The Lineman’s Guide to Cutting Weight: Fitness After Football

by Myles McKee-Osibodu

If you’ve played football at any level, you understand the expectations and pressure put on athletes to be able to gain or drop weight quickly. While these pressures can be felt at every position, there’s no position groups that feel these demands more intensely than the offensive and defensive line, where size matters almost as much as talent. I’ve spent the last few years of my life as an NCAA Division I student-athlete, but it wasn’t until football was over that I was finally able to achieve my fitness goals.

First Things First

So I don’t think it’s a secret that a lot of football players (especially the dudes in the trenches) are just wired a little differently than your Average Joe. You’ve gotta be a little bit insane to voluntarily sign up to commit 40 to 50 hours a week (not including school or work) to a jam packed schedule of workouts, 4:45AM wake-up calls, film sessions, training room work, practices, meetings, yada yada yada, all for the reward of bashing your head into another 300 lb grown-ass man over and over again… but for whatever crazy reason, we did that… And that madness instilled a mindset in us that is different than most. A mindset that allows you to face any challenge and attack it without hesitation. The mindset that allowed you to achieve your goals in football is the same mindset that its going to take to achieve your goals after football. Commitment, self-disciple, and a whole lotta that WORK. Easy as that. And just like in football, you’ve gotta have a game plan.

Game Plan

Through hard work and dedication, I’ve been fortunate enough to drop 70+ lbs (in under 7 months) twice in the last 4 years and the things I can point to that contributed the most to my journey were:

  • Intermittent fasting
  • Working out with purpose
  • Keeping your eyes on the prize

Intermittent Fasting

You’re a former lineman. You love to eat. I get it. But believe me when I tell you that even though it sounds pretty intimidating, intermittent fasting is going to be your best friend in this whole process. In fact, if you do it right, you can still eat a lot of your favorite not-so-healthy foods somewhat regularly.

Contrary to popular belief, the entire idea behind intermittent fasting is NOT to starve yourself. With intermittent fasting, you’re still supposed to take in the same amount of calories you would normally, but instead of taking in those calories through the traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner, you instead give yourself a 4-8 hour window (depending on what you can handle) each day where you scarf down an entire day’s worth of calories. After a few weeks, your body will eventually get used to your new eating pattern and you’ll start to not even get hungry outside of the window that you’ve set for yourself. Not only does intermittent fasting offer weight-loss benefits, but there are also cognitive and cell restoration benefits that come along with fasting regimens as your body enters into a state of ketosis.

As great as the benefits of intermittent fasting can be, it is definitely something that you shouldn’t jump into without doing your research first and making sure it’s the right weight loss method for you. Below are a few links to videos and podcasts to help you begin your research and better understand exactly how intermittent fasting works.

Working Out with Purpose

So obviously, throughout this process, your workout regimen is going to need to be pretty gnarly if you want to see real results fast. It’s crucial that you’re able to hold yourself accountable to not only get in the gym everyday, but also to work your ass off while you’re there! You don’t have your coaches to yell at you anymore, no more teammates to hype you up when you’re not feeling it, no real consequences for skipping a workout. IT’S 100% ON YOU NOW!

So now that you’re in the gym, you’ve gotta figure out how to transition from the year-round swoll-sesh that is lineman workouts into a workout that’ll get you slim and trim. I get asked all the time what my workout routine is and the answer varies but the one thing that is always a constant is CARDIO! I know… as a big guy, cardio is your worst nightmare and rightfully so! Even when you drop the weight, cardio still sucks but like I said before, you’ve gotta embrace the challenge! If it was easy to drop 85 lbs, everybody would do it!

While I 100% encourage you to attack the gym, it’s important to make sure you’re smart about your cardio and that you don’t try to do too much too fast! You can definitely put yourself in some sketchy situations if you’re going all out too early in the process. Nobody wants to be the guy that passes out at the gym because he was hitting the elliptical too hard so make sure you know your limitations, but cardio definitely needs to be the focal point of your workouts. Everything else is supplementary. You’ve been big as hell your whole damn life, you don’t need to lift anymore! Go ahead and hop on that treadmill big fella!

#NipSlip

As many big guys do, I’ve always had some pretty serious knee issues and I know jogging isn’t too easy on the ol’ joints, especially when you’re pushing 300 pounds. I’ve found that the stationary bike is a great alternative to the treadmill and a much more comfortable place to knock-out a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) session. I bike at least one hour (22-25 miles) on the stationary bike 5 to 6 times a week, alternating between 30-second and 90-second working sets with 30-second resting sets in between. It’s the worst thing in the world for the first few weeks but it’s a freakin’ game changer once you start getting comfortable with higher-intensity cardio! Find some good thermogenic pre-workout, search for a good playlist, and get crackin’ on that thing!

