Join Annie Miller, not your average fitspo, as she brings you a no B.S. approach on how to navigate + thrive in the world that is online health and fitness. Between herself and fellow experts, you’ll learn through the lens of the trainee, the strength coach and the entrepreneur. Every week The fitsPRO Podcast brings you all things fitness, training methods, social media influencing, that instagram life, nutrition, blogging, mindset, entrepreneurship and straight up inspiration.
138 | 4 Aspects Of Programming To Consider For Better Muscle Or Strength Gains
4 Aspects of Programming for Better Muscle or Strength Gains
Building muscle and building strength are not the same thing. But the programming topics we discuss today can certainly help with both. And let us remember that muscle mass is the potential for strength gains.
With that, a body builder’s goal is to put on as much muscle mass as possible, while a power lifter or olympic lifter are working to get as strong as possible within their sports. And these athletes’ training can look very different.
So, let’s look at four aspects of your training and programming that can affect your muscle gains and/or strength gains. Take what makes sense, what you can apply and leave the rest, as usual.
All of these aspects are after ONE THING - mechanical tension. Adding new mechanical tension to the muscle group(s) you’re trying to grow. That doesn’t mean more time under tension, though that can be one way to add tension. You’ll see that load, and other demands like range of motion, or angles used also add mechanical tension.
First up, my favorite
Tempo in short is the amount of time in each phase of movement - so your lowering, ascending, top and bottom positions - also referred to as lengthening phase being eccentric, and shortening being concentric.
Obviously if we add time to any of these phases, we increase the time under tension - the literal amount of time your muscles spend working. That is if other programming factors like sets and reps remain the same.
I also encourage you to keep load in mind when adding time to tempo. Due to more time under tempo, the load may need to come down. This is very dependent on the amount of time that is added and what the scheduled RPE or intensity is. But if we are attempting to add muscle, we definitely want the change in tempo to be a new, challenging stimulus. That is, after all, the point.
For instance if the previous programming was 4x4 @ 85lbs on a 18.104.22.168 tempo, and you want to alter tempo to add time under tension, that new programming might look like 4x4 @85 on a 22.214.171.124 tempo. We’ve now added 1 second of tension per rep at the same load and volume.
Tiny change - very different experience and stimulus. Bless. The simplicity is what we’re after. Simplicity that can be highly effective.
From a client perspective this also changes just enough to not get bored. On paper it is barely a change at all, but now they’re effectively doing pause squats or bench. Two down, two at the bottom or at the chest, then powering out. This is what I want coaches to understand about program design. More often than not, very little change is needed to create change of stimulus. And change of stimulus or increased stimulus is all that we’re after!
That covers slowing tempo down. You can be very extreme with that, or you can use tempo to add an explosive element to the movement. We know that muscle fibers respond to the demand that is imposed upon them.
There is potential to get after more type 2a and b muscle fibers by working explosively. I like to use intent here. Like I mentioned with squats, “powering out of the hole.” Or powering off the chest with bench. In tempo you can add an ‘x’ or a 0 to communicate this intent. Speed and/or velocity is the goal with using a DECREASED tempo.
Alright, let’s move on to the one of the most basic aspects of training one can use to alter stimulus…
Though we won’t dive into both of these - I do want you to keep in mind overall work load or volume for a given session,
137 | 2021 Review & 2022 Planning
I mentioned the other day on the 'gram that I am a doer. I tend to see gaps, and fill them, need something and create it, have an idea and begin exploring ways to execute said idea. But I was not always like that. Not entirely. Entrepreneurship has taught me this. To act without hesitation and figure it out along the way. But to always entertain the possibility. Because why not? What’s the worst that can happen?
I bring this up because if 2021 was anything, it was a year of trial and error.
I knew that going in, but boy did it play out that way. This 12 month season of trial and error meant less control and predictability than I like in my life, quite frankly.
So, let’s go ahead and get to it.
In episode 100 I reviewed my 2020 and in episode 101 I shared my personal and business goals for 2021 - If you didn’t listen to those, check them out.
But for a short recap my 2021 goals were:
* Stop work at 6pm* More consistent lifting* Investing/Retirement* Have house built
* Create PRO cramming course* NO fitsPRO Launches (constant push through free webinar)* BBA goal that I have had since the remake in 2018* Social media and sales strategy refinement
Today, I'm breaking those down and sharing my plans for 2022.
These are going to me mixed rather than personal and then business because this year was one that had life and business affecting one another like never before. Or so it felt.
