Saturday, September 29, 2012

Weekend Workout #18

Today's workout is going to be a metabolic CORE workout.  We are going to torch those abs with several movements to tone up the mid-section, while shedding many calories.  You will need the use a medicine ball (8lbs or less for women, and 8lbs or more for men), but if you are doing this outdoors and don't have a ball you can still do them.

Warm up for about 5-10 minutes with some easy cardio exercises...
*Jumping jacks
*Jog in place with high knees
*Side shuffles (both directions twice) - 20 yards
*Karaoke (both directions twice) - 20 yards

If you are doing this without the medicine ball, I have listed an alternative exercise you can do next to the ones that must require the use of a ball.  All other exercises can be done with or without the medicine ball.

Perform each exercise for 30 seconds with as minimal rest between each exercise as possible.  Once you complete the entire circuit, rest 1 - 1.5 minutes and repeat.  If you are new to exercising, stick with one set. However, if you are an abs "master" shoot to complete 3 sets.  When you are done, go home and check out your 6-pack abs in the mirror.

Here is a useful exercise tool to help keep you pushing the entire exercise time until the full 30 seconds is up. You won't have to guess how much time has elapsed, and you won't have to keep looking at your watch for the time.
Gymboss Interval Timer
It's easy to operate and helps you to get the most out of your metabolic workout.

Here is the CORE circuit:

1.  Burpees w/o pushups
2.  Russian Twists
3.  Ball Slams OR crunches (if no ball)
4.  Good Mornings
5.  Mtn Climbers
6.  Hip Press (feet on ball) or on ground if no ball
         a.  2 feet on ball (beginner/intermediate)
         b.  1 foot on ball (advanced)
7.  Figure 8's (in/out of legs like a basketball move)
8.  Y-Squats (holding ball above head with straight arms, or if not using ball hold arms out in a "Y" position)
9.  Side-to-Side Ball Slams OR side plank with hip press (if no ball)
10.  Ball Tosses OR hanging knee tucks (if no ball)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Vegetarian foods to help build muscle

We've all heard that vegetarian's don't get enough protein in their diet, and as a result, will have a hard time building muscle.  You may be a vegetarian, or know of someone who is, and I want to give you some vegetarian foods that will allow you  (or your friend) to be able to still pack on muscle just like your non-vegetarian counterpart.



Not only will these foods help you build muscle but they are a great staple to most diets (regardless if you are vegetarian).

Green lentils

Here are 10 foods to help build muscle and stay lean.

1.  Quinoa -24g of protein per cup
2.  Hemp/Rice Protein Powder - an alternative to whey protein powder
3.  Steel-Cut Oats - loaded with fiber and protein
4.  Chia Seeds - full of Omega-3's, which help reduce inflammation and speed muscle recovery
5.  Almonds - the prefect snack food
6.  Collard Greens - packed full of vitamins A, B, C, E, K and Folate
7.  Black Beans - one of the most nutrient-packed beans
8.  Lentils - loaded with protein and fiber
9.  Avocados - full of heart-healthy fats to increase testosterone
10.  Cauliflower - contains about 30% protein and is loaded with vitamins

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Client Profile

A few months ago, I wrote about one of my client's success stories.  Today, I want to share another one of my clients, Frances Dye.  Frances came to me a few months ago without a specific goal other than to stay healthy for her age and lose a little weight, Frances is 73.  She is the oldest client I currently work with, but she has the personality of a 30 year old.

performing deadlifts with 50 lbs.

We work together 2 x week focusing mostly on improving her balance through dynamic movements (using TRX, BOSU ball, and her own bodyweight), as well as continuing to improve her strength (mostly with dumbbells, resistance bands, and TRX).   When we first started her balance was a little shaky as she struggled doing forward lunges.  She had weak abdominal strength and very little leg strength.  Both have improved tremendously over the last few weeks.

performing a TRX tricep press, look at that form!

Frances tends to want to give up easily while performing an exercise, but I have to constantly give here a little bit of encouragement and motivation to get a little more out of her.  I don't think she realizes the improvement s she has made.  To me they are obvious.

performing a chest press using pully's

Working with Frances has been a blast.  It's allowed me to learn how to work with the senior populations and expand on my training tools.  I work with her 30-minutes per session, but the time seems to go by so fast.  

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Weekend Workout #17

Today's workout is going to require some equipment, so it will be best performed in the gym rather than outdoors.  The equipment you will need are minimal:  Kettlebell, and a Row Machine.

I recently did this workout with one of my clients, completing 3 rounds, and she was exhausted.  Depending on your fitness level, I would suggest you aim to complete 2-5 rounds.

You're going to move from one exercise to the next without resting, then after completing the final (4th) exercise of each round, rest 1 minute (to the point where your breathing has almost returned to normal).  Since there are only 4 exercises, you should work at 90% of max effort.  You will do a certain amount of reps per round; each round doing a few less reps (or a few less meters).

