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My goal is to hand you a program with a strategy that works for you now and will continue to work for the rest of your life. That goal is achieved with a simple combination of cardiovascular exercise, resistance training, and flexibility work, combined with healthy eating. It's not a complicated plan. The people I work with want simplicity and results, and that's what you'll get here.
The plan I'm offering you is the same one I do myself. I work out with free weights, body weight, and resistance bands for 45 to 55 minutes 2 or 3 days a week at my home. Biceps curls, shoulder presses, lunges, situps, and pushups, plus a healthy dose of unusual exercises (you'll learn them here!), will challenge your balance, flexibility, core strength, and endurance. And ladies, speaking of pushups, for those of you who claim you can't do a standard pushup, I'll have you doing at least 10 before you finish this book! For cardio, I do 45 to 50 minutes 2 days a week, with as many different types of aerobic moves as I can cram into that time period. Yoga and stretching are musts for me, as is a hard-core plyometric interval routine that hammers my legs and glutes.
One of the main reasons why I stay fit is so that I can participate in the sports I love. Every Sunday morning, I head down to the original Muscle Beach near my home in Santa Monica, California, to meet up with a group of friends for an outdoor gymnastics session. We turn basic pullups, pushups, and situps into a much more intense combination of plyometric pullups, swing hand-stands, and 25-foot rope climbs (hands only and upside down), plus isometric core exercises. We even throw in a backflip or two.
On an occasional Wednesday night, I meet up with a group to go rock climbing. Every fall, I get together with ski buddies and work on ways to get our legs ready for the slopes. To me, there's nothing better than the great outdoors. The sports I enjoy most involve clean air, gorgeous views, and climbing up or ripping down pristine mountains. I also try to mix in other activities like in-line skating, table tennis, basketball, and mountain biking. When I'm at the beach or skiing, I'm one with my surroundings, happy as a clam and at peace with life. Participating in sports is a fun way to enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle. (Note to self for next book: Find out if clams are really happy. If an active lifestyle is the secret to happiness, consider using the phrase "happy as a hummingbird.")
And so, the program in this book is built around what I do—and what I know works, based on the results of thousands of men and women who have experienced amazing life changes using my programs. This program revolves around four key principles.
PRINCIPLE # 1: Individualization
A big reason why so many people have trouble staying on track is that they get caught up in the latest trend and don't focus on what they need as individuals. Your fitness choices should play to your "exercise personality." (We all have one, even if it has never been tapped into.) You may be someone who hates exercise, but you know you need to get moving. Gyms intimidate you. You think sweating is gross, and you've never had an athletic day in your life. Or maybe you're someone who exercises sporadically and the results have come at a snail's pace, if at all. Yes, I'm sure you have a ton of good excuses as to why your workouts have been hit or miss, but I can counter with a million more good reasons to be consistent--one of the most important being how you think and feel every day of the week, not just once in a while.
Maybe you're someone who loves to exercise, but you don't have the right formula. Chances are you've been wasting money on gym memberships and trainers who aren't giving you the results you've been looking for. You feel as if you've been doing everything "right," but you're frustrated by your lack of progress. I will show you how you can save tons of time, money, and energy by getting the best workouts possible right in your own home.
Perhaps the pleasures—and the benefits—have been lost on you because you've had nothing but negative experiences with working out and dieting. In my work as a trainer, I've found that many people exercise for the wrong reasons, or they don't do what's right for them, so they give up. Whether you're a busy mom with only minutes to spare or an athlete looking for peak performance, you will find something in this program to fit your needs and meet your goals. You see, exercise isn't a one-size-fits-all prescription. I design unique fitness programs for each person I train. Just pumping out generic workouts won't cut it. If I create a fitness program customized for a client's individual fitness preferences, physical condition, goals, and lifestyle, the odds are he or she will stay motivated and stick with it. Motivation is huge in helping you stay committed to this program so that positive long-term lifestyle changes can happen. When you choose the fitness program designed for your personality, you'll get excited about your potential.
