VooDoo Floss Compression Bands : Say bye-bye to aches & pains AND say hello to super-fast workout recovery

Every year, we spend approximately a bazillion dollars on all manner of treatments for pain in our necks, backs, feet, shoulders, etc.

Sadly, most of that pain is due to inactivity, poor posture, sitting too long in front of tvs & computer screens, poor training form, etc.

If only there was a way to quickly and inexpensively eliminate those aches and pains?

VooDoo Floss Bands

Way back in 2011, I saw the following Youtube video (with Dr. Kelly Starrett and uber-strong man Donny Thompson) highlighting the use of DISTRACTION and COMPRESSION to help repair shoulder dysfunction…which I happened to be suffering from at the time.

The very next day, I…

  1. Ordered a pair of compression bands, and
  2. Started rehabbing my bad shoulder with the distraction technique.

After 6 days…

  1. My shoulder felt a LOT more stable and was noticeably less painful. I had also resumed resistance training with my focus on rehab.
  2. The compression bands arrived in the mail.

After 2 days of compression & distraction rehab…I was able to press an 80 lb dumbbell overhead with ZERO pain in my formerly-bad shoulder.

In another week, my shoulder felt better than it had in a long, long, long time.

In the 5 years since then…Crossfit exploded in popularity…helping Dr. Starrett become THE mobility  & athletic performance guru…and compression bands became very popular amongst weightlifters, crossfitters, powerlifters AND physiotherapists.

Fast forward to today…and it’s just about time for compression bands (and associated rehabilitation techniques like Donnie Thompson’s distraction technique) to enter the mainstream.

Instead of spending big bucks on massage, chiropractic, physiotherapy, acupuncture, etc, it’s time for “normal” people to take advantage of this amazing rehab technique and…

For $65, you will be getting the knowledge and the gear required to keep your joints healthy, strong and pain-free.

And if you don’t want to drop the extra $$$ on Kelly’s book, I have sourced the best “how-to-use-compression bands-to-fix-my-busted-up-body” videos from the Youtubes. They are organized by joint/bodypart.

Note: If you follow the above links (and make a purchase), Rogue fitness will give me 5% of the purchase price as a finder’s fee. It won’t cost you any extra and the dough will go straight into my daughter’s education fund.

If you have any questions about the rehab techniques, feel free to hit me up on Twitter or Facebook

Wrist / Forearms

Elbow

 

Shoulder

 

 

Hip / Thigh

Knee

 

Calves

Ankle

Feet

 

 

Pre-Workout Caffeine to Get Stronger, Faster, Bigger and More Powerful

A new study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research indicates that the immediate ingestion of caffeine (6 mg·kg−1 body weight) prior to resistance training:

  1. Reduces the level of muscle fatigue and,
  2. Preserves leg power throughout the training session,
  3. With zero increase in muscle damage

Which is awesome if you are interested in getting stronger, faster, bigger and/or more powerful.

In the study, six male handball athletes ingested placebo (PLA) or caffeine (CAF) (6 mg·kg−1 body mass) capsules on 2 different occasions. Sixty minutes after ingestion of the capsules, serum CAF levels were evaluated.

Thereafter, all participants performed a protocol of vertical jumps (VJs). The protocol consisted of 4 sets of 30 seconds of continuous VJs with 60 seconds of recovery between sets.

Blood lactate (LAC) and creatine kinase (CK) levels were determined before and after the protocol.

We found significant differences in serum CAF levels between PLA (0.09 ± 0.18 µg·ml−1) vs. CAF (6.59 ± 4.44 µg·ml−1) (p < 0.001).

Caffeine elicited a 5.23% (p≤ 0.05) improvement in the leg power compared with PLA. The CAF trial displayed higher LAC (p ≤ 0.05) compared with PLA (6.26 ± 2.01 vs. 4.39 ± 2.42 mmol·L−1, respectively) after protocol of VJs, whereas no difference in CK was observed between trials (p > 0.05).

These results indicate that immediate ingestion of CAF (6 mg·kg−1 body weight) can reduce the level of muscle fatigue and preserve leg power during the test, possibly resulting in increase in LAC. There was no increase in muscle damage, which indicates that immediate administration of (6 mg·kg−1 body weight) CAF is safe. Thus, nutritional interventions with CAF could help athletes withstand a greater physiological overload during high-intensity training sessions.

The results of this study would be applicable to sports and activities that require repetitive leg power.

What does this mean to you?

  • To properly follow the protocol used in the study, you need to ingest 6mg of caffeine per 1kg of body weight ( 2.72mg per 1lb of bodyweight)
  • There is approximately 100mg of caffeine in 1 cup of coffee
  • Which means that a 150lb trainee would need to drink 408mg or 4 cups of coffee before training….probably not the best idea if you don’t want to spend your workout in the bathroom.
  • The same caffeine-math applies to tea, Red Bull, 5 Hour Extra Strength Energy Shot (the strongest energy drink with 242mg of caffeine), etc..

As a result, you are going to need to purchase some caffeine pills if you want to take advantage of this caffeinated training boost.

And of course, not everyone’s GI tract is going to do well with all that caffeine.

BUT…if your gut is okay with a big dose of caffeine AND you’re looking to break through a training plateau, supplementing with caffeine immediately pre-workout could be exactly what you’re looking for.

ronnie coleman squat

NOTE: If you try this caffeine protocol, I would love to hear how it works for you. Feel free to contact me on Twitter or Facebook.

Reference

Max Benefit – Min Time Workout #2

Question #1 : Do you want to be healthier, fitter, leaner, sexier, etc?

Question #2 : Are you insanely busy?

If you answered yes to both questions, have I got good news for you.

Today’s post is the second in a series of mini-workouts designed to:

  • improve fitness,
  • improve health,
  • burn fat,
  • build functional strength,
  • improve energy system function,
  • improve muscular endurance,
  • improve speed endurance
  • AND save you time.

Each post in the series will consist of a single mini-workout.

All of these mini-workout posts will be catalogued together to allow you to mix & match to create your own custom plan. Here’s the first workout if you missed it.

Without any further ado, here is….

Max Benefit – Min Time Workout #2

Exercises

  • Bulgarian Split Squats – modifying the weight (bodyweight, vest, dumbbells, barbell, kettlebells, resistance bands) as your strength & endurance allows.

tumblr_mxbdh76yAZ1qdjo2ho1_400

In the latter part of the workout, after you have ditched all of the external weight (barbell etc), you may find that you are unable to complete full range of motion lifts. If that is the case, you have a few options

  1. Shift your weight backwards onto your heels. This will spare your quads & load up your hips…which are more endurance friendly
  2. Shorten your range of motion. This will reduce your workload while still frying your quads

Bulgarian_Squat

  • Alternating Shoulder Presses – modify weight used to suit your strength/fitness level
  • Band Overhead Pull Aparts – modify resistance band used to suit your strength/fitness level

Set/Rep Scheme

  • Alternate exercises (Bulgarian Left Leg/Shoulder Press/Bulgarian Right Leg/Band Pull-Aparts/etc…)
  • 1st Set – 20 reps, 2nd Set – 19 reps, 3rd Set – 18 reps….all the way down to 10 reps (Total of 11 sets)

Speed of Execution

Perform reps as fast as possible…with good form

Rest

Minimize reps between exercises – zero rest between sets is the goal

How to keep improving with this workout

The design of this mini-workout allows you to keep improving as you choose harder versions of the exercises and/or perform them faster and/or reduce the amount of rest between exercises

The Workout

  • Bulgarians – Left Leg – 20 reps
  • Alternating Shoulder Pressess – 20 reps
  • Bulgarians – Right Leg – 20 reps
  • Overhead Pull-Aparts – 20 reps
  • Bulgarians – Left Leg – 19 reps
  • Alternating Shoulder Pressess – 19 reps
  • Bulgarians – Right Leg – 19 reps
  • Overhead Pull-Aparts – 19 reps
  • Bulgarians – Left Leg – 18 reps
  • Alternating Shoulder Pressess – 18 reps
  • Bulgarians – Right Leg – 18 reps
  • Overhead Pull-Aparts – 18 reps
  • Bulgarians – Left Leg – 17 reps
  • Alternating Shoulder Pressess – 17 reps
  • Bulgarians – Right Leg – 17 reps
  • Overhead Pull-Aparts – 17 reps
  • Bulgarians – Left Leg – 16 reps
  • Alternating Shoulder Pressess – 16 reps
  • Bulgarians – Right Leg – 16 reps
  • Overhead Pull-Aparts – 16 reps
  • Bulgarians – Left Leg – 15 reps
  • Alternating Shoulder Pressess – 15 reps
  • Bulgarians – Right Leg – 15 reps
  • Overhead Pull-Aparts – 15 reps
  • Bulgarians – Left Leg – 14 reps
  • Alternating Shoulder Pressess – 14 reps
  • Bulgarians – Right Leg – 14 reps
  • Overhead Pull-Aparts – 14 reps
  • Bulgarians – Left Leg – 13 reps
  • Alternating Shoulder Pressess – 13 reps
  • Bulgarians – Right Leg – 13 reps
  • Overhead Pull-Aparts – 13 reps
  • Bulgarians – Left Leg – 12 reps
  • Alternating Shoulder Pressess – 12 reps
  • Bulgarians – Right Leg – 12 reps
  • Overhead Pull-Aparts – 12 reps
  • Bulgarians – Left Leg – 11 reps
  • Alternating Shoulder Pressess – 11 reps
  • Bulgarians – Right Leg – 11 reps
  • Overhead Pull-Aparts – 11 reps
  • Bulgarians – Left Leg – 10 reps
  • Alternating Shoulder Pressess – 10 reps
  • Bulgarians – Right Leg – 10 reps
  • Overhead Pull-Aparts – 10 reps

That’s it for today. As I add new Max Benefit – Min Time workouts, I will include a link to a index page which will list all of workouts in one place.

Like this article???

If you like this article, don’t forget to subscribe to @healthhabits. When you subscribe, my friends at MailChimp will make sure to send you an email every time I post something new here at the blog.

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Max Benefit – Min Time Workout #1

Question #1 : Want to be healthier, fitter, leaner, sexier, etc?

Question #2 : Are you insanely busy?

If you answered yes to both questions, have I got good news for you.

Starting today, I am going to start posting a series of mini-workouts designed to:

  • improve fitness,
  • improve health,
  • burn fat,
  • build functional strength,
  • improve energy system function,
  • improve muscular endurance,
  • improve speed endurance
  • AND save you time.

Each post will consist of a single mini-workout. All of these mini-workout posts will be catalogued together to allow you to mix & match to create your own custom plan.

Here we go with…

Max Benefit – Min Time Workout #1

Exercises

  • Push-ups – modifying the angle of your body to suit your strength/fitness level (feet elevated, flat on floor, hands on bench, hands on counter, leaning against wall, etc)
  • Bodyweight Squats – modifying depth of squat to suit your strength/fitness level (ass to the grass, parallel to floor, 1/2 squat, 1/4 squat, etc)

Set/Rep Scheme

  • Alternate exercises (push-ups/squats/push-ups/etc…)
  • 1st Set – 20 reps, 2nd Set – 19 reps, 3rd Set – 18 reps….all the way down to 10 reps (Total of 11 sets)

Speed of Execution

Perform reps as fast as possible…with good form

Rest

Minimize reps between exercises – zero rest between sets is the goal

How to keep improving with this workout

The design of this mini-workout allows you to keep improving as you choose harder versions of the exercises and/or perform them faster and/or reduce the amount of rest between exercises

The Workout

  • Push-ups – 20 reps
  • Bodyweight Squats – 20 reps
  • Push-ups – 19 reps
  • Bodyweight Squats – 19 reps
  • Push-ups – 18 reps
  • Bodyweight Squats – 18 reps
  • Push-ups – 17 reps
  • Bodyweight Squats – 17 reps
  • Push-ups – 16 reps
  • Bodyweight Squats – 16 reps
  • Push-ups – 15 reps
  • Bodyweight Squats – 15 reps
  • Push-ups – 14 reps
  • Bodyweight Squats – 14 reps
  • Push-ups – 13 reps
  • Bodyweight Squats – 13 reps
  • Push-ups – 12 reps
  • Bodyweight Squats – 12 reps
  • Push-ups – 11 reps
  • Bodyweight Squats – 11 reps
  • Push-ups – 10 reps
  • Bodyweight Squats – 10 reps

 

That’s it for today. As I add new Max Benefit – Min Time workouts, I will include a link to a index page which will list all of workouts in one place.

 

Like this article???

If you like this article, don’t forget to subscribe to @healthhabits. When you subscribe, my friends at MailChimp will make sure to send you an email every time I post something new here at the blog.

As well, you also get access to the series of Supplement Reports that I am publishing this year.

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Introducing the 20:20 Workout…The Simplest Get Fit, Get Lean, Get Healthy, Get Strong, Get Awesome Workout of All Time

Introducing the 20:20 Workout…The Simplest Get Fit, Get Lean, Get Healthy, Get Strong, Get Awesome Workout of All Time.

Here’s the general theory:

  • 20 seconds of high intensity exercise
  • 20 seconds of rest
  • Repeat as many times as possible…while maintaining great form & high intensity.

