Use Food for Fuel

To really see results, lose weight, gain muscle or simply maintain what you have worked hard to achieve you need to understand one simple yet vital rule: find a balance between your exercise and food – they work together to give your body the best possible results!

There is no one answer to what balance is ideal as everybody is different and they have different goals. To start you’re going to need to ask yourself some basic questions. Question such as, what do you want to achieve, how much you will exercise, how many calories you need to consume, what foods satisfy you, what foods negatively affect you such as bloating or disturbing your bowel movements! It will take some trial and error and you will discover much more about yourself when using the great nutritional tool offered by www.makemyplate.co that not only shows you calories but also nutrients so you know exactly how much protein, carbs and fat is in each meal. You will even have fun tracking your diet, finding out what makes you feels great, getting inspiration from other users and even getting feedback from health professionals it will be a revelation so enjoy the journey!

Something that definitely applies to everyone no matter what your goals are is the importance of a post workout snack. It may sound strange to say eat within 1 hour after a good workout especially if you’re trying to lose weight but in fact what this snack does is take advantage of your body in its high metabolizing state from the exercise and giving it more energy (food) helps to continue burning and metabolizing for up to 72hrs – that means you can help your body burn fat for hours after your workout!

But don’t go thinking you can eat just anything – a snack size amount of carbs and some protein is ideal as carbs (glycogen) are the most accessible source of energy while protein is released more slowly and helps your muscles to recover.

Check out these plates for inspiration and start making some of your own!

http://www.makemyplate.co/plate?id=11909

http://www.makemyplate.co/plate?id=13556

http://www.makemyplate.co/plate?id=21490

By: Miranda Smith

How Muscles Contract

You do it without evening thinking about it. It just seems to happen and then off you go. Whether you grab something from the floor or twist your body around to look at something you are contracting your muscles. Most people think of muscular contraction in terms of exercise, but it is applicable to all forms of skeletal movement.

However, the coolest thing about muscular contraction is the science behind it. You couldn’t even imagine all of the mechanisms that are at play just for a simple contraction to occur. It is truly mind boggling. So, I want to give everyone a quick and sweet summary of the exercise physiology behind muscular contraction. First, a neurotransmitter (acetylcholine) is supplied to begin the transmission to the sarcoplasmic reticulum. Okay, too much? Haha! Let’s make it even simpler.

When you want to contract your muscles to run, jump, walk, etc. your central nervous system sends a signal to your muscles to contract. In this process several components are at play which, communicate with each other for movement.   Movement ends when the neurotransmitter that is supplied decomposes.  This decomposition is a byproduct of the breakdown of ATP (energy) into ADP.  You can continue to produce muscular contraction continuously as long as the activity you are doing is steady state in nature (i.e. jogging, walking, etc.). As soon as you begin to perform activities that are high intensity (i.e. sprinting, resistance training, etc.) you will only have a short period of energy available to continue muscular contraction.

So, next time you are exercising think about your amazing body and how it functions in a wonderfully complex way to allow you to move!

http://www.linkedin.com/in/darianparker

http://www.twitter.com/doctordarian

http://doctordarian.blogspot.com

Increase Blood Volume

By: Darian Parker

When I was a track and field sprinter in college, I was one of the rare student-athletes who majored in something other than business or computer science. I have always been fascinated with the human body. I wanted to learn about what actually happened in the body after I trained day in, day out. I am sure many of you run, weight train or do some variety of both forms of exercise and what is truly amazing is how the human body responds to those activities.

One of the amazing adaptations the body makes is to cardiovascular exercise. In particular, the blood flowing through your body changes dramatically to the meet the demands of cardiovascular exercise. Did you know that as you overload your body by going faster, farther and harder with your cardio exercise that you increase the amount of blood in your body?

How this occurs is truly awesome. When the body recognizes it needs more oxygen to meet the demands of the cardiovascular exercise you are doing it increases the amount of blood plasma and red blood cells in your body. This increase in plasma and red blood cells results in more oxygen being delivered to your body to increase your cardiorespiratory endurance. Additionally, the viscosity of your blood decreases meaning that it thins a bit so that more can get to your heart to be pumped out to the rest of your body.

Having this knowledge not only sustained me as a former runner in college, but it continues to sustain me today when I go for a run outside or I teach a high intensity functional training class. I know that my body is doing wonderful things to help me go longer and train harder each time I overload it. So, next time you do your cardio think about the amazing interest you are building in your body. It is working hard for you!

http://www.linkedin.com/in/darianparker

http://www.twitter.com/doctordarian

http://doctordarian.blogspot.com

Welcome RunKeeper Users!

How Bank of Fitness works for exercise app users.

Link your Bank of Fitness account with your RunKeeper account from the BoF homepage.

