Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Quote of the Day

"We don't rise to the level of our expectations - we fall to the level of our training"
- Archilochus, Greek Soldier

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Totally Random X Challenge! TRX Suspension Training!

As I've mentioned before, the TRX Suspension Trainer is one awesome piece of equipment that's portable! Need proof? Well, check out my bros and colleagues, Sean Croxton of Underground Wellness TV and Josh Trent of Wellness Force as they travel thoughout my old stompin' grounds of San Diego and select random places to use the TRX. Get your workout in ANYWHERE!! Get yours today by clicking here!


Monday, April 26, 2010

Fitness Anywhere & TRX

If you're looking to take your performance to the next level, the TRX Suspension Trainer is what you need. No matter what your fitness goals are, or where you train, the TRX is so versatile that you can take it with you and set it up just about ANYWHERE! Check out this short video clip of my good friend and colleague, Todd Durkin, CSCS - owner of Fitness Quest 10 and Randy Hetrick - founder & creator of the TRX, as they both give you a glance of the many uses of this awesome piece of fitness equipment.

Get yours today by clicking here!


A Blast from the Past - Jack LaLanne

I was checking out some some 'old school' videos on YouTube when I stumbled across this one. Here's a great informational video of fitness great & legend, Jack LaLanne, as he discusses his "10-Point Self Improvement Plan". Although this video was taped back in the early 50's, it seems that his topic of conversation still holds value to this day.

Jack LaLanne's 10-Point Self Improvement Plan:
  1. Exercise
  2. Nutrition
  3. Positive Thinking
  4. Good habits
  5. Grooming
  6. Smile
  7. Posture
  8. Help others
  9. Relaxation
  10. Faith


Thursday, April 22, 2010

The One Rep Max (1RM) - Deciding on the Right Training Loads

One Repetition Maximum (1RM). This is the WEIGHT you can perform an exercise with ONCE. Using a calculator is usually the best and safest way to determine your 1RM, based on the amount of times you can lift a less heavy weight. The most common exercise for calculating one rep max is the bench press, even though any exercise can be used.

The strength of the 1RM calculator lies in its' ability to quickly arrive at the correct 1RM figure without you actually having to try and perform the 1RM lift (single repetition). While calculating your 1RM, it's preferable to load the weights so that you're able to perform around 10 repetitions. When actually undertaking the exercise, you'd probably end up doing a few more or less than 10 repetitions, and you must take into account the actual number of completed repetitions. It's always a good idea to take the 1RM test and know how far to train your body without injury.

Once you have calculated your 1RM, you can use the Rep Max Calculator to find out the appropriate load when you have decided upon the number of reps you plan to do. For example, if you already know that your 1RM is 264 lbs. (120 kg - by using the 1RM calculator), and you plan to perform 12 reps, the Rep Max Calculator would instantly let you know that you should lift roughly about 162 lbs. (73.63 kg). This is very helpful information is helping you determine proper training loads when plannning your resistance training workouts.

To obtain access to your 1 Rep Max Calculator, click here.

Train safe, train hard & stay strong!


Friday, April 16, 2010

How to Burn Belly Fat and Shrink Your Thighs

Guest blog by Craig Ballantyne, CSCS

Cardio is an over-rated way to burn belly fat, lose cellulite, and shrink your thighs. Research shows that interval training is a better way to burn belly fat, lose cellulite, and shrink your thighs.

If you want to lose belly fat, you should do lots of crunches. And if you want to shrink your thighs, you should reach for your ThighMaster. Right?

Wrong on both counts. Instead, you need interval training for fat burning.

This is a form of short-burst exercise that I’ve been using with clients since 1998 – long before the average trainer jumped on the bandwagon. In fact, when I first started writing about interval training back in 2000, no one believed that it was good for fat loss. Heck, I still have a hard time convincing people today…but when they finally try it, they love it!

So here’s the research proof.

