Cardio vs. Weights

The following videos take on the subject of cardio vs. weights.

There are continuing discussions of whether cardio is essential to your overall health, or could you just use a weight lifting program to give you everything you need to get and stay in shape.

I’d be interested in your view of the cardio vs. weight lifting discussion.  Some of you have already weighted in.

How To Get A Lean Body. 5 Secret Tips That You Need to Know

Have you always wondered how those guys with virtually no body fat and washboard abs get that way?

Would you like to know some of the secrets of getting lean and mean? If you’ve been trying and not been successful, you are probably unaware of some of the things that you could do to increase your chances.

Getting lean is not the easiest thing to do.  You do have to be committed to both a healthy diet and weight training. Otherwise, you’ll have no chance.

Here are 5 secret tips that will help you get the lean body you’ve been wanting.

 

TIP #1

Start with a Weight Lifting Routine

You’ll never get a lean body just by only dieting and doing cardio.  One of the secrets is to lift weights or do some other kind of resistance training.  Crossfit is an alternative, but good ole weightlifting is a good start to getting a lean body.

First, you have to understand this one thing. The more muscle you have on your body, the more metabolically active your body becomes. When your body has more muscle, it will burn more calories per day—even when you’re just lounging and watching the football game.

Of course, muscle just doesn’t appear because you want it to. The only way to build more muscle is to go to the gym and do some targeted resistance training, like lifting weights.  Stressing your body by lifting weights will make your muscles get bigger and stronger, in response to the stress.

Your body will use more calories as you gain more muscle.  You also will burn calories while you’re working out.  When you put it all together, you can see why resistance training is a good way to help you get lean.

There are numerous workout routines on this site that can help you design a routine just for you.  Here’s another one.

 

 

TIP #2 

Cut out Sugar From Your Diet

It’s no surprise that sugar is really not that good for you. Most of us understand this, but you continue to consume it on a daily basis.

Those who have cut out sugar from their diet, particularly the guys who have been on the Paleo diet for a while know how great they feel when they don’t eat sugar.

Everyone knows that diabetics can’t consume it, but what about everyone else? Should we try to cut sugar out completely, or just limit the intake?

Here are all the reasons you want to cut it out of your diet.

  • It provides fuel for cancer cells
  • It promotes weight gain (you already knew this)
  • It makes the body want more food by messing with your appetite regulation.
  • It disrupts the “food” your muscles need to grow.
  • It can lead to Diabetes Type II

All bad.  Nothing good.

The easiest way to cut sugar out of your diet is to stop eating processed food.  All processed food has sugar and sometimes, you’d be surprised how much.  This includes yogurt, all salad dressings, soda, etc.  The list goes on and on.  You need to read labels and not buy anything that has sugar listed in the ingredients.

What I discovered is your body will get used to not having everything taste so sweet and eventually appreciate the taste of real food.  And to boot, anything with sugar will upset your digestive system,….further proof that you shouldn’t be eating sugar.

 

TIP #3

Do HIIT cardio

If you’ve never heard of it, HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training, and it’s the best kind of cardio that you could do.

Sixty (60) minutes on a treadmill is NOT what you should be doing.  It has been proven not to work like HIIT.  The sad news is that you’ve been wasting your time spending hours on a  treadmill. Stop because you are sabotaging your effort to get lean.

Twenty (20) minutes of HIIT will do more for you than an hour of traditional, long slow cardio on the treadmill. HIIT is considered to be much more effective than normal cardio because the intensity is higher and you are able to increase both your aerobic and anaerobic endurance while burning more fat than ever before.

Research has shown that eating a low carbohydrate and high fat diet (as recommended in Tip #4) will burn fat during increased cardio exercise, especially cardio such as HIIT.

 

TIP #4

Minimize the Amount of Carbs You Eat

It seems that every day there is a new study that shows the benefits of a low carb diet, sometimes called the Keto diet.  Another version of the same concept is the Paleo diet.  Both limit the amount of carbs that you take in.

What you want your meals to consist of is primarily protein and good fat.  Yes, you do want to include some carbs, but in a limited amount, especially after a hard workout when your body is depleted of carbs.

A good rule of thumb is to make sure you have protein at every meal and you want to combine the carbs that you eat with protein to create an insulin spike post-workout. This is when the body is primed to use these carbs and protein for a muscle-building reaction by your body.

Several studies have found that during a diet where carbs are restricted and a lot of fat is consumed, up to 70% of the energy required for an activity will come from the oxidation of fat. This will greatly help in burning your fat stores and getting lean.

 

TIP #5

Take the Stairs.  Walk More

It’s something simple you can do every day.  Don’t take the stairs, EVER.  If you did this one simple thing, you’d go a long way in helping yourself get lean.  I’ve even gone so far as to take the stairs when I was staying in a high rise hotel in SF.  I walked up 15 stories every day to get to my room…..a little severe but I used to be a stair racer, so 15 stories was nothing. You don’t have to go that far, but there are many instances where you could easily take the stairs a couple of stories instead of taking the elevator.

Walk more. The more you walk, the more active you are. The more active you are, the more calories you burn, and the more weight you can potentially lose. Instead of driving up the street to grab your morning coffee, take a nice brisk walk up and back. If you want to take the family to the park for an hour, skip the gas-guzzler and slap on your favorite pair of sneakers instead. Not only will you save a few bucks on gas, your body will benefit from it.

There are probably other errands that you could walk to.  I know I have learned how close my grocery store is, and if I’m not doing a big shopping trip, I’ll walk there.  It’s a pleasant walk and makes me feel refreshed.

If you commit to this, not only will you save wear and tear on your car, but your body will benefit from it.

 

Here is a video of one of my favorite YouTube personalities that helps men with all aspects of their lives. This video concentrates on how to get and stay lean.

 

SUMMARY

So now we’ve shown you 5 tips that can help you get and stay lean.  I’ve also included the video from Alpha M who has additional tips on how to get and stay lean.

With all this information, you should have a good idea of some of the things you can do today that will begin to get you on the path to getting lean.