Now whenever you exercise using your RunKeeper account you’ll automatically receive your BoF points.

Next, visit our rewards section and view all the great rewards we have to keep you motivated.

So, all you have to do is Workout. Get Rewarded!

How you earn points for exercising.

When you use your exercise app all you have to do is reach a minimum distance traveled (see chart below) to receive your BoF points.

Why don’t I receive more points for covering more distance when I exercise? Bank of Fitness’ users are both gym members and exercise app users. So, to keep it fair for both types of users the way users can receive more BoF points is to exercise on more days. Here is our How it Works page.

You can only receive BoF points once per day.

Also, if you exercise and forget to use your exercise app you can use our manual “Check-in” button to receive your points.

3 Exercises I Couldn’t Live Without

Now that my schedule is getting busier I find myself having less and less time to dedicate to the gym. So, I’m always looking for the most efficient exercises to do with the little time I have. That got me thinking. What are the most efficient exercises? What if I took it a step further and could only do 3 exercises the rest of my life. What would I do? Would I become the world champion at crunches, curls, and kickbacks?

Narrowing down the list to 3 is really tough considering how many different exercises there are and how many different pieces of equipment you could use. So, for the list let’s say I can only use dumbbells or a barbell with its respective weights. I’m also excluding cardio exercises like running or swimming which would be no brainers.

  1. Squats – When you can use over 60% of your body’s muscles in one movement it’s not even a question. Combine that with the fact that the more muscle fibers you use, the more testosterone that is released into the bloodstream. Squats prime your body to lift heavier and get stronger.

But, I don’t want a barbell sitting one my spine for the next 50 years (hopefully). What about variations? I could hold dumbbells by my side or do front squats to keep resistance aspect of squats while giving my spine a break. I can also make squats more explosive by doing squat jumps.

  1. Push-ups – Now that I have the lower body taken care of I need an upper body movement, specifically a push movement.  Pushups are going to engage my chest, triceps, shoulders, and core.

Now I can perform pushups for muscular endurance or muscular strength. A misconception is they’re only good for endurance. But, have you ever tried putting a 45lb plate on your back to do pushups? Or doing hand clap pushups? They’re great strength builders. For other variations I could use wide, narrow, or alternate hand positions.

  1. Pull-ups – I have a lower body and a push movement accounted for, so all I need now is a pull movement. Now I get to work my back, biceps, shoulder, and core. Pullups are going to be perfect because of their level of difficulty and possible variations. Even if I couldn’t currently complete a pullup I do a jumping pullup.

Similarly to with pullups as with pushups to make it more of a strength exercise I can do weighted pullups. I can even turn pullups into a great abs exercise by doing L pullups. I can also vary my grips between overhand, underhand, wide, and narrow.

I’m sure after reading this some people are thinking what about core?! My core is firing during all 3 of these exercises. I can go weeks without doing one ab exercise and still have a decent six pack. It hurts me to think about how much time in college I wasted doing different ab exercises instead of these multi-joint exercises that engage my core.

What would your top 3 be?

Site Features

In the upcoming months we’re going to be releasing a lot of new features to the site and posting great rewards to keep everyone motivated. We’re interested in hearing what features to the site our users would like to see. Feel free to recommend anything you would like to see or if there is anything on the site now that you don’t like, just let us know. Use the comments area for your recommendations.

At Home Training Plan

As a personal trainer I often get asked “what are the best exercises that I should be doing to get fit and lose weight”. My response to this is often “how long is a piece of string”. There are almost infinite exercises and combinations of exercises that you can do to improve your fitness and to burn calories. The key however is to focus on exercises (and combinations of exercises) that work the whole body and elevate your heart rate.

From my experience training clients and researching training techniques, I have developed a system that helps clients to improve their fitness, lose body fat (if that is your goal) and gain lean muscle (alongside an appropriate nutritional program). I base my programs on alternating between upper and lower body exercises in a well-designed circuit. The benefit of alternating between upper body and lower body exercises is that while the upper body muscles (arms, shoulders, core, chest) are working the lower body muscles (legs and glutes) are resting and vice versa. This therefore allows you to continue exercising the upper body while the lower body is fatigued and resting and vice versa. The crucial part however is that regardless of which body part is working (upper or lower) your heart is still having to work to pump blood and oxygen around the body, thus giving you a fantastic Cardiovascular workout, burning calories and increasing your metabolic rate.

So for instance, you may do 40 seconds of lunges, which works your lower body muscles (and core) and your heart as it has to pump blood and oxygen around your body in particular to your lower body. Then without resting you may do 30 seconds of shoulder presses, so while your leg muscles are resting your upper body muscles (and core) are now working. Crucially, your heart still has to pump blood and oxygen around your body in particular to your upper body. Then without rest you may do 40 seconds of squats, although your upper body muscles are resting your lower body muscles (and core) are now working. Crucially, you guessed it, your heart has to continue pumping blood and oxygen around your body in particular to your lower body. You then go back to an upper body exercise and so on.

