Fitness

7 Reasons to Start Strength Training Today

workouts-at-home

If you think strength training is only for bodybuilders and athletes, it’s time to challenge your assumptions. Strength training offers several important benefits, and you don’t need to frequent a gym or own a bunch of equipment to get the job done.

Here are seven benefits of strength training:

1

STRENGTHENS BONES

The fact is, by the time you celebrate your 30th birthday, you’ve already reached your peak bone mass. And if you’re not careful, your bones will gradually weaken, making them more susceptible to breaks and fractures. This is especially concerning for women, who represent a whopping 80% of the estimated 10 million Americans with osteoporosis. To keep your bones strong and sturdy, you need to challenge them. Strength training is one of the most potent bone-building weapons according to a research review in Clinical Cases in Mineral and Bone Metabolism.

“[Strength training makes] the muscles pull on the bones, causing them to slightly bend and ‘squeeze,’” says Michele Olson, PhD, FACSM., a senior clinical professor at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama. This “squeeze,” she says, increases the process of turning over and laying down new bone.

2

PREVENTS INJURIES

If you run, bike or play recreational sports, regular strength-training sessions can keep you healthy and injury-free. Many running and sport-related injuries are caused by muscle weaknesses, notes Janet Hamilton, MA, certified strength and conditioning specialist, registered clinical exercise physiologist and owner of Running Strong in Stockbridge, Georgia. For example, knee injuries in runners can often be traced to weakness in the hip muscles, Hamilton says; in particular, the medial glute muscle that powers lateral movement and keeps the hip stable. Strengthening this and other sport-specific muscles can lessen the impact on your joints, tendons and ligaments, keeping you running, jumping and lunging sans pain.

If you’re currently injury-free, you can maintain adequate strength with a couple of workouts per week, Hamilton says. On the other hand, if you need to address an underlying weakness, plan on doing specific rehab exercises 3–5 times per week.

3

BOOSTS ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE

Just as strength training can help you stay injury-free, it can also elevate your performance in your sport or activity. “Strong muscles will be better able to produce greater force, generate greater power and sustain for longer durations before fatigue or failure,” Hamilton explains.

How you structure your strength sessions depends on your primary activity. For example, if you’re an endurance athlete, you’ll benefit most from higher-repetition exercises (15 reps or more). If you prefer to play basketball or rugby, aim for lower-rep exercises (6 reps or fewer) to build power. I address this issue of strength training for endurance sports like triathlon in a short video.

4

HELPS LONGEVITY

Using data collected from more than 80,000 U.K. residents, researchers from the University of Sydney discovered strength training reduced risk of death from any cause by 23% and death from cancer by 31%, regardless of whether that training involved bodyweight-only or weighted exercises. If you add some good old-fashioned cardio, your risk of death from any cause is reduced by a total of 29%. To live long, researchers recommend strength training at least 50–60 minutes per week and doing at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio every week.

5

PREVENTS AGE-RELATED DECLINES IN MUSCLE MASS

Just as your bones quit bulking up around age 30, you also start losing muscle mass (also known as sarcopenia) at about the same time. Often, the older you get, the less you move, Olson says. This only speeds up your strength declines and makes everyday activities — like getting up from a chair and carrying groceries — incredibly challenging. Regular strength training can not only help you maintain your current muscle mass, it can also help you create new muscle. When you lift weights, you damage your muscle fibers. As your fibers repair themselves, they add more protein to each fiber, ultimately making them denser and stronger, Olson explains.

6

CURBS ANXIETY

New research from the University of Limerick, Ireland, reveals that lifting weights can ease anxiety, especially when done in group settings. After analyzing 16 studies on more than 900 subjects, researchers discovered that resistance training 23 times per week significantly improved anxiety symptoms regardless of session length. To keep anxiety at bay, grab your buddies for a group lifting session or join one of my Team Quadzilla virtual Challenge Groups.

7

BURNS MORE CALORIES AT REST

When it comes to torching calories, cardio typically gets all the credit. But while cardio burns more calories during exercise than strength training, building muscle through strength training allows you to burn more calories after exercise. This is because, unlike fat, muscle is a metabolically active tissue. In other words, every pound of fat you replace with a pound of muscle raises your basal metabolic rate or the number of calories your body burns at rest. According to Olson, one pound of muscle burns about 7 calories per day at rest, while fat only burns about half that amount.

To focus on muscle growth (also known as muscle hypertrophy), perform sets of 6–12 reps with a moderate weight and limit rest to 1–2 minutes between sets, as recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Keep in mind: No matter how much muscle you add, it won’t be enough to out-burn the excess calories from a poor diet. So be sure to prioritize vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, proteins and whole grains.

