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Tips of the week Photo shock to increase motivation

Tipps der Woche Foto Schock zur Steigerung der Motivation

This is an old story that Arnold likes to tell. The young Schwarzenegger had very modest calves. He was so self-conscious about it that he once stood in a pond during a photo shoot to hide his calves. Well, one day he had had enough. He cut off the bottom of his jogging bottoms so that everyone could see his calves - including his competitors. This motivated him to bring his calves up to the level of development of the rest of his body.

Photo Shocked on Facebook

Today, something similar often happens to us - albeit usually unintentionally. We see a photo of ourselves - usually somewhere on social media - and we are confronted with a reality check: "Hey, who's that flabby guy wearing my T-shirt? Oh, wait...shit."

This is known as being "photo shocked". For various reasons, many people have a very distorted image of themselves, which is especially true when it comes to body composition. Even the mirror doesn't seem to give them the correct message. But photos do.

When I developed the Velocity Diet, I wrote a section to encourage people to take progress photos. The idea was to give them a real idea of the changes taking place - something more accurate than just the weight on the scale. It's hard to see small changes in your body on a daily basis, but these become obvious and motivating when you look at photos from the previous month.

But these progress photos also had an unexpected effect. Many people said "I was absolutely shocked when I looked at the first set of photos. I knew I was fatter than I wanted to be, but I had no idea I was THAT fat!" Her motivation to change something increased greatly after this reality check.

Not every form of motivation has something to do with positive reinforcement. Sometimes a slap in the face can also be motivating. The only question is, are you ready to beat yourself up?

Take 3 photos

This might be difficult for many people, but as Arnold said about the display trick - it works - and that's all that matters.

Set yourself free. Have someone take 3 photos of you or use a tripod and a self-timer. Don't do sefies. You will be tempted - perhaps even unconsciously - to pose in a way that hides the areas you need to work on.

Take one photo from the front, one from the back and one from the side. No pulling in your stomach, no trying to get the best lighting, no tensing, no filters. These need to be painfully honest photos.

Then look at these pictures. Are you fatter than you thought? Skinnier - and not in a good way? Do you see imbalances, posture problems or underdeveloped muscle groups? The photos taken from behind might be the ones that bring the most surprises, as we rarely see ourselves from this angle.

Maybe you'll just say "Yes, I'm just as sexy as I thought!". However, if this is not the case, then use this "data" to make the necessary changes to your diet and training. You may realize that all your excuses and apologies just fall away.

A photo shock like this could give you the motivation to do what should be done anyway - like giving up your beer, doing hip thrusts at the gym and maybe even rethinking the "anything over 3 reps is cardio" mantra. Give it a go if you dare. Arnold would do it.

Tip: Perform antagonistic training

Recover faster and get stronger by manipulating your nervous system.

By Chad Waterbury


Antagonistic training means that you alternate exercises that target opposite muscle groups such as chest and back, biceps and triceps, etc. The list of benefits includes faster recovery, greater strength gains and shorter training sessions.

Antagonistic training allows you to recover faster between sets due to the arrangement of the nervous system. When you maximally activate one muscle group, the nervous system inhibits the opposite muscle group for greater movement efficiency. This phenomenon reduces the time needed for recovery and helps to restore strength.

Example: Arm training

When you perform a set of bicep curls, your triceps are forced to relax so as not to get in the way of the arm flexing action of the biceps. This is achieved by a "loop" within the structure of the nervous system - when certain motor units are activated, others are inhibited. If this action didn't take place, then you wouldn't be able to move your joints as each set of opposing muscles would try to contract against each other.

You can use this to your advantage. If you alternate exercises for opposing muscle groups, the nervous system will inhibit the muscles that are not being trained, allowing them to return to full strength more quickly. So if you are training your chest, alternate it with a rowing exercise for your back. You can also combine shoulder presses with pull-ups or lat pull-downs to achieve the same effect.

Think of antagonistic training as a kind of mini-yoga session for opposing muscle groups. You'll be able to complete your chest/back cycle in less time compared to training both muscle groups separately and you'll also get stronger.

Tip: Understand the law of metabolic demands

Stop using the word "weight" and get smarter about calories.

By Dr. Jade Teta


The body is very good at multitasking

Your body either wants to burn or build, but not both. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but these primarily concern beginners and people using anabolic hormones.

This is the law of metabolic requirements. The body responds to what it is exposed to. This is one of the most important insights when it comes to the calorie discussion. The idea that excess calorie intake always leads to an increase in body fat and a reduction in calorie intake always leads to fat loss is not accurate. You can reduce your calorie intake and lose weight, but that weight does not necessarily have to be fat.

Scientific research tells us that the standard "eat less, exercise more" diet approach leads to a loss of about 20 to 50% of lean tissue (water, glycogen, muscle). This is important because your resting metabolic rate is responsible for over two thirds of the calories you burn at rest and over half of your resting metabolic rate is determined by your muscle mass.

So you can increase your calorie intake and gain weight, but that weight could be fat. You could, of course, build lean body tissue instead, and if you do this, you'll be doing your metabolism a favor. The demands you place on your body will determine whether excess calories are used to build fat or muscle and whether a reduction in calories will result in a reduction in fat or muscle mass.

