Archive for December, 2011|Monthly archive page

Total Body in 10 Minutes

Guest post of the day…

I have a great workout for you when you are in a rush or are making the time excuse. In 10 Minutes you will get your warm up in, elevate your heart rate and improve your mood. Remember when picking a routine the key is to not make it a routine. Always changing and confusing the muscles is crucial to success. So use this one when you choose and be sure to break it out when that little voice tells you “there is not enough time” for a workout.

Lets start with the movements. First is the air squat. Take your feet and place them under your shoulders. Then shoot your hips back and down like you are going to sit back on the couch. Literally back and down. Keep a nice upright chest do not fold yourself in half. Try to look exactly like this picture at the bottom. Then stand back up so your hips and knees are locked out and repeat. A couple key things to remember: keep a vertical flat back and stay on your heels. If anything starts to hurt then stop and consult with a trainer about your form.

Next movement is a Burpee. Nope that is not misspelled, Burpee is correct. Start standing then drop down so your chest is on the floor. Then get back to your feet jump and clap. It does not matter what goes on in the middle you can peel yourself up or do a push up. Just think about the two end points chest to the deck then jump and clap. Last movement is a V-up. Lay flat on the floor on your back. Extend your arms over your head. Now bring your feet and arms together over the center of your body at the same time. Finish position looks like this.  If that is too difficult then lift your legs as high as you can. Scaling is perfectly acceptable.

Now you have the movements, lets get to the workout.

You have 2 min to warm up. Get the blood flowing by hitting some jumping jacks, light jogging and dynamic stretching. Since you only have 10 min we will cut 2 min off for the warm up so no excuses about time. Oh yeah this workout is time based. Get a stop watch or use your phone. At the end of the 8 minutes you will record the amount of work you have done.

The Workout is….

20 Air Squats
10 Burpees
20 V-ups

Do that as many times as you can in 8 Min.

At the end of eight minutes record your score. Your score equals how many rounds you completed. An example would be 2 rounds plus 5 burpees.

Three Things to remember during this workout
1) Breath. During your squats and Burpees espcially. It is difficult to establish a breathing pattern during the V-ups but do your best.
2) Keep an active core during your air squats. It should be engaged and tight at all times during the movement.
3) This workout is about pushing yourself. Break through that mental barrier and work for the full 8 minutes are hard as you can. If you only get one round that is fine. As long as you put out your best effort!

I want to touch on the importance of recording your work. This is a great way for you to keep track of your progress. Think of it like running a mile. You want to get faster each time. If the scale does not change but you double your rounds I can guarantee you will be looking and feeling better.

Another tip for this workout is to do it with a friend. If the two of you are working hard together it will push you to work harder. If you are embarrassed or unsure of yourself pick a good friend and go outside your comfort zone. The results will be amazing. This blog post was kindly written for us by Geo Rockwell, founder of Fitrilla.com, where fitness entrepreneurs share their secrets to success. He has his CrossFit level one certification, CrossFit Endurance Certification, ACE Certification, and a Bachelors in Physical Education.

Secrets to a Supercharged Workout: Burn More Fat, Build More Muscle, Spend Less Time

Think about the last time you walked into a gym.  Odds are you saw the same thing you’ve seen a hundred times before.  The bench press and free weight section is packed to the brim with men, boys lifting for 15 seconds, resting (read: flexing, talking, ogling girls, etc.) for 2 minutes.  Then you’ve got your elliptical and treadmill ladies who spend 40, 50, 60+ minutes plodding along on their machine, the only thing changing is the pages of their US Weekly magazine as they casually flip through.  Throw in a healthy portion of fillers, the people who just kind of mill around, check their phone, text their friends, wait in line for the water fountain, and you’ve got a pretty standard gym anywhere in America.

These people mentioned above usually spend more time at the gym than I do.  This makes sense as most people think more time spent at the gym means they’ve worked harder.  But like almost all things in life, it’s not about what you do, it’s about how you do it. 

You’ve absolutely got to get yourself out of this cycle if you’re one of these people.  The purpose of going to the gym is to make progress; there is no other reason to be at the gym.  If you aren’t doing yourself any good, you’re simply wasting your time.  Mentally, you may feel you are doing something right by going to the gym for 90 minutes a day, but if you look at yourself in the mirror and look pretty much the same as you did 6 months ago, you ain’t doing something right!

