A pre-workout energy drink almost killed me. Okay, it wasn’t going to kill me, but it did send me to the hospital in an ambulance (because I thought I was dying.)
I was young, I was naïve, and I was always exhausted. So, I started using a pre-workout energy drink before my workouts.
And it helped. I was able to work harder for longer and they made me feel like I could do anything.
I was killing it in the gym… until I wasn’t. So, I started searching for pre-workouts with more caffeine per serving. And I was able to keep crushing my workouts. Until, I wasn’t. So, I started doubling up on my pre-workout drinks.
And I started crushing again until…
I almost died.
After an especially-challenging, energy drink-enhanced, chest workout, I found myself spending the night in an emergency room in East Lansing, Michigan, hooked up to an IV drip of Ativan.
So, naturally, that was the last time I ever used a pre-workout or energy drink to get through a workout. Right?
I’m going to be honest with you. Sometimes I need a little something extra to make sure I get my workout in. In an ideal world, we would all sleep a perfect 7-9 hours with the perfect number of complete REM cycles to leave us feeling fresh, sharp, energized and ready to seize the day (and crush our workouts!) But we don’t live in an ideal world and, when it comes to exercise, consistency is EVERYTHING.
So, what steps can be taken in order to avoid using or, worse, relying on pre-workout energy drinks to make sure you get your workout in? And, short of that, if you do need an occasional boost, what can you do that won’t prompt a trip to the emergency room?
We’ve all seen ads for “miracle” fitness products that sound too good to be true. “All you need to do is buy the Super-Duper Ab-o-Matic and all of your dreams will come true. Once we process your credit card information, you are guaranteed to lose 15 pounds of fat and gain 10 pounds of lean, toned muscle IMMEDIATELY. No need to spend hours at a time in the gym. Eat what you want. But wait there’s more—we guarantee that in just 90 days you’ll meet the man or woman of your dreams, add a zero to your net worth and inspire awe and envy in everyone you meet. Literally everyone.”
Sound too good to be true? As a rule of thumb, if it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably too good to be true.
That being said, there are some fitness products that are worth purchasing...
Getting your diet in check will be essential in helping you lose weight. Initially, reducing your calories will be the component that causes you to shed pounds. Exercise, of course, can help you widen the gap between calories in and calories out, and, technically, you could create a calorie deficit through diet alone. But you don’t want to simply lose weight; you also want to keep the weight off and if that’s your goal, you are going to have to include exercise at some point. So, at what point in your weight loss journey should you incorporate exercise?
In an ideal world, you wouldn’t need to use a post-workout protein shake at all.
In an ideal world real food trumps a shake. But we don't live in an ideal world.
However, I know all too well how hard it is to squeeze in a workout and then move on with your busy day and you might have to use a protein shake to make sure you get some amino acids into your body right after a serious session.
But with so many options on the market, what kind of protein should you be looking for? How many grams of proten should it contain? So many choices.
Relax. I can help.
Here’s what to look for in a protein shake…
In the case of feeling fatigued but not completely run into the ground, it is best to hit the gym. If you haven’t gotten enough sleep, you don’t have to have to train like Rocky training to fight the Russian running around like a madman in the barren wilderness of Siberia. Push yourself but be kind to yourself; if you’re not as strong as you usually are, rest assured, that not every workout is created equal. Why are you tired? Do you have a touch of insomnia? If so, one of the best ways to address insomnia is with consistent exercise.
Here are my tips to ensure you get the best possible workout when you're tired...
Progress happens incrementally, little-by-little and my clients get stronger, better and closer to their goals every week, all of them. Acknowledging the little victories along the way is essential in building the consistency needed to meet those big benchmarks. Folks want results and sometimes you need to force them to hit pause and reflect to realize that results aren’t just something that happens in the span of the 6 weeks between the “Before” and “After” pix in an advertisement for a “miracle supplement.” (Don’t get me started on that crap. That’s an entirely different post.) The results of our efforts (and without effort there are no results) are usually right there in front of us on the daily if we take the time to recognize them.
Here are a few questions for you: are you weighing yourself every day? Twice a day? Once in the morning and once before you go to bed? Are you weighing yourself at the same time every day?
If you answered yes to any of the above, STOP DOING THAT! It’s not going to help you meet your goals.
So how should you be tracking your progress? I can help.
Your body is an incredibly efficient and versatile machine, so it adapts to steady state cardio rather quickly. As your body adapts to a particular activity (like running on an elliptical machine) it becomes more efficient in the way it expends energy to perform a task it once found grueling (meaning you will burn fewer calories performing that task.)
The antidote to overcoming a plateau like that is to increase the intensity of your workout program.
The good news is that even if you are pressed for time, you can still take your cardio up a notch so you can burn more calories without taking your caloric intake to an unsustainable level. Working with intense intervals for abbreviated periods of time will improve your cardiovascular conditioning and endurance more than doing moderate traditional cardio over a longer period of time and you will burn more calories in less time working this way.
But… Cardio alone isn’t going to solve your problem.
The answer to “how much cardio should you be doing?” is actually…
Almost anyone will experience an increase in appetite when they drastically change the intensity of the fitness regimen, even if you are already in excellent shape. It’s not surprising that you’re experiencing a marked increase in appetite as you have shifted from being more or less sedentary to full throttle in a relatively short period of time. What you are experiencing is to be expected but there are some tips I can offer to help you work around it.
In theory, the empty stomach workout theory operates under the assumption that, without access to other energy sources, your body will tap into fat stored in the body as its go-to energy source that you will burn fat without losing muscle gains. While it is true that your body does use fat as an energy source during exercise. However, it is not the primary source of energy.
Sweat isn't proof that you've gotten a good workout.
I have spent my fair share of time in hotels (and even the occasional motel) where the “fitness center” was a room in the basement with a Soloflex machine next to a broken treadmill. As a result of this experience, I became an expert at improvising workouts on the road. I am happy to share the tips that helped me stay in shape while living out of a suitcase.
Want to get rid of your underarm fat? Seeking to slim up those love handles? Michael reveals the secret to toning these common, undesirable fat storers.
Michael gives the lowdown on this phenomenon.
When you are in the personal training industry your clients’ off time is your work time. As such, my most sought after time slots during the week occur between 6 AM and 8 AM in the morning. It is an occupational necessity to not only be awake during these hours but to be alert, conscientious and articulate. Despite this fact, I am not what you would call a morning person. I am grateful to coffee every morning of my life and so are a number of my early morning clients.
Choose a resolution that works for you and is realistic!