Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Today's Five Minute Workout
Ok guys and gals I am periodically going to start posting a five minute workout routine. Most of my students are either new to fitness or have not worked out in awhile so I routinely start them off with a five minute workout everyday to get them into the habit of working out daily. Key word there is: habit. The idea is to get yourself into a routine before you decide to tackle a large weight loss or fitness goal. Having built a successful everyday habit in place will guarantee your success. Starting out small with just five minutes a day makes it easy for anyone to get in shape and feeling good. Even though five minutes is not a long time, it still is better than doing nothing and with a little creativity you can make it a fun challenge.
For today's five minute workout you are going to do only one movement: The plank. To perform a plank hold your body in a rigid position with just your forearms and toes in contact with the ground holding your body up. If you want to use the standard pushup position with your hands on the ground instead of your forearms go ahead. Keep your core tight to maintain a flat-as-a-board body posture. Set a stopwatch or timer for five minutes, get into the plank position and hold it there as long as possible. Try to stick it out for the entire five minutes. If you have to rest, lower yourself down but get back up as soon as you are able to. Five minutes is not a lot of time and you want to try to spend as much time performing the movement than resting. Stay strong and keep track of how long you can hold the plank at one time before having to rest. If you can make the entire five minutes, congratulations, you are truly a fit human being. Keep track of your time so that you can perform this workout again tomorrow and try to beat your previous time.
To recap, set a timer for 5 minutes, get in the plank position, hold it for as long as you can until the five minutes is up. That's all there is to it. Good luck, stay strong and leave a comment to let me know how you did!
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Keeping It Simple
I missed my workout yesterday. Yes I know, shame on me. Unfortunately other things just got in the way. It happens to all of us. We don't have to settle though. Hacking fitness is all about building habits. So instead of lamenting the fact that I missed my workout and feeling sorry for myself, I decided to work on some habits. I am working night shift this week. So before work I brought out the kettle bell and did some swings. I performed a set of 10 reps, a set of 15 reps, another set of 15 reps and a final set of 10 reps. A total of 50 reps of kettle bell swings. In between sets I performed a few yoga poses to stretch it out. (And for those of you that are making fun of me for doing yoga all I have to say is don't knock it until you try it. But more on that later.) In total this small workout took a total of about 7 minutes to complete. Not what I had planned for the day but the benefits were just as good. The rest of the night I felt loose, refreshed and fit. All it took was 7 minutes. I decided that this was going to be my back up workout from now on. Having a back up workout is a great idea when things go awry and you miss your workout that was planned for the day. Most people shrug off a missed workout and figure they will do it tomorrow. But you are better than that. You are interested in building fitness habits to be successful. Having a default workout planned should your day go to hell and you can't get in the regularly scheduled workout is a great way to keep your momentum going and achieve your goals. Something is better than nothing and progress no matter how small is still progress.
So my recommendation is to have a backup plan for your workouts. It doesn't need to be time consuming or elaborate. In fact I suggest just the opposite. Keep it simple and short. Get as much work in as you can. If you miss your workout because of more pressing matters during the day, just revert to your back up workout and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you accomplished something even when it looked as though you were destined to accomplish nothing. Quite frankly, this is the lesson of today's post. Do not let outside events dictate what you will or will not accomplish. Your life is your own and the day is yours. Accomplish what you want to accomplish regardless of the external forces acting on your life. Only you hold the key to your fitness success. Use the back up workout to get you there.
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
The Cycle Of Failure
Two Case Studies In Fitness
I want to share with you two case studies that I feel illustrate one of the biggest obstacles to a successful fitness routine and how to defeat this obstacle. The first involves a woman named "Jane". Jane is your typical successful woman in her mid thirties. She has a good job and makes good money. She has a husband and two small children. Jane has decided that she needs to be more active and she also would like to lose some weight. Jane starts by doing some research. She looks at different fitness facilities and personal training options. She investigates different types of fitness equipment. Jane goes online and researches different fitness products and routines as well. Jane finally decides on a fitness program offered by a widely known personal trainer. This certain program is offered in a set of DVD's containing workouts as well as nutrition guidelines. Jane picked this particular product based on the results it promised and the rave reviews posted on the website. Once Jane clicks the Buy button on the webpage she can hardly contain her excitement. Her motivation is at an all time high. She can't wait to tell all her friends and family about the journey she is about to embark on and how much it will change her life.
