Some Benefits To Working With A Personal Trainer

Hiring a personal trainer may be one of the best decisions you can make. There are more ways than just hiring a trainer for 1 on 1 training. Being in the industry for 9 years, I have noticed that many people want to work out, but they are not sure how to go about it. There are a lot of little things you should know before working out on your own. Working with a professional personal trainer leaves no room for worry because they carry the knowledge you need to achieve your physical results.

If it does not sound affordable when the thought crosses your mind, that is a big misconception. First, you should take a moment and think about what you are able to afford monthly for your health. Think about that $ 4.00 coffee you buy every day, or that $ 10 you spend instead of packing a lunch – it adds up! Investing into a trainer will teach you necessary lifting techniques and will make you feel better afterwards!

Having a personal trainer not only provides safety but it provides a crystal clear road to achieving your goals the right way! Having a proper exercise program and nutrition plan from the beginning saves you a lot of time from being wasted and provides results much quicker. There are many types of trainers out there that specialize in certain areas such as training you for a 5k, sculpting your body, bodybuilding, or getting a six pack. You should always hire a trainer that specializes in what you want for optimal results.

Training with a personal trainer does not always mean it has to be a one on one session, try training with a friend or family member to cut the price in half and still get that individualized attention. Many places offer semi-private personal training and boot camp training as well. Having that accountability is also a great push. You will be much less likely to make excuses not to train when someone is waiting for you to show up! It also can be a helpful reminder of why you are training. You will not become unmotivated because you will have someone with you while you work out, motivating you along the way.

Working with a personal trainer on your side also helps you to get into a great daily regimen. Being in the industry for years I've seen a lot of people begin a new exercise program on their own. Most of the time it does not last long enough to create a habit. Having that set appointment and doing the same thing for 3 months will create a healthy and happy habit. Take advantage of the fact you will be working with a fitness professional and gain as much knowledge from them as you can. Learn new skills and exercises so you are not dependent on your trainer forever. Occasionally you will build enough strength and gain enough knowledge to work out on your own.

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How About I Starve It Off?

Weight (fat) loss can be achieved many ways. You can starve yourself and make what may appear to be worth progress. However, the weight you are losing will be a combination of fat, muscle, bone, and of course, water. When the extreme diet fails, as most do, the weight gained back will be made up of a larger percentage of fat, and a less amount of muscle and bone. You'll weigh about the same as you did before dieting, but, you'll be fatter and weaker. You'll also be the owner of a slower metabolism and a less attractive body. You will not perform as well, and, (here comes the really bad news) you'll have to eat less or move more if you want to even keep this “new” you!

In her book Strong Women Stay Slim , Miriam E. Nelson, Ph.D. states that “When women diet, at least 25 to 30 percent of the weight they shed is not fat, but water, muscle, bone, and other lean tissue.” Nelson conducted a study in which 10 overweight women were put on individually customized food plans designed for slow but steady weight loss. Half of them were put on a program of twice weekly supervised strength training; the other half just followed the diet. The diet only group lost an average of 13 lbs during the study. The strength training group lost 13.2 lbs. However, when the researchers looked at body composition (fat%) they found that the diet only women lost 2.8 lbs of muscle! The strength training group gained 1.4 lbs of lean muscle! Every pound they lost was fat, and when the muscle gain was factored in, their total fat loss was 14.6 lbs vs. 10.2 lbs for the dieters.

Plan B, Aerobicise

I know that's not a word, but people do it anyway. Attempt to lose their fat weight by performing vast amounts of aerobic exercise. The good news, they may lose weight. The bad news, they'll suffer a similar fate to that of the extreme dieters and sometimes a few musculoskeletal issues along the way.

Drugs, Surgery?

Yes, there are some drastic or life threatening situations where drugs or surgery may be necessary. However, it's my opinion that people turn to these far too early.

So, Tell Me Something I Do not Know. (Or tell me the same thing again)

OK, I will. MUSCLE! You need more of it.

If you want to lose fat, firm up, feel better, perform better, be healthier, and continue doing and being like that, you must add lean muscle to your body.

You can in effect grow younger. You can avoid the risks, side effects, and potential injuries of extreme dieting, excess aerobics, and unnecessary use of drugs or surgery. You can …

Strength Train

What can strength training do that extreme dieting and aerobic activity can not? It can help you build a faster metabolism as opposed to decreasing the one you now have. Strength training builds lean muscle. The more lean muscle you have, the more calories you burn, not just while you're exercising, but all day long! Think of muscle as your engine. Whether sitting at a stop light or racing flat out, a larger engine burns more fuel (all things being equal), and your fuel is calories! The one difference being that an engine is not burning fuel when it's turned off … you are.

