Here’s a nice healthy spin on a traditional side dish that will have your family patting you on the back asking you, “WHY HAVEN’T YOU MADE THIS BEFORE??”
It’s November 15th. Soon enough to holidays will be upon us, 2013 will really start winding down, and we’ll be moving on to 2014. With 48 days before the ball drops and millions of sloppy, messy, drunken spontaneous make out sessions ensue, it’s safe to say a vast majority of you are looking ahead to your New Year’s resolutions and deciding what’s going to make the cut this year.
I realize how much some of you enjoy this annual tradition. Out with the old, in with the new. A clean slate. After all, who doesn’t love a clean slate? Whether it’s a new semester in college, a new job, or a release from your state’s department of corrections, clean slates are usually something to be savored. For many people, the start of a new year is the ultimate clean slate. A new year, a new you – the feeling is often liberating. The difference (and problem) with the New Year’s clean slate, as compared to some of the instances listed above, is the fact people often approach the New Year’s clean slate by completely letting themselves go in the weeks and months prior…simply because they know they have a clean slate coming.
No where else do you see this – are you intentionally failing your final exams because you know you have a new semester to start over? Are you screwing around at your job because you know you’ll have a new one to fall back on shortly? Are you going on a shanking spree in the day’s after the parole board granted your release? The answer to all of these questions, is most likely no. You see, in all of these situations it’s obvious your current actions are going to make am impact on yourself and/or future successes…with or without that upcoming clean slate. So why are people spending October through December slouching off, letting themselves go, and reversing the past 9 months of their hard work? Well that’s easy…it’s because they know they have a clean slate coming and can start their “health kick” all over again come January.
That’s the problem though. Letting yourself go for 2-3 months is going to set you up for the perpetual cycle of, one step forward, one step back. When it comes to fitness, it may take a solid 6-9 months to achieve some really amazing things…but only a half-dozen weeks to completely give it all back. It’s a shitty system, but hey, I’m not the one who came up with it.
So this year, before you’ve fallen too far off the wagon, what I’m challenging you to do, is say f*ck New Year’s. F*ck the resolutions. And f*ck the clean slate. When it comes to fitness, there is no clean slate. There is only one slate, and every mark, nick, and chicken scratch you make is going to be visible. It’s not going away. So instead of digging yourself a 6 foot hole to climb out of on January 1st, I want you to make an effort, at the very least, to maintain your current fitness levels. This means not downing a tub of ice cream because it’s November and no one is going to see you shirtless anyways. This means not skipping the gym for 25 days in a row, because “you’ve earned it”. It means the 4th happy this week is a bad, bad idea…especially since you can’t control yourself around red wine and bruschetta (ooh giiiiirl, neither can I!)
When January 1st rolls around, the dopamine levels sky-rocket, and that sense of unbridled motivation returns, you’re going to be on the fast-track to taking yourself to the next level..rather than fighting to return to the level you were at only a few short months ago. Want a better approach for the new year? Use January 1st as an opportunity to take stock of yourself – where do you currently stand? What do you want to accomplish in 2014? What’s the plan of attack? This is a much better scenario than starting the New Year fat, slow, and tired due to your “packing it in” back in October.
This year, start the new year off at the top of your fitness game, not the bottom. Leave the New Year’s fitness resolutions and “clean slate” thinkers to the elliptical-only crowd. As for you, you’re not a fitness newbie anymore. You’re tough, you’re strong, and most importantly, you’re smart. So do the smart thing this year, and tell your 2014 New Year’s resolutions to f*ck off because for you, there is no clean slate…just one slate, and it’s the tightest, fittest, and most toned it’s been in years.
Of the scores of questions we receive here on a weekly basis, one of the most prevailing relates to diet. We’ve got readers from all walks of life wondering, consistently inquiring about what type of diet plan is right for them and their goals. What types of foods are best to eat? When is the best time to eat? How much should be eaten…and how does this relate to a specific goal? The questions are endless, so I felt it was due time that I put together the defacto Share It Fitness guidebook on healthy eating. This is your blueprint, your Bible if you will, on how to incorporate a complementary diet plan into all else that you’re doing. Whether you’re one of our faithful FitPlanners or just following along with some of our free workout programs on the blog, this dietary guidebook will serve as your new best friend. It has been created with the assumption you are active, already following one of our workout programs, and are in good general health.
We created this program with the help of two of our dietitian friends. We had them careful vet all of them information found within this guide, so rest a little easier knowing this isn’t another bro-science, Frankenstein creation that has been thrown together with little thought.
We’re going to get right into it, starting with the most basic tips on how to start eating to maximize your gains.
Ask yourself a question; why do you eat what you eat? Convenience? Affordability? Availability? Personal tastes? For most of us, our diet is a combination of the above. Unfortunately, the most available, cheapest, most convenient, and usually most tasty foods are seldom the best for us. As a result, we (the collective we) stuff ourselves with horrible options then sit back and wonder why we aren’t making gains fast enough..or at all. We wonder why we feel sluggish, slow, and have no energy to complete that late-afternoon workout. We insist we simply can’t build muscle or burn fat like those “other” people because our genetics are riding the short bus. First off, stop it. Stop the excuses. Stop the self-pity. Stop everything you have been doing. If you want to really change your diet, health, and body, it’s time to do something differently. Repeating the same old cycle isn’t getting you anywhere, so this time, I want you to try something different. With the help of this guidebook, I want you to approach your soon-to-be improved eating habits as a lifestyle change, NOT a diet.
