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Booklyn-Decker-Womens-Health-Cover-September-2010
Not only does Brooklyn Decker grace the front cover of the September 2010 Women’s Health, she was named by the magazine as the best summer body of 2010.

Booklyn-Decker

In the September issue, the model-turned actress and wife of tennis star Andy Roddick discusses fitness and health and how she achieves that killer body.  She does a lot of cardio (something that I’m not super into, as you know), but also works the free weights (although keeps it light) and does some yoga as well (which is great).  Brooklyn admits to being skeptical about yoga at first, like many of us are, but yoga has obviously become a large part of her workout routine as this clip from her Elle/ExerciseTV workout video shows:

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What is Fitness?

Cambridge dictionary: “the condition of being physically strong and healthy” as in, “I’m trying to improve my fitness by cycling to work”. Ugh… Terrible definition.

The wiki Wiktionary goes for a better definition: “The condition of being fit, suitable or appropriate, the cultivation of an attractive and healthy physique, the ability to perform a function.” It is a little better.

On the other side of the spectrum, Crossfit has a full 2 page pdf on the question, taking the stance is that good fitness is having sufficient and above average competence across multiple domains, suggesting that being fit means that although you probably won’t win a marathon, you would do very well while also similarly excelling in things such as weight lifting and gymnastics. Crossfit does, however, shy away from what many people believe qualifies fitness – that is, as wiktionary put it, “the cultivation of anattractive and healthy physique”. Certainly, experienced Crossfitters tend to have athletic physiques by default, given their hardcore exercise and nutrition nature but not specifically calling out physique as a quality of fitness, however, is a mistake IMHO.

For the overwhelming population, “training” is performed in the pursuit of increasing physical attractiveness – losing weight, toning, going for the six pack abs atc… At the same time though, calling a body builder “fit” isn’t appropriate as muscle and low body fat does not necessarily indicate any level of functional competence in any particular domain other than body building.

Let’s see if we can update the Wiktionary definition with something better… how about this:

“The condition of being fit, suitable or appropriate, the cultivation of an attractive and healthy physique, the ability to perform and be competent across multiple domains, the possession of strength, flexibility, endurance, stamina, power, speed, agility, coordination, balance and accuracy”.

Yes, I like that definition.

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This is straight out off the crossfit.com website.  Great quote from Teddy R.

“It is not the critic who counts. Not the man who points out how the strong
man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit
belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by
dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short
again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions;
who spends himself in a worthy cause. Who, at the best, knows in the end
the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, at least fails while
daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who
know neither victory nor defeat.”

- Theodore Roosevelt

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So you only have so much free time, right? And that free time is going to be use watching the final World Cup games. That leaves no time for exercise. Any normal person may decide that this semi-legitimate excuse is enough to rationalize not working out (and possibly drinking beer instead), but much to the chagrin of you World Cup fans, I have a few solutions. Here are a few simple bodyweight workouts that can be done while watching the World Cup, without even needing to take your eyes of the TV.

The key to these workouts is continual movement at a medium-high intensity with short rest periods. Each of these workouts contain a series of exercises to be done back to back in sets, with 1 to 2 minutes of rest between sets. Scale as necessary.

Workout 1

4 sets of:
25 pushups
50 lunges
25 situps

Workout 2

5 sets of:
20 air squats
20 jumping jacks
20 calf raises
10 supermans

Workout 3

3 sets of:
20 situps
20 mountain climbers
20 dips
20 air squats
20 pushups
20 lunges

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I had an interesting conversation yesterday with someone about calorie counting, food quality and starvation mode. It turned out that he tried to lose weight by counting calories. In a two week period, adjusting his diet to be 200 calories sub basil metabolic rate, he didn’t lose one single kilo. Definitely a frustrating experience, but not to be discouraged and being a super intelligent individual, he figured out what was going on. His basal metabolic rate had actually dropped because of his diet. He had essentially gone into starvation mode and his body was trying to compensate!

When a person drops caloric intake by any significant amount, the body will react (appropriately) by going into a kind of starvation mode. It will actually slow down in order to compensate with the lower availability of energy. So if your basal metabolic rate requires 1800 calories, then lowering your caloric intake to 1600 may actually cause your metabolic rate to drop to that same level and as such, you end up suffering with hunger for nothing! (This isn’t all true, of course. There is lots of evidence that this “starvation mode” is actually beneficial for long term health and aging).

