310816 Eggs are OK now

Eggs are OK now[1]

Eggs are OK now, just as they were 40 years ago.

A new study out of the University of Finland confirms what our Mothers and Fathers told us back then (for those of us who were around back then). This study reports that eating an egg a day doesn’t increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, even in those genetically predisposed to a higher than normal effect of dietary cholesterol on their serum cholesterol levels.

This study is a direct contradiction from what we have been told for the last several decades. In fact, over the past few years, several studies have reclassified eggs back into the good to eat category.

Researchers found no association, in the participants of the Finnish study, among those with the APOE4 phenotype. This particular hereditary phenotype affects cholesterol metabolism and is present in about one third of the Finnish population who are also carriers.

[1] American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, online February 2016

290816 Training explosively

290816 Training explosively

One of the issues common to the uninformed coach is doing the same thing week after week, month after month and then wondering why their program is not making progress. The answer is right in front of them: Constantly using the same activity and intensity leads to mediocre results due to the ability of the body to recognize and adapt to the same stimulus.

The repetitions used during training depend upon the level of resistance used and the percentage of intensity based on the tested one repetition maximum. Max percentage lifts limit the lifter to one to two reps whereas speed endurance lifting utilizes reps up to ten per set.

The rest break times, from 2-5 minutes, depend on the load, percentage of intensity, and the goal of the session. Max effort and high repetition lifting naturally take longer to recover from so these rest periods will be longer. Moreover, each rest period consists of two parts.

The first part of the rest is passive in nature with simple rest and no activity, taking place. The second part should be active, consisting of movements that loosen up the body doing the main portion of the work. After the rest is over it is time to get going again.

Using a Tendo unit, at a cost approaching $1400.00, certainly has the capability to display the power output of the trainee and keeping them within the proper intensity zones. However, most gyms do not have a Tendo. If you are in this group and do not have the resources to own a Tendo, the following works well according to Starzynski and Sozanski, PhD[1].

If you do an exercise in 1 second and then do that same exercise in ½ second, your power output has doubled. Strength and power, even though trained separately, still go hand in hand with both supporting the other. It must be clearly understood that you can effectively train only one or the other in the same session; otherwise, it confuses the nervous system thereby training neither trait optimally.

By using a method of load control and a method of managing the intensity of the training period, a coach can be more effective in directing the program for each trainee.

Starzynski and Sozanski state in Explosive power and jumping ability for all sports “an effective formula for training intensity in the whole preparatory period lies in distinguishing three zones of duration of exercise…”

They then go on to list these three zones as follows:

  • Slow, where the set lasts more than 11.0-14.5 seconds
  • Medium speed, with sets lasting between 8.5 to 11.0 seconds
  • Fast, with the workout sets lasting from 6.5 to 8.5 seconds.

If you initially take the time to set up the zone approach to training, the results, according to the authors, speak for themselves and are well worth the startup time spent.

Three methods of training explosively

In each case begin with a good overall aerobic body warm up of five to fifteen minutes or until you break a slight sweat whichever comes first. Sweating signifies that your internal temperature is enough to begin producing high power and work output.

Find the time, to the nearest hundredths, that it takes to do a one-repetition maximum for a particular exercise for that day. Now add one second to it.

The first method of zone training.

1.     Start with a list of important exercises that will train the lagging parts of the athlete. Usually four to five will be sufficient if chosen with due regard to the weakest area of the lift.

2.     Begin with a thorough warm up

3.     Do each of the exercises in sets of five to six repetitions beginning with 50% of the 1RM. After the first set, add 10-20 pounds to the bar for the next set. Continue adding weight until the time of the set exceeds the zone time limit previously listed. At that point, the work with that particular exercise is finished and it is time to move onto another exercise.

The second method of zone training.

Method 2 is based on the individuals previously determined intensity levels in their general and sport specific preparations. To begin the zone two training, after the warm up, load the bar to fifty percent of a 1RM in the chosen exercise. Measure the time it takes to do 5-6 six repetitions at the fastest possible speed. As before, in zone 1 training, add 1 second to this time. This makes it possible to complete 6 sets of the exercise in the workout.

