5 Reasons to Get 30 Minutes Of Exercise at Least 3 Times a Week

I WAS RUNNING!

I WAS RUNNING!

So, my good friend Ali (3rd year med student at Emory) took offense to my blog yesterday that dissed straight cardio and running.  Also a little known fact: don’t ever call it “jogging” in front of a runner, because they will rip you a new a-hole.  As a future doctor and marathon runner, I guess she knows what she’s talking about, so I amended the post to be less one-sided and more informative.  She also brought up a good point when it comes to medical articles and fitness articles; you shoud always check your sources, and the sources of the authors.  Even though MSN reported on something, not citing their source could mean that the study hasn’t been published yet, had unusual results, or all the facts simply weren’t published.

Thank you Ali.  In her defense of cardio, she has come up with the five best reasons why you should be doing 20-30 minutes of cardio (even just straight running) at least 3 times a week.  See, my last blog was biased because running bores me.  However, for others it’s a great way to start your day, get away from reality for 30 minutes, and stay in shape.  Without further ado, here are those reasons!

1.  Running really is one of the most efficient ways to burn calories, both time-wise and money-wise. You burn approx 100 calories per mile (regardless of pace) AND all you need is a good pair of shoes, no other equipment of gym membership necessary.  The basis of weight loss involves expending more calories than you absorb.  Each mile gets you closer to a better body!

2. Reduced risk of cardiac disease Nobody likes heart disease, especially your heart.  Why not have a healthy heart, and live far longer, spend less time in the hospital, and don’t spend nearly as much money on health care?  If you want the boring proof on this, here is your article.

3.  Running gets you high. Running causes some pain, which causes endorphins to be released.  Endorphins activate the same chemical receptors as morphine (and heroin),  so you get a little high, and it makes you happy.  Plus, you don’t have to deal with the whole extremely drug-addiction, arrest thing…so you got that going for you, which is nice.  You’ll also have more energy which will allow you to concentrate better during those marathon sessions in WoW.

4.  Running is a weight-bearing exercise, so it promotes bone growth. This is especially important for women.  Stronger bones = happy bones = happy people.

5.  Improving cardiovascular health (making your heart stronger, lowering blood pressure, etc.) will improve your endurance for OTHER exercises, like hopscotch and twister.  Wait, what exercises did you think we were talking about?  Pull your head out of the gutter! (but yes, it will help there too).

So there you have it, from the mouth of a marathon-running doctor-in-the-making.  Even though there are millions of diet pills, stupid ab machines, and “NEW” workout plans that will make you lose weight faster than anything in the past…it’s all crap.  What it comes down to is a consisten diet, burning more calories than you eat, and getting 20-30 minutes of raised-heart rate activity at least 3 times a week.  Between yesterday’s blog and today’s blog, hopefully you see that these options are all variations on the same theme.   Whatever you decide to do, DO IT, and stick to it.

Check back tomorrow for an interview with my friend Saint, a software developer who has lost 24 pounds (and counting) over the past 9 weeks.

-Steve

NPD: Wii Fit sells record-setting 777K in January – News at GameSpot

Work those glutes!

Work those glutes!

Looks like Nintendo’s little balance board is continuing to kick ass.

“Reporting on US software, hardware, and accessory sales today, the NPD Group revealed that industry revenues stood at $1.33 billion for January, a 13 percent climb from a year prior.  Falling in line with analysts’ expectations, US software sales amounted to $676.6 million in January, a 10 percent increase over last January’s $614.7 million haul. And as expected, Nintendo’s Wii Fit absolutely clobbered the competition. The Balance Board-equipped fitness training game sold 777,000 units for the month, a figure that sets a new record for the most single-SKU sales in January.”

via NPD: Wii Fit sells record-setting 777K in January – News at GameSpot.

Holy crap that’s a lot of Wii-Fits.  Can you say “NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION?” I guess if there’s gonna be one game that will break records for a normally slow month, it might as well be a health related video game.  I’m just glad to see so many people are making the effort to get in shape.  Hopefully other companies are taking notice of these sales and developing interesting ways to use the board in their games…Electronic Arts I’m looking in your direction..cough..SSX.

-Steve

And Now for Something Completely Different

And now, for something completely different: I’ve watched this video at least 30 times in the past two days, and I’ve hurt my chest from laughing every single time. It actually gets funnier with each viewing. Can anybody tell what he’s saying (and in what language) before he goes horizontal?

-Steve

Protein and Tetris – Building Blocks of Muscle Development

Complete that sucka!

Complete that sucka!

Protein is the long 4-block piece in Tetris. “WTF does that mean” you ask.  Luckily, I have the rest of this blog to explain it to you.  Let’s get the quick science-y crap out of the way first: Proteins are made up of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen.  Amino acids (which have nitrogen in them) are molecules that exist in the human body.  Your body can create 11 of those Amino acids naturally in its system (pat yourself on the back).  However, there are nine others that your body can’t make (you slacker), so you need to get them through your diet.

