Thursday, 30 October 2014

Unique Lean-Body Workouts For Time-Crunched People: Super-Fast 'Mini-Workouts' To Do At Home Or The Office

This Might Be The 'Weirdest' Workout Set-up You've Ever Tried In Your Life!
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.
This actually SAVES you time compared to typical 45-60 minute gym workouts 3 days a week.
Why are "Mini-Workouts" Beneficial?
Aside from saving you time at the gym, the other main benefit is hormones!  ...More growth hormone release (aka, the "youth hormone"), and less cortisol production.
The reason for this is that some studies show that growth hormone can be stimulated with as little as a couple 30-second "bursts" of extremely high intensity exercise such as sprinting, and multiple "mini workouts" per day provides more opportunities to trigger growth hormone release rather than just one longer workout per day.  And these shorter workouts will never cause the harmful cortisol release that longer workouts can cause.
How to do "Mini-Workouts"
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)
  • push-ups (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, abs 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 push-ups 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.
Here's an example workout routine at home or the office (adjust the reps up or down based on your capabilities):
9 am - 10 push-ups/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 push-ups/10 bodyweight squats, repeat for 4 sets
1 pm - plank holds (hold as long as possible in 3 minutes)
2 pm - 8 push-ups/12 bodyweight squats, repeat for 3 sets
3 pm - plank holds (hold as long as possible in 3 minutes)
4 pm - max push-ups/max bodyweight squats in one set (no repeat)
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 push-ups, one leg raised push-ups, 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 co-workers 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!
Source: Mike Geary, Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The TRUTH About Potatoes, Glycemic Index, And "White Foods" - Friend Or Foe For Fat Loss?

