Posts Tagged ‘health’

Love It!

Posted: June 26, 2013 in Fat Loss, Health
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I have clients, friends, family and passersby coming to me everyday in a frantic search for truth and self-discovery. They contemplate whether or not it is even possible to look as stunningly beautiful as Kate or as devishly handsome as Pitt. They want a simple answer: YES or NO!? Well the answer, as formulaic and cliche as it may sound is: It depends.

Everyone’s genetic potential is vastly different. From the Pear to the Apple to the enviously desireable Hourglass, each bodytype is predisposed by genetics, much like eye color and hair type. You cannot do anything about this, but what I like to drill into their self-doubting psyches is that you can always, ALWAYS, look the best you possibly can. And this “best” is always within reach. Some may need to work just a bit harder than others.

What most people do not understand or choose to not see, is that fitness must be looked upon much like a marathon. Pacing oneself and looking at the big picture is important, but also taking one mile or goal at a time is crucial to any wellness plan’s success. Planning for a 30 lb loss within 3-4 months is a worthy goal to aspire to but can quickly become overwhelming when the loss doesn’t come as quickly as Dr. Oz promised it would. But breaking that goal into small increments of a few lbs per week or focusing on moving that belt loop just one hole over can do wonders for overall success.

I personally find the latter aim to be the most effective. Weight loss can be a tricky balancing act between water retention, muscle gain/fat loss, and clothing sizes, so it is best to look at how well your clothes fits to truly gauge your program’s success. If you look better and you have been told many times that you do, yet your weight seems to stay the same, don’t worry, you are doing absolutely fantastic.

What I want every self-doubter and naysayer to know at the end of the day is that  you must learn to love what the gym can do for you, to yearn not dread your next session. I ask that not only you learn to love what results you can reap but also begin appreciating the feel of your tired muscles, to hold dear the idea of feeling stronger each and every time you step into your workout place of choice, to feel a passion for your newfound diet. As sad as it is for me to admit, if you do not learn to love the fit lifestyle, you will always revert back to the start.

So please ask questions, get answers, and feed off this new life and I gaurantee you will never be more satisfied.

Happy Lifting,

Alejandro Lopez CSCS



P.S. E-mail me at with any questions or leave comments at the end of this article.

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When we engage in physical activity, we know and accept that our muscles are contracting, tendons and ligaments are pulling and being pulled upon and our bone structure is the lever system holding it all together. This is news to no one.What may escape our notice are the underlying psychological processes and mechanisms that either hinder or aid in the physical manifestation of our biomechanical movements. We witness, time and again, the fluid, almost flawless movements of our top athletes and imagine a clockwork mechanic that must be running the show behind the scenes. Although it is almost certain that these elite athletes have progressed to an automatic form of psychomotor performance, they still must think, reason, fear, and worry while they engage in their dance.

Most young and underdeveloped athletes operate at a “cognitive” level when engaging in athletic events. This means that each movement is thought about thoroughly, from the next dribble to the ultimate shot or pass. At this stage of psychomotor reactiveness, athletic prowess is hindered severely and performance suffers. Have you ever wondered why things always seem to go wrong when you are constantly thinking about the outcome or process? This situation is no different. When you are thinking about an act, you tend to focus primarily  on the negative–of what can go wrong. This leaves little room for art and finesse.

With time, practice, and patience, one can ascend to the next level of athletic thinking known as “associative.” This stage is characterized by a more automatic appraisal of movement. The bat may move a bit more fluidly through the air, the shot’s arc may be more natural, and the pass to your wide-out may arrive successfully with little thought. But, you still aren’t quite there yet. You still focus too intently on the game’s outcome or you may count your strides too often. Things are coming far more naturally, but you simply cannot get over that ponderous hump. You are  associative, no more and no less.

