10 Tips From The World’s Most Accomplished Strength Coach

We recently attended the Bulletproof conference in Pasadena where we got to listen to the top experts in the field of health and wellness. One of these speakers was Charles Poliquin, who is defined as the world’s most accomplished strength coach. He has trained several olympic medalists, professional athletes, and fitness world champion’s. He definitely knows his stuff when it comes to getting and staying fit!

Below is a list of the main takeaways we got from his session, some tips we knew and we’ve shared with you before in other posts on our website, but it was great to hear him echo the same things we teach as well!

1. No Steady-State Cardio

There were some choice words to describe steady-state cardio, but the main takeaways  were that it ages the brain and that it promotes muscles wasting and fat gain. Yikes!

2. Yes to high intensity interval training (HIIT)

He describes exercise in the form of high intensity interval training (HIIT) as not being cardio, and as being a highly effective way to burn fat and gain muscle. If you are a runner or biker add sprint intervals to reap the benefits rather than longer exercise at a steady-state pace.

3. Eat protein on rest days

Rest days are when your muscles are recovering and building back up to be stronger. The building blocks of muscle comes from amino acids which are found in protein.

4. The first thing in your mouth dictates the rest of your day

What you eat or drink first thing in the morning sets you up to burn or gain fat for the rest of the day. For this reason, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

5. Meat and nuts for breakfast

He does not recommend a specific macronutrient requirement for breakfast, but does recommend starting each day with a mix of meat and nuts to start the day.

6. Magnesium at night time

Taking magnesium at night time aids  muscle recovery and helps with sleep. I didn’t catch how much he recommends, but I recommend 400 mg or more at night time – note that taking too much too can cause diarrhea.


7. One hour of strength training 4 days a week

You can get super fit if you workout smart. He recommends one hour sessions of strength training, 4 days a week. If you can’t go for a full hour every day (I normally can’t) then just make the workout sessions shorter and go 5-6 days a week. Note: He is speaking about how to get super ripped for a competition or something of that nature, you likely do not have to even do this much to get fit!

8. More muscle equals longer life

He equates the amount of muscle is an indicator of longevity – the more muscle you have, the longer the life.


9. Lose fat with strength training

To lose fat you need to start strength training. Strength training builds muscle, the more muscle you have the more calories you burn at rest. Also after strength training this causes your body to expend energy trying to repair itself, meaning you burn an elevated amount of calories even after the workout is done.

10. Stick to basic exercises

Avoid over thinking exercise. Stick to the basics to see the best results. Exercises recommended included deadlifts, squats, chin-ups, and overhead presses.

5 Tips to Maximize Your Rest Day

Think that getting fit is all about the time you spend in the gym? Nope, that’s not even half of it. It’s what you do outside from the gym that really makes the difference, and one of the biggest factors is how you rest and recover your body. This is because exercise causes microtears in your muscles which must be repaired for those muscles to become stronger. If your muscles are not given what they need to repair and recover, then you get muscle breakdown rather than muscle building. This is why rest and recovery is so important for reaching fitness goals.

Read below to learn how to get the most out of your rest day:

1. Less couch, more active recovery

If you think a rest day means a day spent on the couch, this is not the case! A rest day should be more about actively recovering your muscles with low impact activity, such as walking, biking, and/or yoga. These types of activities increase blood flow and circulation which help to repair your muscles faster and more efficiently. These activities will also help to relieve tightness that you may have after a hard workout.

2. Give your mind a rest

Mental stress does not just stay in your head and unfortunately, that stress can travel to your entire body which can lead to tense muscles and longer recovery time. Take the extra time on your rest day to chill out for a few minutes and take time for yourself. This could mean taking a few minutes for deep breathing and meditation, or just listening to music with your eyes closed.

3. Eat protein rich foods

It is a great misconception that protein intake should be high only on workout days. This is not true, and your protein intake should be just as high on non-workout days. This is because the amino acids in protein are needed to repair and build muscle, which is exactly what your body needs on a rest day! Aim to get about a gram of protein per pound of body weight, or at least 20 grams of protein at each meal.

4. Sleep

Sleep is one of the most important factors for adequate recovery. Sleep is when your body keeps stress hormones low and releases growth hormone which helps to repair and rebuild muscle. Take advantage of the extra time you have and sleep in!

5. Don’t skimp on calories

You may think because you aren’t exercising you need to cut back on your calories for the day, but really you want to make sure you eating enough to properly fuel your body for your next workout. You will likely just naturally eat less, so don’t worry about overeating on rest days and think about how that food will help you dominate your next workout

Main takeaways…

Rest days are meant to be enjoyed, to reset your mind and body, and to be able to maximize your fitness goals. Don’t worry about setting yourself back with a rest day, it will actually help you to become fitter faster!

About the author: Sarah-Kate Rems is an Ivy League trained board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with an expertise in preventative healthcare. She considers nutrition and exercise to be the basis of well-being and is a strong advocate for daily physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet. Sarah-Kate is also a co-founder of The Mindful Tech Lab

Top Healthy Ways to Gain Weight

Gaining weight is not as easy as it sounds, especially if you are someone who likes to eat healthy and loves to exercise. That being said, there are definitely ways to tweak your diet and exercise routine to gain weight in a healthy way without having to ditch your healthy lifestyle.

