Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Kettlebell workouts: Are they effective?

Although kettlebells have been around forever, it's only been the past few years where they've really become the latest fad in the fitness world. I've never thought throwing weight around quickly is the smartest thing in the world and with most kettlebell programs that's exactly what is done. Most kettlebell exercises are done fast and create force and unnecessary pressure on joints.
Kettlebells have around

My opinion is that kettlebell exercises if done smoothly could possibly be used for a warm up or conditioning.  Even in that respect, there are much better alternatives.  Kettlebell exercises serve little purpose as it relates to strength and muscle gain.  While designing a workout program, use the highest form of technology available.  Kettlebells are a "horse and buggy" era technology.

Here's an article that finally examines the kettlebell workout fad:


Monday, April 30, 2012

As America's waistline expands, costs soar!

This article below is particularly troublesome. Today more than ever we know the healthy avenues to take and it seems that the problem is getting worse. I think that a proper weight training program is a great place to start with getting healthy. Muscle drives our metabolism and the more muscle we build, the more calories you'll burn at rest. The obesity problem will affect my industry in that we are going to start working more with insurance companies to help with preventative measures.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Do exercises in the gym transfer skill to the field?

No Sports Specific training here!
While watching the golf tournament this past weekend I saw a commercial where one of the golfers was swinging a medicine ball as if it were a golf club. I couldn't help but say..."Oh geez, now I get to see every Pro and wannabe at the gym swinging medicine balls as if they were golf clubs"! I guess it's only natural to think an exercise that mimics the sport, in this case golf, would help you improve your game. The bigger question is, does skill in the gym transfer to skill on the playing field?

In my experience, "sports specific" exercises like the ones described above actually do more harm than good. The more specific the exercise is to the sport, the more damage you're going to do to your skill. There's a process called motor learning, this is where your brain and body work together to perform a skill. This could be swinging a golf club, shooting a basketball or throwing a football etc. There are very precise motor learning patterns that are involved. If you're not using the exact tool for the job, the body doesn't use the same muscles as it would during your sport.

Bottom line: If you want to improve your game through weight training, build strength and size in the muscles used in your sport by doing high intensity strength training.  Keep in mind safety first, use the highest technology in equipment second, and highest quality of coaching third.  Then go and practice your skill for the sport you play.  Anything else is just a waste of time!

Monday, April 9, 2012


The official twitter account of Blake Howe, National Fitness Director of Dick Butkus Play Clean. Follow @FitLike51

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Best Back Routine Ever Butkus Style

This back sequence uses the pre-fatigue technique which is going to fatigue the bigger muscles of the back with minimal work from your biceps.   99% of all back exercises involve the biceps. When you do a pull up, row, pulldowns etc. you'll never get even close to working the large back muscles as hard as they can because the bicep will always give out first because it's a much smaller/weaker muscle. Here are the exercises, follow in this exact sequence:

1.  Nautilus Pullovers 1x20
2.  Reverse Close-Grip Pulldowns 1x10
3.  Barbell Bent Over Rows 1x15

Basically you want to perform the Pullovers until failure and then immediately go to the reverse grip pulldowns to failure and then immediately go to Bent Over Barbell Rows to failure. As always, shoot for the required reps but never stop just because you got there.  Keep going until you can't move the bar no matter how hard you're trying. Do each reps very slow, smooth, and controlled taking approximately 3 seconds to lift the weight, pause in the contracted position, and then 3 seconds to lower the weight. If you don't feel extreme muscle pump and pain, you didn't even come close to doing this sequence right. Work this back sequence into your workout program for a few weeks and you'll see dramatic results!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Are you born with Athletic Explosivness?

Bukus high hurdle 1969
Yes, you are born with an ability to activate muscles explosively.  This cannot be changed by any "speed training" or "explosive" exercise program. There aren't any exercises that increase your explosive power.  This is dictated by what your were born with (genetics) and can't be changed.  If you weight train by moving the weights as fast as possible, this does not increase explosiveness just a greater chance of a severe injury.

Some people have very fast reaction times, some people can activate are large percentage of their muscles, and some people can have very fast reaction times AND activate a large percentage of their muscles. Combine that with great body proportions for your sport and you have a beast like Dick Butkus.

You might be asking then "Why are athletes today so much more athletic and explosive?"  It's because they have a lot more muscle mass than athletes of the past.  Adding muscle to your natural ability will just increase that explosive potential that you were born with. If you took any athlete from the past and packed on 20 or 30lbs of muscle on them, they will just as explosive of any athlete of today.

