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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Study Shows 1 Obscure Trick to Make ANY Exercise Program or Workout MUCH More Effective


I've read about this very interesting Harvard University study about exercise multiple times in the past, but I was just recently reminded about this study again while reading the fascinating book called 59 Seconds  by Richard Wiseman.

Pay attention, because this actually shows a pretty powerful trick that you can use to literally make ANY workout or exercise program a LOT more effective and results producing.

According to the book 59 Seconds, here's how this study was carried out:

Researchers at Harvard University studied over 80 hotel room cleaning attendants from 7 different hotels.  The hotel room attendants naturally received a lot of exercise from their daily jobs, which included cleaning an average of 15 rooms per day at about 25 minutes per room.  This work involves a good deal of exercise in carrying things, scrubbing, lifting objects, vacuuming, and so on.

The researchers knew the hotel maids led an active lifestyle from their work, but also questioned whether most of the maids may not realize that their work was actually good for their health.  The researchers set out to study the effects on the hotel attendants of making them very aware of how beneficial the exercise they got while working was for their health, and to see if this increased the results that they actually received from the exercise.

Basically, the question was... Would telling them that their work was great exercise improve their health, lower their blood pressure, and help them to lose weight compared to the hotel attendants that didn't realize their work was in fact "exercise"?

The hotel attendants were split into 2 groups:

1. This group was informed about the benefits of exercise and told how many calories they were burning while doing their hotel cleaning work each day. They were specifically told how many calories activities such as changing sheets, vacumming, and scrubbing bathrooms were burning each hour.

The researchers also wanted this information to stick in their heads daily, so they gave the attendants a handout showing the quantities of calories they were burning doing each activity of their jobs.  They were also shown a poster daily that reinforced how many calories they were burning.

2.  The control group of hotel cleaning attendants was simply informed of the benefits of exercise, but were NOT told how many calories they were burning doing their work, and also were NOT told that their work actually constituted a good form of exercise.

The researchers studied the existing lifestyles of all of the participants in both groups as well as giving them various health tests, including weigh-ins.

The study was conducted for 4 weeks.  The researchers made sure that none of the participants had actually changed their exercise habits, smoking, or eating habits outside of work.  This assured that there was no external lifestyle factor that could have accounted for the results of the study.

In addition, the hotel managers assured that the workloads of both groups stayed the same throughout the entire experiment.

Here are the VERY interesting results:

It turned out that the group of hotel cleaning attendants that was informed daily about the calorie-burning effects of their normal work routines ended up losing a significant amount of weight, lowered their body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio, and decreased their blood pressure.

The control group of hotel attendants that was not told about the calories they burned while doing their work showed NONE of these improvements.

Wow... very interesting huh! 

Remember that each of these groups received the SAME amount of exercise and did not alter their lifestyle, eating habits, drinking habits, smoking, or anything else.  The only thing that was different between the 2 groups was simply that the one group was constantly being reminded of how beneficial the exercise during their work was for their health and how many calories they were burning, and therefore their minds were busy believing in the benefits of it.

This actually doesn't surprise me... this is classic placebo effect at work here, and reinforces how powerful our brains are in relation to the results we get from exercise, food, supplements, etc.

How to use this info to burn more fat in your workouts, build more lean muscle, and improve your health more from exercise and nutrition

There's a good lesson in this study.  If you strongly believe in your mind that the workouts that you are doing are drastically improving your body, your results will increase dramatically from those workouts. 

The trick I've used over the years is to really "get mental" during your workouts and believe strongly that the exercise you are doing is transforming your body into a lean chiseled machine. (This is assuming that you're actually doing legit workouts such as Truth About Abs routines and not just wasting time reading a magazine while pedaling away on a boring exercise bike or treadmill).

So, if you want to burn more fat, not only do you need to workout intensely (for your individual capabilities), but you also need to mentally visualize the results you're getting, the bodyfat you are burning, and really strongly believe in how powerful the workout routine that you are doing really is for your body.

Along the same lines, if your goal is to build more muscle, then you really need to strongly believe in your mind at how powerfully your workouts are helping you to build muscle.

And this can be applied to your food intake too!

Don't underestimate how powerful your mind really is... If you are eating healthy foods such as those detailed in my Truth About Abs manual , make sure that you are also actively thinking in your mind about how those foods are dramatically helping your body, making you stronger, making you leaner, improving your energy and health, and so on.

Don't ignore this... this will drastically improve your results if you actively think about how truly healthy the foods you are eating every day are and how they are changing your body.  This is assuming that you actually are eating truly healthy foods every day.

Another benefit of this "mental programming" is that it trains you to actually want to avoid junk foods, because you want to be able to think about how everything you eat is improving your body instead.

So there you go... an interesting study that shows how you can legitimately increase your results from your exercise and nutrition by just actively thinking about the benefits of both every day!

