Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Are You Breaking the ‘Rules’ on the Best Time to Exercise?

Chris Freytag by Chris Freytag

Is there a best time of day to work out? I get this question a lot — and an article in The New York Times earlier this month validated my opinion: Exercise at any time of day beats no exercise at all.

Studies show that 4 to 7 p.m. is slightly better than morning, the article reports, because “the body’s temperature and hormone levels peak in late afternoon, making muscles more flexible and producing the best ratio of testosterone (the muscle-building hormone) to cortisol (the hormone that does the reverse).” But these advantages are slight, and the human body can adapt to working out at any time of the day.

I must once again stand on my soapbox and say — a calorie burned at 6 a.m. is the same calorie burned at 6 p.m.! So don’t let research or news reports sabotage your efforts. Too often we force ourselves to follow the rules for diet and exercise, even if they don’t work in our lives. If that’s the case, we may be better off making our own rules. I remind my clients all the time that even if you are a rule follower by nature, when it comes to exercise you may have to break some of the “scientific” rules and just get it done!

There are plenty of rules for exercise that we follow because they make sense. We have heart rate training zones to guide us so we burn fat and don’t overdo it. We have strength training rules that tell us how much and how often to lift and how to do the moves safely. We have guidelines for stretching to reduce injury and muscle soreness. And when I’m training an athlete or someone who is working toward a serious goal like a marathon, rules and schedules are important to their outcome.

But if you’re just trying to just lose a few pounds, feel better, have more energy or stop being cranky … BEND THE RULES to work for you, not against youespecially if you’re currently doing nothing (or very little) because you can’t do it by the rules!

Bottom line: The best time of day to work out is the time that you personally will be able to complete a workout consistently over time. Many people swear by starting their day out with exercise, and many others use physical activity as a way to wind down from the stress of a hectic work day in the evenings. Personally, I love morning exercise; but when I find a client who won’t go for top o’ the mornin’ workouts, I suggest another time of day that works. Be true to yourself — so you do something.

Stay Healthy,

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Forget Cardio, Do Kettlebells?

Forget Cardio, Do Kettlebells?

One of the questions that comes up often, is whether one still has to ‘do cardio’ when training with kettlebells.

Are kettlebells as effective as running, sprinting, jogging and other cardio activities when it comes to developing cardiovascular capacity?

The short answer is “kettlebells are on par with running”, long answer is… well, keep on reading for the long answer :-)

Kettlebells are great for improving cardiovascular capacity. It works, there is no argument.

I would even recommend kettlebells over any other cardio activity like running, jogging or aerobics class (I apologize to all the aerobic class enthusiasts - you’ll have to give your stretchy pants a rest…)


Kettlebells are much safer on joints than any other kind of activity.


It’s true.

The exercise that (in my opinion, anyway) is one of the best exercises for improving strength and cardiovascular endurance and capacity is kettlebell swings.

[Why swings and not snatches or jerks or cleans?]

  • While swinging kettlebells there is no resting point, the bell is always moving, demanding attention and cardiovascular output
  • Kettlebell swings is a foundational movement that is simple. Everyone, including beginners, can benefit from it
  • All major joints (ankles, knees, hips, shoulders) are moving and engaged through proper planes of motion
  • Back muscles are engaged (usually a major weak point in most people) and strengthened

For an average person, should swings replace running?


Keep in mind that an average person is a dis-functional person containing many muscular imbalances and suffering from numerous postural deviations.

Now take this off-balance, mis-aligned body and make it run. What do you think will happen? Compensations leading to pain and injury are inevitable.

Kettlebell swings, on the other hand, will move all joints in proper planes through proper range of movements and help muscles find the much desired balance.

Does that mean that you should never run? Nonsense!

Humans are made for movement, running and walking and not sitting (shocking!). So if you are consistent in your kettlebell training you can attempt running but be careful and listen to what your body tells you afterward. If you experience any pain (soreness does not count as pain) you may want to put running on a shelve until your body is more ‘connected’.

This came from But it didn't give the author's name.

Do You Think About Eating Kiddie Cereals After Your Workouts?

Excellent article next time you think about eating Cocoa Pebbles!!!

Considering ‘Kiddie” Cereals Post-Workout

By Shannon Clark

Many people, when thinking back to their childhood, have one or two favorite ‘kiddie' type of cereals that bring back all the good memories.

Whether it's Lucky Charms, Fruit Loops, Corn Pops, Sugar Crisp, you loved them.

As an adult though, these have no doubt been removed from your diet and replaced by the more ‘mature' alternatives of Bran Flakes, Raisin Bran, or Shredded Wheat - and with good reason.

Many of those kiddie cereals are filled with sugar and don't offer much in terms of fiber or protein, thus not exactly making them the best choice to start your day off - unless of course you are looking for a mid-morning crash.

