The idea of workout finishers is one of the most idiotic fitness concepts I’ve ever heard of. I’ve written about this before when I said that if you need finishers, your workouts suck. Today I heard a trainer suggest that the best way to have an effective 30-minute workout is to perform a 5-minute finisher at the end of a 25-minute workout. I have a better suggestion: just do 25 minutes of quality, high-intensity exercise, and leave the pointless finishers to the clueless people that think it’s somehow a good idea to perform a moderate intensity 25-minute workout and only go balls to the ceiling during the last 5 minutes.

From The Gracie Diet book, Rorion Gracie on exercise:

Find an exercise that interests you. The problem with most aerobic workouts is that they are incredibly boring. Few people can sustain the motivation to ride a stationary bicycle or climb a Stairmaster for weeks or months in order to see any benefits. [...] Thats why its best if exercise is a byproduct of an exciting or enjoyable activity instead of the main focus.

Speaking of lower abs and non-existent muscles, let’s take another moment to remember that there are no such muscles as “inner chest” or “outer chest”. Any fitness professional giving out advice on how to target those non-existent muscles is either a liar or a delusional moron.

I just heard a very well-known trainer use the term “lower abs” on a YouTube video, and no, unfortunately he wasn’t using that term in the context of explaining that there’s no such thing as lower abs. He was demonstrating an exercise that, according to him, is great for the “lower abs”. Good grief. Let’s take this moment to remember that there’s no such thing as “lower abs”.

I’m in the process of repositioning Mode Athletics and I figured now is the perfect time to do something I’ve wanted to do for a couple of years: update the Mode Athletics logo.

The old logo used many common design elements from the Web 2.0 era, including bold fonts, gradients, drop shadows, a totally unnecessary swirl, etc. I liked it back in 2007 when I created it, but now in 2013 is just seems clunky and out of date. The new logo looks more current and better reflects the minimalist design style I’ve grown into over the years.

Old logo:

Mode Athletics Logo Original

New logo:

Mode Athletics Logo New

You don’t want or have time to spend 5 days per week exercising for 60+ minutes each workout, and thankfully, you don’t have to do that in order to get great results. In order to reduce the time you spend exercising each week, and get significantly better fat-burning results with shorter and less frequent workouts, there are 5 principles that your workouts must follow.

1. Metabolic Resistance Training (Not Cardio): Metabolic resistance training (MRT) involves taking traditional resistance training exercises such as squats, lunges, pushups, rows, etc, and performing them with higher rep ranges (12 to 15 reps per set) and incomplete recovery periods (limited rest between sets).

MRT is the most time-efficient way to burn calories during the workout, as well as after the workout during what’s called the “after-burn” (also known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC).

Besides being brutally boring, cardio exercise is almost completely useless towards burning fat (it can actually make you fatter). Needless to say, cardio also doesn’t produce a significant after-burn effect, but with MRT, you will be burning calories at a higher than normal rate for up to 48 hours after you stop exercising.

2. Total-Body Workouts (Not Split Routines): If you want to maximize the time you spend exercising, you absolutely must focus on total-body workouts that work all of your major muscles in each workout.

The opposite of total-body workouts are what’s called “split routines”, which is when you only work certain muscle groups each workout. Split routines are a gigantic waste of time and should be avoided by anyone who wants great results in only a few short weekly workouts.

The problem with split routines is that it’s impossible to burn many calories when you’re only using a small percentage of muscles on your body during the workout. Leg workouts can be very effective towards fat-burning, but upper-body workouts range from less effective (chest or back) to a complete and utter waste of time (arms or abs).

The key to getting insane results in only a few short weekly workouts is to ensure that each workout focusses on total-body metabolic resistance training so that you’re working all of the major muscles on your body each workout.

3. Compound Exercises (Not Isolation Exercises): Compound exercises are when multiple joints are moving and multiple muscles are working during the exercise. Examples of compound exercises are squats, lunges, deadlifts, pushups, rows, military press, and pullups.

