Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Training Tip #4 - Figure 8 Band Push Up

Focus
Progression from standard or modified push up focused on challenging the core stability, control, and overall upper body strength.

Beginning Position
In standard push up position.

Movement

  • Keeping body aligned (straight line ears to ankles)
  • Lower torso (chest) to floor by bending elbows
  • Then return to starting position by pushing against floor using chest, shoulders and triceps.

Safety

  • Keep back flat
  • Keep abs drawn in or braced to protect spine
  • Maintain straight line from ear through hips, knees, and ankles.

Remember EDUCATION and SAFETY always leads to RESULTS

Be Well.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Who is Healthier?

The #1 reason for many people to begin a regular exercise program is for what is termed "weigh-loss". I hear gym members, clients, and friends consistently talking about losing weight. However most don't really stop to clearly define what type of weight they are trying to lose. The weight of your body is not all bad. There are things in your body that make up your weight that are actually good for you and you should want to keep, increase, or make them stronger. Lets chat about it for a while as my goal in life is educate you in order to change your mindset. Change the mind and body will follow.

What is Weight?

Weight is not a synonym for "fat". The weight of your body is broken up in two categories called "Fat Mass" and "Lean Mass". The lean mass is your bones, organs, muscles and various other soft tissues in the body (we want to keep that right?). Your fat mass is the part of you body that is adipose tissue (fat), which is part essential fat and storage fat. The essential fat is the necessary fat you need to live, which lines your organs like the heart, helps regulate body temperature, and is your body's main form of energy storage. The storage fat is where you body stores any calories or energy in excess that was not used for energy or removed from your body. Remember all energy you intake is either used for energy, stored for energy, or removed. Now its the excess storage fat that should be the target. Lowering the excess storage fat will lower your overall fat mass (body fat) to healthier levels which will give you a more lean healthier appearance and lower your risk for preventable diseases. Its all about lowering your risk. This is why consistently evaluating your success by weighing yourself on the scale is not recommended. You are doing yourself a disservice physically and mentally. Let me prove it.

So Who is Healthier?
So hypothetically speaking with all things being equal which woman is healthier or in better shape?

Woman A:
Weight = 200lbs

Woman B:
Weight = 180lbs

You can see from this example that it would be easy to assume that "woman B" is healthier by only considering the weight. Here is another example with more information. Who is healthier?

Woman A:
Weight = 200lbs
Body Fat = 25%

Woman B:
Weight = 180lbs
Body fat = 35%

Don't be fooled by just the weight. You will be surprised to know that "woman A" is healthier and at less risk.

Woman A:
200 lbs. x 0.25 = 50 lbs of fat

Woman B:
180 lbs. x 0.35 = 63 lbs of fat

That is a 13 lbs difference in body fat. So now what do you want to lose? Yeah I know you want to lose weight but its the type of weight you want to lose that should be the focus.

I know this is a hard concept to get a handle on at first, but this is really what you should be focusing on. In the long run it will allow you to focus more on what the goal is and eliminate any frustration with slow changes in weight, no changes in weight, and possibly a increase in some cases. Accept your body for what it is and then do the things you can do to change what have control over. One of those things is your approach and mindset. Use the scale properly and not to judge or gauge you progress.

As I said before if you change your mind you can change your body.

EDUCATION and SAFETY always leads to RESULTS.

Be Well.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Top 5 Mistakes I See in the Gym Daily...



If you are in the gym as much as I am, I can guarantee you will witness some of the common mistakes and misconceptions about exercise. I can't necessarily blame the individuals as they are just doing what they learned in high school on a basic level and from some magazine or other non-credible information source. Check out some of these mistakes to see if you are in that category. If you are seek some professional advice and guidance from qualified professional. It will allow you to learn from your mistakes and improve your ability to reach your goals - it should be about education - right? I think there are many people who think that exercise is one of those things your are just born to know how to do, but don't realize there is a science and art to changing the body, making it strong, and maintaining it, as the human body is a simple and complex system. It not as simple as just lifting up heavy things.

This list is not in any particular order of importance or value, just a few things I noticed daily in the gym. My goal is to educate you so you can be more aware and avoid them. Check it out.

  1. Over training - What in world is over training? Well it is exactly what it states - don't over complicate it as it is really simple. It is the result of training too frequently, for too long, and with poor recovery. I think people feel like they have to really over work themselves in the gym in order to achieve the results they desire. However the exercise part of training is the smallest part of the whole puzzle. Focus more on making the changes you need to make outside of the gym for best results like eating and sleeping (resting). If you are putting in 2 hour killer training sessions day after day after day with poor nutrition habits and don't allow for your body to recovery - is basically the equivalent to spinning your wheels - as in your going nowhere. Check out my previous post "Muscles Don't Grow in the Gym...". The goal should be to spend less time in the gym not more time. Focus on working harder not longer and giving your body ample time to recovery from the workout.

