Scottsdale, AZ – Lucas James, Celebrity Personal Trainer has officially launched ”Shape Up for Spring” GIVEAWAY!! One lucky winner will receive a brand new iPad mini, PLUS a 12-week custom workout program & personalized healthy meal plan!
At Lucas James Personal Training we focus on promoting healthy lifestyle planning through comprehensive fitness, nutrition and wellness programs. Since there are multiple components involved in creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it’s important to have ample medical and health history information to most accurately assess an individuals’ personal strengths, weaknesses and goals for fitness and health.
While a basic diet and fitness program can help you set general guidelines for proper nutrition and healthy physical activity, it is more beneficial to have in-depth medical history information, anthropometric data and even diagnostic testing to create a truly customized and effective training program.
Our programs focus on altering daily health behaviors by incorporating one-on-one personal training and nutrition consulting along with customized nutrition and exercise plans. When creating our individualized programs there are a few health and medical diagnostic tests that will enable us to provide you with the most accurate and effective program for accomplishing your unique health and fitness goals.
For all our clients we determine: Body Fat Percentage, Total Body Weight, BMI and Body Weight Composition, Body Measurements, Blood Pressure Resting Heart Rate & Appropriate Heart Rate Exercise Zones, General Caloric Intake, Strength & Conditioning levels, and Flexibility – Range of Motion.
Each piece of data helps us to paint a more detailed picture of your current health status and in turn design a more comprehensive exercise and diet program that is safe, effective and easy to adhere to. Much of this data will help us to create an effective personalized nutrition plan and determine what type of exercise, at what intensity level is most efficient for helping you burn fat and carbohydrates.
Comprehensive Health Diagnostic Testing:
- For Endurance Athletes & Individuals with Respiratory Problems: VO2Max Testing & Oxygen Saturation Tests can provide information about the maximum oxygen capacity of an individual and their ability to transport and use oxygen during varied exercise intensities. This ultimately reflects their level of physical fitness, which is related to the efficiency of one’s body. Similarly, oxygen saturation tells us how well your blood cells are able to transport oxygen to your body tissues, and therefore your ability to fuel your body tissues with the necessary amount of oxygen to stay alive.
- For Individuals with Cardiovascular Disease or Circulation Problems: Stress Tests and Full Lipid Profile | Cholesterol Testing (HDL, LDL , TC) can provide information about the heart’s ability to respond to external stress induced by exercise or drug stimulation. Cardiac stress tests compare coronary circulation at rest with circulation during maximum physical exertion. This ultimately helps identify any abnormal blood flow to the heart’s muscle tissue. Lipid & Cholesterol testing is important for determining an individual’s risk factor for cardiovascular disease. These measures include LDL (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, referred to as “bad” cholesterol), HDL (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, referred to as “good” cholesterol) Triglycerides (fat molecules from the foods we consume that are found in blood ).
- For individuals pre-diabetic conditions or diabetes: Glucose testing and Insulin sensitivity testing can provide information on how well your body can use the sugar or carbohydrates you eat to fuel your muscle tissues and cells. Insulin resistance is a physiological condition that occurs with diabetes where the insulin hormone is less effective at lowering blood sugar levels due to a decrease in function or a decrease in insulin production. The resulting rise in blood glucose levels outside the normal range can cause adverse health effects.
- With Competitive Athletes or Individuals with Compromised health: A Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP) consisting of a panel of tests and gives your physician or team of healthcare professionals important information in regards to an individuals’ current kidney function, liver function, electrolyte and acid/base balance as well as of blood sugar and blood protein levels. Each of these tests and biomarkers helps to provide a comprehensive evaluation of how well your body is functioning internally, in terms of metabolism and growth, and in response to any disease state.
Whether you are fifteen or fifty, depending on your lifestyle and family’s history of disease, you may be at increased risk for specific medical conditions or currently suffering from ailments without even being aware of the causes.
While proper nutrition and adequate physical activity are both important components of preventative health and maintaining a healthy body, there are other factors, both environmental and genetic, which affect our overall health. Since illnesses, diseases, and nutritional deficiencies can often exhibit similar symptoms, it can be difficult to determine what the exact cause of a specific problem is.
Whether you’ve displayed specific signs or symptoms of a disease and are looking to determine the cause, or simply want to assess your current state of health, the most reliable option for evaluating disease, deficiencies or illness is through medical diagnostic testing. There are a variety of testing methods and equipment used to diagnose specific medical ailments or conditions, each unique to the particular problem and affected body system.
The application of a ‘routine medical testing’, such as blood sampling, is typically for broad diagnostic purposes. For example if you are admitted to the emergency room with various symptoms of illness but no apparent cause, doctors will run a panel of tests and blood work to obtain a general profile of your health. Standard diagnostic tests are used as a baseline for medical practitioners to establish medical diagnosis. These tests are usually non-invasive or minimally invasive, involving biological samples testing using either blood or urine. There are however, other various diagnostic procedures used to identify and diagnose specific disease, illness, deficiencies or hampered organ and body function.
- Kidney Function: Involves a urinalysis diagnostic test for routine urine examination to identify abnormal cells, debris, bacterial infection, and bio-chemicals that are indicative of various illnesses. A urine culture can be created from the urine sample to grow a larger bacteria colony in a controlled laboratory environment to diagnose any bacterial urine infections.
- Skin Cancer Screening: Involves a semi-invasive procedure where physicans take biopsies (skin samples) of abnormally appearing growths or areas of the skin in order to detect cancerous cells, precancerous cells, infections, and other abnormal skin conditions. There are both needle biopsies, used to take a small sample of the area in interest to test, and more surgical procedures to remove tumors where abnormal areas of the skin are removed to test for cancer or other skin disease.
- Lung Function: The most important indicator of body oxygenation is Oxygen Saturation testing. This is an indication of how well your blood cells are transporting oxygen to the rest of your body i.e. organs, muscles etc. Your red blood cells must carry sufficient oxygen to your body tissues to you’re your alive. Normal O2 saturation is 95%-100%. Individuals with lung disease or other respiratory conditions will have either fewer red blood cell production or inhibited function resulting in decreased oxygen saturation
- Heart Function: Stress tests are among the best diagnostic tools for diagnosing heart disease, as well as a useful method for estimating the risk of developing heart disease in individuals with heightened risk factors such as hyperlipidemia or high cholesterol. In order to determine how efficient your heart function is, i.e. how hard your heart has to work to send blood to the rest of your body, physicians will implement a stress test, also known as a ‘treadmill test’ or ‘exercise tolerance test’. This measurement indicates if your heart is receiving enough blood flow and oxygen when working under stress, such as during exercise. Stress tests are often given to individuals experiencing chest pain or other symptoms of cardiovascular disease, based on previous medical examination and EKG monitoring. The test can also be used as a means for continual assessment during treatments for heart disease to gauge the safety of a prescribed exercise program.
