Here’s a very interesting story as a reporter goes through a training cycle to compete in a figure competition. Wall Street Journal reporter Alyssa Abkowitz took on a more intense project after toning up for her wedding by entering into a fitness competition and discovering the world of bikini bodybuilding. In the video she discusses the process along with her diet and workout routines.
If you’re anything like this author and most other people in the world you wouldn’t mind if you had a little more control over your weight. The advice we hear is simple of course – eat less calories and exercise more and the weight will come off. Unfortunately putting this into practice successfully is often easier said than done. The following hints and tips are directed at helping the modern human drop their body fat percentage and get into healthier shape in a way that synergises with the time limited modern lifestyle of juggling a full time job and a family. I hope you can use some of these tips in your every day life as you will definitely see some results if you stick to it.
Eat right – even when it’s difficult
The ideal way to eat healthily all the time is to be prepared in advance. If you wait until the last minute to cook dinner or do your grocery shopping you are much more susceptible to making poor dietary choices. Take time out of your schedule in the evening to make a legitimate plan of what you’re going to eat and what your calorie budget is. Go out shopping on a full stomach (to avoid impulse naughty purchases) and stick to exactly what’s on your list. If you don’t have time to make your meals fresh from scratch every day then ensure you make the time during the weekend time to cook an array of healthy meals that you can freeze or store in the fridge to call upon when hunger strikes. Taking this extra preparation time will make it much easier to stay disciplined. The other major challenge most of our belly’s face is the proneness to snacking during work hours. If you don’t have the time to eat a proper breakfast in the morning you should consider grouping up with your co-workers and actually have fresh fruit delivered to your office on a daily basis. There are loads of companies that offer this service, such as fresh fruit delivery company ‘fruitfuloffice’ -which serves the whole mainland of the UK, these guys are one of many who will be happy to deliver custom made fresh fruit packages to wherever you’re working and it will really help fend off those sugar cravings we’re all susceptible to.
Work out at the office
Just because you are stuck at your desk working doesn’t mean you are unable to have a work out! There are all manner of strength and conditioning techniques you can perform at the office. You just need to get creative with your approach. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, do abdominal contractions at your desk, give your arms a workout with some of your heavier piles of paperwork! All you need is the enthusiasm to see the potential workouts in the space around you and you’ll never be short of something to do.
Chart your progress online
We’re lucky in our modern era of online technology because it’s never been easier to gauge progress and connect ourselves to a support network of like-minded individuals. There are many fantastic websites exclusively dedicated to helping you map your weight, calorie intake, workouts and routine. Most of them are available for free, and you’ll find having this resource to fall back upon for support will really help you remain disciplined and focused on your goal.
The best of luck to you on your mission to look and feel healthier!
The chest is composed of large, powerful muscles, capable of withstanding intense force and trauma. That being said, it usually takes extra focus and effort to significantly wear them out and leave you with that lingering, ever-so-sweet soreness.
Since added work is necessary for peak chest stimulation, workouts are often structured with Arnold-style immensity, from the countless numbers of sets, to the fine-tuning exercises that can go on ad nauseum. All of the aforementioned can mean a serious time commitment in the gym, but what about if you only have a few minutes to tear it up before you have to head out?
The answer is: The Nemen (Nee-men) Special, which can reduce your mighty chest musculature straight down to rubble; all in one exercise.
What you will need: A bench, 45 lb barbell, eight – 10 lb plates (these weights may vary due to individual strength), preferably a partner, and a hearty appetite for suffering.
The exercise resembles that of a lightweight bench press drop set, with maximum repetitions being executed at each weight increment. If done correctly, meaning you attack each interval intensely and are 100% unable to complete a repetition on your own, you will be getting double takes from your fellow gym-goers as they walk by and chuckle at the image of you painfully struggling to rep out with just the bar.
Set 1, Four tens per side: To failure.
A spotter should help you with the last one or two reps, then once the bar is racked, remove the weight with as much speed as possible – time is of the essence!
Set 2, Three tens per side: To failure.
Set 3, Two tens…
Set 4, One ten…
Set 5, Just the bar!
By set 5, you should be working up a sweat, perhaps be slightly winded, and defintiely have a hearty exhaustion permeating your upper body. Although the bar is, well, the bar, the load should be adequate enough to reduce your pecs to a whimpering mess and you should get to the point where you need a spot to rack it.
Congratulations, you now know one of the most time-efficient chest nukes; next time you are lookign to quickly shred your pecs before class/work/a night out, give the Nemen Special a try!
As yet another year in the new millennium gets underway, it isn’t a secret that scribbled next to ‘Quit smoking’, or ‘Cut back on alcohol intake’, many a resolute soul jotted down earnest promises regarding the acquisition of fitness and health. In other words:
Get a six-pack.
Pack on ‘x’ amount of lean muscle.
