Weekly fitness journal

This week’s goal was to majorly increase the intensity of my workouts as well as to cut the calories by a lot. I tried to split my workouts up each day by having a morning workout and an evening one. For the diet, while not too restrictive, I limited my carbs to breakfast and ore workout.

Sample workout
Part one (10:00am)
-Dumbbell press superset with plyometric pushups
-Cable flys superset with pushups on the physioball
– seated row superset with pullups
– standing pullover superset with modified pullups.
– cable crunches
– cable oblique crunches

Part 2 (6:00)
– 2 mile run
– 1,000 jumps with a jump rope
– various jumping exercises

Diet
The diet isn’t too much different from last week. The main thing is that I’m limiting my carb intake even more. At the end of the week, I’ll assess and decide where to go from there.

Results- Weight 169

Comments

I finally did it, I am below the 170 mark. When it comes to photos, I know that I need to be at 160. I’m pretty happy with the progress this week and again, it just shows how much your body can change when eating well for a couple of weeks. Surprisingly, I’ve been really energized. When I have a real goal, I get focused and it’s been that focus that I’ve been missing for the past several months. The increased exercise intensity has been manageable as well as the diet. The hardest part of the diet is the first few days. Now it’s pretty easy. This upcoming week will provide the real challenge as I need to drop about 9 pounds in a span of 10 days. The pictures will be worth it and it will be posted for everyone to see (good or bad).

Exercise of the week: iso lateral raise

The iso-lateral raise is a variation on the traditional lateral raise which is great for developing the shoulders.

Muscles used
Primary- deltoids (frontal and medial heads)
Secondary- trapezius, rotator cuff

Equipment– dumbbells. Try a lighter pair the first time as this is deceptively hard.

Start- As you would with a normal lateral raise, you want to start standing upright.  Keep the arms extended but slightly bent at the elbow.  Laterally raise both arms to shoulder level and hold. This is the starting position.
Movement- From the starting position, keep the left arm in he air and lower the right arm down to the side. Raise back up to the starting position and repeat until you have completed the desired number of repetitions. Follow that by immediately holding the right arm in the air while performing repetitions with the left arm. isoalt

5 things to look for in a new Personal Trainer

As someone who has been in the fitness industry,  I have seen my share of good trainers and my share of bad trainers. The following post is for anyone looking to work with a trainer. Beyond the basic things to look for which can be found here, these are good signs that the person you are working with is a quality person and personal trainer.

1- Complimentary Consultation. As a personal trainer I genuinely appreciate the fact that I can make a living doing something that I’m passionate about. In order for a trainer to do well, he or she needs to build trust and a connection with the client. A complimentary consultation can go a long way towards building that trust. This allows the client a chance to “interview” the trainer and make a decision without committing financially. Any trainer who is confident in his or her abilities, should have no problem offering a complimentary consultation as this is the chance to gather data and inspire the client moving forward. Someone who insists on payment for the first meeting is usually trying to make a quick buck and is taking a very short sighted approach.

2- Connection. As somewhat of an extension from #1, it is very important that you feel some kind of connection with the trainer. The fact of the matter is, if you choose to work regularly with a trainer, that person will become an integral part of your life. You will spend 1,2 or 3 hours a week with this person, more than you may spend with you may spend with your closest friends. In many cases, personal trainers become a friend in addition to being responsible for your workouts and fitness program. With all of this in mind, it’s important that the person you choose as a trainer be someone you feel a connection to and want to work with. You could have the most qualified trainer in the world but if you don’t like them, or are not inspired by them, all of the hard work could be for naught.

3- Focus should be on you. When meeting with a trainer, their focus should be on you and your goals. This is part of the importance of #1. The trainer should be asking questions about your background, fitness history as well as your goals. If the trainer isn’t asking questions related to your goals or worse yet, if he or she is creating goals for you then something is wrong. It’s a great sign when you meet a trainer who is asking a lot of questions, this means that the wheels are turning and they are designing a program as you speak with them.

4- Specializations. While the average personal training client is looking for weight loss and toning, there are many times when a client has specialized needs. If you have any health problems or physical injuries, current or previous, it’s important that the trainer know how to work with someone in that situation. For example, exercise is vital for many diabetes patients but a trainer without knowledge of how to train diabetes patients, could cause more harm than good. The same goes for a person with a specialized goal. A great example is marathon running. If you decide to run a marathon, it’s important that the trainer have knowledge of how to train a person running a marathon. Again, a serius injury could occur with the wrong training.

5- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. At the end of the day, a good fitness program is going to take hard work and time. If a trainer is promising results that seem too fast to really occur or that doesn’t take hard work, it’s likely either not true or not safe. A good trainer will be able to map out a plan which will take you to your goals but in all likelihood, it’s going to take hard work and little bit of time.

Exercise of the week- 1 arm Plank

I posted the plank a few weeks ago and this exercise is a progression on the plank which is great for core strength, and upper body strength. These are also especially good for those struggling with pushups as it helps build the stability and control needed to perform pushups correctly.

