Category Archives: physique training

What Are Your Scales Telling You Really?

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By STEVEN MILNER IIST

I’m not advocating that you should throw out your scales but you should be aware that your scales don’t tell you what you need to know most and that is “what are your body fat percentages and distribution?” It’s not just our health we seek to improve when we aim to lose weight, let’s be honest we want to look as good as we feel. In fact the two go hand in hand, often times the better you look the better you feel. By far the best way to look fitter and be healthier is to shift the focus of your efforts from losing weight to gaining muscle and lowering your overall body fat percentage.

Measuring your body fat percentage is a great way to keep track of your progress. It’s a far more accurate indicator of your fitness level than weight alone. That’s because when you’re working out regularly, your muscle mass goes up and your fat goes down, sometimes it’s an even swap and the readout on your standard scales won’t necessarily reflect that change. Knowing your body fat levels gives you a better indicator of how well your program is working. A healthy range for women is 20 to 25 percent, but for a leaner more defined look aim for around 18 to 22 percent and for men 18 to 24 percent with an athletic look coming in at around 14 to 17 percent. N.B. everyone is different and different bodies will have different appearances even if the percentage body fat is the same, this can be attributed to bodyfat distribution. If you have reached 18% body fat or lower now is the time to switch your focus to building muscle. At this point it isn’t necessary to concentrate your efforts on losing much more bodyfat indeed it can start to become unhealthy. You need a minimum amount of fat on your body in order to perform optimally and not have symptoms such as Amenorrhea, bone loss, and low energy.

Types of Measurements
There are a number of ways to get your body fat percentage measured. Some of the more common include; hydrostatic weighing, bio-impedance scales, and skin fold callipers.

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Hydrostatic weighing
Hydrostatic weighing is the most accurate way to gauge body fat percentage. Unfortunately, it’s not the most practical—it involves being dunked under water in a gigantic water tank, while exhaling entirely.

Skin fold calliper
Skin fold callipers can also be accurate, but there’s a catch—you have to be measured by the same skilled person like myself, every time. This eliminates measuring differences from person to person. If you are working with a trainer who has been trained to use skin fold callipers, they should measure you once a month with callipers to get the most accurate assessments.

If you don’t have a trainer to help you out, however, your best bet is to use a bio-impedance scale. To get the most accurate measurement on a scale, always do it at the same time of day and make sure you are hydrated properly. The most common issues that will throw the scale off are varying levels of hydration, ladies if it’s that time of the month (don’t measure yourself during menstruation), or if you have food in your stomach.

Clothing indicators
Finally, my favourite tool: A pair of jeans. They don’t lie. Use a pair of jeans that you can’t button and try them on every 3-4 weeks to see if you are making progress. Whether the scale is budging or not doesn’t matter if your jeans are buttoning.

Muscular Male Torso Isolated on White

Ways to Lower Your Body Fat
There are two ways to lower your body fat: Lose fat (obviously), and build muscle. Extra muscle will rev up your metabolism to help burn off some of the fat. Plus, it’ll make you look leaner overall.

The best way to decrease your body fat percentage is to use a full body strength training program two to three times a week, using heavier weights with lower reps. This will stimulate your body to build lean body mass while burning fat. For the best fat-torching results, add in one to two days of interval-training cardio on top of your lifting routine.

And, of course, you cannot train with a bad diet so you’ll need to dial in your food by fueling your body highly nutritious protein, fruits, and veggies throughout the day.

Check out some of my other articles on diet and training or for more intense training tips visit my sibling site manicworkouts.com

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Six Fat Loss Training Mistakes

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Edited by Steven Milner IIST

It may not be ingrained in our male DNA, but when most of us start lifting weights for the first time, it sure seemed like all of our workouts (no matter what the goal) were genetically predestined to be bench press, biceps curl, and triceps pushdown marathons 4-5 times per week and not much else. I know that my own workouts sure looked like this when I first started weight training. I still visit a typical commercial gym and each time I do, I feel like I have time warped back to the 80s as I see lots of guys doing the same stuff everyone did over 20+ years ago. For whatever reason, not much has changed and it’s not their fault, they just don’t know any better. So what’s a bloke to do? I am going to show you how to do better based on several things that we have learned over the years. First, let’s be honest blokes, you could probably stand to lose some “lb’s” of body fat. A lot of guys, myself most definitely included, tend to find ourselves in a perpetual “bulking” or mass-gaining mode.

