Training Your Heart to Train Your Body

What Exercise Should You Start With? How Hard Should You Train?

Most of the time people who want to get more fit just check some videos on YouTube or they find an application for their phone with a fitness program to follow.

These systems may work for some people but it does not always reflect what you really like to do and you most likely end up on dropping them after few sessions.

You need to do what you and your body like to do, not what you think is cool for a while.

First thing first.

Start to train your cardiovascular system.

In fitness term this is called “Aerobic exercise” which means any exercise that makes your heart pump, like running, cycling, swimming, rowing and stair climbing to name a few.

Why Aerobic Exercise?

Your heart and lungs are now “trained” to sustain what you do in your normal daily life, not heavy weight training and either the 10km marathon on Sunday.

If you try to push too much they will give up on you, you will feel extremely tired too soon and you may take days to recuperate from your workout. Easily you will abandon your fitness routine with a lazy sentence like: “I can not do it, that's too much for me”.

You must understand at what pace your heart should be trained in order to get results and really improve at every workout.

Even if you were a cross country champion when you were young now your body is the result of a different “training” from your lifestyle of the last few years and it perform best on what you normally used to do. Which is NOT cross country.

When you do any activity your body request a certain amount of oxygen to burn energy. The more intense is the activity the more oxygen you will need.

Depending on the intensity of the activity your body will burn more energy and will need more oxygen for this process. Here is when the blood pumped from the heart comes in with fresh oxygen from the lungs.

Beside the oxygen supply, blood also brings all the necessary nutrients and components to rebuild your muscles and recover from your workout. Something like a Gatorade for the cells.

After providing oxygen and nutrients, the blood get loaded with waste from the energy consumption and Carbon Dioxide creating a “cleaning” effect and when it goes back to your lungs it will exchange this waste material with new fresh oxygen and continue the cycle.

After working out your body will still need a good healthy blood supply for some time to recover the muscles (consider it if you are a smoker).

Let's Quantify Your Aerobic Training.

Just as a quick information note that VO2 Max is the maximum quantity of oxygen that can be transported from your lungs to your body's tissues.

The ideal oxygen quantity needed during your training should be between 55% and 85% of your VO2.

You do not really care right now about how much is your VO2 but, by monitoring your heart rate is possible to check the ideal quantity of oxygen needed to have successful training effect.

This is called Target Heart Rate (THR).

Check your heart rate at rest (let's say 75bpm resting heart rate for example).

Then we can use the Karvonen formula as follow:

Let's take a 35 years old individual for our example.

220 – 35 (age) = 185

185 – 75 (resting heart rate) = 110

we multiply the result by our target rates

110 x 0.55 = 60.5 (55%)

110 x 0.85 = 93.5 (85%)

We add the resting heart rate back (75bpm)

60.5 + 75 (resting heart rate) = 135 (minimum THR)

93.5 + 75 (resting heart rate) = 168 (maximum THR)

Here you have it! This 35 years old individual should keep his heart rate between 135bpm and 168bpm in order to activate real training effect on the body and improve cardiovascular system.

Most machines feature a heart beat monitor to keep an eye on your performance. If you are working out in fresh open air you may consider investing some money in a heart rate monitor watch.

How Long Should You Train?

Normally is recommended to train at this THR range for 20 to 60 minutes at least 3 times a week to get real results.

This is when your limits could end up dominating your training.

If you have been a couch potato for a while, may be a hard thing to do just to reach the minimum of 20 minutes of training.

As you are just getting started you may go with easy but steady steps.

Set your goals right now.

Put in your mind that the minimum 20 minutes will be reached in 2 weeks for example (6 workout sessions).

The first session set the target of 10 minutes and increase 2 minutes for every session day and you'll have your first 20 minutes in 2 weeks.

This “light” training is not a weak statement about you but is necessary to create the foundations of your real training.

In few words: Train your body to be trainable.

After all, you are teaching your body to work in a more efficient way, do not ask what is physically impossible … yet.

At the end of the second week you will be surprised that you doubled your training time and you are able to sustain much more intensity than when you started.

Remember to drink plenty of water and wear light weight clothes, avoid fancy rubber and tight gym dresses. You must be comfortable first.

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5 Tips to Get Fit This Fall

Fall is the best time of year to begin a fitness routine. After three months of extended sunlight and increased outdoor activity, our energy levels are higher than ever before. Pair this with the beginning of our regular school and work routines and we have all the elements needed for fitness success. Take advantage of the best time of year to get fit with these 5 fall fitness tips:

Make a plan: no matter how much you wish to get fit, it just will not happen unless you have a strong plan in place. Set yourself up for success by creating a long-term goal that lasts 6 months to one year. Once you know where you want to go, create three or four mini goals. Although the numbers on the scale measure how far you've come, it's better to focus on accomplishments that are not attached to numbers. Fitting into an old pair of pants, or finishing a learn to run clinic gives you a great sense of achievement and a more accurate idea of ​​how far you've come.

Schedule your fitness routine into your day: schedule every workout into your day planner. To remind yourself just how important your fitness schedule is to you, make the note in your planner very personal. Write out messages such as “THIS IS FOR YOUR HEALTH!”, Or “FITNESS TIME!”. This will make you think twice about rescheduling your fitness for a later date or time. If you're using your technology to keep your appointments, set a reminder on your phone for 15 minutes before your workout. This way you get mentally prepared to get fit.

