Sunday, May 27, 2007

Super 4-minute Interval Workout for Fat Loss

Can you work out just 4 minutes a day to lose fat?

Yes, you can - but not by doing 4 minutes of crunches.
Here is how ...

Tabata is the name of a Japanese researcher who found a "magical" training protocol to increase both anaerobic and aerobic pathways at the same time. It's one of those strange training programs that seems to fit across disciplines, whether you're an athlete looking to improve your performance or just looking to lose fat quickly.

The Tabata training method is so simple, yet so incredibly difficult and effective.

What is it? It's very simple.

How To Do It

Just pick one exercise and perform it in the following manner:

  • For twenty seconds, do as many repetitions as possible.

  • Rest for ten seconds.

  • Repeat seven more times for a total of 8 sets.

  • That's it! You're done in four minutes!

    It's simple and effective. In a way, it's similar to the high intensity interval training (H.I.I.T.) protocol where the work-to-recovery ratio is 20 seconds vs. 10 seconds (2:1) by time with a total of 8 intervals. The work phase is a full-out intensity of any weight training exercise. The recovery phase is a very brief period of resting for just catching your breath.

    You can also compare the Tabata method to strength and cardio circuit training where the time intervals to work and rest are specified with a total of 8 sets.

    To reap the maximum benefits of anaerobic conditioning and fat loss, you should pick an exercise that work a number of (large) muscles.

    The best exercise options for the Tabata method are front squat and thruster. Dumbbell swing or Kettlebell Swing are also very good conditioning exercise.

    Front squat engages your whole body, your core and central nervous system. You typically do front squat with a barbell bell or on a Smith Machine.

    Watch a "front squat" demo video. >>

    Thruster is a combination of front squat and shoulder overhead press in a continous moving fashion. You can do thruster with barbells, dumbbells or kettlebells.
    Dumbbell Thruster >>

    Dumbbell Swing >>

    Why Should You Try Tabata Workout?

    The Tabata method may be the single best fat burning workout. It's only four minutes. But the long 240 seconds seem to keep you sweating and breathing hard for a long, long time afterwards. Your metabolism is fired up! The Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) or after-burn effect in this anaerobic interval training will keep you in a fat burning mode for 24 to 48 hours.

    Fat Loss in 4 Minutes

    So yes, you can lose fat by doing 4 minutes of exercise a day by following the Tabata training method.

    Want more challenges? Do 2 to 4 Tabata exercises in a workout session. The question is whether you'll be able to recover fully to doing another Tabata session on a second day.

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    Tuesday, May 15, 2007

    Superset Circuit Workout Routine

    I have elaborated the superset weight training system. Many practical effective superset workouts are demonstrated.

    Superset training system may help you change up your weight training routine so that you can move beyond your training plateau and continue to make progress.

    If organized and paired up properly, superset workouts can be very effective in building muscle and losing fat fast for a lean body.

    Supersets can also be used as mini-workout sets as part of a larger circuit strength training routine.

    In the following I'll discuss two superset workout routines that you can adapt to your training program.

    Bodyweight Superset Endurance Workout Routine
    Superset Squat and Pushup (bodyweight)

    Set #1, 1 rep squat + 1 rep pushup, rest 1 second
    Set #2, 2 rep squat + 2 rep puhsup, rest 2 seconds
    Set #3, 3 rep squat + 3 rep pushup, rest 3 seconds
    Set #10, 10 rep squat + 10 rep pushup, rest 10 seconds
    (Start to feel sore?).
    Set #15, 15 rep squat + 15 rep pushup, rest 15 seconds
    (All pumped up yet?)
    Set #20, 20 rep squat + 20 rep pushup, rest 20 seconds
    (Still hanging there?).
    Set #25, 25 rep squat + 25 rep pushup, rest 25 seconds
    (Still going?!).

    This superset endurance workout is very simple, but very very challenging!

    On the first set, do one rep of squat followed by one rep of pushup. For the second set, do two reps of squat followed by two reps of pushup. Going to the third set, do three reps of squat followed by three reps of pushup. You got the idea? It's like pyramid type weight training system.

