Ramp Up Your Fat Loss With this Fitness Gadget?


To all of my followers… I know it’s been along time since I’ve blogged and for that I’m #sorrynotsorry :-) Things have been busy but great and now I’m back so all is well.

I’m checking in today to share one of the tools that I’m using with our clients at Body Space Fitness, NYC which I feel will make a big difference in helping them hit their goals. For the majority of our clients their primary goal is, as you might have guessed, FAT LOSS. We know that when fat loss is the goal proper nutrition is number one on the list of most important things. However, we also know that the intensity of the workout, especially when doing a Metabolic Resistance Training workout, is also important. The intensity of the workout not only impacts how many calories you burn during the workout, but it also impacts the calories you burn after the workout (a little something known as E.P.O.C or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or “the after burn effect”).

Polar beat 1


Enter the Polar H7 Bluetooh strap. After picking up one of these puppies for myself and playing around with it, I thought, “this is great. I would put the strap on and move freely around the gym doing my workout and it would record the whole thing without missing a beat.” Then I thought to myself, “how can I use this to help our clients?” The answer was simple, I could use this tool to monitor rest intervals in between circuits and exercises. In each of our client programs we have a prescribed rest interval depending on their phase of progress. I often think to myself, “this might be a little too much rest”. To put it another way, one person may need 60 seconds of rest while another person would need only 30 seconds of rest.

So what I’ve started doing is having my training clients wear an H7 Monitor and track their training workout using the “Polar Beat” App on their smart phone. We’ve transitioned from using timed rest intervals to rest intervals during sessions based on percentage of max heart rate (i.e, rest until you drop to 70% of max). What I have found is that clients, on average, are at least burning 25% more calories during the workout. I’m not quite sure of the post workout impact but I’m sure it’s a good news story.

Polar Beat 2

Bottom line, if you’re looking for a good, simple tool to help you amp up your workouts, I highly recommend checking out the Polar H7 Bluetooth strap and pair it up with the Polar Beat App on your smart phone or tablet.  The monitor retails for about $79.95.

Train Hard, Train Smart, Train Right.

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.

Want To Do More Pull-Ups In Less Time? Scrap the Assisted Pull-up Machine For This Move

With recent articles coming out proclaiming why a certain sex (women) were less likely to be able to do a pull-up, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about pull-ups and how to train to do one.  Over a year ago I worked on an article with Greatist.com team member Laura Schwecherl where I developed a program to help her do just that.  Our plan worked and Laura increased her pull-up reps from 3 to 7 in just a few short weeks.

The first thing that came to my mind as the critical exercise in any “pull-up specific program” is you guessed it, the pull-up!  You can work your lats, your biceps and your core all separately but at the end of the day you need to be able to put it all together.  So how the hell do you do a pull-up if you can’t do a pull-up? There are a few ways. The first way is to use the assisted pull-up machine that you see in most gyms (see pic). This machine (sometimes being hogged up by people doing dips) is great but has several flaws.  A better training method is to do a band assisted pull-up.  With this method you would take a heavy or light band and wrap it around whatever device you’re using to do your pull-up (make sure it’s safely secured).  You would then either place your foot or knee into the band.

Why is the band assisted pull-up superior?  There are two big reasons:

  1.  A pull-up is a big time core stabilization exercise.  In a machine assisted pull-up, it’s almost impossible to swing therefore stability is added in for you. With a band assisted pull-up you have to stabilize on your own as you have more freedom to swing and thus have to control more to keep your body from swinging.
  2. With a machine assisted pull-up the magnitude of assistance is constant throughout the entire movement.  I’m not saying that is a bad thing.  With the band assisted pull-up, however, the assistance is greatest at the bottom of the movement, at your “sticking point” where you need it most.  As the band shortens when you begin your pull-up, the assistance becomes less and less and you do more of the work.  This is the inherent nature of how bands work. (look up accommodative resistance for more details)

So if you’re trying to add reps to your pull-ups and looking for a way to mix things up, I highly suggest giving band assisted pull-ups a try.  I’m sure you’ll see quicker results.

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Twitter (@kelvingary)!!!!!

Keep Lifting

Trying to Trim Down? Are You Eating for Your Body Type?

After taking some time off to open my personal training studio, Body Space Fitness-NYC, I’m finally back to writing about the things that I love.  Feels good to be back!    In this post I wanted to answer a question that I’m being asked more and more:  “What should I be eating and how much should I be eating?”  This of course, is a question that could take a whole book to answer.  However, there are starting points to help you on your way.

