Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Significance of the Overload Principle

Overload. This is probably one of the most important, if not the single most important fitness principle out there. Look up any fitness program or talk to any personal fitness trainer, and you'll always see & hear that in order to obtain real results you need to push yourself a little harder each an every workout. This is the basis of 'progression' - a series with a definite pattern of advancement. Essentially, the 'Overload Principle' states that in order for your body and muscles to get stronger and better, you need to add more than the normal (or previous) level of stress/load than before.
For example, let’s say you bench press of 135lbs today for 10 repetitions. The next time you do the same exercise, overload it -add an extra 10lbs and try to do 145lbs for 10 repetitions. This principle applies to any sport. The key is to make your muscles work harder each and every time than they previously were before by lifting more weight (heavy loads), running faster in a shorter amount of time (this applies to HIIT), or increasing flexibility to offset the potential for injury.

By overloading you’re letting your body and muscles adapt to new levels of stress. By applying this systematic approach, you’ll be able to reach your fitness and performance goals much faster. Guaranteed!

Time to get to it!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Spartacus Workout 2.0

Back in April 2010, I posted what I consider "The Ulimate Warrior Workout", also known as 'The Spartacus Workout'. Created & designed by Rachel Cosgrove, CSCS (co-owner of Results Fitness - Santa Clarita, CA), she's back again....this time with a vengeance and with another killer workout.

'The Spartacus Workout 2.0' is guaranteed to precede its' reputation in helping you incinerate body fat, boost your metabolism, pack on lean muscle and construct a lean, sculpted body!

If you thought the original Spartacus workout was tough, wait till you give Spartacus 2.0 a shot. Talk about getting your ass whooped! We're not talkin' about donkeys either!

DirectionsDo this routine 3 days a week. You can do it as your primary weight workout, or as a “cardio” routine on the days between your regular workouts.

You’ll find that there are two “steps” or circuits. Follow the directions for Step 1, and then move on to Step 2.

Step 1 - Each exercise is a “station." At each station, do as many reps as you can in 40 seconds, rest for 20 seconds, and move to the next station. Go until you’ve done 2 circuits, then rest 2 minutes, and do 2 more circuits. Rest for another 2 minutes, then go to Step 2.

Step 2 - Each exercise is a “station." At each station, do as many reps as you can in 40 seconds, rest for 20 seconds, and move to the next station. Go until you’ve done 2 circuits, then rest 2 minutes, and do another 2 circuits. You’re done!

Note that many of the exercises are performed with one arm or leg at a time. Work one side the first time through the circuit, then work the other side the second time through the circuit. The best approach is to work your weaker side (usually you’re left side, if you’re a righty) first.

*If you can't go for the entire 40 seconds, rest a few seconds and then resume until your time at that station is up.


Step/Circuit #1
  • DB Hang Pull
  • Offset DB Reverse Lunge
  • Single-Arm DB Swing
  • Thrusters (Squat to OH Shoulder Press)
  • Single-Leg, Single-Arm Underhand-Grip DB Row
Step/Circuit #2
  • DB Chop
  • Plank to Pushups
  • Rotational DB Straight-Leg Deadlift
  • Squat Thrusters (Burpees)
  • Jump Squats
This is a great workout that results in an elevated metabolic response for the next 24-38 hours. Click HERE to see an illustrated version of 'The Spartacus Workout 2.0'.

So....what are you waiting for?! Let's crank it & GET IT DONE!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How to Become a Superhero

If you’re struggling with motivation, or you’re just getting started on your quest to level up and you’re intimidated, building a superhero version of yourself could be the jump start you need. Here’s why:


Whether they’re in video games, comic books, or movies, superheroes are so awesome because they can do the impossible, giving us a chance to escape the real world and live vicariously through them. They’re lighting fast, incredibly strong, and invincible; they can fly, stop bullets, and scale buildings. They’re brave as hell and enjoy walking into dire situations with a giant smile. They beat the crap out of any adversary, save the girl/world/dog from certain death, and then brush it off with some witty double entendre.

I saw the superhero movie, 'Kick-Ass', about two months ago and it raised an intriguing question – "Just because we're not superhuman, can we lead a super heroic life?" I believe the answer is YES! I also believe that we can become our own superhero in 5 easy steps! (Okay, they're not super easy, but anyone can do it.) No rippling muscles, awesome brain power, or fancy gadgets needed. The only ingredients needed are a dedicated mindset and the will to COMMIT and take ACTION!

