Intensity – The Name of the Game

Ever wonder to yourself if you are working out hard enough?  If you are working out too hard?  Believe it or not, many people are unsure of how hard they should be working out, and as a result, are completely wrong on what they should be doing.  It’s no fault of their own, because if you think about it for a minute, it is easy to get confused.  How many different infomercials are there telling you to do different things in the gym?  You see countless DVDs and booklets on the “proven” type of workouts.  Well, the fact of the matter is this: Not everything works for everybody.  Not only are certain workouts not effective for some people, but some individuals SHOULDN’T be doing certain types of workouts.  Let me break it down very simply for you.

High Intensity vs Low Intensity – What’s the difference?


These workouts are for those individuals wanting to see a CHANGE in their performance or fitness.  If you want to cut time off your mile pace, lose 20 pounds, add pounds to your bench press, or simply get in overall better shape, you’re going to need to up the intensity.  Now, what does this mean?  Does this mean that every single workout you have to be drenched in sweat, incapable of walking, and wanting to shoot yourself?  NO.  Anyone who tells you that is a fool, and should shut up.  What this means is that you have to challenge yourself each and every time you step into a gym or onto a field.  There isn’t a special number as far as percentages or time spent under a heart rate range that will get you your results.  Good old fashion hard work, and lots of it, is the best prescription here.

The reason we have to push ourselves to create change is because the body has to be presented with a new stimulus to respond.  If you continually present your body with the same stimulus (workout intensity) there will be no change.  Think of it like this:  I work as a personal trainer.  If I do the same thing over and over every day with my job, I’m going to be in the same spot a year from now that I am today.   BUT, if I seek out new clients and opportunities (NEW STIMULUS) my job and life will be much different.  There will be a change.  Your body is the same way.  You have to push yourself harder than you are used to if you want to see changes.  There is no substitute for working hard.  Trust me, many people have been trying for years to find one, and they have all failed.  So, suck it up and get to work!!



This type of workout is best suited for someone who has reached their goals or is simply content with where they are at.  Maybe you have reached the “maintenance” phase of your program.  In these types of situations, it is more appropriate to take the intensity down a few notches.  Now, this doesn’t mean you get to quit altogether.  You still need to exercise and work hard at it, but you can afford to go a little “lighter” during your workouts.  Maybe you take a longer rest between sets, slow down on your cardio a bit, or lower your resistance on some lifts.  You still push yourself, but it doesn’t have to be a new and challenging stimulus every single day.

HOW TO CHOOSE: First and foremost, you have to figure out your goals.  Do you want to improve your fitness?  Do you want to maintain what you have?  Once you figure that out, you can adjust your workout intensity accordingly.

MY TIP:  Here is a great tip for deciding if you’re intensity is appropriate for a workout: THE TALK TEST.  This is exactly what it sounds like.  If you too out of breath during your workout to have a steady conversation or respond to someone who may have (rudely) interrupted your workout, then your intensity is probably high enough to get some results, whatever you are doing.  If you are able to carry on a consistent conversation with someone, you are more than likely going through what would be considered a low intensity workout.  There is nothing wrong with either, based on your own goals, this is simply a great way to figure out where you are in your workout.

I hope this helps to clear up a few things on what the right intensity is for you and why.  Once you’ve figured out what YOU want to get from your workouts, find a plan that matches that intensity and GET TO WORK!!!

Shaking My Head

This week my victim is something that every single person has done at some point or another.  Some people are much worse than others, yet we are all guilty of this.  So what am I talking about???  I’m talking about EXCUSES!!!  Not one excuse in particular, just the whole idea.  For my readers’ sake, though, I will pinpoint two examples that really just chap my ass.

“I can’t.  I’m too tired.  My body just isn’t feeling this.”  You know what I’m talking about.  Not only have you heard this before, but I’d bet my life savings that you have said it multiple times before.  Well, guess what??  You and everybody else that have said it before are dead wrong.  Yes, you can.  No, you’re not too tired.  And, yes, your body is feeling it.  What’s the secret to getting over those humps?  It’s simple, you have to suck it up and do it. One of my BIGGEST pet peeves is somebody who comes to workout (whether by themselves or a client) and half-asses it.  If you’re going to show up to work out, you better show up.  Don’t bring that crappy attitude, because you’re only cheating yourself.