Credit Lauren Bedosky and the myfitnesspal blog for doing the heavy lifting on this article.

Fitness, Personal Development

Snooze Now, ConQuer Later

I can remember taking ‘power naps’ in college. At very random times of day, I would just lay down for a few minutes between classes. My posse back then often did the same. We’d say, “I need a 10.” It was our code for nap time. Just 10-20 minutes is all that was needed. I remember feeling so much better afterwards. Naps really work. I steal one every now and then these days, but its not my habit. Maybe it should be. A quick glance through history books reveals a long line of influential nappers. Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Thomas Edison were all known to take naps.

Their decision, it turns out, is backed by science.

Napping and productivity

The benefits of getting enough sleep are widely acknowledged, but why choose naps instead of catching more Zs at night? The simple answer is that it makes the second part of your day as productive as the first. About an hour after waking is considered our most productive time. Even if you consider yourself a night-owl, chances are your cognitive abilities are sharper after some shut-eye. It is more than common sense. It is science.

In a review of the many studies conducted on napping, Dr. Catherine Milner and Dr. Kimberly A. Cote find a host of productivity-related benefits. Napping improves reaction time, psychomotor speed, vigor, and vigilance. In one [study}(https://elibrary.ru/item.asp?id=7466161), participants saw their ability to complete additional tasks improve post-nap and in another, retirees saw improvements in episodic memory, visuospatial abilities, and general cognition. Yet another study on memory found that working-aged people were able to perform recall tasks better after a nap when compared to drinking coffee. The nap doesn’t need to be long: even a six-minute micro-nap improves declarative memory.

Napping and learning

Sleep is known to help consolidate memory and contribute to learning, but some scientists say the same benefits can be reaped from naps. Dr. Sara Mednick looks at how sleep impacts learning. In a 2003 study, she found that a 90-minute snooze is just about as good for learning perceptual skills as a full eight hours. Even better, the power of a nap adds to the learning potential experienced during regular sleeping hours.

Participants who napped in addition to their regular sleep schedule experienced “improvement, such that performance over 24 hours showed as much learning as is normally seen after twice that length of time.” The research suggests that if you’re struggling with complex learning tasks, a nap can help.

Napping and health

We know that getting enough sleep is important for overall health, but there is also evidence that napping, in particular, is a healthy habit. A 2016 study by the European Society of Cardiology compared the health of 386 patients with arterial hypertension to see how napping might impact their health.

Those that took mid-day naps had lower blood pressure and anatomical evidence of less blood pressure related damage. Napping was also associated with fewer medication prescriptions.

The benefits extend into real-world results. In a longitudinal study of over 23,000 healthy people, nappers had a much lower rate of coronary mortality. Those who napped occasionally had a 12% lower coronary mortality rate, while those who napped often had a 37% percent lower rate.

Towards a culture of napping

Napping is becoming popular because it is easier to coordinate than a full eight hours of blissfully uninterrupted shut-eye at night. Work hours are long and time with our families is precious. A twenty-minute nap can be slotted in between meetings or a longer snooze can take place over lunch, leaving free time at home to be spent on hobbies or with loved ones.

In China, public napping is commonplace. “It’s nothing unusual,” Chinese journalist Lorraine Lu writes. “If you get tired, you just put a cushion or pillow on your desk, lay your head on it and rest for 15 minutes.”

Aside from the workplace, subways and even Ikea are fair game. The same is true of several other Asia countries, and the afternoon siesta is a time-honored condition in many Spanish-speaking nations.

Though the United States is yet to catch up, some companies are coming around to the idea of corporate nap time. A 2011 poll found that 34% of respondents were allowed to nap at work and hundreds of sleep pods are popping up in offices, hospitals, and schools around the country.

If you aren’t one of the Americans already taking naps, there is no time like the present.

*credit belongs to Erin Wildermuth and the team at michaelhyatt.com for doing the heavy lifting on this article

Fitness, Nutrition

Tips for Healthy Grocery Shopping

rows-of-vegetables-and-fruits

Want your family to eat healthier? It all starts with a healthy shopping list. If your cupboards and fridge contain mostly healthy foods, everyone in your family is likely to eat better. If the junk food is not in your house, you can’t eat it. Duh.

Surprisingly, healthier eating can lower your grocery bills, too. It’s true that ready-to-eat meals and packaged foods save time, but they can cost more and some have too much salt and fat. I was skeptical of this claim like you are, until I tried it myself. If you want real, sustainable change in your health, you’ve got to get the food part right. The good news is that it’s not that hard to do.

