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fasted cardio tips 2018

Does working out on an empty stomach burn more fat? Should I be doing fasted cardio to see results?

What is Fasted Cardio?

If you google “fasted cardio”, there will be plenty of blog posts with conflicting opinions on whether this form of exercise is effective or not.

Fasted cardio is the theory that doing cardio in a fasted state burns more fat. Some say it is effective while others say it is dangerous. Both are right in this argument. It is effective when you do it right and harmful when you do it wrong. You can burn stubborn fat and you can burn lean muscle. It’s all about doing it the right way to see the best results.

In this article we will discuss: what fasted cardio is/is not, the science of fasted cardio, how to maximize fat burning and not muscle burning, what types of fasted cardio are best and what about fasted weightlifting and more.

he so pissed at me 🐶💦😂 | skin by @fpskin

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What Fasted Cardio is / is Not

Fasted cardio is any type of cardiovascular exercise done in a fasted state.Training on an empty stomach is not fasted cardio. Training in a fasted state is fasted cardio.

Let’s break down what a fasted state is:

Basically, when you eat food, it gets broken down and released into your blood. A fasted state means you have completely digested and absorbed your last meal. Insulin is released and depending on how much food you ate, your levels can remain high for several hours or in a “fed” state. Once your body has finished processing and absorbing the nutrients, your insulin levels drop to a “minimum” level and your body enters that “fasted” state.

So in summary: exercising when insulin levels are high is “fed” training and exercising when insulin levels are low is “fasted” training. A great time to exercise to ensure you’re in a fasted state would be in the morning before your first meal of the day.

Okay now, lets talk about how fat burning relates to these states.

fasted cardio exercises

The Science of Fasted Cardio

Your body does not burn fat when it is in a fed state. It stores it. Insulin processes nutrients and breaks down fatty acids. The higher your insulin levels, the less your body is going to use fat for energy.

Your body is going to use the food for energy instead of the stored fat and whatever food it doesn’t use it will store as fat for later. YIKES!

So, if we burn more fat than we store, we lose weight and if we store more fat than we burn we gain weight.

It is important that fasted cardio is paired with a proper diet for it to be effective. Energy balance is the number of calories you consume through food vs. the number of calories you burn though activity. If you are positive energy balance you are consuming more calories than you are burning. If you are negative energy balance you are burning more calories than you are consuming. There must be a deficit for you to see the results you’re hoping for meaning you have to burn more calories than you consume to lose weight.

There are other factors like hormonal balance, stress, sleep, and fitness level also come into play. Counting calories and exercising is not always the only factor.

There are two parts to fat loss: lipolysis and fat oxidation.

Lipolysis is the break down of fat cells. Fat oxidation is the actual burning of fatty acids by cells. A lot of people think fasted cardio is worthless.They think fat oxidation rates aren’t affected in a fed state, just lipolysis rates so all that happens is your body mobilizes many more fat cells than it can actually burn. Research has proven that when insulin levels are high they burn less fat cells in both trained and untrained individuals.

For women, butts, thighs, and hips are probably the most stubborn areas to lose fat. For men, it is your lower abs and lower back. Our fat cells have two types of receptors; beta-receptors which speed up fat burning, and alpha receptors that hinder it. The alpha receptors are in those trouble spots, making them more “resistant” to being mobilized.

The more beta receptors a fat cell has, the more “receptive” it is to fat burning. The areas that lose fat quickly are the ones with more beta receptors and the areas that do not are alpha receptors. Those areas also have a problem that relates to blood flow. If you have ever noticed that your trouble areas are colder to touch than your tighter areas this is because there is less blood flowing through there.

So how does fasted cardio help?

Blood flow in the stomach area is increased when you’re in a fasted state, which means catecholamines get burned easier.

Catecholamines are chemicals that break down fat cells into usable energy. They travel through your blood and attach to fat cells, which trigger the release of the energy stored within the cells so it can burn off.

What Types of Fasted Cardio are Best?

“High-Intensity Interval Training” is ranked number one by many studies that have proven shorter sessions of intense cardio results in more fat loss over time compared with longer, steady sessions. Research shows that it increases your metabolism, improves insulin sensitivity, increases your muscles’ ability to burn fat for energy, elevates grow hormones, and decreases post-exercise hunger.

By keeping cardio sessions short, it will help you persevere muscle and strength because the longer you train in a fasted state, the more muscle you potentially lose. This type of cardio uses your body’s twitch muscles, which have metabolism and hormonal benefits. HIIT will improve your cardiovascular health more than any other exercise. It can be done as sprints, stair-master, rower, jump rope, bike, or a combo of cardio and strength drills.

The point is to keep it short and intense.

HIIT is also known for the “afterburn” effect.

Meaning after your workout is finished you still burn additional calories for up to an hour.

fasted weightlifting

What About Fasted Weightlifting?

Weightlifting fasted is worthwhile because it causes an increase in plasma catecholamine levels (the chemicals that break down fat) which makes them able to mobilize fat better. You may feel weaker during your first couple weeks beginning the fasted weightlifting because carbohydrates improve your performance in the gym immensely.

As your body slowly adapts to training in this fasted state, it will learn to preserve glycogen and better preserve your performance. If you’re looking to get rid of stubborn fat, fasted weightlifting definitely works faster compared to a fed state.

How to maximize fat burning and not muscle burning:

One question that comes up often is will this promote the loss of lean muscle mass?

We get it, the last thing you want to happen is that all your hard work starts disappearing from your body.

Exercising in a high intensity fasted state can lead to burning muscle mass. If you damage and break down too many muscle cells in your workouts, your body will not be able to keep up. Fasted cardio is for losing fat faster. It is not so good at maintaining muscle but can be done if you do it right.

To maintain muscle mass and keep your body burning fat, you should use a moderately strong calorie deficit and eat high protein meals. It is also important to pair resistance training with fasted cardio either after your cardio session, or in-between cardio days. Lastly, do not do more than four-session per week, and no more than 30 minutes per session.

fasted cardio weight loss


It is highly recommended to add supplements into you fitness regimen in order to increase the benefits of fasted cardio while eating a balanced diet. Caffeine, a natural supplement, increases energy and therefore increases the amounts of energy your body burns in a day. It also improves strength, promotes muscle endurance, and enhances anaerobic performance.

Another supplement is BCAAs or B-Hydroxy B-Methylbutryate (HMB). This will help prevent muscle loss and will reduce the amount of time your body needs to recover from a workout. It will also help increase strength. It also has no effect on insulin levels and won’t break your fasted state like food before your workout.

Gym Junkies also has some great supplements that pair with fasted cardio, you can find them here.


Although to lose fat and get lean you don’t have to train fasted, it is definitely an effective fitness regimen that shows results. This is especially valuable for those that are already somewhat lean because you will be dealing with that stubborn fat that can take awhile to disappear with just regular diet and exercise.

Once you try HIIT training in a fasted state you will see remarkable results and finally burn that excess fat you been hanging on to and your endurance will improve tremendously.

Fat loss is a whole-body process and by focusing on what your goals are you can determine whether adding fasted cardio is going to be effective for you.

-Megan Heaton

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Ruck MarchMembers of the military love to hate ruck marching, from when they were in boot camp to the end of their careers. It makes our warfighters to be in great shape and prepared for whatever comes their way. Ruck marching has recently become popular for civilians and mainstream culture.

You find numerous type challenges out there from the Tough Ruck in Boston, MA, the Go Ruck challenges, to the Bataan Memorial Death March in New Mexico.

Those challenges are typically over 20 miles long and last all day.

What makes rucking so popular?

What is a ruck march?

What is a Ruck March

The word ruck comes from the military term of “rucksack” or, in civilian terms, a backpack that is loaded with gear.

When I was in the Army a typical ruck would way anywhere from 50 to 100 lbs.

I remember while in Iraq I decided to weigh myself wearing all the gear that I typically have during operations. At the time I weighed 225lbs, 60 lbs body armor or Individual Body Armor (IBA as its officially called in the Army), and a 100 lbs rucksack. I weighed 385 lbs total. I did not even account for my weapon and helmet.

I am going to assume I weighed 400 lbs with all that gear.

Pretty heavy huh?

What’s funny is my body adapted to that weight. Our bodies are pretty resilient and can adapt very quickly to various conditions that we put our bodies through.

You don’t have to put that much weight into your ruck to gain any sort of benefits of rucking. You just put 30 to 50 lbs in your ruck and go for a nice “leisure walk”.

Benefits of Rucking…

Typically, if you speed walk, without a ruck for about 1 hour you burn anywhere from 300 to 400 calories. If you add a 50 lbs ruck you burn anywhere from 500 to 600 calories when you walk for an hour with a ruck.

You can use up a lot of calories for you go for more than an hour. In the military, during training, we not only ruck to our objective but we also assault our objective. Sometimes the instructors never told us how far we are going but the only thing we knew was what time to be ready to Ruck.

Usually, it would be around 4:00 am.

We sometimes ruck and get “ambushed” and we have to fight through the ambush, so we are spending a lot more calories when you add all these stressors.

I will go through some workouts to do, if you choose, while you ruck if you want to challenge yourself.                                                          

When we work out, at some point we get back pain. That is sometimes due to poor posture from sitting at our desks, cars, police cars, wearing a duty belt, IBAs, and various other things. Our backs eventually take a beating.

Stu McGill, Ph.D. professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo in Ontario and the author of Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance says, “when you hit the gym, if you lift with your back flexed it can cause a potentially-painful disc bulge, says, “People who have developed a disc bulge often lean forward when walking.

This makes your situation worse because your body has to fire your back muscles even harder to hold your torso up. That puts more stress on the disc bulge, says McGill. – Men’s Health Article BY MICHAEL EASTER DECEMBER 25, 2015

Dr. McGill also states that “Throwing a weighted backpack on and going for a walk actually helps hold your torso up, so your back muscles don’t have to work as hard.”

“The net effect is that less compression is put on your spine, and the flexed forward posture that inflames the disc is reduced,” says McGill. “And it can also work disc gel (a disc bulge is caused by extruded disc gel) back into the middle of your disc, reducing the bulge.” – Men’s Health Article BY MICHAEL EASTER DECEMBER 25, 2015 

It’s Easy (And Inexpensive) To Do 

All you are doing is going for a walk. You can pretty much ruck anywhere. You can throw a ruck on and walk with your family around the neighborhood.

Rucks are cheap to purchase and putting weight on them is easy. Like I stated before, you can use dumbbells, plates, and anything else you can think of to make it weigh more. In the military, all they use is extra clothing and shoes. I remember when I would pack my ruck it would weigh anywhere from 30 to 50 lbs.

That is just clothing and some survival gear! 

It Gets You Out Of The Gym

The gym eventually gets boring, running gets old, and it’s always great to change up your routine.

Rucking gets you outside, gets you in the sun, gets you away from all the distractions of the gym. Sometimes it is nice to just go outside and take a walk.

