Early Morning Rituals

Why is it on some days it’s incredibly easy to wake up and others I need a team of experts, namely 3 different alarms, to get me motivated to get out of bed? I know on the days I am jumping out of bed, I’ve got something new and exciting to do that day. It may not be terribly different, but it’s new to me. These days are always so much more energy filled. The days that I’m dragging, though… it’s same ol’ same ol’. Maybe the answer to this problem is to make something fresh and new every day, but even though this is a great goal, it is unrealistic.

What I need to change is my approach to the day.

Creating a routine is really important to me. I enjoy a loose structure for most everything. What kind of routine do you use for your early morning wake up? Do you have a routine? I would bet money you do even though you may not realize it. Maybe that routine should be altered a tiny bit to allow you to have more energy to bounce out of bed with or maybe you just need to change your mindset. Either way, figure out what your routine is and then use that as a springboard to start building a morning that is easy for you because after all, you deserve to wake up happy.

And also as always don’t forget to check out my website www.rpgfitnessks.com


Common Push Exercises

Here’s a list of common gym exercises for a push day. Enjoy!



  • Push up in all variations
  • Bench Press
  • Flat DB Chest Fly
  • Incline DB Fly
  • Decline DB Fly
  • Incline Barbell Press
  • Decline Barbell Press
  • Machine Press



  • Arnold Press
  • Shoulder Press
  • Lateral Raises
  • Front Raise
  • Bent Over Delt Raise
  • Shoulder Shrugs
  • Cable Machine
    • Shoulder Press
    • Reverse Delt



  • Close Grip Bench Press
  • Dips
  • Tricep Extensions
  • Skull Crushers
  • Rope Pull Down
  • Rope Pull Over

How much protein should I eat?

close up of different food items on table

There are so many conflicting articles out there about this subject! Which one is right for you?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is a modest 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. The RDA is the amount of a nutrient you need to meet your basic nutritional requirements. In a sense, it’s the minimum amount you need to keep from getting sick — not the specific amount you are supposed to eat every day. – Harvard.edu

How do you figure out how much that is? Easy we can do some simple math to figure out how much you need to just not get sick.

First Multiply your weight by .453592. This will convert your weight from lbs to kgs. Then take that number and multiply it by .8. It is as simple as that. To not get sick your body needs this amount of protein to do basic repairs to your tissue.

Now for people who are active, it is recommended that you take in 1.3 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight! To top that if you are extremely active it is recommended that you take in 1.8 grams! This is from PopSugar.com. This is also to just maintain muscle mass.

On Bodybuilding.com, if you work in a sedentary job, but work out at a moderate level they recommend, for muscle gains, to consume approximately 2.3 grams per kg! That’s a ton of protein!!!! If you are even more active that number goes way up all the way to 2.8 grams. Here is the handy calculator I used on Bodybuilding.com.

Now before you start protesting that I’m insane, I want to remind you that we get protein from a variety of sources. It’s not just animal products that contain protein, grains like quinoa pack quite a bit of protein as well as the obvious nuts and beans.

My recommendation for how much protein to eat lines up with the studies used for my training with ASCM. I’ll include the pdf below.

To increase muscle mass in combination with physical activity, it is recommended that a person that lifts weights regularly or is training for a running or cycling event eat a range of 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, or 0.5 to 0.8 grams per pound of body weight. Consequently, the same 75 kilogram individual should increase their protein intake to 75 grams (300 calories) to 128 grams (512 calories) in order to gain muscle mass. This level of intake can generally be met through diet alone and without additional protein and amino acid supplementation.


Happy Exercising!



Heads up!

To anyone that follows me here on wordpress:

I will be transitioning soon to using my website as my primary blog. http://www.rpgfitnessks.com


Pinterest Fitness Challenges: The Good, The Bad, and The Don’t You Dare!