potatoes and glycemic index

I'd like to start a little discussion today about carbohydrates... and in particular, "white foods" as well as potatoes. One reason I wanted to mention this is because so many health and fitness professionals trash talk potatoes about being a bad carbohydrate choice because of the high glycemic index. Some even say such ridiculous things as "avoid any and all white carbohydrates".
Ok, now while I certainly agree that white bread and refined white sugar are two of the worst things we can be feeding our bodies, I definately don't agree with avoiding any and all "white carbohydrates". Now I know all of the buzz lately has been about colorful foods and the protective antioxidants that they contain. They tell you to focus on colors and stay away from white.
"White Foods" aren't necessarily always the enemy
It's true that colorful foods are great, but it is a big mistake to specifically avoid white foods! There are plenty of white foods that have specific nutrients that are hard to find elsewhere. Let's look at a few examples...
Onions & Garlic
What about onions and garlic? They are both white and they are chock full of protective phytonutrients, vitamins, and trace minerals that aren't easy to find elsewhere in a normal diet... such nutrients as allicin, quercetin (an important flavonoid), chromium, and other unique anti-inflammatory nutrients.
In fact, onions are so powerful for our health, that one study of centenarians (people that live to over 100 years old) identified that a common thread of these amazingly healthy individuals was that they ate a lot of onions throughout their lives.   And we also know that garlic is one of the most powerful substances for a strong immune system, among other qualities.  
Another example of something white that is great for you is cauliflower. Cauliflower is loaded with vitamin C, fiber, minerals, and special compounds such as glucosinolates and thiocyanates, which are specifically abundant in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.  And a little-known fact is that some of the compounds in cruciferous vegetables help to combat other estrogenic compounds in our food supply and environment and can help prevent excess belly fat.  So eat up on that cauliflower!
Not many people realize this, but surprisingly, even white mushrooms have high levels of unique nutrients and antioxidants. White mushrooms are high in a couple types of antioxidants called polyphenols and ergothioneine.  And some types of mushrooms, such as portobella mushrooms, are surprisingly good sources of Vitamin D.
Now that also leads us to another example - white potatoes (which by the way, can also be found in red, yellow, purple varieties, etc). Many health professionals claim that potatoes are a bad carbohydrate because they are thought to have a high glycemic index. First of all, if you understand that glycemic index is not necessarily the most important factor in choosing your carbohydrates then you're well informed.
While a generalization can be made that most low glycemic index carbohydrate choices will help you lose body fat easier than high glycemic index choices, it is not all that it's cracked up to be. There are many other factors that determine how your body will react-to and process the carbohydrates you ingest, such as glycemic load and also how you combine the high GI food with other foods such as protein, fiber, and fats, which all slow down absorption of the ingested carbs.
For example, using glycemic load as an example... it is known that watermelon has a high glycemic index. However, the glycemic load of a normal serving of watermelon is just way too low for your body to start packing on body fat just because you ate a high glycemic index fruit. You would have to eat such an enormous quantity of watermelon just to get enough grams of carbohydrates to have any negative glycemic effect, that it is just non-sensical.
Not to mention that watermelon is also a great source of vitamins, minerals, and lycopene. There's just no reason to avoid it simply because it has a high GI.  My point is... candy bars, cupcakes, and donuts make you fat... NOT watermelons, carrots or potatoes... French fries excluded of course.
Also, as i mentioned, food combinations are important in how your body processes the carbohydrates and the associated blood sugar and insulin response you receive. For example, if you mix a high glycemic index carbohydrate with an extra source of fiber, healthy fats, or even certain proteins, many times the blood sugar and glycemic response will be slowed down considerably by the way you combined the food.
Alright, so back to my point that white potatoes are actually a healthy carbohydrate as long as you eat them in the right form... and please don't ruin them by deep frying them into french fries either! French fries are one of the most evil things ever invented for your health, but only because we ruin them by soaking them in a scorching bath of trans-fats in the deep fryer from the hydrogenated oils that are typically used.
Keep in mind that potatoes contain so many vitamins and minerals that the list is way too long to even try. 
One Warning though about potatoes:  Please note that potatoes do contain low level toxins called glycoalkaloids (it's the plant's protection mechanism) that are concentrated in the skin, so it is a good idea to always peel potatoes before making any dishes with them.  
Will 7-9 potatoes per day make you fatter?
On the topic of potatoes not being so bad after all, I don't remember where I saw this referenced, but I recently saw a particular study that had participants eat something like 7-9 whole potatoes per day for several weeks.
At the conclusion of the study, the potato eaters had actually consistently lost weight!  I'd venture a guess that the reason the people lost weight is that they were probably so full from eating all of those damn potatoes, that they actually consumed less calories than normal! An average sized potato only has about 100-120 calories, and I can surely imagine you'd be full constantly from eating 7-9 potatoes each day. 
Of course, this does NOT mean that french fries are okay to eat!  Those will only make you fat, and the trans fat will lead to an early death.  Seriously... fries are one of the most deadly foods in our food supply.  Plus, deep fried potatoes build up dangerous acrylamides from the frying oil reacting with the starch, and these compounds are carcinogenic. 
Anyway, back to the 7-9 whole potatoes per day... Now I would never recommend going to those extremes, but my point is that an occasional potato a couple times a week is not going to hurt your efforts to get lean, especially if you combine it with some other fibrous vegetables and maybe a healthy fat and some protein. On that note, I have one of my favorite recipes for you, using potatoes.
Geary's Lean-Body Potato Side Dish
  • Desired quantity of baby potatoes (I like to use this mixture I found recently at a health food store... it is a mixture of white, red, yellow, and purple baby potatoes)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 or 2 onions
  • a couple cloves of garlic, finely chopped (or mashed garlic from a jar, organic preferably)
  • 1 or 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, grass-fed butter, and/or virgin coconut oil (sometimes I mix a bit of all 3)
  • a little salt and pepper to taste (I like using a sea salt instead of normal commercial salt)
Cut the baby potatoes into slightly smaller pieces and place in a steamer until soft all the way through. Slice up the peppers and onions into strips and add with the chopped garlic into a pan with the olive oil and/or butter and/or coconut oil. Cook the peppers, onions, and garlic until tender, and then add the steamed baby potatoes. Stir it all together and serve. This is a delicious and healthy side dish that goes great with chicken or red meat.
I hope you've enjoyed this little topic today about potatoes, healthy carbohydrates, glycemic index, and my killer healthy potato recipe idea!
If you enjoyed this article today, feel free to share this page with your potato-loving friends, colleagues and family.
Source: Mike Geary, Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer

Monday, 27 October 2014

The TRUTH About Good Carbs, Bad Carbs, Low vs High Carbs, And All Of The Carb Confusion

With so much talk, confusion, and controversy in recent years about "carbs", I wanted to give you my take on good carbs vs bad carbs, low carb vs high-carb, and all the other "carb confusion" out there.  I'll also show you some of my favorite healthy carbohydrate choices, and exactly why they are better than other choices.
First of all, although I'm not a "low carb" extremist, I do believe that one of the main reasons so many people struggle to ever lose any body fat is that (regardless of complex vs simple carbs) they are over-consuming processed grain-based or sugary carbohydrates such as:
  • cereals
  • pasta
  • rice
  • bagels
  • muffins
  • breads (even whole grain varieties are not ideal if you're looking to lose body fat & prevent digestive system damage)
  • sodas (loaded with sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup)
  • juices (way too much fructose and total sugar without any of the fruit fiber)
  • candies
  • crackers
It is extremely hard to lose body fat if you're overconsuming any of these types of carbohydrates (even if you workout very hard).  In addition to causing wild blood sugar swings and insulin surges which can promote body fat deposition and throw your hormonal balance out of whack, eating too many carbs also increases your appetite and cravings, leading you to eat MORE calories overall compared to if you ate a higher percentage of fat.
Note that I didn't include potatoes in the list of processed carbohydrates. Despite the trash talking they get from many fitness professionals, I think whole potatoes (not fries or chips!) are a nutrient-dense healthy food in general, although the skins of potatoes do contain mild amounts of toxins.

Even carbohydrate sources that most people think are "healthy" usually are just excess calories that don't really deliver a whole lot of nutrient density... and many types of breads and cereals pretend to be "whole grain" with clever marketing while in reality the first ingredient in them is refined flour, which is just going to shoot your blood sugar through the roof.

However, even "whole grain" products have been shown to have just as much of a massive blood sugar impact as refined grains in many cases, particularly when it comes to wheat products.  And unfortunately, whole grains are also bad because it's generally the bran portion of grains that contains the majority of gut-damaging antinutrients that can inflame your digestive system or prevent absorption of certain minerals by your body.

What does "low carb" vs "moderate carb" vs "high carb" even mean?
According to expert Nutrition author Chris Kresser, below are the differences between low, moderate, or high carb ratios compared to your total calories.  Keep in mind that the average person eating a modern western dietconsumes a massive 50-60% of their calories from carbs.
  • Very Low carb = lower than 10% of total calories (Good for therapeutic uses such as cancer treatment, Diabetes treatment, Alzheimers & other conditions)
  • Low carb = 10-15% of total calories  (good for weight loss, blood sugar control, digestive improvement, and Diabetes control)
  • Moderate carb = 15-30% of total calories (good range for the average person to maintain weight, balance energy, balance hormones, etc)
  • High carb = greater than 30% of total calories  (Good for people that want to GAIN weight, gain muscle, or are high level athletes)
Personally, I tend to cycle between the low-carb group and the moderate-carb group depending on the day of the week, so I range between 10% to 30% of my daily calories from carbohydrates.  I've found this is where I feel best and perform best.  If I go "high-carb" like the average American, I pack on body fat VERY fast, and it's not fun.  I try to keep high-carb days to only 1 day per week, aka, my cheat day.