Diets don’t work. Sure, some may deliver pretty impressive short-term benefits, but you aren’t looking for a life of yo-yo dieting, are you? You want something that can be seamlessly incorporated into your life and doesn’t seem like a chore to adhere to (I’m looking at you, Paleo diet).
The information you’re going to find in this guidebook isn’t mind-blowing. I’m not giving you some top-secret dietary formula that’s going to have you dropping weight and looking like a Victoria’s Secret model in just 4 weeks. I’m not making those kind of promises. What I am promising you however, is an absolutely simple way to immediately improve your diet, show you how to start eating FOR your gains, all the while making this the most enjoyable and probably last “diet plan” you’ll ever try. Remember, this isn’t a diet – this is a lifestyle change. Understand that and success with this approach will be yours.
Let’s talk about macronutrients, shall we? When I say macronutrient, I’m referring to the Big 3 – protein, carbohydrates, and fat. These are the three driving forces of your bodily functions and what allow you to live and also work out, at a high level. Cut back on any of the above three and you’re going to suffer, albeit in different ways. Bottom line, you’re going to want to incorporate enough of the above nutrients in your diet, so you can perform to the best of your abilities.
It bears mentioning that I am proceeding under the assumption that you are actively working out or using one of our many workouts or FitPlan. The nutritional needs for a healthy, active person differ greatly from those of a couch potato – go figure. The following approach is what I’ve personally been using for a while now, and has worked wonders for myself and dozens of my own clients. This approach is a guideline – I don’t want you to feel like you’ve got to actively count out grams of protein, carbs, and fat, each and every day. At first, this may be helpful, but over time, it will become second nature and you’ll already know what and how much your consuming. Okay, so enough about that, on to the golden macronutrient ratio….
45% protein/30% carbs/25% fat
But wait a minute, should we assume that “golden” ratio is just that? Actually, no. Apologies for misleading you slightly. As we know, some of us are naturally thin. Some of us are more broad. Others are able to naturally hold on to muscle and low levels of body fat quite effortlessly. Since this is a general nutritional guideline, I’m giving you general advice. You know your own body type. Check out the below ratios for specific body types….
Naturally skinny – 35% protein/40% carbs/25% fat
Naturally thicker – 35% protein/25% carbs/40% fat
Naturally muscular and athletic - see the above ratio you lucky S.O.B
Getting a good grip on your macronutrients is actually pretty easy once you learn to start reading nutrition labels. Over time, you’ll remember that an egg has 6 grams of protein. An 8 ounce chicken breast has 28 grams of protein. A handful of walnuts has 20 grams of fat. A slice of whole-wheat bread has 12 grams of carbs. It’s second nature at this point, and it will be for you too. Just check out those nutrition labels, write it down (it helps with memorization), and over time, you’ll know exactly how many macronutrients you’re taking in.
With any new diet or workout program, expectations need to be managed. When expectations are allowed to run rampant, it becomes increasingly easy to get burnt out, disappointed, and fall of the wagon if things don’t go exactly how you expect. After hearing about reader after reader revert back to their old ways, it became clear that so many were failing because they simply never received adequate mental training prior to starting their endeavor. So what do I mean, mental training? Well for starter’s, you’ve got to learn to think in an entirely new way.
As Americans, when we want things, we expect them 2 minutes ago. Patience is mostly certainly not a virtue most of us have attained. This problem is compounded when our friend tells us about how she lost 10 pounds in 10 days following some faddy new carb-less diet. All we focus on is the fact she’s lost serious weight, not the fact she’s been miserable and is only a few days away from falling off the wagon because she’s set herself up with a diet plan that assures she cannot maintain it long-term.
Most people bounce between diets, never actually settling on anything because they’re all after that elusive magic bullet. I think the average person goes on 20+ diets over the course of their lives…or some crazy number like that. But here’s a little food for thought – if any of those latest and trendy new diets actually worked long-term, why are people still bouncing around every time a new one comes out? The answer? Because they don’t work…long-term at least.
I’ve said it before, and I’m saying it again, you want a LIFESTYLE change….not a DIET. And vanity aside, you should be eating to do more than just lose weight and look good, right? Things like cancer, heart disease, diabetes….it’s safe to assume you want to avoid those right? These should be the ultimate reasons why you’re changing the way you eat. Sure it’s nice to look hot in that Miley Cryus Halloween costume when you’re 20 something…but when your 40, 50, 60, 70-something, you don’t want to spend your life in and out of hospitals or running from one doctor appointment to the next. Think long-term. Think for your health, along with your physique, and you’ll find adopting this dietary lifestyle change will become much easier and more enjoyable for you to implement.
IV. The Other Big 3
Of course, it’s about so much more than the number of carbs, protein, and fat you’re eating each day. If you’re carbs are strictly coming by way of sugar, even if you’re maintaining your specific ratio, you’re going to fail. If your fats are all coming from that greasy In-N’-Out burger, I hope you have a good cardiologist on speed dial. There are certain things you’ll want more/less of in your diet, because not only will they help you stay healthier, they’ll also help you reach your aesthetic goals faster too. Let’s check out the “other” big three and see how they can help or hurt your progress.
