Monday, February 28, 2011

Get Fit And Lean In 15 Days

Marine of the United States Marine Corps runs ...Image via WikipediaI've been searching the web recently for credible information on exercise and fitness.  I'm amazed at the huge number of programs promising dramatic results in as little as 15 days.  I'm a certified personal trainer, fitness author, and competitive natural bodybuilder and I know better than to subscribe to one of these programs, but the general public does not.

While achieving dramatic results from your fitness program in a short period of time is possible, the probability of sustaining your results for a long time is very unlikely.  It takes me 16 weeks of intense exercise and very strict dieting to get ready to compete in a bodybuilding competition, and I cannot sustain that peak physical condition for very long.  So, buying into those quick fix programs is a waist of your money, because you can't keep up the effort it takes to sustain the results for the long-term.

Staying healthy and fit is a lifetime effort which is most easily accomplished through balance and moderation in your diet combined with regular exercise.  The quick fix approach is just a short-term answer to a long-term problem.

As promised I'm starting a contest to giveaway a copy of my book Forever Fit and Firm.  All of the exercises that I have posted about over the last few weeks have come from my book.  There's only two requirements to enter the contest. 1. Become a follower of my blog and send me a comment stating your favorite exercise from one of my previous posts.  2. Become a Facebook Fan of mine and send me a comment telling me your favorite food.

The contest starts March 1st and ends March 31st.  Good luck!

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Two Exercises For That Tapered Look And Great Posture

You spot people with great posture as soon as they enter a room.  They hold their chests high, their shoulders back, and they have a tapered look to their upper bodies.  Good posture makes you look sexy, strong, and confident.  Try the following two exercises to help you strengthen your upper back, and improve your posture.

Lat Pulldown - Start

Lat Pulldown - Finish

The lat pulldown is a great exercise for strengthening and developing the muscles in your upper back which are critical in having good posture. People whose shoulders are slumped forward most likely have under-developed upper back muscles.

First sit down and adjust the thigh pad to a position that firmly fits over your thighs. Then select a resistance with which the last three repetitions are difficult to complete. If this is your first time doing this exercise is may take experimenting at several weights before you find the right resistance for you. Next, grip the bar a little wider than shoulder width, sit down on the seat and place your knees firmly under the pad. Start with your arms fully extended and your chest held high. This is your start position. Now, pull the bar slowly down to the base of your neck while squeezing your shoulder blades back and together. Slowly return the bar to the starting position. (It should take about 3 seconds to pull the bar down and about 2 seconds to return the bar to its starting position). Proper breathing is very important so, remember to exhale as you pull the bar down and inhale as you return the bar to the starting position

Dumbbell Row - Start
Dumbbell Row - Finish
The dumbbell row also strengthens and develops the muscles of the upper back.  Hold a dumbbell in one hand, and place the opposite knee on a bench.  Lean forward and place your other hand on the bench.  Step to your side with the other leg and bend your knee slightly.  Proper form is very important on this exercise so, be careful that your lower back is not rounded.  Hold the dumbbell fully extended beneath your shoulder.  This is your starting position.  Now slowly pull the dumbbell to underarm height and squeeze your shoulder blade toward your spine and return slowly to the start position.  The breathing pattern is to exhale as you pull the dumbbell towards you and inhale as you return to start.

In my next post, I'm starting a contest to giveaway a free copy of my new book, Forever Fit and Firm which is the source of all the exercises I've been showing you over the last few weeks.  I wrote this book geared towards fitness over age 40.  It contains all the exercises and routines that have worked best for both me and my clients in our quest to stay fit and firm as we age.  Stay tuned for the contest details in my next post and tell all your friends.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Not Your Typical 52 Year Old's Exercise Program

Let start this post by stating that I'm 52 years old and I've been lifting weights for most of my adult life.  I'm as strong (actually stronger), and I feel as good as I did 30 years ago.  I'm 6 foot 2 inches tall, and I weigh in at 218 lbs at 10 percent body fat.  I'm not telling you this to brag on myself, but hopefully to change your concept of aging.

