Monthly Archives for June 2011

Archives for June 2011

Shrug Your Way to a Stronger Back.

Dear Davey,

Do you know of any good trapezius exercises? I’m having trouble finding any.

From,
Jeff

Dear Jeff,

The trapezius is a large superficial muscle that runs along your upper back, shoulder blades and neck. It performs a number of important functions in the body – but it is often overlooked in workouts.

Recently, I’ve incorporated a very simple but powerful trapezius exercise called “shrugs” into my workout. You can perform shrugs at home or at the gym – it just requires a set of dumbbells, a resistance band, barbell or two equally weighted items (you could use two large water jugs, for example).

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Stand upright and hold the dumbbells at your side. Palms should be facing each other. Be careful not to move your head or bend your arms during the exercise.
  2. Keep your shoulders relaxed – and shrug them upwards as though you were trying to touch your shoulders to your ears.
  3. Hold here, then gradually lower to the starting position.
  4. Repeat as necessary.

If you’re looking to build your trapezius, you’d opt for heavier weights and lower reps. If you’re looking to maintain – or to increase strength and endurance – lighter weights with a higher number of reps is appropriate.

I hope that helps!

Love,
Davey

Davey Wavey Was Fat.

A lot of people are surprised the hear that I was once overweight.

I casually mentioned my own fitness transformation in a recent post, and a number of people expressed interest in knowing more – and learning how I released my excess weight.

So here it goes.

As I very young child, I was healthy and active. But somewhere around second grade, I started really adding on the pounds. As many of us know, pounds have a way of adding up – and I was significantly overweight within a year.

Children can be very mean, especially if you’re an overweight gay kid. But of all the torment, it’s my mom’s teasing that I remember the most. Whenever an obese person would appear in a movie, nearby on a street or on television, my mom would say, “Look! It’s David!” I still remember that, and often still hear those words when I see someone that is significantly overweight.

Such things have a way of eroding self esteem in a young person, and so I decided to change my body in a very unhealthy way. By sixth grade, I was quickly losing weight through anorexia. Looking at pictures of myself in middle school, it’s very clear that I had an eating disorder; my face was gaunt and pale and I looked quite sickly.

As a male, it’s easy (though perhaps less so today) to get away with an eating disorder; many people associate eating disorders with women. In a single year I grew 4 inches but lost 10 pounds, and so the doctor expressed concern. “Are you eating?” he asked. “Yes,” I said. And that was that.

It wasn’t until age 15 or 16 that I finally took a much healthier route. I started exercising and adding muscle mass to my frail and malnourished body. I began to eat again and repair my relationship with food. Step by small step, I became healthier.

When I talk about the challenges of being healthy, I don’t do so theoretically. I’ve been there. It’s the driving reason that I write this blog and develop fitness products to share with you; it gives me great purpose to help others find strength to transform their bodies and their lives. There’s nothing that brings me greater fulfillment than sharing what I know to help others better themselves.

And even today, I’m still learning new things. My body and its needs continue to evolve. My fitness journey and transformation isn’t over. It never is.

How to Breathe Correctly. [Video]

It’s no secret that we must breathe to live, but most of us don’t do it properly. When we’re born, we use proper breath – but over time, with stress, tension and fear – we adopt less effective and efficient techniques.

As I’m on a week-long Pilates retreat in Provence, France, I asked my instructor to teach us how to breathe. Check out the video below.

Myth: Bodybuilders Are Healthy.

Put health before muscles.

We’ve all seen pictures of tanned, oiled up bodybuilders competing for titles. With their bulging muscles and impossible physiques, one might think that a bodybuilder is the epitome of health. But it couldn’t be further from the truth.

On the day of a competition, most true athletes are at a peak level of health and fitness. For a bodybuilder, it’s the exact opposite. Many are so weak and dehydrated that they’d have trouble running a mile. The reality is that professional bodybuilding can be very unhealthy – and many bodybuilders put their bodies through hell to look the way they do. There’s actually a bodybuilding saying, “Live fast. Die young. Be a beautiful corpse.”

In bodybuilding, the motivation is to look a certain way by building superficial muscles and winning an aesthetic competition. By it’s very nature, bodybuilding isn’t about being healthy. It’s entirely about doing whatever it takes to look a certain way.

