6 Secret Nuggets to Enhance your Physique

by on October 20, 2016

How’s it going Mountain Dog readers! We all enjoy some good ole secrets from time to time, especially if they are secrets to help enhance your physique, right? Yell “Hell Yeah” if you agree with us here. Okay time to be serious here now ladies and gents. One of the reasons you are a Mountain Dog reader is because you want to learn and be an ongoing student when it comes to training and nutrition practices. Getting some tips and nuggets to apply to real world practice is what it is all about. In this article we will be sharing 6 Secret Nuggets to Enhance your Physique and how you can take action on these right away.

Secret Nugget #1: Learn How to Cook

Do you ever joke around saying, “I need to learn how to cook” or “I wish I could cook something like that?”

If you’ve never been taught, building a cooking habit can seem pretty daunting. We know this because we used to struggle in the kitchen too. We spent most of our lives surviving on turkey and mayo sandwiches, frozen pizza, and restaurant meals. When we could build up enough motivation to cook something, we would just boil pasta and feel accomplished.

In hindsight, the excuses we employed seem ridiculous, but we remember how difficult (and frustrating) it was to want to make a lifestyle change, but lack the know-how to do so. Eventually, through years of trial and error, we figured out how to change our habits. And these habits carried over immensely when it came to meal prepping, using flexible dieting, and cooking a great meal for our ladies.

The first step in building a sustainable cooking habit is to address your challenges head on and come up with rational solutions. Here are some of the most common reasons people say they can’t cook, and tips to overcome each one:

  • I don’t have time
  • I don’t like to wash dishes
  • I don’t like grocery shopping
  • I was never taught how to cook
  • I am just a bad cook, it’s in my blood

The list goes on ladies and gents but at the end of the day these are all excuses and here are some solutions to these excuses:

  • If you don’t have time, make sure to prioritize it and set a reminder, we can all block out a small chunk of time during the day or week to cook
  • If you hate doing dishes then put on a podcast or some of your favorite music and block out the actual thought process of washing dishes
  • Nowadays you can have groceries delivered to your door with apps and online sites
  • There are plenty of YouTube videos to learn or take a cooking class
  • We are all not the greatest when starting out, you have to understand it takes repetition and trial and error to get better and learn
  • Perhaps experiment with hiring a personal chef

Secret Nugget #2: Seek Help and Hire a Coach

You see, it’s very difficult to be objective when coaching yourself. Is it fair for a doctor or therapist to practice on themselves or family? No, because of the biased opinion and emotional attachment that’s involved. The purpose of a coach is to gain objectivity and to make decisions that will benefit them from a logical place and not let biased or emotional attachments overpower that.

Hiring a good qualified coach can really take your progress to the next level within training and nutrition. At some point you have to look at these coaches as mentors, you cannot let your ego get in the way if you want to learn and improve upon yourself inside and outside of the gym. We have had 3-4 different coaches within our fitness journeys and we will be the first ones to say how beneficial great coaches are.

What Makes a Good Coach?

A good coach is someone that offers the following:

  • Builds a solid relationship with the client or athlete
  • Makes sure to educate the client or athlete and have them understand the WHY’s behind things
  • Has a non-biased eye towards the client or athlete and an give honest feedback even if it is not what oyu want to hear
  • One who has expertise and education in the sport or activity and if they have competed at a high level in your chosen activity, this can also bring value if they had to think hard along the way.
  • Someone who has experience working with people and has gotten them results. Are they all talk, or have they delivered for clients.
  • A person who can serve guidance, sustainability, accountability, and structure

Don’t be afraid to seek out a well-qualified coach to help you take your game to the next level.

Secret Nugget #3: Have a Crystal Clear Vision with your Goals

Through the years with our training and nutrition, we have learned that if you think about strategy (the “how”) too early, it will actually inhibit your vision (the “what”) and block you from thinking as big as you need to think. What you need is a vision that is compelling, realistic, and fun. If it’s not compelling, you won’t have the motivation to stay the course and you won’t be able to recruit others to help you.

You Become What You Envision Yourself Being

If you really want to be great at anything, you have got to have a crystal clear vision of exactly what you want, why you want it, and when you want it to happen with your training and nutrition goals. All of our amazing mentors that we look up to have all done this and created a crystal clear vision. When we first started our training and nutrition journeys we looked up so much to our mentor and coach Layne Norton to the point we wanted to be just like him and train like him. After some years of trial and error, learning from other mentors and discovering who we are, we knew we couldn’t be Layne Norton and we didn’t have any right to. We had to be our own versions of Eric and Chris Martinez, train the way we are able to, continue to get 1% better each and every day inside and outside of the gym.

