In this week’s newsletter
Making progress with barbells. Using a self-evaluation journal. Building a runner’s resistance to the cold and flu season. Fair compensation. Add new habits into your daily routine. Is running the best prescription for fat loss? Using rowing to help achieve my fitness goals.
Enjoy this week’s issue of FitITproNews and feel free to send us feedback on any of the topics we’ve covered — we love hearing from our readers!
Mitch Tulloch, Senior Editor
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Disclaimer: I am not a certified fitness professional or nutritionist so take any suggestions made here “as is” with a grain of salt and a heaping supply of your own judgment. Please read our full disclaimer at the bottom of this newsletter.
Sarah Trammel sent us the following comments in regards to Mark Nichols’ article “The Vegan (WFPB) starter” in our January issue of FitITproNews:
Another thing to keep in mind on a vegan or plant-based diet is zinc. Most plant foods that contain zinc also contain anti-nutrients that inhibit absorption. They also contain as much, or a lot more of, copper. Copper and zinc work together (or against each other) in the body and have to be kept in balance. Animal foods don’t have the anti-nutrients that are found in plant foods, and many of them are high in zinc while also being low in copper. When I eat a plant food (think beans, nuts, seeds, sweet potato, mushrooms, etc.) that is high in copper, I will pair it with an animal food that contains a balancing amount of zinc. For those who don’t want to incorporate animal foods, there may be a way to supplement. Discuss your specific situation with your doctor or other healthcare provider.
Send us your feedback!
Got feedback about anything in this issue of FitITproNews? Email us at [email protected] today!
My progress with barbells (Mitch Tulloch)
Mitch Tulloch is the Senior Editor of FitITproNews and a recovering fat IT pro who lost 50 lbs in midlife and is now on his way to becoming a fit IT pro. Mitch is a widely recognized expert on Windows Server and cloud technologies who has authored or been Series Editor of numerous books/ebooks from Microsoft Press. Mitch is also the Senior Editor of WServerNews and writes frequently for TechGenix.
As I mentioned previously in our December newsletter, three months ago I finally decided to try and take my resistance exercise to the next level by buying a barbell and a bunch of plates. I’ve been using dumbbells and kettlebells ever since I began my fitness journey nine and a half years ago, and I’ve put on some muscle and lost a good amount of bodyfat by combining resistance training with HIIT cardio.
But not that much muscle. After all, there’s only so much muscle you can build by doing deadlifts, squats and presses using 40 lb dumbbells. Still, I’m a lot fitter than I was before I started exercising and eating properly.
But I was starting to get bored using dumbbells. And while kettlebells are great for working up a sweat, their impact (for me at least) seems to be more cardiovascular than hypertrophic (muscle-building).
And so I bought a barbell.
When I started using it, I found it challenging just to lift 135 lbs (bar with one 45 lb plate on each end). I could just manage 10 reps doing deadlifts with this weight. I felt totally exhausted afterwards, though a few hours later I felt terrific. I could also just manage 8 reps of bent-over rows with this weight. Based on this initial experience I thought it would probably take me a year before I could do even a single pull at 225 lbs (bar with two 45 lb plates on each end).
Fast forward three months to today and I’m surprised at how my body has responded! First, I can now lift much more than I had expected I would be able to lift after such a short period. For example, I can now do 3 sets of 6 reps of 195 lb deadlifts. And 3 sets of 6 reps of 175 lb bent-over rows. Also 3 sets of 10 reps of 195 lb T-bar rows. And similar amounts of weight for upright rows and Romanian deadlifts. And the main bottleneck at this point for my barbell lifts seems to be my grip strength i.e. the muscles in my hands, not my leg, hip, back, shoulder or arm muscles.
Not only have I become stronger than I had anticipated in such a short time, I’ve also altered my body composition a bit by working out with barbells. For example, my weight has remained steady around 221 lbs over the last three months, give and take about 2-3 lbs. But I *feel* less flabby around the waist, hips and butt, and my arms are harder, and I noticed yesterday that I can tighten the belt on my pants two more notches more than I was able to do back in November when I began doing barbells. So I’ve probably put on a couple pounds of muscle while losing a roughly equivalent weight of bodyfat. In other words, using barbells has helped me lean out, at least a bit.
