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Using Barbell Complexes to Burn Fat and Build Muscle

I know what you must be thinking. What are barbell complexes? Believe me, I would have said the same thing a few years ago, before I knew what they were.  But now I’m a little smarter.  I realize that they are far better than many run-of-the-mill training methods, both in efficiency and fun. Well,...

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Phelps Mad after Subpar Performance in Paris

Posted by personaltrainersscottsdale.com | Posted in Fitness | Posted on 28-06-2010

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Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps wasn’t too happy this weekend after visiting France.  The 14-time Gold Medalist who competed in the Paris Open this weekend won 2 out of his 4 events but was unhappy with his overall performance.

His losses in the 100 and 200 freestyle left him troubled about whether or not he was on the right track to steal the show in the next Olympic games in 2012 taking place in London – the same way he did in Beijing.

Phelps, who was noticeably angry after losing a couple of his events had this to say:

“Hopefully, it’s a wake-up call. If it’s not, then I have to change a lot. I blame myself. You’ve got to be responsible for your own action.

“I know what I have to work at to improve. I thought I had done better training (after his first meet of the year in May) but clearly I have not. I’m the only one who can fix it.”

Phelps, 25, isn’t racing against tadpoles though.  Yannick Agnel, who beat Phelps over the weekend in both freestyle events (and is younger than him) actually set a French national record while doing so.

Yannick isn’t getting cocky yet though.  Although he was happy to beat the most decorated swimmer in the sport, he still knows Phelps isn’t currently at his best.

It just may have been the wake-up call Phelps needed though.  With the London games 25 months away, making sure he is on the right course is crucial for the most decorated Olympian of all time.

So now he knows what he has to do.  Does he have time to do it?  An even better question is how can he top Beijing?

Lionel Messi: The Lebron James of Soccer

Posted by personaltrainersscottsdale.com | Posted in Fitness | Posted on 26-06-2010

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Magical Messi

Argentine striker Lionel Messi may be the best soccer player in the world.  At just 23 years old he currently plays for both the Argentine national team as well  as Barcelona.  At 22 he won both the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year award. His playing style and skill have resulted in people comparing him to Diego Maradona, who himself called Messi his “successor”.  So saying he is a good player is a huge understatement.

Lebron James is currently a free agent in the NBA with a huge list of accolades to his credit.  Basketball fans and non fans alike know how much an athletic freak this guy is.  At just 18, he was selected as the number one pick in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Cavaliers and was also offered a US$90 million shoe contract with Nike before his professional debut.  Playing as a small forward, Lebron has set a ton of youngest player records since being drafted to the league.  He was named the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2003–04, NBA Most Valuable Player in 2008–09 and 2009–10, as well as both All-NBA and an All-Star every season since 2005.

King James

Both guys are awesome athletes.  That’s one thing that can be said for sure.  The other thing that you can draw from looking at these stars is that they both seem to defy physics when they play.  Even though their sports are pretty different, when you watch either guy on the court or on the field it’s hard to believe some of the moves  they make.

Whether it’s outsmarting an opponent to make a breakaway shot or rushing with blazing speed to block a point, these guys can move like no one else.

In a recent match, “Magical” Messi was 3 feet behind a moving ball that was close to the opponent’s 18-yard line, with a defender on his tail.  When Messi gained possession of the ball he quickly chose to wait until the defender was right upon him before blasting to his left.  It’s this “bait and switch” that confused the defender for a split second and gave Messi about 3 feet of space to line up a shot and, of course, score a goal.

In comparison, Lebron James playing with the Cavs earlier this year pulled off an equally magical move.  Standing behind the three-point line with about 5 feet between himself and a defender, “King James” drove to his left by pivoting forward on one foot but then instantly drew it back and squared his body for a last second jump shot.  The fake that Lebron brought to the table threw his defender off balance for about 0.17 seconds giving James the tiny space he needed to score.

We don’t know what team Lebron will be playing for next year.  We don’t know how Messi and team Argentina will fair for the rest of the World Cup.  One thing is certain though: you can bet these guys will keep pushing the envelope when it comes to making  amazing plays.

How to Improve your Deadlift with One Simple Technique

Posted by personaltrainersscottsdale.com | Posted in Fitness | Posted on 26-06-2010

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Deadlifting will make you sexier...

Deadlifting is one of the toughest exercises around.  It’s also one of the most effective at building a strong, powerful (or sculpted) body.  People who do this exercise are smart. Yet so many of them never change the weight or reps they use over the long haul.  Nor do they change other variables like grip, foot position, rest, or range of motion.

One of the easiest things you can do to immediately challenge your body in a new way with this exercise (and spark some serious muscle growth and calorie burning) is to increase the range of motion used.

Same Range, Same Results

When most people deadlift they use an olympic bar loaded with two or more 45lb plates.  Men who have been training for a little while can normally do 135# or more and some women who are on the stronger side (see picture above) can also use this much weight.  The problem isn’t in using a weight that is challenging, it’s in not increasing the range of motion used on the lift.  Here’s what I mean: when you load up the bar with two or more 45# plates the bar rests about a foot (give or take) off the ground.  So, when you go to pick the bar up, you are only stretching your back, hamstrings, and glutes far enough so as to allow your hands to be lowered to about one foot off the ground.  This is as far as you have to stretch.  You never take advantage of stretching deeper and reaching lower.  The truth is that most people don’t think about this and if they did they might not land upon a way to solve this problem.

