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GET TO IT! Get to your max weight faster.

This will be a quick post inspired by a mistake I often make in my own training.

Warm Ups are important.  Getting tissue warm and ready for exercise is important for maximal performance and injury prevention, especially if that warm up is dynamic and mimics the kinds of movement you are about perform in your exercise routine.

With that said, after you have warmed up and performed a lighter warm up set with a specific exercise for a specific muscle group, GET TO YOUR WORKING WEIGHT. 

For example, I was squatting today. I really do not like (the act of performing) this exercise.  I found myself warming up with 135.  I went to 185 next. Then 235.  Then 285.  Then 335, which is my working weight for my target reps number of 8.  So, I ended up with one set at my max potential weight of 8.  That’s one working set out of 5!  That’s not good. 

To force an adaptation (change) in your performance or physique, you have to work out at your max potential for all sets except for a warmup set (or 2 for bigger movements like deadlifts or squats).

I see people in the gym doing “chest day” where they will perform 3-4 warm up sets for every single exercise, even though they are training the exact same muscle group at a slightly different joint angle.  At the end of the day, a routine like this will give you 5-6 sets that have a potential to change anything, with the rest acting as a combination of warm ups and calorie-burning weight lifting.

The point: Warmup and get to the point.  If an exercise routine calls for 4 sets of 8 reps, that means 4 sets to failure at 8, which is your MAX weight, not a slowing ascending ladder of arbitrary sub-max loads.

Matt Pirtle, MA, CSCS

Angie Pirtle's Guide to a Fit Pregnancy

I am 20 weeks pregnant this week and not a lot of changes except watching my stomach grow daily.  We had our 20 week ultrasound this week and everything is perfect.  Baby is perfect size and growing.  I have gained 6lbs at my 20 week mark.  At 20 weeks with Charley I had gained 10lbs.   I’m hoping for a 20lb weight gain.  My doctor is extremely happy with my progress. 

I felt good this week and had good energy and that is all due to the fact that I had a good week of exercise and diet.  I got in all my cardio for the week and even had time for  a few extra strength training workouts.  Cardio is down to running outside with my two dogs or on the treadmill running at a 5.0 for about 20 min.  Some days are easier than others but I  listen to my body and when I need to I walk I walk.   My walking is a 11.0 incline at 3.0 mph on the treadmill.   With my stomach getting bigger I am feeling more tightness in my lower abdominal when running and that is when I take it down to a walk. 

My core and strength training workouts have not changed.  I feel just as strong as I did before being pregnant and have not had to make modifications.  My main goal is to maintain my Lean body mass and not loose muscle.   I stick to compound movements with 10-12 reps and still lift to failure and the end of a set range.  I circuit train the big muscle groups.  Today was a circuit of chest, shoulder, and legs followed by a 10 min run on the treadmill.   I do lots of push ups, pull ups, shoulder lateral & overhead movements, lunges, and squats.  I was able to get 3 body weight pull ups this week.  Don’t know how much longer that will last.  I was doing about 3 sets of 8 pull ups before pregnancy.  

I kept my diet clean all week and splurged with pizza twice over the weekend and peach pie.   

I eat the same thing everyday and this is a sample of my diet Monday-Friday


1 scoop Jay Robb protein powder with h20 or almond milk + 1 pc cinamon raisin ezekial toast

Mid Morning between clients

20 gram protein shake + 1 peach


1-2pc of ezekail bread ( depending on how hungry I am) with chicken or turkey, low fat mayo, tomato, pickle, and lettuce.  I load my sandwiches up with veggies it makes them so much better and takes care of my big appetite.  I also have a handful of Rice Works chips.  I get these at Dierbergs or Costco.  They are very good and are made from brown rice which has a better response with blood sugar spikes and digestion compared to regular potato chips.  That is my lunch every day.

Mid Afternoon

I eat again around 3pm and it is either a smoothie made with 1 scoop of Jay Robb protein powder, h20, and frozen mixed berries or 1 pc of ezekiel bread with almond butter and a low sugar strawberry spread.


