Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Triple Power, Strength & Endurance Circuit Training

Circuit training is one of the most versatile weight training systems. I have elaborated this popular fitness training method in my earlier article. Many effective and efficient circuit training routines are provided.

You can essentially design a circuit training routine with all sorts of exercise combinations: total-body, upper body, lower body, core, muscle-specific, opposing muscle groups, superset, etc.

For the beginners, start with bodyweight circuit workout. As you get better conditioned, progress to add external resistance or weight as a tool. You can use resistance band, strength machines, dumbells, barbells, kettlebells, sandbags, etc.

I've designed the following triple circuit training routine that incorporate power, strength, quickness in a "timed" endurance total-body workout.

It's an excellent physical and "mental" conditioning workout, particularly for athletes/fighters who are engaged in both explosive movements and endurance conditioning such as mixed martial arts (MMA) and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). Believe me when I double-quote the "mental" word. After a few reps or into the second or third exercise/set, you'll start to break sweat and breathe hard. You'll know or perhaps don't know how to tough out the circuit. You gotta be physcially and mentally strong to get through the workout.

Remember the Spartan 300 warrior training. These actors didn't go through the typical bodybuilding-type weight training. They did a similar strength and cardio circuit training routine that combine power, strength, quickness and endurance in a series of exercises.

If you have tried my earlier power circuit training routine based on modified Olympic Weightlifting, this triple circuit training is a perfect complimentary workout.

Triple Attack Circuit:A. Jumping Pullup x 1 minute or 12-20 reps
B. Dumbbell Thruster x 1 minute or 12-15 reps
C. Burpee x 1 minute or 12-15 reps

Do all three exercises back to back with no rest. Rest only after you finish the burpees for 90 seconds to two minutes. Then repeat for a total of 3 to 5 circuit sets. I also include the suggested repetitions for each exercise. That's the approximate number of reps you should try to achieve depending on your fitness level.

How to set up
Bring a pair of dumbbells for your normal do 10-rep set for your shoulder presses by the pullup bar area. Reduce the weight by 20 to 30 percent because you won't be able to press as heavy in this workout.

Jumping Pullup
I know it's tough to do pullups for the whole minute or 12 reps for most people. The trick here is do just one pullup at a time, i.e., one-rep set.

So jump half-way up to grab to pullup bar, then finish the pullup by completely pulling youself upward and squeezing your lat muscles hard at the top position. Lower your body and down.
Repeat for one minute for as many as you can do.

Dumbbell Thruster
As soon as you finish the pullup in one minute, pick up the pair of dumbbells and start the thruster exercise.

Thruster is a combination of front squat and shoulder push/press in a smooth continuous action. It's the best total-body and core strength conditioning workout. You can do thruster with barbells, dumbbells or kettlebells.

Watch a demo video for "dumbbell thruster" >>

When you finish the unbelievably gruelling dumbbell thruster and cannot quite catch your breath, leave the dumbbells aside and get down onto the floor in pushup position.

Quickly hop and pull legs in toward your body to the knee-down position. Jump explosively upward with both feet (squat jump) and land back onto the floor. Knee down or squat down as you put your hands down on the floor in front of you. Then quickly kick your legs straight back and land on the floor to a plank/pushup position. That's one rep.

Watch a demo video for "burpees" >>

Do as many and as fast as you can for one minute. This is a bodyweight killer exercise that strengthen your whole body and core. There are other variations for different levels of difficulty. You can do "tuck jump" with your knees drawn in towards your body when you jump upward. In the double-leg kickback to plank/pushup position, you can do it like "sprawl" in grappling, submission or MMA to counter a take-down.

As always, start the training program slowly when you deal with new exercises. Record the repetitions and weight in each training session. Adjust your rest intervals to complete the circuit. Add the level of difficulty or intensity gradually.

That's a three-minute round. Do as many rounds as you can. There's no shortcut to success in the ring - only hardcore workout and top conditioning to be the best MMA fighter.

Enjoy the sweat!

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

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Run Better with Pain-Free Knees and Heels

Running is one of the most popular exercises for improving your heart health, cardiovasular fitness, burning calories, losing weight and relieving stress. Its popularity also implies that you could suffer from overuse injuries.

