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  1. For those of you who haven't seen my recent challenges, they have been a bit...scattered. Mostly they end up reverting to running and counting net carbs. The start of the year everything was more focused - beat the blood sugar monster and reverse Type II diabetes. While I'm still working on that one, the end of this last challenge had my blood sugar numbers averaging under 100 for the last couple of weeks. This despite the fact that my exercise goals have been ping-ponging all over the place and the ability to focus has been non-existent. So we're going to try to change that with more of a plan. I don't know if it's already an acronym or not, but as I laid these out I realized they spelled out NEST. Hmm, not sure its a good acronym as I'm not sure what it gets at (building a foundation? a new life home? a comfy place??????) but what the hell, let's go with it! I'll even move it into the title and bold the first letters of each category! (stream of consciousness goal setting and I wonder why my mind has been scattered lately) Nutrition This is working for now, so I'm not going to change too much initially. If I'm too tired or not recovering as well as I think I should, I might look to add more to some of my macros. Total carbs under 100 grams per day, protein around 150 grams per day and the rest will be fats (no trans fats and poly unsaturated fats should be kept to a minimum). Find/create some quick and easy low carb smoothie recipes for breakfasts on the go. This will be especially helpful when the kids go back to school in September and my mornings get crunched for time. +1 point for each day the macros are hit and +1 point for each new recipe tried. 36 points possible (28 for macros and 10 for smoothies) Exercise The context here is that the running and net carb counting has helped me drop 30+ pounds over the last 9 months. While my heart, lungs and blood-work are much improved, my strength (as well as my ability to do things other than running) is lacking. So, I'm going to try to set the foundation for the upcoming months of getting stronger. Resistance training 3x/week - This could be body weight training, weight lifting, etc. But, something that requires me to use more muscles than my legs, heart and diaphragm. Running 2x/week - I'm cutting this back but not out. I enjoy it too much to get rid of it. Could be some sprinting, slower distances or a temp run. But, just get outside and move quicker than walking from point A to point B. Interval/circuit training will be some component in each of the above workouts. I will somehow integrate them together to keep things fun and interesting and then post them here to be kept honest. +1 point for each instance of exercise completed. 28 possible (I'm not counting zero week) Sleep I've been bad lately about staying up too late and then getting up and expecting to function. I've done okay in the mornings but run out of steam as the day wears on. Could be caloric intake, but during a week of vacation last challenge where I got almost 8 hours of sleep a day, I didn't have that problem. During vacation I slept in. Now I need to go earn a living, so I need to go to bed earlier at night. Be in bed by 10:30 each night as a goal. No phones/tablets/computers after 9 PM. +1 point for each nighttime routine completed successfully for a total of 28 points. Time management I can't stay focused without being organized. Being organized is something I suck at. So, baby steps. 10 minutes each day checking/planning the day's calendar. Can be simply looking it over to make sure I have things set in my mind, or it could be time boxing my day planning it out. But, this is to avoid not being prepared when something pops up on my screen saying I have something going on in 15 minutes. 15 minutes each week checking/planning the week's calendar. Ideally, this will be Sunday night (starting at 8:45 PM at the latest) getting the week mapped out. +.5 point for each day and week for a total of 16 points.
