Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Overtraining - Sabotaging Yourself

Overtraining is the act of putting so much stress on your body that it does not have time to properly rebuild, resulting in a performance decrease. It is not just a problem for those who have just gotten into fitness, but one that haunts those returning or currently in a fitness routine. Overtraining poses a major physical and mental hurdle to everyone, not just athletes. Overtraining when recognized early however is easily dealt with, lets look at causes first.

  • Lifting/Running/Jogging/etc. every day: There is no rest so the body does not have time to rebuild
  • Improper Nutrition: Your body is like an engine give it the best fuel and it will give you the most horsepower, torque, and efficiency
  • Sleep Deprivation: Sleep is the most important form of rest, it is when your body does a majority of the rebuilding. Try to get 8-9 hours of sleep a night, no more no less.
  • Workout Duration: You should not be spending more than an hour in the gym tops. What this means is that you are most likely trying to lift every muscle group each day or you are doing too many exercises for one muscle group. Learn split routines.
  • Sickness/Runny Nose/Fever
  • Lack of Energy
  • Muscle/Joint Soreness
  • Mood Swings
  • Injury
  • Loss of Endurance/Strength
These are alot of causes and symptoms but the solutions are all easy and apparent. Look back above at the causes and see how you could fix them so you prevent overtraining. You need to eat healthy, have rest days, sleep, and keep your workouts short (45mins-1hr) and to the point.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Returning after a Hiatus - Balance in Life

So finals week is over now and I have some free time. I will continue to post articles (hopefully) daily. There is one thing I would like to touch on before continuing, and that is balance.

It is very hard to maintain balance in life but when you do achieve it there are very few stressful moments and very few mountains that you cannot climb. The balance I am talking about is between your body, mind, and spirit. All require and equal amount of attention and a lack of health in one area will adversely affect the other two areas.

Your body, or in this case physical fitness will be our main focus. Like the other aspects when you break yourself down and build yourself back up you become stronger. However you do need to listen to your body when training so that you do not break it down too far. Breaking your body down too far can lead to illness and burnout. However when training properly you will see great benefits such as physical strength, endurance, resistance to illness, increase confidence, and a clearer mind that absorbs and processes information much more productively.

The triangle that these three aspects form is very strong. I encourage you to improve yourself in all three aspects, starting with the body since it is at first the easiest and builds confidence in oneself.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Six Sexy Ab Exercises

Today the focus of most women on a man is his mid-section. Likewise a man also looks for a woman with a nice flat stomach. Without proper exercise you will never be able to develop and show off that midsection. Here are 6 exercises that when done properly and frequently should develop a nice midsection when combined with proper cardio and nutrition.

1.) Weighted Crunches (Swiss Ball): For these you will lay on a swiss ball so that the curvature of your back fits that of the Swiss Ball. You will hold a dumbbell in your arms tight against your chest and you will perform a crunch. You can weight down your legs if you need to.

2.) Hip Raises: Start off laying flat on your back. Place your hands under your butt and raises your legs up vertically into the air. Now you will begin to raise your legs up farther into the air but using your hips. You should feel this in both your lower and upper abdominals.

3.) Lat Flexion: Start off on a decline situp bench. You start sitting upright, cup your left hand and place it over your left ear. Now twist your torso so that your left elbow touches your right knee. Do the exact opposite to work your other side.

4.) Weighted Russian Twists: Again start off on a decline situp bench. Take a weight plate and hold it out away from your body. You now want to do the crunch motion but at the same time twist your body to one side, remember to keep your arms stretched out in front of you with that place. Alternate these twists to work both sides.

5.) Oblique Side Bends: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. With a plate or dumbbell in one hand bend to that side and then bend back past your vertical position. Make sure to not use your hips, arms, shoulders, or back in this. You want to isolate your internal and external obliques and let them do the work. Switch up to the other side once you are finished with the first.

6.) Modified Floor Swipers: These are my most favorite because they make everyone, even someone with seemingly rock hard abs cringe and scream in agony. They start off like Hip Raises however instead of raising your hips for this you let your legs swing to your left or right and barely touch the floor. You then bring them back to vertical position using ONLY your abdominals, do not use your back, legs, or hips. After they are back into vertical position you swing to the other side. Have fun with these and remember to do them slow and keep your body balanced or else you are cheating and won't get any benefit from this exercise.