Why is this?

Interestingly, for a lot of us blokes, the mirror often lies and you will see a much leaner person staring back at you. If you were to take an honest self-evaluation such as a body composition test or take some simple photos with only your trunks on, you may be very surprised and/or shocked with the results. It can be a real eye-opener when you learn that you are more than likely not nearly as lean as you think you are. In other words, that 14 odd % body fat that you think you are sitting at is probably much closer to 22%. If you have taken this evaluation and you have decided that it is time for you to get leaner, it is also high time that you overhaul your weight training program to make it more suited to the task at hand. I have written training programs for more than a few men who have come from the same place that you and I have come from. These guys are now typically middle aged and looking to shed some fat, stay strong, and still feel a bit athletic while holding on to their inner “bloke.” I am going to share with you what I feel are some of the biggest mistakes that I see most guys make when left to their own devices as it pertains to their weight training programs when seeking fat loss. Fixing these mistakes immediately will fast track your progress and get you to your fat loss goals. I am then going to share a snapshot of a training program that we have used with great success for blokes just like us.

1.  Blokes Organize Their Training Like a “Bodybuilder.”

I certainly mean no disrespect to the competitive bodybuilding community by the above statement, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with bodybuilding as a competitive pursuit. There is certainly a lot to learn from bodybuilders. In fact, most blokes get our first exposure to weight training through bodybuilders via muscle magazines and the Internet. The problem is that most guys think that following the routines of competitive bodybuilders is the best way for the average person to train for fat loss without really giving it enough thought. They will typically organize their training sessions in terms of the body parts or muscles trained. This is actually not very logical and not as productive as it could be since in reality your body works as an integrated unit and not as individual parts or muscles. By the way, have you ever wondered how it was decided that certain muscles get their own day while others don’t? It makes no real sense to base how we allocate our exercises to our training days by simply considering muscle groups as the main organizing factor. It makes much more sense to base the allocation in regards to what the body does as it relates to basic human movements. If you think more in terms of training basic movements and the body as a whole (the way it actually works), you will actually train muscles as a by-product and get the results you desire.

“When we just train muscles, we forget movements, when we train movements, we never forget muscles.” Nick Winkleman

The other big problem with this approach is that time is a major limiting factor for most typical blokes. We all have extremely busy lives with jobs and families. Do you really have the time to dedicate to training that a professional bodybuilder (whose job is usually his training) would have? I don’t think so. Real life experience shows that full body weight training routines done three times a week based on a split of basic human movements will work far better for most blokes, most of the time, in terms of fat loss training. This allows you to train with a higher frequency (you will actually hit muscle groups more often than typical body part split routines) and get better results. Instead of classifying exercises by muscle group or body part, try to classify them simply based on what they are – basic movements, then we allocate these movements to training days. Squat, Hinge, Push, Pull, Single Leg Stance, Lunge, Core.

2.  Blokes Think More is Better.

More than likely, because of the heavy mainstream bodybuilding influence on general training that we mentioned above, most blokes usually think they must train on that good old 5-6 times per week body part split routine with extremely high volume to get any results. They also often think they must use multiple exercises for each body part with tons of sets. You must realize that you make gains while you are recovering from training, not during the actual training itself. There is also no need for exercises that are redundant. Think about it, what the heck is the leg extension going to do for you that the squat doesn’t? The key is to focus on quality and not so much on quantity. As fitness expert Paul Chek has stated, “exercise is like a drug.” With the correct dose and the correct drug, you will get the desired response and it all works. If you overdose or take the wrong drug, you can do more harm than good and not get the desired response. One of the reasons why a three times per week full body routine works so well is that you get a high frequency of training without over doing it in terms of volume.

