Thursday, December 29, 2011

Quick Legs

Percentage wise your legs make up the biggest muscle group in your body. They are also the easiest to workout multiple groups at once. In addition to my previous Leg Press gym workout here are 4 Super Quick at home leg exercises to Quick Start your day... hehe

  • 30 Squats - Finish on your toes to work your calves
  • 80 Mountain Climbers - Make sure to wear shoes
  • 40 Sec of Wall Sits - Arms making tiny circles

The whole routine takes only 4 or 5 minutes with minimal rest in between but its a great way to get your heart rate up to High Intensity Training levels!! Your body will also continue to burn calories well after the workout to fuel and repair the exhausted leg muscles. Add weight for extra resistance... Do it twice for a prolonged cardiovascular workout while training you muscles!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Healthy Salt

First off I want to make it clear that Salt is Essential. It is a key ingredient to a Healthy Metabolism and maintains balance in your body. As you exercise your body emits salt through sweat and it is highly recommended to replenish before your blood-sodium level drops hence why gatorade has fairly high sodium levels.

Recommended levels of sodium is Less Than 2300mg per day for an average young adult even though the national average is around 3400mg. A Big Mac has 1020mg alone.

Too much salt can cause an array of Health Problems!! Everything from Hypertension & High Blood Pressure to Osteoporosis & Stomach Cancer. The biggest offenders for high sodium foods are the processed foods, canned soups, fast foods and so many more

White table salt essentially is nothing but sodium chloride mixed with Iodine which is added to support the Thyroid Gland. It is normally chemically processed and bleached which can make it Toxic! But worst of all... its Addictive!!

THP Fit Tip #7: Avoid Processed Food & Use Himalayan Pink Crystal Salt When Cooking!!

This naturally occurring salt has been mined from the Khewra Salt Mines in Pakistan for last 700 years and contains 84 Minerals including Iron, Copper, Fluoride, Zinc, Magnesium, Calcium and of course Iodine!! In addition this Magic Salt helps Maintain Blood Sugar Levels, Regulates Blood Pressure, Prevents Cellulite and Reduces Risk of Dehydration compared to Table Salt.

I think the taste is much better too... 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fit Running Tips

Distance Running for me is not only good exercise but a great time to reflect... Part of me wishes I've been running for years; the other believes I've fallen upon this whole fitness thing now for a reason. 

Either way here are a bunch of tips I that would of helped me get started to train for a race. In Simple Bullet Points... Close the Gap!!
  • Training: Choose a plan that fits your schedule, rushing home from work is a chore and will make the whole experience less enjoyable...
  • Eating: Magnesium helps prevent cramping but Fiber causes it... What to do about those delicious leafy greens?? Still working on this one but my suggestion is to eat light, eat simple. 
  • Drinking: Hydrate well the night before but minimal before the race. Once you get thirsty while running go to town on the liquids but don't overdue the gatorade, could cause cramps.
  • Snacking: Dried Apricots & Almonds...
  • Stretching: Don't forget your calves!! They tighten quick and don't let go.
  • Listening: Live Music; feels like everyone is cheering you on!!
  • Pacing: The right pace can last forever. Find it and stick to it, over exhaustion can lead to a miserable race. If you set you standards low there is only room for improvement!!
  • Starting: Don't peak too soon; start slow & finish strong!!
  • Breathing: I generally try to breathe normal when racing but for all the multitaskers out there deep breathes from the Belly increases the oxygen flow and reduces cramping.
  • Thinking: Mind over matter. Your first long race I can promise you at some point you'll question your decision making process. I can also promise you'll be glad you did after you cross that finish line so just maintain those positive thoughts and push through!! 
  • Finishing: Close the Gap!! That last 8th of the race make it a goal to slowly close the gap with person in front of you. Next thing you know you'll have some groupies on your coattail!!
  • Celebrating: Have a nice protein filled meal... You'll have deserved it!! 
That's assuming you can walk... Just kidding! Hope you learned from my mistakes!! Check out more great tips from ChiRunning...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Close The Gap: A Beginners Guide to Running

Three years ago I never ran; not because I didn't have time or enjoy it but I preferred to work out by lifting in the gym. I really didn’t understand the benefits to cardio. Three years ago I also met my now girlfriend whose main method of exercise is running... so in an effort to find more activities we could do together I reluctantly started running, three years later we just ran our first Half Marathon!! 

Close the Gap is beginners guide to running but also a play on word for anyone wishing to get closer to achieving their health and fitness goals which is a developing concept. I'll just focus on the running aspect in this post mainly preparing for 5k races to marathons in a few simple concepts. 

Pace: Anyone can walk a mile, most can run a mile but the thought of completing a marathon is extremely intimidating for the vast majority. For these people I promise You Can Do It!! The key is to find the Pace between walking and sprinting that you are comfortable to maintain the desired distance.  Most people I talk to get exhausted early in the race...