I'm an ACE certified personal trainer and I specialize in fitness over the age of 40.  I hear and see far too many people over 40 years of age blame their aches, pains, and poor physical condition on "getting old", when most of their physical calamities are the result of years of inactivity and bad lifestyle choices.

I believe that getting old has less to do with years and more to do with your attitude and the daily choices you make.  Imagine your body being healthy, strong, and fit as you grow older and this will lead you to make the healthy choices to manifest the the healthy, strong, and fit life you want no matter what age.

What's more compelling than an example to show you that you can be healthy, strong, and fit in your 40s, 50s, and beyond.  Here is my workout routine I did yesterday. It was a heavy lifting day for my shoulders and back, so I did the following:
  • Lateral shoulder raises, 3 sets of 5 repetitions with 60 lb dumbbells.
  • Overhead shoulder presses, 3 sets of 5 repetitions with 80 lb dumbbells.
  • Shoulder shrugs, 3 sets of 5 repetitions with 315 lbs.
  • Bent over dumbbell rows, 3 sets of 5 repetitions with a 150 lb dumbbell.
  • Weighted pullups, 3 sets of 5 repetitions with 35 lbs attached to my waist.
  • Lat pulls, 3 sets of 5 repetitions with 270 lbs.
This is not your typical 52 year old's workout, but it could be.
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

If You Are Over 50, You Can Be Stronger In 10 Years Than You Are Now

Arthur Saxon performing a bent press.Image via WikipediaLately I've noticed a lot of fitness videos and programs aimed at those of us over the age of 50.  It seems that these programs have good intentions, however the exercises and fitness routines they recommend are more geared toward people in retirement communities.  Just because you are over 50, you don't have to decrease your exercise intensity to the point of working out with resistance bands and light weight dumbbells.

If you are in poor physical condition, using resistance bands, and light weights is a place to start in your quest to improve your health and fitness level, but it isn't a place for you to stay for very long.  The ripe young age of 50 is where you really need to concentrate on building and maintaining your muscle mass and the best way to do this is with strength training.

Building muscle is important because you naturally start to lose your muscle mass at a rate of about 1 lb per year beginning in your 40s.   Muscle is that component of your body that makes your joints strong, keeps your metabolism high (which makes losing weight easier), and helps you remain youthful and strong.

Regular strength training can slow and even reverse muscle loss.  Studies have shown that people in their 80s and 90s can build muscle and get stronger by weight lifting.  I'm a firm believer in regular weight lifting.

I'm in my fifties and I've been weight lifting for over 30 years.  I'm stronger and more fit than I was in my 20s.  If you are over 50, starting a regular strength training program is one of the most important things you can do for your fitness.  If you start now, by the time you are in your 60s you can say, "I'm stronger now than I was 10 years ago."  Wouldn't that be awesome?


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Monday, February 14, 2011

The Science Of The Glycemic Index Explained

Weightloss pyramid.Image via WikipediaWith obesity at epidemic proportions these days, lots of companies are trying to get into the prepackaged meals game.  In marketing their products most of these companies state that their prepackaged meals are based on the science of the "glycemic index."  This statement leaves most people wondering what is the glycemic index and why would eating foods based on this science help them to lose weight?  In this post I'll attempt to briefly explain the science of the gylcemic index and how it can assist you in your efforts to lose weight.

Maintaining a steady blood sugar level is very important component of your dieting effort. Whether you know it or not, your body breaks down all digestible carbohydrates into blood sugar.  Some are converted into blood sugar faster than others. Thus, some carbohydrates cause a spike in your blood sugar level which causes you to feel hungry faster and to crave more sugary foods. While other carbohydrates are converted into blood sugar more slowly leveling out you blood sugar resulting in less hunger and less food cravings.

For this reason, the Glycemic Index (GI) was developed to classify how quickly your body converts carbohydrates into blood sugar as compared to pure glucose. Glucose has a GI of 100 and all other carbohydrate based foods are ranked against it. Foods with a score of 70 or more are defined as having a high GI while those with a score of 55 or less are considered as low.

Eating lots of food with a high GI causes spikes in your blood sugar level which can lead to many health issues such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. While eating low GI foods causes your blood sugar level to stay even thus, keeping your energy level balanced and causing you to fill fuller longer between meals. The following are some additional benefits of eating low GI carbohydrates.

