Monday, October 24, 2011

5 Tips To Stop Wasting Your Time At the Gym

The main excuse people give for not exercising regularly is lack of time. Here are 5 ways to reduce your time at the gym and still get a great workout.

1. Use primarily compound exercises rather than isolation exercises. Compound exercises are multi-joint movements that work more than one muscle at a time. Stop wasting time on Leg Extensions, Bicep Curls and Tricep Kickbacks. Concentrate on Lunges, Squats, Presses, Pushups, Deadlifts, Rows, etc. You'll not only save time but compound exercises are more functional (similar to how our body works in real life) and burn more calories.


2. Instead of doing 2 or 3 sets of the same exercise and resting between each set, pair a lower body and upper body exercise in a superset. For example, do a set of Squats followed immediately by a Row. Then, rest as needed and repeat. 

3. Get off the machines. Most people are familiar with the strength training circuits used in many gyms. You'll get a better workout by using free weights (dumbbells, barbells, medicine balls, kettlebells, etc.). Why?
When do we ever do this motion?

a. Many of those machines isolate muscles. See #1.

b. You don't get the full benefit of an exercise when seated on a machine. Your body doesn't need to work as hard because the machine guides the movement and supports your body weight. With free weights you need to lift and guide the weight, and also stabilize yourself so more muscles are involved.

(Please note, the above comments do not apply to the cable machine but that's an entire article of its own.)

4. Use challenging weights. Forget the "high reps, low weigh to tone" B.S. To get the look that people refer to as "toned", you need to reduce the amount of fat covering the muscles. To do that, you need to challenge yourself in your workouts. You'll save time and get far better results by doing sets of 6-12 reps (and sometimes 15) than by doing sets of 20-25 reps or more. 

5. Ditch the slow, steady cardio workouts and replace them with metabolic circuits or cardio intervals.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Avoid The 4 Horseman To Live A Long And Healthy Life

Many of our health issues are caused or exacerbated by our behaviors. While some in the fitness world tend to go to the extremes, Craig Ballantyne dismisses the minutiae. In the following article, he addresses what he believes are the 4 most important keys to a long and healthy life.

The 4 Horsemen of Your Body's Apocalypse
Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
October 11, 2011 

There are many, many useless debates in the health and fitness world.

Debates about milk…

Fights about whether to eat meat or not eat meat…

Anger over whey vs soy protein…

None of these really matter.


If you think different, I’m sorry, but you’re wasting time and energy on these arguments.

You see, there are really only 4 Horsemen of your body’s apocalypse, and neither milk, nor soy, nor meat are one of them.

Today you’re going to discover the 4 simple things you really need to be careful about if you want to live a long and healthy life.

Fortunately, they’re not even that difficult to avoid.

The great news is that this short list will bring you a LOT less stress when it comes to designing your healthy lifestyle.

Here we go…

The first horseman is SMOKING.                   

Seriously, people still do this?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes, but this is one of the worst things you can do for your health.

However, smokers also teach us something about why so many “great health debates” are pointless drivel.

Look, smokers are inhaling poisonous gasses into their lungs repeatedly on a daily basiss, and yet according to research from the British Medical this cuts a smoker’s lifespan by only 10 years.

Only 10 years from inhaling smoke directly into your lungs on a daily basis for over 35 years.

So really, is one diet coke a week going to kill you and knock 10 years off your life?

What about a glass of milk each day?

Or eating whole grains?

I don’t think so.

(In fact, most research from Walter Willet at Harvard University shows that eating whole grains actually EXTENDS someone’s lifespan…but that’s an argument I’ll never get into.)

If you smoke, please try to stop. And NEVER, EVER, EVER give up on trying to quit. It may take many attempts, but you can do it.

The second horseman is excessive DRINKING (of alcohol, of course). 

This horseman killed my father and for that I would like to whip this horseman’s butt. But alas, I cannot.

But perhaps I can spare your child a lot of pain and misery by convincing YOU to take a good look at your own alcohol intake.

Alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States (with smoking and obesity ranking first and second).

The bad news is that it’s really easy to drink excessively. More than two drinks per day for a man, and one for a woman, will add up into health problems over time.

Binge drinking – six drinks or more in a single session – is probably even worse.

My father died at 69 years old. Not even 70. Who doesn’t hit 70 years old in Canada in this day and age?

I mean, c’mon, right? Stupid Horseman.

Don’t make the same mistakes he did. Please.

You know the facts.

Your decision.

The third horseman is OBESITY.       

