Peanut Butter: Get Your Facts (and Fats) Straight

In honor of National Peanut Butter day, which was earlier this month, we’re bringing you this piece by Dr. P.K. Newby.  Dr. Newby will be bringing her unique and interesting take on food and nutrition to Share It Fitness as one of our regular contributors.  Her wealth of knowledge and experience allows her to give a very informed opinion on the dietary concerns a lot of you guys have….certainly more so than I can!  To learn a bit more about her, check out her bio found on her blog. 

 

 

Why peanut butter?

I love peanut butter. Not like I love divine lobster bisque or decadent chocolate brownies, of course, which are infrequent treats that are not a part of my usual diet.  On the other hand, peanut butter is creamy, delicious, satisfying, and good for you, so it actually can be a part of your regular repertoire.  An almost-daily pleasure for me. I even keep a jar at my office alongside a loaf of whole grain bread, and peanut butter on toast is a frequent late morning breakfast or early afternoon snack at work.  Incidentally, I recently learned that my colleagues and research assistants apparently find my affection for peanut butter on toast rather amusing.  Yes it’s true, you might often hear me say  “Wait, I just need to make myself a piece of toast!” if you try to drag me into a mind-numbing meeting, but I still fail to see why this is funny.  It’s not like I’m neurotic about it or anything placing exactly one piece of bread in the toaster until it’s the perfect level of crisp brownness, lovingly spreading the succulent butter on the hot toast, waiting until it melts perfectly, and then carefully cutting it in half. I just like it, that’s all.  Can’t a girl eat her peanut butter in peace? Geesh.

Anyhow, writing about peanut butter is a good chance to highlight the nutrition facts about something so many people love and some people fear. (Not in a healthy, “I have a peanut allergy and don’t want to die” sort of way, but an irrational belief based on nutrition misunderstandings or misinformation.)  Hence today’s Top Ten Peanut Butter Facts below…

…read the full article HERE on Play a Good Knife and Fork.

Ease into Fitness…A Progressive Plan for Beginners

After checking out our Total Body Blitz  (part two found here) workout plan, many of our readers felt this plan was a bit too intense for someone brand new to fitness, or has been out of the game for a while.  This was a fair assessment.  Our Total Body Blitz workout is definitely for someone with at least basic fitness abilities and an understanding of exercise.  There were many requests by some of you beginner’s for a plan that would help ramp you up to more intense routines. 

After hearing all the concerns, we spent the past month putting together what we felt is the perfect balance of ease and progressive challenges to give your body a solid base to start a more high-intensity routine.  If you were one of our readers who felt unready to take the Total Body Blitz challenge, the following workout plan is exactly what you will need to get your body and mind ready for more advanced routines. 

At the end of the day, you know your body best.  If you feel the 4 weeks included in this plan still doesn’t have you where you think you should be, feel free to run through this routine one more time.  If you’re giving these workouts your all, you should definitely be ready for something more challenging after the 8th week. 

One last point; there are obviously different levels of beginners out there.  If some of this stuff seems too easy, feel free to add a) total time to cardio b) lengthen the “work” portions of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) movements or c) continually bump up weights used while weight training. 

This routine has a heavy emphasis on cardio, as this is where most of our readers felt they were lacking most.  This is understandable as this is the aspect of fitness that gets most “rusty” for those that have been away from fitness for a while.  Take things easy at first and gradually bump up your intensity, weights, etc.  As always, any questions, feel free to ask.

Week 1

Day 1: 30 minute jog on treadmill/outside.  Try to maintain 12-13 min/mile pace.

Day 2: 3 sets of 10: Dumbbell bench press, bicep curls, bench dips, upright rows, tricep kickbacks, dumbbell military press. 100 crunches.

Day 3: 30 minutes HIIT cycling on stationary bike.  Use a :15/1:45 format.  What this means is, cycle as fast as you can for 15 seconds, then cycle at a more relaxed pace for 1 minute and 45 seconds.  Repeat this :15/1:45 cycle a total of 15 times. (30 minutes.)

Day 4: 3 sets of 10: Dumbbell squats, bench step ups, dumbbell lunges, calf raises.  60 body weight squats. 100 crunches

Week 2

Day 1:  40 minute jog.  Try to maintain a 11-12 min/mile pace

Day 2: Jump rope HIIT.  Get yourself a cheap jump rope (~$7) and try a :20/:40 cycle.  What this means is, jump rope for 20 seconds non-stop.  Follow this with 40 seconds rest.  Repeat this :20/:40 cycle 40 times for a total of 40 minutes.

Day 3: 3 sets of 10: Lat pulldowns, dumbbell squats, dumbbell skullcrushers, incline dumbbell bench press, reverse dumbbell lunges, tricep rope pushdowns, incline dumbbell curls.

Day 4: Cycle 45 minutes.  Try to maintain a 12-15 mph pace.

Week 3

Day 1: 3 sets of 10: Barbell bench press, incline barbell bench press, close grip seated rows, arnold presses, hammer curls, wide grip rows, reverse dumbbell flys. 50 bicycle crunches/50 flutter kicks/50 crunches/30 second plank.

Day 2: 45 minute jog.  Try to maintain a 10-11 min/mile pace.

Day 3: 45 minutes HIIT cycling on stationary bike.  Use a :20/1:10 format.  Repeat this cycle 30 times.

Day 4: Complete the following exercises in as few sets as possible: 50 box jumps/500 jumps with the jump rope/50 box step ups/100 mountain climbers/20 burpees/100 bicycle crunches

 

Week 4

Day 1: 50 minute jog.  Try to maintain a 10 min/mile pace.