Here’s why this workout is awesome:

  • It’s dead simple. Even the newest of workout newbies can understand “work really hard for 20 seconds, then rest for 20 seconds”.
  • It improves your energy system fitness…which improves your endurance, strength, power, etc.
  • It makes most trainees stronger very quickly -(experienced trainees who already lift primarily for serious strength won’t see much in the way of strength improvement)
  • It improves the muscular endurance of those people who already lift for serious strength…which will improve their strength training programs
  • It’s great for weight loss
  • It saves time. Most trainees will be gassed after 20 minutes…and it takes a real freak to keep the intensity up over 40 min.
  • As you become more efficient at this program, your power & speed-endurance will improve significantly
  • It can be performed at home, indoors, outdoors, on the playing field & in the gym.
  • It’s fully expandable….from very simple beginner workouts to more complex workouts for advanced trainees or people with physical restrictions
  • It’s 100% free

Workout Examples

Legs + Horizontal Push + Horizontal Pull

Repeat for a set time or until your form starts to break down and/or your intensity drops by (self-measured) 20%

Legs + Vertical Push + Vertical Pull

Repeat for a set time or until your form starts to break down and/or your intensity drops by (self-measured) 20%

Legs + Horizontal Push + Horizontal Pull + Core

  • Stair Step Ups or Box Jumps or Burpees for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Chest Press or Push-Ups for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Single Leg Stiff Leg Deadlifts
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Standing Rows or Bodyweight Rows for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Ab Roll-Outs, Front Plank or Dead Bugs for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds

Repeat for a set time or until your form starts to break down and/or your intensity drops by (self-measured) 20%

Legs + Vertical Push + Vertical Pull + Rotation

  • Bodyweight Squats or Bulgairan Squats for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Pulldowns, Band Overhead Pull-Aparts or Chin-ups for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Standing Single Leg Straight Leg Flexions – Front, Side & Rear
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Overhead Press – Band, Bodyweight, DB, BB
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Woodchops, Stir the Pots or Palloff Press for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds

Repeat for a set time or until your form starts to break down and/or your intensity drops by (self-measured) 20%

Legs + Horizontal Push + Horizontal Pull + Core + Carry

  • Waiter Walk or some other “Carry” variation for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Stair Step Ups or Box Jumps or Burpees for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Chest Press or Push-Ups for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Single Leg Stiff Leg Deadlifts
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Standing Rows or Bodyweight Rows for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Ab Roll-Outs, Front Plank or Dead Bugs for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds

Repeat for a set time or until your form starts to break down and/or your intensity drops by (self-measured) 20%

Legs + Vertical Push + Vertical Pull + Rotation + Sprint

  • Bodyweight Squats or Bulgairan Squats for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Pulldowns, Band Overhead Pull-Aparts or Chin-ups for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Standing Single Leg Straight Leg Flexions – Front, Side & Rear
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Overhead Press – Band, Bodyweight, DB, BB
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Woodchops or Palloff Press for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Sprint for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds

Repeat for a set time or until your form starts to break down and/or your intensity drops by (self-measured) 20%

Design Your Own 20:20 Workout

As I said above, the 20:20 Workout is fully expandable and is easily modified to fit your specific needs.

Step #1 : Choose the body movements that you want to work on

  • Push Vertical
  • Push Horizontal
  • Pull Vertical
  • Pull Horizontal
  • Squat
  • Hip Hinge
  • Walk
  • Run
  • Sprint

Step #2 : Choose an exercise or exercises for each of the body movements you have selected

Step #3 : Organize the exercises so that you maximize your rest periods. Instead of putting 2 leg exercises back to back, stick an upper body exercise in betweenex. Squat – Horizontal Push – Hip Hinge – Horizontal Pull

Step #4 : Set a timer for a 20 sec work : 20 sec rest interval program. If you don’t have a timer, check out Gymboss. They’re easy to use, inexpensive and will prevent you dropping & cracking your smartphone screen

Step #5 : Fill a bottle of water & get ready to sweat

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Questions? Hit me up on social media – Twitter, Facebook.

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New Research : Bodybuilding and the Mind-Muscle Connection

In the bodybuilding world, one of the most important “principles” of lifting is the need to establish a mind : muscle connection.

It’s not enough to lift the weight. For maximum success, the trainee must put all of his/her intention into the muscle that is being worked.

For many of us who aren’t bodybuilders…who lift for strength, power, endurance, athletic performance, etc…this seems like a giant load of new age nonsense.

Until now:

In this new study, researchers found that when trainees (working with loads between 20 -60% of their 1 Rep Maximum) focused on the muscles being worked, they were able to increase muscle activation…without decreasing the activity of other muscles involved in the lift.

By focusing on the muscles, they actually made the muscles work harder.

Which is exactly what those bodybuilding gurus have been saying for decades.

arnold-concentration-curl

What does this mean to you?

If you lift weight in 20-60% of 1 Rep Max range, focusing intently on the muscles being worked seems like a really great idea.

If you lift in the 80+% 1 RM range, there is no need to focus on the working muscles…you should be focusing on perfect form & execution…your nervous system will look after how many muscle fibers are contracting to complete your lift.

In the 60-80% range, I don’t know what to tell you. The researchers in this study focused on intensities of 20, 40, 50, 60 and 80 % of the pre-determined 1RM.

Like this article???

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As well, you also get access to the series of Supplement Reports that I am publishing this year.

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Reference

Coming Soon : HIIT for Health

healthhabits woman.png

Early in the new year, I will be publishing an ebook on HIIT and why it is  such an amazing tool for improving your health.

I have been providing some version of this report to those of my personal training clients with significant health issues over the years. Since then, their doctors have slowly begun to see the benefits of HIIT as a tool to prevent & recover from serious health conditions.

In addition to to the scientific arguments for HIIT, the book will include a LOT of printable HIIT workouts and instructions on how to easily craft your own personal HIIT workout program.

This publication will be available 100% FREE for @healthhabits subscribers.

 

If you already subscribe to @healthhabits, keep an eye on your inbox in the first week of January

If you don’t subscribe to @healthhabits, what are you waiting for?

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Train Smarter : Movements v.s. Muscles

Over the course of history, humans have evolved from single-cell organisms into the multi-cellular complex beings we are today.

In our current form, we are a collection of cells, neurons, hormones, enzymes, bones, muscles that all work together like a super-efficient mega corporation. 

And just how does this relate to working out?

It relates if you are still training like a bodybuilder from 1977

screen-shot-2015-06-23-at-11-59-36-am

Because if your workouts are focused on muscles instead of movements, you are making a big, big, big mistake.

Just like all those cells that came together to become a liver that filters waste products that would quickly build up and kill the entire organism, your muscles weren’t designed to work in isolation.

Even in that most muscle-centric of exercises – the bicep curl – your biceps need your triceps and core muscles and leg muscles and deltoids to pitch in and stabilize

The same holds true for all weightlifting exercises…no muscles ever work in isolation.

Trying to force them to work that way goes against how they are supposed to work.

Think about it…when you walk or run or sprint, you never focus on individual muscles or muscle groups. Instead, your brain sends out the signal to all involved muscles that it’s time to work together and get running.

To that end, one of the best things you can do to improve the efficiency of your resistance training workouts is to stop thinking about muscles and start thinking about movements

Here is a list of the “basic” movements that will serve as a framework for your new movement-based workout program.

  • Push Vertical
  • Push Horizontal
  • Pull Vertical
  • Pull Horizontal
  • Squat
  • Hip Hinge
  • Walk
  • Run
  • Sprint

That’s it for today.

Over the next few days & weeks, I will explain these movements fully and provide exercise examples and teach you how to put them together in a complete training program.


If you like this article, don’t forget to subscribe to @healthhabits. When you subscribe, my friends at MailChimp will make sure to send you an email every time I post something new here at the blog.

As well, you also get access to the series of Supplement Reports that I am publishing this year. Only subscribers will have access to these reports.

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“I Don’t Have Time to Workout” Workout

Around the world, the #1 excuse for not exercising is…”I don’t have enough time”.

As a public service to those uber-busy people, I have put together a template for a 15 minute workout that is simple, effective and works for beginners & elite athletes alike.

  • 15 minutes
  • Great workout
  • Guaranteed results
  • No more excuses

Step #1

Buy a set of very affordable workout bands like these. ($30 from Amazon). You can probably find a set for next to nothing at the Salvation Army, Goodwill, Value Village, etc.

Step #2

Find a place to exercise.

Bands can be attached to a door:

or any immovable object:

Note: The spring link used in the video costs about $2-3 at Home Depot.

Step #3

Get an interval timer – Smartphone (iphone, android) app, Gymboss timer, etc.

gymboss-interval timer

Step #4

Choose 1 exercise / exercise combo from each group:

Group #1 

  • Step-Ups
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Scissor Shuffles
  • Running in Place / Jogging on the Spot
  • Shuttle Runs
  • Skipping Rope
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Burpees
  • Exercise Bike sprints

Group #2

  • Standing Band Chest Press
  • Standing Band Row
  • Standing Band Overhead Press
  • Standing Band Pulldown
  • Standing Band Woodchop
  • Standing Band Pallof Press
  • Standing Band Thrusters

Group #3

  • Bodyweight Squats
  • Bodyweight Hip Thrusts
  • Bodyweight 1-Leg Deadlifts
  • Standing Band Hip Thrusts
  • Bodyweight Jump Squats
  • Standing Band Deadlifts
  • Standing Band Lunges

Step #5

1.  Set your timer for a 4-minute Tabata style interval

  • 20 seconds of exercise
  • 10 seconds of rest
  • Repeat 8 times
  • Total time: 4 minutes (160 seconds of exercise + 80 seconds of rest)

2.  Perform the chosen Group #1 exercise using the 4-min Tabata style interval. Using good form, perform as many reps as possible.

3.  Rest 90 seconds

4.  Perform the chosen Group #2 exercise using the 4-min Tabata style interval. Using good form, perform as many reps as possible.

5.  Rest 90 seconds

6.  Perform the chosen Group #3 exercise using the 4-min Tabata style interval. Using good form, perform as many reps as possible.

7.  Done 🙂

Step #6 – Optional

If you decide that you have more than 15 minutes and want to increase your volume of exercise, add additional exercises from any of the three groups.

Step #7 – Optional

Before you grab a shower, you could choose to add some mobility/flexibility exercises into the mix. Here are some resources:

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In addition to the articles, I will be writing a series of Special Reports this year exclusively for @healthhabits subscribers.

Subscribe now and make sure you don’t miss out.

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Oscillation Training – Get Stronger, Get Fitter, Get Healthier

A couple of years ago I wrote an article entitled Increase Your Bench Press…thanks to Koji Murofushi.

In that article, I introduced you to oscillation training and how you can use this training method to:

  • rehab injuries,
  • prevent injuries,
  • improve muscle imbalances,
  • thereby increasing strength,
  • and agility,
  • and speed,
  • and power

Since then, I have read numerous studies looking at the effectiveness of weightlifting with:

  1. Stable loads on unstable surfaces – ie Barbell squats on Bosu, foam mats, Swiss ball, etc
  2. Unstable loads on stable surfaces – ie Dumbbells, kettlebells on floor, benches

My unofficial meta-analysis of these studies shows that:

  • Stable loads on stable surfaces allows for maximum force production of the prime mover muscles.
  • Unstable loads (DBs, KBs) on stable surfaces reduces force production in the prime movers (agonists) by a negligible amount while producing a similarly tiny increase in synergists & core muscles.
  • Unstable loads on unstable surfaces (Bosu, Swiss ball, foam mat) further reduces force production in the prime movers while ever so slightly increasing force production of synergists & core muscles.

There have also been numerous studies which postulate that training with unstable loads on stable & unstable surfaces will eventually lead to increases in muscular strength & power as muscle imbalances are corrected, core strength improves and all muscles involved in athletic movements – agonists, antagonists & synergists – are trained to work together more effectively.

And now for the new research:

In this latest study, researchers tested the effectiveness of oscillation training via a series of parallel back squats with an unstable load (weights suspended from the bar by an elastic band)

oscillation_training_overhead_squat
Couldn’t find a good back squat with hanging bells video to create a gif 😦

The Study:

  • Fifteen resistance-trained males completed ten repetitions of the back squat with 60% of their one repetition maximum in both stable and unstable conditions.
  • Peak vertical ground reaction force and the integrated muscle activity of the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medius, biceps femoris, soleus, rectus abdominis, external oblique, and erector spinae muscles on the right side of the body were determined.

Results

  • The unstable load resulted in a small (3.9%), but significant decrease in peak vertical ground reaction force. This makes sense considering the previous research on unstable loads.
  • The unstable load also produced noticeably greater muscle activation in the rectus abdominus, external oblique, and soleus.

This may turn out to be highly significant – where previous studies on trained individuals found that DBs or KBs or vibration platforms or Bosus or Swiss balls produced small increases in muscle activation in these “helper” muscles, the use of oscillation training was much more powerful.

Oscillation training may actually turn out to be a really useful tool for athletes and wanna-be athletes.

What does this mean to you?

If you are one of the following trainees, systemic use of oscillation training may be just what you need:

  • Someone stuck at a strength/size/power/speed plateau
  • Someone with sore shoulders or knees or back or…
  • Someone who plays a sport
  • Someone who finds their body is feeling “older”
  • Someone who has poor posture
  • Someone who wants the health benefits of yoga and/or pilates bust hates yoga and/or pilates
  • Someone who want to be as fit as they can possibly be
  • Someone who just started doing Crossfit and doesn’t want to destroy their shoulders
  • Someone with a big gut
  • Someone who wants to maximize the health benefits of weightlifting without getting “too big” or spending too much time.

How to incorporate Oscillation Training into your program?

  1. Start small. This is supplemental work, meant to make the rest of your program work better.
  2. Don’t do oscillate before doing big compound lifts using the same muscle groups/movements. You don’t want to wear out your assistance muscles prior to needing their help on a big compound lift.
  3. You can do oscillation work after doing big compound work, or
  4. Do oscillation work on off-days – rest days or days where other movements / muscle groups are being worked.
  5. You don’t “need” a fancy bamboo bar. It’s nice to have, but you can just hang plates off the ends of normal barbells with a good set of Jump-Stretch style bands.

If you have any questions, feel free to hit me up on social media 🙂

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5 Ways to Wreck Your Workout

Every January, millions of hopeful people flock to health clubs in a desperate attempt to get fit/healthy/sexy/etc….

And as a personal trainer, fitness research geek and multi-decade gym junkie, I feel that it is my duty to shine a light on some of the ways newbies are wrecking their workouts.

#1 –   Doing Cardio Training before Resistance Training

Most people that join a gym have similar goals…losing body-fat, getting healthier, getting fitter, feeling better, etc.

If that sounds like you, you need to stop doing your cardio training before your resistance training. Doing cardio before resistance training will…

  • slow down your body-fat reduction,
  • slow down or prevent any strength gains,
  • prevent improvements in energy system performance,
  • do nothing to maximize your cardio-vascular function,
  • and wreck your workout.

Here’s how you should organize your workouts:

  1. Short (5-10 min) joint mobility warm-up
  2. Resistance training
  3. HIIT and/or Cardio-vascular training
  4. Joint mobility & flexibility training

Joint Mobility Warm-Up 

Starting your workout with short joint mobility warm-up is a good idea for a few reasons.

  • It physically warms up your muscles, making them more flexible and less prone to injury
  • It causes your joints to be lubricated with synovial fluid, helping them move smoother, preventing injury.
  • It transitions your mind-body from your real-world problems into a “it’s time to workout” mode. This may seem inconsequential, but trust me…it isn’t.

Sample Joint Mobility Protocol

Joint Circles – Starting with the ankles and moving all the way up to your neck, gently make circles with all of your joints – 10 revolutions each joint in each direction

Dead Bug – Push your lower back into the floor and articulate your arms & legs as in the video. 1 set of as many reps as possible with your lower back pushed into the floor. When your back starts to arch…STOP. This warms up your core muscles and establishes a quick mind-body connection to some very, very important muscles.

1 Arm Swing Snatch – 25 reps per arm  – Dumbbell or kettlebell – choose a light weight – the goal is to warm-up. After the swings, just about every muscle in your body should be nice and pliable and ready for the rest of your workout.

