How to Get the Right Mindset to Lose Weight - How to Recondition your Thoughts to Lose Weight Fast

How to Get the Right Mindset to Lose Weight - How to Recondition your Thoughts to Lose Weight Fast

3 Mindset Shifts That Help Weight Loss

In a recent Facebook thread about weight loss that I was following, one commenter wrote that if she could write a diet book, she’d call it “Eat Less” and then leave all the pages blank. Drop the mic, call it a day, solve our obesity mess with a two-word prescription.

3 Mindset Shifts That Help Weight Loss

Most of us who have read anything about diets, obesity, and weight loss would nod in agreement. We have too much food, too much sugar, too many processed foods, and too many choices. And the reality is that we could likely engineer a one-size-fits-most diet that would push everybody back to healthy weights. Example: Eggs and berries for breakfast, grilled chicken salad with nuts for lunch, and fish with vegetables and avocado for dinner might get us there if we followed that plan every day (adjusting for variables like vegetarian options and allergies). Most of us who have read anything about diets, obesity and weight loss would also agree that it’s nowhere near that easy.

The diet dilemma has everything to with food. And nothing to do with food.

It really has more to do with adjusting our mindset so that healthy choices feel right—and don’t feel like deprivation, hard work or punishment.

I’ve spent most of my career writing about health, and I’ve spent most of my life in a bleep-off relationship with the scale. I’ve had quite a few lows (almost ballooning to 300 pounds while writing diet books, getting a D in sixth-grade gym class), and I’ve also had some successes. (For what it’s worth, our individual definitions of weight-loss success need to include not just pounds, but also things like bodily satisfaction, life satisfaction, numbers like blood pressure and achievement of other goals not associated with pounds.)

We all have the ability to change our mindsets—not with a tire-squealing hard left, but by simply drifting into a new lane of thinking. These 3 switches will help you start:

Reverse the leadership model. The protocol for people who want to lose weight typically comes in two forms. You have the people who seclude themselves, privately trying to swim upstream against all of the forces that will make them gain weight. And you have the follow-the-leader model, in which the would-be dieter listens to the plan/advice/program of the trainer, the doctor, the nutritionist, the author, the infomercial-machine-seller: the person who, by degree or some other definition, knows more about the subject than anybody else. There’s nothing inherently wrong with either model, because either of them can work.

The glitch, however, comes when the follower grows tired of following. And when one grows tired of following, one consumes three pieces of Oreo pie. It’s not that the experts don’t know what they’re doing, because most of the many I’ve worked with and interviewed in my career do. It’s just that we dieters, though most don’t even know it, need a more balanced mix of following and leading. We need to harness some of the power and control back from the people who are telling us what to do. We need to lead, even if we don’t look like we should.

Leadership can come in many forms, whether it’s being the person to arrange the neighborhood walking group, or the person who prepares the family meal and makes kale chips instead of buying chocolate chips, or the person who organizes a work team to run a 5K together. The last couple years, I’ve organized weekly workouts with friends and neighbors. I’m the worst athlete in the bunch, so at first glance, the question would be, Why is blubber boy in charge? Exactly zero percent of my friends have ever given me any inclination that’s what they felt. Instead, the dynamics of the group workout are that we all push and pull each other, no matter our athletic abilities. I know I’m not as good as the others, but I also know that these workouts don’t happen unless I kickstart them.

Dieters can redefine the roles we’re supposed to take, and that’s what drives changes in the way we think and act. This is where sustained energy comes from—what we deliver to others, we get in return.

Steer the fear. In the weight-loss world, fear is almost as bad of a word as pudding. We fear the scale. We fear the doctor. We fear shopping for clothes. We fear the camera. We fear being embarrassed. The more we fear, the more we retreat—and the harder it is to climb out of whatever destructive habits we have.

As someone who once was told I had child-bearing hips, I know that the fear is real, and I know it’s not easy to squash. But instead of letting fear steer us, we need to steer the fear.

Plenty of scholarly and popular writings have addressed the issue of goal-setting, though there is some debate about whether we should set dream-big goals or more attainable goals. My take: Every year, you should set at least one physical and mental challenge that scares you just enough to help you make good choices—because those choices are a means to reaching that goal. What is “just enough”? It’s that spot right in between “of course I can do this” and “no way in the world can I do this.” For me, it was taking on the challenge of trying to complete an Ironman in 2013 (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run in a 17-hour time limit). I’ve found that the canyon in the middle of those two extremes is where the growth lies. Maybe it’s not fear in the traditional sense, but that bubbling angst of uncertainty feels different from and healthier than the kind of fear that dieters tend to have.

Crank the voltage. As someone who has finished last in a race (maybe two, but who’s counting?), I do subscribe to the turtle-inspired mantra of slow and steady. When it comes to weight loss, that mindset will win the race. The choices we make over time, not one day or one hour, dictate the way that our bodies will look, feel and act.

I do think it’s a mistake to think that slow-and-steady is always the answer. Especially when it comes to exercise, we need high-intensity, those short periods of working as hard as we can. Why? Because that kind of work—the kind where you’re so immersed in the activity because it’s fun and intense—is what feels good, what feels enjoyable, what feels in the moment and what gives us the post-activity high that helps us make healthy decisions, especially when it comes to food choices.

My friend and sports psychologist Doug Newburg, PhD, has taught me a lot about the concept of feel, because he has studied how it works in hundreds of elite performers. It’s different than feelings or emotions. Exercise, like eating, shouldn’t feel like a chore. For it to truly work over the long term, it has to feel more like recess than like detention. Going all in—whether it’s running, dancing, playing tennis or playing tag with your kids—excites you enough to take you out of your own head, and that’s what makes you want to do it again and again. The byproduct of playing hard is that, without thinking, you find what you were after in the first place.


Use Your Mindset to Lose Weight, Get Fit and Be Healthy

Why do some people seem to lose weight easily while others fail year after year?

  • Is it genetics? Money? Willpower?

While it’s true these may play a small part, there’s something else that has a much larger role.

  • It’s mindset.

And yours may be holding you back.

In this article, we’ll explore the science behind your mindset and underlying philosophy, and show you some proven ways to take action to improve it–so you can finally use your mindset to lose weight, get fit and be healthy.

What Is “Mindset”?

  • Mindsets are beliefs about yourself and your most basic qualities.

Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, who wrote a book called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, says there are two different types of mindsets: fixed and growth-oriented.

People with a fixed mindset think talent alone creates success. When faced with a challenge, they tend to take the easy way out to avoid failure and embarrassment. This is a psychological principle known as self-handicapping.

People with a growth mindset believe they can improve their abilities and create successes by working hard, practicing, and learning. They take on challenges even at the risk of failing. They embrace failure because they know they’ll learn valuable lessons from it.

Use Your Mindset to Lose Weight, Get Fit and Be Healthy

How Mindset Affects Your Health

Research shows your mindset can profoundly impact your life—especially your health. Here are several studies that prove it.

In a study published in the journal Psychological Science, hotel cleaning crews were told that the work they do (cleaning hotel rooms) is good exercise and satisfies the Surgeon General’s recommendations for an active lifestyle. Subjects in the control group were not given this information. Four weeks later, the first group perceived themselves to be getting significantly more exercise than before. As a result, compared with the control group, they showed a decrease in weight, blood pressure, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio, and body mass index. Mindset alone caused physiological changes in their body.

In another study published in the journal Health Psychology, participants were divided into two groups. Each group received a 380-calorie milkshake but one group was told they were drinking a 620-calorie “indulgent” shake and the other was told they were drinking a 140-calorie “sensible” shake.

The researchers then measured participants’ levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates your brain to increase appetite.

Those who thought they drank the 620-calorie shake experienced a dramatically steeper decline in ghrelin after consuming the shake. The study authors concluded that “Participants’ satiety was consistent with what they believed they were consuming rather than the actual nutritional value of what they consumed.”

In other words, your mindset about a particular food can affect your hunger and levels of fullness. If your mind tells your body you’re drinking a “skinny” shake, you won’t feel as full. You CAN use your mindset to lose weight, get fit and be healthy.

