Wednesday, June 27, 2012

5 Workouts for Big Calves

Looking for big calves?  I was in that situation a while back, I had chicken legs.  I never had an issue getting a big upper body but it seemed like my leg workouts did nothing to help me with my calves.  I was embarrassed to wear shorts in public because of my twig legs.  I looked so disproportionate and it didn't help when others poked fun at my legs.  I decided there has to be something more I can do about this.

When any part of my body is lagging behind I go to war with my body and attack that muscle group aggressively.  I like to call this priority training, targeting an area of the body with several workouts.  I will work that area out 3 times a week specifically to get the results I want to see.  I did that with my calves for a couple months and finally saw much better results.  I now have legs that don't look like twigs and I feel great in shorts!  To see results in these exercises we need to keep increasing the weight each week to see real results.

1. Calf Press
We can perform the calf press on the leg press machine.  We want to keep our legs stationary without locking the knees, then using only our toes and the balls of our feet to extend the platform out.  You can see a demonstration in the video below. 3 Sets, 8-10 Reps


2. Standing Calf Press
Depending on what equipment you have available at your gym you can use either the calf raise machine or the smith machine.  If using the smith machine put a 35 lb plate on the ground to stand on the edge with your toes so you can get further range of motion.  On each set place your feet at a different angle so you can target different muscles, different positions are straight forward, toes pointed inward, toes pointed outward. 3 Sets, 8-10 reps.

3. Barbell Seated Calf Raises
Seated calf raises range of motion helps target other muscles that regular calf raises miss.  Again we will be using a 35 lb plate and use that to in front of a weight bench. 3 Sets, 8-10 reps.




4. Running Stairs
Running up stairs can make calves explode!  The best place to run is at a football stadium, check out your local college or high school for stadium stairs you can use.  If that isn't applicable you can use any other flight of stairs you can find.

5. Walking Uphill
If you have knee problems or other issues running then walking up steep inclines are great for building calves.  Find a very steep hill or residential area with big hills to walk in.

Don't Forget Nutrition
If you are not increasing your calorie and protein intake none of this will matter.  Sure you will see some gains in muscle and strength but you will not get the results you desire without proper nutrition to feed your muscles.  The biggest key is increasing your protein intake and keeping it above your current lean body mass.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Cutting Diet That Gets Results!

Thinking of going on cut?  Don't have a clue what cutting is?  Well you came to the right place.  Cutting is dropping your calorie intake to lose weight.  Typically most individuals like to cut to burn fat off their bellies or you can use this same diet to lose excessive weight.  It works for those already fit to those that just need to shed some pounds.  In this article you will find example foods to eat, how to calculate your calories, and how to create macro-nutrient needs.

Daily Calorie Needs
First, we need to find out what our daily calorie needs are.  We can do this by using this calorie calculator and plugging in the required information.  Once you calculate your numbers it will show you what calories you should shoot for to lose weight.  Typically a healthy weight loss target is a 500 calorie deficit per day.  You are probably wondering, how many calories is one pound of fat?  One pound of fat is around 3500 calories, so you could expect to lose a pound per week just off of dieting.  Add in cardio and strength training and you can easily lose 2-3 pounds a week.  Losing weight too quickly can be unhealthy and lead to muscle loss and loose skin.  On a cut you want to keep your weight loss around 10 pounds a month but those with a lot of weight to lose can lose a bit more and still be considered healthy.

Macro-Nutrient Needs
Protein - Protein is essential for maintaining the muscle you have while on a cutting diet.  You will want to keep your protein intake at 1g per body weight and possibly more if you are doing high intensity training.  For example, a individual that weighs 150lbs will want to take in between 150g to 160g of protein to maintain  muscle during a cut.

Fats - We are talking about healthy fats here.  Fats help keep your body healthy and maintain your sanity.  You will want to keep this at 1g to 2g per body weight or 1g is you are leaner.

Carbs - This is the one that is the hardest to calculate because it really relates to your level of activity.  If you are moderately active you should maintain 2 to 3g per pound of body weight.  If you are very active then you will need to increase this to 4g per pound.

How do I track these?
The best tool to track your calories and macros is MyFitnessPal.  You can also download it as an app for iPhone, iPad, and Android markets!  If you have a smartphone you can use the barcode scanner feature to scan everything that you eat.

This method of cutting flat out works.  It's really cut and dry; you eat at a deficit and lose weight because of it.  Throw in some cardio or strength training and boost that deficit even further to lose even more weight.  If you do this for 30 days and do no lose weight then there is something majorly wrong.  You need to make sure your calculations are correct and that you are correctly tracking everything that you eat to make sure that you are at a deficit.

Meal Planning
Breakfast:
Protein Shake or 2 Eggs
Granola Bar or Oatmeal

Lunch:
Chicken Breast
Brown Rice
Low Fat Yogurt
String Cheese
Apple or Bannana

Post Workout:
Protein Shake

Dinner:
Pasta or Rice
Lean Meat (Chicken, Fish, Turkey)
Vegetables (Broccoli, Peas, Asparagus, etc - I recommend steamer bags for quick meals)

Evening Snack:
Protein Shake or Protein Bar

Supplements:
Multi-Vitamin
Fish Oil

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Chocolate Milk After a Workout

According to two recent studies out of the University of Texas at Austin show that chocolate milk is the ideal post recovery drink after a workout.  Here you thought it was only for kids!  Though you can always claim it's for your kids when you buy it at the store.