BUT, there is one time when these kiddie cereals are actually preferable.


That's right, if you've been grocery shopping lately and have picked up one of your old favorites for your kids recently, don't be so fast to shun them out of your diet.

These cereals actually make for a really great post-workout food, due to their nutritional consistency.

Goals of Post-Workout

Consider for a second the goals of your post-workout meal - to get your muscle glycogen stores filled as quickly as humanly possible. This will help to enhance recovery, build new muscle, and mean you'll have less downtime until your next workout.

How do you get carbohydrates into the muscle cells as quick as possible? Cause a skyrocket in insulin levels - along with pairing this with amino acids (for the ‘raw' building blocks for actual muscle tissue).

When insulin levels are high, this means the body is eagerly taking in excess blood sugar into the cells.

Since you have just finished a workout, the cells it is primarily concerned with at this moment in time are your muscle cells.

And...there you have it. Sugar goes directly into the muscle cells.

Since these kiddie cereals are so high in sugar and contain little fiber or dietary fat, this is precisely what they do.

They cause that insulin spike, and then get shuttled into the muscle cells.

If you would have chosen something that was higher in fiber, this would have slowed down the digestion process which is not what you want at all.

It should be noted though that obviously after you have this cereal and protein, you will want to follow that with a solid meal that does contain some slower digesting carbs so that you don't stay with this elevated insulin level (which will then cause a resulting crash a short time later).

Specifically, have your cereal immediately after the workout is finished, then about an hour later have another meal with a good carb source such as oats, potatoes, or whole grain bread.

Also be sure to measure out the cereal, as while it is a good post-workout food, if you eat four cups of it, you may start to gain weight due to so many calories being taken in.

So, next time you're on the hunt for a post-workout food, consider that cereal that's been looking back at you in the cupboard that you've desperately been avoiding.

Treating yourself to this not only will kill cravings but also actually increase the results you'll get from your gym efforts.

12 Ways to Spot a Fad Diet

This is what this whole blog is about, folks. There's so much stuff out there to trick you to empty your wallets and sell you the Brooklyn bridge. Of course, you want it to be true 'this time.' However, they haven't found anything that works besides 1) clean eating (almost every single time), 2) moving your body in a way that someone would look at you and say 'you are exercising!' and 3) rinse, repeat daily.

Don't give up on some of the infomercials that have exercise programs. Most of them do work. I have been doing 'The Firm' workouts for over 6 years. However, I DID do the consistently and I outgrew most of them. I went on to harder things like the P90X and Cathe's STS. See...when you workout consistently, you get stronger and stronger and then you have to look for more challenging workouts.

As far as any of the food programs, naw. Who wants to eat pre-processed foods for the rest of their life that taste pretty icky. I never tried them because, well, I knew they were set up to make me come back again and again. I'll save my money and buy bananas and raw almonds and stuff like that.

READ ON.............

12 Ways to Spot a Fad Diet

Identifying Weight Loss Scams

-- By Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered Dietitian
The next time you watch an infomercial, read an advertisement, or spot a new supplement reporting miraculous weight loss results, we wouldn’t blame you for cocking a wary eyebrow. When evaluating claims for weight loss products, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends a healthy portion of skepticism; most don’t come close to fulfilling their claims. And in the rare cases where a product might result in some temporary weight loss, it is almost never a permanent solution and is usually unsafe.

Before you spend money on products that promise fast and easy results, weigh the claims carefully. You might even consider contacting the FTC directly for more information or if you have concerns.

These 12 tips will help you critique and evaluate weight loss claims and spot a scam before it’s too late:

1. "It’s so easy to lose weight without dieting or exercising!" Face it—permanent weight loss takes work, effort and time. Pass on any products that promise miraculous results without the effort. Buy one and the only things you’ll lose are money and confidence.

2. "Eat whatever you want and still lose weight!" Losing weight requires sensible food choices, not overloading on high-fat, high calorie foods.

3. "Lose weight forever…you’ll never need to diet again!" For weight loss to be permanent, it requires lifestyle changes. On-going maintenance is always a must.

4. "Block the digestion and absorption of fat, carbs, or calories!" There is no magic potion that will allow you to block the digestion and absorption of fat, carbs, or calories. A little pill to curb cravings and suppress appetite just doesn’t exist.

5. "Rapid weight loss: Lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks!" Looking to lose weight rapidly for your high school reunion or wedding? Products that safely produce lightning-fast weight loss just don’t exist. A weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week is the safest and most effective way to take off weight and keep it off.

6. "Finally, a weight loss formula for everyone!" A diet that claims to be perfect for all is erroneous. One-size-fits-all just doesn’t work. Your lifestyle habits and health concerns are unique. That’s why SparkPeople helps you design your own personalized nutrition and exercise programs to suit your particular lifestyle needs.

