Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How to Do the Perfect Sit-Up

The Sit-Up has been around for decades and it's one of the first exercises taught by gym teachers and fitness trainers. You probably learned to do it in gym class, but it's highly unlikely that you learned the proper form. So, let's take a look at how you can do the "perfect" sit-up.


Lie on your back, relax your head and neck muscles.
Place your fingertips on your ears, and open your elbows out wide to the side.
Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Make sure they are spread to shoulder width.
Relax your back and try to avoid arching it. If you feel tension in the lower part of your back, you're doing it wrong.
Keep your chin away from your chest, as it stops you from breathing properly.

Going Up

Using just the muscles of your stomach, bring your body off the ground to a 30-degree angle.
Breathe out as you sit up.
Push your feet into the floor, but keep them flat on the ground.
Keep your head and neck relaxed, and tilt your chin up to the sky if it helps you keep it off your chest.
Do not use your hands for leverage. Avoid pulling on your neck as you come up, as that could lead to a strain or crick in your neck. Your hands are simply there to make the exercise a bit more difficult.
Avoid sudden movements as you go up. Don't jerk upwards, but crunch slowly to avoid injuring your lower back and straining your core.
Hold at the top of your upward motion for a one count.

Going Down

Use your stomach muscles to slowly bring your upper body back down to the floor.
Don't engage your back if your stomach muscles are tired. Your lower back should be relaxed AT ALL TIMES.
Inhale as you come down. Filling your lungs will oxygenate your blood, reducing the lactic acid burn that will cause your abs to cramp.
Don't go down too slowly, but don't drop back down either. Lower your upper body to the mat with the same speed as you went up.
Avoid moving your head as you go back down. The tendency will be for your head to drop to the floor, but keep your neck and head relaxed throughout both up and down motions.
Stop your neck from touching the mat. Only your shoulders should touch the mat as you lower yourself.
Keep your feet flat on the floor and avoid the temptation to use your legs to gain more momentum.

More Tips

Don't do more than 30 reps without a rest. You'll lose technique as you struggle to reach your goal.
Don't go fast! Keep it slow and steady, as that will help you maintain proper form.
NEVER jerk. Slow, smooth motions are the key.
Don't pull on your neck. Pulling can strain your neck.
If you feel any muscles besides your abs working, you're doing it wrong. ONLY the abs should be engaged.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Is It Possible to Become Addicted to Exercise?

If there is such a thing as a good kind of bad habit, exercise addiction might seem like one. The words "exercise" and "addiction" don't often appear in the same sentence, although some scientific research indicates that those who suffer from addictive behaviors, such as drinking and smoking, could be more susceptible to becoming "addicted" to the endorphin rush most who exercise get after an intense workout.

While exercise is sometimes referenced as being a catalyst for overcoming bad habits, too much exercise can have a negative impact on the human psyche. Even though exercise addiction is not considered a legitimate health disorder, it is a derivative of compulsive behavior which could cause dysfunction within a person's life.

Recommendations for Healthy Exercise

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week for all classified-healthy individuals, which equates to approximately 30 minutes of continuous exercise at least five times every seven days. It's important to understand the difference between being addicted to exercise and being committed to exercise. Exercise addiction occurs when the user, becomes dependent upon the feelings of euphoria that typically result as a product of exercise in order to function.

"Exercise Addiction" is a Maladaptive Behavior

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not currently consider maladaptive behaviors, such as those that cause a person to neglect the body's natural need to rest, as concrete mental disorders. Exercise addiction does not simply cause a person to become rest negligent, though. It has also been associated with eating disorders in rare cases. While maintaining a healthy tendency to exercise, it's sometimes difficult to determine if you have legitimately become addicted to working out. For this reason, most research, including a study cited by CNN, indicates that a small percentage of people actually endure negative side effects of exercise addiction. Negative side effects may include increased susceptibility to injury due to overstimulation of muscle tissue, joints, ligaments and tendons, and constant exhaustion as a result of neglected rest.

Don't Be Afraid to Exercise Often

The concept of "exercise addiction" can be perceived as a slippery slope in that exercise is a key component of a healthy lifestyle. Although a small percentage of people who frequently engage in exercise activity may be susceptible to becoming dependent on endorphins in order to function or "feel good" about themselves, the likelihood of you becoming negatively impacted by too much exercise is slim. Exercise is more commonly referred to as a mechanism for overcoming bad habits as opposed to becoming an addiction in itself. Consult a physician if you're truly concerned about working out too often. Otherwise, continue to exercise in an effort to enhance your physical fitness level and overall well-being.