If you’ve got any comments, suggestions. real-world experience, please let us know in the comment section below.  We welcome all comments.

See you at the gym.

Lose Body Fat Gain Muscle? What’s Stopping You? 5 Mistakes You’re Making

This is a topic that a lot of guys think about. “Can I gain muscle while I’m losing fat?  If so, what is the formula for doing this?”  You definitely can do this.

There are numerous misunderstandings of why you’re not losing weight and not gaining muscle.  The two are inextricably connected and that’s why we’re addressing them together. Common knowledge says you can’t do both, but we’ll show you how you can in this series of videos.

Here are five (5) mistakes that many of us make, and many of these, if corrected, would make a difference in your weight loss and muscle gain.

I’m relying on some of the best trainers in the business to help us provide answers for this subject.

 

MISTAKE #1

You’re doing Conditioning Exercise Before Your Workout

Here is my favorite YouTube Trainer explaining the relationship of cardio to gaining muscle mass.  He does an experiment with his own body to show the effects of a conditioning exercise before a strength exercise.  It’s very clear the outcome.

In this video, Jeff clearly demonstrates the effect of conditioning before a strength workout.  Watch.  You’ll be amazed.  As you’ll see, he doesn’t necessarily propose that you don’t do conditioning exercises.  He just wants to demonstrate the effects.  It’s your choice, and it depends on your goals.

 

 

MISTAKE #2

You’re Not Doing Enough Weight Training

There are three main elements of all successful weight loss/muscle gain. Max hits them all and explains the relationship.

He spells out the basic concepts of what it takes to gain muscle and why weight training is so important in losing fat.

He understands what is necessary for successfully losing fat.   Watch and follow his advice for the best chance of achieving your weight loss goals.

 

MISTAKE #3

You’re Doing Cardio Incorrectly

Here is another of my favorite YouTube experts who takes on the cardio subject.  Aaron describes what you need to know to successfully get your body to burn fat when you do cardio.  These are things you need to know.

His advice about first thing in the morning/empty stomach is not necessarily the best way to burn calories, but he’s seen lots of success with this technique.  There is a debate about this technique, but he still understands and demonstrates ways to burn fat successfully.

 

MISTAKE #4

You’re Doing The Wrong Exercises

Here is my first trainer who shows you a series of weight exercises that target fat loss.

These three guys (including Vince) go through a series of exercises that they propose are designed specifically for fat loss.  Vince is a great trainer, so take a look and see if this is something you would try.

 

MISTAKE #5

You Don’t Keep Track of Your Calories

You think you know how many calories you consume, but you’re probably way off.  Until you start to record everything that you eat, you won’t really know how many calories you’re consuming every day.  The secret is to record absolutely EVERYTHING that goes in your mouth.

You need this base information before you can devise an effective plan for losing weight. To record my daily calories, I use My Fitness Pal by UnderArmour.  There are hundreds of similar apps on the market, and most are free. Download one that suits you and use it daily.

Watch these two guys talk about this subject.  They fully understand how important it is.  They explain this common mistake in understandable terms and concepts.  This could certainly be one of the reasons you may not be losing weight.

 

 

SUMMARY

You’ve just watched 5 videos that talk about many of the things we need to understand to successfully lose weight and add muscle.  It’s tricky and not easy, but if you’ll follow these guidelines, you’ll have a leg up on achieving your goals, and looking and feeling great.

If you’ve got anything to add, for instance, your experience in losing weight or gaining muscle, please leave your comments below.  We welcome all feedback.

See you at the gym.

Exercise Workout Routines. 8 Things That Can Sabotage Your Workouts.

Do you wonder why your workouts are not producing the results that you want?

What’s Wrong?

What are you doing to sabotage your workouts? There must be something that you can fix that will bring you the results that you want.  You are dedicated and it just seems like you should be seeing bigger muscles and more strength gains.

 

REASON #1

You Are Not Stretching and Warming Up

I always thought stretching and warming up was a complete waste of time. Then I had a trainer who insisted on it and I started to see better results from my workouts.  I also had fewer injuries and pain.

Most guys who have successfully built a great body know the importance of warming up and stretching before their workout.  A warm-up does not have to be long.  A warm-up can be as simple as running on a treadmill for 5 minutes…….just enough to elevate your body temperature.  You could also do some jumping jacks and burpees.  Anything to get your body temperature up.  Five minutes is probably all you need to achieve this.

Turns out that stretching your muscles can make or break your fitness goals. Stretching before a workout can greatly help in preventing injuries, especially if you’ve been sedentary all day.

Because the thought of doing a series of stretches feels like a mini-workout before your actual workout, don’t resort to just doing a few half-hearted jumping jacks or touch-your-toes.

The best thing to do is a few dynamic stretches instead of static stretches.  For instance, do a forward lunge with a twist, and then do 10 knee tucks (lifting your each knee with your hand), either standing still or walking.  Next do 10 straight-leg high kicks with each leg, trying to kick your outstretched hand.  Finish with 10 pushups and 10 jump squats.  Both of these last two (2) are a little harder, so work up to those if you can’t do them just yet.

 

REASON #2

You Don’t Have a Plan

It doesn’t sound like it’s that important, but it’s the ole failing to plan saying. It is true that a one-month or two-month plan will get you closer to your goals than just going to the gym and deciding what you’re gonna do when you get there.

Have you seen the guy come in the gym, wander around and then start at the first machine that catches his attention?  He’s got no plan and will never achieve his goals, if he’s got any. Failing to have a plan when you enter the gym can result in nothing but burnout or quitting from lack of results.

Having a plan and goals are the only way you’ll ever achieve anything at the gym. It’s true in many areas of life and particularly true at the gym. Having a plan will keep you from overtraining and undertraining. This is one of the most important reasons for having a workout plan. you could be training the same body part too often or not enough. You may also be working out too long and doing too much cardio to achieve your goals. There are lots of websites that will help you plan a workout.  Two of the most comprehensive

This is one of the most important reasons for having a workout plan. you could be training the same body part too often or not enough. You may also be working out too long and doing too much cardio to achieve your goals. There are lots of websites that will help you plan a workout.  Two of the most comprehensive are:

There are others but those are two sites that I go to regularly to get information on working out.