Still awake?  Good, now back to the videogame talk: think back to tetris: all the different shapes are different kinds of protein.  Weeeeeeeeeeee!  Some are the kinds that your body make, and some are the kinds that you get through your diet.  Every time you clear a line, your score goes up and your muscles get rebuilt.  When you work out, your muscles are broken down and over the next 48 hours they’re slowly rebuilt just a little bit stronger.   Sure your body can rebuild them naturally (like slowly clearing one line after another in the game), but when you throw some protein from your diet in there, BAM! 4 line Tetris – big score, faster muscle recovery and growth!  Certain proteins are higher quality (the straight Tetris pieces) while others are lower quality (think the squares – they clear lines, but they’re less efficient in the process).  Let’s find out which pieces are which:

High Quality Protein (the long pieces) – these are complete proteins, and the most efficient

Eggs – now you know why Rock drank raw eggs – I wouldn’t recommend that though.

Fish – tuna especially…unfortunately I hate tuna.

Poultry – Chicken! Lots of chicken.

Meat – lean ground beef is a favorite of mine, great for burgers or in spaghetti sauce.

Dairy – those milk ads were onto something…

Lower quality proteins (square pieces) –

Grains – if you don’t know what grains are, then we have a lot to work to do.

Legumes – beans, lentils, lupins, peas, and peanuts

Vegetables – if it’s green, it’s probably good for you…unless it’s ecto-cooler.  Remember that stuff?

Let’s talk about when you should be eating protein. Whether you’re trying to gain weight or lose weight, protein needs to be a major component of your daily diet.  Like I said earlier, when you work out your muscles are broken down, and over the next 24-48 hours they’re rebuilt.  Don’t waste your time working out unless you’re going to fill your body with high-quality protein immediately afterward, and then on a regular basis for the next 48 hours.  Most people don’t realize this, but all of your gains and success in the gym comes when you’re NOT working out.  Unfortunately, I didn’t learn this until after spending 4 years in a gym unsuccessfully trying to put on muscle mass (I’m a jackass).  Once I figured it out, I bulked right up.

Let’s use another analogy: if your body is a mason, you have to provide it with materials constantly throughout the day or it will run out of stuff to do and stop working.  Try to spread that protein intake out evenly through the day by having some with each meal (breakfast especially – your body has been without food for 8-9 hours at that point).  You should try to get at least 20-30% of your daily diet from protein.  If you’re eating 1800 calories…that means you should be eating 90 grams of protein a day or more.  For you skinny nerds looking to build muscle mass, you should be eating close to a gram of protein per pound of body weight, spread out evenly for every three hours you’re awake.  Yeah, it’s a lot of protein, and a lot of eating, but that’s what needs to be done.

Look at that list of protein guys and gals, and memorize it.  Learn to love the food there, because it will become a huge part of your diet, and an even bigger reason why you’ll be in shape.  I know it’s tough to get that much protein in your diet all the time, which is where protein shakes and protein powders come in.  I’ll be writing a blog soon on what protein supplements are legit and which ones are useless.  For now, just try to stick with regular “whey protein” supplements that don’t have anything else in them except that.  Mix with low-fat milk for a double protein boost!

-Steve

4 Reasons Why You Should Eat Breakfast

Note: since writing this article FIVE years ago, my thoughts on breakfast have changed, which you can read about here.  

I’m leaving this article up to show the growth and change in my philosophy over the past five years.

“Growing up, your mom told you that breakfast was the most important meal of the day.  She also told you that those sweat pants you wore in 7th grade were cool too, so you don’t know WHAT do believe anymore.  That’s where Nerd Fitness comes in.  I’m going to give you the low-down on breakfast, and find out if it’s the real deal or if Count Chocula and Tony the Tiger are full of crap.

Nearly everybody I know who is in shape eats breakfast.   Nearly everybody I know who is out of shape and overweight doesn’t eat breakfast.  Seems counter-intuitive, I know – if somebody is overweight, then skipping one of the three meals a day should help them, right?  Wrong, and here’s five reasons why:

1) When you skip breakfast, you end up getting so hungry by the time lunch rolls around that you could overeat and often eat unhealthily. If you wake up, and eat a good breakfast, you won’t be so starved by noon and you can think with a clear head, “hmmm, maybe four Big Macs is a bad idea.”  People that eat breakfasts are more likely to make more healthy choices throughout the day, because they’re not completely preoccupied all morning with thoughts of food.  You’ll also be less likely to reach for the donuts your cubicle neighbor brought to work.  Stay away from the bearclaw!

