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Showing posts with label Building Endurance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Building Endurance. Show all posts

Heavier Poundage Bows and Weightlifting for Endurance

The above two shots were done earlier today with a 1975 Browning Wasp traditional recurve bow (50 lb draw weight), at a distance of 20.5 yards. Not bad for an antique bow.

The bottle itself is easy enough to hit with a light poundage bow, especially if you are accustomed like I am at shooting at relatively small moving targets.

However getting that level of accuracy (the cluster is the size of a dime) with a higher poundage bow is a true challenge because it becomes a matter of physical strength to be able to pull - let alone hold steady - a 50 lb bow.

That means that the Herculean effort of pulling 50 lbs and then holding it steady is a matter of both STRENGTH and ENDURANCE.

Hence the title of this post, Heavier Poundage Bows and Weightlifting for Endurance.

Now I have talked previously about the issues of weightlifting for the purposes of doing archery. If you want to read more on this topic I recommend reading the following posts:

10 Weightlifting Tips for Archers, Part One

10 Weightlifting Tips for Archers, Part Two

Archery as an Alternative to Weightlifting

And while those posts do talk about the benefits of weightlifting for the purposes of doing archery, it does not really talk about the issues of higher poundage bows - like those in the 50 to 80 lb range, and how to train your body to be able to pull the heavier poundages, and then hold it steady.

Thus here we go...

10 Tips for Building Strength and Endurance for Heavier Poundage Archery

Tip #1. Get a variety of different kinds of dumbbells.

Don't bother with barbells, dumbbells is what you really need for this. You need the dumbbells so you can focus on the individual muscles, both left and right, without having one side of your body compensating for the other.

You also need a variety of different sizes so you can focus on building different muscle groups, which will often require different weights in order to challenge you properly. If they are too heavy you will be less likely to execute the exercises using proper form, if they are too light they won't be challenging you properly. Thus you need a range of different weights so you can both challenge yourself and focus on your weightlifting form.

Tip #2. Like archery, weightlifting is all about form.

It might not look like it, but professional weightlifters are focusing their attention on making sure they are performing the exercise properly so they can maximize their muscle growth. If they use improper form to lift/move the weight then it is the wrong muscle(s) doing the work, which means that won't be getting the full benefit.

Take the simple dumbbell bicep curl. Done correctly the elbow is kept relatively close to the body. A common beginner mistake is for people to curve their elbows outwards to make it easier, which means they are using different muscles to help lift the weight. Done correctly, it is only the biceps doing the work.

Right: Sample image of a bicep curl. Note how the elbows are kept close to the oblique muscles on the sides and aren't sticking out to the sides.

Note - Good form also includes GOOD BALANCE. Keep both feet on the floor and stay balanced!

Tip #3. While lifting, focus on doing it SLOWLY.

A common beginners mistake when weightlifting is to do 10 reps very quickly, like it is some kind of race and you just want to get it over. However that doesn't actually help when you are trying to build endurance (or strength for that matter). Instead your goal should be to lift the weight slooooowly, hold it there, and then go back down slooooowly. This way you are building endurance more.

Doing weightlifting slowly also gives you more time to focus on the quality of your form. Like archery, shooting too quickly will effect your form. Your goal here is the same, to lift it slowly, focus on your form, and perform the exercise properly. You don't get the reward like hitting the bullseye like you do in archery, but you will see the rewards as your endurance and strength goes up after only a week or two weeks of doing the exercises.

Tip #4. Expand your focus so it covers multiple muscle groups.

"Don't put all your eggs in one basket."

Don't just exercise your back muscles. While it is true that your back muscles are important for doing archery, they are not the only muscles that archers use.

Archers use their upper back, their shoulders, their triceps, their biceps, forearms, finger muscles, their lower back, their abdominal muscles, and even their pectoral (chest) muscles. Some are definitely used more than other muscles, but that should not discourage you from exercise them. The muscles of your lower body (legs / etc) are also used for balance and standing still. Thus there is a good argument that archers should embrace a full body workout for improving their overall strength and balance.

Focusing on only one muscle or one muscle group (the upper back for example) may be helpful with one task, but creating too much emphasis on the back muscles will cause other muscles to become overly dependent on that one muscle group and the quality of your accuracy as an archer could actually go down as your shoulders and other muscles cannot hold steady when placed under the strain.

Note - It also helps to learn the anatomical terms for the different muscles. That way when you look for exercises that help your shoulders, you know that you are looking for deltoid exercises.

Thus you need to deliberately pick and choose exercises which will boost the following muscle groups:

Rhomboids (Upper Back)
Front, Back and Upper Deltoids (Shoulders)
Pectorals (Chest)
Triceps (Back of the Upper Arm)
Biceps (Front of the Upper Arm)
Forearms + Finger / Hand Grip Strength (this will mean using Hand Grips and learning how to use them properly)
Abdominals (Belly)
Obliques (Sides)

Doing all the above means you will be doing a wide variety of exercises and you should try to spread your attention across all of them equally so that the muscles are building in an uniform manner. A common mistake people do is to focus on a single muscle, which will grow up to a limitation - in order to get it to grow further, you need to spread your focus across the whole muscle group so that they all grow as they work more effectively as an unit. To do this properly however means you need to be doing individual exercises which target the individual muscles, and then to do many different exercises so each muscle or muscle group gets its fair share of exercise.

eg. Chest Flyes are really good for the pectoral muscles, as demonstrated here by Arnold:

Tip #5. Pay Attention and Avoid Sports Injuries.

Practicing proper form while exercising isn't just a matter of maximizing your strength gain, it is a matter of avoiding sports injuries. When learning a new exercise, do it slowly, do it properly, and save yourself the trouble of developing a sports injury.

A common thing amongst archers is to improperly draw their bow and then adjust their bow shoulder and drawing elbow after they have drawn back. Ideally they should be pre-aiming, then draw back in one smooth motion. Constantly adjusting the bow shoulder and drawing elbow is bad for those muscles and can lead to sports injuries. In the case of the elbow it can lead to "Archer's Elbow, aka Tennis Elbow".

With weightlifting it is the same problem. Improper lifting and bad form leads to sports injuries. So pay attention and do it properly! Don't say I didn't warn you!

Tip #6. Do More Reps to Build More Endurance.

Remember how I mentioned above to do the exercises slowly? Well here is your next challenge. Do more repetitions - still slowly - and do more of them.

Week One start aiming to do 20 reps of each exercise.

Week Two up it a little by increasing it to 25 reps of each exercise.

Week Three increase it to 30 reps of each exercise.

Week Four increase it to 34 reps of each exercise.

Week Five increase it to 37 reps of each exercise.

Week Six increase it to 40 reps of each exercise.

Now did you notice what I did? At the beginning it started off with an increase of 5 reps per week, but after it hit 30 I reduced the increase to 4, and then 3, and then 3 again. Why did I do that? Because the constant equal amount increase in repetitions becomes unsustainable. Once you real a certain point when the number of reps seems like too much, decrease the incremental amount to a more sustainable level and gradually proceed from there.

Weeks Seven to Eleven increase the reps by 2 reps per week. Doing that allows for a nice slow incremental increase in endurance, allowing your body more time to play catch up with building new muscle.

Remember also that your goal is still to be doing the exercises slowly, you should not be racing to complete them. Also note that the above schedule is just a sample. It will not necessarily fit everyone's exercise routine, and they will want to customize their increase in repetitions to fit their own needs.

Tip #7. Eat Healthy to Build More Muscle.

Any true athlete also makes a solid effort to eat a healthy amount of vegetables and protein. Avoid the sweets. You will still need carbs for energy, but focus on eating healthy and you will see faster returns on muscle growth.

Also allow yourself a cheat day (aka, a High Carb Day) once in awhile that will boost your metabolism. A higher metabolism speeds up muscle growth and boosts energy levels. Having a High Carb Day once per week will keep your metabolism from crashing. The boosted energy levels once per week will keep your metabolism higher, while you are still building muscle and keeping your diet healthy and balanced.