 

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The "Land Meat" That Rivals Wild Salmon in Omega-3 Content

The "Land Meat" That Rivals Wild Salmon in Omega-3 Content -- Grass Fed Beef & Other Grass Fed Meats

Improve your health, lose body fat, and build muscle with one of the healthiest protein sources available

healthy grass fed steaksI know you've heard all of the buzz over the last few years about the health benefits of wild salmon and other fish that have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

However, did you know that there's a "land meat" that has similar omega-3/omega-6 ratios as wild salmon?  In fact, this "land meat" not only contains as much, or even higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, but without the possible negatives such as heavy metals (mercury, etc) and PCBs that can be found in fish frequently.

I've talked about this type of meat before and how it's one of the healthiest forms of meat you can possibly eat... It's grass-fed beef and other grass-fed ruminant meats such as bison, buffalo, lamb, and venison.

Now I know that a lot of people will try to convince you that meat is not good for you... and to be honest I partially agree with them when it comes to your typical factory farm-raised meat where the animals are fattened up with huge quantities of grains & soy that are not their natural diet & given unhealthy doses of hormones, antibiotics, etc.

However, when animals are healthy and eat the diet they were meant to eat naturally, the meat is actually healthy for us.  Not only are grass-fed meats a super-high quality source of muscle-building proteins, but they are also a great source of healthy fats (surprisingly to most people).

Let's take beef for example... When cattle eat mostly grain and soy, the fat composition of their meat becomes higher in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids (which most of us already consume too much omega-6's) and lower in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids (which are typically lacking in modern diets). 

On the other hand, when cattle eat mostly grass instead of grains & soy, their meat becomes higher in omega-3s and lower in omega-6 fatty acids, achieving a more natural balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fats.  In addition, grass-fed beef also contains much higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has shown some promising benefits in studies for losing body fat and gaining lean muscle mass.

Note - only the natural form of CLA from grass-fed meats and dairy has shown the fat loss and muscle building benefits in studies... beware of the supplement pill forms of CLA, which are artificially created.

A similar comparison can be made between wild salmon and farm raised salmon. Wild salmon is a healthier option than farm raised salmon and has higher levels of omega-3's because the wild salmon eat what they're supposed to eat naturally. On the other hand, farm raised salmon are fattened up unnaturally with grain/soy based food pellets which detrimentally changes the salmon's fat ratio of omega-6 to omega-3.

The problem is that it is VERY hard to find healthy grass fed meats in typical grocery stores. In fact, even at health food stores, you might find some "organic" meats (which is at least a little better than standard), but it is often hard to find any real grass-fed meats.

Well, about 2 weeks ago, I did some searching and found a great website that sells all kinds of varieties of grass-fed beef and other healthy grass fed meats...

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They have everything you could ever want... grass-fed burgers, ribeye steaks, filet mignon & any other quality beef cuts, grass-fed buffalo, grass-fed cheeses, and even free-range chicken and turkey! 

And better yet, they deliver it right to your house with no shipping costs either... and I actually found that the prices were pretty comparable to what I usually pay at the grocery store anyway.

I'll tell ya... I was like a kid in a candy store when I found this site. I placed my order for all kinds of goodies on a friday, I got a shipping notification email that Monday, and my delivery came right to my door the very next day in a sealed cooler... I couldn't believe the service I got from this company.

Wouldn't it give you peace of mind to know that you and your family are eating meat that is actually good for you instead of the mass produced junk at most grocery stores? I know I'm getting most of my meat from them from now on.

Everything in my order ended up being awesome... here's my recommendations:

  • the grass-fed filet mignons (delicious and tender!)
  • grass-fed burgers and bison burgers when I need a quick but healthy 5-minute meal (use some grass-fed cheese and sprouted grain roll for the ultimate balanced meal)
  • the free-range chicken and turkey sausages (makes great italian dishes or healthier breakfast sausage)
  • grass-fed cheese and butter (higher in CLA and omega-3 than normal butter or cheese)
  • they even have free-range turkeys available for big family meals (you won't find free-range turkeys in stores)

Plus, besides getting much healthier meat than you'd ever find in the store, another benefit to this site was that it was like doing my grocery shopping from my living room, instead of fighting the crowds at the store.

Well, they've got me hooked, and thought I'd pass on this little discovery to you. Here's the site again...

 

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The Top 3 Things to AVOID at Restaurants to Stay Lean and Healthy

I've been traveling a lot for business in the last year, and I've noticed that most people totally fall off their fitness routines while traveling...

In fact, eating out at restaurants frequently is one of the biggest reasons why so many people fatten up while traveling.  It's almost damn near impossible to eat healthy when you dine out, UNLESS you follow a couple simple tricks that I use to make every restaurant meal healthier, reduce calories, and not lose control.

Here's a few tricks you can use to eat healthier and stay lean even while traveling on business or eating out any time for that matter...

