Saturday, November 12, 2016

11 Reasons You’re Not Losing Belly Fat




Belly fat won’t budge? Genetics, hormones or easy-to-fix mistakes could be to blame.


Getting rid of your belly bulge is important for more than just vanity’s sake. Excess abdominal fat—particularly visceral fat, the kind that surrounds your organs and puffs your stomach into a “beer gut”—is a predictor of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance and some cancers. If diet and exercise haven’t done much to reduce your pooch, then your hormones, your age and other genetic factors may be the reason why.

You’re doing the wrong exercises
Doing crunches until the cows come home? Stop it! When you’re down to your final inches of belly fat, the dreaded crunch won’t be the exercise that finally reveals your six-pack. “You can’t spot reduce,” Jill says. Instead, she suggests doing functional exercises that use the muscles in your core—abdominals, back, pelvic, obliques—as well as other body parts. “These exercises use more muscles, so there is a higher rate of calorie burn while you are doing them,” she says. Planks are her favorite functional exercise—they activate not just your core muscles but also your arm, leg, and butt muscles.


You’re unmotivated

Are you committed to the work needed to lose belly fat? “Reducing belly fat takes a combination approach of a low-calorie diet that is high in fiber and low in carbohydrates and sugar along with cardiovascular and weight training,” Dr. Kashyap says. “If you are willing to do the work, you can move past genetics and lose it.


You’re eating the wrong fats
The body doesn’t react to all fats in the same way. Research correlates high intake of saturated fat (the kind in meat and dairy) to increased visceral fat, says Patton. On the other hand, monounsaturated fats (the kind in olive oil and avocados) and specific types of polyunsaturated fats (mainly omega-3s, found in walnuts, sunflower seeds, and fatty fish like salmon) have anti-inflammatory effects in the body, and if eaten in proper portions may do your body good. But Patton warns that eating too much fat of any kind increases your calorie intake and could lead to weight gain, so enjoy healthy fats in moderation.


You’re doing the wrong workout
A daily run or spin class is great for your heart, but cardio workouts alone won’t do much for your waist. “You need to do a combination of weights and cardiovascular training,” says Sangeeta Kashyap, M.D., an endocrinologist at Cleveland Clinic. Strength training increases muscle mass, which sets your body up to burn more fat. “Muscle burns more calories than fat, and therefore you naturally burn more calories throughout the day by having more muscle,” says Kate Patton, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic. Patton recommends 250 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 125 minutes of high-intensity exercise a week.


You’re sick
If your testosterone levels are high—something that can occur with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)—you might have difficulty losing weight. “If you’re an apple shape and overweight, it’s a good idea to see your doctor,” Dr. Kashyap says, since there may also be a chance that you are prediabetic or diabetic.


You’re stressed
Tight deadlines, bills, your kids—whatever your source of stress, having too much of it may make it harder for you to drop unwanted pounds, especially from your middle. And it’s not just because you tend to reach for high-fat, high-calorie fare when you’re stressed, though that’s part of it. It’s also due to the stress hormone cortisol, which may increase the amount of fat your body clings to and enlarge your fat cells. Higher levels of cortisol have been linked to more visceral fat.


You’re eating too many processed foods
“Refined grains like white bread, crackers and chips, as well as refined sugars in sweetened drinks and desserts, increase inflammation in our bodies,” says Patton. “Belly fat is associated with inflammation, so eating too many processed foods will hinder your ability to lose belly fat.” Natural foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are full of antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory properties and may therefore actually prevent belly fat, Patton says.


Your workout isn’t challenging enough
To banish stubborn belly fat, you have to ramp up your workouts. In a study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, people who completed a high-intensity workout regimen lost more belly fat than those who followed a low-intensity plan. (In fact, those completing the low-intensity exercises experienced no significant changes at all.) “You need to exercise at full intensity because the end goal is to burn more calories, and high intensity exercise does just that,” says Natalie Jill, a San Diego, Calif.-based certified personal trainer. High intensity workouts mean you’re going all out for as long as you can. If this sounds intimidating, think of it this way: you’ll burn more calories in less time.


You’re skimping on sleep
If you’re among the 30% of Americans who sleep less than six hours a night, here’s one simple way to whittle your waistline: catch more Zs. A 16-year study of almost 70,000 women found that those who slept five hours or less a night were 30% more likely to gain 30 or more pounds than those who slept seven hours. The National Institutes of Health suggest adults sleep seven to eight hours a night.