Take advantage of the weather: The heat waves and humidity are left behind with summer. The crisp cool weather that fall offers makes this season the perfect time of year to take your fitness outside. Enjoy an outdoor run, take a hike or join a walking group. The fresh air and outdoor activities will increase your enjoyment for fitness.

Create a back-up plan: Many people plan their fitness programs only to fall off the wagon when something derails them. Get ready for the unexpected. If you planned to join an outdoor activity, have a backup indoor option ready. If you know your ankle others you, trade in a lower body exercise routine for swimming, or ride your bike instead.

Ask your friends for support: Ask your friends or family members to join you while getting fit especially if your fitness goal includes weight loss. How many friends or family members do you need for social support? According to The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, three is the magic number (1). When participants were paired with three friends or family members 95% completed their weight loss program. Your friends and family hold you accountable, create an added element of enjoyment and motivate you during your weakest moments.

1 Rena Wing, & Jeffery, R. (1999). Benefits of recruiting participants with friends and increasing social support for weight loss and maintenance. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology , 132-138.

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Information About Personal Training Certification

Personal training may be an ideal fit for people who are passionate about fitness and helping others accomplish their fitness goals. However, before beginning to work with individuals, personal trainers should first become certified through a certification program. This certification is needed in order to prove legitimacy and knowledge as a trainer.

When searching for a certification program that fits your personal needs, individuals should ask the following questions:

1. Does this program offer national and / or international certification?
2. In order to take the same, what requirements must be met?
3. Are the sessions / final exam taken in an online or in-person format?
4. What is required for this certification renewal?

In order to participate in the certification exam, registration with a certification group is mandatory. Examples of these groups include ACE, ACSM, NASM, and NSCA. Here is some more information about these groups, their training costs, and what is each group's focus.

One of the more expensive groups is the American Council of Exercise (ACE). While their prices are higher, it is for a good reason; they are considered the most prestigious and largest personal training organization in the world. The standard courses cost $ 499, while the premium costs $ 599, and the premium plus will ask for $ 699.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) offers certification programs that focus on physical training and group exercise, in addition to clinical training certificates. In order to participate in these courses, non-members will pay $ 415 per course. Those who become members will pay the reduced fee of $ 355 per course. Those in this group will have the freedom to choose their own test date.

The most expensive group is the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), which costs $ 1,199. This is the most inclusive personal training certification, as it includes testing, a free retake (if needed), textbooks, live workshops, and a 90-day job guarantee. Students who pay an extra $ 800 will also gain additional associate personal training experience.

Students who are interested in strength training and conditioning in addition to personal training certification may wish to consider participating in a program offered by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Members will pay $ 270 and non-members are asked to pay $ 405.

The program that is chosen is completely up to the personal needs and wants of the student. Individuals should first decide where their personal interests lie (one-on-one training, group fitness, strength training, etc.) before committing to a program.

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Fitness Consultation Test: Find Out Steps That You Need to Know

Fitness consultation is primarily the first process that most clients must follow before they revamp their body. It is evident nowdays that weight issues, with both men and women, have been a problem in health industry. However, before taking an action towards fitness workout regimen, there are also factors that need to be checked. What are these considerations?

Step 1: Set for an Appointment

You must set an appointment for your preferred fitness centers. Fitness centers and personal trainers have a busy schedule. Thus, it is highly required that you must contact your preferred fitness center or personal trainer for their availability. You have the option to call their offices. Once you have contacted them, most fitness centers will ask you to visit their office for further information that you need to fill up. This is done for your safety and it is required by the US federal law for all health care businesses.

Step 2: Pre-Initial Fitness Consultation

Once you arrived at your preferred fitness center, your blood pressure, resting heart rate, body composition, tape-measure circumferences, and cardio-respiratory efficiency will be checked. In addition, there are forms and questions that you need to answer. Questions are based on your background information such as personal data and medical history data. Usually questions are sets from section A to E. You need to answer all those questions. Questionnaires are answerable by yes or no. This step is highly essential, due to the fact that there are other clients who have illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and any other serious diseases. These conditions need considerations to prevent further injury or health problem. Special training program will be given to them. Therefore, when you answer all the questions, you must be honest because this will be the basis of your workout training. Neverheless, you must remember that personal trainers are friendly and understandable. They usually adjust fitness workout according to your needs and requests.

Step 3: Initial Fitness Consultation

After your pre-initial fitness consultation, you will proceed to the next process. Here, you must always be prepared for it. You must arrive early for at least 15 – 20 minutes. You must wear fitness clothes like t-shirt, shorts, gym shoes and towel. You must eat a light snack. Avoid eating chocolate and drink coffee or tea. Of course, avoid exhausting your body, you must feel relax and comfortable during your initial fitness consultation.

Your trainer will review all your health and fitness data sheets. You will be informed about fitness equipment usage. Personal trainers will show you how equipment works and its benefits. Personal trainers will let you try different workout platform. They will show the correct technique and then you will follow them. Most likely, in this stage you will be guided thoroughly with your trainer. Your trainer will check your capacity, strength, endurance, flexibility, agility, balance, and body alignment.