The 3 most important things to avoid that are EVERYWHERE at restaurants are:

  • the deep fried foods
  • the refined starchy foods
  • and any sodas, juices, or other sugary foods (except whole fruits, which are great)

This eliminates the major food sources that do the worst damage in our food supply - the evil trans fats , the inflammatory refined vegetable oils , refined starches, and processed sugars.

This means trying to skip the table bread, skipping the french fries (that come with every single sandwich on every menu known to man), and reducing all of the heaping portions of rice and pasta that are often loaded on the plates as well.

Instead, try to order just meat, side vegetables, and a salad, asking for the vegetables or salad as a substitute for the typical fries, rice, or pasta that the meal probably comes with.

Almost every restaurant I've ever been to will always allow me to substitute veggies or a side salad for the fries or chips that almost always come with sandwiches or burgers.

Side note:  It always amazes me how many people scrutinize me because I substitute veggies for fries by telling me that I'm "not living" because I won't eat fries...

Yet they are always the first to complain that they are overweight and have "tried everything", yet can't lose weight.  I'm not sure why so many people think eating french fries equals "living it up"... I'm all for moderation with many things, but if there's 2 things that should be almost totally removed from everyone's diet because these foods are simply that evil... it's fries and sodas!

Take a look at the typical difference this simple substitution makes between choosing smart and doing what most people do...

Most people will eat a meal out such as this:

  • Sandwich or burger
  • fries or chips
  • soda or other sweetened drink

A MUCH smarter alternative for a leaner, healthier body is very simply this:

These 2 simple substitutions save at least 400 - 900 calories EACH time you dine out (depending on drink refills and fries portion sizes)... AND you're cutting out the most harmful foods to your body as well by avoiding the trannies and high fructose corn syrup.

Also, it may be rare to find this in most restaurants, but if you can find some that offer much healthier grass-fed beef burgers, it's a much smarter decision compared to grain fattened beef.

Side note:  a little-known way to eat full portions of rice, pasta, and breads and actually get away with it without packing on the bodyfat is to make sure to schedule a high intensity full body resistance training workout before your scheduled meal time.

Sometimes it may be hard to fit the workout into your schedule right before the meal event, but if you can, the meal can be your " post-workout meal ", in which case, your body can handle a higher amount of carbs than normal to help replenish the muscle glycogen depletion you had during the intense workout.

A cardio workout WON'T cut it for this... it must be high intensity resistance training to deplete enough muscle glycogen to handle restaurant portions of carbohydrates .

I hope these dining tips help you choose smarter and healthier next time you eat out. Feel free to share this article with your friends:

 

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The Ultimate Muscle Meal... a Salad on Roids

Today, I just wanted to share with you my special muscle meal of the week, and it actually comes in the form of a salad.

I know the ladies will love this idea, but for all of you guys out there that think eating a salad makes you less of a man... Well, you haven't tried the ultimate "salad on roids" yet!

Keep in mind that this salad is not low in calories. It's not low in fat. It's not low in carbs.

And guess what...that's the whole point!

It's not low in anything, but it sure as hell is HIGH in everything under the sun that's good for your body... just about every vitamin, mineral, antioxidant, and phytonutrient on the planet! And that means your body will receive all the nutrition it needs to maintain optimal hormonal balance, function at it's highest capacity, keep your appetite satisfied for hours, and prevent any unwanted cravings.

Keep in mind that last point... when you fill your body with all of the nutrients it needs on a daily basis, you pretty much totally eliminate cravings! This happens because your body is satisfied and doesn't need to crave any more food, because it has all of the nutrients it needs.

I've experienced this myself. Years ago, I used to crave sweets ALL THE TIME. But now that I eat the balanced diet that I do these days, I can't say that I've had a craving in at least 5 years! No joke.

Alright, here's the recipe:

The Ultimate Muscle Salad

  • approx 1 cup spinach leaves
  • approx 1 cup mixed leaf lettuce
  • shredded carrots
  • 1/2 of a ripe avocado, diced
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, diced (preferrably organic, cage free)
  • 3 Tbsp chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • top with homemade dressing made of balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, and Udo's Choice Oil Blend (3/4 of total liquid should come from the vinegar) - read this article about the type of salad dressing to NEVER eat

Mix it all together and you've got one delicious and ridiculously nutritious salad. For an extra shot of antioxidants, wash it all down with some homemade iced green/white/oolong tea lightly sweetened with the natural sweetener Stevia or a little touch of raw honey.

Alright, now let's look at the approx macronutrient breakdown:

Prot: 23 g., Carbs: 46 g., Fiber: 12 g., Fat: 45 g., Calories: 640

Now before you throw your arms up in disgust and call me crazy for recommending such a high fat, high calorie meal, keep in mind to scale back the portion sizes for your own caloric goal. The portions above are simply the portions that I use considering that my maintenance caloric intake is around 3000 calories/day. If your maintenance is 2000 calories/day, then scale back the portions accordingly.

Also, I don't care about the high fat content of this meal... because every last gram of the fat in this meal is VERY healthy... from the pecans, the olive oil, the Udo's oil, the fresh avocado... and yes, even the fat from the egg yolks is good for you !

