As part of our 6 Pack 6 transformation contest, points are received for doing “off day” restorative techniques such as flexibility training and foam rolling.
This short video explains the benefits of foam rolling, and Nancy demonstrates positioning and technique for some lower body work.
The foam roller used in the demonstration is from Perform Better, and I have been very pleased with the durability.
Check out the video, then do your body a favor, and get on a roll!
We’re officially in the midst of another winter season here in New Hampshire. Now I know some people have snowplows and snowblowers, but there are a ton of people who still break out the shovels to get rid of the white stuff. I can’t tell you how many clients of mine have tweaked their backs in their zealous attempts to keep a clear driveway.
Today I am going to reveal my top safe shoveling secrets. For those of you who do not live in New Hampshire like me, you still need to know this information too. This global warming stuff is a weird thing :). It recently snowed in Vegas for the first time in like 25 years!
So, without further adieu, here are my top five safe shoveling tips:
1.) Perform a Proper 5-Minute Warm-up Before Shoveling
Yeah, right! Who’s actually going to do THAT? Well if you want to save yourself some pain, take 5 minutes and give it a try.
Just as very few people properly warm-up before intense exercise, so do many people fail to get their bodies ready for the rigors of shoveling snow. Let’s face it, snow, especially when it’s wet, is a real beast to move around. And if your body is tight and cold then you will dramatically increase your chances of short or long-term injury.
Here’s a great shoveling specific five-minute warm-up to get your body ready to go. There is a special emphasis on opening up the hips and chest to save your back and shoulders, the two most commonly injured areas of broken down shovelers:
Perform each exercise in the following warm-up circuit at a slow, controlled tempo for 50 seconds with a 10 second rest and transition between exercises. Do this warm-up indoors to better increase core temperature and total body blood flow:
Exercise#1- Stationary High Knee Run
Exercise#2- Jumping Claps (modified jumping jacks with arms moving across chest level, palms facing)
Exercise#3- Alternating Forward Lunge, Overhead Reach, and Twist
Exercise#4- Alternating Lateral Lunge with Opposite Hand to Toe Touch
Exercise#5- Prisoner Squats (hands behind head with finger interlocked)
2.) Split Your Stance When Shoveling
Back pain is probably the biggest complaint for those who shovel a lot. In most cases, a sore or tight back stems from restriction at the hips (see the warm-up above to best remedy this). If you shovel with a parallel stance (one leg right next to the other one) you are setting yourself up for some pain However, the simple switch to shoveling with a split stance, where one leg is forward and the other leg is back, will not only help prevent hyper flexion while bending over and moving snow, but will also actively stretch and open up those tight hips at the same time.
3.) Point Your Toes In Same Direction You Are Shoveling
This is a continuation of the last tip. Even when you split your stance, you can be susceptible to injury whenever you perform a rotating back extension (e.g. a shovel toss over your shoulder). So, to further bolster your body, be sure to always shovel snow in the direction that your toes point to minimize excessive spinal rotation that can literally wrench your back.
4.) Shovel EQUALLY to BOTH Sides
This is a further continuation on the last two tips. Another big mistake people make is that they always shovel to their strong sides causing further strength and flexibility imbalances that can put your body at greater risk for injury. Those of you who train with me know that imbalances between the left and right side can cause real problems in your training, and it is no different in every day life. So, we now know you want to split your stance and shovel in the direction your toes are pointing, but you should also be sure do an equal amount of shovel tosses to your left AND right. Do 10 shovel tosses to your left with your left leg forward and then do 10 shovel tosses to your right with your right leg forward. Repeat until your driveway or sidewalk is crystal clear.
5.) Buy a Condo
Or have teenagers around – this is helpful too! Ok, I am joking, if only because shoveling snow is the only activity some people I know get!
Back to reality: The aforementioned tips will go a long way in keeping your body as bulletproof as possible during the next blizzard. Seriously, it’s not really cool to get hurt shoveling. It’s a sign of an even bigger problem: being overweight and/or highly de-conditioned. And if you do get hurt shoveling, be sure to lie when some asks why you’re in a wheelchair. Just tell them you got hit by a snow plow truck, it makes for a better story and your co-workers or friends won’t bust on you for the next six months!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
We had a great time on Christmas Eve Day with our “Christmas Present Wrap-Up” Holiday Workout
Pick a bow – Different Color – Different Exercise
First Team Done (72 Bows) Wins!