Day 2: 20 minutes HIIT cycling (:20/1:10 format) , 20 minutes HIIT jump roping (:25/:40 format), 100 body weight squats, 100 lunges.

Day 3:  3 sets of 10:  Barbell bench press, incline dumbbell flys, close grip bench press, lat pull down, barbell preacher curls, lateral dumbbell raise, seated wide grip rows, bench dips, tricep rope pushdown.  2 sets of planking for 45 seconds.

Day 4: HIIT running.  Follow a 15 second/1 minute and 45 second format (:15/1:45).  Sprint at near 100% effort for 15 seconds.  Follow this up with a 1 minute and 45 second jog at a relaxed pace.  Repeat this cycle 15 times for a total workout of 30 minutes.  Follow this up with 15 minutes cycling, aiming for a 15 mph pace. 

This will have taken you through one month of training.  You should notice a heavy emphasis on not only cardio, but on HIIT (high intensity interval training) cardio.  This method of training is far more effective for increasing metabolism, burning calories, building lower body muscle, and increasing cardiovascular endurance than static-state cardio, i.e. jogging/cycling/etc at one pace for an extended period of time.  By balancing both formats of cardio (static/HIIT) we are able to progressively increase endurance levels in newer exercisers.  If any of this feels too difficult, don’t feel bad about backing off and taking things even slower.  You may need to extend the period you are on this beginner routine, but rest assured, you will get to where you want to be eventually. 

The most important thing about this routine is consistency.  Don’t skip days, stay consistent, and give 100% effort everytime.  You do that and good things are sure to follow.  Any questions, feel free to ask as always!

The Secret Total Body Builder

 

If you’re reading this, you’re in luck.  You are about to get filled in on a little secret that is going to literally change how you work out forever.  This tip is going to a)increase your fat burning potential, b)give you the nicest set of legs and glutes you’ve ever imagined possible, and c)make it easier to add muscle in other areas of your body as an added bonus.  Sound too good to be true?  Well, it’s not.  These benefits are all the results of one super exercise; the squat.

If you could only do one exercise for the rest of your life, the squat would undoubtedly be the one you should choose.  First off, there are multiple variations of the squat.  Sumo squats, plie squats, front squats, hack squats, jump squats…the list goes on.  Don’t get overwhelmed.  Stick to the traditional squat, and feel free to work in other variations from time to time (I’ll give you suggestions below).

The squat (right up there with the deadlift) works more muscles in the body than any other exercise.  This means you are working more muscles in less time.  With squats, you don’t need to worry about doing the boring isolation exercises to hit your legs.  You guys know what I’m talking about; the hamstring curl machine, or the leg extension machine, or the hip abductor machine…forget those.  Put more time into squats, deadlifts, and leg presses, and your entire leg routine is set.  The squat is going to work the muscles in your thighs (quads), hamstrings, butt (glutes), and calves.  But the fun doesn’t stop there; muscles in your lower back, abdominal region, shoulders, and neck are also going to be called in for support.  These stabilizing muscles will be recruited when you perform a proper squat.  Not to mention, you’re going to give yourself a cardiovascular workout at the same time.  This much work and muscle tension is going to result in a boosted metabolism, which is going to result in an increase in the number of calories your body burns.

It’s no secret that ladies in particular are especially concerned about their lower half.  The reverse seems to be true for the guys.  Well, I’ve got a little information for you both today.  For those concerned with developing a killer butt, thighs, and hamstrings, the squat is the answer.  Nothing is going to get you perfectly shaped downstairs the way the squat will.  Work a few variations into your routine to be sure you’re hitting all of those lower body muscles accordingly.  Ladies, do me a favor and PLEASE don’t be afraid to do these for fear of getting too big and bulky.  I’ve worked with, or have worked alongside, hundreds of women over my years in the fitness biz.  The ones with the tightest, most toned, and best looking lower bodies were the ones that made heavy barbell squats a large part of their routine.  And for you guys out there with the toothpick legs and big upper body beach muscles, I’ve got a tip for you too.  The legs contain the most musculature in your body.  When you work and build the largest muscle in your body, a chemical reaction is going to take place, making it easier to add muscle EVERYWHERE else.  That reaction is the creation and release of testosterone into your system.  The excess testosterone (ladies, I can already hear you getting antsy – chill out.  You guys don’t have this excess testosterone that’s going to make you big like a guy.) is going to make your upper body gains come about easier than ever before.  This is all because you started working your typically neglected leg muscles.

So, the next time you think about jumping on the stair mill for 30 minutes to work your legs, or replacing the leg day you know you should be having with back and biceps, STOP.  Walk over to a smith machine, or even better, a squat rack  and follow the routine below:

Tips: Over time, mix up the order of your exercises as well as including different types of exercises into your routine.  Always make the squat the key to your lower body routine.  Use heavy weights so the last rep or two are very difficult.  That said, be sure to practice your form before moving on to heavier weights as not to put yourself at injury risk.

There you have it.  Doing the workout above, with squats being the focal point, will put you on a path towards increased metabolism, a beautiful lower body, and a toned and athletic looking body from head to toe.

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Buy Organic. Eat Better. Eat Healthier. Spend LESS?

You read that right.  What if there were a way to buy fresh, local, organic produce, for LESS than the non-organic stuff you’d find in the produce aisle at your favorite grocery store?  You’d be interested wouldn’t you? 

For those that are unfamiliar with what organic means, I’ll quickly break it down.  Simply stated, certified organic means organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones. 