This type of training is also great because it is very time efficient as it will give you a fantastic whole body workout in a relatively short space of time, which is vital as we all live busy lives, and it also helps to prevent boredom setting in.

Below is a sample training program that uses the principle I have discussed above of alternating between upper and lower body exercises and to keep your heart rate elevated. As you will notice, the duration that you perform each exercise increases each week by 5 seconds and the rest period at the end of each circuit reduces by 5 seconds. This is to ensure that you continue to progress and challenge yourself. You will notice that for the final exercise of each circuit I have included a whole body cardiovascular exercise of Burpees, Jumping Jacks and Skipping to ensure you get a fantastic Cardiovascular workout. In addition, the lower body exercises work for 10 seconds longer than the upper body exercises due to being larger muscle groups. Ensure that you warm up correctly at the start before doing the circuit and cool down correctly at the end.

Exercise Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5
Lunges 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds 45 seconds 50 seconds
Push ups 20 seconds 25 seconds 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds
Planks 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds 45 seconds 50 seconds
Squats 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds 45 seconds 50 seconds
Tricep dips 20 seconds 25 seconds 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds
Burpees 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds 45 seconds 50 seconds
Rest 60 seconds Rest 55 seconds Rest 50 seconds Rest 45 seconds Rest 40 seconds
Lunges 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds 45 seconds 50 seconds
Push ups 20 seconds 25 seconds 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds
Planks 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds 45 seconds 50 seconds
Squats 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds 45 seconds 50 seconds
Tricep dips 20 seconds 25 seconds 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds
Jumping Jacks 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds 45 seconds 50 seconds
Rest 60 seconds Rest 55 seconds Rest 50 seconds Rest 45 seconds Rest 40 seconds
Lunges 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds 45 seconds 50 seconds
Push ups 20 seconds 25 seconds 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds
Planks 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds 45 seconds 50 seconds
Squats 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds 45 seconds 50 seconds
Tricep dips 20 seconds 25 seconds 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds
Skipping 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds 45 seconds 50 seconds

 

If you do the circuit 2-4 times per week you will soon start to notice a difference. You can progress the program further if you need to by increasing the time of each exercise and/or decreasing the rest period at the end of the circuit. Likewise, should the circuit be too challenging to begin with, you can decrease the time of each exercise and/or increase the rest period.

It is crucial to follow an appropriate nutritional strategy alongside your training if you want to achieve your goals. Alongside the above training program, utilize the following nutrition strategies to help you achieve your goals and objectives:

1.) Eat four to six meals every day to increase your metabolic rate. Aim to eat every 2-3 hours.

2.) Eat a source of lean protein at every meal e.g. chicken, fish, whey protein.

3.) Eat vegetables as much as possible as they are not calorie dense and contain a lot of vital vitamins/minerals.

4.) Eat Healthy essential fats with each meal e.g. fish, almonds, peanut butter.

5.) Drink lots of water to keep hydrated and boost your metabolism.

Aim to get into good nutritional habits by experimenting on your food choices and combinations and be prepared. For instance, get into the habit of making your day’s meals and snack for the day ahead every evening and put them into tupperware boxes for ease of access. Being prepared is crucial because it will minimize your chances of getting hungry and then snacking on the wrong foods and you know exactly what you are fueling yourself with.

Should you require any help, advice or information please do not hesitate to contact me. I would be delighted to discuss with you the tried and tested methods and lifestyle changes that I have developed. Please remember that the above is only a sample program and the exercises you can use are almost infinite.

 “Together, we’ll achieve your goals”

Matt Swierzynski

E: matt@mattswaz.co.uk

W: www.mattswaz.co.uk

Benefits Of Exercising At Home

Does the following sound familiar “I cannot afford to go to the gym” or “I do not have enough time to go to the gym”?  As a personal trainer, I firmly believe that you do not need expensive gym memberships or equipment to achieve your health and fitness goals. Many of my clients have been surprised just how successful you can be in achieving your goals by simply training at home and/or outdoors.  This has resulted in them cancelling their gym memberships and using their ‘home’ or ‘outdoor’ gym. Rather than paying a gym to use their ‘equipment’ why not use the ‘equipment’ that you always have at your disposal; yourself, your property and/or the great outdoors.

Look around your house and you will see infinite ways to use household ‘equipment’ to get a fantastic workout, for instance the stairs for doing walking/running, kitchen chairs or garden bench for doing steps ups and tricep dips and the carpet for doing press ups on. The ways in which you can devise a targeted and effective program to achieve your health and fitness goals at home is endless.

