Friday, May 31, 2013

Video + exercise description - Kneeling Push Ups

Hey guys,

After you've managed to hit the rep target of incline push ups, it's time to move on to the next step of the Convict Conditioning push up progression. Kneeling Push Ups are the easiest type of floor push ups you can perform. Some people call them "women push ups", but, if performed in a 2-1-2 cadence, I disagree. In this slowmotion speed they could work your triceps and chest really hard. Most guys are not used to the long, consist workload that your muscles have to suffer during this exercise performed under the following conditions.

Let's start withe the how-to-perform explanation:


Kneel down on the ground with your feet together. Now place your palms on the floor in front of you with your arms shoulder width apart. At the start position your arms should be (nearly) straight and in line with your chest (like in the video). Now intersect your ankles (like seen in the video or the pic below) and keep your torso, head and hips aligned during the whole exercise. While carrying your weight through your palms and knees bend at the shoulders and elbows until your chest almost touches the floor (2 seconds). Hold the finish position for a count of one and press back to the start position (again 2 seconds). Repeat the movement without a rest. If you can't manage to meet the target instantly, do as much reps as possible until you can do the requested amount.


Target: 3 sets of 30 reps


Just give it a try, if you want to improve your triceps and chest muscles for the summer season!

Cheers,
Andi


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cycle 15 - Results

Hey guys,

The last cycle is done and I've implemented a 30 day push-up challenge into my regular workout routine that replaces the 30 day squat challenge, which I've finished last week. That week my workouts have come to normal again. I did some Convict Conditioning stuff, some other workouts and the first days of the Push-Up Challenge. Here are my results:

Area 1: My Convict Conditioning results


The first 3 days of Cycle 15 were dedicated to CC exercises. The results are average compared to my last CC sessions. Only result that could be mentioned as outstanding is, again, the squat result. After the 30 day squat challenge I've decided to move on to close squats (step 6 of the squat series)...and guess what? I`ve hit the target reps instantly (but I have to use small counterweigths to hold the balance). After my pull up excess in Munich last cycle I also decided to progress to step 3 of the pull up series - jackknife pulls. But the results of that exercise were ordinary (I hope it'll get better over the next few weeks).

Area 2: Not CC related workouts

Beside the CC stuff and the Push-Up Challenge I've done some other workouts during that cycle. I did 5x1 minute plank exercise and my kettlebell circuit (that I'll explain detailed in further postings) on day 5 and 250 squats in a row on day 6. On day 8 of the cycle I visited the gym and did several types of pull ups, some hanging stuff with a towel (to improve forearm strength), handstands, inverted shoulder presses (3sets of 12 reps) and 1 set of 6 reps (each side) single leg Romanian deadlift with a barbell (132 lbs (60 kg)).

Area 3: The 30 Day Push-Up Challenge

Day 1: 40 push-ups
Day 2: 45 push-ups
Day 3: 50 push-ups
Day 4: Rest

That's all for this cycle!

Cheers,
Andi

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Albóndigas Andaluz - A Spanish Meatball Recipe

Hey guys,

Today I provide you with a delicious Spanish meatball recipe from the family of my girlfriend. Albóndigas are served as tapas (appetizer) which are usually eaten as a snack or before a main dish, but they could also be used as a main dish. This meal is high in protein and low in carbs.

Ingredients:



- 18 oz. (approx.500g) ground meat
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 red or orange pepper
- 1 egg
- olive oil
- salt, pepper, marjoram, paprika (to taste)
- italian herbs
- 1-2 cans of chopped tomatoes (approx. 14-18 oz./400-800g)

Preparation:
Peel and chop the garic into small pieces. Then wash the pepper and cut it to thin slices. Take a bowl/jug and put the ground meat in it. Now add about the half amount of the garlic, the egg and the spices to the meat and mix it thoroughly. Afterwards mold the meatmix to small meatballs and fry them in a hot pan with some olive oil. Meanwhile grab a saucepan and heat it up with a dash of olive oil in it. Put the rest of the garlic and the pepper slices into the saucepan and braise it for some time (5-8 minutes). Now add the chopped tomatoes, some herbes (the ones you like; I suggest italian herbs) and salt and pepper to taste. When the meatballs are done add them to the saucepan and let the whole content simmer for 5 more minutes. Get a plate and arrange the Albóndigas on it. Enjoy!