What's this all mean?  It means don't waste your time with silly exercise programs that claim to increase your explosiveness.  It's gonna do much more harm than good because of the wear and tear on your muscles and joints.  Your time is better spent working out properly to get stronger muscles and then working on your skill level of the sport you play.

Friday, March 2, 2012

3 Stretches to relieve Low Back Pain

Over 80% of Americans have or will have low back pain at some point in our lives.  It could be a sports injury, having weak low back muscles and lifting something around the house, or because you have tight muscles and bad posture from sitting at your job all day.  Here are some great stretches that really make an impact on relieving low back pain and preventing it from happening again.  Do these at least three times a week,  2 sets of each and holding for 30 seconds.
Hamstrings: Ease into this stretch, this muscle has a tendency to be very tight!

Hip Flexors: Has a huge impact on lower back pressure.
Lats: The biggest muscle in your back has a profound effect on Low Back Pain.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Don't waste your TIME!

With so many things going on in our lives these days, there's one commodity that nobody can afford to waste...TIME.  If you just focused your workouts on exercises that gave you the best results, you'll save yourself years of little or no results in building muscle or losing fat.

If you restricted your exercise selection to squats, leg press, standing press-behind-neck, standing military press, regular grip chins, barbell rowing, bench press, parallel bar dips, still-legged deadlifts, deadlifts, standing barbell curls, dumbell curls, standing tricep extensions, standing one-legged calf raises you have fifteen exercises to pick from.  Now add the option of two sets - lighten the second set, increase the second set or use the same resistance for the second set you now have thirty variables, now change your exercise selection once a week and you have even more variety.

To start, do 2 sets of eight of the above exercises 3x's per week.  Shoot for 10 reps for the upper body and 20 reps for the lower body exercises.  As always never stop just because you performed the desired reps, keep going until you can't move the weight at all.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Extra Strength: The Most Important Hire A College Football Head Coach Can Make

I agree with the article, an athletes strength coach is probably one of the most influential people their life. "They'res father figures, counselors, motivators, educators and trainers" states the article. It's been my experience that clients and athletes alike become very close with their personal trainers and strength coaches.  Often opening up to them about personal issues during the course of a workout.  I had a colleague at one time that was getting his psychology degree so he could practice psychology while training people!
Be sure to familiarize yourself with your son or daughters strength coach at all levels.  My experience has been that it's a crap shoot with the quality of training.  I have had parents come to me because they weren't comfortable with the training program their son was doing at school.  In one instance, their sone was a high school water polo player and the coaches had the team doing power cleans.  Not only is it a high impact exercise but it has nothing to do with water polo or any other sport.  Another local football team was required to carry cement blocks around the field as part of their training!

I would predict many of today's training gimmicks like cement blocks, power cleans, parachutes etc. will make way for safe proven strength training methods such as low force high intensity full range strength training.  This is by far the best way to build muscle fast and safely to improve athletic performance.  

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Eating Healthy: Fresh Squeezed or Store Bought Juice

Are store bought juices just as healthy as fresh squeezed? On a weight loss diet, both are very comparable in calorie content but as far as being healthy that's another story!
Freshly picked oranges packed with healthy goodness

When fresh fruit is juiced, there are enzymes, vitamins, and minerals that are abundant and ready to absorb fast.  The problem is that if you don't drink the juice within a few hours, all of the enzymes die off and the benefits are greatly diminished.

Better to squeeze them yourself!

What does that say about juices in the store, even the "healthy" organic kind in the freezer section?  Although the organic juices are more healthy than the juice on the shelves because there is less processing or additives, the actual nutrients and enzymes that are bio available in both is very little.
Drink ASAP!
Bottom Line: You'll get the most benefit from healthy juices if you drink them immediately after squeezing.  Fresh and store bought juices all have calories so be sure to count them if you are on a weight loss diet.   

Friday, February 3, 2012

Weight Loss Diet Must Do's: Weighing and measuring food

Whether you want to lose weight or build muscle it's important that you know how many calories you are eating.  Many people eat healthy but you can still gain weight by eating healthy because you are still eating too many calories.  The only way to really know how much you're eating is to weigh and measure your food.  I recommend doing this for at least a week.

It doesn't take too much time to measure it out to know exactly what you're eating...

Simply put the pasta in the measuring cup, write down the amount in your food log or online program...you can easily find how many calories in a serving on the back of the pasta box...

