Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Nutritional Tips, Power Foods, Breakfast and Grocery Shopping Tips!

"Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding."
- Proverbs 2:2

Today's post is a link to other blogs I've written in the past year that give helpful tips on nutrition, power foods, breakfast and grocery shopping.

As I've looked back at previous blogs, I've realized that I have quite a few very good blogs with useful information. However, not having them all in one place isn't always convenient for someone looking for quick information. That's why I've put them all here for you to read, take notes and put into action.

Nutritional Tips

Nutrition Tips To Get Things Started

Lean For Life

Six Habits For A Six-Pack

Low-Carb And Mediterranean Diets Are Both Winners

Back-to-School Health Habits

Power Foods

Power Foods

Power Foods Part 2

Stay Healthy Super Foods

Five Ways To Boost Your Fiber Intake

Got Milk (And Other Dairy Products)?

Four More Foods For Fat Loss


Always Eat Breakfast

Eat Your Eggs (The Whole Egg!)

Benefits of Breakfast

Breakfast Ideas To Start Off The Day

Grocery Shopping Tips

Tips To Improve Grocery Shopping

Save Money On Groceries

There you go! These blog posts will give you the information you need to begin making changes in your life one step at a time and have an easy resource guide to come back to as needed.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Four Foods for More Fat Loss!

"Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food." - Isaiah 55:2

This is an article originally written by Mike Roussell, Ph.D. I wanted to post it as today's blog since it gives some good information on what foods to eat for fat loss. You'll see that many of the points he makes goes along with previous blogs I've written about power foods.

What foods should I eat for maximum fat loss? This is a common question that I get from clients and friends. There is so much new information out there everyday, "X food is now good for you but Y food is now bad."

How can you possibly sort through all the junk science and sensational reporting to truly find out which foods will help you lose weight and which foods won't?

Let me help. Here's a look at foods that you should eat to maximize fat loss. These foods are listed in no particular order because they are all important.
  1. Salmon - While salmon was once demonized by the fitness community in the 90's because of its fat content (I actually saw it in an article about "Foods to Avoid for Fat Loss"), we now know that the long-chain omega-3 fats found in salmon are the best kind. Research has shown that these fats can actually help you burn more fat. Salmon also contains high levels of protein - it really is the perfect package! Look for wild Salmon (not farmed).
  2. Almonds - Almonds are a great fat loss snack. Almonds are extremely convenient, portable and they have a long shelf life. You should keep a small bag of almonds at your desk, in your briefcase, or in your backpack as an emergency weight loss snack. Almonds contain fat, fiber and protein - all of which will help curb your hunger. They are also low in carbohydrates and provide your body with energy while keeping your blood sugar levels under control. Buy them raw not roasted, dry roasted or salted (usually in the baking aisle at the grocery store).
  3. Broccoli - Broccoli is a true superfood. From a health perspective, it contains antioxidants and phytochemicals that have been shown to help fight cancer. There is also some evidence to suggest that other compounds found in broccoli (like Calcium D-glucarate) can bind excess estrogen in the body. It is a low-impact carb with a nice dose of fiber. You can buy it fresh or frozen (broccoli cuts or florets - go with the florets). The bottom line: Eat broccoli often!
  4. Green Tea - Green tea is another powerful food, like broccoli, that will have a huge impact on your fat loss and health. Green tea can be an acquired taste for some people. If you let it steep too long (e.g. leave the tea bag in the water), it can be very bitter. You can drink it hot or cold (if you opt for cold you may need to add a little Splenda, Stevia or Xylitol). Green tea contains cancer-fighting compounds, not to mention antioxidants, caffeine and the fat-burning powerhouse - EGCG. Research has shown that the combination of caffeine and EGCG (which is naturally combined in green tea) can help burn extra fat. Drink 2-3 cups a day.
There you have it. Four time-tested and research-proven foods to help you burn more fat. If you aren't eating (or drinking) all of these foods daily (or at least every few days), then you are not doing everything possible to burn maximum fat. Add them to your diet, get healthier and leaner.

