Archive for November, 2010|Monthly archive page

Total Shred

  • Run 400 meters
  • 25 pullups
  • 25 pushups
  • 25 situps
  • 25 squats

Repeat for a total of 3 cycles.  Calculate your total time after the third cycle, jot it down, and try to improve the next time out.

Healthy “Power” Cookies

These cookies are taken from Hollywood actor Sylvester Stallone’s book, Sly Moves.  He apparently created this recipe himself when he was training for the Rocky movies as he needed something that would provide him with energy for his long training sessions.  Obviously, he needed to keep these healthy to avoid adding excess body fat. 

I’ve made these myself and they are actually really tasty.  They can help satisfy that sweet craving so many of us have, especially around this time of year.  Give them a try and let us know how you liked them.

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/8 cup brown rice flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/8 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup Quaker old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 egg
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons water
1/2 tablespoon molasses

Preheat over to 375 degrees. In a medium-size bowl, combine wheat and rice flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, brown sugar, and oats. Make in indentation in the center and add egg, olive oil, water, and molasses. Mix vigorously until the dough is moistened. Roll into tablespoon-size balls and place two inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until done. Remove cookies from oven and cool on wire rack. They should be soft and slightly chewy.

Cardio: When is Enough, Enough?

I had a conversation with a friend recently who told me how he has been working out like a machine the past few months in an attempt to “get big”.  When I asked what he’s been doing, he told me he’s hitting the weights on a split routine (sounds good so far) 5 days a week.  On top of that, he added he’s been spending 45-60 minutes 4 days a week running, on the ellipitcal machine, or swimming.  His thinking is, the weights will help him build muscle, and the cardio will him him strip away fat.  Anyone else think like this?
While it may make sense at first glance, there are some things you must realize about a routine like this.  Doing that much cardio is going to make it extremely difficult to pack on any muscle.  The cardio will no doubt help strip away body fat, but won’t help him reach his goals.  Your body will be burning far more calories than you may realize on a routine like this.  When you have a caloric deficiency in your body, you are going to experience fast weight loss.  For some individuals this is the goal, but clearly this is not everyones goal.

So, how much cardio is too much?  As I’m sure you can see, that really depends on the individual and what their personal goals are.  If you are trying to shed body fat and lose weight, performing high-intensity cardio 4-5 times a week for 45-60 minute intervals is great.  Combine some moderate weight lifting and you will most likely have discovered a very successful formula.  However, if your goal is to add muscle mass, try limiting your cardio to 15-20 minute intervals, twice a week. 

The above is a basic guideline.  With fitness, nothing is an exact science.  If it were, there wouldn’t be thousands of diets and workout plans on the market.  Everyone has a different body and genetic makeup.  What works well for one may not work well for another.  Try experimenting and see what suits you and your goals best.  However, just make sure you realize that doing excessive amounts of cardio is going to make it very difficult to add muscle to your frame.  Feel free to comment on this article and let us know what workout:cardio balance works best for you!

Top 5 Back-Training Mistakes & How To Correct Them

It’s complicated. Combining ball-and-socket joints that allow maximum arm mobility, a ribbon of snaking bones and nerves that divide the region down the middle, and a phalanx of big and small muscles spread from your butt to your neck, your back is your most complex bodypart. So it’s little wonder that many bodybuilders earn failing grades for training it. A lot of things can go wrong, but we’ve simplified the list to a top five. In this article, we examine the most frequent back blunders and lay out easy solutions for getting your back on course.

#1 Missing the target

Because your back is such a vast and complicated muscle group, there is much confusion about how to best train various areas. Many believe you simply need to pull your hands to the area you want to stimulate–low for lower lats, high for upper lats, etc.–but it’s not that easy to hit the target.


  • For lat width, focus on chins and pulldowns with a grip wider than shoulder width.
  • For lat thickness, focus on freeweight rows: barbell, T-bar and dumbbell.
  • The key to lower lat activation is keeping your elbows close to your sides and pulling them as far back as possible. Two good exercises are underhand, shoulder-width pull-downs and one-arm low-cable rows, both performed with maximum ranges of motion at the contractions.
  • To hit your middle, upper-back muscles–especially the rhomboids, and lower and middle trapezius–do wide-grip rows pulled to your chest. Using a Smith machine or a low cable while seated, instead of a barbell, can make balancing easier when rowing to your chest.

#2 Neglecting the lower back

One area not mentioned in our preceding rundown is spinal erectors. That’s because the most common problem here is not in missing the target, it’s in failing to even try. It is true that your lower back is stimulated during virtually any standing exercise, but to maximize the size and strength of your lower erector set, you need some isolation time, too.


  • Do deadlifts at least every other back workout. Deads work your spinal erectors in conjunction with numerous other muscles.
  • Do 4-6 sets of lowerback isolation exercises at the end of each back routine.
  • Back extensions, stiff-leg deadlifts (note: these are different from Romanian deadlifts, which involve less flexion and extension of the spine, and more hip flexion and extension to focus on the hams and glutes) and good mornings are excellent erector isolators. Another exercise is the back crunch, which begins like a back extension, but is a much shorter movement. Instead of bending at your waist/hips, contract your abs and curl your torso down (as if doing an ab crunch), and then rise back up by contracting your erectors.

