Monday, January 28, 2008

7 Ways To Get Motivated For Your Workout

Just received this article from Craig Ballantyne and with New Year's resolutions waning, I thought I should post it immediately.

7 Ways To Get Motivated For Your Workout
By: Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS

There will be days (everyday?) when you don't feel like doing your workout.

Sometimes you don't want to get out of bed.

Sometimes you don't want to leave your office because you feel like there are too many deadlines (but this is when you need a workout the most!).

Sometimes you don't want to end story time with the kids only to head down to the basement gym.

It even happens to me.

But I knew how I'd feel like a million bucks after the workout.

And in the end, I know I can't let myself become "soft" and start skipping workouts. I have to lead by example.

But if you are set on achieving a goal, then when it's workout time, come heck or high water you've got to bear down and do the job.

So here are 7 ways to get motivated for your workout and to get you inspired to get through your workout.

1) Reward yourself. Finish your workout and treat yourself to a magazine, a TV show, some extra time with your family, some new songs for your IPOD, or even a little extra time for yourself.

2) Or set up a punishment for missing workouts. Skip the workout, put $20 into a jar to spend on home repairs. Make sure your spouse controls the jar.

3) Review your goals everyday and every night. Keeping your goals fresh in your mind will help you stay on track.

4) Realize that the hardest part of the workout is often getting your butt to the gym. Once you get 5 minutes into the workout, you will be over the hump. So tell yourself, "I'll just go in and do 1 set of the first 2 exercises, then I can go". Next thing you know, you'll have done the entire workout.

5) Visualize yourself doing a great workout and finishing strong. Get yourself mentally prepared and you will literally have better workouts each time.

6) Crank the tunes. Seriously, nothing motivates like music.

7) Get social support. If you have a workout partner, you'll feel like crap if you let them down. Or become accountable to everyone in the Turbulence Training workout forums...if you don't post your workouts, they'll track you down and demand to know why you've fallen off track! So online or offline, get everyone on your side!

Now get out there and kick the fat to the curb,
Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS

About the Author

Craig Ballantyne is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and writes for Men's Health, Men's Fitness, Maximum Fitness, Muscle and Fitness Hers, and Oxygen magazines. His trademarked Turbulence Training fat loss workouts have been featured multiple times in Men’s Fitness and Maximum Fitness magazines, and have helped thousands of men and women around the world lose fat, gain muscle, and get lean in less than 45 minutes three times per week. For more information on the Turbulence Training workouts that will help you burn fat without long, slow cardio sessions or fancy equipment, visit

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Below is a great companion piece to my Friday post. It's an article written in November by Rachel Cosgrove and posted on her blog. Rachel lives in California so some of the costs she quotes are higher than here in PA but her point is still valid. (Of course, we pay more than $50 for cable. Thanks, Comcast.)

Cable TV or Fitness?
by Rachel Cosgrove

Why is it that cable TV, luxury car payments and Starbucks have become necessities in the households of most Americans but a gym membership and especially a personal trainer has not made it into that list of necessities yet? A personal trainer is still considered by most a "luxury" item.

Basic cable is currently $50.00/month, average car payment is $500/month and a daily Starbucks runs someone at $120.00/month ($4 a day) and most households manage to fit these in their budget as if they were a necessity.

Let’s face it if we were talking necessity we would all be driving a compact economical car which would get us from point A to point B for under $200 a month. Instead when you drive around my town you see every luxury vehicle there is and most with a monthly payment of well over $500 a month. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with driving a nice car with a steep price tag at all. A nice car makes you feel good and I am all about feeling good but don’t say this $500 plus payment is a necessity and then tell me you can’t afford a personal trainer.

The average personal trainer charges $50.00 an hour. Meet them once a month and you’ll have someone designing a fitness program for you, providing accountability, and helping you to completely change your life. What price do you put on that? It amazes me that people will prioritize their cable TV or their luxury vehicle over their health and fitness.

I have seen people drive up to our gym in their Mercedes (again nothing against driving a Mercedes) and come in to get information and tell me it is too expensive at $219.00/ month which includes 4 fitness coaching sessions, an individualized program and a gym membership. I have to hold back from asking them how much that nice car in the parking lot costs them per month…

The idea for this article came from a client, who has lost 60 pounds and feels great, who said, "I have been a member now for 5 years working out consistently, you guys are in my monthly budget like my car payment or my electric bill. Paying you is just as much a necessity. I’ll get rid of our cable TV before I would give this up."