In one study, Australian researchers from the University of New South Wales put three groups of women through a 15-week fat-loss exercise program. One group was a control group. Another group did three sessions of intervals per week (20 minutes per workout). And the third group did three sessions of long, slow, boring cardio (40 minutes per workout).

Forty-five women were in the study – and it is important to note that they were not all overweight. On average, they had a healthy body mass index of only 23.22 (well below the cut-off of 25 that signals overweight).

At the end of the 15-weeks, only the interval-training group showed significant weight loss and a decrease in body fat and trunk fat. The interval-training group also had a significant loss of fat from their legs. And the more overweight a subject was, the better the interval-training program worked for her.

Oh, and did I mention that the slow, boring cardio workouts did NOT result in a significant loss of body fat? Something I’ve been saying for a long time now…

You can do interval training with machines, or outside, or on your bike. It’s simply a period of “harder-than-normal” cardio followed by very light exercise. (Make sure to do a warmup first). You’ll repeat this hard-easy pattern up to 6 times. I don’t think you need to do more than that.

Then finish with a cool down. Your hard exercise interval should last 10-60 seconds, and your easy rest interval should last 2-3x’s as long. Always start conservative and don’t do too much too soon.

Do interval training 3 times per week. Four at the most. You need some days off. On your days off, stay active, have fun, but don’t stress about what you do. It doesn’t mean you have to be in the gym doing a cardio workout. In fact, dare I say, you might never have to do traditional cardio again!!! This is a great new for most folks.

So if you want to burn belly fat and lose a few inches from your thighs, get started on a short, 20-minute interval-training program done three times per week. That’s all you need.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Workout of the Day - Triple Threat Smackdown

Here's a great 8-exercise triple circuit (24 exercises total) workout that I developed which is guaranteed to make you sweat, rev up your metabolism and keep you buring calories long after the workout has been completed. Get to it & get it done!

Instructions: Perform all exercises for 20 reps back-to-back until all exercises in the circuit have been completed. Rest for 30-60 sec. and repeat the same circuit or move on the circuit #2, recover, then complete circuit #3. Repeat all circuits for 2-3 rounds.

“Triple Threat Smackdown”

I) Dynamic Warm-Up - 5-10 min. >> jump rope, jacks/seal jacks, lunges, squats, running in place, etc.

II) Circuit #1 - Body Wt. vs. Gravity
  • Prisoner Squats
  • Push-Ups
  • Lateral Skiers
  • Knee-Ins
  • Gate Swings
  • Cross Crunches
  • Bird Dogs
  • Lateral Squats

III) Circuit #2 – Need DB’s

  • DB Swing (R&L)
  • Goblet Squats
  • Push Press w/ Alt. Delt Press
  • 1-Legged Bent-Over Rows/T-Rows
  • Quick Press
  • T-Pushups
  • Spilt Squat w/Hammer Curl (R&L)
  • 1-Legged RDL’s (R&L)

IV) Circuit #3 - Need DB’s, BOSU, Step/Plyo Box, Medicine Ball

  • Jump Rope – 20-sec.
  • Plank to Push-Ups
  • Power Jumps - 20 sec.
  • BOSU Pike P/U’s
  • Med Ball Squat Jumps
  • BOSU Burpees
  • Pushups w/ Alt. Arm Raise
  • Box Jumps

V) Cool-Down


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Extreme Six Pack Abs Workout!

So, you wanna build some "six pack abs", huh? Well, forget about all those crunches and exercises which involve laying on the floor. Get out of the "old school" mentally and get on board with the "new school", non-traditional methods of training. Check out my bro Sean Croxton, CMTA of Underground Wellness and Brett Klika, CSCS of Fitness Quest 10 in action as they attack their abs, core and total body with some extreme movements!

Now get to it!!


