Up Your Fit

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Archive for Strength Training

New Years resolutions hope!

The vast majority of new year’s resolutions are about getting in shape, losing weight and basically looking good. It’s a well-known fact that people are desperate to reduce the flab that they acquire after the holiday debauchery. Cookies, candies, drinking and excessive eating celebrations pile on the pounds in December, and by January everyone is sweating away on eliptical machines. Hopefully, this January you will be well prepared with knowledge of how to go about reducing your visceral fat and firming up your body. Please don’t go blindly into the gym with some hazy plan of just jumping on the nearest cardio machine! As a Personal Trainer, I have a very specific routine and plan for each client to help them achieve their goals, which is not ALWAYS weight loss. However, I’ll share with you some overall tips across the board to help most of you this new year.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

  1. Exercise AND reducing your calorie intake will result in loosing fat. Please don’t succumb to crash diets. Start slowly with eating smaller portions and cutting back a little on sugar and flour-based foods. This will get you going in the right direction. For more tips on nutrition read this article: Eating at the Right time. Although exercise alone cannot guarantee your ideal weight, regular physical activity is definitely one of the most important factors for successful long-term weight loss.
  2. Plan the work, work the plan. Have a little forethought before diving into your workout. Write it out, do some research on-line, or discuss with a Personal Trainer what your goals are and if they have any recommendations. Most Personal Trainers are happy to advance your success, since it’s good networking. I’ve included a sample workout below to get you started.
  3. The studies have shown that people who lose body fat have done it through cardio exercise, and not simply weight training alone. HOWEVER, there is a very specific type of training known as high intensity interval training or Short Burst Training using weights, cardio machines, etc. that is the key to burning the most calories in the shortest amount of time and increases your metabolism rate. It needs to be anaerobic, not just aerobic. That means you should be sucking wind, working hard with rest in between intervals. Wearing a heart rate monitor will give you the most specific answer of weather you’re going anaerobic or not. Disclaimer: this is not for everyone, check with your doctor before trying this exercise routine.
  4. Women: it is extremely difficult to “bulk up” from doing weights, unless you’re on steroids or other supplements. This is a ridiculous myth that most women believe. The reason most women “bulk up” is by adding muscle to fat. Therefore, it’s best to do cardio and  weight training together, with a reduced-calorie nutrition plan to achieve your lean non-bulky body.

Below I have given you a plan that you may or may not want to use for your new years resolution workout:

  • Warm-up with 5 – 10 minutes of jogging, biking or stair-climbing
  • Repeat the following three times:
  • 20 lunge-walks holding dumbbells (weight varies per person)
  • 30 sec – 1-minute planks or push-ups
  • 1 minute of jumping rope (or running on a treadmill at a fairly fast pace)
  • Then repeat these three times
  • 20 squats-with-overhead-press using a kettlebell or medicine ball (weight varies per person)
  • 12 rows with a band
  • 30 sec to 1 minute of mountain climbers
  • Finish with 10 minutes on the bike doing six 30-sec. intervals (with 30 sec. rest interval)
  • Stretch

And remember: any exercise is better than none. Even if you just want to go for a walk a few times per week, it’s better than just sitting at your computer. You don’t have to workout hard and often for exercise to be beneficial. Just get out there!

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Strong Core for Winter Sports

It’s December and now is the season for skiing, snow boarding, snow shoeing, ice skating, and even sledding. If you’re not an active winter athlete, and you prefer to sit on your butt gaining weight this winter, then don’t bother reading this article. But if you have hopes and dreams, or scheduled plans to get involved in winter activities, I advise you to strengthen your core. Even if you do just want to sit on the couch all winter, tucking in your tummy and improving your posture will at least make your waistline appear a little slimmer.