The Last Training Session of 2008 is Friday, December 26th.
New Classes Start Monday, January 5th 2009 – Get Your Registration In Today!
2008 is in the rear view mirror, and 2009 is only a couple weeks away. Sadly, it appears as though the fitness industry as a whole has again failed to produce any significant results on a broad scale to effectively reverse the scary obesity epidemic that is plaguing our society. It’s not only adults that are getting fatter and sicker, but our kids too! However, on a positive note, I feel that in 2009 we can make real progress if we take advantage of some exciting breakthroughs that can help provide the long-term answers to solve this ever-growing problem:
Fitness Trend#1- Fitness Boot Camps Will Continue To Increase
One-On-One personal training will always be with us. There is a lot to be recommended with this type of training: The highly focused attention of one-on-one personal training can help an individual focus on a specific goal more readily than group fitness protocols for instance, and some of our clients just prefer one-on-one, and we are happy to accommodate them.
However one-on-one training just doesn’t make sense for many people. Often the price gets in the way, regardless of the value. Others just prefer training in a group envinroment. No problem! Fitness Boot camps are probably the hottest thing in the fitness game right now. Fitness clients are able to better access personal training services in a unique and dynamic team environment that provides better social support and accountability for only a the third of the cost of typical one-on-one training rates.
Fitness boot camps are popping up all over the country, and for good reason. But just because someone calls their program a “bootcamp”, perform due diligence and make sure to join a program with qualified instructors who are getting results with their clients.
Fitness Trend#2- Interval Training Kills Aerobic Training For Improved Fat Loss And Fitness 100% Of The Time
High-Intensity Interval Training is rapidly gaining popularity as the best form of improving both fitness and fat loss. Thankfully, 2009 will see more people doing sprints and less people doing marathons to lose weight. However, make no mistake about it, lots of people are still going to do hours of snail-paced cardio to burn fat.
Aerobic or endurance training is essentially going at a slow, low intensity pace for a long period of time (typically at least 30-60 minutes). In other words, the focus of endurance training is on the total volume of exercise (not quality). Think about all those speed limpers you see every New Year foolishly running for hours pounding the pavement or treadmill to get rid of that winter blubber. Sadly, this results in minimal fat loss and lots of overtraining injuries (e.g. tendinitis).
With interval training, the focus is on the intensity of exercise (quality). Intervals consist of alternating between shorts bouts of all out high-intensity effort and active recovery periods for a much quicker and focused amount of time (typically 10-20 minutes of intervals works best). This approach is scientifically proven to burn nine times more fat AND lead to faster improvements in fitness than the aerobic alternative.
Two landmark scientific studies come to mind here:
The Tabata study compared the effects of four minutes of high-intensity interval training with 45-60 minutes of low to moderate intensity cardio. The interval training group burned just as much fat as the endurance group and also had greater improvement in both anaerobic (think sprinters) and aerobic (think distance runners) fitness… in only four minutes!
The Gibala study compared the effects of 20 minutes of interval training (30 second sprint followed by four minutes of rest) with 90-120 minutes of endurance training in the “heartrate zone.” The conclusions of the study were that both methods of training lead to the same improvements in oxygen utilization (or aerobic fitness). In other words, intervals accomplished what endurance training did from a fitness standpoint in only a sixth of the time!
The time is now to hop off the treadmill and start doing some intervals. Come 2009, do yourself and your body a favor and start sprinting your way to better health and fitness.
Fitness Trend#3- Lean Protein And Fiber Are The Carbohydrate Addict’s Answer For Improved Health, Performance, and Body Composition
Americans are carb addicts. We simply can’t get enough starches and sugars in our diet, and we have the bulging midsections to prove it. One of the biggest misconceptions about diet today is that eliminated starches and sugars from your diet automatically means low carb. There’s more to carbs than bagels and banana splits! Eliminating grains (even whole grains) and refined sugars still allows for consumption of the other carbohydrates: fruits and veggies. These nutrient-dense carbs are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber and create more stable blood sugar levels to keep your body burning fat all day long. All of my clients who have lost the most fat have followed our guidelines of unlimited veggies all day long (besides corn, peas, carrots, beets, and potatoes). In other words, eat lots of veggie carbs, and very little of the other stuff if you want to see your abs!