2) Breakfast gives you energy for the morning. You know when you get to your desk in the morning, you’re all Grumpelstilskin and Crankenstein, and by 9:15 you already need to run to Chachski’s for a coffee break?  Well, when you eat breakfast, you’ll have more energy, a better attention span, and you won’t “space out” nearly as much.  Still feel free to use the side door, however, when you come in 15 minutes late.

3) You’ll be less likely to do something stupid for dinner and late at night. When you skip breakfast, you tend to overeat for lunch and dinner and all that extra food gets stored as fat on your body.  You know that old saying, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper?”  Yeah, me neither.  But still, I’m pretty sure that is a saying, and there is truth behind it.  People who stuff their face right before bed are pretty much sending every one of those calories straight to their asses while sleeping.  If you eat a big healthy breakfast, your appetite will be curbed throughout the day and you’ll be far less likely to eat that pint of Chunky Monkey before bed.

4) Because Timer said so:

Timer the Creep tells you to eat breakfast.

Later on this month I’ll be posting an interview with my friend Saint, my first official client for Nerd Fitness, who has already lost 23 lbs in the past 9 weeks.  One of his biggest changes?  He now eats breakfast EVERY DAY.  So children, what are you going to do tomorrow?  That’s right: wake your ass up 10 minutes earlier and eat breakfast.  Check back Wednesday to see what’s the best stuff to eat and the stuff to avoid.

Looks like your mom was right about breakfast after all…she was definitely way off on the sweatpants though.  Come on man.

-Steve

Updates

Hey everybody,

I was hoping to be able to get some more blogs up this week, but my day job is keeping me way too busy.  I’m currently out to sea on Ships N’ Dip V, so regular updates and blogs will resume next week.  Take care and stay busy!

-Steve

What the Eff is an Electrolyte? Is Gatorade the Real Deal?

She drinks gatorade, should you?

She drinks gatorade, should you?

Everybody loves Gatorade, so let’s talk about if it’s fluff or it’s actually good for you.

All you hear about is “rehydrate” this, and “electrolyte” that…is it fo real?   Your body has a balance, and has “ionic solutions”(boring term, don’t worry about it) called electrolytes that keep your body, muscles, and nerves functioning properly.  Your kidneys exist to help keep your body in balance by regulating the fluids and electrolytes in your body.  Your kidneys make pee–they basically filter your blood so you can get rid of waste products like urea and ammonia.  When you are dehydrated, your kidneys make your pee as concentrated as possible to keep water in the body.  When you are well hydrated, your kidneys let more water leave with the waste.  Now, there’s all kinds of electrolytes, but the most important ones are: Sodium, chloride, potassium, bicarbonate, calcium, and phosphate. Your kidneys have specific transporters to regulate the concentration of each of these electrolytes in your blood.

When you work out, you sweat (yup, four years of college taught me that).  When you sweat, you lose fluids and electrolytes – especially sodium and chloride (which is why your sweat tastes salty…stop tasting your sweat you creep).  Now, when you’re lacking fluids and electrolytes, your muscles suffer and your performance suffers.  Can’t be having performance issues can we now?

Let’s talk about why Gatorade (or any sports drink–they’re all about the same) works.  Water will get into your blood stream faster (and to the right places) when it’s part of Gatorade because water follows electrolytes.  Gatorade has electrolytes: your body soaks up these electrolytes quicker because your electrolytes are depleted from exercise, and they soak up the water right along with it.  Regular water works just fine too, it just doesn’t get absorbed as quickly.

Gatorade has a good amount of sodium and glucose (sugar).  Do you love your small intestines?  Well, your small intestines love glucose, so get over it.  The little transporters in your small intestines pick up that glucose, and in turn pick up the sodium.  If they ‘re picking up glucose and they’re picking up sodium, they’re also grabbing the H20, and you’re getting rehydrated faster.  Win win win!

One last reason why your body loves Gatorade is because sodium minimizes urination.  (Remember osmosis from high school chemistry?  Water goes where the salt is!)  When you’re drinking Gatorade, the liquid will stay in your body longer, giving it more time to get absorbed, which will get you back into balance quicker!

So I realize this post reads like an ad for Gatorade.  Pay no attention to the bag of money left for me in the corner.  All this talk about how great Gatorade is as getting you rehydrated quicker will REALLY only affect you if you’re doing hours and hours of strenuous activity.  If you’re just working out for 45 minutes, drinking water throughout the workout and afterwards will keep you plenty hydrated.  Now, if you’re running a marathon, Gatorade is a good idea.  You know what isn’t a good idea? Bourbon.

Gatorade vs. Water? Really, just make sure you’re drinking one of them.  Gatorade tastes better, and has some calories and electrolytes, so it’s more likely to get you to drink it while working your ass off to stay in shape.  Just don’t sit on your couch eating donuts and drinking Gatorade, because the sugar will go straight to your ass.  Sure, you can be “a thirsty dude (R.I.P. Mitch),” but the sugar really won’t help you unless you’re exercising like crazy.  If you’re looking to burn fat, drinking a 32 oz Gatorade will probably put back all the calories you just burned in your workout (there’s about 200-240 calories in there).

