Is a Personal Training Certification Worth It?

As my ACE personal training certification expires this month I thought it would be a good idea to write a short post on whether it’s worth it to get one or not.

First of all, if you work at a gym and they force you to get a certification, then of course go and get it!

But if you work for yourself as a freelance trainer then it is a huge waste of money in my opinion.

If you already have experience helping people get fit but don’t have an expensive piece of paper to show for it, don’t worry about it. In fact, when I got trained at Gold’s Gym SoCal the consultant said there was a trainer at Gold’s Venice who gets paid up to 10k an hour with zero certifications!

Before I ever had my certification I was already training people for money!

Now, if you’re still new to fitness and want to become a trainer, then getting your certification might be the best route to take to get the proper knowledge.

This depends on if you like to learn on your own or if you need a class to hold you accountable. But if you already have the knowledge then don’t waste your time or money on the class!

If you have anymore questions please email me (m@mattbetz.com) 🙂

What is Intermittent Fasting?

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting.

It doesn’t matter which foods you choose to eat, but rather when you choose to eat them.

There are several different intermittent fasting methods, all of which split the day or week into eating periods and fasting periods.

Many people already fast everyday accidentally, while they sleep. Intermittent fasting can be as simple as extending that fast a little bit longer.

You can do this by skipping breakfast, eating your first meal at noonish and your last meal at 8pm.

This is the most popular form of intermittent fasting, known as the 16/8 method.

Despite what you may think at this point, intermittent fasting is actually pretty easy to do. Many people report feeling better and having more energy in a fasted state. This is huge in Silicon Valley right now.

Hunger is usually not that big of an issue, although it can be a problem in the very beginning, while your body is getting used to not eating for extended periods of time.

No food is allowed during the fasting period, but you can drink water, coffee, tea and other non-caloric beverages.

Taking supplements is generally allowed while fasting, as long as there are no calories in them.

Why should you fast?

Humans have actually been fasting for thousands, if not millions of years.

Most of the time it was done out of necessity, when there wasn’t any food available to eat.

In other instances, it was done for religious reasons.

Humans and other animals also often instinctively fast when sick. I especially know this to be true for me.

Clearly, there is nothing unnatural about fasting, and our bodies are very well equipped to handle extended periods of not eating because it’s built into our DNA.

All sorts of processes in the body change when we don’t eat for a while, in order to allow our bodies to thrive during a period of famine.

When fasted, we get significant reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels, as well as a drastic increase in human growth hormone (HGH).

Many people do intermittent fasting in order to lose weight, as it’s a very simple and effective way to restrict calories and burn fat.

Others do it for the metabolic health benefits, as it can improve various different risk factors and health markers.

There is also some evidence that intermittent fasting (or eating less in general) can help you live longer. Studies in rodents show that it can extend lifespan.

Some research also suggests that it can help protect against diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and many others.

Other people (like myself) simply like the convenience of intermittent fasting.

It is an effective way to make your life simpler, while improving your health at the same time. The fewer meals you need to plan for, the simpler your life will be overall.

Not having to eat 3+ times per day also saves time. A lot of it!

Here are some of the most popular forms:

The 16/8 Method: Fast for 16 hours each day.
Eat-Stop-Eat: Once or twice a week, don’t eat anything from dinner one day, until dinner the next day (a 24 hour fast).
The 5:2 Diet: During two days of the week, eat only about 500 calories.

Then there are many other variations.

I’m personally a fan of the 16/8 method, as I find it to be the simplest and the easiest to stick to.

I pretty much naturally eat this way. I’m usually not very hungry in the morning, and don’t feel the desire to eat until about 1-2pm.

Then I eat my last meal somewhere between 8-9 pm, so I end up instinctively fasting for 16ish hours every day.

So if you’re trying to lose weight, or improve your health, or even just make your life more simple, why not give it a shot?

Should You Do the 80/20 Diet?

We can see why this diet is so popular. Instead of following a ‘clean’ diet every day, you’re encouraged to eat healthy 80% of the time. But is the 80/20 rule too good to be true? And will eating less-healthy foods 20% of the time sabotage your weight loss/muscle building efforts completely?

Is it healthy?

