The Number Game
How much can you bench?
How far did you run?
How many minutes of cardio did you do?
How many calories do you eat?
All common, actually, the most common questions relating to health and fitness. The world runs on numbers: Time, money, age, speed. But are numbers really that important when it comes to exercising? Well, yes and no. With regard to exercise, it has to stop at some point; you can't do pushups forever! But, do you always really need 30 minutes of cardio, 10 reps of arm curls, a 400 calorie breakfast, and a 3 mile jog on Sundays? Exercise is, or should, be a lifelong endeavor not subjected to reps, minutes, and distance. Sure, setting personal goals to mark improvement is great, but remember, life and fitness dedication is a long road and there's always another day. Being too regimented with how much, how far, and how many, can drive you crazy, get you hurt, and yield limited results. These mindsets have trapped and frustrated exercise-goers for years. So, how do you break free from the numbers game?
The questions up top yield three common pitfalls: always doing the same thing, always increasing the weight as a form of progression, and thinking counting calories will get you to lose weight. For exercise to be effective, progression and variation must rule. Performing the same exercises in the same order with the same weight and the same number of repetitions is dooming you to menial results. There are dozens of ways to perform a pulldown or crunch, so why do the same thing? I write and detail the importance of Variation below.
2. Quality Food Choices Instead of Counting Calories
As far as calories or eating goes, the key is not the amount of calories, but the quality of calories. Even though calorically equal, a bowl of Cheerios with milk is certainly not the same as 3 ounces of wild salmon and there are profoundly different nutritional effects on the body. Learning to make quality food choices and eyeball portion size is key.
15 minutes of sprint intervals burns far more calories than a 30m 3-mile jog. Plus, the after effects of caloric expenditure for the remainder of the day are higher. Maximum effort cranks the metabolism for hours after the activity. There is nothing wrong with a 6 mile walk, or a 3 mile jog, but the key is to mix in some higher intensity stuff instead of settling for the same 'ol thing. It's not always about how far or how long, but variation of intensity each time you hit the street.
- Don't be afraid of fat. Seeking out quality sources of fat in the diet is pinnacle. Read THIS
- Don't think you always have to go to failure when lifting weights. Sometimes heavier, sometimes lighter, no big deal.
- Forget counting calories and ignore conventional diet and nutrition recommendations. Obviously they're wrong since human health is declining and weight is increasing. Grains, sugar, and vegetable oils have to be tossed. Learn portion control.
- Push yourself. If you can't sprint, increase the intensity of your walk by adding in a hill or going faster than you're used to for a minute a few times throughout the workout.
- Distance running
really isn't that great for the human body for a number of reasons. Intervals are far better.
- Realize there is no difference between cardio and weights. It's all resistance training where intensity and modality is manipulated. The stairmaster is just a short-range, low-intensity squat.
- Remember: It's not how many or how much but how well!
4 Great Breakfast Ideas
Breakfast is really important for a few reasons:
- You're usually in a hurry and bad food decisions can be made in haste.
- You might not eat again for another 6 or so hours, so you'd better get the tank full.
- Your body needs protein and fat to keep going, not cheap sugary carbs like bread and juice.
- After not eating since the night before, which could be up to 12 hrs, your body craves and needs quality nutrients to kick-start the day.
- Breakfast out just plain sucks. Even your healthy omelets are cooked in soybean oil, the fruit is either poor quality, old, or from a can, and the eggs are most likely the cheapest the restaurant can find.
So, have a plan of action...here are a few.
Eggs and Meat
Nitrate free, non-hormone bacon, chicken or turkey sausage, and some free-range organic eggs.
Shake it Up!
A blender is your best friend: chuck it in, whips it up better than you'll ever chew for maximum and easy
absorption. Learn how to make a shake HERE
and remember all protein powders are not created equal! Buy some Structure!
Some melted coconut oil, a few greens like kale, a sliced up chicken sausage, maybe some onion, quality eggs, and a little sliced avocado.
Meat & Juice to go
I love chicken sausages and cook them up 8 or so at a time, in the fridge ready to heat up at a moments notice. A cup of green juice from Naked, Bolthouse Farms, or Odwalla all have not just unpasteurized fruit juice, but other goodies like spirulina, and vegetables tossed into the mix.
The Importance of Variation
Of all the manipulative variables involved in workout, variation must rank near the top. Decisions such as how long, how many reps/sets, how much weight to lift, what angle, bench, machine, are made to form a workout.