On a final note, and a tip that will be greatly expanded upon in the future, Gatorade is great for hangovers.  When you wake up after a night of drinking, and your pee looks is the color of Mountain Dew, it’s because your body is severely dehydrated.  Pale yellow pee?  You’re right on track.  Bright or dark yellow pee?  Make a few more trips to the water cooler.  Any other color of the rainbow?  RUN to the doctor (Thanks Ali).  Gatorade will get your body out of its funk quicker than water, and return it to levels of proper hydration, so try to keep one in the fridge before you head off to the bars on Friday…or play drinking games with your buddies while watching Arrested Development.

-Steve

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Star Wars – Retold By Somebody Who’s Never Actually Seen It

I cam across this video the other day on the Nerdist, and I had to post it.  All the credit in the world goes to www.fishrockit.com, the guy who actually created the video.   Just watch the three minute video and laugh your ass off.


Star Wars: Retold (by someone who hasn’t seen it) from Joe Nicolosi on Vimeo.

Happy Friday afternoon everybody!  Next week the posts will be pretty infrequent, although I’ll try to write as many as I can before heading out to sea on Ships N’ Dip V.

-Steve

Wiimote Weights WTF?

Thanks to a company called RiiFlex, you’ll soon be able to lift weights while playing WiiFit and other videogames on the Wii.  Unfortunately, they’re on back order right now, so you’ll have to email them to pre-order your set when they become available.  What’s cool is that none of the buttons are covered up, and you can still attach a nunchuck as well.  They come in 2lb and 5lb increments.

Interesting concept…I bet your arms would get freaking exhausted after an 8 hour session with Madden 09 or playing 36 holes in Tiger Woods Golf.

-Steve

PS Wow how crazy was LOST last night?  So many cool moments, and so many head scratching moments too.

French Fries – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

french_friesI like french fries.

There I said it.  I also know that they’re FREAKING TERRIBLE for you.  Today I came across this article on Yahoo talking about which fast food fry is the worst for you.

They looked at seven kinds of french fries and compared them to one another.  For whatever reason, they neglected to include waffle fries from Chik-fil-A (blasphemy) for us Southerners and In-N-Out fries for you West Coasters, so I did my own research to find out where on the spectrum they fit in.  You can’t leave out those two and call it “research.”  Southerners and West Coast peeps, you with me?

I went ahead and broke down the each fast food stop into an excel file which you can see here.  The main columns to pay attention to are Serving Size (which differs BIG TIME between restaurants), and total calories per gram.  I highlighted the eye-opening numbers in yellow.

picture-1

Here’s your best and worst:

Calories:

The Best

In terms of total number of calories, the winers are Chik-Fil-A and and In-N-Out. Now, notice I said total calories…that just means their serving sizes are much smaller than the competition.  If you see all the way in the right colum, these two companies are towards the bottom in terms of calories per gram.

The Worst

DING DING DING.  Carl’s Jr, for both their regular fries and chili cheese fries.  Holy crap.  One serving of chili cheese fries is 1010 calories!  Let this be a lesson to you, know matter how good it sounds, when you take something that’s bad for you already, and THEN add chili and cheese, you’re just asking for your arteries to say “I quit.”

In terms of Calories per gram, your best is Dairy Queen and Jack in the Box (However, Jack in the Box has one of the largest serving sizes and the most trans fat, so be careful).  Once again, bringing up the rear…Carl’s Jr! Really a banner day for you Carl, Carl Sr. must be so proud.  The amount of sodium in these things  is enough to turn you into salt water, and each gram is so action packed with calories that your heart might just refuse to pump if you put these fries inside of you.

Now children, what did we learn today? French Fries are bad for you, but some are far worse than others.  You might say “but they’re so good, how can I avoid them?”  Well, your best bet is to avoid fast food all together, because your options are usually limited.  If you have to eat fast food, or you’re going crazy for your one day a week of “eat whatever I want,” there is still hope yet.  And as Andy Dufresne has taught us, “hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.”  These fast food joints are starting to smarten up and are offering healthier alternatives.  If you need to eat fries, order a small, and go please easy on the salt.  Your body will thank you for it.

AND FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, avoid Carl’s Jr. like the plague.

-Steve

Frequency of Posts

Hey guys!

Just wanted to give you a quick update. Unfortunately, due to my crazy day job for the next two months, I won’t be able to post as frequently as I’d like. Beginning on Saturday, I’ll be headed to Miami to cruise with the Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan on Ships and Dip V. Two more cruises in March will keep me even more occupied: Cayamo and the Mayercraft Carrier…not that I’m complaining, because it’s seriously the best job in the world.

Fear not! Once beginning in April, expect at least three posts a week and hopefully more.