Cheers,
Andi

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The 30 Day Push-Up Challenge - Broad shoulders, muscular arms and a chest to dream about!

Hey guys,

According to Wikipedia, the current world record for most push-ups in 24 hours is by Charles Servizio (USA) who achieved 46,001 push-ups in just 21 hours, 6 minutes on 1993, April 24 to 25.

This is very, very impressive, but, fortunately, we don't have to do that much to get ready for the summer...

While the push-up primarily targets the muscles of the chest, arms (triceps) and shoulders, support required from other muscles results in a wider range of muscles integrated into the exercise (e.g. the core muscles).
So you can see that push-ups are very suitable ( for both genders) to get in shape for the board short and bikini session.

After we worked on our hot butts and legs through the 30 day squat challenge last time, let's start with a new 30 day challenge today: The 30 Day Push-Up Challenge

Day 1: 40 push-ups
Day 2: 45 push-ups
Day 3: 50 push-ups
Day 4: REST
Day 5: 55 push-ups
Day 6: 60 push-ups
Day 7: 65 push-ups
Day 8: REST
Day 9: 70 push-ups
Day 10: 75 push-ups
Day 11: 80 push-ups
Day 12: REST
Day 13: 85 push-ups
Day 14: 90 push-ups
Day 15: 95 push-ups
Day 16: REST
Day 17: 100 push-ups
Day 18: 105 push-ups
Day 19: 110 push-ups
Day 20: REST
Day 21: 115 push-ups
Day 22: 120 push-ups
Day 23: 125 push-ups
Day 24: REST
Day 25: 130 push-ups
Day 26: 135 push-ups
Day 27: 140 push-ups
Day 28: REST
Day 29: 145 push-ups
Day 30: 150 push-ups

The "rules" are pretty simple:
- Either you do all the demanded push-ups of the day in a row or you break them down in multiple sets (as many sets as necessary) over the day.
- You can choose the kind of push-ups that you prefer (even Wall Push-Ups are ok). But I recommend...

Full Push-Ups

 
 
or Kneeling Push-Ups
 
 


Join us if you want to! Summer is still approaching and sexy chests as well as toned arms and broad shoulders will make you feel awesome wearing a tee/bikini top or walking/lying at the beach topless!

Cheers,
Andi

Monday, May 20, 2013

Video + exercise descriptions - Half Squats & Full Squats

Hey guys,

My fastest CC progression is the one in the squat series, so today I'm gonna provide you with 2 more Steps of the Convict Conditioning series (as they are pretty similar I explain both in one article). I have a lot of fun at my routine, especially with getting better and better at the full squats (I'm still lacking a bit of flexibility to perform perfectly deep full squats; still some room for improvement).
Btw.: If you think your legs are already really tough, try out the 30 day squat challenge...it'll give you a big burn after some time (and helps your legs and butt getting ready for the summer!) 

Let's come to the how-to-perform explanations:

Half Squats:


So here we are...The first squat exercise that requires your leg muscles to balance, move and stabilize your whole bodyweight without any assistence. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your toes pointing slightly outwards (you can see it in the video). If you want to you can increase the distance between your feet a bit wider as well, so it becomes easier (but try to come back to the shoulder width distance later on). Bend at the hips and knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor (2 seconds). Hold the position for a count of one and return to the start position slowly and controlled (again 2 seconds). Repeat the movement without a rest and try to keep your back straight during the whole exercise. When you perform half squats for the first few times you can use a mirror or ask a friend to tell you when your thighs are parallel to the ground. This really helps in the beginning. Remember to move slowly and don't bounce down (this could actually hurt your knees; especially when you're a squat rookie!).


Target: 2 sets of 50 reps ( If you can't manage to meet the target instantly, do as much reps as possible until you can do the requested amount.)


