises such as pull-ups and lat pull downs where the exercise performance not only occurs overhead, but superiorly and anteriorly directed distraction forces also ensue?

The bench press is also a commonly prescribed exercise where pec tears, osteolysis of the distal clavicle, and rotator cuff pathology have been documented, yet there appears to be little hesitation for prescribing this exercise as well.

military

6. Avoid excessive exercise volume

With the abundant amount of information available to the S&C Professional it is often difficult to decide which exercises to include and which to exclude from the training program design. Therefore, very often “everything” is included in the program design. This is likely due to the following:

  • If “everything” is not included the athlete will be cheated
  • My opponent who does include “everything” will have an advantage over my athlete/team who does not include “everything” in their training

NFL Hall of Fame Coach Bill Parcells and NFL Hall of Fame S&C Coach Johnny Parker have both advised me to “Know what is important and don’t worry about the rest”. One “art” of coaching is to recognize the needs and goals of the athlete and acknowledge the most efficient and effective training methods to achieve them. Programing a greater number of exercises will likely take valuable training time from those that are most beneficial for the athlete. Excessive exercise volumes will likely produce excessive fatigue resulting in the consequences of poor technical exercise performance, lower force output, and possible higher incidence of overuse type injuries.

7. The training difference between large and small athletes

If disparities in physical stature are acknowledged for successful participation in various sports i.e. basketball players vs. jockeys, shouldn’t these physical differences also be a consideration in the program design as well? Considering the execution of exercises as the squat, wouldn’t body weight play a factor in not only the total amount of weight lifted, but the time necessary for adequate recovery as well? There are “absolute” and “relative” strength differences when comparing the large and small athlete. The “absolute” strength is considered the amount of weight lifted as “relative” strength is a “pound for pound” expression of strength so to speak. Generally smaller athletes have greater relative strength levels as large athletes usually demonstrate greater absolute strength levels.

Comparing the back squat exercise performance of a 200 pound athlete who can squat 400 pounds vs. a 325 pound athlete who can squat 600 pounds, the smaller athlete demonstrates a greater relative strength (lifting 2 times body weight) compared to the larger athlete (lifting 1.85 times body weight). However, the larger athlete demonstrates a greater amount (33%) of absolute strength (i.e. 600 vs. 400 pounds).

The athlete must also lift their body weight in addition to the barbell weight, resulting in a “system” of weight lifted. In the fore mentioned back squat example the smaller athlete’s system of weight is approximately 600 pounds while the larger athlete’s is approximately 925 pounds (35% greater than the smaller athlete). Due to this greater system of weight the larger athlete may need to have their squat exercise program design adjusted to perform a greater number of squat repetitions at lower exercise (repetition maximum) percentages. This is necessary for the following reasons:

-The exact program design of prescribed exercise percentages for both the small and large athlete will result in an inappropriate system of load prescribed to the large athlete over the training period resulting in excessive accumulative fatigue

-Larger athletes need appropriate recovery time thus the exact repetitively executed high percentage system of weight may result in overtraining of the athlete.

-Lower prescribed exercise weight percentages correspond to higher exercise repetitions performed. Higher repetitions correlate to increased work performance and body mass. Larger athletes usually need to maintain/improve their body mass for optimal athletic performance

8. Conclude the workout with a high velocity activity

Strength type exercises are performed at slower tempos when compared to higher velocity power/speed exercises. This increased time under tension requires a greater contribution of agonist and antagonist joint musculature to work together to enhance joint stability. This “co-activation index” of the agonist and antagonist muscle groups is close to or at a 1:1 ratio.

The athletic arena requires high velocity performance. High velocity performance is ensured with a greater contribution of the agonist muscle group when compared to the antagonist muscle group, resulting in fluid propulsion of the body in the desired direction of movement. Tudor Bompa and Charlie Francis have both stated that the greatest athletes in the world are those that are able to completely relax their antagonist muscle groups during high velocity performance. Higher tempo activities performed for a short duration at the conclusion of the training session will shift this co-activation index to the one desired for optimal athletic performance.