Finally, in a study published in the journal Clinical Psychology Review that looked at the science of optimism, researchers found that an optimistic mindset can lead to better health outcomes too—optimistic people tend to be healthier on average.

How to Change Your Philosophy and Mindset

So the science clearly tells us that your mindset can have a dramatic impact on your health. The question is, how do you change a mindset that may be holding you back?

This is what Dweck suggests in her book:

Step 1. Recognize fixed mindset thinking.

Even if you have a growth mindset, that pesky little fixed mindset voice will sneak its way in once in a while. You know … the one that produces these types of thoughts:

“I have bad genes, there’s no way I can lose that much weight.”
“What if I fail?”
“I don’t want to embarrass myself.”
“I don’t have the willpower to stick with a healthy diet.”
“I’m just not as smart/lucky/talented.”
When this happens, simply recognize and accept it. Then do this …

Step 2. Reframe negative, fixed mindset thinking with a growth mindset voice.

Once you recognize a fixed mindset thought, you have a choice: believe those negative thoughts … or reframe them. For example:

“No excuses this time … I’m getting started.”
“If I fail, it’s okay. Great accomplishments don’t happen without risk.”
“Forget diets. I’ll take it slow and making eating healthy a lifestyle.”
“If I don’t know how to do something, I’ll learn.”

Step 3. Take action.

Once you reframe a fixed mindset thought, the next step is to take action.

Here are some strategies that will help you:

1. Write it down. One of the most effective ways to improve your philosophy and mindset is to keep a journal or planner. Use it to capture your thoughts, plan your day, and track your goals. For example, here’s what I do:

At the start of every day I write a positive quote at the top of my daily planner (today’s quote is “Life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it”).
Next, I write down everything I plan to do over the course of the day to accomplish my goals (for example, “Write new blog post, network with 3 people, lift weights for 45 minutes, find recipe for healthy dinner”).
Then, I evaluate what I accomplished at the end of each day.
Writing things down feels good, and it’s proven to help you cultivate positive mental and physical changes in your body. In one study, participants wrote for 20 minutes each day for three consecutive days about either a positive life experience or a control topic.

Three months later, the students who wrote about positive experiences had improved physical health and higher levels of focus—just from writing about it. That’s powerful stuff. If you want to change your mindset, write.

2. Embrace learning. We all consume massive amounts of information every day. You have a choice whether that information helps you or holds you back. Checking your Facebook page 10 times a day may be mindless fun, but what if you spent that time reading books that helped you cultivate a growth mindset?

I recommend Mind Is The Master by James Allen, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, and Make Today Count by John Maxwell. Even if you don’t like to read, buy audio books and listen to them while you drive. Imagine the impact those books and others you’re interested in can have on your mindset over time.

3. Take calculated risks. Whether you want to start your own business or get in the best shape of your life, ask yourself this question: will you be better off by never starting or by taking a chance and risking failing?

It’s an easy answer. Embrace failure. Because it will give you the most valuable feedback in the world. The foundation of the growth mindset is the ability to learn from your failures and become a person who continuously improves.

On Carol Dweck’s website, she says, “Although people may differ in every which way—in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments – everyone can change and grow through application and experience.”

In other words, your mindset is like a muscle: the more you use it to both learn and focus on positive thoughts, the stronger it becomes.

Dream big but start small. Focus on your mindset first and you will open doors to anything and everything you want to accomplish in life….perhaps starting with losing weight, getting fit and being healthy.


BEST Fitness Motivation Video HD

Please take 4 minutes and enjoy the video, hopefully you get motivated!

Fitness Motivation Video

4 Ways to Influence the Unfit

Positive lifestyle changes are powerful for the human heart. They propel forward momentum, raise self-esteem and confidence, and, more often than not, act as catalyst for change in the lives of others. When you make the conscious choice to swap that fast-food meal for a protein-rich one, or decide to go on a post-dinner stroll instead of downing two scoops of ice cream, you're not just helping yourself—you're inspiring others. Switching from a couch-potato lifestyle to one that's clean and active is a victory for people to experience and share.

If you're someone who has undergone a transformation, you understand that this feeling of empowerment can be difficult to describe to others. It's deeply personal and makes your chest puff up with pride.

It's like you've been given a gift that you're just dying to help others unwrap for themselves. But what should you do when your life has changed for the better and someone you care about isn't onboard?

I get emails and texts from friends and family members all the time asking me questions like:

  • "Abby, how do I get them to change their diet?"
  • "How do I get them to start working out?"
  • "I don't know how to address it without hurting their feelings."

There is no easy way to address these things with people you care about. It would be wonderful if Hallmark made cards that said "Hey, buddy, you should probably work out and stop hitting the drive-thru because I love you and don't want you to die," but they don't. It's a tough topic to handle with care and finesse.

The key here is making sure that you take a delicate approach. Sometimes wake-up calls only come on the brink of medical risk—a young person experiencing chest pains, an overweight man having difficulty catching his breath after climbing a flight stairs, or a young mother too out of shape to play with her kids for long periods of time.

The goal is to avoid these health scares by addressing issues from the get-go. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind as you have a serious health and weight-loss talk with someone you care about.


Weight loss and body issues are incredibly personal. Most of the time, when you're making strides in health and wellness, people around you take a moment to reflect on their own behavior. Approaching them with an attitude and insisting that they're headed toward poor health will likely raise their defenses and lead to a standstill. If you know someone whose health is in jeopardy due to their poor diet or exercise habits, then they're likely already aware that they need to make a change. That change is what scares them to death.

4 Ways to Influence the Unfit

Think of the people in your life. Do you know anyone whose family tree is full of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, and yet they take no preventative steps? They're likely in denial and fear. It's that fear of failure or being uncomfortable that makes people dig their heels in and scream "No!" instead of embracing the help they so desperately need. At times like this, it's best to approach with reassurance, not confrontation.

Listen to their fears and hang-ups. If you're unsure of how to help them, try and talk with them about the steps needed to overcome fear , and listen with a sense of understanding.


If you're uncomfortable directly addressing the issue with your loved one, consider suggesting that you start hitting the gym together after work or try cooking a meal from a new, clean-eating cookbook. Tell them that you're making a change and you need help and support. Encourage them to join BodySpace so that you can compare your daily activity. As a bonus, they may meet other newbies who can inspire and encourage them.

4 Ways to Influence the Unfit

Suggest you both attend a fitness class or a wellness seminar held at your gym to further your education. Suggest enrolling in transformation challenges with cash prizes for extra incentive. Reward yourselves with a cheat meal once a week.

If you're a couple, think about setting up a getaway weekend as a reward for sticking with it. Lifestyle changes are fun and uplifting. The hardest part for someone new is starting, so being their cheerleader and offering positive incentives can be crucial for their success.


Choose your words carefully and lead with emotions that come from a caring place. You're concerned for their wellness, longevity, self-esteem, and happiness. You want them to feel happy and empowered. You want them to live freely while taking back control over their own body.

Maybe this person has chronic knee, hip, or joint problems. Explain to them that minor changes in their diet and lifestyle will help them lose weight and ease the burden on their joints. Don't shine too bright of a light on their current state; deep down, they know. Instead, make it about how much better they can feel within a matter of weeks if they just take the reins.

4 Ways to Influence the Unfit

If you have someone in your life who is argumentative and stubborn, you may have to match their level of energy. One of my favorite quotes from author and motivational coach Jen Sincero is, "Tough love is still love." If you're pushed to the brink, you may have to be more honest than you'd planned.

Don't be mean, but, if you're in a relationship with someone who is ignoring their health, remind them that their choice affects the entire family. Make sure they at least see the bigger picture.


You've heard it a million times: "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink." Likewise, you can't force someone to make changes. All you can do is lead by example, be supportive of their endeavors, and then hope they make the right decisions.

It's very difficult to see a loved one head down the wrong path or stray from potential greatness, but pouring your energy and support into someone who refuses to accept it is emotionally and spiritually exhausting. It can cause resentment in relationships and, ultimately, good intentions might even backfire.

4 Ways to Influence the Unfit

Focus on your behavior and hope it rubs off on them. You can do what you can to foster changes and encourage healthy replacements for junk food, but this is the ultimate form of "blessing and releasing." Sometimes the most you can do is love someone and hope they'll find their own healthy lifestyle in their own time.