Caution: Do not raise the heels at any point during the exercise and, even more important, try to avoid that your knees travel forward past your toes (leads to less strain on your knees and this could prevent knee injuries)!

Full Squats:


The first part of the movement is identic with the half squat. By the time your thighs are parallel to the floor you have to shift your weight backwards as if you want to sit down (don't fall backwards!). Descend further slowly until your hamstrings reach your calves and you cannot go any further. Hold the bottom position for 1 sec (maintain balance) and press yourself up again by using nothing else than leg strength (no momentum). Repeat the movement without a rest and try to keep your back straight during the whole exercise. The full squat is one of the best bodyweight exercises for working the muscles of the whole lower body, so try it out and never abandon them from your routine (they could be really hard sometimes, but they are worth the effort).


Target: 2 sets of 30 reps ( If you can't manage to meet the target instantly, do as much reps as possible until you can do the requested amount.)


Caution (yes, again): Do not raise the heels at any point during the exercise and, even more important, try to avoid that your knees travel forward past your toes (leads to less strain on your knees and this could prevent knee injuries)!

Let's prepare for summer time!

Cheers,
Andi


Friday, May 17, 2013

Cycle 14 - A week in Munich & The final days of the 30 Day Squat Challenge

Hey guys,

As I visited my buddy Jasper in Munich last week, my workouts (and my diet) were not as strictly as they should have been normally. Anyway, I've performed more exercises in this week than in the 2 previous weeks.

Area 1: My Convict Conditioning results

I just did kneeling push ups once that week, so this result part is quite short ;)
Kneeling Push Ups 30-15-16

Area 2: Not CC related workouts
As Jasper has a pull up bar in his flat I was able to do pull ups every day...it felt a bit like a pull up boot camp...
I've done around 50-60 pull ups every single day (broken down in multiple sets - every time I passed the bar I made a short set of 5-6 reps). It's really a nice thing if you have your own pull up bar at home! Additionally I've done some push ups and bridging stuff as well. Altogether I've done a lot of exercising during my stay, but always spread over the whole day (so you see, it's not that hard to implement little workouts in daily life...consistency is the key to success).

Area 3: The 30 Day Squat Challenge

Day 25: 210 in a row
Day 26: 225 in a row
Day 27: 230 in a row
Day 28: Rest
Day 29: 240 in a row
Day 30: 250 in a row

Finally the 30 day squat challenge is over! I've been able to perform every days target reps in a row (without any rests during the sets). During the challenge I often had muscle soreness and my legs felt as if they weren't able to carry myself directly after the squat sets - especially after the last 10 sessions. This were 30 hard days, but actually it's worth the effort. In the beginning I couldn't even imagine that I could reach the final 250 rep target, but everytime I'd finished my squats I literally could feel the increase of strength and the toning effect at my legs and my butt, which motivates me to go further and further...

I already think about starting a new 30 day challenge...maybe push ups...what do you think?

Cheers,
Andi

Thursday, May 16, 2013

New Design!

Hey guys,

I'm not a big webdesigner (you may have recognized it ;) ), but as my blog is growing and growing I decided that I have to redesign it a bit to make it clearer and more comfortable for you to read. I cleaned up and rearranged the elements of the sidebars a bit to get rid of the gadget overload and I implemented a page navigator at the top, so that it is way easier for you to find older articles (at the landing pages I thematically classified the different articles/links). That way you could also use the blog as a "reference book" for exercises, recipes and/or interesting background knowledge. I added a link section as well, where you can find blogs/websites that I visit frequently.

I hope you enjoy the new look!

Cheers,
Andi  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

My Top 20 - Fitness Motivation Quotes

Hey guys,

Today I want to share some easy-to-read stuff. During the last years I came across hundreds of motivational quotes and somehow I thought that I should share my personal top 20 with you.