3.  Blokes Do Too Many Single Joint Exercises.

Is it a crime to do biceps curls or triceps pushdowns? No, but when the volume/number of these types of exercises dominate your program, you will greatly diminish the effectiveness of your workouts, particularly when it comes to fat loss. If you focus your training on heavy, multi-joint (compound) exercises such as squats, deadlifts, various presses, push ups, rows, chins/pull-ups, etc., you will train much greater amounts of muscle overall, and this will lead to more calories burned during and after your workouts. As a general rule, the more muscle involved in an exercise the better. But what if a bloke’s goal is to also get bigger guns? Realize that spending the majority of your time and effort on getting stronger on chin-ups/pull-ups, various rows, and various types of presses will get your arms bigger faster than anything else. If you are unable to only do a single unassisted chin-up, what do you think will do more for your bicep size, those 25-30lb curls or focusing all your time and energy on working on that chin-up and getting to the point where you are doing multiple reps with an extra 25-50lbs hooked up around your waist?

4.  Blokes Neglect Lower Body Training.

Squats aren’t simply a leg exercise and deadlifts aren’t simply a back exercise. They are full body exercises that involve just about every muscle in the entire body.  If you have a 315lb. bar on your shoulders or upper back and you are getting ready to bang out a set of squats for 8 reps, realize that not just your legs are involved in the exercise. Your shoulders, upper back, core, etc., are all very heavily involved. They need to be big enough and strong enough to support and move that load. A lot of blokes think, “I get enough “leg” work from running and playing football/rugby, so I don’t need to do squats, deadlifts, lunges, step ups, etc.” Sorry, but that’s just not the same thing! Understand that approximately 70% of your muscle mass is in your back, hips and legs. If you omit these exercises, you are severely limiting your results. Dare to be different and dare to get better results.  At some gyms you will see “informed” trainers doing deadlifts, squats, lunges, and various single leg exercises, thereby training “legs.” It is part of their culture and one of the reasons that they get the results that they do.

5. Blokes Rest Way Too Long Between Sets.

You know the scene at the local gym – guys taking 5-10 minutes between sets of the same exercise chatting with their mates while discussing any number of topics and paying no attention to time. This is not very effective at all if your goal is fat loss! Research and practical experience has shown us that shorter rest periods lead to maximal metabolic disturbance possibly due to the hormonal influence that is set off by these shorter rest periods. It also allows us to increase overall caloric burn and total work performed in the time allotted for the training session. The key is being able to combine shorter rests without compromising the use of heavier loads in our compound exercises. How do we do this? Quite simply, we pair non-competing exercises with short rests (30-60 seconds) between them. As an example we might use the following pairing in a program:
1A: Push Ups             2-3 sets                      12 reps                       60 sec. rest
1B: Reverse Lunges  2-3 sets                      12 reps each              60 sec. rest This allows us to increase the actual amount of work density done in a specified time period, as opposed to doing each exercise one at a time with longer rests, which leads again to better fat loss results.

6.  Blokes Think, “The Bench Press is More Than Just an Exercise, it is a Way of Life!”

I don’t think that there is any doubt that the bench press is the most overused exercise of all time. But, let me state this up front, there is nothing wrong with the bench press! I love the bench press (as most blokes do). The problem is when the bench press becomes your entire workout each time, rather than simply a part of your training program. In other words, most blokes simply bench press way too often and with way too much volume. This creates massive imbalances about the shoulder girdle. You need to strive for some sort of balance in the amount of pushing and pulling movements that you perform. Since most guys have been doing way more pushing for such a long time, it is a wise plan to purposely imbalance your training in the other direction in performing more pulls than pushes. You need to include lots of inverted rows, face pulls, dumbbell rows, and cable rows. Remember the fact that 70% of muscle mass is in the back and legs? This will do your shoulders a lot of good and help out with the fat loss process all at the same time. By the way, in looking at the push pattern from a fat loss standpoint, the good old-fashioned push up is probably a better choice than the bench press actually, as it involves a greater amount of muscle mass and integrates the core to a greater extent at the same time.

