Secrets Of The Extremely Fit

Take a look at this for some pretty helpful ideas on bettering your lifestyle and improving your health! Some of these seem obvious, but are you actually incorporating them into your lifestyle? This is written for men in mind, but this applies to you as well ladies! Enjoy! 

The following text and pictures are courtesy of Huffpost Healthy Living. See the article in its entirety here

Secrets Of The Extremely Fit

fitness secrets
By Andrew Heffernan, C.S.C.S. for Men’s Health

There’s no way around it: To gain muscle and lose flab, you have to pay the iron price. And sweat buckets. And rethink your grocery list. But the ultimate cost (in time, especially) depends on what you know. In our never-ending quest to help you get in the best shape of your life, we tapped the country’s top fitness minds and combed through cutting-edge research to find the 25 most effective ways to reveal the stronger, leaner person inside you. In short, we’re about to fast-track your fitness.

More From Men’s Health:
The Men’s Health Workout Center
The Fitness Rules Winners Follow
20 Ways to Stick to Your Workout

1. Rethink Your Nutrient Intake
The traditional food pyramid — which the White House unveiled as a plate-shaped pie chart in 2011 — is heavy on refined carbs and light on protein and fats. So it doesn’t meet the nutritional needs of active men who want to build muscle and burn fat, saysMen’s Health nutrition advisor Alan Aragon, M.S. That’s why he created the “food tower” — it provides the ideal balance of muscle-building foods and flab-defying nutrients. Use it as the basis for your daily diet.

2. Load Up On Green Energy
green vegetables“When athletes start eating more vegetables, they don’t fatigue as easily,” says Tony Gentilcore, C.S.C.S., cofounder of Cressey Performance in Massachusetts. “It’s common to see them setting personal records in the weight room within a few weeks.” His favorite trick: Throw a handful of spinach into a blender and combine with 2 cups almond milk, some frozen berries, rolled oats, chia seeds or flaxseeds, and a scoop of protein powder. You won’t even taste the greens.

3. Get More Vitamin D
A dearth of D can lead to impaired athletic performance, according to a recent review published in the journal Nutrients. Other research shows that men with higher levels of vitamin D tend to have stronger muscles than those with low levels. Odds are that you fall into the latter group; in fact, no less than 77 percent of people in the United States are deficient in vitamin D, according to a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Your goal: 600 IU a day.

4. Spread Out Your Protein
This much is obvious from the food tower: To build muscle, you need more protein. But men who divide their daily protein among six smaller meals instead of three larger ones build muscle faster, say scientists at Skidmore College. “Try to eat 100 grams [more than half of your recommended intake] by lunch,” says Alwyn Cosgrove, C.S.C.S., owner of Results Fitness in California. Three eggs for breakfast, a midmorning shake, and grilled chicken and Greek yogurt for lunch will do the trick.

5. Find Your Whey 
whey protein shakeDifferent types of protein work better at different times. In the morning, go with whey, which can help control cravings all day, report scientists in the Journal of Nutrition. “Whey is also best pre-workout because it digests quickly,” says Nick Tumminello, C.P.T., owner of Performance University. Postworkout, use casein, which burns slowly to provide a steady stream of protein. Forty grams before bed can also boost overnight muscle growth by 23 percent, say Dutch researchers.

6. Work Your Entire Body, Every Time
When it comes to building strength, how often you work a muscle is just as important as how hard you work it, according to research in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. “You need about 10 to 15 sets per muscle group per week to see results,” Tumminello says. Shoot for three total-body workouts a week; during each one, complete 3 to 5 sets per muscle group.

7. Lift Something Weird
Most of the objects you lift in everyday life — shopping bags, overstuffed suitcases, toddlers — aren’t as conveniently sized as dumbbells and barbells. To build strength that translates beyond the gym, incorporate sandbags, kettlebells, fat-grip barbells, and other odd-shaped training tools into your workouts, says Anthony DiLuglio, founder of artofstrength.com. Can’t find such oddities in your gym? Wrap towels around a chinup bar to make it tougher to grip.

