Century Sets (100 Reps)

If you haven’t been adding Century Sets into your routine, it’s about time you did. This idea (which has been around for decades) could literally change your gains.

So what exactly are Century Sets, you ask. Simply put, sets of 100 reps. That’s right, 100 repetitions of one specific exercise. And whether that is 100 straight reps, or 4 sets of 25 reps; the goal is to do as many reps with as minimal sets as possible.

The purpose of Century Sets is to stimulate maximum hypertrophy responses. Lifting weights is the most common way to increase muscle hypertrophy or growth. However, many of us either aren’t lifting heavy enough or, over time, become lackadaisical in our training (or stuck in a rut). Hitting a plateau as a lifter can be detrimental to our gains and overall training. But, adding Century Sets into your regime can shock your system to stimulate muscle growth. Let me explain.

Each muscle has within it three types of fibers: slow twitch, intermediate, and fast twitch or ballistic. Each fiber type responds differently to training in relation to how they fatigue and where they use energy. There are a variety of rep ranges and different levels of fatigue within each muscle fiber. For instance, slow twitch fibers usually reach concentric momentary muscular failure somewhere between 12 to 25 reps. Intermediate fibers hit momentary muscle failure between 10 and 15 reps. The ballistic fibers (the power fibers) usually reach maximum stimulation at 6 to 12 reps. These three fibers normally don’t work together during training. Once you hit failure with a muscle fiber, the next fiber kicks in to give you the power you need to hit failure of the next fiber.

In order to make progress you must train with intensity. When you add in the Century Sets to your training program it, as stated earlier, shocks the system and stimulates all the muscle fibers unilaterally so that you are getting 100% of muscle fiber utilization during a single set.

During your 100 set you reach concentric momentary muscle failure of each fiber group. When you hit failure at 15-20 reps your explosive fibers kick in; when that happens, take 5 seconds to rest, reset, and replenish a little glycogen into your muscles. When you’re fatiguing, you can also use this time to increase or decrease your relative load if necessary. After that 5 or 10 second rest, get right back to your training and continue to your maximum rep. Although your slow twitch and intermediate fibers have fatigued, they are still working with your explosive fibers to help your reach 100% utilization.

To build muscle, you must build the optimal hormonal environment within your muscles. Not lifting to failure will not help you reach those maximum gains you are seeking. Adversely, if you are lifting heavy but for shorter sets (10-12) and not fatiguing your muscles, you could likely be putting too much stress on your joints and overtraining the nervous system instead.

The training program for Century Sets should be frequent, choosing just a few exercises for each set, and performing several times a week, at minimum. The pump you’ll get from your sets will be insane and your muscles will gleam for about 20 minutes post-workout.

FB

Fat and Muscle

Over the years I have often been posed with the question (or statement) of “How do I turn my fat into muscle?” It seems to be the goal of so many, but the long and short of it: you don’t!

You simply cannot turn your fat into muscle – no matter how clean you eat or how hard you work out – because fat cells are independent from muscle cells. They are completely different tissues and cannot be interchanged.  

Muscle tissue is active and burns calories constantly, even at rest and sleep.  Muscle’s primary role is to power movement. Fat is primarily an energy store called upon only when necessary. Fat is the storage of excess energy and, until you burn it off, does nothing more than offer protection and insulation, as well as produces hormones.

You can, however, change the size of your cells. Yes – you can shrink the size of your fat cells. In order to do this you must be in a calorie deficit; meaning you are using more calories for energy than you’re consuming (through food). And in opposition, in order to grow muscle mass, you must be in a calorie surplus.

Again, muscle Burns 24/7 and the more muscle you have the more calories you are able to burn, without even trying. Here’s a bonus, if you are eating right and building muscle, the added mass can boost metabolism, and in turn, burn more fat while eating more calories. Losing fat and building muscle simultaneously is called body recomposition. It’s complex and achievable; but it is not turning one type of tissue into another. Body recomposition is not magic, but it is possible.

