الأربعاء، 2 نوفمبر، 2016

How Do Kegel Exercises Work

How Do Kegel Exercises Work?

In this episode, you'll learn about Kegel exercises: their definition, prescribed uses, and overall effectiveness. 


As private and potentially embarrassing a topic this may be, I’ll just go ahead and admit it: I’ve been doing lots of Kegel exercises lately. First defined in 1948 by a gynecologist named Arnold Kegel, Kegel exercises consist of repeatedly contracting and relaxing the muscles that form your pelvic floor, sometimes with the use of special weights and devices to increase resistances. Typically, Kegel exercises are done to help get rid of urinary incontinence, to reduce premature ejaculation, and to increase the size and intensity of erections. I’ll let your mind go wild about why I have personally chosen to try a 30-day stint of daily Kegel exercises, and I’m working on a separate article about that, but suffice it to say, Kegels have been something on my mind lately.

How Kegels Work

As I alluded to, the basic purpose of Kegel exercises is to increase the muscle tone, strength, and endurance of your pelvic floor muscles, specifically by strengthening the muscles of your pelvic floor called the “pubococcygeus” muscles (yep, that’s a mouthful!).
The most popular prescribed use of Kegel exercises is to help pregnant women prepare their pelvic floor for the rigors of pregnancy and childbirth, but Kegels can also be used for vaginal and uterine prolapse (in which parts of your anatomy literally “fall out” of you!), treating prostate pain in men, treating urinary incontinence in men and women, and helping with premature ejaculation and sexual performance.
The best way to describe Kegels is as follows: you simply contract the same muscles you’d normally contract if you were trying to slow or stop a flow of urine. Often when you “squeeze” these muscles in a contraction, you’ll feel your glute muscles contract as well, and sometimes even your lower abs.
Perhaps a little less well known is the fact that barbells, weights, springs, or cones designed to be held in a woman’s anatomy, and special weights designed to attach to a man’s anatomy can increase the difficulty and effectiveness of Kegel exercises for a more advanced and difficult workout.

Are Kegel Exercises Effective?

So … do Kegel exercises actually work? While I’m keeping the results of my N=1 experimentation to myself until I’m done with my 30 days of Kegel training, I have a friend named Katy Bowman, who isn’t too enchanted with Kegels. Here’s what Katy has to say about Kegels:
“A Kegel attempts to strengthen the pelvic floor, but it really only continues to pull the sacrum inward, promoting even more weakness and more pelvic floor gripping. The muscles that balance out the anterior pull on the sacrum are the glutes. A lack of glutes (having no butt) is what makes this group so much more susceptible to pelvic floor disorder. Zero lumbar curvature (missing the little curve at the small of the back) is the most telling sign that the pelvic floor is beginning to weaken. An easier way to say this is: Weak glutes + Too many Kegels = Pelvic Floor Disorder.”
Katy also thinks that regular use of Kegel exercises could potentially make your pelvic floor muscles too tense, at least relative to the tenseness or strength in your butt muscles. Her recommendation is to instead work on building your glute muscles (your butt) and to focus on mobility moves that allow you to eventually be able to get into a deep squatting position. While I think this is probably sound advice for women planning on pregnancy and childbirth, the fact is that if you combine Kegels with glute exercises, such as weighted squats, and lunges with mobility exercises, such as deep body weight squats, you’ll probably avoid any issues with excessive pelvic floor tightening.
In other words, if you’re only relying on Kegels alone for pelvic floor strength, you might run into some imbalance and tightness issues. But if you’re including other exercises for your core and lower body, you’ll probably be just fine. In addition, decades of scientific researchsupport pelvic muscle exercises for boosting sexual performance, preventing the onset of erectile dysfunction, reducing premature ejaculation, and helping with urinary and prostate health.

How To Do Kegels

Let’s finish with a sample Kegel workout:
Step 1: Find the right muscles. As you learned earlier, to identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream or tighten the muscles that keep you from passing gas. These are your pelvic floor muscles.
Step 2: Once you've identified your pelvic floor muscles, lie on your back with your knees bent and apart. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for three seconds, and then relax for three seconds. Try it a few times in a row but don't overdo it. As your muscles get stronger, you can do Kegel exercises while sitting, standing, or walking.
Step 3: Repeat. There’s no hard and fast rule for Kegels, but I’ve personally been doing ten 1-2 second contractions, followed by 20 rapid contractions, followed by a 20 second hold, followed by one minute of rest, for a total of 3 rounds.

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The Best Way to Use an Elliptical Trainer

The Best Way to Use an Elliptical Trainer

Discover five proven benefits of an elliptical trainer—plus how to use the elliptical trainer to burn more calories, become a better runner, and get more fit while decreasing your risk of injury. 