7. "Lose weight with this miracle diet patch, cream or gel!" You’ve heard it all before—"Apply and watch the fat melt away!" But truthfully, all that melts away is your hard earned money.

8. "Scientifically Proven! Doctor Endorsed!" Where is the proof and how was the research conducted? Were people studied, or rodents? Were there 3 subjects in the study or 3,000? Has the research been published in a medical journal and reviewed by peers? A doctor of what profession? Or is the "professional" as purely fictitious as your weight loss will be? Be sure to check the details.

9. "Money-back guarantee!" It may make you feel safer to give the product a try, but realize that many companies do not follow through with this promise. You’re left holding an empty promise and an empty pocketbook.

10. "100% safe!" Just another attempt, trying to get you hooked with a meaningless phrase. Think of it this way – if there were no reason to doubt, why would they need to make this claim at all? Many products have been removed from the market due to safety issues, but not until too many lives were already destroyed or lost. Does ephedra ring a bell?

11. Those convincing testimonials: We can all look 10 pounds slimmer by: standing up straight, shoulders back, and stomach in; having a good hair day; applying the right make-up; and hiring a professional photographer. Remember, just because you recognize the actor or actress doesn’t make the product any more reliable. They are now just a little richer and you a little poorer.

12. "A miraculous breakthrough!" Turn and run the other direction when extravagant claims make the product sound to good to be true.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Getting In Once a Day Can Be Hard Enough, Charley!!

“Two-A-Day” Training: Can It Work For You?

March 16th, 2009 by Charles Staley
Posted in General Brinkzone Stuff

A lot has been written about the idea of training twice a day, and the practice has both scientific as well as historical justification. Despite this, many people who attempt two-a-days tend to quickly burn out and dismiss the idea altogether.

To better understand the applicability of this method to your own situation, it’s helpful to first delineate between the physiological versus the practical realities of two-a-days.
First, the physiology: Noted strength training authority Vladimir Zatsiorsky has observed that, in order to get strong, you should life “as heavy as possible, as often as possible, while staying as fresh as possible.” This statement can certainly be used to justify the idea of two-a-days. After all, if forced to choose between a single session lasting 90 minutes, or two daily sessions lasting 45 minutes each, it’s clear that you’ll be in a fresher state using the latter method…at least from a physiological point of view.

Now, the practicality: Unfortunately, life can sometimes get in the way of the best-laid plans. Most people obviously work for a living, they have stresses and responsibilities, and in general, “stuff” tends to get in the way. And certainly, for some people, two-a-days are not a practical option. However, by employing a few simple guidelines, the two-a-day method can become a useful training method.

Here then, are my guidelines for successful two-a-day training:

  • Instead of dividing your current workouts into two equal halves performed at different times of the day, think about having a “main” workout and then a second, shorter, second workout.
  • Ideally, the main workout will involve “core” lifts that stress the nervous system and large amounts of muscle. In other words, maximum strength and/or speed-strength parameters applied to full-body compound lifts.

The second workout should ideally involve less stressful loading parameters applied to “smaller” exercises that don’t require extensive warm-ups.

  • Further, if possible, the second workout should be such that it can be performed with little to no equipment, specialized facilities, or equipment. I like some of the strongman-inspired events for this, such as vehicle-pushing, sled-dragging, or carrying heavy objects. Personally, I like to walk my dog while wearing an X-Vest and listening to audio-books on my iPod.

The overriding idea is that the second workout should be short, uncomplicated, relatively less stressful than the main workout performed earlier that day. Also remember that you don’t need two-a-days to be the mainstay of your training schedule- if you work a normal 40-hour week for example, you might train once a day on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and then a two-a-day on Saturday, when you’re not as busy.

I’m always interested in hearing your questions, suggestions, and experiences, so don’t be a stranger- let’s have your comments!

Would a friend find this interesting ? e-mail this post to them:
Charles Staley's biography:

Charles Staley, B.Sc., MSS: His colleagues call him an iconoclast, a visionary, a rule-breaker. His clients call him “The Secret Weapon” for his ability to see what other coaches miss. Charles calls himself a “geek” who struggled in Phys Ed throughout school. Whatever you call him, Charles' methods are ahead of their time and quickly produce serious results. His counter-intuitive approach and self-effacing demeanor have lead to appearances on NBC’s The TODAY Show and The CBS Early Show. Learn more about Charles’ Escalating Density Training program online at

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Difference Between Expectations And Desires

You May Know What You Want, But What Do You Expect?

Why Your Desire Will Trip You Up - Every Time

By Joshua Wayne, MA
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I was working with a new client recently and she asked me an interesting question. She said,

“Why do I have such trouble following through on my weight loss plan? I really want to lose weight. In fact, I desperately want to lose 30 pounds! I start out doing very well, and lose 5-10 pounds in the first couple weeks, but then I lose my focus. I can’t even tell you why… something always comes up and I fall off course. Am I sabotaging my success?”

