It's a funny thing, depending on who you ask, fitness can be defined in so many different ways.

Ask your everyday weight lifter and they'll tell you fitness is about big muscles and how much you can bench or bicep curl.

Ask a distance runner and they'll tell you fitness is about shaving time off of their distance; getting faster

Ask a yoga enthusiast and they'll talk about being able to hold a certain pose for a period of time.

Ask a mixed martial arts fighter and they'll tell you fitness is a combination of things, ranging from cardio conditioning, to flexibility, to a certain level of physical strength.

You know who is right?

They all are!

That's why it's so important that you be clear about what fitness means to you.  Because if your idea of fitness matches the mixed martial artist, running long distances and being concerned about shaving time off your best is probably not going to give you the results you want.

If you're serious about wanting to achieve your goals, it's hugely important that you pick workouts and eating programs that support your efforts.

I suspect if you're reading this blog then your goal is not the same as a distance runner, nor a yoga enthusiast.  You want to get out of pain, or transform your body now!

For those of you looking to get lean in as short a time as possible, check out this link: The End to Ordinary Cardio.

Need more motivation and an alternative cardio routine?  Check out this link: The Ultimate 8 Week, HITT, For Fat Burning Program.

And since I like to over deliver quality information, here's one more for the record:  Jump Start Your Metabolism

The above 3 links should get you in shape quickly, still in time to show off your transformed body.

So --

Get On Track and Stay On Track!
Let me first say a big Thank You to all of you that wrote in wanting more information on target heart rate.  I very much appreciate the opportunity to answer your questions so that you can get the results you deserve.

No one goes through their workout for the fun of it.  If you put the time, energy, and sweat into it you expect results, right?

What's that old saying -- Time is the currency of the 21st century.  So none of us has any time to waste doing things that don't get results.

Here's the answers to the questions I received this past week.

  • What's the big deal about the amount of time spent doing steady state cardio for weight loss?

Did you know that there is a 50-90% injury rate in the first 6 weeks for those just starting a serious exercise program?

Why?

Because most people just starting out are not prepared physically for what most programs suggest as the best way to lose body fat.  And yes, you guessed it, most programs suggest hours and hours of steady state cardio.  All those hours and miles do serious damage to the lower back, hip joints, and knees.  That's what makes interval training so effective -- it challenges you more as you get better.

  • In my previous blog I mentioned the inaccuracy of the standard 220 - age to determine your heart rate zones.  The variance of 10-12 beats for 70% of the population versus 20-24 beats for 30% of the population is important because it means the difference between not training intensely enough to get results versus risking too much intensity. 

Plain and simple it's dangerous to not wear your own heart rate monitor and not know the range that works for you. Rather than spend hours beating your lower body into oblivion, use cardio intervals to decrease your overall hours doing cardio, and increase your results.  One of the few cases where less will equal more.  Sounds like a good deal to me.

  • Why are weight lifting circuits more effective in burning fat and maintaining lean muscle?

Just doing steady state cardio does not tell your body to preserve your valuable muscle tissue.  In fact, in some cases steady state cardio will have you lose lean muscle tissue. The more lean muscle tissue you have the higher your resting metabolism (remember when you burn fat as the primary fuel source), so you want to keep as much as possible.  Weight lifting circuits tell your body to maintain the lean tissue because it needs it to lift weights, but get rid of the body fat because it decreases your efficiency.  Remember, your body's goal is go get efficient at whatever you tell it to do. So you want to maintain lean tissue and get rid of unhealthy body fat.

So there you have it.  Even more reasons to stop the useless hours of doing steady state cardio and start doing cardio intervals and/or weight lifting circuits.  You'll lose body fat quicker, look better, have more energy, and decrease your risk of injury compared to hours of steady state cardio.

Get On Track and Stay On Track!
  TGIF!

