Adding Variety to Your Workout Will Make All The Difference

Laying the Foundation for a Great Workout Program – Compound Movements

Recently, I teamed up with our friend Julia Dalton-Brush, noted blogger and Founder of “Fit-Journey” (http://fit-journey.com/) to bring knowledge to the masses. In her “Foundations” series, Julia looks to explain the basic concepts and the how’s and why’s behind what you need to do in the gym. Check out this piece we did explaining compound movements and why you should make them a part of your routine.

What Should I Do For Cardio?

One of the most common questions that I get from new clients and people in general is, “what should I do for cardio”. With the New Year’s resolution kick in full affect I think it’s the right time to finally post on this topic. (I’ve actually had this post for a while but have been just haven’t gotten around to putting it up).

So I know you’re asking, “What’s the answer already?” My answer is usually, it depends on your limitations, your needs (if you’re training for something) and your likes and dislikes. Here are my cardio rules to live by:

1. Find something that you like to do. If you hate running then guess what don’t run, don’t force yourself to run and don’t let other people make you run…(unless a dog is chasing you, then run). You want to pick a form of cardio that you enjoy and will be sustainable. That is of course assuming that it’s challenging enough to be considered cardio.

2. Use your resistance training (your weight training as an opportunity to do cardio. It’s pretty well know that circuit/interval training (also known as metabolic conditioning) is a great way to combine both weight training and cardio training. Research has shown that you not only burn more calories on average during circuit/interval training sessions, but your burn calories at a much higher rate for longer after you’re done with your workout, relative to steady state cardio. (FYI: steady-state cardio is when you get on a treadmill, bike, etc and go at the same pace for a set period of time). Fitness expert Alwyn Cosgrove points this out in most of his work on fat loss. In Alywn’s “Hierarchy of Fat Loss” he ranks “Metabolic Conditioning (he actually called it Metabolic acceleration training) number one followed by high intensity aerobic interval training second, high intensity aerobic training third and low intensity aerobic training last. Two very good books to read more about this type of training, is “Cardio Strength Training” by Coach Robert Dos Remedios.

This brings me to my third point.

3. Use interval training as much as possible. Research has shown that interval training helps increase cardiovascular performance and VO2Max (very important if you’re an endurance athlete) faster than steady state cardio training along. And again the “after-burn” effects of interval training helps increase caloric expenditure even after you’re done working out.

4. Last but not least, I tell people always use the right dose. At the Perform Better summit in December, fitness expert and world renowned strength coach Martin Rooney spoke are about provided the “right does” of cardio work to get better results. It’s easy for someone to overdo it, but that’s not necessary, all you need to do is find your current threshold and push yourself to and slightly over that threshold….not way past it. For example you don’t go out and run a marathon during your first month of running and you don’t try to bench press 225 lbs when you’ve never benched more than 145. Let your body adapt to a stress that hard but not too much. That not only helps you see sustainable improvements but will also keep you from potentially hurting yourself.
Have fun, work hard and keep and pushing!

Weapon of Fat Destruction

For those of us who are not genetically blessed with a “fast metabolism” we know that burning fat and keeping it off is hard work.  With that in mind I always make sure that my session are filled with as much “hard work” as I can fit into 30 minutes or an hour.  That may mean do anything from lifting weights to pulling sleds, to doing cardio intervals via sprints, rowing, etc..

One of the machines that I now use quite a bit is the Versa Climber.  I like to put the Versa Climber in the category of “machines that people walk by because it just doesn’t look right”.  While it is not as appealing as your normal treadmill or elliptical, it packs a punch.  It’s one of the few cardio machines that you can truly say works you entire body. In addtion to being rythmic in nature and getting the big muscle groups working, it challanges your core as well.


The makers of the Versa-Climber claim that it burns more calories that the treadmill or stepper (see chart below). While I can’t say that this clam is in fact true I do know that the VC is a great alternative to other machines and a great way to simply make people work harder.  How do I know that?  Because, I’ve seen clients who spend a lot of time in spin class and on the treadmill not last 5 minutes on this machine. 

If you have one of these machines in your gym walk up to it and give it a try.  I like to thrown it into my clients routines as a 2 minute cardio interval.  I would recommend starting there to get used to the machine before doing longer workouts.  For the 2 minute intervals keep your feet per minute climbing rate around or above 120 feet per minute. 

I always like to hear what industry leaders think of these machines.  Listen to what Mark Verstegan, one of the nations to strength and fitness coaches (http://www.athletesperformance.com/) has to say about the versa climber.

Good luck and keep looking for ways to work smarter and harder.