 

Switching Focus from Bikini to Powerlifting

I’ve been working with Sohee Walsh for the past couple of months. I know that my readers would love to hear some of the behind the scenes details prior to Sohee’s competition, so I asked her to write me a guest blog outlining her progress thus far.

Switching Focus from Bikini to Powerlifting
By Sohee Walsh

Why did I decide to train for a powerlifting meet?

The short answer is: I wanted to try something different.

After having been aesthetics-oriented for the past seven years of my lifting career, I was kicking the can around. It was January 2015 and I had just wrapped up my bikini show a few weeks prior. I was still training consistently, but I was feeling a bit aimless in the gym.

I was pretty happy with how I was looking, you see. Sure, I would have loved to build some boulder shoulders, but I knew that progress would have been painstakingly slow. A full-blown ultra-high-calorie, super-high-training-volume regimen simply didn’t appeal to me.

I found myself on a phone call with Bret one afternoon discussing some potential business collaborations. As most conversations with him go, one topic led to the next, and soon we got to talking about my fitness goals.

“Sohee, you should try a powerlifting meet next,” he said. His reasoning was something along the lines of: I’d immersed myself in the aesthetic side of fitness my entire career, and it would be beneficial to experience the performance side of training. I wouldn’t get big and bulky (duh!), and it might be a lot of fun to make strength my primary focus for a while. * Bret’s note: I also told her that it would build her street cred and make her more versatile as a coach

That was enough to pique my curiosity.

Training Specifics

Bret started me off on a daily undulating periodization (DUP) protocol for the first six weeks of mg training. DUP is essentially a form of high-frequency training (HFT) and involves working a specific movement multiple times per week with varying set rep ranges each session. * Bret’s note: this program was designed based on Sohee’s unique prior training experiences, equipment and time availability, exercise and programming preferences, and goals.

Since I’m training for a powerlifting meet, our focus was on the squat, bench, and deadlift.

The first few weeks started out great.

Though I hadn’t back squatted in a number of years, my strength gains were steady. Week by week, I found myself progressing in either reps or weight.

Here are some videos from my very first week:

Back squat 105×3

Bench press 75×5

Conventional deadlift 150×1

Here’s what my first training program looked like:

Day 1

  1. Back squat 3×5
  2. Conventional deadlift 3×1
  3. Front squat grip barbell reverse lunge 2×8-10ea
  4. Chinups 3xMax

Day 2

  1. Bench press 3×5
  2. Barbell glute bridge 3×8-10
  3. Barbell push press 3×6-8
  4. Inverted rows 3xMax

Day 3

  1. Back squat 3×3
  2. Conventional deadlift 5×3 @ 60% 1RM
  3. Dumbbell Bulgarian split squat 2×8-10ea
  4. Pullups 3xMax

Day 4

  1. Back squat 3×1
  2. Bench press 3×3
  3. Barbell glute bridge 3×8-10
  4. Dumbbell bent over row 3×8-10

I would check in with Bret every few days, sending over videos of my lifts, and he’d offer pointers to tweak my form. Switch to low bar squats, arch more in your bench, get a solid pause at the bottom of each bench rep – all that jazz.

I was having a lot of fun. After months of being on a high volume, five-day split, it was a refreshing change to be lifting four days a week and no more. Moreover, chopping my training volume from 10+ different exercises per session to just four both saved me a good deal of time and left me with enough energy and motivation to hit each session with vigor.

By the end of week six, however, I noticed that my hips starting to ache when squatting. I shot Bret a text that day, and he advised me to be careful. Just a few days later, I was forced to rack the bar mid-warmup set because the pain had gotten so bad. I shot Bret a disheartened message and finished the rest of the session, working around the pain.

