Answers to Your Questions on Fitness, Exercise and Weight loss

My latest observations, experiences and advice as a personal trainer about fitness, exercise, fitness equipment, weight loss and more.

 Inspirations Personal Training Home Page : Personal Trainer Blog Home : May 2006

May 2, 2006 07:24 - Great abs in only 10 minutes?

You don't really need a gym full of fancy machines or the latest infomercial gadget to build yourself a great set of abs.

You can do it all on a level floor.

The secret to that elusive six-pack is exercise variation.
By variation I mean using different exercises that create variation in motion, speed and resistance...these will give your abs a shock that can get them responding like never before.

Here, then, is the 10 Minute Abs Workout.

First, wear light clothing that will make you more agile, allowing your movements to be steady and flowing.

Lay down on the floor and take a deep breath. Prepare yourself mentally.

This abdominal workout will consist of one long, continuous set with no breaks in between various movements.

Maintaining constant strain on your abdominals is the key.

Start with basic crunches. You can either place your hands behind your head or leave them by your sides. I tend to hold my fists over my chest.

Whatever you do, don't pull your head up with your hands.

Bend your knees so that your feet remain flat on the floor.

Slowly allow your shoulders to raise off the floor without using your back whatsoever. Begin with 50 slow, strict repetitions.

Now add in a twist. Raising your shoulders off the ground, slowly twist your torso from side to side.

You want your right elbow turning toward your left knee and your left elbow twisting toward your right knee. Do 20 of these.

Now, leg raises. Extend your legs in front of you, making sure that your feet do not touch the floor.

You want to start with them together, about 10 inches off the floor, before raising them so that your legs form a 45-degree angle with the floor. Do 25 of these.

Move into more crunches, except this time with your legs straight, extended flat out across the floor. Try 50 repetitions.

Now, put your legs into the air and try a set of pikes. Your arms are out straight, pointing toward the floor, as you raise your shoulders in an attempt to touch your toes.

All the while, your buttocks are lifting slightly off the floor.

As you lower your shoulders to the floor, your legs come down again, into a bend position on the floor.

No sooner do they touch that you're beginning the next repetition. Do 25 of these.

On the last rep, leave your legs straight up in the air so your toes are pointing toward the ceiling. Do 30 crunches.

If it's difficult to maintain that 90-degree angle at your hips, slightly lower your legs to the floor.

Then, lower your legs so that they're 30 centimeters off the floor and lock your arms behind your head.

Lifting your right shoulder off the floor, twist your torso just as your left knee bends into your right elbow.

Immediately lower your knee and shoulder and then twist your left elbow toward your right knee.

Try doing 25 of these before lowering your shoulders to the mat for the final exercise of the workout.

This is another set of 50 basic slow crunches, just like the set that you began the workout with.

Your abs are likely to burn after this exercise session, but a few workouts like this each week should soon build your abdominal strength.

till next time,

May 6, 2006 09:12 - A great workout with a simple piece of equipment (Swiss Ball)

It doesn't have to take alot of money or fancy equipment to get a good workout.

If you haven't experienced exercise using a
Swiss Ball
, another name for a fitness ball, you are going to be surprised when you try it.

The swiss ball is here to stay and has become a staple in many gyms. It has been recommended for years by many physical therapists as a way to help you relieve back pain.

The effectiveness of the Swiss ball comes from the fact it's round. That creates instability that in turns causes your body's core muscles to come into play.

When you do a simple crunch on the floor, your abs are doing the work. Few other muscles come into play. But when you do a crunch on the swiss ball, all of the muscles in your abdominal core, including muscles in your back, pelvic area and hips kick in to do the work of keeping you stable on the ball.

All you did was a crunch, but the value of the exercise was multiplied by the use of all of the other stabilizer muscles. You'll get alot more benefit from the same exercise and you'll get it with fewer repetitions.

The abdominal exercises are not the only ones that can be done more effectively on a swiss ball. You can actually do a full body workout in about 15 minutes using no other equipment but a swiss ball.

