Don't Eat a Lot to Live a Little

Monday, November 24, 2008
You've heard it before, right?

"C'mon, it's the holidays - live a little!"

Maybe you've heard it; maybe you've even said it.

I know I've said it to myself before.  But it's such a flawed way of looking at life.  You don't have to binge in order to enjoy Thanksgiving or any other time of the year.

But that's the kind of thinking that the statement enables - you're only living if you're doing something bad for you.  The holidays really bring this to the forefront.  You should be enjoying the holidays, but how did enjoying the company of family and friends get mixed up with binge eating and drinking.

Do your best to make the holidays about the people you love, not food.  You can enjoy their company without doing the things that cause most Americans to gain five to ten pounds over the holidays.  Of course you can enjoy some turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce on Thursday - I know I will.  But the point is that you don't eat until you're so stuffed you can barely move.  It's not healthy.  In spite of our cultural denial, it IS binge eating.  

Treat yourself to some of the foods you want this holiday season, but be reasonable in the coming weeks.


See Those Compound Exercises in Action

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Check out the video of me demonstrating the compound fat loss exercises I mentioned in my last blog.

Now that you know 'em, put 'em to use. And let me know what you think!


The Best Exercises for Rapid Fat Loss

Monday, November 17, 2008
I constantly get asked questions about the best fat loss exercises.

To make it as simple as possible, the best exercises for fat loss are the ones that involve as many muscles as possible. Both research and anecdotal evidence back me up – total body workouts are superior for fat loss.

To really increase this effect, I often use combination movements to really increase the total body effect of the exercises I select. For example, squats are one of the best exercises you can possibly do – they are second to none for leg and hip strength, as well as being excellent for fat loss. They become even better when you combine them with, say, a row or a press. Squat rows and squat presses are not only effective – they’re effective in a very short amount of time.

It’s a simple equation, really:

More muscles involved equals more calories burned equals greater fat loss in less time.

I must be honest in that I have a true love-hate relationship with the following movements I am about to share with you. Love because of the unparalleled fat-melting, muscle-building results they provide to help maximize my sexy. Hate because they break me every single workout by leaving me in tears while in a pool of my own sweat. In other words, these are not for the weak of mind, body, or soul!

Without further adieu, here is my official top 10 list of the best exercises in the world for fat loss:

Exercise #1 - Squat Row

Exercise #2 - The Swing (can be done with dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls or sandbags)

Exercise #3 - Reverse Lunge to Shoulder Press

Exercise #4 - Squat Thrust

Exercise #5 - The Chop (can be done with dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls or sandbags)

Exercise #6 - Olympic Lifting Variations: Dumbbell or Kettlebell Cleans, Snatches, High Pulls

Exercise #7 - Side Plank w/ 1-Arm Press

Exercise #8 - Mountain Climber

Exercise #9 - Med Ball Slam

Exercise #10 - Single-Leg RDL plus Row

I will be including a highlight video of many of these exercises later this week so you can include them in your repertoire.

I hope you take my expert advice and ditch the piecemeal exercises (biceps curls, triceps extensions, ab crunches, etc.) in favor of total body exercises. I guarantee you better results in less time by regularly employing these movements into your workouts – they will really be taken to the next level.


How to Use Circuits For Faster Fat Loss

Monday, November 10, 2008
Resistance training is typically approached in a straight set format.  Essentially, this means you do a predetermined number of reps of an exercise for or you perform as many reps as possible of an exercise and then rest anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes before repeating this a certain number of times based on your goals. 

So, what’s wrong with that?  Well, though straight sets are simple to explain and an easy place to start, they are also an extremely inefficient way to order your exercises.  In most commercial gyms you’ll typically see someone perform three sets of 10 reps of an exercise - let’s say a biceps curl.  They crank out 10 reps, go to the water fountain, chat it up with their friends, watch a couple of highlights on ESPN, and then gingerly walk back to finally do their second set.  In the case of three sets of 10 biceps curls it takes many a gym-goer up to 15 minutes to complete one single exercise. That means you’d need at least an hour to go through only four exercises!