All of this healthy fat makes it a very hunger-satisfying meal, causing you to eat less for the remainder of the day (that's right... no cravings later that night!).

How about the carbs ? Well, out of a total of 46 grams, you've got approx 12 grams of fiber. That's a pretty good ratio. Also, the healthy fats and protein in this meal will slow down the carbohydrate digestion, giving you a healthy glycemic response and steady controlled blood sugar.

Alright, so you're probably also wondering why there isn't a larger amount of protein. After all, protein is all the rage with bodybuilders, right.

Well, actually 23 grams isn't too shabby, especially considering 14 grams of that comes from the highly bioavailable protein from the hard boiled eggs. Also consider that this meal has a whole lot of healthy fats, which increases the utilization of your protein. This happens because your body does not need to use your protein for energy, and can instead use it for muscle building & maintenance, and all of the other various functions that amino acids are needed for in the body.

Overall, with this meal, you've got a great mix of healthy fats, good fibrous carbs, quality protein, and a huge diversity of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants , and other trace nutrients.

 

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Unique Lean-Body Workouts for Time-Crunched People: Super-Fast "Multi-Workouts" to do at Home or the Office



warning: this style of workout is WAY different than anything you've ever tried before and may result in a dramatically leaner, stronger body so that your friends no longer recognize you in a matter of weeks!

Alright, I exaggerated about your friends recognizing you, but this workout is still great for busy people that always use the excuse that they don't have time to go to the gym, or even for the normal gym rat to try out for a few weeks to break out of a plateau.

Please keep an open-mind and don't worry so much about what other people think, because this is quite different and you may get some funny looks, but you'll get the last laugh with your new rock hard body! To be honest, most people are too self conscious to try something like this. If that's the case for you, then that's your loss.

Here's how it works (these workouts can be done at home or even in your office):

Instead of doing your traditional workouts of going to the gym 3-4 times a week and doing your normal weight training and cardio routines for 45-60 minutes at a shot... with this program, you will be working out for just a couple minutes at a time, several times throughout each day, 5 days/week.

The program will consist of only bodyweight exercises done for about 2-3 minutes, 6-8 times per day, throughout each day. Now obviously if you work a normal office job, you are going to have to not be shy about doing a few exercises in your office and having your cube-mates watch you. Actually, I've found that some people that have tried this have actually gotten their co-workers to join them!

If you have a private office, then you don't have to worry about anybody watching you. If you work from home, or are a stay at home mom, there's no reason you can't fit these in throughout the day while at home. If you end up having a busy day with meetings and so forth, and can only fit a couple of these 2-minute workouts in, then so be it, but try to get as many done each day as you can.

If you're on a normal 9-5 office schedule, I recommend doing your 2-minute workouts every hour, on the hour, with the exception of lunch. For example, you could try 9 am, 10 am, 11 am, 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm, and 4 pm.

Some of the bodyweight exercises that are the best to focus on are:

  • bodyweight squats (and variations)
  • pushups (and variations)
  • forward, reverse, or walking lunges
  • up & down a staircase if one is available
  • floor planks (holding the plank position from forearms and feet)
  • floor abs exercises such as lying leg thrusts, ab bicycles, etc.
  • one-legged bodyweight Romanian deadlifts

This list is not fully comprehensive, but I wanted to keep it relatively simple. If you know other good bodyweight exercises, you can add those to your routine also. If you want to keep it real simple and don't want to get down on the floor for anything, you can stick to squats, lunges, and pushups and still get great results.

The good thing about these workouts is that you do enough in 2-3 minutes to get your blood pumping, heart rate up a bit, a large portion of your body's muscles worked, and body temperature raised. However, it's usually not enough to break a sweat in only 2 or 3 minutes, so you don't have to worry about sweating in the office or where ever you may be. At most, you might just get a little moist on the skin.

 

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Here's an example workout routine at home or the office (adjust the reps up or down based on your capabilities):

Mon/Wed/Fri
9 am - 10 pushups/15 bodyweight squats, repeat 1X for 2 sets
10 am - plank holds (hold the planks as long as you can taking short rest breaks for a total of 3 minutes)
11 am - 5 pushups/10 bodyweight squats, repeat for 4 sets
1 pm - plank holds (hold as long as possible in 3 minutes)
2 pm - 8 pushups/12 bodyweight squats, repeat for 3 sets
3 pm - plank holds (hold as long as possible in 3 minutes)
4 pm - max pushups/max bodyweight squats in one set (no repeat)

Tues/Thurs
9 am - 6 fwd lunges each leg/6 rev lunges, repeat 1X for 2 sets
10 am - one legged bw Romanian deadlifts (RDL) 6 each leg/floor abs for 20 sec, repeat 1X for 2 sets
11 am - 3 fwd lunges each leg/3 rev lunges, repeat for 4 sets
1 pm - one legged bw RDL 3 each leg/floor abs for 20 sec, repeat for 4 sets
2 pm - 5 fwd lunges each leg/5 rev lunges, repeat for 3 sets
3 pm - one legged bw RDL 10 each leg/floor abs for 30 sec (no repeat)
4 pm - max fwd lunges each leg/max rev lunges in one set (no repeat)

In order to progress on these workouts, you could either add 1 or 2 reps to each set per week, or you could progress to more difficult versions of each exercise each week (for example, close grip pushups, one leg raised pushups, squats with arms raised straight over head, etc.).

