No Time to Workout? The Magic of Tabata

by admin

 

“I’m too busy to exercise”

… not if Tabata has anything to say about it!

Tabata is a high-intensity, interval training regimen that can produce remarkable results.  It only takes 4 minutes to do, and it’s incredibly effective!  You will be amazed at how intense the four minutes of exercise will feel.

  • Uses any type of exercise
  • Takes only 4 minutes
  • Engages both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems
  • Builds strength and endurance
  • You can do it anywhere!

Here is How it Works:

  • A Tabata workout is an interval training cycle of 20 seconds of maximum intensity exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest.
  • The intervals are repeated 8 times without pause, so the total time of the Tabata workout is only four minutes.
  • To be clear, this isn’t “eight sets of eight,” although the goal of doing eight reps in each of the 20-second clusters is pretty good.  Instead it’s “as many reps as I can get in” during the twenty seconds, followed by ten seconds rest.
  • IMPORTANT: This isn’t a “four minute workout” – it’s meant to be done when your fully warmed up and possibly even at the end of a workout.

In terms of making your progress measurable, you can keep score by counting how many lifts or movements or distance or whatever you do in each of the 20 second rounds.  You can either add up the total of all your work done or make the round with the smallest number your score.

Here’s a cool Tabata timer:
[to upload to your phone: http://youtu.be/BxFGAyFWNo8]

 

Credit for this simple and powerful training method belongs to its namesake, Dr. Izumi Tabata, and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan.  Their groundbreaking 1996 study, published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise provided documented evidence concerning the dramatic physiological benefits of high-intensity intermittent training.  After just 6 weeks of testing, Dr. Tabata noted a 28% increase in anaerobic capacity in his subjects, along with a 14% increase in their ability to consume oxygen (V02Max).  The conclusion was that just four minutes of Tabata interval training could do more to boost aerobic and anaerobic capacity than an hour of endurance exercise.

Although Dr. Tabata used a mechanically braked exercise cycle machine, you can apply this protocol to almost any exercise.  For example, a basic Tabata workout can be performed with pushups.  The greater the range of motion done for each exercise, the better, so make sure your arms are locked out fully at the top and that your chest touches the ground at the bottom.  Perform pushups non-stop for 20-second intervals, followed by 10 seconds of rest.  Repeat for a total of 8 cycles.

Tabata Suggestions: 

  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • Running (sprint)
  • Swimming (sprint)
  • Rowing
  • Squats
  • Jump rope
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Pull-ups
  • Thrusters
  • Burpees
  • Lunges

Got it?  Now get moving!


Further reading and references:

Chronic Cardio Vs Short Interval High Intensity Exercise
Short Interval High Intensity Workouts Burn More Calories
Best Way to Improve Your Body Composition

Zieman E, et al. Aerobic and anaerobic changes with high-intensity interval training in active college-aged men. J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Apr;25(4):1104-12.

Laursen PB, Jenkins DG  The scientific basis for high-intensity interval training: optimising training programmes and maximising performance in highly trained endurance athletes. Sports Med. 2002;32(1):53-73.

 

 

The Dietary Trifecta – Sugar, Salt & Fat: How To Eat Them Responsibly

by drpaul

Sugar is good. Sugar is bad.

Salt is good. Salt is bad.

Fat is good. Fat is bad.

All true statements, in a way.

Our bodies need all three, but probably not as much as you might be eating … or in the form you’re eating … OR more importantly, the source they’re coming from, etc.

Boy, are we confused in today’s culture. Studies now show that people are so confused about what’s good to eat and what’s bad to eat, they’re simply giving up. This isn’t a case of a little is good and too much is bad. The truth is that sugar, salt and fat are all good under certain conditions or when they meet certain criteria; and not simply because a little sugar (or salt or fat) is good and a lot is bad. It turns out the quality and type of sugar, salt and fat are the critical issues.

Good Sugar
There are sugars found naturally in foods such as bananas, dates, and honey. They are part of the natural food supply within our environment and can be considered good or healthy sugars. Because these “natural” sugars, when found within whole foods, are bound to fiber and combined with enzymes, vitamins, phytonutrients, minerals, co-factors and other natural nutrients that allow or cause the body to digest and metabolize them through healthy pathways and timelines, they are considered healthy sugars.

