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FOUR WAYS TO LOSE WEIGHT.

 1. STOP DRINKING ALCOHOL
I have to say this has been most of client’s favorite indulgence. Women especially love their glass of wine at the end of the night and men like having a beer or two while watching sports or out with their buddies. As much as we all love a cocktail or a few when out with friends, alcohol tends to pack on the pounds. Throughout the night, our bodies work on repairing muscle tissue and it’s a huge fat burning opportunity for your metabolism. When alcohol is consumed, the body will focus on metabolizing the alcohol out of your system rather than repairing muscle or burning fat. Essentially, you lose an entire night opportunity to burn fat because you decided to drink.

Not only that, whenever I’ve gone out for one drink that usually turned into me walking into my house five drinks deep and much later than I intended. I would have restless sleep, less hours of sleep and the hangover that ensued would cause me to feel like death. The next day I’d usually skip my workout and decide that greasy food was going to cure me of the hangover pain and headache. None of this was conducive to staying active, living a healthy lifestyle and being fit.


2. MORE HIIT LESS STEADY STATE
Cardio is an excellent tool to cut fat and drop weight. However, steady state cardio does not fluctuate your heart rate and from personal experience, you do not push yourself very hard. What tends to be lacking is intensity – I’m completely guilty of this as well. Most days when I’m doing an incline walk on a treadmill in the gym, I can comfortably speak to my gym partner. Not every day in the gym is going to be a winner and there are some days when it’s the last place that I want to be. But, adding high intensity interval training (HIIT) to your cardio regime will burn fat and retain more muscle – the goal in the gym, right? The beauty of HIIT is when you really aren’t feeling the gym that day, rally, bang it out in twenty minutes rather than forty minutes of steady state and call your workout a wrap! Here are some examples of HIIT to swap out for the treadmill stroll…

HIIT For Time 
Stretch to warm up & walk for a few minutes on treadmill

Five Rounds on treadmill:
30 second run at a recovery pace
30 second run at a fast pace
15 second all out sprint

Five Rounds:
30 seconds of burpees
30 seconds of battle ropes
30 seconds of rest

Five Rounds:
30 seconds of high knees in place
30 seconds of butt kicks in place
30 seconds of toe touches (I place a med ball in front of me and toe tap on the top in place)

HIIT for Reps

Five Rounds: 
30 second sprint on a treadmill – 10 med ball slams
30 second sprint on a treadmill – 15 jump squats holding med ball 
30 second sprint on a treadmill – med ball woodchoppers x5 per direction
30 second sprint on a treadmill – 10 frog hops

 

3. ELIMINATE AS MUCH SUGAR AS POSSIBLE
It’s actually quite amazing how much sugar is in products and food we eat on a daily basis without knowing it. Check nutrition labels and keep a tally of how much sugar you consume on a typical day. Once you have a grasp on the amount of sugar you are intaking, try to change the foods you are eating to lower the sugar content of your diet. For example, instead of eating a granola bar that contains 13g of sugar, try eating a brown rice cake with a tablespoon of peanut butter and a tablespoon of sugar-free jelly. Sugar substitutes are super helpful too! Instead of sugar in your coffee in the morning, use Splenda or stevia. Not a fan of plain water? Sugar-free crystal light spices up the gallon of water per day. Less sugar in your diet is a quick and easy way to help your body to start burning more fat and stop storing it.

Also, I tend to have a sweet tooth that gives me cravings for sugar like no other. This leads to me consuming sugar foods, like ice cream or cookies, on top of my normal healthy diet. This packs on the pounds by adding sugar AND increasing my caloric intake – a double whammy! A quick and easy recipe that has helped me satisfy sugar cravings without adding a monumental amount of sugar and calories into my diet is chickpea cookie dough, you’re welcome!

Chickpea Cookie Dough

Ingredients:
1 can of chickpeas drained of liquid
3 tablespoons of peanut butter 
¼ cup of agave nectar
¼ cup of semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Instructions:
Place the chickpeas, peanut butter and agave nectar in a food processor and turn on. Run the food processor until there are no clumps in the batter. Spoon the batter into a bowl and add chocolate chips. With a spoon or spatula, mix the chocolate chips evenly throughout the batter and add a few more on top for garnish – presentation is key! Enjoy eating with a spoon out of the bowl!