Let’s face it, your average gym workout can become arduous. And once your routine becomes routine, you stop caring and your fitness plateaus. Outdoor exercise also throws something new at your brain.

Rucking Workout Plan (How to start)

#1 Choose Your Ruck

If you want an old-school military rucksack you can go any Army surplus store and check what they have. Below is a picture of what it looks like. There are many other types but just so you have an idea.

This rucksack has a metal frame in the back.

#2 Choose The Weight

If you’re a beginner I would recommend starting with 15 lbs. If you start heavy you risk burning out too soon. You need to build up your strength. Don’t stress out if you’re a couple pounds higher or lower than 15 lbs.

Stay on 15 lbs for a couple of weeks then gradually work your way to 35 lbs. I wouldn’t recommend going any higher than that. Your body begins to break down if you go higher than that.

#3 Load Your Ruck

For weight, you could throw a dumbbell, Olympic plates, sandbags, etc. in your pack. There are companies out there that sell fancy plates for rucking, just look online for them.

#4 Choose Your Boots/Shoes

An important part of rucking, probably the most important is your shoe selection. In the military, they issued me jungle boots to use. These days, I use more comfortable boots to ruck in. You will need to break your boots or shoes in. Start walking in them immediately after buying them. Wear them for a couple of days before putting on a pack and rucking.

The boots I wear are Solomon boots or 5.11 brand hiking shoes.

#5 Get A Good Pair Of Insoles

Your feet will thank you later. Insoles will help cushion your steps when you have weight on your back. Make sure you get your feet measured before buying insoles so you can make sure they fit in your new boots/shoes.


You can walk at a fast pace. If you run, there is a risk that you could injure your lower back. I know what you’re probably thinking; you’ve seen soldiers on TV running with their rucks. Soldiers go through extreme physical training to handle all that weight.

Additionally, they are not really running, it’s more of a trot.

US Army Special Forces Ruck March

Below is straight out of the US Army Special Forces Ruck March training guide. Look them over.

(1) The weight of body must be kept directly over feet, and sole of shoe must be flat on the ground taking small steps at a steady pace.

(2) Knees must be locked on every step in order to rest muscles of the legs (especially when going uphill).

(3) When walking cross-country, step over and around obstacles; never step on them.

(4) When traveling up steep slopes, always traverse them; climb in zigzag pattern rather than straight up.

(5) When descending steep slopes, keep the back straight and knees bent to take up the shock of each step. Dig in with heels on each step.

(6) Practice walking as fast as you can with a rucksack. Do not run with a rucksack. When testing, you may have to trot to maintain time but try not to do this during training, it may injure you.

(7) A good rucksack pace is accomplished by continuous movement with short breaks (5 minutes) every 6 to 8 miles.

custom meal plan

We went over some of the benefits of rucking and why you should add it to your cardio regiment. It will work you hard and it is something different. Your leg muscles will scream at you because you just introduced something new to them.

We also went over the number of calories you burn just by walking with a ruck. Remember, if you add a 50 lbs ruck you burn anywhere from 500 to 600 calories when you walk for an hour with a ruck.

Now that you have all you need to go ahead and Ruck!

-Detective Ayman Kafel

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Sprint Star Training

Ah, sprinting. The activity that could save your life if you were ever chased by dinosaurs or The Wolf Man (as long as your faster than the person next to you). Sprinting is also one of those activities you either love or hate. Today we will explore Sprint Star Training and if it’s right for you!

Of course, when you’re going for the perfect physical body you need to become comfortable with being uncomfortable and do things you don’t really like in order to improve. Regardless of what you feel about sprinting, it is one of the best ways to burn calories quickly. Naturally, you can’t sprint for as long as you can jog, but with proper training, you can maximize the effects of your sprinting.

So whether you’re training for a particular athletic activity or you’re just doing it for boosting your appearance, finding the right sprint training will present you with all sorts of benefits. Sprint star training, sprint interval training or however else you want to refer to it is a workout activity you should consider.

Is it any good and can it provide you with the potential benefits you’re looking for?

Keep on reading because we’ve got the answers for you. 

What is Sprint Star Training?

Alright, so if you try to Google this you’ll end up locating a few dozen ways to log into your Sprint wireless mobile account.

Dig past offers for switching your wireless contract and you’ll come across an assortment of great ways to workout and make improve your sprinting workout.

Basically, if you want to become a sprinting star, these training methods are designed for you. Even if you don’t have dreams of racing Mr. Bolt from Jamaica and just want to improve your cardiovascular performance, sprint interval workouts provide you with exactly that.

Sprint interval training is a form of HIIT training. HIIT, short for high-intensity interval training, means you go all out and put as much as you can into a certain activity for a short period of time, followed by a cool down period. For sprinting it is pretty straightforward. You’ll sprint, then go for a walk or jog, before sprinting again (alright, it is a bit more complex than that and we’ll get into it more, but those are the basics).

The purpose of a sprinting HIIT training method has several reasons behind it. 

First, it forces your heart rate to increase and drop back down in a short period of time. This strengthens your heart, which in turn allows it to pump more oxygen and blood through your body. With a stronger heart, you’ll improve your performance in nearly anything you do. On top of this, it helps build cardiovascular endurance, burn more calories in a shorter period of time, boosts your metabolism and, possibly best of all, you don’t need a gym or really any kind of equipment to do it.

So no matter what kind of athlete you are, what you are training for or even what shape you are in, the sprint star training is an excellent addition to your workout routine.

You just need some examples as to what to do and whether or not you should be performing this kind of a HIIT workout (there are some people who may want to look elsewhere based on their current health conditions).

Remember to Warm Up

When going through high school athletic events you were always taught to stretch, stretch and stretch some more. 

Stretching is good, but there are some cases where stretching may actually prove unnecessary or detrimental. Running is not one of those times. You don’t want to just hop out of the car and go into a dead sprint. That is a really quick way to cramp up. If you’ve ever had one of those instant pain inducing Charlie horse cramps pop up out of nowhere, you understand the sheer pain of the matter (as a bit of trivia, if you’ve ever wondered where the term “Charley Horse” came from, it is in reference to a 1880s pitcher named Charley Radbourne who had the nickname “Old Hoss” and he suffered such a muscle spasm during a game, so the condition is now named for him).

Stretching out is a must here in order to avoid these kinds of cramps and spasms. Also, make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. This is one of the main reasons why you do cramp up. You don’t need to spend a half hour stretching out your legs like that guy on the side of the track who seems to have been wearing the same short-short jogging shorts for the last half-century.

A few minutes stretching the muscles through your legs is all it takes.

After touching on your stretching, take a jog around wherever you’ll be sprinting. If you’re at the track, take a nice, leisurely jog around the track. If you’re just in your neighborhood take a comfortable jog around the block. You don’t need to set any speed records. In fact, slower is better here as you want to save the energy for your sprints.

The entire purpose of the jog here is simply to warm up your legs (especially if you’ve been sitting at a desk all day) and get the blood and oxygen flowing through your body (Coach Calorie, 2017).

Sprint Star Training Example Workout

When it comes to sprint star interval training workouts, there really is no limit to the kinds of workouts you can perform. The following workout is recommended by Joselynne Boschen, who is a Nike Master trainer (and had the recommended sprint workout printed in GQ magazine).

After your warmup session, prepare yourself for your sprint. You can start in a sprinter’s stance or just go from a standing position. If you’re looking to improve your performance for a physical race coming up it is always best to practice how you’ll begin the race, which is likely your sprinter’s stance. Outside of this, it is a personal preference.

Begin the workout with a 45-second sprint. Go as hard as you can. The point is to put it all on the line. If you feel you can go faster, go faster. You can use a digital watch to show you the time, or there are applications you can install onto your phone that will let you know timing with sounds over your headphones (after all you probably don’t want to be constantly looking down at your wrists). After 45 seconds don’t just stop, but instead, walk for 15 seconds. This brings your heart rate crashing back down to normal. After 15 seconds, repeat the same process another time (after performing the workout for a few weeks and your lungs become accustomed to the sprinting, bump this up to repeating it two more times instead of once).

Following the 2-3 times through, spend 20 minutes jogging at half speed. You don’t need to go hard with this 20 minutes. Instead, it is designed just to keep your muscles loose (if you stop, your muscles will begin to cool off, which makes going back into the workout difficult). Even if you need to go for a brisk walk when you first start this particular workout it is fine. Just keep moving.

Following your 20 minute half jog, you’ll perform the 45-second sprint and the 15-second walk another one to two times to complete the HIIT workout. You’ll finish off the entire workout in less than 30 minutes, and yet you’ll feel this longer than any other cardio workout you’ve probably done in a long time. This is because you are forcing your body to the limit every single time you sprint. In other forms of cardio exercise, you’re not going all out.

The only way to build your endurance and improve performance is to push your peak, which is exactly what the sprint star training method is so valuable.

A Second Sprint HIIT Training Option

The previous workout you can carry out in under 30 minutes. It is also a bit more extreme as you have substantially more sprinting then resting time. If you’re just getting back into running you may find you just can’t complete the entire circuit yet. Don’t worry if you can’t and don’t give up. We have a shorter option for you. This way, whether you have even less time to get your cardio in or you can’t make it the full 30 minutes, you’ll be able to work your way through this workout, which can be completed in less than 16 minutes (if you do it straight through). The great thing about a 16-minute workout is by the time you realize just how to beat and tired you are the entire thing is almost over.

This workout was published in the 2013 ACSM Health and Fitness Journal, so it has been researched as an excellent way to take advantage of sprinting during your workout routine. To start, you’ll want to perform a two-minute jog. Again, don’t go all out. This is more about warming yourself up than anything else.

The workout itself is straightforward. Sprint as hard as you can and as fast as you can for 15 seconds, then walk for 30 seconds. Repeat this 20 times. Because you are walking for twice as long as you sprint, it is a great way to begin building up your endurance. In addition, because you are sprinting for such a short amount of time it is easier to give it your full 100% without slowing down. So feel free to start with this workout before moving on to the other option.

How Often Should I Use the Sprinting Interval Routine?

It all comes down to you. You should do it anywhere from one to three days a week. Do not do it on leg day though. You could actually end up reducing potential size gains as your muscle tissue is already damaged from the lifts and now you’ll compound it with the sprinting. Instead, use this on off days. Ideally, it is best to perform the sprinting routine two days after your leg day, but if you hit your legs every other day, it is best to either fit it in between or perform it on the weekend when you have a bit more time to recover (Shape, 2015).

Who Shouldn’t Do Sprinting Workouts?

As we mentioned towards the beginning of the article, there are some people who should avoid sprinting workouts.

If you have any kind of knee injury or suffer from joint pain it is best to avoid this workout. Even though it is short, it is a high-impact workout. Instead, there are other HIIT workouts you can do that cut out the impact on your knees. In reality, you can use just about any cardio machine for this. If you like using a bicycle at the gym, perform the same workout on a bike or an elliptical machine. You can even do it in the pool.

