Sunday, January 30, 2011

Efficient Training (Turbulence Training)

One of the programs I promote on this blog is Turbulence Training.  Some of my readers have used it and had good results.  Here's an article on time-efficient training.  Like I always say, you don't have to live in the gym to have a good physique. You can read my review of Turbulence Training if you want more info:

Build A Lean, Athletic Physique In Just 3 Short Workouts A Week
By line: By Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS

I went to the gym for one of my 45-minute workouts and quickly found myself surrounded by a bunch of weight belt wearing, orange juice carrying bodybuilders.

Not that there’s anything wrong with them….

… In fact, I got along with these guys perfectly alright. The point is that our workouts couldn’t have been much more different.

You see, while the bodybuilders typically spent most of their 90-minute workouts sitting around in between sets, or drinking their big ol’ jugs of OJ, or even just chatting with one another, I spent my much shorter workout getting to work right away, and then making sure I didn’t slow down until I’d finished.

And the reason for this was simple...

… I just didn’t have a lot of free time to workout.

But just because I didn’t have 90 minutes a day to workout, didn’t mean I simply accepted mediocre results.

That’s because in half the time those bodybuilders were working out, I turned up the intensity and followed one of my favorite workouts from the Turbulence Training for Fat Loss Manual, TT 2K4.

With this 3 day-a-week workout in my arsenal, I was able to spend just 45 minutes in the gym. But that’s not even the best part!

That’s because TT 2K4 is designed in such a way that it burns fat long after you’ve left the gym. So all you need to do is workout hard for just 45 minutes and you’ll then reap the benefits for up to 48 hours later.

Ain’t that great?

I realize many of you are just as busy as me and so we can’t afford to workout 90 minutes a day, 6 days a week. That’s why I designed Turbulence Training and the 2K4 workout program.

With a series of challenging bodyweight and dumbbell supersets, not to mention one muscle-pumping superset that even bodybuilders would love, TT 2K4 is the perfect program to get you maximum results in minimum time.


About the Author

Craig Ballantyne is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and writes for Men's Health, Men's Fitness, Maximum Fitness, Muscle and Fitness Hers, and Oxygen magazines. His trademarked Turbulence Training fat loss workouts have been featured multiple times in Men’s Fitness and Maximum Fitness magazines, and have helped thousands of men and women around the world lose fat, gain muscle, and get lean in less than 45 minutes three times per week. For more information on the Turbulence Training workouts that will help you burn fat without long, slow cardio sessions or fancy equipment, visit Turbulence Training. 

You can read my Review of Turbulence Training for more info.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Healthy Salad Dressing

Want to learn more about healthy, low calorie way to make salad dressing?  Check out this article from Mike Geary (creator of the Truth About Abs program):

If you want to eat truly healthy, support your fat loss goals, and avoid some of the nasty additives in processed food, one thing you should eliminate is typical store-bought salad dressing.
I personally NEVER buy pre-made salad dressings from the store anymore, and here's why:

1. Almost all store-bought salad dressings contain fairly large amounts of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  Unless you're in a health food store, it's almost impossible to find a salad dressing that doesn't contain large amounts of HFCS.

2. Almost all store-bought salad dressings contain heavily refined soybean oil and/or refined canola oil... both of which are VERY unhealthy. Yes, that's correct, canola oil IS unhealthy, despite the marketing propaganda you've been fed claiming that it's healthy. . .

Read the rest of the article here:  Super Healthy Salad Dressing

Monday, January 24, 2011

Get Toned

Women often say something like this when talking about their fitness goals:

"I don't want to get big, I just want to get toned."

I want to discuss the goal to "get toned" and how you can go about it.

First and foremost, we need to clarify something:  muscle tone is actually a medical term.  It refers to the constant state of tension of the muscles in a healthy/normal individual.  You already have normal muscle tone unless you have some type of medical condition (such as a nueromuscular disease).  A muscle does not get more "toned" through training--it gets bigger, stronger, or (normally) a combination of the two.

Having said all this, I understand what trainees mean when they talk about "toning" as their goal:  they are referring to looking leaner and "firmer" without being overly muscular.

So how do you do this?  First and foremost, I'd recommend the same basic weight training exercises that men do.  Let me explain a few more things before you panic with visions of the she-hulk.

Generally speaking, women just don't get that big from weight training.  One reason has to do with muscle fibers.  Women tend to have a higher ration of slow-twitch (endurance) fibers, which have less potential for getting bigger.  Secondly (more importantly), women just don't have the hormonal make-up to get as big as their male counterparts.  Men, for example, have 15x the amount of testosterone women have. 