A few days later the DVD's arrive. Jane pops open the case and puts the disc in her DVD player. She completes the first workout and feels fantastic. The amount of pride and satisfaction she feels at completing her first workout is overwhelming. Motivation is again at an all time high. The next day Jane pops in the next DVD and completes that workout. Same thing on the third day. On the fourth day, however, something happens. Jane is unable to do her workout due to getting off of work late and having to tend to a family situation. "No big deal", she tells herself. "I will do it tomorrow." The next day Jane has a doctor's appointment after work and one of her children has a dance recital practice. No time for the workout on this day. Over the weekend Jane vows that she is going to do her workout. However, as typically happens the weekend flies by with other errands and activities and the workout doesn't get done. Finally on the following Monday Jane is bound and determined to do her workout. Her motivation is back up and she is confident she can get the workout in no matter what. Jane does the workout on Monday evening but it doesn't go so well. After having four days of not working out and a hectic weekend, Jane is tired and sluggish. The workout is awful and Jane feels worse after the workout than she did before. The next day Jane wakes up and her body is aching. Soreness seems to run through every muscle. Jane rests on this day and the day after. Following her two rest days Jane again attempts to take on the workout only to find herself struggling to finish it. She still has some soreness and fatigue from work and family life coupled with trying to keep up with the increasing intensity of the workouts is leaving her drained. Workouts are now happening fewer and farther between. Eventually the workout DVD's end up on the shelf collecting dust.
Jane feels awful. She is mad at herself for failing and feels that if only she was more motivated she could complete the workout program. She decides to take a break from exercise and concentrate on work and family. A month or two goes by and one of Jane's friends tells her about the newest and greatest workout routine out. Everybody is talking about it and everybody is doing it. It seems to be everywhere. Magazine articles, Oprah, Dr. Oz, everybody is touting it as the next best thing in fitness. So Jane goes online to the website and likes what she sees. She plunks down another chunk of change and buys the program only to see herself fall into the same vicious cycle as the first fitness program she bought.
I call this the cycle of failure and if it sounds familiar it is probably because you or someone you know has been ensnared by this fitness nightmare at one point or another. People often blame themselves and their lack of motivation for their fitness failures. Jane sure did. But we need to step back and take a look at this from another angle. What Jane and most of us do not realize is that motivation alone will not get us to accomplish our fitness goals. Motivation is like a wavelength. It has its highs and lows. Some days we get out of bed ready to take on the world. Other days we don't even want to leave the house we feel so unmotivated. Even in a single day our motivation goes up and down. Motivation is not the answer to our fitness problems. So then what is the answer?
Case Study #2
Meet Suzy. Like Jane, Suzy wants to be more active and lose weight. Suzy takes the same investigate actions Jane does and researches different fitness programs and products. However before Suzy buys a fitness program, she wants to be sure she can complete the program and get the results she wants. Suzy decides to evaluate her current fitness habits and decide if she needs to improve or change those habits in order to accomplish her task. Suzy will take walks occasionally in the evenings but other than that she doesn't do any other fitness activity. Suzy notes that the workouts on the DVD's require around 30 to 60 minutes to complete. Suzy realizes that in order to be successful with this workout program she needs to create a structured system of habits to guarantee that she will complete the program and succeed. Suzy begins by finding a block of time in her day that she can develop into her workout time. She decides that at 6:00PM every night she will start a fitness routine. This time works for Suzy because it is when she is home from work and has already eaten dinner. She also notes that she normally spends this time watching television so it is typically a distraction free period in her day. Suzy starts the first week by completing a simple 15 minute routine everyday at 6:00PM. Suzy used to take yoga classes and she remembers a few of the routines so she starts with this. By only taking 15 minutes to complete her routine, Suzy is able to get her workout in easily. One day during her first week, Suzy is unable to do her workout. Suzy has decided to keep a journal to record all of her progress, so she opens her journal up and writes down why she missed her routine. Suzy then writes down possible solutions for completing the routine in the future should she miss her workout. By using the journal and creating solutions, Suzy now has a list of effective strategies for making sure she gets her 15 minute routine completed each day. Suzy continues her routine for the following three weeks. She adds 10 to 15 minutes per session each week. By the end of the month Suzy has a workout routine consisting of 45 to 60 minutes that she can complete everyday without fail. Now she is ready to buy the DVD workout program and implement it into her routine. Suzy will do the DVD workouts instead of her yoga. By using the first month to loosen up and get her body prepared with the yoga, Suzy is now able to jump right in to the workout DVD's and achieve success.
The Moral of the Story
These two case studies showed us two women with similar lifestyles, similar goals and similar avenues of achieving those goals. However, the approach the women took to achieve their goals were vastly different. Jane's experience is what I would term putting the cart before the horse. Jane took on a workout program expecting to get results without having a structured system of habits in place to ensure her success. Suzy's approach, although taking longer, practically guaranteed her success. Suzy's approach was simple and easy to implement and it allowed her the best opportunity to achieve what she wanted. Suzy's approach to fitness is what I teach in the Hacking Fitness program. I want to take people out of the cycle of failure and place them on the road to a fit and healthy life using the principles of habits that we use in other aspects of our daily lives. Fitness doesn't need to be difficult. And I can show you the best way to be fit and guarantee your success.
Friday, May 22, 2015
People tell me all the time they don't ever have the time to workout. Granted finding the time in our busy day to go to the gym or head out for a run can be tough. I've been there. Work, kids, family, friends are all vying for our attention. Too often it is much easier to skip the workout and handle the other pressing items of the day. But if we think outside the box for a minute, we can find innovative ways to boost our fitness with a minimal expenditure of time and we can do it in our own home. In this post, I will show you a simple routine that will increase your strength and stimulate muscle gain. All in under a minute.