Simply put, my body’s anatomy was not built to handle high frequency squatting. While I personally enjoyed getting under the bar three days a week, my body begged to differ.

Bret and I agreed to give my body a full break from squatting for a solid two weeks; no meet was worth risking debilitating injury for. During that time, I kept up my deadlifts and benching and threw in a lot of hip thrust variations to stay active.

At the end of those two weeks, I had a decision to make: Do I want to call it quits and give up my powerlifting endeavors, or would I rather work around the injury, figure out a plan B, and keep moving forward?

After much deliberation, I decided that I wasn’t going to back down. I hopped on the phone with Bret and he whipped up a new, modified training program for me.

No more HFT. We were switching gears to high intensity training (HIT), at least for the squat.

This is the program that Bret has had me on for the past few weeks now. Note that each time I squat, I only work up to one working set to failure. That’s it. Then I rack the bar and move on.

Day 1

  1. Back squat 1xfailure
  2. Bulgarian split squat 2x10ea
  3. Nordic ham curl 3×3
  4. Glute burnouts 1x3min straight (non-stop band glute work)

Day 2 

  1. Conventional deadlift 1×5, 1×3, 1×1
  2. Barbell hip thrust 3×5
  3. Chinups 3xMax

Day 3

  1. Bench press 1×5, 1×3, 1×1
  2. Incline bench press 2×6
  3. Knee pushups with elbows tucked 3xMax
  4. Feet-elevated inverted row 3xMax

With this training regimen, I’m working on a 2-or-3-days-on, 1-day-off schedule. Since I like to take Wednesdays and Sundays off to run errands and rest, I’m now training every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. We also have 10-15 minutes of playtime at the end of each session, and I’ve been using that time to train for the SFG kettlebell certification course that’s coming up in May. * Bret’s note: the switch from DUP to HIT style squat programming has allowed Sohee to continue squatting and continue setting PRs while experiencing no pain in her hips

Here’s a summary of how my numbers have progressed:

Back squat

3RM

1/28/15 105×3, 105×3, 105×3

2/05/15 110×3, 115×3, 115×3

2/12/15 120×3, 125×3, 125×3

2/19/15 125×3, 130×3, 130×3

2/28/15 130×3, 135×3, 135×3

3/06/15 135×3, 135×3, 135×3

5RM

1/26/15 95×5, 95×5, 95×5

2/02/15 95×5, 105×5, 105×5

2/09/15 110×5, 110×5, 115×5

2/16/15 115×5, 115×5, 115×5

2/26/15 120×5 (workout cut short due to hip pain)

3/05/15 125×5, 125×5, 125×5

8RM

2/23/15 105×8, 110×8, 115×8

3/02/15 115×8, 115×8, 120×8

1RM

1/31/15 115×1, 125×1, 125×1

2/07/15 125×1, 130×1, 130×1

2/14/15 135×1, 135×1, 135×1

2/21/15 145×1, 145×1, 145×1

1xfailure 

3/23/15 120×5

3/30/15 126×5

4/04/15 125×7

4/09/15 130×6

Bench press

5RM

1/27/15 75×5

2/03/15 80×5

2/10/15 82.5×5

2/17/15 82.5×5

3/28/15 85×4

4/02/15 85×5

4/07/15 87.5×5

3RM

1/31/15 80×3, 80×3, 80×3

2/07/15 85×3, 85×3, 85×3

2/14/15 85×3, 87.5×3, 87.5×2

2/21/15 87.5×3, 87.5×3, 87.5×3

2/24/15 87.5×3, 87.5×3, 85×3

3/03/15 87.5×3, 90×3, 90×2

3/10/15 90×3, 90×3, 90×3

3/28/15 90×2

4/02/15 92.5×3

4/07/15 95×3

1RM 

2/28/15 90×1, 95×1, 100×1

3/06/15 95×1, 97.5×1, 97.5×1

3/12/15 95×1, 100×1, 100×1

3/18/15 95×1, 100×1, 100×1

3/28/15 95×1

4/02/15 100×1

4/07/15 102.5×1

Conventional deadlift

1RM 

1/26/15 155×1, 160×1, 160×1

2/02/15 160×1, 165×1, 165×1

2/09/15 155×1, 165×1, 165×1

2/16/15 163×1, 168×1, 170×1

2/23/15 170x, 180×1, 185×1 (with weight belt, slight rounding of back)