If things don't turn out as planned, don't feel defeated; sometimes, hearing "no" from someone refusing to make a change just means "not right now."

5 Ways to Push Through Your Resolutions

Every New Year, you tell yourself that things are going to be different. This time you are going to muffle the inner voice that coos you into weaknesses, like skipping the gym, gobbling up that lonely-looking bagel at work, or having just one last drink at Happy Hour. Alas, the year's just barely begun and you hear that devilish inner voice roaring louder than ever.

According to a study by Muraven and Baumeister in the "Psychological Bulletin," willpower is a finite resource and draws from the same resource pool as self-regulation. That's to say, decisions you make throughout the day—big or small—gradually chip away at your self-control. By the end of the day, it's natural to find the couch much more mesmerizing than a set of dumbbells. That's why it can be extra difficult to stay focused.

Thankfully, the following five strategies can help you triage your resolution-making and redirect your focus on the things that matter most. Hark, your ideal physique will be realized yet!


Does it feel needlessly stressful to squeeze in a workout at your current proposed timeslot?

If so, take a hard look at your schedule once more. Find that sweet spot to avoid time conflicts and potential disruptions. For example, if your current plan has you speeding to the gym right after work but you end up compromising due to "things that come up," this timeslot clearly is not ideal.

5 Ways to Push Through Your Resolutions

Instead, hone in on a time in the day when you can consistently have a moment of Zen and are left with no excuses to avoid exercise. Try early mornings before work, school, or any other obligations.

People who complete workouts in the morning tend to stay better committed to their workout program and goals. They're also ready to tackle the rest of the day with gusto.


Most people will agree that any exercise is better than no exercise. Ideally, though, you want a workout and nutrition program which drives you toward your goals.

For example, if your goal includes massive strength gains, the standard protocol first calls for a large stimulus to the muscles in question through a weight-training program with proper load progression.

Although there are many cardiovascular and recovery benefits to steady-state cardio, it should have a smaller emphasis in your program, since excessive cardio could shuttle caloric usage elsewhere instead of toward muscle growth.


For people who firmly believe in "making their own selves," enlisting the help of a professional might seem like a cop-out. After all, they do cost a shiny penny.

However, this could be one of the best investments you could make for yourself, if funds allow. First and foremost, they help you set a realistic goal, which is crucial to keeping you motivated.

Far too often, people get carried away with a goal like, "I want to fit in my Speedo from college." Trainers will help you refine your goal to something much more sustainable. Afterward, they provide structure, and an exercise program tailored to your fitness level and personal schedule.

Perhaps more important, hiring a trainer turns into personal accountability. Because you pay for this expert's time, showing up to your sessions becomes an obligation, not an option. You gain an ally, someone who will help you stay on track and wishes to see you through to the end.

Simply put: It's a lot easier to stay consistent when you've got a coach or trainer checking up on you.


Work hard, get rewarded. You're hardwired to look for a positive payout that doesn't make you feel like a chump for embarking on this journey to an ideal body. Whether that payout be in the form of a tangible reward, like a delectable treat or a massage; or visible progress ("Wow, my arm is so big now that my shirt may just rip!"), you need to be ready to sing the praises of your accomplishments, no matter how big or small.

Not doing so could rob you of motivation. It's all about positive reinforcement to keep your eyes on the prize. Celebrate little victories by rewarding yourself in whatever way you think is reasonable and appropriate.

Were you able to add 10 more pounds to your deadlift this week? Eat an extra helping of your favorite protein and tell yourself: "Body, you're awesome!"


In the end, it all comes down to the parameters of the goal. Is it realistic or concrete enough? An ambitious goal like "I want to lose X number of pounds" offers far too little clarity on how to proceed. Think about a smaller-scale change like replacing a morning bagel with an omelet (or many other breakfast recipes found on

Here you are more likely to commit since this micro-change stands within the margins of what you already do. In this case, you already eat breakfast—so why not just eat something that works toward your goal?

I hope you can apply some, if not all, of these steps and avoid having to discount another fruitful year.

Few people can be 100 percent committed 100 percent of the time. Don't be too hard on yourself when you slip. Remember that a setback is only a setback if you let it completely throw you off your horse.

Have you made a health-focused New Year's promise to yourself? Share it in the comments below and talk about your plan to overcome it!

10 Easy Ways to Lose Weight

It's that time of the year again where we all want to get fit for the warmer season. Today, I'm going to share 10 easy but effective ways to help you shed those extra pounds.

I'm pleasantly surprised people are already noticing my weight loss. A lot of you have been requesting me to share how I'm shedding my pounds so the video will pretty much reveal everything I'm doing. You would be surprised how the little changes in your lifestyle could make that much of a difference.

I can understand healthy eating can be tricky when you've got a busy lifestyle. Perhaps you've got yourself in a habit where you're used to eating out constantly. Processed foods just seem to be the convenient choice.

How many of you complain about your body constantly yet you snack on numerous amounts of unhealthy fatty sugary foods?

I've gotten myself into a habit of taking time to prepare my meals in advance. Instead of always feeling sluggish and bloated, I feel great!!!

My friend Cassey (Blogilates) tells me that your body is 80% diet, 10% exercise and 10% genetics. What you consume into your body plays a MASSIVE role to how you look and feel.

Exercise is very important too. Not just to tone the body but also for a healthy heart and mind.

10 Easy Ways to Lose Weight

Weight loss: Strategies for success

Hundreds of fad diets, weight-loss programs and outright scams promise quick and easy weight loss. However, the foundation of successful weight loss remains a healthy, calorie-controlled diet combined with exercise. For successful, long-term weight loss, you must make permanent changes in your lifestyle and health habits.

How do you make those permanent changes? Consider following these six strategies for weight-loss success.

1. Make a commitment

Permanent weight loss takes time and effort — and a lifelong commitment. Make sure that you're ready to make permanent changes and that you do so for the right reasons.

To stay committed to your weight loss, you need to be focused. It takes a lot of mental and physical energy to change your habits. So as you're planning new weight-loss-related lifestyle changes, make a plan to address other stresses in your life first, such as financial problems or relationship conflicts. While these stresses may never go away completely, managing them better should improve your ability to focus on achieving a healthier lifestyle. Then, once you're ready to launch your weight-loss plan, set a start date and then — start.

2. Find your inner motivation

No one else can make you lose weight. You must undertake diet and exercise changes to please yourself. What's going to give you the burning drive to stick to your weight-loss plan?

Make a list of what's important to you to help stay motivated and focused, whether it's an upcoming beach vacation or better overall health. Then find a way to make sure that you can call on your motivational factors during moments of temptation. Perhaps you want to post an encouraging note to yourself on the pantry door, for instance.

While you have to take responsibility for your own behavior for successful weight loss, it helps to have support — of the right kind. Pick people to support you who will encourage you in positive ways, without shame, embarrassment or sabotage. Ideally, find people who will listen to your concerns and feelings, spend time exercising with you or creating healthy menus, and who will share the priority you've placed on developing a healthier lifestyle. Your support group can also offer accountability, which can be a strong motivation to stick to your weight-loss goals.

If you prefer to keep your weight-loss plans private, be accountable to yourself by having regular weigh-ins and recording your diet and exercise progress in a journal.

3. Set realistic goals

It may seem obvious to set realistic weight-loss goals. But do you really know what's realistic? Over the long term, it's best to aim for losing 1 to 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kilogram) a week. Generally to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week, you need to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume each day, through a lower calorie diet and regular exercise.

When you're setting goals, think about both process and outcome goals. "Exercise every day" is an example of a process goal. "Lose 30 pounds" is an example of an outcome goal. It isn't essential that you have an outcome goal, but you should set process goals because changing your your habits is a key to weight loss.

4. Enjoy healthier foods

Adopting a new eating style that promotes weight loss must include lowering your total calorie intake. But decreasing calories need not mean giving up taste, satisfaction or even ease of meal preparation. One way you can lower your calorie intake is by eating more plant-based foods — fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Strive for variety to help you achieve your goals without giving up taste or nutrition.