Hope you've had a great week.  I thought it was time to get back to some good old fashioned exercise examples.  Remember, part of staying motivated and part of breaking through plateaus quickly, is exercise variety.  The more you can challenge your body effectively, the more you will continue to progress and transform. 

So since the warmer weather is upon us, it's time to kick it up a notch.  I'm sure you're familiar with the all too common lunge.  Great exercise for shaping the butt, building hip and glute strength, and it's one of the basic movements the human body is supposed to be able to do effectively.

Well, here's little a twist to add to it.  I think you'll find it's a heck of a lot harder than it looks.  Provides a great core challenge as well as good kick in the butt!

Check back with me in two weeks for another exercise to put in your own training locker.  The more movements you have, the more you stay motivated and making progress.

I know I'm going to ruffle some more feathers out there by posting this, but hey, I'm here to help you get real information that will help you make choices and take actions that will get results! 

I'm not here to just tell you what you want to hear.  No, I want you to hear the truth, with evidence, and be able to make an informed choice from there.

I realize that will not necessarily make me the most exciting or popular person out there.  But for those brave enough and serious enough about making changes in their bodies, by getting out of pain or transforming their body -- those people will appreciate this post.

I recently received this question that made me realize how many people out there are still using the heart rate info on machines as guides on how to transform their bodies.  So let me give the truth.

In reference to the heart rate ranges posted on exercise equipment.  They identify what your targeted heart rate should be if you want to burn fat, etc. based on your age.  In my case, my heart rate while exercising is ALWAYS higher than that "fat burn" range. I would have to significantly slow down my pace in order to fall within that range.  If my heart rate is not within that range, am I not burning calories efficiently?  Is there a lot of merit to those targeted heart rate ranges?  If I am not sweating, I don't feel like I am working hard. -- Nikkie

Target Heart is highly flawed.  I have personal experience with contacting the user of some of these formulas and they had no real idea why they used them accept to say, "They were the popular tools used at the time".  Guess it really doesn't answer why once they see the flaw they continue to use antiquated information.

To the point.

  • Target heart rate is inaccurate for 70% of the population by 10-12 beats per minute.  Not such a big deal right.  But get this, for 30% of the population it's off by 20-24 beats per minute.  That is a big deal.  Knowing which group you fall into can only be found by using your own heart rate monitor.

  • The Fat burning zone is supposed be the heart rate range where you will supposedly burn the most fat calories.  Truth is, it cannot predict this.  At best it can only partially suggest a percentage of use of fat, carbohydrates and protein.

  • You burn the most fat at rest.  The more intense an exercise is, the more carbohydrates will be used as the primary fuel source.


Low Intensity - 60-65% MHR High Intensity - 80-85% MHR
Total Calories expended per min. 4.86 6.86
Fat Calories expended per min. 2.43 2.7
Total Calories expended in 30 min. 146 206
Total Fat calories expended in 30 min. 73 82
Percentage of fat calories burned 50% 39.85%

From The 24/5 Complete Personal Training Manual, 24 Hour Fitness, 2000



I think this chart simply and accurately explains why using intervals (alternating periods of fast and slow) instead of the steady state "fat burning zone" cardio, is the most effective way to shed body fat quickly and effectively.

Slow, steady state cardio just doesn't cut it when it comes to losing body fat quickly and effectively.  Not to mention the wear and tear on the knees, hips, and lower back.

And this is the part that everyone seems to forget so readily -- what happens after that intense exercise circuit you just finished, or that extremely challenging cardio interval session.  There's something called EPOC.  Which basically discusses the amount of calories being burned after an intense session of training that can last up to 3 days later.

You will be burning more calories after intense training session because your resting metabolic rate is higher (you won't get that from "fat burning zone" cardio).  And if you'll remember, when do you use fat as the main source of fuel -- AT REST!

And if that wasn't enough information to convince you, check out this article The Final Nail in the Cardio Coffin.