We’ve all seen them, the workout plans in magazines used to promise us the same thing. Toned Arms in 30 Days! Get a Great Butt This Month! Flat Abs Before Summer! The amazing thing about the internet is you don’t have to buy the magazine anymore to get your hands on all sorts of these plans. Pinterest, the internet’s premiere website for quotes, crafts, and fitness window shopping. (You know it’s true!) Don’t get me wrong, I love Pinterest and use it quite a bit myself, but what I’d like to warn you about are the quick fix snake oil like workout plans that promise you something with a picture of flat abs or a sexy body. NOT ALL WORKOUTS ARE EQUAL! And more importantly NOT ALL WORKOUTS WILL WORK FOR YOU! “But why, Marley? Isn’t the point of me working out  to get stronger and be able to do more?” Yes, but it’s at a pace that works for you. Don’t believe me? Check these out below.


This one isn’t too bad if you are physically able to do burpees to begin with. The major issue is the progression is going to be too fast for many people. 


What I love about the squats progression is it’s much more gentle in some ways, but this kind of progressive overload is still going to make things very difficult very quickly especially if you have knee issues.


This Burpee challenge is much better than the prior one. My issue with this one is it doesn’t have true rest days it haves you do 2 burpees on your “day off” instead of really resting. 








Anatomy of a Muscle


Time to talk about what a muscle is and how it functions. If you really really hate reading medical definitions relax, I’m putting some of these in simpler terms so it doesn’t sound so crazy. After defining all the major players in the muscle, I will go over how muscles repair/rebuild themselves to be bigger and stronger.

  • Epimysium: The sheath of connective tissue around the skeletal muscle. Think of it as the pantyhose holding everything together.
  • Perimysium: The connective tissue surrounding the muscle fibers inside of the Epimysium. Functionally, this works as if building insulation was super flexible.
  • Though not large in number the blood vessels deliver the nutrients and oxygen to the muscle cells.
  • Muscle Fascicle: This is a bundle of Muscle Fibers you surrounded by the Perimysium.
  • Endomysium: The tiny connective tissue surrounding the individual Muscle Fibers. (Myocyte)
  • Myocyte: A myocyte (also known as a muscle cell) is the type of cell found in muscle tissue. Myocytes are long, tubular cells that develop from myoblasts to form muscles in a process known as myogenesis. There are various specialized forms of myocytes: cardiac, skeletal, and smooth muscle cells, with various properties.

Alright, now that the basic definitions are finished we are going to talk about where the magic happens.

Once the muscle has matured, these progenitors will enter quiescence and henceforth reside within in it as satellite cells. Adult skeletal muscle, like all renewing organs, relies on a mechanism that compensates for the turnover of terminally differentiated cells to maintain tissue homeostasis (Schmalbruch and Lewis 2000; Pellettieri and Sanchez Alvarado 2007). This type of myogenesis depends on the activation of satellite cells that have the potential to differentiate into new fibers (Charge and Rudnicki 2004). The most comprehensively studied form of myogenesis takes place when mature muscle is damaged and large cohorts of satellite cells expand mitotically and differentiate to repair the tissue and reestablish homeostasis (Rudnicki et al. 2008). – Building Muscle: Molecular Regulation of Myogenesis 

Now to break this down.

We have a certain amount of muscle cells (fibers) in our body at any point in time. Alongside these cells, we have something called Satellite Cells. These cells are somewhat “potential” muscle fibers waiting to happen. We have these cells for when our current cells bite the dust (yes, your cells are constantly dying, gaining defects, or various other things) they are able to replace these cells keeping our number of muscle fibers at a happy amount for us individually. Aka, we have just the amount of muscle cells that we need to maintain our abilities for what type of work we usually do.

How does lifting affect this?