So what did this person do to compensate? He found out that the only way that counting calories would work for him was to eat zero empty calories. That’s zero sugar or low quality carbs. The amount of food that he ate wasn’t the only variable on his weight loss. The quality of food became a huge parameter. He started eating high quality food consisting of lots of veggies (spinach in particular) and fish (he’s a fan of salmon). After increasing the quality of his food, he noticed huge strides forward with respect to weight loss. And this wasn’t the only thing he noticed. I don’t want to make this sound as though it would be common, but his hair actually began growing in thicker and darker!

I’m not suggesting that people who go on calorie restricted diets will experience the same thing, but after noticing some grey on my thinning head the other day, I’m seriously considering following his lead.

Regardless of his fountain of youth like experience, at least it can be fair to say that low calorie diets on top of high quality food is definitely the way to go for those looking to quickly drop weight. Add a comprehensive exercise program on top of that, and your metabolic rate may not decrease as much due to metabolic “starvation compensation” and you will definitely notice serious results.

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Tips For a Perfect Double Under

doubleunders
While normal skipping or rope jumping is fairly trivial (for some people), the double under is a sick VO2 maximizer and is also crazy difficult. For anyone who doesn’t know what a double under is, it’s when the skipping rope passes around you twice in one skip. I have a demo here, where I performed 105 consecutive double unders and then almost died (which is why I thought the title, “Death by Double Unders” was appropriate).
So if you are one of the many, many people who struggle with the double under, but are interested in perfecting it, I thought I’d share a few tips.
1) It’s all in the wrist. When most people begin double unders, they figure that in order to get the rope around twice, they need to jump higher. This is partly true, but if you’re doing a tuck jump and your knees are bending significantly, you’re doing it wrong. Instead of jumping super high, try to flick the rope around faster with your wrists. This does not mean be spastic with the arms. The motion is primarily a forearm through wrist motion. Try not to do the tuck jump. Jump as you normally would (more or less) when you do singles.
2) Timing is key. Again, you want to avoid jumping too high. The first revolution should occur during the upwards motion of your hop and the second revolution will occur in the downwards motion, a fraction of a second before the rope skims the ground.
3) Use a good rope. Unless you’re really comfortable with double unders, don’t use a non-plastic rope. Classic rope moves slowly and is far more difficult to flick around twice. Use a plastic rope with handles that aren’t physically attached to the rope. The handles will stay static when you’re skipping. Make sure that the rope moves well within the handles. Otherwise you will end up with a twisted rope and double unders will be nearly impossible.
4) Do not tense up too much. Many people do this when performing double unders. Their necks and shoulders completely tense up. It’s difficult to avoid, but try and keep things loose. Otherwise you will throw off your breathing and circulation. Given that double unders require significant aerobic work, you need your Krebs cycle working as efficiently as possible.

Hopefully those few points will help you out towards attaining a perfect double under!

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Burn Calories with the Lunge

lungeThe lunge. I can’t emphasize enough how amazing this simple exercise is. One of the most difficult workouts that I have ever done (barely at that) was 400 meters of lunges. Just body weight. For my leg size, that equates to about 400 lunges. It seems like a lot, no doubt, but I had no idea how painful it would end up being. After the workout, I tried to run back to the starting point and I must have looked like a baby calf that just learned how to walk. I certainly felt like one. For days after the workout, I could barely climb a set of stairs and I was constantly limping. In fact, 400 meters of lunges is absolutely overkill. But I wanted to give you an idea of how killer lunges can be at working the big leg muscles – namely the quads and hamstrings.

To perform a good lunge, step out with one foot, then bend both knees until the back knee kisses the ground. Don’t bang your knee on the ground! Just lightly touch the ground, or hover an inch or so above if you’re worried about your knee hitting the ground. From this “lunge” position, stand back up and bring your back leg in line with your front. Done. It really is as simple as it sounds. But what you can get out of this exercise is a serious quadraceps muscle workout.