The above routines are just a couple examples of how you can use this very unique style of training. Use your creativity and come up with your own. Think about what you've accomplished with these "mini" workouts completed throughout each day... You've increased your heart rate and pumped up your muscles 6-8 different times throughout each day, burning a lot of extra calories and stimulating your metabolism.

Even though each "mini" workout was a very short duration, you've accumulated lots of repetitions for almost every muscle throughout your entire body, and you didn't even have to break a sweat during any of the "mini" workouts. And there's hardly any excuse for not being able to take a 2-minute break once per hour and do a couple of exercises.

Another benefit of this style of training is that now you don't have to devote any time before or after work to going to the gym because you already got your workouts little by little throughout the day. You've now got some extra free time on your hands!

Try this type of time-efficient workout routine out for 3-4 weeks and then go back to your normal gym routines. I think you'll find that it was a great way to break out of a plateau and stimulate new results in your body. You can try mixing in a cycle of these "mini" workouts every couple of months to keep things fresh.

Keep in mind that this is only one method of training and doesn't mean that you should only stick to this method for eternity. You will hit a plateau on any given training method, so I'd recommend just rotating it into your arsenal of various training methods. And by all means, don't worry so much about what other people think...have the courage to try something a little different. In the end, you'll be the one laughing back at all of the "blubber-bellies" at your office that are giving you funny looks while they eat their donuts!

Feel free to email this link on to any friends or coworkers that you think would like to try these types of unique quick daily workouts.  Heck, try to get your co-workers to do these with you if you can!

 

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Want Something Challenging?

Try My Bodyweight Squats Muscular Endurance Challenge


i told you last week that I'd be sending you out a training challenge this week. Well, here it is. I challenge you to try to beat my results at this little 5-minute routine. You'll see my results below.

I'm sure if you've been reading my info for some time that you know I like to get creative in the training routines that I recommend trying. I think trying different training styles and routines keeps things more interesting and can be motivating if you set specific goals for certain exercises.

In fact, if you didn't already see it, one of my unique training ideas was recently featured in the popular international magazine, Muscle & Fitness Hers, Jul/Aug issue pg. 18.

So my boredom buster this week is something I just thought up recently. I set a challenge with a couple of my training partners at my gym to see who could do the most repetitions of bodyweight squats in 5 minutes. I will qualify that these are meant to be full squats all the way down to thighs parallel with the ground, not the little "half way down" squats that you see so many people doing.

You basically just keep squatting for as many reps as possible in 5-min. You only rest a couple times here and there for a few seconds if you need it to help you keep squatting.

I liked this idea because I thought it would be drastically different from the normal 3 sets of 10, 5 sets of 5, 7 sets of 3, and so on. No matter how you break it down with weighted squats, you're usually in the range of 20-40 total repetitions in a given workout.

However, with max repetition bodyweight squats in 5-minutes, your numbers easily can get up to well over 100 reps. Let me tell you... even though you're not squatting heavy weights with this unique training style, the high volume of repetitions really pumps your legs and gets you dripping with sweat. Also, if you're not used to this high volume, your legs will be in for some deep soreness for about 2-3 days afterwards.

So the results? Well, in my first attempt at 5-minute squats, I pumped out 157 reps. About a week later, I tried it again, and beat my 1st number by repping 163 squats. Then the following week, I once again beat my former scores by blasting through 169 squats.

I've set the goal that I'd like to get up to 200 squats within the 5-minute time frame. Considering that you have 300 seconds in 5-minutes, I figured 200 reps might be about at the maximum possible capacity as you really need to be repping quickly to do 200 parallel squats in 300 seconds.

Anyway, you can see that this is just one of the many quirky training challenges that I think up on a regular basis that keeps me interested and keeps things fresh. It's a good idea to pick a goal like this and work towards it for a month or two and then pick something totally different and work towards that for a month or two. This gives your body some good variety while also allowing for progression because of the short term consistency.

For example, this muscular endurance goal of 200 squats in 5-minutes is on the totally opposite end of the spectrum when compared to a different goal that I trained for last year when I was training in a pure strength mode working up to a 405-lb deadlift. Changing things up like this and training for wildly different goals at different times can really help keep you interested in your workouts.

Alright, so go ahead and give this little 5-minute squat challenge a try (remember full squats, no halvsies).

Update:  several weeks after running this article, I ended up beating my goal of 200 bodyweight squats in 5 minutes by pumping out 214 reps!  Oh my, the burn!!

