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A Closer Look At The Most Effective Cardio Variations

Regardless of whether you are looking to burn fat or build muscle, cardio is likely going to be a component of your workout program. You will often find yourself doing more cardio if fat loss is the goal, but even for those who are looking to build muscle, adding some smart cardio to the mix is most definitely not a bad idea.  This way you will stay in better conditioning levels as you go about the process, allowing you to lift more weight during your weight lifting sessions.

This said, not all cardio is created equally. Certain variations of cardio offer more benefits over others, so understanding which cardio variation most closely matches the goals you have in place will help make sure that you are going to get the results that you’re looking for.

Let’s take a closer peak at the main types of cardio training that you can perform so that you know which is going to be best for you.


The first of the cardio variations is taking a spinning class – or if you prefer, just using a stationary bicycle.

Spinning is a great exercise for burning up calories quickly and for strengthening the quads and hamstrings as well, so if that’s a focus area for you, it’s one to consider.

The drawback to spinning is that it can be quite hard on the knees when done at a more intense level, so if you are currently suffering from pre-existing knee pain, it’s something that you do need to be taking into account.

It may not bother you, but some people will need to shy away from this variety.


The next common form of cardio training that’s performed is running.  Running is a very good calorie burner as well and the nice thing about it is that it can be done anywhere.

While some people enjoy using a treadmill, you can definitely go out into the great outdoors and get your run in.

Sprint training in the form of high intensity interval training is one of the most effective methods to be going about your running cardio training, so something that you will definitely want to be considering.

Uphill Walking

If you dislike running or can’t run due to back pain or any other injury, you may want to consider uphill walking instead.

If you walk at a steep enough incline and a brisk pace, this can be just as intense as a running workout and as effective for overall fat burning results.

Uphill walking is going to be a great way to strengthen the quads, hamstrings, glutes, as well as the calves, so is a full lower body strengthener as well.

It’s not nearly as high in impact, so this is what really makes it appeal to a number of people.

Elliptical Training

The elliptical trainer is one cardio method that is catching on more and more as time goes on. People love the fact that they can burn plenty of calories on this machine since they are using both their upper and lower body, and the fact that they get that full body workout.

The elliptical is also a non-impact exercise, so tends to be a good option for those who do suffer from lower back pain.

Make sure you try out any piece of elliptical cardio equipment if you are going to purchase one for a home gym as they all have a slightly different feel.

You want to make sure you are going to be fully comfortable in any elliptical you use.


Rowing is the next form of cardio training that you should consider. If you are primarily focused on building upper body strength, rowing should you be your go-to cardio method.

While you will still challenge your lower body to some degree if you’re using a rowing cardio machine (versus being in an actual boat), the focus is on the back, biceps, triceps, shoulders, and core.

For anyone who does suffer from a lower body injury, rowing can be a great way to stay active and keep your body weight in check while recovering.


One of the most intense exercises that you can do is skipping. You can easily burn just as many calories skipping as you can with any other cardio variation and again, this one challenges both the upper as well as the lower body.

This one also is going to rely more on your coordination abilities as well, so that can further enhance the fitness progress that you are seeing.

The one thing that you must remember if you are going to skip is you should be sure to do so on somewhat of a padded surface and always wear good supportive running shoes.

This is a very high impact cardio variation so you want to be careful as you do it so that you don’t wind up experiencing knee pain.

Skipping is very cheap as well, being that all you require is a skipping rope, so great for those doing home workout sessions.

Stair Climbing

If you happen to have a long set of stairs nearby or you go to a gym with stepper machines, stepping can be a great way to get your backside in shape quickly as well.

This exercise is going to primarily target the glutes, especially if using a steeper step, so will firm you up quickly.

Don’t think that you won’t be using the rest of the body though – you will, it’s just that the glutes are really called into play.

Stair climbing can be a bit taxing on the knees too however, so just tread lightly if you choose to do this activity.

Boot Camp

Finally, last but not least you have boot camp training. These classes have become very popular over recent years and combine both resistance training with cardio training.

For those looking for a complete workout all in one, this is a great choice to do. You’ll also get that group atmosphere as well, which most people really enjoy and it keeps them motivated to carry on.

So there you have the top points to remember as you get started with your cardio training.

Don’t feel bound to just one form of cardio either – mix it up to add more interest into your workout routine.