And our last stage was previously mentioned as “automatic.” You have seen Wade and James flow down the court as if they were born for basketball and basketball alone. They have laser-like focus and their eyes beam to their one particular goal. Nothing else matters and everything else can wait. They are more than likely part of an elite group of individuals transfixed in the automatic phase. Though this is not intended to imply they are robotic; as everyone fears, but they are so in tune with their movements that it seems to come easy. Not perfect, but damn close.

So there you have it. The three major, accepted stages of psychomotor processes and biomechanical movement. Although, trait anxiety is a big determinant of where you begin and where you will go, Practice is the main predictor of where you will be within any given stage and the amount of drive will shove you from one stage to the next. Happy Lifting!

-Alejandro Lopez, CSCS

Weight training in a fitness center

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The following plan is one I concocted for a friend of mine who recently underwent a shoulder cartilage injury (Torn labrum). This is just a sample of what I am capable of now. (Haha, tooting my own horn, I know). But this plan also suits any individual, particularly older individuals and athletes, whose shoulers are of particular concern and desires a full body plan sans heavy shoulder work (As the shoulder joint-ball and socket- possesses such a high range of motion that injury is more likely compared to other joint types such as the knee or wrist). Here it is and any commentary is surely welcome. Thanks for reading!

Sample Plan

Alejandro Lopez, CSCS

1. Needs Analysis:

  • No Sport/General Fitness
  • Recovery from torn labrum (heavy shoulder movement counter indicated until further notice)
  • Rebound after deconditioning

2. Exercise Selection

  • Chest –Cable fly, Light dumbbell fly, Pec Dec, Decline Dumbbell Press & Floor Press (If indicated).

*Stay away from barbell exercises as range of motion is limited and may cause further injury.

*Focus on full range of motion and slow-controlled movement

*Never jerk weight up quickly nor drop weight down quickly

*Do not extend arm behind body, in other words stop weight a few inches above chest

  • Back– Light dumbbell single arm row, Machine cable row (wide grip and narrow grip to hit rhomboid, lats, and entire shoulder girdle), Medium grip lat pulldown (cable)
  • Legs– If squats are off limits for you (which I recommend until you heal and recover strength) focus on these exercises: Leg Press, Hack Squat (the machine where you stand diagonally and you squat to push pads on your shoulders up), Alternating Leg Lunge, and isolation exercises like leg curl for hamstrings and leg extension for quads.

*This is where you should go hard since nothing is off-limits as far as injury is concerned

  • ShouldersDo not perform isolation of shoulders
  • ArmsDo not perform any arm exercises over the head. Focus on alternating
    • Dumbbell curls through full range of motion (ROM) and isolation curls for biceps
    • Tricep pressdown [reverse (supinated, palms facing up) and normal grip (pronated-palms facing down) and Lying tricep dumbbell extension for triceps

3. Exercise Order

  • Always perform big, compound movements before isolation, but remember to keep your shoulder in mind, if big compound movements are causing pain, stop and move on to isolation.
  • Perform bigger muscle group exercises like legs before smaller muscle groups like chest or back.
  • Example: When performing chest exercises, Perform Dumbbell Decline or Floor Presses before Fly exercises
    • The compound workouts elicit greater release of hormones: testosterone, IGF-1, Growth Hormone, etc.

      4. Rep/Load Scheme

  • Typically, perform 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps for each exercise. I would usually recommend going lower reps for higher poundage like 6-12 reps at 67-85% your 1 Rep Max) but you need to rebound from your injury and improve you muscular endurance since you have been out of the game for a while lol.
  1. Frequency
  • I recommend engaging in a full body workout three times per week for the following reasons:

    i.      You should not overload a muscle group too much after a period of detraining and injury, so working it slightly three times a week allows for muscle gain at a slow, steady, sore-free pace.                                                     

  ii.      The more muscle groups you stress at a given workout, the more hormones will be released to promote hypertrophy (muscle gain) and strength gains.

