Fitter Faster: The Smart Way to Get in Shape in Just Minutes a Day

Fitter Faster: The Smart Way to Get in Shape in Just Minutes a Day


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Fitter Faster: The Smart Way to Get in Shape in Just Minutes a Day by Robert Davis

A lifetime of fitness in just minutes a day. I don't have time . . . I'm too tired . . . I hate gyms . . . These are among the most common excuses for not exercising. But the truth is that getting in shape requires less time and effort than you might think. Examining everything from pre-workout stretches to post-workout protein shakes, this science-backed book slices through fitness fads and misconceptions to reveal how you can exercise quickly and effectively. For example, is it best to exercise in the morning? Does aerobic activity burn more fat than weight lifting? You'll also learn how to get and stay motivated, what equipment to buy (and what not to waste money on), which dietary supplements really help, and how to combat muscle soreness. Fitter Faster explains how to: Find the right balance between cardio, strength, and stretching * Slash workout times with high-intensity interval training * Prevent boredom * Enhance fat-burning The accompanying Fitter Faster Plan, developed with celebrity trainer Brad Kolowich, Jr., pulls everything together. Requiring as little as 15 minutes a day, these quick workouts maximize efficiency-allowing you to reap the greatest benefit in the shortest possible time...all without ever having to set foot in a gym. With photographs illustrating each exercise routine, this eye-opening book will forever change the way you work out- and help you get fitter faster.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814437711
Publisher: AMACOM
Publication date: 05/11/2017
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 551,037
Product dimensions: 7.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Robert J. Davis, Ph.D., is an award-winning health journalist whose work has appeared on CNN, PBS, WebMD, The Huffington Post, and in The Wall Street Journal. The president of Everwell, he hosts their myth-busting "Healthy Skeptic" videos, viewed by millions each month. Brad Kolowich, Jr. is a Certified Personal Trainer whose celebrity-packed client list includes actors, athletes, and TV personalities. He has been featured in fitness magazines and recognized as one of the Best Bodies of Atlanta.

Read an Excerpt

Fitter Faster

The Smart Way to Get in Shape in Just Minutes a Day

By Robert J. Davis, Brad Kolowich Jr.


Copyright © 2017 Robert J. Davis, Ph.D.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8144-3771-1



From first grade on, it was the thing about school I hated most: Not math tests. Not mind-numbing assemblies. Not even the inedible lunches.

It was gym class.

At the all-boys elementary school that I attended, athletic prowess was considered just as important as academic achievement. Consequently, everyone was required to attend daily PE classes, which always began by our lining up and performing calisthenics like jumping jacks, sit-ups, leg lifts, burpees, and crab push-ups. As a chubby kid who didn't especially like sports or sweating, I detested all the exercises. But one I found especially odious was something dubbed "Chinese torture" by the coaches. This involved lying on our stomachs, grabbing our ankles, and rocking back and forth (an exercise that I now know is actually called a "rocking horse").

Leaning back in his chair, the head coach would bark out orders like a drill sergeant as he puffed away on a cigarette. After getting his nic fix, he would have us choose teams — I was not exactly a first-round draft pick — and then play some type of seemingly pointless game. Most often it was Cowboys and Indians (aka dodgeball) in which the object — as best I could tell — was to hurl red rubber balls at players on the other team and try to knock the crap out of them. If you got hit, you were "out" and had to go sit on the bleachers. In what you might call an auto-out, I often purposely got hit (or pretended to) within the first 30 seconds so I could escape the melee and maximize my time comfortably seated on the sidelines with my friend Daniel, who had turned me on to this trick.

My aversion to exertion and efforts to avoid it whenever possible lasted through high school. But things began to change when I got to college. There I developed an interest in health and started reading about the benefits of aerobic exercise. I began jogging, initially for just a few minutes at a time, until eventually I was able to go several miles. Over time, my distance and speed increased, and running became a regular part of my life. Eventually I became interested in other types of exercise as well and started going to the gym to lift weights.