In essence, a biological effort to repair or replace damaged muscle fibers begins with the satellite cells fusing together and to the muscles fibers, often leading to increases in muscle fiber cross-sectional area or hypertrophy. The satellite cells have only one nucleus and can replicate by dividing. As the satellite cells multiply, some remain as organelles on the muscle fiber where as the majority differentiate (the process cells undergo as they mature into normal cells) and fuse to muscle fibers to form new muscle protein stands (or myofibrils) and/or repair damaged fibers. Thus, the muscle cells’ myofibrils will increase in thickness and number. – How Muscles Grow

When you lift weights you create micro-tears in the muscle fibers rendering them injured. This activates the Satellite cells. The Satellite cells fuse together with each other and the injured muscle fiber essentially fixing or replacing the damaged muscle fiber. “But, wouldn’t we run out of satellite cells?” Nope, they are one of the types of cells in our body that can replicate (that’s a whole other science talk, think of identical twins, one egg splits into two type of thing). So, where were we… oh yes, since the muscle fibers have now been reinforced with the satellite cells it is larger and this my friends is what we call Hypertrophy. The enlarging of the muscle by weight lifting (most often).

“But, I’m a girl and don’t want to get big muscles.”


Don’t worry ladies, you won’t there are many other chemical things that have to happen for you to get hulk sized muscle, including having a high amount of testosterone. We, except for an incredibly small amount of women, have 15 times less testosterone than men. So, don’t freak out about lifting heavy, you won’t bulk like that.

Be like the Rock, build muscle without adding fat.

I was online with the Focused Fire Team crew (shout out to my buddies there) and one of the hosts Justinsane0516 started asking me about fitness and how to gain weight. Seeing as I hadn’t actually done any articles about this I figured it would be a good time to start.

The Most Important Parts Of Building Muscle

Eight words: Eat quality food. Increase your protein. Train hard.

Those rules may seem obvious, but here’s the catch: the order they’re in matters. The fact that I stay lean eating sometimes more than 5,000 calories each day surprises people. But, the more muscle you have, the more you have to feed. The key is feeding your muscles consistently with high-quality fuel.

So what do my macros look like, you ask? As an economics major, you’d better believe I can tell you the numbers. But I’d prefer to tell you the priorities, because the way they break down for everyone is going to be different. Here are the three guiding principles that determine what goes on my plate: Balance meals around lean protein, Include nutrient-rich, low-glycemic carbs, Enjoy generous portions of healthy fats.

How to build muscle without adding fat. Bodybuilding.com Article by Hunter Labrada

Now I know what you are going to say, but I don’t want to look like a bodybuilder or maybe you do. My point is this the majority of your physique challenges has less to do with your calories consumed. It has everything to do with first and foremost the QUALITY of your food. If you 1000s of calories of crap your body will react like it’s crap. If you fuel yourself steadily (notice the new word, steadily) with good foods then you will begin to grow in strength. You still will need to workout (that’s what causes the stimulation for growth). Wait a minute…..

Let’s go into how the muscle actually grows/ gets stronger. There are two ways that we gain strength one) by neurologically becoming more efficient at the exercises and two) by breaking down the muscle through heavy lifting to create hypertrophy.

Type one: Neurological Efficiency

This can best be explained by the learning how to write analogy. When you were first learning how to write you were clumsy and didn’t write a lot. No dissertations at the age of 5. But, as you became more and more adept at writing your teacher would have you write more and more. “Practice makes perfect” remember? It’s this same idea the reason why we don’t continue to grip a pencil like it’s going to slide out of our hand if we move incorrectly is because of neurologically becoming more efficient. Our muscles know when to fire at the correct time to write our name and anything else we may want. It just takes practice.

 Type Two: Muscular Strength

Muscular strength is created by making small micro-tears in the muscle. Yep, you are creating tiny injuries to force your body to rebuild stronger. Now this is a process. It doesn’t just happen by hurting yourself, that is not what I’m saying. The process goes like this: Create micro tears (by lifting nearly outside your limit), refuel the muscles (I’ll say why later), rest (oh thank god), then repeat. That’s it. Most people understand the workout and rest part of working out. Those are intuitive. “I lift heavy, therefore I’m sore, thus I must rest.” We get that. The key to actually gaining muscle is the second part of the process. Refueling. Anytime you are injured your body has to repair cells, this takes energy and more importantly certain chemicals (that’s a different blog post) to repair itself. If the body doesn’t have these things it takes one) longer to repair itself and two) it will take from other areas to repair itself.