  2. Overview / Motivation: I'm very excited for this challenge since I may need to do some temporary overhauls to my challenges for a while after this one. My wife and I are expecting baby #2 around April 20th, so I'm anticipating needing to go into maintenance mode for a while during our adjustment period to no sleep and increased craziness. To add to that fun, I am working to launch my blog before the baby comes as well, so likely during this challenge. So in the meantime, let's push some weights around and get after it! Main Quest: Hit the following benchmarks in strength and stamina: Bench Press 250 lbs. Squat 250 lbs. Complete 20 Pull Ups Side Quests: Average 3 Weight Training Sessions & 1 Heavy Bag-Resistance Band Circuit / Week Points Potential: STR+5 Grading A= Average > 90% B= Average > 80% C= Average > 70% D= Average > 60% F= Average < 60% Complete 2 NerdFitness Yoga Sessions / Week Points Potential: DEX+3 Grading: A= Average > 90% B= Average > 80% C= Average > 70% D= Average > 60% F= Average < 60% Average Running 2 Miles / Week Points Potential: STA+2 Grading A= Average > 90% B= Average > 80% C= Average > 70% D= Average > 60% F= Average < 60% Life Quest: Read Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win by Jocko Willink & Leif Babin Points Potential: WIS+5 A= Read > 90% B= Read > 80% C= Read > 70% F= Read < 70%
  3. I have been working for days to come up with a good challenge theme and I just wasn't having any of it, so I figured my birthday coming up (tomorrow) would be a good way to reflect and set some new goals up for the year. Reflections/Plans: As some of you know I started work on opening a fitness apparel online shop with a friend (updates on this to come soon, we have our first official design created and I seriously can't wait to show you guys). This was in part due to the fact that I want to move home to MI, and need to find ways of making a decent income once I get there. My second idea has been to start training people, and maybe run a set of cross training type classes. I know I have the passion for it, and I have learned a lot (yet have a lot left to learn) so I spoke to my trainer about it and he had no hesitation in saying I was good enough to train people. My current self-imposed issue is I don't look like a trainer because I don't know that I would go to someone who didn't. The initial plan is to get back up to MI in June of next year, so I have 1 year to get into a better physical form and learn all I can from my trainer about the business and see what certifications would be best for me. For my plan to work I need to focus on 4 main things, and honestly these may be my goals for far longer than this 4 week challenge. Goal 1: Training Plan for a 6 day program, 3 days strength/circuit training, 2 days cardio, 1 day stretching, and 1 rest day. Goal 2: Drink water like it's going out of style. A minimum of 64 oz every day. I have made this easy to track because my boyfriend got me a bucket of gatorade (took like a week to drink it, and he was helping) which is 64oz. I have to empty that at the least every day. Goal 3: Find a proper nutrition plan that doesn't hinder training, but is also effective for weight loss. The Ketogenic diet worked really well at losing weight, but I was exhausted all the time, didn't have any want to eat, and lost some decent strength. I need to find a more balanced approach that I can stick with long term, and maybe it will eventually help others Goal 4: Get my Ducks in a row. In order to be able to move up north again I will need to pay off any frivolous debt and practice living on a smaller scaled budget. We will also need some training in home repair/fixing up, and sell both our places. So this will be a multi functional goal. Part 1: Debt payoff plan, and proper grocery allowance followed. Set a debt payoff plan that is manageable (because I am known to be overzealous in paying off debt so I have to use a CC to get gas, ect....), and find a proper grocery budget and follow it.
  4. As per my usual in 2016, its the third day of the challenge and I'm getting my thread started. Meh, I've been busy. But, let's get to it. Last challenge I mastered my late night snacking tendencies after limiting them in my first challenge. I'm not going to make that a goal, but intend to keep it going. I've also been soda free since the start of the last challenge, but I'm going to continue that goal. Those 2 things plus the training has my weight down 5.5 pounds in 2016 and has my 5K time down by about 30 seconds per mile. So, let's kick that up a notch. Goal #1 While continuing to limit the late night snacking I'm setting my sights on the other part of my day that is near sleepy times -- the morning. I have a tendency to hit the drive thru for some coffee on the way to work. That wouldn't be so bad, except while sitting in line I will usually decide that I need something to eat to go along with the coffee. I speak from lots of experience, there are no healthy foods available in any drive thru. So, my goal is to eliminate the drive thru food. My plan is to attack it the way I did with snacking after 9 PM. So, for this challenge, I'm limiting myself to once per week and the next challenge I'll eliminate them completely. Goal #2 Continuing the no soda goal. Goal #3 Continuing the plan. We're on to the second month of the plan, which means new exercises but the same overall program layout. I'm feeling stronger and faster on my runs. Additionally, I haven't had any of the injuries I typically get when jumping into a new routine. So, I'm just following the plan. Goal #4. I failed at this goal last time, but, I'm going to try to do it this month. 1 blog post per week for the length of the challenge. So, 4 posts this challenge.
