Legs Superset: Quad Dominant

Leg day is my favorite workout. I’m trying to build my legs (more definition and a little bit of size wouldn’t hurt) but sometimes I get bored with mainstream exercises. So I’m always looking for ways to make my workouts more interesting and challenging.

This morning I had a killer training session which compelled me to share it with you;) I choose three exercises to superset (perform back to back with no rest in between sets).  I started with a heavy compound movement, followed by a single leg also compound, and finished with a single joint to recruit those extra muscle fibers. The result was a massive pump and a great feeling of accomplishment.

Here goes what I did:

Front squats with barbell – 10 reps (put enough weight to keep the last rep very hard to finish).

Single leg squats on step – 10-12 reps per side (perform this exercise close to a place you can hold onto in case you lose balance. I used dumbbells for extra challenge but I can start with just body weight if you are new to this exercise).

Kneeling sissy squats – 10 reps (keep you hips and your back aligned throughout the exercise while hinging from your knees).

Repeat 4 to 5 times:)

Product Review: Body Science Organic Vegan Protein

I have recently tried a new protein powder. I was looking for a supplement high in protein and low in carbohydrates to use as a post-workout shake during the cutting phase of my competition preparation. So, I went to the local health food store and stumbled across the “Organic Vegan Protein” from Body Science.

It is as the name says: a certified organic product, 100% vegan, gluten free, nut free, and lactose free. It doesn’t contain any artificial colours or flavours, and it is sweetened with stevia, a natural plant based sweetener that is very low in calories. The protein source is a blend of brown rice, pea, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, millet and chia powder. Also, on the label, the manufacture brags that it contains super food extracts such as açai berry, mangosteen, goji berry, and green tea. With 18 g of protein and only 404 KJ (97 kcal) per scoop, I thought it was a winner.

So, I bought a small container (350 g) to give it a try. It contains 14 servings per package and a serving is only one scoop (25 g). I got the chocolate flavour, but vanilla is also available. I tried the protein in three ways: just with water (as my post-workout shake), mixed in my oatmeal, and blended with fruit.

When I had it just with water, it was quite disappointing to say the least. The liquid was thin and powdery. Even though it dissolves well in water (no big lumps floating around), there was a chalky texture that was hard ignore. Moreover, the chocolate flavour is very mild, barely noticeable with a strange after taste (probably from the stevia). I guess, the only plus was that it was a tiny portion (250 ml) so I could pretend it as a “medicine” and chug it down without thinking too much about it.

Next, I tried sneaking it into my oatmeal. I thought it would be a good way to add some protein to my bland breakfast. However, the result wasn’t very impressive. Again, I could still feel the funky powdery texture, and the flavour was quite bland, certainly not enough to sweeten the oatmeal.

Then, I went for a super shake which is when you add several ingredients such as fruits, veggies, nuts to the protein protein powder. On my shake, I used 1/2 banana, 200 ml of milk, 1 teaspoon of peanut butter, 1 scoop of the protein powder, and ice. For my surprise it actually tasted good! I guess it’s because I put back everything that the manufacture took off. But no matter how many ingredients I added or for how long I blended it, that grainy feeling on the tongue was still there.

The bottom line is the Organic Vegan Protein from Body Science has an awesome ingredient list, but let’s say that it looks better on paper than in real life. However, if you don’t mind the chalky texture, it can be a great addition to your super shake.

For more information on the product click here.

vegan-protein_1

1000 Reps Challenge

One of my clients said that she is very competitive and loves challenges. So this week, I gave her a massive challenge: completing 1000 repetitions of several exercises in the shortest period of time possible. She finished the whole thing in about 50 minutes. Do you think you can do better (or even finish it)? It goes like this:

  • 40 plank shoulder taps
  • 30 squats with med ball
  • 20 TRX rows
  • 10 burpees

Rest (as short as possible)

  • 40 plank rows (left arm)
  • 30 alternating lunges with bicep curls
  • 20 ski jumps
  • 10 prone get ups holding a dumbbell (left side)

Rest

  • 40 Mountain climbers
  • 30 ball slams
  • 20 cable touch down lunges (alternating sides)
  • 10 chest down up

Rest

  • 40 toe touch on med ball
  • 30 side walk with super band (left side)
  • 20 lunge switch slams
  • 10 Single arm TRX row with rotation

Rest

  • 40 crab toe touches
  • 30 band swimmers
  • 20 alternating single arm swing
  • 10 kneeling to standing with over hear press (left side)

Rest for up to 5 minutes then repeat the whole workout changing sides.