About the Author/More Info
Warp Speed Fat Loss is a complete 28-day diet and training system crafted to help you lose 10, 15 or 20lbs of body fat in just 28 days. To start losing weight fast visit Warp Speed Fat Loss.

Mike Roussell is a nutrition doctoral student at the Pennsylvania State University. Mike's writings can be found in magazines such as Men's Health, Men's Fitness and Testosterone Nation. Mike specializes in fat loss nutrition and diets for busy men and women who need to lose weight fast without it interfering with their lives. Warp Speed Fat Loss is a complete Done-for-You A-Z Fat Loss Blueprint that gives you exactly everything you need to eat to lose weight in record time.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Fat Loss Basics!

"Commit yourself to instruction; listen carefully to words of knowledge." - Proverbs 23:12

This is an article originally written by Alwyn Cosgrove. I wanted to post it as today's blog since it gives good information on how to lose fat. You'll see that many of the points he makes go along with previous blogs I've written about effective ways to lose fat through a proper diet (lower carb) and exercise (higher intensity).

How do we actually lose fat? What do we mean by fat "burning?" Here's a very simple explanation of what actually goes on to create a fat-loss effect.

The key concept that trainers and physiologists have shoved down our throat for years is that it's all about calories in vs. calories out. This is true – for weight loss – but it's not the whole truth for fat loss. There are a number of protective mechanisms that the body has in place – called rate-limiting steps – to prevent fat from being lost or burned.

On a very basic level, Fat "burning" is essentially a two-step process.

The first step is mobilization.

How do we actually get fat out of the fat cells so that we can subsequently use it as a fuel source? Fat mobilization is governed essentially by levels of a hormone known as hormone-sensitive lipase or HSL (you can forget the name as there won't be a test). It's an oversimplification but basically the higher the HSL levels, the higher the fat mobilization.

How do we get higher HSL? Increase catecholamine levels (specifically adrenaline). How do we do that? Exercise. Particularly, high-intensity exercise.

But HSL is also limited by insulin.

High insulin levels = Low HSL levels = Low fat mobilization.

A great strategy for part one is low insulin levels (from diet and training), plus high catecholamines (through intense training).

Part two of the process is transport and oxidation.

If HSL levels are high, fat cells break down into free fatty acids (FFA) which circulate in the blood and eventually end up in a muscle (which needs energy) where they can be burned off in the mitochondria (this is the "powerhouse" of the cell that your high school biology teacher kept going on about).

But there's another rate-limiting step here: Transporting the FFA into the mitochondria where it can be burned off. That transport is controlled by carnitine levels.

If carnitine levels are high, fat transport is high. Think of carnitine like passport control officials.

If you get off a plane with 500 other passengers and there is one official at passport control, it'll take a long time to get through. If there are 500 officials, then you go through quickly and can leave the airport (leaving the airport is the equivalent of fat being burned off). The more officials (carnitine), the easier the process.

How do we ramp up carnitine levels? Well, again, we have a rate-limiting step. If muscle glycogen is high, then carnitine levels are low.

If we reduce muscle glycogen through metabolic work, we have the optimal fat-oxidation state. Therefore, high-intensity glycogen depleting exercise is the tool of choice here.

High levels of fat mobilization + High levels of fat oxidation = Accelerated fat loss.

If you figure out how to integrate all those steps, and circumvent each rate-limiting step, you’ll find that fat loss is simple.

So how do you put all of those steps into effect so that fat loss becomes simple? One way is to follow a proper training and nutrition program like Warp Speed Fat Loss.

About the Author/More Info
Warp Speed Fat Loss is a complete 28-day diet and training system crafted to help you lose 10, 15 or 20lbs of body fat in just 28 days. To start losing weight fast visit Warp Speed Fat Loss.