  2. Isolating - Unless you are trying to compete as a body builder you should not be focusing on improving the size of one muscle at a time. In your daily life how many of muscles do you use to perform the many daily activities of life? Well why not train for how you live. Let me say that again - "...train how YOU live". To achieve the best results you should be doing exercises and movements that train or involve the must muscles and movements as possible. They say we have 600+ muscles in our body but in my eyes I see it as just one, as it is a system. Your muscles in your body don't' just start and stop, as it is really a continuation from one area of body or bone segment to the next. Bottom line is you burn more calories when you incorporate as many muscles as possible. When you watch athletes performing during their sport - what muscles are they using? Focus on training movements not just muscles. Exercise is more about helping you maintain your ability to move better and strength as you age. In addition the added benefits is that you will be more likely to not be overweight and affected by preventable diseases.

  3. No Intensity - You noticed I didn't say low intensity as some of the activity I witness may not qualify as such. I see a lot of sitting around going on and TV watching. If you are not elevating your heart rate or challenging your respiratory system then what are you doing? By raising the intensity you could actually save yourself some time. You wouldn't have to spend an hour on the treadmill doing long distance training. If you changed it to interval training then you could accomplish more in a shorter period of time. Overall if you put more effort into your training intensity this is a all-around win win for you. Training at a higher intensity requires more energy output which means more caloric expenditure. Put a little more gusto into your workout - you will notice the difference. Please keep in mind that high-intensity exercise requires a longer recovery period and isn't for beginners.

  4. Abs, Abs, and more Abs - Well what can I say. People have a extreme fascination with abdominal muscles. I have seen countless people crunching like their life depended on it on the ab machine. Crunching from the front and side ways in a attempt to develop a six-pack. Do this for me - next time your watching a sporting event watch to see if anyone of the athletes does a crunch or sit up. I doubt you will see even one. Check out my previous post "Everyone has a Six-Pack". The muscles that make up the six-pack are just 1 of the 29 muscles that make up the core. The muscles of the core are responsible for movement and stabilization of the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex (LPHC) or the core. So your abs are just as responsible for movement as they are for stopping movement in various directions. So why do most people train their core in one direction or with one goal in mind. You can't build a house on a unstable foundation. You must be able to control your body before you can set it in motion. Bottom line is a six-pack just means your body fat is low enough to see the muscles underneath. If you want to see these muscles, the best thing to do is to eat a lean and clean diet that is low in fat and calories. To see the side walk you have to shovel the snow. Its more about what your crunching in your mouth daily than crunching in the gym.

  5. All Push, No Pull. All Front, No Back - Well the example scenario goes like this - Joe the gym guy is sitting at his desk (for most of the day) at work leaves to head to the gym. He sits in his car for a 45-60 min commute to gym. The first thing Joe does is head straight to the bench press machine and lie down on his back or some other sitting machine based exercise. Don't see the problem with this, well neither does Joe? The problem is that he is training himself to be good at sitting and lying down. The larger muscles in legs, glutes, and core are very under trained and under developed due to being ignored during the workout. The other part of that is that bench press is a exercise that involves pushing the resistance away from the body. Most workouts I witness are dominated by pushing movements which leaves the posterior chain (back) of the body under trained and under developed. This is typical as most gym goers only work on the muscles they can see. I call this working on the "mirror" muscles. The problem with only working on the mirror muscles is its does not help you reach your goals, move better, decrease pain/injury, prevent pain/injury, or help in long term weight management. So make sure your exercise is well rounded and balanced. The back of your body is just as important as the front if not more.

So I hope this enlightened you a bit and made you aware of some common mistakes and how to address them. Always remember that EDUCATION and SAFETY always leads to RESULTS.

Stay tuned for the Top 5 Mistakes Outside the Gym which may be more important to help you reach your fitness goals.

Be Well.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Muscle Mayhem Chest I

Are you interested in a simple and quick exercise routine to get you going in morning or evening, challenge you, or just break up the monotony? You may have come to the right place. Give the Muscle Mayhem Chest a try. Its just four variations of push ups involving power, strength, endurance, and stability. Yeah I know some of you out there don't like push ups, but its a very simple and effective exercise that actually strengthens more than just the chest muscles.



I know in most places around this country school is out but in fitness we go to summer school. So here is some weekend homework for you. The program assumes a certain level of fitness (intermediate/advanced) but by all means modify the repetitions or variation of the exercise as necessary to best fit your level, but keep it challenging.

Download your printable copy here.

Remember that EDUCATION and SAFETY always leads to RESULTS.

Leave some feedback once you give it try.

Be Well.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Cardio Doesn't = Treadmill...



Most people when they think of cardio only think of the treadmill, as if the treadmill is a synonym for cardio. Let me check the Thesaurus just to be sure our friends as Websters didn't sneak that one in there. Nope not there. However what I did find was rather interesting and quite humorous.