  1. Rest Periods
  • The less you rest between sets the more Growth Hormone is released and the greater calories burned; therefore, until further notice, I recommend utilizing a 30 sec-1 min. rest in between every set and 2-3 min rest between each workout.

   7.  Sample Workout

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Legs:  Leg Press3 sets of 15 repsRest 2 min b/w sets Rest or HIIT cardio 1-2 min high intensity spinning or running and 1-2 min of rest and continue-cycle for 15-20 min  Legs: Hack Squat3 sets of 12 repsRest 2 min b/w sets Rest or HIIT cardio 1-2 min high intensity spinning or running and 1-2 min of rest and continue-cycle for 15-20 min  Legs: Alternating Leg Lunge3 sets of 20 repsRest 1 min b/w sets Rest or HIIT cardio 1-2 min high intensity spinning or running and 1-2 min or rest and continue-cycle for 15-20 min  Full Rest,NoWorkOut
Back: One arm dumbbell row4 sets of 12 repsRest 1 min b/w sets   Back:Lat pulldown superset with cable row3 sets of 10 repsRest 2 min b/w sets   Back: One arm dumbbell row2 sets of 20 repsRest 1 min b/w reps    
Chest: Floor Press4 sets of 12 repsRest 1 min between sets(regular dumbbell chest press but on floor not bench)   Chest: Cable Fly superset with Cable Press3 sets of 10 repsRest 2 min b/w sets   Chest : Light Dumbbell Fly on incline bench2 sets of 20 repsRest 1 min b/w sets    
Biceps: Alternating Bicep curl3 sets of 12 repsRest 30 sec b/w sets   Biceps:Concentration Curl2 sets of 20 repsRest 30 sec b/w reps    Biceps: close grip cable curl3 sets of 10 repsRest 30 sec b/w sets    
Triceps: Tricep Pressdown3 sets of 12 repsRest 30 sec b/w sets   Triceps: Reverse- grip Tricep Pressdown2 sets of 20 repsRest 30 sec b/w reps   Triceps: Touching dumbbell floor press(floor press but make dumbbells touch whole time)3 sets of ten repsRest 30 sec b/w reps    

Hey guys, check out this link and your stomach will be very glad you did! There are new studies that lay grounds for more progressive thought on nutrient timing and this one blow them all out of the water. But remember, do your research and never take anything at face value. Enjoy!

The New and the Old

Posted: September 5, 2012 in Health
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The fitness world is ever-changing. Theories are born, die, and are reborn into another skin. What was cutting edge dogma a year ago may be old news today. What was once a  detriment to health is now a beacon of long life and fitness. The reason I am writing this is to bring up a point I wished I had learned a long whole ago.

The point is this. What you are informed of today be it by a fledgling personal trainer or a seasoned, fitness veteran may be completely false but upheld by longstanding beliefs that are just as misleading and incorrect. I mention this never to discourage but to inform and there is a lesson.

My lesson to you should you choose to listen is to question everything that you are told, do in depth research into the science and rationale behind the many theories, and if the theory stands up to your rigorous tests; test it thoroughly on yourself. Try different approaches and always, always seek to improve. Because in the end, the hope to improve and better ourselves is one of the few things we will always hold on to. This rings true not only for  health and fitness but also in everything that we do.

So kick your training and diet in gear and always seek to try new things. because when you find your niche, your OWN method of being and doing; you will look and feel better than you have ever felt or imagined in your life. God speed!

Go Uni! Training unilaterally (using one arm or one leg for an exercise as opposed to both) is a fantastic abdominal stimulator, as your body must maintain fixed to counter-balance the weight, a great change-up in your routine, and vital way to make sure that both halves of your body are symmetrical. So try doing dumbbell curls, tricep extensions, and chest flys with one arm instead of two and reap the benefits.

P.S. Also try doing squats and lunges with one leg instead of two for a great, new workout. But start off with the bodyweight versions of the two to gauge balance and single-limb strength.  Happy Lifting!