This got me thinking that more people need to have that attitude. The national weight loss registry just came out with the statistic that 62% of people successful at weight loss watch less than 10 hours of TV a week and 90% exercise regularly.

Hmmm...Is it any mystery that most of America is obese watching over 10 hours a week of TV and can't find time or money to hire a personal trainer for 3 hours a week? When will fitness be in everyone's monthly budget as a necessity?

Rachel Cosgove is a triathlete and personal fitness coach. She and her husband Alwyn own Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, California.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Get Professional Help

Would you defend yourself in court, install your own roof or pull your own infected tooth? Most of us would not. So, why do the majority of people insist on cobbling together their own fitness program rather than having a routine designed specifically for them by a qualified fitness coach?

When someone decides to start exercising, I'm sure they want to get results. Most people are busy and want to get the most benefit from their time. And yet they spin their wheels spending hours each week on the cardio equipment exercising in the mythical fat burning zone, or using programs like they did in high school, or buying worthless gizmos that promise you six-pack abs in 5 minutes a day.

The $59 + shipping you wasted on "fat burning" pills or gimmicks masquerading as exercise equipment would probably have paid for two personal training sessions. Instead of a dust-collector, you could have invested in a well designed strength training program and proper instruction on good form.

When people think of personal training, most still envision working one-on-one with a trainer every workout. Some people do that but that's a choice; it's absolutely not a necessity.

If you are a novice interested in joining a gym, find one where you get some individual attention and instruction. Is saving a few bucks on membership worth it if you quit because you feel overwhelmed, intimidated and/or frustrated by your lack of results?

If you want to work out at home, hire a fitness coach for a few sessions to get you set up on a solid, effective and balanced exercise program.

Regardless of where you exercise, for best results, meet with your trainer every 4-6 weeks to change your routine.

If you want to get optimum results for your efforts, get professional help. Seriously.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Superiority of Total Body Workouts

Lately, I keep seeing people posting on online forums about breaking up their strength training routines in all kinds of "creative" ways.

A decade ago, like many people (although not many women), I used to split my weight training into body part splits like Legs, Back and Biceps one day and Chest, Shoulders and Triceps the next. When I think about it now, it doesn't surprise me that so many serious lifters ended up with shoulder injuries. (Luckily, I wasn't one of them.) Our body works in an integrated fashion and true muscle isolation is pretty much impossible so lots of shoulders were being overtrained, big time.

Back then, besides your basic circuit program, most workouts were based on the bodybuilder model. I don't know why because it really makes little sense if you think about it but that's how it was done. But as Maya Angelou says, "When you know better, you do better" so I have moved on from that method of training and now spread the gospel of total body training. :-)

Most people's main objective is dropping fat. Three total body strength workouts per week will help you accomplish that better than body part splits. (If you really want or need to divide your workouts, go with a lower / upper body split.) Concentrate on compound exercises, which are those that use more than one muscle. Your program should primarily consist of exercises like Squats, Lunges, Presses, Rows, Pushups, Deadlifts, Pulldowns, etc. Besides the fact that those exercises are more functional, you'll burn more calories doing them than you will isolation exercises like Bicep Curls and Tricep Kickbacks.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Stop Holding On To The Treadmill

Between new workout programs for clients and getting new Body & Soul members started, I haven't had time to write anything for this blog. However, I didn't want to neglect you so I'm posting links to good articles that address an issue that's been popping up lately.

One of my new members told me last night that at her previous gym she usually walked on the treadmill at an incline. When I asked her if she held on, she admitted that she did. Today I ran across a thread on Spark People about the same topic and if you watch The Biggest Loser, you saw Jillian Michaels mention it on Tuesday.

Jillian specifically advised against holding on when you exercise because it lowers the number of calories you burn.

Decreased calorie burn is definitely an issue but there are many more reasons to walk on the treadmill the same way you walk normally, which doesn't include holding on to handrails.

Check out these articles by Lorra Garrick:

Stop Holding on When on the Treadmill

Top 17 Excuses for Holding on to the Treadmill

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Record Your Workouts for Best Results

The first gym I ever joined, members were given a workout chart listing all their exercises. Each workout, we recorded the weights used and reps completed. Or, at least I did because that's what you were supposed to do. :-)

So, when I chose a career in fitness, I was surprised at the number of people who never charted their workouts. If you are one of them, you shouldn't be because the few minutes it takes is well worth the effort. Studies have shown that those who record their workouts make better progress than those who don't.