The time to complete the sets is not altered, even though weight is increased each succeeding set. If the time to complete a set exceeds the time limit, the rest of the unfinished sets drop off the schedule for that session. The athlete who does not finish the sets strives the next session to do so. Those who do finish their sets continue to add more sets until they too are unable to get them done in the established time.

1.     Start with a list of important exercises that will train the lagging parts of the athlete. Usually four to five will be sufficient if chosen with due regard to the weakest area of the lift.

2.     Begin with a thorough warm up.

3.     Train the most important exercise first.

After three weeks of training the same exercise, it is time to change to another one off the available exercise list.

The third method of zone training.

This method is highly individualized with the intensity of each session strictly planned out for the particular athlete. This is the ideal situation for a strength coach because it tests their ability to develop a program of training showing definite progress over the long haul.

After a thorough warm up, the first set establishes the time to match for the remainder of the workout sets for the selected exercise. The time to meet is found out the same for all three methods, however in the third zone training this time does not necessarily mean that future workout sessions will have the same time limitations. All of them may vary depending on the strength of the athlete at the start of the session. In each case, the time of the first set determines the time for the remainder of the sets plus one second. Once a set runs past this time, the rest of the training on this exercise is over due to exceeding the time limit.

270816 An introduction into strength and power training for all ages

270816 An introduction into strength and power training for all ages

It turns out there are effective actions you can do to positively alter your health. They can help improve your blood sugar and cholesterol levels, help improve your mood, make you stronger and more powerful, and at the same time make your bones stronger to help ward off fractures.

These are not the only benefits these actions, not by a long shot.

They can potentially help you avoid disability, frailty and retain that precious independence we all want to have as we age.

Strength training can do all of this.

It is a well-known fact that strength training offers all of the benefits previously mentioned, in addition to many others such as are listed in the following section from the Harvard Medical School.

“Practically any regular exercise benefits your health. Strength training specifically helps in the following ways:

  • Strengthens muscles
  • Strengthens bones
  • Prevents falls and fractures by improving balance and preserving power to correct missteps
  • Helps to control blood sugar
  • Relieves some of the load carried by the heart
  • Improves cholesterol levels
  • Improves the body’s ability to pluck oxygen and nutrients from the blood stream
  • Boosts metabolism even while sleeping  and thus helps keep weight within a healthy range
  • Prevents or eases lower back pain
  • Relieves arthritis pain and expands limited range of motion
  • Raises confidence , brightens mood, and helps fight mild to moderate depression
  • Wards off loss of independence by keeping muscles strong enough for routine tasks”

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) there is now a heightened awareness of the benefits of strength training. There is also the fact that only a small percentage of the American population have actually started a strength training program. This percentage is estimated at just slightly under 22% for men and 18% of the women in our nation who are strength training twice a week on a regular basis.

This percentage figure is way below the U.S. governments Healthy People 2010 goal of 30% of the adults in America who make strength training a part of their exercise program.

If you’ve never lifted weights before or done any type of resistance training the biggest barrier to starting may be knowing where to begin. This may be your situation, if so all you need to start is a comfortable pair of shoes and clothing. Adding to this, a solidly built chair, a few dumbbells and if you’re able to skip rope, a skip rope. This is all you need to get started. There, that wasn’t so difficult was it?

Since the health benefits of strength training are founded on its ability to protect against the onslaught of frailty, while at the same time making everyday tasks easier and more manageable it is essential that you begin sooner rather than later. The longer you wait the more your muscle tissue, bone density, and strength dwindle. If you don’t do something about your strength and power abilities you will soon find it difficult to walk upstairs, get up from a chair, carry groceries, and fend for yourself as an independent person.

Not only will you find it difficult to do the aforementioned tasks but also lacking strength leads to falls and that can mean incapacitating fractures. This in turn further compromises your ability to lead an active life. Strength training has a wealth of research backing its ability to effectively slow down and possibly reverse these life altering events.

