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

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.

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

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

Every now and then I like to pick up various running and cycling magazines just for a quick read. The first thing I usually look for is the exercise section to see what’s being recommended. One of the bigger issues for runners and cyclist alike is knee pain. I’ve learned through my work and the work of some of the strength coaches that I follow, that knee pain doesn’t always come from an issue with the knee.


Some time ago, renowned strength coach Mike Boyle posted two really good articles; “A Joint-by-Joint Approach to Training” and “Anterior Knee Pain – Site vs. Source”. To boil these two articles down he breaks it down to explain that body is a stack of joints. “Your knee,” Boyle Explains, “is caught between your hip and your ankle.”  He goes on to state that more times than not, chronic knee pain is a result of something happening somewhere else. The knee pain is the result, not the cause.

As a personal trainer, I’ve had quite a few clients (several competitive runners, triathletes and cyclist) come to me with knee issues and more times than not, the logic laid out by coach Boyle proved to be correct.
We’ve all heard of IT band syndrome, runner’s knee, etc. What I’ve found is that people with knee pain not stemming form an acute injury,  need to strengthen their glutes, in addition to stretching and foam rolling other areas. That’s right; they need to get their “Butts” in gear and working properly.  When I say getting your “Butt” in gear, let’s be clear that I’m not just talking about the part that we all see , you gluteus maximus. In addition to glute max, I’m talking about the smaller muscles that lie underneath (glute medius/minimus and piriformis) all of which serve various roles in stabilizing your pelvis and femur (that big bone between your hip and knee).

Lucky a few simple test and corrective exercise can help zero in on the problem and minimize or take away knee pain all together.

So what ar the test and what might they mean for you?:

Test #1 – Single Leg Hip Extension:
When someone tells me they have knee pain, the first test I do with them is the straight leg hip extension to test how well my client can get his/her glutes to activate. I first read about this test in an article by Nick Tuminello on Mike Boyle’s website. What I drew from this and other research on the topic is that weak glutes or glutes that don’t turn on when they’re supposed to, lead to knee pain simply because they don’t allow you to stabilize your femur when your foot hits the ground during running strides or in the down stroke in cycling. A femur that’s not stabilized allows the knee to move medially (side to side) causing increased stress on the knee.

This test enables us to test the level of glute activation one can achieve in the straight leg position. This same straight leg hip extension occurs in running and in cycling

Test Provided by Nick Tumminello

Starting Position

Begin on your elbows, with one leg fully flexed at the hip and the knee. This leg should be tucked up as far as possible into your body with your thigh in contact with your ribs.

The other leg should be extended straight back behind you and resting on the floor (see photos). The extended leg is the one that’s going to be tested.

Performing the Test

To perform this test, lift your extended leg off the ground as high as possible.
Be sure to keep that leg fairly straight and avoid bending it. A slight bend ( Additionally, do not allow your ribs to loose contact with your thigh on the opposite side.

If you can lift your extended thigh and knee at least one to two inches off the floor without struggling, you pass.

If you cannot lift your rear leg without shifting your body or deviating from the starting position, or you find yourself struggling to do so, you have some work ahead of you.

Test #2: Single Leg Squat Test:
Watch the video and try it. If you have trouble balancing or if your knee collapses in during the test, weak glutes may be the answer.


So What do I do next?…. Tune in to my next post for the answer

Quick Mini Band Exercises to Throw Into Your Workouts on The Go

Some time ago I posted a blog entitled “Build Your Better Body On a Budget” where I shared with you some of the low cost tools that I use myself and with my clients. These mini-bands are great to use if you travel for work or if you’re on vacation. (I know you’re thinking, “No one works out on vacation,” but in case you do, and there’s no gym you can give these a try.)

The video clip below shows me doing several exercises that target the lower body, upper body and core:

1) Lateral walking
2) Forward and backwards monster walks
3) Standing hip flexion/abduction/extension and
4) 90 degree open up squats.

I also threw in some pushup variations and a plank with reach for abs and shoulders. These are only a few a the exercises that you can do with mini bands.

Get your hands some mini bands and see how they can help change up your workouts.They range from $2-$3 each at PerformBetter.com

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.

The One Machine In the Gym You Must Use

Today’s post has been a long time coming but the inspiration for it came a few weeks ago. I received an email from a PR person asking us to fill out a questionnaire for a well known women’s fitness magazine. The questionnaire asked which machines in the gym we found, as trainers, to be valuable. One of the questions asked, “what machine would you encourage our readers to avoid?” My answer, “All most all of them… well at least 75% of them.” I’ve long been a proponent of getting up and moving around. Given the opportunity, I would take 75% of the machines in our gym and put them out on Broadway with a big “for sale” sign on them.


There are,however, a few machines that I use on regular basis. The same questionnaire asked the question,“If you could recommend one machine in the gym to our readers, what wouldit be and why?” My answer, “The Free Motion cable machine, because you can work every body part, without sitting down and you can move in different directions while you’re doing it.” Most of my clients know this and have gotten to experience the free motion madness first hand. Below are 4 quick clips of a few of my favorite total body exercises to do the with Free Motion cable machine. Feel free to throw them into your workout, I’m sure they’ll make a difference:

Squat & Row:

Plain and simple, start with your arms extended. Squat and pull the cable back when you come up out of your squat.

Rotational Cross-Body Row:

Start facing away from the machine. Pivot your left leg and with your left hand reach across to grab the cable on the opposite side. Rotate and pull the cable across as you rotate. I also added a variation where you throw in a squat at the end, just in case you need to make it more difficult.

Single Leg Reach with Bicep Curl:

Start by balancing on one foot. Let the cable pull you forward and bend your knee. Squeeze you glutes as you stand up and do a bicep curl at the same time. Remember, whichever foot is on the floor you’ll be bicep curling with the opposite hand.

Tall Anti-Rotational Press:

This one used the concept of torque, you basically are using your obliques to keep the cable from turning you. Relax you shoulders and extend your arms to make sure that your obliques turn on.