Sunday, December 11, 2011

Establishing Fitness Goals

Step 1 in an effective fitness plan is to set some goals. Be clear, specific, and detailed about your goals. Keep in mind that goals can be amended. Make sure they are realistic and make them impacting and life-changing! There are a lot of self help books out there that promise to help you overcome most of these. Most are just fluff. What is holding you back?

7 Things That Hold People Back From Achieving Their Goals:

Most people never achieve success because:

1. They have yet to clearly identified what they TRULY want.
2. They have yet to create a compelling enough reason for overcoming the obstacles needed to achieve it.
3. They over or underestimate how close they are to their objective.
4. They have yet to look far enough down the road to identify what resources they are going to need.
5. They fail to recognize their progress and wind up frustrated and discouraged.
6. They need a real or compelling enough vision of the intended outcome.
7. They skip taking the first step or developing consistent action toward the goal.
That's it... the basis of virtually all failures to achieve any goal.

So, to put all of those in a positive frame:

1. Clearly define what you want. Develop your goal.
2. Create your why: have a compelling reason to push your agenda.
3. Stay close to your objective.
4. Identify all the resources you will need to achieve your goals.
5. Recognize your progress to avoid frustration and discouragement.
6. Have a real compelling vision of your intended outcome.
7. Create consistent action towards your goal.

Tips from the Top

1. Set realistic long term goals and attainable short term goals you can hit.
2. Create a support team to hold you accountable.
3. Collect images of what you desire. Make a dream board.
4. Use visualization and affirmations daily. Thoughts become things.
5. Have an attitude of gratitude. Be grateful each day.

You win by trying and failing…


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The New Rules of Fitness: Why Working Out Less is More...

You log hundreds of hours in the gym, following a "traditional" routine that alternates between strength and cardio, but you still are unable to achieve the kind of definition you see in the magazines...

Why is it so hard to achieve that dream body? If this sounds familiar, then you're about to discover why your workout may be less effective than you think.

For years experts have maintained that heavy lifting and cardio are the keys to building muscle and reducing body fat, but the latest exercise science is turning conventional wisdom on its head. This flies in the face of the "more-is-better" mantra of fitness.

It's time to learn the new rules of fitness...

Focus on the Work. Quit Worrying About Calories.

Have you ever noticed that long-distance runners come in many shapes and sizes-from skinny to even hefty, but all sprinters tend to be lean and chiseled (even check out the guys & girls pounding the treadmill at your gym.) This flies in the face of the "more-is-better" fitness mantra. Longer workouts (like a marathon run) burn more fat and build more muscle right?

Hear the latest research. Earlier this year a study from the School of Kinesiology at the University of Western Ontario compared the effects of short, intense strength training with those of longer bouts of moderate exercise. Participants were separated into two camps. Members of the first group ran as hard as they could for 30 seconds and then rested for four minutes. They repeated this three to five times for a total workout time of 18 to 27 minutes. The second group ran for up to 60 minutes at 65 percent of maximum capacity (think moderate-paced jogging). Both groups ran three times per week for six weeks. 

Despite exercising for a much shorter time, those in the sprint group saw their total body fat decrease by 12.4 percent, while the other runners lost less than half that much. 

In 2007, researchers from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, produced similar results. Participants who did eight-second sprints on a bike followed by 12-second rests for 20 minutes three times a week for 15 weeks lost an average of 5.5 pounds of fat. Those who cycled at a slower, steady pace for 40 minutes actually gained, on average, a pound. 

So why do shorter, intense workouts boost fat loss?

Rocky Reeves (Rock Hard Fitness, Anchorage, AK) says it is about what happens inside the body post workout. Sprints or intense running (while cardio in nature)-tear down muscle because you're taking your body through new thresholds (upper limits). The body requires extra metabolic processes to repair and strengthen itself. You will continue to burn calories (and fat) for days (typically 40-48 hours) after your workout. Those who like to jog for 45-60 minutes (steady state) return to their normal calorie-burning state almost immediately after they've finished exercising. It's the same reason your muscles almost never get sore after a moderate hike (if you hike a lot). You need to challenge your body more!

Increase Your Intensity. Start Exercising Less.

