Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cardiovascular Exercise

There are three main types of cardiovascular exercise that people typically utilize in their training.  These types are low intensity steady state, high intensity training and high intensity interval training.  The names of the types of cardiovascular exercise should give you a clue about what they entail.

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Low intensity steady state

Low intensity steady state (LISS) are what people commonly think of when they hear the term "Cardio".  This is around 30 to 60 minutes of the treadmill, elliptical, running or any other cardiovascular exercise being done at a slow pace.  When I say a "slow pace", this means that your heart levels are constantly less than or equal to 50% of it's maximum heart rate for the whole duration of the cardiovascular training session.

High intensity training

High intensity cardiovascular training is the complete opposite of low intensity steady state cardio in that if one does this cardio his or her heart rate will be around 75% to 95% of their maximum heart rate for the whole session.  Usually, people cannot last longer than around 15 to 30 minutes of this type of cardio since it is very taxing on one's central nervous system.  I advise all out there that if you are going to do this type of cardiovascular training, do not do it on a heavy and or high volume weight training day.  This is because after you are done lifting those weights, your central nervous system will be fatigued and it takes a while for it to recover.

High intensity interval training

This type of cardiovascular training is a hybrid of low intensity steady state cardio and high intensity cardio.  Your heart rate while doing this type of training will be in intervals and it will be fluctuating from around 50% to 75-90%.  There are many ways to do your high intensity interval training, usually when one plays a sport, they classify that type of training as high intensity interval training.  This is because in most sports there are short times where you will probably need a burst of energy such as sprinting.  Just like high intensity training, this type of cardio will be taxing on your central nervous system as well and are recommended to be spaced at least three to four hours apart from your weight training sessions.

Example of high intensity interval training

Elliptical (15-20 minutes)

1 minute at 150 strides per minute (around 50% max heart rate)

20-30 seconds at 275-300 strides per minute (around 75-90% max heart rate)

For your 15 to 20 minutes of cardio, you would start out at around 150 strides per minute for a minute then you would spring at 275-300 spm then go back down to 150 spm.  You would do this cycle for the entire time of your cardiovascular training session. 

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What I like to do is to cycle my cardio training through a low intensity cardio and one of the high intensity cardio.  For example, let's say I were to do four cardiovascular training sessions this week, if I were to start the first cardio training session as a low intensity cardio the next session I would do a high intensity cardio.  So it would look like this:

Day 1 - Low intensity steady state
Day 2 - High intensity training
Day 3 - Low intensity steady state
Day 4 - High intensity interval training

Like I have said in previous posts, cardiovascular training is not completely necessary to achieve most fitness goals but it is important to do if you want to keep your cardiovascular system strong.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How to get a six pack

Everyone seems to want to have those washboard abs you see on the cover of magazines.  It often results in people buying into the "ab roller" or the latest abdominal contraption that promises to get you that ripped six pack.  The common misconception people have today is that they need to do a lot of reps on their abdominal contraption, crunches and or sit ups to magically have their six pack appear.  The truth is that most people already DO have a six pack but it is covered in a large amount of fat that hides the visibility of their six pack.  I am willing to bet that most of you have seen a skinny guy that has little to no muscle but has a six pack.  The only reason why anyone would have a six pack is because he or she has a low body fat percentage.  In the rest of this post, I will give you three goals (in order of importance) that one should strive for in order to get to a low body fat percentage and have a six pack.








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Goal #1 - Get your diet in check and stick to it

This is the most important goal to achieve in order to get your six pack.  As I have mentioned previously, most of us already have a six pack that is just covered by fat rendering it invisible.  To make this fat go away, we have to start losing weight.  Some people believe that doing a tons of abdominal work such a crunches will "burn" the fat away.  This could not be anymore wrong, there is no way to SPOT reduce.  That is, we cannot target one area of our body (in this case our abdominal region) and say I am going to lose fat here and only here.  When you lose weight, fat will come off your body in almost all areas.  Unfortunately, the last place the body tends to take fat from is the lower abdominal region.  This is because that area is the closest to the liver which can be mobilized fairly quickly. 

To find out how to get your diet in check and lose weight click here.

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Goal #2 - Incorporate weighted abdominal exercises along with body weight exercises  

I mentioned previously that you cannot "spot reduce" fat.  While that is 100% true, there is a way to make it easier for your six pack to be seen.  This involves the building and strengthening of your abdominal muscles.  If you make your abdominal muscles harder and shapely, it will be easier for your six pack to be visible.  So you could be at a higher body fat % and still see your six pack.  Using weights in your abdominal exercise will not make your stomach overly bulky but if it is done correctly coupled with body weight abdominal exercises it can help shape you a wonderful six pack.  Some abdominal exercises that involves weights are weighted crunches and weighted leg raises.