Push-ups for example. Put your feet on the ball and your hands on the floor. If your feet are spread apart, the exercise is easier and if they are together, the exercise gets much tougher as you try to maintain stability. Try a half dozen pushups in various poses with your feet and legs on the ball. Obviously, as you position the ball closer to your knees and hips, the job becomes easier, but try not to make it too easy as the idea is to challenge your muscles. Try the same thing with your hands on the ball and feet on the floor. Notice that it is again easier if you spread your feet apart. Your arms are really going to feel this!

Use the ball instead of a bench to do some dumbbell training and, once again, since you are bringing those core muscles into play, you get a good body core workout as well.

It takes a little while to get used to the ball. You should begin by sitting on it and just getting a feel for it. Roll it back and forth. Side to side.

It's not a bad idea to have someone with you when you first start working out on the ball to help you stay on. And definitely don't begin using weights of any size until you are comfortable and have been exercising on the ball for some time.

You can't beat the price, and it can travel with you if you're on the road. I urge you to try including the Swiss ball into your exercise routine. You will see and feel a difference!

till next time,

May 10, 2006 07:27 - Getting rid of cellulite

An estimated 90 percent of women have celulite, experts say. And most women fear it. Can you get rid of it or not? And if you can zap it, how do you do it?

We consulted two fitness experts who gave us the lowdown. New York Times best-selling fitness author and certified physical trainer Joyce Vedral, Ph.D. and exercise physiologist and former supermodel trainer Teresa Tapp are in the trenches day in and day out with women in the battle of the bumps.

“Is it possible to become cellulite-free?” we asked our experts. The good news is yes, they say -- you can kiss most, if not all, of your cellulite goodbye. How? Through good old-fashioned diet and exercise. That’s a balanced diet and the right kind of exercise.

The bad news? You guessed it: “You mean I have to work at it?” we hear you saying.

“I get furious when I hear fitness and medical professionals say you can’t get rid of cellulite,” said Vedral, who at 50+, has the tight, toned body of an in-shape woman half her age. When the fitness guru appeared on a talk show with a physician who said that nothing could remove cellulite, she did everything she could to maintain her composure. “Cellulite is just bunched-up fat,” she says. “Build lean, shapely muscle underneath those dimply thighs, and the skin will become smoother and firmer as the fat melts away.”

Most experts agree that cellulite owes its waffled appearance to strands of tissue that connect fat to your skin. As soft fat bulges through these connective fibers, it pushes against your skin to produce the dreaded rippling effect. Vedral used to have cellulite. She found her secret weapon in weight training, in her 40s, and says she has coached hundreds of women to do the same.

Tapp, on the other hand, says she has helped hundreds of women become cellulite-free through a preventive wellness program that took seven years to develop. The copyrighted T-Tapp workout combines dance theory, tai chi and theories of Western strength training in a regimen that is designed to fatigue muscle groups layer by layer. “My system works from the inside out,” she says, because the carefully planned moves stimulate the body to rebuild its digestive system, flush out toxins, and improve lymphatic function and neuro-kinetic flow. The movement sequences affect multiple muscle groups, organs and body systems. The result: You burn calories and develop muscle density instead of muscle mass. No equipment is necessary. As a bonus, says Tapp, the workout is rehabilitative, especially for the lower back and knees.

You may be surprised to learn that both fitness experts believe just about any healthy, balanced eating plan that avoids refined carbohydrates will aid in reducing cellulite. Tapp also advises staying away from carbonated beverages.

You can find Tapp's book "Fit and Fabulous in 15 Minutes" at

till next time,

Get help losing weight with

May 16, 2006 06:55 - How to shrink those fat cells

I'm going to start out today with short primer on the way your body loses fat. Everyone knows that to reduce body fat you must eat fewer calories than you use and exercise but exactly how that works is often misunderstood. I believe that a little knowledge can be very helpful in your weight loss program

What actually happens when you begin your new nutrition and exercise program is that your fat cells release their contents into the bloodstream as free fatty acids, causing the fat cells to shrink. They (the fat cells) don't actually disappear, they just become smaller. You will still have the same number of fat cells, but they will become far less visible as their contents are released.

