Monthly Archives: March 2017

30 Days to Melt Your Waist In Winter

Despite what you’ve probably been led to believe, churning away like a rat on a treadmill during the holiday season (or any other time of year for that matter) is really not the best way to burn fat. In fact, it can actually backfire and lead to the common cortisol and catabolic hormone release that accompanies excessive aerobic exercise – which winds up making you fatter!.

This can result in hormonal imbalances, fluid retention, overtraining, and injury. It’s why the folks who approach New Year’s fat loss by simply trying to stay on a mind-numbingly boring cardio machine for as long as possible are usually the folks who fail (and the ones you probably stop seeing at the gym by mid February).

But the good news is that you can embark on a 30-day rapid fat loss journey without sacrificing your health, body, or performance for the rest of the holiday season. And with the safe, healthy, and effective guide in this episode, you can melt your holiday belly in a fraction of the time it takes your over-exercising friends. Feel free to start this workout now, or save it for your official New Year’s routine!

30 Days to Rapid Fat Loss

The 30-day rapid fat loss guide below is split into three separate 10-day cycles – the first 10 days involve easy fasted fat burning sessions; the next 10 days will add slightly more difficult body weight training; and the final 10 days will round out the routine by adding high intensity intervals and weight training.

Ready? Roll up your sleeves, tighten your belt, and let’s jump right in:

Days 1-10: Burn

For the first 10 days, exercise is simple. There will be no hard or long exercise sessions. For many, this will be a practice in self-control and moderation, since most holiday exercisers are notorious for eating whatever they want, then trying to burn it off with excessive exercise. But days 1-10 of this plan are the exact opposite: limited exercise combined with sane, responsible, calorie control. The side benefit of this approach is that it will also give your body and gut a chance to rest, recover, and reboot.

For each of these 10 days, you will simply do a morning fasted fat burning session of 20-60 minutes. There’s no need to exceed an hour, but if you can get a little longer than 20 minutes, you’ll definitely get an added benefit. You get to choose the activity: light jogging, cycling, elliptical trainer, brisk walking or hiking, or any other type of easy exercise will suffice.

For intensity, you’ll want to be in your fat-burning zone, which occurs at 45-65% of your maximum heart rate, or about 20 beats below your lactate threshold heart rate. If you’ve had anaerobic or lactic acid threshold testing done in a lab or field, simply take that heart rate, subtract 20 beats, and you’re set. If not, simply do the following:

  • Warm up on a bike for 10 minutes.
  • Pedal at your maximum sustainable pace for 20 minutes. You should be breathing hard and your legs should be burning, but you should be able to maintain the same intensity for the full 20 minutes.
  • Record your average heart rate during those 20 minutes.
  • Subtract 20 beats from that heart rate. Add and subtract 3 beats from the resulting number to get a range, and that is your peak fat burning zone.

For example, if your average heart rate was 160, 160-20 is 140, 140+3 is 143, 140-3 is 147, and so your peak fat burning zone is when you have a heart rate of 137-143 beats per minute.

Ideally, you should do these sessions in a fasted state. This means that you do not eat within 2 hours of bedtime the night before, and you do these exercises sometime before breakfast in the morning. It is fine to drink a cup of coffee or green tea 15-30 minutes before this session (as the caffeine and green tea catechins may actually help accelerate fat loss).

You’ll see better results if you can stay as active as possible the rest of the day after the fasted fat burning session. This can include standing, walking as much as possible, stretching or yoga and light physical activity. But no extra workouts.

Days 11-20: Build

For this next phase, you’ll continue with the morning fasted fat burning sessions exactly as you have done for days 1-10, but every other day, you’re going to include a second afternoon or early evening exercise session consisting of body weight exercises and calisthenics. You should do this second routine as a circuit, consisting of:

  • Push-up variations: 15-20 reps
  • 30-60 seconds calisthenics (jumping jacks, jump rope, running in place, side-to-side hops, etc.)
  • Squat variations: 15-20 reps
  • Repeat 30-60-second calisthenics effort
  • Pull-up or row variations: 15-20 reps
  • Repeat 30-60-second calisthenics effort
  • Lunge variations: 15-20 reps per leg
  • Repeat 30-60-second calisthenics effort

Complete this circuit 4-6 times through with minimal rest. A circuit like this should take you about 20-40 minutes.

