Strength and Physique Q&A

Q: "Hello my name is J. L., and I read an article with your name and your skills. I have a question: I was a police officer in PA, and I was released from the department, because I failed my 1.5 mile run. I am a stocky guy and running was never my favorite thing to do. Now I am going for another department, and of course I have to run.

"Do you have any advice on what I can do to improve my run? I'm currently running a 9 minute and 30 second mile. And I have to run a 12 minute 1.5 mile. I run every other day and do strength training, and I am getting no where to achieve my running goal."


My Answer: I'm not the running expert. My fortes lie in strength training and in bodybuilding. If you're stocky, however, then you should really focus on losing some weight and dieting. Go on a vegetarian diet. If you have the discipline, then go on a vegan diet. Lose the weight training and just focus on running.

I know this runs counter to my usual training and diet advice, but most people ask me about how to gain muscle. Your focus should be fat loss to better your running time and vegetarianism to improve your cardiovascular health.

Q: "I was reading your article on workouts for police, and it looks like something I want to try. I have two questions though: The workout you show has weeks 1 and 2, and weeks 4 and 5. What do we do for week 3?

"My second question is, will this help strengthen my hips at all? I was recently told I'm getting some bone loss in my hips and was told exercise would be the way to help it."

Thanks for the help!
-Ed B.

My Answer: That was a typo, so go from week 2 into week 4. With regards to strengthening your bones, strength training will help alleviate bone loss over time. However, if you're asking that particular question, then chances are you haven't been strength training very much at all.

If that's the case, then don't start with the Return to Copland workout. This workout is brutal, and beginners and people who workout intermittently should not start off with this program. Choose a simple program first, like by 5x5, and transition to more and more complex programs over time. THEN start the Return to Copland workout.

Q: "With the books you have out on Amazon, which one of them would you recommend first [given my back condition]? With my birthday being in September, I can tell a friend of mine to give me a gift credit from Amazon. Which one [of your books] do you think will benefit me the most right now? I am sure I will get the others also but not very soon."

Thanks again,

My Answer: Well given your ataxia, I would say none of my books are appropriate for you. I know it seems a little weird for me to tell you NOT to buy my books, but the fact is, I wrote these books for hardcore bodybuilders. I didn't write them for the general public. The books are not about physical rehabilitation.

As an independent trainer, I am very frank and candid with people, because that is what a consultant does: tell it like it is. It should not be solely about money, contracts, sales or ego.

So I have to tell you that my books are too advanced for your condition. However, I'm sure you're more interested in my books not for rehab, but because you want to sculpt the ultimate physique. In this regard, you will find a lot useful information, but it is up to you to make sure you're training safely. For you, I would not recommend SPV2: Neo-Classical Bodybuilding, because the programs are very grueling and are meant for advanced bodybuilders. SPV1: The Articles and SPV3: Tactics and Strategies would be worth your investment, because both books have chapters on postural realignment and maintenance as well as physique enhancement.

Q: I have a question for you: I am a large guy (about 320), and I started working out. When I do sit-ups, my lower back really hurts. It doesn't matter if I do crunches or full sit-ups?

-Matthew V.

My Answer: If you're using every other muscle BUT your abs, then yes, it would be normal for you to have lower back pain. But at 320, ditch the ab work. You won't get a six-pack or reduce the size of your waist by doing sit-ups or crunches. Work on losing fat throughout your body overall by working out your whole body, not just your abs. This means predominantly whole body movements. A good primer on using whole body movements to generate whole body fat loss is my article Strength Training for Fat Loss.

Once you generate total body fat loss, THEN you can work on your abs.

Q: "First of all, I would like to compliment you on the Shotgun Method article! I plan to apply for the position of a police officer, and I'm having trouble finding a training regimen that incorporates: v-taper, cardio, size, and strength. If you could find time out of your day to email me your take or a training regimen, that would be awesome."

Shawn H.

My Answer: Glad you like the article, Shawn. The Shotgun Method is an excellent template on which you can design a strength program to address all your issues: size and strength exercises on shotgun days, v-taper exercises on troubleshooting days. Do some sprint intervals for cardio. But if you haven't checked it out already, then read my Strength Training for the Professional Warrior article. It addresses all of the issues you mentioned. Keep in mind, though, that police academies don't give a rat's ass about your V-taper or your size and strength.

Q: "Hello coach, I'm a fan of your blog, and I have the same 'thinking' about working out, etc. The Shotgun Method is one I really enjoyed, but since I'm in a fat loss mode, I did a few changes last week. It was a lot of volume, but I'm wondering what you think of that split? I mixed the shotgun with your Warrior Workout for fat loss:

Monday = Warrior Workout
Tuesday = Shotgun
Wednesday = Warrior Workout
Thursday = off
Friday = Warrior Workout
Saturday = Shotgun
Sunday = off

"Don't know if it's crazy, but on the scale I lost 3 pounds. Thanks and keep up the good work!"

Danny, the Rampage

My Answer: Well, Rampage, I'm not fond of blending 2 different training programs. The reason is that if the training programs have different goals, then your body gets confused and you do a crappy job at accomplishing those multiple goals. But if what you're doing works for you, then stay with it for no longer than 3 weeks and then back off.

Besides, the Shotgun Method is already a blending of 2 different training programs: one focused on bulking (Shotgun) and one focused on symmetry (Troubleshooting). Since the Professional Warrior workout addresses multiple training goals for law enforcement, it also is a blending of different training programs.

Q: "Love your blog! Quick question:

"I am currently doing a 5x5, 4 times a week routine per your site, and recently got sick and have been backtracked this week. Normally train Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and this week I got a slight cold on Sunday, and haven't been able to go to the gym.

"Thankfully today Wednesday I am feeling a lot better, but I am already behind for my routine for the week. My question is, what is a good quick training routine you would recommend to someone in my situation? Say once or twice this week, in order to basically maintain strength, or not lose their progress in the gym?

"I'll probably adjust weights for next week depending on how I feel, but it would be great to stay at the level I was, or not lose much progress from this backtrack. Thanks for addressing my question, and thanks for the great information!"

Jenaro J.

My Answer: It's a tricky thing when you get sick, but when you've recovered, just resume your program from where you left off. Since you coming off a mini-layoff, however, I suggest you cut the volume down to half and not train to failure. Jumping right back into the program full force would be too much of a shock for your system.

In other words, if you're doing 5x5, then you should bring it down to 3 sets of 5 reps wiyou can do 6-8 reps with. Next week when you feel better, resume the 5x5 program.


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