 

REASON #3

You Train Too Long

You’re convinced that the longer you spend at the gym, the more good you’re doing.

It’s NOT TRUE.

Past about 45 minutes to 50 minutes, you’re probably doing more harm than good.  There is a point of vanishing returns when it comes to weightlifting.  Those guys that spend 2 to 3 hours at the gym are only hurting themselves if they’re really working out that whole time.  Sometimes, these guys are texting their girlfriend, talking to all their gym buddies or doing innumerable wastes of time.

Going past 45 to 55 minutes per workout can put the body into a negative hormonal state, and serious overtraining can cause adrenal fatigue and performance decreases in the long term.

If you concentrate on your workout for the day, push hard on every exercise and don’t chat with all your gym buddies, you don’t need to spend much more than 30 to 45 minutes at the gym.  On heavy days you may need a little more time because you’re going to want to rest a little longer between each set.

 

REASON #4

You’re Doing Too Much Cardio

This is a common mistake that many guys make in planning a routine to increase muscle and decrease body fat. They are under the wrong impression that they need to spend 45 minutes on the treadmill.  That’s too long.

Too much cardio can result in minimized strength, muscle atrophy, and even fat-loss plateaus. If you are on a strict diet plan and combine it with an overdose of cardio, you can lose muscle tissue.  This is not what you’re aiming for.

 

REASON #5

Chatting, Texting and Talking on the Phone

All of these can kill your workout, distract you and keep you from doing your exercises in a timely manner.

I see way too many gym guys texting or talking to their buddies, which keeps them off any kind of a schedule that is needed to keep your muscles stressed.  Save your social time for the lobby or locker room.  Stay focused during your workout.  You should be timing your reps and your rest.  Don’t let anything detract you from that.

One technique to keep others from talking to you is to wear headphones, whether you’re listening to music or not.  Some guys use music to keep them motivated and going strong.

 

REASON #6

Not Eating Before Your Workout

In the past, it was thought that exercising on an empty stomach was beneficial, but now experts believe that your body needs fuel before a workout to get a good workout.

There are some experts who will swear that doing cardio first thing in the morning on an empty stomach is a good thing.  There are reasons to believe this, but cardio exercise is different from weight training.

A certain amount of glucose is needed during a workout, so if your blood sugar level is too low, your body will start taking glycogen from the muscle once it runs out of the available glycogen and blood sugar. This will sabotage your muscle’s ability to grow stronger and bigger.

The solution is to eat a banana, some fruit with yogurt about 45 minutes before your workout.

 

REASON #7

Your Form is Bad

This is one thing that many guys don’t think will sabotage their muscle gains.  It will, and if you correct this one thing, you may have solved many of your muscle gain problems, not to mention muscle imbalances that you may correct with correct form.

If you’ve been working out for a period of time and you’ve never analyzed your form, that would be the place to start.  You may have developed some bad habits that need correcting.  If you’re new to the gym, then making sure that you exercise with good form will serve you far into the future.

 

 

REASON #8 

You Don’t Get Enough Sleep

You’ve heard this one many times before and even here on this website, but it is an essential element of getting stronger and bigger muscles.

Growth hormones, which help us build muscle and burn fat, are active when we sleep and not active when we are awake.  And you have to get a minimum amount of sleep for this to work properly.

Seven (7) hours is the minimum amount of sleep you should get.  Eight (8) is better, but it all depends on your body.  You may need less or more.

 

 

SUMMARY

These are the top eight (8) reasons most guys are not achieving their muscle gains.  They are unknowingly sabotaging their efforts by doing one or all of these things.

There are lots more but these are the ones that I propose, that if corrected, would make a difference in your body.

If you have comments or want to share your own experience, please do in the comment section below.  We welcome all comments.

See you at the gym.

How to Recover Faster From Workouts. 3 Tips & One BIG Secret

In the process of becoming a trainer, I learned a lot, and one of the things that I learned about was the recovery process that the body goes through after a workout.  It’s a science.

What I learned about this process has helped me with my own workouts and has given me new insights into what I can recommend to clients who don’t know how to properly recover after a workout.  When you work out hard, there are steps you can take to recover faster than if you did nothing.

I’m going to list three (3) of those ways.  These will help you recover faster.

 

TIP #1

The one biggest secret is foam rolling.  

Now, don’t roll your eyes.  I used to think it was only for girls and wusses who weren’t serious workout guys.

WRONG

Now bear with me while I give you the facts. Foam Rolling or Self-Myofascial Release is one of the secrets on how to recover faster and better than if you did nothing. When used properly, the benefits are numerous. It can help prevent injuries, aid in recovery and reduce muscle soreness and pain.

Foam rolling will increase blood flow and hence helps your recovery. You need to stay away from joints and ligaments, and only foam roll on muscles.  This will assure that you don’t injure yourself and this way you’ll get the benefits that foam rolling provides.

Another use for foam rolling is during your workout.  If you get a tight muscle while you’re doing an exercise, stop and go foam roll the muscle and then go back to your exercise.  This will prevent injuries and will allow you to work out to your max.  Just last night, I felt some pain in my right delt when doing a shoulder press.  I immediately went and foam rolled it.  That took the tightness away and I was able to go back and finish my shoulder routine without any discomfort or injury.  Almost magical.

Here are four (4) foam rolling exercises that you should start with.  Foam rolling is specifically used to help you lengthen and stretch muscles that are tight and contracted.  It can work on many parts of the body.  These 4 are the most common areas that need attention.

