Exercise Tip: One Leg Stiff Leg Deadlift

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Here’s a great functional exercise for developing your entire posterior chain (glutes and hamstrings) while also enhancing balance and dynamic flexibility. Muscles involved: Hamstrings, Gluteus Maximus, Adductor Magnus. Action: Grasp a dumbbell and hold it in front of your body. With shoulders back and chest elevated, raise the foot that is on the same side as the dumbbell and begin …

Exercise Tip: Prone Row

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This exercise is my favorite version of the classic dumbbell row. It works the muscles in the upper back while also developing core strength. Muscles involved: Rhomboids, Trapezius, Latissimus Dorsi, Rectus Abdominis, External Obliques, Hip Flexors. Action: Position yourself with one hand on a bench while the other hand holds a dumbbell, arm fully extended, with your body fully extended …

Three Steps To A Leaner, Stronger Body

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Do you have an image of your ideal body in your mind? Perhaps you’d like to increase the size and strength of your upper body… Or maybe you want to lose that spare tire around your middle… And then again, you may want to look sharp in your business suit for presentations. Whatever it is, this program will transform the …

Paleo Meal Suggestion

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When I work one-on-one with clients, and I explain the hunter-gatherer diet – that it includes an enormous amount of plant food, protein and healthy fats with no grains (including oatmeal), milk, beans or processed foods – I’m often asked what I eat. Here’s a meal suggestion that’s very Paleolithic. It’s simply a grass-fed beef burger with sautéed collard greens. …

Kettlebell Training

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The kettlebell is a versatile training tool that you can use to add variety to your workouts. Originally used by the Russian military and Special Forces, the kettlebell effectively increases strength, power, speed, coordination and core stability. One study by Voropayev in 1983 suggests just how effective kettlebell training is. In this study two groups of college students were followed …

Exercise Tip: Swiss One Leg Dumbbell Row

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This version of the dumbbell row is fun and challenging. It’s a great exercise for developing your back while working on your balance. But probably the best reason to include this movement in your program is that it will work wonders for your posture by strengthening the muscles that keep your shoulders back and that keep your mid and upper …

Set SMART Goals

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Why? Because goal setting works. Research studies have shown a direct correlation between goal setting and enhanced performance in both sports and business. One reason is that goals act like a roadmap. They take you from where you are to where you want to be. Think of it as a long term strategy that can be broken down into a …

Keep A Food Diary

In General, Nutrition by Mikki Reilly2 Comments

One of the most effective tools I use with my clients is a food diary. Keeping a food diary can often mean the difference between success and failure on a fitness program. And it is an absolute must if you want to drop fat. A food diary is just like what it sounds, a notebook in which you record your …

Exercise Tip: Swiss Push Up

In General, Movement by Mikki Reilly2 Comments

Here’s a variation on the basic push up exercise. By using the swiss ball to create instability, you can increase the activation of the muscles, increase the difficulty of the exercise and improve joint proprioception (internal sense of where you are in space). Muscles involved: Pectoralis Major (chest), Triceps, Latissimus Dorsi, Rectus Abdominis and External Oblique (abs), and Hip Flexors. …

Gary Taubes, Good Calories Bad Calories

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I just finished the first chapter of Good Calories, Bad Calories written by Gary Taubes, an award-winning science writer. This book may be one of the best nutritional books of the past twenty years. Reuters recently published a review in their Lifestyle: Health & Fitness section. Here’s an excerpt from that piece: “Good Calories, Bad Calories” examines an alternative hypothesis …

Supplement With Creatine And CLA To Improve Body Composition

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Looking for a way to enhance the results of your strength training? New research suggests that supplementing creatineand conjugated linoleic acidin conjunction with strength training increases strength and fat loss. In a clinical study at McMaster University, researchers tested 39 adults aged 65 to 85. One group did an hour of strength training twice a week and took five grams …

Strength Training And Premenopausal Women

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New research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that strength training is effective for preventing increases in body fat in overweight and obese premenopausal women. The research was based on the fact that “American women aged 25 – 44 y gain 0.5 – 1 kg yearly, most of which is fat.” The goal of the study was to …

Good Carbs And Bad Carbs

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In past years, it was thought that simple carbs were the bad carbs and complex carbs (which come from starchy foods) were the good ones. But the distinction between the two is really meaningless. All carbs get broken down into glucose in our bodies. What’s important is how quickly they get broken down. When a carbohydrate is broken down into …

Hunter-Gatherer Diet Better Than Mediterranean Diet?

