Fitness program Fast Results. How to Double YOUR Exercise Program Results

written by john c ashworth, ma

There are four things standing between you and fitness program fast results. All of which are important, and especially when combined, have the potential to double, or even triple the results you’re currently getting from your current exercise program.

  1. Two of these four key actions have to do with your strength training program. You do have one, right? Assuming you do, the first thing you can do for fitness program fast results is to focus on the movement and not on the muscle.  This means choosing exercises and exercise combinations that involve more than one muscle group at a time, mimic your athletic or everyday movements, and focus on movements that move more than one of your joints at a time. Which means that those “tricep kick-backs” you’ve been doing, for example, need to abandoned for good. Instead, make sure that every one of your workouts incorporates the five fundamental movement patterns every time you train – push, pull, hinge (bend at the hips), squat and carry.
  2. Do lots of repetitions during your strength training program. I know. You’ve likely heard me say before that choosing resistance levels that allow lots of repetitions doesn’t stimulate the kind of muscle strength and growth required for long term weight loss and fitness program fast results. The real truth is that change in your routine is what is most important. And in this case, what I’m saying is that very often, trying to perform 30 or even 50 repetitions of an exercise (while maintaining good technique, of course) can become an incredible workout and does in fact stimulate your slow-twitch muscle fibers to grow and become stronger. You just don’t want to do this for every workout. Try it next time you’re in the gym, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
  3. Become a minimalist. Strategy #3 for fitness program fast results has to do with simplifying your routine.  The linear relationship that exists between increased amounts of work, especially when it comes to strength training, has an end point. In other words, more is not always better. In fact, I often see people wasting a lot of time in the gym by being incredibly inefficient with their fitness program design. The combinations of your movements in addition to the number you perform are both important. Try keeping your total set count between 22-25. This equates to about 2-3 sets for 8-10 different exercises.  That’s it.  If you’re working hard enough and have chosen movements in every one of the key categories outlines above (Push, Pull, Hinge, Squat, Carry) you really don’t need to do more than this.
  4. Do something every day. I know, I know. You’re always hearing that you should take a day off between strength training sessions. And you should. What I’m talking about is using your off days for something more productive than sitting on the couch or in your office chair every day. This is what I mean when I talk about “Active Recovery.”  Much of the strength and conditioning improvements that you achieve actually come during the recovery period from your workouts.  This is where your body takes time to re-build and prepare for the next workout.  So, for fitness program fast results, make sure you are not just taking time for recovery, but also making this recovery time productive with good sleep, good stretching, and good nutrition.

Here are a few examples of what I mean when I say “Active Recovery”:

  • On an off day, try performing half of your strength training movements at half the weight. Or, simulate them with stuff you can use in your office or at home. A bent over row with your bag or briefcase, for example.
  • “Off days” are also perfect for stretching, yoga, walking, or even just a few trips up and down the stairs at the office or at home every few hours. A good way to think about this is to imagine what it would be like if you were living back in the 1800s, chopping wood for the winter, washing your clothes by hand, or giving the horses a bath. Movement all day is the key. Not just for workouts or when you need another cup of tea.

Set the goal of performing these “movement breaks” at least three times a day, and let me know if you’re energy level and positive attitude have not doubled in value 🙂

OK…there you have it. Four simple action steps that I guarantee will help you achieve fitness program fast results. Try all of them or even just one of them. And I would love to hear back from you here in the comments section on how much it helped.


Related Article:

Fast Track Your Health and Fitness Goals with This Important Program Design Technique

[archives] John Ashworth on the BBC with James Coomarasamy

John Ashworth, The Fitness Nomad as Heard (and seen) on the BBC News Hour

Links to the radio segment are below…

Click Here for the video


James Coomarasamy & The Fitness Nomad. Presents Newshour on the BBC World Service and also appear on BBC World News


Full Story is at the ~47th minute of this BBC News Hour Episode:

During the second broadcast of the news hour, they played my comments almost at the very start of the news hour – nice!

There is also then a slightly different version of the first broadcast at about the 48th minute.

Twitter / @jamiecoo: No sweat. Doing Paul Ryan’s ….

[fitness friday] How to train like an Olympian

How to train like an olympic athlete
written by john c ashworth, ma, cscs, ces

Rule #1 when it comes to training like an olympic athlete?