Good luck!

New Year, New Promises

resolutionsThere is something magical about the beginning of a new year that fills our hearts with hope. Maybe that’s why millions of people start their year with a list of resolutions that they don’t intend to keep. It is almost as if we are throwing wishes at the Universe, not committing to a goal. We dream big, over promise, and under deliver. By the end of January, we can’t even remember most of the items on the list. However, this year could be different. You just need to follow a few steps:

  1. Ask yourself what you really want to achieve. Fitness examples would be: exercise more, eat better, lose weight, be more active…
  2. Now, discover why this is important to you. Why do you want to improve your eating habits or be more active? What are the feelings behind those actions? This is a crucial step to your success because it will determine your level of commitment and help you keep motivated.
  3. Next, determine how important this goal is to you. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate its importance? If it is a 9 or 10, you are ready to go to the next step, but if it is not, you may want to reflect on why this is not a priority in your life. Maybe, you are not ready for it yet or you are just trying to please someone else. Don’t set yourself up for failure, by committing to something that is not meaningful to you.
  4. Once you know what you want and why, you are ready to create a REALISTIC plan of action. And I mean realistic because, we tend to go overboard on our optimism until we realise that it’s not doable. Also, be specific. For instance, how are you going to be more active? “I will go for a 30-minute walk after dinner, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays”. Notice that this plan is very specific and quite feasible.
  5. Keep track of your progress. This will help you notice small achievements which will get you energized and motivated, especially when times get harder. For example, if your end goal is to lose a considerable amount of weight, it is very likely that it will take a few months to get there. So, take pictures and measurements on a regular basis to see your body transformation and record your training sessions to notice gains in strength and stamina.
  6. Be prepared for lapses. Yes, that’s right. There will be times you won’t feel like going to the gym or your diet will be subpar, but that’s not a reason to give up altogether. Be prepared to forgive small slip-ups and have strategies to get back on track as soon as possible. Keep in mind that consistency is what matters, not perfection.

Now, get pen and paper and start writing down your fitness resolutions for 2015. And if you need any help, don’t hesitate to contact me. I can help you start the year with the right foot.


Carla Torres is an AIF Master Trainer based in Rhodes, NSW. Her mission is to promote exercise, proper nutrition and healthy habits as a way to empower individuals to make decisions leading to better quality of life.

Clean Your Diet

You have been exercising regularly for a while, and now you feel it is time to make positive changes in your diet. If you want to eat better but have no idea how, I have a few tips for you. Just follow the next steps to a healthier diet.

1. Clean your pantry

Some foods are supposed to be eaten in moderation, meaning once or twice a month. If you keep those foods at home, chances are you are going to eat them more often than you should. Thus, to clean your diet, you should get rid of those foods. Get a garbage back and throw away the following items (if you have them at home, otherwise you are already half way to success).

clean pantry2. List of foods to include in your diet

foods to eat

3. Know your portion sizes

Here is an easy way to determine the amount of food you should eat when planning a meal.

portion size4. Plan meals in advance

Before going grocery shopping, plan the menu for the week. Then make a list of the items you need to purchase and stick to it. Don’t ever go shopping hungry because you are more likely to buy “forbidden foods” (chips, cakes, and other energy-dense snacks). The following menu is just an example. You can choose foods you enjoy based on your culinary skills. I suggest that you have easy recipes at hand to help you decide what to prepare for the week. The goal is to limit the number of times you eat out. Restaurant foods and take away are usually high in calories, fats, sugars, and salt. In addition, you can’t control the quality of the ingredients that you are consuming. Keep restaurant visits to a minimum only on special occasions and when you don’t have time to prepare your meal at home.

menu sample

References

www.eatforhealth.gov.au

ww.precisionnutrition.com


Carla Torres is an AIF Master Trainer based in Rhodes, NSW. Her mission is to promote exercise, proper nutrition and healthy habits as a way to empower individuals to make decisions leading to better quality of life.

Healthy Eating – Breakfast

papaya and yogurt yogurt and berries egg on toast

You have probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But do you know why? Researches show that people who start their day with a morning meal tend to weigh less than those who skip breakfast, are less likely to snack throughout the day, and perform better at mental activities.

Physiologically speaking, as we sleep, we use energy stores to keep our organs running. This means that even though our metabolic rate slows down, our body still needs some energy to maintain heart and lungs functioning. In addition, tissue repair and growth happens while we snooze and those processes require energy and nutrients.

