Madonna’s Gym, “Hard Candy Fitness”, Coming to a City Near You?

So Madonna’s Gym empire, Hard Candy Fitness, is launching in Mexico City on November 29th (a little less than a month from now). Yep, this lady is right up there with Oprah when it comes to being ambitious. I think it is cool she is doing this. The funny thing is that I just heard about this yesterday and figured it would make for an entertaining topic to discuss. Some of the places where I have seen this announced were pretty critical. I actually think that the gym industry has HUGE room for improvement and my hope is that Madonna’s gyms will be a step forward.

Madonna's Gym

[This is a recent Dolce & Gabanna ad that Madonna was featured in. She is 52 and looks closer to 32. She is doing something right.]

The Biggest Criticism I Found When Doing Research…

Read moreMadonna’s Gym, “Hard Candy Fitness”, Coming to a City Near You?

The One Arm Military Press – “Old School” but Effective

So I have recently been toying around with the one arm military press.

I train shoulders twice per week and I now include heavy one arm military presses every other shoulder workout. This started by accident a little over a month ago. I was planning to do some seated dumbbell military presses, but all the benches were taken.

I grabbed a set of dumbbells and decided to do just one arm at a time standing (an exercise I’ve never included as part of my routine). It felt pretty awkward the first set, but really engaged my triceps.

By the 3rd set I was hooked! This creates a much different feel in the shoulders than doing seated dumbbell presses. After just 4-5 weeks of using this lift all of my weights in my pressing movements have shot up. No wonder this was such a popular exercise back in the early 1900’s.

 

one arm military press

 

[Yeah…I am nowhere near this strong. I’m only using dumbbells in the 60 pound range. I have no idea how much weight this guy is hoisting. With Olympic plates it is easy to tell what is happening, but with these old fashion barbells who knows what is going on!]

You Will Be Able to Use Heavy Weights in This Lift

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Explosive Strength Training – Applying More Force to the Weights Being Lifted

I am cautious about recommending explosive strength training due to a higher risk of injury compared with slow and steady training.

That being said, it is an effective way to gain strength quickly when done properly. I haven’t dug in deep into this topic on my blog so far, so I wanted to take the time to do this now.

The same weight can generate a different amount of tension to the muscles worked, depending upon the speed at which that weight is lifted. This is what I plan on talking about in detail in this post, along with a way to include this technique into your workout routine.

Explosive Strength Training
[Insert cheesy trivia that “ants can lift 50 times their body weight” here. Another awesome piece of trivia for you? A polecat is not a cat. It is a nocturnal European weasel 🙂 Very important life-changing info for free, brought to you by FBB!]

Strength Training vs Building Muscle

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A Story of Breast Cancer Survival…

I am nervous right now as I type this post. I’m going to talk about something personal and it doesn’t have anything to do with getting in shape. Ever since the age of 12, when I lost my mom to breast cancer, I wanted to do something that will would help find a cure. I used to dream of finding a cure myself, so other kids wouldn’t lose their moms to breast cancer. I always planned on doing all the “walks for the cure” and raising money for breast cancer research, etc. Regrettably, close to 30 years have gone by and I haven’t done one single thing that would raise awareness or help in regards to breast cancer. My hope is that this post will be a start.

Breast Cancer Survival

[October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the U.S. With 110 women dying of breast cancer per DAY in the U.S. alone…we have a long way to go.]

My Friend Grant, His Wife Steph, & Their Inspiring Story…

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The Best Gym Pound for Pound is in Bulgaria?

The coolest thing about the Internet in my opinion is the ability to meet people from all over the globe. Over the past 3 years I’ve become friends with a sharp personal trainer from Bulgaria, Yavor Marichkov. Yavor runs a blog called Relative Strength Advantage. My favorite part of his site are his video tutorials. His little gym is popping up all over Youtube and making a big impact. If you are cruising Youtube and run across a gym with a black & white checkered floor, then stop and check it out…most likely it is Yavor’s gym. Every video that comes out of that gym is pure gold. This is why I believe it is one of the best gyms pound-for-pound.

Best Gym Pic

[Believe it or not, I was going to put up a picture of an amazing looking Bulgarian beach. When you think Eastern Europe you don’t think beaches, but Bulgaria has some parts that look like California. I decided with this picture of a painted on Bulgarian flag instead.]

Tales from an Eastern European Gym
-by Yavor Marichkov

Read moreThe Best Gym Pound for Pound is in Bulgaria?

What the Heck is Inflammation? Why Should You Care?

