Tag Archives: bodybuilding

Should you really hate Planet Fitness?

By Big Dan aka Coach Motivation

By now, you have heard people absolutely bash Planet Fitness. Whether they are ragging on “Pizza Mondays”, “The lunk alarm”, or the purple and yellow equipment, people really seem to hate this place. I’ve heard the commercials, talking about a “judgement free zone” where “lunks” are not allowed. I get how easy it is to make fun of this place because they chose to be different with their marketing and their slogan, when perhaps; they are really just making this a “douche free zone.” I’ve been lifting seriously since 2002; I’m 6’4, 255 lbs with 20 inch arms. I know from that description you probably immediately think “he’s a lunk.” I am also a personal trainer in Wichita, Kansas which is known as “the mecca” of YMCA facilities. The facilities are amazing, sprawling thousands of square feet with innumerous amounts of machines, free weights, squat racks, swimming pools, each one a first class facility. While literally thousands of people come through these facilities every day, hundreds to the weight room, I have to observe people using the worst form, I have to constantly tell people not to drop the weights, I hear the weirdest sounds of people grunting, squealing, and whining, instead of breathing correctly. I can tell you, if you don’t want to go to planet fitness because you can’t do these three things, you probably shouldn’t be in any gym until you correct yourself. Chances are, you are lifting too much weight, using incorrect form while using that weight, and making minimal gains. In my opinion, “lunk” is a kind word, douche is more appropriate and every gym should have an alarm! First they should have an introduction to the weight room video you watch before you are allowed in!

Note: If you are a true bodybuilder, powerlifter, or serious athlete and you use correct form and truly need heavy weight, Planet Fitness is not meant for you and that’s OKAY. However, you don’t have to hate because you think they called you a “Lunk.” You are not a lunk.

First off, what is a good definition of a “lunk?”

Look, unless you are a powerlifter, you shouldn’t be doing any less than 8 repetitions. Anyone can argue with me to the cows come home on this one, but the fact is, when building muscle, you want to focus on the concentric and eccentric motion of the lift, and the time under tension. If you didn’t comprehend what concentric and eccentric motions are, then you probably should go ahead and stop hating planet fitness now and start educating yourself. I don’t know how many times, high school age people would come into the gym, load the bar or machine up, let the weight come crashing down, only to use every muscle but the one being worked to get the weight up. Then, after making the sounds of a dying Spartan warrior, they leave without racking their weights. Ego lifting doesn’t get you big muscles, and it won’t get you the girl wearing the yoga pants who is doing endless Romanian deadlifts in front of the mirrors, in front of everyone either.

Another “lunky” activity is attempting to do crossfit lifts in a crowded commercial gym or health care facility. Crossfit is like Walgreens, there is a facility on every corner that will allow you to do 1 rep Max while dropping your weight from above your head with horrible form, ensuring that only Chiropractors rival the amount of Crossfit gyms, and Walgreens on every corner. (Nothing against chiropractors, there are just a a lot of you, however, some of you are really good)

Look, I get those 90 lb dumbbells are heavy, but, unless your name is Ronnie Coleman, 8-time Mr. Olympia, or Brian Shaw, 2 time world’s strongest man, and you are using 200 lb dumbbells working out in your own garage gym, or the Metroflex in Arlington, Texas, you shouldn’t be dropping the dumbbells. When finishing a set of dumbbell presses, if you can’t sit up and bring them to your knees and set them on the floor, you need to be using less weight.  Not only are you endangering people around you, you are loosening the dumbbells making them dangers and unstable for others to use. If you focused on lowering the weight with control and contracting the muscle on the way up, you will get a better pump, tear down more muscle fibers, and maximize gains all the while not being a “lunk” and sending a thunderous roll of “look at how strong I am” through the gym.

Now, I haven’t met anyone that was really intimidating at the gym. In fact, the biggest guys in the gym have always been the nicest, often offering advice, a spot, or just a laugh. They also typically use the correct form, don’t drop the weights, and re-rack their heavy weights. If you do run into someone who is big, makes rude remarks at people that are not his friends, takes weight from other people without asking, or laughs at you, this person is a douche and should not be allowed in a weight room. I have yet to encounter a gym bully in the 13 plus years I have been lifting. However, if you are intimidated by people with muscular physiques, that work out hard, and lift heavy weights correctly, then you are for sure the problem, not them.