#3 Attention to your grip

You know the truism that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. This applies to every bodybuilding exercise, but it’s especially true of back work, where several secondary muscles and muscle groups (hands, forearms, biceps, rear delts) work in conjunction with your lats and other posterior muscles.

Typically, your hands are the weak link in this chain, and if your grip gives out first, you won’t be able to maximally stimulate your back, no matter how strong all the other links are.


  • An underhand grip involves the biceps more and can place you in a stronger position, allowing you to use more weight. Incorporate both underhand and overhand grips into your back routine.
  • Whether overhand or underhand, always wear training straps for any row, chin or pulldown. In research performed by the Weider Research Group, trained bodybuilders using straps during a typical back workout increased the number of reps they were able to complete by one or two on every set of every exercise compared to when they did the same back workout with bare hands.
  • We recommend bodybuilders use straps during deadlifts, but if you want to increase strapless dead strength for powerlifting or other sports, alternate your grip by using what is known as a staggered grip (one hand underhand, one hand overhand) to better secure the bar in your grasp. A study presented at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the National Strength and Conditioning Association by researchers from the Weider Research Group found that trained lifters using a staggered grip significantly increased their strength on the deadlift compared to an overhand grip with both hands.

#4 Overreliance on machines

The back is complex and the elbows can travel a great multitude of paths when pulled backward, so most modern gyms offer several unique rowing machines: high rows, low rows, unilateral rows, row/pulldown combinations, etc. This has encouraged too many bodybuilders to forgo barbells, dumbbells and chinning bars on back day and instead rely primarily on levers, pulleys, cams and cables.

Machines may be more comfortable and lock you into a safe position, but a freer range of motion is generally superior for muscle stimulation.


  • As mentioned previously, do deadlifts at least every other back workout–with free weights, of course.
  • Do at least one type of free-weight row–barbell, T-bar or dumbbell–in each back workout.
  • In place of or in addition to pulldowns, do chins at least every other back workout. If you’re not strong enough to get 8 reps on your own, lighten your bodyweight by either having a partner slightly lift up on your feet, lightly resting your feet on a bench beneath the bar or using a chin assist machine.

#5 Overusing secondary muscles

Bodybuilders who have trouble isolating their latissimus dorsi muscles tend to go either too heavy with sloppy form, thus overrelying on momentum and their spinal erectors, or pull too much with their biceps and/or rear delts, thus never fully stretching or contracting their lats. Because you cannot watch your back work while you are training it, it’s especially crucial to master proper form by feeling stretches and contractions during rows, pulldowns and other posterior lifts.


  • Work the weight, don’t let it work you. Use a weight you can comfortably handle with strict form for 8-12 reps.
  • Pull with your elbows, bringing them back and/or down as far as possible.
  • If your biceps are doing too much of the work, utilize only an overhand grip.
  • Focus on the targeted area of your back. Don’t focus on the weight or the path of the movement.
  • Do back isolation work, such as straight-arm pulldowns. Because rows and pulldowns/pullups involve movement at the elbows, they are multijoint exercises that use other muscle groups, such as the biceps, in addition to the back muscles. Therefore, these exercises do not isolate the lats. To isolate the lats, include one exercise that does not involve movement at the elbows, such as straight-arm pulldowns. Do these toward the end of training, after rows and pulldowns/pullups.

Lessons Learned

  • Target a specific area during every back exercise.
  • At the end of each back workout, do isolation work for your spinal erectors.
  • Use training straps to secure your grip.
  • Include free-weight and bodyweight basics in every back workout.
  • Minimize momentum and feel the targeted area working throughout every rep.
  • Utilize lat isolation exercises, such as straight-arm pulldowns.

By: Greg Merritt

30 Minutes To Fat Loss

Alright, so, we’re back from our most recent hiatus to bring you a ultra-intense, 30 minute fat-blasting cardio workout.  This workout is perfect for anyone looking for a new routine, and most importantly, on a time crunch.  For those of you who think you can’t get a worthwhile work out in only 30 minutes, you simply aren’t going hard enough.  Most likely you are taking too long of rest breaks and slowly moving from exercise to exercise.

If you do this workout at 100% full intensity, you will be ready to lay down and call uncle by the end of the session.  Try to do this session for time, and every week or so, give it a go and try to beat your personal best.  Workouts that have you competing against yourself have been shown to provide better calorie loss than those where you are simply going through the motions at a random pace.

We will start first by doing 25 pull ups.  Keep your hands wide and lift yourself up until your chin is at least level with the bar.  Do these in sets of however many you would like.  The goal is to get to 25 as fast as you can.  As soon as you finish with these, we’re moving on to…

50 burpees.  Perform these as fast as you possibly can.  Keep your good form and really leap up as high as you can at the top of the movement.

100 body weight squats.  If you feel more comfortable, use a Smith machine with no weights.  This will help keep your form and assist you in keeping proper posture.  Bodyweight squats may not seem like very much, but try doing 100 and tell me how you feel. 