 

Edited for a UK audience from an original article by Craig Rasmussen “Fat Loss for Dudes”

HOW DO OUR ARMS GROW?

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article reviewed and edited by STEVEN MILNER IIST

Most people tend to look at their arms as an indicator of the amount of muscle they are gaining, muscle growth in the arms is typically the same as elsewhere in the body except that the arms are known as our show muscles, so how do they grow? This article is a bit technical but I have deliberately avoided throwing numbers and study citations at you because they don’t really help you in the real world of physical results. Sometimes it’s helpful to know which atoms and molecules are broken off, replaced or reordered but that’s the science behind it all and I’m more concerned with the practise of self improvement.

Muscle growth typically occurs at the structural and chemical levels. Further, strength increases are highly related to changes in muscle fibre size. Increase in muscle size is typically referred to as hypertrophy. The National Strength and Conditioning Association (USA) reports that hypertrophy in the arms can be observed after about 16 workout sessions.
HYPERTROPHY
The NSCA purports that increases in muscle size, or hypertrophy, result from an increase in the cross-sectional area of muscle fibres after resistance training in the arms. Resistance training induces increased synthesis of the proteins, actin and myosin. Additional proteins accumulate on the perimeter of each fibre, which increases its diameter. Further, the number of myofibrils within the muscle has been shown to increase, thus adding to increases in muscle size.

FIBRE SIZE
Two types of muscle fibres exist. Type I fibres are associated with longer-duration activities such as cycling, while type II fibres are engaged during short-duration, explosive activities such as power lifting. Both muscle fibre types are stimulated during resistance training in the arms, although type II fibres are engaged to a greater degree. Therefore, type II muscle fibres tend to increase cross-sectional area to a greater extent than type I fibres.

FIBRE CONVERSION
Muscle fibre types have been shown to change as a result of training, according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Resistance training results in muscle fibres taking on type II characteristics. Type II fibres are more prone to size increases, and fibre-type conversion may contribute to overall muscle growth in the arms after exercise.

STRUCTURAL CHANGES
Resistance training in the arms increases density and volume of many of the structures that form a muscle fibre, such as the myofibrils, sarcoplasmic reticulum and T-tubules. These changes also contribute to muscle fibre growth and thus increases in muscle cross-sectional area.

OTHER MUSCULAR CHANGES
Resistance training results in cellular changes in the arms as well. Increases in mitochondrial density, capillary density and improved acid-buffering capacity have all been associated with increased muscle size. Wilmore and Costill report that hyperplasia, the splitting of fibres into daughter fibres, may also occur, though research on this topic is equivocal.

A LITTLE REMINDER FOR THE LADIES
In the absence of testosterone production ladies will tone and firm their muscles and NOT grow them to man-size proportions.
DON’T WORRY LADIES YOU WILL BECOME MORE BEAUTIFUL, NOT BUTCH.

ladies arms

FELLERS? GO FOR IT! GROW HUGE…

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Edited from an original article by Graham Ulmer

 

ZUMBA “It’s exercise in disguise.”

ZUMBA “It’s exercise in disguise.”

by STEVEN MILNER IIST VTCT Qualified

I’ve been asked a few times now about Zumba and whether or not it’s a fad and does it work? Last year I reported on predicted trends for health and fitness in 2012 with a post titled “Fun workouts will remain hot in 2012 by the ACSM” Zumba makes it into the top ten at nine and looks set to climb as 2012 goes on.