- Cholesterol Testing & Lipids profile: is a simple blood test that assesses your high-density Lipoprotein levels (HDL) or ‘Good Cholesterol’, Low-density Lipoprotein level (LDL) or ‘Bad Cholesterol’ and total blood triglyceride levels (fat). Each of these are indicators of high cholesterol and fat which when elevated, are risk factors for various metabolic diseases and cardiovascular disease.
- Body / Cellular Inflammation: (Hs-CRP) testing through blood samples, measures C-reactive protein levels which when elevated are indicative of body inflammation. Inflammation doesn’t necessarily mean a swollen body, but is a general measure of disease due to bacterial, viral, fungal infections and general body stress due to a diseased state. For example, individuals with cancer often have elevated CRP levels due to the stress on their body cells.
- Liver function: Can be tested by examining the levels of specific enzymes that are indicative of liver damage. For example, ALT and AST are biomarkers of liver injury measured through blood testing. Both levels are elevated with damage to the liver and reduced liver function.
- Diabetes: A diabetic state is typically determined by blood glucose & insulin resistance testing. Both types of the disease will cause hampered insulin function. Type-I diabetes is a genetic disorder where the pancreatic beta-cells that create our bodies insulin are impaired. Due to the lack of functioning insulin, our body can’t take sugar from the blood to our organs and muscles to use as energy. With type-II diabetes, poor diet causes hampered insulin efficiency and a similar end effect. When specific conditions are concerned, such as inhibited blood flow due to capillary deterioration of the eyes, doctors can see changes in the blood vessels with a special test called fluorescein angiography. During this test, a chemical will temporarily make the blood vessels fluorescent to show any leaks. In terms of decreased eye function, the substance can be injected into an arm or hand while during an eye examination.
- Back/ Spine/ Nervous system: An MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a noninvasive technique used in visualizing different body tissues. An MRI of the spine can reveal any abnormalities in the vertebral discs, nerves, spinal cord, and surrounding back muscles. A benefit of MRI use is that it does emit any radiation. It functions by using radio waves, magnetic fields and computer processing to create in-depth images. MRI pictures are created from multiple segmented slides or slices, forming a cross-section of the area being viewed. Due to the spacing of the image slices, doctors get detailed representation of a particular area with the advantage of a scaled map.
- Bone Density/ Osteoporosis- Both men and women older than 50 will typically begin to lose bone thickness and density as they age. Exercise and various nutritional interventions and pharmaceutical treatments can help prevent and even restore bone loss. When bones are thin the condition is reffered to as osteopenia. When they are severely thin and structurally compromised the condition is called osteoporosis. A test called bone densitometry can use x-rays to determine the thickness and strength of your bones for diagnosis. There are different types of equipment and x-ray scanners such as dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and radiographic absorptiometry. However, there are also other methods that do not use x-rays such as quantitative ultrasound. These measurement are important because bone density tests provide a precise measure of whether you have osteopenia or osteoporosis.
- Gastro-Intestinal – To examine any upper GI disorder a barium swallow or upper GI series is performed. An x-ray test is used to examine the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. It can be useful for diagnosing G.I cancers, ulcers, narrowing of the esophagus, and some instances of inflammation in the intestine. Swallowing liquid barium allows for contrast on the x-rays. The barium temporarily coats the lining of the upper GI tract, making the outline of these organs visible on the x ray.
- Anemia & Vitamin Deficiencies: People with anemia have fewer red blood cells than normal. In vitamin related anemia, related to a lack of vitamin B-12 and folate, red blood cells appear large and underdeveloped. In advanced deficiencies, the other components of whole blood, white blood cells and platelets, appear abnormal under microscope inspection as well. Since Folate and vitamin B-12 deficiencies can exhibit similar symptoms, they are both measured simultaneously.
When sports supplements, vitamins and protein powders are concerned there’s a lot of misinformation and false marketing aimed at increasing product sales. It’s important to note that you can achieve any and all of your fitness goals, even the seemingly unattainable ones, through a natural diet and proper fitness training program. To give you an idea of the right types of foods to eat, our nutrition expert at Lucas James Personal Training in Scottsdale, Arizona weighs-in on the benefits and effects of consuming a high protein diet for both weight-loss and lean muscle gains. We’ve even included some delicious chicken recipes and high-protein vegetarian options to help you on your way to a leaner body!
While goals for weight-loss and gaining lean muscle might seem like two completely opposite concepts, they’re actually quite similar processes. Physiologically, the more lean muscle you have, the easier it is for your body to burn fat. Vis-vera, the less fat you have, the easier it is for your body to metabolize the foods you eat and build more dense, leaner muscle tissue. Current research also suggests that protein may satisfy hunger better than both fats and carbohydrates.
With either fitness goal in mind, eating a high protein diet will help you both burn fat and reduce your body weight, while helping support lean muscle growth, weight loss, and reduce muscle catabolism or breakdown.
Aside from its dietary functions, our bodies use protein at all stages of growth and development throughout our lives for a variety of bodily processes. Protein is a major component in all body cells, including both muscle tissue and bones. It is also a crucial component of our immune systems, helping to fight off infection and protect our bodies.
In terms of eating too much protein, there are no real dangers associated with high protein intake unless you have specific digestive problems or kidney disease. If this is the case, the high nitrogen content found in protein can place added stress on an already damaged kidney filtration system. Too much protein can have side effects if it comprises too large a part of your total diet, causing gastro-intestinal disorders or problems with proper nutrient absorption. Keeping this in mind, protein is important, especially for weight loss and healthy muscle growth, but so are carbohydrates and fats within a balanced diet.
The best sources for protein are typically lean meats, but also include plant sources such as tofu, beans, soy, nuts, saitan and quinoa. For animal protein sources we suggest incorporating foods such as chicken breast, lean fish such as Tuna, ‘fatty’ Omega-3 fish such as salmon, egg whites, turkey, skim dairy products, shrimp, veal or lean cuts of pork. Depending on your dietary preferences you might decide to eat only a few of these options, but all will provide you with healthy helpings of protein! However, not all sources of protein are equal. Here’s a list from the United States Department of Agriculture describing the differences in amounts for some of the foods listed above.