4. EAT OUT LESS
Not having to clean dishes, chop vegetables or wash pots is my idea of a great meal. But, when someone else is preparing my food, I really do not have an idea of what exactly I am eating. Chefs tend to spice up food and add flavor by using extra salts and fats that I normally would not when preparing my meals. When eating out frequently, the extra amounts of fats and sugars thrown into your meals really does start to add up to an excess of what should be in your caloric intake. Although more work, making your meals helps you maintain more control of what you are eating. To avoid getting lazy and eating out or getting take-out, I prepare all different kinds of food to have on hand in my kitchen for the entire week. Prep proteins, like ground bison into burgers and boneless skinless chicken cutlets, complex carbohydrates, like baked sweet potatoes and quinoa, and have healthy fats on hand too, such as peanut butter and avocado. The more prepared you are, the less excuses you have to make the less healthy decision!

Written by: Samantha DiSabello

 

 

TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP AND ULTIMATELY, YOUR BODY

Time to wake up people! Not to give you an oxymoron right off the bat, but we need more sleep. It is universally known that the recommended amount of sleep is 7-9 hours per night. Leading busy lifestyles, this is not always an easy goal to accomplish. The truth is we all need to make this a priority, as this not only affects our fitness goals, but our overall health. I get it, between work, kids, the gym, and school; it may not seem feasible to get the recommended amount of rest.

Let us think of the hours in a day as if they were money. You need to sit down and budget your hours just as if it were your own cash. You have 24 hours in a day, and W, X, Y, and Z is what you need to allocate that time to. If we reserve one variable for sleep (we will say 8 hours), that leaves us with 16 hours. On average, most of us probably work or go to school for at least 8 hours a day, so now we are left with 8 hours of “free time”. If we use this remaining time wisely, 8 hours is quite a bit of time to take care of business. I will be a bit conservative here and give everyone 2 hours in the gym. We are down to 6 hours. Again, I will give everyone the benefit of the doubt and throw in another 2 hours for travel (work, gym, school). 4 hours left!? Let us allocate another hour each for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; add it all up, and we still have an hour left in our day. Finally, we can contribute that last hour to miscellaneous tasks. If you look at all these allocations, you can clearly see I gave plenty of cushions on these times, so most of you should be able to get 8 hours of sleep each night. The key here is to be efficient and be a go-getter throughout the day!

“But Garrett, I hit the gym late at night and my pre workout keeps me awake for hours after I’m done.” I hear this quite often from people who lift in the evening. The reason this is happening is because of the stimulants in your pre workout. Stimulants create a burst of energy and focus, so it will naturally make it harder for you to fall asleep if you take it close to bed time. The solution is simple, either lower your dose, or try a non-stim pre workout! Redcon1 offers a great product in Big Noise. It has zero stimulants and will give you an awesome pump! With this route, you will be able to head home and go to sleep without jitters or a racing mind!

Now, you could very well be one of those people who have a hard time falling/stay asleep no matter what. Redcon1 has you covered there too. If you have these issues, give their product Fade Out a try. Packed with an array of relaxing ingredients, including a crowd favorite, melatonin, you will have no troubles getting a peaceful night’s sleep! Not only will this help you fall asleep, but it will also help you stay asleep. This is especially important for bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts!

While sleeping, this is when our body does most of its repairs! We secret growth hormone at certain stages of rest, so it is imperative that we maintain a proper sleep cycle in order to get the benefits of that beautiful hormone. Not only do we get the growth hormone secretion, but we are utilizing very little energy during this time, so our bodies are able to put calories to good use, like muscle repair and building!