Step 4: Final Assessment

Upon completion of your fitness consultation, fitness trainer will provide a feedback about how you can achieve your fitness goal. Exercise recommendations will be given to you. You will be given options as well, either you will hire a personal trainer or you can do it alone by yourself. If you think you can exercise on your own, then go ahead do what you think is best. You just need to make sure to make another appointment every 2-3 months to report some progress. And if you prefer to exercise with a personal trainer, then you can set an appointment with your preferred trainer right away!

Fitness consultation serves as a fitness tool to assess your ability in achieving your fitness goal. If you want to transform your body into a new you, set an appointment right away and visit any fitness centers in your area.

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How Can You Become Flexible?

What we're going to be talking about today is how to become more flexible. Everyone is trying to become flexible because they know they need it, yet flexibility is all about balance. You can not become flexible if you do not have the strength to hold that flexibility. This is something many people do not understand so they try to accumulate strength by bulking up or become really thin like yogis in order to become flexible. Both are at opposite ends of the spectrum, but you have to find that sweet spot in between. So how do you get there?

The answer to this question comes from what you are doing and the reason for why you are not flexible. The common thing I see in most of my clients who come in with this goal in mind, is the inadequate blood flow running through their muscle tissue. This results in hard muscle tissue with a leathery texture instead of soft, pliable tissue. You can freeze a rubber band and observe its motion to understand what's happening with your tissue. If you try to stretch it, it will be hard and stiff due to the cold temperature. Your muscle tissue needs viscosity and blood flow to stretch and become soft, much like the rubber band that needs the warmer temperature to stretch. You want to get out of this leaky spot to a pliable place, by using foam rolling, stretching, or trigger point work. There are many ways to get there but you need to begin first. So what you want to think about is the following: a muscle tissue needs to learn how to move to gain strength, speed, and flexibility. The farther it's able to stretch, the faster it can collapse and do its job. That's the main idea. So if you are trying to increase speed, get more range of motion in your muscle tissue. Instead of doing small actions like bench presses, you can do longer range-of-motion exercises to ask your muscle to stretch and move farther.

The relationship here is that flexibility correlates with strength. I see many yogis coming in that are getting injured because they do not have the strength to uphold the flexible positions they are trying to do. This also inversely applies to body builders coming in. You have to find this sweet spot and the only way is by focusing on both aspects of this relationship. Note that it is difficult to balance out strength with flexibility, so when it comes down to it, how do you get there?

I mentioned earlier that you have to get blood flow through there. So you want to find a therapist who can help you get your muscles to start moving. If you want to do this by yourself, you can do foam rolling and trigger point work. Stretching is good to make muscles move but you can only stretch your rigid muscle so far. If you can get it to start opening and closing it can stretch farther and then you have a compliant muscle. Your body will have reasons to move and before you know it, you can stretch farther and easier. When you start realizing that you do not have to work hard to get out of pain, you stop trying so hard and when this happens, events just run their course. Stop trying to make your body become flexible and give your body a reason to be flexible. Find out why first – because blood flow is running consistently through a muscle to make it pliable.

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Sanford Is Ready for Sport!

Sanford is a lovely city located in Florida, in the United States of America, a city in which people appreciate and practice a lot of sport. Indeed, given the modern society, there is quite the preoccupation for sport. It is a known fact that fitness programs or even outdoor sports can shape your figure and provide you with the weight you have always dreamed of. If you want to look your best, then you should definitely count on one of the many personal fitness training Sanford establishments. You can be sure that in this city, you will find more than enough, more than you ever thought possible.

Indeed the interest for sport in this city is truly impressive. People living in Sanford enjoy spending time in the open air and practicing different sports. You might think that so far, there is nothing out of the ordinary. Such a profile could have been made to virtually any city in the world. Well, quite frankly, the general opinion does seem to disagree with this perspective. It may be true that there are other cities in the world that may have a soft spot for sport. Some individuals may appreciate indoor sports like fitness or aerobics, while others appreciate cycling or swimming much more. However, coming back to the subject, even though the modern individual in general might be a big sports fan, Sanford brings forward something different, something that will convince that everyone in this city loves sport. In 2004, a rather interesting initiative was taken, one that certainly made many think about the real interests people living here have. The so called City RiverWalk trail was completed. This is actually a paved trail for all those interested in going cycling, running or simply walking in the open air. You might think that there is nothing special about this trial and it is just another road. Well, the reality is somewhat different. Know that the City RiverWalk is actually ten foot wide and several miles long, in the Sanford downtown area, following the water front of Lake Monroe.

Obviously, this was not enough for the sport enthusiasts living in Sanford, because the city council started the second phase of the project and in this spring, another 3000 feet were added to the highly appreciated City RiverWalk. There are many other green projects, as people like to call them. While others may not have any connection with sport whatever, the previously mentioned one is all about this passion. Sanford does have a population that loves sport and the second phase of the City RiverWalk project that was completed early this year is clearly the strongest proof in this regard. Fitness gyms all over town, sports events that take place sooner than you would normally expect, these are all pieces of evidence that do point the fact that sport is welcomed in Sanford and that the city is more prepared than ever to take on any challenge of this kind. So, if you are coming to Sanford, take a run on the City RiverWalk!

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Healthy Chicken Cordon Bleu Recipe

This Healthy Chicken Cordon Bleu Recipe is probably one of my all time favorite chicken recipes! If you're into working out, you already know that nutrition is just as important as the time you put in at the gym.