In particular, get your weight loss started by eating a healthy breakfast every day; eating at least four servings of vegetables and three servings of fruits daily; eating whole instead of refined grains; and using healthy fats, such as olive oil, vegetable oils and nut butters. In addition, cut back on sugar, choose low-fat dairy products and keep meat consumption to a 3-ounce portion (about the size of a deck of cards).

5. Get active, stay active

While you can lose weight without exercise, exercise plus calorie restriction can help give you the weight-loss edge. Exercise can help burn off the excess calories you can't cut through diet alone. Exercise also offers numerous health benefits, including boosting your mood, strengthening your cardiovascular system and reducing your blood pressure. Exercise can also help in maintaining weight loss. Studies show that people who maintain their weight loss over the long term get regular physical activity.

How many calories you burn depends on the frequency, duration and intensity of your activities. One of the best ways to lose body fat is through steady aerobic exercise — such as brisk walking — for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.

Any extra movement helps burn calories, though. Think about ways you can increase your physical activity throughout the day if you can't fit in formal exercise on a given day. For example, make several trips up and down stairs instead of using the elevator, or park at the far end of the lot when shopping.

6. Change your perspective

It's not enough to eat healthy foods and exercise for only a few weeks or even months if you want long-term, successful weight loss. These habits must become a way of life. Lifestyle changes start with taking an honest look at your eating patterns and daily routine.

After assessing your personal challenges to weight loss, try working out a strategy to gradually change habits and attitudes that have sabotaged your past efforts. And you have to move beyond simply recognizing your challenges — you have to plan for how you'll deal with them if you're going to succeed in losing weight once and for all.

You likely will have an occasional setback. But instead of giving up entirely after a setback, simply start fresh the next day. Remember that you're planning to change your life. It won't happen all at once. Stick to your healthy lifestyle and the results will be worth it.

Weight loss: Strategies for success

5 Habits of Highly Successful Dieters

Eat less, exercise more. That's the recipe for losing weight, and we all know it by heart. So if we want to get slimmer, and we know the formula, then why can't we do it?

Commitment is important—in fact, it's essential—but it's only the beginning. The key to successful dieting is bridging the gap between what you want to do and actually doing it. The desire is there; you just need a plan.

The scientifically proven tactics on these two pages will help you do just that. I say that with confidence—not only as a social psychologist who studies motivation, but also as someone who has benefited from these tricks firsthand. Each one—especially #2—helped me lose almost 50 pounds after my son was born three years ago.

Strategy #1: Be very specific

When we make goals that are vague, like "I want to lose weight," we set ourselves up to fail.

Motivation happens when your brain detects a difference between where you are and where you want to be. When you are specific about your goal (I want to lose 10 pounds), that difference is clear, and your brain starts throwing resources (attention, memory, effort, willpower) at the problem. A clear target looks something like this: "I want to weigh 135 pounds. I weigh 155 now, so that's a difference of 20 pounds."

Being specific gives you clarity because you've spelled out exactly what success looks like. That means more motivation—and better odds of success.

Strategy #2: Create an OK-to-eat plan

Faced with unexpected temptations—the dessert menu, the catered work lunch—we end up eating things that sabotage our weight-loss goals. The best way to guarantee you make the right choices is to create an "if-then" plan:

"If the dessert menu arrives, I'll order coffee."

"If I am at a business lunch, I'll have a salad."

Studies suggest that coming up with safe-to-eat plans makes you two to three times more likely to reach your diet goals.

Strategy #3: Track your success

To stay clear about that gap between where you want to go and where you are now, monitor your progress. Keep getting on that scale; mark the days you exercise on a calendar.

Another thing: When you think about the progress you've made, stay focused on how far you have to go, rather than how far you've come. If you want to drop 20 pounds, and you've lost 5 so far, keep your thoughts on the 15 that remain. When we dwell too much on how much progress we've made, it's easy to feel a premature sense of accomplishment and start to slack off.

Strategy #4: Be a realistic optimist

As much as we want to believe otherwise, losing weight isn't easy. It turns out that it's important to accept this.

Believing you will succeed is key, but believing you will succeed easily (what I call "unrealistic optimism") is a recipe for failure. Take it from the women, all obese, who enrolled in a weight-loss program in one study. Those who thought they could lose weight easily lost 24 pounds less than those who knew it would be hard. The successful dieters put in more effort, planned in advance how to deal with problems, and persisted when it became difficult.

So don't try to tamp down your worries—they can help prepare you for shape-up challenges.

Strategy #5: Strengthen your willpower

The capacity for self-control is like a muscle: It varies in strength from person to person and moment to moment. Just as your biceps can feel like jelly after a workout, your willpower "muscle" gets tired when you overtax it.

To strengthen it, pick any activity that requires you to override an impulse (such as sitting up straight when your impulse is to slouch), and add that to your daily routine. And take baby steps. Instead of going junk-free overnight, begin by eliminating, say, those chips you eat by the bag, and substitute them with a fruit or vegetable.

Hang in there, and sticking to your diet will become easier because your capacity for self-control will grow.

5 Habits of Highly Successful Dieters


Yoga For Weight Loss - 40 Minute Fat Burning Yoga Workout!

This yoga for weight loss sequence is designed to reunite you with not just your abs but your mindful core.

Connect with your breath, build strength, tone belly fat, burn calories, detoxify, improve digestion and support a happy healthy back with this customized practice with Adriene!

Yoga For Weight Loss

The Benefits of Yoga

The benefits of yoga provide both instant gratification and lasting transformation. In the fitness world, both are extremely important. Too much time with too few results can be incredibly discouraging, and monotonous routines week after week can lead to stagnation. Yoga can change your physical and mental capacity quickly, while preparing the mind and body for long-term health.

Yoga is for everyone

Most yoga studios and local gyms offer yoga classes that are open to all generations and fitness levels. It’s exciting to enter a room full of young teens, athletes, middle-aged moms, older gentlemen and even fitness buffs and body builders. Everyone can feel accepted and included and, unlike other sports or classes that focus on niche clients, yoga tends to have open arms. Whether you like to say "Om" or you can’t stand the word “yogi;” whether you are 92, 53, or even 12, yoga can help you.

Yoga encourages overall health and wellness

Yoga is not just about working out, it’s about a healthy lifestyle. The practice of yoga allows students to be still in a world consumed with chaos. Peace and tranquility achieved through focused training appeals to everyone.

Yoga’s deep breathing and meditation practices help foster an inner shift from to-do lists, kids and spouse’s needs, financial concerns and relational struggles to something a little bit bigger than the issues you face. Yoga helps relieve stress and unclutter the mind, and helps you get more focused.

Yoga has many faces

One of the benefis of yoga is that you can choose a yoga style that is tailored to your lifestyle, such as hot yoga, power yoga, relaxation yoga, prenatal yoga, etc. Whether you prefer you're at home, in a private session, watching a DVD or at a studio or gym, there are a huge variety of options available to suit your goals and needs.

If you are a yoga beginner, Hatha yoga, which focuses on basic postures at a comfortable pace, would be great for you. If you want to increase strength through using more of your own body’s resistance, power yoga may be right for you. There is a great online yoga program at Gaiam Yoga Studio that focuses on Hatha yoga.

If you are ready for a deeper practice, Advanced Yoga, or Bikram, also called “hot yoga,” may be just what you are looking for. In Bikram yoga, the room temperature is set to around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in greater elimination of toxins from the body through the increased production of sweat. No matter your fitness level, fat percentage, or health history, yoga has a place for you.

Strength training and flexibility

Yoga’s focus on strength training and flexibility is an incredible benefit to your body. The postures are meant to strengthen your body from the inside-out, so you don’t just look good, you feel good too. Each of the yoga poses is built to reinforce the muscles around the spine, the very center of your body, which is the core from which everything else operates. When the core is working properly, posture is improved, thus alleviating back, shoulder and neck pain.

The digestive system gets back on track when the stretching in yoga is coupled with a healthy, organic diet, which can relieve constipation, irritable bowl syndrome (IBS) and acid reflux. Another one of the benefits of yoga is that stretching and holding of postures also causes muscles to lengthen, which gives the body a longer, leaner look.