Friday, July 18, 2014

All You Need To Know To Increase Metabolism Naturally

If you are trying to lose weight, increasing metabolism naturally can enable you to lose more weight without cutting more calories.

“Metabolism-enhancing products” has made it difficult to separate fact from fiction, but you can find a few research based tips to increase metabolism naturally.

Understand What Metabolism is

In the simplest terms, metabolism is the rate at which your body burns calories. Very few people have a fast metabolism. A faster metabolism will enable you to lose more weight than a person with the same activity level, diet, and weight.

Determine what is influencing your metabolism! There are some factors that you can control and change, and some factors that you can’t.

Heredity: You can inherit your metabolic rate from previous generations.
Thyroid disorder: Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland) can slow down or speed up metabolism, but only 3% and .3% of the population have hypo- and hyperthyroidism respectively.
Age: Metabolic rate decreases 5% each decade, after the age of 40, partly because of decreased muscle mass.
Gender: Men generally burn calories more quickly than women because they have more muscle tissue.
Weight: Different tissues of your body contribute different amounts to resting metabolism. Muscle contributes more than fat per unit mass and, because it is denser than fat, muscle contributes much more per unit volume, but this may not be practically significant.

Estimate your RMR (resting metabolic rate). RMR is often used interchangeably with BMR (basal metabolic rate). Although they are slightly different, estimating either is sufficient for the purpose of losing weight. What these equations will show you is, that if you weigh more, your RMR will be higher. To calculate your RMR, use the Mifflin-St Jeor equation (which is more reliable than the Harris-Benedict equation). There are also calculators online that can do this for you:

RMR = 9.99w + 6.25s – 4.92a + 166g-161
w = weight in kilograms; if you know your weight in pounds, divide by 2.2 to get your weight in kilograms;
s = height in centimeters; if you know your height in inches, multiply by 2.54 to get your height in centimeters;
a = age in years;
g = gender = 1 for males, 0 for females.

Increase Metabolism with Diet and Exercise

Adjust your diet accordingly. Your RMR will tell you how many calories you need to maintain your body at rest. Your daily consumption to maintain your weight should be:

RMR x 1.15 (E.g. RMR = 2000, so the maintenance intake is 2000 x 1.15 = 2300).
To lose weight safely, do not exceed your maintenance intake or have a caloric intake lower than your calculated RMR.
Count calories by recording what you eat and looking up how many calories each food item contains (either on the food packaging or in tables provided in books or online).

Do not starve. The worst thing you can do to your metabolism is starve yourself. Consuming a very low-calorie diet that robs your body of enough energy to satisfy its basic functions will plunge your metabolism into slow motion. Ensure you are consuming at least 1,200 calories per day for women and 1,500 for men to meet your basic metabolic needs.

Eat small, frequent meals. Extending the time between meals makes your body go into “starvation mode,” which decreases your metabolism as a means to conserve energy and prevent starvation. While some people are able to lose weight through intermittent fasting, most people generally eat less overall when they eat small, frequent meals. In addition to having four to six small meals per day eating healthy snacks will also increase metabolism.

Increase metabolism temporarily with aerobic exercise. Different activities burn different quantities of calories, but the important thing is to raise your heart rate and sustain the activity for approximately thirty minutes.

Increase metabolism in the long run with weight training. Muscle burns more calories than fat does (73 more calories per kilogram per day) so the more muscle you build, the higher your resting metabolic rate (RMR) will be. Every muscle cell that you gain is like a little factory that constantly burns calories for you, even while you sleep, and revs up when you exercise.

This is the only way to increase RMR, which accounts for 60 to 70 percent of the calories you burn daily.
From a recent conservative estimate one can extrapolate that in one year a person with 2.2 kg more muscle will burn calories corresponding to 1 kg of fat due to this muscle mass. Young healthy men typically have 35 to 50 kg of muscle mass so the most muscular men in the range burn extra calories relative to the least muscular corresponding to 6.8 kg (15 pounds) of fat per year.

Get enough sleep. Studies show that chronic lack of sleep can slow the metabolism, increase appetite and increase risks of obesity and weight gain. Aim to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night so you wake up feeling refreshed, replenished and ready for the day ahead. This will definitely increase metabolism!

Foods to Incorporate

Increase Metabolism with Green tea. Green tea contains a type of antioxidant called catechins, which have been shown in studies to reduce body weight and waist circumference. Green tea is also packed with cancer-fighting compounds that can benefit anyone’s diet, at any age.

