Top Level Tips

February 2008

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1.)    This newsletter is written with your interests in
         mind and heart

For the best-looking body:  “Train for Strength;
        Eat For Health

Why aerobic exercise is not the best way to burn fat

Fat Americans eat like a sumo wrestler

Featured exercise — the "deadlift"

6.)    How kettlebell lifting lifts you

The benefits of personalized program design

Rock your world on a "Trikke" and have  a
         great outdoor workout

Final Words

Contact information

1.)   This newsletter is written with your interests in mind and heart
Welcome.  I hope you find something that you can use in this newsletter, because I have written it with your interests in mind and heart.  You may even find answers to issues that
you didn't realize you misunderstood, and wouldn't have thought to ask.  So whether you discover a correction to an exercise you may have been doing wrong, an important nutritional tidbit that kick starts your fat loss, a new motivational perspective, or a little entertainment -then I've achieved my goal of making this a worthwhile endeavor for all of us.  As always, I am open to your suggestions and questions.  I want to make each edition better than the last, so please feel free to contact me.

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2.)  For the best-looking body:  “Train for Strength; Eat For Health”
After being educated in the steps and techniques to elicit specific physical adaptive changes, I've come to realize that the best path to real fitness is closest to our nature. What I've written below is my "soulful" take on how to achieve your best physical body.

The body works as an integrated unit and needs to be trained as such. This type of training will best prepare the individual for competitive sport or the tasks of everyday life.  It will also lead to the development of a physique that you are proud of.   Think about it . . . your body was designed to move in any movement pattern that a human could require in order to stay alive and prosper in the worldly elements.  The modern world is a different place, and many of the conveniences and stimuli may have caused us to loose our natural connection.  Many of us are easily influenced by quick fix supplements, magazines, and cultural expectations.  It is easy to give into quick fixes concocted by others that promise almost magical results.  Have we lost touch with our nature, only to become a product of external influences?

It is my contention that the best looking human form is also the most functionally efficient.  Let's look at the animal kingdom for example, specifically a panther.  Just picture the lean, sinewy rippling muscles that a panther displays as it does "panther things".  Now think of a healthy, fit, athletic, and lean human form.  Can you draw the comparison?

In order to develop this shape, a person must do the human equivalent of "panther things".  That is to develop your peak athletic human potential.  This requires athletic "integrated" strength training of various movement patterns (as compared with pumping one muscle at a time) .  As far as developing the lean look, well that's a matter of insuring proper nutrition.  So if you train like an athlete, and eat for the health and nourishment of your body, with an element of timing, you will truly develop the best looking body you can have.

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3.)  Why aerobic exercise is not the best way to burn fat
(Adapted from an article by Allyn Cosgrove)

Let's think of all the reasons why steady state aerobic training is supposed to burn fat.

1) It burns calories.
Good.  I'll buy that.  And how does it burn calories?  The muscles are hard at work and demand extra oxygen to help them continue working. Hmmm. There are a ton of activities such as weight training, sprinting, sleeping, talking watching TV that ALSO burn calories by requiring work from the muscles. So no extra points for aerobic training.

2) The fat burning zone.  
Nope.  Sorry.  It doesn't exist. The fat burning zone is a concept that the body burns a greater amount of fat at lower intensity aerobic exercise than it does at higher intensities. This is a misinterpretation. It's true that the body burns a greater percentage of fat at lower intensities than at higher intensities, but taking this to its logical conclusion, the body will burn a greater amount of fat as a percentage lying on the couch than doing anything else right? And we know how good lying on the couch works for fat loss.   

At lower intensities the body may burn 50% of the calories from fat, while at higher intensities it may only burn 35% of calories from fat. BUT, at higher intensities you burn way more total calories, and more fat calories overall than you do at lower intensities. Think about a real world example: sprinters (who run 10 - 20 seconds) vs. marathon runners (who run 2 - 2 1/2 hours).  Are sprinters fatter than marathon runners?  No. Actually sprinters carry less body fat than distance runners due to their muscle mass.

