Race with me!!!

 

Hey everyone April is a very big month for me and I have some awesome news to share in the next couple of weeks so stay tuned. In the meantime, I’m participating in my first Spartan Race next month and I’m really excited. As someone who has been athletic and involved in fitness all of my life, I see this as a new and fun challenge. I will be participating the the event at Citi Field on May 9th but there are a bunch of events coming up in the tri-state area. I have been talking a lot of trash to my friends who do compete so it’s time to put up or shut up and my goal is to finish with the best time possible. The goal is to complete the sprint as well as the “Super” (8 miles) and the “Beast” (12 miles) all within the year. If you are interested in joining me at Citi Field, or participating in any of the upcoming events, check here for more info. If you do sign up, use the code SPARTANBLOGGER for 10% off of any race.

 

 

Best time of the day to work out

A common question I get from my client’s is regarding what the best time of imagesday is to exercise. As a general rule, I would tend to say that the answer is specific to the person and people should work out at a time which is convenient for them. Not everybody is passionate about fitness and finding time to exercise can be hard enough without someone telling you specifically what time of day is best to work out. Also, everybody is different so one person may feel at his or her best while working out first thing in the morning while another may like to work out at midnight. There really is no right or wrong answer, whatever will keep a person committed to the fitness program is the best way.

With that said and all things being equal, here are some pro’s and con’s to working out at the various times during the day:

MorningOn the plus side, working out in the morning means that you get it out-of the way and are not likely to have something come up which would cause you to miss the workout. A morning workout is also somewhat of a natural energy booster and many people report that their morning workout helps give them energy for the day. On the negative side, working out first thing in the morning can put a person at greater risk for a lower back injury so I wouldn’t recommend it to someone with a lower back problem. Also, it’s usually advisable to eat two hours before a workout and this is not practical for someone working out in the morning, so many people chose to exercise on little or no food. This means that we don’t have sufficient energy to perform at an optimal level.

AfternoonOn the plus side, studies have shown that afternoon workouts are the most efficient. It is around this time that we have the right balance of concentration, energy and alertness. The body is also sufficiently warm. It can also help to kickstart the rest of the day as many of us suffer from the mid afternoon crash. There aren’t really any negatives to working out in the afternoon outside of the fact that it may not be the most practical time to exercise.

Evening–  One the plus side, an evening workout can serve as great stress relief after a long day. It is also efficient energetically if it is some time after lunch but before dinner as a person will have a good amount of energy for the workout. Evening workouts are also practical for those unable to work out in the morning. Some people, like me, like to work out in the evening because it tires you out for the night and can help with getting a good night of sleep.  On the minus side, working out in the evening means that you have the entire day for something to come up and interfere with your workout. Also, for some, it may be hard to have an optimal amount of energy after a long day at work. Finally, there are some, unlike me, who are wired after a workout and an evening workout may result in them having trouble sleeping.

As I said before, the answer to this question is very person specific and there is no right or wrong time to work out. My best advice is do what fits best into your schedule and have fun.

Exercise of the week: side lying lateral raise

Exercise: Side lying lateral raise

Primary Muscles worked: Deltoids
Secondary: Latisimus Dorsi

Equipment: Dumbbell

The side lying lateral raise is a great exercise for the shoulders. It is deceptively hard due to the angle so make sure to start with a lighter weight.

Starting: Lie on your side on a flat surface. It can be on the floor, a bench or a mat. Maintain a stable spine and keep the top leg in front of the bottom leg to create a stable base. With a dumbbell in the top hand start with your arm at the hip and the thumb pointed up.

Movement: make sure to lock your elbow in position and using the shoulder, raise your arm until your arm is pointing straight up towards the ceeling. Slowly lower the arm back to the hip. Lowering slowly will work opposing muscles and will create an even more intense workout.

Keeping fit through stress

It’s very common for a life change to have an impact on a person’s ability to work out and eat right. As one of my clients put it, “sometimes life happens.” Major changes can have an impact on drive, motivation and concentration. More often than not, change or stress ends up having a serious negative impact on a person’s fitness and nutrition program. This post is going to cover some ways to effectively navagate change without completely disrupting your fitness program:

1. Exercise feels good. By now most of us know that exercise releases endorphins throughout the body which make us feel much better. It also can serve as stress relief so if you are going through a hard time, an intense workout may help you unwind and feel better.

2. Have a plan and be prepared. Generally, I stress the importance of preparation and this is especially true when going through stress. It can be easy to let fitness and nutrition fall by the wasteside so a person must plan their workouts and eating habits more dilligently in order to stay on track.

3. Healthy eating leads to a more productive person. One thing that people notice when they switch from an unhealthy diet to a healthy one is how much better they feel. Healthy eating creates sustainable and stable energy levels. It can keep a person from feeling tired and sluggish.

4. Create a goal. Goal setting is generally a very effective tool to use with a fitness program because if gives a person something to focus on. When going through a stressful period, this focus can be a great distraction from the stress and can be a source for positive energy.

5. Find an activity. It would be great if everybody loved running or lifting weights but unfortunately, that’s not the case. When going through stress, it can be hard for a person to motivate themself to participate in an activity which they don’t enjoy. The beauty of fitness is that there is an unlimited number of things that one can so to stay fit. From cycling to dance to yoga to rebounding, there are plenty of activities in the gym and out which may be of interest. Finding the right activity can help to make exercise more fun and the person more likely to stick with it.

