12 Easy Steps for those Holiday Abs

holday-abs

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi everyone, spring has arrived and summer is on it’s way, bringing with it the promise of warm weather to come. We all know what happens when the weather warms up here or abroad. People have to put on the dreaded bathing suits.

Are you ready to bare it all on the beach? If not, no worries, there is still time. Follow these 12 steps to get your holiday abs ready:

Step One: Do Some Burpees. Can burpees really help flatten your abs? You bet. Incorporate a few minutes of burpees into your workouts to burn extra calories and tighten your core.

Here’s how to do a burpee: 1) Stand with feet shoulder width apart. 2) Drop to a squat with your hands on the ground. 3) Kick feet back while lowering into a push-up. 4) Return to squat position. 5) Jump up with arms overhead.

Step Two: Reduce Sodium. Did you know that salt causes water retention? Puffy skin is not going to make your abs look great in a bathing suit!

Take the time to pay attention to the sodium content of your food. Limit salt intake by not eating packaged foods and by putting down the salt shaker. Your six pack will thank you.

Step Three: Pick Up A Medicine Ball. Challenging the muscles of your core with resistance is a proven way to create a tighter midsection. The medicine ball is a wonderful tool to provide such resistance.

Do a sit-up holding a medicine ball at your chest then throw it to a partner as you raise your chest toward your knees; or hold a medicine ball with arms straight up in the air as you do crunches.

Step Four: Load Up On Fiber. Wonder how fiber could help you shed pounds and look great on the beach? It’s actually quite simple.

High fiber foods are nutrient dense and low in calories. This means that you’ll feel full from fewer calories, encouraging weight loss. Try these high fiber favorites: spinach, raspberries, pear (with skin), artichoke, peas, apples (with skin), broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and carrots. Check out the high-fiber recipe for pasta salad below.

Step Five: Crank Out Some V-Sits. One of the most problematic areas for women, when it comes to baring it all in a bathing suit, are the sides of your waist, or obliques. This is partly because the sides of your abs are not challenged with traditional crunches and sit-ups.

Enter the oblique V-Sits. Target that problematic, muffin-top area with this effective move. 1) Lie on your side with legs straight and hands behind your head. 2) Raise your arms and legs simultaneously, while exhaling and squeezing your obliques. 3) Repeat on the other side.

Step Six: Eat Lots Of Lean Protein. Don’t be afraid to eat when you are on the get-great-abs-quickly plan. It is really important that you are nourishing your body with quality, lean protein in order to develop that six-pack.

Lean protein helps support muscle growth while controlling blood sugar – all important factors when it come to washboard abs. Good sources of protein include: chicken breast, ground turkey, egg whites, and grilled fish.

Step Seven: Do Some Hanging Leg Raises. Now it’s time to target your lower abs, which are also a problem area for most. Traditional crunches and sit-ups neglect to strengthen and tighten the lower part of your abs, so a focused effort is required.

Hanging Leg Raises are one of the most effective ways to strengthen your abdominals. 1) Hang from pull-up bar with legs fully extended. 2) Exhale and drive your knees up toward your chest. 3) Inhale as you slowly lower your legs back down.

Step Eight: Stop Eating Sugar. If you only did this step, and skipped all the rest, your abs would look significantly flatter by summer. I can’t emphasize enough how quickly sugar will cover your hard earned stomach muscles with a soft layer of fat.

Yes, sugar tastes good, but indulging in it causes your body to store layers of fat. Enjoy fresh fruit, rather than refined sugar. Once you stop eating sugar your body will no longer crave it, so don’t give in to the initial cravings.

Step Nine: Do Some Mountain Climbers. Here’s an exercise that is intensely cardiovascular while also working your core. Add these to your routine to really whittle down your waistline.

Here’s how to do a Mountain Climber: 1) Get into push-up position. 2) Exhale as you alternately drive your knees in toward your chest, keeping your back flat.

Step Ten: Pass On The Grains. Sure, whole grains are being touted as essential to a healthy diet, but the truth is that you’ll do just fine without them for a while. Even the heartiest wholegrain bread will encourage fat storage, so put down the breadbasket as you prepare for beach season.

Grains are full of insulin-spiking carbohydrates – the perfect combination for fattening you up. Learn to love grain-free meals that center around lean meats and vegetables.

