One arm lat pull-downs…

One of my favorite body parts to train is the back.  I have posted articles on this muscle group.  After legs, it is the strongest part of your body.  It also has the most variety of muscles.

As such, I blast the back with 6-8 different exercises per training session.  I use wide grip and narrow grip.  Lat pull-downs and seated rows.  I also throw in different kinds of set/rep combinations like 4X, 4-1-1 sets, ladder sets, etc.

I look for different ways of adding a twist to a common exercise just to make it different and target the muscle at a different angle.

Recently I saw someone performing lat pull-downs alternating each arm performing the rep.  What I liked about that is that while the left arm was pulling down, the right arm was stretched towards the top.  So the right side was getting a nice lat stretch while the left arm was pulling down further than normal and getting a great contraction.  What a way to have your cake and eat it too! Maximum range of motion.

The only twist I added to this exercise was to perform a normal rep after every alternating one arm rep as shown in the video.

Add this trick to your back workout in order to be…Fit Forlife!

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Vitamin C…

Let’s continue through the alphabet of vitamins.  Next up is Vitamin C.

Vitamin C defined…

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning that the human body doesn’t store it. Basically, excess is pissed away.  This also means you have to get it from the food that you eat.  There are some animals out there however, that do have the ability to produce vitamin C within their bodies.

Vitamin C is required in order to produce collagen.  Collagen is a protein that plays an important role in the structure of our bodies. Collagen supports the make up of our skin and bones.  Think of collagen as the glue that holds our body together.  Without it, we would fall apart!

Thus, it is an essential nutrient for the body to function.  Vitamin C is best known as an antioxidant.  Antioxidants are forms of molecules that help keep chemical reactions in our body in check. Antioxidants help prevent excessive activity on the part of free radical molecules.  A lot more detail on this subject can be found in my blog post here.

Health benefits and deficiency…

Deficiency in this vitamin can lead to conditions such as scurvy. Brown spots develop on the body, mostly the legs.  You develop bleeding gums as well as bleeding in mucous membranes.  Teeth eventually start to fall out.  These conditions can worsen and eventually lead to death.  Many sailors when the New World was discovered, suffered and died from this condition due to lack of fruits carried on board the sailing vessels.

Although some people say that vitamin C can help fight against cancer, cardiovascular disease or other chronic ailments, there have not been any valid scientific studies that have proven this.

Studies showing benefits to avoiding or reducing the days one suffers from the common cold has shown some positive results.

Food Sources…

It is best to get your daily dose of vitamin C from foods such as fruits and vegetables rather than through supplementation.

Most people think that citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit have the highest amount of vitamin C as well as mango, papaya and cantaloupe.  While these fruits do contain high levels of C, there are many vegetables that beat that.

Most dark leafy vegetables are very high in C as well as yellow bell peppers, peas and tomatoes.

Most berries in this family are also high in C like strawberries and blue berries.

Toxicity levels…

The recommended daily intake of vitamin C for adults is 65 to 90 mg per day.  The upper limit is 2,000 mg a day. Too much vitamin C is unlikely to be harmful but mega-doses can cause nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and heartburn.

So make sure you get all your vitamins on a daily basis in order to stay…Fit Forlife!



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Compound Movements

If you want to increase calories burned and jack up testosterone production a little higher, doing combination movements are the best way to do this.

Examples of these are power cleans rather than deadlift.  Snatches instead of high pulls.  Clean and press rather than presses, etc, etc,

Another thing I like about compound movements is that it saves you time when your training session is going to be limited.  You get the most out of the time you have.

Over the years I have come up with unique exercises through creative thinking or just dumb luck.  Well dumb luck hit me recently!

The other day I was doing seated calf raises and my workout bag was behind me.  My cell phone inside my workout bag started ringing.  Expecting an important call I reached over and down to grab it while performing the calf raises.  I noticed it gave my abs and oblique’s a good stretch and contraction!

So after the call, I proceeded to experiment with this strange compound movement, calf raises and crunches of all things!  Who would have thought you could have put these two together.  Almost as bizarre as chocolate and peanut butter right?  🙂

So below is a YouTube video showing how this can be done.  Of course there are all kinds of variations and you can always add a plate to hold across your chest while you perform the crunches.

Lifting up towards the ceiling while coming up and going side to side hits your core from different angles as well.

So enjoy and remember, always try something new to be…Fit Forlife!

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Give me a B, Vitamin B that is…

This is a continuation of the importance of vitamins in one’s diet and health as we move on through the alphabet.

Again, we will look at how each vitamin functions in your body, what foods provide them, what quantities should one consume, side effects if any, and whether they are soluble or insoluble.

