Doing what I do, a lot of people ask me about what I think about the above TV show.
The last time this occurred was during my lecture at NYU. I usually then go on a 45 minute rant, which leaves people intimidated and confused. So, after some calming breathing exercises, I will try to break down my take on TBL in a somewhat more organized manner.
The premise of TBL sounds great, after all we shall help clinically obese people making a positive life change. Fantastic, let's take a look as to what really occurs.
A bunch of inactive and overweight contestants are carted off to a remote location, where they are subject to a rigorous diet and exercise program in order to win 250k $ . After several weeks hundreds of pounds are lost, people are ecstatic and have found eternal happiness. So what is not to like?
To be bold: TBL is a scam. There, I said it.
Problem 1: The trainers on TBL are less than qualified to oversee a training program (when in doubt, just watch Jilian Micheals kettle bell videos). Anna Kournikowa might be fun to look at , but she has zero background as a coach or nutritionist.
A weight loss program (involving humans, mind you) should not be misused as a career relaunch for C-list celebrities.

Problem 2: The environment is artificial, the contestants work out 4 hours a day while being on a very restrictive diet. It is essentially a POW camp. How is that sustainable once they are back in their day jobs?

Problem 3: Almost all of the contestants gain the weight back, since they lost it in an unsustainable way. In short: the time frame is too short to lose that much weight. Therefore, the metabolism gets destroyed (thyroid shut down) due to overdieting, mostly muscle is lost, all this setting the stage for a monster rebound.
We shall do the math on this one: Very often, constants lose up to 15 lbs a week. If we were to assume that all of this is all body fat, the contestant would need to rack up a caloric deficit of 60 000 calories per week or 8 700 calories per day. Now, assuming that the basic metabolic rate of most people is around 1500-2000 calories, one can conclude that there is no way to burn that many calories.
The answer: It was mainly muscle mass that was lost. Sad.

Problem 4: The show is dehumanizing. Obese people have often suffered a traumatic experience earlier in their lives and should receive the following:
1. proper therapy or counseling to find out what is triggering their food addiction.
2. coaching by people who actually do this for a living (maybe even have a certification!) and care for their clients, not just for a pay check and internet fame.
3. medical supervision by qualified individuals, who administer  blood work  in order to determine hormonal imbalances and treat those if needed.
They should NOT be paraded around like circus animals.

Problem 5: TBL makes fitness looks like a chore, like something unattainable where you have to commit 4 or more hours a day of training and only get to eat salad. Seeing this turns people off from working out, thereby laying the ground work for further unhappiness.
In order to be successful in achieving fitness, one has to take a more holistic approach and not just simply focus on pounds of lard lost.
Fitness is a beautiful and rewarding life style, and should not be milked for ratings. If you want to do a TV show on fitness, how about a myth busting show that is actually informative?
Rant end.

With the Superbowl upon us, the media feels that we need to be entertained at all costs, even if that means to do absolutely no research anymore.
Case in point: the so-called deer antler spray scandal, supposedly involving Ray Lewis and other well-known athletes.
What is the scoop? According to several news outlets, these athletes used deer antler spray (yes, you heard that right) in order to obtain a dose of igf-1 and therefore perform better. Another PED story in professional sports, so it must be true, right?
After all it was on TV and has Homer Simpson said :TV never lies"
Let's take a closer look at all this. First off, what is igf-1 or insulin like growth factor? In short, it is a very powerful peptide hormone, consisting of a long string of amino acids.
In rats, the substance has shown to increase muscle mass (even cause hyperplasia i e the creation of new muscle cells) and to decrease adipose tissue or body fat.
But before you go out and start chewing on some random deer in order to get huge and ripped like our bushy-tailed friend in the picture, consider this: most humans do not have any rats in their family tree (what you think of your cousin has no bearing here for the moment). So what works in animals doesn't have to work for humans.
Furthermore, IGF-1 is  a very fragile substance that can not be dropped or shaken without losing its potency. It also needs to stay stored in the fridge. I highly doubt that the makers of deer antler spray follow these guidelines.
Lastly, and most importantly, IGF-1 only works via intramuscular injection, so a spray or topical cream are just a waste of money.
ESPN and others could have found all this out within a click of the mouse, but I guess the story was to tempting.
There you have it, another myth busted.
Go Ravens

On Saturday, 12 long weeks of strict dieting came to an end for Davis - he was about to compete in his first natural bodybuilding show. This entailed a very long day. We got there around 8 am and stayed until 9 pm, since it was a very big and competitive show. Davis looked full and muscular in the morning and his condition improved during the day. He ended up taking 5th in a very tough class.
Way to go!
Next post will be why kettlebells are stupid, so stay tuned.

This is a question that most people never really ask themselves while they motion through their workouts. But it is certainly worth to take a minute and reflect. Is it a sport? Hard to say, since you are just presenting a physique onstage, without any athletic elements.
Is it an art form? Closer, with the piece of art being you.
But most of all its a way of life. Once you have been sucked into the vortex of trainig, eating, and recovering, you realize that is indeed a life style. Here is one of my favorite lines is from Fort Minor "Remember the name":
"This is ten percent luck, twenty percent skill,
Fifteen percent concentrated power of will,
Five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain,
and a hundred percent reason to remember the name"
I believe this sums it up rather well; please note the fifty percent pain part. Bodybuilding is certainly not an easy endeavor, but rewarding in the end. Or as my training partner used to say: "I bodybuild, because you cannot do it!"
Stick with it

Bodybuilding can be a rather grueling enterprise. You slave away for weeks and months and nothing happens, no muscle gain, no fat loss nothing.  All this despite eating chicken and rice, meanwhile your buddies are eating chicken wings,burgers and beer and are having the time of their lives (or so it seems).
What to do? Quit? Sure that is an option, but as Alec Baldwin said in "Glengary Glenross" : " And one day, you will be sitting in a bar, saying I used to be a salesman; it's a tough racket."
Do you want to be the guy who says: I used to workout?
Hell no!!!
First rule: if you do not make progress, something is off. Training, diet, sleep. One of these three is not working. Go back to the drawing board and find out what it is. Maybe you need to eat more carbs or less fat, sleep an extra hour. Whatever it is, find it.
Rule number two: its the journey that matters. Building a great physique takes years, despite what the supplement companies tell you. So you will not see daily changes in the mirror. But you should feel accomplished after workouts, embrace the foods you are eating and be proud to part of the brother (and sister-)hood of iron. The peolpe you meet, the personal bests you set and the fact that you are capable of having the discipline of sticking with it is what separates bodybuilders from the rest.
See you in the gym!