Incorporating Fitness into your Lifestyle

Joseph Benevento: Everyone needs to incorporate fitness into their daily lifestyle. Sedentary people are at greater risk for heart and cardiovascular problems, joint problems, and diabetes. Staying in shape means that you will live longer and be more satisfied with your daily life.

 

Starting Fresh

It can be daunting to start a fitness plan. Rather than going all in, it’s a good idea to start slow and to work your way up to a more rigorous schedule . First, try incorporating more movement into your daily routine. Stand as much as possible when you would normally sit. Do exercises while you are watching TV. Take the stairs instead of the elevator at work. Incorporate stretches and strength moves throughout the day, like squatting when you pick something up off the floor. These little changes can add up to a great start on your healthier lifestyle.

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How To Train Like The Military

Physical fitness is an essential and mandatory aspect of military training. Building a strong and functional physique is key in developing an able Soldier, Airman, Sailor or Marine. But if you’re interested in military-style training, as a former Navy SEAL, I can give you a few of the common workouts I encountered during my time on the beaches and asphalt Physical Training areas in Coronado.

So below are some helpful tips on how to train like you’re in the military.

Ditch the Weights

Well, not entirely and not for good. But the first several months of SEAL training don’t involve traditional weight training at all. Aside from Log PT and boat crew workout sessions with a small boat you hold over your head, the majority of training involves body weight exercises. Classic calisthenics like push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, flutter-kicks laying on your back (and seated), dips and running consist of the majority of the basic exercises I’ve encountered. Doing massive amounts of those exercises will certainly get you lean and you’d be surprised the amount of muscle you build as well.

However, the addition of multi-joint exercises (kettlebell swings, squats, deadlifts, bench and overhead press, etc.) as well as explosive calisthenics are a great way to add additional strength and build a great lean physique. Incorporating these movements into circuits or HIIT workouts are a phenomenal way to burn calories and get your body to a metabolic state.

Don’t Cut Cardio

Cardio is something that many people often neglect. Even people who are actively engaged in weightlifting can often forget the importance of their cardiovascular health. But the truth is, cardio is absolutely crucial to military fitness. In the service, you want to build a physique that allows you to trek long distances while still carrying heavy weight. You want to make sure you can run inclines without collapsing, and climb obstacles like walls and fences while carrying that same weight. But more than that, you want to make sure that your heart is healthy.

The truth is, cardiovascular health is more important than how you look in the outside and hitting the weights while neglecting the sometimes tedious and always exhausting nature if cardio may get you out of the gym early, but it also may get you out of this life early.

Quality over Quantity

It’s really not that impressive to bang out half-squats with heavy weight. I’d rather see folks complete full squats with a manageable and difficult weight for them than watch as they barely lower themselves a few inches before they grunt and groan and count that as a successful rep. This same statement applies to every exercise. Instead of going for an ‘impressive’ number of reps or a certain amount of weight, try to focus on getting the most out of each motion. Having a nice and controlled eccentric and concentric movement will not only help you build muscle more effectively, but it will also help build better form and stronger muscles.

Military-style workouts are a great way to push yourself both physically and mentally. If you employ some of the steps above, you’ll find yourself looking and feeling better.

Joseph Benevento originally published this article on JosephBenevento.org

Fitness Transformation Progress – Gym Jones

It’s been almost 7 weeks of training, 6 days a week, at Gym Jones—I’ve also been eating a reasonably healthy diet. Since my first workout over here at Gym Jones in April, my weight has dropped significantly from 200 pounds to the low 180s. So, I wanted to take the opportunity to share some of my personal journey and info about my progress on my blog.

I first heard of Gym Jones several years ago… in the Special Operations community, you eventually hear of their workouts, which were often compared to CrossFit. They both use similar equipment like dumbbells, kettlebells, row machines, gymnastics rings, exercises with a barbell, sled pushes, etc, yet I always remember Gym Jones workouts spoken of as a “next level” fitness program.

Naturally, I avoided them…haha. I think the first couple Gym Jones routines I experienced were 2-3 minutes of 30 second intervals of overhead dumbbell push presses, followed by a 30 seconds overhead dumbbell holds. I don’t recall the weight but I do remember thinking it sounded pretty easy… I quickly realized I was very mistaken. Another seemingly easy workout was 400m of 5x leg lunges with a 45 pound bar followed by 5x push presses with the bar – without putting the bar down.

Once again, I was extremely relieved when it was over.

Fast forward several years toward the end of my 12 years in the Navy — I found it increasingly difficult to hold myself to a strict workout program and I signed up for an online membership to the Gym Jones website, which gave me access to a variety of fitness programs. I had already seen the movie 300 and recently watched Man of Steel, both of which Gym Jones had an integral part in the physical and mental training for the cast… so naturally I selected the “Movie” training plan, ha!

A few shorts weeks later my travels had an upcoming layover in Salt Lake City, where Gym Jones is located, so I got in touch with the primary trainers (Hutch, Jason and Michael) and mentioned while I was in town I’d love to stop by to see the place I’d heard so much about. They enthusiastically agreed, and casually aka ominously informed me I should bring some shoes and workout clothes.

