Sunday, September 29, 2013

5 Minute Drills

 ::EDITORIAL NOTE:: After my first day of this challenge I am going to be doing it every other day. It seems to make more sense for me to be able to recover a day. If you can do it daily, five days a week, more power to you. Tell us your progress, please.

We finished the 30 Day Burpee challenge and took a week off for full recuperation. The daily workouts, stopped. The daily diet, not a chance. Now it is time for a new challenge, a new workout to get us moving and into fighting shape. I challenge you to do 5 Minutes Drills. This is an awesome dual purpose routine combining strength training and cardio in an efficient system.

This is a workout that is going to work about every muscle group in your body except your neck muscles. But, you can add neck bridges if you like. When I put this one together several years ago I was interested in Interval Training. I still am interested in intervals, they are fun. This routine is designed your heart pumping and your lings working hard. Cardio is a factor here. This is accomplished by doing each of the 5 minutes blocks without stopping and without resting in between. Doing the routine at a moderate pace, minimum, will result in your heart and lungs really being worked. If you are like me, you will go into each exercise at 80% intensity or better.

The muscles are getting a good push, too. Particularly in the Bodybuilders. This is where you will need some equipment. This point and the jump rope would be the only times in the workout that this is true. You must have a place to do pull-ups. Start standing tall, squat down and place your hands on the ground. Now, kick your feet back so that you are in a full plank with your arms straight. Do a push-up. Do it as hard and as forceful as you can. Quickly pull your feet back in to where they were at the start and jump. While you are in the air try pulling your knees up to your chest before you have to straighten them and land on your feet. Once you have your feet on the ground again grab your overhead bar and do a pull-up. That is one count. Do that for 5 minutes.

The other exercises are fairly common and you should have no trouble with them. You can also substitute Russian Twists for the Bicycle Crunches if you prefer.

The workout is a series of 6 exercises that will be performed for 5 minutes at a time. Yes ,5 minutes for each exercise.

Jumping Jacks
Mountain Climbers
Bicycle Crunches
Pogo Hops
Jump Rope

That's it, folks. 30 minutes of digging deep to do more each day. What days of the week are we doing this on? Monday through Friday. I am thinking 4 weeks for this challenge, I may go ahead and do 8 weeks. This mix of exercises is going to burn fat fast. It also gives you an excuse to use your kids jungle gym for the bodybuilders. Share it with your teens as a challenge, who is the better man.

I will post my body weight and body fat changes over the coming weeks. Enjoy your training time.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I Challenge You!

This is going to be a simple challenge in that it has few moving parts. The catch is, it will be harsh.

The fitness challenge which I am planning is a combination of the high intensity interval training (HIIT) and endurance. As I have been writing, the HIIT training is going to force my system to become more efficient at using oxygen and removing lactic acid. This part of the training is also going to rapidly increase my leg strength and muscular capacity. That is, according to all the scientific studies I have been reading. Also, my own experience in the past with Tabata drills and other HIIT routines.

The bicycle riding is an endurance and cardio event. We are familiar with how the low impact, moderately paced cardio workouts burn fat after 20 minutes.

By combining the two routines we, if you also take this challenge, will see a significant drop in body fat along with an increase in our overall aerobic capacity.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Drop Set Pull-Push Routine; Interval Runs (2 mile minimum); Bicycle Crunches (2 min)

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday
Bicycle Riding, for me, 20.4 miles

If you are still reading this, then the challenge is for you to get up and get going. I am going to be posting my progress. You can substitute the bicycle ride with a long run/jog or a good swim. Join me with this for 4 weeks.

Join me and post your progress. I am starting off with a body weight of 216 pounds and a body fat percentage of 22%.