Muscles used

Primary: Pectorals, Rectus abdominus, Obliques

Secondary: Triceps, Deltoids, TVA, Serratus Anterior

Start

To start, begin in a pushup position. You should be prone and holding yourself up with both hands on the floor and on your toes. The feet should be about hip width apart and the hands should be about shoulder width apart. Like the plank, make sure that the shoulder blades are pinched together and the back is slightly arched.

1

Movement

Make sure to brace the abdominal area and slowly raise one arm off of the ground. Keep the arm straight and raise up until the arm is parallel to the ground. Make sure not to sway or shift the weight too much, ideally, the rest of the body should be stable while lifting the arm. Hold the arm in the air for 2-10 seconds, lower and lift the opposite arm. Alternate raising the arms for about 12 repetitions on each side. 2

Exercise of the week: kneeling rollout

Kneeling roll out

The kneeling roll out is a great abdominal exercise which can be used for training in-home. It does require that you have an exercise ball. This is great because it works all of the muscles in the core as you have to stabilize in order to stay straight.

Muscles used
Primary- Rectus abdominus, internal/ external oblique, erector spinae
Secondary- sertatus anterior, lattisumus dorsi,

Start- before starting the exercise, make sure to be on a soft surface because this can be hard on the knees. Start by kneeling on a mat and make sure to keep the body straight. The back should be straight and you should be able to draw a straight line from the knees, through the hips through the shoulders. The arms should be bent with the forearms touching the ball.

Movement- your bodies positioning here is key so pay close attention. First, make sure that the back is straight the entire time, this can be accomplished by bracing or tightening the abdominal area. Slowly roll forward by extending the arms at the shoulder. Your weight should be forward and stop rolling before your chest touches the ball. When you get to the end of the movement, pause and hold for 2 seconds and then roll back into the starting position.

The importance rest in an exercise program

A common misconception about fitness is that more is better. It’s an idea that one must work out 6 or 7 days a week and never take time away from working out. This cannot be further from the truth and in fact, adequate rest it just as important to a fitness program as actual time spent working out. A person who does not rest adequately risks both a physical and psychological breakdown due to the level of stress placed on the body.

To understand the importance of rest, it is important to understand how our bodies develop when involved in a fitness program. Contrary to common beliefs, the actual act of exercising does not build muscles. Exercising actually does the opposite as it causes tearing within the muscle. When we work out we are essentially breaking down and tearing muscle tissue. The muscle building is a result of the bodies ability to adapt. Once we have broken the muscles down, the body needs to repair them, our bodies will adapt to this new stress by repairing the muscles stronger than before in order to meet the new requirement for strength. Adequate rest is crucial for this process to be successful as we repair our muscle tissue during rest.

Lack of rest also increases the potential for injury. If a person works out 6 days a week, they are essentially breaking their body down without giving themselves enough time to recover. Often times, this will eventually result in an injury as the person does not have a chance to recover from the constant stress.

In addition to the physical requirements, there is also a psychological advantage to resting. Unless a person is a professional athlete on a strict schedule, it is common for people to overwork themselves to the point of physiological exhaustion. There is tremendous guilt associated with rest and eventually the person breaks down and has to stop working out all together. A proper understanding of the importance of resting would result in a more manageable program.

It’s not hard to see this in practice. Professional athletes, for example, work out for a living in order to be in peak condition. Most athletes need 2-3 off days a week. In addition, for sports like boxing, mma where they are training specifically to be at their peak on a specific day, athletes will take a week off of rigorous activity immediately before the competition in order to recover and reach their peak.

When it comes to requirements, it’s going to vary from person to person but generally I would say 2-3 days off a week. It’s always best to schedule the days off if possible as it tends to keep a person committed to the workouts. In addition to taking the weekly breaks, it’s also important to take a week or so off every few months. This is also a good way to recharge the batteries and stay excited about fitness.

Keep in mind that good fitness is about balance, so hard work needs to be complimented with good rest. Don’t feel guilt about your time away from the gym because that is when your body really gets to work.

Weekly fitness journal: Do as I say…

It’s kind of ironic that last week I posted an article about the importance of not losing too much too fast. I should have prefaced that with a rule saying that extreme measures should only be taken if there is a very specific goal in mind and then only if you are prepared to gain the weight afterward. The irony is that I have a photo shoot scheduled in 3 weeks and I need to be at my goal weight by then. My goal weight is 160 and I now weigh 173 so extreme measures must be taken.

Diet- I’m now in a position where I need to cut 13 pounds in 3 weeks or about 4 pounds a week. From a dietary standpoint it means doing something I preach against, cutting carbs. I’m at a point where I limit myself to carbs at breakfast, before I work out and a little at lunch. This also means blame foods with little salt or seasoning an lots of water.

Sample diet
Breakfast- oatmeal w/water raisins and splenda
Snack- 3 slices of smoked turkey
Lunch- baked chicken w/ vegetables and a 1/2 cup of rice
Pre- workout- smoothie with strawberries, blueberries
Post workout- protein shake with skim milk
Dinner- ground turkey

Exercise- this week I’m pushing the calorie burning part of the workout so I have cut out any heavy strength training and replaced it with cardiovascular type work I’d interval training.