The first thing, regarding the “What” to eat, I usually tell people to “Just Eat Real Food” (thanks Sean Croxton).  The second step is for people who are working out, eating “right” and seeing some progress but want to see more progress.  For you guys I ask the question, “Are you eating the right amount for your body type?”  It’s at this point that you can usually cue the blank stare and the 10-15 seconds of silence.  What I mean is that we know that there are three main body types (or Somatotypes):  Ectomorphic, Mesomorphic and Endomorphic.  Without going into too much detail and making this post too long I’ll refer to the graphic below.  I’ll also refer to the following article from Precision Nutrition that does a good job of detailing the differences.(http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-body-type-eating)


In a nut shell the 3 body types have different characteristics and macronutrient needs.

Ectomorphic – Usually endurance athletes:  Suggested Macronutrient Percentages (25% Protein, 55% Carbs, 20% Fat)

Mesomorphic – Bodybuilding and relative strength athletes:  Suggested Macronutrient Percentages (30% Protein, 40% Carbs, 30% Fat)

Endomorphic – Absolute strength athletes: Suggested Macronutrient Percentages (35% Protein, 25% Carbs, 40% Fat)

I know you’re probably thinking, “holy crap 30% of my calories from fat.”  That’s what I thought too until I tried it and it worked.  Luckily I didn’t make this stuff up, it all came from Dr. John Berardi of Precision Nutrition, who I received my Nutrition Certification for Fitness Professionals from.

So let’s do an example.  First thing we want to do is figure out how many calories we should have by multiplying our body weight in pounds by the appropriate multiplier.  A basic calorie estimator table would show the following multipliers:

Weight Loss        Weight Maintenance     Weight Gain

Sedentary (Minimal Exercise)                             10-12                                 12-14                         16-18

Moderately Active (3-4 times/wk)                    12-14                                  14-16                         18-20

Very Active (5-7 times/wk)                                 14-16                                  16-18                         20-22


Once we know our activity level, our goal and our body type we can then figure out how many calories of protein, carbs and fat we should be having.

Let’s say I have a 130 pound female client, who is a moderately active mesomorph.  Her goal is to lose weight while maintaining muscle mass.  With that in mind we’ll use a multiplier of 12-14 times bodyweight to determine the calorie range and a macronutrient split of 30%/40%/30% for protein, carbs and fat.  For her this means she’s looking at 1560-1820 calories per day (or an average 1690 calories per day).  This would translate to 507 calories from protein, 676 calories from carbs and 507 calories from fat.

Wait…don’t freak out on me yet.  You have to remember that we don’t really eat in calories… we eat in weight so let’s convert these to grams (4 calories per gram of carb and protein and 9 calories per gram of fat).  Knowing that, we can break it down to 127 grams of protein, 169 grams of carbs and 56 grams of fat.  To put it into perspective, one cup of avocado (150 grams) has 22grams of fat.  One ounce of walnuts (or 14 halves) has 18 grams of fatOne cup of egg whites has 26 grams of protein.  So when you get down to it you’ll see that it’s doesn’t take a lot of good, nutrient dense food to reach your goal.

It’s not easy, but if this sounds like you give this method of figuring out what to eat a try.

Disclaimer:  I am not a Registered Dietitian

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!

Have Tight Muscles? Pick Up This Foam Roller for Better Results

Earlier this year I wrote a post titled “To Foam Roll or Not to Foam Roll” (http://kelvingary.com/?p=97 ). I wanted come back to that post and add to it. Yes, I still highly recommend that everyone foam roll, before and after workouts and on rest days. Nothing has changed there.

Over the past few weeks if been trying out “The Grid”“The Grid” foam roller and I have to say it really does make a huge difference. The Grid is touted as a trigger point massager and foam roller in one. After using it both on myself and with my clients, we’ve all noticed a big difference.

It’s firm yet forgiving and it seems to relax tight areas faster than a traditional foam roller. So if you’re looking for a good foam roller to replace your old one or if you need to start foam rolling, I highly recommend picking ”The Grid” up.

The Holidays Are Coming…What’s Your Game Plan

I know! It feels like we were just hanging at the beach in 95 degree weather (if you’re in a part of the world where you’re still going to the beach, keep it to yourself). Either way the 3 -headed holiday gauntlet that causes our blue jeans to run for cover is upon us. That’s right, I’m talking about Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

There’s been a lot of research that shows that typical Americans gain anywhere from 1-5 pounds during the holiday season.   This year however, we’re going to change that!  By having a plan and starting it NOW! 