Adding healthy proteins to your diet is a sure fire way to get the nutrients you need to build muscle and lose weight. If you're creative in the kitchen you can definitely find ways to keep healthy eating interesting as well! This is a super easy chicken recipe that will impress!

Healthy Chicken Cordon Bleu Recipe

Here's what you'll need:

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

Sliced ​​Deli Ham

Low Fat Swiss Cheese slices

Dijon Mustard

Panko Crumbs

Plastic Wrap


Meat Tenderizer or Hammer


1. Trim off any excess fat from the chicken breasts, wash them off and pat dry. Roll out about 3 feet of plastic wrap on the counter. Place a couple of chicken breasts on it and cover with the other end of the plastic wrap. With the meat tenderizer or hammer pound them out so that each breast is about 1/3 inch thick.

2. Lay the chicken breasts on a baking sheet sprayed with non stick spray.

3. Layer on a piece of Swiss Cheese and Ham. Spread a layer of Dijon Mustard on top of that.

4. Roll the chicken breast up, being careful not to squeeze it too tightly or the mustard will ooze out.

5. Secure with a toothpick and sprinkle Panko Crumbs over the top of each.

6. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes until the chicken is cooked thoroughly.

Healthy Chicken Cordon Bleu Recipe – Tips

– If you're using frozen chicken breasts you may find that the pieces are too small to roll up. In this case just layer them instead of rolling. Once you've put the ham, cheese and mustard on, place another flattened out chicken breast on top and secure with a toothpick.

– You can use any type of ham you want. I just by the regular deli ham that you've put on sandwiches. If it's super thin just use a couple of slices.

– Do not add any seasoning to these until you try them. The Panko crumbs, ham, cheese, and mustard add plenty of flavor (and salt) to the recipe.

– If you do not have a meat tenderizer, use a hammer or the edge of a book. Basically anything that will flatten out the chicken breasts will work!

– Serve this with your favorite veggies and a dollop of mustard on the side for dipping.

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Increasing Your Speed In Legs

Today what we're going to talk about is increasing the speed within your legs and the hip itself. In short, we will be talking about speed, strength, and power within the legs. What you want to first ask yourself is whether you are functional? When it comes to building speed, your body needs to be in a balanced state. What does that mean? Are the muscle tissues moving properly? Does the fascial system have enough glide? Do your muscle tissues contract and communicate with the whole body? All three of these questions must be addressed to decide if your body is in a balanced state. So one muscle must communicate with the next muscle, and so on and so forth. In the case of speed, everyone has front muscles, the hip flexors, which are contracted. Everyone understands that these muscles are tight but this is actually slowing the legs down. You need to really focus on getting that hip to open. So let's actually start showing you what's happening.

What you need to know is that the body is designed to have something in the back turned off if something in the front is on. We are an anterior driven society so the front of our body is working overtime, at all times. Consequently, this will get tightened and turned on, eventually getting harder and preventing the hip joint from opening completely. As a result, the posterior part of your body, your butt, is going to turn off. I'm going to show you how to make that backside functional, but first, let's find out what it looks like.

In order to push your leg backwards, your glute and hamstrings need to work. So you need to focus on foam rolling, trigger point work, and stretches for your glute and hamstrings. First, you must get them to learn how to move, then get them to contract with trigger point work or squats. It is also important to get them to communicate, by using fluid motion in your stretches. Once you do that, you must then understand the hip flexor area. This area will be the next tricky part. This gives the glute and hamstrings a reason to stay working. There are many muscles in this group and so much happening in this area. However, what you want to focus on is getting the hip to open in the back direction. Once we get the muscles to stop working so hard, your body will take over and start doing it on its own. This is where people make their mistake. They think they need to get faster and stronger yet what they do not realize is that the body naturally wants to become more efficient. You do not have to try so hard if you focus on the basics of getting the muscle tissue to start moving, contracting, and communicating. Watch how it moves then feed that movement. Afterwards, it's just a matter of practicing that speed and efficiency in a non-focused way. Usually, if you are doing this right, you will not even see the positive effects coming. You will notice that you are running faster without even trying.

So when we are talking about increasing speed, we are talking about increasing the functionality of your body. Getting it to move, contract, and communicate through foam rolling, trigger point work, and stretching is the key point here. You just need to do these things and focus on the balance between the hip flexors and extensors. Then it's just a matter of practicing and you will realize how much easier you can move and how you can move.

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Top 4 Benefits of Weightlifting

It's not all about v shaped abs and bulging biceps when it comes to the benefits of weightlifting! It's easy to get wrapped up in the images of the glossy fitness magazine cover models. I have lots of friends who do not go to the gym or have no interest in weightlifting. While they may consider it purely an activity in vanity, the health benefits can not be ignored.

Benefits of Weightlifting

1. Physical Capacity – In the most simplistic terms, weight training increases the strength of the body's muscles and connective tissues. This allows you to perform more work or work harder, and expend energy. This is what Physical Capacity means when referring to exercise and it can be further broken down by muscular strength and endurance.

Muscular Strength Definition – When it comes to weightlifting muscular strength is defined as the ability of a muscle or muscle group to exert maximum force against resistance for a single contraction or rep.

Muscular Endurance Definition – The ability of a muscle or group of muscle to exert sub-maximal force for extended periods of time.