  • QUADS  (featured image) When foam rolling the quads you want to place the foam roller just above the knee and roll up to the hip.  Do this with long slow passes up and down. If you come across a particularly sensitive area or knot, stay on top of it for 30 seconds and relax into it. After the 30 seconds, the area should start to open up. Once you have spent around two minutes on one quad, switch to the other quad and repeat.
  • CALVES  The calves are quite possibly the most overlooked group of muscles when it comes to recovery. If you run, hike, lift, or do almost any sport, your calves will always be heavily involved. It is very important that you give some foam rolling attention to your calves. Doing so can keep the ankle joint mobile and also keep the Achilles tendon safe. When rolling the calves, start with your calf on top of the roller and then cross your other foot on top to create a little more resistance and pressure. Plant your hands behind you and lift your hips.  Next, roll up and down your calf. Spend roughly one minute on each calf.
  •  IT BAND  This is the long fibrous reinforcement on the outside of your leg that runs down the outside of the thigh from the hip to the shin. This muscle is used in lots of exercises – squats, lunges and is important if you’re a runner.
    Now you don’t want to roll the IT Band itself.  You want to roll the back and front muscles that connect to it. When rolling the front side, you will start in the same position as when rolling your quads; then you will shift your body slightly to the outside but not directly on top of the IT band. Roll up and down from the top of the knee to the hip.
    Sometimes the IT band area can be sensitive and painful, so find the right foam roller hardness for you.
    After two minutes on the front side, you will switch to the rear side of the IT band.
    Sitting on your butt, place the roller under your leg or on the hamstring. Then place your hands behind you to create support. Turn your leg slightly to the outside and off the middle of the hamstring. Then proceed to roll up and down, avoid rolling the back of the knee and stop on any sensitive areas.  After two minutes, switch legs.
  • GLUTES 
    Rolling the glutes (your butt) will be beneficial for anyone who sits a lot during the day.  Rolling your glutes will help relieve lower back pain. When rolling the glutes, you want to start off by sitting on the foam roller and placing your hands behind you for support. Start by making small passes up and down your butt.It’s not a very large area so you only need to move back and forth about six inches. Roll two minutes on each side.

Here’a video from my favorite YouTube trainer explaining what you SHOULDN’T be doing when you foam roll.

 

 

TIP #2

Don’t be lethargic on your days off.

You need to do some kind of intentional movement on your days off from the gym so that your muscles get the blood and joint movement they need to repair and grow.

Something as simple as doing some stretching exercises or doing a half hour of yoga will help on your days off.  Either of those activities will keep your joints flexible and your blood flowing, both essential for the growth of your muscles.

Here is a 3-minute video with Jerome to show you some simple stretches you can do on your days off.  These are specifically designed for weightlifters.  If you do these on your days off,  you’ll be ready and flexible when you go back to the gym on your regular exercise days.

 

 

TIP #3

Relax and Meditate

When you do intense workouts, it’s necessary to try and reduce all your life stress so that your muscles and body can grow as a result of the stress you’ve put on your muscles.  Any form of mental stress in your life is going to take a toll on your overall well-being and your body’s capability to recover and handle stress.

Take steps to reduce your mental stress level so you can bounce back faster. Do something you really enjoy, make yourself laugh, and surround yourself with people you love.

Take a nice long walk in a beautiful place.  Take an easy bike ride in your neighborhood.  Bike to a park and hang out.

Meditation is another practice that I find can reduce much of the stress in your life.

Meditation will reduce much of the mental stress in your life if you’ll stick with it for a month or more.  It takes some time for it to start working. You don’t necessarily need music, as the video suggests.  I don’t use music and find it better for me. Some people use a phrase they repeat over and over.  See what works for you.

Don’t give up too early.  You may not start to feel the benefits for several months.  Meditation alone has helped me sleep better.

 

SUMMARY

All three of the recovery methods I list here are diverse in nature, but all will help you recover from a good workout and get you prepared for your next one.

If you’ve got comments or other recovery methods that you use, let us know in the comment section below. We welcome feedback from our readers.

See you at the gym.

 

How To Get Energy For A Workout? What are the Secrets?

Recently several clients have asked why they’re so tired before and during a workout……. why they can’t muster the energy to give it their all when they’re at the gym.  It’s a critical issue. If you don’t have the energy to work hard at the gym, you’re wasting your time.

This article will address the EIGHT (8) issues that might be preventing you from having the energy to put in a workout that will result in you getting bigger and stronger.

 

#1 Reason – You’re Overtraining

We’re all gung-ho when we start our new gym workouts, thus many of us go to the gym 5 or 6 times a week.  Often, we love the experience and decide to continue to go to the gym 5 or more times a week.  It may lead to overtraining, and thus a loss of energy and a reduction in your muscle gains.

Going to the gym 5 or 6 times a week can work if you only do one body part per week.  That’s certainly acceptable, as long as you don’t spend more than 45 minutes a day at the gym. I find that 40 to 60 minutes is all you should do each day.  Otherwise, you’re gradually wearing yourself out, even if you do just one body part each day. Some guys get great results by doing 30 minute workouts.

 

#2 Reason – You’re Eating the Wrong Food

One of the top reasons you don’t have the energy to power through your workout is your diet – the food you eat every day.  You might have guessed this one. You probably know some of the things you eat are not what you should be eating, but you’re not exactly sure what you should be consuming.

We could write a book on the right foods to eat and in fact here is an article that might help.  In this article, we’re going to concentrate on a few ways to clean up your diet so you’ll have more energy for your gym time.   Here are a few foods to avoid and some suggestions on what to replace these with.

  • Nachos, all chip dips, and all prepared salad dressings. – These all have an immense amount of calories and sugar.  Substitute these with salsa and vinaigrette dressing.
  • Fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt – You have no idea how much sugar is in those products. Stick to plain or Greek yogurt and add your own fresh fruit and nuts.
  • Cereal and Pop Tarts – almost anything packaged for breakfast is a disaster for your diet.  Most breakfast cereals are chock full of sugar and ingredients that sound like they come from another planet.  Substitute these with natural oatmeal.  It’s delicious and good for you.  You can add bananas, fruit and your choice of nuts.
  • All processed snacks like cookies, candy and chips – They’re all bad for you and you know it. When I get a craving for something sweet, I use dried fruit to satisfy my sweet tooth.  Dried mangos are my current favorite.
  • ADD more protein and fresh vegetables – these are what you should concentrate your diet on. Choose chicken, turkey breast, fresh fish, and red meat. Concentrate on eating things with one ingredient….. Broccoli. Spinach. Apples.  Only buy what you can eat a couple days at a time.

