The Truth About Core Training

The Truth About Core Training

What if we told you everything you know about core exercises is wrong?  Straining your neck and back doing hundreds of sit-ups, trying to get a “shredded six-pack,” is a complete waste of your time. Sure, you may feel “the burn” in your abs for two to three days after your workout, but that won’t compare to the burn you will feel in your back five years later from bad posture, due to those high repetition ab routines you used to do.

It is time we challenge the status quo when it comes to fitness and performance. I challenge you to be inquisitive and question the fitness content you consume in magazines, articles, blogs, social media, personal trainers, and performance coaches.

There are a lot of great well-educated fitness professionals out there, but the reality is, the fitness, strength, and conditioning industries are becoming over-saturated. A simple test must be taken in order to receive a personal training certification, but should that be enough to be considered a professional?

Technology and the advancement of social media have made it easier for people to share their thoughts, experiences, and opinions with a wider audience. This can be great in some cases, however, when individuals are given misinformation on effective exercise prescription, it can have a snowball effect on your health and wellness. This could potentially lead to muscle imbalance, joint pain, dysfunctions, and ultimately chronic injury or illness.

After reading this, you will have a clear understanding of what your “core” actually is and its purpose. You will also have information on effects your core strength has on your everyday life and insight on why you should change the way you train your core. You will also be given our top five functional core exercises.

 

What Exactly is Your “Core”?

Your core is a complex series of muscles, extending far beyond your abs, including everything besides your arms and legs. It is incorporated in almost every movement of the human body. Your core is comprised of the following muscle groups:

Pelvic floor muscles, Tansversus abdominis, Multifidus, Internal and external obliques, Rectus abdominis, Erector spinae (sacrospinalis), Erector spinae (sacrospinalis), Longissimus thoracis, Diaphragm, Latissimus dorsi, Gluteus maximus, Trapezius, Gluteus medius, Psoas major, and Serratus anterior.

 

 

Train your core the right way to prevent bad posture and other dysfunctions. The true purpose of your core is to stabilize your joints, which prevents unwanted movement and transfer of energy forces from your extremities.

Your core most often acts as a stabilizer and force transfer center rather than a primary mover. We often isolate our core with exercises like crunches or back extensions versus functional movements like deadlifts, overhead squats, and pushups, among many other functional exercises.

By training your core the right way, you can optimize the major function of your core. You will also enhance movement efficiency, strength in your muscles, and joints. Strengthening your core will help your tendons to prevent injury and future pain, which will aid long-term health.

 

How Strengthening Your Core Will Impact Your…

Everyday Life

A strong core enhances balance, stability, and energy transfer. Thus, it can help prevent injuries during day-to-day activities and sports injuries. Core strength directly correlates to exercise and sport activities like walking, jogging, sprinting, throwing, squatting, jumping, and swinging motions. The stronger your core is, the more efficient you will be at these activities. Through strengthening your core, you will see an increase in your performance as well as minimize your risk for injuries.  

Everyday Activities

Bending to put on shoes or scoop up a package, turning to look behind you, sitting in a chair, or simply standing still. These are just a few of the many mundane actions that rely on your core and that you might not notice until they become difficult or painful. Even basic activities of daily living bathing or dressing, for example call on your core.

Work Place

Jobs that involve lifting, twisting, and standing all rely on core muscles. But less obvious tasks like sitting at your desk for hours engage your core as well. Phone calls, typing, computer use, and similar work can make back muscles stiff and sore, particularly if you’re not strong enough to practice good posture and aren’t taking sufficient breaks to stand and go for a walk.

Sports and Other Activities

Sports comprise of a series of explosive complex movements that require a lot of core strength and satiability. Think of sports like golfing, tennis, baseball, and softball. The rotational nature of these sports causes the spine to twist and coil up just to be rapidly released in the opposite direction. Without good foundational core strength, these movements can cause serious harm to your body.

Other sports like basketball, football, hockey, lacrosse, and soccer require speed, agility, coordination, strength, and balance. All this qualities are built on and enhanced by having a solid core. Even recreational sports like running, swimming, kayaking, rowing, skiing, and snowboarding heavily rely on your core.  So, it is important to consider training your core when participating in these hobbies we love.

Good Posture

Good posture decreases wear and tear on your spine and allows you to breathe deeply. Good posture also allows you to perform everyday task easily and more efficiently saving you time and energy.

