It is quite interesting to me how easily people can be swayed by advertising. Kudos to those who chose their profession in marketing, advertising, and sales. I do not mean this in any sarcastic way. My children are both going to college for this important career. Those in the profession have learned no matter what they are selling people will buy into it as long as they know their target audience.
Spring and summertime brings in ads for razors, sandals,
light colored purses, and motorcycles. Fall
brings out all the “must have” new scents in candles and warm foods.
I am not immune from these mind-altering ads. I am on no pedestal. I have baked more this week than I have all year. Presently on my counter I have oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, Rosettes (a fried, sugar dusted, light, Italian piece of pastry heaven), sugar cookies, and a variety of chocolates. I just had a soda machine cocktail party. The entire theme was drinking soda. Tons of sugary drinks mixed with a plethora of alcohol...some food prepared for alcoholic absorption. Why would a trainer have a party like this? Because it was fun and different. Not going to lie, we all had a ball but I did not help anyone’s health and created many hangovers.
My point being, these parties and treats are everywhere, even a trainer’s house during holiday time. If you are trying to lose weight and decide you will only go places where everything is healthy you are being naive. The reality is that we need to learn how to handle temptations so they do not overpower our long term goals.
A dessert table should not have that much control over you. If it does, you need to re-evaluate your lifestyle and look inward at yourself. What else makes you happy other than empty calorie foods and alcohol? Neither provides a high that is sustainable. What are your interests? What releases those endorphines instead of food to give you a better natural high? How about more sex, exercise, or a massage (with the money you save from buying crap food). Adopting a family at holiday time, as my daughter chose to do, will make you feel much higher than filling your plate with unhealthy choices and regretting it the next day. Ask a friend to exercise with you for mutual support. No regrets the next day when you do something good for someone else.
I have found when you eat healthier and limit your daily sugar intake you don’t crave the sugary sweets as you would have in the past. You will find that often these items become too sweet for your taste buds. High fat foods won’t seem to sit in your stomach right. You will find these types of items seem to make you feel sluggish and it wasn’t worth it. That is when you know you have taken the right steps to become a better you from the inside out.
I work with clients individually. My plan was to have a quick spring/summer boot camp for my neighborhood to put health in the forefront of our daily lives. I have a group who went to my summer boot camp and wanted to continue into the winter. It was not in my plan but now they continue training indoors with me in smaller groups. Do I make my standard rate with them? That would be a NO. Why did I continue with them? They have lost weight, inches, showing muscle definition, but most of all, because it is fun for all of us. Instead of sitting on the couch all evening they come to me and laugh while they work their asses off. One just puked last week in the street because she pushed herself so hard. Guess what…she came back and worked her ass off again. Am I trying to get her to a size 2? Hell, No! Does she look amazing? Yes! Does she feel good knowing she is no longer “weak as a kitten” (her words). Yes, she absolutely does. This is what exercise and caring about your health can do. She is creating a better and healthier version of herself through the year and the holiday season. She did not take time off because holiday time is "so busy"
Do not allow “the holidays” to be your excuse for lack of exercise and eating poorly. Put on your pedometer and hit that 10,000 steps a day for better heart health. Take the stairs at work, park further away in the parking lot. So what if it is cold. Will you seriously not recover within minutes from a brisk walk? Use your gym membership instead of sitting down on the couch after work. Hire a personal private trainer if you are embarrassed to go to a public gym or if you need direction and a push of encouragement. If you stop spending money on what advertisers are telling you what you need, you will have the spare money for a personal trainer. You will also end up with a lot more money by not having to spend it repairing your health when older. Personally, I don’t plan on losing my mobility. You will feel better, your skin will look better, and you will have more energy with you families and friends.
Control the holidays. Do not let the hype and advertisers control you. I assure you, you will get more compliments for your toned body than you will from making a good cheesecake. Honor yourself as you should be honored. The cheesecake will be long forgotten, your hot, healthy body will be yours forever.
