240413 Burning off the calories and keeping healthy

Burning off the calories and keeping healthy

Physical activity burns calories. The optimum method of controlling your weight is a combination of good nutrition (see a registered dietitian), and exercise. The question now is what kind of exercise is the most efficient and longest lasting in its effects.

Many people use aerobics to successfully help control their weight and improve their physical fitness while others use strength training to achieve similar goals.

In each case, physical activity speeds up your metabolism for a few hours afterwards. Of course, how much this materializes depends a great deal on the intensity and duration of the activity. Nonetheless, it happens and at a higher rate than if you did nothing at all.

The best way to keep this higher rate of calorie burning is to strength train. The reason is because strength training increases your lean muscle to fat ratio. The higher this ratio is the more your body burns the calories since muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat tissue.

Strive to strength train 2-4 times a week for a minimum of thirty to fifty minutes at a time. Do your large muscle groups such as the chest, shoulders, legs, and back for 3-5 sets of 8 to twelve repetitions for each exercise. On the off days from strength training, do your aerobic training for fifteen to forty minutes per session.

No matter which method you choose, consult with your doctor beforehand, keep the intensity up, and stick with it.

220413 Setting yourself up for success with your exercise plans

Setting yourself up for success with your exercise plans

A beginning exercise program should be fun and easy to follow. It should not be a complicated affair filled with complex and hard to follow directions or intricate movements. Just keep it simple, follow it each day, and have fun. The more complicated you make it the harder it will be to stay up with it.

Set your goals as precisely as possible. For example, telling yourself you want to be stronger may sound good, but it is too general. Do you want to be able to do one push up or one hundred? It makes a difference doesn’t it?

Be specific about each of your goals by knowing exactly where you want to go with your exercise dreams. Decide how you want to exercise, how much you want to exercise, how long you have to reach your goals (both immediate and long range), and how much time you will dedicate to each training session. Without knowing each of these and writing them down it is unlikely that you will actually get there.

Start out slowly and don’t overdo it the first time. It is easy to be over enthusiastic when beginning but this same enthusiasm can lead to being extremely sore the next day. This is something that catches unwary trainees by surprise. Good coaches nip this in the bud by not piling on exercises. Remember, if you are a coach, that it is easy to make someone sore.

You will have to decide whether you need a workout partner. Some people do well with one and others do well on their own. It all depends on your need to be with someone when you exercise.

If you find the right partner, each of you can exceed your expectations in the gym with the mutual support and encouragement you provide to one another. However, if you hook up with a lackard, one who does not show up on time, doesn’t push, or is too social then your training will suffer. You have to decide what is best for you.

Whatever you do, it has to be a fun experience otherwise, you won’t keep it up.

150413 Get strong and stay strong with strength training

Get strong and stay strong with strength training

It would appear, from a casual glance at the magazines in the stores that aerobics is a panacea for all the health problems existing in our country. Well it does sell magazines, but is it true?

Certainly participating in aerobic activity plays an important part in accomplishing and then maintaining a certain level of good health. However, lifting weights or sandbags, using resistance bands, and body weight calisthenics are important to anyone who wants to preserve or increase their lean muscle mass.

We are not talking about showboat muscles. We are talking about muscles that are necessary to help lead an active daily life. Having a strong upper body, midsection, and lower body helps delay the frequent muscle weaknesses that automatically come with age.

Exercising the muscles increases the stress placed on the bones, which in turn makes the bones stronger and less susceptible to fracturing. Resistance training also helps increase the fat burning capability of the body due to the more active muscle tissue  in relation to fat.

Full body resistance training a minimum of two times a week and preferably three times per week for 30 to 40 minutes a session will most assuredly increase your fitness level and at the same time make you stronger. Follow a schedule that includes the major muscle groups of the body for 3-4 sets of 8 to twelve repetitions each set. Rest a minute or two and then start the set over again until they are all completed.

The major muscle groups include the shoulders, the chest, the upper back, the lower back, the legs (both front and rear), the biceps and triceps, and abdominal muscles. If you feel as though time is limited then do an upper body one day and the lower body the next day. Do your abs everyday on both the upper and lower schedules.