Alwyn Cosgrove, M.S., C.S.C.S., is a nationally-renown fat loss expert whose work has appeared in magazines such as Men's Health, Men's Fitness, Muscle & Fitness, Maximum Fitness, Men's Journal, Self, Oxygen, Muscle & Fitness HERS and Testosterone Nation. His Warp Speed Fat Loss system is a complete Done-for-You A-Z Fat Loss Blueprint that gives you exactly everything you need to eat and exactly what to do for exercise to lose weight in record time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Combining Interval Training with Steady-State Aerobic Exercise for Fat Loss!

"But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." - Isaiah 40:31

In previous blogs, I've spoken about the effectiveness of interval training for fat loss. For a summary, check out these blogs:

Nutrition Tips, Aerobic Exercise and High Intensity Interval Training

More on Interval Training for Fat Loss

Tabata Interval Training

Burn Fat and Increase Metabolism with Resistance and Interval Training

How to Perform Interval Training

Metabolic Acceleration Training - A Better Way!

Warp Speed Fat Loss (combines interval training and metabolic strength training)

It's been proven that interval training works - and works well - for fat loss. However, there are many people who still enjoy steady-state aerobic exercise such as walking, jogging, swimming and bicycling. Although steady-state aerobic exercise is on the lower end of effectiveness in the hierarchy of fat loss, it can still be used for cardiovascular benefits and fat loss if you have more time to train.

Another effective way to get the fat loss you desire is to combine interval training with steady-state aerobic exercise. Alwyn Cosgrove has used this with many of his clients and in some of his training programs including those listed in his book The New Rules of Lifting for Women and Warp Speed Fat Loss.

The best way to combine the two methods is as follows:
  • Perform a five-minute warmup (bodyweight circuit, fast walk, jump rope, light jog, bike, etc.)
  • Perform interval training (9-20 minutes total depending on the intervals chosen)
  • Stop and rest for five minutes (this gives the body time to release the triglycerides into the bloodstream so you can burn them off with steady-state aerobic exercise)
  • Perform 20-30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise (fast walk, light jog, bicycling or perform on various aerobic exercise equipment - treadmill, stationary bike, stair stepper, rower, elliptical, etc.)
Using this combination of interval training and steady-state aerobic exercise seems to be the most effective way to accomplish your fat loss goals while also increasing your conditioning and fitness levels.

I would recommend using this method 2-3 times each week depending on your training experience in addition to 2-3 days per week of resistance training (see this blog on how to set up an effective metabolic resistance training program). Depending on how much time you have available to train, you could set it up like this:

Monday - Full-body Metabolic Resistance Training (30-60 minutes total time)
Tuesday - Intervals + Steady-State Aerobic Exercise (30-50 minutes total time)
Wednesday - Off or light activity, walk the dog, play with the kids
Thursday - Full-body Metabolic Resistance Training (30-60 minutes total time)
Friday - Intervals + Steady-State Aerobic Exercise (30-50 minutes total time)
Saturday and Sunday - Off or light activity, walk the dog, play with the kids

The above schedule requires four days and approximately 2-4 hours of exercise per week. That is not a huge time commitment and it also gets you very close to the five hours per week that is recommended by most fitness experts.

If four days per week is not possible, you can adjust the schedule so that you perform your interval training and steady-state aerobic exercise after your metabolic resistance training workouts. You could set it up for two days per week like this:

Monday - Full-body Metabolic Resistance Training (30-60 minutes total time) and Intervals + Steady-State Aerobic Exercise (30-50 minutes total time)

Thursday - Full-body Metabolic Resistance Training (30-60 minutes total time) and Intervals + Steady-State Aerobic Exercise (30-50 minutes total time)

The only negative to the above schedule is that you will need to devote approximately 1-2 hours each training session - and it can be hard to accomplish that much work in one session unless you are already well conditioned.