In a previous post I touched upon the basic formulas for “How many calories should I consume in a day?” http://blog.certifiedptfitness.com/2013/10/15/how-many-calories-should-i-consume-in-a-day.aspx . Today I would like to go a little further into nutrition and discuss “Macros” Macros is short for macro-nutrients which are our larger sources of nutrients. We have major categories for Macros: protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Fiber, a sub category of carbohydrates, has its role and we also categorize micro-nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
When creating a weight loss regiment, a fitness/strength diet or a daily healthy food plan it is extremely important to be aware of what percentages of macros are being consumed. It makes no sense to only count overall calories if the calories are not balanced and hitting each macro category. Macros have a multitude of benefits to the body. First I will break down each macro and then go into recommended percentages to be consumed each day based on current activity level and weight loss goals.
“Proteins are part of every cell, tissue, and organ in our bodies. These body proteins are constantly being broken down and replaced. The protein in the foods we eat is digested into amino acids that are later used to replace these proteins in our bodies. Proteins are made up of amino acids. Think of amino acids as the building blocks. There are 20 different amino acids that join together to make all types of protein. Some of these amino acids can't be made by our bodies It is essential that our diet provide these.
Protein is found in the following foods:
“Your body uses carbohydrates (carbs) to make glucose which is the fuel that gives you energy and helps keep everything going. Your body can use glucose immediately or store it in your liver and muscles for when it is needed. They contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen and typically can be broken down to release energy in the body. Carbohydrates cause more and faster blood glucose rises than the other macro-nutrients.”
Fiber falls under the category of Carbohydrate. "Fiber (simplified) is also known as roughage. It is the indigestible part of plant foods that pushes through our digestive system, absorbing water along the way and easing bowel movements.'
You can find carbohydrates in the following:
“Fat is necessary for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. It is also needed for proper neurological function, healthy skin and hair, protecting vital organs, and to help keep us warm. Fats are broken down releasing glycerol and free fatty acids in the body. Glycerol can be converted to glucose by the liver and used as a source of energy.” While much to the general populations dismay, fats are a main energy source for the body and are vital to healthy body performance.
Most of the fat you eat should come from unsaturated fats. The following are good sources of unsaturated fats:
There are also the bad fats (saturated or trans) which can be found in many items which we need to limit or eliminate:
Now knowing our macros consist of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, let us move on to the macro percentages. What percentage of my daily food intake should each macro have? There is still much open debate as to the “ideal' percentages of consumption for each macro. There are general guidelines but it does change slightly depending on your activity level and weight goals. Remember we need all three.
As you can see by the chart below from the 2010 dietary guidelines for Americans, it is recommended that fat % for a healthy adult is limited to no more than 35% of your total caloric intake for the day. If this adult is trying to lose weight then they should come closer to 20% but no lower. Again, the body needs a certain amount of fat for function and health. Are you a person trying to gain lean muscle mass? Then you too may want to lean toward the 20% ratio of fat.
Recommended Macro-nutrient Proportions by Age
Adapted from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
Some of you out there may not like discussing my next percentage. For those who are trying to go“no carb” first I say shame on you. Carbs are needed for survival. Maybe you really want to go low carbs. OK, I get it but make sure you are understanding the difference between good carbs and bad carbs. An orange is filled with great carbs. Do you really think oranges should be off limits? Go for the lower end or 45% carbs. You will crash in your day if you reduce much lower. Same as with the person trying to gain lean muscle mass. Come in on the lower end but do not eliminate.
This leaves us with the protein macro. Personally I feel the low end of 10% is far too low for anyone. I do not like to see anyone fall under 30% and always encourage to lean toward the higher side of the protein macro. Here is what I like to see and again, this is my personal recommendation for adults.
Do not expect every meal to have the same percentages. This should be your overall daily consumption. Before a workout you may want to have a meal low in fat, moderate in carbs and proteins but after a workout you may want to have an increase in protein which helps speed recovery. It is about creating a daily balance.
How does this apply in real life? Again I must work with a general guideline which gets tweaked for the individual based on activity level, body weight and goal but let us say you are on a 2000 calorie a day diet and hoping to lose weight with exercise and nutrition. I would recommend the 45% carb, 35% protein and 20% fat. Knowing that 1 gram of protein contains 4 calories, 1 gram of carbohydrates contains 4 calories, and 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories we can see below how many grams per day would be recommended for this 2000 calorie a day diet. Just a little side note..Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram.
