“After spending a year changing my eating habits and getting introduced to the fitness world, I was able to transform my physical appearance and had hit my weight loss goal but was left wondering… what next? I worried that without having a number on the scale to work towards anymore I would put the weight back on and sink back into unhealthy habits like I had in the past. Fortunately, I stumbled upon a Facebook advertisement for an 8-week Spartan training program at Champion Fitness. I thought it would be a perfect challenge, a way to test my new physical limits and to keep myself focused on my health. I only planned to hang out for the 8 weeks, complete the race, and move on. Little did I know, the day I started at Champion Fitness was not the end of my journey but instead the start of an entirely new one. I loved the energy of the gym. The workouts were challenging and always changing, the people were friendly and encouraging, and it was impossible to not feel strong and empowered when there. I completed the 8-week Spartan training program, ran my race, and immediately signed up for a monthly membership. When I started at Champion Fitness, I worried about my ability to fit in because I had convinced myself that I was not an athlete, that I couldn’t run, and that I was overall just not very coordinated. When I realized that Spartan training was going to involve running, I was terrified, I almost backed out. Jason encouraged me to show up and put in the work and the other gym members encouraged me every time I did. I specifically remember Jason texting me after my first outdoor Spartan workout and telling me good job on showing up and working hard and that I WAS an athlete. That really stuck with me and meant everything! For almost 3 years now I have continued to show up and being an athlete has remained a priority for me. I discovered that not only could I run; I could also love it.

Fitness has become a huge part of who I am, and I thank Champion Fitness for helping me fall in love with living an active lifestyle. This gym has helped me to discover my competitive nature, be confident in my abilities, and strive to be my fittest healthiest self every day. “

Amber Nelson

What is fit?

Over the years countless people have said to me that they want to “get fit.”  But what is “fit?” For “Gym Guy” this may be defined as being able to bench press a convenient store.  For the 50 year old woman who hasn’t participated in a fitness program in over 20 years  simply being able to walk up stairs without pain or fatigue is a huge accomplishment.  While both of these are worthy accomplishments, they are only one of many components of fitness.  While  “Gym guy” may have impressive bench stats, he may lack the flexibility to comfortably tie his shoes.  And while our 50 year old novice can get up the stairs, she may lack the balance to get back down safely.

There are many components the need to be addressed in a fitness program.  :

  • Power:  The ability to generate the greatest amount of force possible in the shortest amount of time.  This is best accomplished through plyometric training.  Defined as quick, powerful movement involving an eccentric contraction, followed immediately by an explosive concentric contraction.
  • Speed, Agility, and Quickness:  Includes the ability to move in one direction as fast as possible,  change direction quickly, and to create speed in any direction or body orientation (forward, backward, lateral, diagonal, etc.)
  • Muscular Strength:  The ability of the neuromuscular system to produce internal tension and overcome an external force.
  • Balance/Stabilization:  The ability to stabilize a joint during movement 
  • Core Stability & Strength: The ability to stabilize the lumbo-pelvic hip complex (muscle of the pelvis, back, and abdominal region) during functional movement.
  • Flexibility: The normal extensibility of all soft tissues that allows full range of motion of a joint throughout movement.
  • Cardiovascular Endurance: The ability for the cardiovascular system to deliver oxygen throughout the body effectively and efficiently during activity.

Now it should be noted that being fit is relative to one’s fitness goals and their activity/sport demands.  In general, cardiovascular endurance is important, but isn’t the highest priority in some sports.  Take a running back for example, his job is to elude defenders at high speeds, possess the explosive power to accelerate to maximal running speed in the shortest amount of time possible.  Or… simply “go through” the opposition.  But for the weekend warrior or someone looking to get “fit” addressing all areas will maximize  performance and day to day function.

So what’s the best approach?  Integrate it all into one program!  Below are two “Strength & Conditioning Workouts”  The first is a beginning level, the second is more intermediate to advanced.  Adjust based on your fitness level and skill…and happy training!


Stroops – Asymmetrical Bar Training


Asymmetrical bar training (ABT) is a relatively new method of training that can enhance balance while improving core strength and rotational power. Essentially, ABT uses a rigid bar with resistance on only one end to create an unbalanced load to the exercise. This triggers the body’s natural tendency to counterbalance (“anti-rotate”) the force resulting in an increased challenge on the core muscles and spine stabilizers. Stuart McGill PhD who is a leading researcher on spine health related to exercise and sport performance states that “anti-rotation is a critical component for spine health and core performance.” Furthermore, ABT can be used to improve rotation force and creates a three dimensional movement throughout the body having a huge carryover into rotational sports like golf and baseball or even simple everyday activities like picking up your kids or doing yard work.

ABT can be used with a cable machine at the gym or more commonly, with resistance tubing. Exercises using movements like rotation, chopping, or even traditional exercises while stabilizing the bar from a variety of angles is a very effective way of adding another element to your fitness program. Begin with slower movements to build a solid foundation of balance and core strength. Once good control has been established, explosive and ballistic motions can be used for increasing power and improving conditioning.

Outlined below are three foundational exercises that will develop core strength, balance, power, and overall athleticism. Once you’ve mastered the basic movements, then add in the progressions for more challenge.

Chest Press:

Begin with your back facing the anchor point with the bar against your chest, making sure the resistance band in lined up with your right arm. Standing in a split stance with your left leg forward, engage your core muscles and press the bar away from you until your arms are both fully extended while keeping the bar at chest level. With control return the bar to the starting position and repeat the movement for 30 seconds then switch sides.

Progressions: Press from a neutral stance (feet hip width apart), add a forward step from neutral stance, add forward jump.

Stationary Lunge with Row:

Begin by facing the anchor point with the bar at chest level and your arms fully extended making sure the resistance band is lined up with your right arm. Standing in a split stance with your left leg forward, engage your core muscles, descend into your lunge and pull the bar toward you until it reaches your chest. With control return to the starting position and repeat the movement for 30 seconds then switch sides.

Progression: Add forward or backward movement to the lunge or try with a split jump

Low to High Chops (a.k.a. Slap Shots):

Begin in a split stance your left foot forward and your back facing the anchor point with the bar pointing towards the floor at approximately a 45 degree angle. Your right hand should be in an open (palms up) grip. Make sure the resistance band in lined up with your right arm and your hips are facing towards the bar.. Engage your core muscles and use your hips and arms to rotate the bar until your hips become square and the bar is parallel to the floor. With control return the bar to the starting position and repeat the movement for 30 seconds then switch sides.

Progression: Increase Speed and/or add in a shuffle

Places to find asymmetrical resistance bars:

Roll Your Way into Injury Prevention

Many recreational athletes, particularly runners, experience bouts of muscle soreness and, in some circumstances, overuse injuries. These injuries may include, knee pain, shin splints, and plantar fasciitis, to name a few. These overuse injuries are usually a result of the repetitive nature of training, which in part can lead to muscle tightness, adhesion build up, and altered joint mechanics. The good news is that over time injury prevention methods have evolved, including the technique of self- myofascial release (SMR). SMR can feel like a deep tissue massage and, like massage therapy, has numerous benefits which include improved flexibility, decrease in muscle knots/adhesions, and improved joint mechanics to name a few.  Plus, SMR is a great way to speed up recovery from previous workouts and is an effective way to keep any nagging injuries away before they start. SMR is best facilitated with the use of massage sticks or a foam roller. Foam rollers are an absolute must for any runner, weekend warrior, or gym rat. The cost ranges from $20 – $60 depending on which model you select, length, firmness, etc. You can purchase one locally at Boise Fitness Equipment or online from Perform Better.

Guidelines for SMR:
• Once you roll over a tight area, stop and rest on the “hot spot” for 20 – 30 seconds. You should experience a decrease in discomfort or feel the muscle release during this time. Continue further along the muscle until you find the next “hot spot.” This usually doesn’t take long for the first time user.
• Hold only to the point of tolerance, you should not experience sharp pain. Slight discomfort is what you are shooting for, similar to a deep tissue massage. Many manufacturers offer foam rollers with different densities depending on your pain threshold.
• Remember to breathe, maintain good posture, and engage your core muscles.
• Repeat 1 – 3 times/side.
• For optimal results, SMR can be done daily or at a minimum of 3x/week.

Here are my favorite specific SMR activities:

IT band: Lie on your right side, supported by your right elbow; keep head in neutral and ears aligned with shoulders. Place roller under right thigh and place left leg over and in front of the right leg. Roll just below hip joint down to the lateral thigh to the knee.

Piriformis/glutes: Sit on full roller and cross right ankle over left knee. Roll on the right hip area while pulling the right knee toward the opposite shoulder to increase the stretch. To massage the glutes, sit on the roller with feet and hands in front. Push roller backward with buttocks.

Quadriceps: Lie on your belly with the foam roller above your knees and elbows bent with forearms touching the floor. Pull the abdominals in and tighten glutes to help prevent the back from sagging. Roll from pelvic bone to the knee emphasizing the front and lateral thigh.

Calves:  Position the foam roller just above your heel at the achillies tendon with the opposite leg stacked on top. Using the weight of your leg and by lifting your hips, roll towards the top of your calf by using your arms to push your body forward.  Reposition your arms as needed to minimize any fatigue.  Rotate your leg to work both the inner and outer portions of the calf as well.


Minestrone Soup

I was fortunate enough to receive the official cookbook of Thug Kitchen from a friend of mine a few weeks ago. For those of you who aren’t familiar…Thug Kitchen’s philosophy is “Verbally abusing everyone into a healthier diet” or in simpler terms “Eat like you give a f***.”  Whether you find their approach comedic genius or juvenile is beside the point of me sharing.  They simply produce amazing recipes that are primarily vegetable based that will absolutely blow you away!  My first taste was their minestrone soup.  Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of minestrone which made it even that more surprising when I continually went back for bowl after delicious bowl.  And with the weather quickly dropping to bone chilling temperatures, now is a perfect time for you to try it for yourself.  Below is the “PG” rated version in case any of you are offended by “colorful” language…but if not, you’ll want to get a feel for the swagger and attitude they put into their passion. Check them out on Facebook or go directly to their website and get signed up.

Either way try it for yourself…you won’t regret it!

Minestrone Soup – by Thug Kitchen
Serves: 4 to 6


2 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced into half moons
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 large potato or turnip, cut into dice-size pieces
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1 can (14.5 ounces) low-salt diced tomatoes
½ cup dried black lentils
7 cups vegetable broth
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup small pasta shapes, like shells or stars or whatever
5 cups shredded green cabbage or kale
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
Juice of ½ lemon
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup minced fresh basil
Ground Pepper


  1. Grab a large soup pot and heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrots, and celery and sauté until the oninon starts to look golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the potato, rosemary, garlic, pepper flakes, and bay leaf.  Cook for another 30 minutes to get the garlic going.  Add the diced tomatoes and lentils and give it another 30 seconds.
  2. Now, pour in all the broth and let it come to a simmer.  Reduce the heat and let that go at a gentle pace until the lentils are almost cooked but the potato is tender, about 15 minutes.  Next, add the salt, pasta, and cabbage (if you are using kale, don’t add it yet) and keep the pot gently simmering until the pasta is cooked all the way, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on your pasta.  (If you are using kale, fold it into the pot after the pasta is all cooked and let that pot simmer for 2 more minutes).
  3. Add the vinegar and lemon juice, stir well, and remove from the heat.  Fold in the parsley and basil and let the pot sit for a minute or two.  Taste to see whatever else it might need, like pepper or rosemary to taste.  Pull out the bay leaf and serve right away.

Dumbbell Strength Complex

This is one of my favorite strength complexes that I like to use personally and for clients as well and for a few reasons. One, it hits all of our major muscle groups. Two, because it’s a complex there is a high metabolic demand which leads to a higher calorie output post workout. Third, it’s very effective if you’re looking to get a quick and effective workout in. You could easily complete 3-5 sets in under a half hour. I promise you’ll be absolutely lit up in no time! And last, it can be sequenced in a variety of ways. But before we get to that, let’s address the specific moves in the complex.

Essentially, this is a five part complex:
1. Burpee
2. Renegade Row
3. Squat to Bicep Curl to Press
4. Reverse Lunge
5. Pull Up

As far as weights go, I generally recommend a weight range of 10-25# for females and 25-40# for males. Due to the high metabolic demand, fatigue can compromise form and with the unilateral load of a renegade row, we don’t want to get too crazy with weight to minimize risk of injury. We’re not looking for hypertrophy with a complex like this. This is more for strength endurance and power endurance, so keep the weights a little lighter.


Single Reps:  Performing this sequence the first time through I’d recommend this scheme first.  Simply perform 1 repetition per move and then repeat the complex between 5-10 times.  This way you can complete the sequence successfully and it will help you gauge any adjustments that need to be made with your weights.  Specifically, you’ll get an idea where you could push for more reps and/or where your ceiling for reps on certain exercises would be.  For example, most will be able to perform more lunges compared to pull ups.

An alternative to completing a fixed number of  single rep cycles is performing the sequence for a set time.  Usually 5-10 minutes is plenty and either way is effective, personal preference is mostly what it boils down to.  Rest 2-3 minutes between sets, performing 3-4 sets total.

Ascending Ladders: Here you simply start with low reps 1-2 of each move, then add 1-2 more with each additional round.  There is really no right or wrong to how you approach this.  It’s all relative to your strength and endurance levels.  Discovering how high you can ascend to can serve as an effective way to measure improvement as well.  Perform 1-3 rounds total, resting 2-3 minutes between rounds.

Sample ladders reps:

Option 1: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Option 2: 2, 4, 6, 8

Option 3: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9

Descending Ladders: The opposite of Ascending, but now we start with higher reps (around 10-12) then subtract 1-3 more with each additional round.  Again there really is no right or wrong to how you approach this, simply play around and adjust it to your current strength and endurance levels.  Perform 1-3 rounds total, resting 2-3 minutes between rounds.

Sample ladders reps:

Option 1: 10, 7, 4, 2, 1

Option 2: 10, 8, 6, 4, 2

Option 3: 12, 9, 7, 5, 3, 1

Individualized Rep Scheme: This last approach is probably the most taxing overall.  Simply, you perform as many reps as possible of each exercise before progressing to the next.  For example, you would begin with the burpee to renegade row and repeat as many times as possible.  Followed by dumbbell squat to bicep curl with press…then lunges…then pull ups…then rest!  I recommend a full recovery of 3-5 minutes in between sets.  If you don’t…you won’t make it through the next round!  This is more of a strength based approach to the complex, so give put all you can into the set so you respect (i.e. want that full rest period).  Complete 2-4 sets total.

So there you have it!  Play around with it…get after it…and most importantly…





How important is a training shoe?

