How Much Exercise Is Enough?

The American Heart Association suggests at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous physical activity). Thirty minutes a day, five times a week is an easy goal to remember, however you will also experience benefits even if you divide your time into two or three segments of 10 -15 minutes per day.

Physical activity is anything that makes you move your body and burn calories, such as climbing stairs or playing sports. Aerobic exercises benefit your heart, such as walking, jogging, swimming or biking. Strength and stretching exercises are best for overall stamina and flexibility.

The simplest, positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health is to start walking. It’s enjoyable, free, easy, social and great exercise. A walking program is flexible and boasts high success rates because people can stick with it. It’s easy for walking to become a regular and satisfying part of life.

The following chart represents an estimate of caloric expenditure during specific physical activity. Listed are 4 different weight categories. Caloric expenditure is influenced by intensity, mode of exercise, one’s level of conditioning, metabolism, and body weight. Try to do at least three of these activities during your training week. This might help to keep you from getting bored with your weekly schedule and will help to make you a more well-rounded fitness enthuseist. You might even find a new mode of exercise to enjoy. My top two exercises are jump rope and fast-paced calisthenics. My new favorite that’s been around for years… the rowing machine.

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I Challenge You To This Quick Work-Out!

 

I meet several people in any given week that want exercise advise. The number one question I get is, “What’s the best exercise?” My response is always, “There is no best exercise, any exercise is great if you do it consistently.” If you have read my other blogs, then you know that I believe consistency with exercise and eating a healthy diet throughout your life is most important. So, be consistent with this following work-out and you’ll be sure to shed pounds (if you need to), increase strength, and improve your cardiovascular conditioning (including the other 9  components of physical fitness)…

Be sure to do a 10 minute warm-up before performing this work-out (i.e. walking, climbing stairs, elliptical machine). As always, consult with your physician before doing any exercise program and always monitor your heart rate to keep it within your target heart rate zone.

This is a HIGH-INTENSITY short work-out that should only take 15 minutes for beginners and less than 8 minutes for more advanced. The only equipment you need is your body weight!

READY!? Begin,

1. 10 Jumping Jacks

2. 5 Push-Ups (do all with trying to get your nose to the floor)

Be sure to get a full-range of motion on all push-ups!

Be sure to get a full-range of motion on all push-ups!

3. 20 Mountain Climbers

4. 5 Burpees/Squat Thrusts

5. 10 Body Weight Squats (do all with your hands behind your head)

6. 20 Jumping Jacks

7. 10 Push-Ups

8. 40 Mountain Climbers

9. 10 Burpees/Squat Thrusts

10. 20 Body Weight Squats

11. 30 Jumping Jacks

12. 15 Push-Ups

13. 60 Mountain Climbers

14. 15 Burpees/Squat Thrusts

15. 30 Body Weight Squats

THAT’S IT! If you completed this in 10 minutes or less and kept your heart rate in your target heart rate zone, then you are in excellent shape (my first time doing this quick circuit was 6 minutes 47 seconds)! If you found this challenging and went over the 15 minutes, that’s o.k.! Keep working at it. Do this work-out every other day for 4 weeks and you’ll certainly see improvements in your fitness level.

 

Exercise Slump: Everyone Does It

 

Shhhh…Don’t tell anyone, I’ve been in an exercise slump for nearly two weeks! Yes, it happens even to us professional physical fitness gurus. One day I’m running 4 miles at 7 mph on the treadmill and feeling great, the next day my mojo was lost. It all had to do with that darn storm that came through and knocked out our power for four days along with devastating our little neighborhood. No major damage, however several sheared off and uprooted trees, downed power lines, and of course, the hole in our roof. Compared to other storms around our country and the world, our storm was tiny and really insignificant. However, it was enough to change our daily routines, disrupt our lives, and make me really think about how lucky we were that the damage wasn’t worse. It was very easy for me to get out of my daily exercise routine thanks to the storm of 2014. DSC_1789-Edit-3

I can see how it’s easy to get out of the routine of daily exercise and how difficult it is to get back into it. Motivation is a key issue. My motivation has been more focused on getting the neighborhood cleaned up, dealing with the insurance company, deciding on what type of home generator to buy, and trying to keep my kids on schedule with school and homework while juggling 8-9 clients every day. I’ve had no time to fit in my own exercise.