Tip #8. Don't Weightlift Every Day when you are first starting out.

A common beginners mistake is to be weightlifting every day in an effort to build muscle faster. However the problem here is that you end up ripping muscle tissue (hence the term "ripped") and it takes 48 hours (sometimes more) to heals properly and build new muscle tissue.

Thus if you rip the muscle tissue, it repairs a bit and builds new tissue while you sleep, and then you rip it again 24 hours later when it is not fully healed and new tissue is not properly grown, what happens??? The answer is that any new muscle tissue rips again, and you've just wasted any growth you could have potentially had.

Instead here is what you should be doing. Weightlift every two days. eg. Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Give yourself 48 to 72 hours between weightlifting sessions so the muscles can heal and grow properly. A Monday, Wednesday Friday schedule for example allows you to be building muscle over 48 hour periods twice per week, and an extra long 72 hour period over the weekend.

Tip #9. Sleep!!!

Getting a good night's rest is extremely important for weightlifting and building muscle. Your body only builds new muscle tissue while it is at rest, and the most effective form of rest is sleep. If you are not sleeping properly, then you are not healing properly.

Tip #10. Motivate Yourself to Weightlift Regularly.

This is arguably the most important part of weightlifting regularly. If you only do it for two weeks and then stop doing it, then any gains you made will slowly disappear. Becoming an Avid Weightlifter is about making a lifestyle change so that weightlifting becomes part of your weekly schedule, so that eating healthy and getting a good night's sleep is also part of your routine.

Building strength and endurance will boost your archery accuracy with the higher poundage bows, and you will see benefits with your health, your emotional independence / confidence, and even perks for your sex life. (For both men and women.)

How you choose to motivate yourself to make archery part of your weekly schedule is really up to you. You could:
  • Hire a personal trainer who understands the value of weightlifting.
  • Hire an archery instructor who also teaches weightlifting techniques.
  • Listen to music while weightlifting.
  • Watch your favourite TV show while weightlifting. (My preference is Game of Thrones.)
  • Reward yourself emotionally after weightlifting. (Never reward yourself with unhealthy foods.)
  • Practice weightlifting with a friend or family member so you keep each other motivated.
Still need more ideas for how to Motivate Yourself? Good thing I have long list of posts on the topic for you to browse.


During the off season for archery (Winter) try to make an effort to do weightlifting to keep your body in good shape so that you are in excellent shape when Spring comes, and then once Spring does come make the effort to keep weightlifting so you can continue to improve your physical capabilities.

You don't need to do your weightlifting outdoors during the Winter like the fellow below, but hey, to each their own.

Do you have to be super fit to get the benefits of cycling?

Spring is almost here and it is time to get the old bicycle out!

Over 13.5 million Canadians commuted to work in 2011*. Many of them drove cars to work.

* Statistics marked with an Asterisk are from Statistics Canada.

According to Statistics Canada, they took various forms of transportation including cars, public transit, ferries and bicycles. Public transit users are made up of about 12% of the population which jumped up 1% from the 2006 census when it was 11% of the Canadian population.

Cycling accounts for just over 200,000 commuters in Canada. Victoria, B.C. has the most cyclists of all the major cities in Canada. Clearly Canadians are increasingly warming up to the idea of cycling as an alternative to driving to work. And why shouldn't they, there is documented evidence that cycling can improve your physical health, your mental health as well as helping the environment and providing a relatively cheap and easy way to get to work.

Given all the benefits it makes you wonder if out-of-shape people would be more likely to cycle to work if they were physically fit?

After all, it stands to reason people who are out-of-shape and not proud of their bodies might be loathe to bicycle to work if they feel they are not physically up to the challenge. It thus becomes a bit of a Catch-22 that if a person is overweight, how can they lose weight via bicycling if they feel defeated before they have even started.

First, let's see what cycling in Toronto looks like on a statistical level. There has been a small increase in cycling in Toronto over a 10 year period (1999 to 2009) of about 6% of Torontonians who commute to work via bicycle. Particularly from 2001 to 2006, the number of Torontonians cycling to work increased by 30%. The biggest increase was in female riders and the demographic that increased the most was female riders aged 45 - 54 and male riders aged 55 - 64. This demographic might be due to a higher number of middle-aged / older Torontonians getting into cycling for its health benefits - possibly with other unknown factors contributing to the rise.

Though cycling is on the rise in Toronto, the city still lags behind all major cities in Canada. 1.2% of commuters in Toronto cycled to work in 2011*. When compared to Victoria's 5.6% of commuters who bicycle to work, Toronto's 1.2% seems tiny in comparison. Clearly Toronto has lots of work to do if Toronto is to become a more bicycle friendly city.

Granted Victoria only has a population of 78,000 people (2006 census) while Toronto has 2.5 million. So Toronto has 30,000 cyclists who commute to work to Victoria's approx. 4,368 cyclists who commute to work.

Next, let's find out what kinds of health benefits we can experience with cycling.

Cycling can improve your general health and fitness, everyone know that, but lets take a moment to bust a myth about pollution inhalation. Cycling to work reduces the amount of pollution you intake on your commute. Contrary to popular belief, cyclists inhale less pollution than motorists do. You would think it would be the opposite, but according to 'An Overview of Cycling Research', a document compiled by Dr. Chris Cavacuiti which examines a plethora of studies on the topic, cyclists inhale less pollution than motorists do. So even though motorists are in the "safety" of the cars, they still inhale more fine and ultrafine particulate matter than cyclists do - possible because motorists are often stuck in traffic for longer periods of time, and they may also be inhaling fumes from their own vehicle. The exact cause of why motorists inhale more pollution has not been determined as of yet, but what is known is that they are definitely inhaling more of it.

On the exercise level studies have shown that active transportation - exercise that is part of the daily routine of getting to work as opposed to exercise that is structured activity (i.e. going to the gym) is more sustainable over time. This means people get into the routine of bicycling to work and this routine becomes customary, whereas people who visit the gym sometimes lose focus and stop going to the gym.

Many gym-goers also use stationary bicycles while at the gym, but the health benefits of cycling inside an air conditioned gym vs cycling in the great outdoors isn't so much a matter of which is better from a health perspective, but which is better for people to stay motivated to keep doing it. Cyclists who cycle outdoors report that they love cycling and would never willingly give it up. Gym goers on stationary bicycles are more ambivalent on the topic and report becoming "bored easily".

Mental health can be improved by cycling as well. A meta-analysis discovered that exercise can be used as a treatment for depression. Exercise can also contribute to reducing the risk of sleep disorders and eating disorders. There are other benefits to cycling including increased sense of community, decreased congestion, and reducing the effects of Alzheimer's and dementia.

Cycling is also a great way to build endurance - which has a variety of side benefits for many other activities (including activities in bed).

There are many benefits to cycling but unfortunately there are also risks. The risks include death and injuries and such incidents are reported in the news media. However fatality rates for cyclists are much lower in Canada than pedestrians and drivers/passengers. So you are more likely to get hit by a car and killed while walking across the street than you are to be killed while cycling.

Over a 20 year period between 1988 and 2008 fatality rates have decreased in general for cyclists. Overall, when taking a risk benefit analysis on cycling, most people find that the benefits greatly outweigh the risks by 20 to 1.

So do you need to have a body like Arnold Schwarzenegger circa 1985 to start cycling or bicycle to work? Obviously not. You certainly do not need to be Arnold to start to get the benefits of cycling. The best thing to do is to just start - and if it is possible to bicycle to work where you live, why not do so? Of course it may be hard at first, your lungs will burn and so will your thighs, but keep at it and it will get easier over time.

Before long you will be reaping the health benefits of cycling and you will be wishing you had started cycling to work sooner.

