Thursday, January 31, 2013

Goal Setting

Do you have fitness goals?  Maybe it's to lose weight, or gain muscle, or run a 5k or even a marathon.  Maybe it's to be consistent with your exercise routine; getting in 3-4 days of exercise per week each month.  Or maybe your goal is to start eating healthier by eliminating foods that won't help you accomplish your ultimate goal.  If any of these sound familiar, you're not alone.

I wrote a Blog a few months ago talking about setting SMART goals.  This acronym refers to the following:

If you are not setting SMART goals then you are most likely wasting your time.  I don;t mean for that to sound negative, but unless you have a plan how are you going to realistically accomplish that goal.  You won't lose that 20 lbs. by sitting on the couch watching tv and eating chips.  Or, making sure to exercise at least 3-4 days a week doesn't happen without a little planning to make sure you set aside time to complete it.  More often than not, if your task (to exercise) is not listed on your calendar or on your I-Pod or on your smart phone, then odds are than something will "come up" and prevent you from getting in that 30-45 min. of sweating.

I often tell clients to write down your goals on a sticky note pad and place one at your office desk, one on your refrigerator, and one on the bathroom mirror.  Those are location\s that you will see several times throughout the day and keep you constantly reminded of that goal.

Another helpful tool when setting goals is to let as many of your family and friends know what your goal is.  The more people you know know what it is you are trying to accomplish, the more support you will get along the way as well as being held accountable.

When you accomplish a certain goal or goals don't stop there, think of a new one or two and set out to achieve them as well.  We live on a planet where there are so many beautiful things to see and do, the healthier you are and longer you live, the more you will be able to see and do.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The perfect snack

So if you are in search of some new snacks because you are getting bored with your usual almonds, or apple and yogurt, etc. her is one you can simply make that will make your mouth water.  I found this recipe in a recent Max Muscle magazine, and it's a recipe from Tiffany Lee Gaston.

Paleo Pumpkin Pecan Cookies

1/2 cup almond meal
1 egg
1/2 cup canned organic pumpkin
4 scoops whey protein powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup honey (raw)
1/2 cup pecans

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Whisk egg and combine all other ingredients.  Drop 1-inch balls on a greased cookie sheet.  About halfway through baking, gently flatten the dough by hand or with spatula.  Bake at 350 for 10-12 min.

Recipe make s 12-14 cookies

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Weekend Workout #4

Today I have a morning workout and an afternoon workout that you can do.  The morning workout will kick start your day and rev your metabolism.   make sure to eat something small about 30-60 min. prior to doing this.  A banana or some raisins and a little yogurt will suffice.

As always make sure to warm up good to get the blood circulating through the body so the body's temperature increases, and it will also help increase elasticity in the muscles so you don't feel so stiff.

The afternoon workout will challenge both your muscular system as well as cardiovascular system.  In the afternoon workout you will be doing a total of 150 reps (if only done once, 300 if done twice).  This workout will certainly help improve strength, and endurance.  Try to keep rest minimal between each exercise.

Morning Workout - 9am

Complete 3 sets of 10 for each exercise resting 30-sec. rest between each set and 60-sec. between each exercise.

1.  Elevated Push ups - elevate your feet on a bench or chair and assume a push up position.  Slowly lower your chest towards the floor and explode back up.

2.  1-Leg Squats/Jump Squats - using a TRX Suspension (if you have access to one) or a bench perform single leg squats.  If using the TRX simply hold on to the straps, but if using a bench, extend arms out to the sides at shoulder level.  Then do (10) 1-leg squats on each leg.  As soon as you complete the last rep, immediately do 10 jump squats trying to jump as high as possible (these will be harder than they seem).

3.  Elevated Planks - Assume the same position as exercise #1 with feet on bench or chair, resting on hands or forearms.  Now with your back straight and abs tight, hold this position for 30-45 sec.  Once the time is up, immediately rotate your body so that you are on your left forearm and do side planks holding for 30 sec. And finally, after those 30 seconds are up, rotate your body over to the right forearm and do side planks again for 30 sec.

You can do either 1 set or if you want an added challenge try to repeat 2 more times.  Remember you have a afternoon workout still to do.

