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2 Simple Workout Strategies to Break Through a Fat Loss Plateau

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Earlier this week we discussed 2 simple strategies you can use to break through a fat loss plateau. Today, we will discuss a few strategies you can apply to your workouts to help restart fat loss.

#1 – Switch up your Workouts

By switching up your workouts, it literally means trying something completely new. So, if you’re someone who has been walking for weight loss, perhaps it’s time to switch gears and start sprinting.

Here are some more ideas for workout “switches” –

  • Cardio Interval Training switch to Treadmill Jogging
  • Boxing-Style Training switch to Plyometrics
  • Bodyweight Circuits switch to Traditional Bodybuilding-style Training
  • Sandbag Training switch to Cardio Interval Training
  • Treadmill Jogging switch to Yoga

Some of these switches might seem strange, but the whole idea is to do the opposite.

#2 – Reduce your Rest Time

Something as simple as reducing your rest period can have a huge impact on your workout. So if you’re resting 60 seconds between each set, then rest 30 seconds between each set. You will most likely need to reduce your weight slightly, but your heart is going to be pumping. It’ll feel like you’re doing cardio and weights at the same time.

#3 – Get a Personal Trainer…or train with a partner

My girlfriend uses trainers, and it’s hard to find the right one. I’ve personally had more luck with a training partner that has similar goals as you do. Whether it be a trainer or a training partner, try to find one that isn’t afraid to yell at you. The whole purpose is to motivate you to lift more and train harder.

#4 – Take a Break

Sometimes you’re pushing so hard, and dieting so well that your body just needs a break. Remember, what you are doing is placing stress on your body and mind. Just as your body shuts down after prolonged periods of intense work, your body will stop responding if you stress it out too much.

Think about finals week, and how you feel after weeks of intense studying (or cramming). Take a week or two off from the gym. This is a schedule week off, so you’re promising yourself you’re going to return to the gym after that time period. Don’t let this turn into a permanent time off.

Use these strategies, along with the diet strategies discussed earlier this week, to finally break through your plateau!

– Parth

P.S. Today’s article was brought to you by the Shah Training Resistance Band Set. Click here to learn more.

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2 Simple Diet Strategies to Break Through a Fat Loss Plateau

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Last night I was out with a friend celebrating his recent promotion. Recently he and his wife had lost a large amount of weight – 30 and 55 lbs, respectively.

While my girlfriend and his wife shared their weight loss strategies, my friend told me something I already sort of kind of knew: “Men have it easy. It’s much easier for women. For me, I barely even tried and lost 30 pounds. It doesn’t make sense. Sure, I trained hard when I went to the gym. But I didn’t go to the gym as often as she did. And she was much stricter than me with her diet.”

Ain’t that true now?

There are a myriad of reasons why women lose fat slower than men. Today I’m going to show you some strategies you can use to break through a weight loss plateau and re-ignite your fat loss for both men and women:

#1 – Calculate your Daily Caloric Intake

Women tend to eat less while training more. My friend’s wife shared this insight: “Once I started eating more, the weight loss started again.” Then she began sharing what she had eaten for that day, and she was eating more frequently than I was! 1-2 hours, from what I can gather.

Here’s a quick and easy chart to use when calculating your caloric requirements:

 

Current Body Fat Caloric Intake
6%-12% 17Kcal per pound of LBM
12%-15% 16Kcal per pound of LBM
15.1%-19% 15Kcal per pound of LBM
19.1%-22% 14Kcal per pound of LBM
22.1% or above 13Kcal per pound of LBM

 

This chart will give you your maintenance requirements. To lose fat, eat no less than 500 calories below maintenance.

#2 – Discover your Empty Calories

Bad habits return without you realizing it. For a week, write down everything you eat and drink, and the exact times you consume it. Not just for the sake of counting calories and macronutrients, but also see where you can locate empty calories.

Here are some things you should watch out for:

  • Night out with friends – the group mentality sets in, and you end up justifying a cookie here and a frozen yogurt there.
  • Sugary beverages – at this point remove all juices from your diet. Drink only water.
  • Office snacks – there is always a birthday or special event at my workplace. Refuse. Refuse. Refuse.
  • Late night snacking – sometimes you work late, and end up munching on random snacks. If you’re going to munch, make it protein.
  • Sweetened breakfast – oatmeal and certain cereals are great for you, but if they are sweetened, take a look at how they are sweetened. Opt for the un-sweetened brand.