Thanks for your patience,

Steve

Interval Training – Kick Your Ass and Kickstart your Metabolism in 20 Minutes

I have a confession to make.

Unlike this awesome dog here, I’m not a fan of running.

I used to run cross country in high school, and I’ve tried to get excited about running about a dozen times since then.  After reading Born to Run, a fantastic book, about running, I even had myself convinced that I was going to LOVE running.  Every time I get started, about ten minutes into my run, I just get bored as hell!  I know some people love running, it makes them feel good, and it’s their primary form of exercise – I’m happy for you (and the info here will help you too!)

I’m here to tell you that if you don’t like running, you don’t need to be spending hours a day on a treadmill or out jogging around your neighborhood to lose weight. In fact, those hours of running could actually be causing you a litany of healthy issues that I can help you avoid.  There’s a type of advanced training that not only burns calories more efficiently than straight cardio, but it can also increase your aerobic breathing capacity MORE than straight cardio while also increasing your a capacity for max sprinting ability.

(warning – interval training shouldn’t be done by people who haven’t exercised before.  You should be in somewhat decent shape before attempting interval training).

What do I have against cardio?

Other than being boring, I find steady cardio to be highly inefficient: I simply don’t have time to go out for runs that last longer than hour.  Not only that, but I always found myself getting injured (shin splints like whoa) or sick when running long distances over a long period of time.  Rather than go into the remaining reasons why I don’t like cardio, I’ll hand the reins over to Mark from Mark’s Daily Apple, who presents the best argument I’ve ever read on the subject – A case against cardio (from a former mileage king.

Now, if you LOVE running and think I’m an ass for even suggesting that running isn’t the greatest thing ever, this article will still provide you with some solid information, I promise.  If you have no interest in running but still want to burn calories and get in shape efficiently, maybe today’s Interval Training post will get you started down the right path.

What’s Interval Training?

Interval training is when you vary your speeds and intensity throughout a shorter run. So, you might jog for three minutes, and then push yourself hard for a minute, repeating this cycle for a certain amount of time (usually around 20 total minutes).

This type of training not only burns calories and builds up your oxygen capacity while exercising, but it can also produce an ‘afterburn’ affect
that can leave your metabolism operating at a higher level of efficiency for hours and hours and hours after you’re done exercising.

This means you’re burning calories while you’re sitting on your butt watching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia reruns on Comedy Central.

Why interval training?

Your heart is a muscle: if you keep it beating at a constant rate, never expanding it outside of its comfort zone, it will never grow.   If you do 100 benchpresses with 10 pounds and don’t feel it, your chest will never develop.  Same thing with your heart…if it’s not feeling the exertion, it doesn’t have to work harder, and nothing has changed.  However, when you throw some intervals in there, your heart will have to work harder, pump more blood, and work harder to return to normal levels.  Have a high stress job?  Wouldn’t you rather have  a heart that is used to rapid changes in blood pressure and needs?  That’s the kind of heart I want.

Interval training promotes a healthier physique.  I know this is pretty superficial, but who doesn’t want to look good?  Compare the best sprinters in the world to the best marathon runners in the world – which would you rather look like?  One is super muscular, built for speed, and looks like he could outrun a cheetah at a moment’s notice…while the other looks like a stiff breeze might blow him over.  Obviously there’s more too it than just sprints vs. distance – weight training also plays a HUGE rule.  However, it’s a lot easier to get weight training in when you don’t have to run for 2-3 hours a day.

Interval training improves both your aerobic and anaerobic capacity. As referenced in this post from Mark’s Daily Apple, Dr. Tabata’s “famous study on moderate and high-intensity interval training helped legitimize a movement – away from chronic cardio and toward high-intensity workouts. This studies showed that high-intensity intermittent training actually improves both anaerobic (intensity and muscle building) and aerobic (slower, oxygen consuming) body systems, while aerobic exercise only improves aerobic systems.”  Two for one!

note: Tabata training is highly advanced – you’ll still see similar results with interval training compared to Tabata training, but perhaps not to that extreme.

How to interval train

Let’s take you through a sample running guide for interval training.

Three  days a week of running is sufficient – if it’s done right, your body will need 48 hours to recover between exercises, and actually burn fat on your off days, when you’re sitting at your computer or playing videogames.