2. Body Composition and Aesthetics – In the fitness industry your body composition refers to the percentage of bone, muscle, organs, skin, water, connective tissue, and fat. When people refer to “getting leaner” they mean losing body fat and / or putting on muscle. Body composition is not solely determined by weight. Two people that have the same weight and height can look vastly different. When people say “muscle weighs more than fat” they're just wrong. A pound of muscle and a pound of fat … both weight a pound! Muscle takes up less space versus body fat.

3. Metabolism – This is your body's fuel burning furnace. Because weightlifting increases the strength (and sometimes size) it increases it's need for energy. Your body not only requires more calories, but it becomes more efficient at burning them and utilizing other nutrients.

4. Injury and Disease Prevention – When you're busting out reps in the weight room or during your workout, you're not just strengthening your muscles. You're also building the strength and endurance of connective tissues like ligaments and tendons. This helps to stabilize joints and can so may help you prevent injuries. There's a plethora of studies that show that weight lifting / resistance training is an important tool for disease prevention. The leaner your body composition is the lower you risk may be for obesity related diseases such as diabetes and blood pressure issues.

The benefits of weight lifting are not just noticed when you're trying on those new pair of jeans or checking yourself out in the mirror. Training is not just for gymrats or vanity reasons. Get in the gym and get your sweat on and I could almost guarantee you'll feel better!

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Body Weight Skull Crushers

I read somewhere that Skull Crushers are the only exercise that has a “warning” in their name. I can only image how the name came about, but what I do know is that it's probably one of the single best Triceps Exercises you can do. What's even more awesome about this exercise is that you do not even need a gym to do them! Body weight Skull Crushers can be just as effective and getting those shirt busting guns that you're shooting for!

Body weight Skull Crushers

Guys may laugh off most body weight exercises because they think they need to be lifting mass amounts of weight to build muscle. This really is not the case and you can visit any cross-training gym or take a circuit / bootcamp style class so see some really hot physiques that were built from mostly bodyweight exercises. For the women fear not, you're not going to get the bulk the guys will anyway because of purely genetic reasons, and this is an awesome exercise to help tone the upper arms.

What are Body Weight Skull Crushers?

They're a variation of the common Skull Crusher Tricep workout. With weights, you're laying on a bench and extending a barbell to your forehead. With the bodyweight version you're using gravity, positioning, and well … your body's own weight.

How to Do Body weight Skull Crushers.

1. In the Gym: On a Smith Machine or rack set, adjust the bar to waist height or slightly higher. Outside the Gym: You can use just about any stable object that allows you to grasp with your hands like a counter top or staircase railing.

2. Keep your abs tight and form a plank as you grasp the bar from the upright position. (Note: a pair of lifting grips will ease hand fatigue and give you a more stable grip.)

3. Lower your body, bending at the elbows until your forehead is about to touch the bar. You'll want to focus on keeping your elbows tucked into your sides as much as possible. Pause.

4. Return back to the starting position, and that completes one full rep!


The higher the bar, the less you'll be working the Triceps. The lower the bar, the more you'll hit the triceps.

This is not only a great Triceps Exercise , but it's a good stability exercise. Because you're also engaging your core in “planking” you'll probably even feel it in your abs as well!

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Nutrition And Exercise Plan For Fat Loss


Get the 1st of 2 daily workouts before you have your 1st meal of the day. Wait 12 hours of not eating a meal before your workout to burn maximal body fat for energy. If you wait that long than your body has burned up most of its blood sugar stores through the night and early morning. Your body burns blood sugar first for fuel during a workout before it's able to burn body fat (adipose tissue). Since you have fasted for 12 hours your blood sugar is low and so it only takes a few minutes to burn that up resulting in immediate fat burning for energy.

You will simply workout on an empty stomach again later in the day for your 2nd workout to burn more fat.

Bonus tip – add 100-200 mg of caffeine to your system 30-60 minutes before both workouts to boost energy, increase strength, increase desire, focus, and best of all, to burn more fat! Caffeine will work with the body resulting in a slightly more fat burn during exercise. Do not add sugar or creamer to your caffeine. Try a cup of coffee, caffeine pills, or some green or black tea for example.


Now, 15-60 minutes after your workout is the best time to consume carbohydrates, protein, and dietary fat. This is important for muscle recovery, preventing muscle loss, healthy hormone production, and best of all, fat loss! If you fail to eat during this window of opportunity you will slow metabolism, increase muscle breakdown, and will be unable to fully replenish muscle energy for your following workout. Make sure your protein is a complete source like eggs, meat, fish, or soy protein. Make sure your carbs come from nature instead of a box. Fruits, vegetables, and oatmeal are great choices. Finally, add healthy fats like nuts, seeds, eggs, and olive oil for overall health including healthy hormone production. Eat foods that are not processed and are in its most natural state. For example brown rice beats white rice. Or 9 grain bread over the highly processed white bread. Find the diet that works well with your particular taste buds as everyone is a unique individual. There is no limit because your only eating twice per day, your energy requirements are higher due to a 2 a day training protocol, and because you are eating only after workouts so feeding muscles instead of fat (adipose tissue).

Bonus tip – to get even better results eat certified organic labeled food when possible.

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Personal Trainers Should Train Clients, Not Diagnose Them!

