14 min read

January Q&A

by | Nutrition

Questions Asked

  1. How do I strengthen my hips?
  2. Should I do sumo deadlifts or conventional?
  3. What do you think of one-meal-a-day dieting?
  4. What can I do to get a stronger stomach?
  5. Should I do low reps with heavy weight or high reps with light weight to build muscle?
  6. I’m not feeling sore after my workouts anymore. Do I need to switch my routine up?
  7. What exercises are best for toning?
  8. How to lose face fat?
  9. Should I add my calories burned from working out into my daily calorie intake?
  10. Should you run before or after you lift? Does it make a difference?
  11. What is your diet like?
  12. Do you get a lot of haters? What do you do with the negative energy?
  13. Starbucks or Dunkin’?

1. How do I strengthen my hips?

Compound movements will be your best friend for building strength for any muscle group.

To strengthen your hips, specifically, you’ll want to include a hip dominant movement at the beginning of your lower-body workouts.

If you’re doing lower-body two times per week, I would start one workout with a knee-dominant exercise and your other workout with a hip-dominant exercise. You’ll still want to include both a knee and hip dominant exercise for each lower-body workout.

For example, your first exercise on your first leg day could be a barbell back squat. Since a squat is knee-dominant, you’ll do a hip hinge as your second movement. This could be any deadlift variation or a glute bridge/hip thrust.

If you ask ten trainers what the single “best” hip strengthening exercise is, you may get ten different answers. So how do you know who’s right?

Well, all of them are right—sort of.

The best hip-strengthening exercise varies from person to person. That’s not to say some exercises aren’t more effective than others.

In order to gain strength, you need to focus on progressive overload, or adding volume (sets, reps, weight) over time. So, it makes sense to pick exercises that have the most potential for progressive overload.

For example, you’ll be able to add more weight to a conventional deadlift than a Romanian Deadlift. So, it makes sense to start your second lower-body workout with a conventional deadlift and use something like hamstring curls to isolate your hamstrings later on in the workout.

Although the conventional deadlift is great at improving hip strength, it also has its drawbacks. The main drawback is the strain on the lower back.

This is where individualization comes into play. If you have a history of back pain, you’re probably better off using the barbell hip thrust to build strength in your hips.

Having a strong hip thrust will also result in having a plump and aesthetic tush. So that’s another benefit if you have a thing for nice butts (I know you do, don’t lie to me).

Be sure to spend some time building strength in all rep ranges. A good rule of thumb is to train moderate to high reps on your first lower-body day and then go heavier for lower reps on your second.


2. Should I do sumo deadlifts or conventional?

If you don’t know, the main difference between sumo and conventional deadlifts is stance width.

Conventional deadlift stance is right around hip width, while a sumo deadlift stance is fairly wide.

This is a commonly debated topic, especially in the powerlifting community.

Some say sumo deadlifts are cheating because the range of motion is shorter.

I’ll save you the boredom of explaining how our energy systems work and cut to the chase: when you’re doing higher reps, sumo deadlifts will be a bit easier. If you’re doing anywhere below 3-5ish reps then sumo doesn’t yield any advantage over conventional.

I have short arms compared to my torso and legs, so sumo deadlifts feel a bit more natural to me.

If you have shorter legs, longer arms, and/or have any history of back problems, then you may be better suited for sumo deadlifts.

It’s important to note that the sumo deadlift also has its drawbacks, the main one being it can be tough on the hips.

If you have bad hips, or longer legs compared to your torso/upper body, then conventional deadlifts may be better for you.

As I said in the first answer, conventional deadlifts are a great exercise, but they’re very taxing on the lower back. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s important to consider when deciding which stance is better for you.

There are also exceptions to all general guidelines, so I recommend trying both stances out for 6-8 weeks at a time. From that point, choose the stance that feels more comfortable and allows you to pull more weight with good form.

Either way, make sure you train at sub-maximal levels and plan deloads into your program.


3. What do you think of one-meal-a-day dieting?

One Meal a Day dieting, often referred to as OMAD, is a style of intermittent fasting.

OMAD may make weight loss easier, sure. But easier does not mean better. Reason being, you’ll have trouble getting all of your nutrients in from one meal.

