Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My Interview For A New Personal Training And Fitness Book

An excerpt from my interview for the upcoming book "The Cutting Edge of Fitness."

FULL NAME: Sam Yang 
COMPANY NAME: All Out Effort

Please tell us about your company:

Taking the best from the elite levels of athletics and martial arts, to train the regular public.

Selecting a trainer without personal recommendations is difficult. What should people look out for when choosing their trainer?

Check to see what their reputation is, if there are any testimonials. Also check to see the substance of their approach. Look through all the glamorous pictures and hype and see if there is any concrete approach and principles the trainer is using. Also see if they offer an assessment. Do not choose any trainer who will train you from day one. Make sure they assess you first. If not, it's like trying to get somewhere without a map, and without knowing where your starting point is. If they can get you in shape, I assure you it's purely by accident. For me it is something I offer for free because I benefit from it as well. It's a chance to gauge if we get a long or not. A good trainer won't just train anyone. The trainer has a right to be choosy because they are about to go into a collaboration with you to get you to your goals. Both parties need to feel good about it. Why take your money if you or the trainer aren't sure yet if this is going to work? If not, it may be a sign of desperation or a hunt for sales.

Do your homework and take your time and try multiple trainers out and compare and see who made the most sense and whose approach fit what you were looking for. Also go into each meeting with a precise goal. Make sure the trainer completely understands your goal and even tries to help you flesh it out more. The difference between people who succeed and people who don't is the difference between abstract goals and clearly defined goals.

Another insider tip, see if the trainer says anything about your shoes or recommends a certain shoe to you. I know it sounds odd but the top fitness professionals will likely recommend minimalist shoes. Strength starts from the feet up and in Chinese medicine there is also another saying, "you die from the feet up." There is a lot of truth to that and a lot of good trainers will want you to feel the ground. Imagine trying to lift anything or create any power with padded gloves on your hands? Also how can you ever maintain a neutral spine or maintain posture if your always on a lift (AKA big shoes). If they have no opinion or tell you big bulky shoes are good for you, they know just as much as you do.

Are bodybuilding titles or numerous certification letters after the trainer’s name proof that they are a good choice to help a person lose weight and get healthier?

Body building titles only matter if you are specifically looking to train for a body building competition. If not, it's not important. What is important are certifications. See if it's from a reputable certifying body like NSCA or NASM (or any certification that requires a college degree). See if they have duplicate certifications or have moved on to specific certifications. If they have a personal training certification from 3 different organizations then it is a bit redundant. Specialized certifications such as strength and conditioning, USAW, nutrition, corrective exercise, Russian kettlebell, and many others. Also degrees in physiology or kinesiology are a plus. Make sure you look up what the letters stand for. Some people will list things that are not certifications but are classes they took, or conferences they've been to, or list the name of organization they belong to as if they were letters to a certification. Sometimes people will list designations or degrees they have, look it up to see if it's in the world of fitness. People will list a designation in an unrelated field, but your assumption will be that their degree is related to fitness.

Some will tell you it's not about certifications but experience. There is some truth to that but at the same time would you trust your doctor if they only had 2 years of schooling total, never got their MD but has a lot of experience? If fitness truly is a science, than education does matter. Also a lack of seeking further accreditation is a sign that they are no longer up to date on current trends nor are they really curious or interested in learning more. This is when you get into people making up their own training science. Just because I don't like physics and no longer want to learn about it, doesn't mean I can go make up my own physics system. Experience though is very important in the trainer's ability to coach and motivate.

What is the "fat burning zone" that trainers often refer to?

Fat burning zone means nothing. It's often used because of the misunderstanding of the term. There's a lot of things trainers say that are based on myth, this being one. People think that when you are in this "zone," you burn more fat. This is not true. The fat burning zone relies on extended periods of low intensity exercise. The energy you use will be a form of carbs and fats, measure by calories. Well in the fat burning zone, you burn very little total calories. In the ratio of carbs and fat burned, you may have a high ratio of fat burned at this zone in comparison to high intensity exercise. In higher intensities, you burn more calories, and you also burn more fat. The ratio of fat compared to carbs burned though will be lower than in the fat burning zone. So for example in the fat burning zone, I can burn let's say 1 apple and 1 orange. 50% of the energy I burned was an orange. If I did a higher intensity work out, I would have burned 5 apples and 3 oranges. Which is 38% but I burned 2 more oranges than I did in the fat burning zone. So I burn more fat in higher intensity work outs. Fact. Not only that but you are burning more carbs, which may also later on turn into fat if left unchecked.