As I’ve mentioned before, working large muscles such as the quad is very good for bring up the metabolic rate during the exercise and well into the post exercise phase.
So boost your metabolism and try the following for a great workout for weight loss and metabolic conditioning:

    5 to 10 rounds of

    • 10 box jumps
    • 10 lunges
    • 10 pushups

Trust me – this workout will make your legs burn and your heart race. As simple as it sounds, it really is quite effective.

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Hormone imbalances can cause weight problems. Too much glucose, for example, will cause insulin spikes which in turn halts fat loss. Excessive estrogen in Women has also been shown to inflict weight control problems. In fact, balance in the human endocrine system is a key component to weight control and some successful diet programs such as the Zone capitalize on this well documented detail.

However, our hormone processes are far from simple and keeping them under control is not necessarily easy. But there are some things we can do to energize our endocrine, including getting our required sleep.

What many people don’t realize is that sleep is incredibly important – not only so we don’t feel awful in the morning, but also because a lack of sleep disrupts the effectiveness of our metabolic processes which could lead to weight control issues (amont other things).

Studies have found that glucose tolerance and carbohydrate metabolism ability is lower in sleep-debt conditions (those restricted to around 4-5 hours of sleep per night) relative to fully rested conditions.

Another recent study, done over 5 years, found that having less than 5 hours of sleep per night was related to a higher BMI compared to sleep durations of between 6 and 7 hours.

I’ve mentioned this in many previous posts – that sleep is critical to health, weight control and muscle growth. Get those 7 hours of sleep and if possible don’t feel bad about sleeping in even more over the weekend ;)

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Does Green Tea Increase Metabolism?

In short, yes, green tea does cause an increase in metabolic rate. In a 2000 study from the department of physiology at the University of Geneva, researchers found that yes indeed, green tea extract, rich in catechin polyphenols is effective in increasing the body’s energy expenditure (and fat oxidation) for a 24 hour period.

The research involved subjects ingesting green tea at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Relative to the placebo, the green tea resulted in a thermogenic effect that promoted fat oxidation and a 24 hour increase in calorie expenditure.

Interestingly enough, the study also suggested that it wasn’t the caffeine that caused the effect. Treatment with equal amounts of strict caffeine in amounts equivalent to those found in the green tea had no noticable effect on metabolic rate.

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How to Lose Stubborn Body Fat

You may do this yourself or see others doing it. Sit-ups to lose stomach fat. While this would definitely assist in muscle building and burning calories (to some extent), sit-ups themselves will not target fat loss in the stomach. It is a common misconception that targetting fat loss is possible.

What you are after is the catabolic conversion of fat cells to energy. This conversion is controlled by your metabolism and your metabolism is not incredibly worried about where the fat comes from.

What you can do, however, is make sure that you are effectivly burning fat and maintaining a fairly low calory diet by working on your metabolism. Eventually your metabolism will have no choice but to metabolize whatever remaining fat it can find.

Yes, this means fat loss in a specific area may be a long process. And this is a major contributor to failure with diet and exercise programs.

Here are some great tips for losing stubborn body fat:

  • Try to work your whole body every time you hit the gym. Full body workouts will work more muscle and therefore require more calories.
  • Run intervals or short distances instead of lengthy runs on the treadmill. Long endurance activities will actually cause your metabolism to burn tissue besides fat for energy. In fact, it has been shown that working out for longer than 80 minutes in a go could potentially be counter-productive and cause muscle loss as the body attempts to get calories from muscle, completely ignoring any stored fat.
  • Exercise at a high intensity. High intensity traning has been shown to increase metabolic rate even after exercising and cause continued fat loss.
  • Diet is key. Keep off of high glycemic carbs and high calory fats. We all love bacon and maple syrup but neigher are good for your fat loss goals.
  • Workout for short periods of time more often. You go to the gym for an hour three times per week? What about 20 minutes here or there? Again, short but high intensity, full body workouts in series such as 3 days on and 1 day rest will kick things into high gear.
  • Remember that you can’t target stomach fat by doing sit-ups. Instead, make sure to work more and larger muiscle groups. Quadraceps muscles will require significantly more calories and as such, can possibly burn more fat than working smaller muscles such as shoulders or biceps.
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