You’re apple shaped
If you tend to pack the pounds around your middle rather than your hips and thighs, then you’re apple shaped. This genetic predisposition means ridding yourself of belly fat will be harder, Dr. Kashyap says, but not impossible.


You’re getting older
As you get older, your body changes how it gains and loses weight. Both men and women experience a declining metabolic rate, or the number of calories the body needs to function normally. On top of that, women have to deal with menopause. “If women gain weight after menopause, it’s more likely to be in their bellies,” says Michael Jensen, M.D., professor of medicine in the Mayo Clinic’s endocrinology division. In menopause, production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone slows down. Meanwhile, testosterone levels also start to drop, but at a slower rate. This shift in hormones causes women to hold onto weight in their bellies. The good news: You can fight this process.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

5 Ways To Lift More

Here’s the thing about lifting more weight: It’s great for you.
People might worry about bulking up too much if they start lifting more weight. But it doesn’t have to be that way. “Having functional strength is so important in everyday life, “and also, if you develop more muscle, it takes many more calories to feed the muscle. You’re going to be burning fat more efficiently. You’re going to be stronger and leaner, and in better shape.”
For one thing, you can’t get huge if you’re not increasing your calories. “It’s just impossible." “You’ll have the same frame but you’ll just be pushing more weight. You won’t grow exponentially.” While you might feel a surge of blood to your muscle—that’s what lifters call “the pump”—it will only last for about 15 minutes while your tissues and muscles are developing following a lift. After that, you’ll return to your previous size. We asked Ryan for some tips about lifting more weight without putting on the bulk.

Lift More, in Fewer Reps

You want to do something that is challenging but not uncomfortable. If you're going to increase your weight load, lower your reps. Try doing 16 to 20 reps—a typical number for low weight—and as you add more weight, drop that number to 10-12 reps. Ryan suggests that about 15 percent more is the correct amount to add. As long as you don't go with the powerlifter routine, which is 3-5 reps at maximum weight, you shouldn't add bulk.

Embrace the Drop Set

Ryan's a huge fan of drop sets, especially when building strength. Drop sets are performed by starting at a certain weight and number of repetitions. As your workout continues, reduce your number of repetitions while increasing your weight. For example, start with 12 reps of a move, then add 5 to 10 percent more weight. Next do 10 reps, then add 5-10 percent more weight followed by 8 reps, adding 5-10 percent more weight. Finally, do 6 reps, then drop the weight you’ve added and do 12 reps at the original weight. "You're taking a muscle that is growing and fatigued, and then you're overloading it," Ryan says. "It's also an ego boost. You're doing more weight and thinking, 'this is great.'

Have A Spotter

You want to have proper form and technique as you start lifting more weight, and you want to always have a spotter, especially when you're doing overhead movements. For anything where you have a bench movement or shoulder movements, where you have weights over your head or over your face, ask a buddy to spot you. They'll be able to help in a pinch, while making sure that your form stays consistent and correct to achieve your goal.

Don't Sweat Weight Gain

If you're doing it right, your weight will go up a bit. The reason? Muscle is denser than fat. "Do. Not. Panic," Ryan advises. "Don't be a scale monster. Don't even look at the scale." The goal here is to improve your body composition, so you will see your body go through a change. Although you will be putting muscle on, you'll notice that your body fat percentage will go down, eventually reaching the correct balance for you. You are going to be a leaner, more fit version of yourself. Your clothes are going to be looser in places where you want them to be looser. You're going to look good, and not overly buff.

Keep Up the Protein

If you're training and want to get a little stronger, the big thing is protein. Women should eat a gram of protein a day per pound of body weight, while men can go up to 1.5 grams (or 2 grams if they want to add bulk). As long as you're consistently lifting, adding protein will ensure that your muscles are well-fed and healthy.

Mike Ryan

Thursday, March 17, 2016

18 Snacks That Burn Fat


What you eat between meals matters more than you think. Health.com explains how these choices can boost metabolism and help you lose weight fast.

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SNACKS VERSUS WEIGHT LOSS

Americans love to snack almost as much as we want to lose weight. But according to recent research by the USDA, our snacking habits are adding too many calories and too few nutrients to our diets. It doesn't have to be this way, says Susan Bowerman, RD, assistant director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. "When done right, [snacking] keeps your energy levels up and gives you more opportunities to get in all your nutritional needs."

