Cardio or Resistance Training?

I want to first start off by thanking you all for reading my blog and for the tremendous response we’re getting.  In this post I want to address a question we recently received via email at fitnessdefined@bodyblocksfitness.com (remember send me your questions).  The question was submitted by John C. (one of our readers) who asked,

“what is better for you, cardio or weight training?”

This has got to be one of the most common questions that I have been asked throughout my career and honestly there are a number of different beliefs regarding the question.  Surprisingly many people believe that cardio is the best choice between the two.  A majority of people seeking to lose weight head straight for the treadmills or the elliptical trainers.  The question is how did this become the “go to” remedy?  The reality is that people hang on to the beliefs and myths as if they were facts and truths.  They have no idea why, other than just because someone told them so.  There is no real accreditation, it’s just “that’s the way it’s always been done”.

Any type of training should be result specific.  This means that there should be a specific goal that the training is being used to accomplish.  Cardio (short for cardiovascular) is a great method to strengthen the heart and lungs and to improve oxygen flow throughout the body.  Yet as we stated, most individuals head to the cardio equipment when they are trying to lose weight and burn calories; very few people get on a cardio machine and say “oh I want to exercise my heart”.  The reality is that cardio alone burns fewer calories than weight training.  You might be saying right now “no, no that can’t be true” and I hate to break it to you, but it is.

Me training my good friend and long-time client Jerry

Obviously during your workouts you want to try and burn fat instead of muscle.  You can do this by focusing on burning off your glycogen first.  When the body breaks down complex carbs it produces glycogen which is then stored in your muscles as energy.  Your body is going burn off glycogen first before it burns the fat.  It’s easier to burn, like burning pine in fire vs. a piece of oak.  The pine will burn first.

Resistance training in the work zone* produces three times the caloric output of cardio. This means that you want to structure your workouts to ensure that you have enough energy to hit the work zone associated with your fitness goals.  In order to effectively reach the work zone, your muscles will require energy (glycogen). When you do your cardio before your resistance training, the initial 20 minutes are spent burning that glycogen which results in not having the energy to achieve your desired rep range; it will be as if someone has unplugged you. By starting with Resistance training you ensure that your muscles have the energy that they need to achieve the desired output. What’s better is that when you follow up your resistance training with cardio, your body is already in the fat burning zone.  This means that you are maximizing the potential of your entire workout!

So the real answer to John’s question is that fitness should not be a trade-off of Cardio or Resistance, rather it is a matter of balancing the two to ensure success.  At the end of the day, getting the best fitness results are a simple matter of exercise efficiency.  Hopefully this article demonstrates the drastic impact that something as simple as the order of exercise can have on fitness results.

For more information check out this article “Warm Up With Cardio, Then Go to Weights. Right? Wrong”.

Another great fitness myth busted!  Thanks for the question John.

Send your fitness questions to me directly at: fitnessdefined@bodyblocksfitness.com

*Work zone: Maximum output for a desired rep range. For example an individual attempting to increase muscle endurance should work in a 12 rep max range.  Therefore if more than 12 reps are achieved the weight was too light and if less than 12 reps the weight was too heavy.

3 Basic Work Zone Ranges:

Strength: 6 Rep Max

Hypertrophy: 8 Rep Max

Endurance: 12 Rep Max

Advertisements

Simple guidelines for making healthy choices.

Happy New Year readers!  Many people are currently flooding their local fitness centers and produce aisles, fueled by the motivation of the promises they’ve made to themselves to get healthier this year.  As I’ve said in the past fitness is not simply exercising, it is a lifestyle and perhaps the largest part of that lifestyle is choosing the proper foods to include in our daily diets.

I wanted to use this post to share a few simple facts to guide you in structuring a healthy daily diet.  The following guidelines should provide you with some basic fundamentals to get you going in the right direction.  We’ll tackle some of the more complex issues in future posts.

First you should try to avoid starting your day off with nothing to eat or by consuming only simple carbs.  As a general rule try mixing a protein with a complex carb (preferably an hour apart).  Space your meals out every 3-4 hours.  After all we are really designed to graze.