20. Don’t give up what you want most, for what you want now.

19. Every pro was once an amateur. Every expert was once a beginner. So dream big. And start now.

18. If you don’t focus on your ass, no one will.

17. Be stronger than your strongest excuse.

16. I don’t stop when I’m tired, I stop when I’m done.

15. Always look forward and never give up.


14. Obstacles are put in our way to see if we really want to reach our goals or if we just thought we did.

13. Some people dream of success, while others wake up and work at it.

12. “The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”
–Jordan Belfort

11. “I’ve failed over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”
– Michal Jordan

10. No matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everybody on the couch.

9. If you wait for perfect conditions, you’ll never get anything done.

8. There is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs.

7. It’s actually pretty simple,. Either you do it, or you don’t. 

6. Day by day, you lose the opportunity to become the person you want to be so stop wasting your time and START TODAY. 

5. Don’t compare yourself to others, compare yourself to the person from yesterday.

4. Difficult doesn’t mean impossible. It simply means that you have to work hard for it.

3. Every journey begins with a single step. But you’ll never finish if you don’t start.

2. Shut up and squat!

1. Fitness isn't coincidence
- I heard this one first from my buddy Stephen Hoyles
If you have a quote in mind that I missed and of which you really think it should have a place in a Top-Listing, feel free to post it down in the comment area!

Cheers,
Andi

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Video + exercise description - Flat Knee Raise

Hey guys,

Finally I hit the target for knee tucks and progressed in the leg raise series. As the last second step of a progression series I now descripe the Flat Knee Raise. This exercise helps you to work your whole waist (abs, lower back, side abs), the hip flexors and your front thigh muscles a bit harder than the knee tucks did. As we are getting closer to the summer, the need for good ab exercises is getting bigger ;)

Let's come to the how-to-perform explanation:


Lie down flat on the floor or a mat. Keep your arms flat beside your torso and your legs together. Bend your knees approx. 90 degrees so that they form a right angle and lift your feet slightly from the floor (around 1-2 inches). Make sure that your torso stays stable on the floor during the whole exercise (no hollow-back!) and that your abs are contracted all the time. Slowly bring your knees up over your hips until your calves are parallel to the floor (remember to hold the right angle at your knees). This move should take 2 seconds. Hold the finish position for a count of one. Now move back slowly to the start position (2 seconds) and start the next rep. If it's possible don't allow your feet to touch the ground during the exercise (if this exercise is to hard, you can slightly let them touch the floor every 3-5 reps)! If you can't manage to meet the target instantly, do as much reps as possible until you can do the requested amount. The 2-1-2 cadence is very reasonable for this exercise (ab muscles have mostly slow-twitch fibres). No shortcuts allowed here (same like the knee tuck exercise)!


Target: 3 sets of 35 reps


At my youtube channel (Andreas Heller) you can already find more videos to the Progression Series (I'm gonna explain the exercises in further postings).

Cheers,
Andi


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cycle 13

Hey guys,

Today my result post is short and simple...mainly because I haven't done much...
I've had a lot of work to do and I was on a 2-day lasting Italian wedding last week (which was very nice by the way). I know, excuses don't count, but that's how it is.
Things that I've done:
I did some push ups, some ab exercises and, of course, the squats from the "30 Day Squat Challenge" (at least I haven't skip this one). This week won't be better at all...I'll be in Munich for 5 days, but afterwards I'll do a re-start.

Area 3: The 30 Day Squat Challenge
Day 17: 150 in a row
Day 18: 155 in a row
Day 19: 160 in a row
Day 20: Rest
Day 21: 180 in a row
Day 22: 185 in a row
Day 23: 190 in a row
Day 24: Rest

Still all reps in a row!! Squats are going well (but after the sessions my legs burn like hell and I have to hobble for 10 minutes).