 

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What A "Muscle Head" Says About Organic Food


Last week I was talking about nutrition with one of my workout buddies and when I mentioned grass fed beef and "organic food" he asked, "Do you mean like what you get at Whole Foods Market?"

I said, "Yes, exactly... that's a natural food and organic supermarket." He said, "Yeah well, that place costs so much, I call it Whole Paycheck!"

I was rolling on the floor laughing, but the truth is, organic food really is expensive and so is grass fed beef and free range chicken, so it's a valid question to ask, "Is it worth it?"

After researching the subject and doing some personal experiments with my own diet, let me offer you my take on it from a bodybuilder's viewpoint. This is a perspective on organics you may not have heard before.

First, look at it this way - if you put the cheapest fuel in your luxury car, how well is it going to run and how many miles are you going to get out of it?

While I'm on car analogies, health and fitness author and educator Paul Chek once wrote about how ridiculous it is to watch how many $75,000 + cars pull up to the Mcdonald's or Burger King drive through window to buy $1.99 hamburgers.

I would say that's a serious case of screwed up priorities, wouldn't you? The driver has no problem shelling out the $1,100 monthly car payment, but it's too much to ask him to put premium fuel into his own "bodily vehicle."

How can you put ANY price tag on your body and your health? You can buy another car, but you've only got one body.

Now, as for the grass fed beef and organic foods question….

For best results in body composition improvement, which I define as burning fat and or building muscle, (and I'll even go as far as to say for optimal health as well), I am a believer in including animal proteins, including lean meats.

I have no wish to take up the vegetarian debate in this article. I respect vegetarians and acknowledge that a healthy and lean body can be developed with a vegetarian diet if it is done properly, although it may be more challenging for strict vegans to gain muscle for various reasons.

However, in recommending animal protein as part of a healthy fat loss and muscle building nutrition program, I do agree that we all need to give some serious thought to what is in our meat (and in the rest of our food).

Some people say that meat is part of our "evolutionary" diet and it's the way we were intended to eat and I wouldn't argue with that. But is the meat we're eating in today's modern society the same as what was hunted and eaten many thousands of years ago by our cave-man ancestors, or has some "toxic stuff" found its way into our beef, poultry and fish that wasn't there before?

I also think we should consider what is *missing* from our commercially grown food, that is supposed to be in there, that probably used to be there in the past, but may not be today.

A lot of people are not paying any attention to this... even people who should know better. I admit it - I was oblivious to this for a long time myself. Here's why:

I am not your typical "health and wellness" or "weight loss" expert. I am also competitive bodybuilder. We bodybuilders are well known for eating very clean diets with lots of lean protein and natural carbs, as well as for looking like "the picture of health" with our ripped abs and impressive muscularity.

We eat our oatmeal and egg whites for breakfast, and proudly walk around with our chicken breast, rice and broccoli or our flank steak, yams and asparagus, and boast about how perfect and clean our meals are and how our diets are already "clean" and could not be improved.

But how many bodybuilders or fitness enthusiasts are there - even serious, dedicated and educated ones - who don't give a single thought to the poisonous chemicals that might be lurking in our supposedly "clean" food?

The Food and Drug Administration lists more than 3,000 chemicals that can be added to our food supply. One billion pounds of pesticides and farming chemicals are used on our crops every year.

Depending on what source you quote, the average American consumes as much as 150 pounds of chemicals and food additives per year.

 

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Does ANYBODY out there think that this is good for you?

Didn't think so.

If you had a way to avoid all these chemicals and toxins, would you at least explore it, even if it cost a little more?

Although this topic is controversial and hotly debated, organic food is gaining in popularity and seems to fit this bill.

Food grown on certified organic farms does not contain:

Pesticides
Herbicides
Fungicides
Hormones
Antibiotics
Chemical fertilizers

It is also not:

Irradiated
Genetically modified

Beyond the "certified organic" label, grass fed beef and free range chicken (and eggs), have other advantages.

Not only can there be tons of antibiotics, hormones, and other chemicals in our meat, but also commercially raised beef is fed grain or corn and yet that is not what the animals were meant to eat.

The result - aside from sick, drugged animals - is a higher overall fat, higher saturated fat and a screwed up ratio of omega three to omega six fats, which is a very big problem today - even when you think you're eating "clean." Most people accept the idea that "you are what you eat," but they forget that the animals we eat are what they ate!

Last but not least, proponents of organic food suggest that the vitamin, mineral and phytonutrient content of commercially grown foods can be anywhere from a little bit low to virtually absent.

So... if organic and or grass fed beef and free range chicken can help us avoid some of these problems and dangers, then I'm all for it and the extra investment.

I started eating grass fed beef almost exclusively (except for my occasional restaurant steak), quite a few years ago, and I even mentioned it in my book, Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle

I can't say I eat entirely organic. I eat a lot of it, but not 100%. If I'm eating an apple or some blueberries, and it doesn't happen to be organic, I don't freak out over it. When you really study deeply into the subject of food processing, industrial pollution and commercial farming, it can almost scare you half to death, but I don't recommend getting "alarmist" about it.