However, what’s not natural or healthy is an unlimited supply or overindulgence, even of natural or “healthy” sugars. Over the past five hundred generations as human biological requirements were being formed, abundance wasn’t a concern; famine was. Therefore, our bodies are designed to withstand famine but not indulgence or overconsumption of any foods, including healthy sugars found in natural foods. Early man did not have an unlimited supply of bananas, honey or strawberries (nor did those fruits resemble some of the hybrid fruits grown today to accentuate their sweetness). It should also be mentioned that because fruit juice comes from a natural source does not mean that it qualifies as a good or healthy sugar – it’s no longer bound to the fiber and other nutrients that are the hallmarks of a healthy food – it has become a refined sugar product with the same negative health effects as refined sugars.

Bad Sugar
A general statement can be made that any sweetener added to food is almost always going to be a refined, processed concentrated sugar of some sort; the exceptions being raw honey, dates (not date sugar) molasses, xylitol, and Stevia. It’s been only recently (in the last 3-4 generations), that man has devised ways to create highly concentrated “unnatural” sugars such as sucrose (table sugar), high fructose corn syrup, crystalline fructose and the myriad of sugar derivatives. Similar to the risk of overabundance, during the eons of time when the current human genetic code was stamped into its present form, humans never experienced these unnatural, man-made, concentrated sugars. They are very toxic and deleterious to our health. These manufactured, super-sweet sugars cause the body to react in unhealthy ways resulting in damaged organs, tissues and cells in the form of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and obesity.

Good Sugars:

  • Whole fruit
  • Raw honey
  • Whole dates
  • Blackstrap molasses

**Even natural good sugars should be consumed in moderation, even fresh fruit.

Bad Sugars:

  • Sucrose – table sugar (including dextrose, fructose)
  • Corn syrup
  • High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • Crystalline fructose
  • Extracted, filtered, pasteurized fruit juices
  • Fruit juice concentrates

When we eat any foods that cause an abnormal spike in our glucose levels, which in turn causes abnormally high insulin levels, we put our bodies on a path to destruction. The foods that cause these abnormal conditions to occur are unnatural, concentrated sweeteners, such as those listed directly above. Eating unnatural concentrated sugars causes:

  • Insulin resistance
  • Impaired glucose tolerance
  • High insulin levels
  • High triglycerides
  • Hypertension
  • Weight gain

NOTE: Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal) or sucralose (Splenda) are an entirely different topic with their own story to tell, none of it good.

NOTE 2: Grains act like sugar when we eat them – meaning they too cause high insulin levels.

Worth Your Salt?
In ancient Rome, soldiers were paid part of their wages in salt (the modern word salary is derived from the Latin word “salarium” – salt money); that’s where the term, “He’s not worth his salt” came from.

Salt is an essential substance used by nearly all living creatures, including humans, and is vital for survival. Salt, in solution with water, provides many regulatory metabolic functions within our bodies. Proper health is in part determined by the delicate balance of mineral salts and water that exist inside and outside our cells.

Salt as a food additive or seasoning has been around for nearly 6,000 years and has always been valued as a spice or condiment.  In its natural form (i.e. unrefined sea salt), it provides necessary minerals and trace elements and can therefore be considered healthy – but with major qualifiers: (a) unprocessed; and (b) not over consumed.  Unfortunately, table salt used commonly today is not natural and does not contain the valuable nutrients common to natural unprocessed sea salts.

Salt Found in Foods Naturally – GOOD
Salt, also known as soduim, does contain natural minerals including magnesium, calcium, sulfur, silicon, potassium, bromide, borate, and strontium and trace elements. What most people don’t realize it that all of the salt that you need is already found in many natural foods like fruits and vegetables. There is no need to add additional salt to foods.  In fact, too much salt can be deadly. You can easily get enough salt through eating a whole foods based diet.

Processed Table Salt – BAD
Most American’s grow up with Morton’s Iodized Salt – salt that typically contains 98% sodium chloride and 2% chemical additives and has been processed using high heat (1200°F), chemicals, and finally iodine added to it. This industrial processing changes the chemical structure and strips away valuable nutrients that are naturally occurring and health promoting. The end product is simply sodium chloride with added fillers (sugar and aluminum silicate , anti-caking agents) to stabilize the added iodine and to make the salt flow better.

The USDA says that people 19 and over should have no more than 2400mg of salt per day.  Based on what we know about the USDA, use this number as and extreme upper limit for salt intake. The problem is that most Americans are eating many times this amount per day, mostly from processed foods. Up to 75% of the extra salt that Americans are eating is from processed foods, with 20% coming from table salt. Only 5% of salt is coming from natural, healthy sources.  For instance, one McDonald’s Angus Bacon and Cheeseburger contains 2070mg of salt.  That is 85% of the absolute maxium amount of salt you can consume each day. The lesson here is to stick to fruits, veggies and healthy meats.  And kick the Morton’s to the curb.  For the foodies out there, if the thought of tossing your table salt makes your culinary ego cringe, do not fear.  Much like salt, a squeeze of fresh lemon can bring out the natural flavors in food, not to mention, the vitamin C will help you kick your squelch your salt cravings.

