The "Kick The Habit" Workout

If you're looking for a way to vary your weight room routine, and you should vary your weight room routine, here's a good way to shock your muscles.

Repeating the same exercises and rep counts over and over again can eventually lead to a plateaus in your muscle growth. Your muscles will get used to the same movements and say, (if muscles could speak:-)), "Oh, this again?"

Eventually, your muscles can just become more adept at that skill, not necessarily be growing.

 Let me also reiterate here that if you do the same thing over and over, and it works for you, then by all means, roll with it. However, if you notice a lag in your progress, try something new and completely random. Your body thrives on variety.

In this particular workout, we are going to get our major muscle groups used to the same thing, form a habit, if you will, then suddenly shock them in the end.

Pick three multi jointed free weight exercises for the three major muscle groups. I'm recommending barbell squats for legs,glutes, and core, chest press (bench or dumbbells, depending on if you have a spotter) for chest, shoulders, and triceps, and the lat pulldown for your back and biceps.

*Note-when I say multi jointed, I mean working more than one muscle at a time. I always recommend bigger movements over smaller ones. A squat would be multi jointed, and a bicep curl would be single jointed. Leave the single jointed movements behind for this workout.

You're going to pick a weight that is fairly easy/moderate for you to lift for 10 reps. It shouldn't be a struggle, but it shouldn't be a breeze. Find the happy medium. Then you're going to lift that same weight for 10 reps, for 8 sets. Sorry, it may get kind of boring. Again, the weight should not be so heavy that you fail at all for any of the 8 sets.

After the 8 sets of 10 at the moderate weight, you're going to then do one set of the heaviest weight you are able to do for as many reps as possible. It should be so heavy that maybe you can only crank out 2-3 reps. But you should fail here. So we're going to maintain, then shock.

The actual workout looks like this:

Squats ( moderate weight) 10 x 8
Squats (max weight) 1 x failure

Bench Press or Dumbbell Press (moderate weight) 10x 8
Bench Press or Dumbbell Press (max weight) 1 x failure

Lat Pulldown  (moderate weight) 10 x 8 
Lat Pulldown (max weight) 1 x failure

Your muscles are going to be so used to those 8 sets of 10 that the sudden shock of doing your max at the end of it will send them into high growth. So we're going to "kick the habit" of the 10 reps of the same weight. (Like that?;-))

Also, the fact that this is a full body workout, where we're hitting all the major muscle groups, as opposed to just one, can contribute to that lean look you may be going for as well as growth.

This workout could be very easy for you if you're used to heavy lifting all the time, but so what? It's different, your muscles will be "glad" for something new. But if you wanted to, you could do more exercises for the same rep scheme.

If you find it to be very difficult and you find you don't necessarily have the muscle endurance to keep repeating these movements, drop your moderate weight even lower and finish.

Again, this is just one example of routine variation. There's thousands of way to mix it up. Let me know if you have any questions.



Six Minute Push-up Challenge

Tack this quick push up drill onto the end of your workout to get those pecs and triceps popping for the last weeks of Summer!

I ran a couple of miles then did this, but you could add it to any type of routine. Also, it's simple!
You could try it alone as we'll just to do the challenge, but I'd recommend at least a warm-up first.

*Do 10 pushups every 30 seconds for 6 minutes straight.

Unless you did a heavy chest workout beforehand, this will probably seem easy at first, because the average person will do 10 push-ups in about 10-12 seconds, then you have rest time until the next 30 seconds come around. However, once you get to about the third minute, your chest and triceps should be screaming!


Too easy? Do this for 10 minutes straight instead of 6.

Too hard? Try for 8 push-ups every 30 seconds instead of 10. Also, you can modify your push-ups (knees on a mat) .

Tip: I don't care if you're a male or a female, if your form starts to suffer and you can't do a full rep anymore, modify your push-ups. I would rather see a full range of motion done on your knees than a half rep doing them regular. Do whatever you have to do to finish all 6 minutes with proper form.

Vanity tip: Check out your arms, shoulders, and chest in the mirror when you're finished (you know you're going to anyway;-)), and report back to me! I bet you will see that extra "pop" or cut in your muscles. If you don't, I will eat crow!:-)

Good luck!


Don't Be a "Gym Robot"


I see way too many people I refer to as “gym robots”.  A gym robot comes to the gym and does the exact same workout all the time, and never deviates from the routine. I’d go as far to say that one could set their watch to a gym robot. But routine is the enemy in the fitness arena! If you do the same thing, all the time, your body will adapt to it, and not improve. Your body will think that the same old motions you’re putting it through are normal.