Afternoon Workout - 3pm

Perform the number of reps listed for each exercise, and repeat either once or twice.  Make sure to stay hydrated during this workout.

25 squats
15 push ups
10 jump squats
10 bench dips
10 step ups (ea. leg) - a box or bench that is about 24-36" high
15 inverted rows
10 close-grip push ups
10 Swiss ball hamstring curls
15 squats
5 pull ups
25 jumping jacks

Make sure to cool down with easy stretching, and eat some food within 30 - min. (a whey protein shake with a banana is a great post workout meal)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

January Health Questionnaire Answers

Here are the answers to the January's Questionnaire to see how well you did.

1.  B
2.  A
3.  D
4.  B
5.  A
6.  E
7.  B
8.  C
9.  C
10.  C

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Weekend Workout #3

This weekend will be focused on explosive exercises that will help improve your skiing.  If you don;t ski, these will also make for a great high intensity workout.  If you have not been doing any running, jumping or high intensity work, I would not recommend that you perform this workout.  For those of you who have, this will make for a great addition to your training, and one that you should include frequently if you ski or run.

Make sure you warm up very good; either jogging for 5-10 minutes easy, rowing for 5 min and doing some calisthenics for 5 minutes, or 10 minutes of dynamic calisthenics.  Most of these exercises can be classified as plyometric exercises; a movement that is explosive to generate power and speed, and that requires your muscles to exert maximum force in the shortest amount of time.

Try to complete all 6 exercises 2-3 times resting 1-2 minutes between sets.  Do them in a circuit format where you move from one exercise to the next with minimal rest.  You will need a BOSU ball, 18-24" plyo box (or step boxes), and cones.  If you don't have either of these pieces of equipment you can still do the exercises, you just need to be a little more creative.

Exercise                                             Reps
Squat Jump                                        8-12 
180 Degree BOSU Jumps                  8-10
Front Cone Hops                               10
Lateral Cone Hops                             8-12
Alternating Box Pushoffs                    6-8 each leg
Depth Jumps                                      6-8

Squat Jumps - Just as it sounds, squat down and jump as high as you can.  Land softly with your feet absorbing the impact of the ground, and immediately jump again.

180 Degree BOSU Jumps - Standing on the blue side of the BOSU, keep your knees slightly bent, and then jump as you rotate your body 180 degrees (in air) to the right and land on the ball and try to balance before jumping and rotating back to the left.  This can be a very challenging exercise, so if you are not comfortable using the BOSU you can do this on the ground.

Front Cone Hops - Set up 5-10 cones in a straight line.  Jump over one cone and immediately jump over the next continuing until the last come.  Then turn around and repeat back to the starting position.  Try to land as softly as you can in between each cone.

Lateral Cone Hops - With the same cone set-up, perform the same exercise as above but instead of jumping forward jump sideways over each cone.  Land with both feet together and when you get to the end, stay facing the same direction and jump over the cones moving the opposite direction.

Alternating Box Pushoffs - Stand with your right foot on the floor and your left foot on the top of the box.  Push off your left foot and jump as high as you can.  Switch legs in mid-air and land on the right foot on top of the box with your left foot on the ground.  Immediately jump and reverse sides again.

Depth Jumps - Standing on top of the box, bend into a 1/4 squat with feet near the edge of the box.  Fall (not jump) off the box landing softly, dipping into a 1/4 squat, and immediately jump again as high as you can.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tough Mudder

I have taken a look at a few videos of the Tough Mudder events, and I am considering partaking in one fairly soon.  I would love to hear from those who have already done one of these and if you would recommend them.  I know these are probably physically challenging, but it's the mental part that has me intrigued.  Jumping into ice baths, crawling through narrow tubes, and scaling walls all sound like a test of mental toughness.  Having the ability to do it is one thing, but getting yourself in the right state of mind to actually be able to do it is another.

Leave your feedback in the "Comments" section below and I would like if we could get a little forum going with this.

For those of you who have never seen one of these events, here is a taste of what you can expect...

Monday, January 14, 2013

Another pancake recipe

Egg-Oatmeal Pancakes

As I mentioned before, I love pancakes.  I am always looking for ways to spruce up the flavor of one of the best American breakfasts.