  5. I guess I'm used to having a week between challenges and am behind on setting this challenge up. So, let's get to it. A cold derailed my last week of the last challenge, but I have found the path I plan on following back to fitness. Doing what I felt like doing helped me (re)discover what type of training fits me. That includes circuits with lots of volume for my lifts and sprint intervals. I like running, but for me its more of an enjoyment of being outside and communing with nature. Using it as a form of exercise doesn't work. I'll still go for some runs, but they are not going to count towards any kind of training. GOAL #1 - Diet Zero late night snacking. Last challenge I limited myself to 2 nights a week with eating after 9 PM. This challenge there will be no exceptions. GOAL #2 - Diet No soda at all. Lent starts during this challenge so I might as well start a little early with what I was planning on removing for Lent. Last challenge I allowed myself to have diet soda, but this time no soda at all. GOAL#3 - Training Following Back to Fit program that involves 4 days of weightlifting circuits, 2 days of sprint intervals and 1 rest day. I will maintain compliance with the program for the course of this challenge (and hopefully more challenges to come) GOAL #4 - Level up 1 post a week in the blog. I respawned my blog last challenge. Now I need to get consistent with it. So, 1 new post each week.
  6. Hi everyone! I have plateaued and I need help changing my workout routine. I currently do soccer once a week, cycling twice a week, and barre and yoga once a week. I want to substitute pilates for barre and add weight training into my routine but I have some questions. 1. Can I do pilates on Monday and weight training on Tuesday? I know your muscles need a rest between strength days but I thought that this might call for an exception as pilates works your muscles differently from traditional weight training. 2. [more specific] Can I do pilates on Monday and a metabolic conditioning class on Tuesday? The description of this class is: "This class centers on high intensity interval training and includes a mix of cardio, balance, coordination, core, strength, and sports condition exercises." Thank you!
  7. Disclaimer: I do not own this content. This post is taken from this website. I am posting it here because I think it is a very valuable approach to lifting. Over the past six months as a personal trainer, I’ve really stepped up my game. As a result, I’m seeing better progress than ever before, and my clients are thrilled. How did I do it? It’s all about the program design. Don’t get me wrong, there are many ways to be effective as a personal trainer. I have friends who plan all of their clients’ training sessions out for months on end, and other friends who wing every workout, never knowing what they’re going to do with the client until he or she walks through the door. I’ve always had good success as a trainer by adopting a flexible approach that allowed for autoregulation, but recently I moved to a more structured approach. Let me tell you a bit more about this approach. I feel that this system will help you improve the results you get with your clients. How do I know? Because I recently used this same system on myself to help me break the 600-lb deadlift barrier (it took me 6 years to get there). In addition, my clients’ strength catapulted when I implemented this plan, with every single lifter setting major PRs in all of their main lifts. To follow this plan, all you’ll need to do is follow three simple steps. Step One: Maximal Effort Lift Pick a big lift. My favorites include back squats, front squats, deadlifts, block pulls, bench press, military press, close grip bench, and floor press, but many options can work, and these lifts will depend on the client. There’s certainly nothing wrong with putting Bulgarian split squats, goblet squats, Romanian deadlifts, trap bar deadlifts, barbell hip thrusts, chin ups, dumbbell bench press, or push press into this category. After the dynamic warm-up, have the client perform one of these lifts. Have them perform a few progressively heavier warm-up sets before their work sets. You are going to keep track of their personal records (PRs), and you will have them perform three total working sets. The caveat is that you will keep track of a variety of set-and-rep schemes in order to give the client plenty of opportunities to set a PR. I like 3 sets of 5 reps, 3 sets of 3 reps, and 