Note:  If you consume 2000 calories per day, then that means 200 calories, or approx 50 grams of carbs for the day would be 10% of your total calories.  For me, because of my height and high activity levels (I'm a big skier, mountain biker, hiker, swimmer, etc), my daily maintenance is more around 3000 calories, so that would mean 75 grams of carbs would represent 10% of my calories (75 x 4 = 300 calories from carbs).  On most days, I'd estimate that I get between 80-100 grams of carbs total, which is equivalent to 1 piece of fruit, 1 sweet potato, some various veggies throughout the day, along with a little bit of honey in my tea, and a little bit of coconut sugar in my coffee.

My take on it is that the majority of people struggling to lose body fat would do much better following these types of carb guidelines:

1. Reduce or eliminate your grain-based carb products in the diet (cereal, pasta, rice, crackers, etc) and focus more of your diet on healthy grass-fed and/or free-range meats and eggs, grass-fed raw dairy or fermented dairy (kefir and yogurt), nuts, and TONS of vegetables and fruits (for most people, keeping fruit to 1-2 pieces per day is best). 
I understand that it's very hard for most people to give up entirely their breads, cereals, and pastas.  But don't worry, just save the grain-based carbs for no more than a 1-day per week "cheat day", and most people can still do just fine if you're not gluten intolerant or Celiac.
2. Instead of the grains for most of your carbs, try getting most of your carbs from vegetables, sweet potatoes, and a variety of whole fruits and berries (NOT fruit juices, which remove the beneficial fiber as well as other essential parts of the fruit).
3.  If you're going to eat any grains at all, focus on sprouted grains if you can, or sourdough on the occasions that you absolutely need to have bread.  Since sourdough bread has been fermented, some of the antinutrients have been broken down, and even the gluten is thought to be at least slightly more digestible in a sourdough bread.
Note on wheat germ --  although wheat germ is a nutrient dense food (compared to the nutrient-poor starch portion of wheat), beware of the gluten in wheat if you have any intolerance.  Many people have wheat/gluten intolerances and don't even realize it.  It could be worth it to get tested to see how your body is handling wheat.
If you are choosing sprouted grain breads, make sure that it's 100% sprouted grain, and not regular flour as the main ingredient followed by a portion of sprouted grains.  Sprouted grains are healthier than "whole grains" because the sprouting process deactivates many of the antinutrients that can cause digestive problems and prevent certain minerals from being absorbed.
4. To replace the void if you're used to consuming lots of bread, pasta, cereals, and other carb sources... try filling that void with more healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, olives, grass-fed butter and cream, aged cheeses, nut butters, as well as healthy proteins such as grass-fed dairy and meats, whole free-range organic eggs, etc.
Healthy fats and proteins go a long way to satisfying your appetite, controlling proper hormone and blood sugar levels, and helping you to make real progress on fat loss.  Consuming more healthy fats instead of carbs also helps to transition your metabolism into a "fat adapted metabolism" instead of being a "carb burner" like most people.  Having a "fat adapted metabolism" gives you more stable energy levels, stable blood sugar, balanced hormones, and more.  On the other hand, being a carb-burner gives you more energy spikes and dips, blood sugar swings, and cravings.
With all of that said, even when I'm eating a low-moderate carbohydrate diet, here's one of my favorite carb sources that is high in fiber as well as tons of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants:

Sweet potatoes or yams
I always choose the orange varieties instead of the white varieties of sweet potatoes for more carotenes. One of the problems with sweet potatoes is the time it takes to bake a sweet potato for 1 to 1.5 hrs.

I cook my sweet potatoes in a different way that only takes 5 minutes and they come out delicious... and no, I would NEVER use a microwave (We talk more about why never to use a microwave to cook your foods in this article).

The easiest and quickest way I've found to cook up a sweet potato is to slice it up into thin slivers and put it into a pan that you can cover with a lid.  I add a touch of butter, virgin coconut oil (beneficial medium chain triglycerides), and about 3-4 Tbsp of water and simmer with a covered lid for about 5 minutes. 

