Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Worst Core Exercise

In my post on my main blog over at the Healthy Body Revolution site, I gave 31 great core exercise ideas that are better than crunches.

Why did I do this?

Because crunches suck!

They are the most overrated exercise in the history of overrated exercises. Do a thousand crunches and get a six-pack...or just a bad back!

Stay away from crunches and check out the core exercises that I do feel are very beneficial for you in that blog post. But first, if you want a six-pack, please make sure you clean up your diet!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Why I Hate Diets

Diets don't work. They don't work for weight loss. They don't work for weight gain. They just don't work, that is unless you do not want to be healthy.

For this reason, I hate diets.

But why don't they work? They don't work because they do not take into consider everyone's individual needs. Everyone is different at the biochemical level so everyone responds to different foods in different ways.

That's a lot of differences for a one-approach-fits-all type of diet.

And don't even get me started on calorie restricting diets. You are limiting the amount of energy you are giving your body.

But what if your body NEEDS more energy? Where is going to come from?

I'll tell you where it's going to come from. It's going to come from your muscles. Your body, when it is starving for energy, will begin utilizing your own muscle tissue for its energy needs. This will cause you to lose precious muscle and consequently to drop your metabolic rate.

When your body does not get enough calories, it also goes into starvation mode. This means it starts to conserve energy by slowing down your body's processes. This slows your metabolic rate and means you will burn fewer calories over the course of the day. Thus, eventually, weight gain becomes likely.

Diets don't work. So just avoid them. They are unhealthy and will do you no good in the long-run. Unless you are looking to put a band-aid on your current problems, do not go on a diet.

OK rant over.

Making Use of Fitness Equipment For a Challenge

If your goal is to get fit, there are a number of pieces of fitness equipment that you can use to better reach your goals. This equipment can provide the boost you need to take your workouts to the next level.

The stability ball is one such piece of equipment. Also called an exercise ball, swiss ball, body ball, and a number of other things; the stability ball can challenge you by creating an unstable surface. You can use the ball as a bench or a seat. You can lie on it, sit on it, or brace your arms on it. Just about any exercise you can do with a bench or on the ground becomes even more difficult with a stability ball.

Balance boards are another great way to provide an unstable surface to exercise on. Any exercise that can be done in a standing position can be done using balance boards or a BOSU balance trainer. Balance boards challenge the stabilizer muscles of your feet, ankles, knees, and hips. They work muscles that do not get worked in the typical resistance workout.

Medicine balls are great for power and core exercises. If you have a partner, you can do medicine ball chest passes, overhead throws, and rotational throws to each other. This is a great way to make your workout more dynamic and provide you with a different type of challenge.

All of these above pieces of fitness equipment are great tools to add a new challenge to your workouts. While there are more, I feel that these are the best of the best.

So give them a try, take on the challenge and have some fun!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Core Training

One of the most common weight loss exercises I see people doing at the gym is the crunch. People will do hundreds or even thousands of crunches every single day! People do crunches when they wake up in the morning and when they go to bed at night. There are abs classes that are loaded with crunches. So why do most of these people still have a lot of belly fat?

Core training is not about doing a lot of crunches. It is about strengthening your core to provide a strong center for your body so you can lift things and support yourself in a healthy manner. Crunches do not do this.

Crunches are not a functional exercise. The only thing they do is make your abdominal muscles bigger. They are great for the bodybuilder and pretty much no one else.

The crazy thing is you can grow your abdominal muscles without crunches.

The best core training exercises are the plank, side plank, and bird dog. These hit the stabilizer muscles of your spine and lower back very hard. They are great for protecting your lower back during your workouts and everyday activity.

If you want great abs, these three exercises will help, too. In addition, you can throw in woodchops and reverse woodchops to work the obliques. You can add stability ball or ab-wheel rollouts for a concentric contraction to hypertrophy the abdominal muscles. You can also add a cross-body mountain climber for a great, dynamic core exercise that is also great for conditioning.