Make sure you stay hydrated during this workout.  I would suggest you have some water or Gatorade handy to sip between rounds.  A good 10 minute warm up is critical, especially since you will be exerting near-max effort.  Doing some easy jogging, some karaoke, a few squats, and even doing a few of the exercises that will be performed during the workout.  If you need longer than 10 minutes to feel warmed up, by all means do what works best for you.

**Beginners may want to reduce the number of reps each round or only complete rounds 3 and 4.

Round 1

20 Kettlebell Swings (2 hands)
40 Jumping Jacks
15 Pushups
500m Row (set at level 10 resistance)

Round 2

15 Kettlebell Swings (2 hands)
30 Jumping Jacks
12 Pushups
500m Row

Round 3

10 Kettlebell Swings (2 hands)
20 Jumping Jacks
10 Pushups
250m Row

Round 4 (this round should be an all-out effort)

5 Kettlebell Swings (2 hands)
10 Jumping Jacks
5 Pushups
150 m Row

Make sure to cool down easy for 10 minutes (walking on treadmill or outside) and do some stretching, especially for the low back.  From all of the KB swings and rowing you low back will most likely be a little stiff.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Resting to gain

In order to maximize your strength and muscle gains, you need to let your body rest and repair itself.  There are several ways that you can do this, and I am going to discuss just a few in this post.

When we think of building muscle, the first (and sometimes only) thing we think of is to lift weights. All though this is true, it's only half the equation.  Recovery is just as important.  When lifting weights, it creates small tears in the the muscle tissue, and not allowing for adequate recovery time could slow down the repair of those tissues; and often times leading to injury.  It's best to give yourself one day of rest between hard workouts.

Here are 4 ways of recovery to help aid in muscle gain, and reduce Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

1.  Sleep - Your body does amazing things to your muscles while you sleep.  The most important is that it  repairs tissues by producing growth hormones.  According to researchers in Brazil, not getting enough sleep can increase muscle LOSS by up to 60%.  Try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

2.  Increase Calories - That is, on workout days.  Todd Durkin, C.S.C.S, recommends that you increase your calorie count up to 300-500 calories on workout days.  Your metabolism begins to increase as you lift weights, so therefore you need to get adequate calories to replenish that energy and repair the tissues.  You will want to get enough calories form protein as well, as protein is the building block of muscle.  Research suggest that eating 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight is sufficient for maximum results.

3.  Foam Roll / Massage - When you lift weights your body builds up scar tissue.  By getting  massage or doing some foam rolling it can help break up this scar tissue, which will help speed the repair process.  You only need to foam roll for about 5 min.

4.  Cold Bath - If you have the pain tolerance, you can soak your body in a cold bath (50-60 degree water temp) for about 5-12 minutes.  It's best if you can soak immediately after your workout to help reduce inflammation.  Scientists in Ireland say that it reduces DOMS by nearly 50%, which results in faster healing and feeling fresh again for those tough workouts.

Here is another article you can read for muscle recovery

I have used all forms of recovery for my training and competing, and I can say that they all play a very important role and have all worked.  If you only used one of these practices, I would suggest that you aim for more quality sleep.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Using food journals to help you lose weight

Do you want to lose weight?  If you answered yes, continue reading.  If no, then don't waste your time reading this post.

For those looking to lose weight (in particular women), using a food journal has been shown to help lose excess weight.  In a recent study conducted by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC), they determined that women who want to lose weight "should avoid skipping meals and eating in restaurants - especially at lunch.  One interesting fact that they found was that the total calorie restriction was more important than eating low fat or low carbohydrate diets.

According to Anne McTiernan, lead researcher for FHCRC, the study found several behaviors that supported calorie reduction.

1.  "women who kept food journals consistently lost about 6 more pounds than those who did not".
2.  "women who reported skipping meals lost almost 8 pounds fewer than women who did not".
3.  "women who ate out for lunch at least weekly lost on average 5 fewer pounds than those who ate out less frequently".

I have listed a few great websites that make keeping an online food journal easy.  I have used for many years and I can honestly say that if you take the time to enter your food you will be amazed by how easy it works.  The most important thing I learned from doing this was how deficient I was on certain nutrients/minerals.  I wasn't necessarily looking to lose weight, I was more concerned that I was getting enough calories for the rigorous training that I was doing.  Which leads me to another reason these sites are so useful.

For athletes looking to perform at their best, getting adequate amounts of the proper nutrients (carbs, protein, fats) is crucial for success.  Below are my favorites, in order of recommendation.

My Fitness Pal
Anytime Health

For those who operate solely with their I-Phone or Android, here are the FREE apps I found to be best...

My Fitness Pal
Lose It!
Calorie Counter by Fat Secret

When keeping a food journal there are 4 things to keep in mind.

1.  Be honest - make sure you record everything in each meal, including the oil you used for cooking
2.  Be accurate - if you can, try to measure as many food items as possible.  Guessing the amount can lead to a couple hundred calories difference
3.  Be complete - make sure to include toppings and condiments used to make foods
4.  Be consistent - always have your journal (or phone) with you, especially when eating out

The thing I learned from using the food journal was that I became more aware of the total calories in certain foods I would eat on a consistent basis.  After a few weeks I was able to know (without having to rely on the journal) how many calories I was eating.  You don;t have to be dependent on food journals, but hey are a very useful tool to get you started or to keep you accountable.  Good luck!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

USPS "Forever Stamps"

I just recently read that the USPS has come out with a new stamp to promote physical activity.  What better way to support something that encourages a healthy lifestyle.  And better yet, they are doing it through a new series of forever stamps with cycling the theme.

