There was a time not so long ago in the fitness industry when “cardio”, or aerobic training, was all the rage. When one of the first questions people at the gym would ask is Kettlebell cardio Workout“what type of cardio do you do?” Cardio was elevated to god-like supremacy by experts in the field as the ultimate way to lose belly fat and get the body you had always dreamed of. Aerobics classes at local YMCA’s were full of overweight people earnestly trying to lose weight while trying to follow an overly enthusiastic instructor in neon spandex gyrating at the front of the room.

Cardio’s close relative, the high carbohydrate diet, was often part of the formula as well. Unfortunately, what the industry didn’t realize at the time was that cardio training plus a high carbohydrate diet were a couple of the most ineffective paths to weight loss. It’s not to say it couldn’t be done, it was by many people. However, this trend completely, and incorrectly, ignored the role of weight training and muscle building as part of the weight loss equation. Had people been thinking and not simply following the latest trend, they would have incorporated both cardiovascular exercise and strength training into their weight loss programs, therefore setting themselves up for greater success.

Thankfully for all, recent times have demonstrated a shift towards more productive methods for losing weight. The pendulum seems to have finally shifted back towards the center as the fitness industry corrects itself for years of spreading half-truths and where the focus is rightfully back on losing weight with weight rather than avoiding it like the plague.

The Truth behind Weight Loss

At the time, who could have predicted that the truth about losing weight actually revolved around building muscle? Some might have, but the idea never gained traction and certainly wasn’t promoted widely. There are four simple truths that now favour weight training as the prime method for fat loss rather than strictly aerobic training:

1. Body fat is not metabolically active. During aerobic activity, if glucose is limited as an energy source, the body will burn body fat as its preferred source of energy. However, once the activity stops the body will no longer be in a fat-burning mode, so fat loss rapidly diminishes.

2. Muscle is very metabolically active. It requires a lot of energy during the day to maintain itself; its engine is always running, as it were. Logically then, this means that even while you’re not exercising your body will be a fat-burning machine, 24/7.

3. Points one and two are subject to a specific change in diet, namely a move towards a diet more focused on healthy fats, lean proteins and leafy green vegetables and a move away from an overabundance of carbohydrates such as potatoes, rice, bread, etc.

4. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the king when it comes to fat loss. So much so that aerobic training can’t even compete. HIIT makes you work harder in a shorter period of time, that’s good for efficiency and great for fat loss.

These four points in conjunction form the basis for the design of more effective weight loss programs. The final factor for our purposes is the growth in popularity of the kettlebell.

The Kettlebell Advantage

Kettlebells are the Swiss Army knife of the strength training world. They are arguably the most versatile tool out there for building strength, muscular endurance and improving cardiovascular fitness. Four our purposes we’re going to outline how you can use kettlebells, in combination with the aforementioned change in diet, to produce some truly incredible physical results.

The Workout Routine

When it comes to workout routines I’ve always believed that simple is best. During my training I want to be able to focus on the effort I’m putting out and not worrying about all the other extemporaneous factors like counting time under tension or looking for a spotter. Thankfully, there’s one kettlebell exercise that, when made the main focus for your workout, will give you results like no other, enter the kettlebell swing.

The beauty of the swing is that it’s a very simple movement to learn and perform, yet works so many muscles at one time; glutes, hamstrings, hips, lats, abs, shoulders, pecs and grip. It’s your one-stop shop for losing weight fast. There are dozens of “how-to” videos on youtube.com, so I suggest you go there for directions on form. Below are a couple of good instructional Youtube links:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-LvhjWh1vA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAYZ9gKZaI0

Regarding routines, again, it need not be complicated. I would suggest four days a weeks starting out; Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Each of those days perform 20 sets of 20 reps of the swing. Rest between a minute to two minutes between sets. If you’re using a kettlebell that’s approximately 70% of the max weight you can handle you’ll be breaking a pretty good sweat by the end of your workout. Do this for six weeks, back off the starches and carbohydrates, and I guarantee that the pounds will melt off. Good luck!

So, you’re really busy, huh? Time is tight and you have too many obligations; kids homework and after school activities, job commitments, keeping the home running smoothly, and somewhere in there trying to connect on some level with your partner, it isn’t easy and it can sometimes be overwhelming. It’s no wonder that taking care of yourself physically and mentally is so often the last priority; it’s not that you don’t want too; it’s just a matter of finding the time and being in the right headspace. Its ok, I understand.

With so much going on it’s hard to put your own needs first as losing weight may seem impossible, not to mention seem quite unimportant, compared to your child’s efforts at school or that emergency report that has to be written and on the boss’s desk by nine o’clock the following morning. But what if I told you it is possible, very possible; to lose weight fast and effectively, and get this, in only four minutes a day! Do I sound like an infomercial? No matter, it is possible and you can do it.