I still also do HIIT cardio once or twice a week, usually by pushing and pulling a 135 sled back and forth a dozen times (see here for details of how I made a home-made sled last year instead of buying a Prowler). But I’ve been doing some kind of HIIT consistently for a number of years now, so I attribute most of my recent body changes to working with barbells.
At this point I’m focusing only on doing a few key exercises with barbells, prioritized as follows:
- Romanian deadlifts (for hips and hamstrings)
- Bent-over rows (for lats and lower back)
- T-bar rows (for upper back)
- Deadlifts (for legs, hips and back)
- Wide-grip upright rows (for shoulders and arms)
I generally do three days of lifts followed by a day of HIIT cardio, then I recover for a day or two. On my first barbell day I usually use 135 lbs. Then I increase this to 155 or 175 lbs on Day 2 and 175 or 195 lbs on Day 3. In other words, I progressively work towards heavier loads over three days of barbell exercises. This gives my muscles a really good workout and leaves them aching by the fourth day.
My barbell workouts usually last anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour, and I often superset lighter exercises (using dumbbells or bodyweight) in-between my barbell sets. For example, my early morning routine yesterday was this:
- 10 reps of 135 lb Romanian deadlift followed by 15 pushups with hands on a medicine ball (repeat 3 times)
- 10 reps of 135 lb bent-over rows followed by 12 reps of hammer curls with 20 lb dumbbells (repeat 3 times)
- 10 reps of side bends holding one 40 lb dumbbell followed by 10 reps of hamstring exercises using a fitness ball as described in the Exercise Tip section in our September 2019 newsletter (repeat 3 times)
At this point I haven’t bought a bench press or a squat rack, and I’m not sure if I will do either. At my age I’m not interested in breaking any records, and pressing with 40 lb dumbbells while lying on the floor or doing flyes with 20 lb dumbbells while lying on a fitness ball seem to be sufficient exercise for my chest at this point.
I am looking into ways to increase my chest and shoulder strength more however. In particular I’ve been researching fitness sandbags/waterbags to see if I can buy one I can use for doing squats. I don’t like the idea of having a barbell across my back, so holding a heavy sandbag or waterbag in my arms may be a good way of challenging my legs more than squatting with 40 lb dumbbells as I’ve been doing for several years now. The bags I’m looking at are currently these ones:
Dimok Aqua Bag – max weight is 79 lbs and current price on Amazon Canada is $97.45
Rep Fitness Sandbag (Large) – max weight is 150 lbs and current price on Amazon Canada is $110.19 plus play sand (costs $8 per 25 lb bag at Home Depot)
Rogue Training Bag (Large) with Funnel Filler Bag – max weight is 160 lbs and price from Rogue website is $235.13 plus play sand
Ideally I’d like to have something durable that weighs 80 to 120 lbs as I doubt if I really want to squat with anything heavier since I’d have to clean-and-jerk it off the floor into my arms first! And if any of you readers out there have any suggestions for such bags, please email me at [email protected]
But getting back to barbells again, let me end this month’s article with a tip for novice users. One problem I quickly faced when I bought a barbell and bunch of plates was how to change the plates easily. I didn’t want to spend money on a weight rack, so I went to Canadian Tire and found a cheaper but completely functional solution, namely automotive axle stands:
This pair of axle stands cost me only $33.74 at my local Canadian Tire store.
Once I laid them out in my basement I can use them to hold my barbell in an elevated position so I can easily slip plates on or off the ends of the barbell:
These axle stands are terrific for changing plates on my barbell!
Anyways, I’ll update you again this summer on my progress using barbells. And if any of you have any tips you’d like to share from working out with barbells, give me a shout at [email protected] and we’ll share your tip in the Mailbag section of a future issue of FitITproNews.
Using a self-evaluation journal (Robin Camp)
Robin Camp works as tech support for an Orthodontic Practice Management Software company called New Horizons Software ( www.nhsoftware.com). As a professional photographer on the side, Robin does fashion, glamour weddings and more in his spare time (www.dancingwithlightphoto.com). You can also now find him working out on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/fitittech/.