I have some friends (dyed-in-the-wool exercise enthusiasts) who think that the elliptical trainer at the gym, or those funny looking outdoor standup elliptical trainers with wheels, don't really work at all, especially when it comes to making you a better runner.
Many personal trainers also tend to stop at the elliptical trainer, instead choosing modalities such as the treadmill, the rowing machine, or the bicycle for interval training or aerobic cardio.
But a recent study on elliptical trainers (specifically the outdoor type that are on wheels) caught my eye. The study, which was entitled “A Physiological and Subjective Comparison of the ElliptiGO and Running in Highly Fit Trained Runners” investigated elliptical training on something called the “ElliptiGO” as a potential form of cross-training that could to provide a low impact, running-specific, high intensity exercise experience without the actual joint jarring that running typically causes.
In this study, they compared the physiological response to running with the physiological response to an equivalent workout on the outdoor elliptical trainer. The study showed complete maintenance of the fitness necessary to maintain running performance in highly trained, fit runners when using the elliptical trainer. In addition, this fitness was achieved with a lower rating of perceived exertion and a higher rating of enjoyment.
So it turns out that elliptical trainers aren’t just silly exercise devices—they can actually be used to train both the general population and highly trained runners for enhancing fitness. But there’s even more good news when it comes to elliptical trainers, and in this episode, you’re going to discover five more proven benefits of an elliptical trainer, how to use the elliptical trainer to burn more calories, become a better runner, and get more fit while decreasing your risk of injury.

5 Benefits of an Elliptical Trainer

Benefit #1: Lower Joint Stress Compared to Running
The elliptical trainer was originally designed by an inventor who came up with the idea for the elliptical motion by filming his daughter running alongside his car, then replicating that running motion in a machine that gave running benefits, but put less strain on the joints.
And he was right. A study at the University of Missouri measured oxygen utilization, lactic acid formation, heart rate, and rating of perceived exertion on an elliptical trainer as compared to a treadmill, and found that the elliptical exercise was nearly identical to the treadmill exercise in every respect, but the elliptical trainer created far less joint impact.
Benefit #2: Ability to Fix Weak Muscles
Another study compared muscle activity patterns of the quadriceps and hamstrings in walking on the ground, walking on a treadmill, stationary bicycling, and the elliptical trainer. The elliptical trainer produced significantly greater quadriceps utilization and greater quadriceps and hamstring coordination than any of the other modes of exercise!And a study at Willamette University found that when you pedal backwards on an elliptical, your quadriceps utilization skyrockets even more.
Considering that most people have weak quadriceps compared to hamstrings, this is another definite benefit to using an elliptical trainer, especially if you’re a frequent runner or cyclist who wants balanced muscles.

Benefit #3: Targeting of Notoriously Weak Muscles
Another study that came out of Dalhousie University in Canada compared elliptical training to walking, and found greater muscle activation during the elliptical training for the gluteus maximus (butt) and vastus lateralis (external hip muscles), with a slightly lower activation of the hamstrings.
These “hip extensors” and “hip external rotators” tend to be weak in most fitness enthusiasts and couch potatoes alike, and if you need to get them stronger, it turns out that an elliptical trainer can be just the ticket.
Benefit #4: Ability to Maximize Training Effects
Interestingly, another study, at the University of Idaho (my alma mater—go Vandals!) found that as stride length increases on an elliptical trainer, more calories are burned – without you actually feeling like you’re working any harder – which is very good to know if you exercise on an indoor elliptical trainer with adjustable stride length or on the outdoor-style Elliptigo trainer, which also has adjustable stride length.
In other words, even though an elliptical can be close to a treadmill in terms of actual calorie burning, an elliptical that has a long stride length can ensure that you’re truly maximizing calorie burn.
Benefit #5: Upper Body and Core Muscle Utilization
On an elliptical trainer that includes arm motion, a shoulder, chest, biceps and triceps workout can be incorporated simultaneous to a lower body cardiovascular workout. In addition, the upright posture on an elliptical trainer will utilize more of your core muscles, and if you go “hands-free” without using the railing on an indoor elliptical trainer, you can increase balance and posture training effects too.
In short, you can save a ton of time by working your upper body muscular endurance, lower body muscular endurance, cardiovascular fitness, and core all at the same time on an elliptical trainer.