Lose ‘x’ amount of fat.
Complete particular endurance event.
Return to pre-pregnancy body.
Lower blood pressure.
And so on and so forth, et cetera, et cetera.
In fitness terms, an entire year is a long time; definitely sufficient enough to complete a transformation that would make even Voltron blush. However, if the modus operandi is faulty, no amount of time or trendy new exercises and equipment will yield the results you really deserve.
So where do you go for that extra edge? That one X-factor that will separate your killer new routine from the ones that do little more than cause mass boredom and a hopeless staring contest with your anything-but-broken-in running shoes.
What if there was a variable regarding training that most people never considered and ever had the option of seeing listed alongside a workout routine? Not only is this tidbit free to everyone, but also incredibly potent and if learned correctly, can morph any dull exercise into award-winning training and allow an individual to truly succeed with their physical endeavors.
This variable is Pain Tolerance, or, in other words, one’s ability to confront and digest the party platter of discomfort brought about through hard exercise.
Before I go any further, let me clarify that the type of pain in question here is healthy strain derived from proper exercise and NOT joint pain, heart pain, or any other skeletal pain that comes from improper form or poor health and could potentially be dangerous and damaging. Regardless, this distress can take many forms, from a quad-searing burnout on the leg extension to a chest-annihilating giant set on the bench press; even a screaming in the lungs from a personal best at running the mile.
There is a quote that gets tossed around a lot in cycling that simply goes, “To be a cyclist is to be a student of pain.” We may not all be cyclists or even have the slightest inclination to don a skin-tight cycling kit and ride up a few mountains, yet that is the truly great thing about pain tolerance: it applies to everything physical.
Sure, if someone has a great pain tolerance yet goes into the gym and trains like a drunken Richard Simmons, he/she is not going to automatically be on the road to reaching true results, yet when that person does in fact learn to execute their workouts with the precision of science-based routines, it is safe to say they will surpass another doing the same routines due to the fact that they have taught their mind to turn the volume down on that pesky voice in the back of your head screams, “QUIT!”
Pain is tied into working out at the most basic levels. It truly is a physiological variable, although a more scholarly exercise physiologist or personal trainer may use language that disguises pain with smug terms such as ‘lactic acid buildup’, or ’100% VO2 max’ – AKA, “THIS IS BRUTAL!”
Let’s think about some real life exercise situations. When you walk into the weight room and are looking to start off with some bicep training, you may head over to a weight rack, pick up a barbell, then begin doing focused curls. The muscle fibers in your biceps will soon contract and relax in unison with each exertion and your mind perceives this strain as a form of pain.
It hurts, burns, whatever, the main point is that when attempting many exercises, pain is going to a one of the first and most unruly people knocking at the door of your workout party with one goal – crashing it. One of the main things that sets a successful, results-based exerciser apart from one who flounders aloofly and never loses the weight or gets the strength/muscle, is what he/she does when the pain enters the room.
Are you the type of person who begins the repetitions yet drops the barbell and curses, “Damn, that is really painful, let me grab a lighter weight or cut back a few reps”, or do you confront the pain head on and say, “YEAH? SO WHAT? I’m getting this fitness no matter how much you scream and complain,” and proceed to push pain to the side and break through its limitations?
We’ve all seen shows like the Biggest Loser, where a frustrated trainer watches as client after client easily bails on a particular workout and claims they simply can’t go on. When you see something like that occurring, truly analyze what that person is basically saying: it is clear as day that they are not familiar with the physical pain needed to really make results and this unfamiliarity is too shocking for their system to cope with, causing the mind the give up.
The thing is, that is OK! It doesn’t make them a bad or lazy person, it is just that their previous way of life and absence of physicality has left them with a currently very poor ability to digest the stress and pain tied to hard training and it will take some time before they can speak that language.
It is similar to a situation where a shredded workout guru with the utmost masochistic prowess suddenly makes a resolution to become versed in Russian History, yet on their first lesson with the professor, flounders under the heavy course load and cries out at the amount of focused, relentless studying needed to master the material. It isn’t that they will never be able to give a brilliant oration on Rasputin and the Tsars, it’s just that most human beings need time to adjust to the stresses necessary for seriously excelling above the norm.
So how does one gauge his/her pain tolerance? You probably already have a good concept of this, yet here are two great ways to get a feel for it:
Leg extensions: (Even better if done at the end of leg day). Set the weight to about 50% of your one rep max and begin doing focused, squeezing-at-the-top reps, and continue this until that familiar discomfort starts growing out of your quads and attempting to smack your motivation around.
Preacher curls: Grab a similarly graded weight and begin doing concentrated reps. Preacher curls and leg extensions are great ways to gauge pain tolerance because they are completed in a fixed motion and do not require any real form. For instance, if two people were doing squats, there would be a whole myriad of factors that may throw off the delegation of work to the muscles.