Does this sound at all familiar? Do you have a strong desire to lose weight, and yet for some reason the motivation necessary to follow through is difficult to generate or sustain?

If so, I have a little ‘secret’ I’d like to share with you. As common sense as it will sound, I can tell you from many years of experience that most people miss it entirely. I learned it myself from one of my mentors, Joseph Riggio.

Once you get this simple principle, it can revolutionize the way you think about your weight loss goals forever:

We always live up to our expectations, not our desires!

Let’s go back to my conversation with the client I was just telling you about. Hearing her frustration, I questioned her a bit further and she told me she wanted to lose 30 pounds in 6 months. On the surface, a very reasonable goal, and with a good plan it should be very attainable.

Knowing the ‘secret’ I just shared with you, I said,

“So I hear that you want to lose 30 pounds in 6 months and that sounds great, but what do you actually expect is going to happen?

She was quiet for a good while as she thought about it and finally said, as if a light bulb had gone off in her head,

“If I’m completely honest with myself here, what I really expect to happen is that I’ll do good for about 6 weeks…I’ll eat well and get to the gym and lose about 10 pounds or so…but then something will happen. For instance, I’ll have a difficult situation at work, and I’ll be there late and end up eating pizza at 10 o’clock at night…and pretzels and whatever else is around. I’ll tell myself that I’ll get back on track tomorrow, but something else will come up… and before I know it a month has passed and I’m right back where I started!”

Again, sound familiar?

Maybe for you it’s a mother-in-law coming to town for a visit, and that creates a lot of stress.

Or maybe you expect that one night you’ll just feel particularly lonely, and those cookies and ice cream really seem like they’d be a nice companion for the evening.

So what is happening here? My client, and perhaps you as well, actually expects to get off track. She expects to only lose 10 pounds instead of her desired 30. Maybe she, or you, will manage to keep that 10 pounds off…maybe not. Again, this largely depends on your expectations.

The point is, regardless of what you think you want, where your expectation lies is where you will wind up. The trick, then, is to begin working with your expectations, not your desires.

When you begin working with your expectations rather than your desires:

➢ Your plan won’t get derailed
➢ You won’t be setting yourself up for failure
➢ You won’t keep resurrecting the same frustrations over and over again

Now, it’s possible that your expectations already match what you desire. If this is the case then good for you! You will find yourself making great progress with relative ease.

If they are not matched, however, then you first have to honestly look at where your expectations lie. So the first thing to do is get yourself in a clear, calm state of mind. Go take a quick brisk walk or just take some deep breaths to focus your mind. Turn off the phone and television and just sit with yourself for a minute, and fill in the blanks to the following question:

What I want is _______; what I truly expect is _______.

Be brutally honest. It doesn’t matter what the answer is. You have to start where you’re honestly at. Instead of setting yourself up for failure, break down your desire into smaller increments of expectation. If you realize that your expectation is to only lose 3 pounds instead of 30, that’s okay. Start there! Make this your goal for now. It’s still a very good goal.
When you have achieved it, celebrate that success and decide what is next. Perhaps you will then find that you genuinely expect to lose 5 more pounds- or even 10. The more you succeed, the more you will expect of yourself. Success breeds success.

What if you realize that ultimately you truly expect to fail? If you find yourself in a situation where your expectation is endless self-sabotage and more of the same, don’t worry. Hope is not lost! You need to learn new skills that will strengthen your relationship to yourself, your body and food. As you practice these skills, stronger, healthier expectations will form. So stay tuned, because I will be introducing these tools in future articles that will be sent out to the Tip Of The Day email list and also the list you join when you sign up for PEERtrainer.

To Your Health and Happiness,

Joshua Wayne, MA

Joshua Wayne, MA is a Personal Development Coach and trained psychotherapist with an emphasis on weight loss motivation and mind/body wellness.

In his private practice Joshua has helped his clients achieve their weight loss goals, shape their life direction and resolve a wide range of family problems from relationship difficulties to out of control teenagers.

Joshua has a Masters Degree in Counseling, is a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC) and a Consulting Hypnotist (CH) through the National Guild of Hypnotists. He has also been intensely interested in and studying personal development, fitness and spirituality for close to 20 years.

To learn more about Joshua’s work visit healthy body, happy life where you can get a FREE copy of his report (valued at $27). Joshua also heads up the PEERtrainer 12 Week "Point Of No Return" Coaching Program.

If you would like to ask Joshua a question about weight loss, motivation or personal development, please email him. He can’t always respond to each one individually, but will incorporate the answers into future articles and blog posts.