Let me show you a picture.  Here's a shot from the Truth About Abs E-book--a woman doing barbell squats: 
See any huge muscles or veins?  Nope--she's a natural (steroid-free) female trainee who is training hard enough to see real results.

Next I would recommend some form of cardiovascular training.  There's quite a debate on the use of steady-state (treadmills, etc) cardio versus interval training.  The program I'm going to recommend tends to prescribe interval training.

Last (but definitely not least), you have to get your diet in order.  The "toned" look comes from having relatively low body fat levels, which requires a calorie deficit.  You'll need to have a balance of lean protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.  There's simply no "magic bullet" or diet pill you can take to change the basic calorie-in vs calorie-out equation.

Let's summarize:

The "toned" look comes from low body fat and well-developed muscles.  It can be achieved through the correct combination of diet and training.

I would recommend Mike Geary's Truth About Abs if you are looking for a practical guide to achieving this look.  This has been my #1-selling product so far on this blog.  You can read my review of this product here:

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Abs Exercises

Here's another article from Mike Geary, creator of the Truth About Abs program.   He talks about three exercises that work the abdominal muscles, but also work other muscle groups.  Training this way will burn more fat and result in a flat stomach:

Instead of the typical ab exercise routines that we see so often with crunches, situps, leg lifts, etc... I like to give my readers better options for metabolism-boosting high intensity workouts that work their entire body while also working their abs.

I'm going to show you an example today of one of my favorite ab workouts that doesn't include any direct ab exercises at all. It's in a tri-set format (similar to a super-set but alternating between 3 exercises).

Here goes:

1a. Renegade Dumbbell Rows

1b. Front Squats with Barbell

1c. Mountain Climbers on Floor

A good rep scheme to use with this could be 3-4 sets of 8 reps for each exercise, or more sets for less reps, such as 5 sets of 5 reps of each exercise. Mountain climbers can be done for a time interval (such as 30 seconds) instead of "reps".

Renegade dumbbell rows are done starting in a pushup position with the hands on 2 dumbbells. You then row one dumbbell up while stabilizing your body with the other arm. Bring the dumbbell back to the ground and alternate the rowing arm while stabilizing with the opposite arm. This stabilizing effect during the rows creates incredible work for your entire midsection core area. Trust me... you'll feel it in the abs!

Front squats are done similar to back squats, however with the barbell in front of your body on the front of your shoulders instead of resting on the upper back as in back squats. You stabilize the barbell on your shoulders by crossing your arms and pushing your fists into the bar against your shoulders while keeping your elbows out in front of the body. This takes a little practice at first, so you will want to seek a professional trainer at your gym to help you with the form. Front squats require extreme stabilization strength from the abs due to the barbell weight being shifted to the front of the body instead of the back. Even though this is mostly a leg exercise, you'll feel this one in the abs big time!

Mountain climbers are done by starting in a pushup position and then shuffling your feet in and out so that your knees are moving in under your chest and then back out to starting position. It sort of resembles climbing a mountain but flat on the floor. If you want an advanced version, you can also shuffle your hands 8-10 inches forward and backward in addition to the leg movements. This really makes it a full body exercise and MUCH more difficult than standard mountain climbers.

After finishing each exercise, rest about 30 seconds before starting the next exercise. Rest about 1-2 minutes after completing each "tri-set" before repeating.

This will give you one of the best ab workouts you've ever had without even doing any direct ab exercises. You'll see what I mean after you try it!

If you are tired of failing to get visible six pack abs, consider losing the traditional ab exercises and bogus ab gadget machines, and find out the real fat loss for abs truth at Truth About Abs.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Getting Ripped

Here's another article from Mike Geary, creator of The Truth About Abs (the #1 selling fat loss program on this blog).  He explains some of the basic steps to build muscle and build a lean, ripped physique.  I really like Geary's material and I understand why his program has become so popular.  Remember--the key is proper nutrition and training--not supplements and gimmicks.  Here's the article:


Let's face it... building muscle is not the easiest thing to accomplish even despite regular hard workout schedules and trying every type of workout and supplement.

Mike Geary
I struggled for years to gain any significant muscle mass, but over the years in my personal training business and with my own experimentation have found some important things that have helped make significant muscle gains possible even for hardgainers.

So, I'm going to give 3 important tips here so you can start building lean muscle mass faster and easier.