Dinner is me and Matt’s favorite time of the day.  We enjoy cooking together and its the only time of the day that we get to spend together.  Our dinners are always healthy and planned during the week.  We do our grocery shopping on Sundays and plan the whole week.  If we are unplanned and no food in the house that is when the diet goes bad and we are eating out and pizza deliveries. Bad Bad.  Dinner is always a lean protein (lean red meat, chicken, turkey, fish), vegetables, and a salad.  We keep it simple but cook with lots of spices and seasonings to add flavor. 

After Dinner

I don’t eat after dinner and if I feel like something sweet I have a piece of gum. 

Next weeks blog I will be adding dinner and breakfast recipes and also write about my experience with feeding my daughter who is 14months and her eating habits.  Thanks for following my blog.  Please feel free to share any comments on pregnancy experiences or email me with any questions.

 Angie Pirtle

Emerge Fitness

Angie Pirtle's Guide to a Fit Pregnancy

This is week number 19 and the weeks are passing quickly.  This was not one of my best weeks as far as exercise but I kept a clean diet.  The days that I could have made time to exercise I  found myself on the couch.  I had a week of low energy and  trained a lot of clients which left me tired at the end of the day.  Today is Sunday and the start to a new week and I am going to pull it together.  The  one day of exercise I did  was a 20 min interval run on the treadmill with my top speed at 6.5.  I followed my run with a full body weight training circuit including core training.

Last week I wrote in detail about the protein powder supplementation that I use in my diet and today I want to write about the role protein plays in a pregnant and non pregnant diet.

Protein plays an extremely important part in pregnancy and the development of your baby. The amino acids which make up protein also form the basic building blocks of your body’s cells which in turn also form the building blocks of your baby’s body too.   A diet low in protein can result in low birth weight.

During the second and third trimester is when you should make sure your protein levels are where they should be, especially as this is when your baby will be growing it’s fastest and that means placing more demand on you. It is recommended that you get about 70grams of protein a day.

Protein is also very important for maintaining and building lean body mass.  A lack of quality protein will result in the loss of muscle tissue, muscle tone, a reduced immune system, slower recovery and a lack of energy. If your goal is to put on muscle and increase strength or even reduce body fat, while keeping definition and tone, extra protein from high quality sources is an absolute must.  This is important pregnant or not pregnant.

The best sources of complete protein are found in animal foods such as meat, fish, shellfish, poultry and dairy.
Eggs are the best source of protein as they contain the highest amount of essential amino acids. Fish is the next best source and is then followed by meat, milk, soy beans, oatmeal, rice, peas, lentils, and kidney beans.  If you are not getting your protein from food that is why you need a protein supplementation.   There are lots of different kinds of protein supplementation on the market make sure to ask a professional which protein powders are best for you.

I enjoy sharing my journey and next week will be sharing more diet and exercise tips.  I see my doctor tomorrow for my 20 week ultrasound.  I will be posting pics and weight gain at the half way point in next weeks blog also.

Angie Pirtle

Emerge Fitness Training

Matt Pirtle's Intuition Diet Experiment Part 2

I’ll start this post off with some information about what I am, and am not doing, specifically.

I tried to use no feedback tools except for the mirror.  No scales. No bodybuggs. No bodyfat pinches.  I didn’t want these tools interfering with the experiment which deals more with intuition.  With that said, I have worn a bodybugg for a week before, and from this week I know I burn anywhere from 4800-5800 calories a day depending on my training schedule.  I also knew my weight on the scale started at 204 lbs.

My day begins pretty routinely:

1/2 cup of plain oats mixed with one packet low sugar flavored oats

1 stevia packet

6-8 walnuts

2 scoops of whey protein isolate (50 grams)

At about 9am between clients I will have another 2 scoops WPI and a banana or any piece of fruit I have with me at work

At 12-1pm I will have lunch. This varies based on how my energy feels and how I look that day.  If I’m dragging and look deflated, I’ll add extra carbs through oats or whole grain bread.  I typically have around 60z of very lean meat.  A typical side for me will be a small serving of baked chips but this can vary ( something with comparable nutritional value). I will finish will a piece of fruit routinely.