In a recent study, researchers at Southern Illinois University found that exercisers who did a 15-minute strength training routine burned 100 extra calories a day for three days afterward. Think about that for a moment. If you work out twice a week at an appropriate intensity level, you'll be burning an additional 600 calories per week. That's somewhere in the neighborhood of 31,000 calories a year. It's also safe to say that properly performed; the workouts themselves should burn 150 calories or more. That's another 15,000 or so. So, in terms of return on your investment, you're exercising 24 hours a year (if you never miss a session), and burning 46,000 calories. Now I understand this is very much simplified and there are myriad other factors that go into fat loss, but, that adds up to (at 3500 calories in a pound of fat) around 13 lbs of fat lost as a result of 24 hours of proper exercise.

ROI

If you're looking to lose fat, look better, feel better, perform better, just plain be healthier, strength training along with other sensible lifestyle configurations will give you the greatest return on your investment.

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What Is High Intensity Interval Training?

If you've ever busted your butt in a bootcamp or crossfit style workout you're already familiar with HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training. It's a knock out, drag down, push till you puke kinda workout if I'm being honest. While it looks to be a favorite fat burning workout of choice of many personal trainers, it has a lot of merits other than just making you sweat! If you have no idea what I'm talking about and still asking “what is high intensity interval training” then let's start from the beginning.

HIIT is also referred to as high intensity intermittent exercise or even sprint interval training. By definition it is a workout strategy when one alternates short intense segments of anaerobic exercise with less intense and active recovery periods. In comparison, most endurance workouts like rowing, stair-climbing or running keep your heart rate and exertion level at a moderate intensity.

What are the benefits of High Intensity Interval Training?
Well away from the cardiovascular benefits, it's one of the most effective fat burning workouts you can do! HIIT workouts tend to decrease fasting insulin and increase insulin sensitivity which is related to that nasty belly fat or (subcutaneous fat) that we all want to get rid of!

What does a HIIT workout consist of?
Generally speaking the high intensity part of the workout is sustained for anywhere from 30 seconds to a couple of minutes. I say generally because there is no exact definition, but the higher the intensity the shorter the speed. The recovery part of the interval training is usually equal to the “intense” part. HIIT workouts can also incorporate weights or just simply using your own body weight. Most bootcamp or crossfit workouts follow this type of interval training. (so you might want to grab a pair of crossfit gloves to protect your hands)

What is a sample High Intensity Interval Training Workout look like?
It can really be as simple as a combination of Sprints and recovery periods – which most people may be familiar with from their personal training sessions. If you're still asking “what is high intensity interval training” get off your bum and try this:

60 second sprint or fast jog followed by
60 second slow jog or walk

Now do that a couple more times without rest and voila … you're now a fan of a HIIT workout! Regardless of what exercises the workout itself involves it is sure to be your go to workout for retaining up and stripping off that last pesky 10 pounds!

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Great Crunch Free Ab Exercises for 6 Pack Abs

While the traditional sit-up or crunch definitely can help you achieve 6 pack abs, doing 100s of them is not just boring, it may not be as effective as mixing it up! The key is to train your core with a variety of different ab exercises. These four crunch free ab exercises will give you those washboard abs and make you feel more flexible and agile during your other exercises at the gym!

  1. Split Leg-Arm Raises – Start by lying on your back with your arms and legs straight into the air. Lower your right arm back by your head and your left leg towards the floor at the same time until they are resting about three inches from the ground, then slowly return to your starting position. When performing the move, your head, neck, and shoulders should not lift up off the ground! If you feel your abs contracting around your belt line, then you are doing them right. Perform 20 reps on each side.
  2. Split Leg-Arm Reach – Get on your hands and knees with your legs and arms perpendicular to the floor. Extend your left arm and right leg at the same time until they are parallel to the floor. Keep a straight line from your arm to your leg and slowly lower to the starting position and repeat! If done correctly, you will feel it in your abs, hamstrings, and glutes. Do 20 reps on each side.
  3. Kettlebell Carry – One of the best crunch free ab exercises , the Kettlebell carry may not even have been on your list! Begin by standing straight up holding a 50-80 pound kettlebell by your side with your arm straight. Do not lean your body towards the weight but contact your abs to keep a straight posture. Walk forward about 40 yards while breathing deeply while contracting your abs. Try to walk as you would normally walk. Then switch arms and walk another 40 yards on for the other side. If the kelltebell is banging into your legs, you need to use a lighter weight. This move targets your obliques. Do each side for about 100 yards.
  4. Crawlers – Get on your hands and knees on the floor. Stare straight ahead and lift your knees off the ground while keeping your head up. Begin to crawl forward on your hands and feet while using your core to stabilize the movement. Your hops should stay low to the ground and your knees bent and pointed outward. Walk up to about 100 yards without stopping.