Sugar – The white devil. Perhaps one of the worst things on Earth, yet so readily available. Sugar has absolutely no purpose in your diet. That’s not to say you need to get all crazy and avoid any drop of it, but be smart about your sugar intake. Gatorade, Yoplait yogurt, ketchup, and tons of other everyday foods we don’t associate with “bad for you”, are chock full of sugar. Sugar is going to spike your insulin faster than you can say diabetes, as well as give cancerous tumors fuel for growth (tumors thrive in sugary environments). Another thing to note, just because fruit is natural and full of healthy antioxidants, doesn’t mean the sugar found in it is good for you. Too much fruit can absolutely, positively, make you fat. I’ve seen it dozens of times over and it’s time people began realizing this for themselves.
Fiber – Fiber is a good thing. It’s something most people don’t get enough of but it’s absolutely vital to maintaining a slim waistline and healthy body. Fiber in your diet is actually going to help remove fat from your system. Not only that it helps fight heart disease, improves blood flow, lowers cholesterol, increases feelings of fullness, and reduces overeating. Simply put, eat more fiber.
Good Fats – Good fats are vital for your brain development and function, prevention of certain types of cancers, as well as protein function. For many years, people avoided fats, both good and bad, like the plague. Instead, they turned to stuff created in a laboratory, thinking they were doing something great for their bodies. What we later found out was the stuff these scientists were putting together in a test tube was even worse than the stuff people were avoiding. Simply put, fats are vital as they help proteins do their job, fight cancer, and improve your overall mental function. Of course, there are good fats and bad fats, and picking wisely is extremely important. Good fats come from things like nuts, coconut oil/milk, avocado, and fish. Bad fats come from things like processed cakes/cookies, french fries, and fast food hamburgers. It shouldn’t be too hard to make the right choice when it comes to fat, right?
V. Meal Time
Okay, so you’ve got a lot of new information at hand, but how do you put it into practical use? Well there are a few main things to be aware of here. First, you’re going to want to start preparing as many meals in your home as possible. Second, if you’re forced to eat out, because you’re a student and on a campus meal plan for instance, you’ve just got to make better choices in the dining hall. We’ll get into that, but lets first talk about how you can start preparing at least some of your own meals, and making them better and more nutritionally dense.
The absolute best way to make sure you have healthy options available is by dedicating a few hours, once a week, to making all of that week’s meals and/or snacks. It’s not hard really. I can knock out a giant pot of vegetarian chile, protein power balls, 3 pounds of chicken breast, enough steamed veggies to feed an army, and a whole wheat turkey and spinach lasagna in no more than 3 hours. And the best part? I don’t have to worry about what to cook for the remainder of the week. And since I’m smart and read nutrition labels, I know one serving of lasagna, one serving of chile, a few power balls, and a piece of chicken net me X grams of protein, X grams of fat, and X grams of carbs. I don’t need my calculator or have to constantly tally my macronutrient totals up. I’ve made these things long enough to know exactly what’s in one serving. Getting to this point is when you’re diet stops being a diet and becomes a lifestyle. A month, maybe two of doing things like this, and you will all be there too.
So my tips for you are these – invest 20 bucks into a Tupperwear set or two. Cook 4-5 meals ahead of time (I do mine on Sunday mornings). Place your individual meals in the Tupperwear, and using a stick-it note or piece of tape, write out your macronutrient totals and stick it to your Tupperwear container. Don’t worry, you’re not going to have to do this forever. Over time you’ll know without having to write it down, but for the time being, I want you to get into the habit of writing these things down. This way you’ll see exactly how much you’re eating and know how much/little you still need to eat to achieve your daily macronutrient totals.
So now that you have an idea about the nutritional guidelines we’ve set forth, and have a better understanding of how to prep your meals, you’re probably wondering what exactly you should be eating. Luckily, we’ve created a recipe e-book which I’d be more than happy to share with you. In this recipe book, I took some of the most common restaurant recipes around, and made them healthier, less expensive, and tastier for you to enjoy.
We’ve got a wide range of recipes to pick, along with costs associated with each serving. This is a wonderfully presented way of showing you exactly how much it costs to eat healthy, and how bad these food factories, i.e. chain restaurants, actually are for you.
I’m going to quickly go over some other important bits of information that I’ve repeated dozens of times over on the blog, but want to include in this guidebook. Let’s take a look…
Following the above guidelines are going to give you a tremendous advantage over any of those other faddy diets that promise big results but leave you struggling to maintain their rigid routines. We created this guidebook to give you a structured format for your cooking and eating. Follow the advice found here, implement little tweaks along the way, stick to your workouts, and in time your body will go through the types of changes you’ve been striving for your entire life. Best of luck on your journey, and as always, if you need any specific guidance, we’re only an email or comment away.
We’ve selected our lucky winner for the Lifefactory giveaway!
Lori! Twitter: @Lorikeet8
Congrats, Lori! We will be in touch shortly with instructions for claiming your prize!
Our next giveaway will be announced shortly, so keep checking back for your next chance to win!
What’s a fitness hack? A fitness hack is a helpful little nugget of advice that’s going to help you easily and seamlessly start living a better, healthy, more fit life. It’s going to help you fit into that dress faster. It’s going to help you get over that plateau. It’s going to make your doctor happy. In short, these are little things you can do in your every day life, that are going to add up to a BIG difference when you stay consistent with them over time.
1. Substitute cinnamon for sugar in your morning coffee. Switching from sugar to cinnamon in my coffee was one of the greatest things I’ve ever done. The flavor of cinnamon mixed with the slight bitterness of coffee creates a melody of flavors in my cup, without the need for the white devil, a.k.a sugar. Save on calories, that insulin spike, and fat retention by using cinnamon.
