The Get Micah Ready For Hawaii Project is officially over so I know the question on everyone’s mind is: How did he do? One word: Great! Here’s a breakdown of the results along with an explanation of the method to the madness:
Let’s go over Micah’s goals again: To get more defined abs and pecs (which translates into: Lose body fat (specifically in the abdominal area) and gain some muscle mass so he can have more sculpted pecs and abs). But before that, watch the final video!
My initial plan (as you can remember from our introductory video) was to start out with three weeks of muscular endurance and interval training followed by strength and hypertrophy training. This ended up changing a bit as we started to work together.
I decided to focus primarily on posture. All of us have muscular imbalances that throw off our posture in one way or another. I’d say the most common postural issues we see nowadays are hunched over shoulders from sitting at the computer all day as well as super tight hip flexors or super tight hamstrings (or both) from sitting all day which tilt our pelvises either forward or backward. These issues can all cause crazy things to happen up and down the body and until those issues are addressed, I believe it is irresponsible to throw in super heavy in an effort to “get big pecs”.
When we started training, Micah was hunched over with rounded shoulders. This caused his upper/mid-back muscles to be lengthened and his chest and lats to be really tight (but not necessarily strong). In order for Micah to have stand-out pecs, we first had to get his shoulders and chest to open up and his back to get a bit stronger.
Micah’s pelvis also happens to be rotated forward a bit. This usually causes a few things: stretched out hamstrings, stretched out abs and a really scrunched up low back. In order to try to pull that pelvis into a more neutral position, we had to focus on strengthening his core and hamstrings. With two sessions per week together for a relatively short amount of time, I chose to focus primarily on his upper body, core stability and keeping his heart rate up to maximize the calorie burn.
This kind of work takes longer than the seven weeks we had but I think you can see a pretty great postural difference in these pictures (I added black lines to trace his alignment from his ear to his hips so you can see the progress more clearly; you ultimately want a straight line down from ear to shoulder to hip):
So with all that said, here are Micah’s numerical results!
· 4 lbs lost – ALL BODY FAT!
· Down to 13.85% body fat which is less than 1% away from going from a “fitness” level to “athlete” level!
· Skin fold testing showed losses at all sites but the most significant loss was at the abdominal site (4 mm lost).
· Circumference testing showed 2 inches lost around his waist, 2 inches lost around his hips and 2.5 inches gained around his chest!
Muscle mass remained the same before and after which means Micah did a great job with his nutrition (specifically post-workout) so that his lean muscle could recover after workouts and not break itself down (see this post for an explanation). Micah’s fat loss and postural corrections alone make Micah’s pecs and abs stand out more than they did seven weeks ago.
Should Micah decide he wants to get more buff, I would suggest that he continue with the interval training to get even lower in body fat but to slowly add in more intense strength training coupled with a stricter diet heavier on the lean protein and choosy on the carbs and fat.
I hope these last 7 weeks have proven that the way to get a six pack and pecs does not happen by doing pushups and crunches all day. Putting together a program that addresses the individual’s needs and wants is tricky and I believe it is best to consult with a fitness professional before embarking on any new fitness regimen so you can avoid injury and get the results you want!
I hope you’ve enjoyed these last few weeks as much as I have. If you’d like to know more about IzzyFit Personal Training and how personal training might benefit you, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-497-8999.
We're at The Final Countdown! One more week to train until Micah's off to Hawaii! This means we need to get the biggest bang for our buck during the hour-long sessions we have left to help Micah lose fat and gain muscle. Here's how we're doing it: straight-up metabolic training. Metabolic training is essentially working with intervals. Very simply put, the combination of doing exercises with some intensity (low/moderate/high depending on how fit the individual is) followed by specific periods of rest can lead the body to a state of "oxygen debt". This makes the body work ultra hard AFTER the workout to get back to its resting state which means the body will need to burn calories until it gets there. This can sometimes take up to 48 hours. Talk about getting the biggest bang for your buck! (By the way, this is formally called EPOC: excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.)
Intervals have been our bread and butter since Week 1. They can be done in a variety of ways including:
The great thing about interval training is that it can be done by anyone! The key is to know the appropriate intensity, work:rest ratio and proper exercises so that your training doesn't lead to injury. Done improperly, interval training can be incredibly harmful, so always seek out the opinion of a health professional before you incorporate this into your workout regimen.
Speaking of injuries: everyone needs to avoid them (duh) so getting a good dynamic warmup in and incorporating "maintenance" exercises (like the tube internal and external rotations at the beginning of the video) are super important. High-intensity exercise takes a toll on the body so it needs some TLC before jumping into the meat of the workout. Cool downs and stretching post-workout are also key.
