This post is going to be all about me.
As a heads up, it won’t be an article written out of vanity or arrogance. There will be no photoshopped selfies. No bikini transformation photos. No endless rows of tupperware. No abs that can cut diamonds.
Instead, I’ll be including strength training videos, bang-for-your-buck conditioning circuits, and satiating (and sane) meal plans. Overall, just a raw, authentic narrative on the week in the life of my dieting and training. Raves as cardio may or may not be included. ;-O
Besides wanting to talk about myself for once, I’m writing this piece because I’ve gotten a myriad of questions like these:
1) How do you maintain your physique?
2) Do you work out every day?
3) Are you clean eating or cleansing?
4) Are you a fucking unicorn?
Rest assured, I’m here to answer these questions.
Firs off, I’m a unicorn. No surprise there.
Besides that, what keeps me in shape is consistency, simplicity, and efficiency. And being a strength and conditioning coach, I understand why people are under the impression I work out ALL THE TIME. Not only that, but they believe my workouts are always high intensity to the point I can’t feel my face and want to stab someone with a Samurai sword.
Or my diet is so pristine that every food I consume is gluten-GMO-salt-sugar-orc-fart free.
Alas, this couldn’t be more far from the truth. Like everyone else, I’m a human being and not a perfect snowflake. I work 45-60 hour weeks, I undergo life stressors like school, family, and business, I have oscillating energy and motivation levels, and I get turned down by dudes on Tinder.
So how do I circumvent all of this and practice a diet and training plan that keeps my physique beautiful? Ahhh, let’s dive right in.
Breaking news: I’m not a meathead. I mean, I don’t work out every day.
“But wait, Erica, you’re a trainer for a living!” everyone exclaims.
Well, yes. But do you think I work out with my clients and athletes, while I’m watching them perform heavy compound lifts? Or walking away to get in a set of bicep curls while someone has 300 pounds of load on their back? You bet they’d be paying a pretty penny for an asshole trainer who sends people to the hospital.
When I work with clients, I coach. I ensure they are using proper form with safety and precision. I make it a point to regress and progress them on the fly. I listen to their marriage problems. Needless to say, I sure as hell am not working on my physique mid-client session.
But in the pockets of time I do have to train myself (which are very minimal), I get in 45-60 minutes of strength training + metabolic conditioning. Put simply: bang-for-your-buck training.
Here is a sample of a week of training for me:
Monday: Total Body Strength + Ab Circuit
Sumo Deadlift 4 x 5 (80%1RM)
Pull Ups 5×5 (red band)
Goblet Reverse Lunge 3 x 10
Leopard Crawl 3 x 30 steps
Landmine 1A Press 3 x 6
Landmine Truckdrivers 3 x 10
Lateral Goblet Lunge 3 x 8
Dumbbell Row 3 x 10
Accessory movements: supine cable rows, band face pulls
Tuesday: Conditioning + Hip Circuit
Dumbbell Rows x 5
Dumbbell Front Squat x 5
Manmakers x 5
2 min straight, rest for 1 minute
Repeat 4-5 rounds.
Then if I’m feeling groovy, I’ll move onto glute work:
Wednesday: Total Body Strength
Dumbbell 1A Bench
Pull Ups 3 x 10 (60% 1RM or grey band)
Barbell Bulgarian Split Squat 4 x 5
Kettlebell Push Ups 4 x AMRAP
Single Leg Deadlift 4 x 5
Lateral Leopard Crawl 3 x 20 yards
Landmine Lumberjack Squats 3 x 8
Landmine Rows 3 x 8
Landmine Reverse Lunge 5 x 5
Accessory lifts: banded good mornings, chaos hip bridges 3 x 10-12
Thursday: Conditioning + Ab Circuit
Step Ups x 5
Rows x 5
Push ups x 5
Deadlifts x 5
Presses x 5
2 minutes straight, 1 minute rest
Side Plank with Band Row 3 x 10
Body Saws 3 x 10
Dead Bugs 3 x 10
Plank Plate Transfer 3 x 20
Friday: Total Body Strength + Hip Circuit
Barbell Front Squat cluster sets 5, 5, 4, 3 (85-90% 1RM)
Pull Up 10×1-2 (93-97% 1RM or no band)
Walking Lunges 3 x 10
Kettlebell Overhead Press 5 x 5 (80-85% 1RM)
Farmer’s Carries 3 x 20 yards
Dumbbell 1A Row 4 x 6
Chaos Push Ups 3 x AMRAP
Accessory lifts: overhead farmer’s carries in heels at 18kg (for kicks and giggles)
On a side note: Hopefully I land a job in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show with that video.
