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SMART Fitness

Coaching people to EAT SMARTER and MOVE SMARTER so they can develop the habits necessary to achieve their HEALTH and FITNESS goals and keep them for LIFE

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Strength training

How to Perform the Push-up, Squat, Plank, and Pull-up

As promised, here is the video showing the recommended technique for each exercise in the 2015 Fitness Challenge.

As always, any questions or comments are welcome.

Challenge starts tomorrow. Are you ready?

I don’t know about you guys, but this winter I’ve been pretty inconsistent with both my exercise program and my eating habits (and blog posts. Ugh.). The result is an extra 8 – 10 lbs in my waist area that I’m none too happy about. And now that the weather is finally getting warmer, I’ve decided to do something about it. I’ve created a progressive calisthenics program of steadily increasing repetitions over the month of April with the following exercises: Continue reading “2015 Spring Fitness Challenge”

One of the more recent phrases added to the fitness lexicon is something called Functional Strength. I’m not sure who actually coined this phrase, or I would give them their due credit.

So what exactly is Functional Strength?

In the simplest of terms, Functional Strength is strength that allows you to do everyday things with less physical effort/energy expended.

Here are some examples:

  • Carrying the groceries in from the car using less trips back and forth.
  • Picking up your child and putting her on your shoulders so she can see the parade better.
  • Walking up stairs carrying a loaded suitcase because the elevator is too slow or broken.
  • Moving a piece of furniture to make your spouse happy.
  • Changing a flat tire–just removing the lug nuts can require a significant amount of strength, and then you have to lift the spare out and put the flat back in the trunk.
  • And many many more.

If you think about each of the above examples, every one of them is you working against the forces of gravity or friction.

So the next logical question is: How do we develop this Functional Strength?

Continue reading “What is Functional Strength?”

Assuming you used the S.M.A.R.T.E.R. strategy for choosing your goal(s), you might we wondering, “what do I do now?” If so, that’s what today’s post is about.

If you are serious and committed about your goal, you first need to look at some of your HABITS.

  • What HABITS do you currently have that will help you toward reaching your goal?
  • What HABITS do you currently have that will hinder you from reaching your goal?
  • What HABITS do you need to develop to help you reach your goal?
  • What HABITS do you need to break right now so you can more easily and quickly reach your goal?

Continue reading “I’ve Chosen My Goal, Now What?!?”

11 Ridiculously Simple Tips to Improve Your Health

Sometimes we make things way too complicated when it comes to our health. Here are 11 Really Simple Things you can do TODAY to improve your health…

  1. STOP drinking soft drinks! This includes diet soft drinks too. Just STOP. You know it’s bad for you. If not, Google it.
  2. Eat more vegetables. Nothing new here, but choose wisely. Pick a green veggie like broccoli, spinach, or kale. Eat as much as you want.
  3. Add good fats to your diet with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO). Sprinkle it on your veggies.
  4. Drink more water. Since you have given up soft drinks, this is the logical replacement. I like lime in mine.
  5. Eat more protein. Red meat is NOT bad for you like we were told several decades ago. Add some to your diet. Add some fish too.
  6. Stop sitting so much. If you sit at a desk for your job, set an alarm to walk around every 30-60 minutes. Park farther away from Walmart.
  7. Go to bed at the same time every night, and get up at the same time every morning. 7 days a week. Consistency is the key to pretty much everything.
  8. Pick a type of exercise you enjoy. If you don’t you’ll never stick to it.
  9. Exercise with a friend if possible. Accountability helps with that whole consistency thing. If we know someone else is counting on us, it’s harder to blow it off.
  10. Eat breakfast. But beware of the sugar-filled cereals/yogurts/donuts/juices/etc. Eggs are one of the best sources of protein money can buy, and they are also NOT bad for you as we were once told. Google it.
  11. Stop looking at food as just something you put in your gut. It is fuel for your body, and your body is an amazing machine. Treat it as such and you will reap the benefits.

Continue reading “11 Ridiculously Simple Tips to Improve Your Health”

Recovery

Ask any professional athlete about recovery, and they will tell you it is critical to both their performance and their continued improvement in the areas of strength and conditioning. That being said, most amateur fitness enthusiasts and weekend warriors don’t pay nearly enough attention to this critical element. Whether your goal is overall health improvement, running a marathon, or competing in the next USMC Mud Run, recovery is just as important as your workout and your nutrition.

There are two aspects to recovery…

  • Rest
  • Nutrition

Continue reading “Recovery”

Summer Fitness Challenge

For those who have been reading the fat loss series that started with Small Changes…, here is a challenge for you to start adding some  strength training to your week. It’s a simple way of adding push-ups, pull-ups, and core work to your day. Try to do this 4-6 days per week. You will progress to higher reps each week as I will describe later.

Here’s how it works:

Sometime during your day, using as many sets as you need, do 30 push-ups (at whatever progression you are able), 5 pull-ups (also at whatever progression you are able), and 2 minutes of core work (these are exercises that work your abdominal region and lower back). Continue reading “Summer Fitness Challenge”

12 Small Changes to a Healthier Body

This is part 3 in a series of posts that started with Small Changes. Several of you have asked me nicely to “get on with it”, which tells me there are at least a few of you ready to put it all together and start seeing some real results. Love your passion!!