Days 21-30: Ultimate Burn

In the final 10 days, you’ll begin to add higher intensity cardio intervals (HIIT). You’re going to continue with the morning fasted fat burning sessions (trust me, they work like a charm – you can make it just 10 more days!), but now you’re going to replace those afternoon or evening body weight sessions you were doing on days 11-20 with a full body, functional weight training session combined high intensity cardiovascular intervals.

For the weight training, choose four, full body weight training exercises (which will elicit a higher hormonal fat-burning response than single joint exercises such as bicep curls or leg extensions), and perform them back-to-back as a circuit, combined with 2 minutes of high intensity cardio at the end of each circuit. For example:

  • Exercise 1: Woodchopper – 10 reps per side
  • Exercise 2: Turkish Get-Up –  5 reps per side
  • Exercise 3: Single Leg Deadlift – 10 reps per side
  • Exercise 4: Cleans – 10 reps
  • Cardio: 2 minutes maximum bicycling effort

If you combine the program above with the type of nutritional protocol I describe in Mighty Mommy’s Belly Burn Project, you can expect an initial weight loss of 4-8 pounds of fat in the first 10 days, followed by 2-4 pounds of fat in each of the next two phases – along with the addition of tight, toned, lean muscle.

New Exercises To Burn Fat

You can view most of these exercises in my New Fat Burning Exercises video. Let’s jump right in!

New Fat Burning Exercise : ManMaker

The ManMaker (sorry ladies, I didn’t invent the title) is the only exercise in this episode that actually requires equipment – in this case a set of dumbbells. To do this exercise, get into a push-up position with one hand on either dumbbell, then do a push-up. Next, row with one dumbbell, then row with the other dumbbell. Stand quickly (also called a “clean”) and place both dumbbells on your shoulders, then do a front squat followed by an overhead press.

Return the dumbbells back to their starting position to complete that repetition and get ready for the next repetition. To maximize your results, choose a weight that makes it difficult for you to complete 10 repetitions of the ManMaker. Just 10 repetitions of this potent move can be used for a fast, 5 minute, full body, fat-burning workout!

New Fat Burning Exercise : Breakdance Push-up

This exercise will not only improve your core and upper body strength like a regular push-up, but also will also increase your agility and flexibility – and it doesn’t actually require you to be a professional breakdancer.

Start in a bridge position with your bellybutton facing the ceiling and your weight supported on your hands and feet. Then “flip” to one side or the other, keeping one leg off the ground, and do a push-up. Then “flip” again back to the bridge position. Here’s a great example of a breakdance push-up. Try 5 breakdance push-ups for each side.

New Fat Burning Exercise : Sox Squat

The Sox Squat is excellent for forcing your body to attain proper posture, open up shoulder and chest muscles that get notoriously tight when you’re sitting at a computer, and also work nearly every muscle in your body.

Start in a standing position with your shoulder blades squeezed back and your arms overhead and bent at a 90o angle. Then drop down into a seated, squatting position. Next stand and slowly straighten your arms as you stand. The most important thing to do during a Sox Squat is to keep your shoulder blades squeezed back and your butt back behind you. Try 10 Sox Squats, and to make them even more difficult, stand facing the wall with your toes up against the wall as you do the exercise, which will force you to keep your weight behind you.

New Fat Burning Exercise : Skater Squat

Unlike the Sox Squat, the Skater Squat introduces balance, coordination, and agility into the mix. You can see an image of the starting and ending position here.

Start by standing upright and shifting your weight onto your left foot. Then bend your right knee 900 so your right foot is behind you and off the floor. Keeping your left knee tracking over your standing foot, bend your left knee, hip and ankle while slowly lowering your right knee – and your entire body weight – toward the floor. When done correctly, you’ll look just like a speed skater in the final position. When you’ve lowered yourself as far as you can, reverse the movement and return to the starting position.