Resistance Training

The type of resistance training you perform depends on your goals. Strength, size, endurance, looking good naked, etc.

The main reason you should perform resistance training before cardio is that resistance training requires a higher level of intensity than cardio training and as you fatigue, your ability to perform at a high level of intensity is the first thing to go.

And if you perform your resistance training in a fatigued state, you are going to wreck your workout, miss out on the weight-loss benefits, miss out on strength-building benefits, and lose out on the energy-system boosting benefits, etc.

HIIT and/or Cardio Training

Whether you perform HIIT or longer duration/lower intensity cardio training or some combination of the two depends on your training goals.

Joint Mobility & Flexibility Training

You have lots of options here…

If you want to learn more about mobility training, I suggest you check out the work of Kelly Starrett and/or Jill Miller. Smart people who make complex stuff simple.

#2 –   Drinking Gatorade while doing Cardio

Unless you are putting in 60 minutes+ of hard, sweaty cardio training, you don’t need the sugar calories found in Gatorade and other sports drinks. You do need water…but you don’t need Gatorade.

In fact, drinking sugary sports drinks minimizes one of the great benefits of of exercise…improved insulin sensitivity.

What is insulin sensitivity…and why should you care about it?

Insulin sensitivity describes how sensitive the body is to the effects of insulin. Someone said to be insulin sensitive will require smaller amounts of insulin to lower blood glucose levels than someone who has low sensitivity.

In short, being sensitive to insulin is good….being insensitive is bad and is a sign that you are on your way to developing type 2 diabetes.

Exercise, Insulin Sensitivity & Gatorade

Lots of research shows us that cardio exercise makes your body more sensitive to insulin. What happens during exercise is that your body pulls stored sugars out of your muscles & liver to fuel your activity. And for most gym-goers, you have more than enough sugar stored in your body to get you through your workout. (that’s why you don’t NEED Gatorade…unless you are a serious cardio athlete)

Post workout, your sugar-depleted muscles are going to be screaming for sugar. And when you chug down a post-workout protein smoothies or make yourself a meal at home, your muscles & liver are going to take priority over most other body processes.

And this is good…because it means that your muscles are going to get all the nutrients they need to recover faster from your workouts.

Takeaway Message – Unless you are a serious cardio athlete, don’t drink a sugary sports drink during your workout. You will perform just as well, recover faster, while getting leaner, stronger, fitter…faster.

#3 –   Training Chest & Biceps 3x per Week

This message is for all the young guys who think that getting a buff chest and jacked biceps is going to make all the girls swoon.

It won’t. You’re just going to wreck our workout, plus…

  • All the other guys think you’re a poseur, and
  • Your arms & chest would grow faster if you started training smarter.

What does training smarter mean?

  • Train your entire body…not just your beach muscles
  • Get stronger through your core & legs…and you will be able to handle heavier weights over your entire body.
  • Remember that training your back also trains your biceps at the same time

#4 –   Believing that Lifting Weights Will Make a Woman Look Like a Man

You would not believe how many women believe that if they start lifting weights, their body with morph, grow and swell into this…

…when in reality, after years of lifting weights, eating tons of protein & nutritional supplements, favourable genetics and a lot of sweat & hard work, fitness model Jamie Eason looks like this…

…not exactly very manly.

The truth is that you are already lifting weights.

  • Every time you stand up from a chair…you are lifting weights.
  • Every time you go for a walk…you are lifting weights
  • Every time you pick up your kid…you are lifting weights

And you don’t look like a man.

As the old adage says, the poison is in the dosage. If you choose to lift weights like a bodybuilder, eat huge like a bodybuilder and inject steroids, growth hormone & insulin like a bodybuilder, you might end up looking like a bodybuilder.

But…if you lift weights in an intelligent manner, eat in an intelligent manner and take a few crucial supplements, you will probably end up looking fitter, healthier, stronger and sexier than ever before.

#5 –   Expecting Immediate Results

Diet experts around the globe will tell you that to lose body-fat, you need to eat less calories than you consume. Referencing two of the laws of thermodynamics, they say that if you eat 500 fewer calories than your body requires to function, your body will free up 500 calories of stored body-fat to make up the difference.

And if you do that every day for a week, you will lose one pound of body-fat by the end of the week.

Unfortunately, as logical and scienc-y as that sounds, it doesn’t work in the “real world”.

The human body is a beautifully messy piece of work.  Two identical twins with identical bodies can follow the exact same diet & exercise program and get totally different results.

And while that seems totally unfair for the twin who isn’t seeing results, that’s real life. Transforming your body is going to require a process of trial and effort.

  • Find a nutrition/training program that has a good track record and seems to fit nicely into your lifestyle.
  • Give it your best for a month.
  • Evaluate how it worked for you.
  • Give it another month or try a new plan
  • Evaluate how it worked for you

Repeat over and over and soon enough you will become an expert on what works for your body.

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The Truth About Feminine Fitness

A long, long time ago, women’s workouts meant aggressive arm circles, bouncy stretching, and hundreds of step-touches. We got crazy flexibility, ceaseless endurance, and if our diet lined up properly, a lithe, slender body (just like Jane Fonda).

Fast-forward to today’s savvy women and we’ve graduated to wanting a lean, strong body. “Fit” and “skinny” aren’t synonymous anymore – we want a healthy, bullet-proof physique (and gorgeous muscle definition wouldn’t hurt)….aka the NEW feminine fitness.

If you’re still caught in the cardio-only rut or listening to celebrity trainers who admonish us to “never lift heavy weights” lest it make us “bulky,” read on to see what women’s workouts should look like today.

jane fonda workout

The New Paradigm

The updated heavy hitter in fat loss, health, and fitness is, without a doubt, strength training. I’m not talking about bodybuilding here, and you don’t have to be an athlete to strength train. You most certainly don’t have to be a guy to strength train, either!

Experts and scientists now agree that while the right nutrition and cardio-respiratory training are important to health and fat loss, strength training is the third most critical component.

In case you’re wondering, you definitely won’t become the She-Hulk of your neighborhood if you lift weights heavier than three pounds (or 100!). Women have much less testosterone than men and we have to work hard to build even a small amount of muscle. Even then, we can never build muscles as big as guys unless we’re juiced up on steroids – not likely in your case, I’m betting.

This may surprise you, but strength training helps me express my femininity. Being strong and fit is an important way I define myself. And it’s not an exaggeration to say that strength training has increased my self-confidence in ways I can’t even begin to explain.

Take a look at how strength training is a smart strategy for your body and mind.

Burn Mega Calories

If you’ve ever done a strength-training circuit, you know it can get your heart pumping. Squats, lunges, chest presses, bent-over rows, and shoulder presses back to back without rest is a major calorie burner!

Not only that, but strength training burns calories when you’re not exercising, too. This “afterburn” effect results when your muscles are busy repairing themselves after a good, heavy lifting session.

Since muscle is metabolically active tissue that burns fat even when you’re at rest, strength training increases your metabolism. This means the more muscle, the more fat burning!

Rock Functional Strength

You don’t have to be a bench-pressing beast to benefit from increased strength. Even lifting moderate weights can make you feel stronger and fitter for everyday activities like carrying your kids, pushing the lawnmower, or changing a tire.

Stay Youthful

We can stay strong and active into old age by integrating resistance training into our routine. One study at McMaster University showed that strength training actually reversed the effects of aging by changing tissue at the cellular level in healthy senior citizens [1].

It’s important to understand that unless we counteract it, losing muscle mass is an inevitable part of aging. Feminine fitness weight training helps us stay strong and mobile instead of becoming injured and inactive (which almost always leads to weight gain, too).

Since women are especially susceptible to bone loss, resistance training is also a must for stimulating growth in our bone density as we age.

Look Hot

Of course, when you’ve been strength training awhile, along with eating nutritious foods and managing your caloric intake, you’ll see muscle definition pop on your arms, abs, and legs. Feeling good about your body might be your top motivator, and that’s perfectly fine, too.

I used to have the flattest behind around – affectionately (or not) known as a “mom butt.” But doing heavy squats, lunges, kettle bell swings, and hip thrusts completely transformed my backside into one I am truly proud of (shake it!).

The benefits of feminine fitness strength training don’t stop there – try increased energy, better sleep, improved posture, and yes – even greater flexibility.

Let’s Go!

Getting started with strength training is easier than you might think. If you’re a beginner, I recommend checking out the articles here at Health Habits, my beginner’s guide, and “The New Rules of Lifting for Women,” by Lou Schuler.

Simply keep three things in mind and you can’t go wrong:

  1. Your top priority will always be impeccable form.
  2. You will keep progressing as long as you continue to add weight.
  3. Allowing your muscles to recover is just as important as your workouts.

Enjoy the benefits of feminine fitness strength training, and I’ll see you in the weight room.

About the Author

Suzanne Digre is a NASM-certified personal trainer who coaches clients online and in-person. With over 15 years of lifting experience, Suzanne writes at workoutnirvana.com, where she shares her passion for strength training and clean eating.

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10 Ways to Workout Smarter….not Harder

Every day I go to the gym and I see the same people doing the same workouts.

  • Runners get on a treadmill and run
  • Yoginis perform their poses
  • Bodybuilders squeeze & flex their muscles
  • Powerlifters lift heavy stuff
  • Aerobicizers attend their group fitness classes
  • And the dude at my gym who wears Adidas soccer shorts from 1978 stretches out his hamstrings threatening to dislodge his “fellas” from their cotton prison (the horror…the horror)

And while all of these activities are laudable and are infinitely better for you than sitting on the couch eating chips and watching reality tv, they all have their limitations. And since it is a new year, I thought it was the perfect time to outline 10 ways to workout smarter…achieving better results, in less time, with fewer aches & pains.

Tip # 1 – High Intensity Interval Training aka HIIT

There is an ever growing body of evidence showing that HIIT workouts are superior to traditional cardio training in almost every conceivable way.

  • Less time required per workout – I never, ever perform more than 20 min on a HIIT workout
  • Reduced chance of overuse injuries – just ask a runner about their aches & pains
  • Faster & greater improvements to the cardio-vascular system
  • Increased fat loss due to increased levels of EPOC  (Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption)
  • Increased total body strength
HIIT sprints
Before HIIT – After HIIT

To recap, HIIT takes up less of your time, is easier on your body, is better at improving the function of your heart & lungs and will help make you stronger and leaner more efficiently than cardio training. Sounds pretty smart to me.

Here are a bunch of articles I have written on HIIT to get you started:

Next Page : Movements not Muscles…

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More proof that you should Just Say No to Cardio

  • You want to be healthy
  • You want to be fit
  • You want to be strong
  • You want to be fast
  • You want to be powerful
  • You want to look great naked

If this sounds like you, you need to stop doing boring old cardio workouts…

human hamster wheel

…and start combining strength training workouts with high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts.

Here’s why…

In a study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers examined whether a combination of sprint interval workouts and strength training workouts would result in compromised strength development when compared to strength training alone.

During this study, they also monitored maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) and time to exhaustion (TTE) to determine if the HIIT workouts would improve aerobic performance.

The Results

After 12 weeks of 4x per week workouts, they researchers found that:

  • Upper & lower body strength improved in both groups with no difference between the strength training (ST) group and the combination HIIT-ST group.
  • VO2max improved in the HIIT-ST group but not in the ST group. Previous studies have shown that HIIT is equal or superior to traditional cardio in improving VO2max

Conclusions

  • Strength training without HIIT will make you stronger
  • Strength training + HIIT will make you equally as strong
  • HIIT improves VO2max as well or better than traditional cardio training

When you combine this new data with all of the previous studies + years of real-world experience that has shown that traditional cardio training reduces strength, power & muscle mass in favour of aerobic performance (VO2max et al), it all starts to become very clear.

It means that if…

  • You want to be healthy
  • You want to be fit
  • You want to be strong
  • You want to be fast
  • You want to be powerful
  • You want to look great naked

…you need to just say no to cardio and just start saying yes to HIIT + strength training.

Reference

Health Habits Exercise Videos – Fat Burning HIRT Circuit #1

Here is the 4 minute “kick yo’ ass”, super fat-burning workout exercise video I promised you on Tuesday.

Note: I almost didn’t post it today as it is not 100% finished. The workout is good to go, but I need a bit more time for my video guru Lauren to input all of the instructional text.

So, what I am going to do is get this sucker online right now, and when we have added all the text, come back and replace all this text so future viewers never know that I put a beta version online.

About the Workout:

This is a High Intensity Resistance Training Circuit consisting of…

  • 4 Minutes total work
  • 8 x 30 second sets
  • 3 exercises

The 3 Workout Exercises are…

  1. Squats
  2. Push Ups 
  3. Jumping Jacks

Note – Choose the version of Squats or Push Ups equal to your fitness level. You want to push yourself as hard as possible, while being realistic about your current fitness level

Exercise Options

SQUATS

PUSH UPS

Exercise Tips

  • Push yourself as hard as your fitness level will allow
  • Keep rest to a minimum
  • Maintain correct form – see “how-to” videos
  • Work hard, fast & safe

This is a great fat-burning, fitness boosting workout. However, since I can’t watch over you like one of my “real-life” personal training clients, I need to drop a little common sense…

Please note that this video is designed for educational purposes only. Not all exercises and/or training programs are appropriate for everyone. Before starting any new workout routine, please take into account your personal health & fitness condition. Injuries can happen. Please consult your trainer or healthcare professional before jumping into this or any other exercise program.

Now that that’s over, it’s time to get sweaty….

THE WORKOUT

 As this is the first workout / exercise video I have put online, I would really appreciate your feedback. Be merciless….I want these exercise videos to be as good as they possibly can…without spending a ton of money of course 🙂

Planned Changes/Upgrades

  • We are going to change the timer/buzzer. What I want is a 30 second timer for each set & either a 4 minute timer or progress bar so that people know how much time is left in the workout.
  • Text warning 5 sec before the next exercise starts – “Push Ups are next” – or something like that
  • A longer chunk of text at the end of the workout with more details about the circuit
  • Text before the workout starts with some of the info I posted above

About my experience with these first few exercise videos

It has been incredibly cool. I have been lucky enough to find an amazing partner in my videographer Lauren Webb…(her Vimeo page – her Tumblr). She took my rambling descriptions of what I wanted to do with these videos and is making them look even better than I had hoped they could be.

And we are just getting warmed up. Lauren’s background is actual film making…not exercise videos. As such, this first round of videos has involved a LOT of getting to know each other, our goals for the project, our expectations and what can actually be done on a shoestring budget.

Not only will we be faster with the next round of videos, they will look better and will have more features. Stay tuned.