Weak, tight, or unbalanced core muscles can undermine you in any of these realms. And while it’s important to build a strong core, it’s unwise to aim all your efforts at developing rippling abs.

Overtraining abdominal muscles while snubbing muscles of the back and hip can set you up for injuries and cut athletic prowess. If washboard abs are your holy grail, it’s essential to trim body fat through diet and aerobic exercise and build strong abdominal muscles through frequent core exercise sessions.

Why You Should Change the Way You Train Your Core

When you think of a core exercise, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Sit ups or crunches, right?  These exercises are very popular because they give you that burning tightening feeling in your abdominal which is the problem area for a lot of us.

Lets dig deeper. The abdominal muscles play a key role in protecting the inner organs. They also assist in respiration breathing and work together with back muscles to stabilize the spine for good posture.

When performing a sit up or crunch you’re engaging your rectus abdominus (abs). But, you are also using other muscles groups that assist in hip flexion sush as the iliopsoas, tensor fasciae latae, rectus femoris, and Sartorius.

 

The Problem

Over exerting your hip flexors during a sit up or crunch is a common error due to lack of engagement of your abs. Overtime you will develop a shortened tight, hip flexors which pulls your torso forward when standing. This puts excessive strain on your lower back. Individuals, who sit for long periods of time daily, are also at risk of developing tight hip flexors.

According to the American Medical Association we sit on average 7.7 hours a day! The long-term effect this has is, bad posture, movement dysfunction, pain, chronic injuries, and high medical bills from physical therapist and doctor visits.

When performing a sit up or crunch you’re engaging your rectus abdominus (abs). But, you are also using other muscles groups that assist in hip flexion sush as the iliopsoas, tensor fasciae latae, rectus femoris, and Sartorius.

 

Top Five Core Exercises

Choosing the right core exercise can be overwhelming. To simplify, we have provided you with 5 functional exercises to strengthen your core to improve your performance and long-term health.

3-Way Plank: Pron Plank

  1. Get into a prone position on the floor, supporting your weight on your toes and your forearms. Your arms are bent and directly below the shoulder.
  2. Keep shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle in alignment.
  3. Squeeze your abdominals and glutes to engage your core
  4. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and increase by 5 to 10 seconds each workout

3-Way Plank: Side plank

  1. Start by lying on your side with your elbow under your shoulder.
  2. Keep shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle in alignment.
  3. Squeeze abdominals and glutes to engage your core
  4. Repeat on other side and hold for 15 to 20 seconds and increase by 5 to 10 seconds each workout.

Medicine Ball Dead Bug

  1. Begin lying on your back with one hand extended above you toward the ceiling and the other pinning the medicine ball against your opposite knee.
  2. Bring your feet, knees, and hips up to 90 degrees.
  3. Exhale hard to bring your ribcage down and flatten your back onto the floor, rotating your pelvis up and squeezing your glutes. Hold this position throughout the movement. This will be your starting position.
  4. Initiate the exercise by extending your free leg and arm, straightening the knee and hip to bring the leg and arm just above the ground.
  5. Maintain the position of your lumbar and pelvis as you perform the movement, as your back is going to want to arch.
  6. Fully Stay tight and return the working leg and arm to the starting position.
  7. Repeat on the opposite side.

Alternating Glute March

  1. Start by lying on your back with your hands at your side.
  2. Bend knees to approximately 90 degrees with feet flat on the floor.
  3. Initiate the movement by driving your heels in to the ground and fully extending your hips in the air by squeezing your glutes.
  4. Pause briefly at the top then lower hips back down to the ground and repeat.

Superman

  1. To begin, lie straight and face down on the floor or exercise mat. Your arms should be fully extended in front of you. This is the starting position.
  2. Simultaneously raise your arms, legs, and chest off of the floor and hold this contraction for 2 seconds. Tip: Squeeze your lower back to get the best results from this exercise. Remember to exhale during this movement. Note: When holding the contracted position, you should look like superman when he is flying.
  3. Slowly begin to lower your arms, legs and chest back down to the starting position while inhaling.
  4. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions prescribed in your program.