Everyone has a genetically pre-determined number of fat cells. No one is exactly the same as the next person. That is why some people tend to gain fat on their hips, or butt or legs or belly or other trouble spots. They simply have more fat cells in those places thanks to their parents. Except for radical surgery (liposuction?) the number of fat cells is not going to decrease. But they sure can shrink and that is what I'm going to help you do.

I’ve put together 5 great fat burning tips to get you in shrink mode.

1. Cardiovascular exercise -- Cardio should be approached as a tool to lose fat. It should not be used as a never-ending event (i.e., two-hour sessions) in the hope that you’ll get to your goal in 5 days. Burning fat takes time and one needs to be consistent and patient. Excessive cardio is counter-productive and will burn not only fat but also valuable muscle tissue.

If fat loss is not taking place, increase the intensity of your session, not the time. The key is to perform all that is necessary -- and no more than that. This is accomplished by incorporating interval training (integrating slower levels of intensity for several minutes with very high levels for several minutes)

The beauty of interval training is that you don’t have to exercise for long periods. Unless you’re training for a competitive event, anything longer than 30 to 35 minutes is unnecessary, and that includes warm up and cool down.

The following is an example of interval training while using the treadmill:

Begin with a warm up of 5 minutes at level 2.5 intensity (2.5 miles per hour)
1. On the 6th minute increase to 4.0 mph (light jog)
2. On the 7th minute increase to 4.5 mph
3. On the 8th minute increase to level 5.0 or 6.0 mph
4. For the next 2 minutes (minutes 9 and 10) return to 2.5 mph
5. Repeat numbers 1-4 two additional times, but increase the level of intensity just slightly on each phase.
6. After completing the above, cool down for 5 minutes at 2.5 mph.

In this example, you perform three cycles of higher intensity training. If you’re at a more advanced fitness level, then you’ll need to adjust the speeds accordingly to make sure the intensity is demanding at the higher levels.

This workout can be done on the stationary bike, Stairmaster, walking outdoors or using any other form of cardio. For the experienced cardio group, don’t think you can jump right into this type of training. Moderation and natural progression is vital. In the morning, you wouldn’t get in your car, start it up and immediately try to reach 80 miles an hour.

The beauty of this type of training is, based on the fact you have stimulated your metabolism to such a high degree, you continue to burn calories the day after your workout. Most people are obsessed with how many calories are burned during a workout, but one of the keys to losing fat is making sure your body continues to burn lots of calories 24 to 48 hours after the workout.

More in my next post,


Highly recommended weight loss programs

May 16, 2006 17:38 - We interupt this seriousness for a little humour.

Now I lay me
Down to sleep
I pray the Lord
My shape to keep.

Please no wrinkles
Please no bags
And please lift my butt
Before it sags.

Please no age spots
Please no gray
And as for my belly
Please take it away.

Please keep me healthy
Please keep me young,
And thank you Dear Lord
For all that you've done.

Five tips for a woman....

1. It is important that a man helps you around the house and has a job.

2. It is important that a man makes you laugh.

3. It is important to find a man you can count on and doesn't lie to you.

4. It is important that a man loves you and spoils you.

5. It is important that these four men don't know each other.

Best to you all,

May 18, 2006 07:02 - More on shrinking those fat cells

2. There is an old saying that fat loss success is 80-percent nutrition. Well I'm not sure what the percentage actually is but based on my experience it’s clear to me that it all begins with nutrition. If you don’t have your nutrition program “tuned in,” you won't be successful. It doesn’t matter how hard or how long you workout. This applies to everyone who starts a diet and fitness program.

The goal of your nutrition plan should be to control blood sugar. Controlling blood sugar levels helps to shed fat. This is accomplished by taking in some protein, carbohydrates and good fats spread evenly through the day every 2 to 3 hours and by not over eating.

