The Greatest Fitness Book Never Written…

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I was talking with a friend the other day who also works as a trainer and we were talking about the reoccurring cycle we see throughout the year. January brings a renewed interest in fitness and wishes to shed the gains of the previous year. Most clients stay strong through the month before easing back off  when the excuses begin. Typically beginning with the Superbowl, moving into Valentines Day, bring on lines like, “It’s just one day, it won’t hurt,” even though those leftover wings and dips, chocolates and sweets carry on for the next week. Add the cold weather factor this time of the year when it’s easy to hide these slips under a few stylishly planned layers until “Holy crap it’s almost spring break!!!” Clients reengage and promise to commit once again to logging their meals and following through with their solo workouts and cardio during the week. It’s no different than cramming for a test in that this maximized effort is for a short term purpose. Working to fit back into that swimsuit rather than working to stay in it. By this time of the year we’ve seen Spring Break, St. Patrick’s Day, March Madness, Cinco de Mayo and other “It’s just one day or one week, I’ll get back at it as soon as (fill in the blank)” pressures come and go and many clients find themselves frustrated to be right back where they were before the new year began. These frustrations lead to misguided beliefs that they don’t have the ability to reach their goals because “it runs in the family”, slow metabolism, low testosterone, thyroid and other self-diagnosed “reasons”. Some even shift the responsibility on to us, the trainers, blaming the style of training because Joe and Jane Blow did something else and they look great. No, Joe and Jane set goals, DESIRED to reach them and did not quit even once they got there.

I wrote back around the first of the year about making resolutions stick. It’s equally frustrating to a trainer to see clients struggle with these things throughout the year and especially year after year as it is for the clients themselves  It would be very easy to say “Quit putting crap in your mouth,” but it’s deeper than that. Most people simply attack goal setting in the wrong way or too ambiguously, setting themselves up to fail. Others wish and want to achieve their goals, but they don’t DESIRE to achieve them. One of the greatest books on setting, attaining and maintaining fitness goals won’t be found in the health, sports and exercise, or even the self-help section. You’ll find it in the business section.

Think_and_grow_rich_original_coverIn 1937, Napoleon Hill wrote the book, and later video, “Think and Grow Rich”, containing the 16 “laws” of achieving success, modeled after individuals such as Andrew Carnegie, Edwin C. Barnes and Marshal Field. Success in a fitness and wellness program are said to be 80-90% nutrition and the rest hard work and rest. But, without starting on a firm foundation, you lack the inner voice reminding you what you are doing this for. That voice that doesn’t let you skip a workout or tells you that this weekends drinking binge and gastro-disaster are ok because you can make up for it next week. To truly succeed, you need more than wishes and wants. It has to be bigger than just reaching a goal. DESIRE is about the climb, reaching the top and remaining the king or queen of the mountain. Only when we get to  and remain at the peak can we look out for that next summit that is just a little bit higher to set our sights on next.

Hill writes that “the method by which DESIRE for riches can be transmuted into its financial equivalent, consists of six definite, practical steps…” These steps translate directly into how we set our goals for fitness and wellness. It begins with fixing in your mind exactly on what it is you are trying to achieve. It is not enough to simply say “I want to get in shape.”

First: Be definite on your goal.

Second: Determine exactly what you intend to give in return for the results you DESIRE.

Third: Establish a definite date when you intend to possess the results you DESIRE.

Fourth: Create a definite plan for carrying out your DESIRE and begin at once, whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action.

Fifth: Write out a clear concise statement on the results you intend to achieve, name the time limit for them, state what you intend to give in return and describe clearly the plan through which you intend to reach the goal.

Sixth: Read your written statement aloud, twice daily, once just before going to bed, and once when you wake in the morning. As you read this each time, visualize yourself already having achieved your goal. Feel and believe to yourself how you would feel as if you had already achieved your goal. This psychological imprinting is the crucial difference between your wants/wishes and true DESIRE.

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Bonus – BURN YOUR SHIPS and Create a BURNING DESIRE: Hill tells the story that “A long while ago, a great warrior faced a situation which made it necessary for him to make a decision which insured his success on the battlefield. He was about to send his armies against a powerful foe, whose men outnumbered his own. He loaded his soldiers into boats, sailed them to the enemy’s country, unloaded soldiers and equipment, then gave them the order to burn the ships that had carried them. Addressing his men before the first battle, he said, “You see the boats going up in smoke. That means that we cannot leave these shores alive unless we win! We now have no choice, we win or we perish!” They won.