Get On Track and Stay on Track!
I know you thought I forgot about you, but I didn't.  Putting the finishing touches on my packing as I am headed out for a much needed week of relaxation.  But I didn't want to leave you hanging without some more fuel for your arsenal.

Since this post is for Friday, that means it's time to share some solid exercises with you to make sure you're ready for the summer weather and lots of activity.

Way too often people believe they have to go to a gym to get a good workout.  The two movements I share with you today prove you don't have to have a gym membership to transform your body.

Try them out and as usual, let me know what you think.

I know I tend to go on and on about the big marketing machine.  How they are not working towards our healthful improvement, but are in fact leading us astray on many occasions. 

Remember how I frequently comment that they are in business to sell products not improve your overall health.  Check out this article.  It's well worth the read and has some serious surprises regarding what foods claim to be healthy and are not.

Foods With Health Benefits, or So They Say

I don't know about you, but that article was quite a wake-up call about the concerns we all should have about marketing and what they claim.

Switching gears a bit, have you heard about the rising amount of people with Gluten allergies?  You may be affected and don't even know it.  Check out this article to get more info on how you can help yourself.

Belly Fat Caused by Glutens and Gluten Allergies

And lastly, let me share some quick and ready to use tips on how to decrease high blood pressure, bad cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.

7 Ways to Reduce High Blood Pressure, Bad Cholesterol and Blood Sugar Levels

3 more ways to help you and/or someone you know -- Get On Track and Stay On Track!
May
13
2011
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Last week I shared with you two starter circuits to get you up and running.  How did it go?  If you had a chance to try them out, I'm sure you found they were a bit more challenging than they looked.  But oh, what a great calorie burn.  Putting you one step closer to being ready for summer.

Well this week I want to share with you some intermediate level circuits.  Don't let the length of the circuit or the movements chosen fool you.  I promise they are a great deal more difficult than they appear.  Especially if you're doing them as prescribed.

Except for Jump Rope, each of the movements should be done for 12-15 reps.  Figure 3-4 times through the entire circuit.

Circuit 3

Squats (with flavor)
Lateral Raises
Split Squats
Push ups
Deadlifts
Back (seated row)
Step up to balance and shoulder press
Bicep Curls (dumbbell)
Tricep Push-downs
Jump Rope --- 70-100 times

Circuit_3_Cheat_Sheet.pdf

Circuit 4
Flat Dumbbell Press
Lat Pull-downs
Step-ups
Lateral Raises
Bicep Curls (barbell)
Breast Stroke
Lunges (forward and backward)
Deadlifts
Jump Rope
Tricep (face down on bench -- kick backs)
Split Squat



What you'll notice is that the circuits I have shared with you thus far are largely focused on the primary 6 movements that the human body performs each day.  The goal is to get you very efficient at performing these movement patterns before we take to more complicated movements -- for instance using suspension straps.

My whole concern is that I provide you with foundational movements so you can become solid in them first, and then provide you with more challenging movements in your circuits.

I'm a big believer in progressions -- meaning starting with the basics first and then progressing to more difficult moves.  As I said in last weeks post, all too often people want to do the most visually appealing movements/exercises right off.  That is a recipe for injury.  And when you're injured you can't train.  So let's do this the right way and make sure you get the job done right.
It seems like every time I turn around there is yet another pseudo-science article out that just doesn't seem to hold water no matter how you try to look at it.  I mean really now, if taking a magic pill or wearing special shoes actually worked by themselves why do we still have a climbing obesity rate? 

Marketing is to sell products, not results. 

And yes, I do realize these infomercials show supposed results from real users of the product.  But let me assure you, just using the product was not the only modification they made to get those results.  Need an opinion other mine?  Check this out:

Fat Burning Myths Exposed

Over the years, I've read my share of articles when it comes to losing weight.  We all know the calories in versus calories out theory.  But I think this next link has hit on something very important and deeper than just the same old run of the mill approach.