Many people refer to “the core,” and typically we think of the abdominals as our core. But it is much MUCH more than just abs! It includes any muscle that is directly engaged with the spine or pelvis. The core will be the protective barrier for accidents or nasty falls. Therefore, a strong core is automatic injury prevention. Many winter sports are on very slick surfaces, where balance and stability are absolutely essential. Yet again, the core muscles will keep you balanced and on your feet. Changing directions on snow comes not just from your lower body, but the pelvis shifts your weight as it is the powerhouse of your whole body. Need a few exercises that will get your core powered up for the season, without any equipment? Watch this video:

Please don’t end up ruining your entire winter season, by getting injured out there on your first weekend. Firm up and stay tight. Have fun!

Getting motivated

Take the stairs to burn calories and lose fat!

A lot of getting fit is mental. Many people who struggle with weight loss simply have had a series of failures to lose the body fat. For example, I had one client who was 30 lbs. overweight and had a desire to lose the weight, but gave up after one tough session. It makes me sad to see people resist exercise due to the fear of pain, and other mental inhibitions. Our society is so customized to convenience and pleasure that we won’t even walk ten minutes to the grocery store and carry a few pounds of bags home. Come on, admit it! We have all been there. We all have the extremely reasonable excuses why NOT to get in shape. I’ve met a few others who have had erratic work schedules and just could not achieve losing much of anything, except their health.

Conversely, many fitness professionals have the urge to train the strong athletes and naturally gifted: isn’t that what bootcamps are all about when you really get down to it? Very few “bootcamps” actually accommodate obese campers. The over-weight end up in the back of the pack, feeling discouraged as usual. Unfortunately, many fitness instructors cater to the strongest.

When will we wake up? Weak, strong, flabby, skinny-fat, and pot-belly people hear me out! Your time on this planet is limited. Forget the ridiculous “boot-camps” and coaches that make you work out till you puke. Or the instructors that get in your face or negatively encourage you. This is not the answer. The answer is patience, perseverance and internal motivation. One day at a time: get out there.

  • Start with doing something active every day. Even if it’s just walking around the block.
  • Try hiring a personal trainer or coach to jump-start your training. It’s worth every penny to get you over the “hump” of even starting up a fitness plan.
  • Looking more for weight-loss? Try cardio and high intensity interval training. Looking to get cut and build muscle? Try resistance training. And do both often, so you work all your different energy systems of the body.
  • Frequency: if you can only designate one day per week to work out, that’s better than nothing. However, the more often you workout, the quicker results appear. (See the first bullet point)
  • Lastly, eating right combined with exercise is how you get the most bang for your buck! It’s the magic combination, don’t just do one without the other. I recommend keeping a food journal. I like the Canvas Food Journal app to use on a mobile device.

Power up your workouts! Get motivated and go out and get started, we have several more months of showing skin and looking healthy on the beaches this summer.

Consistency equals achieving goals

After coaching hundreds of people throughout California, I must say most people do not take their training very seriously. Some do, and they see the results. But many people enjoy the workouts, but do not commit to really changing their priorities in order to see improvements. Training is a great way to get in shape, have fun, feel great. Also, most importantly it can dramatically improve your health! There are numerous positive outcomes from an effective training plan, as we all know. However, it doesn’t happen with the snap of a finger! It takes perseverance and a solid consistent routine.

In 2005 I decided to sign-up for my first triathlon called Wildflower in May of 2006. It was a pretty challenging course and I took my training seriously. After six months of a regular routine of training nearly every single day, my body adjusted to this type of training stress. My mind wanted nothing more than to improve and see how far I could take it. One lesson I learned was that it’s not about beating the guy next to you ,as much as it is about beating yourself. However, without the diligent commitment of practice, my goals just remain unattainable dreams. We can live all our life’s dreams through these same lessons. But, in particular I know that the absolute only way to get better, stronger, faster and fitter is through consistency and hard work.

Forget the excuse. Tie up those sneakers and go get after it!

