Simple Workout is now Pump Up Your Fitness!

The name has changed but the goal is the same: easy workout and diet ideas you can use right now to burn fat, build muscle and eat nutritious meals. I'm here to help!

Facebook iconLike the Pump Up Your Fitness Facebook page
and you could win an Iron Gym!

14 December 2010 ~ Comments Off on Like the Simple Workout Facebook Page, Win an Iron Gym!

Like the Simple Workout Facebook Page, Win an Iron Gym!

The Simple Workout Facebook page is now up and running, and there you’ll find more exercise and diet information from around the ‘net and beyond, along with special deals and contests.

Speaking of contests, I’m giving away an Iron Gym to one lucky Facebook friend! All you have to do is click the “Like” button on the Simple Workout Facebook page, and when it gets to 100 “Likes,” I’ll award the Iron Gym at random to one of those fans. 1 in 100 is surely better odds than you’ll get in most contests, right?

If you’d like to know more about the prize, an Iron Gym review resides at my men’s lifestyle site, Tao of Bachelorhood.

09 December 2010 ~ Comments Off on Fitness Gifts: Protein Shaker

Fitness Gifts: Protein Shaker

Stuck on a simple but useful holiday gift? Want to give something that says, “I support your fitness goals” but doesn’t say, “you really need to work out more”? I’ve got just the thing: a deluxe protein shaker.

If you’ve had much experience with protein powder (and if you’re doing any kind of muscle-building exercise, you should), you’ve probably found that it’s difficult to quickly mix it into milk or water without blobs of unblended powder floating on the top. With some powders, you can shake until you’re blue in the face (an exercise of its own) and it still clumps.

No longer, thanks to something called the Blender Bottle. This is a protein shaker cup with a difference: a wire ball that acts like a whisk, breaking up those blobs and leaving you with a smoothly blended protein drink.

In addition, this protein shaker has a tight-fitting screw-on lid and a “pop-top” drinking/pouring spout so you don’t have to remove the wire ball to enjoy your protein. All parts are easy to wash and dishwasher-safe.

I discovered the Blender Bottle when I got one as a gift—believe it or not, I had taken to using my electric blender to make batches of protein drink, but once I tried this shaker I never went back. It only takes about 15 seconds of moderate shaking to fully mix even the clump-prone powders I’ve had lying around. To sum up, awesome.

Anyone who uses protein powder will thank you for giving them a Blender Bottle. In fact, this gift reduces the “what if they’ve already got one?” factor: even if they DO own a protein shaker, most people will be happy to have a second one to take to work or school. And if their old protein shaker isn’t a Blender Bottle, they’ll probably throw the old one away.

Get the Blender Bottle protein shaker at Amazon.com.

07 December 2010 ~ Comments Off on Do You Need an Ab Workout Routine?

Do You Need an Ab Workout Routine?

It takes more than an "Ab Blaster" to get these. (Photo by Russ Anderson)

Abdominals are important. They form part of the core that makes you stronger and prevents back injury, and to most of us washboard abs are the most sought-after sign of fitness. Men’s Health, Women’s Health and Men’s Fitness can’t let a month go by without a cover story with abs “secrets” or the key to “blast belly fat.” The biggest-selling fitness equipment in TV ads are ab “blasters,” “crunchers,” “rockers” and “rollers.” There’s even a diet craze called “The Abs Diet.” Gyms feature rows of ab benches, filled with people doing hundreds of crunches.

Here’s the secret you’ll never, ever see on the cover of Men’s Health: There’s no such thing as targeting belly fat.

A Different Kind of Crunch

In fact, 75% of the process of getting killer abs isn’t an ab workout routine at all—it’s what you eat. If you stop eating the crap marketed to you on TV and start eating good, real food like vegetables, meat, eggs and fruit, you’ll see those abs much faster than the guy at the gym who does 100 sit-ups daily and then hits up Burger King.

The great part is, you can eat plenty of that real food. Consuming the building blocks for a healthy body will support your quest for abs. Just keep the fridge stocked!

Before long, you’ll not only be closer to killer abs, but you’ll also rid yourself of those lunch lady arms and man-boobs.

How to Build a Strong Core

Another abs secret revealed: the exercises most people do in order to strengthen their cores don’t do that much. Overdoing sit-ups and crunches can even harm your core.

Your time can be much better spent on strength exercises: you’ll not only engage your core (including your lower back, which is just as important as your abs), but you’ll also build your upper body to further enhance that V-shape everyone wants.

Then maintain good posture 24 hours a day—yes, the act of sitting, standing or walking can also strengthen your abs!

After you’ve lost the fat that’s covering them, you can do weighted resistance exercises to build the ab muscles, if bulging ab muscles are what you desire.

Exercises for Your Core

If you really want a workout that will help you to strengthen your midsection and sculpt your body, give these a try. In each case you should use enough weight to perform 10-12 reps with perfect form:

Standing Shoulder Press

Also known as the Military Press, a shoulder press from a standing position will force you to tighten your core and hold your body rigid, while developing your shoulders to enhance your overall shape:

  • Start in a standing position, with either a barbell or dumbbells at shoulder height.
  • Tighten your abs and push the weight up smoothly until your elbows are fully locked above your head. (Note: don’t lean back!)
  • Pause for a moment, then slowly lower the weight to the starting position.