Grams of Protein
1 ounce meat, fish, poultry
1 large egg
4 ounces milk
4 ounces low-fat yogurt
4 ounces soy milk
3 ounces tofu, firm
1 ounce cheese
1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup cooked kidney beans
1/2 cup lentils
1 ounce nuts
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1/2 cup vegetables
1 slice bread
1/2 cup of most grains/pastas
There are no real dangers associated with high protein intake unless you have specific digestive problems or kidney disease. Too much protein can have side effects. If they take up too large a part of your diet it can cause gastro-intestinal disorders the likes of which you have never seen. The chances of consuming too much protein is typically unlikely, but it’s always important to consult your physician or dietician before starting any new diet.
The main concern with high protein diets is a lack of carbohydrates. When there’s an insufficient carbohydrate intake, you have a drop in blood sugar and your body if forced to convert stored glycogen or sugar from the liver and muscles to its usable form. The main issue is that this process known as ‘gluconeogenesis’ results in muscle breakdown. Another concern is that high-protein diets are often high in saturated fat as well from animal sources such as red meat. For this reason, its important to limit the amount of red meat you eat to 2-3 times a week maximum, while focusing on leaner sources of protein.
Here are a few healthy, high-protein, low-fat chicken recipes:
This baked honey mustard chicken makes such a simple yet delicious everyday low fat chicken dish. It also uses few ingredients, ones that you’ll likely have in your pantry already. Serve with some rice and your favorite vegetables.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp canola oil
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 4 six-ounce chicken breasts
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place a rack on top and spray with cooking spray.
-Combine honey, mustard, oil, curry powder, and pepper in a small bowl. Brush chicken pieces all over with the honey mustard mixture, then place chicken breasts on the rack.
-Bake for 25-30 minutes, turning half way through. Baste every 10 minutes or so with the remaining honey mustard glaze.
Per serving: Calories 268, Calories from Fat 52, Total Fat 5.9g (sat 2.2g), Cholesterol 82mg, Sodium 483mg, Carbohydrate 21g, Fiber 0.3g, Protein 32.9g
Here’s a simple summer chicken w/ tomatoes recipe that makes the most of fresh tomatoes and basil, and a generous dose of garlic. I like to use the punnets of mini heirloom tomatoes or at least a mix of red and yellow cherry or grape tomatoes.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes
- 4 5-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to an even thickness
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ounce basil, slivered
- 8 ounces cherry tomatoes
-Preheat broiler and spray pan briefly with nonstick cooking spray
-Place chicken breasts on broiler pan.
-Whisk oil, vinegar and garlic together
-Brush half of vinaigrette on to chicken breasts, and sprinkle half the slivered basil on top of chicken.
-Broil 5-6 minutes, then turn over. Brush second side with remaining vinaigrette and sprinkle remaining basil.
-Add tomatoes to broiler pan, surrounding chicken.
-Broil for 5-6 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
Serving: Calories 198, Calories from Fat 48, Total Fat 5.4g (sat 1g), Cholesterol 82mg, Sodium 98mg, Carbohydrate 4g, Fiber 1.1g, Protein 33.5g
This low fat baked chicken and rice dish has become a staple in our house. It’s quick and easy to prepare, and the whole family will eat it.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
- 4 5-6 ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup long grain rice, uncooked
- 1 1/2 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 3 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped (1/2 a six-ounce bag)
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
-Place chicken breasts in a single layer in baking dish that can accommodate the chicken in one layer.
-Combine uncooked rice, chicken broth, tomatoes, onion, garlic and oregano in a medium bowl. Stir in chopped spinach. Spoon mixture over chicken. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 35-40-minutes, until chicken is cooked through (165 degrees f) and rice is tender.
Per Serving: Calories 372, Calories from Fat 23, Total Fat 2.5g (sat 0.6g), Cholesterol 82mg, Sodium 266mg, Carbohydrate 48.3g, Fiber 3.8g, Protein 38.9g
Here’s some High-Protein Vegetarian Recipes:
This Mexican casserole recipe is a one dish vegetarian casserole perfect for those busy nights. You can get this meatless vegetarian enchilada baked Mexican casserole in the oven in just a few minutes. A simple Mexican-inspired meal the whole family Ingredients:
- 2 cups chopped onion, fresh or frozen
- 1 1/2 cups chopped red pepper, fresh or frozen
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3/4 cup salsa
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 15.8 ounce cans black beans, drained
- 12 6-inch corn tortillas
- 2 cups Monterey Jack and Cheddar blend cheese shredded
- 3 tomatoes chopped (optional)
- 1/2 cup sour cream (optional)
- 1/2 cup sliced black olives (optional)
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Combine onion pepper, garlic, salsa, cumin and black beans in large skillet and bring to simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently for 3 minutes.
-Arrange 6 tortillas in bottom of 9″ x 13″ baking dish overlapping them as necessary. -Spread half of bean mixture over tortillas and sprinkle with half of cheese. Repeat layering process with remaining tortillas, bean mixture and cheese.
-Cover dish with foil and bake 15 minutes. Carefully remove foil and serve warm.
-Garnish with tomatoes, sour cream and olives.
Makes 8 servings of Mexican enchilada casserole.
Nutritional Information per Serving: (excluding optional ingredients)
Fat: 11.5 grams
Fiber: 21.4 grams
Cholesterol: 25 mg
Protein: 34.9 grams
Vitamin A: 24% , Vitamin C: 51%, Calcium: 40%, Iron: 39%
Easy Whole Wheat Vegetarian Lasagna. Make your lasagna just a bit healthier by using this recipe, which calls for whole wheat lasagna noodles and spinach. Even though it uses whole wheat noodles, this Italian spinach lasagna is incredibly rich and creamy as it uses plenty of mozzarella, Parmesan, and low-fat cottage cheese. Recipe courtesy of the Wheat Foods Council.
- 1 8 ounce package whole wheat lasagne noodles, cooked slightly (al dente)
- 1 9 ounce package frozen raw spinach
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 eggs
- 3 cups low-fat cottage cheese
- 3 cups pre-made or store-bought pasta sauce
- 3 cups grated low-moisture part skim mozzarella cheese
-Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
-In medium mixing bowl, beat eggs; add cottage cheese and Parmesan cheese. Spray a 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
-Put one layer of slightly cooked lasagna noodles flat across the bottom of the baking dish. Add 1/2 the leaf spinach, pressing down lightly and evenly over noodles. Top with another layer of lasagna noodles. Top this layer of noodles with the cottage cheese mixture; add the remaining spinach. Then add the last of the lasagna noodles laid evenly on top of spinach. Spread pasta sauce evenly over the top; sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Press down lightly.