If you do not want to take supplements, there are alternate routes to getting a better sleep. First off, I highly recommend giving you time to relax before bed. Basically, try not to walk in the door and immediately hit-the-hay. Our minds like to wander and go over events of the day. This can be distracting and make it hard to fall asleep. Instead, try relaxing activities like a yoga, a shower/bath, read a book (or Redcon1 article), or maybe watch a little TV with the family. Whatever you choose, just try to get your mind back to neutral before bed. Another thing to pay attention to is your eating schedule. Having an empty stomach prior to bed could make it harder to fall asleep. Not only could you potentially experience the “growling” stomach, but you may also notice a “cold” feeling. This is from a lack of calories. If you have dinner early, a small snack before you go to bed may not be a bad idea!

Fitness aside, proper sleep is important for everyone’s general health. Lack of sleep has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Those are some of the major issues, and there plenty of other ways improper sleep can negatively affect your health. It does not matter if you feel fine with low amounts of sleep. There can be many factors as to why you can get through the day with minimal rest. Age can play a factor, and if you have to drink coffee all day to stay awake, that is not a healthy lifestyle to live. It is never too late to change your habits!

Sleep is underrated. It is something we do every day, yet because it is something we have been doing our whole lives, we tend to not pay enough attention to how much rest we are getting. I urge all of you to evaluate your sleep schedules and determine if you are getting an adequate amount of rest. If you lead an active/stressful lifestyle, it is all the more important to make sure you are allowing your body to recharge the right way! You all have a homework assignment, 7-9 hours of sleep tonight! Lift on my friends!

By Garrett Skurnit

 

THE KING OF ALL EXERCISES

“If you could only do one exercise for the rest of your life, what would you choose?”

Ever heard that one? I know I have countless times on various podcasts, forums, and articles. But, why? Why does this question come up so often?

I think that it’s poor phrasing for a different question that wants to be asked: “what is the singular greatest exercise that exists?” Could a more subjective question be asked? Ask 10 different people this same question and you are bound to get answer variance within each person. What exactly constitutes the best exercise anyways? Is it the exercise that recruits the most amount of muscle fibers, makes you strongest, makes you the most fit, or most functional?

For the purposes of this article let’s find out the best exercise for bodybuilding (because well… muscle bro).

Squats

By default it seems fitting to open up this discussion by talking about the squat. If you polled a group of fitness enthusiasts, the majority will more than likely agree that the squat is the king of all exercises. Start typing in “squat” into a search engine and a few slots down it will begin to auto populate with “squats the best exercise.” Understandable, so let’s look at why this may or may not be the greatest exercise of them all.

First off, the squat does work the largest muscle group in the body. This alone gives the squat some merit as the best exercise out there. They also provide a systematic metabolic stimulation, which means they even can cause hypertrophy in the upper body as well as other muscle groups not being worked directly. This is actually pretty cool. Squats are also probably the most functional bodybuilding movement, as they strengthen not just muscles, but ligaments, bones, and increase flexibility.

Squats are also one of the most difficult exercises to complete, and they tax not only the muscles, but also the central nervous system and cardiovascular system. This can aid those looking to burn extra calories, especially in a caloric deficit.

Because squats are so difficult to complete, they are thought more of as a skill, comparable to other sports type movements. For this reason, squats are not for everyone, as this movement is difficult for some to learn. Movement patterns are also person dependent with people with longer limbs having a difficult time squatting, especially squatting for muscular hypertrophy.

For those with knee issues, the squat may also pose some issues. This is especially the case as the load grows heavier.        

Squats also play a key role in building core strength. Many people who squat regularly claim they do not need to do any direct core work. While yes, squats do a great job in engaging the core, direct core work is still important. This is especially true for competitors, as they diet down you want to ensure the core is worked from multiple angles, as with any muscle group.

Deadlift

Deadlifts: probably second on the list if you were to poll a group of people on the best exercise. The deadlift is a tremendous full body exercise, mainly targeting the largest muscle groups in the body; the legs and back. When it comes to working the most amount of muscle groups in the body, the deadlift is second to none. Although the deadlift is inferior to the squat as far as overall metabolic systemic effects, it directly targets more muscle than the squat. The deadlift is also probably the greatest mass gainer of all the exercises.