This will be your routine for three weeks:

  • 5 minutes of warmup...light walking, bump the speed up a little bit to get your legs warmed up…then stretch.  Don’t stretch until you’ve warmed up.  Think of your muscles like rubber bands…you quickly pull a rubber band that hasn’t been used yet and it’ll snap.  Warm it up, get it used to activity, then stretch it, and you’re golden.
  • 30 seconds of increased pace (70% of maximum effort)… 2 minutes of decreased pace.
  • 30 seconds of increased pace (75% of maximum effort)… 2 minutes of decreased pace.
  • 30 seconds of increased pace (80% of maximum effort)… 2 minutes of decreased pace.
  • 30 seconds of increased pace (85% of maximum effort)… 2 minutes of decreased pace.
  • 30 seconds of increased pace (90% of maximum effort)… 2 minutes of decreased pace.
  • 30 seconds of increased pace (100% of maximum effort)..2 minutes of decreased pace.
  • 5 minutes of light jogging and stretching. When you stretch afterwards, your muscles expand, allowing the nutrients you’re about to eat to fill in the gaps that are now empty from exercise.  Also, it keeps your muscles loose, so there’s a far less chance for injury.

Now, because this is your first time doing intervals…it might be tough to get through the routine.  If it is, concentrate on doing the intervals as strongly as possible (really push yourself on those 30 seconds fast sections)…and if you can only get through 3 or 4 intervals, stop there.  The next time, aim for 5 intervals, then 6, then 7.

The reason I don’t tell you how fast to run for either, is because it’s different for each person.  If you’re really out of shape, your 90 seconds might be walking, and your 30 seconds might be jogging.  If you are in shape, your 90 seconds might be jogging and your 30 seconds might be sprinting.

You should be close to death by the time you complete this cycle…okay maybe not that bad, but you should be dripping in sweat.   If you’re not, then you were faking it, and you’re only screwing with yourself.

Applying interval training to things beyond running

If you’re on a treadmill, running intervals becomes slightly more difficult. Most of them have an “interval setting.”  If not, you’re going to want to aim to set the speed in your down time to something safe, and be CAREFUL on setting your top end speed.  If it’s too quick, you’ll end up looking like Bam on Jackass shooting yourself off the thing into the wall.  Make sure you have a camera on hand in case this happens.

If you’re on a exercise bike, even better.  just try to really really push yourself on that 30 second segment, whether its with increased speed and/or resistance.

Now, this is only 15 minutes of heavy exercise, and when you think about it…it’s really only three minutes of HEAVY exercise.  Add in another 5 minutes of cool down, walking/jogging slowly..so 25 minutes total.  After two weeks at this routine, cut your “decreased effort” time down from 2 minutes to 90 seconds.

-Steve

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photo

How I gained 18 lbs in 30 days

I had been skinny my whole life. I later found out they call people like me “Hard Gainers.”

My Sophomore year of high school, I was 5 feet tall and weighed less than 140 lbs.  I hit a huge growth spurt during my Junior year, and by the time the year was done I was close to 6 feet tall…and I probably weighed 150 lbs.

Looking to bulk up, I began hitting up the gym three times a week.  When I got to college, I enjoyed the All-You-Can-Eat freshman meal plan, worked out 3-4 days a week, and failed to put on more than 5 lbs.  After four years of college, many different workout plans, and eating the right stuff (or so I thought), I had managed to get all the way up to 160 lbs! Woohoo.  I was still skinny as a rail.

After college, I moved out to San Diego, and really got serious about trying to build lean muscle.  I figured if I was going to spend all this time in the gym, I should be getting results out of it!  I had a new workout plan, a new diet, and a new outlook on life.  I very quickly learned that 80% of my problem revolved around the diet.

I simply wasn’t eating enough…all the protein shakes in the world couldn’t help me, because my metabolism burned through that protein before it could be used to build muscle.  Because I was so active (running, surfing, basketball) my body never had enough nutrients to bulk up.  Well, I made a conscious effort to change my entire routine, and within 30 days, I managed to put on 18 lbs!

Note: I wrote this article back in 2009, about a diet I followed in 2007. Now many years later, I would not recommend this style of consumption, and I cover how to get bigger in a safer manner in this article

A good portion of the weight I put on was fat, and due to the creatine in the supplement I was taking I also had plenty of extra water weight, meaning not many of the 18 pounds were 100% muscle.  I would have certainly rather gained all muscle, but it’s practically inevitable when trying to put on big amounts of weight in a short amount of time that some of the weight gained will be fat, which is okay.  After four years in college of struggling to gain any weight, I was more than okay with a few pounds of fat along with muscle in this short time span.

Before:

August 28, 2006 - Me Before Hitting The gym

August 28, 2006 – Me Before Hitting The gym – 162 lbs

After:

September 28, 2006 - AFTER - 180 lbs.

September 28, 2006 – AFTER – 180 lbs.

For those of you looking to kick start your body into crazy growth, I’ll detail exactly what I did for a routine and diet. This was accomplished many years ago, and since then I’ve become more knowledgeable.  This is just a “diary” of sorts to what I did exactly to go from 162 lbs to 180 lbs in 30 days.  Now that I’m older and wiser, I would recommend a healthier approach.

So, keep reading at your own risk for my exact diet and exercise routine. 

Please note: this is one of the first articles I wrote for Nerd Fitness, and I would recommend a healthier diet and exercise routine to any future clients. 