    Just increase one repetition for every subsequent set. You'll probably be able to get through the first 10 sets without much rest between the sets. That's accumulated 55 reps of squat and 55 reps of pushup. Not bad, huh?

    Keep going to 11th set and beyond. Sooner than later, you may start to feel that kind of soreness on your chest and leg muscles. You may also start breathing a bit heavily. You definitely need to take the prescribed rest intervals or even longer between the sets to recover.

    You can count the number of sets and time the whole workout after you can barely do no more than another rep and drop yourself on the floor!

    Total-Body Superset Workout Routine
    Superset #1 Dumbbell Deadlift and Dumbbell Bench Press

    Superset #2 Pullup and Dumbbell Shoulder Press

    Superset #3 Dip and Dumbbell Biceps Curl

    Superset #4 Reverse Crunch and Swiss-ball Crunch

    This total-body superset workout routine works all major muscle groups using both multi-joint compound and single-joint isolation movements. The workout is finished with "core" exercises.

    Depending on the goal of your training program (hypertrophy, strength or endurance), you can vary the number of sets and reps, rest intervals and lifting tempo. This has been detailed in another article on how to change up weight training routine.

    You can use some or all of supersets in your workout routine. Superset workouts can be incorporated in any training cycle as part of your complete periodization training program.

    Each exercise can be replaced with a similar variation. For example, you can try different versions of deadlift such as Romanian deadlift or stiff-legged deadlift. If you cannot do pullups, try lat pull-down on the cable station. "Dip" takes a lot of shoulder girdle strength and stability. Replace the "dip" exercise with triceps kickback or overhead press.

    Remember, the key to effective superset workout is that you arrange each superset or pair of exercises so that you can minimize changing weights or workout space while maximizing workout intensity and time efficiency.

    Another benefit of superset workout is that you exercise in pairs. If you're short in time, you can just pick two of the supersets. If you have more time, you can certainly add more supersets to work more muscle groups or use more isolation exercises.

    >>> Sign up for FREE monthly e-Newsletter to receive insider training tips, workout routines and check out your FREE bonus e-books to help you build muscles, lose fat and uncover your six pack abs.

    Copyright 2007 by C. Carey Yang and Beyond Fitness Solutions, LLC.
    All rights reserved.


    Saturday, May 12, 2007

    How to Superset Your Workout for a Super Fab Body

    Superset for Building Muscle, Losing Fat and a Super Fab Body

    In a previous article, I have introduced "superset" as an effective weight training system. (I didn't invent the "superset" concept or system.)

    Superset is referred to a weight training system or routine that you perform two exercises back to back with no or very little rest. You rest only after you complete the two exercises.

    You can superset the same muscle group, opposing muscle groups or unrelated muscle groups.

    I'm a big fan of doing supersets, tri-sets, giant sets or circuit strength training for many reasons described in my last article.

    Most people are not pro bodybuilders nor capable of doing 5-day split routine. Supersetting is one of the most effective weight training systems or routines to work on more muscles in a shorter weight training session.

    In some cases, supersets could be effective but inefficient to your body. That may not be a bad news!

    Exercise inefficiency causes more stress on your neuro-muscular system. You break down more muscle tissues! With proper nutrition and recovery to repair the damaged tissues, you'll get stronger, build more muscle, and burn more fat.

    Superset workout provide a strong stimulus to the metabolic rate and has a greater fat burning effect.