Even if you are in your 70s, 80s, 90s and above, research has shown a dramatic increase in strength, power, agility, and mobility within 10 weeks of lifting weights 2 to 3 times a week. Now you have to admit that this is not a tremendous time commitment, especially considering the benefits to your health.

240816 Eat your Raspberries

Eat your Raspberries

In a review of scientific literature, published in the January 2016 issue of Advances in Nutrition the conclusion is “Raspberries have a number of heart and brain-health protective essential nutrients.”[1]

It seems as though Raspberries contain anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative and metabolic stabilizing activity. All of which are good news to those of us interested in maintaining our health.

Raspberries also have anthocyanins, a known inflammation suppressant. Additional benefits accrue from the high amounts of polyphenol in the berries. Polyphenol may help in preventing platelet buildup and reduce blood pressure too.

There is further good news for those with diabetes; “Raspberries have potential to help reduce factors contributing to metabolic syndrome, which has implications for diabetes development and overall cardiovascular and brain health” says lead author Britt M. Burton-Freeman, PhD, MS, Institute for Food Safety and Health, Illinois Institute of technology.”[2]

[1] DukeMedicine, April 2016, VOL. 22, No.4

[2] IBID

220816 Healthy movement

220816 Healthy movement

Healthy movement is beneficial to your body and at its lowest level, even some activity is better than doing nothing. If you are just starting out then gradually build up your endurance with 5 to 10 minute exercise breaks throughout the day. At the 10-minute level, your body begins to adapt and then noticeable changes become evident.

After you are able to exercise aerobically for at least 10 minutes, it is time to branch out by adding resistance exercises to the daily routine. One way to begin is by doing one 10-minute session of endurance work and then later on in the day doing 10-minutes of resistance training.

Alternate between aerobic and resistance training for at least thirty minutes for the day.

The aerobic exercises can be brisk walking, skipping rope, riding a bike or any other activity that is continuous and places a demand on your breathing and heart rate. After you are finished then cool down with static stretches, holding each one for fifteen to thirty seconds. Do this three to five times for each stretch.

For the resistance training start out with body weight calisthenics by doing 3-5 sets of fifteen to thirty bodyweight squats, push ups, calf raises, prone back extensions, curl ups, leg raises or others of your choosing. You can do these in a circuit or one exercise at a time. Stay with it for the full 10 minutes.

If you are over sixty-five, the health benefits of activity are just as important to you as they are to the younger people. Start slowly and build up your fitness levels over time. If you have chronic health problems, work around them and do what you can.

If you aren’t able to ride a bike or have access to a treadmill or other such equipment, then get one of the hand ergometers available at Costco for about $49.00 and exercise your upper body. Do counter top pushups by standing two or three feet away from a counter top and then doing pushups on it.

Do chair sits. Sit in and stand up from a chair without pushing on your legs with your hands as you stand up. Practice sitting down on a chair; standing up, walking away briskly for 10 feet, and then coming back and sitting in the chair again. Repeat this for a minute or more. This builds up leg strength and helps with your balance.

Practice your balance to help prevent falls by walking sideways, standing heel to toe; practicing the stork stand on one leg with the other bent ninety degrees at the hip and knee or any of the many other balancing exercises.

200816 Getting stronger

200816 Getting stronger

It may come as a shock to you but you don’t need a lot of fancy machines, stability balls, balance pads or hundreds of dollars worth of supplements each month to get strong. What you do need, along with a plan, is the desire and persistence to keep working out with weights -that’s all. Pure and simple isn’t it?

While there may be a bit more to the equation than offered up above it’s still a lot simpler than most commercial training facilities will have you believe. Take a look at what you already may have in your training arsenal:

  1. If you can walk, jog, run or ride a bicycle then you have your cardio component covered.
  2. If you can bend over or move in various directions the flexibility portion is available and
  3. If you have a set of barbells from one to three hundred pounds the resistance piece is in place.

Each of these three parts is essential to a well rounded fitness program and neglecting any one of them will make your efforts at becoming fit unbalanced.

