Archive for January, 2011

I don’t understand why I see people at the gym for hours at a time.  Unless, you are a bodybuilder trying to put on mass with multiple sets and a large volume of exercises.  Or, maybe a person training for an Ironman.  For the average workout buff, looking for general conditioning and fitness, an hour tops is all you need. But, a 20 minute workout having the same impact as a typical long winded session at the gym really appeals to many.  Fast fitness that targets all the major muscle groups, makes you sweat, torches tons of calories, boosts the body’s overall metabolic rate, and still leaves time for a shower? Where do you sign up?  I’m talking, of course, about HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training.
How does HIIT get powerful results?  The answer is in the science behind it all.  The goal of HIIT is to hold an anaerobic state over an accumulated amount of time.  This creates a high VO2 max and greater effect on EPOC(exercise post-oxygen consumption).  In layman’s terms, a longer calorie burn for hours after the workout.  It’s designed with rest intervals to allow you to do longer and harder bursts during your workout.  An example of a HIIT workout:  5 minutes is generally spent with warm up and a cool down at the end (essential for preventing injuries & not over-working your heart!), and 15 is spent with the workout.  Of the 15, the majority of the time will be spent in bursts or sprints – depending on your fitness level.  Another popular HIIT workout, is the Tabata method.  With the Tabata protocol, you pick an exercise and perform a 20 second intense work period, followed by a 10 second rest period. And, you do 8 cycles of the exercise.  I’d choose a multi-joint compound movement like a burpee so you get more bang for your buck. 

Check out the video below :




Study after study has shown that regular physical activity — even at moderate levels — enhances physical and mental conditioning, while reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and obesity. But unfortunately, many Americans still choose a sedentary lifestyle. Here are some tips to encourage you to get off the couch and into the gym:

  • Find something you enjoy. Keep experimenting until you find an activity that moves you, both mentally and physically. If you don’t like what you’re doing, you won’t be motivated to keep it up. If you’re not sure what you like, explore your options: Take a dance class, try yoga or pilates, or sign up for a spinning class.
  • Set goals. Write down your goals, reviewing them often. Be realistic. If you’ve started out walking for 10 minutes, don’t aim to run a marathon in three months. Set goals that are specific, measurable, and with a time frame in mind to encourage action upon attaining them.
  • Exercise in the morning. Statistics show that people are more likely to stick with a fitness program if they exercise first thing in the morning. Exercising at the beginning of the day provides a jumpstart to your morning, and you don’t have to worry about something coming up later in the day to sidetrack your evening workout plans.  Plus, your body is fresh and more in focus than after a long day at the office.
  • Schedule your workouts. Make exercise as high a priority as a doctor’s appointment or a business lunch. People don’t cancel their doctor’s appointment so why would cancel your workout session.  Sit down with a calendar and your planner a week or more in advance and schedule your exercise sessions around your other obligations. As you would if you had to cancel a meeting or appointment, reschedule your exercise sessions. You and your health are worth it!
  • Reward yourself. Reward yourself as you complete smaller goals to motivate you to stay on track toward larger goals. When you can complete a 30-minute walk on the treadmill 5 days in a row or eat clean and healthy all week, for example, reward yourself with a free meal and enjoy your favorite foods . When you’ve stayed with the program for 12 weeks, get a new pair of sneakers or buy a new outfit.
  • Abandon the all-or-nothing approach. Don’t have an hour to exercise? Try 30 minutes. It’s better than nothing, and your body will still reap the rewards of a shorter workout. It’s not about the time, it’s about the consistency.

If you “fall off the wagon” of good workout habits, don’t beat yourself up about it. Simply get back to your routine without further procrastination. Remember: it’s about progress over time, not perfection!

How many times have you gone all day without eating? Skipping breakfast? Or, possibly, you thought your eating plan kicked off right with that half bagel and cream cheese for breakfast. Then, you eat a small cup of salad for lunch. This is exactly what you see with all the information out there regarding weight loss. Eat less, lose weight!  The less you put into your mouth, the more fat you’ll lose. Eat 1200 calories, maybe 1000 and get the body you’ve always wanted. This is false information. Unless, you’re goals are to continue on a Yo-Yo dieting approach where you lose some weight, put it back on time and time again. The body doesn’t work this way.

The body’s number one priority is to keep you alive. If you fail to give your body enough food each day, it will begin to shift into starvation mode as a defense mechanism.  Put simply, your body will protect itself from the lack of food/calories.  Now, you’ve probably heard of starvation mode, but it’s not likely that you fully understand the process.  So, I’ll try and explain it the best I can.

As you begin to curb your food intake, especially if you are on a highly restrictive diet, the body begins to send out hormonal signals to decrease metabolic rate. At this time, calorie burning is slowed, preservation of body fat is enhanced and appetite is increased. This is totally the opposite scenario the person trying to maintain lean mass and reduce body fat was shooting for.  One of the major players in this whole chain of events is the hormone leptin.  When you heavily restrict calories, leptin levels plummet, sending a signal to the brain that you are not eating enough food. Once this happens, all those other things (decreased metabolism, stalled fat loss, increased appetite, etc) occur as a chain reaction.  Fat loss becomes one heck of a battle.  It’s the main reason why so many individuals fail at the whole dieting for fat loss thing.  Discipline and willpower cannot overcome the power of hormones. So, what should you do? 

The key is to create a moderate caloric deficit through both diet and exercise—enough to have you losing fat at a consistent, steady rate, but not so severe that it triggers your body’s starvation protection mechanism. Don’t ever skip meals, especially breakfast.  Keep a food log. Know your calorie intake. To avoid the disasters of starvation mode, I recommend keeping your caloric deficit moderate—no more than 500 calories below your daily maintenance intake. The fat loss will be slower but more permanent.  Also, once a week, increase your caloric load (cheat meal) to shift your metabolism into overdrive. This will increase leptin levels telling your body you have enough food which allows for greater fat loss. Eat more, lose more. It’s a counterintuitive concept, but one that will save you a lot of dietary frustration in the future.