Saturday, February 1, 2020

How to Warm Up Before a Workout — Stretching vs Cardio

by Brian Klepacki, MS, CSCS, FMS2
Warming-up the wrong way before you workout could really screw up the workout. Keep reading to see exactly which warm-up is perfect for you.
I’m Coach Brian, strength coach here and I’m giving you a couple of different types of warm-up styles that you need to do before you work out. A lot of the time people just go right towards the cardio equipment and just spend five minutes of nothing but just going through movements in hopes it will prepare them for movement or the exercise. I’m not bashing cardio by any means. This is just one style of warm-ups that you can do to prepare your body for movement. This is not the best or the most impactful warm-up that you should do. It is efficient to getting the core temperature elevated, getting the heart rate elevated, but is it the best thing to do before you go do some heavy squats? Probably not. I’m going to give you three types of warm-ups that you should do, depending on the workout that you have planned for that day.

Obviously cardio is a nice little warm-up. Anything that you do on the cardio is good to elevate the heart rate, elevate the core temperature and just kind of wake-up your body a little bit. Five minutes, ten minutes tops is all you need. But the warm-up should be a gradual progression towards a higher intensity workout or warm-up, if you will. Once you get close to the five-minute mark you should be huffing and puffing, the body should be ready for movement and you really shouldn’t have to continue your warm-up. Again, cardio is great just for total body awareness and just waking up, but it’s also good if you’re a runner or participate in kind of more dynamic movements, things like athletic sports or athletic movements. It’s a great way to just get the body woken up.
What I personally recommend is dynamic warm-up. Dynamic movement is the second type of warming up. This is kind of more like calisthenics:  body weight movements going through dynamic ranges of motion. A lot of athletes do this to prepare their body for movement, high knees, things like this and butt kickers, jumping jakes, quick knee pulls, quick lunge, stuff like this, leg swings, all the stuff that’s done in an explosive manner.
Now, dynamic warm-ups can also be a little bit more challenging, especially for beginners and if you are a beginner you still can participate in dynamic warm-ups, you just go at a slower intensity. You’re not going to try to kick 100-yark field goal as your first go-around. You might just do some, I call them poop scrapes, like if you step in some dog poop, you’re just trying to scrape the bottom of your foot, stuff like that. Basic arm circles, this is another style of warm-up that you should be doing, depending on the movement that’s ahead in your workout. I still recommend a dynamic versus all the other ones, like your cardio and what we’re going to talk about next, which is more mobility work. The dynamic is proven, scientifically proven, to be one of the most, best and efficient ways to warm-up the body, preparing for movement.
Also read the article : Why Stretching Doesn't Work
So let’s say you’re not an athlete, but you’re a heavy bench presser, a heavy squatter. That’s when you start wanting to go into more mobility type of primal movements. So let’s say you want to get warmed up for the heavy squat or a deadlift or a heavy leg press, stuff like that. Yeah, it’s going to be good to get the heart rate up, the core temperature up on a cardio piece, but what you might want to do is kind of skip over the dynamic movement and go right towards mobility movement, waking up joints and hips and also the tendon apparatus within your muscles, stuff like deep squat pry, like where you’re really trying to open-up certain muscles. Because, when you start slowing things down, you’re not allowing the body to completely exhaust the strength reflex cycle. What that means is that, think of a sprinter… You don’t want a sprinter to be completely flexible and loose because all of that bound-up and stored energy within a muscle, it’s going to lose its potential the more stretched-out a muscle becomes. I’m not trying to stretch out and exhaust my body here. I’m just getting my body into certain positions that’s going to prepare me for the movements.
So if I’m going to squat today, I want to mimic the squat movement through different ranges of motion. These are dynamic movements, but at a much slower pace. These are functional mobility type of movements. Another great stretch is like the world’s greatest stretch (pictured above). Going through complex movements, opening up the body, preparing your body for movement, really opening up known muscles groups that are going to be worked in that particular movement. So let’s say you’re not doing anything on the lower body. You want to do some upper body stretches or upper body warm-up. You can still do spine twists, you can get some resistance bands and do some band work.
So out of these three, I would recommend all three of them. Now what I mean by that is spend a few minutes on the cardio piece, two to three minutes tops, get the heart rate elevated, get over to do some dynamic movement, three to five minutes of that, do some mobility work, three to five minutes of that. If you’re efficient in all three warm-ups, what’s that going to take? Ten minutes? I just did a couple stretches there and my heart rate is already elevated, my breathing is already elevated and I know for a fact that if you do all three warm-up styles, your workout or your game is going to be on fire. I guarantee that.
-Coach Brian
Before you go, make sure to get your FREE report on Why Stretching Won’t Make You Flexible
It’s a little deceiving in the title, but once you read the report you’ll totally understand what we’re talking about. Best of all, it’s free!