50 Mountain climbers.  Perform these to really get your heart rate up.  Keeping a heart rate in the fat burning zone will really help your body burn fat more efficiently than it would otherwise.  Try wearing a heart rate monitor if you want to get really precise. 

50 Clean and Press with Barbell.  Perform this complex upper body movement to hit the shoulders, back, and triceps.  We aren’t necessarily going for huge muscular gains here, which is why we are using a barbell without any weights. 

Plank for a total of 3 minutes.  Get into the plank position and hold for as long as possible.  Really pay attention to the time and hold for a total time of 3 minutes. 

50 box jumps.  Perform 100 box jumps on a bench or box.  Keep a good pace and try not to take too many breaks here.  You’re almost finished with the workout, keep your head down and bear through any fatigue that is almost certainly settling in now.  Focus on the sweat leaving your body and the amount of calories you are burning.

50 Russian Lunges.  Perform these as fast as you can.  If you can’t keep up with the speed in the video, don’t worry.  The video clip is just there to give you an idea of the proper form and technique.  These are the last exercise in the session, so give them your all.

That’s it.  For most people of average fitness levels, this workout can be completed in about 30 minutes.  Try doing this workout once or twice a week in conjunction with whatever else you are doing.  Stick to this schedule for about 8 weeks, then come back to for a new way to blast your fat away.

Hillary Duff’s Happy, Healthy New Shape

Hillary Duff shares her healthy ways with  Here is one celebrity setting a good example (unlike some) who has a lifestyle that you can mirror for a healthier you!

Don’t let the “former teen star” description fool you: Hilary Duff is one young celeb who truly has it together. You won’t find the ex-Lizzie McGuire star landing in the tabloids because of hard-partying ways.

Instead, the 23-year-old actress/singer has made headlines by getting married (to pro hockey player Mike Comrie) and adding to her ridiculously impressive resume: In October, the actress/singer released her first book, a young-adult novel called “Elixir.” Here, Hilary chats with Health about what she loves about writing, which workout she swears by, and her hard-earned secret to body confidence.

Q: What’s your definition of living healthy?

A: Moderation is key. Eating healthily all the time can be boring — you know, when you take apart the menu and ask for everything on the side?

Balance makes me feel good: I feel most healthy when I enjoy small bites of the things I love. I used to feel bad about eating French fries — I’d think that I had blown my diet. But you have to think, That’s OK, I’ll eat healthier tomorrow.

Q: What are your favorite good-for-you snacks?

A: Recently, I have been eating a lot of vegetables and hummus and fruit — stuff I never really liked before. If I am hungry before bed, I will grab a handful of blueberries. Greek yogurt is one of my favorite things in the whole world.

Sometimes I’ll chop up a bunch of veggies and put them in a food processor with Greek yogurt and make a dip. It’s better if I snack throughout the day, because if I get hungry, Mike says I get “hangry,” which is hungry-angry. It’s not good.

Q: Do you have any guilty-pleasure foods?

A: I love cheese. I would probably eat any kind you put in front of me! And I like healthy things with a high fat content, like dark chocolate and avocado.

Q: You’re into Pilates, right?

A: I was a gymnast when I was little, so I think Pilates is really important to helping me stay long and lean. I try to do it three times a week. I also do circuit training. Before I wasn’t doing much cardio — just Pilates — and I wasn’t getting the same results, so I bumped up my cardio and do circuits probably twice a week.

Q: You intensified your workouts (with trainer Harley Pasternak) before your August wedding. Have you kept that up?

A: I was kind of burned out afterward, so I relaxed a bit, but now I am starting to feel the effects. I probably won’t be as hard on myself, but I do want to stay on top of it. It’s a constant battle.

Q: What are your tricks for making workouts fun?

A: Making sure I work out with people I can talk to. Sometimes my sister [Haylie] and I will work out together, and we laugh the whole time, so it goes by faster. I can also read a script or book while on the elliptical. I joke with Mike that I have better than 20-20 vision.

Q: Do you have any health regrets?

A: I got pretty skinny when I was between 17 and 19. I don’t know what exactly made me get on that kick, but at the time I was starting to become aware of what people said about me and how I looked in pictures. I literally ate nothing but steamed vegetables and broiled or grilled chicken, with nothing else.

I was touring at the time, traveling everywhere, and I felt so run down. Not giving your body enough of what it needs is really dangerous. I regret it because I don’t think I was happy then.

Q: You endured scrutiny about your weight when you were still a teenager. How did you handle that?

A: It sucked. I was 16 and my body was still changing and people would say I was too heavy. And then I would lose weight and my face would get skinny and people would say I had done something to my face and that I was too skinny.

It must have been really hard because I’ve blocked it out a little. At the time, I felt almost proud of being skinny, but one day the mother of a fan came up to me and said, “Are you OK? Are they not feeding you?”

After that, all of a sudden, I stopped being as concerned about everything. It wasn’t a big intervention or anything. I got off tour and changed. I started hanging out with my friends and cooking and had a more normal life.

Q: You seem comfortable in your own skin now. What’s the key to body confidence?

