The sun is finally starting to shine through (here in Michigan), and summer is finally here! The lack of vitamin D during the colder months may have reduced your ambitions to stay on your workout program and shot your ability to reduce your food cravings. Well now is the time to get back after it before summer comes. In order to shed body fat while maintaining and even build muscle, you need to have a bulletproof plan.
You cannot simply do the machine weight circuit and hop on a cardio machine and do steady state cardio. Science and has shown that this is not the most efficient way to lose body fat, fast. In recent years we have found out that workout protocols such as HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and the world-renowned Tabata interval method can burn body fat efficiently, effectively and faster than traditional training methods.
One of the least talked about training methods is workout density, which is the amount of work you do in a given time frame. The greater your density, the greater your caloric expenditure. The best way to increase workout density is to decrease rest periods as you do in HIIT and Tabata training. The longer you drag out your workout, the less likely you can keep up the intensity.
An easy way to do this is set a time limit of say 20-30 minutes, and try to get as much of your workout done in that time frame. Each time you do that workout, try and beat your previous time. So if you are trying to lose body fat, get out of the mindset that you have to work out for hours and hours. The harder you work in less time will equate to a higher metabolism and a much more effective weight loss program. Keep it short and sweet, yet intense.
Why Does High-Intensity Interval Training and Tabata Training Work?
In order to burn body fat, you need to burn fatty acids by doing workouts that have a high metabolic cost and the best way to do that is to add HIIT and Tabata’s to your workouts 4-days per week. Hormone-Sensitive Lipase is crucial for inducing this process because it mobilizes free fatty acids from adipose tissue, releasing fat into the bloodstream. Then, carnitine transports the free fatty acids into the mitochondria where they can be burned for energy.
This is the main thing that people are confused about when it comes to exercise and fat loss. You need to produce a tough metabolic cost in order for this process to happen. Jogging, Yoga, and even sports like tennis and volleyball just don’t do this.
The most recent study, out of Australia, reported that a group of females who followed a 20-minute HIIT program consisting of eight-second sprints followed by 12 seconds of rest lost an amazing six times more body fat than a group that followed a 40-minute cardio program performed at a constant intensity of 60% MHR.
And of course, there is the Tabata study. This was the groundbreaking research that encouraged people to start moving harder and faster to lose fat and increase conditioning.
In short, the Tabata study showed that by doing 8 rounds of 20 seconds of hard work and 20 seconds of rest, you could increase fat burning and Vo2 Max more efficiently and effectively that steady-state type cardio.
Your goal will be to get in 3 workouts a week. One HIIT on the bike, one on the Concept 2 rower, and one Tabata workout of your choice. You can do more than 3, just make sure you keep an eye on overtraining and getting burned out. These workouts are intense so, you will need proper recover. You should also note that everyone has their own level of intensity. Start slow and build up as you see fit. As always, consult with a physician if you have any health issues that may hinder you from doing more intense exercise.
HIIT #1: Cardio Based HIIT Workouts
When it comes to cardiovascular exercises that produce the most results with the least time invested, sprint-type cardio workouts reign supreme.
The actual act of sprinting on two feet can be tough for many. If you are not a runner or a sprinter, I advise you to proceed with caution and build up to proper sprinting.
If you have a lower-body injury or have had one in the recent past that hinders you from running, actual sprints may not be for you.
So, instead, I like the airdyne/assault bike or concept 2 rowers. These two pieces of cardio can have a great bang for the buck without injury. If you are looking to keep their bodies healthy but get the tremendous benefits from sprint workouts.
Concept 2 Rower
Sprint workout week 1: do ten 100-meter sprints at 90% intensity, resting 60s between each sprint.
Sprint workout week 2: do six 300-meter sprints at 80% intensity, resting 90s between each sprint.
Sprint workout week 3: do eight 200-meter sprints at 90% intensity, resting 75s between each sprint.
Sprint workout week 4: do eight 200-meter sprints at 100% intensity, resting 75s between each sprint.
Sprint workout week 1: do ten 10-calorie sprints at 90% intensity, resting 60s between each sprint.
Sprint workout week 2: do six 30-calorie sprints at 80% intensity, resting 90s between each sprint.
Sprint workout week 3: do eight 20-calorie sprints at 90% intensity, resting 75s between each sprint.
Sprint workout week 4: do eight 25-calorie sprints at 100% intensity, resting 75s between each sprint.
Tabata style Workouts
For a recap on Tabata intervals, it’s a high-intensity interval training protocol originally created by Japanese researcher Dr. Izumi Tabata. Each Tabata interval consists of 20 seconds of high intensity (as hard as you can go) exercise followed by a 10-second rest. This is repeated for 8 rounds, totaling 4 minutes time. This is one of the simplest and most effective ways to increase your total work capacity and workout density in a short amount of time. I prefer strength-based exercises such as goblet squats, kettlebell swings, push-ups, TRX rows, farmers walk, and ball slams.