Check it out…if you want to look like Sally from accounting, do a Sally from accounting workout (you’ll find these scattered all over the internet).  If you want to look like Ironwoman, Lokelani McMichael (or for you guys, Adrian Peterson) then you’ve got to do short, high-intensity, explosive workouts that replicate the training of professional athletes.  Because you are going to be training at an elevated level, the amount of time spent in the gym can be drastically cut.  IF you are going hard enough, workouts should never go beyond 45 minutes, and in many cases, 30 minutes is all you need.  Think of every infomercial you’ve ever seen….they’re all promising better results in less time.  Well, now you’ve got a non-gimmicky, sure-fire way to achieve better results in less time.  Leave the 5 minute workout DVDs and thigh master for the wannabe’s.

Now, lets get into the nuts and bolts of this format of training.  This type of workout will rely on three pillars; high- intensity interval training, explosive plyometric resistance training, and full-body supersets.  The combination of all three results in a chemical response in your body that provides benefits unseen by standard training methods.  The chemicals involved in this release are HGH (Human Growth Hormone), Testosterone, and IGF-1. 

HIIT

Many of you have submitted questions in the past about running long and slow, as you’ve heard that your body uses fat for fuel during long-duration exercise.  While this is technically true, it doesn’t paint the full picture.  For one, when you stop your long and slow training, your body instantly stops burning fat.  This is because your heart rate hasn’t been elevated enough to raise your metabolism significantly enough to continue to burn calories.  Even more alarming, long slow bouts of cardio signal the release of the hormone cortisol.  Cortisol is a muscle killing chemical that eats up your lean muscle mass.  Think about long-distance runners for a minute…they don’t exactly have muscular physiques, do they? 

The key here is to train at an intensity that elevates your heart rate, so your metabolism continues to burn calories well after your workout has ended.  During the workout you will be burning carbohydrates for energy.  Afterwards, your body will switch to burning fat.  As your heart rate soars, you begin to struggle, and your oxygen demands sky-rocket.  As you inhale more air to meet the needs of your body, your metabolism begins to rise.  This phenomenon is known as EPOC, or post-exercise oxygen consumption. 

Since your carb stores have been depleted during your workout, your body turns to fat stores after your workout to bring your body back to a normal resting state.  The amount of work required to take your body from all out exertion to a normal resting rate is significant, which is why your body continues to burn calories well after you are finished working out.  Some studies suggest that EPOC will cause your body to keep an elevated fat-burning potential for up to 48 hours. 

Want to make use of EPOC and HIIT?  Try either of our jump rope workouts for maximum effect! Found here and here.  If running/biking/swimming/etc is more your thing…try to perform your activity for 20-30 seconds at maximum effort followed by 45 seconds at half-speed.  Repeat this for 20-30 minutes total.

Explosive Plyometric Resistance Training

When I look at an athlete like Adrian Peterson, or UFC fighter Georges St. Pierre, I see a lean, explosive individual.  Their muscle fibers look like they are just itching to explode out of their bodies.  Comparatively, when I look at a powerlifter like Mr. Olympia, Jay Cutler, I see insane size, but I don’t get the same feeling of speed, athleticism, and explosion that the bodies of the other two convey.  Since I’m guessing most of our readers are more concerned with building a lean, athletic appearance, and not so concerned with building 22 inch biceps, training in a way that lends itself towards your goals, is paramount. 

With that said, the old format of lifting as heavy as possible, then resting for minutes on end before repeating is great if you want to look like Mr. Jay Cutler.  Bodybuilders use this technique to add massive size gains to their frames.  If you want to look like a lean, mean, fighting machine, try supersetting standard movements with explosive plyometric exercises.

Use heavy weights (3-4 sets, 6-8 reps) with this technique and limit your rest time (hopefully to nothing!) between the secondary exercise in the pair.

Some examples of training combos would include:

  • Barbell Incline Bench Press supersetted with explosive 20 Mountain Climbers
  • Bentover Barbell Row supersetted with 15 Squat Jumps
  • Lat Pulldowns supersetted with 12 Burpees
  • Front Barbell Squats supersetted with 10 Plyometric Pushups

Make a concerted effort to put maximum effort into the plyometric portion of the superset.  Go about completing these exercises in a calculated, methodical manner.  Think explosive.  Think max intensity.

This type of training will cause your body to wonder what the heck is going on.  Your heart rate is going to soar, hormones are going to be released in far greater quantity, and EPOC is going to come on in full effect. All in all, you’ve just done more for your body than any of those other people spending three times as long in the gym.

Full-Body Supersets

This next piece of advice is great for both men and women, but all you brodies out there, pay special attention.  Whenever I see guys at the gym, they are often supersetting between two exercises, hitting the same body part.  Think, military press and front dumbbell raises.  This is a fantastic way to add size and strength, and is a technique used by many bodybuilders.  However, as I mentioned earlier, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess most of you aren’t body builders.  This type of supersetting doesn’t do much for your metabolism.  In order to continue to build that muscle, while at the same time burning fat, go for full-body supersets.