How to Burn More Calories with an Elliptical Trainer

In the Get-Fit-Guy episode “How to Burn More Calories with an Elliptical Trainer,” I introduce a study entitled “An Elliptical Trainer May Render the Wingate All-out Test More Anaerobic.” The study compared the use of a bicycle with the use of an elliptical trainer for a traditional 30-second all-out laboratory test for measuring power (a test known as a “Wingate protocol”). The researchers measured energy outputs from the oxidative, phospholytic, and glycolytic energy systems (your three major energy systems) and looked at oxygen consumption and peak blood lactic acid.
It turns out that due to the increased arm use, the use of more leg musculature, and the upright posture, the elliptical trainer was able to get the body into an even more exhausted state more quickly than a bicycle.
This means that if you’re going to the gym to do a high-intensity interval training session and you’re going to choose the type of cardio machine that will get you the most bang for your buck, you should hop on something that involves both arms and legs, such as an elliptical trainer (or a rowing machine, or a ski ergometer, or a stairmill while holding light dumbbells).

An Elliptical Trainer Workout

Now that you know the benefits of using an elliptical trainer, here’s an elliptical trainer workout that takes full advantage of the benefits of high intensity interval training:
  • Warm up with easy pedaling for 5 minutes.
  • Perform five, 30-second all-out efforts, each separated by 60 seconds of easy recovery pedaling. As an option, alternate between forward pedaling and backward pedaling with each all out effort.
  • Stop the elliptical and jump rope or perform jumping jacks for one minute. If your knees don’t like this, simply do body weight squats.
  • Get back on the elliptical and perform 5, 60-second all-out efforts, each separated by 30 seconds of easy recovery pedaling.
  • Stop the elliptical and perform squat jumps or lunge jumps for one minute. If your knees don’t like this, do body weight lunges.
  • Get back on the elliptical and perform 5, 2-minute all-out efforts, each separated by 60 seconds of easy recovery pedaling.
  • Stop the elliptical and perform regular push-ups or squat-thrust-jumps for 1 minute.
  • Get back on the elliptical and cool-down for 5 minutes, or repeat this entire workout one more time. If desired, you can substitute new exercises the second time through.       
By the way, when you do this workout, you should be sure to use the elliptical trainer that includes arm movements. Why? In “Which Exercise Machine Burns the Most Calories?” you learned that even though most computers on an elliptical trainer vastly overestimate the number of calories you burn, you can still get a fantastic fat-burning and fitness effect if you use an elliptical trainer that has arm resistance on it. The workout will be event more effective if you also use a combination of a high cadence and challenging resistance when using the elliptical trainer.            
Ultimately, an elliptical trainer is an excellent tool for both fitness and fat loss, and I recommend including it in your fitness routine—even if you’re a “purist” runner or cyclist!

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8 Ways to Build Fitness All Year Long

8 Ways to Build Fitness All Year Long

Learn my eight top quick and dirty tips to ensure you beat back the SAID principle and gradually grow your fitness all year long.



In several previous Get-Fit Guy episodes, I’ve introduced the concept of “Specific Adaptation To Imposed Demands,” also known as the “SAID” principle in exercise science.
For example, in the episode “How To Get Better Results From Weightlifting,” you learn that the SAID principle means that your body will eventually get used to the type of workouts you do, including the load you place on your body, the angle at which that load is placed, your level of fatigue or balance or cognitive challenge when carrying that load, etc. For this reason, it’s important to vary your training as much as possible. While you can achieve this variety by doing some slow cardio workouts, some higher intensity cardio intervals, some cross-training with sports like swimming, soccer or tennis, some
explosive weight training, some regular speed weight training, some super slow training, and more, here are my eight top quick and dirty tips to ensure you beat back the SAID principle and gradually grow your fitness all year long.

1. Static Balance --> Dynamic Balance --> Loaded Balance

This first tip is a perfect example of this type of balance progression: stand on one foot. Got it? Good. That’s static, unmoving balance and it’s not too complex, right? Next stand on one foot but add dynamic balance, such as a bosu ball, wobbly board, foam mat, or other unstable device. Then finally, stand on one leg in a dynamic balance situation, and add load, such as a dumbbell overhead press. This progression might begin with a single leg balance feeling difficult for you, but eventually gets to the point where that single leg static balance is easy, and the other moves build in complexity to ensure you gradually build balance all year long.

2. Low Speed --> High Speed

When you lift weights at a slow and controlled speed, you primarily utilize Type 1 slow-twitch muscle fibers, and don’t tax your nervous system quite as heavily. But at the same time, you neglect fast-twitch muscle utilizing, high speed, explosive components of fitness that build your neuromuscular power. To overcome this issue, you can take exercises that you normally do very slow and controlled and do them explosively instead. This would include moves such as progressing from a regular pushup to instead performing a powerful, explosive clap pushup, a regular squat to a jump squat or a benchpress to a medicine ball throw.