Top 10 worldwide fitness trends for 2012
1. Educated, certified and experienced fitness professionals
2. Strength training
3. Fitness programs for older adults
4. Exercise and weight loss
5. Children and obesity
6. Personal training
7. Core training
8. Group personal training

“9. Zumba and other dance workouts
ZUMBA! and Other Dance Workouts. ZUMBA! Requires energy and enthusiasm from the instructor and the participants, which combines Latin rhythms with interval-type exercise and resistance training. ZUMBA! and other dance workouts first appeared on the list of potential trends in 2010 and ranked no. 31 of 37 potential trends; in 2011, it was ranked no. 24 of a possible 31 choices. In 2012, it jumped to the top 10. Clearly, the popularity of ZUMBA! is growing with this rapid escalation in popularity. Future surveys will determine if this is a trend or a fad.”
(According to ACSM’s HEALTH & FITNESS JOURNALA | www.acsm-healthfitness.org )

“I think people are waiting to see if we’re a fad, but class numbers keep getting bigger and Zumba is becoming more popular, so now, people realize we’re here to stay,” said Alberto Perlman, CEO and co-founder of Zumba fitness. “Zumba is liberating and magical, and one of the key ways it has expanded is through word of mouth,” Perlman said.

Zumba classes are offered in more than 110,000 gyms in more than 250 countries. So it probably won’t be hard to find a gym that offers these classes. One look in the local classifieds lists loads of venues and classes to suit all levels and pockets. A friend of mine recently posted on facebook how much she had enjoyed a class she’d been to because it was fun and got her more sweaty than “just going to the gym”. She also said that she’d paid £2 and was considering another class at £3.50 but that another was too expensive at £6 per class. Being a fit lets you enjoy life more, getting and staying fit should also be enjoyable and Zumba certainly seems to fit the bill here. Give it a go and let me know what YOU think.

Fun Workouts Like Zumba Will Remain Hot In 2012. ACSM Predictions

Core Training And Fun Workouts Like Zumba Will Remain Hot In 2012

STEVEN MILNER IIST VTCTedited by STEVEN MILNER IIST VTCT

The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 45,000 international, national and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine. Now in its sixth year, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recently completed a worldwide fitness trend survey of 2,620 ACSM certified professionals from Asia, Australia, Africa, Europe, North and South America. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) also completed a fitness-trend survey of more than 1,500 experts and certified professionals. The two leading fitness organizations in the world seem to have quite similar 2012 worldwide fitness trend predictions.

Educated fitness professionals
ACSM’s number one fitness trend prediction concerns educated, certified and experienced fitness professionals. The fitness industry will continue to give importance to upgrading skills and knowledge of fitness professionals and aside from the recognized certifications and continuing education, more professionals will seek advanced professional education and take related fitness and health courses to answer the demands of the growing health and fitness industry.

Lifestyle coaching and whole-life training
With more qualified and upgraded fitness professionals, there will be a greater focus on whole-life training, as predicted by ACE. Whole-life training or lifestyle coaching will benefit clients who need support managing stress, help following eating plans and exercise management to achieve their goals and get results faster. Many fitness centres will look to offer services such as lifestyle coaching, nutrition advice and a psychological approach to really give a holistic package to their fitness programs. Also, according to ACE, behaviour modification will become something we are more aware of and the ways it can enhance a client’s exercise motivation and adherence. ACSM’s top fitness service trend predictions are still personal training and group personal training. Most people will still get the guidance of a personal trainer to get faster results, and others will join small group personal training sessions (two to four per session) to experience some fun and challenge while exercising, and to lessen the training cost.

Weight loss and strength trainingdumbell curl
More fitness consumers will look for strength training as part of their fitness routine, and health and fitness practitioners will need to integrate this into their programs. However the ACSM predict that people will look for strength training programs more for maintenance, and not for body-building. Improved strength is always related to improved functional performance and weight management, as well.

Weight loss still the main motivation
According to ACE, weight loss will still be the top reason fitness consumers will seek fitness services. ACSM predicted that weight-loss programs incorporating exercise will still be one of the most in-demand tools to answer the needs of the growing overweight and obese population, especially this 2012. Fitness professionals will incorporate calorie management in their programs by expanding their focus to proper eating and exercise for weight loss.