Read below to learn the best ways to gain weight the healthy way:

Limit high intensity exercise

Avoid any type of high intensity exercise, such as running or interval training. These types of exercises tend to burn the most amount of calories and may even blunt your appetite – not what you want when you are trying to gain weight. You don’t have to completely stop exercising (some exercise can actually help to boost appetite) but stick to low impact activities such as walking and body weight exercises.

Pair carbohydrates with fat

Carbohydrates paired with fat is basically the best combination to gain weight. Stick to natural and non-processed carbohydrates and fats, such as sweet potato with nut butter – one of my personal favorite combos!

Eat smaller, more frequent meals

Eating smaller meals is easier for your body to digest so that you can make room for another meal soon. When you eat a large meal, especially a carb and fat heavy meal, this can overload your digestive system and cause you to not want to eat for a long time.

Avoid fat-free foods

If you are trying to gain weight, go for full-fat foods which will have more calories and will help to put on the pounds.

Go for sandwiches rather than salads

Salad greens virtually have no calories and they take up space in your stomach which can make you feel fuller faster – not what you want when you are trying to gain weight. The bread in sandwiches adds a good amount of carbs and calories to your meal.

Pair a smoothie with a meal

Smoothies are great for helping you to gain weight because drinking something doesn’t trigger your brain that you are full as much as eating and chewing something does.

Some of my favorite high calorie ingredients include organic full-fat milk, fruit, nut butter, yogurt, and protein powder.

Don’t go low carb

A low carb diet is great for keeping you full – not what you want when you are trying to gain weight. Carbohydrates are very helpful for gaining weight because they won’t make you as full as eating a high fat or high protein diet. Aim to eat some carbs at every snack and meal.

Use organic milk instead of water

Using organic whole milk instead of water is an excellent way to get  in more calories, protein, fat, calcium and other nutrients.  For example, if you normally use water to make meals such as oatmeal or protein shakes, use organic whole milk instead. Can’t drink milk? No problem, use a nut milk which will at least have more calories than just plain water.

Main takeaways…

If you are someone that needs to gain weight, understand that this doesn’t mean you need to gorge on pasta or pizza. Stick to non-processed real foods, and aim to have a mix of carbohydrates and fat at every meal.

6 Signs You Need A Rest Day From Your Workout

There is such a thing as too much exercise and this is called over training. Overtraining can lead to not only burnout from exercise, but also injury and pain and can end up doing much more harm than good when you push too hard for too long. If you have been hitting the gym hard daily and you can’t remember the last time you took a day off from working out, it is probably a good idea to take a rest from the gym. 

Below are the top 6 signs you need to take a rest day:

1. You have low energy

Feeling tired and low energy is a sign that you might be overtraining and need to take a day off from the gym. This is because when you do hard exercise daily this can exhaust your nervous system and lead to burn out and fatigue.

2. Your easy workout feels hard

If you are having a difficult time getting through a workout that you can normally do with no problem, this is a clear sign your body needs a break. Instead go for a walk around the neighborhood and try a yoga class.

3. You are having trouble sleeping

If you are having trouble sleeping this is a sign that your body has been overly stressed and may need rest. Exercises increases the stress hormones in your body, and when they do not have a chance to come down and level out, the stress response can last throughout the day and into the evening to disrupt sleep.

4. Soreness isn’t going away

It’s normal to feel sore after a hard workout, but if it’s been several days or even weeks that you are still sore, this is a clear sign you need to give your muscles a rest. Exercise breaks muscle down so that they can rebuild to become toned and stronger, however, if you don’t give them adequate rest they will just continue to break down.

5. Your resting heart rate is elevated

Your resting heart rate is exactly that – your heart rate at rest. Individuals who work out regularly will have lower resting heart rates because exercise works out the heart muscle, hence the word “cardio.” As the heart muscle gets stronger it is able to pump out more blood with a greater force per beat, leading to less heart beats per minute. An elevated resting heart rate from your normal rate is a sign of stress, which can be both psychological and exercise induced. If you have been working out hard several days in a row consider taking a rest day and see if your heart rate returns to normal.

6. You’re feeling stressed 

Working out hard causes a rise of cortisol, the primary stress hormone in your body. Too much exercise can cause excessive cortisol production which can start to make you feel stressed. Exercise is the best thing to relieve mental stress, however, if you over due it on the exercise this can actually induce more mental stress.

Main takeaway…

If you are experiencing one or more of the above, consider whether you need to take a rest day to recover and feel better. A rest day doesn’t mean sitting on the couch all day. Make it an active rest day and still aim for 10,000 steps or try a light yoga class.


  1. http://www.medicaldaily.com/5-signs-overtraining-racing-heart-rate-poor-sleep-396376
  2. https://www.nature.com/articles/icb200070

Top Signs and Symptoms You Need A Day Off From Exercise

Go ahead and pat yourself on the back if you have consistently been hitting the gym and working out! That being said, there is such a thing as too much exercise and if you aren’t giving your body the rest it needs it will start to breakdown. 

