Christopher Vlaun’s Training Tips

Why I skip breakfast.

Why I skip breakfast.

Over the years I have gone through various phases and dietary habits to find the ones that best work for me. One habit that I adopted about 5 years ago is skipping breakfast. You may have heard of this concept, but am sure that you have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Opinions are pretty strong and studies are quite divided on this, but form me it works.

So how does it work for me and why?  Is it for my performance? Yes. Is it to stay lean? Yes. Is more convenient for my lifestyle? Yes. Is it because it offers a range of health benefits? Sure does. Does it just work for me? Once again, yes.

With that said I wanted to share with you my top 5 reasons why I don’t eat breakfast. Keep in mind that there are studies

and views that are divided. Some outcomes may be correlated to lifestyle and habits that may not be exactly causation.

1. Being full while training is uncomfortable – Since I’m in the fitness/wellness business my days start pretty early and are often active in the early part of the day. I am often working with clients in a very interactive way demonstrating bodyweight exercises and techniques of our training system Aeroga Movement. This work often entails a great deal of full spectrum movement, twisting and exercises that would feel quite uncomfortable on a full stomach.

2. Fasting BenefitsIt’s a good time for me to take advantage of the benefits of being in a fasted state. Since it has been over 12 hours since the last time I have had a meal, I am generally entering a fasted state. Do I consume anything when I wake up? Yes. I am all about the “Bulletproof Coffee” thank you Dave Asprey. I have always enjoyed coffee although I have always been a little sensitive to caffeine – the added butter and coconut oil tempers the effect of the jitters while giving me laser like focus. More on that later.

A few added benefits of intermittent fasting;

a. It promotes stronger insulin sensitivity and increased hormone secretion, both are good for weight loss. If your skeptic, I’m not the only one telling you this. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/health-benefits-of-intermittent-fasting/

b. Immunity Boost – When you cut food out for 15 or more hours your body is not under attack by the germs and bacteria from the food you eat.

So you are actually giving your immune system a break, as a result your immunity will be boosted thanks to the fast.

c. Digestive Reset – It takes energy for your digestive system to process the food you eat. During this fasted state you are giving your digestive system a rest so energy can be more put to use in activities. When you eat again your digestive system will be able to pick up and start working at full speed again.

d. Cellular repair: The body induces important cellular repair processes, such as removing waste from cells

3. It simplifies my day In the morning there are to many tasks with getting the kids ready for school, preparing for my training/work day. Rather that spending the time preparing a quality breakfast and cleaning up after, I can enjoy my coffee, connect with my kids and quickly mix my green tonic drink that I will sip on for the next few hours during training hours. More on that at a later time.

4. Prepared for survivalWhile fasting is like tapping into my primal being, I feel more prepared for uncertainty whether feast or famine and not really stress myself out on exactly when I am have my next meal. People can often spend quite a bit of energy on wheat and when to eat next. I know I spent some time and energy over the years when really trying to dial in my nutrition to perform better and it didn’t always pay off. In the end I was stressed and unsatisfied.

5. I enjoy working out in a fasted stateWithout a sufficient amount of glucose and glycogen to pull from (since it has been depleted in the fasted state) my body release of the only source of stored energy available – the fat stored in the cells. Great for staying lean!

What happens when you work out in a fasted state? As the glycogen stored in your muscle and liver so your body can burn as fuel when necessary is depleted during sleep and even more while working out or training, also increases insulin sensitivity. This means that what you eat immediately following a workout will be stored most efficiently. Most of the energy stores as glycogen for muscle stores, burned as energy quickly to aid recovery, at the same time a minimal amount is stored as fat.

Bonus Tip: I actually feel more focused and alert on the morning for a couple of hours. Makes sense since intermittent fasting helps brain function

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/fasting-brain-function/ 

Here’s my morning routine:

  •  Get out of bed do a short wakeup movement routine.
  •  Crank up some organic morning brew (coffee) make my Bullet Proof concoction. Sip on that while I prepare my green tonic. Recipe Below:

Ingredients

  • Macro Greens – 1 scoop
  • Fresh sliced ginger – size of my thumb
  • 1 whole fresh squeezed organic lemon
  • 16 oz of artesian spring water

Directions

Peel and slice up a thumb size of ginger root, cut a whole lemon in halves, squeeze into 16oz of water, blend and serve over ice. Sip and enjoy.

My Top Three Bodyweight Exercise Alternatives. [Expanded]

Here is a post for 2013. As I stand strong in following three exercises as my top bodyweight alternatives, I wanted add 2 bonus exercises that should be added to the mix. So enjoy the following, if you are already familiar with the following  jump down to the [expanded] section. Enjoy!

I often hear people say that they have been a bit banged up from lifting weights and are looking for some alternative methods of resistance based training. My suggestion is that bodyweight training may be a great alternative. Some of the benefits include: improved joint health, increased mobility, and enhances neuromuscular adaptation (adapting the the movement patterns). Although a new routine may seem daunting at times, but with a daunting task often leads to great rewards.

Some rewards are mearly just getting more bang for your buck, you can often burn more calories in less time. In a recent study funded by the American Council of Exercise, researchers found bodyweight training can burn up to 16.2 calories per minute in men and 13 calories/minute in women. (That’s almost 1000 calories per hour.)

Another benefit is that you can workout anywhere. Since often no equipment is required for bodyweight exercises you are less dependent on relying on a facility equiped with the latest technology. We are often conditioned to believe that we need to move heavy objects or operate intricate exercise machinery to achieve a desirable physique. And why is this? Well.. it’s profitable. If the mission of many fitness clubs is to profit from the equipment, sales and membership fees then marketing and advertising is not likely geared to educate you on its alternatives.

So.. If someone where to ask me.. “Chris, if you where never to lift a weight or touch another machine again and you could only choose three alternative bodyweight exercises, what would they be?”

Well, here is my answer…

1. Alternative to Bench Press – Push-Up

How to do it: Kneel down on all fours and place your hands slightly beyond shoulder-width apart. Set your feet together and straighten your arms and legs. Your body should form a straight line from ankles to head. Keeping your elbows pulled in toward your sides, lower your chest to an inch above the floor, and press back up. That’s 1 rep.

Keep in mind this is not just a chest exercise. The exercise targets all the muscles in our upper body while building optimal strength in the forearms, shoulders, chest. The push-up is also a great for the ladies too. When done properly, the push-up also puts emphasis on building a strong core by stabilizing all layers of the abdominals and back. There is even some benefits to your hip joint, quads and hammies.

Are push-up exercises to easy..? Not always..

There are many variations of push-ups on of my favorite advanced push-ps is the Brazilian Twisting push-up.
How to do it? Assume a pushup position, but form fists with your hands so your knuckles are flat against the floor. Rotate your hips to the right and cross your right leg in front of your left. Then lower your chest toward the floor as you would for a standard pushup, being careful not to let your hips touch the floor. Push back up and return to the starting position. Repeat with your left leg.

2. Back Exercise Alternative – Recline pulls

How do I do it? First find or place a horizontal bar at a lower level (waist high) then lie with back on ground so bar is lined up with chest.
Next, hold bar with shoulder-width grip and pull your chest to the bar, keeping body straight and heels on ground
Lower with control; repeat.
A great goal would be (10 to 12 reps.)

If you need more of a challenge try mix it up by elevating your feet or adding a plyometric component. Trust me, they’re harder than they look!

3. Single Leg Squats Instead of Weighted Squats.

Ok on paper it looks great if you can squat 300lbs but is it necessary or even effective for balance, deceleration or force transfer?
I will leave that debate for another time. One thing I can tell you that a heavy back squat can pose more of a risk of injury than a single
leg bodyweight squat.

How do I do it? Downward Movement: With your weight balanced on the right foot and the toes of the left foot still on the floor, slowly begin to bend forward at the hips. Keep the abdominals braced. Do not allow the torso to shift or rotate. Keep your back flat and head aligned with your spine.

Upward Movement: Keep your bodyweight in your right side, exhale and slowly push the right foot into the ground to straighten hip and knee and return to start position. The core should be bracing through the entire movement to support the spine; keep the hips level and control balance.

Perform an efective number of repetitions. Change sides and complete another set of repetitions on the other leg.

[Expanded]

note: the next two exercises involve gymnastic rings (still bodyweight exercises)

4. Dips With RTO (Ring Turn Out)

Not your average dip… This is much more challenging. I challenge you to at least 5 slow reps with a proper turnout at the top. The top you will be engaged in a support position. Visualize the lines of your knuckles pointing to the 10 and 2 o’clock at the apex, perform this without bending at the hips or leaning your torso forward. This will require good shoulder extension at the bottom. In the beginning just begin with a RTO hold (basically just hold the top or apex position.

5. Hinge Rows

This is an excellent option to really lighting up your mid traps and external rotator muscles, which are used in many gymnastic exercises. Visualize pulling yourself up to a double biceps pose while holding onto the rings the entire time. It may sound confusing but its actually pretty simple. Here’s how it goes.

1. Set up a pair of rings to hang about a foot above your head when your sitting on the floor.

2. While sitting on the floor, grab the rings. Keeping your heels on the floor, lie on your back with your arms straight and lift your hips off the ground, focus on keeping your body straight from head to heel.

3. Sit up (pike) until your head is in-between the rings and then hit the double bicep pose. You should be bending at your waist and elbows about 90 degrees.

4. Slowly lower yourself back down. Repeat 5 – 15 times.

Overall Benefits:
More unilateral strength, become more efficiently loaded for locomotion. Single limb strength movements tend to require more stability and can activate the deep core muscles to help keep your body stable and balanced. You will use stabilization muscles that are not usually targeted and can remain dormant when training bilateral movements. Unilateral strength exercises can help to build an all around stronger, more stable, and faster body.

A good way to get started with bodyweight exercises without completely abandoning the weights is to take a hybrid approach. For example for your first target set go for the traditional exercise like a dumbbell bench press and then unload the chest with a bodyweight back exercise like the recline pull.

Christopher Vlaun | ©2016

References:
“American Council on Exercise’s Pro Source”
“National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Essentials of Personal Training”; Roger W. Earle and Thomas R. Baechle; 2003
“Exercise Physiology: Human Bioenergetics and Its Applications”; George A. Brooks, et al.; 2004

Want to get ripped: Do Sprintwork

So – after recently welcoming a newborn son, time has become extremely limited. With consideration that I must find a way to still fit in some intense workouts, sprint work has been my 2x a week got-to workout. Now take a second and think about the guys and girls who were the most ripped (i.e. lowest amount of bodyfat relative to the amount of lean body mass carried) In football, running backs, wide receivers and defensive backs. On the track, sprinters who ran events 400m and shorter. I have to admit that have noticed many significant benefits over the last six weeks. Here is a quick list of the most dramatic changes:

Peak Power

Since sprinting over the last six weeks I have noticed some significant gains in my peak power. I can jump further and higher with more frequency, hence increased power endurance. Studies have shown that seven weeks of sprint training (2-3 sessions per/week) enhanced maximal sprint-peak power, lengthened time to exhaustion at maximal sprint-exertion, lowered blood-pressure, and increased incremental VO2 peak during exertion in healthy male subjects.

Stronger AB’s

Think about running 100 meters, you are taking roughly 55 – 65 steps. A world class sprinter would take roughly 44 – 47 steps. Those steps taken at a very aggressive rate in combination with constant tension and maximal power output. Now all that aggression and relaxation is triggered from the core in response to the ground force reaction. Now think about the abdominal activity related to this movement. How do you reveal this abs? The more sprinting you do while decreasing your body fat persentage the more toned your abdominals will appear.

Torch Fat

When thinking about burning fat you need to think about metabolism. First, high-intensity sprint work increases the rate of metabolism  during the activity and well after. Yes, that means you are still burning it up hours after your done. So consider this a great one/two punch. Sprinting burns the fat layer off while simultaneously building up and developing the muscle underneath. EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption): The after burner – Many people believe that doing low-intensity exercise for a long period of time burns of the most amount of fat. Although your body uses about 50 percent of your calories from fat during low-intensity exercise, the number of calories you burn is much lower than that of high-intensity exercise, which uses about 90 percent of its energy from glucose. Some studies have shown, the effects of EPOC from doing sprinting and other high-intensity exercise will help you burn fat after exercising.

Save time

For me at this time, time is everything. Since having a newborn, my time has been mostly occupied by dirty diapers, washing bottles rocking the baby to sleep – if I’m lucky I will find success… So going for a 5 mile run is not an option, but banging out 10 x 110m bursts, sprints, or pick-ups (strides) with 90 seconds rest is doable. Now that can be accomplished in about 20 minutes or less. I don’t know too many people who can tack on a five miler in less than 20 minutes (hence a 4 minute mile). The other thing to think about is the maximal output repeated 10 times. Thats like doing 10 all out sets of abs and more with 90 seconds rest. Yes, thinking of it that way seams like a beast of a workout – because it is! All in 20 minutes or less, you are reaching an aerobic and anaerobic threshold. Basically gettin’ it all in under 20 min.

Example beginners workout

Begin with a dynamic warm-up: Example 2x 30 meters each:

  • Walking quad stretch
  • Walking side lunges
  • Walking high kicks
  • high knees fast pace
  • high knee skips
  • but kickers fast pace

Sprints: 3x 60 meter Build-ups/accelerations. (start at 60%, build up 10% per 10 meters)

Sprints: 3x 60 meter Acceleration/glide (accelerate for the first 30 meters glide/overstride for the second 30 meters)

Sources:

 https://www.acefitness.org,

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4327385/

http://up.nfl.com/workouts

Soul Meets Body

Have to say thanks for the opportunity to work with such a great team Mega Mace and Cyberobics. Here is a sneak preview of one of the newest courses. Photo Credit: Cyberobics

20 Minute Cardio – Power – Strength Interval.

Eliminate Boredom. People tend to start with all intensions to completely go full steam with a new fitness approach only to grow bored with the redundant nature of cardiovascular workouts and have difficulty fitting them into their schedule. Interval training is a great way to accomplish more in less time by combining short bursts of intense activity into your regular workout. By keeping the “slow” intervals at an even higher pace, it turns into high-intensity interval training, and may help you burn more calories in less time.

Here is a suggestion;

20 minute circuit with 4 consecutive exercises for one minute per exercise.

Example:
Begin with a bodyweight exercise like a push-up. Next try an intense power cardio exercise like a jack-squat or an Atomic mountain climber. Next a suspension resistance exercise like a TRX squat-row combo. Lastly a 20 yard shuttle run.

Benefits:
The benefits of interval training are only enhanced by boosting the intensity. You burn more calories because your heart rate climbs higher as you perform your circuit, and alternating intensity from all-out blast to a moderate pace helps the body exceed its anerobic threshold. Alternating power and endurance intervals allows your body to adapt faster to new circumstances, which may increase overall performance. Overall high-intensity interval training helps increase the amount of oxygen your body can process, allowing you to breathe harder and get more oxygen to your muscles without feeling out of breath. All of these benefits help you raise your overall level of performance which will only help you achieve your weight loss goals.

3rd Feature in the Wall Street Journal

I am delighted that the Wall Street Journal reached out again for expert advice on running and training in the sand.

A Run on the Beach Only Looks Easy

Exercising barefoot on sand recruits more muscles and requires more energy than exercising in shoes on solid ground—making for a more demanding workout.

 

See full article >