3) Aerobics makes your body an efficient fat burning machine
True but this isn't a desirable response. The ONLY tissue that burns fat in the body is muscle. Yes . aerobic training does demand work from the muscles, but not as much as other activities. Aerobic training doesn't require the muscle tissue to stay around either. Aerobic training makes muscles more efficient at using fat (don't get excited, if your car became more efficient at burning gas, you'd be using less of it). So if muscle is the only tissue that burns fat, and aerobic training makes it smaller and more efficient at burning fat, then essentially you are creating a smaller, more efficient fat burning machine. That's not effective.

Anaerobic training is the best method for burning fat.  That's because the key with anaerobic training is what is known as EPOC.  Anaerobic exercise is tough, and burns a ton of calories while you are performing it.  Additionally, your metabolism remains elevated following this type exercise. This was, at one time, referred to as the oxygen debt, but is now referred to as the Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). The recovery of the metabolic rate back to pre-exercise levels can require several minutes for light exercise (aerobic training), several hours for very heavy exercise (anaerobic cardio training), and up to 12 to 24 hours or even longer for prolonged, exhaustive exercise (interval training or circuit weight training).  And while this recovery is going on, you are burning calories at a higher than usual rate.  More calories burned in a day, means faster fat loss.  The bottom line is that the most effective fat loss workouts require you to tax the big muscle groups with substantial intensity.  Interval training for fat loss trumps aerobics any day.  As I like to say: "Get in; get out. Now do it again, but harder!"

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4.)  Fat Americans eat like a sumo wrestler
If we were to make a list of the behaviors that lead to the fattening of Americans, it might look like this:

1) Skipping breakfast: This leads to catabolism (muscle loss) and thus metabolism damage. It also leads to binge eating later in the day.
2) Eating lots of unhealthy food and drinking lots of nutritionally worthless calories (soft drinks and alcohol).
3) Eating only two or three big meals a day.
4) Going to bed right after eating a big, high carb meal.
5) Not moving around much.

Does that list look familiar?  Yep, the average overweight American eats like a sumo wrestler whose goal is to weigh 500 pounds!  Furthermore, rikishi (as they are called) probably get more activity than the average fat American.  Their main type of meal, chankonabe, even contains more vegetables than the typical American gets!  But in their training stables in Japan, the sumo wrestlers' main objective is to eat in a manner that leads to massive weight gain.
Here's what they're taught:

1) Skip breakfast.
2) Eat lots of mostly unhealthy food and drink alcohol freely.
3) Eat only two or three giant meals a day.
4) Go to bed right after eating a big, high carb meal.

We can learn several lessons from this.  First, going to sleep after eating a high carb meal is so effective at causing body fat accumulation that sumo wrestlers usually do it twice per day.  Maybe, just maybe, we should avoid eating too many carbs at night if we want to have visible abs. 

Second, if men trying to get massively fat purposefully skip breakfast, drink alcohol freely, and eat only two or three large meals a day, maybe it would be a good idea to eat breakfast, lay off the booze, and consume five or six smaller meals per day — that is if your goal is to be leaner.  

This article will serve as a wake-up call for some.  Most people would be pretty surprised to find out they're eating like sumo wrestlers, especially those who skip breakfast thinking that this is an effective weight loss method. 

So here's the first step if you want to start your day out on the right course ─ eat a nutritionally sound meal within the first 45 minutes of arising.  Anticipating some responses: 1.) "You're not hungry?"   2.)" That's not convenient?"  Answers: 1.)  Maybe you're not hungry because you ate too much last night.   2.) You really know that with a little planning, you can make it convenient. 

"Getting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan."  ~ Tom Landry

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5.)  "Featured exercise — the "deadlift"
The deadlift works more muscles at one time than almost any other single movement.  It is hard to beat the deadlift for developing full-body power. That's because the deadlift is a compound movement that works all of the major and most of the minor muscles in the abdomen and lower body, with emphasis on the Erector spinae, lower back and back, along with the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteus maximus. The remaining muscles are involved in stability control. It is, in a sense, the purest single event test of strength because it is one of the few lifts of dead weight (weight lying on the ground). In most other lifts the weight changes direction or starts in the air and several other athletic skills such as balance, coordination are emphasized.  It is commonly believed to be the oldest test of strength, dating back to cultures who competed at lifting the heaviest stones.

