Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Train the Whole Body As One Piece!

"They aren't connected to the head. But the whole body grows from the head. The muscles and tendons hold the body together. And God causes it to grow." - Colossians 2:19

I'm posting the information below from one of Alwyn Cosgrove's recent blogs.

In some of my previous blogs, I talked about focusing on movement patterns and compound, multi-joint exercises to achieve a variety of fitness and fat loss goals. The information below reinforces what I said before. The study below proves that isolation exercises are not as beneficial compared to compound, multi-joint exercises.

All the talk about bodypart training versus full-body routines, isolation exercise versus compound exercise, etc. is based upon a fundamentally flawed concept: That hypertrophy is somehow completely regionally specific.

Here’s a study that examines this in a bit more detail:

Rogers et al.

The Effect of Supplemental Isolated Weight-Training Exercises on Upper-Arm Size and Upper-Body Strength

Human Performance Laboratory, Ball State University, Muncie, IN.NSCA Conference Abstract (2000)

The researchers compared the effects of a weight training program on 5RM strength and arm circumference and divided the subjects into two groups.

Group One performed four compound upper body exercises.

Group Two used the same program but included bicep curls and triceps extensions.

The results showed that both groups significantly increased strength and arm size. However, the addition of direct arm training to group two produced no additional effect on strength or arm circumference after 10 weeks of training.

The additional localized training did not result in anything that the bigger compound exercises didn’t provide.

Let me present a hypothetical example:

Twin brothers eating the same diet and working at the same job. Three times a week for the next 52 weeks: Both brothers undertake a progressive resistance training program – each adding weight, sets or reps in a logical manner over the whole year.

One difference: The first brother does deadlifts only. The second brother does arm curls only.

After a year, who do you think will be bigger overall? Including bigger arms? Obviously, it will be the first brother who put more overall stress and load through his system. Even though he didn’t bend his elbow at all.

Charles Poliquin is fond of quoting that in order to gain an inch on your arm, you’d have to gain 15lbs of muscle mass. If that’s true, it will happen a lot sooner with an exercise like the deadlift than it will with the dumbbell curl.

Bottom line is that muscle growth is a systemic issue not a localized one. If I put a stress on the forearm only it would grow, of course, but there would be a limit to that as the systemic load is small. But if you performed deadlifts, the systemic load would be so big that everything would grow.

And when we think about anabolics or anything that can enhance muscle growth, they are injected or consumed into the system. You don’t inject steroids in equal amounts into every muscle group. You don’t rub Surge or another post-workout recovery drink on your arms. Increased protein synthesis is a systemic phenomenon.

Therefore why not develop training strategies that target the entire system at once if fat loss or hypertrophy is what we want?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Meal Frequency: Eat 4-6 Meals Per Day!

"The best food and olive oil are stored up in the houses of wise people. But a foolish man eats up everything he has."
- Proverbs 21:20

I'm sure you've heard that you should eat 4-6 meals per day when embarking on a fat loss program or health and fitness routine.

The reason it's important to eat 4-6 small meals per day is to help keep your metabolism elevated and to provide the body a steady stream of nutrients, including amino acids from protein-containing foods.

Research proves that small, frequent meals are better than two or three larger meals. Here are a few studies that Alwyn Cosgrove recently posted on his blog.

(1) A study from 2003:

Louis-Sylvestre et al.

Highlighting the positive impact of increasing feeding frequency on metabolism and weight management.

Forum Nutr. 2003;56:126-8. Review

This one showed that adults who were accustomed to eating 4 meals a day gained bodyfat and weight when switched to 3 meals a day (despite calories remaining the same). There are several other studies that show the same thing.

A 2006 study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that eating 6 times per day was associated with eating fewer calories per day, lowering cholesterol levels and lowering post-meal insulin levels.

Conclusion: It seems that meal frequency is an important tool.

(2) A study from 1957:

Kekwick and Pawan

Metabolic study in human obesity with isocaloric diets high in fat, protein or carbohydrate.

Metabolism. 1957 Sep;6(5):447-60

This study compared THREE hypocaloric diets:

1000 cals at 90% fat: subjects lost 0.9lbs per day

1000 cals at 90% protein: lost 0.6lbs per day

1000 cals – 90% carbs – actually gained slightly (not really significant though).

Conclusion: It's not just about the calories! There does seem to be an advantage to adjusting the macronutrients.

(3) And finally one more from 2003:

Greene, P., Willett, W., Devecis, J., et al.,

Pilot 12-Week Feeding Weight-Loss Comparison: Low-Fat vs Low-Carbohydrate (Ketogenic) Diets," Abstract Presented at The North American Association for the Study of Obesity Annual Meeting 2003

Obesity Research, 11S, 2003, page 95OR.

Three groups on different diets for 12 weeks:

Low fat/low cal (1800 cals per day) diet: Lost on average 17 lbs

Low carb/higher cal (+300) group: Lost on average 20 lbs.

But when they combined low carbs AND low calories (1800 again) - that group lost 23lbs.

Conclusion: It might not be just about the calories - but calories STILL count!

So we see that increased meal frequency and the amount and types of calories consumed do indeed affect fat loss.

The easiest way to begin eating more frequent, small meals is to make sure you eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and add two small snacks per day. It can look like this:

8am - Breakfast

11am - Snack (apple and 2 tbsp natural peanut butter)

1pm - Lunch

4pm - Snack (cottage cheese and fruit)

5-7pm - Workout (be sure to have a protein shake or at least some chocolate milk after your workout)

6-8pm - Dinner

For ideas on other snacks and meals, feel free to contact me!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Book Recommendation: Boundaries

"Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life." - Proverbs 19:20

Here's another good book recommendation: Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.

In order to call themselves good Christians, many people have drawn overly flexible boundaries (unwilling to say no, always accommodating others' needs) or overly rigid boundaries (to the point of being righteous and judgmental). Psychologists and inspirational speakers Cloud and Townsend show readers how to set reasonable boundaries in order to follow the true path of Christianity.

Having clear boundaries is essential to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. A boundary is a personal property line that marks those things for which we are responsible. In other words, boundaries define who we are and who we are not. Boundaries impact all areas of our lives: Physical boundaries help us determine who may touch us, mental boundaries give us the freedom to have our own thoughts, emotional boundaries help us to deal with our own emotions and spiritual boundaries help us to distinguish God's will from our own.