Read below to learn the top signs and symptoms that you need a break from your workout:

You’re not sleeping well

If your body is under a ton of stress from grueling daily workouts, you can bet your sleep is going to suffer. If you’re suddenly not sleeping well, this could be a sign that you need a break from your workout.

You’re always sore

Feeling a little sore for a day or two after a tough workout is normal, but if it’s been several days or weeks and you are still feeling sore, this is a clear sign that you need to let your muscles rest and recover. Remember that muscles get stronger AFTER a workout and need adequate time to recover to become stronger.

You feel low energy

Too much physical stress on the body can make you feel lethargic. If you are feeling low energy throughout the day and you’ve been consistently hitting the gym, this could mean you need to give your body a break.

You’re not enjoying your workouts

You definitely don’t want to associate a workout with dread! If you start to dread a workout that you once enjoyed, this is a sign you need to take a break.

You’re workout makes you feel more tired

A workout is supposed to give you energy, not make you tired. If you are finding that you feel even more exhausted after your workout is over, this is an indicator that your body has not been able to recover properly from previous workouts.

You’re resting heart rate is elevated

An elevation in resting heart rate indicates your body is under stress. When your body is under stress this causes the fight or flight response which causes your body to release hormones that will speed up your heart rate to pump more oxygen to your organs and brain.

The best time to check your resting heart rate is first thing in the morning when you wake up, before jumping out of bed. Another option is  to use a fitness monitor that will tell you your lowest heart rate for the day.

You’re having a hard time getting through your normal workout

If you’re barely making it through a workout that you can normally do with no problem, this is a sign that your body needs a break to rest and recover.

You’ve stopped making progress

Whether it be that you are trying to lose weight or gain muscle, if you’ve noticed that your results have leveled off despite consistently working out, this could mean you need to take a break from your workout. Remember, the magic happens when you are not in the gym – aka when you are resting.

Main takeaways…

If you’ve been experiencing one or more of the above, think back about the last time you took a break from working out. If it’s been a while or you can’t remember, then it is a very good idea to take a day or two off from heavy exercise – your body will thank you! Read here to learn how to make the most of a rest day.

About the author: Sarah-Kate Rems is an Ivy League trained board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with an expertise in preventative healthcare. She considers nutrition and exercise to be the basis of well-being and is a strong advocate for daily physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet. Sarah-Kate is also a co-founder of The Mindful Tech Lab.

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Should You Eat Breakfast Before Or After Exercise?

I am a huge advocate for exercising first thing in the morning for many reasons, including how it sets the tone for the day, gives you energy, and makes you feel good. I am also an advocate for going into your morning workout on an empty stomach, aka in a fasted state, and saving your breakfast for after your workout is finished.

Read below to learn why I recommend eating AFTER your morning workout:

1. It could make you burn more fat

Research shows you may burn more fat if you go into your workout in a fasted state. This is because overnight your body runs out of glucose (aka carbs) for energy and so it starts burning fat for fuel while you sleep. When you wake up your body is still in this fat-burning state, meaning exercising on an empty stomach first thing could accelerate this fat-burning. If you eat carbs first thing in the morning, this breaks the fast (hence breakfast) and you are no longer in a fat-burning state and you are now in a carb burning state.

Health Hack: Coffee before a workout has been shown to possibly accelerate fat-burning. If you need something to get you going in the morning, consider having a cup of coffee with non-dairy milk and a glass of water.

2. You don’t have to wait to workout

Most individuals do not have a lot of time in the morning, am I right? If you plan to eat after your workout then you can just get up and go rather than having to prepare your breakfast, eat your breakfast, and then wait for it to digest.

3. You won’t get heartburn

The worst is when you eat right before a workout and then you have heartburn all throughout the exercise. When you go into your workout with an empty stomach you don’t have to worry about this uncomfortable situation!

4. You won’t feel as lethargic

When you eat before a workout this can cause you to feel weighed down and even tired, especially if you had a carb heavy breakfast.

5. You’ll get through your workout faster

If you have your breakfast to look forward to after your workout, this will make you want to get your workout done more efficiently and quickly, rather than just socializing or wasting time at the gym.

6. Big refuel after

Hooray your workout is done! Now you can feast on a good meal after.

7. Less time planning

Rather than wasting your precious time thinking about what you should eat when you first wake up, you can just get up and go and think about what you want for breakfast during your workout.

8. MUCH less likely to talk yourself out of working out

The longer you wait to exercise in the morning, the higher the likelihood you will convince yourself you don’t need to workout. This is especially true after eating breakfast which can make you feel more relaxed, and make your bed look very inviting.

9. You’ll enjoy your breakfast more

A hard workout makes you feel accomplished and because you literally worked for your breakfast, it makes that meal that much better – you deserved it!

Main takeaways…

It can definitely be an adjustment to waiting to eat until after your workout is finished, but the benefits are worth it!