Or you could divide it up over three days per week like this:

Monday - Full-body Metabolic Resistance Training (30-60 minutes total time) and Intervals + Steady-State Aerobic Exercise (30-50 minutes total time)

Wednesday - Full-body Metabolic Resistance Training (30-60 minutes total time)

Friday - Full-body Metabolic Resistance Training (30-60 minutes total time) and Intervals + Steady-State Aerobic Exercise (30-50 minutes total time)

There are other ways to adjust the schedule to fit your time constraints and availability. But you must make the time (turn off the TV, get off the computer, play less video games, eliminate time-wasting activities) and put in the effort and consistency to reap the benefits. And, of course, your nutrition program needs to complement your training to get the best results.

If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below. I can always give you suggestions and sample programs to follow to help accomplish your fat loss goals no matter what your training experience may be or what equipment you have available.

Monday, February 16, 2009

How to Lose Weight (FAT)!

"Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live!" - Isaiah 38:16

This is an article originally written by Mike Roussell, Ph.D. I wanted to post it as today's blog since it gives some good information on how to lose weight (fat) the right way. You'll see that many of the points he makes goes along with previous blogs I've written.

There are many different ways to lose weight (by "weight" we are referring to fat loss) – some ways are very good and some ways are very bad. In this article, we will look at four wrong ways to go about losing fat and then six effective fat loss strategies that you can use to increase not only your fat loss but the rate in which you lose weight.

First, let’s look at the wrong ways to go about losing weight:
  1. Focus on Creating an Energy Deficit by Reducing Calories - You need to create an energy deficit - but reducing calories leads to the slowing of your metabolism. It is important to focus on increasing energy expenditure AND reducing calories (slightly).
  2. Removal of Dietary Fat - Despite all the advances in science, many people still believe that absolute reduction of dietary fat is the key to losing body fat. This is not the case. You need fat in the diet for a variety of functions, including losing weight!
  3. Relying on Weight Loss "Gimmicks" - Eating Cabbage or Grapefruit at every meal to lose body fat isn’t smart. These "diets" rely on absolute caloric restriction to elicit temporary fat loss - not some special characteristic of the "gimmick food."
  4. Believing some Chinese Tea will make You Thin - These web sites are ALL OVER THE PLACE. People don’t make thousands of web sites selling a product unless people are buying the product. There is no magic tea from China that will help you lose weight. Green Tea can help (but you need to drink A LOT). Ignore the celebrity "endorsements" and skip the magic tea.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s look at six strategies that you can use to start losing weight right now. No fluff. This is what you need to do.

  1. Limit Your Intake of Rice, Sugary Drinks, Potatoes, Bread, etc. Until after Your Workout. This takes advantage of a biochemical window in which your body is put in a state to better process these types of foods instead of having them lay the foundation for another layer of body fat.
  2. Increase Your Intake of Green Leafy Vegetables (preferably at every meal). Green leafy vegetables have a "volume advantage," meaning that you get to eat lots of them without eating a lot of calories. This is a huge benefit when dieting as it will help curb your hunger.
  3. Eat 5-6 Times Each and Every Day. Eating more often is a required habit if you want to lose a lot of weight. It will allow for better control over blood sugar levels, a constant flow of nutrients to your body throughout the day and it will help curb hunger cravings because you will constantly be eating.
  4. Eat More Protein (every meal). Protein is your ace in the hole. It takes more energy to digest than other nutrients, supports the maintenance and protection of your lean body mass and is a good replacement for carbohydrates as it is not a large stimulator of insulin - which you need to control when dieting.
  5. Participate in Metabolically Demanding Strength Training and Interval Training 3-5 Times a Week. Metabolic resistance training, categorized by short rest periods and sets of 8-12 reps, will help you melt off the fat. Don’t be afraid to lift heavy weights just because you are dieting. Interval training (short periods of intense exercise followed by short periods of rest) has been found to be very effective for fat loss over steady-state cardiovascular exercise.
  6. Rinse and Repeat. Okay don’t "rinse," but repeat these steps everyday and watch your pants fall off your waist.
There you have it – Four ways to completely sabotage your fat loss and six strategies to burn maximum fat. Now listen to step 6 and put them into action!