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Hierarchy of Fat Loss

Here's a fantastic article written by strength coach & fat loss expert, Alwyn Cosgrove, CSCS - co-owner of Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, CA. Though this article was published in 2007, the information provided is priceless. Read, learn, absorb, and put it to good use. Enjoy!

Time for Fat Loss

"Fat loss is an all-out war. Give it 28 days — only 28 days. Attack it with all you have. It's not a lifestyle choice; it's a battle. Lose fat and then get back into moderation. There's another one for you: moderation. Revelation says it best: 'You are lukewarm and I shall spit you out.' Moderation is for sissies."

— Dan John, legend

I've been training people for a long time. I own a gym that has several trainers training several people. Despite all the athletes we've worked with over the years, by far the single biggest client request has been fat loss.

I've made more money from the fat loss market than any other single client group. Over the years my methods have evolved and been refined by what I see in the gym. Simply put, if I can get 20 pounds of fat off a client faster than my competition, I have a higher demand for my services.

I've written several articles on fat loss and answered countless questions on the topic. One of the questions I get a lot is:

"I'm _______and I'm trying to lose fat. How can I do that without________?"

Basically, powerlifters want to keep powerlifting, mixed martial artists want to keep fighting, and recreational bodybuilders want to maintain their muscle mass, all while losing fat. Their massive fear of negatively impacting their athletic performance by not focusing on it for a short time is largely unfounded.

I think whenever we try to pursue two goals at once we tend to compromise results. This is usually because we have a limited resource: time. If our goal is to generate fat loss, then using a periodized training approach with a specific fat loss phase (e.g. four weeks, eight weeks, etc.) where we focus exclusively on fat loss will always yield better results in the long term than trying to juggle two goals at once.

For example, a powerlifter trying to drop a weight class or lean out will be better served by notpowerlifting for a period of time. By focusing on getting lean and then going back to powerlifting training, he won't fall into the downward spiral of trying to maintain his lifts and get lean at the same time. A 16 week program that includes 8 weeks of hardcore fat loss training, followed by 8 weeks of powerlifting work, will likely yield better results than 16 weeks of trying to do both simultaneously.

With our regular clients or with ourselves, we're usually extremely limited with time. Most of us can only train three to four times per week. With that in mind — with time being our limiting factor — how do we maximize fat loss? Is there a hierarchy of fat loss techniques? I think so.
Before I get into it, I want to share with you something Mike Boyle said when he did a staff training at my facility a couple of months ago:

"The information presented is my opinion based on over 25 years of coaching experience, communication with several professionals in my field, and an incessant desire to better myself and improve the rate and magnitude of my clients' results. I'm not here to argue my opinion versus your opinion. Please ask questions. I'll explain my views but am unlikely to change them."
I don't have 25 years of experience (only 17), but I feel pretty much the same. Here are my thoughts.

The Hierarchy of Fat Loss
1. Correct Nutrition
There's pretty much nothing that can be done to out-train a crappy diet. You quite simply have to create a caloric deficit while eating enough protein and essential fats. There's no way around this.

2. See #1
Yep. It really is that important. Several trainers have espoused that the only difference between training for muscle gain and training for fat loss is your diet. I think that's a massive oversimplification, but it does reinforce how important and effective correct nutrition is toward your ultimate goal.

3. Activities that burn calories, maintain/promote muscle mass, and elevate metabolism
I think it's fairly obvious that the bulk of calories burned are determined by our resting metabolic rate or RMR. The amount of calories burned outside of our resting metabolism (through exercise, thermic effect of feeding, etc.) is a smaller contributor to overall calories burned per day.

We can also accept that RMR is largely a function of how much muscle you have on your body — and how hard it works. Therefore, adding activities that promote or maintain muscle mass will make that muscle mass work harder and elevate the metabolic rate. This will become our number one training priority when developing fat loss programs.

4. Activities that burn calories and elevate metabolism
The next level of fat loss programming would be a similar activity. We're still looking at activities that eat up calories and increase EPOC.

