The Truth About “Cardio”

So what really is cardio? Let me break it down for you :

Cardio – Any bout of exercise that raises your heart rate typically >/=20 minutes

Exercise – Activity requiring physical effort, carried out especially to sustain or improve health or fitness

Allow me to redefine what you mean when you say “I need to do more cardio” — “I need to do more exercises to raise my heartrate to improve the way I look and feel”

Application of cardio workouts to our fitness routines are one of the biggest misconceptions with regard to fitness that I have seen to date.  They are the premise of what we believe it means to be fit, but with a little bit of knowledge you can improve your fitness without being stuck on a that dreaded treadmill for 45 minutes.

Introducing….(drumroll please) short rest intervals! If the definition of cardio is to sustain an elevated heartrate, the way we go about doing so is entirely individualized.  I am not into those long boring dreaded runs on the treadmill so here is how I go about doing my cardio, and how you can go about doing the same thing.

Supersets – Grouping of multiple exercises together with little to no rest in between.  If you are lifting weights, your body is working and your heartrate is increasing and that is a fact.

The key here is to be aware of the time you are spending in between exercises and sets. If you are going from one exercise to the next with little to no rest in between, your body is maintaining a level of cardiorespiratory work (elevated heart rate) along with muscular demand (building lean body tissue) to help increase both body composition and heart health.

The fact of the matter is that running on a treadmill isn’t necessarily for everyone but improving fitness and body image certainly is.  By lifting weights with little to no rest in between exercises and sets, you are getting the best of both worlds in that you are :

A: Doing “cardio” – Demanding that your heart supplies the working tissues with blood and other necessary means to produce work – elevating your heartrate

B: Building muscle.  The single most effect way to change body composition.  Building muscle will increase the amount of calories you expend at rest in order to get that shape to your body that you have always wanted.

C: Enjoying your workouts: The single most important piece of the puzzle.  Find what you enjoy and stick with it; there is no one size fits all!

 

7 Reasons to Exercise That Have Nothing to do With Appearance

Let’s face it: an aesthetic physique is a huge benefit to working out, but if that’s your only reason behind hitting the gym then that hard earned body may be short lived. It’s easy to stay motivated when you have summer time or a big event coming up. I’ve fallen victim to the cycle of exercising like crazy for vacation and then letting myself slip again once it ended.

I never thought about the countless benefits of exercise that last long beyond a sexy summer body. Once you learn to appreciate what exercise does for you physically, mentally, and emotionally then it is easy to find the motivation to take care of yourself day in and day out – regardless of what time of the year it may be. Focus on developing a healthy relationship with your body and mind and I promise you the physique will follow.

Looks may fade but these benefits will last a lifetime!

  1. Reduced risk of disease. And I mean a lot of disease. Heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes, and even some cancers just to name a few.
  2. Relieves stress & reduces risk of depression. Exercise increases feel good endorphins and decreases cortisol which, is released during stressful times.
  3. Better nights sleep. If you toss and turn at night, research shows that regular exercise (150 minutes per week) improves sleep quality and makes you feel more rested upon waking.
  4. Longevity & Youthfulness. Not only will you live longer but you will also look younger in the process. Exercise lengthens your body’s telomeres therefore turning back the biological clock. Get outta here wrinkles.
  5. Brains > brawn. Exercise increases motor neuron size and forms new brain cells. It also prevents cognitive issues as we age. Who says muscle heads can’t be smart?!
  6. Immune system. People who work out experience 50% less colds than people who don’t. Who needs emergen-c when you have the gym?
  7. Confidence. Crushing goals in the gym, accomplishing things you struggled to do weeks ago, setting new personal records. Working out allows you to take back control of your life.

7 reasons to stop focusing on what you see in the mirror. 7 reasons to stop looking at the fitness models in the magazine. 7  reasons to step off the scale. 7 incredible reasons to get up and get active. Give your mind & body the love it deserves. Treat yoself – the right way!

Are Sugar Free Health Treats Free of Consequence?

The supplement industry is a 37 billion dollar industry, and its no question why.  It’s the first place people go to find a quick fix for sugar free/high protein snacks.  While they may be sugar free and convenient, are they really allowing you to achieve the results you want?

Processed is processed. Whether it’s a bag of Doritos or a sugar free 100 calorie pint of ice cream that contains aspartame, cyclamate, or other artificial sweeteners, you are not doing your body justice.

Artificial sweeteners found in these sugar free snacks can pose many harmful effects on the body. Lets look a little bit deeper at some of the issues you may find in your cinnabon protein bar.

Studies show artificial sweeteners..

  • Increase cravings. Your body will think it is receiving sugar but then it never actually does. Your brain and body are still waiting for these calories to get there but they don’t. It’s like being stood up on a date. Poor brain. Therefore the body never receives the trigger saying that you are “full” and cravings continue to increase.
  • Weight Gain. These foods cause a disruption in your hormones causing increased fat storage leading to weight gain. Researchers found that diets with artificial sweeteners cause GREATER weight gain than regular sugar even when the total caloric intake remained similar, (Massey, 2012).
  • Increase risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Excess use of some sweeteners can even cause and increased risk of Alzheimers disease.