Thus, in the morning we are mildly depleted since we have been fasting (at least I hope you are not eating during your sleep) for eight hours or more depending on the time of your last meal. Therefore as we get ready to start the day, our body desperately needs fuel and nutrients.

Here are some healthy and balanced options under 300 calories, that will fill you up and won’t break your “dietary budget.”

breakfast_table


Carla Torres is an AIF Master Trainer based in Rhodes, NSW. Her mission is to promote exercise, proper nutrition and healthy habits as a way to empower individuals to make decisions leading to better quality of life.

Weight-Loss and Energy Balance

energy balanceIn my experience as a fitness professional, I could say that most people who join a gym do so in the hopes of changing their looks, and weight-loss is certainly one of the most common fitness goals out there. Even though regular physical activity is definitely an important piece of the equation, when it comes to slimming down, exercise alone may not be enough. This means that everyone trying to shrink their waistline should pay close attention to their diets.

To comprehend how weight-loss occurs, one must first understand the principles of energy balance. The set of chemical reactions that happen in our body is called metabolism. Metabolism is the balance between the energy that comes in through the food we consume and the energy that goes out through our daily activities. However, according to the law of conservation of energy, energy cannot be created or destroyed, only changed in form. For the human body, this means that whatever energy we consume but do not burn is stored as fat.

The good news is that the reverse is also true, which means that to promote weight-loss all we need to do is to create an energy deficit (burn more than we consume), right? Not so fast. The problem is that for evolutionary reasons, the human body became very good in storing energy but not so efficient in getting rid of the surplus energy (aka fat). But don’t get discouraged. I’m not saying that losing fat is impossible; I’m just saying that it may require a little more effort than you previously thought.

For our body, conserving energy stores is a way of surviving through times of famine (even though it is not very likely that it will happen nowadays). In order to force our body to use fat deposits, we must create a demand for this energy. That’s where physical activity comes into play. Regular exercise is the most efficient way to burn extra energy, but in order to use the fat deposits you also must restrict the amount of energy coming in, and that’s where most people get out of track.

The reasoning behind this principle is simple. The body tends to use energy that is readily available. If you keep consuming a high-calorie diet, your body will use the energy from food, not from your energy stores (meaning that the fat around your waist will not be touched, no matter how many hours you spend on the treadmill).

Bottom line is: if your goal is to shed kilos, you need to combine exercise with a healthy low-calorie diet. And how many calories you should consume? Well, for specifics on this subject, you will need to wait for our next article. Meanwhile, focus on eating fresh instead of processed, homemade instead of restaurant and take-away foods, and lean and low fat instead of full fat varieties. This small piece of advice can help you control your energy intake without having to count calories.


Carla Torres is an AIF Master Trainer based in Rhodes, NSW. Her mission is to promote exercise, proper nutrition and healthy habits as a way to empower individuals to make decisions leading to better quality of life.

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead

fat sick and nearly deadThis is not a new movie (from 2010) but I have just watched it and I really recommend it. It is a documentary based on a guy’s quest for the cure of a rare skin condition. After being on medication for years with little results, Joe Cross decides to reboot his life through juicing. He spent 60 days cruising the USA while on a complete juice fast[1] interviewing Americans along the way.

Even though it seems quite a radical approach (well, in fact it is radical) he could restore his health and even help others along the way. However, the real lesson in the movie is hardly about a new fad diet. I believe that his goal was not trying to convince people to engage in his challenge, but to understand what motivates people to eat what they do on regular basis.

I would say that the movie is more about behavior change than it is about diet. Several interviews throughout the movie clearly showed that people know what they are doing wrong. They just don’t see a reason strong enough to change it. All they say is “I know I shouldn’t eat that much fast food but” or “I should eat better but.” There was always a “but.” Not even the threat of debilitating diseases seems to compel people to change. Most call themselves weak or say they have no will-power. Some say that they need the instant gratification they get from food which means that eliminating that little pleasure from their lives is perceived as bad as, if not worse than, a debilitating illness or even death.

Which makes me think: What has to happen in someone’s life to push her/him into a new direction? What do you think?

[1] The only thing he ate for the duration of his self-imposed challenge was fresh fruits and vegetables in the form of juice.


Carla Torres is an AIF Master Trainer based in Rhodes, NSW. Her mission is to promote exercise, proper nutrition and healthy habits as a way to empower individuals to make decisions leading to better quality of life.