The overwhelming scientific literature proving the fat burning benefits of a diet high in lean protein and fiber is finally catching the eye of mainstream consumers. Protein is the most important component of each and every meal or snack you consume. It builds and maintains muscle, allows your body to preferentially burn fat, increases metabolism through the thermic effect of feeding, and fills you up. Fiber (ideally obtained from fruits and vegetables, specifically green vegetables) helps slow digestion for a more steady supply of nutrients and sustained energy, it prevents overeating at each meal, and it helps keep you more full between meals. Thus by combining protein and fiber every two to four hours, you provide your body with the optimal one-two belly fat burning punch for a leaner and healthier you.
Without a doubt, people who eat more protein and fruits and veggies next year will reap the rewards of this.
Well, those are the top fitness trends for 2009 according to my crystal ball. I hope the information in this article gives you the push you need to be the trendsetter for your own body and the bodies of those whom you care most about in the New Year!
Fat Loss Forever!
It’s time to dust off the big roasting pan, heat up the oven, and get down to business. That’s right, I’m talking Turkey! Although most of us associate Thanksgiving with bloated bellies and after dinner coma’s on the sofa, don’t you dare blame it on turkey. Heap your scorn on sweet potatoes, put a smack down on stuffing, and pummel all those pies – but leave Terrific Tom Turkey out of it! After all, turkey is jam packed with powerful protein, which simultaneously elevates metabolism and promotes fat burning and lean muscle growth. Turkey is also lean protein source as long as you remove the skin, which makes it twice as nice!
So what’s so important about protein? Protein is the only macronutrient (the others being fat and carbohydrates) responsible for building and repairing your body’s tissue stores. More specifically, adequate, regular protein intake is critical to repair muscle damage from high intensity activities such as strength training and high intensity cardio. If you are not taking in enough protein every two to four hours, you are going to have a challenge maintaining your current muscle, never mind enough for growth and repair.
Why is this important? For the simple fact that the more lean tissue (muscle) you have, the bigger “metabolic engine” you have, which enables you to burn more calories (and fat) on a daily basis. Protein is also the least likely macronutrient to be stored as bodyfat, and it takes your body twice as much energy to digest protein than carbohydrates and dietary fat. Sounds like a win-win to me. If you are going to choose to overeat anything this holiday season and get away with it, turkey is probably going to be it.
Another bonus in adding turkey to your menu is that it easy to prepare and one turkey goes a long way. You can save a ton of time in food preparation by roasting a turkey. You’ll have tons of meal option all week! To inspire your turkey consumption efforts we’ve put together some awesome better body recipes that you can create with turkey as your lean protein foundation. Enjoy!
– 6-8 oz. Turkey Breast chopped into small cubes
– 1/4 red bell pepper
– 1/4 green bell pepper
– 1/4 red onion
– 2 Tbsp canola or olive oil mayo
Mix all ingredients together and enjoy over a bed of greens.
Makes one male serving and two female servings.
Turkey Cranberry Cream Cheese Roll-up
– 6-8 oz. Sliced Turkey
– 1 Tbsp Fat Free Cream Cheese
– 1 Tbsp Dried Cranberries 1?2 Clove of Roasted Garlic Salt and Pepper to taste
– 2 Whole Grain Tortillas
Soak cranberries in water for 20 minutes or microwave until soft if you are short on time. Mash the 1/2 clove of garlic. Mix cranberries, garlic, and cream cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread the mixture into the inside of the tortilla(s). Add turkey breast. Fold up sides, roll up, and enjoy!
Makes one male serving and two female servings.
Turkey Medallions With Cranberry Glaze
– 6-8 oz. Turkey
– Non-stick spray Turkey Seasoning
Cut Turkey Breasts into small medallions, sprinkle lightly with seasoning. Reheat in a pan sprayed with non-stick oil on medium heat until lightly browned on both sides. Drip Cranberry glaze (below) over the medallions.