The Skinny on Fat
If there’s one thing health science has learned over the past 25 years, it’s that sufficient intake of quality fats is essential for health; this even includes saturated animal fat, long considered a taboo amongst so-called health experts. But don’t let the simplicity of that statement mislead you – it’s not an endorsement to eat any animal fat, deep fried foods, milk shakes, chips made with oils and the like; far from it – the quality AND source of fat is critically important.

First, the concept that eating fat will make a person become overweight is not an accurate statement. In fact, the current obesity epidemic began when Americans adopted the low-fat, non-fat, dietary regimen in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s that still persists today. Unfortunately, this “myth” of ‘avoiding fat because it will make you fat’ extends to the present, and as a culture, we’re paying dearly for it. What’s at the center of the obesity epidemic is not the need to avoid fat, it’s the consumption of grains, sugars, and processed vegetable oils which elevate insulin, the “fat storage hormone” that’s making our culture obese (in combination with sedentary lifestyles and chronic stress, which also cause abnormal insulin and fat metabolism).

As it turns out, our bodies utilize fat for nearly every metabolic process including brain function, immune system, and hormone production and regulation, to name just a few. These important bodily systems require a consistent supply of good fuel throughout each day in the form of fat (along with quality protein, and abundant complex carbohydrates in the form of vegetables). There are a special group of fats called essential fatty acids (EFA) which like the name states, are essential – our bodies can’t manufacture them, they must be consumed. The most important fat our bodies need in good supply (and are almost always lacking) is omega-3 essential fatty acids, commonly found in wild (not farmed) fish, grass- or pasture-fed animals, walnuts, avocados, and other raw nuts and seeds. The other principle essential fat is omega-6 fats which are found primarily in processed vegetable oils and grains, which unfortunately predominates the Standard American diet. Here’s the rub: for optimal health, we should eat a balanced 1:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 EFA; however, today, scientists have calculated that most people are eating a diet giving them a ratio of 1:20 or even 1:50 in favor of omega-6 because the average American eats a diet dominated by grains (breads, pasta), cereals, chips, fried foods, baked goods, etc. that contain or are made with omega-6 vegetable oils and worse – hydrogenated vegetable oils which are very harmful to the body, causing heart disease and cancer.

Good Fats:

  • Extra virgin olive oi
  • Walnuts
  • Avocado
  • Wild caught fish
  • Pasture-fed, grass-fed meats
  • Fish oil supplements

Bad Fats:

  • Deep fried foods
  • Processed vegetable oils (found in nearly all packaged foods such as chips, snack foods, breads)
  • Hydrogenated oils
  • Grain-fed meats
  • Cured meats (deli or “lunch meats”)
  • Processed dairy (pasteurized, homogenized milk, ice cream, cheese)

Mastering these three critical food groups is similar to learning how to successfully merge onto an interstate highway – if done correctly, your journey to health will be smooth and uneventful; done poorly, it can be fatal.

Related Resources:

New England Journal of Medicine Study on the Effects of Salt Intake on Cardiovascular Disease

MSNBC: American’s Consume Too Much Salt

How To Manage A Salt Addiction

Why Salt Addiction is Hard to Kick

25 Suprisingly Salty Processed Foods

CDC: Few Americans Meet Salt Guidelines

Functional Fitness – Training to Get Fit for Life

by admin

At Bonfire we recognize and advocate that being physically fit is one of the major cornerstones of being healthy.  Physical fitness does, however, incorporate a wide spectrum of concepts, theories and elements.

In addition to the many, many benefits that being physically fit creates within the realm of being healthy, we also recognize that life is filled with unpredictable physical events that require simple to complex body movements at any given moment.  Not only do we want our bodies to be able to handle these unpredictable life events without injury, but we want our level of physical fitness to enable us to negotiate them with great success throughout our lives, as did our fit ancestors.

The term functional fitness is one that simultaneously defines, describes and includes the “holistic” physical fitness objective within the Bonfire Program, which could also be called “life fitness.”  It means doing exercises or activities that imitate “real life,” full body movements through wide ranges of motion. It could be described as Compounding Fitness.  It is a form of fitness designed NOT to isolate particular muscle groups or body parts. For example, rather than performing a “bicep curl” on a machine, a functional movement exercise would be to lift a weighted object off the ground from a squatting position to a standing position, holding the object overhead – all done with careful attention paid to safe and proper body biomechanics and posture techniques.

