This is the first of several blog posts where I'll discuss some of the biggest lies in fitness including so-called "Common Knowledge". Some of these lies have existed for decades and unfortunately are still widely believed. It's time to put an end to the misinformation and lies once and for all!
LIE #1 - HIGH REPS MAKE YOU MORE DEFINED
Although there is some evidence to suggest that high reps might induce some extra capillary intrusion into a muscle, they'll do nothing to make a muscle harder or more defined. If a completely sedentary person began lifting weights using either lower reps OR higher reps, he or she would experience a rapid increase in TONUS, the degree of muscular contraction that the muscle maintains even when the muscle is relaxed. This will happen regardless of rep range. The only way that high reps would make a muscle more defined is if, by doing a higher number of reps, your body as a whole was in a negative energy balance, and you were burning more calories than you were ingesting. The truth is that lower reps will build rock hard muscles. You just have to get the fat off them to see it! Obviously there's nothing wrong with higher reps and certainly for endurance and stamina, it's very useful. But you will not get more defined simply by adding 5 to 10 more reps!
LIE #2 - YOU CAN USE "SHAPING" EXERCISES TO RESHAPE YOUR MUSCLES
You can't limit growth to one area of a muscle! If you recall, the first Mr. Olympia Larry Scott, had tremendous biceps. Thick and full, BUT they didn't have much of a peak. The shape of your biceps (or any other muscle) is determined by your genetic makeup. When you train a muscle, the "All Or Nothing Principle" applies. Each muscle fiber recruited to do a lift (along the entire length of the muscle) is contracted fully. Why would a certain number of them, such as the middle of your biceps, grow differently than others? If anything the muscle cells closer to the insertion points are subject to greater stress. You don't see them increasing at a faster rate than the rest of the muscle, do you? If they did, everyone would have proportions like Popeye The Sailor Man! What often happens is that people will train a previously neglected muscle such as the side and rear deltoid heads and because the shoulder muscles are now more balanced AND proportioned, people think they have "reshaped" their muscles!
LIE #3 - WEIGHT TRAINING MAKES YOU BIG, AEROBICS MAKES YOU DEFINED
Manipulations i n your nutrient intake are the main factor in getting defined. If your daily caloric expenditure exceeds your daily intake on a consistent basis, you will lose fat. Aerobic exercise is meant to improve cardiovascular efficiency, but if you do it long enough, you will burn calories and in the long run, lose fat. However, weight training can also do this. And if it's done in a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) manner, it's even better. In fact, studies have shown that HIIT can burn fat up to 3 times faster than steady state cardio exercise. And there's also the Afterburn (EPOC) effect which puts you in fat burning mode even up to 36 hours after the workout is done! In addition to this, the more lean muscle you have on your body, the more fat you'll burn just sitting there. So don't worry! It's impossible for you to accidentally turn yourself into The Hulk or the She-Hulk!
In Martial Arts Fitness, Part 1 we discussed exercises where the energy is contained. Now we're going to talk about exercises in which the energy is released. It's important to understand the role of both.
When we contain the energy, we are storing it. This also means that the internal organs are benefiting along with the physical structures like your bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It's also tied in very closely to the Yin and Yang and balance. When you build energy, it must also be released! Watch the video to learn more and for more information about In-Home or Online Personal Training, Click Below!
In martial arts there are two major categories of exercises. One is where energy is released such as punches and kicks. This is the one which most people associate with martial arts Whether you're punching a heavy bag or the air as in shadowboxing, you are releasing energy!
The second one is when the energy is contained. Exercises such as pushups, squats, and core exercises where the structures of the body, alignment, and internal organs are trainer. It is this type that we're focusing on for today's video. For a quick summary of the exercises here they are:
1) Squats with Front Kicks
3) Renegade Rows with Elbow Strikes
4) Tabletop Thrusters
Watch the video to learn more!
