Who Says Working Out Has to Be So Darn Hard?

That’s kind of a surprising statement.

Aren’t you supposed to go to the gym, feel the burn, work up a sweat, and drag your butt home.

Maybe.

Maybe not.

What if I’m trying to get really strong? Am I going to be on the same program as someone trying to burn off that spare tire? Not if I want to make progress.

And that’s the key: Progress. The making of.

Too many of us go to the gym day after day, week after week, month after month and make negligible progress. Same old workout, same old results, or lack thereof.

Here’s a novel way to approach working out, or rather, training:

Pick a very specific goal and set a time frame to achieve that goal.

Now, as my friend Brett Jones, Master Kettlebell Instructor (MRKC) says, “What’s the least you can do and still make progress?”

Interesting question to say the least.

Let’s say I’ve gotten as strong as I wanted and put on a couple of extra pounds of unwanted fat in the process. I want to take it off.

How do I “work out” without making it “hard?”

I know, I can hear you now–“no pain, no gain!” and all that.

But seriously, what if I could use a training protocol that didn’t crush me into oblivion–you know, one that made me sweat buckets, wanna throw up, and drag my butt home?

Here’s what I would do:

I would find the exercises I’m really good at, the ones I like a lot. You know the ones, although yours are probably different than mine. Then, I’d find the exercises I suck at, the ones I hate doing, and I’d do those instead, not to failure, but I’d try to make myself fairly proficient at those. And I’d do a lot of very high quality repetitions, none to failure, as mentioned previously.

Radical idea, but hear me out.

So here’s my example:

Exercises I love: Squats, Deadlifts, Power Cleans, Military Presses, Pull-ups, those types of exercises.

Exercises I hate: Lunges, Step ups, Push-ups, Rows, unilateral upper body dumbbell work…those types of things.

Then, I’d build a circuit, keep the reps very manageable, again, not to failure, probably about 50-75% of the total number of reps I could do in one set, and I’d do multiple sets.

Here’s how:

A. Alternating lunges, 6-8 reps each

B. Push-ups, 6-8 reps

C. Step-ups, 6-8 reps each

D.  Alternating dumbbell rows, 6-8 reps each

Then, I’d compete against myself, trying to make this workout “fun.” I’d set a timer for 20 minutes and I’d see how many rounds of this circuit I could get done, in the highest quality manner as possible. I’d record this number, and try to beat it again the next time. And so on…

I would constantly strive to complete more and more rounds in the same amount of time. (This is referred to as “density training,” as popularized by coaches like Ethan Reeve at Wake Forrest University and Charles Staley in Arizona.)

Now, the workout isn’t so darn hard. I actually have a goal, a target to achieve, and a way to measure progress.

Try it out and let me know what you think…

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Realistic Expectations

How realistic are your expectations in proportion to your stated goals?

Have you ever thought of that?

Admittedly, most of us have not.

This explains why many people fail in ever achieving their goals.

The key to achieving BIG goals is to be unrealistic in your expectations.

What’s the MOST you can do and then “dial it back” from there.

For example, just about everybody goes on a diet. Just about everybody fails.

Why? They think about the absolute minimum that they will do and then do even less. Eventually, they are doing nothing productive at all and drift back into old patterns and habits and ways of thinking.

Dream BIG!

You want to lose weight?

Big Deal.

You want to lose 20lbs of fat by Memorial Day so you look hot in that bikini on the beach and all the guys stare at you? NOW we’re talking!

You’re willing to commit to changing the way you currently work out and do exactly the opposite–give up the “Pump and Tone” class three nights a week and step back in the “free weights” area with the big guys? NOW we’re talking!

You’re willing to go from skipping breakfast, eating lunch at McDonald’s, and eating a bowl of cereal for dinner to preparing a menu, shopping at the grocery store, preparing 5 meals every night for the following day, and training hard for 3 hours a week using workouts that challenge your whole body to build muscle and burn fat?? NOW we’re talking!

Be UNREALISTIC.

Think about the maximum, the optimum, what you really want, and stop settling for less.

Here’s how you can get started right now:

  1. Dream BIG. Pick a big goal. One that really moves you.
  2. Take 15 minutes and actually THINK about everything you need to do to achieve that goal. Keep a pen and pad of paper ready and write all this down.
  3. Now take another 15 minutes and THINK about your life and your behaviors. Think about the actions and habits you will need to change in order to achieve your goal. Write it on the same pad of paper
  4. Take another 15 minutes and formulate a plan of action to implement your changes.
  5. Take immediate action!