We all know the importance of wearing proper footwear when it comes to exercise. However, many of us neglect to give it proper consideration. There is a tendency to think that specialized shoes are limited exclusively to runners. But this isn’t necessarily the case. I recently had the opportunity to have a discussion with a local expert on the subject. Holly Finch, owner of The Pulse Running & Fitness Shop in Meridian. She has been an avid runner for 25 years including ultra distances (over 26.2 miles) and knows first hand how important the right shoe is. I was eager to pick her brain about the rational behind the shoe selection process and why it should be a higher priority not only for runners, but exercise enthusiasts as well. Here are the four most important things I learned from our conversation.

Injury Prevention:  Of course this one should be a no brainer, particularly for runners. The repetitive stress that running places on our bodies can create all sorts of havoc and lead to multiple overuse injuries like; knee pain, shin splints, IT band syndrome, and stress fractures to name a few. Having the right shoe can maximize load absorption from the ground up and ensure that proper body alignment is maintained throughout the body when running or walking.

Get a Video Gait Analysis:  This one really stuck with me. Most running places I’ve been to will watch your walking gait and start the selection process from there. But Holly makes a point of view both walking and running. Specifically, this because there is a remarkable difference between how a person walks in contrast to how they may run. As a result, every one of her customers goes through a video gait analysis on a treadmill in addition to the standard gait assessment. This applies to walkers too. Watching the playback in slow motion only adds more confidence to getting into the right shoe.

How long do shoes last?  If you are using the shoe strictly for running or walking the life of the shoe is based on mileage. It is recommended that you should replace your shoes every 350-500 miles. However, if you are using the shoe more for cross training, strength training, etc. it’s measured more by wear and tear. Things to look for are visible signs of wearing on the bottom of the shoe, little to no cushion remaining when pressing on the middle of the forefoot, and if any types of overuse injuries begin to surface.

What if I’m not a runner?  Getting into a durable shoe is still just as important. Whether you’re doing a bootcamp, speed and agility workouts, strength training, etc, finding a good quality neutral shoe will also serve to help keep you fit and minimize risk of injury as well.

Related link:

Rest is Critical for Results

For the weekend warrior, motivation to train with intensity is rarely an issue.  Whether you’re a runner, tri-athlete, prepping for a Tough Mudder, or just a gym rat, you’re willing to give 100% each and every time in order to achieve elite levels of fitness and athleticism.  Most of us have been taught that there is a price for greatness. We’re conditioned to think that more is better and that we need to train harder, faster, longer, in order to reach the elusive “next level.”   We hear it with terms like, “Beast Mode” or “No Pain No Gain” or “There is no off-season.”  And for many of us who are avid exercisers it’s easy to get consumed in the madness of it all.  Now, I’m not opposed to a little blood, sweat, and tears when it comes to training.  In fact, it is a critical component to the process but we have to remember…so is recovery.  The body needs to recuperate from the demands that are placed on it.  By continuing to keep the foot on the accelerator without any breaks we can actually reach a point to where we start losing results…our bodies can only keep up for so long.  Specifically what I am talking about is “overtraining.”  Overtraining is defined as, “the syndrome that results when an excessive, usually physical, overload on an athlete occurs without adequate rest, resulting in a decrease in performance and the inability to train,” or “the point where the athlete starts to experience physiological maladaptations and chronic performance decrements.”  Even though these definitions are specific to an “athlete” they very much apply even to the weekend warrior who trains as such.  Simply put, overtraining is usually a result from a combination of inadequate recovery, excessive amounts of high intensity training, and/or a sudden increase in training load.  In general, signs of overtraining come with feelings of staleness, burnout, chronic fatigue, stagnation, overwork or run down.  More specifically, prominent features of overtraining include heavy legs, prolonged muscle soreness, high resting heart rate, poor motivation, sleep disturbances, low libido, frequent sickness or infection, weight loss, mood swings, depression, increased rating of perceived exertion, and overuse injury.

Rather than pushing to the point of no return, it is best to prevent overtraining before it begins.  Outlined below are some methods to ensure you are getting optimal recovery while still reaping the benefits of all of your hard work.

“Unload” every 4-6 weeks:  The old rule of thumb is that you should switch up your workouts every 4-6 weeks for continued results.  This should also be the time that you “unload” with a lighter workout week.  It’s during this period that our body finally gets a chance to play catch up and physically adapt to the training demands we place on it.  Otherwise known as “supercompensation,” this is where we experience increases in strength and endurance as we carry over into the next 4-6 week training block.  You can unload by cutting your workout times in half, decreasing your intensity, or simply just participating in recreational activity that in not specific to your training goals.  After a week of unloading you should feel physically and mentally refreshed, with a heightened motivation to get back into training.

Get rejuvenated: Recovery should extend beyond just simply training less.  Including rejuvenation techniques like massage, hydrotherapy, chiropractic care, adequate sleep, and meditation are very effective in accelerating recovery, preventing overtraining and reducing risk of injury.  Use any combination of these techniques that best suit your personal needs to enhance recovery and aid in performance.

Include weekly recovery workouts: Even if you are in the middle of an intense training block you should still include at least 1-2 lighter workout days per week.  This can range from low intensity aerobic training (40-60% of max heart rate), restorative yoga, or recreational activities outside of normal activity/training.  Personally I recommend an off-day followed by a recovery workout to end a training week.  You’ll come back refreshed and ready to hit it hard the next week.

There is an “Off-Season”:  For the fitness enthusiast the idea of taking 2-4 weeks off seems blasphemous if not downright frightening.  There’s usually an intense paranoia that somehow you’re muscles will instantly wilt into puddy and your lung capacity will vanish.  After training personally for 23 years now I promise you this won’t happen.  I’m not suggesting that we cease all physical activity during this time.  However, it should serve as an opportunity to let any nagging injuries heal, to mentally and physically recharge, and to take the opportunity to participate in other activities.  Typically, I suggest taking 1-2 weeks of rest and recovery from a rewarding year of training, then follow it up with another 1-2 weeks of active rest.  Go hiking, enjoy a round or two of golf, go to Jumptime with your kids, simply be active with no agenda.  Remember the goal is longevity.  Train smart and respect your body’s needs.  By doing so you’re prime will last longer than you ever thought possible…





Exercise During Pregnancy?

Pregnancy is one of the most remarkable life experiences a woman can go through.  I know…ironic coming from a guy.  And while I obviously don’t have first hand experience, I do have two beautiful kids and have had the pleasure of training clients during their journey.  And while pregnancy can bring a wide range of physical and emotional changes, on the right day I know all of them would agree with me J  So if you are pregnant and reading this it stands to question…can I really exercise throughout my pregnancy?  And the answer is yes for the vast majority.  Grant it, in some cases there are contraindications to exercise (see list below), but according to The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), “30 minutes or more of moderate exercise a day on most, if not all, days of the week is recommended for pregnant women.”  In fact, this is actually the same exercise recommendation theAmericanCollegeof Sports Medicine uses for improving health and well being of non-pregnant women (i.e. General Population).

While all of this is great news, you may be wondering, “Why should I workout during pregnancy?” Well first off, consistent exercise during pregnancy will help better prepare you for childbirth and, later, as you return to pre-pregnancy activity levels.  Specific benefits include:

  • Reduction in back pain
  • Increased energy
  • Improved strength and cardiovascular capacity which can facilitate labor and delivery
  • More endurance, preparing for the possibility of longer labor
  • Improved mood states
  • Faster postpartum recover time

So the question for us now is what types of activities are beneficial and what precautions need to be taken?

Well first and foremost, you should always get physician approval prior to exercise and maintain an open dialogue throughout your pregnancy and postpartum period.  Once you are cleared here are the precautions you will need to take according to ACOG guidlines:

  • Avoid exercises in the supine position (flat on your back) after the first trimester.  This position can lead to a reduction of maternal heart rate and decrease the flow of oxygenated blood to the baby.  So for example if you are performing a chest press, you would simply modify the exercise by adjusting the bench to an incline position.
  • Always use the “talk test” to gauge intensity.  If you cannot hold on a conversation while exercising, the intensity is too high.
  • Choose activities that minimize the loss of balance.  Pregnancy can affect your center of gravity do to the changes in the body.  So it is best to avoid any single leg movements or exercises on uneven surfaces.  Better alternatives include non-weight exercises such as cycling or swimming to minimize risk of injury.
  • Avoid any type of activities that carry the potential for even mild abdominal trauma (e.g. downhill skiing, contact sports).

Recommended Exercises and Activities

What exercises and activities considered to be most appropriate will depend greatly on fitness levels pre-pregnancy.  If you were previously inactive, it is best to start off slowly and progress gradually.  Starting off with swimming and other aquatic exercise is great because it provides the benefit of buoyancy, taking weight off the joints and increasing comfort.  Other possibilities include yoga and Pilates (specific to pregnancy), walking, or a stationary cardio machine like the elliptical or bike.

Resistance exercise should also be implemented into the mix as well.  Training sessions can be done 1-2 times per week, with the focus being on maintaining strength during pregnancy.  Include exercises that cover basic movements that provide adequate support and balance.  A basic routine may include 1-2 sets x 10-15 reps of the following:

  • Modified (knee) Pushups
  • Seated Row
  • Body Weight Squats
  • Standing Dumbbell Bicep Curl to Overhead Press
  • Quadruped (Hands & Knees) arm/leg lift

Ideally, a mixture of activities will serve you best during your pregnancy.  The bottom line is to listen to your body and stay within your limits, communicate with your physician, enjoy the benefits that come with exercise during pregnancy, and to facilitate a safe delivery for your new addition!

Remember to consult with your physician prior to exercise and during pregnancy.  See ACOG Contraindications below.

Absolute Contraindications to Aerobic Exercise During Pregnancy

  • Hemodynamically significant heart disease
  • Restrictive Lung Disease
  • Incompetent Cervix/Cerclage
  • Multiple gestation at risk for premature labor
  • Persistent second or third trimester bleeding
  • Placenta previa after 26 weeks of gestation
  • Premature labor during the current pregnancy
  • Ruptured membranes
  • Preeclampsia/pregnancy-induced hypertension

Relative Contraindications to Aerobic Exercise During Pregnancy

  • Severe anemia
  • Unevaluated maternal cardiac arrhythmia
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Poorly controlled type 1 diabetes
  • Extreme morbid obesity
  • Extreme underweight (BMI <12)
  • History of extremely sedentary lifestyle
  • Intrauterine growth restriction in current pregnancy
  • Poorly controlled hypertension
  • Orthopedic limitations
  • Poorly controlled seizure disorder
  • Poorly controlled hyperthyroidism
  • Heavy Smoker

Warning Signs to Terminate Exercise While Pregnant

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Dyspnea prior to exercise
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Chest Pain
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Calf pain or swelling (need to rule out thrombophlebitis)
  • Preterm labor
  • Decreased fetal movement
  • Amniotic fluid leakage


Determination and Consistency Equals Excellence!

When I started working out with Jason I thought I was in shape. I had finished a few triathlons, ran 10k’s, half-marathons, and one marathon. I had lost 35 lbs mostly through exercise and diet modifications. THEN I GOT STUCK. I could run a marathon but I wasn’t in very good shape. I had learned what I could about fitness along the way but I was lacking key information and strategy to really meet my overall fitness goals.

My first few training sessions with Jason revealed my lack of fitness balance. I was relieved that Jason listened to my goals and developed a plan to help me achieve them. Jason helps me understand nutrition and how to fuel for my workouts. He helps me understand active rest and recovery. Jason listens and adjusts when I have an event and designs workouts that help me achieve my goals.

I have worked with Jason for a year and a half and wouldn’t change anything. I have set new personal records in triathlons and marathons and plan to break those again this year. I have lost another 20 lbs, have added lean muscle and am now in the best shape of my life. My wife can’t stop making fun of me for looking at myself in the mirror!

Bryan Wheeler

What Supplements Should I Take?

As a trainer I’m constantly asked about what supplements are the best…  particularly for fat loss.  Now I’m always a little leery of products with terms like “shredd”…”thermoboost”…”lipozene”…etc. The reality is that many supplement companies do an effective job at marketing their product as the miracle breakthrough to monumental fat loss…the holy grail if you will.  While some of these products may be effective and produce some results, you can never be sure they will.  Why?  Well first, the supplement industry is not regulated in the U.S.  The FDA has the following statement on their website:

“The FDA does not analyze supplement products before they are sold to consumers.  The manufacturer is responsible for ensuring that the ingredient list is accurate and the ingredients are safe.  They are also required to make sure that the content matches the amount declared on the label.  FDA does not have adequate resources to analyze dietary products sent by consumers who want to know their content.  Instead, consumers may contact the manufacturer or commercial laboratory.”

In other words, there is no guarantee the product has the purity and potency as advertised.  In fact,  consumerlab states that only around 30% of supplements on the market actually do meet the criteria.

Regardless of the stats, a “fat burner” isn’t necessarily the right solution in most cases.  Where most people fall short is with their nutrition in general.  With that being said, “supplementing” where we are lacking makes more sense.  That’s not to say that we shouldn’t strive to improve our eating, but rather include supplements on the days were our nutrition is less than ideal.

Now with that being said, here are the five supplements that I recommend to consider for regular consumption.


Food Equivalent: Varied Diet

As many of us are marginally deficient in several micro-nutrients, multivitamins should be taken everyday.  Especially if you are eating at a caloric deficit to lose body fat (increase nutrients without calories).  Take with meals, daily, or on days where dietary intake is lacking.

Fish Oil Supplement*

Food Equivalent: Fatty fish such as salmon

Traditionally Omega 3s were taken primarily to help improve cardiovascular health, but recent research has shown that the benefits go well beyond improving heart function.  Omega 3 supplementation has been shown to:

  • Improve nervous system and boost immune health
  • Increase fat metabolism and improve weight loss
  • Decrease risk of diabetes and certain cancers
  • Improve blood pressure
  • Improve function for those with inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia
  • Aid in workout recovery
  • Improve mood and decrease symptoms of depression.
  • Improve airway dilation

Much of the available whole-food fish supply contains environmental pollutants.  As a result, fish oil supplements should likely be taken every day while reducing fish intake to “occasional.”

Take with meals, daily.  High Omega 3 content; should contain at least 30% EPA and DHA.  Generally recommended dose is 2000-3000 mg.  Though according to consumerlab as high as 9 g per day can be recommended in some cases.  Consult with your health care professional to determine which is the optimal dose for you.

Greens Supplement*: Green food blend high in antioxidants, strongly alkaline and vitamin/mineral rich

Food Equivalent: Vegetables, Fruits

Use in circumstances when vegetable and fruits are inaccessible.  Frequency depends on fruit and vegetable intake: If vegetable and fruit intake is high (up to 10 servings/day), supplement use will be infrequent.  If fruit intake is low, supplement use should be daily or more frequent.

Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)*: are naturally occurring molecules (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) that the body uses to build proteins. The term “branched chain” refers to the molecular structure of these particular amino acids.  Muscles have a particularly high content of BCAAs.

Food Source: Any protein-rich food

BCAAs are thought to aid in improving muscle recovery and minimizing muscle delayed onset muscle soreness, though research has yielded mixed results.  However, during high-intensity exercise sessions when fat loss and muscle preservation is desired, supplemented is warranted and recommended.

Green Tea*: contains high levels of substances called catechin polyphenols, known to possess strong antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, antitumorigenic, and even antibiotic properties.  Based on these findings, as well as observational studies green tea has become popular as a daily drink for preventing cancer and heart disease.

Green tea is often thought to boost metabolism as well.  While there are some studies that support this claim, other reviews have been mixed.

Recommended dosage is around 1-3 cups per day.  However, green tea does contain caffeine and may conflict with certain medications.  Consult with your health care professional prior to consumption.


Berardi J & Andrews R.  The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition 2nd Edition 2012

For additional information or more details regarding individual supplements please visit:

TRX Plank to Handstand

This is one of my favorite TRX exercises.  Primarily for it’s challenges to the core and upper body.  Before attempting this exercise there are obviously some things that you need to consider…

First is core stability.  As a prerequisite you should be able to hold a plank with your feet suspended in the TRX at an absolute minimum of one minute.  AND perform at least 10 suspended pushups with good form as well.

Second is safety.  Should seem pretty obvious…but gym guys like me can get bogged down in the guts n glory of it all.  Luckily I’ve wised up (a little) in my 30’s.  I recommend using a spotter for your legs.  If your lower body starts to drift off course even a little, you will immediately be switching to the TRX Helicopter spin…with a tuck exercise.  So use a spotter to keep your legs on track until you are comfortable flying solo.

Next…begin small with the exercise.  Start with 1- 2 paces in each direction for 5 reps.  Next week…shoot for 2-3 at 4 reps, then 3-4 at 3 reps the following week, etc.  Before you know it you’ll have no problem getting fully inverted and may even feel inclined (no pun intended) to add a push up in between steps.

That’s it.  Watch the video to hear the key points of the exercise and happy training!

Strength Endurance Training

One of my favorite strength training workouts that I use personally and with clients is Strength Endurance Training.  Specifically from NASM, this strength endurance training method is a hybrid form of superset training that promotes increased stabilization endurance, hypertrophy, and strength.  This method of training entails the use of superset techniques where a more stable exercise (ex. bench press) is immediately followed with a stabilization exercise with similar biomechanical motions (ex. TRX push-up).  Thus, for every set of an exercise/body part performed, there are actually two exercises/sets being performed.  High amounts of volume can be generated with this method which can result in body fat loss and/or hypertrophy. Training variables should be manipulated depending on which is a higher priority. If body fat loss is desired, utilize more complex/total body strength moves while keeping the repetitions around 10-12 per execise. If hypertrophy is desired, segmenting per body part with each superset is more effective, keeping the repetitions at 8-10 per exercise (see acute variables below).

All in all, these workouts are very taxing but well worth the rewards!  Below are five of my personal favorites.  Countless combinations can be used with this training method…play around with them and you’ll be hooked too…

Strength Endurance Workout:

  • Perform a 10-15 minute dynamic warm-up
  • 3-4 sets/pair of exercises
  • 8-12 reps/exercise @ 70% of 1RM
  • Rest 1 minute between pairs/2-3 minutes between sets


  1. Barbell Clean to Overhead Press/Single Leg Squat with Dumbbell PNF
  2. Barbell Deadlift to Bent over row/Single Leg Deadlift to Dumbbell row
  3. Rockstars/TRX Atomic Pushups
  4. Barbell Squats/TRX Pistol Squat
  5. Pullups/TRX Rotational Pullup

Fitness Fast with the TRX

When I want to bang out a fast workout, more times than not I go to the TRX Suspension Trainer.   In a nutshell, the TRX is a set of suspension straps that you hang from a stable overhead anchor point and perform exercises by leveraging your body at various angles relative to your strength/skill level.

It’s popularity surged mostly because of it’s versatility, economic appeal, and convenience.   The TRX can be used both indoors and outdoors with the capacity to perform over a hundred exercises!  You can easily knock out a 10-15 minute workout, anywhere…anytime.

Don’t believe me?  Try to the workout in the clip above for 10 minutes…you always have time!

TRX Circuit – Workout Time 10 minutes

Set a timer for 10 minutes.  Perform 10 reps of each exercise completing as many rounds as possible within 10 minutes.  Enjoy!

1. Atomic Pushups x 10
2. Ice Skaters x 10/leg
3. Wide Row x 10

To learn more about the TRX, please checkout their website.

How to do a pre-workout warm up

Many of us know we should warm up prior to exercising, but still it’s often the most neglected part of a workout.  Walk into any gym and you’ll see many people on a treadmill, bicycle or elliptical machine for the minimum five minutes before making their way to the workout floor.  Not necessarily the most effective way to get revved up and ready to challenge yourself.  Warming up should be an integral part of every workout and flow seamlessly into the workout itself.  A proper warm up should be performed in a way that is physically and mentally stimulating in contrast to mindless cardio. This approach will much better prepare us for the workout ahead.  A warm up is best done by using active flexibility and dynamic movement patterns similar to the exercises that will be used during our workout.  Unlike traditional stretching, a dynamic warm up is performed by using opposing muscle groups and/or controlled momentum to take a joint/muscle through the full available range of motion.  This helps improve joint stability, prepares the body for various movements, increases body awareness, increases muscle elasticity, helps raise the body’s core temperature, and helps improve overall workout performance.  Also, a proper warm up will allow you to check in with your body and determine if you are having any potential joint or muscle issues prior to exercise.  This will enable you to make any last minute modifications if necessary, thereby decreasing risk of injury.

A dynamic warm up should take anywhere between 10-15 minutes, leading right into the actual workout.  Warm up exercises can be broken down into two categories, general and specific.  General exercises are performed first, focusing primarily on muscle activation with slower controlled movement.  Specific exercises follow immediately and are higher in intensity by utilizing controlled momentum and with more focus on locomotion.

Outlined below are a few examples of each.  For a see a complete sample warm up, please refer to the included video link.

General Exercises: (Perform 1 set of 10 repetitions)

Floor BridgeLie on your back and position your feet flat on the ground with your knees bent at 90°. Contract your abs and slowly lift your hips off of the ground until you are fully extended. Pause for 2 seconds and slowly lower yourself back to the ground.

Bird Dog:  Begin on all fours with a neutral spine and your abs contracted.  Slowly raise one arm and the opposite leg to body height until each are fully extended.  Hold for two seconds and slowly return both arm and leg to the ground.  Repeat by alternating sides.

Arm Circles: Stand tall with your arms extended at a 3 o’clock/9 o’clock position.  With your palms facing up, swing your arms forward in a circular motion for 10 repetitions and repeat in a backward motion for 10 repetitions.

Specific Exercises: (Perform 1-2 sets x 10-20 yards)

Straight Leg March: Staying tall through your hips and begin marching while simultaneously kicking your leg out in front of you.  Movement should be controlled and just high enough to feel a mild/moderate stretch in the hamstring.  Alternate legs and repeat movement for 10-20 yards.  Keep a neutral spine throughout the movement and avoid rounding your back.

Buttkickers: Brace your abs and jog while actively kicking your heels up towards your glutes, alternating legs and maintaining a tall posture.  Continue the movement for 10-20 yards.

Additional General and Specific Video Examples

  • Plank with shoulder blade retraction/protraction
  • Lunge w/twist
  • Track Stars
  • Exaggerated Walk with hip rotation
  • Carioca
  • Zigzag Hops

Jason Wanlass, the owner of Champion Fitness Training in Meridian, has more than 16 years experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at or


No Gym? No Problem!

Let’s face it.  Getting to the gym this time of year is hard.  Kids are out of school, family vacations, business travel, etc.  Besides, when it’s 80 and sunny, the gym may not seem as appealing as it did a few short months ago.  For whatever reason many of us face the same challenge getting a regular workout in whether it’s a lack of time, limited resources, or simple gym boredom. Rather than viewing it as a challenge think of it as a good reason to get creative and try something new. Not only is it good for us physically to mix things up, but it’s mentally refreshing as well. Plus there are still plenty of ways to get in a solid workout that is fast, convenient, and only requires one piece of equipment…you!  Training with minimal or no equipment is often referred to bodyweight training.  Bodyweight training comes with many physical benefits, including increases in strength, range of motion, cardiovascular endurance.  And best of all, many bodyweight exercises can be performed free of pain for most exercisers.

Outlined below are five exercises that can be either implemented into your current workout routine or as a workout you can take with you anywhere!

Inverted Row

















Inverted Row: Use a solid, stable bar like a guard rail or a monkey bar.  The bar should be anywhere between waist to chest height. Grab the bar with your palms facing down and with your arms fully extended at chest level. Your body should be angled at approximately 0° to 60° depending on your level of strength. Maintaining alignment and control, contract your abs and pull your chest towards the bar keeping your body straight throughout the movement. Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position and repeat for 10 to 15 repetitions.

Jack Squat
















Jack Squats: Begin in a squat position with your hands at your sides.  Hop into a standing position with your feet out wide while simultaneously singing your arms overhead.  Hop back into the squat position and repeat the movement for 10-15 repetitions.

Floor Bridge

















Floor BridgeLie on your back and position your feet flat on the ground with your knees bent at 90°. Contract your abs and slowly lift your hips off of the ground until you are fully extended. Pause for 2 seconds and slowly lower yourself back to the ground. Repeat this move for 10 to 15 repetitions.  Continue the movement for 30 seconds.

Stationary Spiderman: Begin in a pushup position with a narrow grip.  Bring your left leg forward placing your foot flat and to the outside of your hands.  Extend your left leg back into the starting position.  Repeat the same movement with your right leg and continue the movement by alternating legs.  Perform 10-15 reps per side.

Mountain Climbers: Begin in a pushup position keeping your body straight.  Step your left leg in towards your hands keeping the hip, knee, and foot in a straight line.  Simultaneously, extend your left leg back to the starting position while stepping your right leg towards your hands and continue to alternate the movement with your legs similar to a running motion.  Keep your body straight throughout the entire set, performing the exercise as quickly as possible while maintaining form.

Click here for a video demo

Jason Wanlass, the owner of Champion Fitness Training in Meridian, has more than 17 years experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at or

Read more here:

Healthy Eating is About Changing Behavior

There are so many diets out there.  Paleo, Atkins, The Zone Diet, Eating for your blood type, etc.  Each author will make a sound argument for the benefits of their approach, while critics will continue to point out their shortcomings.  Now I’m not here to decipher or breakdown the pros and cons of each.  Most plans are effective in helping the dieter to create a negative energy balance.  In other words, consuming less calories than they burn, resulting in weight loss.  But there is not a “one sized fits all” approach when it comes to nutrition.  Many factors like genetics, environment, food allergies, and daily energy demands will influence how an individual responds to dietary intake.  A weekend warrior training for a triathlon will usually have a higher need for carbohydrates, while an office worker who hasn’t been physically active for five years may require lower amounts of carbohydrates and a higher intake of proteins and healthy fats.  But regardless of individual differences and nutritional needs the biggest challenge most people face is consistency.  And the journey towards ideal health and body weight ultimately comes down to behavior change.  Let’s face it…change is hard!  Especially when it comes to nutrition!  People overestimate how difficult it is and underestimate how long it will take.  Numerous studies show that people are typically most successful when they limit their change to one behavior at a time before introducing a new one. But introduce even two new behaviors at once, and the failure rate is nearly 100%.  With that being said, outlined below are several nutritional habits everyone can benefit from.  Assess which habits you need to work on implementing most, pick one and put all of your focus and effort into it for the next 3-4 weeks.  Once it becomes second nature, then you are ready to introduce the next one.  Remember to be patient!  The goal is permanent change…one step at a time.

Slow Down! Many of us eat way too fast.  It takes about 20 minutes for our sensation of fullness to kick in.  The pathway from our stomach, to our brain, and back is long.  If you eat too quickly, you are more likely to overeat by the time your brain can communicate it’s time to stop.  The long term goal should be taking 15-20 minutes to consume each meal.  I know this may be too ambitious for a lot of us and that’s okay!  Just by slowing down by 1-2 minutes can make a big difference.  From there you can work towards the 15-20 minute goal.

Stop Eating at 80% Fullness: Rather than eating to the point of fullness, focus on eating until you are no longer hungry.  In conjunction with slowing down, this again will allow plenty of time for your brain to communicate that it’s time to end the meal.  Many benefits come of this, including better overall appetite cues, improved digestion, and increased performance with your workouts as well.

Eat every 2-4 hours: When you go prolonged periods without any food, your body goes into conservation mode simply because it doesn’t know when the next meal is coming.  As a result, the body holds onto any excess fat storage which a lot of people would prefer do without.  By eating smaller and more frequent meals this will keep your metabolism running at higher levels throughout the day and is more likely to let go of the extra stores.   

Eat Fruits and/or Vegetables with Each Meal: There is a good reason why mothers harp on their children to eat their fruits and veggies!  Nutrient dense and low in calories, fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and actually help buffer the body’s acidic response to protein and grains.  One medium sized fruit, ½ cup of raw chopped fruit or vegetables, and 1 cup of raw, leafy vegetables each equal one serving.  Aim for 1-2 servings per meal.

Eat “Quality” Carbohydrates: Cut back on the processed, sugary carbs like juice, white flour, muffins, etc and focus your efforts on eating more whole food and fiber rich carbs.  This includes a mix of vegetables, beans, legumes, whole grain breads and pastas, quinoa, long grain rice, etc.  Typically, vegetables, beans, legumes, and most fruit can be consumed often and at any time of the day.  For breads, pasta, and rice, ideally these should be consumed after workouts or physical activity, especially if fat loss is a goalPrimarily this is because the body has its highest tolerance of carbohydrates post-workout than any other time. This will help refuel the body without any carbohydrate “spill over” into fat storage.    

Include Protein Dense Foods & Health Fats:  Up to1 serving (20-30g) for women and 2 servings for men (40-60 g) should be included with each meal.  A portion size of protein is visually about the size of the palm of your hand.  Protein dense foods include lean meats such as ground beef, chicken, turkey, bison.  Other great protein sources include salmon, tuna, eggs, cottage cheese, tofu, beans, etc.  Also, a mixture of fats should also be part of a balanced diet.  Vitamins A, D, E, and K, are critical to optimal human function, and can only be absorbed by the body with adequate fat in our diet.  Eating a variety of meats, cheeses, nuts, olive oil, and a fish oil supplement are all great ways to getting our daily dose of fat.