8. Master The Pullup
pullup“The pullup targets more muscles than any other upper-body exercise,” says MMA strength coach Chad Waterbury, M.S. And because it’s typically done with body weight, it’s also an indicator of relative strength (how strong you are for your height and weight). “The benchmark is 15 in a row,” Waterbury says. If you can’t do that many, work your way up. “Do 1 set of max pullups each morning and evening for three days; take the fourth day off,” he says. “Repeat the sequence until you hit 15 reps.”

9. Move More Weight (Right Now)

  • Bend the Bar: When you bench-press, try to bend the ends of the bar away from you as you press it up. “You’ll fire more muscles in your upper back, creating a more stable platform on the bench,” says Wil Fleming, C.S.C.S., owner of Force Fitness and Performance.
  • Spread the Floor: As you squat, press outward against the floor with your feet (but don’t actually move them). “You’ll feel your glutes activate, which will boost your power,” says Fleming.

10. Train Your Core The Right Way
Ditch crunches and situps. “Moves like those create motion around your spine — precisely what your core is designed to resist,” says Waterbury To build a chiseled,functional six-pack, do anti-rotation exercises like the single-arm wall push. Assume a pushup position facing a wall with your hands 2 feet from the baseboard. Place your right hand on the wall and push for a slow 3-count. Repeat with your left hand. Do 10 reps per side. Too easy? Do a pushup between reps.

Head over to Men’s Health for the full list.

Braless is Best?

Words and photos below courtesy of Healthy-Living. See article here

Should you ditch your bra? Marilyn Monroe slept in a bra to keep her assets firm and perky, according to Hollywood lore. A new study out of France suggests it might have been more effective for the screen goddess to go “au naturel” instead.

Researchers spent 15 years studying the breasts of over 330 French women, and concluded that wearing a bra does not prevent sagging or ease back pain as commonly thought. “Medically, physiologically, anatomically—breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity, Professor Jean-Denis Rouillon, from the University of Besançon, told France Info Radio. “On the contrary, they get saggier with a bra.”

Taking measurements with a caliper, the researchers found that by not wearing a bra, muscles around the breast actually strengthened and the “nipple raised 7mm per year toward the shoulder.” However, the scientists did not recommend all women abandon their bras since their muscles had probably already degraded.

While the phenomenon of “bra burning” has been greatly exaggerated, in 1970s it was not only politically correct but also fashionable to go braless in the United States. Since then, women have been trussing themselves into increasingly structured—and expensive—undergarments. According to Business Week, the women’s intimates’ industry generates over $11 billion a year in revenues.

The results of the study may be intriguing, but it’s doubtful that droves of American women are going to ditch their bras anytime soon. For one thing, a study by the Center for Talent Innovation found that women who jiggle around the work place are deemed less worthy to become executives by both men and and other women.

Furthermore, the study focused on women ages 18 to 35. According to France’s English-language news site The Local, one 28-year-old participant reported multiple benefits: “I breathe more easily, I carry myself better, and I have no back pain.” We’ll see what she says at age 50.

Top 10 Female Strength Training Questions (and Answers)

by Melissa Hinkley
Date Released : 26 Jan 2012

The female body. Why is there so much confusion when it comes to building the ideal female body? Perhaps it is because many fitness professionals are just as confused as their clients. Should you use female specific programs, or just grab a program out of Men’s Health? And where does resistance training come into the picture? Is cardio better than lifting weights when trying to drop a pant size?

As an educated fitness professional, you are in the perfect position to clear up the confusion. It is no surprise that most women are not content with their bodies. They hear celebrities claim that lifting light weights is how they stay thin. Women see advertisements showing thin yogis saying that Pilates and yoga will give them the “long” and “lean” muscles that are so desirable. Then they read magazines stating that cardio is the only way to burn those extra pounds hanging around the mid-section. But what does research say about this dilemma? The solution goes by many names: resistance training, lifting weights, strength training. Whatever you choose to call it, one thing is for sure: it works.

Let’s look at the 10 most common strength training questions asked by female clients, so you’ll be ready to answer them when they inevitably arise.