WHAT SNACKS BURN FAT?

Eating snacks with the right ratio of nutrients, with the right calories, will help keep your body energized and help you lose weight. Protein (plus exercise) fuels the growth of lean muscle mass, which boosts metabolic rate and increases calorie burn. Fiber, meanwhile, helps improve digestion and keeps you from binging on fats and sugars. So while there's no food that will literally "burn fat" while you eat it, smart choices with these ingredients will help your body operate at maximum efficiency. Bowerman suggests snacks under 200 calories, with 10 grams of protein and close to 5 grams of fiber. Here are 20 of our favorite fat-burning snacks.

An apple and skim milk


"Almost any fruit is going to make a great snack, but you usually want to pair it with a bit of protein to make it more satisfying," says Bowerman; "unlike carbohydrates, which get used up relatively quickly, protein will help sustain your energy and hunger levels for a couple of hours." This duo will give you 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber for just over 200 calories.

Lentil salad with tomatoes and watercress


Salads aren't just for mealtime—when they're about 200 calories, they make a great afternoon snack, as well. This one has 11 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber, thanks to superfood lentils and plenty of veggies. (The recipe makes six servings, so hold off on adding the vinaigrette if you're not eating the whole thing at once.)

Cottage-cheese-filled avocado


Here's another fruit and dairy combo, this one for when you're craving something rich, creamy, and a bit savory. Remove the pit from one half of an avocado and fill the space with 2 ounces of 1% cottage cheese. For 200 calories, you'll get 9 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber—and no dirty dishes!

Sunflower lentil spread with pita bread


Lentils are a good source of iron, a metabolism-boosting nutrient that 20% of us don't get enough of. This savory recipe makes four 180-calorie servings, with 10 grams each of protein and fiber.

Canned tuna on whole-wheat crackers


If you don't want to incorporate dairy into every snack, a can of tuna (packed in water) is another great source of lean protein plus healthy omega-3s. For about 200 calories, you can enjoy 3 ounces of light tuna and 6 whole-wheat crackers—complete with 3 grams of fiber and 20 grams of protein.

Warm pear with cinnamon ricotta


Ricotta cheese is rich in protein, and pears are a good source of fiber. Together with a teaspoon of cinnamon, they make a delicious snack for any time of day. Each serving contains 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and 170 calories.

Shrimp stack


You may not think of shellfish as a grab-and-go snack food, but you can put this tasty treat together in a flash if you keep pre-cooked shrimp on hand. With Greek yogurt and avocado, it's a protein powerhouse with 9 grams per serving (and 4 g fiber), for only 129 calories.

Miso-glazed tofu


This recipe is touted as a main course, but it's so light on calories (only 164) that it can stand in as a midday snack as well. It also packs plenty of protein (12 grams) thanks to the tofu, as well as 3 grams of fiber.

Chicken pita sandwich (half)


There's no reason you can't have smaller portions of "real" food as snacks, says Bowerman. "Oftentimes, the healthiest and most balanced snacks are the ones that start as full meals—like a half a sandwich, or a plate of leftovers put together from dinner the night before," she adds.
Whip up this chicken and veggie pita in the morning, and split it in half for two snacks throughout the day. Each half contains 200 calories, 3 grams of fiber, and more than 20 grams of protein.

Cauliflower with white bean dip


Make a batch of white bean and roasted garlic dip at the beginning of the week to spread on crackers and eat with veggies when hunger strikes. Pair a quarter-cup serving with 2 cups of raw, chopped cauliflower, for example, for a total of 11 grams protein, 8 grams fiber, and 199 calories.

Power berry smoothie


This recipe, which calls for soy protein powder and low-fat plain yogurt, contains 9 grams of protein; swap in Greek yogurt to add even more. Frozen berries add fiber (4 grams total), and honey provides sweetness. All this for only 139 calories!

Toast with walnut & pear breakfast spread


Split this breakfast recipe in half to make a healthy midday snack with 200 calories, 11 grams protein, and 3.5 grams fiber. Not only will it help prep your body for fat burn, but it may also boost your energy levels (so you're more likely to get to the gym, perhaps?). Walnuts are rich in serotonin, a hormone that produces feel-good chemicals in the brain.

Edamame


One cup of edamame, or boiled soybeans, contains 17 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber, and 189 calories. A perfect snack all by itself! Serve hot or cold, season with salt, and enjoy.

