Training Tips & Videos - Scivation

The Many Sides of the Backside
By: Rocio Ruiz

Let’s face it, the backside is one of the most difficult areas to whip into shape, but also one of the most important and obsessed-over body parts for any woman, competitor or not. Our glutes are a big muscle group and require attention from all angles. My goals for this year are rounding my glutes and developing a better quadriceps sweep, so I plan to hit legs twice a week. I will be incorporating this superset routine on my glute day.

Superset 1:

A: 5 x 15 pump Leg Extensions

I call these “pump” leg curls and leg extensions because my goal is to circulate blood into the muscle. This superset is done as a warm-up at the start of the workout and the reps are relatively fast and light compared to the other exercises.

Superset with

B: 5 x 15 pump Leg Curls

Just like the Leg Extensions, this is more of a warm-up move to get the blood flowing and lubricate the joints. I  don’t focus on overload or force repetitions or anything too intense during this superset.

Superset 2:

A: 5 x 20 Narrow Leg Press

I like to put my feet right in the middle of the plate for this exercise. Positioning the feet in a narrow stance helps develop a nice rounded quadriceps sweep.

Superset with

B: 5 x 15 Barbell Stiff Leg Deadlifts

I’ll stand on a step so I can get a good stretch at that bottom without the weight hitting the floor. I lower the bar by bending at the hips, keeping my knees slightly bent during the descent and keeping my waist straight.

Superset 3:

5 x 15 Single Leg Squat

For this exercise, I usually stand in front of the horizontal bar of the Smith machine and hold on to it for self-assistance. My non-working leg will be floating out in front and parallel to the floor as I lower my body down. I raise my body back up until the knee and hip of my supporting leg is straight.

Superset with

5 x 15 Weighted Step-Up

You can do this holding dumbbells in your hands or a weighted bar across your back. I step up onto a bench and make sure I bring my non-working knee all the way up to waist level at the top of the movement. I get more core activation that way, and it is also a good move for running and overall athletics.

Superset 4:

2 x 20 Stationary Jumps (wide)

Using a wide stance for this exercise will engage the glutes. I squat as low as I can and then reach upward as my feet leave the floor. I’ll use my momentum to jump as high as I can and continue to do so for 20 reps.

Superset with

2 x 20 Stationary Jumps (narrow)

The narrow foot placement for this exercise will help develop the quadriceps. I position my legs shoulder-width apart and squat down by keeping my hips back, chest up and head facing forward. Just like the wide jumps, I stretch upward with my hands as I leave the floor and use my momentum to jump as high as I can.


Guilt-Free Gobble Day: 6 Tips to Staying on Track

Let’s face it; the holidays can be tough on the waistline. Family get-togethers typically begin with a plethora of pies, casseroles, and dinner rolls, and ultimately lead to one massive carb coma with a pound or two gained.

This may be okay for the average person, but not for you. You live your life differently. You go to the gym, stick to your diet, and sometimes even sacrifice social outings, for the sake of rocking your dream bod.

Yet, on Thanksgiving Day, are you willing to forget about your hard work and dedication prior to your carb induced regrets? Not so fast! You have worked entirely too hard to let your goals slip by. Here are some tips to enjoying the festivities without impacting your progress:

1. Make healthy substitutes.

There are lots of substitutes you can make. For example, cut calories and fat by using spray butter instead real butter, try cauliflower mashed instead of loaded mashed potatoes, opt out of grandma’s pumpkin pie and make a Mini Pumpkin Protein Pie. Small substitutes go a long way when it comes to shaving off additional calories. You could also bring a fruit or veggie tray instead of a pie.

2. Serve fewer items.

Keep your dish options simple. Stick only to the basics. Why? You will have fewer leftovers, which leads to less of a chance of overeating after the holiday. This is Thanksgiving Day, not Thanksgiving week. Don’t fret, you will most likely have leftover turkey for the days after.

