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15 Little Life Hacks

Special for IWT: Live Q&A on fitness from master trainers (right now)

330 Comments- Get free updates of new posts here
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The short version: My friends, master personal trainers John Romaniello and Adam Bornstein, are doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything) where they’ll answer your fitness questions — free — for the next hour. It starts at 2:00pm Eastern – today.

* * *

If you’ve been reading, you know that in the past few years, I went from a skinny Indian dude a somewhat-normal-looking person by working out and intentionally gaining 40lbs. Investing in my health has been one of my best investments ever.

One of the things I like to do for IWT readers is give you access to the cool sites and books I come across. And once in awhile, I like to open up my personal network to hook you up — free, just because I like you guys.

So today, two of my buddies, master personal trainers John Romaniello and Adam Bornstein, are doing an AMA for my readers.

AMA = Ask Me Anything, so if you have any fitness questions, you can get free access to them for an hour. If you’ve been trying to lose those last 10 lbs…or wondering what else to do besides the boring treadmill…or if you’ve at plateaued at 225 on the bench…John & Adam can help you.

bookcoverThey have a new book coming out: Man 2.0 Engineering the Alpha: A Real World Guide to an Unreal Life: Build More Muscle. Burn More Fat. Have More Sex. (The foreword is written by Arnold Schwarzenegger!) Before this goes live and they go on an insane media tour, I wanted to give you guys the chance to get personalized advice from them.

All free. No catch. It’s just my way of saying thank you for reading IWT and always aiming for a richer life.

The details:

  • John and Adam’s AMA starts at 2:00pm Eastern
  • Submit your fitness questions via the comments on this blog post
  • John and Adam will answer as many of your questions as possible.
  • Refresh your window to see the answers.

Thanks for reading!

*  *  *  *  *

UPDATE: The AMA is now over. You can read all the questions and answers below. To learn more about John and Adam and their new book, check out the links above.


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  1. Like Ramit, I’m a skinny college guy looking to gain muscle. The weight room is daunting, though. What’s the best way to learn how to properly use machines?

    Also, what’s the short version on your advice to help a skinny guy gain muscle?

    • the book/DVD ‘Starting Strength’ is excellent on how to do compound lifts, which are much better than isolation machine exercises.

    • John Romaniello Link to this comment

      Hey everyone! Wow – looks like we got started a little early =) Sorry to keep you waiting.

      So, quick intro: my name is John Romaniello, but most people call me Roman. I’m a NYC based coach and writer, but also a serial entrepreneur and angel investor.

      I’ve been in the fitness industry for 12 year, written hundreds of articles in dozens of magazines, serve on a ton of advisory boards, and now have a new book.

      With that said, I’ll jump in to your questions!

    • John Romaniello Link to this comment

      Hey Brady, thanks for the question.

      As Daniel mention, Starting Strength is a good place to look.

      In terms of learning what to do: generally we advise that people use free weights. You can learn form from a variety of book and websites–even youtube! Having said that, I think the best way to learn technical lifts is to hire a coach to show you.

      As for tips to gain muscle: start tracking calories and macros. chances are you’re not eating enough!

      good luck =)

  2. If I want to be strong, are calisthenics enough?

    • John Romaniello Link to this comment

      Hey Brian. Depends on what you mean by “calisthenics” – if you mean jumping jacks, probably not.

      That said, if you’re willing to learn some complex exercise, then absolutely. Keep in mind, gymnasts are some of the most in shape guys around, and have incredibly high relative strength–and they pretty much only do bodyweight exercise.

      There are a lot of great sites around. I like

  3. Hi, what are some really good lower ab work outs?? I currently do crunches, planks, and medicine ball side to side. I have great definition on the top and sides of my abs but I can’t seem to get the focus on my lower abs.

    • I’m with Ryan on this question. I had a baby more than two years ago and have been struggling to get by stomach flat again. I have definition everywhere except in my bellybutton region. I know foods also play a part, so could you also point to a good reference on what to eat for flat abs?

    • John Romaniello Link to this comment

      Hey Ryan,

      That’s an interesting question. Chances are, it’s NOT whatever you’re doing (or not doing) in the gym.

      You see, when you have trouble losing the last few pounds, particularly in a specific area, it’s generally a hormonal issue.

      In the case of lower belly fat, we’re taking about a hormone called cortisol; commonly called the stress hormone. When you have high cortisol, it manifests itself in the storage of fat in the lower belly.

      So, we need to address cortisol — ways to do this:

      1) perform workouts that increase growth hormone (google!)
      2) get more sleep
      3) practice yoga and meditation

      Hope that helps!

