I used to cringe at the word “circuit”. It put me in mind of people mindlessly moving from one piece of exercise equipment to another, sheep like, without ever quite knowing why they were doing what they were doing. From leg curl to seated bicep curl to shoulder Kettlebell training from the frontrotation to pec dec, it seemed to me the exercise equivalent of mashed potatoes – bland and uninspired. I spent years, literally years, looking down on workout routines like circuits as ineffective for anything more than a chance for a good sit down and I avoided them like the plague. My perceptions weren’t helped when some of the more popular exercise and diet programs focused on performing circuits as a way for their clients to lose weight fast. A branded workout routine that was the same for everyone was just the thing I wasn’t interested in.

I’ve come to three major conclusions in my two decades in the iron game; Number one, bigger isn’t always better. Gaining and maintaining an extra 30-40 lbs. of muscle mass is a full-time endeavour, by the time you reach your mid-thirties all that bulk becomes more of a liability than anything else. Stick to the benefits of building great relative strength, your heart, joints and stomach will thank you. Number two, there are a million of different ways to get strong and build muscle, if you try and do them all you will end up very frustrated with your lack of progress. Stick to one type of training for the majority of what you do and you will reap the benefits. Finally, number three, I was dead wrong about circuits. If done properly circuits build muscle, increase endurance, burn fat and give your heart slightly more than tickle in the process. I’m happy to admit I was wrong.

Kettlebell Circuit Benefits

Time – Those of you with an overabundance of time on your hands need not think about this aspect of training. But for those with a full-time job, children, house maintenance, extra-curricular commitments (the list goes on and on), a few spare minutes can be hard to come by. That’s where circuits come in. All you really need is about 20-30 minutes daily to really make a noticeable impact on your physique. You don’t even need to work out every day, four to five times a week would do it, and at five times per week that would be 125 minutes or just over two hours. Considering there are 168 hours in a seven day week it should be possible (despite other pressing commitments) to squeeze in that two hours. The beauty also is that it will be an extremely productive couple of hours. I might also throw in here a case for building a home gym as noting will save you more time and money than just popping down to you basement or out to your garage in order to have a workout.

Building Muscle – If your diet is dialled in then the type of workout routine you’re doing is the second biggest factor in building muscle, and circuits are a great way to provide the stimulus for that muscle growth. Six to ten repetitions for four to five sets with a somewhat heavy weight is a good place to start. Keep rest periods timed so that the amount of stimulation you’re providing to your muscles is constant. Since kettlebells generally weigh a fixed amount keeping track of rest times between sets is an effective way to ensure continued muscle stimulus. Remember too that at rest, muscle will continue fat burning because it’s metabolically active, so building muscle is an important part of the weight loss formula.

Increased Endurance and Conditioning – Circuits provide can not only the physical benefits associated with strength training, but also the benefits associated with any type of cardiovascular training. With limited rest periods and full-body standing movements you’ll be huffing and puffing like a freight train in short order. Your heart will be working overtime and your lungs will be operating at maximum capacity for the duration of the circuit. If you consider that most people do cardio for about a half hour at a time on the treadmill or elliptical machine, then this type of circuit is the equivalent of these purely cardiovascular workout but with the added benefit of muscle building thrown in for good measure.

Weight Loss – When we talk about “weight loss” we’re actually referring to fat loss. Since circuits do build muscle, and increase conditioning, it is a given that they will burn fat as well. I have found that the greatest “trick” to fat loss while training, along with a proper diet, is timing. Training first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, except for some water and maybe green tea, is a great way to melt off the fat. Since your body has no blood glucose or stored glycogen to use as fuel it will go directly to your fat stores for energy. Also, if it’s a really intense workout that raises your heart rate substantially, your body will still be burning fat long after the workout itself is complete.

Workout Routines

The beauty with circuit workout routines is that they can be made as complicated or as simple as you need them to be. The following are a couple of examples, but you can create one tailored specifically to your goals.

Workout Routine #1 – Strength and Muscle Builder

Monday
A-1 Two Kettlebell Clean and Press
A-2 One Kettlebell Goblet Squat
B-1 Kettlebell Renegade Row
B-2 Two Kettlebell Swing

Wednesday
A-1 Two Kettlebell Snatch
A-2 Two Kettlebell Front Squat
B-1 Two Kettlebell Clean
B-2 Alternating Kettlebell Swings

Friday
A-1 Two Kettlebell Floor Press
A-2 Two Kettlebell Deadlift
B-1 Wide Grip Chins with Kettlebell
B-2 One-Arm Kettlebell Swings

For this routine you could perform A-1 and A-2 for five sets of five reps with one minutes rest in between each exercise with weights that are approximately 70% of your maximum. For example, on Monday you would perform the Two Kettlebell Clean and Press, wait one minute and perform the One Kettlebell Goblet Squat, wait one minute more and perform the Two Kettlebell Clean and Press, etc. until the five sets are complete. At this point you would move on to the following two exercises and perform them in the same manner. The beauty with this routine is that each session is only about 25 minutes long and hits all the major muscles with compound movements.

Workout Routine #2 – Conditioning and Fat Loss

Monday
Two Kettlebell Swing 10X10
Turkish Get-Ups 3×1

Tuesday
One Arm Kettlebell Snatches 10×10
Windmills 3×1

Thursday
Alternating Kettlebell Swings 10×10
Turkish Get-Ups 3×1

Friday
One Kettlebell Clean and Press
Windmills 3×1

This routine looks fairly simple in its design, but the trick is in the rest periods. For example, in the first week you would perform your exercises with two minutes of rest in between sets. The second week you would have one minute and forty five seconds of rest, the third week one minute and thirty seconds, etc. until you were down to one minute or even forty five seconds of rest in between sets. By manipulating rest periods the exercises get increasingly harder making you work harder and therefore increasing both conditioning and fat loss.

Weight loss programs or strength building programs need not be complicated, and kettlebells circuits proves this right. So hit the gym and get to it!

