Posts Tagged ‘Physical exercise’

Hey Ladies,

I’ve asked my good friend Zita to write a guest post on her training program. She’s always been busy moving about and traveling, and despite never staying in one place too long she’s always managed to keep up her fitness. What she’s given you here is an awesome home/outdoor workout regime that doesn’t require a gym, therefore all excuses go out the door. Below you’ll find Zita’s post, so read, learn, perform and prevail jacked!

I’d like to thank Marko inviting me to participate in his new blog. I hope that the information will be appealing, especially to the lady audience. To say the least, I for one am not a gym person. My entire life has revolved around sports/activities of different kinds – be it dance, volleyball, soccer and for a brief period Muay Thai. I love sports and dance because they force you to use your body, engage your mind and before you know it, the “workout” is over and you feel amazing afterwards.

I’ve been living in São Paulo, Brazil for quite some time and contrary to popular belief, people here are NOT all about capoeira, (dance) samba and MMA. I could hardly find guys that actually dance at clubs! I have to admit, Jiu-Jitsu is quite popular, but nowhere near the Gym Scene. The Gym Scene here is HUGE! Some pay between R$200 to R$500 ($100 – $ 250) for monthly gym membership (excluding personal trainers) and are obsessed with musculação (engl. muscle training) especially the women.

In Brazil, personal trainers are a must and so, when I visit the gym (yes, I’ve conformed) I typically see people in fancy gym outfits with their personal trainers going at some workout. What I also see is that these people spend a lot of time socializing with their trainers and others at the gym. Beware; this huge distraction diminishes the effectiveness of your workout because resting time should last a maximum of 60 seconds. Note, I don’t have anything against personal trainers and do believe they help people achieve their fitness goals. But, I do not invest in this because there are workouts you can do on your own, which can be quite challenging, more effective and can save you some money.

The program of the workout I’ll go on to describe below was given to me by one of my friends’ personal trainers and consultants (my friend is a professional (Olympic) athlete). When I asked him how could I burn fat and tone my body at the same time, he told me that the right combination of Aerobic exercises and HIIT Circuit with resistance exercises could do the trick. Below, in Table 1, The Timetable is defined. Alternatively, you can modify it in whichever way you like, consider a maximum of 2 days rest if you want to achieve best results.

Table 1: Program’s Timetable









HIIT + Cardio



HIIT + Cardio



n.b: If you prefer the HIIT + Cardio training to Aerobic, feel free to do it 3 times a week as opposed to 2. Similarly, choose your resting days as you please.

Before I go on, I would like to emphasize the importance of monitoring your heart rate. My friend, the expert, told me that in order to burn fat in cardio exercises, you have to monitor your heart rate and make sure it does not fall below 130 bpm (beats per minute) and does not exceed 155 bpm. Thus you have to make sure your heart is beating within this interval, otherwise you are burning energy and not fat.


In addition, HYDRATING WHILE YOU WORK OUT IS A MUST. I CANNOT EMPHASIZE HOW IMPORTANT THIS IS. When I jog (cardio/aerobic section), I make sure I have a sip of water every 2-4 minutes. By the end of the entire workout, I’ve downed between 1 – 2 liters!

The 2nd Table, below, outlines the HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) combined with Cardio. Notice the heart rate intervals…

Table 2: HIIT + Cardio Training Outline




Heart Rate (bpm)

HIIT + Cardio

10 min.

Jog – Warm up

115 – 130

HIIT Circuit

5 min.

Intense warm up: Some stretching, Jump rope, jumping jacks, etc.

Nice and high!

20 min.

1) Lunges (Light weights, optional) – 20x
2) Push-ups – 20x
3) Squats (Light weights, optional) – 20x
4) Crunches (use aerobic ball for back support) 20x
5) Donkey Kick 20x (10x each leg)

 REST FOR 60 seconds

REPEAT the circuit 5 times, rest for 60 seconds between each section. Do it quickly and effectively. FEEL THE BURN!