Roast garlic and edamame dip


Edamame is a great snack by itself, but it also makes a great ingredient in this creamy dip for raw veggies or whole-wheat pita bread. You can enjoy up to three servings in one snack session, for a total of 162 calories, 9 grams protein, and 6 grams fiber.

Asparagus and hard-boiled egg


It's no wonder this classic combo goes so well together: Fiber-rich asparagus balances out eggs' natural protein. (Plus, asparagus is known as an aphrodisiac, thanks to its folate and vitamins B6 and E levels. Talk about fun ways to burn fat!)
Pair 15 asparagus spears (cooked or raw) with one hard-boiled egg for a 126-calorie snack, complete with 11 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.

Veggie tostata


In the mood for Mexican? You can't go wrong with black beans and veggies: These tostatas cook up quickly and easily for a fast and healthy mini-meal between lunch and dinner. At just over 200 calories, you get 13 grams of protein and 10.5 grams of fiber. Top with tomato salsa for added flavor without fat.

Minty iced green tea


A calorie-free beverage doesn't qualify as a real snack, but if you find yourself scouting the kitchen just because you're bored, rather than hungry, this tasty drink may just hit the spot. Plus, green tea has been shown to help dieters lose more weight, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, thanks to its metabolism-boosting antioxidant compound called EGCG.
Bowerman says that most research on green tea for weight loss has been inconclusive, but that either way it's a healthy, tasty way to stay hydrated throughout the day. "Drinking water and tea is a good way to keep all of your body's processes, including your metabolism, running smoothly and efficiently," she adds.

Spiced green tea smoothie


Here's another way to sip healthy green tea: as a smoothie! Pair this sweet and spicy drink with a few ounces of lean protein—some sliced turkey, for example—for a complete afternoon snack.
One serving will get you 3 grams of fiber (thanks to its secret ingredient, pear!). Plus, it contains cayenne pepper, which may help curb appetite and give your metabolism a boost.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Three Kinds of Fitness

  • Aerobic fitness. Aerobic activities condition your heart and lungs. Aerobic means "with oxygen." The purpose of aerobic conditioning is to increase the amount of oxygen that is delivered to your muscles, which allows them to work longer. Any activity that raises your heart rate and keeps it up for an extended period of time will improve your aerobic conditioning.
  • Muscle strengthening. Stronger muscles can mean either more powerful muscles that can do bigger jobs (such as lifting heavier weights) or muscles that will work longer before becoming exhausted (endurance). Weight training (resistance training) or simple exercises such as push-ups are two examples of ways to focus on muscle strengthening.
  • Flexibility. Like aerobic fitness and muscle strengthening, flexibility is a result of physical activity. Flexibility comes from stretching. Your muscles are repeatedly shortened when they are used, especially when exercising. They need to be slowly and regularly stretched to counteract the repeated shortening that happens through other activities.
Understanding the differences between each kind of fitness will help you set your fitness goals. Reaching a balance between the three is important, because they affect each other and each contributes to total fitness.
Some physical activities involve more than one kind of fitness. Some activities that are thought of as aerobic exercise, for example, also strengthen muscles (swimming, cycling, skiing).

Saturday, July 25, 2015

25 Biking Rules


1. To corner, enter wide and exit wide.
2. Brake Less
It sounds counterintuitive, but the harder you yank on the brakes, the less control you have over your bike. The best riders brake well before a corner. Plus, laying off the stoppers forces you to focus on key bike cornering skills such as weight distribution, body position, and line choice.
3. Look Where You Want to Go
“When riding a tricky or dangerous section of trail (or road), focus on the path you want your bike to follow, not the rock, tree, or other obstacle you’re trying to avoid,” says globe-trotting mountain-biker Hans Rey.
4. Avoid Helmet Hair
“For God’s sake, make sure your hair is under your helmet and not poking out the front,” advises Garmin-Cervelo pro Christian Vande Velde.

