Fit Quick

A few tips to keep your workouts integrative and dynamic while being short and sweet.

Today I’m taking a break from bashing fad and bad diets to talk about some basics of exercise programming. Almost any gym you go to will be rife with fancy and expensive exercise equipment. If using machines is your only mode of strength training, then you are extremely limited to your exercise selection. And heaven forbid someone is on your favorite hamstring curl machine on leg day! So here are a few tips to keep your workouts integrative and dynamic while being short and sweet.
Whats The Point?!?!
 If you read these emails frequently, you know that I am a huge fan of weight lifting. As for cardio… not so much. This is because cardio is not as effective for achieving health goals like strength gains, muscle mass gains, weight loss, or even heart health as compared to a quality weight lifting program. So what’s the point of a weak sauce machine based exercise program (I’m talking to you treadmill only walkers)?!
Keeping It SUPER Simple
 To be clear, cardio isn’t bad. It’s just not a great use of time. So to break the boring and ineffective cycle, try using super sets! A super set is when one set of an exercise is performed directly after a set of a different exercise without rest between them. Think pull ups then push ups. This style of weight lifting is a great tool to use for almost everyone. Even if you’re restricted to machine based programs due to health issues, super sets have a lot to offer including;
 – Saving time
 – Maximal muscle activation
 – Increased metabolic stress
 Exercises are easy to super set and can be placed strategically within a workout to maximize your goals. Here are a few exercises to try out if you’re new to the concept.
Barbell Curls – 2 x 10-12
Dips – BW x Max reps
Front Squat – 3 x6-8
Cable Pull-Throughs – 3 x 12-15
Keep It Real
 If you’re still afraid to get off the bicep curl machine because you don’t know what else to do, I would recommend keeping it real. By this I mean do real world activities as exercise. One such exercise is the weighted carry. This exercise involves you picking up heavy weights and walking with them (think carrying the groceries in from the car). This exercise requires you to stand with good posture and to walk mindfully. And when done right, it is a wonderful full body exercise. I’m also a fan of the front squatbecause I don’t usually carry heavy things around on my back (think crock pot, load of wood for the fire place, or even children). Finally, consider using the kettle bell swing to enhance your ability to do powerful movements (picking something up from the ground and placing it up high). This exercise is also wonderful for driving up the heart rate as well as the metabolism.
 Remember, no one strategy will get you to your goals. It takes a variety of methods and exercises to optimizes health and fitness. So be sure incorporate these strategies into your fitness tool box, but don’t rely on them solely. And always remember that safety comes first! So make sure your form and exercise progression/selection is right for you.

Being Brutal Is Better

Even if you’re not looking to lose weight, the idea behind this post translates to not only health and fitness, but to life goals in general.

This week I wanted to talk about a few tenets of weight losing weight and keeping it off. Even if you’re not looking to lose weight, the idea behind this post translates to not only health and fitness, but to life goals in general. The majority of this post comes from a fantastic article by James Fell who writes great stuff at bodyforwife.com and other news outlets.
The Struggle
People struggle to lose weight for many reasons. To counter that, the weight loss industry seems to have as many methods to lose weight as there are calories on the McDonalds menu. But when it comes down to it, burning more calories than you consume = you, weighing less. But as James puts it “Saying “eat less, move more” to an overweight person is like saying “spend less, earn more” to someone living in crushing poverty.” It’s just not easy for someone to completely change their habits. And with many diet programs being unsustainable, many people turn to dietary tracking. Personally, I don’t track my foods or exercise. That’s because it’s tedious, not super accurate (for calories in or out), and I simply don’t have time to do it on a day to day basis. And generally, the majority of people underestimate their food intake by as much as 50%.
The Reality
I, by no means, am saying not to track your calories. Tracking calories works. But to do it right you need to be brutally honest with it. This means you need to take everything that you consume into account. Not only that, but you need to make sure you are putting in the right quantities. Leaving off a handful of nuts because you think it’s a “healthy snack” or simply eyeballing a scoop of mashed potatoes, means you’re not tracking. It means you’re plugging in information to feel good about yourself and say “hey I only ate 1,200 calories today! Yay for me!” If you’re not tracking your food correctly then you might as well not do it at all.
The Solution
Being brutally honest with yourself is key. And honestly, almost everyone is bad at food and exercise tracking. And until you get really good at the skill of calorie counting, the result generally is nothing more than self-deception. Instead, I suggest creating and practicing healthy habits while you develop your tracking skills. Doing things like cooking for yourselfwalking whenever you get a chancediscovering new NEAT exercisesknowing when to ask for helpactually getting organized and planning (heaven forbid), and building a support network are all great foundations for success.
Being brutally honest with yourself means not holding back when looking at your life choices. I know for me, this message will improve the way I reflect and improve as a person. For more info on why we suck at calorie counting and why being brutally honest is the best way to go, check out the main article here.

Death Taxes and Sarcopenia

Starting around age 30 we all start to lose muscle mass and there is absolutely nothing we can do to stop it. Might as well accept your fate right? WRONG!

This week we are talking about how to minimize sarcopenia. What the heck is sarcopenia you ask? Well as the title of this week’s post implies, it is the inevitable decline in the strength and size of our muscles as we age. Starting around age 30 we all start to lose muscle mass and there is absolutely nothing we can do to stop it. However, several factors can exacerbate sarcopenia to extremes. In fact, it can cause loss of mobility and function, decline the ability to perform activities of daily living, increase risk of cardiometabolic disease, and increase chances of falls and hip fractures.
So the only things in life that are guaranteed are death, taxes, and sarcopenia. Might as well accept your fate right? WRONG! Here are a few key factors to keep your muscles, and consequently your lifestyle, from wasting away.
PROTEIN
I’ll start with protein because I know you all are protein pros! Protein is essential to muscle function. So it should come as no surprise that if you are under consuming amino acids, you will be at greater risk to suffer from advanced sarcopenia as you age. It’s important to note here that we need more protein as we age. So don’t be a part of the 50% of the elderly population who doesn’t get enough protein. Shoot for 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of weight per day (calculate here).
ANTIOXIDANTS
Antioxidants are in the media constantly. They are touted as being the miracle source of all sorts of health. The reality is that they only play a role in our overall health. What they do is reduce oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is responsible for all sort of things, not all of them bad. So for some the key is moderation, and for others it is supplementation. So how does it affect sarcopenia? Well in several ways, but really the most important way is that it reduces or even can reverse anabolic resistance. Now this is extremely important because anabolic resistance basically means your muscles can’t use proteins, and thus they will wither away.
RESISTANCE TRAINING
By far the most important factor in reducing sarcopenia is resistance training exercise. I think this point is even more important for women because in addition to sarcopenia they are more likely to suffer from bone diseases like osteoporosis. What resistance training does is force the body to adapt to the stress placed upon it. So your muscles get bigger because they need to adapt to lift more weight, and bones get bigger to support the added stress from the muscles. This is why I always encourage women of all ages to lift weights. It’s also why I cringe when a women tells me “but I don’t want to get too bulky”. James Fell wrote a fantastic piece on this very topic and I encourage everyone to read it here.
So whether you need help on increasing your protein intake, antioxidants, or figuring out an exercise program, I’m always here provide assistance.