PJ's Fitness Blog

A blog about a fitter you. Come find out what is on the cutting edge of fitness science and be a part of the ongoing conversation.
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My newer, betterer, fantasticer blog

pjfit.com will stay here as my virtual “pamphlet” on the web, but I’m now using beegeandpeege.com for my new activity because through combining the marketing talents of Beege (aka Bev), and the content creation of Peege (me), we will be able to help way more people together than I can alone on this blog.

If you are a subscriber to this blog, just go to beegeandpeege.com and subscribe there to get even betterer and fantasticer content than you ever did here, like new recipes, blog and vlog posts, and more!

See you there!

And here’s a sample of something I just posted over there:

Get a Might-O-Metabolism!

Do these three things to crank up your metabolism and become a ferocious fat burner!

Schooled by Firefighters

I got schooled big time at the 2016 Big Climb.

I was allowed to participate this year in the LLS firefighter stair climb up the tallest building in Seattle. I’m not a firefighter, but the LLS staff is like family, so they let me in. I didn’t have a chip either, so it was basically just for fun.

Yes, I think stuff like this is fun.

Here I am, pictured right, lined up before the race, trying to keep cool, onnaccounta that gear is freakin’ hot just standing there in it, let alone climbing up a skyscraper. Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 4.36.10 PM

So I says to myself, I says, “How much harder can an extra 60 lbs. be and how hot can it get anyway?”

Well, my legs certainly protested loudly about all that extra weight, starting at about floor 9. But the worst part was the heat. It felt like hot yoga, starting around floor 20. That’s about when I started to fall off pace too. I picked 70 steps per minute (double-stepping) and that seemed pretty doable until the hot yoga part started. Then I just endeavored to keep double-stepping and quit listening to the metronome. I probably should have single stepped, at least for some of it, but I wanted to see if I could do the whole way up with double steps. I made it, but I’m sure it cost me time.

Floor 40 is the bottle change floor because that’s about the time most people run out of air and need to swap out for a fresh bottle. My low air alarm had just started, so the staff scooted me out for a bottle change. I wasn’t technically on a team though, so after walking around for almost two minutes, we gave up trying to find someone to help and I just went back into the stairwell. That added a bunch of time, but “meh – NBD” because I wasn’t being officially timed anyway.

Besides, that helped me set a bar so low I can roll over it, in case I ever do this race again.

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 4.54.11 PMEven with the nice little regrettable rest on floor 40, this event still kicked my butt. Here I am, pictured left, at the top, with my face stuck that way. This was how my face looked all the way up, as I labored to suck air from a tank, inside a claustrophobic, steamed up mask. My mom always told me not to make faces too long, or it will stay that way. She was right, but it thankfully, it wasn’t permanent this time. It only stayed that way for about 14 hours. I’m glad it went back to normal because I wouldn’t want to have to go to work like that tomorrow.

And that’s not hair gel you see in this picture either. That’s some nasty sweat – about 3 lbs. worth, in fact. That’s about as much as I remember sweating in an hour of hot yoga, back when I tried it – once.

Notice also there’s no “thumbs up” going on here like there was in the picture at the start line. I woulda if I coulda, but my thumbs were too tired to lift at this point.

If it weren’t for the nice ladies who were there at the finish line to help peel off my tank, pack, helmet, mask, gloves and jacket, I’d probably still be stuck in those too. I hear there’s a wait list for that job BTW. Apparently, the “undressing the firefighters” positions are the first to fill up.

Here’s the link to my Suunto data if you’re a biometrics nerd like me: http://bit.ly/firestairs

And the official race results are here: http://www.racecenter.com/results/2016/res_ff16.htm

But like I said, I’m not in the official results, onnaccounta I’m not a firefighter, but if I was, my 17:34 would have placed around 244th out of 1793. In other words, I got my butt handed to me by 242 fellas today and two chicks. The fastest female smoked me by more than 2 minutes in fact! I think I might have a new crush…

Is Cardio Really Necessary?

I get asked all the time from doubtful clients whether cardio is necessary. The reason they ask is because the X Gym exercise system is based on two, 21 minute workouts per week, with no mention of cardio.

Short answer: No. Cardio is not necessary.

Unless you are a competitive athlete, you don’t need to do additional cardio workouts beyond the two, 21 minute workouts at the X Gym. Additional cardio is not part of our program because with the way our exercise system is designed, it’s not actually needed. This is, of course, hard for most people to believe, but as soon as they experience one workout, they understand because they can feel it for themselves.