1. Make sure that 95% of the exercises you perform regularly in the gym are big multi-joint compound exercises. It doesn't matter if your goal is fat loss or building muscle... big multi-joint exercises should comprise 95% of the exercises you do in your workouts if you want to get lean, ripped, and powerful.

It's easiest to think of it in terms of the major movement patterns such as these (focus 95% of your workouts on these):

* upper body horizontal press (bench press, pushups, dips),
* upper body horizontal rows (1-arm dumbbell rows, seated cable rows, bent over barbell rows),
* upper body vertical pull (lat pulldowns, pullups, chinups),
* upper body vertical press (overhead dumbbell and barbell presses, barbell or kettlebell clean & presses)
* lower body squatting movements (front squats, back squats, overhead squats, bodyweight squats, etc)
* lower body deadlifting movements (regular deadlifts, sumo deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts)
* lower body single leg movements (lunges, step-ups, jump lunges, etc)
* abdominal and core exercises (these are important, but still are 2nd priority after all of the major upper body and lower body multi-joint movements... your abs and core will be worked from most major multi-joint exercises anyway)

The other 5% of your exercises can focus on single joint exercises (isolation exercises) such as bicep curls, tricep presses, calf presses, shoulder shrugs, shoulder lateral raises, pec flyes, etc, etc. However, these exercises are only accessory exercises to do after the main focus has been the multi-joint drills.

2. Train hard and intensely 3-4 days/week for 45-60 minutes per weight training workout. Keep your workouts to no longer than 60 minutes as training too much beyond this point can trigger excess catabolism. You want to stay anabolic, but you still need to train your body hard and intensely enough to trigger muscle growth.

Try a super-set style of workout program to maximize the intensity that you can train. My favorite combinations are opposing upper and lower body movement patterns that don't interfere with each other, such as squats coupled with pullups as a superset, or bench press coupled with deadlifts as a superset.

Don't underestimate the effectiveness of these types of upper/lower body supersets done with heavy weights and a high intensity. The first time in my life that I experienced significant muscle mass gains were when I started doing these types of workout combos regularly (although still mixing up my training variables).

These are mainstays of almost any effective workout program -- caloric intake can simply be adjusted whether your goal is fat burning or gaining muscle mass.

3. Eat clean with quality whole foods... REAL foods instead of highly processed over-hyped supplement powders and bars.

The quality of protein (and additional nutrition from vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants) are best assimilated by the body from real whole food such as eggs, meats, dairy (preferably raw), fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, etc. instead of from processed protein powders, chemical-laden bars, and meal replacements.

Forget about the hyped up workouts in the muscle mags that only work for pro bodybuilders or people on steroids. Forget about the over-hyped supplement "stacks" that pay the bills for almost every muscle mag... Instead, make these tips in this article part of your lifestyle, and you'll see muscle gains and a leaner, ripped body like you've never seen before!

If you want to get a lean chiseled body, check out these tips to Get Ripped Abs the right way.

Enjoy, and good luck!

Mike Geary
Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Specialist
Author - The Truth about Six Pack Abs

Monday, January 3, 2011

Worst Weight Training Exercises

Here's another article from Jason Ferruggia (author of Muscle Gaining Secrets) on exercise selection.  Some exercises, he argues, should be avoided altogether.  Remember--just because there's a machine in the gym doesn't mean it is effective.  Just because you see someone else doing something also doesn't mean it's effective. 

Weight Training Exercises to Avoid if You Want to Build Muscle Fast
--Jason Ferruggia


When it comes to constructing the ultimate weight training program to build muscle, exercise selection is a very important component. You build muscle fastest with compound weight training exercises. Any bodybuilding program that focuses on machines and isolation weight training exercises is a complete waste of time.

Below are the worst weight training exercises on the planet and should be avoided at all costs if you want to build muscle fast.

1) Smith Machine Squats- Squats are one of the best weight training exercise you can do in order to build muscle fast. Doing them on a Smith machine however, is a huge mistake. Squatting in a Smith machine is very hard on the knees and causes the lifter to develop what is known as a pattern overload syndrome. The smith machine isolates the legs while taking the trunk out of the movement. In a normal free weight squat your lower back and abs must stabilize the weight and every muscle group must work in unison. This is how the body functions, as a unit, never in isolation. This can lead to severe imbalances and injuries.

2) Leg Extensions- Compound weight training exercises are the best muscle building exercises there are. Leg extensions are an isolation movement which do very little to build muscle. This movement also creates shearing forces on the knee and should be avoided at all costs.