    • Hey Jennifer, have you been checked for diastasis recti? It’s a separation of the ab muscles that occurs during pregnancy, and some ab exercises like crunches make it worse. I’m not an expert or anything, just a woman who had a couple kids.

    • Two things come to mind–how long ago did you progress your routine, for example, advance the level difficulty?
      If that recommendation doesn’t give you what you want, then you might find the missing component in your diet or adjusting a component in your overall lifestyle.

    • Sorry Ryan. My response didn’t thread under your question.

      Two things come to mind–how long ago did you progress your routine, for example, advance the level difficulty?
      If that recommendation doesn’t give you what you want, then you might find the missing component in your diet or adjusting a component in your overall lifestyle.

  4. Question: What, in your opinions, is the best way to get ‘beach-season’ ready? Also, what is the easiest way to maintain a great summer physique and workouts without significantly cutting into free time (ie not working out two hours a day, every day). I don’t need to lose weight, I only want to get extra-toned for short shorts and swimsuit weather. Thanks!

    • John Romaniello Link to this comment

      Hey Lydia,

      The best way to get “toned” is generally to lift heavy weights. Tone, or the look of a “hard” physique is the result of residual tension in a resting muscle.

      So, you want to increase something called “myogenic muscle tone.” To do this, lifting heavy weights is the way to go. Generally, 5 reps and under.

      A fantastic resource for women looking to do this is:

      Coach Neghar has one of the best blogs around for women’s fitness.

  5. What’s your best tip for WOMEN looking to burn fat, increase lean muscle and drop the last 10-15 lbs?!

    • I second this question! I’ve always been skinny to average as far as weight goes, but since my late 20s I’ve had to actually watch what I eat and now I feel like I can’t lose 5-10 lbs to save my life. I look fine now, but I want to look awesome, to have more definition and less butt fat, in essence. Advice?

    • John Romaniello Link to this comment

      Hey ladies!

      Generally, women need to worry a bit more about estrogen, so performing workouts that increase testosterone (don’t worry, this is a good thing!) is very effective.

      We’ve found that workouts that focus on something called “training density” (the amount of work you do in a given time), the more you’ll achieve results.

      I wrote a blog about this here:

      As I mentioned above, also check out for information on female fat loss.

  6. Alberto Artasanchez Link to this comment

    Hey guys,

    Thanks for doing this. I recently lost 30 lbs. in a few months quickly about six months ago. I have been able to keep it off. My problem is those last stubborn 5 or 10 pounds that hide the six pack. How do I break through past this barrier? I think I am still making progress but it is now glacial. Thanks for your time.

  7. There’s so many fad diets out there, no carb, fat free yada yada… What’s the healthiest option for optimal weight loss? I’ve been going to the gym 3-4x a week, both lifting and intense cardio (zumba & cycling) I’m trying to lose those last 10-15 vanity pounds, not drop 3 pant sizes lol

    • John Romaniello Link to this comment

      Hey Bonnie,

      Good question.

      The “best” option is the one you can live with, long term. For some people, the paleo diet (which is fantastic, objectively) is too hard to maintain; others, though, get life changing results. Same with something like veganism, which is pretty much the polar opposite of paleo.

      For me, it’s a combination of low carb and high protein, eating in accordance with the principles of intermittent fasting (I fast for about 16-20 hours out of every day). I also have 1 cheat day per week.

      This works for me and for hundreds of my clients.

      So, I would say:

      pick a diet–ANY diet–and follow it to the letter for 6 weeks. If you feel like you can keep doing it long term, stay on it. If not, try something else.

      You just need to find what works for you.

      PS: for information on fasting, check out these posts

  8. What is the most appropriate balance of cardio and weightlifting for weight loss? How long and how many visits per week?

    • John Romaniello Link to this comment

      Hey Jason,

      Great question.

      we find that for men, training with weights 4 days per week and doing cardio twice per week is great.

      The weight training should be about 45-60 min, and the cardio should ideally be high intensity sprints.

  9. What are some of the best things to do to get a good beach body by the summer? I’m in pretty good shape, but I’d like to get my abdominal muscles more defined. What exercises and what foods?

    I currently run 4-5 times a week and try to get to the gym twice a week or so, where I usually do plyometric exercises and sometimes go swimming. As of yesterday, I’ve started to track my food intake again to try to count calories. I try to eat healthy in general but have given thought to becoming a pescatarian.

  10. What helps a person lose weight or exercise? (I know both is ideal)

    • John Romaniello Link to this comment

      There’s a well known expression in the fitness industry: “abs are made in the kitchen.”

      Equally applicable: “you can’t out train a bad diet.”

      Diet is about 75% of the game.