Growing target markets: the elderly and the young
According to ACE and ACSM, elderly and the youth will still be the growing fitness target markets of fitness professionals in 2012. The fitness program focus for children will still be on obesity prevention and management, and for the retirees, it will be more on functional training, helping them to perform their daily activities well and safely, and improve their sports like golf without developing injuries.

Hottest fitness workouts for 2012
According to ACE, clients and fitness trainers will focus on functional and integrated exercises emphasizing core muscles and using body weight as resistance (like the use of TRX), some calorie-burning exercises like boot camp and interval training, and fun group workouts like Zumba that combine Latin rhythms with interval-type exercise and resistance training. ACSM also predicted core training (stabilizing muscles of the abs, thorax, and back) using BOSU, foam rollers and wobble boards, Zumba, and functional fitness as the hottest workout trends for 2012.

Corporate wellness
ACE predicted that employers will give more wellness programs to their employees to reduce healthcare costs and improve productivity. They will outsource wellness programs so that health and fitness can be affordable.

Community fitness programs
ACE predicted that fitness programs will emerge from local gyms, parks, and recreational centres to give access to the local community and prevent the growing problem of obesity. There might be more local leaders who will take action in influencing their people to get into an active and healthy lifestyle. Therefore, fitness will be for everyone, since it will be more lifestyle-based, accessible, affordable and even enjoyable.

Fitness technology
ACE predicted that social media and mobile-based apps for fitness will continue to become popular in the coming year, and fitness professionals will have the chance to be in contact with fitness consumers because of the latest technology. Fitness consumers will have more access to nutrition and fitness education, which is significant to maintain one’s motivation.

Edited from an article by Mitch Felipe Mendoza  for Inquirer Lifestyle.
email the author at mitchfelipe@gmail.com.

Does more protein build more muscle?

Does more protein build more muscle?

STEVEN MILNER IIST VTCT

STEVEN MILNER IIST VTCT

Edited by STEVEN MILNER IIST VTCT

From an original article by Mansi Kohli, Health Me Up | Nov 25, 2011

Health experts say that as far as body building is concerned, protein recommendations for strength training are 1.2 to 1.4 for increasing strength and 1.5 to 1.7 for muscle hypertrophy.

Therefore, while extra protein might work for those exercising to optimal levels, it won’t do much for those involved in low to moderate intensity workouts and will lead to weight gain. So does more protein really help build more muscle?

The amount of protein needed to build muscles is often debated, and you will get answers from as low as 0.5g per pound of bodyweight to as high as 3g per pound of bodyweight (and even higher). The fact is that for each person it will be somewhat different depending on their genetics, size, training, stress levels, etc. A good place to start will be to calculate 1 gram per kilo of bodyweight, and add another 30-40g to get a good number to start with. Thereafter with experimentation you can find out what is the best number as per your goals.

Right balance of carbs along with protein intake is very important. A good mix of healthy carbs and healthy fat is crucial to gain muscle, lose fat and to be healthy overall. Without adequate carbs your energy levels will go low and you can say goodbye to high intensity workouts, and also proper brain health. Without healthy fats your hormone levels will never optimize and you will feel terrible overall and have poor skin and hair quality.

An ideal post workout shake ratio would be 2:1 or 3:1 carbs to protein. You can try different ratios to see what works best for you, but don’t let the carbs go below 1:1 to protein.

It is important to remember that a protein intake cycle should never be done for someone trying to lose body fat. For those trying to lose fat, subtle protein cycling will be good enough, no need to do drastic cycling since they will not be on a very high protein diet to begin with. And even then that should be done only if they are cycling their carbs which is not really required until one has come to a more advanced stage of fat loss.

Real-time benefits of protein shakes are exaggerated. The only real benefits that I see are two. First for those who need a lot, i.e. more than 200g of protein a day to build muscle. Such huge amounts of protein will be hard to get by regular food alone as it may add up to a lot of food which will be hard to digest. However to be honest, it is also true that unless one uses steroids it is unlikely that their body’s protein synthesis will be so high that they require more than 200g of protein a day.

Does more protein build more muscle?