Health and Wellness

Body Fat Percentages: What do they mean and is it important?

What does my Body fat percentage tell me? Should I take it for my client?


When a client tells you’re his/her goal is to track progress I believe in having as many baseline tests as possible. Assessments, BF%, weight, etc. This allows you to stay positive when a certain number of tests do not show progression there will be a higher chance a few will which in turn keeps a positive attitude toward continuing health and wellness related tasks with their trainer…you.

When first starting to train with clients they may ask you to take their body fat measurement. There are a handful of ways to do this but for the sake of time and likelihood of your equipment I will assume you are using a bioelectrical impedance machine.

The more variables your machine uses the more accurate it can be. In addition, understanding that it’s not about the initial accuracy as much as it is the differences up or down upon the next measurements. Even if the machine is off, let us say at 1.5 %, you can still measure your client’s progress from their initial measurement as the machine will be consistently off that same 1/5%.

Understanding body fat percentages

If I were to take two adult twins (male, female) who looked very similar physique wise, the difference in body fat % would be in the region of 6% -10%. So, a male with a great physique and very noticeable abdominal musculature at 8%, could look similar to a female at %14-%18. 


5-9% - This is the range of an athlete, fitness freak, or teenage male. At this BF% you can see abdominal musculature definition and the person would typically be visually more vascular throughout the entire body. However, someone with 4-6% is visually much different than someone with 9%.

10-14% - When a male breaks 14% body fat, upper abdominal definition and some external obliques can still be seen, but the definition is minimal and the lower half of the abdominals are typically not defined.

15-19% There is still faint definition here in certain men, but typically a smoother more filled out look with noticeable fat accumulation. Your average runner will have this body fat percentage often.

20-24% - Definition has now ceased. You are not meeting any criteria for health concerns, but this body type would no longer be considered athletic.

25-29% After 26% BF in Men, you can be considered Obese (32% for Women). Typically you have a "gut", and fat pockets start to hang over your hips.

30-34% - This is full blown obesity. Typically no muscle definition anywhere, and well overweight.
35-39% - At this point, your gate is abnormal from holding the excessive weight and your health is of concern.  


5-9% - Ripped. This is female elite body building level. Extremely vascular and complete abdominal definition.

10-14% - Very good definition. Something along the lines you would see from a model on the cover of Shape magazine. 

15-19% - Athletic build, with great shape and very little body fat. Definition along the lower abs starts to fade, but still distinct ab definition in the obliques. 

 20-24% -  Athletic build, with great shape and very little body fat. Abdominal muscles showing, and somewhat defined but obliques and hips typically not.

25-29%-  Very little in the way of excess fat, but a softer look with minimal definition ranging on the upper part of the abs. 

30-34% - Still in good shape, typically with curves, and muscle definition starts to fade although the stomach will typically still be flat at these percentages. 

35-39% - No real definition and noticeable fat deposits around the stomach, however not noticeable when lying down.

40- 45% - Considered visually out of shape, and excess stomach fat even while lying down.

VO2 Max: What exactly is it?

Do you need a VO2 max measurement before working with clients? How would you do that? My VO2 Max is 44. Ok, cool. What does that mean?!


   It is a measure of your maximum aerobic capacity or maximum oxygen uptake. It measures the volume of oxygen one can transport through the body as you exercise. It can be used as an indicator four your overall cardiovascular system health. When you exercise your muscles need oxygen and the level of your VO2 max can indicate if that oxygen is being delivered efficiently.

   Age, Gender, Genetics, Altitude – these can all affect your VO2 max. VO2 max does not indicate how likely you are to be good at a sport (as some think). Yes, if you partake in an endurance sport it can be an indicator, but for the most part it’s just one of many measurements used.

  VO2 max can also be looked at as the difference between oxygen inspired and oxygen expired in a particular unit of time. I can break the measurements down into 2 categories: Lab vs Gym.

a.      Lab – If done in a sports performance lab, either a treadmill or stationary bicycle is standard in testing. The goal is to analyze both the concentration of gas (oxygen/carbon) and your respiratory rate. They use a mask like Ivan Drago from Rocky IV, which connects over your face. There is date measured with the proper computers along with a heart monitor. The VO2 max is reached when oxygen consumption remains at a static position even with an increase in the workload. You then become anaerobic rather than aerobic.

b.      Gym - Sub Maximal Tests are used in a non-lab setting. The two most common Sub Maximal Tests are: YMCA 3 Minute Step Test, and the Rockport Walk Test. Both of these can easily be done in any standard gym setting. All NASM CPT’s should be able to perform this with their clients. I have video links here to both.