While the X Gym workouts might look like strength training – and they certainly are – these workouts also produce cardio results, due to the high intensity interval nature of the training and what that does for the heart. When people do the X Gym style correctly, they reach complete muscle fatigue (CMF) at the end of each exercise. This causes the heart rate to spike and in most cases, approaches or even reaches maximal heart rate. Since there are 5 to 6 exercises in every session, that’s how many times the heart rate spikes in any given workout.

If you were to graph the heart rate response from and X Gym workout on a piece of paper, you would clearly see those spikes, but you would also see deep valleys in between. The valleys happen because once an exercise is finished, the heart rate starts coming down as the client makes their way to the next exercise (which really only takes 20 seconds or so). Then the heart rate continues to come down during the first few reps of the next exercise because since we are using light weights and controlled repetitions, those first few reps really aren’t that hard. Then as things start to get hard again and the intensity goes up along with the fatigue level, the heart rate goes up accordingly, until CMF is achieved again and the heart rate repeats another spike.

Now, if you want the long answer, read on! It’s still “no – cardio isn’t necessary,” but here’s the Xplanation behind the X Gym philosophy and some of the research to back it up. There’s much more than is listed here in the hyperlinks, but to list them all would be ridiculous because the research proving that traditional cardio is boderline worthless, is simply overwhelming. Anyone who is still a fan of traditional cardio (whether that be for cardio improvement or for fat loss) over HIT or HIIT is simply misinformed and severely outdated. They just haven’t done their research.


Fit Past Forty (or Fifty or Further!)

People often use age as an excuse for why they aren’t as fit as they were in their 20s, but did you know that from a purely physiological standpoint, your metabolism shouldn’t slow down more than 3% per decade after turning 30 years old? This means that when you’re 40, your metabolism should still be 97% of what it was when you were 30. When you’re 70, it should still be 89% of what it was when you were 30.

Why is the decline usually faster than that? The answer is simple: We become more sedentary and/or exercise wrong.

Most people also think that muscle is harder to acquire as we age, but that’s not the case either. Numerous studies have shown that people who keep exercising, lose little to no muscle past the age of 40, even up to the age of 80! Hard to believe, right? Don’t take my word for it. Google it for yourself. It’s astonishing.

People who want to be fit past 40 should however, change some of the ways they are exercising. There are certain things people can get away with in their 20s that aren’t such good ideas past 40, like long-duration cardio for instance, or heavy, ballistic weight training. Instead of long-duration cardio (like running) that is usually high-impact and breaks down joints over time, shorter duration High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a great alternative and also saves a ton of time, which is another important factor for people past 40. Instead of heavy, ballistic weight training, methods like those found at the X Gym are ideal because they are much safer, yet even more effective at building strength and muscle tone than traditional strength training.

Cardio may fight fat in younger years, but it can have the opposite effect as we age, especially as we acquire more and more stress in our lives with more responsibilities and more pressures in our careers. Yes, I said it: Cardio can actually turn into a fattening activity as we age, due to its unique ability to increase cortisol and other hormones, in addition to a high-stress life. IT can even shrink muscle mass and speed aging! The HIIT training I mentioned above and strength training (especially X Gym style) is particularly effective at reducing stress and belly fat, increasing strength, endurance and the metabolism.

Strength training is especially important for people past 40, because they are generally less active as they are more involved in the sedentary workforce than they were when they were younger. People passed 40 also are more prone to accumulating visceral fat (belly fat), which is the most dangerous type of fat. Strength training is particularly effective at keeping visceral fat in check.

Sure, there are certainly hormonal shifts that take place in the body as we age, along with other changes that warrant modifications in the way we exercise and the X Gym workout is already perfectly suited for all those changes. RachelMcLish

You can see Herschel Walker at 53 years old in the picture top left, who is in better shape than 99.9% of the 20 year olds out there. Sure, he’s genetically gifted too, but he also doesn’t touch heavy weights or long duration cardio. And then there’s Rachel McLish, who many people think looks even better over 40 than she did in her “prime” in her 20’s as you can see pictured right. And she doesn’t touch heavy weights or long duration cardio either. It’s not just Rachel either. Heck, if I had a dime for every woman who told me they want “Madonna arms,” who showed off her best guns after she turned 40…

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