So now that you’ve skimmed over my Mon-Fri training schedule, what do you think? What pops out?
First and foremost, these workouts take me no longer than 60 minutes. And once I’ve memorized the movements and set/rep schemes, the workouts can last as little as 45 minutes, which is GOLD when you’re a busy strength and conditioning professional.
Luckily, I also put on lean muscle mass fairly quickly and don’t need to spend hours in the gym to get jacked deltoids.
I’d argue that you don’t either. With efficient workouts that train compound movements, you can build a strong physique with the bat of an eyelash.
But don’t forget: you *must* challenge yourself and progress your training. Some days I’m de-loading and going at 65-75% 1RM and other days, I’m going hard as fuck at 85-95% 1RM.
So challenge yourself. Don’t be a pussy.
Finally, as far as cardio, I don’t do any formal cardio. You know, I’m not on an elliptical for 2 hours or walking on a treadmill like a mundane robot.
Rather, I’m doing high intensity circuits that last no longer than 20 minutes (dumbbell complexes or 10-1 circuits), or performing steady state cardio (dancing) at a music festival.
^ Way better than trudging along on a treadmill, no doubt. ;-O
And this bears repeating: the more simple your training is, the more it breathes life into you, and the more efficiency you’re practicing, the better off you’ll be. End of story.
So What About Nutrition?
Now that I’ve exposed my training schedule, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of my nutrition regimen. <— no pun intended.
Although I ate Oreos to the face last night, overall, I’m a healthy eater.
This isn’t to say I only eat paleo, or I avoid foods that have an anus. I eat whole foods – lots of produce, veggies, fruits, fish, and meats.
One of my favorite meals is a salad. As one may envision, the salads I’m eating are NOT lettuce leaves and twigs.
I’m loading the salad with a plethora of colorful vegetables (bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, banana peppers, and more), as well as substantial protein that will fill my tummy (4-6oz of grilled chicken or salmon).
^ Now that’s a real salad.
Truthfully, I find it comical when my girlfriends go on “summer bikini diets” and snapchat me photos of meager salads with seeds and twigs. What better way to lose fat than to not fill your tummy up and propel you to binge more later. That’s. CUTE.
Alright. Enough of my rambling. Here’s my nutrition schedule:
5 egg whites
2 slices Ezekiel toast with 1 tbsp Nuts n’ More birthday cake peanut butter
1 cup coffee with almond milk and cinnamon
1/2 cup blueberries
1 cup Greek yogurt
Salad with 4 oz grilled chicken, yams, cucumbers, potatoes
Chipotle salad with guacamole, chicken, extra fajitas, lettuce, mild salsa
Based on my training schedule, my dinner macronutrients may change. If I have a higher intensity training day, I’ll substitute guacamole for brown rice. If I have a lower intensity training day, I’ll scratch the rice and carbs and increase the fat (guacamole and cheese). This serves as a gentle reminder that NOT ALL FATS ARE BAD. If you increase fat, keep in mind carbs may have to go down, OR you have to make sure you’re in a caloric deficit.
Here an excellent infographic on different diets that share one common theme: the caloric deficit.
At the end of the day, energy balance rules. You want to lose weight? No matter how little carbs you’re eating, you must be in a caloric deficit.
If you want more information, I wrote an extensive post on the basics of nutrition here. Enjoy.
I’d be remiss to not mention that despite my healthy diet, some days I splurge and live a little. After all, I’m human and have to enjoy life’s delicacies.
As an example, this past weekend, I indulged in Maryland crab dip and red vino. Certainly no regrets here.
And this hammers home a VERY critical point: your body is not destroyed in a day, two days, even a week. Allow yourself to enjoy treats (for me, crab dip), but also adopt the mindset of using the extra carbs to fuel your workouts later on. Never, ever beat yourself up.
Because some weeks, you can’t go balls-to-the-wall. Some weeks you can’t food prep. Some weeks you have to skip workouts.
And I’m guilty of all of this.
Admittedly, what I outlined above is a *dream* template of my workouts each week. Some weeks I can only train 3x as opposed to 5x. Shit happens.
But I never give myself a hard time. I’m grateful my body is able to train and do intense workouts when I *do* find the time. And I’m grateful I realize I have one body, so I must challenge it, yet nourish it into becoming its strongest version.