Friday, February 21, 2014

Myth of "toning"

The number one thing I have clients tell me they want to get out of their training sessions: get more "toned".
While this has become an everyday word in the fitness world, it is misleading.

First of all, your muscles either shrink (from inactivity) or grow (from resistance training). Decreasing overall body fat percentage will lead to more defined muscles, because your muscles will be more apparent when they have less fat covering them. This is not "toning"; you are just exposing the muscle that you already have.
In addition, your muscle shape is largely genetically-based. You're born with it. That doesn't mean there's no hope for you, it just means that doing 1,000 crunches everyday isn't going to give you differently SHAPED abs. That's why when some people have abs they are a "six-pack" and others have more of a hard, flat stomach with little cross-cutting. Either way, you won't see definition through your midsection unless the body fat that is there decreases.

Another really important clarification: your body doesn't spot reduce. Doing ab exercises everyday doesn't mean that your body is going to use that calorie deficit you put it in to reduce your abdominal body fat. Your body is (unfortunately) going to do whatever the hell it wants. Again, largely because of genetics. So even if you're doing more crunches than you are lunges, your body may lose fat from your legs before it does your abdomen...and for your workout buddy it could be the exact opposite! This is why it's so important to focus on overall muscle building and fat loss, not "toning".

Knowing this, it's best to focus on HOW to lose that body fat, build muscle, and uncover those shapely muscles you already have, or are currently working to develop.
8-12 reps is ideal for muscle growth (aka "hypertrophy"), although there are many different opinions on rep ranges. One thing fitness professionals do agree on, though, is that the high rep, low weight or even body weight workouts that claim they will help you "tone"...are BS. What is doing 25 crunches, 20 air squats, 15 burpees, and 10 pushups going to do for you? CARDIO, that's what.You may feel tired after completing one of these fad Pinterest-y workouts, but it's not going to do much for your muscle shape or size.
Generally, I do either 3 sets of 10 reps, 3 sets of 8, 4 sets of 8, or 4 sets of 6. This obviously varies depending on the exercises being performed.
If you're looking to decrease body fat, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is a great way to go because it is a more intense, but shorter workout that utilizes both oxidative and anaerobic/ATP-PCr systems. (This is generally done in repeating intervals of 30 seconds high intensity and 1:30 of moderate intensity for about 20 minutes.)

THINK FAT LOSS, NOT WEIGHT LOSS!

A myth that goes hand in hand with this, is that women who lift weights will get "bulky" and look "manly". This is just. not. true. Seriously ladies...DO NOT BE AFRAID OF THE WEIGHT ROOM! Weights are going to give you those "toned" muscles, sexy curves, and ABS. Women just don't have the hormones necessary to bulk up like men do who lift unless they are eating a HUGE surplus of calories in order to purposefully gain that weight.

I did this in only 10 months by lifting heavy A$$ weights and barely doing any cardio. Just cleaned up my diet, and hit the weight room! I promise...weights are your friend.


♥MK

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

SMART Resolutions

As the New Year approaches, many people around the world realize that they may not have accomplished as much as they would have liked to this year. "What have I really done in 2013 that I can be proud of?"
And then the inevitable happens: the resolution-ers unite!...for about 3 to 4 weeks. That's right, most resolutions don't last past February. But why? Why are so many people so set on reaching new goals, but when the time comes can't commit and follow through?
Well, I'm here to say that resolutions CAN work. There's a big BUT to that statement: BUT most people don't know how to set a goal that is realistic/powerful enough to stick to. 
Here's a little goal setting advice from a psychology and health studies double major (who took oodles of sports psych and nutrition electives...and is a fitness professional...and former college athlete. I've had to learn how to set goals ALOT��)

First, let's talk about SMART Goals.
S: specificity. Your goals must be specific to your needs an aspirations. Goals are not universal!
M: measurable. Try to identify a way in which you can measure your goal attainment CONCRETELY. For example, losing X number of pounds.
A: attainable. Most goals are attainable, but first you must recognize what needs to be done in order for you to do so. For example, if you've had problems reaching similar goals in the past because of low motivation, this should be the focus of your personal preparation!
R: realistic. You must be both willing and able to make a change and work towards that goal. 
T: time-based. Set a deadline! And mini deadlines to help you stay on track to meet that longer deadline. For example, if you want to lose 15 pounds in 3 months, you could try to evenly lose 5 pounds each month. If this doesn't go as planned at the end of the first time check (first month), you have time to revisit your strategies to help you get to the end goal!