As far as heavy compound exercises go, the deadlift is the safest. For one, there is no risk of being pinned under a large load of weight. Another reason is that the deadlift uses the least amount of joint flexion, much less in the knee over the squat. This is obviously very dependent on proper form being utilized and performed.

An often overlooked benefit of the deadlift is grip strength. There is a very strong relationship between grip strength and forearm and bicep mass. Even if wrist straps are used, there is still some muscle engagement and activation in the forearms and biceps.

Deadlifts are also great for cardiovascular endurance and metabolic stress, but not quite to the same degree as squats. For some, it may actually become difficult to breathe from the diaphragm while performing deadlifts.

While yes, the deadlift is probably the safest compound exercise, it can still be bothersome to those with low back issues. Deadlifts are the most common exercise to cause low back injuries in the gym. For those able to handle the lower back stress, the deadlift is the greatest exercise for aiding in spinal stabilization and spinal posterior chain musculature. So, just like with the squat, not everyone is suited to perform this movement.

Barbell Bench Press

Every gym bro’s favorite exercise could make a case for the king of all exercises. While you might not think of it as a full body exercise, it can be. If performed properly the shoulders, chest, core, legs, and back are all used to a certain degree. Obviously the chest is the main muscle being targeted, but the other secondary muscle groups are also taking some of the load. The bench press typically aids in the performance of other exercises, although I guess that isn’t the point of this discussion.

Interestingly, compared to the deadlift and squats, limb length and body structure do not have as much bearing on the bench press. “But short arms and a stocky frame are best for benching.” This is true, if you are talking about who is suited to lift the most amount of weight for the most amount of reps. Truthfully even those with long limbs can still bench correctly, they just may need to switch up their technique slightly. With a squat you are somewhat stuck with what you have: you can either do the movement or you cannot.

Now, just like with the squat and deadlift there are certain factors that may limit the effectiveness and safety of this movement; the main one here being shoulder joint pain or impingement. Take myself for example; I cannot do barbell bench press. I can however safely and effectively do dumbbell bench press.

The major downfall to the bench press when discussing the king of all exercises is the lack of overall stimulus to different muscle groups. While yes, you are engaging your core and back in the movement, there is not a huge catalyst of force being placed on these muscle groups.

The barbell bench press is excellent for building tremendous upper body mass……and ego!

Pull Ups

The forgotten exercise when it comes to discussing the greatest exercises. Dave Palumbo once chose the pull up as the one exercise he would choose if he could not do anything else. Pull ups take a fairly good amount of upper body strength to perform, making this an excellent exercise choice for moderate to advanced lifters.

While yes, the back is mainly being targeted during pull ups, so are the arms, core, traps, and forearms. You will notice I left off legs, making this a very difficult argument to be the king of all exercises.

Push Press

Another exercise that is not typically thought of when you discuss the best exercises out there. The push press is an exercise that looks like a standing version of the military press. It is, however, much more than that.

One unique aspect of the push press is that initiation begins from the floor and ends overhead. This allows muscle activation through the entire body from the legs, to the core and back, and then through the arms and shoulders.

Just like the squat is a skill, so is the push press to a certain degree. This movement is more for strength than it is muscular hypertrophy, although it will elicit some. Once again, shoulder joint issues will become a concern with push presses.

Verdict

So we have looked at five different exercises. Each exercise has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Once again, the goal here is to find the king of all exercises, the one that is second to none.

If you could only perform one exercise for the rest of your life and you still wanted to grow muscle, what would you choose? After everything is weighed out and analyzed, where do we stand?

.....Drum roll please…..

Whatever works for you and your individual body. Anticlimactic isn’t it? I agree, however it’s dangerous to give blanket statements like the squat is the best exercise when someone has had two knee replacements. Or the deadlift is the best exercise to someone with a bulging disk in their lower back.

As much as a letdown as this is to the two people still left reading this article, I assure you that if you were to incorporate all of these compound movements into your routine you will undoubtedly see positive results in your physique.

The king of all exercises is what you want it to be.    

Written by Daniel Henigsmith