3/02/15 150×1, 150×1, 150×1 (cut weight back to work on pulling with no back rounding)

3/09/15 155×1, 155×1, 155×1

3/25/15 170×1

4/03/15 175×1

4/06/15 180×1

I should note as well that I’ve been struggling with my deadlift for a long time. I have what appears to be a giant knot in my right trap that is likely causing the sharp pains in my back whenever I try to pull heavy. This is something that we are constantly trying to work around. This is also why you won’t see very many videos of my deadlifting.

Here’s a recent video of me squatting 130×6 (you’ll notice I wobble a bit on rep 4; that’s because the bar almost rolled off my back and caught me off guard):

And benching 102.5×1, a lifetime PR:

We’re currently training to compete at the May 30 meet in Tucson, Arizona under the 100% Raw Powerlifting federation. (We were initially shooting for May 25 with USAPL, but registration was full and we were forced to come up with a plan B.) * Bret’s note: I can’t wait for this…I’m hoping that Sohee hits a 176 lb (80 kg) squat, a 105 lb (47.5 kg) bench, and a 204 lb (92.5 kg) deadlift, for a 485 lb (220 kg) total.

Nutrition and Physique Specifics 

Last summer and fall, I went through a 20-week contest prep and stepped on stage on November 8 weighing 106lbs at 5’2”. Here’s what I looked like:

11082014 Competition Shot

After that, I slowly reverse dieted my way back up to 1,800-2,000 calories per day over the next two months.

I’ve been maintaining my calorie intake since then. While I’m not weighing out every morsel of food at this time, my goal is simply to loosely track my intake and make sure that I’m eating enough to keep the strength gains coming.

In general, I try to hit a minimum of 130 grams of protein a day spread through four to five meals. I eat more carbs on days that I’m training and less on days that I’m not.

I don’t restrict foods at all, but the bulk of my diet comes from whole, minimally processed foods. I like to enjoy a treat in the evenings, usually in the form of Greek yogurt with some m&m’s sprinkled in.

It’s simple, really. I don’t overcomplicate my diet and I don’t adhere to strict rules – especially when aesthetics is no longer my main focus.

I’ve been maintaining a bodyweight of 107-108lbs since my show. Given that I’ll be competing in the 105lbs weight class come late May, my goal will simply be to keep my weight where it is so I’ll only have to do a mild, mild water cut to make weigh-ins.

Here’s a progress picture of me on Saturday, April 11 – five months after my bikini competition:

Sohee

As you can see, I don’t look too different from when I stepped on stage. Yes, I have a little more muscle (hoorah!) and yes, I look a little more filled out, but my quads are by no means overly developed and I haven’t suffered from decreasing my training volume.

(For those of you wondering, I’m able to stay so close to stage weight because I utilized completely sustainable, moderate methods during my contest prep. That allowed me to experience zero rebound whatsoever. I’d say it’s healthy to maintain within 5-15lbs of stage weight, depending on the individual. If you’re interested in reading more about my contest prep experience, click here.)

I don’t resort to extremes when it comes to my training or my nutrition. Been there, done that, and I’ve learned my lesson many times over. I’m here to prove to myself, to my clients, to all of you reading this that utilizing a moderate approach 24/7 absolutely works.

Closing Thoughts

The biggest change that I’ve noticed thus far in my powerlifting prep has been my mindset above all else.

I don’t look in the mirror and scrutinize every subtle change in my physique from day-to-day. I find myself looking forward to every single training session, and instead of wondering, “How can I look better?” I’m asking myself, “How do I get stronger in the gym?”