How does power yoga build muscle?

A more advanced form of yoga can amplify these effects. Adapted from the basic Ashtanga yoga, power yoga requires increased amounts of energy, focus and strength. Although power yoga is an evolvement of the basics, it certainly is not a basic course.

But how does it help build muscle? Deeper, more focused participation is required, because most poses are held for five full breaths versus the usual one to three breaths. Muscles are challenged as the mind and body have to work together simultaneously to hold a position or continue a succession without giving up. Breathing, posing, moving and increasing flexibility happen all together at one time, which solicits a new level of discipline in your mind and body.

Power yoga and the core

Isometric exercises are one of the best ways to build core strength. Isometric, stemming from the words “same” and “length,” simply translates to holding one position without moving. Power yoga uses isometric exercises along with other postures that are designed to make the core and back stronger. Flexibility and balance stem from your core, so it is very important to train this area of the body. In turn, you can increase the strangth and health of your entire body. Generally a higher-temperature room is used in this practice to help keep the muscles warm and release additional toxins from the body.

Power yoga’s effect on the total body

Here's a list of some of the most beneficial aspects of power yoga:

  • It increases endurance, strength and flexibility.
  • Mental endurance and physical stamina are tested through holding postures for extended breaths.
  • Arm and shoulder strength is multiplied as you use your own body weight for resistance.
  • Lats and other back muscles begin to support the spine better than before.
  • Abdominals and obliques are refined and sharpened through building core muscles.
  • Poor and average posture begins to correct itself over time.
  • Hip flexors are stretched and rebuilt.
  • Glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves are tightened and lengthened where they need to be.

No matter what ails your aching body, or if you just want to take your fitness to a higher level, power yoga's ability to build muscle has an undeniably effect on the total body.

The Benefits of Yoga


8 Ways Yoga Can Promote Weight Loss

Yoga as an ancient science has always been about the benefit that it brings to the practitioner. It would only be a dogmatic position that states it is only for spiritual elevation and nothing more. Yoga is a tool that helps the body, mind and spirit. It can be used as needed according to each individual’s requirements. In today’s day and age western society is suffering from an epidemic of obesity. It needs as many healthy long-term approaches to weight loss as possible. The first and most obvious approach that addresses underlying causes is to eat healthy nutrient dense organic foods. Another way is to use the ancient science of yoga. I have seen through my work as a yoga teacher that the two combined will certainly yield amazing results!

8 Ways Yoga Can Promote Weight Loss

Most weight gain is not simply a matter of too many calories taken in for the calories spent. Most weight gain is just symptomatic of serious underlying causes. When each of the eight areas of health listed in this article become out of balance, then these tend to be the major causes weight gain. If the corresponding yoga postures are practiced under the guidance of a good teacher then very quickly the causes can be addressed and the benefits will show. Not only will the excess weight be quickly shed, but health will also be restored.

1. Stimulate the vital force of the liver

The liver has many essential functions. It is an extremely powerful detoxifier and cleanser. It purifies your blood. It processes fats, both good and bad kinds. If the liver is healthy and strong it can dispose of bad fats and put good fats to work for you. It gives you energy by storing the glucose and making coenzyme Q10 that powers your muscles. By doing certain yoga postures you are strengthening the vital force of the liver in profound ways that will bring it to optimum functioning.

The best postures for the liver are mainly backbends:

  • Bhujangasana (cobra pose)
  • Dhanurasana (bow pose)
  • Chakrasana (wheel pose)
  • Matsyendrasana (spinal twist)

2. Activate the thyroid gland

The thyroid secretes a hormone that regulates our metabolism. One of the main factors that defines whether we have a high metabolism that burns a lot of fat is whether our thyroid is active or not. Many people who suffer from weight gain have hypothyroidism ("hypo-" meaning low). There are certain postures that help to correct this dysfunction:
Sarvangasana (shoulder stand)
Matsyasana (fish pose)

3. Create the right pH balance – Alkalize!

If the body is too acidic (low pH), then the body will attempt to protect itself from the acid by storing fat and using it as a buffer. This is extremely dangerous because the visceral fat (the kind inside the organs and blood vesicles) accumulates within the veins and arteries, narrowing the passage available for the blood and gradually obstructs the activity of the blood vessels. As a result, the heart is forced to overwork just to maintain the blood circulation. If this continues to happen then the heart gets exhausted and a heart attack occurs. This is known as arteriosclerosis. So the pH balance of the body is extremely important. The ideal pH balance is about 7.35. And most people struggling with their weight are too acidic.

Some of the best postures to increase alkalinity are:

  • Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend)
  • Janushirasana (head to knee pose)

4. Find the right balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.

A lot of overweight people’s bodies are under an immense amount f stress. Their nervous system is under pressure from lifestyle choices.They often sit at a desk out of the healing sun, under neon lighting. They breathe stale, air-conditioned air instead of fresh, clean, oxygen-rich air.

They stare at a computer screen for hours instead of looking at nature. They often feel rushed to meet deadlines and busy schedules. And if the nervous system is under stress then it will set of a chain reaction in the rest of the body. The body needs to be relaxed and soothed. This requires  finding the right balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. The best yoga postures for this are:

  • Savasana (corpse pose)
  • Viparita Karani (legs up the wall)

5. Activate the internal heat in the nervous system.

There are many people who think that going to a hot yoga class is the best way to loose weight. That is far from the truth. Ancient yogis never heated their caves or hermitage in the Himalayas to 40 degrees just so they could practice asanas in the morning. They created warmth in the body through generating internal heat by creating nerve tension/length. This is the best way. This automatically makes the body feel warmer. This can be achieved by drawing the chin towards the chest in forward bends, thereby lengthening the femoral nerve and the spinal nerves. This heat burns up and purifies visceral (deep) fat and subcutaneous (superficial) fat. The best postures for this are:

  • Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend)
  • Anjaneyasana (lunge)

In both postures, the head must draw downward actively.

6. Move the body with strength.

Any yoga position that requires you to be active, either as you shorten or lengthen the muscles, will help with weight loss. This is because muscles are active tissue that consume fat as fuel. If you build strong muscles they will be eating your fat stores even when you are resting. That is why strength work is very good for weight loss.

Arm balancing postures are great for this. Even basic arm balancing poses are great because they often engage every muscle, not just the arms or shoulders, but also the abdominals and legs.

Some great postures for this are:

  • Bakasana (crane)
  • Pincha Mayurasana (feathered peacock)
  • Tolasana (scale pose)
  • Chaturanga (plank)

7. Get your heart rate up.

Many people think that getting the heart rate up through jogging is a good way to lose weight. Research shows that this is a misconception, and it is not a good way to lose weight at all. It can make a stressed nervous system even more exhausted, and lead to adrenal fatigue. What is much better for weight loss is getting the heart rate up for a very short burst and then dropping it right down, then getting it up and then dropping it down. This can certainly be achieved by an intelligent yoga practice.

Starting in a standing position at the front of your mat, do two slow rounds of Surya Namaskar (sun salutation) and then come back to standing and connect with your heart with palms together and eyes closed for a moment. Then repeat it again, perhaps this time making the pace a little faster. Continue a few rounds like this and you will have your heart rate at an optimum level; without the tiring and jarring effects your body gets from jogging.

8. Cleansing the colon

Many people have food matter blocked up in their colon. This makes them bloated. Severe bloating can appear as obesity. Eventually if left untreated it can poison the blood and leads to disease.

There is a saying that, ‘disease begins in the gut.’ There is certainly some truth to that. Some people who consume a lot of meat or already struggle with a constipated colon should certainly not do any inversions for this reason, because the putrefied blood will rush to the higher organs and it will disturb the mind. Colonic irrigation may be beneficial in those cases. Drinking water free of chemicals like sodium fluoride and chlorine is essential because water will help flush the waste away, but the chemicals dumped into most western public water supplies will kill off good intestinal flora, and therefore should be avoided. Purchasing a good water filter is an excellent idea.