 

#3 ReasonYou’re Not Eating the Right Food Before and After Your Workout.

You’ve got your workout routine down so that you’re making progress.  It may be time to take a step back and look at what you’re putting into your body before and after your workouts.

Are you eating enough protein, carbs, and fat before you hit the gym?  Are you consuming the proper foods after exercising to make the most of your gym workouts?

If you don’t know what to eat before the gym, here is the lowdown.

Even though you may be tempted to skip a pre-workout meal, don’t. Not eating before a workout can result in low blood sugar, which can make you have less energy for your workout.

You don’t need to eat too much.  That can be counterproductive and can backfire and make you sluggish. So eat something as simple as a banana and some oatmeal—it’ll maximize your energy and your gains.
Other options would be fruit and yogurt or whole grain bread with peanut butter. You’ need some carbs and some protein.  I often have a cup of coffee to give me a little extra energy.
Another option is a pre-workout drink.  I have done this in the past.  It’s totally acceptable and most of them will give you some caffeine along with added vitamins and nutrients.  Often you’ll get a little buzz from them.  They can help give you some extra energy for your workout.

If you have been going to the gym continuously for more than six (6) months or a year, it might be time for a change.  Try Crossfit for six months.  Try a boot camp in the local park.  Try bodyweight workouts at home or in the park.

The additional nutrient that you may be missing is Vitamin D, a critical energy- and immune-boosting vitamin which comes from exposure to the sun when you’re outdoors.  A recent study detailed the positive effects of an outdoor activity.  It has been shown that exercising in natural environments is associated with greater feelings of revitalization, a decreases in tension, anger, and depression, and it can be demonstrated that we experience increased energy when we exercise outdoors.

 

#5 Reason – Drink More Water

You might have guessed this would be one of the reasons why you don’t have the energy that you need to have a great workout. You’ve heard this solution to many issues.  Being hydrated is an important part of getting and staying healthy.

You’ve got to stay hydrated to keep your energy levels high. If you’re not fully hydrated when you go to the gym, you’re not going to have the energy that you’ll need to have a great workout  Even mild dehydration can cause fatigue.

Make sure you’re drinking something all day long.  I keep a bottle of sparkling water at my desk all day.  Even liquids such as coconut water, herbal tea and flavored water will help keep you hydrated. To make sure you’re drinking enough, check the color of your urine—anything darker than pale yellow, and you’re not fully hydrated.

 

#6 Reason – Drink Less 

Alcohol, that is.

Drinking too much alcohol has a negative effect on your whole body and has side effects. Aside from hangovers that you have to endure after a long night out, drinking too much weakens your immune system, making you susceptible to all kinds of illnesses.

Besides, alcohol is a major depressant for sex and energy.  So if you’re planning on working out or having sex (what a choice), make sure you don’t drink. Your performance will suffer.

 

#7 Reason – Eat Fewer Carbs

Eat less of the food that is white  – white flour, white sugar, and all of the processed snack foods that are made with these ingredients.

These processed carbs can do nothing good for you.   They can make your waistline grow, and they won’t give you any sustained energy.

Your body absorbs the energy in simple carbohydrates very quickly. On the other hand, complex carbohydrates are like time-release energy for your body.

Make sure you get the majority of your carbohydrates in the form of vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains. Your body takes longer to break these down, which means you get a steady supply of energy for your workout.

 

#8 Reason – Get More Sleep

How many times have you heard that?

Yes, I know, it seems like it’s a solution to just about everything.  The truth is it will improve much of your life if you can get 7-8 hours of sleep a night.  Seven (7) hours is the goal.

Getting enough sleep is critical for health and well-being. Lack of sleep is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. YIKES.

Not to mention that sleep is the time when the hormone testosterone is made and when your body makes the muscles that you work so hard to get.

The number one symptom of low testosterone is low energy, and since testosterone is made when you sleep it’s crucial to get 7-8 hours a night.

 

SUMMARY

So here are eight (8) things you can do, drink or eat that will give you the energy you need to have a great workout.

Many of these are things you’ve heard a hundred times before, and some are things you know you should do and just haven’t taken the steps necessary to implement them.

Try a few of the ones that speak to you and see if you don’t have more energy when you go to work out.

If you have comments, additions about anything in this article. please leave it below in the comment section.  We welcome feedback.

See you at the gym.

 

Workout MIstakes To Avoid. What Are The Biggest Mistakes I’m Making?

Sometimes you wonder why you’re not getting the muscle gains that you think you should be getting.  It could be something you’ve never thought of…….something you’re doing that never would have occurred to you that would impair your advancements.

Here are four (4) videos from the best online trainers that may help you identify what you’re doing that you should NOT be doing.

 

VIDEO 1

Here is one of my all-time favorite online dudes who details the 10 worst mistakes that you make when working out and trying to get fit and buff.  He’s a little heavy on the selling (the way he makes a living), but he knows his stuff, and you should listen to him and take heed of what he has to say.

Many of the mistakes that he mentions are ones that we’ve talked about before, but they all deserve mentioning again.  If you were to fix all of the 10 fitness mistakes that he mentions, you’d start to see great results from your workouts.

 

 

VIDEO 2

Here is a video from El Eggs and Sven that details some of the finer points that we often don’t consider when we work out.

El and Sven show you what you may be doing wrong and what you need to consider when doing your exercises – whether they be weight training or body weight training.  El and Sven specialize in body weight training so many of the examples that are demonstrated are Sven doing bodyweight training, but these mistakes apply to all exercises.  If you listen to what they say you possibly could look like them – AWESOME.