THP Fit Tip #5: Don't peak too soon; start slow and finish strong!!

There are tons of tips on setting your pace, my recommendation is to take your mile time and add 25% for the average mile time ie if you are comfortable running an 8 minute mile your target average mile should be around 10 minutes. Most longer races have pace setters to follow otherwise running watches and even the new ipod nano can track your pace. 

Training: If you can run a mile you can run a marathon!! Now I can't promise you won't be super sore the next day if your muscles aren't use to long distances, even if you stretch.  Hundreds of training models exist so pick one that suits your schedule. The more training the better!!

Breathing: My suggestion is to relax do what comes natural however deep breaths, through your mouth, pushing out your belly, and standing upright will maximize oxygen intake.

Stride: For some reason I tend to get close to the front when running on treadmills but if I step back and lengthen my strides I go faster with less energy. Same rules apply for races; use your calves and push off your back leg. I see a gap and want to close it!!

Food: First off simple foods for you body to break down like whole grain pasta, fruits and vegetables low in fiber, as fiber can cause cramps, should only be consumed within 12 hours of the race. Prior to that avoid fatty or processed food and make sure to drink plenty of water!!

I had a pasta dinner with tomato sauce, chicken, and asparagus prior to the race; I estimate the meal was about 800 Calories, this will vary pending on your Metabolic Rate. For breakfast I had a piece of whole grain bread with peanut butter only. 

Most important point of all is to believe in yourself and have fun! Cause what's the point otherwise? Bright colors, headbands and high fives are highly encouraged!! 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Balance & Moderation

Life is full of Balance and Moderation... especially when Eating!! I wrestled growing up and watching my friends gluttonously eat lunch while I feverishly ate my salad pretty much scarred me for life. Luckily Fear of Dieting is not an actual phobia.

Dieting is not even in my vocabulary. I always tended to focus on trying to burn the calories I enjoyed and more recently tried to eat in moderation to meet the caloric intake of my daily activities. This combined with a Healthy Diet I see no issues to balance a delicious Chicago Style Pizza on occasion if this makes you happy! It's healthy if it has Spinach, right?? Check out the link...

Now my "Occasion" usually comes to fruition during my Annual Thanksgiving Holiday in the Midwest... In chronological order the combination of Jetlag, Coffee, Road Trips, Dehydration, Football, Beer, Buffalo Wings, Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Turkey, Stuffing, Family Fun, Grandma's Oatmeal Cookies, Chipotle, More Football, More Beer, and Al's Italian Beef definitely pays a toll on the body especially when cold weather and public transportation come into the picture.

Now I'm fully aware this is very hypocritical considering my Pseudo Mantra: Eat Healthy Live Healthy but I can't condemn the enjoyment of food. Mental Health is just as important as Physical Health!! Especially if you're Emotionally Diabetic and that perfect Burrito just doesn't exist in the Middle East...

So to make it up to my 14 Healthy Followers and prove my legitimacy as a committed fitness blogger I propose The 25 Day Healthy Press Challenge... Workout everyday until Christmas!! 

Any sort of High Intensity Exercise leading to Increased Heart Rate will do... The Challenge starts today 30 November at 1am and includes limiting the consumption of empty calories ie alcohol!! Now I just need to catch up on sleep from the trip, still on Midwest time!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

(Don't) Gobble Gobble Gobble

In preparation for the Biggest Feast in American History & Annual Family Fun below are tips to cut calories on Thanksgiving as well as a Quinoa Turkey Burger Recipe to be enjoyed year round!!

Just as Charlie Brown is synonymous with Thanksgiving so is Turkey!! In order to avoid being a couch potato after dinner like Lucy pulling the football out below Charlie's feet follow 5 simple tips to make you feel light on your feet without sacrificing your favorites!! You can't blame Tryptophan forever...

Tip #1: Eat White Meat instead of Dark which has twice as much fat... No Skin Either.

Tip #2: Have a glass of Red Wine during dinner... Fat slows digestion, Red Wine kicks off the digestion process once you get up from the meal.

Tip #3: Eat Slowly with Smaller Portions... It takes time for hunger signals to contact your brain so slow down and you will eat less.

Tip #4: Choose plenty of Vegetables with your meal... Especially the green ones which will help control your blood sugar and maintain your bodies functions.

Tip #5: Drink lots of Water... Sparkling if available as it could relieve an upset stomach however staying hydrated could just save the following day if the drinks are heavy!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!
And now for a great Turkey Burger with Quinoa Recipe wrapped in Lettuce with a Tahini Sauce...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Magic Metabolism

Too many people have expectations that running a couple times a week will get them into super shape. When in actuality not even the longest hardest most physically exhausting Cardiovascular or Weight Training Workout will show the results you expect if you don't make the lifestyle discussion to compliment the workouts.