I love setting PRs. I love pushing my body to its limits and accomplishing feats that I’ve never come close to before. I love the confidence that comes with knowing that I can, indeed, lift heavy shit.

This hasn’t been a hiccup-free ride, and I certainly didn’t expect it to be.

And boy, am I learning a lot.

I’m not out to be the best powerlifter in the world, and I don’t care about that. I simply want to try out a new experience and learn a thing or two along the way. And who knows? Maybe I’ll come back again next year to compete again.

Follow along on my powerlifting journey as I continue to prep and share my progress with you for the next seven weeks. I post videos on my Instagram regularly and I hold nothing back. You can also connect with me on my Facebook page and check out my website.

Sohee

RECIPE: The Reuben Quiche (Low Carb, Gluten-free, Paleo-friendly)

Today’s guest post is a recipe from Alex Navarro and Mary Gines, two friends of mine who moved to the Phoenix area to start their online blog FitLivingFoodies.com. They’ve both trained at the Glute Lab for a period of time and once in a while they’ll bring over a recipe for me to try – so far I’ve loved every single one! I’ve been begging them to share some of their recipes with my readers, since I know that many fitness enthusiasts like to go low carb from time to time and are in need of tasty low carb recipes. As former bikini competitors, Mary and Alex know a thing or two about the “competition prep” diet but are now focused on overall health, longevity, and keeping their bikini bods year round through carb cycling. Give this recipe a try!


 

RECIPE: The Reuben Quiche (Low Carb, Gluten-free, Paleo-friendly)

Ultra Low Carb Reuben Quiche

A smorgasbord of goodness

Quiches are one of our favorite make-ahead meals. Not only are they easy to throw together, but you can add just about anything into them, making a smorgasbord of goodness. You can make them with any random fixings you might have leftover in your fridge (ham from Easter or turkey from Thanksgiving!), or if you’re fancy, you can combine the perfect concoction of ingredients to mimic some of your favorite dishes. Which is exactly what we did here with this dangerously good Reuben Quiche.

What’s in our Reuben?

Traditional Reuben sandwiches are made with corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing, served on rye bread. Ever wondered where the Reuben Sandwich came from? You can read about its creation here. We love stories like these!

Trader Joe's Uncured Pastrami - no nitratesPastrami

Pastrami can be used instead of corned beef (or flank steak), so if you have a preference for one of the other, just go with your instincts and follow your taste buds. We chose Trader Joe’s pastrami simply because it was calling to us while perusing the isles. It’s uncured and has no nitrates added, which is great for those who are sensitive to additives.

Trader Joe's Raw Fermented Sauerkraut with PicklesSauerkraut

The addition of sauerkraut was an obvious must for its added health benefits and tummy friendly bacteria. And since we usually have a container of Trader Joe’s raw and fermented sauerkraut with pickles in our fridge, it seemed too perfect not to use. We used the pickles from that combination because, well, they were already together so it made our job just a little easier. But if you can’t find that brand feel free to use the sauerkraut and pickles of your choosing.

Trader Joes Gruyere Swiss CheeseSwiss Cheese

Not that we’re promoting Trader Joe’s or anything…but they also have this Swiss cheese and Gruyère shredded cheese mix that was a delicious addition, which is just an option if you’re a cheese fan.

Quiche vs. Frittata – It’s all in the crust

If you’ve ever had an amazing quiche before you know it all starts with the perfect crust. The crust is what makes a quiche and quiche and NOT a frittata, so it’s essential that the crust is tasty. Luckily, we mastered our version of a low-carb, gluten-free crust with our Basic Coconut Flour Crust, which is also one of our fan favorites! We spiced it up by adding in Caraway seeds to mimic the classic use of rye bread and oh boy did it work! Caraway seeds have a slew of health benefits, including their potential to reduce the concentration of LDL cholesterol.