When the sweet potatoes are soft, then add a little cinnamon and maybe a touch (no more than a teaspoon) of real maple syrup (if you want a little more sweet flavor) and you're all set with a delicious healthy carb side dish to go with any meat dish.  Add a side salad and you've got the perfect lean-body meal plan.

Source; Mike Geary - Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer

Saturday, 25 October 2014

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.
They have everything you could ever want... grass-fed burgers, rib-eye 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.
Source: by Mike Geary - Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer

Thursday, 23 October 2014

The 7 WORST Exercises That HARM Your Body - This Is An INCREDIBLE Article Health Hubbers!

These 7 common exercises are popular with many exercise enthusiasts, but can actually do more harm than good... Are you doing these? 
Unfortunately, there are certain “exercises” in the gym that cause more harm than good. I’d like to take a strong look at the 7 most prevalent injury-causing exercises in most gyms. The worst part is that these exercises are pretty much useless when it comes to building strength or losing fat. There really isn’t much of a point in doing them, whatsoever, and yet they can destroy our results.
It’s time to put an end to the worst exercises on Earth. I’m here to help you understand how your body moves, why it responds to exercise the way it does, and how to minimize your risk while you maximize the effect from every exercise you do.
As a side note, I think it’s important to mention that the last thing I want is for you to feel discouraged; rather, it’s important that you feel inspired to know you have eliminated the negative from your exercise program. Now, you’ll be able to safely rely on the fact that “you’re doing it right” when you exercise. Plus, I think you’ll be shocked to realize how much you’ve learned about your body’s ideal positioning and muscle recruitment strategies with exercise.
If an exercise creates muscle imbalances, this can lead to joint deterioration all over your body and even blunt fat loss. You see, once your joints are out of position, your body has sub-sensory pain signals taking place all over the body. These pain signals tell your brain to shut down the muscles in the area in order to avoid “pulling on the injury” and causing more damage. The end result: no muscle contraction and weaker muscles.
We exercise to be stronger in our daily lives and live a longer/higher quality of life. If an exercise has no true benefit in either or both of these categories, then what’s the point?
Just because someone tries an exercise in a gym isn’t a reason to make this part of your routine. The gym is full of mostly amateurs, including several of the personal trainers at big name gyms. After all, that’s where many of us started out at one point or another...
“” into an unsafe position involves increased pressure on the labrum or capsule of a joint while performing an exercise. Simultaneously, it’ll be likely that a muscle is being overstretched while being recruited to contract. This is a recipe for disaster. Instead, let’s find a position of rest for the joint and then exercise it. This will assist the natural delivery of nutrients to the joint and joint capsule.
Ok, you’ve already got a great background for judging exercises and their quality, or lack thereof. Now, let’s dive in and take a look at the 7 worst exercises:
These are awful. Here’s why: Creates muscle imbalances, zero functional benefit, winds up joint to unsafe position
Muscle Balance Perspective:
  • Quads are generally stronger than hamstrings; this reinforces the problem.
    When your quadriceps overpower your hamstrings in deep knee flexion, there is increased torsion placed into the meniscus, increasing the likelihood of knee injury.
  • Quads and glutes should be used as a pair. In this case, they are not being used effectively.
    When your glutes do not fire while using your quads with a great level of force, there is increased risk of low back injury.
An imbalance between your quadriceps and hamstrings can quickly result in a number of knee issues, including patellofemoral (kneecap) and meniscus damage. Even worse, when your quads overpower your hamstrings, it’s not uncommon to develop restrictions in these muscles as your body attempts to even things out. These restrictions lead to increased pull on the top of your pelvis, tipping it forward, and placing pressure in your low spine.