5. Take the Lane
You have a right to the road, so use it. It’s safer than riding on the shoulder, which is often cracked, covered in gravel, or worse. But don’t be a road hog, either.
6. Ride with the Best
Before he built his first mountain bike, GARY FISHER was an aspiring road racer. But his decision to stay in America rather than train in Europe derailed his chances of joining the pro peloton. “To be the best at the sport, you need to go to where the best are riding,” Fisher says. “If you’re a mountain biker, spend a couple of weeks at Whistler and you will be changed forever. If you’re a road rider and want to be a better climber, go to Colorado. Find the best, train with them, watch what they do, and learn their secrets.”
7. Set Your Suspension—And Check It Often
It’s frightening how many riders hit the trail with poorly adjusted forks and shocks. Not only will droopy suspension make your bike feel like a wet noodle, it can also be downright dangerous. A few simple adjustments are all it takes to have your suspension smoothly sucking up bumps.
Here are some general guidelines, but be sure to read the manufacturer’s recommendations (found online or in your owner’s manual) because they will provide the starting point based on your bike’s suspension design. And because air can leak through the seals, remember to check your pressure monthly.

Sag
(How much the suspension compresses when you sit on the bike)  Compression
(Controls the rate at which the suspension compresses in response to a bump)   Rebound
(The rate at which the suspension returns to full extension)
For XC: 20–25% of travel
For trail: 25–30% of travel
For DH: 30–35% of travel
For how to measure and
set sag, visit Bicycling.com/video. Start with the dial in the middle setting, and go ride. If the bike feels harsh, dial the damping down a click. If it feels mushy, add a click. Repeat until it feels smooth and supple.           Again, start in the middle setting. Ride a short, rough section of trail. If the fork or shock seems too springy, add a click of rebound. If it bounces back too slowly, dial it back a click.
8. Clean your shoes monthly. Also: wash your gloves.

9. Warm Up
A slow start primes your engine by directing oxygen from your blood cells to your muscles. Spin easy for 20 to 30 minutes before you begin to hammer.
10. Always Carry Cash
Money can’t buy love, but it can buy food, water, a phone call, or a spare tube.
11. Race, At Least Once
It will push you to ride harder than you previously thought possible.
12. Drink before you are thirsty; eat before you are hungry.

13. Eat Real Food On longer rides, easily digestible calories are key—and they shouldn’t come from just energy bars. James Herrera, MS, founder of Performance Driven Coaching, has a favorite: spread some almond butter on whole-grain bread and top with sliced bananas and agave nectar or honey.

14. Don’t Live in Your Chamois
When the shoes come off, your shorts should come off with them.
15. Ride Hard. . .
To become faster, you need to ride faster. Intervals squeeze every drop of fitness from your time on the bike. Try the following two or three times a week: Choose a route that includes a climb or stretch of road where you can go nearly all-out for three to five minutes. Warm up for 15 to 30 minutes, then ride hard—your exertion should be about a 7 out of 10—for three minutes. Recover for 90 seconds, then repeat the sequence four more times.
16. . . .But Not Every Day
Take 56-year-old mountain-bike legend Ned Overend’s advice: Rest often. And if you’re feeling cooked after a 30-minute warm-up, put it in an easy gear and spin home. “No workout is set in stone,” Overend says. “Your training needs to have structure, but it should be malleable based on how you’re feeling.” Which might explain why, 10 days before he won the 2011 Mt. Washington Hill Climb, Overend was surfing in San Diego.
17. Play the Terrain
Go hard on climbs and take it easy on descents.
18. Ride Another Bike
Explore the woods on a mountain bike. Throw down in the local cyclocross race. Mixing in different types of riding keeps you mentally fresh, boosts your skills, and reminds you that riding is fun.
19. Wear Out Your Shifters
You have lots of gears for a reason: to keep your cadence in the sweet spot. For silky-smooth gear changes, remember to shift before a punchy climb, sprint, or tight switchback.
20. Train Your Weaknesses
Professional endurance racer Mark Weir makes his living blasting through corners. But that wasn’t always the case. “I was a semi-pro downhiller racing in Park City, Utah, and there was a corner that I thought just sucked,” he recalls. “I told Jan Karpiel, one of my sponsors, about it, and he said: ‘The corner doesn’t suck, you suck at that corner.’ I realized then that training my weaknesses is far more important than sticking with my strengths.”
21. Check Your Tire Pressure
Here are some basic guidelines from Michelin.

Road/Commuter: If you weigh more than 180 pounds, inflate to the maximum on the tire sidewall. If you weigh 110 or less, fill to the minimum. Somewhere in between? Inflate to somewhere in between.