According to Dictionary.com the word "treadmill" as a noun in synonymous with the word "grind" and had the following other synonyms: chore, drudgery, rut, labor, and with a definition as tedious job. Hmmmm... Now as a adjective it was synonymous with the word "humdrum" which is defined as "boring and uneventful" - wow that doesn't sound too good. Some other synonyms included: common, blah, toneless, and mundane to name only a few. Anyone ready to get on the treadmill now?

So what are some other options? I am glad you asked. My findings above are not great advertisements. Cardio has so many great benefits to the human body and there are so many other ways to reap those benefits that have nothing to do with the treadmill. At the core of it cardio is really about training your energy systems. Two of them are anaerobic (with oxygen) and the other is aerobic (with oxygen). So the goal or focus of cardio is really about training your aerobic energy system which will utilize mostly oxygen as energy. Most gyms have the standard stair masters, elliptical, and bikes (recumbent and standard). However I would recommend trying rowing, Versa climber, jumping rope, boxing, playing a sport, doing sprints, hiking, rollerblading, swimming, and maybe some agility ladder drills. The list goes on and on. This may be too simplistic but if the activity raises your heart rate and makes you breath hard - then it may qualify. Hopefully you get the point.

Now don't get me wrong the treadmill can be a very useful fitness tool, but the way most people looking to burn calories or drop some pounds use it isn't very effective. My point is to show you that you don't have to use the "dread-mill" sorry I mean "treadmill" if you don't have too. If you enjoy it great, but if you looking for something different to break up the monotony then the list is long. There are many activities that you could participate in and that can be a substitute for running on the treadmill for hours. Explore and fine out what you like. Share some cardio activities that you like or looking to try.

Remember that EDUCATION and SAFETY always leads to RESULTS.

Be Well.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Labels that Lie...



Well you probably already know you shouldn't believe everything you read, except for this blog of course. What I am actually referring to is the language, phrases, and words used on Nutrition Labels of foods. These labels are there to inform you the consumer what is in the food you are about to purchase or eat. However what many don't know is that how you interpret or define the words like "fat free", "zero calories", and "sugar free" to mean are not exactly how the Food and Drug Administration defines these terms. So I have taken it upon myself to increase your knowledge so you can be as informed and empowered as possible out there in the cold hard world of health and wellness.

Here is how the Food and Drug Administration defines some of the common used language and phrases on food packages that you may be surprised about:

FATS

  1. Fat Free = Less than 0.5 grams per serving.
  2. Low saturated fat = 1 gram or less per serving
  3. Low fat = 3 grams or less per serving
  4. Reduced fat = At least 25% less fat than regular version
  5. Light in fat = Half the fat of the regular version

CALORIES

  1. Calorie free = Less than 5 calories per serving
  2. Low calorie = 40 calories or less per serving
  3. Reduced or less calories = At least 25% fewer calories than regular version
  4. Light or lite = Half the fat or a third of the calories of regular version

SODIUM

  1. Sodium free or salt free = Less than 5 milligrams per serving
  2. Very low sodium = 35 milligrams or less per serving
  3. Low sodium = 140 milligrams or less per serving
  4. Unsalted or no salt added = No salt added to product during processing

SUGAR

  1. Sugar free - less than 0.5 grams per serving.

Well there you have it and there are more. If you want to know more you can checkout the FDA website for more details on how they define words on nutrition labels and packaging. http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/2lg-xa.html

So now that you are smarter and more knowledgeable - what are you going to do about it?

Well I say the easiest way to not have to be more confused about the FDA labels and nutritional facts is to just simply do your best to eat as close to nature as possible. If the majority of the foods you eat are in their natural form with very minimal processing if any, then you are on the right track. Live clean and eat clean.

Remember that EDUCATION and SAFETY always leads to RESULTS.

Post your comments below

Be Well.

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A Food Labeling Guide - IX. Appendix A

Monday, May 11, 2009

Diet Myths Busted...


Embedded from MSNBC.com

Time to bust up some more myths. I was watching TV while on vacation and caught this interview of Dr. Nancy Synderman on the Today Show on MSNBC. In the interview she discusses some of the common diet myths and diet truths that seem to get lost in translation or are misunderstood by many looking to shed some pounds or extra fat on their bodies.

Here are some of the myths and truths with my own explanation and advice.

  1. Myth: Calories Don't Count - Well if you have been reading my post or have worked with me you should already know that at the end of the day its all about calorie in and calories out. This is called "Energy Balance". You simple can't just consume all that energy and not get rid of it through physcial activity or exercise. There are on 3 outcomes to the food we eat - 1) Used for energy, 2) Stored for enegry, and 3) Removed. So consuming a excessive amount of calories that are not inline with your energy out put will show up in the energy storage category in specific places like you hips, abdominal, legs, or thighs. Watch the calories.