Isolation exercises are when a single joint and muscle is working during the exercise. Examples of isolation exercises are leg extensions, hamstring curls, chest flys, reverse flys, triceps pushdowns, biceps curls, and shoulder raises.

Compound exercises provide maximum bang for your buck because you’re working more muscles each exercise. Compound exercises are also more functional than isolation exercises, because compound exercises more closely mimic the movements you do in every day life.

Back to the topic of fat-burning, by choosing the best compound exercises, you’re essentially stacking multiple muscles groups into the same exercise and burning many times the amount of calories that you could burn if you were just performing inefficient isolation exercises.

4. Non-Competitive Exercise Order (Not Straight-Set Format): Non-competitive exercise order means that you are performing your exercises in such a way that each subsequent exercise works different muscles than the previous exercise. This allows you to workout harder and with less rest.

A simple example of non-competitive exercise order is as follows:

  1. Squats
  2. Pushups
  3. Lunges
  4. Rows

That exercise order switches between lower-body and upper-body, and it also switches between push and pull for the upper-body exercises. The benefit of this type of order is that you can take very limited rest periods and still maintain a high intensity because you’re not working the same muscle groups back to back throughout the series.

Straight-set format is when you do multiple sets of each exercise before moving onto the next exercise. That forces you to take longer rests periods or else the quality of your workout will suffer. Performing your exercises in non-competitive order allows you to maximize every second that you spend working out.

5. Maximum Intensity (Not The “Fat-Burning Zone”): The most ridiculous myth in the history of the fitness industry is something called the “fat-burning zone”. The idea behind the fat-burning zone is that there is a certain level of intensity where you burn the highest percentage of calories from stored body-fat. It’s so incredibly stupid that I feel dumber just writing about it, but here goes.

When you exercise, you burn stored energy (calories) to fuel your workout. Energy comes from three places: glycogen, body-fat, and muscle breakdown. Ideally when you exercise, you want your energy to come form the first two, and avoid burning muscle tissue to fuel your workout.

The fat-burning zone is the level of intensity where the percentage of calories being burned by body-fat is highest. The key word there is “percentage”. Staying in the fat-burning zone means that you’ll be burning significantly less total calories than you’ll burn if you crank up the intensity and go balls to the ceiling.

Summary: For the best possible fat-burning results in the least possible amount of time spent exercising, perform total-body metabolic resistance training workouts that focus of compound exercises done in non-competitive order at the highest intensity you can handle.

Lately I’ve been on the hunt for a hooded rain jacket. My budget was around $100 to $150, and my initial search led me to The North Face Resolve and Venture jackets. Both of those jackets look great and were within my budget, but I ended up going with the Columbia Watertight Jacket:

Columbia Watertight Jacket

I chose the Columbia jacket because I like the look and design more than The North Face jackets, and as an added bonus, the Columbia Watertight jacket is about half the price of the two jackets I mentioned from The North Face.

Great gym etiquette/training tip from Lou Schuler:

1. Get rid of your goddam iPod

This applies to almost everyone under 30, but it’s especially problematic for people who have no idea what they’re doing. Zeke spends three-fourths of his time in the gym adjusting his iPod.

This boils my blood if I’m waiting to use a piece of equipment and the person monopolizing it is focused on his music instead of his workout. But the fact I’m inconvenienced is only part of it. The real problem: If you’re thinking about your music, you aren’t thinking about your training. Which is the only reason you’re in the gym. No focus, no results.

Music is, at best, a tool to help you apply more effort to the task. If it keeps you from applying effort, it’s not a tool. It’s an impediment, and it makes you a tool.

Tony Horton on P90X3:

You know what I keep hearing lately? “Tony, your programs are awesome, they make me look incredible. But an hour every day? Come on . . .” [...]

I took everything I learned from P90X and P90X2—coupled it with new science that shows intense 30-minute workouts can get you in better shape faster—and slammed it all into overdrive.

The result? Short, targeted, intense workouts that take just 30 minutes—but leave you looking like you’ve been tearing it up in the gym all day, every day.