An alternate simplistic approach can be made to calculate your quick protein grams in a day. Assume everyone needs to eat at least 1 gram of protein per lb of body weight at a minuimum. Weight lifters may want to increase that to 1.25-1.5g per lb so if you weight 180 lbs you should be consuming at least 180 g of protein per day and for an avid weight lifter that may increase to as much as 270 grams of protein.
I would love to go more into depth on this topic but if I write any more I am sure to lose some readers. I tend to babble and don't want anyone losing interest. I am trying to keep myself in check. It is a challenge I battle with myself every day. I do hope that I have helped clear up some of the confusion regarding nutrition macros.
Uncoordinated- "having or showing an inability to move in a graceful manner.
Synonyms - awkward, gawkish, graceless, klutzy, ungainly"
I believe there should have been a photo of me inserted by Webster. I have always known I had a coordination issue. It seems to run in my family. I don't know which is worse, watching me dance or watching my sister dance. No, I am not bashing my sister, it was her idea to have this as a topic. We both know it and can laugh about it. We grew up in a house of stamps and coins, needlepoint, puzzles and watching television. Notice no playing ball. It wasn't what we did as a family. Its not a complaint at all just basically our lifestyle. Off the top of your head, can you name 5 powerhouse Jewish athletes? OK, 3? We are more well known for balancing the athlete's money. Gotta love stereotypes. We all can't be masters of everything and this happens to be one of my weak area. Now stick figures...I can draw those.
Do not stand near me if I play horseshoes, or corn hole. I still haven't quite figured out when I am supposed to let go. I am a safety hazard and don't play at parties. My children both played softball for many years...I can catch no problem but throw a ball, its ugly. My husband can dance circles around me. Years ago I decided to try Jazzercise. Wow! Of course, I went to the back of the room like every other uncoordinated person. I watched this fit woman bouncing around in double time and a roomful of people keeping up. Amazing! I did get to hear a few gasps of horror from the other uncoordinated participants near me. I could have used my lack of coordination as an excuse to avoid exercise but I chose to find alternatives which made me feel comfortable and totally fit.
Never use lack of coordination as an excuse not to exercise. There are many workout plans which will help build your balance and core strength, boost your cardio, help you maintain a proper weight, and not make you feel like an idiot. Maybe Jazzercise isn't for you but everyone can walk a little faster each day and work their way up to running. A few times on an elliptical and you will get the hang of it. Ladders help with coordination and balance. Yoga is quite intense but can help both your mind as well as your flexibility and coordination. Repetition will ALWAYS help as does paying attention to the science of the movement. Weight training is perfect.. It's all about proper form, each movement done with precision. Maybe you will need to practice lunges one leg at a time but I have yet to have a client who couldn't be taught to do multi-muscle movements. Practice kettlebell exercises, begin with low weight, expect a few leg bangs but by repeating the exercises you will get your coordination in check.
What I found for myself is that maybe I wasn't as uncoordinated as I thought I was. Maybe it all came down to a matter of decision and practice rather than natural talent. As I gained confidence from accomplishing small steps I was able to look back and realize I made overall strides in my coordination. Yes, I still need to practice my horse shoe toss. I'll fit that in somewhere next summer, which will be much to my husband's dismay. He hates it when I can beat him at something.
At one of my training sessions I was asked “How many calories should I consume in a day?” While I would love to provide a simple answer there are many factors which stop me from being able to answer with a set number. It sounds terrible that I must answer with “It depends” so let me first provide a little information so we can best determine what is best for each individual.
The number of calories you should consume is based on age, height, size, sex, timing, and overall fitness level. Yes, your metabolism plays a big role and as a trainer I try to manipulate your metabolism to make your body work at it's highest efficiency but even with that being said, a 30 year old female has a different caloric need than a 50 year old female of the same height and size.
First we must determine your goals. Are you trying to lose weight or maintain? Are you physically active daily or are you a sedentary person? Let me add that I am not personally a calorie counter. I am a proponent of eating well rounded healthy meals with a lot of protein and having an active lifestyle. If you do this, you will get the body you want. Portion size is where most of us fall short of being able to attain our goals. I hate to generalize but we as Americans eat way too much food in one sitting. We tend to feel more is better in every aspect of our lives. Keeping up with the Jones' is common and unfortunately we even do it with food. There are tons of diets out there and most will work if you follow them but what happens to many people is they lose weight and then slowly the weight starts to creep back up. Why, because there is not an understanding of eating properly for your size, age and activity level. All of these factors must be considered for you to maintain a healthy weight long term. We must balance eating habits with lifestyle.