According to bodybuilding.com, many bodybuilders suffer from high cholesterol and high blood pressure due to their taxing diets. Moreover, it takes a lot of effort for the human heart to supply blood such a large body mass – and so it increases the risk of heart issues and complications. And that’s without even taking into account the effects of steroid use.

With a goal of true health, proper diet and appropriate exercise are necessary requirements – but bodybuilding takes things to the extreme. Bodybuilding is about vanity and not health. I recommend putting health before muscles.

How to Make Your Kitchen Sacred.

In a few hours, I’m heading out on a week-long pilates adventure in the south of France. My summer reading is (finally getting through) Marianne Williamson’s A Course in Weight Loss. It’s a spiritual approach to weight loss, and one that resonates with me as someone that was once overweight. If losing weight was just a matter of nutrition and exercise, all of us would be at our ideal weights. Weight loss, for most people, is a spiritual issue.

In the book, Williamson recommends creating an altar to love in your home. According to Williamson, we already have an elaborate altar for fear: Our kitchens. And it’s filled with cabinets, pots, counters, foods, pans and appliances. For many people, the kitchen is the headquarters for some of our deepest fears. By creating an altar for love, we invite transformative energy and true power into our lives.

Interestingly, I already have a love altar in my home. I sits on a small shelf and contains a few candles, some quote books, a small Buddha and a jar containing wishes, dreams and hopes that I’ve written onto paper. It’s a very real way to make love more present in my life.

Moreover, Williamson asks her readers to make their kitchens sacred by reciting the following prayer:

Dear God,
I dedicate this room to You.
May only love prevail here.
May fear have power no more,
in my heart, in my body, or in my house.
Amen

While some of Williamson’s language is a bit too religious for my own belief set, I understand the concept. If we view our kitchens as a sacred space that is used to nourish our bodies, we’re less likely to stock its shelves with foods that poison on our bodies – like sugary snacks, chips, soda, etc.

Smudging, which involves burning sage over a bowl, is a technique used by Native Americans to purify a space of negative spirits or energy. For the more adventurous and open-minded, Williamson believes it’s a worthwhile strategy to employ in your kitchen.

It reminds me of a story that I once heard called called Anna’s Box. It went something like this:

Many years ago a young child grew up watching her mother prepare their family meals. And towards the end of her food preparation she noticed that her mother Anna would always reach up over the stove and bring down this beautifully carved old box. Anna would open the box and take a pinch of the ingredients out and add this to the food. The young child asked her mother, “What is in the box?” Her mother would always reply, “An old family recipe – a family secret.” She watched her mother repeat this ritual many times over the years that followed. When the young child was grown with a daughter of her own, she was given the carved box upon her mother’s death. She, too, performed the daily ritual of Anna’s box, and told her young daughter that it’s a family secret. The young daughter was very curious about the contents of this magical box and could hardly wait to find out its mysterious secrets. The years passed and she forgot about the special box.

Then one day, many years later, her mother passed on – and she inherited the carved box. She was so excited to finally receive this box; she held it gently almost afraid to finally discover its hidden secrets. With held breath she opened it only to find it empty. This can not be she exclaimed. She lovingly closed the lid and smiled. She now realized that the box did contain a secret recipe. It was a recipe for the love a person has for her family – a reminder to cook with love. It was the action of looking into the box and remembering to add a pinch of love to every dish prepared that created the magic of Anna’s box.

Replacing fear with love, for many people, really has everything to do with releasing extra body weight. It’s very easy to talk about diets, nutrition and exercise – but sometimes we treat the symptoms without addressing the true problem.

Does Williamson’s advice resonate with you? Or is it too “out there” or extreme? Let me know in the comments below.

Weight Gain After Cardio: What You Can Do About It.

Hey Davey,

I have been doing a lot of cardio recently but have found that in the past four days I weigh four pounds more than usual? Is it water weight? Is it new muscle? What’s going on!

Thanks,
Jerry

Hey Jerry,

First things first, four pounds is nothing to fret about. I think I’ve taken shits that are bigger than that (too much information?) – so keep in mind your body’s own internal biological workings. Ensure that you are weighing yourself at the same time of day and at the same point in your routine for more accurate results; some people report body weight fluctuations of as much as six pounds during the course of a single day.