Superheroes are bad-ass mofos, and it’s time for you to become one too!

1. Decide what you want to accomplish - You might be overweight, out of shape, scared to leave your house, and embarrassed about your life. However, you can create an alter ego that is the exact opposite of those things, and that’s the person that will turn things around. Just think of all of the scenarios that play out in your quest to get in shape:
  • You might give up two miles into a race because you’re tired. Your alter ego would push through the pain and finish.
  • You might quit your weight-lifting session early because you had a rough day at the office. Your alter ego would get angry (and you wouldn’t like him/her when he/she is angry), get motivated, and power through the rest of the workout.
  • You might be incredibly self-conscious. Your alter ego isn’t self-conscious in the slightest, thanks to a “costume” and persona that is different from how you normally dress and act. If people can’t recognize you, there’s no need to be self-conscious, right?

Make the superhero version of yourself do all of the things that you’re afraid of or struggling with. Why? Because superheroes attack problems in way different ways than a normal cube-farm dweller. That’s why they exist – to do stuff that ordinary people can’t.

2) Determine your persona - I usually spend my time working on fitness related materials – blogging, developing fitness programs, reading books, answering emails, writing articles, and updating my Facebook page. I’m always really happy, easy going and smiling. However, things change whenever I go to the gym.

I throw on my uniform - a workout t-shirt, shorts, cross-trainer shoes, ball cap, and a permanent scowl. I throw on my headphones, I jump around between sets to pump myself up, and get this crazy look in my eyes before every set. I become a much stronger, fierce and more determined version of me, and it WORKS! This is the time to take care of business and get it done!

What about you? Some superheroes have elaborate costumes to hide their identity. Others like Superman simply remove their glasses and throw on some spandex and suddenly nobody can recognize them. Some people become funny and confident when they transform; others become more business-like and hardcore. Some like to work together in groups. Others like to work alone.

Your alter ego can be whatever you want it to be, so dream big, and reach for the sky. Each day, as you shed your shirt, tie, or skirt and high heels from the office, you’re transforming. As you start to put on your workout clothes, your daily worries, troubles at home, and anxiety about tomorrow’s presentation cease to exist for the time being – you’re now a superhero and you have bigger fish to fry.

As you’re getting prepped and ready, imagine your pre-workout ritual being filmed with dramatic camera angles and inspiring music playing. If Tony Stark (Ironman) can have a montage, why can you?

3) Pick a theme song - While transitioning from my normal self to my Super Self, I always turn on music to get fired up. My songs of choice are something along the lines of Alice In Chains, Deftones, Sevendust or some other rock band/music - it puts me in the right frame of mind to get me amped up, get my game-face on and go kick some ass!

Get yourself a montage pump-up song. After that, make sure you have some other songs that can be used for the other super dramatic or action-filled moments of your super hero life.

4) Decide what you stand for - What are you fighting for? Superman adheres to a strict moral code when dealing with crime, fighting to protect Lois Lane and save Earth. Batman does everything in his power to clean up the streets of Gotham, striking fear in the hearts of would-be criminals and thieves.

Whenever I lift weights, the “Fitness Rebellion” is in the front of my mind. I exercise to inspire and motivate, because you inspire and motivate me. It’s easy to fight with conviction when you have something worth fighting for.

We’re all different, we all have unique talents and abilities, and we’re all dealing with our own 'Kryptonite' – things which I define as being toxic to our overall well being. We’re also all fighting for the same cause: to become better people, to help those around us, and to leave the world a better place for our kids. We have certain standards that we must live up to, and we know that with each others’ support we can create a movement that is more powerful than anything this world has seen.

We’re the good guys, and we want you on our side!

5) Live the code - The superhero code is pretty simple, though it trips a lot of us up. It basically tells us to not be bad guys. Superheroes sacrifice to protect others. They use their powers for good. They don't cheat or lie (maliciously) or steal or take advantage of people. They are good role models, and they do the right things, even when no one is watching.

Again, nobody's perfect, but our choices in life become far simpler when we set the standards for our own character and engage the daily struggle not to violate them. Gossip about my neighbor? I don't think so. Let a friend down who's counting on me? I'd have to have a very good reason. Cheat on my taxes? Of course not. Leave a cat in a tree? How tall is the tree?! No....wait....heck no! I'd at least call somebody.

There are, obviously, other super heroic steps we can take, but these are the 'Fantastic 5' you might start with. Take them out for a spin and see how high you can fly.