-Cover baking dish with foil, using foil sprayed with cooking spray and keeping foil off the center of the lasagna. Secure sides tightly over baking dish.
-Bake about 1 hour 15 minutes in oven. To lightly brown the top, remove foil for a few minutes at the end of baking time.
-Allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
Servings: Provides 10 servings
Calories/Serving: 373 calories/serving
Nutrition: One serving provides approximately: 373 calories, 33 g protein, 33 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 12 g fat (7 g saturated), 110 mg cholesterol, 142 mcg folate, 3 mg iron and 671 mg sodium.
Stability, Core & Resistance
*Exercise Ball Exercises: Seated Crunches, Side Crunches, Back Extensions, Stability Ball Shoulder Press, Stability Ball mountain climbers, Squat & Reach
Swiss / Stability Ball – The greatest benefit of training with a stability or swiss ball is that it helps target your core muscles that are essential for stability and flexibility. Another added bonus is that you can incorporate your stability ball with other equipment at your gym such as dumbbells, barbells and other free-weights to augment your typical workout.
*Kettle Bell Exercises: Dead Lift, Bent Row, Front Squat, Single Sided Ab Cross-over
Kettlebells, for as simple as they are, often look like intimidating pieces of equipment. However, they’re simple to use just like a regular dumbbell and actually make traditional dumbbell exercises more challenging. Since the weight in a kettlebell is not evenly distributed you are forced to engage accessory stabilization muscles to workout harder. Kettle bells can be used to target your arms, shoulders, back, gluts, and core muscles.
*Medicine Ball: JackKnife Crunches w Medicine Ball, Medicine Ball front squats, Russian Twists, Medicine Ball Abdominal-Toss, Wood-Choppers with Medicine Ball.
Like Kettlebells, medicine balls are weighted and can be used for a variety of exercises. They vary in weight depending on your intended use and proficiency. Medicine Balls are often used in tandem with core abdominal exercises to add resistance and increase muscle tone.
Resistance & Strength
*Resistance Band Exercises: Resistance Band Chest Flys (Incline, Flat & Decline), Tricep Extensions, Tricep Kick Backs, Bicep Curls, Reverse Back-Flys, Lat Pull-Throughs, Side Deltoid Raises, Front Deltoid Raises, Shoulder Press, Abductor Side Leg Raises, Squats, Lunges.
Resistance bands are widely used for both general strength and conditioning, as well as, rehabilitation and injury prevention. They are inexpensive and highly portable, making them ideal for exercising at home or within a circuit training routine to help condition your cardiovascular system. Since they are light-weight pieces of exercise equipment they are easy to travel with as well, so no excuses!
*Light Dumbbells: Core exercises with dumbbells braced between your feet or legs. (Hanging Leg or Knee raises), Bicep curls, Tricep extensions, Tricep kick-backs, front rows for your traps, Shoulder press, Shoulder Side and Front Raises, Lying chest flys and chest press.
Dumbbells are a great and versatile piece of equipment, but can be highly immobile and difficult to bring around if you need to be mobile. You can use them individually or together, depending on the exercise and your personal goals and preference. There are adjustable dumbbells available that allow you to manually adjust the weight and change between different exercises and movements. Most commonly however are fixed dumbbells of a specific weight that require you to spend money on additional sets of varied heaviness. A majority of Dumbbell exercises can be done just as easily with resistance bands, as noted above.
*Pads & Foam such as a Yoga Brick or Foam Roller: Exercises typically include stretching movements to elongate muscle fibers and help stretch your muscles. Some stretches are: Calf Stretch, shin stretch, hamstring stretch, gluts stretch, IT band stretch, quad stretch, lats-back-spine stretch.
Foam roller exercises are sometimes referred to as self-myofascial-release (SMR) exercises, because they can be used to relieve deep muscle tension without any assistance. SMR is a form of soft-tissue muscle therapy that helps reduce muscle pain and tension and increase range of motion. It is essentially a way to massage and stretch your while increasing your flexibility to allow for increased muscle fiber development and strength. Foam rollers are often used for injury rehabilitation as well.
*Cardio Machines & Exercise Bikes: Can be use for…you guessed it: Cardiovascular conditioning / endurance and toning.
Since Treadmills, Ellipticals and Exercise Bikes are quite expensive, they are typically the last piece of exercise equipment you’ll invest in, unless advised by a doctor. Even then, they are available for use at most sports and athletic clubs and gyms. Exercise Bikes are the best piece of cardio-equipment for building your leg muscles while engaging in cardio exercise. While you can increase the incline on a treadmill and resistance on an elliptical, you don’t quite get the isolation effect that you do from sitting on a bike. When exercising on any piece of cardio equipment, make sure to vary your routine, just as you would with resistance training. Try alternating between fast sprints and long medium paced intervals to confuse your muscles and increase your calorie burning potential!
High-End Fitness Equipment & Manufacturers:
When looking for high-end or professional fitness equipment, don’t be fooled…pay attention to the details! Machines might look similar but perform completely different! If you’re looking for an elliptical machine note that the Precor brand invented the Elliptical Fitness Cross trainer.
Keep your eyes open for ellipticals with:
*Adjustable incline – changing the degree /motion of your workout and therefore the way you’re targeting your muscles.
*Adjustable resistance – changing the degree of difficulty, increasing resistance allowing for a strength training effect.
*Electronic Features – such as a Heart Rate Monitor option & Calorie Counting function.
*A true ‘Elliptical motion’. Its important to note that the elliptical motion provides the truest simulation to walking and running available without impact force on your lower extremities. When trying a machine note the feel of the motion. Some machines may have a bad spot or ‘kick’ where your heel can come off of the platform. You want to avoid this bounce in your motion.
*Dependent upper body motion. Various machines will include upper body levers to add an upper body workout element. This can also help with stability and balance while cross training.
Treadmills are the most popular piece of fitness training equipment. Star Trac is a pioneer in new technologies for treadmill training such as integrated video screens with personalized digital trainers to take you through a cardio workout.
*Look for a 60 inch deck for runners with a wide stride.
*Nicer treadmills have a top speed of 12 mph and 12% maximum incline. They often have stronger motors with a longer lifespan than cheap models.
*Look for a prominent gauge luster with buttons you can read while engaging in exercise.
