Why Punishments Never Work!


After some serious discussion with multiple people this week, I wanted to create a post  on the whole “punishment scenario” in fitness. I saw a trainer yesterday making his client row 100m for every gram of sugar his client ate. It just didn’t make sense so I immediately gathered some reading and consulted some people and wanted to share my findings.

My goal as a trainer is to get people to their goals and to allow them to move faster, better, and as efficiently as possible versus on their own, if on their own at all.

If you remember anything from your elementary science days, it’s that we use rats, dogs, etc. both for rewards and punishments. They ‘avoid’ the punishment by doing the assigned task. Except there’s one thing wrong with that in regards to us:


What does the research say?

Research says this about rewards and punishments:

  • Only works for short periods of time
  • Is primarily effective for children and animals
  • it’s best used for basic motor skills (fall of riding a bike, get hurt)

But I’m referencing this post into more daily adult tasks, beyond exercise. Exercise and nutrition are simply my specialties.

I read a research study about a crossfit box motivating clients to eat better by punishing them with burpees for every bad calorie they ate at the end of the month. Guess what? A lot of people were doing burpees.

Let’s think about why this is?

No one cared. The end justified the means. They simply shrugged their shoulders and did some burpees at the end of the month. 

This accomplishes 3 major negative things:

  • Exercise is a form of punishment
  • You can buy your way out of a bad diet or habit
  • Eating healthy has more strict rules than 3rd grade math.

Is that what you want a client to think? NO WAY!

Here’s a fact: Rewards illicit the same part of our brain as chemical drugs used for highs. 

Also, pain avoidance activates the brain’s fear center. 

That’s why so often we freeze up when we are scared or frightened.

So how do we avoid this?

For one, you must build a solid relationship. I always pride on knowing my clients like my best friends. There’s no need to punish someone in that regard. They trust and depend on you, and do not want to let you down. No need for a punishment when you have this superpower of relationship control.

Recognize growth rather than reward: Celebrate a great accomplishment. This allows for reinforcement versus a reward or punishment. Clients will benefit more long term from this.

Here’s an example:

“Congrats on finishing your first 5k in under 30 minutes! I will pay your entry fee into your next 5k so we can zoom even faster into it!”

-This gets the client pumped for the next one, versus:

“if you finish this 5k in under 30 minutes, I will pay your next fee”

-This allows the client to simply say ‘meh, if I don’t, oh well’. This is NOT the type of reaction we seek.


First week of online training is free.


Interval Training at its finest.


hiit kid

Interval training is a fantastic way of conditioning and it has many benefits, not limited to:

  • Takes a shorter amount of time than most other modalities
  • Is the most tried and true fat loss strategy for exercise out there
  • Can keep calories burning in a way that most traditional cardio cannot
  • Can increase both strength and cardio stamina

Tell me more about this research.

Check this out: A recent study suggested that 3 minutes (yes, 3 minutes) of High Intensity Interval Training  (HIIT) has the same cellular adaptations as 45 minutes of spinning! 

One of the earliest studies, done by researchers at Laval University (Ste-Foy, Quebec, Canada), kept it basic, using two groups in a months-long experiment. One group followed a 15-week program using HIIT while the other performed only steady-state cardio for 20 weeks. Proponents of steady-state training were pleased to hear that those subjects burned 15,000 calories more than their HIIT counterparts. Those who followed the HIIT program, however, lost significantly more bodyfat. A 2001 study from East Tennessee State University (Johnson City) demonstrated similar findings with subjects who followed an eight-week HIIT program. Again, HIIT proved to be the better fat-burner–subjects dropped 2% bodyfat over the course of the experiment. Meanwhile, those who plodded through the eight weeks on a steady-state program lost no bodyfat.

The most recent study, out of Australia, reported that a group of females who followed a 20-minute HIIT program consisting of eight-second sprints followed by 12 seconds of rest lost an amazing six times more bodyfat than a group that followed a 40-minute cardio program performed at a constant intensity of 60% MHR (maximum heart rate).

Why does this happen?

Since HIIT training is harder on the body, it requires more energy (*cough calories cough*) to repair itself afterwards.

Ok, one more cool study.