BMR stands for basal metabolic rate. Basically, this represents the amount of calories you would burn if you did nothing all day long. It is the minimum you need to survive at your current weight. It takes 5 seconds using this link to determine your BMR:
Once you know your BMR you can calculate your daily caloric needs based on your activity level. This is done using the following Harris Benedict Formula:
|Harris Benedict Formula|
There is much attention focused on cholesterol and we want low cholesterol levels but many of us are unclear to what cholesterol is and what our numbers mean. No one wants to sound silly at the doctor's office so often questions are not asked. I can by no means in this article give you every piece of information, nor do I claim to know all, but I will try to break down what I know as best I can.
“Cholesterol is a soft waxy like substance found in the outer layer of every cell of all humans and animals. Cholesterol is a necessary fat which is produced by the liver and is crucial for normal body processes such as producing cell membranes and certain hormones.”
You get cholesterol in two ways. Your body produces its own or you can obtain cholesterol eating animal products such as meat, eggs, milk, and cheese. Poultry and fish also have cholesterol but in lower amounts.Yes, even peas, lentils and beans have small amounts of fat. Do not underestimate your fat sources when you are calculating your intake. Higher cholesterol may be related to the abnormal thickening and hardening of arteries when too much is present so it is important we understand our levels and the impact on our health.
When we see our physician for blood work we are often provided with a quick total cholesterol reading. According to the National Cholesterol Education Program, your total cholesterol level should be lower than 200 mg/dL. Total cholesterol levels between 200 and 239 mg/dL are considered borderline for high cholesterol.
Ask for Total, HDL, LDL, and Triglyceride. When you eat more calories than you need your body begins to store the excess. Through our bodies process, part of the resulting product is lipoprotein. Lipoprotein can transport cholesterol, fat, and protein throughout your system. LDL and VLDL transport mostly fat and cholesterol, but differ in the amount of each.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) considered “good”
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) considered “bad”
Very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) considered “bad”
I often get confused myself so I try to remember HDL ( H for happy) , LDL(L for loser), and VLDL (V for venomous).
“High levels of LDL cholesterol in your body can clog your arteries and increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. When there is too much bad cholesterol in your body, it can slowly build up in the walls of your arteries. Once there, it can combine with other substances to form plaque, which can narrow your arteries and make them less flexible. If a blood clot forms and blocks an artery narrowed by plaque, you could have a heart attack or stroke.
We are optimally looking for low LDL—below 100 mg/dL but less than 130 is acceptable. LDL cholesterol is produced naturally in the body but unfortunately some of us have inherited genes which can cause us to make too much. Eating foods high in saturated fats/trans fats can also increases how much LDL cholesterol you have. Saturated fats raise total and bad (LDL) cholesterol levels. Trans fats raise total and LDL cholesterol but they also lower good HDL cholesterol. As a reminder, trans fats are present in hardened vegetable oils, most margarine, commercial baked foods, and many fried foods.
VLDL contains minimal protein and mainly transports triglycerides which is the worst. VLDL should be less than 40 mg/dL. People who have high levels of triglyceride often have a low level of “good” cholesterol and a high level of “bad” cholesterol. Triglyceride levels of 150 mg/dL or higher may increase your risk for heart disease. Many people with heart disease, diabetes or both have high triglyceride levels.
HDL carries cholesterol away from your arteries and takes it to your liver, where excess is removed from your body. High levels of HDL help protect you from heart attacks, therefore, HDL is considered the “good” cholesterol. Women are looking for a reading of above 40mg/dl and men above 50 mg/dl. What is amazing is HDL levels higher than 60 mg/dL may help protect you against heart disease and one of the few factors to help reduce the “bad' LDL cholesterol.
