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April 2, 2014

Hill Sprints

Ajax Hill Sprint

You all know I recommend hill sprints once a week to compliment strength training.

How to start?

Here is the simplest “program” I can think of:

Find a hill, steep or not. Walk UP the hill for about 45 seconds or about 100 steps.

Walk back to the start. Set a timer or stopwatch for 15-20 minutes.

Run up the hill to the spot you reached before. Walk slowly back to the start. Repeat for 20 minutes. Done. That’s it. No, this isn’t true max-speed “sprints” but they will be just fine for most people. You want to rest enough between efforts that you can run as fast as possible, but the hill will reduce the stride length and add enough resistance that the risk of injury is minimized.

For best results, do this on an empty stomach.

And, take your dog or dogs. They’ll love this!

Saving Money on Supplements

Today’s fitness tip: Saving money on supplements.

There is very little new in the supplement world and most new supplements that hit the market are simple, effective ingredients that are really cheap if bought in raw form.

The cheapest place I know of for raw ingredients is bodybuilding.com. You might shop around and find a better deal once in a while, but for the most part that is your best bet and they have about everything under the sun.

1) Look at the label of any supplement on the market.

2)Find the main ingredients.

3)Go to bodybuilding.com and find those raw ingredients and price them in generic form.

Make your decision.

Example: Pre-workout formulas.

Most popular ones (that actually work) have caffeine as the primary ingredient, with some beta-alanine, L-arginine, and maybe some creatine monohydrate.

A jar of most pre-workout powders costs between $30-40 and will last you less than a month in most cases.

I bet you can find 3-6 months of those ingredients for the same price in raw form.

January 4, 2011

You Can’t Out Train the Dinner Table

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This is a revised version of an article I wrote a few years ago (back when I still did CrossFit and wore a Bodybugg). I like to send it out this time of year. Enjoy. – Jim

You can’t out-train the dinner table!
Fitness is at least 80% nutrition.
For most embarking on a fitness mission, the objective is some form of weight/fat loss. Many think an hour on the elliptical or a cycling class is sufficient to burn off the extra calories consumed during an eating binge. Not so.

For the more enlightened, some form of strength training, kettlebell training or maybe CrossFit workouts are prescribed, which will create a greater conditioning effect, and also speed fat loss. Generally, these types of workouts also expend way more calories than just cardiovascular training, or distance running, which burn only slightly more calories than walking.

Here is a concrete illustration of the fact that no matter how hard you train, your nutrition is still the deciding factor in whether you lose or gain weight. By nutrition, I mean the amount of calories you take in relative to the amount you burn throughout the day.

Forget about ratios of protein to carbohydrate and fat, or what types of foods you eat. Yes, they do have an impact on your physiology and the way your body will respond to training. But, let’s not get that complex for now. It is calories in versus calories burned, first and foremost.

Since kettlebell training is not familiar to some, I will use a simple bodyweight workout as an illustration. By simple, I do not mean easy. This is a smoker. Give it a shot sometime.

Set a stopwatch and do the following as fast as possible:

CrossFit’s “Murph”
1 mile run
100 pullups
200 pushups
300 bodyweight squats
1 mile run

Puke breaks are allowed, but the clock still ticks. Think this is enough to “burn off” poor eating for the day? Think again.

Some time ago, I hit this workout hard. I completed it in roughly 40 minutes, so I was jacked.

That is an awesome workout, probably a little harder than normal for me. And, I dare say, lugging my 230lb frame though 600 bodyweight reps and two, 1-mile runs is significantly more power output than is found in any cycling or aerobics class, or any DVD course found on some infomercial.

I went home and downloaded my Bodybugg. I’d burned 722 calories during the workout. That is a lot for 40 minutes.

The Bodybugg is a device that measures g-force, the amount of heat your body dissipates, the amount of sweat you are producing and the amount of heat your skin produces. All these factors are figured together in order to calculate calorie burn. It is the most accurate device on the market, but still not perfect. There are still other factors that impact this number, and more importantly, how many calories you burn as your body recovers from a workout like this.

Do not believe the electronic calorie burn numbers on machines at the gym or on any heart rate monitor. They are not close to accurate.

A pound of fat equals 3,500 calories of energy.

To lose a pound per week, you have to reduce your caloric intake by 3,500 per week, or 500 calories per day. To lose two pounds, you’d have to reduce your intake (or increase your expenditure) by 1,000 calories.
If you reduce your expenditure (or increase intake) by 500 calories per day – or one 12oz latte – you’ll gain a pound a week.

That same day I did the Murph workout, I ate the following:
   – An Apex Fit Drink and a bowl of oatmeal.
   – A 12″ turkey and pastrami deli sandwich with a small bag of barbecue
     potato chips and a 32oz raspberry iced tea.
   – Post workout, I had another Apex FIT Drink mix, with a scoop of glutamine.
   – For dinner, I had a heaping plate of pasta with shrimp wrapped in bacon. Oh, and I also had two 12oz pale ales and a glass of red wine.

