Monday, October 14, 2013

The Foam Roller's Magic!

If you are having problems with your piriformis, IT band, or a tight lower back the foam roller can help you release tension in these muscles and increase range of motion.  The foam roller is a great tool for injury prevention and also can help you intensify your strength, power, and  agility workouts as well as endure longer bouts of aerobic endurance training.  The foam roller's magic comes from the relief of tension or the relaxation of a muscle caused by the application of tension to that muscle.  Once the tension is applied by rolling on the roller a relaxation effect takes place within the muscle.  The effect from this type of active deep tissue therapy is called autogenic inhibition.  Applying tension to a tight muscle can release that tension and also help maintain normal range of motion in muscles that are not tight.  It is best to use the foam roller on a daily basis to get the best results.  The foam roller can be used before, after or during your workout.  To guarantee improved range of motion, a 15 min stretch session using the foam roller twice a week will do the trick.   The main benefit of using the foam roller is to improve the economy or quality of your workouts.  With better technique and posture you will have more confidence to increase the weight or run at a higher intensity when no tension is keeping you from doing so.  More quality workouts will lead to a lower risk of injury, consistency and progressive overload which is the key to your body completely adapting to your fitness regimen.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Have a Fat Phobia?

Are you eating enough fat?  This sounds like a trick question but the reason that you could not be performing well in your workouts and progressing towards your fitness goals leads to this question being answered.  Fats amount to about 30% of our diet.  Both healthy and unhealthy fat sources have a positive impact on our body.  The idea that fats have a negative impact on many parts of your body can limit your progress and overall health.  It is better to focus on the quality of fat sources rather than quantity.  The goal is to maintain a consumption of around 30 percent of total calories of fat with only 10 percent of those calories from saturated fat.
Unhealthy or saturated fats are usually consumed in meats and dairy products.  Meat and dairy products that are rich in calcium, iron and zinc are also necessary in the diet to maintain enough protein based on your body weight and goals.  These food groups should be limited due to the amount of cholesterol in which they contain.  Cholesterol can be a nemesis in your diet since it is nonessential, meaning that your body produces it on it's own.  Enough cholesterol is produced by the liver and intestines of the body, on a daily basis, so you need to eat as little as possible.   A new phobia should be geared towards cholesterol rather than fat since the exclusion of this nonessential substance will not matter all.  Due to heredity, some people have predisposed elevated cholesterol levels.  With or without this predisposition we all should limit the amount of cholesterol we consume.
To overcome your phobia, of eating too much fat, it is best to focus on healthy fat sources as well as the benefit you get from eating these fats.  Healthy fat sources are more reactive and have multiple physiological benefits.  Healthy or unsaturated fats amount to 20% of the 30% of fat calories that are required in your daily calorie intake.  Eating the right amount of fats on a daily basis lead to these benefits:
  • Maintain organ insulation and protection 
  • Helps you store vitamins that are fat soluble (A,D,E,K)
  • Maintain healthy cell membranes
  • Helps the brain develop and function properly
  • Helps the nervous system develop and function properly
  • Maintains normal hormone levels and secretion rates (Estrogen, Testosterone, and Cortisol)
Quality is key when we think about eating fat.  A diet that lacks the right amount of quality fats(unsaturated) and is loading with unhealthy fats(saturated), high in cholesterol will lead to a high risk of health problems due to obesity.  Unless you are an aerobic endurance athlete and perform an hour and a half of cardio a day, obesity is your destiny if unhealthy fat consumption is abused.  To help you overcome your phobia you must focus on the facts and the role that healthy fats play in your body.  The "scary fat" myth is over and has been proven to be less beneficial to living a healthy lifestyle.  Fats are necessary in quality sources.  Here is list of healthy food choices that are packed full of healthy nutrients that aid in the superior functioning of the human body:
  • Avocados
  • Nuts (all, including peanut butter)
  • Olive oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Fish oils (Salmon, Tuna, Sardines, etc.)
  • Soy milk
  • Sunflowers

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The 24 Hour Fitness Challenge!

fitness tips for busy people
The challenge is on for everyone who has fitness goals to stay committed and consistent as long as it takes to reach them.  Being fit for 24 hours allows you to focus on short term goals instead of being overwhelmed by the realization that it will take months to get where you want to be.  Do not worry about 2 months from now, this will only discourage you.  Focus on being fit for today.  This is an attainable goal that, once achieved, will minimize fear, doubt, and uncertainty.  The more successful you are day after day will boost your confidence and motivate you to be consistent each day.  After 24 hours of being fit, the next day will be a lot easier.  This successful memory will allow you to follow the same steps it took you to achieve previous success.  Day after day goals become easier to reach, especially after previous success.  You will have built up memory of success. This type of mindset will keep you from flooding your mind with negative thoughts about the longevity of training and a goal that you never reached.  Achieving a goal that you know can be achieved will minimize anxiety and create the arousal that is needed to carry out the tasks for execution.  So make it simple by focusing on the next 24 hours.  Do not let anything come between you and your fitness goals for today and you will see this mindset will make the future of fitness a whole lot easier. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Circuit Training is a Fat Burner!