  2. Myth: Carbs are Good and Carbs are Bad - Well its both as Dr. Synderman explained. Cosuming more complex fiberous unprocessed carbohydrates are great for you and a requirement. The bodies primary source of fuel is from carbohydrates. The brain and the central neverous system (CNS) can only feed on glucose which is from carbs. Now the sweet, sugary, and high calorie laden foods like white bread, cake, cookies, and doughnuts need to be eaten very, very, sparringly as these are the bad carbohydrates. What makes them bad is that they don't give anything useful other than just calories in a large amount and few vitamins and minerals. Eat carbs but just the kind that don't melt in your mouth - this is usually a sign that it is a processed high calorie version. The kind you have to chew are better - try eating a big bowl of broccoli and see how long it takes you.

  3. Myth: You Can't Keep the Weight Off - Keeping the weight off goes back to the energy balance equation. You need to eat like you live. If you are not very active (you should be more active) then you should eat like someone about to run a marathon or climb Mt. Everest. Keep it off will become easier if living a healthy and balanced life - is your lifestyle. Did you hear get that - let me repeat. Keeping it off will become easiser will become eaiser if living a healthy and balance life - is your "Lifestyle". You have live it - not just be healthy for 6 months or a 1 year. Now one thing I didn't agree with that Dr. Synderman said was that "yo-yo" dieting won't hurt you. Actually dieting usually means you have lowered you caloric intake to extreme or borderline extreme levels and the weight you lost was mostly lean muscle rather than fat. By losing lean muscle you will in fact make a significant change to your metabolism - it will be lower, which will make gaining it after you return to your normal eating habits much easier. Don't lose weight - keep your lean mass - burn the fat.

  4. Myth: Eating After 8pm - Think about this - Does your body really know what time it is? I don't think so - so whats up with the time stuff. Truth is if your hungry or need to eat then eat. Now what you should eat and how much is important. Just be smart about it. We need to eat to live - we just need to do it in the right way.

  5. Myth: All White Foods are Bad - Absolutely not true. Nature has provide use with some great foods that are white such as bananas, cauliflower, dates, garlic, and potatoes. These foods are excellent sources of healthy calories, vitamins, and minerals. What we need to watch out for is the highly processed (man manipulated) white foods that are striped of there nutrients during processing. Check out one of my previous post about colors in foods.

I hope you have learned something about some of these commons myths that lead many down the wrong path of thinking and practices. Now use this information to correct any behaviors that are impacting your ability to reach your goals.

Remember that EDUCATION and SAFETY always leads to RESULTS.

Share you comments below.

Be Well.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Exercise Spotlight: Dumbbell Squats

Image Courtesy of Fitness Generator
START POSITION
  • Grasp DB’s and let your arms hang down at sides with palms facing hips.
  • Stand with feet slightly wider than hip width apart. Knees should be slightly bent

MOVEMENT

  • Lower body by flexing at the hips and knees
  • Upper body should only flex forward slightly during movement. Keep chest up.
  • Be sure to sit hips back and down so that knees don't go past toes.
  • Once thighs are parallel to floor, return to start position.
  • Activate (squeeze) glutes when returning to start position.

COACHING/SAFETY POINTS

  • Use a chair or bench to sit on as guide if needed.
  • Focus on keeping the core musculature drawn in or braced.
  • Maintain controlled breathing throughout the movement
  • Start will slow movements then progress speed as your abilities increase.
  • During the movement keep the chest up and spine neutral.
  • Focus on using the glutes to extend the hips
  • Focus on movement quality before increasing resistance.

TARGET

  • This is a lower body exercise focused on strengthening the glutes, quads, and core musculature.
  • This will improve your leg conditioning and strength in addition burns a lot of calories.
  • You will feel it in the muscles of your glutes, quads, core, shoulders, and arms.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Beginners - Light DBs / 15-20 Reps / Slow Tempo / 1-2 Sets
  • Intermediate - Medium DBs / 12-15 Reps / Medium Tempo / 2-3 Sets
  • Advanced - Heavy DBs/ 6-8 Reps / Fast Tempo / 3-5 Sets
  • Extra Kicker - add a explosive calf raise (as if you were going to jump) at the end of movement as to return to the starting position.

Give it a try and give me some feedback.

Remember that EDUCATION and SAFETY always leads to RESULTS.


Be Well.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I Can't Hear You...


"What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say" ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson.

So many people are attempting to lose weight or get more fit for the up incoming sunshine season - maybe just for better health. One of the biggest roadblocks or obstacles I see many struggling with is getting their actions in line with the idea. Ideas are easy to come up with, but once its time to get those hands dirty its much more difficult.

It all starts with your mindset. You have to understand that what really is stopping you from reaching your goals is "you". The biggest problem you will ever have in life is... Drum roll please... is You! The battle is You vs You. Once you find the power and the fortitude to get out of your own way - then you can't fail. Trust me. Change your focus from the final destination and focus on the things that are right in front of you, like your next healthy meal, your next healthy snack, and maybe what new fruits I can try to add to my life.

Nobody goes to sleep and wakes up fat or out of shape the next day. Its a process and the reverse is also true. Your current body and level of fitness is the result of the choices you made in the past, which are the result of the thoughts and beliefs you have running through you head all day. Until you change your mindset, your behavior will continue to be defined by that mindset. Ain't no half stepping your way towards your goals - you need to be all in. You can't exercise and workout hard, then totally set yourself back by either under eating or overeating. You can't cheat the science. Its not about being perfect either, you just need to do better and be better than you have been in the past - consistently enough to make a change.