3. Open Eyes --> Closed Eyes

You’d be surprised at how much an exercise changes in terms of everything from balance to body awareness to conscious muscle utilization when you lift weights with your eyes closed versus your eyes open. For example, you can take a simple exercise such as a barbell squat, and simply do it with your eyes closed, focusing on hip and hamstring utilization. Or, for something more complex, you can take any balance exercise, such as a single legged squat, and do it with your eyes closed instead of eyes open. Just don’t collide into any people or objects at the gym!

4.  Without Load --> With Load

This modification is relatively straightforward. Obviously you can progress from a push-up to a benchpress or a body weight squat to a weighted squat or body weight lunge to a weighted lunge, etc. But there are some exercises you may have never have thought about loading. Take a front plank for example. Too easy? Put on a weighted vest or a weight plate on your back. Try holding dumbbells for a stairclimber or steep treadmill incline walk. When you go on a hike, put a kettlebell in your backpack. You get the idea! This is especially important if you’ve lost a lot of fat, because your body doesn’t have to work quite as hard, especially during body weight exercises, to carry it’s own weight around.

5. Slow --> Fast Stretch Shortening Cycle (e.g. pausing beween reps vs very short pause)

When you finish a repetition—such as jumping into the air or doing a dumbbell curl—there is a perceptible pause between each repetition. This is called the “stretch-shortening cycle” or SSC, and you can either spend a long time in the SSC or train your ability to be explosive and exhaust the muscle and nervous system slightly more quickly by reducing the period of time spent during this SSC. For example, when you run, you can run at 90 steps per minute instead of 80 steps per minute. When you do a series of jump squats or jump lunges, you can rest as little as possible between each rep, essentially “decreasing ground contact time.” When you do a series of overhead presses, you can reverse the direction of the weight and press it straight overhead as soon as it gets down to your shoulders.

6.  Without Decision Making / Cognitive Load --> With Decision Making / Cognitive Load (e.g. fast feet in place vs. fast feet on ladder)

Making your brain work during exercises can certainly introduce a complexity component, and for this, you can add decision making or a cognitive load into your exercises. For example, rather than simply “sprinting” from point A to point B, you can set up a series of cones in a square shapped pattern and sprint from the middle of the square to the upper right cone, then to the lower left cone, back up to the upper left cone, and then back down to the lower right cone, returning to the middle after each cone sprint. Or, you can go on a mountain bike ride on an unpredictable trail instead of a road bike ride on smooth flat road. Or throw a medicine ball using a chest pass to a partner as that partner moves in an unpredictable pattern from side to side.

7.   Without Fatigue --> With Fatigue

Of course, if you “pre-load” a muscle group with lactic acid, lack of oxygen or storage sugar (glycogen) depletion, an exercise becomes more difficult and your body has to work harder and become more fit to move while fatigued. Try a series of pushups before you do the benchpress or any other chest pressing exercise. Or do a back to back swimming to weight training workout. Or do a series of weighted crunches before you do a front plank hold. Just be careful that if you are fatigued you are not sacrificing your form and proper biomechanics to push through the exercise.

8.  Non-Complex & Unloaded --> Complex and Loaded

Finally, here is one final tip: use movement progressions to go from non-complex and unloaded to complex and loaded. What does this mean exactly? The idea of a movement progression is that you progress your movements from easier to harder versions.
For example, to “progress” a deadlift you would start with a body weight “hinge”—simply reaching down by hinging at the waist, picking an imaginary object off the ground and standing up (try high rep body weight with this exercise, such as 30 repetitions, and you’ll see that it can actually be a bit taxing on your fitness!). Next you would progress to a dumbbell deadlift, then eventually to a barbell deadlift without weight, and then a barbell deadlift with weight.
Here’s another example: you can progress from a body weight hinge to a kettlebell clean, then to a barbell hang clean, and then to a loaded barbell hang clean. If you don’t know what a “clean” is, watch this video.
Then there’s the squat. You can probably imagine how you could progress this one, right? Start with a body weight squat, then move to a goblet squat, then to a barbell squat without weight, and then finally a loaded barbell squat.
You get the idea! Avoid doing the same exercises in the same way all year long, and it will pay big dividends in your fitness and in your ability to push through the “SAID” principle ceiling!


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Should You Lose Fat and Build Muscle at the Same Time?



Should You Lose Fat and Build Muscle at the Same Time?

Discover whether you should lose fat and build muscle at the same time.

Back when I was a bodybuilder, it was common knowledge that one of the best ways to get a nice body—especially if the goal was the ultimate combination of lean muscle mass and low body fat—was to do a “bulking” phase of muscle gain, followed by a “stripping” or “cutting” phase of fat loss leading up to the show (in which one basically poses on stage in scant clothing while performing a highly entertaining “flex-off” against fellow competitors).
But new exercise science research suggests that my approach (and the approach of many other professional fitness enthusiasts and workout “gurus”) could be flawed when it comes to building muscle and losing fat. You’re about to discover exactly what that new research says, and get practical tips based on this new science that will help you build muscle and lose fat—whether you’re pursuing bodybuilder-esque bulk or just want to get a lean body.