Here’s how to change things:

Instead of loading the bar with 45# plates on each side, simply use 25# plates.  Of course, you will have to use more plates to get to the same amount of weight, but the 25# plates are smaller in diameter and when they are loaded on the bar it will allow you to stretch that much deeper, recruiting more muscle fibers and allowing a greater range of motion.  If you’ve never done it before, this approach should definitely give you a challenge and get you one step closer to your strength, conditioning or physique goals.

CLA: Good for Burning Fat AND Building Muscle

Posted by personaltrainersscottsdale.com | Posted in Fitness, Health & Wellness | Posted on 26-06-2010

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Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a trans-fatty acid that is naturally occurring in some meats and cheeses and happens to be a very potent fat burning supplement.  On top of it’s fat burning capabilities, CLA also can assist in building muscle.  While there has been a lot of research in the past showing the advantages of CLA supplementation over the long term, new research is even better.  A new study out of Uppsala University (Sweden) concluded that people who supplemented with CLA for just four weeks significantly decreased the amount of abdominal fat compared to a group who didn’t use the supplement.  What’s more is that the group that used the CLA and decreased their body fat levels wasn’t even exercising.  Research shows that when you combine the benefits of this supplement with regular physical activity such as strength and cardiovascular training you amplify the amount of body fat that is metabolized (burned)  Muscle building is also improved with weight training and CLA compared to weight training without the supplement.

The recommended dose needed to get results? 1-3 grams per day with breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Modify Your Rest Intervals to Burn Fat or Build Muscle

Posted by personaltrainersscottsdale.com | Posted in Fitness | Posted on 20-06-2010

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Do you want to burn fat or build muscle?  Let me rephrase that.  It actually needs to be broken into two questions: Do you want to burn fat? OR, do you want to build muscle? Chances are you want to do both.  Here’s the only problem: It can be pretty hard – almost impossible – to do both at the same time. (at least to the degree that most people want)

To see what I mean just think about how hard it would be to add 20 to 30 pounds of muscle to your frame in a six month period.  Sure, someone can add that much body mass in that period of time, but how much of it is really muscle?  Assuming the individual isn’t using steroids, it is hardly going to be possible.  A good amount of any body weight that people add to their frame (even when adhering to a strict training and diet regimen) is water and fat.  The rest is muscle.  So, when you hear someone say they added 30 pounds of muscle in a short period of time, well, they are probably misinformed (they haven’t had a body fat test done to back it up).  And, when you see a supplement add that suggests a particular protein powder or supplement will add 30 pounds of muscle in one month (or even three months) you can be sure they are lying in order to sell more of that particular product.

Realistically speaking, when you put on weight in an effort to increase muscle mass you are going to add fat.  It’s a simple, unavoidable truth.  And the best ratio of fat to muscle you can hope for is 2:1.  This means that if all things are done perfectly and your body responds incredibly well to the routine you are on you will add one pound of fat for every two pounds of muscle.  Typically though, these numbers are more realistic for beginner or intermediate trainees.  Once people have been working out for a while, that ratio slips and one pound of fat is gained for every one pound of muscle.  So, it gets harder to add muscle without adding fat.

Most people understand the idea that to add a significant amount of muscle mass many people recommend the idea of bulking up, or lifting heavy while increasing caloric intake to add body mass.  While some of this new body mass is muscle, much of it (as I just mentioned) is invariably body fat.  The idea behind this strategy is to go through a dieting or “cutting” phase to preferentially burn off the added fat while maintaining the new, hard earned muscle.  A lot of guys and gals that have been lifting for at least a little while understand this concept.  And most bodybuilders swear by it.  It’s probably the most common method for adding substantial muscle mass to one’s frame (especially when repeated over time)

I’m not going to go into detail on the pros and cons of bulking or even how to do it.  I’ll save that for another post.  What I do want to talk about is how you can manipulate rest intervals during your workouts to burn fat or build muscle.

People have a tendency to make things more difficult than they need to be.  For the sake of simplicity, I’ll try to keep the rest of this post short and to the point.

Less Rest for Less Fat

A lot of people in the know might assume that it is common knowledge, but if you want to burn more fat during a workout you want to rest less between sets.  One study found that people training who rested for 30 seconds between sets of bench presses burned 50% more calories than another group that rested for 3 minutes.

More Rest for More Muscle

If, on the other hand, your main goal is to add muscle to your frame, you want to be taking a little bit more rest than you would if you were just trying to burn fat.  A recent study out of Kennesaw State University in Georgia confirmed what some people might have already guessed: when you rest more, you increase your body’s recovery ability and it’s ability to build muscle.  During the study the researchers had lifters rest for 2.5 minutes between sets, and, during the 10-week time period during which the study was conducted, trainees gained twice the arm size that another group who only rested for 1 minute did.  The conclusion, once again, is that to maximize muscle gains rest 2-3 minutes between sets.

Keep in mind that even if you only have one main goal (either burning fat or building muscle) mixing up rest periods occasionally is goood.  If you are taking longer rest periods most of the time, challenge your body by cutting your rest periods down to 30 seconds.  On the other hand, if you are already skimping on the rest, mix it up by giving your body 2-3 minutes downtime between sets.  The end result is your body ends up working harder to work with rest periods that are different from what it is used to.  And hard work means you’ll burn more fat and build more muscle.

So next time you’re in the gym, pay attention to how much rest you are taking.  You might just find it’s the key to mixing up your workouts and breaking through a plateau – whatever your goals.

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