If the four pounds aren’t the result of normal flucuations – and instead, indicative of a true trend (i.e., you gain another four pounds next week) – it’s impossible for me to say whether it’s water, fat or muscle. But in actuality, it could be any or all of the three.

While people generally associate cardiovascular exercise with weight loss – it’s not always the case. Long cardio sessions can result in the breakdown of muscle – which slows the metabolism and often results in unwanted weight gain. For the best results, limit your cardio exercise to 45 minutes or less. Many of my cardio sessions are only 15 minutes long (but very intense). It’s a matter of quality – not quantity!

If, in addition to your cardio workouts, you are engaged in strength training (i.e., lifting weights, weight machines, etc.), then it’s possible that your additional mass is muscle. Muscle is very dense and heavy. If you are looking to release extra body fat, adding muscle is one of the best ways to do it. To know if your gains are muscle, you’ll have to look beyond the scale. Instead, try alternative ways to quantify your progress – such as measuring your waist. If you lose inches off of your waist and yet gain pounds, it’s a good clue that your gain is the result of muscle. And that would be a very good thing!

Lastly, your weight could be the result of water retention. To eliminate water weight, eat a healthy, balanced diet that is low in sodium. Moreover, you need to drink water to lose water – so stay hydrated. If you are not drinking enough water, your body will go into “drought mode” and retain any and all water like a camel. Not drinking enough water, by the way, also slows down your body’s metabolism and can result in unwanted weight gains.

Bottom line: Ensure that you are limiting your cardio workouts to 45 minutes (or less), are participating in strength training workouts and are staying hydrated.

I hope that helps!

Love,
Davey

How to Overcome Fear of the Gym.

Feeling uncomfortable or intimidated at the gym is actually fairly common among beginners. With bodybuilders and seasoned exercisers and athletes, it’s easy to feel out of place or like you don’t belong.

I think the most obvious piece of advice for overcoming those feelings is to not care what other people might think about you. If you measure yourself by the feelings and whims of others, you are in for a very difficult life. Of course, not caring is easier said than done for a lot of people.

So I decided to make a short video with some more practical advice for overcoming intimidation at the gym. Check it out.

7 Best Tips & Tricks for Runners!

Lycra shorts and pants aren't just sexy - they're functional, too! They can help prevent chaffing for avid runners.

No trip the gym feels complete without a good run (and subsequent sweat) on the treadmill. I’ve been running for more than a decade – in fact, I first started running for my high school’s indoor track team – and I’ve learned a few tips from coaches and experts along the way.

Here are 7 of my absolute favorite running tips and tricks:

  1. Reduce stiffness. Feelings of tightness are common for runners, but a simple warmup strategy can help reduce stiffness. I jog for 3 minutes before my run; the jog heats up my muscles. Muscles stretch best when they’re warmed up – so immediately following my jog, I engage in some stretching. Then, I’m ready for my run!
  2. Eliminate blisters. Blisters are likely the result of loose shoes or bad socks. Ensure that your sneakers fit tightly and that the laces go through every eyelet. If your heel is moving inside the sneaker, then the sneaker is too loose. Moreover, make use of a running-specific sock. My favorite is Lululemon’s Ultimate Running Sock. They are anatomically constructed, moisture-wicking and don’t bunch up or slip while running.
  3. Boosting motivation. Experts often recommend creating a public goal to help boost your motivation and increase your accountability. If you announce to friends and family on Facebook, for example, that you’ll be running a 5k in 2-months, then it may help get you moving a little more often. Take it a step further and invite other people to join you at the 5k. Shorter term, a good playlist or workout buddy can help, too.
  4. Prevent joint pain. Many things can contribute to joint paint – but the easiest way to reduce your risk is to replace your running sneakers regularly. Running sneakers typically last 400 – 500 miles (use this formula to calculate how long your sneakers will last). When you buy a new pair of sneakers, use a magic marker to write the anticipated expiration date on the inside of the shoe.
  5. Stop chaffing. Many runners experience chaffing of the inner thighs due to the friction of skin-on-skin contact. To reduce chaffing, you can make use of any number of creams or powders. Even using petroleum jelly can help. If the problem persists, it may be worthwhile to invest in a pair of lycra or spandex shorts or pants to wear under your running clothes.
  6. Breathe properly. Most experts recommend a breathing rhythm of 3:2 wherein the runner inhales for three footstrikes and exhales for two. An easy way to remember this technique is to breathe along the five-syllable mantra, “I’m get-ting strong-er.”
  7. Catch your breath. Speaking of breath, if you’re having trouble breathing or catching your breath, simply slow down. You’re going too fast. Slower and steady wins the race; it’s never a good idea to start a longer run with an unsustainable sprint. Over time, you’ll build up your endurance and speed.