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Train Your Core to Get 6 Pack Abs

Who does not want to get 6 Pack Abs? The key is to train all your core muscles with a variation of exercises. So how does your core strength measure up? Most people only focus on training abdominal muscles to get those elusive 6 pack abs although it really involves training your entire core. This means knowing how to train your entire core from obliques to inspectors! These five exercises below will drastically improve your overall core strength in near no time and hopefully put you on your way to getting 6 pack abs!

Nearly every trainer and gym goer does some form of core training that typically is just the abdominal muscles. However if you want to get 6 pack abs, its time to wake up and realize that your core is made up of much more more than just your abdominal muscles. Let's learn about your core muscle groups before we continue to get 6 pack abs:

Internal and external obliques – these two muscle groups run from your ribs to your hips.

Transverses abdominis – this muscle group is underneath your obliques and is a MAJOR part of your core.

Rectus abdominus – More commonly referred to as 'abs,' this is the wall of muscle that runs from your chest bone to your pelvis.

Erector Spinae – This muscle group is located on your back and runs along the vertebral column.

In a nutshell, if you want great core strength, you must work more than your abdominal muscles. Follow the below core workout twice a week with at least two days rest in between sessions.

Begin with planks! You will be performing the kind where your feet will rest elevated on a bench for maximum results. Tuck your forearms under your chest and hold your body weight up for 60 seconds. Try to perform 3-4 sets.

Moving on to sit ups to get 6 pack abs ! You should be used to doing these, perform as many as you can for 60 seconds. Perform 3-4 sets.

Hypervextension is the next exercise that requires you to use the hyperextensions machine. Bend at the wait and keep your back straight and slowly lower your upper body down until its about 90 degrees to the floor. Slowly raise your upper body to the starting position and repeat for 12-15 reps for 3-4 sets.

Last but not least perform dumbbell side bends; this exercise targets your obliques. Grab a set of dumbbells and stand straight up with one dumbbell in each hand. Keep your feet planed firmly on the ground with a shoulder width stance. Keep your back straight and facing forward, bend down to the right as far as you can, then back up again. Without pausing at the top, bend down to the left. Repeat for 12-15 reps on each side and perform 3-4 sets.

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What Is an AMRAP Workout? Burn Fat and Build Muscle Fast

Have you exhausted yourself doing the same old routine week after week? Are you looking for something new to mix up your workouts? It's time to answer the question “what is AMRAP!” Whether you're a beginner and just starting to workout or at a more advanced level, you're likely heard this acronym thrown around by many trainers.

So what is AMRAP? It's a term and style of workout that is popular by crossfit enthusiasts. It stands for As Many Rounds (or sometimes Reps) As Possible. Workouts are structured where you have a set amount of time to do as many exercises as you can. Most AMRAP routines are around twenty minutes long, but you will come across some set at 10, 15, 30 minutes or other variations of length for the workout. Most trainers feel that AMRAP workouts are the best fat burning workouts you can do!

A good example of a beginners AMRAP circuit workout would be a 6-minute time frame. Perform 5 deadlifts, 10 pull-ups, and 20 double unders (double unders mean swinging the rope up a bit higher than usual while swinging the rope twice under your feet). Perform as many rounds of this routine as you can in a 6-minute time frame. AMARAP workouts can vary greatly. It's really not about the individual exercises as much as it is about the sequence, duration, and combination of all the exercises in the routine. As you get better, you can even begin to customize your own AMRAP workouts. Incorporate all muscle groups for an intense workout that will leave you feeling exhausted by the time you finish!

Incorporating AMRAP workouts or HIIT workouts into your routine is a great way to mix it up and challenge your muscles to grow in a new way! Do not think you can just turn your current workout into a fat burning AMRAP routine just like that. You most likely will need to lower the amount of weights you'd use normally. Remember the goal is the high intensity, low rest period concept rather than focusing the amount of weight you're moving. Take a standard bicep curl for example. You may be able to lift a 20 pound dumbbell, however if you're doing a bicep exercises in an AMRAP workout, you'd want to lower that weight significantly so you can perform a higher quantity until failure.

AMRAP style workouts are one of the best you'll find to burn fat and tone muscle! You're journey to a healthier and sexier you starts today!

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The Best Ab Workout for 6 Pack Abs

Think back to grade school gym class and you'll probably be reminded of the classic sit up or crunch. While this may not be one of the best ab workouts, many people have not advanced much past these primitive ab exercises, yet they wonder why they're not getting the 6 pack abs that they seek. The problem is these old school ab exercises can still be effective, however they can not be your only strategy for getting 6 pack abs!

The reality is that abs are made in the kitchen, so let's all assume we have the perfect diet and nutritional knowledge for right now. Training your abs is about feeling your abdominals contract when performing the motors. However, if you are going through the motions and making simple small mistakes, your results will simply be nonexistent and even the best ab workouts will not help you get 6 pack abs! Let's review 3 ways you can improve your ab workout:

Do not lock your feet down. The number one problem is people tend to lock their feet during during a sit-up (or on an ab exercise machine). By doing this you think that you are concentrating on the abdominal area, but that's just not the case. By locking your feet during an abdominal exercise, you end up pulling your knees forward with your hip flexors instead of using all the force from your abdominals. Instead, try lying back on a decline bench and hold your upper body in position when you perform a reverse sit up. In doing, this, you will be placing more of the work on the abdominal region instead of using your hip flexors.