20 min.

Light jogging

130 – 155


15 min.

Stretch thoroughly



450 – 550+

As you can see, the HIIT training section is composed of several resistance exercises. Naturally, you can pick the resistance exercises you please. They key is to do these exercises properly and quickly so that your heart rate goes up nice and high. The 60-second rest is a chance for you to recuperate and have a few sips of water J. It is harder than it looks! I made my boyfriend (who has a great fitness level) do these exercises and by the end, there was a lot of huffing. The Cardio section after the HIIT Circuit serves to help your body metabolize all the lactic acid you built. Last but not least, thorough stretching after your workout is paramount. Focus on the areas that feel tight! This is not only good for your muscles, but gives them beautiful shape.

On the other hand, the Aerobic Training is a chance for you to diversify your workout. If you have the opportunity to play sports or participate in activities, DO IT! Table 3 below outlines the Aerobic Training.

Table 3: Aerobic Training Outline




Heart Rate (bpm)


45 min. – 60 min.

Pick any aerobic activity you like and feel free to alternate during the week
Consider sports: Tennis, Volleyball, Soccer, Cycling
Activities: Aerobics class, Zumba, Dance
OR: Jogging/running

130 – 160


15 min. – 20 min.

Stretch thoroughly



350 – 450+

If you don’t have the time for sports or activities, jog outside or indoors on a treadmill (I usually do this).

Bottom line; buy a sport watch to monitor your heart rate (some good brands include, Polar and Suunto), a BPA Free water bottle in order to hydrate. When you work out, try not to talk to others so that your resting time doesn’t exceed 60 seconds, stretch and eat healthy!

And for some motivation, MUSIC helps (alongside picturing your fit body in a bikini in some faraway paradise, like Croatia J)

Happy working out people!


The chest is one of my favourite muscle groups to train and that for good reason, it’s become one of my strongest muscles. Training the chest is like the epitome of training legs for ladies, we love it and we do it all the time. The chest is the muscle that is most overlooked like women because of their mammary glands (breasts), but please stick with me on this! It’s still a muscle in your body and needs to be trained. Focus on the recommended exercises portion of this post to benefit the most of it. Gentlemen, I’m not worried about you!  You’ve probably already got your notebooks open and pen in hand, good, let’s get going!

What we know as the chest is actually called the pectoralis and it is made up of two muscles; the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor( sits beneath the pectoralis major). Both males and females have the major and the minor, however the female chest has the pectoralis major and the minor around the mammary gland (the breasts)

Now to help you target the pecs better, I’ll separate them into two portions; the upper and lower pecs. If you build a strong chest and get your body fat low enough you can actually see this separation when you flex your tits. If you look at the photo above you see the separation. The lower portion of the pec that you can see in the photo is the larger sternal head of the pectoralis, while the upper portion of the pec is the smaller, clavicular head. So what does this mean? Well basically by understanding that the pec has both upper and lower portion, we can isolate each portion with specific exercises. Exciting stuff right? This will bring out those monster pecs.

How do we work out the chest?! To to this we find out what the pectoralis major actually does for us. The answer:  brings your arms towards the middle of your body across the chest. Think of it like this, everytime you hug someone you’re using your pectoralis major to wrap your arms around them. Never thought of it like that, eh? I’ve probably ruined hugs for you now, oh well, moving on..

The pecs are what we call a push muscle. What does that mean?! Well, to work the muscle itself we have to use a pushing movement. Do you know what a pushup is? I assume you do, do you know what muscle it works? If you guessed the chest, you’re right! Thats because when you push yourself off of the ground, you are using the pectoralis major muscle to get off of the ground, thats why its called a pushup.