Take these two basic steps with your nutrition, and see your fat loss reignite. Later this week, I will share 2 simple workout strategies to break through a fat loss plateau. Stay tuned!

 – Parth

P.S. This article was brought to you by “Do This To Burn Fat” by Mike Geary and Jeff Anderson. Click here to learn more.

 

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Circuit Training Karate Style

My Sensei (Karate instructor) used to do a circuit training workout with us once a month. This workout was for the hard-hitters: a group 10 – 15 guys (and a few girls). The Circuit Training workouts were the type of workouts I enjoyed and looked forward too. They were painful and I loved the feeling of my entire body covered in sweat. By the time your were done, you would have sweat pouring into your eyes. Many times, when it was cold outside, the windows would fog up due to all the heat being generated in the dojo.

Image by IndyWeek.com

Yup….those were the days.

Circuit training at the dojo was very simple. You stick to one station for about 3 minutes, then move onto the next station. In the middle of the workout, Sensei would make us drop and do about 20-30 push-ups. His words were, “You improve when you’re tired.”

Following the same principles of dojo circuit training, I have come up with the following workout:

  • Station One: Perform any variation of push-ups for the time allotted
  • Station Two: Alternated between bent-over rows, and push press, 95lbs
  • Station Three: Jump Roping
  • Station Four: Free Standing Heavy Bag Punching

You are to perform three rounds of this workout in the following manner:

  • Round One: 1 minute at each station
  • Round Two: 2 minutes at each station
  • Round Three: 3 minutes at each station

Try it out and get back to me!

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The Truth about Building Huge Arms

A lot of trainees want big arms, but what most of them do not know is that you need to put on about 15 pounds of muscle all over your body in order to put on just a half inch of mass on your arms. Well, actually I don’t know the exact ratio, but think about it for a second. Have you ever seen a guy with big arms not be a big guy over all? Just imagine someone with big arms, but no chest, back, shoulders, or legs to speak of.

Image by ELAREE

My suggestion is to start off with a full body routine, then steadily transition to a split body program so you can specialize on your arms further. Here is a sample template to help you out:

Months 1-3: Full body workout

  • Start off with a basic full body workout routine, performing it 2-3 days per week. If you’re performing a full body routine more than three days per week, then it is wise to have multiple full body routines so that you are not performing the same exercises on an incredible high frequency

Months 3-6: Upper/Lower Split

  • After three months of full body workouts, split your body in half. Train your upper body on one day, and train your lower body on the second day. You can use a 2-day, 3-day, o 4 day split with this program
  • In order to complete a three-day split, you can perform an Upper Body workout on Monday and Friday, and a lower body workout on Wednesday. In the following week, switch it up and perform a Lower Body workout on Monday and Friday, and a upper Body workout on Wednesday.

Months 7-9: Push/Pull/Legs

  • Push means that you perform an upper body exercise which requires you “pushing” something away from the body. Examples include push ups and bench press. Pull means that you perform an upper body exercise which requires you “pulling” something away from the body. Examples include pull ups and bent over row.
  • On the third day, work your lower body. The suggestion is to use a different workout than you did in months 3-6.

Months 10-12: Arms/Back/Chest/Legs

  • It’s finally time to specialize. Start the week off with the muscle group you’re targeting, which arms. This workout should comprise of two to three isolation exercises for the biceps and triceps.
  • Second and third day will involve training the back and chest. You will probably using many of the similar exercise from your push and pull workouts.
  • Once again, on the last day with legs, design a different workout other than the ones that you have been performing thus far.

As you can see, this is a year-long program. I’m not going to sit here and lie to you about building muscle. It takes time. There is no short-cut path to building incredible arms in six weeks. This program is for those that want to train and eat the right way. For the rest of you, go pick up a bodybuilding magazine.

One of the best practical bodweight programs out there is the Bodyweight Exercise Revolution:

Bodyweight Exercise Revolution

Bodyweight Exercise Revolution is based off the Circular Strength Training system. In other words, hit your body from as many angles as possible. This is beyond basic pushups, pullups, and bodyweight squats.
Click here for more info

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Intermediate Strength-Training Plan

Are your strength gains declining?

Don’t worry.

It’s normal.

As you progress, your body will adapt to what you put it through. This means that you’ll become more efficient at the lifts you perform. To get past the sticking point, change the lifts you do, change your rep/set scheme, and change your intensity level.

