Belly Up to the Wet Barre with Katrina Brock’s Great Water Workout

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You don’t have to be a prima ballerina to know that barre classes are a red-hot fitness trend right now! These easy-on-the-joints, low-impact workouts consistently delivers a muscle burn that’s anything but girly. Barre is a blend of ballet, Pilates, yoga, body-weight exercises and traditional calisthenics with varying degrees of cardio.  The benefits come from the combined challenge of highly controlled movements and lots (and lots) of reps – you’re guaranteed to get a solid workout packed with core and lower body focus.

With summer upon us and the blazing sun beating down, why go sweat it out in a studio when you can get the same great results in the pool? For years I’ve taught aquatic fitness classes in the pool and yoga, Pilates and barre on land and I thought – why not combine them all?  So I did just that, with a workout called Wet Barre.  Trust me, you’ll be way ahead of the curve with Wet Barre, because I specifically designed it to pair the benefits of barre with the built-in resistance of the water.  Did you know water resistance is 12x that of air?  Yes, indeed.  So an added benefit of the water is that there is virtually no need for resistance equipment (although using aqua gloves is an easy way to increase intensity should you want the added challenge).

For a full body blast while at the pool, I’ve put together a little sampler of some of my favorite Wet Barre moves for you to try.  Are you ready to get off that lounge chair and take the plunge?

Click for the full workout…

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.

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.