You may think, jeez, we're talking about exercise here, not medicine or rocket science. I have my routine memorized. Why can't I just do it and get it over with? Well, you can but if you want to see better and faster results, you'll keep track.

Knowing what you accomplished last time should be a motivator to at least match it or, even better, to beat it by one or more reps. Winging it gives your mind too much power. How many times have you thought, "Boy, those 8 reps were tough!" Except that had you been keeping track, you would have known that in your previous two workouts, you did 10 reps and most likely you could have physically done that many or more today.

Tracking also helps you know when to increase your resistance. Without a workout record, you're more likely to wait far too long to up your weights- definitely an issue for many exercisers.

Regardless of your primary goal- fat loss, strength, endurance, muscle building, etc. you need to challenge your body to make substantial changes. Mindlessly going through your routine is better than doing nothing but will result in mediocre changes.

If you haven't tracked your workouts in the past, start today. Some people track all kinds of information like how they felt, etc. but make sure you at least record:

* Date

* What exercises you did

* How many sets of each

* How much weight you used

* How many reps you completed of each exercise.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

3 Tips to Burn Belly Fat Fast

Here is a terrific article from Dan Grant.

No gimmicks, no magic formulas, no B.S., just straight talk about how to get the results you want. I couldn't have said it any better myself so I won't. :-)

3 Tips to Burn Belly Fat Fast

Friday, January 11, 2008

10 Machines You Shouldn't Use

10 Machines You Shouldn't Use

Obviously, writers want you to read their articles so they come up with attention grabbing headlines, that may or may not be totally accurate.

Let me start out by saying that if your primary goal is burning maximum calories and dropping weight, isolation machines should be a very small (if any) part of your strength training routine.

You will get much more metabolic "bang" for your time and effort "buck" by concentrating on compound exercises that work multiple muscles. Everyone seems to love Bicep Curls and there's nothing wrong with adding them to your program occasionally. However, if you are limited in time (like most people) and are interested in fat loss (like most people), you will be much better served by Rows and Pulldowns than by Curls.

I agree with much of this article. I haven't had a client do Behind the Neck Pulldowns in at least 8 or 9 years, Body & Soul's Leg Extension machine pretty much just collects dusts and I will never own a Hip Abduction machine. For the most part, I believe standing exercises are better than seated, and dumbbell exercises are superior to the same movement on a machine. That being said, I think a blanket condemnation of all 10 of those machines goes a little far.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Clarifying Yesterday's Post

I woke up this morning and realized that I may have created more confusion than clarity with yesterday's post.

To get the best results from strength training, you should change your routine every 4-6 weeks. For the most part, changing your workout involves varying the exercises you've been doing. (You should automatically be increasing your weights/resistance as you get stronger and doing so does not constitute changing your workout.) Most of my members have a new routine designed for them every 4-6 weeks.

Changing workouts too quickly often means you never really challenge your capabilities with adequate resistance.

I think some confusion may have been caused by my use of the word "program" yesterday. Some training programs such as Turbulence Training or those found in books like New Rules of Lifting or Winning By Losing, often contain months of different workout routines.

Yesterday, I wrote about people who jump from one training program to the next constantly in search of the hot, new philosophy or newest celebrity trainer. They'll do a couple of weeks of Afterburn then switch to a Chad Waterbury program, LL Cool J's book or Turbulence Training, without giving any of them a solid effort.

I'm the first one to tell you to listen to your body. If you faithfully follow a program and don't get results, dump it, but remember that many of the best programs are more alike than different and the bottom line is always that a mediocre effort will produce mediocre results.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Pick Something and Stick With It

Although many people get stuck in a rut and continue to perform the same workout month after month (wondering why their results have stalled), other people constantly jump from one program to the next, always looking for the latest or greatest workout.

First of all, let me say this. Most of your fat loss success will come from proper nutrition. That may sound surprising coming from a fitness professional but that's the way it is. As I mentioned a few days ago, regular exercise will do great things for your physical, mental and emotional health but it will not significantly alter your body composition without good nutrition. As they say, you can't out-train a bad diet.

That being said, you will get better results from your strength training by choosing a well designed program and continuing with it until completion. The people who flit from guru to guru rarely get the results they desire because they never give any routine time to work.

Now, if you give a program an honest effort for 4 weeks and don't see results, it makes sense to try something else. But before you do, be honest with yourself. Did you follow the program as written? How was your nutrition for that month? Did you miss workouts? Were you using challenging weights or just going through the motions?