Example of how to do a HIIT workout on a stationary bike: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rh8VswzWDow

Shoutout Brio Fitness ????????????

The first month or so of  daily cardio is gonna be killer on your lungs and your legs. Your heart is going to be beating through your chest. You’ll probably be the sweatiest guy in the gym and I promise it won’t be a pretty sight. But as you gradually start to shred more and more, you’re gonna realize how worth it it was and be stoked that you did it!

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Just like chasing any other goal in life, its super important to be able to see the big picture and remember what you’re working towards. The biggest challenge you’ll face in this whole process will be the mental battle you’re going to be fighting with yourself to keep pushing your limits. It’s key that you don’t let yourself get discouraged or lose sight of your goals if you aren’t seeing the results that you want right away! Keeping the right mentality can make ALL THE DIFFERENCE!

You’re not gonna lose 10 lbs in a week and you might not even lose 5 lbs in a week, but you’ve always got to remember to keep a level head, put your head down, and keep on grinding! You’ll only get out what you put into your workouts and dieting, so if you give a shitty effort, you’re bound to get shitty results. At the end of the day, nobody else can want it for you. If you want it bad enough, you’ll make it happen! No excuses.

I hope this helps you in your journey! Good luck, be smart, and get after it!

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Get Strong. Get Big. Ditch Broscience.

I have put in a great deal of effort researching and thinking about how to maximize the results I see from lifting while minimizing the time I spend in the gym. Like most people, I have many other things competing for my time and I like to see fast results. I am going to talk about a few pieces of misinformation commonly spread in the fitness community that could waste your time and effort. So, whether you are about to start your first lifting routine or have been a gym rat for years, here are a few ways to maximize the results and efficiency of your weight training.

Ditch the Bro Split

In a drug-free lifter, muscle protein synthesis is only elevated for 24 to 48 hours after being stimulated by exercise. This means that if you want to make the most of the time you spend in the gym and gain strength and size as quickly as possible, you should be working out all the muscles you want to grow every 48 hours. The all too popular “Bro Split” routines have a person hitting each muscle group once a week. These routines are not optimal for drug-free athletes because they will only induce muscle growth in each body part 2 days a week. Full body routines or upper/lower splits should be used instead.

Ditch Isolation Movements

Isolation exercises confine all movement to one joint (think bicep curls and calf raises) while compound lifts involve movement in multiple joints (think bench press and squats). Many bodybuilding routines rely heavily on the use of isolation exercises but this is not time and effort efficient. There is certainly a place for isolation exercises to target specific muscle weaknesses but the most effective workout routines are built on compound lifts. Not only do compound lifts save time by working out multiple muscles groups simultaneously, but they have also been shown to increase testosterone more effectively than isolation exercises.

Ditch the Pump

Many bros focus on maximizing the “pump” or temporary swelling of muscles due to an increase in blood volume. They don’t focus on progression and end up using the same weights workout after workout, week after week, and not making substantial gains. That is because, in drug-free lifters, the pump is not a driver of muscle growth or strength gain. What will result in substantial gains is progressive overload or the increase of work and intensity over time. This can mean lifting more weight, doing more sets, more reps, or taking shorter breaks between sets. In any case, making progress every week in each exercise is the best way for a drug-free lifter to make consistent strength and size gains.

Sample Workout

To give an example of what an efficient routine might look like, here is a sample full body workout that I might do every other day. It focuses on all the major muscle groups, can be completed in as little as 30 minutes, and offers major gains if used with the principle of progressive overload.

Bench Press        3 sets x 5-8 reps

Squat                   3 sets x 6-10 reps

Rack Pull             2-3 sets x 5-8 reps

Chin Up                3 sets x 6-10 reps

OHP                     3 sets x 5-8 reps

5 Reasons Why You Don’t Have Abs and How to Get Them


5 Reasons You Don’t Have Abs

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1: You’re too fat. burn-fat-q_rotator

Problem

Your abs are never going to show if you have too much fat covering them. Start by reading my blog 5 ridiculously easy diet strategies for fat loss. Basically, abs are made in the kitchen. No amount of cardio, crunches, or creatine will give you abs if your diet is shit. Get your diet under control and you will finally see the cuts you’ve been wanting.

