Don’t Forget It…

Add a little Negativity to your workout…

I can’t get my biceps to feel sore anymore!  And I hate it!  I used to love the feeling of heavy arms after a workout, like blocks of cement were just filling up in there.  But, I just can’t seem to leave an arm workout without a feeling of complete exhaustion in my biceps anymore.  I also don’t feel like I can lift weight that is much heavier than I do now.  So, something else needs to change.  I understand that the feeling of soreness is not necessarily a good indicator of an amazing workout (I did glutes on Tuesday and still can’t sit on the toilet!), but I do enjoy that heavy feeling in the muscles after a good workout.  I have supersetted them, changed rest time between sets, and switched up my routine some.  I think what I am going to do next is focus on the negatives.

When lifting weights, your muscle actually goes through two contractions.  Most people think of the actual lift of the weight as the only part of the lift.  But, there is a second part.  Let’s use the Bicep curl as an example to explain both parts of the lift.  The concentric contraction is when you take the weight and lift it up towards the body.  The muscle fibers are actually shortening during this phase to pull the load up towards the body.  As you bring the weight back down to its starting position, this phase is called the eccentric contraction.  The muscle fibers are lengthening to help lower and control bringing the load back down.  Most people starting off don’t realize that an eccentric contraction is even happening or the importance of this phase of the lift.  If you didn’t have eccentric muscle contractions, you wouldn’t be able to sit down in a chair.

For my Bicep workout I’m going to focus more on the eccentric contraction, which is also called the negative contraction.  I’m going to spend more time lowering the weight down to its starting position, and not so much on the lift itself.  From everything I have read, this is a good change in your routine, but not something you want to do every workout.  It can really exhaust your muscles and you want to give yourself adequate rest.  It also takes a little more time because you are spending more time each rep on lowering the weight back down.  I’m going to do this next Thursday when I do bi’s and tri’s and I will let you know how it goes.  Here’s an informative article from explaining negative training.

Kick your own butt and Lose weight doing it…

Ok!  You want to kick your own butt, increase your aerobic and anaerobic capacity, and burn calories well after your workout is over…all within 4 minutes?  Who doesn’t want this?  There is a form of training that can provide all of this for you, but it definitely takes some dedication, lots of towels to wipe the sweat that is pouring off your body, and maybe even a garbage can for some well deserved vomit.
Tabata Training.  Tabata training is taking an exercise, or a series of exercises, and performing them 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off for 4 minutes, non-stop, at 100% capability.  You can perform Tabata Training with pretty much any type of exercise: running, swimming, jumprope, biking, weight training, combination of exercises (mountain climbers, squates, burpees, plyo (jump) drills,….).

I have done Tabata training with sprints.  I sprint full effort for 20 seconds and walk for 10 seconds.  I do this continous for 4 full minutes.  You end up performing 8 total sets in this 4 minutes.  And let me tell you, 10 seconds of rest is nothing!  When my 20 second sprint ends, I’m into my 10 second rest still trying to slow down, and then 10 seconds is up and back into my sprints.  It’s a very rough workout, but you feel like you have taken over the world when you finish it!

Some advice that I have read says that trying to get through 6 sets the first couple of times is where you should set your mark.  This means start off following the 20 seconds on 10 seconds off, but if you feel like you truly can’t make it another 20 seconds on, extend your rest set a little longer.  This means you will accomplish less sets in the 4 minutes, but you still are performing each set to exertion.  It’s also extremely important to warm up before Tabata training.  If you jump right into this without warming up and stretching your muscles, you can really injure yourself.  Get in a 5-10 minute warm-up. Do some dynamic stretching.  And, do a few sets of the exercises you are performing at around 60%  your maximum effort.  This will help to loosen up a little more and see where your pace and endurance is at.  End with a 5 minute cool down and some more stretching (static).

I’ve provided some links with more info on Tabata training below, if you don’t believe anything I’ve said.  The last link has a lot of good info and some great Tabato workouts and videos.

T-Nation-Tabata Training info

Good background info on Tabata Training

T-Nation-some good workouts here

NUTRITION: Metabolism, meals and keeping your company above water…

I’m sure you have heard before how your body is comparable to that of a car; no fuel, no go.  You don’t put dirt in your gas tank and expect it to run.  And you don’t wait for your tank to be completely empty before filling it up.

Your body is the same way.  If you fill it with garbage, it’s not going to last as long and be as healthy as it should be.  And, you shouldn’t wait until you are starving to fill your tank!

You need to understand a little about metabolism.  Metabolism is a process that the body goes through and its basic purpose is to provide your body with the energy it needs to function.  Through a series of chemical reactions (and I’m not a scientist, so the rest is up to them!) your metabolism is what takes food, breaks it down, and converts it in to energy.  You then use that energy for everyday functions…including working out!