PRINCIPLE #2: Periodization Training
We all need some excitement in our lives. When it comes to working out, we tend to appreciate familiarity and remain loyal to what works for us, but it's important to venture outside of our comfort zones and try different things that offer different benefits. The same principle applies to our relationships, work situations, and other choices in life. Well, I can't tell you how to heat up your love life (not in this book anyway), but in terms of exercise, if you've been training for a while and your progress has stopped or your workouts have gotten stale, I will certainly put some zing back into your training (which will make it trainzing?).
Anytime you present your body with a new physical challenge, it starts to respond in positive ways almost immediately. But when you do a physical task repeatedly, your body figures out a way to become more efficient and expends less energy. The result? The dreaded plateau. Your body will naturally stall as your fitness routine becomes second nature. This is what many people experience with traditional fitness programs: Your exercise sequence leads to a stalemate—no more growth, an increased risk of injuries, and less fat-burning.
Well, there will be no plateaus here—only continual, nonstop progress. Here's why: Each workout in this book incorporates some form of periodization training.
Periodization training doesn't sound like your typical workout term. It sounds more like a grammar rule you never bothered to memorize in fourth- grade English class. Put succinctly, periodization training is a protocol designed to avoid plateaus and produce continued gains. Your body will typically adjust to the specific stress you give it, but varying your regimen through periodization training forces it to adapt again and grow in the process. If you want a new or continued adaptation, you must do something new or continually add a different type of stress to your system.
Periodization training makes that happen by manipulating five fitness variables: volume, cycles, intensity, frequency, and active rest.
Volume is how much time you spend exercising aerobically or the load of weight lifted (dumbbells, bands, or body weight) multiplied by repetitions. You'll be changing up your volume as you progress through each workout. And no, you won't need a calculator or degree in algebra.
Cycles describe sections of your workout--specifically, macro-cycles and micro-cycles. A macro-cycle in this book lasts 6 weeks and is broken down into weekly training emphases (micro-cycles). The goal of the macro-cycle is to maximize adaptation and thus prevent plateaus. Basically, you'll advance from easier workouts that use lighter weights to progressively heavier weights and more reps per exercise set. Unlike traditional exercise programs, which either keep the repetitions the same throughout the year or may go through different rep ranges in one workout, periodization training alters resistance and rep considerations. These regular changes not only provide differing emphases on your muscles but also keep your enthusiasm up and boredom at bay.
Intensity is the level of effort you put forth. During cardio training, working out at a particular percentage of your heart rate is an indicator of intensity. In resistance training, intensity can be determined by working with maximum load for a certain number of repetitions.
Frequency is a darn good movie with Dennis Quaid. It also refers to the number of training sessions per day, week, or month. For example, the old standard has been 3 days per week, but I'm going to show you the benefits of working out most days of the week, starting with 20 minutes a day and progressing to 55 minutes a day.
Active rest is not a time of inactivity but a transition period that allows the body to rest before it begins another micro-cycle of training. Active rest includes physical activities that pump up the fun, such as sports, cycling, swimming, dance, and yoga. In the next chapter, I'll help you identify the activities that are the best fit for you.
With periodization training, you'll learn how to make your muscles do unexpected and unfamiliar things, or familiar things in unexpected ways so that you keep burning fat and your fitness curve continues to climb skyward. You'll learn how to continually challenge your muscles into responding—the secret behind getting results. Your body doesn't respond to repetition; it responds to novelty. Often, people assume the key to persevering is to master one or two workouts, when, in fact, monotony is often a huge reason for failure. I advocate variety: Shake it up and do something different every day. You want it, I've got it: cardio, strength, flexibility, balance work, belly and core exercises, and plenty of muscle sculpting. It's all in here. It's a form of physical chess. Your body doesn't know what's coming next and is constantly stimulated to change and forced to adapt to that change. Boredom and injuries are eliminated because volume, cycles, intensity, frequency, and active rest won't let them happen.