Step Eleven: Do Some Sprints. High intensity bursts of cardio are a proven way to burn away layers of fat, so incorporate sprints into your exercise routine. If you haven’t run for a while, take it easy as you start, and gradually increase the intensity of your sprints.

Run 60-90 second sprints in between resistance training sets to really kick your fat burning mechanism into high gear.

Step Twelve: Start A Professional Fitness Program. You wouldn’t try to file corporate tax returns without the assistance of your CPA, so why would you attempt to transform your body without the help of a professional? I’m here to get you into your ideal, fit body in the shortest amount of time possible. It’s what I do, and I’m good at it.

Contact me about my tummy flattening programs that will get you those washboard abs that you’re wishing for. Call or email today to get started.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) safe or dangerous?

HIIT

This week I want to talk about high intensity interval training (HIIT) and look at it’s benefits and potential risks.

The Question of Body Fat?

I often ask my new clients, “who has less body fat, a Sprinter or a Marathon runner?” The answer I receive is almost always “a Marathon runner of course.”

The correct answer, however, is a sprinter. You can understand why they get it wrong, since they’ve been told over and over again that in order to burn fat you have to do continuous aerobic cardio work at a low to moderate intensity. This is in evidence at most gyms where the treadmill enthusiasts spend hours aimlessly running at low speeds but never seem to get any thinner. On the contrary sprinters do almost zero continuous aerobic work, yet they have less body-fat. How is this possible?

The reason is rooted in the intense nature of their training. The higher the intensity (i.e. “Intensity” is the percentage of the Maximum Heart Rate, not the intensity of effort) the more calories per minute burned during the workout. In addition (and more important,) caloric expenditure is increased for 24-48 hours post workout giving an amazing ‘after-burn’ effect.

Raising the Intensity of Your Training

The way for individuals to raise the intensity of their training is to do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Interval Training alternates bouts of high-intensity exercise with that of low to moderate-intensity exercise. Recent studies have shown that Interval Training is more effective for fat loss while improving both Aerobic and Anaerobic fitness. HIIT causes metabolic adaptations that enable you to use more fat as fuel under a variety of conditions. This will improve your athletic endurance as well as your fat-burning potential. HIIT also appears to limit muscle loss that can occur with weight loss, in comparison to traditional steady-state cardio exercise.

This is a winning formula whichever way you look at it, and is the reason many highly qualified fitness professionals, including myself, regularly incorporate HIIT in our clients training programmes at the appropriate time.

But is HIIT dangerous?

This would appear to be the case if you believe everything that the BBC’s Political Editor Andrew Marr has been saying in the press. In a recent interview he said the reason he suffered a massive stroke was due to a bout of high intensity interval training he did one evening on the rowing machine at his gym. This caused him to tear the carotid artery in his neck leading to an overnight brain bleed and his subsequent stroke. Now I have nothing against Andrew Marr personally and I certainly wish him well in his recovery, however I do feel he has jumped to an ill-informed conclusion and scared people unnecessarily.

Why do I think this? Well delving below the surface the facts just don’t support his view. Firstly he had two minor strokes, or “funny turns” as he called them, in the previous 6 months, which he had ignored. And while there are often no warning signs before a stroke, many strokes are preceded by these mini-ones called transient ischaemic attacks (TIAs). One in ten people who have a TIA will go on to have a much bigger stroke within 90 days if left untreated. So he was definitely already at risk even before he climbed on the rowing machine.

Secondly he admitted to being under a huge amount of stress and overworking in the lead up to the final stroke which may well have led to high blood pressure, a well-known risk factor for a stroke.

Thirdly there is no empirical evidence to support Marr’s view. This view is backed up by Exercise Scientist Professor Jamie Timmons of Loughborough University in a recent interview. He has studied the benefits of high intensity interval training in great detail – including lower cholesterol, stabilised blood sugar and regulated blood pressure if done regularly – and he says there is no evidence it can be harmful. “The fact that Marr had a stroke is extremely unfortunate but I see no evidence that it can be explained by the fact that he underwent short bouts of high-intensity exercise. While the two events may have broadly coincided, there is not a shred of evidence that they were causally linked”.

This is further supported by Peta Bee the health and fitness correspondent of the Times “Although the intense effort while rowing may have led him to tearing the carotid artery which takes blood into the brain, studies have shown that in susceptible people, even the slightest vigorous activity – such as sneezing or laughing – can trigger a rise in blood pressure that leads to a ruptured aneuryism. Marr, having had two previous minor strokes was treading a thin line”.