With these exercises, and many others like it, you can easily become familiar with what true physical and mental exercise strain feels like, and acclimating yourself to such an extreme will do wonders for every other motion you attempt to do work with.
There have been countless cases of athletes who, according to high-tech lab tests and pages of results, shouldn’t have outperformed their counterparts yet did so because there is no number or test that can quantify a humans ability to dig deep and really desire something.
“Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” -Vince Lombardi.
That’s it for now. Remember, when trying to fulfill your fitness goals this year, try taking a little detour from browsing the newest workouts or equipment and instead focus on being comfortable with the uncomfortable – your workouts will thank you.
It is of the utmost importance to any exercise-oriented individual that an adequate amount of cardiovascular exercise is completed regularly. Whether you are a bodybuilder with 22″ arms or simply a lean yoga enthusiast, the rule applies across all levels. Without a properly trained heart and lungs, your body misses out on a whole slew of health benefits and a decreased risk of heart problems; not to mention creating a disproportionate distribution of vitality within your body. Sure, your biceps have veins thicker than a garden hose, but what about what’s on the inside?
A dedicated gym goer may look at his/her six pack and scoff, “Cardio? My aerobic-free training has me leaner than ever and sweating it up on the Stairmaster for an hour isn’t my idea of a worthwhile workout.” OK, valid point, but a high performance vehicle is for nothing if the goods under the hood are garbage. Moreover, if you pack on muscle yet refrain to train your cardiovascular system, your physicality will resemble a hulking Toyota Tundra with the dinky engine of a Honda Civic. Struggling.
So, why rowing; better yet, why the rowing machine? Well, considering rivers that weave through your neighborhood with adequate boat houses are scarce, the rowing machine is the best substitute to mimic the movement and reap the rewards of such activity. Better yet, you never have to worry about bad weather, and even better than that, a great cardio workout can be accomplished in a fraction of the time that one may be looking at when getting on board an elliptical or treadmill.
The majority of people are under the assumption that rowing is an upper body intensive movement. Although there is some truth to that statement, the driving force in a successful rowing motion is derived from the lower body, where the body’s powerful leg muscles are able to sustain prolonged exertions that only they can deliver.
Need more reasons to try the rowing machine? How about the fact that the word impact can’t even be found in the same sentence as rowing machine, unless the word ‘low’ is front of it. Unlike running, which places unnecessary stress and trauma on the knees and ankles, rowing favors a far more fluid, floating sense of power and work. As your body moves back and forth over the rolling seat, your joints praise you as they are gently coerced into the flexion and extension of various limbs.
Still need more reasons? One of the greatest aspects of the rowing machine is that it is a cardio exercise that trains your whole musculature; not just your lower body, as many machines do. When stepping away on the Stairstepper, one can feel the sole distribution of strain compiling itself on your legs, while the upper body remains slack and in complete boredom. The rowing machine ties the two sides together, with the legs generating the massive power and force for each stroke and transferring it up the body, giving your abs, arms, shoulders, and of course, back, an awesomely toning workout.
If you have located and affirmed the presence of a rowing machine at your local health club, here is a great way to get introduced to the motion:
Adjust the foot stretchers: Each machine is equipped with a platform to strap your feet into, both in socks or with shoes, and it needs to be adjusted so that the strap rests atop where the balls of your feet are, and also so that your bending motion isn’t inhibited by the strap.
Set the fly wheel resistance: 10 is heavy, 1 is light – to put it simply. Personally, I like to warm up in the higher digits (7-10), and then commit to my workouts between 4 and 5, as most university programs suggest.
Set the clock: The rowing machine has a great computer for tracking your workouts, but for now, simply hit ‘Just Row’, or begin pulling on the handle and the clock will start on its own.
Of course, it isn’t so easy to master the rowing stroke on your first few tries, so keep in mind these pointers:
Always begin each stroke with lower leg perpendicular to the ground and your seat as far up as can be achieved. At this point, your should be fully outstretched and grasping the handle.
Legs first! When driving, press off with your glutes, quads, and calves and drive your legs down to full extension.
Back second! once the legs are down, lean back with a straight back and begin to transfer the speed of the fly wheel to your upper body.
Arms in third! Once you have achieved a slight posterior lean with your straight back, pull the handle into your nipple line with by retracting your scapulae and flexing your arms.
The ‘finish’, or end of the stroke goes exactly in reverse order: Arms back out, back over, then slowly move back up the slide with the legs, ready for another stroke.
20 strokes arms only
20 strokes arms and back only
20 strokes half leg extension
40 strokes full leg extension (full strokes)
Sample workout: 1 x 3000M, 1 x 2000M, 1 x 1000M, 1 X 500M, 1:00 rest in between each.