Think about how many athletes grow up idolizing legendary professionals, we know we did growing up being athletes. How many of us wanted to be the next Michael Jordan, Peyton Manning, and Barry Bonds? We are sure many people in the world envisioned themselves being like these hall of fame athletes but realize they cannot at some point in their lives. You can absolutely be great like them with hard work and talent, but chances are you will never be who they are, what they accomplished, and have their mindset and visions. You have to create your own vision.

Also remember this, John talks about this in his seminars. Your HABITS have to support your goals and what you believe your destiny to be. If you aren’t doing the right things day in and day out, then you will fail plain and simple.

Some solutions to creating a crystal clear vision are as follows:

  • Write down what you want your vision to look like through training and nutrition on a piece of paper. Make sure it is very detailed and put it somewhere visible to remind you daily
  • Write down the worst possible outcome to this vision and think of 2-3 solutions to get around this outcome
  • Tell your vision to close friends and family and have them hold you accountable
  • Tell your social media about your vision and always keep them up to date with progress
  • Document things that must become habit to propel you toward achieving your goals

Now that you understand what a crystal clear vision is and know how to create one, take action today, not tomorrow. Without a vision, a goal is like a ship without a rudder and is in danger of drifting aimlessly and can eventually sink.

Secret Nugget #4: Surround yourself with a Dream Team (coaches and community with like-minded people)

We spoke earlier about hiring an awesome coach, now it is time to surround yourself with greatness! What we mean by surrounding yourself with greatness is start to hang around like-minded people that share the same interests as you. By doing this it will only elevate your game inside and outside of the gym and ultimately push you harder towards your goals. We know this from experience, sometimes if you are around toxic people, it will bring you down and make you have a whole lot of self-doubt.

Make sure to take this secret seriously, we promise you it will really change your game inside and outside of the gym and you as a person. Here are some suggestions on how to surround yourself with a dream team:

  • Go to a gym where the environment is friendly, supportive, and welcoming
  • Research local meet-up groups that share general interests
  • Go to local bodybuilding or powerlifting shows to meet people that are like minded
  • Research Facebook groups and you might find some great peers that live near you
  • Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, you are not the only one looking to be surrounded by greatness

The probability of your success within attaining the ideal physique you want will be enhanced if you create an “A Team” around you.

Secret Nugget #5: Do More NEAT Things Outside of Formal Exercise

In today’s society with all of the social media and technology, activity levels have gone down drastically. Add poor eating habits and a lack of exercise to this equation along with lowered activity and we have a recipe for an obesity epidemic.

Enter NEAT…Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.

NEAT encompasses the expenditure of energy that is secondary to movement beyond purposeful exercise and resistance training activities. Activities that promote NEAT include a series of continuous and vital movements with postural changes that do not involve moderate to vigorous intensity exercise and occur at a trivial or low energy workload on a daily basis for minutes to hours.1

These activities include:

  • Walking
  • Climbing stairs at work or any recreational community place
  • Fidgeting
  • Singing
  • Laughing
  • Cleaning
  • Standing up more frequently

These additive activities are associated with energy expenditure beyond the basal metabolic activity and account for significant thermogenesis and energy consumption.2

An example of effectiveness with NEAT is in the Amish community. NEAT is applied and accumulated throughout the day during occupational requirements such as:

  • Chores
  • Running errands
  • Transportation

Only 4% of Amish adults are obese. They walk an avg of 18,000 steps per day, perhaps the highest mean value reported for this time3. Compared with Non-Amish US adults, who avg approximately 5,100 steps per day.4

The avg American sleeps 8.5 hours per day, allowing 15.5 hours in which exercise is not being practiced as recommended in the guidelines.

Another example of the effectiveness within NEAT is a classic study by Levine and colleagues in 1999, where they took a group of subjects and over fed them a 1000 calories for 8 weeks and resulted in a mean storage of only 432 calories; the rest was dissipated through an increase in NEAT. This increase in NEAT was as high as 692 calories per day.5

These findings show 2 things:

  1. People who think they’re “hard gainers” may actually just be “NEAT Freaks” who hyper-respond to caloric intake increases by increasing subconscious/unconscious energy output
  2. If NEAT is increased outside of formal exercise (resistance training and cardio), you may be able to stay leaner and eat more in a calorie surplus


Lets take a look at the above picture. In 2014 Trexler and collegues came up with a more accurate representation of what total daily energy expenditure (metabolism) should comprise of.6

Notice how NEAT is substantially greater than EAT (Exercise Activity Thermogenesis). The point is that you cannot make hasty judgements about the need to add cardio without a diligent assessment of the individual’s profile of energy expenditure, which includes both exercise (resistance training and cardio) and non-exercise components (see list above of NEAT activities).

When you really think about it, we resistance train for 1-2 hours a day and we really don’t burn that many calories. Throw in some cardio and you may get a little bit more calorie expenditure for the day/week.

It’s important to stay active outside of formal exercise (weight training and cardio) to expend more calories and thus lose more body fat if that’s your goal or just stay leaner overall throughout the year(s).