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Have you ever noticed that we, by default, always try to look for the most complicated answer? If you look at fitness, people are convinced that kids jump, run, and play. Adults on the other hand workout on state of the art cardio equipment and train on specialized routines that have you training one or two muscle groups a day. Kids are told to eat a balanced diet. Adults often skip breakfast or perhaps they'll have a coffee and an English Muffin. I'm sure that if their kids said they wanted to have that for breakfast, they'd flip out!
The bottom line is that people always seem to feel that there's a need to create a "disconnect" between what their kids do in terms of fitness and diet and what they do. There will be some differences of course. But it doesn't have to be as great as people make it out to be in their minds. I've written about this before, but I firmly believe that one of the little known keys to health and fitness for adults is to go right back to feeling like a kid again! Deep down people want to do it. I've seen it myself. When I taught group fitness and bootcamps before, everyone loved the games! I sometimes did it at the beginning, but usually at the end as a finisher. WHY? It's really quite simple. IT'S FUN!
And as far as food supplements and diet goes, there is an equal disconnect there. Many people are just absolutely convinced that they need to be spending a fortune on supplements every month. I agree that a good protein supplement and a Multi-Vitamin/Mineral are very useful. Omega-3 as well. But again, these are products that can be used by kids as well. There are different doses of course, and products formulated specifically for kids. But it's essentially the same thing. As for the food, I think most sensible people will be in agreement that EVERYONE should be eating a healthy amount of protein and complex carbohydrates, while limiting simple carbohydrates and excessive animal fats. AGAIN, no need for a disconnect! I NEVER HAVE AND I NEVER WILL ADVOCATE THE USE OF EXTREME DIETARY PRACTICES!
So now that we've cleared that up, what are some of the ways that kids AND adults can exercise together in a fun way? MAKE A GAME OUT OF IT!
THE PYRAMID WORKOUT
For this workout, you'll use descending and ascending reps with four different exercises. Try to rest as little as possible between exercises. Once you've done the entire circuit once, rest a minute or so and then repeat either one or two more times depending on your fitness level.
20 reps of Jumping Jacks
15 reps of Frog Jumps
10 reps of Pushups
5 reps of Walking Lunges (5 reps per leg)
10 reps of Pushups
15 reps of Frog Jumps
20 reps of Jumping Jacks
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Now it's time to spell your name! Each letter corresponds with a different exercise. Make sure to spell out your entire name. You can even add your middle name if you want to! Now you know why I prefer to be called Chris instead of my full name, Christopher! Make sure to give everyone a turn and then if you're up for it, start all over!
A - 10 Jumping Jacks
B - 5 Pushups
C - 3 Burpees
D - 20 High Knees
E - 5 Crunches
F - 10 Mountain Climbers
G - 5 Wideouts
H - 10 Front Lunges
I - 10 Side Lunges
J - 10 Second Wall Sit
K - 5 Calf Raises
L - 10 Second Plank
M - 3 Squat Jumps
N - 10 Second Side Hops
O - 10 Russian Twists
P - 5 Prisoner Squats
Q - 10 Arm Circles
R - 10 Speed Skaters
S - 10 Second Jog In Place
T - 10 Butt Kickers
U - 5 Inchworms
V - 5 Chair Dips
W - 3 Star Jumps
X - 5 Bird Dogs
Y - 10 Leg Raises
Z - 5 Squat Jacks
So there you have it! Two fun and effective fitness games that everyone can do! Remember that the family that trains together stays together!
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We've all seen them before. Those meal plans that tell you to eat 50 grams of this and 130 grams of that at 8am. Then something similar at 11:30am. Something similar again at 2:30pm, and so on. I know that many magazines and books will tell you to eat in this manner because the numbers add up. OKAY! GREAT! The numbers add up. You have a meal plan that only allows you to eat chicken breasts, broccoli, yams, and a handful of other foods in the quantities necessary to reach your fitness goals. There's only one problem. NO ONE IS GOING TO FOLLOW IT FOR ANY LENGTH OF TIME!