Monday, September 23, 2013

It Takes Another HIIT

Just in on my feeds is an article on the benefits of High Intensity Training, even for those with heart disease! How cool! So, here is the opening of that article:

I love HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training
I love HIIT because…
  1. it works really, really well to help my clients get fit really, really fast,
  2. it helps my clients drop excess body-fat really, really fast
  3. and because it is really simple to program HIIT workouts and it fits into the busiest of schedules really, really well.
Unfortunately, not everyone sees HIIT like I do. 
There is a large group of trainers and fitness “experts” who…
  • think that low intensity cardio is superior to HIIT for developing aerobic fitness, and
  • fear that the High Intensity aspect of HIIT is dangerous to the health of their clients.
Their concern is that people with less than perfect cardiac function are at imminent risk of suffering a heart attack if their trainer puts them on a HIIT protocol. Which makes sense….if you haven’t read a medical journal in the past few years and still believe that low intensity cardio is the only safe way to improve cardiac function.

Here is a link to the rest of the article. The long and short of it is, do HIIT. It works!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fast Full Body Workout

For a fast and effective full body workout challenge, I look no further than my old time favorite, Change of a Dollar.

A lifetime ago I was at Great Lakes Naval Recruit Training Center. We often got mashed (had extra physical fitness stunts that HAD to be done) for a variety of reasons. Sadly, none of them included pull-ups or rowing.
That every muscle group but the back was worked bothered me. Not too long after leaving Great Lakes I modified one of my favored exercises to include pull-ups. Before I get ahead of myself, let me describe the exercises for all readers.

The exercise was called Change of a Dollar. It was four exercises done for 25 repetitions each. 25 push-ups, 25 sir-ups, 25, jumping jacks, and 25 body builders. To do the body builder you start standing up. Squat down and place your hands on the ground. Kick your feet back so that you are in a plank position and hold that for a moment. Snap your feet back to where they were and jump. As mentioned earlier, this does not hit the entire body. It ignores the pulling muscles of the upper body, the largest of that group being the muscles of your upper back.

To remedy this, add a pull up after the jump. This one little modification is a real game changer.

Do this with the High Intensity Interval Training methodology. Complete one cycle through, or one dollar. Take one minute to recover then do another. Stay with this until you have finished eight cycles. Set "prices" for certain treats, say you pay yourself one dollar for a snickers bar.

Marathon Kids

I am always on the lookout for ways to share family fitness. I believe that, if the parents are active, the kids will be active. Conversely, if the parents are sedentary, then the kids will be, as well. This year my two boys and I are taking part in Marathon Kids.

This is an evidence based program designed to increase physical activity and improve health.

On the website, the Marathon Kids program remains the only "evidence-based" school-based physical activity and healthy lifestyle program for children in the country (according to all available data) and is succeeding at its mission: to improve the health of children by providing them the motivation, tools and support to live happier and healthier lifestyles.

That is what this blog is about, too. The challenge by joining up with Marathon Kids is that you, the parent, will jog and run with your kids. This goes for a 6 month period. The end result is that you and your kids have gone at least 26.2 miles. How easy is that? You get up with your kids and get moving.

Here is a link to their main site. Get jogging and starting logging those miles, Families!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fast Fitness

There are those who want to go to the gym, but just do not have the time available to go there, get changed, workout, shower, and get dressed again. Some people think that this is the way we have to do it. Another mistaken idea is that we need to spend thousands of dollars for a good home gym. What can be done to strengthen muscles, burn fat, and not take an substantial time investment? Tabata Protocol training is the simple, effective, and efficient answer.

What is Tabata training?
Izumi Tabata instituted a training regimen for Japanese Olympic speed skaters. You may have heard it referred to as High Intensity Interval Training. The long and the short of this is that it is intense and it works.

This style of training consists of intense bursts of activity followed by brief periods of rest. This cycle is repeated for the specified training time.

There are several benefits to be realized by doing a simple Tabata drill or adding a month of HIIT to your routine.

The benefits we can expect to realize from this are quite impressive.

Our bodies will burn glycogen for fuel during the beginning of our workout. After several minutes our bodies burn fat for the necessary energy to complete the training cycle. The faster we get into the fat burning zone, the better. Most trainers and the fitness professionals hold that 20 minutes is the minimum period of time needed to achieve the goal of burning fat for energy

Studies show 5 times more effective at burning calories than moderate aerobic activities By working at near maximal heart rates we burn a greater amount of calories. Think about this, when you're on the highway and you smash the gas pedal down, you burn through gasoline very fast.