A: I have issues and insecurities just like everybody else. It really helps to have a partner that loves everything about you and makes you feel really beautiful. Not that you should look for other people to make you feel good about yourself, but it does help.

Other than that, I really do feel like working out has helped because you’re working hard for something. You feel stronger and a little more powerful. There’s no trick, though. I hate my arms. Nobody is ever perfect, but it helps to look for things to feel good about, rather than things to feel bad about.

Q: Your first novel, “Elixir,” came out in October. What made you want to write a young-adult book?

A: It was a few years ago, and I asked myself, “What do I want to do? How can I spend time with Mike?” I wanted to be able to reach out to my fans, and writing was something creative I could do, even when I was traveling with him.

Q: After releasing four albums, you put your music career on hold. Think you’ll return to the studio?

A: I want to act. That is what I want to focus on more, but it’s all about timing and finding the right role.

Q: Did any of the older Disney alums give you advice when you were starting out?

A: I think people imagine it that way, that you have these deep conversations about how to manage your way through this craziness. I’ve met Justin [Timberlake] and Britney [Spears] a few times, but it’s not like they’ve said, “Here, sit down, listen to me kid.”

Q: You filmed a threesome scene on “Gossip Girl” last season. What was that like?

A: I went into my wardrobe fitting one day and was trying on lingerie. I asked them why I was trying on so much lingerie, and they were like, “Oh, you don’t know? You’re having a threesome scene.” My first thought was, “How am I going to tell my mother?”

Q: How have things changed between you and Mike since getting married?

A: I think we already felt married before we were married because we had a really strong commitment to each other. I did feel different after the wedding, going through the steps and saying those words to one another, but now things have settled down and gone back to normal.

Q: Do you have special plans for your first Thanksgiving as newlyweds?

A: For the last few years [Mike] has been in Canada and they do Thanksgiving on a different day. I don’t know if my mom is going to come or where we’ll be.

But I love to bake! On Thanksgiving, I make pecan pie and pumpkin pie. Before the wedding I was baking all the time and giving it away and my friends were like, “We know what you are doing — you are making us eat it [so you don’t eat it]. This is mean!”

Top 5 Ab-Training Mistakes & How To Correct Them

In the ’80s, when they started appearing on everyone from Tom cruise to Madonna, muscular middles went mainstream. Hard cores were no longer hardcore. In Arnold Schwarzenegger’s era, some champs worked their abdominals for 30 minutes daily. For some of today’s pros, crunch time only comes precontest. This article is for nearly every bodybuilder, from gym novices to Mr. O competitors, because most of us are letting our abs off easy. In this article, we’ll examine the most frequent midsection mistakes and lay out ab solutions for making your center the center of attention.

#1 Ab neglect

Bodybuilders might neglect abs because they assume they can chisel them in the next time they diet down. For them, the three Cs–carb restriction, cardio and crunches–go together like bacon, lettuce and tomato, and when their middles are not being defined, they figure, why bother? Another reason for neglect: even when bodybuilders do train abs, they tend to tack low-intensity sessions onto random workouts, and because those workouts accomplish little, they can be skipped with little guilt.

Just as there are two main reasons many bodybuilders neglect abs, there are two main reasons not to. First, core strength is necessary for key mass makers, such as deadlifts and squats. Second, you cannot maximize ab muscularity with a crash course. Instead, you need to grow–or at least maintain–these muscles year-round.


  • As with other muscles, set goals–from how you want your middle to look to specific rep and resistance targets.
  • Twice per week, give your abs the same focus as other bodyparts. If you do cardio separately from your weight workouts, an excellent time to hit abs is before cardio, or you may want to ab up in a separate workout at home.
  • Do eight to 12 sets for your rectus abdominis and three to five sets for your obliques.
  • If you’re in a rush, superset abs with other bodyparts or do all your ab exercises as a giant set with no rest between exercises.
  • To avoid the “Why bother?” blahs of endless crunches, infuse your ab workouts with intensity which brings us to our next mistake.

#2 Insufficient intensity

Pop quiz: What were your best sets last time you trained chest?

Now, answer the same question for abs. If you have a ready response about bench presses and inclines, but none for crunches and leg raises, give yourself an ab F. Rest assured, most bodybuilders fail this quiz. Not only do most of us train abs with insufficient intensity, but it seldom even occurs to us that we’re shortchanging our midsection workouts. Instead, we plod through sets of high reps, the sort we would never do for chest or any other bodypart.


  • Train to grow your abs, not tone them. The risk of overgrowing your rectus abdominis is akin to the risk of growing too rich–you should be so lucky. As with the woman who fears free weights will make her “look like a man,” alas, it’s never easy to alter ourselves. Train for growth. Toning will follow.
  • Typically, do sets of 10-15 reps. When you can do more than 15, increase the resistance.
  • Ab machines are often the most efficient way to add resistance.
  • As opposed to increasing reps or the weight, you can boost intensity via techniques such as supersets and giant sets.

#3 Missing the target

Owing to their school-gym-period days of crunches and other calisthenics, many bodybuilders still spend more ab time working their hip flexors, straining their spinal erectors and rapidly flopping about than actually contracting their abs.