2. Get better workout clothes. Seriously, this may sound shallow, but you’d be surprised what new workout clothes can do for your motivation. Studies show when you are comfortable in what you’re wearing, you’re more likely to hit the gym for that workout. If you’re feeling self-conscious about the way you look, it becomes far too easy to skip that workout.
3. Speed it up. Your music that is. Working out to songs that contain higher beats-per-minute (BPM) will result in your ability to go longer, harder, and feel less fatigue. Seriously, scientists have looked into this stuff and concluded our motivation levels and ability to do work is tied to the music we’re listening to. Ditch the Jack Johnson for some Daft Punk the next time you’re working out and see how you feel.
4. Dump the flavored yogurts. Seriously, some of these flavored yogurts have as much sugar as a can of soda…and contain meager amounts of protein. Instead opt for fat-free Greek (I love Fage brand) which will net you 27 grams of protein and only a few grams of sugar per serving.
5. Build your own gym. Not only is it completely easy and inexpensive to create a do-it-yourself gym, it’ll also make it more likely that you’ll workout, since everything you need is only a few feet from you at any given time. Check out our handy-dandy guide for advice on how to create your own at home gym on a budget.
6. Burn more calories by working out less. Say what? That’s right, you can actually burn more calories by working out less. How’s that work you’re wondering? Start including active hobbies into your daily life. These activity hobbies will actually burn more calories than you thought, and see it’s presumably something you enjoy doing, it won’t really be “working out”. Who’d have guessed gardening burns 170 calories an hour!? For a full run down on little things you can do to increase your total calorie burn, check out our guide.
7. Ditch the scale. I’m dead serious – get rid of the scale. Weighing yourself isn’t helping you lose weight. If anything, it’s killing your motivation and giving you a false sense of where you stand. Scales don’t tell us anything about our lean muscle mass, bone density, etc. As you workout, you’re going to be packing on muscle, which weighs more than fat, so forget what the scale says. Instead, try focusing on your measurements which are a far better judge.
8. Sleep more. Our bodies repair themselves while we sleep. So rather than staying up late watching terribly television, get yourself to bed at a decent hour. Do this enough nights in a row and you’ll notice you have more energy AND your workouts suddenly become more effective. How’s that for a double-whammy?
9. Get a virtual fitness partner. Pacer training is the format of training that we employ here at Share It Fitness. Studies have shown that actively training with another person (even if they are on a screen in front of you!) will push you to work harder, longer, and better than if you were doing things on your own. We’ve created hundreds of video workouts employing this pacer training format, so find some that are right for you and get moving!
10. Workout music for those with musical taste. If the top 40 makes you want to gag, you’ve got to check out indiesouprunner which has tons of workout worthy playlists full of uptempo indie beats.
11. Count backwards. How do you currently count your reps? If you’re like most people, you’re counting 1…2…3…..stop that. Start counting DOWN; 10…9…8…and so on. This will actually make it more likely that you get through tough sets, rather than stalling out before you’ve completed all of your assigned repetitions.
12. Use full range of motion. Most of us only (at best) 80% efficient on our lifts. That means we’re leaving 20% of our “gains” on the table. Instead of rocking, swaying, and doing half motions when you lift, really focus on doing a full lift, with 100% proper form. By maximizing each and every repetition you’re going to increase your gains by 20%, 30%, or more.
When it comes to fitness and achieving your goals, every little bit counts. Too many people are looking for the one silver bullet that’s going to instantly drop their weight, tone them up, and get them into the kind of shape they dream about being in. But what you’ve got to understand is, there is no silver bullet. The most fit and healthy people among as are the ones who have learned to implement these type of fitness hacks into their lifestyles. The accumulation of lots of little healthy habits and tips that reinforce your goals is ultimately what’s going to change your body and health.
So really engrain these 12 fitness hacks into your mindset and start implementing them today. None are hard, but all are effective in helping you make that total body transformation and inch you ever closer to the body and health you deserve.
Have any fitness hacks of your own? I’d love to hear about them, just leave a comment below!
Water is pretty amazing. You’re about 60% water, so that means you’re pretty amazing, too. Water plays vital roles in our bodies, like protecting and cushioning organs, regulating body temperature, and aiding the digestive system. When the body isn’t adequately hydrated, it begins to suffer. Mild dehydration can lead to irritability, dizziness, muscle cramps, and headaches. Severe dehydration can lead to fainting, muscle spasms, low blood pressure and heart failure.
If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
In terms of weight loss, staying hydrated helps flush out the toxins that burning fat releases into your system. Also, a lot of times, people mistake thirst for hunger, so staying hydrated ensures you don’t suffer from any unnecessary food cravings you might give in to that could effect your goals.
Most experts recommend aiming to drink 64 ounces of water a day, or 8 8-ounce glasses. Some say that number is a little high, but I’d rather err on the side of caution.
Look to any truly fit and healthy individual, and they will have a water bottle as a constant companion because they know how important it is. You’ll often see bodybuilders and fitness competitors carrying around gallon sized milk jugs full of water everywhere to overload, outdoor enthusiasts with Nalgenes carabiner clipped to their backpacks or distance runners with Batman-esque utility belts strapped around their waist equipped with multiple mini bottles. No matter what your workout of choice, anyone with health on their mind will carry a steady water supply.