Lose Fat to Gain Muscle

This latest study on losing fat and gaining muscle, “Anabolic sensitivity of postprandial muscle protein synthesis to the ingestion of a protein-dense food is reduced in overweight and obese young adults.” (gotta love these fancy study titles, right?), compared ability to gain muscle in response to a protein-dense meal in three different populations: people who were normal, healthy weight, people who were overweight, and people who were obese.
After the subjects had consumed 170 grams of pork, which is approximately a 36 gram protein and 3 gram fat meal, the researcher studied the subjects’ skeletal muscle anabolic signaling, amino acid transporters, and myofibrillar protein synthesis, which are all three gold-standard markers of the ability to gain muscle.
So what did the research find?
It turns out that the group who was overweight experienced a much lower ability to be able to generate the activity necessary for muscle building in response to a protein-rich meal, and the group who was obese fared even worse. The researchers hypothesized that increased fat mass altered anabolic, muscle-building signals, reduced muscle sensitivity to food ingestion, and even caused greater amounts of mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) protein, which is a protein that inhibits the ability to be able to build muscle (just Google “mTOR knockout mice” or “mTOR knockout bulls” to see what happens when the opposite occurs and mTOR is allowed to get out of control).
In the paper, mTOR phosphorylation (which is “pro muscle growth”) was elevated in both overweight and obese participants, but that meant they couldn't increase phosphorylation (i.e. produce a growth signal) after protein ingestion. 
So what exactly does this mean for you? It means that if you want to gain muscle as efficiently as possible, you need to first get lean. In other words, rather than gaining muscle, then losing fat, you should lose fat, then gain muscle. You should “cut” first, then “bulk” (or get strong, or put on lean muscle, or whatever your muscular goals are) after that.

How to Lose Fat and Gain Muscle

Now let’s delve into some practical ways you can lose fat and then gain muscle.
Step 1: Have a Fat Loss Phase
Let’s say you want to look as good as possible for swimsuit season, which would generally be about May through September. In  a case like this, in the fall, you would begin doing intense fat loss, specifically by utilizing some of my favorite strategies such as:
-Morning fasted workouts in your body’s fat burning zone.
-Calorie restriction and lower meal frequency with slightly less protein (e.g. 20-30% of total dietary intake), preferably using a strategy such as calorie cycling, in which you restrict calories for 5 days of the week, then have 2 days of the week during which you eat to caloric balance. For more on this strategy, listen to Nutrition Diva’s episode on calorie cycling here.
-Cold thermogenesis such as cold showers, cold baths, keeping your home and office cool, and using cooling vests and cooling garments. Here is my latest episode on cold thermogenesis.
-Higher rep, lower weight weight training, with less of a focus on strength and mass and more of a focus on metabolic conditioning and “feeling the burn”.
-Using research-proven fat burning and blood sugar controlling supplements like caffeine, green tea extract, cayenne, bitter melon extract, cinnamon, and ketones.

Step 2: Follow with a Muscle Gain Phase
After you’ve gone through your fat loss phase, you would then begin, around early mid-spring, such as March or April, to switch to a focus on muscle gain, with strategies such as:
-Lifting heavy weights using full body exercises such as squats, deadlifts, presses, weighted pulls and powerlifts like the clean and push press. You can even use Strongman style training I talk about here, like tire flips, keg carries, heavy rock carries, car pushes, etc.
-Eating extra calories (or at least eating to calorie balance), eating more frequently, eating slightly more protein (e.g. 25-40% daily food intake), and limiting the number of fasted workouts that you do.
-Using research-proven muscle building supplements like fish oil, amino acids, colostrum, creatine, beta-alanine HMB and ATP.
-Getting more rest and recovery by utilizing harder, heavier workouts with longer rest periods, and less cardio, with a focus on brief, high-intensity cardio sessions rather than longer, aerobic or fasted fat burning sessions.
Step 3: Rinse, Wash, and Repeat
That’s it! Once you’ve lost fat and gained muscle, you can simply repeat this scenario each year, gradually lowering body fat percentage and increasing muscle as time progresses. If you want to research this method even more, look up the term “periodization” which refers to breaking your training year into “periods”, rather than training the same way all year long.

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Does a 20-Minute, Once-a-Week Workout Really Work?



Does a 20-Minute, Once-a-Week Workout Really Work?