There are many yoga postures, mudras, and bandhas that cleanse the colon. Many are for the advanced practitioner. Some basic ones are:

  • Utks'epa Mudra (bellow’s pose) to be done first thing in the morning upon waking
  • Agnisara Mudra (fire pose)

Some advanced ones are:

  • Mayurasana (peacock pose)
  • Nauli kriya

All the suggested postures should only be practiced on an empty stomach. They should be used under the guidance of a good yoga teacher. If they are used daily, correctly and consistently, in combination with good food habits, then balance will return to the body and mind and the health of the practitioner will be restored quickly.


30 Minute Intermediate Full Body Workout

Total Body Workout Routine

A total body workout routine is a great way to stay fit, healthy, and energetic. Rather than focus on the same muscle group every time you hit the gym, it's important to concentrate on your body as a whole. Planning a total body workout routine can help you tone and tighten your entire body -- from shoulders to calves -- leaving you with a complete feeling of satisfaction and balance.

The links at the bottom of this page will take you to articles that provide a number of different exercises targeted to each part of your body. Within each article, you will find simple, step-by-step instructions -- written by a nationally certified personal trainer -- explaining how to do the exercise. Each set of instructions is accompanied by detailed photos, making the articles easy to follow and ensuring the proper form for every movement.

Before you begin your total body workout routine, learn how to do our total body warm-up exercises to get your blood flowing and your heart pumping. When you complete your workout routine, cool down and stretch your muscles with our total body stretches.

Below you will find warm-ups, exercises, and stretches that contribute to your total body workout routine and your goal to lead a happy and healthy lifestyle.

Total Body Warm-up Exercises 
It is important to get your muscles warmed up before you begin a total body workout routine. Learn how to start your routine with these easy-to-follow warm-up exercises.

Back Strengthening Exercises 
When doing back strengthening exercises, you can avoid injury by practicing the proper form of each exercise. Get detailed steps on how to strengthen your back in a safe, fun way.

Biceps Exercises 
A quick flex of the bicep is a great way to show off the results of all your hard work. Find out how to do biceps curls using dumbbells, stability balls, and resistance tubes.

Chest Exercises 
Strengthening your chest involves more than just simple push-ups. Learn different ways to use barbells and medicine balls as you practice these chest exercises.

Triceps Exercises
As you work on strengthening your arms, don't forget to concentrate on your triceps. Include these simple and effective triceps exercises to your total body workout routine for satisfying results.

Core: Abdominal and Lower Back Exercises
For a complete and balanced total body workout, make sure you focus on the core of your body, which includes your abdomen and lower back. Try out these abdominal and lower back exercises to strengthen your core.

Glutes Exercises 
You should keep your glutes toned and fit the entire year -- not just during swimsuit season. Learn a variety of glutes exercises and stay confident about your body all year 'round.

Leg Exercises 
Whether you walk to work every morning or dance every night away, it's important to strengthen your leg muscles for everyday activity. See how to keep your leg muscles toned with these effective leg exercises.

Shoulder Exercises 
Strengthen your shoulder muscles with more than just a few simple shrugs. Have fun with resistance bands and stability balls as you learn these detailed shoulder exercises.

Total Body Stretches 
The last part of your total body workout routine involves stretching out your muscles to avoid injuries or cramps. Learn these total body stretches to complete a safe and effective total body workout routine.

Total Body Workout Routine


3 Full Body Workouts for Cutting Body Fat

If you're getting ready to shed some body fat, a full body workout is a great choice to start with. Here are 3 great workouts to choose from! Check it out!

Often full body workouts will be your best bet when you're looking for intense fat loss because of the fact that they will allow you to workout with the greatest frequency, yet still have plenty of time left over to recover.

Since you are going to have a reduced calorie intake when working toward fat loss, this means fewer reserves left over to recover, making it even more important that you watch the total volume you are doing. If your workout includes a high number of sets, you are going to struggle to come back as strong with each session.

Full Body Workouts for Cutting Body Fat

Designing a full body workout for cutting can be tricky for some people, especially if they are involved in any other types of exercise such as cardio or an outside sport. Since each full body workout will be working every muscle group in the body, you have to watch what form of exercise you will be doing the day after to make sure you're not shorting yourself of the 48-hour recovery period.

Here are three different variations of full body workouts for cutting that you can make use of.


The following is essentially a reduced volume workout that targets muscle maintenance without much glycogen depletion.

If you're utilizing a lower carbohydrate cutting diet, this will be the best approach to take since it won't leave your muscles drained. You really must pay attention when doing your workouts to what type of diet you're following. This will have a large influence on overall program design.

For the following set-up, your primary aim is to maintain the previous weight you had been using on the bar so you keep your strength level constant. Make a note that you will not get as large of a 'muscle pump' after this workout since it is in the lower rep range and uses fewer sets. Furthermore, when on a reduced carbohydrate diet it's also expected that you'll experience a decrease in muscle pump, so all factors working together may leave you a little flat.

Apart from the psychological issue of dealing with that, it will have no implication on the effectiveness of the program, so it's not something you really need to worry about anyway.

Alternate between these workouts either doing two or three workouts a week (using an ABA, BAB, ABA set-up). As long as you work each muscle group once every five days it should be enough of a frequency to still get good results and keep your lean body mass intact during the cut.


The second type of full body workout aimed for cutting is a workout to deplete all the muscle glycogen stores. These are effective when performed once in a while to really boost fat burning enzymes in the body and increase progress.

You typically will do these forms of cutting full-body workouts when you eat a diet that cycles carbohydrates in order to fully remove all the carbohydrates for the body. Then, when you immediately follow the depletion workout with a high-carbohydrate meal or meals, the muscles will suck these up and it would be more beneficial than if you hadn't done the depletion workout at all.


In many instances the full-body depletion workouts will only be completed once a week or even less frequently than that and are simply a means to help quicken the rate of progress throughout the cutting cycle.

When moving through the following full-body workout, decrease the total weight you are lifting due to the higher rep range called for. Aim to keep your rest periods on the shorter side to reap the most metabolic benefits.

Also note that depending on the particular diet you're using and how low in calories and carbohydrates it is, you may need to add a third set of most exercises. Typically the best manner to perform these workouts is by doing a circuit style type of set-up where you do one set of each and then proceed onto the next. Once you've completed one entire round of the circuit, then you go back and do a second and third if necessary.


Finally, the last variation of a full body workout for cutting is for someone who is under greater time constraints and looking to get in and out of the gym as quickly as possible.

Short, yet intense workouts when following a cutting program tend to be quite effective because they won't take as much out of you, allowing you to recover much better while consuming your low calorie diet.

Also, since many people are doing more cardio training while they are cutting, this helps to better balance this with your total time schedule if you can only make it to the gym three or four days a week.


If you performed the following workout a minimum of twice a week, that will still allow you plenty of time to get to the gym for the cardio sessions as well.

Keep in mind that this full-body workout will not burn a great number of calories, and from an exercise-fat-loss standpoint, that's not the goal. Someone who follows this type of set-up should take steps to be absolutely sure that their diet is in line and will create a large enough calorie deficit that fat loss does in fact take place.


Simple Circuit Training Exercise

Circuit Training Basics and Benefits

Circuit training is a method of resistance training, or weight training, that maximizes the volume of work done in a short period of time. Circuit training is a great tool to use for people who are interested in weight loss, muscle gain and overall strength increases.

Circuit training squashes common excuses that people use for not exercising because it takes little time, is action packed, does not need to be done everyday, and it can be personalized.    

Circuit Training Basics

Circuit training consists of performing multiple exercises on multiple body parts in a row with little rest in between exertions. The two most basic types of circuit training are horizontal training and vertical training. In horizontal training, all sets of one exercise are performed before a person moves on to the next exercise. In vertical training, one set of every different type of exercise is performed before returning to an exercise for the second time.

The amount of weight that a person lifts during a circuit training session can vary between sets. A person can start with light weights and work up to heavier weights (increasing pyramid) or can start with heavy weights and regress to lighter weights (decreasing pyramid). The most important component of circuit training is to take little rest in between sets, whether of the same or different exercises.  