Question #1 – How much weight should I use?

Oh, the dilemma between light and heavy weights. Some celebrity trainers swear by using only very light weights for a ridiculous number of repetitions. What does research say about this? There are hundreds of studies showing greater strength improvements in men when using heavier loads, but the literature on females is much more scarce. However, there are several studies examining the difference between using light and heavy weights with women. The results are clear: heavier weights increase muscular strength and decrease body fat more then light weights, even in women (Tsourlou, 2003). To explain this to a client, just tell her that the more work she does, the more calories she will burn.

There is a very easy way to help your clients understand this: Have doubtful clients perform a set of step-ups on a box holding a 2 lb. weight in each hand, and then perform another set using 20 lb. weights in each hand. The heavier weight will obviously be harder, meaning it requires more work. More work, more calories burned, equals better results. Does circuit training do the same thing? Yes, if done properly. But studies have shown that performing three sets of each exercise is more beneficial than performing just one set (Schlumberger, 2001).

The real problem with circuits is that many people only perform one set of each exercise.

Question #2 – Won’t I get bulky?

Absolutely not, unless you train specifically for that. Girls were not created to get bulky. Hormones start flowing when puberty begins, and that is the turning point where boys start getting manly and girls become more womanly. Guys develop their muscular physiques because they produce more testosterone and growth hormone, which plays a large role in increasing muscle mass and strength. Females get their curvier physiques because they produce estrogen and limited amounts of testosterone and growth hormone. In fact, women produce less then 10% of the amount of testosterone that men produce (Haff, 2008). Estrogen plays an important, and slightly annoying, role of storing fat.

These hormonal differences are the biggest reason that men are able to hypertrophy to a greater extent then women. Hypertrophy (gaining muscle size) happens when contractile elements enlarge and the extracellular matrix expands in order to support more growth (Schoenfeld, 2010). This happens in both genders, but studies comparing strength gains between men and women on the same resistance training program have shown that men increase strength more then women, especially in the upper body (Kell, 2011). This is mainly due to their higher levels of fat-free mass.

In summary: no, women are not going to get bulky from lifting. An increase in muscle size will occur after 6-8 weeks of resistance training, but this will not lead to bulkiness.

Question #3 – Should I include yoga and Pilates in my training?

Both are fine forms of exercise. However, take a look at the typical female client. Most often, we see female clients who are on a tight schedule and are looking to lose a few pounds. If they have a few hours a day to spend in the gym, then I’d say yoga and Pilates are a great addition to strength training. But if your clients are strapped for time, then those forms of exercises are not optimal. Any type of exercise where you spend more time lying down then standing is not going to cause major weight loss. Have you ever met someone who lost significant amounts of weight doing either yoga or Pilates? Thin people tend to do these forms of exercises, so they stay thin and get slightly stronger, but there are some drawbacks from these types of exercises, the biggest being the lack of axial loading, meaning performing exercise with weight on your back.

As women age, osteoporosis and decreased bone mineral density (BMD) is inevitable, so women must work hard to maintain their BMD. The only way to do so is to perform weight-bearing activities. Walking and jogging are considered weight-bearing activities, but they only increase BMD in certain areas. In order to substantially increase BMD, females must perform things like squatting, lunging and deadlifting with a significant amount of weight.

Question #4 – Won’t I get tight and inflexible if I lift?

No, training with a full range of motion during your lifts will actually increase flexibility (Morton, 2011). Many athletes in the mid-1900s used to stay away from lifting because of the belief that their performance would be hindered from being musclebound. That belief is long gone and has been disproved by research. Just compare pictures of Larry Bird (chicken legs) to LeBron James (tree trunk legs). The point is that resistance training can actually increase flexibility, which is great for typical female clients and also female athletes (Haff, 2006).

Question #5 – How hard do I have to work?