Zen Relaxation between Exercises

If you are not already familiar with Interval Training it is the concept of alternating exercises in a routine so you are alternating between high intensity exercises and low intensity exercises. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) for example is one brand of Interval Training.

One way of doing this would be:

Jogging for 5 minutes, walking for 2 minutes, Sprinting for 1 minute;
Jogging for 5 minutes, walking for 2 minutes, Sprinting for 1 minute;
Jogging for 5 minutes, walking for 2 minutes, Sprinting for 1 minute;

Do that for 40 minutes and then walk home and you've had a pretty productive workout.

The benefits of such a program means you are building endurance and speed, but you're not overtaxing your heart rate - it also means you can change it up regularly. Interval Training is very flexible in that you can change it and adapt it to whatever you want to do. The only really challenge is measuring the time you use for each exercise - I use music for my changes myself, each song is a different exercise, but there are also smart phone apps with buzzers that you can use that tell you when to switch to a different exercise.

For weightlifters for example they might alternate between heavier weights on barbells, and then switch to light weight dumbells, and then jog or skip rope for 10 minutes before hitting the heavy weights again. On any particular day they might vary how much time they dedicate to each exercise, or they might do the exact same exercise every day just because they love having the same routine and not having to think about it.

Using Zen relaxation techniques in-between different exercises, this is another way you could change the way you exercise.

Say for example a person wanted to create their own approach to Zen Archery training. They might do the following for two hours:

1. Shoot for 10 minutes.
2. Meditate for 10 minutes.
3. Shoot for 10 minutes.
4. Read zen poetry for 10 minutes.
5. Shoot for 10 minutes.
6. Breathing exercises (focus on deep belly breathing, do not use your chest) for 10 minutes.
7. Shoot for 10 minutes.
8. Light yoga for 10 minutes.
9. Shoot for 10 minutes.
10. PMR (progressive muscular relaxation) for 10 minutes.
11. Shoot for 10 minutes.
12. Meditate for 10 minutes.

And then pack up your archery gear and head home feeling relaxed, refreshed and the feeling of having accomplished something today.

I am just using archery as an example here, but the concept could be applied to any sport or activity. By mixing in meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, PMR and even zen poetry you can turn your exercise routine into a more relaxing and thoughtful process - making it the best part of your day.

Fast Vs Slow Twitch Muscle Fibers

Fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers are used for different things.

A martial artist who wants to be superfast, a sprinter who wants to be able to run 100 meters in under 10 seconds, or even a professional boxer would want to utilize their fast twitch muscle fibres.

Likewise people doing a sustained activity that needs endurance - like a gymnast who needs to be able to hold a pose while suspended upside down, or an archer holding their bow steady without moving while they adjust their aim, or a weight lifter who needs to be able to lift a specified weight and then hold it for so many seconds in order for it to count as a new world record.

A little background info:

Muscle is made up of bundles of individual muscle fibers called myocytes. Each myocyte contains many myofibrils, which are strands of proteins (actin and myosin) that can grab on to each other and pull. This shortens the muscle and causes muscle contraction - and it is the contraction of muscle fibres that allow us to do any number of physical activities.

A normal person has roughly 50% of each type of muscle fiber, but athletes of various kinds can train their bodies to have a radically different percentage of each muscle fiber (eg. Bruce Lee, martial artist and movie star, had a significantly higher ratio of fast twitch muscle fibers).

Muscle fiber types can be broken down into two main types:

Type I, Slow twitch muscle fibers.

The slow muscle fibers are more efficient at using oxygen to generate more fuel (known as ATP) for continuous, extended muscle contractions over a long time. They fire more slowly than fast twitch fibers and can go for a long time before they fatigue. Therefore, slow twitch fibers are great at helping athletes run marathons or bicycle for hours - and even more for activities that require just holding the same position, like gymnasts.

Type II, Fast twitch muscle fibers, which itself can be further categorized into Type IIa and Type IIb fibers.

Fast twitch fibers are much better at generating short bursts of strength or speed than slow muscles. However, they fatigue more quickly and use energy at a faster rate. Fast twitch fibers generally produce the same amount of force per contraction as slow muscle fibers, but they get their name because they are able to fire more rapidly. Having more fast twitch fibers can be an asset to anyone who primarily wants speed and isn`t worried about endurance.

Type IIa Fibers

Type IIa fast twitch muscle fibers are also known as intermediate fast-twitch fibers. They can use both aerobic and anaerobic metabolism almost equally to create energy. In this way, they are a combination of Type I and Type II muscle fibers. They are still faster than slow twitch, but not as fast as Type IIb.

Type IIb Fibers

Type IIb fast twitch fibers only use anaerobic metabolism to create energy and are the "classic fast twitch muscle fibers" that excel at producing quick, powerful bursts of speed. These muscle fibers have the highest rate of contraction (rapid firing) of all the muscle fiber types, but it also has a much faster rate of fatigue and can't last as long before it needs rest.

Fiber Type and Speed Vs Endurance Performance

We all have different amounts of fast vs slow twitch muscle fibers, and these in turn effect our athletic ability in different activities. Some of us might make really good gymnasts, but would be horribly slow when sprinting (and vice versa). Athletes typically get into sports that match their muscle makeup, but it is not genetics that is the biggest deciding factor, it is the types of previous exercises that determine which kind of muscles a person grows.

For example a person could be born to family of several generations of gymnasts, but if they practiced sprinting instead for many years the type of muscle fibers they build would be different. Your body adjusts the ratio over the longer term based on what types of muscle fibers you are using most.

How much is the ratio you might ask? Well, studies have shown that Olympic sprinters typically have approx. 80% fast twitch fibers - while people who do sports that require lots of endurance have about 80% slow twitch fibers. So the ratio of muscle fibers can vary quite wildly by up to 30% plus or minus.

Our bodies still need a ratio in order to perform every day activities. So even though 100% fast twitch would be great for sprinting, by the time the race is over the person would probably be too exhausted to even walk for a period of time. We still need both types of muscle fibers just to perform our daily routine.

Studies also have shown that different types of muscle fibers can also simply change into other types over the course of training. In theory (no evidence of this yet) Type IIa fibers might be an intermediary stage of muscle fibers that are transforming from one type into the other. Not a lot of research has been done into whether muscle fibers morph back and forth over the longer term.

What is known however is that people who train for endurance or speed gain what they are looking for over the longer term. It really is simply a matter of regular training, good diet, and taking good care of themselves to prevent injuries (because an injury can result in a loss of muscle tone if they cannot exercise during a long period of time).

There are many factors that make a great athlete (mental preparedness, proper nutrition and hydration, getting enough rest, and having appropriate equipment and conditioning). Different types of muscle fibers is just one factor. Some sports require a combination of both fast and slow twitch fibers, so having more of one is not necessarily beneficial.

eg. A football player would want both speed and endurance. Speed for when they need to be running in a hurry, but also endurance because they will be playing for longer periods of time - so they need muscle fibers that can do both.

How to do 400 Pushups - The 400 Pushups Challenge

Anyone who can do 400 pushups will obviously have really nice pecs - simply due to the combination of strength and endurance that is required to do that many pushups.

But the good news is that you don't need to have a body like Bruce Wayne (aka Batman) to be able to do large numbers of pushups. (Although doing large numbers of pushups will certainly help you to become more like Batman...)

So how do you become a pushups machine? Start by taking Cardio Trek's 400 Pushups Challenge.

The 400 Pushups Challenge - Step One

What you need to do is first be able to do a pushup. If you cannot - due to being overweight or lack of physical strength - then you will need to do lots of cardio (to lose weight) and after you've lost a healthy amount of fat start weightlifting and focusing on upper body strength building. Once you reach the point where you can do at least 10 pushups then you are ready to begin training.

Your pushups don't need to be fancy. They could even be an easier version of standard pushups - like the bench pushups demonstrated below.