Half Kneeling Wood Chop

  1. 1. Attach a rope or pulley handles to the high cable pulley
  2. Begin in a half kneeling position with your side to the machine, your inside knee down, and outside foot on the floor with your leg at 90 degrees
  3. Holding the rope handle with your inside hand palm up and your outside hand palm down. In one fluid motion turn hips and shoulders away from the machine, pull the handle down towards apposite hip while keeping arms relatively straight.
  4. Rotate shoulders away from the machine and then towards it with each repetition. Prevent unwanted movement other than the rotation of the shoulders and bring arms down towards hip.
  5. At the end of each repetition, your chest should be up, your shoulder blades should be back, and your stomach should be tight.

Congratulations on taking the first step to learn how to train your core properly to enhance your performance and long term quality of life.  I challenge you to put this information into action and implement these exercises into your daily workout routine to strengthen your core the right way! We assure you with time and constant effort you will see and feel a difference in your core strength.

I would love to help you further develop your core strength with online personal training. Get handcraft personalized exercise programs tailored to your needs so you can accomplish your goals faster! If this sounds like a good fit for you lets connect so I can learn more about your personal goals to set you up for success! There is no better time than now, get started today!

 

 

 

Mobility vs. Flexibility: Which is Better?

Mobility vs. Flexibility: Which is Better?

Mobility is not synonymous with flexibility. People use the terms flexibility and mobility interchangeable, but recently fitness professionals have made a push to separate the two concepts.

Most people know that stretching is good for you for multiple reasons, this is usually based on how they feel after stretching. The reason why you may stretch is to relieve stiffness or tightness. What most people don’t understand is there are multiple factors that may contribute to tightness. There are also many ways to address tightness. Generally enhancing your mobility and or flexibility will help you move properly without restriction or pain. Your probably wondering, whats the difference between mobility and flexibility? These two terms seem to be used interchangeably, yet actually have different meanings. Let’s distinguish the difference between the two.

What is Mobility?

Mobility is our ability to take our body through a range of motion, before being restricted, with control. Mobility is having strength within your flexibility.

Mobility is needed to perform everyday activities and it’s especially important when working out or participating in sports. Our ability to move without restriction or pain means that we can comfortably perform daily activities and strength train. If your body isn’t moving through its natural movement patterns, you’re at risk of injury. If you think about your shoulder joint, which is shaped like a ball-and-socket, it’s designed to move in all directions. If your shoulder can move like it should, the joint is healthy and mobile. If you have restricted movement in one direction or another, like you can’t raise your arm next to your ear, then you a lack shoulder mobility. This increase your risk of pain and injury, especially when loaded.

What is Flexibility?

Flexibility refers to soft tissues (muscles and tendons) ability to temporality elongate. Our connective tissues are like finger traps; the amount of material doesn’t actually change, you can’t lengthen it, but you can contract it. Flexibility is passive. It’s your ability to move connective tissue with the help of a another person or tool, while their muscles passively allow the movement to happen. Flexibility means the soft tissues are stretchy and elastic.

Think of a rubber band. If you pull both ends, and it stretches like any good rubber band should, it’s flexible. If it doesn’t stretch, it’s inflexible. It’s the same thing with muscles, which actually have elastic components designed to help the muscle stretch.

Flexibility is important because when your body is restricted by inflexibility and you can’t move through your natural range of motion, pain can occur. Lack of flexibility can make all activities more difficult.

What’s the Difference?

The biggest difference between mobility and flexibility is that in order to move a joint through its range of motion with control (mobility), you need strength.Which is why mobility is a better indication of how well and efficiently we move. Flexibility is one part of mobility. But strength, coordination, and body awareness are also elements of mobility. Flexibility is a component of mobility, extreme flexibility usually isn’t necessary to perform most exercises or activities. That means that mobility can be limited by flexibility, but super-flexibility is not necessary for most people or strength athletes.

Someone with great mobility may be able to squat below parallel while maintaining joint integrity and posture with no restrictions of range of motion. A flexible person may be able to break parallel, but they lack the ability to maintain joint integrity and posture because they may not have the strength, core strength, balance, or coordination to perform the same motion.  Someone with poor mobility may be able to complete a partial rep with decent posture but does not have the range of motion necessary to break parallel. There are a number of possible muscle imbalances that can cause lack of mobility and flexibility,  but these problems can be fixed with a combination of soft-tissue work (foam rolling/massage), stretch, and strengthen.

Both mobility and flexibility are important. You need your muscles to have the strength to support your movements, and elasticity which allows you to move without restriction. Luckily, you can work on improving flexibility and mobility.