The Lifts

Workout A:

  • Bench Press
  • Reverse Grip Bent Over Rows
  • Push Jerk

Workout B:

  • Back Squat
  • Clean Pull

Compare this routine with last month’s beginner program. Keep in mind that these are the only lifts you are to perform.

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A Basic Primer on Testosterone for Females

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In response to my “Three Intense Bodyweight Workouts for Females,” article, Neena Longia wrote: “I’d like to say that the article was great, but I’d like to suggest that you explain more in depth what high levels of testosterone really does to a females body, because I can guarantee that most women don’t know that they carry both estrogen and testosterone, but the testosterone is in a small amount compared to the estrogen, and how women in some ways do benefit from some testosterone, just as a side note letting the readers know that testosterone isn’t bad for women!”

Here is my response:

An Introduction to Testosterone

Testosterone is a steroid hormone produced in both men and women that plays a vital role in the maintenance of health, well-being, and sexual function. The hormone also boosts one’s appetite, fuels the immune system and helps build lean muscle mass.

Women produce about one-tenth the testosterone of the amount naturally found in men. Normal testosterone levels will help women look, feel, and perform better from day to day. The hormone has been linked to helping treatment with Osteoporosis (weak bones). Fibrocystic Breast Disease, and Breast Cancer.

Despite the gender differences, testosterone is required in both men and women for the same reasons: to generate more energy, reduce body fat, increase lean muscle mass, maintain healthy libido, and to improve mood.

Many women find it frustrating that men often can control their weight more easily and even lose more weight when following the same weight loss program. This has to do with the amount of muscle mass found in men. Extra muscle helps men burn up to 30 percent more calories than women, and can even help increase the level of testosterone found naturally in men.

Testosterone Research

The research on testosterone for women is very mixed. Studies have found that improving testosterone deficiencies by using some sort of supplement can boost mood and sexual health, but other studies have also found that high levels of testosterone can triple heart risks for older women.

In a study conducted by Dr. Karen Miller, an endocrinologist and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, 51 premenopausal women with below-normal or undetectable levels of testosterone were randomly assigned to either a placebo or Proctor & Gamble’s testosterone patch, Intrinsa, which has not yet received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for use by American women. During the one-year trial, women on the testosterone patch showed improvements in mood, sexual function and quality of life.

The findings in this study are very important in understanding the role testosterone plays in women, however Dr. Miller also stated that the study did not deal with women with normal testosterone levels. She stated that supplemental testosterone in women with normal levels may have unwanted side effects such as increased facial and body hair.

Dr. Anne R. Cappola, an assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania, conducted a study, which found that high testosterone levels in older women are a predictor of cardiovascular disease. In this study, Cappola and colleagues measured testosterone levels in 344 women, aged 65 to 98 years. They found that women who had the highest testosterone levels were three times more likely to have heart disease compared with women who had lower testosterone levels. However, they also found that women with the lowest testosterone levels were also at a higher risk of heart disease compared with women who had testosterone levels in the midrange.

Last December, the FDA voted against the approval of Intrinsa for women with lower than normal testosterone levels, citing insufficient long-term safety data. To me, it is clear that normal testosterone levels are a vital component to long-term health.

Checking Testosterone Levels

My suggestion is that you get a blood test done to determine if your testosterone levels are normal. For men, a normal testosterone level is 350 – 1200 ng/dl (nanograms per deciliter). For women, a healthy number could be 35 ng/dl to 120 ng/dl. However, it is best to speak to your physician about these numbers. When you get your blood test done, you will see a range right next to your number, which will tell you if you fall within the healthy range.

If you are unable to get a blood test done anytime soon, then there are certain symptoms associated with a low testosterone count. These include feeling tired for no reason, loss of interest in sex, uncontrollable fat gain, and mood swings.

This is great feedback from Neena, and the kind of feedback I urge all of you to send to me. There are many modes of communication, including posting to comments, sending me a facebook message, or simply sending an email to shah@shahtraining.com.

For further reading:

Testosterone Offers Women Benefits, Risks
How To Increase Testosterone Level
Women and Testosterone
How To Increase Testosterone Level
Women and Testosterone

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Use Supersets Training to Torch Those Love Handles

 

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Stubborn fat is a bitch. Through my years of through research, I’ve discovered that there is only one real way to destroy stubborn fat: make your workouts more intense! Work harder. Sweat like you’ve never sweat before, and really kill yourself under those weights.