Make your goals public, whether that be with your spouse or family, co-workers, Facebook etc. Share your statement above with them as well as your progress along the way identifying trouble areas and upcoming potential to slip and fall. Establishing partners in accountability holds you to your DESIRE, effectively eliminating sources of retreat before reaching your goal.

– Michael

Summertime Fitness – Hydration and Electrolytes

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With summer officially in full swing, it’s prime time to address hydration and specifically clear up some confusion about electrolytes; what they are, where they come from and America’s “drinking problem” of turning to sports drinks as a source. 

What are Electrolytes?

Chemically, electrolytes are either positively or negatively charged particles that, much like ends of a magnet, either attract or repel each other and other particles within the body. This quality helps regulate many processes, most importantly transport across cellular membranes.

Huh?

Let’s drop the science for a bit and drop some real life knowledge on what this means. Think of the last time you were out at the club. Most likely there was security at the door regulating who came in and how fast the line moved (membrane transport.) Once inside, additional staff patrol the floor helping maintain the cool in the club (homeostasis), as well as escorting out those who have had a little too much to drink and have worn out their welcome (metabolic wastes) and those who never should have been allowed to enter in the first place like the creep on the corner with the sunglasses yellin for more Jagah’bombs (free radicals and other foreign substances.) Frequently, the club will reach capacity and the rate new patrons are allowed to enter is strictly regulated and based on the frequency and volume of guests exiting. The club owners want enough guests in the club to ensure maximum profitability, but not so many that other guests or over crowded or that the club itself becomes unsafe. This is a perfect example of the sodium-potassium pumps that play a huge roll in homeostasis within the cells by ensuring that sufficient nutrients enter to maintain cellular function, but not allowing the cellular membrane to burst from excessive intracellular pressure.

The Sports Drink Dilemma…

Sports drinks such as Gatorade, Powerade, Vitamin Water and others typically are misbelieved to be the best source of electrolytes and rehydration. While they can work and even be recommended in extreme circumstances for athletes that perform at a very high intensity as well as emergency situations of dehydration and malnourishment, for the rest of us there is one answer to staying hydrated and rehydrating, WATER. First and foremost, like most other nutrients, if your diet and lifestyle are balanced, you are getting sufficient electrolytes from the foods you eat. To rehydrate, you simply need to drink more water, period.

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It is pretty common knowledge that Gatorade and Powerade are loaded with sugar and other nasties. But Vitamin Water is one of the most deliberately misleading products on the market. Reading the label you don’t have to look very far to see that sugar is the second ingredient listed. But wait, it only says it has 13 grams, is that so bad? Look again, that’s 13 grams per serving. At 2.5 servings per bottle that most people drink easily in one sitting, that’s 32.5 grams of sugar per bottle, right up there with many soft drinks. Keep reading and you see many of the same acidic ingredients that with the sugar contribute to tooth decay and other metabolic issues.

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Electrolytes in Food…

Sodium and chloride are found together in foods as NaCl (aka salt) and work mainly in the body as discussed above to maintain fluid balance and cellular function. Common foods containing sodium and chloride are beef, pork, cured meats like sardines, cheese, olives and other pickled items. If you are still eating processed foods, most are made with additional salt, like in the case of deli meats, chips and other snacks, nuts, butter, margarine, mayonnaise and many condiments.

Potassium is found in lots of fruits and veggies,  especially green leafy ones like spinach, turnip greens, collard greens and kale, the obvious favorite bananas, tomatoes, oranges, melons, potatoes and sweet potatoes, prunes, raisins, peas and beans. Potassium also helps to regulate blood pressure and prevent bone loss and kidney stones as well as its work in cellular function.

Magnesium, like the others is found in green leafy veggies as well as nuts, legumes and tomatoes. This powerhouse electrolyte also supports bone and teeth development, nerve and muscle function and the activation of enzymes in the body thus supporting other necessary functions in the body.

Hungry for More?

Jump over to Motility Training for Tom Holland’s 6 HOT Tips for Cool Summer Workouts

Major Step in the Obesity Epidemic

The American Medical Association announced today that it will begin recognizing  obesity as a disease. A chronic disease has been defined by the National Institutes of Health as “the basis of the biomedical disease classification” including other diseases such as diabetes, asthma and depression. Until now, obesity has been viewed as a chronic illness, the “personal experience of living with the affliction that often accompanies chronic disease.” Because of this, obesity was not recognized by the health care field as a condition that “fit into a biomedical or administrative classification.”

