When it comes to workouts, we've all heard about doing X number of repetitions in a set, doing 5 sets of this exercise, followed by 2 sets of another - and so forth. We've all been schooled on the "do reps - get stronger" philosophy. And not entirely without good reason - doing multiple repetitions of an exercise (such as pushups, for example) is a time honored way that gets you stronger and fitter, and there is nothing wrong with this form of training. In fact, I wholeheartedly advocate this approach in Fast and Furious Fitness; the reason being that it WORKS.
But what if you were introduced to a form of training that would allow you to get stronger from performing just ONE repetition?
That's correct - ONE repetition of an exercise. If you want, you can repeat that one repetition, but that's all you do in one "set" - one repetition. And YES, you WILL get stronger by following this approach - provided you do so correctly.
Most people find this a hard concept to grasp. Yet, it works. Let me give you an example from my own training today. I did some sprints (more on that later) - and followed up with a brief 15 minute routine consisting of nothing but handstand pushups and pullups. And most of my sets in these consisted of ONE repetition of either a pushup or pullup; the only caveat being that I did them in a way that would be nearly impossbile for the average trainee to achieve.
And believe you me, that ONE repetition alone was a HARD set in itself. I was sweating buckets, and getting enough of a cardio workout (as if I even needed one after my sprints) - and this was after only two sets. I did five in all, then finished up with some grip work, and called it a day. Or should I say, HAD to call it a day - I had nothing left at that point!
And note that I've been doing handstand pushups and pull-ups for a long time, so these exercises are hardly new to me. So this way of exercising can give you a fantastic workout regardless of what level of training you are currently at - begineer, intermediate, or even advanced. Last, but not least, this type of training can be extended to virtually any exercise.
I don't advocate doing low repetitions DAILY; but it can be a very effective technique if used alongside your "regular" training routine (or maybe on days when your regular routine isn't going according to plan).
Give it a shot, and let me know how it works for you!
PS: If you enjoy training the way I do, Fast and Furious Fitness is just what the doctor ordered.
PS#2: If you haven't already signed up for our newsletter, do so HERE.
Yesterday, I spoke about the benefits of green tea, and how it helped me in China (where I learnt about, and started partaking of this amazing beverage). If you missed that one, it's up on my blog HERE. And today, I'll continue in a similar vein. Enjoy!
As you all already know, I was posted in China a few years ago. My last posting was in the U.S., and while I used to work out regularly in the US, and continued to do so when I came to China, for some reason, I wasn't getting the results I desired. And at the time, I wasn't sure why - I trained hard, did many of the same exercises I teach NOW, but I simply wasn't getting the results I wanted. Now, part of the reason was that I didn't know what I know now about fitness and diet, but it wasn't the entire story, and I didn't know it back then. I was still getting stronger, and wasn't fat - but I was beginning to put on more weight around the midsection than I'd have wanted to, and my stamina wasn't quite up to the mark. And the worst part was, I didn't have a clue as to how to improve.
(Side note: Fast and Furious Fitness is a must read if you are in a similar situation)
Anyway, one hot balmy evening, my (then) girl-friend introduced me to a nearby hill, something I'd always known was there, but for whatever reason, had neglected to visit. It was quite a famous "landmark" in the area, and quite a high hill, so we decided to climb that hill. Now, to give you some sort of an idea of how tall that hill was, it took about 20 minutes to climb up at a decent clip, and about 10 minutes or so to get back down. There were various routes up the hill - some with stairs, and some without. Anyway, so I figured it was no big deal, and we started to climb. And I still remember that first climb - I thought I was strong and in pretty decent shape, but boy was I WRONG. . .that was a TOUGH, TOUGH climb! I must have downed about a gallon of water after the climb, managed to stumble home, and onto the couch, and that was that for the night.
The next day, I felt like a train ran over me. My body was sore all over - especially my thighs, which felt like they'd been reduced to a pulverized mass of jelly. My back was sore - and I hadn't even done any pull-ups the day before. And my forearms were feeling it as well, which to me was the most mystifying of all. How on earth could my entire body be sore from just climbing up a hill?
Well, to cut a long story short, a few days later, I started to climb this hill daily (as part of my regular routine). I'd come home from work, climb, and then do my bodyweight stuff. I'd climb no matter what the weather was like, no matter how I felt - in short, nothing short of an earthquake would stop me from getting my daily climb in. Folks used to look at me as if I was crazy when I used to start my SECOND walk up the hill (after climbing and descending it once) - but I soon got used to it (and so did they).
