Fat Loss, Pain & Metabolism

Welcome back!

If you’re a regular reader of this blog then it’s a sure bet that you are either looking to take back control of your body or are at least pursuing a leaner, more toned body.

It also means that you know that I believe that reconditioning or at least elevating your metabolism is the keyto achieving this.

Body Weight works well...

There are many definitions of metabolism the one I like is: “Metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that happen in living organisms to sustain life.”

However if you are carrying too much body fat, or want to develop more muscle and become stronger and fitter, not to mention healthier – then simply sustaining life isn’t the goal to aim for.  Just surviving shouldn’t be your standard. Changing how you look & feel, what you eat, how (& how often) you move basically moving past mere survival towards thriving, growing, exceeding, and surpassing – this is a worthy goal.

It is in fact a life goal.

Becoming fitter & leaner is as simple (& as complex) as the fact that the higher level your metabolism functions, the better become your results as far as fat loss and maintaining a slim, trim body. Notice I didn’t say the more efficient your metabolism becomes…(although it will of course do so)…in many ways we want our metabolism to stay somewhat irregular because once your body become efficient at anything homeostasis sets in and your body fights against change…

It is better to think in terms of elevating your metabolism by manipulating the components of it that we can exert influence over. Of course once you’ve achieved your desired fat loss / lean body then keep doing what got you there and create a new metabolic set point – this way you co-opt your body’s desire for homeostasis to work for your goal, not against it…

Metabolism is complex (& simple)

So let’s revisit some of the strategies that you can utilise to make your metabolism work at a higher rate for you…

Human metabolism can be broadly broken down into two parts: catabolism and anabolism. Catabolism is concerned with tearing things down – it is the burning of calories, the digestion of food, the breaking down of body tissues for energy or as a precursor to rebuilding (think sore muscles after a hard work out – for the sake of simplicity the muscle soreness you feel is associated with catabolic processes). It is essential the processes whereby your body fuels your cells with energy by breaking down available fuel sources.

Without the catabolic part of metabolism we would not have the energy to provide the energy to our muscles that is needed to stand, sit, move, breathe and generally create movement. It is often talked about in a negative sense but without catabolism we would just be inert sacks of chemicals & minerals.

The other side of this simplified metabolic coin is Anabolism. The anabolic side of the equation is the building part of our metabolism. Cell repair, muscle, hair, & nail growth are all anabolic processes. Basically anabolism takes energy and uses it to link / bind chemical compounds together to make larger molecules & cells.

In order to use these processes in your quest to become less fat, stronger & healthier you need to maximise both of them. For catabolism this means challenging, regular exercise that causes your muscles & other energy pathways to burn fuel like fat, carbohydrates, and sugars. For anabolism it too means challenging exercise coupled with protein and nutrient rich foods. The more intensely that you

Tabata protocol using KBs works both sets of muscles & burns fat...

train the more your metabolism elevates and more opportunities your body gains to shed fat and gain lean mass.

As we’ve seen intense training is not long duration training and more importantly training that uses protocols like Tabatas or HIIT tend to work a lot of muscles – and this is important for overall fitness, well being and fat loss.

Muscles are the furnaces that burn fat in your body. Muscles are numerous and together they have 2 general roles to play – mobility & stability. You know by now my preference for whole body workouts that use compound movements. Compound movements are important because they not only use the large muscles but they also activate and exercise the stabilising muscles. Stabilising muscles are an often overlooked component of movement & fat loss.

The larger muscles (think quadriceps, deltoids, pecs & lats) are called ‘prime movers’ and allow your body to move with what is called ‘Dynamic Mobility’– which is another way of saying through a full range of motion.

The stabilising muscles tend to be smaller, less obvious (even when developed) and lie deeper in the body & closer to the joints. Their role is to do as their name suggests – to stabilise. Stabiliser muscles like your shoulders rotator cuff, like your deep abdominals, like your infraspinitus and spinal multifidi all work to keep our bodies ‘together’ whilst it moves. Whether walking, pitching a ball, skiing a slope or sitting in a meal these muscles stop the actions of the prime movers from pulling us apart as we move dynamically. They are in use all of the time and as such are major (but oft times unsung) users of energy.

Working both types of muscles is important for another reason – if the Prime Movers become too strong &

Stress releases cortisol - belly fat anyone!!??

overwhelm the stabilising muscles then we begin to collect injuries – often chronic ones. Or if the stabilisers become weak then the Prime Movers have to pull ‘double duty’ and act not just as movers but also as stabilisers. This type of overload can lead to joint dysfunction and pain. Note I mean pain, not the soreness that accompanies a good workout, but deep lasting hurt!

Pain is read by your body as a source of stress and causes it to release stress hormones like cortisol which not only blunts anabolic metabolism but also directs fat storage to the belly area.

Chronic muscle imbalance = Pain = more belly fat.

 So in order to avoid this you’ve got to move often, move intensely, & move well. This means using compound movements (think Olympic style lifts) with activities like sprinting and walking.

To get the most out of your metabolism, both in terms of catabolism & anabolism your training should involve training intensely in a way that is without pain. Chronic Pain will constantly undermine the effectiveness of your workouts and pull your metabolic levels down.

See you next week.

Metabolism – What it is & How you can make it work for you Part 1

The next few posts on this blog will be all about giving you a solid understanding of what your metabolism is, what affects it and how you can make it work for you.

The information here will give you a better working knowledge of those parts of your metabolism that you exert some direct control over, those you can exert some indirect control over and those you just have to live with!

Having a fast metabolism means more than exercising...

If you have ever felt like you’re fighting a losing battle to shed pounds, in a sense you are.

Metabolism is NOT just about energy in versus energy out.

In our primitive past our bodies evolved so that we could store energy as fat in times of plenty (feasting) so that we are able to survive in times of scarcity. In these modern times we feast and then feast again without ever really enduring times of scarcity where food becomes rare and starvation looks likely. So this survival mechanism keeps storing energy as fat against hard times that frankly most modern humankind will never experience.

That creates problems for us because our bodies are basically fat storage machines. Very efficient ones.

The Body Shape Shifters philosophy is based around the idea of reconditioning your metabolism through a strategic mix of exercise, diet and hormone manipulation. A high metabolic rate means that we use the nutrients from our food more efficiently, maintain healthy body composition (lower fat and higher muscle levels) longer, feel better, think clearer and live healthier lives overall

What is Metabolism?

Beginning with birth and ending at death, our body receives the energy it needs to fuel itself through the processes of metabolism.

Yep - it can appear complex...

Metabolism is an umbrella term that covers the non-stop chemical processes that operate to keep our bodies functioning. Your Metabolism is primarily 2 things:

1)      The rate at which your body uses energy to support all of the basic functions that are essential to sustain your life,

2)      Plus all of the energy requirements for needed for additional activity and digestive processes.

Think of it this way – just being alive requires energy so when we talk about Metabolism it includes standing, sitting, sleeping, running, jumping, breathing, eating, digesting, having a beating heart, growing new cells, hair, skin, muscle and bone. So when we talk about our metabolic rate we are talking about the rate at which our bodies are burning the calories / kilojoules we have stored and that we get from food.

Your metabolism burns calories / kilojoules all the time, whether you’re just sitting on the couch or you’re jogging around the block. Even while we sleep our metabolism is working.

Every process that takes place in our body ultimately gets the energy to do so from the food we eat. The food we eat is broadly made up of Carbohydrates, Fats or Proteins with some micronutrients in the form of vitamins & minerals. (More detail on the effect that different nutrients have on our metabolism in later posts.) The amount of calories your body burns at any given time is regulated by your metabolism. In other words, it’s not just about burning up the food we eat, but about how the various nutrients from that food are used to help us maintain a healthy body.

There are two primary metabolic processes that take place in your body:

Catabolism – this is the breakdown of food components such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats into

No! Not that sort of anabolism!!

their simpler forms, where they are then used to create energy which can be turned into heat or burned up by your cells. This can also mean the breakdown of body tissue like muscle in the absence of other fuel sources. Catabolism is the destructive phase of metabolism, and the critical partner to anabolism, as they rely on each other to do their specific jobs. Digestion is a catabolic process that breaks your food down into smaller particles that can then be used in anabolism.

Generally characterised as ‘bad,’ catabolism is an essential part of our metabolic processes.

Anabolism – means growth or storage so energy is stored as glycogen in the liver & muscles, in fat cells (once the glycogen stores are full) or used to help build and repair structures of the body. It is most often associated with muscle growth. Anabolism is the constructive phase of metabolism, as it produces all of the substances needed in our body for it to grow, maintain and repair itself.

These two processes are carefully monitored by our body to make sure they remain in balance. However our diet, our environment and our type & amount of daily activity can all affect them both.

Ultimately our metabolism is controlled by hormones (think chemical messages that trigger processes) and by our nervous system. Hormonal problems, our physical environment and genetic disorders can all affect our metabolism. Whilst we cannot control our metabolism per se, we can make it work for us.

In part, Hormones determine how much of each of these you have...