Research has shown that intensity is likely the most important factor to stimulate muscle growth (Schoenfeld, 2010). A repetition range of 1-12 reps has elicited greater muscle hypertrophy then a high repetition range. More specifically, some research has suggested that 6-12 repetitions is the optimal range, when performed at greater than 65% of your 1 repetition maximum (1-RM). This doesn’t mean that you need to train your female clients to failure, though. Training to failure, or the inability to perform another repetition, has been linked with psychological burnout and overtraining (Schoenfeld, 2010).

As a personal trainer, how do you do this practically? Unless you are working with female athletes, it may be impractical to test your client’s 1-RMs in every lift. Experience will allow you to estimate and give your clients the proper weight. If a client easily performs 10 squat and presses, give them more weight the next set.

Question #6 – What if I have been lifting for years but haven’t seen results in months?

The simple answer: periodization. Many clients and trainers make the mistake of performing the same amount of reps with the same amount of weight for weeks and weeks. If your clients perform 3 sets of 12 in every exercise each and every week, then this would be considered a non-periodized program. Research has shown that periodized programs can elicit greater strength gains then non-periodized programs (Kell, 2011). Periodization is planned variation to a program. A periodized program can consist of changing volume and intensity daily or weekly. Don’t miss this part. This is your golden nugget as a personal trainer. You can take your clients stagnant routine and transform it into a program that gives results.

To incorporate this into your client’s routine, first decide if you are going to use linear or non-linear periodization. Linear means that you will gradually decrease training volume and increase intensity over a period of 4-5 weeks, while nonlinear means you will change volume and intensity each week (Prestes, 2009). The table below is a simple example of various programs to help guide your exercise programming with female clients.

Program Non-Periodized Linear Periodized Nonlinear Periodized
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
3×12  M/W/F
3×12  M/W/F
3×12  M/W/F
3×12  M/W/F
3×12  M/W/F
3×10  M/W/F
3×8    M/W/F
3×6    M/W/F
3×12 M – 3×8 W – 3×10 F
3×8   M – 3×6 W – 3×10 F
3×12 M – 3×8 W – 3×10 F
3×8    M – 3×6 W – 3×10 F

Question #7 – Don’t the elliptical and treadmill make me stronger?

To fitness professionals, this question sounds ridiculous, but you would be surprised how often it is asked. It’s amazing how many females chose to tediously watch the calorie counter on the elliptical until it clicks to 1,000 calories.

First of all, do you really think you are burning 1,000 calories in less than an hour? Second, do you really think it is increasing strength? And on a side note, there have to be more enjoyable ways to exercise!

There are cardiovascular benefits to these types of exercises, but research has shown that similar gains can be achieved more quickly through high intensity interval training (HIIT), sometimes called Tabata training (Tanisho, 2011). Essentially, HIIT consists of short intervals of all-out effort, followed by short recovery times. The cool part is the workouts are very short, but very effective. Even better, these shorter workouts could have more cardiovascular benefits then long, slow aerobic exercise (Schoenfeld, 2009).

Tell your clients to forget about the “fat burning zone” because research shows that more calories are burned with HIIT then traditional aerobic exercise. It is true that more fat is burned during traditional aerobic exercise, but studies indicate greater overall fat reduction with HIIT programs (Tremblay, 2004).

Question #8 – What about taking group weight training classes, such as Bodypump?

A group weight training class typically lasts 50-60 minutes and separates muscle groups by tracks lasting approximately 5-6 minutes (Stanforth, 2001). Each track incorporates around 100 repetitions for each muscle group. From strength training literature, it is evident that untrained individuals will see strength and cardiovascular improvements following almost any type of exercise. However, most of these improvements occur in the first 4 weeks and then this is where the dreaded plateau makes its appearance. As discussed before, much of the benefits of strength training come from intensity, periodization, and adequate amount of resistance. None of these factors are seen in a typical group training class. However, participants in this type of class will still expend calories, learn basic weight training form, and could be motivated to stay more active. A group weight training class can be used in conjunction with typical strength training, but it should not replace it.

Question #9 – Why should I want to get stronger?

Building muscle takes work. Work takes energy. And what is energy? Calories. In order to build muscle, our bodies must go through a complex process of sending in hormones, regulating satellite cells, assembling amino acids, and finally synthesizing proteins.