I’ve heard this from clients for all the years I’ve been a personal trainer (16 years now!). “I don’t have time to exercise”, they say. I always come back with, “You have to make the time.” It is difficult to make the time to exercise, especially if you really don’t like it. I understand that. I also understand that “life” gets in the way of exercise. However, the benefits of exercise far outweigh the lack of daily physical activity, a sedentary lifestyle, and the negative effects that come along with it such as heart disease, cancers, strokes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type II diabetes, low self-esteem, and a lot of medical bills.

My exercise slump is over as of today. I put on my running shoes and got back up on the treadmill. My motivation? Life. I love the life I have here on Earth. I love my boys, my wife, my family and friends, and all the clients I’m able to interact with every day. I enjoy spreading my knowledge of physical fitness to everyone I come in contact with. Whether you’re a long time client from Bloomfield Hills, a new FaceBook friend from Kenya, or a student from the United Kingdom using our website for research. My motivation comes from all of you that read my blogs, watch my YouTube videos, and listen to my exercise and fitness advice. All of you are my support group that keeps me moving and physically active.

A support group is the best way to stay motivated. Your spouse, family, and friends are the most important support groups to have when getting out of your exercise routine. Be sure to talk with the people who care about you. Let them know that your exercise routine has slipped and that you need help getting back on schedule. With encouragement and support from your loved ones, you’ll find yourself lacing up your running shoes, stepping outside with a smile, and feeling more motivated now that you’re out of that exercise slump. For me, I’m cranking up the treadmill to 8 mph tomorrow! I’m back, thanks to you!

 

What is the Best Exercise?

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I have many people ask me this question every week. What I tell them is that there is no “best” exercise. All exercise is good. You just have to find the “best” exercises that suit your needs, physical fitness level, and lifestyle. For me, the best exercise is jumping rope.

I’ve been jumping rope for 20 years now. I had gotten out of the Marine Corps and got a membership at my local Bally’s Total Fitness. My first day working out there I saw a gentleman in the aerobics studio jumping rope all by himself. I watched him in awe. The way he moved.  Swift, steady, precise, and rhythmic. I had visions of watching the movies Rocky, Rocky II, and Rocky III from when I was a kid. Trying not to disturb this obviously “in-shape” man, I entered the aerobics studio, picked up a jump rope, and attempted to jump rope on the opposite side of the studio. I thought, “I’m a Marine, if he can do this so can I”. Ha! My attempts to find rhythm, steadiness, and precision were replaced with clumsiness, stumbling, and continued misses on the jump. I felt a little embarrassed, especially since we were the only two in the studio.

The expert rope jumper obviously watched me struggle and stopped to offer advice. He gave me these 3 following tips:

  • Start slow and low – “Low” meaning you should not jump high when jumping over the rope. You should jump just high enough to get the rope under your feet. “Slow” meaning when you are first starting out with this endeavor go slow to get the rhythm, coordination, and reaction time when the rope is coming around.
  • Keep your body tight – “Tight” meaning keep your arms and shoulders tight and let the rope turn from the wrists. Don’t waste energy moving your arms in big circles. The more movement you have, then the quicker you will burn yourself out.
  • Start with the most basic foot work that you learned as a kid – Meaning just try skipping over the rope. Don’t try the fancy “Rocky” moves right away. You must get a feel for the rope and learn timing and coordination. Once those 2 things are accomplished, then move on to more advanced foot work and speed.

Those 3 tips were just the beginning for me as they are for everyone else that has learned that jumping rope is much more than just skipping and jumping for 30 to 60 seconds at a time. Over 20 years of training with the rope, I have developed skills that are very advanced. Not only has my reaction time, coordination, agility, and speed increased, but I’ve found that my muscular endurance and cardiovascular endurance has drastically improved also. I can easily jump rope at a high intensity level for 30 minutes now. Jumping rope can get boring just like any other cardiovascular exercise, but once you know a good routine of tricks, foot work, and movement, you’ll find that it is not boring at all. Quite the opposite!