Best of all, training at home or outdoors will save you time and money, including:

  • Driving to and from the gym;
  • Waiting at the exercise machine for the person to finish their set;
  • Waiting at the water machine for the person to stop checking their phone;
  • Paying for your gym membership;
  • Car fuel;
  • Needing to buy the latest gym gear to look good and impress people

If you feel you will miss the social aspect of going to a gym, why not team up with a friend, neighbor, family member and do the sessions at each other’s house.

As a starter, try the following workout at home (or outdoors):

  • 1-2 minutes of stair work (mixture of running and walking)
  • 20-30 seconds of jumping jacks
  • 10-20 seconds of push ups
  • 20-30 seconds of lunges
  • 10-20 seconds of tricep dips on a step
  • 20-30 seconds of squats
  • 20-30 seconds of plank

All you need for the above circuit is yourself, a bottle of water and a small amount of space (e.g. garage, patio, bedroom, living room etc). If you do not have any stairs inside your house or outside you can substitute this with 1-2 minutes of running, walking and jumping on the spot.

Do the circuit 2-3 times and only rest for 30-45 seconds at the end of each circuit. Warm up correctly by doing mobility exercises e.g. walking up and down the stairs, doing 8-12 lunges, 8-10 arm circles and side twists. Cool down correctly at the end by doing a whole body stretching session. You can progress the circuit by increasing the time that you perform each exercise and/or reducing the rest after each circuit. If you do the circuit 2-4 times per week you will soon start to notice a difference.

Should you require any help, advice or information please do not hesitate to contact me. I would be delighted to discuss with you the tried and tested methods and lifestyle changes that I have developed. You can visit me at www.mattswaz.co.uk

Matt Swierzynski

“Together, we’ll achieve your goals”

Want your workout to actually happen? Plan for it.

I am sure many of you out there are like me: you don’t have hours to spend in the gym, nor would you want to.  But how many of you find that your workout is too often crowded out of your schedule by other obligations and all of a sudden you only have 10, 20 or 30 minutes to workout?  Or when you do finally get into the gym you are on autopilot and get bored doing the same thing every time?  If these scenarios sound familiar, here is the skinny on how to revamp and reenergize your workouts.

1.  Schedule your workout in your day planner, BlackBerry, or iCal first thing in the morning (or better yet, first thing each week).  If you treat your workout like an important meeting you will be more inclined to have time for it.  I know that not everyone is a morning person, but if you work out before your day gets going there is no way it will get cut from your schedule.   You don’t have to get up super early; try just 20 minutes.  This is enough time to get a quick workout and after some time the mornings might get easier for you!

2.  Plan those scheduled workouts.  If you know that you have time for 3 workouts this week (since they’re now in your planner), think about what you should focus on during each session.  If you have Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to work out, for example, your plan could look like this:

Tuesday: cardio (running, spin, bike, swimming, exercise DVD)

Wednesday: resistance training

Thursday: another cardio day

However you choose schedule your workouts, make sure you have a plan.

3.  RECORD YOUR PROGRESS IN A LOG!  Documenting every workout gives you a record to reflect on what you have accomplished and is one of the best ways to continually drive your motivation.  After three or four weeks of consistent exercise you need to make sure you are still challenging yourself.  You may decide that based on your log you are going to add some distance to your run or cycling session, try to push harder during your resistance training, or add a little time to a workout.  A workout log allows you to make sure you are not always doing the same exercises.

4.  Switch things up.  Too often I observe people doing the same workout every day.  While working out every day is a commendable accomplishment, continually repeating the exact same exercises will actually cause your body to get used to what you are doing and you will get less “bang for your buck.”  If you change just one workout during the week, you can jump-start your body again to get a bigger calorie burn from your exercises.

5.  Do something you enjoy.  While there are aspects of exercise we all hate, you will be more inclined to continue working out and getting up early if you look forward to what you are doing.  I used to wake up to make a 6 AM spin class twice a week because I loved to spin. Yes, it was painfully early when I would otherwise not wake up until 7:15, but I really enjoyed the class and the way I felt afterward, so it was worth it to me.  Find what works for you!

In summary: You need to intentionally plan your workouts.  Even if you don’t know much about exercise, act like your own personal trainer.  You would never go into a meeting unprepared; treat your workout the same way!  If you try these tips and you’re still missing workouts, you may want to seriously consider hiring a personal trainer.  You’ll find that you’ll prioritize your workouts more if you actually have an appointment with another person.

If you’re living life in the fast lane and are looking for more tips on health and fitness, check out www.downtownskinny.com!

Posted by: The Downtown Skinny