This book uses Christian-based teaching to show you how to set proper boundaries with yourself and others in your life. I highly recommend this book if you are someone who "gives in" to others too much or has too many "walls" preventing proper boundaries with others.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

How To Perform Interval Training

"Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge." - Proverbs 18:15

There are a number of ways to perform interval training. If interval training is new to you, or if you would like to incorporate it into your weekly training plan, I've listed some suggested ways to progress along with the most effective exercises to use.

Weeks 1-4:

Warm-up for 3-5 minutes (I use a circuit of bodyweight exercises. You can also perform a fast walk, light jog, jump rope, jumping jacks or other type of exercise.)

Beginners: Perform 3-4 rounds (1:2 ratio = 60sec "hard" interval and 120sec active rest/light activity)

Intermediate/Advanced: Perform 6-8 rounds (1:2 ratio = 60sec "hard" interval and 120sec active rest/light activity)

Cool down for 3-5 minutes (I use a circuit of bodyweight exercises. You can also perform a fast walk, light jog, jump rope, jumping jacks or other type of exercise.)

Weeks 5-8:

Warm-up for 3-5 minutes (I use a circuit of bodyweight exercises. You can also perform a fast walk, light jog, jump rope, jumping jacks or other type of exercise.)

Beginners: Perform 4-6 rounds (1:2 ratio)

Intermediate/Advanced: Perform 8-10 rounds (1:1.5 ratio = 60sec "hard" interval and 90sec active rest/light activity)

Cool down for 3-5 minutes (I use a circuit of bodyweight exercises. You can also perform a fast walk, light jog, jump rope, jumping jacks or other type of exercise.)

Weeks 9-12:

Warm-up for 3-5 minutes (I use a circuit of bodyweight exercises. You can also perform a fast walk, light jog, jump rope, jumping jacks or other type of exercise.)

Beginners: Perform 6-8 intervals (1:2 ratio)

Intermediate/Advanced: Perform 10-12 rounds (1:1 ratio = 60sec "hard" interval and 60sec active rest/light activity)

Cool down for 3-5 minutes (I use a circuit of bodyweight exercises. You can also perform a fast walk, light jog, jump rope, jumping jacks or other type of exercise.)

Frequency: Start out with 2-3 intervals per week for the first 8 weeks and increase to 3-4 interval sessions per week during the last four weeks (if fat loss is your main goal).

Use a variety of interval methods to prevent boredom, overuse injuries or adapting to the exercises.

The best methods for interval training include (in order of most effective to least effective):

Hill sprints
Sprinting outside
Treadmill sprints
Strongman type exercises/medleys (car pushing, sled drags, clean and presses, farmer's walks, etc.)
Bodyweight or Kettlebell circuits (burpees, jump squats, pushups, swings, snatches, etc.)
Hybrid and weighted exercises (thrusters = front squat/push press, front squats, sandbag clean and presses, etc.)
Bike sprints
Rope Jumping

Remember that a "hard" interval means an exertion level of 8 or 9 out of a possible 10 (the hardest you could possibly go). Your active rest/light activity should be at a level of 4-5 out of 10. Your cool down should be at a level 3.

For a beginner, a "hard" interval at level 8 or 9 could be a fast walk or light jog. For someone who is an intermediate or advanced, it could mean sprinting 400 meters while wearing a weighted Xvest! You have to adjust intervals to your level of conditioning and increase/improve over time.

As mentioned many times before, the first and most important step to achieving your fat loss, health and fitness goals is your diet. Read my previous blog posts for some good tips and information.

Good luck!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fat Loss Training - Articles and Program

"Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding." - Proverbs 3:13

Below are a few good articles on fat loss by Alwyn Cosgrove. One explains the Hierarchy of Fat Loss and the other is an actual training program that will help melt the fat off your body in no time.

I do recommend reading both of these articles to gain a better understanding of how to lose fat in the most effective way possible while also increasing your strength and conditioning levels. Some of what you read may be familiar to you as many of my previous blogs have touched on these recommendations and studies.

WARNING: There may be some offensive language used in these articles and on this site.

The Hierarchy of Fat Loss

Real Fast Fat Loss

A quick note: The Real Fast Fat Loss training program is not for beginners. It is better for someone who has been weight training for about a year and has a basic understanding of proper form and experience lifting free weights.

If you can commit yourself to working hard and following the training plan as written, you'll be on your way to a leaner and more fit body in no time.

Remember, simple, hard work is all you need!

Simple. But not easy.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Burn Fat and Increase Metabolism With Resistance and Interval Training!

"When you walk, you won’t be held back; when you run, you won’t stumble." - Proverbs 4:12

I've discussed resistance training and interval training in previous blogs. Resistance training and interval training has been proven to be more effective for fat loss, cardiovascular conditioning and increased metabolism than steady-state aerobic training.

Here's a good study on interval training:

University Of Guelph (2007, June 29).
Interval Training Burns More Fat, Increases Fitness, Study Finds.

Read the article here: ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 22, 2008.

Here's another good study posted by Alwyn Cosgrove that shows how metabolism is increased for 38 hours or more following circuit-based resistance training:

Schuenke MD, Mikat RP, McBride JM.
Effect of an acute period of resistance exercise on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC): implications for body fat management.

Eur J Appl Physiol 2002 Mar; 86(5): 411-7

This group looked at the effects of circuit weight training on EPOC. The exercise routine consisted of three exercises (the bench press, the power clean and the squat) performed with 10RM loads as a circuit. The circuit was performed four times (i.e. twelve total sets) and took 31 mins.

EPOC was elevated for 38 hours post workout. The duration and magnitude of the EPOC observed in this study indicates the importance of the role of high-intensity resistance training in a fat loss program.

(Although the study showed that EPOC was elevated for 38 hours, it could be more than that - the researchers stopped tracking it at this point. Further studies are needed to see if EPOC can be raised for many more additional hours.)

This type of information should go a long way in helping fitness professionals design and implement effective fat loss programs. It's not the workout - it's the effect of that workout on EPOC.