How to deadlift:   The bar should be on the floor (a dead stop hence the name). Grasp the bar with an overhand grip, and place your shins against the bar touching it. Bend your legs so that your thighs are slightly above parallel to the floor but keep your shoulders directly over, or preferably just slightly behind your hands on the bar. Keep your head in neutral alignment, but looking slightly upwards.  Keeping an arch in your lower back (imperative, as rounding the lower back prevents these muscles from activating properly), pull the bar straight off the floor and bring your hips forward. The bar should never leave contact with the body. The midpoint position has you standing fully erect. Think about pushing the earth away from you like a jumping action rather than a lifting action. Lower the bar under control to the floor (by flexing the hips and then the knees) to complete the repetition.  Do NOT round your lower back — ever!   Perform each rep with  100% concentration.    

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6.)  How kettlebell lifting lifts you
There is a new way of working out sweeping the U.S. that offers incredible physical and even emotional advantages, yet many people are missing out.  It's really not a new tool though; in fact it's been around for a couple hundred years.  It's the Russian kettlebell.

A kettlebell looks a lot like a cannon ball with a handle on it, and it is a fantastic tool for developing integrated strength throughout your body.   As a trainer, I've tried many types of workouts, and still do so, but there's something about the way you feel after a good kettlebell workout that is not like anything else  Although you can get a great and really tough workout, the feeling that you get afterwards is almost euphoric.  You have to experience it to really know what I mean.  In the most simple terms, it aligns your your body in ways that develop your most efficient strength movement patterns.  It also gives you overall balance in strength and flexibility.  And if you have wherewithal to really push the limit, the conditioning benefits are second to none.  It's just plain awesome.  In the photo on the right, I am snatching an 88 pound kettlebell for reps.  Besides aligning my posture and making my core really tough, my back, shoulders, and hips have never felt better.

But as with most things that are really worthwhile, it takes some effort in order to become proficient.  You don't just walk into a gym and master the kettlebell lifts on your own.  Although kettlebell lifting is very safe when done properly, it can be dangerous if not performed correctly.  More than any other area of exercise, I would recommend that you get expert instruction before attempting some of the moves you see illustrated here.  The time investment is worthwhile and the benefits are priceless.

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7.)  The benefits of personalized program design
Generic programs will not provide the results that you are looking for!  Contrary to what many believe, getting great results involves a lot more than just hard work. 

Over the years, your body has developed in a specific way ─ not only a product of your genetics, but more importantly — your lifestyle.  You are a unique individual and your training programs needs to be tailored to you, while structured for specific progression.  What really counts are the exercises, techniques, and amount of effort (which are all specifically designed) to give you the greatest rate of return!  

Although the typical one-size-fits-all workout may seem to work for a short time, almost any activity away from the remote control will work for a short time.  And conversely, if you slip into the "just do it" mode of repetitive activity, you will soon reach a stalemate in your progress.  Another potential hazard of repetitive training is overuse and wear and tear on the joints, in addition to the potential for developing muscle imbalances.  So if you expect to make impressive and substantial changes in how you feel and how you look, you must be on a program that adjusts with you—as your body adapts to exercise.

Therefore the workouts that I design for each of my clients are tailor-made to the individual.  Everyone is unique, and for every one of my clients, I design programs according to their specific needs, with consideration for:  
    • their current fitness level,
    • any past or current injuries or health problems,
    • their time schedule relative to their goals,
    • as well as their lifestyle. 

Motivation is key too, so I always try to keep the workouts fun and motivating while teaching safe techniques that keep my clients injury-free.  Most people discover that they rise to higher levels of fitness and functional capabilities than they have ever known in their adult life.  They get stronger from the inside out as they develop a healthy, athletic body . . . and it shows!  

Continual and evolving program adjustments also help to keep the workouts both mentally and physically stimulating.  This process of "personalization" builds a momentum that is easy to keep — you stay "tuned into" your  workout while advancing toward your goals.  In fact, it has been proven that when you identify yourself with fitness, you are more likely to integrate exercise into your lifestyle with momentum that stays with you.  It becomes part of who you are.
Important footnote:  My sessions are series-based "pay-as-you-go" — I don't do contracts with my clients, and there is never a gym membership fee to train with me.  I also offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on each and every session.