The Real Reason You Can't Lose Weight

And finally, as you'll recall last week when I shared with you how belly fat actually can be more dangerous to your health than fat being stored elsewhere on your body. This article takes it one step further and gives you 12 ready to use steps to cut your cancer risk now!

12 Easy Ways to Slash Your Cancer Risk (and Your Waistline)

So there you have it.  More Tips, Tricks and Truths to help you get healthier and achieve that summer body before the warmer weather gets here.

Get On Track and Stay On Track!
Well over the past year I've shared a wealth of information on how you can take yourself from OK to excellent. 

You've got a do-it-yourself exercise kit, plenty of core exercises to get that midsection in shape, and a boatload of lower back stretches to make sure you stay pain free. 

But looking over all of this I realized there is one important component still missing -- circuits.  I mean it's all well and good to have lots of movements to keep yourself out of pain, but how do you put it all together to take yourself to the next level -- right?

Well this month I will share with you some circuits you can do on your own, typically with minimal equipment, to make sure you'll have your body transformed before the warm weather officially arrives.  Keeping in line with how you should train, I will start off this week by providing you a couple of basic circuits to get you started.  Then each week move up the ladder of difficulty.

Don't make the mistake I see so many people at the gym make, trying to do the most difficult exercises they can find, just because they saw someone with a great physique doing them.  Start off easy and then progress to more difficult movements/exercises.  And most importantly to remember when it comes to doing circuits -- it's not the movements, but the sequencing of movements that's really the secret.  What order you place your movements/exercises is really the key to getting a good workout.

Here are your first two circuits to get you started:

Circuit 1
  • Squats (with flavor -- on my you tube channel)
  • Rear Deltoids
  • Lunges (back) (you tube channel)
  • Bicep Curls (dumbbell)
  • Deadlifts (you tube channel)
  • Triceps
  • Y, T, M (see link to website below)
  • Lunges (back)
  • 1-Arm Row


Circuit 2
  • Squat (with flavor -- on my you tube channel)
  • Chest Press (dumbbell)
  • Rear Deltoids
  • Lunge (back) to Bicep Curls
  • Deadlifts
  • Triceps
  • Pull-Ups
  • Lunge (back) to Shoulder Press
  • Breast Stroke (see you tube channel)
  • Jump Rope (60-100 times around)

Circuit_2_Cheat_Sheet_--_Blog_Post_5-6-2011.pdf

Each of these movements should be done for 10-15 repetitions.  And as is consistent with a circuit, move from one exercise to the next, until the entire circuit is completed.  Take a 2-3 minute break and start the cycle over again.  Do this for 2-3 times through the entire circuit.  Depending on your fitness level, figure 2-3 times per week should give you quite a workout.

Don't forget to check out my You Tube Channel, or the Rehab Section of my website, if you need a video reminder of some of the movements.

Let me know how these work for you.
Just this morning I was approached by a regular I know from the gym asking how to get rid of shoulder and elbow pain.  He was complaining of numbness running down his arm and just an overall ache. He admitted having the habit of sleeping on his shoulders, and leaning to that same side while watching TV in his favorite chair. And of course still insists on doing heavy bench press with a barbell. 

I helped him understand that it was quite possible that the elbow pain he was experiencing was likely due the the lack of alignment in his shoulder.  And it may be possible that merely stretching and aligning his shoulder could allow his elbow to reset itself.  If not, I had an excellent sports chiropractor I could refer.

Knowing him, I realized I was not likely going to talk him out of doing heavy bench press with a barbell.  At least not yet anyway. 

So I gave him a little taste of what I've been sharing you all this past month. We first went through some specific rotator cuff movements to warm the shoulder capsule.  Then I showed him some general stretches to open up the chest and shoulder area.  Followed by the movements from my previous posts this month, as well as the one below.

Whether it's to get rid of pain or avoid having it in the first place, don't neglect your shoulder -- rotator cuff work. 

Here's this week's shoulder saver.