Believe it or not there is a workout routine that will not only help you lose weight fast, but will also only take up four minutes of your time daily. It’s challenging, as you might expect, but it completely eliminates the excuse of a lack of time. The biggest problem now is that there just aren’t any more excuses.

The Best Weight Loss Program You’ve Never Heard Of

Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun, has given us many wonderful and useful things; sushi, the Walkman, Karate, and into this short list I would also tentatively place the Tabata protocol. “Discovered” by Dr. Izumi Tabata during his time working with physically active male students in Japan, what’s now known as the “Tabata Protocol” was a training method that incorporated short bursts of all-out activity with short rest periods cycled for just four minutes. During the famous study he and his colleagues found that seven to eight sets of all out exercise (170% of V02max – also known as maximal oxygen uptake, which is the body’s ability to transport oxygen during exercise, reflecting the physical fitness of the person) for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest, allowed the athletes to increase their anaerobic capacity by 28%!

So, what does that mean to you? It means that by exercising all out for 20 seconds, and then resting for 10 seconds, and repeating this cycle eight times, that your body will become a fat burning machine. The schedule looks like this.

Warm-Up

20 seconds – all out exercise

10 seconds – rest

20 seconds – all out exercise

10 seconds – rest

20 seconds – all out exercise

10 seconds – rest

20 seconds – all out exercise

10 seconds – rest

20 seconds – all out exercise

10 seconds – rest

20 seconds – all out exercise

10 seconds – rest

20 seconds – all out exercise

10 seconds – rest

20 seconds – all out exercise

10 seconds – rest

Cool Down

It’s that simple, but don’t be fooled. There is a very good chance that you’ve never done anything even half as hard when it comes to weight loss, but the effort is worth it. Now that you have the workout routine laid out the question becomes what kind of exercise should you do?

Exercises

In the original study participating individuals were on stationary bikes, but there is any number of exercises you could perform. Starting out I would strongly suggest only using your bodyweight with no other resistance and keep the exercises relatively simple. As you become more “comfortable” with this type of training and your body adapts you can go ahead and use some form of resistance as well. See below for a couple of lists outlining some bodyweight and resistance exercises (demonstrations can all be found at Youtube.com):

Bodyweight

Rope Jumping

Sprinting

Box Jumps

Push-Ups

Crunches

Pull-Ups

Hindu Squats

Resistance

Any of the exercises listed above while wearing a weighted vest

Medicine Ball Slams

Kettlebell Swings

Elastic Band Rows

I would also suggest keeping the type of exercise relatively simple. You’ll discover quite quickly that by the time you reach the fourth or fifth round of exercise you’ll be breathing hard, and the last thing you’ll want to do is focus on completing a complicated movement pattern. This isn’t Zumba class. Simple is definitely best as your coordination will be strongly affected from the accumulated fatigue. In the end you’ll find that finishing becomes a matter of sheer will and determination, rather than physical output.

Workout Routine Variations

Depending on the amount of time you have, your motivation, your energy levels and your goals, you may want to try performing multiple Tabata’s in one workout. Even by combining a few different exercises you could finish an entire belly fat burning workout in about 20 minutes. Two exercises back to back would look like this:

Warm-Up – 5 Minutes (Light rope jumping, light jogging on the spot)

20 seconds – Box jumps

10 seconds – rest

20 seconds – Box jumps

10 seconds – rest

20 seconds – Box jumps

10 seconds – rest

20 seconds – Box jumps

10 seconds – rest

20 seconds – Box jumps

10 seconds – rest

20 seconds – Box jumps

10 seconds – rest

20 seconds – Box jumps

10 seconds – rest

20 seconds – Box jumps

10 seconds – rest

Rest – 2 Minutes (or just enough to move to the following exercise)

20 seconds – Pull-Ups

10 seconds – rest

20 seconds – Pull-Ups

10 seconds – rest

20 seconds – Pull-Ups

10 seconds – rest

20 seconds – Pull-Ups

10 seconds – rest

20 seconds – Pull-Ups

10 seconds – rest

20 seconds – Pull-Ups

10 seconds – rest

20 seconds – Pull-Ups

10 seconds – rest

20 seconds – Pull-Ups

10 seconds – rest

Cool Down – 5 Minutes (Walking, stretching)

Conceivably you could add as many exercises as you like but I’d venture that any more than four in one workout might be asking for burnout. I’d also aim for three to four workouts per week, maybe Monday, Wednesday, Friday, plus an occasional Saturday if you’re up to it.

In creating your weight loss workout programs one of the keys is to design something that you’ll have the ability to finish. Success breeds success, so don’t bog yourself down right away if you think you won’t be able to finish. It might actually take several months before the idea of even throwing in a second exercise becomes a reality for you. That’s fine as long as you’re finishing each exercise you add.