So it would be fair say that in Andrew Marr’s – very public case – the interval training was more than likely the straw that broke the camel’s back but not the underlying cause. He was, I might add, a regular gym goer and runner who was accustomed to training hard and by his own admission was in good shape physically. This would not normally place him in a high risk bracket for high intensity interval training. However, it must be emphasised that HIIT is a very demanding form of exercise and should only be used by people who are physically and cardiovascularly capable.

My Guidelines for safe HIIT

1) If you have any cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure or other health concerns (such as previous strokes) that limit your ability to exercise at very intense levels, or if you are relatively new to aerobic exercise or not already in good shape, HIIT is not for you.

2) Ensure you are at a good level of fitness before attempting HIIT. By this I mean you should be able to jog, swim or cycle continuously for 30 minutes at a moderate intensity (70-80% of your estimated maximum heart rate) without exhausting yourself or having problems.

3) Because HIIT is physically demanding, it’s important to gradually build up your interval training program so that your body adapts to the intensity. If you are unsure how do to this consult with a registered exercise professional.

4) Always warm up and cool down for at least ten minutes before and after each HIIT session.

5) Wear a heart rate monitor and never let your pulse rate exceed 95% of your maximum heart rate (estimated at 220 minus your age). This would be 162 bpm for a 50 year old. If your heart rate does not drop back down to about 70% of your max during recovery intervals, you may need to shorten your work intervals and/or lengthen your recovery intervals.

6) If you experience any chest pain or breathing difficulties during your HIIT workout, cool down immediately. (Don’t just stop or else blood can pool in your extremities and lightheadedness or faintness can occur

I hope you found this informative.

Cheers

The truth about those common exercise myths

There are plenty of exercise misconceptions out in the world, some of which may be holding you back from your best body.

Do the following 5 exercise myths sound familiar? This may be exactly what you need to hear.

1) Exercise on an empty stomach burns more fat.

This theory says that if there’s no fuel in your body to burn then you’ll end up burning fat, but research has proven otherwise. Instead of pulling the energy from stored fat, there’s a better chance that your body will look to energy in your bloodstream and muscle stores. Further drawbacks to exercising on an empty stomach include shortened workouts due to lack of stamina, and dizziness or nausea from low blood sugar.

Instead of going hungry, enjoy a small, nutritious snack about 90 minutes before you exercise.

2) Cardio is more effective for weight loss than weights. 

For some reason women seem to love the idea that they will burn more fat by running on a treadmill than by lifting dumbbells. Sorry ladies, but cardio alone is never as effective as a routine that also includes resistance training. Strength training is essential for building lean tissue, which increases your metabolism and decreases your body fat.

If your goal is weight loss, then make friends with some dumbbells.

3) If you exercise enough, then you can eat anything you want.

This myth makes me cringe, as I’ve seen so many people throw away their hard-earned fitness results by overeating. Even if you exercise daily at an intense rate, your diet still matters. To top it off, most people overestimate how many calories they burn as well as underestimating how many calories they are eating. This can be a fattening combo.

For best results, maintain a calorie-controlled diet filled with fresh, wholesome ingredients.

4) For optimal fat burn, exercise longer at a low intensity. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if this one were true? Then instead of pushing it hard in the gym we could all simply go for a nice, long stroll to burn fat. Umm, usually if something sounds too good to be true that’s because it is too good to be true.

Intensity matters when it comes to getting great results, so challenge yourself.

5) Unless you exercise often, exercise is a waste of time. 

I hear this myth in the form of an excuse from people who haven’t started an exercise program due to the idea that they won’t be able to exercise enough to make it count. Research continues to prove that any exercise is better than zero exercise. So if you can only exercise once a week? Still do it.

The Benefits of Skipping

boxing and skippingToday’s blog is on the benefits of high intensity cardiovascular exercise. One recent published study showed that the old playground favourite skipping could have real benefits to reducing appetite.

The theory being that rapid up and down movement during skipping disturbs the gut and interferes with the release of hunger hormones, inducing an increase in the release of satiety gut peptides.

There has been a number of similar studies that have shown that high intensity short duration sprints results in a greater reduction in fat mass compared with moderate intensity continuous cycling by reducing hunger feelings and subsequent food intake.