2 whole eggs
1 banana
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp applesauce
walnuts (optional)
berries for topping

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and let sit for about 10 min,. to let the oatmeal soften.  Then pour batter into pan and cook approx. 5-7 min. per side.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Weekend Workout #2

Today's workout is one I like to use with clients when I want to really test their cardiovascular system.  It's a combination of strength and cardio exercises but the goal is to keep rest intervals to a minimum (which ultimately taxes the CV system).

For this workout the only piece of equipment you need is a jump rope, but you can even do it without a rope too.  If you don't have a rope, just mimic the movement of jumping rope.

Warm up good for 10-15 minutes with any type of movement that you prefer.   The goal is to have the body prepared for a high-intensity workout.  You will perform a total of 6 exercises, moving from one to the next with as little rest as needed.  Then after the last exercise of each set, rest 2 minutes (but keep the body moving easy (aka: walking around).

You can determine the number of reps for each set you want to do, however, I will recommend a set number of reps to get you started.   For most average exercisers, starting the first set with 15 reps will be challenging.  If you are looking for a more difficult workout, start with either 20 or 25 reps.  The each set you will reduce the number of reps for each exercise by 5.  So for instance, if you start with 20 reps, you will complete 20 reps for all exercises, rest 2 minutes, then complete 15 reps for all exercises, rest, then 10, etc. (jump rope being the only exception).  For jump rope you will jump continuously for 2 minutes.

So here we go...using 15, 10, 5 reps as the example

15 reps
Jump Rope - 2 min.
Push ups
Alternating Lunges (15 ea leg)
Mtn. Climbers
Hip Thrusts

Rest 2 min.

10 reps
Jump Rope - 2 min.
Push ups
Alternating Lunges (10 ea leg)
Mtn. Climbers
Hip Thrusts

Rest 2 min.

5 reps
Jump Rope - 2 min.
Push ups
Alternating Lunges (5 ea leg)
Mtn. Climbers
Hip Thrusts

Cool Down and stretch!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

January Health Questionnaire

January's Questionnaire has a little bit of everything in it.  See how you do by filling in your answers in the "Comments" section below.   Answers will be revealed on the 20th.

1.       Reading food labels does NOT help prevent obesity? 
A.      True
B.      False

2.       According to a national government study, what % of American children practice meditation?
A.      1
B.      3
C.      5
D.      10

3.       Bananas are known to be helpful for which of the following?
A.      Treating anemia
B.      Lowering blood pressure
C.      Resolving constipation
D.      All of the above

4.       Which fruit do Americans purchase the most of (#1 seller)?
A.      Apple
B.      Banana
C.      Pear
D.      Strawberry

5.       Doing KB Swings can increase both maximum and explosive strength?
A.      True
B.      False

6.       Examples of prebiotics (dietary fibers that promote healthy bacterial growth in the colon to promote gut health) include which of the following?
A.      Onions
B.      Bananas
C.      Artichokes
D.      None of the above
E.       All of the above

7.       According to the US Institute of Medicine, what % does the USA spend on healthcare to treat chronic disease?
A.      25
B.      75
C.      64
D.      12

8.       Chronic-pain sufferers tend to experience all of the following except______________?
A.      Sleep problems
B.      Higher blood pressure
C.      A sense of well-being
D.      Depression

9.       Those with diabetes and who are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease should avoid cooking techniques that result in this?
A.      Undercooked or rare meat
B.      Overcooked meat
C.      “Crust” on food
D.      Enhanced sugar content

10.    Which of the following best describes nutrient-dense foods?
A.      They supply calories but have very little health benefit
B.      They are plants that offer nonessential nutrients and have a higher water content
C.      They give you the best ratio of calories to nutrient s by providing a high amount of vitamins, minerals, and other substances that may have positive health effects
D.      They deliver a feeling of fullness with fewer calories

Monday, January 7, 2013


You may have noticed that a lot of my Weekend Workouts involve supersets.  Today I want to explain supersetting exercises in a little more detail.

