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These are some personal observations on Weight Training, and some quick suggestions on how to improve your results.

Firstly, any weight loss program worth ANYTHING involves weight training. If you are not weight training in some way, you are selling yourself short. And if your goal isn’t weight loss but muscle gain, well I hope the need for weight training is obvious in this case 😉

Alright, on to the observations

I like to break weight training down into two core parts – Getting strong on some basic lifts, and then putting in the work.

Now, ‘Getting strong’ doesn’t mean you need to be a powerlifter crushing world records or an olympic gymnast doing mind-blowing feats of strength… you just need to get stronger then you were a month or two ago.

And though I do not think the relationship between strength and muscle mass is as linear as people would like to believe, there really does seem to be an elevated baseline of strength needed in order to truly reap the benefits of working out, but to reap those rewards you also need to ‘put in the work’.

‘Putting in the work’ simply means spending time challenging your muscles with sub-maximal work.

So time spent challenging the muscles with heavy weights in order to become stronger, and time spent challenging the muscles with sub-maximal weights in order build up their capacity to adapt to challenge.

My very general observations have been that when men are having problems getting the results they want from their workouts, there tends to be an overemphasis on getting strong, at the expense of time spent ‘putting in the work’.

For women I have found the opposite to be true. When Woman are having a hard time getting the results they want, there is a lot of time spent ‘putting in the work’ but not enough ‘getting strong on some basic lifts’.

To sum up, as a quick suggestion – If you are not seeing the results from your workouts that you would like, or that you expect, look to see if you are making either of these mistakes.

I don’t have fancy charts or graphs to tell you how strong you should be or how much work you  need to do, but I can say that if you have been weight training consistently then you should be getting stronger, and your ability to do work (work capacity) should be increasing. If this isn’t happening it may be time to change your workout program.


Hypertrophy vs Strength

by Brad Pilon

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Hypertrophy requires consistent challenge to a muscle group. You could argue it takes constant unaccustomed challenge.

Hypertrophy can be seen as a sort of immune response to an unfamiliar challenge. It’s how your body reacts to an attack, in this case the attack is the challenge of the workout.

Increasing the load (the amount of weight you lift) is one of many ways to accomplish this.

Lifting heavy during an exercise will make you stronger at that specific exercise, because you are practicing lifting a heavy weight…. so in essence strength comes from practicing being strong.

Hypertrophy increases strength potential, but that’s as far as the relationship goes. A bigger muscle will always have more potential to be stronger than a smaller muscle, but to make that potential a reality, you need to practice.

Hypertrophy needs challenge, strength needs practice.


Sometimes it’s art

by Brad Pilon

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Before anything else I was an artist.

I loved to draw and paint and create. Still do.

When I was young I drew Birds. When I got a little older I drew Ninja Turtles and Transformers. I eventually progressed to paints and pastels, charcoal and various other mediums. I did portraits and landscapes and movie scenes. You name it, I tried to create it.

If I saw a blank piece of paper and a pencil I drew. Not because I hated the paper, but because I wanted to create something that I thought was beautiful.

I didn’t really care what other people thought – Yes I enjoyed the accolades when other people liked what I created, but for the most part I drew to create something that was beautiful TO ME.

This is what I do now with my body.

I try to create something that is beautiful to me. Again, I enjoy the accolades when other people enjoy it too, but the point of the art was to create a body that I found beautiful.

I didn’t hate the body before… I didn’t view it as less than or ugly.

I didn’t do it to fit in to social pressures (At least not knowingly) nor did I do it to please someone else…

I didn’t even want to create a body that was perfect. I just wanted to create.

Weight loss, building muscle – it doesn’t have to be ugly. It doesn’t have to be about hating yourself, or an obsession with perfection. Not everyone who tries to lose weight or build muscle does so out of self hate and social pressures.

Sometimes it’s art.





How to be good enough

by Brad Pilon

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I am not a perfectionist, and I don’t think you have to be one in order to be ‘healthy’.

Sure, to get ridiculously low levels of body fat and extreme levels of muscularity, you have to be very dedicated, but once you step away from the ledge of extremes you’ll find that you can get a way with looking pretty good and feeling pretty good on a relatively small amount of work, and certainly a lot less stress.

I fast twice a week for roughly 24 hours. Sometimes it’s twenty, but rarely is it ever over twenty-four. This, combined with somewhat responsible eating ( I didn’t get a donut this morning, but I am eating a bowl of frosted mini-wheats) keeps my body fat somewhere between 10 and 12%. Not fitness model 8% or extremely low 6%, but a pretty good 10 to 12%.  It’s pretty good, and I’m OK with that.

I work out with weights roughly twice per week. This amount of training is not going to win me any bodybuilding contests, but it’s enough to keep the base I built over the last twenty years. I could workout more, and sometimes I do, but right now, 2 workouts per week means a lot of extra time to spend with my family. and I’m more than OK with this too.

I’m also pretty good at staying healthy. Yesterday news came out that suggested that consuming processed meat is linked to cancer. Eating 50 grams of processed meat per day can slightly increase your risk of Bowel Cancer. Well, for two 24 hour periods per week I don’t eat any meat at all. So no stress. Sugar is apparently bad for you too.. again for two 24 hour periods per week I don’t eat any sugar at all… so I’m not too worried about that one either.

