Monthly Archives: February 2012

Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) describes any workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity and periods of less-intense activity or even complete rest. HIIT is an amazing workout for any fitness level, and a great tool to use in everyone’s fitness routine for many reasons.

A good example workout is running as fast as you can for 1 minute and then walking for 2 minutes. Repeat this 3-minute interval 5 times for a 15-minute, fat-blasting workout which will leave you sweating, feeling amazing and wondering why you didn’t start doing this ages ago. It almost sounds too good be true, but there are many proven facts about HIIT that will make you want to hit the treadmill as soon as you are done reading this article.

HIIT is the ideal workout for a busy schedule—whether you want  a fast workout before work, during your lunch break,or to get in quick shape for an event. The best thing about HIIT is how fast you can do a workout! You can fit this kind of training literally anywhere at anytime with no equipment necessary.

Research shows you can achieve more progress in 15 minutes of interval training 3 times per week than the person jogging on the treadmill beside you for an hour. According to a recent study at the American College of Sports Medicine, just 2 weeks of high-intensity intervals improves your aerobic capacity as much as 6 to 8 weeks of endurance training.

Not only do you burn more calories during HIIT workouts, but the effect of all that intense exertion kicks your body’s metabolism into superman speed. That means you will burn more fat and calories hours after your HIIT workout than you do after steady state cardio.

Most people aren’t used to or do not like pushing into the anaerobic zone (when you feel like you can’t breathe, your heart is bursting out of your chest and you want to collapse on the floor). Extreme training produces extreme results, like better aerobic capacity and endurance and faster fat loss.

Any bodybuilder, figure and bikini competitor know the risks of losing muscle mass along with fat during the cutting stage for a competition. While steady state cardio may encourage muscle loss, studies show that both weight training and HIIT workouts allow dieters and competitors to preserve their hard-earned muscle while ensuring most of the weight loss comes from fat. What a great combination!

In addition to increased fat burning and saving your muscle mass, HIIT studies have shown that it stimulates production of your natural human growth hormone (HGH) during the 24 hours after you finish your workout. HGH is responsible for increased caloric burn but also slows down the aging process, which makes us younger inside and out. Maybe that is why I still get asked for ID when I buy lottery tickets.

This is not a workout you can do while reading a magazine or gossiping with your friend. Because the session is so short, you should be working hard the whole time. If you feel like it was just an “ok” workout, then you did not perform the intervals properly. The trade-off  for this type of training offers seasoned exercisers and athletes a new challenge to bust out of plateaus and new exercisers a quick way to shed fat. Keep in mind that this is very challenging, and if you have been sedentary for a long time, you should start with continuous cardio to get your fitness level up.

This type of training definitely won’t bore you like continuous cardio bores most of us. You may be in pain, cursing the treadmill and want to give up, but stick with it, the results are amazing and worth it!

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Alicia Leombruni – Fitness Model/Entrepreneur


I have known Alicia for a few years now and she is always an inspiration to me. When I need healthy advice, competition pep talks or just a friend she is there.  Not only is she a fitness model, competitor and personal trainer, she is now taking over the world of naturally, sugar-free products.  Read more about Alicia….


I grew up in Illinois and at the age of 15 started working at Bally’s Health Club. I started teaching aerobics, lifting weights and at that moment I knew this was a field that I wanted to be involved in. I was always active as a child involved in cheerleading, track, volleyball and many other sports in high school. I also started modeling at a young age in many of the Petite USA Pageants all over the States.  That is where my bug for fitness and modeling truly started.

I went to college at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois and got my BA in Interpersonal Communications. After attending my first NPC Fitness and Bodybuilding show as a spectator, I said to myself next time I’ll be on stage and not sitting in the audience.  That led to the last 12 years of my life in which I competed in the NPC, FAP, and WBFF fitness federations. I started out competing in NPC figure then switched to the FAP & WBFF’s  figure, fitness model and bikini divisions.

Fitness, bikini & fashion modeling has also been a big part of my life. Once I started competing the fitness modeling began shortly after and has continued ever since. I have been featured in fitness calendars, on-line, ads, books, commercials, and fitness videos. I am also a certified personal trainer and provide nutritional/workout consultations on-line and locally.
You can say I live my life as a jack of all trades and love every minute of it as each day brings me new opportunities and much excitement. You may be wondering where all of my motivation comes from to stay in shape all the time and hit the gym everyday. I believe staying in shape and eating right is a lifestyle. It’s not just something you do part-time, it’s something you do everyday and not even think about. I truly enjoy going to the gym everyday, it starts my day off right and not to mention the results I have been able to maintain without a doubt makes it all worth while.

As to my latest creation which is my new product line at Ali’s All Natural. I have been working in the last year and a half developing a line of all natural, sugar-free syrups that are sweetened with Stevia and low sugar BBQ sauces. My product line launched a few months ago & all of my products, information and recipes can be found on my website

This project has been my passion to be able to develop such a healthy line of sugar-free and low sugar products that are not only healthy but taste amazing without all the guilt. Fitness & healthy eating go hand in hand which is why I created the products. I believe living a healthy lifestyle heavily depends on the food choices that we make daily & our dedication to the gym. I have truly been blessed and give thanks to God everyday for giving me the ability to workout, create healthy products & help others achieve their goals towards leading a healthy fit lifestyle.

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Apple Flaxseed Muffins

A friend of mine shared this recipe with me and I must say they are delicious and healthy. No sugar, no bad fats and great flavor.

