Archive for the ‘General Health’ Category

I decided to start filling you in on things that really bother me in the gym and occasionally elsewhere. I am a very laid back person but for some reason things seem to strike me wrong while I am working out. Most of these pet peeves are based on common myths that people uphold with their workouts resulting from lack of knowledge so I intend for it to be educational as opposed to me just blowing off steam.

With that said, the first pet peeve I will address is walking on the treadmill or elliptical. I’m not talking about walking for recovery from your previous 5 days of lifting where you want to get the blood pumping but are too worn out to do intervals. I’m talking about the people whose workouts revolve around them walking.

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Ladies, I hate to call you out, but this is mostly directed at you. If you are a male and do this, just head over to the dumbbell rack and lift something.

It seems to be even more of an issue on the beloved elliptical. Believe it or not, those things will not break if you get up to the speed of a jog.

I’m not sure why it bothers me other than it’s a waste of time and the people doing it usually don’t have the ideal BMI (nicest way I could say they are chubby).

You could spend 1/5 of the time in the gym doing either intervals or move at a pace where you actually break a sweat and accomplish the same caloric expenditure. You resting metabolic rate would also be raised for much longer after your workout was completed.

This issue also carries over to people that hold on to the handles while they walk at an incline. You are basically letting the treadmill drag your legs while you hold on for the ride. Don’t jack the incline and speed up so high that you can’t walk like you would on normal ground. You are only lying to yourself by actually thinking you burned as many calories as the treadmill said you did.

Dont-Hold-On-To-Your-Treadmill

Instead, push yourself to do a real workout. There is nothing wrong with basing your workout around cardio as long as it is challenging.

 

 

Somewhere along the line, a terrible myth was born that cardio was the key for fat loss (when I say fat loss I also mean weight loss). Running miles every day and spending 40 minutes on the elliptical at a pace that wouldn’t even be considered a jog are the answer to cutting into those fat reserves you’ve built up over the years.

Unfortunately, that isn’t true at all. I have explained why HIIT training is an effective fat loss method. Many of the same principles and ideas carry over when using weight training as a method for fat loss.

Here are two of the basic scientific reasons it is better to weight train for fat loss:

For starters, lifting weights increases your resting metabolic rate. Muscle has a higher energy cost than fat so as you add lean body mass, your body has to constantly work at a higher level. This results in burning more calories throughout the day while just sitting around.

Another bonus of weight training is the hormonal response involved. Testosterone levels are increased along with insulin. This leads to more efficient break down of protein and carbs. It also helps with the mobilization and metabolism of fatty acids. Your body actually learns to be more effective with breaking down and moving fat to use as a fuel source.

Two other big reasons the general public doesn’t utilize weights when trying to slim down:

  1. Jogging is easy. You don’t have to push yourself when you are jogging at a nice easy pace.
  2. The general public doesn’t know what to do in the weight room or how to properly do it. You see people wondering from machine to machine using a weight they could complete 35 reps with but are surprised they aren’t seeing any results.

Skinny fat people jog. No one wants to be skinny fat. Or have a barbwire bicep tat.

Don't be skinny fat

So what should you do?

Challenge yourself. The weight should be heavy enough to where the last rep is difficult to complete whether you are doing a set of 3 or 15… and stay below 15.

Full body workouts, 3 days a week. Multi-joint lifts (squat) burn more fat than isolation lifts (think bicep curls). Drop the upper and lower body splits and go with full body days so you can incorporate exercises like a DB Squat to Overhead Press.

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Superset. Stop standing around and socializing in between sets and add a superset. Start with pairing a more intense exercise, like to DB Squat to Overhead Press, with an isolation lift, like a bicep curl. This will allow you to do twice as much work in the same amount of time. Take 15-30 seconds of rest between the two. As you progress, make the exercise pairing more difficult or add a short sprint on the treadmill.

Circuits. Once you get a hang of supersets, start doing circuits. Circuits have the same idea of a superset, just more exercises. Put together 3+ exercises and complete them in succession with short breaks in between each exercise. Once you finish one round, take a 1-2 minute break and go again.

Disclaimer: Circuits are hard, really hard. If they aren’t hard, you are doing something wrong. I personally hate doing circuits because of this reason, but if you want to cut some fat, it’s the way to go.

Below is a sample circuit. Complete 1 set of each exercise then move on to the next after a 15 second break. Take a 90 second break after each time through all 5 exercises. Complete the whole circuit 3 times. Start with 10 reps at a low weight and increase reps first, then weight as it gets easier.

  1. DB Squat to Overhead Press
  2. Push-Ups
  3. Forward Lunges
  4. Lat Pulldown
  5. Tricep Ext
  6. 10 second sprint on treadmill

The possibilities are endless with circuits. A general rule of thumb is to make the first two exercises a multi-joint upper and lower body lift and work more towards an isolation exercise. I also like to throw in some type of cardio to really elevate the heart rate.

Try it out and let me know how it goes. If you have any other suggestions for circuits or personal favorites, please feel free to share!