Use these 6 exercises to liven up your routine or jump start a new one. However remember just knowing these exercises won't get you a 6-pack. It takes alot of hard work and dedication. Goodluck!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Product Review: Whey Tech Pro 24 Protein

First I would like to start off saying that in no way has Whey Tech paid me or even provided me with their product for review. I purchased this product on my own with the intention of personal use. Now onward.

Whey Tech Pro 24 is a Whey Protein Powder with added Amino Acids & Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA). There are three major areas in which this product has been evaluated, them being cost, taste, & effectiveness.

1.) Cost: Whey Tech Pro 24 is very cost effective. I was able to pick up a 5.15lb jar for around $40 w/ tax. That 5lb tub has provided 78 servings for me. On average for the serious weight lifter that is 39 days of protein shakes. Equating to $1/day you get 48grams of protein and not to mention the BCAA's.

2.) Taste: The product comes in 4 flavors, Chocolate, Chocolate Mind, Banana, and Vanilla. I opted for the Chocolate Mint because I felt like Banana would not be mixable with other powders I already had (Strawberry & Vanilla). The Chocolate Mint proved to be very tasty, almost Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream-like. If anyone has experience with the other flavors please let me know what you thought.

3.) Effectiveness: This is probably my favortie protein powder to date. It contains the same amount per serving (24 grams) as other brands but it also contains a nice amount of BCAA's. The BCAA's are the icing on the cake since your body cannot synthesize them on its own. For anyone that doesn't know, BCAA's make up 1/3rd of skeletal muscle and their formal names are Leucine, Isoleucine, & Valine. Leucine alone post-workout helps to raise Insulin levels 221% when taken w/ Carbs post-workout. This is necessary for both muscle restoration and for you to use up those god-awful carbs that seem to haunt you.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Burning the Fat Away - 6 Easy Tips

A key topic everyone wants to know about, especially come summer time when we all go to the beach to have fun and show off the hard work (or not so hard work) we put into our bodies.

Tip #1: Cut out the Fast Food
  • Don't eat anything from fast food restaurants, this includes pizza places such as Pizza Hut or Dominoes. These foods are packed with saturated fats which just help that spare tire grow.
Tip #2: Drink Lots of Water
  • Water helps to flush your system. Drinking a lot of it also helps take some work off the kidney's and liver allowing them to be more productive in turning glycogen into energy for your body.
  • A general rule of thumb it to take your weight and multiply it by .55, that is how many ounces of water you should get a day.
Tip #3: Eat Protein
  • Eat lean meats such as chicken, turkey, and fish. Don't forget to throw in some lean red meats they have some great amino acids that white meats or fish won't give you! Protein also takes a lot of calories to burn, so while you are taking in calories from the meat you are also burning some processing it.
Tip #4: Watch Your Carbs
  • While carbs are very tasty they can be stored as glycogen (fat) when they are not needed. Only eat carbs before and after you need them, such as a running or lifting session. Never and I repeat never eat them before bed, you body does not need carbs while sleeping so it will just store them.
Tip #5: Lift Weights
  • Weightlifting has been proven to burn calories during and even after the workout for up to 90 hours. Weight training helps to build strength, endurance, improve metabolism, and decrease stress.
  • Ladies weightlifting will never make you as big as the guys because you do not have enough testosterone in your systems so don't be afraid to do the same exercises as guys.
Tip #6: Cardio
  • We all hate cardio, its boring, it sucks, it takes too long. But it is essential to burning fat.
  • The best way to burn fat is in your 60-70% of your Heart Rate Max zone.
  • Your Max Heart Rate is calculated by (220 - your age - your resting Heart Rate), multiply this by 60% or 70% to get your target heart rate for your cardio.
  • Remember that when in your fat burning range to do around 45minutes worth of cardio. If you are working harder (outisde of this range) you will start to burn muscle instead of fat.
Follow those 6 easy tips and eat healthy and you will notice an improvement in no time!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Creatine: Know-How, Do's, & Do-Not's

Creatine, a very contested substance within the health and fitness community. Some claim it to have no benefit, others claim it to be the holy grail of supplements. This blog will hopefully get you started on your own research and even use of the product. The first thing to know however is that our bodies naturally produce creatine, however many people take it as a supplement because the body cannot produce desired amounts. The only creatine that actually gives real results however is research grade, this is called Creatine Monohydrate. Avoid at all costs any other form. Many sport scientists have concluded that creatine helps with the following.