Around 3pm I will have a varied snack, from a packet of low sugar oats, to a piece of fruit, to an almond butter and low sugar jelly sandwich on healthy life brand bread. Sometimes I eat more, sometimes less, based on how I look and feel.

Dinner is varied as well, although I have been eating A LOT of salads.  Buffalo chicken salads with cucumbers, onions, and croutons.  Or spinach and fruit salads with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  Sometimes it will just be a large serving of green veggies with 6-8oz of chicken.  I have had much less red meat, for certain.  I add a carb through whole grain noodles or brown rice occasionally.

I go off the beaten path sometimes, from splitting a large veggie with less-cheese pizza with Ang one night, to having a 4000 calorie dinner of fried food on a weekend vacation.  Doesnt happen much, but when it does, it’s big.  I usually feel great the next day with no noticeable change in leanness. I know I can do this now when I need to.  I would never have done this while dieting for a show, but I’m glad I did now, because I know it won’t derail everything I’ve done up to that point.

I am about 4 weeks into this diet and, simply for a before and after comparison, I am posting a pic shot 3 weeks before the start of the experiment, and one shot July 31st.

matt beforematt after









The next post will be about the specific variations in the diet and the very little cardiovascular work performed during this time (I didn’t want to add to many variables).

Matt Pirtle, MA, CSCS

Matt Pirtle's "INTUITION" diet experiment

With the over-abundance of fitness and diet advice floating around in the gym, in magazines and on the web, it can sometimes be difficult to filter out the good information from the bad (and sometimes, dangerous).  There is no shortage of advice in the local fitness facility or online from “experts” touting the latest sure thing diet plan. 

With all of this (sometimes conflicting) information, certain fundamentals of fitness and nutrition will always be the basis for any further discussion, a “fitness axiom.” These things are true whether or not you want them to be.  This will be the jumping off point for my experiment in intuition diet.

Intuition always assumes a certain amount of learned information. For example, a person might intuit that the moment is wrong to cross the street just before a car speeds by.  The knowledge that streets are for cars and they often drive on them is understood first.  My intuitive diet plans works this way, except I have had a LOT of time studying the street and the probability of a car approaching.  Some information is learned, and intuition is driven by that knowledge.

I started this experiement in early July with nothing really to lose.  In the past, a diet for me meant I was preparing for a show (on stage in basically bikini underwear).  There was a lot at stake.  This time, with the stakes smaller, I tried a different approach to my RIGID competition dieting regime. 

I took the basics of nutrition and the metabolic functioning of the human body and applied the knowledge to a day-to-day “guideline” for my diet.

Some of the very basics:

1) Calories taken in must be less than calories expended.

2) A carbohydrates main function is energy, your body converts them into glucose for use.

3) Protein is essential for strong bones, skin and MUSCLE, and the body needs amino acids from proteins every day because they cannot be stored like carbs and fats.

This, along with some smaller absolute rules, was the information referred to the most in this experiment. 

So I began on July 8th.

Next update soon….

Matt Pirtle, MA, CSCS

Angie Pirtle's Guide to a Fit Pregnancy

I am back blogging  and sharing the  journey of my second pregnancy.   Today is day 119 of my pregnancy which puts me at exactly 17 weeks.  I wanted to wait until I was far enough along before I started blogging and today is day  one. As like my first pregnancy  this also has been a great experience so far and I want to share.    There is never enough information out there on how to have the best healthy pregnancy possible.  To give a little history about myself my daughter Charley was born June 30, 2010 and I  had the best experience  from beginning to end.  I gained very little weight, had great energy, exercised the entire pregnancy, and worked up until the day I had her.   After I had Charley I thought I was going to be so motivated to get back to exercising  and loose the baby weight and that was completely opposite.   I struggled to find the time and energy to even do 20 min of cardio a day.  I only gained 22lbs with Charley so the weight I had to loose was very little but it was still hard work and keep in mind I am a personal trainer and have all the tools and knowledge at my fingertips.   By the time Charley was 8 months I was finally down to my goal weight of 126 and on a consistent strength training/cardio program.  This took me  8 months.  My advice to the moms out there that say they are just gonna take it easy and enjoy being pregnant and eat what they want and worry about  losing  the weight after the baby is born, good luck.

