Category: smart workouts

3 Words to Maximize Fitness Results – Short. Intense. Change.

3 Words to Maximize Fitness Results – Short. Intense. Change.

I love weight training. I have been doing it for over 19 years, and I am always learning new ways to maximize my workouts and my results. Just walk into a bookstore or browse online and you’ll find all sorts of information on how to get the benefits of weight training, but there are a few steps you should follow no matter what your goals.

Step # 1: Make your workouts short. Weight training routines should never last more than one hour. Remember, you’re placing stress on the muscles as you lift weights. An hour is the maximum time to exercise without causing stress and possible injuries. Also, from a mental perspective, who wants to workout for more than an hour? If I knew I would be at the gym for more than an hour, I would start making excuses not to go.

Step # 2: Make your workout intense. During weight training sessions one of your goals should be to challenge your body, so it adapts by building new muscle cells and burning body fat. If you are going to take the time to lift weights, really make it worth your while. If you are lifting 2 pound dumbells and doing 20 reps and not feeling fatigued or tired, you are not working hard enough.

Step #3: Consistently change your weight training routines. Regardless of whether you are trying to burn fat, improve sports performance, boost your metabolism, get more tone, or become a body builder, change is a must. To reach your goals most effectively and work smarter, you must constantly challenge your body. Your body can adapt quickly to repetitive routines week after week. Adding more weight, changing the routine and changing the number of repetitions are all excellent ways to keep change in your weight training workouts. Not sure how to change it up? Check out this link for some cool ideas on

The Lingo

The Lingo

For many new gym goers, the gym can be an intimidating place trying to learn how all the machines work and then there are all these terms that you start hearing. The following are some of the most common terms you might hear when weight training. It may also give you some ideas of how to mix up your routine.

Superset: A superset is when an individual does one lifting movement and then immediately does another movement for a different body part. Example: Push ups then right into squats.

Compound Sets: This is when one does two movements in a row for the same body part. Example: Leg curls right into stiff leg deadlifts.

Giant Sets: Giant sets are performed when an individual completes more than two movements in a row without rest. Example: Wide grip pulldowns, crunches, then squat jumps.

Concentric: This is the “positive” movement of the exercise. Example: the curling up when completing a dumbbell curl or the pressing down when completing and tricep pushdown.

Eccentric: This is the “negative” portion of the exercise. Example: straightening the arms after curling them in a bicep curl.

Isometric: There is no movement during and isometric exercise. Example: a plank or a wall sit.

1RM: This is an individual’s one rep max. This is the maximum amount of weight one can lift in a single repetition for a given exercise.

Drop sets: This is when an individual will take the amount of weight they are lifting and lower it by a percentage in order to complete more reps. Example: Bench press 100lbs for 10 reps then drop the weight 20% for 10 more reps.

Forced Reps: These are reps that require a spotter-someone to help watch your form and lift the weight for you if you can not. A forced rep would require the spotter to help the individual lift the weight once he/she feels they have reached failure in order to get more reps.

Plyometrics “plyos”: a type of exercise training that recruits the fast twitch muscle fibers the body uses for explosiveness and heavy lifting. Often times one thinks of jumping when it comes to plyos. Plyometrics can also be done for the upper body. Push ups, barbell curls, pull ups, push press and various other upper body movements can be done with the plyometric style.

Cardiovascular Exercise – 3 Reasons To Get Your Heat Pumping

Cardiovascular Exercise – 3 Reasons To Get Your Heat Pumping

Love it or hate it, cardio is the key to good health.  I usually dread cardio, but I am oh so glad when it is over.  My flavor of the month right now is spinning and running.  I love to run through the neighborhood, but hate running on the treadmill, so running might have to take a hiatus for the next month or so, until it cools off a bit.  Even at 5:00 AM it seems to be hitting 90 degrees lately.

The term cardio covers a wide range of activities that include the use of major muscle groups in the body working in a continuous manner. But most importantly, the heart muscle is the one to benefit the most from cardiovascular exercises. There are various physical activities that can be considered cardio training, such as walking, jogging, running, swimming, rowing, cycling, as well as taking classes like Zumba, cardio kick boxing, or even something as novel as pole dancing.

The nice thing about cardio is that even a little bit goes a long way to lead you to good health.