And how about sheer confidence gain? Carry a 100 lb. bag of sand half a mile, do 50 push-ups, and sprint back, then see what happens to your confidence level.

Question #10 – What kind of strength training exercises should I do?

The literature on female strength training programming can be misleading, even for fitness professionals. The limited studies with women use training protocols with exercises such as leg extensions, hamstring curls, and hip extensions. These are not optimal exercises. The typical weight loss client needs to get the most “bang for their buck.” That means full body, compound exercises.

If you are a personal trainer, then this is good news for you because any average Jane can sneak into the gym and do a few bicep curls, tricep extensions, and leg extensions. But very few female clients have the confidence to walk into a weight room full of musclebound, grunting men and claim the squat rack. That’s where you, the personal trainer, come into the picture. If you have an arsenal of full body, calorie-scorching exercises, then you will be the most sought-after trainer in the gym.

Structuring a lifting workout for women is fairly simple. Emphasize the compound lifts, and add in the accessory lifts if there is time.

For example, below are some of your bigger, more important lifts:

  • Single arm snatch
  • Lunges
  • Renegade rows
  • Sumo squats
  • Push-ups
  • Squat and press
  • Rows
  • Romanian Deadlifts
  • Pull-ups
Renegade Row Side Lunge
Deadlift Liberty Lunge Front Squat

These are your extras (if you have time):

  • Bicep curls
  • Tricep extensions
  • Lat pulldowns
  • Lateral raises

References

Abe, T, Dehoyos, DV, Pollock, ML, and Garzarella, L. (2000). Time course for strength and muscle thickness changes following upper and lower body resistance training in men and women. European Journal of Applied Physiology 81:174–180.

Haff, G., Jackson, J., Kawamori, N., Carlock, J., Hartman, M., Kilgore, J., Morris, R., Ramsey, M., Sands, W., Stone, M. (2008). Force-time curve characteristics and hormonal alterations during an eleven-week training period in elite women weightlifters. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 22(2): 433-446.

Haff, G. (2006). Roundtable discussion: flexibility training. Strength and Conditioning Journal 28(2): 64-85.

Kell, R. (2011). The influence of periodized resistance training on strength changes in men and women. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 25(3): 735–744.

Kistler, B., Walsh, M., Horn, T., and Cox, R. (2010). The acute effects of static stretching on the sprint performance of collegiate men in the 60- and 100-M dash after a dynamic warm-up. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 24(9): 2280-2284.

Linnamo, V., Pakarinen, A., Komi, P., Kraemer, W., and Kiknen, K. (2005). Acute hormonal responses to submaximal and maximal heavy resistance and explosive exercises in men and women. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 19(3): 566-571.

Morton, S., Whitehead, J., Brinkert, R., and Cane, D. (2011). Resistance training vs. static stretching: effects on flexibility and strength. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 25(X): 1-8.

Tanisho, K., and Hirakawa, K. (2009). Training effects on endurance capacity in maximal intermittent exercise: comparison between continuous and interval training. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 23(8): 2405–2410.

Tremblay, A., Simoneau J., and Bouchard, O. (1994). Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism. Metabolism 43: 814–818.

Schoenfeld, B. and Dawes, J. (2009). High-intensity interval training: applications for general fitness training. Strength and Conditioning Journal 31(6): 1-3.

Schoenfeld, B. (2010). The mechanism of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 24(10): 2857-2872.

Schlumberger, A., Stec, J., Schmidtbleicher, D. (2001). Single- vs. multiple-set strength training women. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 15(3): 284-289.

Scott, C., Leighton, B., Ahearn, K., and McManus, J. (2011). Aerobic, anaerobic and excess post exercise oxygen consumption energy expenditure of muscular endurance and strength: 1-set of bench press to muscular fatigue. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 25(4): 903–908.

Tsourli, T., Gerodimos, V., Kellis, E., Stavropoulos, M., Kellis, S. (2003). The effects of a calisthenics and a light strength training program on lower limb muscle strength and body composition in mature women. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 17(3): 590-598.