The term “inflammation” usually puts me in skim mode when I’m reading article.

I feel like my time is limited and I want to quickly move on to something more interesting like fat loss strategies. I’m going to do my best to give you the Cliff Notes version of what inflammation is. Earlier this week, Brad Pilon, just completed the newest version of Eat Stop Eat which now goes into detail about inflammation.

He sent me an early copy of the book and also a document with 15 scientific studies he referenced in the book. He told me it was cool to share this info with readers of Fitness Black Book. So I will try to hit some good points from the notes Brad sent me without making you feel like you are reading a text book.

Inflammation

[Happy Autumnal Equinox! This girl doesn’t look so happy about the whole situation. Looks like she needs to drink some of that coffee.]

What the Head of A Major Pharmaceutical Company Told Me

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Carb Strategies That I Have Found to Work Well for Staying Lean

I love carbs, which is why I could never be 100% Paleo. I do eat Paleo meals and even occasionally have low carb days, but I can’t imagine a world without carbs.

I enjoy gummy candy and red vines when watching movies and this is a habit that I don’t want to break. Anyway over the past 20 years I have learned a few carb strategies that allow a person to eat tasty carbs without putting on a bunch of excess weight.

This stuff isn’t ground breaking or anything, but I know it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of these effective strategies. I will create a list of tips and put the ones that have helped out the most towards the top. Of course, I would love to hear your thoughts as well in the comment section.

 

Gummy Cola Bottles

[This my latest candy of choice. They are kind of sick and good all at the same time. A slightly weird chemical flavor, but the texture is outstanding! This is for more advanced gummy connoisseurs, who are ready to move on past Gummy Bears and Swedish Fish.]

A “Thanks” to All of the Fitness Guys Who Have Come Clean

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Hindu Squats. An Effective Body Weight Exercise for Fat Loss and Mobility.

So I have recently decided to add Hindu Squats into my routine. Due to the fact that I don’t want to increase leg mass, I’ve avoided barbell squats the past 10 years.

I’m not saying that squats are bad, there just is a certain point where too much lower body mass becomes cumbersome. In my opinion intense cardio intervals develop legs that are functional and defined without getting too big.

That being said, squats do help your body maintain good hip mobility and lower back flexibility. If I’m perfectly honest with myself, I’ve lost a bit of flexibility these past 10 years.

So I have found that Hindu Squats are the perfect solution to get the positives of the barbell squats (mobility and flexibility) without the negatives (excessive lower body mass).

Hindu Squats
[Here’s a picture from the Holi festival in India. It is a spring festival celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and others. On the main day of the festival people throw colored water and colored powder at each other. It would be cool to see this in person some day.]

Why Can’t You Just Stretch for Mobility?

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Are Brief Workouts Effective for Fat Loss as You Get Older?

There is something to be said for brief workouts. Back in the 80’s, when I joined my first gym, it was common for workouts to last over 90 minutes.

In college I would train up to 2 hours per day with a group of friends. We would spend 90 minutes lifting and 30 minutes on cardio. The routine was “3 days on and 1 day off”. Although that was WAY too much time in the gym, each of us was in great condition. With that much time sweating and burning calories, it was bound to work.

The problem was that our workouts weren’t time efficient. With a few less beers per week and less calories, we could have got the same results with about 1/2 the amount of time spent in the gym. In fact, with enough intensity and with a proper diet I believe I could have maintained a low body fat percentage just training a few times per week.

Although a few intense brief workouts are enough for a 20 year old to stay ripped, I believe the rules are different for a 40 year old.

Brief Workouts
[The time element of training is rarely discussed. Usually it is just assumed that less time training is better. If you are in your mid 30’s or older, I think you might need to question this assumption.]

Raging Hormones, High Metabolism, and “Naturally Active”…

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Are Push Ups Necessary if You Have Access to Free Weights?

People who have trained in the gym for years often look at something like the simple push up as a beginner’s exercise. I mean, why would they want to perform push ups when they can get a “real” chest workout with heavy sets of bench presses. This is a big mistake, and one that I have been guilty of. It is easy to look at the simple push up as working the exact same muscles as the bench press, but with less resistance. I would like to talk about why you should include the push up in your routine, even if you are someone who trains with free weights.

Bench

[Here are a few guys “benching” on the edge of the River Thames in London using decent form. Yes…a bad joke, but better than the typical bench press article picture…a bulky guy in a lifting suit bench pressing a ton with his face as red as a beet.]

Read moreAre Push Ups Necessary if You Have Access to Free Weights?