"Serious and amateur athletes alike enjoyed physical recovery benefits when they drank low-fat chocolate milk after a vigorous workout," said Dr. John Ivy, lead researcher on the studies and chair of The University of Texas at Austin College of Education’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Education. "The advantages for the study participants were better body composition in the form of more muscle and less fat, improved times while working out and overall better physical shape than peers who consumed sports beverages that just contained carbohydrates."

It appears that the great tasting low fat chocolate milk has the right ingredients to help build muscle and burn fat.    Compared to three other leading sports drinks, chocolate milk improved maximal oxygen intake by double what other drinks provided tested athletes.  Athletes who drank the chocolate milk compared to athletes who used other sports drinks had a 3lb lean muscle advantage at the end of the study.

To maximize the potential you can mix in half a scoop of chocolate whey protein to double the effectiveness of the drink by maximizing your protein absorption, how much your body can absorb in an hour.

If you would like to read more on the study here is the University of Texas article link, http://www.utexas.edu/news/2011/06/22/milk_studies/

Friday, December 23, 2011

How to Lose Fat for Beginners

Fat loss isn't some big mystery that's a difficult thing to pull off.  The biggest thing is people are misinformed on how to lose weight.  They hear so much bullshit that doesn't work that they give up hope and never turn a corner.  Let's take a look at how effective weight loss can be easily obtainable.

  • Record Everything You Eat - This is the most difficult part because it can be easy to forget to record some of your meals.  I recommend using MyFitnessPal.com or their free app for all major smart phone markets.  In this day and age just about everyone has a smart phone and usually they have it on them all the time.  This free app allows you to easily record all your meals and even bar code scan the packaging.
  • Increase Protein Intake - By increasing your protein intake while you work out you will help build lean muscle.  You will want to consume at least .75 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass daily. This will make you look more attractive and not just skinny once you obtain your goal weight.  Use this equation, lean body mass = total weight - (total weight*body fat %)
  • Create Your Calorie Goal - Set your calorie intake 500 calories less than your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).  Calculations are below, you can also use the MyFitnessPal app which can also calculate this for you and the rate of weight loss you are seeking.
    • Sedentary (little or no exercise) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.2
    • Lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.375
    • Moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55
    • Very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.725
    • Extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.9
  • Typical Weight Loss - Typically you should begin losing 1 to 2 lbs per week, you will fluctuate each day so don't flip out.  It's best to weigh yourself once a week or you will easily make yourself discouraged.  If in the first couple weeks you do not start losing weight, don't freak.  You may have just built some muscle so it will cancel out your weight loss but don't worry, you're still burning fat.  If after two weeks you are still not dropping in weight you may need to lower your calorie intake further.
  • Exercise - Start working out at least three times a week, preferably by doing weight training.  Weight training burns more calories than cardio and will help you build lean muscle.  Just by working out you will not bulk up but will look toned.  Especially for females, weight training will help any female have a toned body.  Get a steady 45 minute workout with only breaking when you absolutely need to.
  • Eliminate Processed Sugars - Processed sugars are your enemy and you should eliminate them as much as possible.
Stick with this plan for two weeks and see if you lose any weight.  I would bet that you will lose a solid 4 to 6 lbs.  That could easily be 10 to 12 lbs a month!  It's a rinse and repeat method, stick with it and you will reach your goal weight.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

How to Put on Weight Fast - GOMAD

For a lot of individuals they have the opposite problem that most people face, being too skinny. I have some friends that have this problem, they are way to skinny for their height and never can eat enough it seems to put on any real weight. Usually it's a vicious cycle for them because their body demands less calories than someone of a normal weight so they have a smaller appetite.  Their daily calorie intake will be much lower than someone who weighs 30 lbs more than they do. By lacking the appetite you only end up eating what your body wants to maintain your current build, which in result means you never gain weight.

For most people to conquer this they will need to eat well beyond just being full during a meal and even more so throughout the day. But some people just can't do it, they can't stuff themselves beyond a certain point or they just feel sick and they can't obtain the calorie intake they need to put any weight on. There is a solution I have found that will work if you like drinking milk or you're not lactose intolerant.

 The GOMAD method, which means Gallon of Milk Per Day, is a weight gain method that has been around for many years. To do this method you will do exactly what is sounds like doing, drink a gallon of milk per day. Here are some of the benefits,
  1. Weight Gain:  Some weight gainers have reported gaining up to 25 lbs in 30 days.
  2. Strength Gain:  If you also work out the whole milk and protein can help build muscle and boost strength.
  3. It's Easy:  Drinking milk is about the easiest form of boosting your calorie and protein intake.  A lot easier than eating solids.
  4. It's Relatively Cheap:  For what it contains nothing rivals it.  Spend a few bucks per day on milk, heck you were probably already spending that on snacks.
You should purchase whole milk and ignore low fat or skim, they lack the calories and protein you need to bulk up.  If you want to even speed up the weight gain you can buy some whey protein to make shakes with the milk.  Chocolate whey is great with milk, if you grew up liking chocolate milk this can make it less boring.