^you better believe I used SMART goal techniques to make this much progress!

Once you've successfully made a goal that fulfills all the requirements of SMART goals...the next hurdle is actually getting your butt in gear and FOLLOWING THROUGH. You can make goals all day everyday, but they're not going to do you any good in your head. Here are a couple of extra tips for success in 2014:
*Tell someone else about your goals. Hell, tell a TON of people. Point is, when you feel that other people are aware of what you need to do to accomplish your goals, it will keep you accountable. Plus, having friends and/or family in on it could be an awesome support system to pump you up when you're striving for success!
*Write your goals down. WRITE THEM DOWN! It seems so silly and simple...but people have been shown to be more successful at reaching goals if they are literally staring them in the face. 
*Practice/ use SELF-TALK. Self talk is a cognitive technique that many athletes practice so they can use when they are stressed, being too hard on themselves, or using other performance hindering behaviors. An example would be to talk oneself through a tough craving if trying to lose weight! By giving yourself examples of why you're being too hard on yourself (ex: if you call yourself fat for eating too much, say "stop! I'm not fat for eating this one thing, I will just remember this unhappy feeling next time I think I need an extra ____, and realize that losing the weight will make me happier than this extra food").

If you'd like any help setting goals for the new year, especially fitness/health goals...let me know! I'd love to help :)
AND HAVE A GREAT NEW YEAR!!!!!!

❤️MK

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Science of Cheat Meals: Why you NEED them.

First of all: I would like to formally announce that I have joined a competition team and will be competing in the spring! I will be competing in the bikini division, and prepping for it NATURALLY. I know many people are skeptical of this sport because they assume everyone is following horrible diets and using illegal substances...but there are a huge number of people who aren't, and I will be one of them!
Go check it all out HERE!

Now, cheat meals are a topic of mass confusion among many people learning how to eat clean. Many can't understand why you would work so hard to make progress with your diet, only to "ruin" it with a big pizza or plate of cheese fries.
Well there is a legitimate scientific reason behind these indulgences, and why most people do them once per week.

First of all, cheat meals will only benefit those who are in a calorie deficit (ex: burning more than they are consuming). This doesn't mean they're necessarily restricting their calories to a super low amount, but rather that their diet plan allows them to have enough carb, fat, and protein to keep a certain deficit after working out everyday. For example, my current prescribed deficit is 500 calories per day, and I do this through carb cycling for my upcoming bikini competition.
Second, cheat meals are working to effect Leptin: a hormone circulating in the blood that helps regulate (suppress) appetite. Leptin levels decrease when you are in a calorie deficit, so cheat meals will increase your leptin levels for a short period of time, and your metabolism will respond positively to expend these additional calories. However, this metabolism spike doesn't immediately disappear after you are done eating your cheat meal...it continues at an elevated level afterwards leading to an even greater energy expenditure and often, fat loss.
Food in general also has a thermogenic effect (the thermogenic effect of food, or TEF), which simply means that your body increases energy expended in addition to metabolism after you eat food in order to aid in digesting that food. This is related to, but independent from leptin levels.

These physiological upsides to cheat meals do not mean everyone who is practicing clean eating should take one day out of the week and eat whatever they want to the point of being sick. Instead, they should be a planned, "responsible cheat" MEAL. Not day.

(The Rock knows how to cheat^)

There is one thing that people should beware of when using cheat meals in their diet plan: the psychological aspects of food. As we know, food is addictive. So if cheat meals aren't controlled enough, they can become mentally degrading, as people will either start to feel like they can't continue their diet without one, or the opposite effect; they may dread them and choose to skip.
Remember that they should be fun and enjoyable. Pick something that you love, that doesn't totally fit your macro nutrient goals, but that won't make you sick. For example, a stack of cinnamon roll pancakes and a side of bacon for a cheat "brunch" (the best meal of any day) will leave me feeling full and satisfied. But if I follow that up with a huge creamy pasta dish with garlic bread and dessert for lunch...I would most likely feel very sick and the whole essence of the cheat meal would be lost. Everyone should follow their own intuition when it comes to choosing a cheat, as not everyone will respond the same way to the same foods. John can eat an entire large pizza to himself when he's hungry for a cheat meal...and I would probably be rolling in pain after half of one.