And what results did I get? Within a matter of weeks, I had dropped TWO whole waist sizes - something I'd never been able to do even as a teenager. My chest was broader, and I felt a new strength in my back - this without doing anything out of the ordinary for those parts. And despite not doing a single rope jump, or squat, or other movement for the legs, they became pillars of strength - my thighs in particular. My resting pulse dropped from around 90 to 70 in a matter of WEEKS, and I felt like a new man. And ALL of this can be attributed directly to the hill climb.
Anyhow, my point of saying this is not to blow my own bugle or boast about my achievements - but to show you the immense potential of training on hills. My own workout gives you an idea of what hill training can do for you. Imagine what climbing a hill daily, or even three times a week would do for YOU?
I miss that hill - and always will. I don't have hills right now where I live, but make do with what I have (stairs, inclined surfaces etc) - but nothing can quite mimic a real, steep hill. So if you are lucky enough to have hills around where you live, then incorporate them into your routine - and you'll be hooked once you see what you can achieve via this form of training!
Gotta run for now - hope you enjoyed this little "blast from the past"!
PS: If you enjoyed this email, be sure and sign up for my daily newsletter here. It's FREE, so what are you waiting for?
PS#2: To learn more about training on hills, grab a copy of Fast and Furious Fitness HERE.
PS#3: Have a fantastic week ahead, and train hard!
We've all heard the "drink at least 8 glasses of water a day" statement, and the health benefits associated with the same. Today, however, I'm going to go out on a bit of a limb and talk about another often ignored beverage that has possibly MORE health benefits than water - that being green tea.
First off, I'd like to clarify my stand by saying that I am in FULL agreement with drinking eight (or more, if you need more) glasses of pure water a day. I do so myself, and can personally attest to the gains associated with staying proprely hydrated.It is a fantastic practice, and should be followed by everyone. But, green tea is something which has also been of immense benefit to me, and I believe it is something YOU should be partaking of on a daily basis as well.
Let's hark back to 2004, during a "different life", when I was posted in China. I'd exercise after work then - not before - and my routine was an ardous (but enjoyable) daily hill climb in hot and humid conditions, followed by a tough bodyweight routine. I talk about this more in Fast and Furious Fitness. I'd usually get back home late, and was tired and cranky - not the ideal way to start a tough workout immediately after - but a mug or two of green tea later, I was raring to go. My mind cleared up, I got an instant energy "boost", and I actually felt like going out there and busting my backside to get a great workout in - and I usually did.
There were days I couldn't get a decent meal in throughout the day (I'll talk about more the reasons behind that in a later post) but I'd ALWAYS make sure to drink my green tea throughout the day. While it didn't quite compensate for missing meals, it did make me feel as if I'd put something healthy into my body - as opposed to filling myself up with endless glasses of water. And part of the credit for my progress in my exercise routines in China goes to green tea.
Green tea has tons of health benefits, and listing them all here would take all day for me to do - but for now, let's just say that drinking a few glasses of green tea daily is the best thing you can do for your overall health. Just make sure you get high grade, GOOD quality green tea. Also, make sure that you are drinking green tea as it is meant to be drunk- and that is simply adding water to the tea leaves - and not a bunch of sugar, mint, or other additives which completely destroy the flavor of the tea and negate most of the health benefits of this amazing drink.
Note also that green tea is NOT addictive, unlike coffee and other "pick me ups" that folks prefer these days. You will not need to it get out of bed in the morning, or get through the day - but note that if you do drink it on a regular basis (as opposed to craving it) - you will be better off for it.
And as always, make sure your getting enough water as well - and stay away from the nasty stuff (colars, sugary drinks etc). Combine this with a sensible diet, and you've taken care of the diet and hydration part of your routine.
Ok, that's all for today. Back again tomorrow!
You've been working out hard, but are unable to make progress beyond a certain point. You hammer your muscles hard during an exercise, giving it EVERYTHING you've got, but you are still unable to move beyond a certain point. And even when you do make good progress, you aren't feeling as great as you should be. Assuming all else to be fine (sensible training, no overtraining, enough rest etc) - what is that one missing link that is holding you back from getting as good of a workout as you should be?
Hint: It involves someting you do naturally, something you do without even thinking about. You've been doing it since the day you were born, yet somehow you aren't doing it correctly NOW. It's something simple, something elementary, but amazingly, most of us pay virtually no attention to it.
And that something is DEEP BREATHING, and CONCENTRATING ON YOUR BREATH.