Enter The Stairway WorkoutA workout in under a minute? Really? I know you must be thinking this is crazy but stay with me. This routine is one of the best kept secrets in strength training today. So let's get started.
The routine works like this: You set up a rule and follow that rule throughout the day. For example we are going to use our stairway to facilitate our rule. The rule is that every time you go up or down the stairs in your house you will complete a certain number of reps of an exercise. So for our example we are going to use squats and pushups. Every time you go up the steps in your house you will stop at the bottom, perform 10 reps of squats or 10 reps of pushups and then proceed up the steps. You can decide to perform the exercises either when you go up the steps or come down the steps. Or if you are feeling froggy, do the exercises before going up and after going down. Completing 10 reps should take no more than a minute. That's all it takes! 10 reps is not much but when you think about how many times a day you go up and down the steps, you will start to get the picture. I use the stairs on average four to five times a day. That's 40-50 reps. Not bad for getting some work in. The key is to stick to the rule each and every time. Usually I will rotate between squats and pushups. The first time I use the stairs I will do squats and then the next time will be pushups etc.
Key PointsThere are a few key things we need to consider when doing this workout. Number one keep in mind that this is strength training. Strength is a skill and as such must be practiced as perfectly as possible in order to get good at it. When doing your reps make sure you are keeping your body nice and tight, especially the core, and perform your reps very slowly. We are not working on endurance here, we are training our body to be strong. Doing the reps fast will negate any increase in strength or muscle mass. If it helps you can use a count. Count to four when going down in the pushup or squat, pause at the bottom, and then count to four when coming back up. Again, 10 reps is not much so we want every rep to count. This is why we are performing slowly with our whole body into the movement. Even when performing your reps nice and slow with control, you should be able to knock out each set in under a minute.
ScalingThis workout is perfect for beginners to fitness because it enables us to perfect our form while increasing our strength at a pace that works. Using the stairs to aid us we can scale the movement to a point where we can perform the movement and get the most benefit.
The squatPerforming a full squat may be difficult for those new to fitness. We will use the stairs to our advantage. To perform a squat on the stairs:
- Stand up straight with your calves just in front of the steps.
- Squat down onto the lowest step possible without breaking your form.
- Pause at the bottom and ensure your form is correct.
- Stand back up out of the squat keeping your core tight.
The pushupPerforming a regular pushup can be difficult for beginners. Let's use the stairs to our advantage. By doing the pushup on the stairs we are now only pushing up a portion of our bodyweight. This enables us to perfect our form while increasing our strength.
- Place your feet on the landing and your hands on the step nearest to chest level.
- Slowly lower yourself down until your chest touches the steps.
- Pause at the bottom ensuring your body is nice and tight and your form is correct.
- Push up your body in a slow and controlled manner until your elbows lock out at the top.
AdvancedFor the advanced athletes we can still use the Stairway Workout to increase our strength. By increasing the difficulty of the movements we can continually test our strength and break new boundaries. I use the stair workout to practice one armed pushups and one legged squats. I can only do a few of each per set so I use the stairs to scale the movement in order to perfect my form and strength. I will typically do 3-5 one legged squats or one armed pushups per set at the stairs. By using the stairs to scale the movement down I am able to work on my form and strength easier than only one or two reps of standard one legged squats or one armed pushups.
Again I am only performing a low number of reps but when you factor in the number of sets throughout the day you can see that I can rack up a large number of reps in total. Even though I suggested pushups and squats for this workout you can substitute any bodyweight exercise into the routine. Even handstand pushups can be practiced using this routine.
ConclusionThe Stairway Workout is an insanely easy way to improve your fitness. Just stick to the rule and perform your reps with the utmost precision and in no time you will notice the gains in strength and muscle mass. This workout provides you with the template to increase strength, improve muscle mass and jumpstart your fitness with very little time investment. Good luck and let me know how it works for you by posting your results in the comments section.
Stay tuned for my ebook! Loads more information with detailed workouts and illustrations for getting fit all in the comfort of your own home!
Disclaimer: Make sure to get your doctor's ok before performing this or any other fitness routine. Remember, if you get injured you can't work out. So let's be smart and check with your doctor to make sure you are able to perform this routine. Not responsible for any bad things that happen to you while performing this routine.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Want to get in shape without going to the gym? How about adding muscle and strength without having to buy any expensive equipment? Are you strapped for time? What if you could have a workout in as little as 10 minutes a day? If you answered yes to any of these questions then this is the place for you. Hacking fitness is a concept I developed that allows you to workout in your own home using items regularly found around your house. The workouts are easy to do and require as much or as little time as you can afford. Using the Hacking Fitness method for working out you will never again have an excuse for not getting into shape. So let's get to work! Stay tuned for more posts and videos as well as the release of my ebook.