Tag Archives: Workout

The Iron Horse Goes to Siberia — A Good News Story!


Trying to get in a solid workout while on the road can sometimes be more than a little tricky. If your work has you travel a lot throughout the year, that can create some real issues when it comes to making good on your long-term fitness goals. The secret, of course, lies in trusting and thriving upon your own creativity.

Last week, I promised to share a proven whole-body fitness program geared toward maximizing fat loss while minimizing muscle loss. I’ll make good on that next week, but first I want to illustrate the importance of creativity when it comes to “making due” while on the road.

That hotel gym is useless! Or is it?

We’ve all been there. You walk into your hotel (underwhelmed by the lobby’s 1970s decor) and warily inquire about the house fitness facilities advertised online. The manager points to a darkened hallway and surmises a workout machine might exist down that way. “No promises.”

So you cut through the cobwebbed tunnel of despair and find your way to what might once have been called the “fitness room.” It looks like something out of a Tolstoy novel, only somehow a little worse because you know you’re not actually in Communist Russia…or in prison.

Behold! In a darkened corner sits the rusted hulk of a very dated Universal gym. Most of the components are either missing or broken. “Impossible,” you say. No point in even trying, right? Might as well take your chances in the hotel’s lobby bar for happy hour.

Wrong answer! There’s hope yet for any gym situation. It’s all about creativity.

Remember that scene in Rocky XXXVII where the Iron Horse (Sylvester Stallone) is lifting weights in an old barn prepping for the next biggest fight of his life against the largest Swedish Russian in history? Well…whilst his juiced-up opponent Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) trains with the best equipment Cold War money can buy, Rocky is literally slinging boulders around from the barn’s rafters.

The Italian Stallion made due with what Siberia had to offer. Old Leo would have been so proud (in a sorrowful kind of way). Who won, you ask? No spoilers here…

And the moral of the story is…

Think about that the next time all the other hotels are booked and you’re forced into an inn with less-than-optimal fitness facilities. Your next workout should only be limited by your own creativity. Adapt and overcome. Flexibility is key.

Oh…and start traveling with some resistance bands. Resistance bands are relatively cheap, quite safe, and can be highly effective when used properly. You can find a lot of quality workouts with just a quick Google search.

Until next time…

Warmest Regards,

Image Source: Wikipedia


This Workout Stinks!


Hot, humid, and stinky!

Huh? More after the jump…

Paying it forward! That old meme again…

In previous posts, I’ve hit on the importance of paying it forward with regard to nutrition, rest, and physical performance. The underlying idea, of course, is that how one treats his or her body during a given 24-hour period largely determines physical performance during the next 24-hour period. Pretty simple.

I’ve intentionally experimented with this in the past in order to really buy into it myself. Eat junk food one day; perform to a certain level the next. Switch that 48 hours later with a focus on healthy foods, and performance levels increase the following day. Same thing goes for getting insufficient and sufficient amounts of sleep–5 hours of sleep produces one level of performance the following day, while 7 – 8 hours produces another effect. Again…too easy.

What I’ve failed to mention is how environmental conditions can affect one’s performance.

Drop the gym membership–DIY…

As much as I appreciate my home gym (particularly while I’m experimenting with P90X), there are some elements of my gym that must change and without haste.


I’m a do-it-yourself kind of guy, so I naturally built my own workout area. Nothing fancy. Just enough space and equipment to challenge the gladiator within. I know Spartacus trained in the hot and humid conditions of the Mediterranean, but did he train right next to his garbage can?

Feng shui? Perhaps not…

An obvious oversight, I failed to take into account how potent a stew the extreme temperatures of the southwest coupled with organic refuse such as veggies, fish, chicken, and whatever else goes into the garbage can all make when given 3 days to meld with one another in my garage. Did I mention the ventilation system I installed in there? Of course not, because I’ve done no such thing.

Needless to say, my workout this morning suffered a bit. Sure I knocked it out. Sure I got in a few more reps than last week. But I know it would have been even more righteous given a better, healthier workout environment.


My short-term solution: move the garbage outside the garage. Of course long term that means I need to build an outdoor housing area for it. I’m on it…soon. For now, it’s up to the street critters to figure out how to open the lid.