The 400 Pushups Challenge - Step Two

Next determine how many pushups you can actually do before collapsing in a heat of sweat and craving release. If you can do 15 then your start point for the next stage will be 10. If you can do 30 then your start point will be 20. Basically whatever amount it is you can do, multiple it by 66% and that is your starting goal.

The 400 Pushups Challenge - Step Three

Do 66% of your maximum pushups. Then take a 2 to 3 minute break and do 66% again. Keep doing this until you have done 400 pushups.

So for example lets say you determined you could do 30 pushups at once before collapsing, thus you do 20 pushups during each set - and you do 20 sets of 20, for a total of 400 pushups. That is your goal.

Note - It will take you a significant amount of time to total 400 pushups. Think hours due to all of the breaks you are doing. So for example if you watch TV a lot in the evening you can do your pushups during the commercial breaks. Every commercial break until you get all 400 done. If you have difficulty finding time to do that many pushups then set yourself a lower goal like 200 or 100 pushups.

The 400 Pushups Challenge - Step Four

The next day you do one extra pushup. Thus in our example you do 21 pushups, for 19 sets. A total of 399 pushups.

Every day after that you add 1 extra push up. Some days you might do slightly more or less than 400.

20 x 20 (400)
21 x 19 (399)
22 x 18 (396)
23 x 17 (391)
24 x 17 (408)
25 x 16 (400)
26 x 15 (390)
27 x 15 (405)
28 x 14 (392)
29 x 14 (406)
30 x 13 (390)
31 x 13 (403)

The 400 Pushups Challenge - Step Five

When you start getting to the bigger numbers (like 40 or more) you can starting adding a half set or a portion of a set just so you keep the total number of pushups to roughly 400.

Assuming a starting point of 20 it should only take you 380 days of training to eventually do 400 pushups. Doing 400 pushups all at once will be exhausting work. It takes about 40 minutes to actually do it because closer to the end you will be pausing for breath between pushups.

The good news is that in a period of roughly 1 year you will go from having tiny pecs and being able to do 30 pushups to being able to do hundreds.

You will also find that your arms, legs, back muscles are also stronger and have greater endurance.

If you take up The 400 Pushups Challenge please let us know by leaving a comment below. Happy exercising!

The Lowly Chin Up Bar

If you have a chin up bar, or a place in your home where you can place a chin up bar, you should absolutely be using it.

The chin up bar is a great body-weight device for weightlifting. The concept is simple - lift your own bodyweight using your biceps.

This is something some people have simply never done. They don't have adequate strength in their biceps to physically lift their body - and their body is sometimes in ample proportions. Which is basically a polite way of saying a person is too fat to do a chin up.

But that doesn't mean a person will NEVER be able to do a chin up. With some weightlifting exercises over a period of two months a person who is overweight (but not obese) should be able to do a chin up after the two month period.

To achieve this they would need to do the following...

1. Bicep Curls with 20 lb Dumbbells - 12 sets of 8 reps, every 2 days for 60 days.

Rationale: Doing bicep curls will build up your biceps, the primary muscle used during chin ups. Doing 12 sets of 8 reps means your focus is on muscle gain, not on endurance. You can build endurance later...

2. Pushups (or Knee Pushups) - 12 sets of 8 reps, every 2 days for 60 days.

Rationale: Doing pushups will build your triceps and deltoids. The deltoids (shoulder muscles) are a secondary muscle used during chin ups. Even though they are secondary you will still need those muscles during a chin up.

3. Jumping Jacks - 10 sets of 100 jumping jacks, every day for 60 days.

Rationale: Lowering your body weight via cardio exercises will increase your chances of doing a chin up by reducing the amount of fat in your body. Jumping Jacks and Jogging are both good for this.

4. Jogging (or Jogging on the Spot) - 15 minutes, every day for 60 days.

In the morning of every day you should attempt to do a pushup. After 60 days of doing the above workout they should have lost some fat weight and gained some muscle weight - enough muscle that they can lift their body during a chin up.

You will also need to be eating a balanced diet. That means no binge eating on unhealthy foods, eat smaller portions, learn to snack healthily, cutting out sugary drinks and all those things you know are bad for you.

If you are more overweight (ie. obese) you will need to do a lot more jogging, jumping jacks, and other cardio activities to reach the point where you can do a chin up. So this process may take longer than you were hoping if you are severely overweight.



Now keep doing them! Now is the time to start building endurance and strength at the same time. Work your way up so you can do a set of 5 chin ups at a time.

Once you reach that point you can basically swap out the #1 exercise above (Bicep Curls with 20 lb Dumbbells) and replace it with the following:

1. Chin Ups - 20 sets of 5 chin ups, every day. Or 12 sets of 8 chin ups.  Or 10 sets of 10 chin ups. Or 8 sets of 12. Or 7 sets of 15. Or 5 sets of 20.

Rationale: Now that you can do chin ups you can keep doing them, and if you increase the number of chin ups you do per set then you will be building both your strength and your endurance simultaneously. So pick whichever set combination from above that you want to do and keep doing them. Upgrade to the next set combination when you feel you are ready for a challenge.

Note! Keep doing the pushups, the jumping jacks and the jogging.

Add other exercises to your routine. Yoga for example is great for core muscle strength. But you might also try swimming, ice skating, archery, marathon running, competitive sports...

Basically if you make doing that First Chin Up your exercise goal, and then once you achieve that chin up goal you need to start setting new exercise goals so you can keep progressing. Making recognizable progress will help you keep motivated and keep exercising.


Tips for Marathon Runners

Running a long distance race like the Toronto Waterfront Marathon or the Ironman Competition takes months of hard training, proper diet and preparation. All competitive sports require that extra level of commitment. Here are 5 handy tips to get ready for a race with only a month to go:

#1. Buy New Shoes

Don't run your race in brand new shoes, or the old trainers you have been practicing in for months! One month is an ideal amount of time to find a new pair, and practice, to break them in. It will allow the time for the new shoes to feel comfortable, but remain relatively new for the race. (Wearing brand new shoes will feel uncomfortable.)

#2. Check Your Distance

You should be able to run at least 3/4 of your race distance with ease. It's not necessary to practice the full distance, but doing a practice run is a confidence boost. You will feel less nervous if you know you can complete the full distance having done 75% of it with barely trying.

#3. Merge Your Training Runs

Running intervals, for time, endurance, and speed are all necessary, separate, training techniques. However, now it's time to combine them. Start training with one run per week during which you "run your best." Have a session running fast and long, with little recovery time, if you require walking breaks, will be great practice for building your endurance.

#4. Plan for Race Day

Start planning for the morning of the race. Think about what you will eat for breakfast, and what snacks or gels to bring for the run. Decide what to wear and run a few times in the outfit to make sure it's comfortable, and nothing bothers you about it. Plan for rides or parking, and be sure to consider all of the practical matters like urinating before the race, what you will eat the night before, optional things you might wear depending on weather conditions, etc.

#5. Ask Friends and Family to Come Out

You'll need a cheer squad. Ask friends and family well in advance to come out and cheer you on. Plan for a celebratory big breakfast / dinner, for when you triumphantly cross the finish line and everyone can celebrate.

Being prepared for race day will ease nerves, and save time on the big day. This will leave more free time for training, and will have you relaxed at the starting line, and pumped for the race.

Three Great Compound Exercises

A compound exercise is a multi-joint movement which utilizes multiple muscles at the same time so you get all the physical benefits of weightlifting / cardio for those muscles.

Unlike a bicep curl, which is an isolating exercise, and only works one muscle at a time, a compound exercise works two or more muscle groups. The classic example of a compound exercise is a bench press which utilizes triceps, deltoids and pectorals.

However, not all compound exercises are geared towards weightlifting. There are compound exercises that seriously raise your heart rate, burn fat, and still strengthen and tone the body. Example: Bicycling uses multiple leg muscles, raises your heart rate dramatically, while building muscles in your legs and burns calories like crazy.