EPOC (Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption) is defined scientifically as the "recovery of metabolic rate back to pre-exercise levels" and "can require several minutes for light exercise and several hours for hard intervals."

Essentially, we're looking for activities that keep us burning more calories after the exercise session.

5. Activities that burn calories but don't necessarily maintain muscle or elevate metabolism
This is the "icing on the cake" — adding in activities that'll burn up additional calories but don't necessarily contribute to increasing metabolism. This is the least effective tool in your arsenal as it doesn't burn much outside of the primary exercise session.

Let's put this fat loss continuum together in terms of our progressive training hierarchy.

Five Factors for Fat Loss Training

1. Metabolic Resistance Training
Basically we're using resistance training as the cornerstone of our fat loss programming. Our goal is to work every muscle group hard, frequently, and with an intensity that creates a massive "metabolic disturbance" or "afterburn" that leaves the metabolism elevated for several hours post-workout.

A couple of studies to support this:

Schuenke MD, Mikat RP, McBride JM.Effect of an acute period of resistance exercise on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption: implications for body mass management. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2002 Mar;86(5):411-7. Epub 2002 Jan 29.

This study used a circuit training protocol of 12 sets in 31 minutes. EPOC was elevated significantly for 38 hours post-workout.

Thirty-eight hours is a pretty significant timeframe for metabolism to be elevated. If you trained at 9AM until 10AM on Monday morning, you're still burning more calories (without training) at midnight on Tuesday.

Can we compound this with additional training within that 38 hours? No research has been done, but I have enough case studies to believe that you can.


Kramer, Volek et al.
Influence of exercise training on physiological and performance changes with weight loss in men.Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 31, No. 9, pp. 1320-1329, 1999.

Overweight subjects were assigned to three groups: diet-only, diet plus aerobics, diet plus aerobics plus weights. The diet group lost 14.6 pounds of fat in 12 weeks. The aerobic group lost only one more pound (15.6 pounds) than the diet group (training was three times a week starting at 30 minutes and progressing to 50 minutes over the 12 weeks).

The weight training group lost 21.1 pounds of fat (44% and 35% more than diet and aerobic only groups respectively). Basically, the addition of aerobic training didn't result in any real world significant fat loss over dieting alone.

Thirty-six sessions of up to 50 minutes is a lot of work for one additional pound of fat loss. However, the addition of resistance training greatly accelerated fat loss results.

One more:

Bryner RW, Ullrich IH, Sauers J, Donley D, Hornsby G, Kolar M, Yeater R.
Effects of resistance vs. aerobic training combined with an 800 calorie liquid diet on lean body mass and resting metabolic rate.J Am Coll Nutr. 1999 Apr;18(2):115-21.

The aerobic group performed four hours of aerobics per week. The resistance training group performed 2-4 sets of 8-15 reps, 10 exercises, three times per week.

V02 max increased equally in both groups. Both groups lost weight. The resistance training group lost significantly more fat and didn't lose any LBM, even at only 800 calories per day. (The reason the calories were so low was to really take any dietary variables completely out of the equation and compare the effects of the exercise regime on LBM and metabolism.)

The resistance training group actually increased metabolism compared to the aerobic group, which decreased metabolism. It seems that resistance training is a more significant stress to the body than a starvation diet.

In my experience, full body training in a superset, tri-set, or circuit format (with non-competing exercises) in a rep range that generates lactic acid (and pushes the lactic acid threshold or LAT) seems to create the biggest metabolic demand. It makes sense: training legs, back, and chest will burn more calories and elevate metabolism more than an isolated approach training one of them.
The rep range that seems to work best is the 8-12 hypertrophy range, although going higher will work just as well with a less trained population.

For a powerlifter or an advanced bodybuilder, doing one max effort exercise or heavy, low-rep lift is more than enough to maintain your current strength levels. Examples:

Exercise One: Max Effort Squat — work up to a 3RM. Transitioning into metabolic work.