By combining upper and lower body movements, with adequate intensity, you will cause your body to release greater amounts of HGH, testosterone, and IGF-1, than if you were to stick to the same body part supersetting you’re probably used to.

The release of these chemicals does wonders for those wanting to add lean muscle mass to their frames.  As an added bonus, the fat burning effects of EPOC (which you will experience if you are maintaining the right intensity between upper/lower body movements) is going to shred you up at the same time.  No more weight training PLUS cardio days at the gym.  Knock it all out in one intense workout.

To get the full benefits from this type of training, make sure you go heavy on the weights.  Aim for 6-8 reps per exercise and use compound movements whenever possible.  A good full-body routine would include the following:

  • Wide Grip Pullups supersetted with Pushups
  • Military Press supersetted with Deadlifts
  • Bench Press supersetted with Barbell Squats
  • Close Grip Bench Press supersetted with Barbell Clean and Press
  • Dumbbell Snatch supersetted with Box Jumps

 

In closing, standard isolation exercises, long and low-intensity cardio, and long rest periods are great for bodybuilders.  However, the fact is, 99.9% of you aren’t bodybuilders.  You’re regular people who simply want to add muscle, lose fat, and look great under your clothes.  Long, lean, and athletic.    I know exactly how you feel. In order to look that way, you must train that way.  Get yourself in gear and begin using the methods laid out in this article.  Stay tuned, because our next write-up is going to feature more advanced technique which combines all three methods into one insane workout.  Happy lifting!

Slim up for Winter! Yes you read that correctly…

So here we are, the holiday season upon us yet again.  We just got through Thanksgiving in one piece and are now spending the next several weeks looking ahead to Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever else gives us reason to celebrate.  Time off work, lots of eating, gifts, drunken holiday parties; things are looking up.  But see, that is the problem with winter.  It starts off with such a bang, lifts our spirits, and then once January 2nd hits…..back to reality.

Depending on where you live, you’re looking at a solid 3, 4, or even 5 months of cold weather, grey skies, rain and/or snow.  (Unless of course you’re like me and living in Southern California…although I will still find reason to complain about being cold whenever the temperature dips below 60).

I’ll be perfectly honest with you; going to the gym after getting home from work at 5:30, when it’s pitch black out, rainy, and 35 degrees, flat-out sucks.  There’s no way around it.  It’s saps your motivation, it’s uncomfortable, and at the risk of being over dramatic, it’s horrible.

Love handles everywhere rejoice.  They live to see another day.

What’s even worse, the majority of you did so well over the spring, summer, and fall.  You exercised regularly, ate better, and started to see progress.  Winter hits, and unfortunately for so many people, it’s like hitting a reset button.  All the progress slowly vanishes and you’re essentially back to where you started from last year.  It’s an endless cycle of one step forward, one step backward.

So we’re faced with a dilemma…do we brave the cold, miserable weather and force ourselves to do something we reallllly don’t want to do, or pull our best Yogi the Bear impersonation, fatten up, and hibernate all winter?  Neither option seems all that enjoyable….but what if there was a third option?

Let me get one very common misconception out of your head right now; you do NOT need a gym to lose weight, build muscle, stay healthy, etc.  What if you could continue to see the progress you saw all summer, without ever leaving your home?  That was rhetorical; we both know that would be awesome.

In home workouts have been shown time and time again to be just as, if not more effective than spending time in a gym.  All you need is an effective in home workout program to follow along with and getting your exercise during those long, cold, winter days is easier than ever.  The biggest challenge here is finding an effective workout program so you aren’t simply spinning your wheels all winter.  Try staying away from the countless sites giving you a workout plan consisting of a laundry list of exercises to perform in order.  Honestly, what could be more boring than that?  It’s a chore having to get through them.  Some may try to spruce up their plans by giving you a quick video clip for each exercise.  Oh my God, really?  A 10 second clip showing me each movement on the laundry list you provided me?  Where do I sign up..?  Get real.  Worse yet, those in-home pieces of exercise equipment.  For the love of God, please stay away from things like this.

Let me paint a picture for you for a minute.  You get home from work.  Change out of those uncomfortable work clothes.  Start dinner.  Move into the living room.  Fire up your exercise class on your laptop or TV.  While dinner is cooking you spend 30-45 minutes taking an exercise class that leaves you dripping in sweat.  Exercise for the day complete.