That’s it–there’s nothing stopping you except you!

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More Keys to Success

We recently had an election and many people decided they needed a change. President Obama ran his platform on “change” and the majority of the body politic elected him based on that platform.

Your body, like the body politic, also requires change to succeed in achieving your goals.

This is the key to seeing results in any fitness program–forcing change to provoke adaptation. Adaptation, after all, is what we are after. Fat loss is adaptation. Gaining muscle is adaptation. Getting stronger is adaptation. The key in forcing adaptation is overloading your body through different mechanisms. Because if you always do the same thing, your body isn’t forced to adapt and no change occurs.

Here are some ways you can force your body to adapt to get results:

  • Increase the quality of your work
  • Add sets to your exercises
  • Decrease rest between your exercises
  • Add reps to your sets
  • Exercise more frequently, but with a very high quality

These are just some quick ideas.

Here’s a quick idea for fat loss:

Put a circuit together with 4 or 5 exercises, here’s an example:

Lunges

Push-ups

Squats

Pull-ups

Then rest 60 seconds after each circuit.

Now specify your reps–lets say 10 reps each, because all great programs start with 10 reps, right 😉 (that’s sarcasm, of course…)

And let’s set a rest time for 60 seconds between each exercise, and 4 sets of each exercise.

Now, keep the weight constant, and every time you perform the circuit, you will shave 10 seconds off the rest between each exercise: 60s, then 50s, then 40s, then 30s, then 20s, then 10s until you have no rest between any of them. The only rest that will remain constant is the rest between circuits–60 seconds.

This will increase your heart rate dramatically and force your body to adapt to your intended goal by burning more calories not only during exercise, but after it, as one of the results of this type of program is an elevated metabolism long after your workouts.

So remember, one of the keys to success in any fitness program is overload. Overload produces adaptation and adaptation produces results.

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Little Steps = Big [Fat Loss] Success

It’s often said that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

I don’t know who said that, but there sure is a lot of wisdom in that statement.

Too many people get frustrated with the idea of losing weight, or fat, because of THREE main reasons:

  1. They don’t have a clear vision of EXACTLY what they want to accomplish
  2. Because of #1, they don’t have a clearly thought through or written plan to execute
  3. Because of #2, they don’t know how or where to really move to ensure their success so they move randomly in a non-committed fashion

So, in order to get started with any goal, ESPECIALLY a fat loss program, you need to spend some time THINKING about what you REALLY want to accomplish.

But that’s not enough.

You need to have some compelling EMOTIONAL reasons to achieve your goal.

Here are some examples–the wrong way and the right way to get started:

The Wrong Way:

I want to lose some weight…

The RIGHT Way:

I want to lose 20lbs of fat, get into my size 34 waist pants, gain 5lbs of muscle, in 15 weeks, because I’m tired of seeing a fat slob in the mirror–and not only that, I want to be able to be proud of my body when I go on my vacation to the beach this June. I am willing to commit to changing my eating habits and exercising 3 hours per week under the careful guidance of a professional in order to accomplish my goals.

See the difference?

The first is non-specific and non-committal. There’s no plan of action. Because of such, there’s minimal if any chance of long term success.

The second is very specific and includes the following:

  • specific numbers
  • emotional reasons for change
  • a time frame
  • a plan of action

So what can you do RIGHT NOW in order to ensure that you can achieve fat burning success?

  1. Be specific about what it is that you really want. Write it down. In detail.
  2. Be realistic about what you are willing to do to achieve it. Be realistic. Make sure you consider what behavior changes you will have to make and how those changes will impact those around you (i.e.: your family) and whether you and they can “pay the price” (emotionally, economically, etc.) of those changes
  3. Research those who know more than you about the subject you are looking to change–in this case, fat loss. Let them help you achieve success. For example, don’t have a Financial Advisor manage your money who is filing for bankruptcy…(I did that once–the bankruptcy was something I learned after the relationship had been established and I quickly exited that situation!)
  4. Commit to changing. This may be painful. It most certainly will be uncomfortable at first as you learn new behaviors and seek to implement new habits. Don’t worry though–if you stick with it, the process WILL get easier!