                                                              i.      RockPort

                                                            ii.      YMCA

   I personally don’t think it’s important unless you have an endurance athlete who needs as many baseline measurements as possible to see if he or she is working more efficiently. For anyone else, it’s just a baseline number for motivation.

  Training harder will increase your VO2 max. However, for a minute let’s think of it like increasing your 1 mile run time. At 46, can someone increase their 1 Mile run time through training? Sure. Can they beat their 1 mile run at 16? Unlikely.

In summary, VO2 max is not that important to the average fitness goer, and even the fitness professional, personal trainer, and group class instructor. The primary way to access your client’s capacities are going to be subjective like the talks test.

Ask them how they feel during the exercise routinely. If they are doing bodyweight squats for a set of 20, you should have asked:

1.    How do your knees and back feel?

2.    What feels like it’s firing/working?

Those questions will answer multiple important issues. You will find out if your client gets tired by their mannerisms and how out of breath they appear while talking and exercising simultaneously. In addition, you can access if their level of body awareness which is simply their ability to engage muscle groups and put themselves into the proper positions.

Always check in with your clients during and after exercises so you can develop into a better FIT (Fitness Industry teacher) by honing your craft of assessing the proper work rate for your clients.

Can CBD Oil help Arthritic pain?

CBD oil has been all the rage of late. It has been used to help insomnia, pain, anxiety, among others. But what exactly is it, and does it really work? Let’s unpack a few of the reoccurring questions concerning CBD, which are:

-          The difference between CBD oil extracted from hemp and the use of marijuana

-          Research that is relevant for the use of CBD for particular issues/ailments

-          What brand CBD should I look into?

Cannabinoids are the active ingredients specific to the cannabis plant, and they are the compounds primarily responsible for the healing effects. The two most effective and studied cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Our bodies contain endocannabinoids in numerous organs, including multiple brain regions. The endocannabinoid system is involved in maintaining bodily homeostasis, especially with regard to the following functions:





Immune system responses (i.e. inflammation)

Exercise is known to also stimulate the endocannabinoid system. Supplementation with CBD is thought to improve numerous conditions by helping to restore balance to the body and brain.

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), another compound found in marijuana and some hemp strains, CBD is not psychoactive and therefore does not give users a “high.”  Research has focused on CBD for its wide ranging positive health effects.

There have been 70 cannabinoids identified to date, and there are several others currently being studied, such as cannabigerol (CBG) and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV).

It is worth noting that THC and CBD also only convert to an effective pain-relieving agent under heat, which is why smoking, vaporizing, or baking it is important.

What CBD research points toward:

-          Reducing the presence of pro-inflammatory compounds in the body and brain

It may do this by repairing oxidative stress in a similar manner as antioxidants, potentially removing a major roadblock for the production of feel-good brain chemicals.

-          Restores natural endocannabinoids.

Endocannabinoids (and even the number of endocannabinoid receptors) have been found to be severely depleted and even extinguished entirely by bad lifestyle issues (diet, drinking, etc)

-          Helps relieve pain

Clinical trials have proven links to suppressing pain receptors from some of the chemical reactions caused by CBD.

Arthritis: Pain Relief Evidence

Over 50 million Americans suffer from arthritis. Arthritis, which literally means inflammation of the joints, is another condition that CBD oil may be very effective for.

There are two common categories:

·         Osteoarthritis (OA): A degenerative disease that affects joint cartilage and bones, causing pain and stiffness. It often affects the hip, knee, and thumb joints.

·         Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): An autoimmune disease in which a person's immune system attacks their joints, causing inflammation. RA commonly affects the hands and feet and leads to painful, swollen, and stiff joints.

Research published below has found a dramatic reduction in inflammation and signs of pain, without adverse side effects in rats with arthritis after the animals were given CBD:





A 2017 report concluded that there was substantial evidence that CBD cannabis-based products are effective for treating chronic pain. Another, separate study published in 2012 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, suggests that CBD use can lessen both pain and inflammation.

This human study found Sativex, a cannabis-based mouth spray, helped to relieve arthritis pain. However, the cannabis plant extracts that the company use to make the spray contain both CBD and THC.

2008 review of research into CBD and its possible mechanism of action suggested that CBD could play a role in chronic pain management.

Cannabidiol Oil and use as a Medical Supplement

CBD supplements can be found in the following forms; capsule, spray, or oils. The oils can be used to smoke or consumed orally.

How do I know what brand to get? Make sure the product is all natural CBD oil, and not synthetic. It should be labeled appropriately. Pure CBD oil, will contain all the proper hemp based beneficial components.

My go to brand is CBDPure, which makes CBD oil from organic hemp that contains zero THC. A friend started using this company and referred me. It was much better tasting (they can taste very earthy/grassy), quicker shipping, cheaper, and worked better than the previous companies I had tried. Additionally, they had a 90-day refund policy and a 15% off coupon (attached below).