Weekly Training Blog

muay_thai Hello all, I want to begin by apologizing for the serious lack of posts. I’m back on track and you can expect regular posts again.

In my entire life thus far, I really only have one true regret. My one regret is that I didn’t play football in high school. This may seem a bit silly but it’s true. The reason for this is that I have always been a very good athlete and never truly had an outlet to showcase that athleticism. Ironically, my reason for not playing was that I didn’t want to wake up early and now I wake up at 5am most mornings.
     Since high school I have obviously embarked on a career in fitness and genuinely love what I do but I have always felt like something was lacking. As it turned out, what was lacking has been something which would push my body to it’s physical limits.
     In the past 6 months, I have gone through major changes in my life and I made the decision to finally make an attempt at reaching my physical potential. I made the decision to train and compete in Muay Thai which is a form of kickboxing that originated in Thailand. I have had a Muay Thai trainer for the past 3 years but have not trained at a very serious level. I love it and I decided that this would be the perfect outlet for me. Even though I have some experence, I begin training seriously in September and for all intents and purposes, my approach will be as if I was starting from scratch. Every week I will be posting updates chronicling my progress up to my first taste of competition.

That’s all for now, check in next week as I will be posting what my pre- training workouts have been like. Thanks for reading.

Exercise of the week: Lunge with front raise

The exercise of the week this week is a great total body exercise. It is an intermediate level exercise so male sure you are comfortable with lunges, have good balance as well as shoulder strength before trying.

Items needed: barbell or a bodybar (dumbbells can also be used)

Muscles worked: quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus, deltoids, trapezius

Start- to begin, stand straight with your feet hip width apart. Hold that bar out in front of you at about shoulder width apart. The arms should be extended with a slight bend at the elbows.

Movement (a)– begin by taking a step forward. The step should be a comfortable distance, not too long and not too short, you should still feel balanced.

Movement (b)- this part of the movement will require that you do two things at the same time. First bend the back knee and drop down into a lunge. Second, at the same time, swing the bar overhead. Male sure to keep the elbows locked in place.

Movement (c)- from this position drive up through your front heel and back into the starting position. At the same time lower your arms 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.

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.

Why you shouldn’t worry if you don’t lose more than 1-2 pounds a week.

     The majority of my clients over the years have wanted some form of weight loss, some more than others. Early on in my career, it seemed to be an inevidability that a person would experience frustration at not losing weight fast enough. Whether the person wanted to lose 10 pounds or 40, there was this feeling of wanting to get from point a-z without travelling through the other steps in between. Generally, when someone is participating in a weight loss fitness program, it is not advisable to lose any more than 2 pounds a week. In fact, losing more than that number is usually less healthy and is less likely to succeed. It was a challenge for me early on to learn the proper ways of articulating this without discouraging the client but over time, I’ve formed a good way of both explaining this and coming up with a good alternative way of approaching weight loss.
We live in a society that is all about instant gratification and the fitness industry is no different. Weight loss suppliments, dvd’s and products are all sold as things that will create almost instant results. This creates an attitude when it comes to fitness which focuses on a lot of weight loss in a very short period of time. When someone approaches their fitness program with this mindset, 90% of the time, they will end up disappointed when they don’t see the pounds melting off. This frustration eventually leads to the person abandoning their fitness program.
     People make a few major mistakes when beginning a fitness program geared towards weight loss. The first mistake is that they focus too much on the scale. The second mistake is that the person usually tries for too much too fast. It seems a bit counter to the goal to say that people pay too much attention to the scale but the fact of the matter is that it’s true. When you are in a weight loss program, it’s more important to know the kind of weight you are losing and not simply the amount of weight that you lose. I will illustrate this point in next weeks post but simply put, it’s more important that a person lose fat and inches than total pounds. The second mistake is also common and very dangerous. Often times, especially with beginners, a person will get gung ho over a diet and exercise routine. They will work out 5-6 days a week for an hour and a half, they will go on the new fad diet and usually this person will show a sharp drop in weight over the first few weeks of their fitness program followed by a plateau. Usually within 4-6 weeks, the person has stopped losing weight all together and they start feeling tired, sluggish and eventually get burned out. They stop the program and gain all of the weight back. This happens because the person is not physically and emotionally ready for that kind of program. It’s sustainable up to a point but eventually the budy simply can’t handle the dramatic change and it breaks down.
     Aside from the physical and mental fatigue that comes from a sudden and dramatic change is the fact that the body will end up burning lean bodyweight instead of fat for it’s energy. Our bodies are only designed to lose 1-2 pounds of fat a week and usually anything more is going to be lean bodyweight. This means that while 10 pounds may look good on the scale, only 2 of those pounds would be from fat so it’s definitely not ideal.
The right way to approach weight loss is the same way one should approach fitness. Fitness/ weight loss is an ongoing process which requires consistency and regular assessments of progress. A person should be in a fitness program which they feel they can sustain forever. This means starting slowly and increasing the intensity of the diet and exercise over time rather than going to an extreme right off of the bat. It is also important to measure progress. This is not only done by the scale but also by measurements, pant size and even other people recognizing the change in your body. A good weight loss program should see a person make small but consistent progress over time. This is habit forming and much more likely to succeed in the long run. It’s much better to lose 1-2 pounds a week over the course of a year than it is to lose 30 pounds in a month and then to crash and gain it all back.
     Next week I’m going to illustrate the difference between a consistent weight loss program and one of your typocal crash dieting programs. Be sure to check it out as it really shows the importance of consistency and steady progress over super fast weight loss.

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