I'll cut to the point... I'm referring to your diet!! Healthy Eating & Healthy Living are one in the same and choosing the right types of food will render the results you EXPECT!! Now I've used that word  twice now, you need to manage your diet to manage your EXPECTATIONS

To gain muscle: Focus on eating enough protein to fuel your body & repair exhausted muscles which increases your metabolism.

To loose weight: Eat less calories than your body consumes and you will burn stored fat, simple...

Keep in mind 1 gram of Protein & Carbohydrates each contain 4 calories however protein helps promote the release of the fat destroying hormone Glucagon where carbs if not burned get stored as fat... Further 1 gram of Fat contains 9 calories making it more than twice as hard to burn, so if you want to look like your favorite Disney character stay away from unhealthy Fast Food!!

A quick way to determine the amount of calories you burn per day is to use BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) Calculators. Example: I am 27, 5ft 11in, 165lbs... My BMI (Body Mass Index) is 23 with a BMR of just over 1800 calories per day, note this is the caloric intake to maintain the same weight purely for your body to function. RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) on the otherhand assumes a normal day without exercise, only about 350 calories more!! 

Now when you workout your AMR (Active Metabolic Rate) exponentially increases your Metabolism by using Multipliers. I workout 3-5 times a week so my Activity Factor is 1.55 therefore I can assume I need to eat 2800 calories per day just to maintain my current weight.

My girlfriend has been making some delicious & healthy recipes using High Protein Substitutions like Quinoa, Greek Yogurt & Fresh Green Vegetables for some of the well known fat & carb loaded ingredients. I'll tell you its actually hard to consume 2800 calories when eating right. I've been on this health kick for over 4 months now; I feel great, lost body fat & gained muscle... All by balancing exercise with a healthy diet.

I know this is a lot to take in and the concept probably isn't providing any new information but I challenge you to make some small lifestyle adjustments to meet your expectations; go see a nutritionist to balance your diet, workout 1 Extra Day per week, cut out the empty calories like soda or sweets & I bet you'll see results...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Healthy Chicken Chili

Ever since I was little I associated Chili with Skiing on a small icy slope in Southern Wisconsin... Served in a paper bowl this spicy, tomato based, ground beef stocked chili covered in cheddar cheese and oyster crackers I always had an impression of Chili being Greasy & Fattening. This jaded my opinion for yearssssssss until L made Healthy Chicken Chili compliments of @Ellie_Krieger & @FoodNetwork...

The notion of chili in the desert seems a little ironic but this White Chili has some magical properties that works in hot cold wet dry fertile barren etc etc climates... Bottom line this chili is Amazing!! 

2 Stalks Diced Celery - Nuval Score 96

3 Medium Poblano Peppers - Nuval Score 94

1 Medium Diced Onion - Nuval Score 93

1 Clove Minced Garlic - Nuval Score 96

1 Pound White Meat Chicken - Nuval Score 39

2 Cans Cannellini Beans - Nuval Score 57

1 Can Chick Peas - Nuval Score 88

1/4 Cup Nonfat Greek Yogurt - Nuval Score 94

Mix everything in 4 cups of low sodium Chicken Broth. Spice it up with some Coriander, Cayenne Pepper, Cilantro & Oregano to your likings... Add fresh lime if you go a bit overboard on the pepper, I recommend you do!! Creates interesting dinner conversation. Reviews are as follows... Enjoy!!

"It has a lingering flavor that I don't want to go away!" Eric

"Oh it was good... real good." Drew

"I'm sweating..." Laura

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Leg Press

FACT: Strength Training engages your muscles and burns more calories than cardio workouts as your body requires fuel to repair ripped muscle tissue for up to 48 Hours.

Now I will never criticize Cardiovascular Workouts but I will promote Anerobic Workouts every day of the week. Your body is like an engine; cardio will burn fuel as a car goes to the store only lifting weights leaves the motor running all night until it runs out of gas or refuel ie in the applicable sense, eat more food.

Taking things one step further... your lower body makes up about half of your muscle mass between glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves however is arguably the easiest muscle group to Workout. Therefore a quick and simple workout hitting all major leg muscles can burn just as much calories as lifting your core, back, chest, bis, tris, delts, and traps combined. 

THP Fit Tip #5: Lifting your legs will burn more calories over a 48 hour period than any other individual muscle, combine with cardio for the ultimate calorie burning workout!

And when you burn more calories than you consume... you start Burning Fat!! The gym I workout in isn't great but it gets the job done. I tried out the following workout yesterday and it took my 20 minutes so I ran for another 10 after at 15kpm pace to get the sweat rolling off of my brow.

