Good Ways to Track Progress in Fitness Level

One of the most important aspect of any fitness regimen or dieting plan is being able to determine the level of efficacy of your efforts. Many people believe that you need access to a high-tech fitness lab to effectively measure your results, but this simply is not true. There are a few simple things which you can track that will help you keep a tab on your success. Here are five fitness tests that will help you determent your general fitness level.

Cardiorespiratory Capacity or V02max

If you’ve seen the fitness TV spots featuring Olympic and Professional Athletes running on treadmills with masks on, the you have seen tests for V02max. Simply put, these tests are trying to determine how efficiently these athletes are utilizing oxygen while exerting energy. However, you do not need all of this fancy equipment in order to track this. Simply go to your local track, and be sure to bring your stopwatch. Run for twelve minutes and track your distance. Then use this online tool to help you figure out your personal V02Max.

One-Rep Max

Carl Koenemann Fitness 1Most people who log significant time in the weight-room have probably know of this test. This is because it was one the most effective manners with which to track improvements. However, experts warn against novices trying to lift their maximum weight in just one rep. They point to the Brzycki equation a a great alternative. This equation can take data from a multi-rep set, and quite accurately predict what your one-rep max would be.

Muscular Endurance

Muscular Endurance tracking includes both push and sit-up tests, as well as plank tests. You can compare your results to the general population by using an online tool provided by ExRx.

Regarding the pushup test, simply do as many repetitions of push ups as you can. Keep in mind that maintaining proper form is absolutely imperative in determining true improvement.

For the sit-up test, complete as many reps as you can in a minute time window. For best results, use a partner to hold own your feet.

7 Tips for Fitness Newbies

Staying healthy and getting fit are very challenging. There is a ton of information, much of which is not applicable to you or just plain erroneous and unhealthy. It is ever tougher when you are new to fitness and are just looking to get started down a good path. Here are 7 helpful tips for people that are new to fitness.

1. Explore changes to your daily habits and behaviors

Perhaps you have a goal of losing 20 pounds by a certain date, but that won’t come easy or thanks to one singular action. Your daily habits and behaviors have a longer term influence on you reaching your desired results.

2. Adopt the Pareto principle (80/20 rule)

Although this is borrowed from the business world, the 80/20 rule is a great rule to employ when sifting through the volumes of information that is out there as you start your fitness journey. For business; 20 percent of your customers represents 80 percent of your sales. We can adapt that to: 20 percent of your time leads to 80 percent of your results. Always look for the methods and advice that will give the most value to your goal.

Seven great tips for anyone who is beginning to work out

Seven great tips for anyone who is beginning to work out

3. Know that there are different paths to healthy eating

Healthy eating is not just eating the most obscure meals under the impression that they are good for you. What’s good for you may not always taste good for you, and there are plenty of palate pleasing foods that are good for you.

4. Get a good amount of sleep

Lack of sleep affects our bodies in many ways, including increasing hunger cravings which will cut into any result achieved thus far in your fitness journey. Sometimes, people devote more time to working out – which on top of an already busy schedule throughout the day can mean less sleep at night. Avoid that, sleep is your greatest ally.

5. Find the right workout program for your specific goals

Just as there are many paths to healthy eating, there are also many paths to reaching the rest of your goals. Finding a workout program you enjoy can mean the difference between sticking to it or giving up early on if you feel that you aren’t getting results.

6. Don’t be a prisoner to your diet

While sticking to your diet is important, it is not important (and not even encouraged) to be too strict with your diet. A slice of cake or a few glasses of wine will not ruin your efforts up to that point. Being discipline, i.e. having just ONE slice of cake as opposed to three, no matter how delicious the cake is, is more important.

7. Your self-worth is not determined by your body

For anyone looking to start getting into the fitness world, it is also important to maintain a healthy mindset. While it is okay to strive toward a certain look, always be aware that your self-worth is not determined by you reaching that mental image of what you want to look like.

The Harmful Effects of Sitting

According to Lisa Marshall at Men’s Journal, the time we spend sitting during the day may be one of the most detrimental things we do to our long-term health. The 33 year old Adam St. Pierre who runs more than 50 miles a week and goes to a massage therapist twice monthly experienced this firsthand. Last year, during the height of his running season, was being bothered by tight hip flexors. He tried nearly everything to alleviate this issue, but seemingly nothing was working. That is when Adam decided to convert his working space to a standing desk. According to Marshall, his ailment was cured within just one week.