Here is where your metabolism will begin to fail…with age, certain diseases (if you experience weight gain with no cause or change in diet and exercise, it’s recommended that you check up with your doctor), and it will fail, most importantly, by how you fuel it!!

People feel that if they eat less, they will gain less.  If they skip breakfast, they will lose more weight.  They couldn’t be farther from the truth.  When you stop feeding your body, your metabolism has nothing to break down.  After hours and hours of not eating, you then decide to eat your first meal.  You know how you feel when your alarm clock goes off on an early Monday morning after a long weekend?  That’s how your metabolism feels when its first meal of the day is lunch.  It’s tired.  It doesn’t want to wake up and it’s working at a slow pace.  It never had a good breakfast to wake it up and get its day started.

The other thing people do to mess with their metabolism is by eating a few meals throughout the day and stuffing themselves during that time.  Think of your metabolism as a machine.  If you throw too much into the machine at once, it’s going to jam up and not process everything.  This makes your metabolism slower and your body now has a harder time breaking down food for energy and food starts getting stored as fat!  Eating infrequent meals, larger meals, or starving yourself all results in a slower metabolism and weight gain.  Your body basically starts holding on to fat because it’s in protection mode and knows a certain amount of fat in the body is necessary to insulate and protect.  Think of it like this…A company has a lot of people working for them, but needs to make cuts.  Some of the positions are very helpful, but not necessary.  Are you going to get rid of the coffee guy or the girl who has clients that brings in the most money for the company?  You’re going to get rid of Starbucks boy and keep the lady who is keeping the company above water…you’re going to keep the fat because it’s what your body (company) needs to keep it going without losing too much.

You can keep your metabolism working hard not by starvation, but by small, frequent meals.  I believe it takes around 2-3 hours for your blood sugar to drop and this is why you want to fuel your body before you start to feel these effects.  Eating small, frequent meals or snacks every 2-3 hours or so, will not only keep you satiated, but it keeps your metabolism active and working.  Make sure you are eating healthy snacks, though.  It would be counterproductive to eat every 2-3 hours meals that are composed of sugars, trans fats, etc etc. etc.  If you incorporate some lean proteins into your snacks, you will also find that you stay satiated longer…chicken breast, salmon, tuna, Greek yogurt, eggs, quinoa,….

If you haven’t been eating small, frequent meals and you’ve been eating less in the hopes that you will lose weight, you will eventually (if you haven’t already) hit a point where your body won’t lose and it’s holding on to the fat.  Try eating small meals more frequently (and healthy) and you will start to see your energy levels increase, your workouts become more productive, and, what you’ve been waiting for, weight loss!

Oxygen Women’s Fitness | Training | Stronger, Leaner, Slimmer

I have not tried this, but a workout you can do in your home, even if you have no equipment.  If you need more intensity without equipment, extend your time performing each set and run through the workout a couple of times.

Oxygen Women’s Fitness | Training | Stronger, Leaner, Slimmer.

Log your Training…

This one’s for you, Sheila (hopefully)!  Here is an old log that I used to use to chart my workouts.  You can track one month of progress on one page, one week at a time.  It has room for 6 exercises per muscle group, 3 sets per muscle (with reps and weight used for each set), and a total of 4 weeks progress.  I will show you one with some info filled in and also a blank sheet. Let me know if you have problems viewing.  You can always change things up and personalize it for your own workout needs.

workout log blank                       workout log

Another HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) Note…

I just recently talked about this in “don’t forget your Heart”.  If you want to lose weight, increase your endurance, and also increase lean tissue, HIIT is the way to go.  Like I said before, this isn’t something you want to do every day because your body will be screamin’ out for mercy!  A couple of times a week and you will start seeing results.

The key point about HIIT, and why I like it so much, is that within the next 24 hours after one of these sessions, you are still burning calories.  When you perform steady state cardio, you may burn more calories, but the calorie burning effect is pretty much limited to the cardio session itself.  With HIIT, the burning continues after the training session..for up to 24 hours!

HIIT also has been shown to increase the amount of a special protein in the muscle.  This protein is responsible for carrying fat into the mitochondria of the cell.  The mitochondria plays a role in burning fat for fuel.  Therefore, HIIT results in an increase of a special protein in muscle, which results in an increase in fat loss.

You can do HIIT with almost anything…running, weight training, swimming, jumprope, biking, etc.  That’s what makes it so versatile.  You will never get bored because you have a variety of options, most of which you don’t even need equipment!

Read this article from  It shows great scientific backed research on HIIT and its effect on the body.  It also gives you an 8 week breakdown on how to gradually bring HIIT into your workout routines using any exercise or type of equipment you like.  For more ideas checkout my post on:  “Don’t Forget Your Heart!”

Exercise and Learning…

Want your kids to do better in school?  Try exercise.  Read on…


Don’t forget your Heart!

