Most gym dudes (and some ladies too) are experts... in their heads!

It is the Most Powerful Question on the Planet. Why? Why am I doing this? Why am I drinking That? Why this way and not that way? You will find that the subsequent responses will be devoid of pertinent information. I've been told off many many times by "experienced exercisers" and a few trainers too I might add, yet I still observe way too many WASTED REPS, extremely poor form and execution. That is Why I Have a Career. Most know how to look like they are lifting weights, only a few know how. Ask me who they are and I'll refer you to them. (Hint: they usually aren't lifting heavy weights and making a lot of noise... and they don't look red and puffy either!)


Do You Know Why You Have Muscles? They act on the skeleton to produce movement. They move bones...
Do You Know What Actions They Perform? Most "trainers" don't even know that!!!
How Many Muscles Can You Identify? Pecs, Lats, Delts, Abs, Quads, Glutes, Gastrocs, Hamstrings, Biceps, Triceps, Traps, Rhomboids if you've read a book...The number of muscles in the human body varies from about 656 to 850 depending on which expert you consult. Are you considering a few more now or "to hell with them"???
Why does the Stiff Legged Deadlift become an exercise in "How low can I lower this bar without bending my legs"?
It's a hip extension (what's That??? ugh....) utilizing the hamstring group, the glutes and the calves. It is not a back exercise, yet maybe 30 % of anyone I watch perform the exercise engage those muscles without utilizing their lower back muscles.

How Many Reps? How Much Weight? Those two are my favorite... everybody has the answer, nobody knows how to apply it but most importantly nobody knows how to make it work!!!!! The correct answer is: "I Don't Know Your Body, Do You?" Let's figure it out together, then you will know how many reps with how much weight. It's about achieving proper fatigue (misconstrued as FAILURE...) which in turn creates proper overcompensation (growth) which could be: bigger, leaner, faster, more explosive, more endurant, thinner, etc... Too much and you're in the INJURY ZONE where nobody grows, let alone recovers... There's a few trick to looking good and feeling good, and I know a few of them... lucky you!

Most of us have gone to the gym and looked at somebody using a machine which baffled us moments before and started emulating that person. Which muscle is targeted and which muscle is actually activated will depend largely on what you know about muscles and bones and their functions. You can perform bench presses every day and have an under-developed chest but HUGE triceps if you don't know which is meant to be the prime mover and which is supposed to be the synergist during the motion. Does this sound like Chinese to you? Do yourself a favor and SCRUTINIZE everything... even me!

I am a teacher and my role is to teach you. When you are done with me (and are willing to retain the information that is...) you will KNOW what you are doing and you will NEVER have to ask anybody how a machine works or what a machine does for you. You will KNOW movement, proper form and you will be skilled.

Do Something Different For God's Sake!!!!

Here's The Deal: Everything Works! Every technique (good or bad) every form (good or bad too but that might cut short your career/stint as an athlete...) Every article you've ever read in magazines: IT ALL WORKS: For about two weeks, then your body adapts, then it's time to do something different.

We all respond to the stimulus of exercise/resistance training/cardio at different RATES and MAGNITUDES... Don't let anybody fool you. The magazines don't really put things in order for you though. One month you get lean, then huge guns (tickets for the show anyone?), then baby got back, then it's peck mania, then you need to put on 12 lbs of lean body mass (don't forget to follow their muscle-specific diets like chicken and broccoli!!!! They really think we are stupid!!!), you see where I am going with this...

By the Way, how many ways are there to train the biceps muscles?
Other than changing the stabilization work by the deltoid group from being flexed to extended? Do we really need a whole issue on Biceps? (they call them GUNS in the biz...) I think not.

Here's what you MUST know before you even attempt to isolate a muscle group on its given day of the week: Master the basic movements:
Push-ups, Pull-ups, Dips, Inverted Rows, Sit-ups, Shoulder Presses, Clean and Jerks, Power Cleans, Snatch, Squats/Front Squats/One Leg Squats, Deadlifts (Romanian/Straight Leg/One Leg) Bike, Run, Swim, Row. Hard and Fast! Five to six times per week.

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I've been doing crossfit since 2005 which is way before the trend, and I am sorry to say that I can no longer support the MONSTER that it has become. I believe a lack of leadership at the corporate level has led to an absurd practice of movement that can only lead to overuse injury and most often traumatic injury. Powerlifting has never been meant to be a volume type of training. Olympic style lifting has never been nor will it ever be a volume type of training. I do, however, recommend you consult someone before doing crossfit (know that your crossift trainer obtained his/her certification over a weekend course, so you may as well get certified yourself and see how you trust your own direction afterwards), as IT IS NOT FOR EVERYBODY. IT IS INTENSE. MUCH LIKE P90x is and comes with LITTLE TO NO INSTRUCTIONS...

Rest Hard. Eat enough to Fuel (nobody likes a sloppy workouts, tsk tsk, no no!) but not enough to promote body fat (extra energy could be burned many ways, some more fun than others... check out the activity calorie counter on!)

Your protocol will be High Intensity Interval Training
It’s short, tough and really gets the heart pumping!!!

It's nothing new, Mike Mentzer, the now defunct body-builder developped the technique. It has found its way (Crossfit anyone?) to the endurance world. This article has been available on this website since 2003, as I said previously, I don't dablle in the trendy, I dabble in the "What Works"...

Try to remember the last time you enjoyed a cardio session... If you respect progress, want to minimize muscle loss and maximize fat loss, all that’s required is a ten to fifteen minute session, one to three times a week. That’s the beauty of HIIT.