The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) defines organic as follows:

“Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.”

Now, whether or not organic food is more nutritious, is up for discussion.  There are certainly research studies demonstrating both sides of the argument.  That said, some recent studies conducted at the University of California, Davis, found that organic tomatoes contained greater concentration of vitamin C, as well as cancer-fighting compounds called phytochemicals.  What isn’t up for discussion however, is the fact organic produce won’t be  introducing carcinogenic pesticides and fertilizers into your system.  You can also rest assured knowing the food you are eating hasn’t been genetically modified.  Shouldn’t food be consumed the way nature intended? 

As far as taste goes however, there is no comparison.  Hundreds of gourmet chefs who opt for organic products in their restaurants, blind-taste testings, and the opinion of millions of consumers make a strong claim that organic food simply tastes better.  If you are purchasing from a local organic farm or market, this makes even more sense as the food you are buying is fresher. 

Now, I think most of us would buy organic if it simply weren’t so expensive.  $6 for a dozen eggs?  $3.50 for a small bundle of carrots?  $12 for a pound of hamburger meat?  These aren’t prices the majority of Americans are willing to spend, even if the alternative means eating produce covered in synthetic chemicals and meat from sick animals.  These high prices are what you’ll typically find in the organic section of your supermarket (if you’re lucky enough to have one).  Even farmer’s markets, though less expensive than the supermarket, are typically out of the price range for most consumers. 

But I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  There is a way to buy your produce and even meat products, directly from the source, and it’ll cost you less than buying the non-organic counterparts would at the supermarket.  The answer: CSA or Community Supported Agriculture.

What is a CSA you may be wondering.  A CSA is an alternative, locally based model of agriculture and food distribution.  To state it simply, you subscribe via a weekly or bi-weekly fee to a local farm.  In turn, the farm delivers a fresh, organic, and diverse box of produce to your door or nearby pickup location weekly or bi-weekly, depending on your subscription schedule.  

By using this method, you get the best of what’s in season, you support your local farmer, get a variety of fruits and vegetables you may not have otherwise purchased, and get more bang for your bucks.  Healthier, better tasting, and less expensive.  What’s the catch?  There isn’t one. 

Most farms operating a CSA model charge between 20-50 dollars for a LARGE box of produce.  Depending on how often you want a box delivered, you can determine the comparative costs.   

Being from San Diego, we have an abundance of local farmers who use this model to distribute their produce.  One of my favorites is Be Wise Ranch.  To get an idea of what you’re getting for your money, take a look at this recent box:

This is an example of a large box from Be Wise Ranch.  All of this organic, tasty, and locally grown produce delivered to you, for $30.  You simply can’t beat that.  There are of course hundreds of farms that participate, and you can easily search Google to find something near you. 

For the meat eaters, there are of course cattle, chicken, pork, etc. farms out there that do the same thing.  Prices are much more affordable than supermarket prices.  An example of a cattle CSA is Green Beef.  For $64 a month, Green Beef will deliver 8 pounds of grass-fed, organic, and delicious beef.  This comes out to just $8/pound.  You’re not going to find organic beef at this price anywhere you look, with the exception of those who are buying in bulk (1/4 cow, 1/2 cow, etc.) 

The point of all this is, organic, healthy foods don’t have to be expensive.  You just have to know where to look.  Support your local farmer and benefit yourself in the process by signing up for a CSA. 

*I am not an employee of, have any stake in, or have been asked to write a recommendation for Be Wise Ranch or Green Beef.

Do This…Look Like That…Total Body Blitz Workout Part II

Hopefully if you guys are reading this, you’ve already made it through the first part of this workout series.  If not, refer back to this post and give it a read.  It’s always best to start from the beginning of a plan, rather than jump right in at another point.  Things have been designed to build upon one another which taxes your body in a specific way.  The order in which you follow this, in my humble opinion, is very important.  Order and structure will lead to gains.  So fight the urge to jump right in if this is the first time you’ve seen this workout and start with Part I.

From all the feedback we’ve been getting it seems like this workout is absolutely KILLER and, more importantly, helping you guys make progress.  It has been so great to hear about all your successes in the first month.  Keep it up, stick to the plan, and good things are sure to follow.

As I mentioned in the previous post, part II begins increasing the TUT (time under tension) your muscles will endure.  This is an advanced technique which requires you to lift and lower the weight slooowlly.  I’ll get to just how slowly in a few minutes.  To accomplish this, we’re going to completely switch things up and lower the weight you’re lifting.  This is a great way to ensure your gains continue as your body isn’t going to know what to do.  When your body doesn’t know what to do, it can’t adapt to the stimulus, thereby leading towards consistent gains.  There is nothing worse than putting the time and energy into doing the same routine day in, day out, for months on end, only to realize minimized gains at best.  If you’re going to put the effort in, might as well follow a plan that makes it worthwhile.  Part II makes things extremely worthwhile…

Now, when you see (+TUT) next to a workout day, it means every exercise should be performed using the technique described below.  This technique will be increasing the total time under tension your muscle experiences.  To do this properly, I want you to do two things: 1) On the lift (concentric) portion of a lift, count to 4 in your head.  When you reach 4, you should have completely lifted the weight.  2)On the lower (eccentric) portion of a lift give it a full 2 count in your head.  When you reach 2, you should have completely lowered the weight.