3. Plan an intense Thanksgiving Day workout.

Whenever I anticipate a “cheat meal,” or re-feed day, I plan an intense lower body day complete with deadlifts and squats. Your gym may be closed on Thanksgiving and that’s okay. There are plenty of 5K races, or you can go for a walk after you eat. Check out Thanksgiving Damage Control for a sample workout.

4. Adjust your macros* to fit in some cheat foods.

*Macronutrients (macros) are the nutrients your body needs to function properly. These are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

The realist in me knows that you, and I, will be enjoying some foods we don’t typically eat. Adjusting your macros is one of the most underutilized tips I know. It sounds complicated, but it’s actually pretty easy. Let’s pretend, (wink, wink), that you will be eating some fabulous desserts on Thanksgiving Day. Knowing you are going to be indulging in some extra carbs and fats, you

can cut out your morning oatmeal, egg yolks, and turkey bacon, and opt for an egg white omelet with some fresh veggies mixed in. At lunch you can cut out your sweet potato or brown rice and choose some veggies instead. The magic in the process is that you just freed up quite a few carbs and fats during the day to make room for the later treats. You might end up slightly over your macros at the end of the day, but it may not be by much.

5. Watch out for “hidden calories.”

Have you heard of hidden calories? These are the sneaky calories that are often imperceptible. Where do these calories hide? In condiments, a nibble here and there, and drinks, especially alcoholic ones. You may think a dollop of whipped cream on your hot cocoa, or a ladle of gravy is okay, but pretty soon, you just added over 100 calories to your day.

Be careful! It’s easy to overindulge on a couple cubes of cheese, creamer in your coffee, whipped cream, butter, ketchup, soda, a seemingly harmless glass of wine, and even olive oil. Keep your food as basic as possible. Use herbs and spices to give your food flavor, not condiments.

6. Get your family on board.

One of the greatest things you can do is get your family to understand the benefits of making healthier choices instead of binging. It may take some convincing. Remind them that Thanksgiving is about being grateful for what you have, appreciating those around you, and spending quality time with family. Try making it a competition to see who can make the tastiest, healthy dish. If you still can’t convince your family to make wiser dish selections, then be the strong one. Set an example for your family to follow. They will admire your self control.

With these six tips, you will be able to enjoy the holidays without enjoying an increased pant size. It is very possible to have a guilt-free Gobble Day. Remember the sacrifice you made to committing to healthy lifestyle. Don’t let one day sabotage months of hard work.




Women Don’t Need “Tone”–They Need muscle!

'I really want to tone my body!"

I hear this statement all the time and it makes me wonder if women truly understand what they want from a fitness program. It’s actually not their fault that they ‘re confused. There are contradictory notions of the ideal woman’s figure denoted by society: firm but curvy, thin but voluptuous, small but strong. These conflicting ideals lead to a plethora of misconceptions by women aspiring to fit the mold. The falsehood I have to debunk most often is the idea that lifting weights correlates with building massive muscles. Mortified at the thought of bulkiness, women have become fearful of purposeful weight training.

“Long, lean, toned muscles” are music to women’s ears but their pursuit usually leads them away from the weight room and into yoga or the Pilates studio. The fact is, most modern women today want to look good in a tank top (shapely shoulders, etched back muscles and tight triceps) or a bikini (defined abdominals, shapely butt, and tight legs). To achieve that, they need to build muscle.

Muscle definition, or for lack of better words “a toned body,” really means having muscle without a significant amount of body fat obscuring the lean body mass underneath. The phrase “muscle tone” is actually a misnomer as it refers to the muscle’s resistance to passive stretch during a resting state. What women really want is “muscle definition.” But in order to achieve better muscular definition, they must have a substantial amount muscle with sufficiently low body fat. Ladies, small muscles will not give you a nice shape in your jeans.

If you find yourself suffering from muscle-phobia, a shift in your perspective is in order. Significant weight must be lifted to achieve muscular hypertrophy (increased muscle mass). Do not worry about getting “bulky.” As women, our bodies produce such a small amount of testosterone that achieving gigantic muscles is nearly impossible. Besides, the more muscle you have the more calories you burn. (One pound of muscle burns 20-30 calories per day versus one pound of fat that burns only about 5 calories a day). A combination of total body strengthening, a well-rounded clean diet, cardiovascular exercise, and the right supplementation are the keys to getting that lean and defined physique.