  • Do primarily crunching movements for the rectus abdominis, either free form or with a machine.
  • Train at a slow, steady pace, focusing only on your abs.
  • All ab exercises have short ranges of motion, and thus, contractions are paramount. Hold each contraction for one or two seconds and flex.

#4 Upper ab exclusivity

Most bodybuilders focus primarily, if not exclusively, on the upper rectus abdominis–the six-pack. In fact, that is only one of four ab areas to train. The other three are the lower rectus abdominis (from below your six-pack to your groin), the external obliques (on either side of your midsection) and the transverse abdominis (located underneath your rectus abdominis and obliques). The lower abs are often neglected, because–when you have at least some clothes on–they’re less visible than the upper abs. Obliques are typically skipped, because bodybuilders are afraid of widening their waists. Transverse abs are out of sight and, therefore, usually out of mind.


  • Lower abs are important for core strength and a powerful look that ties your upper and lower body together. Reverse crunches and leg or knee raises work this area.
  • Obliques are also crucial for core strength, because they stabilize your upper body and, when fully developed and defined–picture the piano key rows on Dexter Jackson’s sides–they grab attention. Side crunches and machine trunk twists work this area. Waist width is primarily the result of a broad hip/waist structure. Nevertheless, if you’re concerned about oblique overgrowth, do sets of 20-30 reps.
  • Your transverse abs aren’t visible, but they play a crucial role in your posture and keeping your belly in. You can work this area anytime and anywhere by pulling your bellybutton in toward your spine as far as possible and holding that position for a count of 10. Repeat for up to 10 times.

#5 Trying to train away fat

Many bodybuilders think enough crunching will bring their abs into sharp relief. Although recent research proves spot reduction is possible, your best strategy for shedding adipose tissue and excavating your abs is a combination of dieting and cardio.


  • Alter your diet to lose fat. Eliminate trans fat and minimize saturated fat and simple carbs. Focus instead on lean protein, complex carbs and healthy fats.
  • Do 45-60 minutes of cardio postworkout or early in the morning.
  • Focus your ab workouts on growth, and the new muscle will become increasingly more visible as you shed unwanted weight.

Lessons Learned

  • Make time to train abs thoroughly twice per week.
  • Keep most reps in the 10-15 range and focus on increasing reps or resistance. Boost intensity via supersets or giant sets.
  • Train abs slowly, focusing on contractions.
  • Work all four areas: upper abs, lower abs, obliques and inner abs.
  • Diet and do cardio to lose fat; train abs to gain muscle.

Greg Merritt, Senior Writer of Flex Magazine

Sugar Health Risks: Are You Letting Real Sugar Off the Hook?

Great article below by Kristin Kirkpatrick.  There has been so much hype about High Fructose Corn Syrup that people are neglecting to recognize the dangers of plain old sugar!  The AHA recommends women to consume less than 6 tablespoons of sugar and men less than 9.  This may sound like a lot but most people are not aware of just how much sugar is in their every day food.  Check out this old post, How Much Sugar is in My Food, for an idea.  Thanks Kristen for the informative article.

The Corn Refiners Association recently petitioned the FDA to change the name of High Fructose Corn Syrup to “corn sugar.” High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is often blamed for the nation’s obesity epidemic because it’s cheaply processed into many “everyday” American food items. When some of us see “high fructose corn syrup” on a nutrition label, we shriek and put the item back on the shelf. We could debate the pros and cons of HFCS, but unfortunately the point that is lost in all of this is that all simple sugar and syrups, regardless of how they are named or packaged may cause adverse health conditions when consumed in excess.

Simple sugars (or simple carbohydrates) are digested quickly and are usually void of essential vitamins and minerals. The American Heart Association (AHA) was one of the first to issue formal guidelines on sugar intake. Last year, the AHA recommended no more than 100 calories per day, or about six teaspoons of sugar for women, and no more than 150 calories per day, or about nine teaspoons a day for men. They backed their recommendations with a scientific statement in the Circulation Journal which stated “excessive consumption of sugars has been linked with several metabolic abnormalities and adverse health conditions, as well as shortfalls of essential nutrients.” The AHA did not go after any one type of sugar/syrup or manufacturer of sugar; its focus was instead on sugar consumption as a whole. There has been strong scientific data linking excess sugar above these limits and increased risk of heart disease and diabetes (Malik VS, et al “Sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes” Diabetes Care 2010; 33(11): 2477-2483). Given the science, is it fair to say that perhaps we’re coming up with excuses to keep downing this stuff? Would we really feel better consuming a product based on the semantics on the nutritional label?

Most of us don’t notice the effect that sugar may have on our appetite either, we just know we’re never quite satisfied when our diet is filled with candy, cola, refined grains, etc., but we rarely ask why. Processing and preparation do play a factor but overall, simple sugar consumption causes a spike in blood sugar and insulin followed by a crash. This leaves us feeling even hungrier than we were before and more likely to continue eating until we can find something to make us full. It’s not far off to say that having a can of cola or a candy bar will not make you full, is it? If you’ve ever consumed something like this in place of lunch on a busy day, you can feel it, literally. Perhaps you have a doughnut every morning on the way to work yet still find you’re looking for the vending machines not long after you arrive. Whatever your sugar vice, the effects are for the most part the same and it leaves you wanting more. You give in to your hunger, you eat more calories than you can burn and before you know it, you’re up a notch on your belt buckle. Was the sugar to blame or more so your choice of what to eat?