Think “bodybuilding”, and what comes immediately to mind? Well developed muscles, ultra low body fat levels and an appealing symmetrical build? Or perhaps narcissism, ego and an overabundance of drug use? If you asked 100 people in the fitness industry their Personal trainer dumbbell liftingthoughts on the “sport” of amateur or professional bodybuilding, you’d receive a huge variety of answers. Some people love it and see it as a way of sculpting the ideal physique through proper, intelligent training, strict diet, and discipline and dedication. For these people bodybuilding is a chance to improve themselves on not only a physical level, but also on an intellectual and emotional level. Others though, see bodybuilding as an activity for those with inferiority complexes. For those who want to show off their bloated, “fake” muscles and strut around with their lats spread wide and skin tight t-shirts, for those who crave attention and who train for the shallowest of reasons. For these people bodybuilding is nothing but a circus sideshow.

The reality is though; bodybuilding is what you make it. In the early to mid 20th century bodybuilders, before the days of rampant pharmaceutical drug use, there were “strongmen” who performed Vaudevillian type shows to demonstrate their feats of strength. Whether it was lifting a number of grown men on a platform or pulling a railroad car, these performers had real functional strength. They definitely looked the part, with well developed muscles and impressive overall physiques, but they were entertainers as well and would use their strength as a means to wow an audience, rather than simply posing in small trunks on a well lit stage.

The title of this piece, “Functional Bodybuilding”, refers to the days when strength was just as important, if not more important, than looks. That bodybuilding simply meant “building your body” through heavy lifting and physical activity, and the physique that resulted was a by-product of the work you put in, and wasn’t the goal in and of itself. There are still ways to achieve a “functional” build or physique; it’s just that people have abandoned these methods because they were deemed “old-fashioned” or “traditional.” Replaced by high-tech, scientifically backed research, today’s training methods are seen as superior. The old way gets pushed aside in the name of progress, as is so often the case. This is unfortunate for those who are really looking for results because some of the simplest and least complex training methods have achieved the greatest results.

Old-Time Bodybuilding

The physiques of old-time strongmen were impressive, but you’d never see an individual with bloated muscles who could barley move because of their size. Often, the look was more dense and sinewy, rather than freakishly big. So, how did the old-timers achieve their results considering they were often much smaller in overall size than modern day bodybuilders, but much stronger pound for pound? The answer is fourfold.

Number one is exercise and the types of movements performed in their workout routines. Back in the day lifters would perform all kinds of moves that modern day fitness buffs wouldn’t have a clue about: the crucifix, the two hands anyhow and Turkish Get-Ups. They would perform dozens of overhead movements such as cleans and presses (one hand and two hand), snatches, swings, bent presses and floor presses and all varieties of off-the-ground lifts like deadlifts, hacklifts and finger lifts. These are the type of movements that would rarely find their way into modern gyms. But they worked the body and muscles in much different ways than many of the exercises you’d see today.

Number two is how the exercises were performed. Generally, the idea of 3 sets of 10 didn’t mean much to the old-timers. This type of training is good for overall health and some muscular development, but for building strong muscles nothing was better than low reps and heavy weights. By low reps I mean five and below and often singles. By sticking to lower reps and higher weights lifters would not necessarily build the mass that you see currently with the crop of bodybuilders featured in glossy magazines, but pound for pound they would be much stronger. Some well known routines include 5×5, 5,4,3,2,1, 10×3 or several singles with increasing weight.

Number three are the tools of the trade. One of the things that stands out about strongmen of old was their enormous grip strength. It was common for training sessions to include thick handled barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells. They lifted heavy, awkward objects like barrels filled with water, anvils, people on platforms, nothing was off limits, but the type of exercise performed were always incorporated all the major muscles at once. There were rarely any isolation movements such as side lateral raises or bicep curls performed as they really didn’t contribute to overall strength development.

Finally, number four is diet. Looking back on the diets of the old-time lifters is an interesting exercise as there were none of the “scientifically engineered” food products that are available today. They just ate food. However, of interest is that many of the old-time strongmen were European, so their diets consisted of sometimes different fare, but mostly they ate just a lot of good, healthy food. Diets included eggs, meat, porridge, vegetables, salads, sweet fruits, puddings, tea, fish, butter, cheese and beer. Although in today’s world butter, cheese and beer are not considered ideal foods for muscle and strength building, I might suggest that despite their “bad” reputations that their virtue comes from the fact that they are unprocessed, as many of our foods are today. Some food for thought.

The old-timers knew what they were doing and got strong because of it. Training was an art to them and not a science. If you’re looking to get bigger and stronger, then it might be worth looking back rather than forward.

Non-Traditional Workout Routines

I like potatoes. Always have. I like them mashed, I like them baked, and I like them pan-fried. I like yellow skinned potatoes, I like red skinned potatoes and I like brown skinned potatoes. If someone brought me an orange skinned potato I’d probably like that one too. In fact, I’m willing to eat, and prepared to like, pretty much any variation of a potato that’s served to me. Sometimes though, I want a change. No, scratch that, I crave a change. I crave something to enliven my senses, to challenge the way I think about edible tubers, to make me feel truly alive. Something, in short, like the sweet potato.

Sweet potatoes do it for me. They’re risqué enough to satisfy my need to be a rebel at the dinner table and to give my taste buds a comestible boost, but not so risqué as to upset my need for comfort and tradition. They challenge me and take me to the next level gustatorially, all the while remaining a simple root vegetable. I like that dichotomy; it speaks to me on many levels.

Workout routines stir up the same emotions in me as tubers do. There are certain ones that I gravitate to naturally. They’re good, they’re comfortable and they more than get the job done. They may not be sexy, or the latest and greatest thing splashed through infomercials on early-morning Saturday TV, but they’re solid, day in and day out, and they get the job done. I depend on them for the bulk of my training. They carry the load.

Sometimes though, I feel the need to change directions, to break out of the norm and try something new, to eat the sweet potato, as it were. This is often as much to challenge my mental state as my physical one. There are dozens of ways to inject some life into your day-in and day-out workout routines, and that’s what we’ll look at next.

Equipment

As you can probably imagine, non-traditional workouts require some non-traditional training equipment. Thankfully, changing it up doesn’t require a fistful of dollars as many things listed below can be had for very cheap (think military surplus) or for nothing at all (think local quarry). The list isn’t exhaustive, but it is extensive, and creativity is the key. See below:

Sandbags – Buy them at the local hardware store or buy a duffel bag at an army surplus store, fill it up to the desired weight in sand/gravel, wrap it up in electrical tape and you’re good to go.