Another example is boxing, which although it is a sport, it utilizes muscle groups in the whole body and makes for a great cardio exercise - and requires great balance and agility.

As such compound exercises are great for people who want more time efficient workouts and want a workout that is more geared towards weight loss, while simultaneously building muscle. Being able to work more than one muscle at a time cuts down on the overall time requirement for your fitness regimen. Such exercises also tend to work the core from having to balance, change levels, and twist / turn.

Here are three great compound exercises for you to try at home!

1. For your lower body, back, and core try Side Lunges + Rowing

In a wide stance holding a dumbbell in each hand, turn the toes out, with your body facing forward. Lunge over to one side, keeping the knee over the ankle and behind the toe. As you lunge row the weight back like a one arm row with your opposite arm. Then place that weight on the floor. Repeat on the other side so that both weights are now on the floor. When you lunge back to the first side pick the weight up and row. Go to the other side and do the same. Alternate between pick up, drop off and rows. This one will really make you sweat!

2. For your lower body, biceps, shoulders, core try Squats, Curls and Raises

With one heavy weight held with both hands go into a squat. Remember to keep all of the weight on your heels, and push your bum far back. On the way back up to starting position curl the weight like a bicep curl and as you stand, raise it over your head. Get the weight back down hanging in front of your body before starting the next squat, curl and raise rep.

3. For your lower body, chest, triceps, shoulders, core try Lunges + Push Ups

Stand in a wide stance. Point one toe away from your body and go down into a lunge, placing your hands onto the floor. Sweep your forward leg back into a plank position and do a push up. Bring the same working leg back in between your hands and lunge back up to staring position. Change sides.


The above three exercises also go well with cardio intervals (like jumping jacks or skip rope), alternated between isolating exercises, or on their own. If you grow bored with them try making up your own compound exercises that focuses on the muscle groups you want to work with the most.

8 Autumn Activities and Sports to keep you fit!

It is October and it is officially Autumn now (because lets face it, the first 20 days of September are technically Summer). Many exercise enthusiasts see the change of seasons as the end to their favourite outdoor activities and an end to their fitness regimen. However before you pack it in and start hibernating during the winter try out these outdoor activities for the cooler Autumn weather.

8 Fun Fall Activities

#1. Cycling

Great cardio and it is good for building endurance. Burns calories like crazy! And it is pretty frugal as you pick up a cheap bicycle easily on kijiji or craigslist.

#2. Sports

Pick one! Football, basketball, baseball and soccer are fantastic fall sports. If those aren't you for you then try archery, tennis, golf, frisbee sports like frolf / frisbee football, etc. And lest we forget we live in Canada and that we all need to play ROAD HOCKEY!

#3. Outdoor Training and Bootcamp

Fall is the perfect season for moving your personal training outdoors. Hire a personal trainer in Toronto (cough cough me) and get lots more exercise while getting fresh air. Or join a morning bootcamp and get your workout finished before you start the day. As a personal trainer / sports trainer I offer a variety of outdoor activities / coaching options / personal training in Toronto. Check out my rates and services.

#4. Running and Jogging

Great for cardio and building endurance!

Okay so maybe running is not your idea of a fun activity. Maybe you haven't heard of "runner's high"? If you run far enough your body starts getting pumped full of hormones to drown out the pain. This is why marathon runners have a tendency to look like heroin addicts - they are literally addicted to runner's high. Now I am not suggesting that you should become an addict like Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (although frankly if he was high on marathons instead of crack the citizens of Toronto would feel safer). But I do believe in the benefits of running and that it is a more fun activity than many people give credit to.

#5. Walking and Hiking

Visiting a ravine, conservation park or even walking in your neighbourhood is great for fitness. Take the dog with you! Take your camera!

#6. Rollerblading

I know most people think of this being a summer activity, but it is still fun to do in the Spring and Autumn too. It is great for cardio and balance as it really works your core muscles.

#7. Parkour and Freerunning

This is a good idea if you are already young and fit. If you are not, maybe this is not a good idea.

#8. Mountain Climbing!

Seriously. It is like adrenaline high weightlifting for the outdoor adventurer! Burns a lot of calories too!

Although I definitely recommend using safety equipment. Freehand climbing is not for the faint of heart.

Calories Burned based on Weight
130 lb
155 lb
180 lb
205 lb
Mountain Climbing

How Long does it take for Muscles to Grow?

How Long does it take for Muscles to Grow?

Honestly, quite quickly. Within 48 hours after exercising there is muscle growth from a variety of activities - not just weightlifting.

Knowing this is useful for building muscle, but also for boosting endurance too.
When you regularly perform resistance exercises such as body weight exercises, yoga, calisthenics or weightlifting, you gradually increase the amount of muscle tissue on your body and produce visible changes in your muscle size. These changes come from the breakdown / ripping of muscle fibers and the formation of new muscle fibers in-between the damaged tissue. How quickly you see results varies depends on how much your ripped, your metabolism, your diet / protein / nutrient intake, age, testosterone levels and other factors.

Generally speaking the changes take place within 48 hours after exercising - which is a relatively short period of time.

Rest periods in-between exercise periods are very important. Most of the muscles growth happens within the first 24 hours after exercising - and most of that growth happens while you are sleeping and your body is rejuvenating.

Understanding Muscle Growth Basics

When you lift weights or perform other types of resistance exercise, you trigger the formation of new muscle tissue by temporarily damaging your existing muscles. This process begins when resistance exercise causes minute injuries in your muscle fibers. It is therefore important to not over exercise and injure yourself. Too much weightlifting can cause more harm than good, because if you rip too many muscles at once it will take a lot longer for those muscles to heal properly - even with proper diet, a high metabolism, etc.

To heal these injuries, your body activates nearby cells called satellite cells. Once activated, some of your satellite cells bind to the damaged portions of your existing muscle tissue. Other satellite cells bind to one another and form new strands of muscle fiber.

How Fast Does It Grow

Resistance exercises trigger muscle-building changes in your muscle tissue within two to four hours after your exercise session, and the process typically lasts for as long as 24 to 48 hours. It often lasts as long as two sleep cycles. However, each resistance training session triggers new minor muscle increases, and you must keep working on two or three non-consecutive days a week to produce noticeable results. If you exercise the same muscles every day you may simply rip the already damaged tissue, thus setting you back 24 hours in terms of your body's "internal repair schedule".

Depending on your metabolism and workout routine, it can take anywhere from several weeks to several months for you to see significant changes in the size of your affected muscles. Especially if you trying to target one part of your body - such as the biceps - and you are overdoing that muscle group when you would be better off with an all over approach. Overdoing one muscle group will only slow down repair time, whereas an all over approach will build multiple muscle groups simultaneously. So if you are looking to build muscles faster start by using a variety of exercises.

Repetitions and Weight Amounts

Most people get sufficient muscle growth when they perform a single set that contains 8 to 12 repetitions of a given resistance exercise. It isn't really necessary to do 20, 30, 50, or 100 reps unless you are also training for endurance.

To gain the benefits of a lower number of repetitions (10), you must use enough weight or resisting force to cause temporary muscle fatigue. You lift the heaviest weight you can 10 times and when you can perform more than 15 repetitions at a given weight, you will typically want to slightly increase the weight you use to keep fatiguing your muscles and triggering the process that leads to new muscle growth. The idea is so that every time you lift weights you are challenging yourself - and ripping new muscle tissue.

To gain the benefits of a higher number of repetitions (20 or more), you want to use a lower amount of weight that you can more comfortably lift that many times. This lower number, but increased number will send different signals to the muscles being ripped, and the existing muscles, to build muscles which are higher quality and in the future will be able to withstand more ripping / pain. (Note: Women often do very well in this category as estrogen boosts muscle quality, whereas the opposite is more difficult because women are less likely to rip muscles due to the higher quality of their muscle tissue - and because their lower testosterone levels decreases how quickly they build muscle mass. This doesn't mean that women cannot be strong however, it simply means they have to work twice as hard in order to build muscle mass, and likewise men need to work their endurance harder if that is what they are looking to build.)