Tabata Workout #1
Perform each exercise for 20 seconds as hard as possible and then rest 10 seconds. Repeat this sequence for 8 total rounds. Rest 2-4 minutes as needed between exercises.
Goblet Squats 20 seconds on/10 seconds off for 8 rounds
Rest 2-4 minutes
TRX Row 20 seconds on/10 seconds off for 8 rounds
Rest 2-4 minutes
Ball Slams 20 seconds on/10 seconds off for 8 rounds
Tabata Workout #2
Perform each exercise for 20 seconds as hard as possible and then rest 10 seconds. Repeat this sequence for 8 total rounds. Rest 2-4 minutes as needed between exercises.
Kettlebell Swings 20 seconds on/10 seconds off for 8 rounds
Rest 2-4 minutes
Push-ups 20 seconds on/10 seconds off for 8 rounds
Rest 2-4 minutes
Farmers Carry 20 seconds on/10 seconds off for 8 rounds
When it comes to weightlifting, lifting weights, and strength training in general, the barbell is the signature tool we think of, and for a good reason. Various strength-training movements with the barbell can produce phenomenal results when done correctly. However, traditional barbell training can come at a cost.
Understanding how to perform various barbell movements such as the deadlift and back squat takes a fair amount of skill. From the set up to the finish, many beginner and intermediate lifters will have trouble learning how to perform them correctly.
Lack of Mobility
Our daily lives require a lot of sitting which can lead us to become tight and lack the proper range of motion in the hip and shoulder areas. In order to perform many of the classic barbell lifts, an adequate amount of mobility is required.
Risk of Injury
Most of the barbell lifts load the spine, unparticular the lumbar area. If you have any previous or current issues, loading the spine, on top of lack of mobility and skill can backfire on you and lead to possible pain and injury.
There are many alternatives that produce great results that spare the joints while reducing great results. They are easy to learn and improve and are for beginners and avid lifters alike.
Instead of: Barbell Squats
Do: Goblet Squats
Goblet Squat Steps
Use a dumbbell or kettlebell and tuck it into the upper chest.
Keep your elbows in tight.
Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart with 0-30 degrees of foot flare.
Pull yourself down into the squat slowly.
Push your knees out to the sides and have your elbows track inside the knees.
Push all the weight of your body through the heals.
Keep your chest up and stand up.
Instead of: Barbell Deadlifts
Do: Kettlebell Deadlifts
Stand with the feet approximately shoulder-width apart, the kettlebell in line with the heels. Begin standing upright in a neutral stance position with the ear, shoulder, hip, and knee in proper alignment, with the arms resting comfortably in front. Perform a hip hinge pattern by flexing at the hips while maintaining a neutral spine. Once the hands are near the weight, grasp the handle tightly to promote spinal stability.
Engage the hamstrings by slightly raising the hips, so that the knees are vertical. Once the hamstrings feel taut, begin to extend the hips forward until the proper posture is achieved. Pull your shoulder blades down and back as if you trying to put them in your back pocket. This will help activate the lats and other back muscles. Throughout the movement, make sure the head and neck are neutral and there is no rounding of the back.
Instead of: Barbell Overhead Military Press
Do: 1-Arm Kettlebell Military Press
1-Arm Military Press Steps
Clean a kettlebell with a two-handed grip or perform a cheat clean. Press the kettlebell strictly overhead to lockout with one arm. Lower to the chest safely, pause and press again.
In the rack position (in one hand close to chest and shoulder), the fist must be below the chin level.
The kettlebell should pause in the rack and top position.
Press with the knees locked and with no back hyperextension.
Keep the quads, glutes and midsection tight.
The torso may lean slightly sideways but the lean may not increase during the press.
The shoulder stays packed
Do not hyperextend the wrist, keep it straight.
Forcefully exhale on the way up
Instead of: Barbell Bench Press
Do: Classic Push-ups
Start by lying down on the floor to prep the body
Bring your legs together and tuck your toes
Straighten your legs out and keep them tight
Squeeze your butt and abs
Bring your hands near your armpits
Tuck your chin and pull your head back
Elevate your feet; use Olympic rings, or external weight to increase intensity. To decrease intensity, go on your knees. I will be going over some variations next!
What is fiber and are you getting enough fiber in your diet? Fiber is a complex carbohydrate that our body does not digest. Fiber can be divided into two general groups, soluble and insoluble. The main difference between these two is that soluble fiber can absorb water while insoluble fiber does not absorb water or dissolve in water.
This means that when consuming foods rich in soluble fiber, it helps to keep our stools softer and pass more easily and foods rich in insoluble fiber helps to add bulk to our stools. Not only does fiber play a significant role in maintaining healthy digestion but also reduces the risks of cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, high blood pressure and lowers cholesterol levels. Fiber can also help to reduce body fat by keeping you satiated and eating less.