Rock Hard Fitness (RHF) has replaced hour-long boring workouts with short, intense classes that focus on full-body movements (hybrids, combos)-like squats with presses-to quickly fatigue the entire body. RHF Burn30 Bootcamp sessions never last more than 30 minutes, and researchers from Ohio University back up his new way of doing things. The scientists had young men perform four rounds of bench presses, power cleans, and squats. The participants were told to lift enough weight so that they burned out at about 10 reps during each set. It amounted to a 30-minute workout, but when tested several days later, the men continued to burn fat and build muscle much faster than they had before the routine. 

The problem with a lot of workouts is that the focus is placed on total time spent at the gym instead of on the intensity of the sessions. This means the longer people exercise, the more they "pace" themselves and the less intense the overall workout becomes. 

I like to say "intensity beats extensity."

Force Muscle Fatigue. Push Yourself to Failure.

The amount of weight lifted is less important than how hard the client pushes and how many times they are forced to rest because of absolute muscle fatigue. The only way RHF can elicit that kind of intensity from clients is to cut their workouts from an hour to 30 minutes (by cutting rest time). 

People rarely achieve maximum potential when they "pace" through a workout. The goal in most sessions is to quickly get the body to burn out so you have to rest. Since deciding to implement the 30 minute boot camp sessions RHF has witnessed tremendous change in member's bodies and motivation. Members feel they can really push because the workout is over in 30 minutes. 

Knowing this keeps them mentally and physically engaged, which helps drive intensity. They also receive immediate feedback from their bodies due to the muscle pump and spike in energy and endorphins. They are addicted to these sweat sessions!

Mix Strength and Cardio. Forget Traditional Cardio.

Ever wondered why elliptical machines (and stair climbers and treadmills . . .) are often full of people who are overweight? Apparently, the most monotonous exercises are also the ones least likely to build muscle-and might even do the opposite.

Researchers at West Virginia University wanted to see how two different routines, plus a very-low-calorie diet, would affect weight loss. One group of participants engaged in resistance training on weight machines that progressed from one to four sets of up to 12 exercises three times per week. The second group performed 50 to 60 minutes of walking, stair climbing, or biking four times per week.

At the end of the 12-week study, the aerobic group had lost 19.4 percent of total body weight, while the strength group had lost 14.7 percent.

But when body-composition measurements were taken, researchers discovered that one fourth of the weight lost by the aerobic group was muscle. The resistance group's muscle mass remained static even though their diet was severely restricted. Long-duration, low-intensity cardio can break down muscle tissue to be used as fuel (diet plays a huge role).

If your goal is fat loss and muscle growth, it is best to stick with short-duration, high-intensity cardio and strength training. Check out RHF by visiting

You Can Never Out-Exercise a Bad Diet. You Can Outsmart Your Appetite. 

Want to raid the refrigerator after a workout? Science now suggests that these cravings are linked closely with the type of exercise performed. It all has to do with the hunger hormone ghrelin, which lines the stomach walls and signals the brain to eat.

According to a study from the Else-Kröner-Fresenius Center of Nutritional Medicine at the Technical University of Munich, people who cycled at 50 watts (light effort) for 30, 60, and 120 minutes experienced a serious spike in ghrelin release that triggered the desire to eat. However, ghrelin secretion remained unchanged when exercisers kicked up the intensity to 100 watts (moderate effort) during a short, 30-minute workout. 

The authors state that "low- rather than high-intensity exercise stimulates ghrelin levels independent of exercise duration."Another study, from Leeds University in Britain, backs up this counterintuitive wisdom by showing that intense exercise actually suppresses appetite. Other researchers suggest this is due to the temporary blunting of ghrelin release and increased secretion of peptide YY-the hormone responsible for appetite suppression.

Without those nagging hunger pangs, the ability to make sensible nutrition choices should be much easier. With that being said, you still want to take your post-workout formula (within 45 minutes of workout) to speed and maximize your recovery. 

Rocky Reeves, MS is the owner/operator of Rock Hard Fitness (RHF) in Anchorage, Alaska. RHF specializes in 30 minute metabolic workouts (RHF Burn30 Bootcamp). Rocky has taught well over 10,000 boot camp classes in the last 13 plus years (as of 2016) and his client list is in the thousands.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Waging the Ongoing War Against Weakness...

I talk quite a bit about balance. Having taught over 10,000 fitness boot camp classes in 7 years I know what being out of balance feels like and I also know that searching for balance in life is a process (a lifelong one).

