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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Circuit Training: Strength Training You Can Use

   I was going to start today off with a little introduction to meditation, but after such an incredible circuit workout this morning for my shoulders, arms, and abs, I felt it necessary to go on a rant telling you why you should try circuit training out! So before we kick into high gear with a little scientific back ground and how it all works, I'd recommend grabbing a glass of water (NO sodas unless you want that sweet high fructose corn syrup sticking to your arteries), some home made granola (Try this:, and a piece of fruit to prepare you for a work out that will not only kick your butt, but also give you the strength and cardiovascular capacity to take on a whole slew of athletic activities. Lets start.
   When you go into a gym, it is pretty normal to see a group of guys, staring into the mirror as they complete their 100th bicep curl of the day. We call bicep curls an isolated movement. Why? Because it is relying primarily on one muscle to get the job done. That's great and all if you want to have a monster bicep to show off (Are people still into that even?), but really, how often do you do a movement that relies only on your bicep? Therefore isolated exercises, although still good, don't give you the maximum potential if you want strength that is going to be useful when you are playing a sport or doing some fun outdoor activities. What's even better is if you do exercises that utilize muscle groups (agonist, synergist, antagonist, and stabilizer), so the movement mimics something you might actually do in real life. See where I'm going with this?
   Now what's even BETTER is for you to do it in circuit fashion! Circuit training was developed as a means of allowing a person to work on strength, aerobics, and muscle endurance all at the same time. It's a pretty sweet deal and it's really not something that countless bicep curls will give you. The way these three things are achieved is through a constant rotation of exercises with minimal breaks in between. So instead of doing 3 set of a specific weight lifting exercise, you will do one and immediately move on to another exercise that works on another muscle, keeping your heart rate up. That's key! In traditional weight lifting, you do a set and take a break. No Breaks here!!! You push and push and not only work on getting stronger, but also work on getting your cardiovascular system (Heart and lungs), working hard to. So what does a work out look like? I'll show ya...

- Stretching (calves, hamstrings, groins, shoulder, pectorals, biceps, triceps, and neck)
- 5-10 minutes light cardio (Bike, treadmill, or run in place)

Circuit (15-20 mins) Upper Body
- Pull-ups (Max in 30 seconds)
- Bench Dips (Max in 30 seconds)
- Wide arm chin-ups (Max in 30 seconds)
- Standard Push-up (Set a goal)
(30 second break, get some water)
- Close-grip chin-ups (Set a goal)
- Diamond push-ups (Set a goal)
- (Full Body) Burpees
(Repeat from the beginning. Take water breaks when necessary)

Cool Down:
- Stretching
-5-10 minuets light cardio

   So obviously I'm not giving you a full break down of how to do most of these since a lot of people have an idea of how to do some of these exercises. If there was ever a question, you could always ask me and I'd be happy to assist you. My focus here is to give you a basic work out for your upper body that would require no weights. You could get much fancier if you had some dumbbells or bands. You could also get more specific with hitting certain muscles, but this is just a basic upper body work out. Do all of the exercises back to back, keep your heart rate up, take breaks when necessary.
    Now this ain't gonna get you looking like a roid popper or anything, but it will be a good start (Along with good diet) to get you looking lean and toned. I'll post circuits for lower body, total body, and core in the future. If you wanna revise it to suit yourself more, go ahead! Make it fun! Add a run in before you do the circuit to get an extra good work out. Mainly, have fun, work hard, and be safe.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Poor Kid Running: 5 Tips to Get Off the Couch!

  Why running ever became the modern version of the sport where everyone sports 120.00 dollar shoes, fancy GPS watches, wick fiber shirts, and fuel belts is beyond me. I mean, all you really need is some run of the mill shoes (some even go barefoot, which can be fun if it's not too hot out), some gym shorts and you are good to go! Too many people are all hyped up on the fancy gear, but what it comes down to is your ability and drive. But beyond my rant on how the sport meant for everyone has gained upper class status, lets look at some tips to get you off your couch and on the road. Now, I know some of these tips are rather obvious, but we gotta start somewhere!

1. Don't worry about distance
    - Instead you should be focused on time. Set a specific time for yourself. Maybe you wanna start with 15 minutes or 30 minutes. Mileage is for runners training for a race, not a newcomer just getting on the road for the first time. Anyone can hit a specified time, while focusing on distance will make it too easy to over compensate for your ability and make goals harder to reach.

2. Start small, but go hard

    - Simple tip for all forms of exercise. People want immediate results, but that ain't going to happen. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will your body. We are growing up in a society where everything is immediate. We can get info with the click of a search button on google, no effort required, and this mentality is why people are discouraged form working out. Some people start out too hard to try and reach quick results, which will lead you to crashing and burning. Start small, and increase your time in small increments. Eventually you can change your time method to mileage once you get comfy. Remember, a big goal is made up of tons of smaller ones.

