Bulletproof Glutes

When you hear the names J-Lo, Kim Kardashian, Beyonce and Nicki Minaj one thing typically comes to mind, and no it’s not their stellar singing abilities ha! The one thing all four of these ladies have in common is they are famous for is their impressive Glutes!

The glutes (aka butt, derriere, booty, backside, etc) is a common source of discussion in most gyms and fitness centers. It’s equally a hot topic with our clients at Dallas Underground Strength and Fitness. Our female clients want a shapelier backside to fill our their curves and our guys want powerful glutes to fill out their jeans. The common practice to build impressive glutes has been to spend plenty of time under a heavy squat bar, or perform endless lunges until your legs feel like they are on fire.

While spending time with squats and lunges will build an impressive foundation to work with, it’s the finer details that will take you from building a Butt to building that ASS, and I’m going to share two secrets I use with our clients at DUSF to build a better booty!

The first movement is the Kettlebell Swing

The kettlebell swing is a fundamental movement in the Russian and american kettlebell training systems. This movement focuses on training the hamstrings, the low back, the core and of course the glutes. It has an added bonus of raising your kick-starting your metabolism and torching belly fat.  However most people I see performing swings are doing these inefficiently or incorrectly.

Check out this video from Rachel Cosgrove from Results Fitness how to perform a proper swing.

The kettlebell swing is a versatile tool that can be used for strength training, metabolic conditioning, and fat burning in your training regiment. Form is key with the Swing and I recommend contacting a certified trainer or instructor who is qualified in teaching kettlebell technique.

The second booty-boosting movement is the Barbell Hip Extension.

Popularized by Bret Contreras (aka the Glute Guy), Barbell Hip Extensions, also called a barbell hip bridge, this movement will definitely help put some Mass on that Ass in no time flat!  All that’s needed is a barbell, a few plate weights, and a little space. You can use a sturdy bench to increase range of motion, and there are a few apparatuses designed for this movement. This video shows one of our clients performing a barbell hip extension at DUSF.

I recommend incorporating this movement mainly as a finisher movement for up to 20 reps per set at the end of a workout, but this could definitely be performed earlier in your workout if you are wanting to focus on your glutes. I would NOT recommend performing these before a heavy squat or deadlift workout since the glutes are heavily involved with these movements.

Don’t be surprised if you have trouble getting out of your chair for a day or so after putting these in your workout!

Stay strong and train hard peeps!


Raise Testosterone Naturally

Today’s post is primarily targeted to the “dudes” at Dallas Underground Strength and Fitness, but ladies I would heed you to pay attention to this as well.

The supplementation industry generated over $11.5 Billion dollars in sales during 2012, and is expected to exceed $15.5 Billion by 2017. I guarantee if you look in your neighborhood you will find at least 3-4 supplement shops within 1 square mile of where you are at right now. I don’t know about you, but that is insane! There is one segment of the supplement industry that is starting to dominate the market, and has even made it over to the medical side.

I’m talking about testosterone boosters. You’ve seen the commercials promising the fountain of youth for men over 35 including to, but not limited to promising increased energy, increased libido, decrease in excessive body fat and increasing lean muscle. The medical side has even jumped on the bandwagon with their “Low-T” clinics popping up all over the place.

For the record, if you think you may be suffering from low testosterone you MUST go see your physician to have your levels checked. Do not… do not…. do NOT check consult with your local 18 year old supplement sales rep. Questions? I didn’t think so. Also this article is going to focus on the over the counter supplements, and not the medical clinics run by licensed physicians.

There is no question most of these products work to raise testosterone levels, but you still have to do your homework to make sure you are getting a quality product and not some placebo crap that someone is just peddling to make a buck. Research has also shown including the larger lifts (heavy squats, deadlifts, and bench press) will help to raise your levels as well. The problem is this usually is just a temporary fix. Many of these don’t raise your testosterone levels beyond a few hours, so there needs to be something that can raise both testosterone and GH levels beyond this, and I’ve found it!

There is one factor you can include in your daily routine to naturally raise testosterone levels, decrease stress, reduce cortisol, improve mood, increase energy, and improve your well-being. AND you are already doing this already. This secret is so powerful the supplement companies don’t want you to know what this is because well, quite frankly this will cut into their profit margins.


It’s sleep! Beautiful, glorious sleep!

Getting in 7-8 hours/night is a sure fire way to make sure you stabilize AND improve those levels and so much more. Unfortunately because most of us seem to get less sleep than we should, this can negatively influence our hormone levels.