The bottom line is that a meal plan is only worth anything if people will actually follow it! These unrealistic meal plans simply cannot be followed long term. Now I'm not talking about a detox meal plan which is followed only for a few weeks or so. That's for an entirely different purpose. The reason for that type of meal plan is to "kickstart " your body for fat loss and/or muscle growth. It is NOT intended to be followed long term. The meal plans I was mentioning earlier are written by people who tell you that it can be followed long term. I'm telling you flat out that virtually nobody is going to follow it for any length of time. I suppose if you're single with absolutely no social life or other interests, it may be possible. But for the rest of us, particularly those of us with families and kids, it simply isn't realistic.
6 SIMPLE RULES
So what you need are some simple rules that allow you to eat in a realistic manner and essentially create your own meal plans!
Often when people think of meditation they think of a large room full of Buddhas, incense sticks burning, and a CD playing with a sound of a waterfall or spiritual music. While this certainly is a form of meditation, it is not the only way to do it. Many people simply don't meditate because they don't believe they have time to set all that stuff up.
The fact is that meditation can be done anytime anywhere. I view everything you do with your totality and focus to be a form of meditation. It doesn't matter of you're shoveling snow, raking leaves, working out, practicing martial arts, Yoga, Dance, running, etc. It's ALL meditation to me! SO what elements are needed to make it meditation? No doubt some of you reading this are thinking that these activities don't feel at all like meditation. But it can be! So what's required?
Your breathing should be controlled and done deeply with the stomach. NOT shallow chest breathing or mouth breathing. Remember, you don't eat with your nose. So don't breathe in with your mouth! Gently touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Then when you breathe in with your nose, you WILL breathe properly with your stomach. The ultimate goal should be to strive to make this your default breathing all the time! This way, you will be in a state of almost "perpetual meditation"!
This applies more to moving meditation obviously, but it still applies to stationary meditation. You want to always feel as though everything is connected. For example there is a posture in the I Chuan meditation (demonstrated in the video) where I imagine a large ball filled with helium thats trying to float up. I need to consciously keep it down. So in order to do that, you need to connect your legs, hips, core, shoulders, arms, and everything else so that you are standing in a connected and coordinated manner.
FOCUS AND TOTALITY
This is really key and in fact the first two requirements cannot exist unless you do it with your totality and focus. And one of the major benefits of meditation is that it improves your focus. Its up to you to make everything you do a form of meditation. If all these things are in place, then you ARE doing meditation! Remember this and you simply cannot go wrong!
In the video I demonstrate the I Chuan version of meditation. This works especially well to improve focus, There are a total of nine postures. It is not necessary to do them all each time you meditate or in the same order. But one rule is that you must finish with the final posture (#9). It is still a good idea to practice a specific form of meditation such as this, but remember that this too can be done anytime anywhere without any extensive preparation or making a big production out of it. If you practice these meditative practices on a regular basis, not only will your fitness improve, but virtually every element of your life will as well!
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Plyometrics is one of those confusing and intimidating things in fitness. Everyone's seen those big Plyo Boxes and steps. They certainly do seem a bit intimidating and threatening. Even mysterious! And people have no doubt seen videos of Parkour athletes doing insane jumps off of rooftops, walls, and railings adding to the intimidation and fear! It certainly can seem quite daunting to think of these things. But the fact is that these extremes are not necessary to enjoy the benefits of Plyometrics. Not only is it NOT the intimidating and dangerous activity you may think of, but it is synonymous with youth and vitality!
The fact of the matter is that just about EVERYONE has done Plyometrics before and thought nothing of it! Plyometrics is simply a name for Jump Training. And just like a volume knob, it can be turned up or down adjusting the intensity level according to the individual. A simple exercise like Jumping Jacks, Jump Squats, or playing Hopscotch is all Plyometrics. Remember when you were a kid in school? What was your favourite part of the day? I'm guessing that for most of you, it was recess! That was a time when you were able to run around freely and not have to listen to the teacher in class. And what were you doing? Running, Jumping, Hopscotch, etc. You may not have realized it at the time, but you were living in the moment AND you were exercising in a very effective manner known as Plyometrics. You may not have known of the term at the time. I certainly didn't, but that doesn't change the facts!