Ok, I can go into more depth of that later, but for now, you’ve got the gist. Back to eating QUALITY, did I mention it has to be QUALITY, food. But first a word from our….

When a nerve impulse triggers a biochemical reaction within a muscle, Myosin molecules in thick muscle filaments stick to Actin molecules in thin muscle filaments and lock, pulling thick and thin muscle filaments together. When thousands of Myosin and Actin molecules lock and pull muscle filaments together, muscle is moved. Myosin does not release Actin until another molecule, a catalyst, comes along and grabs the Myosin molecules, forcing them to release Actin molecules. This catalyst is called Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). Bodies make ATP using oxygen. Not only is oxygen important for nourishing cells in the body, oxygen is also responsible for muscle movement. In order for muscles to be built, the body needs protein. Protein is made of amino acids, so without protein and amino acids, the body could not build, repair, or even maintain muscle tissue. Protein also contains oxygen, nitrogen, carbon and hydrogen. Having enough protein will put the body into an anabolic state, which allows the body to build muscle, and give it the oxygen it needs to move. When protein is eaten, hydrochloric acid from the stomach breaks it down into simpler forms, which the body has an easier time digesting. When muscles are strained, they rip a little bit. The broken down protein is then sent to the ripped muscle(s) and fills in the rips. The filling in of the rips causes the muscles to get bigger.

…nevermind. Ok so like the excerpt from chemistry is life says, you need amino acids, well more simply, protein. You need protein to repair the muscle.

Now you don’t eat only protein that will put your body into a ketonic state and that’s another article in the making. You need to have healthy carbs (not sugar) preferably low glycemic to provide energy. We can go into carbs and how the body uses them later…. man I’m getting a lot of article ideas from this. Then finally healthy fats, yes fats, to help keep the neurological system healthy. (all the articles)

Looks like I’m going to be busy for the next few weeks putting those articles together, but with this, I’ve got a decent start.

How to Speed Up Your Metabolism for Easier Weight Loss (Article)

There are so many people who are confused about how the body processes food and how they can lose weight. They think the whole “eat less and move more” mentality is the way to go. Calories in vs calories out. The following Article is from muscleforlife.com written by Michael Matthews called “How to Speed Up Your Metabolism for Easier Weight Loss”.




But how does that explain the women that come to me at 140, 150, or 160+ pounds, eating 1,300 calories per day, exercising 6 – 7 hours per week…without losing weight?

According to standard calculations, such women should be burning upwards of 2,000 calories per day. So how the hell can they be eating so little without losing fat? And what should they do? Should they suck it up and eat even less? Push through another hour or two of grueling exercise each week? Or is something else needed?

Well, in this article I’m going to break it all down and show you why preserving your metabolic health is the key to consistent, pain-free weight loss.

So let’s start at the beginning: what the hell does metabolism even mean?

The Metabolism Made Simple

how to speed up your metabolism naturally and lose weight

The dictionary defines metabolism in the following way:

The chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life.

Two kinds of metabolism are often distinguished: constructive metabolism, or anabolism, the synthesis of the proteins, carbohydrates, and fats that form tissue and store energy; and destructive metabolism, or catabolism, the breakdown of complex substances and the consequent production of energy and waste matter.

In short, when we speak of the metabolism, we speak of the body’s ability to use various chemical processes to produce, maintain, and break down various substances, and to make energy available for cells to use.

As you can imagine, this is an incredibly complex subject as it encompasses the entire set of processes whereby life is sustained, so let’s hone in on the aspect of it most relevant to this article: metabolic speed.

Now, what does it mean to have a “slow” or “fast” metabolism?