Exercise Sequence:

1A: Bench press, 2-3 sets of 4-6 reps

1B: Row, 2-3 sets of 4-6 reps

Transitioning into metabolic work

2. High Intensity Anaerobic Interval Training

The second key "ingredient" in fat loss programming is high-intensity interval training (HIIT). I think readers of T-Nation will be well aware of the benefits of interval work. It burns more calories than steady state and elevates metabolism significantly more than other forms of cardio. The downside is that it flat-out sucks to do it!

The landmark study in interval training was from Tremblay:

Tremblay A, Simoneau JA, Bouchard C.Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism.Metabolism. 1994 Jul;43(7):814-8

This study pitted 20 weeks of endurance training against 15 weeks of interval training:

Energy cost of endurance training = 28661 calories.
Energy cost of interval training = 13614 calories (less than half)

The interval training group showed a nine times greater loss in subcutaneous fat than the endurance group (when corrected for energy cost).

Read that again. Calorie for calorie, the interval training group lost nine times more fat overall. Why? Maybe it's EPOC, an upregulation of fat burning enzyme activity, or straight up G-Flux. I don't care. I'm a real world guy. If the interval training group had lost the same fat as the endurance group, we'd get the same results in less time. That means interval training is a better tool in your fat loss arsenal.

3. High Intensity Aerobic Interval Training
The next tool we'll pull out is essentially a lower intensity interval method where we use aerobic intervals.

Talanian, Galloway et al
Two weeks of High-Intensity Aerobic Interval Training increases the capacity for fat oxidation during exercise in women.J Appl Physiol (December 14, 2006). doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.01098.2006

This study looked at high-intensity aerobic interval training and its influence on fat oxidation. In summary, seven sessions of HIIT over two weeks induced marked increases in whole body and skeletal muscle capacity for fatty acid oxidation during exercise in moderately active women. In layman's terms, the interval work appeared to "upregulate" fat burning enzymes.

Basically this means we can burn more fat in other activities as a result of this inclusion. In other words, we get some more bang for our buck.

A quick disclaimer though: my colleague Alan Aragon once said, "Caring about how much fat is burned during exercise is equivalent to worrying about how much muscle is built during exercise." In other words, substrate utilization during exercise isn't really an important variable in the big picture of fat loss — total calories burned overall is.

4. Steady State High Intensity Aerobic Training
Tool number four is just hard cardio work. This time we're burning calories — we aren't working hard enough to increase EPOC significantly or to do anything beyond the session itself. But calories do count. Burning another 300 or so calories per day will add up.

5. Steady State Low Intensity Aerobic Training
This is just activity, going for a walk in the park, etc. It won't burn a lot of calories; it won't increase muscle or EPOC.

There isn't very much research showing that low intensity aerobic training actually results in very much additional fat loss, but you're going to have to really work to convince me that moving more is going to hurt you when you're in fat attack mode.

Putting It All Together: Time Management
You'll notice that this is perhaps the opposite recommendations from what you typically read in the mainstream media. Usually fat loss recommendations start with low intensity aerobics, progress to high intensity aerobics, then intervals. Finally, when you're "in shape" they recommend resistance training.

My approach to massive fat loss is attacking from the complete opposite of the norm. If you're a professional bodybuilder, then you typically have extra time to add in cardio and do extra work to get lean. A "real world" client with a job and a family can rarely afford additional time; therefore, we need to look at our training in a more efficient manner and focus on our time available first, then design our programming based on that.

If you have 3 hours per week, use only #1 above: metabolic resistance training
This can be three, one-hour training sessions, or four 45-minute training sessions. It doesn't seem to matter.

However, once you're getting three hours per week of total body resistance training, in my experience I haven't seen an additional effect in terms of fat loss by doing more. My guess is that, at that point, recovery starts to become a concern and intensity is impaired.