Here’s why you should be doing flexibility and mobility exercises.

  1. Eliminate joint pain or injury
  2. Perform movements with great range of motion
  3. Increase muscle recruitment
  4. Burn more calories
  5. Move with freedom
  6. Perform wider range of movements
  7. Prolong quality of life
  8. Increase strength
  9. Increase stability
  10. Increase speed/power
  11. Enhanced joint health

How to Increase Your Mobility and Flexibility?

To enhance your flexibility and mobility, start with areas that you are really tight or areas affected by bad posture. This may include the neck, mid/low back, hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, and calf muscles.

3 methods to increase mobility: 

  1. Foam Rolling: foam rolling is essentially a self-massage technique to help you release trigger points or “knots” in your muscles.
  2. Mobility Drills: These are exercises that are specifically geared towards training your range of motion around joints.
  3. Stretch: This isn’t always necessary, especially if you’re a naturally bendy person stretching can make your joints more vulnerable to injury than if you just left it out. But if you’ve always been fairly stiff, and it’s stopping you from performing exercises correctly, you may benefit from a few short stretches as part of your warm up, and longer stretches for after your workout.

Now that you know everything you need to know about mobility vs flexibility, here is a short routine that you can do daily to enhance your flexibility and mobility for better workouts, enhanced performance, and overall health/quality of life.

 

3 Tips to Be Consistent with Your Workout Routine

3 Tips to Be Consistent with Your Workout Routine

Studies have shown that at least 50% of the people who start a fitness program do not make it through the first three months, many more will discontinue the program before the end of twelve months. A large number of people never exercise, or have ever joined an exercise program, despite the fact that regular exercise and physical activity is necessary for health–both physical and emotional.

So, what makes people stay with an exercise program?

Studies have indicated that there are psychological variables relevant for someone to stay with an exercise program. The main variables include the following:

1. Take Responsibility

The ability, to take responsibility for what happens in your life. If you are not satisfied with your current health and fitness, think  of how you got to that point. Did you stop exercising after high school or college? Decreased your fitness when you started family? Never tracked or cared about your diet? Never learned how to exercise and you don’t know where to start? Should you do cardio, strength or both?

If you can eliminate blame, you can eliminate excuses. If the blame or excuse plays repeatedly in your mind, you are shifting responsibility for your decisions to others. When starting an exercise program, do it for your own health benefit and you will be more likely to succeed.

2. Have a Clear Goal in Mind

Sport and exercise can be essential to health and adherence. When most of us train without a goal or purpose in mind, exercise becomes very monotonous and mundane. If you like to do cardio for exercise, I encourage you to sign up for a 5k, triathlon, or marathon with a specific goal time in mind to stimulate your drive.

If you like to lift or do HIIT training, I encourage you to join a lifting or CrossFit competition. It sounds scary from the outside looking in, but they do a very good job of scaling for all levels. The anticipation and slight anxiety about sporadically signing up for a competition should be enough to spark your inner athlete and help you stay committed to your health for many, many years.
At the very least, track the time and distance of your runs, biking, swimming, weight lifted during a workout, time to complete a HIIT workout, etc. This way you can create a competition against your future self, and you are able to further specify your workouts.

3. Know Your Abilities and Fitness Level

Knowing your fitness level is all about the perception you have of your exercise ability. It is important to build a good exercise base when starting an exercise regimen. For example, if someone wants to start exercising after a hiatus, they should not start on an intense exercise program that they have seen online. This creates a high risk of “falling off the bandwagon” and stopping altogether. A sedentary person getting into exercise has a much high risk of injury, which also deters adherence to a program. Don’t be afraid of reaching out to a coach or trainer that can help you start at your individual fitness level. A good coach will help you build a foundation, making exercise attainable for your individual needs within a timeframe suitable to you.

Your exercise needs may change based on whether you work out in the morning or evening if you can workout 2, 3, or 5 times a week, and what type of exercise you enjoy doing. If you have struggled with being consistent with your workout routines, I suggest working with a trainer to get on track and stay accountable so you can reach your goals and have better health and fitness. There are several options out there to work with a trainer that will help you stay consistent. You can work with a trainer at your local gym, or online personal training which is a convenient and cost effective way to work with a trainer virtually. No matter what you choose to do, keep in mind that consistency is the key to getting results. So remember, take responsibility for your fitness, set goals, and know your abilities.