It comes down to this...

If you wanna be strong then you need to find balance in your life:

Body Strong...
Heart Strong...

Find Balance…

Physically (exercise, proper recovery)
Biologically (nutrition)
Fiscally (especially)

Deliberately create your reality, attract like-minded people, and also allow others to be great. The choices you make create you. Bold choices define you. Your work ethic defines you. You are where you are because you chose to be there. I know it sounds like deep, but you need to hear it.

We are RHF. We are waging the ongoing war against weakness.

Take charge. Seek balance. Create strength.


Friday, October 14, 2011

RHF Motivation Minute: Bring Enthusiasm to Your RHF Sweat Session

Enthuse yourself and enthuse those around you...

"If you have zest and enthusiasm you attract zest and enthusiasm. Life does give back in kind."
~ Norman Vincent Peale

"The great accomplishments of man have resulted from the transmission of ...enthusiasm."
~ Thomas J. Watson

Enthusiasm first appeared in English in 1603 with the meaning "possession by a god." The source of the word is the Greek enthousiasmos, which ultimately comes from the adjective entheos, "having the god within".

Enthusiasm clearly has every day connotations of being "inspired" or "excited". Enthusiasm is a good feeling! I would be willing to bet that most people if required to do a particular task, would (if they knew that they could) choose to do it with enthusiasm.

Draw your attention to the quality of enthusiasm during your workouts and notice how "you feel" having introduced the quality of enthusiasm to your sweat session!

People like enthusiasm. They like feeling enthusiastic and they like people to feel enthusiastic around them.

"Enthusiasm glows, radiates, permeates and immediately captures everyone's interest." ~ Paul J. Meyer

Enthusiasm affects and infects communication in all directions...

If you are training hard next to someone and they start to get enthusiastic then you both start to feel good! I call it workout synergy! This is the magic of group training (boot camps). Heck, you will probably even decide that you really like that person. Here is a person who understands the important things, just like you!

"Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come from miles to watch you burn."
~ John Wesley

Your enthusiasm is infectious. People want to be around people who make them feel good. We recognize, at a deep level, that we perform better and appreciate life more fully when we feel enthusiastic (just look back at the origins of the word).

Fitness is a tool to improve quality of life. Use it with enthusiasm! Be infectious, inspire change and challenge.

Have an excellent day.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Snooze or Lose!

It is as important as exercise and nutrition...

It is a learned training mechanism...

Fitness has 4 legs; proper training, good nutrition, a fit mindset, and rest/recovery/sleep.

When in balance the sky is the limit.

Often time sleep/rest/recovery takes a back seat.

Signs of insufficient sleep/rest:
  • tiredness
  • fatigue
  • poor energy
  • decreased exercise tolerance/poor workout performance
  • poor motivation
  • feeling sleepy
  • persistant soreness
Remember this...

Proper rest produces peak performance


Monday, August 29, 2011

Metabolic Training: The Ultimate Training Method

RHF uses metabolic training to help maximize your fitness experiences…

Metabolic Training is the ultimate fusion of anaerobic strength and aerobic cardio exercise and adds a new twist to classic routines of the past…

A metabolic workout is essentially a total body interval workout using short, max effort anaerobic work periods (typically 15-60 seconds in length or 5-15 reps) performed in an alternating set format (such as supersets, circuits, complexes, Tabatas, etc.) with short, incomplete rest periods between exercises (typically 10-30 seconds in length for optimization).

The high training intensity builds strength and muscle, jacks up anaerobic metabolism, and creates a large post-workout after burn for up to 48 hours after completing your workout.

The high training density, or work completed per unit of time or reps, causes a great deal of direct calorie burning during the workout to best stimulate fat loss.

Finally, the negative work-to-rest ratios (e.g. 20 seconds of work/10 seconds of rest or 10 reps/10seconds) inherent to the vast majority of metabolic workouts create a cumulative fatigue that also stimulates aerobic metabolism and thus provides incredible cardiovascular benefits.