The four stamps that are available to choose from include:

1.  Child learning to ride a bike with training wheels
2.  Commuter riding to work
3.  Road racer
4.  BMX rider

To order one of these stamps, visit this site, or you can call 800-782-7624.

I have to say that I have been impressed with the USPS level of support for cycling and a healthy lifestyle.  They are aware that riding a bike can lower one's risk of obesity, heart disease, and breast cancer as well as improve muscle strength.  Their support/sponsorship for the United States Postal Service lasted several years (during many of Lance Armstrong's Tour victories) and the recognition they received from the exposure was well deserving.  It's great to see our government proudly using cycling as an advocate to send a clear and loud message that we as a society need to participate in more physical activity on a daily basis.

Now pick up the phone (or tap away from your computer) and order some stamps and show your support for health as well.

Monday, September 17, 2012

What do the produce codes mean?

You have probably seen labels (stickers) on produce items in the grocery store and wondered what they mean.  Well I am going to "crack the codes" for you.

The little stickers, also known as product lookup codes (PLU), are used to make check out and inventory control much easier and accurate for supermarkets.    They are also used to identify bulk produce. The codes indicate how the produce was grown (conventional, organically, or genetically), what the item is, it's size, as well as where it was grown.

Being able to read and understand what these codes mean may help you make a better decision when purchasing produce.  There is even this helpful link you can go to to learn more about produce.  Can you believe that there are more than 1400 universal PLU's assigned to produce?

Here are some simple numbers to pay attention to at the market.

"9" - produce was grown organically

"8" - produce was genetically modified

"0" or four-digit code - produce was grown conventionally

I would recommend choosing an organically grown produce item for any fruit or vegetable that does not have a skin to peel before eating.  Many supermarkets are now separating their conventional/genetically modified produce section from their organically grown produce section.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

September Health Questionnaire Answers

Were you able to answer all questions without looking up the answers first?  If yes, how did you do?
I hope that you will first attempt to answer them to the best of your knowledge.  After all, this is to help you.
If you have any comments, please feel free to leave me one down in the "comments" below.

1. C
2. A
3. E
4. B
5. C
6. C
7. A
8. D
9. A
10. C
11. A
12. A
13. B
14. B
15. D

Weekend Workout #16

Warm up  5-10 minutes
Jog easy for 3-5 minutes, then do the following exercises for 30 seconds each, twice.

jumping jacks
side lunges (alternate)
side shuffles (both directions)
seal jacks (same as jumping jacks, but bring hands together in front rather than overhead)

perform each exercise without any rest between.  Rest 1 minute between rounds.  Aim for 3-5 rounds.  When finished with all exercises, jog 1-3 miles.

10 Split Squat Jumps (aka: scissor jumps)
5   Pushups
5   Forward Lunges (complete all reps on 1 side, then switch to other side)
20 sec  Side Plank (elbows or hands)
5   Burpees (without pushup)

20 Split Squat Jumps
10 Pushups
10 Forward Lunges (each side)
40 sec Side Plank
15 Burpees (with pushup)

30 Split Squat Jumps
20 Pushups
15 Forward Lunges (each side)
1-min Side Plank
30 Burpees (with or without pushup)

Cool Down  5-10 minutes
After finishing your 1-3 mile run, do several static stretches holding each for 10-20 sec. without bouncing.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Weekend Workout #15

This weekend's workout is going to focus on total-body exercises.  You're going to perform the exercises in a circuit format (moving from one exercises to the next without resting) with 1.5 min rest between each circuit.  I want you to aim to complete 3 full circuits and no more than 5 total.

The equipment you will need for this workout is the following:  Best to perform this workout in the gym
1.  Kettelbell
2.  Medicine ball
3.  Swiss ball
4.  Resistance band

3 - 5 Rounds
no rest between exercises
90 sec rest between rounds
10-15 reps per exercise (beginners may want to aim for 6-8 reps instead)

1.  Medicine ball squats with overhead press
2.  Burpee with pushup
3.  Mountain climbers
4.  Kettlebell swings (2 hands)
5.  Swiss ball hand-offs (lying on your back, pass a swiss ball from your hands to your feet, keeping arms and legs straight while you crunch up to hand-off and grab the ball)
6.  Standing side raises with resistance band (keep arms straight and raise up to shoulder level)
7.  Medicine ball squat toss (holding s med ball, squat down and then thrust up and toss the ball as high as you can.  Let ball bounce and then repeat.  Best to do this one outdoors with more space)
8.  Kettlebell high pulls (Holding the handles of the KB, squat down and raise KB close to body up to shoulder level and keep elbows wide.  Don't allow the KB to touch the floor when squatting.