Those are my 7 best and favorite tips for runners – but please share your own in the comments below!

    4 Ways to Get Motivated to Lose Weight!

    Dear Davey,

    I’m 14, and bassically obese. What can I do to inspire myself to lose weight?

    From,
    Todd

    Todd,

    Thank you for the email.

    I, too, was overweight growing up – and so I understand what it takes to transform one’s body and one’s life.

    First things first, it’s great that you recognize the importance of self-motivation. While many dieters look for external motivation, I firmly believe that the best kick-in-the-butt comes from within. So here are four ways to get yourself fired up!

    1. The “So That” Strategy

    Why do you want to lose weight? Get a piece of paper. At the top of the sheet, write the following:

    I want to lose weight SO THAT…

    Now fill the sheet will all of the many reasons why you want to lose weight. You might want to lose weight so that you’re able to live longer. Or so that you can go hiking or climb a mountain. You might want to lose weight so that you’re able to experience life with improved health. Spend several minutes thinking about all the “so thats” you might have – and record all of them on the piece of paper. The more, the better!

    I recommend keeping the paper somewhere visible – like on the fridge or the pantry door.

    2. Educate Yourself

    A lack of education or understanding often prevents people from embarking on a weight loss journey. There can be an overwhelming feeling of not knowing where to start. Moreover, much of the weight loss information seems to be contradictory.

    Turns out, a very basic understanding of exercise and nutrition will help demystify weight loss. And in all actuality, the fundamentals are fairly simple – and supported through decades of research.

    When it comes to releasing weight, ignorance is not bliss. My “Weight Loss 1o1” article is a great place to start.

    3. Play The “If I Do” Game

    Find another sheet of paper. Ask yourself the following the question:

    What will happen in the next week, month, 6 months, year and 10 years IF I DO take action now to release my extra weight?

    Starting with one week, fill the paper with your answers. Indeed, the short and longer-term transformations to both your body and life will be massive – and you could fill many pages with answers. For example, if you do take action to lose weight right now, you may be 10 pounds lighter in another month. You may have lost 5 inches off of your waist in six months. Or you may have overcome diabetes in another year. The list is endless – but make it your own.

    Again, keep this list in a visible spot so that you are reminded of it often. This list will help drive you forward and get you back on track.

    4. Talk To Your Future Self

    In a way, talking to your future self is visualizing the reality you want to create. And while some people might be leery of talking to oneself, it can be a very powerful – and motivating – exercise.

    Find a quiet space and give yourself five minutes of quiet time. Close your eyes and imagine your future self in a year or five years – or whatever time frame works best for you.

    Ask your future self what he or she did to release the weight. Your future self might say that the transformation came from exercising and focusing on the things that s/he could eat rather than the foods to avoid. Maybe your future self will tell you that s/he fell of the bandwagon many times in trying to lose weight – but that each time it was very important to get back on.

    Ask your future self how life is now different. Many of the answers from your “so that” and “if I do” sheets may come up. Through the answers that you receive, let your future self serve as a guide.

    So, those are 4 very powerful ways to motivate yourself to lose weight. If you have any other tips or strategies, feel free to share in the comments below!

    Circuit Training: What Can It Do For You?

    Circuit training is a great exercise strategy that combines both strength training and cardio. In a nutshell, circuit training involves doing one set of each exercise (in a series of many exercises) with little rest in between. Because circuit training involves moving quickly between exercises, it gets your heart pumping – and hence, the cardiovascular benefits.