If you're an avid runner, you've probably trained and competed in distance running (full or half marathons) or triathlon events. You could easily log in 20 to 50 miles a week on the treadmill or on the road. That's a lot of pounding, pouncing and stresses on your legs and joints.

If you've done H.I.I.T. (high intensity inteval training) type running routine, you know the demand and you can feel the soreness on your leg muscles. Sooner than later, you'll be caught up with joint pains if you do H.I.I.T. too much too often. That's why it's recommend not to do more than three H.I.I.T. cardio sessions a week and no longer than 30 minutes each time.

Recovery is an important yet often neglected part of any training program. Many runners know how to push themselves to run harder, longer and faster. If your recovery is not sufficient, you'll break down than build up. You're prone to injuries.

As a result, many running-related injuries have occured on the knees, shins, ankles and heels. The two most common injuries are "runner's knee" and plantar fasciitis.

There are many ways of preventing and rehabiliating the injuries. Running shouldn't be a pain if you run with correct body mechanics and proper training plan.

Runner's Knee
It's called "chondromalacia" technically. It's a condition where the articular cartilage underneath the kneecap (patella) starts to soften and break down. You feel pain under or around your kneecap that worsens when walking downstairs, running hills, squatting or jumping.

Overuse is the major cause of runner's knee. Other causes are being overweight, poor running or foot mechanics, overdoing activities that involve a lot of running, jumping or change of direction.

How to fix & rehab
  1. R.I.C.E. Ice your knees for 10 to 15 minutes after running to relieve the pain.
  2. Warm up and stretch properly before running or any sports, especially quadriceps and hamstrings.
  3. Cut your milesage. Avoid running downhill until the pain subsides.
  4. Run on softer surfaces such as treadmill, dirt trail, grass or soft track.
  5. Cross train with different activities or sports. Replace a few runs with lower impact activities such as walking or using an elliptical trainer.
  6. Pick a pair of suitable running shoes that keep your knees stable, provide adequate cushioning and support. Replace for every 500 miles.
  7. Strengthen the muscles around your knees. Quad sets (quadriceps isometic exercises), short-arc extensions, straight-leg raises are a few helpful exercises. Slowly progress to full-arc extensions, knee extension machine and closed kinetic chain exercises such as leg presses, squats and lunges.
  8. Stretch your calf muscles, quadriceps, hamstrings, iliotibial band, hip adductors (inner thigh), hip abductors (outer thigh), hip flexors and glutes.
  9. Perform balance and stabilizing exercises that challenge your "proprioception", your body's ability to know where its limbs are at any time.
  10. Always consult with your doctor or physical therapist for your specific conditions. Check for any muscle imbalance, tight muscles or foot mechanics.

Plantar Fasciitis
This is another common injury of foot in runners or any athlete involving intensive use of feet. It referred to an inflammtion of the plantar fascia running along the sole of the foot. Plantar fasciitis is a chronic symptom occurring over time with repetitive overuse stresses on the plantar fascia.

People with high arch, uneven leg length or poor running biomechanics are more prone to this injury.

You feel pain on the bottom of your foot towards your heel. The heel pain is usually the worst when you just get out of bed in the morning or at the beginning of a run. The pain typically subsides after you warm up and stretch.

How to fix & rehab

  1. Rest your affected foot.
  2. Warm up and stretch properly before running or any sports.
  3. Cross train with different activities or sports. Replace running with no or low impact activities such as swimming or cycling until the pain eases.
  4. Massage the bottom (arch and hill) of your foot for five minutes several times a day with a tennis ball, a tin can or a water-filled bottle.
  5. Before getting out of bed in the morning, warm up and massage the bottom of your foot to loosen up the plantar fascia.
  6. During night time sleep, your feet are in plantar flexion position that shortens the plantar fascia. This would aggravate the pain even more due an extended period of inactivity. A night splint may be used in order to hold the ankle joint in a neutral position.
  7. Pick a pair of shoes that provide good arch support.
  8. Stretch your calf muscles and around your feet and ankle.
  9. Perform strengthenging exercises such as hill raises and toe walking.
  10. Always consult with a sports medicine doctor, physical therapist or fitness trainer/specialist for your specific conditions.
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Monday, September 10, 2007

How to Fight Obesity

America is just getting bigger and bigger every year!