You will certainly see the following improvements when you add jumping rope into your daily exercise program along with practicing healthy eating habits:

  1. Improves overall body composition by decreasing body fat, increasing muscle mass, and increasing weight loss (health-related component of physical fitness)
  2. Increased cardiovascular endurance (health-related component of physical fitness)
  3. Increased muscular endurance (health-related component of physical fitness)
  4. Decreased blood pressure
  5. Increased agility (skill-related component of physical fitness)
  6. Increased coordination (skill-related component of physical fitness)
  7. Increased reaction time (skill-related component of physical fitness)
  8. Increased mental focus
  9. Increased speed (skill-related component of physical fitness)

So, my best exercise is jumping rope. It improves 7 of the 11 components of physical fitness. It is a total body workout. It is challenging. Most importantly, jumping rope is fun! Thank you to that expert rope jumper I met at Bally’s. If it wasn’t for him, I may have given up and never found my “best” exercise.

HIIT, Your Best Shot at Being Fit

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High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, has been around for years but is finally coming into mainstream fitness for individuals of all ages and fitness levels. Several years ago, HIIT was incorporated into the training regimens of Olympic, Professional, and Collegiate athletes. The benefits of high intensity training for these athletes included higher VO2 Max, greater lung capacity, improved oxygen utilization, delayed onset of lactic acid build up in muscle cells, and greater overall output during practice, drills, games, and competitions.

That’s all good stuff, right? To the average person these improvements don’t mean much. What it does mean to the average person is this: burn a lot of calories in a short period of time while boosting your metabolism and improving your cardiovascular conditioning.

Many of my clients and friends complain of having to do long, tiresome, and boring cardio workouts that leave them wishing there was a better way to “get it done”. HIIT is the way to get it done in a shorter period of time but with a much higher intensity level. You really need to work your butt off to make this work for you!

To start, you must determine your Target Heart Rate Zone (THRZ). This can be done by clicking here. During HIIT, the goal is to get your heart rate up to the upper end of the THRZ, keep it there for a short period of time (1 -2 minutes), then bring it down to the middle of your THRZ for a short period of time, then back up again. This pattern should be performed for 20 to 30 minutes.

This type of training is called high intensity for a reason. It is challenging and tough to do. You will breath heavily and sweat a lot when performed properly. The goal is to get your heart rate up as high and as safe as possible in a short period of time in order to burn high amounts of calories. Depending on your training schedule, HIIT can be performed 2-3 times per week.

The following HIIT programs are some of my favorites to do. These are just examples. I recommend you consult with your physician or a professional fitness instructor before trying these HIIT programs. Be sure to monitor your heart rate to make sure you are at the upper end of your THRZ. It will take approximately 7-8 minutes to get the heart rate up that high. If your heart rate gets too high and you have trouble catching your breath, then lower your intensity by decreasing speed, incline, or pace of exercises. Good luck!

Treadmill HIIT (for beginners):

  1. Brisk walk at 4.5 mph at 2% incline for 2 min. (this may be a slow jog for some of you)
  2. Run or Jog at 6.0 mph at 1% incline for 1 min.
  3. Brisk walk at 4.0 mph at 5% incline for 2 min.

Repeat 4 more times then do 5 minute cool down (walk at 3.5 mph)

Total Time (including cool down): 30 minutes

Outside HIIT (for intermediate trainees):

  1. Jog at your own pace for 2 min.
  2. Sprint for 30 seconds
  3. Walk for 1 minute 30 seconds

Repeat 5 mores times then do 5 minute cool down (slow walk)

Total Time (including cool down): 25 minutes

HIIT Using Calisthenics (for advanced trainees):

  1. Jumping Jacks for 45 seconds
  2. Mountain Climbers for 30 seconds
  3. March in place for 30 seconds (for a rest; brings heart rate down a little)
  4. Burpees or Squat Thrusts for 45 seconds
  5. Scissor Jumps and Jabs for 30 seconds
  6. March in place for 30 seconds
  7. 10 Push-Ups

Repeat 5 more times then do 5 minute cool down (slow walk)

Approximate Total Time (including cool down): 20 minutes

As you can see, HIIT can be done a variety of ways. The ways to do High Intensity Interval Training is endless. The key items to focus on are your heart rate and your breathing. If either gets to high for your fitness level, then decrease your intensity.