A sample meal schedule might look something like this:
6:30 Breakfas
9:30 Snack
12:30 Lunch
3:30 Snack
6:00 Dinner
9:00 Small Snack -
This method will have a large impact on fat loss. However, don’t forget that there is no magic diet that will allow you to consume more calories than you burn, except a weight-gain diet so you still need to be in a slight calorie deficit.

3. Strength Training -- There are numerous studies that show that strength training (working with weights) produces a greater calorie post burn than cardiovascular exercise. In one study, 40 minutes of strength training produced a 36 percent increase in metabolism longer than 40 minutes of cycling.

Unless you strength train, you will lose about half a pound of muscle a year after the age of 20 and, worse than that, you’ll replace the muscle with a pound of fat a year. So over time, your body composition can change dramatically for the worst.

The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism. In fact, one pound of muscle helps your body burn up to 18,000 calories in a year. Nothing can dramatically change your body the way strength training can. You should try to strength train three times a week with a day of rest in between. Two is good for beginners or for maintenance, but three will help you to progress and keep your metabolism stoked.

Consider some of the research findings related to strength training and metabolism by Ted Lambrinides, Ph.D.:

"Additional muscle mass will alter metabolism in two ways. First, resting metabolic rate is increased when one gains muscle mass. While the energy expenditure per pound of lean body mass does not change, the addition of more muscle mass means a larger energy expenditure or higher metabolism at rest.

"Second, the more muscle mass one has, the greater the post exercise oxygen consumption. When strength trained individuals were compared to non-trained individuals, there was no difference in post exercise oxygen consumption per pound of muscle. However, since the strength training individuals have more muscle mass, they burn more calories during the post exercise period.

"Conclusion: Strength training increases energy expenditure during a training session. The high intensity or anaerobic nature of strength training indicates a high utilization of carbohydrates during a training session. *During the post-exercise recovery period, energy expenditure is elevated for a period ranging from two to fifteen hours."

4. A calorie is not a calorie -- Do you know those people who tell you to simply lower your calories to lose fat? The people who never mention protein, carbohydrates or fats? They’re wrong. Protein, carb and fat ratios are important. The correct ratios (which can vary depending on an individual’s response to food) help to stabilize blood sugar levels, which helps to increase energy and fat loss. Generally, 40 percent to 50 percent of carbohydrates, 25 percent to 30 percent protein and 20 percent to 30 percent of healthy fats is the best starting place.

Carbs are necessary for energy and not the enemy everyone makes them out to be. The key is how much you consume. Protein is also critical to build and retain muscle tissue, which in turn helps to burn more fat.

Finally, good dietary fats are extremely important. They help to balance hormonal levels, increase strength and create satiety (fullness). If you’re looking for a plan that takes this into account I recommend eDiets GI plan (Glycemic Impact diet)

5. Water Intake -- From the standpoint of water intake and fat loss, you want to be in a position where the liver is converting stored fat to energy. The liver has other functions, but this is one of its main jobs. Unfortunately, another of the liver’s duties is to pick up the slack for the kidneys, which need plenty of water to work properly (more than most people realize).

If the kidneys are water-deprived, the liver has to do the work of the kidneys along with its own (lowering its total productivity in the process). The liver then can’t metabolize fat as quickly or efficiently. If you allow this to happen, you’re setting yourself up to store fat because you've made the liver less efficient at turning stored body fat to energy. Usually if you multiply .55 times your weight, that should be enough in ounces of water to suffice. Water is the under rated fat loss tool.

Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

Highly recommended weight loss programs

till next time,

May 24, 2006 07:03 - Break through that plateau with interval training

OK, you've been exercising for 6 months or so and have been eating a nutritious diet with a balance of protein, fat and carbs, and the weight has been coming off a point. Lately however, you can't seem to budge another pound of fat off.

Ah! You've reached a plateau...that place all of us reach occasionally where it seems that nothing will work to reduce your body fat by another ounce.

Very frustrating! But there is a way through it that may even reduce your amount of exercise time.

This method is a bit tough and is not for the beginner, but as a beginner you won't need it just yet.