10 Things You Need to Know to Burn Body Fat and Get Lean

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10 Things You Need to Know
to Burn Body Fat and Get Lean

This is the ultimate guide to fat loss and getting lean. Whether you’re looking to get swim suit ready for the summer, getting ready for a vacation to the Caribbean, or just want to get rid of unwanted body fat, you’re in the right place. I am going to take you through 10 things you need to know to lose body fat.

1. It’s All About ENERGY Balance

Energy balance is the difference between your energy input—in layman’s terms the calories you consume through food versus the calories your body burns. Some people refer to the energy balance equation as the “calories in, calories out” equation. Calculating your energy balance should be the first step in the process when looking to lose weight, burn fat, or gain muscle. You should calculate your energy balance.

Positive energy balance: This occurs when you’re at a caloric surplus or you are consuming more calories than you burn resulting in weight gain. (Weight gain = energy input > energy output).

Negative energy balance: This occurs when you’re at a caloric deficit or you are consuming less calories than you burn resulting in weight loss. (Weight loss = energy input < energy output). For best results you want a caloric deficit of 500-1000 calories per day to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

There are three ways to change your energy balance. You can reduce your caloric intake, increase your energy output (exercise more), or combine both options to achieve a caloric deficit necessary for weight loss.

2. Resistance Training

The more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you burn. More muscle means your body will burn more calories per day—at rest! Sounds simple, right? However, the only way to build more muscle is to incorporate resistance training (lifting weights) into your exercise program. By incorporating resistance training, your body will signal a stress response to your muscles triggering them to grow bigger and stronger so they become more resilient to the stress of the resistance.

Your body will use more calories as it grows more muscle, but you can also take into account the energy (calories) you’re expending while you’re working out and the energy your muscles use to repair themselves after you’re done. When you put it all into perspective, you can see why resistance training is so important to losing fat and getting lean! In some cases, you don’t even have to cut calories to see some aesthetic benefits from resistance training.

When it comes to your exercise regimen, stick to compound exercises that use large muscle groups over multiple joints to get the most out of your workouts. These include movements like squat variations, deadlifts, bench press, push-ups, rows, pull-ups, etc. Stick to free weights and body weight exercises versus machines. Another thing to consider is rest time between sets. If your main goal is fat loss, you will want to keep the intensity high during your workouts. There are a couple ways you can do this. You can increase the weight or load of the exercise, or decrease the rest time between sets. Typically, you want your rest interval to be 30-60 seconds depending on how heavy you are lifting. Sticking to these simple rules will allow you to burn more calories during your workouts and expedite the fat loss process!

3. Cardio Workouts

Cardio is anything that raises your heart rate. When you think of cardio, you probably think of steady state cardio jogging or cycling for 30 minutes at the same pace and speed. If your goal is to burn fat, interval training should be part of your workout program. Interval training is a great way to get in an effective workout with minimal time and it’s extremely effective for burning fat.

The most important thing about high intensity interval training (HIIT) is that it keeps your body burning fat even after you leave the gym. During an HIIT workout, your body can’t shuttle enough oxygen to your muscles during periods of hard work. Therefore, your muscles accumulate oxygen “debt” that must be repaid post-workout in order to get back to normal. The result: Your metabolism is sky high for hours after your workout. Fitness professionals refer to this concept as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). The biggest way to use it to your advantage is to regularly work short, intense bouts of exercise into your workout regimen.

Here are benefits of HIIT workouts:

  • Time efficient
  • Boost metabolism
  • EPOC
  • Stimulates growth hormones
  • Develops cardiovascular system
  • Improved heart health
  • Decreases recovery time
  • Variety of workout types

When creating interval workouts, focus on work to rest ratio. This could be as simple as 30 second sprints followed by 30 seconds of rest for 8 sets. This is an example of an equal work to rest ratio interval. You can make this same workout more difficult by increasing the number of sets or by decreasing the rest interval—30 second sprints followed by 15 seconds of rest. This is a 2:1 work to rest ratio. You may want to consider decreasing the number of sets when decreasing the rest interval for sustainability purposes. Always start with moderate intensity then progress as your fitness level improves.

4. Eat More Fiber

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate the body can’t break down into glucose to use for energy. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Both are beneficial in different ways. Soluble fiber attracts water to form a gel which slows down digestion and delays the emptying of your stomach, helping to keep you full longer. Additionally, it can lower blood cholesterol by interfering with the absorption of dietary cholesterol, helping to remove it from the body.