Choosing between McDonalds, Starbucks or Subway might be the toughest dietary choice you’ve had to make recently. But for the rest of us who struggle with interpreting the nutrition information and data on a nutrition facts label at the super market, it often feels like we’re reading an ancient manuscript. That’s why our expert nutritionist Jason Apfel, at Lucas James Personal Training, has broken down food labeling into a few simple steps so you can easily understand all that nutrition mumbo-jumbo!
If you’re concerned with maintaining a healthy body weight, the most important nutrition fact to note is proper serving size and portioning for each food or meal. With this in mind, the first place to look on the nutrition facts label is the serving size and the number of servings per package. Why is this so important? Well, while you may be eating healthy foods, it’s just as important to eat the right amount of food to ensure healthy weight maintenance, weight-loss or growth, all of which depend on your total daily calorie intake.
Remember, when you take in more calories than your burn throughout the day, even when engaging in exercise, you’ll gain weight. Vis-versa, if you eat less than you burn, you’ll loose weight. When weight-loss is concerned, you need to reduce your calories by a total of 3,500 calories per week, or 500 each day, to loose one pound of body weight. You can keep track of calories through noting the proper serving size on any food product package. Serving sizes are now standardized for similar foods to make it easy to compare like-products. The measure for serving size is even provided in the same units, such as cups or pieces per serving, to make items easier to compare. *American Heart Association Image
Aside from the obvious reasons, why is serving size important? It ultimately influences the listed amounts of everything else on the nutrition label such as carbohydrates, fat, protein etc. This is because the amount of each listed nutrient is based on the portion size. For example: the larger the portion, the more grams of each nutrient listed. Often foods that are unhealthy, such as butter or processed chips, have relatively small serving sizes to make them appear healthier than they are! Ask yourself “How many servings do I consume”? To help you keep track of calories.
When you hear the term ‘calories’ you may think amount weight. However, calories actually provide a measure of how much energy you receive from eating a given amount of a specific food. Calories come from the three main macronutrients Carbohydrates, Fats and Proteins, not from micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Each of the main macronutrients contains a different amount of energy or calories per gram. For example, carbohydrates and proteins contain 4 calories per gram while fats contain 9 calories per gram, making them more calorically dense. Aside from the biochemical structure of fats and the way they are metabolized, fats are ‘worse’ for us when weight-loss is concerned, because they contain more calories –making it harder to loose weight.
Some foods are also higher in calories than others. For example, fruits and vegetables tend to be lower in calories, especially fat, and are devoid of saturated fats found in animal products. Plant foods also typically contain more minerals and vitamins than animal products do. On the flip side, animal products such as milk and meat tend to be higher in protein content and important minerals such as iron and calcium.
Since calories are really a measure of energy, the calorie section of the label can help you manage your weight through energy balance as previously described. It’s crucial to remember that the number of servings and portion size you consume determines the actual number of calories you take in.
Nowadays, when deciding on your favorite restaurant and fast-food items the calorie content and even nutritional information is available on the menu depending on where you live. This may be startling, but recent legislation had required every large restaurant chain in the nation, including fast food chains, to provide caloric information on their menus and drive-throughs. This new federal law passed in 2011 by the Obama administration requires restaurant chains that are comprised of twenty or more locations to disclose the caloric content of their food items, as well as a description of the daily recommended calorie intake for a healthy person (~2000 calories per day. The legislation takes this one step further, requiring that vending machines also list the amount of calories in the food items they’re selling.
So next time you’re considering a Big-Mac at McDonalds, Frappucino from Starbucks, or tuna sub from Subway, you might just be staring down at a sign, reminding you how bad some of these food choices are.
Just how bad are some of these items & what should you eat instead? Well, just for fun we’ll fill you in!
AVOID- Their 6″ version of a Tuna Sammy has 530 calories and 31 grams of fat, and over 1000 mg of sodium (more than half your recommended daily intake).
The Healthiest Subway Options:
-6″ Ham Sub has 261 Calories, 4.5g fat, 17g protein and 39g carbs
-6″ Roast Beef has 264 Calories, 4.5g fat, 18 g protein and 39g carbs
-6″ Roasted Chicken Breast has 311 Calories, 6g fat, 25g protein and 40g carbs
-6″ Subway Club has 294 Calories, 5g fat, 22g protein and 40g carbs
-6″ Veggie Delight w/o cheese has 200 Calories, 2.5g fat, 7g protein and 37g carbs
-6″ Honey Mustard Turkey w/ Cucumber has 275 Calories, 3.5 g fat, 22g protein, 42g carbs.
AVOID – A Peppermint White Hot Chocolate has 730 calories, A Mint Chocolate-chip Frappucino has 680 calories, and a Tazzo Green Tea Frappucino even has 650 calories!
AVOID the Blueberry Scone with 460 calories and 22 grams of fat.
The Best coffee: Drip coffee has only 5 calories! A little extra if you decide to add a splash of dairy.
The Best breakfast selection: Starbuck’s ‘Perfect Oatmeal’ is fiber-packed with heart healthy oats and only has 140 calories. If you add their ‘Perfect Nut Medley’ containing almonds, pecans and walnuts add an additional 100 calories to the total.
AVOID – The Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese contains 740 Calories, 42g of fat (19g saturated fat) and 1380mg of sodium. Even their Grilled Chicken Club has 570 Calories, 21g of fat (7g saturated fat) and 1720mg sodium (almost a total day’s worth of sodium!!!)
The Healthiest McDonald Options are:
-The English Muffin with only 140 Calories, 2g Fat, 4g Protein and 25g Carbs
-The Chicken McGrill w/o mayo has 340 Calories, 7g Fat, 26g Protein and 45 g Carbs
-Their Hamburger has 280 Calories, 10g Fat, 12g Protein and 35g Carbs.
Finding the time to exercise while balancing a busy work schedule and personal life can often be both emotionally and physically draining. However, when your health is concerned, it’s important to prioritize and make time for a regular and consistent workout schedule. Figuring out how to workout, what kind of exercise is best and how much is enough can be a daunting and difficult task, especially if you’re not a fitness professional. For this reason at Lucas James Personal Training we’ve taken the guess-work out of creating a workout routine that best fits your daily routine, that you can do on the go and with minimal to no equipment. Here’s some of the best workouts and exercise routines for maintaining a healthy body and mind while still leaving time for family, friends, work and leisure.