And how about when you did Track and Field when you were a kid? Remember the Long Jump (standing and running) or the High Jump? How about Hurdles? How about Frog Jumps across the gym floor or field? You were just having fun, right? You weren't really "training", right? That's just the thing. If you try to make a big production out of something or try to make it a big event in your mind, the chances are that you won't succeed. Because you will already be stressed about it, you will most likely fail. If however you approach it simply as playing, then you will most likely succeed because you'll be doing something fun!
So how do you go about incorporating Plyometrics into your workout? First of all, if you haven't done any kind of jumping type motions for a long time (years or decades in some cases) take it easy! Just work at your own level and pick between two and three exercises for now. Personally I like to do some at the beginning AND at the end of my workout. REMEMBER, they don't have to be hard impacts! I'd say Jumping Jacks, Running In Place, or maybe some Hopscotch. Movements I'm sure you have done before! After a good warmup, start slowly with some Plyometric exercises and gradually build it up by adding 10 impacts a workout. Of course it would be ill-advised to do an entire workout of just Plyometrics exercises. You must of course do a balanced workout with all the various muscle groups. However it's possible to incorporate some Plyometric exercises into the main part of the workout such as Wideouts. Here's a sample workout.
WARMUP AND PLYO
1) Dynamic Warmup with some Rotations and Limbering Up
2) Jumping Jacks or High Knees
3) Hop Scotch (one foot in the single square, two feet in the double squares)
2) Prisoner Squats
3) Renegade Rows with Dumbbells)
5) Mountain Climbers
FINISHER (INCLUDING MORE PLYO)
1) Bear Crawl forwards and backwards
2) Low Box Jumps
So hopefully, you have an idea of how Plyometrics can be a fun and exciting addition to your workout. Give it a try and if you want to know more about it or have any questions about In-Home or Online Personal Training, Click Below.
day 7: your fitness questions answered - what is the most important psychological element for fitness?
All too often people don't think about the psychological element of fitness. However this is probably the single most important thing. So what are they?
This is probably the most important part. Awareness of yourself, your body, your surroundings, your emotions, etc. After all, fitness more than anything else, is really about knowing yourself!
If you're too tense, stressed, or angry, clearly you are not relaxed. And if you're not relaxed, you can't possibly be aware.
Finally, having proper intent and focus is crucial! "Do every rep like it's your first and your last". If you were told that you could never do an exercise again, I'm sure you wouldn't do a half-hearted effort. You would do it with your complete intent and focus. Likewise if you were told that an exercise could save your life!
Watch the video to learn more and click the button below for more information about In-Home and Online Personal Training
There is a lot of confusion about this topic. It's first important to understand that there is no one simple answer for this. There are a number of factors, but two stand out above all the rest.
1) The type of footwear you use
2) Your running technique
Read on to find out what to look out for when running, how to assess your technique and watch the video fo visual clues.
This is definitely one of the more common questions I get asked all the time. After all, you can't possibly have a good workout unless you're dripping with sweat, right? Well the truth is quite different. The fact is that sweat and number of calories burn are completely unrelated.
To burn fat, you need to burn calories. To burn calories, you need activity and movement. If you burn more calories than you ingest, you will lose fat. It's really quite simple. Sweat however is your body's cooling mechanism and has NOTHING to do with the number of calories burned. You can simply sit on the beach for the entire day on a hot summer day and not move. You will sweat like crazy, but that doesn't mean you're burning calories. You're losing water from your body which has nothing to do with fat.
I used to go to school with someone who believed in the idea that sweat equals more fat burned. He would wear garbage bag while he ran around the track hoping that the increased sweat would help him burn more fat. Obviously it did absolutely nothing except make him stink and get a little more dehydrated.
Actually the colder weather has been shown to burn more calories and provide better results than the hot weather . The oxygen content is richer and the colder weather actually causes you to burn more calories EVEN though you don't sweat as much. So the next time you think you need to be drenched in sweat to get a good workout, think again!
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