EPOC stands for Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption and is defined scientifically as the “recovery of metabolic rate back to pre-exercise levels.” It can require several minutes for light exercise and several hours for hard intervals.

In layman’s terms, it means you keep burning calories at an increased rate after a workout. We call this: Metabolic disturbance - elevating EPOC to maximize caloric burn for the other 23+ hours per day.

Is there much of a real world effect of burning 300 calories per workout (e.g. aerobic work) if I don't elevate EPOC? If we could elevate EPOC even an apparently insignificant 1/4 of a calorie per minute for the 38 hours that the study showed, then that 31-minute resistance training workout would burn maybe 300 calories during the session plus an extra 570 calories over the next 38 hours.

That becomes very significant. In the past, fitness professionals and researchers have looked at how much fat is burned during the exercise session itself. This is extremely short-sighted. As my colleague Alan Aragon said:

"Caring how much fat is burned during training makes as much sense as caring how much muscle is built during training."

Think about that. If we looked at a weight training session that started at 9am and finished at 10am, how much muscle would we see built if we stopped looking at 10am? None. In fact, we'd see muscle damage. We could make the conclusion that weight training does not increase muscle. In fact, it decreases muscle, right?

It's only when we look at the big picture and look at the recovery from the session that we find the reverse is true: Weight training builds muscle. (Muscle is broken down during training and then is built during the recovery period to become bigger and stronger.)

Fat loss training is the same way. If someone talks about the benefits of the "fat burning zone" or "fasted cardio," it is a sure sign that the individual has stopped looking at the end of the exercise session. They have come to the conclusion that fasted, lower intensity steady-state exercise burns the most fat, and they have made a massive leap of faith to suggest it is best for real world fat loss. Using that same logic, these same people would suggest avoiding weight training if you want to grow muscle.

Take home message: Focus on the metabolic disturbance created after training not just what happens during the exercise session.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Book Recommendation: Why You Do The Things You Do!

"So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other."
- John 13:34

I've been reading a book by Tim Clinton called "Why You Do The Things You Do." It's a very good book, and I highly recommend checking it out.

The book will help you identify your relationship style (Ambivalent, Avoidant and Disorganized) and how to overcome various issues so you can have healthy relationships with others.

It's definitely worth reading, as it could help change your life forever.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Tabata Interval Training!

"I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified." - 1 Corinthians 9:27

Thursday's workout was short but very intense. After a 2 1/2-minute bodyweight warm-up consisting of squats, pushups, lunges, mountain climbers and a few other exercises, I used the Tabata method for a four-minute workout to help burn fat and elevate my metabolism. I finished with another 2 1/2-minute bodyweight cool down using similar exercises as the warm-up.

The Tabata method was developed by Izumi Tabata at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan in 1996. In the study, Dr. Tabata compared the effects of moderate-intensity endurance training (aerobic) and high-intensity intermittent training (Tabata intervals) on VO2 max and anaerobic capacity.

The results of the study: The moderate-intensity training group produced a significant increase in VO2 max of about 10%, but it had no effect on anaerobic capacity. The high-intensity training group improved their VO2 max by about 14% while increasing anaerobic capacity by 28%. Dr. Tabata's group also found that short-term intense interval training is highly effective in lowering the ratio of lean body mass to fat without compromising your muscle size. The study was done over a six-week period. Both groups worked out 5 days per week.

One of the hardest aspects of performing a Tabata workout is staying focused for the whole four minutes. It only takes 6-to-8 very hard 20-second intervals with 10-second rest periods to substantially improve both your aerobic and anaerobic capacity (while burning fat).

My exercise of choice for this particular Tabata workout was the burpee.

The burpee is an extremely effective conditioning exercise. It combines a pushup with a squat and a jump. Done at a fast pace, this is one of the best overall bodyweight conditioning exercises you can perform. A burpee utilizing the Tabata method makes it even more brutal! The work periods (20 seconds) may seem short, but done at a blistering pace, the effects build up quickly. A 10-second rest period is barely enough time to catch your breath. But if you push through, you'll be done in only 4 minutes.

In addition to the burpee, many other exercises can be used with the Tabata method. Ideally, you want to use an exercise that works as much of the body as possible. Some good choices include:

Thrusters (front squat to push press complex)
Front Squats
Bodyweight Squats
Jump Rope

If 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest is too difficult, there are a few ways to progress. For weeks 1-4, you can use the Tabata method once per week with 10-second work periods and 20-second rest periods. For weeks 5-8, you can perform 15-second work periods and 15-second rest periods and for weeks 9-12, you can perform the full 20-second work periods with the 10-second rest periods.

A word of caution: Tabata intervals are very intense and should only be used by those who already have a high level of conditioning and no health problems. Also, Tabata intervals should not be used too frequently. For one, they are hard. Two, because the workouts are short it's best to mix shorter more intense workouts like Tabatas with longer, intense workouts such as interval training and other high intensity interval methods (both anaerobic and aerobic).

For those of you who want to see the original abstract for the Tabata interval study, point your browser HERE.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Warp Speed Fat Loss!

"You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth?" - Galatians 5:7

I've mentioned Alwyn Cosgrove (strength coach and fat loss expert) in previous blogs, but I have not mentioned Mike Roussell (a nutrition expert). Recently, Alwyn and Mike came together to offer information on how to accelerate fat loss through proper nutrition and training with their Warp Speed Fat Loss program.

I highly recommend that you spend 25 minutes listening to the audio and watching the slide presentation to get you started. You can see the presentation here: Click Me!

You will notice that many of the things I have said in my previous blogs regarding fat loss are mentioned here. This presentation may help you understand things in a new way so that it makes more sense.

I also recommend signing up for the free fat loss secrets membership and referring two friends to get the special report that shows several very short, but intense fat loss workouts that you can do at home with virtually no equipment.

If you follow these tips, you will accelerate your fat loss in no time!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Strength versus Conditioning

"If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small."
- Proverbs 24:10

I was recently emailing back and forth with a friend discussing his conditioning needs and workouts.

Due to a huge amount of stress in his life from various issues along with recent illness, he found himself at a point where he hadn't been training as much and was feeling out of shape and deconditioned. I addressed some of those other stresses and issues in his life and then began to discuss his training and current levels of fitness.