Lucky for us, we can control our cholesterol to a point. Regular physical activity can help the body produce more HDL. Eating a balanced nutritious diet can also increase HDL. Stay away from saturated and trans fats and lean towards fat from plants and vegetables. Always consult with your physician but work at home and focus on reducing these negative foods form your diet as much as possible. Always include exercise as part of your daily routine and I am confident you look and feel better from the inside out.
For me, writing on a regular basis is difficult as I was not gifted with the flow of words. I get a ton of thoughts in my head but when I go to write nothing comes out as I imagine. This is what separates me from real writers so I thank you for bearing with me. I planned to write about cholesterol for today's topic but as I started to organize my thoughts I realized I need to talk about a different topic first. This happens to me on occasion. I will never claim to be a pro on all topics but I will do my best to break down what I have learned and stay on a logical path so we can all have a better understanding. I realized I cannot write about cholesterol until I know we have a basic understanding of fat. Today I will discuss different types of fats, where they are found, and which is considered “good” and “bad” fat. This article will be followed up later this week with a breakdown of cholesterol types within the body, how these fats affect our cholesterol levels and what our numbers mean when we get blood work done.
Fats are nutrients that give you energy and help in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fats are either saturated or unsaturated, and most foods with fat have both types but usually there is more of one kind of fat than the other. Our bodies need fat for survival but we can make better choices, hopefully minimizing our over-indulgence and love for fatty foods when we understand the effect on our body.
Saturated fats- Our objective is to stay away saturated fats. When you cook meat and strain the fat you see as it cools it turns to a solid state. That is an example of saturated fat. Of course this fat often remains in the food we consume. It is mostly in animal food such as meat, cheese and milk. Fish and poultry have saturated fat but in smaller amounts. You will also find saturated fats in tropical oils such as palm oil, coconut oil and cocoa butter. and in non dairy items such as creamer or whipped toppings. Picture shortening, margarine, butter...all solid state fats..all saturated fats...bad fats. Over time we have developed the skill of hydrogenation. This process increases the shelf life of fat and makes the fat harder at room temperature. Full hydrogenation increases the amount of saturated fat.
Trans fats (trans-isomer) fall under the saturated fat category but are thought to be more harmful than saturated fats. Let's consider these the 'skull and crossbones” fats. Stay away! You will find trans fats in processed foods, cookies, chips and crackers, many salad dressings and foods made with partially hydrogenated oils. Trans fats are made by a chemical process called partial hydrogenation. One would think partial hydrogenation shouldn't be as bad as full hydrogenation but it is worse. Liquid vegetable oil (an otherwise healthy monounsaturated fat) is packed with hydrogen atoms and converted into a more solid fat. This helps with better melting and crisping which we all tend to enjoy. Keep in mind, trans fats also increase triglyceride levels in the blood, adding to our risk of cardiovascular disease. Triglyceride is a form of fat that’s made in your body. Many people with heart disease, diabetes or both have high triglyceride levels.
Unsaturated fat is in a liquid state at room temperature and is found mostly in oils from plants and vegetables. When you consume fats you should try to get your intake mainly from unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fat break down into two major types. Monounsaturated fat which is in vegetable oils, such as canola, olive, and peanut oils and polyunsaturated fat mainly in vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, sesame, soybean, and corn oils. Polyunsaturated fat is also the main fat found in seafood. There are two types of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
|Sources of Saturated Fats||Healthier Options|
Low-fat or reduced-fat cheese
White meat chicken or turkey
Egg whites, an egg substitute (e.g. Eggbeaters), or tofu
Skim or 1% milk
Plain, non-fat yogurt
All fats play a major role in our cholesterol levels so I hope I provided you with a basic understanding of types of fats. Try to choose smart fats for consumption. Your arteries will thank you. Please visit again next week for information relating to fats and our cholesterol.
This is one of my favorite times of year. Air conditioners turned off and windows open, kids are excited going back to school, football begins, indescribable colors begin to blanket the trees, boots (my addiction) are back and fluffy soft sweaters are waiting to be worn. Soon everyone's house will smell amazing because its time to bake cookies and eat “winter food.” While there are a multitude of benefits to the season, there are also challenges. It is up to us to get in front of these challenges before we are mentally and physically affected.