My all time favorite training methods is superset training. Superset training is a common bodybuilding method where two or more exercises are performed one after another. There are many ways you can set up a superset workout. Here are some of the more popular methods:

  • Work the Same Muscle – Perform two different exercisess for the same muscle group.  – Example: set of pushups followed by set of decline pushups.
  • Isolation/Compound - Perform an isolation movement, followed by a compound movement. – Example: set of drag curls followed by set of power cleans.
  • Antagonistic Supersets – Perform two different exercises for opposing body-parts. – Example: set of pushups followed by a set of pullups
  • Upper Body/Lower Body – Perform a set of an upper body exercise, followed by a lower body exercise. – Example: set of pushups followed by a set of squats
  • In-Set/ Hybrid Moves – Combine two movements that flow well together and work them in a set. – Example: combine pushups and squat jumps to create burpees

Benefits of Superset Training:

  • Allows you to perform the same amount of work in a shorter period of time.
  • Adds excitement to your workout, and prevents boredom
  • Provides an incredible muscle pump, causing greater muscle growth
  • Allows you to train like an athlete forcing you to work hard

Why Superset Training Helps you Burn Fat and Build Muscle

The muscle pump you feel is Lactic Acid production. Lactic acid is a major player in the way our bodies generate energy during exercise.

What is Lactic Acid?

  • Formed from the breakdown of glucose when glucose from dietary carbohydrates reaches muscle after bypassing the liver and entering general circulation.
    • Goes back into the blood and returns to the liver. Here it is used to make liver glycogen.
    • Known as the “Glucose Paradox.”

What does Lactic Acid Do?

  • Fuels glucose and glycogen production in the liver
  • Helps us use dietary carbohydrates more efficiently
  • Serves as a quick energy fuel preferred by the heart and muscles
  • Important to mechanisms involved in how we adapt to stress
  • Important key to athletic success in high intensity sports
  • Stimulates testosterone production
  • Signals release of human growth hormone from pituitary gland
  • Can be transported between cells to supply additional energy for work

Why Do I feel the Burning?

  • The burning sensation comes from hydrogen ion, the acid in lactic acid which interferes with electrical signals in nerve and muscle tissue. Hydrogen ion is made when lactic acid splits into lactate ion, and hydrogen ion.
  • When Lactic Acid enters our blood faster than our ability to remove or control it, hydrogen ions begin to lower the pH of muscle, creating an acidic environment. This process interferes with our performance.

superset training

What is HGH?

  • Human Growth Hormone, or HGH is a naturally producing hormone in our bodies.
  • Plays an important role in regulation of body fat levels, immune system, muscle mass, recovery, and other bodily functions.
  • HGH is present in the body at a rate of 500 micrograms in the blood between the ages of 20 and 30.
  • As you age, HGH in our bodies starts to decline, leading to a steady loss of muscle mass, skin elasticity, fat gain, and many other physical changes.
  • The daily production falls below 60 micrograms at age 80.
  • Produced by the anterior pituitary gland, stimulated by the Hypothalamus.

Benefits of HGH

  • Promotes and increases the synthesis of new protein tissues. This aids in muscle recovery and repair.
  • Involved in the metabolism of body-fat and it’s conversion to energy.
  • Improves sleep patterns.
  • Produces more energy.
  • Improves sexual performance.
  • Build stronger bones, and reduces osteoporosis.
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves cholesterol profiles
  • Slows aging
  • Reduces the risk of Developing Type 2 diabetes

The Connection Between Supersets, Lactic Acid, and Growth Hormone

  • Short, intense bursts of exercise work best to stimulate the natural production of growth hormone.
  • Supersets training is a form of intense exercise which releases Lactic Acid as a method of providing energy for the muscles
  • When Lactic Acid splits into a lactate ion and hydrogen ion, the hydrogen ions begin to lower the pH of muscle, creating an acidic environment, as discussed earlier.
  • When the pH is lowered, it triggers a release of HGH as a way to aid in muscle recovery and repair.
  • The more HGH you release, the bigger and leaner you’ll get.


How can I Design a Supersets Training Program?

  • Best method for fat loss is to use upper/lower split
  • For a three-day per week program, Choose six exercises, 3 upper body and 3 lower body
  • For each day, choose one upper body exercise and one lower body exercise.
  • Organize the exercises using the templates below

Superset Training Templates

  • Perform 21-15-9 repetitions of each
  • Perform 3 rounds for time
  • Perform 4 rounds for time
  • Perform 5 rounds for time
  • Perform maximum rounds in 20 minutes
  • Perform 50-40-30-20-10 reps of each
  • Use inverse pyramid scheme, such as 10-1, 9-2, 8-3, etc.