I used to carry around a Nalgene knockoff, with a screw off lid and a mouth opening the size of a dinner plate. It was 32 ounces so I figured it was perfect- drink 2 a day and I’m good. And I was, except for the fact I couldn’t drink out of it without spilling a good 16 ounces all over myself. I’ve never been accused of my mouth not being big enough, but in order to not drench myself I would have to freeze mid-stride, open wide and drink ever so carefully. If I was lucky enough not to spill out to sides of my mouth and down the front of my shirt, I’d usually catch a rogue water droplet in the eye that splashed out from pulling it away from my face too fast. I think I’m a fairly intelligent individual and I’ve been drinking water since my mom’s broke 27 years ago, so I
hope know it’s the bottle, not me.
So, when I was offered a Lifefactory water bottle to try the same day I dropped my “indestructible” water bottle and broke the lid in half, I jumped at the chance.
Lifefactory makes high quality glass water bottles with plastic casings to provide an easy grip and help prevent breakage. They come with screw off, straw cap and pop top lids, depending on your preference, and come in a variety of sizes.
All Lifefactory water bottles are made from non-toxic materials that are free of BPA, BPS and phthalates, chemicals found in many materials used in other water bottles that can leech into your water and, thus, get into your system. Even the straw is medical-grade silicone rather than plain old plastic. Many people opt for aluminum water bottles to avoid these chemicals, but they can make water taste metallic-y and don’t you DARE think about putting any other liquid in one of those bad boys. Unless you’re playing a prank on someone, then I recommend orange juice. When you drink from glass, however, you get the pure taste of that beverage. The whole thing is also dishwasher safe, which makes cleaning a snap.
I got the straw top version in an effort to get the opposite of my daily-wet-tshirt-contest supersoaker, and my first thought was: oh, great. I’m going to have to hold this thing perfectly upright and won’t ever be able to get that final inch of water. I was pleased to see the straw reaches the whole way to the bottom – a novel concept no one else seems to grasp – and I could suck out every last drop without any sort of suctioning noise side effect. And here’s the kicker: it doesn’t spill. The straw snaps securely closed, but even if it’s partially open, you can turn it upside down without spilling a drop. The only time water comes out is when the straw is flipped 100% open, which allows me to throw it in my purse or gym bag without fear. But, I usually hold it by the handy handle so I can show it off, or swing it like a weapon should anyone ask for it. It’s glass, so it can do some damage.
Enter to Win a Lifefactory Glass Water Bottle!
To help you stay hydrated and to help Lifefactory celebrate the release of their new 12 ounce bottles, we are giving you all the chance to win your own 12 ounce straw cap Lifefactory water bottle!
Here are all the ways you can enter:
The giveaway will end October 15th, 2013. You may enter as many times as you’d like until the giveaway ends. The winner will be chosen at random, so the more you enter the better your chances. The winner will be announced on October 16th, and contacted via email, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter depending on the entry chosen. Good luck!
Ever have one of those days when you know what you should be doing, you know why you should be doing it, but you still can’t get yourself to do it? You’ve been at work all day, you’re tired, you’re hungry, and you’ve got a 45-minute HIIT cardio session just staring you down. You’ve been down this path before; you know skipping your workout is the wrong move, but you just don’t want to spend 45 minutes on the treadmill today. The most likely outcome is a half-assed workout, sometimes cut short, that doesn’t do much for your calorie burn, fat loss, or conditioning….basically, all the things you’re working towards. So in effect, it was just a big time waster.
Well, let’s see if we can change that a bit today. The next time you’re not feeling the gym, or are considering cutting your workout short because you know the 5 o’clock traffic home from the gym is unbearable, just stop, take a deep breath, and recall this blog post. We’ve got a little virtual training class called Aerobic Express, and it’s designed specifically to be completed at home, with no equipment, and is perfect for those of you looking to up your calorie burn, cut away the fat, and improve your endurance. If you’re not sure what virtual training means, keep reading, you might just learn a thing or two today…
This class, led by our instructor Casey, is a serious total body conditioning test. Casey quickly shifts between a variety of body weight cardiovascular exercises, plyometric movements, and body weight strength holds, creating a perfect ratio of fat-blasting/muscle-building goodness. Aerobic Express gradually lifts your heart rate through its use of progressively harder exercises, until it peaks and has your heart pumping, sweat dripping, and calories dropping at record speed.
I’m willing to bet you haven’t trained in this style before – does most of your cardio consist of HIIT/treadmill/stationary bike work? If it does, adding a more functional way of training, which hits your entire body in a way it isn’t used to is going to speed up your results.
You see, even cardio training needs to be varied. Most of you guys realize the need to switch up your strength exercises every so often to avoid a plateau, but did you know the same is true for your cardio work? Your body is amazingly efficient, and doing the same type of cardio workout day after day is going to reduce its effectiveness. Throw something at your body it hasn’t seen before, with the cross-training based Aerobic Express.
One of the added benefits of using this exercise class, is the fact Casey is leading you through every rep, of every exercise, in real-time. What this means to you is, instead of following a laundry list of exercises to complete at the gym session you really didn’t want to hit in the first place, you’re now able to follow along with an actual trainer on your screen, leading you through the workout.
By making sure you match Casey’s form and flow, you’re better assured of getting a killer workout. Casey has carefully designed the pace, intensity, and rest intervals to make sure you’re getting the most from this exercise class. All you’ve got to do is follow along, try to hang with him, and let the magic happen.
For you gym rats out there, I know this is a hard thing to get used to. I’m the same way – I love working out in the gym and never considered myself the type to workout in front of my TV or computer monitor. Honestly though, when I need a good kick in the pants and a little help pushing myself, training with an actual trainer leading me through an entire workout is just the answer. There really isn’t a (cheap) substitute to having a trainer push you to match their intensity and pace throughout a workout. Training in this way has really grown on me, and I no longer feel like I can’t get an insane workout from home.