Consider this: 10 licorice twists will cost you 400 calories and a ride on the blood sugar coaster for sure (by the way, insulin goes for the ride too). For the same amount of calories, you could have a lean turkey breast sandwich on 100% whole wheat bread loaded with spinach and spread with yellow mustard. You could even have paired your sandwich with a small apple and a serving of plain yogurt as well. The ups and downs from the licorice will cause such a crash that you’ll be searching for more food, lots of it, and soon. The sandwich on the other hand will provide you with satisfaction inducing protein in the form of the turkey and yogurt, high fiber bread and fruit to keep you fuller longer and anti-inflammatory turmeric rich yellow mustard. You’re sure to be full and satisfied after that meal and thus, you won’t need to scavenge for more empty calories. The sandwich sounds like a better deal to me.

At the end of the day, you’ll need to weigh all the facts and research and be your own judge. My advice would be to first determine if you are within the American Heart Association’s simple sugar guidelines by writing down your sugar grams for the day. Exclude those coming from dairy (lactose) or even fruit. Those sources of simple sugars do not seem to have the same effect as their more refined cousins. Instead, track the sugars in white bread, pasta or rice as well as honey, sugar, cane juice, brown rice syrup, turbinado sugar, fruit juice concentrate, sugar in the raw, high fructose corn syrup and even cane sugar.

7 ways to change your life in the next 7 days

Life change may seem to take years to achieve but there are steps you can walk today and in the next week that perhaps can change your life forever.

Most are little steps, but when combined together they can create big and lasting change.

Here are 7 ways to change your life in the next 7 days:

1. Change your words and phrases

One of the most effective ways to change your life is to change your attitude and mindset. And the best way to change your attitude and mindset is to remove certain words and phrases from your vocabulary and to replace them with others that are more positive.

It might take some time to remove negative phrases and words because you’ve gotten so used to them. But once you start using new words and phrases that are more positive, you’ll be surprised at how almost instantly people around you react differently and how you look at the world around you in a fresh way.

Your entire life changes without you having to change everything.

Here are some words and phrases to stop using:

– “It’s just one of those days.”

– “Same s**t, different day.”

– “Same old, same old.”

– “What’s the world coming to?”

– “Kids these days.”

– “I can’t.”

– “I don’t know.”

– Hate – It’s such a powerful word that has become too common in our vocabulary.

– Retarded – I don’t know why people insist on using this word to describe something they don’t like or understand.

– Gay – based on the same negative use as “retarded”

For some ideas on what you can start saying to improve your life and make lasting, positive change, please read our article: 50 things to say before you die.

2. Count your blessings

We all get caught up and forget to reflect on how fortunate we are. So in the next 7 days take an hour and think about:

What you’re glad to have experienced – sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s a bad experience, but it’s shaped who you are. For me, one thing I’m glad I experienced was poverty.

What you’re fortunate to have – family, food, shelter.

What you’re fortunate to not have – it could be sickness or debt.

3. Dust off your bucket list

Take out your list of things to do before you die and find something you can do in the next week. Or write something new down and do it.

4. Wake up claiming the Best. Day. Ever.

One day can positively change your entire life. And that one day needs to start with one good morning.

During the next 7 days wake up claiming that it will be the best day ever and try your hardest to maintain that attitude all day.

5. Try something you think you’re bad at

Perhaps you think you’re horrible at singing, writing, basketball, or some other talent. But perhaps you’ve just never really given yourself the time to attempt and if you do, you might find a new talent for yourself.

6. Declare your life’s purpose

It can certainly be done in a week with focus and a bit of work.

To help you, here are two articles you might be interested in reading:

5 easy pieces to piecing together your purpose in life

What do you want on your headstone?

7. Recognize change happens constantly

Every single day your life changes no matter what. Even if you go through the same routine over and over again, no two days are ever the same. Recognize this and even the days of adversity and pain will become bearable because you know that “good new days” lie ahead.

via Lyved

Circuit Training Ideas

Resistance work can also improve tendon and ligament strength and increase bone density, effects which should help to lower injury rates. In addition, resistance workouts heighten body awareness, upgrade coordination, reduce body-fat levels, and improve self esteem, all of which can contribute to improved performance during competition.

For athletes, the general preparation period before the beginning of actual competitions is an ideal time to initiate a resistance training programme. A four- to eight-week period of sound resistance training helps to develop a nice foundation of suppleness (mobility), strength, and stamina (endurance), to which athletes can add speed and racing skill just before the competitive season begins.

‘Circuit training’ is an excellent way to simultaneously build strength and stamina. The circuit-training format utilises a group of strength exercises (usually six to 10 or more) that are completed sequentially (one exercise after another). Each exercise is performed for a specified number of repetitions or for a prescribed time period before moving on to the next exercise.