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8.)  Rock your world on a Trikke and have  a great outdoor workout
If you would like to get a great all-over conditioning and cardio workout, and don't want to run or pedal on those boring, monotonous, non-functional "hamster wheels" at the gym or health club, then you may want to visit my friends Andy and Jana in south Tampa to experience a really fun and functional workout on a Trikke.  In fact, it's my personal favorite way to get in an awesome cardio workout in the beautiful Florida climate.  Often you can see me rockin' out on the Friendship Trail (the old Gandy bridge).

What is a Trikke (pronounced "trike")?  Trikke three-wheeled cambering vehicles are human powered machines that utilize Trikke Tech’s patented 3CV technology to allow a rider to propel a chainless, pedal-less device forward without ever touching foot to ground. This elegantly simple construct provides a stable 3-point platform that leans into the turn with the rider while all three wheels remain in contact with the ground. A rider may reach speeds of up to 18 mph on flat ground, ride 50 miles in one day, and climb the steepest of hills (with a little practice!).

Trikke’s design allows the rider to naturally engage his entire body throughout the ride. Legs are active for balancing and shock-absorption and arms punch for power-thrusts and hang on for stability and control. The Trikke 3-wheeler allows you, the rider, to feel the miracle of your own body and mind working in graceful unison. The bi-products of the ride are joy, health, fitness and a renewed appreciation for yourself and your life.  What other outdoor vehicle can you utilize that is fun, fitness and healthy for the body all in one machine?

To get more info about the Trikke, and directions to the store in south Tampa, click this link: 
Trikke Tampa Store  
Expand your world.  No matter what age . . . in fact the average Trikke rider is 40+.  Anybody can do it.  It's a great experience.

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9.)  Final words
Well, this is the last article, so I thought I'd use this space to give those who need it (and you know who you are) a little kick-in-the-pants pep talk.  If you train with me, you obviously want to improve your body . . . primarily in the ways you look, feel, and perform.

Now, imagine that every decision you make during your day regarding your diet, your training program, or your lifestyle in general, will cause you to either take one step closer to your ideal physique and fitness goals, or one step further away.  Every single decision whether conscious or unconscious. Everything! You become a product of your lifestyle — the good and the bad.  So what does that mean exactly?  Let's break it down:

• That meal you just ate? Did it take you a step forward or backward?
• What about your last scheduled workout? (Or did you skip it and take a step or two back?)
• Sleep levels (are they sound and adequate)?
• Recovery methods?  (Did you even use any today?  That includes nutritional support, hydration, rest, stress-free periods, foam rolling, etc.)
• Right this very second, how's your posture sitting in that chair?
• Did you drink a sugary cola today?  And do you think that took you one step forward, or one step backward?
• And more  . . . (you can come up with your own if you think about)

Negative actions or behaviors, even small ones, accumulate into regression — you get fatter, weaker, smaller, dumber, and sicker.  Positive actions or behaviors, even small ones, accumulate into progression — you get more muscular, leaner, stronger, smarter, and healthier.  How many steps did you take forward today?  How many steps did you take backward?  They all add up. 

Everything you do, every single decision you make, either takes you a step closer or a step further away from your goal. You either grow or you regress; nothing stands still.  Got that?  Good.  Because it's true.  So start taking consistent small steps to develop the habits to hold yourself up to your own high standards.  Stop wishing . . .  you know what to do and you know you can do it.  After all, this IS for you.  You're finally on your way to becoming the real YOU that you know deep down inside you can be.

"I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it."

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10.)  Contact information

Bob Keyser
Tampa, Florida
Phone: (813) 229-5929
Web page:  http://www.toplevelfitness.com/

A proven, effective, "non-hype" approach to fitness and fat loss!

Based upon over 30 years of practical experience I design and implement fitness programs to help people achieve exceptional results. Specialties include: Fat Loss (the "best" way for long term results), Joint Health (get rid of pain, increase range-of-movement, and develop substantial connective tissue), Muscle Quality (strong, lean, sinewy, and balanced), Performance Enhancement (functional power improves your game and makes life's tasks easier), and Energy (for being yourself—at your best).

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