That being said, metabolic training is for the strong minded and strong hearted and it's all about working as hard as you possibly can at your current fitness level. Outlined below is a general criteria to follow to ensure you do just that:

4 signs you need to work harder…

1.) Lack of Muscular Burn:
Anaerobic exercise with short, incomplete rest periods creates a great deal of lactic acid accumulation causing intense muscular fatigue and burning. Simply put, your muscles need to burn or you need to work harder (create the right training environment). However, this never means that you need train to muscular failure on every set. However, for the optimal training effect you should come close to but stop just before technical failure, the point at which going any further would compromise proper exercise form and technique.

2.) Lack of Personal Confrontation:

Studies show that training intensity, rather than volume (increased sets or duration), determines the degree of metabolic boost from a given workout. That being said, you need to have at least a couple moments during your workout when you feel like you want to quit or you hate your life. Progressive overload remains the hallmark of any solid fitness routine and you need to push past your comfort zone or your body will stop responding to ANY routine. This is the man in the mirror test!

3.) No Sounds of Exertion:
You need to grunt, groan, huff and/or puff! Your heart rate should be up the whole workout with your lungs working overtime. In other words, these total body workouts create a systemic effect that activates your body's fight or flight response to help you go the distance. You never have to scream like a rabid animal, but it is ok if you pipe up some. Finally, I think another good analogy is the 4 letter word test- if you are fighting back the burning desire to yell out a profane 4 letter word or two, well then you're probably working pretty hard.

4.) Lack of Sweat:
A good metabolic workout will have you glistening during the first couple minutes of the workout and your shirt should be soaked halfway in. You should be dripping in a pool of your own sweat at the end of each workout. If so, you did use heavy enough loads or advanced enough exercises variations to create a desired metabolic disturbance (training response). Either that or you were optimal in your rest/recovery between sets. In general, you should never take more than 60 seconds of rest between sets with metabolic training and 10-30 seconds seems to be the sweet spot.

Four Signs You Are Working Too Hard…

1.) Diminished Training Intensity:
In general, if you need to reduce your training loads from set to set, then you're probably working too hard. Your goal is to be able to use the same loads at the end of the workout that you used in the beginning without excessively resting before increasing the loads in the subsequent workout. The only exception here is if the workout actually calls for you to reduce your loads throughout the training session. In addition, it's better to go into a given work period with a general rep range to work within. For example, if you were using 30-second work periods, a typical rep range within that time frame is 8-12 reps if you're moving at the typical 3-4 second per rep tempo. If you're getting more than 15 reps, the loads are too light. If you're getting less than 6 reps, the loads are too heavy.

2.) Excessive Resting:

If you are being forced to rest/pause a couple times during a work period, or you're resting longer than your rest periods allow for, you're probably working too hard. If you choose the appropriate exercise intensity, you should be able to train with minimal if any stopping during the work periods within your workout. As the workout progresses, a brief 3-5 second pause here and there to reset and reload is fine, but if you're taking any longer than that and stopping constantly, then you need to reduce your loads or regress the exercise appropriately.

3.) Excessive Breathing:
A good workout will have you breathing hard as your body's demand for oxygen increases, but you should never be completely out of breath or gasping for air. If you start wheezing or coughing, that's a clear sign to stop exercising immediately. If symptoms persist, it could be related to exercise-induced asthma or another serious condition and you should seek immediate medical attention. It's important to note that larger individuals with more muscle mass will have greater overall oxygen demands and will thus be more prone to being out of breath than their smaller, less muscled counterparts.

4.) Dizziness or Blurred Vision:
If you get dizzy or have vision trouble during any portion of exercise, then you're probably working too hard. Either that or you could be experiencing a migraine or vertigo or have symptoms of low blood pressure, dehydration, or lack of nutrition. If this condition persists, you must immediately discontinue your fitness program and seek medical attention.

Stay tuned for more great information on many of the RHF news feeds…

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Shedding (Releasing) Pounds Takes Time. Preventing Disappointment When "Slips" Happen...

Never expect perfection as you work towards your goal of a healthy and fit lifestyle. Truth is, anyone trying to release weight and get healthy is going to experience some "off" days.

It takes an excess of 3,500 calories to gain a pound of weight, so an occasional slip will never completely wipe out your efforts. The bigger issue is an inability to cope with the slips.