    Practical Effective Superset Workout

    In the following, I'll provide a few practical effective superset workout routines that you can try in a commercial gym, where "hugging" two stations or machines all for youself at the same time for supersetting workout could be a problem.
    1. Superset barbell squat with dumbbell deadlift. Bring a pair of dumbbells to the squat rack or by the Smith-machine. Do a set of barbell squat followed immediately by doing a set of dumbbell deadlift. Standard back squat works all major leg muscles with a little more emphasis on the quadriceps. Deadlift is a hip-dominated lower body exercise that works all major muscles (except your chest), particularly more directly on your hamstrings and glutes. It also takes a lot of core strength and stability. This superset not only allows you to perform more leg workout, but also provides a more balanced training on your front and back sides of your legs. In addition, you only take up one work station (squat rack or Smith-machine).
    2. Superset lat pull-down with standing dumbbell shoulder press. Again bring a pair of dumbbells to the lat pull-down station. Do a set of lat pull-down followed immediately with standing dumbbell shoulder press. You really only take up the lat pull-down station. The lat pull-down exercise primarily works your back muscles: latissimus dorsi ("lats") and trapezius. It also takes biceps and forearms to pull the bar down. Shoulder press works all three sides of your deltoid muscles (anterior, medial and posterior) to push the weight upward. These two exercises have opposite joint actions (scapular adduction vs. abduction) and opposite directions of movement (vertical pull vs. vertical push). Both muscle groups are most often abused and injured in daily activities or sports. Strengthening these two muscle groups at the same time will help you handle more weights, improve your posture and prevent injuries. You can replace lat pull-down with pull-up or chin-up exercise.
    3. Superset dumbbell bent-over row with dumbbell bench press. You can use the same or two different weights depending on your strength and weakness, training goal and emphasis. Most people do more chest exercises than strengthening their back. You probably heard about people hurting their back all the times. It's rare to hear about someone pull his pec muscle. So do a set of dumbbell bent-over row in front of the bench. Then sit down and lie back on the bench. Do a set of bench press. You'll need a bench and you work on your back and chest muscles in a superset. Bent-over row works the same back muscles as in lat pull-down. Bench press works primarily your chest (pectoral muscles), triceps and front shoulder muscles.
    4. Superset barbell bent-over row with barbell deadlift. Get an Olympic bar, find your spot and load up the weight plates. Do a set of bent-over row for your back followed by a set of deadlift for your hamstrings and glutes, or vice versa. This superset exercise will also challenge your biceps and forearms and strengthen your gripping power.
    5. Superset dumbbell squat with dumbbell shoulder press. Apparently you need to use the weight suitable for shoulder press for both exercises. Clean the dumbbells onto top of your shoulders. Start squatting down while holding the dumbbells. As you start pushing your legs back up close to standup position, press the dumbbells upward. Lower the dumbbells slowly down to the top of your shoulders. Then start squatting down again. It may not seem a lot of load on your legs. Do a few sets. You'll know this superset is really challenging to your whole body, your core and your anaerobic energy system. If you do these exercises in a faster pace, it's called "thruster."
    6. Superset dip with dumbbell biceps curl. Grab a pair of dumbbells to the station with parallel-bar handles. The station could be the captain's chair or Roman chair where you perform abdominal training. Do a set of dips (with bodyweight or with additional external weight) to work on your chest and triceps. Then immediately do a set of dumbbell curls to work on your biceps.
    These supersetting training systems may not be on your training book. You've probably never thought about doing your weight training like these before.

    You only rest after you complete the two exercises together. You perform higher training volume (or work capacity) in a shorter period of time. That's true intensity!

    You may also need to lower the weights compared to what you would do with straight-set training system for the respective exercise.

    Give it a try. Incorporate supersets into your workout routine and your whole periodization program.

    There are just so many different ways of changing up your weight training routine and move beyond your training plateau!

    In my next article, I'll give you a few superset workout routines based on bodyweight circuit and total-body training.

    Copyright 2007 by C. Carey Yang.
    All rights reserved.
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    Thursday, May 10, 2007

    Superset for a Super Workout

    All About Workout Effectiveness

    I'm an advocate of total-body training. I'm also a big fan of doing supersets, tri-sets, giant sets or circuit strength training in a weight training routine for many reasons.

    The truth is that most 9-to-5 working people simply cannot go to gym for weight training 5 days a week consistently without getting burnout.

    The main reason is not just about time. It's also about workout intensity and recovery. Program compliance and adherence is most important in a successful exercise program.

    Is 5 better than 3?