Probably the most popular horseman of the four. You see it everywhere, all over the world.

Such a shame. But probably easier to overcome than quitting an addiction like cigarettes and alcohol.

However, while cigarettes and alcohol are thought of as being ‘more evil’ than simple obesity, a recent study concluded:

“Obesity appears to have a stronger association with the occurrence of chronic medical conditions, reduced health-related quality of life, and increased health care and medication spending than smoking or problem drinking has. Only 20 years’ aging has similar-size effects.”  Ref: Health Affairs, March 2002 vol. 21 no. 2 245-253.

Did you catch that message?

The author concluded that if you’re obese, then you have the health of someone TWENTY years older than you. So if you’re a 55 year old obese individual, you actually have the body of a 75 year old. (And surely NOT a FIT 75 year old.)

That’ what makes this Horseman so dangerous. You might not be buying socially unacceptable items like cigarettes and alcohol, but your body is losing an important fight.

So fight back.

Diet is your sword against this enemy, and exercise is your shield.

Take up your weapons and fight him well. I’ll be right be your side.

You’ll need me, because the fourth Horseman of your body’s apocalypse often fights in tandem with his partner.

And that fourth Horseman is LACK OF EXERCISE.   

Ever so cunning, the fourth Horseman is thought to be innocuous.

What’s the big deal, right? You don’t struggle with cigarettes, booze, or obesity, so why should you worry about exercise, right?

That’s exactly what this Horseman wants you to think so you’ll let your guard down, and then WHAM!

You’ll get his trident in your back and be cut down by his gladius.

(Sorry, I’ve been watching too many episodes of Spartacus: Blood and Sand lately.)

The deadly skills of the 4th Horseman are not noticed until it’s too late. Your slim mother may have gone 75 years without health issues, but because of her lack of exercise – a lack of strength training in particular – she soon loses her ability to perform daily tasks.

One day, balance, determined predominantly by strength, fails her, and she tumbles. A broken hip is nearly impossible to overcome.

A little strength training done on a consistent basis will mean so much to us in the future. Take up exercise as your weapon today, it’s never too late at any age.

As you can see, the four Horseman of your body’s apocalypse are serious enemies. Far more serious than the annoying pests that so many “gurus” want to debate today.

Fortunately, these 4 Horsemen, your REAL enemies, can be avoided with a simple, healthy lifestyle.

I urge you, if you’re fighting with any of these Horsemen, to get weapons and support for your battle.

You CAN beat them. You CAN win. You CAN live a long and healthy life without massive sacrifices.

Let us fight these enemies together,

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS  
Certified Weapon to Fight the 4 Horseman


Monday, October 10, 2011

Collected Fitness Wisdom #40

Over my career, I have read tons of articles, research, and blogs. I've realized that outside of everything that is deemed the formula of success--not many people talk about the real simple component necessary to achieve all your goals: consistency.

~ John Izzo

People with more fat available to oxidize…can oxidize more body fat per minute. The less body fat you have, the less you can oxidize per minute. So as you get closer to your lower limits of body fat, the slower you will burn what body fat you have. This is why those last 4-5 pounds come off slowly, NOT because you are wrecking your metabolism with an aggressive diet.

~ Rusty Moore

Strength training can boost your metabolism, but it has to be more challenging than activities you do every day. You can’t expect 3lb dumbbells to make much difference to your metabolic rate if your children (that you carry around) weigh more, or your grocery bags are heavier. Your body needs to remember that strength training requires “strength” so you have to load your exercises accordingly. Otherwise your body won’t  get the challenge it needs to build muscle, lose fat, and look better in your clothes – and that’s what we’re all looking for, right?

~ Cassandra Forsythe-Pribanic

What if you kept going? What if you dismissed your genetics and all the other excuses and just kept at it and kept working hard? 
~ Alwyn Cosgrove

Friday, October 7, 2011

Reminder: Weekend Workouts for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Just a reminder that we'll be having multiple workouts this weekend to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. You can get all the details here ==> Weekend Workouts for St. Jude

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is the only pediatric cancer research center where families never pay for treatments that are not covered by insurance. No child is ever denied treatment because of the family's inability to pay. St. Jude shares its research and protocols with physicians and hospitals worldwide. Working together, their physicians and scientists have pioneered treatments that have pushed the survival rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common form of childhood cancer, from 4% in 1962 to 94% today.

Hope to see you there! 


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

You Did It Wrong.

I posted this on my Facebook page and it seems to be a hit so I decided to share it here.