I am a big advocate of life and business working in tandem. One serves the other. One undoubtedly effects the other. So we must consider both, simultaneously.
Jan 2021 was the launch of my Free Workshop Your Biz Your Way, 3 Steps to Build a Profitable Online Health and Fitness Business. I am proud to say that over 1,000 humans have taken the workshop, and over 100 FitsPRO’s joined FitsPRO Foundations via the workshop.
If you recall - the goal was no live launches of FitsPRO - to simply try the evergreen approach and see how it went. Then make decisions as needed.
Gold star for that one!
On the personal front, gyms were shut down again here and I was very excited that Nate and I made the decision to go ahead and buy a home gym set up. But in Jan we didn’t have it yet.
By February I was finally able to start lifting consistently again. I was weak, and in pain but so joyous at the same time.
Feb and March were extensions of Jan but our living situation was wearing on my productivity and some of the professional and personal goals I had.
I’ve mentioned many times before the blessing it was to live with my mother for 9 months longer than originally planned. But I can’t deny the effect I allowed it to have on my day to day routine, or lack thereof.
More context: In March, I was still waiting to see how my evergreen approach to FitsPRO was going to play out - only time would tell. In addition to this waiting game, we were also waiting on information post filing taxes to see if we qualified for the loan we needed to build on our five acres.
This waiting game with the loan also put my retirement and investment goals on hold for obvious reasons.
I mentioned this on IG but our little 3.
136 | Best Boundaries For Online Business Owners in 2022
The best business owners I know, and the people that I look up to most from a business standpoint, have clear and strong boundaries in life and in business.
I find that for me personally, it’s easy for me to have some boundaries, but very difficult for me to uphold others. So this episode is very much for you and me both.
It took me almost all of 2021 to finally be able to stick to my stop working before 6 PM boundary. I believe I mentioned that in my 2021 planning podcast. And I still plan to do a 2021 recap with the 2022 goals focused podcast episode. But that first boundary of stopping work before 6 PM didn’t happen until we literally moved into a rental house of our own.
I absolutely could’ve made other choices while in our other living situation, but I can’t deny the difference that was made by having individual spaces in a house for certain tasks. And while it was a complete blessing to be able to live with my mom for a year, I just wasn’t allotted the luxury of separate spaces for separate things to the extent that we have in our current rental.
So that kind of brings us to one possible boundary. Today’s episode is going to be very broad with possible boundaries that you can play with in 2022 for your online business. From boundaries on social media to boundaries in relationships, with your clients, and with your self in your own work schedule.
Even if you don’t work full-time for yourself yet but maybe you’ve experienced working from home, there are many challenges that come with the luxury of working from home. One of them being, that when a schedule is not imposed upon you, it can actually be very difficult to be productive and have clarity.
And that kind of goes along with not having a separate space for work. Having to go into an office or even a coffee shop allows you to switch into work mode much easier than if you’re working in the same space that you eat, prepare food, watch TV, do anything else other than work. So you can see where working from home brings different challenges than working in an office, or a gym, or any other setting outside of the home.
TIME AND SPACE
And so the first two boundaries, or habits, or whatever you want to call them, or setting work hours for yourself, and creating a designated space for work. And this doesn’t have to be all or nothing. So even with myself, and our current house where I have a full office space, sometimes I just need to switch up my scenery when I go from working on one task to another task. And that’s OK. Really whatever is going to get the work done is best case scenario.
When it comes to setting a schedule for yourself, you can be as specific or as broad as your personality prefers. That could look like working for one hour blocks with 15 minute breaks, where that could look like 23 hour blocks with a workout in between, or a meal, or both. Or as broad as you’re starting work at 9 AM and being done by 6 PM and whatever happens in that window of time is game.
And yes, I recognize the irony, in a bit of satire in the fact that many people leave at 9 to 5 just to end up attempting to stick to a 9 to 5 within their own business. That’s a very real thing, but it can be helpful nonetheless to have that schedule. There’s a difference in having that schedule for yourself versus on somebody else’s watch. And I think that’s a big differentiator.
If you’re thinking to yourself that you don’t have space, or you don’t have a separate room for an office, please know that moving into this rental in June 2021 was the first time in my 5 1/2 years of business that I ever had an actual office. It was always shared with a closet space or laundry room o...
135 | 5 Lessons From 5 Years of Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship lends itself to lessons, and here are the 5 I've learned in my 5 years of entrepreurership:
Only entrepreneurs get it
I had one business friend up until two years ago. In my first four years or so, I didn’t fit in. I looked around the space of online coaches and frankly didn’t want to be in any of the groups I saw.