Once you have the pasta measured, poor it into the bowl...

Then spoon in your sauce, in this case 4 tablespoons which is about 1/4 cup...look on the back of the jar of sauce and it'll tell you how many calories it has...

Eating this way might seem like a hassle at first but once you get in the habit of weighing and measuring your food, it'll become second nature.  Not to mention that you'll shocked at the amount of calories and portions you were eating before!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Butkus Award Show

This weekend, the Butkus Award show aired and I wanted to congratulate everyone involved.

For those who haven't seen The Butkus Award show, tune in the Pro Football Weekly show that airs on Fox Sports.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Weight Control 101

This is one of the best articles you'll find on the truth about weight loss. I fully agree with the content and it gives you a good foundation of proven nutrition strategies for fast healthy weight loss.

Weight Control 101

Please email Blake@FitLike51.com with any questions and follow me on twitter @FitLike51

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

NFL to Pop Warner: Increase Your Neck strength for Football

20" cold measurement!!??
One of the biggest concerns at all levels of football from Professional to Pop Warner is neck injuries.  The bigger and stronger your neck muscles are, the more protection you're going to have against an injury.  Here's what I recommend to build and strengthen muscles of the neck.

Along with proper football skill training in tackling (see www.butkushighschoolhits.com), strengthening the neck muscles is probably the most important areas a football player can develop.  A strong neck can go a long way to prevent and protect against football neck injuries.  Luckily it's one of the easiest areas to get great results in a short amount of time.

There are 7 areas of neck development:  Front, Back, Left side, Right side, Rotational to the left, rotational to the right, and neck/upper back (Shrugging).  Neck exercises are to be done slow and controlled.  Try to progress in weight/reps every time you workout.  

For the best results in building muscle, complete 1-2 sets of 12 repetitions of the following neck training circuit:
Back in the Day...Butkus Nautilus neck workout
 Neck Flexion (Tilting Down to the front)         
    1. Neck Extension (Tilting back to the rear)        
    2. Left Side Flexion                                                         
    3. Right Side Flexion                                                       
    4. Neck Rotation to each side
    5. Shrugs

Feel free to email with any questions you may on how to get the best results in building muscle at Blake@FitLike51.com and follow me on twitter at @FitLike51.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


The New Year is here and it's again when all of us say..."I need to get in shape"..."I need to lose weight"..."I need to go to the gym".  This time every year, the gym's are a zoo in January and by March it's a ghost town.  What are you going to do this year that's different so you'll be in the best shape of your life?  All too often the motivation is short lived because you don't know what to do, you just know something has to get done. That's where I come in with the time tested and proven best muscle building and weight loss program ever.

As far as losing motivation and not knowing what to do...NOT HERE...not gonna happen!  I'm gong to teach you step by step whether your goal is weight loss, building muscle, or increasing sports performance.  

Here's the topics I'll review:
  1. Workout Plan - Only the best workout exercises here.  We'll also cover how often to workout?  How long? How hard? If you've read any of the blog you should know the answer to that one!
  2. Nutritional & Diet - There are many fad diets and myths when it comes to eating right, we'll use solid nutrition that's proven to work for best results with weight loss and building muscle.
  3. Vitamins & Supplements - There's thousands of products on the market, I'll cut through the crap and give you the best products I personally recommend. 
  4. Aerobics & Cardio - Contrary to popular belief aerobics aren't the best way to lose weight, improving your cardio is important but no hour long marathon hamster training here.  We'll map out the right program for maximum weight loss and muscle building.
  5. Community Support & Professional Help - We all need professional help, some more than others!  I'll give you all the tools you need and The Fit Like 51 community is going to be here so that you can talk with others facing similar challenges.  Follow me on Twitter @FitLike51 for daily motivation and progress, we're all in this together!
The first order of business, in the next few days write down your health and fitness goals.  Whether it's extreme weight loss or building muscle, write down exactly what your health and fitness goals are.   Don't be afraid to dream!  Second, we want to write down a reasonable time to get there.  You may have a reunion, wedding, or tropical vacation to put as a timeline but a realistic healthy time frame would be 1-2lbs of fat loss per week. Next, we have to right down why we want to be fit and healthy.  This keeps us motivated and our eye on the ball to see this challenge through.  It's important to consider family and friends and be sure to tell them about wanting to change your health, who knows maybe they'll decide to join us?

In the next blog entry I'm going to outline the exact workout you should be doing and key concepts to consider along the way. This is going to be a great year!!