– 1 Cups Dry white wine
– Turkey or chicken stock, as needed
– 1 1/2 Cups Dried cranberries
– 1/4 Cup of Pine nuts, toasted
– Pinch of Salt
Add 1/2 cup of white wine and 1/2 cup of turkey stock to pan. Add other 1/2 cup of turkey stock, cranberries, pine nuts and pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat until reduced in volume by half, about 4 cups.
Makes one male serving and two female servings.
Turkey Shepherds Pie
– 2 cups cubed cooked turkey
– 3/4 cup turkey gravy
– 1 small can whole kernel corn
– drained 1 cup of chicken stock
– 1 cup of water
– 3 cups steamed cauliflower
– 2 cups celery, chopped 2 carrots
– chopped 1 onion chopped 2 cloves garlic
– minced 1 bell pepper, any color
– chopped Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. First you must make the gravy. Take the garlic, 1 cup of celery, carrots, onion, bell pepper, chicken stock, water, vegetables, salt and pepper to taste. Add to a pot, boil until vegetables are soft and blend in a blender or food processor.
Next, you will take the steamed cauliflower and mash it, or place it in a food processor until the consistency is like that of mashed potatoes.
Next, in a baking dish, layer the turkey, gravy, corn, remaining celery and mashed cauliflower. Bake, uncovered at 325 degrees for 45-50 minutes.
Makes 2 male servings and one female serving.
– 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach
– 2 tablespoons smart butter
– 1 cup cooked whole grain fettuccine
– 2 cups diced, cooked turkey
– 1 cup turkey or chicken stock 1
– (8 ounce) package fat free sour cream and onion dip
– 1/2 teaspoon onion salt
– 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
– Non-stick cooking spray
Cook spinach according to package directions; drain. Stir in smart butter. Place noodles in a non-stick sprayed baking dish; top with spinach. Combine turkey, stock, onion dip and onion salt and spoon over spinach. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, at 325 degrees F for 25 minutes or until bubbly.
Turkey Green Bean Casserole
– 1 bag of frozen green beans
– 6-8 oz. of cubed cooked turkey breast
– 1 can of organic cream of mushroom soup
– 2 cups Kraft all natural fat free cheese
– Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients into a casserole dish and bake for about 30 minutes or until completely hot. Makes one male serving and two female servings.
Fat Loss Forever,
As a former fat kid and a current real world fat loss specialist who has helped tons of people lose the pounds, I know a thing or two about exercise selection. Because of this I am often asked what the best exercises are to lose fat AND gain muscle fast.
Let’s keep it simple. The most effective exercises for fat loss are also the most effective exercises for muscle gain and visa versa. These exercises all have one thing in common: they provide a UNIQUE challenge to your body AND involve as many muscles in your body as possible.
Both the scientific research and the real world case studies have shown that total body workouts are superior for maximal fat loss and muscle gain. But that’s not all…
We can dramatically accelerate results by preferentially selecting TOTAL BODY EXERCISES within each TOTAL BODY WORKOUT! For example, squats are well known for being one of the best muscle-builders with a serious a fat-shredding effect. However, the squat goes from great to UNSTOPPABLE for changing your body for the better when you make it a combination movement by adding a row or press to each repetition. You can absolutely reap more benefits this way since you have now involved your upper body into the king of lower body exercises.
It’s as simple as the Best Body Equation below:
Performing Total Body Exercises Within Each Total Body Workout:
More Muscles Involved =
More Calories Burnt + Greater Muscle-Building Stimulus =
Greater Fat Lost + Greater Muscle Gain
I must be honest in that I have a true love-hate relationship with the following movements I am about to share with you. Love because of the unparalleled fat-melting, muscle-building results they provide to help get that lean, strong body. Hate because they break me every single workout by leaving me in tears while in a pool of my own sweat. In other words, these are not for the weak of mind, body, or soul!
Alright, enough jabbering already! Here is the official top 10 list of my favorite exercises in the world for fat loss and lean muscle gain:
Exercise#1- Any Squatting Combination Exercise- Squat Thrust/Burpee Variations, Squat to Overhead Press, Squat to Row, Squat to Chest Press, Braced Core Squat, Single-Leg Squat plus Curl to Press, etc.