Let’s face it, humans are creatures who crave change but are afrait of it. What was once fun and enjoyable can soon turn into a task that requires the mindset of a Tibetan monk. And if it’s not enjoyable, chances are the routine won’t be performed with much effort or enthusiasm. If you’re one of those individuals who’ve grown tired of repeating the same old routine, let me HIIT you up with some variety, but, first, let’s backtrack a bit.

A Brief Review

For those of you unfamiliar with HIIT, let me briefly explain why it’s so darned effective at making you a Lean Machine.

It’s all about energy expenditure, that is, weight loss. Move more, eat less and you’ll lose body mass. For those of us who carry more muscle than the average person, replacing the body mass with muscle mass is why we make such a big fuss about cardio and it’s catabolic effect on muscle.

For some time now, aerobic work (long duration activity at a steady state) has been known to effectively burn calories and lower body mass because it focuses on using fat as it’s primary energy source. However, as the intensity of activity increases the primary energy substrate involved will shift. The body will move away from mobilizing fatty acids while the proportion of carbohydrates is increased. (1) While this leads to the thinking that long-duration, low-intensity activity is the optimal route towards fat loss, research shows that high- intensity activity is actually more effective. (2, 3, 4) Add intervals of high and low periods (5) and fat-burning increases. There are several reasons for this, and others that remain unknown.

During high-intensity, intermittent training, post-exercise energy expenditure was significantly greater than in subjects who performed moderate or low intensity activity. (6, 7, 8) As a result more fat is utilized in the recovery phase. Several studies confirm that the higher the exercise intensity, the more fat, proportionately, will be burned during the recovery phase. (9, 10, 11) Also, higher exercise intensity had a greater effect on acetyl-CoA carboxylase (an enzyme involved in the fatty acid synthesis pathway) activation, which results in greater free-fatty acid oxidation post-workout. (12) Intense interval work also utilizes both the fast and slow twitch fibers, more fast twitch fibres because of the amount of work required of the body in such a short time period. Along with the muscles, the respiratory, heart and nervous system are also required to expend more amounts of energy. This means that more fat and carbohydrates are burned to keep up with the demands of the body both during and after a HIIT workout.

To sum up, the energy cost of HIIT is much greater than that of aerobic exercise. In addition, the body will expend more energy at rest throughout the day and this contributes further to fat loss. This equates to one lean machine if HIIT is properly incorporated into a program.

The Programs

I’ve listed below a number of different ways HIIT can be incorporated and performed so that the most can be made out of each session. Even if it’s quality you’re after, sometimes quantity is just as important.

Warm-up is crucial. Make sure you perform some motions that move the specific joints used in the movement through their range (Body Squats, pull-ups, push-ups...) Once this has been completed you can move on to the type of HIIT you’ll be performing.

Elliptical Trainer: For those of you who suffer from joint problems, an elliptical machine can be a godsend. If your club/gym happens to have a couple of pieces that come with arms this exercise can be all the more effective as it can now involve your upper body. Be forewarned though-- watching a heavily muscled lifter furiously pumping their arms and legs every 20-60 seconds for 10-15 minutes can be a pretty amusing display.

Stair-Climber: If you work in a building that has a long flight of stairs, then you know very well just how hard climbing flights of stairs can be. Set the stair-climber at the most difficult level and attempt to keep the pedals from touching the floor. Once you’ve finished the interval, get off and walk around until it’s time to go again. Legs of steel perhaps, try stepping on your tippy toes.

Treadmill Work: Running on the treadmill is not as effective as running outdoors due to the lack of intensity that can be achieved on a treadmill. A treadmill, nevertheless, can still do its job well. One way to really utilize this piece of equipment is to do walking lunges on the steepest grade for 30 seconds at 1.5 - 2.0 miles an hour. Rest 30 seconds, and repeat 5-10 times. If that’s not enough for you, speed things up or grab some dumbbells.

Running Lines: On a basketball court or a field, mark out 5 lines. Each one should be about 3 feet apart from one another. Run to each line and back to the starting point. Once you have run to each line and back, stop and rest for 1 minute and then repeat this 3-6 times. Change of pace perhaps? Try running the lines backwards.

Uphill Sprints: Sprint up a hill and then walk or jog very slowly downhill as your period of recovery. Repeat the sprints 4-8 times. You can do the hill sprints with the exception of running backwards up the hill and walking forwards down.

Skipping Rope: Skip for a minute, then rest a minute, and repeat 10 times. If you want to show off, throw in some combinations.

Side Laterals: Set up two cones or markers and side step them for 30 seconds as quickly as possible trying to minimize the time your feet are in contact with the ground. Rest 1 minute, and repeat 6-10 times.

Weight Training: A study conducted by Dr Tabata in Japan showed that “six to eight very hard twenty second intervals with ten second rest periods” are very effective for increasing both aerobic and anaerobic conditioning. (13) Putting this into practice, an individual would perform a movement that utilizes multiple muscle groups. Movements such as the Squat or Deadlift are a good place to start. Using approximately 50% of your 1RM perform as many repetitions as you can in twenty seconds, rest for 10 seconds and repeat six to eight more times. Be warned, this method was used on elite Japanese speed skaters and was a very painful experience. This method is not only great at fat burning but will teach you how to stay mentally focused while enduring a large amount of pain.

Bike: It’s probably the most boring piece of equipment to use in the gym, but it can be quite effective. If you’re feeling brave, try Dr Tabata’s method (as mentioned above). The experiment Dr Tabata performed used bikes, which gives you a feeling just how tough this method really is.



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2. Bryner, R.W., R.C. Toffle, I.H. Ullrish, and R.A. Yeater. The effects of exercise intensity on body composition, weight loss, and dietary composition in women. J. Am. Col. Nutr. 16:68-73, 1997.

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