Studies conducted by Spennewyn in 1990 found a number of strong correlations between lean mass and metabolism based on indirect calorimetry measurements. Spennewyn discovered that lean tissue in men and women required approximately 16 calories per pound per day. This means that once a person’s lean mass is known then it can be multiplied by 16 to reveal ball park daily caloric needs based on the activity level of the individual. This method has been used in many gyms, health clubs and dietician settings to determine daily caloric needs. It is not perfect.

Where is the energy used?

Energy expenditure for your body is roughly broken down like this:

  • Liver 27%
  • Brain 19%
  • Heart 7%
  • Kidneys 10%
  • Skeletal muscle 18%
  • Other organs 19%

To shift our shape by getting rid of fat we need to understand the ways & the speed with which we burn the calories from the food we eat. We cannot necessarily speed up all of your metabolic processes but we can make them more efficient.

Well that’s the basic stuff out of the way – next week we get into some terms to know and then the 4 components of your metabolism & how you can affect them for your benefit.

Be well.

My Gym Program to Shed Fat – Fast!!!

Welcome Back!!

Last time I listed 30 something reasons to get in shape if you are over 30 and this time I want to look at the use of exercise as a major component of getting into shape  – or staying there once you’re happy with how you look.

The first type of program uses barbells & dumbbells and pretty much needs a gym so you can access enough weight to really challenge yourself. If you are already set up at home so much the better….

But what if I don’t go to the gym I hear you ask? Don’t worry – I have info on how to use body weight workouts in the next blog post.

Not many of us can afford to set up a home gym with this much equipment

We all know that diet is 80 – 90% of fat loss and that you cannot out-train a poor one.

So let’s assume that you’ve reduced your calories and are eating nutrient dense but calorie sparse foods. That you are eating clean – lots of protein and low GI carbs, few processed foods, no transfats and you’ve come as close to eliminating High Fructose Corn Syrup from your diet as humanly possible. You’ve also added spices like cinnamon & capsicum to your diet, drink green tea and use protein shakes as a means to keep your body feeling full and also staying in positive nitrogen balance. In other words you’ve got your fat loss diet sorted.

Now we need to get the exercise part firing, this is one of my preferred routines.

Now as we have discussed in previous posts – once our bodies sense a cut in calories it immediately begins to preserve (and if possible) add to fat stores. It also begins to burn muscle for fuel once glycogen stores are depleted – result; a slower metabolism and more body fat.

You can combat this though – by convincing your body that it needs to maintain if not add to your muscle if it is to survive. And we do that by lifting heavy weights and then following this up with a Metabolic conditioning / HIIT style workout.

No more than hour is needed to get great results

The total workout should take no more than an hour with 30 minutes spent on the strength / muscle preservation side and the final 30 spent on reconditioning & firing up your metabolism with some HIIT circuits.

Your goal has to be to maintain lean muscle and to max strength when you are reducing calories. The best exercises to use for this are compound (ie multijoint) ones like Squats, Deadlifts, Overhead Presses and weighted Chin Ups. (You’ll note the absence of the bench press – this is deliberate as I & many others believe that it is not as effective as overhead presses, creates strength imbalances in the shoulder girdle and often causes shoulder injuries)

So in order to preserve your muscles and build strength you use this program:

  1. 1. Deadlifts paired with Overhead presses on Day 1
  2. 2. Squats paired with Pull ups (weighted if possible) on Day 2

The reason that pullups and deadlifts aren’t paired together is that they’re both challenging to your grip and will weaken it. A weak grip means that you can do fewer reps or use less weight so by splitting them apart your grip only gets ‘hit’ with 1 exercise each session. (Note – if you can’t do weighted chin ups don’t worry – do as many as you can in each set. Once you get strong enough to do 10 from ‘dead hang’ with good form then add some weight and drop your reps back to 3 or 4 and work back up)

On each day you do the following metabolic condition workout:

You WON'T be using any of these - they don't work!!

  1. 1. Dumbbell Squat and Presses
  2. 2. Jumping Jacks
  3. 3. Dumbbell Bench Step-ups with Bicep Curl (do reps for each side)
  4. 4. Squat Thrusts
  5. 5. Dumbbell Walking Lunges (do reps for each side)

Go through 10 – 15 reps of each exercise pausing only long enough to swap weights until you’ve completed one circuit. Rest long enough to get your breathing down ( 2-3 minutes) and repeat 3-5 times.

The goal of this style of training for the second 30 minutes of each workout is to get your metabolism really ramped up so that you create a strong EPOC and continue to burn fat as fuel for hours after the workout is done.


Firstly warm up with some Jumping Jacks followed by walking lunges, then shoulder swings, some push ups and some body weight squats. Not a lot, just enough to get the blood flowing and the joints lubricated.

Then set up your barbells for the deadlift and the overhead press. Put enough weight on each bar so that you can only do 5 -6 fast reps of each exercise with good form.

Don't forget to warmup first

Speed is important as it engages more muscle fibres, fires up more mitochondria ( the fat burning furnaces in each cell) and builds more strength. Good form matters as injury will slow if not halt your progress. Always err on the side of caution.

Then do 3 – 4 sets in circuit fashion (3 reps of Deadlifts, rest long enough to get your breath back, then 3 reps of Overhead Press, rest long enough to get your breath back then back to Deadlifts again and repeat for 3-4 times)

That is the first part of the workout on day 1, next you move to part 2 which is the metabolic circuits.

For these you need to set up several sets of different dumbbells. You need different weights as you will be able to handle different ones depending upon the exercise. For example you can hold a larger weight for the walking lunges than you can curl on the step ups. Again aim for speed with good form.

Put your equipment back and go home and eat a meal high in protein, moderate carbs and low fat. Because you are trying to drop bodyfat you should NOT go the high carb route. That works when you are already lean and certainly enhances muscle growth, but if you are carrying body fat your metabolism is still primed to store carbs as fat…

Then you come back on day 2 and do the squats & Chin Ups followed by the same metabolic workout.

For best results, and if you are up to it you should workout 6 days a week, alternating Workout 1 with Workout 2.

Over a week it would look like this:

Day 1- Deadlifts & Overhead Presses + Metabolic Conditioning Exercises

Day 2- Squats & Chin Ups + Metabolic Conditioning Exercises

Day 3- Deadlifts & Overhead Presses + Metabolic Conditioning Exercises

Day 4- Squats & Chin Ups + Metabolic Conditioning Exercises

Day 5- Deadlifts & Overhead Presses + Metabolic Conditioning Exercises

Day 6- Squats & Chin Ups + Metabolic Conditioning Exercises

Day 7 – Rest

Follow this program for 6 weeks with a clean metabolism boosting diet and you’ll see great results. Make no mistake though – this is hard work and should be challenging!!

Results come to those who work at it!!

If however you are just starting out you should aim for working out 3 days a week with a 2 week program that looks like this:

Day 1- Deadlifts & Overhead Presses + Metabolic Conditioning Exercises

Day 2- Rest

Day 3- Squats & Chin Ups + Metabolic Conditioning Exercises

Day 4- Rest

Day 5- Deadlifts & Overhead Presses + Metabolic Conditioning Exercises

Day 6- Rest

Day 7 – Rest

Day 8- Squats & Chin Ups + Metabolic Conditioning Exercises

Day 9- Rest

Day 10- Deadlifts & Overhead Presses + Metabolic Conditioning Exercises

Day 11- Rest

Day 12- Squats & Chin Ups + Metabolic Conditioning Exercises

Day 13- Rest

Day 14- Rest

If you use the 14 day cycle aim to do it for at least 8 weeks then switch to the 6-days a week one foe another 4.

Well there you have it – follow this program with a clean diet and the fat will certainly disappear.

See next time when we’ll look at why bodyweight workouts can deliver excellent results – even without gym equipments.

Be well.

30 Something Reasons to Get in Shape for 30 Something+ Year Olds……

Hi & Welcome back!!

I have put together a list of what I believe are the most compelling reasons for the over 30’s (not to mention over 40’s or my mob – the over 50’s) to get in shape and stay there.

In shape - but not for most of us mere mortals

Being in shape for me means that I have a low & age appropriate body Fat %, I feel strong and have muscular endurance, that I hold a reasonable cardio endurance, can touch my toes and have a good general flexibility. It is my firm belief that getting better in the these areas will see you able to live and enjoy a fuller life. (You’ll also LBN!!)

So to get or to stay in great shape her are 30 something reasons…


Let’s clear up LBN – LBN means Look Better Naked. With a lower fat percentage, some muscle and more importantly the confidence that comes with being in shape you can’t help but LBN!

Reduces Cholesterol

Increasing research is showing that this is not the bad boy it has been painted as for the last few decades, but nonetheless too much LDL (Low Density Lipoproteins) is still not a good thing to have going on and regular exercise (especially Interval style – see earlier posts) has been proven to reduce LDL levels whilst increasing HDL ( High Density Lipoproteins) – the good cholesterol.

Not everyone can get in this shape - but we can improve our own!!

You’ll Sleep Better

Lack of sleep increases the release of cortisol and cortisol promotes fat storage especially around your belly. ( no cortisol is not bad – but too much of it is!) Regular challenging exercise helps you get to sleep quicker and to sleep longer and more deeply. It also reduces the release of stress related hormones like cortisol and promotes the release of HGH ( Human growth Hormone) This hormone is often called the ‘Fountain of Youth’ hormone due to its effect on your body’s fat stores ( it cuts them) your lean tissue (you get more muscular) and your over all health.