First of all supersets involve performing two exercises back to back with little or no rest in between.  And, if you're looking to change up your workouts a bit, they're definitely worth a try.  There are numerous superset variations, but the most common types would include the same muscle groups or antagonist (opposite) muscle groups.  As the name implies, same muscle supersetting incorporates two different exercises for the   same muscle group.  For example, one set of dumbbell chest press could be followed by one set of barbell incline press.  You can then (depending on your fitness level) repeat this superset anywhere from 1-4 times.   Antagonistic supersetting involves opposing muscle groups, so you might combine bicep curls with triceps extensions, again with no rest in between sets.

No matter what type of superset you engage in, there are several advantages to utilizing this method of training.
1.  Save time - this is for those who want to get in to the gym and get out as quickly as possible while still getting in a good workout.
2.  Train at a higher intensity - can lead to better results.
3.  Decreased chance of injury - you will most likely be using less weight

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Weekend Workout #1

For the first weekend workout of 2013, we  are going to focus on single-sided movements.  Most exercises will involve using only your bodyweight, while some will involve the use of a dumbbell.  This workout is not meant to be overly challenging, but rather a workout to gauge if you have any strength imbalances.

With the holiday season now over, most of us have had some "down time" over the last few days or weeks.  If you have not exercised in over a week, please make sure to warm up very good and pay attention to how your body is feeling.  You may have set some fitness resolutions for 2013, however, allow yourself time to reach them, don't try to accomplish them in the first or second week.

Perform each exercise for 30 seconds (unless otherwise instructed), and move to the next exercise without any rest.  Allow 1 minute of rest in between each set, and try to complete 5-8 sets.

1- Leg Bulgarian Lunge - make sure not to lean the upper body forward, but keeping it just above the hips.  You can use your bodyweight only or hold a dumbbell in each hand for an added strength challenge.  Repeat for 30 sec. and then switch legs.

1- Arm Bar Push Up - In a gym use a barbell in a Smith Machine that is about hip level.  Assume a regular push up position, but only perform the exercise with one arm at a time.  Keeping your hips from rotating, focus on engaging your core muscle during the movement.  Do 5 reps per side, switch, and keep alternating back and forth until you reach 20 on each arm or can no longer do the same number on each arm.

1-Arm Dumbbell Row - Using a bench or step boxes, assume a push up position with 1 hand on the box/bench and the other holding a dumbbell.  Keeping your body in a good plank position, row the weight up to your side and the reverse the movement.  Repeat for 30 sec. and then switch arms.

1-Arm Reverse Lunge with a Dumbbell Swing - Stand with feet shoulder width apart and hold a dumbbell in your right hand over your head.  Now simultaneously swing the dumbbell down to the inside of your left leg and step back with your right leg (front leg should be bent about 90 degrees).  Pause for a second and then reverse the movement back to the start.  Do this for 30 seconds on one side before switching sides.

1-Arm Squat Press - Stand with feet shoulder width apart and hold a dumbbell in one hand at shoulder level (palms facing toward body).  Squat down and as you stand up press the weight overhead.  Lower the weight back to shoulder level and repeat the movement for 30 sec. and then switch sides.


Cool down for 5-10 minutes with some static stretching (holding each stretch for 15-20 seconds)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Rest between sets

I have been getting a lot of questions about how long to rest in between sets during strength training.  I will try to clarify this for most of you so that you can maximize your workout time.

Rest intervals as I like to think of it can vary greatly depending on your goals and type of training your engaged in.  If your focus is on explosive and intense multi-joint movements like squatting, deadlifts and cleans, then you could take up to 5 minutes of rest between sets.  However, most casual exercisers that incorporate strength training as part of their workout regimen will be fine with a 2-3 minute rest between sets, assuming your only working one muscle group at a time.

A more popular training style involves virtually no rest between sets.  Things like compound sets or supersets, or even whole-body circuit training, focus on shorter, higher-intensity workouts where rest in minimized throughout the workout.  These days people want to get in, get out and go home, so the only rest they get occurs during transition periods from one exercises to the next.  I'm a big believer in maximizing time in the gym so I personally use lots of supersets with clients.

The  moral of the story is that if you are looking to enhance strength and power, allow for more rest time between sets, but if a more cardiovascular type of strength training is your focus keep the rest periods relatively short.