Yes, this was a “cheat meal/day” and I ate like absolute garbage.

Grand total calories consumed for the day? 4,170
Total calories burned that day: 3,798
.
That equals a calorie surplus of 372 calories.

That being the case, if I were to do the this workout everyday (!), and eat like a pig, I would still gain a pound of fat about every 9 days. If I did that every week for a year, I’d gain 40lbs of fat.

Even after a workout like Murph, a binge at the dinner table will more than out-do any hope of trimming down through exercise alone.

Think about this the next time you try to rationalize poor nutrition by a trip to the gym. It won’t work. It is about consistent hard training, and constant accountability for what you eat and drink. There is no “I eat pretty good.” Unless you strictly monitor your calorie intake -vs- output, you will not reach any weight loss goal.

No matter how hard you train, you can’t out-train the dinner table.
-Jim Beaumont
Nutrex Lipo 6

 

January 3, 2010

Hard truth about corporate gyms…

Why doesn’t my commercial gym just have a whole bunch of kettlebells, barbells, dumbells and pullup bars instead of machines?
This is not a simple question, and therefore will not get a simple answer.

Money for nothing.

Like most everything else, it comes down to money. Corporate gyms don’t make money from people who get results from exercising through effective training methods. They get results from people who sign a membership contract and don’t use the gym.

I trained at a corporate gym for a while, and their own statistic was that 75% of those who sign a membership will not even be using the gym in 90 days. Of course, they’ll still be paying and the gym owners will be making money for nothing for the next two years.

Effective exercise takes time, discipline and lots of hard work and nothing else. Most people won’t pay to work that hard. Machines appear to offer an “easy way out” for lazy, misinformed or desperate people.

Any idiot can step on an exercise machine, slap on an iPod and watch TV, while making some flailing motions on some worthless exercise machine. Ever had to “elliptical” your way quickly from one place to another? I rest my case.

No doubt you will burn slightly more calories than sitting on the couch at home, but you gain little else from it.

As far as strength training with machines goes, forget it. Just forget it. Lifting heavy objects is the only way to teach your body to lift other heavy objects safely. Pushing or pulling a lever on a machine does nothing but teach you how to push and pull levers, no matter how much resistance is offered.

The owners and sleazy salespeople at big corporate gyms make money off people who come to a commercial gym, are in awe of all the fancy machines, and sign a two-year contract with the good intention of using the gym almost everyday.

The inviting atmosphere and vision of getting in shape while watching TV gets you in the door. I’m sure there are pictures of fit people on the walls using those worthless machines, and if you only sign on the dotted line, you’ll get there too. I’m sure they also have a rack full of miracle supplements – that are marked up at least 100% – to help you meet your goals.

Congratulations! You are now paying hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for a gym membership at a corporate gym.

For the first few weeks, all is well and you may even lose a few pounds as your body adapts to the new routine. But quickly, your body will find ways of decreasing the effort required to pedal that bicycle, or “elliptical” your way to health. The results stop, and you soon find reasons not to go to the gym.

That is how corporate gyms make money. The initial investment of those machines is more than offset by the steady stream of people willing to pay for easy fitness.

The problem is there is no such thing as easy fitness!

Being strong and lean requires work, sweat and sacrifice. Not machines. Muscle soreness, missed social engagements, and denying yourself things like junk food is part of the game. There are no shortcuts. No easy routes.

You will feel pain from working out. Deal with it.

Learn to separate slight soreness from actual injuries. If you haven’t been moving much, your body will hurt at first, but the results will come fast. Just don’t fall into the trap of gauging the productivity of your training strictly by the amount of soreness you experience. More on that later.

You will have to miss out on the after work party, the football game or your favorite TV show. Deal with it.

You will have to plan your meals, because working out hard while eating nothing but processed junk will hurt. All that sugar, salt and fat does not fuel a body well enough to accommodate hard training.

You have to pay attention while you train (not watch TV). If you are not paying attention while lifting a heavy kettlebell, dumbell, barbell or your bodyweight, you will get hurt. Period. And, it will be your own fault.

You will have to cut the bullshit and be accountable. No more crap about how you have a “slow metabolism” or “I eat pretty good.” You don’t.

If you don’t measure out every gram of food, you don’t know what you are eating. You have a “slow metabolism?” That is because fat requires less calories to maintain than muscle. Want to change that? Move more, and gain muscle.

Yes, there are some people who have health issues that impede their progress. Guess what? No one cares. The task is the same. Take responsibility for your health and work hard.

Leave your self-pity at the door. It does not serve a purpose. You must take control. No one else will, or can. Find out from a medical professional if you have some physical reason why weight loss is difficult (for a small percentage this is a real issue).

The bottom line

Your neighborhood corporate gym makes money on the promise of easy fitness. There is no such thing. Machines are the tool they choose to use to separate you from your money.

Serious training is not for the person who is content to disconnect their mind and body with an iPod, a TV and some form of repetitious movement that serves no purpose.

It takes hard, intelligent work to meet a fitness goal. Lifting your bodyweight and other heavy objects is the best means to that end.

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