Don’t forget to exercise!  Of course this goes without saying!  Strive for 5 hours of physical activity every week for optimal health and to aid in weight loss.  Remember to include a combination of cardiovascular and strength training.  Now get out, get active and work on eating healthier…one habit at a time!

For more individual recommendations, healthy recipes, and all other additional information etc, please refer to the list of resources provided below.


Berardi, J, Andrews R. The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Second Edition Pn Inc. 2012

Additional Resources:


Keep the body guessing with training variety

Slow tempo pushup

In order to achieve continued results from a strength program, muscles need to be challenged beyond their comfort zone. Many exercisers know this already. However, often times we limit the challenge by simply increasing weight or repetitions.

While this is an important method for improving fitness, it’s only a small piece of the puzzle. Eventually our bodies will adapt and hit a plateau with this approach alone. Bottom line: The body needs training variety as well. In fact, just changing the exercise variables alone can have a tremendous impact on improving our strength and endurance.

In short, we’re simply trying to keep the body guessing. There are many simple ways to switch up specific exercises, let’s look at a few examples.


Most exercisers perform strength exercises at a 1 to 1 ratio. In other words, 1 second to lower the weight (eccentric phase) and 1 second to lift the weight (concentric phase) with no pause in between.

Next time you do a strength workout, try changing speeds by slowing down the tempo. This will challenge the muscles more because they are kept under tension longer.

Take a push-up, for example: Instead of banging out reps as quick as you can, try slowing the pace to a 3/2/1 tempo. Specifically, 3 seconds to lower your body, pause for 2 seconds then complete the push up in 1 second on the push. You will be amazed how challenging this is!


Many traditional exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, or squats/lunges involve a vertical load, meaning that the resistance runs up and down in line with gravity.

However, the human body needs to be able to adapt to horizontal forces, as well. Examples where this happens may include a lineman blocking a defender or a hiker navigating a hill with a side slope.

In the gym setting, a horizontal load can be easily utilized with a cable machine or resistance bands. Begin by selecting your weight. Between 10 and 30 percent of your body weight is usually enough. Hold the cable in front of you and perform a set of lunges.

Feel the difference in your quads? They have to work much harder to decelerate because of the horizontal load.

You can also increase the challenge by having the cable pull from the side of your body. This will require even more balance. As an alternative, you can attach the cable to an exercise belt.

This will free up your hands and allow the use of dumbbells for any arm movement as well. Try adding in curls, overhead press — the options are endless!


Specifically, change the direction of movement. Most exercises like chest press, rows, and lunges are performed in the sagittal plane. In other words, primarily forward and backward motion.

In addition to moving back and forth, the human body needs to be efficient at overcoming side and rotational forces as well. Exercise options may include performing a single-arm dumbbell chest press, which will put more emphasis on frontal plane (side to side) stability. For a row, simply adding some torso rotation is a great way to add another dimension to this exercise.

And for lunges, rather than lunging forward, throw in some side lunges instead.


This can be as simple as switching from barbells to dumbbells, free weights to body-weight exercises, or vice versa.

Let’s use a back exercise, for example. After four weeks of doing bent-over barbell rows, switch to a dumbbell row, after that, switch to pull-ups, and so on. This principle can also be applied to the chest, shoulders, arm, legs, etc.

Please check out the video link for demonstrations of these key points and exercise examples.

Jason Wanlass, the owner of Champion Fitness Training in Meridian, has more than 16 years experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at or

Read more here:

Training for Function

Functional training is a training method that has created a lot of buzz over the last decade.  Perhaps you have heard the term at the local gym or read about in a fitness magazine.   While there is no universal definition, functional training is generally viewed as exercises that carry a high movement value.  In other words, movement that uses the entire body opposed to training muscles in isolation. An example would be performing a lunge to develop leg strength instead of simply using a leg extension machine.  So why does this benefit us…or why should we train for movement?  The answer is more apparent when we examine what the human body is designed for.

“Muscles are responsible for producing movement, maintaining posture, stabilizing joints, and generating heat” (Marieb 2007).  More specifically, the human body functions by pushing, pulling, lowering/raising the body’s center of mass, and rotating, all while maintaining balance and stability.  It is even more critical to train for improved function when you consider posture.  Most Americans work in a sedentary environment which involves sitting for prolonged periods, resulting in a slouched posture.  Poor posture has been linked to physical ailments such as low back pain and frozen shoulder to name a few.  Going to the gym after eight hours in front of computer to exercise for another hour primarily in a seated position only compounds the problem.  Plus, most fitness machines create “artificial” stabilization.  In other words, the machine is responsible for providing stability, not the body.  The only way to improve balance and stability is to perform exercises that challenge both on some level.

Now that we know the benefits of functional training, let’s look at the components of what makes an exercise “functional.”

Train for movement:  Muscles work in synergy.  The term “synergy” comes from the latin word meaning to “work together.”  The nervous system innervates the musculoskeletal system to work as a complete unit.  A baseball player throwing a ball with maximum velocity or simply the act of running best illustrates this point.  The muscles work in harmony.  Performing more compound exercises that involve multiple joints and allow the body to work as a whole unit has a higher carry over into day to day life.  Also, training for movement will yield greater strength gains, improve coordination, and increase stability.










Exercise Example: Squat Row

Train all planes:  The human body works in three different planes of movement (sagittal, frontal, and transverse).  Basically, the body is made to rotate, move forwards/backwards and side to side.  Thus, it’s important to train for movement in all directions.  This will help minimize muscle/movement imbalances, decrease risk of injury, and improve overall function.










Exercise Example: Rotational Cable Chest Press

Train Balance & Stability:  Strength is transferable from an unstable environment to a stable environment but not the other way around” (Orr 2009).  In other words, training muscles strictly in a machine based settling will yield little or no improvement for your balance or stability.  In order to improve balance & stability, you must train for it!  Try performing traditional exercises on a BOSU, stability ball or in a single leg position.  Not only with it improve balance and stability, but strength as well.










Exercise Examples: Single Leg Squat

Train Standing:  In can’t be emphasized enough!  We sit enough throughout the day between work and our daily commute.  Try to perform the majority of your exercises in a standing/upright position for better overall functional strength and improved posture.

Jason Wanlass, the owner of Champion Fitness Training in Meridian, has more than 16 years experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at or




Keep your motivation all year

It’s hard to believe we are almost into the New Year.  The best time to evaluate you fitness goals and motivation is right now.  Why?  Because the overwhelming majority of us will quit before spring even gets here.  According to Dr. Donald E. Whetmore, 90% of those who join health and fitness clubs will stop going within the first 90 days.  This comes as no surprise.  I’ve been in the fitness industry for nearly 17 years and I see it happen every year.  Most of us have the best intentions when it comes to changing our health habits.  It’s not necessarily a lack of desire, but rather having a strong foundation in place to keep us on the path of permanent change.  Rather than saying, “I want to lose weight” do a little soul searching, dig in, and really evaluate your plan.  Here are five powerful steps you can take right now to help get you started and build even more positive momentum for the rest of the year.

1. Write Down your goals:  Want to lose 20 pounds?  Bench press your weight?  Compete in a triathlon?  Write it down!  The power of goal setting is remarkable.  A study was conducted on students in the 1979 Harvard MBA program regarding goal setting. In that year, the students were asked, “How many of you have set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?” Only three percent of the graduates had written goals and plans.  Ten years later, the members of the class were interviewed again.  Of the three percent who had clear written goals, they were earning on average ten times as much as the other 97 percent combined!  This same process works when it comes to fitness or weight loss.  By writing down your goals and reading them daily, it will put your subconscious mind to work and keep you on track to achieving what is important to you.  So be specific, write it down, and visualize it…you’ll be amazed at the results!

2. Narrow your focus:  When people make New Years resolutions, many make the common mistake of trying to change too many things at once.  That’s not to say that you shouldn’t have more than one goal, but it’s important to narrow your focus down to one habit at a time.  Numerous studies show that people are typically quite successful when they limit their change to one behavior at a time before introducing a new one. But introduce even two new behaviors at once, and the failure rate is nearly 100%.  The reality is people overestimate how hard change will be and underestimate how long it will take. So pick one, put all of your focus and efforts into it for the next 3-4 weeks until it becomes second nature and then introduce your next one. There will be plenty of time for all of your goals.  So narrow your focus and you get there one step at a time.

3. Self-belief:  Henry Ford said it best, “Whether you believe you can, or you can’t, you are right.”  Having goals is one thing, but they need to be backed with a positive mindset and strong self-belief.  Belief has a huge bearing on behavior.  It was once thought that breaking the four minute mile barrier was impossible until Roger Bannister accomplished the impossible on May 6th, 1954. Many others broke the four minute barrier since then.

If you believe a particular task will not be successful or worthwhile, you’re less likely to do the task. Alternatively, the likelihood of consistency and success while soar when you know you can and the task will become even easier.  The bottom line is everyone has the potential for greatness, start expecting it and believe!

4. Have a “like minded” team: Who you have in your social circle can have a magnetic pull on who you are.  It’s important to realize that some people in your circle may inadvertently try to pull you back to your old ways. It’s not because they are trying to be malicious, it’s usually just a case of human nature. Now that’s not to suggest you need to dump any friends and family who are suspect, but rather seek out “like minded” people who support you in your fitness quest.  Try connecting with a fitness group, working out with a friend, or joining a sport league.  Combine this with the love and support of your family and you more likely will become the person you want to be.

5. Have Fun and Get Fit!  Don’t limit yourself to just “working out” at the gym. Get out and enjoy some recreational activities too.  There is so much to choose from and many will compliment your training even more.  Make this your year!  Get out for a spring time hike or fun run, join an indoor soccer team, get your Zumba on.  Life is too short not to enjoy yourself.  In other words, find activities that you truly enjoy, get fit, and have fun!

Jason Wanlass, the owner of Champion Fitness Training in Meridian, has more than 16 years experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at or



Combination Training for Overall Fitness

At last the New Year is upon us!  It’s the opportunity we embrace every year to finally get back in shape.  While our ambition to make this year our best may be at a peak, the normal day to day grind still carries over into the New Year.  Many of us still have limited time due to work, family, and other obligations. And with so many areas of fitness to address it can be challenging to fit enough cardio, strength, flexibility, and core training in on a weekly basis.  Being efficient with our time at the gym is more important than ever.  The question is how?  By integrating it all into each workout session.  This workout style is also referred to as combination training.  The objective is to format the workout by using circuits that focus on each component in each training session. This style of workout is great because we end up spending less time in the gym while reaping all the same training benefits. Here is a breakdown on how to format an integrated training session.

Dynamic Warm Up

Dynamic warm up is the process of prepping the body for the demands of a workout. This is done by using active flexibility and movement patterns similar to the exercises that will be used during the workout.  Unlike traditional stretching, a dynamic warm up is performed by using opposing muscle groups and/or controlled momentum to take a joint/muscle through the full available range of motion.  This helps improve joint stability, increases body awareness, and helps raise the body’s core temperature, thereby decreasing risk of injury and improving workout performance.

Plyometric and Athletic Drills (Circuit 1)

Plyometric exercises include any movement that involve a rapid pre-stretch of a muscle and is immediately followed by a muscular contraction.  Examples of this would include throwing a medicine ball, jumping, or skipping.  These exercises are great for improving speed, strength, and the rate of muscle contractions.  Athletic drills are also included in this circuit.  They are similar to plyometrics with the exception that these drills are geared more towards locomotion.  The goal of athletic drills is to improve quickness, reaction time, and agility.  Athletic drills are challenging, fun, and a great way to improve cardiovascular fitness.  The plyometric and athletic drill circuit is usually done at the beginning of the workout. These exercises tend are the most demanding and are best performed earlier in the workout.

Balance and Strength (Circuit 2)

Balance enables a person to maintain their center of gravity during movement and in stationary positions. This can be the case during a sporting event or in simple day to day activities. Also, improving balance can help increase joint stability, improve posture, and help increase overall strength.  And best of all, balance exercises are easy to implement with traditional strength moves.  An overhead press can easily be performed on a stability ball, a single leg squat can replace a two legged squat.

For strength exercises you want to select exercises that challenge each of the primary movements of the human body.  This would include a pushing exercise, a pulling exercise, and a squat and/or lunge.  For added challenge and time-efficiency, multiple movements can be combined in one exercise.  An example would be a dumbbell squat with a bicep curl to an overhead press.

Core (Circuit 3) 

The core consists of all the muscles that connect into the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex.  In other words, all the muscles of the trunk and pelvis.  The core plays a major role in helping us maintain stability during functional movements and is a key component in reducing the risk of injury.  In general, core movements should consist primarily of rotation, extension, and isometric holds.  Movements that emphasize flexion movement similar to a crunch should be used in moderation.

Flexibility Cool down 

Cool down should consist of at least 5-10 minutes of static stretching and/or self-myofascial release (SMR).  Static stretching is the process of passively taking a muscle to the point of tension and holding the stretch for between 20-60 seconds. This will help reset the length of the muscles that were worked and help maintain and improve mobility.  SMR involves applying pressure to the muscle by using a bio-foam roller and can help eliminate adhesion/knot build up due to training.  Slowly roll along your muscles until a “tender point” is located. Rest on the tender point for 30-60 seconds or until there is a 75% reduction in pain felt.

Please refer to the sidebar for a sample workout and/or check out the video link for demonstrations of the following workout.

Jason Wanlass, the owner of Champion Fitness Training in Meridian, has more than 16 years experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at or


Integrated Strength & Conditioning Workout

Dynamic Warm up (1 set x 10 reps)

  • Leg Swings
  • MB Reverse Wood Chops
  • T-Rotations
  • Lunge w/twist
  • Cat/Cow Stretch

 Plyometric & Athletic Drills (2-3 Sets x 5-10 reps)

  • Squat Jumps
  • MB Chest Pass
  • Lateral Shuffle
  • Pro Agility Drill

 Strength & Balance (2-3 Sets x 12-20 reps)

  • Single Leg Squats
  • Split Lunge w/cable row
  • Pushups
  • TRX Rear Fly

 Core (2-3 Sets x 15-20 reps)

  • Standing Torso Rotations
  • Plank
  • Cobra


  • Hamstrings
  • Quads
  • Hip/Glute
  • Hip Flexors
  • Chest
  • Lats/Upper Back
  • Low Back


Put yourself on a training plan to meet your goals

If you want success in life, you need a plan. Whether it’s wanting to retire at a certain age or finding the job of your dreams, having a plan is key.