A recent report by the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) showed that U.S. obesity rates rose in 31 states in 2006. Twenty-two states showed an increase for the second year in a row. No states showed improvement in reducing obesity rate.

Read the report and view the interactive obesity map. >>

Read the summary and my comments. >>

TFAH recommends a comprehensive approach for helping individuals make healthy choices including support from families, communities, schools, employers, the food and beverage industries, health professionals, and government at all levels.

It seems to be a insurmoutable task and loft goal to fight obesity. We have come a long way. It got to restart somewhere again. We cannot give up our health and our children's health.

Martica Heaner, M.A., M.Ed. offered her solutions in fighting obesity in a four-part series:

Part 1: The Role of Behavior, Biology and Bad Choices
Learn the five categories of fat people, what makes you fat and keeps you fat, and how weight loss works.

Part 2: Psyching Yourself to Act
Learn how to psyche yourself up to to be consistent with your healthy eating and exercise choices and why you need to take care of your body.

Part 3: Why Moving More is Crucial
Learn how to motivate yourself and get your body moving.

Part 4: Eating to Be Healthy and Lean
Learn the five eating rules to live by.

Learn these strategies and implement them in your health and fitness plan. I hope that America will slim down in the coming year.

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Strategies to Excuse-Proof Your Workout

No More Excuses. Period.

If you've recently started an exercise program, research tells us that most likely 50% of you have bailed on your goals!

One study from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania showed that a quarter of people who resolve to lose weight and change their eating habits on January 1 will go back to their old ways within a week. The following shows how many of these resolutions are maintained as time goes on:

- Past the first week: 75%
- Past 2 weeks: 71%
- After one month: 64%
- After 6 months: 46%

You've probably experienced some challenges on your journey to your goal. How have your dealt with them? Perhaps it's time to recheck your motivation and inspiration.

If you're one of those who's already hung up your sneakers, let me get you back on track.

Here's a list of common excuses NOT to exercise and the combat strategies to overcome them:

I don't have time to work out!

This is the #1 excuse to never starting or quitting an exercise program. When life gets tough, exercise is usually the first thing to go which should be the last. Exercise is one of the best ways of boosting your mental sanity when you want to get the tough going. Research demonstrates that exercisers are more productive; i.e., exercise saves time rather than consumes it.

Exercise also doesn't have to be a huge time commitment. According to the updated Physical Activity Guidelines from ACSM and AHA, exercise done in as short as 10 minutes for 3 times a day can count towards the daily activity recommendation and still reap health and fitness benefits.

I have offered many efficient circuit training routines that combine strength training and cardio circuit exercise into a total-body balanced workout. In addition, I provide a wide variety of effective weight training routines. All these training programs are designed to help busy people to get their workout done in 45 minutes. Superset workout is one of the most effective weight training systems.

You can also exercise first thing in the morning so that it's scratched off from your "To Do" List. Morning exercisers tend to stick to their routines better than people who exercise later in the day.

I have no energy!

"I'm too tired to work out!" is another perpetual excuse. Long time exercisers know from their experience that exercise actually refuels and revitalizes leaving you with more energy.

If you feel too tired to run, you can go for a walk. Walking in fast pace and moderate intensity can be a good exercise for your brain and heart health. Once you start to get going, you'll feel great and may want to run again because more blood and oxygen are pumped to your brain and muscles. When you get into the grooves, try the high intensity interval training H.I.I.T. cardio to rev up your metabolism, melt away unwanted body fat and reveal your six pack abs.

I'm too old to exercise!

You're never too old to exercise! You simply cannot afford NOT to exercise.

A 30-year old sedentary individual will suffer from a 10% decrease in muscle mass, aerobic capacity and flexibility. Their bone density will deteriorate. By the age of 68, an 80% decrease in strength will be noted. By the age of 80, an individual would have lost one half of their muscle mass. If you incorporate exercise, particularly weight-bearing activities, this rate decreases dramatically. The positive benefits of exercise have been displayed in 90-year-old subjects.

So it's never too late to get started! You can still stay fit even if you're over 40! Mary Stroebe is 89 years old and has been placed first in her age group for the fifth year in a row in the Life Time Fitness Triathlon. The majority of 89 year olds are either debilitated or barely capable of moving, not to mention to do a triathlon that includes swimming, cycling and running. She is an inspiration to everyone who knows her story. She's strong and still running.