“I don’t have time to exercise.”  Oh boy does this one piss me off.  You know what this one is???  This isn’t an excuse, it’s BULL SH*T!!!  What’s that… You’ve got half an hour to surf Facebook??  You’ve got two hours to sit on the couch and watch your television shows??  Weird how you can’t make any time to work out with that busy schedule you’ve got going on.  I understand that some people really are busy and don’t have a lot of time on their hands, but DO NOT come at me with this one unless you are absolutely positive its the truth.

Now, am I saying that I’m perfect??  Of course (not).  What you won’t see me doing very often, though, is make an excuse to skip a workout.  Not only is it my job, but it’s something that I’m very passionate about.  I don’t like making excuses in general, much less to avoid exercise.  So when I see somebody doing it consistently, it will ALWAYS leave me Shaking My Head.

Workout of the Week

This week I’ve got a combination of body weight exercises and cardio for you.  Here you go:

  1. Pushups – 20
  2. Squat Jumps – 20
  3. Treadmill – 120 Seconds
  4. Pushups – 25
  5. Squat Jumps – 25
  6. Treadmill – 90 Seconds
  7. Pushups – 30
  8. Squat Jumps – 30
  9. Treadmill – 60 Seconds

That’s 1 Round.  Complete 3 total rounds.  As always, go through as quickly as possible, resting only when necessary.

The Truth Blog

As some of you may remember, this particular post is aimed at putting the truth behind some of the more common myths in the fitness world.  I believe this will be a beneficial post for the blog as many people fall victim to misconceptions in this industry, even myself.  Today, I am going to start off with the most commonly seen myth in the industry: Spot Training

Spot Training:  The idea that working on a specific body part will result in fat loss in that given area of the body.  The area of the body in which people use this method of training is, you guessed it, the abdominal muscles.

“So, you’re telling me that even if I work my abs out every day, I’m still not going to lose any fat?!?!?”  No, I’m not saying that at all.  I’m simply saying that it isn’t that simple.  The human body is never that simple.  The fact of the matter is that whenever you are doing a “fat-burning” workout, your body has basically predisposed what fat sources it will use.  In other words, no matter what type of exercise you do, your body has already determined where it will be burning fat.  Doesn’t sound too promising??  Well, let me explain how you can get rid of that fat where YOU want to.

The (not so) secret lies in LEAN MUSCLE TISSUE (LMT).  Ask anybody that is serious about their health or has been working in this field long enough, and they will say one of the most important aspects of fat loss is GAINING lean muscle tissue.  There are a multitude of benefits from having lean muscle tissue; enough that I could write a completely new blog about them.  One obvious benefit is the increased strength and ability to exercise more, thus gaining more strength and burning more calories.  Specific to fat loss, however, the benefit of having increased LMT deals with your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR), which is  the amount of calories you burn at rest.  The relationship between LMT and RMR is simple.  The more LMT you have, the higher your RMR will be.  So, the more muscle you have throughout your body, the more calories you will burn at rest.

So, you see somebody doing 1,000 situps in the gym every single day.  Are they burning fat in their abdomen during that particular workout??  Maybe, maybe not.  It all depends on what fuel source the body dips in to.  BUT, this person is undoubtedly strengthening the core muscles.

MY SUGGESTION:  Implement a full body strength training program, focusing on core exercises (It’s called the core for a reason).  Full body, large muscle exercises not only involve more muscle activation, resulting in more strength gains, but also require a larger caloric expenditure, which result in more calories out of the body.  You cannot control where your burned fat will come from, but you can control your LMT, and the more you have, the more fat you burn!!

Workout of the Week

1.  Burpees – 5 reps

2. Pushups – 10 reps

3. Body Weight Squats – 15 reps

The format for this workout may be new to some of you, but it is relatively simple.  Grab a stopwatch or timer of some sort.  When you start your timer, start your burpees.  Go right into your pushups and squats next, in order.  When finished, rest until the next minute comes around.  EVERY MINUTE ON THE MINUTE, start your burpees again.  The idea here is that the quicker you can get through all three exercises, the more time you will have to rest.

Complete this cycle for 15 minutes, for a total of 75 burpees, 100 pushups, and 150 squats.

No Carb = No Good??