If this isn’t enough to get you back in the skipping saddle then consider these additional benefits:

1) Skipping is a cheap and fun way to get fit.

2) It improves your stamina, balance and co-ordination.

3) It tones lower and upper body (unlike running) Including arms (biceps, triceps), shoulders and chest. Skipping is approximately 40% upper body and 60% lower body activity.

4) It’s a great high intensity fat-burner – 100 to 150 calories per 10 minutes, depending on speed. Skipping can help you burn up to 450 calories in just 30 minutes about twice as many calories as walking.

5) It has less impact on ankle and knee joints than running. As it’s all done on your toes and the front of your feet, an area that has great natural padding. Skippers do not generally get injured to the extent that runners do.

6) It strengthens your bones since skipping is weight bearing, it boosts a person’s bone density, helping to keep off osteoporosis.

7) Professional footballers, boxers, swimmers, skiers, tennis players, martial artists, rugby players and many more, enjoy the benefits of skipping as part of their daily workout routine to improve stamina, footwork skills muscle tone and to lose weight.

If that’s not a convincing argument then I give up….

Listen to my BBC Local Radio Interview

Skipping is even reaching the airwaves now. Cick below to listen to me talking to Trish Adudu on BBC Coventry & Warwickshire on the benefits of skipping….

Audio

5 Myths of Strength Training

Are you currently doing any strength or resistance training? If not you should be. The truth is that strength training is one of the absolute best things you can do for your health and appearance.

If you’ve fallen for any of the following 5 myths then you’re missing out on tremendous potential results.

Myth #1 Muscle Turns Into Fat

Why would anyone want to build muscle if it could morph into fat after a span of disuse? Rest assured that this is a myth of the highest order.

Muscle tissue is muscle tissue. Fat tissue is fat tissue. One will never become the other.

Myth #2 Strength Training Doesn’t Burn Fat

On the contrary, muscle mass is your number one ally against fat gains.

A pound of muscle burns 10-20 calories each day, while you’re just living and breathing. Regular strength training helps you increase your muscle mass as well as preserve existing muscle mass, turning you into a fat burning machine.

Myth #3 Lifting Weights Makes Women Bulk Up

Yes, strength training increases the amount of muscle on your body; so many women take this to mean that their body will become body-builder-esque, which is quite the look you’re going for.

The truth is that the female body simply doesn’t contain high enough levels of testosterone to produce that level of results without a very focused and dedicated effort.The tighter, toned figure of a recreational female weight lifter is every bit feminine.

Myth #4 Strength Training Is For Young People Only

This is just not true. Strength training is essential as you get older to maintain muscle mass. As a rule, muscle mass declines with age, starting in the 40’s and picking up speed after about age 50. Then the typical rate of muscle wastage really begins to outpace the rate of muscle gain.

Assuming that your doctor has given you the OK, you have much to gain from a regular weight lifting routine. Improved balance and coordination, better strength and flexibility, and a decreased risk of osteoporosis are just the beginning.

Myth #5 Use Light Weight and High Reps To Tone

This myth, popularized in the 90’s, that very high repetitions of very light weights would result in a toned physique, has become outdated. These high repetitions will increase your muscular endurance but will not add strength or tone.

We now know that in order to truly challenge your muscles, heavier weights with lower repetitions are a must. Start with an 8-10 repetition range and push your muscles with each set. Higher repetition ranges can be effective for muscle toning by pairing two complementary exercises together and completing 8-12 reps of each without a break, this is known as a superset. The weight however must be challenging. Personally I love supersets in my own workouts as it increases the intensity of the workout by packing more work into a shorter period of time meaning I finish earlier!

Including strength training as a part of your fitness routine is essential for achieving a fit and toned body.

My custom-made personal fitness programs remove all of the guesswork for you. I know what works, and I make it my mission to see you reach your goals.

Call or email today and we’ll get you started on the program that’s best for you.

A New You!

Don’t believe the adage that “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

Advances in neuroimaging techniques prove that the brain actually has dynamic properties throughout life. This means that your brain is always evolving. Through practice, you are able to change your habits and change yourself.

So go on, create a new you!

Five steps to accelerate your fat loss

To help you overcome frustrating plateaus or to accelerate your current fat loss results I’ve pulled together some excellent fat loss tips from The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss.