About the Author/More Info
Warp Speed Fat Loss is a complete 28-day diet and training system crafted to help you lose 10, 15, or 20lbs of body fat in just 28 days. To start losing weight fast visit Warp Speed Fat Loss.

Mike Roussell is a nutrition doctoral student at Pennsylvania State University. Mike's writings can be found in magazines such as Men's Health, Men's Fitness and Testosterone Nation. Mike specializes in fat loss nutrition and diets for busy men and women who need to lose weight fast without it interfering with their lives. Warp Speed Fat Loss is a complete Done-for-You A-Z Fat Loss Blueprint that gives you exactly everything you need to eat to lose weight in record time.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Truth About Wii Fit and Weight Loss!

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

The Wii Fit has gained popularity in the past year with the hope that it may help people lose weight. The fitness gaming system might be able to keep players in shape as it offers many types of activities - from running to pushups to yoga - but not if they don't play it.

Although more than 1.5 million homes have a Wii Fit, it has become little more than an exercise fad that will most likely come and go (just like all the fitness gadgets and gizmos they sell on late-night television).

According to this article, few people use it consistently for more than a month.

"I don't know a single person who has bought the game who uses it routinely after a month," said Brian Crecente, managing editor of the popular gaming blog Kotaku. He also stressed that getting results from the game requires dedication and real physical exertion.

Although the Wii Fit is a great marketing tool and a clever way to appeal to gamers that may not exercise, it takes more than a game to change people's habits. It takes hard work. And although the Wii Fit may be fun at first, the novelty eventually wears off and the hard work no longer seems fun.

I, personally, may not believe that the Wii Fit will make much of a difference in weight loss or getting people into shape. But it's better than no exercise at all if used consistently with a high level of effort.

If you're going to use the Wii Fit - great! It would be great to see if it makes a difference in our nation's obesity epidemic. Time will tell if it fades away like other fitness fads or if it actually makes a positive impact (as mentioned in the article about the study that will be released later this year).

Whether you decide to use the Wii Fit or another type of sport or activity for exercise, be sure to at least include 2-3 days of resistance training each week to help build muscle, strength and increase your metabolism.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, strength is very important for increased conditioning and a higher quality of life - especially as you age. I'm not sure of all the Wii Fit's capabilities, but it may not have as many resistance training options that you could get with dumbbells, barbells, odd objects or bodyweight exercises.

Just don't forget that making better choices nutritionally will be the key to your success (along with a strong support system and hard training).

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Warp Speed Fat Loss - Lose 10lbs in 28 Days or Get $20 Back!

"Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit." - 3 John 1:2

I’ve never seen anything like this before! Nutritionist Mike Roussell and Men’s Health Fat Loss Expert Alwyn Cosgrove have put their money where their mouth is…LITERALLY.

You’ve probably heard of the rapid weight loss program - Warp Speed Fat Loss - as I used it last year with good results. Warp Speed Fat Loss is a 28-Day blueprint for people that want to lose up to 20lbs in 28 days. It works like gang busters.

The story goes like this:

Mike was talking to his Dad the other week and his father didn’t think that people would believe that it was possible - being able to lose up to 20lbs in 28 days. Especially with all the exotic berry and weight loss scams all over the internet.

So Mike decided he needed to figure out a way to help overcome the seed of doubt in people’s minds (because the program really does work).

Do you know what he came up with?

A 120% Money Back Guarantee. The guarantee is that if you use Warp Speed Fat Loss while charting your progress in the Faster Fat Loss Zone (Mike Roussell's fat loss membership site - you'll get a free 45-day membership when you purchase Warp Speed Fat Loss) and you don't lose at least 10lbs, they'll refund your order completely plus send you $20 via PayPal.

Warp Speed Fat Loss

That’s right. If you don’t lose the weight, Mike and Alwyn are going to give you your money back AND send you $20 for your trouble.

Find out all the details here:

Warp Speed Fat Loss

P.S. Just in case a bunch of dishonest people take Mike and Alwyn up on this so they can get $20, Mike and Alwyn have limited the offer to the first 100 people.