As I am working on recovery from my injury to my SI joints, hamstring and glutes, I have decided to fall back on an old technique I learned from a mentor, while I was competing in bodybuilding, a Self Evaluation Journal.
This process helpful regardless of whatever fitness discipline you are participating in. In a nutshell, a Self Evaluation Journal means stepping back, looking at your goals, evaluating your strengths and weaknesses WITHOUT self judgment, this is JUST an evaluation. This process allows you to then re-tailor your goals and training program.
For example, with my injuries, my current goals changed from competitive power-lifting to a well balanced proportional and cut physique. This meant taking some pictures of myself, front and back and evaluating my weakness’s.
So first off, it’s hard to look at photos of yourself without judging, just as it is to look at your running times or any stat’s, I know. Breathe, and pretend you are simply evaluating someone else in order to help them.
In my case I noticed immediately:
- My traps are out of proportion- to small
- So are my calves-too small
- My Rear delts need some work
- Not quite as bad but my quads have lost some muscle mass from not being able to do any leg exercise’s with weights.
- Lastly, I need to do some cutting
So now I know that:
- I need to target traps twice a week rather than once a week
- Need to Increase calf training after checking with therapist
- I need to Add three sets twice a week to rear delt training
- Need to Check with therapist and see when I can start up training legs with weights again
- I need to cut out some of the refined carbs that have crept back into my diet such as sourdough bread, cut back from whole milk back to 1% and cut the drinking down to 2-3 days a week
So the great thing about a Self Evaluation Journal is going into the process not to tear yourself down and self deprecate, but too build yourself a roadmap. After some pictures and some non judgmental evaluation, I now have a clear vision of where I am starting, and clearer goals. In 3 months I can again repeat this process, see where I have made improvements, where I have slipped and need to make adjustments on. This may seem tedious, but I have found in the past being able to see the steady progress and clearly see where I came from to where I am is incredibly motivating!
This process also helps you spot the minute differences that we don’t see when we make the process of putting ourselves down or judgmentally evaluating our progress every day on the track, in front of the mirror or in the locker room. This process can also be applied other disciplines to, such as running, except you would time yourself rather than take photos, you might even have a fellow runner videotape you running to analyze your gait.
Remember too, even if you do not see AS MUCH progress as you want at your next evaluation, whether it’s in the mirror or, running yards or seconds off your mile, making any progress, even if it’s just sticking with it, puts you ahead of 90% of other people out there who are not even bothering to try. Keep trying, keep making progress and remember to have some fun!
Building a runner’s resistance to the cold and flu season (Rod Trent)
Professionally, Rod Trent is a PFE/STA for Microsoft, focusing on Azure Identity and Governance and EMS. Privately, Rod is dedicated to fitness through diet, running, and other activities, but also a TV and movie junkie. You can find Rod active on Twitter (http://twitter.com/rodtrent) and LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/rodtrent/).
This cold and flu season has been extraordinarily brutal — at least for me. I’ve just come off a 2-week stint feeling weak, having a sore throat, and just general malaise. I’m not normally a “doctor person” or one that takes medicine. I’m careful about my diet and in doing so gives me better resistance to colds. In fact, if I get a cold somehow, it normally lasts 2 days a most.
But, this time, I finally gave in and had a doctor visit. Of course, my doctor is always surprised when I show up other than my normally scheduled checkups. When this happens he knows something is truly amiss. I have lots of travel coming up and about the middle of this past week my voice went out and wouldn’t come back. I rely on my voice for my job, so that was the final straw. A quick visit and a Z-pack later and my strength is back in good standing and ready to take on next week’s challenge. I’ll be in Bakersfield, CA next where the running weather and views are awesome. I would’ve hated to miss out on that.
Truth told, though, even with my ailment I was able to muster at least a bit of energy each day to still get in a run. Most days I’d hit the 5 mile mark (and then cough my head off for a half hour after), but there were a couple days where 1 mile was all my body would allow. There was one day on the hotel treadmill in Chicago I was coughing so bad that the others in the fitness center thought my head might actually come off. I could see their frightened stares in my peripheral.
So, what’s your regimen to supplement your immunity? I monitor what I eat pretty regularly, but when traveling it is difficult to maintain the same level of healthy eating. So, to compensate, I invest in a few different supplements to help shift the balance.
