Category Archives: Activities

The Quick on WHY Carbs make people FAT

The consumption of Carbs (sugar/starches/fiber) causes the pancreas to release insulin.  The presence of insulin promotes FAT storage in FAT cells!

NOTE: The presence of Insulin  ALSO promotes the uptake of amino acids into muscle and synthesis of PROtein in muscle as well.

Therefore, Carbs, PROtein and FAT intake can all be manipulated through nutrition to attain one’s goals be it FAT LOSS or MUSCLE GAIN or both.

Not magic, just knowledge!


The Problem with Carbs…UPDATED!

What’s the problem with Carbs (carbohydrates)?  Nothing!  Nothing….UNLESS, you eat too many or all you eat is carbohydrate.

Consider 2 conditions: Quantity and Quality

Quantity:  If you eat too many calories you will very likely gain weight.  Eating too many calories is a highly relative event.  It’s relative to yourself and no one else.  It’s relative to your genetic disposition (look at your parents) and it’s relative to your level of activity (more likely a lack of activity).  Simply put, people who are overweight and/or are suffering from symptoms of metabolic syndrome may very well be consuming too many calories.  Not all!  But, many!  Therefore, the 1st order of business/effort for someone desiring to get better/healthier/lose weight is to EAT LESS.  This is by no means the end all, be all, fix all as there are many other circumstances that prevent success in the face of calorie cutting.  But it’s a logical start.

Quality:  The glycemic scale measures a carbs impact on blood sugar (and thereby, insulin release).  It’s range is 0-100 with 100 being “high glycemic” and causing the most rapid rise in blood sugar.  Carbs range all up and down this scale e.g., white bread is very high whereas veggies tend to be very low (slow) in causing blood sugar increases.  People who are diabetic or who are pre-diabetic or who are living la vida high-carb should heed this index.  Having steady blood sugar is ideal.  Processing is a necessary and almost unavoidable event in today’s world and carbs have many aliases (maltodextrin, cane sugar, glucose, lactose, fructose, sucrose, sugar, corn syrup….on and on…) so just be aware that long ingredient lists tend to indicate more processing/more sugar potential  – exercise caution.

I say again – EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT.  Whereas some folks are carbohydrate sensitive (they readily clear excess glucose) others are the opposite (cells are insulin insensitive causing a buildup of glucose AND insulin as they have no where to go – an issue compounded by continuous feedings) and have high glucose levels which typically results in Type 2 diabetes.

One very well known fact is that with the presence of insulin, the body’s ability to oxidize (use/burn) FAT as a source of energy is inhibited.  Eating CARBs causes an immediate response from the pancreas – a release of insulin.

One might consider this carb = insulin release = fat storage/non-fat oxidation sequence when he/she chooses to indulge in the non-science/sense (to date, to my knowledge, there is NOT a single study proving/supporting this dogma) supported notion that eating 6 (several) meals a day is a viable means of losing weight.  6 opportunities to store/not burn FAT!  Woo hoo!!!

Ranger School: Optimal Potential for Success/Graduation

When asked by a young Army Infantry Officer if I could guarantee his success in getting into Ranger School I offered up a “hmmmmmm…” followed by a “yes.”  Barring any physiological or mental impairment, I would absolutely *guarantee a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine success in passing what is statistically and practically speaking (arguably no doubt), the most prevalent barrier to success in Ranger School.  Read closely so I can qualify what I mean, how I do this and why this knowledge is most important for YOU if you truly desire the coveted Ranger Tab. What do I mean by guaranteed success?

Let’s first look at pass/fail stats for Ranger School.

  • 60% of all Ranger School failures occur in the first 4 days (“RAP Week”): RPA, Land Nav, Footmarch, CWSA
  • 75% of those who complete RAP week will eventually pass the Darby Phase and move on to the Mountain Phase.
  • 94% of those who start the Mountain Phase will eventually pass and move on to the Florida Phase.

The greatest barrier to graduating from Ranger School is FAILING the Ranger Physical Fitness Test (RPFT)/Ranger Physical Assessment (RPA).  The RPA (as it is referenced above) is simply the initial physical performance tool used by the army to attrite (send home) Ranger candidates:  49 push-ups, 59 sit-ups, 6 dead-hang strict (no kipping like a fish out of water or any of that CrossFit stuff) palm-in pull-ups, and the venerable but very doable 5 mile run in under 40 minutes.  Everything but the 5 mile run is pass/fail.

If you do not get IN Ranger School, you will not get THROUGH Ranger School.  Passing RPA (yes, this assumes you pass Land Nav, the foot march and Combat Water Survival) gets you into Darby Phase (75% pass rate from Darby!) and potentially (the statistical odds are in your favor if you give the above stats a cursory glance) your Ranger Tab.

With my approach to training, I guarantee you the human performance ability to not just pass the RPA but to decimate it! Additionally, you should physically breeze through the foot march and combat water survival. What about the rest of Ranger School? Well, you’re going to have to Forrest Gump your way through the rest of Ranger School the same way every other graduate has had to do.  At this point though, the odds are in your favor!

What do I require?  I require the same thing that will be required of you in order to successfully complete Ranger School.  Commitment!

If your push-ups are lacking – I can fix you.

If you cannot quite yet do 6 pull-ups – I can fix you.

If you cannot confidently run 5 miles in 40 minutes – I can fix you.

You simply have to be committed to doing what we need to do in order to enhance whatever area of human performance is necessary to achieve success in passing the RPA.

During this process we will increase your resiliency to injury and to all obstacles (real and perceived).

My intent is always to send my clients off to Day 1 with a high degree of confidence knowing they can successfully complete the RPA despite physical and mental depletion.