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Goal #3 - Start doing cardiovascular exercise

It is suggested that you start doing cardiovascular exercise to help bring in your six pack.  Although it is not 100% necessary to do in order to get your six pack, it will help decrease the time it takes to get it.  Not only does it help you burn extra calories, it also helps strengthen your cardiovascular endurance.  There are different forms of cardiovascular exercise that will be covered in the next post but for now you should be aiming for at least thirty minutes per cardiovascular training session.  The amount of times per week cardiovascular exercise should be performed varies on the individual.  Just be sure not to overdo it and as a general rule you should take a day off in between cardiovascular training sessions.

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If you follow these three goals and stick to them, you will have your six pack in no time.  People always seem to be impatient and want results right away.  The time it takes to get your six pack depends solely on your current status (body composition).  The more fat you have around your midsection, the more time it take to get your six pack and vice versa.

I also want to note that not everyone is capable of achieving a six pack.  Depending on your genetics, it is possible that you have an eight pack.  It is also possible that you have a four pack.  It is VERY rare to see someone with more than eight and less than four.  Most people have a six pack and it is NOT possible to add or take away any "packs", so be happy with what you have!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Guide: How to gain lean weight

Gaining weight is probably the most simple concept one could grasp.  All you need to do is eat a lot of food right?  If you are trying to gain overall mass (including fat) then your answer is correct.  In this post,  I will give you a 5 step-by-step guide to putting on lean weight while adding the smallest amount of fat possible.  If you all have any questions about how to lift weights or an example of a workout routine do not hesitate to ask using the "ASK FS" page.

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1.  Calculate how many calories you burn in a day 

First, you need to calculate how many calories you burn in one day,  you start out with your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate), this is the number of how many calories your body would be burning if you were in a coma (not moving for the entire day).

Normally you would have to multiply that number by one of the 4 numbers below.

1.2 - Sedentary
1.3 to 1.4 - Lightly Active
1.5 to 1.7 - Moderately Active
1.7 to 2.0 - Very Active

Fortunately, there is a calculator that will do this step automatically for us, here is the link.

So what you would do is choose the best one that would fit your lifestyle, in my case that would be moderately active, so I would take my statistics which is male, 185 pounds, 72 inches, 21 years old and moderately active and input these into the calculator.  The number that it gives me is 2493 calories per day.  This is a BALLPARK estimate which may not reflect the true value of calories burned but is reasonably close.

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2.  Set your target caloric intake needs to gain weight

Generally, you do not want to have a caloric surplus over 600 because if you do, you will be gaining a lot of fat along with your muscle.  Some people think that if they eat more they will put on more muscle, this is not true!  Your body has a certain amount of muscle it can synthesize in a given period of time and all other excess calories go straight to fat storage!  What you will do is take the number which you calculated in step one and add 500 to 600 calories from that number.  So, using the example, our target caloric intake will be around 3100 calories (2493 + 500 to 600 calories).

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3.  Eat the appropriate amount of calories and be within range of your target intake

You do not HAVE to be at your target caloric intake but within plus or minus 200 calories should be a good standard.  So that means from around 2900-3300 calories for this individual.  To track calories, just simply read the food label and see how many calories are in one serving.

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4.  In order to gain muscle, you WILL have to be lifting weights

Lifting weights is a MUST if you are trying to gain muscle.  If you do not lift, your body will have no need to repair your muscle tissue and almost all of the extra calories you consume will go straight to fat storage.  If you have no clue how to set up a work out routine please send me a question.  I will be posting my routine for gaining muscle in the next upcoming weeks.  

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5.  Eat cleaner foods or try to incorporate "IIFYM" (Second blog post)

Try your best to eat 40% of your calories from protein, 40% of your calories from carbohydrates and 20% of your calories from fat.   This is a 40/40/20 ratio diet.  This is a target ratio and does not have to be followed exactly in order to obtain success.  In the beginners section of this blog, under nutrition, I have added a long list of "clean foods", so try to incorporate some of these foods in your diet.  If you do not like eating all clean foods or want to ease your way into changing your diet habits.  You can try the "IIFYM" approach which is incorporating some of the foods you love to eat in your diet (Link to second post).  If you do not want to even deal with protein, carbohydrates and fats, you can just solely calculate your calorie intake.

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For cardiovascular training, doing a session or two every week will also help minimize this fat gain.

Just know that when you gain weight, it is INEVITABLE to gain a little fat.  If you gain weight correctly, you will be putting on very little fat and it will not be that noticeable.

Just remember these steps and more importantly to have fun while you are gaining weight!

Good luck!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Guide: How to lose weight

Losing weight is a challenge that many overweight people need to accept in order to live a longer and healthier life.  I am going to give you all a simple 5 step-by-step guide on how to lose weight in a healthy manner.  If you follow these steps, you should be expected to lose around 5 to15 pounds in the first week alone (the range varies on where you are on the obesity scale). As always, if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or contact me through the "ASK FS" page.

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1.  Calculate how many calories you burn in a day 

First, you need to calculate how many calories you burn in one day,  you start out with your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate), this is the number of how many calories your body would be burning if you were in a coma (not moving for the entire day).