Thick Rope – Again, your local hardware store. Attach it to a sled (filled with weight), lay the rope out in a straight line (about 30 feet), sit down on the ground and start pulling the sled towards you by pulling the rope.

Wheelbarrow – Fill it with sandbags, rocks, dirt, anything heavy really, and walk with it.

Stones – Your local quarry should have some to spare, or check out the ditches next to your local highway. They’re great for lifting and throwing; also good for some more traditional exercises like overhead lifts, squats and deadlifts.

Tractor Tires – You should be able to find one of these from a local junk yard or a heavy equipment repair shop. With this one you need the space to be able to store it, so a large backyard would definitely come in handy. Great for flipping.

Sledgehammer – Can be picked up for relatively cheap at your local hardware store. Come in different weights ranging from about six pounds all the way up to 20 pounds. They can be used simply to pound the ground or an old tire. It’s a great way of warming up or building muscular endurance.

Weighted Vest – These can be picked up at many fitness retailers and can various models can hold from 5 pounds all the way up to 100 or 150 pounds. Wear one while you perform your “normal” weight workouts or wear one while you perform bodyweight exercises. Either way, it makes whatever you’re doing ten times harder.

Canvas Backpack – This is the economical version of the weighted vest, but it often can be just as effective. You can pick up a used one at ay army surplus store and it will be durable to say the least. Drop in some sandbags and go for a long hike or perform some bodyweight exercises.

Sled – An old winter sled will do, but just make sure it’s strong enough to handle the loads you’ll give it. Load it up with rocks, sandbags, or whatever else you like and pull, drag, push it for distance or time.

Links of Chain – Large old chain links are great for carrying or dragging. You might be able to score some for free, or at least for pretty cheap, at your local ship yard.

Cars – You need a car, a parking lot and a driver. Have someone steer and ride the brake pedal a bit while you push the car around the parking lot. Quick tip, an early Sunday or Saturday morning is probably best to avoid traffic.

Workout Routines

When it comes to creating workout routines for these movements you can implement a few different methods. See below:

Time – For ay of the movements listed above you can challenge yourself by doing them for time. For example, you could drag a sled for a total of 20 minutes. Simply load the sled, start the stop watch and pull until the full 20 minutes are up. You’ll have to take short breathers during the workout, but by the time your stopwatch signals the end you’ll be toast. Alternatively, you could do several one minutes sets, dragging the sled around for predetermined amounts of time. Be creative and change it up, but no matter how you do it timed sets are a bear.

Distance – Try picking up a couple of cinder blocks, one in each hand, and walking a kilometre with them, stopping as necessary to rest your hands. I’ve done it, and believe me; I felt it all over the following day. Any one of the exercises above can be done the same way; going for a long walk or hike wearing a weighted vest or weighted backpack, flipping a tractor tire for half a kilometre, pulling a weighted sled for a couple of kilometres. It’s motivating to know where your finish line is and that with every step or every flip that you’re a little bit closer to the end.

Repetitions – Have you ever picked up a heavy barrel from the ground to one shoulder 50 times? It’s a killer. Now try doing that with both shoulders, and then try squatting with the barrel on both shoulders for 50 reps each side, and then finish off by deadlifting the barrel for 50 reps. If nothing else you’ll learn to hate the number “50”. Setting a high number of repetitions as a goal is a great way to supercharge your workout routine. Just pick a number, pick an exercise and work towards your set goal, slowly and methodically. It’s a great way to spend an hour early on a Saturday morning.

Regardless of the exercise you choose or the workout routine you prefer, using any one of these non-traditional workout methods will add some spice to workout schedule. They allow you to challenge yourself without necessarily needing to do them every day. They’re a way to break the routine, a kick in the pants as it were, a motivator to force you to go beyond your normal limits. So dig in, the sweet potato really is awesome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Losing weight is a difficult proposition at the best of times. It’s often an uphill battle, especially if it’s your first time trying to make sense of the multitude of fad diets and trying to wrap your mind around the hundreds of workout routines and weight loss programs out there. You can be forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed sometimes. Luckily, as gravity or E=MC2 are fundamental unarguable truths about our physical universe, there are fundamental unarguable truths about losing weight that when taken into consideration can make the battle much easier to win.

As you’ve no doubt already noticed the fitness industry is booming and the marketing machine is working overtime. You can’t turn on the TV without seeing the latest infomercials touting the newest and best workout routines, weight loss programs, or health products. Stop by your local chain bookstore and browse the fitness section and you’ll find hundreds of titles dedicated to making you stronger, slimmer, bigger and leaner, among dozens of other physical attributes ending in “e-r” that the fitness industry thinks you should find important.

The truth behind the hundreds of millions of dollars spent annually on coaxing, prodding and guilting you to part with large sums of your hard earned money in exchange for a hard earned body is that most diet books, infomercials and weight loss articles are actually saying the same thing. Strip away the marketing veneer and what you’re left with are a few unarguable, fundamental truths about weight loss that apply to everyone, all the time. They aren’t complicated and they aren’t earth shattering, but they are true. Unfortunately, the fitness industry in its zeal to continue making millions, has tricked people into believing that the secret code to physical perfection lies only with a few gifted individuals. Let’s debunk this myth right now. Understand and follow the weight loss do’s and don’ts below and you’ll know a least 70% of what you have to in order to beat the bulge and lose that belly fat forever.

Do’s

Drink water – Water keeps your metabolism, namely your kidneys and liver, working efficiently to break down and remove waste from the body. This allows more efficient fat burning. Water also plays a role in thermogenesis, a process that increases body temperature, therefore increasing your metabolic rate and finally burning more calories at rest.

Eat your vegetables – Fibre is the key with vegetables. A high fibre intake will leave you feeling full longer therefore reducing your overall caloric intake. Eating a high veggie diet will also keep your metabolism revved up longer therefore allowing calories to be burned for a longer period of time. So don’t be shy and make leafy green and multi coloured cruciferous vegetables a big part of your daily diet.