I would also like to thank our fantastic fitness model Nicole for her patience and positive attitude…as well as her ability to bang out push up after push up after push up.

Finally, I would like to thank the Miles Nadal JCC in Toronto for providing the location for the video shoot. With that said, if you’re looking for a new gym in Toronto, I can highly recommend the JCC and suggest that you call and ask for my buddy Manny at the JCC –Call and ask for him at (416) 924-6211 x 500  or  shoot him a direct email .

Health Habits “How-To” Exercise Videos – Squats

As I promised yesterday, today’s post is the second installment of “how-to” exercise videos. Yesterday’s push-ups and today’s squats are going to be combined with a third “mystery” exercise to create a thoroughly unpleasant (and very, very effective) High Intensity Resistance Training circuit workout video that I will post on Wednesday. bodyweight squat And as the exercise video library grows, I will create full-length (20 minute) High Intensity Resistance Training exercise videos. These videos will be posted on Thursdays…and will include instructions on how to add mobility, flexibility, HIIT and/or cardio training to the resistance training workout video to look after all your exercise needs. Alright, enough yakity yak…let’s get to the exercise videos

HealthHabits “How-To” Exercise Videos #2 – Squats

Bodyweight Squats

Goblet Squats

Overhead Squats

Tomorrow, I combine these exercises + one more “mystery” exercise into an awesome High Intensity Resistance Training circuit workout. Get ready to sweat.

suck it up buttercup

NOTE – As this is my first attempt at doing workout – exercise videos, I would really, really appreciate your feedback on the quality / usability of these videos. My goal is to make them useful for people who workout at home (video on their tv sets or laptop) & at the gym (video on smartphone or tablet). 

Health Habits “How-To” Exercise Videos – Push Ups

I am launching a new project here at Health Habits.

Starting this week, I will be posting…

  • a group of “how-to” exercise videos on Mondays,
  • another group of “how-to” exercise videos on Tuesdays, and
  • a short (4 min) High Intensity Resistance Training circuit workout video on Wednesdays

Wednesday’s 4-min circuit workout video will be made up of the exercises posted on Monday & Tuesday.

woman-push-up

As the video library grows, I will create full-length (20 minute) High Intensity Resistance Training workout videos. These videos will be posted on Thursdays…and will include instructions on how to add mobility, flexibility, HIIT and/or cardio training to the resistance training workout video to look after all your exercise needs.

So…here we go….

HealthHabits “How-To” Exercise Videos #1 – Push Ups

Push Ups from your Knees

Push Ups – Standard

Push Ups – Single leg version

Push Ups – Feet on stability ball

NOTE – As this is my first attempt at doing exercise – workout videos, I would really, really appreciate your feedback on the quality / usability of these videos. My goal is to make them useful for people who workout at home (video on their tv sets or laptop) & at the gym (video on smartphone or tablet).

grover sesame street exercise

And before anyone compliments me on my awesome videographer skills with multiple camera angles and video editing and original music and all the other stuff that makes these videos look waaaaayyyy better than all the other exercise – workout videos on Youtube…..it wasn’t me. I managed to convince an amazing young videographer – Lauren Webb…(her Vimeo page – her Tumblr)  – to do all the hard work for me.

I would also like to thank our fantastic fitness model Nicole for her endurance. Even though Nicole is a super-fit personal trainer at the JCC, you wouldn’t believe how many reps she had to perform as we changed angles and played with lighting, etc. Two hours of push-ups, squats and jumping jacks…without getting sweaty and un-model-ly.

Finally, I would like to thank Manny Amaral from the Miles Nadal JCC in Toronto for providing the location for the video shoot. Everyone at the JCC is great and Manny is no exception. With that said, if you’re looking for a new gym in Toronto, I can highly recommend that you ask for my buddy Manny at the JCC – Call and ask for him at (416) 924-6211 x 500  or  shoot him a direct email .

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Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

It seems like I hear some version of this question each and every day. Just this past weekend, it was posed to me by Angela.

  • Angela is a forty-something year old woman, with two kids and an executive position at an insurance company.
  • Angela is 5’6″ and weighs approximately 170 lbs.
  • Angela doesn’t want to weigh approximately 170 lbs.

Maybe, some of you can sympathize with her story.

Why Can't I Lose Weight?

Angela’s Story

All the way through high school, Angela was an average, healthy weight. Not thin; healthy. She participated in gym class and enjoyed playing tennis. In university, she fell victim to the dreaded “freshman fifteen”. By the time she graduated, it was more like 20 lbs.

After graduation, she lost most of that weight by exercising at a health club and watching what she ate.

Why Can't I Lose Weight?

Next came the babies…

After the birth of her two children, Angela found herself reunited with that extra 20 lbs. Throwing herself back into that same exercise and nutrition program, Angela managed to lose most of that 20 lbs….And then gain it all back….and then lose most of it again…..and then gain it all back plus a little bit extra.

This takes us back to the present day.

  • Angela has 35 lbs. of excess fat that she wants to be rid of.
  • And she feels completely lost.
  • She has read every diet book.
  • She has exercised like an Olympic athlete.
  • She has cleansed.
  • She has popped dietary supplements.
  • She has joined and quit three different diet programs.

Nothing works anymore. So she asks me, “Why can’t I lose weight”?

So Why Can’t She Lose Weight?

The truth is; when it comes to burning off excess body-fat, Angela has no idea what she is doing. But it’s not her fault.

  • The multi-billion dollar diet industry sets people up for failure. If every dieter was successful, who would buy the next best selling diet book? Who would buy the pills or the bars or the shakes or the… Well, you get the point.
  • The diet industry promises you easy weight loss. But when you fail, it is always due to your lack of will-power. So why don’t the diet gurus help you generate that will power?

Why don’t they give you a complete weight loss program involving:

  • Nutrition
  • Exercise, and
  • Mental / Emotional / Spiritual Strategies

Starting on the next page, I will attempt to do that

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More Proof – HIIT Better than Cardio

I-LOVE-HIITAs a personal trainer with 25 yrs of experience AND as a certified fitness junkie, I love HIIT because…

  1. it works really, really well to help my clients get fit really, really fast,
  2. it helps my clients drop excess body-fat really, really fast
  3. and because it is really simple to program HIIT workouts and it fits into the busiest of schedules really, really well.

Unfortunately, not everyone sees HIIT like I do. 

There is a large group of trainers and fitness “experts” who…

  • think that low intensity cardio is superior to HIIT for developing aerobic fitness, and
  • fear that the High Intensity aspect of HIIT is dangerous to the health of their clients.

Their concern is that people with less than perfect cardiac function are at imminent risk of suffering a heart attack if their trainer puts them on a HIIT protocol. Which makes sense….if you haven’t read a medical journal in the past few years and still believe that low intensity cardio is the only safe way to improve cardiac function..

However, if you’re like me and don’t want to wait for our mainstream health & fitness to catch up with modern science, I invite you to…

1. Take a look at some of my articles about HIIT and Cardiac Function

2.  Take a look at the latest research investigating HIIT and building a healthy heart

In a study just published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, researchers tested the effectiveness of HIIT workouts to improve the VO2max/VO2peak of 112 patients with coronary heart disease.

NoteVO2max/VO2peak is considered to be the gold standard for aerobic fitness, and aerobic fitness is believed to be the best indicator of cardiovascular health and a well-established predictor of total and cardiovascular mortality in subjects with and without coronary heart disease.

This means that exercise protocols which drastically improve VO2max/VO2peak are to be seen as powerful tools to help the medical (and fitness) communities prevent coronary heart disease and extend life.

In this study, the participants were divided into three groups based upon exercise intensity – as determined by percentage of HRmax.

  • <88%,
  • 88–92%, and
  • >92% of HRmax

The goal of the study was to determine if higher relative intensity during exercise intervals would elicit a greater
increase in VO2peak…leading to greater & faster improvements in aerobic fitness and in theory improve cardiac related mortality rates.

Here’s what happened

  • No adverse effects occurred during training
  • Overall, VO2peak increased by 11.9 % after 23.4 exercise sessions
  • Higher intensity exercise groups showed the greatest increase in VO2peak
  • 3.1 mL for the <88% group
  • 3.6 mL for the 88–92% group, and
  • 5.2 mL,for the >92% of HRmax group

hiit heart function

These findings build upon previous research which shows that the beneficial cardiovascular effects of aerobic exercise are intensity dependent, with higher intensity exercise showing a superior effect…leading the study authors to conclude that  “CHD patients who are able to perform high intensity training should aim at increasing exercise intensity above 92% of HRmax and thereby possibly achieve even greater improvements in aerobic capacity”.

What does this mean for you?

  • If you’re a CHD patient, you need to talk to your cardiologist about HIIT training…keeping in mind of course that CHD patients need to keep a close eye on how everything they do – exercise, nutrition, lifestyle, stress, etc – can impact the function of their CV system.
  • If you’re not a CHD patient, it means that if you want to improve your aerobic fitness and avoid dropping dead of a heart attack, you NEED to start doing some form of HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training.
  • And if you’re a doctor or fitness expert who still believes that low intensity cardio is the best way to improve aerobic function, you need to put down your preconceptions and pick up a scientific journal every now and then.

Reference

  • Moholdt T, et al. The higher the better? Interval training intensity in coronary heart disease. J Sci Med Sport
    (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2013.07.007
  • Rognmo O, Moholdt T, Bakken H et al. Cardiovascular risk of high- versus
    moderate-intensity aerobic exercise in coronary heart disease patients. Circulation 2012; 126(12):1436–1440.
  • . Kodama S, Saito K, Tanaka S et al. Cardiorespiratory fitness as a quantitative predictor of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular events in healthy men and women: a meta-analysis. JAMA 2009; 301(19):2024–2035.

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Is Magnesium a Cure for Insomnia and Restless Legs?

Magnesium deficiency has been linked to a number of clinical conditions including hypertension, myocardial infarction, cardiac dysrhythmias, coronary spasm, premature artherosclerosis and diabetes.

It is also used as a treatment for angina, asthma, gall stones, menstrual cramps, high blood pressure, hyperactivity, glucose intolerance, diabetes, hypoglycemia, fatigue, fibromyalgia, prevention of hearing loss, kidney stones, leg cramps, migraine, osteoporosis, PMS, prostate issues and INSOMNIA.

And according to government data, 68% of Americans do not consume the recommended intakes of magnesium and 19% of Americans do not consume even half of the recommended intakes.

Not good….and up until 5 years ago, that was me.

Until I was introduced to magnesium supplements during a health & fitness trade show.

A rep for Natural Calm gave me a bunch of samples and while I sleep pretty well, I did notice an immediate effect on my sleep. My mind stopped obsessing over what I did or didn’t do that day or what I had to do tomorrow. Just calm.

And it made me wonder…could something as simple as magnesium be a cure for insomnia?

Since then, I have had no qualms recommending this product to clients & friends who are having trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep or just getting their busy minds to quiet so they can relax.

A mug of their lemon flavor drink about an hour before bed does the trick for me every time.

And recently, while searching for a natural treatment for a friend with neuropathy in both legs, I found a bunch of research about magnesium oil helping to relieve muscle spasms, tension and various forms of neuropathy – pain, restless legs, itching, tingling, etc.

Google also told me that Natural Calm makes a magnesium oil.

So, I emailed the fine folks at Natural Calm and told them about my friend and they sent me a bunch of samples – Magnesium Oil & Gel. (being a blogger can have its perks)

And knock on wood, it’s been a great success. Applied on her legs after a  hot bath and just before bed, my friend has seen a significant reduction in pain, tingling and restlessness.

Conclusion

I was a fan before trying the oil…and I am an even bigger fan now.

So, if you think that supplementing with magnesium may be helpful to you, I can honestly & wholeheartedly recommend both the Natural Calm drink and their Magnesium Oil.

NOTE – You can buy Natural Calm and Magnesium Oil at these links

NOTE #2 – I would love to hear about your experiences (good or bad) with magnesium.

Reference

Increase Your Bench Press…thanks to Koji Murofushi

The Koji Bench Press is known by many names:

  • the Crazy Bell Bench Press,
  • the Bamboo Bench Press,
  • the Banded Kettlebell Bench Press,
  • the Hanging Kettlebell Bench Press,
  • the Crazy Plate Bench Press
  • the Bandbell Bench Press
  • and the Chaos Bench Press.

Whatever you call it, the Koji Bench Press has been attributed to Japanese hammer thrower Koji Murofushi and his unique training techniques.

The general idea behind the hanging weights is to create a higher level of instability via it’s pendulum chaotic oscillating effect….taxing and strengthening the assistance / stabilizer musculature….

….preventing & repairing injuries….

…improving athletic performance…

…while exposing any weaknesses in your musculature.

NOTEThe first time you try this technique, GO LIGHT!!!!

I’m not joking. Until your nervous gets used to the Koji bench press, you’re gonna shake and shake and quite possibly dop the bar onto your face. So GO LIGHT!!!

Over time, I have found the Koji bench press to be a great tool for helping get rid of sticking points, increasing totals and helping “sore shoulder” lifters bench with less pain.

You’re going to look strange doing the Koji, but if you give it 2-3 months, you will see improvements.

How to Get Strong – The Science of Strength

In an earlier post, The Components of Physical Fitness, I divided physical fitness into it’s component parts and provided a brief introduction of each part.

In today’s post, I am going to focus on muscular strength…or as Google likes to say…how to get strong, how to get stronger, how to get brutally strong, how to get freaky strong, etc, etc, etc.

And if you plan on getting freaky strong, you’re going to need to understand the whys and hows behind getting strong. And those whys and hows are all based in science.

So….we’re going to look at some of that science to help you figure out how to maximize your own personal levels of “strong”.

Intro to Muscular Strength

How strong you are (and how strong you could be) depends on the performance of your body’s skeletal muscles.

Your body’s muscles are highly adaptable. They will react to the stresses that you place upon them.

  • Sit on the couch and they will atrophy.
  • Try and run fast and they adapt to produce faster contractions.
  • Lift heavy objects and they will increase their ability to produce maximum strength.

Muscular Strength can and has been categorized in a variety of different ways. In this article, I am choosing to divide Muscular Strength into four categories, based primarily on Newton’s Second Law.

vec F = m vec a (force is equal to the product of mass and acceleration.) Mass relates to how much weight/mass a muscle or muscle group can move. Acceleration relates to how fast that weight/mass is moved.

By using and manipulating force, mass and acceleration, we can force our muscles to adapt and become more efficient at generating…

4 Types of Muscular Strength

  • Maximum Muscular Strength
  • Maximum Muscular Power
  • Maximum Muscular Speed
  • Maximum Muscular Endurance

NOTE – Each of these categories has different characteristics with regard to mass and acceleration

Navigation

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The Absolute Best Barefoot Running Shoe

Last year, I reviewed the Skora Base running shoe. In that review, I concluded that the Skora Base was an excellent barefoot/minimalist/natural running shoe. Excellent…but not perfect.