Fast Ways To Boost Your Protein Intake With Protein Powder

As you go along your fat loss or muscle building diet plan, one thing that you must make sure you’re doing is getting sufficient protein in. Protein easily comes in as one of the most important nutrients to be taking in on a daily basis, so one that cannot go overlooked.

Yet, many people fall short.

Be it that they just don’t like the taste of protein rich foods or they just don’t have the time to spend in the kitchen grilling up chicken breasts multiple times per day, their needs go unmet and they fail to see the results they should be seeing from their program plan.

If you are serious about success, you need to get serious about meeting these needs and a good quality protein powder can help.

If the thought of chugging back a protein shake makes you a little nauseous however, there are other methods that you can use to incorporate protein powder into your diet in a more enjoyable manner.

Let’s look at a few that you should know.

Stir It Into Oatmeal

The first method to get your protein intake up without having to drink yet another protein shake is to stir it into a bowl of oatmeal.  Oatmeal is a great carb source to start your day with because it’s sugar free and high in fiber.

Plus, you’ll get a higher volume of food when oatmeal is cooked for a lower calorie value, meaning it’s a great way to help keep your calorie intake in check.

But, oatmeal is low in protein content, which is where protein powder comes in.

Stir a scoop of your favorite protein powder into the oatmeal after it’s finished cooking (note you may need to add more water to the oatmeal depending on the protein powder brad), and then let sit for one minute before eating.

You can really jazz up this meal using different food combinations. Try oatmeal, chocolate protein powder, along with some natural peanut butter for a chocolate-peanut butter breakfast treat.

Or, consider using vanilla protein powder, adding a few slices of chopped apple, and topping with some cinnamon and a touch of brown sugar for an apple pie sort of feel.

The options are endless so feel free to get creative.

Prepare A Pancake With It

Another way to serve up your protein powder that’s fast and easy is to prepare a protein pancake with it. You can find a wide number of recipes online for protein pancakes using the powder, so you can get something that meets your dietary requirement needs.

If you’re focused on fast fat loss, you may be looking for an all-protein pancake, in which case you can simply mix together some protein powder along with egg whites and prepare like you would a normal pancake.

This will produce a more crepe-like pancake however, so be aware of the texture difference.

If you aren’t dieting hard, add some oats to the recipe and possibly some cottage cheese as well. This can add more taste and create fluffier pancakes that you will be sure to enjoy.

Make Some Muscle Building Balls

If you are someone who’s focused on building lean muscle mass and needs a higher calorie intake, protein packed muscle building balls work perfectly.

These can easily be formed by combining some protein powder, natural nut butter, along with dry oats and a touch of honey to get everything sticking together nicely.

Form into a ball shape and then roll in some dried coconut flakes or whatever else you prefer.

This will provide a very energy dense, but nutrient dense snack when you’re on the go.

You can use these when seeking fat loss as well, but do be aware that each ball will provide quite a significant number of calories, so you’ll need to adjust for this in your meal plan.

Prepare Protein Infused Coffee

The next method to get more protein into your day through the use of protein powder is to prepare some protein infused coffee. This is done quite simply by preparing half a cup of instant coffee and then mixing together a scoop of vanilla protein powder with half a cup of water or milk.

Once mixed, add into coffee to create your full cup of creamy coffee that will do your body good. This will taste almost like gourmet coffee but half a fraction of the fat, sugar, and calories that you’d get from the local coffee house.

Whip Up Some Protein Pudding

Preparing some protein pudding is the next method to use your protein powder. This one is very simple as well and can easily double as a dessert to finish off any meal perfectly.

Prepare a box of sugar-free, fat free pudding powder with skim milk according to package directions and then stir in a scoop of a protein powder flavor to match.

In some cases you may need a bit more milk in the pudding if the protein powder thickens in up, so adjust as needed.

Protein Powder Smoothies

Finally, if you are normally mixing your protein powder with just water, that is likely why you are not enjoying the flavor. Try livening it up a bit and creating a smoothie.

Mix your protein powder with some low-sugar, low-fat yogurt, frozen berries, a bit of skim milk, a few ice cubes, and some Xanthan gum powder for added thickness.

Together these will create a great tasting shake that’s almost like a milkshake that you will definitely look forward to each and every day.

You can get very creative here with your ingredient selection, creating a wide variety of different shakes that you will enjoy.