You’ll feel better about yourself

Just working out regularly and getting in shape makes you feel better about yourself. We can’t all look like Brad Pitt in Troy or Angelina in… (Well ladies insert your favourite here!) but we CAN make of ourselves the best we can. Doing this enables to feel more in control of our lives and being in shape for ourselves will give a confidence boost.

Physical appearance isn’t everything,  but by getting into better shape you’ll look better, and this will improve your confidence.

Your Blood Pressure will reduce

Stress, lack of sleep, poor diet – all contribute to high blood pressure – a recognised killer. Getting in shape not only reduces your blood pressure but can actually prevent it from either re-occurring or taking place in the first place!

Your won’t ache or hurt as much

One of the most common (and in many cases debilitating) complaints of the over 30’s ( & it sharply increases for each 5 year increment above this in the general population) is back pain – usually lower back pain. Years of sitting actually shortens certain muscles & tendons resulting in constant & additional pressure on our lumbar region. General lack of movement and no weight bearing exercise weaken muscles generally. This combines to the dreaded ‘throwing your back out’…

You won't need one of these if you are in shape...

Simply by lifting weights, moving more and sitting less can & does reduce this. Getting in shape with the strength & flexibility can eradicate it completely or at lest reduce it to more manageable levels. A large number of studies show that exercise is an effective treatment for recurrent low back pain.

You’ll suffer fewer injuries

Getting in shape & developing a strong, fit body will see your injury numbers decline severely. Not just back pain, but twisted ankles, stubbed toes, sore shoulders and neck pain – but general aches & pains all decrease the fitter and more in shape that you are.

You’ll be able to stand in the one spot longer (important in supermarkets, cinemas, at parades, in Church or just life in general…

You’ll reduce your chances of getting some types of Cancer

There are a number of studies that show regular exercise and low body fat equal a lesser chance of developing a number of cancers – particularly bowel, colon and breast cancers. In some cases the studies suggest being in shape & regularly exercising reduces some cancer risks by up to 40%.

You’ll have a faster Metabolism (my favourite)

By now you know that this blog is primarily about ways to recondition your metabolism so you shed fat, get fitter and enjoy much better health. I’m not going to labour the point here – by getting in shape will recondition your metabolism meaning that you heal faster and burn calories more efficiently & effectively. A faster metabolism carries a host of health benefits.

You’ll recapture some ‘lost’ Range of Motion

Getting in shape & working out with a strategic program will help you rediscover the joys of being able to

Range of motion - not everyone wants this much, but you can get more...

touch your toes, scratch your back and other many other  lost ranges of motion.

Nowhere else is it truer that if you don’t move it you’ll lose it as in the area of flexibility.

Becoming more flexible reduces joint stiffness, can assist with arthritis pain and also adds to reducing injury occurrence.

Your Functional Strength will improve

Functional strength is one of those terms that has become more of a marketing handle than a real descriptor of a real thing. However true functional strength means that you have the strength & power to do the things you need to each day in your life.

It can be carrying groceries, lifting a child, getting out of a chair, digging a garden bed, riding a bike, painting a ceiling, push starting a car or… you get the idea.

Being in shape improves your quality of life because you have the ability to do the things in your life.

You’ll improve your Insulin Sensitivity

Insulin sensitivity is the degree to which your body (primarily muscles) is able to receive and glucose from your bloodstream. Insulin resistance means that more & more insulin has to be released by the pancreas leading to increased fat storage, or in extreme cases (which are becoming less rare in these days of obesity) a loss of the ability to produce sufficient insulin at all. Yep – dose dependent diabetes…

Being in shape with a more efficient metabolism & lower body fat improves insulin sensitivity and can prevent the development of type 2 (often called adult onset) diabetes.

You can find a few out of the 168 hours each week to get in shape

With 168 hours each and every week we can all find 3 or 4 of these to use to get in and stay in shape. The benefits are too many to ignore and the results too important to miss out on because ‘Dancing with the Stars’ is on.

If you have to, make your workouts an appointment in a diary. Just find the time…

You’ll have a higher desire for Sex

No not enough that you’ll develop sex addiction, but being in shape & LBN certainly raises the sex drive of both males & females.

Part of it is better circulation, part of it is increased body awareness and feeling more in control of your body and a large part of it is improved hormone health. Regardless – getting or being in shape certainly improves the bedroom…

Heart Atack and more diseases either in progress or about to start...

You’ll Decrease your Risk of Heart Disease

Challenging exercise exercises the heart like any other muscle and like any other muscle regular exercise improves the hearts strength & responsiveness to the demands placed on it.

Contractile strength improves and with higher HDL & lower LDL your risk of heart disease drops. A lot.

You’ll get a kick out of exercise

Challenging exercise releases a number of ‘feel good’ hormones (think runners high) that elevate our mood, lift depression, decrease the effects of stress and poor sleep and have been proven to make us happier.

This effect is even more marked when you make at least a part of your exercise program an activity that you love to do. It can be ballroom dancing, squash, tennis, a martial art, yoga – whatever. When you have at least 1 regular activity of your exercise program as something you love you overall enjoy getting & staying in shape more. And you smile more – a lot more.

You’ll likely live longer

Folk who are in shape tend to live longer, have better health and less disease & injury. At the very least they experience a better quality of life.

You’ll develop (rediscover) better balance and Coordination

This sort of ties in with suffering less injuries if you are fit – but if you are in shape & working out regularly your kinaesthetic awareness (your mental awareness of your body’s place in the space around it) improves. You’ll trip less often, bump into less and find that you drop things less often.

Well maybe not this much more balance (unless you want to work for it!!)

Even better – for the older ones of us – you’ll be less likely to fall – and for anyone in their late 50’s on falls is a major health problem …

You’ll reduce your chance of Osteoarthritis

Weight bearing exercise coupled with moving more means stronger bones. Period. Calcium supplements have their place and so does diet but if you want strong bones move some weight and get stronger than you are today.

Your gut will work better

Getting in shape means more efficient processing of the food you eat. It means reduced risk of ‘over 40’s’ diseases such as diverticulitis, gastrointestinal haemorrhage, and inflammatory bowel disease; for everyone else it means a decreased incidence of constipation.

Getting in shape is not just for cosmetic external purposes – a reconditioned metabolism means everything works better.

Your weight will change

Getting in shape means dropping body fat and developing some muscle. Scales don’t count because muscle weighs more than fat, but the mirror, your partner’s reactions and how your clothes fit do.

Your body will use more fat as fuel

Regular exercise tends to improve your body’s ability to use fat as fuel. This is a good thing as is unfit folk our bodies have a tendency to store fat and breakdown muscle for fuel once glucose is depleted.

Even better – unhealthy fat stores like belly rolls and love handles, visceral (internal) fat can not only be prevented but heavily reduced if not wiped out by getting in shape.

You’ll get sick less often

Your entire Immune System will improve...

Being fit means a stronger immune systems and this translates into less illness – fewer colds, quicker recovery from the ‘flu and generally better health.

You’ll focus better

Another truth about moving into the above 30 age bracket – our ability to focus , concentrate and multitask begins to drop. A lot. By your 50’s it can be beginning to become a real issue.

A better supply of oxygen & nutrients to the brain due to improved circulation from regular exercise not only arrests this mental decline, but can on occasion reverse it.

You’ll have loads more energy

Exercising regularly improves your body’s utilisation of food and the performance of its various energy systems. Net result? A real increase in energy levels.

More energy means better quality of life and more engagement in living – to good to miss!!

You’ll reduce the chance of developing Alzheimer’s

Remeber when you had this much energy??!!

Although this is likely tied to improved circulation of oxygen & nutrients to the brain, getting in shape through challenging & regular exercise appears to keep your brain sharper and may reduce the chances of you developing not only Alzheimer’s disease but a number of other dementia type mental disorders.

It may be tied to the improved circulation and the increased amount of mental awareness required to partake of exercise or other physical activities. There is even some talk of the feel good hormones also playing a role…

In any case the research is ongoing but is too good to ignore.

You’ll feel like you are reaching your potential

Being out of shape, fat, flabby and out o breath with no strength means that you cannot possibly be at your best. The world is a nastier place when you are out of shape and your internal landscape can come to resemble your outer one. Not healthy – physically or mentally.

By getting in shape, reconditioning your metabolism and losing ft you transform into you Ver 2.0 – a better version of yourself.

The Greeks used to say ‘Healthy body, Healthy mind’ – and the more we learn about how our bodies work and how they integrate with our emotions and thought process the more correct the Greeks seem to be.

Undertaking a physical transformation will improve your mental, emotional, and spiritual state; and upgrade your quality of life.

From the appearance of your skin, to your overall body shape, to how well your metabolism works, how you think or shrug off illness – just about every physical attribute you posses gets better when you’re in shape.

Set them up for a better quality of life

You’ll set a good example for your kids (or grandkids, or…)

By taking charge of your shape & fitness and being committed to it you will also help your kids to develop similar habits. Being in shape has so many health benefits that if you can influence by example your children you could literally be reducing the amount of stress, pain & illnesses that they will suffer in their lives. A helluva a good reason to get & stay in shape as far as I am concerned…

(If you like this list and have sedentary friends then shoot them a copy of this blog – it just might get them moving.)