While sprinting requires the least amount of equipment, for some people it just is not an option.


Sprinting is one of the very best ways to burn calories fast. It pushes your entire body into overdrive and requires your heart rate to increase dramatically.

Combined with periods of rest in between, you’ll quickly discover the importance of sprinting in your workout. Now, sprinting is something many of us hate doing. Really anything involved with running is a bit of a drag. If you suffer from knee pain it is best to avoid these kinds of sprint star training workouts, but if your knees are fine and pain-free, you owe it to yourself to try it out. You’ll quickly build up your endurance and, in just a few weeks, you won’t have the burning sensation in your lungs any longer.

Best of all, with both 30 and 15-minute workout options, it is possible to fit these workouts in just about anywhere and at any time.

-Terry Asher

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double unders

If you’re a child of the 90s or earlier, chances are you saw a good amount of jumping rope back in elementary gym class. Today we will explore how to do double unders!

The ropes, which were probably covered in plastic sections (and no doubt had been around the school since the 70s based on the color schemes), offered excellent ways to get kids jumping and moving.

Most gym teachers (at least the better ones) would often try to think outside the box with their jump ropes. One reader told us his teacher would role out a record player and have students jump rope to Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust,” and if you messed up jumping rope before the end of the song, you had to sit down (aka “you were another one to bite the dust).

Regardless of your previous experience with jumping rope though, one of the more elusive routines is, and always has been, the double under.

This is where the rope makes two passes under your feet instead of one. How do you perfect such a move?

How do you perfect such a move?

And is it even worth doing at all (if you’re playing Queen in the background yes, yes it is)?

We’ve got all the insights and answers to your double under questions right here!

Isn’t Jumping Rope for Kids?

Have you driven past a park or playground lately?

Kids aren’t playing on equipment any longer (unless by the equipment you mean smartphones and virtual reality headgear).

So since children aren’t playing jump rope any longer, it’s time for the adults to take up the slack!

Joking aside (although we really aren’t joking as most children are not spending enough time outside, playing, riding bikes and exercising), jumping rope is a great cardio tool you should take advantage of.

When it comes to burning calories, few cardio exercises can match that of rope jumping.

Even if you just mildly jump rope, you can burn anywhere from 10 to 16 calories a minute. Pack this into three different 10-minute sessions and you’ll blast away 480 calories in just a half an hour. This means you’re coming really close to burning almost 1,000 calories in an hour worth of jumping rope.

Outside of swimming, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any other cardio exercises capable of matching this (Shape, 2017).

Are you more of a jogger for your cardio (or maybe you’d like to be but your knees just can’t take the constant pounding of jogging)? Jumping rope for 10 minutes, according to Science Daily, gives you the same results as running an eight-minute mile. So if you’re looking for a way to switch up your cardio, jumping rope is an incredibly effective way to burn off the calories.

Improve Your Agility

Jumping rope is more than just a solid way to blast away calories during your cardio workout. It is also an excellent way to improve your overall agility. While jumping rope, you do so on the balls of your feet. Because you remain on the balls of your feet throughout the duration of your jumping rope time, your body has to adjust in order to maintain balance. In order to do this, your body performs what is known as neural muscular adjustments. So by repetitively jumping with the rope, you’ll improve your overall balance and coordination.

There is a reason why boxers spend a considerable amount of time jumping rope. It’s not because they don’t have access to better cardio equipment. We’re pretty sure Floyd “Money” Mayweather has a few bucks available to toss at some cardio hardware. Jumping rope improves the quickness of your feet, assists with hand-eye coordination and boosts your overall quickness. So never think twice about workout out with a jump rope. After all, if the wealthiest modern athlete turns to a jump rope, so can you.

How to Pick Out the Right Jump Rope

There was nothing worse than being in gym class and being stuck with the wrong sized jump rope (alright, there are plenty of things worse than that, but at that time, at that moment, it was pretty frustrating). If you used a rope too short, you’d end up having to kick your legs way up in order to avoid tripping. If the rope was too long, you’d have so much slack the rope would die on ground impact. At school you may not of had much of a choice. However, you’re an adult and now you can pick out the right jump rope for your needs.

Generally speaking, the right jump rope length depends on your personal height. So, before heading out to the store (or firing up Amazon), make sure to take your personal height, with workout shoes on. Have it now? Good. We’ll give you some measurements for rope size. These recommended rope sizes are provided by RX Smart Gear, a company that specializes in jump ropes and Smart jump ropes (AKA jump ropes that count the number of jumps and provide you with other information, if you want to become a truly serious jump roper).

  • 5 feet tall – 7’10” jump rope
  • 5’6″ tall – 8’4″ jump rope
  • 6 feet tall – 9 foot jump rope

In case you didn’t notice a pattern (this isn’t the ACTs, after all), the jump rope becomes one inch longer for every inch taller you are. So take these given numbers and add, or subject, to find the perfect length of jump rope for your height. The good thing about most current jump ropes is you can adjust the length of the rope by a few inches. So if you can’t find a rope that is exactly your desired height, go with one that is slightly longer (just make sure the jump rope says it can be adjusted).

Now, what if you’re at the gym and picking out a jump rope from what is available? Chances are you don’t have a measuring tape in your gym bag. If that is the case, take hold of the jump rope and step on it right in the middle. Now, hold the jump rope out to your sides. The handles should be right at the base of your armpits.

This isn’t an exact science for selecting jump ropes, but in a pinch, it will work just fine.

Double Unders. Why, Oh Why, Should I Do Them?

Jumping rope is already a great way to torch calories, so why should you consider doing the double under?

Well, it isn’t about burning more calories. It is about taking your agility to the next level. It requires an additional level of coordination and it specifically builds the speed of your wrists (again, another reason why boxers love using the jump rope…Rocky wasn’t playing around when he busted out his jump rope and neither should you).

Think of jumping rope as riding a bike.

Once you have the technique figured out you’ll always remember how to do it. The double under is like the unicycle. Sure, you know how to ride a bike, but going to a unicycle requires additional balance and core strength. The double under builds on what you learned from jumping rope the regular way and now you need to take it to the next level. So if you want to get the most out of your jumping rope time, you’ll add in the double under.

What Am I Doing Wrong!?

You’ve probably tried the double under before.

Show of hands, were you able to do it?


Now were you able to do it without shoving your knees into your chin and your arms flailing out in order to get just the one double under?

Most of us can do a single double under if we really wind up, but that’s about it. A true double under shouldn’t look that much different from a regular rope jump. In fact, you flailing around is one of the biggest culprits behind why you probably haven’t been able to successfully perform a regular looking double under.

There are two major form problems you may be performing that prevents you from doing a double under. The first is turning your arms into windmills. If you’re swinging your arms like this you’re not doing it correctly. The thought process is to extend the length of the rope and, by doing that, give yourself more time to jump. It does make sound sense, but it actually slows the rope down (it takes longer for a longer rope to do a complete revolution and the drag the rope experiences running along the ground slows it down further) (Buy Jump Ropes, 2016).

The second problem is you’re jumping higher than necessary. Sure, jumping higher is a great way to burn more calories, but save that for the plyometrics workout.

How To Do Double Unders!

Okay, so we’re going to explain it here.

You’ll likely still mess up a bit, but that’s alright. 

You’re going to fall off that unicycle before you figure it out too, so don’t worry. By using these technique tips, you’ll get there.

First, keep your wrists tight and close to the body. Spinning the rope should not come from your arms. All of the tension and movement comes from your wrists. By using your wrists you’ll build more rope speed and keep it tighter to your body. Keep your wrists right at your waist level. All of the speed and power of your rope comes from your wrists.

Next, don’t change the way you jump at all. The jump from a single to a double under should never change. Some people kick their legs forward to give the rope more clearance when it travels behind them, but this is an ineffective way to jump rope.

Also, try your best not to move around. Once you start moving around with your jumps (such as side to side) you increase the chance of messing up (Daily Burn, 2014).

On top of all of this, pick up a “speed” jump rope. Those old-school jump ropes with the plastic is no good because the plastic will slow it down. It should look like a thing strain of rubber.

With all of this in mind, you can begin practicing your double under. As you may need to adjust your wrists from how you had been jumping rope, work on this first. Once you’ve mastered spinning from your wrists and building up speed, you can now begin to work on the double-spin.

And don’t worry.

You’ll get it before you know it. 

Workout Options

So you finally did your double under!

It’s time to celebrate!

After a brief celebration and a toast with your workout drink, it’s time to focus on your jump rope workout. There are a few different options to consider.

Here are a few of them. 

First, you can simply go with the 10-minute interval sections. This is a nice way to start out if you’re new to jumping rope because your wrists will start to hurt with the prolonged spinning (few other cardio exercises really focus on the wrists like this).

Since we’re doing double unders though, time yourself for 10 minutes. For the first minute, do single unders, then for the second minute, do all double unders. Repeat this until the 10 minutes is up. Do five rounds of this.

The third option is if you’ve mastered the double under and you feel good with your 10-minute intervals, time yourself to see how long it takes to hit 1,000 double unders (count it by jumps).

1,000 sounds like a lot, but once you’ve built up strength you shouldn’t have any problem getting this in less than 20 minutes (End of 3 Fitness, 2011).

In Conclusion

Jumping rope is a great way to burn calories, increase endurance and boost agility.

The double undertakes this to the next level. By following through with these tips, you should be able to begin performing double unders in no time.

Just make sure you invest in a quality jump rope as it does make a big difference.

-Terry Asher

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A few years ago, if you turned on your television at all you likely would have seen infomercials of a completely shredded man with great hair, cutting to VHS quality tapes of men and women working out in their basements, jumping around, doing pull-ups into their ceiling and who knows what else, all in the name of fitness.

The commercial would then show a beginning photograph of the either extremely skinny or somewhat overweight individual, usually with the complexion of someone who hadn’t seen sunlight in months, followed by an after photograph if the same person, demonstrating definite muscle growth and, poof, a tanner body.

Maybe they finally felt comfortable being outside with their improved body, or perhaps they hit the spray tanner before taking the “after” photograph. Regardless, these infomercials were for the workout routine P90X.

Since the introduction (or at least the infomercial boom, as the product did exist before going big time) of the workout method several years ago, popularity for it has dropped a bit, but there are still those who swear by it and others who make sure to always purchase the latest workout routine DVDs from P90X whenever an update comes out.

But in reality, is it really worth it?

Should you consider plunking down the hefty order fee for the series (or try to find it on YouTube before copyright infringement forces it down again)?

We’ve got all the answers and everything you need to know about P90X right here.

So keep on reading!

The Creator of P90X

When it comes to most workout routines, videos and other sold merchandise, the guys and girls on the videos are rarely the individuals who actually created the workout routine.