Today I hit the running trails or work out virtually every day, doing many of those same calisthenics that I so dreaded as a child. But now I actually enjoy them and can't imagine my life without regular physical activity. At middle age, I am in the best shape of my life and am able to move my body in ways that I never could have imagined doing when I was young.

So, what changed? Well I'm still far from a star athlete and not a fan of dodgeball. But I've developed a very different relationship with physical activity. That's happened because I discovered an activity that worked for me — running — and from there was able to make exercise a regular part of my life.

And that's my goal in this book for you: to help make exercise less daunting and more doable so you can incorporate it more easily into your life.


There are lots of reasons why many of us find it so difficult to exercise. Let's start with perhaps the most common one: too little time.

Consider the official recommendations from the federal government and health authorities. We're supposed to get at least 30 minutes, five days a week, of moderate aerobic activity (meaning things like brisk walking, biking, or doubles tennis). In addition, we're told that we need two or three days a week of strength-training exercises that target all the major muscle groups. Add to that at least two or three days of stretching exercises. Phew! It can be exhausting just imagining how to fit all that in, much less doing it.

A survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that about 80 percent of American adults fail to meet both the aerobic and strength-training guidelines. That's not surprising, given the time required. The shocking part is that 20 percent manage to comply, though I suspect that a good chunk of them are stretching the truth.

Something else that keeps people from hitting the gym is that they don't like gyms. And it's easy to understand why. Working out alongside spandex-clad people with perfectly sculpted bodies can be intimidating, to say the least. And knowing what exercises to do and how to use the equipment, some of which resembles what you might find in a torture chamber, can be overwhelming. Taking classes can be a solution, but dragging yourself to a 6 A.M. boot camp or ending the day with a pedal-till-you-puke spinning class is many people's idea of hell. The fear of looking silly in front of others also keeps people away from gyms, as does the monthly cost of membership.

Then there's the problem that, for many of us, exercise itself is no fun. Or downright unbearable. That feeling is often reinforced by images we see on TV. Shows like The Biggest Loser feature overweight people forced to run on treadmills until they drop while being berated by trainers. I don't know about you, but I can think of lots of things that I'd rather do — cleaning animal cages at the zoo or sitting next to a screaming baby on an airplane among them. Infomercials for programs like P90X or Insanity make exercise look so grueling that I get exhausted just watching from my bed.


This book is about overcoming those barriers — to redefine exercise so that it's less time-consuming and intimidating, and more convenient and enjoyable. To do that, I've teamed up with personal trainer Brad Kolowich Jr., who has years of experience working with both celebrities and ordinary folks of all ages, sizes, and fitness levels.

Brad and I have developed an easy-to-follow workout plan that requires as little as 15 minutes a day. It provides aerobic, muscle-building, and fat-burning benefits that are similar to — and potentially even greater than — what you'd get from regimens two or three times longer. We accomplish this by incorporating high-intensity interval training (HIIT), in which you go hard, then easy, then hard, and so on for a total of 10 or 15 minutes instead of exercising at a constant rate for 30 minutes or longer. In addition, we use circuits for strength training, in which you move relatively quickly from one exercise to the next and thereby cut the length of your workouts. Some of our routines further increase efficiency by providing aerobic and strength benefits at the same time or working multiple muscle groups. Our regimens are designed as accordions so that on days you have extra time and want to exercise longer, you can easily do so.

All our workouts can be done at home or outdoors, which means you won't need to join a gym or worry about scheduling around gym hours or class times. You can exercise at whatever time of day or night is most convenient for you. No fancy or expensive equipment is required — just a set of dumbbells.

In addition, the Fitter Faster plan includes two key features to reduce the drudgery of exercise: choice and variety. If running on a treadmill (or running, period) isn't your thing, no worries. Within the structure we've laid out, you'll be able to choose activities you find most enjoyable, whether walking, hiking, biking, dancing, or doing yoga. What's more, the program is customizable, with beginner, intermediate, and advanced plans, so you can select a level that's right for you and challenge yourself with new exercises as you progress. Further, we mix things up with a different routine every day of the week, which will help prevent boredom.

Of course, lowering barriers is meaningless if an exercise plan doesn't produce results. Ours does. Using the workouts in this book with clients of all types, Brad has seen tremendous improvements in their endurance, strength, and body fat.