Don’t neglect the most important muscle in your body; YOUR HEART!  Without that, well, we all should pretty much know what happens without that.  When putting together a good exercise program, people of all training levels should include a combination of strength/resistance training and cardio (and don’t forget to stretch!).

Strength and resistance training is very important because it not only helps you create and sculpt the physique you desire, but it also makes you stronger, improves posture, aids in helping the body balance and stabilize, keeps bones from deteriorating, and the list goes on and on.

With cardio, its main purpose and function is to work on your heart—and also your lungs.  People that have been doing cardio for a long time usually have lower resting heart rates because their cardiovascular system does not have to work as hard anymore to keep the blood pumping to and from the body.  They also have a faster recovery heart rate (While exercising, your heart rate goes up.  The amount of time it takes for it to come back down is your recovery heart rate).  That cardio pays off!  My husband has always skipped over cardio in his training.  His involvement in Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu has not only required him to improve his cardio, but the Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu itself has worked wonders.  He also increased his cardio by simply running to catch his train after work and riding his bike home at the end of the day.  Just that little, tiny addition to his cardio helped his stamina in those sports.

When you think of cardio, most people think of running…and not everyone likes doing it.  But, there are many different things you can do for a cardio workout:

* Jogging          * Sprints (in your alley?)      * Run Hills       *Run Stairs (you can even do this in your home)       *Jumprope (in your basement?  your garage?  your frontroom?)                 *Biking                  *Swimming

*Plyo-workouts              * Aerobics               *Step-Aerobics            *Dance (Zumba!)           *Fast-paced/Low-rest Circuits           *Yoga (even some forms of yoga have been said to be a form of cardio)             *Boxing

*Do-Your-Own-Aerobics-Routine! (put on some music and do your own routine…in college I would do this in my dorm room…play good music and jump around for 15-20 minutes)

Another good thing to know is that the faster you perform your cardio, the harder you work your body, and the results will continue to grow greatly.  There’s nothing wrong with steady state cardio.  But, if you can make one of your cardio training sessions a week a high-intensity one, you will see the benefits increase even faster (and it does a pretty little number on the look of your physique) than with only steady state cardio.  High-intensity training has also been shown to increase HGH.

If you are just starting out with a high-intensity form of cardio, don’t overdo it at first because you will probably end up pretty sore and exhausted and this will deter you from trying it again.  Warm-up for at least 5 minutes (steady state cardio) and do some dynamic stretches.  Once you’re ready, go ahead and get started!

(Your first couple of sets should be around 50% max to help you gauge your speed and feel it out.  Once you are feeling good, start pushing yourself.  Get up to 90% of your maximum effort.  Overtime, your old 90% will be your new 70% and so-on because your body is adapting and your cardio is improving!).

Some High-Intensity Cardio workouts:

I perform 10×100 yard sprints.  My rest is a speed walk or light jog another 100 yards.  I sprint a 100 yard lap followed by a very fast walk or jog 100 yards.


Don’t forget the Crazy 8 BodyWeight 300


30 seconds on & 30 seconds off and repeat 3 times:

Mountain Climber


Jumping Jacks

Walking Lunges

High Knees

5 Tests for Good Health

I went in for a physical this summer and actually had all of these tested, minus the bone scan.  You may be feeling good, taking care of yourself, and fit on the outside, but you never really know what’s going on inside.  That’s why it’s so important to not only workout, but to fuel your body with the nutrients it needs.

I never, ever, ever weigh myself.  That number on the scale is not an accurate reading.  It goes back to the “muscle weighs more than fat” myth.  Because muscle is so dense (1 lb of muscle looks much smaller than 1 lb of fat) you can fit more of it together in one space.  Just like the example I used before, you can have two women who both weigh 145 lbs.  But, one might be composed of more body fat and the other more muscle mass/lean tissue.  They both get on the scale and weigh 145lbs, but one has 20% body fat and the other 40%.  You can’t tell the difference on a scale.  But, you can when you measure body fat percentage.

**If you want to get your hands on a pair of calipers that are inexpensive, has them.  I have a pair and if you’ve never used them they are uber easy to use (and come with instructions!).  I have the pair that is listed for $3.99 and they are fine to use.

Get your cholesterol checked!  This article is absolutely right-on that you don’t have to be overweight to have high cholesterol.  A friend of mine who was in good shape had his cholesterol levels checked and they were very high due to his not-so-good diet (which would have caught up to him eventually).  High cholesterol is a precursor to stroke and heart disease.

I also have known a handful of people who had unexplained fatigue, energy loss, and unexplained weight gain.  Once those thyroid levels were checked, they were too low. Once they took the right steps to get them back on track they were feeling much better and had their energy back.  You can also have an overactive thyroid that poses problems as well.

**READ THIS ARTICLE through  on 5 tests you should have done to see if you are on track to good health!


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