Please check out this article or the Rebel Strength Guide if you have any interest in putting on weight the right way.

Diet

I am a picky eater.  I don’t like eggs. I don’t like fish.  This means my options for protein are severely limited, as these two sources are the best in the business.  Because protein is the building block of muscle gain, it is an absolute necessity.  I knew  I needed to eat at least 30 grams of protein every 3 hours.  I ate 6 times a day, so I had at least 180 grams of protein every day.  Yeah, this is a lot of protein.  It works.

However, all the protein in the world won’t help a skinny man unless he eats complex carbs and healthy fats for energy.  Without these things, the body will break down the protein for energy…and no muscle will get built.

Here is my normal routine.  I didn’t change much, because I’m a creature of habit.  The more of a routine you can get on, the better your body can process it, the more efficient you will be.  Also note, I was working a job 5 days a week where I had to be at the office at 6:30AM, hence the early start time.  For the rest of you, just adjust the time to whenever you wake up.  NEVER SKIP BREAKFAST!

6:00 AM (Meal 1)

Two cups of 1% Milk (200 calories, 24g carbs, 16g of protein)

4 Scoops of Muscle Milk Collegiate Edition ( 580 calories per serving, 40g of protein, 89 grams of carbs…it’s not the best thing for you, however, when you need INSANE amounts of calories very quickly and cheaply, you have to do what you can)

9:00 AM (Meal 2)

Met-RX Big 100 Colossal Bar – Super Cookie Crunch (420 calories, 32 grams of protein, 43 grams of carbs. It’s the calories, protein, and carbs that I needed).  Working my job didn’t give me access to a kitchen, and I couldn’t take lengthy breaks, so I had to find ways to eat a lot of calories quickly and easily.

12:00 PM (Meal 3)

Spaghetti and Meat Sauce (Angel Hair Pasta, Prego Sauce, A LOT of Ground Beef – calories, protein, carbs…sensing a trend here?)

3:00 PM (Meal 4)

Two peanut butter sandwiches on wheat bread (decent amount of calories and carbs, 20 grams of protein)

4:30 PM -Workout, Surf, or Relax, depending on the day

6:00 PM (Meal 5)

Two cups of 1% Milk

4 Scoops of Muscle Milk Collegiate Edition ( 580 calories per serving, 40g of protein, 89 grams of carbs) Tons of carbs and protein again, IMMEDIATELY following my workout. This is when you need it the most…your muscles are destroyed, and they need to be rebuilt.  Your body is tired, it needs to be refueled.  The carbs will refuel the body, the protein will rebuild the muscles.  Everybody is happy!

9:00 PM (Meal 6)

Two 90% lean ground beef hamburgers cooked on the George Foreman Grill, and a BIG glass of milk.  Protein and carbs before bed.  When you sleep, your body isn’t expending energy, so it can use those nutrients to just build muscle.  Note, if you eat like I did, and don’t work out, you WILL get fat.  When you constantly exercise, your body will need all the nutrients it can get to get bigger and stronger.

As you can see, I drink a LOT of whole milk.

I’d say the most important meals are Breakfast (you spent all night using the previous night’s meal to rebuild muscle…breakfast will get the body started on the same path.  Plus, at this point you won’t have eaten for 7 hours), the post workout meal (this is when your muscles are broke down and desparate for nutrients), and right before bed (when you sleep, it’s prime muscle building time!)

Workout

This workout is not for a beginner.  In fact, looking back on my routine, I think it was far too complex and could have been done much easier (just concentrating on presses, squats, deadlifts, pull ups, and chin ups).

Now, if you are going to attempt a workout like this, I fully recommend training with a partner, or having a personal trainer to help you out.  You build the most lean muscle and are most efficient when you are taking each exercise  to the verge of muscular exhaustion (where your muscles literally cannot do one more thing).

Obviously, attempting this with squats, dead lifts, and bench presses is EXTREMELY dangerous unless you have somebody to spot you, help you complete the final rep. etc.

Secondly, I did a LOT of Supersets.  A superset is a time saving device in many cases, and in my cases, it was used to develop my muscles more completely.  Here is wikipedia’s explanation on supersets.  When you read my exercise log, look at each exercise, and see what it’s superset with.

For example, I superset a normal bench press exercise with push ups on an exercise ball.  This means, I will do a set of bench press, followed IMMEDIATELY by 10 push ups on an exercise ball.  Because you’re already worn out, and doing this exercise on a ball, it will be difficult to stay in balance…you’ll feel a lot of twitching in your chest as you try to do those push ups.  This is because your chest has to use every little tiny stablizer muscle to stay in balance.

These exercises will solidify each muscle, and help promote strong healthy growth.  After the 10 pushups, I would wait approximately 2-3 minutes between restarting the “circuit” with the next set of bench presses.