So where do you go if you want to commit to losing fat right now and gaining self-esteem?

Where do you go to take that first step?

Glad you asked.

Check out Turbulence Training, by Craig Ballantyne. I know Craig and he’s a straight-shooter. Good guy. Craig has helped literally thousands of people burn body fat and get in the best shape of their lives using his system. Here’s the link: CLICK HERE NOW.

Let me know how you get on using his program.

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Are You Fooling Yourself?

I am amazed as a Personal Trainer, how many clients I’ve come in contact with over the years think they want one thing yet really want another.

They hire me as a professional for my advice to help them achieve their fitness goals. For most of them, it’s fat loss.

But here’s the weird part, many get rolling with the “program” or the parts of the program that they want to implement, and then are surprised when they don’t get the results they expect.

Did you catch that?

Read that part again, especially the “parts of the program that they want to implement…”

You see, a program is only a program if you follow the whole thing. Otherwise it’s not a program–it’s a part of a program. So, if a program is designed to get “x” results, then a partial program will yield you “x minus y” results, right?

For whatever reason, people make excuses for not doing what they’re told. I know, I have a business coach. I can make up a million reasons why I haven’t done something that he’s assigned, but the reality is each one of them is an excuse for my failure. How can I be so adamant? Because if they weren’t, then I would have achieved my goals right now, right?!

Any and every fitness program is like that. Any one–regardless of the outcome. If you pay someone to design a program for you, and then deviate from what’s written without “permission” and an acceptable substitute or alternative, then you can no longer hold that program, or the program’s designer accountable for your results or lack of results, as the case may or may not be.

Makes sense right?

I can hear the “yeah, buts…” starting right now…

“Yeah, but, you don’t know how hard it is to…”

“Yeah, but, I have to be up at…and don’t get home until…”

“Yeah, but, my wife…”

“Yeah, but, my husband…”

You get the idea, right?

You are in control of only two things in your life:

  1. Your Attitude.
  2. Your Behavior.

And the reality is, your Attitude determines and controls your Behavior.

So, if you believe that you only have to put in half an effort, or that somehow, you know better than those who’s expertise you seek, than your behavior will manifest that attitude. In the world of fitness it looks like this:

Trainer says eat x, y, and z to lose fat.

You eat only x, but decide to add a and b in because “you like them.”

Trainer says exercise doing this for x amount of time.

You decide you don’t need to or “can’t” exercise today because “you’re too stressed out.”

30 days slips by. Upon evaluating your progress, you see that you wanted to achieve a, but instead, you only have achieved a minus z.

Who do you hold responsible?

An even better question would be, “Are you fooling yourself?”

Do you really want what you say you do?

And more importantly, are you willing to do what is necessary to achieve your goal?

Food for thought, for all of us for sure…

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What’s the BEST Ab Exercise? (part 1)

Every trainee on the planet has asked this question one time or another.

There are dozens of books and videos demonstrating the “best” exercises for your abs.

But we really need to ask a deeper question, “What do you mean by BEST exercise?”

Do you mean the one or ones that allow you to see your abs?

Or the one or ones that protect your lower back?

Or the one or ones that strip the body fat from around your mid-section?

What exactly do you mean by BEST?

Let’s start the process of elimination by what the best ab exercises aren’t–the ones that suck, and then move from there:

  • crunches
  • reverse crunches
  • ok, any crunch at all..(any exercise you can do hundreds, even thousands of don’t produced enough stress on the body to produce change…)
  • hanging knee/leg raises (because most people do them wrong–swinging from the stand or bar like some kind of ape…overusing their hip flexors and straining their backs…so it’s not really the exercise, but the way it’s performed…)
  • oblique twists with a broomstick (just because Rocky did it doesn’t make it valuable…)

That’s just a partial list, mind you…

Next we have to ask ourselves what your abs are supposed to do, i.e., designed to do. Of course they can do all the things we listed above. And sure, all those things produce a “burn” if you do enough of them, but just because they can do them doesn’t mean that’s their main purpose.

The abs, or the more popular and more all-encompassing term today–the core–is designed to do 2 things:

  1. Protect the spine by resisting movement (weird, huh…?)
  2. Transmit force between the upper and lower body

That’s it.

Think about these things and next time we’ll keep on digging deeper.

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