As you may notice this is a descending pyramid type of workout and it is great because mentally, the workload becomes easier and easier as you pass through each interval.
Select workout, then select Interval Variable, then enter the first distance, followed by the three others; then the rest.
The first 3000M should be done at 60-80% of your VO2 max, with that intensity increasing until the last 500M goes by at an all-out effort.
That’s it for now, I hope you can look into incorporating the rowing machine into your next workout and join the thousands who swear by rowing as the King of cardio.
The gym business hasn’t changed dramatically over the past 20 years, though we’ve certainly seen an evolution. Gyms are better at catering to different groups of potential customers, as many have added classes that appeal to women and men, and mixed things up with yoga, pilates and other options. Nutrition is also an area that gets more attention in gyms as well.
It’s on the marketing side where we’re seeing some big changes and opportunities for gym owners that are in tune with social media and see the potential to create a real online community. Facebook and Twitter should be a part of every gym owner’s strategy to market the gym. With these tools, your best and loyal customers can become evangelists for your gym, and then you can push out cool photos, workout ideas, class schedules etc that these people can then share with their friends. You’ll reach more people and build more customer loyalty.
This works best when you couple this with traditional methods like advertising and brochures. Gym owners can use online printing to reduce their costs by printing brochures online at UPrinting or other venders on the web. You can also use modern computer programs to effectively track all your customer memberships, and you should definitely use email blasts as well.
The bottom line is that you can run and promote a gym these days that makes your operation much more efficient.
Whoever thought that spider venom could could be the answer for erectile dysfunction, however, emergency room visits in Brazil with victims of spider bites displaying priapism, or unrelenting and painful erections, got doctors thinking.
Some research has led to the isolation of an alternative way to help men attain and sustain an erection.
Viagra, Levitra and other ED drugs on the market work by inhibiting an enzyme called PDE5. To get an erection, a man’s body must release nitric oxide, which relaxes the smooth muscle around the arteries of the penis, allowing for his blood vessels to dilate.
The nitric oxide is a first step in a series of chemical reactions that allow this muscle relaxation to take place. One step in the series is cGMP, a signaling molecule that acts to keep the muscles relaxed. PDE5 degrades cGMP. That’s a good thing for ensuring that erections don’t last forever, but too much PDE5 can mean an erection doesn’t happen at all. By blocking the enzyme, PDE5 inhibitors solve the problem.
The spider toxin works differently. Instead of affecting PDE5, the compound seems to trigger nitric oxide release, acting directly to relax the smooth muscles. Because about 30 percent of patients don’t respond to PDE5 inhibitors, the toxin could provide an alternative to ED treatments currently on the market, Nunes said.
Being fit in middle age may not ad years to your life, however, fitness can help you to avoid chronic illness as you age.
Better quality of life, less time spent treating and healing from illness and time to enjoy your old age are the perks of being in great shape now.
Previous studies have shown that people who are more physically fit have a lower risk of dying early than those who aren’t as in shape, but the current analysis, led by Dr. Jarrett Berry of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, is the first to expose a connection with chronic diseases. Berry and his colleagues compared data on fitness levels of 18,670 healthy men and women in their 40s and 50s to Medicare claims for chronic disease treatments a couple of decades later, when the participants became eligible for coverage after age 65. Each of the volunteers performed a treadmill test, during which the researchers measured the length of time they exercised to exhaustion as an indicator of their fitness. For every one-unit improvement in fitness, measured as metabolic equivalents, the volunteers enjoyed a 20% drop in the incidence of the eight conditions the scientists tracked.
The Body Mass Index (BMI) is generally used to assess overall fitness, however, a new study has found that weight concentrated around the middle can be more harmful than obesity itself.
The waist to hip ratio is proving to be a better predictor of heart disease and other illness than BMI alone.
Participants were divided into six groups based on which of the three BMI groups they fell into, and whether they had a normal or high waist-to-hip ratio. Men whose waist measurement was 90 percent or more of their hip measurement were considered to have a high hip-to-waist ratio. The same was true of women; those with waists that were 85 percent of their hip size were classified as having a high hip-to-waist ratio.
Participants with normal BMI but a high waist-to-hip ratio had the risk of dying of cardiovascular disease, and the highest risk of dying from any causes among the six groups.
The risk of cardiovascular death was 2.75 times higher, and the risk of death from any cause was 2.08 times higher among normal-weight people with “central obesity,” compared with normal-weight people who had a normal waist-to-hip ratio.
“The high risk of death may be related to a higher visceral fat accumulation in this group, which is associated with insulin resistance and other risk factors,” said study researcher Dr. Karine Sahakyan, also of Mayo Clinic.
Men can be highly susceptible to accumulating belly fat and inactivity, poor diet and stress contribute to visceral fat.
Keeping your abs toned and your middle “whittled” is the best way to avoid disease and keep your heart strong.