In summary

Perhaps you are a member of another commercial chain, health club, or home gym, if so, congratulations. However, if you are “hating” on a facility that in fact isn’t trying to cater to YOU, whether you are a “serious lifter” or just a jerk that does all the things listed above that define a “lunk”, then you are just a bully. If you look at it, Planet Fitness isn’t trying to tell you that you don’t belong at their gym; they are just saying they don’t want douche-baggery at their facility which is described in politically correct terms as a “lunk.” If you are a serious lifter, bodybuilder, powerlifter, cross-fitter, be proud of it! You aren’t considered a “lunk” as long as you don’t, drop your weights obnoxiously and dangerously, grunt like a dying Spartan, 1 rep-max using the incorrect form, or do crossfit in a crowded area endangering everyone around you while dropping your weights from 6 feet in the air. While it may seem like Planet Fitness hates “fit people”, they are really just  trying to cater to people who may be scared to enter a “Gold’s Gym” or another facility where a lot of “Lunk” related activity happens. Admit it, you hate it when people do that crap too. So next time you are working out be conscious of the way you are lifting, chances are, you probably hate the activity described above. I’m sure you’d love to warm up before you hit the leg press, but not with the 800 lbs the person used last left on there! So let’s give Planet Fitness a break, if you truly embrace a healthy lifestyle, you should be happy there is a place that people may feel more comfortable working out at. The whole pizza thing, well, maybe it fits their Macro’s? Just remember, “haters gonna hate, and potatoes gonna potate!”



Have today’s bodybuilders gone to far?

by Dan McCarthy

Bodybuilding has certainly evolved since its inception well over 70 years ago. The images of former super heroes like Charles Atlas and Steve Reeves when compared to today’s behemoths almost make us pose the question, “did they even lift, brah?” Of course gyms, dietary knowledge, supplements, and yes, even steroids, have evolved significantly since those days. Professional bodybuilding should be considered a science as calculating macros, timing your protein, analyzing the best lifts with the right amount of sets and reps, is all part of the well planned out regime of a bodybuilder. However, like in any sport, performance enhancers, though illegal, are easily obtained and utilized for athletes to get the competitive edge and simply perform better. Now keep in mind, performance enhancers are just that, enhancers. Yes they can make you put on muscle easier, recover faster, and get bigger, but at the end of the day, you still have to eat right, train insanely hard and to be a professional bodybuilder, you have to have the right genetic makeup. So no, if you attribute a bodybuilder’s success to steroids, you are uneducated on bodybuilding and uninformed. Barry Bonds goes out and hits 70 plus home runs and everyone says it was due to the performance enhancing drugs he possibly took and the same for Lance Armstrong winning the Tour DE France. The fact is, if you trained exactly like Barry or Lance, took everything they took, you still would not beat them because they are just better. I cannot hit a baseball to save my life, if you gave me performance enhancers, I would not be able to hit it any better. My goal in writing is not solely about performance enhancers, it is about the overuse of them in professional bodybuilding and the freakishly big, un-aesthetic physiques of today.


Pumping Iron

If you are an avid gym rat, bodybuilder, power-lifter, strongman then you probably have seen Pumping Iron with Arnold Schwarzenegger and his band of lovable cohorts that meet up at gold’s gym in Venice daily to train and build the best bodies in the world to hopefully take home the Mr. Olympia trophy. Watching this movie back in 2002 I thought these physiques were unbelievable and so big, I was 19 and just really started lifting, so the thought of ever achieving a physique like that was a long way down the road.  Arnold was 6’2 235 lbs at his biggest for the Olympia; he was ripped and had huge arms. In my eye, and the eye of many others, this physique is probably the most perfect to ever walk the planet. Arnold had huge arms and chest with a tiny waist and perfect symmetry, and big defined legs. Being that he was probably 6% body fat or less at 235 lbs is by no means easy, and the fact that his genetics allowed him to develop the peaks on his biceps, the perfect chest, is also helpful. As you can see from the picture below, the physique should be considered a work of art. Arnold has admitted that they used the oral drug dianabol and possibly a testosterone form as well; however, like I said before, these physiques cannot be obtained by just taking these enhancers.  These physiques were born from genetic gifts, extremely hard work, and diet.