~Cheers

Peppermint Bark Energy Bites

It’s the time of year when people always celebrate with food. And there is an abundance of decadent treats. So, if you are a chocoholic like me, and struggling withn wanting to be healthy and also wanting to satisfy your sweet tooth, give this recipe a try: Peppermint Bark Energy Bites.

1/2 cup cup raw almonds

1/3 cup pitted medjool dates

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 tablespoon mini dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup crushed peppermint

INSTRUCTIONS

Put almonds in a food processor and chop.

Add the dates and blend well (it helps if you soak them in warm water to soften)

Add the cocoa powder, vanilla extract, peppermint extract, and coconut oil. Blend for several minutes until starting to combine. Add a couple drops of warm water if necessary to help it move.

Add the chocolate chips and pulse a few final times to combine well. Don’t pulverize the chocolate.

Roll the mixture into tiny balls. The coconut oil will soften and it will be very messy. 🤦‍♀️While it is still warm press into the peppermint.

Allow the finished bites to set in the fridge for 30 minutes to re-solidify the coconut oil.

So yummy.

Cheers

(Late) Fall Fitness Challenge

I woke up to a message this morning asking if I’m okay because I have not posted lately. The truth is, I haven’t had motivation to write. Covid, a busy life, and just all-around lack of motivation has prevented me from writing anything.

On top of all of that, three weeks ago I had an accident and required surgery, and because of that I am not able to exercise for a very long time. I have been walking at least once daily. And I look forward to incorporating more movements into my routine. But I have had to suspend my gym membership, I am not allowed to do many exercises, I’m not even allowed to run. My healing time is estimated at a minimum of three months. Although I do hope to be able to get some movements into my routine sooner rather than later.

But, here I am, trying to get back into the spirit of things an offering you a late fall Fitness challenge.

So, as always this is a challenge that you can do on its own if you’re new to working out, or you can incorporate it into your regular routine. You can do it once per day, or as many times as you like. That’s what I like about these challenges. You can make it work for you. If you’re super busy and don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to a new exercise routine, this is perfect for getting you started. If you have a few minutes extra on your lunch break or in the morning after dinner, toss in this daily challenge.

Cheers

June Challenge

It’s been a while since I have posted a Monthly Fitness Challenge.  I always have such great feedback when I do post them, so I figured why not make June a Fitness Challenge month.

JUNE CHALLENGE\

The last few months, as we’re in the midst of a global pandemic, have been difficult.  It know that many people have struggled with isolation, myself included, and some have struggled with keeping up with their regular fitness routines.

Although I have been adamant about maintaining my own regime, I got the news this weekend that my gym will not be opening anytime soon.  I’m beyond disappointed.  I miss my gym fam, but, more importantly, I miss having access to equipment at the gym that I do not have access elsewhere.  I’m going to figure it out and hopefully find an alternative gym to shack up with until mine reopens.

If you have been struggling with keeping up with your workouts, or just want to kick start your June, why not check out (or add in) this challenge.  Have a little fun with it.  That’s the most important part.  Don’t let your workouts become a chore.  Instead, look at them as a reward for your mind, body, and spirit.  ❤

~Here’s to a great June!