Sure, you have some of the major players in the world of fitness videos, like Billy Blanks with Tae Bo or Jillian Michaels with her lineup of workout content.

However, for the most part, if you’re picking up a video, it more than likely just features an extremely fit individual who is also able to read que cards on a studio set. That is not the case with P90X. Tony Horton, the guy with the excellent hair and personality on all of the workout videos, did, in fact, create the workout routine.

Tony managed to fit into the right crowd coming up. After graduating college, he worked random jobs, as most of us did. During this time, he lived in Southern California and, again, like much younger, fit guys, he decided to become a personal trainer. Eventually, one of his clients happened to be an executive at 20th Century Fox. Word tends to spread quickly in LA, and his client base grew to include individuals like Usher, Billy Idol, and Bruce Springsteen. His connections with major Hollywood players made it possible for Tony to begin creating workout videos.

Tony did work as a spokesperson for NordicTrack during the 1990s. Eventually, he went on to create his first real workout series, titled Power 90. This became the precursor to Power 90 Extreme, better known as P90X.

The Creation of P90X

The Power 90 exercise program was (and still is, as an updated version is available from Tony and Beachbody, the company he’s contracted with) a 90-day workout program, designed for people of all fitness levels.

With the program, Tony focused on cardio, light, yet challenging, weight work and some resistance training in the form of resistance bands (on the Beachbody website, Power 90 is marketed as a new version of P90X, but in fact it is the original, and the original DVDs are available on Amazon and eBay).

Power 90 did not break any sales records, but executives at Beachbody saw potential, so they approached Tony and requested him to create a workout routine for people in marginal to decent shape already, but who wanted to push themselves to the next level and really see their bodies develop.

So, Tony created Power 90 Extreme.

First a Word on Beachbody LLC

Before we go any further on P90X, we should probably say something about Beachbody. The company does have some of the highest grossing workout routines currently available, including P90X, Insanity, and Focus T25.

However, it does not generally sell to stores but instead uses an MLM (multi-level marketing) method.

Some will reference MLM as a pyramid scheme, as the only way someone makes money working for the company is if they enlist people to work under them to sell products, and then those people try to enlist people to sell the product.

Basically, money goes to the top and trickles down.

So just keep in mind, you likely will hear good things about the workout routines, and yet potentially bad things about Beachbody the company (and you likely have a half-dozen Facebook friends who are constantly trying to push workout videos, groups, shakes and other products on you all the time) (Cosmopolitan, 2015).

Back to P90X: What is it Exactly?

P90X is a resistance and cardio workout routine.

Often times you might ask yourself when should I change my workout?

Each day the workout, which is around an hour or so in length, focuses on a different area of the body. For example, on one day, the workout focuses exclusively on the chest and back. Another day focuses on shoulders and arms, while a third day is on legs and back. The entire, original P90X program contains 12 different “workouts.” The 12th “workout” is the Ab Ribber X, which is about 12 minutes of ab workouts that can be done in addition to the other workouts whenever desired. The workout videos also include cardio, yoga, and plyometrics.

Now, the principle of the workouts is referred to as “muscle confusion.” This is where the workout does not stay the same for long. So, while the first several weeks the chest and back workout are put together, after the initial portion of the 90 day workout period, it switches to back being placed with bicep workouts, while the chest is put with shoulders and triceps. The moves change as well in order to create this “muscle confusion” (more on this later).

Workouts do not revolve around sets of…followed by a given number. Instead, a set is timed. P90X recommends you write down your results after a session, so then the next time you’re back on the particular DVD, you can measure your results and try to beat your previous number.

Okay, So What’s the Deal with “Muscle Confusion”

Now, what exactly is muscle confusion, and is it actually something or is it just some marketing gimmick designed to sell workout DVDs?

Long story short, it is real and it is something, even if you don’t invest in P90X, you should bring into your workout.

Let’s use an example to better illustrate this.

Did you ever play a video game growing up where you figured out the pattern of how the bad guys would move?

You knew the route they would take and the timing, so every time you played the level you could get past them undetected, without any problem at all?

If you did, it likely got to the point where you wouldn’t even need to think about what you were doing. Your brain and muscle memory just took over. That is exactly what happens with your body if you perform the same workout routine.

Eventually, your body will expect certain lifts and moves. By not keeping your body off guard, it knows what to expect and will more or less go into cruise control. This drastically cuts down on your potential results. If you have been doing the same moves over and over, you’ve probably noticed a stagnant time at the gym.

You’re not getting larger muscles or seeing strength growth any longer. To jumpstart your workout routine, you need to toss in different moves your body isn’t use to, which in turn effectively “confuses” the muscles (Muscle and Fitness, 2014).

P90X does exactly this and is what helps make it so successful. After a few weeks of the initial workout run, it completely switches the workouts to slightly different moves, which confuses the muscles and allows you to continue building strength and muscle size.

So in this way, P90X does deliver on its claim for “muscle confusion.”

Do the P90X Workouts Work?…Depends on Who You Ask

When you put on “Disc 01: Chest & Back,” one of the first things you’ll hear Tony say in the introduction is “…the ultimate in push and pull.”

This is where some fitness professionals and physical trainers will say P90X could be better.

While not exactly the newest concept in workouts, many will tell you instead of breaking your workout down into upper body on one day and lower body on another (or in this case, chest and back in one, shoulders and arms on another and legs and back on a third), you should put all push moves on one day and pull moves on another.

In other words, if you physically push weight away from your body, such as a bench press, shoulder press and so on, these moves should be on one day, and all pull moves, like a curl, on another.

Because the moves work muscles in different manors it allows for optimal rest and recovery. There is backing to this kind of workout routine, but for the most part, it comes down to personal preference.

And, if you’ve ever done a P90X workout video, you’ve probably felt especially sore the next day (Men’s Fitness, 2017).

P90X Workout Options

P90X gives you a few options when it comes to the workout problem.

There is the basic program where you do one disc a day, plus the Ab Ripper (it says to do the Ab Ripper two or three times a week, but in reality you can train your abs every day, as it is just 10 minutes a day). There is an “extreme” option, that includes extra cardio on top of your resistance training.

Now, if you do decide to go with the extreme option, it is important to be mindful of your body and not over train. Over training can and will kill your potential results as it zaps all your additional protein, preventing you from increasing both your strength and size.

So make sure to listen to your body and slow down if necessary (BeachBody, 2017).

What Kind of Results Can I Expect and is it Right for Me?

P90X uses a combination of muscle confusion moves, high-intensity interval training and other calorie blasting moves to tone your muscles and burn fat (just make sure to follow the diet plan as well, because scarfing ring dings all day will always prevent you from dropping weight, regardless of what you do in the gym).

If you’re looking to tone your body, expose your abs and just look good naked, this is an excellent workout program and something that keeps it fresh, all without the need for a gym membership.

However, if you’re looking to put on massive size gains this likely isn’t the workout program for you. You’re not going to be using big weight.

You will blast and rip up nearly every muscle group in the body, but not with heavy weight, so if you want major muscle and strength gains, look elsewhere.

What Kind of Equipment is Needed?

The equipment is a small investment for P90X, but it isn’t that extreme. 

First, you will need a pull-up bar. You can purchase the specially designed pull-up bar from Beachbody (or that harassing social media friend you blocked from your feed a long time ago because you were tired of their “I just worked out and now I’m drinking a delicious Beachbody shake” posts), or you can pick one up from most stores that sell workout equipment.

These bars go in door frames and do not require drills (typically). As long as there are a few feet between the door frame and the ceiling you can use it.

On top of the pull-up bar, you’ll need dumbbells. It’s best to go with the adjustable options as then you can just buy individual plates as you grow in strength instead of brand new dumbbells. You’ll also need some resistant bands. In reality, you can be up and running for $50 or less (keep your eye out for garage sales as these are great locations to pick up cheap weight). You may end up paying more for the P90X workout series than the equipment.

If you buy the material directly from Beachbody the company will try to push the meal shakes, supplements,  protein bars and other products. However, you don’t need to buy these. If you simply follow a low calorie, high protein diet, you’ll basically be following the P90X recommended diet. Plus, there are far less expensive protein powders on the market.

Plus, offers less expensive and cleaner supplements on the market.

In Conclusion

The P90X workout series is a great series to get into if you’re already in decent shape and need a kick in the pants to go to the next level.

You can do it at home, which is nice, and while it does take a slight investment in equipment, it isn’t over the top. You won’t get huge or develop massive strength, but you will define your body, drop weight and see solid physical improvements.

You just need to stick with the 90-day program and watch your diet.

As long as you do this, you can, and likely will, see fantastic results. 

-Terry Asher

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Does Running Build Muscle Whether you love it or loath it, running is one of the oldest forms of staying in shape, burning calories and improving your fitness. But does running build muscle?

Of course, it started back when our ancestors were running away from saber tooth tigers and other extinct animals and they did so more for need than esthetic appearance, but running has always been around.

I’m sure you have heard the debate cardio before or after weights but…

As someone who cares about how you look, should you really consider running though?

Does it help build muscle or does it drag down your potential gains?

We have all the answers to your questions right here. 

Health Benefits Of Jogging

Before diving into how jogging may affect your body negatively, it is important to go over all the desirable health benefits.

For starters, jogging is excellent for the respiratory system. Any and all aerobic activities force your heart rate to increase. This transports more oxygen throughout the body as you push carbon dioxide out.

As you continually exert yourself through running, both your lungs and your heart must become more effective in transporting blood and oxygen through your body. Over time, the respiratory system in your body becomes more efficient in how it transports blood and oxygen.

A stronger respiratory system, in turn, helps with all other athletic and physical activities, including lifting.

You’ll deliver oxygen and blood to your worked muscles in a more efficient manner, potentially improving your lift as muscles recover faster.

Tied directly with the boost in your respiratory system is the improvement within the cardiovascular system.

As your heart beats faster, pushing blood through your body at a quicker pace, your body in return burns additional cholesterol. This reduces the amount of cholesterol in the blood stream. By cutting cholesterol in the blood stream you’ll not only have more room devoted to blood and oxygen, but you’ll become less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease.

By improving your cardiovascular system, you’ll strengthen your heart, which is a key component to any form of working out. So not unique to running, it is a benefit that works your heart in a different manner than weight lifting.

With the increase in your blood and oxygen circulation, your body will begin to look younger.

In order to help regenerate skin cells, your body needs blood and oxygen circulation. So while you will not turn back the clock on heavy wrinkles, it can help improve your overall complexion and appearance (Healthsomeness, 2017).

Does Running Build Muscle?

When you run, you work different muscle groups.

Naturally, you work most of your lower body, but is this the area you see most muscle gain?

After all, you usually don’t see people with massive thighs and gluteus running marathons. Instead, most are on the slender side. When running, it is actually your diaphragm muscles that are strengthened the most.