It’s not going to be pretty…

Ultra Low Carb Coconut Flour Crust

The crust itself can be a little tricky to mold into your pie tin if you’ve never cooked with coconut flour before. Due to the lack of gluten in this flour substitute it lacks the stretchiness and give that traditional flour has, making it slightly more challenging. Luckily, this flour is also very forgiving, so if during the molding process you find it’s “falling apart”, simple dampen your fingertips and push it back together. We suggest pressing the dough fairly thin at the bottom of the tin to ensure you have enough dough to create a “lip” at the top so all your tasty ingredients don’t pour over! We also offer a few tips and tricks for making the perfect crust here, one of which is making a crust shield to prevent your crust from over cooking!

Go Crustless!

Ultra Low Carb Reuben Sandwich Muffins

If for some reason the thought of the baking this easy crust seems overwhelming you can simply skip that step and make yourself a crustless quiche aka a casserole or egg muffins…which we promise is just as delicious! We’ve shared two sets of macronutrients below for those of you who’d like to try one or the other, or both!

Either you go we think you’ll find this recipe an easy, delicious dish to make tonight or as a make-ahead meal prepping go-to!


Reuben Quiche

Serves 6

Ingredients

CRUST

* Optional additions to the crust dough

  • 1 tbsp Caraway Seeds
  • 1 tsp Stevia Powder


QUICHE FILLING

  • 1/2 tbsp Butter or Ghee
  • 1/3 Yellow Onion – chopped
  • 1/2 cup Sauerkraut – chopped (packed into measuring cup with all juices squeezed out)
  • 2 tbsp Dill Pickle – minced
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 cup Full-fat Coconut Milk
  • 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika add more if desired
  • 1/8 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 8 ounces Deli Pastrami
  • 1/2 cup Swiss or Gruyere cheese (* Paleo-friendly – omit cheese)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven 375° F.
  2. Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat.
  3. Add 1/2 tablespoon butter and swirl to coat.
  4. Add onions and sauté 2-3 minutes; remove from heat.
  5. In a large mixing bowl add onions, sauerkraut, and dill pickles; mix to combine and set aside.
  6. In another bowl, whisk 4 eggs.
  7. Add coconut milk, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, paprika, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce and mix well.
  8. Layer pastrami at the bottom of the premade crust. Save a few slices to add on top if desired.
    Ultra Low Carb Reuben Quiche Trader Joe's Pastrami Layer
  9. Layer the onion mixture on top of pastrami.
    Ultra Low Carb Reuben Quiche Condiments Layer
  10. Pour egg mixture over onions and pastrami.
  11. Top with cheese and leftover pastrami.
    Ultra Low Carb Reuben Quiche Layers
  12. Place pie pan in oven and cook for 30-40 minutes or until a knife inserted in middle comes out clean.
    Ultra Low Carb Reuben Sandwich Quiche

Recipe Notes

Nutritional Data for Ultra Low Carb Reuben Quiche with Crust

Ultra  Low Carb Reuben Quiche with Coconut Flour Crust Nutritional Info

Click here for “Understanding our Macronutrient Guide”


Nutritional Data for Quiche without Crust

Ultra Low Carb Reuben Casserole Nutritional Info

Click here for “Understanding our Macronutrient Guide”



 AUTHOR BIOS

FitLivingFoodies.com Alex Navarro and Mary Gines

Alex Navarro is a nationally-renowned personal trainer, fitness competitor, and nutrition programmer. She has helped hundreds of clients reach their fitness goals through a combination of workout programming, nutritional planning, and food science education.

Alex is a WBFF Pro Bikini Diva and a former Ms. Natural Fitness Olympia. She has been active in the fitness competition scene since 2007.

Mary J. Gines has a BFA in digital media and a Master’s Cert. in Online Marketing. As a former national-level NPC bikini competitor and professional model, her combination of creativity and technical expertise and understanding of fit living made her the perfect choice to collaborate on this project.