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Ya Snooze, Ya win! Sleep is your best friend for any occasion, be it fat loss, muscle-gain, or sports training, So get your rest in every night, at least 7 hours, and, if you can, separate resistance training sessions by a day. Also, if you have been on a steady exercise plan for over two months it may be time to take a week off and let those hard-working muscles take a breather. You will likely come back harder and stronger and your muscles will be glad you did.

Change is good! Vary your fitness and diet routine regularly. Nothing is worse for progress than stagnation so always improve and never stall. Increase weight, change repetition and set range, try HIIT cardio (look it up!), and vary your dieting patterns (carb, protein, and fat intake and timing). See what works best and do it!

Get Fishy with it! Try hard to consume your fish oil every day for overall health, fitness, and even weight loss! Make sure that the soft-gels you purchase contain a hefty amount of EPA/DHA as these are the omega-3 fatty acids that produce the benefit.

Cheating is Good.

Posted: August 22, 2012 in Fat Loss, Muscle-building
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With all the fitness talk circling the internet, television, books, magazines, and even this blog (go figure), I desired nothing more today than to sit back and talk about cheating. Cheating is a big part of my life now and helps me reach my goals better and faster than ever before. Cheating is truly a blissful, stress-reliever and should be implemented by everyone.

I am very pleased to present you with Cheat Meal! A round of applause, please, for the illustrious, always-pleasing, spectacularly delectable cheat meal! I apologize for the immeasurable, titanic build-up, but my passion for the cheat meal is beyond measure. I will touch on the reasoning behind the use of the cheat meal briefly, but will focus primarily on what I tend to eat, how much I eat of it, and how I betray my goals sometimes. This one is about me.

The Cheat Meal tends to break up the monotony of any diet allowing the mind to rest so as to get right back on track the next day. It also has the power of ramping up your metabolism back to normal levels, before near starvation was the norm. So, in essence, the cheat meal should be part of anyone’s long-term diet. You need to eat the comfort foods that you love at least weekly so that you maintain a fixed eye on your goals rather than a frozen gaze on that pizza slice.

Well, I am a fallible, flaw-filled human just like the next guy and I tend to overstep the “cheat meal” methodology and fall right into the precipitous pit of the “CHEAT DAY!” But I recognize the guilt, embrace it, and work to have the best, loyal day the next. So it works out. I lose weight at a very reasonable 1-2 lbs per week and maintain just about all of the muscle I worked so hard for. So above all, the purpose of the article is to show you that there is plenty of hope at the bottom of Pandora’s Fried Chicken Bites Box, and you should never despair. Eat what you want for a meal or two and plop right back into your diet plan like it never happened! But I digress…On to the Feast!

This past weekend was a particularly bad one. I loaded up on cake pops, destroyed half a tray of cuban-style “pastelitos,” and then proceeded to indulge in a four course meal of Thai/Japanese delicacy. All of this accomplished before 2 p.m. I was on the fast track to illness but I refrained from the seemingly obligatory barf-session and waited for the next phase of culinary savagery.

I had a wedding retreat scheduled for that night and the edible goodies contained were not lossed upon me. I was ready for another round and the best part was the all-you-can eat price tag(Sad huh, I have a wedding retreat scheduled with my beautiful fiancée and all I can think about is food).  So without further ado, I was presented with an unlimited supply of fried-potato chips, plump turkey and provolone wraps, and chewy, chocolate chip cookies. Not the greatest assortment of foods, but definitely enough to whet my appetite.

So in the end, I consumed somewhere close to 50,000 Calories but I did it with a smile on my face. The next day, this past Saturday, I ate even more but again I did not stress or fret. I faced the next couple of days with a game face and a satisfied stomach, I ate very well (mostly protein, very little carbs, and moderate fats—Carb Cycling!) and am well on my way to completed another two just like this. Until my next feeding frenzy, it will be pretty much chicken breast and fish for me. Until then, I will dream of the cheating to come.