A much more effective and time-efficient approach to ordering your exercises is utilizing the alternating set format.  Here you’ll perform one exercise, rest for a short period of time, then perform another non-competing exercise, rest for a short period of time, and so on.  Alternating sets allow you to work different areas of your body when you'd otherwise be sitting on your butt waiting to start your next set.  Plus, by working another area of your body with a non-competing exercise you allow your body to recover from the previous exercise or exercises.  The result is more work accomplished in less time, the cornerstone of any sound fat loss program.  There are several ways to perform alternating sets outlined below:

1.) Supersets: Alternate between two different non-competing exercises (e.g. upper body and lower body such as push-ups and lunges)

2.) Trisets: Alternate between three different exercises (e.g. push, pull, and lower body such as push-ups, rows, and lunges)

3.) Circuits: Alternate between four or more different exercises

All of these are great training options, and I use all of them in my Boot Camps.  To show you why, that a look at one of my favorite circuits, the 50-10 Five Exercise Circuit.  In this circuit, you alternate between 50 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest for all five exercises, a total of five minutes (and what a five minutes it is!).  It's an easy plug and play workout format, and I've included what I feel is the strongest way to utilize it (examples in parentheses):

Exercise #1 - Double Leg (Squats)

Exercise #2 - Push (Push-ups)

Exercise #3 - Single Leg (Reverse Lunges)

Exercise #4 - Pull (Compound Rows)

Exercise #5 - Core (Bicycles)

You can do this once, and then do a different circuit, or you can do it up to four times for a 20-minute total body fat burning workout (make sure you work your way up to a 20-minute workout if you value getting out of bed the next morning!).

Basically, in the same 15 minutes that it took to get in three sets of biceps curls you could have done three sets of five different exercise for a total of 15 work sets!  Plus, the intensity on each exercise will be just as high as in the straight set format because in this five exercise circuit you will have full recovery with over four minutes before you return to any given exercise (just as you did with the straight set format described earlier).

The key to creating the optimal hormonal environment for fat loss is to perform each exercise with maximal intensity while separated by brief rest periods in order to accumulate a high volume of total body work in the shortest amount of time possible. Circuit training gives you the best of both worlds and is flat-out unmatched for maximizing fat loss and lean muscle gain.

I’ll be sharing some more great circuit training workouts from my boot camps in the weeks to come, so keep visiting!

Yours in health,
Mark Haner

Partner Up For Results

Tuesday, November 4, 2008
In my newsletter last week, I talked about partnering up for exercise.

Few things can make you work as hard as having someone to work with.

But there is a flip side to this.  A lot of people who think they have a "workout buddy" actually have a "conversation buddy."

If you want to workout with a partner so you have someone to talk to, then you're doing it for the wrong reason.  Be honest with yourself, are you working hard if you can carry on a conversation?  I sincerely doubt it.  And if you're not getting after it, you're going to have to workout a lot longer than you want to in order to get results out of it.

Workout with a partner so you have someone to push you.

Grab a friend and try this four-minute workout.  I recommend that your entire workout last longer than four minutes (I would use these four minutes as just one element of a full workout), but if you are really in a time crunch, four minutes can get you a really tough workout, especially when working with a partner.

One partner will be at Station A, setting the pace.  Station A is 15 pushups.  The other partner will be at Station B, which will involve running between two cones (or shoes, or sweatshirts - something to mark out the distance) spaced ten yards apart.  Both partners will be working for the entire four minutes.  While one partner is doing 15 pushups, the other will be touching as many cones as possible on the run.  Once the 15 pushups are complete, you switch places.  Keep switching stations as many times as possible (read: get after it on the run and the pushups).  Once four minutes are up, you're done - and believe me, you'll be done!