    Circuit training may be a good fit if:

    • You are looking to build strength and endurance – and not muscle size
    • You are a beginner or have moderate fitness goals
    • You appreciate structure in your workout routine
    • You don’t have a lot of time to exercise

    Most circuits involve 10 – 12 different exercises and often make use of free weights (i.e., dumbbells), body weight exercises (i.e., push-ups) and machines. A typical circuit training workout lasts about 30 minutes. While many people perform circuits in the gym (sometimes even in groups – see picture), circuit training can also be done at home with minimal equipment – making it an attractive option for home exercisers.

    Numerous studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of circuit training both in terms of strength training and cardiovascular results. When it comes to strength training, research supports the notion that circuit training is effective for endurance and strength improvements – but not large increases in muscle mass. If you’re looking to add serious bulk, circuit training is not for you. Stick to traditional lifting.

    When it comes to cardiovascular improvements, circuit training is considered a low to moderate form of aerobic training. In other words, traditional cardio workouts – like interval training on a treadmill – yield much greater results. To maximize cardiovascular benefits from circuit training, minimize the rest time between exercises. Set up all the equipment in advance.

    Bottom line: For more advanced exercise enthusiasts, and for people looking to make significant increases in muscle size, circuit training isn’t the best fit. But if you crave structure in your workout and are new to exercising or looking for gains in strength and endurance – then you should give circuit training a try.

    How To Get Davey Wavey’s Chest.

    It shouldn't be about creating Davey's chest so much as it should be about building the best version of your own!

    A lot of people send me emails asking about my chest and the exercises that I use to build and maintain it. While I’m happy to share my chest routine, I don’t think it should be about trying to emulate my chest. I think it should be about creating a stronger, healthier chest for yourself. It’s about building your best chest – not mine.

    Having said that, most people are surprised to find out that my chest workout is only 35 minutes long – and that I perform it only once or twice a week. I’m a huge fan of effective and efficient workouts. None of us – unless you’re training for the Olympics – need to be spending hours and hours at the gym. And in many cases, longer workouts can actually be detrimental.

    At any rate, my typical chest workout consists of four basic exercises:

    • 4 sets of 8 reps on the flat bench press @ 185 lbs
    • 4 sets of 8 reps on the incline bench press @ 145 lbs
    • 4 sets of 8 reps on the decline bench press @ 165 lbs
    • 4 sets of 8 reps of 45 lb dumbbell pec flies

    I use free weights since I have access to a gym, but many people – especially beginners – will see great results even if they start with body weight exercises like push-ups. In other words, you’ll need to modify my routine to make it your own.

    Beyond doing effective exercises with good form, it’s important to remember a few things when aiming to build a bigger chest:

    1. Fatigue on last rep. Whatever weight you currently use, you should be fatigued after the last repetition. If you aim for 8 reps like myself, and if you want bigger muscles, then you should be unable to perform a 9th rep. If you can do a 9th rep, then you need to add more weight.
    2. Progression. In order to build bigger chest muscles, progressing to heavier levels of resistance is absolutely necessary. As your muscles build, you’ll have to increase the amount of resistance to maintain muscle failure on the last rep. You muscles only grow if they are forced to do so – and so progression is a requirement.
    3. Fuel your body with proper nutrition. Ensure that you are getting both protein and carbs after your workout – and that you are meeting your daily requirement of protein. Moreover, proper nutrition will support a lean body mass to help increase muscular definition. Do your best to eat like a caveman.
    4. Time. Allow yourself some time; Rome wasn’t built in a day. And it takes serious time and dedication to transform your body. But a year from now, you’ll be glad that you started today.

    There’s really no magic to it. A stronger and healthier chest is just a matter of effective exercises combined with a little fitness know-how.

    Are Nitrates Bad for You?

    We've all heard the rumors about nitrates - but are nitrates really bad for you?

    In recent years, awareness about nitrates has increased sharply.

    Many people realize that deli meats contain nitrates. And because of this concern, many grocery stores now offer nitrate-free options.

    But beyond hot dogs and cold cuts, many people don’t realize that many of our nitrates actually come from a much healthy source: Vegetables. Celery, lettuce, spinach and radishes are just a few of the many veggies with high nitrate levels.

    It all begs the question: Are nitrates really bad for you? Or is it another marketing ploy?