Go Here Now So You Don’t Miss Out - Warp Speed Fat Loss!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Got Milk (and other Dairy Products)?

"If you obey, you will enjoy a long life in the land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors and to you, their descendants—a land flowing with milk and honey!" Deuteronomy 11:9

In a previous blog, I mentioned that I, personally, am not a big fan of milk. I rarely drink milk, but I sometimes use it as a base for some of my protein shakes and to eat with Musli (an organic German cereal that I get at the health food store). However, I have recommended milk to others for various reasons as seen in this blog to get extra protein in the diet or as a mid-day snack.

When it comes to milk and other dairy products (cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese), I would encourage you to shop for raw products (or at the very least - organic). I also don't recommend fat-free versions of dairy products for two reasons:
  1. All fats are not bad for you. Your body needs some saturated fats along with healthy fats.
  2. Fat is crucial for the absorption of the vitamins and nutrients in dairy products (and other foods, including vegetables).

For example, Vitamins A and D are fat-soluable vitamins. Since dairy products contain Vitamin D, you want fat in order to properly utilize Vitamin D in the body. Most people elect for fat-free products that have been fortified with Vitamins A and D, and they don't realize that it's useless without the fat.

Also, I am against commercial store-bought milk as found in most grocery stores. I highly recommend that if you are going to drink milk, you should only drink raw milk. Store-bought milk is pasteurized (which kills the enzymes in the milk) and homogenized (changing the fat content) and is worthless.

Check out this video about milk by Dr. Jonny Bowden. Also, read this article by Dr. Mercola and this article originally published in 1938 in Magazine Digest.

I've been using raw milk for months (although I did drink it when I was younger and got it straight from the cow). Prior to finding a few places that sold raw milk in my area, I bought organic milk. That's better than most store-bought milk, but it's still not as good as raw milk or even pasteurized but non-homogenized raw milk (I have the choice of both types of milk where I live). However, for cheese, yogurt and cottage cheese - you may only be able to find organic products. That's fine! It's still better than most store-bought products.

A good alternative to milk (for those who are lactose intolerant or can't find raw milk at their local health food stores) is Almond milk. It tastes good, is low in calories and makes a pretty good milk substitute. I recommend Almond Breeze Original. You can drink it, use it in a high-quality and nutritious cereal or for protein shakes.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Program Design Tips!

"For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them. But he who listens to me shall live securely and will be at ease from the dread of evil."
- Proverbs 1:32-33

If you have been resistance training for a year or two and have knowledge of how to perform various exercises but don't feel satisfied with your results, then it may be time to develop a training plan to help you make consistent progress in the gym.

Most beginners and intermediates go to the gym and perform whatever exercises they feel like doing on that particular day. I have seen many people follow a bodybuilding program where they perform chest and triceps one day, back and biceps another, legs one day (if they actually work their legs) and shoulders, calves and abs another day.

This is only one variation of many that I have seen that require a minimum of four days per week devoted to resistance training in addition to any type of energy system development or cardio that they perform in addition to the resistance training workouts. When you add it all up, it requires 6-7 days devoted to training at approximately 60-90 minutes per session. I don't know about you, but I just don't have time to train that often!

There are a few problems with a bodybuilding training plan if you're not a bodybuilder or don't have plans to compete as a bodybuilder or want to look like a bodybuilder:

  • First, if you are a beginner or intermediate lifter, you may not see many results after your first few months of training. Once your body adapts to the exercises and overall volume and frequency, it will stop making gains. At this point, many lifters try to add more volume to their workouts or add additional workout days.
  • Second, most people that want to get in shape don't have four, five or six days to train (which is typical of most bodybuilding programs). If you have problems getting to the gym more than three days each week, a bodybuilding program is not going to give you the best results.
  • Third, a bodybuilding program typically has the lifter performing long workouts with a high amount of volume while targeting each bodypart once per week. For those of you who are time challenged, then this type of workout plan won't help you get the results you want in the time you have available.
  • Fourth, most people don't want to look like a bodybuilder. Many people prefer a more athletic physique and want to lose fat, gain strength and muscle, have some sort of athleticism and be healthier than they currently are. If this sums up your goals, then a bodybuilding training plan won't help get you where you want to go.