3 sets of 1 rep for my favorite set and rep schemes, but many more will work. These PRs are your clients’ indicators of progress. What can they front squat for 3 sets of 3? What can then close grip bench for 3 sets of 5 reps? What can they deadlift for 3 maximal singles? You want to hone in on these numbers and get the clients to be interested in them, as the stronger they get, the better their physiques will look (assuming their nutrition is on point). I have a chart that I made on Word that tracks these PRs, and I review it with the client regularly. Step Two: Submaximal Effort Lift After they’ve performed their maximal effort work for the day, you’re going to move onto submaximal effort work. The point of submaximal work is to use lighter loading and stay far away from muscular failure. This is your chance to really groove technique and get in some extra volume without compromising recovery. Pick a different lift from the same exercises mentioned above. Then pick a submaximal effort method. My personal favorite is the super-strict method, whereby the lifter executes the rep with impeccable form and utilizes a smooth tempo, thereby effectively making a lighter load “feel†challenging. I also love pause reps, where you pause for 3 seconds and then finish the rep. In this case, you’ll pause at strategic positions, such as at the chest for bench, an inch above the ground for deadlifts, and at parallel for squats. Finally, you have explosive reps, whereby you perform the lifts with maximum acceleration. No matter which of the three submaximal methods you choose, you’re going to utilize the same loading parameters. Load up the bar to between 60% and 80% of your client’s 1RM. Now have them perform 3 sets of 1-5 reps, and remember, they’re going to use perfect form here. You might be thinking to yourself, “this seems too light to produce results.†Think again. Many top powerlifters such as Fred Hatfield, Andy Bolton, Sam Byrd, and Mike Tuscherer have utilized these submaximal methods with incredible success. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! Step Three: Accessory Lifts At this point, you’re going to have your clients perform their accessory lifts for the day. Good options here include posterior chain movements, single leg movements, isolation movements, and core stability exercises. Pick three exercises and have the client perform 2-3 sets of 8-20 reps for each movement. The goal is not so much to set PRs on these lifts, but rather to maximally feel the right muscles doing the job. You want the clients to feel the burn and obtain a pump, so keep the reps fairly high and the rest times fairly low. You might choose a barbell glute bridge, seated row, and Pallof press for one session, a dumbbell back extension, dumbbell curl, and band tricep extension for another session, and a reverse lunge, lateral raise, and RKC plank for another session. Many options will fit the bill here. Examples I’ll list two examples to help clarify any conclusion: Day One Back squat 3 x 5 (maximal effort) Block pull 3 x 3 (super-strict method) Single leg hip thrust 3 x 10 Chin up 3 x 6 Side plank 2 x 30 sec Day Two Military press 3 x 1 (maximal effort) Front squat 3 x 5 (pause reps) Kettlebell swing 3 x 10 Dumbbell bench press 2 x 10 Seated row 2 x 10 Simple, but Effective I’ve found that four sessions per week in this manner elicits the best results. Of course, you’ll need to plan the sessions so that they allow for full recovery and so that they hit the entire body over the course of the week, but that part is pretty easy. Focus on setting PRs and building strength for 6 straight weeks, then plan for a deload week and repeat. Give the system a try and see what you and your clients think.
  8. Hello All, I have been following the nerd fitness site for 6 months now and love the concept of leveling up your life. I have been involved in sports and fitness all my life and now make my living as a Personal Trainer. I also love video games and quest driven books and think I would be just as happy making my living playing Skyrim. However, Skyrim can be a bit addictive so I have sold my xbox and have decided to level up my life, my fitness and the bad ass character I am going to make on Nerd Fitness. I've never been one to contribute to forms or websites but I am looking forward to being a part of this great community and contributing my fitness knowledge to help others where possible.
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