Mountain Bike: Target somewhere between 27 and 32 psi for most tires. Ultraskinny XC tires may require as much as 35 psi. Figure on 20 to 30 psi for tubeless tires.
22. If your knee hurts in the front, raise your saddle; if it hurts in the back, lower the seat.
23. Buy a Torque Wrench and Learn How to Use It
This is mandatory for carbon parts, but will also extend the life of all stems, handlebars, bottom brackets, seatpost clamps, and suspension pivots. Our favorite is Park’s TW-5.
24. Learn to Bunnyhop on Your Road Bike
Doing an unclipped hop shows you how changes in body position affect your bike’s behavior—knowledge that will boost your confidence on steep downhills, rough roads, and in corners.
A: Replace your clipless pedals with platforms and your cycling shoes with soft-soled sneakers.
B: Ride across a flat, grassy field at slightly faster than walking speed, standing on your pedals, cranks level with the ground, elbows and knees slightly bent.
C: Push down on the handlebar while bending your knees even farther so you are crouched over the saddle. Then immediately pull up and back on your bar as you shift your weight back to get the front tire up.
D: With the front tire off the ground, shift your weight forward as you push the handlebar ahead and hop up with your legs to lift the rear wheel.
25. Fitness Takes Time
No crash diet or hell week of training will magically propel you into top form. “You’ve got to work toward it all season long,” says Pierre Rolland, the best young rider of the 2011 Tour de France



Thursday, March 5, 2015

Tabata: What it really means

Tabata: What it really means

What is Tabata and how is it different from high intensity interval training
High intensity interval training (HIIT) has been having a “moment” for the last few years. Chalk it up to the fact that the workouts have been found to be as effective as longer routines, decrease your appetite, and increase your afterburn (which is basically the hat trick of the fitness world).
But lately, practically everywhere you get your sweat on, from barre to boot camp, instructors are throwing around one particular term related to HIIT: Tabata. As in, “Have a sip of water now, we’re going to do Tabata sprints.”
So while you might suspect something intense is about to happen, it might help to clarify just what Tabata really means.
Tabata is much more specific version of a HIIT workout (it’s like the vegan child in a family of vegetarians). The method is based on serious scientific research. In the mid ’90s, Izumi Tabata, a professor at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan, led a study proving that exactly four minutes of really intense intervals is just as effective as hours of lighter, more moderate training. It was dubbed the “Tabata Protocol,” or the shorter, “Tabata.”
We spoke to PJ Stahl, Tabata program director and co-owner of Lock Box LA,to find out what a Tabata workout really looks like (and how to tell if your instructor is using the term correctly). Here are four things to know in order to master the method.
PJ Stalh tabata
PJ Stahl works directly with Professor Tabata to ensure the continued efficacy of the method. (Photo: Tabata)
1. The “Tabata” portion of your workout should be four minutes.The method revolves around doing one exercise (it could be squats, jumping jacks, lunges) for 20 seconds on—at super maximum intensity—and 10 seconds off. You do that eight times, for a total of four minutes, explains Stahl.
2. There should be a heart-rate revving warmup of 10 minutes. You want to increase your heart rate the way the participants in the Tabata study did, explains Stahl, which means completing a ten-minute warmup. In the workouts Stahl designs, including his new at-home workout DVD, he starts the sweat sesh with dynamic like lunges, high knees, or jumping jacks. “By the time you get to the Tabata portion, you’re prepared to push yourself harder,” Stahl says. (Side note: He likes to save core work for the “cool down.”)
3. It’s all about how hard you work during those 20 seconds. Just showing up isn’t enough. Tabata uses an intensity scale of 1 to 11, the idea being that in your 20 seconds on, you’re pushing yourself past ten (or, you know, as hard as humanly possible), in order to reap the workout’s benefits. That challenges your body to “break you through the aerobic and anaerobic threshold,” says Stahl. The Tabata protocol bases effectiveness on the heart rate you achieve working at your highest intensity.
4. So when is your Tabata workout not officially a Tabata workout? “When people say ‘I do Tabata,’ sometimes they mean they do 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, and manipulate it into a workout they want to do—like four minutes of pushups and then four minutes of squats,” Stahl says. To be doing a legit Tabata workout, you have to be exhausting the same muscles over the course of your four minute session—which happens fast when you’re hitting that 11 on the intensity scale. —Molly Gallagher
For more information, visit us.tabataofficial.com

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Three "stupid" things you might be doing at the gym, and the best ways to fix them.