Circuit Training Benefits

Due to the lack of rest that circuit training demands, exercisers maintain elevated heart rates for the entire period of exercise. The combination of weight training and increased cardiovascular effort makes circuit training a beneficial type of cross training. The exerciser gains muscle through the resistance training. The exerciser increases his/her cardiovascular endurance during the slightly elevated heart rate that is maintained in between sets and throughout the overall program.  The exerciser burns high amounts of calories during the high exertion periods of his/her sets.

Circuit training is also a convenient way to exercise.  It maximizes the total exercise volume (number of sets, repetitions, and amount of weight) completed in a period of time. Exercises are completed in a row, and therefore, the time spent exercising is condensed. Separate cardiovascular training is not necessary. All body parts are trained in one session, and therefore, exercisers do not need to work out everyday.

Long Run Benefits

Circuit training is a type of interval training. Interval training is a great way to increase the body's ability to burn calories when it is at rest. The exerciser's heart rate goes up very high, returns to a lower, but still elevated, state, and then goes up very high again. At no point during circuit training does the heart rate return to its resting rate. Circuit training, and interval training overall, increases the amount of oxygen that a person consumes post exercise, and therefore, increases the number of calories that a person burns throughout the day.

It can be used to achieve an increase in lean body mass and a decrease in weight.

Circuit Training Basics and Benefits


Circuit Training Basics

Looking for a way to infuse your fitness routine with some new energy and excitement? Whether you're a seasoned athlete or just getting started with physical activity, circuit training is a great way to challenge your body in a variety of ways while boosting the fun factor.

What Is Circuit Training?

A typical circuit training workout includes about 8-10 exercise stations. After completing a station, instead of resting, you move quickly to the next station. A muscular strength and endurance circuit alternates muscle groups, such as upper body, lower body and core, so little or no rest is needed in between stations. This article focuses on another form of circuit training: aerobic + strength. This type of circuit alternates 1-2 sets of resistance exercise (body weight, free weights, dumbbells, kettle bells, bands, etc.), with brief bouts of cardiovascular exercise (jogging in place, stationary cycling, rowing, etc.) lasting anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes. Depending on your goals and the number of circuit stations, you can complete 1 or more circuits in a 30-60 minute session.

Advantages of Circuit Training

Boredom and time constraints are frequently cited reasons for giving up on a fitness routine. Sound familiar? Circuit training offers a practical solution for both. It’s a creative and flexible way to keep exercise interesting and saves time while boosting cardiovascular and muscular fitness. You’ll burn a decent amount of calories too—in a 1-hour circuit training session, a 150-pound person burns about 308 calories at a moderate intensity; and 573 calories at a vigorous intensity. Because the exercises can be performed in any sequence, you can create an endless number of combinations and design every workout to match your mood or specific training goal. Participating in a group circuit-training class is a great way to discover new exercises you might not have tried on your own.

At Home

Set up strength and cardio stations indoors or outdoors. Cardio could include going up and down stairs, marching or jogging in place, running up and down the driveway, using home exercise equipment and jumping rope. For strength stations, do push-ups, planks and lunges, using your own body weight. You can also use dumbbells, bands and Kettlebells. For more ideas, look for a fitness DVD featuring circuit-training workouts.

At the Gym

Check to see, if your gym offers circuit training classes. You’ll need to move quickly from station to station, so it’s tough to do on your own during regular gym hours when others are using equipment. If you’re working with a certified personal trainer, ask for help in building a custom circuit training workout using a variety of equipment.

At the Park

The fitness trail, or parcourse are popular features at many parks across the United States and around the world. This can be considered a form of aerobic + strength circuit training. The parcourse consists of walking trails with exercise stations located along the way. But even if your local park doesn’t have a circuit set-up, you can create your own aerobic + strength circuit by alternating brisk walking, bicycling or running on a trail with push-ups, dips, and squats, incorporating things found in nature, such as a tree, a boulder, or even a park bench.

Turn Up the Heat

If you’ve been doing circuit training for a while and are ready to push harder, try these ideas:

  • Shorten your time intervals. If you’re currently doing 2-minute cardio intervals, shorten them by 30 seconds. This will keep you moving faster through the circuit, allowing you to complete more stations in the same amount of time.
  • Boost your intensity. If your strength sets are feeling too easy, increase the resistance or choose a different exercise that works the same muscle group. Take your cardio intervals up a notch by accelerating or adding another cardio exercise.
  • Do a backward circuit. If you always complete your circuit in the same direction, start at the opposite end to challenge your body and your brain in a new way.
Circuit Training Basics


Strength Training or Cardio First? Does Fasted Cardio Work? + How to Break a Weight Loss Plateau

3 Rules Of Strength: Maximize Your Gains

Don't overcomplicate strength training because a DVD said to. Harness the gains you seek with proven lifts and the principles of practice, efficiency, and intensity.

I coached high school football for a year after I graduated college. Working with teenage linebackers taught me to condense and convey information quickly because they could only handle so much at one time. Now, several years into my professional career, I find the same training rules apply to adults.

I give my clients one piece of information at a time, and only two or three coaching cues during a training session. The limited information keeps my trainees from overanalyzing, which subsequently improves their performance. The same is true for exercise selection. Rather than crowding a program
with excess miscellaneous, wonder exercises, I keep it simple and use 2-3 solid movements per session.

Cut what's meaningless and keep what's productive. That's my program mantra. I used to overcomplicate and overanalyze every program I wrote, which was dumb. Instead of spending limited time on a thousand lifts, it's better to build strength with the basics. That's what I'm here to help you do.

Strength Made Simple
Practice, efficiency, and intensity are elements that build a strong human. Whether you've been a competing powerlifter since the 1980s or a desk jockey looking for manly time with the iron, using 2-3 concentrated movements per session will hit all three elements. Oh, and it gets you strong. Strong like if Godzilla and Sasquatch had a baby named Thunder.

1. Practice

Most people don't view gym time as practice, but that's exactly what it is. People who achieve excellence aren't born excellent. They achieve excellence because they do what they're excellent at often. A terrific housepainter most likely got that way through painting a lot of houses. If you want to be a great squatter, do lots of squats.

2. Efficiency

Efficiency comes from time spent training quality movements. Concentrate your focus on a few solid exercises and you'll spend less time in the gym. To be strong you must put yourself in the best position possible to efficiently generate force. Finding the best position for your body requires countless reps.

3 Rules Of Strength: Maximize Your Gains

3. Intensity

Reps must be performed at varying intensities for the same exercise at different times within a training session for maximum results. You don't have to move on to a random exercise. You can continue to focus on a lift that requires practice.

Take these three elements and apply them consistently to get big and strong. Forget "muscle confusion." The body adapts with consistency, not randomness. Use the same lifts consistently and progress by building size and strength. Unless you're in the midst of a seven-year plateau, training at maximum intensity, you don't need a variety swing.

What Lifts Should You Perform?

It depends on what lifts you want to be good at and what lifts work well for your body. Luckily, there are movements faithfully devoted to the promotion of human strength. They should be familiar to you: squats, presses, deadlifts, and Olympic lifts.

strength training

When you determine what you want to master and what lifts don't leave your frame in shambles, all that's left is to combine the elements: practice, efficiency, intensity, and your chosen lifts. The result? A supernova of progressive strength and size gains!

(Note: If you've never had your movement assessed by a qualified strength coach, make it happen. It's the most efficient way to discover what exercises work for you.)


7 Ways to Maximize Your Strength and Speed

Strength and speed are both essential, but the real key to performance lies in combining the two. Learn the 7 principles of power.

Look at a bodybuilder or powerlifter: Who doesn't want to be powerful!? While you may have a general idea as to what that means—perhaps a gorilla's beastlike strength, a monster truck, or maybe Benny deadlifting a grand—in fact power has a more precise definition. What does "power" mean and how do you develop it? Let's take a look.

If you remember from your high school physics class—you did take that, right?—power is expressed as equal to force times distance over time (P=(F x D)/T). To further confuse you, force is created by a factor of acceleration times mass (F=MA). These equations prove that weight alone isn't the only factor in play; so are speed (how fast you accelerate), distance, and time. Hence, training for power encompasses all these variables. To be clear, training for power isn't the same as training for strength.