A Laval University study discovered that the HIIT subjects’ muscle fibers had significantly higher markers for fat oxidation (fat-burning) than those in the steady-state exercise group. And a study published in a 2007 issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology reported that young females who performed seven HIIT workouts over a two-week period experienced a 30% increase in both fat oxidation and levels of muscle enzymes that enhance fat oxidation. Moreover, researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Trondheim) reported that subjects with metabolic syndrome–a combination of medical disorders that increases one’s risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes–who followed a 16-week HIIT program had a 100% greater decrease in the fat-producing enzyme fatty acid synthase compared to subjects who followed a program of continuous moderate-intensity exercise.

So, if you are a busy person and don’t have 1-2 hours per day to commit to exercise. Here’s the good news. You don’t need it!

I’ve shared a sample HIIT video below as a followup to my presentation at SAP a few weeks back. Try it and comment below!

Why Fish Oil is just so freaking awesome.

fish oil blog

Time and Time again, in the name of John Berardi, I stress that the deficiency must be fixed FIRST. One of the biggest deficiencies I see if the inherent abundance of Omega-6s and lack of Omega 3s. Recent research suggests an Omega-3 deficiency could be the underlying cause of approximately 100,000 deaths each year. Yes, 100,000!!

Let’s dive in to why Omega 3s are just plain awesome.

1. Heart Health – An Italian study (GISSI) of 11,324 heart attack survivors found that patients supplementing with fish oils markedly reduced their risk of another heart attack, stroke, or death. In a separate study, American medical researchers reported that men who consumed fish once or more every week had a 50 percent lower risk of dying from a sudden cardiac event than do men who eat fish less than once a month.

2. Omega-3 normalizes and regulates your cholesterol triglyceride levels – Compared to a statin, both fish oil and krill oil are more efficient in doing this. According to a study comparing the efficiency of krill and fish oils in reducing triglyceride levels, both oils notably reduced the enzyme activity that causes the liver to metabolize fat, but krill had a more pronounced effects, reducing liver triglycerides significantly more.

3. Got Kids? DHA affects your child’s learning and behavior – Do you want to maximize your child’s intellectual potential? A study published in Plos One in June 2013 linked low levels of DHA with poorer reading, and memory and behavioral problems in healthy school-age children. In another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in August 2013, children who consumed an omega-3 fat supplement as infants scored higher on rule learning, vocabulary, and intelligent testing at ages 3 to 5.

Previous research also found that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and related behavior or learning disabilities are more likely to have low omega-3 fat levels.

The magical balance.

Omega-3 and omega-6 are two types of fat that are essential for human health. However, the typical American consumes far too many omega-6 fats in her diet while consuming very low omega-3 levels.

The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is 1:1. Our forefathers evolved over millions of years on this ratio. Today, however, our ratio averages from 20:1 to 50:1 – this spells serous dangers to your well-being! In fact, mainstream media has finally reported that lack of omega-3 is among the most serious and pressing health issues plaguing our world.

Omega-6 is primarily sourced from corn, soy, canola, safflower, and sunflower oils. These are overabundant in the typical diet, which accounts for excess omega-6 levels.

Omega-6 fats predominate the diet in the US, and this encourages the production of inflammation in your body. Many scientists believe that one reason there is a high incidence of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, premature aging, and some cancer forms today is this profound omega-3-omega-6 imbalance.

Which kind of oil is best for me?

There are tons of different kinds out there. Let me give my honest personal recommendation.

Fish Oil – of all of the research I have seen, this has the best benefits. Make sure you get one thats USP verified and contains over 600mg of EPA/DHA combined per serving. Slightly lower bang for your buck than krill oil, but I’ll explain my issues with Krill oil below. Fish Oil, however, is weak in antioxidants. This happens because fish oil is a bit perishable, and oxidation leads to the formation of harmful free radicals. Antioxidants are therefore necessary to ensure that the fish oil doesn’t oxidize and become rancid in your body. So I recommend taking with a multivitamin or greens powder or meal rich in veggies, as you’ll get the necessary nutrients to help work with the fish oil.

Cod Liver Oil – Recent research suggests this can cause insane ratios of Vitamins A and D so it’s not on a go-to list for me or hopefully anyone reading this.

Krill Oil – Has just as many of the benefits of Fish Oil, however the ONLY SINGLE REASON I don’t recommend it is that I have seen it cause irritability and lack of social awareness (which is a promoted benefit of fish oil) in children. I am simply waiting until further research comes out before I make a case for it.

Moral of the Story? Get your omega-3s, and ditch the Omega-6s like a bad date.