1. You skip squats because they're bad for your knees.


Squats don't ruin your knees; the way you're squatting does. Many men butcher the move, and then complain of knee pain. And that's a shame, because the squat is one of the most effective exercises you can do. It works nearly every muscle in your body, and burns a ton of calories. In fact, physiologists at the Mayo Clinic have found that squats place less stress on your knees than leg extensions, a popular machine alternative.

There are some guys who have past injuries or musculoskeletal issues who should stay away from the exercise, but they're rare. So stop skipping it, and start reaping the benefits of this classic. If you properly execute a good squat pattern, your knees shouldn't hurt. Here's a brief breakdown on how to properly back squat.

SETUP

1. Squeeze your shoulder blades together to create a "shelf” along your upper back. This is where the bar will sit. Maintain this "shelf" throughout the entire exercise.

2. Before unracking the weight, step under the bar so it's across your shelf, and pull down on it. This will help engage your lats—which are the largest muscles in your back—and provide more tension and stability in the spine.

3. Unrack the bar, and take two steps away.

4. Brace your abs, squeeze your glutes, and keep a neutral spine.

DESCENT

1. Push your hips back like you're sitting in a chair.  (To maintain proper form as you lower, I tell clients to pretend as if they're crushing a can between their butt and hamstrings.)

2. As you sit back, open up your hips by pushing your knees out. Your kneecaps should stay in line with your middle toes.

3. Your knees may glide forward over your toes a bit, and that's fine. It's impossible to squat without that happening. You just want to minimize this glide as much as possible.

4. Push your hips back until your quadriceps are parallel to the floor or slightly past parallel. Going past parallel (110 degrees) puts no added joint stress on your knees than staying above parallel (70 degrees) or going to parallel (90 degrees), according to a study in Clinical Biomechanics. 

ASCENT

1. Stand up by thrusting your hips forward and squeezing your glutes. That's it. 

2. You bench press with your feet on the bench. 

When it comes to bench pressing, proper technique ensures steady gains and fewer injuries. Unfortunately, I see a lot of guys doing the lift wrong. One of the biggest mistakes: Putting up your feet on the bench. While many guys say it helps them work their pectoral muscles harder, I'm here to tell you that's just not the case.

Sure, it might help isolate them a little more than the standard version, but benching with your feet up makes you unstable. That means you can't lift as much weight.

Instead, keep your feet flat on the floor, and drive through your heels as you press up the weight. This creates a solid foundation and allows you to press as much weight as you possibly can. Progressive overload is what builds a stronger bench press and, subsequently, larger pecs—not lifting lighter loads with your feet on the bench. 

Other guys put their feet on the bench to flatten their backs. For some reason, they falsely believe benching with a curved back is a bad thing. But have you ever seen a powerlifter bench? They arch their back every single time! It gives them a mechanical advantage to lift more pounds.

Now, I'm not saying you should bend your back until it looks like St. Louis' Gateway Arch. But your lower back has a natural inward curve that you can maintain throughout the lift.

3. You work your biceps with curls.

Your biceps are the size of tennis balls, yet you'll work them with 17 different variations for more than half an hour. Stop! There are tons of other exercises that work your biceps while also targeting a ton of other muscles groups. It's time to get more bang for your buck.

That's why I have a strict rule in my gym that if you can't perform at least five strict chinups (sternum to bar), then you can't do a bicep curl. The chinup not only hammers your biceps, but it's one of the best ways to work your latissimus dorsi, the biggest muscle group in your upper body.

Strong, wide lats give you the coveted V-shaped torso. And if vanity alone won't compel you to work your back muscles, maybe this will: You'll increase your gains at the gym. That's because your lats and the other muscles of your upper- and mid-back are key to stabilizing your shoulder joints. Stable shoulders allow you to lift heavier weights. If those muscles are weak, however, almost every upper-body lift—including your precious arm curls—will suffer.

If you can't perform chinups with perfect form, concentrate on the eccentric, or lowering, portion of the move instead. There's greater potential for growth during this phase if you go slowly and under control.

DO THIS: Stand on a bench, box, or step under a pullup bar. Jump up and grab the bar so that your sternum touches the bar. Hold this position a couple seconds as you try to keep your body from swinging back and forth. Slowly lower yourself until your arms are fully extended. Drop down onto the bench, box, or step. That's 1 rep. Perform 3 to 5 sets of 3 to 5 reps 3 times a week.