  • 3 sets of squats on a smith machine: 135, 185, & 200lb
  • 3 sets of calf raises directly after each of the squats: 20 reps
  • 4 sets of lunges on a smith machine: each leg at 135 & 150lb
  • 3 sets of Mountain Climbers: 100, 80, & 60 reps

The weighted lifts I did until failure with about 45 seconds between each set. This morning legs burned and could feel the Muscle Repair... Not really but could only imagine. There are dozens of great leg lifts to compliment or replace the above mentioned but squats & lunges are fantastic to target each muscle group. Just be careful not to press your legs past the 90° in order to avoid stress on your knee joints.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Incredible, Edible, & Healthy Egg

A age old query just as baffling as "The Chicken vs The Egg" must be a more pertinent question... "Is The Egg Actually Good For You?" Fueled by misconceptions in the 1980's that a single egg contains about 200 mg of cholesterol, all of which can be found in the yoke, double the about American Heart Association recommends!! Just imagine the outcry...

But the truth of the matter is yes eggs do contain cholesterol however not all cholesterol is bad! There are two types: LDL vs HDL. Now its not as simple what the percentages of good vs evil in eggs, its all measured on the levels of cholesterol in your body. For the record HDL is the good guy!! Multiple studies have been conducted to show that eating a couple eggs per day will actually increase your HDL levels over time... which ultimately prevents against Heart Disease and lower risk of Breast Cancer!!

At only 80 calories an Egg is loaded with Protein, Calcium, Iron, Vitamins A, B2, B12, D & E all essential for everything from muscle repair to helping convert fat & carb to energy among other Remarkable benefits that vitamins & minerals have on your body, most of which can be found in the yoke.

Despite the positive reviews on eggs over the past few years busting the unhealthy myth of eggs I love eggs for the taste and energy they provide for breakfast. Every weekend I look forward to making the perfect scrambled eggs with Spinach, Peri Peri Spice, and a bit of Mozzarella Cheese!!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Science Behind Muscle Repair

I've been experimenting with Fascia Stretch Training for about a month now and really notice results!! Chest, legs, biceps, etc. Basically on your last lift you stretch the focus muscle between sets then flex. I'll explain why this helps so keep reading...

Ok backing up a little bit... When you workout, your muscles fatigue and tear like tiny rips in a piece of paper. Your body then goes into a process called Muscle Protein Synthesis where amino acids repair the muscle. This is where your diet is so important; having Protein Rich Meals after workout will provide vital nutrients to promote fast and healthy muscle repair as well as facilitate muscle growth.

I can imagine the wheels turning. The reason for the stretching is to amplify the muscle tear like gently tugging on the already fractured piece of paper. Flexing then helps Promote Blood Flow which transport these crucial amino acids. Combined with a nice big steak or fish and you just hit the trifecta!!

Personally, I really enjoy a meal after working out. A reward for my effort which makes me appreciate food... Having large meals if I haven't worked out just seams like a waste of energy. However any protein that your body doesn't use just passes through your body unlike carbs that are stored as glucose then fat if not Burned Off.

THP Tip #4: Replace carbohydrates with lean protein...

Swap Pasta with Quinoa, Potatoes with Broccoli, Bagels with Scambled Eggs! The list goes on...

But the best part is the Muscle Protein Synthesis doesn't stop after your workout... Muscle Repair keeps burning calories up to 48 hours after your workout making lifting weights ideal not only for muscle growth but also for fat loss. Happy Muscle Recovery!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Healthy & Incredibly Useful Cucumber

Cucumber are by far and away my favorite snack... Especially when complimented by hummus or my mother's famous dill dip!! Despite the obviously tasty treat Cucumber have amazing health and other other magical properties. Ok maybe not Harry Potter magic but pretty close!!

1. Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day, just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc. 

2. Feeling tired in the afternoon, put down the caffeinated soda and pick up a Cucumber. Cucumbers are a good source of B Vitamins and Carbohydrates that can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours. Try it in juice form... Delicious!! 

3. Just finish a business lunch and realize you don't have gum or mints? Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath, the phytochemcials will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath.

4. Are grubs and slugs ruining your planting beds? Place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long. The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive pests crazy to keep your garden clean.

5. Want to avoid a hangover or terrible headache? Eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed and wake up refreshed and headache free. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B Vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and headache!!

6. Try rubbing a slice or two of cucumbers on your skin for a few minutes, the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and reducing the visibility of cellulite. Works great on wrinkles too hence why spas use Cucumber Treatments.

7. Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening snacking binge? Cucumbers have been used for centuries by european trappers, traders and explores for quick meals to thwart off starvation. 

8. Have an important meeting or job interview and you realize that you don't have enough time to polish your shoes? Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe, its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water. 

9. Stressed out and don't have time for massage, facial or visit to the spa? Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water, the chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber with react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown the reduce stress in new mothers and college students during final exams.

10. Looking for a 'green' way to clean your faucets, sinks or stainless steel? take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean, not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine, but is won't leave streaks and won't harm your skin.

Compliments to Lisa for the information... Go Bears!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Press Pushup Routine

For me pushups are the most versatile workout. Fast efficient and with countless renditions it will keep your muscles guessing what will come next. As a substitution for coffee or a quick way to get your heart rate up on a lazy day... the opportunities are endless!!

