Friday, July 31, 2009

Don't Let Madonna's Arms Scare You!

Just wanted to share my thoughts on Madonna's arms...since she has been getting some press lately and frankly looks pretty scary! I don't want her to scare anybody away from lifting weights. That ain't weight lifting that is giving her that look.

I don't know what all is going in to the way she looks (possibly dehydration, supplements, over exercising, starvation...) but the way Madonna looks has more to do with her extremely low levels of body fat, over training and a very restrictive diet losing too much fat and getting what some would call "ripped." This ripped look is what many Figure Competitors look to achieve which takes an extremely regimented, strict eating plan to the point of deprivation along with hours and hours of working out. This look has nothing to do with the amount of muscle she has... but everything to do with the lack of body fat and taking a good thing like a healthy diet and exercise way too far. When you see veins in her arms like that, it means she basically has no body fat. My goal for women is to achieve a look that is strong and healthy and above all that they feel good about themselves, and have energy. Performing exercise 2-4 hours a week and enjoying a splurge guilt free. It is not about losing every last ounce of body fat, being deprived and looking emaciated. Madonna is doing 2 hours a day of exercise (most of which consists of cardio and 2-3 pound dumbbells- OPPOSITE of my philosophies). Doing 2 hours of working out a day, you cannot work at the intensity I recommend you work. Less is more when it comes to exercise. And let's face it she definitely has some genetics playing in to the way she looks.

Just wanted to give you my 2 cents in case you had seen some of these pictures and been a little frightened to touch another dumbbell. Instead, know that you absolutely should lift weights, boost your metabolism and get the benefits of strength training but the most you should work out is 4-6 hours a week (not 12 hours like Madonna does) and you should EAT! Do not starve yourself. Having some body fat is a good thing and keeps you looking feminine. It is about finding a balance to look amazing, feel great and live life to the fullest!

Just wanted to reassure you that the way Madonna looks has nothing to do with lifting too much weight in the gym. Get to the gym, lift weights, push yourself for 45 minutes to an 1 hour max, getting your metabolism cranking so you can eat more, enjoy an occasional splurge and look feminine and feel sexy!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Getting the workout done on vacation

Just got back from a vacation in Cabo and had a great time. Did some jet skiing, swam with dolphins and laid by the pool. It was the perfect vacation and Alwyn and I managed to work out everyday while we were there too. (We had to offset the Coronas and Chips & Guac somehow :)).

No excuse not to take 30-40 minutes and get a workout in while you are on vacation. Somedays we hit the gym for intervals on the treadmill which was harder than ever since it was over 100 degrees and super humid and the gym was open doors looking out over the ocean which was pretty but why they didn't have it closed and the A/C cranking I don't know. Just standing there you were dripping with sweat. An interval workout that normally wouldn't be so hard feels a lot tougher than it should. I also did a functional strength workout in the corner one day. There were no dumbbells or benches at all in the gym so I did a circuit of T Push Ups, SHELCS(they had a swiss ball), Lunges, Forward Ball Roll Outs and One Legged Squats. The gym is right by the pool and like I said is open air so as I was doing my one legged squats some old man was pacing watching me and then eventually stood there in his swimming shorts drinking his beer watching me do my set and then gave me a thumbs up. Now that's motivation! :) Later at the buffet he came up to me and said- "You are in good shape and strong, congratulations!" Why is it such an impressive sight for people to see a woman who is strong? I hope when my book comes out this will be more common sight to see- women who are strong. One day Alwyn and I even tried to do the circuit of fixed machines realizing why we never use machines EVER- I think we both hurt ourselves, they are so awkward and do nothing for me.

But our best workouts were on the TRX which we brought with us. We hooked it to a Volleyball court post and busted out a TRX workout which in that heat was one of the hardest workouts either of us had ever done. Packing a TRX is easy to take with you and you don't have to depend on the hotel having a good gym. And it is a great workout! We did a circuit of Bulgarian Split Squats, Push Ups, One Legged Squats, Inverted Rows and then we finished with a sprint run paired with Fall outs. It was tough!
We were both drenched with sweat and metabolisms up and ready for a day of lying by the pool and rehydrating when we were done.
Don't forget to pack your TRX for your next vacation! If you don't have a TRX- Click Here to get one today so you don't miss a workout on your next vacay.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Improve your 5K time!

I am a big believer in the right strength training program improving an endurance athletes performance. Think about it- why does a man always cross the finish line first? What is the main difference between males and females to make him faster? The only difference is strength. He is stronger than her. Improving your strength can improve your speed as well as decrease injuries and make you a better endurance athlete. I lifted weights with a functional strength program right through training for my Ironman.

A study done at Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida showed that using a strength training program 4x a week for 6 weeks, shaved a minute off of 5K times.

The program included-
Swiss Ball Crunches
Hip Extensions
Back Extensions
Russian Twist
and Bird Dog

These are all great core exercises and a pretty good regimine for a 5Ker. Looking back at past research most of the studies used extremely non functional strength training exercises like leg extensions or leg curls and ofcourse showed no improvement. No wonder strength training got a bad rap in the endurance community- they only had done studies using bodybuilder exercises that absolutely won't translate to a faster 5K time.