As far as the specific training approaches/techniques are concerned, every client is different.  Trust me, other than a bona fide physiological impairment (e.g., muscular dystrophy) there is a way to make someone who wants to push up, pull up, sit up and run their way into Darby Phase, more than capable of doing so.

*Unfortunately, nothing in life is absolutely guaranteed but I’d be willing to give a full refund to anyone who committed to the training and subsequently did not perform as advertised in passing  their RPA.

10,000 steps and 2,750 calories a day in activity…

It’s much more likely that you won’t even come close each day if you’re not making a concerted effort.  Consider an activity tracker like the Misfit or Basis B1.

Ahhhhh…more rain…and more rain…

Find a treadmill, SkiErg, Rower or just stay under the covers “b/c when you’re sleeping you’re not eating and when you’re not eating, you’re not getting fat.”  -Steven Bubel.

Training For Hypertrophy

Happy Veteran’s Day Weekend to all Veterans and Veteran’s Families – Thank You for Your Service!

The Importance of Rest & Recovery

Stronger, faster and frequent!  That describes how your workouts have been for some time now.  Gains and success have been the norm.  You’re determined to achieve and/or maintain an Uncommon level of health & fitness.  Good for you!  EXCEPT, wait a sec, you’re telling me you feel like crap all of the time, you’re chronically fatigued and you’re actually getting weaker in addition to other physiological and psychological symptoms that are becoming more pronounced with your continued effort?   Well, that doesn’t sound right!  Hmmm…in fact, that is completely opposite of what you should be experiencing based on your efforts.   Stronger, faster and frequent equals more…and more is better right?

As right as it sounds it is often times WRONG.  Without proper periods of rest/recovery, appropriate nutrition (right type of Protein, right kinds of Fats and Carbs) and reasonable sleep you’re very likely spinning your wheels while going nowhere fast or perhaps even 1-2 steps back.  That’s right.  As counter-intuitive as it seems, more is not better in the world of human performance.  At Uncommon Athlete it’s ok to be uncommon in your efforts.  In fact, we encourage it and even require it to a degree.  So too, do we encourage an uncommon (read: counter-intuitive) approach to recovery.  In fact, facets of recovery are included in every single workout we program for our clients in the form of warming up, mobility drills & stretching (both dynamic and static) and cool down actions.  What we can’t demand but will certainly never stop preaching at Uncommon Athlete is the need to REST.  Just like NO means NO…REST means REST.

What is overtraining?  In the scientific literature, overtraining is referred to as overreaching, under-recovery, etc.  If you’re the type that needs a specific definition then consider overtraining any increase in volume and/or intensity of exercise training resulting in short & long-term performance decrements.  Overtraining results in fatigue, due in part to a lack of proper rest and recovery. (Sports Med, 1997).  Quite frankly, the condition of being overtrained/under-recovered can get ridiculously complicated and way too esoteric in description when referencing specific affects within the neuroendocrine system based on the type of training i.e. endurance vs. resistance and the neuroendocrine response…blah blah blah.

So, to keep it simple for you, we at Uncommon Athlete have by and large assumed the responsibility for keeping our members a safe distance from becoming overtrained by programming not only the day-to-day efforts but also by “dialing down” periodically, the intensity of some of our UA programming.  We at Uncommon Athlete are in essence protecting you from yourself!  If you’re a consistent UAer then the plan works perfect.  Better adherence equals greater results in the aggregate.  Ultimately, life IS an aggregate event.  Rest/Recovery is too often an under-appreciated variable in getting more out of your uncommon efforts and thus more out of life.

“You cannot be common, the common man goes nowhere; you have to be uncommon.” – Herb Brooks

Simple Fitness Tips for Travelers by Mike Manning

Fitness on the Go- Tips for Travelers
Travel can be stressful. The more you travel, the harder it can be on your overall health. In fact, research indicates that those who spend 20 or more days a month away from home have much poorer overall health than those who travel infrequently, and the occurrence of obesity for frequent travelers is also considerably higher.
Of course, you can focus on working out and getting fit during the time you spend at home. It will also help you to make some plans for exercising when you travel. Start by researching the area where you will be traveling. If you belong to a health club at home, learn whether you will be able to gain access to a local gym at your destination. If you have the option of booking your own accommodations, look for a hotel that offers fitness amenities such as running trails, in-room fitness videos, a Zen room or workout sessions in their fitness center.  Prior to a recent trip to San Francisco I wanted to not only make sure that my stay would be comfortable but I also wanted to ensure that I would be able to keep up with my fitness goals while I was there.  I did some research on some review sites in order to find the right hotel for myself.  I was provided with a list of hotels in San Francisco that were ranked in order according to price and amenities.  This made the decision process much easier and I was able to pick a hotel that fit my budget, fitness and lodging requirements.
While journeying to your destination, stay limber by doing some stretching and basic chair exercises. This will help you avoid cramping, swelling and other discomfort frequently experienced by travelers on long drives or flights.
When traveling, keep an eye open for fitness opportunities. You probably won’t have an hour or two each day to devote to working out at the gym, but you can get good exercise in other ways. Get up early and run for 15 to 20 minutes before breakfast. At your hotel or meeting venues, take the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator. Keep a water bottle with you at all times to help you remain hydrated and lubricate joints that may become stiff from sitting in long meetings. If you have a tight schedule of meetings, get some exercise during short breaks. Find a secluded spot and knock out a few crunches, pushups, lunges and basic stretches.
When it comes to fitness, small things can make a big difference. At dinner with clients, choose water with lemon instead of a second or third cocktail. Pass on dessert or select fresh fruit. If possible, walk back to the hotel instead of riding in the car. You’ll notice the difference in how you feel, and you’ll return home less exhausted as well.

Fitness through Movement…