My Secret Weapon
Hopefully, you are now embracing the idea that building muscle is the first step to achieving the look you want. Now what if I told you there was supplement that available that gave you an edge, that helped you recover faster, increased your energy, built lean body mass, and decreased body fat? Well, this supplement is available and it’s one of my secret weapons. It’s actually not that big of a secret as it was named the “best selling intra-workout supplement” by one of the leading online supplement stores.

Scivation’s XTEND is a 2:1:1 ratio of Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine, commonly known as branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). XTEND is further enhanced with glutamine, electrolytes, antioxidants, and vitamin B6. Best of all, XTEND has zero calories, zero grams of sugar, mixes easily in water, and tastes great. XTEND yields great results and can be added into the regimes of athletes who require strength, endurance, power, or by anyone who is yearning to build muscle and burn fat.

According to a study performed in Sweden and published in the Journal of Nutrition (2006), “BCAAs have anabolic (muscle building) effects on protein metabolism by increasing the rate of protein synthesis and decreasing the rate of protein degradation in resting human muscle. Also, during recovery from endurance exercise, BCAAs were found to have anabolic effects in human muscle.”

If you think BCAAs are just for guys, think again
XTEND has been at my side in the weight room, on the track, and even on long recreational hikes. This supplement helps me push my limits, minimize muscle soreness between workouts, and sustain intense cardio sessions that burn fat, all while protecting my muscles. This is immensely important to me during my competition preparations when my calories are low but my activity levels are high. Running two businesses, training clients, and competing as a professional athlete I don’t gamble my time or the ingredients from the supplements I put into my body.

Plan of Attack
Since XTEND is calorie and sugar free, extremely satisfying in taste, and comes in an array of different flavors I drink XTEND throughout my day. Early in morning before I attack my cardio I start sipping on a serving and throughout the rest of the cardio workout I finish drinking it. When it’s time for my weight training, I ingest another serving that I add into my water bottle. I start sipping on it during my training and finish it off during my post workout cardio. Given the fact I am usually exhausted by this time, XTEND kicks in by supplying me with that last little bit of energy to push my body to burn more body fat. Later in the evening, I mix up another serving to drink between my fourth and fifth meals. If I add in another workout or more physical activity to my day, I may have a fourth serving. When first using XTEND I recognized amplified intensity, prolonged endurance, and increased strength. Overall, my consistent usage of XTEND has given me astonishing results.

Ladies, hopefully “toning” is a word you’ll drop from you vocabulary and you’ll use XTEND to build lean muscle! If you’re an elite athlete training for an event or competition, or somebody who wants to be healthy and look great, this may be the missing piece from your regimen that will help you reach your goals.



The Four-Minute Fat-Burning Workout

Izumi Tabata, PhD, was ahead of his time. In the October 1996 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Tabata showed that a certain high-intensity interval training (HIIT) protocol had better aerobic and anaerobic improvements than long-duration endurance exercise (1). Over the past decade, HIIT has become popular for endurance and strength athletes alike, and numerous scientific studies have demonstrated that various HIIT protocols contribute to subcutaneous and abdominal fat loss, increased VO2 max, increased anaerobic capacity, and improved insulin sensitivity. But the venerable Dr. Tabata didn’t come up with just any HIIT workout, and it certainly wasn’t a “1 minute of work, 4 minutes of recovery” that is prescribed to beginners. His particular brand of pain and suffering consisted of eight intervals of 20 seconds of all-out effort and a mere 10 seconds of recovery. That is a serious tempest of ass-kicking in a four-minute tea cup.