Increase Metabolism with Chili Peppers. Chili peppers contain bioactive chemicals called capsinoids. Studies have shown that the consumption of capsinoids increased energy expenditure (the amount of heat you produce internally and your external physical activity level) by 50 calories a day. Adding a bit of spice to your meals can also help reduce belly fat and appetite.

Increase Metabolism with Coffee (caffeinated or decaffeinated). Small amounts of caffeine have been shown to boost your metabolism through stimulation of your central nervous system. But make sure you are drinking the right amount. A cup of coffee (with about 150 mg of caffeine) is often enough to benefit from metabolic effects. Too much coffee can lead to trouble sleeping, upset stomachs or irregular heartbeats.

Increase Metabolism with Protein foods. The body experiences a significant elevation in metabolic rate right after eating a meal, called the “thermic effect of food”. In other words, our bodies need extra energy to digest, absorb and transport all the nutrients after consuming proteins. When you eat protein, it needs the most time to metabolize (at least 20 to 30 per cent of your body’s energy). Eating fish, lean meats, eggs and plant protein like beans and soy will keep your metabolism accelerated for hours after your meal.

Increase Metabolism with Iron-rich foods. Iron is an essential mineral that helps transport oxygen to tissues throughout the body. Iron also helps our bodies make energy — low iron levels can lead to fatigue, loss of appetite, anemia (not enough red blood cells) and slow down your metabolism. Foods rich in iron include oysters, mussels, beef, lamb, fish and poultry. Plant sources of iron include pumpkin seeds, lentils, tofu, chickpeas and other beans.

Increase Metabolism with Vitamin D. A study conducted last year showed that those with low vitamin D levels gained more weight. There is still uncertainty as to how vitamin D contributes to weight management; however, studies have suggested low vitamin D levels may lead to fat accumulation. Looking for natural ways to get vitamin D? Get outside or eat some salmon.


Do not overdo your diet or exercise program. Losing more than a pound a week can be detrimental to your health. Check with a physician or a nutritionist to determine what would be considered appropriate weight loss for your level of fitness before you start a new exercise or diet plan.

If you are pregnant or nursing, your caloric needs are increased. Speak to your doctor or midwife before restricting your diet or any specific food group.


Some sugar substitutes may adversely affect metabolism and weight loss.

There are no “fat-burning” foods. You might have heard that certain foods (e.g. celery and grapefruit) increase metabolic rate, but it is just a myth. While some foods and drinks such as red peppers and green tea have been studied for their potential metabolic rate increasing properties, there is no conclusive evidence that whatever influence they have on metabolism is significant enough to result in weight loss.

However, it has been proven that all foods do have what is called the thermic effect. Foods with protein have a 30% thermic effect, and are the most thermal of all foods. So that means if you eat a 100 calorie portion of meat, 30 calories from the food are required to break down the fibers in the protein and to properly digest it.

Foods with higher amounts of fiber also have a high thermic effect. This is why people who eat 40% protein 40% carbohydrate and 20% mainly monounsaturated fat diets do very well, especially if they are carbohydrate sensitive and/or endomorphs.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Muscle Dysmorphia -Big Worries about Bodies

Do you squander hours away looking at your body in the mirror every day?

Do you spend more than 2 hours in the gym each day?

Are you always worried that your muscles look too small?

Well, if you answered "yes" to any of these questions, be careful because you could be suffering from what doctors call "muscle dysmorphia" (MD) or what bodybuilders refer to as "bigorexia" and "reverse anorexia."

Big worries about bodies

While anorexics starve themselves thinking they're too fat, men suffering from MD think they look too small. Suffering from MD isn't life threatening, but its symptoms could lead to problems, which could become life threatening. That's why it's critical to identify MD in its origination before it gets too serious and damage becomes permanent.

A healthy lifestyle should be a given for every man. Always keep an eye on your diet and exercise regularly — but the question remains: when do exercise and diet constrains become problematic?

Are you big enough?

Before you answer that question, ask yourself these:

Are you obsessed with building mass?
Do you check out your physique in the mirror more than twice a day?
Do you weigh yourself once or twice a day to see if you've gained weight?
Will you avoid going out to restaurants with friends because you're scared you'll cheat on your muscle-building diet or because you might lose muscle definition?
Do you dress in baggy clothes (at the gym or in public) because you're ashamed of your body and scared people will think you're too small?
Are you below average in body fat and still think your muscles could be more defined?
Do you experience mood swings and anxiety attacks because of your unhealthy diet?
Are you generally dissatisfied with your body?

What does it mean if you've answered "yes" to any of these questions?