I challenge you to create an alter ego for yourself. Think up a cool name, pick a theme song, pick your uniform, and pick your special power.

Now…let’s do this!

-AR (which not signify my initials, but I’m ‘Always Ready’ for action!)

P.S. If you’re interested in attaining a ‘Superhero Manual’ to get things started in the right direction, then you need to check out Nate Green’s site Click HERE to get your FREE copy of his “Hero Handbook”.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Can You Survive A Quarterback Workout?

So you want to perform like a champion, huh?! Well, you better get to it and start putting in some work. Playing like a champion doesn't come easy - neither are the workouts!

Here's a great video of my good friend & colleague Todd Durkin, CSCS - owner & founder of Fitness Quest 10 (San Diego, CA) as he takes HLN sports anchor Rafer Weigel through a Super Bowl MVP workout. If there's one guy who knows what if takes to become a Super Bowl MVP, Todd's the man. After all, he happens to be the trainer for Super Bowl XLIV MVP Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints and Super Bowl XLV MVP Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers.

Enough said. Now get to it!


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Fruit’s Gone Bad…

Here's an fantastic blog post by my good friend and colleague Sean Croxton, CMTA - owner & founder of Underground Wellness (San Diego, CA), as he explains the reality of the fast food industry and how they undermine our health. If we're on quest for optimal health, then we as a consumer must to our part. One way we can achieve this is by 'refusing to waste our breath on fast food menu options'.

I’ve been spending my Sunday lying on the couch re-reading 'Appetite for Profit' by Michele Simon and half-watching Favre and Brady battle it out (never mind, it’s Jackson and Brady now). My intention was to blog about the underhanded public relations games the food industry plays in order to bolster its image and dodge legislation. But that will have to wait until tomorrow. Instead, I feel the need to get something off my chest.

I pride myself on being a realist. I guess you can say I swallowed the red pill, choosing to see the world for what it really is. I know that there will never come a day when the aisles of my local grocery store are lined with whole organic foods. I am more than certain that regardless of how many times that “McDonald’s French Fries Don’t Decompose” article comes across my Facebook News Feed, people are still going to order them. Let’s just keep it real.

Several years back when I first read 'Appetite', I was beside myself with the lack of healthy options the food giants were offering up. And don’t get me wrong, I’m still more than unhappy with the industry status quo. However, what really chaps my hide is the idealist who complains but is never satisfied, the kind of person who somehow believes that our fast food nation will one day wake up and order baked chicken, quinoa, and steamed broccoli with a 16-ounce kombucha through a drive-thru window. Nonsense.

As shady as the fast food industry is, we must admit that they have responded to public outcry and introduced healthier options to their customers. Almost all offer salads. Some have experimented with fresh fruit. The problem is that no one goes to a fast food restaurant to order a salad. That’s kinda like going to a vegan spot and ordering chicken.

The food idealists of the world need to take a few courses in business. If anyone thinks Ronald McDonald is ever going to voluntarily stop the aggressive marketing, drop the pretentious health and physical activity campaigns, or halt all sales of food and beverage items that people obviously want to buy, you’re kidding yourself. I’m not sure what kind of business you run, but would you continue to offer a product that won’t sell? Should Ronald, Jack, and Wendy continue to waste food just to please you? An unsold salad is an unHappy Meal.

Before this blog gets misinterpreted as support for fast food, allow me to voice my disgust for their unfulfilled promises, shameless marketing, and use of celebrity endorsements to keep the Big Mac assembly lines moving. But let’s not kid ourselves about healthy menu options knowing darn well no one is ordering them. When I want a salad or an apple, Burger King is the last place I’m thinking of.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. I am a proud member of Foodie Nation, but I refuse to waste my breath on fast food menu options. At this very moment, there are hundreds of thousands of people biting into double cheeseburgers. None are foolish enough to consider it a healthy choice. They’re fully aware of what they’re eating.

Meanwhile, the salad is wilting and the fruit’s gone bad.

Just like those people who are addicted to drugs, fast food will contribute the same effects as hundreds if not thousands of people make their daily trips to these establishments - they can't kick the habit in order to get their fix. Whether their food choices are based on their finances (eating what they can afford), the premise of education and comprehending how these products wreak havoc to your total health is vital. Don't let money be an excuse for not making smarter & healthier food choices.

Afterall, I'd rather spend my hard earned cash on food that nourishes my body rather than killing it with stuff that never spoils.