Tuesday, August 30, 2011

North Vancouver Boot Camp Reveals 4 Signs You're Not Training Hard Enough

A colleague of mine by the name of BJ Gaddour, co-creator of WorkoutMuse.com, shared an interesting article with me that he wrote about training intensity that I wanted to share with you. 

Before I get into the 4 signs, let's first define what Metabolic Training is...

Metabolic Training is the ultimate fusion of anaerobic strength and aerobic cardio exercise and adds a new twist to the classic bodybuilding routines of the past.

A metabolic workout is essentially a total body interval workout using short, max effort anaerobic work periods (typically 15-60 seconds in length) performed in an alternating set format (such as supersets, circuits, complexes, Tabatas, etc.) with short, incomplete rest periods between exercises (typically 10-30 seconds in length).

The high training intensity builds strength and muscle, jacks up anaerobic metabolism, and creates a large post-workout afterburn for up to 48 hours after completing your workout.

The high training density, or work completed per unit of time, causes a great deal of direct calorie burning during the workout to best stimulate fat loss.

Finally, the negative work-to-rest ratios (e.g. 30 seconds of work and 15 seconds of rest) inherent to the vast majority of metabolic workouts create a cumulative fatigue that also stimulates aerobic metabolism and thus provides incredible cardiovascular benefits.

That being said, metabolic training is not for the weak of mind or heart and it's all about working as hard as you possibly can at your current fitness level. Outlined below is a general criteria to follow to ensure you do just that:

Four Signs You're NOT Working Hard Enough

1.) Lack of Muscular Burn: Anaerobic exercise with short, incomplete rest periods creates a great deal of lactic acid accumulation causing intense muscular fatigue and burning. Simply put, if your muscles aren't burning, you're not working hard enough. However, this does not mean that you need train to muscular failure on every set. However, for the optimal training effect you should come close to but stop just before technical failure, the point at which going any further would comprise proper exercise form and technique.

Don't do this!

2.) Lack of Personal Confrontation: Studies show that training intensity, not volume, determines the degree of metabolic boost from a given workout. That being said, if you don't have at least a couple moments during your workout when you feel like you want to quit and go home, you're not working hard enough. Progressive overload remains the hallmark of any solid fitness routine and if you are not pushing past your comfort zone your body will stop adapting to ANY routine.

Do you feel like this?

3.) No Sounds of Exertion: If you're not grunting, groaning, huffing, or puffing you're simply not working hard enough. Your heart rate should be up the whole workout with your lungs working overtime. In other words, these total body workouts create a systemic effect that activates your body's fight or flight response to help you go the distance. I'm not saying you have to scream like a rabid animal, but I am saying that I wouldn't be surprised if you did...just try to keep it to a dull roar ;)

4.) Not Sweating: A good metabolic workout will have you glistening during the first couple minutes of the workout and your shirt should be soaked halfway in. If you're not dripping in a pool of your own sweat at the end of each workout, you simply did not use use heavy enough loads or advanced enough exercise variations to create a metabolic disturbance. Either that or you were resting too long between sets. In general, you should never take more than 60 seconds of rest between sets with metabolic training and 10-30 seconds seems to be the sweet spot.

A good workout :)

Four Signs You're Working Too Hard

1.) Diminished Training Intensity: In general, if you need to reduce your training loads from set to set, then you're probably working too hard. Your goal is to be able to use the sames loads at the end of the workout that you used in the beginning without excessively resting before increasing the loads in the subsequent workout. The only exception here is if the workout actually calls for you to reduce your loads throughout the training session. In addition, it's better to go into a given work period with a general rep range to work within. For example, if you were using 30-second work periods, a typical rep range within that time frame is 8-12 reps if you're moving at the typical 3-4 second per rep tempo. If you're getting more than 15 reps, the loads are too light. If you're getting less than 6 reps, the loads are too heavy.

Maybe the loads too heavy?

2.) Excessive Resting: If you are being forced to rest/pause a couple times during a work period, or you're resting longer than your rest periods allow for, you're probably working too hard. If you choose the appropriate exercise intensity, you should be able to train with minimal if any stopping during the work periods within your workout. As the workout progresses, a brief 3-5 second pause here and there to reset and reload is fine, but if you're taking any longer than that and stopping constantly, then you need to reduce your loads or regress the exercise appropriately.