Here’s a breakdown of the workout:

After a 10 minute warm up with a row machine and AirDyne, one of the regular athletes and I began 6 rounds of:

10 push press w/ 25# dumbbells

10 cal ski erg

10 KB swings w/ 24kg

10cal assault bike

10 ring pulls

10 cal row

10 ball slams w/ 20#

**Done with a continuously running clock. Each exercise begins every minute on the minute, and after each round you increase by 1 rep or calorie. So, by round 6 your rests are shorter because you’re doing 16 reps or cals / minute.

After I had a couple minutes to catch my breath and chug water from the faucet (rookie move not bringing a water bottle), I was allowed to embarrass myself with a 1-minute max effort on the assault bike. I think I got a whopping 34 calories, which I’ve since seen Jason complete in under 17 seconds… I’m positive my 10-minute cool down on the AirDyne was focused on maintaining consciousness and regaining the color in my face.

My late May separation date from the Navy was quickly approaching and my next career was not supposed to begin until October. I made the decision to train at Gym Jones in Salt Lake City for the interim four months so I focused my remaining four weeks in San Diego on increasing my physical fitness so I would be ready to hit the ground running in slightly better shape.

I arrived in SLC on June 5th and started training at the gym regularly beginning the next morning. I’ve since attended a Gym Jones Fundamentals Seminar and am grateful to have the opportunity to train along world-class athletes and extremely fit regulars that push me on a daily basis. The owner of the gym, Lisa Boshard, is one of the kindest people you could meet and I can honestly say this has been one of the best summers of my life.

I’m kind of anti-“shirtless selfies” but even in the photos below you can see a drastic change in my body type and composition.

April 12, 2018

June 30, 2018

Hope you enjoyed reading the article, stay tuned for more updates in the future! Although I’m not a licensed physical trainer, physical therapist, nutritionist or any other fitness-related expert, I’m more than open to share my personal experiences in future blog posts. Send me a message and let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d like me to write about! View more information about the gym at GymJones.com

Joseph Benevento originally published this article on JosephBenevento.org

A Guide To Intermittent Fasting

If you’ve spent any amount of time on the internet, then the chances of inadvertently stumbling across an advertisement about the latest fad of intermittent fasting. “I have a snack in the morning, crush workouts and eat everything in sight for a few hours and look like this.” Yeah, we get it. I have a feeling metabolism and your fitness regimen has something to do with how you look in addition to your diet. That said, many physical trainers will often say “abs start in the kitchen.”

So, what’s the best plan? Intermittent fasting? Paleo? Keto? Small meals throughout the day? Honestly, I think everyone should give these different options a shot and see what works best for their health and physique.

Let’s take a deeper look.

Intermittent fasting promises the ability to skip meals then binge eat more than you would typically choose to do (i.e., more variety than a chicken breast and kale) while still slimming down and increasing lean muscle mass. Is this possible? Well, yes and no. The scientific benefits of fasting are numerous, and while some claim there is more research to do on the subject, the studies and anecdotal evidence so far are quite convincing.

The idea is this: fasting for 12-16 hours allows the individual to consume more calories during the meals they generally want to eat more at (lunch and dinner) while cutting out any unnecessary calories. And while there’s a bit more science behind the ‘why’ of fasting – fasted cardio taps into fat reserves quicker and kick-starts your body’s usage of ketones – I want to focus a bit more on how the non-fitness enthusiast typically views fasting throughout the average day. If you think about it, intermittent fasting works a bit off of common sense.

Eating less of the foods you don’t care about will allow you to eat more of the foods you truly like. And since it’s easier to eat 1,500 calories over the course of two meals instead of one, fasting can allow you to feel fuller and more satisfied by actually cutting your caloric intake. And this is where it comes back around to calories in vs. calories out.

A Simple Path with Multiple Roads?

If you burn more calories than your take in, you will lose weight. Is that a bit of an oversimplified answer? Yes. But the core message stands true. If you want to shed a few pounds, the only way to do so is to figure out your maintenance (how many calories you can take in and not gain weight) and then burn more than that. Exercise, a relatively clean diet, and lower caloric intake will do this. Do you have to use the intermittent fasting lifestyle to do this? No. But for some, it may help.

The bottom line is this: there are multiple techniques to achieve fat loss and muscle growth. But you’re not going to gain muscle if you never work out and you’re not going to lose weight if you always overeat, regardless of what dietary lifestyle you choose to follow.

I’ll conclude this post with a personal story while I was in the military. I’d recently returned home from a deployment and just wasn’t in the mood to maintain a regular fitness regimen, plus the high-calorie Cali or Breakfast Burritos in Southern California are unbelievable. I also lived in a very party-friendly part of town, so it was easy to go out for a drink or 10 whenever I wanted— which was often. I definitely gained some not-so-wanted weight. I got to the point where I was still hungry after devouring a 1500-calorie burrito (I don’t have the exact nutrition facts to support that, but these are basically like little human babies. Who knows, they could have even been more than 1500 cal). So, of course I just started ordering two of them at a time, ha!