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7 Benefits of The Keto Diet

When you hear about the ketogenic diet, the first thing you perhaps think of is what could possibly make it as good as people say. The answer is, there are enough benefits to change your life.
What exactly is a ketogenic diet?
The keto program recommends a diet that is low on carbs, moderate on protein and high in fat. The idea is to fine-tune nutritional intake in order to send the body into the metabolic state known as ketosis.
The body enters a state of ketosis when it no longer has stores of glycogen sugar to fuel its energy needs. With sugar out of the way, the body has no choice but to tap its stores of fat to get by. The liver converts fat reserves into ketones to present to the body as an energy source. This is why the keto program is a good way to lose fat.
7 benefits of the keto diet
Unlike other diets that offer practitioners a weight loss benefit and little else, the keto diet comes with several benefits.
Without a doubt, weight loss is the primary goal of the keto diet. It works because it makes the body look to its fat reserves to power its metabolism. It can be interesting to go deeper into the process, however.
When the body is deprived of carbs, it enters a state of ketosis. Blood sugar and insulin levels fall when that happens. As the body taps the energy in fat cells, they release considerable quantities of water, making for some great weight loss. The fat cells are then able to enter the bloodstream and make their way to the liver, where they are turned into ketones for energy processing. As long as your diet allows you to stay in a caloric deficit, you get to enjoy the weight loss benefits of the keto diet.
It takes the edge off your appetite
When your diet isn't heavy on carbs, you'll find that you don't crave as much food as before. Many people who get on the keto diet are able to fast most of the day, and only eat at mealtimes. They are simply not as hungry as before.
Improved ability to focus
When you choose a regular diet that puts carbs into the body, your brain has to deal with the
rise and fall in sugar levels that happens as a result. Inconsistent energy levels can make it hard for the brain to focus. With the keto diet, however, the energy source is constant and consistent. The brain is better able to stay focused.
You feel more energetic
hen you are on a regular diet, your body is always on the verge of running out of energy. You need to constantly eat and refuel. With a keto diet, however, the body taps its fat reserves, a nearly unending energy source. The body, then, is able to maintain constant energy levels throughout the day. The result is, you end up feeling a lot more energetic.
It helps you fight diabetes
When you suffer from Type II diabetes, your body experiences high levels of insulin. Since the keto diet takes excess sugar from your diet, it helps stabilize HbA1c counts, and reverse
Type II diabetes.
You get improved levels of good cholesterol
HDL cholesterol helps get rid of the body's bad cholesterol reserves. When you're on keto, your body's triglyceride levels fall and your HDL cholesterol levels rise.
You get better blood pressure
When you're on the keto diet, it drops your blood pressure. Many people on the keto diet find that they are able to stop taking blood pressure medicine altogether.
The keto diet can change a person's life. It isn't a difficult diet to get on, either. There are plenty of great recipes for the keto diet. All it takes is the willingness to give it a shot.
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Sunday, January 26, 2020

Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet Get the Body and Brain You Want Now

Keto is everywhere; it's the new buzzword, the new favorite among those looking to shed pounds, and the new hate victim of the food-pyramid-spouting-eat-your-whole grains mainstream medical industry. The keto diet, while it is not the magic cure-all for every single disease on the planet, does a pretty dang good job at being the potential causer of healing many horrible conditions. So let's cut through the science, separate fact from fiction, and look at the benefits of the keto diet.