3.) Excessive Breathing: A good workout will have you breathing hard as your body's demand for oxygen increases, but you should never be completely out of breath or gasping for air. If you start wheezing or coughing, that's a clear sign to stop exercising immediately. If symptoms persist, it could be related to exercise-induced asthma or another serious condition and you should seek immediate medical attention. It's important to note that larger individuals with more muscle mass will have greater overall oxygen demands and will thus be more prone to being out of breath than their smaller, less muscled counterparts.

4.) Dizziness or Blurred Vision: If you get dizzy or have vision trouble during any portion of exercise, then you're probably working too hard. Either that or you could be experiencing a migraine or vertigo or have symptoms of low blood pressure, dehydration, or lack of nutrition. If this condition persists, you must immediately discontinue your fitness program and seek medical attention.

Maybe I'm working out too hard

Your friend,

PS. Important: Noon boot camp WILL still be meeting at Andre Piolat School this Friday September 2 and not moving to Flicka until Monday September 5. I reconfirmed with them today that we'll be starting there Friday but they forgot that their competitive teams are still training this week so we won't be moving there until Monday. Sorry for the confusion.   

PPS. Quick note re: perfumes and fragrances at boot camp.  Since some people react and are sensative to certain scents and fragrances, please refrain from wearing them when coming to class. Don't worry if you already have it on from work, just don't spray it on before coming. Thanks.

If you live in North or West Vancouver, BC and want to experience the boot camp in North Vancouver that GUARANTEES you'll lose at least a clothing size in 30 days or your money back AND will help you get fast results like this girl in the video below who lost 20 pounds, 6.5 inches off her waist and 4 inches off her hips, then click the link below:

===>Here's the video:

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

North Vancouver Boot Camp Declares War On Fat!

I was talking with a client the other day and that phrase came up, "Declare war on fat" and I truly believe that that's what we need to do if we want to see serious results with our own bodies and generally stop the obesity epidemic that hurting our society.

I watched an interesting video on sugar and fructose by Dr. Robert Lustig, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology. He explores the damage caused by sugary foods. He argues that fructose (too much) and fibre (not enough) appear to be cornerstones of the obesity epidemic through their effects on insulin. I've provided the video below and I recommend watching it. It's really long so watch it in parts if you can't watch it all at once. The seminar's called "Sugar: The Bitter Truth"

I've summarize a few points below.

The Good
First off, he makes a valid point that the public health movement against dietary fat that started in the early 1980′s was a grandiose failure. The climb in obesity to epidemic proportions over the last 30 years is plenty of evidence for this. It was also accurate of him to cite the significant increase in overall caloric consumption over this same time period. Furthermore, he shows an interesting progression of Coca-Cola’s 6.5 oz bottle in 1915 to the 20 oz bottle of the modern day [3].

Lustig acknowledges the First Law of Thermodynamics as it applies to changes in bodyweight. He attacks the vague expression that “a calorie is a calorie” by pointing out that different nutrients impart different physiological effects and have different roles within the body. His concluding recommendations included kicking out liquid calories except milk, which is generally a good strategy for children. I am however not a huge fan of milk due to the amount of processing done to it [3].

The Not-So-Good
While Lustig correctly points out that the nation’s overall caloric consumption has increased, he proceeds to blame carbohydrates as being the primary constituent. The thing is, he uses data spanning from 1989-1995 on children aged 2-17. Survey data is far from the gold standard of evidence, but if you’re gonna cite it, you might as well go with something more recent that includes adults [3].

Here’s the latest from the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS), which tracked the percent of total daily calories of the range of food groups from 1970-2007. The actual spreadsheet of the following figures can be downloaded here, click on the “Percents” tab at the bottom (note that these figures are updated regularly by the ERS, so the version you download may be different from what’s reported here) [1]:

  • Meats, eggs, and nut kcals decreased 4%.
  • Dairy kcals decreased 3%.
  • Percentage of fruit kcals stayed the same.
  • Percentage of vegetable kcals stayed the same.
  • Flour and cereal product kcals increased 3%.
  • Added fat kcals are up 7%,
  • Added sugars kcals decreased 1%
  • Total energy intake in 1970 averaged 2172 kcal. By 2007 this hiked up to 2775 kcal, a 603 kcal increase.

Taking a hard look at the data above, it appears that the rise in obesity is due in large part to an increase in caloric intake in general, rather than an increase in added sugars in particular. So is too sugar a problem? Absolutely but I think the primarily cause is increased calorie intake and decreased amount of physical activity - people are generally more sedentary [3].