Sometimes it's the people who live in fear of a disease who are most likely to get it. I for one, am not going to live in a plastic bubble to isolate myself from a "toxic world"… oh, wait... make that a ceramic bubble, plastics are really bad for you.

All joking aside, the fear of toxins can be taken to the point where the fear itself is unhealthy, but the more I study this subject - from a variety of sources and perspectives - the more the organic argument does make sense to me.

I've built my career in fitness based on being a natural bodybuilder, which means no steroids or performance enhancing drugs, so why would I expose myself to other chemicals if I can avoid them?

Honestly, I can't say I noticed any dramatic change in my physique or in the way I feel – at least not yet. I have always eaten clean and I was a successful bodybuilder for many years before I started eating more organic food and grass fed beef.

However, I feel confident about my decision to spend the extra money on grass fed beef, free range chicken (and eggs), and an increasing amount of organic food, knowing that I am avoiding toxins and getting more of the nutritional value I need to support my training and my health long term.

I'm certain this is the type of nutritional lifestyle change that can accrue benefits over time, even if you don't see an immediate "transformation."

One thing I would suggest before you run out for organic fruits and vegetables or grass fed beef and so on, is to consider what kind of shape your diet and your lifestyle are in right now. If your diet is currently such a total mess that you're drinking a lot of alcohol, smoking, abusing coffee and stimulants, not even eating ANY fruits and vegetables to begin with...

And if your idea of lean protein is the processed lunch meat you get in your foot long sub at the local deli, then I think it might be a little moot to worry about whether your fruits and veggies are 100% certified organic or whether your beef is grass fed. Just start cleaning up your diet and establishing new healthy habits, one step at a time. Focus on nutrition and lifestyle improvement, not perfection.

There are some very strong opinions on this subject. I am aware of that, and I'm not going to stand up on a pulpit and preach either way. What I have done here is simply share what I have found from my own research and what I decided to do in my own personal health and bodybuilding regimen.

My advice to everyone else is to become educated about what is really in your food, including how it is raised or grown, and to continuously seek ways to improve your nutrition above the level it's at now.

 

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The Worst Ab Exercise - Avoid This if You Actually Want Sexy Six Pack Abs

The truth about ineffective abdominal exercises and "ab machines"

lean stomach and six pack absI was at a poker party up in North Jersey over the weekend at a friend's house.  My friend had moved into this beautiful new home about a year ago, but I had never made it up for a visit until this weekend.

Well, as they were giving us a tour of the house, we took a peek into one of their spare rooms which wasn't being used for anything. The only thing they had in this room was one of those infomercial "ab loungers" covered in dust... you know, the ab-chair looking thingy that they hawk on the infomercials as being the end-all solution to a flabby stomach... telling you that you can get a flat stomach and perfect abs just by sitting on this thing and rocking a little bit while you lazily watch tv.

The cleverly marketed infomercials for these products lure you in by showing you the ripped sexy abs of the male and female fitness models that they hired for the show (who have never actually used these gadgets themselves...they actually got their toned near-perfection bodies through following REAL workouts and strict nutrition!)

Well, since this "ab lounger" was sitting in this vacant room getting dusty, obviously it wasn't actually being used, so it was really a waste of their money that they spent on it.

Regardless, even if it was being used regularly, it would never have given my friends the results they were looking for, because these infomercial ab gadget machines (and all ab exercises for that matter), don't accomplish the most important aspect of truly achieving flat six pack abs...

THEY DON'T STIMULATE ANY FAT LOSS AT ALL!

And worse yet, just for kicks, I jumped on this "ab lounger" and gave it a try... I have to say, I've never done any abs exercise where I felt it LESS in my abs... As a matter of fact, this piece of crap lounger didn't even feel like it was making my abs work at all!

It felt more like a lounge chair I should be using to relax with a beer at a barbeque.

My point of this story is that there are still thousands of people every day that fall for these gimmicks and waste their hard-earned money on every ab-gimmick that comes out next.

So what does it REALLY take to get flat sexy six pack abs?

1. It takes some commitment to doing REAL workouts... full-body multi-joint workouts using strategic combinations of the most effective exercises for stimulating the release of fat burning hormones in your body and increasing your metabolic rate to new levels.  These are the real types of workouts that actually stimulate the burning of stomach fat and increase your metabolism to reduce body fat over your entire body.

2. It takes introducing yourself to REAL nutrition... not fad diets, not restrictive starvation, not overly processed "diet" foods, not bogus "extreme fat loss" pills... but a truly nutrient-dense natural balanced diet that FEEDS your body with what it needs instead of starving it.

3. It takes the right success mindset to achieve these goals so that you can put everything into action and make it a part of your daily life for good.  This mindset aspect is the one most often overlooked and one of the reasons most people fail in getting their desired body.