In the U.S., almost 50% of the average diets are comprised of refined sugars, oils, dairy, and alcohol, all of which contain no fiber. That means almost 75% of people are not getting enough fiber in their diets. Adequate fiber intakes vary based on age and sex differences but a good range for fiber intake for men is about 40-45 grams per day and for women about 30-35 grams per day.
It is important to consume both insoluble and soluble fibers each day. Some foods rich in soluble fiber are oats, nuts, seeds, berries, and prunes. Some foods rich in insoluble fiber are broccoli, brussel sprouts, apples with the skin, beans, and barley. Getting fiber from fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains is much better than consuming fiber supplements or fiber-enriched foods because they do not contain the micronutrients, phytochemicals, and water found in whole foods.
Be sure to slowly increase fiber intake to allow your body to get used to it and drink plenty of fluids to avoid uncomfortable digestive symptoms such as gas, bloating or constipation.
Having issues with your digestive system or notice that you are getting sick more often, maybe it is a good time to take a closer look at your gut health. Our gut plays a pretty big role in helping us to digest food, absorb nutrients, metabolize drugs and help aid in regulating our immune response.
Our guts are also highly sensitive to not only the things we ingest but whether we are exercising or even if we are under a lot of stress. Some possible reasons for poor gut health are antibiotics, stress, poor diet, over-consumption of animal proteins and poor gut motility. Keeping our guts healthy and happy will help you to feel better and help keep digestive ailments at bay.
Our guts are filled with billions upon billions of bacteria and it is important to keep a good balance of these helpful or beneficial bacteria to keep our digestive systems working well. Good gut bacteria also have a large influence on our metabolism and body composition.
Consuming probiotics or good bacteria helps to keep an abundance of good bacteria in our gut and pushes out harmful bacteria. Some probiotic rich foods are yogurt, kefir, fermented sauerkraut, fermented pickles, and kimchi. It is also important to consume prebiotics because these are essentially food for probiotics to keep them alive. Some prebiotic-rich foods are oats, quinoa, bananas, berries, and garlic to list a few. Healthy individuals should aim to get about 1-2 servings of probiotic-rich foods and 2-3 servings of prebiotic-rich foods each day.
Low-carb or keto diets seem to be all the rage nowadays, but the question is, is it better for fat loss in comparison to a moderate carbohydrate diet or low-fat diet? Many people who go on a keto-diet and restrict carbs, as well as calories end up losing a significant amount of weight and quickly at first but then it starts to slow down. This occurs by depleting water and glycogen stores in our body. So, this means most of the initial weight loss occurring with low carb diets is just water weight.
Studies have shown that if protein and calories matched for each experimental group with varying amounts of fats and carbohydrates, such as low fat, low carb or moderate carb, then weight loss was similar among all groups. This proved that controlling calories and consuming enough protein have the biggest impact on weight loss and that the number of calories coming from fats and carbs did not alter body composition.
However, long term studies showed that when looking at these diets long term and blood work, moderate and higher carbohydrate diets led to better blood work results and reduced metabolic risk factors while low carb diets also led to reduced metabolic risk factors but led to an increase in LDL cholesterol and inflammatory markers.
Fad diets are never a good idea and are typically only sustainable for a short time period. The more we restrict ourselves and our diets the more likely we are to fall off the wagon, lose control and end up gaining back all the weight previously lost or even more.
Everyone is unique and our bodies respond differently to different types of diets, so some of us may do better at reducing our carbs a bit while some may do better consuming higher amounts of carbs. This means that there is no diet more superior than another and that your diet is dependent upon your goals, your body and how likely you are to maintain that style of eating long term.
Getting enough sleep and getting quality sleep is important for optimal overall health and even more so if you are putting in hard work in the gym. While we are sleeping our bodies are able to recover, turn short-term memories into long-term memories and help to improve performance not only physically but also mentally and increase overall happiness.
The optimal amount of sleep to get each night is between seven to nine hours which allows your body to cycle through deeper stages of sleep consisting of NREM (non-rapid-eye-movement) sleep and REM (rapid-eye-movement) sleep. If your body is only getting five to six or even going above and getting nine to ten hours of sleep then this can lead to increases in inflammation, impair focus, slow down fat loss, impair insulin signaling, impair testosterone production and decrease cardiovascular health.
Getting longer and better-quality sleep begins with having a solid nighttime routine to help put your body at ease and relax your mind. Some things that could be hindering your sleep are lights, noise, heat, alcohol, caffeine, and late-night eating. Light exposure regulates your melatonin levels which regulates your biological clock and signals your body when it is time to go to bed. Therefore, avoiding lights and blue lights, such as phones, TVs and computers a few hours before bed will help to increase melatonin levels and induce relaxation or sleepiness.
Having your bedroom too warm that it increases your core temperature can lead to difficulties in falling asleep and decreasing sleep quality. Cooling down your bedroom just enough that it slightly decreases your core temperature can help you fall asleep faster and enter the deeper stages of sleep sooner.