  • The soles were very durable, giving the shoe a very long life
  • Great ventilation = reduced stinkfoot
  • I received lots of positive feedback on how the shoes look…not important, but nice
  • Easy to slip on…way easier than Vibrams
  • A little on the heavy side for a barefoot shoe
  • Comfortable as heck
  • Designed to encourage “natural” walking/running gaits
  • A toe box roomier than standard running shoes but not as roomy as some uber-barefoots
  • Zero heel drop
  • Average sole thinkness – not super thin like Sockwa but way better than a lot of “barefoot” shoes. This give them decent ground feel.
  • And the unfortunate feature that when my cross-training workouts got a little hot & sweaty, I found that lateral stability became a significant issue. Not a big deal if you’re running around a track, but if you’re bounding through the woods or playing a little tennis, I found that I was almost sliding sideways out of my shoes.

So….when I heard that Skora has two new models for 2013, I was curious to see if Skora had addressed my personal issues with their kicks. And they have.

With two new models…. The Phase and the Core.

phase x skora

Here are the upgrades…

  • The toe box is roomier in both styles- I can now wiggle my toes while wearing both the Skora Phase and the Skora Core
  • The new for 2013 synthetic upper Phase is lighter than my synthetic upper Base shoes. 7.2 oz v.s. 7.9 oz
  • The new for 2013 leather upper Core is lighter than the previous leather upper Form shoes. 8.1 oz 8.2 oz (not much of a diff here)
  • Both of the new styles are using a new injection blown rubber outsole giving both the Phase and Core a “grippier” feel and an increased ability to feel the ground beneath your shoes. This new sole reminds me of the sole Leming uses.
  • And finally, both shoes have much improved lateral stability. This might be due to the new lamination process used to bond the upper materials and overlays without stitching. Skora claims “this results in a stronger, more durable upper with less seams to let in water or rub against the skin”. All I can tell you is that I am not sliding around in this shoe.

So, all in all, both of these new Skoras – the synthetic Phase and the goatskin leather Core get two great big enthusiastic thumbs-up from yours truly.

SKORA_CORE-M03_medial_34_3

If you want to learn a little more about the specifics of these shoes, please continue reading…

Review Criteria

  • Protection – If you’re not going to develop thick natural calluses by actually running barefoot, you need to wear a shoe that will protect you from the occasional sharp stone or chunk of glass.
Where my old Skora Base shoes have a 9mm Forefoot/heel stack height (sole 4mm, midsole 5mm), the new Skora Phases and Skora Cores have both been reduced down to 8mm while changing the sole material from a high abrasion rubber to a grippier injection blown rubber. Defintely an upgrade in my mind.
SKORA_CORE-M03_outsole_36_3
  • Proprioception – A bare foot provides immediate feedback to the surface it rests upon. A thick spongy sole…not so much. This can be crucial when it comes to avoiding ankle sprains and wiping out while trail running.

I can’t get over how much this shift to injection blown rubber has made on the proprioception capabilities of these new Skoras. As mentioned above, both the Phase and Base are 1 mm thinner. And unless you are the princess from the Princess and the Pea, I doubt you can tell the difference. But there definitely is a difference in ground feel with these new Skoras. It has to be the new rubber.

SKORA_PHASE-M03_top_59_3

  • Natural Foot Movement – Does the shoe allow or prevent your foot from flexing & spreading in order to distribute the load uniformly over the entire foot. This analysis will address shoe width (especially the toe box), arch support, shock absorption, etc…

Like the older model Skora Base & Form, this is where I believe Skora really separates itself from the rest of the barefoot/minimalist/natural shoe pack. Unlike some minimalist shoes which basically slap some rubber onto the bottom of a polyester sock, the Skora engineers have created an aysmmetric last shape with a curved bottom profile. And it’s that curved outsole which is supposed to mimic the natural foot shape and encourage a natural medial to lateral rolling motion which makes the Skora truly unique. And with the now wider toe box, there is absolutely nothing to complain about. Unlike any other minimalist shoe that I have ever worn, the Skora Base actually makes you run naturally. No more falling back into old patterns of heel striking.

All 4 models of Skora running shoes (Core, Form, Phase and Base) will have you landing midfoot and absorbing impact as your feet were originally designed. And while that may not be a huge deal for someone (me) who has spent years re-training their neuro-muscular system and suffering though freakishly tight calves and the converted their bodies to a minimalist style of running, it is a gigantic deal for someone who wants to start running ala barefoot put has spent years running heel-toe. For this one feature alone, I can’t say enough good things about Skora.

  • Weight of the Shoe – Who wants a heavy, clunky shoe?

Both of these 2013 models are lighter than their predeccesors – with the Skora Phase weighing 7.2 oz and the Skora Core weighing 8.1 oz. Not the lightest barefoot shoes on the market, but light enough that you probably will never notice the difference. Next page – the review continues…

The Bruce Lee Workout

In the world of bodybuilding and physique transformation, one of the most highly respected physiques of all time belonged to a guy who stood 5’7″ and weighed between 130 and 165 lbs.

That’s right…at his heaviest, Bruce Lee weighed only 165 lbs.

And yet, bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger were in awe of the body he built.

So, how did he do it?

And more importantly, how can you do it?

How can you build a body like this?

Well, if you want to learn about the weightlifting routine he used to build his strength and increase his muscle mass….pick up a copy of The Art of Expressing the Human Body.

But…you will be wasting your time.

If Bruce Lee was alive today, he would not be using the training routines found inside that book.

Bruce Lee believed that as a warrior and as a person, one should never “get set into one form. One should adapt and create your own style, and let it grow, be like water”.

Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water.

When you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup;

When you put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle;

When you put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot.

Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.

At this point, you may be asking…what the heck does being formless like water have to do with fitness, working out and getting a wicked set of abs like Bruce Lee?

Well, I’m going to tell you.

Bruce_Lee

Being formless like water means using those training techniques that work for your particular goals…and to not get all wrapped up in dogma.

  • There is no perfect workout
  • There is no perfect diet.

What there is, is….

  • your body as it currently exists,
  • your vision of how you want your body to be
  • and a whole bunch of tools & techniques that may or may not help you achieve your goals.

Becoming attached to a certain training method (bodybuilding, yoga, pilates, crossfit, cardio, walking, aerobic classes, Tae-Bo, P 90X, etc…) is a sure path to stagnation and unattained goals.

The same goes for nutrition.

If the tool is ineffective, find a way to make it effective or replace it with another tool.

Be like water

Unique goals require unique solutions.

One size does not fit all.

Be fluid like water…and get a wicked set of abs like Bruce Lee

bruce-lee-lats

Be the Best You that You Can Be

Every day, I speak with people who want to transform their body from fat to fit. And for the most part, I tell them that the human body is an amazingly adaptable machine that WILL respond to exercise, nutrition, etc.

Unfortunately, sometimes I have to splash a little cold water on their hopes & dreams. Just like Mssrs Ecto, Meso & Endo, we all face unique limitations and restrictions.

  • Mr. Meso’s waist is great for bodybuiding…but not so good for becoming the World’s Strongest Man
  • And while Mr. Endo is built for pulling transport trucks out of ditches, he is never, ever going to be as lean as Mr. Ecto without a boatload of illegal and life-threatening drugs.

We all have limitations…

  • Physical – wide hips, narrow hips, small boobs, big boobs, muscle fiber type, metabolic rate, etc…
  • Mental – self-confidence and belief in their ability to improve
  • Financial – gym memberships, trainers, healthy food & supplements cost money
  • Social – support of friends & family isn’t guaranteed
  • Knowledge – Some people still believe that cardio is the best way to lose weight
  • Time – we are all stuck with this one 😦

And while most of us will never be hired to be the next Calvin Klein model…

calvin-klein-models

…we sure as heck can be better than we are today.

Be the Best You that You Can Be

 

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The Human Body is an Amazing Machine

One of the most important things I can do as a personal trainer is convince my new clients that their body is capable of making amazing improvements if they are willing to put in the work.

To prove that point to one of my most incredibly stubborn male clients, I decided to challenge him to a little contest.

The deal was that between Novemeber and March, we would both follow the same training, nutrition and supplement programs.

  • If he stuck to the program (90% adherence) and didn’t see a big change, I would refund everything he paid me for personal training.
  • If he stuck to the program and did see a big change, he had to give me 5 pairs of his Toronto Blue Jays season tickets.
  • If he didn’t stick to the program, I got the tickets and a weekend with his lady…a 1963 Corvette Stingray.
  • And if I didn’t stick to the program…I had to refund his money regardless of how he did.

KNUCKLE-SANDWICH

Fast forward to March 2013

  • We both stuck with the program
  • My client gained 18 pounds (12 muscle/6 fat)
  • My client increased every test lift (10 lifts) by a minimum of 34%
  • My client increased his 3 target lifts as follows:
  1. Squat went from 185 lbs x 5 reps to 365 x 5 reps
  2. Bench Press went from 205 lbs x 1 to 295 lbs x 1 rep
  3. Hanging Deadlift (from knees) from 225 lbs x 1 rep to 505 lbs x 1 rep

Not bad for a 48 year old guy with bad knees and a creaky lower back.

What about Me???

  • I gained 49 pounds (23 muscle/26 fat) 
  • My test lifts increased by a minimum of 35%
  • My 3 target lifts went back to levels I haven’t achieved in a decade:
  1. Squat went from 475 lbs x 5 reps to 675 lbs x 5 reps
  2. Bench Press went from 405 lbs x 1 rep to 545 lbs x 1 rep
  3. Hanging Deadlift went from 525 lbs x 5 reps to 765 lbs x 5 reps

What Now?

  • My client is going to start following a strict Paleo diet with the goal of dropping 15 lbs of body-fat before summer. We are also switching his training from strength to fitness/agility/speed and overall health.
  • I have started back on a hybrid Paleo diet designed to melt off all that body-fat I gained eating potatoes and rice. Like my client, I am going to switch my focus from strength to fitness/agility/speed and overall health. Along with the fat gain, my 43 year-old joints aren’t too happy about the strength/size phase. My knees and shoulders hurt…even with all of the rehab & mobility work I did over the winter.

Conclusion

The Human Body is an Amazing Machine.

You Have to Respect…Mommy Strength

As a 10 year old boy, I was rudely introduced to Mommy Strength when my mother, fed up with her two squabbling sons, picked us both up…tucked one underneath each arm…walked us inside the house and proceeded to explain why the fraternal-fisticuffs were going to stop and brotherly love would become the new normal in her house.

Needless to say, both my brother and I were more than a little freaked out by how easily my Mom totally wo-manhandled the two of us.

Mommy strength isn’t about developing perfectly perky biceps…it’s about being able to perform the world’s most difficult job to the best of your abilities.

And here are 4 strength tips designed to maximize your Mommy Strength ...without turning you into a She-Hulk.

1.  Compound Movements

Don’t waste your time with bicep curls and tricep kickbacks. Focus on multi-joint movements that use a group of different muscles to perform the movement. Here are some of my favorite compound movements:

2.  Core Strength

One of the unfortunate truths about our bodies is that the lower back is treated like the runt of the litter by the rest of the muscles and joints. For example, if your legs are tired or too weak to perform a movement, it will shift some of the effort to the muscles of the lower back. And your lower back will happily (or unhappily) take the load.

Unfortunately, when your lower back is tired or sore, none of the other muscle groups are as willing to take the load. The lower back is stuck with the work…and this leads to pain, inflammation, swelling, spastic muscles and more pain.

To prevent this from happening, Moms who want to be Mommy Strong should spend time developing their core strength. Here are some of my favorite core exercises:

3.  Joint Mobility

Strong Mommies don’t have time for the stiff necks, sore lower backs and achy shoulders that come from lugging two squabbling kids in from the back yard.

That’s why they need to…

  1. Tenderize stiff muscles,
  2. Eliminate muscle imbalances, and
  3. Prevent structural damage caused by #’s 1 & 2

Here are some of my favorite techniques for keeping Strong Mommies pain free.

4.  Posterior Chain Strength

As a personal trainer, I am always meeting new clients who have decent strength in their arms, abs, and quads…but are much weaker in their upper back, lower backs, hamstrings and booty.

This imbalance between the muscles on the front of your body (anterior chain) and the muscles on the back of your body (posterior chain) will lead to all sorts of problems down the road.

Here are some of my favorite posterior chain exercises:

For more Mommy Strength advice, feel free to sign up for email updates or follow me on Twitter

When it comes to HIIT – Quality trumps Quantity

Anyone familiar with Health Habits knows that I am a big fan of HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training

I love HIIT is because…

  • HIIT makes you faster
  • HIIT saves time with short workouts
  • HIIT make you more powerful
  • HIIT burns calories for hours after you’ve finished your workout
  • HIIT is challenging
  • HIIT makes a workout more fun
  • HIIT improves your aerobic endurance
  • HIIT improves heart function
  • HIIT improves your aerobic endurance
  • HIIT helps heart disease patients regain their health
  • HIIT is appropriate for almost all trainees
  • HIIT makes you look like a total BADASS in the gym

Unfortunately, just as soon as HIIT left the fringes of exercise science and moved into the mainstream and your local YMCA, the central concept behind the success of HIIT came under attack.

HIIT works as well as it does because of intensity of effort. Not length of sprint…or length of training session…or number of sprints performed…or restricting rest periods…HIIT works because of a complete 100%, pit-bull chasing you down the street type of intensity.

Each HIIT sprint should feel FAST. When your sprints start to slow down, you need to…

  1. Increase rest period length, or
  2. Shorten sprint duration, or
  3. Reduce resistance, or
  4. All of the above

Remember – When it comes to HIIT – Quality trumps Quantity

the flash bw

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Best Body Transformation 2013

For the past two years, I have been posting free workouts here at Health Habits

These workouts employed all manner of fitness equipment and as such, were more appropriate for people with gym memberships.

This year, we are going to focus on people who workout at home.

  • To begin with, we will only be doing body-weight exercises.
  • After a month or so, we will add in some strength band workouts. I suggest you buy yours NOW!!!
  • As we go along, I might add in a kettlebell or some other piece of home fitness equipment. I will give you lots of notice OR give you alternative exercises.

The workouts we will be posting online are exact replicas of the ones I am using with one of my newest clients. In fact, to show you how effective these workouts can be, my little guinea pig  has agreed to track his physique transformation as the year progresses.