Sample workout
Warmup
1.5 mile run
20 minutes of tabatas
1,000 jumps with a jump rope
6 rounds of bag work
Abs

I can be very motivated when there is a goal so I should be fine. The real challenge will be that last week but I’m up for the task. As long as I’m prepared, the diet isn’t all that bad. I eat regularly so I’m never hungry. The workouts this week have been fun. I’ll never be the type to run 6 miles but my style of cardio is very effective. It intense and leaves me feeling like I just got run over by a truck. I will be at 160 by the end and kids, do as I say, not as I do 😉

Feel free to comment

Exercise of the week: Sword Draw

The sword draw is a very versatile exercise. Is can be used for rehab, strength, ROM and posture.

Muscles used
Primary- deltoids (medial and lateral), infraspinatus, supraspinatus
Secondary- trapezius, rhomboids

Start- you can use a band, dumbbell or no weight for this movement. Stand with your knees slightly bent and the abdominals braced. The arm will start across your body next to the opposite hip.

Movement- while keeping the elbow locked, pull the arm up and across the body. Make sure to rotate the arm in the direction you are lifting so that your thumb is pointing behind you when you reach the top of the movement.

Weekly exercise journal

Diet: this week, my goal was to focus on the frequency of my diet. I had been feeling extra hungry for some time now and I believe it’s because I’m not eating frequently enough. Since my days can be very crazy and erratic, planning is key. So every day, before bed I looked at my schedule and created an eating plan that would fit. It’s a tedious process but it seems to have worked as I’m definitely not getting the bouts of hunger.

Exercise: this week I was focused on turning my sessions up a notch. I followed a compound set routine which is basically doing back to back exercises using the same body part. After strength training, I would follow that up with 1,000 jumps and 5 rounds of kickboxing with the bag. Much to my dismay, I even went for a one mile run.

Results: Weight- 175 (no change)

Journal: this was a frustrating week. I worked my butt off and had nothing to show for it. Obviously I understand why and intellectually, I get it but it doesn’t make me feel any better. It just goes to show that even with a professional, it’s very hard to handle not making progress especially when you have worked hard. I might be a little too focused on the weight loss but it’s my goal at the moment and I need to see some more pounds drop. The increased intensity felt good. I’m definitely not in the shape I was last year but I’m getting there. I did solid rounds with the bag and jumped rope. My goal next week is to lose a couple of pounds and get 5 solid workouts in. Until next week.

Illustration of why it’s better to lose 1-2 pounds a week

Last week, I wrote about the importance of losing weight slowly and consistently versus a rapid weight loss program. This week, I am going to give an example of what frequently happens when someone loses weight too fast versus someone who does it at a consistent clip.

As I mentioned before, the body is only capable of losing 1-2 pounds of fat per week so any more than that comes from lean body weight which is weight that we don’t want to lose. For this example, we are going to take a person who is 200 pounds and 30% body fat. This means that the person has 140 pounds of lean body weight and 60 pounds of fat. I am going to go through two separate scenarios with this person to show my point.

Scenario 1- This person decides to go on a crash diet or a very low calorie diet. This person could very easily lose 30 pounds over the span of 5 weeks. If we average this weight loss out to 5 pounds a week, then in a best case scenario, this person would have lost 8 pounds of fat and 22 pounds of lean weight.  What results is that this person is actually less healthy at 170 pounds than he was at 200 pounds because his body fat percentage is still 30% and he has lost 22 pounds of valuable lean weight. What makes this example even worse is what happens next. 95% of the time a crash diet will fail within 6 weeks and the person puts back on all of the weight that was lost. In this case, if this person puts back on 30 pounds, he won’t put on 22 pounds of lean weight and only 8 pounds of fat. The likely outcome will be the reverse and he’ll put on 20 pounds of fat weight and 10 pounds of lean weight. The result will be that this person will be back to 200 pounds but with a body fat of 36%. He will have gone from 60 pounds of fat weight up to 72 pounds of fat weight because of the crash diet.

Scenario 2- The same person follows a program which includes a balanced and healthy diet with strength training. If the person is focused on losing 1-2 pounds a week the after 6 weeks, this person will only have lost 10  pounds but it will all be fat weight. After 6 weeks, this person would be 190 lbs but his body fat percentage would have dropped down to 26%. Another 6 weeks and 10 pounds of fat later, his body fat would have dropped to 22% and finally another 6 weeks and 10 pounds later and his body fat would have dropped to 17%.

As you can see, scenario 1 lost 30 pounds in 5 weeks but paid for the rapid weight loss by losing mostly lean weight. He also had the added negative  benefit of gaining back mostly fat. Scenario 2 took 18 weeks to lose 30 pounds, almost 4 times as long but this person was able to lose 12 percent body fat and 30 pounds of fat in that time.

Feel free to comment or ask questions. Any involvement would be greatly appreciated.

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