Alcohol may help you to feel relaxed in the evening, but it should be avoided before bedtime because it leads to more sleep disturbances such as having to get up and go to the bathroom and not getting into those deeper stages of sleep.
Caffeine should be avoided within six hours of bedtime since it blocks certain adenosine receptors in the brain that promote sleepiness. Even those avid caffeine drinkers may be able to fall asleep but since caffeine is still circulating through the body it will impair those deeper stages of sleep.
Some things that may help you fall asleep faster and get better quality sleep are to exercise, create a consistent sleeping schedule, consume foods rich in magnesium but not eating within a few hours of bedtime. Creating a bedtime routine and going to bed around the same time each night and waking up around the same time can also help to promote better quality sleep.
Eating right before bedtime can lead to indigestion and heartburn because lying down with a full stomach leads to the stomach contents following back up into the esophagus and causing discomfort. Also, avoid consuming high-fat, spicy and acidic foods before bedtime as those could also lead to heartburn and indigestion. Some nutritious foods that are rich in magnesium such as, almonds, spinach, walnuts may help to induce sleepiness and promote better quality sleep.
Avoid supplementing with magnesium to help you fall asleep because it may lead to intestinal discomfort and diarrhea. Some studies have shown that consuming kiwifruit may lead to better quality sleep due to it being rich in antioxidants and serotonin. So before reaching for the newest and nearest supplement to help promote sleep, try including some of these nutritious foods to help you fall asleep and stay asleep longer as well as provide you with other important nutrients.
I was talking to a client the other day about seriously trying to drop some body fat. In the personal training world, many clients will primarily be training for fat loss. Sure you will have many that want to improve health, get stronger and the like, however, the majority of adult age clients will want to lose some fat. While there are many ways to lose body fat the number one factor will be consistency.
I could tell my clients what to exactly eat and they would drop weight for sure but staying consistent on a well-written diet plan is hard to maintain. So, instead, I like to give my clients some examples and guidelines to follow. We will pick a few key things to work on, continue to educate them and move forward from there. Below is an example outline of how I would educate one of my clients on how to eat. We would review this and then pick a few of them and get after it for a few weeks, see how it goes and adjust depending on how well they are doing.
Try and go at least 10-12 hours without eating anything. The majority of the time is while you sleep. So, you could have your last bite to eat at 8 pm, and not eat until 6-8am the next day. 12-hours is optimal. Adjust the time period as you see fit. If you feel good going periods of time with just water, tea, and coffee, we may extend it to a 16-hour fast (male clients.
When going out to eat double up on the protein and/or veggies instead of having starchy carbohydrates. Limit to potato or rice when going out to eat.
Take 2 tablespoons of cod liver oil and 20-30 spirulina and chlorella tabs. In short, it’s your insurance policy to make sure you have enough Omega-3 fatty acids and micronutrients (minerals, vitamins, enzymes etc). It keeps the body balance, cells healthy thus more energy from proper mitochondrial production. You, by all means, don’t have to get them from me but we sell them at a discount. You can also sub the s/c for a green food powder.
No snacking unless it is scheduled, meaning, you know you need/usually have a protein bar near the end of work to keep you until dinner, that makes sense. Just don’t grab chips here, a bowl of cereal there type snacks.
90/10 rule. 90 percent of the time you eat what you need to, the other 10% enjoy! In math, if you eat 4x a day each week, that’s 28 total meals. Ten percent of those meals is about 3, So you have some wiggle room for events, parties, oh shit moments or just to enjoy whatever the heck you want.
Example meal plan
Meal 1: 2 scoops protein powder (mixed in water), with some type of healthy fat (coconut oil, peanut butter- really any nut butter or nuts.
Meal 2: at least 4 and up to 10 ounces of protein source (depending on individual needs), unlimited veggies, mindful amount of starchy carbohydrates.
Meal 3: you have a variety of options here. I think you need to eat something before you go home. Things like perfect bars, Rx bars, even some leftovers from the night before are good options.
Meal 4: same as meal 2. The key will be the snacking and stopping eating by 7-8pm.
Fat Burning and Muscle Building Tips
Focus on local and when possible, organic produce. Choose grass-fed meats, organic eggs, and poultry and wild-caught fish for protein sources.
Eat slowly and enjoy your food. This will help with digestion, absorption, and utilization of nutrients and keep you from overeating.
Don’t focus on calories, grams of protein, carbohydrates, and fats when reading a food label. Focus on the ingredient list instead. Quality first, then focus on the quantity of the food. There may be good times to track calories and macronutrients but first master the 7 steps above.
Don’t be afraid of eating fat. Many healthy fats, such as coconut, olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, grass-fed meats, organic eggs, and wild-caught fish provide you with fats that help increase the metabolism, burn fat and keep you satisfied.
Eat the right types of carbohydrates. Foods such as root vegetables (beets, parsnips, turnips, carrots, onions), potatoes (sweet, white, purple, redskin), squash, jasmine and basmati rice are high-quality sources of carbohydrates that provide fiber, tons of phytonutrients (plant particles) and sustained energy.