You should eat every three hours and drink a 1/4 of a gallon at each sitting then have the other 1/4 post workout.  Just the milk alone will put you at 2400 calories per day and that can go even higher with whey protein and your meals.  It is best to go about 10 lbs above your goal weight as you will probably lose some of the weight once you are finished with GOMAD.  It's important to stop once you have reached your goal, you don't need to put on unnecessary weight.

Once you have completed a round of GOMAD you will quickly notice how much your appetite will grow.  Your body will be wanting more calories to maintain this new bigger body and if you keep up the intake you will easily maintain it.  Good luck with the weigh gain!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Personal Weight Loss Story

Hello all, I'm Jay and I run The Smart Fitness Blog.  I wanted to share my story of how I was once overweight and was able to drop the pounds.

A few years ago I gradually became overweight as I had become complacent to a desk job and didn't realize how inactive my life had become.  I spent way too much time playing video games and hanging out at bars with my buddies boozing it up.  I'm 6 ft tall and through high school and college I was able to maintain a weight of 170 to 180 lbs.  That all changed rapidly over the course of a year after becoming very inactive in my life.  Within a years time I reached 220 lbs by horrible eating habits, sitting on my butt, and drinking a lot of beer.

What was even more sad is that I didn't even realize it.  I never realized that I had gained over 40 lbs of fat and it wasn't until I saw a photo of myself that I started thinking, damn...what happened?  I had just been in my brother's wedding and about a month later I got to see the wedding photos and I thought who the hell is that guy?

What happened as a result?  For a few weeks I was really depressed and I hardly left the house.  Which made things worse but it wasn't until I talked about my issues with a co-worker who also felt out of shape that things changed.  We both decided that we would work out together to help motivate each other.  We managed to work out three times during the work week and we would separately do cardio on the weekend.

I also stuck to a strict low calorie diet where I only cheated once a week.  I went from drinking beer every other night to once every two weeks.  I ate high protein meals, lean meats, whole grain breads, and a lot of low fat yogurt.  If I was stuck in a position where I had to go out to eat dinner I would usually order some sort of chicken breast with a salad.

After 9 months of keeping up this regimen I had dropped my weight to 175 lbs.  Through hard work and motivation I was able to obtain the goals I desired.  For the first time in my life I was able to see my abs!  I had never been more excited about my body in my life.  I have since been able to maintain my weight and overall become more active in life.  I play sports, go hiking, and do other activities that I lacked in my slouch days.

You too can lose weight and get the body you want.  You need motivation and hard work to accomplish it.  There is no magic pill or mystery diet some greedy salesman wants to sell you.  Stick to the basics and you will lose weight!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Why Diets Don't Work

We all have seen the diet fads come and go but do they really work?  In a sense they usually do what they intend to do, make you lose weight, but will the weight stay off? Or is the diet even healthy?  Typically most diets are low carb this, low calorie this, low fat this, or even the look at how 'X' celebrity lost their weight.

Let's look at some of the top reasons why you should avoid these fad diets,

  1. Too Few Calories - These diets pull back your daily calorie intake way too much and in doing so you will end up in near starvation mode.  What happens when you are starving?  Your hunger gets out of control and you are more likely to gorge yourself with a large unhealthy meal.  Then you fail over and over with your diet till you are fed up with it and ditch it like the rest of them.
  2. Poor Food Selection - The allowed foods on these diets are very restricted and in turn can make you very depressed after a while.  What's the point of a diet if you can't enjoy good tasting food?  You go from solving your weight problem to gaining a new problem called depression.
  3. Doesn't Fit Your Schedule - Some of these fad diets are high maintenance and extremely time consuming.  We all don't have hours to commit to cooking and preparing meals.
  4. Low Carb Diets - Restricts your diet where you will be deficient of many vitamins and nutrients that your body needs.  Most foods required for these diets are high in saturated fat which only leads to clogging of arteries.
  5. Weight Watchers - Just a flat out pain in the ass.  Who has time to deal with the math involved and keep track of all the points.  Plus depending on what you eat during the day to keep within a points total you may be lacking nutrients your body needs.
The biggest issue with any diet is that they all are temporary solutions.  So what, you lost 20 pounds, is it really going to matter in two to three months when you gain it all back?  You know what's going to happen, you will end the diet because you reached your goal and go right back to your old habits.  You will put that weight right back on because NOTHING has changed.

The only way you can control your weight is by changing your lifestyle, eating healthy foods and staying active.  Whether you work out a few times a week or stay active with sports, these are the important factors that will help you control your weight.  Plus you will feel better; more energized, and have a better mood when you are able to balance your diet and body.  Stay away from the Hollywood fads and change your lifestyle for the better.
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