Coming up…

I’m getting ready to take some much-needed time off from work. I cannot wait! Wednesday, we’ll talk about the importance of R&R as it pertains to overall health and wellness.

Until then, I hope you are ll making progress toward your mid-term fitness goals. This is the third week. By next week, if you’ve really stuck to it, you should definitely see some tangible results. From there, it’s time to refocus on some short-term goals. The cycle continues like that as you forge ahead on your journey to actualizing those mega goals. Keep up the great work!

Warmest Regards,

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Feed The Beast!

As promised, today we talk pre-workout nutrition. But first, I want to make something very clear to anyone reading this:

I am not a nutrition expert–certified or otherwise. I am also not a world-class athlete, nor do I anticipate every attempting to become one. What you read on my blog is a healthy, common sense, every guy or gal approach to fitness and fitness nutrition. It is based on nearly 20 years of adult life experience, which includes both formal (thanks, military) and self education on the subject. If you feel your current health picture is not so good, I highly encourage you to speak with a certified/registered nutritionist or other qualified health professional such as your primary care physician. He or she can team up with you to establish a healthy and safe approach to recovery that is unique to your specific needs and lifestyle.

Okay! Like I stated above, these are just a few common sense things you can do to get a little more out of your current workout routines. Regardless of what physical activities you engage in, nutrition plays a huge role in your performance. What’s more, nutrition not only influences how well you do something, but also how much you get out of what you do. Remember…pay it forward.

Should I eat before a workout, and if so, when?

For that question, check out “To eat or not to eat…” from last week’s discussion.

Okay. I’ve decided to eat before working out. Now what?

I’d first recommend not eating anything within a two-hour window of starting your routine. If you opt for a protein shake, juice or smoothie, you probably don’t need to give it more than an hour to settle. A lot of that, of course, depends on what time of day you choose to exercise, what type of exercise you choose, and your personal preference (eating just before a workout just doesn’t seem to negatively affect some folks).

My Morning Routine

When I get up early to hit the weights at the gym, I choose not to eat anything first. I will, though, sometimes have a pre-workout supplement (powder mix such as Vega Sport’s Natural Plant-Based Pre-Workout Energizer). We can talk specific pre-workout supplements in a later post.

The important thing to keep in mind is that if you are going to work out in the morning, either get up early enough to mostly digest what you eat, or just work out on an empty stomach. If you’re really running on fumes, though (i.e. you skipped dinner last night), try to reschedule your workout if at all possible until after you’ve had a chance to take in some calories.

Also, be sure to eat something within 30 min of workout completion (ideally something higher in protein). Finally, if you’re not well hydrated, regardless of when you workout, you’ll almost certainly feel sluggish and weaker than normal. So stay hydrated. Too easy…

That’s good for the morning, but how about daytime or evening workouts?

When I take a “working lunch” at the gym, I obviously will have eaten something for breakfast and probably even a mid-morning snack. I pay attention to what those meals are, when I eat them, and how they might influence the quality of my workout. You should, too, but don’t make it more complicated than it has to be.

KISS – Keep It Super Simple

Instead of getting into the technical mumbo jumbo about which foods are most ideal pre-workout foods, let’s just keep it simple:

  • Eat healthy foods in lower quantity before your workouts
  • Eat healthy foods in somewhat greater quantity after your workouts
  • If you feel extremely tired during your workout, eat a little more next time.
  • Just be sure to stay within your daily calorie target. There are a lot of resources out there for that. Here’s one to try: FreeDieting.com. Bottom line: pay attention to your body and be willing to adjust your calorie intake up or down as needed.

    It really can’t be that simple, Aj…

    Honestly, it really can and it is that simple…once you see it for what it really is: it’s a lifestyle; not a specialized diet or exercise routine.

    Ask yourself this: Do I want to be a world-class athlete?

      If the answer is “Yes”: Please send me a quick note to say “hi” before looking elsewhere for information on becoming a world-class athlete.
      If the answer is “No” or even “Dude…I don’t know. Maybe” : Then just focus first on being as healthy as you can be without making it so time and thought intensive that it becomes a chore before it even has a chance to become lifestyle.