Please leave a comment below and I’ll see you next time…

Insulin – not the bad guy we thought???

Hi & Welcome back!!

For years Insulin has been painted as the bad guy hormone – you know the one that takes blood sugar and then shunts it off to be stored as fat.

Thing is, this is only partially correct. The real issue for most of us in the Western world insulin resistance coupled with too many processed high GI carbs. In fact becoming more insulin senstive will help us lose fat, build muscle and have a more efficient metabolism.

Insulin Sensitive or Resistive??

Traditional Nutritionists & Dieticians, despite the mountains of research to the contrary,  all seem to believe that fat loss is as simple as subtracting X calories from your daily intake and Hey ! Presto! Instant 6 pack abs! Be nice if it was true and would fat loss a whole lot easier and Gyms & weight loss centres would rapidly be rolling out lean, athletic women & men.

Just imagine the world we would be living in if all it took was the application of some simple arithmitic applied to a total calorie count. <sigh> never going to happen.

Let’s not make any mistake here though – a pound of fat is still 3500 calories and to lose fat you still have to achieve some form of calorie deficit in order to do so. In fact no mater how hard you train you can’t outperform a bad diet – or one that overloads you with calories that you just don’t need.

But this is only a part of the overall strategy that we need to use to achieve our desired outcome –  a leaner body that LBN and has a revved up metabolism.

Part of this strategy is understanding the metabolic and hormonal effects of food and then using  these effects in a tactical plan to achieve our goals.

Insulin Sensitivity

The single most important hormone when it comes to body recomposition is – Insulin. Yep the ‘bad guy’. Y’see Insulin is the most anabolic(repair & growth) and anti-catabolic (tear down) hormone that we have.

Insulin improves amino acid uptake by muscle tissues initiating protein synthesis promoting growth & repair. It also acts to prevent amino acids (the building blocks of our bodies) whether from food or our hard earned muscle from being used as a reserve fuel source when calories are cut below what our body has become to view as the ‘norm.’

Trustworhty fat loss advice? I don't think so...

Insulin also has a ‘dark side – under the right conditions, it is also the most lipolytic (fat storing) hormone in the body, shuttling fatty acids and glucose to fat cells for fat storage.

A logical approach to fat loss is one that moves you to a low-carb diet that is used to reduce calories and at the same time minimise insulin release so you avoid fat storage. This is right on the money if you are overweight, have a low activity level and are likely insulin resistant (or well on the way to being so). This covers the majority of the population these days.

It is also the way to go if you are over 40, a Type II diabetic or suffering from Syndrome X. I agree except that I am NOT an advocate of low carbs, but an advocate of low processed carbs for fat loss.

However no hormone is completely bad and the above approach is an incomplete one. If you work out hard on a regular basis, create a calorie deficit whilst eating nutrient dense foods – then moderate amounts of insulin is a positive thing. Why?

Because  insulin helps your body to maintain muscle the leaner you get. So you can strip off fat and keep or build muscle. The key is the complete approach of training, diet and food types.

However if you are overweight, sick, obese, a sedentary worker on the slope to Type II then your diet should not be the same as for someone who is active, lean and nowhere near becoming a diabetic of any persuasion.

In utilising insulin’s positive side – one size does not fit all.

If your body is insulin sensitive then you can have a higher amount of carbs in your diet because you will get the anabolic effects of this hormone. Again my belief is that you should avoid as many processed carbs as possible, but if you have some and are Insulin sensitive the efects will less likely to go to fat storage.

All carbs but not much goodness here...

If your body is insulin resistant, then higher carbs will mean that suffer more of its’ lipolytic (fat storing) effects. Simply – high GI & processed carbs should be a muich smaller part of your diet if you are insulin resistant.

So if you want to recompose your body you need to look at ways to increase your insulin sensitvity and reduce your insulin resistance.  Becoming more Insulin ‘Sensitive’ as opposed to resistant should be a goal right up there with resistance training, metabloic conditioning and eating lots more protein.

So in addition to focussing on cuting out high GI processed carbs we need to looking at ways to improve our bodies ability to utise them & insulin more efficiently.

Some easy ways to improving your Insulin Sensitivity.

1. Avoid mixing  ‘White’ Carbs with HFCS

All carbs aren’t be bad. All grain based carbs require at least some processing before humans can eat them. White carbs (flour, pasta rice – even the ‘healthy’ brown varieties) by themselves are not fat inducing. But combining these starches with sugars – especially fructose, and particularly HFCS – is downright evil.

Google High Fructose Corn Syrup and you’ll see that many researchers are now condemning the use of this sweetener as the major cause behind the obesity epidemic in the Western world. Americans partake of over 60 pounds a year…

Millions of our Asian brothers & sisters eat one of the purest starches out there aa a dietary staple – rice. By pure low carb thinking they should be the fattest folk on Earth. They’re not and in fact it is only when the traditional high starch / low sugar ratio becomes high starch / high sugar do we see obesity & diabetes rates rise in Asian populations.

The number one cause of obesity in the USA - HFCS

Guess which form of sugar has the worst effect on ALL humans? Got it in one – fructose, particularly HFCS.

Fructose is metabolised & processed by our bodies differently from glucose. There are now a heap of studies that indicate that fructose, NOT glucose, is the main culprit in table sugar that causes insulin resistance.

In animal studies increased fructose intake produced insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, high insulin levels, high triglycerides, increases in whole body inflammation and hypertension.

So to up your insulin sensitivity and to lower your insulin resistance – start by cutting out high fructose corn syrup, fructose sweeteners, sugar, sodas, processed fruit juices, fruit smoothies, and dried fruit. Then make sure that if you are having ‘white’ carbs ou are not mixing them with fructose – so watch cakes & cookie, pasta sauces and more. read your labels!!

Remember – never, ever combine white carbs with HFCS.

You can still eat 1-4 pieces of whole fruit a day is permissible – its fructose effects are ameliorated by the fibre (slows down digestion) and the presence of vitamins, minerals & antioxidants mean that fruit has more good than bad.

2. Increase your Omega 3’s

The ratio of your fatty acids is important to your overall health. We all know this. Just like we all know that our intake of Omega 6 is way higher than our intake of Omega 3 because of our use of canola oils etc etc.

Omega 3’s have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and have a host of other beneficial health effects. Cut down on the polyunsaturated oils, increase the olive oil, eat cold water fish, grass fed beef, lamb & take a fish oil supplement.

3. Add some Spice

This is a natural way to improve your Insulin Sensitivity...

Cinnamon has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity when a couple of grams a day are added to your diet. Numerous studies have shown it improves glucose uptake by the cells.

Oh yeah – it has to be cinnamon powder – not pop tarts or cinnamon donuts…

4. Have some Green Tea

Metformin is a prescription glucose dispersal drug that is given to folk in the pre-curser and then the actual type II diabetes stages.  It is expensive, and in the 90’s a lot of bodybuilders were using it. Why – well the role of any glucose dispersal agent is to mimic the effect of insulin in insulin resistant folk.

The good news is that green tea is also a glucose dispersal agent. So drinking 3 -5 cups a day can actually help improve your insulin sensitivity. Even better green tea’s action shows a distinct inclination towards pushing carbs to muscle cells and not to fat cells.

Sounds about perfect to me – and you don’t need a prescription!

5. Ditch the trans fats

Along with HFCS, trans fats are just about the worst substances that you can be ingesting. They are simply devastatingly bad for your health.

A mountain of research has shown that in addition to all of their other health destroying effects, trans fats also inhibit glucose dispersal and promote insulin resistance. They also have been shown to support preferential fat storage around the belly.

Check your labels and if you see trans fats or hydrogenated oils on them, find something else to eat.

Where do you sit on the low carb continuum?

Look if you are 20 or more pounds (10 kilos) above your fighting weight then the low carb (remember low processed High GI carbs!) is the best way to lose fat. Just be aware that apart from very fibrous carbs (like broccoli or spinach) you’re likely already very insulin resistant so just about any carbs you eat will end up being stored as fat unless you are doing regular challenging workouts and following the diet advice from previous blog posts.

The Research shows that the best approach for folk in this grouping to improve their insulin sensitivity is for them to lose body fat through low-carb / higher protein eating.

The good news is that the leaner you get the more diet options you have available to you.

A natural Glucose Dispersal Agent

If your  insulin resistance level is high, then your carb intake should be low. If your insulin sensitivity is high, then your carb  intake can be higher. Logically if your resistance / sensitivity is in the midle then modest carbs is the way to go.

Since insulin resistance is closely correlated with body fat so the fatter you are the fewer carbs you have. So if your body fat is above 20% for a male & 25% for a female – no carbs for you!! Well low GI carbs anyway in modest quantities.

If you run between 12 to 20 (or 25)% then you can up your carbs, especially if you are regularly working out.

Les than 10% – eat clean, but pretty much whatever you want.

So insulin has benefits as well as drawbacks and once again the negatives are tied to excessive processed carbs and trnsfats…

Be well, see you again soon.

Fat Loss Myths – Taken Apart – Part 2!