Studies show that sitting every day can carry longterm health risks

Studies show that sitting every day can carry longterm health risks

Marshalls points out that  sitting may represent one of the least conspicuous health threats of the 21st century. Experts in the new field of inactivity physiology say that a rise in blood sugar, the tightening of muscles, the slowing of blood flow to the heart are all attributed to sitting for prolonged periods of time.  Marc Hamilton, who serves as a professor at Louisiana’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center, says that this sedentary activity for a day or week at a time is not particularly harmful. But, doing this everyday over the course of years or even decades can incredibly detrimental to one’s health. A recent study reveals that people who, on average, are sitting for the majority of the day develop cardiovascular disease as twice the rate of those who do not.

The data also highlights a somewhat unexpected effect regarding exercise and sitting. Marathoners are found to sit around an astonishing 11 hours the days that they train. Additionally, people sit twice as much on the days that they exercise.

However, experts say that the solution to the problem is quite easy and simple. Small movements even while sitting can have a big impact. Simply fidgeting in your chair, or flexing your calves can have a dramatic effect. Experts call this type of movement NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis). Studies have found that the these small movements can burn as much as 400 calories each day. That’s not to say that one shouldn’t exercise regularly or opt for a standing desk, but supplementing your daily routine with NEAT can help you in the long run . Experts have outlined 4 simple tips to help you stand more. These including standing when you feel tired or you yawn, plan your standing/sitting in minutes per day, changing your mindset about sitting, and take quick walks throughout the day.

 

Seven Easy Things to Boost your Health

Here’s a list of seven easy things you should incorporate into your life to help boost your health.

1. Meditate
Meditation has been proven to yield a variety of health benefits.

Meditation has been proven to yield a variety of health benefits.

Meditation has been around for centuries, but has only recently emerged in the last few decades as a popular practice in the western world. Meditating for 10-20 minutes every day to relax and search introspectively has been shown to alleviate stress, improve sleep quality, improve blood pressure, boost the immune system, and help with cardiovascular function.

2. Sleep

Many career-oriented people simply do not get enough sleep on a nightly basis.  No matter healthy you eat or how often you work out, proper amount and quality of sleep is a must for wholistically healthy lifestyle. Sleep deprivation actually lessens the efficacy of exercise and diet. Experts recommend that you average around seven to eight hours a night, but it varies by person. Additionally, research has demonstrated that lack of sleep actually impairs brain function and makes it difficult to focus

3. Drink Tea

Tea boats an arsenal of benefits that helps boost both the health of one’s brain and body. Some research has proven that consistently consuming Green tea can improve memory and cognition. Also, tea speeds up your metabolism, lowers blood pressure, boosts immunity, and helps with bad breath. So when you’re thinking about grabbing another morning cup of coffee, opt for some tea instead.

4. Floss

Here’s something you probably didn’t think you would see on this list. Flossing is not only important to maintaining dental hygiene. If you don’t floss regularly and your gums become infected, that bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause internal inflammation.

5. Warm-up Before Workouts

Recent research has shown that stretching before exercise might actually do more harm than good. If you actually partake in a dynamic warm-up, including lunges and high-skips, will help mitigate the chance of injury and lead to a better workout

6. High Intensity Interval Training

British Researches have shown that training in a high-intensity interval training style can result with equal benefits you get with endurance training. The upside is that it takes a lot less time.

7. Wear Sunglasses

Sunglasses represent the only way to protect one’s eyes. You should throw on a pair of shades any time you think you’ll be exposed to the sun’s rays for a significant amount of time.

8. More Fiber

Fiber consumption is absolutely integral to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Fiber can help lead to a longer life by aiding weight loss, reducing inflammation and blood pressure, and lessen the risk of developing diabetes.

Top 7 Fitness Apps

Here is a list of my top-7 fitness and health apps. Please suggest any other apps that you believe belong on this list.

7. Tempo run

Brunell University recently released a study confirming that listening to music while exercising has its definite advantages. In fact, jamming out to tunes with the tempo between 120 and 140 beats per minute during exercise may boost longevity by nearly 15 percent. This app, TempoRun, collects and then sorts the collection of songs on your phone by tempo, allowing you to optimize your workout playlist to increase fitness.

6. ViewRanger Outdoor GPS & Maps

Outdoor GPS Tracker

View Ranger Outdoor GPS

This application is intended for consumers with an affinity towards outdoor sports. The app provides a list of the nearest and best swimming, hiking, cycling, and running routes.  The app has a myriad other useful options such as listing the best bird watching spots along your route and close-by rescue operations if you find yourself in precarious situation.