Cheers,
Andi

Monday, May 6, 2013

Consistency - The key to success

Hey guys,

If you ask me about what I think is the most important point to adhere when you want to get fit, my answer would always be consistency. No matter how hard you train and how strict you follow a diet it's almost worthless if your effort is limited to 3 or 6 month. Of course you will see great results in that time and afterwards you are definitely fitter than you were before, but if you stop your effort in working out and stop following your diet it's very likely that you will look like before or worse after the next few weeks/months. Unfortunately I can tell you this as a kind of expert in yo-yo effects. If you remember my first post "Introduction", you might know what I mean. I had lots of phases in my life when I'd worked out hard and stuck to different kinds of diets disciplined. I'd had success and became unbelievable fit in almost any of this phases (especially when I was younger it was quite easier to get fast results). The sad thing is, that I never was consistent enough to follow the plans I made for more than 8 months. Once I stopped training and changed my diet to "normal" (which, in my case, is too much junk food and sweets) I lost muscle mass fast and gained lots of additional bodyfat in a short period. My friends call me "living proof for the yo-yo effect". Usually my weight differs around 33 lbs (15kg) during every year! Every year I'd started an ambitious training program and a good diet but after a few months I'd always lost the motivation and lapsed into my old habits. I'd been unable to even maintain my fitness status...

That's the reason why I started this blog to stay in line this time. The beginning of every life change program is uncomfortable. You cannot lift the weight you could earlier in your life, you have problems hitting the rep targets even in easy exercises and you run out of air after a short cardio session. Your appearence is far from how you wish it would be and you know that the way is tough.

Becoming fit is so much harder as maintaining a reached fitness level...but motivation is a big problem.

There is a solution for this problem:
If your motivation is down, try to decrease your effort in working out but never ever stop the training! Ease up your diet but try to control your eating habits and avoid gluttony!

The magic word is  consistency. If you train hard and your motivation decreases do at least some bodyweight exercises 10 minutes a day. This will help you to maintain (with just a small loss of power) what you already got and if your motivation is up again, you can start a new routine from a higher starting level. This way you can get better and fitter over a long time. If I would have maintained my aready reached fitness level with low effort every time I stopped my programs I would be a beast now. I would be able to do unhuman stuff I dream about now...
Anyway, leave the past and concentrate on today and the future, because future could be created while the past is already gone.

Another argument why consistency is the most important thing in training and dieting is this: If you lack enough free time to do a high-effort workout 3-6 times a week just start low. Do push ups, pull ups and some other beginner calisthenics every day (or every other day) for 10-15 minutes (depends on how much time you can spare). Even a commercial break during a tv show is better than nothing. If you do this over a long period you definitely are going to benefit from it. You will get stronger, leaner and fitter...low-pace but steady progress is promised. The important point is consistency!
I want to depict this with an example:
In Germany a regular student has half a year time to learn for an exam. In the beginning of the semester you sit in front of a huge pile of books that you have to read. If you study just one hour a day (and believe me for a student that's possible ;) ) and in the last two weeks before the exam 4 hours a day, you studied 225 hours seen from the exam day. If you enjoy your life the whole semester and decide to learn all the stuff at the end of the semester, you have to study more than 3 weeks, given that you read 10 hours a day. This is way harder and probably you can't concentrate 10 hours/day so your knowledge is far from what it would be by using the first option. Chances that you pass the exam are lower, 3 weeks are totally miserable and you won't remember much after the exam...What choice is better?

P.S.: Ask yourself: "What are 10 minutes per day compared to a long, fit and healthy life?"

I hope you understand why consistency is the key factor in all parts of your life.

Cheers,
Andi

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Trifecta - The second steps to functional flexibility

Hey guys,

I hope you already feel the benefits of the Trifecta moves. As you (hopefully) feel how your flexibility has increased and how much stronger your joints already are, you may want to go further with this and improve even more. If you've performed the first steps of the Trifecta for some time (and you can manage the holds with ease) you should move on to the second steps. If you're just perfect with one or two of those exercises, go on with their second steps and do the first step of the other one(s) until you can hold it easily as well. But talk is cheap, let's come to the meat...

The Straight Leg Hold - Step 2 of the L-Hold Progression


This exercise streches actively the posterior chain, while strongly contracting the anterior chain.
Find parallel bars or a chair with stable arms. Grip the bars with slightly bent arms. Brace your upper body and lift your knees up until your thighs are at least parallel to the ground. Now straighten your legs until they are locked out straight. It won't be a problem if your feet dip down so that your legs are diagonal (the higher you can hold your legs the better). Keep your feet and legs together during the hold.