Studies also show that this type of training causes the body to continue to burn calories at a higher rate for up to 24 hours after the workout. We do not get this from an average, or above average, cardio regimen

Through this type of training our bodies learn to be more effective at cleaning out metabolic waste in between the intervals of intense workout. The body becomes better at immediate short term recovery. Your system will be able to handle longer, faster runs with more ease after these.

HIIT is also one of several ways to boost both testosterone and growth hormone levels. These hormones are extremely important for both muscle gain and fat loss.

Your cardiovascular system will also see rapid improvements through HIIT. The improvements are greater than a moderate level of cardio training.

Muscular Fitness
Jogging is nice and comfortable, and there is nothing wrong with that. I enjoy running with my Akita. HIIT uses endurance muscle fibers, Type 1, and Type 2, the power and strength fibers. Part of this, I believe, is due to our body's natural emergency reflex reaction. What happens when we move explosively, for instance sprinting, our system is screaming 'emergency'. Our muscles react by firing a greater number of muscle fibers than would be necessary to complete the exercise.

By working at close to your maximal heart rate, you will be burning the most calories, and causing the most physiological changes to your body that will be beneficial to fat loss.

How do you do it?
My experience with Tabata drills is a four minute routine. Four minutes, too easy/ Everyone can find four minutes to train, right? This particular drill is 20 seconds of all out, gut busting sprinting followed by 10 seconds of walking or jogging. This cycle is repeated for a total of 8 times. Four minutes, too easy. Let me warn you now, it is a very harsh four minutes.

Sample Routines
All that being said, I have included three outlines for you to try. I have done the 4 minute one before for a month and it is harsh. Harsh, but well worth it.I have included below three Tabata/HIIT routines. They vary in time length from 20 to 25 minutes down to 4 minutes duration.

These first two you will need to download a Tabata app onto your phone or other device to help you keep track.

20 Seconds RUN!
10 Seconds Walk or Jog
Repeat for a total of 8 cycles

Minute 1: Squat Jumps
20 Seconds on
10 Seconds off
Repeat once
Minute 2: Burpees
20 Seconds on
10 Seconds off
Repeat once
Minute 3: Squat Jumps
20 Seconds on
10 Seconds off
Repeat once
Minute 4: Burpees
20 Seconds on
10 Seconds off
Repeat once
Minute 5 – 6: Rest
Minute 7: Squat Jumps
20 Seconds on
10 Seconds off
Minute 8: Burpees
20 Seconds on
10 Seconds off
Repeat once
Minute 9: Squat Jumps
20 Seconds on
10 Seconds off
Repeat once
Minute 10: Burpees
20 Seconds on
10 Seconds off
Repeat once
Another training outline consists of running for one minute then walking/jogging for two minutes. This cycle is repeated for 20 to 25 minutes. Or, you can run the straights on the track and jog/walk the curves for 20 minutes.

Thank you, enjoy, and good health to you.

Monday, September 16, 2013

FitBit Link Coming Soon

Ladies and gentlemen, I have recently been using FitBit to track my activities and food consumption. I like the tools so much that I wanted to place a banner for the company on my blog. In furtherance of that, I post this code GVSNBNM10853037 for their agents to see, per protocol. Once my link is up and running, I will be so thrilled as this system is so much fun!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Abs -- What Works

There have been articles written about sculpting your midsection, your abs. We have done countless scrunches, tons of trunk twists, and too many leg lifts. Most people make the mistake of only training their abdominal core.

There are more muscles in play than just "the abs". For trunk stability, a more fit look, and sexy torso people need to understand and train the muscles in play. From the picture below you will see the six muscles involved in gaining that sexy middle that we are all striving for.

Don't just work abs, work the core to include the abdominal obliques as well as the abdominal core ... but, how?

I found an article at Fit Watch ( about 9 different exercises that are done one set each for each ab workout. The routine also requires some specific equipment. This would mean that we either go to a gym or buy that weightlifting equipment for home. Not sure about you, but no equipment and simplicity are on my short list.

There are back muscles that also help with core stability, for now, though, we will look only at the abs.