The exercises within each circuit are separated by brief, timed rest intervals, and each circuit is separated by a longer rest period. The total number of circuits performed during a training session may vary from two to six depending on your training level (beginner, intermediate, or advanced), your period of training (preparation or competition), and your primary training objective (You may be developing total work capacity, boosting your power, or engaging in ‘active rest,’ for example.)

I have designed this special circuit-training programme with the following objectives in mind:

  1. The circuit work will increase your general work capacity by improving your ability to tolerate increasing levels of muscular fatigue (stamina improvement). 
  2. Over time, the circuit training will have shorter and shorter rest intervals between exercises, thus maintaining elevated heart rates during the circuit workouts and helping you to upgrade your cardiorespiratory capacity (stamina improvement). 
  3. Circuit efforts will enhance your overall body strength, including the strength and resiliency of muscles, tendons, and ligaments, the integrity of your joints, and the strength and density of your supporting bone structures (strength improvement). 
  4. The circuits will improve your movement skill and body awareness, because you’ll perform exercises that utilise body weight as the primary form of resistance (skill improvement). 
  5. The circuit programme will increase your lean muscle mass by a moderate amount and decrease your body-fat levels through high levels of energy expenditure (body composition improvement).

The Basic Training Circuit: Recommendations

Your basic training circuit can easily be combined with the mobility training described in the March 1995 issue of Peak Performance to form a well-rounded training session. A full mobility-plus-circuit workout, including warm-up, mobility training, circuit work, and a 10-minute cool-down can be completed in about an hour or less. Is that too much time for the busy athlete? Definitely not!

For one thing, you only need to complete the overall workout twice weekly during your base conditioning period. In addition, the payoffs from circuit training are great. Whether you’re a cyclist, a racewalker, a runner, a rugby player, a swimmer, or a participant in racket sports, you’ll improve your strength, mobility and stamina through circuit training.

As a result, you will move much more powerfully as you take part in your sport. Bear in mind, though, that for best results the circuit training sessions should not be performed on consecutive days. If you are carrying out other intensive training on the same day as the circuit work, do the intensive work before the circuit training, since fatigue levels from the circuit might well interfere with training intended to develop speed, power, or event-specific endurance.

Better yet, carry out circuit training on days during which other training is of low intensity. Don’t do your circuit training on a rest day, however; rest really means rest!

Here is your sequential format for each circuit:

  1. Total-body exercise
  2. Upper-body exercise
  3. Lower-body exercise
  4. Core/trunk exercise
  5. Total-body exercise
  6. Upper-body exercise
  7. Lower-body exercise
  8. Core/trunk exercise

Notice that each part of the body is emphasised twice during each circuit.

Circuit Exercises

For each circuit, do the following exercises:

Four-count Squat Thrusts


Four-count squat thrusts: Stand with your arms held at your sides, and then squat down, placing both hands in front of you on the floor. With arms straight and your weight resting on both hands, quickly extend both legs backward (hop backward), ending in a front-support position. Return legs forward (hop forward), ending in a low-squat position with hands on the floor.

Finally, jump into the air and return to a standing position. Repeat each of these four steps, in order, to a rhythmic 1-2-3-4 count, without pausing between counts or repetitions.


The high degree of amplitude (joint motion) at your hips and knees, combined with the resistance provided by your body weight, will develop strength and mobility in your knee and hip joints – important for high-speed movement.

The front-support position develops stability and strength in the upper trunk, abdominal, and pelvic regions, strength that is necessary to control torso movements during the running stride or when you strike a ball.

The jump added to the exercise as you return to a standing position greatly increases your cardiac demand, hikes the power of your leg muscles, and increases the impact forces (upon landing) as well, fortifying the bones in your legs and feet. Use caution, though; perform the movements on a gym floor or grass, not on concrete.


Push-ups: Start in the front-support position with your hands and toes on the floor and trunk, hips, and legs extended. Bend your arms and lower your chest to the floor. Then push your body upward as you straighten your arms, returning to the front-support position. Repeat this action rhythmically and continuously without stopping for the allotted time.


Push-ups are well known for increasing upper-body strength, but their value in developing abdominal and hip-flexor stability is often ignored. This improved stability helps to control hip, trunk, and shoulder movements as you move quickly and also promotes balance between the upper and lower body.

Scissor Step-ups

Scissor step-ups: Use a step or bench which is approximately mid-shin to knee height. Put your left foot on the step, with your right foot on the floor and your arms at your sides. Then push down with your left leg and drive your body upward rapidly, switching support (hopping) from left foot to right foot as your body reaches its maximal vertical height.

With your right foot supporting your body, lower the left foot to the floor rapidly but under control. Repeat this action continuously, back and forth from foot to foot, without pausing at the top or bottom positions.


The scissor step-up develops leg strength, power, and dynamic-balance control (coordination), without which you can’t move quickly, whether it’s from one end of the football pitch to the other, from the baseline to the net on a tennis court, or from the start to the finish of a 10k race.

Cardiovascular benefits of this exercise can be increased by speeding up your stepping cadence or by increasing the height of the step. Step heightening also enhances leg-muscle power and improves mobility of the hip and knee joints.