120413 Developing a basic fitness plan

Developing a basic fitness plan

Losing weight is a topic of many conversations in the United States and for good reason; we are nation of obese people. For this reason, it makes sense to follow a soundly designed overall fitness plan. A good fitness plan makes it easier to control your weight, while at the same time improving your physical health and fitness.

Regular exercise improves the capacity of your heart to furnish the nourishment that is so necessary to your body and if done effectively, gives your lungs a good workout. Exercising and strengthening these two major systems in your body, make up the basics of any fitness plan.

You can reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure and even lower it, if it is high, by engaging in a regular program of physical fitness. Additionally your risk of heart disease, suffering a stroke, developing type II diabetes, and even certain types of cancers, along with Alzheimer’s can be reduced by increasing your physical activity.

Not only will you be physically healthier but also an added bonus will be improvements in your brain power, elevated moods, and a higher quality of life as you grow older.

By participating in a moderate aerobic style of exercise, which by the very name implies increasing your heart rate, and holding it there for a certain amount of time you will deprive many healthful benefits. One of which is losing weight.

The best part about aerobics is you do not have to buy a lot of equipment. It would be wise to purchase a high-quality pair of running or walking shoes if your budget allows. If not, simply start walking or doing yard work. Anything that will increase your heart rate above its normal resting rate will be beneficial. Other options include jogging, running, swimming, biking, or my favorite, skipping rope.

Aerobic conditioning

Aerobic conditioning is your body’s adaptations to working continuously with oxygen or in other words with air. Aerobic conditioning is cardio respiratory endurance or aerobic power. The word power indicates a strong response to imposed conditions.

Cardio work is a continuous activity that puts an increased demand on the heart, lungs, and circulatory systems of the body. Generally, large muscle groups of the body are involved for extended periods without a break, thus the term, with air. The original term “aerobics” came from the father of cardiovascular training, Dr. Kenneth Cooper, of the famed Cooper Institute.

Ideally, you need to be working up to 30 minutes a day with an aerobic exercise if you want to see good results. To make this type of exercise beneficial to your cardiovascular system, do 30 minutes of an aerobic workout at between 75 and 80% of your maximum heart rate.

The easiest, although not necessarily the most accurate, method of finding your target heart rate percentages is to subtract your age from 220. This gives you the starting point of your potentially maximum heart rate from which you multiply the percentage to get your target heart rate (THR).

For example, if you are 50 years old subtract 50 from 220, which results in 170. The 170 is the beats per minute (BPM) and it is this number that you will multiply by 70% to give to your target heart range of one 19 (BPM).

So, if you are going to exercise for 30 minutes use the first two or three minutes warming up with your exercise of choice and then increasing the intensity until your heart is beating it 119 BPM. Continue at the same pace until your 30 minutes is up and then spend 5 to 6 minutes cooling down with a slower level of doing the exercise until your heart rate is back to near normal.

080413 Building your own limited space workout room

Building your own limited space workout room

The primary advantage of owning your own gym is you can exercise anytime you want to and you don’t have to wait for equipment to free up from the knotheads jawboning to their friends.

If you are looking to maintain your physical fitness or improve a little bit, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on equipment. Furthermore, you don’t need a lot of space to have a nice gym set up.

You can even have equipment set up outside for use when you are working in the yard or feel like working out outside. A chin up bar between two trees, a selection of rocks in various weights and sizes, and inner tubes filled with traction sand all hold up very well for outside use.

The first thing to do is to decide exactly what you want to be doing. Do you want to focus on your cardiovascular capabilities, flexibility, balance, strength or on all four? Each one will have equipment that is particular to attaining the goal you choose.

For example, if working on balance you need a stability ball that fits your height, several different types of balance pads, and a good instructional manual to follow. In the case of cardio, a good stationary bike or skip rope is a good purchase. Neither of these takes up much room and provides a good cardiovascular workout.

For flexibility purposes a set of the large stretching bands, a length of rope with loops at various distances and perhaps a pulley set up. For resistance training, you will need a solid bench, a barbell and dumbbell set and if space allows a squat rack.