Don’t try to train EXACTLY like an olympic athlete until you’ve spent some time building a strong base of strength and conditioning. That said, it is both interesting and important to note that the same concepts you would use to begin and exercise program, and progress are the EXACT SAME concepts olympics athletes use in their training programs.

That’s why I thought it would be cool to share with you this week via my Fitness Friday segment with Leigh Mills, the concepts and core movements that world class athletes use and work to perfection in their training programs.

Key Concepts:

The law of specificity. I first learned of this in graduate school more than 20 years ago, and it has never been more prevalent in the strength and conditioning programs of world class athletes. You MUST train using movements that are as specific to your even as they can be. And not just the actual movement pattern, but the ways in which the movements are performed. For example, a bob sledder or speed skater needs lots of power – quick explosive movements. While a cross-country ski racer needs more endurance.

Muscle Confusion. You can’t train the same way every day. This is easily the BIGGEST mistake I see people make in their own training programs at the gym and on their own. The NEVER change anything. Once they find a routine that is comfortable and cozy and that they can remember how to do, they NEVER change it! Big mistake. You MUST confuse your muscles and your body on an on-going basis if you desire cotinued results from your fitness program.

Muscle confusion is also not just changing the routine, but the order and comvination of movements, resistance levels, and overall training schedule.

Enjoyment. That’s right. In every video I watched in preparation for this segment, every athlete made it a point to share that their love and and enjoyment for what they do is the grounding force that brings them back each day to the grinding underground work that must happen so that we can watch them perform.

Flexibility. I talk all the time about how no one stretches enough or spends enough time and energy on what they do for recovery. All their effort goes toward the training and competition, and almost none of it to the importance of stretching, good nutrition, and rest.

Recovery. As mentioned above. Your recover and rest are equally important to the success of your training program. Without them, your body will become a broken machine that does not run at full capacity. Especially when you’re talking about a world class athlete, where the primary goal is to push the body to the abolute limit without going overboard. In order to do this, you absolutely must ensure that your body is provided with the right combintation of good nutrition, rest, flexibility, massage, chiropractic care, physical therapy, and anything else deemed appropriate and important for survival at the top of your game.

For this segment, I’ve decided to focus my exercise examples on those that have the biggest impact on strength and power and not endurance. I’ve done this for two reasons. First, they will likely have a gigantic impact on your own workout immediately. Second, they will deliver this impact because the chances are good that they will challenge you in a way that is new, demanding and guaranteed to provide you a good dose of that muscle confusion I was talking about earlier.

Here they are. Have fun!
I have provided the basic and advanced version of each move.

  1. Barbell Overhead Squats
    Aerial squats
  2. Step-ups
    Box Jumps
  3. Modified Push-ups
    Spider-man push-ups
  4. Squat Jumps
    Squat Jumps with weight

And if you’re interested, you can click here for one of the videos I watched in preparation for this segment.



No Time to Exercise? No Problem. Discover how to Turn Your Entire House into the workout playground of your dreams.

Screenshot 2014-01-31 10.12.42

No Time to Exercise? No Problem. Discover how to Turn Your Entire House into a gym.
written by john c ashworth, ma, cscs, ces

Are you familiar with the term, “Non-Exercise Activity Thermogensis?” Right, I wasn’t either until I reviewed the research being conducted by James Levine, MD of the Mayo clinic. He’s the guy leading the charge on “stand-up desks” and the idea that it’s not just your exercise that is important, but how much you move outside the gym too.

In fact, a couple of years ago Leigh Mills and I did one of our fitness segments on the topic during our Fitness Friday Segment. I brought in my favorite rocking chair and everything. Click here to watch that episode.

Tonight, we will take a slightly different tact, and show you how to turn your entire house into a gym. This way, if you don’t have time to get to the gym, you can still get your workout done at home. Then on days when you have been to the gym, you can use these strategies to improve your NEAT score. Remember, that’s “non-exercise activity thermogenesis” OR How much you got up off your butt and moved all day.

Amazingly, people who tap their feet, stand instead of sit, and make an effort to move more throughout the day, can burn as much as 350 extra calories per day. That might not seem like a lot, but I guarantee you it adds up over time.