It is nice to hear about a study that used exercises that really work to see if there would be an improvement and there was!

Add in the above exercises to your regimen if you are an endurance athlete and feel the difference for yourself. Every step you take you will be more efficient, have more strength and therefore more power!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Big Book of Exercises Photo Shoot

In February when I went to do my photo shoot for my book I also ended up helping out another editor, Adam Campbell with an upcoming book called The Big Book of Exercises (out in the next few months). I had never been on a photo shoot so it was great experience to be able to work on Adam's photo shoot for a few days before my shoot(thanks for the practice Adam :)). And to tell you the truth I had a blast. It was a whole different day in the life for me than usual. I ended up staying for 2 weeks. You see Adam is trying to put every single possible exercise there is into this book of exercises. It is going to be the most comprehensive exercise book and should be extremely helpful. There is a women's version and a men's version.

Below is what it looks like on the photo shoot.

This particular shot was a pose and not an exercise. For the exercises I would go up and coach the model to do the exercise trying to get them exactly where I would want them. Then I would run back behind the camera and the computer and yell at the model to "tighten this or squeeze that or stand up taller or turn your foot this way, or suck your abs in or stick your hips out more or squeeze your butt more..." and when I liked the shot I would say- "Shoot!" and they would snap a few shots. I would look at the computer screen to see if the shot turned out ok and pick out which one to use and sometimes we would have to do more than one because many times what you are looking at looks different from what shows up on the screen and once we got it exactly right we would move on.

This sounds much easier than it was- you see, many of these models had never done any of these exercises before so no matter how good your coaching was you inevitably had a model who couldn't do an exercise or who you had to get to fake it or who even worse is more worried about how his hamstrings look than actually doing the exercise properly. We also had a few models show up with injuries- "By the way, I tore one of my obliques..." Huh? But you are our core model doing 77 Core exercises today... And when you are looking at the picture, you might be focused on- "Is their back in the right position?" because that's what you were looking at the most but in the mean time they moved their foot or something else. It isn't easy to get every single thing exactly right but I think we came extremely close for this book considering we had days where we would shoot 85 exercises with one tired model. By the 85th exercise the poor model was shaking and just needed some food. Not only did you have to make sure the exercise form was right but you also had a lighting guy who had to make sure the lighting was just right and with the females a make up person who needed the makeup and hair to look good. So every shot, one of us would go- Nope the lighting should be different, or nope her bruise is showing or nope he needs to stand up taller.... By the end we got it down to a science.

Things I learned-

1. Models look like that despite being able to do any functional exercise. Some of the models were amazing and made the day fly by because they obviously train with real functional exercises. But most of them I think have extremely good genetics and look amazing but don't have to train as hard as the average person does just to get somewhat fit.

2. To give them some credit- Those models worked their butts off! That is a tough job and I was just glad I was on the backside of the camera and not out there doing 85 exercises without probably having eaten for a few days. They work very hard! It is not all glamour as a fitness model.

3. Hanging out on a photo shoot with a bunch of Men's Health Models was not the experience I thought it would be :) It was work, I swear!

4. The female models have just as many insecurities as every other female I have ever worked with. Very interesting- the female psyche. Here are these women in amazing shape, models for a book and they even had hang ups about this or that about their body...

5. I have a whole new respect for any exercise pictures I see in a magazine or a book. It isn't as easy as you would think. Models show up with injuries or having never done an exercise before. Once you snap the shot and walk away from it, when you get the photos back- there is no reshooting, it is done. You have to get it right the first time.

Overall, I had a fantastic experience and I can't wait to see how the book turns out. Watch for it, The Big Book of Exercises.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

No more "But's" to get your Butt in Gear!

"Think about your thoughts" is something I tell my clients on a regular basis. Think about what you are saying to yourself in your own head daily. This can be very powerful because if I can transform the way they think, I can also transform the way they look and feel. Your body is listening to what your mind is telling it.

One way I can tell what their daily thoughts are is by listening to what they say out loud. A big red flag is when I hear the word, "But" a lot.

"I really want to lose this 5 pounds BUT I don't want to give up my wine every night."

"I would come to the gym four days a week BUT my schedule is too busy right now."

"I am trying to stick to my diet BUT during the summer I can't always plan and be prepared."

The list could go on and on....

Do you ever use the word "But"? The word "But" actually completely and totally negates everything you just said. It completely disqualifies whatever came before it. If you are going to use the word "But" you may as well not have even said your intention in the first place because as soon as you throw the word "But" in there you just gave yourself the out that what you said means NOTHING.

Think about your thoughts today and start to catch how many times you use the word "But," you'll be surprised!

Instead swap it out for the word "And." This will all of the sudden change your mindset to start looking for a solution to accomplish your intention that you said in the first place.

"I really want to lose this 5 pounds AND I don't want to give up my wine every night."

"I would come to the gym four days a week AND my schedule is too busy right now."

"I am trying to stick to my diet AND during the summer I can't always plan and be prepared."

See how when you change your "but's" to "And's" the first part of your sentence and the second part of your sentence can now coexist and you will look for a solution or a way to accomplish what you want to accomplish.

So from now on, the use of the word "But" is not allowed.

No more "But's" to get your Butt in gear! Now get your Butt to the gym!

And you better not say, "But...."