You’ll see that many of these experts mention the same thing – bad form, which is one of the things we all need to pay more attention to.  Bad form will minimize all your efforts.  Bad form is sometimes a result of trying to impress your fellow gym-goers – lifting more weight than is appropriate for the exercise you’re doing.  It’s easy to fall for that.  We’ve all done it because we all want to impress the guy on the bench next to us.   HINT:  He doesn’t care one twit about what you bench,….. nor does your spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend or Saturday night date.

 

 

VIDEO 3

This is my favorite YouTube Trainer. He’s knowledgeable and always produces videos that are helpful for learning the ins and outs of training.  He’s one of the best.

In this video (kinda long at 15 minutes) he talks about the eight (8) mistakes he made along the way that you don’t have to make…….if you learn from his mistakes.  Some you’ve heard before and some are a little outdated, as he describes the first one – avoiding fat.

You’ll also hear him advise us to design our exercise routine for our bodies.  We all shouldn’t be doing the same exercises.  We’re all different and should gear our exercises to what we want to achieve and to what works best for us.

One thing he mentions is the use of supplements to overcome bad training.  I’ve been there and so have a lot of you.  Listen to him and don’t over-rely on your supplements.  Use them only as a “supplement” to your diet and training.

 

 

VIDEO 4

Here’s Mike, a well-known expert who obviously knows what he’s doing or he wouldn’t look like he does.

He describes the three (3) most common beginner mistakes in working out.  Unfortunately, most of these are common among guys who are not beginners.  They still haven’t learned.

Listen to Mike and you’ll learn from his mistakes.  He’s got some great advice for everyone, even though beginners make these mistakes more often than more experienced guys.

Mike also mentions the mistake of not designing a workout that works for you.  This seems to be a common mistake mentioned by more than one of our experts.

Most of us have started by copying a buddy who looks terrific or following a workout routine we got on YouTube.  We figure if we do the exercises they suggest, we’ll look like them.  WRONG.  Mike describes why this doesn’t work.

 

 

SUMMARY

If you are struggling with getting your body to look the way you want, act on some of this advice. These four guys have detailed most of the major mistakes that we all have made at one time or another.

Don’t be in denial (like many of us have been) and continue to do what you’re doing, if it’s not getting you the results you want.

The advice I always give is to change just a few things at a time.  Wholesale changes never work.  We are creatures of habit, so changing just a few items at a time is all that you should do.  After you discover what works or doesn’t work with those adjustments, then go on to the next suggested change to your diet and workout.

If you’ve got comments about your experience, we’d love to hear it.  Let us know below in the comment section.

See you at the gym.

Why Am I Not Gaining Muscle? What Am I Doing Wrong?

You hit the gym at least 4 times a week.  You either get up an hour before you normally would so you can work out, or you skip happy hour with the gang to make sure you get your workout in. You are dedicated.

You have downloaded a workout that sounds good, and you don’t slack off when you go to the gym.

Y0u eat what you think you should be eating to gain the muscles that you’d like to have.

BUT, you’re just not seeing the results that you’d like to see.  What’s really maddening is your buddy who doesn’t seem to work out as much as you is looking pretty damn good, with arms bigger than yours and a chest that’s starting to stretch his shirt.

WHAT’S WRONG?

 

BASICS

Why do you think that you’re NOT packing on the muscle?  What can you do to remedy this situation?

What should you expect as a beginner when you first start weightlifting?

Unfortunately, when you first start lifting, unless you’re blessed with incredible genes, you’re only going to gain between 2 to 3 lbs of muscle each month.  As you get further along, you’ll probably only see 1 to 2 lbs of new muscle every month.  So, it takes a long time to gain an impressive amount of muscle mass.

Where to start?  Read these nine (9) ideas and see if any will help you.  One or two of them may be the reaso

 

ONE

KNOW YOUR BODY

That sounds obvious, but a lot of folks aren’t aware of what works for them and what doesn’t.  It’s a trial-and-error process that will help you learn how your body responds to different foods, different exercises, different supplements, different rest periods, etc.

You may try 3 days a week working out instead of 5.   You may need to get an hour’s more sleep every night.  You may need to include more protein in your diet. You may need to take Creatine as a supplement. You may ………..you get the idea.  Experiment on yourself to see if your body responds positively or negatively to changes that you make.

 

TWO

EAT MORE FOOD.

It may be as simple as that……why you’re not gaining muscle.

A lot of guys don’t understand that when you’re trying to gain muscle, it requires more food than when you’re not working hard to gain muscle.

This is especially true if you have a good metabolism and you don’t easily gain weight of any kind.  You need to take in more calories than you burn. Or, it might be impossible to build muscle because you aren’t getting the nutrients your body needs to build muscle.

You can lift until you’re blue in the face, but if you don’t have the nutrients and available calories, your resistance training will not result in more muscle mass.  Your body can’t grow without the extra calories.

Now, don’t up your food intake and calories without hitting the gym in a serious way and performing some hard workouts.  Otherwise, you’ll just get FAT.

There is a balance in how much increase you’ll need to gain muscle.  It may not be a lot more food than you’re currently eating, so play it by ear and see what gives you some gains without creating more fat.

This is possibly the problem with over half of the guys who are complaining about not being able to pack on the mass.  They’re just not getting the calories needed to gain muscle.

 

THREE

YOU’RE EATING THE WRONG FOOD.

It’s possible that you’re not eating enough protein.  You need 1.3 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight if you’re trying to gain muscle.  If you’re maintaining what you already have, you only need about 1.0 to 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

Here are some of the sources of protein you should be eating daily – dairy, beef, poultry, nuts, seeds, fish, and eggs.  Each of these contains different amino acids that your body needs to grow, so consume a variety of protein.

Eating a full spectrum of amino acids from different protein sources can greatly contribute to your muscle-building goals.

 

FOUR

YOU DON’T DRINK ENOUGH WATER

Yep, you’ve heard that so many times, about how important it is to drink lots of water, but when you’re trying to gain muscle mass, it’s even more important.