BONUS TIP: Hybrid Superset Training

  • A hybrid is a movement where two or more exercises that flow well together are combined to form a new exercise.
  • Some examples include burpees (push-ups + squat jump), thruster (front squat + press), and sumo deadlift high pull (sumo deadlift + close-grip upright row).
  • These movements can be seen as being a form of supersets, as they incorporate two different movements performed back to back without rest.
  • Hybrid Superset training is simply performing two Hybrid movements back to back as supersets.

Since you’re serious about losing fat, you already work hard. If you’ve been pushing it hard in the gym, then just push a little bit harder. There is no other way around it. Be patient, and keep going.

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Double Kettlebell Complex Workout – Mr. Clean Squared

 

Description

Use this double kettlebell complex to pack on metabolism-spiking muscle to burn fat over the holidays.

STEPS

  • Use 2 kettlebells of the same size that you can comfortably press for 6-8 reps.

Perform the following complex without putting the kettlebell down

  • Double KB Clean x 5
  • Double KB Front Squat x 4
  • Double KB Clean x 5
  • Double KB Press x 3
  • Double KB Clean x 5
  • Double KB Front Squat x 2
  • Double KB Clean x 5
  • Double KB Press x 1
  • Double KB Clean x 5

Rest 90 seconds between complexes

Perform 3-5 rounds of this complex?

 

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Beginner Strength-Training Plan

Image by Steve Collins Photography

Strength is the backbone of every goal. Whether you want to lose fat, build muscle, improve your health, or become a superior athlete, strength is where it all starts. I have created a 12-week program to help you improve your strength levels. This workout is a beginner program. The lifts in this routine can be learned rather easily. However, I still recommend that you proceed with caution. Try to get an advanced lifter check your form.

The program resembles many of the great programs out there today such as Bill Starr’s 5X5, Stronglifts 5X5, and Starting Strength. What makes it unique, in my opinion, is really in the progression. I believe that you can not add weight indefinitely, or increase volume indefinitely, or use straight sets indefinitely, or use the same rest between sets indefinitely.

You will be asked to attempt to increase the weight each time, but we’re going to push things along by steadily increasing the number of sets performed, decreasing the number of reps performed, decreasing your rest periods, and decreasing the number of exercises performed.

Lets start off with the basic template:

Workout A:

  • Push Press
  • Bent Over Row

Workout B:

  • Front Squat
  • Deadlift

Train 3 days a week, performing Workout A on Day 1, Workout B on Day 2, and then Workout A again on Day 3. Continue the cycle the following week with Workout B on Day 1, Workout A on Day 2, and Workout B again on Day 3.

Use the following 12-week progression plan:

Month One

Sets: 5

Reps: 5

Rest: 2-3 minutes

Start off with performing 5 repetitions for each set for 5 sets total. Rest 2-3 minutes.

Month Two

Sets: 5

Reps: 5

Rest: 1-2 minutes

In the second month, drop the rest periods to 1-2 minutes. You may need to drop weight initially, but don’t worry, you’ll regain strength quickly.

Month Three

Sets: 3

Reps: 8

Rest: 1-2 minutes

Switch to 8 rep sets. Once again, you may need to reduce weight initially, but will regain strength quickly. Also remember to keep you rest periods between 1-2 minutes.

In the grand scheme of things, don’t get too caught up in the sets, reps, or rest periods. As you lift, you will learn how to listen to your body. If you find that at the end of your session, you can lift more, then feel free to pump out a few more sets, but make sure to increase weight in your next session. The goal is here is to get a challenging workout and get stronger.

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Hello world.
3 unique veggies that FIGHT abdominal fat? (surprising fat-fighters)

We have a great article for you today from one of our trusted nutrition experts… this article details how some of the chemicals (such as xenoestrogens) that we are being exposed to (from pesticides, herbicides, plastics, our water supply, etc) have been linked to what’s been termed “stubborn abdominal fat”, and how a specific class of veggies helps to combat this problem.

Read the article below to find out an interesting way to protect yourself from “xenoestrogens” and help you get a flatter stomach:

>> 3 Unique veggies that FIGHT Abdominal Fat (surprising fat-fighters that help to counteract “xenoestrogens”)

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