Let me give you an example from today's workout. I did a set of sprints at medium velocity (still not fully healed from my injury a couple of weeks ago, but I'm getting there), followed by pullups and some other exercises which I'll talk about later. Nothing too tough, nothing that serious - in fact I generally do my sprints at a far higher intensity when I'm fully fit - but yet, I'm feeling like a gazillion bucks right now. And the key to this is my BREATHING, and my focus on the same during my workouts.
I focused extra hard on breathing correctly on EACH repetition of the pull-ups. Ditto for my pushups, and super ditto for the sprints - though I did not do them at full speed, I was still working up a pretty decent sweat during the routine, and the reason was correct breathing technique, and actually FOCUSING on how I breathe while exercising.
And the benefits of deep breathing go far, far beyond simply improving your routine/results. You purify and cleanse your lungs while breathing correctly, you bring plenty of benefit to ALL your internal organs, and most of all, it's an INSTANT shot of "energy" that virtually nothing else can give you. I should know - I'm still buzzing after a moderately hard workout, and it's almost an hour after completing my routine!
Think about how YOU would benefit from breathing correctly, and focusing on your breathing during your routine. More importantly, how GOOD would you feel for the rest of the day, and how much more could you get done?
The answer is clear enough. I devote an entire chapter to deep breathing in Fast and Furious Fitness - be sure and check it out if you are interested.
All for now. If you are training today, make it one to remember!
PS: We will soon have a link to our facebook site up on the blog (and website) up as well. For now, you can "like" the posts by clicking on the link beneath a blog post. For example, THIS one.
PS#2: Have an enjoyable and safe weekend!
Today I'm going to address a pretty common question that folks have with regard to grip training. And that is, how often to train the grip, and WHEN to do it.
Before I provide my thoughts on this, allow me to go on record by saying that grip training is one of the most enjoyable parts of my workout. I train my grip as hard as I do any other body part, and I train it using exercises that work the body as a WHOLE, which is pretty much what I do for all exercises/body parts. I talk more about this in Fast and Furious Fitness.
Grip training provides numerous benefits. Train the grip hard, and you'll do better on virtually all your exercises, especially the "pulling" exercises. Your forearms will increase tremendously in size and strength, and you'll never have to worry about suffering from the much dreaded carpal tunnel syndrome (which is the bane of many people in this day and age).
And the good part about it is that training the grip is not rocket science. In fact, you can do a lot of the exercises I advocate, and build a super strong grip without even training the forearms or fingers "directly". It's also enjoyable - and lends itself to progress that you can actually "feel" in each workout (those of you that do train the grip hard know what I'm referring to). And herein lies the catch - because it's uncomplicated and enjoyable to do, you run the risk of actually overdoing it, and overtraining.
I recommend direct grip work only AFTER your regular workouts, and not during them. The reason for this is that if you pre-exhaust your grip before your other exercises (that also require a strong grip), your performance will naturally go down on those exercises. I've done this before myself - I've done grip work before my pull-ups, and noticed how my numbers go down (drastically, for some variations) if I've pre-exhausted the grip. So, train your grip AFTER your workout for best results.
Second, make sure NOT to overdo it - do NOT think you can train your grip super hard each workout, and still hope to keep improving. It can't be done, and I know this from personal experience. In fact, much like with any other body part, your performance/gains will actually start to go DOWN if you train the grip excessively, so beware of this. A good thumb rule would be to train the grip hard three times a week and no more.This is by no means written in stone - but it's a general rule that those who train regularly would do good to abide by.
Third, and most importantly - it is VERY EASY to overtrain the grip - so easy that you might not even realize it. Make sure not to do 10 sets of timed hangs after that pull -up session daily, or if you do so, only do so twice a week. The forearms are used a lot in daily life as well, so it makes sense to let them rest, recover and grow - just like the rest of your body.
Keep those three guidelines in mind while training the grip, and you'll be on the right track. I cover this topic in far more detail in Fast and Furious Fitness - be sure to grab a copy!
Alright, enough for this email. Gotta get back to work on a new "Fast and Furious" project I'm working upon. . .
Be well, and if you train today - make it a GREAT one!
PS: Our online ordering system is back up and running, so there's really no more excuses not to reserve your copy of Fast and Furious Fitness. Go HERE to do so.
One easy way for me to answer this would be to tell you to simply do the exercise, so you can find out on your own. As in, DO the thing, and you'll find out what is better - or, more importantly, what works better for you. And that would be a perfectly legitimate answer - actually DOING the exercises yourself, and figuring out what works best will actually give you far more insightful answers that I (or anyone else) ever could.
I talk more about doing what works best for you in Fast and Furious Fitness, but for today, I'll delve into the topic myself and share MY feelings with you. And if I were asked this question, my answer would be a combination of "to each his own" and "both have their place".