For example, if you are able to run miles on end but can’t carry your groceries from the car to the house then all the cardio work you have faithfully performed over the years is wasted. You need strength to maintain a healthy living from day to day.

Further more if you are unable to bend over and pick up the newspaper from the walk or have a hard time tying your shoes because you can’t reach down that far then your flexibility is in dire shape and needs to be addressed.

Spring time in this great Country of ours is a time for renewal, a time to get away from the winter doldrums and start going again on your fitness aspirations. You do want to be in better shape don’t you?

Here is a quick and down to earth training program that most anyone will be able to follow. If in doubt though check with your doctor and run it past them. In most cases you will be able to do this program without much difficulty.

At the get go this program will take up approximately five minutes of your time each day. I realize that five minutes is not much but the idea is to get used to doing something for yourself every single day. Pick a time that you know you can set aside every day. It can be five minutes as soon as you wake up or just before going to bed. Some people find that by exercising just before bedtime that it keeps them awake. So you might want to take this into consideration.

Once you have decided on this particular time slot stick with it. The first time you make an allowance for not exercising in ‘your time slot’ the next excuse for missing soon appears. It won’t be long before you are no longer exercising. This is the slippery slope of foregoing a session.

The five day per week program will change the training emphasis every week. During the first week you do your strength training three times, your cardio twice and your flexibility every day. On the next week do cardio three times and strength training twice with flexibility every day. Keep a work out logbook.

On the strength days work the major muscle groups, i.e. shoulders, chest, upper back, lower back, legs arms and abdomen for two to three sets of eight to ten repetitions. Work quickly and keep your heart rate up in the target zone for your age.

When working on your cardiovascular choice of exercise add only ten percent to the time or distance every other week depending on your progress.

Emphasizing your range of motion at the end of each training session will result in noticeable range of motion increases. Hold each stretch for around ten to fifteen seconds but not in positions of pain. Mild discomfort is the lesson to be learned here.

150816 The metabolic syndrome and what it means to your health

150816 The metabolic syndrome and what it means to your health

The metabolic syndrome is the name given by the medical profession to a group of health risks having a strong potential to increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. These unhealthy conditions are for the most part avoidable simply by eating less and getting more exercise.

The five components of the syndrome are:

  • A waist that is larger than 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men. Some men may be at risk even if their waist is greater than 37-39 inches.
  • Low cholesterol readings of the good HDL. Women should have numbers under 50 and men should have their numbers under 40.

Higher than normal, but not necessarily high numbers in the following categories:

  • Systolic blood pressure of 130 or higher and a diastolic reading of 85 or higher.
  • Fasting blood sugar count of 110 or higher
  • Tested triglycerides of 150 or above after fasting.

According to the doctors, a person with three or more of these five categories raises their risk of becoming diabetic and developing heart disease.

The research specialists believe the root cause of this syndrome is an inefficient insulin response.

The metabolic syndrome is the consequence of our body being ineffective in processing fats and sugars. The research shows that belly fat creates increased inflammation and a greater risk of heart disease in those with big bellies. These fat cells also release a product that can drive up blood pressure by reducing the blood vessels ability to relax between strokes. Additional problems with belly fat cells occur because they generate proteins that increase the process of insulin resistance.

In case you are wondering what the term insulin resistance means here is a brief explanation.

The hormone insulin makes it possible to remove glucose, also known as blood sugar, from the blood stream and put into the muscle tissues. The muscle uses this as energy for movement. If too much glucose is in the blood stream it is stored as fat. Therefore, the term insulin resistance means the body is having a hard time delivering the glucose to the muscle tissues (insulin resistance) so the amount of blood sugar rises in the blood stream.

The cause is the waist is too big! Our bellies are too fat, too large, too much over the belt, hanging out too far, you can call it whatever you want to, but the fact remains we are a nation of too much fat. And it is all in the wrong place.

130816 Coordination and Fall Prevention

130816 Coordination and Fall Prevention

The premise is development and continued training of coordination and strength will help prevent falls from occurring.