Putting together a HIIT program takes a little bit of thinking and imagination and a lot of hard work and motivation. However, this type of exercise will certainly get you in shape, burn a high amount of calories, and keep your metabolism running high all day long.

 

 

5 Secrets to Weight Loss

 

People are always looking for easy fixes and fast results when it comes to losing weight. It seeems like every other month there’s a new fad diet that the news is reporting on: fat-free, sugar-free, low-carb, high-protein, gluten-free, juicing, gabbage soup, low-calorie, and the list goes on and on. I’m sure that if you’re reading this article, you’ve tried at least one of these diets. Sure, diets may work for a period of time. However, these are quick fix remedies to weight loss. Most likely, individuals doing these diets will stay on them for a few weeks, lose a few pounds, go back to eating poorly, and gain the weight back plus a few extra pounds. People are not learning the proper way to eat healthy and exercise daily in order to keep the weight off. Behavior modification is most important when wanting to lose weight, maintain healthy eating habits, and living a healthy lifestyle for the rest of your life.

Of course, it’s easy for me to give you the advice. The most diffficult part is to implement this advice into your life and change your current behaviors. There are several actions that need to take place in order for you to live a healthy life, lose weight, keep the weight off, and stay physically active. I have provided Weight Control Guidelines on our website. These Guidelines will help you to stay on track when trying to lose weight. These are not secrets to weight loss. This is information that most of you already know, however, you may not be implementing in your life.

The following list includes the most important guidelines to follow when trying to lose weight. Please remember, these are not quick weight-loss solutions. These are guidelines you should be following all the time for the rest of your life. When on the journey of losing weight, you should keep in mind that the weight should come off slowly. I recommend losing 1 to 2 pounds per week. Studies have shown that people that lose 1 to 2 pounds per week tend to keep that weight off permanently. Studies also show that people that go on crash diets lose weight, then go off the diet, and gain that weight back plus an extra 3 to 5 pounds. This is due to not changing their eating behaviors permenantly.

  1. Reduce your intake of processed food and refined sugars. Examples of these include: white bread, pasta, white rice, fast food such as McDonald’s, Panera Bread, and Taco Bell, cookies, cakes, snack foods such as pretzels, chips, and soda pop. These food products tend to be high in calories, trans fats, and sugar. Substitute these foods with whole grain and multi-grain products and increase your intake of a variety of vegetables.
  2. Portion control. Eat 6 small meals a day rather than 3 large meals a day. This will help to keep your metabolism higher. Three large meals a day can be higher in calories and makes it more difficult for your body to burn these calories up. Six small meals a day will keep your energy levels higher, keep you feeling less hungry, and will help you to reduce your caloric intake.
  3. Eat lean protein with every meal. Protein plays an important role in the development of muscle, hair, and nails. Studies have also shown that protein helps to keep people more satisfied and less hungry later in the day.
  4. When trying to lose weight/body fat, reduce your daily caloric intake by 500 calories. 3,500 calories equals one pound of fat. So if you can cut out 500 calories every day for 7 days, you can lose one pound in one week. This sticks with the recommendation of losing 1 to 2 pounds per week in order to keep that weight off for the rest of your life. One way of reducing your caloric intake is to cut out carbs such as pasta, breads, and rice at dinner time. Replace these with a variety of vegetables. Do not completely cut out complex carbohydrates from your diet. Complex carbohydrates are the body’s number one source for energy. You need these “good” carbs early in the day in order to perform your daily routine such as going to work or school, running the kids around town, and EXERCISE!
  5. Drink water throughout the day. Avoid soft drinks, soda pop, and juices. These are high in calories and sugar. Our bodies are 80% water. Water is important for healthy skin, proper physiological functions of the body, and, of course, keeping you hydrated for your workouts.