His goals are as follows:

  1. Reduce body-fat
  2. Get fitter – stronger, more flexible, agile, etc
  3. Get healthier
  4. Look great in the buff

Which are probably the same goals as 93% of y’all.

Here’s what we’re starting with…

Measurements : Day # 1

  • Weight : 283 lbs
  • Waist – landmarked @ Belly Button  : 50″
  • Hips – landmarked @ Butt : 45″
  • Upper Arm – Midpoint between Shoulder & Elbow : 17″ relaxed – 18″ flexed
  • Thigh – Midpoint between Hip & Knee : 28.5″
  • Neck :19″
  • Chest – landmarked @ Nipples : 53″

[colored_box color=”yellow”]There are a few other health issues that we will be tracking, but will not be reporting here at HH (as per client request). Nothing out of the ordinary, but he wants to retain some modicum of privacy. If, in the future, he decides to open up his life a little more, I will report how this transformation has affected these issues.[/colored_box]

Pictures: Day 1

Transformation---1---Front

Transformation-1-Side-right

Transformation---1---Back

Transformation--1--Side-Lef

  • On Monday, I will post the first resistance workout.
  • On Tuesday, I will lay out the dietary / lifestyle plan that I put together for our guinea pig
  • On Wednesday, I will post the second resistance workout.
  • On Thursday, I will make some recommendations about future exercise equipment purchases.
  • On Friday, we have the 3rd resistance workout.

If you have any questions for me or the GP, feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me a message on Twitter.

alpha-flight-canadian-super
after pic???

Reebok Nano 2 Shoe Review

The Reebok Nano 2 isn’t your run of the mill athletic shoe. It’s equal parts…

  • Barefoot/Minimalist shoe
  • Running shoe
  • Gym workout shoe

And unlike most of the hybrid shoes I have beta-tested in the past few years, it does a great job at blending the best parts of these three very different styles of athletic shoe.

reebok-nano-2.0

  • It provides better stability than a pure barefoot shoe. This is important if you’re participating in activities that require rapid changes of direction – soccer, tennis, sprinting, fitness classes, football, Zumba dance fitness, ultimate frisbee, interval training workouts, etc.

Your foot stays in place when you’re moving from side to side or exploding from a dead-start into a full-out sprint.

  • Unlike most running shoes that have a built-up heel and force you into an unhealthy heel-toe running form, the almost completely flat profile of the Nano 2.0 allows you to adopt a natural “barefoot”  running style.

barefoot-running

  • But before you go thinking that the Nano is a true minimalist/barefoot shoe, we need to look at the sole of the shoe. Because, unlike most barefoot shoes, the Nano has a thicker sole & midsole designed to…
  1. Provide more cushioning for runners, and
  2. Provide a flat, stable base for weightlifting

As this shoe was designer for Crossfitters who do all manner of exercise, this was the most necessary design feature of the shoe. And in my humble opinion, Reebok has done a fine job of engineering.

I have been running in barefoot/minimalist shoes for years, and while I did notice the loss of “ground-feel” caused by the thickness of the sole/midsole, I had no problems going for a 30 minute jog prior to hitting the gym for a resistance training workout.

[box type=”note”]This rigid sole would be a drawback for trail runners who want to “feel” the ground conditions and run “naturally”. Due to this, I wouldn’t recommend the Nano 2.0 for trail running or for runners who require high levels of proprioception.[/box]

  • While the Nano doesn’t provide optimal proprioceptive feedback, it does provide one of the most important features of a barefoot shoe – natural foot movement

The wide toe box and “natural” foot shape allows your foot to move as it was designed to move. Unlike most fitness shoes with a narrow toe box and all manner of corrective technology, the Nano 2.0 doesn’t force your foot into any un-natural positions. And this is a very very good thing.

reebok-nano-2.0-top-view

 All in all, I am a big fan of this shoe. I have used them over the past month for a wide variety of workouts and I wasn’t disappointed by them once.

And I don’t think you will be either.

healthhabits health fitness senior

How to Live Longer…and Better

Every January 1st, thousands and thousands of people resolve to….

  1. lose weight,
  2. get fit,
  3. and become uber-healthy

By February 1st, almost all of those people are sprawled on the couch eating Cheetos and watching Dancing With The Stars.

Maybe if they knew that:

  • Adults who perform at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week live longer than those who don’t.

In this study, researchers “used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the National Health Interview Study mortality linkage, and U.S. Life Tables to estimate and compare the life expectancy at each age for adults who were inactive, somewhat-active and active. “Active” was defined as doing at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week”.

They found that…

  • Men at age 20 were estimated to gain as much as 2.4 years of life from moderate activity.
  • Women at age 20 gained about 3 additional years from engaging in moderate activity.

This benefit crossed racial barriers as well – with the “biggest benefit from physical activity seen in non-Hispanic black women, who gained as many as 5.5 potential years of life”.

A second study, published in PLOS, found that…

  • 75 minutes of brisk walking per week was associated with a gain of 1.8 years
  • Higher levels of physical activity (equivalent to 450 min of brisk walking per week) resulted in a gain of 4.5 years.

Unfortunately for those of us trying to sell the benefits of exercise to our loved ones, neither of these studies looking at quality of life.

If I was a betting man, I would bet that not only do the “exercisers” live longer, they live better…with more energy, less aches & pains, better state of mind, etc…

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Reference

Brooks Pure Connect – Barefoot Shoe Review

Alright, I’m back again with another Barefoot / Minimalist shoes review and this time I’m looking at the Brooks Pure Connect running shoes.

Like the Reebok RealFlex, the Brooks Pure Connect is an attempt by one of the major running shoe manufacturers to expand upon it’s standard “heel-toe” style of running shoe and enter the barefoot/minimalist shoe universe (shoeniverse???)

And like the RealFlex, the Brooks Pure Connect attempts to maintain some aspects of their standard runners while adopting the qualities of barefoot running shoes that they feel are most vital.

Let’s see how they did.

Review Criteria

  • Protection – If you’re not going to develop thick natural calluses by actually running barefoot, you need to wear a shoe that will protect you from the occasional sharp stone or chunk of glass.

The Brooks Pure Connect protects your feet more like a traditional running shoe than the much thinner soles of most barefoot shoes. Note that this increased protection from sharp objects will result in a trade-off with respect to proprioception and stiffness.

Unlike their traditional runners, Brooks has attempted to create a more mobile sole by creating a split in starting just to the inside of your big toe and running towards your midsole. You can see how they are trying to straddle the fence by trying to blend the uber-flexibility of a minimalist sole with the protection and performance of a standard Brooks running shoe.
  • Proprioception – A bare foot provides immediate feedback to the surface it rests upon. A thick spongy sole…not so much. This can be crucial when it comes to avoiding ankle sprains and wiping out while trail running.

Compared to Lemings or Sockwas, the Brook Pure Connect has horrible proprioception. Compared to Nike Free and the Reebok Real Flex , the Pure Connect is equal if not superior. The split sole does not give the foot mobility that it claims, but all in all, there is more ground-feel than with the Nikes or Reeboks.

  • Natural Foot Movement – Does the shoe allow or prevent your foot from flexing & spreading in order to distribute the load uniformly over the entire foot. This analysis will address shoe width (especially the toe box), arch support, shock absorption, etc…

Unlike companies that specialize in barefoot/minimalist shoes, Brooks and other mainstream athletic shoe manufacturers are at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to creating their barefoot shoes. They realize that this market niche is growing very quickly, but there is no way that they are going to abandon the technology of their standard running shoes and go 100% minimalist. Ain’t gonna happen. They sell way too many “standard” running shoes.

What Brooks has done is recognize that different runners like to run…differently. Brooks sees all of these runners as fitting somewhere along the line of their Float vs Feel continuum of running styles & shoes. This video explains the concept.

The Pure Connect is the most extreme example of a Brooks “Feel” shoe.

  •  To that end, Brooks has split the outer sole of the shoe to make it more flexible than their standard runners. And in that regard, they have succeeded. However, compared to shoes created by companies that specialize in barefoot/minimalist shoes, this shoe is much, much stiffer.
  • Brooks is also using an anatomical last that is less restrictive than their standard models. As well, the sock liner is removable…producing an even more natural feel.
  • They have also minimized the size of the heel to help new-to-barefoot runners adapt to a mid-foot strike. This design feature is similar to the one used by Skora.

[box type=”note”]One area of natural foot movement where Brooks really missed the mark is with shoe width.[/box]

This shoe is way too narrow.

  • My wife has a very narrow foot and she loves these shoes. LOVES THEM.
  • Me…wide feet – couldn’t even fit into them.
  • My third guinea pig – normal feet – could squeeze them in, but they were too tight and didn’t allow his feet to spread as he ran.
 Note – Brooks seems to have addressed this concern with their new-for-2013 shoe – the Pure Drift
  • Weight of the Shoe – Who wants a heavy, clunky shoe?

Mens – 7.2 oz  Womens – 6.5 oz…it’s a light shoe

Next page – the review continues…

This Killer Leg Workout Will Have You Cryin’ For Yo’ Mama

I have a nasty little leg workout for you today. Simple but nasty.

  • Load a bar with half your body-weight (incl the bar weight)
  • Put it on your back
  • Squat all the way down – ass to ankles
  • Repeat for 100 reps
  • Complete all 100 reps as quickly as possible – 10 minute Maximum

killer leg workout

If you can complete this in under 5 minutes, you need to take it up a notch by not racking the bar at any time during the 100 reps of excruciating pain & nausea. You can rest whenever you want, but you have to keep standing with the bar on your back

If you’re up for the challenge, try to beat my time….

  • 135 lbs (I am weighing 248 right now, but it was easier to just load the bar with a 45 lb plate on either side)
  • 7 min 22 seconds
  • and I never rested the bar
have fun

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.

Does Ketone Drink = EZ Weight Loss?

Oxford researcher, Dr. Kieran Clarke has created a new type of ketone-based endurance drink designed to…

  • Generate significant weight loss
  • Improve mental alertness
  • Improve cognitive function

…as well as treat, prevent or reduce the effects of…

In short, this supplement MAY make you leaner, smarter, healthier, faster, stronger and less prone to diabetes, alzheimer’s, parkinson’s, huntington’s, heart disease and metabolic syndrome.

Note that I say MAY.

The science is all very new. According to Doc Clarke:

“We are very excited about our research, which we think shows great promise. Our primary interest so far has been to understand how the body’s metabolism responds and makes use of our ketone drink.

We are a long way yet from showing meaningful benefits as a treatment for disease or in aiding athletes’ endurance, and while we think it is possible that the ketone drink may have benefits in slowing Alzheimer’s progression, no one has done much research on this as yet…although this remains of great interest to us.”

How great an interest???

Great enough to apply for a US patent.

Can you imagine how much money Dr. Clarke will make if this product lives up to it’s potential?

The Science

  • Previous research indicates that a state of elevated ketones may improve physical and cognitive performance.
  • Unfortunately, direct administration of ketone bodies is unpractical and potentially dangerous
  • Fortunately, there are ketone precursors that might give her the same effect without any of the downsides.

On of those ketone precursors is  (R)-3-hydroxybutyl (R)-3-hydroxybutyrate, the ketone monoester that Dr. Clarke has been administering in the form of a meal replacement drink to her healthy human volunteers.

In one pilot study, eight adults with type 2 diabetes to see whether the drink produced any effect. The volunteers had three ketone drinks a day for five days and had their weight, cholesterol, and blood sugar monitored. Their weight dropped an average of nearly two per cent (in 5 days), as did their levels of glucose, cholesterol and fat in the blood.

In another study, Dr. Clarke gave 22 elite rowers the ketone drink and monitored the distances they achieved in 30 minutes on an indoor rowing machine.

One rower broke a world record and five others beat their personal best.

Conclusion

I am thoroughly geeked-up about the potential of this supplement.

Fingers crossed people.

Reference

Dumbbell Swings vs Kettlebell Swings

jlo-bootyKettlebell swings are one of my favorite posterior chain exercises.

  • I use it with athletes to increase running speed & power
  • I use it to improve pelvic balance & maximize core strength
  • and I use it to help skinny white ladies build a booty worthy of J-Lo

Unfortunately, not every gym has a full set of kettlebells to go along with all their dumbbells.

And seeing as my local gym was one of those gyms without any kettlebells…and I was sick and tired of substituting DBs for KBs all the time, I went searching for an option.

Enter the kettleclamp….. a really smart (and simple) piece of engineering that allows me to modify any dumbbell into a kettlebell.

To test it out, I brought a pair down to my local gym, grabbed one of my buddies, tossed him one of the clamps and told him that I needed a guinea-pig for a product-review video.

Here are the results.

Note – I wanted to test how user-friendly the kettleclamp was.

  • Was it easy to assemble?

Yes – for this experiment, I didn’t give my guinea-pig any instructions on how to assemble or work with the kettleclamp. The video we shot was his first try with the clamp – you can see how he fiddled with the pivoting handle before he went to work with it. 

  • Does it work like a “real” kettlebell?

For swings & cleans, it works exactly like a “real” kettlebell.

For snatches, we had a bit of an issue with lowering the kettleclamp from the overhead position back down to the hanging position. Due to the shape and size of the big-ass dumbbells we were using, we kept bashing our shoulders with the side of the dumbbell. Not a huge problem, but it forced us to modify our form a little bit.

Overall, the kettleclamp is a kick-ass piece of fitness equipment….and as soon as I can convince them to set up an affiliate program, you will be able to buy them via Health Habits.

meditation health healthhabits mental_health emotional_health

The Cure for Stress?

Life is stressful…for all of us.

Unfortunately for most of us, stressful events can cause an unconscious response in our “lizard-brains”…

amygdala

…leading to uncontrolled emotional states, anxiety, fear, depression, etc.

However, new research has uncovered how an eight-week beginners course in meditation can…

  1. Reduce activation in the right amygdala
  2. Improve your emotional stability
  3. Improve your response to stress

…which should lead to a calmer life, free of out-of-control emotions, fear, anxiety & depression.

And seeing as our lives don’t show any sign of slowing down & becoming more peaceful, this is some pretty important research.

The Science

The researchers studied the effect of two different styles of meditation.

  1. Mindful Attention Meditation
  2. Compassion Meditation
  • Three weeks prior to beginning the study, all participants participated in fMRI scans of their brains while “viewing a series of 108 different images of people in situations with either positive, negative or neutral emotional content”.

Meditation was not mentioned during this pre-experiment scanning session.

  • Three weeks after the scans, the participants were enrolled in one of two eight-week meditation courses – mindful attention meditation OR compassion meditation.
  • Three weeks after completing their meditation course, the participants returned for a follow-up fMRI scan.

As in the previous fMRI session, the participant viewed a a series of 108 different images of people in situations with either positive, negative or neutral emotional content while being scanned. Note – participants were not allowed to meditate during the scanning process.