Eat fat – To beat fat you have to eat fat. The fats found in cold water fish (salmon, mackerel), avocados, almonds and olive oil all play a beneficial role in regulating your appetite. There is some discussion that these type of “fatty” foods help increase thermogenesis, therefore forcing the body to burn more calories at rest. The heart healthy and anti-inflammatory benefits of such foods can’t be ignored either as a sick or injured athlete isn’t going to be spending their time hitting the gym or going for a run.

Take your time – Be the turtle, slow and steady wins the race. Impatience can be a killer when it comes to staying consistent on a diet and achieving your goals. The key is to work in manageable chunks with defined goals attached to each one so that you never get overwhelmed and you know ahead of time that the timeline is reasonable. Choosing to lose 6-8 pounds through diet and exercise over the course of one month is a reasonable and attainable goal. Physically and mentally a goal of this size shouldn’t be overly taxing which means you would stand a good chance of achieving it. On the other hand, working to lose 30 pounds in one month would undoubtedly leave you feeling physically and mentally exhausted, with no reasonable chance of achieving your goal. Patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to weight loss programs.

Eliminate processed foods and sugary drinks – There is perhaps no easier way of improving your odds of success while following a diet plan than eliminating processed foods and sugar-laden drinks from your daily diet. Highly processed foods such as cakes and sweets, luncheon meats, sugary cereals and all fast foods (except the salads) do nothing but ravage your body with high levels of high fructose corn syrup, sodium and countless unpronounceable ingredients added for taste, colour and preservation. Scale these items way back and you’ve already done yourself a huge favour. Also, be wary of fruit juices and “energy” drinks that promote fluid replacement during exercise. Basically, they are the same thing, sugar water. A fruit juice like orange juice would even be the better choice, especially if it has the pulp. The bottom line is stick to water to remain hydrated. One final weight loss tip, imagine your grocery story like a doughnut (ironically enough), spend 90% of your time on the perimeter because that’s where the fruits and veggies, milk products, meat, fish and grains are usually found. Virtually all the processed foods are located in the doughnut’s hole, in the isles, so cruise there sparingly.

Don’ts

Skip the protein – Eating the right combination and an abundance of amino acids builds muscle. Since amino acids are the building blocks of protein you have to get enough. There is a lot of talk about protein amounts regarding muscle growth, fat loss and fat gain. Some say athletes should consume 2-3 times their body-weight in grams of protein in order to build mass (i.e. eating 300 grams of protein for a 150 lb. individual). Others say extra protein isn’t necessary, so don’t worry about it too much. In the end, keep it around the middle, consume about your body-weight in grams of protein and you’ll avoid muscle loss while dieting ad will build some muscle as well.

Focus on the scale – For far too long the scale has been the “go to” device when it came to dieting. Fortunately, times have changed and the scale has pretty much gone the way of the dodo. Your diet plan should have you get a skin fold test to determine your ratio of lean mass to fat mass. Other than weighing yourself in a tub of water, this is the most accurate method of determining how much muscle and fat you have. Focus on your body’s ratio of lean to fat mass and simply looking in the mirror, those two ways are pretty good indicators. Scales distort the fact and give inaccurate information. They don’t take into account the differences between muscle weight, bone weight and fat weight. Stop using one and move on.

Skip meals – Never skip meals, period. You may think you’re doing yourself a favour, but you’re not. You’re body is very smart. It can tell when there’s a lack of calories coming in and it’s first response to this assumed calorie deficit is to hold on to any body fat you have in order to ensure that there is enough energy for it to function correctly. Did you get that? Your body will keep your body so that it doesn’t starve. The only way it will release this fat is by feeling that there are enough calories coming in. This is why yo-yo dieting doesn’t work. Your body feels like there are going to be lean times ahead so it protects itself by keeping all the energy stores it has. Therefore it becomes nearly impossible for you burn this fat as you’re fighting against your body’s own survival mechanism. Just eat 4-5 small, well-balanced snacks and meals a day and maybe a small protein shake after your workout and this shouldn’t be an issue.

Eliminate carbohydrates – Not entirely true, eliminate simple, processed carbs and you’re getting the picture. Cakes, cookies, pies, candy; anything made with a lot of white sugar is a no-no 95% of the time. You actually want to keep some carbs in your diet, but make sure they are of the complex variety; oatmeal, whole grain breads, whole grain rice, whole grain pasta’s sweet potatoes, etc. The key with complex carbs is portion size. Remember, just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean it can’t help you gain fat. Moderate portion sizes are important here, although I know the temptation of heading back for a second helping of spaghetti and meatballs. Complex carbs are important because of the fiber they bring to your diet plan. So don’t eliminate them, just control them.

Listen to Fad diets – Fad diets are a dime a dozen. Some may work, some may not. The fact of the matter is that nothing will beat intense exercise coupled with a balanced diet containing complex carbs, healthy fats and lean proteins. Stick to this equation and you’ll be fine. Whether it’s the Grapefruit Diet, Atkins, The Zone Diet or the South Beach Diet, stick to the basic principles listed in this article and they become irrelevant.

Eat well, but eat smart and losing weight is easy as one, two, three.

 

 

So, you’ve finally decided to take the plunge and commit to some healthy living and weight loss. You’ve scoped out your local fitness supply diet and weight losswarehouse and decided on a couple of kettlebells, a chin-up bar, and a stability ball to start your home gym. It’s an exciting time as you’ve been thinking about this for a while now and things are finally coming together. You’ve been reading some great articles on workout routines, and weight loss at —————–.com and you’ve mapped out a workable schedule for yourself, so you’re feeling pretty confident about the direction you’re headed and your overall workout plan. You’re pumped to try the kettlebell to help you lose some of that unwanted belly fat and you’ve decided your spare bedroom is going to play host to the action. Even with all this done though, you’re smart enough to realize that you’ve yet to tackle the most critical element of this endeavour; food.

Now that all the preliminary work is done comes the real challenge of deciding which foods will be your best bet for losing weight and building muscle. It’s the challenge of walking around your local grocery store trying to figure out which foods are going to help you achieve your goals and which foods will actually really hurt your progress. It’s also, and maybe more importantly, the challenge of redefining your lifestyle.

When it comes food change is tough, but it’s an opportunity to try new things and the physical changes you will see and feel simply due to a change in diet will astonish you.