3) Abduction/ Adduction machines- This is the one where you sit with your legs spread and strapped into the machine. You perform this weight training exercise by opening up or spreading your legs and then closing them. This is another isolation movement which will do nothing to build muscle. On top of that, you will look like a girl if you do it.

4) Abdominal Crunch Machines- The abs never work in isolation in the real world. In fact, the abs do not ever contract consciously. They contract unconsciously as a way to protect the spine. The abdominal muscles never work without the use of the hip flexors yet these isolation crunch machines are specifically designed to take the hip flexors out of the movement. For these reasons, this is a very ineffective weight training exercise for building muscle.

5) Ab Roller Devices- This apparatus is a version of the aforementioned crunch machines and is another useless piece of equipment. This device takes the neck completely out of the movement which is exactly what you don't want to do. Contracting and or flexing the muscles of the neck during an abdominal crunch is exactly what you want to be doing and is physiologically correct. Another waste of time in the quest to build muscle fast.

Not Recommended
6) Smith Machine Bench Press- The bench press is a great muscle building exercise but doing it in the Smith machine is not a good idea. Much like the Smith Machine Squat, this exercise will cause you to develop a pattern overload and will lead to injury. Pressing on the Smith Machine isolates the pressing muscles and completely eliminates the use of the stabilizer muscles, such as the rotator cuff. This will lead to imbalances that can transfer to serious shoulder injuries. You can’t build muscle when you are injured.

7) Bench Dips- This is another weight training exercise that I did for many years and now regret. I routinely did this exercise with four 45 pound plates on my lap. Little did I realize at the time that bench dips put your shoulder in a very dangerous position and can eventually lead to serious problems. While this exercise is useful in building muscle it is also dangerous. If shoulder safety is a concern I recommend that you avoid this exercise and stick with parallel bar dips for building muscle.

8) Concentration Curls- When it comes to weight training and building muscle, everybody’s favorite bodypart is biceps. Chin ups and barbell curls are the best weigth training exercises for building huge biceps. Concentration curls are not. This is a pure isolation movement which supposedly puts a "peak" on your biceps. The only problem with that is the fact that it is physiologically impossible to peak your biceps. Muscles grow evenly along the entire length of the tissue from origin to insertion. When looking at the effectiveness of an exercise one of the key determinants in the results that it may produce is the amount of weight that can be lifted. In a concentration curl it is very difficult to lift a great deal of weight and thus it renders the movement ineffective. If you want to build huge biceps, avoid concentration calls.

9) Bench Press to the Neck- This was a big favorite muscle building exercise of Larry Scott and Vince Gironda. It was supposedly a great muscle building exercise for the upper or clavicular pectoral muscles. The problem with this movement is that it will absolutely destroy the shoulders and can easily lead to a pec tear. This is one movement that you should stay very far away from in your quest to build muscle fast.

10) Old School Pec Dec-This is the supposed muscle building exercise machine which has you bend your arms ninety degrees while externally rotating. You place your arms on the pads and then proceed to bring the pads together in front of your body. This is not only dangerous for the shoulder but is absolutely useless and will not build muscle at all.

11) Knee Break Squats- As mentioned earlier, the squat is the best weight training exercise there is for building muscle. Some trainers and coaches have advocated initiating a squat by first breaking at the knees rather than the hips in an effort to put more stress on the quadriceps muscles. The problem is that this also puts unnecessary stress on the knees and severely limits the amount of weight that can be lifted. Squats should be initiated by first breaking at the hips and sitting back and down, not by breaking at the knees and pushing your knees forward as you descend.

These weight training exercises are listed in no particular order. Unfortunately there are many other weight training exercises that are performed on a routine basis by many lifters that are also useless and dangerous. Those listed above just so happen to be the worst. If a weight training exercise causes pain, you should always avoid it. If a weight training exercise is supposed to target a certain muscle group in isolation and requires you to use extremely light weights it is usually best avoided. The exception to this rule would be prehab and rehab type exercises such as external rotation exercises for the rotator cuff.

Train hard, train smart and focus on the big, basic, compound weight training exercises and you will build muscle fast.

Jason Ferruggia is a world famous fitness expert who is renowned for his ability to help people build muscle fast. He is the head training advisor for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building. For more great muscle building information, please visit Muscle Gaining Secrets

You can read my review of his program here:
Muscle Gaining Secrets Review