Normally you would have to multiply that number by one of the 4 numbers below.

1.2 - Sedentary
1.3 to 1.4 - Lightly Active
1.5 to 1.7 - Moderately Active
1.7 to 2.0 - Very Active

Fortunately, there is a calculator that will do this step automatically for us, here is the link.

So what you would do is choose the best one that would fit your lifestyle, in my case that would be moderately active, so I would take my statistics which is male, 185 pounds, 72 inches, 21 years old and moderately active and input these into the calculator.  The number that it gives me is 2493 calories per day.  This is a BALLPARK estimate which may not reflect the true value of calories burned but is reasonably close.

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2.  Set your target caloric intake needs to lose weight

Generally, you do not want to have a caloric deficit of 600 because if you do, you will be losing weight too fast and in some cases you might be losing some muscle.  What you will do is take the number which you calculated in step one and minus 500 to 600 calories from that number.  So, using the example, our target caloric intake will be around 2000 calories (2493 - 500 to 600 calories).

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3.  Eat the appropriate amount of calories and be within range of your target intake

You do not HAVE to be at your target caloric intake but within plus or minus 200 calories should be a good standard.  So that means from around 1800-2200 calories for this individual.  To track calories, just simply read the food label and see how many calories are in one serving.

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4.  Eat cleaner foods or try to incorporate "IIFYM" (Second blog post)

Try your best to eat 40% of your calories from protein, 40% of your calories from carbohydrates and 20% of your calories from fat.   This is a 40/40/20 ratio diet.  This is a target ratio and does not have to be followed exactly in order to obtain success.  In the beginners section of this blog, under nutrition, I have added a long list of "clean foods", so try to incorporate some of these foods in your diet.  If you do not like eating all clean foods or want to ease your way into changing your diet habits.  You can try the "IIFYM" approach which is incorporating some of the foods you love to eat in your diet (Link to second post).  If you do not want to even deal with protein, carbohydrates and fats, you can just solely calculate your calorie intake.  This is not recommended.

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5.  Try to incorporate some form of cardiovascular and weight training exercise in your life

Although cardiovascular exercise is not needed in order to lose weight, it is a good way to burn extra calories and keep your cardiovascular system healthy.  If running on a treadmill or doing cardiovascular exercise on a machine is not for you, try running or playing a sport that you love.  Lifting weights tear down your muscle fibers and your body uses energy to repair them.

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That is basically all you need to know on how to lose weight.  Following the steps in this will allow you to lose weight in a HEALTHY manner.  Sure you could eat less, exercise a lot and lose more weight faster but you will be more likely to put that weight back on.

Good luck!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

If it fits your macros (IIFYM)

The basic idea of "If it fits your macros" is that you can eat almost anything you want as long as at the end of the day you hit your target macro nutrient goal.  Let me explain, assume that we have a 150lb man and he wants to cut down (lose weight).  He figures that his total macro nutrient composition should look like:

160 grams of protein
200 grams of carbohydrates
75 grams of fats

Total of  2115 calories.

160/435 = 36.7% of the diet comes from protein
200/435 =  45.9% of the diet comes from carbohydrates
80/435 = 18.4% of the diet comes from fats

This is a 37/46/18 ratio (rounded) which is in the ballpark of our target 40/40/20 ratio we were aiming for (If you do not know what a 40/40/20 diet is check out the beginners tab).

So let's say he wakes up in the morning and decides to have two doughnuts with his usual eggs and toast.  For simplicity, all of that food totals up to 35 grams of protein, 60 grams of carbohydrates and 30 grams of fat.  The rest of the meals eaten are to to get those numbers up to AROUND 160 grams for protein, 200 grams for carbohydrates and 80 grams for fat.  Using this idea (IIFYM), there aren't really any "off limit foods" with the assumption that those foods do not go over their target macro nutrients.  If you think about it, eating 100% "clean" follows the "If it fits your macros" idea but with a high level of exclusivity. 

The whole idea of "If it fits your macros" is to be able to eat some of the foods you love while still consuming some "clean" foods.  I personally follow the "If it fits your macros" idea when I feel like eating some "bad" foods.  For the most part, I try to stick to a very clean diet, because those foods seem to make me feel better and give me more energy.  This idea is great because it works and gives you the flexibility to follow your diet while still enjoying your life.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Starting the journey

Beginning the journey towards a more fit you is a daunting task, this means a whole lifestyle change for many people.  Change does not come easy, it takes hard work and dedication to achieve fitness goals.  This whole website will be a guide, an aid and a personalized resource to any of you that are interested in transforming your body and your mind.     

I started lifting weights when I was 17 years old and have not stopped.  I started my journey at a height of 5'10 and a weight of 140 lbs.  Now, 4 years later, 6'0 @ 185lbs I stay at a body fat of around 9-11% year round.

If you're looking to lose weight, gain weight or get stronger or the combination of the three, you're in the right place.  I can be that person to help you for free.  You guys can post comments on the blog asking questions and I will be sure to answer them.

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