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!
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.
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.
The hunter-gatherer Hadza tibemen studied, although more active than Westerners, expended no more energy than those who are sedentary.
Although it is tempting to use simple math when trying to manage weight, it seems that processed, genetically modified food have an incalculable negative on human biology and weight maintenance.
So, if you are not hunting for your food on a daily basis, the next best thing is to eat simple, seasonal, unadulterated whole foods in their natural form.
Not surprisingly, the Hadza were more physically active than Westerners. However, they didn’t expend more energy. The Hadza’s average daily energy expenditure was no different than that of Westerners, after controlling for body size, the analysis found.
“We hypothesize that human daily energy expenditure may be an evolved physiological trait largely independent of cultural differences,” they write.
Unlike a growing portion of the Westernized world, however, the Hadza are lean. This suggests obesity rates in Westernized countries stem from differences in energy intake — meaning more rich food than our human ancestors ate, they conclude.
While there is no magic bullet to shrink your belly fat, choosing the right beverage is a step in the right direction.
Avoiding added sugars and including ingredients like pineapple, loaded with bromelain which aids in digestion and reduces inflammation, as well as coconut oil, avocado, green tea, and dark chocolate, you can increase your belly busting odds.
Hypothyroidism can be caused by a variety of things. In this country, diet is the main culprit. Our food supply is so deficient in nutrients and loaded with anti-nutrients that it’s really no surprise we are experiencing health problems in epidemic proportions. Vegetable oils (polyunsaturated fats) are a huge contributor to hypothyroidism, obesity, cardio vascular disease and other health problems. These are man-made foods that have only been around since the early 1900s, with soy oil becoming the number one cooking oil by the 1950s.
Soy products, like soy oil and protein, contain extremely high amounts of goitrogens. Goitrogens are naturally occurring substances that interfere with the normal function of the thyroid gland by blocking the synthesis of thyroid hormones and slowing ones metabolism. Before inexpensive polyunsaturated fats became common place, beef tallow, lard, olive oil and tropical oils were in use; heart disease, hypothyroidism, obesity, diabetes and other diseases were but a fraction of the incidence they are today.
Go to any gym, and you’ll see a big percentage of members at any given time tirelessly working their abs in the hopes of getting the elusive six pack. Go to any home in the U.S., and you’ll find many of them have some kind of ab machine, gadget, and/or tape that was bought with the promise of a flat stomach, wash-board abs, etc. The question is, does working your abs give you abs? In other words, does performing ab exercises burn the fat covering your abs? In a word, NO.
A recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that the effect of abdominal exercises on abdominal fat was zero. 14 men and 10 women were randomly chosen to be in one of 2 groups: control group (CG) or abdominal exercise group (AG). The AG performed exercises for 6 weeks.
In conclusion, abdominal exercise training was effective to increase abdominal strength, but was not effective to decrease various measures of abdominal fat. The information from this study can help people to understand that abdominal exercise alone is not sufficient to reduce waistline or subcutaneuos fat.
People who engage in very repetitive tasks such as long distance running, labor or swimming show very little or no improvement in the size and strength of their muscles. Long distance events are by nature very low in intensity.
Compare a marathon runner to a 100 meter sprinter. Marathon runners who train for very long periods at a very low intensity are emaciated looking having less than normal muscle mass and carry on average 14 ? 16% body fat. Sprinters, on the other hand, who train for short periods at a high level of intensity are very muscular and have half the body fat levels than marathoners. If cardio is the key to getting lean, as many people presume, why do marathoners have a higher body fat than sprinters? The reason is, a specific stimulus is required for a specific outcome.
The specific stimulus needed to stimulate muscle and strength is high intensity training. This is a universal training principle that affects everyone without exception. This is due to the fact that we are anatomically and physiologically the same. If this were not true doctors could not perform surgery and prescribe medicine. Consequently, the stimulus needed to induce biochemical changes that build muscle and strength in humans is the same.
Intensity, when referring to training, is the percentage of physical exertion that one is capable of. Training with one hundred percent intensity is the best way, the only way, to stimulate muscular size and strength in the shortest amount of time. How does one gauge the intensity of their workouts? By taking your working sets to positive or concentric failure.
Taking a set to the point of failure, where you cannot possibly perform another rep despite your maximum effort is one of, and perhaps the most important of several factors in your success. There are many who disagree and advocate high volume training with 60%, 72%, 95%, or whatever percentage of intensity they decide is the best. Some even claim training all out, with one hundred percent intensity is not only unnecessary, but detrimental. Over the years I’ve seen so called strength coach specialists, and personal trainers with 15 letters after their last names, concoct the most ridiculous routines, using almost every percentage, that have yet to show any effectiveness in real world application.
The main problem with these bogus routines is that there are only two accurate measures of intensity. Zero, when you are at rest; and 100%, when you?re training to the point of failure. How do you measure anything less than 100% intensity? If I can do 10 repetitions to complete failure with 100 pounds on the leg extension machine, where do I go for 80% intensity? Do I perform 10 reps with 80 pounds? Or do I use 100 pounds and only perform 8 reps? Is 80% the optimum percentage, or is it 65%? There is no evidence that suggests, let alone proves, anything less than 100% effort is equally or more effective. Are you starting to see the ridiculousness and inaccuracy of such training prescriptions?
Intensity cannot be measured accurately with reps or weight. While performing a set, intensity increases exponentially with each successive rep. Performing the first 5 reps on the leg extension is not equivalent in intensity to performing the last 5 reps. Hence, 5 reps is not the equivalent of 50% intensity.
The only way to train that is completely accurate is with all out intensity to failure. This will give you a concrete view of how you?re performing. If you train with 100% intensity during every workout and you do not progress, you know you are not recovering. There will never be a question whether you are providing a strong enough stimulus for progress. However, if you follow the percentage of intensity or the percentage of max rep principles, how will you know you are training intensely enough to stimulate muscular size and strength? If you plateau, are you training too hard or too long? Do you lower the percentage or raise it? Do you need more rest, or do you need to train at a higher intensity? There is no need for this guessing game.
Your goal is to bring about the largest, most rapid outcome for your individual genetic potential. In order for this to occur, the body requires 100% intensity every working set of every exercise. This is the only truly accurate way to gauge the efficacy of your training program. Nothing less than 100% will do. The body needs a reason to adapt. Give it!