All posts by Will Levy

This Week’s Best Podcasts for Training, Nutrition and Health

Learning while lifting

Between running a business training clients, training myself, writing, interacting on social media including playing admin on what I dub the best Facebook group for fitness professionals going around, though I’m biased (if you’re a fitpro and are interested, ask me about it on Facebook) and, you know, life, I don’t get as much time as I once did to read heaps of online articles and blog posts. While I still have a few favourites I regularly check up on, and I’ll open up an interesting looking link that comes across my social media here and there, I’ll leave any attempt at writing up a “best of” collaboration post for reading material to those that are now better suited to do so.

But this isn’t to say I’ve slacked off in the continuing education department. Far from it, in fact. My reading time has simply been redirected away from online content to more actual books, as well a fair share of research reviews and the odd full study (I’m by no means a “research guy”, but I’m learning). But primarily, I spend a heap of time educating myself through more time efficient means, i.e. things where I can multitask.  Continue reading This Week’s Best Podcasts for Training, Nutrition and Health

A Case for Isolation Training

In his book Antifragile, Nassim Taleb describes the concept of optionality or, fittingly for a training discussion, a “barbell strategy” a term borrowed from Taleb’s finance background and applied as a principle across many domains.
The rationale of this barbell strategy is that environments or situations where the potential risks and rewards are asymmetrical – to the tune of small losses when the risk becomes reality, or a large payoff when you strike a winner – as opposed to the symmetrically “moderate” and risk-averse, will render one robust, or better still, antifragile, while the alternative middle ground can leave a person fragile.

A “Barbell Strategy”, AKA Optionality,
AKA an Asymmetry.

Continue reading A Case for Isolation Training

Cleaning Up the Quads with Self-Massage/Foam Rolling

Following up on Tuesday’s post Correcting the Foam Roller Thoracic Extension, I’ve got another short video for you today on how to properly – in my opinion – tackle foam rolling for the quadriceps (quads).
*Edit August 2015: I no longer believe “self myofascial release (SMR)” to be a reasonable term for foam rolling or what is really just self-massage, as I now realise that we aren’t really “releasing” anything, and we’re certainly not affecting the fascia in any structural manner; so I’ve edited those terms out. 

The quads comprise four big, strong prime mover muscles (vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, vastus lateralis and rectus femoris). These are active in many daily tasks from low level movements such as walking and standing up from sitting, to high amplitude movements like running, jumping and kicking. In the gym, they’ll be involved in many of the major exercises you’re likely to perform, and are primarily worked in lower body exercises that we may categorise as, surprise surprise, “quad dominant” (AKA “knee dominant”) such as most squat variations, split squat and lunge variations, and more bodybuilding specific machine exercises like leg presses and leg extensions.
Basically, it’s a big, powerful muscle group that tends to cop a beating on a regular basis. Continue reading Cleaning Up the Quads with Self-Massage/Foam Rolling

Correcting the Foam Roller Thoracic Extension

While we may not yet fully understand the exact mechanism behind self myofascial release (SMR) – which as trainers we tend to collectively label as “foam rolling”, often regardless of the implement used – what we’re pretty sure we do know is that performing some SMR generally helps people feel and move better. As such, it’s common practice for trainers and strength coaches to include a short SMR/foam rolling/soft tissue work section in their clients’ programs, typically allowing 5-10 minutes at the beginning of the session, before moving onto some mobility work, some type of dynamic warm up, then into the training proper.
One particularly part of the foam rolling series that causes confusion and I often see performed incorrectly is the thoracic spine. This is usually because Continue reading Correcting the Foam Roller Thoracic Extension

Does Fitness Make Us Better Thinkers? (AKA How To Strike Up A Conversation Over A Beer With A Fitness Professional)

The Thinker: I bet he even lifts

Fitness, and all things pertaining to it, is a huge part of my life. It is my passion, my hobby, my career and my life’s work.
Have you ever seen someone quote themselves just two sentences after the act? Watch this:

“Fitness, and all pertaining to it…”
All pertaining to fitness. What is that?