CBDPure offers three different versions of CBD oil: 100mg, 300mg, and 600mg.

My recommendation would be to start with just 1/2 a dropper, which contains 1 gram of “full spectrum” hemp oil (no synthetics, all the benefits from the hemp plant)

Although the calming effects take to some people instantly, the anti-inflammatory responses will take longer.

*Make sure to contact your doctor before using CBD*

Additional Pro’s to going with CBDPure

-          Hemp harvested in Denmark (high quality)

-          Their process of C02 extraction > Butane/Ethanol (most US companies use the latter)

-          High potency

-          Lighter taste

-          Organic (full spectrum)

-          Free Shipping

-          Third party tested

-          Discrete shipping

-          90 day money back guarantee

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5 Mistakes During HIIT Workouts

5 Mistakes During HIIT Workouts


HIIT exercise or High Intensity Interval Training is simply repetitions of high-intensity exercise for a specific number or duration broken up with low to medium intensity recovery periods. HIIT workouts are all the rage these days, and many gyms have started to do HIIT specific classes. Whether you are planning to start your first go at a HIIT class, or you’ve been doing them for a while on your own, below are some tips to make sure you are doing things in the correct manner.


1. Do not stop completely during your recovery period...that is not HIIT.


You must continue a low to medium intensity movement in order for optimal caloric burn expenditure. By stopping completely you decrease the caloric burn potential, and also allow too much oxygen re-uptake which in turn allows your body to stay aerobic. Obviously, for the sake of safety if you feel exhausted, light-headed, dehydrated, you should stop immediately. However, overtime you should begin to understand both your high and low zones and keep track of your heart rate in order to not have the issue of over exertion.


2. The term "high intensity" is person specific so find your zones

The general rule of thumb however for heart rate in high intensity is 220 - Age X .80, .85. or .90. However, this varies among different level of athletes and different ages. 

The rest intervals should be somewhere around 220 - Age X .65. Again, this varies on your cardiovascular and fitness level. Whatever your zones are, find them out prior to jumping into a HIIT class and use a HR monitor (apple watch, etc) to track this in order to stay as close as possible. If you do not own an electronic that can keep your heart rate, you can learn overtime to assess your breathing and respiration as you get a better sense of your body’s limitations.

You can also take your own pulse. Just place two fingers between the bone and the tendon over your radial artery, which is located on the thumb side of your wrist. When you feel your pulse, count the number of beats in 15 seconds. Multiply this number by four to calculate your beats per minute.


3. Use compound movements as much as possible


Compound movement are simply exercises that use multiple muscle groups and/or sections of the body ( i.e. upper body, lower body, core) together in the same movement. This pushes your body to expend more energy, and subsequently gets your heart rate into the high intensity zones faster. Using isolated movements (i.e. a shoulder press) will not get you into a high heart rate zone as fast as using a compound movement (squat to shoulder press). 

Hopefully, your instructor is creative enough to give you these movements. If you are doing this on your own, think about combining any lower body movement with an upper body movement. For example:

(Using Dumbbells)

Lower Body: forward lunges, reverse lunges, narrow stance squats, sumo squats.

Upper Body: shoulder press, bicep curls, high pulls, lateral raises


Giving you 4 lower body and 4 upper body exercises gives you 16 unique compound movement exercises. That is just scratching the surface as there are endless combinations when integrating fitness tools and toys as a variable into that equation.


4. Change your movements or stations in your HIIT class routinely


Your body eventually adapts to the stress you put on it. You become efficient at the movements you do often, and although that is good for sports (i.e. swinging a golf club), efficiency has the less than desirable effect in fitness of using less energy to complete the movement. You have to challenge all muscles, and you have to continue to do so through muscle confusion in order to burn more. 


You will inevitably find movements you like more, or are better suited to do. However, you must challenge yourself by doing the movements that are more difficult for you. Also, if given option from your instructor choose the movements that are new over the movements that you’re comfortable with.


5. Don't compare how long your HIIT workout is to your other workouts


What people do not notice is the short intense workouts produce a high level of EPOC. EPOC is Excess Post-Exercise oxygen consumption - (Many refer to this as the "After Burn"). Typically, the more intense a workout is the higher the EPOC. This allows for people to work in short intermittent bursts yet feel the effects of caloric burn for hours after as the body recovers and tries to restore homeostasis. 

It is normal to assess the HIIT routine, and wonder how a potential 30 minute workout is better suited for caloric burn than 45-60 min on the elliptical. You have to trust the metabolic and physiologic science that backs this exercise medium as being effective. When it comes to caloric burn, it’s not all about the duration, it’s also about the intensity.