Working out in this format will result in a 6 second TUT for each repetition.  Studies have shown that for each exercise, TUT between 40-70 seconds is most effective.  I believe the higher end of this scale is best.  That being said, most TUT exercises will be done for 8-12 reps.  The exact number of repetitions isn’t as important; you want to be feeling the burn and enducing failure on your last rep.  Whether that is rep 8 or rep 12 is less of a difference.  You be the judge of where you are at, and if you need to increase/decrease the weight used, go for it.  Biggest thing to make sure of, is you are doing full 4/2 counts (lift/lower), for a total of 6 seconds per repetition.

In addition, we’re going to be introducing you to a variety of cardio elements on cardio days.  By cross-training, we’re going to continue to push the body and get you to burn off those stubborn LBs of body fat.

Week 1

  • Monday – 3 sets of 8-12 using TUT format: Dumbbell bench press, incline dumbbell bench press, skullcrushers, dumbbell military press, barbell upright row, barbell preacher curls.  100 crunches/100 bicycle crunches (perform crunches as you normally would, not with the TUT technique)
  • Tuesday –  30 min HIIT cycling (20 seconds 100% intensity/40seconds 60% intensity, repeat for 30 minutes).  30 minutes jogging at a steady pace.
  • Wednesday – 3 sets of 8-12 using TUT format: Squats, deadlifts, leg press machine, calve raises, hamstring curls.
  • Thursday – 100 squat jumps/100 bodyweight squats/100 russian lunges/200 line jumps/50 burpees
  • Friday – 3 sets of 8-12 using TUT format: Dumbbell bench press, incline dumbbell bench press, skullcrushers, dumbbell military press, barbell upright row, barbell preacher curls.  100 crunches/100 bicycle crunches (perform crunches as you normally would, not with the TUT technique)

Tips: On Thursday, perform each set of exercises in as few sets as possible.  For weight days, you will want to lower the weight used so you can perform 8-12 reps with the TUT technique.  You will want to completely fatigue by the last rep or two on your 2nd/3rd sets.

Week 2

  • Monday – 5 minutes of weighted speedskaters/rest 90 seconds/5 minutes high knees/rest 90 seconds/5 minutes jump rope.  Repeat 3 more times.
  • Tuesday – 3 sets of 8-12 using TUT format: Squats, bulgarian squats, reverse dumbbell lunges, calve raises, quad extension, hamstring curls. 100 box jumps.
  • Wednesday – 20 minutes HIIT row machine (:20/1:00 format), 20 minutes HIIT sprinting (jog for .1, sprint for .1, repeat)
  • Thursday – 3 sets of 8-12 using TUT format: Lat pulldowns, close grip rows, hammer curls, military press, dumbbell flys, incline dumbbell flys, dips, front dumbbell raises, dumbbell shrugs.
  • Friday – 60 minutes HIIT jump roping (:45 jumping/45 seconds resting)

Tips: Continue to focus on counting slowly in your head.  If you feel you are able to bump the weight up and still maintain the 4/2 lift/lower technique, feel free.

Week 3

  • Monday – 3 sets of 8-12 using TUT format: Bent over barbell rows, bench press, incline bench press, lateral dumbbell raises, incline bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, tricep rope pushdown, barbell upright rows. 100 leg raises/100 flutter kicks.
  • Tuesday – Jump rope 30 minutes (2 minutes jumping/30 seconds rest.  Repeat 15 times.) 20 minutes HIIT cycling (:30/1:30 format)
  • Wednesday – 3 sets of 8-12 using TUT format: Leg press, deadlifts, squats, side barbell squats, sumo squats
  • Thursday – Share It Fitness Challenge Workout Challenge: Black Diamond
  • Friday – 3 sets of 8-12 using TUT format: Wide grip seated rows, lying dumbbell curls, barbell shrugs, arnold press, rear delt dumbbel flys, face pulls, cable rope curls, single arm dumbbell rows on bench

Tips: This week, we’ve included a Share It Fitness workout challenge.  Give this a try to see how you stack up.  These are very strenuous workouts, so don’t feel bad if you can’t make it all the way through.  It’s a good way to gauge your progress.

Week 4

  • Monday – Share It Fitness Workout Challenge: Cross Eyes
  • Tuesday – 3 sets of 8-12 using TUT format: Narrow stance leg press, wide stance leg press, dumbbell squats, 150 box jumps, 50 step ups (Per leg.  Hold dumbbells in each hand), 50 reverse step ups (ditto).
  • Wednesday: 30 minutes HIIT row machine (:30/1 minute format), 30 minutes HIIT cycling (:40/1:20 format)
  • Thursday – 3 sets of 8-12 using TUT format: Dumbbell bench press, skull crushers, incline dumbbell flys, lateral dumbbell raise, dumbbell pullovers, close grip bench press, dumbbell military press
  • Friday – 45 minutes HIIT sprinting (:30/1:15 format), 15 minutes walking backwards at ~2.5 mph pace.

So there you have part II of this Total Body Blitz workout plan.  Things have definitely increased in intensity from part 1, but you guys should easily be able to handle it, especially if you stuck with every workout in part I.  As always, any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to leave a note and I’ll get back to you ASAP!

Stay connected to the Share It Fitness launch by signing up here, and be sure to subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss the rest of this Total Body Blitz workout.

The “Point” Workout

                                 ^ She loves the Point Workout 🙂

Finding a plan that helps you reach your goals is just as much about finding something that works for your lifestyle, as it is finding something that is well designed.  For some people, a highly structured plan that tells them precisely what to do every day of the week is exactly what they need.  But for others, this will only lead to burnout.  You know what kind of person you are.  No matter how much you want to make a change and are committed to following along with a prescribed routine, we both know if that’s not your style, you’re going to get sick of “having” to do a certain workout on a given day, and quit.  Workouts shouldn’t feel like a chore.  They should give you the feeling of motivation, empowerment, and hope that you are making positive changes in your body and health.