Simple Carbs are mainly sugars or highly processed complex carbs that can give the same affect.  These can be used as instant energy prior to a workout.  You’ll burn it up before you crash.  Now, I’m not saying go eat a spoonful of sugar, but if there is a little sugar in a pre-workout drink so what!  Any sugars and processed carbs, like white flour, act as simple carbs and are not good in abundance. General rule of thumb I like to follow is “the easier to grab and go food is (not including fruits) the more processed it is likely to be.  For example, instant oatmeal has more of the affects of a simple carb than oatmeal that takes even a few minutes to cook.

Complex carbs are your grain products and some vegetables that the body converted into glycogen and are stored as an energy source in your muscle.  These carbs are a sustainable energy source for your body.

You should be consuming about 1gram of protein per lb of lean body mass.  If you are active in exercise and resistance training, you should be bumping that up to 1 1/2-2 grams per lb of lean

body mass.  Don’t try and eat your recommended amount of protein.  Try adding in a supplement like a high quality protein powder to your diet.Proteins are used by our body to rebuild tissue.  We tend to be a more protein deficient society because they have to be prepared and we see them as less convenient.  Protein also helps to stabilize insulin levels in our bodies.

A common balanced diet ratio is broken down as follows:

60% carbs 30% proteins and 10% fats.

For those calorie counters out there:

  • 1gram carb = 4 calories
  • 1gram protein = 4 calories
  • 1gram fat = 9 calories

As I said this was meant to be a simple guide.  Ultimately diets are simply an ongoing set of choices that we make everyday.  Information allows us to make educated and informed decisions. So the question is: now that you’re better informed, what choices will you make today?

Holiday eating made simple!

In preparation for the holidays you don’t have to diet, hit the gym more than normal or even avoid your favorite holiday meals.  Let’s take a look at how you can relieve some of your waistband concerns about holiday eating.

“what you think you are eating and what you are eating tend to be two completely different things.”

99% of the time, what you think you are eating and what you are eating tend to be two completely different things.  So really be honest with yourself and take a look at what your normal eating habits are.  If 80-90% of the time you are eating correctly, do you really think a few days of eating  whatever you want is going to change your life?  Not a chance.  At the same time, if you consistently have a poor diet, gorging at the holidays is really not all that different.

The holidays should never be an excuse to say “oh I can eat whatever I want”.  If you want it, have it.  But then be accountable for what you’ve eaten in the past.

If you are one of those people who just can’t help themselves and say “Oh, I want everything”, take precautions.  Don’t wait all day to eat and then binge on a big meal.  Try eating a handful of almonds and a yogurt earlier on and other healthy snack size meals before you sit down for dinner.  This way, by time you get to the main course you can enjoy the meal without over eating.

There is no quick fix to make that holiday meal magically disappear.  In order to prevent anxiety around the holidays take a look at your normal eating habits, graze on healthy snacks before you sit down for dinner and get back on track when all is said and done.

Happy Holidays!

The Taboo About Diets

“…diets are no longer a matter of ‘to eat or not to eat?’ …rather they become a behavior of making the proper choices between WHAT to eat and what NOT to eat.”

We have done an excellent job in America of tabooing the word diet to mean something bad.  To mean “I have to starve myself” when in reality everyone is on a diet.  Whatever you are eating is your diet.

The need to eat is innate.  Your body tells you that it needs fuel.  “I can’t concentrate”, “I’m tired”, “I feel weak”, these are all different ways your body tells you it needs fuel.

What you eat on the other hand is a learned behavior.  So addressing your diet becomes a case of behavior modification.  Once you do this, diets are no longer a matter of ‘to eat or not to eat?’ …rather they become a behavior of making the proper choices between WHAT to eat and what NOT to eat.; That is the real question that everyone should be asking.

So once you wrap your head around that and remove the negative stigma surrounding the word, you realize that you simply have to change or better your diet.  That’s where the challenge lies.  It’s in creating the habit.  But once you do, you empower yourself to  truly change your life.

Now, you need to be educated on what the right choices are.  Please don’t attempt to make an immediate 180 degree change in your diet.  It’s important to make a few changes at a time.  If I asked you to jump a 10ft distance in a single jump I’m setting you up to fail.  But, if I ask you to make that same distance in 3 jumps you are more likely to succeed.  Take the same approach to your diet and before you know it, you’ll be making healthy choices without a whole lot of conscious effort.

You now have the proper mind set to start this journey, now stay tuned for some more specific healthy eating tips that will help you along the way.