Now, why do I feel this way?
First, training correctly rarely falls into the "black and white category", where everything is either RIGHT, or WRONG. No, that's not it - much like life, training questions, complications and everything associated with it is a "grey area", in that one usually has to find a middle path (while keeping certain basics in mind) - there is no absolute RIGHT or WRONG.
Second, both exercises are great for upper body development. Both develop a deep, powerful chest, a strong upper back - and also develop the shoulder muscles in their entirety. Both require very little equipment (pushups require NONE), and both can be used to craft together workouts that will have you huffing and puffing in no time flat.
But, both have their unique benefits. Pushups can give you far more of a cardiovascular workout than dips do, and involve the legs and lower back as well - as opposed to dips, which mostly use the upper body musculature. Dips, on the other hand are much harder to do correctly for most people, and can be used to get an excellent strength workout, while also getting cardiovascular benefits. Pushups have far more variations than dips do (that I know of), but modify the regular bodyweight dip a little, and you have a whole new exercise that will tax you far more than most pushup variations will.
And both have their place as well - those with shoulder issues may want to avoid dips and start off with pushups. Those who are already at a certain level of strength and fitness may want to start off with an advanced variation of the dip, and concentrate more on that. As I said - DO the exercise, and you'll find out.
So in closing - both are excellent exercises that have their own place, and their own benefits. Do the exercise, find out what works best for you, and thats pretty much all that you need to do (and that little bit applies to ALL of your training as well).
Long answer to a pretty short question, but that's MY take on it. Write in, and let me know YOUR take on it!
PS: You can read more on pushups and dips HERE.
PS#2: For even greater detail, Fast and Furious Fitness is what you need to be reading.
Most people aren't entirely clear on what exactly isometric exercises entail. And that's understandable, as they are rarely discussed or talked about in the "muscle media" these days. Let's take leg training as an example: - I mean, how often have you seen a personal trainer advocating exercises where you stay in a certain position and don't move, as opposed to doing an "accepted" exercise such as the "leg extension" (which is actually an awful exercise in my opinion)?
Briefly then, isometric exercises are those in which you hold your body in a certain disadvantaged position, and hold for time. They also encompass exercises wherein you push or pull against an immovable object, thereby building a type of strength in the muscles, ligaments, joints and tendons that you wouldn't while doing other exercises.
Isometrics can be a great way to develop one's strength and endurance in certain positions. Done correctly, isometric exercises can also help strengthen muscles that are weak to "get them up to speed" for other exercises.An oldie, but goodie, is holdiing the "chair" position against a wall. This one is simple - simply find a wall, line your back up against it, and then "sit" down such that you are forming a "chair" with the wall - and hold for time. Sounds simple enough to do? Not advanced enough? Well, I have this to say - TRY it before you knock it! Most folks canot do more than 10 seconds of this exercise - and remember there are far more advanced variations as well.
So, should you include isometric exercises in your program? Most definitely. However, I don't believe they should be the cornerstone of your program - nor should they be the "base" upon which you build.
There are many reasons behind this, but the #1 reason is that isometrics do not lend themselves well to "cardiovascular" training. Most of the exercises I advocate (and DO) ensure that you get a kick-butt strength-cum-cardio workout in very little time - but isometrics, due to the nature of the exercises don't quite fit the bill. Do them, and you'll see why I'm saying this.
As for me, I personally do not a LOT of isometric holds in my own training, but I'll include them sometimes just for a change. I'll do them sometimes at the end of my workout, or mix it up a bit and include some isometric holds in the middle of my workout (for a "rest"). And it works great for me.
So, bottom line - include isometric exercises into your routine, but don't rely solely upon them. Mix them into your routine wisely, and you'llstrengthen your muscles in a whole different manner altogether.
PS #1: You really should check out Fast and Furious Fitness if isometric training is something that interests you.
PS #2: We're going to have an online payment facility up on the site VERY SOON wherein you can order your product online and pay via credit card - stay tuned for this!
If your like most people, you probably think this one is not doable.
Most people have been conditioned to believe that any effective routine has to be somewhat long; for most people, this usually equates to an hour or more (and I'm not even talking about time spent driving to the gym, changing into workout clothes, et al). I have a hard enough time convincing folks that you CAN get a super workout in 15 minutes, 20 minutes at most.
And now, I'm talking about 5 minutes. That's right, everyone has five minutes to spare - and the margin for excuses just got way slimmer (no pun intended). Think about it - how hard is it to simply devote five minutes of your day to an activity that will more than justify the time spent on it?