All of the equipment listed above can fit into an area as small as 10 x 10.

I have recommended craigslist to many of my trainees. It is an excellent spot to find used exercise equipment. This is especially true in the spring because by this time many people have been walking around the non-used equipment that they bought in a frenzy at the beginning of the year. The prices are good and in most cases negotiable.

All in all, there are really no good excuses for not exercising since the cost is minimal and the location to exercise is where you live.

050413 Make your workouts more productive

Make your workouts more productive

Commit to working out with a good friend

Many people who want to work out find that exercising is more productive when they do it with a friend. This leads to competition during the period. Unless you are highly self-motivated, it’s easier to make an excuse and not exercise your hardest if you are doing it by yourself. However, with a friend, it is more likely that you will follow through because you don’t want to be a pansy.

You only cheat yourself by not working hard or even worse, missing a session.

Find a gym that fits your personality

Some gyms are exhibition halls of tank tops and spandex for the younger crowd. If you are not already in good shape, these may be intimidating. Men and women do not want to go into these gyms because feel like they are a course on the body buffet. The point being is you want to be comfortable with those around you while you’re exercising. This means you want to be with people similar in age, overall appearance and exercise ability.

Hire a trainer or instructor.

If you have never exercised before, or if you used to exercise three or more years in the past, then first up would be a hirer a trainer because things have changed. When doing so, ask them what certifications and qualifications they have. The top certifications are from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). These trainers can show you how to use the equipment the correct way. This minimizes your exposure to injury.

They will guide you along in developing excellent technique for each of the exercises. Once you become somewhat familiar with doing them, you are going to be enjoying yourself more in the gym. You don’t have to be with these trainers forever, but do learn the basics and then strike out in your own. Periodically it might be wise to hook back up with the trainer just to check out how you doing with your exercise technique and your program.

Pick activities you like to do

Your interest in the exercise is going to determine whether you stick with it. If you feel like walking, then walk. If you like to socialize then get involved with a socializing activity such as bowling or some sort of recreational league sport. If you want to get stronger, then lift and cut the jawboning. All this does is cuts into the exercise time with unproductive results and at worse take up air someone else could be using. That being said, if all you want to do is socialize then go to a gym with lots of machines. They take no brains or instructions to use and are ideal for idle chitchat.

If you like constant movement, try some dancing or endurance running. Strength training can be both a social and individually focused activity, depending on your ultimate goal. If social, go to a social club and leave the hardcore lifters to a hardcore gym.

End each session with something challenging

If you find that doing Bulgarian split squats is something that, even though you know are highly beneficial, but really don’t like to do, then get those out of the way right off the bat when you’re fresh and eager. This serves you in two ways: one, the exercise is over and secondly you know that the rest of the workout is going to be more fun now that they are done. You can now leave the gym with good memories of doing your last exercises.

Keep records

Keeping an exercise logbook is essential to tracking your progress and for successfully reaching your goals. You can get as detailed as you want by listing things that you eat, drink, the quality of your sleep, the number of hours you slept, how you felt doing exercise, the weight used, the repetitions performed, the sequence of the session, how much you weigh going in and leaving, the restorative methods used… This record keeping is up to you. If you use it, it will serve you well.

By following these tips, you will set yourself up for success in achieving your exercise goals each day, each week, and each month.

100313 Increasing endurance and thereby increasing the ability to strength train longer and harder

Increasing endurance and thereby increasing the ability to strength train longer and harder

In preparing to exercise aerobically, remember that aerobics are only a part of a full conditioning program. Other necessary components include flexibility, strength and power, muscle endurance and a safe healthy body composition. In other words, be able to do the task at hand without carrying excess body fat around.

Here are the steps to follow before exercising for the first time.