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In a previous post I discussed the fact that we have the DNA of the hunter-gatherers. And, when our bodies don’t see the food and activity patterns of our Paleolithic ancestors, we become susceptible to many of the diseases of civilization (heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc). This study shows that even when you have coronary heart disease, eating like the …

Playing Soccer Is Better Than Jogging?

In General, Movement by Mikki Reilly1 Comment

Here’s an interesting new study which suggests that you can get some amazing health and fitness benefits from playing just one hour of soccer two or three times a week. At the University of Copenhagen, researchers followed a soccer team of 14 untrained men between 20 and 40 years of age for 12 weeks. The group practiced soccer two or …

Exercise Tip: the Deadlift

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The deadlift is my favorite exercise. It’s a compound movement that works the entire posterior chain (low back, glutes, hamstrings) as well as the core. And it’s one of the most functional lifts available. How many times in a day do you bend over to pick something up? Muscles worked:Erector Spinae (low back), Gluteus Maximus (buttocks), Hamstrings, Trapezius and Rhomboids …

Eat and Train like the Hunter-Gatherers

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At first glance, it’s not obvious that we have anything in common with our Paleolithic ancestors. Civilization has completely changed the way we live our lives. But because our DNA evolves so slowly, our genes have not changed over the past 40,000 years; we have the genetic blueprint of our Paleolithic ancestors. Consequently, our bodies are expecting to see the …

Women in the Weight Room – Part 3

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Probably the biggest myth, regarding women and exercise, is the idea that women need to do a lot of low intensity cardio (aerobics) to be lean and improve body composition. The truth is that performing excess cardio will only make you fatter, in the long run. One of the reasons is that too much aerobic exercise increases stress hormones, which …

Exercise Tip: Single Leg Supine Bridge

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This isometric exercise is a great hip and hamstring strengthener. It also teaches you to use your hips and hamstrings rather than your low back to extend your hips. Muscles involved: Erector Spinae (low back), Gluteus Maximus (buttocks), and Hamstrings. Action: Lie on your back with your arms at your sides. Bend your left knee to 90 degrees with your …

Women in the Weight Room – Part 2

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Another myth, regarding women and exercise, is that women will get “too big” if they lift heavy weights. The truth is that women need to lift an appreciable amount of weight to change their body. Women don’t have the hormones to bulk up. Men produce 10 times more testosterone (the hormone responsible for increases in muscle mass) than women and …

Women in the Weight Room – Part 1

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A recent response to one of the meals I posted reminded me of some of the myths about women and diet and exercise that are so prevalent in our society. One of which is the idea that women need to starve themselves to lose weight, when in fact, women need to eat, to boost their metabolic rate, to burn fat. …

Exercise Tip: Weighted Slider Reverse Lunge

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My client, Marion, is demonstrating the reverse lunge, done with a relatively new training device called the Valslide. I added dumbbells to increase the intensity but this exercise can also be done with just your body weight. The Valslide can be purchased at Perform Better (follow the link on left side of my blog). A word of caution — the …

Exercise Reduces Inflammation

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Here’s an interesting new study that shows how exercise reduces inflammation. It’s not the first study to suggest that your fitness level affects inflammation, but it is the first study to show the underlying mechanism involved. Researchers at the University of Illinois looked at the effect of heart rate recovery after exercise, on C-reactive protein (CRP), a blood protein that …

Pilates Vs Weight Training

In General, Movement by Mikki Reilly2 Comments

I get a lot of questions from my clients about Pilates and how it compares to weight training. And my response is that I’m a big believer in the good, better, best approach to health and fitness. Pilates is definitely better than sitting on the sofa, but is it the best way to achieve your goals? But before I get …

Exercise Tip: Split Squat

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The split squat is another great exercise for improving single leg strength which works almost every muscle in the lower body. As with most body weight exercises, begin with no external weight and as you advance add dumbbells, a bar or weighted vest to increase the difficulty. Muscles involved: Quadriceps, Gluteus Maximus (buttocks muscle), Hamstrings, Quadratus Lumborum (low back muscle), …

Track Your Lean Body Mass

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I’m a big believer in measuring lean body mass. I think it’s the single best way to determine your level of fitness. To quote Art De Vany, “Your lean body mass is the metabolically active you. It is the tissue that allows you to function and think and live.” Lean body mass is defined as, “anything that is not fat …

Weight Training, Mitochondria and Aging

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There’s little doubt that weight training reverses the effects of aging in human skeletal muscle. But in a new study, researchers at McMaster University wanted to see if the loss of mitochondrial function, related to the loss of muscle mass in older individuals, would also be reversed. (The mitochondria convert food into energy). So they compared the effects of six …