So check out this 30 minute cardio-based fitness class and see why training in this format is growing in popularity. If you’re feeling extra motivated and have a little spare time, consider running through this class twice, circuit-style. That’ll give you one full hour of total body cardiovascular conditioning and close to 800 total calories burned. That’s a huge number people – throwing this class into your routine a few times a week is really going to speed up your fat loss, tighten you up, and get you closer to that ideal body type.
So follow the link below, give this class a shot, and let us know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns.
More often than not, looking to cut corners and speed up your fitness progress is a recipe for disaster. A lot of us get impatient waiting for results, and usually lose our motivation, bounce between plans, and generally end up not much better off from where we started. Well, just because this is often the case, doesn’t mean it’s always the case. There are actually ways to speed up your progress, and today, we’re going to look at a little secret I’m willing to bet not many of you are aware of. I’m going to show you how to get fit faster by employing this one little secret, and once you’ve realized what it is and how powerful it can be, it very well may change how you work out for the rest of your life.
Before we get into this “how to get fit faster” secret, I want to give a little background. This tip I’m about to give you is something I’ve always suspected, but it wasn’t until I decided to put together today’s piece, that I realized just how powerful it really is. I did a bunch of research for today’s article, and found study after study that backs up what I previously thought. The evidence is simply overwhelming, so rest assured this get fit tip is crazy effective, and backed by scientific evidence.
So I’ve really built this up now, haven’t I? Okay, let’s cut to the chase – the way you’re going to get fit faster, make more progress, build more muscle, lose more body fat, or accomplish whatever fitness goal you have…is by using a fitness partner. But wait…this isn’t some lame article where I tell you to work out with a buddy and then send you on your way. That’s not really practical for a lot of you. We’re going to go a little outside the box today and show how ANYONE can instantly get their own workout partner and start making more progress, see better results, and get fit faster than every before.
Let’s get all of the scientific stuff out-of-the-way, right off the bat. As I mentioned above, I did some serious research for today’s post, and what I’ve found has been even more powerful than I imagined. Check it out…
So let’s make sense of this – these studies essentially demonstrate the psychological power an exercise partner has. Surprisingly though, the psychological benefit of an exercise partner is not limited by the physical presence of your partner. What this means is, if you’re in an environment where fitness isn’t a priority, or you don’t have a single friend willing to stick it out at the gym with you, there is still hope. I’m going to show you how to get fit faster by breaking down two out-of-the-box ways you can instantly get that workout partner and start making progress faster than ever before.
The Fitness “Sorority”?
There’s a new trend that has been sweeping campuses across America, and its been led by a group called CHAARG. CHAARG is an on-campus fitness group which traces its roots back to Ohio State University. CHAARG is designed to give college-aged women access to a non-judgemental, supportive, healthy, and fit network of other like-minded girls. Supportive , non-judgemental, and healthy? So yeah, it’s not exactly like a sorority. But the great thing for CHAARG members is the access to a fitness partner, anytime of day, which as we learned above, is a surefire way to speed up your progress and get fit faster. Not only that, CHAARG partners with local gyms and studios to provide complementary group fitness classes to their members. CHAARG really embraces the whole “group” and “partner” thing, which is likely why it’s grown so much in just over a year.
Back in my day, circa 2007, there was a serious lack of fitness-centric groups on campus. The majority of students went to the rec center, worked out on their own, maybe attended a poorly run group fitness class led by some hungover underclassman, and called it a day. CHAARG is attempting to change this by making sure any girl who wants a supportive network of workout partners, has one. It’s a pretty amazing concept that’s been catching on at campuses like wildfire.
CHAARG maintains a very dedicated and loyal base of girls who have made their presence felt across social media. Whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, CHAARG members are all too happy to post pictures, encourage each other, and provide the supportive network that is so beneficial to getting fit and changing one’s life. What really sets CHAARG apart, is the cohesion between different schools. Yes, girls from Ohio State and Michigan are able to happily co-exist and even..gasp…motivate each other to get fit and change their lives for the better. In this sense, CHAARG is like a sorority with various chapters, located around the country.
CHAARG is currently located on campus at:
If you’re currently enrolled at one of the schools CHAARG is located, I’d definitely suggest checking them out. If you’re not, they’re currently expanding to new campuses, so shoot them an email and see if/when they’re coming to your school. Fitness is changing, it’s becoming more social, it’s becoming more of a lifestyle thing, so it’s time to embrace that. I know making it snow at 3 in the morning is fun and all, but if you want to hang with some of the most supportive, fit, and healthy girls on campus, you might want to start looking to groups like CHAARG.
Living in the Real World?
So you’re no longer in college, nor do you have any friends who care about exercise…what do you do? Well, as I came to find out during my research, your workout partner doesn’t have to be physically present to help you make better results or achieve high levels of fitness faster. This is where the whole “virtual” partner thing comes in, and it’s something we’ve been working to perfect here at Share It Fitness.
I know it’s hard to find a workout partner – hell, I live in San Diego, one of the fittest cities in the country, a place where nearly everyone is in shape and works out, and it’s STILL hard for me to find a workout partner. With different schedules, the unexpectedness of life, and a host of other reasons, having someone who is committed to maintaining the same workout schedule as you can be a challenge.