Any change in the force produced, distance moved, or the time it took you to move a given load will lead to an increase in power production. It's not just about moving heavy weight!

Intelligent lifters looking for greater power must incorporate these 7 principles of power.


Maximal strength might be the most obvious trait to develop for power development; clearly it's the most beneficial and recognizable feature. Many lifters will recognize this concept in their maximal effort training used to develop absolute strength.

strength training

We could define absolute strength as the maximum amount of force an athlete can apply with his body or the maximum amount of force that can be produced in a particular muscular contraction. This trait is primarily developed through training with loads that are above 90 percent of your one-rep max. The core concept behind absolute strength is motor unit recruitment.

Training to increase strength (typically with heavy loads for fewer reps) is distinct from training for size (moderate loads for moderate reps), though you'll get some size benefits with strength training. The number of firing motor units is also affected by the load. While bodybuilders usually take sets to failure to exhaust a muscle, that's not the case when training for strength. All these variables make strength training distinct and allow you to tailor your training efforts to focus on this building absolute strength.

strength training - reach

This might be better described as speed strength, learning to move heavy weights quickly. Dynamic refers to the speed at which force can be produced, rather than sheer force alone. Some athletic movements (gymnastics, shot put, jumping, etc.) require this type of speed, as do some moves in the weight room (Olympic weightlifting, box jumps).

Speed strength trains rate of force development and could be the most important athletic trait to consider. I In the previous section we were concerned with the overall number of motor units recruited, now we are trying to recruit those motor units earlier and faster.

Dynamic strength is best developed with moderate loads moved at a maximum velocity. Remember that power—or force—is the product of mass (absolute strength) and velocity (speed strength); these are the two pillars your development must rest on. Absolute strength is trained with heavy slow-moving loads; speed strength is trained with light or moderate loads moved fast. That's a critical difference.

Intensities are best programmed in the 40-60 percent range, so these loads are relatively light. Still, repetitions should still be kept low, usually in the 2-3 rep range. To increase volume, add more sets rather than adding reps (12 sets of 3 instead of 4 sets of 9). Move these loads as fast as you can. If you lift 500 pounds and are training with 250 pounds, apply your full throttle 500 pounds to that bar and rock it.


While plyometrics are reliant on speed strength, a primary principle that differentiates them from dynamic effort methods is the emphasis on the stretch-shortening cycle at the beginning of each rep. Think of your muscles as a rubber band. Before you can shoot that rubber band at someone, you first have to stretch it. While not a perfect analogy, lengthening muscles deep into an eccentric motion stores potential elastic energy. This is why your first rep on dumbbell bench presses is often the most difficult: You start with the weight in the down position, and that first rep has no elastic energy built up. To apply power in plyometrics, the joint angle is then reversed as quickly as possible.

Frequently, focus is given to the eccentric (negative, or lowering) phase of the movement. The force the muscle produces depends on the speed of shortening or lengthening and the absolute length of the muscles at any instant in time. In eccentric exercise, force increases as the velocity of stretch increases.

The faster the transition from eccentric to concentric occurs, the greater the muscular contraction produced and the greater overall power. Jumps, clapping push-ups, bounds, throws, and hops are all effective plyometric movements to train you to move quickly.

plyometrics - strength training

Bodybuilders may lift slowly to maximize hypertrophy, but for athletes or people seeking power development, lifting slowly isn't going to cut it. If you want to add some "go" to your "show" include plyo in your training. It will go a long way to keeping those growing muscles fast and athletic.

The general consensus is that movements which require higher skill and neurological activity be done early in your training session. While some plyo or Olympic lifts won't prevent you from making your strength or hypertrophy gains—if anything, they'll help—fatiguing motor units prior to explosive training may hinder your ability to improve power production. My regular recommendation for strength athletes is to include 1-2 plyometric movements immediately after warm-ups, just prior to the performance of major strength movements. This will not only further warm-up goals, but will also improve nerve-muscle reactions and your ability to produce force in your primary strength movement. Select plyometrics movements that are applicable to that training day, such as depth jumps for squat day, throws for pressing, etc.


While there are times you want to change direction as fast as possible at the bottom of a rep (see plyometrics above), dead-stop training does the exact opposite. To completely eliminate the elastic energy created by the stretch reflex, come to a complete stop at the bottom of the rep. This is precisely how deadlifts are done when the bar settles on the ground at the start of each rep. That makes the beginning of the movement harder than it would've been. If the bottom of the range of motion is a weak area—such as the bottom of a bench press when the bar is just off your chest—then you'll want to focus on strengthening this portion of the lift, and that's what you can do with dead-stop training.


Applied to the bench press, the weight starts at chest level instead of being lowered from the top. You'll need to be in the power rack for this movement. Set the pins so the bar will be just above the chest. Starting from the bottom eliminates some of that stretch reflex, helping you get significantly stronger in the bottom position. You can adjust the height of the pins to work through sticking points or to progressively bring down a heavier weight (this is great for squats, too).

You'll want to be using the power rack (some Smith machines allow you to set the bottom of the range of motion, too) on these movements so a weight can settle between reps. Alternatively, holding the bottom position for a long count between reps also reduces the stretch reflex.


As you normally perform your movement, the bar speed increases; you're typically a little stronger over the middle of the rep. This makes training a little one-dimensional. Adding bands and chains to the bar creates contrasting, variable resistance; this helps you overcome accommodation.

Bands and chains work in a similar way. At the bottom of the movement the load is lighter—the bands aren't stretched or the chains are settled on the floor. As you drive through the concentric phase of the lift, they increase the resistance so the weight becomes heavier toward the top. This increased weight strengthens your lockout and teaches you to accelerate. Bands and chains can be used for both heavy and light work.

Use 5/8-inch chains folded in half and attached to a 1/4-inch leader chain that's suspended from the bar. Adjust the leader so that a link or two touches the floor at the top of the movement. For most people 1-2 chains are sufficient.

Bands come in two sizes. Short bands are ideal for benches and deadlifts, while long bands can be used for anything. Both come in a range of resistances, from 30 to more than 200 pounds. Make sure the bands are securely anchored, and—with long bands—play with the setup until you have adequate tension both at the bottom and top. There should be no slack in the bands at any time.


The more stable you are, the more power you'll be able to express.

stability - strength training

There was a wave of popularity for a while for training in an unstable environment, such as on a ball or on one leg, though thankfully it's falling out of practice. While there are some applications for such techniques, they do little to help you become more powerful. Such techniques are great for core building but come at the expense of power, strength and size development. Moving heavy loads requires you to be stabilized, and any energy "leak" in your system, lack of tightness in any area, or any instability will radically decrease the amount of force you're able to transmit to the bar.

Imagine your bench press. Many trainees can be seen lying back on an exercise ball, a habit that's about as effective as firing a cannon out of a canoe. Did you know that many strong powerlifters get sore lats from bench pressing? That is how tight they are. From the grip on the bar, to retracted shoulder blades, through the hips, and down the legs that are driving down into the floor, the entire system is set up to provide stability to the load being moved.

Whatever the lift is, you should be solid as a rock. You'll have whatever part of you is touching the floor to push against, maybe a bench, even a belt, but much of your stability will have to come from you being properly positioned and keeping muscles tight.


Lifting is a skill, though many don't see it that way. Through training hard, I squatted 400 pounds. Good programming brought me to 500. However, my subsequent jumps to 600 and then 700 would've been impossible without a heavy emphasis on technique. I frequently compare lifting skills to the golf swing. Mark Bell (an 800-plus bencher) can be witnessed carefully setting up and doing reps with the empty bar; to understand this watch Phil Mickelson take a few practice swings before teeing off. Both athletes are practicing the skill involved with their sport.


Ultimately, there isn't an easy, practical training tip to give here like in the other six sections. Despite that, this may be the most valuable advice in the whole piece. I'm constantly amazed at people who make a living in this industry who know little about lifting.

Be a student, absorb knowledge, and study. High-level power will be impossible without continuous learning. How does bar position affect torso angle in the squat? Should the bar path in a bench press move in an arc or a straight line? Why are my knees caving in? These simple questions and answers are absolutely vital to good technique. Ensuring you know the answers will go a long way to increasing your power output.