Well, such distinctions are referring to what is known as the body’s metabolic rate, which is simply the amount of energy the body uses to perform the many functions involved in metabolism.

Basal metabolic rate excludes physical activity, and we often measure it in terms of calories. (One calorie, or kilocalorie as it’s technically known, is the amount of heat required to heat one kilogram of water one degree Celsius)

The faster one’s metabolism is, the more energy the body burns in performing the many tasks related to staying alive. The slower it is, the less energy it burns performing these tasks.

In a funny sense, a slower metabolism is actually more “efficient” than a faster one because it requires less energy to maintain life. (This doesn’t mean a slow metabolism is good.)

Now, the body’s metabolic rate is influenced by various factors such as age, fat mass, fat-free mass, and thyroid hormone circulation, but some people’s bodies also naturally just burn more energy than others’.

For instance, one study reported basal metabolic rates from as low as 1,027 calories per day to as high as 2,499 calories per day, with a mean BMR of 1,500 calories per day. Much of this variance was due to different levels of fat-free mass and fat mass, age, and experimental error, but a significant portion (about 27%) of the variance was unexplained.

Another study demonstrated that basal metabolic rates can vary between people with nearly identical levels of lean mass and fat mass. Researchers found that despite their subjects all having comparable body compositions, the top 5% BMRs metabolized energy about 30% faster than the lowest 5%.

Alright, so that’s what the metabolism is and how it works. Let’s relate it to weight loss.

How Your Metabolism Affects Your Ability to Lose Weight

how to speed up your metabolism naturally

As you probably know, you lose fat by feeding your body less energy than it burns every day. Your body deals with this energy deficit, or calorie deficit, by tapping into fat stores to get the energy it needs (that it isn’t getting from the food you eat).

From where are most of these energy demands coming from, though? That’s right, the metabolism.

For instance, a 180-pound man with 10% body fat and a healthy metabolism has a basal metabolic rate of about 2,000 calories per day. Through regular exercise and other activity, total daily energy expenditure could increase to about 2,800 calories per day.

Well, as we can see, about 70% of an in-shape, active man’s total daily energy expenditure still comes from the metabolism.

This is why preserving metabolic health is so important when it comes to weight loss. When you reduce your calorie intake to induce weight loss, you’re counting mainly on your metabolism to keep humming along, pulling from fat stores. Sure, you use exercise to increase overall energy demands and thus fat loss, but your metabolism is a major player in the game.

The slower your metabolism is, the less food you’ll have to eat and the more exercise you’ll have to do to lose weight effectively.  The faster it is, the more you’ll be able to eat and the less you’ll have to exercise.

The Surefire Way to Slow Your Metabolism to a Crawl and Get Fat

how to ruin your metabolism

Most people know that losing weight requires eating less food than they’re currently eating and moving more, and most people want to lose weight as quickly as possible.

What do many people do, then? Well, they dramatically reduce calorie intake and dramatically increase energy output (through many hours of exercise each week). And while this approach will induce weight loss for a bit, it will ultimately fail. Why?

Because your metabolism adapts to the amount of energy you feed your body. Its goal is to balance energy intake with output–to maintain homeostasis.

When you restrict your calories and feed your body less energy than it burns, your metabolism naturally begins slowing down (burning less energy). The more you restrict your calories, the faster and greater the down-regulation.

The opposite is true as well, by the way. As you feed your body more, your metabolism will naturally speed up (burn more energy).

Now, when someone dramatically decreases calorie intake and their metabolism finally slows down enough to match intake with output, weight loss stalls. This is usually met with further calorie reduction or more exercise, which only results in more metabolic slowdown, and thus a vicious cycle begins.

In most cases, the dieter finally can’t take the misery anymore, and goes in the other direction, dramatically increasing calorie intake (bingeing and gorging on everything in sight for days or weeks). This, in turn, has been shown to result in rapid fat storage, often beyond the pre-diet body fat levels (people end up fatter than when they started dieting in the first place).