If you’re like me, you have heard every different approach to the No Carb diet there is.  I’m certainly not a professional nutritionist by any means, but common sense tells me that if there was one flawless solution, would we still have all of these different approaches??  Wouldn’t we all follow the Yellow Brick Road to The Emerald City of Carbs if there was one such method??  Mr. Atkins, I’m not knocking you, because I think you’re an innovator (subtle Wedding Crashers reference, you’re welcome), but there are some things you left out when describing your dietary guidelines to people.

In my own opinion, I really do think No Carb = No Good.  I have multiple reasons for that, but I will share two of what I believe to be my strongest arguments.

1.  Fat Metabolism – “Fats burn in the flame of carbohydrates.”  My graduate school professors would be so proud of me for using this phrase post-graduation, but its true.  What does this phrase mean?  Simply put, you must burn carbohydrates in order to burn fat.  Doesn’t make sense to you?? Well, I’ll put it in layman’s terms for you…

When you break down carbohydrate sources within the body, they produce a multitude of substances, ranging from chemical substrates to recyclable energy sources.  Once we have been exercising for enough time or lower our intensity, our body will switch into fat burning mode (We never burn just one fuel source, fats or carbs.  We simply burn higher percentages of one source over another depending on intensity and time.).  Now, the process of burning fat and burning carbohydrate are separate processes, but there is a connection between the two, and that is it is why we must utilize carbohydrate sources. 

Multiple substrates produced from carbohydrate breakdown are actually used in the breakdown of fat molecules.  Read that sentence again, then continue down.

Sounds confusing, I know, but its physiologically correct.  Let’s say we have 1 molecule of glucose (carbohydrate) to break down.  When that happens, we produce Substances A,B, C, and D.  Well, in order to metabolize fat (which is what we all want), the body needs to use Substances B and C.  I will not list the specific enzymes for simplicity’s sake, but the take away message is clear: There are substances produced from carbohydrate metabolism that are ESSENTIAL in the process of breaking down fats.  Thus, we MUST utilize carbohydrate sources to get to the fat burning stage of exercise.

2.  Brain Fuel – This one is very simple and straightforward.  The brain’s primary fuel source is glucose.  By cutting glucose from the body, you are essentially eliminating the brain’s main source of fuel.  You can’t fuel a diesel truck with unleaded gasoline, so why on earth would you do the same thing with the most important organ in your body??  I don’t think much more needs to be said.  NO GLUCOSE = NO BRAIN FUEL

Now, even with this information presented, I am not making an attack on Low or even Slow Carb diets.  When used in the appropriate situation with the right guidance, they can be quite effective.  The problem is that many people go into diets like these very uniformed about what they are actually doing to their bodies.  My purpose with this blog is to do just that: INFORM PEOPLE.  If you’re looking at making a change, whether it is a dietary or lifestyle change, do your research, so you can make the choice that’s best for you.

Shaking My Head

Many of you probably remember this particular post from my previous blog.  Some of you, on the other hand, may be new to reading my blog, so I’ll explain what this entry will consist of.  It’s pretty simple – this is my weekly post where I bitch about things in the world of fitness that get on my nerves.  In other words, I get to talk about people (or things) behind their back and get away with it!  Such an honorable thing, right??  Anyways, here is this weeks edition:

The Squealer

When it comes to the obnoxiously loud moaners and groaners in the gym, most of you instantly think of men.  In fact, you can probably think of somebody off the top of your head pretty quickly.  Today, however, I’m an advocate for gender equality and calling out the female squealer.  Now, this is a rare creature, on the brink of becoming an endangered species (thank god), but when you see one you know it right off the bat.

I won’t take all day telling you my thoughts on her, so I’ll just get right to the point…. If you think the it’s uncomfortable or annoying when a guy is grunting in the gym, wait until you hear a female do it.  I’m 25 years old, and by most standards, very laid back.  Not much gets to me.  I swear, though, there is nothing more uncomfortable than hearing a female squealing in the weight room.  It’s like a late night Cinemax movie just came on the loud speaker and you can’t turn it off.  When you’re doing something loud and obnoxious enough to offend me of all people, you know you’re going a little overboard. 

Like I said, this creature doesn’t come out of her cave very often, but when she shows up in the gym, it undoubtedly leaves me Shaking My Head.