So don’t write off protein powder just yet. Even if you don’t like drinking bland shakes, you can still find many different ways to incorporate the protein powder into your diet and see faster success with your program plan.  Remember to look for the most natural form of protein powder that you can find for best benefits.

Bust Through Any Plateau With These Tips

There’s no question about it, one of the most frustrating times for any dieter out there is going to be hitting the plateau.

Things are going along great. You’re seeing good progress, you’re highly motivated, and you are committed to your success.

Then one day, things just stop.

No more progress.

No more motivation.

You may even feel like tossing in the towel entirely.

In this scenario, it’s common to try and figure out what could have gone wrong only to find yourself dumfounded. Things were going so great, so why did they change?

There are a number of reasons why you might find yourself in a plateau and taking the time to understand more clearly why they can occur can help you push past them so that you can carry on and see the results that you were looking for.

Let’s look at a few of the important points that you should know.

You Aren’t Tracking Your Calories

The very first reason why you may not be seeing the rate of fat loss that you’re looking for is simply because you aren’t tracking your calories.

A little bite here… a little bite there…you figure it’s no big deal.

But it is. All these little bites will add up over time and by day’s end, you could have easily taken in a good 200-300 calories more than you had planned on.

Depending upon the plan that you’re using, this could almost wipe out your entire calorie deficit meaning you are now maintaining your weight, rather than losing it.

Mindless eating is one of the biggest culprits of hitting a plateau, so tighten up the reins on yourself if this is the case at hand.

Your Workout Is The Same

The second reason you may find yourself in a plateau is because your workout is the same as it’s always been.

Remember that your body will adapt to any workout plan that you are doing, which is why it’s vital that you are constantly changing things around.

If you don’t, you’re simply going to maintain what you’ve got.

You don’t want to be maintaining however, you want to be improving. This means doing more than you’ve done before.

Doing more reps. More weight. Taking less rest. Adding more sets.

Just do something to create change.

If you can’t remember the last time you changed your workout in some way – it’s definitely time.

Small changes can produce big results, so give it a try next time you’re I the gym.

If you aren’t quite sure how to create the changes to your workout plan that you need to be doing, consider booking a session with a personal trainer. They can show you advanced techniques that will give you an edge up on the fat loss game.

You Haven’t Lowered Your Calorie Intake

The next reason why a weight loss plateau may occur is because the calorie intake that you used to lose weight at is now your true maintenance calorie intake.

Basically, now that you’ve lost 20 pounds or so, your body is burning up fewer calories each and every day, meaning your total calorie requirements are lower.

If you don’t adjust your diet calorie intake downwards to account for this, you won’t be losing any further weight.

It’s important to re-evaluate the calorie intake you’re using after every 20 pound – or even 10 pound – weight loss that you experience.

This will help ensure that you are always staying on the ball with it and using the right intake to produce results.

You Aren’t Weight Lifting

Another big problem that some people run into is that they aren’t weight lifting with their workout program. They focus on cardio, cardio, and more cardio.

For them, cardio burns calories so they think it’s the fastest route to success. Only here again, it’s not.

If you’re doing just cardio training, you’re really missing out on the big picture. Weight lifting is what will help you boost your metabolic rate so that you burn more calories hour per hour during the day.

And what is better? Burning calories for one hour or burning calories for 24 hours?

Clearly the latter and that is what weight lifting will offer you.

In addition to this, weight lifting is also the only form of exercise that is going to completely change the way your body looks, so that’s something else to be thinking about.

With cardio training, you’ll become a smaller version of your current self.

With weight training, you become a brand new you.

If you’re going for the ‘full transformation’ effect, it’s weight lifting that you want to be doing.

It’s Time For A Diet Break

Finally, the last reason why you may be stuck in a plateau and not seeing the results that you were hoping to obtain is because it’s simply time for you to take a diet break.

If you’ve been dieting for what feels like weeks on end using a lower calorie intake and are starting to feel hungry all the time, overly fatigued, and just generally unwell, this is a good sign that your metabolism has started to slow down significantly and your body is fighting any further fat loss.

Clearly, it’s also winning because you are in that plateau.

In this scenario, take a week off the diet and eat a higher calorie intake. When you resume back up again, you should notice that your fat loss moves along much faster than it was before and you feel a whole lot better as well.

So there you have some of the main reasons why weight loss plateaus can occur. It’s important that you evaluate your own program and approach so that you can figure out more closely why this could be happening to you and what you can now do about it.