Much like my diet advice this article will go against the grain, so to speak. Every personal trainer is taught that they must go through a thorough assessment with their clients. The more information they gather, the better. Well, after 18 years in this business, I do far less assessing and far more guessing – not to be different, but to be efficient. I have found many similar patterns that exist among individuals, and through the years I have developed systems of training that produce “reproducible” results. Where the client fits into these systems depends on their individual needs and goals. Often, assessments can be connected through the training process, rather than a separate entity on its own. This can save the client time and money and can actually lead to better results.

Not everyone is “numbers-oriented” to begin with. Forcing an assessment on a prospect can be quite disturbing to some. In fact, many gyms do this on purpose to show the potential client how out of shape they are and how much they need personal training. It's a dirty little sales trick. I've found that most sedentary individuals really do not care where they stand compared to others, they just want to get better themselves. Indeed, the whole practice of assessment leads to neuroticism – clients concentrate on the income rather than the process. Instead, we should encourage clients to focus on self-improvement, or relative results, rather than how they stack up against the norms.

I do think that it is useful to generate a baseline with regards to body composition. Anthropometric measures should be taken initially, but the amount of these measurements will depend on the individual. I know the second a client walks through my door how I plan to measure him or her. For sedentary individuals, their body mass index (BMI) will dictate the measurements performed as outlined below.

BMI> 30: weight, height, and 6 girth measurements (chest, waist, hip, right arm / thigh / calf), but no skinfolds

BMI = 25-30: weight, height, 6 girth measurements (as above), and 5 skinfold measurements (triceps, biceps, subscapular, suprailiac, calf)

BMI <25: weight, height, 15 girth measurements (neck, shoulder, chest, right arm / forearm / wrist, left arm / forearm / wrist, waist, hip, right thigh / calf, left thigh / calf), and 13 skinfold measurements (chin, cheek, pectoral, triceps, biceps, subscapular, midaxillary, suprailiac, umbilical, quadriceps, hamstring, knee, calf)

For most athletes and active individuals, the BMI is not a great scale to use. Many of these individuals would be classified as overweight or obese according to the BMI because, as you know, it only reflects quantity not quality of weight per height. For instance, take the average linebacker in football – they would have considered obese according to BMI criteria, but most have low single-digit body fat levels. With these individuals, you would perform comprehensive measurements (weight, height, 15 girth and 13 skinfold measurements) and you would do so on a more frequent basis.

Postural Assessment

In the past, I spent quite a bit of time assessing post – to the point of taking specific measures to gauge just how far off of “ideal” an individual is. Today, I have a much better method and it takes seconds. It involves a camera and 3 photos of the individual – front, side and back. Of course, they have to wear as little clothing as possible, but this method serves two purposes:

  1. It displays the before and after changes that occur in body composition, and
  2. It displays the before and after changes in posture.

For the latter, simply lay a grid pattern over the photos – this can be done right on your computer with any paint program, or you can print the photos and use a transparent stencil over them. That should give you all the information you need. This method is far more efficient for both you and the client, and in my opinion, gives you more information in the end. Instead of showing clients a bunch of numbers that they do not understand, you can simply show them the results of their hard work through the photos. A picture is worth a thousand words!

Fitness Testing

Here in Canada a popular method of testing fitness levels involves the Canadian Physical Activity, Fitness & Lifestyle Appraisal (known as the CPAFLA). Let's review some of the tests used in the CPAFLA.

Push-Ups – First off this is a muscular endurance test, not a true test of strength, and no matter how you try to standardize the test, the reality is that most out-of-shape individuals perform it terribly! A push-away is a much better option that gives you a decent reading of upper body and core strength for the general population. You can use a power cage or Smith machine and start with the bar fairly high. Keep lowering the bar by one notch until the client is unable to perform the exercise with proper form. Record the height and that can be used as a benchmark. The other reason why I am not such a huge fan of push-ups is that it further encourages poor posture with many people. Why do we often test push strength but not pulling strength?

Sit-And-Reach Test – This test does not really tell us anything. If you review the classic text Muscles: Testing & Function by Kendall, McCreary and Provance (1993), you'll notice that many different strategies are used when one tries to touch their toes – some accomplice the task with flexible backs, others with flexible hamstrings, not to mention limb-length discrepancies that exist among individuals, and so on. Furthermore, there is a low correlation between static and dynamic flexibility. And flexibility is joint specific – we are not testing overall flexibility, and we're not solely testing hip flexibility since the back and other variables come in to play, so what are we really measuring during the sit-and-reach test?

Step Aerobic Test – It's interesting how every single person that I've used this test on has improved over time without doing much aerobic work at all. Most have improved just through strength training alone. I'm a big fan of unilateral movements during the initial phases of training to improve left-right symmetry. The step-up is one of those movements, and I believe that it contributes to success on the step aerobic test.

Functional Assessment

Most people present with the following issues: tight hip flexors and weaker lower abdominals, rounded shoulders and forward head syndrome, and left-right weaknesses. It's pretty much a given that these exist with the majority of people that request your services. These issues must be addressed in training assuming, of course, that it fits your client's goals. For example, you may have an individual with repeating shoulder pain and extremely poor post approach approach you with the goal of entering a powerlifting contest in the next few months. You must train them to bench press as much weight as possible, even though it may further compromise shoulder integrity and deteriorate posture!

When it comes down to it, fitness professionals are not really qualified to assess dysfunction nor is that what most people are looking for, according to strength and conditioning coach Nick Tumminello. Clients use trainers primarily to get in shape and to look better. Clients do not use trainers for assessment – leave that to the physical therapists.