Follow these tips to get the most nutrition bang for your buck.

Stock Up With Staples

These pantry basics will give you the foundation you need for better family nutrition at home.

– Fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruits and vegetables

  • Canned: Look for low-sodium vegetables and no-added-sugar fruits. We use a lot of canned green beans. Warmed up with whole wheat pasta and some lean meat for a super simple meal.IMG_0434
  • Frozen: Use what you need for a meal, then put the rest of the bag back in the freezer. We use a ton of frozen mixed veggies. I like to nuke the frozen veggies with raw broccoli. It steams the broccoli perfectly in 2 mins. Added to some pre-cooked chicken breast and whole wheat pasta or seasoned sweat potato chunks for a delicious healthy meal.
  • Dried: Check the label for and avoid added sugar, especially on fruits. I like raisins and dates. They are super sweet on their own to help satisfy my sweet tooth.

Whole grains, such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, and non-instant oatmeal

Steel-cut oatmeal costs just pennies per ounce and is a good source of fiber. I’ve cut a lot of bread out of my diet lately, but I still go for super cheap Quaker Old Fashioned Rolled Oats. No need to pay for the fancy stuff.

Beans, lentils, and peas

Packed with protein and other nutrients, they’re a great way to stretch your food dollar. Save! Use them in everything from soups to chili to burritos. Packaged dried beans cost less but take some planning to cook. Low-sodium canned beans are another option. Rinse canned beans to lower sodium even more.

Nuts like almonds, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts

Lean meats, poultry, fish, and eggs We eat lots of chicken breast, natural deli turkey, 93% lean ground turkey or beef, and eggs. Lots of eggs. So cheap and filling when mixed with veggies in a stir fry or omelette.

Low-fat or nonfat milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products

Children under age 2 should have whole milk unless otherwise directed by your doctor. Yes, you can eat cheese. Real cheese though. Velveeta is not real cheese. Read the ingredients. We like Sargento Cheese. Yogurt and cottage cheese is tricky. Read the ingredients.

Buy Healthy Snacks

How to keep your kids from going overboard on chips, cookies, and other snacks? Make it easy to find the healthy stuff. We’ve learned that kids will adjust to the food you have. Don’t assume you must have junk food snacks for the kids because that’s all they will eat. You are in charge.

Keep these healthy options on the center shelf of the fridge: (this list is on our fridge)IMG_0616

  • cut-up fruit
  • baby carrots and low-fat ranch dip
  • string cheese
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • low-fat yogurt

And these on the counter:

  • dried fruit and nut mix
  • pretzels
  • whole-grain crackers and peanut butter

3 Surefire Healthy Grocery Shopping Rules

To keep your food choices on track with your family’s health goals, follow these three basic rules as you cruise the supermarket aisles.

Don’t shop hungry. Ever notice what winds up in your cart when you shop with hunger pangs? Eat a nutritious snack beforehand so the munchies don’t take control of your shopping.

Make a healthy shopping list. Even if you know what you need, a list saves time and prevents impulse buys. Organize your list into sections according to the store’s layout. Shop for the healthy items first, picking up the treats last. We use the Kroger ClickList to automate our shopping. When you shop from home via internet, you are far less likely to add items to your cart that aren’t on the list. Saves buckets of money!

Hug the walls — most of the time. Stay focused. Avoid parts of your grocery store with the unhealthy choices. The edges of the store (the perimeter) tend to have the healthiest choices. Detour down center aisles for beans, whole-grain pastas and cereals, and canned and frozen vegetables and fruit. Skip the aisles with chips and other temptations, or get only the items on your list. When you’re grocery shopping with kids, the temptations can be especially distracting.

Let us know your healthy grocery shopping tricks to save time, money, and sanity.

SOURCES: University Cooperative Extension Service, Iowa State University: “Convenience costs;” “Snacks for healthy kids;” “Stretch your protein dollar;” “10 tips for saving at the grocery store;” “Ways to save money in 2010;” and “What’s a good buy?”American Dietetic Association: “Raising healthy eaters from preschool to high school” and “Save time and money at the grocery store.”The University of Maine Cooperative Extension: “Winning ways to grocery shop with young children.”WebMD Health News: “Baby Milk Recommendations Changed.”