Discover exactly what that style of movement is, and find out how to get the most bang for your exercise buck in just 20 minutes.


I recently read an article in Inc. Magazine entitled “Why This 20-Minute, Once-a-Week Workout Is the Best Thing Ever for Office Workers.” With one eyebrow raised at the hyperbole, I nonetheless delved into the article and discovered that it explains the science and practice of a specific type of exercise training that I personally implement and have indeed found to be quite time efficient. Here, you’re going to discover exactly what that style of movement is, and find out how to get the most bang for your exercise buck in just 20 minutes.In the article, the author describes her growing frustration over being strapped to a chair all day at the office unable to adequately exercise, and then her amazement upon speaking to her 50-something year old fit hair stylist who goes to a place where she's strapped into special exercise machines, wears her regular clothes, doesn't break a sweat, and performs a full-body workout in 20 minutes.
She then goes on to describe something called “high-intensity, slow-motion strength training,” in which you would do something like, say, a machine leg press, but you’d only do one single set, and you would take a very long, drawn out, all-the-muscles-in-my-body-burning time to perform that set (e.g. nine reps over three minutes), You’d then hit every other major muscle group, from upper body to core, with just one single, hard, teeth-gritting super slow set and…voila. Within 20 minutes, you’re done.
And better yet, according to a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, “Comparison of once‐weekly and twice‐weekly strength training in older adults,” this style of training may actually work—at least for older adults who need to maintain strength. In the study, a group of subjects aged 65–79 years were randomly assigned to two groups who each performed one set of exercises to muscular fatigue. Group 1 trained 1 day a week and group 2 trained 2 days a week using three lower and three upper body exercises for a total of 9 weeks. Using this style of training, researchers noted no difference in strength changes between training once a week versus twice a week.
Let’s face it: this style of one single, hard weekly super slow training routine probably isn’t going to break any Olympic records, but it appears to be a viable strategy for staying fit when time is limited. Perhaps better yet, as the author notes in the article, you don’t have to hunt down fancy exercise machines to do this style of training, and using your own body weight, a kettlebell or a set of dumbbells along with moves such as squat, lunge, pushup, overhead press, pull-up or row, you can easily perform 4-6 different  superslow exercises for each body section in your home, backyard, basement, or office.
This latest article actually backs up research that I highlighted in an episode a few years ago, “Does Super Slow Training Work?” In that episode, I describe that the idea behind super slow training is that by decreasing the speed of movement, you can create more tension in your muscles, and that this higher time-under-tension has indeed been show increase strength. But it’s important to note that the increase in strength primarily crosses over to muscle stability and the ability to—you guessed it—move high loads slowly. This is great news for someone who needs to, say, pick a heavy bag of groceries from the floor, but really doesn’t transfer much into the explosive power and speed necessary for athletic performances such as hitting a golf ball farther or rebounding a basketball.
It turns out that there really is something to super-slow training, especially if you’re tight on time.
However, there’s another benefit to super slow training: benefit to your heart and entire cardiovascular system. In the episode Weight Training Is Just as Good as Cardio, I describe a physician and exercise researcher named Doug McGuff (who, incidentally, is also mentioned in the recent Inc. Magazine article).  Also, I highlight a study entitled “Resistance Training to Momentary Muscular Failure Improves Cardiovascular Fitness in Humans: A Review of Acute Physiological Responses and Chronic Physiological Adaptations”, which was written in part by Dr. McGuff.
In the study, super slow resistance training to muscular failure resulted in the same type of cardiovascular adaptations you’d get if you were to, say, go out for a long run. This included a better ability to buffer lactic acid and increased density of the mitochondria—the tiny energy-producing powerhouses of your cells. In another episode, Is Weight Lifting Bad for Your Heart?, I describe how when you lift a heavy weight slowly, you produce adrenaline, and adrenaline causes  the arteries in your muscles to dilate. This causes a decrease in something called “peripheral resistance” (basically, a measurement of your blood pressure), an increase in cardiac output (how much blood your heart can pump), and zero changes in blood pressure that are dangerous to the heart. The squeezing actions of slowly contracting muscles actually "milks" blood back to your heart, and this means that for people with high blood pressure, lifting weights slowly may actually be less stressful to the heart than aerobic exercise, which doesn’t result in that same milking action.
So in summary, it turns out that there really is something to super-slow training, especially if you’re tight on time. However, due to the lack of efficacy of super slow training for things like speed, power and explosiveness, and the fact that it can get a bit boring to do, I recommend mixing up super slow training with a host of other types of moves, such as explosive body weight training, high intensity cardio intervals, and easy fasted fat burning workouts. And I describe exactly how to do that in my article “How To Look Good Naked And Live A Long Time.”