HIIT TrainingDoctor Tabata showed that HIIT— specifically the program that bears his name —induces adaptations that are similar to those of long-duration exercise. Recent research has shown that HIIT is better at reducing both subcutaneous and visceral fat than other types of exercise. Compared with long-duration endurance exercise, HIIT training results in similar GLUT4 content and maximum glucose transport activity (2), similar fatty acid oxidation enzyme activity in skeletal muscle (3), and similar levels of PGC-1alpha protein (4). In addition, HIIT protocols have been shown to increase aerobic and anaerobic fitness, lowers insulin resistance, and improve fat oxidation and glucose tolerance in skeletal muscle (5). The moral of the story is that HIIT produces effects similar to those found in long-duration endurance exercise, all of which are highly desirable for any training program.

In addition to aerobic and anaerobic benefits, HIIT protocols augment fat loss. Anecdotally, athletes that undergo a HIIT program notice decreased body fat while retaining (or increasing) muscle strength. Studies involving HIIT protocols show significant decrease in both subcutaneous and visceral fat and waist circumference while still maintaining muscle mass (5, 6). Why does this happen? While physiologists are not certain, possible explanations include increased fat oxidation during and after exercise (ATP resynthesis mainly from intramuscular triacylglycerol stores and greater fatty acid transport, and increased capacity for fatty acid oxidation in both skeletal muscle and whole body) as well as decreased appetite post-exercise.

In less than four minutes, the Tabata Protocol maxes out the aerobic and anaerobic systems.Tabata’s initial 1996 study (1) compared moderate intensity endurance training (70% VO2 max for 60 minutes, 5 days per week) versus HIIT training (sets of 20 seconds at 170% VO2 max, 10 seconds recovery, 5 days a week) on a cycle ergometer for six weeks. Tabata found that in the endurance-training group, VO2 max increased by 10%, but anaerobic capacity did not change. However, in the high-intensity group, VO2 max increased by 15% and anaerobic capacity increased by 28%. This protocol was tested against other types of HIIT and was found to be the best at maximally stimulating both the aerobic and anaerobic systems (7).

How it works:
The effect of the Tabata Protocol depends on going hard for 20 seconds and only taking 10 seconds recovery. During the hard, 20-second effort, you maximally recruit muscles. The 10-second recovery does not provide enough time to regenerate your ATP-creatine phosphate system and pay back your oxygen debt, so you begin the next 20-second bout in a deprived state. With each additional 20-second effort, you increase oxygen uptake and reach maximum anaerobic capacity near the end of the protocol.

Benefits for strength athletes:
The obvious benefits to endurance athletes include increased VO2 max, anaerobic capacity, and increased fat oxidation. Strength athletes also benefit from these results. HIIT produces fatigue similar to resistance training: low phosphocreatine concentrations, increased intramuscular acidosis, and low concentration of intramuscular glycogen (8) on top of increased aerobic and anaerobic fitness.

Unlike steady-state endurance training, HIIT is not muscle-wasting. It is believed that muscles can adapt in either an ‘endurance’ manner (i.e. increased mitochondria) or in an ‘strength’ manner (i.e. hyprotrophy). Typical endurance training stimulates the pathways that induce ‘endurance’ adaptations and block pathways that induce hypertrophy. The converse is true for strength training. HIIT is unique in that it induces many benefits of endurance training without increases in PCG-1a expression (mitochondrial biogenesis), without inhibition of protein synthesis and skeletal muscle growth signaling (9), making it a great way to gain endurance adaptations without fear of turning off your strength pathways.

Don’t be scared. HIIT is not muscle-wasting:
It’s believed that muscles can adapt in either an ‘endurance’ manner (i.e. increased mitochondria) or in a ‘strength’ manner (i.e. hyprotrophy). Typical endurance training stimulates the pathways that induce endurance adaptations and block pathways that induce hypertrophy. The converse is true for strength training. HIIT is unique in that it induces many benefits of endurance training, such as increases in PCG-1a expression (mitochondrial biogenesis), without inhibition of protein synthesis and skeletal muscle growth signaling (9), making it a great way to gain endurance adaptations without fear of turning off your ‘strength’ pathways.

How to do it:
I typically have my clients perform the Tabata protocol on a stationary bike, but they can be done with almost anything, such as a treadmill, elliptical, jump rope, push-ups, pull-ups, squats, or even hitting a heavy bag.