Benefit #1: Weight Loss
Okay, so this one isn't so astounding, but it is one of the most common reasons people embark on the keto diet. So why is weight loss usually so easy on the ketogenic diet instead of other regular diets? For all of the following reasons:
   The keto diet is composed of approximately 75% fat, 20 % protein, and 5% or less carbohydrates. The high fat content and lack of sugar means diminished cravings, lack of blood sugar swings and binges, and increased satiation. Increased satiation=eating less. Many people also have food sensitivities to grains, even gluten-free ones, so eliminating them may lead to an increased ability to absorb minerals like magnesium and potassium, which in turn means your body is more nourished and you have fewer cravings

   Ketones. When your blood sugar is running low, your body turns to its glycogen stores for energy. Typically glycogen stores house about 2000 calories of "backup" energy for when you run out of glucose. Like the intelligent machine it is, your body depletes the glycogen stores and then turns to your own body fat for fuel.

IMPORTANT: The ketogenic diet is not a free-for-all eat however much cheese or super low-carb fat bomb treats you want diet. If you are eating way more calories than you need, you will not lose weight. So focus on keeping your diet around fatty cuts of grass-fed meat, butter, eggs, avocados, lots of green veggies and cruciferous, and be modest with the keto desserts, dairy, and sweets.

Benefit #2: Brain Function

A poorly functioning brain, as you may have already experienced, leads to lessened work productivity, which in turn means an unhappy boss, lack of job satisfaction, sugar cravings for energy, and depression. It's a horrible domino effect. The original ketogenic diet was formulated by Dr. Russell Wilder in the early 20th century to treat epilepsy. The success rate was phenomenal and it is still used today to treat epilepsy and other brain disorders. Research also indicates that ketones are more efficient brain fuel than glucose. 

Benefit #3: Potential Cancer Benefits
 One study showed implementing the ketogenic diet led to a dramatically increased survival time and slower tumor growth. (Source:

 If you're reading this article now, chances are you are in some sort of pain, whether physical and/or mental (being overweight, struggling with autoimmune disorders, thyroid disease, fatigue, brain fog) and want to change. Use this information, don't just skim through it and store it in the back of your brain and say "that's nice for some people", motivate yourself to change.

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Why Stretching Doesn't Work

Static stretching is what you typically think of when you hear the word "stretching". You stretch a muscle and hold it for a 10-20 second count hoping that once you're done stretching the muscle will now be more "flexible".
However Static Stretching alone is not the answer and provides little benefit when it's not combined with other modalities. The results fade fast and the muscles tighten right back up leaving you frustrated.
This week we've been talking a lot about tight hip flexors and to be perfectly clear, static stretching alone will not fix those tight hips. 
You need to attack the muscles from a variety of angles using a variety of exercise techniques and modalities in order to "unpack and unwind" the muscles in the right way.

Some of these modalities include PNF Stretching, Static Stretching, Dynamic Stretching, 3-Dimensional Core Stability Exercises, Mobility Exercises, Fascia Stretching and Muscle Activation.

My colleague and leading Injury Specialist Rick Kaselj, MS has put them together in a "Sequential Flow" composed of 10 carefully selected exercises.
Doing these movements in the right order unravels all the tissues including muscle, fascia, connective tissue, and the joint capsule while breaking up scar tissue.
Using the right sequence kick starts an increase in blood flow to the area to clean out metabolites and lactic acid and reduces inflammation while nourishing and rejuvenating the hip area.
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2: Release Your Inner Athlete

More strength, faster gains - having looser hips increases speed and strength, which combine to give you power. When you increase power, you increase performance in sports and competition. In sports, all of your power comes from the hips.
3: Get Your Mojo Back in the Bedroom
Remember, the hips are the primary movers in sex and it’s somewhat common sense that we want our hips to be loose and flexible in order to achieve great dynamic sex.
4: Eliminate Back, Hip, Knee & Joint Pain
Think of the hips as a barometer. The health and flexibility of your hip muscles are an indicator of the strength and health of our whole body and directly affect other joints.
5: Reap the Benefits of All Day Energy & Sleep Like a Baby!