Obviously people of varying strengths will personalize their routine different with lifts they feel comfortable with and the number of repetitions that will maximize the growth potential however both beginners and experienced lifters can benefit greatly!! PS there is no harm to doing push ups on your knees if you still feel the burn!!

THP recommendations takes the max number of normal pushups you can do and divide by 5 for each of the pushup vatiations in the first set, divide by 6  in the second, and 2 in the final. I can normally perform 60 pushups so my set and repetition structure is as follows with the recommended press routine:
Rest until your heart rate drops
  •       10 Diamonds
  •       10 Half T-Pushup
  •       10 Spiderman Pushups
Maybe do some wall sits or planks until your heart rate slows a bit
I always finish with the Ultrawides until failure. Trust me its harder than you think... Enjoy!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Healthy Beef Lettuce Wraps

L and I have been cooking together for almost 4 months now... by cooking together i mean she cooks, i sometimes help and clean the kitchen occasionally. We've probably tried 25 or 30 new recipes and only a few really have stuck out that we include in our repertoire. 

Fresh from the Garden being one...

However tonight we stumbled upon a fantastic recipe from For the Love of Cooking for Beef Lettuce Wraps. Follow the link to get a step by step assembly... A few notes, tweaks & changes below!!

Green Onions - Nuval Score 100

Fresh Lettuce - Nuval Scope 100

Shredded Carrots - Nuval Score 99

Quinoa - Nuval Score 91

Flank Steak - Nuval Score 30

I played Sous Chef when L was at the gym since I've been working out all day. First preparing the marinade; low sodium soy sauce, apple vinegar, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, and a little oil. Dip the steak in the marinade and roll up in a ziplock bag then stick in the fridge for an hour or so.

Our main substitution was the protein packed Quinoa for rice... highly recommended. The dipping sauce was similar to the marinade which added loads of flavor but next time we plan to add other dipping options; Peanut Satay, Sweet & Sour, or my favorite Spicy Szechuan!! Make it your own...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The On The Go Workout

I originally started The Healthy Press thinking I would be working out at home much more than the gym but this new motivations has encouraged me to hit the gym 4 day a week. However the unfortunate departure of my flat mate J gearing up to travel world has sparked my interest to find the best workouts for the busy and on the go type. My advice for J: walk everywhere, rent a bike, take the stairs instead of elevator... its amazing how exploring a new city on foot can keep you in shape!!

HP Tip #3: Take the stairs instead...

The best workouts are the ones you enjoy doing in a place you are comfortable!! At home, in a park, or at the beach... all perfect spots for workouts using your own body weight. Any additional tools you have are an added bonus: pull up bar, balance ball, a pair of 20lb weights, kettle bells, etc...

Alright here is the official release of THP 8-Minute @HomeWorkout: I perform 4 circuits of 3 lifts focusing lower body, upper body, core exercise. So crank up your favorite playlist and get started!!

First Circuit:
Second Circuit:
Third Circuit:
Final Circuit:
  • 60 seconds - Wall Sits (advance with arm circles)
  • 60 seconds - Bicycle Kicks
My focus revolves around muscle training and the fast transition facilitates a cardio workout as well, I even grab a full jug of water (approximately 44lbs) to add weight for the leg workouts (a loaded backpack or girlfriend works too). However would strongly encourage adding star jumps, burpies, jump rope, boxing, or jump squats to your routine to really kick start your heart rate. 

Playgrounds are a great places to find useful equipment especially for pullups & chinups will add the missing back & bicep routine from the items above, trees work too!! Also, Rubber Band Flex Tubes can add a fantastic element of resistance to your workout. There are heaps of similar workouts out there so mix it up, be creative, and most important Have Fun!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

The FST-7 Workout

Growing up I was never into stretching... maybe a couple jumping jack before soccer games or the circle of calisthenics in the sweaty wresting room. But I don't think anyone ever explained why stretching was important past the "don't pull a muscle" rationale.

After doing some research WOW! The benefits of stretching while lifting are endless!! FST stands for Fascia Stretch Training which was established by The Oak Arnold Schwarzenegger, mastered by Mr Olympia Jay Cutler who introduced the 7 number of repetitions. Essentially the goal is rip your muscles then stretch out the tear to allow more essential amino acids repair the muscles... which adds volume!! The more you lift stretch and eat good protein packed food the bigger you get.

Just to warn you I started the FST-7 chest workout on Monday and my pecks are still sore, it's Saturday!! The first day I focused on heavier weights and lifting to failure contrary to the Men's Fitness Article advising to lift more repetition at lower weights, I did this on the second day after 24 - 36 hours to allow for initial muscle repair.

Did you know flexing increases blood flow to help repair muscles? So don't make fun of the guy showing off in the mirror!!