Coordination is made up of many aspects, all of which contribute to the safe and efficient execution of daily tasks and sport participation. An oft-used definition describes coordination as the ability to successfully accomplish movement patterns that require the interrelated cooperation of various parts of the body to complete. These movements are completed with a minimum of effort and without tension or mental mistakes while doing so.

A properly constructed coordination training program will involve continual learning and subsequent perfecting of the basics which will follow a well thought out plan of attack. Consideration must be given to the following attributes of the program.

Continuous variation of the movement patterns, meaning inclusion of the acts of balancing, throwing, catching, jumping, and marching
Perfection of the basics of coordination as mentioned in an earlier paragraph (maintain a sense of rhythm, spatial orientation…)

Combinations of strength, strength speed, and endurance integrated within the coordination training will use the repetitive methods of achieving success in the development of coordination abilities. By using various methods during practice the body increases its repertoire of skills.

A very basic but productive coordination program is a combination of balance, quick controlled movements, mirroring another’s hand, arm and leg motions or executing familiar exercises in new positions. Other additions to the routine which are phased in on an irregular basis will be adding extra moves to an already mastered technique or exercise or doing them in different conditions such as on a balance pad or with perturbations via personal contact or elastic bands.

Of course each of these suggestions needs to be carefully evaluated by the individual or the individual and their doctor if osteoporosis is an issue. Broken bones derived from an exercise are not conducive to good bone health!
As would be expected the physiological basis of this component of living lies in the synchronization of the neurological motor processes of the body. These processes must function in such a manner as to excite one motor control center without a residual effect on another motor center directing another part of the body. Most individuals include agility and balance in the mix with coordination. Typically one will not see a well-coordinated person with deficits in agility, balance or strength. Additional attributes will also be seen in the coordinated ability to maintain a sense of rhythm, spatial orientation and kinesthetic differentiation along with proper reactions to sound or visual cues.

Coordination training has its roots in diversified movements, versatility and large global, expansive and expressive movements. The more exercises and movements that are mastered the better prepared the body will be to learn more complicated ones in the future. In order to vary the training, incorporate these twelve features into the program. Not all at once though. Explanations and examples follow.

1. Direction of movement changes
2. Vary the starting positions going into the movement
3. Change the finishing positions
4. Utilize larger ranges of movements
5. Fluctuate the pace of movement
6. Place time limitations on the movements
7. Add additional moves
8. Add additional tasks
9. Environmental changes
10. Practice coordination in an environmentally disturbed state
11. Changing responses to various cues for exercises that require a reaction to a signal
12. Performing another movement requiring coordination that upsets the balance and coordination of the previous move.

Direction of movement changes

Once a move is mastered it becomes second nature to repeat. Enlarging upon this natural pattern then becomes the training goal. For example when doing dumbbell curls it is easy to move both up and down at the same time or to do alternate arms but try moving one up for one repetition while simultaneously moving the other up for two repetitions.

Change the starting positions

Every exercise has a start, middle and finish position. A regular squat begins by standing upright with the bar on the back. And it normally ends the same way. Now start it in the down position. You will experience new challenges.

Change the finishing positions

As mentioned before all exercises have the three elements of start, middle and finish. In the previous example we started at the bottom of the lift. Now finish at the bottom instead of in the standing position.

Utilize larger ranges of movements

In some exercises the movements are very small compared to the larger gross movements of the body. The barbell curl can be made into a much greater range simply by ending with the elbows held high at shoulder level.

Fluctuate the pace of movement

Cadence counting is a reminder to keep smooth and on track with the exercise. The use of a metronome is a handy device for altering these patterns. Set one up for 30 beats per minute and keep up with it. Next set it for 50 beats and repeat the exercise or have your trainer or partner count in an off cadence manner as you exercise. The eccentric motion can be at a count of 1,2,3,4 where as the concentric is 1, 2. The next count could be at 1, 2 with the eccentric and the concentric also at 1, 2. The point is to disrupt the natural flow and force the body to accommodate to the new speed changes.