Here’s the supplements that I regularly consume:
- Elderberry — There are a lot of people that swear by Echinacea for immunity maintenance, but personally I’ve found Elderberry to be a better source. There are a few gummy versions that are awesome.
- Turmeric — Turmeric is an unspoken lifesaver. It helps minimize inflammation, which in turn can resolve aches and pains. To accomplish this, I put Turmeric powder in my daily oatmeal.
- One-a-day — Finding a good daily vitamin can be tough. I always look for something that contains all the following: Vitamin A, C, D3, E, B6, B12, and Zinc.
- Probiotic — You’d be amazed how much of your health is contained in, and maintained by, your gut. This a more important area than most realize. Find something with at least 50 billion active probiotic cultures.
There are, of course, other recommendations. Some swear they need a good Iron supplement. For me, I make sure to get enough of that in my diet without requiring a supplement. I’m not a doctor, and only by getting a blood work-up can you be truly sure what you are, or are not, lacking in your diet. I get my bloodwork done once a year and then either compensate my diet or my supplements. This is a great way to ensure I have a long life as a runner. And, by doing so, I’ve been able to maintain a great running lifestyle where I can still bang out a mile or so when feeling poor. Each year at my checkup my doctor does his review of my progress. At 53, my bloodwork still comes back showing the health of someone in their early 20’s. That’s not a braggart thing. It’s ultimately due to hard work and maintaining diet and supplements based on real data.
Fair compensation (Kris Lall)
Kris Lall works as a product manager in the tech industry for an enterprise software manufacturer. As a youngster, Kris was consumed with soccer before technology came along. Now he’s consumed with both. You can find him on Twitter at the not-too-surprising handle @krisoccer.
Being new to a modern workout activities at the gym means I have a lot to learn in regards to proper technique. As someone new to specific exercises and equipment, I can confirm that initially trying to lift more than my body was prepared to lift was a mistake.
After showing me some new lifting exercises, my lifting expert (son Ben) introduced me to the concept of compensation. We all understand what compensation means in other aspects of our lives. Compensating while lifting, though, is when your body changes its form under heavy lifting to help compensate for a lack of strength. Or sometimes if you’re lifting extremely heavy, your body will help compensate for the weight even if you are strong enough to lift it with proper form.
What’s happening is that your body thinks it’s helping you lift the weight, but it’s actually harming you to not use correct form and posture. For example, many people don’t use correct form when squatting, a common workout exercise. When squatting, your feet should be about a shoulder width apart, knees bent a little, and back locked in place and completely straight.
New squatters often use one side of their body more than the other. This means that when you’re coming back up from a squat and let’s say your right side is stronger, you would push harder with your right leg, which would push your right glute out more than your left, in turn making your spine curve. Instead of using only your quads and glutes to push the weight up, now your spine is doing the work. This can obviously lead to injuries, like back pain. Not good!
Employing proper technique when exercising will prevent your body from responding to using bad form. When it comes to lifting, it’s important to lift lighter and practice your form before you start lifting heavier so that your body doesn’t compensate.
Photo 1 – Incorrect form: Ben is compensating with his right arm, so the bar is uneven.
Photo 2 – Proper form: Right arm moved to proper bar location, so the bar is even.
Add new habits into your daily routine (Kris Kane)
Kris Kane is a North Yorkshire based personal trainer, martial arts instructor and general fitness enthusiast. You can find him on Instagram at @koachedbykris and also view him professionally on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/kris-kane.
Life needs to be enjoyable, a long-term switch to a healthier lifestyle shouldn’t be boring or leave you feeling deprived.
Here are some tips on how you can make it easier to incorporate new, more enjoyable habits into your daily routine and bring you closer to your fitness goals.
Preparing meals in advance to minimize convenience buying.
We have all had times when we get home late and nothing is in the fridge, it seems like a chore to cook, so on impulse, dial the takeaway or find an unhealthy ready meal in the freezer for speed, only to feel bloated and guilty about it later. A solution here is to meal prep where possible.
Set some time at the weekend where you can dedicate the time to shopping for the week and batch cook in advance.
