Five Fat Loss Tips For Summer

In General, Movement, Nutrition by Mikki Reilly3 Comments

1. Build Muscle. When you add muscle to your body, you increase your metabolic rate, which means you burn more calories all day long. The most effective way to gain muscle is to train your full body with free weights three times a week for 45 minutes each session. Multiple studies have shown that performing total body workouts, rather than …

A Maverick’s Guide To: Booming Fitness

In General, Movement, Nutrition by Mikki Reilly2 Comments

In the past, aging has often meant a gradual loss of health and vigor as the years progress. But with the recent advances in research on aging, we now know this slow decline is no longer inevitable. With the right exercise and nutritional program, even an unfit person can turn around most of the consequences of aging. We know, for …

The Muscle Tone Myth

In General, Movement by Mikki Reilly7 Comments

I taught a circuit class for the Body Electric in Santa Barbara yesterday, and after the class, one of the women in the group asked if it was possible to tone-up the back of her arms. I understood that she wanted firmer, more defined looking arms, but is that what “muscle tone” really means? According to Wikipedia, “muscle tone” is …

Exercise Tip: Swiss Pullovers

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The Swiss pullover is a great exercise which targets the muscles of the back as well as the glutes and core since you are holding yourself in a bridged posture. Muscles involved: Latissimus Dorsi, Pectoralis Major, Triceps, Erector Spinae and Gluteus Maximus. Action: Grasp a dumbbell and lower yourself back on a Swiss ball with your head and shoulders supported, …

Exercise Tip: Dumbbell Forward Lunge Press

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The dumbbell forward lunge press is a great full body exercise. The lunge works your quads and glutes and the press works your upper back and shoulders. Muscles involved: Quadriceps, Gluteus Maximus, Deltoids, Trapezius and Triceps Brachii. Action: Grab a pair of dumbbells and bring them to your shoulders. Start with your feet shoulders width apart and toes pointed straight …

The Push-Up: One Measure Of Fitness

In General, Movement by Mikki Reilly6 Comments

There was an article this week in the New York Times about how the simple push-up is the greatest measure of fitness. Here’s what the article had to say: “The push-up is the ultimate barometer of fitness. It tests the whole body, engaging muscle groups in the arms, chest, abdomen, hips and legs. It requires the body to be taut …

Exercise Tip: Swiss Ball Jackknife

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The Swiss ball jackknife is great movement for targeting your lower abdominals. And, since the ball is unstable, your entire core has to work to maintain the position of your body. Muscles involved: Rectus Abdominus, Obliques, Hip Flexors and Shoulder Girdle. Action: Start by getting into a pushup position with the tops of your feet on a Swiss ball. Your …

Escalating Density Training

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In my most recent post, I discussed the idea of increasing the density of your workouts by using supersets and complexes as a way to cut back on the amount of time spent in the gym. Escalating density training (EDT), devised by my old friend, Charles Staley, is another simple yet effective training method which emphasizes training density. The EDT …

Burn Fat Faster With Shorter Workouts

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The most frequent reason I hear for not working out is: I don’t have time. With that in mind, I’d like to suggest a couple of ways to effectively work your muscles and increase fat burning while spending less time in the gym. The simplest way to decrease your time in the gym is to increase the “density” of your …

Exercise Tip: Lateral Lunge

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The lateral lunge is a great hip mobility exercise which can be used to increase range of motion when done at bodyweight. It can also improve strength when a weighted vest, dumbbells or a medicine ball is added. Muscles involved: Gluteus Maximus (buttocks), Hamstrings, Adductors (inner thigh). Action: Stand with feet together and hands above your chest. Keeping your abs …

Three Ways To Build Muscle

In General, Movement by Mikki Reilly3 Comments

In a recent post I discussed the best way to build muscle – full body workouts with exercises that work multiple joints. But what would that look like in terms of reps and sets? While there are many ways to structure a workout, if you want to gain muscle there’s one basic notion you’ll want to adhere to. It’s called …

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 …

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 …

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. …

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 …

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 …

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

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

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), …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 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 …

Monitor Your Heart Rate During Intervals

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I often take my clients to the track at Santa Barbara City College for their first interval session. This is a beautiful stadium that’s located right by the beach and there’s a spectacular view of the ocean from the top of the bleachers. I’m a big believer in my clients doing cardio on their own. But for the first session, …

The Deadlift Is A Functional Exercise

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I was working with one of my clients on his deadlift recently. And after he completed a nice set of five reps, I commented that the weight was 235 lbs. Another gym member, who overheard our conversation, then asked my client if he was “powerlifting.” No doubt, the deadlift is a powerlifting exercise that’s used to measure strength at competitive …

Exercise Tip: Dumbbell Stiff-Leg Deadlift

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The Stiff-Leg Deadlift is a great functional exercise that strengthens the glutes (buttocks) and hamstrings for activities like running, jumping and skating, as mentioned previously. It can be done with either dumbbells or a barbell. Muscles involved: Hamstrings, Gluteus Maximus (buttocks) and Erector Spinae (low back). Action: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent. Keeping your …

The Leg Curl Is A Useless Exercise

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In the traditional gym setting, the leg curl is often considered a staple of lower body strength training. It’s an isolation exercise (a single joint movement), knee flexion, that’s used for strengthening the hamstrings. I believe this exercise is useless because you never use this particular muscle action, isolated knee flexion, lying on your stomach, in everyday activities and sports. …

Aerobic Exercise Makes You Fat

In General, Movement by Mikki Reilly3 Comments

I was recently contacted by a client I trained a few years back who said she’s been doing steady-state aerobic exercise everyday for 40 minutes (skating along the bike trail by the beach) and that she’s beginning to gain weight. How could this be since aerobic exercise burns calories? Athlete/scientist, Art De Vany theorizes that too much aerobic exercise increases …