These 5 important guidelines are just a few of several tips that you should be following when it comes to proper daily nutrition. Please click here to learn more important nutritional information. Combining these weight control guidelines with daily physical activity and exercise will certainly help you to reduce your body weight and body fat. I understand that changing behavior is a very difficult thing to do. So start off slow. Try changing one thing in your eating habits. Accomplish that for 6 weeks and then add on another. Remember, these are lifestyle changes that will stay with you for the rest of your life. These changes will not only help you to lose weight but may help to decrease illnesses and diseases and prolong your life.

 

11 Components of Physical Fitness in Action

 

Ladies, being physically fit is not just about looking good in a bikini or having a tight backside or not having fat dangling from your arms when waving. Gentlemen, being physically fit is not about how much weight you can bench press, how big your biceps are or weather you have a four pack or a six pack for abs. Believe me, this is all good stuff.  However, everyone should consider all aspects of physical fitness in order to be defined as a physically fit individual.

There are 11 components of physical fitness. If you are not incorporating all components of physical fitness into your daily exercise program, then you are not doing enough to improve your fitness level and overall health.

The 11 Components of Physical  Fitness include:

  1. Agility
  2. Balance
  3. Body Composition
  4. Cardiovascular Endurance
  5. Coordination
  6. Flexibility
  7. Muscular Endurance
  8. Muscular Strength
  9. Power
  10. Reaction Time
  11. Speed

All 11 components of fitness are present in everyone’s daily lives. You just may not realize it. For instance, you use agility when walking quickly through a crowd during Christmas shopping at the mall. Muscular strength and endurance is being used when unloading a carload of groceries from Costco. Your reaction time is being challenged every day you drive your car to work or drive the kids to school. Your body composition is stagnating every time you choose not to go for a long walk outside and instead sit on the couch watching Real Housewives or your favorite sports team.

Trying to incorporate 10 of the 11 components into one workout may seem impossible.  (I say 10 because while body composition is impacted by exercise it is not an actionable part of a work-out). But, take some time and consider a training session that utilizes an exercise step or BOSU, some dumbbells, a medicine ball, and your body.  You will find you can incorporate the 10 components into one workout.

I’m not going to bore you with written details as how to set up a circuit of exercises that mix in all the components of physical fitness. The best way to do this is by showing you. My YouTube videos demonstrate some of the best, most efficient ways to include a number of exercises that will challenge you in all areas of physical fitness. These videos are just demonstrations that may educate you and hopefully make you sweat a bit.

Knowing all 11 components of physical fitness will help you to be stronger, leaner, and will increase your fitness level at any age. These components should not be forgotten when heading off to the gym or when heading out for an evening walk. You may find yourself doing an extra push-up or picking up your pace and starting into a light jog. Enjoy your training and have fun!

Core Strengthening Improves Balance and Posture

 

Core strengthening should be an integral part of everyone’s training regimen. Your core consists of several muscles coming together to support your spine and midsection. Those muscle groups include the rectus abdominis (abs), erector spinae (low back), internal and external obliques (on your sides), and transverse abdominis (the deepest muscle layer of the abdominals). Some experts also include the gluteus maximus/minimus (your rear end) pelvic floor muscles, and subscapcular stabilizers in the group of core muscles. All of the mentioned muscles come together to help you to do trunk rotations, lean forward and backward, and to maintain good posture. Your core is hard at work all day long, every day. Therefore, it is important to do weekly strengthening and stretching of these muscle groups.

Your core is directly related to your balance, strength, and power. So, you should be performing exercises that challenge these 3 components of physical fitness.  Strengthening your core will lead to better balance, posture, and stability. Having a strong core can lower your risk of injury and may help to reduce low back pain. Strong core muscles can help to improve athletic performance such as swinging a golf club, getting up on water skis, or keeping good balance while in-line skating. Core strengthening also helps to improve daily activities such as picking up your child, carrying groceries, or doing yard work.