The bottom line: Fill your days with REAL food. Buy organic when possible (we know it is expensive #socollege). Check labels for words that you can’t even pronounce..this usually means it sucks. Our bodies are smart machines and when they are fueled properly they will respond thankfully. Take the extra couple of minutes to love your food and it will love you back!

Working Out : Facts vs. Fiction

There is really no debate anymore, we live in a world of social activation.  Platforms on social media empower the popular to preach and the audience to act; Fact.  Whether it be in fitness, fashion, or bottle flip challenges, we see it and we do it.  I think there are many upsides and downfalls with the emergence of self-promotion and we as a collective audience need to be able to draw that line between what we see on social media and what we do in real life.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, the point of this post is not to discriminate towards those promoting fitness on a global stage (by the way you should check out our instagram page; realfitness_ec) but rather to help educate the majority who are seeking real advice on day to day basis on how to become fit.  I’ve outlined a few facts and fallacies about lifting & becoming fit to help you on your journey to becoming the best version of you, and reaching those goals that we hope you’ve set for yourself:

Fiction : Low carb diets and working out hard will make you skinny.

Real quick, does anybody wait for their gas light to come on in their car before going on a long road trip?  Better yet, would you want your pilot emptying out all of the jet fuel in its tank before flying you across the country to go on vacation?  My assumption here would be no Evan, I don’t want my car to stall out and I don’t want this plane to come crashing down while I’m just trying to have a good time.

Fact : WE MUST FUEL OUR BODIES!

Carbohydrates are the foundation of exercise and believe it or not, we need these scary ingredients in our diets to perform work.  The carbs we consume are stored in the body as glycogen, and our muscles utilize this macronutrient to generate muscle contractions. (I won’t get into the nitty gritty about exercise physiology, it is beyond the scope of this post and the key here is to understand the general concept of fueling our workouts). So in real english —> No carbs=No Energy=No Work.

If our goal is to lose fat, we need these carbs in our body so we can generate muscular force to produce muscular contractions so we can pack on that lean muscle tissue in order to burn more calories at rest. Carbs won’t make you fat, but eating 2 bags of chips and a loaf of bread right before bedtime probably will.  The truth here is that just like anything else, we need to find satisfaction through moderation and control, and make the right choices when consuming our carbs.

Fiction : Accessory work is the key to our success.

As a trainer myself, I see the emergence of performing accessory work at the gym for your average gym attendee as laugh out loud funny.  I’ve also learned that this phenomenon could be attributed to lack of understanding and so for that reason I’ve learned that its best to hold back my laughter and define what this term actually means and what its benefits are before telling you what you should really be doing in the gym.

Accessory Work : Single joint exercises that are highly specific and typically focused one target muscle group or area.  Ex : Bicep curls, calf raises, crunches, shoulder shrugs.

These exercises are great for bodybuilders with a target focus of enhancing the musculature of this one area, or for those recovering from injury to build strength and enhance protection of these areas with muscle tissue to become functional again.  The best way I can put it is to just look at the term and think to yourself what the word “accessory” really means.  If you’re having trouble, I’ve defined it for you myself below:

Accessory : A thing that can be added to something else in order to make it more useful, versatile, or attractive. (I pulled this definition right from google)

*Added to something else*—> Let’s now learn about what this “something else” just might be.

Fact : Compound exercises aka exercises involving activation of multiple muscle groups, is the key to our success in the gym.

The more we incorporate our muscles into our exercises the greater the benefit. Compound movements, also known as multi-joint exercises, provide the opportunity for greater production of muscular force which in turn causes a greater breakdown muscle.  The greater the breakdown, the greater the rebuilding process, the more muscle we build.  Some examples of highly effective compound exercises we can throw into our workouts: Bench Press, Seated Row or Bent Over Row, Lat Pull Down, Overhead Shoulder Press, Upright Row, and of course our bread and butter; Squatting and Deadlifting.

**Just because I have outlined these compound exercises does not mean that everybody is ready for them or can perform them with sufficient form.  I would advise anybody looking to start a real workout plan to consult with a trainer/professional before doing so, or of course you can always contact us so we can help you.  If you’re looking to become more effective in the gym and get real results, feel free to visit our contact page to ask us about any of our online trainings that we offer! **

How to Get “Toned” for Summer

So many people come into the gym with the goal of “toning” their body.

Essentially, toning is a myth. In order to see musculature or tone of the body you have to have those muscles in the first place. This is best done by increasing lean body mass and decreasing fat mass. In order to increase lean body mass you have to ~drumroll please~ STRENGTH train! Thorough strength training along with some cardio and healthy eating you will be firming the body and shedding fat or “toning”.

Strength training means putting stress on the muscles. Sets of 8-12 reps where the last rep is a challenge is sufficent…NOT 15-20 reps of flying through the weight. By overloading the muscles you are increasing lean body mass while also increasing your resting metabolism (burn more calories at rest).

So to tighten up that bod for the summer heres the equation:

more lean body mass (muscle) = the more calories burned at rest  = less fat = toned 

Whether it be HIIT, circuit training, split body, or whatever your personal preference…be sure to add strength training coupled with some cardio and healthy eating and see phenomenal results.