The Best Workout Routine Is...

The longer I’m a trainer, the more I read, the more I find myself constantly changing/tweaking/improving the exercise programs of my clients. Long gone are the days when I thought I knew it all and was too good to change. First it was balance movements with the stability ball, BOSU, and air disc. Then I fell in love with suspension work using the TRX. Now I’m Russian kettlebell certified (RKC) using kettlebells & sandbags… along with all of the standards (barbell, dumbbells, bodyweight). What typically leads me on these research journeys is when someone either plateaus or worse, gets hurt.

When I start using a new program or equipment, I use it with everyone. What good is a program if I can only use it with some of my clients? That was my initial beef with kettlebells. All of my clients weren’t good candidates for, nor should they try, kettlebell snatches. It wasn’t until I received my RKC that I realized that maybe they’ll just learn to hip hinge, and perform the deadlift. That’s okay. It’s when someone starts to complain about pain that I’ll investigate the movement, first by critiquing their specific movement pattern, and if that’s okay, then the movement pattern of the exercise. What I’m starting to observe is that you have to write your workouts in pencil, not pen. Unless you have Superman’s x-ray vision or a portable MRI machine, you’re not going to know what’s going on inside their body, or as I like to say…”under the hood”. Variable leg lengths, scar tissue from past surgeries, joint capsule issues, past injuries, are just a few of the obstacles that can make your dream exercise a ticking time bomb for someone. Next add all of the negative lifestyle issues that affect posture into the mix.

A well respected strength coach who works with world class athletes eliminated working on stability balls because a ball burst while he had one of his million dollar athletes working on it. It didn’t help that he was holding a pair of 120lb dumbbells. Lucky for him he wasn’t hurt. I think that may have been an emotional knee jerk reaction, but I understand his reasoning. There was a risk of injury, time to re-evaluate the exercise. I’m frequently asked about CrossFit. I love many of the exercises that they perform in CrossFit, but I’m not a fan of working a skilled exercise to exhaustion. I think you walk a fine line of risking injury when you do that. I personally feel that physical therapists have adopted Pilates as “their” strength training protocol not because of the results it demonstrates, but more because of the low risk of injury. I feel that the best exercise routine is the routine that will make you stronger, leaner, and improve mobility without hurting you. I’m willing to state that you truly don’t know the long term effects of many programs until you implement them. So what’s best- bodyweight, suspension work, kettlebells, sandbags, barbells, dumbbells, or ropes? I’ll answer that with 4 simple words. For what & for whom. See you in the gym.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

This is a great video demonstrating HIIT training. The only equipment you need is a swing sized kettlebell & TRX suspension system. Give it a try.

Seven tips on how to win our Back to School Bodyfat challenge

On September 13 we commenced our "Back to School Body Fat Challenge", now that's a mouthful. The challenge will award the person who loses the most bodyfat in 10 weeks. The winner will win a gym membership, 1 year of personal training, and a $1,000 shopping spree to a local boutique. Below are a few tips that I recommended to all of the participants.

1. Plan ahead and schedule all of your workouts for the next 10 weeks. To make a dramatic and noticeable change in body composition, drop fat & gain muscle… Yes, I did say gain muscle, you will need to get in 3 strength training workouts a week plus 3 sessions of cardio. So do the math, that’s 30 strength training sessions & 30 cardio workouts in 10 weeks. That’s not a lot, but with only 10 weeks you can’t afford to miss any workouts. For example, knowing ahead of time that you may have to travel for 3 days in week 6, and you won’t be able to workout while away, you can plan on doubling up your workouts. If possible, I recommend alternating workouts (see example below):
• Day 1 Strength training (45min- 1 hr)
• Day 2 Cardio (30 minutes)
• Day 3 Strength training (45min- 1 hr)
• Day 4 Cardio (40 minutes)
• Day 5 Rest
• Day 6 Strength training (45min- 1hr)
• Day 7 Cardio (30 min)
Then rinse & repeat the cycle.

2. Get a training partner or hire a trainer  Know ahead of time that even the most inspired athletes have days that they don’t want to exercise. Having a partner creates an accountability component. Hopefully on those down days, your partner or trainer will help to energize you and get you through your workouts. Know ahead of time that every workout will NOT be a home run. Treat your workouts like a game of baseball, some days you just need to put the bat on the ball & get on base. If you’re looking to hire a trainer, I know this great trainer who gets results!

3. Schedule a time once a week to plan your meals & prepare your food for the week. It’s no secret that most people blow their eating regime when they don’t have healthy options available. Some of the worst choices are made when they are done on the fly. Don’t make that mistake, so make sure you have breakfast foods ready so you don’t skip it, snacks like salt-free almonds or cashews around for that mid-afternoon snack, and tons of fresh veggies to add to every meal. Remember the key to winning is in the details.

