In life we all know there are no guarantees, well maybe except death and taxes. Another cultural likelihood is that something will happen in your life that will make you want to take better care of yourself. Maybe a health scare to you or a loved one, not liking the way you looked in the mirror this morning (okay, every morning) or finally realizing getting winded by a single flight of stairs isn’t normal. For some this could be a fleeting moment, for others something they experience once or twice and for still others a lifelong ritual. Whatever the reason while we have our own best interest in mind we just have to act on it and make it work.
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In a few short weeks fitness facilities around the world will be buzzing with those seeking to improve their physical status. For some of us this is a lifelong journey of self-fulfillment, a commitment that has emblazoned exercise onto our lifestyle DNA not unlike eating and sleeping. Without it we wouldn’t quite feel our selves, well at least not our best self. For others it is a new endeavor full of hope and promise. Whether you are new to exercising or rather familiar you know what it takes to get into shape, to lose that weight or build that muscle.
We’ve all likely heard the term muscle memory at some point or another. Trainers and coaches like to throw it out all the time, but what is muscle memory anyway? Do people with big muscles really have more memories stored away? And what about people with minuscule muscles are they memory gig deficient. Has a scrawny guy just not lived enough? Wouldn’t it be funny if the bigger your muscle got the more of an information repository you’d actually become.
Whether you workout on your own, take group classes or have a personal trainer you likely have started to notice the benefits of an ongoing exercise program. You now may look leaner, feel stronger and have more energy than before. While many of us generally start an exercise program to look better by losing some weight, toning up or adding some muscle the benefits of your efforts actually go much deeper.
A common question I seem to get from new clients or interested parties is something like what kind of exercise should I be doing or I do Pilates or yoga, is that enough? Well to best answer those questions I thought I would post an article I had written elsewhere last January. At worst you will gain insight into my exercise philosophy, and at best you'll learn what to expect when you come in to see me. Considering that we are just out of the summer slump and that friend and family reunions during the holidays are on the horizon, exercise enthusiasm tends to spur up at this time of year. Consider it a mini new year of sorts.
The concept of interval training has been around longer than I can remember. It’s the reason Lifecycles and StairMasters had built in programs taking you up and down simulated hills during a workout. The science behind it is this; by varying the workload during a workout session you also cause a variance in heart rate resulting in both greater aerobic demand and greater calorie expenditure. The net result would be increased conditioning and more significant weight loss.
his is a basic work-out designed to yield an overall minimum level of conditioning. From here you will be prepared for a more vigorous level of sport or conditioning. As always, check first with your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to under take a physical conditioning program.
This is a 3 times per week progressive routine. Start with 1 circuit for the first week’s workouts, 2 on the second and third weeks followed by 3 circuits from week 4+.
Where as losing some unwanted body fat feels like a drink from the fountain of youth, spot reducing has always been the Holy Grail. Let’s be honest, we all have that one (okay) two spots we’d like to lose while the rest is pretty much okay. Billions of dollars have been spent on such remedies as: gels, wraps, abdominal blasters, pills, potions, etc. only to find that they don’t work. Still, some people think, if it’s on T.V. it must be real, there goes more $$$.
Savvy exercise enthusiast and trainers are well aware of the error in this line of reasoning. All the crunches in the world aren’t going to make your abs flat, plastic wraps aren’t going to make your hips smaller, and oatmeal baths and deep tissue massage isn’t ridding you of cellulite just because the spa lady said it would. Lies, lies, lies.
Sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s true. I often hear people saying they are afraid to lift weights because they don’t want to gain weight or look bigger. The error is in their perception, they couldn’t be father from the truth and here’s why…
Generally when we say we want to lose weight what we really mean is we want to lose fat, the loose fleshy stuff hanging from arms and thighs or spilling over into a muffin top. Be honest can you pinch some? If not, why read on you’re already a god or goddess. For everyone else, that doughy stuff between your fingers are the glad bags of the body. That’s right, fat is essentially stored energy in the form of fatty acids that can also contain fat soluble chemicals some even toxic.
Have you ever seen a fat sprinter in the Olympics? The fact is that sprinters, whether it is a runner, swimmer or cyclist, tend to have the best muscle to fat ratio in sports. Short duration high intensity exercise not only burns fat, but also builds muscle and increases bone density.
Generally, when most people want to lose weight they cut back on calories and begin a cardio program usually in the form of prolonged low-moderate intensity exercise such as a 45 minute walk or 3 mile jog, etc. Now where this practice would improve cardiovascular health and burn a number of calories while performed, you get virtually no significant bump to metabolism after stopping. In fact without resistance exercise large amounts of cardio can actually lead to a loss of lean body mass thus lowering metabolism.
Knowing how and when to stretch properly is just as important for preventing injury as well as improving performance.
Let me start with a question. Say you have a bag of rubber bands in the refrigerator for safe keeping. Would you take one of the bands and stretch it to its maximum straight out of the cold refrigerator? What do you think might happen? Will it develop some micro tears, maybe tear completely? Not of much use now is it? So, if you wouldn’t want to do this with a rubber band, you probably wouldn’t want to do this with your un-warmed-up muscles either.
As a personal trainer I often have new clients ask me what the correct heart rate training zone should be for fat loss. I have recently read message boards and forums with claims that to lose fat you should stay in the 120-135 bpm zone. The rational comes from the fact that under low level activity our physiology uses much higher percentages of fat as a fuel source. While maintaining this pace for 20-30 minutes will render benefits in weight loss and conditioning and is a good course for older participants or those with restrictions, the fact is the caloric expenditure is too small.