Day 1: Power Training
  • Incline Press: After a quick warmup I load the Smith Machine to fail for 4 sets of 8 - 10 reps. Recommend to descend just pas90° to avoid shoulder injury if you stack the weights.
  • Incline Dumbbell Fly: Keep your arms at 45° at finish for 3 sets 10 - 12 reps. Finish with your palms up and squeeze at the top to add focus on your lower chest.
  • Flat Dumbbell Press: Bringing the weights down just above your chest without touching for 3 sets of 10 - 12 reps or to fail. Keep your feet in the air to engage your core.
  • Hammer Strength Press: Load weights to fail at 8 -10 reps, drop weights & immediately repeat to fail, drop weight & repeat for a total of 4 sets. Adjust height to focus on different muscles.
  • Fascia Stretch Training: Between each set of the final 7 sets stretch the focus muscle. For chest; place hand on door jam and lunge for 10 seconds on each side followed by 20 seconds of flexing; with your hands clamped inhale and pull hands apart followed by exhale and press hands.
  • Cable Crossovers: During the fascia stretch training perform 7 sets of cable crossovers loading the weights for 10 - 12 reps. Adjust angle to exhaust the desired muscle and squeeze at finish.
Day 2: Low Intensity Training
  • Incline Dumbbell: Bench at 45° smoothly finish 4 sets of 12 - 15 reps.
  • Flat Dumbbell Fly: With arms only slightly bent 4 sets of 12 - 15 reps.
  • Decline Bench Press: Finish just above chest 3 sets of 12 - 15 reps on smith machine.
  • Low Cable Crossovers: Start FST for first 4 sets of 12 - 15 reps. Start in a lunge and finish with arms outstretched while your back leg in the air to engage your core.
  • Modified Pushups: Finish FST for last 3 sets to fail, grab two 25 pound weights to balance on the start pushups. I failed at 8 then 6 and 5...
After each day I was extremely sweaty, exhausted and very hungry... Luckily the island hotel was still serving during Ramadan and got to have my 111th Mexican Chicken Burger!! A large grilled chicken  breast, tomatoes, lettuce, jalapenos and amazing quacamole perfect for a post FST-7 Workout. 

One of the many benefits to lifting is that your muscles consume fuel in calories long after the exercise is finished. The results 2 days later were definitely noticeable, the top of my chest was much larger. Probably from the water intake but hey... at least I know its working!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Fresh From the Garden

Ever since I was little tomatoes were always around. My grandfather had a large tomato garden that my dad used to pick every summer! I have fond memories of moving the lawn, watching baseball and eating thinly sliced tomatoes with Salt & Pepper and a side of Cape Cod potato chips!!

Since I started my efforts to eat, drink and live healthier; one recipe has caught my taste buds that we've been making over and over. Laura calls it Fresh from the Garden and it's been handed down through generations in Iowa and is now making its way to the Middle East.

Fresh from the Garden

1 cup of protein packed quinoa:            Nuval Score 91

3 large chopped ripe tomatoes:             Nuval Score 96

1 medium diced cucumbers:                 Nuval Score 93

1 half a seeded yellow peppers:            Nuval Score 96

5 chopped green onions:                       Nuval Score 100

1 medium carrot shredded:                    Nuval Score 99

1 quarter cup freshly cut parsley:           Nuval Score 99

1 quarter cup fresh chopped basil:         Nuval Score 100

6 cloves pressed garlic:                          Nuval Score 99

The recipe calls for the Quinoa to be boiled in one and a quarter cup of water however we mix half water and half chicken broth to add flavor, make sure to follow the cooking instructions.

Mix the vegetables together; toss with 4 tablespoons of olive oil and 4 tablespoons of red wine vinaigrette in a large bowl to create a fresh and healthy vegetable salsa. Add salt and ground pepper to taste, red pepper flakes too if you like it spicy. Let the salsa set for 15 minutes then heat up in the microwave for 5 minutes or so.

Enjoy Salsa over Quinoa for a delicious dinner... Great served cold for lunch or a quick snack too!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Multidisciplinary Workout

I feel everyone's perception of the way to a perfect stomach is through crunches... lots and lots of simple crunches. The issue with crunches is only works the upper part of your abs. There is a lot more muscle between your ribs and hip bones then we realize, wrap the muscle all the way around you body and you get your core. I got my fitness assessed at the start of this whole journey and my core makes up the same muscle mass as one of my legs, a quarter of my bodies strength...

