Thursday, April 30, 2009

Get Lean (with Abs!) in Time for Summer PART II

PART II: Get Lean (with Abs!) in Time for Summer

How to Get Lean: Exercise
One of the biggest aspects to getting lean is diet. The other is...dun dun dun...EXERCISE. As a certified personal trainer and professional athlete, I have seen this word evoke dread in many people, but note that you're technically exercising if you're running after your kids, playing with the dogs, walking across a massive parking lot, walking up stairs, etc.

All exercise takes is the following two things:
1. Motivation
2. Consistency

How to Get Motivated
You may already be 100% motivated to get lean. Great, then you can skip this part.

For the rest of you, here's how to get motivated:

1. GET A ROLE MODEL OR TWO. Check out fitness magazines or do a Google search for fit people and keep those pictures on your desktop, in your car, on the back of your phone, WHEREVER - just so that it stays in your face and helps you stay motivated to get to looking like that

2. YOU ARE GUARANTEED A LEAN, FIT BODY. Realize that you CAN and WILL get in awesome shape. It is not only possible, but guaranteed. Every body is meant to be fit and healthy - and you just need to give yours the time, training, diet, and consistency it needs to get there. It's a very simple formula with guaranteed results.

3. DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME. Do not spend ANY time whatsoever thinking about the shape you're in now and how bad it is and blah blah blah. Why do you care? You've already made the conscious choice to get fit and get healthy. Now there's no turning back. There is no point at all to looking in the mirror and being upset with yourself or beating yourself up for getting out of shape - just get your ass up and exercise and keep on going. One day, before you know it, you'll look in the mirror and be stunned. Let it happen.

How long until you're fit? It depends on the shape you're in and where you want to get, but in general, if you follow my dietary and exercise recommendations, you will be completely fit within 12 weeks (3 months). You will be there before you know it. It's already been 4 months since January and do you know where all that time went? It absolutely flew, didn't it? Same thing. Time flies when you exercise. Hokey, I know. ;)

Just GO
As a final piece of advice before we get to the meat of the exercise program:

JUST GO. Just get up. And get in your car. Or get your bike. And go to the gym. Drag yourself there if you have to. Look at your role model's picture, remind yourself that you will be fit and lean in a few short weeks if you just GO exercise right now.

Exercise Basics
Here's the plan. You need to do the following on a consistent basis:

1. Cardiovascular exercise, also known as cardio
2. Weight training, also known as strength or resistance training

Cardio Protocol
For those of you who are new to exercising, have a weak or unconditioned heart, or get easily out of breath, start smaller. Do the following:

1. Cardio 3 x week
2. Do 20-30 minutes of cardio for each session
3. Walk at a brisk pace on the treadmill, with a slight incline
4. Use the elliptical machine (great for bad joints), with slight resistance
5. Try the stair climber, bike, or rowing machine

It is important to work your way up by consistency doing the cardio and going longer or more intense each time. Yes, it may be hard and your heart may start pounding, but that will ease up as you condition your body to be strong. Your heart is a muscle. You must build it up.

The ideal cardio program for getting in shape quickly in time for this summer, is this:

1. 25-35 minute cardio session 1 x week
2. 20-30 minute High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) cardio session 2 x week

1. Do a full routine on one machine, increasing and decreasing your intensity every few minutes to keep your body guessing and burning fat
2. Keep it interesting by switching machines every 5-10 minutes (i.e. warming up on the treadmill, hopping over to the elliptical, then getting on the stairclimber, rowing on the row machine, and finishing on the bike - you get the picture)

NOTE: This is just an example of HIIT. There are many ways to do it. The basic formula is to warm up, increase intensity, then burst the intensity from moderate to hard and back to moderate in short intervals, then cool down. You can do this on any machine or even sprinting in front of your house.
Warm up 4-5 minutes
Increase intensity to MODERATE via incline/resistance and speed for 5 minutes
Increase intensity to HARD via incline/resistance and speed for 1 minute
Decrease intensity to MODERATE for 1 minute
Repeat MOD/HARD 1 minute cycles for 10 minutes
Burst MOD/HARD 30 seconds each for 2 minutes
Cool down 5 minutes

1. Recent research has shown that splitting up cardio into 10 minute sessions during the day can help burn more fat. Try doing a 10 minute session in the morning on an empty stomach, then take one or two 10 minute breaks during your day and do your cardio.
2. Do cardio on an empty stomach in the morning, if possible. Eating beforehand can slow the fat burn that occurs during cardio.
3. For a before-cardio energy boost, put 2 Tbsp. of raw honey in a 16 oz. glass of water and drink it up. It's a delicious carbohydrate and enzyme (protein) boost that will absorb quickly and will not interfere with fat burning during your cardio routine.

Weight Training Protocol
Losing fat and getting toned requires the use of weights - whether it's a machine, free weights, bodyweight, resistance bands, or pushing tires around.

Weight training is important to losing fat because muscle uses fat for energy. When you build muscle, you lose fat even while you're sleeping because your muscles need to fuel themselves.

NOTE TO WOMEN: You will NOT get bulky from weight training. Women do not have the natural physiques or testosterone levels to get bulky. The female bodybuilders you see are so low in bodyfat and so high in testosterone that their body starts transforming into a male-dominant physique - they even lose their periods and start developing male attributes like a deep voice. This will NOT happen to you on this exercise program.

1. Choose weights that are not too low and not too high for you. Test them out. You can always increase and decrease your weight as needed. Your goal is to be struggling by the end of the set.
2. Consistency is CRUCIAL. Train 3 x week.
3. Resting is CRUCIAL. You gain muscle by resting. Be sure to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night and rest for 1 day in between weight training sessions.
4. Do your abodminal exercises on 3 of your cardio days.
5. Rest between 45-60 seconds between sets.

There are a TON of weight training routines. You can mix and match and work muscle groups in an infinite number of ways. Here is an example I created specifically for weight loss and beginning/intermediate exercisers. (VIDEO COMING SOON!)

NOTE: Do everything in order.

Shoulders, chest, triceps, thighs/glutes
Shoulders - military press, 3 sets of 15 reps
upright rows, 3 sets of 15 reps
shoulder flys, 3 sets of 15 reps
Chest - incline bench flys, 3 sets of 15 reps
flat bench barbell (bench press), 3 sets of 15 reps
Triceps - standing cable pushdowns, 3 sets of 15 reps
Thighs/glutes - squats, 2 sets of 15 reps
lunges, 4 sets of 20 reps
seated leg extensions, 4 sets of 20 reps
donkey kicks, 4 sets of 20 reps

Back, biceps, hamstrings, calves
Back - straight arm pulldowns (wide grip), 3 sets of 15 reps
seated boat rows (wide grip), 3 sets of 15 reps
standing barbell upright rows, 3 sets of 15 reps
Biceps - hammercurls, 3 sets of 15 reps
isolation bicep curls (machine), 3 sets of 15 reps
Hamstrings - hamstring curls, 4 sets of 20 reps
straight leg deadlifts, 4 sets of 20 reps
Calves - seated calf machine, 4 sets of 25 reps

Major fat-burning muscle groups.

Squats - 3 sets of 25
Deadlifts - 3 sets of 15
Pull-ups - 3 sets of 10
Bench press - 3 sets of 15-20
Pull-overs - 4 sets of 20

Good luck and enjoy. Feel free to comment or email me with any questions.