    According to the American Cancer Society, the jury is still out:

    Nitrites and nitrates are added to meats to preserve color and prevent spoilage. Unfortunately, these compounds can be converted to nitrosamines, which are also known causes of cancer in animals (though… the link in people is unclear).

    Some studies have linked nitrates and nitrates to cancer – and others have not.

    In either case, there is a very simple trick to prevent the formation of nitrosamines: Get your recommended intake of Vitamin C. In fact, as a preventative measure, the USDA requires that Vitamin C is be added to bacon to prevent the formation of nitrosamines.

    So while the research linking nitrates to cancer is still inconclusive and possibly overblown, it’s yet another reason to get your daily recommendation of essential vitamins.

    Grip Strength Training Mistake.

    So you’ve started going to the gym—and you’ve even put together a workout schedule. You’re working different muscle groups on different days and allowing for proper recovery time. You’re off to a great start.

    Even so, you still may have fallen victim to one of the most common mistakes that exercisers make when writing their own routines: Pairing grip-intensive exercises.

    Whether you’re working your chest, arms, back, shoulders or legs, many exercises require grip strength. If you’re holding dumbbells or a barbell, then you’re engaging the muscles in your forearm and hands and using your grip strength.

    As it turns out, our hand and forearm muscles aren’t as strong as our body’s major muscle groups like those mentioned above. And so if you pair exercises that make use of grip strength—i.e., pairing bench presses and dumbbell pec flies on a chest day—then you’re liking to experience grip fatigue before your pec muscles max out.

    A smarter routine would pair bench presses with an exercise that gives your grip a break—like pushups. You can still do pec flies, of course, but don’t pair them with another grip-intensive exercise.

    Correcting this mistake is simple and easy, but yields some really great results.

    Gym Slang & Terms Every Exerciser Should Know!

    When I first started exercising at the gym, I found all the gym lingo and jargon a bit intimidating and confusing. To save you the befuddlement, here’s some of the more common terminology that you should know:

    1. Rep. One complete movement of one exercise (i.e., a single push up).
    2. Set. The number of repetitions in a group (i.e., one set of 8 reps).
    3. Free weights. Standalone weights that aren’t part of a machine. These include dumbbells, weight plates, etc.
    4. Strength training/resistance training. Any type of training that builds muscle by working against a form of resistance – usually weights, machines or resistance bands.
    5. Cardio. Short for cardiovascular exercise. It’s any type of exercise that gets your heart rate elevated (i.e., treadmill, elliptical, swimming, etc.)
    6. Circuit training. A workout technique in which the individual performs one set of each exercise with little rest. It provides some muscle gain and cardiovascular benefits.
    7. Core. Term for the muscles in the trunk of you body. Includes abdominal muscles and some back muscles.
    8. Bulking up. Slang for adding muscle mass to one’s body through strength training and nutrition.
    9. Cutting up. Slang term for decreasing the amount of body fat on one’s body to better showcase musculature.
    10. Intervals. Very effective technique that involves cycling between varying levels of intensity during cardiovascular exercise. For example, when doing 15 minutes of interval training on the treadmill, I jog for 90 seconds and then sprint for 60 seconds. It burns more calories and fat than running at a steady pace.
    11. Definition. Low body fat coupled with developed musculature. Also called ripped, cut, or shredded.
    12. Pecs. Short for pectorals, this slang term refers to a man’s chest muscles.
    13. Glutes. A common abbreviation for the gluteas maximus – the largest of the muscles that forms the buttocks.
    14. Juice. A slang term for steroids (i.e., “I think he’s juicing…”).
    15. Lean body mass. The mass of your body minus the amount of fat. There are a number of equations and methods for calculating or determining lean body mass.
    16. Barbell. Used in weightlifting, a long metal bar to which weight plates can be affixed.
    17. Dumbbell. Used in weightlifting, a short metal bar with weights at either end.
    18. Plates. Standalone weights that can be added to a barbell in weightlifting.

    Can you think of any other gym terminology or slang that I missed? Let me know in the comments below!

    Why Fad Diets & Fast Weight Loss Don’t Work!

    Fad diets - like the above cabbage soup diet - aren't just dangerous... they're ineffective.

    We’ve all seen the advertisements telling us we can lose 10 pounds in ten days! Or a dress size overnight. In fact, according to WebMD, Americans spend $33 billion a year on on fad diets like these.