Plank

The plank is an isometric exercise: instead of raising and lowering a weight, you hold one position for a period of time to place resistance on a muscle group. To get started:

  • Lie face down on an exercise mat, with your forearms and palms down.
  • Now raise yourself up on your forearms and toes, keeping your body rigid and straight (like a plank!). Contract your abs and hold them tight.
  • Hold for about 30 seconds, then lower yourself to the mat again. Rest briefly, then repeat.

Good Morning Exercise

This is a more advanced movement, in which you must absolutely keep your abs tight and your lower back straight. However, done right it will strengthen your lower back tremendously. Use light weight!

  • Start in a standing position with a barbell across your shoulders. (The Good Morning can also be done with one dumbbell or kettlebell, held with both hands.)
  • With your core tight and back completely straight, slowly push your hips back and lean forward until your back is parallel to the ground.
  • Pause for a moment, then raise back up by bringing your hips forward.

Instead of an ab workout routine, try these exercises. Others beneficial to your core include squats, deadlifts and just about any Olympic-style lift. Work in some leg raises and you may never have to do a crunch again!

27 November 2010 ~ Comments Off on Simple Workout Holiday Gifts: Iron Gym

Simple Workout Holiday Gifts: Iron Gym

The Iron Gym in its natural habitat.

With the holidays starting, there’s a dilemma that comes along with the thought of giving fitness-related gifts: will the recipient be happy or offended? It’s a dilemma that’s easily resolved as far as you’re concerned: don’t be afraid to drop subtle hints about the fact you’d like some new workout clothes, or fitness equipment.

In keeping with the Simple Workout charter, we’ll look at a few very simple gifts that can help you to exercise and eat better. Today it’s the Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar. This is an inexpensive piece of equipment that can help you with two of the best bodyweight exercises in the world: pull-ups and push-ups.

Pull-Ups

The Iron Gym really shines when it comes to pull-ups: in literally seconds it fits on any standard door with normal-size molding, and you’re ready to go. With five grip positions (wide and narrow with overhand or underhand grip, or palms in) you can start with the easiest position for you, then as you get stronger, try a more difficult grip.

With most home bodyweight or dumbbell workout programs, the only exercise missing is the pull-up, and the Iron Gym takes care of that. Some days I swear I can’t walk by the Iron Gym without putting it up and blasting out 10-12 reps. It’s just so easy.

Push-ups

As helpful as the Iron Gym is for pull-ups, it also makes a great base for push-ups. Put it on the floor with the curved part of the bar facing up, and you have padded hand grips. Because your palms are facing in, you’ll get a slightly different exercise out of the Iron Gym than you would with your palms on the floor. In this position you can also lower your chest slightly below your hands, giving you a greater range of motion.

Again, it’s as easy as putting the Iron Gym on the floor.

The Rest

The areas the Iron Gym doesn’t handle so well are sit-ups and dips. I’ve outlined this and more in my Iron Gym review at the Tao of Bachelorhood, but suffice to say you can do both of those exercises without the Iron Gym. It’s still an awesome enough value for what it does well that I can recommend it highly. If it will fit your door (very wide doors and doors with no moldings are a no-go) it’s a great part of a home workout.

So if you’re looking for an inexpensive fitness gift to hint at, you should strongly consider an Iron Gym.

18 November 2010 ~ Comments Off on The Healthiest Foods: Salmon

The Healthiest Foods: Salmon

The healthiest catch?

Let’s kick off our series on the foods you should be eating with the “king” of meats: wild-caught salmon. I can’t get enough of this “fatty” fish with its tender texture—and the raft full of nutrients in each serving doesn’t hurt either.

What is Salmon?

Salmon is a large fish with a unique lifecycle: born in fresh water streams, young salmon swim downstream to the sea, where they live most of their lives. after between one and four years, the mature fish return to the streams to spawn and ultimately die. Salmon live in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, but the most sustainable wild salmon habitat is in the Gulf of Alaska.

Salmon Nutrition Facts

Salmon are packed with protein (18g in a 3oz serving), vitamin D (up to 90% of daily recommended value) and omega-3 fatty acids that can greatly reduce the risk of disease and boost immunity and brain function. In its wild-caught form it’s about the healthiest animal protein you can consume. Other nutrients in salmon include potassium, selenium and vitamin B12. However, farmed salmon is prone to a much higher mercury and PCB content, as well as diminished nutrients and flavor. Look for wild-caught Alaska salmon such as sockeye, king or chinook.

How to Eat Salmon

With a lighter taste than other fatty fishes, even my picky friends who can’t stand anchovy or mackerel love salmon. Grill it and serve with lemon and peppercorns for a natural flavor, bake and serve it with a sauce, or use it with pico de gallo in spicy tacos. Blackened, cooked with rosemary or fennel (use many of the same spices you would with chicken) or mashed and mixed into a sandwich filling, salmon is versatile.

Although salmon is more expensive than other fish, you get great bang for your buck: just a 3-ounce serving is enough to offer its nutrient benefits. You can buy it in bulk and freeze it until you need it—some stores even carry frozen salmon in individual portions, ready to thaw and use.

Other fatty, healthy fish you might try include mackerel, trout, herring, anchovy and tuna, but salmon leads the pack.

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