Here’s one last practical consideration regarding the set-up of your exercises. Make sure to do it beforehand and not during. The last thing you want to be doing is trying to find equipment or move gear around after just completing a gut-buster of a set. If you have everything ready to go then all you have to worry about is completing each set successfully.

So now you know the secret to losing weight fast. Before starting any exercise program though it’s good to check with your doctor just to make sure you’ll be physically able to perform without ay health risks, and this particular program is no different. It doesn’t come easy, but if you’re dedicated and consistent in your training the weight will melt off. Good luck!

As definitions go, I can’t do any better than what the Oxford Dictionary presents for “core”:  The muscles of the torso, especially the lower back and abdominal area, which assist in the maintenance of good posture and balance.

core trainingIf you’ve even been marginally involved in fitness over the last five years I can virtually guarantee that you’ve heard the words “core training” used at one point or another. In some contexts it’s become another annoying buzzword that trainers like to throw around to prove their worth; however, in another context it represents a foundational training principle that has almost single-handedly changed the way we look at how the human body functions.

One of the key philosophies that comes out of “core training” is that the vast majority of the time the muscles involved work synergistically, and not independently of one another. Meaning that while training there is a much lower emphasis on muscle isolation and more focus on having key muscle groups work together, which makes sense if you consider the muscles that surround your torso;

transversus abdominismultifidusinternal and external obliquesrectus abdominiserector spinae and longissimus thoracis, among a few others (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Core_(anatomy). Not to worry, there won’t be a test, but this at least shows you that we’re talking about several different muscles.

In this article we’ll be looking at why the core muscles should play an important part of your workout routine, and tips that will help you strengthen your core both directly and indirectly.

Benefits of core training

As the name suggests your core muscles are the center of your body’s strength. A strong, well maintained core will make you more powerful, as well as enhance your equilibrium and trunk stability. Let’s look at a few other benefits:

Preventing back injuries

Lower back injuries are one of the most common (and preventable) types of physical injuries out there. Most of the time I’d submit that the injury comes down to poor lifting form or weak core muscles. The obvious solution is to then be careful of form and exercise the core musculature in your thighs, lower back and abdomen.

Improving balance

You may not be thinking about balance right now, but you will once you hit 60. As we get older it becomes more and more important to maintain our balance through flexibility and core training. It’s simply a fact of life that we have to work harder to maintain our physical health as we age. It also goes without saying that any athlete would benefit from improved balance.

Improving posture

An improved posture is a guarantee from specific core training. This can’t help but happen as all of the muscles involved with your core are responsible for keeping you upright. Functionally as well, there are few musculoskeletal issues that can negatively affect an individual more than bad posture.

Improving performance

Exercising the core muscles, both with static stretching and an intelligently designed workout routine, are effective in enhancing flexibility and building overall strength. Since virtually every type of physical activity involves the use of these muscles it only makes sense that a stronger and more flexible core will benefit you and your performance.

Core training tips

Stability balls/balancing devices – You’ve probably seen people laying or standing precariously on some shaky object at the gym while holding some type of weighted object above them. Whether its stability balls, balance boards, balance disks, or a similar piece of equipment, they all provide a measure of instability to help work your core muscle groups in various ways. For the most part they are effective if used correctly and prudently. If you chose to incorporate them into your workout routine just be sure to focus on form and check your ego at the door regarding the amount of weight you’re lifting, using them can be a humbling experience. Find some great stability exercises here: http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/gear/equipment/best-stability-ball-exercises/

Medicine balls – Medicine balls can easily provide you with an intense workout that will absolutely fry your core muscles. Whether it’s slamming the ball on the ground or throwing it for height or distance, medicine balls will work you from head to toe. As with any type of weighted implement, don’t go too heavy until you’re very comfortable with the movement pattern and you’ve developed the strength to handle the movement effectively. Find great medicine ball exercises here: http://www.performbetter.com/wcsstore/PerformBetter/catalog/assets/Excercisesheets/PDF/MedBall%20Handout.pdf

Standing up – As far as core training goes, there are certain exercises that have more of a synergistic effect on the musculature of the core than others. In this group I would place any standing overhead movements. When you lift a weight overhead, a heavy kettlebell let’s say, you’re forcing your lower back and midsection to hold your body in place, to stabilize yourself against the downward force of the weight and gravity. In other words, your body becomes the bench and your trunk muscles are forced to work overtime. By standing up, lifting overhead and not using a weight belt you create an exercise environment that will always be focused on developing the core.

Developing a strong core should be at the top of your priority list when it comes to physical accomplishments. Your efforts will be rewarded tenfold with the following results; injury prevention, improved posture, balance and performance. Remember how is a strong core developed? By implementing stability balls and balancing devices in your core training workout plan, by incorporating medicine balls in your workout plan and by standing up, lifting weight overhead and throwing aside the weight belt. For more on core training and strength development please go to http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/abdominalcorestrength1/a/NewCore.htm. Now go to it and best of luck!