The same holds true for fitness and athletics, a method that is referred to as periodization. This involves developing a long-term training plan that is structured with the goal of achieving peak conditioning in a specific time frame or by a certain date.

Periodized plans for athletes generally are 6-12 months to get players ready for the season. But for the weekend warrior or individual who wants to lose body fat, the same method can be used applied in a shorter time frame.

So how do you develop a periodized plan? Essentially by working backward from a target date. From there, we simply break training into phases and sub-phases leading up to that point. With periodization, training phases are divided into three categories: the preparatory phase, the competitive phase, and transition phase (active rest/recovery).

Of these phases, the preparatory and competitive phases are furtherbroken down into the sub-phases of general preparation, specific preparation, pre-competitive, and competitive phases.

Finally, each phase is broken down further into cycles: the macro cycle (6-12 months), meso cycles (2-6 weeks), and micro cycles (1 week).

Most of us aren’t paid professional athletes, but that’s not to suggest that we can’t benefit from a structured training regimen. Let’s say this is the year we want to train for a half-marathon or maybe we’re just looking to get in great shape by summer.

Here’s an outline to give you an idea how the process works.


General preparation (conditioning) phase:

  • Lasts from two to three months.
  • The goal is to develop “base conditioning” before adding high intensity (more resistance or cardio intervals).
  • The focus is on adding more volume (sets/reps, longer duration) as fitness improves.
  • Strength training should focus on technique and adaptation. Total-body exercises are used at two to three sets and repetitions usually ranging between 15 and 25 reps per exercise.
  • Training aims to improve endurance, strength, flexibility and mobility.
  • For experienced exercisers, correcting strength imbalances and specific faults are the primary goal. The focus for new exercisers should be skill acquisition.
  • Cardiovascular conditioning is geared toward steady-state conditioning (between 60 and 70 percent of your maximum heart rate.)

Specific preparation phase:

  • Lasts from one to two months and includes progressive increases in intensity training and specificity to activity.
  • Volume is now secondary and is often slightly reduced as intensity increases.
  • The strength training goal is to develop strength and power. Sets increase to three to four sets with reps ranging between 8 and 12 per exercise.
  • Implementation of hard intervals and race-pace training for cardio conditioning (less than 70 percent of max heart rate).


Pre-competitive phase:

  • Lasts from one to two months before a season or event.
  • The goal is to maintain fitness accumulated during preparatory phase.
  • Training volume (sets/reps) is decreased to allow recovery and prevent exhaustion.
  • Final phases of skill development are reached.
  • From one to two practice events should be used to get a feel for the main event, such as a 10K race before the half-marathon.

Competitive phase:

  • This is the primary season or event. The length of this phase depends on the activity or sport.
  • It’s often separated by a one- to two-week recovery period to allow physical and psychological restbefore the main event.
  • Intensity is kept high and volume low. Usually, from two to three weeks before an event is optimal to allow body to reach its peak.

Transition/recovery phase:

  • This takes place after the event or season. This phase usually lasts from four to five weeks before training resumes.
  • Recovery should include recreational activity that is different from your usual training.
  • It allows mental and physical rejuvenation before starting the next training plan.

Jason Wanlass, the owner of Monster Personal Training & Athletic Conditioning in Meridian, has more than 16 years experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at or

Training tools to add variety to your workouts

It can be challenging to stay motivated with an exercise routine. The human body and mind have a certain threshold when it comes to doing the same thing over and over again, particularly with exercise.

The good news is you don’t have to limit yourself to free weights and cardio machines. Several training devices today are different, challenging and produce great training results.

I’m not talking about fad infomercial products such as the Shake Weight or the Ab Belt; these are the same training tools used by professional athletes. A few of my favorites include battling ropes, sandbags, weighted vests and the TRX Suspension Trainer.

They are versatile and will help improve cardiovascular endurance, strength, power, and burn fat.


These are also known as training ropes. They are used by implementing a whipping or circle motion with your arms that creates a “wave” in the rope. This results in a high metabolic demand to the body from the oscillation of the rope.  For more of a challenge, do simultaneous leg movements such as squats, walking or lunging. Battling ropes generally are from 30 to 50 feet long with a weight range of from 15 to 40 pounds. They are a great total-body training device that will tax your muscles and cardiovascular system.

Sample exercises:

  • Alternating waves
  • Double waves
  • Circles
  • Flips


This is a vest with adjustable weights, ranging anywhere from 10 to 100 pounds. Weight vests are nice because they distribute the load evenly throughout the body, giving more demand during body-weight exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups and squats. Plus, you still have the freedom to do combination exercises with free weights or other training tools.  Start with a vest about 5-10 percent of your body weight, then progress as you gain more strength and endurance.

Sample exercises:

  • Pull-ups
  • Push-ups
  • Squats with dumbbell curl and press
  • Lunge kicks


Sandbags come in a variety of sizes and allow the user to adjust the weight depending on his/her strength or skill level.  With a variety of different handles built in, this training tool can mimic most exercises performed with dumbbells, barbells and medicine balls. The key difference is the increased challenge to your grip and the shifting of the weight during exercises that you don’t experience with traditional free weights. As a result, there is a higher demand on your core and posture muscles to maintain stability, giving you an amazing total body workout.

Sample exercises:

  • Squat press
  • Rotational lunge
  • Bent-over row
  • Front squats


This is a body-weight training tool made from suspension straps. Attach the TRX to an overhead anchor point or door attachment and adjust the angle of your body to make exercises easier or more challenging.  The tool creates more demand on the core muscles and helps increase joint stability because the straps need to be controlled by the body. You can easily perform more than 100 exercises with the TRX, using it for strength training, cardio, balance and core.

Sample exercises:

  • Plank
  • Row
  • Suspended lunge
  • Tricep extension

For more info, check out the video demonstration of the exercises by clicking here.

Jason Wanlass, the owner of Monster Personal Training & Athletic Conditioning in Meridian, has more than 16 years experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at or

Plyometric training is for everyone

“Plyometric Training”Bounding, jumping, catching and throwing oh my!  These are some of the common exercises you may hear of when it comes to plyometrics.  But what exactly is plyometrics?  When you break the word down into its greek roots, plyometric literally means to increase measure (plio = more; metric = measure).  Specifically, plyometric training refers to activities that allow a muscle to reach maximal force in the shortest period of time (NSCA 2000).  This is accomplished by incorporating the stretch-shortening cycle.  Simply put, any movement that involves a rapid prestretch and is immediately followed by a muscular contraction.  A great example can be seen when you watch a basketball player jumping for a rebound.  He or she quickly descends into a quarter squat position (prestretch) then immediately counters with a muscle contraction by jumping explosively for the rebound.  Two things happen during this movement.  First, there is an increase in the rate of muscle force and second, there is an increase in the number of muscle fibers recruited during the contraction.  With this comes many physical benefits.  Increases in muscular strength and power, mobility in selected joints, and improved athletic performance to name a few.  But plyometrics isn’t necessarily limited to the athlete or weekend warrior.  Today many trainers and coaches use plyometrics with all levels of clients.  Whether it’s a profession athlete looking to improve their vertical jump or a grandparent looking to improve their balance and stability getting up and down the stairs, both can benefit from plyometric training..

It should be noted however, that training should vary per individual.  With that being said, there are certain guidelines that should be followed when introducing plyometric training into your routine:

  1. Proper Warm up. A thorough set of warm up exercises should preceed any workout, particularly plyometrics. Spend at least 10-15 minutes implementing a dynamic warm up before you begin.
  2. Master the basics. Learning basic jumps and landing mechanics is key before advancing to more complex exercises. Begin with jumping in place drills and focus on properly landing and absorbing impact. Once a strong foundation has been developed, traveling hops, jumps, and bounds can be introduced.
  3. Allow Recovery. Because intensity is generally higher in plyometrics, allowing full recovery is extremely important. As a guideline, as much as 3-4 minutes between sets or working at a 1:3 ratio. In other words, if your set lasts 20 seconds, recovery should be 60 seconds. Also, there should be at least 1-2 days of recovery between plyometric workouts. Like weight training, you should not work the same muscle groups on consecutive days.
  4. Proper Footwear Make sure you have a high quality athletic shoe. Also, work on surfaces that have good shock-absorbing qualities like grass apposed to cement.
  5. Watch your volume. Volume is simply the total amount of repetitions per workout. For example, if you perform an exercise fo 3 sets of 15 reps, your total volume would equal 45 (3 x 15 = 45). The recommended amount of volume ranges is based on skill level. The National Strength and Conditioning association recommends the following volume ranges; 80 to 100 for beginner (no experience), 100 to 120 for intermediate (some experience), 120 to 140 for advances (considerable experience).

Here are a couple basic exercises to try! Please check out the video to see for details, variations and modifications for each. I also recommend the book “Jumping into Plyometrics” by Donald Chu.

Squat Jumps: Engage your core muscles and quickly lower into a quarter-squat position and then explode upward. Sink your hips and flex at your knees as you land and hold for 2-3 seconds. Repeat for a total of 10 reps.

MB Chest Pass: Hold a 6 to 10 lb medicine ball at chest level facing a solid wall. Engage your core muscles and quickly lower into a quarter-squat position and then forcefully extend your hip, knee, and arms, releasing the ball. Absorb the catch of the medicine ball as it bounces off the wall, by sinking your hips and flexing your knees and arms. Hold this position and then repeat the steps above for 10 reps.

Jason Wanlass, the owner of Monster Personal Training & Athletic Conditioning in Meridian, has more than 16 years’ experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at or

How to (not!) get fat in five easy steps – by Mike Adams

You may think it’s strange to find a “How-To” article focusing on five easy steps for adding fat to your body. You might say that we already know how to do that: two thirds of the people in the United States are overweight and one third are considered clinically obese. Obviously we’ve mastered this topic.But I challenge that. I think even though we do tend to be overweight and obese as a nation, very few people are aware of how they actually got there. There’s not a great deal of awareness of the steps it takes to actually add excess body fat. In other words, we’re living with the effects of the obesity plan every single day in our own lives and in our society, and yet we’re not really cognizant of the causes. This article is designed to help make you aware of the causes by presenting the topic of weight loss to you in a unique way.Suppose a billionaire appeared at your doorstep and offered you $10,000,000 if you could add 100 pounds of body fat in less than one year. How could you actually do it in 12 months or less?

Step one to adding body fat: slow your metabolism

The very first thing you’ve got to do is slow your metabolism; by slowing your metabolism you’ll burn fewer calories when you’re at rest and thus, even if you don’t increase the amount of food you intake, you’ll automatically add weight and store body fat. The easiest way to slow your metabolism is to stop all forms of exercise. Avoid walking. Spend a lot of time in front of the television. Take elevators instead of the stairs. And certainly don’t sign up for any physical activities or spend much time outdoors.Some of the best strategies for lowering your metabolism include getting a desk job, finding parking spaces as close as possible to the stores where you shop so you don’t spend much time walking across the parking lot, and of course purchasing one of those electric chairs or scooters so that you can get around town without having to walk at all.

Avoiding physical exercise has a second effect — it also causes your body to break down the existing muscle mass that you have today. And by breaking down muscle mass, your metabolism will be slowed even further. This will accelerate your weight gain efforts and allow you to pack on the pounds almost automatically.

Remember that when you don’t use your muscles, your body gets rid of them. That’s because your body adapts to the level and intensity of physical exercise you choose to pursue. The quickest way to get rid of the muscles that you don’t want is to simply stop using them, and your body will take care of the rest.

Step two: drink lots of carbonated soft drinks

Avoiding physical exercise is only the first step to gaining weight and achieving your goal of packing on extra pounds in 12 months or less. But it won’t get you there all by itself — you’ve got to assist that effort by altering your diet.One of the very first things you should do is get yourself addicted to caffeinated soft drinks. You can start by purchasing a 12-pack of any soft drink beverage in grocery stores and consuming it at every possible opportunity, including breakfast. This is an absolutely wonderful way to pack on the pounds, because soft drinks are made with high-fructose corn syrup. When this ingredient is consumed, it spikes the blood sugar in your body. This sends an emergency signal to your pancreas, which produces increased levels of insulin in order to keep the blood sugar levels from going too high. This insulin signal is picked up by the cells in your body, which then remove blood sugar from your bloodstream and, through a somewhat complex biological process involving the liver, manage to store that blood sugar as body fat. If you drink enough soft drinks with enough frequency, you will be well on your way to achieving your goal of gaining 100 lb in 12 months or less.

Step three: choose high caloric density foods

While you’re at it, be sure to purchase foods with very high caloric density. You see, raw, uncooked fruits and vegetables will fill you up before you get very many calories in your meal. For example, it’s very difficult to eat 1,000 calories worth of apples at one sitting. Your stomach will simply fill up before you reach 1,000 calories and you won’t feel like eating any more. But if you choose processed foods with ingredients such as white flour, hydrogenated oils or saturated fats, you can pack in a couple of thousand calories in one sitting without topping off your stomach. This is hugely important for achieving your weight gain goals.Fortunately there are a great number of foods available at every grocery store in America that can help you accomplish this. It’s very easy to buy them, as most are quite affordable. All you have to do is look for brand-name foods packaged in beautiful boxes with delicious-looking pictures of foods on the front.

If you read the ingredients label, you’ll find these foods are made with ingredients like hydrogenated oils, white flour, sugar and other ingredients that have a very high caloric density. It is important that you eat these foods at every meal. You want to make sure your diet consists of things like cheese, fried foods and lots of white bread. As you probably guessed, pizza is an outstanding choice because it not only has a high caloric density from the cheese and whatever meats are on the pizza, but it also has the high glycemic index that accompanies the white flour crust. In a similar way, it’s also a good idea to eat lots of sugary breakfast cereals with high-fat cow’s milk. This will give you saturated fat from the cows’ milk and the high sugar content of the breakfast cereals, thereby adding fat to your body through two different biological mechanisms: fat and refined carbohydrates.

Step four: load up on junk foods

Junk foods are, of course, another outstanding choice for achieving your goals. A bag of potato chips provides an impressive quantity of dietary fats as well as refined carbohydrates – and various nacho chips and other snack foods operate in much the same way.You can also accelerate your weight gain goals by turning to fried foods. Fried foods have very high caloric density and the batter in which these foods are fried is normally made with white flour, so you also get the high glycemic index effects from the carbohydrates in the batter as well as the absurdly high caloric density of the fried fats.