Too often though, the majority of people still end up doing the same thing and get stuck in a rut with limited results. The body they hope and work so hard for does not appear, injuries happen, the worker-outer gets bored, gives up, and has a hard time getting back in the groove. I've seen it hundreds of times throughout my exercise career.
Some exercisers do employ some type of variation by changing the machine they exercise on, the amount of weight they use, or the number of reps, but variation is far more than how many or how much. In fact, variation's two most important aspects to explore are intensity and modality.
Take your old friend the treadmill for example. If you were to observe 20 people working out on a treadmill, you would most likely see:
1. A brief warm-up of 3-5 min
2. An increase of speed, or possibly some jogging, for 15 or more min
3. A cool down
Factor in Intensity and you might see:
1. A brief warm-up of 2min
2. Add in a 4 degree hill and bump the speed up to just under jogging tempo, possibly 3.8mph for 3min
3. Drop the hill to 2 deg and jog at 5.0 for 1m
4. Walk at 3.5 for 1m
5. Repeat #'s 3 and 4 increasing the speed .5mph on each and adding a 1 deg hill for a total workout of 12-15m
A few things to note about workout number two:
- This is an example of Interval Training: 1m intervals with a 1m recovery. The body loves intervals, thrives on intervals, and this push it-recover routine is sure to crank up your metabolism.
- Pushing yourself is the only way to promote change. The same thing/speed/intensity every time equals the same body.
- Resistance exercises like squats or lunges for example are actually forms of intervals themselves. In fact, if you check your heartrate following a set of squats, I'll bet it's higher than it was on the elliptical! Now, which one was 'Cardio' again?
Think of Modality as the same exercise done many different ways or with different equipment. Let's take Pressing as an example.
The gold standard for pressing is the bench press, yet when looking at the exercise, and the people who do it on a regular basis, it's always the same old thing: flop on the back and load the bar up. What about:
- A standing single arm press with a rubberized tube
- Push-ups (check these variations out HERE)
- Dumbbell Press: flat, multiple levels of incline, slight decline, lying on a ball, together, alternating, wide, narrow...
- Bowflex (if you haven't used a Bowflex for pressing you're missing out!)
- Various machine presses (some manufacturers better than others)
- Cables: standing, lying, together, alt, traditional cable crossover, or Free Motion
In each of the examples, the goal of shoulder and elbow motion, or pectoral, anterior deltoid, and triceps muscle training is being accomplished. The major difference, as you can see, is how the body is positioned and stabilized and what you're using to train the joints/muscles/nervous system. Add to this other manipulative variables such as a change in tempo, range, reps, resistance, frequency, rest interval, and you can create unlimited workouts and never repeated the same one twice.
The Nervous System
All of these minute changes in Intensity and Modality are very much promoting nervous system strength and integrity. How the brain, nerves, and the rest of the complex nervous system negotiate exercise and overcome resistance is really the overriding success parameter. Muscles and joints pretty much just do what they're told! Even with the slightest change, the benefits can be huge. Challenging the body employing different modalities and intensities strengthens nervous system capabilities making the body stronger as a whole. Variation and its partners Intensity and Modality: incorporate them into your exercise strategy today.
Spring is prime time for allergies: fresh cut grass, dirt from the winter, pollen all leading to runny noses, a scratchy throat, sneezing, rashes, wheezing and asthma. "Allergic reactions occur when a person's immune system reacts to normally harmless substances in the environment. A substance that causes a reaction is called an allergen." Your immune system works overtime and is designed to deal with these irritants and evacuate them. BUT, what if there was something you could do, a supplement you could take, or foods you could avoid to eliminate these allergies in the first place?
Read The Whole Article
ALL PROTEIN POWDERS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL!
Structure Protein, the perfect addition
to your morning shake.
A Better Protein Powder Created By Me
Curb Hunger ~ Eliminate Cravings ~ Lose Weight
ORDER ONLINE FROM:
Lectins and Phytates, two antinutrients you should get familiar with. They are substances plants possess to protect themselves to grow and ward off pests. Good for the plant, bad for our digestive tracts. Some plants have more than others: grains, beans, peanuts, and soybeans. Read a little more about them by clicking on them above.
| See you next month|
...thanks for reading
...spread the word
...forward to friends
...be happy & stay healthy
-Bill The Urban Caveman