We begin with less daylight which causes depression in many people. These shorter daylight hours lead to less time to participate in outdoor activities. These decreasing hours leads to a lack of Vitamin D which we naturally obtain from the sun and can make many feel lethargic without. Vitamin D levels are known to decrease during the winter months. Preliminary studies are finding women with health conditions including osteoporosis, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, cancer and hypothyroidism should discuss with their doctor their vitamin D levels and the best course of action to maintain these levels. Men and women with these conditions need to be proactive but please do not just go out and start popping supplements. Go get a check up with your doctor...your kids are in school now.. find an hour of your time to go to a doctor, have a few vials of blood taken and follow a doctor recommended course of action.
Shall we move to food choices? Thick, stick to your gut chicken and noodles, pot roast and potatoes and some killer lasagna are definitely on my menu at home during the cooler weather. I am not going to sit here and pretend I eat salad and grilled chicken all day every day. Moderation people! Vary your recipes...there is not a person reading this who can't pull up a Google search for “healthier pot roast recipe” . I am sure many pulled up a search to see who Charlie Hunnam is for the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey.” There are simple changes which can be made to almost any recipe without sacrificing taste, ie. applesauce for oil in baked goods. Another quick search found me a few great links for substitutes:
Maybe your mom would kill you if you alter the lasagne recipe. That is OK too...if you are eating healthy on a regular basis a night of cheesy meat laden lasagne will not break you. Include a salad at each meal. Watch your portion size, and don't roll yourself to the couch immediately after. Layer up and go for a walk in this cool evening weather. Remember to hit 10k steps a day for optimal health.
Do not let me hear you complain about all of the parties you have to go to and all the bad food people serve. Most of us bring a dish...bring something healthy to share and that bullshit excuse is over. You control you, no one else does. How about bruchetta, salsa, sushi, shrimp cocktail, vegetable platter, chicken and vegetable kabobs, fruit and cheese? All look beautiful and are healthy options. Still have a sweet tooth? Strawberries and light whipped cream on a bite of angel food cake. It looks amazing and not a bad option. It will be one of the quickest platters to be eaten at the party. Skip the whipped cream..make fruit kabobs. Even better... everyone seems to love food on sticks.
I wouldn't be a personal trainer if I didn't now bring up exercise. I don't care where or how you do it but you must exercise. Take your family out for daily bike rides, walk after dinner, shoot some hoops, go to a gym, or seek out a personal trainer who can help you with proper form, routine and assist in your motivation. People feel they can't afford the “luxury” of a trainer. Seriously?!? You can go out to a chain restaurant for dinner or you can hire a trainer. Same costs. You can go sit at the movies with some popcorn and a soda or you can hire a trainer...same cost. You can have a few mixed drinks and a plate of nachos on a Friday night or hire a trainer...same cost.
Strength training a few times a week and cardio daily is needed for all no matter your age or personal situation. One of my clients is 66 and had to start with me by doing every exercise from a chair. Yes, even jumping jacks from a sitting position. Was it hard for her to come to terms with at how she let herself go? Yes, Did she triumph over her challenges? Yes she did! She is down double digits in weight and for the first time, in more years than she cares to remember, she is touching her toes and more flexible. Her friends are starting to notice and compliment her. We are not done. Health is never done. I feel fortunate to be a personal trainer, I get to enjoy each milestone along with my clients.
In the beginning of this article, I mentioned depression. Many studies show that people who exercise regularly benefit with a positive boost in mood and lower rates of depression. I will expand upon this in future articles. Don't tuck yourselves away until next summer. Fight the seasonal blues, weight gain, and stress through exercise.
Please see also my previous post on stress management through exercise:
Today I started with my 5 am client and she walked in saying “Please no burpees today... I just can't do them. It was a long weekend.” Some days we focus on legs, other days could be chest and back but I gave her my usual smile because just about every day is a burpee day and she knows it. Not only did she get the burpees I had planned but she earned 10 more by saying my taboo word “can't” . She shot me the look of death I see by many but that is why she comes to me. I get her going on a Monday morning. She said she needs the motivation and direction and she knows she would never have pushed herself alone. This reminded me I needed to write my blog today about Burpees.
There are certain moves I feel are key elements to a well rounded workout. I have discussed a few in previous articles including push-ups, inverted rows, dead lifts, and squats. Lets look at what I consider to be the killer powerhouse move... the Burpee.