This is fantastic news if you are a singer, but you’re not going to head out to the beach and show off your diaphragm.

Running does work your lower body, including nearly all of the muscles within your legs as these muscles, are constantly targeted.

However, running is not going to build massive muscle for a few reasons.

First, the movement is more of an elongated stretch. It stretches the leg muscles, which targets all of the muscle fibers, but it doesn’t put the weight on your muscles as you would with a deadlift. Instead, it is best to look at jogging as you would performing a lift with an extremely light weight.

For example, consider performing a curl with a five or 10-pound weight. You might be able to perform dozens if not well over 100 reps of the weight before you’re maxed out. When you perform the sheer number of lifts, you’re not doing so to gain muscle size.

You’re doing it to help tone your body without adding the bulk. This is essentially what running does to your body. 

Negative Side Effects Of Running?

If you are a regular at the gym, you probably know the other regulars at the gym.

There’s always the guy on the stair stepper, sweating out a giant puddle under the machine. There’s the speed walking girl on the treadmill, who has the full hip sway going (as well as the water bottle belt).

You’ll see the same guys lifting big weights and the girl counterparts who you’re a bit terrified of. You likely know exactly the kind of workouts they do and how they do them. If there is an everyday jogger, you may have noticed they tend to wear additional support around their knees. They may say it’s to reduce tension on their joints, but in reality, it may because jogging is actually breaking their joints down.

It is important to point out that every workout has negative side effects when over performed.

Jogging is no different than anything else. There are some who swear by jogging every day. If they can do this pain-free more power to them.

However, over time, jogging every day can begin to break down your knee joints. 

Your knee joints are put through more stress than any other joints in the human body. These joints are fully flexible and yet must hold up your entire body weight.

This is why so many people receive knee replacements as they age. 

As you run, the cartilage and ligaments in your knees may start to break down.

As the important tissue breaks down, it increases the friction produced by your bones rubbing together. Jogging on cement increases this factor, so if you jog on a regular basis and suffer this kind of pain, you need to pull back, find a low-impact cardio workout and consider talking with your doctor.

Extended jogging can have another side effect on your body. Researchers at the Laval University in Quebec discovered that those who partake in jogging multiple times a week are more likely to suffer from lower testosterone levels.

This is because as it is a casual, repetitive workout, it does not force your body to engage in sudden bursts of strength, which helps increase testosterone.

Running intervals is better with avoiding this kind of an issue. By sprinting for short amounts of time, followed by a gentle jog, followed again by bursts of sprinting, you’ll challenge your heart and force the body into the suddenly charged performance (Telegraph, 2017).

But Does Running Prevent Muscle Growth?

First, to understand how running and jogging may or may not prevent muscle growth, you first need to understand what propels muscle growth.

Nutrition is a key aspect to building muscles.

You also need both carbs and fats to boost your muscle’s ability to recover following the workout. Protein helps build muscle while rest is essential. If you continually work the target muscle area the muscles will not grow.

This is where running and really any other cardio could be an issue.

Running is not unique on its own in regards to how it affects muscle growth, so it should not be singled out. Instead, running and all cardio should be lumped together.

After workout out your lower body, you’ve burned through most of the stored energy you have. Should you decide to go running later that day, the protein, carbs, and fats originally destined to help recover and build the damaged muscles now goes towards fueling your running cardio.

Ultimately, you could be stealing away possible energy from your muscles in order to perform your cardio.

This is why most extreme runners you see are so skinny.

It’s not simply because they burn through so many calories. Over time, the body’s ability to burn calories jogging is reduced but your cardiovascular endurance is getting better.

Instead, the body is thinner because the muscles do not have the available energy to recover and repair your muscles.

So that means you simply shouldn’t perform any kind of cardio, right?

No, that’s not accurate either. It is more about discovering the fine line of too much and not enough.

It is also about finding the right kind of cardio.

Remember how earlier we discussed how jogging is great for the cardiovascular system in that it increases blood flow and oxygen flow?

This is great for boosting muscle recovery and delivering necessary nutrients to your body.

In other words, running can be good for muscle gains and actually improve your ability to build muscle, you just need to know when and how much jogging is the right amount.

When And How Much Jogging?

You need to use jogging as a form of recovery cardio.

Also, you need to determine cardio after lifting or before hand…

However, you don’t want to immediately turn to it. After you spend a day working your lower body, you don’t want to immediately turn to jogging. This time should instead be dedicated to rest and allowing the muscle fibers to repair.

However, the next day is the perfect time to perform cardio with your lower body. As you work your upper body with weights, you can jog, which will not put any strain on your upper body and help deliver more oxygen to your lower body.

Realistically, you should only run two or three times per week. The day after your leg workouts is an excellent chance for you to perform lower body cardio such as jogging. You can also jog on your off days. If you have a heart tracker, shoot for around 100 to 120 beats per minute. As your body becomes accustomed to jogging it won’t beat as fast, which means you’ll need to increase the intensity.

However, you should only jog around 20-30 minutes at a time in order to prevent the jogging from cutting into your recovery and muscle gains.

There is another option though if you don’t want to just jog for 20 minutes a few times a week. Instead, you can look towards something known as Alactic Intervals.

This is where you target the fast twitching muscle fibers of your body and perform short bursts of athletic activities. For example, you sprint as hard as you can for 10 to 15 seconds.

You then rest for five times the length of time you sprinted for, then repeat and do this about five times. When you perform this kind of cardio workout, your heart rate actually elevates after you are done with the activity.

So while you’re running as hard as you can for 15 seconds, your heart is not able to catch up until after you have finished it. This strengthens your heart and yet does not take much out of your energy tank because you’re only going hard for 15 seconds (or a total of 75 seconds, if you’re doing it five times).

With an Alactic Interval workout, you can combine it with other quick burst performances, such as jump squats, medicine ball throws or something else of this nature. The combination gives you a charged up cardio workout without totally emptying your energy reserves, which is necessary for muscle gain.

Essentially, it all comes down to doing it in small quantities.

Whether you decide to run for 20-30 minutes a few days a week or take up the small, short sprint intervals, there are running and sprinting options available that will not hamper your ability to increase muscle size.

Just make sure to take note of how your own body is feeling. If you go in on leg day and you don’t have the necessary energy, yet you’re maintaining the same diet, it means your cardio is getting in the way and you need to take it down a notch.


Cardio is very important when it comes to obtaining your physical appearance goals. 

You’ll blast more calories in the short period of time, which helps in combination with your weight training.

However, you need to be careful with your chosen kind of cardio. 

As long as you’re mindful of what your body tells you, your cardio should not have much of an impact on your muscle gains while giving you the kind of calorie burning boost you need.

-Terry Asher

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Cardiovascular Endurance

Cardio is king! We said it. And, it’s true. Want to know why? Read on to find out. Along with why we give you the info you need to enhance your cardiovascular endurance.

Cardiovascular health is one of the most vital aspects of physical fitness.


The state of your cardiovascular health defines the level of your fitness when you are put to task athletically. No matter what sport you compete in, the more cardiovascular endurance you have, the better you will be able to perform. And, that goes for the field, track, diamond, court, ring or ice.

Are you ready to unlock the secret weapons to better your cardio endurance?

The challenges that follow will boost your fitness level and help you achieve your goals.

What Is Cardiovascular Endurance?

Cardiovascular endurance can be summed up as the overall health of your heart and how well it, along with your lungs and blood cells, sends oxygen to your body’s working muscles.

When your cardio health is top notch, a chain reaction happens.


It goes a little something like this: Your healthy heart, blood cells and lungs efficiently send blood that is rich in oxygen to your muscle tissues. This causes a boost in the amount of energy on hand for movement by your muscles, thus making your muscles more efficient no matter how you are using them.

Can you think of any athlete who can’t benefit from more efficient muscles? 

Bodybuilders, swimmers, CrossFitters, fighters, soccer players and everyone in between can benefit from efficient muscle power and become better athletes or just lead a healthier life. The more efficient your muscles are, the more you can do.

Here’s A Little Background Knowledge On Your Heart And Lungs

As you know, your heart is a muscle and muscles drive your lungs. Just like any other muscle in your body, they can be strengthened through aerobic exercise. The long-term result of doing regular aerobic activity is cardiovascular endurance. Cardio endurance is also commonly referred to as cardiorespiratory endurance, or the ability of your body to complete aerobic exercise continuously for extended amounts of time.

Boosting your cardiorespiratory endurance helps you to:

  • Live a longer life due to great cardio health.
  • Lose weight.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Improve your athletic performance.
  • Achieve sport-specific training goals.


Let’s get started.

Achieving Better Cardiovascular Endurance

We all have to start somewhere. Any aerobic exercise works to develop your cardiovascular fitness. If you like walking, running, swimming or basically any activity that involves the constant use of oxygen, it will work to build your cardio fitness.

But, you can hit plateaus in aerobic activity just like you can when you lift. For instance, if you jog 20 minutes every day, five days a week, and it takes you 10 minutes per mile, that 20-minute jog is like your base exercise. It should become easier over time, but at some point, your times will become pretty steady.

But, you’re ambitious!

What if you wanted to knock three minutes off each mile?

Sounds like a lofty goal. Still, it can be achieved if you progress through the following stages of cardiorespiratory endurance. Each stage slowly but surely injects overload into your training program. Overload means asking your body to work harder.


The reason is so that it adapts to working efficiently at a higher performance level.

Building cardiorespiratory endurance over time allows you to attain peak athletic performance and function at higher levels of athleticism than you ever dreamed you could.

First Stage – Beginners

The first stage is the base building stage. Before you get started, the one thing you need to know is your target heart rate zone. The standard way to calculate your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age.

For example: If you are 30, your max heart rate is 220 minus 30. That equals 190. You need to be able to complete 30 minutes to an hour of nonstop cardio two or three times per week at 65% to 75% of your max heart rate before you can advance to stage two.

To calculate your target heart rate of 65% to 75% of your max heart rate, we will do a little math. For a 30-year-old we saw that the max heart rate was 190.

Let’s do the math:

190 x .65 = 123.5

190 x .75 = 142.5

So, for a 30-year-old, the target heart rate range while you are doing cardio training is 123.5 to 142.5 beats per minute for 30 to 60 minutes. If you are consistent in your training, you will build stamina each week.

As you build aerobic stamina, try adding varying intervals so that you are not always working at the bottom level of your heart rate range. Try to walk or jog a little faster for segments of your session. Pick up the pace! Once you have built a solid cardio endurance base, you will be ready for stage two.

Second Stage – Intermediate

If you can already complete 30 to 60 minutes of continuous cardio at 65% to 75% of your max heart rate, you have surpassed stage one. Some of you reading this may be starting at stage two or even three.

In stage two you will begin interval training. Interval training means you will work out at varying intensities. You will push yourself hard for a period of time, and then it will be followed by a rest or recovery period where you slow down.