I hope this helps!
♥MK

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Gallon a Day Keeps the Doctor Away!

Sorry for being MIA for the entire month of September! Jeez, that's a long time. Mainly I've kept busy with new clients and classes, but I have finally found a semi-permanent schedule (T-GOD).

I know that I've previously mentioned that part of my clean-eating lifestyle is drinking a gallon of water per day, but I thought I'd explain a little deeper into why I (and many other body builders) do this!

1. The majority of the human body is water. If you don't actively refill your water stores, you will suffer the effects of dehydration which is harmful in MANY ways.
2. Your skin will thank you. Hydrated skin is happy skin. You will breakout less, have better color, and toxins that exit through the skin will be unhindered.
3. Drinking water will help you lose weight. When you are dehydrated, those toxins that are trying to exit your body are stored in fat cells until the fat can be released safely (under hydrated conditions). Also, drinking water speeds up metabolism for a short period after ingesting; therefore if you are constantly drinking water over the course of the day, your overall metabolism will increase.
4. Water aids in carrying nutrients to the parts of your body that need them! AKA less nutrient deficiency.
5. Water is an energy source for the human body! Want to feel less sluggish and get through the day without passing out at your desk? Grab a gallon and CHUG!
6. Staying properly hydrated can actually decrease your blood pressure, at the least keep it from increasing. Here's why: blood is almost completely composed of water (over 90%) when adequately hydrated. If the body becomes dehydrated, so does your blood, which increases its thickness, leading to increased resistance to blood flow from the surrounding vessels. This increased resistance (or pressure) leads to an increase in the overall blood pressure.
7. Digestive health digestive health digestive health! Do you like being constipated? ME EITHER.
8. Water is zero calories. What more explanation do you need? Not only is it full of health benefits, but it won't effect your calorie intake from foods...AKA being able to eat more...BONUS!

These are just a few of the many reasons I drink a gallon a day. Other than the excessive trips to the bathroom (guilty), I have led a happier, healthier life since starting this regimen.

♥MK

Monday, August 19, 2013

100 rep KILLER (in a good way) leg workout!

I have found my new favorite leg workout and am slightly (very) obsessed with it. Disclaimer: it will sound crazy to those who haven't tried it...but I promise it made my legs feel better than they ever have after a leg workout. I wouldn't necessarily recommend doing this twice a week, but it's definitely worth it to sub it in for your usual routine once in awhile to switch things up!

100 back squats with barbell:
I did 10 sets of 10 reps to get to 100, and used a weight that was challenging enough to make my legs wobble, but not so hard that I couldn't complete a set fluidly. For me this means 65-70 pounds (my current 1 rep max weight for back squat is 165). I rested for 45-60 seconds in between each set, and about 3 minutes after all 100 reps before moving onto the next exercise.
*Muscle group worked= core, glutes, hamstrings, back, quads
 



The following exercises use machines:

100 standing glute kickbacks:
I did 10 sets of 10 each leg; doing 10 on the left and then immediately doing 10 on the right to complete a set before taking rest. Rest was 60 seconds!
*Muscle group worked= glutes, hamstrings, lower back.

100 leg extensions:
I did 5 sets of 20 to get to 100 for this exercise, and used 40-50 pounds resistance. Rest between sets was 60 seconds.
*Muscle group worked= quads, hamstrings, core

100 seated leg curls:
I did 5 sets of 20 with 40-45 pounds. Rest was 60 seconds!
*Muscle group worked= hamstrings, glutes, core

I went into the workout prepared to come out the other side feeling tired and definitely expected to be sore the next day...but was super pleasantly surprised that none of the above were true...other than my legs feeling like jello temporarily while walking back to the car, I felt even better than when I walked into the gym an hour earlier! It really refreshed my legs and left me feeling better in general.