-Lunges With your shoulders back, chest forward and back straight, step one leg forward into a lunge position. Make sure you’re on the ball of your back foot with your front foot flat on the ground in front of you. Drop your back knee straight down making sure the knee of your front leg does not come pass your the ankle. Pretend as if there is a wall directly in front of your torso making sure not to ‘lunge’ forward. The movement is a lunge straight down. After 15-20 reps on one leg, alternate sides. Remember to breath! Inhale on the downward movement and exhale on the way up.
-Squats With your back straight, shoulders back and chest forwards, step your feet out sideways – shoulder distance apart with a slight bend in your knees. ‘Sqaut’ straight down, maintaining a straight back, and sit into the squat as if you are about to rest on a small stool. As you squat downwards, raise both arms out in front of you for stability and to maintain proper posture. Remember to breath! Inhale on the downward movement and exhale on the way up.
-Push-ups Lying face down towards the floor, place your hands shoulder distance apart at chest level and feet making sure your body is perfectly inline. Keeping your back straight and hips level with your legs and torso press downwards towards the ground until your arms are bent at a ninety-degree angel. Push upwards back to your starting position. Remember to breath! Inhale on the downward movement and exhale on the way up.
-Vertical Jumps Starting in the ‘Squat’ position as described above, jump upwards, exploding off your feet using your quads and squeezing your gluts to propel you upwards. Jump as high as possible. Make sure to keep the intensity high, to increase your cardio-vascular endurance.
-Sit-ups / Crunches Lying in the prone position, bring your feet towards your gluts and plant them flat on the ground in front of you so that your legs are bent slightly. Resting with your hands crossed in front of your chest – crunch upwards, engaging your abs. Make sure to bring your shoulders and upper-back up off of the ground to ensure you are using your core muscles. Remember to breath! Exhale on the way up.
-Burpies This is a cardio-plyometric exercise comprised of two exercises mentioned above (push-ups and vertical leaps). Start by standing straight, drop down and kick out your feet into a push-up position, do one repetition, kick your feet inwards to your chest and stand up quickly, moving directly into a vertical leap, and explode upwards. This is one repetition. Repeat for a minute straight to get ample resistance and cardio training.
-High-knees End strong with one-minute of jogging in place, making sure to bring your knees up tight to your chest. Remember to get into a good rhythm and breath normally throughout the duration of the exercise. Make sure to time yourself!
- Workplace Workouts
Clearly you’ll reap more health and fitness benefits by exercising on your daily commute to work. If you ride the bus or take other public transit, try getting off a few stops earlier than usual and walk, jog or run the rest of the way. If you’re one of those people who just lives ‘too far’ and drives a car to work, try parking at a near by business or far away from your building in the parking lot and walk the rest of the way to your office. Keeping this in mind, always take the stairs no matter where you are rather than an elevator!
Stand more than you sit!
Your body burns more calories standing than it does sitting. If you’re on the phone in your office stand while talking. Even better, try pacing while you talk or even try static lunges in the same spot, alternating legs, while in your office.
Take a fitness break
There are many simple exercises you can perform at work without any fitness equipment at all. Some simple examples are:
-Wall-sits: 30 Seconds to 1 min or More! (Glutes & Legs)
-Desk Incline Push-Ups: As many as you can do at a time! (Chest & Arms)
-High-Knees: 30 seconds- 1 min So you don’t get too sweaty! (Cardio)
-Sit-Ups or Crunches: Until you feel the burn! (Core)
Try keeping simple fitness equipment at work.
If you need equipment to keep you motivated, try bringing an inexpensive resistance bands, small hand weights or a stability ball to work. Try doing bicep curls, tricep extensions and other exercises throughout the day. You can even trade in your office chair for a stability ball! Not only will you have an arsenal of fitness tools to keep you in shape during those short coffee breaks, but you’ll improve your balance and core strength by sitting on a swiss-ball behind your desk. You’ll be engaging in passive exercise and no-one will be the wiser. You can even use your swiss ball for wall squats, plie squats or throughout the day and power up before meetings!
- The Best Cardio Exercise Routine (Interval Training)
The majority of fitness journals and university research studies suggest working smarter not harder. This means exercise efficiently not for ridiculous amounts of time. When cardiovascular exercise is concerned this is especially true. Instead of going for a few short sprints or jogging for 20 miles, switch things up. By changing your resistance (incline) and speed throughout your cardio exercise you force your body to alternate between burning carbohydrates and fat for energy. Not only will this boost your metabolism, but increase the toning effect for your lower extremities! Also, you’ll spend less time on cardio, but reap the same benefit of long jogs! A simple twenty-one minute example of a cardio interval is:
Work Set: Increase speed and raise incline, resistance and/or ramps. You should be working harder and find it difficult to talk.
Rest Set: Back to Baseline
Work Set: Increase speed and raise incline, resistance and/or ramps.
Rest Set: Back to Baseline
Work Set: Increase speed and raise incline, resistance and/or ramps.
Cool down at a slow, easy pace
- The Most Efficient Workout (Full-Body Circuit Training)
If you can’t decided between cardio training and weight-lifting, do both! Circuit training is an easy way to workout a variety of muscle groups and is a simple way to get a quick total body workout by combining multiple forms of exercise. Circuit training helps to train for both cardiovascular endurance, promoting weight-loss and enhances resistance-training routines by elevating your heart rate throughout resistance exercise to help augment your muscle building potential and increase strength all at once. Circuit training forces our bodies to adapt to multiple forms of exercise and physical stress. A circuit workout is typically comprised of multiple exercises, training both your lower and upper body muscle groups through a series of repetition or time-based intervals with little to no rest in between each set. Each training circuit is normally repeated 3-4 times.
Here’s how to create an effective circuit training workout:
Guidelines from: http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/circuittraining.html
At Lucas James Personal Training, we know finding ab exercises and the right abs workout for a sick six pack and perfect lower abs can be tough. We also know that an abs diet can help you achieve the most shredded physique because nutrition is seventy-five to eighty percent of accomplishing any fitness goal, 6 pack abs included.
Here we’ll make it easy and give you the break down of the different muscles that form your abdominals, the best exercises for each group, the best ways to work-out your abs, as well as nutrition tips for cutting down the ‘ab-flab’ and burning that pesky belly fat.
- The Abdominal Muscles: Form & Function
When you hear the term ‘6-pack’ abs come to mind. But just like a case of beer, your abdominals are comprised of multiple muscle groups, each varying in function. The muscles that form your abdomen include:
1- The rectus abdominis, which we know as the 6-pack, includes both your upper and lower abdominals. The rectus abdominis is the most prominent and visible portion of the abdominals. It travels the full length of the abdominal region, from your pubic bone to right under your lower chest. When we contract this muscle, as in a traditional crunch, we’re flexing our torsos.