Welcome Back!!

Here is part 2 of our look at persistent but Oh so wrong Fat loss myths…

Myth: You should do very high reps to failure for fat burning…

Whilst there is a certain faux logic to this  idea it is plain wrong. Research shows that weight lifting / resistance training burns calories through muscle fibre recruitment. The more fibres recruited, the more energy you burn. So the key to cranking up your metabolism is to recruit as many muscle fibres as possible with each set.

You don't get results like these using 'Barbie' weights

Lifting light weights, even for 100 reps, does NOT recruit many muscle fibres. When you do high rep training you’re only working the smallest, weakest muscle fibres – these will have  little appreciable impact on boosting your metabolism.

By the same token lifting for maximum muscle fibre recruitment is brutally hard and not sustainable for most people long term. The answer is to use a mix of high weight low rep (3 – 6) training with the body builder rep range of moderate to heavy weight for 8 -12 reps. This way you recruit lots of muscle fibres but don’t drive yourself into the ground every time you train.

You can go hard, or you can go long. Going hard burns fat & build strength.

Myth: You don’t need to get stronger to get leaner.
This is really a follow on from the myth above – the stronger you are, the more muscle fibres you can recruit when you exercise. Stimulating as many muscle fibres as is sustainable with each set will ramp up the metabolic cost of your workouts. (Metabolic cost is a measure exercise scientists use to determine how many calories you’re burning up through exercise. It is also called TEA – Thermic Effect of Activity)

The higher the metabolic cost, the better for fat loss. The stronger you are the faster you can move and research shows that fast movement with heavy to moderate weights really gets the fat fires burning. Anyway – ever seen a fat sprinter?

Myth: All calories are equal – so eat less and you’ll lose weight…

A week of this or a week of Steak & salad - what would make you fatter??

This is correct all calories are equal – if you are looking at them as measurement of energy. (a calorie is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 litre of water 1 degree centigrade)

However if you are looking at them as food source types then – all calories are NOT equal. What is going to put more fat around your middle – eating steak & salad for a week or eating the same number of calories but as Hot Dogs, Fries & Ice cream? No prizes for guessing the answer here…

This is the kind of claptrap that far too many doctors & dieticians & nutritionists put out there – despite the mountains of peer reviewed, long term studies that all show that a calorie is not just a calorie. The source of the calories is important especially from a metabolic viewpoint.

Carbs, Fats & proteins are the macronutrient groupings (some folk add water to this list and I have friend who is convinced that alcohol belongs here – it doesn’t) and they all have a different effect on your metabolism.

The Thermic Effect of Food – how many calories your body has to use to process food – is different for each macronutrient. For Fat it is 2%, for carbs (depending upon type – fibrous or not) it is 4 – 6% and for protein it is a whopping 30%. That’s like getting a 30% discount on the calorie value of each piece of protein you eat.

It is the nutrients in the food we eat, not the calories, that stimulates (or slows) our metabolism. When you cut calories you slow your metabolism down because it is getting less of the nutrients it needs. Things like amino acids, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids  and so on. In all likelihood if you are eating the typical Western diet then your body is already slow metabolically because this diet is calorie dense but nutrient sparse.

If you eat less your body preserves fat and begins to burn muscle for food. Result – less muscle which means a slower metabolism. You can avoid this by simply choosing your calorie sources better. Replace low-quality foods like as bread, pasta, and rice with nutrient-dense foods such as berries, green vegetables, eggs and protein like fish.

Myth: You must eliminate entire food groups to see results.

In a word Bull!

A common misconception is that certain food groups should be avoided in order to lose weight. This is wrong and usually relates to either fat or carbs. The truth is that there are ‘good’ & ‘bad’ fats & carbs and the only elimination of foods that you indulge in should be to remove the ‘bad’ types of each.

Processed, denatured carbs like flour, cakes, cookie, commercial fruit juices, sweets, etc should be taken out of your diet or at least severely cut back. Any food that contains Trans fats (look for ‘partially hydrogenated oil’ on the food labels) has to be taken out of your diet and frankly anything you can identify as having High Fructose Corn Syrup (a cheap sugar but one which is processed differently in your body and leads to belly fat) should not even get into your trolley at the supermarket.

Elimination of some foods is good, of entire food groups is BAD!!

Eliminating all fats is also a furphy as excess calories from ANY nutrient source can and will be stored as fat by your body. So cutting out all fats just stops your body getting access to needed fats like Omega 3 fatty acids. This in turn has a number of anti-health effects. In truth every food group has its own benefits for example, carbohydrates are your body’s preferred energy source and fruit & veges deliver vitamins, minerals antioxidants, phytonutrients and more besides – all important for your well being. Protein provides the building blocks for your body – and the amino acids that make up protein is vital for bodily repair. Fats is important for joint lubrication, hormone creation and use, hair, nail & skin health.

It is very necessary to eat all macronutrients in proper proportion to promote weight loss.

Myth: You need to work out hard each day to see results.
Nope – fat burning, muscle growth and bodily repair all take place after you work out. The post-exercise period is when the benefits of working out accrue. This takes time and your body needs a mix of stress from exercise and periods of recovery so it come back fitter 7 stronger for the next round of exercise. Working out intensely every day does nothing more than drive you into the ground, reduce your recovery ability and slows your metabolism.

Knocking yourself out by overtraining will set you back...

Even worse, overtraining leads to your body releasing even more fat-storing hormones as a stress response. Cortisol has its uses but too much of it is a bad thing indeed if you are looking for fat loss….Lastly, being overtrained zaps your motivation and makes you more susceptible to illness and injury.

So train 4 – 5 times a week, no more.

Myth: There is a Magic Product that delivers Quick & Easy Fat Loss

Weight loss scams have been around forever and show no signs of going away. The sad but simple truth is that a strategically sound mix of diet and exercise is the only proven way to change your body composition and recondition your metabolism so it stays that way.

If you watch either late night or early morning TV you will see ads for all sorts of Pills, Powders, Potions, Fasts, Cleansing liquids, exercise tapes and miracle delivering fat loss machines that will completely transform your body in just a few weeks!

I like the 8 minute Abs one in particular – an abdominal 6-pack in only 8 minutes per day. Wow sounds great then I thought why 8 minutes? Why not 6 or 9 minutes or even 3? Although I have to say for sheer audacity and flimflam dressed up as pseudo science the Shake Weight and Toning Shoes come up close seconds…

The underlying message is that you can get in shape by being lazy and that if you don’t get the results they promise then it is your fault. It also appears that the money-back guarantee they offer is a safe bet for them – less than 2% of people return these useless gadgets for their refund. Either they can’t be

bothered packing it up or they are too embarrassed – after all most folk know that these things don’t work.

The supplement industry is even worse. In most countries – particularly the US of A, supplement companies are not regulated and don’t have to prove their claims. This is completely opposite for the pharmaceutical com

These don't work...

panies who have to prove the claims they make ( and we know how trustworthy they have proved to be despite government oversight and regulation…)

Pretty much supplement companies can tell you that their products will enable you to lose weight, get stronger, improve your heart health, think more clearly, perform better, reverse aging, get that loving feeling more often and their products don’t actually have to deliver a thing.

By feeding off people’s fears and vanity, by exploiting consumers and weak laws many of these companies are no more than clever marketers.

Folks, there is no easy way to get the body of your dreams if your idea of easy is just swallowing a pill in between handfuls of fries.  There is no easy way to work out if your idea of working out is to lie down on some machine looking for the ride of your life…and in 5 minutes a day.

In today’s society where the emphasis is I want it NOW!, the truth is too damn simple and too damn hard for most folk to follow – Work out hard and eat right  just doesn’t sound snappy enough. Thing is it is still the closest thing to the magic pill and machine we’ve got.

See you next time…tell your friends about us!!

Some Long Lasting Fatloss Exercise Myths – Taken Apart!!

Hi & Welcome back!

A few of you have been in touch with some questions about exercise & conditioning and where the truth lies so I though that I’d work our way through a few of the more common ones…

Myth #1 – Lifting weights will make Women look like a male Body Builder You’ll get big, bulky & ugly…

I wish that I had a $ for everytime that I have heard this one! It is a common concern of everywoman who joins a gym or reads about the importance of muscle in keeping fat levels down and metabolism high. Many believe that lifting challenging weights ( the best & only way to get quick & lasting results) will see them looking like a male bodybuilder in a few workouts time…

Not without 'Roids you won't...

Even worse it is a myth constantly reinforced and perpetrated by Aerobics, Spin, Tai Chi,Yoga, Zumba & Pilates instructors who should know better. A lot better.

Ladies – you DON’T have to worry about ending up looking like the Hulk! Seriously you don’t.

She doesn't look like Arnold... Nor would you


Well the truth is not only have female bodybuilders been training at elite levels for years but they have also ingested a large amount of anabolic steroids in order to increase their muscle mass. Non-steroid using women simply don’t have enough natural testerone to develop huge masses of muscle. You DO have sufficient naturally occurring testerone so that if you train intelligently you will develop strength, and curves.