We’re about to take a look at 10 superfoods that will help you along your way, your allies in the war against stubborn body fat. Foods that are not only good for you, but foods that will actually speed up the process and help you lose weight fast. They are your trump card, learn to enjoy them and incorporate them into your daily life. You won’t be sorry.

Water

If there’s one “food” that we all have easy access to its water. Once you learn that your body is made up primarily of water it shouldn’t surprise you how important it is for health promotion, including fat loss and metabolism. There are a number of reasons why water is on this list;

  1. Water controls appetite and by drinking a lot you don’t eliminate hunger, but you do moderate it.
  2. Water keeps muscles hydrated. When muscles are hydrated they work at peak efficiency during your training, there stimulating muscle growth. More muscle means more metabolically active tissue that will burn more fat.
  3. The more water you drink the more you have to urinate. By clearing your kidneys often you help clear the body of waste products, by allowing your organs to work efficiently fat can be burned more easily. If nothing else, all those trips to the bathroom will burn some calories as well.
  4. Drinking a lot of water aids in thermogenesis, the body’s way of upping heat production in the body and therefore burning more calories, even at rest.

Therefore, do yourself a favour and drink a couple of litres per day. Your waistline will thank you.

Green Tea

Not only does green tea have a reputation as a cancer fighter, but it’s also known as a super fat-burner as well. Green tea contains catechins, the key to their fat-burning properties. Without going into the science they basically stifle an enzyme that inhibits fat burning, while at the same time elevating fat-burning hormone levels. A match made in heaven when it comes to losing weight fast.

Fatty Fish

You’ve no doubt heard about Omega 3 fatty acids. They’re the fats found in cold water fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel. The weight loss mechanism in Omega 3 fatty acids isn’t exactly clear. It’s been postulated that they decrease insulin levels leading to lower calorie consumption and less fat storage, increase thermogenesis, meaning more calories are burned even while resting and they allow fat burning to continue even after a high-carbohydrate meal. Bottom line is eat your fish, and if you come from the Midwest, pop a few Omega 3 capsules everyday. Fish generally doesn’t taste great after a 2000 mile journey.

Avocados

If you haven’t learned to love avocados already, please start. Avocados are full of monounsaturated fats that can aid in appetite suppression and even play a role in lowering cholesterol. If you’re not a big fan of eating avocados in their “raw” form try mixing them up with some lemon juice, onions and tomatoes to make guacamole, eaten with some raw veggies it’s one of the best snack foods out there.

Olive Oil

You’ve no doubt heard already about olive oil’s ability to act as “heart protector” by lowering bad cholesterol, as well as having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. For those looking to lose weight olive oil is another tool in the toolbox as it’s been found to create heat through various chemical reactions in the body, therefore, increasing fat metabolism. The bottom line is start substituting olive oil for any other oil you’re using and your waistline will thank you.

Oatmeal

Unlike commercial breakfast cereals that are usually filled with sugar, coloring and chemicals, oatmeal has none of these additives. It’s waist slimming benefits come from the fact that it’s high in both protein and fibre which act in tandem to keep blood sugar levels stable, therefore, avoiding fat storage. With high levels of protein and fibre, oatmeal also acts as a great appetite suppressant as it’s digested much more slowly that a commercial breakfast cereal would be leaving you feeling fuller longer.

Blueberries

Besides the fact that blueberries are delicious they are an absolute superfood when it comes to weight loss and health. Studies have shown that blueberries can have a positive affect on insulin resistance, hypertension (high blood pressure), and lower low density lipoproteins (“bad” cholesterol), not to mention being an antioxidant powerhouse. There is also new research suggestion that blueberries actually fight the formation of fat cells in the abdominal region, meaning they may be the perfect food in the war against losing belly fat.

Almonds

Not only do almonds prove to be a great tasting snack, they also have a whole host of benefits that can increase fat loss. The laundry list of benefits includes; lowering low density lipoproteins (“bad” cholesterol), fighting diabetes, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and even obesity. But when it comes to weight loss, almonds are a champion. This seems to be the case simply because of the nutrient density of these nuts. They provide a longer feeling of satiety after being consumed; the skins are full of fiber which slows digestion, and basically the fact that a body that is well fed will not crave any more food. It’s time to put to bed the idea that eating fats (such as the fat in nuts) will make you fat.

Eggs

First off, please forget anything you’ve ever heard about eggs raising cholesterol levels and being harmful to your health, there is no real scientific evidence to back this claim up. Eggs role in weight loss stems from a couple of areas. Number one is that eating eggs for breakfast will help you feel full longer (proteins and fats are digested more slowly than carbohydrates like cereals), which means you feel full longer and will snack less. Number two is amino acids (the “building blocks” of protein) and specifically leucine. Leucine has been known to help preserve lean tissue in calorie restricted environments and also help stabilize blood sugar levels. Finally, since eggs are filled with protein they promote muscle growth, and since muscle is metabolically active it promotes fat loss even while you’re at rest. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Low Fat Milk

The magic behind low fat milk is its high protein content (nine grams per cup). This is important because protein helps suppress hormones that promote hunger. Additionally, the proteins in low fat milk help in the repair of damaged muscle tissue after intense workouts, leading to muscle growth and the creation of more metabolically active tissue in the body. Low fat milk is also full of vitamins and minerals. These all promote fat loss by helping boost metabolism, raising your base metabolic rate and therefore becoming a more efficient, fat burning machine.

It’s a no brainer. These 10 foods should play an important part in your diet if losing weight is your goal. Not only will you benefit from their various fat fighting properties, but you will also benefit from their overall health boosting properties as well. Incorporate them all as a part of your diet, find some great recipes at http://www.muscleandstrength.com/recipes and watch the pounds just melt away.

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Weight loss tips that anyone can master

Much like any new skill, it’s easy once you know how. Losing weight doesn’t have to be complicated, although you’d never know it from the hundreds of diet plans, books, videos and products that we’re bombarded with whenever we turn on the television. It’s a wonder anyone makes any progress at all for the sheer volume of information out there. From juicers to circuit training videos to Ab Rollers, never has there been such a variety Weight Loss Tipsoptions to choose from. The trick is just choosing a few of those options and sticking with them. If you try and do too much you’ll get bogged down in the coordination and management of all the individual factors. Just do a few things, and do them well, and you’ll get ahead, guaranteed.