If you care about food quality (you should), it will be really freakin’ hard to eat 2,000 calories (or whatever your intake is) in one sitting while consuming enough protein, carbs, fats, and micro-nutrients.

I’m not saying OMAD is terrible; it works for some people. But if it’s not something you can do for a long time, it’s not worth it.

Most people use OMAD to control calories in a way that requires minimal thinking.

In most cases, it’s just an attempt to lose weight without changing any habits or improving health. More often than not, the meals are still greasy and hyper-palatable, yielding very minimal nutritional value.

If this is your approach to trying OMAD, you’re trying to fix the sink (body composition) when you need to be focused on fixing the well (daily habits).


4. What can I do to get a stronger stomach?

Do abdominal exercises that you can make progressively harder over time.

For example:

Planks – Try to hold longer planks every week.

Russian Twists or cable chops – Try to add weight every week.

Weighted Crunch Machine – Try to add weight every week.

Reverse crunches – Add reps or sets each week.


5. Should I do low reps with heavy weight or high reps with light weight to build muscle?

This isn’t an either-or answer. Too many people view rep ranges as black and white.

Most people look at it like this:

– 1-5 reps: Strength

– 6-12 reps: Hypertrophy (Building muscle)

– 12-15+ reps: Muscular endurance

While this isn’t wrong, it’s also not that simple. While working within 8-12 reps will be optimal for hypertrophy, it’s not the end-all be-all.

Lifting in the 1-5 rep range is optimal for building strength, but it doesn’t mean once you go over 5 reps you aren’t getting stronger anymore.

It doesn’t mean you aren’t building muscle if you do less than 6 or more than 12 reps.

And just because you do more than 15 reps doesn’t mean you aren’t building muscle or getting stronger.

All of these rep ranges work together to achieve a common goal. But it’s best to spend most of your time in the 8-12 rep range if your main goal is building muscle.


6. I’m not feeling sore after my workouts anymore. Do I need to switch my routine up?

Unless your main fitness goal is to feel sore all the time, no.

And if your goal is to feel sore 24/7, I’d recommend taking that money going into your gym membership and putting it into some sessions with a therapist.

If you’re like most people, your goal is to look and feel better.

The goal of a specific workout should be to do every rep of every set with good form, and progress in the scope of the workout program as a whole.

Also, being sore isn’t the indicator of an effective workout.

Feeling sore is the byproduct of stimulating muscles in a way they aren’t used to. This could be from hitting a personal best on a lift, reducing rest times, or adding a new exercise in your routine, and/or plenty of other training/recovery variables.

The only time you may want to make some changes in your routine is if your goals change, some of the exercises are getting stale, or you haven’t made progress in the last few weeks or months, depending on how long you’ve been lifting.

Before you change your workout because your progress is stalled, make sure your nutrition, sleep, and rest is where it needs to be. Just because your program isn’t working doesn’t mean the program is the problem.


7. What exercises are best for toning?

A caloric deficit.

No exercises are going to “tone” certain areas.

If you want to look leaner, you need to do two things:

1. Eat in a caloric deficit.

2. Build muscle through strength training.


8. How to lose face fat?

There are two factors in fat around your face: overall body fat and genetics.

If you want your face to look thinner, don’t waste your time doing weird jaw exercises you found on Google; focus on losing overall body fat.

You can’t pick and choose where you lose fat; it’s like draining a pool, and the deep end that drains last is dependent on the person.

Genetics also play a role in facial structure. For example, I have a fairly circular face (thanks mom), so even when I’m at a low body fat percentage, I don’t have a chiseled jawline. Luckily, I have pretty decent beard genetics, so I guess that makes up for it.

In short, if you want a thinner face, lose overall body fat and choose good parents.


9. Should I add my calories burned from working out into my daily calorie intake?

No. I’m assuming you’re estimating calories burned based on a Fitbit, Apple Watch, or MyFitnessPal. Regardless, this technology is notorious for overestimating how many calories we burn—upwards of 50%.

If your tracker says you burned 500 calories, you probably burned closer to 250 calories, if that.

If you’re losing more than 2 pounds per week in a fat loss phase, then it makes sense to up your calorie intake to hold on to as much muscle as possible.