Exercise#2- The Swing- Dumbbells, Kettlebells, Med Balls, or Sandbags
Exercise#3- Any Lunge Combination Exercise- Alternating Lunge plus Curl to Press, Alternating Lunge plus Twist, Alternating Lunge plus Chest Press, Alternating Reverse Lunge plus Row, Split Jump plus Jerk, Split Jump plus Curl etc.
Exercise#4- Any Push-Up Combination Exercise- Push-ups plus Knee-Ins, Push-up Rows, T-Push-Ups, Spiderman Push-ups, Squat Thrust Push-Ups, Four-Way Push-up Crawl, etc.
Exercise#5- The Chop- Dumbbells, Kettlebells, Med Balls, Bands, or Sandbags
Exercise#6- Olympic Lifting Variations: Dumbbell or Kettlebell Cleans, Snatches, High Pulls
Exercise#7- Dynamic Back Pillar plus 1-Arm Dumbbell Chest Press
Exercise#8- Rear Foot Elevated Deadlift plus Curl to Press
Exercise#9- Med Ball Snatch-Slam Combo
Exercise#10- Dumbbell or Kettlebell Single-Leg RDL plus Row
I’ll be sharing some more great exercises for those specific trouble spot areas (e.g. legs, butt, abs, chest, arms, etc.) in the days to come.
To your best health,
In the past, the cornerstone of most resistance training workouts has been performing exercises in a straight set format. Essentially, this means you perform a certain number of reps, then you rest anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes based on your training goals before repeating this set a certain number of times based on your goals. If you were looking for fat loss and lean muscle gain shorter rest periods were thought to be ideal. For more of a strength or power emphasis, longer rest periods were prescribed.
So, what’s the problem with this format? Well, though straight sets are extremely easy to comprehend for people new to fitness, they can also be an extremely inefficient way to order your exercises. In most gyms you’ll typically see someone perform three sets of 10 reps for let’s say the bench press (You do know Every Monday is National Bench Press Day, Right?). They pump out 10 reps, go to the water fountain, talk with some buddies, watch a couple of highlights on ESPN, and then head back to the bench to hit up their second set. In general, most people, guys in particular, tend to take about 3-5 minutes between sets. In the case of three sets of 10 on the bench that means it would take up to 15 minutes to complete only one movement pattern (a horizontal push). That means you’d need at least in hour to perform four different exercises. If your goal is to win a bench press competition, you might choose to train this way. However if fat loss is your goal, there is a much better way!
A much more effective and time-efficient approach to ordering your exercises is utilizing the alternating set format. Here you’ll perform one exercise, rest for a short period of time, then perform another non-competing exercise, rest for a short period of time, and so forth. Alternating sets allow you to work different areas of your body when you would otherwise be resting with the straight set format. Plus, by working another area of your body with a non-competing exercise you allow your body to recover from the previous exercise(s). The result is improved training economy and density: more work accomplished in less time, which is the cornerstone of any sound fat loss program. Let’s look at a few ways to perform alternating sets:
Though supersets and trisets are excellent alternating set options, I believe circuit training is by the far the best option time and time again. To demonstrate why, let’s examine my favorite circuit training template using timed set intervals:
The 50-10 Five Exercise Circuit: You will alternate between 50 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest for all five exercises in the following 5-minute circuit:
Perform this circuit up to four times for a 20-minute total body fat burning workout.
Basically, in the same 15 minutes that it took to get in three sets on the bench you could have gotten in three sets of five different exercise for a staggering total of 15 work sets! Plus, the intensity on each exercise can be just as high as in the straight set format because in this five exercise circuit you will have full recovery with over four minutes before you return to any given exercise (just as you did with the straight set format described earlier).
To recap, the key to creating the optimal hormonal environment for fat loss is to perform each exercise with maximal intensity while separated by brief rest periods in order to accumulate a high volume of total body work in the shortest amount of time possible. Circuit training provides for the best of both worlds and is thus simply unmatched for simultaneously maximizing fat loss and lean muscle gain. Use the following template I use with my many boot camp clients for some killer, yet simple fat loss circuits:
I’ll be sharing some more great circuit training workouts from our boot camps in the weeks to come.
Fat Loss Forever,