Vitamin B…

From Wikipedia:

B vitamins are a class of water-soluble vitamins that play important roles in cell metabolism. Though these vitamins share similar names, research shows that they are chemically distinct vitamins that often coexist in the same foods. In general, supplements containing all eight are referred to as a vitamin B complex. Individual B vitamin supplements are referred to by the specific name of each vitamin (e.g., B1, B2, B3 etc.).

As noted, there are 8 vitamins that falls under the umbrella of B’s and thus refered to as the B Complex. They are as follows:

B vitamin molecular functions

Vitamin Name Molecular Function
Vitamin B1       Thiamine Thiamine plays a central role in the generation of energy from carbohydrates. It is involved in many functions including the nervous system, heart and muscles.  This is because it plays a major role in the flow of electrolytes in and out of nerve and muscle cells, enzyme processes and carb metabolism. Known to help in maintaining a positive mental attitude and called the anti-stress vitamin.

Deficiency in this vitamin is exhibited by weight loss, weakness and pain in limbs, and irregular heartbeat.

Food sources of thiamine include beef, liver, dried milk, nuts, oats, oranges, pork, eggs, seeds, legumes, peas and yeast.

There are no known toxicity levels.

Vitamin B2        Riboflavin Riboflavin is involved in energy production.  It is important for body growth, red blood cell production and releasing energy from carbohydrates.

Deficiency in this vitamin is exhibited by cracked lips, sensitivity to sunlight, inflammation of the tongue and sore throat.

Food sources for riboflavin comes from dairy products, eggs, green leafy vegetables, lean meats, legumes and nuts.

There are no known toxicity levels.


Vitamin B3           Niacin Niacin is used to help lower cholesterol levels and triglycerides in the blood.  Also used to help lower the chance of heart attacks and to treat coronary disease.  It does this by playing an important role in energy transfer reactions in the metabolism of glucose, fat and alcohol.

Deficiency in this vitamin can result in aggression, insomnia, weakness and mental confusion.

Side effects of taking too much niacin are nausea, vomiting, redness of skin followed by tingling and itching sensation.

Food sources high in niacin are fish and lean meats as well as brown rice.


Vitamin B5  Pantothenic acid Pantothenic acid is involved in the oxidation of fatty acids and carbohydrates. Also critical in the production of red blood cells, as well as sex and stress related hormones produced in the adrenal glands.  Also important in maintaining a healthy digestive tract as well as assisting other vitamins in their functions in the body.

Deficiency in this vitamin can result in acne although rare.

It has no known toxicity levels.

Food sources high in B5 corn, cauliflower, kale, broccoli, tomatoes, avocado, legumes, lentils, egg yolks, beef (especially organ meats such as liver and kidney), any fowl, milk, split peas, peanuts, soybeans, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, whole-grain breads and cereals, lobster, wheat germ, and salmon.

Vitamin B6 Pyridoxine, Pyridoxal, Pyridoxamine Vitamin B6 is known to assist in the production of serotonin which influences a variety of psychological functions related to mood, sexual desire, appetite, sleep and memory.

Deficiency in this vitamin can result in neurological problems.

Food sources for this vitamin include grains, legumes, carrots, spinach, peas, potatoes, dairy products, fish, liver and other meats.

Vitamin B7     Biotin Biotin plays a key role in the metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates like some of the other B’s.  Especially helps produce fatty acids and amino acids and activates protein/amino acids metabolism in hair roots and cells.

Deficiency typically does not cause symptoms in adults but can lead to neurological issues in infants.

No known toxicity levels.

Food Sources with the most biotin is liver as well as egg yolk, soybeans, nuts and grains.

Vitamin B9    Folic acid Folic acid acts as a co-enzyme in the body that helps in utilizing amino acids (the building blocks of protein), form blood cells in the bone marrow, ensure rapid cell growth and control blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine (in combination with vitamin B6 and B12) which is associated with heart disease.

Deficiency and produce anemia and elevated levels of homocysteine which can impact heart health.

Side effects are that it masks B12 deficiency which can lead to permanent neurological damage.

Food sources like in many of the B’s can be found in liver as well as dark green leafy vegetables, beans, wheat germ, egg yolk, dairy products, beets and whole wheat bread.

Vitamin B12      Cobalamin Vitamin B12 is involved in the cellular metabolism of carbs and protein.  It is essential in the production of blood cells in bone marrow and attributed to boosting mood, concentration and the immune system.  Also used for treating Alzheimer’s disease and controlling homocysteine levels which contribute to heart disease.

Deficiency comes in the form of anemia and memory loss, more than likely in elderly people.