    Maybe. But if you can perform three weight training sessions a week effectively with truly high intensity and achieve good results, why go for two extra sessions? In fact, if you don't work out at high intensity and don't recover well enough, the two extra sessions will not help you gain strength and grow muscles. On the contrary, it may negatively sabotage your progress.

    Truth be told, many people overestimate their workout intensity. There is a huge difference between pumping 100 reps of bicep curls with 10-lb dumbbells and 20 reps of chest press with 50-lb dumbbells. Got that?

    What Is Superset?

    Superset is referred to a weight training system or routine that you perform two exercises back to back with no or very little rest. If you do three exercises in a row, it's called a "tri-set."

    A "giant set" involves doing four consecutive exercises with no rest. Circuit training is typically involved more than 5 exercises in a circuit fashion.

    You can normally perform the first exercise with higher quality or heavier weight because you're fresh from the rest. As you move on to do the second exercise, your central nervous system (CNS) starts to lose some focus and your ATP energy system cannot fire up as quick. So you may not be able to do the second exercise as good or as heavy as if you would do it by itself in a straight-set system.

    So be aware of supersetting the exercises with proper sequence, weights and rest periods to meet the goal of your training progam. It's nothing wrong to reverse the order of the two exercises. The training effect could be different.

    It's best to choose the first exercise with multi-joint compound movement or the weaker muscle group that you want to strengthen and put more emphasis on. That's, prioritize training your weaker or less developed muscle group.

    How to Superset

    There are many ways of supersetting your weight training routines.
    1. Superset two exercises to work on the same or related muscle group. For example, the variation # 3 in my article How to Change Up Your Weight Training Routine is one way to work on your chest with two different exercises (chest press and flye) with different movements and emphasis. Another example is do your squats followed by lunges or deadlift to work on your legs. You can do lat pull-down (for your lat and upper back muscles) followed by seated row (for your mid and lower back muscles).
    2. Superset two exercises to work on opposing muscle groups or opposing joint actions. For example, you can superset bench press (for your chest) with bent-over rows (for your back). In an another example, you can superset dumbbell curl (for your biceps) with dumbbell kickback (for your triceps). In addition, you can superset leg extension (for your quadriceps) with leg curl (for your hamstrings). Supersetting lat pull-down (for your lat and upper back) with shoulder press is opposing joint actions since your lat/back and shoulder are not really opposing muscle groups anatomically.
    3. Superset two unrelated muscle groups. This type of supersetting workout is inefficient but most effective, particularly for fat loss. For example, you can perform squat (for your legs) followed by barbell bench press (for your chest). This supersetting method often involves one upper body exercise with one lower body exercise. So when you perform the upper body exercise (bench press), your lower body that was just worked (your legs) can rest and recover. Although you're doing two (unrelated) exercises back to back without rest, you're in fact still resting the other muscle group. Overall, you save rest periods and do more work in a shorter time. That's, your training volume is higher in short period of time with little recovery between sets. Your workout "intensity" is truly high.
    Exercise inefficiency causes more stress on your neuro-muscular system. You break down more muscle tissues! Superset routine has a greater fat burning effect by revving up your your metabolic rate.

    With proper nutrition and recovery to repair the damaged tissues, you'll get stronger, build more muscle, and burn more fat.

    Sounds Good, But ...

    The supersetting idea sounds good and simple. But in reality, it's not easy to excute effectively. It's practically difficult to get an effective and efficient superset workout in a commercial gym, particularly during high-traffic hours. You have to learn how to organize an effective workout.

    If you're supersetting squat with bench press, you'll take up two work stations just for yourself. It's probably not desirable, particularly during high-traffic gym hours. You may need to move back and forth between two stations, sometimes across the room. By the time you're done with squat and walk over to bench press station, there may be other people waiting there to use the bench and or actually using the bench.

    In some cases, you may need different pairs of weights for different muscle groups. You'll end up shuffling dumbbells around on the rack, all over the floor or moving the bench here and there, which again may be scoffed by other gym members.

    So the key is to find an area or weight station that you can use throughout a superset. Also plan the supersets properly so as to minimize weight changes for efficiency. You may read some superset routines in fitness magazines. Most look good on paper but most are just not practical at all for the above reasons.