If you approach it in a sensible manner and take action as needed, you can definitely move forward and bust through, going on to see the results that you were looking for.

Dieting And Dining Out: What You Need To Know

If you’re on an intense diet plan trying to lose weight as quickly as possible, generally speaking, the more control you can have over your food intake, the faster your results will be.

Those who aren’t constantly monitoring what they are putting into their body are not going to see as great of results as those who are, so while this does take some effort, the effort is well worth the payoff.

This means however that dining out can be quite problematic. But, if you’re someone who enjoys taking in a meal with a friend at a restaurant or your significant other wants to treat you to a special dinner, what are you to do?

Fortunately, if you learn how to navigate a restaurant menu and make the smartest choices possible, you can walk away with your diet mostly intact.

While you should try and eat out less while dieting, there isn’t any reason to avoid it entirely.

Let’s have a quick look at some important points to keep in mind as you sit down and choose your meal selection.

Be Careful With Salads

Most people when dining out will opt for a salad because they think this will be the lightest dish and the best to keep their diet in place.

Sadly, they are often mistaken. Many salads in restaurants come with more calories than traditional entrees unless you are very choosing with the ingredients they contain.

The main items that you want to avoid having sprinkled on top of your salad include bacon bits, any sort of cheese, high fat noodles, tortilla chips, candied nuts, higher amounts of dried fruit, croutons, and then off course doused in salad dressing.

Instead, focus on a salad that comes with plenty of fresh vegetables, some fresh fruit, a low fat source of protein, and then order the dressing on the side.

Non-candied nuts and dried fruit are okay in moderation, but do keep in mind the calories in these will add up so you should limit how much you are having.

Watch Your Soups

Next, also be careful with any soups you’re having as well. Broth based vegetable soups tend to be fairly diet-friendly as long as they don’t contain an over-abundance of noodles.

Be leery of any creamy soup however as these will really pack in the saturated fat and calories. Likewise for tomato cream soups. Plain tomato may be alright, but even there you do need to be careful.

Go For Grilled

On the protein front, always try and choose grilled meats whenever possible. Avoid baked as butter is often added and obviously fried should be out of the question.

Try and choose meats that are as natural as possible with no type of cheese filling, breading, or otherwise.

Good options would be grilled chicken, grilled lean beef, as well as grilled fish.  When ordering fish, make sure it is grilled and not baked with cheese or butter as that is how fish is often prepared.

Watch Your Sauces

Another important thing to note about eating out is that it’s going to be critical that you are watching your sauces as well. Far too many restaurants dose their food in high calorie, high fat, high sugar sauces, which can easily add a few hundred calories to the meal total.

Keep your sauces light or request no sauce at all.

Smarter Sides

The next tip for dining out is making sure that you choose your side dish correctly as well. You’ll want to avoid high fat mashed potatoes, rice that comes loaded with butter, pasta in a cheesy or tomato sauce, as well as vegetables doused in butter.

Best choices will be a baked potato wish salsa on top if you do have a higher carb allowance or steamed vegetables without butter.

Request this from your server to keep your calorie count in check. Remember that often times you can swap out a side that’s listed for something else as well if you ask.

Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions because it could easily save you 300-500 calories on your meal.

Don’t Do Dessert

Dessert is going to be a death trap for anyone on a diet plan. It’s best just to avoid desserts entirely in a restaurant because they will easily come in at 800-1200 calories per dessert.

While some people think they are doing right by sharing with a friend, the calorie count is still simply too high for you to be eating.

If you’re craving some dessert, go home and prepare something yourself instead.

At the very least you can control what goes in it and make it as low in calories as possible.

Beware Of Beverages

Beverages are the next place where calories like to hide. You’re best off just going with water while you dine out because you can rest assured it doesn’t have any calories and will better help you stick with your diet plan.

Cocktail drinks, fruit smoothies, fruit juice, or any other fancy drink can easily pack in 200-500 calories, so this is almost like having a second meal in itself.

The Bread Basket

Finally, when you first arrive at the restaurant, ask for the server to remove the bread basket or any other type of appetizer food they may have on the table.

If it’s there, the chances are high you will indulge and this could get your meal off to a very bad start calorie-wise.

With bread especially, once most people start in on it, they have a very hard time stopping, so this could clearly set you back in a major way.