Choose grains wisely. Sprouted grain bread, ancient grains, quinoa, and steel cut oats are your best options. Fruit such as berries, apples, and pears should be consumed 1-3 times a day for optimal health and fat burning.
Drink gobs of water and eliminate calorie-containing beverages. Tea and coffee have wonderful benefits and can be part of the SOF nutrition protocol but just make sure to get your water in.
The SOF Food Plate
½ plate veggies
¼ plate Meat, Eggs, Fish
1/8 plate fruit and or starch
1/8 plate fats
Most of your plate should be covered with fresh leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, arugula, collards, or other greens. Broccoli, asparagus, cucumber, peppers cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are also great options that provide a great nutrient punch. In the end, find the veggies you like and start there. Raw is best, but minimally cooked and frozen veggies are good as well.
Proteins such as grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, organic turkey chicken, and eggs should make up around a quarter of your plate. If you are a vegan, you can focus on more nuts, seeds, quinoa and possibly a vegan protein powder supplement.
Eat whole fruit and ditch the processed types of fruit (applesauce, juice, etc.). About 1-3 servings a day should do the trick.
For optimal energy, satiety and fat loss, make sure you consume nutrient-dense fats that come from coconut oil, grass-fed meats, wild-caught fish, avocados, nuts, and seeds. Avoid processed oils.
If you are very active and/or need some extra energy, adjust your carbohydrate intake accordingly. Stick with starchy veggies, potatoes, sprouted grains, and rice.
In a time crunch or to get a ton of nutrients in easily, make a super shake. Pick a protein powder (grass-fed whey, hemp, brown rice, chia), liquid (water, coconut water, almond milk), fat (coconut or coconut oil, nuts or nut butter), veggies (spinach, kale, green food powder) and fruit (berries, banana) and blend with ice.
I hope this gives you a little snapshot of how I educate and help my clients eat. There are no absolutes when it comes to eating and you need to be mindful and willing to adjust when needed. If you are having issues figuring out what best works for you, keep a food log that not only tracks what you eat but also how you feel after you eat. Then, work with a qualified professional that will give you sound advice and hold you accountable.
With a new year upon us, it is time to set our New Year’s resolutions and become the best version of ourselves in 2019. I believe New Year’s resolutions are great, but the hard truth about setting new goals for the year is that 80% of set goals have failed by February. I am sure you have seen it before: January 2nd you see all the newbies in the gym, but the truth is, 8 out of 10 of them are gone by February 1st. How can you be unlike the 80% of those who fail, and finally be successful with your “New Year, New Me” mindset?
Setting Goals: When it comes to a New Year’s resolution, you have to first set a goal. I see many flaws when people first set their goals for the new year:
Setting too big of a goal
The problem I see with most everyone’s goal setting is they have too many goals and set goals that set them up to fail. For example, if you do not work out, and January 1st you set a goal to work out every day, you are bound to fail. Set a smaller goal, such as, “I will work out 3 days a week for 30 minutes.” Once you get the ball rolling then you can increase the number of days or the hours a day you train.
Setting too many goals
Often when people get excited with the new person they can become, they think of every single way they can improve. Take health for an example. If someone wants to set some health goals for themselves they might say the following, “In 2019, I plan on cutting all carbs, working out 7 days a week, try intermittent fasting, and cut out all sugar.” Now imagine putting your focus towards all of these goals, it is nearly impossible to go from a normal lifestyle to all of these things overnight, you are setting yourself up to fail. I suggest setting one clear-cut obtainable goal, and from there scale upwards as you progress through the year.
Failing to research goals
When setting a new goal, it is important to research whatever it is you are trying to accomplish. People that want to try a new diet, such as Keto or Whole30, just jump into it, doing what their friend tells them to do or some YouTube video they saw. You must do your own research and decide for yourself if this is an attainable goal and if it is something you can be successful at, not just decided to do it on a whim. Also, the more time you spend researching your goals the more likely you will feel invested in actually achieving said goal.
So, remember when setting a goal, set a goal that is achievable, set only one goal at a time, and do your own research towards your goal.
Achieving Goals: Once we have our goal for the year set, what are some things we can do to achieve success? So many times, I see people set goals, and that’s where they stop. There is no plan of action or steps to take to progress, it is more like wishful thinking then setting goals. So, what small things can you do to help you reach your goals?
Make your goal a priority
When you have a goal in mind, it must be a priority. This means you may have to make sacrifices, that’s just a part of becoming better. Say your goal is to lose weight, you may have to sacrifice your Friday night pizza and beer out with your friends. “But that’s hard, I don’t want to miss out on a good time,” is what some people might say, but in reality, the sacrifice has to come from somewhere if you want to make progress. Your goal should come first over almost anything else, if what you are doing isn’t working towards your goal, it shouldn’t be a part of your life anymore. Put yourself first for once, and stop just going with the flow, make sacrifices, and get better.