Mary brings her creativity and “recipe investigatory” skills to the cutting board with her knack for researching menus of the local restaurants for ideas and “how can we make it different?” mentality.

You can find more information and recipes about Fit Living Foodies on FitLivingFoodies.com.

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5 Things People Need to Stop Overthinking

Below is an excellent guest article from Greg Nuckols. I just finished reading the new eBook that Greg wrote with Omar Isuf (HERE is a link to the eBooks – there are two of them; The Art of Lifting and The Science of Lifting), and though I liked both books, I actually liked The Art of Lifting most. I can’t tell you how impressed I am with Greg and Omar’s insight. I’ve been a big fan of Greg and Omar for a while, so it’s great to see them come out with a great product together.

5 Things People Need to Stop Overthinking
By Greg Nuckols

There are three laws I’ve found to be true in a remarkable number of cases:

  • Parkinson’s law: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” If you have a 2 hour project and 8 free hours to work on it, it will generally take you all 8 hours to finish it. Conversely, if you slack until you only have an hour left, you’ll usually end up getting it done, and doing a pretty decent job at it.
  • Poe’s law: “Without a blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of extremism or fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.” If you’ve ever been sucked into a really long Facebook argument about almost anything (be it training, nutrition, politics, religion, etc.), then you probably understand who this law is referring to.
  • Sayre’s law: “In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake.” This is the law that this article addresses. Little nitpicky things that really don’t influence your results in any meaningful way are almost guaranteed to be the subjects of heated discussions where friendships are ruined, e-dicks are measured, and no one comes out of the discussion any better off for having had it.

squat

  1. Bar position for squats

Let me describe an exercise for you. You place a loaded barbell across your shoulders, squat down to a position with high degrees of both knee and hip flexion, either as deep as you can go, or as deep as you can safely go before your back starts rounding, then stand up.

Did I just describe the high bar or low bar squat? If you guess “both,” you’re absolutely right. Moving the bar 2-3 inches up or down your back doesn’t make enough difference for 99% of people to worry about. Try them both out, and do whichever is the most comfortable for you.

If you’re a powerlifter, then obviously the main criteria to use is: “Which allows me to move the most weight?” That’s the whole point of the sport, after all. If you’re a weightlifter, then high bar is probably prudent since it most closely mimics the position in which you’d receive a clean or snatch.

If you don’t compete in either of those sports, then just squat; bar position really doesn’t matter.

  1. Beltless training

This is another topic that, while not entirely unimportant, is not worth arguing about until you’re blue in the face.

It’s pretty clear that training with a belt allows you to lift heavier loads, doesn’t really affect activation of your abdominal muscles, and may even lead to increased activation of your prime movers due to increased spinal stabilization and the aforementioned heavier loads. It also increases intra-abdominal pressure, which can cause an even larger spike in blood pressure when training, meaning it could be problematic for people who have conditions exacerbated by blood pressure fluctuations.

So if you want to lift as much weight as possible right now, wear a belt. If you have issues that are made worse by blood pressure spikes, then don’t wear a belt.

For training purposes, I’m not aware of any data showing that training with or without a belt really affects strength gains. Plenty of people have gotten strong lifting primarily with a belt, and plenty of people have gotten strong lifting primarily beltless. Just do the one you prefer.

Chris-Duffin

  1. Stance width, footwear, grip width, or deadlift style

If I had a nickel for every time I saw a “guide” to choosing footwear or stance width of squat, grip width for bench press, or deadlifting style (sumo or conventional) based off some arbitrary anthropometric measurements, I’d probably have about $1.00. Meaning there are at least 20 too many in existence (I wrote one of them. Sorry).

When did people forget that they could just experiment? Trying different options isn’t feasible for things that have a high opportunity cost (i.e. buying a house. You can’t narrow it down to two, buy them both, live in both for a while, and then decide which one you like best), but none of the aforementioned decisions have a high opportunity cost. The costliest would be buying an extra set of shoes for squats to see if you prefer squatting with a raised heel or without one (which will be ~$60-70 unless you want to buy top of the line weightlifting shoes).

