June 29, 2014

July Fitness and Nutrition Challenge

July Fitness and Nutrition Challenge

For the vast majority of exercisers, the July Challenge is a more productive month than can be had from any fitness or nutrition program anywhere, at any price. It entails eating unprocessed foods and doing lots of bodyweight exercise.

It is totally free to do, but I’ve seen people spend $1,000s in a month’s time for private nutrition and training without the results this CAN get you. This is also why this has been copied by gyms in other parts of the country, usually with some sort of entry fee attached.

Here is why it works: It forces people to pre-plan exercise into their week or day and carefully consider everything they eat and drink. That is it. The vast majority of the population doesn’t do this and when they do, changes are rapid and positive.

There is no magical mixture of exercises or nutritional combination. You are eliminating man-made foods as much as practically possible and replacing sitting time with exercise.

Doing a base number of reps (100 reps of some kind of pulling, 300 reps of some kind of pushing, and 500 reps of some form of squatting) is really not a huge challenge, as long a person prioritizes it. If they procrastinate, it may not be possible, but as long as you divide it up throughout the week it isn’t that tough.

I started this July Challenge thing in 2011, and every year I see some of the most amazing changes of the entire year.

Here are the details:

July Fitness and Nutrition Challenge

(Do as much as you can…some will be better than none. The goal of this is to get a bunch of low-level activity in and eat nutritious foods.)

Do not overthink this!
Eat ONLY meat, fish, eggs, raw nuts, and fresh produce (if you want to drop body fat, potatoes, corn and sugary fruits like bananas are not going to help with that).
Drink ONLY water.
(Reasonable amounts of condiments, like real butter, real sour cream, coconut oil, olive oil, vinegar, etc are allowed).

Supplements are OK, as long as they are not a primary source of nutrition or consumed as meal replacements. Unsweetened coffee or tea are supplements and are just fine. Preworkout drinks are supplements too, just don’t go overboard.

ONE cheat meal per week is allowed. Plan it and enjoy whatever you want.

Bodyweight Exercise Minimum Quota:

Level III
200 pullups per week
300 pushups per week
1,000 squats per week

Level II
150 pullups
200 pushups
800 squats

Level I
100 pullups per week
200 pushups week
500 squats per week

-Break this up over as many days, into as many sets as needed. Do this as part of, or in addition to, your normal training. Don’t overthink this! Just start doing reps. Feel free to do more.

ANY needed or reasonable modification of these exercises is permitted.

Omission of any of these is OK for bonafide medical reasons (not just because you are sore or too busy. Suck it up).

Get creative and get moving.

Please…I don’t want to hear a single excuse from anyone.

Either do it or choose not to. I only want to hear what you CAN do, not how hard this is, or hear reasons why you can’t do any part of it. We’re all adults. If something just doesn’t work for you then it doesn’t. Modify or improvise if you need to. Do the best you can.

-Jim Beaumont
Idaho Kettlebell Strength and Conditioning

June 25, 2014

“How much protein should I eat?”

“How much protein should I eat?”

This is a common question, and it seems that you always get different answers to it. On one hand, you’ll get recommendations from some sources that say you you only need around 50 grams per day, while some bodybuilding publications (essentially published by supplement companies) will recommend up to 300 grams per day, or even higher. Too much protein can be hard on the kidneys, and as a recent study shows, may not even help in gaining muscle. However, while eating more protein will make you feel full, it also won’t make you gain bodyfat.

You won’t even get a solid answer by looking into some of the peer-reviewed nutrition journals on a specific amount, because there is no fixed number that everyone needs. Throw in different variables and opinions such as the source of the protein and meal timing, and this number is pretty much a moving target.

Lots of people overthink this number, but I find that shooting for about one gram of protein per pound of lean body mass seems to be good enough for the majority of people, and for really lean people I just tell them to shoot for about a gram per pound of bodyweight. This seems to be within the ballpark of most sport nutrition recommendations for athletes. It may not be spot-on, but it is close enough. Until I get some super-definitive (and consistent) number from the sport nutrition world, this is where I’ll stay.

Some of the confusion comes from most sport nutrition journals using kilograms to measure body weight, while most of us in the United States are more familiar with measuring our weight in pounds. Guidelines for protein are from 1.3-2.0 grams per kilogram of bodyweight for athletes.

Hearing these numbers has probably confused a few people, who didn’t realize that a kilogram equals 2.2 pounds, and you fall right in line with some of the recommendations from bodybuilders to consumed 2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. And, I’m sure companies that sell protein supplements didn’t do anything to dissuade the decision to consume way more than is needed.

When it comes to performance and body composition goals, the big gains are really to be found in the variables of meal timing, especially in the areas of carbohydrate and fat consumption.