King and colleagues recently compared the physical activity data in the National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 1988-1994 with the NHANES data from 2001-2006, and found a 10% decrease [2]. That figure seems conservative to me. It’s safe to say that all 603 extra daily calories have been landing on the hips, thighs and backsides of the general public [3].

Is fructose (or sugar) really the poison it’s painted to be? The answer is not an absolute yes or no; the evilness of fructose depends completely on dosage and context. Lustig fails to specify the dosage and context of his claims [3].

Ultimately, I believe it comes down to what I mentioned above: too many calories and too little exercise. Now it's true that eating too much sugar (and high fructose corn syrup as it's in a ton of processed food) are a serious issue that needs to be dealt with but solely putting the blame on fructose as the main culprit, I think is a stretch.

On a Side Note
The Canadian National Exhibition is running right now in Toronto and you won't believe what food items are being offered.

Making headlines this year are two amazing (although, ‘amazing’ is a subjective term) new food items – the Krispy Kreme donut burger and deep fried cola.

You ask - are people actually trying this stuff? And, is it even possible to deep-fry a beverage?

The answer - yes, and yes.

I wondering if the PNE here in Vancouver will offer the same. I hope not. Check out the video below to see the Krispy Kreme donut burger and deep fried cola. You'll be shocked.

Dr. Robert Lustig's seminar called Sugar: The Bitter Truth

PS. Quick note re: perfumes and fragrances at boot camp.  Since some people react and are sensative to certain scents and fragrances, please refrain from wearing them when coming to class. Don't worry if you already have it on from work, just don't spray it on before coming. Thanks.

PPS. If you live in North or West Vancouver, BC and want to experience the boot camp in North Vancouver that GUARANTEES you'll lose at least a clothing size in 30 days or your money back AND will help you get fast results like this girl in the video below who lost 20 pounds, 6.5 inches off her waist and 4 inches off her hips, then click the link below:

===>Here's the video:

  1. Economic Research Service, USDA. Loss-Adjusted Food Availability Data. Updated Feb 27, 2009. [ERS/USDA]
  2. King DE, et al. Adherence to healthy lifestyle habits in US adults, 1988-2006. Am J Med. 2009 Ju; 122(6):528-34. [Medline]
  3. Aragon, A., http://www.alanaragonblog.com/2010/01/29/the-bitter-truth-about-fructose-alarmism/. Jan 29, 2010.
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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

North Vancouver Boot Camp Shows a Quick Workout to Blast Your Abs and Boost Your Metabolism - Part 2

A couple of weeks ago I shared about one of the simplest workouts you can do to work your whole body, get your abs tight and strong, boost your metabolism, and get your cardio in and that is hill sprints.

One of the reasons why its so effective is that you don’t need any equipment to do it, its short, and you don’t have to travel too far as most people have a hill near their home.

As mentioned in that previous post, after most of my own workouts I head outside and perform these hill sprints. They are so effective at boosting your metabolism and working your core that you will most definitely fill your abs for a day or two afterwards.

Normally what I do is about 7-10 sprints each for 10 seconds and then resting and walking back down for 50 seconds.

Here’s what you do. Find a hill with a fairly good incline (nothing less than you see in the video below) and sprint up it as fast as you can for 10 seconds and then make your way back down by walking and rest for 50 seconds and repeat until you have completed 5-20 total sprints.  Perform this 3 times per week in between your boot camp, personal training or your training sessions.

Depending on how long the hill is you can either sprint to the very top and then walk your way down for the rest or do as I do as mentioned above and sprint for 10 seconds (use a stop watch) and walk down/rest for 50 seconds. This will be one of the most taxing 20 minutes of your life, ha ha! I know you liked hearing that :) Check out the video below to see one of our North Vancouver boot camp classess in action. 


As you can see from the video everyone's going at their own pace.  So if you aren't ready for sprints or think your body can't handle it right now then go up the hill at a pace that works for you where it’s a challenge but not too hard that you hurt yourself. Each person in the video is going at their own pace so don’t think you have to sprint at a certain speed, that’s not the case at all.

So maybe in your case it’ll be either a fast walk or light jog to start out with and then as you get stronger and your body adapts and gets more used to it, progressively make it a little harder. There's no need to hurt yourself as you can get good results by making it a fast walk/jog if that is where you are at. But remember not to stay there as you’re results and progress will slow in time due to the body adapting to it.