Some of you may find success by having a little more autonomy in your workout routine,  and that’s alright.  Unfortunately, 99.9% of fitness bloggers, websites, “experts”, don’t create routines that allow for choice.  They give you a set of exercises to complete, when to complete them, and set you off on your merry way.  While this isn’t inherently bad, it doesn’t take into account the people who don’t/can’t stick to this method of training.  For that reason, I’ve created a point-based workout system whereby various workouts have been assigned different point totals.  Each week your only goal is to hit a specific number of points.  Assigned points, total points required, and a few other key variables have been precisely calculated throughout trial and error with real-life clients.  Rest assured, by sticking to the very general structure of this workout, you WILL make progress, you WILL develop the body you want, and you WILL improve your health.

The only structure you need to follow for this workout to be a success is as follows:

  1. Use the workouts  listed for each point category, as these have been found to be most effective
  2. Don’t repeat the same workout back-to-back days
  3. Two days of rest a week is generally a good idea

1 Point Workouts – Good for days you are feeling less motivated, lack time for a full workout, or need a break but don’t want to skip working out completely.  These workouts typically focus on one element of fitness, i.e. cardio, weight training, and are relatively simple in nature.  You will not want to rely on these workouts too often as they are beginner in nature and a heavy emphasis on 1-pointers will not get you to your goals. 

  • 30-minute jog at a steady pace
  • Weight training one body part, i.e. performing all chest exercises, all bicep exercises, etc.
  • Bodyweight Blast Workout – 100 bodyweight squats/100 crunches/100 burpees
  • 15 minutes HIIT (high intensity interval training) jump roping
  • 1 hour of yoga
  • 45 minutes cycling at a steady pace
  • 20 minutes row machine
  • Jumper – 25 box jumps/ 25 jump squats/ 25 jump jacks.  Do 4 rounds total.

2 Point Workouts – These workouts bump the intensity.  Filling this into your weekly routine will certainly help you begin advancing towards your goals.  Mixing 2-pointers in with higher point workouts is a good formula to ensure you are getting proper rest and not overtraining, if you are a relatively new exerciser.  if you are more advanced, use 2-pointers on days you are feeling a bit sluggish.

  • Weight training – push/pull format , pick one of the following groups per day: back/biceps, chest/triceps/ shoulders, legs/abs.  You decide the exercises, just aim for failure on your last rep or two of your final set.
  • 60 minutes jog, steady pace
  • 30 minute swim
  • 60 minutes cycling, steady pace
  • Power Lift Workout – 3 sets of 10 -squats, deadlifts, wide grip pullups (w/assistance if needed), military press, bench press, incline bench press, leg press
  • 30 minutes HIIT (45 seconds work/45 seconds rest) jump roping
  • 30 minutes HIIT (30 seconds elevated pace/45 seconds slower pace) rowing
  • The Longest Mile workout
  • The Slow Burn workout
  • 1 hour spin class/pilates class/intense yoga/group fitness class of your choice
  • The Black Diamond workout

3 Point Workouts – These workouts are no joke.  Incorporating these into your weekly schedule is going to get you to your goals fast.  As your fitness levels progress, you will likely be able to include more and more of these into your routine.  Just be careful not to overdo it if you are still relatively new.  These workouts will include advanced cardio and strength based elements into one routine to create  a serious workout.  Others will provide advanced HIIT only training which will fully exhaust your body.   

  • 60 minutes HIIT spriting, i.e. 30 seconds sprint/1:30 jog, repeat.
  • Power HIIT workout – 3 x 10 Bench Press, HIIT (30 second work/30 second rest) burpees 10 minutes, 3 x 10 Military Press, HIIT (30 second work/30 second rest) mountain climbers 10 minutes, 3 x 10 Lat Pulldown,  HIIT (30 second sprint/30 second cool down) cycling 10 minutes, 3 x 10 deadlifts,  HIIT (30 second sprint/1:30 minute jog) sprinting 10 minutes.  60 seconds rest between weight exercises.  Upon finish third set of weight exercise, go directly into HIIT exercise.  Rest 1 minute after completing each HIIT exercise.
  • The Heart Pounder workout
  • The Dash Workout
  • The Max Effect workout
  • HIIT combo – 20 minutes HIIT cycling, 20 minutes HIIT jump rope, 20 minutes HIIT running
  • Power cycling workout – 60 minutes stationary cycling with dumbbells.  Over the course of an hour, perform 60 lateral raises, 60 front raises, 60 bicep curls, 60 military presses. 60 cross punches.
  • Ab Effect – 500 crunches, 5 minutes planking (break up into as few sets as possible), 500 flutter kicks, 1000 jumps on the jump rope.
  • 25 x 100 workout – Sprint 100 meters, rest 10 seconds, repeat 24 more times.

So looking at what we’ve got, I’ve given you 28 different workouts to follow along with.  This should include more than enough variety to keep you from burning out.  Most people settle into a routine of 5-6 different workouts and repeat those.  That is fine, but if you plan on doing this long-term, make sure to continually include new workouts into your standard routine.  One of the key concepts to any successful training plan is something that is unique to Share It Fitness and what we’ve built our name on; Body Diversity Training.  Simply put, individuals who incorporate various forms of exercise into their routine (weight training, HIIT, yoga, bootcamp style workouts, plyometrics, pilates, cycling) are far more successful, fit, and healthy than those who focus almost exclusively on weight training or cardio training alone.  The Point Workout relies on BDT to help you achieve your goals.  Get diverse when picking your workouts and create your own total body routine that hits your muscles and cardiovascular system in different ways. 