Nothing comes without sacrifice. You will have to change something. Change is not a easy thing, however change is inevitable. In which direction you will change is all up you. I am your "Change Agent". I will show you how to get there and book your flights. Now all you have to do is board your flights. See you at the flight deck.

Make Up Your Mind; To Make Up Your Body®

Be Well.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Boozing and Not Losing?


I may get some hate mail or lose some friends from this post, but as a Fitness Professional its my duty to help people achieve better results from their fitness program. Here goes nothing... One of the barriers I see some struggling with is drinking alcohol. Alcohol consumption is the biggest drug problem in the United States today. Deeply ingrained into our society (no pun intended).

Most of the alcohol drinking takes place on the weekends at parties, social events, or just at home in your living room. However, the last time I checked weight gain, weight loss, and weight maintenance do not follow the 5 day a week calendar. Your body doesn't know its the weekend, your grandma's party, or BFF's wedding. All that your body knows is that you are consuming too many calories. Alcohol has 7 calories per gram, which is second to fat (9 calories per gram) and more than carbs and protein (4 calories per gram). If you are attempting to consume a specific range of calories in order to lose weight, consuming alcohol would make it harder. The numbers do not lie in this case. Anyone interested in weight loss or management must count these 7 calories per gram in their total intake. High alcohol consumption = high calorie consumption. We already know that at the end of the day it all comes down to calories in vs calories out.

Here are some examples:

  1. Coors Light or Bud Light 12 fl oz = 110 calories
  2. Budweiser and Coor’s “Extra Gold” 12 fl oz = 150 calories
  3. Martini 4.5 fl oz = 279-378 calories
  4. Patron Tequila 12 fl oz = 840 calories
  5. Red Bull & Vodka = 3 fl oz = 209 calories
Furthermore, alcohol interferes with the metabolism of protein and fat in the liver, and alcohol causes impaired production of enzymes created by the pancreas needed for fat metabolism. The result of this is that your body will have a strong tendency to store more body fat and a very hard time gaining or maintaining lean body mass. It doesn't matter whether you drink occasionally or frequently, the intake of alcohol has adverse effects no matter what. Aside from dehydrating your body, flushing out the very water your muscle needs to survive, alcohol also decreases protein synthesis, another integral part of muscle growth and maintenance.

Since alcohol is a toxin (poison), a host of physical abnormalities can arise. These abnormalities can reduce your strength, endurance, recovery capabilities, aerobic capacity, ability to metabolize fat, and muscle growth. The intoxicating ingredient is ethanol, a chemical compound that originates from the fermentation of grains. Although its been said that small amounts of alcohol have been shown to increase muscular endurance and strength output, these benefits are very short-lived. After approximately twenty minutes, problems begin to occur. The numerous negative side effects of alcohol outweigh its possible benefits to anyone. Talk about a "Results Killer..."

Bottom line is that "friends don't let friends kill results". Its time to take away those keys, that bottle cap opener, and that cork screw. Bring on the hate mail...

EDUCATION and SAFETY always lead to RESULTS.

Be Well.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Struggles of Women and Body Fat...


Many women looking to transform their bodies are frequently frustrated over the body fat that covers their muscles. From their vantage point it seems that no matter how hard they work, the process is slow and to no avail. In my experience the women work a lot harder at their results, than men work for theirs. Evidence of this truth can be seen that how men can consume more calories than women without gaining any weight and also lose weight much faster. So what is the problem... What gives...? Well the simply reason points to the biological differences that exist between men and women. The more complex reasons are specific to you and I will deal with that later. Some of them can be found here.

Body Composition

One of the differences that impact your ability to burn the fat is your body composition. This is simply the amount of lean body mass (muscle and bone) in comparison to fat mass (fat) that makes up your body. Men, in general, have more muscle mass, heavier bones and less body fat than women. Its these differences in muscle mass that allow men to burn more calories than women at rest. Women on the other hand have the ability to store fat more efficiently than men, despite eating fewer calories proportionately. This the reason to incorporate weight training into your program, which will help increase your lean body mass. Not the "5's" and "10's" dumbbells either - you will need to progressively challenge your body with the "15's", "20's" and "30's" in order to force the body to lay down more muscle tissue. You have to challenge yourself.

Physical Activity

In general women are less active than men. In a study where metabolism was measured men and women showed that the reason women's for low energy expenditure was due to fewer calories burned from physical activity. This involves anything from differences in jobs for men and women, and differences in household activities - generally speaking of course. Increase your physical activity by taking the stairs where possible, staying on your feet more during the day, and/or parking further away at the mall or grocery store. There are numerous ways to incorporate more movement daily.