2- The external obliques, commonly referred to as your obliques are the visible side abdominal muscles that run downwards diagonally from your lower ribs and attach to the top portion of your hips and your ‘6-pack region’ or rectus abdominis. Similar to your external obliques, your internal obliques travel diagonally across your torso, but in the opposite direction from the external obliques. Together, they work to help rotate your upper body at the core. Both sets of oblique muscles also work to compress your torso when they contract simultaneously along with your rectus abdominis. The obliques primarily serve as rotators that help our bodies twist at the waist and straighten when bent over sideways.
3- The transverse abdominis, is the internal portion of your abdominals that is located within the abdomen. It lies underneath the oblique muscles and acts as a structural support for our organs. It also helps us with our respiratory functions, similar to the diaphragm. Instead of helping with core rotation, it pulls the abdominal wall inward when we ‘suck-in’ our belly.
Together, each of these muscle groups provides structural support, aiding our movement as well as assisting with lung function and breathing. Aside from the obvious functions, our abs are a critical component of our ‘core’ working along with our back muscles to provide proper posture and physique.
- Specific exercises for each abdominal muscle group
When working out, its important to work smarter not necessarily harder to see the results you’re looking for and that perfect six-pack. When weight training for better abdominal muscles and improved core strength, its crucial to note that high repetition exercises will help burn abdominal fat, but you must also include resistance exercises to increase abdominal bulk and muscle size. Here are some exercises specific to each goal, in order by each abdominal muscle group.
Upper & Lower Abs (Rectus Abdominis)
*Fat burning: Swiss Ball Crunches, Bench Supported Crunch, Bosu ball chop, ab deck crunches, un-weighted ab-master machine crunches.
*Muscle bulking: Weighted Crunches, Lying Cable Crunch, Roman Chair Weighted Sit-Ups, Standing cable crunch, decline cable sit-up, resistance ab-machine crunches.
*Fat burning: Reverse Crunch, Hip Thrust, Reverse Crunch on Decline, Hanging Bicycle Crunches, Scissor Kick, Swiss Ball Roll In, Hanging Leg Raise, Hanging Knee Raises
*Muscle bulking: Weighted hanging Leg Raises with dumbbell, weighted hanging knee raises with dumbbell.
Obliques (External Obliques)
*Fat burning: Side Oblique Crunch, Bicycle Crunches, Lying Resistance Ball Windshield Wiper, Cross-over Crunch, Side Planks
*Muscle bulking: Russian Twists w/ medicine ball, Windshield Wiper with medicine ball or dumbbell, Side Planks with weight-belt or dumbbell, Dumbbell Oblique Crunch, Standing Oblique Cable Crunch
Core Specific Work (Total Abdominals)
*Fat burning: Planks, Hanging Knee Raise w/ Twist, Double Crunch, Toe-Touches, Jackknife Crunch, Exercise Ball Transfer
*Muscle bulking: Cable Wood-Chop, Decline Medicine Ball Throw, Exercise Ball Transfer.
- Core Circuit Workouts
Due to the fact that both your abdominals and back muscles compose your ‘core’ and affect overall core strength, it’s important to build each muscle group gradually to ensure proper muscle growth and reduce the likelihood of injury. When engaging in an exercise routine to increase core strength and muscle definition, try incorporating lower back exercises as well in your ab circuit. Aim for one exercise for each abdominal and core muscle group i.e. One Upper Ab, One Lower Ab, One Oblique and One Lower Back exercise. Here’s an example for a complete core circuit workout.
- Swiss Ball Crunches
- Hanging Leg Raises
- Bicycle Crunches
- Roman Chair Back Extension
Your fitness level and progression will depend on the amount of reps and sets you perform, along with the types of exercises incorporated in your circuit and applied resistance. Remember, as you progress from beginner workouts to intermediate and advanced programs the type of core exercises may change as well.
- Abdominal Workout Equipment
As your Ab routine changes you may choose to incorporate various pieces of equipment such as an ab roller, bosu ball, swiss ball, medicine ball, cable machine, resistance bands, weight-plates or dumbbells. Different equipment will help you with different goals as well as aid with flexibility, comfort, body positioning and the way you are training your abdominals. For example, Bosu Balls and Swiss Balls help reduce hot-spots, pressure points and unnecessary strain on your back when performing core exercises, by adding a cushioned support. They also increase core strength due to proprioception training that requires balance to challenge an individual’s normal range of motion. Ab rollers, resistance bands and added weight can be used to keep constant tension on your abdominals to train for a more well rounded physique and increase overall core strength. You can find any of the above mentioned pieces of equipment at your local Scottsdale, Arizona fitness equipment store.
- Ab-Training for specific goals and body type
You should also choose exercises that support your personal goals and promote growth specific to your physique, body-type and frame.
For example, if you are lean, but lack definition focus on lower rep exercises with increased resistance using either weight-plates, dumbbells, medicine balls or resistance ab-machines. If you are overweight, start with simple movements and core exercises to build strength before attempting to increase muscle size and bulk. This can be accomplished through timed intervals and high-repetitions such as a minute of scissor kicks, flutter kicks, bicycle crunches, standard crunches etc. Remember no matter what your body type and training goals are, consistent fluid breathing is important to provide the high levels of oxygen your muscles need to perform at their optimal level, burn fat most efficiently and promote increased blood-flow and nutrient transport for energy.
- The Ultimate 6 Pack Ab Diet
“Abs are made in the kitchen not the gym” – Lucas James
When trying to achieve the perfect 6-pack abs, diet is key. Since people tend to store fat on our torso, men especially, the only way you’ll see your awesome abs is to eat a high-protein, low-fat diet. A lower body-fat percentage will increase your chances of noticing the abs hidden underneath your belly fat. The weight we store above our abs is primarily fat and water weight, so it’s important to eat the right amount of calories and the right types of foods to shed excess fat.
When shedding extra pounds to see those abs try incorporating more veggies and high-fiber foods in your diet. Here’s a few suggestions of ab-busting foods:
Turkey has one of the highest amounts of protein pound-for-pound of any lean animal meat. It also has less fat calories than red meat and is even leaner than chicken!
Quinoa is a high protein, high-fiber and low fat grain. All properties of a fat-burning diet!
Like broccoli, this leafy vegetable has a crunch—and less than half the calories and carbohydrates of its cruciferous cousin.
This sweet Asian fruit is a better source of vitamin C than your average apple.