Where did the Burpee originate?
“According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the exercise was named in the 1930s for American physiologist Royal H Burpee, who developed the Burpee Test. He earned a PhD in Applied Physiology from Columbia University in 1940 and created the "Burpee" exercise as part of his PhD thesis as a quick and simple way to assess fitness. The exercise was popularized when the United States Armed Services adopted it as a way to assess the fitness level of recruits when the US entered WWII. Consisting of a series of the exercises performed in rapid succession, the test was meant to be a quick measure of agility, coordination and strength.” -Wikipedia
How do I Perform a Burpee?
Think back to when you were in elementary school. You gym teacher made you do squat thrusts. Burpees are an advanced version of squat thrusts. To perform a general burpee you must follow these steps:
Get into a squat position with your hands on the floor in front of you
Kick your feet back into a push up position
Return your feet back to the original squat position as quickly as possible
Immediately jump up in the air as high as you can
A second level burpee has one additional step
Get into a squat position with your hands on the floor in front of you
Kick your feet back into a push up position
Perform a pushup
Return your feet back to the original squat position as quickly as possible
Immediately jump up in the air as high as you can
There are additional challenging variations for the more advanced athlete but I do not require these in all workouts so they will be covered at a later date.
What are the Benefits of Burpees?
You are probably thinking by now “Why would anyone want to do a burpee? When creating an exercise regiment I have two primary objectives. Build strength and improve cardiovascular capacities. What better exercise could there be than one which encompasses both? Burpees are a fat burning, strength building, full body exercise which requires strength, balance, flexibility and endurance. In my opinion, the Burpee is the coup d'etat of exercises.
Strength Training-The burpee uses the resistance of your own body weight. With every repetition you work your arms, chest, quadriceps, front delts, glutes, lower back, hamstring, and abs. Strength training has repeatedly been shown to decrease body fat percentages, improve heart function, help arthritis discomfort, and relieve stress. Burpees will help you tone and sculpt the body.
Cardiovascular Benefit- Do a minute of burpees and you will see how it can challenge you. Your heart will be pumping. They help everyone, especially runners, keep an even balance between upper and lower body conditioning as well as heart and lung strength.
Flexibility- Burpees provide an increased flexibility in areas of the body such as hips, legs, back, and core.
Burns Fat- Burpees are a major fat burning exercise. By engaging so many muscles combined with the quick explosive action of the jump it proves to be one of the most intense full body exercises on the planet. Studies have shown that high intensity exercises like burpees burn up to 50% more fat than conventional strength training exercises. They have also been shown to speed up your metabolism which helps you burn more calories throughout your day.
Cheap, Cheap, Cheap- Burpees require no equipment and can be performed anywhere.
Burpees should be incorporated into every aerobic and strength training workout program no matter your level of fitness. Burpees should not be your only exercise. While it is a compound exercise it does not perform the pulling function which can be obtained through other exercises. Of course, check with your physician before starting any workout program.
For a beginner start with two burpees right now. Do them right now while it is fresh on your mind. Increase by two tomorrow, Continue to increase two a day for thirty days. You will start out pretty quickly but fade almost as fast. Take your time if you need to but get them done each day. I am confident you will feel the difference. Will you see the difference? Maybe, maybe not. It takes approximately eight weeks of exercise before you will notice a physical difference and twelve weeks for anyone else to notice. Do not get discouraged. Stick with it!
Are you a more advanced athlete? Feeling more confident? Start with five, increase by five each day. By day 30 you will reach 100 burpees in a day.
These are just a couple of ways to incorporate burpees into your workout. Have fun with the challenge. I would love to hear how you do!
I took a little break from writing...the hours of the day seem shorter during the summer months and who wants to sit in front of a computer. I have been having a great time enjoying family, friends and my clients. Outdoor Boot Camp has been a little sporadic due to weather constraints. I am hoping during the next few weeks weather will be clear and enable us to continue with better success. I also vacationed in NY for a family visit and enjoyed time with old friends. It is awesome when the years seem to disappear and are always able to pick up right where we left off.