Here are the strategies for turning your whole house into the workout playground of your dreams…

Practice 5-10 minutes of yoga or stretching immediately upon rising out of bed in the morning. It will loosen you up, improve your mood, and jump start your energy level and your metabolism.

Play the post-it game. I really like this one. Start writing down the exercises you find and want to perform from your favorite magazines, web sites, or Train Like a Nomad portal. Put them on post it notes around the house in places you know you’ll be spending time in during the day. Then use them as reminders to perform those moves in between all of your other chores.

Take advantage of your stairs and make extra trips. Recently I created a video about this on youtube. I was making ice candles during the polor vortex and made extra trips with the heavy buckets of water I was carrying. Brilliant idea! While everyone else was just huddling inside their igloo, I was building one.

Pull a set or two of dumbbells out of the back of the closet and leave them near one of those post-it notes. Most people stash away their exercise equipment and plan to pull it out when it’s time to get to work. It almost NEVER happens. Out of site = out of mind.

Spend some time hanging around. Invest in a TRX strap and hang it in your basement or some other strategic location. My wife Laura uses this strategy at our house and it works like a charm.

OK, that’s it. Go get to work. All of the greatest information and hottest fitness tips won’t do you any good if you’re still just sitting there. Come on. Let’s go!


PS Remember, the segment airs locally here in Madison at around 5:15 PM on NBC 15. If you miss it, you can tune in to the archives on the NBC 15 web site at I generally don’t have time to archive All the segments on my blog any more. I have exercise to get done.

PSS  On the day I did the “Buckets and Stairs Workout” on YouTube, I also created, “How to Workout in Poloar Vortex”  Thought you might be interested…

[Fitness Friday] Why Doctors Worry about Kids’ Bones, and why I hope this post gets you Hopping Mad…

written by john c ashworth, ma, cscs, ces

There are three critical ingredients for bone growth in kids – Exercise, Calcium, and Vitamin D. Recent research reveals that kids are not getting enough of any of them.

Calcium, the building block of bone, is a mineral that our own bodies cannot produce, and therfore must be absorbed from the food we eat or the supplements we take. And when it comes to kids, this usually means drinking milk, which is one of the best dietary sources of Calcium there is. To get the minimum 1300mg of Calcium per day that is recommended, however, kids need to drink 4-5 eight ounce glasses of milk every day.

Sounds like a lot, right? Especially when you compare it to how much milk your kids might actually drink every day. I know I have one who continually works to leave her milk glass half empty on the kitchen table. It turns, I’m not alone. Only 15% of kids between the ages of 9 and 14 or 15 (when puberty begins), get at least three glasses of milk per day consistently. And worse, only 9% of girls.

This has led to the fact that currently, only 70% of boys and 30% of girls actually get the calcium they need every day in order or to maximize their bone growth during these crucial years of 9-14 or 15 when puberty begins. Some doctors say that research is also showing a resulting incresae in bone fractures in this population of kids.

Making the problem even more vexing, is the fact that kids also don’t get enough Vitamin D, which is essential for calcium absorption in the body. so, not only are they drinking less milk than recommended, but the absprotion of the Calcium in that milk is also being hindered by a lack of Vitamin D.

Exercise Saves The Day

Thankfully, and as always, a little exercise can go a long way to help maximize the development of your kids’ bones and bodies when they are young. Specifically, bouncing is what builds bones. In other words, you need to get them jumping! Jumping rope, playing hopscotch, doing jumping jacks, or practicing their broad jump. Whatever it takes…

In a study from Canada, just a few minutes of jumping each day between classes led to significant increases in bone mass in kids. The total amount of jumping equated to about 15 minutes per day. And I think the key to the success of this study is that they had the kids perform just a little bit at a time.

Because 15 minutes of jumping can be a lot all at once, spreading it throughout the day makes it more tolerable and more fun. In addition, all that regular and consistent jumping doesn’t just build bones, it likely builds more energized kids who are better able to focus during long days of sitting in the classroom.

Tonight on NBC 15 with Leigh Mills here in Madison, WI, I’m bringing the kids on with me to demonstrate some fun and fast ways to get your kids jumping!

…by the way, you can join them. Jumping is excellent for your bones too 🙂