Here is a list of foods that are rich in fiber:

  • broccoli
  • asparagus
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • celery
  • spinach
  • apples
  • berries
  • green beans
  • zucchini
  • whole grains
  • green leafy veggies
  • beans

Fiber rich food slows the release of carbohydrates. Black beans, berries, sweet potatoes, and other high-fiber foods are digested at a much slower rate, causing a slow, steady stream of glucose into your blood stream. On the other hand, low-fiber foods like white bread will digest much faster, causing larger spikes in insulin.

High-fiber foods like broccoli will fill you up and make you feel satisfied longer, even when you eat less food. One cup of broccoli yields about 40 calories with 10 grams of carbs, 4 of which are “unabsorbable” fiber. Compare that broccoli to one cup of pasta that yields around 150 calories with 45 grams of carbs. You’d be able to blow through that cup of pasta like it was nothing, and probably go back for seconds and thirds, but that single cup of broccoli may be filling enough that you feel great for hours.

5. All Calories are NOT the Same

The foods we eat are just as important as the calories they supply. Simply put, everything you eat can be categorized as either a carbohydrate, fat, or protein. Each of these three macronutrients will metabolize differently, even though they all provide calories. One gram of protein provides 4 calories, one gram of carbs provides 4 calories, and one gram of fat provides 9 calories.

If your diet consists of donuts and candy, for example, you’ll look and feel differently than if your diet consists of lean meat and vegetables. Protein has a higher thermic effect than carbohydrates and fats. This means your body burns more calories breaking down and digesting protein than it does carbs and fats. Additionally, protein is more filling than carbohydrates.

Although protein is an important part of a healthy diet, you certainly shouldn’t derive all of your calories from that one macronutrient. Carbohydrates and fats are essential for optimal health as well. Certain fats, such as medium-chain fatty acids like coconut oil, are actually linked to increased energy expenditure and reduced hunger when included in the diet.

Carbohydrates are your body’s go-to energy source and are necessary for maintaining intensity during your workouts. However, carbohydrates also fill up your body’s glycogen stores quickly, so excess carbs in your diet can also mean excess fat.

Everyone’s body is different. There is not a one size fits all solution to calorie intake or macronutrient breakdown. The best thing you can do is track what’s going into your body, adjust as needed, and repeat that process until you get the desired outcome you want.

6. Track, Adjust, Repeat

This is probably the most important tip for getting and staying lean. You must track your progress, take body measurements, measure body fat, and weight. Also, record your food portions so you know what will work for your body.

I know it sounds too simplistic, but the only real way to figure out what will work for you is trial and error. However, there are a couple of things you can do to make the process easier. Number one, figure out your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).

This number tells you how many calories you need to consume in order to maintain your current weight based on your activity level. If your goal is fat loss, you will want to subtract 500 from that number and that will be the number of calories you will need to lose weight and burn fat. To be consistent, track and record what you eat to see how close you are to calorie needs. Once you have controlled your caloric intake, you can start to break those calories down into macronutrient ratios.

Ectomorph: If you’re an ectomorph, you’re naturally thin with skinny limbs and a high tolerance for carbohydrates. Usually your metabolic rate is fast. A good starting macronutrient ratio for you would be something like 25% protein, 55% carbs and 20% fat.

Mesomorph: Mesomorphs are naturally muscular and athletic. They have a moderate carbohydrate tolerance and a moderate metabolic rate. Mesomorphs can usually start at a 30% protein, 40% carb, and 30% fat macronutrient ratio.

Endomorph: If you’re naturally broad and thick, you’re probably an endomorph. Endomorphs have a low carbohydrate tolerance and a slow metabolic rate. If you’re an endomorph, try a ratio of 35% protein, 25% carbs and 40% fat.

7. Get Rid of the Sugar

The most common sugars are monosaccharides (glucose, fructose and galactose), but mostly these are occurring as disaccharides (which are sucrose, lactose and maltose). Monosaccharides and disaccharides are two kinds of simple sugars, which are a form of carbohydrate. Oligosaccharides and polysaccharides, on the other hand, contain more sugar combinations and are known as complex carbohydrates — for example, whole grain breads, brown rice and sweet potatoes.

Monosaccharides require the least effort by the body to break down, meaning they are available for energy more quickly than disaccharides.