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3 Tips to Be a Fitness Freak When Traveling

3 Tips to Be a Fitness Freak When Traveling

In this episode, I’ll give you three of my personal Quick and Dirty Tips you can work into your own travel routine.


I just returned from a three-day conference.
While there, I was shocked at the number of conversations I overheard and the number of people who mentioned to me (perhaps knowing I am a fitness “guru”) how much fitness they lose while traveling, participating in multi-day conferences, and jetting to and from in planes, trainsn and automobiles without access to their normal daily workout routine or health club.
But I beg to differ. I’m not saying this to brag, but rather to give you a personal example. As a guy who is on the road for an average of two weeks out of every month, I manage to:
-Maintain 3% body fat at 180 pounds of mostly muscle
-Compete in some of the most difficult races on the face of the planet
-Get sick an average of once every 3 years
-Squeeze 60-90 minutes of exercise and movement into every busy day
-Return from many days of travel across multiple time zones with zero jet-lag
You get the idea. So how do I do it? 
1.    Make the Airport a Gym
No, you don’t have to drop and do push-ups outside the Delta lounge, or perform head-turning, embarrassing burpees at the gate while waiting for your plane to depart. Instead, you can try a few of my personal tips:
-Don’t sling your bags across your shoulder. Instead, hold them in your hands to work on grip strength.
-Duck into the stall of the bathroom and do 50 body weight squats
-Take stairs. Always. No escalators, ever (unless there aren’t any stairs)
-Don’t sit while waiting for your plane to board. Either walk, stand or find a quiet corner and do calisthenics like jumping jacks and body weight squats or stretches that move lymph and blood flow, like arms swings and leg swings.
-While standing in line at security, to board the plane, to get a coffee, etc. always be doing toe raises, arms curls with your bags, knee dips or squats and any other movement you can muster. Don’t worry: there will be plenty of time waiting for your plane to leave the ground for you to do any last-minute phone checks.
2.  Exercise Upon Arrival
Exercising when you get to your final destination is one of the best ways to beat jet lag and establish a normal circadian rhythm (the other ways are via exposure to natural light and eating at the set meal time for the destination you’re traveling to).
And yes, I’m just like everybody else: I find exercise to be difficult when I get done with a long day of travel. My body is stiff, my eyes are tired and all I really want to do is flop on the hotel bed and flip on the TV.
But here’s a few of my key secrets to making exercise happen anyways:
-Get through the first 2 minutes of exercise and it all gets easier from there, probably due to the fact that 2 minutes is about how long it takes for your body to switch from an anaerobic non-oxygen utilizing mode to an aerobic oxygen utilizing mode. So I suggest beginning with something relatively passive and easy that tricks your body into getting through those first 2 minutes, such as jumping jacks, walking on a treadmill, treading water in a pool, etc. Trust me, starting with heavy squats or burpees is much more difficult than easier options.
-Have a plan. On the plane, for example, I’ll jot down on a piece of paper what I will do when I get to my hotel, such as:
-2 minutes jumping jacks
-10 pushups
-20 squats
-30 mountain climbers
-40 vertical jumps
-Repeat 5x
-Reward yourself. I’ll often avoid eating any snacks, food, meals, mini-bar indulgences or anything else until after I’ve done my workout, but I do promise myself that if I can simply get through a 30 minute workout after arriving at my destination, I’ll treat myself to a walk over to a local restaurant that ranks high on Yelp or Trip Adviser, or make a trip to the hotel pool for 15 rewarding minutes in the hot tub with a newspaper and a glass of wine. You get the idea: give yourself a carrot on the end of a stick.
If it’s written down and outsourced to a piece of paper, I’m far less likely to succumb to decision making fatigue, and far more likely to simply set my bags down in my hotel room and get it done.
3.  Use Google Maps
As soon as I get to my hotel or AirBNB or wherever else I’m staying, I open Google Maps and plug in my lodging address. I then use the “Search Nearby” function to identify the following
-Gyms & Health Clubs: any of these often have very affordable guest pass rates or, if you visit the gym’s website, free guest passes you can print or put on your phone to get you a complementary visit to the facility. These facilities are often far, far better and more equipped than a hotel gym.
-Pools: Local city pools, YMCA pools, health clubs with pools and any other pools give you water to exercise in. When combined with the fact that I always travel with goggles and an underwater .mp3 player in my travel bag, this allows me to get instant access to lap swimming, water running, underwater breath holding routines and all my favorite water workouts.
-Parks: the oxygenation from plants and trees, therapy from nature, green and plant aromas, sunlight, and fresh air can make the overall “blah”, stale feeling a body often has during travel to simply melt away. A brisk walk through a local park is something that can easily be mixed with dips and pushups on park benches, burpees, short sprints, pull-ups from tree branches or mini-yoga sessions.
You get the idea. With just a few habits and systems worked into your travel routine, you don’t need to be the person whose body gets wrecked every time you go to a conference, event or other travel obligation. Instead, there’s no excuse not to arrive back from a bout of travel even more fit than when you started!