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of weight loss programs and diet plans we need to make a distinction that’s often overlooked; the difference between weight loss and fat loss. Always remember that your ultimate goal is fat loss, and that can’t be stressed enough. While doing any weight loss program it’s possible to loss water weight and some muscle mass, but while the scale might go down temporarily, you’re actually hurting your progress. Granted, if you cut back on carbohydrate and salt intake your water retention may be reduced, this is good as a natural by-product of a diet plan, but shouldn’t be your goal in and of itself. Preserving muscle mass should be a priority, even when dieting, as muscle actually helps burn fat more quickly and efficiently.

There are three major factors that can dictate the amount of fat you’re able to lose and how quickly this might happen; diet, workout routine and genetics. Let’s dive into the specifics of each one to help you determine your best course of action and then we’ll wrap things up at the end with some simple and effective weight loss tips.

Diet

When it comes to losing fat weight, nothing has more of an effect than diet, nothing. If you can get your diet dialled in then 70% of your work is done. A correct diet plan is just that important to your overall progress. The foods we eat come in essentially three different forms; protein, fats and carbohydrates.

Proteins are the “building blocks” of our bodies. It is what we’re made of. Protein plays an extremely important role in building muscles, organs, tissues, hair, skin and with the regeneration of your bodies cells. Skimping on protein can be a disaster if you’re trying to lose weight because it’s what keeps your muscles growing and active, which leads to more efficient fat loss. A diet that aims to cut out a lot of protein (high carbohydrate diet) will actually do much more harm than good. Some examples of proteins are animal products, dairy (milk, cheese), nuts and seafood. So keep eating your lean proteins.

Carbohydrates have really developed a bad reputation over the last few years and it’s a reputation that’s not entirely deserved. Carbohydrates actually have the distinction of being your bodies preferred form of energy (after being converted to glucose within the body). We all know many sources of carbohydrates; cereals, grains, potatoes, breads and fruits for example. The main distinction that needs to be made is between simple and complex carbohydrates.

Simple carbohydrates are sugars that enter the bloodstream very quickly and provide a quick source of energy for a short period of time, think chocolate bar or energy drink. Complex carbohydrates on the other hand are digested more slowly and provide sustained energy over a longer period of time, think apple or oatmeal. What you want to do is stick with the complex and eliminate the simple. The bonus is that complex carbohydrates are often chocked full of fiber and whole grains which lead to other healthful benefits. The best reference you can use to distinguish between complex and simple carbohydrates is the glycemic index. You can buy a pocket book version of it at most book stores.

Fats have really taken a beating in the media, but as with the other nutrients they have their rightful place and are necessary for good health. Fats protect our organs, make us feel full longer (it’s digested slowly), keep our hormones in check, help transport fat soluble vitamins and help keep our cells healthy, among other things. So trying to eliminate all fats from your diet is a bad idea.

As with carbohydrates, there are fats you want to avoid and fats that should be a regular part of your diet. The one we all know is saturated fat. Saturated fat comes from animals, and if you’ve ever left bacon grease out on the counter for a few hours you’ll know what happens, it turns hard and white, much the same as it does within your blood vessels. You don’t have to avoid it completely, but keep it too a very minimal amount and when you buy meat, purchase the leanest options. The fats you need to be focussing on come from sources such as nuts and seeds, avocados and olive oil. These types of fats are beneficial in that they boost your immune system, reduce the risk of cancer, lower cholesterol and decrease blood pressure among other healthful benefits. So the focus should be on eating the right fats and not eliminating all fats completely.

The second part of the equation is calories. Calories are the unit of energy given to each nutrient. So, both protein and carbohydrates have four calories per gram, whereas as fats are much denser and have nine calories per gram. So already you see that fat is more than twice as calorie dense as both proteins and carbohydrates. Each of us, based on our energy expenditure and body size, require a certain number of calories daily to function optimally. Too many calories will lead to extra calories being stored as fat (regardless of where they come from) and too few will lead to muscle loss, low energy levels and poor overall health. So the goal is to eat just the right amount of healthy calories to promote healthy weight loss, but not too few as to scare our bodies into thinking we’re starving and not too many as to force fat production. It’s a delicate balance.

So, how do you determine the number of calories you need daily, the foods you should eat and how much of each nutrient you should be eating? Easy, see below:

Calorie Calculator – http://www.freedieting.com/tools/calorie_calculator.htm

Calorie Counter – http://caloriecount.about.com/

Calorie Percentages – http://www.ehow.com/facts_7403826_recommendations-daily-caloric-percentage.html

Workout Routines

The simple fact you have to remember is that muscle burns fat. So, if fat burning is your main concern then lift some kettlebells rather than hopping on an elliptical machine or treadmill. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s true. Performing high rep kettlebell swings will burn fat like nothing else. Workouts don’t need to be complicated, check out below for some options:

Workout Routines – http://www.dailyspark.com/blog.asp?post=6_kettlebell_workout_routines

Genetics

Genetics is one area that you can’t change. You are your parents’ child and the genetic material they passed on to you will help determine your strength and muscle mass and general ability to gain both.  In scientific language your body type is referred to as your “somatotype”, of which there are three; endomorph, mesomorph and ectomorph. These body types all have specific physical characteristics associated with them which are referenced below:

Endomorph – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endomorphic
Mesomorph – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesomorphic
Ectomorph – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ectomorphic

Regardless of which type you are genetically predicated towards progress can still be made. As long as your particular weight loss goals are kept in mind.

Weight Loss Tips

Now to the good stuff. What simple things can you do daily to lose that belly fat? Follow the tips below and you’ll be well on your way:

  1. Cut out all fruit juices and soda pop from your diet (only drink water as your thirst quencher)
  2. Cut out all white starches (white bread, white potatoes, white rice), they are nutritionally poor and encourage fat retention
  3. Avoid oily and sugary snacks (chips, chocolate bars). Four cups of plain popcorn has fewer calories than one chocolate bar and has the added benefit of fiber.
  4. Build muscle to lose fat. Only doing cardio is a mistake. Combine it with weight training and you have a good combination for overall health and weight loss
  5. Drink one litre (four cups) of water immediately after waking up. A dehydrated body isn’t efficient at burning fat.
  6. Workout first thing in the morning before eating if possible (this will help burn more fat)
  7. Stick to it. Consistency and time are the key. Nothing will happen overnight so be prepared for a long-term commitment, but set small measurable goals in order to keep yourself motivated.