I enjoy hills because running up them is much easier on the joints as you don't need to decelerate as much as on flat or downhill surface. It's really an amazing total body workout and if you do it with the right intensity and really pump your arms, you're abs will be sore for a day or two afterwards as mentioned above.

As mentioned in the previous post, you can take it to the next level by grabbing a partner and a pair of resistance bands and do some resisted uphill running, switching roles every round (check out these bands at http://resistancebandtraining.com.)

No excuses now ;)  Go give this workout a shot on a day in between your workouts and once you do, let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. Also, if you have any questions don't hesitate to let me know below.

Your friend,

 PS. If you live in North or West Vancouver, BC and want to experience the boot camp in North Vancouver that GUARANTEES you'll lose at least a clothing size in 30 days or your money back AND will help you get fast results like this girl in the video below who lost 20 pounds, 6.5 inches off her waist and 4 inches off her hips, then click the link below: 

===>North Vancouver Boot Camp 

===>Here's the video:

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

To Lose Fat and Get a Lean, Sculpted Physique: Do This!

There is a lot of misinformation out there regarding training, particularly for females. I just read an awesome article about females and strength training by JC Deen of JCDFitness.com and I wanted to share it with you below.  

What you'll see in the magazines, on TV, and on fitness products, are not necessarily in line with what it takes to get great results – especially when it comes to the female physique.

There are a few problems that I hope to shed some light on today with this article.

  1. Resistance/Strength training should be a must in any female’s fitness routine who wishes to alter her body composition for the better. If the goal is to maintain a lean(er), “toned’ physique, some type of resistance training is a MUST. We’ll discuss what is best and what is not later on.

  2. Most traditional forms of media are either rehashing old, outdated information OR are pushing your emotional triggers to BUY, instead of making a rational decision. In these cases, making the sale is of far greater importance than what the product can actually do for you.
Females and Strength Training 

Maybe I’m making a bold statement here, but one of the biggest misconceptions, to this day, are how women shouldn’t be lifting heavy weights. It’s not uncommon to see females in the gym lifting tiny dumbbells and doing lots of cardio.

Why is this? It’s simple – they’ve all been told that lifting heavy weights is reserved for the boys and if they do as we do, they’ll look like us.

So, if they don’t want to look like us, they should clearly do the opposite, right?


While heavy weights, combined with a hearty diet is often the recipe for males to pack on size and muscle mass, it’s not a similar situation for females. And the reason is because of our hormonal profiles.

A concern I’ve come across in casual conversation with women about training is this fear of getting big and bulky. In case you’re unfamiliar with how the male and female bodies differ hormonally, the primary difference is the levels of testosterone between the sexes.

Men are naturally leaner, stronger and can carry more muscle mass than their counterparts. The reason why is due to the levels of testosterone within their system.

A female produces a tiny fraction of the testosterone that a male does. Since testosterone is the main determinant of the ability to grow in size and strength, it only makes sense that someone with much lower levels (women) will never achieve the same size as someone with much more of it (men).

The only way this is remotely possible is through exogenous use of testosterone and other anabolic compounds (steroids, shhh! I am assuming none of you will use so you have no worries.)

Of course, there are outliers – the occasional female who has slightly more testosterone than the average woman, but they’re few and far between. These are usually girls who are typically drawn more so to athletics and training, and thus have more muscular bodies as a result.

But even then, I don’t find those bodies to be unattractive or even “bulky” as one might describe a male’s body.

I've trained various females on strength training routines, some of them actually lift more than many men, and none of them possess a physique anywhere near the resemblance of a “bulky” man. So for all the females reading today, have no fear – I can assure you with all certainty that you’ll never, ever look like a male as a result of training for strength with heavy weights.

Despite the evidence pointing against a female’s ability to get big and bulky, false information is always being spread.

Problem is, it’s this type of misinformation that forever keeps ladies from their physique goals. It’s this exact thinking that will keep women on the treadmills and lifting the silly, pink dumbbells forever with no results to show for it.

So who’s to blame? I blame trainers and fitness folk who don’t stay up to date with current information, but I mostly blame the world of fitness marketing. Why? Just check some of these images below.

Great Marketing. Mediocre Results. 

So what do you notice about each image? There is a fit female, with an attractive physique, and they’re all using weights you could lift before you could speak.

Now ladies, do you really think those baby weights will produce the stimulus responsible for the firm, hard body you long for? If you’re answer is no, then you’re clearly “in-the-know.”