So here are the changes you need to make to THE WAY YOU EAT AND THE WAY YOU MOVE to reach your goals: Continue reading “12 Small Changes to a Healthier Body”

Body Change Part 2 (Fitness)

If you haven’t read Part 1 for the backstory, go here to read that. I don’t want to bore anyone with that again.

I do want to go on record with one statement that may sting a little. In all of the research I did for this, one thing shocked me more than any other:

WHAT YOU PUT INTO YOUR BODY is significantly more important to your body’s ability to LOSE FAT than any exercise program.

In other words, you could have the most cutting edge exercise technology money can buy, or the best personal trainer on the planet, but if you still put CRAP into your body, you’ll never lose the fat. PERIOD.

Let’s move on. As I mentioned in Part 1, I only had two days per week available to workout outside my home. This is a restriction I placed on myself so my family is minimally affected by my chosen exercise program. As much as I love fitness and exercise, as a husband and dad, my family is MORE important.

Here’s what I came up with:

  • Strength train TWO days per week: Monday and Friday work best for me, but you need 48-72 hours between workouts for recovery.
  • Whole body workouts each day to start. Work largest body part to smallest with some variety allowed. Legs, back or chest, shoulders, triceps or biceps, core (abs/lower back). (Note: If you think you will run out of steam before you get to your core, do that first. Core is critical!!). After about 12 weeks move to one workout per week per bodypart (split the body into two parts and do one workout on Monday and one on Friday. For example: Trunk (chest, back, shoulders, abs) — Monday; Extremities (Legs, biceps, triceps, forearms, abs)–Friday.) Notice I said abs each workout.)
  • Workout ONE: High reps/low to moderate weight.
    • Rep range: 15-20 with strict form. (If form begins to be affected, stop and reduce weight. If you get to 20 reps and little effort was required, increase the weight next set)
    • 2-3 sets per exercise. One exercise per body part. Rarely the same exact exercise two workouts in a row. Mix it up so the body never gets a chance to adapt. (Example: Incline barbell one workout, incline dumbbells with a slightly different bench angle the next one.)
    • Minimize the rest between sets. 30 secs or so. Circuit training is ideal, where you go from one exercise to another. Then go back through a second time (maybe even a third, depending on how many exercises you’ve selected.).
  • Workout TWO: Low reps/Moderate to higher weight.
    • Warm-up: it is CRITICAL that you warm up properly BEFORE you start with heavy weights. If necessary do two sets to warm-up (6-8 reps), gradually increasing the weight, before your final HEAVY set.
    • Rep range: 5-8 with strict form. (I can’t stress enough how important form is to injury prevention AND strength gains!). You want to come pretty close to failure here, so make sure to have a spotter.
    • Rep speed: lots of variation can be added here, but NEVER bounce or use momentum to THROW the weight up. That’s the quickest way to get an injury that will stop your fat loss plan in its tracks!!
      • 2 sec negative/1 sec positive
      • 4 sec negative/1-2 sec positive
      • and everything in between. Lately I’ve been trying SUPER SLOW reps (10 sec positive/10 sec negative with one set and one exercise per body part). My friend Scott Means bought me the book, Body by Science by Doug McGuff M.D. and John R. Little which describes this method in detail.
    • 2-3 sets per exercise. One exercise per body part. Rarely the same exact exercise two workouts in a row. Mix it up so the body never gets a chance to adapt.
    • Rest between sets should still be pretty short: 60-90 secs is a good range.
  • Sprints: once a week I find a place to do some sprinting. My standard sprint workout is at the local high school track. I do a warm-up of 6 x 50 meter runs (about 70% effort–more than a jog, but not an all out sprint). I walk between each until my breathing returns to normal. Then I do 6 x 50 m sprints starting at around 90% effort, gradually increasing intensity to a full out 100% on the last two sprints. I got this concept from Mark Sisson’s Primal Fitness eBook. The book is free if you subscribe to his blog, which is excellent also!!
  • Record everything. I created a workout log to record date, exercises, sets, reps, and weight. If you would like it, let me know using the comments.
  • Exercise variety: I am big on changing things up. I use free weights (both barbells and dumbbells), machines, kettlebells, bodyweight exercises, and something called a TRX Suspension Trainer. This also has the added benefit of boredom prevention.
  • Accountability: If possible, get a workout partner. Just knowing my partner is waiting for me makes it virtually impossible to skip a workout. If a physical partner isn’t possible, then get a virtual one. Team up with a friend on Facebook or Twitter or wherever, and keep each other accountable for getting workouts in. Making it a little competitive might motivate you. For example, whoever gets to their goal pant size or dress size gets a steak dinner!!

I know that’s a lot to take in, but combine these guidelines with the nutrition plan explained in part 1, and you will have a working fat loss plan as well as a lifestyle for health and fitness to carry you for a very long time.

I would love to hear some feedback. If you agree or disagree with anything I’ve written here, let me know. Or, better yet, if you implement this plan, let me know what kind of results YOU achieved using it!!

Now let’s go workout!!

References not already mentioned above:

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