You may be wondering, what do I do with the points I accumulate?  Well, it’s quite simple.  Each week, you want to hit a total point value.  If you go over that value, good for you!  However, make sure you aren’t overtraining because that will have a reverse effect on your progress.  Since this workout is customizable to any fitness level point totals are based on your current fitness ability.  You know where you’re at, don’t underachieve, and find the category that is best for you.

Weekly Point Goals: 7 (beginner), 9 (intermediate), 11 (advanced).  Every 4 weeks, add 2 points to your weekly goal and go all out for that ONE week.  If you feel you can easily progress to the increased level, it’s time to push up to the next level, i.e. beginner to intermediate, intermediate to advanced.  For advanced exercisers, think about adding an extra training day to your routine.  For the most advanced exercisers, you should never be going beyond 18 points in a given week.  Anything more than this will lead to overtraining and possible injury

So there you have it guys; a very simple and easy to follow routine that breaks away from the traditional structure that you’ve probably been used to seeing.  I’ve seen real-life clients make HUGE gains on their own training in this format.  There’s no reason anyone reading this can’t realize the same results.  Keep up the good work, maintain your focus, and good things are sure to follow. 

If you liked this article, be sure to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss any of our future articles.  Drop by ShareItFitness.com to stay up to date on our full website launch and get yourself a free premium membership in the process!

Slow and Steady? Forget that sHIIT…You’ve got to SPRINT!

 

If you want to see real gains, add sprints and really feel the burn.

Power Start Your Day – Banana Protein Pancakes

The fact of the matter is, muscle doesn’t build itself out of thin air.  You’ve got to consume necessary calories (healthy ones) and ample protein to get lean and cut up.  Throughout the years, I’ve come across so many people who think starving themselves after a workout is the way to go.  Often they’ll take things even further and start skipping meals, breakfast in particular.  They think starting the day with nothing in their stomach will cause their bodies to burn more fat.  In reality, you run the risk of putting yourself in starvation mode, which will have the reverse effect you want. 

When you don’t feed your body ample protein, on a physiological level, you will begin breaking down muscle mass to meet your needs.  All those reps, hard work, and sweat you put in at the gym are going to simply disappear.  This is one of the biggest risks you will face.  We all know the benefits of maintaining lean muscle mass; you look good, feel good, and maintain a higher metabolism which will allow you to burn more calories throughout the day.  Feed your muscles the protein they crave and protect the gains you’ve fought so hard to make.

Getting protein in the morning can be a bit of a challenge when we take away the obvious choices.  Eggs can get a little repetitive if you are eating them all the time.  Protein shakes are nice, but sometimes you want something a little more fulfilling.  Breakfasts consisting of large amounts of sugars and other simple carbs are probably the last way you want to start your day.  For those of you reading this article, you’re in luck.  We’ve taken a typically not-so-healthy breakfast choice, and turned it into something you can be proud to start your day off with.  Enter: Protein Packed Banana Pancakes.

From start to finish, these should take no more than 10 minutes to make.  Not only that, they provide a ton of protein and complex carbohydrates to supply you with a slow and steady source of energy as you begin your day.  They’ll get your metabolism in gear and have your day started off on the right foot.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup instant oats, ground about 5 seconds in a food processor
  • 1.5 scoops vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1/3 cup whole grain flour
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg white
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon greek yogurt (can substitute fat-free plain yogurt or even cottage cheese as well)

Directions

  1. In a bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Mix well.  In a separate bowl, combine banana, yogurt, eggs, and milk.  Mix well.   Combine both bowls together and mix very well.
  2. Spray a non-stick skillet with a light cooking spray to prevent sticking.  Reapply a little cooking spray between pancakes.  Heat the skillet over medium heat.
  3. Pour roughly half a cup of pancake batter into your skillet and let stand for 2 minutes.  The pancake should develop a nice, golden brown color.  Flip the pancake and continue to cook another 60-90 seconds.  Remove the pancake with a spatula and set on a plate.  Repeat this process with the remaining batter.  Recipe should make 3-4 pancakes.

Nutritional Facts per serving

The resulting pancakes will deliver roughly, 450 calories per serving, 80 grams of complex carbohydrates, 30 grams of protein, 8 grams of fat, and 7 grams of fiber.

Average vs. Awesome: How Small Changes to Your Routine Can Make Big Differences

How many people do you know that work out to some degree?  How many people look like the picture above?  I’m going to go out on a limb and guess, not many.  Truth is, developing a lean, fit, and healthy body like the one you see here, isn’t hard.  Having the know-how to achieve your goal, add in a little determination and ANYONE can look and feel great.  We’ll leave the willpower talk for another article, because right now, we’re going to make sure you have the know-how required to turn your average workout into a body-changing routine that is guaranteed to produce results.

Below, we’re going to look at some common forms of exercise, many of which you probably already do on your own.  We’re going to look at what your average person (who looks average) is doing, then we’re going to look at what the sexy, fit, and healthy people are doing.  Often times the changes are so small, you’ll be kicking yourself you didn’t think of this before.  You’ve got to instill it in your head; if you want to look and feel awesome, you’ve got to do a workout that is awesome.  If you want to look and feel like your everyday person, then do the same workout the everyday person does.  It’s that simple.