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Obesity by the Numbers

America, by a huge margin, leads the world in obesity with 92,000,000 Americans with a BMI greater than 30%. Read that again, NINETY-TWO MILLION Americans are currently obese. 66% of Americans over the age of 20 are overweight and 33% are obese according to United States Obesity Statistics as of May 2013.

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What Does the New Designation Mean?

Although the AMA is not the end-all-be-all regarding disease recognition legally,  their statement, “RESOLVED, That our American Medical Association recognize obesity as a disease state with multiple pathophysiological aspects requiring a range of interventions to advance obesity treatment and prevention,”  is huge as it will pave the way for further studies and legislation that may result in more weight management, nutrition, health and wellness treatments being recognized and covered by health care insurance and other programs.

 

There is still much work to be done such as standardizing means of identifying and defining what it means exactly to be obese as the classic BMI system contains some arbitrary classifications that don’t take into other factors such as metabolic conditions etc. I’ll definitely be following this one closely.

– Michael

 

Tom Holland’s Motility Circuit

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Check out this great workout from my friends over at Motility Training. Tom Holland is a 21-time Ironman, author and national fitness celebrity. An exercise physiologist who has built his life and career on a commitment to helping people better their lives through fitness, Holland has encouraged and coached thousands of people to reach their fitness goals. He holds a BA in Communications from Boston College and a Master’s Degree in Exercise Science and Sports Psychology from Southern Connecticut State University.

THE MOTILITY TRAINING OUTDOOR CIRCUIT #1

Summer is right around the corner and this is a great time to mix things up by taking a few of your weekly workouts outside. This will serve to add variation to your program which we know is essential to overall fitness success, both mentally and physically.

You don’t need any equipment whatsoever to get in a quality full-body workout. By being creative you can hit all of your major muscle groups without lugging so much as a dumbbell. Remember, the most basic exercises are generally the most effective at altering your body composition.

The following is a great 45-minute program that combines both cardiovascular and strength training exercises into one workout. This is really fun to do with a friend or two at your local park.
Get the full workout here!

Ancestral Fitness… How Far We’ve Come…

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With so much focus on ancestral diets, it is important to note that the nutrition piece is only part if resyncing ourselves with out genetic coding. Physical activity has no doubt decreased in modern society as we continue to advance technologically.

The dreams of the past of when computers and machines would make our lives much easier and increase the quality of living did not come true for most of us. Now don’t get me wrong, sure we can communicate at lightning fast speeds, automate production and travel more efficiently (even though I’m still waiting for my hover board from Back to the Future.) But, as our technological means have increased, so have the expectations of our production. We are working as many, if not more hours than before except now we are tethered to our devices sitting at desks, on planes, trains or in automobiles. Even the visit to a cubicle down the row has been replaced with a text message or email. Add in the morning and afternoon commutes, it’s no wonder over 35% of Americans are now obese. Read that again, over 35% of Americans are obese, not just overweight.

While it would be true to say that America has gotten lazy and simply let the blame lie there, in many cases we have actually just hoarded too many to-dos and are left with our time management cluttered and we don’t know where or how to fit functional fitness into our routines. We’ve forgotten how to move.

Regardless of ones view on the evolution vs creation debate, our ability to move is not only something we should not take for granted, it is a gift we should celebrate as a species! I mean, can you think of another animal on this planet capable of what we are? Crawling, walking, running, jumping, ducking, dodging, climbing, swimming, diving, pulling, pushing, lifting, throwing, catching etc… And with the correct apparati, you can even throw gliding and flying in there. You get my point, we are truly the Swiss Army Knife of biological organisms.

I’m really excited to spend the next several weeks revisiting a study done by the esteemed Dr. Loren Cordain (pioneer of the paleo movement) and colleagues on how fitness was incorporated in the lives of our ancestors and why it is still possible, and critically necessary, to revive this “movement” in our lives today.

How to Motivate Yourself to Workout in the Morning…

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Exercise benefits, such as weight control, sleeping better, improving mood and reducing the risk of diseases and health conditions, such as stroke, high cholesterol, arthritis and certain cancers, might not be enough motivation to get in an early morning workout. If you’re not a morning person, you might have to make small adjustments to your lifestyle to help motivate you to get up and work up a sweat.

1. Schedule a set time each morning for your workout so it becomes routine. Write your exercise sessions on your calendar as if they’re important appointments that you can’t reschedule or miss. According to the University of Virginia Health System, regular morning exercise sessions can more easily form a habit than exercise habits later in the day.

2. Exercise with a friend so your workout becomes more of a social engagement, which might make waking up early less difficult. Knowing that your friend is waiting for you, obligates you to show up. Alternatively, schedule morning exercise sessions with a personal trainer. He’ll hold you accountable so you can get your money’s worth.