1. It boosts energy levels. Regular cardio exercise can help in improving a person’s energy levels. When the body goes through regular cardio training, it slowly adapts and is more able to cope with the added strenuous physical activity. People become less tired while doing more work. In the process, they can become more energetic. Physical endurance isn’t just important for exercising. Think about playing with the kids (we just got an X-Box Kinect, and I need all the energy I can get), power shopping during the holidays, sightseeing on vacation. The more energy the more fun you will have in your every day activities.

2. It helps improve weight control and metabolism. Regular cardio exercises can help maintain your desired weight level. When we do cardio, our bodies require more energy and our metabolism speeds up to supply it. With an improved metabolism, the body can burn more calories more efficiently. Regular cardio training can also help build up muscles,  and muscle burns calories, while fat does not. This means that the more muscular you are, the higher your metabolism will remain at all times.

3. It helps prevent disease. Regular cardio training can help in the prevention of heart disease. The heart also has muscles that make it work more effectively. Strengthening them makes the heart grow stronger and delay or prevent the development of diseases associated with the heart. Most cardio strengthens the lungs as well. Conditions associated with a sedentary lifestyle such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease can be prevented with regular cardio exercise and training.

So even if you hate doing cardio, your heart and your health love it.

SMART Semantics

SMART Semantics

Are you setting yourself up for failure due to semantics? No more “resolutions”.

The dictionary says a Resolution is a formal expression of intent .

The dictionary says a Goal is an objective toward which effort is directed.

So What?

Is a “Resolution” merely saying something out loud that we want to do?

Does a “Goal” imply that a certain amount of effort or action is required to achieve it?

Any goal you set – whether it’s during the New Year or anytime of the year – should be measurable and achievable. Many people will resolve to change something in their lives, but have no way to measure it’s success. You can’t have a resolution that says: “Exercise more” because there’s no way to determine if you’ve ever actually achieved it.

Instead you need to have a specific task list that allows you to achieve your goal . You could set the goal as: “Exercise on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for 30 minutes each day.” — that is a measurable goal and you’ll know immediately if you have achieved it or not.

Need some help setting your goals? The SMART system is a great place to start.

Goals must be:
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Realistic
T = Timely

Goals should be straightforward and emphasize what you want to happen. Specifics help us to focus our efforts and clearly define what we are going to do. Ensure the goals you set is very specific, clear and easy.

Choose a goal with measurable progress, so you can see the change occur. Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. When you measure your progress, adjust your course for changes and stay on track to reach your goals.

Be sure to set goals that you can attain with some effort! Too difficult and you set the stage for failure, but too low sends the message that you aren’t very capable. Set the bar high enough for a satisfying achievement!

Realistic, in this case, means “do-able.” The goal needs to be realistic for you and where you are at the moment.

Set a time frame for the goal: for next week, in three months, in one year, etc. Putting an end point on your goal gives you a clear target to work towards. If you don’t set a time, the commitment is too vague. Without a time limit, there’s no urgency to start taking action now.

Happy New Year and Happy Goal Setting!

Workout Reviews

Workout Reviews

I always try to mix up my workout, but I have realized that I actually mix up my workouts very little. I change the exercises or the sets and reps, but that is really it. I recently came across an article that described a workout that I have never heard of and concepts that I had never even considered. I printed it out and committed to it for six weeks.

First, I really liked having a workout that specified exactly what to do. I usually go to the gym and make up my routine as I go. Sometimes it will even change depending on what machines are open. Having it written down was almost like having a trainer. There was no guess work or thought about what to do next…. it was all right there for me to follow.

After six weeks, I was in search of another new workout to follow. I am trying to choose routines that are completely different than anything I have been doing, and I will review each routine based on the following criteria:

Desired result – did I make improvements?
Ease of use – was it easy to follow?
Timeframe – how long did it take each day, was the time realistic to commit to each day?
Intensity – did I feel like I had a really great (hard) workout?
Dread factor – did I dread it or look forward to it?
Repeat – will I do this routine again in the future?

***One thing to note: Women, please remember that building muscle or developing muscle does not mean getting bulky or manly. It refers to building muscle tissue which helps burn more calories and makes you look tone and fit.

Check out my “Check This Out” section on the right to get reviews for the exercise routines I am trying.

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