10. Should you run before or after you lift? Does it make a difference?

The practical answer would be whatever you enjoy more.

Although you might enjoy running first, it will take away from your energy that goes into lifting weights, which is more effective than running in terms of improving body composition.

For building muscle, it’s definitely more optimal to do cardio after weight training, or even on a separate day.

If your main goal is to build muscle then you should keep cardio to a minimum.

If your goal is to lose weight, most of your progress will come from your diet. Lifting weights will help you build/retain more muscle while losing fat.

If you just diet and do cardio, you’re going to be losing muscle as well, and you’ll be disappointed with your body composition once you hit your “goal weight.”

The only way I’d really suggest running first is if you’re a long-distance runner or a sprinter.


11. What is your diet like?

80% of my calories come nutrient-dense foods, 20% of my calories come from “fun foods.”

I eat a lot of fruits, a healthy amount of vegetables, and plenty of protein.

For my “fun foods” I normally go with chips, cookies, or ice cream.

I normally don’t go out to eat unless I plan ahead or I’ll borrow up to 25% of my next day’s calories if I go out last-minute.


12. Do you get a lot of haters? What do you do with the negative energy?

If you think you have a ton of haters, that’s probably because you don’t believe in yourself.

People always say, “f**k the haters” as if massive amounts of people are actively against you or your goals.

If it feels like it’s you versus the world, it’s probably just you versus yourself.

Most people are actually rooting for you, even if they never tell you.

We naturally focus on the negative, rather than the positive.

You could post something and get a ton of positive feedback, yet still find yourself focusing on the one person who said, “hey dude, you’re an idiot.”

I’ve gotten my fair share of hateful messages, and it used to bother me—like, a lot. To the point I didn’t want to post anything on social media.

A while back, I was on the phone with one of my mentors, Jordan Syatt.

I remember telling him I was nervous to put out content more frequently because I had a few keyboard warriors that always had something to say.

He responded with a question.

“Connor, when you’re 90 years old and looking back on your life, are you going to be happy that you cared more about people’s opinions than you did about chasing your dream?”

This is a disturbing reality for most people.

They never launch that business, start taking their fitness seriously, or ask that girl out because they’re scared of rejection or embarrassment.

After Jordan asked me that question, I realized I valued others’ opinions more than I valued helping people improve their lives through fitness.

I knew I wouldn’t be happy if I let Johnny Dillhole’s opinion hold me back from doing what I was put on this earth to do.

I also knew I had to work on my priorities and value systems—so I did. But this is the step most people skip. They know they care too much, but they don’t do anything to change the way they think.

I get it, consciously thinking differently is hard. But it’s necessary if you want to live up to your potential. Because that’s all it is: potential. And it’s useless without action.

If someone takes time out of their day to say something hateful to you—something to blatantly try to make your day worse—that person is in a really bad place and they’re not happy with themselves.

So if someone says something hateful to me, I put myself in their shoes, and I genuinely feel bad for them.

I’m happy. I’m pursuing my dream. I’m doing what I love.

They’re talking shit to a stranger on the internet during their lunch break.

So, normally I respond with something like, “thanks for the feedback, I hope your day gets better :)”

After that, I move on.

This isn’t always easy, and some days you just won’t want to do it. Empathy is a skill—a discipline—and you need to practice it if you want to have any kind of influence.

If your goal is to be an inspiration and an authority to some people, you need to accept that you’re going to be a joke and an embarrassment to others.


13. Starbucks or Dunkin’?

I honestly think most gas stations have better coffee than Starbucks, so even if Dunkin’ Donuts was average it would still win.

Dunkin’ Donuts has great coffee, and it will always have a place in my heart, but I haven’t had any coffee that surpasses the mouthgasm of that from Philz Coffee.


Thanks for reading this month’s Q&A. If you want your questions answered, be sure to follow me on Instagram where I take questions through a question box on my stories or through DMs.

You can also add me as a Facebook friend, where I’ll put a link to ask questions, or you can Tweet at me.

Connor Youngman is a personal trainer, fitness writer, podcaster, and competitive coffee chugger. He has a deep love for the Chicago Bears, Stoic Philosophy, Harry Potter, and writing about himself in the third person.