And instead of working each body part individually, like many other workout programs suggest, I combine exercises so you get an all-in-one body-toning, muscle-sculpting, fat-burning workout. Think of it as multitasking for your muscles.
In addition, your body will constantly face new challenges. This workout is not about simply checking off boxes and advancing from one level to the next. In fact, it's a little like rock climbing—filled with challenging, ever-changing "terrain" and surprises. The unfamiliarity of a variety of different exercise techniques will help your body burn fat continuously, stimulate new muscle growth, protect connective tissue, prevent boredom, and get you into the best shape of your life. A vast majority of my moves and exercises are extreme and dynamic—nothing is stale or boring, I promise. I'll give you the most effective, varied routines imaginable, regardless of whether you have an hour or just 20 minutes to devote to exercise. Even if you hate exercise now, you're going to develop a true passion for fitness.
PRINCIPLE #3: Progression
The exercise personality test in Chapter 2 will help you figure out your current fitness level and the program best suited to your needs. I've designed workouts for three levels of fitness: Beginners, Strivers, and Warriors. No matter which program you select, you'll see improvements in how you feel and look within the first week. That's because I'm going to give you a unique three-tiered program, with specific strategies to help you advance your fitness level.
Each program contains core conditioning, cardio workouts, interval training, resistance training, and flexibility exercises. You'll progress within each of these workouts, starting with Phase 1 routines and moving right up to more intense Phase 2 routines. If you're a Beginner, I'll show you how to move up to Striver and ultimately to Warrior. Same goes for Strivers; you'll progress to a Warrior. If you start as a Warrior, you'll experience the kind of results you've been dreaming about. This three- tiered approach is great for everyone, from first timers to highly advanced fitness buffs. The secret is simple: Change the routines, amp up the intensity, and bask in the results. As your overall level of health and fitness improves, so will your physique, mood, strength, flexibility, balance, and self-esteem.
If you follow this program as I've designed it, you'll discover something very powerful: You are tougher than you think! This is the number one piece of feedback I get from people who buy my DVDs and attend my fitness camps and seminars. It turns out that a lot of folks aren't giving their all. The truth is, people aren't seeing results because they barely put in 50 percent, let alone 110.
Take Brian, for example. At the age of 45, he'd spent most of his life being obese and unhappy. He'd tried every fad diet and gimmick imaginable, only to experience temporary success. "I shouldn't even call it success," he told me. "I should call it failure, because I always ended up heavier than when I started." Sadly, one of the "gimmicks" Brian tried was the fen- phen drug combination, popular in the early 1990s. It caused so much damage to his heart that he was able to receive compensation from a class-action lawsuit filed against the drug company.
By October 2008, Brian tipped the scales at 308 pounds. Disgusted with himself, he cleaned up his diet and was able to lose some of the weight. But he soon hit a plateau and wasn't losing a £d or an inch. Brian considered trying P90X but feared that it would be "too intense." He overcame his reluctance and bought it anyway. He struggled a little when he started out and made plenty of modifications to suit his fitness level, but within 4 short months (during which he progressed to more challenging routines), Brian stripped off another 102 £ds and now weighs in at a fit 185 £ds. And there's more to his story: Brian reports that he's now in "awesome health"--no more high blood pressure and no more joint pain. Brian, like most people, learned that he was tougher than he'd ever imagined.
PRINCIPLE #4: Cleanse-Nourish-Supplement
My eating plan places an emphasis on foods that make you feel good and look good; that is, they boost energy, enhance immunity, promote mental clarity, brighten mood, and improve general health. These very same foods will also help you look your best; they keep your body's fat-burning process going 24/7 while simultaneously supporting the growth of long, lean muscle and promoting healthy, glowing skin, hair, and other aspects of your outer appearance.