Sunday, March 1, 2009

Baby Boomer Personal Trainer

Once she retired, my baby boomer mom really started getting into fitness (but on her own, not with a baby boomer personal trainer). It's really cute to see her put on her backpack, bike helmet, and ride off into town to go do her exercises at the gym.

It's like a trip back in time to see what she would have been like at 10 years old.

But what if my mom wasn't internally motivated? What if I had to find a baby boomer personal trainer for her?

Would it be best to ask a young beach bunny cardio queen personal trainer to train her, or would she be better off training with someone closer to her age?

Researchers from the University of Texas asked this same question, and put 131 subjects through a 14-week, trainer-lead fitness program. One group of subjects worked with a trainer who was in their peer-group, while the other group worked with student trainers.

Reference J Am Acad Nurse Pract. 2009 Feb;21(2):116-22. The effectiveness of a peer-mentored older adult fitness program on perceived physical, mental, and social function.

Surprisingly, only the peer-trained group significantly improved physical, mental, and social function at the end of 14 weeks.

So if you are thinking of buying some training sessions for your mom or dad, don't bother with the cardio bunny or young-buck bodybuilder trainer.

Instead, get a peer-group baby boomer personal trainer for your parents if you want more results.

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Click here for the best fat loss workouts

Workout in the Morning

The best time to workout might be in the morning, but not because you burn more fat...

Back when I trained clients full time, I always wondered what possessed my CEO clients to get up at 5am and workout. Couldn't they at least wait till 7 or 8?

But as I've grown older, and busier, it's easy to see why folks want to workout in the morning.

First, it gets the workout done before other people and problems can get in the way. Plus, recent research shows that you will have a better workout when you are "mentally fresh".

In a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, Welsh researchers put subjects through a cardio workout to exhaustion after one of two mental tasks.

Reference: J Appl Physiol 106: 857-864, 2009.

The first task was cognitively demanding and caused mental fatigue. The second task was a control task, and simply required watching neutral documentaries.

Results showed the mental fatiguing task significantly reduced the amount of exercise the subjects could do. The subjects simply tired out much quicker if their minds were already fatigued.

If you want to get more results in less time, you are better off doing your workout when you are mentally fresh.

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Facebook for Fat Loss?

You probably don't like Facebook any more than I do, but this "time waster" might help you lose weight.

Researchers from Regis University in Denver, Colorado believe that "social networks" are the key to halting the obesity epidemic.

After all, we know what we need to do in order to lose fat. It's not a lack of knowledge. In fact, even a 3rd grader could tell you that we need to eat less and exercise more to lose weight.

But it's easier said than done, especially when we're surrounded by easy eating and friends that want to drag us to another movie or high-calorie restaurant meal when we should be doing our workouts instead.

These researchers have found that, "individuals with similar body fat levels will cluster together into groups, and if left unchecked, current social forces will drive these groups toward increasing obesity".

That's a no-win situation, so you have to hunt out people who share your weight loss goals. But you don't have to stick to your friends. In fact, the researchers suggest, "interventions targeting well-connected and/or normal weight individuals at the edges of a cluster may quickly halt the spread of obesity."

So building a Facebook fat loss group full of strangers and including people who have already lost fat is one place to start. I prefer to use the website to encourage social support and accountability in my clients. You could also start by getting involved in the Turbulence Training Member's Forums, or another weight loss website club.

The bottom line is that you need social support for fat loss success. Start associating with positive people who share similar goals with you, and you'll soon be losing all the weight you want.

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009 Jan 15. Exploiting Social Networks to Mitigate the Obesity Epidemic. Bahr DB, Browning RC, Wyatt HR, Hill JO.

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS

Monday, January 12, 2009

Overweight Runners Should Run Less

I often get angry letters from joggers because they say I'm too "harsh on running". But at the same time, these folks also complain about not being able to lose fat despite doing hours and hours of cardio per week.

The worst emails come from folks who are overweight, yet insist on running marathons. Here's what I think about that (note: This is sure to upset any overweight runners)...

If you are overweight and training for marathons, then clearly this training is not working for you. Frankly, I don't think running marathons is a healthy activity for an overweight man or woman. You are going to get hurt.

It's not a question of if, it's a question of how soon and how bad are you going to let the injury get before you stop trying to run marathons.

Most runners are smart enough that they wouldn't buy a beat-up used car for $300 and try to drive it across America non-stop, but they'll take their overweight, used up, beat up, weak bodies and try to run 26.2 miles in under 4 hours.

How does that make any sense?

The reason I'm so "hard" on running is because too many people do it that shouldn't do it. I have no problem with training for a marathon if your body is prepared to handle a marathon. But most folks have bodies that are not suited for running 26.2 miles in one day.

What you should do is run less, and do more resistance training, and decrease the carbohydrates in your diet (as most runners are guilty of justifying a high-carbohydrate diet due to their running).

Any general strength training program will help you improve your body composition and strengthen your muscles so that you have a reduced risk of overuse injury (from running).

But you don't need to be lifting three days per week - if running is going to remain your focus. All you need are two quick, total body strength workouts per week, doing 1-2 sets of a couple of multi-muscle exercises.

Master bodyweight exercises first when appropriate (i.e. pushups before chest presses). But if you insist on keeping marathon training as your main focus, just be careful not to do too much strength training that it gives you sore muscles.

I like to see runners do stability ball leg curls, 1-leg hip extensions, prisoner squats, step-ups, and split squats. Those are the basics to start with. Just pick two exercises per workout, and do 1-2 challenging sets.

But we need to address the 800 pound elephant in the room.

If you are an overweight runner focused on a marathon, the most important thing you can do is lose body fat. Your diet is probably the main problem. So fix it. Running 6 miles per day is not a license to eat whatever you want. That's a big mistake runners make.

So drop the fat and do a little bit of efficient strength training to help you get a better body for running before you hurt yourself.

Best of luck to you, and train safe.

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS

Click here for a better weight loss program than running

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Secret to Fat Loss Success

After an early morning dog walk with Bally, my 3-year old chocolate lab, I sat down in my office and reviewed one of the Kekich Credo's as I do everyday.

It was powerful and relevant to anyone beginning a new fat loss program.

The first line of Kekich Credo #59 says, "Intense desire is the foundation of all achievement".

That struck me as true for both business and weight loss success. So here's a question to ask yourself.

Do you really, truly have an INTENSE burning desire to succeed with your fat loss goals? Or is this interest in losing fat "the flavor of the month" for you?

Only if you truly have an intense burning desire to change will you be able to lose fat, otherwise you'll probably just lose interest and motivation in a few weeks. That's the harsh truth.

But if you are committed to making your fat loss program a success this year, take a few minutes to re-think your motivation and make sure that you have identified your intense burning desire for fat loss.

This little exercise might be "an emotional experience", but ask yourself:

Why do I truly want to change and lose fat?

Once you've answered that, keep asking yourself "Why" to every answer. Dig deep. You'll find a very emotional "weak spot" that is driving your intense desire to succeed.

Turn this "weakness" (your emotional weak spot) into your strength (your intense desire for success) and you'll finally achieve your fat loss goals this year.

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Click here for amazing fat loss success stories