The common retort of a gym robot is “Well, I’m not trying to improve, I’m just trying to maintain. This has been working for me for years so I won’t change it.” More power to you. But the body should always be improving. As we age, staying in shape is going to be more difficult. Your body, eventually, if you keep just putting it through the same motions, is going to be more susceptible to injury and an accelerated aging process.

I see people come to the gym every day and go to the same machines, in the same order, using the same weight. I ask you, is this not boring? Why not make a workout fun? We are more likely to stick to an exercise schedule if we are not bored. Stop going through the motions! Make it harder, make it easier, change your reps, change your exercises, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask a trainer how to vary your routine. Some folks just don’t know any different.
I understand a lot of people are just set in their ways, which is fine. It is better to come to the gym and do the same thing all the time than to not come at all. But if you want to achieve your fitness goals to the fullest, you may want to change those ways from time to time.
Our bodies thrive on variety. There are just way more benefits to varying your routine than there are to doing the same things all the time.

-Damon Costantini

5 Things Exercise Class Participants Should Know (From an Exercise Class Instructor)

Good afternoon, exercise world!

I don't wanna make mountains out of molehills. I have an awesome job and I love what I do. It's generally a fun job 90% of the time. But I'd like to speak up a minute, if not on behalf of all exercise instructors, for myself as one at least. I've been in the business for almost 20 years, and these are some minor observations I have that may make your limited time inside the gym as efficient and as fun as possible. I completely understand that I am not the customer in this case, and the customer is always right, however in some cases, maybe they're a little bit wrong? I saw some folks in the restaurant business post similar sentiments and was inspired! :-)

Read on with a smile, but please also consider these 5 things.

1. Don't come bother me to start class before class time.
In my job, I get a half hour to workout myself before I teach a class if I want to get paid for the class. If you want to come ask me what equipment we may need for class to set up ahead of time, cool. If you want to come ask me a fitness question, awesome. If you just want to chit chat, even better! But please do not come try to pull me into class before class is supposed to start. I don't care if it's 11:29 and class starts at 11:30. I will be on time.

2. Don't make rude comments about the music I am playing.
There's usually a rhyme and reason to the songs I am playing and when. If a song comes on that is not good for exercise, it's an accident, and I will run to my ipod asap. If it's too loud and you want me to turn it down, no problem. If you're offended by a curse word, I totally understand and it was most likely a mistake that that song came on. But if you just don't like the genre of music I am playing, please bear with it. I promise I will play an even blend of all genres. I can't please everyone. It's my class, I've been doing this for years, and I know what I am doing. Mistakes will happen with play lists, etc., I understand. Trust me I will remedy a situation as soon as I can. I will even ask the class for suggestions from time to time. But if you yell out, "Change it!", or "Boring", in the middle of my class, it's going to distract me and pull my enthusiasm level back a notch, and the class will suffer.

3. Come to class late with grace and class.
I personally do not mind latecomers, better late than never! However I don't teach quiet classes like yoga where concentration or meditation is going on, so you may take that up with those instructors. You may be interrupting in that case. But in my cases, come late, a lot or a little. I don't mind. However, come late nicely. Don't push people out of the way, steal other people's equipment, get in someones personal space, unless of course they clearly don't mind. There's usually room for everyone, but be nice please. This is a positive atmosphere and a lot of these folks have limited time. Let them get their workout on!

4. Don't make comments to other participants about their form unless they ask.
I am doing my best to teach and walk around to correct form. If you're a regular and you know some of the routines better than a newcomer, and you tactfully help them out, you've made my job easier. Thank you! But don't call someone out who may be doing something incorrectly. It embarrasses them and will make them not want to come back. Unless they're obviously about to hurt themselves badly, let me correct them,again, unless you do it nicely.

5. Be nice!
We're all here to have fun and get in better shape. There's no need for rude comments to others or me. I am a big believer in tact, if it feels like it may offend, don't go there. If you're just socially awkward, well then I guess we will deal with it in the most tactful way possible.;-) If you're in better shape than most, you don't tell me class was too easy for you afterwards, unless you're busting my chops. "Did you take it easy on us today?", can be said in a cool way. We're all adults here.

Thank you for reading and I hope you keep coming to my classes!
Your Trainer,

Run Your Fastest Mile

If you want to run your fastest mile on the treadmill, my advice is to run 3 miles.