Summertime can be complex when trying to stick to an exercise program. It seems there is always something people find to do in place of exercise. This isn't an issue if it is to participate in a sporting activity or swimming in a pool but it seems this is not what most often occurs. Usually the sporting event seems to be a softball beer league and there is more laying on pool floats than actually swimming any laps. There are more parties where we are eating until we are stuffed and seriously who wants to get up early and work out after a night of hanging out by a fire where drinks were flowing freely.
I am here to be that little voice in your head to stress the importance of daily exercise. My goal is not to turn you into a size 2. My goal each day is to help make you healthier. Sure, you may feel good now so do not see or feel the need to exercise on a daily basis but allow me to give you a look into what could be your future. I come from a family of overweight inactive people. Unfortunately, I get to see first hand how the inactivity has affected their health and how they are struggling as they have gotten older.
My father has had high cholesterol and has been taking medication for as long as I can remember. He is now a diabetic along with high blood pressure. He had quadruple bypass and did not follow doctor's orders as he should have by walking daily. He gets winded easily, he has absolutely no muscle tone or strength, and he has had a few emergency room trips during this year. Vacations had to be canceled last minute due to his health. Every issue he has had is due to lack of activity and poor diet.
My mother has been extremely overweight her entire life. Kudos to her these past two years where she finally tried to help herself (out of desperation from pain) and has lost 80lbs. Fear of death seems to have an affect on people and she is no exception. Unfortunately, she let so many years go by without caring for her health that it is partially too late. My mother takes 14 pills a day of various medications to try to help her circulation, high blood pressure, and various other illnesses. She is getting shots into her back due to damage to her body brought on by excessive weight. She can only walk short distances and can no longer sit without pain for flights and car rides to travel. I am proud of my mother now for doing water walking. Each morning she wakes up and goes to her pool and walks for an hour in the water. It helps her mobility and the water relieves pressure that she feels when walking on regular ground. At 70, she finally is realizing the importance of exercise but she has missed out on so much. She is starting to have more respect for what I do and we often discuss exercises she is capable of doing and has started physical therapy to help her mobility.
During this month I have also started with another new client. When we first spoke over the phone I knew she would be a challenge. On the first day meeting her I was surprised as I saw her get out of her car. She can barely walk without struggle. It broke my heart and she reminds me of my mom. She is overweight, in her late 60s, and had been advised by her doctor if she didn't lose weight and begin exercise asap she would not be using the upstairs of her home shortly. I did a standard senior testing for a baseline and during this testing found that she couldn't do any type of exercise in a standing position. She is overweight, weak and unstable. Every exercise is now performed from a seated position and we are working on basic flexibility. I provided her with a pedometer and each day she is to walk more steps than the day before. Do I want her to get to 10,000 steps a day..Absolutely..but I know this is a goal which will take time and determination. We discuss nutrition and portion size and she has started keeping a food journal for me so we can see which emotional triggers are attached to food. She was surprised that she feels sore after exercises I have her do. She is a little embarrassed that chair exercises could cause soreness. She should feel nothing but proud of herself in my opinion. She took the first step. In one month she is already feeling better, she is finding she can get around easier, and she is adding steps daily. I can't wait for her to be chairless but all in good time.
My cousin is in his 50s and also overweight. He had bypass surgery because his weight was causing so many complications for his health. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix, He has not followed doctors orders for exercise and he too is paying the price. More medications and more health issues.
I want to also point out two other people. My father in law is in his 70s. He has walked daily for as long as I have known him. He takes no medication and has no health issues. His wife, late 60s, also goes to the Y and works out regularly. She too takes no medications and has no health issues.
I tell you this in hopes to wake you up. Start now so you can enjoy your life and not be limited as you get older. Sure, you may feel good at 30 or 40 but you know how fast the years fly by. How will you feel after another 15 years of not caring for your body? Do you want to be the person who can't walk across a field to watch your grandchild play in a football game? Do you want to be the person who needs a cart to drive you to your child's college graduation because you can't walk from the parking lot? Do you want to be the person who has their children worrying about them every day due to your lack of health? Get your ass moving! Take it one day at a time.
It doesn't matter to me if you go to a personal trainer for help, join a gym or if you do it on your own. Stop taking your health for granted and get out daily and move. Your body will thank you and so will your family. Lead by example for your children and grandchildren. I guarantee you will make the world better for yourself and for them.