Evidence-Based Exercise

You don't have to just take our word for the effectiveness of the Fitter Faster plan. Its various components, from HIIT to circuit training to plyometrics (or jumping exercises), are backed by solid science. Lots of it. In the book, I explain the scientific basis for our approach, drawing on reams of research about the most effective methods of aerobic exercise, strength training, and stretching. (Should you wish to review any of the research yourself, there's a lengthy list of references at the end of the book.)

For me, the science is paramount. As a longtime health journalist with academic training in public health, I've spent my career digging into the evidence behind various health practices. My interest in the subject of exercise therefore isn't just personal; it's also professional, fueled by my desire and ability to sift through the science and lay out what it shows as clearly and objectively as I can.

That's especially important when it comes to exercise, a field full of fads, half-truths, and false promises. You can find plenty of self-proclaimed fitness experts on websites and in the media who offer opinions or personal experiences masquerading as evidence. When they do cite research, it may be animal studies (which often have little or no relevance to humans) or small, poorly designed studies in people.

Granted, large clinical trials that prove cause and effect can be hard to come by in exercise science, in part because of the difficulty and expense of conducting them. Still, that doesn't mean that we lack sufficient research to know what works. On many fitness-related issues there's a relatively large body of research that, when taken as a whole, yields strong evidence.

Relying on such research, Fitter Faster cuts through the hype and misinformation, telling you what's believable and what's not about various aspects of exercise. Working on the book, I've been repeatedly surprised by what the science reveals, and I suspect you'll have the same reaction to much of what I've found, including why taking 10,000 steps a day may be overrated; why stretching could be detrimental; how regularly changing your strength-training regimen can improve your results; why athletic clothing that keeps you dry may be more likely to stink; why taking painkillers before exercise could be counterproductive; and which dietary supplements are — and are not — proven to enhance workouts.

You'll also get science-backed answers to questions that many of us ask. For example, what's the best time of day to work out? Is too much exercise dangerous? Is it okay to exercise with a cold? What's the best type of exercise for burning fat? Are those ab devices on infomercials really effective? Does more sweating mean a more intense workout? Does jogging hurt your knees? What type of protein supplement is best?

By setting the record straight on a range of issues, I hope to reduce the confusion that can lead us to do the wrong things, waste time and money, and throw up our hands in frustration and say "forget it." With the knowledge that you gain from Fitter Faster, you'll be smarter about what to do (and what to ignore) and have greater confidence that you're on the right track.

The book is divided into four sections. Part I, "Get Ready," focuses on the benefits of exercise (some of which you likely haven't heard about), secrets to getting and staying motivated, and workout clothing and equipment that you'll need. Part II, "Get Smart," gives you the lowdown on each of the three components of the Fitter Faster program: aerobic exercise, strength training, and stretching. Part III, "Get More Out of Exercise," discusses what you should eat to complement your workouts and how to prevent exercise-related pain. And Part IV, "Get Going," lays out our detailed workout plans, with descriptions and photos of each exercise.


Throughout the book you'll learn about real people, from a woman in Colorado who discovered that nightly walks calmed her mind and helped her sleep, to a man in New Jersey who thought of exercise as a chore but found joy in returning to his childhood passion of playing ice hockey. Though their journeys are very different, they've all arrived at the same destination of enriched lives because of regular physical activity. It's my hope that some of their stories will inspire you to get moving or keep going.

Whether you're looking to start a fitness routine, get back into exercise, or kick up your workouts a notch, Fitter Faster can help you achieve your goals. Though our workout plan is designed for people of all ages and fitness levels, you may need to modify or avoid certain parts if you're pregnant, injured or disabled, or if you have a condition such as arthritis or heart disease. Talk to your health-care provider about how to customize the plan in a way that's safe and effective for you.

Whatever your status, if you're thinking that you're too busy, too out of shape, too overweight, too old, too unathletic, too intimidated, or too whatever to be physically active, I'm here to tell you otherwise. If I — the kid whose idea of nirvana was being excused from gym class — can exercise regularly, anyone can. And I can personally attest to what the research shows: that the rewards, both physical and mental, are enormous.