    However, unless your doctor tells you otherwise, most physicians and dieticians will recommend a target weight loss of .5 to 1 or 2 lbs per week. Why?

    Rapid weight loss (usually defined as anything greater than 2 lbs per week) isn’t just unhealthy – it’s not sustainable. Dieters who lose weight fast are more likely to gain it back.

    When it comes to health, rapid weight loss has been linked to any number of ailments and conditions including hair loss, dry skin, loose skin, muscle loss, dizziness, fatigue, malnutrition and even heart attacks.

    Beyond the health concerns, rapid weight loss isn’t sustainable. Often, extreme dieters experience quick and sudden weight loss through starvation or starvation-related fad diets. But starvation also slows down the body’s metabolism. Because of this slow down in metabolism, consumed food is stored as body fat. All the weight that was lost will be gained back – and then some.

    Safe and healthy weight loss of .5 to 1 or 2 lbs is best achieved through a combination of exercise, nutrition and spirit. From a scientific perspective, effective exercise and proper nutrition will result in weight loss. But almost any dieter will tell you that weight loss is also a spiritual issue, and that a more fulfilling relationship with one’s body and self is fundamental.

    The bottom line: While it may be tempting to opt for fad diets or rapid weight loss, the risks far outweigh the benefits. Target slow and sustainable weight loss for real, lasting results.

    Adjusting Caloric Intake for Exercise.

    Hi Davey,

    I’m trying to lose weight and get into better shape and was wondering about calorie consumption.

    If I burn 220 calories after a cardio workout, do I have to eat an extra 220 calories to make-up for the workout?

    Thank you,
    Jen 🙂

    Hey Jen,

    Thanks for the question.

    Since your goal is to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. In other words, your body needs to use and burn more calories than you are consuming. While some of this deficit can be created through better nutrition and decreased portions, the best way to create a calorie deficit is through exercise.

    You might be aiming for a 400 or 500 calorie deficit, and the 220 calories burned during your workout can be part of that deficit. In other words, you wouldn’t need to increase your calorie intake to make up for it.

    If, on the other hand, you’re burning 800 or 900 calories at the gym – which far exceeds your targeted calorie deficit of 400 or 500 calories, then you do need to increase your caloric intake.

    Keep in mind that you’ll want to aim for weight loss of 1/2 to 1 pound per week. If you’re losing weight faster than that, adjust your calorie deficit according (i.e., eat more or exercise a bit less).

    If, instead of losing weight, you were trying to maintain or build mass – then, yes, you’d need to increase your caloric intake to make up for the calories burned during your workout.

    I hope that clears things up!

    Love,
    Davey

    Question: Does Muscle Turn to Fat When You Stop Exercising?

    Answer: Muscle turns to fat in the same way that lead turns into gold. It just doesn’t happen.

    Fat and muscle are two very different and distinct tissues. There is no biological pathway for one to become the other.

    But like many myths, this one does contain a kernel of truth. If someone is injured and can’t workout – or just makes the decision to eliminate exercise – then there is a good chance that they’ll gain body fat. This might create the illusion that muscle is turning into fat.

    The reality is quite different. Fueling an active and muscular body requires an increase in caloric intake. Obviously, it takes calories to sustain a gym workout – but it also takes calories to maintain each and every pound of muscle that the body adds. When people stop exercising, the extra muscle begins to deteriorate in a process known as atrophy. Exercise is eliminated, the metabolism slows and atrophy occurs; the body’s need for calories has now been greatly reduced.

    But when people stop exercising, they usually continue to eat what they ate while working out. Since the diet isn’t modified accordingly, the extra calories are stored as body fat.

    So don’t let this pervasive myth prevent you from hitting the gym – or from taking off necessary gym time to help heal an injury. Muscle will never turn into fat.

    Workout Frequency: How Often is Too Often?

    When it comes to workout frequency, more isn't always better.

    This morning, I received an email from a blog buddy named Virak who is looking to change his life and release a large amount of excess weight. He’s been going to the gym a lot – and asked me a question that is fairly common: When it comes to exercise, how often is too often?

    Like so many things fitness-related, the answer varies from person to person.