If you don't already have a copy, all of these techniques are detailed in my internationally best-selling program - The Truth about Six Pack Abs .

Tens of thousands of users in 143 countries worldwide have already used the program to change their outlook on true fitness for good. Check out common questions & answers about this abdominal fat loss program to see if this program is a good fit for you.

Also, you can see some of the results that other Truth about Abs readers are experiencing .

Alright, my stomach is growling for my lunch, so I've gotta go. My "abs-approved" lunch of the day is:

  • A grass-fed bison burger topped with mushrooms and grass-fed cheddar cheese on an Ezekial sprouted grain bun.
  • A side salad of baby lettuce, carrot shreds, olive oil & balsamic dressing and avocado slices
  • A glass of lightly raw honey-sweetened iced green tea

     

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Your Cooking Oils - Healthy vs Unhealthy

(the truth may surprise you!)

Some of these oils are healthy and some are VERY unhealthy -- soybean oil, olive oil, coconut oil, corn oil, etc... Let's take a closer look.

Today, I wanted to give you my take on a confusing subject to most people:

...why some oils and fats you may use in cooking, baking, or other food use are actually harmful to your body, and why some are healthful.

Here's the deal...

A lot of people seem to think that anything labeled as "vegetable oil" is good for you. NOT A SHOT!

Most of what is labeled as "vegetable oil" is simply heavily refined soybean oil (processed under high heat, pressure, and industrial solvents, such as hexane)... sometimes perhaps it may also be heavily refined cottonseed, safflower, corn, grapeseed, or other oils too.

In most instances, almost all of these processed oils are NOT HEALTHY for you.  I'll explain why below...
 
If you buy processed food or deep fried food, you can usually be certain that these unhealthy oils are used to prepare your foods (or worse, it may use hydrogenated versions of these oils... aka - trans fats).

You may have even bought some of these oils for your own cooking or baking at home.

The problem with soybean oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, grapeseed oil, safflower oil, and other similar oils is that they are mostly composed of polyunsaturated fats (the most highly reactive type of fat) which leaves them prone to oxidation and free radical production when exposed to heat and light.

Processed polyunsaturated oils are the most inflammatory inside our bodies because of their high reactivity to heat and light. This inflammation is what causes many of our internal problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and other degenerative diseases.

Note: It's ok if a polyunsaturated fat source isn't processed such as in whole foods like various nuts and seeds... In that case it's usually not inflammatory (as long as it's not been exposed to high heat), and is a great source of healthy polyunsaturated fats for you. By the way, omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are both polyunsaturates, and a healthy balance of approx 1:1 to 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is considered healthiest. Your best bet is to choose raw nuts and seeds whenever possible to avoid the oxidation of polyunsaturated fats that can occur during roasting of nuts and seeds.  Keep in mind though that some nuts are mostly monounsaturated, (for example, macadamias), so the issue of roasted vs raw nuts is less of an issue for highly monounsaturated nuts.

However, all of the vegetable oils listed above are generally heavily refined during processing, so that makes them already inflammatory before you even cook with them (which does even more damage).

Here's the actual order of stability of a type of fat under heat and light (from least stable to most stable):

1. polyunsaturated
2. monounsaturated
3. saturated

Here's something that mainstream health professionals will never tell you...

Saturated fats are actually the healthiest oils to cook with!

Why?  Because they are much more stable and less inflammatory than polyunsaturated oils.

This is why tropical oils such as palm and coconut oils (and even animal fats such as butter) are best for cooking... they have very little polyunsaturates and are mostly composed of natural saturated fats which are the least reactive to heat/light and therefore the least inflammatory in your body from cooking use.

That's also why natural butter (NOT margarine) is one of the best fats for cooking. This all goes directly against what you hear in mainstream health talk... because most health professionals don't truly understand the biochemistry of fats, and falsely believe that saturated fats are bad for you... when in fact, they are actually neutral in most instances... and saturated fats from tropical oils are actually good for you as they contain mostly medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) which are lacking in most people's diets.

In fact, lauric acid is one of the abundant MCTs in tropical oils and is known to strengthen the immune system.  Lauric acid is even being studied currently in medical studies for controlling contagious diseases.

To summarize... your best cooking or baking fats are generally butter or tropical oils such as palm or coconut oil.  Olive oil (extra virgin preferably) is ok for lower cooking temps as it's mostly monounsaturated, so moderately stable.  The mostly polyunsaturated oils such as soybean, grapeseed, cottonseed, safflower, etc, are the least healthy for cooking or baking.

My choices for top healthy cooking oils that I use:

  • Virgin Coconut Oil
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (only for low temp cooking)
  • Real Butter ( grass fed if possible)

Of course, with all of that said... we should keep in mind that trying minimize our cooking with oils can help to reduce overall calories. Cooking with oils in moderation is ok and can actually help satisfy your appetite more, but be careful not to overdo it as the calories can add up fast.

 

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