Keeping yourself hydrated should be a priority from the moment you get out of bed. Dehydration is a serious problem for folks wanting to gain muscle, not to mention everyone else who wants to be healthy.

You should be getting at least 60-90 oz. of water a day.  My trick, that I just mentioned in the last article,  is to drink sparkling water.  I can drink sparkling water all day, as opposed to having to drink flat water.  Try it.

 

FIVE

YOU DON’T TRAIN HARD ENOUGH

Photo by Tim Hipps, FMWRC Public Affairs

This was my problem for many years.  I thought that just showing up at the gym and going through the motions was all it took.  I was so proud of myself for just showing up and completing my workout.  But, it wasn’t enough to gain muscle.

I see a lot of guys at the gym going too light and not taking their workouts seriously. If you think curling those 15-pound dumbbells will do anything to make your biceps bigger, think again.

You’ve got to concentrate and lift with intensity and power.   Don’t do like I used to do and just go through the motions. Go hard and heavy enough to challenge your body beyond its normal capacity. That’s when muscles grow.

 

 

SIX

GET 7-8 HOURS OF SLEEP

It’s so important.  It’s when your muscles grow.  It’s not at the gym when your muscles, grow.  It’s when you sleep and rest.

One major hormone responsible for this change is human growth hormone (HGH). Our HGH levels are highest when we sleep. That’s one of the main reasons you need to get enough sleep – to give your body the time to grow and repair the damage you did at the gym.

 

 

SEVEN

YOU’VE BEEN DOING THE SAME ROUTINE TOO LONG

Both of these are major reasons your body stops growing.  Your body is amazing and has the ability to adapt and adjust to just about anything – including the stress you put on it at the gym.

After a month of doing the same exact routine, your body will adjust.  It will make the changes necessary to adjust to the stress from your workout.

Once your body adapts to your workout routine, it will not see the need to build more muscle or get stronger.

You’ll have to change. You’ll need to mix it up to create new and different stresses so your body will have to adjust and add more muscle to deal with the new stress from your modified or new routine.

 

EIGHT

YOU’RE DOING TOO MUCH CARDIO

If you’re not eating enough and doing too much cardio, you don’t have a chance of adding any muscle.

If you want to build mass and lose body fat at the same time, read this article.  I’m not saying don’t do any cardio, but your first priority should be resistance training. Feel free to add in a cardio session here or there—but not at the expense of your weight goals.

 

NINE

YOU’RE NOT DOING ENOUGH COMPOUND EXERCISES

This goes hand in hand with a well-designed workout routine. Doing the wrong exercises is a common mistake made by new guys who want to have biceps bulging out of their shirt. Usually, the new lifter is doing too many isolation exercises and not enough compound exercises.

To get a good outline of what compound exercises to concentrate on, read this article.  It’s a good overview of the compound exercises you should be doing.  Concentrate less on the bicep curls and more on the squats and deadlifts.

Doing compound exercises will do more to help you gain muscle and look good for the beach than all those single isolation exercises.

SUMMARY

Now you can see that there is not just one reason you’re not gaining the muscle that you want…..and it depends on your body, metabolism and current workout routine.

After you’ve read this article, decide which are the most obvious reasons you aren’t gaining the muscle you want, and change your life and workout routine to see if that works.  You may have to try several different things.

You must have patience because no one adjustment to your life and routine will result in instantaneous changes and big, new muscles.

If you’ve got comments, suggestions or feedback, please leave it below.  I welcome comments.

See you at the gym.

Foods to Eat Before A Workout. What are the Best? What Should I NOT Eat?

This is something that everyone wonders about.  It’s something that I used to be very ignorant about so I would ask all my fellow workout partners what they ate before a workout. I had no idea what worked and what didn’t. Since then, I have now done the research and can answer intelligently. We’ll answer that question here.

There’s also this question:  Do you eat on an empty stomach or not?  There’s great debate about that also.  That will also be addressed.

Fueling your body with the right food prior to exercise will give you the energy and strength you need to have a better workout, but some folks can’t workout with food in their stomach, so it all depends on who you are.

I’ve chosen 4 videos of expert trainers – all with a little different view of what you should eat. or not eat before a workout.  Watch and never wonder again what food to eat before a workout. 

 

VIDEO 1

Even though Max speaks like a gym-bro he is a knowledgeable guy and knows what works. He even knows that some people don’t do well at the gym if they have food in their stomach, while others need food and the energy it gives so they can get a good workout.

Max lists ten (10) pre-workout meals that work for many people and may be useful for you. He details a wide variety of foods and describes how and why each one works.   At the end, he discusses how long before your workout you should eat.

 

VIDEO 2

Now here is my favorite trainer, and he details his entire day of eating.  I think this is useful to see how the experts eat.  This is not just what he eats before his workout, but what he eats all day.

One of his secrets is to drink a lot of water and he reveals his trick to drinking enough. He drinks sparkling water.  It is so much more appealing than flat water and entices him to drink more. I learned this from him and could never drink the amount of water I do in a day if I didn’t have my sparkling water.

Your pre-workout food may not look like his, but this is a good example of what works for one super fit guy.

 

VIDEO 3

Here is a good explanation of some of the science behind what different foods provide you when you workout.  If you just want to watch the first 30 seconds, he’ll give you a summary, but watch the whole video to better understand the details of what you should eat before your workout.

At the end of the video, he describes some “small” meals that you can use 30 to 60 minutes before a workout to give you the fuel you need to power your workout.

 

VIDEO 4

Here is another straightforward explanation of what to eat before and after a workout.  This is Anthony’s solution and certainly a good one.  He talks a little bit about why you need carbohydrates before a workout.

 

Have you noticed how often bananas come up in this discussion?

Sometimes as a pre-workout snack and in the last video, Anthony uses it as a post-workout snack along with some protein to start the healing process and to restore the carbs that you depleted during your workout.

It seems to be a great pre-workout snack to give your body some easily digestible carbs.

 

SUMMARY

So it turns out that there is a consensus of what is needed to eat before a workout  – CARBS.  It may not be what you thought.  A lot of folks think you should have a protein shake.