He showed me a plan of how he was going to improve his conditioning over the next several weeks with walking, burpees, interval training and strongman conditioning. After giving him some suggestions on how to progress, I noticed that he never mentioned his resistance (weight) training program during this time. After further inquiry, I realized that he had decided not to focus on resistance training until after he increased his conditioning.

I felt that this was a huge mistake, and I encouraged him to focus on his strength before his conditioning, as it makes no sense in trying to become more fit without becoming stronger first. He would only be a more fit version of his "weaker" self which in the end would not result in much improvement with his conditioning.

Not only that, but resistance training is a form of conditioning. Resistance training not only strengths the muscles, tendons and ligaments, but it also strengthens the heart and cardiovascular system. Resistance training with short rest periods or performed using supersets, tri-sets, circuits, complexes and hybrids can also be used specifically for conditioning purposes while strengthening the body.

Alwyn Cosgrove wrote a wonderful article about conditioning for mixed martial artists (MMA) where he said this:

Before we get into the actual exercise prescription, I should point out that I still believe that maximal strength levels should be achieved prior to endurance or energy system development. My theory is this: when we are talking about endurance – we are talking about power endurance or speed endurance or strength endurance. If we haven’t built up appreciable levels of power, speed or strength, then what the hell are we trying to endure? A low level of power? A low level of speed?

Conditioning coach Mike Boyle once pointed out that “It is significantly easier to get an explosive athlete ‘in shape’, than it is to make an ‘in shape’ athlete explosive. The first will take weeks the second may take years.”

This was exactly the point I was trying to make in my conversation, and it reinforces my belief that strength is the most important quality to build with your training. I also mentioned this in a previous blog.

Unfortunately, many people who begin training to lose fat or to "get in shape" tend to start from the opposite direction. They may start with steady-state aerobic exercise (walking, jogging, biking, etc.) and then work toward interval training and resistance training. When this approached is followed, it usually results in little to no progress and frustration. However, if someone were to begin with resistance training they would make more progress in strength and overall conditioning. This is also mentioned in Alwyn Cosgrove's article and blog about the Hierarchy of Fat Loss.

Whether your goal is to lose fat, gain muscle, increase strength, or become more fit or healthy, always begin with resistance training to accomplish your goals. Get stronger first, and everything else will fall into place. But don't forget that the number one step you should take is: NUTRITION. Everything starts with a proper nutritional program. Be sure to read my previous blog posts for tips on how to improve your nutritional plan.

Get on a good resistance training program such as Turbulence Training by Craig Ballantyne, Muscle Gaining Secrets by Jason Ferruggia, No-Nonsense Muscle Building by Vince DelMonte or Real Man Fitness by Zach Even-Esh.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Eat Your Eggs!

All the animals of the earth, all the birds of the sky, all the small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the fish in the sea will look on you with fear and terror. I have placed them in your power. I have given them to you for food, just as I have given you grain and vegetables. - Genesis 9:2-3

Today's post is a guest blog from John Berardi. I completely agree with John about this topic. I'm sure you'll find it eye opening.

Last week, a study suggesting that eating more than 7 eggs per week can lead to premature death. Uh, oh. I eat about 21 whole eggs a week (3 per day) - So do I (Nate).

So I guess I should be dead already. But instead of getting worried, I'm chuckling. Laughing at the absurdity of it all. You see, this idea, the idea that natural foods like eggs, lean meats, soybeans, whole grain cereals, etc. can inherently be bad for us, is so absurd that the only thing an intelligent person can do is chuckle.

First of all, the "egg study" is flawed and virtually meaningless. Second of all, the media has it all wrong about the "goodness" or "badness" of specific foods. You see, very, very few foods either qualify as good or bad (except when referring to high fructose corn syrup and trans fats).

Instead, it's our own physiological environment that sets the stage for how the food reacts within our bodies. Control the environment and the food part becomes ridiculously simple. If you've ever been confused by the seemingly contradictory nutrition information out there, you've got to check out this week's article.

Good vs. Bad Foods: Eggs!

It's time to put the good food vs. bad food debate to bed once and for all.

Until next time,


Monday, April 14, 2008

My 12-Week Fat Loss and Conditioning Training Phase...

"Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize." - Philippians 3:13-14

When it comes to fat loss and conditioning, you have to learn to push past the pain and discomfort and the mental blocks and keep striving toward the end result. As I've said before, it's simple, but not easy. It takes focus, drive, determination, discipline and simple, hard work.

As Dan John (a strength coach in Utah) has said before:

"Fat loss is an all-out war. Give it 28 days, only 28 days. Attack it with all you have. It is not a lifestyle choice... it's a battle. Lose fat, and then get back into moderation. There's another one for you: moderation. Revelations says it best: 'You are lukewarm and I shall spit you out.' Moderation is for sissies."

I started my next 12-week training phase on Sunday with some interval training. I performed a five-minute warm-up with some bodyweight exercises and then proceeded to run my intervals. It was tough, but it felt good. Sprints done with a 1:2 work-to-rest ratio are no joke (1 minute sprint and two minutes of a light "jog" before repeating for 6-8 sets). I finished with another five-minute bodyweight circuit as my cool down. The total workout took just under 30 minutes.

Today was my weight training day, and it was brutal! It consisted of complexes followed by a four-exercise circuit using fairly heavy weights and moderate reps targeting the whole body. The training session ended with some ab work.

The rest periods were short, and the exercises were difficult. The entire workout from beginning to end took just under an hour. It felt good and let me know that the next several weeks will not be easy, but the sessions will be effective. Not only will I take my conditioning to a whole new level, but I'll be shredded in no time.

Tuesday is considered an "off" day, but this is typically the day me and some friends go for a bike ride and climb the rope and perform a few other exercises. We'll see how this day goes and if it causes any problems with my current training program soon enough.

Wednesday will be another weight workout similar to today (with different exercises, sets/reps) and Thursday will be a short, but intense conditioning workout. I'll talk more about this later this week. Friday will be the last weight training workout for the week using the same exercises as today, but different set and reps. Saturday is an off day.