Place time limitations on the movements

This is similar to the preceding but in this case the exercise is executed an exact number of repetitions during a precise amount of time. Jumping up and landing ninety degrees from the starting position four times in fifteen seconds. Sticking the landing and in the correct ending position with each repetition.
Add additional moves

Additional moves added into an already mastered exercise develop the coordination process by adaptation of an altered motor control sequence. Jumping up and down while moving one arm up and the other down, or kicking the legs outward as you move your arms to the sides are examples of such added moves.

Add additional tasks to the exercise

This is a commonly used tactic for trainers on a limited time line. In the military press you could add shoulder shrugs top and bottom as the extra movements

Environmental condition changes

This implies adding extra weight to the athlete, altering the height of an obstacle that must be jumped, doing the exercises in water, in a very limited space or with distractions surrounding the athlete such as noise, crowded conditions in water.

Practice coordination in an environmentally disturbed state

Do the exercises while blindfolded, with added perturbations using tubing, elastic bands or partner disturbances to the balance practice positions. One example out of hundreds will be while standing heel-to-toe have a partner gently tug or push various parts of your body as you remain balanced and continuing on with the exercise.

Changing responses to various cues for exercises that require a reaction to a signal

In this case we are making the body adapt to external cues before performing a maneuver. For instance, a light could signal a squat whereas an audio signal would mean a jump squat was to be performed or both signals at the same time could mean a twisting jump squat where the athlete jumps up and turns a specific number of degrees before landing.

Performing another movement requiring coordination that upsets the balance and coordination of the previous move.

For example, spinning in a circle and then standing on one foot, doing a rolling forward somersault and then standing heel to toe immediately thereafter.

Each of the preceding examples are parts of a coordination training program; but simply practicing coordination is not enough to prevent falls from happening. It seems as though some falls are inevitable. Those that aren’t are the ones we are working on fixing at this juncture. Coordination without strength is an oxymoron; the two are mutually supportive and must be included in any sensible program.

Strength and coordination

A well coordinated person implies adequate strength to maneuver the body in such a fashion as to move gracefully with the utmost of efficiency while doing so. Adding extra weight to the body increases the demands made upon the coordination processes within the organism particularly if the balance properties are being challenged to any degree.

080816 Protect your memory by staying at a healthy weight

080816 Protect your memory by staying at a healthy weight

New research recently published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found a link between weight and memory loss in older women. An analysis of data gathered from 8,745 women, aged 65-79, showed no signs of dementia at the beginning of this study. Things changed.

Throughout the study, periodic body mass index (BMI) measurements were taken on the participants.

The researchers found that for every increase in the BMI unit, memory loss also increased when measured from the memory test. This is not unexpected.

Clearly, from all the scientific studies conducted over the years, there is a direct link between excess body fat and heart disease. The fact is that for every risk for cardiovascular disease there is also a risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, the findings were not inconsistent with other data gathered relating to weight gain, cardiovascular health, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The question may arise as to what is a good BMI number. The standard reply is between 18.5 for a normal weight, 24.9; 25-29.9 is considered overweight and 30 plus is obese. However, these numbers should be viewed with caution if you are athletic and muscular. For the purposes of the study, the women were neither athletic nor muscular.

Some dietitians believe that individuals over seventy may be better off if their BMI scores are slightly higher, i.e. 25-27, than recommended by the BMI charts. The reasoning behind this lies in the definition of the ideal weight, which can change, as we get older.

Shedding weight does not seem complicated; eat less, exercise more. However, there is more to it than that. There are dietary changes one can make in cutting weight safely. Putting these changes into effect is another matter though. Here are few ideas to help.

Enjoy frequent but smaller nutritionally balanced meals.
Leave fried foods off the menu.
Eat more fruits, whole grains, and vegetables. These foods add more fiber to your diet.
When cooking, use canola or olive oils. They are healthy monounsaturated fats that your body needs to function.
If you are over fifty, add more lean proteins such as chicken and turkey, without the skin and fish.
Cut back on the simple sugars in your diet. Consider whether you actually need that pop or sugar based fruit drink. You probably don’t.

To get a kick start in losing weight begin with a daily log of what you eat and drink. These diaries help maintain the focus on healthy eating and make you accountable for the calories going into your body each day.