They were full of terms like boss babe, or empires. I didn’t want to build an empire. I didn’t feel like a CEO, and the word boss babe didn’t describe me
Slowly but surely I found “my people” - people who did business in a similar way to me; how I wanted to run my business and function as an entrepreneur. We shared philosophies.
I have no quick fix for this, as it happened very organically for me; and not quickly at all.
I could have been more proactive. Perhaps joining a mastermind or more free Facebook groups was the right route, and I just didn’t take it. I can’t say.
All I know, is that entrepreneurship can be lonely AF. Especially in the online world. So just be warned and act accordingly. I think knowing yourself is very important here.
Some of my biz clients go to coworking spaces because they just need to be around humans. Others do just fine all day by themselves. Obviously they all have me as a coach and each other as colleagues, so that helps as well.
It’s just such a lovely thing to know that other people get it. That someone else understands the feeling of sending a wrong link, failing a launch, feeling like you’re in a constant state of trial and error, like working 10 hour or more days is going to be your norm forever. The feeling of your business being like your baby - and the vulnerability of it all.
Only other entrepreneurs get that.
Track your numbers
I know this probably sounds like a broken record, not only from me from every business coach ever. And that’s for a good reason.
When you track your numbers, you have objective data that allows you to make more educated decisions. It helps you to have context behind why you are attempting to move the needle. And what needle you are moving.
When I say track your numbers, I am referring quite literally to whatever numbers you have at this stage of business. And just because you are tracking a certain number doesn’t mean that you have to try and improve upon every single one.
I encourage you to look at all of your numbers, your Instagram followers, your engagement on Instagram, your email list subscribers, your website or application page views if you have that. Your revenue per customer. Your client retention. Whatever metrics you have in your business at this state, track them at least on a monthly basis. And then you can decide which ones you would like to try and improve.
The earlier you can start doing this, the easier it will be to expedite growth in a meeting for manner, and to continue tracking your metrics and numbers as you grow.
Attempting to start looking at numbers when you were three years in can be a rather overwhelming task. But no matter where you’re at in business, tracking your numbers can be fun. Yes, you heard me. Fun.
I find more often than not, the numbers are better than we think. And that’s the joy of numbers. It takes guessing out of the game. It’s completely objective. They just are what they are, and you can decide to put effort into changing them. They are not good or bad, we assign their value.
So there’s just some perspective around numbers whether you are or ...
134 | 6 “Fancy” Training Methods To Try Out
I wanted to have this episode be about 2021 reflection and 2022 planning but I use the Elegant excellence goals journal to do that and their shipping is delayed. So, we shall wait for that and not rush it. I am very much for reflection and planning. I’ve done it on large scale yearly basis and small scale weekly basis very religiously since the start of 2019. I am very much for reflection and planning. I’ve done it on large scale yearly basis and small scale weekly basis very religiously since the start of 2019. Thus, you will get that episode, but for today, we talk about fancy training
As I create this Pure PROgramming course, I am reminded of just how wildly basic my approach to training and program design is.
BUT, today we discuss the fancier side to the basics. I will not be telling you to use bosu balls or confuse your muscles. These fancy friends are simply more advanced basics. They’re fun and also, often require more access to equipment you may or may not have.
If you’ve been doing the same 15-20 exercises for years, within a pretty set range of sets and reps, you might feel the urge to spice it up in your training.
Rather than completely changing programs or modalities for training, I want you to entertain the following methods.
And even if you are not trying to be the fastest, or strongest, most agile or powerful, these methods can be a fun way to stick with familiar movement patterns, while having a bit more fun.
Most of these are full additions or “extras” to tack on to your normal programming. Though the first two are actual programming.
Undulating style for your main sets
In undulating programming - and I say programming because it can be a programming method as well as a periodization - you’ll perform the big lifts multiple times per week, with varying stimulus via sets and reps.
This is very popular in powerlifting for the big three lifts. Squat, bench and deadlift. But it can be applied to more big lifts with the addition of the overhead press. Which is my personal use of the method.
With three lifts you only need three days of training - in which you’d squat, bench and deadlift all three days.
One day might be 5x2
One day might be 4x5
One day might be 3-5x10
A power or max strength day, a mid strength day and a hypertrophy or capacity day.
Where in traditional programming you’d likely be working on ONE of these per PHASE - meaning one month, with undulating the stimulus alters, in this case daily.