This all sounds complicated, but let’s make it easy. Just stand up and lean backwards. If your hip flexors are tight, you’ll feel a stretch in the front of your thighs. It’s a good bet that we should get you training in more functional abs positions. You may already be spending too much of your day in this pre-shortened position, causing ‘active insufficiency’ to take place.
Functional Benefit Assessment:
  • In most cases, people aren’t coming down to a full 90 degrees of knee flexion, which is needed for getting in/out of a chair.
  • Even in these cases your abs are so pre-contracted (active insufficiency) and low back extensors so overstretched (passive insufficiency) that it’s tough to use your quads with any abdominal or low back support.
  • Since your abs and low back are out of the picture, this exercise loses a lot of its functionality.
Metabolic Effect:
The metabolic effect of this exercise is less because the number of muscles used is less than similar weight-bearing (closed-chain) exercises. Ultimately, the number of muscles and joints you use in a given exercise determines the metabolic effect of that exercise.
Muscle Balance Perspective:
  • Quads are generally stronger than hamstrings; this reinforces the problem.
  • Quads and glutes should be used as a pair. In this case, they are not being used effectively.
  • Interestingly, if you are having a hard time contracting your vastus medialis oblique (VMO) in your knee, the last 15 degrees of this movement can be helpful, but careful with the torque into your knee joint.
  • Again, only for the last 15 degrees until your knee is totally straight, and th  is can often cause more damage than good.
Functional Benefit Assessment:
  • It can also be argued that this exercise may help if you are a soccer player, but power lifting has been demonstrated to improve sprinting and kicking ability much more than any variety of leg extensions.
  • When you walk, you use your quads and hamstrings; here, it’s just quads.
This comes down to torque. Think about a long screwdriver and a short screwdriver. It’s easier to use the long one, meaning you don’t have to turn it as hard. This is a result of the force of you turning the screwdriver x the distance to the end of the screwdriver. That’s how torque is calculated.
In this example, we are exercising above our knee, but the weight goes on our ankle. Think about that distance... that’s a lot of torque into our knees with a lot of weight!
Metabolic Effect:
Low. This is a single joint exercise that is isolation-based. By definition, there will be a low metabolic effect. Instead, choose more compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, or lunges for an increased metabolic effect with this muscle group.
Muscle Balance Perspective:
  • Majority of force placed through distal hamstring, rather than proximal. This results in increased pressure behind the knee.
  • Requires change of position to recruit medial hamstrings and glutes on this exercise, which should be used as a muscle pair.
Functional Benefit Assessment:
  • I can’t think of a moment in time where I need to perform this movement in daily life.
  • However, if I ran hurdles, this may help, but again deadlifts and power lifts seem to improve sprint capacity at the same time and provide greater benefit.
This is a question of torque into the knee again. Also, in this case, the hamstrings tend to cramp a lot, which isn’t necessarily a good thing, or necessary at all.
If you have a Baker’s Cyst behind your knee, that’s a lot of pressure. For others, it’s really pulling the posterior horn of your meniscus, while missing your proximal (closer to your butt) hamstring altogether.
Metabolic Effect:
Low effect, as this is a single joint exercise.
Muscle Balance Perspective:
  • Forward shoulder position leads to increased stretch (passive insufficiency) on the rotator cuff and biceps tendon.
    • An imbalance between your pecs and lats/shoulderblade stabilizers results in a forward shoulder position. This leads to rotator cuff tendonitis, biceps tendonitis, and increase risk of tears. Also, this limits the amount of growth of both your pecs and lats, due to the sub-sensory pain stimulus, as well as the actively insufficient pecs and passively insufficient lats (see above for definitions.)
    • This is true for your shoulders and neck. In this forward position, you are at risk for injury. Also, like many people who perform this exercise, you may be placing excessive weight into your armpit, which is where your brachial plexus is. This is the bundle of nerves that controls your arms.