3. Start with the run/walk method

    - Work hard, but don't kill yourself! Do whatever it takes to hit your time you set for yourself, even if that means walking for a bit. Keep this pattern up, run until you can't no more, and than walk. Always try to run as much as you can though, otherwise you won't make any progress.

4. Find a running partner

   - This isn't necessary, but a little support goes a long away and can make your work out much more enjoyable. I'm personally kind of a loner when it comes to running, but whenever I take someone out on a training run and have the company, I have a great time. Give it a shot.

5. Pace yourself

    - If you cannot talk while you are running, you are going too hard! We have different types of pacing. Tempo runs are runs for race training when you go at your race pace. You are usually in a pretty high intensity zone at that point, and that's not where you should be. Take it easy, go slow, take small steps. Be good to your body.

  I'll be posting more running tips in days to come, some for beginners, some for the more advanced. I'll also start posting pictures and videos relating to specific exercises that people can do out in mother nature without a need for a gym membership (Not to bag on gyms, I go to one myself). In the mean time, drink some water, eat some fruit, give a cow a break and skip the burger today. Your body will be happy, which leads to your brain being happy. Quite simple, yet so difficult for most of us to grasp. Oh well, we gotta start somewhere. Remember we all smell, we all poo, we all burp. Even those purty girls out there. Isn't that wonderful? It makes you want to hug everyone you see when you realize that we are all one in the same, and nothing should hold you back from being your best.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Muffin Tops and Marshmallows: Overcoming Body Image Doubt

   So it was the first time I had to complete an 8 mile run on a 100 degree day in August last year. I tried to think of all the possible ways I could deal with the heat, finally dumping the option of running nude (Which might be rad, but not currently accepted in Western Civilization). So I put on my shorts, running shoes, removed my shirt and stood staring into the bathroom mirror trying to psych myself up for the run that lay ahead. Instead of getting pumped up and feeling like an Olympian getting ready for a race, I mentally cued the cartoon sound effect "wah wah waaaah" as I tried to figure out who the wuss with the concave chest, ribs sticking out, and sporting a little pocket full of jelly where his belly button should have been. Despite a sudden, unexplainable craving for a muffin top, I stared at my farmer's tan and taken aback by the blinding light of my opaque weakling body. I looked like a frickin' marshmallow... no, no... not the toasty delicious one in a S'more, the creamy white one that is starting to melt into mush in your hot chocolate. (See ladies, you aren't the only ones who think about this kind of stuff. Where do you think body builders get their motivation?)
     At that very moment, I decided something that changed my life and the way I feel about myself and others. WHO CARES. We all get so worried about our bodies that we hold ourselves back from being active. This is a common problem in the exercise world and a reason why people sometimes shy away from the gym or the roads. Well, I am here today to let you in on a major discovery that I have yet to publish and make millions off of. No one really cares whatcha look like! When someone sees you working out, walking, jogging, hitting or throwing a ball, they see you as someone who is TRYING to get into better shape, to live longer, to improve the quality of their life. This may be the most difficult thing in the world for the vain side of us to understand, but saying, "I have to start somewhere", is the most liberating thing that a person can do! The way I see it, there are only so many different body types in the world, and we all fall into one of them.  So don't feel like you have to be self-concious about how you look.  We all look about the same and once you take that first step, you are working towards better health, fitness and self assurance. How can you not respect anyone who goes down that road?

So let's take a look at how really alike, we all are... 


- Naturally thin: Now when I say naturally thin I ain't talking any extreme diets or mental disorders that lead to this. I am referring to a women who is naturally on the thin side, sometimes even to the point where they wish they had more curves.

  My take: You are a newly purchased blank easel just waiting to be worked on. You are the perfect candidate to start working on tone and muscle definition. Strong is the new thin! Don't worry about your lack of this or lack of that. Instead, realize that every single persons natural physical state is a beautiful thing and your perseverance on the gym floor, on the trails, and on the streets is more attractive than anything!

- Plus Size

  My take: Congratulations! All of those curves you complain about non-stop are the very thing that make you a gorgeous women! Women have curves, and let me tell you from a male perspective, it's a wonderful, wonderful thing. Too many girls think thin is what guys want, but this is really not the case. Now, what we can do is work on it a little bit to get the curves in all of the right places, but that ain't gonna happen unless you get out, get moving, and eat right! Don't worry about what we look like when we work out, just do it. Anyone putting an effort into it looks pretty badass in my own opinion.


- Naturally thin

  My take: I know, I know. You are scared to go on the floor at the gym because you don't want to look like a pre-injection Captain America amongst all of the post-injection Captain Americas. I hear you. But you know what? We all got to start somewhere and just like the ladies, you are a blank easel just hurting for some fresh paint. Start toning! You have no fat layers to hide it!