It sure can be. Following an 80/20 diet can help you maintain a balanced mindset about eating, some experts say. “Being healthy doesn’t require eating ‘perfectly’ – whatever that might be,” says Rachael Hartley, RD, a dietitian at Avocado A Day Nutrition LLC and co-founder of the Joyful Eating, Nourished Life program. “If 80% of your diet consists of nutritious whole foods, there’s room for the other 20% to come from fun foods without compromising health,” Hartley says.

Knowing you can occasionally indulge in an ice cream sundae or to-die-for Italian pasta meal will make you more motivated to stick to healthy habits at other times, notes Chicago-area dietitian Christine Palumbo, RDN.

The negatives

“We are notoriously terrible at counting calories, estimating portions, and assessing how much we really eat,” says Samantha Heller, RDN, author of The Only Cleanse and a SiriusXM radio host. “So it makes sense that we wouldn’t be very good at estimating what 20% of our diet is.”

It’s also important to consider how to categorize the foods that fall into that 20% category. Labeling chips or brownies as ‘bad’ can ultimately make you feel guilty about your choices, and that’s the exact opposite of what 80/20 is supposed to accomplish for you. The word ‘cheat’ “implies that healthy eating is punitive,” she points out.

Ultimately, know that periodically indulging has a place in every sane diet plan. “While the 20% may not be contributing much nutritiously, these foods can be nourishing in other ways,” says Hartley.

How to apply it

For the 80%, fill your plate with fresh, whole foods like veggies, fruit, whole grains, nuts, dairy, lean meats, and fish. Your 20% can be any foods you like, though it’s best to pick the foods you truly love most!

You can consider 80/20 a general guideline rather than a rule. Hartley is a big proponent of intuitive eating –
listening to what your body is telling you, feeding it nutritious foods a majority of the time, and following your intuition while indulging. She says that eating like this tends to naturally shake out to 80/20 without really overthinking it.

If you’ve tried 80/20 and find you go overboard with ‘cheat’ days or meals and you’re not seeing the results you desire, Palumbo recommends aiming for 90/10 instead. “Often 80/20 leaves too much leeway for indulgences, whereas 90/10 is pretty strict but does allow for a few,” she says. You can look forward to two freebie meals per week, and this method reduces the risk of overeating. “You can easily consume hundreds of calories in a few minutes, which can negate all of your hard work,” she says.

So ask yourself is this the diet for you? I sure think so…

How Many Days a Week Should You Workout?

Most people think, “the more I train, the faster I’ll gain.” Unfortunately, if you follow this methodology, you won’t progress very much. That’s because your gains in muscle size and strength come during recovery time.

Be sure to hit the weights hard 3-4 days per week, and try to never train more than two consecutive days in a row, if your schedule allows it.

On your off days, rest and recover/stretch. Try to avoid any intense physical activities that can interrupt your recovery process.

Follow every three weeks of hard training with one week of easy training (deload week). During the deload week I like to keep the weights on compound lifts (squat, bench, deadlift, pull-ups) heavy, and then cut the volume on accessories to about 50-75%. Keep in mind that deloading can be different for everyone. For instance, you could cut the weight to about 50-75% on compounds for a deload. I wouldn’t recommend that route because your strength gains will suffer from it.

As long as you’re cutting back your training in some way that week you should be fine in the grand scheme of things. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find out what works best for you!

Some Benefits of Practicing Gratitude

Something I started practicing this year is having more gratitude towards even the most trivial things. Because once you’re grateful for what you already have, everything else starts flowing. It’s something I’ve heard successful people preach, so I thought why not apply it to my life and see what happens? Since doing so things have changed and I only expect them to keep changing, but if not I’m grateful for what I already have. There’s no losing with this mindset. Below are the scientifically proven ways gratitude can benefit your life:

1: Opens the door to more relationships
2: Improves physical health
3: Improves psychological health
4: Enhances empathy and reduces aggression
5: Enhances quality of sleep
6: Improves self-esteem
7: Increases mental strength

The Slow Grind

I borrowed this phrase from one of my favorite NBA players, Isaiah Thomas. Isaiah is currently coming back from a hip injury and “the slow grind” is something he talks about constantly to keep him going. The slow grind is something I believe translates to anything in life. If you want something you can expect it to take time to manifest. Much more time than anyone would want it to, but when you fall in love with the process, that time in between is much more enjoyable. You end up getting lost in the journey. And then the journey ends up better than the destination you were trying to get to.