I watched a video back when that recommended "If your abs are sore, keeping working them... everyday!!" I would fully support this, even if just a little bit to make sure they know you still care. So what I started to do is integrate abs into every other workout I can; which is what I refer to as The Multidisciplinary Workout. For instance:

  • Standing one legged EZ Bar Curls and Dumbbell Tricep Extensions
  • Incline Dumbbell Bench and Flys with Leg inverted
  • Dumbbell Front Raises or Curls while chair sitting against a wall
  • Lunge start, barbell shoulder press and push the back leg forward to finish with one knee in the air

The last one is my new favorite!! Also can be done with cables lower chest raises with the cables down low, the further forward you go the harder it is to hold your arms outstretched while balanced on one leg. After a few weeks of this plus moderate ab workouts every other day I really started to feel my abs flexed throughout the day, much more stable. Try out my typical ab workout:

  • 10 short scissor kicks followed by a leg raise, consecutively repeat 10 times
  • 20 super crunches with elevated feet like the image above, I like to stagger my legs
  • 20 finger pushes, with legs elevated 12 inches off the ground place your hands flat by your side and push your fingers forward 3 inches or so...
  • 100 bicycle kicks then planks until I collapse
  • Repeat twice with reduced reps as needed
  • Try not to fall out of bed in the morning

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Breakdown

Since my first blog post 3 weeks ago I've made it to the gym more, eaten better (thanks to my fantastic girlfriend), avoided smoky bars, and overall I have much more energy!! From the various articles stroke blog posts all over the internet the key to loosing fat is to gain muscle that will burn calories long after your workouts over. I talked to some trainers at my gym and said the same thing.

A little bit about myself... I've always been active; wrestled for about 8 years growing up and played intramurals in college as well as lifted. I was probably in the best shape of my life freshman year. But once the gym visits slowed down and beer consumption kicked in, the belly started to fill out and that once flat stomach started to disappear. This picture was taken a few years back in Morocco, I like it because the water hides my small arms and the fact I'm sucking in my gut. One of my main goals right now, among other things, is to get that six pack back!! So what do I need to do first?? Increase my muscle mass and let my body work for me... 

I told myself that 2011, at 27 years old, I was going to be in the best shape of my life!! So I ran a marathon (finished in just over 4 hours), a mini-triathlon, and even signed up for kettle bell on the beach. But none of those penetrated my food pocket to expose my abs. Time to try something new!!

I wanted to understand how the body breaks down food and after reading various articles it seems like the place to start was the liver, which is the major distributor of nutrients to different part of your body... The liver breaks down carbohydrates to form Glucose or Energy. However, the liver will also breakdown any harmful substances that enter the body as a priority; various toxins, alcohol, and chemicals that are found in everyday food such as Mercury in Fish & High Fructose Corn Syrup in Soda. Even Diet Soda has artificial sweeteners that can be harmful. This function takes away from the liver's essential function of breaking down food to provide nutrients to the body.

HP Tip #2: Try to stay far away from the soda & processed foods!!

I will refer to the trusty Mayo Clinic and a personal Idol of mine... Lance Armstrong for support:

Despite the health risk identified by putting these consumables into your body, it takes away from another major function of the liver... The function I am trying to harness!! When you workout the primary energy source is Glucose, then it will draw from Glycogen previously stored by the liver. Once all of the G-energy sources are exhausted your body starts attacking stored fat which is turned into (darn another G-word) Glycerol which can be used as an alternate energy source!!

Now the beauty of this concept is that if your Metabolism is Strong and you Eat Healthy the liver will start breaking down the fat when its done working ie between meals and sleeping... Burn fat while you sleep? What a fantastic idea!! Your muscles can actually consume energy hours after the workout is over, one of the prolonged advantages of lifting compared to pure cardio workouts.

Obviously these processes are much more complicated than I expressed and apologies if I confused you. Honestly, I confused myself a little trying to digest (hehe) all the technical information which kind of seems like a foreign language to this engineer. However, here's the real scoop:

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Elixir of Life

Woke up this morning with a fuzzy head and chalky taste in my mouth after Laura and I polished off two bottles of red wine last night and a naked pizza... Brushed my teeth and ventured into the Dubai summer heat for a quick run around the marina. I normally try not to complain but, good grief, was it hot!! Temperature according to Google is 43°C, only just under 110°F, with 28% humidity. 

Definitely not the worst it's been but needless to say I didn't see any other runners out. I planned to run 5k but ended up taking the first bridge and only made it 3. Oh well, my head was starting to feel like a balloon so I went into the gym to meet Laura. Dreading the upcoming ab workout I grabbed a cup of water at the cooler and BAM!! immediately refreshed and ready for more. 

Growing up I was kind of a nerd and loved The Legend of Zelda!! You know the one: BanalumtalaLa DaNantDaNantDaNantDaNant. I felt like I drank that blue potion that gives you all your hearts back so you can shoot lasers out of the sword. Anyways, water just seems to have magical energizing properties, especially in the gym so...

HP Tip #1: Drink water, wherever and whenever possible!!

There are multiple ways to gauge your water intake and thousands of benefits aside from adding energy to your life; avoids hangovers from the alcohol replacing water in your blood stream, helps prevents diabetes and kidney stones, muscles recover from workouts faster, increases metabolism, helps the liver process fats instead of sugars and chemicals if you replace soda and processed juice with water, suppresses hunger, acts a natural detox, prevent illness by improving your immune system, reduces headaches, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, moisturizes joints for those with knee pain, prevents acne, brightens eyes, reduces wrinkles, improves overall skin quality and will ultimately puts me in a better, happy mood!!

