To celebrate the 500th Get-Fit Guy podcast episode, we looked back at his most popular topics of all time based on what you listen to and search for.
Back in August of 2010, the OG Get-Fit Guy, Ben Greenfield, wrote an article called Which Exercise Machine Burns the Most Calories? Even back then, the takeaway tips were probably not what the audience was expecting. The answers are rarely (I would even go as far as to say never) as clear cut as “Do X, Y, and Z and you will be fit!”
Instead, in the pursuit of cutting through the hype and fads, the advice in that very first episode was:
If you always walk, try switching to cycling or using the elliptical; or if you always run, try the rowing machine. Keep throwing those cardio curveballs at the body ... Of course, most importantly, have fun when you’re exercising.
So, although the Get-Fit Guy host has changed to yours truly, the messaging hasn’t. If you are not challenging your body, pushing your own boundaries, and—most importantly—having fun doing it, you're missing a large part of getting and remaining fit.
With that in mind let’s dive into the top ten most popular Get-Fit Guy articles and their potentially unexpected takeaway messages.
This surprisingly popular low-weight, high-rep resistance workout claims to have science in its corner. But as we found out, those claims don’t exactly hold up to independent research.
After going through the science, I concluded that if you enjoy it, and if attending a BODYPUMP class is the one thing that gets you to move more of your body more often, then I think it is fine to do a class once every seven to ten days.
But my concern is that doing a workout as repetitive as this one (some of the classes include more than 800 reps) could cause overuse issues. Plus, as the study showed, even the participants who were doing BODYPUMP twice per week for 12 full weeks barely saw any meaningful results.
All of the evidence I found and experienced led me to conclude that “If I had a rating scale for the risk of injury from 'too much, too soon' with a dash of 'too repetitive,' BODYPUMP might just bump CrossFit out of the top position. Eight-hundred reps are just too many.”
When you are trying to get or remain generally fit, it can help to do a combination of endurance and resistance training—but that is not always optimal for your specific fitness goals. And choosing which you should do first is often a matter of determining what those specific fitness goals are.
The main goal of the listener who suggested this topic was to be a better runner. In the research, I found that she could combine her strength work with some short cardio without jeopardizing her performance, as long as she was getting dedicated run training done on her non-lifting days.
But then, if her focus had been to build strength, she should stick to doing her resistance training as a separate workout. And if she was training for endurance, she would be better off focusing on a high-quality cardio workout that isn’t interrupted by strength training. And finally, if her focus had been pure fat loss, then she could definitely consider combining weightlifting and cardio in one workout.
But in the end, without splitting too many hairs, the real take away is that getting hung up on the relatively small difference between these styles of workouts really only matters if you're a serious athlete or competitor. For the majority of us fitness mortals, the advice “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good” stands true.
In this close look at body fat, we discussed where body fat comes from, why we need it, what the best ways to burn it off are, and where the fat you burn goes.
In a nutshell, body fat (or adipocytes—adipo means fat and cyte means cell) is found in many places around the human body and mostly underneath your skin, a substance we call "subcutaneous fat. There is also some on top of your kidneys, inside your liver, and a small amount in your muscle tissue, which we call visceral fat. And sure, that's good to know, but it isn’t that exciting as information goes.
But this article explained something that was an exciting and interesting scientific takeaway—studies have calculated that the lungs are the primary excretory organ for fat.
Let’s say you lose 22 pounds (10 kilograms) of body fat. Twenty pounds (9.4 kilograms) would be released as carbon dioxide (CO2) when you breathe; the remainder would become water that is excreted in our urine, sweat, or (hopefully not) tears.
So all that hot yoga, it turns out, is not burning as much body fat as we had hoped. You're better off breathing heavily than sweating heavily. And breathing heavily is something I don’t advocate doing in a hot room full of people in tight pants.
I am a fan of barbell complexes because this type of training not only benefits your overall muscle mass but pushes the limits of your endurance, coordination, mobility, athleticism, and general strength.
A barbell complex is any series of movements done back-to-back using a barbell. A set number of repetitions (or reps) is completed for each movement before shifting immediately on to the next. What makes a barbell complex unique, difficult, and effective is that the weight never leaves your hands until the entire series is complete.
A barbell complex is any series of movements done back-to-back using a barbell.
One of the biggest reasons people like me include barbell complexes in their workout regimen is that they're a great way to include some cardiovascular exercise (or cardio) in your training program without the need to do traditional cardio (like running, cycling, or aerobics). Cardio is something most weightlifters and bodybuilders see as something to be avoided. But complexes allow you to raise your heart rate, get out of breath, do a series of movements that last a few minutes each, and throw some heavy weights around ... all at the same time.
Static stretching is a stretch that is held in a mostly still position for a few seconds at a time. Back when I was in grade school (wearing that iconic 1980s gym class outfit), stretching was a ritual we all performed before class. Back then, we were programmed to believe we absolutely had to stretch our muscles before exerting them if we wanted to avoid things like the dreaded groin pull.
These days, there are many studies that caution us away from static stretching before workouts. According to the research, not only does our performance suffer (in the form of less strength, less speed, and less power) but static stretching also does not protect us against injuries. (Yes, even the dreaded groin pull).