Bicycle crunches are a mainstay in this. The bicycle crunch will work both your rectus abdominus (the abs), the big one down the middle, and the obliques.

Doing bicycle crunches is simple. Lay flat on your back with your hands laced behind your head. Bend your knees and lift your legs up while lifting your upper body at the same time.

Once in that position you will bring your right knee to your left elbow. You will extend your left leg straight out and twist your torso touching your knee with your elbow activating your obliques. Now, bring your left knee up and your right elbow together. Do as many repetitions as you can.

I follow up with an immediate set of regular crunches. I do these until reaching the point of muscular failure. You may want to do a bit less it you are just starting out. Also, doing this routine every other day will allow your body time to recover for your next session

These two exercises, bicycle crunches and regular crunches, will work the obliques and the core. My results when I first started doing these I went from a 40 inch waist to a 36 in a month.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Quick and Fun

It was mentioned in an earlier posting that kids need a minimum of 15 minutes to improve their health. So, here's a quick idea that is a blast for the younger kids and fun for the parents, too. Take them to a softball diamond for kickball. Parents, play with the idea of keeping them running. I hammed it up with my three younger ones for 30 minutes. No points, all of us running, having fun, and gettin fit.

Try it and please share your experience with it.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

What Should I Weigh?

This is a question that is on, or should be on, everybody's mind. With a population that is 1 in 3 obese, what should we each weigh? I did some tooling around with this myself. I had been a power lifter for many years. The Navy classified me as obese for the longest time. Based on my heck, chest, and waist measurements along with my weight, then between 235 and 245 pounds, I was called obese. I exercise almost daily, but am still told by the VA that I am overweight. The question is how do we calculate our ideal weight?

There are several methods which can be used. I caution you to use them at your own risk. 

Body Mass Index, or BMI, is a calculation that boggles me. I present the calculations below in both metric and imperial units:
  • BMI metric units: Your weight (kilograms) divided by the square of your height (meters)
    e.g. Weight 80 kilograms. Height 1.8 meters.
    1.82 meters = 3.24
    80 divided by 3.24 = BMI 24.69.

  • Imperial units: Your weight (pounds) times 703, divided by the square of your height in inches.
    e.g. Weight 190 pounds. Height 6 ft (72 inches)
    722 = 5184
    190 x 703 divided by 5184 = BMI 25.76
Health authorities worldwide mostly agree that:
  • People with a BMI of less than 18.5 are underweight.
  • A BMI of between 18.5 and 25 is ideal.
  • Somebody with a BMI between 25 and 30 is classed as overweight.
  • A person with a BMI over 30 is obese. 
According to my doctors, I have my BMI is 28.6. To them, I am borderline obese. I run at least 3 miles a day, do 200 jumping jacks, 200 seal jacks, 2 minutes of crunches, and I am up to 55 burpees. Clearly, I am not obese; however, according to the physicians who look at my charts, I am borderline ... Is an intriguing little page. This page asks you if you are male or female and how tall you are. The page then proceeds to tell you how much you should weigh. When I put in my numbers the site tells me that I should weigh 140 to 189 pounds. When I was in that range, i was very skinny and gangly.Check it out and see what you get.

There are several ways to measure and calculate what you should weigh and how much body fat you have. Skin calipers, water displacement, BMI, waist to hip, and the list goes on.

None of this answers the question of "Am I fat?" Let's face it, that is what we are asking. Do the naked mirror jump test. Stand in front of a mirror nude and jump up. Body fat jiggles, muscle and bone don't.

Is your doctor concerned about your weight? If yes, then keep at it.

If not, are you able to be happy with how your body is now? I know I am.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Walking and Health

Let's face it, Americans are getting fatter. I am not a doctor, so check with yours about what I am telling you, but statistics show that one in three Americans are obese. As a nation, we are getting fatter. The truth is, as adults and parents, it is our responsibility to do something about it. Get it straight, this is not for the government to solve, not a pill or drug to solve it, but our own choice. If you worry about your kids being obese as children, then you must get off the couch and start walking.