FIVE minutes out of your daily routine is what you need to spare - and YES, you WILL improve your fitness in that period!
One of the keys to "5 minute fitness" is jumping rope. Jumping rope has been around for ages, but has inexplicably fallen out of favor with most people these days. This is bad news, as jumping rope is one of the most effective overall body workouts you can get. Your legs get a great workout from the constant jumping, and you chisel fat off your body with every jump. You also build solid, useful muscle all over your body - not to mention the deep breathing, which energizes your entire system. In fact, I did a very brief 15 minute routine today - which included rope jumps amongst other things, and I had nothing left by the end of it. And I feel absolutely GREAT now!
I cover rope jumping in Fast and Furious Fitness. Simply jumping rope on a regular basis is enough to transform you into a lean, fat burning machine, so incorporate it into your routine if you have not done so already.
Don't believe me? Try jumping rope for five minutes straight, and then tell me how you feel. I'll bet you feel a whole lot better - and if your a beginner, TWO minutes of continous jumping is likely all that you need before you can't go any further. Either way, you'll benefit tremendously from this one exercise alone.
PS: Jump on over HERE to grab your copy of Fast and Furious Fitness.
Regular readers of this blog will know that I suffered a nasty injury to my calf (and lower back) a week or so ago, mostly due to my own negligence. For those of you that missed it, visit this page and look for the "Listen to your body" post. This is a perfect example of me not doing the smart thing, and basically paying the price for it.
Anyway, took a week off my sprint training (and almost all other leg related training) due to this injury. Figured I'd give it at least a week to heal, so I can come back stronger. So, did that, about a week's passed, and the pain's abated to a great degree, so I thought I'd start to ease back into my sprint routine. Remember, I love training my legs - and sprints are one of my personal favorites, so you can imagine how frustrating it is for me to just have to sit back and not be able to even run, let alone sprint.
So, made it over to the park again this morning, and started to warm up in readiness for the sprint. Did a few "trial" runs, they didn't feel right though. Uh-oh, not good. . .Did my first "medium pace" sprint, and the calf started to complain again. Uh-oh, here we go again. . .Only this time, I'm a wiser person. I'm definitely NOT going to ignore my body's signals while "coming back" - so did a few brisk walks around the park instead (which I can do without any pain) and then did some other upper body exercises before calling it a day.
And that's what you need to do as well, when returning from injury (or if you're just starting out, or haven't exercised in ages). Listen to your body, and understand what it's telling you. It can be frustrating "sitting on the sidelines" not being able to do what you'd like, but as you can see from my experience, the consequences of ignoring your body's signals altogether aren't too pleasant.
You also need to judge your body's signals accurately. Not waking up on a cold morning to go running simply because "you cannot" is laziness despite what your body is telling you, but not running because of a genuine injury is reasonable and sensible, and you need to heed your body's advice on that one. Always remember that though your body's always telling you something, YOU are the ultimate judge here - and it is YOU that decides how to act upon those signals.
Do so wisely, and you'll ensure that you stay on the right track!
PS: Fast and Furious Fitness offers you many routines that will help you stay on track as far as your fitness is concerned.
Woke up around 9AM on a cold Saturday morning. Drank some green tea, and proceeded to get my workout in. 40 minutes later, I was exhausted and soaked in sweat - despite it being a COLD day - and I'm STILL feeling the effects of the workout a few hours later.
My exercise routine was "longer" than it normally is - that is, if you can call a 40 minute workout (with a bit of a break in between) "long". But remember, this was my TOTAL workout time - including warmups, and I had worked my ENTIRE body by the end of it. And today's Saturday, which means a rest day tomorrow (Sunday) and therefore an extra solid workout today.
I did the first 20 minute routine at home, and hammered my chest, arms and back pretty well (the core and the legs were taxed as well). The second one was done at the local park. This was more of a back, core and grip workout - by the end of it I could barely clench my forearms to make a fist, and I'm STILL feeling the effects while typing this a few hours later.
And the fantastic part about all this is that I got a good cardiovascular workout in as well. Not quite as good as if I'd have been sprinting (that one's still out for me as I haven't recovered from my injury fully), but still a decent cardiovascular workout. And this is of paramount importance. Remember, your heart and internal organs are just as important, if not MORE important than your "strength", so work both equally hard and preferably together.
Now I'm at home, preparing to "make a run" to the post office to ship a couple of copies of Fast and Furious Fitness out - yes, I'm handling that part of the business personally for now. Life's good - especially more so when you add in regular hard workouts!
Enough for now. This email contains two, nay, several important tips - see if you can find them.