    Wait. What? I thought you were gonna…

    Still, some folks may read all this and say, “Wow. What a disappointment. I was hoping for a menu and prescribed formula for a tight midsection and killer guns!” Well…you can go pick up a copy of your favorite fitness magazine.

    That’s not me being snarky (man I like that word!). I’m serious. If you are really ready to take your current plan to the next level, several popular health and fitness magazines offer up some highly effective nutrition tips. I may discuss some more advanced stuff at some point, but for now…this is all “basic training” stuff. Establish your baseline and improve from there.

    For the rest of you, here’s what I’ll do:

      Tomorrow’s post will be a little shorter but will provide you with a list of some of my favorite meals for days of high physical output–breakfast, lunch, dinner and anything in between.

    With that, I’ll sign off for the day with another, fresh Aj-ism to ponder:

    How do you eat an elephant?

    You don’t. You follow it around because a creature that big knows where the really nutritious stuff is.

    Warmest Regards


    To Eat, or Not To Eat… That Is The Question!

    A co-worker asked me today:

    Should I eat something before exercise? Our morning workouts are tough on me. I’m just not up-and-running at that time. I prefer afternoon workouts, but obviously thats not always an option for me. What do you suggest? – or something like that…

    Awesome question!

    As I was doing yard work this past Sunday, I tuned into episode 151 of The FitCast: Fitness and Nutrition Podcast via iTunes. I wasn’t expecting profound info to smack me in the face, but boy did it!

    Portions of the podcast include questions sent in by listeners. I can’t help but wonder if my co-worker didn’t send the same question to them that he asked me today. What’s more likely, I suppose, is that his question is just that common.

    Feed me, Seymour!

    The answer given in the podcast was…basically…eat something. Almost anything will do. The point made was spectacular! When you fail to eat enough in a day (and fasting overnight counts), you limit your total output capacity. That is to say, you can only give your workouts as much energy as you take in…and then a little more.

    I have led small group morning workout sessions that leave me looking for egress routes as hordes stare vacantly at me as seen in Shaun of The Dead. Without having to ask, I pretty much know why certain folks are so zombified during PT.

    Pay It Forward!

    What I told my co-worker (one of those working out dead during my AM PT sessions), is that a lot of how you feel in the morning depends on how you lived the day before (regardless of when you workout).

    If your active, like my co-worker, shoot for twelve (12) 8oz glasses of water a day. Also…get enough sleep. Five to six hours for active bodies really isn’t enough…especially when you’re well into your 30s already (join the club, bro).

    I wanted to be sure I hadn’t led him astray, so I typed into Google, “Should I eat b…” That’s as far as I got before Google recommended an article from the Mayo Clinic. One thing that caught my eye right off:

    1. Eat a healthy breakfast

    If you exercise in the morning, get up early enough to eat breakfast — that may mean one to two hours before your workout. Most of the energy you got from dinner the previous night is used up by morning, and your blood sugar may be low. If you don’t eat, you may feel sluggish or lightheaded when you exercise. If you plan to exercise within an hour after breakfast, eat a lighter breakfast or drink something to raise your blood sugar, such as a sports drink. Emphasize carbohydrates for maximum energy.

    Good breakfast options include:

    Whole-grain cereals or bread
    Low-fat milk

    Ladies and Gentlemen: The Self-Licking Ice Cream Cone!

    Going back to another point made in The FitCast, creating a calorie deficit (i.e. when your daily caloric intake is lower than your daily calorie expenditures) is necessary for fat loss; however, when your deficit is too great, you are capable of doing less in the gym. That translates to fewer calories burned, which, in turn, may mean that even the limited caloric intake may be too much for successful fat loss. That makes for quite a vicious cycle. It might seem a little confusing, but give it some thought.

    More importantly, experiment with this. Pay attention next time you work out on an empty stomach, on a full stomach, after no sleep, after lots of sleep, when under-hydrated, when sufficiently hydrated, and so forth. Really listen to your body. Not everyone is the same. Personally, i like working out on an empty stomach, but I also pay it forward by eating right most of the time (we all mess up from time to time).

    Once you have a frame of reference for how you perform under certain conditions, you need to do something with that new info. Otherwise, it was all (excuse the pun) an exercise in futility.

    Great question, co-worker!