Rotations and oblique crunches do not cut it. Have you been spending so much time on rotations that you feel like your doing the twist and shout? You need to be spending more time focusing on traditional abdominal training. Of course movements that incorporated rotation are beneficial for a strong core, but we're trying to get those washboard abs remember? Try training your midsection in a circuit by incorporating Swiss ball crunches, planks, and traditional crunches for three sets of 20 reps of each exercise with no rest. Do a few rounds of that circuit, and move onto another abdominal exercise that does not focus so much on your core.

Keep it interesting to keep your abs engaged for the best abs workouts ! To really maximize gains in your abs, you need to make sure you progress forward. The same concept goes for if your training your biceps; you continually get stronger by increasing the amount of weight you can curl. Instead of getting down on the ground and doing the same exercises with the same number of reps, you should aim for new records or trying more dynamic moves. When you seem to think you're reaching the plateau, its time to modify your routine. Try moves like wall planks and oblique twists to ensuation modification.

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What Are Planks Exercises for Abs?

Planks are one of the best ways to strengthen a weak core and get you on your way to achieving those 6 pack abs! Planks also help develop strength in your shoulders, arms, and glutes … but what are planks? Even though you are not lifting any weight, you are consistently contracting your abs to hold the position. Planks are a great exercise that you can perform at home or anywhere for that matter. No equipment necessary.

Position your body to be almost parallel to the floor using your ab muscles to stabilize yourself and hold the position.

Begin by getting on all fours on the floor and put yourself into a standard push up position. The difference is that you're resting on your elbows versus your hands. Your weight will be transported on your forearms to balance yourself.

Your elbows should be directly benefit your shoulders and your body should be in a straight line from your head to your toes. Clench your butt and squeeze in your abdominals and hold the plank as long as you can. The initial idea is that you work up to holding the plank position between 30 to 60 seconds per set.

Now that we've answered the question of “what are planks” There are a couple of variations you can do with the plank to mix it up as you become stronger and more comfortable with the exercise. Remember with any exercise, the goal is to constantly be challenging your muscles and learn to train them differently.

There are many solutions to mix up your planks to make them more challenging and exciting. First, try doing side planks to get 6 pack abs ! Rest all your weight on your left forearm and rest your right foot on top of your left. Push your core up off the ground while clenching your butt and squeezing your abs. Hold it for as long as you can, and switch sides to continue.

Another variation is to lift one leg up. By raising one leg in the air, you are increasing the amount of pressure on your core to fight your body's urge to rotate.

You also try lifting one arm up, but once again your body will want to default to one side so you must fight that urge and pull through!

Try using a fitness ball (Swiss ball) and rest your forearms on the ball. You will have to stabilize your body to prevent the ball from rolling out from underneath you.

The most challenging plank is the walkup to pushup. This type of plank requires that you hold the plank position while moving your body at the same time. This adds a whole new level of intensity to the exercise!

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What Is a Burpee?

With a cute name like burpee, one does not naturally think it is an extreme exercise that will crank up the intensity of your workout. However, after a few minutes of performing burpees, you will quickly discover that your own bodyweight provides enough resistance for a true kick ass workout that will increase your stamina and fat loss at a much more rapid pace.

What is a Burpee

Burpees work your entire body. They help you increase your strength, give you tremendous power and anaerobic endurance. So with all these benefits, just how do you do it and what is a burpee?

To perform a burpee, begin in a squat position with your hands on the floor in front of you. Next, kick your feet back to a pushup position. Immediately return your feet to the squat position, and leap up as high as possible from the squat position, and repeat. You should be moving as fast as possible and maintain a quick pace for this exercise. Try to jump as high as you can with each set for maximum benefit. A lot of professional athletes average between 12 to 15 reps for 30 seconds. I would recommend doing 3 to 5 sets of burpees between 12-15 reps for a killer part of your workout.

After you have mastered the traditional burpee, its time to up your game to Ultimate Burpees . If you want an extreme intense full body exercise, look no further. The ultimate burpee will have your body aching (in a good way) when you finish your sets.

To begin, stand up with your hands at your sides. Squat down and put your hands on the ground just outside of your feet. While keeping your hands on the ground ,rust your feet back and apart so that your butt is up in the air as if your about to do a dive bomber pushup. Then guess what? You're going to do that dive-bomber pushup! Then thrust your feet forward so you are back in a squat position. While keeping your feet on the ground, thrust your body forward so you land in the up position of a standard pushup. Do one push up, and thrust your body back so you're back once again in the squat position, then stand up. Congratulations, you have done one rep! Now repeat. By the time you finish doing 2 sets of the ultimate burpees your body is going to be feeling the intensity!