Well, if you’re the layman or laywoman with no affiliation to any realm of fitness, you probably presume that most personal trainers, strength coaches and gym junkies care about nothing outside of their training and their next protein shake.
Actually, come to think about it, that’s probably a fair assumption for a significant chunk of personal trainers in the fit biz.
Well, I’m not speaking for them. I’m talking about the legitimate professionals in the field, those from whom I learn, teach, interact with and connect with online on a regular basis. The “good” fitpros tend to seek each other out. These are the people who are progressing our profession and improving its reputation.

So pertaining to fitness. Where does that take us?  Continue reading Does Fitness Make Us Better Thinkers? (AKA How To Strike Up A Conversation Over A Beer With A Fitness Professional)

A New Exercise To Test Drive….And To Name.

Internet Forever!
Image credit: Hyperbole and a half.

I haven’t posted here in more than a little while. I’d like to say it’s due to being incredibly busy working, in between Jacuzzi parties with Swedish swimsuit models, but it’s not.
I’ve just been slack. And lacking writing inspiration.
Well, actually I have been busy. Somehow I seem to be training more clients in person than I have in years, despite attempting to actively reduce my workload. I haven’t taken on anybody new (I haven’t actively sought to take on new clients for about four years now) but it just seems that everything has aligned where everybody is present and healthy, so my training shifts have been consistently long and dense, and my training program writing demand has increased exponentially. First world problems I guess. Continue reading A New Exercise To Test Drive….And To Name.

Two Tips To Make Your Training Program Better Today

Right alongside citing Simpson’s facts, making awesome breakfast smoothies, and dominating the original Snake game on a Nokia 3315, writing training programs is kind of my “thing”. It just makes sense to me. I feel I’m able to manage small but important details without losing sight of the bigger picture. Having a fair bit of practice under my belt helps. I’ve written literally thousands of training programs over hundreds of hours. They’re constantly evolving. I’m sure the earliest ones sucked. That happens.

But you don’t need your programs to suck. You can take a shortcut from those of us who have put in the hours. Or at the very least, incorporate a few tips here and there.
Here are two such tips.

1. Throw things, and jump. Continue reading Two Tips To Make Your Training Program Better Today

The Number One, Absolute, Best Nutrition Tip

Diet ConfusionCalories in vs. calories out, or Fuck Calories?

6 small meals per day, or intermittent fasting and feasting?

Paleo or IIFYM?

Carb cycling or Carb Backloading or Cyclic Ketogenic Diet?

The lemon detox diet vs. The purple diet?

Bahaha! Ok, not really.
But as for the first four series above (and others) they are all genuine dietary strategies that currently exist with varying levels of popularity and legitimacy. Do you recognise what they all have in common? Continue reading The Number One, Absolute, Best Nutrition Tip

What’s Will Reading?

bookshelfAshamedly, I was a late bloomer when it comes to reading. Not in the sense that I couldn’t – I’m a plenty capable, albeit rather slow, reader – but somewhere along the way I picked up some absurd notion that reading was boring, a waste of time.

And I really have no explanation for it. I’ve always loved the whole process of learning. If I let myself, I could easily become fascinated and infatuated with almost any subject. As a wee lad I enjoyed story time immensely. The earliest reaches of my memory include Continue reading What’s Will Reading?

Will goes to a Yoga class: Enlightenment does not ensue – Part 2

Yoga nailed-itAnd we’re back. In part 1 I outlined my recent Yoga workshop experience and what I liked about it. For those of you too lazy to go back and read it we’re no longer friends I dot-pointed the positives of the class which included an emphasis on proper breathing, mobility work, balance, and hot chicks.

Today I’m going to cover the not-so-great aspects of the class and, by extension, Yoga in general, that I feel more people should be aware of, and which will probably drive the Yogi fanatics to start clubbing baby seals. Meh, can’t win ’em all.

What I didn’t like: Continue reading Will goes to a Yoga class: Enlightenment does not ensue – Part 2