Your fastest mile will be the second mile of these three. You'll be sandwiching your fastest mile in between two slow ones.

I was never a very fast runner, but using this method, I bested my own mile time by about 14 seconds.

If you just hop on the treadmill and go as fast as you can out of nowhere, it's going to be difficult to do your best time. Even with a few minute warm up, I don't find the body is really ready to take on the high speed yet. A good slow mile will prepare your body for what lies ahead. You need to work out the kinks! You will get your blood moving, your heart rate up gradually, and your body better prepared for the taxing fast mile.

Another reason this method works well is because you already have your miles per hour up. So when it's time to run that second mile, you won't waste precious seconds pressing the speed button to get up to a fast mph. You lose a lot of seconds pressing that button when you just run a fast one first thing. With this method, your speed is already up, so you won't waste as much time.

When you're finished your fastest mile, I recommend running one more mile slow. The fastest mile is so taxing on your body that it's best to cool it down sufficiently afterwards.

Consider the first mile a warm up, the second mile your sprint speed, and the third mile as a cool down.

Let me know your fastest times!



Get Good At Stuff

In the fitness arena especially, I hear way too many people saying they don't want to try things because they're not that good at them. It could be any new venture- a sport, an exercise, or even talking to someone you have a crush on.

"It wouldn't work out anyway" or "I'm just no good at it" are the easy things to say.

Don't take the easy way out. If you really want to get good at something, how will you ever do it without trying?

The old saying, "You never know until you try" is true.

I also like this one, "It's okay if you strike out as long as you take a few swings first."

Here is my 2 step system for getting good at stuff, and the first step is the most important:
1. Try
2. Practice

Still didn't succeed? Then try my next system for getting good at stuff:
1. Try again
 2. Practice more
3. Repeat

...and so on, and so on....

You see? It's not even really "my system". It's just how life works.

How do you think people who are good at something got that way? With a few exceptions, people who are good at things probably weren't always good at them.

How about an example? Okay, let's say you want to be able to run a 5k (3.14 miles), but you've never ran before. I wouldn't be able to stand hearing "I'd love to be able to finish that distance, but I'm just no good at running."

This is not a reason not to be able to do it.

My advice is to start small. Don't overdo it your first time or it will be a complete turnoff to you. Run in little increments weekly, and work your way up. Walk when you have to. Give yourself time for preparation. Ask other runners how they started. Set weekly goals for yourself. The first week, try to run a quarter mile without stopping, a half mile the next week, and so on.

You can apply this to anything really, no matter what your goal is.

Don't be one of those people who don't try things because they're "not good at them". That's not living. Turn words into action. You will feel better because of it.

How do I know?

Because I used to be one of those people who said "I'd like to be able to do that, but I'm just not good at it", and I'm not anymore.

Your "Stay At Home" Workout

I recently spent a wonderful vacation in England where we were put up by our gracious friends in their house.

As it happens on vacations, one often finds themselves at a loss for a regular workout routine, which is fine, after all, you're on vacation. However, I found myself one day sitting alone in their house while they worked and shopped and I realized I had been sitting on the couch watching TV for quite a long time, not moving. I felt like I had to move, but it was rainy and cold outdoors, and I had no car to go anywhere.

(Don't get me wrong, I LOVE alone and downtime like anyone else, but I hadn't been steadily working out really on my trip. I felt like I needed to get my blood flowing, if anything for my mood and outlook.)

So the mood struck me, and I went upstairs to the bedroom we were staying in, found a 15 lb dumbbell and went to work. I didn't have a lot of space, but you don't need a lot of space for this workout. It's not incredibly difficult either, so this workout is great for beginners or those with certain limitations.

Here it is:

*squat with dumbbell shoulder press, 10x one arm, 10x other (20 squats total in the set)

supersetted with

*bent over dumbbell row 10x each arm

repeat set 4x

*squat with dumbbell curl, then press 10x each arm supersetted with underhanded rows each arm 10x

repeat 2x

*pushup set 10x-9x-8x-7x-6x-5x-4x-3x-2x-1x (minimal breaks in between, depending on your skill level)

*plank set --regular plank 30 seconds, side plank 30 seconds, regular plank 30 seconds, other side plank 30 seconds

repeat set 3x

And done! This didn't take me very long at all, and I wasn't pouring buckets of sweat, but I got my blood moving, felt a pump, and did a full body workout.

Don't have a dumbbell handy? Use bands or a soupcan!

No excuses!