Side effects are acne like rash and skin lesions.

Food sources comes from meat, fish and dairy products.

Supplementation Levels…

Below is a chart with RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for each of the B vitamins. Personally, I take a multi-vitamin with the highest amount of B Complex and in addition to that, a B Complex only vitamin.

I feel the B’s are one of the most important vitamins you can take especially if you are active. It is extremely hard to overdose on them, they are water soluble meaning you piss away any excess, and they serve too important of function in the body to be skimping on them.

I take my multi-vitamin in the morning then the B complex tablet on top of that about an hour before working out.

My levels are much higher than the RDA but this will give you a guideline. Even if you have a perfect diet, if you train, take a high level B multi-vitamin.

Vitamin B Dosages

Vitamin B Dosages

Increase your B’s if you want to BE….Fit Forlife!



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Vitamins from A to …

We all know or at least heard that vitamins are important as part of your regular diet.  But what is a vitamin and how does it contribute to your overall health and wellness?  In addition, how does each one function and which ones should I pay particular attention to?

Wikipedia defines a vitamin as follows:

A vitamin is an organic compound and a vital nutrient that an organism requires in limited amounts.  An organic chemical compound (or related set of compounds) is called a vitamin when the organism cannot synthesize the compound in sufficient quantities, and it must be obtained through the diet; thus, the term “vitamin” is conditional upon the circumstances and the particular organism.

In the next series of posts, I will briefly describe each vitamin, how it functions in your body, what foods provide them, what quantities should one consume, side effects, and whether they are soluble or insoluble (more on that soon).

So without further ado, here we go starting with…

Vitamin A…

This vitamin is known for its benefits towards vision and the immune system.  To make things a little confusing, there are two types on vitamin A, one that comes from animal sources known as retinoid and the other from plant sources known as beta-carotene.

The vitamin A you get in supplements are from the plant source, beta-carotene.  The recommended minimum requirement is 10,ooo IU per day.  An IU is defined as a quantity of a biologic (such as a vitamin) that produces a particular biological effect agreed upon as an international standard.

Most nutritionists will tell you that you can get 65% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A by having five servings of fruits and vegetables a day but the reality is, how many people have the capability of doing that?

Food sources…

Vitamin A plant sources come from sweet potato, carrots, spinach, kale, mustard greens, collard greens, turnip greens, beet greens and squash in that order.

Vitamin A animal sources come from eggs, whole milk, fish (in particular tuna), liver, and fortified skim milk.

Retinoid or Carotene?

Although some vegans would debate this, the most efficient way of getting your vitamin A is from animal sources not plant sources.  This is because no matter what source you get it from, it must be converted to retinoid to be fully effective.

This means plant source vitamin A has to go through a process.  The downside to that is that it takes six units of carotene to produce one unit of retinoid.  Highly inefficient!

Fat soluble or Water soluble?

Vitamins are either fat or water soluble.  From it is identified as such:

Vitamins are classified as either fat soluble (vitamins A, D, E and K) or water soluble (vitamins B and C). This difference between the two groups is very important. It determines how each vitamin acts within the body.

The fat soluble vitamins are soluble in lipids (fats). These vitamins are usually absorbed in fat globules (called chylomicrons) that travel through the lymphatic system of the small intestines and into the general blood circulation within the body. These fat soluble vitamins, especially vitamins A and E, are then stored in body tissues.

Fat soluble vitamins, once they have been stored in tissues in the body, tend to remain there. This means that if a person takes in too much of a fat soluble vitamin, over time they can have too much of that vitamin present in their body, a potentially dangerous condition called hypervitaminosis (literally, too much vitamin in the body).

Persons can be also be deficient in the fat soluble vitamins if their fat intake is too low or if their fat absorption is compromised, for example, by certain drugs (that interfere with the absorption of fat from the intestine) or by certain diseases such as cystic fibrosis (in which there is a deficiency of enzymes from the pancreas which similarly interferes with the absorption of fat from the intestine).

What this amounts to is this.  Fat soluble vitamins being that they ae stored in your body’s fat, are not urinated away like in water soluble vitamins.  This means that if you take too much of fat stored vitamins, you may start hitting toxic levels.  As noted above, vitamin A is fat stored.

Side Effects…

Is there such a thing as too much vitamin A?  While rare, Yes…

Some common symptoms of too much vitamin A include:

blurred vision, headaches, drowsiness, decreased appetite, bone pain, nausea, skin and hair changes, sensitivity to sunlight just to name a few.

This concludes the first in a series of vitamins.  Stay tuned as we hit the B’s, a very complex series of vitamins for the body in order to stay…. Fit Forlife!






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