When it comes to fat loss, you will want to be mindful of your sugar consumption as it spikes insulin levels which can cause your body to store excess fat. Glucose and maltose are notorious for affecting insulin levels, but stick to natural sugar from fruit and limit food items with added table sugar or sweeteners.

8. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

A lot of people underestimate the importance of hydration when it comes to fat loss, and drinking plenty of water is one of the easiest steps you can take for a healthier body and mind. Start drinking early in the morning and aim to drink between 3-5 liters per day – depending on your body composition. This will help flush your body of toxins and allow your body to function optimally. Some other benefits of drinking lots of water include: healthier skin, teeth and bones, improved digestion, reduced fatigue and increased fat metabolism.

9. Snacks on Deck

Snacking is often our biggest downfall when it comes to eating well and getting lean. You want to aim for 3 medium sized meals a day (~300-500 calories each) and supplement the rest of your daily calorie needs with 2-3 snacks (~100-300 calories each). Here are a few healthy snack ideas:

 

  • Protein shake/smoothie
  • Handful of nuts
  • Berries or apple
  • Greek yogurt
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Celery with almond butter
  • Hummus and carrots
  • Cottage cheese

10. Chill Out to Manage Stress

For most of us, stress is a fact of life. Unfortunately, research reveals that it’s also a fact of fat. Even if you usually eat well and exercise, chronic high stress can prevent you from losing weight—or even add pounds.

Your body responds to all stress in exactly the same way. Every time you have a stressful day, your brain instructs your cells to release potent hormones. You get a burst of adrenaline, which taps stored energy so you can fight or flee. At the same time, you get a surge of cortisol, which tells your body to replenish that energy even though you haven’t used very many calories. This can make you hungry…very hungry. And your body keeps on pumping out that cortisol as long as the stress continues.

Levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, rise during tension-filled times. This can turn your overeating into a habit. Because increased levels of the hormone also help cause higher insulin levels, your blood sugar drops and you crave sugary, fatty foods.

A University of San Francisco study published in 2011 found that rats placed in high-stress situations were likely to use fatty and sugary foods to self-medicate; the comfort food had a calming effect on the rats’ brains that restricted the release of stress-related hormones. Stress hormones send messages to the body, one of which is to store fat around the body. The most studied and effective way to reduce stress is meditation, because it lowers cortisol and blood pressure levels.

Here are a few things you can do to relieve stress

  • Meditate
  • Yoga
  • Deep breathing techniques
  • Sleep (7 hours or more)
  • Light exercise

Now you are equipped with the information you need to start your journey towards getting lean and mean! Remember, getting the results you want is all about educating yourself so you are prepared to do things the right way. This means doing the appropriate workouts like HIIT and interval cardio workouts to maximize fat burn. Calculate your calorie needs, body measurements, macronutrient goals, and be flexible to make adjustments on the fly. Stay away from foods with added sugars, drink lots of water, eat frequent meals, have snacks ready, and stay stress free!

 

Looking for a structured program that will help you burn fat and get lean muscle? Try our 8-Week Program: Lean Machine
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The Number One Exercise to Increase Your Upper Body Strength

The Number One Exercise to Increase Your Upper Body Strength

Are you looking to increase your upper body strength? There are tons of exercises out there that can help improve your strength. But there is one that is above the rest. That is, the bench press. This is the number one exercise to increase your upper body strength. You can spend hours in the gym doing countless reps of push-ups, pull-ups, shoulder presses, and bicep curls, but none of these single exercises will have as much of a positive effect on your upper body strength than the bench press. Let’s dive in to see why the bench press is the best exercise for building strength!

Bench Press for Gains

The bench press is the number one exercise to increase your upper body strength because it gives you the most bang for your buck. It allows you to recruit more muscle fibers than any other upper body exercise out there. When it comes to building strength, you want to stick to exercises that use major muscle groups when exerting sub-maximal and maximal effort to get the gains you are looking for.

The bench press is a compound exercise, meaning it utilizes multiple joints and muscle groups to help you develop functional strength by following your body’s natural movement patterns. Compound movements are among the best exercises to gain total upper body strength because they help you develop the greatest amount of muscle tissue possible. Compound lifts create the greatest change in body composition in the shortest time and also have the added benefit of helping develop the body proportionately.