3. Sleep seven to nine hours each night as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation. Getting enough sleep and feeling fully rested can make it easier to wake up early for exercise. Go to bed and wake up at the same times each day and develop a bedtime routine, such as reading a book or taking a bath, to unwind before going to sleep.

4. Incorporate exercise that you enjoy into your workout routine. If exercise is fun, it might be easier to wake up at the crack of dawn and you’ll look forward to it. Try different types of exercise to find out what you like — yoga, group sports, swimming, bike riding and aerobics and dance classes are all options.

5. Set realistic goals and reward yourself for achieving them. A realistic goal might be to start exercising for 30 minutes on three mornings per week. At the end of each week, reward yourself — get a massage, buy new workout clothes or see a movie. The extra incentive helps keep you motivated to workout early in the morning.

10 Keys to Performance

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By Jon Gilson of Again Faster

Crossfit is extraordinary in its breadth. The physical tasks we undertake are remarkable for their constant variation and immutable intensity.

To the beginning Crossfitter, the sheer size of the curriculum can be daunting. You’ll learn Olympic lifts, gymnastics, sprinting, kettlebell swings, medicine ball work, basic nutrition, and a hundred other things. Crossfit has combined these modalities and a good dose of creativity to develop an inclusive model of fitness programming. 

In an effort to make Crossfit a little easier to deal with, here are the things you need to know to become an elite athlete. Everything else will come with time.



1.) Virtuosity: Do every rep correctly, every time. Virtuosity is the pursuit of perfection. Become a stickler for form, and you will reap the benefits of Crossfit extremely quickly.



2.) Consistency: Get out of bed. Go to the gym. Get in the habit of showing up.

3.) Intensity: Strive to minimize the amount of time you spend resting in the middle of each workout. The less you rest, the stronger you’ll become. Your workout times will plummet, and your health will skyrocket. Go hard!



4.) Nutrition: Eat enough calories to support vigorous exercise. Not eating is not a solution. Avoid alcohol, starch, and sugar like the plague. Eat lean meats, vegetables, low-GI fruits, and good fats. Fat is necessary for athletic performance–get it from almonds, avocados, olive oil, and fish oil. The best way to maintain a good diet? Clear all the crap out of your cupboards, and never ever buy it again.

5.) Sleep: Sleep is essential to your athletic development. When you sleep, you heal. Progress is a constant give and take between breaking down and building up–exercise breaks you down and sleep builds you up. Give your body the fuel it needs to heal–lean protein and fat immediately before bed will keep you in a good physiological state to burn fat and build muscle all night long. Sleep at least 8 hours every night. Make it a priority.

6.) Rest: Don’t exercise every day. You’ll burn out. Schedule rest days after every two or three days of heavy training. You can speed up healing with ice, compression, mobility work, and good supplementation.

7.) Instruction: Spend money on quality trainers, reading materials, seminars, and certifications. A few hundred bucks here and there will accelerate your gains much faster than advice from the counter guy at Gold’s. 



8.) Comfort: Stray from the known path. Approach new skills as an opportunity to learn, not an opportunity to fail. The best athletes in the world spend all day working on their weaknesses, not reinforcing their strengths.



9.) Goals: Write everything down. Set goals and work to meet them every day. Look back over your progress, and change what needs to be changed.

10.) Stress: Your body doesn’t distinguish between training stress and life stress. Minimize life stress to maximize your progress.

None of this is earth-shattering. Incorporate these tenets in your training, one by one. Follow them 90% of the time, and you’ll find yourself at the top of the scoreboard each and every week.

Learning the Art of Kipping

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For those new to or have never experienced CrossFit, at first glance, kipping pull-ups may seem like cheating – or maybe even a spastic type of pull-up (Picture that scrawny little band nerd in gym class growing up, pretty easy for me because I was him)– but they’re not.

Kipping pull-ups allow more work to be done in less time, thus increasing power output and metabolic conditioning, (MetCon). It’s also a full-body coordination movement that, when performed correctly, applies more functionally to real-life pulling skills. Last but not least, the hip motion of an effective kip mirrors the motion of the Olympic lifts, adding to its function as a posterior-chain developer (back, glutes and hamstrings).

If you’re not convinced that kipping pull-ups hold reverence in the fitness realm, I challenge you to attempt running or jogging without the use of your arms. Running and kipping pull-ups are both movements in which the entire body should be used to perform work, and the results will speak for themselves.