So how much can missing a few hours of sleep really affect you one might wonder? One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers compared testosterone levels in a group of 10 healthy young men after a week of normal sleep and a week of sleep loss. In the first week, the participants slept eight hours each night at home. Then they had three nights of 10-hour sleep and eight nights of 5-hour sleep in a sleep laboratory. The results showed that testosterone levels decreased by 10%-15% after the week of sleep loss compared with their rested states. This decrease in testosterone levels was also associated with a loss of vigor among the participants.

Another issue is how testosterone affects sleep quality.

A 1992 study followed 67 healthy males between the ages of 45 and 75 found the following were all correlated to an increase in testosterone levels:

  1. Sleep efficiency
  2. Number of REM episodes
  3. Duration of REM episodes
  4. Decreased duration of wake time (from a disturbance such as apnea)

This study did not list by how much average testosterone changed for the study participants: the researchers only reported “statistical significance”. However, from what I have seen, statistical significance translates to at least 20% when it comes to testosterone levels. Remember that 20% is 70 or more ng/dl for a low T guy and can definitely make a difference.

It has been theorized 15% or more of adult workers in the U.S. get five hours or less of sleep per night, and this study suggests this kind of prolonged sleep loss could have a negative consequence on testosterone and men’s well-being. So the premise is get more sleep!!!!!!

Until next time,


Is a Calorie a Calorie?

Today’s post is brought to you via Elle Penner, M.P.H., R.D. who is the Registered Dietitian and fitness editor for MyFitnessPal. This story was emailed to me the other day, and I just had to share this with you. You can see the original post here: http://bit.ly/1ItPW6W

As the dietitian for MyFitnessPal, I’m often asked, “Is a calorie a calorie?” Well, according to the laws of thermodymanics, yes, all calories are created equal (at least on paper). But—and this is a big but—the way the body breaks down carbohydrates, protein and fat, the three main sources of calories in our diet (four if you count alcohol), and the effect they have on our bodies differ vastly. There are semester-long courses that explain just how our bodies break down, burn and store each of these four calorie sources differently (I know because I took one in graduate school), but since this is a 750-word blog post and not a 750-page textbook, I’ll try do my best to briefly explain why not all calories are created equal.


In addition to being a potent and flavorful source of energy, fats slow digestion, deliver important fat-soluble vitamins to the body, and provide important building blocks for every one of our cells.

All dietary fats provide about 9 calories per gram but, as you likely already know, some fats are better for our health than others. For example, polyunsaturated omega-3 fats, found in foods like wild salmon and flaxseed, have protective, anti-inflammatory properties, whereas artificial trans fats have been linked to increased inflammation and heart disease.


Protein also keeps us feeling fuller for longer by slowing digestion, but its primary role in the body is to maintain and build new cells. Protein needs are greatest during childhood, adolescence and pregnancy, when the body is growing and adding new tissues. But we now also know that protein is beneficial during weight loss, as it contributes to satiety and offsets the amount of lean muscle that is burned for energy, in addition to fat, during a calorie deficit.

All proteins provide about 4 calories per gram but there are higher quality proteins, which may reduce appetite and optimize muscle repair and recovery (think: fish or eggs), and lower quality proteins (think: hamburger meat) that are loaded with branched-chain amino acids, which have been linked to metabolic disease and insulin resistance. In this case, you get more nutritional bang for your buck if you consume 4 calories of high quality protein.


When it comes to differentiating calories, carbohydrates are by far the most complex (pardon the pun) mostly because our bodies use the different types of carbohydrates (such as fiber, starch and sugar) in very different ways.

Carbohydrates are used by the body as a quick source of energy, particularly for the brain, liver and muscles. All carbohydrates (with the exception of fiber, which our body can’t digest) provide 4 calories per gram. But just as there are healthier fats and higher-quality proteins, there are varying degrees of carbohydrate quality.

Though not a source of calories, fiber is considered a high-quality carbohydrate since it slows digestion (thus making you feel fuller, longer) and can moderate the absorption of other nutrients, like sugar. For this reason, high-quality carbohydrates typically contain fiber and are minimally processed. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Lower-quality carbohydrates almost always lack fiber (with the exception of dairy which contains natural sugars packaged with protein) and add little more than “empty calories” to our diets.

By now it’s probably clear that a calorie from fat is not the same as a calorie from protein or carbohydrate. But let’s take it a step further and compare calories from two different types of sugar: glucose and fructose.