Metabolism

To the contrary though there is actually little difference between men and women in overall metabolism. On average, women's total energy expenditure, which is the number of calories burned to fuel breathing, circulation, digestion, physical activity, and many other body processes, is approximately five to ten percent lower than men's. The lower overall energy expenditure can be explained by body composition.

Now with more calories expended at rest and more calories burned during activities—makes it easier for men to eat more without gaining weight and also to lose weight faster than women of a similar size. However at the end of the day, the differences in gender cannot trump hard work in the gym with the exercise and hard work out of the gym with the nutrition. Now these differences are not allow to be used as excuses - I will have none of that. Just focus on doing what you have to do now, so that you can do what you want to do later. Gain control of habits that do not move you forward towards goals. Hence the phrase... "drop it like a bad habit". Just understand that your journey and struggles are yours to own and experience. What you need to change in order to reach your goals are specific to you. This is what makes you unique. Some will have to work hard and some will have to work harder.

Be Well.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Work Harder; Not Longer...



Why do 1-2 hours of work, when you can do it in 15-30 mins. If I told you that I could give you something that could help you get more done in less time - would you want it? Yes, yes! give it to me. Well that something is called "interval training". The question now is do you still want it? I may have lost some people. Now I always say speed kills, but in this case, it kills fat.

What I am trying to get you to understand is that running on the treadmill for 1 - 2 hours at a pace that is considered the opposite of working hard, isn't the most of effective use of your time. Most people claim that they do not have ample time to dedicate to daily exercise, so why do I see that same person spending over 1 hour on the elliptical machine at the slow "I am watching TV" pace.

Some signs to look for as clues you need to work harder:

  1. If you can actually watch TV on those nice TV screens the gym owners conveniently placed in front of the treadmills.
  2. If you can send a text messages to all your friends while on the cardio equipment.
  3. If can you actually hold a meaningful conversation while on the cardio equipment.
  4. If your smiling while your on the cardio equipment
  5. If you maintain camera ready status for your photo shoot while doing your cardio

If you fall into one of those categories about then you need to increase the intensity of your workout. What this will do for you is result in more calories burned in a shorter period of time. "How can this be, that doesn't make sense?" you say.

In this study published by Canadian researcher and sports scientist Martin Giabala compared sprint intervals versus traditional endurance training over a two week period. Within the study the sprint interval group performed 4-6 rounds of 30 second all out sprints with 4 min allow for recovery time between rounds. The endurance training group perform 90-120 minutes of continuous exercise at 65% of VO2max (low intensity). Wow that is about 20 minutes of high intensity intervals compared to a possible 120 minutes of slow endurance work. The results of the study show equivalent improvements. Now this study only looked at performance changes in your aerobic capacity, and not calories burned, fat loss, and or body composition changes. I will share more research studies for those areas in the future, but for now you can see that higher intensity work can lead to the same improvements/results in a faster time.

So if you really want to get fit, you need to work harder, not longer. Most people are looking to spend the least amount of time in the gym as possible. So increasing the intensity of your workout will allow for you more bang for the buck in terms of time spent, and the higher-intensity exercise will surely more than double your calories burned.

Now only issue to consider is that higher intensity exercise isn't recommended for beginners. So start out at lower intensities, but just don't stay there. Once your in better condition higher intensity will allow you get back to your life.

Be Well.

Reference
Journal of Physiology,"Short-Term Sprint Interval versus Traditional Endurance Training: Similar Initial Adaptations in Human Skeletal Muscle and Exercise Performance," Sept 2006, Vol 575 Issue 3

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Not Just for Bodybuilders...

It appears there are some people out there that think that drinking protein shakes is just for body builders and those looking to gain muscle size (hypertrophy). This couldn't be further from the truth, but I understand where it comes from. Its rather similar to the idea that many women have about lifting weights, thinking they will bulk up - instantaneously right (sarcasm). My previous post "I Don't Want to Look Like A Man" explains the misconceptions in that area. Bulking up is simply not that easy - many men are trying to bulk up without success for various reasons, but I will address that in future post.

Back to our regularly scheduled program.

Protein is a macronutrient, made up of amino acids required in a healthy diet and is in no way exclusive to body builders. Protein helps in the growth and recovery of your muscle tissue. You need this because your muscle tissue is the active tissue of the body which helps burn huge amounts of calories at rest, awake, at work, and all over the place. Consuming protein should be a important part of your diet, even if your goals are to increase muscle mass, get bigger, stronger, lose weight(fat) and for overall maintenance.

Protein powder can come in a variety of forms such as whey, soy, or egg. In addition you can get 100% whey protein or whey protein/carb mix which will taste better due to the carbs included. I personally like the soy version with carbohydrates - the 100% protein requires that you mix it with something in order to stomach it - but that is just me. What is a key thing to understand though is the amount of protein you intake must match up with your goals. In addition the type of training and overall total caloric intake. Gaining muscle mass doesn't just take place because of excessive protein intake. Take caution not to engage in a high protein diet as there are significant side effects. Your carbohydrate and fat intake are just as important. Excessive calories make you gain weight not excessive protein. Excessive protein will just make you sick.