    • This all sounds complicated, but let’s make it easy. Just stand up tall and place your hands straight up into the air. Now, bend your elbow out to the side until your shoulder and elbow are both at right angles. If you already feel a stretch, your pecs are super tight. You may already be spending too much of your day in this pre-shortened position, causing ‘active insufficiency’ to take place. This will limit your strength and fat loss gains, while also increasing your risk of injury.
  • Position also leads to increased pressure on the anterior and posterior capsules of the shoulder. Any pain signal or pressure will reduce the recruitment of your delts and shoulder stabilizers.
  • Biceps are being shortened in an over-shortened position for your pecs, reinforcing a common imbalance.
  • The elbow is only safe when balanced. You need to train your brachioradialis (hammer curls), biceps (curls), and brachialis (reverse curls) in order to hit all elbow flexors.
Functional Benefit Assessment:
  • This is an artificial movement, in an abnormal position. It’s only purpose is to build biceps, and there are better ways. For example:
  • The biceps is an elbow flexor, but it’s also a supinator (meaning it turns your palm up). Preacher curls only work on elbow flexion, which means you’re missing 50% of the muscle’s action. Whoops!
Evening out all of your elbow flexors has more carryover effect.
Metabolic Effect:
Low effect, as this is a single joint exercise. In fact, it may be detrimental due to the likelihood of the sub-sensory pain stimuli going off in the shoulder girdle, preventing some of the neurological signal from reaching the muscle.
Muscle Balance Perspective:
  • Your hamstrings are basically off in this exercise, meaning that it is totally quad dominant.
  • Simultaneously, it’s very hard to properly recruit your glutes when the weight is not directly loading your spine. Without glute support, you are weakening your core, ultimately increasing risk of injury and slowing fat loss.
Functional Benefit Assessment:
  • Since your hamstrings and glutes don’t really have to work here, you’re not squatting like you would in real life.
    Actually, here, it’s unsafe for the opposite reason, interestingly enough. Check this out...
  • When you squat with your arms overhead, you tend to lean forward, or your knees come forward, or both. Controlling for this is the controlling inter-related segments so they can get stronger and more mobile together. These segments need to work together to prevent injury, so squats that are not on the smith machine tend to limit you to the correct weight selection, while these squats do not.
Metabolic Effect:
Low to medium. Since you are using your ankle, knee, and hip joints, the metabolic potential goes up slightly. However, it’s important to remember that muscle imbalances lead to all sorts of situations that lend themselves to a metabolic crash.
Muscle Balance Perspective:
  • Overstretched proximal triceps in this position, causing increased tension on the triceps tendon by the elbow.
  • Internal rotation, targeting the medial triceps head, can lead to shoulder impingement and more serious issues.
Functional Benefit Assessment:
  • This is another movement that never happens in daily life. When are we overhead forcefully extending our elbow like this. It’s kind of silly, if you think about it.
  • You may be arching your back while doing this, which could cause a lot of strain and take your abs out of the picture, altogether. Bad idea!
Metabolic Effect:
Low to none. Since we are only really working our elbow joint and a small muscle group, we aren’t gaining much of a metabolic effect whatsoever. Also noteworthy, this is an open-chained exercise that produces a lot of torque into the shoulder and elbow. 
Functional Benefit Assessment:
  • Since this exercise actually is working brachioradialis against gravity (the dumbbell is weighing me down, against gravity, not side to the side), it’s only adding to the muscle imbalances I may already be experiencing.
  • Holding a dumbbell in my hands and moving it side to side is not placing tension on the external rotators of my shoulder, just my elbow flexors. This issue is not being resolved.
  • The only weight being placed into the shoulder is the torque from your hand, which is holding the dumbbell, through your elbow, and up to your shoulder.
So, all in all, it’s causing a very small amount of damage with no benefit.
Functional, Muscle Balancing, and Metabolic Effect Summary:
As you can see, not all exercises were created equally. I strongly recommend that you analyze an exercise before just going for it. I realize that you’re working hard to get great results, improve your health, and create a higher quality of life for yourself, but just make sure you get it right people.
Source: by Dr. Kareem Samhouri - CSCS, HFS Neuro Metabolic Fitness & Rehab Expert