If you add in a fourth lift it takes a bit more planning. The goal is still to hit all four big lifts 2-3 times per week with varying intensities.
Another approach I personally like is to use undulating programming for 1 is 2 lifts that you really want to push, or maybe NEED to push.
I’ve mentioned this before, but a squat bias undulating program was a part of my 12 week back rehab process after my herniation.
It was a normal 4-5 day upper lower split but I squatted 3 days per week.
The same could be done with bench press, or pull ups, or hip thrusts.
Fun way to push yourself, or push one skill/pattern.
The next one is also a program and then we get into add on methods.
German Volume Training
Take a season to try out an old great and put on as much muscle as possible.
Is GVT needed to put on mass? Negative.
133 | How To Create Engaging Instagram Stories
How to create more engaging Instagram stories!
It’s no secret that building an audience is important, and that getting that audience to interact with your content is even more important. But what happens when you feel like you’re doing all of the things, and people are still not taking the bait?
* You’re putting the question box up but no Q’s roll in.
* You’re using call to actions, but it’s crickets. Or worse, only bots respond.
* You tell people to DM you, but you only get reactions.
We need to go deeper. That’s what this episode is about.
If it wasn't made clear yet, this episode is about Instagram stories specifically. I have gone over captions and call to actions in past episodes. Let me just reiterate some key points there:
Look at your HOOK - it’s possible people aren’t even getting to your call to action because your hook didn’t get them to actually read the caption
Give specific options vs open ended, at least until your audience gets used to consistently interacting with your content. Make it easy for them.
Now, today is all about stories.
Where new humans may see your posts (through reach and exposure), your Instagram stories are for your ride or dies. For your humans who follow you, and see you daily. That context is important. Story content can be more intimate, a bit more raw than posts. They serve a different purpose.
To an extent, you need to train your audience. Not as though they are animals. But the more your audience sees others interacting with your content, the more “normal” or “expected” it feels. The ask via a question box is one thing. But the content of the question box is another.
Just like broad call to actions in captions, it’s not going to work in stories either. Thus, lower the barrier to entry for your humans.
MAKE IT FUN. MAKE IT EASY. Or mix fun and easy with intermediate level content. Leverage people wanting to talk about themselves.
Instead of a question box about health and nutrition, try a fun poll series - mountains or beaches, waffles or pancakes, tea or coffee, breakfast or dinner, hotel or airbnb - literally nothing to do with fitness or health. Sure you can mix in some health and fitness ones if you like, but I hope you can see how this is easier and likely more enjoyable for your audience than trying to come up with a question in the midst of scrolling through IG stories, yeah? This particular example is a playful poll.
You can then graduate from a non-health related playful poll to a health and fitness related playful poll - Still play this or that, but use exercises and food or drink options - squats or deadlift, bench or overhead press, conventional deadlift or sumo deadlift, back or front squat, pull ups or rows etc, stairclimber or treadmill, morning or evening exercise etc.
Honestly I encourage you to just think about how you can bring polls or quizzes into your daily Instagram stories content organically. For instance, I was in a coffee shop a while back that didn’t have a bathroom. It was funny to me for obvious reasons - you’re going to serve people coffee and have work space but no bathroom…come on. So I shared that in my stories and put up a poll “shit yourself” “walk elsewhere” - the poll does nothing, and was not even realistic. It was just funny and people like to respond to entertaining content. Not everything has to be for market research or rooted in you ACTUALLY needing feedback.
This gives your audience ways to interact without weight or expectations.
No fluff knowledge
Binge listened to a bunch of episodes while on an 8 hour drive and I feel like I learned so much!! Love the concise way information is presented. Thanks Annie!
Direct. Inspirational. Thorough.
This podcast is my favorite to listen to each week because the content is so well thought out and applicable. Following Annie on Instagram and listening to this podcast is what ultimately inspired me to get my CSCS certification and take my coaching to the next level. Take the time to listen to this podcast, and you might just learn something new or be inspired to chase a dream you’ve always had in the back of your head!
Real, witty, and always worth the listen
This podcast was recommended to me by a friend who follows Annie. I began following her on Instagram and saw her podcast and got excited. I’ve listened to several episodes so far and they have been so helpful. I’m trying to start my one business and everything has been spot on and she makes me smile every time. I enjoy how she gets straight to the point and she’s very real. I have recommended this podcast and Annie to a few people. Thank you! Such a joy to listen to every day