What are you doing wrong?

All these questions suggest symptoms of MD. Again, if you answered "yes" to one or more of these questions, you should definitely consider reevaluating your approach to dieting and training. It's important that you try maintaining a proper balance of fun and discipline in your lifestyle.
Then again, don't overdramatize this goal because there's nothing pathological about being an avid bodybuilder. The only thing I'm saying is that it shouldn't take over your life.

MD can eventually lead to severe consequences that may become hazardous to your life and to your lifestyle. Here are a few severe outcomes that can result from MD:

  • Increased levels of anxiety
  • Eventual eating disorders
  • Mood swings
  • Overtraining
  • Isolation and avoidance of socializing
  • The use of steroids and other dangerous bodybuilding drugs
  • High-protein diets combined with bodybuilding drugs can eventually lead to kidney failure and various forms of cancer

Balance in life is key

This said, you should take precautions to avoid the risk of suffering from MD. Follow these simple tips to help moderate your hardcore bodybuilding regime.

  • Take at least one or two days off from the gym every week.
  • Don't cancel plans to go out because you're worried you'll cheat on your diet. Instead, have a salad with dressing on the side and stay away from carbohydrate rich foods. (Just remember that you can still have your protein shake once you get home from dinner.)
  • Don't compare your physique with that of buff guys at the gym. They're probably on steroids.
  • You should also get rid of your scale and avoid scrutinizing yourself in the mirror too much.
  • Finally, just remember that many women don't necessarily prefer bigger guys, but guys with athletic bodies instead.

The severity of symptoms of MD will vary from one individual to another. If you think you're suffering from it, I strongly suggest you start working on it by following the aforementioned tips. And if your case evolves to a more serious one, then it might be a good idea to consult a psychiatrist. MD is receiving more attention these days, and psychiatrists are well aware of the problem, and can help you resume a normal life again.
Good luck and remember to train hard.


Friday, July 11, 2014

5 Nutrients You're Not Getting Enough Of

After a long hard day at the office, I crave a manly dinner. Something that will sharpen my mind, feed my muscles, and infuse me with energy to keep up with two young kids till bedtime.

So, often, I have a bowl of cereal. With bananas and whole milk. Mmm.

Do I feel like I’m depriving my body of key nutrients? Quite the opposite, actually. My favorite dinner isn't just for kids. It contains high levels of three nutrients that American adults need much more of: B12, potassium, and iodine. Our shortfalls with these nutrients—along with vitamin D and magnesium—have serious health consequences, including a higher risk of heart disease and stroke, fatigue, and weight gain.

Here's the good news: These nutrients are readily available in the foods you know and love. You can get more of one simply by spending more time outside. That doesn't sound so hard, does it? Here's how to fortify your diet—and your health.

This vitamin's biggest claim to fame is its role in strengthening your skeleton. But vitamin D isn't a one-trick nutrient: A study in Circulation found that people deficient in D were up to 80 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke. The reason? Vitamin D may reduce inflammation in your arteries. Also, a University of Minnesota study found that people with adequate vitamin D levels release more leptin, a hormone that conveys the "I'm full" message to your brain. Even more impressive, the study also found that the nutrient triggers weight loss primarily from the belly. Another study found that people with higher D levels in their bloodstream store less fat.

The shortfall: Vitamin D is created in your body when the sun's ultraviolet B rays penetrate your skin. Problem is, the vitamin D you stockpile during sunnier months is often depleted by winter, especially if you live in the northern half of the United States, where UVB rays are less intense from November through February. When Boston University researchers measured the vitamin D status of young adults at the end of winter, 36 percent of them were found to be deficient.

Eat foods like salmon (900 IU per serving), mackerel (400 IU), and tuna (150 IU). Milk and eggs are also good, with about 100 IU per serving. But to ensure you're getting enough, take 1,400 IU of vitamin D daily from a supplement and a multivitamin. That's about seven times the recommended daily intake for men, but it takes that much to boost blood levels of D, says Dr. Holick.


This lightweight mineral is a tireless multitasker: It's involved in more than 300 bodily processes. Plus, a study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that low levels of magnesium may increase your blood levels of C-reactive protein, a key marker of heart disease.

The shortfall: Nutrition surveys reveal that men consume only about 80 percent of the recommended 400 milligrams (mg) of magnesium a day. "Without enough magnesium, every cell in your body has to struggle to generate energy."

Fortify your diet with more magnesium-rich foods, such as halibut, navy beans, and spinach. Then hit the supplement aisle: Scrutinize the ingredients list. You want a product that uses magnesium citrate, the form best absorbed by your body.