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Top Weight Loss Strategies

Understand why you gain weight
Some people will have an underlying medical problem that causes them to gain weight. The vast majority of people gain weight simply because they consume more calories than they expend. The body converts the excess calories into fat, and stores that fat, resulting in weight increase.

Know which foods are best
Many people are under the impression that avoiding fatty foods is the key to weight loss. This is not strictly correct. The body does not easily digest unsaturated fat, and most fat of this type is excreted. Therefore, it is fine to eat a limited amount of unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are the visible fats you can see in bacon rinds, or in beef steaks, for example.

Green, leafy vegetables are excellent sources of nutrition and can be eaten in any quantities. Not all vegetables are good when trying to achieve weight loss results. Search online for a list of healthy options.

Many fruits are an excellent option when trying to lose weight, but some fruits need to be avoided.

What foods to avoid
The three largest culprits contributing to weight gain are sugar, starch and saturated fats. Sugar comes in many different forms, but no matter what form it is in when you ingest it, it has a high calorie content. Sugar is often added to processed foods like cereals and fruit juices, and it also occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables.

Even fruit juices with no added sugar have a high level of natural sugar, and should be avoided. It is far better to eat fresh pineapples, oranges or apples than it is to drink a glass of juice made from these. Choose fruits with lower sugar levels. You can search online to see the sugar content of fruits. Use artificial sweeteners instead of sugar.

Cakes, biscuits and other confectionery products are high in sugar and saturated fats, and should be avoided. Avoid starchy foods like potatoes and white rice. Do not use store-bought salad dressings, as these are often high in fat and sugar. You can make your own dressings using low calorie ingredients.

Dairy products can have high saturated fat content, but you can opt for zero or low fat versions. Note that low fat yogurts that have added sugar should be avoided.

You will lose weight healthily by having a well-balanced diet that is made up of the lower calorie foods from different food groups. With a little research, you can identify these foods and you will be impressed with the results.

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Pre Workout Supplements: What You Need to Know

What are they?

Pre workout supplements are designed to give you nutrients to enhance your workout! Increased blood flow, better mental focus, enhanced muscle pumps and increased energy are just a couple of reasons why more people are using these formulas. Most of these pre workout formulas commonly include caffeine, creatine, select amino acids, and occasionally carbohydrates. Together these ingredients combine to help you push out more reps, support blood flow to the muscle, and greater endurance. Also by taking a serving of these pre workout supplement you can also support greater recovery after exercise, which means faster results.

What are some advantages and disadvantages?

Advantages:
• they include a combination of ingredients that give you the energy boost you need to get through intestinal training.
• these supplements reduce muscle breakdown and fatigue.
• they allow you to train harder and longer, which allows for greater muscle gains.

Disadvantages:
• these supplements contain caffeine and other energy boosting ingredients that may make you jittery.
• These supplements may have side effects like stomach upset, headaches, and trouble sleeping.

Why should I take a pre workout supplement?

As a person / trainer who takes a scoop of these 60% of the time, I'm not saying it is for everyone. If you struggle getting to the gym after a long day at work and need an extra boost to get to the gym and get through your workout, then one of the things I would recommend would be a pre workout supplement. Or if you're hitting the gym every other day with everything you have and still want and extra boost to help you muscle through that last rep or two, again I would recommend a pre workout. All in all, if you're a person who wants to hit the gym with energy and vigor every time you walk through those doors, then this supplement is right up your alley.

How do I take pre workout supplements?

For starters there are two kinds of these products – Stimulant and non-stimulant based. Stimulant pre's are caffeine based which is great for those who find it hard to drag them selves to the gym or come to the gym with low energy. If you have issues like this a stimulant based service would be great for you. The thing about taking a stimulant formula is that taking it long term will cause you to build up an immunity to the stimulant that's making you tear the gym up like a caged animal. So what I would recommend is to take a stimulant based pre workout for a month, then cycle off and change to a non-stimulant based formula for a month. Now if you're one of those people who always seems to have the energy but still want the nutrients, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, creatine, and all of the other perks of these supplement, I would recommend a non-stimulant product from the get go. These products are ideal for those who are sensitive to stimulants, do not want to use stimulants, or those who train late in the evening and need to sleep soon after a training session. When it comes to actually ingesting them, its best to read the directions to see how big of a serving size you need to take, also if you decide to go with a stimulant pre workout always be sure to take half a serving to assess tolerance to the stimulant. Also always be sure to read how long before a workout you should take your supplements because many have different time periods before they start to take effect, and I do not want you to rip the steering wheel off in car because you took your pre workout way to early and it starts taking effect on the drive to the gym !!