For starters, try 5 repetitions for the left leg and 5 repetitions for the right leg. You can also check out my article Get Better Legs With 13 Squat Variations for even more awesome squat exercises!

New Fat Burning Exercise : Hip Hinge

I actually do my hip hinges while I’m taking a cold shower to maximize the fat-burning effect.

Simply cross both hands across your chest, then hinge forward at the hips while looking forward and keeping your back straight. You’ll reach a point at which your hamstrings feel very tight and you can’t hinge forward anymore without bending your back. Once you reach that point, “squeeze” your butt cheeks and use your butt to pull you back into your starting standing position. This exercise is also known as the folded dollar bill or the shadow deadlift exercise. Here’s a great video that contains a ton of similar exercises that are fantastic for your lower back and your glute muscles.

The Hidden Ab Muscle That Will Get You a Six-Pack

There is a muscle called the Transverse Abdominus that acts as a stabilizer to the middle part of your body. This muscle is actually located right behind your abdominal muscles.  If you’re not familiar with this muscle, you may want to sign up for the military, because military drill sergeants are very aware of how to make the Transverse Abdominus sore.  The reason drill sergeants love exercises that involve the Transverse Abdominus is because when this muscle is strong, your back and stomach are strong.  And if you want a strong stable core that helps six-pack abs form, this muscle must be strong.

As a matter of fact, I spoke with one of my military friends, seargant Michael Volkin, and he had this to say about the Transverse Abdominis:

“I have to admit, I was doing sit ups for most of my adult life, but when I reached 30 I realized that my ab muscles were getting harder to see. No matter what I ate (or didn’t eat) and no matter how many stomach exercises I did, my abdominal muscles kept slowly disappearing. Then, I did some research on the anatomy of the stomach muscles and found the Transverse Abdominus.  Ever since then, I am happy to say my stomach muscles are more prevalent than ever before. Not only that, my posture is better.”

So why did Michael find that this rarely mentioned ab muscle makes such a big difference? It’s primarily because the Transverse Abdominus is connected to your back, your ribs, and your pelvis.  In essence, it is the ultimate stabilizing muscle for your entire mid-section.

However, there is a catch: This can be an extremely difficult muscle to strengthen, and although there are a multitude of techniques and exercises for strengthening the abs, few of them target the Transverse Abdominus.  But here are three exercises that actually do target this hidden ab muscle in a way that will get you a six-pack:

Exercise : The Focused Crunch – This exercise is far different than a traditional abdominal crunch and involves what is called an isometric hold.

  • Lay on the floor with your knees bent and your feet firmly on the floor.
  • Put your hands just below and to the sides of your belly button. Press a couple fingers from both hands into your lower abdomen.
  • Begin by drawing your lower abdomen down towards the floor, but do not move your pelvis.  Your chest should rise slightly.
  • Stop drawing in your stomach as soon as you feel your muscles begin to tighten. The muscles underneath your fingers should feel tight. If you move too far, you will stop working your Transverse Abdominus and instead begin stressing your oblique muscles.
  • Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds while breathing normally.
  • Begin with 10-12 repetitions, and be cautious not to overdo it the first time you do these – or the next day you will be very sore.

Exercise : Scissor Kicks – A drill sergeant’s favorite!

  • Lay on the floor with your knees bent and your feet firmly on the floor.
  • Place your hands under your buttocks and raise your head off the ground.  If your head is not raised, the exercise loses its effectiveness.
  • Raise one leg about 12 inches off the ground and slowly lower it back down.
  • As you lower one leg, raise the other in the same manner.
  • Start with three sets of 10-12 repetitions and increase repetitions as needed. Here are more instructions and photos for the scissor kick.

Exercise : Modified Plank Pushup – This is a tough exercise, so proceed with caution.

  • Start in the push-up position with your palms on the floor and toes on the ground.  Your back should be straight and your feet should be hip-width apart.
  • Raise one leg as high as you can and then do a push-up.  Switch legs and repeat.
  • Start with three sets of 10-12 repetitions, and increase repetitions as needed.