Abdominal Sit-backs

Abdominal sit-backs: For this exercise, use a step, bench, or chair which does not have a vertical, support for your back. Sit with your legs bent and your arms extended in front of you, and then recline your trunk backward at the hips by about 45 degrees. That’s your starting point for the exercise. To do the sit-backs, raise both arms simultaneously overhead while maintaining tight abdominal muscles and a straight chest.

Then simply return your arms to the extended position in front of you, without moving your trunk or legs. Repeat this back-and-forth arm action in a smooth, continuous fashion without pausing at any point during the movement.


The increased abdominal stability gained from sit-backs carries over to improved posture and better core stability as you run.

A strong pelvic girdle and trunk provide the anchor point for a strong pair of legs, allowing you to use your legs in a maximally powerful manner during quick sprints – or during sustained, vigorous running.

Squats To Presses

Squats to presses Use two dumbbells, each weighing approximately 10% of your body weight (e.g., if you weigh 150 pounds, each dumbbell should be 15 pounds). Individuals with less strength training experience may start with dumbbells which weigh 5% of body weight, while stronger athletes can use dumbbells checking in at 20% of body weight.

You may need to experiment a bit, using a weight that makes the exercise challenging but achievable. If dumbbells are unavailable, a barbell of comparable total weight can be utilised. To do the exercise, stand upright with your feet spaced about hip- to shoulder-width apart and your hands supporting the dumbbells in front of your shoulders.

Squat down until your thighs form an angle of 90 degrees with your shins (a half-squat), while maintaining a reasonably upright posture with your torso and while keeping your hands in front of your shoulders. Then rise quickly from the squat position while pressing (pushing) the dumbbells overhead simultaneously. Both arms and legs should reach full extension at the same time (You’ll end up standing tall with legs straight and arms straight overhead).

Then lower the dumbbells in a controlled fashion to the starting position. Repeat this three-count movement smoothly and continuously.


Squats to presses increase strength and power in your legs, hips, low back, abdominals, shoulders, and arms.

Note that the whole-body involvement of the squat to press increases your cardiorespiratory requirements, compared to the more commonly used, isolated pressing exercises such as bench and shoulder presses.

Body-weight Rows

Body-weight rows: For this one, you’ll need a horizontal bar or beam which is sturdy enough to support your body weight. Set the bar at approximately the height of your navel (when you’re standing straight up). To start the exercise, grip the bar with both hands at slightly wider than shoulder width, and hold your body in support underneath the bar.

Your heels should be on the floor, and your body should be straight and rigid from your shoulders to your ankles. Then, with your feet acting as a fulcrum, pull your chest up to the bar by bending your elbows and pulling them backwards. Return to the starting position by straightening your arms in a controlled manner, and repeat the overall action for the time period specified in the chart.


The body-weight row does for the back side of the body what the push-up does for the front side. Body-weight rows improve pulling strength of the upper-back, shoulder, and arm muscles, but they also serve to increase stabilising strength in the low back, gluteals, and hamstrings, all of which are critically important for quick movement whenever you participate in your sport.

You’ll achieve a balance between lower and upper body strength by performing this exercise.

One-leg Squats

One-leg Squats: You’ll need a bench or step six to eight inches in height. Stand with your left foot flat on the floor and your right foot behind you and elevated on the step. The distance between your feet should be approximately the length of your shin, and most of your weight should rest on the heel of your left foot.

To do the exercise, bend your left knee and lower your body until the left knee makes an angle of 90 degrees between the thigh and lower leg. Return to the starting position by straightening your left leg, while maintaining an upright posture with your trunk. Repeat this action with the left leg for the specified amount of time, and then switch to the right leg.


This exercise develops muscle strength in the quads, hamstrings, and gluteals, the muscles which provide much of your power while running. The actual motion of the one-leg squat closely resembles the ‘frontside’ mechanics of the hip and knee during the actual running stride.

By strengthening your hip and knee joints in a coordinated and integrated fashion, your leg strength and running power should improve tremendously. One-leg squats can also help you improve your vertical jumping ability.

Low-back Stabilisers

Low-back stabilisers: For this exercise, you’ll need a bench, padded table, or ‘Roman-Chair’ bench. Lie face down with your body extended and your hips at the edge of the supporting surface of the bench. Your arms should be extended straight down toward the floor in front of you. For added stability, it helps if your feet are wedged between the end of the bench and a wall.


Smoothly raise both arms over your head simultaneously while maintaining your trunk in full extension (your body should be horizontal to the floor and held straight as an arrow), and then return both arms to the starting position. Repeat this action over and over again for the prescribed time period.



Heightened low-back strength provides for proper posture while running and also provides excellent ‘motion control’ of the torso and hips throughout the running stride. As a result, you’ll move more quickly – whether it’s to return a serve on the tennis court or to reach the football in time to score a goal.

Remember that improvements in how your body functions can occur whenever you overload your body’s systems. This circuit programme provides an overload of your cardiorespiratory system (especially the hard circuits), taxes your muscular system by forcing it to work against increased resistance, and forces the key joints involved in moving your body to go through a wider range of motion than they commonly encounter. The result, I believe, will be better, more powerful performances.

Article by Walt Reynolds

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