Yes, you can do it, and I'll tell you how. So let's go!


Get Ready

How to Motivate Yourself and What to Buy

Why Bother?

Before Jillian Michaels, Jack LaLanne, or Jane Fonda, there was Herodicus. While you may not recognize the name, you can credit (or blame) this Greek physician from the fifth century B.C. next time you're urged to exercise for your health.

Herodicus, who had previously been a gym teacher, promoted the then-novel concept that physical activity could keep people healthy. He recommended regimens so strenuous that they might have landed him today on his own version of one of those vomit-inducing DVD workouts.

Many doctors in his day took a dim view of Herodicus and his notions about exercise. But one who listened was his student Hippocrates, who would go on to become one of the most influential physicians in history. Building on Herodicus's teachings, Hippocrates wrote extensively about the health benefits of exercise, observing that "walking is man's best medicine." He also warned about the effects of inactivity: If parts of the body are "unused and left idle," he wrote, "they become liable to disease, defective in growth, and age quickly."

Though many who came after Hippocrates echoed his ideas, it would be more than 2,000 years before British medical researcher Jeremy Morris backed them up with solid scientific evidence. In the 1950s, he showed that double-decker bus drivers in London, who sat for most of their shifts, had more heart attacks and heart-related deaths than the conductors, who spent many of their working hours climbing stairs. (Incidentally, Morris, who acted on his findings and exercised nearly every day, lived to be 99.)

Since Morris's research, there have been thousands of other studies on exercise, and the results are irrefutable: It's good for us in multiple ways. Nothing — no pill, potion, supplement, or diet-even comes close to exercise for being able to do so much for so many people. Or likely ever will.


So what exactly can exercise do for you? Let's start with what I call the Big Six Benefits.

1. Live Longer.

Research shows that elite athletes tend to live longer than the general population. That's certainly good news for Serena Williams, Michael Phelps, and LeBron James. But what about the rest of us?

Well, luckily you don't have to be an athletic superstar for physical activity to extend your life. In fact, the biggest gains in longevity may occur when you go from being a couch potato to taking a short daily walk. When researchers pooled findings from nine studies cumulatively involving more than 120,000 people age 60 and older, they found that those who did moderately intense exercises such as brisk walking or leisurely biking for just 15 minutes a day, five days a week, had a 22 percent lower risk of dying than those who were sedentary.

Similar findings came from a study of more than 330,000 Europeans who were followed for 12 years. Compared to people who didn't exercise at all, those who burned just 100 calories a day through physical activity, which translates to 20 minutes of walking, biking, weeding the garden, or sweeping the floor, had lower mortality rates — even if they were overweight or obese.

Other research suggests that you can further boost longevity by stepping up the pace of your workouts. For example, an Australian study of more than 200,000 people showed that people who devote at least some of their exercise time to vigorous activities such as jogging, fast biking, or singles tennis live longer than those who do the same amount of less vigorous exercise. Another study, which pooled results from 80 studies involving more than a million participants, concluded that those who engaged in vigorous exercise had the lowest risk of death.


Excerpted from Fitter Faster by Robert J. Davis, Brad Kolowich Jr.. Copyright © 2017 Robert J. Davis, Ph.D.. Excerpted by permission of AMACOM.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Chapter 01 Introduction 1

Part 1 Get Ready: How to Motivate Yourself and What to Buy 7

Chapter 02 Why Bother? 9

Chapter 03 Avoid Off-Ramps 31

Chapter 04 Gear Up 45

Part 2 Get Smart: What You Need to Know about Aerobic Exercise, Strength Training, and Stretching 61

Chapter 05 Take It to Heart 63

Chapter 06 Muscle In 77

Chapter 07 Stretch Out 89

Part 3 Get More Out of Exercise: What to Eat and How to Prevent Pain 101

Chapter 08 Eat and Run 103

Chapter 09 Feel No (Bad) Pain 119

Part 4 Get Going: The Fitter Faster Plan 135

Chapter 10 The Workouts 137

References 195

Index 221

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