Your intervals can be manipulated as your cardio fitness improves. For example, you may start your intervals at one minute of high intensity followed by two to three minutes of rest. As you get stronger, you may complete a minute of high intensity with only one to two minutes of rest.

The moderate to high-intensity periods are the introduced overload where you are asking your body to work harder. The overload periods are very important because that stimulus is what teaches your body to work at greater intensities, thus making it stronger.

Can you see the pattern?

The second phase steps up from phase one. It requires that you work at higher heart rate intervals ranging from 65% to 85% of your max heart rate.

If we use the same 30-year-old person from the prior example that means this person’s target heart rate range is 123.5 to 161.5 beats per minute for stage two. Once you can sustain cardio at this interval, you are ready for the advanced stage, stage three.

Third Stage – Advanced

As you guessed, stage three gets even more intense. Instead of running during your intervals, you will all-out sprint! The third phase steps up from phase two and requires that you work at higher heart rate intervals ranging from 65% to 95% of your max heart rate. The target heart rate range in stage three is 123.5 to 180.5 beats per minute.

Your goal should be to constantly improve your efficiency and effort during high-intensity periods. You’ll notice that as your cardiorespiratory fitness improves, you will recover more quickly during recovery periods.

Recovery periods can be viewed on a heart rate monitor. If you use one of these, watch and time how quickly you recover from a high heart rate nearer to 180 back down to the 120 range. The more quickly you recover, the better shape you are in.

Invest In A Heart Rate Monitor

As you embark on this journey, you will need to have the right tools to help you along the way. A heart rate monitor is the best tool for this.

How else will you know your heart rate?

Some treadmills give readings.

With that said, who wants to do their cardio training on a treadmill every day?

That could get dull.

The best heart rate systems come with a chest strap and a watch. That gives you a way to precisely and quickly see how hard you are working with the flick of a wrist. Many systems also log and keep data over time.

You can upload all of your workout info to your computer and watch your progress through charts and graphs. Believe it or not, this data is very motivating. It’s like having a daily contest with yourself.

Exercise Suggestions For Better Cardiovascular Endurance

Treadmill life can become boring.

No doubt!

If you want to spice up your cardio training, try these types of workouts or add-ons to your workouts:

Tabata –

This is high-intensity interval training. It was made based on a 1996 study of Olympic speedskaters. Tabata that is used by trainers across the nation today, a modified version of what was used with Olympian trainees, consists of 20 seconds of intense training followed by 10 seconds of low-intensity training continuously for four minutes or eight rounds. Trainers will even make sessions that last 16 to 20 minutes, or four to five rounds of Tabata, using different exercises for each of the four-minute rounds.

Fartleks –

Simply put, Fartleks are interval running. Think of track workouts.

Do you ever jog the curves and run or sprint the straightaways?

If so, you have completed Fartleks. There are quite a few ways to complete interval running. However, you do not need a track. You can complete intervals any time you head out for cardio training by simply changing your pace. Of course, you can even complete intervals on treadmills, step mills or any other cardio machine.


Circuit Training –

Circuit training also uses high-intensity aerobic exercise, and it is usually combined with resistance training. Think of it as a mash-up of cardio and weights. There are thousands of combos of circuits that you can do. If you have never trained using circuits, a simple Google search will yield the info you need to get started. If you are going to do circuits, it is best to plan your workouts in advance.

Cardio Between Sets –

Cardio between sets could be considered circuit training. With that said, it can also be used differently. On days you lift heavy, you can engage in cardio between sets. For example, after doing lateral raises and front raises, you spend 30 seconds to one minute doing one of the following before starting your next set of raises:

  • High knees
  • Butt kickers
  • Jump squats
  • Scissor squats
  • Other plyometric cardio exercises
  • Or any other aerobic exercise


Working out in this fashion keeps your heart rate up in between completing exercises that may not otherwise keep your heart racing.

What If You Have Always Been A Runner?

If you have always been a runner and only a runner, then it is time to add some weightlifting to your life. Cross-training, also referred to by some as circuit training, can enhance your cardio endurance and improve your running times.

Let’s talk about muscles. Runners tend to have quads that dominate. Sometimes this leaves hamstrings and glutes neglected. Distance runners are more often than not smaller framed people. It makes sense because you are covering a lot of ground. Being lightweight is key when it comes to swiftness over the course of many miles.

But, studies show that strength training can improve stride power. This leads to longer stride length and decreased ground contact time. These elements add up to quicker race times.

That’s not to suggest that runners should go through a bulking season like a bodybuilder, but rather that they use weightlifting sessions to build well conditioned and balanced muscles. Your cardio endurance will improve through the overload introduced with weight training.


Fred DeVito once said that “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” The secret weapon to cardio endurance is pushing yourself. Push yourself during training. Mix new types of interval training and push your body to endure hard work using overload. These are the methods that will fine tune your cardiovascular endurance and make you a better athlete.

By: Sarah L. Chadwell, CPT

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How Much Cardio Should I Do-

Want to lose weight? Get in line for the cardio machines. But, before you do, read this. We’ve got the info you need to help you decide how much cardio should I do?.

We all want those rock hard abs, toned thighs, and buff arms. That’s a given. But the road to this lean and toned body is no easy journey. One good place to start is with cardio. You might have always been a runner or swimmer, but if you haven’t incorporated cardio into your workout, then better late than never.

Cardio has always had the reputation of being the best way to shed unwanted weight quickly. Running, jogging, walking, swimming and biking are always that fitness junkies can get that blood flowing and that heart pumping. But what a lot people don’t know is the details about how much cardio to do, what kind of cardio to do and how much time a day you should spend on it. Not to mention cardio before or after weights.

Obviously, any cardio is good cardio, but if you really want to tone and get fit then there is a method to this cardio madness.

Antioxidants For Cardio

Antioxidants For Cardio

Before getting right into cardio training, we need to tackle this related subject. This is a subject that isn’t widely talked about and most people don’t know whether antioxidants and fitness mix.

First off, what are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are a substance that removes potentially damaging oxidizing agents in the body. They also act to neutralize free radicals.

Free radicals are unpaired electrons that can damage cell walls and cause disease. They sure do get a bad rep, with good reason. But, certain free radicals play an important role in a healthy immune system. A study done on worms (yes, worms) showed that the worms with more free radicals actually lived longer than those who had less free radicals.

Antioxidants include glutathione, arginine, citrulline, creatine, selenium, taurine, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and tea polyphenols. These are generally all very good for your health. Because antioxidants neutralize and remove these free radicals that your body produces, one might conclude that they would be good for fitness lovers.

A study done with endurance athletes looked at the results when they consumed large amounts of vitamin C and vitamin E. They found that it resulted in a lesser training response. In other words, when the athletes took these vitamins, they had lower enzyme levels that help your muscles cells create energy so they were unable to work out longer and harder.

Another study found the same. The Journal of Physiology published a study done at the Norwegian School of Sport and Sciences in Oslo, Norway. This study looked at 32 men and women. Half of the group started taking two different antioxidant vitamin pills a day, one before and one after exercising. These antioxidant pills had 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C and 235 milligrams of vitamin E. The other group did not take any vitamin supplements.

The program lasted 10 weeks and consisted of both groups doing the same resistance training. By the end, the group that had taken the antioxidant supplements had not added as much strength as the group that didn’t take the supplements. The group who took the supplements also had reduced levels of substances that initiated protein synthesis in their muscles. The study concluded that the supplement group was getting a less overall response from their workouts than the group who did not take any supplements.

We aren’t saying you should avoid orange juice and green tea like the plague.

So what are we saying?

Make sure your antioxidant intake is moderate so your muscles can be in tip-top shape.

-The Reasons Cardio Is Important

 The Reasons Cardio Is Important

Aerobic exercises strengthen muscles, improve lung function, strengthen the heart, reduce stress and increase circulation. All of this can, in turn, boost self-esteem.

Cardio is also vital to heart health. Researchers found that heart attack patients who did cardio had a reduced death rate of as much as 20 to 25%. Doing cardio every day also improves your body’s ability to take in and use oxygen. This is important because your body needs oxygen not just to breath, but also for its muscles to properly work. When you do cardio, it helps with regular, everyday activities because you won’t feel as fatigued as you would without cardio.

There have also been studies done that measure muscle strength before and after a cardio session. These studies found that flexibility increased, as well as bone health. This also helps in the prevention of back pain and future disability.

Your Fitness Levels Play A Role

With all of that said, there are certain ways of doing cardio that are best for you. For example, when someone goes from not working out at all to being moderately active, this is when the greatest amount is gained. But, research has shown that not much is gained from cardio when someone goes from being moderately active to very active.

One study looked at 6,213 men over a six-year period. The focus of the study was on risks of death (such as if they smoked, did not work out, etc.), as well as physical fitness levels of the men. It showed that fitness level was a better predictor of death than their established risk factors like smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

So, it is easy to see why cardio is so important and the large impact that it can have.

Types Of Cardio

Types Of Cardio

There are two types of cardio that most people tend to do. They are called Low-Intensity Steady Rate (LISS) and High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

A low, steady rate cardio workout is one where you do your exercises for no less than 20 minutes at 60 to 70% of your body’s maximal capacity. The speed you do them at should remain constant during the workout. Some examples of a LISS workout would be walking, cycling, swimming, jogging, and elliptical work. Steady state cardio has proven to be very good for those trying to lose weight. It is also better for those who have joint problems.

How much time should you devote to a low-intensity cardio workout?

The best results seem to occur when doing it for periods between 30 and 90 minutes. In fact, research has shown that 45 minutes or more of running is ideal.


It is the best amount of time to run if you want to use fat as a source of energy. It should also be pointed out that fat loss, in fact, occurs in the hours after you’ve finished your cardio workout.

So what about HIIT?

It’s all the rage. High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, workouts are ones where you give your best effort when doing an exercise for a short time period.

How long?

It could last just one or two minutes and then you rest for as much as double the amount of time you spent working out. You should repeat this cycle no less than five times.

Some examples of HIIT include using the treadmill, burpees, battle rope, jumping jacks and mountain climbers. This form of cardio will boost the metabolic rate during and after the exercise. HIIT workouts allow you the chance to burn lots of calories in a shorter timeframe. And, because you’re using a mixture of muscle groups, getting lean and toned is a likely result. As a bonus, it could also help prevent osteoporosis.

With all the perks stated, keep in mind that there’s a higher risk of getting hurt doing HIIT workouts.

The Time Of Day Does Matter

The Time Of Day Does Matter

It’s true. When you choose to do your cardio workout will also impact how much fat you’ll lose. Try to get up early and do your cardio workout before breakfast. If you do your workout then, your body will use fat as energy because you don’t have any other form of energy for your body to draw from.

But, you do have to be careful when doing this.


Your body can go into a catabolic state where it starts burning muscle as a source of energy instead of burning fat or nutrients.