I was lucky to get my body back to where I wanted it before getting pregnant the second time.  I started this pregnancy out at 126lbs and as of today I have gained 5 lbs.  My goal is 20lbs.  I had a major appetite increase the first trimester and could not get enough calories.  The overly tired and constant hunger was a struggle but I made it through and it only lasted 12 weeks.  The one thing I did different this time is I did not change my exercise program.  My first pregnancy as like others I was very unsure and did not know what to expect and always had the fear of overdoing it and harming the baby.  I went into this pregnancy this time with a different outlook and wanted to continue everything I was doing and not make any modifications.  I love to run and when I got pregnant with Charley  I quit running for the first 12 weeks and started a walking program on the treadmill.   This time I did not do that.  I have continued my interval running just at a less speed while keeping my heart rate at 150.  I run 4-5x a week for 20 min and continue my core and strength training program 3x a week with no modifications.   I get about 3 runs a week outside so my body can stay acclimated to the heat.

I keep my calories around 1800 a day making sure I get plenty of protein  and eat every three hours to keep my blood sugars level.   My carbohydrates come mainly from fruits, vegetables, Ezekiel bread, and brown rice.  My protein comes   from chicken, fish and on occasion a lean red meat.  I use a protein powder supplement that is  free of sweeteners.  I have also added acupuncture with Dr. Marcy Cooper once a week.  This keeps my body in line and significantly helps my energy levels.

Just like my first pregnancy I feel great everyday and most of the time forget that I am pregnant.  I am very fortunate not to feel all the awful pregnancy symptoms that women go through but I know it’s all about my diet,  exercise and taking care of my body.  I will keep you posted weekly with how I am progressing with my diet and exercise followed by pictures.

17 Weeks Pregnant

17 Weeks Pregnant

Fitness Professional

Angie Pirtle

Emerge Fitness Saint Charles MO

Run Faster, Jump Higher


Athletes often come into Emerge with the goals: “I would like to increase my vertical” or “I would like to be faster at my forty yard dash”.

The two most important qualities to increase your performance in vertical and speed are strength and power. The two ultimately work together because without strength, you will always be limited by your muscles ability to produce force (power).

While looking at program design you have to give each phase the proper amount of attention in a 4 to 8 week time frame, allowing one to build from the other. In simple terms:

You should train your major muscle groups that are associated with speed and vertical (hamstrings, glutes, and lower back/core) twice a week. Upper body should also be trained in the same manner, on opposing (off) days of lower body, allowing the proper amount of rest and recovery. Additionally, it gives both your upper and lower body each one strength day (heavy day) and one speed/auxiliary day each (light day).

In order to produce explosive power you must do similar motions and focus on movements that mimic one’s vertical, for example depth jumps, Russian lunges and any Olympic lifts.

Eccentric strength (drop before the jump) and isometric stabilization (pause before jump) should not be neglected since they too, are key components in a maximal jump. For example, in order to run or jump properly, one needs to do active stretching. This prepares the muscles for the eccentric (stretched muscle) phase of the jump. Isometric stabilization needs to be practiced to optimize the Amortization phase, which is the brief pause before the explosive concentric movement (the jump). In any power movement there is a lowering/loading phase that makes maximal use of the muscles. Likewise without the isometric/pause the transition between eccentric to the jump/power movement would be slower, resulting in a decreased effort.

Anyone is able to improve his or her speed or vertical with the proper program design and training. For more information on this or any other sports enhancement questions, contact an Emerge Fitness ATP trainer.

Matt Wirth, Emerge Fitness