The bottom line is that you can attempt to correct such “dysfunction” through appropriate training, without the need of an assessment. It's safe to absorb that most of your new clients will have short, tight hip flexors, pectorals and anterior deltoids. Well, emphasize the stretched position on exercises such as split squats and lying dumbbell presses, respectively. Then, strengthen the long, weaker lower abdominal and posterior deltoid muscles by emphasizing the contracted position on exercises such as pelvic tilts and one-arm elbow-out dumbbell rows, respectively.

The options are endless, but the point remains the same: guess the dysfunction, do not assess the dysfunction. Work within your scope of practice and do what you do best – train your clients. By constantly monitoring their progress, you can refine the prescription to suit their individual needs.

Other Diagnostics

In the mid 1990s, I was one of the few kinesiologists to begin their career in the fitness sector rather than a rehabilitative setting. When I first started personal training, I had clients take a detailed 7-day diet log. I entered the data into a Mosby Diet Analysis program that we were taught in school. By the way, a kinesiologist takes a minimum of two full-credit nutrition courses in university. Most medical doctors receive only a few hours of nutrition training in their curriculum, if at all, and many simply hand out the Canada's Food Guide or Food Guide Pyramid to their patients. If you take into consideration formal education alone, a kinesiologist is more likely qualified to give nutritional advice than an MD!

Anyhow, the software would analyze food intake and energy expenditure, and then spit back a whole bunch of numbers based on dietary reference intakes, recommended nutrient intakes, and the food guide pyramid.

What was the result of this approach? In three words: confusion, regression, and neuroticism. People were more confused than ever. Instead of simplifying the process, these reports were difficult to understand and even more difficult to implement. Clients were not making the type of progress they deserved for the effort spent, and at times even went back by gaining some body fat in the process. And finally, trying to control all these variables by measuring food intake and counting calories for every single morsel they ate was not only tedious and inaccurate, but directed in a neurotic client that was on the verge of quitting at any moment.

Food allergy testing was the next big thing. You could do some extensive (and expensive) blood work for this purpose, or a less invasive (but still rather expensive) finger prick test. There is much debate over the accuracy and validity of many of these tests, but I will not get into that. Suffice it to say, most people present with dairy, wheat and egg intolerances. So, rather than testing, why not just remove these foods from the diet altogether for a 6-8 week period, and then gradually reintroduce them back in. This act alone often cures many common complaints, such as bloating, gas, indigestion, acid reflux, throat hoarseness, leaky nose, depressed immunity, and headaches, just to name a few, and it eliminates a persistent stressor – an insidious source of cortisol that often goes unrecognized.

We all know that cortisol can contribute to fat deposition, particularly android fat (aka “big belly” syndrome), and if I'm not mistaken, most people want to reduce the size of their midsection. There's an easy way to accomplish that objective, and no testing is required. Simple advice like “break” the “fast” in the morning, eat 5-6 small meals spread through the day at 2.5- to 3-hour intervals, and remove common food triggers. There you go, nothing earth-shattering! You get clients to try that first and see how it goes before considering a diagnostic such as the Adrenal Stress Index panel.

I could go on about other tests as well. We have used numerous blood, saliva, hair, urinary and fecal tests, as well as a zinc tally, DMPS provocation, HCL challenge … you name it, the list goes on … these are all useful, but not mandatory.

When the pieces of the puzzle are not so big and evident, testing may be necessary.

With most clients though, personal training is enough of a commitment that imposing additional time, money and effort into testing is really unnecessary. Get them started on the path to good health with proper training and eating habits. Of course, if they do not progress as expected, there may indeed be an undering anomaly that requires attention, and diagnostics are necessary. In my experience, however, this is more of an exception than a rule. Clients hire you for a reason – train them, do not diagnose them!

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Most Common Chest Training Mistakes

A sculpted well defined chest is probably the ultimate sign of masculinity. For ions the male form has been depicted in sculpture, paintings and artwork with models featuring massive well defined pecs. While most guys may think that they know the basics for building a larger chest (which they may) what they're not doing is what they're doing wrong! Here are the most common chest training mistakes you may not even know you're doing!

Common Chest Training Mistakes

1. Focusing on Weight vs Form

The amount of weight you can press on a standard Chest Press may be great to determine your 1RM (1 rep max) but it's not indicative of how strong your chest is in general. Trying to lift too much weight with improper form is not doing you any favors. Over extension of the shoulders or limited range of motion are pretty common with most guys who are more interested in showing how much they can press rather properly executing the exercise.

2. Working Upper Chest

Let's face it, we workout chest to get that thick bull dog mass of muscle, however you need to be training the winner “parts” of the muscle as well as the stronger. Your chest muscles “fan out” from the front of the shoulders. The thinnest part of the muscle is that which is farthest away from the insertion point at the shoulder. You can easily vary your current chest workouts by using progressive loading and exceeding the angle of the exercise. For example an incline chest press will hit the muscle at a different angle and can help “work” the upper chest (although all the chest muscles are engaged with every movement).

3. To Much Focus on Free Weight or Machines

Yes machines can be just as effective as free weights. While machines may limit some functional training benefits because they can limit range of motion, they are very effective at isolating and targeting muscle groups. A couple months ago we reviewed an ACE sponsored study that showed that the Pec Dec was one of top 3 chest exercises to build a Bigger Chest and engaging the chest muscles in general. Your goal should be to mix it up.