Target: 20 sec (if you can't manage 20 sec, try 2x10 sec or 4x5 sec with a short rest in between)

The Straight Bridge Hold - Step 2 of the Bridge Hold Progression


This exercise streches actively the anterior chain, while strongly contracting the posterior chain.
Sit down with your legs straight in front of you. Your knees should be totally straight and your feet should be approx. shoulder width apart. Place your palms on the floor (fingers in the direction of your feet) on either side of your hips (or a bit backwards). Now press down through the hands, tensing the arms as you simultaneously push your hips upwards by using the spine muscles until your body forms a straight line. Draw the chin up and look towards the ceiling. Your bodyweight will be carried through your palms and heels at that point. Hold this position for the requested time and move back slowly to the start position.

Target: 20 sec (if you can't manage 20 sec, try 2x10 sec or 4x5 sec with a short rest in between)

The Easy Twist Hold - Step 2 of the Twist Hold Progression


This exercise streches actively the lateral chain, while strongly contracting the lateral chain of the opposite.
Sit down on the floor or a mat with your legs straight. Now bend one leg until your feet is right beside the knee of the other leg. Bend the other leg until your heel touches your butt and keep it directly on the floor (like you can see in the video). Twist your opposite shoulder towards the raised knee and secure your elbow on its outside. Let your head follow the twist of the torso. Place the palm of the other hand behind you and prop yourself on that outstreched arm. Hold the position for the required time and repeat the move to the other side.

Target: 20 sec (if you can't manage 20 sec, try 2x10 sec or 4x5 sec with a short rest in between)

Have fun!

Cheers,
Andi

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Oven-baked Meatballs with Sunchokes à la Eleftheria - Very tasty low-carb and high-protein dish

Hey guys,

This dish is an old family recipe transmitted by a greek aunt of my girlfriend and modified by us to a low-carb version! We substitute potatoes (GL around 15) by sunchokes (GL around 5.5). Sunchokes taste quite similar to potatos, have a lower glycemic load and are very rich in dietery fibers, vitamins and mineral nutrients! They are also used in diabetic diets because they contain a high amount of inuline as carbs (compared to "bad" starch in potatoes). Inulin (contrary to starch) doesn't influence the blood sugar level, and, in the following, doesn't influence the insulin level neither. That's a good point for all of us (like you could read in my article about the glycemical load). Their vegetable protein combined with the minced meat and the egg convert this dish to a low-carb protein bomb that doesn't feed your fat storages but your muscles to help them growing! 
Another very important and essential advantage of this dish is that it tastes extremly delicious!

Let's start with this mouth-watering recipe for 3-4 servings (depends on how big you like your meatballs):

Ingredients:


- 35 oz. (approx. 1kg) Sunchokes (a.k.a. Jerusalem artichokes or topinambour)
- 18 oz. (approx. 500g) ground (minced) meat
- 1 medium sized egg
- 1-2 garlic cloves
- 3-4 small pieces of butter
- paprika (as much as you like)
- 1.5 tbsp. dried marjoram
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper

Preparation:
Heat an oven up to 360°F (approx. 180°C). Meanwhile get a baking dish and brush its inside bottom with olive oil. Peel the sunchokes, cut them to thicker slices (like you can see on the pic below) and dispose them in the baking dish. Dredge them with the marjoram (1 tbsp.) and some salt and sprinkle them with olive oil. Chop the garlic to small pieces. Now take a big bowl and put the meat into it. Add the egg, garlic, paprika, some salt, pepper and dried marjoram (0.5 tbsp.) to the meat and mash it up properly. After that mold 3-4 meatballs out of the seasoned meat and place them on the sunchokes in the baking dish. To make the dish more succulent put small pieces of butter onto the meatballs (like on the pic below). Place the baking dish on the oven rack and slide it to the center position of the oven. Bake it for 1.5 to 2 hours (turn the meatballs after 45-60 minutes) until the meat is well done and the sunchokes are tender.


Final yummy result:


Time to eat ;)

Cheers,
Andi

Btw: You can use sunchokes as a substitute for potatos for almost every dish that normally is prepared with potatoes!