Regardless of whether you are training for size or endurance, you will be slightly stronger within 48 hours or less. The problem however is that slight increase is so small it is barely noticeable, which is why it is necessary to workout 3 or 4 times per week in order to see visually noticeable results.


Eating lots of nutrients and protein are very important to building muscles. It is not all protein. You also need vegetables, which includes lots of minerals and vitamins that your body needs to quickly build muscle tissue. You also need an adequate supply of carbs so your body feels energized. A variety of natural supplements exist (eg. Creatine) which boost the speed at which you grow new muscle tissue.


People new to resistance training typically see relatively rapid increases in muscle size due to building muscles that haven't really been challenged before, as can people who "used to exercise very often" and are getting back into things due to muscle memory.

As your body becomes accustomed to the effects of your new activity, your rate of muscle growth will taper off. While you can try to jump-start your muscle growth by increasing the number of sets you perform for a given exercise, you will usually see only modest size increases - muscle gain is a matter of patience.

Being impatient means you might simultaneously raise your risks for a workout-related injury. To enhance the effects of your workout routine and safely maximize your potential muscle size, I recommend using a combination of body weight exercises (which are safer to do), yoga, free weights and weight machines.

If you need more help consult your friendly neighbourhood personal trainer in Downtown Toronto.

High Intensity Interval Training pays off well - but is it for everyone?

Interval training is a great way to exercise. Nobody disputes that.

And high intensity interval training (HIIT) burns even more calories, and increases the Afterburn Effect which causes you to continue burning more calories throughout the day due to a heightened metabolism.

However HIIT is not for everyone. Especially people who are elderly, out of shape / overweight, have injuries (eg. knee injuries).

Which is why I have introduced Low Intensity Interval Training (LIIT) and Moderate Intensity Interval Training (MIIT) as options for my personal training clients. Why? Because on a regular basis the people who actually want to hire a personal trainer are in one of these categories:

Overweight / out of shape
Suffering from an injury (eg. knee)

And being told by a personal trainer that you can't do a specific workout becomes a whole Catch-22 scenario. In your head you think you can't lose weight / become fit without doing that high intensity workout. Except you can do the workout - but you need to do it a lower intensity: low intensity or moderate intensity. Especially if you have an injury you need to work around.

It is true that High-intensity interval training (HIIT) offers a bigger payoff from our workouts in less time. But if you can't physically DO the workout due to age, fitness level or injury then you need to do the next best thing.


High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) improves your current fitness level in short sessions, working to increase your metabolism and cutting your workout sessions to a fraction of the time. The goal is to alternate high-intensity bursts of exercise with periods of low-intensity exercise, or active rest.

So for example... Sprinting for 45 seconds, jogging for 45 seconds, repeated 10 times. Total time is 15 minutes and that would be a High Intensity Interval Training you could do at home / in your neighbourhood.

However sprinting / jogging for 15 minutes is a very intense workout. Many people wouldn't even be able to do the first 3 sprints without wanting to stop and rest for 5 minutes.

So a more moderate high workout may be called for.

Sprinting 30 seconds, jogging 30 seconds, walking 30 seconds, repeated 10 times. Total time is 15 minutes. That workout is more doable, but may still be beyond the reach of many people who are out of shape.

One of the goals of HIIT requires you to raise your heart rate up to 85% or more of its maximum capacity. You can calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. Multiply that by .85 (85 percent) and you have your target heart rate.

So for example I am 34 years old. 220 - 34 = 186, x 0.85 = 158.

So if I want to worry about my heart rate I will need a heart monitor on my wrist so I can track how high my heart rate goes.

However I don't believe heart rate monitors are for everyone. While it may help some people to gauge how hard they are exercising and forces them to exercise harder, I think that for people who are overweight / elderly that this is a potentially dangerous practice that could lead to heart attacks (or heart attack like events).

The goal of HIIT (possibly combined by using a heart rate monitor) is to ensure that you burn maximum calories during your workout, as well as maximum calories in the hours following. However burning maximum calories should not involve risking your health and life to do so. Most HIIT workouts last about 15 to 30 minutes.

Thus there is definitely a need for different levels of workouts...

Moderate High Intensity Interval Training (MHIIT)

Target Heart Rate is 70 to 80%
You will still have difficulty talking during this level of workout because you will be breathing so hard.
eg. A running MHIIT would involve a mix of sprinting, jogging and perhaps even some walking.
Aim to workout for 20 to 30 minutes.

Moderate Intensity Interval Training (MIIT)

Target Heart Rate is 60 to 70%
You will be able to talk easier during this kind of workout, but conversations will be dragged out.
eg. A running MIIT would involve a small amount of sprinting, be mostly jogging and some walking.
Aim to workout for 25 to 35 minutes.

Moderate Low Intensity Interval Training (MLIIT)

Target Heart Rate is 50 to 60%
You will be able to talk most of the time.
eg. A running MLIIT would involve intervals of jogging and walking.
Aim to workout for 30 to 40 minutes.

Low Intensity Interval Training (LIIT)

Target Heart Rate is 40 to 50%
Talking will be easy during this kind of workout.
eg. A running LIIT would involve intervals of jogging and resting.
Aim to workout for 35 to 45 minutes.

If a particular workout gets too easy for you and you aren't experiencing any pain / discomfort, try a higher level of intensity. Don't try to deliberately hurt yourself, but do try to challenge yourself as your fitness level progresses.

It is advised that elderly people with heart problems (eg. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on the right) jog with a partner in case they develop any complications during their workout. When in doubt stick to a lower pace workout and avoid over-taxing your heart. (And yes, that was a pun on British taxes.)

The more intense the workout the more oxygen you consume. This increase in oxygen, in turn, increases your post-exercise metabolism - and results in you burning extra calories for anywhere from 90 minutes to 24 hours after the workout is finished. The higher intensity the workout the more benefits you see in terms of fat loss, increased oxygen consumption and improved anaerobic capacity benefits in less time.

While Interval Training is usually used for cardiovascular workouts to improve endurance, it can also be used in sport-specific workouts or weightlifting sessions.

You don’t have to be in amazing shape to add Interval Training to your workouts. Choose your intensity based on your fitness level. When in doubt start low and build your endurance / strength slowly.

You should check with your doctor before starting any exercise program, especially High Intensity Interval Training. If your doctor says you’re healthy enough to engage in HIIT then go ahead and try it. If your doctor advises restraint then you would be better off starting off with low or moderate intensity workouts and then progress slowly.

Whey Protein isn't just for Bodybuilders

Whey Protein is typically used by people who are into weightlifting and bodybuilding in an effort to bulk up.

And it works too. If you're putting in the effort into the exercises (weightlifting or otherwise) then adding whey protein as a supplement to your regular diet will help bulk up the muscles you are using during the exercises - faster than you normally would on your regular diet.

What is Whey Protein? Its from whey (as in curds and whey), a milk product that is extremely high in protein. So if you're vegetarian you can use it just fine. (Vegans however won't because they don't use dairy products.)

Now you may have noticed up above that I said "exercises (weightlifting or otherwise)", meaning basically any kind of exercises. Including cardio. It does not have to be weightlifting.


Because during cardio exercises the two muscle groups you are using most is actually the lung and heart muscles. The lungs are bringing in oxygen, expelling CO2, and the heart is pumping freshly oxygenated blood to all your body parts.

So what happens to someone who is training for a marathon and they add whey protein as a supplement to their diet?

#1. Their lung muscles will become stronger, making it easier for them to breathe while under stress.

#2. Their heart will become stronger, enabling them to pump more blood quickly and easier.

#3. Their endurance will go up at a faster rate than the normal diet alone.