Additional actions that will lower your BMI are aerobic and anaerobic exercise five to six days a week. Not only will exercise help with weight loss but it can help raise your energy levels, lower your blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, blood sugar and triglycerides.

You may be thinking that losing a lot of weight until you are under the BMI recommendations would be even better. However, this is not the case.

If you are under the numbers on the chart, you may be at risk of being or becoming malnourished, which can lead to other health related issues such as osteoporosis.

Admittedly, some older citizens may unintentionally be losing weight by not be eating enough nutrients due to poor teeth or dentures, decreased appetite, and in certain instances difficulty in swallowing their food. If this is your case, see your doctor. If not then consider eating more frequently each day.

Eating smaller, but balanced, meals five to six times throughout the day will help you gain weight. Foods such as fish, legumes, nuts, poultry and whole grains taste great and make it easier to add the calories to your diet.

If you are still unable to lose that excess fat then it is time to seek the counsel of a registered dietician. These professionals will closely examine your habits, lifestyle, overall health then create a well thought out outline for you to follow in regaining your health.

Not only will losing weight help to keep your memory intact it also contributes to less pain in the joints, lower cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar control, which assists in diabetes and cardio management.

060816 Beginning a Strength Program

060816 Beginning a Strength Program

Often times a person thinks long and hard before beginning a strength program. Along the way these questions invariably arise:

  • How do I start?
  • Where do I begin?
  • What do I do?
  • What exercises should I be doing?
  • How do I do them?

Women generally ask how do I flatten my stomach, get rid of the flab on the backs of my arms or strengthen my bones. Men are asking how to get a six pack and want to know how to bench press more weight.

These questions can be answered by a certified and competent trainer. Notice I did not say just a certified trainer but a competent one as well. A certification from a recognized source such as the National Strength and Conditioning Association implies the trainer has demonstrated superior knowledge, is competent to coach and is well up to the training task. Competency and results are the ‘proof in the pudding’ as the saying goes.

A needs analysis from each participant starts out the process in helping to identify health issues, goals, and previous exercise experience.

Next will be the first strength training session. During this phase each individual is shown the exercises in the correct fashion. The trainee will practice the exercises with little to no weight until the technique is correct.

Properly designed exercise protocols start with a dynamic warm up; not static stretching. Static stretching, as seen with many runners standing on one leg while pulling the other up towards the buttocks, is NOT the way to begin an exercise session. Static stretches relax the joints and the nervous system. This is exactly the opposite desired outcome of a strength program.

Engaging in static stretching before any explosive sport such as gymnastics, sprinting or wrestling is even worse. It opens these athletes up to injury due to the neuromuscular confusion resulting from the relaxation and opening up of the joints.

Dynamic warm ups, on the other hand, involve moving the body and its limbs around the joints range of motion, getting the pulse up and raising the respiration rates in preparation for the resistance exercises. Skipping rope is an excellent way to start because it helps develop coordination and endurance with the use of minimal equipment.

A beginning routine is made up of large muscle group exercises featuring balanced applications of sets and repetitions for both agonist and antagonist groups. After a movement specific warm up where each exercise is performed ten to twelve times do eight to ten repetitions for two to four sets. A set is one group of eight to ten repetitions.

Follow each set with a rest period of sixty to ninety seconds, depending on your present conditioning status and then begin the next set of the same exercise. Move through the list at a steady pace. You should not be in the weight room much longer than forty five to fifty minutes.

Not all exercises will be performed each session but these are the essential ten and form the foundations of any strength program.

Consult with your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine.

  • Military presses
  • Chin ups or pull downs
  • Bench presses
  • Barbell rows
  • Squats-only with your doctor’s full knowledge and consent
  • Deadlifts- only with your doctor’s full knowledge and consent
  • Curl ups or full range sit ups- only with your doctor’s full knowledge and consent
  • Back extensions- only with your doctor’s full knowledge and consent
  • Laterals- only with your doctor’s full knowledge and consent
  • Calf raises

Keep a log book of your progress.