With the information presented here you have the tools to start losing weight fast.  Remember that diet is critical and is more than half the battle, get it right and you’ll start losing without even hitting the gym. Once your diet is keyed in make sure you’re doing an activity that builds muscle (i.e. kettlebell training) on a consistent basis, this is the second part of the equation. Best of luck in your quest to lose weight, stick to these 8 weight loss tips, and check out other great articles on Personal trainer, and you won’t even recognize yourself in a couple of months.

It’s easy to get bogged down with all the equipment options available for training nowadays as the variety is endless. Whether you’re looking for equipment online or in a

Kettlebells

gym retailer, the selection can literally be overwhelming. From machines, to racks, to free weights, to bars, to dumbbells, to bands, where does the layperson start?! It’s no wonder so many people just give up.

Luckily, there is a counter to all the equipment backed by multi-million dollar advertising campaigns selling the benefits of this or that technology; kettlebells. When it comes to the sophisticated exercise technologies and advanced exercise gear, kettlebells don’t stand a chance. They are the polar opposite of complex routines and space-age equipment. A ball of iron with a forged handle screams simplicity, but when it comes to your training it’s the single best investment you could ever make.

Why Kettlebells?

Cost

Usually coming in at just over one dollar per pound kettlebells are very reasonably priced. Especially when you consider that unless dropped from a thirty storey building they’ll never break, and unless kept in salt water they’ll never rust, so you can count on having them for life. When you factor cost per year over 20 or 30 years they become ridiculously inexpensive. You can buy kettlebells in pairs or as singles in order to do both two-handed and single-handed movements. In the end, just having one each of a variety of weights would be fine. This cuts the cost by half and doesn’t affect your ability to perform any exercises. The bottom line for me is that I firmly believe that they are the best value for money out there when it comes to exercise equipment.

 Space

I’m assuming that if you’re looking to purchase a set of kettlebells that they’ll be for a home gym, which is actually ideal, as their size lends themselves perfectly to storage in small areas. A corner of no more than 16 square feet could accommodate a large variety of weights and sizes with no impact on the rest of the living area. If you add a small mat then you have everything you’ll ever need for a fully functional home gym. The beauty of their size is that they can be stored where they’ll never be seen; closets, spare rooms, garages, under your bed. It’s just a matter of pulling one or two out when you want to have a quick workout.

Exercises

This is where kettlebells really shine. The variety of exercises possible with kettlebells extends only as far as your imagination will take you. They are infinitely versatile. Also, the mainstream media provides dozens of books and websites that cover kettlebell exercises and workout routine design, so there’s no shortage of information. If you’re one of the types that suffer from “analysis paralysis” when presented with such an overwhelming amount of information not to worry, kettlebells can be as simple as you need and want them to be. You can definitely achieve all of your goals with only a handful of exercises. The snatch, clean and jerk and swing would be at the top of my list, and depending on your goals, may be the only exercises you ever need. Don’t let a lack of variety fool you either, when it comes to progress concentrate on other factors such as sets, reps, rest periods, time under tension, etc. as these will have a much greater impact on your progress than the actual exercise. It’s worth mentioning too that the Bulgarian weightlifting team has dominated international competition for years, and are famous for performing the same six or eight exercises their entire careers. When it comes to reaching your goals variety isn’t necessarily the spice of life.

Efficiency

When I talk about efficiency I just mean “bang for the buck”. Traditional kettlebell exercises are metabolically tough and really work the entire body, rather than just isolating one particular muscle such as the bicep. A short, intense 20 minute workout could not only positively affect your strength and muscle gain, but increase your cardiovascular endurance as well, not to mention helping your coordination, as many of the exercises require a coordinated effort by many muscles simultaneously. By their very nature, traditional kettlebell exercises target what many would call the most important muscles in the body; the “core” and posterior chain. Your “core” muscles are located in your lower back, abdominal region and just above your hips on your sides. They are key in promoting good posture as well as providing a foundation for other exercises, as most kettlebell exercises do require the “core” muscles to be active. The posterior chain of muscles just refers to all the muscles that extend from your neck, down your back, to your buttocks, hamstrings and calves. When you think about everyday movements these muscles play an integral role. The problem is we only really notice them once we hurt a muscle in our back and suddenly can’t move. By developing your posterior chain you’ll be stronger overall and be much less prone to back injuries.

Weight loss

Weight loss is the holy grail for so many. Strength doesn’t matter, cardiovascular endurance doesn’t matter and flexibility doesn’t matter, as long as there is weight loss. Fortunately, kettlebells allow you to achieve all these things at once. Metabolically, muscle is very active. This means that even when “resting” a muscle uses a lot of energy to function and under the right conditions the energy it uses is fat. So if you want to lose weight fast, gain muscle mass. Kettlebells are champions of quick, effective fat loss which no amount of pure cardiovascular training can match. Losing weight fast is actually quite easy with kettlebells as your main weapon.

Yes, it’s true. Kettlebells are just that good. They can do it all. Whether you want strength, endurance, weight loss, or flexibility, kettlebells are the tool for you. There are numerous resources out there for kettlebells, and a great one is dragondoor.com.

There’s more information on this one site regarding kettlebells than you’ll ever need. All it takes is one kettlebell to start your transformation. Get one now, start training today and feel like a million bucks tomorrow. Kettlebells are the key.

There’s a scam afoot my friends, and if you’re currently a card carrying gym member I have some bad news for you, you’ve already been had. But really, are you to blame? The North American commercial gym industry spends millions yearly to entice earnest, well-meaning people such as yourself through their doors. How could anyone
Home gym personal trainerrightly refuse? Just a quick glance through any gym brochure will yield numerous offers which are just too enticing to ignore; free personal training sessions, supplement discounts in the official gym store, free smoothies at the official gym smoothie bar, free tanning sessions, spa discounts, free gym towels and bags, discounted rates for referring a friend, body transformation challenges for prize money, the list goes on and on! It’s little wonder that collectively commercial gyms make hundreds of millions of dollars yearly, and all on the backs of regular people just trying to improve their overall health.