For that reason, we’ve been developing OnDemand fitness videos that replicate the experience of working out with an actual personal trainer. This “virtual” partner is there to motivate you while they lead you through a full-length workout. This is the basis for FitPlan, which is our customized video fitness program we launched just last week. For all of you people living in the “real world”, FitPlan is your way to get that virtual workout partner, reap all the benefits, and never have to worry about “what workout should I do today”, again. To get a better idea what FitPlan is all about, check out this short video clip…
With FitPlan, it really is like having your own personal trainer, or fitness buddy, right there to motivate and guide you through that day’s workout. We try to leverage the psychological benefits of working out with a partner, in an effort to help you get fit faster than ever before and keep feelings of burn out at bay. If you’re interested in learning how to get fit faster and understanding how FitPlan can help, click that link and check it out on our site.
Putting it All Together
The next time you ask yourself, “how do I get fit faster”, remember, it’s often a culmination of the little things that makes the big differences. By using a workout partner, studies showed exercisers were able to work nearly twice as long with a higher and more sustained intensity. Adding just an extra 15 minutes of (better) exercise a day, can have a huge impact. Over the course of a year, that comes out to roughly 60 extra hours of work! Think about that….60 extra hours of exercise translates to about an extra two months of workouts a year! What if you exercised an extra two months each year…how much more progress would you be making?
To maximize the psychological benefits of a workout partner, remember, it doesn’t matter if your partner is in person or virtual – just be sure to look to your partner for motivation, try to find someone who is just a bit fitter than you, and strive to match their pace and intensity. Whether you’re looking at an on-campus group like CHAARG, or opting for a virtual trainer with FitPlan, rest assured you’re taking neccessary steps to get fit, improve your health, and transform your body.
Many of you are probably already familiar with your vital signs; body temperature, pulse rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure. These are typically the things your doctor is looking at when you’re in for a check up. Aside from your body temperature, the other three factors can be improved, largely through your exercise regimen.
But today, we’re looking at four other vital signs you may not have been aware of – your athletic vital signs. Before we get into exactly what they are, let me first say, regardless of who you are, what you do, or your current level of fitness ability, striving to increase your athletic vital signs should be a top priority. I don’t care if you’re a stay-at-home mom who couldn’t care less about becoming more athletic – increasing your athletic vital signs is going to help you achieve your weight loss or fitness goals faster. Much faster.
Reason being, when you condition yourself properly, and gradually increase your athleticism, you inevitably change how your body looks and acts. Most athletes are known for their low levels of body fat, high metabolic rates, and lean muscle mass – this stuff isn’t a happening as a coincidence. The way they train and the intensity at which they train at are the contributing factors to their great bodies and health. Just last week I wrote about the 8 best exercises to increase your athletic skill set, so today, I’m getting even more specific and talking about what you can do to directly affect your four athletic vital signs. So stick with me and you’ll soon find out what your athletic vital signs are, how you can improve them, and the results you can expect.
As I mentioned, you’ve got four athletic vital signs. They are…
The above four vitals are common traits found in most athletes. Training to increase all four of these characteristics is vital to becoming more athletic, and turning your body into a lean, mean, fat burning machine. Again, it doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, or how fit you currently are; anyone can train to increase their athletic vital signs, as you’re about to find out.
Speed is a vital component to nearly all athletes. Being “fast” is a result of having a higher number of fast-twitch muscle fibers in your lower body, all firing at peak potential. The side effect of having a high number of fast-twitch muscle fibers means a great metabolism, which is going to lead to overall decreases in body fat accumulation. Speed training is the result of strengthening your current fast-twitch muscle fibers AND gradually turning the slow-twitch fibers into fast-twitch. Granted, you can only work within the framework you’ve been given, you can still make significant strides and increase your speed, and overall leanness.
Exercises to increase speed: Dumbbell squat jumps, speed squats, barbell squats, long jumps, weighted speed skaters, lateral bench hops.
Being able to generate a lot of power, in a short period of time, is a hallmark of great athletes. Whether we’re talking upper or lower body power, being explosive is important. Training to increase your explosiveness is going to help you pack on lean muscle, and develop a shapely, toned physique. Remember, increasing muscle and lowering body fat should be the goal – NOT strict weight loss. By increasing your explosive power, you’re going to do just add – continue to add muscle while stripping away stubborn body fat.
Exercises to increase explosive power: Deadlift/Box Jump supersets, drop and catch bench presses, kettlebell swings, clean and press, barbell Russian lunges, plyo push ups, med ball slams.
Typically the most overlooked of the four athletic vital signs, flexibility may very well be the most important. Maintaining a limber an flexible body isn’t only going to help protect your from injury, it’s actually going to help you improve your appearance. How’s that you wonder? Well, when you engage in flexibility training, you’re actually stretching your myofascial sheaths – the covering that holds your muscle. When you stretch this muscle covering, you’re actually giving the muscle more room to grow. You want lean, long, and shapely muscles? Then get started on loosing up your myofascia.
Exercises in increase explosive power: Yoga, foam rolling, yoga, static stretching, oh, and more yoga.
Short Burst Endurance
Short burst endurance is your ability to perform near 100% intensity for short time intervals Now, how “short” is short? Well that depends on your short burst endurance. Training to increase short burst endurance is important for a couple of reasons. First, it allows you to perform faster and stronger for greater periods of time, thereby allowing you to do more work and make more progress. Secondly, short burst endurance training burns a ton of calories and WILL lean you out quickly. The key to improving this vital sign is 100% max intensity – if you’re going at 50% you’re not doing anything for your short burst endurance. Remember, we’re going for intensity over length of workout here. If you’re performing a max intensity exercise or drill for 2-3 minutes, then you’re not training at 100% max intensity.