Similarly for men – if you are not using steroids and you are past your teen years (the only time in a male’s life when his body has the perfect anabolic environment)  then you will have to train for years to build a lot of muscle mass – even with a man’s naturally higher levels of testerone. (although men’s T-levels are dropping in the Western world – but that’s a topic for another blog…)

Men & Women who are not drug assisted have to work damn hard for every ounce, every gram of additional muscle they gain through exercise. You don’t get leaner, curvier and stronger without working for it.

The benefits of anyone using a strategically sound workout regime are many, here are a few for women to consider:

  • Weight training increases bone density and is still the best way to avoid osteoarthritis
  • You become & stay leaner because your metabolism becomes  reconditioned and functions at a higher rate.
  • You get stronger and this carries over in everyday life and benefits everything from carrying groceries, hugging your kids, wresting your loved ones, lugging a TV to another room or just doing the necessary household chores. Research has also shown that becoming stronger reduces the incidence of falls in older women…
  • If you are a female athlete strength training reduces the incidence of injuries.
  • Your posture improves because the ‘anchoring’ muscles & tendons get stronger. You look more confident & alive, not stoped and old…

    Lift weights and you won't need to use one of these...

  • You become more selfconfident – few people in our comunity take the steps necessary to get in charge of their appearence & health but if you do not only do you feel more in charge of your life but you know that you are capable of things most folk can’t. My (much) better half Lynne is a 5’2″ Blonde who can deadlift 90+ kilos for reps and leg press a 150kg for a 100 reps. Not many men can do that (and you should see the looks on the faces of the males in the gym when she does…priceless) Now I am not suggesting that you want ot or have to move weights like Lynne does (she is competitve by nature), just that by using an intelligent strength training regime you will be able to do things most folk can’t and this will give your confidence a real boost!!
  • You look better and have a better shape. The usual path to fat loss for many women is long slow cardio and starvation diets which destroy muscle and leave you a smaller fat person. Strength training gives you curves and transform the composition of your body
  • You just look better dammit!!

Myth #2:  Long steady cardio in the ‘fat buring zone’ is what you have to do to burn fat

Think about this – everyday 1000’s of folk get in their car & drive to the gym to ride a bike walk a treadmill or climb some stairs…

Driving to the gym for a treadmill session is like this...

The issue here is not with the idea of using your aerobic energy system to stimulate fat loss. Cardio as in moving your body using large numbers of muscles, is a credible way to burn fat. The problem is that if you live in the real world long slow steady cardio takes a lot of time and is not that efficient. Plus its boring. If you have a life to live outside the gym then tradional slow cardio is not the best way to lose fat and get leaner.

The main issues with traditional cardio, often referrred to as ‘Chronic’ cardio by enlightened trainers) are:

  • It is time consuming and offers a poor return in terms of fat loss and health benefits for the time invested.
  • To burn 3500 claories (the amount in a pound of fat) you’d have to run at a 6 minute mile pace for 5 hours. So slow cardio can & does burn claories – but to burn a lot of calories you have to do it for a long time.
  • Then because you have been going steady as soon as you stop your metabolism drops right back to where it was before you hopped on the treadmill and you can forget about there being any significant post-exercise calorie burn.
  • Your body adapts to exercise induced stress. Very quickly. Particularly with long steady exercise. Just like water always travels downhill, your body is always looking for ways to conserve energy and making movement as efficient as possible is one way it does this.
  • Unless you subject your body to exercise which carries a high metabolic cost your body adjusts and becomes more efficient at any exercise  in short order.
  • When we want to lose fat we don’t want efficiency we want chaos and steep learning curves and inefficient body action. The more efficient your body becomes at any exercise the less energy it requirs to perform it. Less energy burned equals more fat retained!
  • Even HIIT training has to be changed around every few weeks as your body will adjust to it. With strength training it takes just 6 weeks for adaption & energy efficiency to occur…
  • So with traditional cardio in order to get the same results from the same exercise, you have to invest more time for longer & longer periods.
  • It just makes sense to use more using challenging cardio like sprints, bodyweight circuits or exercising using the Tabata protocol all work to keep your body off balance and raise the metabolic cost of exercise meaning more fat is burned.

    For Fat Loss this is NOT the best use of your time...

  • High injury rates – especially to the ankles, shins and knees. Any runner can attest to this, but so can any treadmill, stationary bike or stairclimber user. Long slow cardio promotes repetitive strain injuries – particulary on the weight bearing parts of our anatomy.
  • Research has shown that every foot fall when running creates the equivalent of 2.5 to 3 times our bodyweight on thelanding foot, arch, ankle, shin & knee. A slightly deviated gait can result in hip injuries.
  • Our bodies are designed to either move slowly over longdistances (like walking) or move rapidly over short ones (sprinting) – our joints, in our current historical times, seem to not be built to handle long periods of repetive running – especially on roads, pavements or treadmills. If you are carrying too much weight, the potential for injury just increases.
  • Did I mention steadt traditional cardio is boring?

Okay – I have just junked the idea of chronic, long, slow steady cardio – so what works? Metabolic conditioning, more specifically metabolic conditioning using a HIIT protocol.

Try these HIIT style for a real cardio workout...

The HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. The metabolic conditioning refers to exercises that combine elements of strength training with cardio. Performed correctly this rsults in short, sharp & very time efficient workouts that burn fat and lots of it. The metabolic cost ( calories burnt)of HIITMC is huge and the ‘afterburn’ – where your body keeps burning calories for hours after exercise ceases –  is significantly high.

HIITMC when done properly will make your lungs  feel like they are on fire, your heart is trying to climb up your throat and your body will want to return to its ‘normal’ state ASAP. In order to do this your body has to clear the fatigue products, rebuild affected muscle, replenish glycogen stores and a lot more besides. The only way it can achieve this is by ramping your metabolism up. Way up. In fact studies have shown a significantly elevated metabolisn for up to 38+ hours after this type of exercise session.

This means a couple of things – greater fat loss in less time than traditional cardio with the added benefits of strength training. HIIT style metabolic conditioning results in overall fat loss up to 220% that of traditional cardio.

If HIITMC is so good then why isn’t everyone using it?

There are a number of reasons why more people are not using HIIT MC for their fat loss:

  • Most people still think that ‘Aerobics’ or traditional cardio is the best way to lose fat.
  • Many Gyms & Personal trainers are in the business of keeping you coming back and don’t want to either deliver results too quickly or to scare you off. (Plus once you know how to do it you don’t need them or even their machines any more except for a bit of variety…)
  • HIIT MC is hard work. Real hard work.
  • If you are using a HIIT protocol correctly you won’t be having a chat to your work out buddy, or be able to read a magazine or change the song on your iPod. usually with HIITMC your focus is on getting to the end of the current timed interval and trying to get enough breath into your lungs.

Using HIITMC – your lungs burn, your muscles strain and your will is challenged. You will sweat. A lot. More than a lot. These are all good things as they show that you are getting your body to do what you want not allowing it to take the path of least resistance (which it prefers!)

You don't need a gym for a HIITMC workout...

A HIITMC session can be a simple as:

  • Doing 5 rounds of 3 exercises with 1 minutes break between rounds – push ups followed by pull ups followed by bodyweight squats is the classic combo.
  • Using ‘Ladders’ for exercises like burpees – do 1, stop, do 2, stop, do 3, stop. do 4, stop, do 5 etc until you do 10 then reverse the process and do 9, stop, do 8, stop until you get back to zero.
  • Going to the beach, marking out 50 yards / metres and doing 10 sets of sprints with 1 minute (or less) break between sets.
  • Do 10 sets of hill runs, resting only as long as it takes to walk back down between each set.
  • Doing 200 kettlebell swings with a challenging weight only stopping long enough on the way to catch a few deep breaths.
  • Use a leg press machine with a challenging weight and stay on it until you have completed a 100 reps.
  • Do push presses with light dumb bells to a Tabata protocol (20 secs activity, 10 sec rest for 4 minutes straight – this is 1 set – do 3)
  • Do a barbell complex – a series of exercises with the one weight done  for set reps without putting the weight down or resting until completed. That is one set. Do 3 or 4sets . (eg 6 reps of each with a 20 kiol barbell – deadlift followed by clean followed by overhead press followed by rear squat followed by good morings. Rest 2 minutes repeat)

Stairs are just as good as hills...

All of these are simple to do but not easy to accomplish. You should start off slowy and work up to the times and numbers suggested above. With any running begin by just jogging a few sets as your warm up. Depending upon how fit you are even this can be challenging…Then do some hamstring & quadricep stretches, ankle & knee circle and some hip swings to ensure your legs are ready – then go for it. You’ll hate me for it during the session and the next day or 2 but after 4 or 5 sessions you’ll be seeing strong results.
The real key here is to start slow, get command of the movement(s) and then do what you can, striving to add reps or distance to timed intervals each session depending upon the activity you have chosen. But give each interval, each set, each round your all – go at it 100% once you have mastered the activity and the fat will go.

Because of the metabolic costs involved never use HIITMC for more than 20 to 25 minutes per session or do more than 4 sessions a week (2 is good, 3 ideal) – if you do, you will move into detrimental effects due to the demands that HIITMC puts on your body especially in the first 8 – 10 weeks.

Bottomline – to lose fat, recompose your body, to get lean, to look better naked – YOU’VE GOT TO EARN IT!!