New Year, New Opportunity

Posted: January 14, 2013 in General Health
Tags: ,

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I’m excited to announce that I have started to write for STACK. For those of you that aren’t familiar with STACK, it is a website and magazine that offer great videos and articles on workout and health information. They do a great job of showing you what the professionals are doing and providing workouts and exercises that are specific to each sport.

You can check out there website HERE and their Youtube page HERE. My first article is on offseason core training and can be found HERE.

I am very grateful for this opportunity and looking forward to a successful partnership.

I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. For one, you set yourself up for failure. If there is something you want to change in your life and you aren’t willing to change it immediately, are you really going to do it just because it’s a new year? Doubtful.

Secondly, the resolutions almost always include something along the lines of exercising, eating healthier, or just improving overall health. It bothers me when people don’t place a premium on their health. Shocker, I know.

How do you define exercising or eating healthier? Walking 5 minutes a day and not dipping your fries in the leftover grease from your burger? I hope you haven’t broken that one yet.

The idea of resolutions is great. The carrying out of the resolutions is the problem. We fail within the first 10 days of the year and throw it out the window because we just don’t quite have it this year. But next year is definitely the year…..

So what should you do instead of making resolutions? Lucky for you I have the solutions to your resolutions. See what I did there?

Set Descriptive, Attainable Goals

As I pointed out earlier, saying you want to exercise every day doesn’t mean anything. Be detailed with your goals. Also, don’t set goals you know you have no chance of completing. I’m not saying don’t push yourself, but be realistic. If you never workout, are you really going to start working out for 2 hours a day, 7 days a week? Probably not.

Set Smaller Goals to Complete the Main Goal

Maybe eventually you would love to be able to work out for 2 hours every day, but start with a smaller goal. By completing the smaller goals, you give yourself a sense of accomplishment and a way to track your progression.

Be Creative

Setting the same cliche goals as everyone else is basically setting the goal of being boring and average. Set a goal for yourself that will separate you from the norm.

Have a Partner

Setting the same or similar goals as a friend will give you accountability and the extra push you may need to stick to it. My workouts are always significantly better when I go to the gym with someone else. We are able to push each other and provide a spot for each other when needed. The same principles translate over into life.

Don’t Let Perfection be the Enemy 

Don’t let one slip up ruin the goal. For instance, nutrition expert Dr. John Berardi has a 90% rule. He believes that it is important to stick to healthy eating habits 9 out of every 10 meals. The 10th can be a cheat meal. Ideally you aim for 100%, but a mistake here or there isn’t the end of the world. I think this rule could be applied to almost any area of life you are trying to change.

Hopefully this gave you some ideas that will make 2013 different for you. Start knocking out your goals immediately and don’t let anything stand in your way.

I hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful Christmas with their family and friends. Since you are probably stuck in your house with some less desirable in-laws or extended family, here are some body weight workout ideas that you can knock out.

 

If you are as fortunate as I am to have a 60 lb weighted vest willing to jump on you at any time, I suggest using it.

Here is Charles’ contribution to the post. He also recommends a few games of basketball on a hang-on-the-back-of-a-door goal for good cardio.

 

 

Merry Christmas from the Stovers!

 

No, this article and/or exercise is not a joke. Babymakers may be my favorite ab exercise and is also great for increasing sagittal plane movement in the hips.

I have previously addressed my distain for traditional ab exercises like crunches. Most ab work consists of shortening the muscles and placing strain on the back. Babymakers, on the other hand, work to lengthen the muscles of the rectus abdominis and hip flexors as the hips move into anterior tilt. Because the anterior tilt occurs first, this movement pattern fits with the idea of having an eccentric contraction (lengthening) before an concentric contraction (shortening). Needless to say, hip mobility is also improved while no tension is placed on the lumbar spine as it is during a normal crunch. Shoulder stability is also added if you add movement like I did in the video.

The burn generated by crunches is still there so if that’s something you can’t live without, so no worries. Try it out and let me know what you think.

Over the weekend, Rick Majerus, college basketball coach, passed away. Coach Majerus had ongoing heart problems and died of heart failure at the age of 64. He had been overweight for many years, and unfortunately it finally caught up to him.

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This served as a reminder to me what terrible shape our nation is in as a whole. For some reason we are worried about a lot less important things than our health. Since the hot topic seems to be the economic state of our nation, let’s look at our health from a purely financial point of view.

USA Today found that obesity costs an extra $4,879 for women and  $2,646 for men. When you factor in earlier loss of life, it goes up to $8,365 for women and $6,518 for men. I actually think this is low because it did not mention anything about increased health insurance, which factors in BMI*, and extra medical bills that could possibly occur from general decreased health due to the extra weight.

An article by CNN in 2010 stated that a research study “found that indirect and direct costs of obesity is as high as $147 billion annually” based on 2006. I guaranSHEED that number has increased considerably.

Now imagine investing more in your health now to prevent future expenses that would occur with weight related problems. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out investing $1000 a year now to prevent $2000-4000 in expenses later is a smart thing to do. You also can’t put a price tag on the increased quality of life and added years to spend with your family.