This type of training involves barbell complexes, supersets, tri-sets, circuits, EDT work, kettlebell combos, etc.

If you have 3-5 hours, use #1 and # 2: weight training plus high intensity interval work
At this point, any additional work is usually in the form of high intensity interval training. I'm looking to burn up more calories and continue to elevate EPOC.

Interval training is like putting your savings into a high return investment account. Low intensity aerobics is like hiding it under your mattress. Both will work, but the return you get is radically different.

If you have 5-6 hours available, add #3: aerobic interval training
Aerobic intervals wins out at this point because it's still higher intensity overall than steady state work so it burns more calories. There appears to be a fat oxidation benefit and will still be easier to recover from than additional anaerobic work.

If you have 6-8 hours available, add #4

If you're not losing a lot of fat with six hours of training already, then I'd be taking a very close look at your diet. If everything is in place, but we just need to ramp up fat loss some more (e.g. for a special event: a photo shoot, high school reunion, etc.) then we'll add in some hard cardio — a long run or bike ride with heart rate at 75% of max or higher.

Why not do as much of this as possible then? Well, the goal is to burn as many calories as we can without negatively impacting the intensity of our higher priority activities.

If I have more time than that, I'll add # 5
I think I'm getting into fairytale land at this point. I don't think most of us have more than eight hours of training time available per week. But if we do, this is when any additional activity will help to burn up calories, which is never a bad thing.

A lot of fighters have used this activity to help make weight. This works because it burns up calories but doesn't leave you tired for your strength training, sparring, or technical work.

That's the key with the addition of this activity: just to move, get your body moving, and burn up some additional calories — but not to work so hard that it inhibits recovery and negatively affects our other training.

The research and the real world don't really show massive changes from the inclusion of this type of activity; however, I think everything has its place. Remember, this is a hierarchy of training, and this is fifth on the list for a reason.

Smart guys call this NEATNon-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. I call it moving a wee bit more than normal.


Keep in mind that all I've said here is that harder training works better than easier training. It really is that simple.

To conclude, I agree with coach Dan John. Attack body fat with a passion and a single minded goal. The best way to do this is with an all-out assault implementing the hierarchy I described above.



Friday, April 2, 2010

Getting Fit with HIIT: Dropping the Hammer on Steady-State Cardio

Here's a fantastic article that I came across on, authored by Jimmy Pena, MS, CSCS, Jim Stoppani, PhD, and Eric Velazquez.

For the "steady-state cardio" exercisers out there, it's time to step it up & get to work! No more walking on the treads for 45-60 min., slowly pedaling the bike & cross-trainers all while talking on your cell phones, reading a magazine or watching TV!! If fat loss is what you're after, YOU MUST GO FASTER & HARDER. No one said getting results would be easy. Then again, nothing worthwhile ever is!


Less is more … except when it applies to things you really don’t enjoy, that is. Take cardio, for example. How much cardio does it take to burn through that stubborn layer of fat lingering around your abdomen? Copious amounts–or at least that’s what it feels like at times, since the most pervasive methodology behind fat-burning involves seemingly interminable sessions of cardiovascular activity done at a sustained rate. Where cardio is concerned, the theory has always been more is more. But all that’s about to change.What would you say if we told you that the latest scientific research suggests shorter cardio sessions for crazy fat loss? How would you feel if you could actually end up burning more fat in the long run while holding on to more of your iron-wrought muscle? You can go ahead and smile–because it’s entirely true. High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, is on the fast track to becoming the standard for steady and sustained fat loss.

With HIIT, the workouts are shorter, yes, but you’ll actually be working harder than the guy on the treadmill next to you. HIIT is what it says–high-intensity–and the results are undeniable. If you’re used to wearing a heartrate monitor to judge the efficiency of your cardio, shelve it–you won’t need it. By cycling between bouts of all-out effort and short stretches of active recovery, a mirror will be all you need to gauge your progress.