Set up a plan
If your goal was to squat 400 lbs., you could not start at 300 and just say “in a year I want to squat 400 lbs.” and do it without a plan. You would have to start with 300 weeks 1, the next week 310, then 320, but the week after you only get 325, then 327.5. Everything is not always linear in progression when it comes to achievement. Sometimes you will plateau or slow progress, but it’s how you manage that progress that makes a big difference. Create a plan or smaller goals to set along the way to reach your main goal.
Tell people about your goal
It might sound weird to tell people about your goal, or you might feel like you’re bragging, but it is not. Telling people about your goals has a number of benefits. When you tell people about your goal, you are held accountable to it. The more people you tell the more you begin to believe your goal. If you can’t tell people about it and believe in it, how will you achieve it? When you tell people about your goals, they are more likely to support you if they care about you. If you tell your friends you are trying to lose weight if they are a good friend they will support you and try everything they can to help you achieve it, and the same goes for family. So, tell people your goal, get the word out there, talk about it and always keep it in your head.
Continued Success: Ok, now you have been working towards your goal for a couple of weeks or months, but you lose motivation or plateau. What are some ways you can have continued success throughout the entire year, not just January alone?
Remember why you started
Often when we have been working towards a goal for a while, we lose motivation and lose track of our goals. When this happens, it is important to remember why you started, or “what is your why?” Take time to recharge your motivation batteries by remembering why you started, why you wanted to lose weight, or become stronger or healthier, to begin with. Once you know your why and find motivation through that, it is almost impossible to stop you.
Set new goals
When you begin to plateau or have achieved your previous goal, it is crucial that you set new goals that continue to push you. If you end up achieving your goals and become stagnant, there is a good chance you will fall back into your old habits. To avoid regressing, set a new habit that will push you even further than before, but remember the strategies above, set obtainable clear-cut goals, one at a time. As you begin to tackle greater and greater goals you will look back and see how much you achieved over the previous year.
Turn new actions into habits
To truly reach your highest potential, it is crucial to turn the best possible actions you can take into habits, but what does that mean? For example, if you are starting to eat healthily, don’t think about it as a “diet”, or temporary means of eating, your new healthy eating has to become a lifestyle, it has to become part of you. If you begin to work out, you can’t just say,” I’m going get fit for beach season”, but rather “I want to get fit for the rest of my life then I can be fit for beach season.” Everything you do to reach a new goal should be looked at as being sustainable over the long run. If it isn’t, you are guaranteed to fail eventually. Create new healthy habits that become a part of you and your new lifestyle will take you further than any single goal ever could have.
Remember, to have continued success with your resolution in 2019, it is important to remember your “why”, set new goals as you progress, and create new healthy habits as you go along.
Make this the year that you will make a change for the better. Make this year different, instead of starting 2019 with disappointment and doubt in yourself, build your confidence, build yourself. Make a resolution for 2019 that you have always wanted to do, and make it happen no matter what. It is up to you, you have all the tips and all the strategies you could ever have.
6 am-7:30 am: Make breakfast, get kids ready for school, get ready for work.
7:30 am-8 am: Take kids to school, and head into work.
8 am-4:30 pm: Work (maybe more than 8 hours).
4:30 pm-5:30 pm: Pick kids up from school and take them to extracurricular activities.
5:30 pm-6:30 pm: Make dinner and organize the house.
6:30 pm-7:30 pm: Pick kids up from activities and eat dinner.
7:30 pm-8:30 pm. Clean up dinner, help kids with homework, get them ready for bed.
8:30 pm-10 pm: Finish whatever work you have for the day and prepare for tomorrow, then bed.
The day I just described is utter chaos, and unfortunately, this is the typical day for most of the clients I work with at the gym. When juggling the stresses of a career, a family, and everything else in your life, it is hard to find time to put your own health first.
Although it is very hard to consider your own health, when you have everything else to worry about, it is absolutely essential to focus on staying healthy.
It is more than ok to put yourself first sometimes. Putting your own health first might seem selfish to you, but it definitely is less selfish than you might believe. When you put your own health first you are setting the rest of your life in order. Being a healthy person will allow all of the following:
More productive days
Better quality of life, such as mood, sleep, and how you feel overall
You will be able to give more to your family
You will be there for your family in the future
Some of you might be saying, “I know it is important to put my own health first, but I literally don’t have the time to be healthy.” To that, I say, “Make time for it!”
I am not trying to downplay how busy you all are, and I feel for you 100%. However, think of it this way, we all have the same amount of time in the day, so how do other busy people find time to be healthy?
Our priorities in life will guide the actions we take through the day. Making your health a top priority will make a positive change in your life and will allow you to have time you thought you never had.