One of my favourites is chicken fillets. I buy a kilo from local butchers and batch cook them in spices or healthy marinades. These can then be used over a few days for anything from chicken salad, wraps, with rice and veg or even a healthy take on a chicken curry!!
Always keep some healthy snacks on standby (fruit, protein bar/shake etc)
Again, this will reduce impulsive purchases. You’re going to feel better after a chocolate protein shake, and your muscles will thank you more than if you ate that mars bar!!
Plan the time of the day you are going to go for a walk or do some exercise.
This really helps to get you into a routine and make being more active/training part of your day.
Keep your gym bag in the car ready for after work
This will stop you having to go home first and getting too comfortable on the sofa, get that workout in first!
Ask yourself ‘where could I walk to when I would normally drive?’
Any increase in activity will help burn more calories, next time you need to visit somewhere consider if you can walk instead, it might take longer but you will feel better for it.
Choose some music, a podcast or audio book to make a walk more enjoyable.
You are more likely to get a higher step count if the walk is more enjoyable with your favourite album or a chance to learn something new at the same time.
If you have a sudden urge to eat junk food, just wait!
Take a few minutes to consider if it will bring you closer to your goal or not. Give it an hour before you decide to have it as most of the time cravings will simply pass.
Plan your main meals around a source of protein aiming for at least 2/3 portions a day.
This will ensure you get adequate protein in your diet to assist in growth and repair.
What is your why?
Use the first 5 minutes of the day to think about your mindset and remind yourself why you want to make a change. Is there a birthday, occasion, holiday etc you want to look/feel better for?
Reduce or remove!
Avoid buying the foods that you struggle having in moderation…if you struggle to only have a few squares of that giant bar of chocolate then consider removing it until you have hit your goal.
Plan occasions in advance
When you know you will be eating/drinking out, try reduce some calories across the days prior to account for this and try do something active the next day.
Do you indulge out of habit?
Lastly, have a think about what you do purely out of habit. Common examples of having biscuits with hot drink / Friday night takeaways / chocolate snacking / alcohol on an evening – are all done just because you’ve settled into a particular routine/habit.
Why not challenge yourself to not do one of these things and see how it makes you feel, i’m sure you’ll find you’ll enjoy something more when you don’t have it as often!
There are also hundreds of ‘fake-away’ recipes out there if you do still crave that pizza or Chinese, just cook it at home, and use healthier options. Not only will you have the satisfaction that you have made it, you will also save money and calories!
If any of your new year goals involve fat loss and you want some further support, head over to my new Facebook page where I will be posting useful daily tips on all things training, nutrition and mindset 😊
As always, good luck with your training and let me know if you have any questions.
Is running the best prescription for fat loss? (Lana Khazari)
Lana Khazari is a Technical Support Analyst for the Corporation of City of Windsor, Ontario, Canada. She is also a Precision Nutrition Coach, Personal Trainer, Fitness Instructor and a Yoga 200-RYT Instructor. You can find her online at lanakharazi.com.
Many women and men look at exercise as a prescription for weight loss. Most of us understand that we need to burn more calories than we ingest. High-intensity activities burn tons of calories and running tops that list. This leads the uninformed person to treat CARDIO as the only way to lose weight. The more educated gym-goers and trainers know a bit more. They know cardio has its place and it depends on individual fitness goals.
What one needs to know is that we first burn calories by NEAT.
NEAT is Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. This is all the other activity in your day that doesn’t include exercise. It could be walking, cleaning, fidgeting, or sitting at your work computer desk like me listening to Ed complain about why it takes forever for his report to run. Sitting, typing and listening to Ed burns approx. 116 calories per hour. Lying down or relaxing, burns less, walking burns more.
Now, if you work out for 1 hr today, that accounts for less than 5% of your day. And if you workout 4 times this week for 1 hr that is only 4 hrs out of a potential 168 hrs for the week. In this case, NEAT takes up 164 hrs of your week. That is a lot of hours. So, what you do during those 164 hours matters the most for calorie expenditure. While I don’t recommend more support calls with Ed, it may be worthwhile to invest in a step counter and try to increase your steps per day. Rather than surfing the web for a break, maybe walk and talk with a coworker instead. Here is another reason why office fitness programs really should be taken more seriously.