If you’ve been “swindled” by one of these franchised, commercial enterprises, please don’t be hard on yourself, just know there are alternatives. Alternatives that provide more bang for the buck than any gym ever could. Alternatives that allow you to be strong, healthy and fit, without becoming a hostage to commercial enterprise. Alternatives that require little or no time, money or space, and allow you to live your life free from perpetual bondage. Alternatives that can actually be found in the comfort of your own home. Yes, it’s true; everything that you could ever ask for from a commercial gym is available in your own home. Let’s skip the gym tonight and look at why you should consider dumping the membership and start flying solo as your own personal trainer. I promise you’ll be happy you did.

Money

I have yet to meet anyone who wouldn’t like to save a few dollars, especially considering the economy over the last few years. I’m going to strongly suggest that money handed over to commercial gyms is a waste of your hard-earned money. At first glance costs may not seem that high, but let’s break it down and see how much you could be saving.

Depending on the type of facility you attend prices will vary, but a good average is probably about $1000.00/year. That’s not to mention gas if you have to drive there, maybe another $200.00 per year. What about the fancy workout gear and sneakers you bought? Let’s add another $200.00 for the year, and this isn’t even taking into account any supplements you might decide to indulge in. So, our grand total for the year is $1400.00. Now, $1400.00 isn’t necessarily a bank-breaking amount, but here’s the thing, what if you maintain your membership for 5 years? You’re looking at a minimum of $7000.00! As far as investments go a retirement savings plan would probably yield better returns.

It just doesn’t make sense to give away that much of your money for the “privilege” of using exercise equipment and showers. For me, the choice is easy; spend a smaller amount upfront, maybe $1500.00, and create a small home gym. Take a look at some of the economically smart home gym alternatives below:

Cardiovascular Training

There’s a ton of variety when it comes to choosing a cardio machine, and it really just comes down to preference and price. Treadmills, Recumbent Stationary Bikes, Elliptical Machines, Stairclimbers, Stepmills, Versa Climbers, Treadclimbers, Stationary Bikes and Rowing Machines, the list goes on. I might suggest just going for a brisk walk or run instead, you’ll save the money and the fresh air does wonders. Losing weight doesn’t have to be complicated.

Strength Training – For home gym purposes, I strongly believe there is no better choice than the kettlebell. It is the MacGyver of the strength training world. It’s versatile, relatively inexpensive and takes up less than a square foot of space when stored. As a matter of fact, you could easily build a complete home gym centered on the kettlebell for under $300.00. Not to mention that cardio done with a kettlebell can easily rival any benefits offered from a cardio machine.

Flexibility Training

If stretching plays a regular part in your routine then just having a basic yoga mat will be fine. If you’re looking at stretching under tension you could pick up some elastic tubing to create the tension for you. Also, a stability ball of some size can be a benefit if you incorporate those types of movements into your workout routines.

Exercise Videos – Both the benefit and problem with exercise videos is variety. There are literally hundreds on the market, from videos made by laypersons all the way up the fitness food chain to celebrity trainers. It’s a tough call as TV marketing would have you think each one is the next best thing.

My advice here is simple; look for videos that require hard work, offer a variety of exercises and programs, with a specified time commitment required. A video that meets these requirements will force you out of your comfort zone and push you to excel, keep you from getting bored or stagnant, and give you a “finish line” to aim for so you can keep motivated. But the beauty is that for a very small investment of under $100.00 you can literally transform yourself in a relatively short period, without ever leaving the comfort of your TV room.

Time

The beauty of having a home gym is that you’re in control of your schedule. It never closes and is always there when you need it. It provides the ultimate in flexibility and convenience. This is especially true if your life is busy and you have a lot of commitments. For working parents who find it difficult to take the time to get out to a commercial facility, a home gym makes perfect sense.

Sometimes, it’s really just a matter of grabbing a quick 20 minute workout while the kids are napping, or getting home from work and doing a few kettlebell exercises in between supper and the kids’ soccer practice. The point is that it’s there when you need it. Whether it’s after work, at four in the morning or at midnight, with a home gym the excuses for not being able to find the time really do melt away.

Productivity

Unfortunately, there are a large number of gym-goers out there that believe that a home gym won’t provide them with the results they’re looking for. What everyone needs to realize is that there are only a small number of factors that actually lead to progress; hard work, progressive resistance on an intelligent workout routine, a proper diet plan and a regular time commitment. It’s very basic stuff, but let’s dig a little deeper:

Hard Work

If you want to succeed you’ll need to break a sweat and put it some effort, accept and embrace this fact. But the beauty is that hard work isn’t location dependent  If you’re motivated then giving 100% in your training will happen regardless of where it’s taking place.

Progressive Resistance

No matter your goals; strength, endurance, flexibility, they all require that you push yourself a little bit more each time you train. Resistance can be manipulated several ways including weight lifted, speed of lift, time under tension, rest periods, etc. Again, all these factors are simply dependent on a smart workout routine, perfectly doable in your own home gym.

Proper Diet Plan

This one’s a no-brainer and is also goal dependent. Suffice it to say you do the majority of your eating at home, not at the gym, so this has no bearing on where you train, but a solid diet plan is a must.

Regular Time Commitment

You’ve got to exercise regularly, “use it or lose it” as the expression goes. Three to four times per week works for most, but there’s room for variation here again dependent on your goals. The benefits of a home gym are obvious when you figure that you might have to leave the house three, four or five times a week to hit the gym. When also you consider the time it takes to change, pack your stuff, drive there, grab your towel, show your membership, dump your stuff in a locker, workout, shower, drive home, unpack, the idea of throwing on a pair of sweats and grabbing a workout in your own home gym becomes pretty appealing, especially if you’re doing it periodically throughout the week.

The beauty with these factors is that they can be implemented anywhere with the most basic equipment. They’re not specific to commercial gyms or fitness facilities. A home gym can provide all of these factors without all the added fluff that comes along with costly memberships. Not to mention you know have the keys that any personal trainer working in a commercial facility would have.

When it comes to efficiency, effective use of time and money saving, home gyms really are the ticket. They’re inexpensive to set up, don’t have to take up much space and can provide all the benefits of a commercial gym without all the distractions. I hope you’ll consider working out at home and becoming your own personal trainer.