Don't do crunches. They are useless and put strain on your lower back. Strengthen your core the right way instead. And experience new levels of health and fitness as a result.

Consistency and Weight Loss

One of my favorite quotes of all time is by Og Mandino: "I know that little things repeated will complete any undertaking."

This is especially true for weight loss. Keep doing the little things day after day, week after week, month after month; and you will certainly get to your goals. Replacing one soda every day with water may only be 120 calories or so at first, but after one week that is 840 calories, after one month that is 3,600 calories, and after one year that is 43,800!

If 3,500 calories is one pound of fat, replacing one soda or juice every day with water saves you 12.5 pounds of fat in a year! That is very significant. See, the little things add up in big ways when you are consistent.

Now what if you were to cut your five cookie (400) snack down to four. After a week that is 560 calories. Then you cut it down to three and that will save you another 1,120 calories. Then you cut down to two to save 1,680 calories. Then you switch those two cookies for a serving of almonds and you are eating about the same calories, but now you have a healthy snack. And for this month of progressive minor improvement you have saved yourself about 5,000 calories. That's over a pound of fat right there!

The little things add up.

Be consistent with your weight loss program. Lose just one pound of fat each week for a year and you will have lost 52 pounds of fat! You may not even want or need to lose that much! And that's a very realistic amount to lose in a healthy manner.

Keep doing what you're doing if you're doing the right things. Keep moving forward. There will be good times and bad times but do not stop moving. Do not stop working for what you want. Keep going!

Be consistent.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Weight Loss Tips: What is EPOC?

Have you ever thought of this thing called EPOC when people talk about weight loss and fat loss? EPOC stands for Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption and is a very important aspect of weight loss that needs to be understood in order for you to create a strong exercise program.

Basically, EPOC means that, after exercise, the body's processes are all vamped up a bit. This means the body is still working harder than at rest for up to a few hours after exercise. This extra exercise requires more energy, and that means it also will burn more calories.

So the goal of your exercise program should be to maximize EPOC, both in magnitude and duration.

So how do you do this?

It's actually quite simple. All you have to do to get more out of EPOC is increase your high intensity work. High intensity exercise has a far greater effect on EPOC than low intensity exercise.

This means you should be doing more resistance training with moderate to heavy resistance and more interval training. These types of exercise are typically high intensity in nature and will elicit a great response in the form of increased EPOC.

Here's some more advice: Try a total body circuit training routine of about 30-45 minutes three times per week. Add 20-25 minutes of intervals either after the circuits or on days in between twice a week. This combination is sure to get a good metabolism boost from EPOC. Give it a try and see the fat fall off!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Exercise at Home

Just because you cannot get to the gym or cannot afford a gym membership does not mean you have an excuse not to exercise. You can literally exercise just about anywhere at anytime.

Thousands of years ago, I don't think too many people had gym memberships. Still, they managed to keep themselves in pretty good shape. Look at the statues of ancient Greeks and Romans. Those dudes were pretty ripped, if I do say so myself.

The most obvious way to get in exercise outside a gym is to run. Running outdoors is so much better than running indoors because you actually go somewhere! You can actually feel the progress. Plus you get to take in fresh air, enjoy beautiful scenery and go wherever you want to go. You can find some place to run no matter where you live. While I am not a big fan of aerobic exercise for weight loss purposes, there are plenty of people who enjoy running and it is a great way to improve your cardiovascular health.

Another way to work out outside of a gym is to use bodyweight exercises. Pushups, stickups, lunges, prisoner squats, and planks are all great exercises that require only your bodyweight as resistance. There are hundreds of great bodyweight exercises, so you should never have a problem getting in a workout even if you have no equipment around.

A final example of exercising outside of a gym is to buy some of your own fitness equipment. You can cheaply and easily set up a great exercise place in your house with some dumbbels, kettlebells, exercise balls, mats, and resistance bands. Even if you are on a budget, you can get what you need and start working out from the convenience of your own home.

You do not need a gym to get in a great workout. Having one is nice, but not having one is no excuse to be out of shape.