Why should one bother exercising at all if NEAT does most of the work?
Exercise has countless benefits and fat loss is still one of them. Movement and activity can change the way a person’s metabolic environment works. Active, leaner and denser bodies process nutrients better and more efficiently.
But, is cardio the most effective?
I WAS the cardio queen. I have instructed group classes from HITT to spin and all types of Jane Fonda-ish aerobic classes. I’ve done hill sprints, sled pushes, battle ropes, kettlebell swings, barbell complexes and chased a soccer ball for 90-minutes. I’ve bored myself to death on the treadmill, stairclimber, rowing machine, and elliptical stepper for hours at a time. But, the absolute MOST boring thing on earth to me is SLOGGING. Or slow-a** jogging. The only time I really enjoyed jogging was alongside a beach in Halkidiki, Greece. Nothing like taking in the beautiful Mediterranean views with the rising sun while smelling coffee brewing at the local cafes. Unfortunately, the local scenery sucks in comparison and running for an extended period of time just feels like pure torture.
Long, boring cardio is not necessary. In fact, after some time, it can stop being effective. I’ve had the same participants attend some of my cardio classes consistently over the past 15 years I’ve been instructing. I hate to say it, but their physiques don’t look any better, in fact, for most, they look worse. I also personally know some fitness instructors and advanced exercisers that are very lean and do lots of cardio, like INSANE amounts of cardio. This has a lot of gym participants believing it is what they need to do to look like them. All this is conflicting and confusing. Personally, the leanest I have ever been, figure competition stage lean, was achieved doing ZERO cardio. Not even a 20-minute HITT session or stairclimbing session. Have you heard the phrase “you can never out-train a bad diet.”? Getting lean for me was mostly diet and 4 weight training sessions a week to retain lean muscle.
To clarify, when we talk “cardio” we are referring to aerobic activity. Aerobic means “with oxygen” and refers to stuff that increases your heart rate and intake of oxygen. These are the endurance-based activities I’ve referred to like running and aerobics classes.
Weight training uses the anaerobic system but is also a cardiovascular activity. Any type of intensity to your lifting will cause oxygen debt and that is also “cardio-respiratory”. The lungs and heart pump as you lift but when the intensity becomes too high to meet the body’s demands through the aerobic (“with oxygen”) energy system alone, it taps into the anaerobic (“without oxygen”) system for short-term emergency fuel stores. Glucose and glycogen are immediately available from these stores to do most of your weight training and any activities like sprinting or jumping. However, the “cardio-respiratory” work you get out of lifting, may be compromised if you are texting or talking with your buddy between sets.
So how does cardio work for fat loss? And, is it effective?
Aerobic training does use fat as an energy source. As you continue to train, your body becomes more “efficient” at using your fat for energy. This sounds good, but it is not. When we say “efficient” it means the body is efficiently using less of your fat as an energy source. To be clear, as you do more aerobic training, you burn LESS fat.
A few coaches I know have used this analogy (I don’t know whom to give credit to but I didn’t come up with it):
The Honda Civic is much better on gas mileage than a Lamborghini. The small engine can get us further by burning less fuel. It is much more “efficient” at using fuel than the Lamborghini. You can go longer but burn less fuel. In comparison, the Civic burns less fuel for a given distance than the Lamborghini.
Now replace “fuel” with “fat”. Do you want to go longer but burn less fat? Do you want to do MORE cardio but burn less fat? Do you want to be a Honda Civic or a Lamborghini? For optimal fat loss, don’t you want to be the sports car? I’ll take the Lamborghini with the big “metabolic” engine, please.
Again, when you first start an aerobic activity, you are burning fat at a faster rate. As you continue to train, the rate at which the calorie-burning machine runs starts to die down. To continue to burn more fat, the only answer here is to engage in that activity for even longer. If you are a runner, you have to run more and more and more.
A study in the British Journal of Nutrition, over 20 years ago, showed how the female body can adjust to energy expenditure.
In this study, female distance runners who ran 50/km week were compared to non-runners. The runners expended over 600 calories more per day. The distance runners NEAT was the same as the non-runner control group. Neither did they eat more – food was recorded.