1 1/4 Cup Flaxseed Meal

2 Teaspoons Baking Powder

1 Tablespoon Cinnamon

1 Teaspoon Nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2/3 cup baking stevia

4 large eggs (beaten)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup of water

1 tablespoon pure vanilla

1 medium Granny Smith Apple (finely grated)

1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare a muffin tin with paper liners. **I find that mini muffins work best with this recipe**

Mix dry ingredients together, mix wet ingredients. Add the wet to the dry and mix well. Let batter stand 10 minutes.

Scoop batter into the muffin pan and bake for 18 minutes, or until a tooth pick comes out clean.

These muffins are a nice tasty treat and I find they taste better after they have cooled completely.  ENJOY!

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Are you Over-Training?

As fitness athletes, we are obsessed with training and pushing our bodies to the max. This can be very rewarding for your body and your mind. But sometimes obsession can lead to over-training, which can be detrimental to the body, leading to injuries, illness and even body dysmorphic disorder.

Overtraining is something most of us do not think about. Overtraining can be a very negative thing for your body and overall fitness goals. Here is a list of signs that you may be overtraining:

  • Prolonged muscle soreness
  • Insomnia
  • Elevated resting heart rate
  • Increased colds and flues
  • Loss of motivation
  • Increased injuries
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Decrease in training intensity
  • A compulsive need to exercise
  • Decreased appetite

Do any of these signs stand out to you? Chances are you may be over-training. Think about your usual habits in the gym. If you are only training 4-5 times per week for 1 hour, you are most likely not over-training. If you are never taking a break and training 2-3 hours per day, then over-training is probably what you are experiencing.

Use a training log and write down how you feel after every training session to keep yourself in check. Go back and read what you have written down, and look for signs in your own words of decreased enthusiasm and downward trends in your training. It is important to listen to your body signals and rest when you are tired.

Take a break from training to allow time for recovery. If you feel that you may be doing more harm than good, take a few days of rest. Sometimes when injuries happen, or focus and motivation are low, allow yourself one week away from fitness to revive the body and mind. When you return to your usual training, you may have more focus, feel stronger and enjoy your workouts again.

The body repairs and strengthens itself during rest between workouts, and continuous training can actually weaken the strongest athletes. Taking a day or two off is not going to make you gain weight or set you back. You will allow your body to recover during your days off, which will allow your muscles to get stronger and grow.

Exercise should be enjoyed, and if you are in the gym parking lot dreading to go in, take a break. Your body and your mind will thank you!

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Crystal West – Fitness Model & Competitor


Crystal West is one amazing woman! A fitness model, competitor and attorney.  Not only is she gorgeous and smart…  she is strong!!!! She currently holds 3 world records and can perform 1,210 multi  grip pull ups and chin ups in 80 minutes! Read more about this incredible lady……


Tell us a little bit about yourself:

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and attended college at the University of Washington.  I was always into sports and was actually voted most athletic in my high school class.  I was introduced to weight training when I was just 18.  I fell in love with the weights and have been training ever since.  I did do one show in 1986 but at that time the only type of competition available for women was bodybuilding and that just wasn’t for me.  However, I did continue training and have reaped the benefits now for the past 28 years.

After college I attended law school at the University of Colorado Boulder, graduated with my Juris Doctorate, and ended up practicing law in New York City for ten years as a criminal trial lawyer. I loved my job in New York and worked my way up the ladder so that towards the end of my stint in New York I was able to accomplish my goal of handling homicide cases.

When I was 41 I was looking for some new challenges and decided to become a full time personal trainer.  I also decided to do some fitness modeling and some figure and bikini competitions.  In the mean time I started doing pull-ups at the gym and eventually set my sites on breaking World Records in pull-ups.

I have been in various fitness publications, including a ten page spread in Ironman and also have gotten one magazine cover (Ironman) which I am very proud of.  Additionally, I hold three current World Records in pull-ups, so I definitely consider myself a strength athlete.  Because of the goals I have set and the things I have been able to accomplish through hard work and lots of determination, I have also been given the opportunity to do some motivational speaking which I enjoy.


What inspires you?

I have always been driven to be the best possible me I can be.  To that end, I believe that if you can envision a goal and if you work toward it consistently and with focus you can reach it.

Different things inspire me.  This year I am focusing on my friend Linda who recently passed away.  She had MS and was in a wheel chair with extremely limited mobility, but had a beautiful spirit and an amazingly positive attitude.  I am dedicating this year to Linda and will try and raise money for the local Act for MS chapter here in the Coachella Valley.  Linda’s body gave up but Linda never gave up on life.  That inspires me.


What shows have you done and what was the outcome?

I have competed in five shows two figure comps and three bikini comps.  I have received anywhere from 2nd place to 8th place (I think) in those shows and I always try to compete in both my age division category and the open category as I get a kick out of standing next to gals half my age.


What is your favorite part about competing?

I think it is just showing that you can look good and stay in shape as you get older, (I am 46 turning 47 in May). For me, the shows are also an outlet to be on stage which I adore, and just to do something fun with no expectations.

I also think it is important if you are a personal trainer to walk the walk.  If I am going to tell someone how to get ready for the summer weather (swimsuit season), my feeling is I better be prepared to get ready myself.  I am actually starting a lean down diet today.

What has been your biggest struggle?

My true love is my pull-ups and endurance training.  The bikini competitions are really outside of my comfort zone and not something I am naturally great at.  The challenge for me is to accept that when I do the bikini competitions and such it is really just for fun.  It is hard for me to do something just for fun because I am so competitive, but I think it is valuable for me because it allows me to experience a different part of the fitness world and to just relax and have a great time.

Photgraphy by Mike Neveux

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