There are more reasons why a bodybuilding training plan is not ideal for most people (other than bodybuilders), but the above bullet points give you something to think about.

I was speaking with a friend recently that asked me for some tips on what she should be doing in the gym. This is what I recommended, and it's a good way to help you design your own training plan so you can continue getting the results you want to meet your goals.

Program Design 101

First, keep it simple. How many days do you have available to train at the gym (or at home if you have a home gym)? How much time can you devote to training each session? If you have 30-60 minutes, two-to-three times per week, then the following tips will be very useful for you.

If you can perform 2-3 resistance training workouts each week, then I would recommend using two full-body workouts (A and B) that you can alternate 2-3 times each week. The A-B split, as it is known, was popularized by Charles Staley (for a good article and sample training plan suited for intermediate and advanced trainees, see this article).

For the "A" workout, choose a leg exercise (squat variation), a horizontal push variation (bench) and a horizontal pull variation (rowing) as your three main exercises. Perform as a circuit moving from one exercise to the next with fairly short rest periods (sets/reps to come). Finish the "A" workout with some arm and ab exercises (keep it under 10 minutes total).

For the "B" workout, choose a leg exercise (deadlift variation), a vertical push variation (overhead presses) and a vertical pull variation (chins/lat pulldowns). Do them as a circuit like the A workout. Finish with some abs and arm or extra shoulder/upper back/rear delt exercises (keep it under 10 minutes).

For the sets and reps, try something like this:

Day 1: 4x6 or 5x5 (make this your heavy day)

Day 2: 3x8, 3x10 or 3x12 (this is your medium day)

Day 3: 2x20 or 2x15 (this is your light day)

The reason I like to use different sets and reps each day is because your body can only handle so much heavy lifting. By dividing your days into heavy, medium and light, it will help prevent potential overuse issues and joint pain and problems.

It also helps keep your body from adapting too quickly to the workouts while helping you train for strength, hypertrophy (muscle gain) and strength endurance (or speed strength) all in the same week. This is a term called undulating periodization and has been popularized by Alwyn Cosgrove (see this article for more information and tips).

Using the above sets and reps, you can alternate your "A" and "B" workouts like this:

Week 1

Day 1: "A" workout (sets/reps above, i.e. 4x6 or 5x5)

Day 2: "B" workout (sets/reps above, i.e. 3x12 or 3x10)

Day 3: "A" workout (sets/reps above, i.e. 2x20 or 2x15)

Week 2

Day 1: "B" workout (sets/reps above, i.e. 4x6 or 5x5)

Day 2: "A" workout (sets/reps above, i.e. 3x12 or 3x10)

Day 3: "B" workout (sets/reps above, i.e. 2x20 or 2x15)

Weeks 3 (same as week 1) and Week 4 (same as week 2).

At the end of week 4, you would change the exercises for your next four-week phase and change sets/reps so you don't perform the exact same set/reps as your previous training block.

You can continue to use this type of training template for a long time and make consistent gains (or losses if you are trying to lose fat)!

One benefit to the training template above is that you only repeat each workout every three weeks. This makes it hard for the body to adapt and also helps keep your motivation high knowing that you don't repeat the exact same workout too frequently while still seeing results.

You can perform your cardio or interval training after your resistance training workouts for conditioning and fat-loss benefits or on your "off" days depending on how much time you have available to train each week. You can easily adjust the above template to fit your time constraints.

If you only have 30 minutes to train, perform a general 5-minute warm-up and then perform one warm-up set for each of the three exercises in your circuit. Rest 1-2 minutes and then perform your work sets for each exercise for the amount of sets/reps required that day.