Treadmill Cardio

Really, any form of cardio could substitute for treadmill here. whether it’s the elliptical, or stationary bike, or row machine.  When you walk into any gym what do you normally see?  A string of (mostly) girls jogging along on their treadmills.  They’ll set the pace at a single speed, flip open their US Weekly magazine, read all about the latest celebrity diets, watch the clock, then hop off 30-60 minutes later.  Mentally, they feel they’ve done something great, which is why they are okay sticking to this lame routine, day in, day out. Think again.

How to make it an AWESOME workout: Put the magazine down.  Brangelina can wait.  Forget running at the same speed the entire time you’re on the treadmill.  To double or even triple the benefits here, incorporate HIIT training into your workout.  HIIT involves short bursts of all out sprints, followed by longer periods of reduced intensity.  Next time you’re at the gym, try something like this: Run at 5 mph for 1:30, followed by :30 sprint at 10mph, followed by 5mph at 1:30, followed by :30 at 10mph, etc.  As your ability progresses, increase your sprint times, speeds, and shorten rest periods to keep your body guessing and the progress a’comin.  

Free Weights

Maybe you’re a girl and you think the simple fact you’re in the free weight section with all the guys is enough to make you feel good about your workout.  Or perhaps you’re one of the dudes in there pumping iron, doing what all the other bro’s are doing, and think it’s gotta work for you too.  Get real.  When people hit the weights they’ll do the standard 8-10 reps, sit around, look at themselves, check out the chicks in the really tight yoga pants, fix their hair, do whatever they do for 90+ seconds.  Then they’ll jump back into it and repeat this process over and over.  You want to get toned, lean, and looking fabulous?  Turn the standard weight training routine on its head.

How to make it an AWESOME workout:  Mixing up your weight training routine every 4-6 weeks is key to continue making gains.  If you’re taking those long rest periods between every set, every single time you workout, you’re doing it wrong.  Try this: superset compound movements together, or string  2, 3, or even 4 isolation exercises together to create a killer combo.  Not only will this shred your muscles up in no time, it will increase your metabolism and fat burning potential, helping you achieve that lean and toned look even faster.  Some examples that will burn those muscles out include:

  • 10 Wide-grip pullups followed by 20 pushups followed by 30 crunches THEN rest 60 seconds before repeating
  • 10 Bent over barbell rows followed by 10 dumbbell bench presses THEN rest 60 seconds
  • 15 Behind the neck lat pulldowns, followed by 12 barbell curls, followed by 12 single arm dumbbell rows.  Rest and repeat combo 2-3 more times.

Workout Schedule

So you think you’ve got yourself a pretty solid plan as it is.  On Mondays you do weights, on Tuesdays you do cardio, on Wednesdays you rest.  You repeat this cycle endlessly.  Your routine becomes monotonous and predictable.  Unfortunately, your body is very well adapted at recognizing this repetition and will eventually respond less to the work you are doing.  What this means is, diminished gains the longer you do the same routine and/or schedule. 

How to make your workout AWESOME:  If you’ve been doing a split schedule for a while, where you’re doing cardio one day and weights the next, try mixing it up.  Including cardio into weight training days is a sure-fire way to jack your metabolism through the roof.  Your body is going to be shocked by the sudden deviation from your standard routine and won’t know how to react.  Expect soreness, increased muscle mass, and lower body fat in the days, weeks, and months ahead.  After doing 3-4 weight training exercises, grab a jump rope and do 15 minutes of HIIT training.  Or hop on the stationary bike and bike 5 miles as fast as you can.  Then, return to the weights.  A ratio of 3-4 weight exercises followed by 10-15 minutes of extreme cardio has been shown to produce better results than constantly separating the two on different days.  Work this type of exercise into the rest of your routine 1-2 days a week. 

Machines

Let me first say, machines are not bad.  They can actually be quite useful when worked into a well-designed fitness plan.  However, if you are like most girls I see at the gym, they are about as far as you’ll venture from the safety of the cardio equipment, for fear of being ogled by hoards of sweaty meatheads.  I’ll save my schtick on why you shouldn’t care what these meatheads are looking at for another day.  Today, I’m going to give you something to supplement the machine work that is sure to double the effects of your workout.

How to make your workout AWESOME: Fine, you’re still not ready for the free weight section, so you’re going to stick to the machines.  Well, there’s something you can do, that requires little equipment and just a bit of spare room, that will really push your body to the max.  That something is plyometrics.  Studies have shown that when plyometrics are combined with a weight training plan, the resulting workout is more effective than either on its own.  Basically, plyometrics give you a natural boost to get you closer to developing that killer physique.  After every couple exercises on the machines, try out some of these movements below. 

The moral of the story is you need to push the envelope if you want to continue making gains and getting closer to the body and health you’ve always wanted.  Doing what everyone else is doing isn’t going to get it done.  Next time you’re at the gym, take a good look at everyone else.  They’re average.  Don’t set your sights for average.  Shooting for average leads to diminished gains, exercise burnout, and an endless cycle of chasing something  that just always seems just out of reach. Stop the chase today and start making real progress.  Give yourself an AWESOME workout and AWESOME results will follow.

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Follow the Golden Ratio to a Perfect Body…General Diet Plan for Active People

So it seemed like a LOT of you guys were totally digging the Do This…Look Like That..Total Body Blitz Workout.  I was happy to see such a great response, and glad so many of you are ready to start a total body change.  A bit cliché, but true; the first step is always the hardest. 