I know what you are thinking, you are suggesting people to spend more on exercising because that results in people like me having more work. While this is true, it is hardly my motive. I find it sad to see the direction our country is going. I think it is terrible that 33% of children are overweight or obese and are set up for a life battling a weight problem because of the lifestyle that has become the norm in America.

If you don’t know the steps to take or just need accountability, spend the money to get the proper guidance. It will be the smartest investment you have ever made.

*BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It is used to classify a person based on their height and weight. Average is defined as 18.5-24.9. Overweight is 25-29.9. Obese is 30 and above. It does not take into account muscle mass so it can be misleading.

One of the questions I get a lot from athletes of all levels (usually males) is what do I need to do to gain weight?

SkinnyKid

The solution I have found is groundbreaking.

EAT MORE!

It’s quite simple: you gain weight by consuming more calories than you burn. That is why our nation is overweight. No exercise + terrible eating habits = fat gain. I gained 3 lbs on Thanksgiving because I literally sat around and ate all day until I was uncomfortable. If you are an athlete and have trouble gaining weight or keeping weight on, you are more than likely consuming less calories than you burn every day. For me personally, I need around 3200-3500 calories on my lifting days. Michael Phelps was said to eat 10,000 calories a day while he trained. This is slightly higher than the recommended 2000 calories for the general public.

It is important to follow the guidelines I laid out for you in the Nutrition section, along with eating foods with high nutritional value as opposed to just piling on the fast food. Not all calories are created equal, and the calories from healthier foods will provide more nutrients to your body than something like Romen Noodle.

Nate Green did an insane 34 day weight manipulation on himself. While I would never recommend an athlete, or anyone else, doing this to themselves, take a look at his diet over the first 28 days he was trying to gain weight.

BREAKFAST

  • 2 frozen bananas, blended until creamy
  • Small amount of almond milk
  • 3 scoops of casein protein
  • 2 squares of dark chocolate
  • 4 pieces of whole grain bread
  • 2 tbsp almond butter
  • 2 tbsp jam

SUPER SHAKE

  • 8 oz unsweetened almond milk
  • 4 tbsp heavy whipping cream
  • 2 scoops protein powder
  • handful of frozen raspberries
  • handful of frozen blueberries

LUNCH

  • 1.5 pounds of lean meat
  • 3 cups of vegetables
  • 1/2 cup sauerkraut
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp Udo’s oil

DINNER

  • 1 pound lean meat
  • 3 cups of vegetables
  • 1/2 cup sauerkraut
  • 2 pieces of fruit
  • 1 tbsp fish oil

That is a TON of food. I’m not suggesting you follow this exact diet or any others, I just think it is helpful to see what I mean when I say eat more. This is definitely more.

If you want to look like our friend at the top, eat like him. If you want to put on some weight, get out your stretchy pants and go to work.

This summer, my sister pulled some strings and had Charles throw out the first pitch at the Augusta Greenjackets game, a local Single A baseball team. Needless to say, Charles was very excited when he heard the news. We didn’t realize for about a day or so that he didn’t really understand what was meant by throwing out the first pitch. For those of you who don’t follow baseball, throwing out the first pitch is kind of ceremonial thing done in baseball where someone, usually a hometown sports figure or celebrity, throws the ball to the catcher before the game starts. He was talking about it non stop and mentioned something about striking someone out. My dad and I were confused before we realized he thought that throwing out the first pitch meant he was actually going to face a hitter.

We had to explain to him that there would be no hitter and he would just simply be throwing the pitch to the catcher, in which he responded, “Ahhhh man”.

Charles’ First Pitch

Apologies for having to risk pulling something to view the video. It’s my sister’s fault.

You could pawn this off as just a case of a child being naive, but I believe it’s a kid having extreme confidence in his abilities. I lean towards the latter because of the way Charles acts and the fact he is used to playing against grown men (My dad and I. Yes, I know neither of us are professional hitters, but to him we are and I certainly don’t discourage this idea.)

The reason of why Charles believes he can compete and succeed against professional baseball players at age 5 really is NOT important. What is important is that he truly believes he has the ability to play at that level, and he isn’t scared of the idea at all.

I am shocked with how kids doubt themselves these days. You would think that the overprotective parents that baby their children would produce a kid that is confident from mommy and daddy telling him he’s the world’s greatest when he’s terrible. Instead, it has produced kids that do not believe they can get the job done. How is a coach supposed to expect an athlete to produce when they don’t expect it themselves?

Also, many times the athlete won’t succeed simple because they don’t have the confidence that they will out perform their opponent. I can speak from experience on this. When I struggled pitching in college, I started feeling like every pitch I threw had to be perfect to perform the way I thought I should. This caused me to pitch “tight” and my performance only got worse. In the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college, I felt great physically and was very confident and pitched the best I ever have in my life.

Whatever sport you play, take a lesson from Charles and truly believe you are the best person on the field or court. You will never be able to reach a level that you do not see as obtainable for yourself.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted: November 22, 2012 in General Health
Tags:

I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy one of the few days you can eat anything and everything and sit around and watch football. Make sure you finish your meal by 4 so you can watch RGIII show up Romo and the Cowboys. 

Happy Thanksgiving from the Stover family!