Here’s what they found:

  • The mindful attention meditation group showed a decrease in activation in the right amygdala in response to all images – good, bad & neutral.
  • In the compassion meditation group, right amygdala activity also decreased in response to positive or neutral images
  • However, when negative images were shown to the compassion meditation group, right amygdala activity increased.

From these observations, the researchers concluded that:

  1. Both forms of meditation provide “enduring, beneficial changes in brain function, especially in the area of emotional processing.”
  2. “Since compassion meditation is designed to enhance compassionate feelings, it makes sense that it could increase amygdala response to seeing people suffer.
  3. Since increased amygdala activation was also correlated with decreased depression scores in the compassion meditation group, they believe that having more compassion towards others may also be beneficial for oneself.

Conclusion

  • To start getting the benefits of mindful meditation…the next time you find yourself with some spare time (waiting for the traffic light to change, sitting in the doctor’s office, riding in an elevator), focus on your breath…ignoring everything else…for just a few moments.

If you can do that…try extending the length of time…when you have the time.

  • And if you want to give compassion meditation a try (without signing up for a class), the next time you do a mindfulness meditation, try focusing on someone you love…and send out feelings of love out to them.

Kind of like a lot of us did as kids..

Reference

5 Ways to Jump Start Your Weight Loss

In the 12+ years I have been working as a personal trainer, I have met a lot of very smart, very successful people with a broad knowledge of weight loss tips, tricks & secrets….and yet most of them weren’t able to get the results they wanted.

And sometimes, the answer to their weight-loss problems was as simple as one little tweak.

Here are some of my favourite “tweaks” to jump start your weight loss.

Cleansing

Most people think that cleansing is all about…

  • starving yourself, and/or
  • drinking a mixture of lemon juice, maple syrup & hot sauce, and/or
  • shoving a colonic tube up your butt

WRONG.

In it’s essence, cleansing is all about…

  1. ignoring our taste buds for a SHORT period of time, and
  2. putting our Gastro-Intestinal tract in the spotlight for a SHORT period of time

And as un-fun as that sounds, your guts will thank you.

Without getting all alternative-health-y on you, just about every client of mine has seen health & weight-loss improvements via the occasional use of cleansing protocols.

HIIT

The beauty of HIIT training is that you don’t need to mess with your usual routine to reap the benefits.

For example, I worked with a cyclist a couple of years ago who was interested in increasing his power. Unfortunately, he and his coach weren’t willing to cut back on his high-volume cycling regimen. So, I integrated a series of HIIT sprints into his cycling program.

And while we weren’t able to test his strength improvements in the gym as I usually do, he did see a vast improvement in performance and a perceived improvement in power when race season began.

Nutrient Cycling

There are many different ways to cycle nutrients to maximize recovery from exercise and encourage fat loss. This is my favorite method:

  1. Simple carbs during workouts – Gatorade, Fruit Juice, etc.
  2. “Fill you up” carbs post workout – starchy veg, grains, etc.
  3. Crunchy carbs & greens the rest of the day – spinach, broccoli, etc.

The idea behind this plan is to manipulate insulin secretion to minimize fat storage and maximize muscle recovery via the re-filling of muscle cells with blood sugar & micronutrients.

Eat Dinner Like A King

This sounds counter-intuitive to common sense…and it is..sort of.

Normally, I advise clients against eating a big dinner because their day is winding down and that big blob of dinner calories is going to get stored as fat while they watch tv and drift off to sleep.

However, with this dietary tweak…

  • I ask them to have a medium sized breakfast made up of protein & fat foods with next to no carbs (ex scrambled eggs & peppers)
  • I ask them to have a small lunch consisting of protein & fat foods with next to no carbs (ex Greek salad with 1/2 chicken breast)

NOTEThis plans works best with people who are busy throughout the day. We’re trying to take advantage of the appetite killing effect of a busy work-day.

At the end of their work-day and before they eat dinner, I ask them to exercise. It might be a trip to the weight room or a group exercise class or 20 minutes of swimming or even a 10 min session of HIIT bike sprints.

After the workout, they get to eat a nice big satisfying dinner consisting of whatever foods they want. This big meal results in a ton of pleasurable brain chemicals and related hormones being dumped into the body…resulting in emotional pleasure and no sense of dietary deprivation.

 Have an Open Mind

There is a Chinese proverb that states “a closed mind is like a closed book; just a block of wood”.

And when I look at the mainstream approaches to weight loss, I see a whole lot of closed minds recycling the same old inefficient weight loss techniques year after year after year… with little real-world success.

What I want you to do is come at your weight-loss with an open mind.

  • Think of yourself as a really small-scale science experiment.
  • Stop repeating the same old weight-loss techniques that have failed you in the past.
  • Try something new for a month or two
  • Evaluate it
  • If it’s not working…dump it
  • Try something else…until you find something that works.

And if you still can’t find something that works, come back to Health Habits. I have lots more weight-loss tips & tricks to jump start your weight loss.

Jump Start Your Weight Loss
Be like water my friend…like water

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Get Fit & Lose Weight – Emotional Jeet Kune Do

Every day I help clients discover & push the buttons that they need to push…. if they are going to…

  1. Get the exercise their body needs
  2. Eat the food their body needs
  3. Think the thoughts they need to think and
  4. Feel the feelings they need to feel

…in order to become the healthiest, fittest, sexiest, most awesomest selves they can possibly be.

Here’s an example of the plan I used to help one of my clients lose 185 lbs over the past two years.

  • 319lbs – 185 lbs = 134 lbs

Small carb-free meals for breakfast and lunch

For example, breakfast would be 3 scrambled eggs with butter AND lunch would be a small Greek salad with feta, olives, lettuce & tomatoes – no dressing.

My reasoning behind this approach was that she was a busy executive and was very, very busy throughout the day. The combination of a busy day and not being around food made it “easy” to focus on work and forget about food.

It took a few weeks for “easy” to become easy. She hated me a little bit at first.

Large Paleo meal at dinner after her evening workout

1 big plate full of paleo-friendly food after her workout. That means loads of veggies and a good sized piece of animal protein. She was also allowed to have a piece of fruit for dinner. One of her favorites was the sauteed apples I posted about here.

She was full after dinner every single night.

Supplements

  • 1 tbsp of fish oil every morning
  • Probiotics with breakfast
  • Digestive enzymes with each meal
  • Multi-vitamin and minerals
  • Workout energy drink – I had her use Scivation Xtend

Emotional Jeet Kune Do

My client is a very, very smart woman. And very self aware. So when I told her that she WOULD transform her body into something even more awesome than what she was asking for…she told me that I was full of shit. Literally…she told me I was full of shit.

And after I finished laughing my ass off…I explained to her that over the 20+ years I have been training people, I have learned two things:

  1. Massive physical change is theoretically possible for just about everyone
  2. I am really, really good at making the theoretical happen

And to make the theoretical come true, I employ a system of emotional Jeet Kune Do on my clients. And like Bruce Lee, my emotional Jeet Kune Do is a style with no style.

This means that since we’re all unique creatures with our own individual thoughts, feeling, emotions and peculiarities…there is no fitness/diet plan that will produce awesome results for all of us.

We all have our own unique buttons that need to be pushed to get us to break and replace our bad habits.

And in her case, I asked her to lie to herself.

  • First, I asked her to imagine herself as a total freak of nature…super healthy, super fit, super sexy, etc…
  • Second, I asked for her reaction to this visual picture
  • She came back with another “you’re full of shit” comment
  • After which, I went into my spiel  about being good at making transforming people and that I truly 100% believed that we can make this change with her body. And that the biggest impediment was that she didn’t believe me.

Here’s where the Jeet Kune Do comes in.

  • I asked her to start lying to herself

Whenever she doubted my plan…or her ability to not eat ice cream…or that she would ever have a butt you could bounce quarters off of…I wanted her to:

  1.  Accept her doubts (past history + emotions will not be ignored or minimized)
  2. Get angry and tell the doubts to “Fuck Off…because  she’s going to do exactly what those doubts say she can’t”

And the reason I think this worked for her is because in her business career she has been faced many times with people, boards, companies & governments who told her that she couldn’t do what she wanted to do.

And most of the time, she responded by getting angry, getting to work and kicking their asses (after telling them to fuck off…inside her head)

The essence of emotional Jeet Kune Do is to search for your buttons…not your friend’s buttons, or the fitness guru’s buttons…YOUR BUTTONS.

Feel Great with Micro Workouts

What is your typical day like?

  1. Relaxed, fulfilling and full of moments where you nourish your body, mind & spirit
  2. Stressed, fast paced, hectic and hurried

If you said #1…congratulations…and stop reading

If you said #2…you really, really need to take the next 60 seconds and learn about micro workouts.

Jumping_Jack

 

What are Micro Workouts?

  • short bursts of fairly intense exercise…lasting between 30-120 seconds.

What can Micro Workouts do for ME?

  • Micro workouts can give you the mood-improving effects outlined in the articles referenced below.

But I already go to the gym three times per week

  • That’s great, but what happens when the mood-improving effect of yesterday’s workout wears off? Micro workouts take very little time and provides mood-boosting results immediately….when you need them.

What do I do?

  • Micro workouts are short in duration – 30-120 seconds
  • Micro workouts are fairly high in intensity
  • Micro workouts require lots of muscle to be involved – no bicep curls

Examples please….

  • Jumping Jacks (fast paced) for 30 seconds…rest 30 seconds…Jumping Jacks for 30 seconds…rest 30 seconds
  • Bodyweight squats for 60 seconds
  • Push-Ups for 20 seconds…rest 20 seconds…push-ups 20 seconds….
  • Racing up a flight of stairs…rest…race up another flight..rest….

We’re not trying to get a “real” workout here…we’re just trying to break up your stressed out thought patterns with a burst of physical activity and activate your natural  mood-boosting hormone production

While this technique has been used with a number of different mood disorders, you should probably consider talking to a mental health professional if you’re having problems coping with this crazy world we live on.

Reference

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Stop Heart Disease with HIIT?

  • HIIT workouts are great for fat loss
  • HIIT workouts save your time
  • HIIT workouts are way more fun than slogging away the miles on a treadmill
  • HIIT workouts make you fitter faster

But…they sometimes scare the crap out of newbies….who wonder if such high intensity workouts are going to cause their de-conditioned hearts to explode inside their chest cavities.

And since I am not a cutting-edge cardiologist, I find it best to check with the experts before shooting my mouth off about the awesomeness of HIIT.

Luckily for us, some of the big brains at the Montreal Heart Institute have just published another study extolling the virtues of HIIT workouts for the rehabilitation of their patients with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction.

In this study, they compared the circulatory (hemodynamic) respones to:

  1. a 8 min HIIT workout
  2. 22 minute moderate-intensity continuous exercise (aka cardio) style of workout

Their findings?

  1. The HIIT workout was well tolerated by the test subjects and produced no significant ventricular arrhythmias and (or) abnormal blood pressure responses
  2. Compared with the cardio workout, the HIIT workout produced a similar circulatory response (blood pressure, stroke volume, etc) to the cardio workout
  3. Both workouts also produced similar C(a-v)O2 responses. This is a measurement of how much oxygen is absorbed from the arteries into the rest of the body.

Their Conclusion

HIIT may be an efficient exercise training modality in patients with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction.

What does this mean to you?

If the leading edge cardio researchers are looking at HIIT as an effective treatment for HEART DISEASE patients, then it might just be good for you too.

Reference

HIIT kicks even more ass

I love HIIT workouts.

  • Short duration
  • High intensity
  • Increased fat loss thanks to EPOC
  • Improved anaerobic endurance
  • Improved muscular power
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Honorary BADASS certification

And if that wasn’t enough, it also turns out that HIIT is good for your overall health.

HIIT - before and after - fat to fit

 

Here’s the latest scientific proof.

Researchers at the University of Glasgow took 10 overweight/obese men and subjected them to three different fitness protocols:

  1. Sitting on their ass…aka the couch potato workout
  2. 4 x 30 second full-intensity sprints with 4.5 minute rest periods (HIIT workout)
  3. A single full-intensity sprint (ES – Extended Sprint workout) designed to be equal to the work done during the HIIT workout.

The day after doing these workouts, the participants…

  • had a fasting blood sample taken,
  • undertook an oral glucose tolerance test to determine insulin sensitivity index (ISI),
  • and had blood pressure measured.

Here’s what they found….

  • Total work performed did not differ between the HIIT & ES workouts
  • More power was generated during the HIIT workouts than during the ES workouts
  • Both the HIIT & ES workouts resulted in increased Insulin Sensitivity compared to the control group
  • The HIIT group saw a 63% increase in fat oxidation compared to the control group
  • The ES group saw a 38% increase in fat oxidation compared to the control group

And just in case you weren’t aware, increased insulin sensitivity & fat oxidation is exactly what our obese / diabetic society is in dire need of.

And this was after just one workout…imagine how much better things will look after 52 weeks of High Intensity workouts.

Reference

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HIIT is Good for Your Heart

For decades, doctors have been telling their obese & out-of-shape patients that they need to do long, slow & boring cardio workouts if they want to lose weight and get healthy.

Luckily, science is finally catching up to the awesome health-improving aspects of HIIT workouts.

In a study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers concluded that a 6 week program of both moderate (10 s work : 20 s rest) and heavy (30 s work : 60 s rest) intensity interval training…

  • Reduced Carotid Arterial Stiffness in both groups
  • Improved Heart Rate Dynamics in both groups
  • Improved VO2 Max in the HEDIT group only
  • Improved Lactate Threshold in both groups

 

hiit-stats

Conclusions

  1. HIIT workouts are good for your heart
  2. This study is only scratching the surface of HIIT research. Besides the limitations of such a small study, the conclusions probably raise more questions than they answer – but since that’s the nature of good science, I am cool with that.
  3. The researchers believe that the HEDIT group (30 s work : 60 s rest) saw improvements due to “mitochondrial biogenesis while the MEDIT (10 s work : 20 s rest) duty cycle induced a vascular stimulus, but had little impact on mitochondrial proliferation”.

Reference

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Get Ripped, Get Huge ASAP

The Holy Grail of Bodybuilding

  1. Get ripped…
  2. while packing on slabs of muscle…
  3. in a short time frame….
  4. without drugs.

And here’s how we’re going to do it.

andreas-munzer-ripped

NUTRITION

Calories

Between 10 – 12 calories per pound of Lean Body Mass (LBM)

  • LBM = your total weight – body-fat weight

Example

  • a 220 lb man with 20% BF has an LBM of 176 lbs
  • An LBM of 176 = a range of 1760 to 2112 calories per day

Peri-Workout Nutrition

Drink a serving of Gaspari Nutrition’s Size On Max Performance during the course of your workout.