Burning Debate

Bodybuilders and others have long used steady-state cardio, which involves low- to moderate-intensity exercise performed at 60%-70% of one’s maximum heart rate (MHR), to whittle away bodyfat. Trainers and other experts argue that since lower-intensity cardio exercise burns a higher percentage of fat for energy, slow and steady indeed wins the race. HIIT cardio, on the other hand, involves intervals of high-intensity exercise–at a rate near 90% MHR–followed by intervals of slower-paced active recovery. Anecdotal reports and early research on HIIT went against the steady-state establishment, claiming that it was the superior method of cardio for losing fat. And the exercise community, likely looking for a way to collectively limit its time on a conveyor belt, felt it was time for in-depth science to put an end to the developing debate. What they found, time after time, was that HIIT cardio was the best way to lose fat, despite the fact that it required less total time.

One of the earliest studies, done by researchers at Laval University (Ste-Foy, Quebec, Canada), kept it basic, using two groups in a months-long experiment. One group followed a 15-week program using HIIT while the other performed only steady-state cardio for 20 weeks. Proponents of steady-state training were pleased to hear that those subjects burned 15,000 calories more than their HIIT counterparts. Those who followed the HIIT program, however, lost significantly more bodyfat. A 2001 study from East Tennessee State University (Johnson City) demonstrated similar findings with subjects who followed an eight-week HIIT program. Again, HIIT proved to be the better fat-burner–subjects dropped 2% bodyfat over the course of the experiment. Meanwhile, those who plodded through the eight weeks on a steady-state program lost no bodyfat.

The most recent study, out of Australia, reported that a group of females who followed a 20-minute HIIT program consisting of eight-second sprints followed by 12 seconds of rest lost an amazing six times more bodyfat than a group that followed a 40-minute cardio program performed at a constant intensity of 60% MHR!

Turn Up The HIIT
So what is it about HIIT cardio training that sends bodyfat to the great beyond? There are actually several reasons, but the first and perhaps most important involves its effect on your metabolism.

A 1996 study from Baylor College of Medicine (Houston) reported that subjects who performed a HIIT workout on a stationary cycle burned significantly more calories during the 24 hours following the workout than those who cycled at a moderate, steady-state intensity due to a rise in resting metabolism. Why? Since HIIT is tougher on the body, it requires more energy to repair itself afterward. The previously mentioned 2001 East Tennessee State study found that test subjects in the HIIT program also burned nearly 100 more calories per day during the 24 hours after exercise. More recently, a study presented by Florida State University (Tallahassee) researchers at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) reported that subjects who performed HIIT cardio burned almost 10% more calories during the 24 hours following exercise than a steady-state group, despite the fact that the total calories burned during each workout were the same.

What Else the Research Confirms
Research also confirms that HIIT enhances the metabolic machinery in muscle cells that promotes fat-burning and blunts fat production. The Laval University study discovered that the HIIT subjects’ muscle fibers had significantly higher markers for fat oxidation (fat-burning) than those in the steady-state exercise group. And a study published in a 2007 issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology reported that young females who performed seven HIIT workouts over a two-week period experienced a 30% increase in both fat oxidation and levels of muscle enzymes that enhance fat oxidation. Moreover, researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Trondheim) reported that subjects with metabolic syndrome–a combination of medical disorders that increases one’s risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes–who followed a 16-week HIIT program had a 100% greater decrease in the fat-producing enzyme fatty acid synthase compared to subjects who followed a program of continuous moderate-intensity exercise.