Fitness, Fortitude, Nutrition

What Happens When You Go “All In”

IMG_0512

Angie and I recently finished a rigorous fitness & nutrition program called 80 Day Obsession. The name is a little off-putting as I don’t like to think we are (or ever need to be) “obsessed” with our fitness or physique. I prefer to think of this endeavor as 80 days fully committed, focused, and “all in.” It was a personal test to see if I could eat really healthy for 3 months and stick to a challenging workout schedule. I often say we must do hard things if we want to be our best, so I put my words to action. Here are a few key takeaways from the experience:
Results are Visible
While my photos may not blow you away with transformation like Bruce Banner to Hulk, some pretty cool stuff happened to my body.
Lost over 4% body fat
Lost about 3″ from my waistline
Gained nearly 1″ in my arms
Gained about 5 lbs.
Angie reported losing over 8 lbs. and 7 inches overall which is significant for someone who is already fairly petite. There’s one thing you need to remember about the scale though. Muscle weighs more than fat, so to focus on the scale as the judge & jury for success in your healthy living journey is very short-sighted. No one wears a sign with their weight on it. It’s about how you carry the weight, how you FEEL in your skin, and what you can DO now that seemed impossible before. Clothes fit better, and in Angie’s case she’s down a couple sizes even though the scale only says down 8 lbs. More importantly, she’s gained confidence from this experience which brings me to my next point.
Invisible Results are Awesomer
That’s right, I said awesomer. Doing something hard like a rigorous fitness program does amazing things to you that can’t be seen in before & after photos.
     Added significant strength – Angie & I both increased our weights more than we could have hoped. We FEEL so much stronger because we ARE MUST STRONGER.

IMG_0489
     Mental fortitude increased – I can’t say enough about this part. The “doing hard things” is mostly mental. The body will go where the mind takes it. We are so apt to quit when something is hard, so to LEARN to conquer our mind and tell it “No!” when we feel like quitting, when we feel too tired to exercise, when we feel like eating cookies instead of carrots, is a really big deal. The DISCIPLINE learned is that I can do more than I thought, I CAN conquer my mind – my thoughts, feelings, and attitudes to align with my goals.

conquer2
     Eating Healthy Isn’t Punishment – I had my doubts about the nutrition plan that goes with the workout program. Yeah, you probably think I’ve been a healthy eater for a long time so this would be no big deal. You are mistaken my friend. To REALLY dial in the nutrition by eating certain food groups at specific times of day in specific quantities, and eating ALL THE FOOD I’m supposed to was a huge challenge at first. Practice became habit. My body adjusted to eating 5 meals with 6 servings of veggies a day . All the veggies! I was rarely hungry, no energy crashes, VERY regular digestion, and we saved money at the grocery store.

“Hmmm. Eat more, save money, and get more lean? Where do I sign up??”

Further, meal times required no fuss or thought. No scavenging through the pantry. I planned ahead. I did meal prep on the weekends. Virtually all my meals were accounted for ahead of time. Super easy. And when I wasn’t at home, I could either take a healthy snack with me or just make good choices. Just because donuts are offered, doesn’t mean I have to eat them. Especially in the last month of the program, I found it easier to make healthy choices. Instead of craving sugar and junk food more as I went along, I wanted it LESS. And when I did treat myself, it was disappointing at best. It’s miraculous really. The body craves real, healthy food and rewards you when you eat it.

Bottom line is that eating healthy is actually a blessing, a gift rather than a punishment. My transformation is mostly mental in the way I see food. I understood the ideas of healthy eating before, but this experience has changed me. Healthy habits refined. Momentum built. Confidence growing.

I firmly believe that when you conquer your mind with discipline and a lifestyle of healthy habits, the benefits can reach into other areas of your life to make you a better spouse, friend, parent, worker, etc. Do you want to be a better person? Gain confidence? Get in the best shape of your life? All at the same time? Maybe it’s time for you to go “all in” on a complete fitness and nutrition program.

Fitness

The Paper Plate Workout

Before I go global with this new exercise craze, I wanted to share it with you first. Inspired by some moves I learned in Beachbody’s 80 Day Obsession workout, I have prepared a 20 minute full body workout you can do in your living room. The only equipment you need is a pair of paper plates. That’s right. Don’t laugh. Moves like Windshield Wipers, Pike Scissor Twist, and Sumo Slide will challenge any fitness level.

Join me in Studio 1A at Team Quadzilla World Headquarters for a workout unlike any you’ve done before.

Get the full workout HERE.

Team Quadzilla Paper Plate Workout_Medium_Moment

You can also find other excellent workouts you can do at home with minimal equipment for FREE in the Fitness Challenges page on my website.