For other myths & ideas – don’t forget to get your free report! It’s waiting at the top right hand side of the page…

I’ll be back next time with a couple of other myths that need a touch up.

Be well.

A Beginners Workout to Help You Sculpt an Incredible Body with Bodyweight Training

Welcome Back!

Here is a simple and intense 2 -part workout, each of which you can perform 3 times a week in the comfort of your own home, at the park or beach using just your bodyweight.

It combines strength with intense cardio and uses the interval / HIIT protocol. This means that it has a high metabolic cost, will burn fat during the workout and more importantly for hours afterwards.

Background Information:

  • A circuit is when you move from one exercise to the next without resting in between.
  • Then rest for no more than 2 minutes before doing the next circuit.
  • All rest should be ‘active’ rest where you do not stand still but just keep moving by walking around. Not only will you get your breath back more quickly, but you will add the overall metabolic cost.
  • Reps are a guide only – if you can do more reps then do so, if less then that’s okay – match your efforts to your capability.
  • If push ups are too difficult substitute them with push ups from your knees.
  • Chin / Pull ups:  if you can’t do the reps then use one leg on a secure (ie won’t slip or tip) chair to assist in pushing you to the top of the movement.
    • Once there ‘lock’ your arms & back and fight your weight all the way down. This called an eccentric contraction and will give you sore muscles but will also help you develop strength more quickly.
    • Concentrate on bringing your elbows to your ribs rather than your chin over the bar. This activates your back .

      Like a squat for your upper body...

  • Rope Jumping (skipping) count every second step. If 100 is too many aim for 50 & then work up from there.
  • Add 1 more round each week until you are doing 8 rounds, and then try another workout.
  • Try to add at least 1 rep each workout to your push ups, lunges & squats. Aim for 10 reps with the Chin / pull ups. (When you get here you will be stronger than just about everyone else you’ll come across in your life!)

Work out #1:

Three (3) rounds of:

  • Rope Jumping, 100 Count
  • Push Ups, 10 reps
  • Forward Lunges, 10 reps each leg
  • Rope Jumping 100 Count
  • Chin / Pull ups, 5-10 reps
  • Squats, 20 reps
  • Rope Jumping, 100 count

Complete 1 circuit and rest for 2 minutes and then go again until you finish all 3 rounds. Do this 3 days a week.

Work Out #2

Do this work out the days in between the body weight workout above – 3 days a week.

Go to the park (or if you are feeling particularly adventurous) the beach and do some sprints.

Why sprint? Well ever seen a fat sprinter?

Not everyone wants to look like this - but the point is, sprinters are not fat!

Sprinting fits into the HIIT protocol, is challenging, has a high metabolic cost and will help you burn fat. It also gives your workouts balance. It should take no more than 20 minutes.

  • Gently jog around the park / along the beach to make sure that your hips, knees & ankles are loose and your leg muscles are warmed up.
  • Step out 50 metres
  • Run the 50 metres as fast as you can
  • Don’t stop moving at the 50 metre mark but drop to walking / jogging speed and take a 2 minute period whilst still moving.
    • This ‘active rest’ is important as it helps move lactic acid out of the working muscles and stops them from tightening up.
    • Keeping moving also adds to the overall metabolic cost and post workout ‘Afterburn’.
  • Repeat until you have done 3 rounds.
  • Work up to 10 rounds by adding 1 round every second work out.

Do some hamstring & quad stretching afterwards when the muscles are loose & pliable and stretching will do the most good.

Upping the Ante:

Body Weight Work out:

Once you are able to hit or exceed the rep targets in the body weight work out you can add intensity a number of ways.

  • You can do more reps
  • You can do more rounds
  • You can add exercises into each round (add a set of burpees /  squat thrusts after the push ups and after the Chin ups for example)
  • You can vary your exercises (try spiderman push ups instead of regular ones, or jumping lunges instead of split ones for example.)
  • You can add weight via a vest.

    Great way to up the ante for working out at home!

NB weighted vests are NOT recommended for chin ups – This is for 2 reasons – firstly using your own bodyweight on this exercise is challenging enough by itself and it will take some time for you to work up to doing 10 reps a time. Secondly, and depending upon the type of home chinning bar you are using, you will find that most home chinning bars are not strong enough to handle added weight  – I weigh 100KG and if I added even the lightest vest I own I will be close to its top rating of 110 kg.

However if you are using a chinning bar that is part of another, stronger set up feel free to add weight once you can do 10 reps. Adding weight before then will be counterproductive.

Sprint Intervals:

  • Take note of your time and try to get faster over the same distance.
  • Increase the number of rounds.
  • Increase the distance from 50 to 75 metres and then from 75 to 100.
  • Try doing your sprints uphill
  • If at the beach try doing using the dunes (super tough!!)
  • Set a timed protocol where you sprint for 20 seconds, jog / walk for 40 and then repeat for a period of 5 minutes initially working up from there.
  • Go long or go hard...

    Use Tabata intervals – 8 rounds of sprinting for 10 seconds followed by 20 seconds of active rest.

  • You can add weight via vest – again be careful – the vest must not only fit snug enough so that the weights don’t beat you half to death by moving around whilst you are running but also allow your chest to move freely so you can breathe. NOT recommended except for those looking to become superhuman.

Well there you have it a simple, do-it-in-the-comfort-of-your-own-home work out that fits into my philosophy of reconditioning & improving the efficiency of your metabolism through interval / HIIT training.

You will burn fat and become leaner just with the body weight training – adding in the sprinting will increase your fat burn and metabolic efficiency but is not an absolute necessity.

However your results will be greater if you do both.

Let me know what you think and don’t forget to ‘Like’ use on Face Book below…

Strength Training & Metabolic Boosting

Welcome back!!

A few posts ago I wrote about Interval training, particularly HIIT – high intensity interval training and why it is the best exercise protocol to use to lose fat – and it is.

Great for HIIT or 'normal' strength training...

Especially when you combine it with some form of resistance (ie strength) training. Thing is combining HIIT with strength training is VERY intense and can lead to burn out very quickly if you are properly familiar with how to use them correctly.

So what do you do if you can’y do HIIT everyday?

As you know if you have been a regular reader – you can’t out run or out lift a bad diet. But you can recondition your metabolism through a variety of means.

My choice is to keep eating the right way (low processed carbs, high protein, high fruit & vegetable intake) and to use strength training when I want either a break from HIIT or just as an alternative.

Resistance / Strength training, involves using weights, bands, kettlebells, body weight, weighted vests or other forms of resistance to force your body to move differently and work harder than it does in everyday life.

By working differently from our everyday activity and challenging our bodies at the same time we can increase our metabolic rate.

Going for a run, performing a HIIT session or doing a strength training workout and the way they affect your metabolic rate is quite different.Previously we have seen that HIIT (Interval) training has the greatest efffect on overal metabolism.

Remember it is how long for and by how much any activity boosts your metabolism that really has an impact on your ability to lose body fat when your diet is under control.

Let’s talk about the components of our metabolism:

First we have our resting metabolic rate, or RMR. This is the energy needed (counted in calories or kilojoules) to keep our bodies alive – our heart beating, our lungs breathing, etc.This is the ‘lying on the couch & not doing anything’ measurement.

Our RMR makes up about 60 to 80 percent of our total metabolic rate, so the more we can boost this the more fat we will be burning. To raise our RMR we need to recondition and boost our overall metabolism. Increasing physical activity, especially by using HIIT & strength training can directly change RMR.

Next there is the Thermic Effect of Activity, or TEA. Basically this is a measurement of how many calories are burnt by our bodies through movement. This includes walking, mowing the lawn, bringing in the groceries and so on. So your TEA is higher on the days you play touch football than the ones where you watch DVDs all day because it covers all of the activities that we engage in every day to live our lives. .

The more active you are, the more your total metabolic rate increases.

The easy way to view Metabolism

Third, we have the Thermic Effect of Food, or TEF. This is the amount of energy that your body expends to consume and digest food and then put the nuturients in the food to use to create more energy, repair the body etc. As you know you can increase your metabolism simply my eating more protein, more fibrous fruit & vegetables and less processed carbs & fat. Why? Because protein & fibrous fruit & vegetables can use up to 22% more energy to process than processed crap. As for fat – our bodies are the utimate fat storage devices so fat processing (&storage) requires virtually no energy at all.

So we can view our metabolism as the total number of calories (or kilojoules) our bodies use each day for each metabolic component.

This total energy expenditure  can be derived by using this simple formula: (TEE) = RMR + TEA + TEF.

Because we are all different the enrgy used by each metabolic component is different for each person, resulting in unique metabolic rates.

But why Strength Training?

Strength training increases our TEE by elevating the amount of calories expended in activity (TEA). The harder you strength train, the greater the amount of calories you burn through exercise. This in turn leads to the creation of more lean tissue (which is more metabolically active) which burns more calories at rest.

So strength training not only raises your TEA but also your RMR. Next to HIIT it is the best way to do this.

In turn, if you keep eating clean and also watch that your calorie / kilojoule intake does not exceed your TEE then you will lose body fat.