I'll let you know more about this "secret" training program in the next few days! Stay tuned!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Training Results - Testing!

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful." - 2 Timothy 4:7

I have completed testing of my 1RM in several key lifts that I used throughout my 12-week program. The front squat and bench press were performed under the supervision of a spotter (my training partner) but at no point did he touch the bar or assist in any way. These are all clean reps. Here are the results:

Monday, April 7, 2008

Front Squat: 205lbs (1.4x my bodyweight. My goal is 1.5x my bodyweight)

Bench Press: 215lbs (1.475x my bodyweight. My goal is 1.5x my bodyweight)

The front squat was performed through a full-range of motion all the way until my butt touched my ankles. This is how I perform all my squats. If you are going to "parallel" or above, you are cheating yourself. Go as deep as your flexibility allows.

I could have possibly hit 210lbs on the front squat, but I stopped at 205lbs as it was a tough lift. On the bench press, I attempted 220lbs, but my partner had to give me some assistance. I knew I could get 220lbs on my own, but during that particular lift, I could tell that I didn't set myself right on the bench and the train happened to be coming by and blaring it's horn right in the middle of my set (there are train tracks very close to my home).

My all-time best bench press has been 225lbs, and I've only hit that a couple times in my life (and always at a heavier weight). So if I can hit 215-220lbs at my current weight, I've actually improved and am stronger than I've ever been before.

My morning weight on Monday was 145.8lbs and my evening weight was 147.8lbs (Remember, I'm only 5'4", so don't harp on my weight or give me the "You need to bulk" speech. I'm not a bodybuilder and have no interest in "bulking" as some people recommend). I weighed myself completely naked after going to the bathroom upon waking and also naked in the evening prior to showering.

This means I have lost a few pounds in the last 12 weeks, as I started at about 150-151lbs. But I have become significantly stronger during that time.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Deadlift: 315lbs (2.16x bodyweight. My goal is at least 2x bodyweight which I have acheived)

Power Clean: 155lbs (1.06x bodyweight. My goal is at least 1x bodyweight which I have acheived)

Although I had deadlifted 305lbs for two reps last week, all I could manage during my testing day was 315lbs. I probably could have added 5-10lbs, but I didn't want to chance injury since I really had to grind that rep out to get it. I was also sore and tired on this day and didn't want to overdue it.

As for the power clean, 155lbs was no problem at all. So I moved up to 165lbs. I should have had it just as easily, as I pulled the weight as high as my collar bone, but I just couldn't force myself to get under the bar. This is the "fear" that a lift like the power clean (and the power snatch) tend to give someone. Due to the weight and the speed of the bar as well as having to get "under" the weight quickly, it tends to play a mind trick on the brain. I know I can get 165lbs, but I will need to make more attempts at it and get my mind set in order to do it. Overall, I'm happy with 155lbs as it's more than my bodyweight.

My morning weight was 145.6lbs. I forgot to weigh myself that evening, but I'm sure I was a pound or two heavier in the evening.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Overhead Press: 125lbs (.87x bodyweight. My goal is 1x bodyweight)

Weighted Chin-up: Bodyweight (145lbs) + 65lbs = 210lbs (1.45x bodyweight)

I should have been able to overhead press more than 125lbs as I did it for two reps last week. I struggled to get it for one rep on Friday and then went for 135lbs but was unable to get it past the sticking point a few inches off my collarbone. I even attempted to push press it, but still got stuck. After a few unsuccessful tries at 135lbs and one unsuccessful try at 130lbs, I called it quits. My shoulders were fried, and I had lost strength since the previous week.

Unlike the other workouts where I used straight sets of each exercise and finished testing one lift before moving to the next, I alternated sets between the overhead press and the chin-ups to save time and hopefully get a strength boost from training an agonist/antagonist movement. I'm not so sure it helped after the result of the overhead press.

As for the chin-ups, they went well. I kept increasing weight each set until I finally reached my top weighted set using a dip belt with an additional 65lbs attached. This amount plus my current bodyweight (~145lbs) gave me a total of 210lbs. I believe I could have used 70lbs, but that would have been the most as I had to squeeze out the rep with the 65lbs attached.

On Friday, I weighed in at 144.6lbs in the morning and 144.0lbs in the evening. So somehow, throughout the entire week, I actually lost weight. I attribute this to two things:

1) I wasn't working out as much as usual or doing near the amount of work as all previous weeks since this was a "back-off" week and testing week.

2) I wasn't eating as much because I wasn't training as much.

Overall, I came close to meeting my strength goals as mentioned in a previous blog, or I met them or exceeded them. The true test will be if I can continue to at least maintain my current strength or increase it as I embark on my next 12-week phase. Stay tuned for more about my new training phase!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

My Training Continued!

"So refuse to worry, and keep your body healthy...." - Ecclesiastes 11:10

I have been extremely busy this week with work and other commitments, so I haven't had a chance to finish updating my workouts this week.

I did test my front squat and bench press 1RM on Monday, and I tested my deadlift and power clean 1RM tonight. I decided to break up tonight's workout into two days, so I will test my overhead press and weighted chin-up strength tomorrow (Friday).

Once I finish tomorrow's workout, I will post all 1RM's for the week along with my daily bodyweight measures.

So far, I've either come close to meeting the strength standards I posted in an earlier blog, met those strength standards or exceeded them. Stay tuned....

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

My 12-Week Training Plan

"Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell." - Matthew 10:28

I recently finished a 12-week training plan that I developed myself using the knowledge I've gained in the last few years. In the past, I have followed programs written by other strength coaches. Some of them worked well and others didn't. But during that process, I learned more about my body and how it responded to certain training programs.

One problem I've noticed about many training programs is that they don't focus on all areas of strength, health and fitness. For example, there are plenty of training programs that are strictly designed to increase strength or build size. But they rarely, if ever, address other areas of strength (endurance, explosive strength, speed strength, relative strength, etc.), conditioning (cardio) or even overall health.

Many programs will plan an elaborate training program focused on weights but neglect conditioning. Some will even suggest not performing any sort of conditioning exercises while following the training plan.