You don’t want that!

In order to not lose muscle, you should strive to consume ¼ grams of carbs and ⅛ grams of protein per pound of your ideal body weight – not your actual body weight.

You Need Sleep

Let’s face it: Most people do cardio to lose weight. You might not think the amount of sleep you get every night will affect your weight.

Guess what?

You’d be wrong. It turns out that sleep can affect quite a few health problems. The good news is that cardio helps improve sleep.

It is believed that 50 to 70 million people in the United States suffer from a sleeping disorder. Studies have found that those who sleep fewer than six hours each night are more likely to have higher body mass index numbers than people who are able to get at least eight hours of sleep each night.

Sleep, like lack of exercise and overeating, is a risk factor of obesity.

When we sleep, we secrete hormones. These hormones help to control our metabolism, appetite and glucose hormones. A lack of sleep also leads to a decrease in leptin levels. That’s the hormone that tells the brain that you are feeling satisfied or full. The problem here is that you might have food cravings in spite of the fact that you’ve eaten enough to be full.

The National Sleep Foundation found that people who do some form of cardio exercise for 2.5 hours each week bettered the quality of their sleep by as much as 65%. Studies have also found that doing some form of cardio helped people fall asleep much faster and allowed them to sleep much longer than if they didn’t do any type of cardio.

So, it’s fairly obvious that sleep is vital for your body, as well as your cardio workouts.

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There are many health benefits to doing cardio. It is easily one of the best ways to lose unwanted fat and to get fit and lean. It even helps give you energy. When you get your heart pumping, it adapts to the demands of cardio and therefore grows stronger. So, when you are resting, your heart won’t have to work as hard to circulate blood as often. In other words, you’ll be more energized because your resting heart rate is much lower than if you did no cardio at all.

Cardio trains your body. One of the things it trains it to do is use oxygen more efficiently. That means your body will have more access to the oxygen within it so you won’t feel as fatigued and weak.

And that could lead to better workouts!

It also impacts chemicals called endorphins that are released when you do a cardio workout. Endorphins elevate your mood and alleviate feelings of pain and stress. That’s why after you workout you’ll get the runner’s high and feel happier and more energetic.

So be sure add some cardio to a dreary day.

Now that you know the method to this cardio madness, you can put it to the test. There will be ups and downs. You’ll likely have good days and bad days. But, it is crucial to remember that the journey is just as important as the destination. Get your rest, stay hydrated, enjoy a proper diet and work hard. These will get you where you need to be and you’ll learn a thing or two about yourself and your body through this fitness journey.

By Sarah Bayard

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Summer workout plan

Who doesn’t want to have a beach-ready physique? We have all the tips and the summer workout plan you need to help you get that physique as long as you put in the effort and stick to the plan.

With summer just around the corner, I hear all sorts of people in my gym saying, “damn” when they look in the mirror. More often than not, this is in relation to their goal for the summer. You know the kind. It almost always involves having a six pack and biceps worthy of recognition.

Many people, most notably the ones who join the gym as a New Year’s resolution with the goal of getting in shape, end up quitting. Although gym owners appreciate the revenue, I’m sure that most of them would rather have people talking about the success they achieved at the gym to get even more business to come in.

One problem is that most people want a magic bullet that automatically grants them a six-pack and guns. The truth is that there is no such magic bullet. Another issue is that someone will invest in a theory and stick to it religiously, like low-carb dieting to lose fat. Lastly, people will invest in a trainer, but then once the hour with the trainer is over, they go back to their old habits of eating junk, drinking soda, etc.

Ideally, when one decides to get fit, it should be a gradual lifestyle change that shifts from binge eating and watching too much TV to going to the gym three or four times a week and eating clean food with smaller portion sizes. But, life isn’t always ideal and people have their vices. Any good trainer or coach will recognize this.

I get it…

I like to drink beer and watch hockey on the weekends, but I know that the amount of beer I drink is directly related to the size of my (thankfully nonexistent due to my eating habits) beer belly. That hour I would have spent trolling YouTube for hockey highlights and videos of the sweetest goals scored, biggest hits and all that is instead spent either at the gym or making good, clean, healthy food.

All this said, here’s your ultimate summer beach body plan, just in time to start.

This Is The Diet

This Is The Diet

Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way first. From there, we can get to the exercise.

You hear it all the time: Diet, diet, diet. 

But what is the right way to eat to trim down for the summer?

There’s a method that really is quite simple. It’s called carb cycling. In short, carb cycling is eating carbs on your training days (days you lift) and not eating them on days you don’t lift.

Another rule for carb cycling is to make sure your carb intake takes places within two hours on either side of your workout.


So the carbs either get used if you have them before your workout, or they replenish your glycogen (storage form of carbs that your muscles need to work) that became depleted during your workout.

Here’s a sample day using carb cycling. Assuming you work out in the mornings, which is another tip for getting in shape in time for summer, when you wake up, start the coffee machine (caffeine is your friend on this plan as it promotes fat burning and also makes your heart beat a little faster, which translates to more calorie burn during the day) and make yourself some oatmeal. For flavor, honey and banana make great additions and also offer some carbs themselves. A small bowl is all you need.

Then hit the gym, shower up and eat a piece of very sweet fruit after, like mango, pineapple or banana. You could also throw a bunch of fruits in a protein shake with a little honey.

For the rest of the day, focus on eating lots of lean protein (chicken, fish, lean beef) and leafy green veggies. About 35% of your plate should be protein, 15% healthy fats (like cooking oil or butter) and 50% leafy green veggies. Your best options for that are spinach, arugula, kale, Swiss chard and collard greens. They all offer huge health benefits and lots of fiber. This is good for your bathroom habits, in turn helping to eliminate waste from your body (when you go to the bathroom, both #1 and #2 help you get rid of fat).

Another very important distinction to make is the difference between being satisfied and being full. Eating until you’re full is a surefire way to eat too much. This leads to storage of extra nutrients in fat. Eating until you’re satisfied, or not hungry anymore, is eating just enough to make sure you replenish what you lose during the day, but not so much that your body is forced to store it in fat.

Eating slower is a good trick for identifying this point for you. Also, listen to your body. Eat when you’re hungry and don’t eat when you are not. Just because everyone else is eating dinner doesn’t mean you have to as well.

The last point I want to make on the diet is that it’s important to have a cheat day. I usually pick Saturday because that’s when people like to get dressed up and go out. So pick a day and do whatever you want on that day, but be prepared to get back to your diet on the next day and hit the gym hard.

The Bench Press

The Exercise Plan: It’s About Time

As mentioned, working out in the morning can make a huge difference in terms of fat loss and muscle gain. Doing your weightlifting in the morning means your heart beats a little bit faster all day. That results in more calorie burning and, in turn, more fat burning.

Also, it wakes you up mentally to work out in the morning so when you get to work you’re ready to go, instead of chugging coffee to keep you going. Try to keep your gym workout routines to an hour or less. The faster you move, the more you burn.

In terms of what you should be doing in the gym, we need to think about efficiency of the workouts. 

An efficient workout is one that focuses on compound lifts – ones that use multiple joints. Things like squats, bench presses, rows, chin-ups, deadlifts and the like are examples of compound lifts. Ideally, you would lift four days a week, so here are the four workouts that will get you ready for summer.

Workout 1

Plank 2 minutes

Power Clean* 6×2

Deadlift 5×5

Romanian Deadlift 4×8

Physio Ball Hamstring Curl 4×8

Pull-up 5xAs Many Reps As Possible (AMRAP)

Underhand Bent Over Row 4×8

Face Pull 4×12

*Only if you know how to do it the right way.


Workout 2

Plank 2 minutes

Push Press Walkout* 4×4

Front Squat 5×5

Back Squat 4×5

Dumbbell Lateral Step-up 3×8 each side

Bench Press 5×5

Dumbbell Incline Press 4×8

Dumbbell Shoulder Press 4×5

*Only if you know how to do it the right way.


Workout 3

Plank 2 minutes

Hang Clean* 6×2

Sumo Deadlift 5×5

Good Morning 4×8

Single-Leg RDL 4×6 each side

Chin-up 5xAMRAP

Bent-Over Row 4×8

Lat Pulldown 4×8

*Only if you know how to do it the right way.


Workout 4

Plank 2 minutes

Drop Snatch* 4×3

Back Squat 5×5

Bulgarian Split Squat 4×6 each side

Walking Lunge 4×6 each side

Dumbbell Bench Press 5×5

Close-Grip Incline Press 4×5

Barbell Overhead Press 4×5

*Only if you know how to do it the right way.

I’ve included a plank with each workout to give you some core training and make you more stable. This will in turn make you stronger, meaning you’ll be able to lift more and get bigger as well. Feel free to do any additional core training as you like, and I would definitely recommend doing so.

Do Some Cardio Training

The Cardio You Need

As far as cardio goes, there are a couple of options, and yes you do need to do it. Remember, this is like a crash plan, because summer is just around the corner, so the cardio is essential. I recommend sprinting, but not like the 40-yard dash sprinting. Here are three suggestions on what to do.

Sprint Workout 1

Set a timer for 20 seconds. In that time, sprint 100 yards. Rest for one minute and repeat 10x for a total of 1,000 yards sprinted.

Sprint Workout 2

Set a timer for 40 seconds. In that time, sprint 200 yards. Rest for 90 seconds and repeat 5x for a total of 1,000 yards sprinted.

Sprint Workout 3

Set a timer for 60 seconds. In that time, sprint 300 yards. Rest for two minutes and repeat 4x for a total of 1,200 yards sprinted.

All these sprint workouts are used by pro sports organizations around the world to condition their athletes, so they’re pretty grueling but very effective. Try not to do two-a-days.


This can be counterproductive. What I mean is do your sprint workouts on days that you’re not lifting and lift on days you don’t sprint. If you feel like doing some cardio on the same day you’re lifting, jump on the bike or on a treadmill for 15 minutes at a moderate pace, but no more.

arm workout routine

The Exercise Plan: Train To Maintain

I’m well aware that many people either go away over the summer, get long weekends where they go somewhere or live in a place with a lot of summer activities that can be conducted shirtless for guys or in bikinis for girls. The one issue that seems to pop up amongst most that go away over the summer or go to the beach on weekends is that they can’t maintain the physique they built in the gym in the off-season.

That is why these next few workouts will serve to help you maintain the physique you’ve worked so hard on. Ideally, you’d just stick to the workouts detailed before, but I completely understand that doing that is not always possible, especially if you go on a vacation. Here are the maintenance workouts, split into two different plans consisting of two workouts each.

