Ah, Christmas. The time that we all love and hate, because of the consumerism that runs rampant in our society. Sure, you end up with a lower bank account, but it balances out–you get a bunch of really cool presents, too. Win!
Because giving is more fun than receiving (stop snickering and at least PRETEND it’s true), I have put together a shopping guide for your fit or soon-to-be-fit friends.
Or if you don’t want to buy anyone any damn presents, but want some product suggestions that will help you fight fat and win, that is okay too.
Is your boyfriend a gym-hound?
Does your wife wish she had Michelle Obama’s arms?
Do you have a friend who WILL lose his spare tire in the New Year (no guys, really for serious this time!)?
I’ll be frank—there is a lot of pure crap out there. Unfortunately, I have bought a lot of it over the last 3 years.
But my loss is your win; I would like to share the best fitness products I have found. Whether your friend, lover, or family wants to lose fat or build muscle; whether they work out at home or in a gym; and whether they are a beginner or an expert, there is something here for everyone.
I am also taking cost into account; I know budgets are tight now, so you will not find any expensive gym memberships or treadmills here.
There are 3 pillars to fitness: diet, exercise, and supplementation. I will include a few options for each pillar. Diet is the most important, so if your friend is a total beginner, I recommend picking one from the “diet” category and possibly another from “exercise” if you wish. No amount of exercise can undo a bad diet, and “supplementing” a crappy diet is stupid, so don’t do it.
Diet = Beginners
Exercise = Intermediate
Supplementation = Advanced
Got it? Let’s go!
”The Four Hour Body” by Timothy Ferriss
WHAT: This Bible-sized text offers chapters on anything and everything wellness-related. If you want to lose fat, build muscle, run faster/longer, have better sex, etc.—there is probably something here for you. Tim, a polarizing figure who brings about love or hate, made himself a human guinea pig; and here he shares what worked best in his fat loss/muscle gain/general health endeavors. This book inspired my views on slow carb dieting and cheat days. His methods aren’t conventional, but the ones I have tested are effective.
HOW MUCH: $16
RANDOM QUOTE: “If results are fast and measurable, self-discipline isn’t needed.”
HOW MUCH: $16
GOOD FOR: Intellectuals, nerds, busy people, people who love reading
“Gourmet Nutrition: The Cookbook for the Fit Food Lover” by John Berardi
WHAT: Food porn. Think healthy eating sucks? Not anymore. This cookbook includes pictures of every glorious recipe, a nutritional breakdown, side dish suggestions, and meal-timing (anytime/post workout/etc.)
HOW MUCH: $43
GOOD FOR: People who like to cook, stay at home moms, people who claim healthy eating sucks
Grocery Store Gift-card
Yes, seriously. If you have a loved one who is serious about starting a diet, this could be the most practical gift to buy.
WHAT: The best fat loss tool in creation. The kettlebell swing is a high impact lift that corrects your posture, speeds up your metabolism, and torches calories with little time invested. You can see a demonstration video of kettlebell swings here. 100 kettlebell swings three days a week is more beneficial for fat loss than three hours on a treadmill. Don’t believe me? Test it out for a week and compare your progress to hamster-like cardio. I double-dog dare you to prove me wrong. Swings are a movement performed for high repetitions, so you don’t need a heavy one–I use 25 lb and can now do 80 consecutive swings without rest.
HOW MUCH: Price varies depending on weight and whether you would like an accompanying DVD routine. There are some decent DVD’s on Amazon, but they are not necessary; if strapped for cash, watch the link above and do the swings as instructed. Do 3 sets of as many as you can 3 times a week, and either a) do more total swings or b) do the same amount of swings in less time with each workout. You want to increase your work capacity or decrease time invested.
GOOD FOR: Busy people (moms/dads/students/workaholics), people without a gym home, people tired of wasting money on their gym membership, women who think “lifting weights” means “getting bulky.” Ladies: I’ll make a blog about why this misconception is holding you back soon. But resistance training is not going to make you “bulky.” This myth annoys the shit out of me.
WHAT: The second-best fat-loss tool on the planet. Jumping rope beats the shit out of running on a treadmill. If you are paying $50/month for a gym membership when all you do is treadmill or elliptical work, newsflash: YOU ARE WASTING YOUR MONEY. If you are actually using the weight-room, that is one thing; but paying this much just to do cardio is insane.
Ten minutes of rope-work hits me harder than a 2 mile jog. Also, Rocky Balboa did it. If you have a LOT of weight to lose and are a total beginner, do yourself a favor: buy a kettlebell and jump rope, kick ass at home, throw in some complimentary body-weight resistance training, enjoy the savings, and get a gym membership when you are ready for new challenges.
HOW MUCH: $7
GOOD FOR: Busy people, people without a gym membership, people tired of wasting money on their gym membership, your 5 year-old pig-tailed cousin.
WHAT: The cheapest chiropractor visit of your life. Foam rolling increases the QUALITY of your muscle. Cracking/popping knees are a sign of trigger points that cause joint stress; you foam-roll your trigger points to eliminate stress, increase your work capacity, and create quality workouts. I used to experience slight knee discomfort after heavy squat workouts. Foam rolling allows me to squat heavy loads with no pain.