Here are some more NEAT things to do outside of formal exercise:

  • Take stairs instead of elevators
  • Park further away from office or stores
  • Stand up more often if you sit a lot
  • Take 5-10 min walks every couple of hours
  • Wash the dishes instead of using the dishwasher
  • Walk or bike to work instead of driving
  • Do yard work
  • Do stuff around the house
  • Wash car by hand
  • Reduce time spent at sedentary behaviors (watching TV, playing video games, on your phones on the couch)

Here are some NEAT activities along with the potential amount of calories that can be burned while doing them:7




There’s even data showing that energy expenditure declines after weight loss and it’s mainly due to Less NEAT. 8 The authors concluded “A clinically significant decline in Energy Expenditure (EE) after weight loss occurs, that Non-Resting Energy Expenditure (NREE) is the primary compartment in which EE is reduced, and these reductions in EE persist over an extended period of time- perhaps indefinitely.”

Another study by Weyer and colleagues showed a drop in NEAT plays a big role in metabolic adaptation post diet and leads to weight regain.9 The authors concluded “Results of the present study of participants in the biosphere experiment indicated that after 2 years of an energy restricted, low fat, but nutrient dense diet, and a marked sustained weight loss, 24 hour EE was significantly lower than predicted for age, sex, and body composition. The lower than predicted 24 hour EE was in large part attributed to low NEAT in the chamber.”

The moral of the story is to do more NEAT things outside of formal exercise to keep your activity levels high, stay leaner year around, and to lose more weight if that’s your goal.

Secret Nugget #6: Track your Training Progress

A training log is kept by every serious trainee as a record of his or her training progress. It is a crucial source of data for determinations such as:

  • Staleness
  • Overtraining
  • Effectiveness of newly added exercises
  • Tracking volume
  • Effectiveness of overall training protocol
  • Constantly making progress with progressive overload

It’s absolutely crucial to keep ensuring progressive overload during your training career.10

What does this mean?

It means to have some sort of progression such as adding weight, adding reps, adding sets, adding exercises, etc. If your main goal is putting on muscle, focus more on progressions that increase volume, and if your main goal is strength, focus more on progressions that increase load (amount of weight lifted).

Another form of tracking we’ve been experimenting with is “informal note taking” during our training.

This is a great way to:

  • Gage your effort during sets when not lifting to muscular failure
  • Could therefore help with the planning of your training
  • Help reduce the tendency to train to failure on every set of every exercise
  • Keep you healthy and fresh for your workouts for more quality workouts
  • Be more in tuned with your body
  • Have you increasing your training volume over time

There’s some good data supporting this and try using informal note taking on the main lifts like this:11

  • Feelings like: “easy,” “medium,” or “hard”
  • Use a 5 point scale where 1 was easy and 5 was hard
  • Use the RIR scale (repetitions in reserve scale of 7-10) 7 being you had 3 reps left in the tank, 8 being you had 2 reps left in the tank, 9 being 1 rep left in the tank, and 10 being you had no reps left in the tank and it was maximum failure.

These informal notes and training log records helps us look back at our training and forces us to pay attention to it more, helps us assign and adjust load and volume depending on environmental and lifestyle factors, helps us reflect on and honestly evaluate each set, and this will help keep our working sets dialed into that zone of quality.

Just ask yourself this question, “Would you go on a road trip without a road map?” So why go into the gym without a plan?

Closing Thoughts

Now that you have these amazing “6 Secret Nuggets to Enhance your Physiques,” you have to take action! Many people say they are “gonna” but never actually put all the info they have into practicality. We assure you all that if you apply these 6 secrets nuggets to your training, nutrition, and lifestyle habits, you will be a head of the game.

To recap these “6 Secret Nuggets to Enhance your Physique:”

  1. Learn How to Cook. We can all make learning to cook a priority, so take this seriously and make an effort. The return of investment on this skill will be worth it.
  2. Seek Help and Hire a Coach. We all need a non-biased eye to help us see our blind spots, why not hire a coach to help further your education and help you reach your goals.
  3. Have a Crystal Clear Vision with your Goals: A vision without clarity and taking action is just a dream, make sure to create a crystal clear vision and execute.
  4. Surround yourself with a Dream Team: Surround yourself with greatness to help elevate your game inside and outside of the gym, life is too short to spend it around toxic environments.
  5. Do More NEAT Things Outside of Formal Exercise: Increase your overall daily step count by being more active outside of just resistance training and cardio to stay leaner or lose more weight if that’s your main goal.
  6. Track your Training Progress: Be old school and use a note pad to track your training progress or try informal note taking. Just do something to measure and track your training progress.

If you can’t do all six that’s okay, start with one, two, or three of them, work at them and keep progressing over time to enhance your physique.

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