    Virak is new to his gym routine, and for that reason, I’d advise him to be very modest in his gym commitments. As I’ve said before, getting into shape is much like running a marathon. You wouldn’t start a marathon by sprinting for the first mile. In the same way, diving into a very intense and very time-consuming workout routine almost always results in burnout. I recommend that new exercisers make an initiation commitment of a few days per week for 30 or 45 minutes. Over time, the duration and frequency of exercise can be increased.

    So, I’d define “too often” as anything that isn’t sustainable.

    We all have busy schedules, and a lot of other commitments besides exercise. Sure, exercise is important – but be realistic with your workout schedule.

    The absolute limit for recreational exercise is generally defined as 90 minutes a day (including any warm-ups and stretching), 6 days a week. Longer workouts, thanks to cortisol, often cannibalize results. And, everyone – and everybody – needs at least one day of rest.

    Keep in mind, longer workouts aren’t necessarily better workouts. I’ve seen many people spend a lot of time at the gym, but do very little. Most people can get an amazing workout in a short amount of time. It’s really quality and not just quantity.

    Moreover, pay attention to muscle soreness. If a muscle is sore from a previous workout, don’t exercise it! Wait until it has fully healed. For this reason, it often makes sense to exercise different muscles on different days. For example, you might be exercising your chest while your legs are sore from a previous workout.

    And of course, you can still do other physical activities – like going for walks, playing sports, etc. – in addition to your workout. After you exercise, you don’t need to spend the rest of the day on the coach.

    Congratulations, Virak, on your motivation to change your life and your body. We’re all here to support you.

    Do Resistance Bands Work?

    Hi Davey,

    I was wondering if resistance bands are a good dumbbell alternative for building muscles – or are they only good for toning muscles?

    Lots of love,
    Sean

    Hey Sean,

    Resistance bands offer many benefits over conventional weights and dumbbells. For one, they’re lighter and more convenient to pack while on vacation. Moreover, resistance bands offer constant tension on your muscles during the entire concentric and eccentric portions of the movement. That’s something you won’t get with free weights wherein resistance is dependent on gravity. And resistance bands can be used to work any muscle in your body; they’re very versatile.

    If you’re looking to increase your definition, then resistance bands are a viable option. I’d still recommend incorporating free weights into your routine, but an effective resistance band routine will yield results. I’d recommend keeping rest periods short; as you move quickly from exercise to exercise, you’ll be able to get some great fat-burning cardiovascular benefits as well.

    If you’re looking to build some serious muscle, resistance bands alone won’t cut it. They’re great to use when on vacation, or to occasionally switch things up, but not as your entire muscle-building fitness program. To build muscle, you must use a heavy amount of resistance that fully fatigues your muscles in fewer than 10 repetitions. With resistance bands, it’s very hard to max out – and to incrementally progress to slightly heavier levels of resistance. You really need free weights for that level of fine-tuning.

    Resistance bands definitely do work – and they can be a great part of any fitness routine.

    I hope that helps!

    Love,
    Davey

    Last Day to Save on Davey Wavey’s The Jock Workout!

    A huge thank you to everyone who has downloaded my brand-new Jock Workout fitness and nutrition program. It has been – by far – my most successful fitness product launch ever! And it’s been getting some rave reviews by blog buddies. I’m really proud of it, and I’ve thankful that it has been so well received.

    If you still don’t have The Jock Workout, today is the last day to download the program with the discount and free gift. If you use discount code “blog” during checkout, you’ll save 25% off the purchase price. In addition, you’ll receive my Ultimate Guide to Working Out – which essentially hires me as your personal trainer – as a free gift ($59 value)!

    But the special offers all end tonight, Tuesday, June 7 at midnight!

    The Jock Workout includes three 20-minute workout videos that train every muscle in your body, an e-book, a nutrition guide, an exercise guidebook, recipes, mobile versions of the workout videos (for your smartphone or tablet), sample workout schedules and much, much more. All the exercises can be done either at home or at the gym without any equipment. To download The Jock Workout – or to watch a free preview of the workout videos – click to The Jock Workout webpage.

    Again, thank you for making this a huge success. I know The Jock Workout is going to transform a lot of bodies and a lot of lives. I hope that yours is one of them. 🙂