In order to strengthen your core, you must do exercises that use the trunk of your body without support. Perform exercises seated on a fitness ball, standing or kneeling on a BOSU, standing on a balance disk, and standing on one leg. Performing a variety of planks and bridges will also help to improve your overall core strength.

I recommend two days a week of core strengthening exercises. You should also try to do your resistance training using a fitness ball and BOSU. For example, instead of using a bench for chest presses, lay down on a fitness ball and do dumbbell chest presses. Laying down on a bench does not engage your core. However, laying down on a ball makes you off balance which then requires your body to automatically engage your core in order to maintain balance. Another example is standing on one leg or standing on a balance disk while performing a basic biceps curl. You are required to maintain balance and strengthen your core while strengthening your biceps. Any exercise performed off balance will help to directly strengthen your core.

Do yourself a favor and work your core. Over time, with consistent training, you will see improvements in posture, balance, power, and overall strength. Remember, the core is the center of all you do so be sure not to neglect these muscles when you hit the gym.

Short on Time? Cardio or Weights?

 

Every week I hear from a client, “I don’t have enough time to get in my cardio and weight training this week, which one should I skip, which one is most important?” My response, “Don’t skip either, both are important and need to be done with consistency.”

If you are on a mission to lose weight, the cardio is going to help you burn off that stored energy, otherwise known as body fat. The strength training can’t be skipped either, your muscles need to be stimulated weekly in order to promote proper growth and development so your muscles become stronger and shapelier.

When you are short on time, the best way to get in your cardio and strength training is through what I call High Intensity Circuit Training (HICT). This type of circuit training involves high intensity cardio bouts mixed in with weight training. What makes this type of training great for people with little time, which is most of us, is that you combine your cardiovascular conditioning with resistance training. This will give you a total body workout. You’re not only burning calories and body fat, but you are also strengthening your heart and improving your muscular strength and endurance. High Intensity Circuit Training can be accomplished many ways with no equipment, minimal equipment, or with a fully loaded gym.

My favorite way to train clients is by incorporating basic calesthetics with strength training. You must first get your heart rate up high, at the upper end of your target heart rate zone, in a short period of time, usually 45-60 seconds. Once the heart rate is up, continue on to a 3 to 4 exercise strength training circuit. For example, do 60 seconds of jumping jacks, then, with no rest, move on to 15 push-ups, then on to 20 jump squats, then on to 15 ball push-ups, then do 20 lunges. Repeat the circuit 2 more times. Now this is just a very basic example of HICT, but nevertheless you are accomplishing your cardio and strength training in a short, very intense period of time. I have several of my advanced clients doing up to 16 different exercises in one circuit and burning over 700 calories in 60 minutes (I typically have clients do three sets for each circuit).

When choosing high intensity cardio bouts, you can’t go wrong with calesthetics such as jumping jacks, scissor jumps with jabs, squat thrusts, or mountain climbers. All of these will get your heart rate up very high in a very short period of time. The cardio bouts don’t have to be calesthetics. You can also incorporate cardio equipment such as the treadmill, elliptical, and stationary bike. However, I find that a high intensity cardio bout on a piece of equipment takes a little more time to get the heart rate up. So you might want to increase the time to 2-3 minutes rather than 45-60 seconds. You must be going as fast and as hard as you can on the piece of equipment you choose at the time.

The weight training circuit following the cardio bout can be set up in a variety of ways. This is where you have to be creative and piece together a total body circuit, or just lower or upper body combinations or super sets. If you want to view some great examples of this, go to my YouTube Channel. There are currently 4 circuits posted that will guide you through a variety of High Intensity Circuit Training.

High Intensity Circuit Training may not be for everyone. This is an option for more intermediate to advanced trainees that are short on time. However, beginners can go slow and at a lower intensity to accomplish such training. Remember to always check with a doctor or fitness professional to be sure this type of training is right for you.

Your options are endless when it comes to High Intensity Circuit Training. The combinations of exercises for your entire body will continue to grow if you are thoughtful in setting up your circuits. So, don’t skip weights or cardio when you have a busy schedule. Take advantage of what little time you have to exercise and maximize every minute of your workout by doing High Intensity Circuit Training.