Q and A Nov 16th, 2012

pull up tips

Question: I need to drop a few pounds if I ever want to be able to do sets of pull ups. I’m toying with the idea of a no carb diet. What are your thoughts on this?

Answer: I may have mentioned before that I never felt so stupid in my entire life as  when I decided to try a ‘no carb’ diet. It’s not like I wanted to lose a ton of weight, but I felt that if I was going to comment intelligently on the value of specific diet plans, I should at least experience them. Well, I hated the ‘no carb’ plan and have since learned that there are MUCH better ways to get lean.

In fact, you can actually use carbs to your advantage. If you match the right carbs strategically with your the TYPE of workout you do each day, you’ll actually speed up your fat burning results. This goes way beyond the well known idea that you should “eat carbs after your workout.” You need to take it a step further and define what types of carbs, if any, you should be eating depending on the workouts you do on any given day.

You see, carbohydrates are a double edged sword. Use the wrong ones at the wrong time and you’ll mess up your metabolism, bringing your fat loss to a screeching halt. You really need to know what you’re doing.

It all comes down to the key hormone for weight loss:


Insulin is a bit like your body’s own personal Fedex. It picks up packages—nutrients like protein, carbs and fat—and delivers them to your cells. You NEED insulin to live, thrive and perform at your best. But when the system gets out of whack, you’re in trouble. Packages start getting delivered to all the wrong places.

You start storing more energy as fat because you’ve become “insulin resistant” and your lean tissues aren’t answering the door anymore when the delivery guy comes calling.

Both diet and exercise have a powerful influence on how insulin acts in your body. When you learn to synchronize the carbohydrates in your diet with the type of workout you’re performing that day, you can easily double your fat loss potential.

And THAT is the trap of excessively low carb diets. They deprive those calorie-burning lean muscle tissues of fuel. You may lose fat in the short term, but that fat loss quickly plateaus because you no longer have fuel for the lean muscle tissue that’s needed to keep your metabolism running at a high enough rate.

It’s a vicious cycle that leads to low energy, loss of lean muscle, and a body that looks sickly, deflated and unattractive.

There’s an easy fix. The secret is to strategically synchronize your carb intake with your workouts. Here are 3 key principles that you should follow:

1. Match resistance training days with moderate carbs

Whether you’re lifting weights or using bodyweight training, make sure you feed your muscles on resistance training days. Your insulin sensitivity will be increased, so you’ll store most of the extra carbs in your muscles, priming your metabolic machinery for faster fat burning.

Stick to carbs that are absorbed at a moderate rate. Things like fruits, yogurt, cooked squash and cooked beats are all great choices.

2. Stick to low carbs on “cardio” days

Cardio can take the form of both interval training or conventional “slow” cardio. Your goal on these days is to accelerate fat loss, so stick to a low carb diet. Quality protein is your base. Add loads of veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, cabbage, cucumber, and other greens. And make sure you include some good fats for energy, especially if you choose lean meats.

3. Give yourself one high carb day each week

Remember how I talked about using a cheat meal to moderate leptin levels to help with your fat loss? (Check it out here.)  Well, I believe regular days of carb replenishment will accelerate your fat loss. You’ll bring your leptin levels up to baseline, you’ll refuel your muscles, and you’ll give yourself a well deserved psychological break.

Ideally, stick to whole food carb sources like sweet potatoes, rice, quinoa, bananas and sprouted grain breads. A lot of people have trouble with gluten without even knowing it, so you may want to steer clear of wheat products.

Follow these guidelines, and you’ll be feeding carbs to your muscles exactly when they need it. You’ll also switch on your cellular fat burning furnace by depriving your body of carbs at precisely the right times.

Do you want a detailed 12 week plan that synchs carb intake to workouts with laser precision?

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As you can see, carbs are not the enemy. In fact, they’re a powerful ally—IF you use them correctly. Make sure you check out Adam’s strategic system for synching carbs with your workouts.

Doing this could DOUBLE your safe and healthy fatloss results.


Question: I am excited about being on the way now to hopefully accomplish my first pull up soon. Although I’ve played different sports all my life and I can do 2-3 chin ups without ever having trained for it especially, I have never mastered the pull up. Thank you for the workout program!

I started today and noticed that my left arm&shoulder are much weaker than the right. Especially during the DB rows and the DB shoulder press the difference was almost a bit shocking. I could do for example 3×10 DB rows with 7.5kg so well, that I think I could try with 10kg next time, however, on the left side I couldn’t even finish the first set with proper form. When I did the controlled descent on the pull up bar, my left shoulder rolled a little forward so that I came down slightly twisted to the left. It felt as if the front deltoid tried to help out the rest of the shoulder.

Could you give me some tips how I can overcome the imbalance best? Many thanks for your help.

Answer: Maria, It seems you’re dealing with muscle imbalances that are difficult to address in an email. I’d seek professional advice if you’re experiencing pain that isn’t muscular. If you feel your pain is just muscular, then you need to press on and here’s how:

  • do more single limb exercises when possible
  • this may mean switching my program slightly so that you’re using 2 db’s instead of a bar for rowing, pressing etc.

for single limb exercises:

  • Do as much as you can on the weak side first. This is when you are fresh and able to keep your best form.
  • Follow up with work on the strong side (use the same weight as the weak)
  • Do a few extra reps of lighter reps to finish on the weak side.

For exercises that use both limbs:

  • do your best to maintain your best form through the reps
  • stop when you feel the weak side start to fail
  • don’t push thru by helping more with the strong side, this will create further muscle imbalances
  • rest if the soreness is excess and come back to train in a day when you’re fully recovered

Muscle imbalances will correct themselves in time. Always maintain the best of form, your strong side will just have to wait a bit for the weak side to catch up.

Try using straps with pulling exercises to help with the grip.

I do foam rolling to ease muscle soreness, here’s a quick video explanation:

I hope that helps. Thanks for the question and good luck.


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