  • Creatine + whey protein hydrosylate + leucine + carbohydrates + some other “stuff” = my favorite workout drink.  (180 calories)

Post-Workout Nutrition

  • Whey Isolate protein shake – water, 2 scoops of  protein, shake, chug – (200 – 260 calories of muscle re-building-ness)

[box type=”note”]If you’re finding that you’re not gaining or shudder…losing some muscle mass on this plan, I want you to add extra carbs to this shake – fruit, sweeteners, whatever Take the calories away from the carbs you eat during the rest of the day[/box]

Rest of the Day Nutrition

In addition to the workout supplements, I recommend 2 tbsps of fish oil to be taken each day. Personally, I take 1 tbsp in the morning and the second spoonful before I go to bed.

Next, we need to subtract the supplement calories from the daily allowance…

  • Fish Oil (240 cal)
  • Size On (180 cal)
  • Whey Protein shake (200 – 260 cal)
  • Total – 620-680 calories

This leaves our test subject with between 1080 and 1492 calories for the rest of the day

Here’s how he’s going to get those calories

  • 1/2 will come from carb-free Protein sources – eggs, beef, chicken, fish, etc…
  • 1/2 will come from the approved vegetable list

If you need to use fat to prepare your meals, subtract those calories from your protein sources

Approved Vegetable List

  • Leafy, green, salad-type vegetables – Amaranth, Arugula, Beet greens, Bok choy, Broccoli Rabe, Borage greens, Brussels sprout, Cabbage, Catsear, Celery, Celtuce, Ceylon spinach, Chaya, Chickweed, Chicory, Chinese Mallow, Chrysanthemum leaves, Collard greens, Corn salad, Cress, Dandelion, Endive, Fat hen, Fiddlehead, Fluted pumpkin, Garden Rocket, Kale, Komatsuna, Kuka, Lagos bologi, Lamb’s lettuce, Land cress, Lettuce, Lizard’s tail, Melokhia, Miner’s Lettuce, Mizuna greens, Mustard, Napa cabbage, New Zealand Spinach, Orache, Pak choy, Paracress, Poke, Radicchio, Sea beet, Sea kale, Sierra Leone bologi, Soko, Sorrel, Spinach, Summer purslane, Swiss chard, Tatsoi, Turnip greens, Watercress, Water spinach, Winter purslane and Yarrow
  • Flowers and flower buds – Artichoke, Broccoli, Caper, Cauliflower, Courgette flowers and Squash blossoms
  • Bulb and stem vegetables – Asparagus, Cardoon, Celeriac, Celery, Elephant Garlic, Florence fennel, Garlic, Kohlrabi, Leek, Kurrat, Lotus root, Nopal, Onion, Pearl onion, Prussian asparagus, Spring Onion/Scallion, Shallot, Welsh onion and Wild leek
  • Root and tuberous vegetables – Bamboo shoot, Beetroot, Burdock, Broadleaf arrowhead, Camas, Canna, Carrot, Cassava, Chinese artichoke, Daikon, Elephant Foot yam, Ensete, Ginger, Hamburg parsley, Horseradish, Jerusalem artichoke, Jícama, Mashua, Parsnip, Pignut, Prairie turnip, Radish, Rutabaga, Salsify, Scorzonera, Skirret, Swede, Sweet Potato or Kumara, Taro, Ti, Tigernut, Turnip, Ulluco, Water chestnut, Yacón and Yam
  • Sea vegetables – Aonori, Carola, Dabberlocks or badderlocks, Dulse or dillisk, Hijiki, Kombu, Laver, Mozuku, Nori, Ogonori, Sea grape, Sea kale, Sea lettuce and Wakame
  • Other Vegetables/ Fruits – Bell pepper, Bitter melon/Bitter gourd, Chayote, Courgette, Cucumber, Ivy Gourd, Eggplant/Aubergine/Brinjal, Luffa, Pumpkin, Squash, Sweet pepper (Capsicum), Tinda, Tomatillo, Tomato and Winter melon
Approved Supplementary Fats
  • Avocado oil, bacon fat, butter, coconut oil, ghee, lard, tallow, nut butters, walnut oil, macadamia oil, and olive oil (over salads & veg only – don’t cook with olive oil)

TRAINING

This series of workouts will pile on muscle mass faster than a big tub of steroids.

.Reference

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Best Body Workout – 2012 – Week 32 – Day 3

Last Best Body workout of the week…

WORKOUT WARM-UP

Circles – Starting with the ankles and moving all the way. up to your neck, gently make circles with all of your joints – 10 revolutions each joint in each direction

Dead Bug – Push your lower back into the floor and articulate your arms & legs as in the video. 1 set of as many reps as possible with your lower back pushed into the floor. When your back starts to arch…STOP

1 Arm Swing Snatch – 25 reps per arm  – Dumbbell or kettlebell – choose a light weight – the goal is to warm-up

THE WORKOUT

Superset #1 – Hip Thrust / Romanian Deadlift & McGill Crunch

Technique: Medium Rep Super-Sets combined with very short rest periods

  • For this S/S, I prefer Hip Thrusts to Romanian DLs, but it’s your choice
  • For the Crunches – try to hold the crunch position for a second on each rep to make the most of the lower # of reps
  • Hip Thrust #1 – 20 reps
  • McGill Crunch  #1 – 20 reps
  • Hip Thrust #2 – 15 reps
  • McGill Crunch  #2 – 15 reps
  • Hip Thrust #3 – 12 reps
  • McGill Crunch #3 – 12 reps
  • Hip Thrust  #4 – 10 reps
  • McGill Crunch  #4 – 10 reps
  • Hip Thrust #5 – 10 reps
  • McGill Crunch #5 – 10 reps
  • Hip Thrust #6 – 10 reps
  • McGill Crunch #6 – 10 reps

Keep rest periods as short as possible – Let your breathing & heart rate be your guide for when to start the next set…with the goal being to move between exercises with no rest

Superset #2 – Side Delt Lateral Raise & 2 Arm Bicep Curls

Technique: Medium Rep Super-Sets combined with very short rest periods

  • You can use bands, DBs, KBs for both lifts
  • Choose a weight that is appropriate for the first set – 15 reps – It should be hard to complete this set with good form
  • Stick with this weight for sets 2-4
  • Laterals #1 – 15 reps
  • Bicep Curls  #1 – 15 reps
  • Laterals #2 – 12 reps
  • Bicep Curls  #2 – 12 reps
  • Laterals #3 – 10 reps
  • Bicep Curls  #3 – 10 reps
  • Laterals #4 – 7 reps
  • Bicep Curls  #4 – 7 reps

Superset #3 – Bulgarian Split Squat  & Rear Delt Lateral Raise

Technique: Medium Rep Super-Sets combined with very short rest periods

  • Bulgarians can be performed wit Body-Weight only or with a weight vest, barbell or DBs
  • Rear Delt Laterals can be performed lying face down on bench, seated on bench or free-standing
  • Choose a weight that is appropriate for the first set – 15 reps – It should be hard to complete this set with good form
  • Stick with this weight for sets 2-4
  • Bulgarians #1 – 15 reps
  • Rear Delt Laterals  #1 – 15 reps
  • Bulgarians #2 – 12 reps
  • Rear Delt Laterals  #2 – 12 reps
  • Bulgarians #3 – 10 reps
  • Rear Delt Laterals #3 – 10 reps
  • Bulgarians #4 – 7 reps
  • Rear Delt Laterals  #4 – 7 reps

Superset #4 – Air Squats & Stir The Pots

Technique: As Many Reps As Possible in 5 minutes….same as last week

  • Air Squats – 40 reps max per set
  • Stir the Pots – 10 reps per direction max per set

Do as many sets as possible in 5 min – if you need a time, get a Gymboss

Okay, that’s it for the sweaty stuff. Go spend 20 minutes stretching muscles and mobilizing joints – foam rollers, lacrosse balls, etc…

Tomorrow and Sunday… do some low intensity stuff

Say Bye Bye to Sore Muscles

As a personal trainer, keeping my clients pain-free is very, very, very important.

In addition to muscular pain brought on by sitting in front of a computer, talking on the phone, watching tv, etc… weight-training clients are prone to muscular tension as part of the natural workout recovery pathways.

Because of this, I am constantly trying out new methods of preventing stiff and sore muscles

  • Therapy Rollers
  • Electronic Muscle Stimulators
  • Manual & Electrical Massagers
  • Creams
  • Mineral Bath Soaks
  • And all sorts of different physical therapists
And my all-time favorite (as of Sept 2012) are these beauties…
1. The Adjustable MyoRoller
The Myo Roller

2. and the TPRPal….

Trigger Point Release Pal

… from MyoTools.

Incredibly simple… and incredibly smart.

For example, when I am trying to loosen up sore muscles in my back, I position the two closed cell foam balls of the Myo Roller so that they are on either side of my spine…focusing all the force onto the paraspinal muscles themselves. Foam rollers can’t do this. Lacrosse balls can’t do this. Back knobbers can’t do this.

And when I want to roll out my tight IT bands, I push the two balls together to provide a wider rolling surface. Instant foam roller.

It’s also brilliant for loosening up the sub-occiptital neck muscles that are responsible for a majority of tension headaches.

LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT!!!

Regarding the TPR Pal, I use it to…

  • work into all the little nooks and crannies in my upper back as well as…
  • using it to break up myofascial knots in my upper pecs
  • I also use it on the soles of my feet to prevent plantar fasciitis

But my favorite use for the TPR Pal is when my wife uses it to give me a massage. Holding the foam side in her hand, she can use the wooden knob to press deep into the muscle tissue without putting any force on her fingers/thumbs. A quick 5 minute massage turns into an awesome 30 minute knot-busting massage session

And when you consider that the Roller costs $20 and 4 TPR Pals (diff size knobs) cost $15, it really is a no-brainer.

Note – As a small-business person, I love the fact that all of these tools are made by hand by the owner of the company…just as soon as you place your order.

He also has a bunch of other cool therapy tools and I am going to place an order for Myo-Vise Body Clamp soon.

The Secret of Bruce Lee’s One Inch Punch

Bruce Lee accomplished some amazing accomplishments in his short life. One of his most impressive physical feats was his super-powerful one inch punch.

How the heck did he do that?

According to British researchers, it was Mr. Lee’s over-developed cerebellums and primary motor cortex that allowed him to coordinate his body movements to deliver maximum force.

The Science

Previous studies have shown that the forces generated in a karate punch is not determined by muscular strength but by the brain & nervous system, Unfortunately, up until now, they had no idea what parts of the nervous system were responsible for making Bruce Lee a super-freak.

In this recent study, researchers looked for differences in brain structure between 12 karate practitioners with a black belt rank and an average of 13.8 years’ karate experience, and 12 control subjects of similar age who exercised regularly but did not have any martial arts experience.

In the first part of the study, the researchers measure the short range (5 cm) punching power of all 24 test subjects by means of infrared markers on their arms & torsos. As expected, the karate masters punched harder than the control subjects.

Analysis of punch biomechanics and brain function revealed the reasons for the difference in punching power.

  • The researchers found that punching power depends on timing.
  • Specifically, punching force correlated with how well the movement of the wrists and shoulders were synchronized.
  • In short, technique + muscular power = Bruce Lee kicking your butt.
  • To test brain function, they used diffusion tensor imaging to scan the grey matter (main body of nerve cells) and white matter (bundles of fibres that carry signals from one region of the brain to another) of the test subjects’ brains.

And what they found is that there was major structural differences in the white matter of the cerebellums and primary motor cortex of the karate masters.

It was these differences in the cerebellum that correlated with the synchronicity of the subjects’ wrist and shoulder movements that produced the larger punching forces.

The karate black belts were able to repeatedly coordinate their punching action with a level of coordination that novices can’t produce. We think that ability might be related to fine tuning of neural connections in the cerebellum, allowing them to synchronise their arm and trunk movements very accurately.

We’re only just beginning to understand the relationship between brain structure and behaviour, but our findings are consistent with earlier research showing that the cerebellum plays a critical role in our ability to produce complex, coordinated movements.

So there you go…your nervous system is what’s going to separate your athletic performance from that of the average gym rat.

And that’s why nervous system function is one of the linchpins of all my training programs.

Reference

Best Body Workout – 2012 – Week 28 – Day 3

It’s Week #2 – Day #3 – same workout theories….

  • Short, intense workouts
  • a little Tabata
  • a little HIRT
  • and a ton of sweat

Enjoy

WORKOUT WARM-UP

Circles – Starting with the ankles and moving all the way. up to your neck, gently make circles with all of your joints – 10 revolutions each joint in each direction

Dead Bug – Push your lower back into the floor and articulate your arms & legs as in the video. 1 set of as many reps as possible with your lower back pushed into the floor. When your back starts to arch…STOP

1 Arm Swing Snatch – 25 reps per arm  – Dumbbell or kettlebell – choose a light weight – the goal is to warm-up

THE WORKOUT

Superset #1 – Pull Ups or Palms Away Pulldowns & 2 Leg Bodyweight Squats

Technique: Tabata – 4 min total, consisting of 8 x 20 sec. work sets + 8 x 10 sec. rest sets

  • Any version of Pull Ups (palms away) or Pulldowns is okay with me… as long as you’re doing the hardest version possible for YOU
  • 20 seconds Pull Ups, rest 10 sec, 20 seconds Squats, rest 10…..

Superset #2 – McGill Crunch & Single Leg Hip Thrust

Technique: 4 min – As Many Reps As Possible (AMRAP)

  • Alternate between exercises
  • 10 reps max per set
  • Keep rest periods as short as possible – keep moving between exercises QUICKLY

Superset #3 – 2 Arm Bodyweight Row & Push Ups

Technique: 4 min – AMRAP

  • Alternate between exercises
  • Max 10 reps per set
  • Keep rest periods as short as possible – keep moving between exercises

Superset #4 – Shuffle Lunge

Technique: Tabata – 4 min total, consisting of 8 x 20 sec. work sets + 8 x 10 sec. rest sets

Okay, that’s it for the sweaty stuff. Go spend 20 minutes stretching muscles and mobilizing joints – foam rollers, lacrosse balls, etc…

Tomorrow, I want you to do some HIIT sprints

  • 20 min total
  • 10 second sprints
  • As many sprints as possible in 20 min

Sunday…take the day off.

Say Yes to Fitism

Last night on the news, I listened to stories about socialism, racism, creationism, nationalism, and multiculturalism.

How come we never hear about…

Fitism:  the doctrine that fitness and the fit lifestyle are awesome and important. “his fitism allowed him to look great naked”

The #1 reason why people diet and go to the gym