When training the chest, there are generally two types of lifts that we do, these are presses and flyes. Whats the difference?! The bench press is used to add size to the pecs, while the flyes are used to give shape to the pecs. Think about it like making a pot of clay, doing bench presses is like adding more clay to the pot to make it bigger, while doing flyes brings the actual shape of the pot together. You usually use more weight on the bench press as it is a compound lift (click here to see the Weight Training 101 post) then on the flye because it is an isometric exercise.

So now that we know everything about the pec, all thats left is to provide you with some exercises that will work the entire chest! Here we go!!

To build the overall size of the chest, I recommend to do a variety of these exercises:

  • Barbell/ Dumbell (DB) Bench Press – Hits the whole pec muscle.
  • Incline Barbell/ Dumbell (DB) Bench Press – Hits the upper pecs.
  • Decline Barbell/ Dumbell (DB) Bench Press – Hits the lower pecs.
  • Plyometric Pushups – Involves explosiveness, builds power and adds size.
  • Pushup – Hits the whole pec muscle.
  • Incline Pushup (Arms Elevated) – Hit the lower pecs.
  • Decline Pushup (Feet Elevated) – Hit the upper pecs.
  • Machine Press – Hits the whole pec muscle.
  • Incline Machine Press- Hits the upper pecs.
  • Decline Machine Press- Hits the lower pecs.

To shape and define the chest, I recommend these exercises:

  • Dumbell Flyes – Hit the whole pecs.
  • Incline DB Flyes – Hits the upper pecs.
  • Decline DB Flyes- Hit the lower pecs.
  • Cable Flyes – Hit the whole pecs.
  • Incline Cable Flyes- Hit the upper pecs.
  • Decline Cable Flyes- Hit the lower pecs.
  • Machine Flyes – Hit whole pecs.

By now we should have a better understanding about the pecs and we’ll use the provided exercises to hit them hard and watch them grow. Thats a wrap for this post folk, see you at the gym training jacked!

Having laid down some nutritional foundation on you, I’m going to get into the training portion and this post will be about the basics. I’m talking exercises that have been around for as long as weights have.

When you first step into the gym what are the first few things you will notice? Probably a lot of people on treadmills, some guy growling under a bent bar lowering himself to a seated position and rising, another guy at the bench tearing up 3 plates, and another one hoisting massive weight from the ground. Why do you see people doing these exercises? Because they work.

These lifts are referred to as compound movements, meaning that they use more than one muscle and are usually multi-jointed movements. Our basic 3 compound lifts are the bench press, the deadlift, and the squat. Some other effective compound movements are the military press, pullups/chinups, the bent-row and the clean.

If you’re a beginner get familiar with these exercises because they will be the staples of your workout. I recommend that when planning your workouts, 75-80% of your lifts should be compound movements, the remaining 20 odd percent could be isometric movements.

What are Isometric exercises? Well, they are single-joint movements that isolate a certain muscle with the goal of definition. Examples of isometric movements include lateral raises, tricep extensions, bicep curls, etc. These are not so important for beginners, but for those of you that have been working out for some time, 6+ months, you’ll be more inclined to use these types of movements.

Okay, so back to the basics. I’ll be focusing here on the compound movements because they are so incredibly important for all gymgoers, be it beginners or the experienced gym rat. Like I said earlier, you’re workout will be comprised of mainly compounds, therefore it is important to have a solid understanding of these movements because you WILL be doing them.

The Squat – This movement works the lower body and core. It hits your quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus (your butt), your calves and your core. This is a beast of a lift and you will definitely feel it. To do it properly, line up under the bar and pick it off the rack just behind your traps, take a few steps back, extend your hips back and drop down slowly and controlled. As you sit into the squat, you want to make sure you’re feet are flat on the floor, about shoulder width apart, and that your knees track over your feet. You can go 90 degrees or lower, I prefer to go ATG (Ass to Grass) and dip just below 90. Make sure your weight is on your heels, keep your head faced forward, and use your legs and hips to drive the squat up back into full extension. Many people tend to fold their backs when they go down which is wrong. You want to keep the bar in a straight line from top to bottom, by driving the hips you can do this properly. By clicking here, you’ll be sent to youtube where Mark Rippetoe explains the concept of hip drive in greater detail.