Reverse the Effects of Aging – Part 4

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The best measure of cardiovascular fitness is VO2max; it’s a gauge of the maximum amount of oxygen you can consume and use in one minute of aerobic exercise. Researchers claim that once you’ve reached 30 years of age, your VO2max decreases about 10 percent per decade, without training. The good news is that anyone can increase their VO2max by as …

Exercise Tip: Lying Hip Abduction

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Lying hip abduction is a great exercise for working the Glute Medius, a hip muscle which stabilizes the knee during single leg movements such as walking, running and one leg squats. Weakness in this muscle can cause problems such as chrondromalacia patellae (softening of the knee cartilage), Patellar tendinitis, patellofemoral syndrome or the more common “runners knee.” To strengthen the …

Reverse the Effects of Aging – Part 3

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The Free Radical Theory of Aging is probably one of the most popular theories of aging. It’s about how oxidative stress brought on by free radicals results in aging and the development of a variety of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders and some cancers. A free radical is an atom with an unpaired electron. The nucleus of an …

Exercise Tip: Prone Bridge

In General, Movement by Mikki Reilly2 Comments

The prone is bridge is a great exercise which develops stunning core strength. There are three different levels to this exercise and the version illustrated in the photo is the most advanced. I suggest working up to that exercise using the method outlined below. Muscles involved: Rectus Abdominis, External Obliques, Hip Flexors Action: Lie face down on the ground or …

Reverse the Effects of Aging – Part 2

In General, Primal Lifestyle by Mikki Reilly1 Comment

There’s been a lot of research on the aging process lately because of the large population of aging baby boomers – individuals born between 1946 and 1964. And one of the more popular theories researchers are advancing is the “glycation theory of aging.” Andrew Weil, in his book, Healthy Aging, explains that the process of glycation is like carmelization, or …

Plyometrics Develop Speed and Quickness

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In a recent post I discussed the fact that we lose fast twitch muscle fiber as we age if we don’t participate in activities which require the muscles to generate a lot of force. A great method for developing these fibers is plyometrics, or “jump training.” This technique was pioneered in Russia back in the 1960s and gained worldwide recognition …

Five Simple Tips to Transform Your Diet

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In a previous post I discussed the Evolutionary Fitness diet. So here are five simple tips for implementing this nutritional plan: 1. Eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, which have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and even osteoporosis. They are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and various other beneficial …

Exercise Tip: Side Bridge

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The side bridge is a great lateral flexion exercise for developing stability in the lumbar spine. It’s a safe and effective way to strengthen the obliques and quadratus lumborum. Muscles involved: Internal and External Obliques, Quadratus Lumborum and Transversus Abdominis Action: Lie on one side with your top hip stacked above your bottom hip. Raise yourself up until your body …

Reverse the Effects of Aging – Part 1

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One of the well-known consequences of aging is the loss of lean muscle mass. In particular, the type II muscle fibers (fast twitch) decrease the most – the ones we use for speed and quickness. In a recent study, researchers took biopsies of the Vastus Lateralis (one of the quadriceps, or knee extensor muscles) and found that individuals in the …

Add Foam Rolling To Your Program

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Want to increase your flexibility? The foam roller is one of the most effective self-maintenance tools you’ll find for releasing tension and improving your overall range of motion. We all accumulate tension in our muscles from over use, lack of stretching, and the aging process. Foam rollers release this chronic muscular tension and restructure your skeletal system in such a …

Exercise Tip: Swiss Oblique Crunch

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In a recent post I discussed the fact that exercises done on the stability ball develop the deep segmental muscles that stabilize the spine. The Swiss Oblique Crunch is a great exercise for recruiting those spinal stabilizers as well the powerful rotators of the torso: the internal and external obliques. Muscles involved: Internal Obliques, External Obliques and Spinal Stabilizers. Action: …

What’s For Dinner?

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In a recent post, I discussed the Evolutionary Fitness Diet, a diet rich in plant foods, protein and essential fats. So here’s an example of an evolutionary fitness dinner. I made sauteed kale (which I first boiled), sauteed sweet mini-bell peppers with red onion and a grilled turkey burger. The burger is 99 percent fat-free and made from free-range turkey …

What Is Evolutionary Fitness?

In General, Movement, Nutrition, Primal Lifestyle by Mikki ReillyLeave a Comment

I came across a compelling theory on fitness and nutrition, recently, that’s based on our evolutionary past. The idea is that our minds and bodies are a product of millions of years of evolution. And since our genes haven’t changed over the last 40,000 years, our DNA is that of the hunter-gatherers. Athlete/scientist, Art De Vany suggests that our genes …