Step five: visit fast food restaurants frequently

If you had to name an ideal source for the combination of food ingredients that would rapidly accelerate your quest for obesity, you’d have to put fast food restaurants at the top of that list. The more popular the fast food chain, the faster their food packs on the body fat, it seems. (Maybe that’s what the “fast” in “fast food” really means…)If you were to eat in fast food restaurants at least once a day, you would easily be able to meet your weight gain goal within one year and cash that $10,000,000 check. Be sure to order the largest quantities of soft drinks, fries and hamburgers, because it’s quantity that counts here. Aided by menu items from fast food chains, you can pack in as much as 2,000 calories in a single meal! This is going to rapidly accelerate your weight gain efforts, because the average adult human being needs only 2,000 calories per day.

If you can consume 2,000 calories at each meal while eating three meals a day, you can pack on an extra 4,000 calories a day! It takes about 3,000 calories to make one pound of excess body fat, so by eating 6,000 calories a day, you can achieve slightly more than one pound of body fat each day. This means in one week alone you can pack on 7 or 8 pounds of body fat, which would put you well on your way to achieving your weight gain goal. In fact, using this approach, you would probably be able to achieve your goal in 90 days or less. Cash that $10,000,000 check well ahead of time and retire as the global champion master of obesity!

The high price of weight gain success

Of course by the time you actually win this $10,000,000 you will have suffered the devastating health effects of consuming these processed foods, junk foods, fast foods and disease-promoting food ingredients. Yes, you will be $10,000,000 richer, but if you don’t reverse everything you’ve done over the last 90 days you will soon learn that you can’t take it with you. In other words, your life will be shortened if you don’t put an end to this weight gain effort and get back to a normal body weight.Fortunately, reversing your achievement is fairly straightforward. Simply do the opposite of everything that you’ve followed so far. In other words, start exercising, increase your lean body mass by engaging in strength training. Spend time walking, swimming or cycling. Find ways to move your body at work, even if you have a desk job. Avoid all processed foods and foods made with high-fructose corn syrup, white flour, refined white sugar and other refined carbohydrates. Remove soft drinks from your diet, avoid all fried foods, snack foods, junk foods and any foods made by food-manufacturing corporations whose packaged foods line the shelves of America’s grocery stores.

Once you do all that, your liver function will begin to improve quite rapidly; the hardening of your arteries that was taking place as your pursued your weight gain diet will begin to reverse; your cardiovascular health will improve dramatically; your brain function will even improve. Your pulse will slow, and your body fat will slowly begin to melt off. Your level of energy and vitality will gradually rise. You will find it easier to sleep at night and get up in the morning. You won’t get sick as often, and you’ll find that your immune system begins to function the way it’s supposed to in a healthy human being. In fact, every function of your body will steadily improve as you shift to a healthy, nutritious diet that avoids processed foods and all of those lifestyle choices you pursued to gain weight in the first place and win $10,000,000.

But here’s the bad news to all of this: while it may have only taken you 90 days to pack on 100 extra pounds, it will probably take you 100 weeks to remove it! That’s because weight loss strategies that work in the long term typically shed no more than one pound per week in actual body fat. So you can count on spending almost two years taking that fat off of your body, even though it only took 90 days to put it on.

Why most Americans are already on the weight-gain plan

If all of this discussion about how to gain weight sounds rather silly, by the way, that’s because it is silly. And what’s ever crazier is the fact that half the population in America is on the weight-gain plan right now, and they’re doing it for free!. How’s that for crazy? It’s one thing to compromise your health for a huge financial reward or some other significant goal, but it’s quite another to destroy your health and have nothing to show for it other than medical bankruptcy when the hospital bills start arriving at your door.It’s true: people are following this five-step plan right now! They’re actively following the precise strategy that a human being should take if they were trying to pack on 100 pounds of excess body weight and win $10,000,000.

And here’s something even more shocking: many people still haven’t figured out the link between the choices they make and their level of body weight or body health. They’ve been convinced by their physicians and organized medicine that health is just a matter of luck. There’s nothing you can really do to control your health outcome, they’re told. If you get cancer, it’s just chance or family history. If you’re obese, it’s just a genetic mutation that alters your brain chemistry. At least, in their minds.

And so each and every day, Americans go to the grocery store and load up their shopping carts with foods that will inevitably create obesity and chronic disease in their bodies. And then they wonder why they don’t feel well. They go to the doctor and say “Doc, please, fix me! Because I don’t feel so good.” That’s because they’re following the weight gain plan: the diet of obesity and chronic disease.

Why I’m serious about all this

Enough toying around with the weight gain recipe. Let’s get serious about what all this means. To do that, first realize that you, me and everyone alive has a great deal of power to control our own health outcome. If we take responsibility for our health and look at the effects of the actions we are taking, we can determine what outcome we wish to experience. (By the way, the vast majority of readers of this site already know this. But I’m sure you’ll agree that many of the people around you, who aren’t so well informed about health, truly have no clue…)Some people may be fine with going through life experiencing chronic disease. For some people it’s actually a pattern that’s comfortable and familiar. Others, though, would like to go through life in a healthful state. And too few people realize they have the full power to make that choice and follow that path in their own lives.

What I’m sharing here today is that there is a recipe for gaining weight and being diseased, just as there is a recipe for losing weight and being free of disease. You can choose to follow whichever recipe you want, and you will get exactly the results of the recipe you follow. You can also invent your own recipe and experience the natural results of that recipe based on the laws of physiology, biochemistry, nutrition and health.

You can make a new choice starting now

So if you’re standing on a path right now, and it’s not the path you want to be on in terms of your own health, I invite you to stop walking down that path, take a look around and find a new path to walk down. Then put one foot in front of the other and start walking down that new path. It’s not going to change your health overnight, but if you keep putting one foot in front of the other, day after day, you can end up on a completely different path than where you started. And if you open your eyes so that you actually see where you’re walking, you can look down the path to see what kind of result you want to achieve and then aim for that goal.You don’t have to walk blindly and leave your health up to chance or food advertising gimmicks. You can take control of the outcome you wish to experience and move towards it steadily, with determination, and ultimately experience it each and every day for the rest of your life. Take back your health power! (And ditch that body fat recipe, too.)

Learn more:

Three training principles for fitness success

There are many benefits to resistance training, and many of us make it a consistent part of our fitness routine. Individual motivation can range anywhere from improving athletic performance to increasing muscle tone and definition.

No matter what you are trying to achieve, there are certain training principles that should be followed to ensure long-term success.

First is the principle of overload. A greater than normal stress or load on the body is required for training adaptation to occur.

The body will always adapt to exercise over time, and once this happens a different stimulus is required for additional strength gains. The process should be gradual and is usually accomplished by altering training intensity or increasing the amount of weight lifted.

As a rule, when you can perform two or more repetitions over your repetition goal in the last set of two consecutive workouts, intensity should be increased. Weight increases should range between 2.5 to 5 percent for isolated exercises (such as tricep pressdowns) and 5 to 10 percent for exercises that utilize larger muscle groups (such as the bench press).

Second is the principle of variation, or a combination of training variables. Specifically, speed of movement, rest periods, training frequency, exercise order, or style of exercises.

We could vary a dumbbell lunge, for example, by switching to split jumps which would alter two variables — the speed of movement and the style of exercise.

Last is the principle of specificity. This one is critical for the athlete or weekend warrior. This principle implies that for optimal training carry-over, exercises should mimic the demands of the sport as closely as possible. For example, a baseball pitcher in a pitching motion involves lunging, pushing and twisting. A pitcher’s program then would include exercises such as cable chops and rotational lunges to closer mimic the demands of the sport.

While it may be helpful to have a good base of fitness and to do general conditioning routines, it is key to train specifically for your sport for optimal performance.

Bottom line: It is necessary to alter your training program every four to six weeks using one or a combination of these principles. By doing so, it will ensure that you remain physically challenged, mentally refreshed and closer to reaching peak performance.

Jason Wanlass, the owner of Champion Fitness Training in Meridian, has more than 20 years’ experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at or

Don’t skip the flexibility training

Flexibility training is often the most overlooked and skipped part of a workout. With so many areas to address such as core, strength and cardio conditioning, it can be difficult to fit in. However, flexibility shouldn’t be neglected, especially when you consider the benefits. Flexibility training can help improve posture, increase mobility, and produce a higher quality workout. In the past, static stretching was generally the only method used. This involved, taking a muscle to the point of tension and holding for approximately 30-60 seconds, generally done at the beginning and/or end of a workout. While static stretching is still an effective and important method to optimal flexibility, it is only a small piece of the puzzle. Flexibility has evolved and includes a variety of modalities such as, self myofascial release, active/dynamic stretching, and static stretching. So the question is how do we fit it in? By dedicating at least one session a week to flexibility or by integrating into the workout itself! Below is a description of the various flexibility methods that can be used and when it’s best to perform them.

Self-Myofascial Release (SMR): is the process of applying pressure to the muscle by using a bio-foam roller and/or a massage stick. SMR feels like a deep tissue massage and can be tender is some areas. However, when done consistently SMR becomes much easier and less painful. The purpose of SMR is to help eliminate adhesion/knot build up due to training and/or postural stress. This in turn will help improve flexibility, mobility, and joint mechanics.

To SMR, slowly roll along your muscles until a “tender point” is located. Rest on the tender point for 30-60 seconds or until there is a 75% reduction in pain felt. SMR can be done before and/or after your workout.

Active/Dynamic Stretching: is the process of using opposing muscle groups or controlled momentum to take a joint/muscle through the full available range of motion. Perform 6-10 reps per exercise/muscle group at the beginning of your workout right after SMR.

Static Stretching: is the process of passively taking a muscle to the point of tension and holding the stretch for between 20-60 seconds. Static flexibility is reserved for after a workout in most cases. However, it can be used before a workout for individuals with overly tight muscles and/or muscle imbalances. But keep in mind that static stretching prior to a workout may actually increase risk of injury in some cases! An active/dynamic warm up should immediately follow if done prior to a workout.  Perform 1-3 reps per exercise.

Workout Format

  1. Warm up: SMR & Active/Dynamic Flexibility (10-15 minutes)
  2. Strength & Conditioning (30-40 minutes)
  3. Cool Down: Static Flexibility and/or SMR (10-15 minutes)


Adding a warm up can improve your golf game

Does this sound familiar? You have a 10:00 am tee time. The morning has slipped away and you find yourself pulling into the parking lot with only five minutes to spare. Quickly you grab your clubs and rush inside the pro shop to pay before making your way to the first hole to tee off. Naturally you struggle from the start and don’t find yourself loosening up until several holes have passed. Any of us that have played have been guilty of this approach at some point. But make no mistake, golf is very physically demanding and requires a proper warm up. The head of a golf club can travel over 100 mph during a swing, this is an effort equivalent to pitching a baseball. And last time I checked, Mariano Rivera never strolled out to the mound in the 9th inning to close a game without throwing a warming up pitch! Golf shouldn’t be any different, especially when you consider the following:

  •  The body produces 90% of peak muscle force when hitting a golf ball, an effort that is repeated as many as 40 times per round.
  •  Up to 53% of male golfers and 45% of female golfers suffer from low back pain.
  •  Those who play golf and participate in another sport are 40% more likely to develop back pain than those who just play golf

Plus, the benefits to warming up don’t stop with injury prevention. Adding a warm up prior to a round of golf can actually help improve your play! A recent study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning research found that golfers fared remarkably better in distance, accuracy, and ball contact when incorporating a dynamic warm up prior to hitting the driving range. So the next time you’re ready to hit the links, give yourself some extra time and incorporate the following routine before your round.

Reverse Wood Chops: Begin in a ¼ squat position with your arms straight and hanging towards the right side of your body with your hands together. Power out of the squat position by rotating your arms, hips and shoulder to your left side, similar to the follow through of your golf swing. Return to the starting position and continue the sequence for 8-10 repetitions. Switch directions and repeat for an additional 8-10 reps.

Standing Shoulder Circles: Take a hip width stance with your arms out to your sides and your palms facing up. Circle your arms forward for 10-15 repetitions. Reverse the direction and repeat for 10-15 more.

Standing Adductor Stretch: Take a wide stance. Place your hands on your right thigh and squat down while shifting your weight distribution to your right side while keeping your left leg straight. Continue to a depth in which a good stretch is felt in your left inner thigh and hold for about 1 to 2 seconds. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side. Perform 8-10 rep in each direction.

Standing Torso Rotations: Take a hip width stance. Hold your hands together with your arms out in front of you and rotate your hips, shoulders, and arms simultaneously to your right side while pivoting off of your left foot. Return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side. Perform 8-10 reps in each direction.

Standing Scapular Retraction: Take a stance about hip width apart with your arms directly in front of you. Keep your arms parallel to the ground and pull your arms away from each another until they are on either side of your body. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and make sure your shoulder don’t shrug. Return to the starting position, then repeat this process for 8-10 reps.

Practice Swings:

1st Set Using a 5 iron, perform 10 practice swings at 50% of your normal swing speed. Begin with a half swing, then gradually work towards a full swing by swing 10.

2nd Set: Using a driver, perform 10 more practice swings starting at 50% speed then gradually work your way to full speed at swing number 10. Now your ready to hit your pre-round bucket!

Jason Wanlass is the owner of Monster Personal Training & Athletic Conditioning in Meridian, has 16 years of experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at or

The myth of the fat burning zone

I’ve been in the fitness industry for more than 15 years, and it amazes me that this topic still exists. But with cardio equipment makers continuing to display low-intensity training as “fat loss” on their monitors and a percentage of personal trainers still prescribing low-intensity cardio as the most effective method for weight loss, it’s no wonder the confusion still exists.

The “fat burning zone” is 50-60 percent of your maximum heart rate. Research has shown that you burn a higher percentage of fat while training at this intensity. People were quick to conclude that this must mean you lose more fat.

The problem with this theory is the most important factor is left out, and that’s the rate of calories being burned. Also, fat is still being used at higher workout intensities and ultimately will result in more fat calories expended overall.

For example, the average exerciser burns about 8 calories a minute while training in the fat burning zone, with about 50 percent of those calories coming from fat.

Compare that with an exerciser working at 70-80 percent of her maximum heart rate (commonly called the cardiovascular zone), where the rate increases to 11 calories a minute on average with about 40 percent of those calories from fat.

The result:

In the fat burning zone (50-60 percent of maximum heart rate):

  • About 50 percent of calories come from fat.
  • About 8 calories per minute are expended.
  • 60 minutes x 8 calories/minute = 480 calories
  • 50 percent x 480 calories = 240 fat calories.