Consider B12 the guardian of your gray matter: In a British study, older people with the lowest levels of B12 lost brain volume at a faster rate over a span of five years than those with the highest levels.

"We're seeing an increase in B12 deficiencies due to interactions with medications," says Katherine Tucker, Ph.D., director of a USDA program at Tufts University. The culprits: acid-blocking drugs, such as Prilosec, and the diabetes medication metformin.

You'll find B12 in lamb and salmon, but the most accessible source may be fortified cereals. That's because the B12 in meat is bound to proteins, and your stomach must produce acid to release and absorb it. Eat a bowl of 100 percent B12-boosted cereal and milk every morning and you'll be covered, even if you take the occasional acid-blocking med. However, if you pop Prilosec on a regular basis or are on metformin, talk to your doctor about tracking your B12 levels and possibly taking an additional supplement.


Without this essential mineral, your heart couldn't beat, your muscles wouldn't contract, and your brain couldn't comprehend this sentence. Why? Potassium helps your cells use glucose for energy.

Despite potassium's can't-live-without-it importance, nutrition surveys indicate that young men consume just 60 percent to 70 percent of the recommended 4,700 mg a day. To make matters worse, most guys load up on sodium: High sodium can boost blood pressure, while normal potassium levels work to lower it, says Lydia A. L. Bazzano, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of epidemiology at Tulane University.

Half an avocado contains nearly 500 mg potassium, while one banana boasts roughly 400 mg. Not a fan of either fruit? Pick up some potatoes—a single large spud is packed with 1,600 mg. Most multivitamins have less than 100 mg of potassium, so eat your fruits and vegetables, folks!

Your thyroid gland requires iodine to produce the hormones T3 and T4, both of which help control how efficiently you burn calories. That means insufficient iodine may cause you to gain weight and feel fatigued.

Since iodized salt is an important source of the element, you might assume you're swimming in the stuff. But when University of Texas at Arlington researchers tested 88 samples of table salt, they found that half contained less than the FDA-recommended amount of iodine. And you're not making up the difference with all the salt hiding in processed foods—U.S. manufacturers aren't required to use iodized salt. The result is that we've been sliding toward iodine deficiency since the 1970s.

Sprinkling more salt on top of an already sodium-packed diet isn't a great idea, but iodine can also be found in a nearly sodium-free source: milk. Animal feed is fortified with the element, meaning it travels from cows to your cereal bowl. Not a milk man? Eat at least one serving of eggs or yogurt a day; both are good sources of iodine.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Metrosexuals Have Been Replaced by the Spornosexuals

Rlation—particularly the urban male population. So, emember when "metrosexuals" became a thing? The term, created twenty years ago by Mark Simpson, describes men who are into their appearance, themselves, and have money to burn. It was a new way of thinking about men who cared about traditionally feminine things—grooming, their "look", and so on. At the time, it had ladies clutching their pearls, and men denying their metrosexuality for fear they'd be thought of as "girly" or "gay". But now, it describes the general male popuif metrosexuals have become the wildebeest of the human world, who are the peacocks?

It's the spornosexuals. A new breed of man, that's been slowly developing over the past few years, presumably on Instagram. In an article released by The Telegraph, Simpson states that the fusing of sports (and it's global stars like David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo) and sex helped fuel this new generation. Throw that in with a deep desire to be desired, social media ("Lemme take a selfie"), and the ripped dudes you see in ads and fitness magazines, and you've got yourself a new breed of man.

Think you might be part of this new generation? Take the quiz and find out.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Will More Protein Help Me Build More Muscle?

Q: “I know protein builds muscle, but if I consume more, will I build more?” —Alex D., Los Angeles, CA 

MF: Only up to a point. Protein is the main ingredient in muscle fiber, but it’s only one part of a complex system of nutritional, hormonal, and mechanical requirements that need to be balanced in order for muscles to grow bigger and stronger. More protein in lieu of hard training, optimal sleep, and sufficient calories and micronutrients won’t lead to results. The Men’s Fitness Food Pyramid calls for daily consumption of 1–1.5 grams of protein per pound of your body weight. This holds true whether your goal is muscle gain or fat loss.

For most people, erring on the low end of that range is fine. And don’t get fooled into thinking that slamming more protein after you train has a bigger impact. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition not long ago found that the post-absorptive response of muscle protein synthesis (i.e., muscle building) in subjects who consumed 40 grams of whey protein postworkout was no greater than that in guys who consumed only 20 grams of protein.