Starchy foods like rice, potatoes and pasta, are predominantly made up of glucose, a simple sugar that that can be burned for energy by every cell in our bodies. It’s stored in our liver and muscles for a quick source of energy during exercise or while we sleep. Unprocessed starchy foods, like brown rice, potatoes with the skin on and 100% whole-wheat pasta, contain the food’s natural fiber as well as some vitamins and minerals.

Unlike glucose, which can be burned for energy by all organs, fructose can really only be broken down in the liver. It’s also the sweetest tasting of the three simple sugars which makes it enjoyable on the tastebuds. In nature, fructose is found in fruits bound tightly to indigestible fiber that, as we already know, reduces and slows its absorption. Unfortunately, the majority of fructose in our diets isn’t from fruits–it’s from calorie-containing sweeteners added to sweetened beverages and the majority of processed foods—including these 10 foods that might surprise you.

Here’s the main difference between these two sugars: While too many calories from glucose can lead to weight gain and accumulation of the less harmful subcutaneous fat, too many calories from fructose (found in calorie-containing sweeteners like sugar, honey, high fructose corn syrup etc…) can overwhelm the liver, contributing to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, insulin resistance and more.

As you can see, a calorie of carbohydrate is not the same as a calorie from fat or protein, nor are all carbohydrate calories created equal. As a general rule of thumb, I recommend consuming the majority of your calories from minimally or unprocessed whole foods since, ultimately, the quality of what we eat determines the quantity of calories we consume, which impacts not only our weight but also our overall health and well-being.


Here ya’ll go and drop me a line to let me know what you think.


Barbell Finishers 

Finishers are a kick ass way to wrap up a workout. They are short, intense and a great way to kick off a metabolic storm. The beauty of a finisher is you are only limited my your imagination.

You can use bodyweight, barbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, dumbbells, medicine balls or any combination you might have.

Here is a rundown of this mornings finisher which only took 9 minutes to leave most sprawling on the ground when finished.

  • Deadlifts (6 reps)
  • Hang Clean (5 reps)
  • Ft. Squats (4 reps)
  • Push-Press (3 reps)
  • Back Squat (2 reps)
  • Barbell Jerk (1 rep)

Complete as many rounds in 7-9 minutes as you can, and don’t be surprised if you have a hard time standing the next day.

Until next time, kick ass and train hard!


How Much Protein do you Really Need?

Today’s post is brought to you from an article on Examine.com. I recently ran across this website, and found it to be factual, non-biased, and somewhat kick ass and I have come to rely on this site for supplementation advice rather that a guy sitting behind the desk at your local supplement shop.

“How much protein should I eat?”

This is a question I and every fitness professional hear every day. Why is that you think this is? Could it be because step into any supplement shop, and see shelf upon shelf of protein powders for sale? Or could it be since protein has been proven to help aid in muscle recovery and build muscle, any hard training athlete would obviously want to power-down some protein shakes during the day?

Really it doesn’t matter on the “why”, but let’s take a look at what you might actually need instead of what some magazine is telling you.

The Examine.com site breaks down recommended protein intake based on existing research, and is determined largely on health goals and your activity level:

  • 0.8 g/kg body weight (0.36 g/lb): if your weight is stable and you don’t exercise
  • 1.0-1.5 g/kg (0.45-0.68 g/lb): if your goal is weight loss or you’re moderately active
  • 1.5-2.2 g/kg (0.68-1 g/lb) if your goal is weight loss and you’re physically active
People who are obese should calculate daily protein intake based on goal weight, not existing body weight (in order to not ingest too many calories).

For athletes, one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight a day is sufficient for an athlete. Studies show that there isn’t a significant practical difference between 1.5 to 2.2 g/kg(0.68 – 1g/lb) of daily protein intake. For a 175 lb athlete, this is 119 to 175 grams of protein (the difference being the equivalent of about two chicken breasts). That being said, the research does not show any negative affects with a higher protein intake. Of course if you are being medically treated for liver or kidney damage, then consult with your physician before making any dietary adjustments.

You want to consume a majority of your proteins from lean meats (chicken, lean beef, white fish), but keep in mind many vegetable and starches (beans) do contain protein. Regarding fish, while fish is a wonderful source of quality protein, just remember fatty fish (Alaska Salmon, Tuna, Arctic Char, Mackerel, etc) has quite a bit more calories than their white counterparts, so be sure to keep your caloric levels in check.

If time, or finances, does not allow you the benefit of consuming adequate amounts of lean meats, then supplementing with a quality protein powder is more than sufficient. I wouldn’t get too wrapped up on the debate of whey vs casein vs hemp protein powders.  If it’s a personal choice to use hemp vs whey or casein proteins then ok; I would rather you focus more on the taste and how you feel afterwards.