Looking back, with a few years of fitness experience under my belt, I’d simplify this routine considerably, chopping out some of the supersets as they seem like overkill and my muscles were getting beyond overworked I think.  Still, I’ve reproduced the exact routine I followed for those 30 days just to show you what I did exactly to get the results I did.

Monday (Chest and Biceps)

  • 1) 5 Min Treadmill Warm up – jumping jacks, other exercises to get the body warmed up.
  • 2) Bench Press – 1 warm up set, 3 sets – 10 reps, 8 reps, 6 reps – increasing weight by 10 lbs each time.  Aim for exhaution on each set.
  • Superset the Bench Press with pushups (3 sets of 10 reps) on an exercise ball – up and down slowly (works your stablizer muscles)
  • 3) Barbell bicep curl – 1 warm up set, 3 sets (10, 8, 6) – increasing weight
  • Superset with Dumbell hammer curls standing on one leg (3 sets of 10 reps, light weight) – again, for stability.
  • 4) Incline Bench – Dumbell Press (3 sets, 10, 10, to exhaustion) – same weight for the first 2 sets, 80% weight on third set, go until you can’t do anymore.
  • Superset Incline Bench dumbell presses with dumbell flys on an exercise ball.
  • 5) Incline Dumbell Bicep Curl 3 Sets (12, 10, 8 )
  • Superset with one legged rope curl (3 sets of 10)
  • 6) Core Exercises (v-sit ups, superman extensions, side planks, etc.) and STRETCH, especially the two muscle groups you just worked out…they’re all broken down and contracted…stretching them out will allow them to breathe, and get started more quickly on the road to recovery (and increased size).

Tuesday (Shoulders and Legs)

  • 1) 5 Min Treadmill Warm-up
  • 2) Squats – 1 Warm Up set, 3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps
  • Supset the squats with 1-leg Romanian dead lift with dumbell.  Hold the weight in the same hand as the leg that’s still on the ground (right hand, right foot on ground).  Do one side, then other – left hand, left foot on ground
  • 3)Shoulder press – Dumbells (1 warm up set, 3 sets of 10, 8, 6)
  • Superset with side lateral dumbell raises (3 sets of 10), do this on one foot
  • 4) Lunges – Dumbells on each side 3 sets of 12, 8, 6 reps
  • Superset with one-legged body weight squats.  I never knew how hard you could work yourself without weights until these exercises…BRUTAL.
  • 5) Front shoulder dumbell raises (3 sets 10, 8, 6 reps)
  • Superset with back shoulder raises 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Stretch, v sit ups, supermans, leg raises.

Wednesday – Surf, Run, REST

Thursday – Back and Triceps

  • 1) 5 Min Treadmill Warm Up
  • 2) Deadlift – 1 warm-up set, 3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps
  • 3) Close grip bench press – 1 warm-up set, 3 sets of 10, 8, 6 reps
  • Superset with Dumbell skull crushers on an exercise ball
  • 4) Wide grip Pull-ups (overhand grip – palms facing away)
  • 7) Rope pulley tricep pull downs 3 sets, 1 leg (10, 10, 10)
  • Stretch and Core Exercises

Friday- Surf, Run, RELAX

Saturday – OFF

Sunday – OFF

So there you have it.  This is the routine I followed religiously for 30 straight days, and I put on 18 lbs.  Its not for the inexperienced, and I had a spotter at ALL times.  Having somebody spot you, allowing you to safely work each muscle to exhaustion will create the most size gain.  My bench press increased by 30 lbs, my squat by 50lbs, and my deadlift by 30lbs.

Looking back, it was a typical bodybuilder-style workout, and due to the volume of calories i was consuming, it’s no surprise I put on all of this weight.  These days, I eat much cleaner, train much simpler, and still have success.

Check out this article or the Nerd Fitness Academy if you have any interest in putting on weight the right way.

-Steve

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It’s Okay to Be a Nerd Says Former World’s Strongest Man

Cool article about Bill Kazmaier, a three-time winner of the World’s Strongest Man competition.  He won the competition three times back in the 80’s, and since then has been traveling around to schools teaching kids the benefits of fitness.  With the massive rise in childhood obesity these days, and lack of funding for physical education, we need more guys like Bill.

“I challenge young people to dare to dream; to try to see themselves as a champion,” Kazmaier said. “Try to develop a plan to become an achiever, an over-comer; to strive to be victorious in whatever they do. It’s okay to be a nerd. It’s okay to be good at math or with a computer or writing or music. And if you’re good at sports and are balanced in your life, that’s good too.”

We need more people like Bill!  I don’t know what it will take, but hopefully people will soon understand that the rising cost of health care has a direct correlation to the rise in obesity (and diabetes) in this nation.  Prevention and education is SO MUCH CHEAPER than dealing with it in the hospital when it’s already too late.

Keep it up Bill.

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