You didn’t have to leave your warm, cozy home to brave the bitter cold.  You didn’t waste time driving around town.  You were able to kill two birds with one stone by getting your workout in while dinner cooked.  You’ve saved time and you’ve put the love handles on warning; this winter things will be different!

The best programs are the ones that allow you to actively follow along with your instructor.  This has been the mantra I’ve followed since day 1.  When your instructor on the TV is doing burpees, you’re doing burpees.  When your instructor is doing lunges into dumbbell curls, so are you.  When your instructor breaks, you break.  By working out in this format, there is little left to chance.  There is nothing for you to think about.  The program you follow along with (if it’s a good one) has been designed with a goal in mind.  What’s more, (and if it’s a REALLY good one), it brings you closer to meeting that goal.

Open your mind to other formats of fitness.  Fitness is NOT about having to be in a gym everyday to see progress.  Fitness is NOT about a laundry list of items to complete each day.  Fitness is about actively engaging your body through the use of a wide variety of exercises and workouts (see: Body Diversity Training).  As long as you have a well-designed program, it is much more likely you will realize success.  This winter, while you’re sitting around at home feeling guilty because you skipped the gym, but not guilty enough to overcome your desire to stay put, consider giving in home workouts a try.

If all this has left you more confused about where to turn now, feel free to leave a comment or shoot us an email.  We’ll be more than happy to help you find an in-home program that works best for you.

How to Double the Effects of Your Abdominal Workout

You all know the standard routine; do a hundred crunches, a hundred bicycle kicks, a hundred flutter kicks, a hundred fill in the blank, in hopes of getting that ripped midsection. While doing those movements surely won’t hurt, what if there was a more effective way to get the ripped abs you wanted? Want to spend less time in the gym doing abs and get better results? Sign me up.

To fully understand the logic behind this, one must first understand some basic physiology of the abdominal muscles. Have you ever noticed that certain muscles in your body are harder to grow than others? For instance, both your calves and forearms require a LOT of attention to see any visible improvements. The reason for this is both of these muscle groups are constantly worked throughout your day. Typing, eating, petting your dog, combing your hair; all of these movements require significant use of your forearms. Walking, running, standing, climbing stairs; these activities draw on the muscles in your calves for support and power. Since these groups are worked on such a constant basis, we need to really go above and beyond to really shock these muscles. Our abs are no different. Whether we are standing, breathing, turning to the side, or performing any number of basic movements, our abs are going to come into play. This is why doing hundreds of sit-ups is going to produce slow and mediocre results. To your body, those sit-ups aren’t a whole lot different than the stress induced by every day moving around.

Think of it like this; if you wanted to target your biceps and develop some really great musculature in your arms, would you lift a tiny spoon, or would you opt for something heavier, like a set of dumbbells to stimulate growth. Lifting that spoon a thousand times a day will certainly lead to some benefits, but will also take much more of your time and energy than curling a set of dumbbells would. Not to mention, the progress made by lifting the dumbbells will be ten-fold. Take this approach to your midsection. View your abdominals the way you view your biceps, back, or any other major muscle group. Pound them with heavy weights to encourage growth and eye-grabbing definition.

We’re going to show you have to shave an easy 15 minutes off your abdominal workout by including a few weighted movements into your routine. So many people will spend 20, 30, or more minutes working their midsection. When you are doing tons of weightless movements like flutter kicks, bicycle crunches, and sit-ups, its no wonder it takes so long. Treat your abs like any other muscle and aim for repetitions in the 8-15 range. Go for short rest between sets, because, unlike other muscles, recovery time for abdominals is much less than other muscle groups. This will ensure a constant level of stress is placed on the muscles, giving you a better workout in less time.

Some great exercises to incorporate into your ab routine would include:

Ab Crunch Machine: Pump the weight up to a level where getting 12 reps is tough, and 15 feels like its going to be impossible. Work through the (good) pain, and get those reps in. One of the best exercises out there for hitting the abdominals with weight.

Hanging Leg Raises with Dumbbells: This is a great exercise to hit the lower and middle sections of your abdominals. Hang from a pull-up bar or other object while grasping a dumbbell between your feet. Slowly bring your knees to your chest before lowering back to the start position.

Decline Plate Crunches: Simply adding a plate or dumbbell to standard weightless ab exercises is a great and extremely simple way to ratchet up the intensity. Grasp the plate firmly across your chest and do a standard sit-up on the decline bench. For added benefit, and to hit your obliques add in a slight twist to each side at the each repetition.

Weighted Planks: Get yourself into plank position and have a buddy throw a plate across the mid-section of your back. You will instantly feel your abs tighten to support the additional load. Try to hold for a full minute. Once you can easily get to the minute mark, increase the weight on your back.

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