Take a look at the benefits that you will feel yourself and share with your children. Walking is easy. Just as easy as turning off the computers and TVs.

One benefit of walking is it strengthens your bones and, by keeping moving, lowers your risk of arthritis. How cool is that? You don't necessarily have to take a calcium pill and extra vitamin D or a medication to improve your bone health. Get outside in the sun (vitamin D production in your body will drastically increase). As your D increases this will allow your body to absorb the calcium that your are taking in.

According to a 1996 report done by the Cooper institute in Dallas, TX that was also supported by the Surgeon General exercising helps lower your risks of several diseases. Many of which are cardiovascular. This report advises 30 minutes, at least, of moderate exercise seven days a week. Yes, every day. Try to see it as moving more every day that you are in your body.

I get, it, life is often a four letter word. Not many people find that they have a 30 minute block of time every day. So, get a pedometer or a FitBit ( to track your walking. It's too easy!

Walking, a moderate exercise, strengthens your bones, keeps your joints healthy, reduces your risk of heart disease, and it lifts your mood. When exercising, our bodies release endorphins into our brains. Endorphins are the feel-good chemicals.

Walking, all it costs is some good sneakers. Take your family with you and make certain that you are living better together.


It occurs to me that, as I am a bit psycho when it comes to exercising. I kick box, grapple, do military style calisthenics, I am planning out a training cycle to bike from Boston to D.C. next July. Yes, I kind of go through the wall and there is no need for me to take you, my readers, through the wall, too. So, as I was out walking, I figured we should take a brief look at walking.

There are so many articles out there covering the benefits of walking. Lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, relieving stress. You know, I didn't see very many articles that talk about finding things in nature with your children.

I take my kids on walks. They run and play. They discover the world around them. One afternoon, my oldest daughter found a praying mantis. My boys love looking for bird feathers and learning to whistle bird calls.

All this fun without computers, and without knowing they are getting fit in the process.

Take your family out to the national parks and forests. Share the thrill of exploring and getting healthier together.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Make it Fun

My oldest daughter is reluctant to participate unless she is swimming. She will tolerate hikes at one of the various nature centers, though. The younger three, ages 9. 9, and 7 (almost 8 she reminds me) enjoy morning kugs and bicycling. Before we get into the what to do's let's take a quick look at some of the why's first.

As adults, it is generally held that we need at least 30 minutes of getting up off our duffs to improve our health. Which fits with the guidelines that my lifting coach gave me a lifetime ago. That is, 20 minutes to start burning body fat. 20 minutes to get the engine burning that fuel. At that time I made my minimum cardio time 30 minutes. Then, I read this was a good thing. This was what doctors were recommending more than 20 years ago. But, what about kids? Do they need that much time, too?

Fitness Magazine published an article that states children need only 15 minutes of good, hard, body moving events to lower their risk of type 2 diabetes. Apparently, slim kids are moving 12 minutes more each day than their overweight classmates. 12 to 15 minutes a day for kids to improve their health.

Teens, I feel, can benefit from the 15 minutes daily; however, as one of mine is a teen I still try to get her to move for 30 minutes of easy walking.

What are some of the fun things we can do to get our kids moving? I am a big kid. I look for lots things that ARE fun. I enjoy squat thrusts, bodybuilders, push-ups, pull-ups, and so on. One of my 9 year olds had me give him a version of the Army physical fitness test. What the three younger ones enjoy is going to the track with me every morning.

Each morning of the work week I get out to the track with these three little troopers. I jog with my dog while my trainees jog or ride their bicycles. 30 minutes each morning and then they go off to school. It's too easy.

But, I know that most kids do not like this sort of thing.Teach them some of our old gym games. Red Rover, Red Light Green Light, play tag with them. On a Saturday morning take them to the zoo. That will clock up some quick miles and fun time. If it is raining or too cold out, go to a museum. Snowing? Get them to help shovel with you.

These ideas do not have to run all day, just 30 minutes. The limit is your own creativity. Do it with your children and you will find better health and better family ties. At least I have found this.Come on, Moms and Dads, get your bicycles out of the garage and get out their with your kids. They won't do it without you.