Be the Magic

Something I consistently see and hear, as I scroll through social media posts or listen to people talk, when it comes to weight loss, is that everyone wants the quick fix.  I hear them say “I want to lose weight as fast as possible” or “I need to lose 30 pounds in two months”, etc.  Everyone wants this unwanted weight to disappear without having to do much about it.  I mean, honestly, that would be great and ever-so-satisfying.  But, that is not realistic.
I have known people who have tried every diet or fad under the sun: low carb (some people not even knowing what exactly a carb is), keto, high protein, this, that, and the other thing.  And these people, most of them, have failed.  They fail at their diets, they fail at weight loss, they fail in general because they want that quick fix.  They want magic.
But magic doesn’t exist.  Hard work does.  Self love does.
There are two statements I have made over the years that I continue to stand by…1.  The weight didn’t come on over night, it should not come off over night.  2.  If you’re not willing to do the work, you’re not ready to lose the weight.
I say these things confidently because for a very long time, in my younger years, I wanted the magic.  I was willing to do whatever it took to ditch the excess weight on my body.  That lead to obsessive exercising and eating disorders.  Although I wanted to lose weight then, I was not committed to putting in the work for life-long achievement.  Yes, I was exercising, but it wasn’t healthy and it was not proper.
It wasn’t until years later that I heard “If you’re not willing to do the work, you’re not ready to lose the weight”, and, as I have said many times since then, it resonated deeply with me.  And it’s now a mantra I stand by.  You need to put in the effort in order to reach your goals, and to maintain them.
As a trainer and a nutrition and weight loss coach, it often makes my heart sink when I see (usually the same) people fall into the pitfalls over and over and over again…wanting to lose weight, but not putting in the work.  Losing weight should be more than just about getting thin; it should be about bettering your health, your heart, and your mind.  I know all too well how hard it is on your self-esteem and mental health when carrying excess weight.  Believe me, I understand the struggle with confidence.  Although, even as a trainer and coach, I am still not where I want to be, my confidence has grown stronger since I began achieving my goals by putting in the work for them.
wedding 1wedding 2
Before and after making my own magic 
I continue to work for it, and as my body grows stronger, so does my confidence….because I know I have damn well put in the effort to get where I am.  And that should be true for everyone with everything,  It is my dream that people will fall in love with fitness as I did.  I know that it may be a pipe dream, but it would be so wonderful to see everyone working toward their goals and not “dialing it in.”  It crushes me when I see people promoting unhealthy diets and fads because, for the most part (some of them are excluded, of course), I know how bad they are, how harmful some of them can be to the body, and I know the high failure rates with them.  And I know how all too well how detrimental that failure can on one’s mind and spirit.
So, instead of looking for the next big thing or the pill or the fad that promises you  instant or magical results…..BE THE MAGIC!  Remember that you have worth and that if you put in the effort for you, you can get the results that you want, but that it takes time and effort and work.

Magic doesn’t exist.  Hard work does.  BE THE MAGIC.

~Cheers

 

Nutrition During Quarantine

Being isolated is HELL.  I know some of you are enjoying the stay-at-home part of Covid; but I am not one of them.  I thrive on socializing and doing what is part of my daily routine.  That includes my nutrition.  I don’t want to be one of those people who eat because I’m bored – and believe me, I AM BORED!
So how have I been handling things during this lockdown of the world?  The same way I handle my nutrition on any other given day: carefully.

Vegg

This IS a snack!

I have been running first thing in the mornings, and usually follow that up with a boot camp session via Zoom.  Somewhere in between (or depending on how exhausted I am – I have been having very strange nightmares and not sleeping well), I will have a cup of coffee.  It may be before my run, but my bladder is not usually strong enough for me to pounce around after my cuppa joe.  So, usually, post-run/pre-workout I will sip my coffee.  During my workout I ensure to guzzle water.  I am finding I’m not drinking near as much water as I normally do when I’m working.  So I have been making a conscious effort to hydrate more.  After my workout is finished, I may make eggs (and maybe another cup of coffee).  I love eggs.  They are the easiest food and so versatile and packed full of protein and nutrients.  Yesterday, I added a little avocado with my eggs.  By the way, have you ever had warmed avocado?  So, so good!
I haven’t been eating much throughout the day.  Partly because I’m having my first meal (eggs) so late in the morning; it’s usually close to lunch time so I don’t feel the need to have lunch.  But if I’m hungry, I’ll find something – rice cakes and veggies, or fruit, tuna, or even a piece of cheese.  I don’t consume a lot of dairy in my diet because I’m allergic, but sometimes a girl just wants a piece of cheese.  Sometimes, I’ll guzzle more water because, as we know, our thirst can often be confused for hunger.
The one (good) thing about being home is that I get to have dinner at dinner time.  Normally, my gym sessions and boot camp classes go so late that I never have dinner at a normal time.  If I can eat before 8:30 in the evening, that’s pretty good.  So, being able to eat at a more “normal” time has been interesting and something I haven’t be able to do in years.
I’ve been sticking to a pretty standard nutritionally-packed meal – lots of vegetables and usually some protein (chicken, fish, eggs).  The other night I made a shrimp stir-fry and it was so good!  I never keep bread in the house (unless I specifically want bread), or snacks that aren’t so good.  One thing that I have been craving non-stop is chocolate.  Especially Reese’s chocolate and peanut anything.  When that craving hits, what I sometimes will do is mix a spoonful of Fatso Peanut Butter with some cocoa powder or chocolate protein.  Yum.
Just reminder that this is not forever.  So, make your choices wisely.  Allow yourself treats here and there – especially if you’re really craving them – but make sure you are actually treating yourself and not binging and not bored and not eating just for the hell of eating.
~FB