HOW MUCH: $8-$28 depending on size
GOOD FOR: Advanced heavy lifters, people with knee/back pain, anyone with popping knees/shoulders/other body parts
The New Rules of Lifting by Lou Shuler and Alwyn Cosgrove
WHAT: The book that introduced me to weight lifting, my favorite activity in the world. You will learn how performing functional movements (push, pull, twist, squat, dead-lift) trumps isolation training or being a cardio hamster. This book includes several routines with different goals; fat loss, hypertrophy (muscle growth), or strength.
RANDOM QUOTE: “A generation ago, the idea that strength training was actually good for you–that it offered any health benefits, that it helped people live longer, that it did anything besides give you bigger muscles to flex or stronger muscles to push people around with–seemed absurd.”
HOW MUCH: $12
GOOD FOR: Guys who insist on doing 10 variations of curls in the squat rack, your “chicken legs” boyfriend, people who half-heartedly perform cardio while watching their favorite soap, your dad who is still perfecting his high school football workout, anyone with a gym membership and no concrete routine.
The New Rules of Lifting for Women by Cassanndra Forsynthe, Lou Shuler and Alwyn Cosgrove
WHAT: The same as above, but with less testosterone and more estrogen.
HOW MUCH: $12
GOOD FOR: Your hard-ass girlfriend, a wife with anger management, cross-dressers, etc.
<a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Built-Show-Body-Changing-Workouts-andLooking/dp/1583333193/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1322516067&sr=1-1“>”Built for Show” by Nate Green</a>
WHAT: Nate offers a seasonal approach to strength-training that is awesome in simplicity and logic. You do strength training during fall and winter, when your body will be covered with a sweater and fat loss is not a priority. During spring, your primary goal is muscle growth with some fat loss/mobility work. Summer is full-throttle fat loss to shred some flab in time for your beach trip. Nate also offers an uncommon, warm humor that makes reading about exercise fun.
HOW MUCH: $14
GOOD FOR: Skinny guys needing muscle, chubby guys needing fat loss, college dudes, and people listed under “New Rules”
<a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fish_oil“>Fish Oil</a>
WHAT: I’m sure you have heard of “EPA,” “DHA,” and all the other acronyms we all pretend to understand. Instead of going into what the hell that means, I’m going to list some benefits of using fish oil: decreased risk of breast/colon/prostate cancer, lower blood pressure, more powerful brain cells, fat loss, etc.
HOW MUCH: Varies, but $7-12ish depending on where you buy it.
GOOD FOR: Just about everyone, but consider getting this for middle-aged through older folks especially.
<a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Vibrant-Health-Green-Vibrance-Family/dp/B000NDME6C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1322516258&sr=8-1“>Green Vibrance</a>
WHAT: Nutritional power-house and super food. Benefits include energy boost, smoother digestion (this powder has done wonders for my morning poops!), smoother skin, improved mood, strengthened immunity, etc.
HOW MUCH: $52 for 60-day supply
GOOD FOR: Advanced fitness freaks and anyone experiencing serious sickness, pain, or medical treatment
OTHER TOOLS FOR ANYONE
WHAT: Duh. Here’s a fun fact: In 2002, the US Sports Academy found that subjects listening to techno music ran 5-9% faster than without music. I’m not big on techno or cardio; but I crank up some Bad Religion, Iron Maiden, Jay-Z, and other punk/metal/rap for my workouts. Try to jump rope while keeping rhythm with a speedy tempo’d song (Between the Buried and Me or Blitzkid for me), and you will appreciate the power of music.
HOW MUCH: $46
GOOD FOR: Anyone!
Omron Body Composition Monitor
WHAT: This scale measures weight, body fat percentage, BMI, visceral fat (ninja fat hidden under your organs), and more. I used this scale to track my progress once-a-week during my fat-loss experience. If you are a body-builder, you should NOT use this; otherwise, it is a great tool to hold you accountable.
HOW MUCH: $62
GOOD FOR: Anyone who has a long journey ahead of them.
<a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Sundesa-BB28-MC01-BlenderBottle-28-Ounce-BlenderBall/dp/B0018G4ZEW/ref=sr_1_1?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1322516443&sr=1-1”>Blender Bottle</a>
WHAT: A portable bottle for your favorite work-out shake. Trainers debate on the best time for a post-weight-training shake. Before your workout? During? After? The difference is minor and only matters to the advanced trainer, but with this bottle you can have all THREE. I drink a mix of skim milk, whey protein, chopped banana, and frozen berries before my workout. Then I use a carb and protein mixture with water during the workout. Last I drink one more mix of casein (slow-digesting) protein, and fruit with a fish oil pill and multi-vitamin. If you are a newbie, you don’t need to take it this far… I get the most “boost” out of drinking my shake during my workout, but do what is most convenient.
HOW MUCH: $7
GOOD FOR: Gym rats, busy/on-the-go people, “OH CRAP I’M LATE FOR WORK” breakfast repair, etc.
I hope you find this list useful in buying for the health-conscious in your life. Let me know if you have any questions about potential presents for your peeps.
My next post will be the first in a series for skinny guys and gals desiring muscle tone.