Background Tim Ferriss 4-Hour Body

Tim Ferris – body transition

Tim Ferriss is the acclaimed author of the bestselling books The 4-Hour Work Week and The 4-Hour Body. Tim is a lifestyle guru in the most profound sense. He doesn’t so much lecture about “lifestyle” as live it, breath it, write best-selling books about it. He has spent the past 15 years using himself as a real life guinea pig across and testing out every diet, supplement and weight loss premise to figure out what really works with the minimal amount of effort. He demonstrated on himself and clients and showed that it was possible to lose 20 pounds in 30 days and increase your fat burning potential by 300% by making simple changes.
Tim Ferriss 4-Hour Body is about making the smallest changes in a consistent way that result in the biggest desired impact. The idea is to not spend a lot of time and effort but to achieve profound changes. From the book I have selected the following clever fat loss tips:

1. Consume 30 grams of Protein within 30 Minutes of Waking Up.

Research shows that breakfast eaters live longer and stay leaner. Tim Ferriss performed a variety of studies that showed the 30/30 Rule to be one of the keys to fast fat loss. Tim encourages the consumption of 30g of protein within 30 minutes of waking up.

Tim Ferriss says that this is critical because it starts your day off with the right fat burning hormones. For some people when they begin morning protein consumption, their weight-loss can initially slow down. Tim Ferriss explained this in very simple terms. Most people are walking around being protein deficient. When they start protein consumption, their muscles finally get enough, and they start to grow. So while they’re losing weight, they’re gaining muscle, their body composition is changing, but their weight is not going down all that quickly.

What’s 30g of protein?

  • 5 medium eggs
  • 1 can of tuna + 1 medium egg
  • 1-1.5 scoops of Protein shake made of unflavored whey protein
  • Scrambled eggs (2 eggs) with a chunk of cheese and two turkey sausages.

2. Drink More Water.
Your urine should be clear. Tim Ferriss has found that a higher water consumption helps increase fat loss. Research also proves this.

3. Replace the Milk in Your Coffee with Almond Milk or Cream and Add Cinnamon.
Tim Ferriss found that removing milk from your diet and especially from your morning coffee makes a huge impact on fat loss. Milk is highly insulingenic, which means it spikes your insulin levels and causes you to gain fat. By replacing the milk with real cream (not low-fat or non-fat cream, but real, full-fat cream OR almond milk) and adding 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, you can control your insulin levels and help prevent fat gain.
In fact, cinnamon can be added to all your meals to help you control your insulin levels. All it takes is 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon sprinkled over your food or added to your protein shakes/smoothies.

4. Cheat Day every 7th Day
Tim Ferriss recommends for six days, you stick rigidly to your low carb diet and consume only protein, fat and vegetables, drink water, decaffeinated coffee and a glass of red wine a night.

Tim rules are to “Avoid any carbohydrate that is — or can be — white. The following foods are thus prohibited, except for within 1.5 hours of finishing a resistance-training workout of at least 20 minutes in length: bread, rice, cereal, potatoes, pasta and fried food with breading. If you avoid eating anything white, you’ll be safe.” He also recommends no fruit or fruit juice is consumed due to their high fructose (fruit sugar) content.

Then on your seventh day, you can eat all the foods you want – pasta, pizza, bread, ice cream, chocolate, fruit or whatever else your heart desires. Tim says that dramatically spiking caloric intake in this way once per week increases fat loss by ensuring that your metabolic rate (thyroid function, etc.) doesn’t down-regulate from intentional or unintentional caloric restriction.

In my opinion if you think you are disciplined enough to do this plan, try it for four weeks and see how it works for you.

5. Minimise diet “mistakes” through grapefruit and squats.
Tim Ferriss experimented with different ways of reducing the negative impact of eating poor junk foods. Tim discovered that you have roughly one hour from when you eat junk food to eat half a grapefruit and perform a short fast set of bodyweight exercises to counteract the “mistake”. The combination appears to open up your receptors in the muscles so that the glucose from the consumed calories is preferentially directed into your muscle cells to become fuel rather than being deposited in you fat cells.

You could do one round of a typical 5-exercise circuit, performing 60 seconds of work and 10 secs rest between exercises for a quick 4 minute workout:

  • Bodyweight Squats
  • Press-ups – floor or inclined with you hands on a raised surface
  • Reverse Lunges with arms up
  • Static Wall Squats