This Is Maintenance Plan 1

Workout 1

Deadlift 3×5

Romanian Deadlift 3×5

Chin-up 3×5

Dumbbell Row 3×5 each side


Workout 2

Back Squat 3×5

Walking Lunge 3×10 each side

Barbell Bench Press 3×5

Barbell Incline Press 3×8

This Is Maintenance Plan 2

Workout 1

Sumo Deadlift 3×5

Good Morning 3×6

Pull-up 3×5

Underhand Bent Over Row 3×6


Workout 2

Front Squat 3×5

Bulgarian Split Squat 3×6 each side

Dumbbell Bench Press 3×8

Barbell Overhead Press 3×6

For maintenance cardio, you don’t need to kill yourself with the drills I detailed. Twice a week, go for a two-mile run and aim to keep your time less than eight minutes per mile. The other option is to find a 25-yard patch of ground you can use to run and do 50-yard sprints in less than 10 seconds, repeated 10 times for a total of 500 yards.

Flex Banner


Remember when I said there was no magic bullet?

I stand by that statement. This is hard work, but it will get you close to where you want to be for the summer. Still, you have to stick to it religiously. That’s as close to a promise as you can get. Remember one more thing: If it doesn’t work, that’s on you. What that means is if you stick to it and give it your all, you will reap the benefits over the summer.

Also, those maintenance workouts will keep you strong and healthy so when the off-season hits again, your maxes won’t decrease that much (you’re bound to get a little regression without testing and being in the gym four days a week) and you’ll be ready to go. And, now you know what to do for the off-season to make sure you’re even better when the next beach season comes around again.

Happy lifting!

By Michael Schletter, CSCS*D, NSCA-CPT*D

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HIIT Cardio Vs Steady State Cardio

There’s HIIT cardio. It has its perks. Then there’s steady state cardio. It also works. Which one is right for you? It depends on your goals. We help you sort things out.

Cardio is one of the best ways to lose unwanted fat and to stay in shape. That’s a given. There is also no better high than getting that blood flowing and that heart pumping. The way your feet pound the ground is like a ritual. The quickness of your breath is a habit you never want to lose.

In any workout, cardio is key.

According to Duke Medicine, aerobic exercises are better than anaerobic exercises when it comes to burning visceral fat and liver fat, as well as improving insulin (which lowers chances for getting diabetes). Duke Medicine also found that aerobic exercises burned 67% more calories than anaerobic exercises.

According to Harvard Medical, a 30-minute cardio workout burns somewhere around 144 and 294 calories. So it is very easy to see why cardio is so important if you are trying to lose some weight.

The worst kind of fat for your health is the fat around your stomach.

The good news is that cardio does wonders for that unhealthy fat. A study in 2009 reported that aerobic exercise also prevents people from regaining weight in their stomach area. So it makes sense why so many people include cardio into their everyday workout schedule.

HIIT Cardio Vs. Steady State Cardio

HIIT Cardio Vs. Steady State Cardio

But which type of cardio is better for losing weight?

It comes down to high-intensity interval training or HIIT cardio vs. steady state cardio or lower intensity cardio. Well, we are here to tell you everything you need to know about both of these types of cardio.

Low-Intensity Steady Rate (LISS)

A steady state cardio workout is one that makes you perform at 60 to 70% of your body’s maximal capacity for at least 20 minutes. The speed remains constant. Some examples of a low-intensity steady rate cardio workout would be walking, jogging, cycling, elliptical training and swimming.

Steady state cardio workouts have proven to be very beneficial when it comes to fat loss. Having a low-intensity cardio workout between 30 and 90 minutes has proven to produce the best results. Plus, it helps build some great endurance.

Research has shown that running for 45 minutes or more is the best duration to use fat as an energy source. It is also important to note that fat loss occurs hours after your cardio workout ends. However, for those of you who want to maintain muscle mass, maybe keep the cardio under 45 minutes so that your body doesn’t start burning muscle mass and you can stay nice and toned.

Some of the best aspects of opting for a low-intensity cardio workout includes that there is a quicker recovery process, it is good for beginners and it improves your cardiovascular system. However, it can tend to be a bit boring and repetitive so maybe try walking one day and cycling the next day so you don’t get burnt out on just one form of cardio workout.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

High-intensity workouts execute a certain exercise at your maximal capacity for a short period time. The times spent is usually just one or two minutes at a rapid pace and then you double that amount of time by working out at a lesser pace. You should repeat this process at least five times. Some examples include a treadmill program, battle rope, burpees, mountain climbers and jumping jacks.

High-intensity cardio workouts allow you to burn a lot of calories in a relatively shorter amount of time.


You are using a variety of muscle groups. You should find that the end result is you get toned and lean. High-intensity cardio is usually for those are already athletic because it requires a lot of strength and mobility and there may be some physical limitations.

Some pros of the high-intensity cardio workout are that you will build lean muscle mass, you’ll burn more calories and it is shorter in time spent with more variety so your chances of getting bored are much lower.

However, the risk of injury is higher so you’ll need to be more careful. It is also a good idea not to do it every day or it could negatively impact on your muscle growth.

HIIT Workout Plan

HIIT Workout Plan

Here is an example of a good HIIT workout you can perform on a treadmill:

hiit workout plan

Are You Trying To Lose Fat Or Weight-

Are You Trying To Lose Fat Or Weight?

You have to be careful when making a distinction between fat loss and weight loss. Either way, good nutrition is key. Calories tend to have a bad rep when it comes to losing weight. Everyone thinks they need to count calories to achieve their desired weight loss.

Fat Loss And Weight Loss: The Big Difference

All calories come from macronutrients whereas things like vitamins, minerals and sodium are all micronutrients that don’t contain calories. Each macronutrient has a specific number of calories. One gram of protein has 4 calories, one gram of fat has 9 calories, one gram of carbohydrate has 4 calories and one gram of alcohol has 7 calories. Your body needs proteins, carbs, and fats to function.

Carbs fuel your body.

They give you fiber and lots and lots of energy. Carbs are broken down into two different types: Simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. They are classified based on how quickly they break down and the sugar is absorbed.

The glycemic index measures that breakdown and absorption time where 100 means that it is absorbed almost right away. This causes your blood sugar to spike. A low glycemic index rating is 0 to 55 (apples, black beans, whole wheat). A medium glycemic index rating is between 56 and 69. This includes such things as corn, sweet potatoes, and apricots. A high glycemic index rating is 70 or more and it includes stuff like white bread and white rice.

Simple carbs tend to rate higher on the glycemic index where they are broken down and absorbed quickly.

Basically, foods that are considered sugary and processed tend to be higher in simple carbs. On the other hand, complex carbs have higher amounts of fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. They take more time to break down and absorb because their chemical structure is harder to wear down. Complex carbs can be found in foods such as oats, broccoli, quinoa, brown rice and whole-wheat bread and pasta.

Don’t Forget Your Proteins And Fats

Proteins help build and repair bones, skin, cartilage and blood. If you don’t give your body the protein that it needs, then you won’t be able to sufficiently build up your muscle.

A study done in 2008 and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that people who eat higher-protein diets burn more calories throughout the day than those who followed lower-protein diets. It also reported that those on higher-protein diets retained lean muscle mass as they lost weight.

You should try and aim for 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight if you are trying to build muscle. Try to consume foods that have between 30 to 40 grams of protein after a tough workout to repair those muscles. Don’t forget: Proteins take more energy and time to digest them. They make you feel full longer and you will burn calories in the process. Foods like fish, meat, beans, nuts and eggs are all high in protein and amino acids.

Fat is something that tends to scare people. But they shouldn’t!


There are good fats and bad fats. The bad fats are trans fat and saturated fats. Saturated fats are butter, high-fat cheese, and some meat products that include lamb, beef, and pork. Trans fats are usually in fried and packaged foods like baked goods and margarine.

So which ones are the good fats?

Good fats are the unsaturated fats. These are essential for improving joint and bone health, lowering blood pressure, protecting against memory loss and lowering your cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats replace the bad fats and are present in olive oil, peanut butter, and avocados. Polyunsaturated fats do wonders for heart health and they are found in foods like corn oil, walnuts, tuna, and salmon. Opt for egg whites, skimmed milk and low-fat cheeses.

These micronutrients are very important for your body’s health. Eating fruits and veggies are so much better for your body than eating that frozen dinner.


Processed foods like frozen dinners go through lots of complex processing steps and they are lacking in all three of these micronutrients.

Calories Could Feed Your Needs

If you are trying to build muscle and bulk up, then you’ll want to increase your caloric intake. Meanwhile, if you’re trying to lose weight, then you’ll want to decrease your caloric intake. Be sure to remember that everyone’s body is different and people lose weight in different ways and on different nutrition plans.

A starting point is to calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR. The BMR is the number that indicates the minimum amount of calories your body needs to function at rest or when doing nothing. It takes into account things like age, weight, height and sex in order to see how many calories you need a day to simply function in a healthy state. Essentially, it calculates how many calories your body will burn at rest, but it doesn’t factor in things like walking.

So, if you’re trying to lose fat, then you should be trying to shed the fat while keeping the muscle. In effect, that means that your weight doesn’t really matter. This process then all starts with the right nutrition plan and cardio workouts that allow you to only burn fat while not burning muscle.

If you’re trying to lose weight, then you have to be burning a lot more calories than you consume so your body will start using your muscle tissue as a source of energy, which will essentially converts to losing weight. Just be sure to keep in mind what you really want to be losing.


Simple, because fat and weight are two completely different things that require completely different workouts and nutrition plans.

HIIT Nutrition Plan

HIIT Nutrition Plan

Are you trying to build muscle?

Are you looking to get ripped?

Maybe you just want to maintain your weight. Here is a simple nutrition plan for men that should address any of these concerns.

Building Muscle: Carbs 40% – Protein 40% – Fat 20%

Maintaining Weight: Carbs 35% – Protein 35% – Fat 30%

Getting Ripped: Carbs 30% – Protein 40% – Fat 30%


Here is a simple nutrition plan for women. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to tone muscle, maintain weight or burn fat. Follow the right path to suit your needs.

Muscle Toning: Carbs 40% – Protein 40% – Fat 20%

Maintain Weight: Carbs 35% – Protein 35% – Fat 30%

Burn Fat: Carbs 30% – Protein 40% – Fat 30%

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The benefits of cardio are huge. It helps with all kinds of health problems and can prevent the onset of others. It is easily the best way to lose some of that unwanted fat and is essential to any workout. Both high-intensity interval training (HIIT cardio) and low-intensity steady cardio workouts are great for burning fat, but if you aren’t careful you can burn precious muscle tissue.

Regardless of which cardio workout you prefer, a proper nutrition plan is almost more important. If you are eating processed, unhealthy foods, then you will never achieve your desired results. Be sure to plan out how many calories you want to consume and burn per day and then go on to counting those macros. It is a lot of work to count macros, but the after effects are worth it. There are websites and even apps for your smartphone that can make this process a little easier.

The important thing is to figure out what your goal is and whether HIIT or steady state cardio is your best option. From there, get in the gym, eat right and work toward achieving your goals.

By Sarah Bayard

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