From here, I think we can agree there’s obviously a disconnect between what actually works, and what is being promoted.

As you will notice in one of the images, Jillian Michaels is holding a few small dumbbells. What we have here is the celebrity factor. Jillian is known around the world as a super trainer. She’s trained stars. She’s been on the TV show, The Biggest Loser. So in most people’s eyes, for having such stardom, she must know her stuff, right? 

Well maybe, maybe not. I’m not here to judge her on what she’s doing or how she’s getting results with others as I'm sure she knows her stuff and gets awesome results, but I bet she doesn’t have her clients using baby weights. And I imagine she is likely not using these weights in her own training, either.

The problem here is not affecting the informed fitness pro or even the avid fitness enthusiast. It’s hurting the ladies who simply want to lose some weight, improve their appearance and get fit again.

They’ll continue doing pump sets with 5lb dumbbells and will never achieve the figure they want – they’ll never get close to Jillian’s physique because that shape requires resistance training of some sort, period. 

And Then We Have Plain Bad Advice 

You often here the phrase ‘long and lean’ muscles as opposed to ‘bulky’ when describing the look a female often aspires to. And here’s the problem. We cannot physically change the length of our muscles too much.

Sure, some stretching will make you more limber and restricting movement for long periods will cause muscles to shorten, but never to the point of making a drastic visual difference.

So the idea of creating ‘long and lean’ muscles is just bad terminology BUT it sounds great to women because that is, after all, what most want – that hard, lean physique.

Traditional Media and Marketing

As you will see on this cover, there are plenty of headlines that will get many women to buy. I mean, who doesn’t want a “toned tummy, arms and thighs in 20 minutes”? Who doesn’t want to “kiss cellulite goodbye?”

What I love about traditional media in the women’s fitness genre is the stellar formula. Great headlines + a picture of a lady in a bikini + great ad copy = $$$$.

While we don’t have a ton of research on metabolism, nutrient requirements for athletes, etc, we have enough to help us draw some conclusions and most importantly, get positive results. 

In fact, in an article titled How To Get Jennifer Aniston’s Bikini Bod (published 2/8/2010), under the diet section, it reads:

To replicate a lean body — especially in your 40s — you’d have to eat an “extremely clean diet” that is high in protein and consists of many small meals to keep the metabolism going, Di Palma says.

And this is where I wish we could get some recent research to explain how skipping breakfast (or any other meal) is not as detrimental as we once thought. There's a ton of research showing this is not the case (if you want some just let me know). The research shows no negative effects on metabolism from fasting. It's clearly stated in research that resting energy expenditure (metabolism) can even increase with short-term fasting. 

So What Now? 

This is what I hope to leave you with. Marketing plays a huge role in your decisions on a daily basis. Most of the models gracing the covers of women’s fitness publications are doing much more than the occasional 20-minute workout to achieve the physique they have.

You may be thinking, “What if I'm just a beginner? Are the 5 pound dumbbells okay to get started with?”

Yes. It’s okay if you’re beginning weight training to start with the lightest weight available. You just don’t want to continue with these weights forever. If you do, you’ll never make the adaptations responsible for producing a lean, sculpted physique.

So while the light dumbbells are fine for a short period, the goal is progressive overload (lifting more weight) over time. If you aren’t getting stronger over the long-term, you are spinning your wheels, and whistling Dixie as my mom likes to say.

I know ladies who are busting their tails in the gym 4-5 days per week to achieve the same look you see on the covers. I have written programs for them so I know exactly what they’re training entails. If I haven’t worked with them, I know who their trainers are and what they have them doing.

There is no secret – the physiques gracing the covers are a product of progressive strength training routines, not 10 minutes of 5lb dumbbell curls followed by an hour of the elliptical. Some of these girls are very strong and will never be as bulky as a male.

So the next time you pick up that magazine or get ready to buy a product with a pretty figure promoting it, step back and ask yourself – “Is this really what I need or am I giving into awesome copywriting and a dashing physique?”

If you want to ask any questions, don't hesitate to, contact me anytime.

Your friend,


PS. If you live in North or West Vancouver, BC and want to experience one of the best boot camps in North Vancouver that also GUARANTEES you'll lose at least a clothing size in 30 days or your money back AND will help you get fast results like Patty in the video below who lost 22.5 pounds and 21.5 total inches, then click the link below:

===>Here's the video:

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