If you're still skeptical or please read the Risk of Dehydration published by the Mayo Clinic. Additionally, if you will be working outside, hiking, or running long distances make sure to drink gatorade or add extra salt to your meal as sweating decreases your sodium levels which can be fatal. Stay healthy, keep hydrated!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Healthy Guacamole

Just for the record, if anyone read my blog yesterday, I did not make it to the gym this morning as I was wrapped up in a blanket battle last night. Tomorrow, however, is a new day and think I'll sleep much better after tonight's wonderful mexican food I miss so much. I credit Kalyn's Kitchen for the awesome tacos!!

On the recipe it suggests a variety of other condiments to put on the tacos; hot sauce, black olives, and my all time favorite... Guacamole!! However, spiced it up a bit with my patented recipe which I've been keeping a secret until so both of my blog followers can reap the healthy benefits of Avocados, Nuval Scope: 89...

The Press' Healthy Guacamole:

2 Fresh Avocados - The best are the squishy ones!! Mash with a fork before adding the rest...
100 grams of green salsa - Preferably from El Meson in Schaumburg IL but most will do.
100 grams of low fat cottage cheese - Great substitution for sour cream!! 

Mix well and add chili powder (or chopped jalapeños) to taste. I like mine spicy... Enjoy!!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Hollywood Workout

I've been out of college for about 5 years now and my workout regime is like a roller coaster... I hired a personal trainer when I graduated which kept me motivated considering I was paying for it, but let to my own devises I tend to loose site until I look at a photo and think "Man my arms look small" then exert a bit more effort. I would definitely classify myself as a "Hollywood Lifter" the guys at the gym that only lift their chest and biceps. Yep, thats me...

Inspiration: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Goal: Lift all major muscle groups at least 3 times a week and abs at home everyday!!
Problem: I get home late from work and tend to be lazy on the weekend.
Inspiration: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Solution: Workout in the morning? Suck it up!!

Chest Sunday, Legs & Back Tuesday, Arms Friday. Try to fit in a couple klicks after to get the heart rate up a little. We'll see how that goes... No Hollywoods!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Forest

In the spirit of the holiday weekend, cheap plane tickets, and my new found ambition to get healthy Laura and I booked a last minute trip to Nepal... A nice resort in The Gokarna Forest just outside Kathmandu. A place to read and write and relax with amazing spa deals and spiritual enlightenments. Now I don't want to turn this into a travel blog by any means but this place was pretty sweet!! Mornings filled with Nature Hikes trying to avoid the leaches and monkeys while the Himalayan Massages consumed the afternoons.

I think more than anything the time away from reality... the opportunity to gather my thoughts was the major highlight. We woke up each morning to the sound of rain outside our open window, a situation I rarely find myself in these days, and went to the 8am yoga class. Now I've yoga'd before but by no means would I appear to know what I was doing. Luckily the class mainly consisted of some light calisthenics, some twisting, stretching, breathing funny, closing eyes, opening them slowly, etc... very minimal up dog tree airplane stuff. My favorite part, however, was the mediation... 20 minutes at the end of each session where we could escape to a tranquil place and relax our minds... relax our face, relax our arms and our legs. Our first instructor pretty much asked us to relax every bit and piece you can think of, with no filter. Quite entertaining. 

Either a run or a quick sauna session in 72 degrees celsius, depending on the rain, usually followed. Then onto breakfast filled with fresh juices, omelette guy, some nice morning curries, and an assortment of fruit. One in particular I recently found out is a superfruit, Papaya   along with Pears and Pineapples and Mangos and Cute Little Bananananas made me very happy as I prep'd for the busy day ahead!! 

That afternoon we took a trip through the winding dirt roads and into the heart of the city. Lots of shopping and strenuous negotiating took place over the next couple hours. One spot "Boudha Stoupa" was filled with monks praying and tourists commingling as we all walk clockwise around this specular circular monument, we must have made at least 15 laps. Upon return we went straight to the spa and contemplated the next indulgence as we sipped on our seven spice tea. In Proper Healthy Fashion I decided upon the Detox Algae Wrap not really sure what to expect other than a small Nepalese women rubbing green paste all over me. It started with a nice scrub down followed a quick shower and an invigorating algae lotion application. Laura was next to me laughing when they started wrapping me up like a big burrito fueling the giggling masseuses. Anyways, they put the heat on and massaged my face for about a half hour and all I could think about was tearing free in a cloud of hissing steam, transformed like superman with a perfect 6 pack. That obviously didn't happen but hey, at least it removed some of my harmful toxins... and much easier than a leach would, hehe. Will just have to work on those abs.