So there you have the most important points to remember about dining in and trying to stick to your fat loss diet plan. If you scour them menu and then request a few substitutions to whatever dish you select, you shouldn’t have all that hard of a time finding a dish that will keep your diet intact while allowing you to enjoy the meal as well.

Diet Breaks 101: What You Must Know For Fat Loss Success

If you’re currently on a strict weight loss plan that’s designed to help you burn up body fat as fast as you possibly can, one thing that you absolutely must know about the process is that diet breaks are critical to success.

For most people though, the mere mention of a ‘diet break’ sends them running in the opposite direction.

Diet break?!? You might be thinking…why on earth would you take a diet break intentionally?

Most people have a hard enough time as it is sticking to a diet in the first place, the thought of taking a self-proposed break just seems silly.

But the catch is that it’s not. A diet break could possibly be the most important thing that you could do to help see ongoing success.

Let’s have a closer look at why this is and what you need to know about doing a diet break successfully.

Why Take A Diet Break?

So why take a diet break? The thing that you must keep in mind here is that when you reduce your total calorie intake, your body is going to think a famine is taking place. The lower you take your overall calorie consumption, the harder the signal the body gets that you are in fact starving.

As such, the body is going to react.  While you may want to fit into those skinny jeans, your body has another mission in mind.

That mission?

Stay alive.

It’s going to do everything in its power once it realizes that you are losing weight and body fat and aren’t getting the energy in that your body needs to sustain life.

It’s going to start fighting you ever step of the way, making it feel next to impossible to stick with the diet that you’re using.

And trust me, when you are in a fight with your body, things are not going to be looking good on your end.

A diet break is essentially going to send the message to your body that the starvation period is over. When this happens, your body will feel safer speeding up the metabolic rate and getting back to feeling normal again.

Until that point though, it’s on high alert and is going to continually prompt you to eat and conserve fuel.

Fat loss will come to a screeching halt and you will find yourself in the dreaded plateau.

Who Needs A Diet Break?

When thinking about who needs a diet break, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, those who are using the most intense diet plans are going to need to do a diet break more frequently than those who aren’t. As mentioned, the lower your calorie intake is when on the fat loss diet, the more likely your body is to think that you are in fact starving it.

Therefore, the more often you need to send the message to it that everything is okay.

Second, those who are already very lean are going to notice that their body is fighting them harder. Basically, if you have 50 pounds of body fat to lose, some time at a lower calorie intake isn’t the end of the world. You have plenty of fat for energy stored up.

But, if you only have 10 pounds of fat to lose, now imagine how the tables are turned. Your body will be that much more worried about dying due to starvation and thus the signals get sent stronger and more often. Thus, diet breaks are required more frequently as well.

Finally, those people who have trouble sticking to a diet plan to start with may want to look at taking a diet break more often as well for the simple psychological relief it will provide them.  For them, having the break can help reset their motivation to continue on, which they otherwise may not have.

What Are The Signs You Should Do A Diet Break?

The important thing as you go about the dieting process is to watch for the signs that indicate it may be time to take a diet break.

Some of the main warning signs include:

  • Insatiable hunger that never seems to end
  • High levels of fatigue – you never want to get off the couch
  • Feeling very cold all the time (indicative of a slow metabolism)
  • Having trouble waking up in the morning (more trouble than normal!)
  • Slow rate of fat loss progress.

All of these indicate that your body isn’t functioning as well as it could be and that action should be taken to get you on a better path.

Doing The Diet Break Properly

So if you find that you are suffering from these side effects, taking action is the next step. What should you be doing?

First, immediately come off the diet. For a period of about 3-7 days, eat at a maintenance calorie level, which for most people is around 14 to 15 calories per pound of body weight.

Make sure with this intake that you are also getting in at least 100 grams of carbs per day, preferably more. Carbohydrates have the greatest influence on the metabolic hormones in the body, so you need to get your intake up high enough.

Still focus on healthy foods as you always did, but allow back some of the foods you may have been cutting out due to being on a diet plan.

Carry this out for the indicated time period and when you return back to your normal diet again, you should notice that you not only feel better, but your progress moves along that much faster as well.

Diet breaks should typically be done once every 3-4 weeks on a strict diet plan or if you are very lean, or once every 6-8 weeks if your diet is more moderate or you have lots of fat to lose.

Do not overlook this critical component of dieting however or you will sacrifice the results that you see.