If you're still in doubt, check out Kelly and Colleen - national fitness champion mother/daughter duo. They look so lean and ripped. Guess how old they are? Kelly (mother) on the left is 75 and Colleen (daughter) on the right is 46 years old! WOW!! Aren't they amazing. Kelly didn't start weight training until she was 53 years old. So says who that you're too old to exercise. You should feel ashamed to use this lame excuse not to exercise.

I hate exercise!
In the beginning, exercise may feel like a chore. Eventually exercise will become a need for both your physical and mental health. It's important to find activities that you actually enjoy doing so that you'll participate regularly, see the results and get hooked. Use music, try lifestyle activities like hiking or walking, and add variety by cross training to your program to make it more fun. You can also choose many physical activities, sports and workouts by your personality.

Some studies have also shown that people who exercise with friends tend to achieve better results. So find a workout buddy, join a running club or take a group exercise class. Form your own "circle of fitness" with like-minded friends. The support system or mastermind group may make it difficult to skip workouts. Having other people there may make the journey a lot more enjoyable.

An alternative is to find a good cause for running other than for yourself. Train and enter a fund-raising event that help cancer patients and family. A very popular one is Team in Training organzied through the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

When you want to stay in shape, be aware of who you're associated with. Research shows that your close friends can be very powerful in a good or bad way, even the long distance ones. Your friends can make you fat !?

There's also no evidence to suggest that exercise needs to be painful. If it hurts that much, you may be doing too much too soon. That's the #1 cause of injury. Watch out for signs of overtraining and potential injuries.

I'm too out of shape to exercise!

Some people are self-conscious about themselves. They feel intimated when going to gym to exercise in front of mirror and other muscle buffs. A survey found the #1 reason why people choose not to join a gym is because they want to get into better shape or lose weight first. This backwards approach may never get you to your goals.

Find a facility that is non-intimidating where you feel comfortable to go and work out there. In fact, people tend to focus on themselves in the gym than on others. So just focus on your own workout and don't compare with other people.

If the gym scene is not your thing, don't make that an excuse. There are literally hundreds of things you can do from the privacy of your own home to get in shape. Go to your local book store and pick up a book on designing your own program. Rent some fitness videos. Hire a personal trainer to come to your house and design a customized in-home training program for you. On-line training and coaching is available as well.

I have a back problem! My knees hurt! I've got arthritis!

The health benefits of exercise often outweigh the risks. Certain orthopedic or medical conditions may make exercise more difficult but you can work around most problems. Consult with a fitness professional who can design a program that addresses your specific concerns.

I don't see any results!
One of the biggest stumbling blocks new exercisers experience is that the effort often doesn't match the reward. They've been exercising religiously for 4 weeks and jump up on the scale. Ugh, no change! They feel the program must not be working and give up. Unrealistic expectations can be a real downer!

Instead of measuring your progress by the scale, measure your energy levels. Monitor how many more repetitions you can perform of any exercise. Assess how many more minutes you can perform of any given activity. You may be making more progress than you think! If you can get through the first three months, you've put the most difficult part behind you. Soon, you won't believe that quitting was ever an option!

I always forget something!

Set up your gym bag the night before and do a quick inventory of everything you'll need. Keep an extra pair of socks and shoes and spare workout shirt and short/ pant in the gym bag. Plan ahead and always keep a set of gym outfits in your car.

Going to the gym is such a hassle!

Bypass the waiting line to the cardio machine and workout out at home. You can do your cardio training by running or biking outside. Keep simple training equipment at home such as several pairs of dumbbells, a stability ball, mat, Pilates ring, resistance tubing or bands and jump rope. If your home space and budget allow, you can build a home gym by adding an adjustable weight bench, squat rack, barbell weight set, a treadmill or an elliptical trainer, etc.

Remember, bodyweight strength circuit training can be just as challenging and gruelling if you do them right!

Follow these real-world strategies to help you overcome those daily hurdles that keep you from reaching your exercise goals. Ultimately, your lifestyle change is the secret to lifelong health and weight management.

Learn top 20 ways to stick to your workout. >>

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