Want to know what squat stance is best for you? Go to the gym, load up about 70% of your max, and try out a few different stance widths and a few different toe positions. Go with the one that feels the strongest and most comfortable. Ditto for bench press grip width. Ditto for sumo and conventional deadlifts.

The most important research in this area? The N=1 case study you do on yourself that will take maybe 15 minutes.

  1. “What’s the best exercise for…?”

There are a few circumstances where there is a clear-cut best exercise to accomplish a specific purpose. One is when you’re having difficulty learning a complex movement; a slower or regressed version of that movement, or the piece of the movement you’re having the most difficulty with (depending on the situation) is probably the best thing you can do. Or, if you’re trying to master an exercise for its own sake (i.e. if you’re a powerlifter and you want to improve your squat), that precise exercise is probably the best exercise you could do to accomplish that purpose.

Beyond that, it’s wide open. There are no magic exercises. If there’s a general movement pattern you’re trying to improve (not a specific exercise. i.e. pushing strength instead of strictly the bench press), then basically any exercise with similar demands through a fairly long range of motion will do the trick. If there’s a specific muscle you’d like to grow and strengthen, then just about any exercise for which that muscle is likely to be the primary limiting factor will work just fine.

Instead of searching for (or worse, wasting time debating online) some magical exercise, use some critical thinking skills and find movements that look similar to the skill you want to improve, or that overload the muscle you’re trying to grow or strengthen, and do them consistently over time, applying progressive overload. It works like a charm every time.

  1. Size vs. strength

Gaining size (muscle mass) versus gaining strength is really a false dichotomy for most people; they’re two sides to the same coin.

Now, if you’re brand new to lifting, you’ll probably gain strength (weight on the bar) much faster than you gain muscle mass initially. That’s a simple matter of your nervous system learning the movement and figuring out how to effectively use the muscle you currently have (plus a little extra you build) to move the load.

Once you’ve learned a movement, though, there’s only one way to keep those strength numbers ticking up: Those muscle have to grow.

On the other hand, if you’re training primarily to gain mass, those muscle gains will be slow in coming unless you apply progressive overload (increasing training volume, intensity, or both). And, by doing so, you’ll get stronger. Then, with that increased strength, you can load the muscles even heavier, create more tension, and grow bigger yet.

To get stronger (unless you’re a complete beginner), you need to get bigger, and to get bigger you need get stronger. Training for one without the other doesn’t really make sense for most people.

In some fringe cases it may be possible and necessary. For instance, if you’re an elite powerlifter weighing very close to the top of your weight class, then you may need to train in a manner to eek the last possible neural improvements out of the movements without gaining muscle mass that would push you into the next weight class (of course, if you can grow into the next biggest weight class, it would probably be good to do so because you’d be carrying more muscle per unit of height, and probably be more competitive, but that’s another discussion). If you’re a bodybuilder with a long injury history and not much more room for growth in the first place, then avoiding the heavier training that drives strength gains in favor of lighter, more voluminous training may be prudent.

For everyone else, get stronger to get bigger and get bigger to get stronger.

Click HERE to check out Greg’s new eBook

The Art of Lifting

About the Author

GregGreg Nuckols is the owner and founder of Strengtheory.com, a website dedicated to combining lifting advice with biomechanics and scientific theory. More than 250,000 people visit and learn from Strengtheory articles each month. Greg is also the chief content director at Juggernaut Training Systems, one of the biggest strength websites in the world. As the owner of one large fitness website and the content director of one even larger, Greg is very tapped into what questions people have and what information is often misconstrued. Practicing what he preaches, Greg has held 3 all-time world records in powerlifting. His current numbers are a 755lb. squat, 475lb. bench, and 725lb. deadlift.