· Helps you to lose and manage weight your weight.
· Increases your body's sensitivity to insulin.
· Decreases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
· Reduces your risk of heart disease.
· Improves your blood cholesterol levels
· Reduces hunger and keep you fuller for longer.
· Helps you prolong physical activity.
· Helps you to re-fuel your carbohydrate stores after exercise.

You can get the GI rating of hundreds of carbohydrate based foods from the Glycemic Index Foundation, sponsored by the University of Sydney in Australia. They maintain a searchable database of over 1600 entries at

The GI is very interesting because some foods that you intuitively think would have a high rating do not. For instance, fructose which is fruit sugar has a minimal effect on blood sugar while white bread and French-fried potatoes are nearly converted to blood sugar as fast as pure glucose. In other words, you can’t classify foods as having a high or low GI according to the sweetness of taste. Many factors affect a foods GI such as:

· Processing: Grains that have been milled and refined have a higher GI
· Type of starch: Starches come in many different configurations. Some are easier to break into sugar    molecules than others. For example, starch in potatoes is digested and absorbed into the bloodstream relatively quickly.

· Fiber content: The sugars in fiber are linked in a way that is hard for your body to break down. Thus, the more fiber a food has, the less digestible carbohydrate, and consequently the less sugar it can deliver into your blood stream.

· Fat and acid content: The more fat or acid a food contains, the slower its carbohydrates are converted to sugar and absorbed into your bloodstream.

· Physical form: Finely ground grain is more rapidly digested, and so has a higher GI than more coarsely ground grain.

The basic technique for eating the low GI way is simply a "this for that" approach - i.e., swapping high GI carbohydrates for low GI carbohydrates. You don't need to count numbers or do any sort of mental arithmetic to make sure you are eating a healthy, low GI diet. Follow these easy to implement suggestions.

· Use breakfast cereals based on oats, barley and bran
· Use breads with whole-grains, stone-ground flour, sour dough
· Reduce the amount of potatoes you eat
· Enjoy all other types of fruit and vegetables
· Use brown rice
· Enjoy whole-wheat pasta and noodles
· Eat plenty of salad vegetables with a vinaigrette dressing

As you can see it’s important to include the right kind of carbohydrates as part of your daily intake. I generally get about 50 percent of my daily calorie intake from low to medium glycemic index carbohydrates. I find that this amount gives me plenty of energy for all my daily activities. You’ll find that eating low to medium GI carbohydrates levels out your energy and keeps you from those highs and low points throughout the day. I hope the next time you hear the expression "based on the science of the glycemic index", you'll say, I know what that is.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Two Exercises For Strong Sexy Abs

Seated Ball Twist - Start

Seated Ball Twist - Finish

Here are two exercises that compliment each other to give you a strong sexy mid-section.  The seated ball twist develops the upper portion of your abdominal muscle, and also your obliques.  The vertical knee raise develops the lower portion of you abdominal muscle and also strengthens your lower back.  When you combine these two movements in one workout you really develop and strengthen your whole core.

The seated ball twist is a very good exercise for abdominal development and strength. Sit on the floor with a slight bend in your legs. Hold a therapeutic ball in front of you with your arms fully extended. Lean back slightly, pick your chest up high and pull your naval in. Now turn your shoulders to one side and touch the ball to the floor and then turn to the other side and do the same. A complete revolution counts as one repetition. Be sure you arms stay extended throughout this exercise. Breathing pattern is to exhale as you touch the ball to the floor and inhale as you bring the ball across your body.

Vertical Knee Raise - Start
Vertical Knee Raise - Finish

Vertical knee raises strengthens and develops your abdominal and lower back muscles. Position yourself on the machine to where your weight is resting on your elbows and your lower back is firmly press against the back rest. This is your start position. Exhale and slowly brings your legs towards your chest while slightly bending your knees. Lift your legs to a little higher than parallel to the floor and slowly return to your start position.

Do as many repetitions of the seated ball twist as you can and then immediately do as many of vertical knee raises as possible.  Repeat this cycle 3 times for a serious burn in your mid-section.