I gained an extra 25-30 lbs and an opportunity arose to deploy for 3 months overseas at a place that was at 6,600 ft. elevation. Prior to my departure, I was tipping the scales over 200 lbs, the heaviest I’ve been in my life. By the time I returned home I weighed 175. What changed? I didn’t drink alcohol, I ate relatively healthy during normal chow hall hours and exercised at least 6 days a week – over 25 lbs gone in 90 days. So if you think you’re in need of a change, cut out the partying, eat healthy, get some solid workouts in and don’t forget to get plenty of rest.

Joseph Benevento originally published this article on JosephBenevento.org

Meditation in Motion: Exercise and Its Effects On Mental Health

There are plenty of great reasons to exercise; the confidence, mental fortitude, and stress relief it brings is something you can’t find anywhere else. And while the change in physique is often the end goal for many who partake in any rigorous activity, we shouldn’t understate the immense benefits that exercise and working out has on mental health.

So, let’s break it down and look into a few reasons why you shouldn’t merely workout to achieve a six-pack by summer, but do so to incorporate a consistent and healthy lifestyle that fosters mental health, clarity, and strength.

Thinking Fit

Studies suggest the parts of the brain that control memory and thinking have more volume in people who workout than people who don’t. In fact, neurologist, Dr. Scott McGinnis, has concluded that people who maintain an active lifestyle over the course of six months can develop more volume in certain regions of the brain—this is where it gets interesting. A decrease in brain size occurs by about five percent every decade after the age of 40. So, by maintaining an active lifestyle, you can essentially reverse the aging process of the brain.

When you exercise, you produce a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which experts now think may help prevent the natural deterioration of the brain. And while the research is not conclusive, this process may help prevent neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Exercise and Stress Relief

Anyone who has endured any intense activity for any amount of time is aware of the incredible anxiety-eliminating benefits it has to offer. When you exercise, your body releases a chemical known as endorphins, which are essentially your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. Popularly known as a ‘runner’s high,’ this sense of elation is found in any form of exercise that requires a pump up of your brain’s endorphins.

As you exercise, it’s important to focus on each movement and motion. This can help reset your brain and provide clarity and focus throughout the day. Have you ever felt stressed and went for a run, only to come back after with a newfound sense of mental toughness perspective? Think of it as something of a brain reset, and it’s vital an individual’s overall well-being.

Developing and sticking to a healthy lifestyle is not always easy, but it’s certainly worth it. The next time you are anxious or feeling overwhelmed, try going for a jog, lifting some weights, or hiking a trail. It may be the reset you need to keep pushing forward stronger than ever.

Joseph Benevento originally published this article on JosephBenevento.org

Travel and Train: How to Wander and Still Workout

Every now and then we find ourselves in need of nice getaway. It’s true, vacation can do good for the soul. But the sad truth is it doesn’t always bode as well for the body. But that doesn’t have to be the case. With the rising popularity of HIIT workouts and circuit-style exercises, there’s really no excuse to skip a workout.

But what if you’re craving something a bit more exotic for your vacation workout? What if you don’t want to spend hours in the hotel gym with the site of crashing waves and golden beaches sitting just out of reach. There’s no reason you can’t explore the lay of the land, learn the lingo of the local, and still get a new and exciting workout in all at once. So, to help you break out of the everyday box of normal exercises, below are a few great exercise routines to try while traveling.

Muay Thai on the Beach

Muay Thai is gaining increasing exposure in United States. Known as “the art of eight limbs”, this unique combat sport is a great way to get shredded, learn some self defense, and improve both physical and mental agility. If you happen to vacation this Summer to the beautiful beaches of Thailand, some higher end hotels have started offering this combat sport as an alternative to the standard hotel gym. In fact, some hotels have begun to offer a personal coach and a ring to encourage tourists to try this excellent blend of anaerobic and aerobic exercises.

Log Lifting in Zanzibar

If you’re looking for something that gets you a bit more in touch with the wilderness, some people have found the beautiful getaway of East Africa’s Zanzibar to be the perfect fit. Health and Fitness Travel offers a package that includes log lifting, sand dune running, and boxing in a coconut grove. It’s truly a unique experience that blends the push for new and innovative fitness techniques with something that feels completely natural, all the while providing the childlike joy of running and exploring the outdoors.

Meditation and Yoga in the Himalayas

If the previous workouts are something that sound a bit too strenuous during your time away, then yoga and meditation in the hills on India may be for you. Kumaon is the ideal dream destination for anyone seeking to develop their novice yoga experience into something more. A guided tour by Shakti Himalaya is offered with a hike up the mountain complete with in-house teachers and pauses for yoga and meditation along the journey. For those willing to splurge, there’s even the option of a private chef along the hike.

Working out in new and exciting ways is an excellent way to reinvigorate your passion for exercise and expand your ideas of how you can achieve a healthy mind and body. Next time you’re planning a vacation and are concerned with how you will get your workout in, try to find unique spots the locals use to switch up their routine, and give it a try. It may be the reset in your exercise regimen you need.

Joseph Benevento originally published this article on JosephBenevento.org