Typically, I believe this is what most people’s priorities are like:
Taking care of the house
Work from home
For a person who values their health highly, typically this is what I think their priorities are:
There is no magic pill or hidden secret for health, the key is people that want to be healthy make it a priority in their life, just like their work or their family. The key is to plan time in your day to do what you need to, in order to stay healthy. Staying healthy might consist of the following:
7-8 hours of quality sleep a night
30-60 minutes of exercises (movement) daily
3 healthy meals a day
Some type of quality time for yourself a day, such as 20-40 minutes of reading, meditating, or a hobby
It might seem selfish to have all of these checks in your life every day, but it is essential to have the best quality of life you can. When considering the quality of life, you must maintain balance.
So, how can you be more selfish and make more time for yourself? Many of the clients I work with have a very hard time saying NO to people. When you refuse to say no, and volunteer yourself for everything you can think of, you end up stretching yourself, and if you stretch yourself too far you end up breaking. There is power in saying no, it gives you the power to take control of your life, and more importantly your health.
Another way to find more time in your day is to follow a strict schedule or find a routine. I recommend that everyone has a schedule that they make weekly and check every day. Everything should be scheduled from the second you wake up, to when you eat, when you work, and when you plan to exercise. When you lay everything out in front of you, you begin to realize how much time you really have, and you begin to see what things you can start cutting to make more time for yourself.
Taking control of your health comes down to you. You have the choice to be healthy or to sabotage yourself. Will you put everyone else before yourself, or will you sacrifice some things in your life to put health at the top of the list? Will you use time as an excuse, or find the time in the day, no matter what, to put your health first?
Remember: it comes down to you. You push yourself so hard in other areas of your life, such as work and family, so why can’t it be the same for your health? You control your life, your time, your stress, and your health. If you don’t like where you are at currently, change it! Make the time, learn to say no, be more selfish, and put your health first.
In the busy world we live in, it can be hard to dedicate time to a regular workout routine. No matter how little time you do have, the importance of training is paramount. The benefits of performing strength training multiple times a week are more beneficial to your health then you may believe.
Regular weight lifting may reduce all of the following health risks:
High blood pressure
Risk of breast cancer
Risk of osteoporosis
Stress and anxiety
Colds and illness
Strength training also increases overall body strength, which allows easier performance of everyday tasks, such as taking care of the kids, carrying groceries, and yard work.
Lifting weights allow for greater flexibility due to an increase of range of motion through the muscles, as well as reduces the risk of common injury by strengthening the muscles, joints, ligaments, and bones.
Not convinced yet? Strength training changes body composition, meaning an increase in lean body tissue and reduction in fat mass. An increase in lean body mass means you burn more calories a day by doing absolutely nothing. So, in other words, when you gain muscle, you get to eat more food and your body does a better job of burning it off so it is not stored as fat.
The most important benefit weightlifting offers is the mental aspect. Strength training has been shown to offer a host of psychological benefits such as better quality of sleep, mental sharpness, as well as being one of the best tools for stress management.
With all that being said, if you are not doing some type of regular exercise routine, hopefully, strength training, start now. For those of you who are doing strength training, it is important to look at what habits you have developed in the gym and analyze them from an outside perspective.
Being a personal trainer, I see habits in the gym all the time; granted, there are good and bad gym habits, but let’s focus on the not so good right now. Habits are so common, I can almost predict exactly what weight each person will start their exercises off with, regardless of sets and reps. I can predict which people will be drenched in sweat at the end of a workout, and which people will say to me “that wasn’t too hard today”. We all have habits, but when it comes to the gym, it is important to break bad habits and get out of your comfort zone.
Specifically, I want to talk to you about some specific habits in the gym that could be stalling your progress or even causing more harm than good.
Always doing the same type of training
Always doing the same workout routine, even if it is well rounded
Always using the same weight, reps, and sets… no progression
Always doing exercises you like, or are good at
Now that we know what some of our bad gym habits are, let’s discuss how we can turn these into positive actions, that can benefit our health.
The most common “bad habit” I see when it comes to someone’s fitness is only doing one specific type of training. What I mean by one specific type of training is only doing strength training, or cardio, or yoga. Often, I will see meatheads in the gym, like myself, only lifting weights. You can identify these “bros” because they can’t turn their neck from side to side because they are so inflexible, or if you put them on a treadmill for more than a minute they are ready to pass out.
I can’t just target the “bros” out there, I also see too many “cardio queens”. You have heard it before, “I don’t want to get too bulky, so all I do is cardio”. You can find these people glued to an elliptical machine while they scroll through their Instagram feed. Yeah, they may be able to run for an hour straight without getting tired, but they may break their arm if you ask them to carry a gallon of milk.
Yoga is great for your body, and your mind too, I cannot argue that. However, a mixture of strength and cardiovascular training needs to be added to this regimen as well. It’s great if you can touch your head to your knees, but what would happen if you were in an emergency and you needed strength and endurance as well, all of those headstands wouldn’t do you too much good.