4. After reading point #3, plan on having 1 cheat meal once a week. I said cheat meal not cheat day!! One of the reasons I was inspired to create this challenge was to give people a short term goal. On a good eating regime you should be consuming 3 meals a day with 2-3 light snacks. So that’s 21 meals & 14-36 snacks a week. One cheat meal won’t destroy any improvements and positive strides you’re making. More important, that single meal will help you to keep it clean throughout the week. If you are having date night with your husband or wife, enjoy your dinner guilt –free, because in the morning it’s back to “Game On”.

5. Let the people around you know that you’re involved in a challenge. Throughout the next 10 weeks you’re going to need support. Remember, even Clark Kent needed a phone booth to be Superman! Our families & friends are great, but it’s tough to say no when we’re invited over to watch the game with beer & wings. This also helps that feeling that “I’m being anti-social if I say no”, or choose not to eat mom’s lasagna. Hopefully they will applaud your efforts and offer you healthy options, or better yet ask…”what can I bring?”

6. Choose 1 source for information on fitness & dietary needs & stick to it. One of the keys to winning is consistency, so if you ask me (Doug), or a “really buffed person” at the gym, and then read an article on yahoo, you may get 3 different viewpoints. This can lead to confusion or worst, frustration. So whichever one you choose, and choose wisely, stick with that one.

7. Finally, pace yourself. Even though I feel that these next 10 weeks will fly by, it is a marathon not a sprint. And hopefully after you’ve dropped bodyfat, inches, and put on quality muscle in the next 2 months you won’t throw away all of your hard work & efforts by making poor eating choices and blowing off your workouts after November 22nd. Enjoy the ride. Many of you may want to know “how do you lose 10% body-fat or 15lbs in 10 weeks?” My response is 1% or 1 ½ lbs a week. Sounds simple, but that’s the key. Slow & steady. Good luck with the challenge. I will be sending out weekly e-mails with great low-fat recipes, exercise recommendations, motivation & dietary tips so check your inboxes.

Which Diet

I am always asked questions regarding healthy nutrition and the latest, most popular diets.  I try to make it clear that I am a personal trainer and not a dietician.  Of course, with over thirty years as a certified trainer, I have a good knowledge of proper nutrition.  I also have my own personal opinions on healthy eating and fad diets.

I believe a red flag should go up when a diet does not “allow” whole food groups, such as grains or dairy products.  General and long term health benefits definitely come into question when this occurs.  Certain nutritional deficits can increase when careful attention is not given to a balanced diet.

Many times when grains are eliminated, the emphasis is on protein ingestion.  There are risks with long term high protein diets.  Most are too high in saturated fats, which can lead to heart disease and other illnesses. Although high protein diets can result in weight loss, it can also cause high ketone levels. This condition, called ketosis, can be very serious and can cause gout, kidney stones, or renal failure.

If a diet is low in carbohydrates, low energy can result.  Although the high protein diets allow carbohydrates through vegetables and to a lesser degree, fruit, the amount is still lower than if whole grains were ingested.  Thus, feelings of fatigue and weakness may result.  Please note that balancing a diet without a food group can be done, but most people do not balance it properly.

The bottom line is there are pros and cons to most diets.  The best one is a diet that is designed for each individual with all specific health issues in mind.

Why the Importance of Good Alignment

I don't think a person exists that grew up without hearing "Sit up straight!" from some well-meaning adult, (most probably Mom). Most of the time, it was coming from someone who undoubtedly was guilty of slouching to some degree.

What exactly is good posture? It is commonly described in the health and fitness world as the position the body is in where it is the most efficient, also known as being in good alignment. To take that a bit further, let's look at the numerous benefits of good posture. Proper alignment can help improve your breathing mechanics, prevent joint stress and pain, decrease injury risk, increase the body's movement efficiency, increase sports performance, and increase a stronger, more confident, and younger appearance.
Most of the time, it is fairly obvious to detect visibly poor posture in a person. The slouched shoulders, head jutting forward, and rounded upper back are easy tips. There are many other clues which are not so obvious to a typical onlooker. More signs of poor alignment are elevated hip or shoulder areas, internal or external rotation of one side of the body, one side of the pelvis tilted forward, back or too high, and fallen arches in the feet.

A skilled fitness professional can help with many of the issues that arise from poor posture during exercise, which can include muscle imbalances, body compensations for muscle tightness or pain, or poor movement patterns or problems during activity.