So I decided to take the knowledge I have from all the books I've read and from my own experience and develop a 12-week plan that focused on raw strength, metabolic conditioning, strength endurance, explosive strength and overall conditioning. I achieved an increase in all of those things in the last 12 weeks - a feat that is not easy to accomplish.

Here's how my training program was organized:

Monday: Full-body Max Strength Training + Explosive Strength + Metabolic Conditioning Finisher (these workouts took about 1 hour from start to finish with a training partner)

Tuesday: General Physical Preparation (GPP) - This typically included a bike ride, some rope climbing and some other bodyweight exercises for fun and recovery from Monday's workout. Although I never performed many sets of the exercises (2-4), some of them were tough. Rope climbing is a strength workout in itself. These workouts varied in intensity depending on how sore or tired we were from Monday's training.

Wednesday: Metabolic Conditioning (I used a variety of short, but intense workouts that were different each week. I used ideas from Ross Enamait, Mountain Athlete and others). These workouts typically took less than 30 minutes and most were 15-20 minutes.

Thursday: Full-body Max Strength Training + Explosive Strength + Metabolic Conditioning Finisher (these workouts took about 1 hour from start to finish with a training partner)

Friday: Bodyweight Training for strength endurance and conditioning (I used Craig Ballantyne's Bodyweight 100-500 for these workouts. CLICK HERE to learn more about Craig Ballantyne and Turbulence Training). They ranged in length from 6 minutes to 43 minutes depending on how many exercises and reps I had to complete during each workout.

Saturday: Interval Training (Metabolic Conditioning). This included various sprint workouts ranging from 800m intervals down to 20-30 yard sprints.

Sunday: REST

Overall, this plan worked very well. I increased my strength in all the core exercises, I became leaner and much more fit, and I became more explosive with my box jumps and explosive exercises like power cleans.

I'm currently testing my 1 repetition maximum (1RM) in all the core lifts that I trained during the 12-week program. The main lifts used throughout the program on my full-body training days included:

Front Squats
Bench Presses
Barbell Rows
Overhead Presses
Weighted Chins
Power Cleans

I will be testing my max strength in all of the lifts above (except for the barbell rows - no sense in training for a 1RM in that particuar lift due to the potential for injury). I will report back on my totals by the end of the week.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Everything Works...

"Everything works. Nothing works forever."
- Charles Staley

Charles Staley is a strength and conditioning coach in Arizona. He trains everyday people who want to lose weight, get in shape or gain muscle as well as elite athletes ranging from professional and Olympic sports to martial artists and strongman competitors.

The quote above is one that Charles mentioned several years ago when someone asked him about a certain training program and if that person should use it. Charles mentioned that any program will work if you put in the effort but it won't continue to work after a certain period of time (once the body adapts to the stimulus).

You may have heard the term: periodization. This is simply a way to plan your training to make consistent progress throughout the year. There are several methods of periodization that are commonly used which I will address in a future blog. The main goal of periodization is to incorporate a planned method of progression in your training program.

There are a plethora of training programs available online and from a variety of books. And all of them work, but none of them work forever. This means that you cannot stay on the same training program forever. For most people, some sort of change (progression) is needed at a minimum of every 8-12 weeks (for beginners) and preferably every 3-4 weeks.

Most training programs are goal specific. They are designed to help you lose fat or gain muscle in a specific period of time. For the most part, once you finish the program, you cannot continue to stay on the program and reap the benefits if you go beyond what is recommended. This is why some people make incredible progress following the Body for Life plan for 12 weeks only to quickly stagnate if they don't make changes once the 12-week training period is over.

Let's say that your goal is fat loss. Then you should attack that goal with a plan specifically made to accomplish that task. It could be a periodized 12-16 week program (or possibly longer or shorter). However, once you reach the end of the program, it's best to make changes so your body will have to adapt once again. Now, if you have a lot of fat to lose and it cannot be done in 8-16 weeks, you can continue to follow a fat loss plan, however, you must incorporate some sort of progression method so the body won't continue to adapt.

The body is highly adaptive. In some cases, it only takes a few days for it to adapt to a particular training program. If your training program is well planned, it will take longer for it to adapt, thus enabling you to continue making progress.

If your training program doesn't incorporate a planned progression of change every 3-4 weeks, then you may want to re-evaluate what you are doing. A good training program will make changes every 3-4 weeks by changing exercises or hand positions, manipulating sets, reps or rest, or through total workout volume and other factors.

Also, don't forget to focus on training programs that focus on movement patterns rather than body parts. Ideally, you want to train using full-body workouts or upper body/lower body splits. This way, you can train more frequently. Research has shown that training more frequently is better than training with a high volume of work less frequently. This means that "body part" training and "bodybulding split plans" are less effective because they typically have you training each body part once a week with a high volume of sets and reps.

With full-body or upper body/lower body split plans, you can train the same muscles 2-4 times per week thus increasing strength and mass much quicker while using a lower volume of work.

The training plan you're following now may work for a while, but once you begin to notice no further increases in strength, fat loss, fitness levels or muscle gain, then it will be time to change to something different.

At Christian Athlete Fitness Training, we utilize training programs that incorporate changes every 3-4 weeks (and sometimes weekly) in order to make progress. This is done through a variety of methods including manipulation of sets, reps, rest periods, exercises and total volume in order to make consistent progress. We use programs that focus on full-body or upper body/lower body splits to train the muscles more frequently thus giving us more strength and muscle (as well as fat loss when using fat-loss specific training methods).

Friday, April 4, 2008

Do You Need Supplements?

"So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your strength comes from God’s grace, not from rules about food, which don’t help those who follow them." - Hebrews 13:9

During yesterday's workout, my training partner (Dennis) asked if I discussed nutritional supplements on my blog yet.

I said, "No, there's not really much to say about it."

He replied, "Exactly!" Referring to the fact that many people over-rely on a variety of supplements in order to help meet their goals.

Do you need supplements? No. Not at all. You can get everything you truly need through whole food and a good training program. Can nutritional supplements be useful? Yes. They offer convenience to meal planning and additional nutrients when they are needed quickly and easily.

However, when it comes to nutritional supplementation, I believe that less is more. A nutritional supplement should be just that - a supplement to what you are already doing. It should not take the place of more important things such as eating whole food to meet your daily protein, fat, carbohydrate and nutrient needs or simple and consistent hard training.