“Functional movements are  natural, effective, and efficient locomotors of body and external objects. Functional movements are compound movements – i.e., they are multi-joint. But no aspect of functional movements is more important than their capacity to move large loads over long distances, and to do so quickly. We believe that preparation for random physical challenges (i.e., unknown and unknowable events) is at odds with fixed, predictable, and routine regimens.” [http://www.crossfit.com]

Finally, a fitness regimen incorporating functional movements can be had by anyone, at any level, and at any age.  It doesn’t require elaborate equipment or facilities; it does, however, require effort.  Functional fitness is not, contrary to popular belief, confined to elite athletes or “strongmen.”

Here are two more great articles on this subject:
Being Fit vs. Being Healthy: The 10 Facets of Physical Fitness
Short Interval, High Intensity Exercise

MJ’s Bouldering Adventures

by MJ

Today, I started the morning with one of my favorite (non-traditional) workouts…a full hour of bouldering!

Bouldering is a version of rock climbing that brings you across the wall, instead of higher up. As a result, you don’t need a rope or a belayer and it involves a lot of flexibility and strategy (spark!)…also, you don’t get that fluttery feeling of being far away from solid ground! Its a great workout for forearms, shoulders, biceps, abs, legs…you name it!

When my hands became raw and gripping was no longer an option, I headed home for a delicious post-workout salad.

AIR for today: CHECK.
SPARK for today: CHECK.
FUEL for today: CHECK.

It’s going to be a good day.

Gearing Up for Wellness

by MJ

If I told you there was an activity that would…
a) get your heart rate up,
b) get you “sweating and panting,”
c) was not only free, but SAVED you money, and
d) was super fun

…you’d think it was too good to be true, right?!

Well guess what folks… all it takes is hopping on your BICYCLE!

It helps that I live in a mild-weathered, bike friendly town, but I literally bike everywhere I need/want to go. For groceries, to yoga class, downtown for fun events, and to coffee shops to write brilliant articles like this one!

It feels great to sling everything I need onto my back and head out for the day. Not only are you getting your movement in covertly, but it saves a ton of money on gas if you can get into a consistent routine.

Granted, some days/nights, its harder to summon the motivation to bike when the car is sitting warm and pretty in the driveway, but I absolutely NEVER regret the decision to saddle up.

Enjoy the road from a new perspective today/this week! And always be sure to have your bike lights, helmets, and warm layers at the ready. Happy cycling!

Active Recovery

by admin


Active recovery – low-intensity exercise during periods of rest between moderate to intense workouts – a small number of research findings say it positively provides benefit while a small amount of research says it is not yet possible to conclude whether or not there is significant benefit.  While it is clear that research is still growing, there are studies that have pointed to positive effects of including active recovery in training cycles. More

Situps with Abmat

by admin

  • Lay down on the floor or on a matt with ab mat supporting your lumbar spine, bend your knees until your feet are flat on the floor and anchor your feet under some dumbbells (optional).
  • Sit up off the floor without lifting your feet or butt off the ground.
  • At the top of the sit-up your back should be vertical and your eyes forward.
  • Lower your body down slowly until you are laying flat and repeat.

Active Recovery – Roll and Stretch

by admin

Complete each of the following using a foam/PVC roller, tennis/lacrosse ball, etc. as a part of your Active Recovery for the day:

    • Roll calves, hamstrings, quads, IT band, glutes, traps, biceps, triceps, shoulders, etc.
    • Spinal hygiene

  • Life Extension Exercises

  • Stretch calves, hamstrings, quads, hips, glutes, back, abs, biceps, triceps, traps, forearms, obliques

Box Jumps

by admin

  • Start with both feet on the ground in front of the box.
  • Jump on top of the box attaining full extension at the top (lock out your knees).
  •  Jump or step back down and repeat.
  • Note: You may attain full extension of your body in the air after jumping off of the box as long as it is attained while your body is still over top of the box and not behind the box.

Don’t forget, nearly all exercise is scaleble – in this case, you can modify the Box Jump to be a Box Steps or Step Downs.

And here’s Dr. Paul at age 55 doing ‘rock jumps’:

Alternating Lunges

by admin

  • Start from a standing position and lunge forward and slightly to the side with one leg.
  •  Sink your body into the lunge until your knee touches the ground.
  •  Keep your chest tall, hands on your hips, and keep your forward knee balanced over top of your foot careful not to let your knee surpass your toe.
  •  Drive back off the heel of your forward foot and return back to the top.
  •  Repeat with the other leg.