One of the most powerful effects of the program is giving you back a good night's sleep. When your body is better aligned, less discomfort means better sleep for your body to rejuvenate so you feel fresher, stronger and full of energy.
6: Look 5-7% Lower in Body Fat
Get your body out of survival mode so that you can burn fat efficiently. Get rid of the bulging belly syndrome and look leaner in minutes by correcting your posture.
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If you sit at work or drive a car a lot your hip flexors are certainly too tight and this program is perfect for you!
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Sunday, January 19, 2020

Diagnosing Leptin Resistance

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I'm going to spend some time discussing the importance of leptin below, but to get started with I want to talk exactly how you diagnose this condition. 
And, it turns out, that diagnosing leptin resistance is actually quite easy. 
(*Note: it's important to realize that there isn't an agreed upon way to diagnose leptin resistance, but it is agreed that if you CAN'T lose weight AND you have high leptin then you have leptin resistance. I have added my own values which I find to be accurate based on treating hundreds of patients below.)
The best way to go about doing this is by ordering what is known as a serum leptin test. 
This general lab test looks at the total leptin hormone concentration in your blood. 
If your fasted serum leptin, when tested, is greater than 10 ng/ml AND you have the symptoms of leptin resistance (listed below) then you have the condition of leptin resistance. 
Below you can see an example of a patient with leptin resistance and a fasted leptin level of 52.1 ng/ml. 

Prior to testing, this patient was experiencing the inability to lose weight, a cold body temperature, hair loss, an increased appetite, and other symptoms of hypothyroidism
It's important to realize, though, that your leptin level will fluctuate on an hour to hour and day to day basis!
To get the MOST value from testing leptin you MUST be in a fasted state. 
I recommend that you test your leptin on a 12 hour fast. 
So if you are getting your labs tested at 7am in the morning then you would want to stop eating at 7pm the night before. 
You can drink water during this time but you should avoid sweeteners, coffee, creams, and any liquids that contain calories or artificial sweeteners. 
Avoiding these is critical because they may send signals to your brain that can alter your serum leptin level and make your lab test less reliable. 
If you just wanted to know how to diagnose leptin resistance then that's all you need to know. 
What is Leptin Resistance
So what is leptin resistance, anyway?
And is leptin a "bad" hormone?
The answer is no, leptin is not a bad hormone. 
In fact, leptin plays an absolutely critical role in regulating your body weight and your metabolism
It impacts your metabolism by interacting directly with thyroid hormone
These two systems play together to help your brain set your appetite, help your brain regulate and set your metabolism, and help your brain communicate with your fat cells. 
Hopefully, this doesn't come as a surprise to you, but there MUST be a way for the fat cells in your belly to communicate with your brain. 
And the way that they do this is through leptin. 
Your fat cells, as they grow larger, actually secrete several hormones. 
One of the hormones that they pump out is leptin and the entire purpose of leptin is to circulate in your body and tell your brain that your fat cells are "full". 

Your brain is then supposed to respond by INCREASING how many calories you burn each day and by REDUCING your appetite. 
The exact thing that you want to happen if you have extra fat on your body, right?
By increasing your metabolism and by reducing your appetite, your brain is attempting to normalize your body weight. 
That's how it is supposed to work, anyway. 
Leptin resistance is defined as a state which interferes with this normal communication between your fat cells and your brain and one which causes persistent weight GAIN and the inability to lose weight. 
But, how do we get from the system that is working perfectly to the system that doesn't work at all, known as leptin resistance?
Imagine a scenario in which your fat cells are constantly growing due to inflammation, poor diet, lack of exercise, stress, lack of sleep, hypothyroidism and so on (sound familiar?). 
This scenario shouldn't be too unfamiliar with many of you reading this. 
As your fat cells grow then continue to produce higher and higher levels of the hormone leptin. 
At some point, this increase in leptin causes your brain to become "numb" or "resistant" to the message. 
So, even though leptin levels are high and you have an abundance of fat cells (adipose tissue) in your body, your brain starts to ignore the message. 