Best Full Body Exercises

In the episodes How To Lose Fat Quickly and How To Build Muscle, we learn that there is one distinct similarity between both fat-burning and muscle-building goals: They each require the use of full body, multiple-joint exercises that activate many muscles at the same time.

When it comes to full body exercises, some are more effective than others, so in this article, you’ll learn the 5 full body exercises that get you the most results in the shortest period of time. (Each exercise below links to a video demonstration of the movement.).

Full Body Exercise : Turkish Get-Up

I may be a fitness buff, but my history and geography skills aren’t quite up-to-par, so I’m not quite sure how of why this exercise is “Turkish.” But the “Get-Up” part is easy to understand once you’ve tried this move.

To complete a Turkish Get-Up, you lie on your side, with a dumbbell in one hand. The dumbbell should be held out at arm’s length. From this position, you simply stand, while keeping the dumbbell overhead at an arm’s length. This means you only have one arm and two legs to help you both stand and push the weight of that dumbbell up as you stand.

This exercise can be difficult to learn, but if you can do 3-4 sets of 5-10 Turkish Get-Ups per side, then you are probably in pretty good shape!

Full Body Exercise : Swing Squats

For this exercise, hold a dumbbell or a kettlebell down by your feet with one outstretched arm, then drop into a squat position with your butt pushed behind you, your back straight, and your heels firmly planted. Now, stand about halfway up as you begin to swing the dumbbell up, quickly reverse direction and drop down into a full squat position again, then powerfully stand as you swing the dumbbell overhead.

If you do this exercise as explosively as possible, which I highly recommend, you will find that your heart rate will get very high with just a few repetitions, making the swing squat both a cardiovascular and strength building exercise.

Full Body Exercise : Medicine Ball Slams

This is a great stress-relieving exercise, and also helps to build power and athleticism in the upper body, core, and legs. It is also a very easy full-body exercise to learn.

To do a medicine ball slam, you simply get a medicine ball (those big heavy balls you can often find in the corner of the gym), raise it overhead, then swing your arms down as you release the ball and slam it into the ground as hard as possible.

As you can imagine, this can be a loud exercise, so you may want to find a private area of the gym (like an empty group exercise room) and you will also need to be careful not to let the ball bounce back up and hit you in the face!

For an extra challenge, I sometimes finish a workout to complete exhaustion with 50-100 medicine ball slams.

Full Body Exercise : Burpees (also known as Squat-Thrust Jumps)

As an infamous exercise used by fitness bootcamp instructors, the burpee is one of those movements that you can love to hate. It will give you a full body workout in a matter of mere minutes, but also requires a great deal of focus and intensity.

Here’s how to do a burpee: from a standing position, squat down, put your hands on the ground, kick your legs out behind you, do a push-up (optional), then kick the legs back up into a squat position, stand and jump as you swing your arms overhead. If you’re an advanced exerciser or want to add even more “oomph” to this exercise, you can wear a weighted vest as you do your burpees.

Most burpee workouts involve doing a series of 10, 15, or 20 burpees as part of a full body weight training or body weight circuit, but you can do just 1-2 minutes of burpees in the morning as a fantastic metabolic booster to jumpstart your day!

Full Body Exercise : Deadlift-to-Overhead Press

The premise of the deadlift-to-overhead press is fairly simple: you pick a heavy object off the ground and lift it overhead. The object can be a dumbbell, barbell, kettlebell, medicine ball, sandbag, or, if you’re working out with a partner, even another person!

When you pick the object off the ground, which is called a deadlift, you’ll need to have good form: looking forward with your knees bent, butt out, and back straight.

You then stand, and as you stand or after you are in a standing position, hoist the weight overhead – using your hip and leg muscles to assist your upper body with driving the weight up.

A Full Body Exercises Workout

Want a fast and effective workout that gets you fit fast and burns lots of calories in a short period of time? Those last two exercises (the Burpees and the Deadlift-to-Overhead Press) are the key exercises for a tough but highly effective workout called The Burner.