A Few Benefits of Consuming a Protein Shakes:
  1. Consuming a protein shake is much more convenient than eating other solid protein sauces when in the gym or on the go.
  2. Reduce the severity of muscle soreness, by aiding in the recovery process.
  3. Increases your percentage of lean muscle. (more muscle less fat)
  4. To act as a healthy meal replacement, with out all the fat like in animal protein sources.
  5. Maintain a healthy and fit body.
The overall thing to recognize is that protein is for everyone - even grandma, she needs to keep her lean body mass as well. Protein is necessary for all athletes - grannies and mommies too. So DO NOT believe the hype and think that someone attempting to lose weight(fat) shouldn't consume a protein shakes, thinking that it only for body builders. Protein is a requirement. Protein shakes are just a convenient and sensible way to consume the necessary amount in our daily lives. Protein helps to make sure the weight you lose is fat and what you keep is muscle.

Remember that EDUCATION and SAFETY always leads to RESULTS.

Be Well.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Exercise Spotlight: Kettlebell Swings

Image Courtesy of Fitness Generator
START POSITION
  • Hold one kettlebell between your legs with knees bent and chest up.
  • Body in bent over position with a staight back.

MOVEMENT

  • Begin by squatting down and swinging the kettlebell backwards between legs
  • Then forcefully swing the kettlebell forward to about chest height
  • By pushing the hips forward by squeezing the glutes.
  • There should be triple extension in hips, knees, and ankles.

COACHING/SAFETY POINTS

  • This is NOT a shoulder exercise. Moving the weight comes from the legs, glutes, and core musculature.
  • Focus on keeping the core musculature drawn in or braced.
  • Maintain controlled breathing throughout the movement
  • Start will slow movements then progress speed as your abilities increase.
  • During the movement keep the chest up and spine neutral.
  • Focus on using the glutes to extend the hips and NOT hyper extending the back.
  • A dumbbell can be used in place of a kettlebell if not available.
  • Focus on movement quality before increasing resistance.

TARGET

  • This is a total body exercise which can improve your conditioning, in addition burns a lot of calories.
  • You will feel it in the muscles of your glutes, hamstrings, core, shoulders, and upper back
  • This is a great portable exercise that you can pretty much do anywhere you have enough space.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Beginners - Light KB / 15-20 Reps / Slow Tempo / 1-2 Sets
  • Intermediate - Medium KB / 12-15 Reps / Medium Tempo / 2-3 Sets
  • Advanced - Heavy KB / 6-8 Reps / Fast Tempo / 3-5 Sets

Give it a try and give me some feedback.

Remember that EDUCATION and SAFETY always leads to RESULTS.

Be Well.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Fat Burning Foods?



Are there foods that actually help me burn more fat?
What is a fat buring food?

A fat burning food is a foods that basically burns more calories than the total calories of the food itself, as a result fighting stored fat. What most are not aware of is that eating burns calories. In order for you body to digest the food you eat, energy is required - this is called the "thermic effect of food". Now the key is that some foods require more energy that others to be digested. Protein has a higher thermic effect than carbohydrates and fats as it requires a lot from you body to break it down in to a usable form. There are many foods that can help you lose weight as part of your overall diet. For instance, oatmeal, fruits, and veggies have great sources of fiber and other important nutrients to increase your metabolism.

Here is some other fat fighting foods that you may not be eating:

  1. Cayenne Pepper
    Cayenne triggers a thermodynamic effect, meaning it will slightly increase your heart rate and metabolism. Other spicy foods can have a similiar effect to help you burn extra calories. Now don't go adding peppers to your pizza, fries, or bacon burger dog, the fat burner effects can't win against that much fat. Shout out to Warrior Flexy for the smoothie. It was great and those peppers were hot!

  2. Cinnamon
    Cinnamon helps you metabolize sugar. In turn, your body’s decreased blood sugar level can reduce the amount of sugar that's stored as fat. Store less fat, look leaner. Use it to add flavor to your fruits.

  3. Green Tea
    Well since every is going green for one reason or another. Try going green with your tea. Green Tea is high in antioxidants, has a high thermal effect which can rev up your metabolism. Try adding a cup or two as part of your mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack instead of that coffee with half/half and splenda.

  4. Almonds
    Like many nuts, almonds are high in monounsaturated fat (good fat), which has shown to have a connection with lowering your cholesterol and your overall weight. Plus they are easy store at your desk for an easy and quick snack anytime. Try the raw almonds, there isn't any need for the salt and sugary honey glazed kind.

  5. Apples
    The saying "A apple a day can keep the doctor away" has some truth to it. In apples pectin in prevents the cells from absorbing the fat; in addition encourages water absorption from the food which helps in releasing the fat deposits from the body. Got to love that apple my favorites are Fuji and Gala.

  6. Oranges
    Fruits high in vitamin C such as limes, lemons, guava, grapefruit and tangerines have fat burning charateristics. Vitamin C will dilute fat and makes it less effective and plays a big role in releasing the fat from the body. I am big fan of grapefruits.