- Plus Size

  My Take: The epitome of the stereotyped masculinity is size. You got that already! Lets just convert some of that to muscle mass and you'll be set to destroy small insignificant guys like me!

   Okay, now I know there are tons of body types and this is over generalizing, but most of us have felt like one of these. Regardless of what may be stopping you, remember... it is only a perception. Don't be ashamed to hit the gym or the roads. Nothing is more attractive than a hard working person, and any of us can accomplish that. The media has hammered into our heads what we all need to be, but really all any of us need to be is our best. Eat right, work out hard, and the body will take care of itself. Sooooo don't be scared. I let the world see my marshmallow torso last year, and I'm pretty sure most people driving their fancy cars, talking on their bluetooth's, thinking about dinner, didn't give a rats ass about me. And I'm cool with that.

Lets get the personal story done with

   Before I start bombarding this page with fitness and nutritional ideas and reviews, I feel I should share why I am here in the first place. Now at this point I can totally understand why you aren't reading this far in and have already hit that little red box with an X in it in the upper corner. But if you actually read that you are in fact here, or actually you are wherever you are but you are projecting yourself into the Internets virtual realm. I promise to stop with this philosophical BS...eventually. First thing you should know about me; despite being in the fitness profession, my initial degree in college was a BA in English Subject matter, so I have all of these heady ideas that drive me crazy and will do the same to you leading us all into a huge existential crisis. Lets move on...

  Despite going through a major weight loss program in middle school when I was about 30lbs. over weight and playing hockey, football, and baseball for the majority of my childhood, my late high school years and college years consisted of a major lack of sleep, bad eating, and no physical activity. Sure I wasn't gaining weight at this point, but it all caught up to me in one big ol' ugly package that was delivered to me while on vacation in Orlando. That wonderful delivery was my first bought of diagnosed Major Depression and GAD (General Anxiety Disorder). What you say?! No way! Not Nick the kid that wore all black through out high school, periodically wore eye make-up, had 8 inch bangs on one side of his head, and sang in a screamo band?! (Ya, not really a shocker to anyone close to me neither). Yet still it didn't feel like it was part of me. It felt like I got a flu in my brain that I couldn't shake and it was making me miserable. I couldn't sleep, control my emotions, I was eating little to nothing, and saw no bright lights along the way. It was a somewhat hellish experience. Man did I feel sick. But lets not talk too much about that crappity crap crap crap and look on how I got out of that stage of my life.

  My doctors helped me in a lots of ways, trying this and that, but two major things really changed me for the better. Running and meditation. Two things I knew nothing about and one that I already knew I hated (Honestly, the mile runs in high school were frickin' misery). I was desperate to get better, so I was willing to try anything. I started by running to the end of my street and back. This quarter mile was a killer. Keep in mind I was actually a little under weight. Just because you are skin and bones does not mean you are healthy!! It was tough at first. Everything hurt, my lungs and heart hated me, and it was so difficult to get out the door and on the pavement. But I did, and I soon discovered my second form of motivation. Since I had such a wonderful support team helping me through my tough time, I wanted to return the favor. So I signed up for the Disneyland Half Marathon as a Team for Life member to raise money for cancer patients through Lazarex. This cemented it. I had to run since I had people depending on me. And run I did, and man am I happy about it.

  5 months later I did my first half marathon with no stops in about 1:45. Not spectacular, but it was my first one! I was just happy I made it. Now I can't stop running. I run almost everyday, lift weights, mess around with P90X, meditate, do yoga, and I couldn't feel better. I've ran multiple races as well including the Malibu half, Spartan, and Gladiator races, and am about to take my lovely fiance on a stroll through the Disneyland Half again this September. I am also working through NASM as a personal trainer.What I discovered is that there is this incredible interrelation between the mind and body. I mean, if running could help my mind, then calming my mind must help my body!

 So now I meditate. I can float about 4 to 5 feet off the ground and can visit any place in the world in a matter of seconds! Not really. This is the kind of stuff a lot of people associate with meditating, but this is so not the case. Simple posture, breathing techniques, and mind focus is all it takes to take you to the next level in fitness. And it has saved my life. I cannot emphasize this enough! You may think I'm crazy, but soon I will post blogs on how to meditate properly and if you are feeling adventurous, you can try to prove me wrong. Your mind needs exercise just like your body people!

  Anyways, there you have it. That's my story. Whether or not you wanna listen to my fitness and health advice is your call, but I promise if you come back here I will share all of my tips and info on body fitness, mind fitness, and how we can build a stronger sense of belonging through our interrelation with the earth. Ya it's hippyish, ya it's a little holistic, but what I've done has worked. AND I WANT TO HELP YOU! (And entertain you with my mistakes and periodic lack of common sense).