5. Seven-Minute Workout

This app is perfect for the person having difficulty finding the time to get in shape.  Seven-Minute Workout utilizes a high-intensity regimen consists of twelve different exercises of 30 second intervals. The basic version of the app is free, but users can pay to access more features.

4. Myfitnesspal

This calorie-counter app is lauded almost across the board by fitness professionals as it is free of charge and possesses a very intuitive interface.  Myfitnesspal seamlessly counts and keeps track of one’s daily calorie intake, and even allows the user to set goals to help achieve their target weight.

3.  Fitocracy

Carl Koenemann Fitocracy

Fitocracy App

Fitocracy, acting as a facebook-esque fitness app, brings together fellow fitness fanatics and experts. The app serves as a motivational tool helping facilitate progress in users’ workout regimens and goals with the support of fellow Fitocrats. It’s incredibly useful and was lauded by Men’s Journal magazine as they named it the app of the year in 2012.

2. Pzziz Sleep

A  sound sleep cycle is often an underappreciated aspect of one’s exercise and health regimen.  If you sleep too little, too much, or too often you may be diminishing the benefits of your existing diet and exercise. Pzziz, using euphonious and soothing sounds such as that of the ocean or forest, helps you fall asleep more quickly and helps you achieve a better night’s rest once you fall asleep.  In my opinion, it is the best app of it’s kind on the market.

1. Nike + Running Free

This is a one-stop shop for runners and it’s incredibly easy.  After simply turning on the app, it begins to collect detailed accounts of your running route including information about your distance, time, direction, and speed.  Additionally, the app possesses a neat feature in which you can challenge other users of the app to match your running results.


Please check out more of Carl Koenemann’s posts on music, finance, and healthy lifestyle choices.

Fitness Tips – Getting Started

If you’re looking to get yourself in the gym, there are a lot of things that you should be aware of beforehand. While simply throughout some shoes on and running out the door is certainly healthier than sitting on the couch all day, there are some general guidelines to follow to make sure that you are replenishing your body and that you do not injure yourself. Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to looking and feeling better.

First Things First: Nutrition

Read up on my nutrition section before grabbing your gym bag. Nutrition is what fuels you – if you do not have the proper foods in your diet, you’ll only be able to run so far before you fall over or catch a cramp. Proper nutrition is crucial to building muscle. Make sure your balanced diet consists of fruits, veggies, complex carbs, proteins and fats.

It’s also important to start eating more often. Instead of three large meals a day, break it down into five or six meals. This way you are continuing to stimulate your metabolism throughout the day. As your activity levels decrease throughout the day, eat less as the day goes on.

Control portions and eat with a purpose. Everything should offer some sort of nutritional value. For portions – it’s a good idea to make sure that meats are smaller than your palm and that pastas are not larger than your fist.

How to Build Muscle

A protein shake is a great way to repair your muscles after a workout.

A protein shake is a great way to repair your muscles after a workout.

When it comes to building muscle, there are some basics that you should be aware of. You need to increase your caloric and complete protein intake – that’s the basics in terms of nutrition. When in the gym, make sure you are focusing on form. Compound movements, weight training four times a week. You want as little movement as possible – only target specific muscle groups. And rest, rest, rest! Muscle tissue repairs when you’re outside of the gym.

Also, go for as much range of motion as possible. When it comes to how heavy the weights should be, have each exercise last 30 to 45 seconds; if it lasts longer or shorter than that, change the weight accordingly.

Finally, get the proper supplements. It’s hard to meet the requirements for protein intake – look into shakes for after your workouts.

Endurance

Hydration and proper nutrition are the basis for endurance. This type of training is very draining on your body – you’ll be burning calories like crazy, so you need to make sure you’ve increased your caloric intake. When it comes to endurance, you’re trying to exhaust your muscles. Work until you cannot push yourself any further.

Reduce the rest between sets and fight the fatigue that comes on during endurance training.

Find Your Motivation

When you’re stepping into the gym, make sure that you are motivated to perform each exercise to a certain level of success. If you’re lifting weights, count down your reps until you reach your goal. Also, ask yourself why you’re in the gym in the first place. To look good? To feel good? The more effort you put in during your time at the gym, the quicker you’ll reach those goals.

Change Things Up

Change your workout every couple of weeks to ensure that your body does not get used to the exercises you’re performing. It’s important to always keep the body guessing. Changing exercises, how heavy the weights are, the order that you perform exercises, your tempo and your rep/set count will all help keep you from plateauing. Even something as simple as the time of day you train can cause you to plateau.