4. Overtraining

This should be a no brainer, but you'd be surprised how many guys (and girls) hit the gym every week and do the same routine over and over. If you're not growing or developing the muscles that you want, it does not mean you need to work them MORE it means you need to work them BETTER. You should not be training any muscle group more than twice a week at most. The muscle grows and repairs when it's at rest, not when it's pumpin out reps!

Make sure you're working with, or at least you are consulting with a Personal Trainer on a regular basis.

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The Real Truth About Getting Solid Six Pack Abs

Men struggling to get rid of a flabby midsection often ask about the right way to get six pack abs. While there is no silver bullet, there are a few myths that can put you on the wrong track and increase the time it might take before you can actually see those sexy washboard abs. That's why it is important to know the real truth about getting abs. This article separates the facts from fiction making it easier for you to achieve the coveted six pack.

Abs are made in the kitchen
This statement is 100% true. You can not expect to sculpt your abdominal muscles if you continue to ingest junk and fatty foods. For those who want to build abs fast, it should start with a clean diet. It is crucial because it helps balance the body fat percentage.

Healthy food choices include cutting your intake of fat and reducing the amount of sodium as it causes bloating and water retention. To make up for this, you should eat a judicious amount of protein and fiber. People trying to build six pack abs eat low-carb diets or cut out carbohydrates completely because of the belief that it destroys abs. This is a myth. Carbohydrates provide fuel for the body. You should eat healthy carbohydrates obtained from fruits, vegetables, brown rice, whole grain pasta, oatmeal and legumes.

Portions Sizes Matter
Watching portion sizes is a piece of advice usually given to people trying to lose weight. Healthy weight management is equally important in getting abs fast because fatty stores around the midsection will conceive the rectus abdominis muscle sitting there. The problem might be that you are eating healthy, but not a healthy amount. The best tip is to eat fewer calories than you burn.

Only Crunches and Sit-Ups will not cut it
Crunches and sit-ups are two popular abs exercises. Therefore, individuals typically do 100 crunches daily to achieve the six pack goal. Crunches and sit ups target the abdominal muscles and strengthen the core; there is no doubt about it. However, doing crunches alone will not get you anywhere. In addition to strengthening and sculpting the core, it is essential to burn fat. Crunches burn very few calories per minute and since will not help much to shed the layer of fat covering the abs. You will need to combine it with cardio and other weight training exercises to make it work.

Faster Reps are better
Many stick to the same speed when it comes to reps. If you really want to see effective results, you should opt for faster reps as it enables muscle activity around the midsection. A better approach is to combine slower and faster reps. In doing so, you challenge your muscles and push them to work harder.

Overworking is Disastrous to Your Abs
There is no rule that you can not train every day. However, doing so is not usually recommended because the muscles need rest. You should take a break for at least 1 day giving your body enough time to repair and renew itself. Working out every single day of the week is not only tiring but can also cause you to lose interest and give up soon.

Maintain them
It is natural to be overjoyed to be able at the sight of a six pack after months of training and waiting. It is also important to note that they can disappear more easily if not maintained. Therefore, you should continue to exercise to maintain overall fitness.

So, to sum it up, if you want to rock a solid six pack, your approach should include a strict diet and steady training. It will also help to keep stress under control as it makes it easier to lose weight. Also remember, that six packs do not come overnight. You must be patient to see the desired results.

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Squats, King of Exercises

One of the most natural movements we can do as a human, the squat.

If you look at young toddlers, (I have one myself), when they are playing they very often hold themselves in a squat position for a long time. It is the evolutionary seat that was created for us.

When I gained my certificate as a personal trainer, I thought I knew it all. During my training I was taught how to squat correctly, which is with your feet shoulder width apart, bending from the knee, activating your glutes, and keeping your back straight with your heart to the sky, and pushing off through your heels.

This all sounds correct yes, because it is, even what I did not learn was we should all really try and go as low as possible.

In my opinion, that's what we do as kids, it is clearly natural, that's what we should do now.

One of the reasons we do not by the way is flexibility.

I am a culprit here with this. The flexibility in my ankle is not the best, but I'm working on it.

I bet not many people in this country can squat to the floor while keeping their feet flat, without holding on to something or falling over. I'm talking adults here by the way.

One of my best friends has an awesome physique, lifts some serious weights yet openly admits he can not squat very low because of low flexibility.

Before embarking on trying to overload your muscles with Olympic bars and loads of plates, my suggestion would be to get your flexibility first. If you do then you will become stronger anyway.

The lower you squat, the more muscles are engaged, the more energy you require, the more fat you burn.

Your ankles, knees, hips particularly need attention, but also do not forget how much your abdominals are activated with this exercise.

For fat burning, the squat is a must.

For building lean tissue, the squat is a must.

For endurance athletes, the squat is a must.

You get the idea!

Th squat uses so many muscles, and major ones at that. This is why it burns fat like there's no tomorrow.

Hip extensors
There are a number of variations of the squat.

If you are loading weights then you can do a back squat, front squat, overhead squat, hack squat, one legged varieties. There are loads to choose from, mix them up and hit your muscles from different angles.

If you are using your own body-weight then you can perform jumping squats and add them to a plyometric circuit for a real test.

Keep clean, stay lean.

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