The Bench Press – This lift is a staple for building the muscles in your chest.  It works the pectoralis major muscle in the chest and is a great mass builder. To do it properly, lay flat on a bench and grab the barbell just over shoulder width. As you raise the barbell off of the rack, make sure to keep your wrists straight, control the weight down to the nipple line and explode up. You want to ensure your back stays flat! Many people arch their back once they lift heavy and you can easily slip a disk and mess up your back. Don’t do that, always be sure to use a weight that you can control. The weight isn’t as important as the mind-muscle connection.


The Deadlift – This is your lower backs best friend. One of the most classic lifts in a bodybuilders arsenal, this thing is extremely functional because we pick stuff up off the ground everyday. To do the lift properly, stand over a barbell with your feet just under shoulder width. Make sure your shins are touching the barbel and the barbell sits over the middle of your feet. As you lower down to grab the barbell, ensure that your back is straight and grip the barbell about shoulder width. Keep your feet flat, weight on the heels as you explode up. Keep your head up, look straight ahead throughout the whole lift and lock out at the top. This exercise can really mess you up if you round your back. You can easily slip a disk and mess yourself up as well, so ensure a flat back throughout the lift. The deadlift, like all of the classic compound movements can be targeted to focus different muscles with variations to your stance and grip. We’ll get into that as you progress, for now you’ll get better at this.

The Pullup and Chinup – I love this one and you should all know what it is. A pullup is done with your hands are pointed away from your body gripping over the bar, whereas a chinup is done with your hands are pointed towards your body, gripping under the bar. Different hand placement determines what part of the back is being worked, and yes you can cover virtually your entire back with different variations. Perfect for lifters of any experience, every back workout I do includes some variation of the pullup or chinup and so should yours.

The Bent-Over Row – Another great mass builder for the back, the bent row is my go-to for putting on size and strength. The exact muscles used differ on hand placement, which can be either pronated (as you see in the pic) or supinated (underhand grip). The bent-row works the latissimus dorsi muscle, which makes up the middle back. To perform the bent row, grab the barbell about shoulder width and slightly bend your knees. Lower the barbell to about knee level and keeping your back flat,  contract your back muscles and lift the weight up your quad and into your hips. Lower slowly and repeat. This exercise can be used with heavy weight so make sure that you nail the form before attempting to go heavy. Always control the motion and keep a mind-muscle connection.

The Military Press – The king of all shoulder exercises. This beast works all three heads of the deltoids and can be used to build strength and put on size on the delts. To perform this move correctly, sit on a 90 degree bench and grab a barbell just about shoulder width. Keeping the back as flat as possible on the bench and wrists straight, lower the weight down until your arms are about 90 degrees, pause, and control the weight back up into starting position. You don’t want to go too low because you can mess up your shoulders, which I’ve done and its not very fun at all. Don’t let your ego get the best of you and use weight you can manage, it can be easy to mess up your rotator cuff if you’re reckless.

The Clean – This is one of my favourite olympic lifts. It works muscles in your lower and upper body, as well as your core. It is a great exercise to add strength and improve athleticism. I know personally I’ve used this for hockey and its used religiously by football teams, for good reason, it works. This exercise is a bit more complicated to learn, so take your time with it and master the basics. Essentially you start as you would prepare for a deadlift, feet flat, back straight, head pointing up and forward.  As you explode up, lifting the barbell and shrug the weight up and using the momentum and force created, you drop and receive the barbell in a front squat. I know it seems complicated and it might seem so at first, so click here to get a video demonstration.

So there we are, we’ve reached the end of the basic lifts. These lifts explained above work the entire body and will be used in every workout you do. Be sure to learn them properly and remember to check your ego at the gym door and work with weight you can manage. If you have any questions, you know where to find me! Until next time, stay jacked!