#4. The muscles they are using (in this case, leg muscles) will grow stronger too. They won't bulk up so much (quantity), but the individual muscle cells will become stronger (quality).

#5. Sore muscles after running will heal faster thanks to the extra protein.

Personal Example #1 - It is archery season right now and I am using whey protein as a supplement after particularly difficult days at the archery range so that I can both heal my back and shoulder muscles faster, and bulk them up faster so I can handle a heavier draw weight on my bow.

Personal Example #2 - I am also using whey protein after jogging every morning so my lungs, heart and leg muscles will grow faster - increasing my endurance and speed.

How Much Whey Protein Should You Use?

Honestly, you don't need to gobble it down in large doses.

If you read the packaging it recommends the maximum dosage. For example on Six Star Muscle Professional Whey Protein the maximum dosage is listed at "2 heaping scoops, 3 times daily". That is a huge amount and it is aimed at people who are bodybuilders who are doing weightlifting in the morning, the afternoon and again around 7 PM in the evening. They're weightlifting for multiple hours daily.

Chances are likely that is not you. Your goals are much more different.

Speaking for myself when I use whey protein I don't even use a full scoop most of the time. It is usually half a scoop or three quarters of a scoop. I use whey protein sparingly, and only when I need to because my regular diet is already reasonably high in protein.

So if you're into jogging and want to build your endurance faster, half a scoop after you finish jogging is enough for your needs.


Protein is also tied to higher brain functions. Your brain is a muscle after all. A balanced diet that makes certain you are getting all your vitamins, minerals and protein will also make you smarter. In contrast too much cholesterol (from a fatty diet) in your blood clogs up the arteries in your brain, making you slower at problem solving and interferes with mnemonic skills (slower at remembering things).

HOWEVER, in order for this to work you need to be doing brain exercises on a regular basis. Thus activities which work your memory skills, problem solving skills, math skills, etc are essentially exercises. Someone who does math for an hour every day and follows those math exercises by eating a healthy meal will ultimately be smarter at math than someone who doesn't exercise their brain and fails to eat a healthy meal.

Be Smart, Eat Healthy!

12 Tips for Running a Marathon

Running a marathon is the ultimate accomplishment for many runners and joggers whose goal is to stay fit or achieve a personal best, but it is also one of the most difficult fitness goal to achieve (up there with triathalons and Iron Man competitions).

Just running 42.2 kim (26.2 miles) and not hurting yourself is a physical accomplishment, as sports injuries are pretty common when running a marathon.

Regardless of your goals or completion times you need to be prepared. Running a marathon demands intense preparation in all aspects of one’s life, including training, diet, and sleep, and mental preparation. Here are 12 tips that will help any marathon runner reach their desired goals:

1. Plan well, and do so well in advance. A marathon is absolutely not something you just decide to do on a whim. It should take months of preparation. Even as much as six months or a year in advance, depending on your fitness level. Choose a marathon that is months away to work towards, and begin preparation immediately. Start logging your runs and times, starting with shorter runs (2-5 miles, depending on your endurance) during the week and longer runs on the weekend. Slowly work your way up as you build endurance.

2. Set reasonable goals. If you've never run a marathon before, don't think you'll go under-4 hours the first time out. Set goals that will push you, but that at the same time you can actually reach by keeping a log and seeing where your stamina and running capacity is well before the race begins.

3. Do practice Half Marathons. Once per month try running a half marathon and time yourself. Half marathons will give you a better idea of where you will fare when you finally do a full marathon.

4. Set Limits on your weekly running. Your goal should be to run 45 to 50 km (25 to 30 miles) per week. Basically 9 to 10 km (5 to 6 miles) fives times per week. The reason you want to limit yourself is to prevent injuries and stave off the effects of running addicition (which can lead to insomnia and a variety of health / mental problems including OCD). As your legs get stronger and you get significantly better endurance wise you can start increasing your amount of running to 90 to 100 km (55 to 60 miles), but avoid going over the 100 km per week limit. Running obscene amounts can lead to running addiction and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - causing you to lose friends and alienate family members with your addiction. (Running addicts are known to avoid going to the funerals of loved ones because they'd rather be running, go running when on vacation when they should be relaxing, avoid friends/family, etc.)

5. Eat a low-fat, high carb diet. Carbohydrates are the fuel you will need to push through a marathon and for all training runs leading up to it. Make pasta and baked potatoes a staple in your diet. Keep your diet low-fat, but not no fat; focus on good fats, like those found in poultry and fish, are necessary for storing extra energy during your runs.

6. Drink lots of fluids. Carry a nalgene or similar water bottle and try to drink at least one, if not two throughout your day. During runs, stay hydrated by bringing a smaller water bottle. Don't overdo it though: drinking an excess of water will make you feel sick and can lead to cramps, dizziness, and nausea.

7. Incorporate other exercise into your routine. Some weight lifting—particularly with a concentration on the lower body—will help build up muscular endurance for races. Yoga is also extremely helpful to runners in that it helps stretch muscles and develops flexibility, but also is a time for meditation and stress relief.

8. Think you can. Mental preparation is key for helping push through when you hit the wall towards the end of a race. Learn to think positive and visualize success (especially completing a race) in the months leading up to the big event.

9. Develop a regimented sleep schedule. Sleep is necessary for stress relief, body repair, and for your general health and well-being. Be sure to get at least 8 hours every night. Tailor your sleeping patterns leading up to a race to match the hours you will be getting up for a race and going to bed before it. If you are suffering from insomnia it might be because you are running too much (or too close to bedtime). Change your routine so you run in the morning and avoid exercising 4 hours before your bedtime. During weekends or days off try to get naps too to speed up healing process.

10. Find a partner. Some people like running as a solitary endeavor, but most find the most success when running with a partner. You'll be able to push each other and support each other, particularly when the going gets tough. Don't expect to talk that much while running, if you are capable of talking when you should be breathing heavily then you really aren't pushing yourself that hard.

11. Taper leading up to the race. Don't push yourself harder than you ever have before or during a marathon. Instead, taper off how much running you do leading up to a race so your muscles have plenty of time to recover and are at full strength on marathon day. During the race remember that you might not finish the race due to exhaustion - it happens and its nothing to be ashamed of. You will do better next time.

12. Enjoy the experience. Don't get so caught up in how others are doing or get down on any lackluster runs to forget that running marathons is a truly enjoyable activity. During the marathon, take the time to take it all in—the scenery, the crowds, and especially your successes. Make memories that will last long after you cross the finish line.

Stairs and Steps - Frugal Exercising

Using your steps or stairs at home or near your workplace in Toronto can give you a fantastic cardio and/or strength workout. By adding the stairs into your daily regimen, and by performing step exercises you will strengthen your legs and butt muscles, while using core stabilizing muscles for balance - thus giving you an almost full body workout which make you buttocks and legs look fantastic if you do these exercises regularly for a year.

And the best part is it will help build endurance so you don't get tired so easily while climbing stairs in the future.

And the bonus is that its very frugal. No equipment needed. And you don't need a personal trainer to tell you what to do. I've provided everything here.

Stairs Exercises Instructions

#1. Go slowly. Rushing or running up the stairs will more likely cause you to trip and hurt yourself. Possibly even result in falling down the stairs.

#2. If you are a beginner and don't normally take the stairs start out with no weight. Intermediate to advanced can use dumbbells, soup cans, or even tote bags filled with books.

#3. Start by standing at the bottom of the staircase and placing one foot on the bottom step.

#4. Step up each leg one at a time by placing all of the weight on your heel and by keeping your hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes strong while driving up through the foot until both feet are on the same step. Perform one set of 10 to 15 reps on the first foot and then switch sides, doing the other foot first.

Ideas for More Variety

#1. Alternate feet.

#2. Side Step. Turn sideways and step up the stairs facing sideways. Try adding a lateral raise while lifting the free leg out to the side.