One thing that kept coming up however, was requests for a diet plan.  Creating general dietary plans is always a bit tricky.  Generally, exercise programming (like the workout linked above) is far easier to do effectively for the masses.  Because each of us are so physiologically different, creating a cookie-cutter diet plan that works for everyone is a real challenge.  Not to mention, there are so many different tastes and dietary requirements we all have.  That said, I contacted one our dietitians on staff to get a little extra help with this article.  Together, she and I have created what we believe to be a very good guideline to follow while completing a strenuous workout like the one linked above. 

A few key points to keep in mind; if you find you are gaining weight too fast, i.e. more than a pound a week, feel free to cut back on serving sizes and/or cut out meals as you see fit.  Unlike other diet plans, we’re not going to tell you exactly when you have to eat.  While some may like a highly structured plan, numerous studies show that forcing people to eat at certain times every day leads to burn out and lack of adherence.  We didn’t list EVERY food you could possibly eat.  We gave you several options, but if you enjoy something *healthy* that we didn’t list, feel free to substitute it.  i.e. beet salad for spinach salad, etc. 

With all that out of the way, lets move on to the good stuff.  Keep in mind, this diet was created for a 140lb woman of average build, working out 5 days a week (hopefully using the workout we posted last week).

So like I said, this is a general guideline for a diet plan.  Each week goes like this:

  • Monday: Pick one item from Breakfast Group 1, snack group 1 item, lunch group 1 item, snack group 2 item, dinner group  item, dinner side.
  • Tuesday: Breakfast group 2 item, snack group 1 item, lunch group 2 item, snack group 2, dinner group, dinner side, pre-bed snack.
  • Wednesday:  Breakfast Group 1, snack group 1 item, lunch group 1 item, snack group 2 item, dinner group  item, dinner side.
  • Thursday: Breakfast group 2 item, snack group 1 item, lunch group 2 item, snack group 2, dinner group, dinner side, pre-bed snack.
  • Friday:  Breakfast Group 1, snack group 1 item, lunch group 1 item, snack group 2 item, dinner group  item, dinner side.
  • Saturday: Breakfast group 2 item, snack group 1 item, lunch group 2 item, snack group 2, dinner group, dinner side, pre-bed snack.
  • Sunday: You decide!

Food Groupings

  • Breakfast Group 1: Protein shake, 3-egg scramble with 2 oz. diced chicken breast and veggies, 1 cup cottage cheese/handful of berries/slice of whole wheat toast, breakfast burrito.
  • Breakfast Group 2: Bowl of oatmeal with chopped walnuts, 3-4 Power Cookies and glass of milk, 1 whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter, 1 bowl of whole grain cereal (Kashi golean Crunch for example).
  • Snack Group 1: mini pizza on whole wheat English muffin, chunky peach pop, low-fat ranch and crunch veggies, polenta biscotti, turkey rollups.
  • Lunch Group 1:  6 oz. chicken breast, 1 can of tuna, 1 6oz salmon filet, 1 turkey burger patty, 6 oz. grilled skirt steak, 1.5 cups cottage cheese
  • Lunch Group 2: Spinach salad with balsamic, baked sweet potato, asian green bean salad, 1/2 cup brown rice, tomato and mozzarella salad, 1 cup quinoa
  • Snack Group 2: Hummus and carrots, small handful almonds and apple, string cheese wrapped in prosciutto, feta walnut dip with whole wheat crackers, handful of edamame, ants on a log, small whole wheat bagel.  Substitute protein shake for snack group 2 if you are working out.  Take shake within 30 minutes of ending workout.
  • Dinner Group: seafood ravioli with red pepper cream sauce, cumin spiced chicken with chunky tomato sauce, 1 cup whole wheat pasta with Sicilian-style marinara and roasted veggies, pork chops and fava beans, beef and guinness stew.
  • Dinner Sides: Mock potatoes, steamed broccoli, balsamic grilled asparagus, 1 cup brown rice, 1 cup cous cous, hoisin glazed eggplant.

Before Bed Snack: Dairy protein of some sort, i.e. greek yogurt, low-fat cheese, etc.  Reason for this is dairy proteins are slow-digesting, meaning they’ll give you a steady source of protein throughout the night while you sleep.  This will keep your muscles from starving and help you maintain muscle mass 24 hours a day.

Again, this is a very general plan.  The recipes selected (and linked to) are either some of my personal favorites and/or exceptionally healthy and balanced.  Obviously, the choices and recipes you actually decide to use are limitless.  These are just things that I’ve seen real-life clients use effectively. 

The key components of this diet rest on a few key principles:

  • 35% of your calories should come from protein.  1 gram of protein is equal to 4 calories.  35% should come from carbs.  1 gram of carbohydrate is equal to 4 calories.  30% should come from fat.  1 gram of fat is equal to 7 calories.  There are variations on this ratio, but it experience 35/35/30 provides exactly what is needed.  If you deviate a bit, err on the side of more protein. 
  • Meals are evenly spaced out to ensure metabolism stays high.  Again, this type of eating works for most people.  Every body is different, so if you find eating 5-6 meals a day is too much, and sticking to 3-4 is easier AND effective..go with that.  This diet is hardly set in stone.
  • The most important meals are the post-workout whey protein shake and the dairy before bed.  Do your absolute best not to skip these.
  • The most effective diets are the ones that aren’t telling you exactly which foods to eat, which foods you absolutely cannot eat, and when to eat.  These type of diets are often scams/fads with ulterior motives.  This diet plan is a balanced and healthy diet that is easy to stick to.  The goal is to maintain the 35/35/30 balance and not neglect your intake of veggies and other foods that provide essential nutrients. 

This should give you a great step in the right direction to achieving the body and health you’ve always wanted.  As always, any questions, feel free to ask.

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