Warm-Up: 10-15 minutes, including of a couple of short, max efforts of 5 seconds.
Main Set: 8×20 seconds max effort, with 10 seconds recovery between work intervals.
Cool down: 5-10 minute easy spinning.

The good news is, you’ll be done in less than 30 minutes. The bad news is, if you’re not gasping for air and seeing stars by the end of the workout, you didn’t push yourself hard enough.

Warning: One disadvantage of the Tabata Protocol is that it is very physically and demanding, and takes a great deal of motivation to complete. Some folks may not be able to handle the stress of the workout and may never want to do it again. I dread the workout and almost cannot stay on the bike near the end of the Tabata Protocol, but I continue to do it because I love the benefits.



Anabolic Alkalinity – The Benefits of Decreasing Your Body’s Acidity

Your high-protein diet is great for building muscle and burning fat, but it’s not so great for your body’s acid balance. The body functions optimally when it is in equilibrium. Cells operate best when they are within a specific pH (potential of hydrogen) range, which varies depending on the cell type.

Anabolic AlkalinityThe pH of the body is a measure of its acid:alkaline ratio which is measured on a scale of 0-14. A rating of seven is neutral, while any more means you are in a state of alkalinity and any less means you are acidic, becomes too acidic normal body functions are compromised. The problem is, many of the foods that compromise even healthy people’s diets are acidic! For example, chicken and oatmeal, two common bodybuilding foods, are acidic. When the body becomes too acidic due to dietary influences it’s called metabolic acidosis.

Consequences of Metabolic Acidosis

In order to stabilize an acidic pH level the body must neutralize the excess dietary acid load. The two main ways the body does this is by taking calcium and other minerals from bones and glutamine from skeletal muscle. Both of these corrective mechanisms have negative consequences for your health and physique.

This is a fifty-cent word that refers to having high calcium levels in your urine. Bone contains the body’s greatest calcium stores and calcium is a strong base meaning it is able to neutralize acids. During metabolic acidosis calcium is released from bone in an attempt to neutralize the excess acids and stabilize the body’s pH level. The calcium and acids are then excreted in the urine. This calcium loss leads to weak, brittle bones.

Muscle Protein Loss:
Skeletal muscle contains the body’s greatest glutamine stores. Glutamine binds to hydrogen ions (H+) to create ammonium, which is excreted from the body. In the face of metabolic acidosis and elevated H+ levels, breakdown of skeletal muscle and glutamine release is increased and can lead to muscle protein loss.

Hormone Secretion Disruption:
During metabolic acidosis normal hormone secretion is disrupted. Changes include increased cortisol secretion, decreased thyroid production, and growth hormone resistance, all of which will have negative effects on your body composition.
Besides the above consequences metabolic acidosis can also to lead decreased nutrient absorption as well as long-term diseases such as diabetes, kidney damage, osteoporosis, and chronic fatigue. Luckily a few simple, and healthy, dietary changes can make sure you stay out of dietary acidosis.

5 Ways to Decrease Acidity

Add green vegetables and fresh fruits:
Vegetables and fruits are low-glycemic high-fiber carbohydrates that are awesome natural sources of minerals and are very alkaline. Sadly, most people’s diets are severely lacking in green vegetables and fresh fruits. Try to get at least six servings per day, including supplemental sources like a greens product or Scivation’s Solution 5.

Add good fats:
Healthy fats like those found in avocados and almonds are alkaline and will decrease the acid load of a meal. Do not listen to the mainstream media about these foods. Do not use sparingly.

Add supplemental glutamine:
Glutamine has been shown to neutralize acids. Interestingly, during metabolic acidosis intestinal glutamine uptake is increased, which shows the body is trying to increase its glutamine content in order to correct its acid imbalance.

Add a mineral supplement:
Calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium are taken from bones and organs to neutralize acids. The addition of a dietary mineral supplement will assist in sparing bone and organ mineral depletion.

Add salt (sodium):
Simply adding salt to your food will decrease the acidity of that meal due to sodium’s acid buffering effect. This isn’t an excuse to go overboard, so use in moderation.