NO.

Not what your body needs during a workout.  Now after a workout, that may be the thing to have, but protein is not contributing to the stamina and energy you need during a workout.

A modest amount of the right carbs are what you need 30 to 60 minutes before your workout.  I hope this gives you some help in what food you eat before your next workout.

See you at the gym.

 

Workouts for Men Over 40 – Does Sports Count? Is It a Good Idea?

Is playing soccer, football or rugby on Saturday morning something that a guy over 40 should consider?

Is playing a sport considered a workout for men over 40?  Is it a good idea?

What about Basketball? Lacrosse? Baseball?  Football?  Wrestling? Should a guy over 40 be participating in contact sports?

Of course, you know my answer.  HELL YES!

Ask any guy who plays a sport and has been for many years.   They most likely love the sport and know that it has great benefits for them. They know their entire health, mental and physical being would suffer if they stopped because someone told them they were too old to play anymore.

Deep down they know the benefits they gain from staying active as they age, even if the guys at the office make fun of them when they come into the office carrying an ice pack on Monday morning.

Let’s look at the details.

 

PROS and CONS

There are more positives than negatives to playing sports regularly later in life, in particular activities that get your blood pumping.

There are all kinds of health benefits, like keeping your weight under control and keeping good cardiovascular health and then there’s the psychological benefit of exercising regularly and the social aspect of being part of a team.The pluses in my opinion far, far, far outweigh the risks.

 

HOW TO…..

If you haven’t been playing your sport continuously for many years, then there are some things you should do before you jump back in.

Anyone who doesn’t exercise regularly and thinks they can just start right back up playing a sport at full throttle should reconsider and take it easy in the beginning.

First, you should take a month or two to build up a fitness base again before attempting to compete.

You should also get a physical and see if there’s anything you need to know about your physical condition before you participate in active sports.

Try the following 7-exercise workout before you start back, especially if you’ve been out of it for several years. Primarily you’ll want to do some stretching and some foam rolling.

The primary thing you want to do before you get back in is to strengthen your core and establish your stability and balance.  You don’t need to weight lift, just strengthen and stabilize your entire body.

Example: 

VIDEO 

 

SUGGESTED EXERCISES 

Do these exercises twice a week for a month before you dive into playing a contact or active sports. There are seven (7) that you should do during each workout (twice a week is suggested).  If you want to weight train other days, that’s fine.  These are designed to get your body ready for an active sports.

Barbell Roll-Out

  • Hold a barbell loaded with 5-10lbs on each side and kneel on the floor.
  • Now place the barbell on the floor in front of you so that you are on all your hands and knees.
  • Slowly roll the barbell straight forward, stretching your body into a straight position. Go down as far as you can without touching the floor with your body.
  • After a pause in the stretched position, start pulling yourself back to the starting position. Go slowly and keep your abs tight at all times.

 

Bridge

  • Lie flat on the floor your hands by your side and your knees bent. Your feet should be placed around shoulder width.
  • Pushing mainly with your heels, lift your hips off the floor while keeping your back straight. Hold at the top for a second.
  • Slowly go back to the starting position.

 

 

Side Plank

  • Lie on your left side with your knees straight. Prop your body up on your left elbow and forearm. Either place your right arm by your side or you can raise your right hand until it’s perpendicular to your torso, so you form a T.
  • Contract your core by squeezing in your abs forcefully.
  • Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders.
  • Hold this position.
  • Start with 30 seconds and then add 15 second each workout until you get to 2-3 minutes. The longer the better.

You can also do it on your right side.  In fact, it’s advisable to do both.  Do the left side on Tuesday and the right side on Thursday

 

Bent Leg Lift
  • Lie flat on your back on the floor with your palms facing down.
  • Bend your hips and knees 90 degrees.
  • Without letting your upper body move, extend your legs out until they are straight and hovering a few inches above the floor.
  • Pause, and then return to the starting position.

 

 

Belly Button Suck-In

  • Knees and hands on the floor. It’s important that your back stays curved to facilitate the vacuum.
  • Blow out all the air from your lungs, squeeze your diaphragm
  • Suck your belly in.
  • Use your diaphragm to suck in your belly very tight. Try to get your belly button to touch your spine, not really but that’s the idea.
  • Hold for about 10 seconds
  • Release and repeat at least 10 times

This is a great workout for your abs.  It’s not that well-known and some people think it’s silly, but it really works. If you do this over a period of time and get your body fat down, you’ll have a six pack.

 

Bosu Ball Push Ups

  • Get on the floor with your body straight supporting your upper body with a wide grip on the flat side of the Bosu ball.
  • Start by flexing the elbows lowering your torso. Do not allow your hips to rise or to sag.
  • Pause at the bottom, and then extend the elbows to return to the starting position.

It’s that simple, but this will engage more muscles than a normal push up and will also force you to use core muscles to stabilize yourself.

 

Balance on a Bosu Ball

  • You might want to have a chair or wall to hold onto as you get used to the movement.
  • Step both feet onto the dome, placing them on either side of the bull’s eye.
  • By simply standing, you’ll feel your feet moving and your torso contracting in order to find your balance.
  • Add difficulty by letting go of the chair, raising the arms overhead or closing your eyes.

 

 

SUMMARY

Participating in sports as a guy over 40 is a GREAT idea.

It’ll keep you young and vibrant, extend your life, keep your cardiovascular system in tip-top shape and let you have fun while getting a good workout.

Even activities like CrossFit and boot camps are a great way to be active, if you don’t play a sports. I’ve done boot camps for years, and love the exercise and camaraderie you develop with your fellow boot campers. It’s a great way to get or stay in shape without thinking about it as “exercise.”

Before you dive in, if you haven’t been continuously playing, use the 7 exercises above to get yourself in shape so you don’t injure yourself.  Injuries are more common as you get older, but they don’t have to be if you’ve gotten yourself in great shape.

Go sign up for that weekend football, soccer, lacrosse or basketball league.  You’ll be glad you did.