If you conduct your training session with intensity then they all – strength training , HIIT or running – will increase your energy expenditure both at the time of activity, and for a few hours afterwards. This elevation of your RMR that follows on in the hours after exercise is often called the ‘Afterburn’ and for fat loss it is essential. It can also only be gained by either using a HIIT protocol or through strength training.

By using multiple sets of a challenging weight, scientists have shown that the energy expended afterwards, known as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) can be elevated for 24-36 hours.

Isn't this what we want to achieve?

Strength training can boost your metabolism, but it has to be more challenging than activities you do every day. two or three pound dumbells won’t make much of a difference if the groceries you carry or the child you hug weigh more than this. The key to an elevated metabolism is to challenge your existing strength boundaries.

Otherwise your body won’t  get the challenge it needs to build muscle, lose fat and look better in your clothes – or out of them….and that’s what we’re all looking for, isn’t it?

Interval Training – the #1, not so secret fat loss tool…

Welcome back!

Today I want to look at interval training and what is one better!!

Interval training has been around for a long, long time. Supposedly even the Gladiators used a type of interval training in their preparations for the arena.

You can do intervals by running...

What is interval training? – the classic interval is that used by runners – sprint 100 metres and then walk the remaining 300 metres back to the start. Repeat. And again and again. Really interval is a mix of high intensity, short bursts of effort followed by a lower intensity, longer period of effort and then repeated as often as required or possible for the work out session.

Intervals are back in fashion and are really a research-proven tool to have in your body shape shifting arsenal. They are so good that I recommend that they be a key part of your overall fat loss & general health program.

Regular readers know by now that in order to lose fat there has to be a caloric deficit, a low level of insulin, and there has to be high levels of certain chemicals in the body so that the fat is released from the cells so it can be transported to the working muscles and burned as fuel.

Research has conclusively proven that this all important chemical release is easily achieved through the use of high intensity exercise protocols like Intervals.

But – hang on aren’t intervals just aerobics or cardio dressed up a bit differently? In a word – No! Traditional cardio or aerobics (think treadmills, aerobics classes, recumbent bikes etc etc), require low to moderate intensity over a long period of time. The effect on metabolism tends to be limited to exercise period and does not really recondition it.

Chronic cardio just is not as efficient as Intervals...

It’s true that traditional Cardio / Aerobic work actually burns more fat as a percentage of calories during the activity period than interval training does. But don’t get too excited however – it still burns fewer overall calories.

Interval and NOT aerobic training is by far the best form of exercise for this purpose.

Compared to aerobic training, Interval training:
• Releases more fat burning chemicals
• Burns more calories minute for minute than aerobic exercise and
• Elevates your metabolism during and AFTER the exercise session
The thing is not only are Intervals very demanding, but when used in the classic style they get boring and really hard to stick with. How do we deal with this by moving into what is called metabolic conditioning.

The other exercise protocol that elevates your metabolism and burns fat is resistance training – weight lifting, body weight exercise etc – so why not combine the two?

This is where the fat burning can really take off – doing resistance exercises as a circuit in an interval fashion!

For example you could use pure bodyweight exercises like this:
• Squats x 30
• Push ups x 15
• Pull ups x 5

Do each exercise one after the other without rest. This is one circuit. After each circuit rest for 2 minutes. Repeat 5 times.

You get the idea – you can do this in the gym with barbell or machine exercises, or anywhere using a variety of body weight exercise.

The thing is the fat burn during & after the exercise session is massive. The reconditioning effect on your metabolism is strong and it is hard to get bored…

If you do not have variety in your workout program you are more likely to end up at a fat loss plateau soon rather than later. Variety, changing the positive stress that exercise provides, is one of the keys to keeping that fat loss coming.

Body weight exercises are great for metabolic conditioning...

Smart body shape shifters use 2 different metabolic conditioning workouts each week (done on alternate days 4 – 6 times a week) and change these every 4 – 6 weeks.This keeps the challenge fresh and stops your body becoming too efficient at doing the workout. Remeber homeostasis – your body gets stressed, becomes efficient at the exercise stressor and then starts to use less energy to perform the exercise. This means less fat burning. By changing things around you can stop your body reaching this peak efficiency whilst still burning fat and getting fitter.

Other ways that you modify your metabolic training:
• Switch exercise methods – go from bodyweight exercises to machine, to dumb bells, kettle bells or bands.
• Up the intensity by adding a weighted vest or hand weights
• Increase or decrease the length of the circuit by adding or subtracting exercises respectively
• Increase or decrease the number of circuits per workout
• Increase or decrease the rest time between circuits

In your quest for variety don’t ignore the classic interval exercises like sprinting (great on the beach, up stairs or hills), bike riding, skipping rope or swimming. The trick is to go flat out and then use active rest (keep moving – walk after a sprint, breaststroke after free style for example) to recover before going flat out again.

I like doing kettle bells on one day and mixing a Body weight circuit with some running at the local park on the next. So I use metabolic conditioning and classic intervals…

Whilst there is a clear advantage to using metabolic conditioning workouts over both classic intervals and cardio / aerobics, you can still get a great work out by utilising the interval training circuits on machines.

For example Spin classes often use an interval training approach, you can alternate high intensity with low intensity of stationary bikes, elliptical trainers of even treadmills.

Okay, so how long should you do metabolic condition circuits or intervals for?

There is NO “best” metabolic conditioning or interval training program – no best number of “sets and reps” for fat loss. It depends upon what you like doing, what gives you the best results. The only thing I’d say is that whatever you choose to do has to be challenging and make you work!

I am about efficient time use – the higher the intensity the greater the effect during & after the exercise session. You can, as they say, go hard or go long – you can’t do both. This is why I am against what they now call ‘chronic cardio’ – Why spend an hour on a treadmill when you can better results in 20 minutes with a metabolic conditioning circuit or running intervals in the local park?

However the lack of a ‘Best’ set is a good thing as it allows us to use the all important variety in our approach.

One of these helps...

The time you perform each circuit for has a wide range. There is a thing called the Tabata protocol named after the Japanese researcher who discovered it. Using it you do 20 seconds of an exercise, completing as many reps as possible, rest for 10 seconds, and repeat 8 or 16 times for a total workout time of 4 or 8 minutes. Doesn’t sound like much but if you are doing kettle bell swings, or prisoner squats, or burpees – it really gets your metabolism running!!

At the other end of the scale is the 3, 4 or 5 minute interval circuits where you go hard for several minutes and then rest for the same period of time. Soccer players use these a lot and they are generally referred to as ‘Aerobic intervals’. They are also not, in my opinion, the most efficient for fat loss, but they are good for football players to develop ‘burst endurance’.

Short time circuits enable you to work at near maximum intensity and back up to repeat this effort again & again. This type of training is very taxing! It makes enormous demands of your body and really shakes up your metabolism. They have a downside if you are using most machines though – it is very difficult to do sub 45 second circuits on machines because of their “build up” and “bring down” times.

This is particularly true of treadmills and a number of bikes. Apart from treadmills, you can overcome this by using the machine on the ‘Manual’ setting instead of a programmed one.
If you decide to use short, high-intensity circuits, you need to understand that they require a high level of fitness and that you will have to work up to them. Short rest intervals (like the Tabata protocol) tend to lead to a dramatic drop-off in performance with each successive circuit.

Using a longer (relatively speaking) rest period will allow you to work harder in each successive circuit. This means that your performance in each circuit will be more consistent with less drop off in performance circuit to circuit.

Even these can used in an interval fashion...

Don’t think that intervals or metabolic conditioning workouts are too intense for you – they really are all relative to the individual. You don’t have to go 100% flat out in each type of circuit instead, just work at a bit harder than normal pace. Aim to be tired and a little out of breath at the end of each circuit. Don’t be gasping for breath – if you are you’ve worked too intensely and as we are using these for fat loss this means that you are pushing your fitness level to far too fast. Start conservatively and you will get the hang of it.

Here are some of the more popular timing variations:

8 seconds on, 12 seconds off

This duration was the one used by Australian researchers in the now famous “intervals vs. cardio” study from 2007. The results found that interval circuits helped subjects lose belly fat, but chronic cardio didn’t. It can be extremely difficult to control 8 seconds on, 12 seconds off unless you have a timer like a Gym Boss timer – look them up online, at about $20 they are great!

15 seconds
This is a killer = 15 seconds at max effort followed by a rest period. The truly fit can go 15 on , 15 off – but mere mortals are more likely to need at least 60 seconds recovery time as a minimum after each max effort.

20 seconds on, 10 seconds off

The previously mentioned Tabata method. Short, intense and challenging.

30 seconds on / 90 seconds off / 60 seconds off / 45 seconds off / 30 seconds off

Body weight metabolic conditioning or machine based workouts tend to use a lot of 30 second intervals. Beginners will rest up to 90 seconds between intervals, and as you get fitter you drop your rest period down the more advanced you become.

45 seconds on / 90 seconds off / 60 seconds off / 45 seconds off / 30 seconds off

These intervals are proven for fat loss, will these tax your muscles, and challenge your will to complete each circuit at high intensity.

60 second on / 60 seconds off / 90 seconds off
Similar to the 45 second intervals in terms of benefits and toughness. Use 60-120 seconds of recovery between each.

So there you have it – the best way to drop body fat through exercise.
That’s all until next time -Tweet or Facebook us or