The next video will be the final one and in that blog entry I'll outline the complete method to the madness. In the meantime, enjoy Weeks 5 & 6!
Week 4 of the Micah Project is actually a mashup of pre-Christmas and pre-New Year's workouts. As you all know, Micah's goals are to get more defined and bigger pecs and 6-pack abs. If you asked the general population how they might achieve those goals, you'd probably hear "lots of crunches and pushups". And while you might see a lot of core exercises (not so many crunches) and chest exercises, there is a lot more to think of in order to achieve these goals. (And, BTW, crunches will not get you 6-pack abs. More on that next week.) Here are a few things I like to keep in mind when training Micah:
POSTURE: I like to do an equal amount of back exercises to chest exercises with Micah because he doesn't have the best posture (the ratio is usually 1:1 and sometimes 2:1 back:chest). Doing chest exercises alone would aggravate that hunched-over position Micah tends to carry himself in which would pretty much hide Micah's pecs completely in the long run. As you'll see, we alternated bench presses with rows, pushups with lat pulldowns.
SHOULDER HEALTH: Micah had a shoulder injury some years ago and his shoulder acts up from time to time. If anyone wants a stronger upper body, they HAVE to focus on keeping their shoulders as healthy as possible. Micah and I spend a lot of time with shoulder stability and mobility exercises (seen in the stability ball circle and plank to rotation exercises, among others).
TOTAL BODY EXERCISES: In order for someone to see more defined muscles, they need to melt some fat! One of the best things you can do to get to that goal is to incorporate some total body movements. Some of my favorites are single arm dumbbell cleans to presses and kettlebell swings.
Without further ado, here is Week 4!
I left Micah with a few tasks while I went on holiday: 1. Keep working out; 2. Don't completely overload on yummy Christmas food; and 3. Please write a guest blog because I think people would love to get your side of the story. Micah rules because he did it all! Without further ado, here is Micah's blog entry! Enjoy!
"When I began working with Izzy I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew is that I really wanted to get in shape and I needed a jump-start.
Honestly I’ve never had a girl train me and I had my reservations. But, why wouldn’t I? I’ve worked out plenty of times on my own and have seen people give up when things got hard. That’s just not me. In fact, I'm the opposite! I’ll set some stationary row machine to a setting and tell myself that I’ll go hard for 10 minutes and try to keep it above whatever number. Well, when things get going I’ll find myself push those numbers up and increase the difficulty level and time. By the end I’m exhausted and loving it. I knew I didn't need someone to push me that way but I did want some guidance before my upcoming trip to Hawaii.
Here are some things Izzy has taught me or reinforced in my mind so far:
I’m only 3 ½ weeks into a 6-7 week workout plan and I can see Izzy’s wisdom. When I wanted to go full speed she slowed me down and made me focus on form. She was building up tendon and ligament strength that I wouldn’t have done on my own. I probably would have also sustained an injury or two, but she has kept me away from that. She has revved the engine and now we are beginning to hit the weights! I’m beginning to see results and it’s pretty exciting.
It’s been a blast so far!
We introduced some strength training in Week 3! It was very exciting :)
I kept some good core stabilization and shoulder health exercises in like the straight leg raises, Ys Ts As and Wall Angels (which are a LOT harder than they look). I didn't shoot some exercises since I was spotting so you didn't get to see pretty awesome bench dumbbell presses but you will in Week 4!
Micah did 3 sets of 8-12 reps with weights heavy enough for him to feel fatigued by that 8th-12th rep. I'm a stickler for form so once form starts to break down, it's time to end the exercise (even if rep 8 hasn't been reached).
Micah's ankle was feeling a little tender this week so to err on the side of caution, I made him do some intervals on the bike (which were still wicked hard), some cardio blasts that weren't too much of a burden on the ankle (that would also help strengthen it), and then he ended with one more set of intervals on the elliptical before cooling down.
Micah was pretty tired on Wednesday when we trained. He hadn't slept well the night before and hadn't eaten in a few hours before the workout. I'm bringing this up for a few reasons:
Week 3 was great! The holidays are around the corner and Micah will be on his own for some of weeks 4 and 5 so the next post will focus on what to do when you are on your own! In the meantime, enjoy the Week 3 video!
This week, we continued on with building the base of muscular endurance, core stability and doing circuits filled with cardio blasts and plyometrics.
We started Week 2 with a few exercises I believe are absolutely essential to anyone who wants to move and feel better.