This Dutch cheese is semi-firm, unlike the semisoft Muenster, and has more protein, fewer calories, and a richer, nuttier flavor.
When it comes to exercise, Scottsdale, Arizona based celebrity personal trainer Lucas James and nutrition expert Jason Apfel suggest working out smarter not harder. In terms of maximizing the benefits of physical activity, both believe efficiency is key. Resistance training and aerobic exercise are beneficial for and essential to helping reduce body weight and improving one’s overall health. Combining weight training, plyometrics and cardio within one routine as a circuit, is an excellent way to improve strength, endurance and flexibility, while helping to shed those extra pounds the quickest.
Circuit training provides a quick and effective total body workout by combining multiple forms of fitness one. It helps to train our body’s cardiovascular endurance, while enhancing into muscle performance and increasing strength at the same time.
Since our bodies adapt to physical activity, as well as in response to our diet, it is important to constantly change our workouts to confuse our muscles. With circuit training, the body must adapt to multiple types of exercise and physical stress. A workout circuit is comprised of multiple exercises, each based on a specific set of repetitions or time-based intervals leaving little to no rest in between each different activity. Each round of exercises is repeated 3-4 times, resulting in the same impact of resistance training in normal workouts, but at a higher intensity. An ‘active rest period’ can be simulated within each circuit by incorporating exercises that focus on isolating opposing muscle groups. With this approach to fitness clients can work towards varied health goals simultaneously in less time than with traditional workout programs. This is accomplished by keeping an elevated heart rate throughout the workout because of the way the intervals, exercises, and rest periods are laid out. Circuit training ultimately increases the number of calories burned per minute.
One recent study in the Brazilian Archives of Cardiology suggests that resistance exercise combined with aerobics helps to decrease the risk of metabolic disorders, reduce cholesterol levels and aid in weight loss. Other American studies note that circuit training can help burn 30 percent more calories than tradition exercise.
Aside from the health benefits, circuit training is great to break up the exercise to the next, your mind doesn’t have time to wander or get bored. More so, a circuit e monotony of lifting weights. By constantly moving from one that combines both cardio and strength exercises will help to sculpt muscle physique and tone your body.
A simple circuit workout can be done at home with little or no equipment at all. Try integrating squats, lunges, push-ups and crunches a minute of quick sprints, high-knees and mountain climbers in between each exercise.
If free weights, resistance bands or even a jump rope are available, you can incorporate simple resistance and cardio exercise that will aid in quicker weight-loss and strength building.
Try A simple Routine:
Squat Jump 10-15 repetitions
Standard Push-ups 8-12 repetitions
Calf Raises on a step-up or raised ledge 15-25 repetitions
Jumping Jacks 1 min.
Planks or Toe Touch Abdominal Crunches
When looking for a fitness trainer or personal trainer, it’s important to find a credentialed Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) who knows their business. While the criteria for different certifying agencies may vary slightly, you want a trainer with a diverse background in physical fitness and exercise planning. Even with a nationally accredited personal trainer certification many new trainers are inexperienced or lack a background in physiology, kinesiology or nutrition. The best trainers have not only worked within the fitness, health and wellness fields previously, but have prior knowledge to health from an academic institution.
The top ten most well known nationally accredited certifying agencies for personal training, accepted by most national gyms such as LA Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness, Golds Gym & Equinox are ACSM the American College Of Sports Medicine, NASM the National Academy Of Sports Medicine, NSCA the National Strength And Conditioning Association, NCSF the National Council On Strength And Fitness, NFPT the National Federation Of Personal Trainers, ACE the American Council On Exercise, CI the Cooper Institute, NESTA the National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association, IFPA The International Fitness Professionals Association and ISSA the International Sports Science Association.
Each of these certified fitness-training agencies are NCCA-accredited programs (National Commission for Certifying Agencies) aside from the ISSA. This national commission only accredits programs that meet or exceed its standards for personal training and physical fitness training curriculum. While there are various other accreditation organizations, in terms of personal training, the most valuable certifications are NCCA recognized.
Each of the nationally accredited CPT programs mentioned above vary slightly in terms of curriculum, program format i.e. emphasis on nutrition, exercise planning, kinesiology etc, recertification requirements, program materials & cost, but all share specific similarities. For example, any worth-while agency will include education concerning client health-fitness assessment, exercise technique, fitness program design, nutrition, client relations & administration, as well as a CPT professional scope of practice and responsibilities.
As mentioned previously, it’s also important to have a personal trainer with an academic background in the health-science fields such as biology, physiology, kinesiology or nutrition. This is due to the fact that anyone can study to become a personal trainer through one of the accredited programs, but at the same time might lack the background to thoroughly understand the underlying scientific principles of health, exercise, metabolism and diet. In fact, individuals who have a diverse medical or science background often have a better understanding of the effects of proper exercise than a CPT.
Another option for personal training certification is receiving a personal training degree, diploma or certificate from a trade school or college program that is accredited by the government instead of the NCCA.
Becoming a certified personal trainer can often be costly, with the exam alone costing anywhere from $50 to $279. More so, if you choose to buy all of the test preparation materials, take a workshop and purchase textbooks, the cost can total upwards of $800, with even more costs for re-certification.
Here’s the breakdown for our top four picks personal trainer certifications:
*Both NCCA & non-NCCA accredited
National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
A NASM personal trainer certification is NCAA-accredited and accepted by most employers and gyms. The exam alone costs $549, but is included in all of the study packages. NASM preparation packages rang from $599 to $799. The requirement for recertification is every 2 years and costs $700.
American Council on Exercise (ACE)
ACE is also an NCAA-accredited personal trainer certification that is highly recognized within the personal training and sports club industry. The current cost of the PT exam is $219. In addition to the cost of the exam, ACE study materials range from $150 to $580. Unique from other agencies, ACE also offers an online study program in addition to their study materials. The requirement for recertification is every 2 years for $400.
National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
NSCA is another highly respected NCAA-accredited personal trainer certification. Different from other agencies, NSCA is known for their preparation for special-needs populations. For this reason, their exam is known to be one of the more difficult certifications processes. NSCA exam fees range from $235 to $400 depending on membership type. The requirement for recertification is every 3 years for $500.
International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)
The ISSA is one of the only non-NCAA-accredited personal trainer certification that we’ve discussed, which is also reasonably well recognized within the fitness and sports clubs industry. ISSA certification is ideal for first time trainers seeking part-time or free-lance employment. The program fee is $595, and the course and exam are 100 percent available online. Recertification is required every 2 years for $600.