On a slightly different note: I got my first personal training job! I will be working at the University of Iowa rec center and could not be more pumped to start!!!! If you live in the area (or know anyone that does) and want to try working with a personal trainer I'd be more than happy to take you on as a client!


♥MK

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My love-hate relationship with Pinterest.

I first got my Pinterest account about a year ago. Since then, it has been a nifty way for me to spend my time, especially if I am bored, have an internet connection, and have time to kill. I have found endless craft and DIY ideas that I want to try, some that I have! Ways to better spend your money, beauty tips that you would have never otherwise heard of....pictures of romantic getaways and ideal weddings. What's not to like, right?!
Well, not all that glitters is gold.

The more aware of health and nutrition I become, both from being a Health Studies major, fitness/health enthusiast, and personal trainer...the more aware I am of false claims and advertising about these topics. Pinterest specifically fuels these false claims by allowing anyone to post anything that they please. This is why mine, and probably many other Pinterest-ers' feeds are speckled with Pins such as: How to Lose 10 Pounds in 3 Days the HEALTHY Way! Stop right there folks: there is no healthy way to do this. 10 pounds in 3 days would mean losing over 3 pounds per day, which is INSANE. And even if you do lose this weight, do you really think it'll stay off? Probably not. These claims have you thinking you can lose that pesky 10 pounds by starving yourself or eating nothing but hotdogs and cucumbers (yes this is seriously a claim out there) and that'll be the end of it. DO NOT KID YOURSELF. The only way to lose weight and KEEP it off is to make a LIFESTYLE change. Stop thinking of it as "dieting", and start thinking about it as changing your eating habits for the better. I promise, you will feel more fulfilled and rewarded than ever before. Instead of depriving yourself, you are treating your body with the respect it deserves by fueling it with wholesome foods... and you know what happens when you eat healthy, non-processed foods? YOU LOSE BODY FAT...BONUS!

Celebrity trainer Barry Jay, founder of Barry’s Bootcamp, who has put the likes of Kim Kardashian and Katie Holmes through their paces, offers three fitness moves to attack that muffin from the top, bottom and the middle!...NO.

I used to be totally guilty of buying into these ads too...nobody is perfect. I even started a cleanse last spring after I tore my hamstring during outdoor track season and was feeling really down about not being able to workout. But do you know what happened? I got so sick that I was vomiting nearly all day long, and had to stop before day 1 was even over. Consuming nothing but melons and water for an entire day? WHAT? WHY?! Once I stopped looking for a quick fix and decided to make a lifestyle change, the results started showing.

When you lead a clean eating lifestyle, you are not "on a diet"...you "HAVE a diet"! It is a part of your everyday routine, and you will be healthier and happier because of it.

(Rant over)
♥MK

PS- I still LOVE Pinterest and visit it multiple times a week...I'm just advocating smart consuming of pins!!!
Seriously...who could NOT pin this face?!
those ears.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Baby got BACK...and biceps.

Here's a rundown of what I do once a week to target my back and biceps!

Cable curls: 4 sets of 10 each arm

Hammer curls: 2 sets of 10, 2 sets of 8 each arm

Bent over barbell rows:  4 sets of 10
-Bend at the waist keeping the chest up and forward, with a slight bend in the knees. Hold the bar with your hands about shoulder width apart and pull up towards your chest, keeping a tight core.

Single arm dumbbell rows (over bench): 2 sets of 10, 2 sets of 8 each arm
-Hold dumbbell in right hand with right palm turned in towards left side of body, place left hand (and knee if desired for additional support) on bench. The right leg should be slightly bent. Pull right arm up until dumbbell reaches chest height, then lower and repeat.

Back extensions w/ weight: 4 or 5 sets of 10



Pull ups: 8, 6, 5, 4, 3...(decreasing assistance each set)
-Assistance can be given manually from a partner, with a resistance band under your feet (anchored in place in the squat rack), or using an assisted pull-up machine. I prefer the resistance band method!

This workout takes me about 45 minutes when resting for 35 seconds between sets and 2 minutes between exercises! Most of my lifting workouts are about 45 minutes long, I rarely go longer than an hour because I monitor how much rest I'm taking pretty well with my Polar watch/heart rate monitor.

Hope you all have fabulous workouts today!
♥MK