As always, consult your personal trainer and doctor before starting any supplement that you are hesitant about.

Have a great workout!

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Creatine: What Is It and Should I Use It?

Are you that gym buff who's been looking for that extra edge? Those stronger, faster muscle contractions in the gym? Bigger, leaner muscles? OK, we both know you are and I think I have some information you'll definitely want to read. Creatine! Yes, you've probably walked in to the local supplement store and had some salesman pitch a line to you about it, but you thought, “I do not really know much about this stuff,” well I'm here to help you out guys!

Creatine is an organic amino acid that occurs naturally in the body. Its makeup is similar to that of proteins. Even though our body produces creatine, it can still be taken in from other sources as well. These sources are primarily red meat and fish in general, except of course you decide to take the pure supplementary form bought by the container at most gyms and supplement stores.

Over the last decade there have been many studies on what it is creatine actually does. At a chemical level, it was determined that when ingested, it is absorbed, unchated by the intestinal lumen into the blood. It is transported to skeletal muscle where it attaches to transport molecules that take it directly to the muscle. Once inside the muscle, the creatine binds with phosphate to form creatine phosphate which is an important source in helping to regenerate ATP (adenosine triphosphate.) ATP serves as the main source for energy within the human body and is the fastest working component of the anaerobic system.

The results studied can be directly related to high intensity, short burst activity. That in turn can be directly related to what power athletes do. “Power” means all-out effort for time spans up to or less than 15 – 20 seconds. A few examples of athletes that make perfect candidates for this supplement are sprinters, weightlifters, football players, etc. Endurance athletes would not benefit from this supplement because creatine and phosphocreatine are used during the alactic stage of exercise (20 seconds.) Endurance athletes depend on the lactic supply of energy which consist of the breakdown of glucose and glycogen stores (20+ seconds.)

Ever since the breakthrough in the early 1990's related to creatine was made, creatine has been the leading dietary supplement in North America. Athletes have been using it to improve their maximum efforts in a shorter time period and some have experienced a significant difference in power. It has been recorded that sprinters have had a 5-8% gain in sprint performance, as well as a 5-15% increase in strength. This was especially for repeated bouts of maximal intensity with a resting period that did not allow full recovery. Further short term adaptations following creatine use, aside from sprinting are: increased cycling power, total work performed on the bench press and jump squats, as well as improved sport performance in swimming and soccer. Some long term adaptations to creatine use include increased muscle creatine, lean body mass, strength, power, rate of force development, and muscle diameter.

There has been much speculation as to what recommended dose of creatine is most beneficial when it comes to improving power. The general consensus according to manufacturer's recommendations is usually 20grams of creatine a day for five days and then going into a maintenance phase of 2-5grams per day thereafter. The initial 5gram of creatine per day period is commonly known as the “loading phase” among users and has shown scientific benefit over continuous use. Ideally however, after further study, it was determined that ingestion of 0.3g / kg / bodyweight a day made for the best loading phase. It was also found that taking glucose with creatine increased the rate at which the creatine is transported inside the muscles. But there has not been enough research on this idea for it to remain valid. It's important to remember that everyone if different, therefore each individual's response to creatine may be different. An example of this would be that vegetarians actually see the largest gains when subjected to creatine, because tier creatine storage potential is much greater than that of an individual who ingests meat or fish on a regular basis. This makes perfect sense, so if you have a friend that is a vegetarian making huge gains while taking creatine, do not be discouraged because you're probably already way ahead of the game in regards to creatine consumption.

Another one of the major reasons creatine is so popular is because the ratio of pros to cons when taking it is very in favor of the pros. Aside from the benefits already mentioned, (increased power / strength) you can be expecting to see substantial gains in size when it comes to overall musculature. By the end of the loading phase, you should basically be watching yourself grow in the mirror. This is because on average, trained individuals gained 2 -5kg of body mass. This is due to the individuals muscles retaining water. The gain in weight is mostly water and is difficult to maintain if the individual is not consistent ingesting 2grams a day after loading phase, but still, the benefits are exciting to see if you are an athlete that has recently plateaued in strength and size prior to creatine use. The only recorded negative effects, (and it should be stated, have not been scientifically proven to be a result of creatine use, only while taking creatine, are), muscle cramps, muscle spasms, and even folded muscles. When taken by mouth in doses higher than the recommendation says, creatine is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. There is the concern that it could harm the kidneys, liver, or heart function. But again, none of these effects have scientific evidence to back them. Ultimately, creatine is allowed by the International Olympic Committee and the National Athletic Association and will continue to be until these “negative effects” prove otherwise.

Some things to consider with regards to creatine use are that it should be limited to elite athletes without the average individual has undergone necessary research on usage. Creatine usage has been considered as being unethical but it is seen by experts as being no more different than carbohydrates loading which almost every athlete does. Another thing is that youngger athletes should not be subjected to creatine simply because their bodies are still growing and producing creatine themselves. This is no different than telling a young person not to lift weights at an age younger than fifteen because they're bodies simply need to “fill out” more before doing so.