Since you will be using compound exercises that hit more muscles of the body, you will get a sufficient full-body workout using only three main exercises each workout requiring only about 30 minutes.

If you have more than 30 minutes, then you can add the extra arm, shoulder and ab exercises that I listed previously and also devote some time to a proper dynamic warm-up and any additional exercises or cardio that you may need to perform.

If you have questions about this type of training template, feel free to post some comments below. I can list suggested exercises to use and even a sample training program. With these basic program design tips, you'll be able to get more out of your training and continue seeing results!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Book Recommendation: Jonny Bowden's Shape Up!

"Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God." - Romans 12:2

I'm a big fan of Jonny Bowden. He is on the cutting edge of nutrition and isn't afraid to go against the nutritional dogma that many have been led to believe.

I also like that much of what he discusses about food and nutrition can be found in the bible. Although Jonny Bowden doesn't necessarily make references to God or the bible in his books and articles (although he mentions God and spirituality), the foods he recommends are based on the perfect creation that only God is capable of and knew about long before science or others discovered their benefits.

I first heard of Jonny Bowden from a recommendation by famous Olympic strength coach Charles Poliquin who recommended the book "The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth." I ordered that book along with "The 150 Most Effective Ways to Boost Your Energy."

After reading the first several chapters of The 150 Most Effective Ways to Boost Your Energy, I was hooked on Jonny's writing style, and I quickly began ordering nearly all of the books that he's ever written!

One book that I recently finished reading is "Jonny Bowden's Shape Up: The 8-Week Program to Transform Your Body, Your Health, and Your Life." This is a book that I ordered several copies of for various family members and friends - it's that good! Now, let me tell you that the book was poorly edited. But if you can overlook that, you will find that this is one of the best books available to help you understand that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all diet and that what works for one person may not work for another.

Jonny Bowden's Shape Up isn't a diet plan. It's not a training plan. It's a YOU plan. It shows you how to take control of your own health and how to make the right choices when it comes to food, training and so much more.

This is truly a "life skills" book and not just a nutrition book (although you'll learn some really good stuff). For the first time, someone has explained the problem with diets and how we are all individuals and need to adjust things to fit our lifestyle, metabolism, genetics, etc.

If you are taking steps to improve your health and your life, then I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of Jonny Bowden's Shape Up! It will change your life in many ways while improving your health, fitness and nutritional habits.

I also recommend getting a copy of "Jonny Bowden's Shape Up Workbook" - it's a good companion manual to go with the book with plenty of useful information to help jump start your life on the right path to health and fitness.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Back on Track!

"Before long, the jailer put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in that prison. The chief jailer had no more worries after that, because Joseph took care of everything. The Lord was with him, making everything run smoothly and successfully."- Genesis 39:22-23

I apologize that I haven't posted a blog since the beginning of November. I was extremely busy during the entire fall and throughout the holidays. I was also sick four different times between the beginning of November through the first week of January.

Luckily, I'm finally healthy and am working toward making regular blog posts once again. During the last few months, I've been busy with my own training but also with thoughts on what I want to accomplish in the next few years. I am currently working toward a personal training certification through the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA), as I have an interest in working with today's youth to help them improve their self-confidence while living a healthy lifestyle and avoiding illnesses like diabetes and obesity.

I will also work toward another general personal training certification with the American Council on Exercise (ACE) later this year or early next year to give me the basic information I need to work with various populations. Both of these certifications will help me in my quest to own my own fitness-based business and be able to train others.

I have also spent the last few months reading a variety of nutrition, fitness and business-related books that will help me when I make the jump toward opening my own business. And, of course, I've been praying about it (but not as much as I should!).

I still have various ideas of what I want to do, but I will need to make sure that it's something God truly wants me to do. With more prayer and bible study, I should be able to get the answers I need in order to find a way I can minster to others through my passion for health and fitness.

In the meantime, I'll continue to post useful information on my blog several times each week to help you with your health and fitness goals.

God bless!