Exercises to increase short burst endurance: HIIT sprints, 10 yard sprints, metabolic conditioning routines.
To bring it all together, it doesn’t matter who you are; training to increase your athletic vital signs should be a key component to what you’re doing. When I train my clients, regardless of their goals, I always have a secondary goal of making them more athletic. Some of them may put up a fight initially, but over time, the benefits are too obvious to ignore. Becoming more athletic is the sure-fire way to achieving a better body and health.
I want you to examine your current training regimen, analyze the exercises you’re doing, think about how you train, and see if there’s any way to start including some of the exercises and techniques I discussed in today’s article. If you’re like most people, there’s almost always a way to start exercising in a better, smarter way, that increases your athleticism AND delivers the body of your dreams. Once you figure out what that way is, the sky becomes your only limit.
Have any questions or need specific workout advice? Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you in no time.
I think it’s safe to say most of us would agree being “strong” is a good thing. Being strong, physically or emotionally, is generally a desirable trait. It makes sense then, that when most of us train, we’re training to increase our strength. For most people, they associate training to be strong with resistance training (i.e. lifting weights). However, being “strong” extends beyond the power of our muscles. Perhaps not as obvious, but we also train to become stronger when we perform cardiovascular exercise (i.e. running sprints). When we have a strong cardiovascular system we have a heightened endurance, a healthy heart and lungs, and the ability to perform long bouts of work without keeling over in complete exhaustion. Or in other words, we’re moving into “sexy strong” territory.
Unfortunately, a disproportionate number of people aren’t training for a well-rounded body of strength, or what I’ll refer to as “sexy strong”. Sexy strong is a body with not only impressive muscular strength, but a low-level of body fat, great flexibility, a tremendous endurance, and healthy and well-functioning internal organs and vital signs.
On the flip side, there’s something I like to call “fat strong”. Someone like either of the two guys pictured below would be what I’d consider fat strong.
From a muscular standpoint these guys are obscenely strong, there’s no doubt about that. But that’s where the impressiveness of their abilities ends. They’ve got high levels of body fat, low levels of flexibility, and I’m guessing a poorly trained cardiovascular system, which leaves them at great risk for heart disease as they age.
The idea of becoming a big, bulky, block of muscle is what most women fear more than death, public speaking, or being locked in a box full of snakes with laser beams attached to their heads. This is the reason so many women shy away from lifting weights…let alone weights heavy enough to make a difference.
Of course, being fat strong doesn’t have to be like the example illustrated above. Fat strong could be that girl on the treadmill who does tons of cardio but still has a layer of exercise resistant body fat because she refuses to pick up a weight and actually get her metabolism moving. You don’t need to be built like a tank to be fat strong. A disproportionate level of fitness or only placing a focus on one element of your health is all it takes.
It’s time to realize that developing real muscular strength doesn’t have to be associated with getting gigantic. Here’s a real-life example which served as the motivation for today’s post….
A couple of weeks ago I went to an indoor rock climbing gym with a buddy who climbs. After making our way to the wall and giving it a go, I realized just how difficult rock climbing really is. A short while later, as I was sitting on the mats tending to my blistered and bloody hands, I took notice of some of the people around me. All of them…..literally, ALL OF THEM were skinny, yet incredibly defined. These skinny people were scaling up the wall like monkeys, pulling off climbs I could only dream about making. These same people were rocking out two finger pull ups on a climbing board on the other side of the gym. I was surrounded by dozens of skinny guys and girls, with seemingly not much muscle, but strength that was almost beyond imagination. What’s the moral of the story? Training to become strong and turning into a big, bulky, neckless wonder doesn’t need to go hand in hand. You can become strong..very, very strong, without giving up your physique.
This is what you need to remind yourself the next time you’re afraid of picking up a weight because you think you’re going to instantly morph into Ray Lewis. Getting that big takes work; it takes a lot of eating. If you’re not eating for super size, you’re not going to have to worry about turning into a giant.
On the other side of the spectrum we have the people who only focus on lifting weights and forget another important aspect of sexy strong; building a strong cardiovascular system. When you focus on bulking up and forget about the rest of your fitness, you’re putting yourself on the fast track to becoming a giant mound of muscle, incapable of much else besides being able to lift heavy objects in linear fashion. No functionality, no practicality, just strong for the sake of being strong.
So if you’re looking for a well-rounded and healthy body, inside and out, it’s vital to focus your efforts on becoming sexy strong. Take a well-rounded approach to your fitness and don’t neglect any one of the three pillars of your health. These pillars include:
So what do you do? How do you achieve sexy strong and avoid the pitfalls of fat strong? Simply put, use a fitness routine that encompasses a wide range of fitness discipline and training methodologies. This is something I’ve employed here at Share It Fitness, as well as with my real-world clients. I call it Body Diversity Training, and I truly believe it’s the best and most effective way to build an incredibly fit and healthy body.
Training in this manner would mean using a variety of different cardiovascular workouts, varying your strength exercises, and including elements of yoga, pilates, and other fitness disciplines to ensure a well-rounded level of fitness.
So wherever you’re starting out, you have a choice to make – doesn’t matter if you’re beginning your fitness journey 80 lbs overweight or you’re already at 12% body fat and looking to take things to another level. Making the conscious decision to be sexy strong is the best decision you can possibly make. Train all three pillars of your health and your reward will be a great body and health for years to come.