For the City Gym Boys, looking good is only part of the fitness equation. Though their brawn undoubtedly fueled the success of their popular beefcake calendars in the late 1990s, Charles LaSalle and his team are equally dedicated to curbing the obesity epidemic among today's youth and adults.
Working with the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem, Dr. Oz's Health Corps, The American Diabetes Association and First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move initiative, the health and fitness mentors conduct challenges designed to teach students how to make staying fit fun.
"The single greatest contributor to America's sorest shame is that we're a nation that no longer moves," LaSalle says in his new book Get A Bangin' Body, a how-to manual on conveniently and inexpensively building a body you love -- no calorie-counting required.
LaSalle lives (and works out) by the philosophy that "It's not what you eat, it's what you do," and shares his best advice on how to get moving with these ten time-tested tips.
TEN TIPS FOR YOUR BEST WORKOUT
- FUEL UP: Try not to eat a meal within three hours of your workout. You will not have the energy to work out if your body is still digesting your most recent meal. It's better to be a little hungry -- you'll end up getting a better workout, and you'll burn more body fat.
- WARM UP: Make sure your muscles are warmed up before you start exercising. Do at least ten minutes of cardio activity to get your circulation going. Cold muscles are more likely to get injured.
- LIMIT REST PERIODS: Rest periods between sets should be as short as possible -- just long enough to bring your heart down a bit and for the muscles to recover. This is not phone time or socializing time. If you're able to maintain an elevated heart rate by keeping your rest periods as brief as possible, your body will go into fat-buring mode while you're also building muscles.
- KNOW YOUR MUSCLES: Always be aware of the muscles that you're working when performing an exercise. For example, if you're doing dips, know that you're working your triceps.
- ISOLATE: Try to isolate the major muscle that is being worked during the exercise. For example, if you're doing push-ups, make sure your chest is doing most of the work. It's important to connect your brain to the muscle being worked.
- PRACTICE GOOD FORM: Good form is extremely important for getting good results and avoiding injuries. It requires more focus and energy, but you'll see the results.
- CONTROL YOUR PACE: Use a nice, controlled pace -- about four seconds each way -- for your positive motion (the "hard" part of an exercise) and negative motion (the "easy" part of an exercise). This will allow you to maximize your workout time and will result in much faster and better physical changes.
- EXHALE ON THE HARD, INHALE ON THE EASY: Exhale on your positive ("hard") motion. This will result in the air filling your lungs naturally as you perform your negative ("easy") motion. Good breathing is as important as good form. Your muscles and brain need oxygen to perform.
- FEEL THE BURN: The longer you keep the muscle under stress, the better and faster your body will change. Endure the burn for as long as possible without giving up physically and mentally. Focus on the mental picture of what you want to look like physically and endure the burn.
- CHALLENGE YOURSELF: Your workout should never be easy. Work to muscle failure for every rep of every set, for every workout. Do not hold back for the next set or next workout! You want that bangin' body today, right? Give your workout all you have today, as if there's no tomorrow.
Note: Make sure you're healthy enough to work out. As with any new exercise routine, please consult your doctor before beginning this program.
Reprinted from Get A Bangin' Body by Charles LaSalle by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Copyright © 2012 by Charles LaSalle.