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.

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