Best analogy is hibernation in animals. They live off their fat reserves. Get fat in the summer and sleep in winter. The reason they can survive so long without food is, they burn very little energy during this time because they are sleeping. Epitome of fat burning zone. Would you recommend sleeping as the best form of weight loss though?

Is there a difference between "cardio" and "aerobic"? If there is, what's the difference?

A term often used interchangeably but can sometimes mean 2 different things. Aerobic means you are expending energy in the presence of oxygen. Oxygen being the key factor. Cardio could mean cardiorespiratory, meaning the same thing as aerobic and based on the health of your lungs and your body's ability to send oxygen through its system. But most often they mean cardiovascular, meaning increasing your heart rate and the health of your vascular system.

How can people tell if they're doing enough exercise or exercising intensely enough?

You will see it in the results. If you train with intensity and frequency, then you are doing your job in the gym. You may however not be doing your job with your diet and your sleep. Especially on the weekends.

Why is it that, no matter how much cardio some people do, they still can't lose weight?

Weight loss has 3 factors, hormonal response, caloric burn, and metabolism. Your body's ability to burn calories is directly linked to how much muscle mass you have. If you have very little muscle mass, what are you really using to burn the calories? Just doing cardio would not be the most efficient method. Creating muscle mass first would be the better investment. Muscle burns calories just existing. It's why people who have a higher muscle mass percentage just burn more calories doing nothing. Muscle burns more calories than fat, you would be wise to take the extra time to build it up. It's why often times men have an easier time losing weight, because they have more muscle mass so it's easier to burn the calories. They are also more apt to lift weights than women are.

Hormones also signal your body to use fat as a fuel, and tells your body to speed up it's metabolism. This will be affected by sleep, mood, stress, diet, exercise, and frequency of exercise.

Is there an "ideal" time of day to work out?

It's really based on preference, but morning would be the most optimal time. It is prior to any stress, loss of energy, and a morning work out will keep your metabolism up for the rest of the day.

Is there any true benefit to warming up, cooling down, or stretching before or after exercising? If there is, why are these things important?

The benefits of those things are mainly in injury prevention and to minimize shock to your body. It may also help to get your mind ready for the work out to come. You should never static stretch prior to a work out but only after, instead opt for dynamic stretches or mobility drills. Never make your warm up too intense as well, it may ruin your strength for the actual work out and make your overall work out less productive. Why is injury prevention important? Well it's only important if you are planning to work out for an extended period of your life. If you don't mind hurting yourself by week 2, then go ahead and forget the mobility and stretches.

If you are training with a professional, is your diet still important?

Yes. Always. There is never a time your fuel source is not important.

It seems like there is a constant stream of conflicting nutrition information. How can we simplify our diet and move towards our health and fitness goals?

Start asking yourself, how were we genetically designed to eat? Humans survived and thrived better than every other species not because we are the fittest or strongest, but because we are the most efficient. So are you eating efficiently? For your stomach or blood or immune system or hormone? It's not good enough to eat with moderation or balance, you must be efficient. So what does that mean? I think that's a lifelong journey in discovery. But start with this, before you put anything in your mouth, even if it's a sports bar, ask yourself this, your genetics that took thousands of years to develop, does it know what this sports bar is? Is it even adapted to eat it? How long has that bar been around? How long have humans been around?

How important are the mental aspects in improving health and fitness?

Exercise is part of it, diet is a lot of it, lifestyle a huge part of it. Your mental approach is what brings it all together. Without a good mental game, it will all fall apart. Do you want to be the captain of your destiny or the pawn of fate? So where is your mental game then, is it strong or have you never thought about it?


Sam Yang from an early age has been obsessed with connecting the dots between martial arts and efficiency, health, mindset, business, science, and habits to improve optimal well-being. For more info, join his newsletterYou can also connect to All Out Effort on Facebook and Twitter.

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