I blame holiday weight gain on 3 things:

  1. Lack of Exercise – With traveling, parties, visiting family members, shopping and work it seems like there’s never enough time.  And of course to make time in our schedule for other things, our time in the gym or working out gets cut drastically. 
  2. Bad Dietary Habits – From candy to all the parties to the holiday stuffing and leftovers, there are a number of ways that bad dietary habits sneak up on us.
  3. Increased Levels of Stress – This is one that a lot of people don’t realize but yes, stress does make you gain weight.  A number of studies have shown that stress increases during the holiday (choose reasons 1-100).  And the bad news for women is that they’re much more likely to be hit by holiday induced stress than men. 

So what can we do about it?  It’s very simple… have a plan and stick to it!  I know what you’re thinking, “easier said than done!”  To that I say, “you’re right.”  This falls into a category of things that I refer to as, “simple…..but not easy.”    Like with any other plan, there has to be execution backed by self discipline (for a great read on building self discipline check out http://lifepassion.net/how-to-build-self-discipline/). 

Make time and schedule your workout.  If you’re going to be at home, carve time out of your day and put it into your schedule.  Have a backup time and date to work out if for some reason you miss a workout.  If you’re going to be away from home with no gym, start getting used to doing workouts with body weight, bands or free weights.  Just because you don’t have a gym, that’s no excuse!

Plan your crappy eating days and stick to the 80/20 rule, meaning that for every 10 meals, two of them can be whatever you want.  Leave the house prepared every day. If you can’t pack a lunch, look around and find places that have good food.  Plan on where you’ll go for lunch or dinner.  And as usual, make sure you have the right amount of fat, protein and the right type of carbohydrates throughout the day.

 As for stress….hmm that’s a tricky one.  I’m a trainer, not a psychologist.  No seriously, try to find some time during the day to give yourself a break.  Take a few minutes to stop and smell the roses.  Learn some quick mind clearing and meditation techniques.  Treat yourself to a spa day.  Put down the Blackberry and chill out with friends. 

Either way now is the time to start putting your plan together.  If you need help with your plan don’t hesitate to ask me a question via facebook, twitter or email.  Good luck!

If You’re Looking to Burn More Calories, a Little Pre-Workout Protein Goes A Long Way

Every now and then I’ll be posed with the issue of finding new information that may contradict what I have told clients or readers before.  My take is that if new information comes up and it’s valid then it’s okay to change my mind. Being stubborn and standing my ground won’t help my clients and won’t help me learn and grow.

So is the case with the topic of pre-workout protein intake.   Some time ago I had a reader ask me what I thought about protein shakes before and after working out.  My answer was that it’s great to have a little during and immediately after a workout to help aid recovery.  While, I may not have been totally wrong, I wasn’t totally right.

A  research article in the May 2010 Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise showed that taking in protein before resistance training could lead to higher calorie burn post exercise.  The study titled, “Timing Protein Intake Increased Energy Expenditure 24 Hours After Resistance Training,” looked at groups of males and females.  During one part of the study, participants were given a protein supplement (18 g of whey protein, 2 g of carbohydrate, 1.5 g of fat) and during the other part of the study participants were given a carbohydrate rich supplement (1 g of whey protein, 19 g of carbohydrate, 1 g of fat) 20 minutes before training.  What the researchers found was that after 24 hours both groups had an elevated “Resting Energy Expenditure” or REE compared with baseline.  After 24 hours however, the study participants who took in protein prior to training experienced REE much greater than when they took a carbohydrate supplement.  So even at rest, the group that took a protein supplement burned energy at an elevated rate.

So simply put, taking in a little protein (via natural protein or via shake) can be a SIMPLE, EASY and EFFECTIVE way to increase energy expenditure and burn more calories.

Part 2 – Want to Reduce or Stop Knee Pain While Running and Cycling? Then Get Your Butt in Gear

The exercises below are a follow-up to last weeks post. These are only a few of many different exercises that you can try to help strengthen you glutes. Give them a try!

1. Cook Hip Lift


2. Quadruped with Arm and Leg Extension


3. Single Leg Toe Touch


4.  Mini Band Clam Shells


5.  Single Leg Anterior Reach


6.  RFE (Rear Foot Elevated) Split Squat