The dead bugs and birddogs are two core exercises are a few of the "building blocks" to get a strong core that can support your spine. When I talk about the "core", I'm not just talking about abs. I'm talking about the torso from C1 all the way down to your pelvis to your booty. The spine is your most important asset; it houses your central nervous system! You want to do everything you can to protect it. No matter what your goal is, if you don't have a strong core, you're asking for injury. This is why I spend so much time at the start of any training program on core stability.
Micah injured one of his rotator cuff muscles years ago. Rotator cuff injuries and tears are very common and the causes vary greatly. Since Micah's goals are to gain more lean muscle mass in his upper body, I need to make sure his shoulders stay really healthy as training gets harder. The tube external rotation exercise (2 sets of 15-20 reps) and the hitch-hikers (also 2 sets of 15-20 reps) are two of many excellent exercises you can do to get those muscles and tendons ready to bear more weight in the future. Micah has rounded shoulders so those two specific exercises will help counteract that and help to open up his chest.
The rest of the resistance exercises were also done for 2 sets of 15 reps. Micah recently suffered an ankle injury so adding in some single leg exercises really helps his foot stabilizers work. Research has shown that balance work like this reduces the likelihood for future ankle injuries. Plus, it makes the exercise he's doing more challenging :) You can try this when you do any upper body excises!
The rest of Week 2 centered around quick bursts of cardio and plyometric exercises. Plyometrics are tricky to work into training programs because a good base of strength needs to exist. Micah has a lot of lower body strength already so I felt confident about adding these exercises in. Research has shown that plyometrics aid in helping the ankle get stronger so this is not only giving him tremendous calorie burn but it's going to help him not re-injure his ankle. These exercises were done in a circuit two times for 45-60 seconds each with about a 60-second break between circuits. Whew!
So that was Week 2! Enjoy the video!
We are about to enter Week 2 but I thought I'd give you a little recap of Week 1! After doing some movement and strength assessments with Micah, I was ready to design a program. Although Micah is relatively fit, I felt it necessary to start with muscular endurance protocols for Weeks 1-3. This means using weight that is light enough for Micah to get to 15-20 repetitions twice. Starting with muscular endurance training will not only get Micah's muscles prepared to bear heavier weights when we get into strength training going into Week 4 but will also strengthen his tendons and ligaments to prevent injury. It's also a great way to torch some calories :)
We trained twice in Week 1: Day 1 focused on weight training (using dumbbells, the lat pulldown machine and body weight) with some cardio blasts. Day 2 focused on core exercises and interval training. Needless to say, Micah was a bit tired after these workouts. The great thing is, though, that his body will go through tremendous adaptations in these next 6 weeks and if we were to do these same workouts Week 7, my guess is they would be wicked easy.
So here's the thing for those of you who are looking to get leaner and more toned: Riding the stationary bike or elliptical machine for 60 minutes at one pace is not doing you ANY favors. If you're going to spend an hour at the gym, wouldn't you want to get the most bang for your buck? Get your heart rate up during your entire workout! Incorporate some high-intensity cardio blasts where you feel like you can't go anymore after 30-60 seconds and slow it down for 30-90 seconds and then repeat about 10 more times. On a scale from 1-10 (1 = sitting on a couch and 10 = running away from a pack of wolves), you should be around an 8 during the high intensity portion and a 6 when you slow it down a little. You can also do some weight training exercises in between your intervals. This kind of training makes your body work super hard not only during the workout but for hours AFTER so you're burning calories for much longer than just the time you're in the gym (this is called EPOC: Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption). When you're leisurely reading your magazine on a cardio machine for 60 minutes, you're only burning a few calories while you're on the machine and nothing after.
So check out what Micah did this week (outside of winning two soccer games!). A lot of these exercises don't require equipment so try incorporating them into your own workouts! Enjoy!
My friend Micah Valentine came to me a few weeks ago with a question: Could I get him 6-pack abs and a bulging chest in 6 weeks before he goes to Hawaii on vacation with his family? My answer: Let's get working and we'll find out!
Micah is generally in good shape. He's always been athletic and currently plays soccer; he's a father of three adorable little girls so he does a lot of running around. That said, he's been feeling a little flabby lately and is driven to do what it takes to feel comfortable in his swim trunks.
You will all be getting to know Micah a bit until he goes to Hawaii at the end of January. As an intro, I thought I'd post a few "before" photos so we have of where he's starting:
I also got a new handy-dandy video camera so we're going to be using it a lot to show you how we're going to get Micah to Beach Body Dude. In fact, we made a video to introduce you to Micah!
I hope you have fun getting to know Micah! We'll be blogging here to tell you about his progress but please click here to "Like" IzzyFit on Facebook and click here to follow IzzyFit on Twitter. AND you can now officially subscribe to IzzyFit YouTube channel by clicking here!
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