Here are a few tips that may make those tough times a little easier:
  • Let go of perfectionist thinking. Accept that you may have a bad day and slip with your fitness and meal plan once in a while.
  • When you feel that your goals are just taking too much time, stop and think clearly about your healthiest options at that moment. And remember "slips happen." Grade your efforts on a scale of 1-10.
  • Write out a plan (actually write it) on how you are going to get yourself back on track.
  • Do something positive. Go for a walk or get some other form of exercise, or eat something healthier than you had planned.
A bad day or two is fairly harmless. Just do whatever it takes to get back on track. And if it will make you feel better, plan the next day to include a variety of plant based foods to make up for the slip(s).

And ALWAYS remember, we cherish your business and support you in a healthy AND FIT lifestyle!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

High Intensity Training and Muscle Confusion: The Premise of RHF

With the popularity of high intensity training (HIT) and high intensity interval training (HITT), the term "muscle confusion" is getting a lot of play in the media. And while many people credit it as the reason HIT and HIIT is effective, few people understand what it means, much less how it works.
Let's examine what intensity is and why muscle confusion is so effective and popular…

Defining Intensity

The word "intensity" has been given many meanings in the context of exercise. For example, some experts say the true definition of intensity is load intensity or the total amount of weight you lift, or the amount of weight you can lift relative to your one repetition maximum. Other experts claim that effort intensity or the amount of perceived momentary muscular effort you can exert during a set/round is the optimum measure of intensity. Intensity can also be defined as anabolic intensity or the amount of muscle building hormones released as a result of a workout. Another way to look at it is relative intensity or the amount of physical stress imposed on the body. Sports psychologists often use the term mental intensity; focus, concentration and mental toughness. There is another definition of intensity which few people ever consider, yet it is equally important, and may be more important than any other form of intensity; density training or "density intensity" (wow, nice rhyme!) is the amount of muscular work you can perform in a specified period of time.

Peaking: Muscle Synergy...

The whole idea of muscle synergy is based on creating a fitness peak to maximize performance benefits. These phases take a while to master. As you are working on this mastery, confusion reigns, and your performance may be mediocre at times. But when you put it all together, and the various bits that have been confusing your body all come together, the result is a period of peak fitness and synergy.

One of the concepts that seems the hardest to convey to people is how (or why) to peak. Most "everyday" people never consider themselves athletes because they lack performance-oriented goals; they just want to look good and/or feel better. But it is important to understand that all training protocols adhere to athletic principles inherently (especially HIT and HIIT); athletic training always builds around a peak period when you need your body to perform at its best. This idea works for every person who works the program; it works for anyone serious about their training. Keep in mind that "high intensity" can vary from person to person. In other words, what is intense for one person might be easy for another person. You should still lean towards HIT and HIIT for optimal results.
Periodization: Training in progressive and regressive cycles...

The entire theory of muscle confusion is based on something called periodization, which is basically training in targeted cycles that keep your body from getting too used to your schedule. The goal of periodizational training is to minimize performance plateaus and keep your improvements happening for a specific amount of time. All periodized programs are structured with a progression and regression of training blocks designed around a peak.

This is why
most of RHF members get their best results during the latter phases of our programs; most can begin to see real results in as little as 21 days. Keep in mind it takes about 66 days on average to create a new habit research shows.

Adapt, master, transition...

The training blocks (weeks) are laid out with a general plan. Your body begins each block faced with something new. This forces you to adapt to it. The stress of this process leads to accelerated improvements. When your body is used to the new regimen, it has a short period where it makes even greater improvements, which is called a growth or mastery phase. Finally, you get so used to the training that your results begin to plateau, at which time it is best to transition into something else.

Timing is everything...

It is important to be aware of when your body should transition (you never always want to be in a state of confusion). This can be difficult, but with experience, you will get better at it. This is where a trainer can help you immensely. Intensity can be varied and customized for clients who are out of shape or have a structure that is less rigid because the adaptation period takes longer. Conversely, the fitter you are, the quicker your body reacts to training and the quicker it adapts. Most science shows that a 3-week-on, 1-week-off cycle of training (regression) is about as short as you can go to maximize the adaptive and growth phases. 

We use this philosophy in RHF Burn30 Bootcamp (go hard for 3 weeks, tone it down 1 week). This philosophy is a little flexible however. We do recommend that you work out to your own schedule to keep this practical (with work and family). Ultimately, what is important is that you halt the growth phase before a plateau occurs and that you see the full cycle through to its end.