Isolating a Fitness Trainer

Here we are smack dab in the middle of a world pandemic due to Covid-19, and I am not at the gym.  I’m not teaching my classes.  I am not training clients or giving orientations at the gym.  I am not meeting with nutrition clients.  And I am no longer running with my race buddy.  So what have I been doing while the entire world practices social distancing and isolation?

I have been running and walking a lot. A LOT!  Isolation is not good for my mental health.  I’m very much an extrovert- and a social butterfly – and being left alone to my own devices can sometimes be detrimental to my health.  So I’m taking advantage of the outdoors as much as possible.  I’m also taking advantage of social media communication outlets for video chatting (and telephone chatting) as much as possible.

I’m still working out.  Lord knows I miss the gym and my classes and my fit-fam, and I miss the weights, but I am still working out consistently.  In addition to running and walking, I am still strength training (although my home weights are not nearly as heavy as I require.  But I’m still lifting and that matters.

Weights

I’m  hosting online boot camp and personal training sessions.  And honestly, I LOVE IT!|  I have had remote clients in the past, but right now, since this is really all I can do, I am remote training several times a week.  I’ve been using Facebook Video and Zoom; both are great platforms.

AMYBOOTCAMP

Bootcamping, personal training, and doing what I can to keep my peeps (and myself) busy.  PS – Training is always better with Bunny Ears

I have also been taking advantage of some other equipment for my workouts – and have taken my training outside.  It’s finally SPRING in Nova Scotia (although, it IS Nova Scotia so I’m sure we’ll see more snow) and when the sun is shining, so am I.  Today, after my run, I got creative with a HIIT workout and utilized my weighted jump rope, TRX System, and my slam ball.  I had a blast.

In addition to maintaining my own fitness regime, I’m keeping up in the social media community.  I’m staying accountable, encouraging others to do the same, and promoting my fitness business.  Many of us in the industry took a hard hit (literally, my new boot camp session was just starting when we were instructed to isolate and that gyms would be closing), and since we are not certain how long this will last, it’s important to stay an active presence in the fitness world.

I’m also one hundred percent about supporting others in the fitness community, and I think that it is important, as well, to like and cheer and promote others.  I don’t want to see anyone fail.  We are in this together.

~FB

 

October Fitness Challenges

It’s a brand new month and it’s also my Birthday Month (and Birthday Week!).  And just for that, I figured it was time to throw down another fitness challenge.
October is one of my favorite months….if not my favorite month.  The weather is basically perfect.  Not too warm, not too cool.  It’s a great time to get outside for activity: walk, run, hike, bike.  I run my boot camp classes outside through the entire summer – rain or shine.  And sometimes it can get so ungodly hot (thank goodness for shade and water!) that it’s almost unbearable.  But once October hits I am so happy to be outside for fitness.  And the smell and the colors of October are just compliments to the crisp air.
You have two Challenge options this month (and I would recommend popping outside to complete them):
  1. Spooktacular October (Guns, Buns, Abs)

october fit challenge calendar

2.  Awesome October (Arms and Abs)

october2These are great little workouts to get you moving all through the month.  You can do one or the other, or you can do both.  If you do both, make the rest days correspond with each other so that you’re not constantly exercising.