Generation Iron

Physiques in the 90’s and 2000 had drastically changed in the bodybuilding world compared to the days of Arnold, competitors grew bigger, leaner, and developed more cuts and striations in their muscles. In the days of Arnold, Lou Ferrigno competed around 275 lbs at a height a 6’5. Today competitors are 5’10 and competing near 290-300 lbs. Along with the growing weight has come growing waistlines, albeit the bodybuilders still have 6 packs, their stomachs have grown bigger too, eliminating the symmetry and true v-taper which is what bodybuilding used to be. Arnold mentioned in the movie Generation Iron, that today’s bodybuilders have 23 inch necks and have seemingly gone too far. Today’s pro’s claim that the people want to see a freak show, muscle on muscle ripped to the bone. Along with superbly calculated diets, top of the line trainers, god given genetics, and undeniable hard work, comes the performance enhancers, which undoubtedly have changed the physiques to become much larger through the use of insulin and growth hormones. I’ll say it again, give me all the enhancers they take and I still wouldn’t look like them, they just have a better genetic make-up for bodybuilding. (Ronnie wasn’t in Generation Iron, but competed at nearly 300 lbs before)



The aesthetic movement

While there is nothing more impressive than huge arms, a well-defined chest, and a mean set of wheels, some people are pushing for a return to a more aesthetic physique. A “founding father” of the “aesthetic movement” has to be the late youtube star Aziz “Zyzz” Sergeyevich Shavershian. Zyzz was a natural ectomorph who worked hard to put on every ounce of muscle, and with every ounce of muscle he looked ripped and shredded due to his genetic make-up. Regardless of possible performance enhancing use, the physique was very aesthetic and the women no doubt loved the ripped and not overly muscular look. Zyzz died tragically in 2011 at the age of 22 in a Bangkok Sauna.



How big is too big?

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder so as long as people attend the Olympia, purchase the magazines, I don’t see the physique changing anytime soon. Perhaps if one of the top bodybuilders tried to come in lighter, with a more aesthetic physique to make a statement and won, then, and probably only then, would there be a move back to a more aesthetic bodybuilding competition. I don’t purchase bodybuilding magazines anymore because I know that no matter how hard I train, how much I eat, I can never be a mass monster like those guys on the current covers. An aesthetic physique seem more attainable, so I am more likely to follow a routine of a more “natural” looking bodybuilder or wrestler with a muscular but not overly done physique. I am not concerned whether or not they take a performance enhancer as that is their choice and I know how much hard work and commitment went into their physiques. We may never see a return to a more aesthetic physique unless the judges determine the distended bellies with six packs on top are no longer pleasing to the eye. Until then, train hard, train smart, and lift!




Vitamins, Supplements, and Challenges are they smoke in mirrors? By Dan McCarthy

We have all opened magazines and have seen the sad, out of shape guy, holding a newspaper, and then next to that picture is the “after” picture of him smiling looking shredded as “fuarrk”(thank you zyzz for this word) with two girls on each arm hanging out  in a pool. Of course this would all be attributed to the supplement on the page that the guy is eluding you to believe that it’s what made him look like that. Of course it would not be the Photoshop, airbrushing, possible steroid use, actual hard work in the gym, and very strict diet. If you have seen the documentary “Bigger, Stronger, Faster” you know what I am talking about, and you know for a fact that’s what happens. They even showed us how it’s done!  For those of you who have not seen this fascinating documentary, I want to hopefully help you save money and refocus your attention to where those bodies, or just a healthy body is built, and that would be no other place than the gym, not the supplement store.


The supplement industry facts:

The supplement industry is a 23 billion dollar a year industry, and is currently shares many commonalities to the Wild West. Supplement manufacturers are running wild as the FDA does not oversee it as to ensure the safety and quality of the product like they do our pharmaceutical products. So that “fat burner” you are taking, could very well just be 80% rice powder, or just a ton of overpriced caffeine. In an age when more than half of American adults are taking vitamins and supplements, it is important to look at what we are possibly putting into our bodies and just how these “miracle pills and drinks” may cause you to fall short of your health and fitness goals. This next bit is taken directly from American Aljazeera and states “Most major health bodies – including the National institute of health, The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Deitetic Association, The Mayo Clinic, and Harvard Medical School – do not recommend supplements because their alleged benefits have failed to withstand scientific scrutiny. That last part is extremely important because it preludes to the next part from the same article that states “According to consumer reports, only a third of 54,000 supplements in the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database have any scientifically supported level of safety and effectiveness, and 12 percent are linked to safety concerns or quality issues. Mounting evidence suggests that most vitamin supplements, including the the popular daily multivitamin may be useless — and some could even increase the risk of disease.” One could very easily be playing Russian roulette with a supplement that is useless or one that could increase disease.


What is in these miracle bottles?