More Great News
The bonus to all this research is discovering that shorter exercise sessions will allow you to hold on to more muscle. Pro physique competitors often have to walk a fine line between just enough and too much steady-state cardio because the usual prescription of 45-60 minutes, sometimes done twice a day precontest, can rob muscles of size and fullness. Short, hard bursts of cardio, on the other hand, will help you preserve your hard-earned muscle mass. To illustrate the point, think about the size of a marathon runner’s legs compared to a sprinter’s legs–the sprinter, whose entire training schedule revolves around HIIT, possesses significantly more muscular thighs. In the event you choose cycling as your primary method of HIIT cardio, you can actually add leg mass because of the increased recruitment of the growth-crazy, fast-twitch fibers in your thighs. HIIT could be the only way to train for people looking to lose fat while adding and/or preserving muscle mass.

Rev It Up

No one enjoys doing cardio, but it’s a necessary component of reaching your physique goals. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be monotonous to be effective, and we’ve shown you the science to prove it. Turning up the heat on your workouts with HIIT will keep your gym time feeling productive while speeding up your fat oxidation–and in less time than you’d normally spend doing cardio.

If steady-state is the four-door sedan of cardio, HIIT is the Porsche – it’s sexier, and there’s enough under the hood to keep you blowing past the guy next to you.

- Time your HIIT sessionsDoing HIIT cardio after weights will burn the greatest amount of fat. During this time your body is slightly carb-depleted, making fat the primary fuel source for energy.

- Preserve muscle
If you do cardio first thing in the morning, have a half-scoop of whey protein (about 10 grams) mixed in water or 6-10 grams of mixed amino acids before your session. This will help ensure that your body draws most of its energy from fat and these fast-digesting supplements instead of your muscle.

-Supplement rightA fat-burning stack of caffeine and carnitine will enhance the amount of fat you burn during exercise. Take 200-400 mg of caffeine along with 1.5-3 grams of carnitine (in the form of L-carnitine, acetyl-L-carnitine or L-carnitine L-tartrate) 30 minutes before your session.

-Make it an uphill climb
Consider working hills into your HIIT cardio to add more detail to your hams and glutes. If you don’t have hills available, adjust the incline on a treadmill to simulate it. Be sure to drop the incline to level, or zero, during low-intensity intervals.

-Get in and out
Limit HIIT cardio sessions to 20-30 minutes to maximize intensity while actually aiding muscle growth and preventing muscle loss.

-Adjust for the lag
During intervals on a treadmill, there will be a slight lag time as the machine adjusts to the change in speed: By the time the treadmill is up to running speed, the fast interval portion is almost over. To keep your intensity high, begin the sprint portion of the interval when the machine has reached your target speed. You can do this by counting seconds once the target speed is reached, or by straddling the sides of the treadmill as it gets up to speed.



Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Spartacus Workout

Here are 10 exercises that collectively work every part of your body. Each exercise is performed for 60-seconds to challenge your heart & lungs as well as your muscles. What is this workout you ask? It's called 'The Spartacus Workout'. Created by Adam Campbell, MS, CSCS, and Rachel Cosgrove, CSCS and co-owner of Results Fitness, this workout is no joke and will kick your ass! And I'm not talkin' about donkeys either!

The final product – a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) circuit designed to torch fat, increase your metabolism up to 24-38 hours post-exercise and sculpt a lean, toned body. You’ll also be in the best shape of your life!


Perform 1 set of each exercise in succession for 60 seconds, do as many reps as you can (with good form), rest for 15 seconds between exercises, then rest for 2 minutes once all exercises have been completed. Repeat 1-2x more.

**If you can’t go the entire 60 seconds, rest as needed then continue until your time at that station/exercise is up.
  • Goblet Squats
  • Mountain Climbers
  • 1-Arm DB swing
  • T-Pushups
  • Split Jump/Squat Jumps
  • DB Bent-Over Rows
  • DB Side Lunge and Touch
  • Push-Up Position Row
  • DB Lunge & Rotation
  • Dumbbell Push Press
This is a great workout that results in a metabolic response by burning an average of 600-850 calories. We're not even talking about the post-exercise "afterburn" effect either!
Click here to see an illustrated version of the Spartacus Workout.
Now get to it!