1. Complete a Physical Activities Readiness Questionnaire aka a PAR-Q
2. Speak to a doctor before beginning any exercise program
3. Begin slowly in your program-consult with a National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) or a NSCA Certified Personal Trainer (CPT)
4. Always warm-up prior to exercising, get the pulse up and the breathing rate increased to meet the demands of the upcoming exercise session. After exercising then cool down and stretch.
5. Follow the fitness triad prescription of flexibility, strength and cardiovascular throughout the week
6. Don’t overexert but stay within the guidelines for your age and experience-see number three above for a CSCS or CPT recommendation
7. If you are sick or injured, don’t exercise. You can however exercise common sense and prevent any further delays in getting better by taking it easy for a short time until you are well again.
8. Select a NSCA certified trainer

Introduction to aerobic conditioning

Aerobic conditioning is your body’s adaptations to working continuously ‘with oxygen’ or in other words ‘with air’. It is also known as cardio respiratory endurance or aerobic power. The word ‘power’ indicates a strong response to imposed conditions.

Cardio work is a continuous activity that puts an increased demand on the heart, lungs, and circulatory systems of the body. Generally, large muscle groups of the body are involved for extended periods without a break, thus the term, ‘with air’. The original term “aerobics” came from the father of cardiovascular training, Dr. Kenneth Cooper, of the famed Cooper Institute.

Cardiovascular training

How hard an individual exercises aerobically will be determined by age and current physical condition. The Tanaka formula is the most precise for figuring out the target heart rate range.

Figure your target heart rate using the Tanaka formula.

1. 207 – 70% of your age = Maximum heart rate.
2. MHR – Resting heart rate taken as soon as you awake = Heart rate reserve.
3. Heart rate reserve X 70% + resting heart rate = Heart rate target range.

So why are so many aerobically out of shape? Is it due to a lack of desire, lack of time, or a lack of motivation? The reasons are many but the truth of the matter is this; “in order to make changes change is necessary”. [1]

Research has clearly shown the benefits of increased cardiovascular health in lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and other unhealthy heart and lung conditions. [2] Now is the time to make these positive life style changes and you can by following these suggestions for a successful new beginning.

• Begin by seeing a doctor for an overall physical.
• Set up your personal fitness goals.
• Dress for success. Wear good fitting walking, running or bicycling shoes. Dress in proper fitting clothing, layered in the winter and reflective in the summer.
• Exercise EVERY SINGLE DAY by putting a check mark on the calendar to show yourself you CAN make the necessary changes to succeed.
• Chart your progress every day, write down how you did, how you felt. Make it your personal workout diary.
• Drink enough to stay hydrated; your urine should be a pale yellow. If not and it is bright yellow and strong smelling then you are dehydrated unless you are taking in excessive vitamin B supplements.
• Progress slowly. Start out by walking, riding a bicycle and then finally by jogging and running. Vary the cardiovascular workout mode for added benefits.
• Chart your target heart range and stay in it for the recommended amount of time for your age.
• Overload your body correctly, but don’t change any one variable by more than 10% each time. For example, if you are running for ten minutes add only 10% to the increase for the next level. In other words, add one minute. Gradually get used to the new time, or longer distance or faster pace, but only by 10% of the previous times, distance or pace.
• Acclimatize your body to its new routine. Vary the load, intensity and frequency so your body does not become accustomed to these variables.
• Make exercise a habit.

Safety cautions

• Let someone know where you are going and for how long you will be gone.
• Exercise with a partner if you have a difficult time in remaining self-motivated.
• Walk, run and ride in a safe legal manner, follow your state statues for engaging in these activities.


Within the first SIX MONTHS, most people QUIT. Are you going to be one of them? Try these tricks of the trade to avoid dropping out of the exercise mode.

• Make exercising FUN.
• Go at a comfortable yet challenging pace.
• Do more than just walk, run and bicycle. In other words, cross train.
• Take music along with you. Just don’t have it blaring in your ears through an earplug. You cannot avoid danger if you can’t hear it coming. Leave one plug out so you can still hear.
• Exercise the same time each day. Get it out of the way early or make it the last thing you treat yourself to at the end of the day. Make it natural and convenient. You will be better able to stick with it.
• Keep records of your achievements each day.

Once you have your trainees working out at least twice a week and them seeing improvement in their ability to do things without running out of breath, it is time to introduce strength training into their schedule.