June 3, 2014

A Few Martial Art Thoughts and Observations

A Few Martial Art Thoughts and Observations
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Perspective on various flips, extreme jumps and other fancy movements seen in martial art demos.

Years ago I was training with an experienced martial art instructor and law enforcement defensive tactics instructor. A student asked him if he could do backflips and handstands.

His reply: “Nope. You think doing a backflip is going to help you if someone is trying to kill you?”

Every movement you practice should have a direct self-defense or skill and strength building application. It should not be just for show.

Striving for perfection.
Taekwon-Do students are either pushing ahead for something, or they are falling behind. The mind and body do not like stagnation and there really is no simple maintenance. Humans are designed to work hard and be challenged. That is how we have evolved from living in caves into a modern society. Striving to make progress is in our DNA.

In Taekwon-Do, there is no “perfect” technique. A punch or kick can always be more powerful, timed better, etc. A student who thinks they have perfect technique is no longer a student and has quit learning.

A student of Taekwon-Do should always be striving to perfect technique, physical condition, and character, while understanding that perfection will never actually be attained by any human. This carries over into daily life in the serious student.

Don’t wait for the perfect technique to come along.
There are many interpretations and slight variations in virtually any martial art technique. For example, one school will teach a kick, punch, or throw slightly different than another.

Often students and instructors will focus on these differences, as if one way is superior. Generally, they all have some supporting evidence to argue their opinion. This is not isolated to one school or style. Most mean well, but some do allow ego to get in the way.

While my focus has always been Taekwon-Do, throughout almost 30 years of martial art training I have been exposed – at various levels – to many different martial arts, and have found that what is most important is the one that YOU practice everyday. That is how you build skill and power. Don’t argue subtle differences, just work hard and make your movements absolutely second-nature and the rest will sort its way out.

You may never find something that is 100% right for you. Don’t sit around worrying about a technique being perfect or if it is the “best”way. If you wait for that to come a long, you will have wasted a lot of valuable training time, which would have been better for you than thinking about training.

There are only so many ways to throw a punch. Pick one and stick to it.

Also, we can never know what is the “best” way to perform a given technique is, nor should we worry about it. Everyone’s body is slightly different, but a student is in no way to judge what is best until they have mastered it, which probably comes after about 100,000 repetitions. When you get to that number, then you will be able to make an informed decision.

Common themes among all great instructors.
As someone who has spent my entire life studying and training in martial art, I have found that you will find more commonality in thinking among great martial artists than differences. Usually when you find this overlap, it is there that the real gems of information lie.

You will find the most rigid thinking, and the “my style is better than your style” mentality among less talented and less knowledgeable martial artists. These are usually those that train in martial art in order to defeat some inner-demon and are never very happy people. This type of “cultish” behavior and mindset is to be avoided and does not serve a productive end.

Try to apply this mindset today.
“Be satisfied with your station in life, but never in your skills.” – Gen. Choi


Fastest predator in the world, but does not have the size and strength needed to even bring down prey at times, even when they catch prey animals. Only makes kills 50% of the time.

They also can’t defend their kills from stronger animals, like lions that are much bigger and stronger and have food taken away.

Cheetahs are the most endangered of all big cats.

Training lessons: Speed is fine. Power and strength are final.

Training frequency, intensity and volume.
I have an easy test I use to gauge whether I am training hard enough and frequently enough in Taekwon-Do:

If my belt is still damp with sweat from my last training session when I tie it on, then I know I am doing what I need to do. My technique is always at its best during these times.

Weapons Training.

I am often asked by prospective students if I include weapons training in Taekwon-Do.

No, I do not.

Common martial art weapons such as nunchaku, the staff, tonfas, swords, or other elaborate edged weapons have no place in Taekwon-Do training.

This is from a purely practical perspective. I have no problems with supplemental weapons training, but they must be simple, modern, and relevant…and… taught by a competent instructor.

When considering supplemental weapons training, you must ask the following question:

Is that weapon the best, legally-defensible option? Or, just an archaic martial arts weapon that was not even in use in the 1950s when Taekwon-Do was developed, practiced simply as a novelty?

If you plan to learn to use a weapon in training, make sure you would be willing to have that weapon displayed in front of a jury in a courtroom. Any primitive martial art weapon is likely to be viewed in a negative light by any casual observer. Why were you carrying a pair of nunchaku or a staff? Were you looking for trouble?

Additionally, Taekwon-Do was born in postwar Korea in that nation’s modern military. Gen. Choi and Nam Tae Hi (two founding fathers of Taekwon-Do) did not carry primitive weapons in their duty or include it in training.

Put this into action today.
“Do not be negligent, even in trifling matters.” ~Miyamoto Musashi

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