In the cardiovascular zone (70-80 percent of maximum heart rate):

  • About 40 percent of calories come from fat.
  • About 11 calories per minute are expended.
  • 60 minutes x 11 calories/minute = 660 calories
  • 40 percent x 660 calories = 264 fat calories

The cardiovascular zone yields more for both total calories and fat calories burned. And as a bonus, your fitness levels will improve even more. This is key, because the body will begin to burn more fat during and after workouts because the body begins to spare carbohydrates, a process known as “glycogen sparing.” Because carbohydrates are the body’s preferred fuel, and because we have a limited supply, the body naturally begins to use a higher percentage of fat during workouts as our fitness improves.

Also, after intense exercise, the body has to work even harder to restore equilibrium to our body temperature, respiratory rate and hormone levels. This requires high amounts of oxygen, a process known as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). With this increased demand for oxygen, more fuel is required from our body during post-workout recovery to achieve homeostasis. And guess what the primary fuel is during this process? FAT!

The take-home message is that there is no magical fat burning zone. For best results, cardiovascular training should include a variety of intensities. While there are countless benefits to training at higher intensities, low-intensity workouts are still important and should be included into your routine, especially if you are just beginning a program. And even an avid exerciser in need of active recovery can benefit from lower intensities a couple of times per week.


• Structure two to three long and easy-intensity workouts each week. These sessions should be 45 minutes or longer with a target heart rate between 50-70 percent of your maximum.

These workouts should feel comfortable but have you still breaking a sweat. These workouts effectively target your aerobic energy system, which will help develop fat burning enzymes, help maximize recovery, and should be your starting point if you’re just beginning a program.

• Structure one to two moderate-length and -intensity aerobic workouts each week. These sessions should be 30-40 minutes in duration, and the target heart rate should range between 70-80 percent of your maximum. The level of effort in these workouts should be comfortable but challenging.

• Structure one to two short and intense interval workouts into your program each week. These workouts should last between 20–30 minutes with your target heart rate ranging between 80-90 percent of your maximum during work intervals. During these workouts your breathing is heavier and will definitely be above your comfort zone.


Step 1: Determine your resting heart rate. This is your heart rate in beats per minute when you are resting. To determine your true resting heart rate, before you get out of bed in the morning, measure your heart rate for one minute. Wait a few minutes after the alarm has gone off, so your heart will recover from being startled. For best accuracy, you should do this three days in a row and take the average.

Step 2: Calculate your heart rate reserve (HRR): 220 – age – resting heart rate (RHR) = HRR

Step 3: Calculate your target heart rate: (HRR x target percentage) + RHR = Target Heart Rate


Zone 1, general health: 50–60 percent of your maximum heart rate.

  •  Lower target heart rate zone = (HRR x 50 percent) + RHR
  •  Upper target heart rate zone = (HRR x 60 percent) + RHR

Zone 2, weight management: 60–70 percent of your maximum heart rate.

  •  Lower target heart rate zone = (HRR x 60 percent) + RHR
  •  Higher target heart rate zone = (HRR x 70 percent) + RHR

Zone 3, aerobic conditioning/weight management: 70–80 percent of your maximum heart rate.

  •  Lower target heart rate zone = (HRR x 70 percent) + RHR
  •  Higher target heart rate zone = (HRR x 80 percent) + RHR

Zone 4, advanced conditioning: 80–90 percent of your maximum heart rate.

  •  Lower target heart rate zone = (HRR x 80 percent) + RHR
  •  Higher target heart rate zone = (HRR x 90 percent) + RHR

Jason Wanlass, the owner of Champion Fitness in Meridian, has more than 15 years’ experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at or

Set up a gym at home

There are many advantages to working out at home. One, it’s convenient. Two, there’s no extra commute or having to deal with the crowds at a health club. And best of all, you don’t need to spend a fortune or add another wing to your home for a massive home gym. There are many effective fitness tools on the market right now that are fun, affordable, and require minimal space. When choosing equipment there are a few things to consider. First, are the components that go into a fitness routine. From a movement standpoint the human body is built for pushing, pulling, rotating, raising/lowering one’s center of gravity, and locomotion. Your program should consists of strength training, balance & core conditioning, and cardiovascular endurance to cover all of these movements effectively. Remembering to choose equipment that is versatile is key for setting up a successful home gym. The second thing to consider is space. While it would be nice to dedicate an entire room for a gym, sometimes we don’t have that luxury. At a minimum try to designate at least a 10′ x 10′ area. This will give you enough space to perform basic athletic drills or exercises that use resistance tubing. Last thing to consider is cost. While all of the featured fitness products below are economically appealing, by no means do you need them all to get started. Purchase products that give you more variety first, then fill in the gaps as your budget allows.

Here are some of my favorite fitness tools that will provide a killer workout and give you the most bang for your buck.

TRX Suspension Trainer: is a body weight training tool that uses suspension straps from an overhead anchor point or from a door attachment. The user can adjust the angle of their body to make exercise easier or more challenging based on their strength and fitness level. You can perform over 100 exercise with the TRX using it for strength training, cardio, balance, core, and much more. A must have for any home gym!

Resistance Tubing: is perfect for duplicating all the exercises of cable machines at the gym without the price tag or space requirements. Resistance tubing is also a great tool for rotational core & strength exercises. At a minimum you should have at least three tubes. One with light, medium, and heavy resistance.

Stability Ball or a BOSU: Not only provides many strength, balance, and core options, but you can also duplicate many of the exercises that require a bench and with more challenge!

Agility Ladder and/or Jump Rope: A great cardio workout doesn’t have to be confined to a machine, especially when working out at home! Not only will your heart get pumping with an agility ladder and/or jump rope, but both tools are perfect for improving foot speed and athleticism.

Powerblocks or Select Tech Dumbbells: an entire dumbbell set condensed into one pair! The obvious advantage is the space you save, but also you end up saving more money in the long run when you compare the cost of buying individual dumbbells. Just insert the pin or turn the dial to select your weight and your ready to rock! Many weight range options exist with both Powerblocks and Select Tech dumbbells depending on your needs. And of course adding dumbbells to your home gym will give you countless exercise options for both strength and cardio!

Medicine Balls: are a great tool for core conditioning and for power exercises that require throwing. If you play any rotational sports like golf, tennis, or baseball, medicine balls are great for you’re looking adding some power to your game.

Jason Wanlass, owner of Monster Personal Training & Athletic Conditioning has more than 15 years of experience in the fitness industry.  Contact him at or

Trying to get in shape? Try something a little different

The new year is finally upon us! Any shortcomings of years past quickly fade as we vow to make this year our best ever. And if you’re like most, this includes heading to the gym to get back into shape. While this is an effective approach, it’s important to keep your options open, especially when it comes to long-term success. Mixing in activities that are fun and physically challenging can be refreshing and will be more likely to keep you consistent throughout the year.

Besides, there are many options here in our great state. Whether you’re looking for a little winter adventure or prefer to stay indoors, here are four popular choices to help kick start your year!

LET IT SNOW: Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are great ways to take in the outdoors in the winter and provide a challenging workout. You can burn as much as 1,000 calories per hour!

There is no shortage of options when it comes to finding some epic snow. Idaho offers a Park ‘n’ Ski program to 16 nordic areas throughout the state with more than 180 miles of trails. (Visit for other ideas about where to go.)

KICK THOSE WINTER BLUES: Not a fan of the snow? Consider joining an indoor soccer league. Soccer is a fast and furious sport that is fun and will help improve your speed, agility, power and cardiovascular endurance.

Plus, the Treasure Valley has two indoor soccer centers to choose from, with leagues for all skill levels. So if you’re looking for an intense workout and have a competitive side, indoor soccer will not disappoint!

GET YOUR LATIN GROOVE ON: Zumba has taken the fitness industry by storm. Primarily a cardiovascular workout, Zumba is inspired by Latin rhythms and combines a variety of movements including salsa, meringue, hip hop, belly dancing and more. All in all, Zumba provides a great workout and is the perfect way to shake things up.

INDOOR ROCK CLIMBING: is great for improving endurance, total body strength, and a fun way to add some adventure to your routine. Boise has two gyms dedicated exclusively to rock climbing. The YMCA also offers several climbing walls.

Jason Wanlass, the owner of Monster Personal Training & Athletic Conditioning in Meridian, has more than 15 years experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at or

10 Steps to Making 2016 Your Best Year

If you’re like most people, it’s the same scenario every year.  The best intentions of resisting the holiday temptations are now a foggy memory. Often clouded by a month full of countless parties where over indulgence is the norm. But fear not! The New Year is just weeks away.  As the calendar turns our resolve comes rushing back!  It’s the opportunity for redemption that we embrace every year.  However, the drive to make this year different can quickly fade if our goals are too generalized. Instead of falling back into the same rut by spring, take the time now to dig a little deeper and develop a game plan for year long success.  Outlined below are 10 tips to guide you towards looking and feeling your best in 2016…and years beyond!


January rolls around and everybody wants to get into shape. But to have a successful year, saying “I want to lose weight” is not enough.

Goals need to be focused and realistic. A common acronym for goal setting is SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, reward-based and with a timeframe.

“I want to lose 20 pounds by June 1, and then I will get myself that new swimsuit” – this is a great example of a SMART goal.

Not only does it cover each component, but it is realistic as well. Since the recommended range for permanent weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week, a goal of losing 20 pounds in 5 months is honest and very achievable.


French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupry said it best: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

Include five steps with each corresponding goal for the coming year. Steps should relate directly to your goals. Here’s how it looks using our weight-loss example:

SMART Goal: Lose 20 pounds by June 1

First action step: Get a gym membership in January.

Second action step: Do 45 to 60 minutes of cardio on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Third action step: Do strength training on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Fourth action step: Eat 4 to 6 small healthy meals/snacks per day.

Fifth action step: Drink 10 to 12 cups of water every day.


I always tell my clients it’s no coincidence that individuals who have the body we desire also happen to be in phenomenal shape.

Notice how the action steps stated earlier are mostly fitness related. The weight-loss journey can be an emotional rollercoaster; if getting in great shape becomes the primary focus, your body will be forced to conform. So, for every body image goal, include at least one to two fitness-related goals, too.


Giving your workouts a greater purpose, such as training for activities outside of the gym, can help you stay on track. It’s easy to skip a workout if you lack a specific purpose, but if a marathon or an intense ski trip are lurking around the corner, odds are you’ll stay focused on the goal and be consistent with your workouts.


Once you accomplish a goal, establish a new one in its place to stay on the path to success. For example, let’s say you successfully ran a 5k in March. The next step could be running a 10k in June or another 5k with the goal of a faster time. Take time every two to three months to monitor your progress and determine if you need to modify any existing goals or add a new one.


Too many times when changes are made in our diet, we dwell on what we can’t eat. Reverse your mindset and focus on what you can eat – and how you can make that taste great. Examples would include good carbs like whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean meats like fish and poultry. Also, cut out the pop and remember to drink lots of water every day.

For more nutrition information, check out The Harvard School of Public Health Web site: It’s a great resource to help you make the switch to a healthy lifestyle.


There are always going to be bumps in the routine – the flu bug hits, in-laws pop into town, vacations, crazy work week, etc. Exercise doesn’t have to be all or none. You should have an “ideal” weekly structure to follow and a “minimum” exercise plan for weeks that are hectic or when you are just getting started.


This can be great for motivation and consistency. There is an accountability factor that goes with partnership and a tendency to work a little harder when someone is there to push you. It is critical that you pick someone that is a motivator, not an enabler.


The International Health and Fitness organization reports that 75 percent of people who exercise are not getting the results they want, but out of the 25 percent of people who are, 90 percent work with a personal trainer.

Hiring a professional takes the guess work out of what it takes to get the best workout. And working with a personal trainer isn’t limited to the rich and famous. Most training facilities offer a range of options that accommodate personal needs without breaking the budget.


It may sound cliche, but remember you are in this for the long haul. A little of something each day is better than a whole lot of nothing. Vow to make just small, steady changes to your health habits in 2010 and stick to them – think of how great you’ll feel when 2016 rolls around.


Got balance

There are numerous reasons to participate in a fitness program. For some of us it may be to lose a few pounds and have more energy, while others may simply want better overall health. As a result, most of us follow a program that consists of a combination of strength training and cardiovascular conditioning. And justifiably so! There are many physical benefits to both and they should be a major part of every fitness routine. However, one important area that often gets overlooked is balance. Balance enables a person to maintain their center of gravity during movement and in stationary positions. This can be the case during a sporting event or in simple day to day activities. Also, improving balance can help increase joint stability, improve posture, and increase overall strength. And even better, it’s easy to work into your existing routine! But before diving right in, there are three things we need to remember when training for better balance.

First, exercises should challenge your limit of stability. In other words, the distance outside of your base of support without losing control of your center of gravity. Second, is maintaining core engagement and postural control. Postural deviations are often exaggerated if the challenge is too demanding. At any point during the exercise if you cannot maintain good posture, core engagement, or control your base of support, modify to an easier option. Last, remember balance exercises require a slower speed of movement and should be executed with less weight. Besides going a little slower can tax the muscles effectively as well!

Here is a description of basic balance exercises and strength training moves with a balance component.

Single Leg Balance: Stand with tall posture and contract your core muscles. Slowly lift one leg 4-6 inches off of the ground while maintaining balance and posture. Balance for 1 minute and repeat on the opposite leg. For added challenge try it with a ½ foam roller, BOSU, or airex pad.

Lateral Hops: Begin by balancing on your right leg. Stand with tall posture with your right knee and hip slightly flexed. Engage your core muscles and hop sideways towards your left leg. Focus on landing softly and sinking into the landing by flexing your knee and hip. The goal is to hop from side to side without losing balance. Remember to stay within a distance that you can control and pause with each landing for at least 2 seconds. Perform 10 reps each direction.

Reverse Lunge with Balance: Begin by balancing on your right leg with your left leg elevated about 4-6 inches off of the ground. Step back with your left leg and slowly lower your hips towards the floor by flexing at your knees and hips. Maintain tall posture and lower your body until your right thigh is about parallel to the floor. Return to the starting position by extending your right hip and knee and slowly raising the left leg back into the balance position. Repeat for 10-15 reps before switching sides.

Stability Ball Chest Press: Begin by lying on a stability ball while holding a pair of dumbbells. Keep your head, neck, and shoulders in alignment with the rest of your body. With your knees bent at 90 degrees, slowly raise your hips until they are parallel to the floor. Now fully extend your arms above your chest, shoulder width apart, with your palms facing towards your legs. Slowly lower the dumbbells to either side of your body until the the dumbbells are to about chest level with your arms bent at 90 degrees. Return your arms to the starting position and repeat for 10-15 repetitions. If you are uncomfortable balancing on a stability ball, modify the exercise by using a BOSU trainer.

Single Leg Bicep Curl/Shoulder Press Combo: Begin by balancing on your right leg, standing with tall posture and holding a pair of dumbbells. With your palms facing in, perform a bicep curl by flexing at your elbows. Now, slowly raise your arms overhead by extending while maintain balance. Slowly lower your arms back into the starting position by reversing the movement. Repeat for 10 repetitions and switch legs. If more challenge is desired, try performing the exercise on a ½ foam roller, BOSU, or airex pad.

Why wait when you can achieve results now

After more than 15 years in the fitness industry I am still amazed how often people put off starting a workout program until “next year.” Before you consider shutting it down during the holidays consider the following fact: Americans gain an average of 5 – 10 lbs. during the holiday season and never lose the weight! To put it into a larger perspective, over a course of five years, the holiday indulgence alone could result in 25 – 50 lbs. of weight gain!

Now before you chime in with, “But Jason, the holidays are so busy with, work parties, and family engagements, not to mention all of the temptations!” I completely understand and agree that you should be able to indulge, but within reason! Plus, that is an even better reason to start or continue your workout program. Worse case scenario, you gain no weight and create positive momentum going into the New Year. Best case scenario, you actually lose weight, finish the year strong, and become even more motivated come January!

Here are my top five tips for surviving the holiday season and starting the new year now!

Tip 1 Shorten your workouts: Remember that some is always better than none! If you don’t have time to work out for an hour, shorten your workout to 20 – 30 minutes. Exercise doesn’t have to be all or nothing! Doing circuit training with weights or running intervals on the treadmill are fast and effective ways to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time.

Tip 2 Combine Strength & Cardio into One Workout: This goes hand-in-hand with tip #1. Alternating a strength exercise with a cardio exercise is an effective way to get the best of both worlds. Perform 3 sets of the following circuit for 1 minute each with little to no rest between exercises:

1. Pushups 2. Jump rope 3. Cable rows 4. Jumping jacks 5. Body weight lunges 6. Rowing machine

Tip 3 Find a Workout Partner: Using the buddy system works wonders for staying consistent. It creates a sense of accountability by both parties. Plus, there is always the tendency to push a little harder when you have a partner involved. Just make sure you find a partner that is reliable!

Tip 4 Fill up on Healthy Food Before the Party: There will always be guilty pleasures at all times around the holiday season. Filling up on healthy food and water prior to the party will lead to less calorie consumption during social engagements!

Tip 5 Eat to Mild Fullness: We’ve all experienced it. Eating our holiday feast to the point to where we feel like we’re the stuffed turkey sitting on the dining room table. This year try eating smaller portions instead of piling as much food as possible onto your plate. There will always be plenty of leftovers to go back for a couple of hours later! On a scale of ten, shoot for a 5-6 in fullness. Your waistline (and digestive system) will thank you for it!

Get ready for the slopes before the snow hits

For many of us, that winter chill in the air can only mean one thing – ski and snowboard season is right around the corner.

While we eagerly wait for the first snowflake to hit, there is no better time to get ready physically.

Whether you’re a novice or an experienced rider, the first day on the mountain can often be a humbling experience, leaving your body sore and exhausted. In our haste for fresh powder, it’s easy to forget the vigorous demands a day on the slopes brings. Why not make this the year you prepare for it?

While a traditional strength and cardio conditioning program is important for any sport, a solid ski-conditioning program should focus on improving core strength, power, balance and reactive components as well.

In conjunction with your current fitness routine, add these exercises into the mix two to three times a week, and you’ll feel more like master of the mountain this season.

SINGLE LEG BALANCE:  Stand with tall posture and contract your core muscles.  Slowly lift one leg 4-6 inches of the ground while maintaining balance and posture.  Balance for 1 minute and repeat on the opposite leg.  For more challenge, try balancing on a BOSU.

BOSU MOGUL HOPS:   Hold onto a stable object. Stand on top of a BOSU with your feet together, pointing at 11 o’clock with your knees slightly flexed.  Contract your abdominals, hop and rotate your body to 1 o’clock, sinking your hips as you land.  Quickly hop back to 11 o’clock and repeat from the 11 to 1 position for 30-60 seconds.  For more challenge, perform the exercise with no hands without compromising control.

BENCH DIPS:  Position your body perpendicular to a flat bench.  Place your hands just outside your hips.  Lift your hips up and slightly away from the bench, maintaining tall posture.  Keep your heels on the ground and your legs straight.  Staying upright, slowly lower yourself toward the ground until both arms are bent at a 90 degree angle.  Push yourself back to an upright position.  Repeat for 10-15 repetitions.  For an easier option, bend your legs to a 90 degree angle and repeat the same movement.

BOX JUMPS: Stand slightly behind a 12- to 24-inch box or platform. Squat down, and quickly jump on top of the box. Try to land softly, sinking your hips as you land. Step off of the box and repeat for 10 to 15 repetitions. For an added challenge, jump continuously on and off of the box for the same number of repetitions.

SIDE PLANK: Lie on your side. Keep your body in a straight line with your legs stacked on top of one another. Prop your arm underneath your body. Position your opposite hand onto your hip. Contract your abs, and slowly lift your hips toward the ceiling until your body is positioned straight from head to toe. Hold for two to four seconds, and then slowly lower your hips to the floor. Repeat for 10 to 15 repetitions before switching sides. For an easier option, bend your legs at a 90-degree angle while performing the exercise.

ICE SKATERS: Stand and balance on your right leg with your core contracted. Hop sideways to your left side, squatting down and touching the ground across your body with your right arm. Stay low with your chest out, and quickly spring back to your right side repeating the same move, touching down with your left arm. With control, continue this sequence for 20 to 30 repetitions.

V-SIT w/MEDICINE BALL FIGURE 8’s:  Sit upright and recline a few inches while maintaining good posture.  Support your body weight on your sitting bones while keeping your chest out, shoulders back, and abdominals contracted.  Hold a 4-8 lbs. medicine ball in front of you, slowly move the ball in a figure 8 pattern while rotating your torso.  Repeat for 10 repetitions per side.

Jason Wanlass is the owner of Monster Personal Training & Athletic Conditioning in Meridian, has 15 years of experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at or

Water is your secret weapon

We often forget about how important water is to exercise performance and weight loss. We work much harder at finding the right foods and the most effective exercise routine than we do in remembering to drink enough water.

Water plays a crucial role and is involved with practically every function in the human body. It cools the body down during exercise (even when it’s cold outside), carries nutrients to cells, helps digest food, lubricates joints, affects hormone regulation, and is the main component of blood.

Proper water intake is also a key component for weight loss. Fat metabolism simply does not occur at an optimal rate when we are chronically dehydrated. Even new research has shown that increasing water intake can be an effective weight loss tool. Dr. Brenda Davy, a registered dietitian, and colleagues at Virginia Tech found that dieters who drank two cups of water before meals lost an average of five pounds more than dieters who didn’t increase their water intake.

A lack of water also can hinder exercise performance. This is primarily because of a reduction in cardiovascular output, metabolic reactions and an increase in core temperature.

In other words, water can make or break a successful workout. As a general rule, 24 to 32 ounces of water should be consumed two hours before exercise, 4 to 8 ounces every 15 minutes during exercise, and a minimum of 24 ounces after exercise.


Daily intake: Current research from the Institute of Medicine found that the average water loss per day was nine cups for women and 13 cups for men, which also is the minimum daily recommendation for each.

You’ve already likely heard this but still do it: Don’t rely on thirst as an indicator. By the time you’re thirsty your body has already lost 1.5 to 2.0 liters! Try sipping 4 to 8 ounces per hour throughout the day.

 Out of sight, out of mind: It’s easy to forget about drinking water. Try keeping a water bottle at your desk or work station. The more visible it is, the more likely you’ll be consistent with your daily consumption.

Eat your fruits and vegetables: 19 percent of our fluid intake comes from food. Fruits and vegetables are water-dense and are great for getting additional hydration. Plus, they are packed with nutrients, high in fiber, and low in calories, which also can help you lose weight.

Fitness events take focus off weight-loss frustration


What do you think is the No. 1 reason people begin an exercise program? You guessed it—to lose weight.

That is a legitimate goal, but it’s important that your fitness routine addresses more than weight issues. Weight loss can be an emotional roller coaster, and many people aren’t willing to stay on a plan for the long haul.

We need to shift our focus and have a greater purpose to our workouts for long-term success. One of the best approaches is to train for a fitness event. It could be anything from running your first half marathon to taking up cross-country skiing. As long as it’s an activity you find enjoyable and is within the realm of physical fitness, you are on the right track.

Changing to a fitness-first approach makes the process of getting into shape a positive one. The scale can have you jumping for joy one day and crying the next, but the exhilaration of crossing the finish line at Camel’s Back Duathlon or conquering Robie Creek is something that will stay with you forever.

Besides, more often than not, the pounds will come off as a result of your training. So in addition to creating good memories and getting into fabulous shape, you become lean and mean in the process.

Here are three tips to getting started on your fitness quest:

1. YOU ARE ALWAYS READY: Does this sound like you? “I need to get into better shape before I can do that.” Quite the contrary! At any given fitness event, there will be a range of participants with various fitness levels. You don’t have to be an elite athlete to participate.

So set the goal. You will get ready in the training process. Where do you want to take your training after that? Well, as they say, the sky’s the limit.

2. CHOOSE AN EVENT: This may seem obvious, but too often this simple step continually gets put off. Until you make the commitment and actually sign up, it’s only an idea. After you register, you will have an official training deadline. You will be less likely to skip workouts because you’ll want to do your best for the big event.

3. RECRUIT YOUR FRIENDS: Why do it alone when you can have buddies be a part of the process? There is added accountability and a tendency to strive for better results when you have the positive support of your friends. Plus, people create a special bond when they sweat together, and you will just have more fun!

Jason Wanlass, the owner of Monster Personal Training & Athletic Conditioning in Meridian, has more than 15 years’ experience in the fitness industry and is a Fitness Columnist for the Idaho Statesman. Contact him at or

Want to lose weight? Eat breakfast

Most anything we desire in life can be achieved by adapting our behavior to those who have done what we want to do. Whether it’s becoming a top business leader, accumulating wealth, or becoming a better parent, most times, there is a formula to success.

The same is true for weight loss. Almost 70 percent of the American population is overweight and/or obese. It’s no surprise that most want to lose the extra weight.

The question is how to lose it and keep it off.

The National Weight Control Registry studies just that. Founded by Dr. Rena Wing from Brown University and Dr. James O. Hill from the University of Colorado, the registry’s purpose is to identify and investigate the characteristics of people who have succeeded at long-term weight loss. Since 1994, the registry has tracked more than 5,000 people who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for more than a year. The path to successful weight loss has been paved, now we just follow in their footsteps.

Ready to become your own success story? Here are four tips for getting there.


More than 75 percent of the registry’s participants eat breakfast daily. Going for prolonged periods of time without eating can slow your metabolism dramatically. Considering the amount of time during sleep, it is critical that we eat breakfast. Think of it as turning on the light switch for your metabolism.

Research also has shown that breakfast eaters weigh less and suffer from fewer chronic diseases than those who skip (Timlin and Pereira 2007).

Breakfast doesn’t have to be a large meal. Something as simple as a piece of fruit or toast can help kick start your day.


Ninety-eight percent of the registry’s participants modified their intake. Twenty years ago, a fast food burger on average was about 300 calories. Today’s burgers are 590 calories on average, with some exceeding 1,000.

The Journal of the American Medical Association found that Americans consume about 200 more calories daily than they did in the 1970s. This can result in 20 pounds of weight gain per year when combined with little to no activity.


A Nelson study in 2008 found that the average U.S. household watched more than 8 hours of TV per day. Watching TV and eating often go together. The hypnotic glow of the tube makes it difficult to notice the number of calories we consume. On average, most of the registry’s participants watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.


Fitness is key in any successful weight-loss program. That’s why 94 percent of the registry’s participants increased their level of physical activity. It also should be noted that the registry individuals who gained their weight back had stopped exercising.

So turn off the tube, eat a healthy breakfast, eat less and get moving today!

Jason Wanlass, the owner of Monster Personal Training & Athletic Conditioning in Meridian, has more than 15 years experience in the fitness industry and is a Fitness Columnist for the Idaho Statesman. Contact him at or

Feed your need for speed with these athletic drills

Speed and power anyone?

Many of us enjoy watching athletes perform amazing physical feats. Whether it’s Usain Bolt screaming down the track during the Olympic Games or Serena Williams hitting a rocket serve at Wimbledon, we can’t help but marvel at their athleticism.

The fact is, many of us are athletes at heart. And we can use some of the training methods the pros use to improve our overall fitness.

Incorporating athletic drills into a routine helps improve balance and coordination, increases our efficiency at speeding up and slowing down and increases our ability to change directions quickly. All of that is important for improved performance and injury prevention.

So whether you’re wanting to dominate in flag football this fall or just looking to add a variety to your routine, try adding these drills to the mix once or twice a week.

Perform these exercises after an active 15- to 20-minute warm-up.

REACTION BALL: Stand about four to six yards from a solid wall. Throw a reaction ball against the wall and try to catch it as it bounces back. If the ball gets past you, retrieve it as quickly as possible and return to the starting position. Repeat for 10 to 15 reps.

40-YARD SPRINTS: Set up two cones 40 yards apart. Starting at one end, quickly run to the opposite side until you run past the cone. Gradually slow down, walk back to the starting point and repeat for four to six repetitions.

Note: If you have not sprinted in a while, run at 60-80 percent of your maximum speed.

AGILITY LADDER (LATERAL IN INS): Begin with your left side facing the agility ladder. Quickly shuffle down the ladder and back, landing on the balls of your feet, with both feet in each square. Repeat for two to three repetitions, then switch directions.

M-DRILL: You will need five cones for this drill. Begin by setting up four cones in a box formation, with each cone spaced 10 yards apart. Then place the fifth cone in the middle of the square.

To start the drill, begin at the bottom left corner (Cone 1). Quickly run to the cone straight ahead (Cone 2). Now, backpedal to the center cone (Cone 3), turn slightly right and run to the cone in the top right corner (Cone 4). Then backpedal to the final cone in the bottom right corner (Cone 5), then finish by sprinting through Cone 4 straight ahead. Return to Cone 1 and repeat for two to three reps before repeating the sequence in the opposite direction.

Hold a 6- to 12-pound medicine ball chest-level while standing about 3 to 5 feet from a solid wall. Beginning in an athletic stance, powerfully extend through your hips and legs as you throw the ball against the wall. The height of your throw should be about eye level. Drop into a quarter squat position as you catch the ball and repeat without pause for 30 seconds.

Contact Jason Wanlass, owner of Monster Personal Training & Athletic Conditioning in Meridian, at or