Monthly Archives: September 2010

Strength is Strength

“Yo, how much can you bench?”

“Yo, how much can you squat?”

“Yo, yo, how much can you dead?”

I hear these questions all too frequently in the industry and around the fitness forums. These lifts are routinely performed by many a gym goer and regarded by many as rites of passage into strength-hood.

These three lifts – the squat, bench press and dead lift (for those of you who don’t know them), are known as “free weight” exercises. These exercises are very productive and beneficial if you do them correctly – like any other weight lifting exercise.

However, the folks who perform these lifts often place heavy judgement on those who don’t. They’ll say that free weights are “real weights” and the use of machines does not mimic real life movements and thus any strength you develop using machines won’t carry over to the real world. So if your numbers in the free weight lifts are not up to snuff, you are considered weak by the people who are good at them.

This is, like, so silly!

You’re muscles don’t know the difference between weights that are round or square, attached to a pulley or a guide rod, fixed to a long bar or a short bar or any other configuration you can thing of. Gravity effects each of these in exactly the same manner.

Muscles contract and lengthen. They either experience a meaningful level of resistance and fatigue or they don’t. While it is true that some exercises can be more productive overall than others (FE: the squat is a better overall exercise than lunges as is the leg press vs. leg extensions), the bottom line is meaningful resistance and sufficient fatigue and then recovery.

Strength is strength. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

Shit Your Doctor Says


Let’s face it – sometimes well-meaning and wonderful people talk shit and say dumb things. And they often say dumb things with conviction.

Sometimes they are famous actors who say intelligent things like “Save our planet!” Our planet has a name – it’s called the Earth.

Sometimes they are politicians who say brilliant things like “Building a Mosque near ground zero in un-American.” Please. Read the Constitution.

Sometimes they are – brace yourselves now – doctors who say things like:

– Eat a low fat diet if you’re a diabetic
– Low carb diets are fad diets
– Fiber is good for your digestion
– You need to eat complex carbohydrates
– Saturated fat causes heart disease
– Eating cholesterol puts you at risk for heart disease
– Walking is the best form of exercise
– Blood vitamin D levels above 100 ng/dl are toxic
– To lose weight, eat less calories
– Use margarine instead of butter (yes indeed they STILL say this!)
– If your cholesterol is over 200 you need take statins

This is a short list of well-meaning yet totally dumb shit your doctor says. If your doctor is giving you advice on nutrition or exercise, demand the evidence. Doctors have a responsibility to support their statements. You’re the boss – not them.

But all the above statements are shit. Wipe them out of your mind. And once gone, refill yourselves on reality by visiting the Nutrition and Metabolism Society website.

A Good President


I reached into my gym fridge the other day to eat some duck mousse pate from D’Artagnan Foods. I was looking forward to the creamy, rich flavor and enjoy the fact that I was eating something healthy. I’ve had some of their products before in the past and have enjoyed them.

As I turned over the dish to check the fat and protein content so that I could smile knowing that I was eating something really fatty, horror struck. On the front of the product it said:

“Made with duck liver & duck fat.”

But the flip side revealed more ingredients:

“Made with milk, corn starch and hydrolized soy protein.”

Disgusted and disappointed, I instantly wrote to the company:

Dear D’Artagnon –

I recently bought a dish of your Mousse Basquaise duck liver. On the front it says “”Made with Duck Liver & Duck Fat with Red Bell Peppers and Port Wine.”

Today as I opened it to eat for breakfast, I turned it over to read the protein content and much to my dismay, I saw further ingredients not listed on the front – milk, corn starch and hydrolyzed soy! The milk is not so bad but the corn starch and soy are awful. Why in the world would you add these garbage ingredients to an otherwise fantastic product?

Until you remove these unhealthy fillers from your products I will no longer buy D’Artagnan products. I will also alert everyone I know about this.

To his credit, the President of the company emailed me back that day:

Dear Mr. Hahn,

Thanks for your feedback and I’ll try to address your concerns here.

Unlike other products of this nature, we use no pork in our product, so there is no saturated fat to make an emulsion. As a result ,we need to add natural binders to help the emulsion occur (which results in a smooth mousse). In our experience, Corn starch and hydrolized soy are not bad. They are natural “flours” derived from 2 cereals.

Long-time consumers and customers know D’Artagnan is committed to using only the best and freshest products and ingredients. We have built our reputation on that.

I respect your expertise and right to disagree. That said, I hope you will reconsider your stance against us but at the very least I thank you for your comments.

Andy Wertheim, President
D’Artagnan, Inc.

Alright so I was a bit of a goon for going off like that in haste. But it really riled me that these god awful ingredients were not on the front. And whether or not he is right about the saturated fat being necessary to make it creamy, I don’t know (duck fat does have 35% saturated fat). But that he wrote back so quickly shows that he is a good President.

Now I like his company even more.

Rice and Beans vs. Steak and Eggs

My friend Regina Wilshire, author the the amazing blog Weight of the Evidence, posted some interesting numbers that I wanted to share with you all. They elucidate the difference between the protein and amino acid profiles of meat and veggies. Quite an eye opener.