This continual ignoring results in your brain becoming resistant to the hormone leptin. 
At some point, your brain starts to ignore the leptin altogether and begins to think you are in a state of leptin deficiency (or low leptin levels). 
And, the typical response to leptin deficiency is to INCREASE your appetite and LOWER your metabolism in an attempt to help your fat cells grow. 
This dysregulation and the inability for your fat cells to communicate with your brain through the hormone leptin is what causes leptin resistance. 
But, truth be told, this condition doesn't just happen overnight. It takes weeks to months of being obese before you develop this particular problem. 
Signs and Symptoms you are Leptin Resistant
How do you know if you have leptin resistance?
We talked about how to diagnose this condition, but we only touched on your lab tests. 
You can also identify or begin to suspect the presence of leptin resistance by looking at and evaluating your symptoms. 
Your symptoms are particularly important because they may be the first clue that you are starting to experience leptin resistance in your body. 
Because they are so important, I often recommend that you monitor and track your symptoms as you undergo therapies to see if whatever you are doing is working to treat your leptin resistance. 
Symptoms of leptin resistance include:
·         The inability to lose weight even with calorie restriction and extreme exercise (if you are eating fewer than 1,000 calories per day and NOT losing weight then that is an indicator you may have leptin resistance)
·         Extreme cravings for food even if you've recently eaten (6)
·         A slower than normal or damaged metabolism (7) (you are burning fewer calories than normal)
·         Persistent weight gain despite attempts at weight loss
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·         Lower than normal body temperature
·         Lower than normal resting heart rate
·         Presence of other hormone imbalances (including hypothyroidism, estrogen dominance, low progesterone, low testosterone, or high cortisol)
Is a High Leptin Good?
This is something that causes confusion among many people, so let's clear the air a bit. 
Leptin is not a bad hormone. 
The state of leptin deficiency is absolutely a problem, but this problem does not mean that leptin is bad. 
The problem in leptin resistance is the fact that your brain and other tissues become resistant to leptin. 
But leptin still plays a very important role in regulating your weight. 
So, instead of focusing on leptin, you want to focus on how sensitive your brain/body is to the hormone leptin. 
When treating leptin resistance, you want to monitor your leptin level, but what's most important is whether or not you are losing weight. 
If you are losing weight AND your leptin level is high then you are in a good position (probably). 
This indicates that your body is becoming sensitive to the hormone leptin and having an elevated leptin level is good for your body. 
If you are NOT losing weight AND your leptin level is elevated then you are probably in a state of leptin resistance. 
This is a pathological condition which WILL result in the symptoms we mentioned above. 
I typically find that patients with very high serum leptin levels (those greater than 30 or 40) will often need to see their leptin levels dip slightly in order to sensitize their bodies to leptin. 
What this means is that it may be necessary for your leptin level to DROP in order to help you lose weight. 
As serum leptin level drops, less leptin is available to cause problems for brain/tissue receptors which may increase leptin sensitivity. 
But you really only want your leptin level to drop slightly and only enough so that you start losing weight. 
Once you start losing weight you actually want to maintain a high level of leptin to HELP your body burn fat, increase your metabolism, and normalize your appetite. 
Make sense? 
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Severity and Treating Leptin Resistance
Testing your leptin level is very important because the absolute level of leptin in your body in the fasted state can help you determine just how resistant you are. 
Imagine leptin resistance on a spectrum or a continuum. 
On one side you have a very minor, relatively easy to treat leptin resistance which only causes a minor difficulty in weight loss and one which responds to simple lifestyle changes such as dietsupplements, and exercise (8).
People who have minor leptin resistance may only have a fasted serum leptin level in the 14-20 ng/ml range. 
On the other side, you have a very difficult to treat leptin resistance which only responds to therapies which include medications, hormones, supplements, and dietary changes. 
People with moderate to high leptin resistance often have a fasted leptin level greater than 40 ng/ml (sometimes even much higher than this). 
Generally, the higher your leptin level is the more difficult it will be for you to both treat the condition and for you to lose weight. 
It also helps give you information about what kind of therapies you are likely to need to treat your condition. 
One of the biggest problems with leptin resistance is that it is not always appreciated in the conventional medical community. 
Doctors such as your endocrinologist or primary care physician are probably not aware of leptin resistance or how to treat it. As you become more leptin resistant, the therapies that you need start to require medications and hormones which can be difficult to get unless you have a doctor working with you. 
Treatments that fit into this category include GLP-1 agonistsT3 thyroid hormonedietary changes such as those found here, and supplements such as those found here
If you have severe leptin resistance you will most likely also have to look at other hormone imbalances such as low T3 syndrome and hypothyroidism. 
Leptin resistance is actually an easy condition to diagnose and it can be diagnosed with simple blood tests which your doctor can order. 
This test should almost always be covered by insurance and any doctor can order it. 
To get actionable results, make sure that you get tested in the fasted state. 
When you get tested, I also recommend that you check other hormones such as your thyroid system, your cortisol, and your sex hormones. 
The combination of your serum leptin level and your symptoms can help you determine just how resistant you are. 
The more resistant you find yourself, the more aggressive therapies you may need.

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