The best designed program is only worth as much as the dedication and effort the exerciser is willing to put into it.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Keeping Your Resolutions

Love her or hate her, Jillian Michaels (one of the trainers on The Biggest Loser), spent time on both her 12-23 and 12-30-07 radio shows talking about setting and achieving resolutions/goals and she had some excellent suggestions. You can listen online or download the audio free to your computer (and burn it to a CD if you want to listen in the car, etc.).

On 12-23, she launches immediately into forming and defining good resolutions and creating an action plan. The segment is about 10 minutes long.

On the 12-30 show, the audio is about 70 minutes long; the first 7 minutes contain Jillian's comments regarding The Biggest Loser finale, the goal/resolution part takes up about the next 38 minutes and the remainder is Jillian answering questions from callers.

Make sure you look for the 12-23 and 12-30-07 shows.

Jillian Michaels podcasts

Why You Need To Strength Train

It happened again!

Even though Body & Soul is a women's fitness center, I do also train men; often those whose wives or significant others are members or clients.

Last night, two members and I were discussing how one of their husbands had recently met with me to learn a strength training program he could do at home. I asked the other member if her husband did any weight training and she replied that he didn't need to because "he has two hollow legs".


That's the sound of my head exploding. Just kidding...sort of.

It is so frustrating to me that with all the information out there about the benefits of regular exercise that even intelligent, educated, regular gym-goers often view it almost exclusively as a weight management tool.

Yes, the majority of Americans are overweight. Yes, regular exercise along with healthy nutrition, will help people shed pounds but that is not the only reason to lift weights.

I'm all in favor of people dumping excess body fat but the physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular physical activity absolutely dwarf the weight control aspect. Studies have shown that inactive people of appropriate weight are at higher risk for many diseases than active people who are overweight. Just because someone is thin doesn't mean they're healthy and fit.

Besides improving body composition, lowering body fat and boosting metabolism, below are some of the many benefits of strength training:

* Increases bone density (helps prevent osteoporosis)
* Lowers blood pressure
* Improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity (reducing your risk for type 2 diabetes)
* Elevates mood (reducing the risk of depression)
* Increases muscle strength (without resistance training, adults lose about one-half pound of muscle per year)
* Reduces gastrointestinal transit time (helps you be more regular)
* Improves joint health (reducing arthritis pain and stiffness)
* Boosts your immune system (you'll get sick less often)
* Increases your blood level of HDL (good) cholesterol
* Improves sleep quality
* Lowers your resting heart rate (your heart doesn't have to work as hard)
* Improves flexibility
* Increases tendon and ligament strength
* Improves posture
* Decreases your risk of injury
* Improves self-esteem, confidence and self-worth
* Increases energy
* Maintains or improves lower back strength
* Improves balance, mobility and stability (which helps prevent falls)
* Maintains or improves mental sharpness (helps prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia)

The bottom line is that strength training improves your quality of life. It reduces the risk of injury and assorted diseases. Stronger muscles make everyday chores easier and help you maintain your independence as you age.

So, if you don't already, start lifting weights. You'll feel better, you'll look better and you'll be healthier, whether or not you need to shed any weight.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Turbulence Training Special Expires at 11:59 PM

Just a reminder that Craig Ballantyne's Turbulence Training special containing the 5 additional bonuses expires at 11:59 PM tonight.

I have not had time to go through all the bonuses myself but I did find Brad Pilon's Eat, Stop, Eat very interesting and I've been experimenting with it. I've read extremely positive comments about Dax Moy's Mastering The Fat Loss Mindset. Holly Rigsby's Fit Yummy Mummy workouts use very little equipment (not even a stability ball) so you can easily do those at home or when you travel, regardless of whether or not you're a stay at home mom. I am really looking forward to checking out Secrets of the Transformation Masters but I absolutely must finish my January Fit Bits print newsletter first.

Anyway, here's the link again:
Turbulence Training

Obviously, you'll be able to buy TT after midnight but those 5 bonuses will not be part of the package. If you, or someone you know, is serious about fat loss in 2008, check out the link above.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The 4 Lies You'll Tell Yourself On New Year's Eve

If you're serious about making changes this year, here's a free report written by Dax Moy with 6 simple steps for turning wishful thinking into achieved goals.

You do not need to subscribe to anything to download or read this information. Here's a direct link to the PDF report.

4 Lies Report