“Life is a journey, not a destination.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ways Meditation Can Improve Your Life

I just started reading Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferriss. In it he says how almost all of the 130 (successful) people he interviewed for the book had some form of meditation in their routine. So I thought why not make this the reason to start doing it again? Then I got thinking how else meditating benefit my life in other ways. Below is what I found…

1: Meditation reduces stress
2: Improves concentration
3: Encourages a healthy lifestyle
4: Increases self-awareness
5: Increases happiness
6: Increases acceptance
7: Slows aging
8: Benefits cardiovascular and immune health

How Often Should You Switch Your Rep Ranges Up?!

To start off, most of your training should be in the 3-15 rep range (in my opinion). I recommend keeping your compounds on the heavier (1-7 reps) side and your isolations on the lighter (7-20 reps) side.

How often should you switch up your rep ranges?
Some say every workout, some say every week, some bro’s may say never (8-12 only bro ;)). Now most of us know if you never switch up your reps you’ll eventually plateau, especially once you’re past the “newbie gains” stage. On the contrary, if you change up your reps every workout you’ll have a hard time progressing and building off any singular number. This is why I recommend sticking with a certain number of reps (high or low) for a month or two before switching it up.

The last couple months I was doing (roughly) 5 sets of 6 reps on tricep pushdowns. Now I’m doing 2-3 sets of 20+ reps. This is just one example of how much you should be varying your training, with accessories especially. Now for compounds I would recommend having one higher rep (4-7) and one lower rep (1-3) day a week. For me this is on my first and last training day. This way you’ll be progressing with two different loads at the same damn time. Since implementing this strategy I’ve seen massive amounts of gains in both strength and muscle mass! In fact, focusing on strength has been one of the best things for improving my physique.

Why Your Carry-On Should be the only Luggage You Bring on Your Next Trip

What’s so great about using a carry-on bag?
You can’t pack everything you want, but you can pack everything you need. My last trip to California is proof of this: I used a small backpack on a 14-day trip out West. I had to purchase a hoodie while I was there (to go up to the Eastern Sierra’s where it was snowing :)), but besides that I flipped between the same 4-5 outfits for the entire two weeks. Obviously in this scenario you will need a washer/dryer to make sure you don’t smell like complete shit lol.

It’s oftentimes FREE: Most airlines don’t charge for carry-on bags, while most do charge for checked bags – up to $40+ each way. I spent not much more than that ($50) for my flight from Chicago to LA!

You get in and out of the airport early: Using a carry-on bag means you don’t have to wait in line when you arrive at the airport to get the bag checked, plus you don’t have to hang around the baggage claim once you land!

You can’t lose your bag: The bag that travels by your side is the bag that cannot get lost or stolen. While it is true that airlines rarely lose a bag for very long, but who wants to start a vacation with that problem hanging over them?!

Back up to 185 Pounds!

I’m finally back up to 185 pounds! After being sick in January I was down to something as low as 170 pounds, which was the lightest I’ve been in years.

The combination of getting a coach with a strict workout regime and eating more calories/protein did the trick. Also, creatine helped me add a few pounds (read my last post on benefits of creatine).

Not very complicated at all. No tracking calories like I did obsessively in the past (not yet at least). No working out 6-7 days a week like I also did in the past. In fact, I’m only doing four full-body workouts a week and am feeling more athletic than I have in years.

Looking to get up to 190-195 before cutting. That’s when I’ll start tracking calories again and adding more cardio in. The key is to bulk up to a weight where you’re not too fat, but also not too skinny. This is the time where you’ll make a majority of your muscle gains. Once you’re at a level your uncomfortable with then you should cut and work on your body composition, without of course, losing too much muscle mass in the process.

There isn’t a certain amount of weight you should cut necessarily, but if you’re not competing there’s no sense in getting below 8% if you’re a male, and probably 12% if you’re a female. That’s just a guess though because females hold fat differently than males. That number could be up to 15% or more.

It’s going to be different for everyone so don’t worry about it. In my opinion your health and strength should take precedence over your body fat percentage 🙂