Links have also been made with creatine users pointing that once an individual tries creatine, they are more likely to do banned substances such as steroids further down the road. It all comes down to what works for the individual and a person may have to tinker with creatine to see what really works for them. It's important to remember to do research before taking anything newways. Just be sure to use common sense and best judgment. If an individual educates themselves with what creatine has to offer than most likely positive results will follow.

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Calves Exercises for Mass – Don’t Forget Leg Day!

Why do calves seem to be the most neglected body part when training the lower body. Ever notice the guys at the gym that are wearing the “barely there” cut up muscle t's and wearing big baggy sweatpants? Chances are they're hiding their weakness .. skinny legs! What are the best calves exercises for mass? As with any muscle group, genetics plays a big role in determining how big you can naturally get. Here are some basics you should be trying if your goal is to build larger calves.

The muscles of the upper legs have many functions of course and one being that they support your core muscles and body-weight when lifting or for movement in general. The smaller calf muscles of the lower leg are the stabilizers if you will. They do not have the size or strength to push big loads themselves, however they act as little brother for the massive muscles of the upper legs that have more brawn.

Aside from functionality tho let's be honest … skinny legs make a guy who's otherwise very muscular, look a bit dis-proportioned.

We should mention that relying solely on squats and deadlifts along will not help you build larger calves. That may seem like a no-brainer to some, but it warrants being said. Train your calves like you would any other muscle group, with a specific game plan and strategy when you hit the gym. Here are 4 calves exercises for mass – they are the basics you should master if your goal is thick powerful calves!

1) Standing Calf Raises – For this exercise, you can use the calf machine or a block. Slowly raise yourself up on the balls of your feet as high as you're able to and contract your calf muscles as you reach the top. Hold for a moment, and slowly lower to the starting position and repeat.

2) Seated Calf Raises – This is very similar to the standing calf raises, but the listed calf raise will target the lower muscles of the calf.

3) Leg Press Calf Raises – Take a seat on the le press machine and hold the base with only your toes and the balls of your feat. Do not move with your hips and knees, instead use the movement of your ankles. This will put all the work on your calf muscles!

4) Box Jumps – This exercise will provide you with that explosive strength in your legs. It will train your calves to react and contract very quickly in various exercises and really help tone the calf muscle. Stand on the balls of your feet and toes in front of a box (select a box height that is appropriate to how high you can jump) and jump onto the box. Jump back down to the floor and perform about 10 reps.

These four calves exercises for mass are some of the basic lower leg or calf exercises you should master either you're a beginner or gymrat!

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Feeling Hungry Will Slow You Down

So, you have decided to try and shed a few pounds, get rid of a little bit of the belly, possibly the hips? … Great! When carrying a few extra pounds, weight loss can do great for your mental health and confidence but also decrease stress on various other systems within the body like the heart and blood vessels.

The problem for most people is how they go about accomplishing this goal. But hey, it is not your fault. Popular media tend to emphasize the need to reduce food intake to levels that leave most individuals starving on their so called “sustainable” meal plan. Although calorie intake or food intake does need to be adjusted more often than not, the new diet can NOT and absolutely should NOT leave you feeling hungry pangs all day long … and here is why.

Your body is a very smart and highly engineered system. We have various systems and processes in place in our body to make sure it responds to the things it needs too … Like Hunger! Believe it or not, when you feel hungry, it is your body telling you it needs energy to maintain vital processes, like digestion, blood flow, thinking etc. All the stuff we do not have a whole lot of control over. The issues arise when hunger is ignored … The body is telling you to feed it, when you ignore this it plays its own unique little tricks to reduce the calories it burns! And no, I do not mean you will exercise less, I mean it will lower your metabolic rate. This is the energy required to run processes and activities in your body you have absolutely no control over. THIS IS BAD!

Elite level endurance athletes actually make use of this process to allow them to run faster during races, or bike further. But for someone who wants to boost the metabolism, this is not a good goal! So, we have it clearly defined now that feeling hungry is not a good thing … Well how do we modify the diet to make sure you stay satisfied while not eating too much food causing more gain?

Your foods you eat play a big role, so calories are important, but the quality of the calories is almost more important than the total. There is a hierarchy in satisfaction between the major food categories; protein is the most satisfying, fats are next, and carbs are dead last. Now, I am not telling you to go out and eat a huge steak, the goal is moderation. Each meal should contain a quality source of protein and fats (beef, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs etc.) and also a good serving of nutrient rich carbohydrates.

Nutrient rich carbohydrates are vegetables; fruits are OK but high in sugar. Things like bread and pastas are not nutrient rich and more calorie dense. Therefore the more you can reduce these items in your diet and replace them with low calorie veggies that are filling from the space they occupy is an ideal way towards weight loss. Healthy fats can also come from things like avocado, nuts and seeds, and olive oil.