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How to Get Fit While Watching TV

How to Get Fit While Watching TV

Learn exercise routines that you can do while watching television!


This week, Australian researchers reported that watching an hour of TV after the age of 25 can shorten the viewer's life by about 22 minutes. And for the past decade, multiple studies have been discovering direct correlations between hours of TV viewing and obesity. But I have to confess that despite these studies, I watch TV almost every day (and I’m particularly fond of any cooking shows or reality TV shows that involve talent competitions). So in this article, you’ll learn 3 exercise routines that you can do while watching television!.

Why Should I Exercise While Watching TV?

In the episode 7 Ways To Burn Calories By Standing More, we learned the perils of sitting – primarily a drop in metabolism, pressure on the low back, and a decrease in the activity of fat burning enzymes. It’s no wonder that people who sit and watch a lot of TV have weight problems!
While there are certainly times in life when you simply need the relaxing feeling of curling up on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and your favorite movie, there are other times when there’s a TV show, movie, or sporting event that you really want to watch – despite your need to squeeze in an exercise session. Why not have the best of both worlds?
Here are 3 workout routines to get you fit while watching TV:

#1 TV Show Exercise Session

Most TV shows, especially typical sitcoms or dramas, have anywhere from 3 to 5 primary characters. Begin by choosing an exercise for each of those major characters. When you choose an exercise, remember to choose activities which you can do while facing the TV, since your TV workout will become annoying if you’re twisting, turning and missing the action onscreen.

Let’s choose an abdominal workout for this example. So Character 1 would represent a plank, Character 2 a side plank, Character 3 a bridge, Character 4 a bicycle crunch, and Character 5 an elastic band twist. Each time a character appears, you perform 10-15 repetitions of that exercise. It’s like a drinking game, but without the hangover!
You could easily do this with a leg workout as well. For example, use squats, reverse lunges, side lunges, forward lunges, and calf raises, and similar to the ab routine, every time a character associated with an exercise appears, you perform that exercise. During the commercials, you can perform cardio intervals, such as jumping jacks, step-ups, jogging in place, or an exercise that doesn’t require you to face the TV, like squat-thrust-jumps. Finally, use the opening and closing credits for stretching.
Of course, you could also simply do a cardio session during the TV show. For an example, see my Glee Indoor Cycling Workout.

#2 Sporting Event Exercise Session

Sporting events, which usually include changes of possession, are quite conducive to cardiovascular exercise. For example, let’s say that Team A is competing against Team B. Set-up a treadmill, bicycle trainer, or elliptical in front of the TV and get ready for action.
Anytime Team A has the ball, the puck, or any other kind of possession, you do an intense interval, such as pedaling faster, increasing the treadmill speed, or increasing the elliptical strides per minute. Whenever Team B has possession, you decrease to an easy, aerobic, recovery pace. When the commercials appear, you can do a tempo effort, which is a moderate pace at a medium intensity. Alternatively, you could do intervals during the commercials, so that every time a commercial break begins, you increase the resistance or incline for the first commercial, decrease for the second commercial, increase for the third, and so on.
This type of workout changes drastically depending on the type of sporting event you choose. During a football game, a team may have possession for over 5 minutes, while during a basketball game, possessions may just be a matter of seconds.

#3 Movie Exercise Session

Movie workouts tend to be longer, especially since it can be annoying to exercise during the first part of your movie, go shower, then come back and finish the movie.
So a good way to approach movie exercises is to think of them as a physically active game, and to associate specific exercises with objects in the movie. For example, let’s say you have a set of dumbbells and an action flick. If you see a police car, you would do 10 overhead presses; any type of weapon, like a gun, would be 10 shadow punches; any bombs or explosions would be 10 lunge jumps; any type of flying vehicle, like an airplane or helicopter, would be 10 bicep curls. Depending on how many "objects" you choose for your workout, this can be a challenging routine.
You can also simply do a cardio workout during a movie. Often, I’ll set up my indoor bicycle trainer during an action movie, and simply “go hard” during any intense action scenes, and then pedal aerobically when the action settles down.
There’s no rule that catching your favorite TV show, sporting event, or movie requires you to be completely sedentary for an hour or two. If you watch just 2 hours of television per week, and you do the workouts in this article during your TV viewing times, you can burn an extra 600-1,600 calories each week, which can add up to over 26 pounds of fat a year!

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