I have a friend who is a vegetarian (however he eats eggs and fish so how this makes him a vegetarian I never understood) who is always arguing with me that he gets all the protein and AA he needs from his combinations of rice and beans. I have begged to differ with him on many occasions but never stopped to do the homework that Regina did. Take a look (sorry that its a bit choppy):

With 110g of 85% protein/15% fat of ground beef + 1 egg, a 70kg individual meets his needed amino acid requirements. The reason for the 10g additional beef is that the Leucine was less than needed. For both the egg and the beef, calories to achieve the necessary amino acids (as per World Health Organization/FAO) is 353 calories.

Need Amino Acid Egg Beef Total
0.280 Tryptophan 0.83 0.157 0.987
1.050 Threonine 0.277 1.181 1.458
1.400 Isoleucine 0.335 1.346 1.681
2.730 Leucine 0.541 2.377 2.702
2.100 Lycine 0.455 2.525 2.918
1.050 Methionine 0.190 0.785
Cyctine 0.136 0.314 1.425
1.820 Valine 0.428 1.497 1.925
1.750 Phenylaline 0.339 1.187
Tyrocine 0.249 0.939 2.714

Contrast this to rice + beans. To meet the same amino acid needs with rice and beans, one needs to consume 350g of each, with a calorie load of 956 calories. In the case of the rice & beans, more was needed to achieve the methionine and cystine levels needed.

Need Amino Acid Rice Beans Total
0.280 Tryptophan 0.098 0.378 0.476
1.050 Threonine 0.297 1.158 1.455
1.400 Isoleucine 0.361 1.491 1.852
2.730 Leucine 0.689 2.677 3.366
2.100 Lycine 0.301 2.205 2.506
1.050 Methionine 0.196 0.409
Cyctine 0.172 0.294 1.071
1.820 Valine 0.508 1.816 2.324
1.750 Phenylaline 0.445 1.858
Tyrocine 0.280 0.745 3.328

As you can see, the profiles are different – they each meet the amino acids needed for a 70kg person, but the calories needed are vastly different, with the second having absolute zero B12 and vitamin D.

So there you have it. Most vegetarians are more than likely walking around in a mild or perhaps severe state of nutritional deficiency unless they are taking supplements. Even then it is not the same as getting your needs via real foods.

Client Results


Fat loss is by far the number one desire for 99% of the clients that walk through the Serious Strength door. As many of you already know our approach to achieving fat loss is:

1. A low sugar/carbohydrate, high fat, adequate protein real food diet
2. Strength training

Simple right?

We have achieved some impressive results with hundreds of clients over the 12 years we have served NYC’s Upper West Side. Just read our testimonials page and you will see. Some of our clients are very famous and wealthy people who could train anywhere in NYC they would like to but choose our little studio instead.

I recently sent out an email to all of my clients welcoming them back from their summer vacations and asking them if there was anything I could do to make their experience at Serious Strength better. Here was one response:


I signed up for 16 sessions a few months ago and trained with Neil (as well as Shawn and Tanya for 1 session each). Bottom line, I really like all your trainers–professional, very easy to work with, great motivators. Neil was great with helping me with my diet, and low carbs definitely made me feel better overall–lessened cravings, slept better, etc. Unfortunately, 15 sessions into it, I wasn’t seeing the weight loss results I expected. I cut carbs way down, didn’t eat grains–even stopped eating fruit for a time–and, of course, ate a lot of protein, yet the scale wasn’t budging. Neil was very honest from the beginning and told me that, in order to achieve my primary goal of weight loss, it would be largely based on a change in my diet. So, the fact that the radical change in diet didn’t help me, Neil’s honesty that the strength training was not for weight loss, and the cost of the sessions, I couldn’t continue. There were plenty of things I did like and really wanted the sessions to work for me, but I just couldn’t justify continuing to pay given my lackluster results.

I’m sure you’re thinking I should have been more patient, given it more time–perhaps. But in the end, it just wasn’t working for me. The good news is that I’m much more conscious of my carb intake, so thanks for that. Best of luck to you and your staff.

So like any good business owner, I freaked. These kinds of emails make me feel like I’m about to go over the top of a huge roller coaster with a hot nail stuck in my eye.

I looked at her chart which contained two Bioanalogics readouts of her body fat, lean mass, body weight and other info that helps us determine and track client results. Here’s an example of mine:

BAD for web

Each were a month apart. I saw that, not only HAD the scale budged, she had lost 4.5 pounds in 27 days! These are amazing results. Now the question is, why did she say “…yet the scale didn’t budge.” I wrote to her explaining this and that from the look of it she’d have reached her short term goal in a mere 6 more weeks.

Clearly for many people, there is a difference between what they wish to see and what they actually see. My client wanted to see much more loss even though we told her that a 1-2 pound loss of fat a week was the best anyone could hope to accomplish. To her, a 4.5 pound loss was no loss at all.

I don’t know what the moral of this story is, but I do know that the story is all too common. I hope she comes back.

Contact Information

NYC Location
169 West 78th Street
New York, NY 10024

[email protected]

Montclair, NJ Location
25 Watchung Plaza
Montclair, NJ 07042

[email protected]

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