    I'll cover a few practical superset routines to help you organize a super effective workout in my next article.

    Copyright 2007 by C. Carey Yang and Beyond Fitness Solutions, LLC. All right reserved.

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    Friday, May 04, 2007

    How to Burn off the Fat Cells

    Unfortunately, you don't really "burn" or "lose" the fat cells.

    But you can "shrink" the fat cells!

    The bad news is that fat cells can increase both in size (hypertrophy) and in number (hyperplasia). But you as a human being can only increase muscle (fiber) size, but not number. That's a disadvantage!

    When you “lose” body fat, the fat cells don't go anywhere. The fat cells stays right where they were before, under the skin and on top of the your muscles. In fact you just "empty out" or "shrink" the fat cells.

    Fat is stored inside the fat cells. The fat is not burned right there in the fat cells, it must be liberated from the fat cells through somewhat complex hormonal and biochemical pathways. Fat cell releases its contents (triaglycerol) into the bloodstream as free fatty acids. They are then transported through the blood to the tissues where the energy is needed.

    How Many Fat Cells Do You Have?

    An infant usually has about 5 to 6 billion fat cells. This number increases during early childhood and puberty, and a healthy adult with normal body composition has about 25 to 30 billion fat cells.

    Now here's the ugly part. A typical overweight adult has around 75 billion fat cells. In the case of severe obesity, this number can be as high as 250 to 300 billion!

    The average size (weight) of an adult fat cell is about 0.6 micrograms, ranging from 0.2 micograms to 0.9 micrograms. An overweight person’s fat cells can be up to three times larger than a person with ideal body composition.

    Sounds depressing!?

    What Can You Do to "Shrink" the Fat Cells for Good?

    Learn the following take-home fat lessons from fat loss expert Tom Venuto:
    1. Calories count! The signal that triggers your body to release adipose from fat cells is an energy deficit… you have to burn more than you eat.

    2. Cut calories conservatively. Starving yourself may cause quick weightloss at first, but never works long term because it actually decreases the activity of fat burning enzymes that release fat from the cells. to avoid this “starvation mode” use exercise to BURN THE FAT, not very low calorie crash diets.

    3. Get control of your weight now. If you are gaining weight, and especially if your weight is climbing upwards out of control, make a decision to STOP RIGHT NOW. Your fat cells might be multiplying, making it more difficult to get lean in the future. NOW is the time!

    4. If you’ve already lost weight, you must be forever diligent. Your fat cells are not gone, they have merely “shrunk” or “emptied out.” Fitness is not a 12 week program, its a lifestyle. To stay lean you have to eat clean and stay active.

    5. Genetics are only a minor factor. You may not have control over how many fat cells you were born with, but you do control the major factors that determine how much fat you store: lifestyle, exercise, nutrition, mental attitude.

    Tuesday, May 01, 2007

    Can You Eat More and Still Lose Fat?

    The simple quick answer is "Yes."

    Don't get too excited yet!

    You'll need to expend more energy than from your food intake so that there is a calorie deficit. It's all about energy balance.

    How to expend more energy and burn more calories?

    You know the answers --- just by increasing activities through high intensity weight training, cardio exercises and all sorts of activities, leisure activites, playing sports, etc.

    But most people stay away from putting in hard work and commitment. Health and fitness is not some 12-week program, although it's a good start. It's all about long-term healthy lifestyle transformation.

    The get-lean-and-lose-fat strategy couldn't be simpler than by exercising more so that you can eat more while increasing metabolism, building lean muscle mass and losing body fat.

    In a recent interview, fat loss expert Tom Venuto and nutrition guru Dr. John Berardi have a long discussion about calorie and energy balance.

    Read the interview Part 1 here. >>

    Read the interview Part 2 here. >>

    Read the interview Part 3 here. >>

    Two of the top fitness experts shed the light as to how to create healthy optimal calorie deficit by increasing energy G-flux.

    The best part ... you get to eat more!

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