Now to be clear. Fat burning foods are not meant to replace consistent productive exercise and sensible nutrition daily. These foods should be used to go along with exercise and a healthy diet. Bottom line is takes 3500 calories to burn 1 lb of fat. This means that you need to have a consistent negative energy balance between your food intake and energy expediture to burn the fat. So try to incorporate some of these power foods into your nutrition plan and fight the fat.

Be Well.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

When, What, and How Much



If really want to get lean and healthy you need to read this. When it comes to nutrition I think many over complicate it. There are so many diets and nutrition schemes out there. The truth is that it simply comes down to 3 simple questions. What, when, and how much? Its that simple folks.

When?
What I am attempting help you understand is that your body can only store approximately four hours’ worth of fuel, so the standard three meals daily will just leave you with six or more hours between meals running on 'E'. This still applies if you are making healthy choices, your body will still run out of necessary fuel.

The solution is to maintain a balanced breakfast and dinner, but instead of having just one lunch at midday, have two lunches, one in the late morning and the other in the early afternoon. The goals is to keep the body fueled throughout the day without the dry spells.

What?
Focus on including all 3 of the following at each meal:
  1. Quality lean protein to help repair and regenerate all the cells and tissues in the body. Examples of this are chicken, turkey, fish, pork, beef, egg whites, whey protein, and low-fat dairy products.

  2. Clean Carbohydrates to supply the body with energy and healthy fiber. Examples of this would include all-natural (minimally processed) and 100% whole-grain sources, including rice, pasta, potatoes, cereals, breads.

  3. Fruits and Veggies for powerful nutrients, vitamins, and fiber. The more fresh and colorful the better.

How Much?
When you eat this way you can rest assured that your body is getting an adequate amount of nutrients and energy, which will prevent your body from ever consuming its own muscle tissue as an energy source. This in turn will keep your metabolism working more efficiently focused on burning fat.

  1. Fist-size serving of fruits and veggies
  2. Fist-size serving of clean carbs
  3. Palm-size serving of lean protein

Your body protects itself from the threat of starvation by storing excess body fat, which is really stored energy. So what you really need to understand is that you body is really storing the fat because you not giving it what it needs. It doesn't know that you are in a long meeting or traveling, to your body all those things mean the same thing. So when you haven't eaten in over 3-4 hours you body will be begin to protect itself by storing fat and not burning it. Also because you haven't eaten your glucose (carbs) level is low, so the next thing in line is lean muscle (protein). See the body doesn't contain any enzymes to convert fat into carbohydrate (glucose) in order to feed the nervous system and metabolism. However the body does contain enzymes that allow it to convert protein into glucose.

Bottom line is this is what you need to avoid and control. This is the key. Protect your lean muscle, keep the body feed with lean protein, clean carbs, and fresh fruits and veggies. Begin to ask yourself these 3 questions when planning your next meal. When, What, and How Much?

Be Well.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Biscuits, Steaks & Heartbreaks...

Time to face the fats! Fat is an important nutrient that the body uses for growth and development, but should be eaten in moderation. While fat is necessary and essential for proper health, some types of fats can damage the function of your heart over time. In addition it can be counterproductive in your quest for weight loss and/or weight management.

Artery-clogging fats that increase the risk include saturated fat and trans fat. Saturated fat comes mainly from animal sources like meat and dairy products, but it can also be found in coconut and palm oils. Trans fat comes from hydrogenated vegetable oils like margarine and vegetable shortening. Both saturated fats and trans fats stay solid at room temperature.

Therefore, saturated fats and trans fats are the only fats that we should attempt to eliminate from our diet - especially trans fat.

So the general recommendation is to reduce your total fat intake to 30 percent of your total daily calories, and limit saturated fat to less than 10 percent. This can be done by limiting your intake of high-fat foods, deep-fried foods and snacks made with hydrogenated oils, as they contain trans fats.

Don't be friends with the Bad Fats Brothers. Overall fat isn't the enemy - calories are the real enemy - make sure your burning more that you eat.

Be Well.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Stage is Yours...


No, no... I don't want you to "Rock the Mic". I want you to speak your mind and share your thoughts.

I want to start my first post of this year by giving you the floor. I want to hear from you as the real expert on you is... (Drum roll please!) YOU! (Where is Dr. Phil when you need him)

  • What's on your mind?
  • What do you want to know?
  • What are you struggling with in your fitness and nutrition program?
  • What has helped you reach your goals or get you closer to your goals?
  • Exercise and Nutrition guidance
  • Etc...

This is your opportunity to get answers to your questions and proven solutions to a problem as it relates to reaching and achieving your goals in health and wellness.

There is so much misinformation out there—I would like to help you clear the air and get to the facts not just opinion. The bottom line is most of issues are due to lack of knowledge and the wrong mindset.

I will compile your questions and ideas and respond with answers directly or in the coming posts.

What say you?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Be Well.

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