Your nutrition, exercise, sleep and lifestyle choices are far more important than the addition of nutritional supplements. Once you are eating correctly, exercising regularly, getting plenty of rest and living a balanced lifestyle, then using some nutritional supplements can come in handy.

As for what I recommend, here's my brief list:

1) Multi-vitamin
2) Fish oil caps
3) Protein Powder (low-carb)
4) Post-workout drink

5) Vegetable/Fruit supplement (typically known as a "Greens" product)
6) Creatine

Let's go over each one in further detail along with some recommendations.

1) Multi-vitamin - Although I feel that we are already "over-vitamined" due to the amount of food products sold with extra vitamins added, a multi-vitamin is like insurance. It helps make sure that you get the daily requirement of vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function properly.

As for brands, I think one of the best brands is Nutrilite's Double X multi-vitamin. There are also other high-quality brands on the market, so do some research before you buy.

2) Fish Oil Caps - There have been numerous studies about the benefits of adding fish oil supplementation to your diet. Fish oil supplementation has been shown to increase metabolism (for some, it can help burn an additional 500 calories per day), promote a healthy heart and cardiovascular system, burn fat, improve hair and skin and much, much more! Do a quick Google search on fish oil, and you'll find plenty of studies about the benefits of this wonderful supplement.

I believe the highest quality brand available is Flame-Out by Biotest. It's not cheap, but it is the best. Otherwise, you can always go to Sam's Club or Costco and pick up the Member's Mark brand of fish oil caps.

3) Protein Powder (low-carb) - We already know that protein has a higher thermic effect in the body, thus helping us keep our metabolism high and burn more calories. We also know that protein is needed in order to build muscle, and we must build muscle in order to elevate our metabolism so it will burn fat and help us stay lean.

Protein supplementation is also a quick and easy way to get additional protein in the body at ideal times or for a quick and tasty snack. I have tried many different types of protein powders both in brands and in types (whey only, whey and casein mix, etc.). Although whey protein is great because it digests quickly (which makes it ideal as part of a breakfast meal or post-workout), I prefer to use a whey and casein mix. This way, you get the best of both worlds. A quick-digesting protein and a slow-digesting protein to help keep blood sugar levels stable and to also keep a steady stream of amino acids going to the muscles while keeping you fuller longer.

As for brands, I highly recommend Metabolic Drive Low-Carb by Biotest. It is one of the best tasting and highest-quality protein powders I have used.

4) Post-workout Drink - Studies have shown that protein and carbohydrates taken immediately after your workout help facilitate recovery, burn fat and build muscle. A simple post-workout drink could be a glass of chocolate milk. Studies have shown that chocolate milk works nearly as well as some of the designer post-workout drinks on the market. My only hesitation with chocolate milk is that most of the brands contain high fructose corn syrup. So, if you are going to use chocolate milk, it may be best to use low-fat or no-fat milk and mix it with a good chocolate mix that doesn't contain HFCS.

Post-workout is the one time of the day where simple sugars are recommended. The reason is because they help refill your glycogen levels after they've been depleted from your training. We want to fill them right away to promote recovery and give the body energy for the next session. Protein is crucial to the post-workout drink because it helps promote muscle growth. If you don't want to use chocolate milk for a post-workout drink, feel free to eat a meal that contains simple sugars from fruit or fruit juices along with some protein (milk, protein powder, etc.).

As for designer post-workout drinks, I highly recommend and use Surge by Biotest. I have tried other products on the market, but Surge is the one product that I can tell the difference when I take it. It has a huge effect on my recovery abilities. And because it's available in a few different flavors (I prefer original and chocolate), you can always mix up the flavors throughout the week.

If you are using the four supplements mentioned above and following a good exercise plan and well-structured nutritional plan, then you will have everything you need. However, if you want to use more than those supplements listed above, I would recommend the following:

5) Vegetable/Fruit Supplement ("Greens" product) - Few people eat enough fruit and vegetables throughout the day. It's hard to eat five or more servings on a consistent basis each day. Fruits and vegetables contain numerous vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals. Our bodies need these nutrients, and we should aim to eat more fruits and vegetables. Since it is sometimes hard to do so, supplementation can come in handy to help boost the amount we eat each day.

I have tried some of the "Greens" products available and found them hard to stomach due to the foul taste and smell. I did use a capsule form in the past that was MUCH better than mixing up a drink that looked like something out of a swamp. However, there is something newer and better available. If you have problems eating at least five servings of fruits and veggies each day, you may want to supplement with Superfood by Biotest. Not only does it taste better than most of the other products available but the quality is top knotch!

6) Creatine - Just like fish oil supplementation, creatine has been studied for more than 20 years and has been found to have a variety of benefits. Do a search on Google for more information regarding creatine and its benefits.

For brands, there are many good ones on the market. Just be sure that you only purchase a pure micronized creatine monohydrate product. Some of the others are filled with added sugar and other things that are a waste of money. And some creatine products contain different "esthers" that are not good for you. A good creatine product that is fairly inexpensive is Biotest's Micronized German Creatine.

There are many more nutritional supplements available including Testosterone boosters, anabolic enhancers, fat burners, etc. For the most part, these supplements are purely over-hyped marketing gimmicks that will leave your wallet empty with no additional muscle gain or fat loss.

If you follow my recommendations above, you will have everything you could possibly need provided your nutrition and training are on track.

Don't follow in my footsteps. When I was 18-20 (and even again in my mid-20's), I fell for many of the marketing gimmicks that promised muscle size and more! I used products like HMB, various Andro supplements and other Testosterone boosters and "anabolic" muscle stimulators. In the end, I had wasted my money and not gained an ounce of muscle or lost any more fat.

The only way to accomplish your fat loss and hypertrophy goals are through a sound nutrition program, plenty of hard work, consistency, desire, dedication, discipline and time. Remember, it's simple. But not easy.

NOTE: Although I have recommended many products by Biotest, I am in no way affiliated with the company. These are products I have used for many years and have found to be the highest-quality and best tasting at moderate prices. Like I said earlier, I have used many different brands, but these are the ones I currently use and recommend. I can give other recommendations on different brands that will be similar in quality - but they may not be the best tasting or best priced.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Always Eat Breakfast!

Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you have just caught." Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore... Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast...." - John 21:10-12

I'm sure you've heard the saying, "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day." I have been saying this for years, and research backs this up. The term "break fast" means to "break the fast."

While we sleep, our body is fasting, and it's important to eat something upon waking in order to refill our glycogen levels and provide much-needed nutrients and protein to prevent muscle breakdown and give us energy. If you are trying to lose fat, gain muscle or get in shape, then eating breakfast each day will be one of the keys to your success.

What is a good breakfast? For those of you who don't eat anything now, then anything you eat is an improvement. Even if it's not the healthiest choice available. Do I want you to eat leftover pizza for breakfast? Not really. But if it means eating nothing or eating pizza, I'd rather you eat the pizza. Does this mean you should eat donuts, bagels, sweetened cereals and other junk for breakfast each day? Of course not! Especially if you are trying to lose fat, get in shape or gain muscle.

I recommend eggs for breakfast. They are "the world's most perfect food." Eggs contain healthy fats, high-quality protein and valuable vitamins. Don't worry about the cholesterol (it has very little affect on cholesterol levels in the body), and try to eat them scrambled, boiled, poached or as an omlette. Mix in some veggies, cheese and/or meat, and you have a perfect meal. Eat a piece of fruit or a whole-grain piece of toast with some butter, and you will be well on your way to meeting your goals.

What do I eat each day? Eggs. Typically, I eat three extra large eggs scrambled up with a variety of things. Some days I have eggs with cheese. Other times I scramble them up with a variety of vegetables. Some days I add leftover meat (chicken, steak, sausage, beef).

The point is that I eat eggs nearly every single day and have found a variety of ways to prepare them so I don't get sick of eating them (and no, they have not affected my cholesterol in any negative way).

What are some other good ideas for breakfast? Try the following:

1) One cup of cottage cheese and some pineapple, peaches or other fruit
2) A protein shake and some fruit
3) Real oatmeal with some blueberries or other fruit (optional: add protein powder to your oatmeal)
4) A high-fiber, low-sugar cereal like Fiber One (I don't recommend cereal as most are loaded with sugar and carbs, but some cereal can be okay if you measure out a serving size)
5) Leftovers from dinner or another meal (Yes, you can eat "dinner" for breakfast. A lean meat and veggies is a perfect meal anytime!).

If you're not already eating breakfast, start eating something each day. Small steps add up to be large steps over time. Work on making healthy choices, and everything will fall into place.

Remember, just as it is crucial to start your day with Christ and fuel yourself sprititually, it is important to fuel yourself physically. If you plan ahead and make the right food choices, breakfast will help energize you for optimal health and optimal performance!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Obesity Trends

"...Eat only what you need, That you not have it in excess and vomit it." - Proverbs 25:16

In the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States. This map shows the obesity rates of the 50 states as of 2006.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 40% of the U.S. population is obese and that number is climbing.

Although there is a wealth of information available on how to overcome obesity, it seems as though very little is actually being done to reverse the current trend. People are still eating too much food or eating the wrong foods. Despite the changes in the fast food industry to eliminate trans fats and offer "healthier" versions of their food, many people still eat too much, buy the "Super Size" meal due to its perceived value or don't know how to make the right choices. And for many people, they are confused by the resources available to them and never actually learn how to eat right and exercise properly.

In addition, our society has grown more acceptable of obesity and is moving toward a "politically correct" way of treating people who are "larger" than others. For example, after visiting Universal Studios - Islands of Adventure this past weekend, I was surprised to see that some of the rides have been changed to accommodate obese individuals. As I stood in line to ride the Incredible Hulk Coaster, I noticed a sign that said, "Rows 3 and 6 have been increased to accommodate certain body dimensions."

It doesn't stop there. I saw numerous adults riding around in those motorized scooters. They were clearly obese, and they were everywhere! It seems like more and more adults are relying on these motorized scooters as a form of locomotion rather than walking. In addition, as I spent nearly 12 hours walking, running, playing and riding the rides, I saw very few fit and healthy people! Most were overweight, obese or "skinny fat."

Not all of the rides have been changed to accommodate obese individuals, but some can hold larger people due to their overall design. As we came to the end of our flume ride on Dudley Do-Rights Rip Saw Falls, we were held up for a while because an obese woman ahead of us was unable to get out of the flume log. She was stuck and needed the assistance of her family to help pull her up and out. And as soon as she was done, she hopped on her motorized scooter and sped off to the next ride.

I don't want to judge anyone, but just thinking about how obesity affects the overall health and happiness of an individual along with how they function in daily life is a concern. It amazes me that many people can let themselves get to that point in their life and how difficult it must be to live like that. Not only that, but obesity is costing our nation millions of dollars in healthcare costs. Obesity affects all of us.

I understand that many obese people have dieted before. Many have tried exercise. Some blame it on genetics. Others are naturally "big boned." Some have hormonal issues or other imbalances in the body. But the bottom line is that with proper nutrition and exercise, no one should be obese.

Will everyone look like the models or bodybuilders we see on TV or in print ads? No, of course not! But can everyone be at a healthy weight, be fit and live a life without all the problems associated with obesity? YES!

Is it simple? Yes. Is it easy? No. Does it require hard work? Yes. Will it take time? Yes. For some it could take years. But wouldn't it be worth the hard work and time in order to be healthy, happy and live life the way God meant for all of us? Most definitely.

I hope to be able to use my passion for health and fitness to help those who are overweight or obese. I want to be able to help people who struggle with their weight to finally get to a point where they are healthy, happy and spiritually fit so they can enjoy their time spent in this world and with those whom they love and love them.

We must do something about the obesity epidemic in this country. It has now become a huge issue for children. It has to change. One step at a time.

Did you know?

• 71% of men are overweight.

• 62% of women are overweight.

• 33% are considered obese.

• 18% of our youth are overweight or obese (up 70% since 1988).

• Obesity and related health problems cost $117 billion each year.

• Poor employee nutrition costs $1,474 per year per employee.

• Excess weight lowers gas mileage. Americans spend more than $2.2 billion in gas because of additional weight.