Another trick to staying full is making sure the stomach has something in it! We all know drinking water is important, so why not make sure you have lots of water through the day as well! This sets off stretch receptors in the stomach that can help reduce hunger pangs, just like the veggies that are lower in calories than bread, but take up lots of space.

The final key to weight loss is good variety in your diet. Mix things up! Make sure you do not over consume any type of macro (protein, fat or carb) or also specific types of foods within them. So veggies are good, but only carrots and sugar peas means your sugar intake will still be high and therefore not ideal for getting you the weight loss you desire.

The key lies in good balance, like in all areas of life. Meals should have each major food source represented, and leave you feeling satisfied. As we know now, when we get hungry and do not respond to those signals, we end up having to do even more work on the treadmill just to stay weight stable! Not good … So make sure your diet has good variety, and no one type of food or specific food is over emphasized, this will lead you to success on your endeavor toward a lower bodyweight and more important, body fat percentage!

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Carb Loading: What Is It and Why Do We Use It?

Carbohydrate Loading: Why and When?

But first … What are the benefits of Carb Loading?

  • increased energy during set events
  • increased stamina
  • better recovery times
  • more strength output
  • better injury prevention
  • overall increase in short term athletic performance !!

What it is:

Carbohydrate Loading, or Carb Loading, is increasing the amount of carbs in an athlete's diet in order to prepare for an event. Increasing the amount of carbs in ones diet will allow the athlete to increase the fuel stored in their muscles to perform better in athletic events. Carb Loading is primarily used for endurance activities (90+ minute events like marathons, triathlons, ironmans, hikes, etc) where the body will need extra energy to prevent the athlete from sitting 'The Wall'.

How it Works:

Carbs are essentially sugars, so when your body breaks down these sugars they are used for energy. The sugar travels into your blood stream where it will proceed to individual cells to give them energy. If the sugar is not used it is stored in the liver or in muscles as glycogen. This glycogen is used by the muscles during exercise for energy.

Carb loading is the idea of ​​draining the muscle of glycogen so the body would compensate by absorbing more glycogen when replenished. It's all about manipulation for your own benefit J

What to Do:

Approximately 1 week before the event the athlete should adjust their diet to get 50-55% of their daily calories from carbohydrates while maintaining normal exercise intensity / volume. This will help deplete glycogen stores and get the body ready for the loading phase, while not physically exhausting the individual.

3-4 days before the event the athlete should adjust their diet again, but this time increase their carbohydrates consumption to 70% of their daily caloric intake. At this point they would also want to reduce fat intake due to the feeling of being full it gives the individual. During this phase the athlete should reduce the amount of exercise being performed. Athletes should perform low intensity / volume workouts through this period up until the day before the race, when they should rest.

Carb Loading can help the athlete feel less malnourished through the race and improve their performance.

Does It Always Work?

A simple answer is no, Carb Loading does not always work. Every person is different and will respond differently to the process based on many different factors (Level of fitness, Body Response to insulin, etc.). Females especially may not benefit from carb loading, there have been mixed results in studies. This has been attributed to female's menstruation / hormone cycles and has been shown that they may need to increase their caloric intake as well as their ratios. Males on the other hand have shown that the glycogen stores in their muscles could increase any where from 25-100%, but is not guaranteed.

While there are possible gains from Carb loading there are some set backs as well. A big one people will notice is a slight increase in weight. This is due to the extra glycogen and water your body is absorbing during this process. Another potential issue is a change in blood sugars due to all the extra carbs ingested, which makes Carb loading dangerous for diabetics. Diabetics should consult with their doctor before trying a Carb Load.

Other Dietary Considerations:

Proteins: Protein will add additional energy as well as slow carbohydrate digestion by lowering the glycemic Load of each meal. This will slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream which will supply the athlete along with energy through the event.

Fiber: Watching the intake of fiber is key for carb loading. An excess of fiber can create digestive issues before and during race day. Fiber also absorbs fluids, swells up and takes up room in the digestive system which creates a feeling of fullness in the athlete. The fullness will prevent the athlete from consuming an adequate amount of carbohydrates.

Fat: Reducing the amount of fat in a diet will also be key due to the fact that it also creates that feeling of being full. Fats can also make the athlete sluggish on race day due to the density of the macronutrient.

People also make the mistake of thinking increasing carbs gives them a free pass to eat anything they want (Chips, Chocolate and other Junk foods), but watching the type of calories and carbohydrates you consume is just as important as the amount you consume. Eat clean carbs like brown rice, potatoes, whole wheat pastas, etc.

There is not magic formula to a better performance; nothing will replace hard work and dedication in the gym and with nutrition. Carb Loading can help well trained athletes improve their performance for their athletic events.

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