So what do I suggest, instead? Dynamic stretching is a much more preferred method of preparing the body for activity. Dynamic stretching is an active version of stretching, where you move your body through an increasingly larger range of motion.
This was a topic that landed on my plate after a conversation with my chiropractor about how many people he treated per day due to yoga injuries. It turns out that this supposedly gentle activity can be pretty rough on your forearms if you haven’t prepared yourself correctly.
Part of the issue is what can be referred to as the “weakest link in the kinetic chain.” This basically means that when you have weak or underdeveloped forearms or wrists, those muscles may be the first group to tire out when you're doing something like chin-ups or rowing. That means you'll never seriously tax the actual pulling muscles during the workout because your forearms give out too quickly.
But it doesn’t stop there. The forearm muscles help us grip everything from a school bag to a doorknob to a barbell. From a kettlebell to a pet, to an awkward piece of furniture we have to move to vacuum behind. Having forearm (and grip) strength means you can do yoga safely—instead of ending up in the chiropractor’s office—and also have the independence to pick up heavy things and move them around on your own.
After researchers at Harvard University said that measuring your heart rate variability is “a visual insight into the most primitive part of your brain,” I did a deep look into how we fit folks could use that insight to our advantage.
The problem is, although most serious athletes know getting enough rest after exercise is essential to high performance, many of us over-train and feel guilty or lazy when we take a day off. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a measurement we could take each morning that would let us know if we should rest or rock? That's the promise of HRV.
Even beyond our athletic endeavors, research has shown a relationship between low HRV and states like depression or anxiety. A low HRV has even been associated with an increased risk of death and cardiovascular disease where people who have a high HRV may have greater cardiovascular fitness and show more resilience to stress. So this is really an evolving field that is worth keeping an eye on.
This is a contentious topic, to say the least. Sure, if your loose skin is causing you pain or discomfort, or if you're getting chafing during activity, you may want to do something about it. That something could range from wearing compression garments to a more drastic fix like surgery. But if your loose skin isn’t causing pain or injury, I urge you to not let the stigma of loose skin stop you from living your best life.
I believe that focusing on your loose skin instead of celebrating all the good you've done for your health and wellbeing would be a shame. That said, there are still some steps in this article that you can take to give your skin a little help.
Here we are at another question that doesn't have a clear cut answer. Each one of these methods can serve a useful purpose. There are pros and cons to all three.
For instance, dumbbells can be inexpensive, are somewhat portable, and having a set at home in your living room (near the TV) or in your office (under your desk) can make it easy to quickly grab them when the mood strikes you.
The type of strength training you choose should always be based on your current fitness level, your goals, and what you enjoy.
A machine, on the other hand, will also allow you to lift heavier weights than you might otherwise be able to and also to target specific muscle groups.
When you use your own body weight, you engage more muscles while you stabilize yourself along with the weight you're lifting. This creates a more functional type of fitness. (And by "functional," I mean the type of fitness that helps you in everyday movement).
So, I concluded this article by urging you to remember that the type of strength training you choose should always be based on your current fitness level, your goals, and what you enjoy.
Exercise shouldn’t feel like medicine you have to endure to be healthy—it should also be fun.
Beyond helping you have a nice body, testosterone is crucial to good health. Low levels of testosterone, in both men and women, can lead to a number of health conditions, including increased risk of depression, low sex drive, obesity, and osteoporosis.
Men with low testosterone tend to have higher rates of heart disease, depression, and even dementia. Women with low testosterone can lose muscle mass more rapidly and gain weight more easily.
Simply getting regular exercise and movement into your day is one of the true keys to overall health and wellbeing, including boosting your serum testosterone.
You can check out the full article for some specific workouts to boost testosterone. But before you get too carried away trying to craft The Perfect Testosterone Boosting Exercise Plan, remember that simply getting regular exercise and movement into your day is one of the true keys to overall health and wellbeing, including boosting your serum testosterone.
The 500th Episode Workout
What kind of a celebration would this be if I didn't include a workout? So, to celebrate this 500th episode, join me in this 5-0-0 workout.
5 = reps of the five key movements (push-ups, pull-ups, squats, planks, twists)
0 = isometric hold for 5 seconds
0 = rest for 50 seconds
The workout goes like this:
- Do 5 push-ups, then hold yourself just off the floor isometrically for 5 seconds, then take a 50-second rest.
- Do 5 pull-ups, then hold your chin at the bar for 5 seconds, and take a 50-second rest.
- Do 5 squats, hold the lowest squat you can for 5 seconds, then a 50-second rest.
- Do 5 plank taps (on each foot), then hold in plank position for 5 seconds, and take a 50-second rest.
- Do 5 Russian twists, then hold in the middle position (boat pose) for 5 seconds, and take a 50-second rest.
Finally, go back to the beginning and do it again for a total of five sets.
So there you have it, the top ten topics from the first 500 episodes. I can't wait to bring you at least 500 more!
Remember there are another 490 podcasts and nearly as many blog posts in the Get-Fit Guy archive, so if you have a specific fitness or movement question, search the Quick and Dirty Tips website. If you don’t find what you're looking for, send me an email or leave me a voicemail and I'll consider it for the future.