It is called interval training and it will take you to a whole new level of fitness and weight loss. Yes, you will have to work a little harder but you will quickly see the difference it makes.

Interval training is a great way to boost the metabolism by mixing high intensity cardio with low intensity cardio exercise. Athletes have been using interval training for years to improve performance, and you can too.

When you reach a plateau, many people will tend to increase the time of their cardio exercise, which will work for a time but the body will quickly adapt and stop burning the same number of calories that the increase caused initially.

Well, you can't just keep increasing the cardio time or soon you''ll be running all day long!

It used to be that performing cardiovascular exercise for 20 to 30 minutes at a target heart rate of 60 to 80 percent was a great way to lose fat. Yes, it can be. But, what do you do when you know it’s not working anymore?

The beauty of interval training is that you don’t have to work out for long periods. Unless you’re training for a competitive event, anything more than 30 minutes is unnecessary, and that includes warm up and cool down. In fact, you can make great progress with just three sessions (alternate days of the week) of just 20 minutes per week.

The routine I’m outlining is only 20 minutes and has been proven to be effective. Combine it with a slight calorie reduction (below maintenance calories) and efficient strength training program for great results. Just remember, it only works if calories are low enough to stimulate fat loss.

The following is a protocol for interval training using the treadmill as an example:

Begin with a warm up of 5 minutes at level 3.0 intensity (3.0 miles per hour)

1. On the 6th minute increase to 4.0 mph (light jog)

2. On the 7th minute increase to 5.0 mph (brisk walk)

3. On minutes 8-10 increase to level 7.5 mph (very fast run)

4. For the next 60 seconds return to 3.0 mph (walk)

5. For the next 2 minutes increase to 8.0 mph (very fast run)

6. For the next 60 seconds back to 3.0 (walk)

7. For the next 2 minutes increase to 8.0 mph (very fast run)

8. Cool down for 5 minutes at 3.0 mph (walk)

Total workout time including warm up and cool down: 20 minutes. Please keep in mind that this is only an example! You’ll need to adjust the speeds accordingly to make sure the intensity is demanding but not impossible at the higher levels. Also, make sure to stretch before and after the workout.

More on interval training tomorrow.

May 25, 2006 07:20 - Interval training breaks through plateaus

Interval training can be done on the stationary bike, Stairmaster, walking outdoors or using any other form of cardio. You will find that it is a big step up and you'll definitely feel the burn so, even if you are well experienced at your favourite form of cardio, don't rush into intervals. Moderation and natural progression is vital.

In the morning, you wouldn’t get in your car, start it up and immediately try to reach 80 miles an hour.

Warm ups and natural progression are key to prevent injury. As you progress and feel more comfortable, you can add another level of intensity. In most cases your workout never needs to exceed a total of 30 minutes and three times per week is all you need. I do not recommend interval training every day, because it can lead to over-training.

The beauty of this type of training is, based on the fact you’ve stimulated your metabolism to such a high degree, you continue to burn calories the day after your workout.

Most people are obsessed with how many calories are burned during a workout, but one of the keys to losing fat is making sure your body continues to burn lots of calories 24 to 48 hours after the workout.

With interval training, the goal is to perform smaller yet manageable intervals of all-out effort with brief periods of low to moderate recovery.

With conventional cardio workouts, your system returns to its base level extremely quick and adapts quite easily. The cardio-respiratory system is not unlike any other muscle that you work with strength training. The key is to ask it to do just a little bit more than it is accustomed to doing -- in effect, to impose a new demand.

Another way to play with your program is to perform interval training for 3 weeks, followed by longer duration, moderate cardio for 3 weeks. There are multitudes of ways to stimulate your metabolism to accelerate body-fat loss, without setting up a tent by your cardio equipment.

As always, your ultimate success in achieving your goals is based on effective exercise (weight training and cardio), following your nutrition plan and massive amounts of consistency.

Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

till next time,

Highly recommended weight loss programs

April 2006 «  » November 2006


RSS Feed For This News

Personal Trainer Blog Home | Archives | Articles