This is one of the best videos I’ve seen yet breaking the movement down to the basics from the ground to the bar, or rings.

‘I Drank the CrossFit Kool-Aid ‘ by Bob Harper

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When I was first introduced to CrossFit, I found it to be the hardest workout that I’d ever done. It wiped the floor with me, and I fell in love with it immediately. The results that I have seen in my strength and physicality have been unparalleled to any other things I have ever done in my more than 20 years in the fitness business. I drank the CrossFit Kool-Aid.

I’ve been doing CrossFit for about 18 months now, and it all started because I was looking to try to bring something new onto my show for just one episode. There was a lot of talk about CrossFit, so I thought I’d give it a go. The rest was history. I walked into a box called Brick CrossFit in West Hollywood, and I got my ass handed to me. It was love at first burpee, and I’ve been hooked ever since, and now I incorporate this workout as my primary way to work out my contestants on The Biggest Loser.I believe in it that much.

Since I started CrossFit, I’ve read and heard about the critics talk about how unsafe it is, and my only response to that is any form of exercise can be unsafe if you don’t have the proper coaching, education and guidance. CrossFit is all about constantly-varied, high-intensity movements. And to do these movements, you have to have a certified coach to take you through this — or any type of physical activity.

I came from an endurance background of fitness that consisted of a lot of running, cycling and lighter resistance training. I created so much wear and tear on my body, not to mention that I was just getting bored with my workouts. I am 47 years old and am stronger than I have ever been with CrossFit. My metabolic conditioning is better, because I’m moving larger loads faster and for a shorter amount of time. There are some days that, with the exception of skill work in a session, my workouts can last only 10 minutes or less, and I love that.

I would tell anyone who is considering CrossFit as a workout option for them to make sure that the affiliate that they go to really has the knowledgeable coaches that are required to guide you through WODs (workout of the day) that consist of metabolic conditioning, gymnastics, Olympic lifting (my personal favorite) and power lifting. The CrossFit program is broad, general and inclusive, and most of all, the movements can be scaled down to any level of athlete. Just watch what I do with it on The Biggest Loser.

Image from Peter Lueders, from the April 2013 Issue of the Box Magazine, which features Bob Harper.

Training Zone… Lean Muscle Mass

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From our friends at flirtandfitness.com

What does it take to build lean muscle mass? You have to put your body into what’s known as an anabolic state”, and this article will show you the three most important “anabolic activators” there are.

Anabolic Activator #1: Intense Strength Training

You need to do some form of exercise with intensity in order to stimulate your body into building lean muscle mass. You do this by  strength training.

There’s lots of ways to do strength training, I recommend you start out with body-weight exercises… then move onto free weight exercises… doing a balanced and total body program like DoubleYourGains’ 3-5 program to get your body into “anabolic mode”.

When you put your body under stress, all your muscles under stress it signals your body that “we need more muscle to perform the stuff you want to do!” THAT is the goal of your training.

Anabolic Activator #2: Intense Cardio

This will really help your goal of gaining LEAN muscle mass. The key is to do cardio a little differently than you might be used to…

Instead of doing long distance, steady-state aerobics (like running on the treadmill for 45 minutes to an hour)… you should adopt cardio activities that are anaerobic in nature… which means you do intense bursts of activity, followed by periods of longer “active rests”.

An example would be sprinting all out at your fastest pace for 20 seconds… then jogging for up to a minute… then sprinting, etc… this is what’s known as “interval training” and the benefits are second to none.

I’ve written more about interval training here. But suffice it to say interval training will help you keep the fat burning while you’re building lean muscle mass… because you’re going to be eating a LOT to build muscle.

Anabolic Activator #3: Eating Correctly For Lean Muscle Gain

Most guys who want to build muscle simply do not eat enough. It seems easy right? Just eat! But the truth is: you have to know WHEN to eat to make your body most likely to build lean muscle.

What’s the best time? For 30 minutes up to 4 hours after your workouts (both strength training and cardio) is what is known as the “post workout window of opportunity” because the fuel for  your body is so depleted from your intense workouts… that nearly all of the food you consume in this period goes directly into your muscle cells.

What happens then? Well, instead of the extra calories going towards fat gain, those extra calories are instead FEEDING your lean muscle mass gains… so if you eat a lot of calories during this time period, you have a much better chance of building muscle instead of gaining fat.

Other unique ways of getting your body to use your food more anabolically is by adopting intermittent fasting. I like the warrior diet approach (when I’m maintaining or dropping weight) and the Lean Gains approach when I want to build lean muscle mass.