Heavy Weight Champ

Gaining upper body strength requires exercises that stimulate muscular growth by imposing enough stress on your muscles. The bench press is the number one exercise to increase your upper body strength because it allows you to contract your muscles against heavier loads, which exhaust your muscles with fewer repetitions. The bench press maximizes damage to contractile proteins in your muscles. Your muscles adapt by repairing the damage and synthesizing more proteins, which effectively increases the contractile strength of your muscles.

Is the Bench Press Right for You?

If you’re looking to increase your upper body strength while improving muscle definition and posture, the bench press is the way to go. However, if you have shoulder issues or any other pain in your back, elbows, or wrist, you may want to stick to exercises that work on stability and control to help strengthen that area or prevent further injury. A great alternative to the bench press is the dumbbell bench press or push-up. These upper body exercises have great benefits but do not put as much stress on your joints. Remember to train mobility and stability, then endurance, then build strength. Failure to follow this progression will result in injury. Also, be sure to incorporate these warm-up exercises before doing any upper body strength routine.

1×10 Each

What's Better, High Intensity or Low Intensity Training?

What’s Better, High Intensity or Low Intensity Training?

What type of exercise is better for your body—high intensity or low intensity training? The answer is not that simple. It comes down to individual goals and how your body responds to exercise on a given day. Is your goal to decrease your body fat percentage, increase your VO2 max, recover faster, or have more power for anaerobic work? Different energy systems are used when performing high and low intensity workouts as well as a different ratio of carbs vs. fats burned within the body.

Low intensity exercise is aerobic work where your heart rate stays within 60-80% of your max heart rate. Working on your endurance boosts your heart’s left ventricle that pushes blood out to the rest of the body to increase in capacity. That means that more oxygen gets delivered to nourish crucial tissues and organs which support better overall health. Not only does more oxygen reach crucial parts of the body, but your circulatory system gets better at transferring it from blood to tissue. That’s because low intensity exercise increases capillary density, so more channels are on hand to deliver oxygen to the tissue’s cells. This in turn increases base oxygen intake leading to enhanced endurance.

High intensity exercise, often referred to as HIIT (high intensity interval training) or SIT (sprint interval training), burns more calories in a shorter period of time compared to the time put in for low intensity training. However, high intensity exercise escalates your resting metabolism so you burn more calories post exercise. The high intensity nature provides improved athletic capacity and condition as well as improved glucose metabolism. High intensity may not be as effective for treating hyperlipidemia and obesity, but has been shown to build more lean body mass and increase recovery time which is more applicable to sports performance athletes.

You get more bang for the buck when muscles burn fat because fat has more than twice the number of calories (nine calories vs. four calories per gram from carbs). Fat is the high-test fuel. Less oxygen reaches the muscle when you exercise hard, or fast, and get out of breath. The term “sucking wind” means that you are working hard to get more oxygen in. When less oxygen reaches the muscles, known as oxygen debt, carbohydrates become the preferred fuel because they burn completely with less oxygen.

With the information above, can we now narrow down what type of exercise is right for you? The simple answer is to combine both high and low intensity exercise into your routine. Where it gets confusing is when we ask ourselves, “what ratio of each should I do? 50/50?”. This is where it becomes individualized. The most popular ratio, and what I use for metabolic workouts, is based on Olympic programming. This breaks down low, moderate, and high intensity workouts into a ratio of 80% low, 12% moderate, and 8% high intensity throughout the week. After looking at these numbers, doesn’t the ratio of high intensity workouts seem very low?

The reason is that low intensity exercise promotes longevity and muscle recovery when done correctly. An overdose of high intensity exercise has its downsides. Although it is a great way to increase resting metabolism, crush carb stores in the body, and increase VO2 max, it is a sympathetic stressor and can lead to adrenal fatigue. In large doses, high intensity puts an incredible strain on your nervous system, joints and muscles; especially if you are overweight and unfit. It also puts you at a high risk of overtraining, which is a real danger as it can ruin your immune system, cause insomnia, affect your appetite, and release cortisol, which in turn can make you more likely to put on fat.

I would love to see more individuals build an excellent oxidative system base through low intensity exercise while slowly adding in high intensity training one day per week so their bodies can adapt appropriately. Work your way up to the 80%, 12%, and 8% and then get creative with your workouts. So long as you’re in the correct energy system, you may do CrossFit, Tabata, 5K’s, marathons, sprints, lifting—take your pick!

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