If you already have a fitness routine, throw one of these challenges into the mix.
Have fun!
~FB

Muscle Memory

Muscle Memory (or Muscle Science) is a phenomenon whereby it is much easier to regain lost muscle mass than it is to put on new (initial) muscle mass.

Shrinking muscle or losing gains is a fear that many gym goers and lifters fear.

  1. Back when I was in college I broke my ankle pretty severely.  I spent 12 weeks on crutches and lost most of the muscle in my calf.  In fact, the muscle had diminished so much that I would play with it and watch it fling back and forth like a pendulum.  Once I was “back on my feet again” (literally), I was surprised at how quickly I regained the muscle in my leg.
  2. When guys walk back into my gym after taking months off from their training, I watch as their gains increase quite rapidly and their muscles grow so quickly, it’s like they never even stopped.

The reason:  The arc of building muscle size and strength lies in your nuclei.  Nuclei control protein synthesis.  The more nuclei you have, the more protein you are able to turn into muscle.  The first effect training has on your muscles is not actually growth; it’s to create more nuclei, which eventually facilitate the development of more tissue.

Screen-Shot Muscle

Via

Further, our muscle fibers have satellite cells which donate myonuclei.  The myonuclei allows the cells to grow larger.  Once your muscle fibers get bigger, more myonuclei are required because they can’t regulate that size fiber any longer.  They have reached their maximum limit or myonuclei domain.  Resistance training induces permanent physiological changes to your muscle fibers.  The first time you begin strength training, your muscles adapt and become bigger and stronger, which is facilitated by increasing the muscle nuclei (aka myonuclei).

Muscle

Via

Myonuclei are permanent.  Although it was widely believed that once muscles started to atrophy, the cell death, or apoptosis, occurred and the myonuclei were removed. However, current studies have shown that the myonuclei still exist even after period of not training or inactivity.  Previously untrained muscles acquire newly formed nuclei by fusion of satellite cells preceding the hypertrophy.  Detraining or inactivity leads to atrophy, but not loss of myonuclei,  The elevated number of nuclei in muscle fibers in a hypertrophic episode would provide for muscle memory and long-lasting effects of training.  Because they are still present, these cells skip the process of creating new myonuclei, allowing atrophy and gains to occur at a faster rate than the initial gains.  By skipping the first step of satellite fusion and nuclear donation, new nuclei increases new muscle protein synthesis.

Just like riding a bike…

When muscles shrink due to inactivity (i.e. when training is stopped for a significant amount of time), it is much easier to rebuild that lost or shrunken muscle.  And it takes less  time to rebuild that mass, than it took to build it initially.

New myonuclei in muscle fibers are added before any major increase in size during overload.  Old and new nuclei are retrained during severe atrophy.  The myonuclei are protected from the high apoptotic activity in inactive muscle tissue.  So, even as muscle shrinks, the nuclei remain present.

If you are someone who has never trained before, then you do not have the accumulation of myonuclei, but it is easy to get, since basically everything we do is a stress.  Unlike someone who is already training, who will find that it becomes harder and harder to stress the muscle out.

And although you may lose the muscle, you don’t lose the myonuclei.  Any myonuclei accrued from previous training remains in the muscle fiber.  So, even though your muscles have gotten smaller because you haven’t used them, you still have the results of your previous hard work – this being the myonuclei – so you can bounce back fairly easily.

When training is resumed, muscles are able to grow rapidly because the initial stage of adding nuclei is skipped and, once the nuclei are roused, they can set about synthesizing protein pretty quickly.

Muscle memory is also why physiologists recommend filling your muscles with as many nuclei as you can while you’re young.  Building muscle gets harder as you age, whereas maintenance is easy.  The type 1 fibers dominate when you get older, and the type 2 fibers (the fast-twitch fibers) tend to wane, but they’re still there.

So, get to the gym and take advantage of building myonuclei while you can.  And just as importantly, if you’ve been pumping away for a while, afraid to take a break because of fear of loss of gains, go ahead and rest.  It takes a very long time to lose the gains you’ve worked so hard to accrue.  And, as per my recent post, Rest Days are just as important in attaining your goals.

~FB

July 2021
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