More than a workout; Fitness is a lifestyle!

Movement is the key to life. We’ve become such a sedative society which is why we have so many health issues. We have all the knowledge, all the research and resources, yet we are the unhealthiest country in the world right now.

Think about it… People come from all over the world to the United States  to utilize the knowledge and resources that we have to offer and yet overall as a society we don’t apply any of it ourselves. It’s ludicrous!

Movement is what keeps people alive; it’s a fact of life. Nowadays doctors even prescribe exercise and movement as a means to stay healthy.

Read this USA Today article that discusses exercise prescriptions.

Dr. Raul Vazquez does Tread-a-Thon

                              wivb.com

Read this amazing story about my friend Dr. Raul Vazquez (above) who spent his day seeing his patients while walking on a treadmill to call awareness to obesity and the need to get healthy

Your body is your one vehicle in life, yet you put it in jeopardy. Fitness should be just as important as any meeting or appointment. If you’re not healthy you can’t do your job. Don’t be intimidated either. Fitness can be as simple as just getting up and moving. Taking a 5-10 minute walk two times a day would be a great start.

“I don’t have time”, “I’m not a fitness person”, these are all calculated lies to yourself. Everybody has a choice and these calculated lies become hurdles that you create for yourself. So take some accountability and get up and move. After all fitness isn’t just a workout at a gym or a mile run… It’s your LIFE! Ultimately its a choice, a lifestyle.

Ready, Set, Go!

A passion for fitness right from the start!

I always had this innate feeling towards fitness. It all came very naturally to me, almost like I had done it before. I never felt like a fish out of water in the gym. As a 5th grader growing up playing football in Chicago, Illinois, I was able to utilize the weight room at my high school, setting me apart from other kids in my grade. My training involved techniques kids my age wouldn’t have even considered.

My experience evolved when I moved to Columbus, Ohio in the 8th grade because their football program, training techniques and facilities were even more progressive than back in Chicago. It was wild.

When I moved to Buffalo, New York my junior year of high school the schools didn’t have access to the level of equipment I was used to. It almost felt as if my training was taking a step backwards. That’s when I built a gym in the basement of my house where my teammates and I worked out constantly.

I was fortunate to come up on the wave of the fitness revolution. At that time there was a lot of research and progression in the world of fitness and I wanted to learn more. Looking back at what we did in the 80s, which at that time was cutting edge, is now pretty much obsolete. I was never satisfied. I always knew there was more and the field was always evolving. I needed to be a part of it.

With my passion for constantly improving my knowledge and athletic ability I was able to excel. When I had the opportunity to play at the college level I couldn’t turn it down. I was originally recruited to play at Kent State, but ended up at Cortland State. It ended up being a great opportunity due to one of the country’s top programs in exercise science. Funny how things work out.

At that age no one really knows what they want to do in life and I wasn’t any different, but being a part of that team and at that school, my calling became clear to me. I never wanted to be a teacher, but I what I do is teaching.

I graduated from Cortland State with my BS in Physical Education with a concentration in Sports Medicine. I am a member of the American College of Sports Medicine and National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and hold a number of other certifications.

After graduation I continued playing football in the NFL, CFL and AIFA leagues. It was amazing to have the opportunity to play football in the AIFA league in Italy for 3 years. After my first season overseas I lived in New York City and worked with a well-known personal trainer. In preparation for the end of my football career I took the New York City Police Exam. I received a call to report for my NYC Police Physical during my second season in Italy and was extremely lucky to have the opportunity extended until after my return.

When my time in Italy was up I came back to Columbus and made a stop in Buffalo to see my parents. At this point I was unsure if I wanted to go back to live in Ohio, head to Chicago, venture out to sunny California or finally report for the NYC Police Physical Exam.

In the fall of 1987 I put everything else aside. I decided to plant some roots in Buffalo and opened up Body Blocks. Personal Training to the extent I was exploring was new in this area, but I wanted the chance to bring my knowledge of the field to our community.

At first everyone told me I was nuts. No way would this work. Regardless, I opened January 4, 1988 and by April I was so busy that I already had to hire 2 more trainers.

It was a challenge having to prove to everyone the first year that I wasn’t crazy. I tore up my NYC Police papers for my physical exam that upcoming May and I have never looked back. This January marks our 25th Anniversary.