  • Gains in Fat Free Mass, including Muscle Mass
  • Increase in Muscle Fiber size
  • Increase in myosin (helps muscle fibers move)
  • Improves Maximal strength/power
  • Improves Sprint performance
  • Improves performance during peak loading peroid
Creatine does this by loading itself up into the muscle fibers and retaining water used for cell growth & repair along with promoting the production of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) the source of energy for cells.

Creatine is a safe supplement but remember to stick to your diet and workout, if you are eating a high amount of water soluble fats then creatine will be packing in those fats along with the water. Creatine is a supplement and should be taken as one, it will not lead to any gains if you do not work out and do not eat healthily.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Holy Trinity to Fitness: Omega 3's

Omega 3 Fatty Acids, found predominantly in fish have been found to help with metabolizing fat stores. However this has been tested to work only when you are exercising, you cannot just take Fish Oil pills and expect to drop pounds. A blind study was done at the University of South Australia that tested what combining fish oil and exercise would do. It came up that the control group who took sunflowwer oil did not loose any weight, however the fish oil group lost and average of 1.2% body fat, this translated into a average loss of 4.4 lbs over the course of 6 weeks. These studies were done with self reported diets as well so there is an uncontrolled. While this is not a major decrease in fat it is a decrease.

Conclusion: With the addition of Omega 3 Fatty Acids to an exercise program it is possible to increase the amount of fat metabolized by the body.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Losing Fat

This is every ones question these days. "How do I loose fat?" or "How do I get rid of this spare tire?". The simple answer is that you need a combined regimen of eating healthy and exercising. There are no, repeat after me, NO MAGIC FAT LOSS METHODS OR PILLS.
With that being said let us get back to the workout and eating plans. We will focus on the eating plan first, this is where a majority of your fat loss will come from. The first rule of thumb is when you wake up drink 16oz. of Water. A Swedish Research team discovered that if you do this once you wake up you will experience a 24% increase in metabolism for the first 90 minutes of your day. Now in our diet we want 40% Protein, 40% Carbs, and 20% Fats (mostly unsaturated). I will leave the calculations up to you but good foods to look into are.
Primary Foods:
  1. Lean Meats, Chicken, & Fish
  2. Whole Grains
  3. Fresh Fruits
  4. Fresh Vegetables
  5. Low fat Dairy Products, remember to read the label
Foods to Avoid:
  1. FAST FOOD or Restaurant Food
  2. High Fat Meats
  3. Bleached Grains
  4. Canned or Frozen Fruits & Vegetables
  5. High Fat Dairy Products
  6. Anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup or High in Sugar
HOWEVER, let yourself have one "unhealthy" meal a week, this is to act as an incentive to keeping with your diet.
The workout plan is what will help you tone your body and ignite your metabolism. You will want to be doing both Cardiovascular and Muscular Loading in order to get the biggest benefit. An alternating plan of Cardio one day, Lifting the next works best. For cardio I prefer wind sprints as I get bored with distance. Here is an example windsprint routine for the first two weeks of your workout. As you progress, add reps to each set every week. By the end of the last set you should feel like you could not run another.
Cardio Workout:
  1. Sprint @ 70% max speed for 60 seconds, 4 reps, rest for 180 seconds between reps
  2. Sprint @ 70% max speed for 60 seconds, 3 reps, rest for 120 seconds between reps
On days that you do not do cardio you should be lifting. Since you are working your legs out the most when you run we will focus on lifting for the upper body, back, and abdominals. Here is an example workout for these muscle groups. For these exercises you should use weights that will leave you barely able to complete the last rep of the last set. Remember you can add weights to the back or abs exercises too once you become comfortable with them.
Lifting Workout:
  1. Dumbbell Bench Press: 5 sets, 5reps
  2. Dumbbell Flys: 5 sets, 5 reps
  3. Dumbbell Curl: 5 sets, 5 reps
  4. Tricep Extensions: 3 sets, 5 reps
  5. Lat Pulldown Bar: 3 sets, 5 reps
  6. Back Hyperextensions: 3 sets, 12 reps
  7. Roman Chair Knees to Chest: 3 sets, 12 reps
  8. Roman Chair Leg Lifts: 3 sets, 12 reps
  9. Double Crunches: 3 sets, 15 reps
Try and Workout 6 days a week (if you are already fit), with the 7th being your rest day. For example
Cardio: Monday, Wed, Fri
Lifting: Tuesday, Thurs, Sat
Follow this plan and I guarantee you will see results. I have been using it for three weeks and i am already seeing great improvements.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Updating/Crossing Over

Hello everyone,

I am crossing over from my old blog so please have paitence while I transfer old articles and get to updating this new blog.