It is possible to change poor posture habits but it takes consistent and patient effort. Have a fitness expert help you find proper alignment in your body, not only while standing or sitting, but also while moving. Consciously correct your posture throughout the day. Avoid sitting for prolonged periods of time. It takes much more effort to maintain proper posture while sitting than it does while standing. Do some office work standing up.

Remember to strengthen the whole body, not just the areas that appear aesthetically problematic. Strengthen and stretch those important hip muscles. It is usually an area that is commonly weak and tight on individuals which contributes to poor alignment. Keep your abdominal and core area strong with a variety of strengthening exercises, particularly with variations of the plank.
As if the reasons above were not enough, there is a definite mind and body connection that is strengthened with proper alignment. You will feel more energetic, perform better, and just feel better every time you use your body correctly!

Working out with the Superband

The Superband is a great verstile tool that can go anywhere. Watch as I show you two quick lower body exercises you can with the Superband.

A Great low-fat option: Midnight Chocolate Cake with Fudge Icing

Here is a good recipe I found that offers a little indulgence without all the fat. This recipe promises to cut the calories and fat without sacrificing flavor. The unsweetened cocoa in this recipe adds an antioxidant kick that will satisfy your chocolate cravings and help chase away oxidative stress.

Midnight Fudge Cake
1 cup of Sugar In The Raw (Turbinado sugar)
2 large eggs
2 (2.5 ounce) containers of "baby food" prunes
1 1/4 cup nonfat milk
1 teaspoon (tsp) vanilla
2 cups oat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tablespoon (tbs) Stevia with fiber
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp instant coffee powder (decaf, if you prefer)

Directions for cake- Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and line (with parchment paper) two 8 or 9 inch cake pans. Cream sugar, eggs, and prunes. Add milk and vanilla; whisk well. Measure and whisk dry ingredients together and whisk into liquid ingredients, mixing well. Pour batter into pans and bake for 20-25 minutes. Cake is done when you insert toothpick and it comes out with some moist crumbs on it. Cool for 10 minutes in pan, remove from pan and wrap in plastic wrap or cover with plastic wrap and a towel until ready to frost.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting
1/2 cup Sugar in the Raw
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup nonfat milk
1/4 cup Earth Balance (buttery spread)
1/2 tsp instant coffee
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla

Directions for frosting- In saucepan combine sugar, cocoa, milk, Earth Balance spread, coffee and salt. Bring to boil and boil for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add vanilla and continue stirring until frosting begins to cool and thicken slightly (as soon as you feel it thicken, stop stirring and pour over cake to frost). Serves 12

So here's the breakdown- 219 calories, 5.2 grams (g) fat (1.7 g saturated fat);17g carbohydrate;6.2g protein;4.7g fiber;32 milligrams (mg) cholesterol; 64 mg sodium.


Chest Press using the Rip trainer

The Rip trainer by TRX has become a staple in my client workouts. When the objective is to strengthen the core I typically think of various ways you need to brace the spine against resistance. I never did much in regards to asymmetrical loads to the body. The Rip trainer makes this easy to do. Today I perform a chest press while maintaining a neutral spine with the Rip trainer. Chest & core in a single movement. Now for the record, the load you're using will be lightened dramatically compared to what you may use on a standard chest press machine, but my argument is that you should only be using a load for chest presses that you can use while stabilizing your spine anyway. My goal is to build for "Go", not just for "Show".


Check out this video and tell me what you think.

A great tool to help you get quicker

I'm a big fan of agility ladder, hurdles, and cone work to improve foot quickness. But another tool I like to use is the slide board. It challenges you in the frontal plane which has a good carryover to most sports. It's a form of unilateral exercise. And finally, to be efficient at it you need to have a good initial burst step. The obstacles that most experience with the board is having access to one, or the fear of falling when trying to perform the slides. Well, get over your anxiety, and get on it! They're great, and provide a good challenge. Even if you're not training for the NFL combine, you can add a good aerobic workout to your routine. This is a nice change of pace exercise for a metabolic circuit. Again, give it a try, and let me know how it goes.


See you in the gym!

The Turkish Get Up...the Best of all worlds

If you really want to learn how to draft up your workout routine watch a baby learning to walk for the first time. No seriously. They start from the ground and typically get up from a crawl or kneeling position. This requires mobility in the hips, and muscle flexibility. They then drive up from this position like a lunge, and typically work to maintain there balance, while maintaining enough strength to stay up. Isn't that how we should workout? Combine strength, balance, flexibility, and mobility all into a single exercise. That's why I value the Turkish Get up as one of my favorite movements. Because it does exactly that. We need to start combining things as opposed to separating our modalities. Watch this video, observe what I mean, and I urge you to strongly consider mixing TGU into your routine. See you in the gym.


J & D Fitness
4180 South Fort Apache Rd,
Las Vegas, NV 89147