The result: the female runners didn’t lose weight. Somehow the bodies adjusted to the extra exercise. The female body here responded quite differently than expected. This example also shows that body composition changes may not happen with exercise alone.
Just like I observed with some of the participants in my aerobic classes over the course of more than a decade the same observations can be made in the running community. Thousands of overweight people register for running races and marathons each year. If running was the holy grail of fat loss, why are there still overweight people at the finish lines?
When fat loss is the goal, endurance cardio is not the best.
So, what is the best for fat loss?
A training method that doesn’t use the “aerobic energy pathways” and helps to retain and/or build lean muscle mass. Weight training can help to build lean muscle. More muscle means more active tissue, resulting in a bigger calorie-burning Lamborghini engine. Many people are able to lose quite a bit of fat with weight training alone. Or, you can combine methods of weight training and HITT (high-intensity interval training) for even more fat-burning activity without compromising strength or power.
But, again, I repeat, you can not out-train a bad diet.
Everyone must understand that high-quality consistent nutrition is critical for success. There are no shortcuts. Body composition changes on exercise alone cannot be promised. If you are frustrated by hours in the gym or pounding on the pavement, you may need to shift your focus to what’s on your plate.
Lastly, I caution anyone looking at exercise as a prescription. If you are looking at exercise as just a way to lose weight, that mindset might not be helping you. Do what you like and do what is fun FOR YOU! Remember when you were a kid, running and jumping and exploring? Nobody told you to do that but that is what you just did. If you hate exercise, you need to find FUN first. If you like to run, run. If you like to lift, lift. Like Yoga, Zumba or dancing? Do that. The fun will keep you consistent and consistency is what ultimately matters. Consistently moving your body will get you feeling happy and healthy. Eating quality foods to support your movement, will keep you happy and healthy for life.
Using rowing to help achieve my fitness goals (Jimmy Vo)
Jimmy Vo is a cyber security professional in the financial sector. He’s a Jiu Jitsu hobbyist and a purple belt under Lucas Lepri in Charlotte, NC. You can find Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyVo
I wanted to make a big upgrade to my home gym by adding a solid piece of cardio equipment. I thought to myself, a treadmill? No, I despise running and I can do it outside for free. I longed for something that would be a soul crushing conditioning workout. After some research, I decided to go with an indoor rower based on value, full body low impact workout, and the calorie burn.
I often check Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist for used equipment when trying to add something to my home gym. I had my heart set on the Concept2 Model D with PM5 but couldn’t find many used rowers. The ones I’ve found were older models but not too much cheaper than a brand-new rower. I can’t speak for all indoor rowers but the Concept2 rowers seem to hold their value.
There is some empirical data that rowing is soul crushing from a calorie burn perspective. According to Harvard Medical School, stationary rowing at a vigorous pace would burn 316 calories in 30 minutes for a 155-pound person. For context, stationary bicycling at a vigorous rate for the same person and time would be 391 calories.
I also picked an indoor rower because it’s a full body workout. According to Concept2’s website “Rowing is a coordinated muscle action that involves every large muscle group in the body” during all four phases of the row: catch, drive, finish, and recovery.
Since Concept2 rowers hold their value pretty well, be prepared to spend a lot of money on a new or used rower. I spent $950 on Concept2 Model D with PM5. The good news is, I could sell it for ~$700 if I got tired of it in a few years. In addition to cost, rowing requires very good technique to maximize the workout. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of content on YouTube to provide some insight on rowing technique. My favorite videos are from Dark Horse Rowing. If you prefer in person coaching, the Concept2 website has an instructor search that can connect you to a certified instructor.
I’ve incorporated rowing into strength and conditioning by doing a light row before my lifts as a warm up. I’ve also started rowing about 3 times a week in the mornings. Concept2 has a really cool WOD (workout of the day) which lands in my inbox every day. It gives you three options, short, medium, long. I’ll probably transition to more high intensity interval training with my rower as my technique improves.
I’ve only had the rower for a few weeks but I’m very happy with my investment. It’s been brutal rowing 4000 meters but, in the end, it’s helping achieve my fitness goals. If you’re interested, definitely try out a rower at your local gym.
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