Could I do more for my health? Green smoothies every day, no alcohol, only raw organic local produce? sure. But I’m OK with where I am.

Bottom line – there are lots of experts who can help you with the extremes. So if extreme is what you want, there are lots of options.  I’m a master of ‘good enough’. If looking good and being healthy is important to you, but not at the expense of consuming your life, than I have some pretty simple, time tested advice.

  1. Fast once or twice a week – it doesn’t have to be 24 hours, it could be 16, or 20, must make sure you’re taking a break from eating occasionally.
  2. Stress less. Do your best to only stress about the things that are actually worth stressing about.
  3. Lift. As little as twice a week can do wonders. Three to four times per week is great, just be careful as you’ll start to see diminishing returns after a while.
  4. Move. Do something that makes you breath a little harder each and every day. I like climbing, but do something that you find fun.
  5. Eat. PLEASE EAT. But eat responsibly. You don’t have to be a saint with your food, but you can’t eat like every day is thanksgiving either.
  6. Sleep – Get a good nights sleep. If you’re doing the first five things properly, this should be a little bit easier.

It’s a bit of an art-science to discover your own ‘pretty good’ and your own ‘good enough’.  A beautiful blend of combining what you know you should do with what you actually want to do. It’s worth knowing and worth experimenting with… life shouldn’t always be about extremes.


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Here’s my take on the whole ‘5 foods to lose weight’ thing

List the 5 foods you know you have to eat for weight loss. They can be any combination of the daily things you eat that either A) support your weight loss efforts, or B) You need to eat in order to NOT feel like you are on some crazy restrictive diet that is slowly ruining your life and making you a miserable person to be around 😉

Here’s my list:

1- Protein – I like to have around 100 grams a day, and without supplements this takes a little practice

2 – Water – OK, not technically a food, but it helps keep my head clear and I can tell when I forget to drink enough.

3 – Espresso in the morning – Probably the only thing that keeps me from committing terrible crimes

4 – Guinness – Want to make me VERY aware that I am dieting? Then take this away from me. I don’t need a drink every night, but knowing I CAN have  pint if I WANT TO goes a long way in making responsible eating manageable.

5 – Mint chocolate chip ice-cream – If I had to choose between having Ice-cream or abs, I would go buy bigger pants right now. The ice-cream would win. Luckily I don’t have to make that choice. I just have to keep the serving size realistic.

That’s my 5 foods. If I keep these all as priorities and acceptable options then weight loss and weight maintenance are much easier for me. If I don’t keep these in check, then weight loss becomes difficult and I become miserable, making me feel ‘restricted’ which usually ends with me breaking down after a week or two, since I miss eating the foods and having the drinks I like the most.

I’d like you to take some time and identify your 5 foods.  They can be any combination of foods you feel you ‘need’ while losing weight (like my protein and water) and foods you ‘want’ in order to feel human (everything else on my  list).

Once you have your list of 5 foods, here’s what you do next:

Tally up the Calories that come from your 5 foods. Feel free to round up.

For me this comes to:

1 – 100 grams of protein X 4 Calories per gram, plus a bunch of heavy rounding = 500 Calories
2 – Zero Calories
3 – Zero Calories
4 – 120 Calories, but I’ll round to 150 to be safe (Calories in Beer vary from country to country so don’t take this as gospel)
5 – 250 Calories, but I’ll round to 350 to be safe (Depends on the brand)

Next subtract these calories from your daily calorie goal.

So my ‘must haves’ come to 1,000 calories. This means I have anywhere from 800 to 1,400 calories every day for other food. And remember, it’s not like I have ice-cream and Guinness EVERY day, so sometimes this number is lower.

The bottom line is now I only have to worry about the ‘other foods’ I eat in a day. And it’s much easier to be good knowing that the foods I really want to have, I’m allowed to have. No feeling deprived.

Identifying your ‘must haves’ helps keep everything in perspective as you try to manage your weight.

Try it out as a perfect edition to the Eat Stop Eat lifestyle

Your friend,


Never Skip Leg Day

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Friends don’t let friends skip leg day, or so the saying goes… Small legs, chicken legs, the triumphant retort of any one to any body with a good bench or built upper body… But is it justified? Legs are important to sports performance and good physique, not to mention your long term health (A smaller […]

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Does Fasting make you fat?

If I remember correctly, the FTC views the use of animal research in supplement advertising to be one of the most heinous advertising infractions, right up there with Photoshopped before and after photos. Why? Because they believed that due to the lack of transferability of animal research to humans, doing so would be intentionally misleading […]

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Another weird diet trick

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Here’s another easy trick for successful long term weight loss. …save room for dessert. It’s a simple strategy, but it works. I don’t really count carbs or fats. I count protein and calories, and even then, most of it is a guess. But that’s just me, really it doesn’t matter what it you count, this […]

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One weird trick for weight loss

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I know, I know it sounds like one of those weird weight loss ads, but this is actually a weird trick for you to try. I call it the The calendar method (Truthfully, I think I got this from one of the girls over at VenusFactor) This is a great way to simplify the recording […]

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My Weekly Routine

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In any given week I do something called carb-cycling. Throughout the week I will cycle from days where I eat a normal amount of carbs to times  where I eat zero carbs, and in between I have times where I eat low carb. I also Front Load and Back Load my Calories Twice a week […]

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