All three of these types of exercise have their own health benefits, and when all of them are included in a regular exercise routine, the benefits are endless. The important idea to take away from this is the balance, don’t just stick to the training styles that you like or the ones you are best at. A balanced week of exercise may look like the following:
Monday- Strength Training
Wednesday- Strength Training
Friday- Strength Training
A balance of all these styles of training will lead to the most health benefits, the best performance, and the lowest risk of injury. So, when you are considering your workout routine, try to avoid just doing the same old thing. Mix it up, add in things that make you uncomfortable because most likely, they are the things you need the most.
Now that we have discussed the three major specific training styles, I want to focus more in-depth on strength training. One very common “bad habit” I see from many “lifters” is doing the same routine over and over again. It is like the movie Groundhog Day, the person comes in to train,
I can predict to the exact minute what exercise they will be doing. Now following a program is good, but that program needs some variety. Say Monday is your “chest” day, a common workout may look like the following:
3×10 Barbell Bench Press
3×10 Incline Bench Press
3×10 Chest Fly’s
3×10 Push Ups
3×10 Tricep Extensions
This routine is repeated over and over again, until the end of time. Soon the trainee will notice they are no longer making any progress, and then they just give up. They were making no progress because they had no variability in their training routine. A simple way to still have your “chest day” and make progress would to have a program that looked more like this (that would change every couple of weeks).
3×10 Barbell Bench Press
3×10 Incline Alternating Dumbbell Bench
3×10 DB Chest Flies With 3 Second Eccentric
3x Max Rep Push-Ups
3×20 Rope Tricep Extensions
You can see, by just making a couple small adjustments every couple of weeks, the lifter will still make progress and have their beloved “chest day”, without making anything too complicated. The key to breaking bad habits when it comes to specific workout routines is to not have one specific routine. Always be switching things up, whether it is the exercise, the equipment used, or the way the exercise is performed.
Another common “bad habit” I see as a trainer is no progression when it comes to the amount of weight being used or the number of reps being performed. Often times, when people strength train, they make really quick progress at the start of their training, but then plateau as they become more seasoned. The plateau comes from a comfortability with the weights being used for an exercise.
For example, if the exercise is dumbbell bench, no matter the reps most women go straight for the 20 lb. dumbbells, because that is their “habit”, that is what they are comfortable with. More experienced lifters will go by feel, rather than what weight they have used before. They will perform a warm-up set to see what weight they could use that day. After the first set is performed, if it was easy they will move up to the next size dumbbell.
Always pushing the boundary of what feels comfortable is the only way to progress through weight training. Progression is the number one thing to focus on when it comes down to getting stronger and a better lifter. Instead of going to your comfortable weight and forming a habit, start training by how your body feels. Start pushing a little more and get into that uncomfortable zone where you may need a spot, or fail on a couple of reps, that is the only way to progress.
A saying you have heard before is, “you are only as strong as your weakest link.” This saying could not be any truer when it comes to weight lifting. While performing a squat, you are only as strong as your weakest link, such as your core strength or hamstring strength. To get stronger, you must build strength in your core and hamstrings to build the amount of weight you can squat. Now that we know the only way to get stronger is to build your weaknesses, it is important to understand what those weaknesses are.
Something I see in the gym frequently is people only training their strengths. Think about a “gym bro” that has huge hunching shoulders, but when you look at his legs they look like broomsticks. Most likely you will see that “bro” hitting chest, or arms, or shoulders, but almost never you will see him train legs. You may also see this behavior with women. I am sure you have heard, “I just want to get toned.” Typically, this is something you have heard from a woman who only trains her abs and with very light dumbbells. The fact is both of these types of gym-goers are only training their strengths, and avoiding their weaknesses.
Weaknesses also play a big part in the injury. Often, clients will discuss their knee pain with me, and typically they end up going to physical therapy. It is interesting to me when the clients report back to me that their therapist has them doing exercises to strengthen their glutes, such as clamshells, hip lifts, and band walks. Weak glutes, lead to the poor execution of squats and lunges, which leads to knee pain. If you strengthen your glutes, the movement of your squats and lunges become more efficient, and knee pain decreases.
Common weaknesses in most people are weak glutes, hamstrings, core, and back. These weaknesses lead to the most common injuries people face, such as low back pain, knee pain, and shoulder injuries. Priority number one in the gym should be your weaknesses after you train those hard, you can finish with the exercises you like and are good at. If you want to get stronger, have fewer injuries, and have a better quality of life, you must get in a habit of training your weaknesses.
Think about your habits in the gym. What are your daily routines? What weights do you use? Are you progressing? These are all important questions to ask yourself. When going into the gym, have a plan, a plan that makes you progress works on your weaknesses, and gets you uncomfortable. If you have a workout “routine” that is unchanging, you need to find a new routine. Find people who have done these things themselves, strong people, without injury, and learn from them. Do your own investigation and education. If you want to become stronger, healthier, have fewer injuries, and improve quality of life, improve your gym habits and good health will follow.