Winning 1st Place of the Women’s division at the Catalina Island Triathlon in 2009 took a lot of consistent training

Look better by standing taller

The way our bodies appear has more to do with what’s going on inside than you realize. When you are feeling down you actually tend to look down, and slump forward. As humans we have body language saying so much to each other. We cross our legs, fold our arms, close our bodies off to the dangers of the world. When feeling insecure about the state of our bodies, we suffer thinking we’ll be this way the rest of our lives. Do you think your body does not react to these negative thoughts? Of course our body feels the hatred and anger the brain emits! Loving your body today will most likely help it feel good and strong and healthy for tomorrow. You can think of it as, “I am just getting older” or “today is the youngest I will be for the rest of my life.” Your young body is alive and thriving so will you choose to let it sit there on the couch wasting precious time? Or take it out and see what it is capable of? Seize the day, my friend!

One chronic problem with many of my clients is that they hunch over and have poor posture. Do you know how much better your chest will look if you just stand tall and feel proud of who you are? Good posture is an amazingly simple way to look taller, leaner and more attractive overall. Men are notorious for doing a lot of bench press and or push-ups and tend to get really tight pecs and proportionately weaker upper back muscles. Thus, the hunched back problem festers. Even women, especially taller women and big-breasted women have to fight against our natural tendencies to slump forward. Also, focus on strengthening those beautiful upper back muscles by doing more fly, rows, and lat pull-downs to develop a nicer posture. If you keep your posture in mind throughout your training, it will improve.

Baby got back! Work those back muscles to improve your posture.

So, keep your chin up. Love yourself. Love your body. Because one day, you may look back and regret not taking advantage of these younger years.

Do what you love. Love what you do.

Exercise. Many dread it. Some never do it. But it can save you from disease and illnesses. Still, some avoid it like the plague. As a fitness professional, it’s difficult to imagine hating it, since I live it and breathe it. However, if someone asked me to work in a lab all day dissecting mice I would probably avoid that just as much! We all have activities we detest that we know are good for us, like flossing, eating vegetables and getting in some cardio workouts each week (not in that order).

Have you been feeling that there’s a shortage of fun active hobbies in your life? Here are some options: hiking on a beautiful forest trail, or just walking around a park or a pretty lake, dancing at the club or just dancing at the Zumba class, or maybe you just like dancing around your living room when no one is watching! My point is to find an active hobby, whether it’s a jog along the beach, bowling, biking, stand-up paddle boarding, skiing, surfing, boxing, jumping rope or rock climbing. Humans have invented more forms of moving the body in a dynamic way than any other species on this Earth! We are meant to move, not to sit all day. Yet, we love to sit . . . sit in our cars, sit in a meeting, sit at out computers, sit at the table, sit until we have the highest percentage of obesity in human history!

I found the love of the sport of triathlon to get me to sit a lot less. It was the best motivation for me. It’s possible that discovering a new active hobby could make you healthier, happier and more motivated to get in the best shape of your life! If you try some new activity, let me know how it goes. Remember, as Mahatma Gandhi said “You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result.”

Freshen up your workout

If you do the same ol’ same ol’ workout every time you are training, your body has in innate reaction to find the easiest way possible to get from point A to point B. So doing the usual 5 exercises and machines every time you’re at the gym will create a sort of staleness and ultimately, your body won’t benefit from the workout. The rule known as S.A.I.D., which means Specific Adaptations of Imposed Demands, sums up this training theory. Your body adapts to the demands placed on it while you’re training and then you need to increase either the intensity or the volume to improve and see results. So, if you are always using 15-pound dumbbells, now’s the time to up-your-fit to 20!

Here are a few original goodies to throw in your bag of tricks next time you’re working out.

  • The Decline Sideways-walking Push-ups : WATCH THE VIDEO. All you need is a bench of about 12 – 18″ or a lower ledge if you’re just starting out. In the video I do a building repetition but you can do a full pyramid to 1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1.
  • The Russian Plank: WATCH THE VIDEO. Again no equipment necessary, just a nice slow count of five on each lift. This really improves stability and core strength!

Start off moderate with reps and then each session increase the quantity by 2 or more reps to increase the volume. Good luck getting stronger!

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