In the spirit of American capitalism, I am not bitter nor do I hate the supplement industry, I just simply want to call an ace and ace, and I want people to realize that supplementation is only 2-3 % of what it takes to build a healthy strong body, and chances are, you are not taking the right supplements. Most all supplement companies put a “proprietary blend” on their bottle, this is done to “allow supplement makers to include a number of different ingredients without disclosing the amounts used.” So in essence, your Echinacea supplement that you take to help you with various issues could be in fact 90% rice powder or some other filler  leaving you out the money you spent on it, and without the benefits of the supplement you sought out when you purchased the item. Two other fillers used in supplements are Magnesium Stearate and Carrageenan.  Quoted from Tom Nikkola, “Carrageenan is derived from seaweed; it’s used as a stabilizer in foods, as a fat replacement in protein powders, and in beverages to enhance mouth feel. There is also evidence suggesting that carrageenan can contribute to glucose intolerance and insulin resistance (Bhattacharyya et al., 2012). The use of magnesium stearate is a topic of great debate. Magnesium stearate is used as a flowing agent to make nutritional supplements. Including magnesium stearate in a formula allows the ingredients to flow through tableting equipment faster or allows the two ends of a capsule to be pushed together faster. However, research has shown that magnesium stearate can reduce the bioavailability of nutrients. Although it might not be allergenic, it might compromise the effectiveness of the supplement.”


“Weight loss Challenges” 

In my 12 years in fitness and bodybuilding I’ve seen and tried a lot of things, mainly all the magazine ads of the bottles with the guys shredded as “fuarrk”, (thanks zyzz,) who were standing next to two hot chicks. In the end, none of these bottles worked and I fell victim to overpriced rice powder in a gelatin tablet with some clever marketing. I am all for people looking for lifestyle change, something to spark their interest into finding a healthier self, but once again, marketing seems to be the big bad wolf promoting expensive “Challenges” to make people think they have to have this to lose weight. I am here to tell you, YOU DO NOT!  I am not saying they are bad, but you do not need these items to lose weight, once again, they get celebrities to endorse these things and it’s all a marketing ploy.

Would you like to take the Big Dan challenge? I won’t charge you a dime; all you have to do is replace two meals a day with a cup of Greek yogurt and a banana, and 4 oz of tuna and an apple. Do this for a week and cut out all sugary drinks and bread and tell me how much you have lost. I can mix it up for you with many other sources of protein but hopefully you see what I am saying. As much as we want to buy into a system, we can create a much cheaper, healthier one by ourselves! Fat supplements do not burn fat; they are supposed to increase your ability to burn fat, typically by increasing your heart rate. Not only are these dangerous, but you can get the same boost from a cup of green tea and it is loaded with anti-oxidants.

What should I take to help reach my goals for weight loss?

First, I would recommend a trip to your doctor to do a physical and blood test to check for any thyroid, diabetes, or deficiencies. Once these tests have been completed I recommend evaluating your diet. Do you have a weight loss goal?  If so, I recommend the app, my daily calorie counter. You can punch in your current weight and target weight to determine how many calories you need to achieve your goal weight. To simplify the weight loss process the formula is simple, Calories burned > Calories consumed. Track your calories, write down everything you eat. Try to consume lean protein sources, eat green vegetables and complex carbohydrates and increase physical activities. Avoid starchy foods, sugary drinks, alcohol, and be sure to regulate your carbohydrate intake.  I will get more in detail with this on my next blog.

What supplements do I take?

The only supplements I take as a bodybuilder are Whey Protein and Creatine Monohydrate. Protein is mandatory for muscle growth and to building a lean fat burning body. Creatine is found naturally in the food we eat and his been proven to increase strength, stamina, and aid in recovery. It is critical to drink a lot of water with this supplement. The Dymatize Whey Protein I take is loaded with Branch Chain Amino acids which are the key resources for building muscle.  I have pretty much tried everything else in the stores and can attest that these two products produce results. Looking for a pre-workout? Drink a cup of coffee, in essence, that’s all a pre-workout is. Don’t believe me? Look at the proprietary blend.

In conclusion:

Supplements have convoluted the weight loss process and have changed the chart to read “A healthy body is 80% supplements 10% workout, 10% diet” when in reality, a healthy body is 70% Diet, 29% workout and 1% supplements. If you can keep that mindset and realize the supplement industry is making 23 billion dollars a year on mostly false hopes and quick fixes, then in the words of Zyzz, “We are all gonna make it brah.”


Check out this video that demonstrates the supplement industry disparities: