Workout Music!

Music affects your mood.  Anyone who’s ever heard music before probably knows all about this.  Music can either relax you or motivate you.  It can make you miss someone, or make you glad they’re gone.

Music can also impact your athletic performance.  And don’t just take my word for it; as intuitive as this may seem, it’s also a scientifically established fact.

I take full advantage of music for my workouts.  What kind of music do I listen to?  I’ve got it divided into 4 categories, based on the intensity I’m going to need, rather than the type of music.

Type A songs: I listen to these when I’m not serious at all. Maybe I’m just in the gym to walk on the treadmill for a while, or I’ll listen to these while I’m walking to the gym for a more intense workout. I might use these during a warm up session.


Bobby Brown – Every Little Step
Jamelia – Super Star
Mariah Carey – We belong together (remix)
Red Jumpsuit Apparatus – False Pretense
Whodini – Friends

Type B songs: These come on during a regular workout session, or during the warm up of a serious workout. I might use these for a regular “3 sets of 10” maintenance routine, or a 10 to 15 minute run at moderate intensity.


Chemical Driver (Mashup)
Armin van Buuren – In and Out of Love
Mark DeNardo – Poulenc (Give this one a listen. No matter what you’re doing, it feels like you suddenly need to hurry!)
Ninja Gaiden 2 – Dark Sword of Chaos
Rambo (NES) Stage Theme

You can start to see now why I’m at a loss when someone asks me “What kind of music do you listen to?” 99.9999% of you have never heard Rambo’s Stage Theme… yet you gotta admit, it’s pretty good for a Type B song!

Type C songs: For when it’s time to get serious. These come on when it’s time to set a new PR on a Crossfit type workout, or when I’m about to put a 45 pound plate on my back and hammer out some 1-armed pushups. Things just got real.


Disturbed – Land of Confusion
Double Dragon – Final Boss
Epic Battle Fantasy IV – Into Combat (extended)
Heat Man Techno Version
Scooter – How Much Is The Fish

Type D songs: ………….

…………. Clouds gather overhead. A swirling vortex of pure unadulterated rage fills from within. Mountains will move, the earth will shake, and men shall tremble. Everything you have been through in life has lead to this moment. For the next 30 minutes, you will fight to earn the body you so desire. Your 6 pack abs will be a testament to the battle that was fought this day.


Bullet for My Valentine – Your Betrayal
Careless Rebel (Mashup)
Eye of the Tiger (Metal Remix)
RWBY Theme – This will Be The Day (Extended)
Avery Watts – A Cut Above

Finding New Stuff: And this is where you come in!

I’ve been looking for stuff on youtube for a while now. Usually putting in “Workout Music” brings up twenty dozen videos or so with plenty of stuff I can sample. The problem is, after a short while, I’ve noticed that most of these vids are the same kind of music over and over again. “Eminem – Lose Yourself” is a pretty awesome song, but everyone and their mom decided to include it in their list, along with 10 other songs. Every playlist is the same.

So I’m hoping for some feedback. What do you guys listen to? I’m mostly interested in C and D type songs, as I’m sure you are too. Leave some suggestions in the comments!

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Warm Ups and Cool Downs

Warming up and cooling down aren’t always necessary, and the amount you need depends on different things. Most trainers either emphasize these way too much, or almost completely ignore them.

Warm ups are generally needed more when the exercise is going to be considerably intense – that is, hard enough that you wont be able to complete a full 15 to 20 repetitions of a given exercise. The more intense the exercise, the more warm ups you will need.

Common sense, right? That’s why I named this site “sense and wellness”!

Anyway, I have to warm up a bit if I’m going to dead lift 300 pounds, which I can only do around 8 times. But I don’t warm up much at all before doing burpees, which I can easily do 30 times right on the spot. The burpees are not intense enough to warrant time warming up, other than rehearsing the movement a few times before jumping into it.

Cool downs are warm ups in reverse. Imagine a car going from 60 to 0 in 2 seconds. The sudden stop would not be pleasant, and would cause unnecessary wear on the car. Going from 60 to 0 in 10 seconds is much more reasonable. Cooling down allows your body to adjust from a point of high intensity to a state of normalcy. And like warm ups, this isn’t needed unless your workout was moderately intense.
For reference:

More warm ups / cool downs needed:

In cold climates
In dry climates
For older athletes
For female athletes
For extremely intense activities (testing your 1 rep max)

Less warm ups / cool downs needed:

In warm climates
In humid climates
For younger athletes
For male athletes
For moderately intense activities (testing your 8 RM)

So an older female power lifter in Norway will need wayyyyyy more emphasis on warming up and cooling down than a young man who does long distance running in Malaysia.


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Fitness Principles

Principle of Individual Differences: Everyone is different. Some people can do a few sets of pushups, and grow like a weed. Others have to hammer out pushups till the sweat is rolling off their face to see the same results.

Some of us were made for running. Others will run a few minutes, then get side stitches, knee pain, and shin splints. That’s because of differences in muscle fiber type, hormonal responses, receptorcites, enzymes, genetics, and another big long list of mumbo jumbo. The point is this: not every person is built the same, or is good at the same thing, so a given exercise program and dietary intake will not work for everyone.

However, everyone can still see results and improve their fitness levels, if they train consistently and progressively!

Principle of Overload: Anyone acquainted with bodybuilding will know this principle, though it applies to everyone, not just bodybuilders.

This principle basically states that to get stronger, whatever you’re doing must go beyond what you’re used to doing. To give an example, if you can run a mile in 10 minutes comfortably, the only way you’ll ever get better is to try finishing that mile in 9 minutes instead of 10.

There’s lots of ways to reach overload. Instead of running the same distance in a shorter time, you could run a longer distance in the same time. Or you could add weight or resistance, and try to finish the same distance in the same time. The method of exercise you choose, and the way you challenge overload, will depend on what your goals are. If your goals are to just get in better shape and be healthy, then it wont matter so much which one you choose. Just go with your favorite!

Programs like West Side Barbell have you hitting overload on bench press in different ways. Sometimes you’re lifting as fast as you can, other times as heavy as you can, but it’s usually the same exercise, since increasing your bench is the goal.

Programs like Crossfit have you reaching overload in a general, overall sense, with the target being “work tolerance”, or how much you can move in a given amount of time. Many of their routines use the “40/40/40 – 30/30/30 – 20/20/20 – 10/10/10” rep scheme, with the aim being to hit overload by finishing each workout in less and less time.

Many other strength building programs have a tricky way of increasing max lifts. Instead of pushing harder each workout to lift more weight, you lift more weight overall per week! These tend to be very effective.

Principle of Use / Disuse: Going back to the previous example of running a mile in 10 minutes: as long as you continue running that distance in that amount of time, you’ll maintain that level of fitness, even if you don’t push to improve anything.

However, if you stop doing those runs, you will eventually stop being able to do them. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. This is why it’s important to remain consistent with exercise.

The good news is that results don’t disappear over night. Unless you’re training for the NBA playoffs, skipping a workout here or there is fine. Just don’t let skipping-a-workout turn into never-going-back-to-working-out.

Principle of Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands (SAID): this one’s a mouthful, so it is sometimes referred to as the Law of SAID (pronounced just like the word, “said”). This is also a rather technical principle, and quite a lot of research has been published on it. What it all boils down to is this: the exercise you do is the exercise you’ll get better at.

A marathon runner may increase her cardiovascular fitness by riding a stationary bike. However, since she’s planning to actually run a marathon, she’d prepare herself better by running on a treadmill than by riding a bike. And since the race will happen outside, she’ll do even better to run outside rather than inside on a treadmill. And since she’ll be running one specific course, she’ll do best of all running that particular course, rather than just run anywhere. The more closely her training matches her event, the better off she’ll be, because her body adapts specifically to the stimulus it receives.

Again, if your goal is to just get in better shape than you were before, then just pick your favorite mode of exercise, and remember to push a little further or a little harder each time if you want to keep getting better.

Principle of Specifity: Simply put, this principle states that anyone new to fitness or exercise needs to start off light, with a general, over-all approach, then gradually get more and more specific if there’s a particular goal in mind.

Lets say you’ve never exercised before, but your goal is to one day be a gymnast. If we have you go out on the floor and start training like a gold medal gymnast immediately, the results… will not be pretty. Almost certainly you’re going to get injured, and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to walk again for several weeks on account of the soreness.

So what we’ll do is start you off with basic leg swings, arm swings, and stretches.

As your strength and mobility improve, we’ll give you hops, jumps, and rolls to practice with.

As your agility improves, we’ll give you basic body weight exercises, and possibly some weight bearing movements to prepare your joints and muscles for serious work. At this point, we’ll also begin leaving the leg and arm swings (beginner stuff) behind.

As your overall strength improves, now we’ll do jumps, jump-twists, jump-kicks, and begin working on specific forms of training.

Finally, we’ll be training specifically for gymnastics, leaving all the general-fitness stuff behind.

Principle of Variability: If you train with the exact same routine, eat the exact same foods, and live the exact same way, over and over for months at a time, you’ll get into something called a “rut”. A rut is basically an overall state of dissatisfaction and boredom. If you have fitness goals in mind, you may have hit a “plateau” – this means you have stopped seeing results from your training. It’s the fitness form of a “rut”.

A smart program plans to change things up a bit. Those familiar with fitness parlance may have heard of “muscle confusion”: the idea that suddenly doing a completely different set of exercises (or the same exercises with different reps, sets, speeds, or some other changes) will keep the fitness gains coming. This is true, so long as the other principles are not violated in the attempt to change things up.

Variability also applies to your diet. Eating only a few cans of tuna and spinach a day is a fantastic way to drop pound after pound of fat. But after a few weeks, if you stick to this diet unwaveringly, you’re going to develop an intense hatred of both tuna and spinach. You can change things up and still keep the same basic nutritional profile. Try lean chicken breasts and broccoli. When that gets old, try salmon and cauliflower. When that gets old, find something else that provides lean protein along with enough vitamins and minerals. Just don’t resort to a steady diet of cheeseburgers and fries. Change things up, but stay on track!

Principle of Nutritional Sufficiency: Above all, the body requires nutrition. See the post titled Nutrition Basics for more information.

A nutritional deficiency in even one of these can lead to very serious health problems, and make fitness gains virtually impossible.

One of the most common complaints in anyone who’s been training at the gym for any length of time is a lack of results. Almost always, without fail, a number of nutritional deficiencies can be found in that person’s diet. The most common fix applied – especially if fat loss is the goal – is the use of a diet pill or some other diet supplement. Diet pills are fine, but increase the body’s metabolism, meaning an even greater nutritional intake is required. Or said another way, diet pills can make any existing nutritional deficiencies even worse. The person ultimately becomes less healthy, and will risk gaining back any weight that was lost.

The good news is, that most vegetables have most – if not all – of the vitamins and minerals listed. Broccoli and spinach, for example, have the entire spectrum of vitamins, from A to Zinc. If your diet consists of a sandwich in the morning, a slice of pizza for lunch, and a plate of Whatever for dinner, you’ll need to fix your diet before you can fix your fitness.

Diet always comes before fitness, never the other way around.

Principle of General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS): This principle is most relevant to those wishing to approach an elite level of training. It may also apply to “weekend warriors”, but to a much lesser extent.

This principle states that the body, as a whole, tends to exhaust over time; fatigue and exhaustion accumulate as fitness builds.

To illustrate, lets consider a typical bodybuilder’s routine.

On Monday, you train your legs.
On Wednesday, you train your chest and shoulders.
On Friday, you train your back, biceps, and abs.

However… you’re training your kidneys, heart, and lungs on Monday, Wednesday, AND Friday! Every day is Central Nervous System day.

The good news is that these “background” systems are built for enduring stress in this manner. The heart is made from a special kind of muscle tissue, which isn’t at all like the muscle in your biceps. A heart muscle can work consistently, day and night, for up to 80 or 90 years at a time (unless you really abuse it) without needing to stop. Your biceps can’t do that.

The bad news is that these systems do get fatigued with repeated bouts of intense training, and it’s this sort of accumulated fatigue that will bring a halt to any results you were seeing. When this happens, it’s time to take a break from the gym for a while: maybe a week or two. During this break period, the body recovers overall, as a whole. All the background systems are restored, and all the muscles recover completely. When this happens, you have “Generally Adapted” – and because it happens across the body in a variety of ways, it’s a “Syndrome” (hence, General Adaptation Syndrome). When you come back to the gym after a break, you’ll notice that you’re much stronger and far more capable than you were when you left!

Another word for this is “Supercompensation” (not to be confused with “overcompensation”). GAS refers to the entire process, while supercompensation refers to the recovery and becoming stronger.

—– —–
And those are some basic principles to keep in mind!  Whether you’re just getting started, or have been training for a while, these will work as a compass to help you stay pointed in the right direction.

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Fitness Basics

Fitness Basics

First, what is fitness?

The definition of “fitness” is “a person’s ability to meet the requirements of everyday life, plus a little extra”. This means an architect will not have the same standard of fitness as a construction worker. A coach will not have the same standard of fitness as his athletes. Now, mind you, each one may still be considered just as fit as the other! That’s because the standards for each is different.

Being fit is necessarily relative – meaning it changes from person to person, and also changes for the same person over a period of time. A simple understanding of fitness has more to do with whether you’re happy with the body you have, or whether you struggle with day-to-day activities.

This might seem like common sense, but here’s something you probably haven’t thought of. Who’s in better shape: a power lifter, or a marathon runner?

power liftermarathon runner

Considering the definition of fitness, what do you think?

One may argue that the athletes are definitely more fit than the coach, because they can run faster, jump higher, and so on. But the problem with disregarding different standards becomes apparent when we compare two different athletes of two different sports. Lifters cannot run, and runners cannot lift. For fitness science to be workable, a spectrum of standards must be observed.

Exercise” is any movement or activity that is strenuous and voluminous enough to cause or maintain adaptive changes. Just moving your arms around in the air could be exercise! Provided it’s something harder than what you’re used to doing. Lifting weights is only one kind of exercise, but there are plenty of others.

Said another way, the primary goal behind exercise is to move in a way that is slightly harder than what you’re used to. This may cause a little burning here and there, but that’s just nature’s way of telling you that it’s working.

So what’s the best way to exercise if you want to get in shape? Yoga? Cycling? Resistance training? Or one of the hundreds of programs that fall somewhere along that line? Scientists have studied how human cells adapt to exercise, and fitness science is an extremely well understood field.

So we have the answers. Just hang in there. I’m getting to it.

To start with, not everyone is planning on becoming the next Rocky Balboa (Level As and Bs), but some exercise is still better than no exercise. Dr Hatfied, PhD, said it best:

It’s GOOD to eat an apple and do 50 push ups a day. Even if you workout only when you feel like it, that’s still better than nothing.

It’s BETTER to have a goal in mind, and train reasonably and consistently to achieve that goal. This means training at least 2 or 3 times a week, with a predetermined idea of what you’ll be doing.

It’s BEST to use all of our current scientific knowledge to help you, while staying truly committed towards achieving a particular goal. “Commitment” here – just like anywhere else – means staying true to your word, long after the mood to do it has left you. Staying committed to something means not cheating on it, whether it’s your workouts, your diet, or your significant other. And in each case, commitment always pays off in the long run.

Because we can’t possibly cover every possible single way a person can move their arm, or swing their leg, and call it “exercise”, we’ll instead cover the basic scientific laws that govern what exercise is.

As in any science, there are principles, or laws, which govern how things work. Exercise science is no different. By understanding exercise principles, you’ll better understand what “counts” as exercise, and what exercise is best for what goals.

In the next few posts, we’ll cover what these principles are.

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Nutrition Basics

First thing’s first. The human body works as an ongoing metabolic process that requires outside materials to maintain itself and function properly. There are over 40 such materials. They got 2 names.


and “Minerals”.

truestoryA severe enough deficiency in any of them can kill you! That was underlined, bolded and italicized, so you know I mean business! But worry not. Longggg before a deficiency actually starts to killing you, you’ll get a big long list of other symptoms, many of which include depression, anxiety, irritability, difficulty falling asleep, difficulty waking up, inability to concentrate (any of these ringing a bell?), low energy, higher blood pressure, frequent hunger, impaired immune function, and that’s just for starters.

So what vitamins and minerals are we talking about? Some of these include (feel free to skip to the next paragraph if this makes your eyes hurt): retinol, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantahenic acid, pyrodoxine acid, folic acid, cobolamin, ascorbic acid, tocopherol, phytonadione, calcium, iron, phosphorus, iodine, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, potassium, choline, ecosapentanoic acid, doccohexanoic acid, and an entire spectrum of other fatty and amino acids.

Or in other words, A THROUGH ZINC!

In addition to this, there are several “vitamin-like substances” which can dramatically impact health, fitness, and performance. Some of these substances include antioxidants, bioflavonoids, and phytochemicals.

Now if you’re still reading, first, congratulations! That was a lot of complicatedness, but you hung in there!

Second, lets talk about just 1 single mineral for a moment: magnesium.

Magnesium, on it’s own, is responsible for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It plays a vita role in heart health, bone health, and immune system function. Basically, every time you yawn, magnesium is somehow involved.

Did you know that a deficiency in just magnesium can result in fatigue, inability to concentrate, difficulty falling to sleep, difficulty waking up, irritability, and depression? Basically, all the stuff your doctor would prescribe an antidepressant for, could be corrected simply by eating salad, which is high in magnesium. And I have actually seen mild to moderate depression vanish with just a few such dietary changes.

And that’s just speaking on behalf of Level A’s and B’s; the folks who just want to stay healthy! Imagine how many plateaus Level C’s and D’s are going to run smack into over and over again, while trying to fix it with protein powder.

How much iron and phosphorus did you get today? Was it enough? How about potassium?

Later on, I’ll cover more on each vitamin and mineral and it’s individual function, along with dosage, deficiency, and toxicity information. I’ll also mention how you can include a sufficient amount of all of them in your diet, without having to buy 57 dozen different things from Whole Foods.

In fact – and I can almost guarantee this – when I show what foods to get, you’ll probably double or triple your nutrition intake, while cutting your grocery bill in half.


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