What’s going on here is very simple: these people have systematically crashed their metabolic rates and then overloaded their bodies with way more calories than they needed, and the body’s response to this is to store much of the excess energy as fat.

Ultimately what happens is the person winds up fatter than they started, and with a slower metabolism. If they repeat this cycle a few times, they can find themselves in a really bad place metabolically: eating very little food to maintain a high body fat percentage.

This process of dramatically and chronically slowing the metabolic rate down is often referred to as “metabolic damage,” and fortunately, it can be resolved.

How to Speed Up Your Metabolism for Easier Weight Loss

how to increase metabolism

Your metabolic health is going to determine how effectively you can lose weight, so here’s the bottom line:

If you want smooth and consistent weight loss, you want your metabolism to be running quickly before you start.

As the metabolism adapts to food intake, you want your weight to be stable with a high amount of daily calories before you start restricting them for weight loss purposes.

Ideally, you should be eating at least your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) without gaining weight before you start a weight loss routine.

Here’s a simple calculator that will help you determine your TDEE:

Imperial (lbs.)   Metric (kgs.)  
Body Fat Percentage(Click here to learn how to measure.)
Activity Level < 1 hour exercise per week
1-3 hours exercise per week
4-6 hours exercise per week
6+ hours exercise per week
Activity Multiplier

If you’re not currently there–if you’re eating quite a bit less than your TDEE and your weight is not moving, you need to improve your metabolism before you attempt a weight loss routine.

Fortunately, this is easy to do if you remain patient. Here’s how it’s done:

1. Engage in heavy resistance training (weightlifting, ideally) 3 – 5 times per week.

This has two big benefits for your metabolic rate: it speeds it up in the short term, burning a significant amount of post-workout calories; and it builds muscle, which speeds up your metabolic rate in the long term.

My Bigger Leaner Stronger and Thinner Leaner Stronger programs are built around heavy, compound weightlifting, and are perfect for repairing metabolic health.

2. Slowly increase your calories each week until you’ve reached your target intake (your TDEE).

In the bodybuilding world, this is known as “reverse dieting,” and it’s a very simple but effective way to speed up your metabolism.

Instead of dramatically increasing your calorie intake, you want to work it up slowly, allowing your metabolism to keep up and match output with intake (resulting in little-to-no fat storage).

I like to increase in increments of about 100 – 150 calories with 7 – 10-day intervals. That is, you increase your daily intake by 100 – 150 maintain that new level of intake for 7 – 10 days. You then do it again  and again and again until you’ve reached your TDEE.

3. Eat plenty of protein.

A high-protein diet is important because it will promote muscle growth, which is what we want to achieve with step #1.

I recommend that you eat 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight when you’re working on speeding up your metabolism.

4. Eat a moderate amount of dietary fat.

While I’m generally not a fan of high-fat dieting for athletes (and I explain why here), I do recommend eating a fair amount of dietary fat every day when you’re working on improving metabolic health.

The reason why is it boosts testosterone production (albeit slightly), which in turn speeds up metabolic rate. It’s a relatively minor point, but every little bit helps.

I recommend that you get 30 – 35% of your daily calories from dietary fat when you’re working on speeding up your metabolism.

A Healthy Metabolism Allows for Healthy Weight Loss

how to increase metabolism to lose weight

When your metabolism is healthy–when you’re able to eat plenty of food every day without gaining weight–weight loss is very easy.

As discussed in my article on meal planning, you will simply utilize about a 20% calorie deficit with 4 – 6 hours of exercise per week (a combination of weightliftingand high-intensity interval cardio works best), and it will be easy, effective, and enjoyable.

Yes, your metabolism will slow down, but not by much. This approach will give you at least a good 2 – 3 month window in which you can lose plenty of fat while potentially even building muscle.

And if, over time, your metabolism slows down too much but you haven’t hit your body fat percentage goal yet, you simply take the above steps to speed your metabolism back up, and then move back to weight loss.