5 Ridiculously Easy Strategies for Cutting Body Fat

2: You’re terribly inconsistent.images 

Problem 

Change is hard. That’s true for everything you do. What is the hardest part about change? Sticking to the new change. Whether thats your new workout regimen or your diet consistency is key. You can’t expect to crash diet or hit the gym hard for 3 weeks and look like the next cover of Muscular Development. These people look the way they look because of YEARS in the gym and YEARS doing everything right in the kitchen.

Solution

So, with that said find a workout program that you can reasonable accomplish, and a diet strategy that makes sense of your lifestyle and stick to it. Don’t change for 6, 12, or even 18 weeks. After then, reevaluate. You don’t have to pick the hardest 7 day a week, macro controlled strategy. Even 3 days a week consistently with consistently good eating will show changes. The biggest thing here is just look yourself in the mirror and be realistic. Set SMART goals. Specific, measurable, attainable, realist, and time orientated.

3: You’re doing ‘abs’ too muchunknown

Problem

I have multiple gripes with this one. First off i’m not saying that training the core is bad by any means. It is in fact absolutely necessary. But not amount of extra core work will ever get you abs. In fact, most core work is relatively low intensity and will not burn too many extra calories. Another thing to think about is when you train the musculature with resistance the muscle will grow. Now, for men this isn’t necessarily a bad thing but no women wants a thick mid section even if its full of muscle.

Solution

Instead of trying to pump your abs up like Arnold everyday try thinking about having STRONG abs. A few good exercises are the turkish get up and the kettle bell wind mill. Try doing these in sets of 3-5 reps and get strong. Then spend the rest of your workout doing some HIIT conditioning. I provide some examples below.

4: Your conditioning sucks3c51bb38-2181-48ed-a17d-d4c3099cfd9e-jpg-_cb320658952__sl300__

Problem

Some people like to finish off their workouts with a little extra ab work or some time on the treadmill. I applaud the effort but, this isn’t getting you anywhere fast. Instead, try some HIIT conditioning. I recommend no more than 15 min total work time at the end of strength training days and no more than 30 min total work time on conditioning only days. You can follow this up with some low intensity work on a bike, treadmill, elliptical, etc for a little extra burn if you’d like. Again, the goal here is to get rid of fat so you can show off the muscle you’ve worked so hard for.

A few things to try

Strength day finishers:

Airdyne bike ladder:

Maintain your rpm’s (Beginner 80+ rpm, Intermediate 85+, Advanced 90+, Maniac 100+)

You’re going to want to watch the timer and follow this time pattern:

Work:Rest

15:15

30:30

45:45

60:60

45:45

30:30

15:15

Conditioning Day work sample:

Try and EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute). You start your first set when the clock is at 0. You will end somewhere around 30-35 seconds (hopefully) then take the rest of that minute to rest. Then start on the next full min (1:00) perform the next set, so on and so forth for prescribed time.

25 min EMOM:

5x:

15 Burpee

70 Yard trap bar farmers walk

20 KB Swing

20 Push ups (If push ups aren’t your thing, try substituting mountain climbers for sets of 60)

12 KB Goblet Squats

EMOM’s are a great way to get your heart rate up and get a little extra strength work in at the same time. This will have you reaping the benefits of your workout for a lot longer than the 25 min work time.

If you’re unfamiliar with any of the movements, Youtube is your friend.

5: You’re not lifting heavy enough, often enough.

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No better way to get the fat burning fire started and keep it going all day than with some heavy compounds. Exercises like the squat, bench press, deadlift, and standing barbell overhead press tax the system like no other. Not only do you burn calories while doing theses exercises but the load is so sufficient on your system that it will take your body days to recover. This means the majority of calories in are put towards recovering the body. Not many unused calories to sit around and sore up as fat.

Lifting heavy will allow you to retain muscle mass while you’re getting cut up. More muscle = a higher metabolic rate. What does this mean? You burn more calories while essentially doing nothing. When you lift heavy you are telling your body, I  NEED this muscle and in return your body will retain it. Remember, you need muscle in order to see muscle. Nothing will piss a guy off quicker than having worked his ass off for 6 months to get those golden abs and realize he has no delts, traps, biceps, or quads.

If you can manage 3 strength days/week try this for your heavy stuff:

Monday: Squat 6×4

Wednesday: Bench Press: 5×5

Friday: Deadlift 6×3, OHP 5×5

Follow these exercises up with some assistance work around the same muscle groups.