This is why experts agree that training with weights should be the dominant form of exercise during a fat loss program. It is the only type of exercise that makes extra calories available for gains in muscle mass rather than gains in fat. However, it is not a form of exercise that burns large amounts of calories.

The study

There is one study that reflects this well. This study was published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 1999 and looked at two groups of obese subjects following the same low-calorie diet. One group performed an aerobic exercise program (walking, cycling or jogging). The other group performed resistance training three times a week and no aerobic exercise at all.

After 12 weeks, both groups had lost weight. The group that did aerobic training had lost 37 pounds of weight, of which 27 pounds was fat and 10 pounds was muscle. The group that had done resistance training lost 32 pounds, of which 32 pounds was fat and 0 pounds was muscle.

When the resting metabolic rate was calculated, the scientists concluded that the group that had done the aerobic training burned 210 kcal less per day than before the study began. In contrast, the group that had completed resistance training was able to increase their metabolic rate by 63 kcal per day.

What you do has a direct impact on whether a calorie is a calorie. You can't look at calories separately from lifestyle.

Tip: Use the ladder method

Accumulate volume, control fatigue and get strong with the help of this smart training method

By Chad Waterbury


The ladder system is simple: start with one repetition of an exercise and add one more repetition to each set until you reach 5 repetitions. At this point, reduce the repetitions back to one repetition and start the sequence again. Continue in this way until you have reached your target number of repetitions - let's say 50 repetitions. This is a surefire way to pack as much volume as possible into a minimal amount of time.

Many trainers recommend starting with a weight that you can move between 5 and 15 reps when rested. I have been successful with a value in the middle. My athletes use a weight that they can move ten times when rested to start with the following sequence

  • 1 repetition
    • Pause for 30 seconds
  • 2 repetitions
    • Pause 30 seconds
  • 3 repetitions
    • Pause 30 seconds
  • 4 repetitions
    • Pause 30 seconds
  • 5 repetitions
    • Pause for 30 seconds

After you have reached 5 repetitions, go back to one repetition and start the sequence again. This entire process should be repeated 3 to 5 times.

This method controls fatigue as much as possible. As soon as you start to get tired, you react and go back to a repetition. This allows you to do more repetitions than you could have done if you had burned out on the first sets.

Try this method with any multi-joint exercise that allows you to build muscle where you need it most. Front squats for bigger thighs, deadlifts for a more muscular posterior chain, pull-ups or dips for a massive upper body.

Performing 20 strict pull-ups is a challenge that many have yet to master. That's a shame, because this is a damn good test of relative strength (a measure of how strong you are relative to your body weight) - not to mention an excellent muscle-building exercise for the upper body. Add two ladder workouts per week with a goal of 100 reps (10 cycles) to your training program and you'll get there.

Tip: Perform kettlebell swings for better deadlift performance

Develop explosiveness, improve your groove and increase your work capacity

By Erick Avila | 03/10/16


Want to handle more weight when deadlifting? Kettlebell swings could be the missing tool in your toolbox.

Deadlifting is a technical skill - and like any skill, you need to practice deadlifting regularly to get better at it. Kettlebell swings are not meant to replace deadlifts, but this movement can be a valuable tool to help you perform better in the deadlift. Kettlebell swings offer a variety of benefits that translate to your deadlift performance. In fact, Andy Bolton - one of the first powerlifters to deadlift more than 1000 pounds - has been promoting kettlebell swings for a long time.

The benefits


Kettlebell swings improve maximal and explosive strength - both of which translate to higher weights in deadlifts. A six-week study in which 21 healthy men trained kettlebell swings twice a week with either 12 or 16 kilo kettlebells found that explosive strength increased by 9.8% and explosive power by 19.8%.

This is important because increased maximal strength means a higher amount of force you can produce in a single repetition max. The stronger you are, the more weight you can move.

Similarly, an increase in explosive power results from an increased rate of force development in heavier training weights. The higher the rate of force development, the faster we can recruit muscle fibers. This is an advantage when we want to move heavier weights - especially in deadlifts, where we start the movement from a position of complete stagnation and need to produce force quickly.

Improving the groove of the movement

Regular repetition of the same movement with correct technique improves our neuromuscular pathways, movement efficiency and strength levels. Kettlebell swings improve the groove of aggressive hinge movements around the hip joint and for heavy deadlifts a strong hip hinge is important.

It is quite difficult to recover after frequent heavy deadlifts. Kettlebell swings allow you to recover more quickly despite the eccentric component of the movement, which means that you can train this exercise several times a week. You will be able to improve the groove of aggressive heavy movements in the hip area, which translates to better movement mechanics in the deadlift.

Work capacity

If you ever want to put your conditioning to the test, try performing kettlebell swings in the form of intervals, or performing kettlebell swings without rest for a given amount of time. Both will challenge your aerobic, anaerobic and strength endurance levels. Improving on these qualities will result in better overall conditioning, which will allow you to perform more repetitions/sets during a training session and recover better from the workload.


1. Lake, J. P., & Lauder, M. A. (2012). Kettlebell Swing Training Improves Maximal and Explosive Strength. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(8), 2228-2233.


By Chris Shugart

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