#3. Reverse step up. Start by standing on the bottom step. Step off the stair with one foot. This will bend the knee of the leg remaining on the step. Straighten the leg to bring the foot back up to the step.

#4. Stairs can also be used for uneven squats (one foot on, one foot off) and lunges, by placing one foot on the step. The back foot on the step will make lunges much more challenging.

#5. Do Cardio and Weight Lifting Intervals. Time yourself for 2 minutes and try cardio intervals on your stairs in between weight lifting sets. Remember to wear running shoes and don't go too fast or else you will risk falling.

Weight Lifting Sets + Self Control

Finding the motivation and energy to do all your weight lifting sets can sometimes be a challenge.


Part of the problem is endurance. Many people who get into weight lifting at the beginning are trying to lift as much as they can, at the max, but after lifting 5 to 10 times need to take a break. After their break they lift another 10 times... then another break. They're lifting so much that they end up taking really long breaks in-between sets. Over a period of 60 minutes they might do this 10 times total (if the have the stamina for that), lifting the weight 100 times total, before giving up.

Trying to lift such large amounts is the first part of their problem. They see other (bigger) men at the gym lifting large amounts and they're trying to prove they can do it. This is more an ego problem for men than for women. Women might still try to prove they can do it, but they won't be so worried about it as the male ego will be.

What should be doing instead is a smaller amount of weight, but lifting it 50 times before taking a break. (Knowing math helps with this.)

Lets pretend for example that in 60 minutes you lift 10 sets of 10, of 300 lbs. Total 10 x 10 x 300 = 30,000 lbs. So at 30 minutes that is averaging 500 lbs per minute.

Instead what a person should be doing is 10 sets of 50, of 120 lbs. Total 10 x 50 x 120 = 60,000 lbs. So that is lifting an average of 1,000 lbs per minute.

Who do you think got the better workout? Who do you think will gain more muscle and/or more endurance?

During a strength training program there is a lot of benefits to building endurance first. If you're planning to be at the gym for an hour every day, but spend most of that time catching your breath and you run out of steam easily then you're not really lifting much weights, are you?

By building endurance first so you can workout the entire hour with minimal breaks, and then gradually increase the amount of weight you are lifting on a weekly or bi-weekly basis then you will be maximizing both your endurance and your weightlifting.

Tip! Having smaller free weights and dumbbells can help you to build endurance/strength faster because you can do a greater variety of exercises using free weights than you would with exercise machines.


When doing a strength training program, and trying to get beyond the level of absolute beginner, adding more than one set per muscle group is ideal. Doing multiple sets is a necessity. If you only do 1 set of 5, you aren't really challenging yourself. You need to give yourself a specific number of sets, a known number for each set, and a specific weight you want to lift for each set. For best results keep a JOURNAL of the total number of sets you did, how many repetitions, what weight you did, and you can even track how much rest time you gave yourself between sets. A good thing to track is also how well you were feeling when you got to the gym (eg. hungry, tired, upset, etc) because your mood and emotions can often effect your stamina and self control.

With longer sets and multiple sets there is an increase of blood flow to the muscle, and it stimulates better growth/development and therefore, strength building. The reason for this is because your body responds better to endurance strength building methods, building muscle faster than it would if you were just trying to lift larger amounts with only 1 set.

You also want to alternate which body parts you are focused on. A good technique is to alternate upper and lower body exercises on a daily basis. You also want to use a variety of different exercises that target different muscles. Only targeting 1 set of muscles (eg. biceps) won't really help you that much. You need to be thinking of muscle groups like dominoes. If you want to grow your biceps, then you also need to exercise all the other muscles surrounding the biceps if you want to get better results.

Only focusing on one specific muscle is also extremely boring. To maintain motivation and increase self control it helps to do a variety of different exercises. You get bored less and you will get better results.

In your journal make a list of exercise machines or free weight exercises you like doing. Then start tracking how many you do during an hour at the gym. Track your rest times too if possible.

Once you know what exercises you enjoy, try to make a routine or a circuit you can do every time you go to the gym. Track everything in your journal.

When bored, add extra exercises and try new things to spice up your weight lifting workout. Having the journal will help you keep focused and having a list of "chores" to do at the gym will help keep you on track with your goals.

Escalating Density Training

 Escalating Density Training (also known as "Escalating Intensity Training") is a solid concept that many personal trainers have been using for years because it is based on time based performance instead of focusing on quitting due to muscle fatigue - thus the focus is on muscle performance during a set time period. In the past personal trainers have been using this concept to train clients, without putting a cool name to the technique. The term Escalating Density Training was coined by personal trainer Charles Stanley and used it as a term in his fitness programs.

British commandos used the same technique during WWII while doing their speed-marches. Their goal was to see how far they could get on foot within a set period of time, all while carrying a 60 lb pack of gear on the backs. So while Charles Stanley may have coined the term, he certainly didn't invent the technique as a training method.

The method is actually pretty straightforward. The exerciser moves heavy weights, or the weight of their own body, in a quick period of time to boost overall power output.

Example #1.

Performing alternating squat and push up sets for 15 minutes and keeping a record of the number of reps performed. Then a week or two later the sequence is repeated and the goal is to increase the number of squats and push ups within that 15 minute time frame.

Example #2.

Doing Bicep Curls with 20 lb dumbbells for 1 minute. Count the number of times you did it. Then a week later attempt the same thing, but using 25 lb dumbbells and try to do the same number or even more in 1 minute.

Example #3.

Do as many jumping jacks as you can while listening to the Rocky theme-song "Eye of the Tiger". Count how many you did and track it for next time.

Example #4.

Go jogging and turn on your pedometer. After 15 or 30 minutes (you figure it out ahead of time) check the amount of steps you've taken on your pedometer. Try to beat that next time.

Example #5.

Flip a giant tractor tire end over end across a football field and count the number of times you managed to do it in a 5 minute period.

After completing a set of these exercises you then you take a break and do it again once you feel you are ready. Sometimes you don't do as well during the 1st set because you haven't warmed up your muscles yet and your metabolism is reacting more slowly, so the 2nd or 3rd set may actually produce your best results.

So it is basically Interval Training, with rest periods in-between intervals, and it is designed to build both endurance and muscle strength at the same time. You may only end up doing 2 - 5 intervals, so its not as long term as normal interval training, but your goal isn't to keep going until you are too exhausted to continue, your goal is to lift or do exercises for a specific amount of time and then each week you should be progressively stronger, faster and have a greater endurance.

This method offers the person the challenge of a numeric goal, and it's easy to plan workouts and track progress because you are aiming to increase both the number of reps, the amount of weight, or both simultaneously. Okay, only doing squats or push ups for 15 minutes seems quite ambitious, and BORING, and it is, but it will also be an intense workout if you do that 3 times in a single hour with 7.5 minute breaks between each set. 150-200 squats and push ups even without weights will cause plenty of soreness, at least at first. However, eventually your body adapts, weights are added and the muscle performance increases SIGNIFICANTLY!

Some key points of this system:
  • Form is of utmost importance. If one workout you are performing bench press with perfect form, and the next with lazy technique, the purpose of this method is defeated. Not to mention that with so many reps proper form will prevent injury.
  • Keep the exercises simple so you can use proper form without making things complicated.
  • Active recovery in between workouts with cardio and stretching is highly recommended. 
  • Drink and stay hydrated! Preferably Powerade or Gatorade or even a whey protein drink.
  • Keep track of everything, including lower numbers during each cycle of exercises.
  • Lift light at first with a weight that would fatigue at 10 reps. Do half if fatigued (5 reps) and alternate your exercises. Keep repeating this cycle for the 15 minutes.
  • The next workout the only goal is to do more reps!
Doing Escalating Density Training is tough and takes discipline to complete the full fifteen minutes if that is your goal but once you get the hang of it, you will look forward to these workouts and tracking your progress!
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