The best way to reach your fitness goals, especially with weight loss, is to do the right things to get there.  Everybody wants to see fast results and results are a catalyst for your motivation to continue.  It is hard to commit yourself to day after day of torture in the gym and a diet that lacks substance.  When your goal is to burn fat you need to participate in the right training that is goal specific.  To burn fat you must get your body to use fat as energy when you are working out.  Circuit training allows you to perform 15 to 20 repetitions of 10 to 20 exercises in a sequence, with timed rest intervals (20-30 seconds), to force your body to burn fat for energy.  Circuit training is the most effective and efficient way to burn fat.  The more work you do in the same amount of time will also increase your aerobic and muscular endurance which is the key to fat burning.
Adapting to a circuit training program allows your body to respond to you doing a high volume of resistance training in a small amount of time with minimal rest between exercises.  To sustain this level of work the weight that is lifted should not be too heavy and the exercises must be arranged to target different muscle groups.  A lighter loud can be lifted a greater number of times which is more specific for burning fat.  Circuit training is a total body resistance training routine that forces your body to rely on mainly stored fats/ carbohydrates for energy and oxygen diffusion for energy production.  When you begin a circuit training routine your body utilizes energy stored within the muscle to do work anaerobically(without oxygen).  Once activity is continued for over 1 minute, for most people, your body needs another energy source to sustain activity and relies more on oxygen.  A load of resistance that can be lifted 5-12 times does not need to rely on energy sources outside the muscle and requires more rest in between sets.  When circuit training, the stored components used in the muscle to create energy for work become exhausted. The body begins to use oxygen to burn body fat and stored carbohydrates to sustain constant force production.  This change in energy production can also correlate with your increased heart rate and is called your fat burning zone (aerobic pathway).  When in your fat burning zone you are maintaining a sub maximal level of intensity to do work by burning mainly stored body fat for energy.  Hence the efficiency of circuit training. Most people begin to burn fat to support an activity when their heart rate is approximately 65-85% of their maximum heart rate.

Beginning a circuit training program with a gradual increase in intensity, after a few months, will have you burning fat and revealing muscle tone faster than any other program.  The key to progression and continual results is to overload your body by striving for greater challenges like adding more weight or increasing exercise complexity.  The goal of the program is to be able to do more work in the same amount of time.  Volume and intensity can go up but the duration must stay the same to increase your fat burning potential.  Amongst all that you do to achieve your fitness goals, circuit training is only an addition to your complete fitness program.  For the best results your diet must compliment the voluminous workload you will endeavor with circuit training.  It is also still important to do aerobic endurance training, at a Target Heart Rate of 65-85% of your Maximum Heart Rate, to ensure you maintain a high metabolism on your off days.  A consistent aerobic endurance program that enhances your cardiorespiratory system can compliment your circuit training program by decreasing your time to exhaustion.  You will be able to complete more exercises in your fat burning zone before you are fatigued.

It is not easy to lose weight.  It is important to consider the law of individualization when implementing yourself into a fitness program.  You should know whether it is easy for you to lose or gain weight by now.  Hard losers are encouraged to be extra strict with their fitness regimen.  You will have to work twice as hard if you are not fully committed.  Do not get discouraged.  Building a passion for fitness should be your goal.  When you are more passionate and motivated to workout, results will be the last thing on your mind.  Results are a reflection of your dedication and commitment to a cause.  The more that fitness benefits you without focusing on results more surprising results you will get. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Body Shock with Plyometric Training!

The more intense exercise that you do the more valuable the results will be.  A new challenge for you is to maximize the rate at which you contract your muscles to cause a shock effect.  Your goal is to shock your muscles so that they will build back stronger to work more efficiently and burn more calories.  Plyometric training is a great way to improve power and add some intensity to your workout routine.  Plyometric training can be done with your lower body, upper body or core/ trunk.  Basically with plyometric training you are either using your bodyweight, with or without added resistance, or a weighted ball (Medicine ball) to rapidly load your muscle.  A rapid load of your muscles after falling from a jump or catching of a medicine ball forces you to generate a greater amount of force to propel your body or the ball.  The explosive force that it takes to contract your body weight causes muscle groups to work together in a higher level of synchronization.  Plyometric training not only promotes intramuscular coordination but also is a more potent form of resistance training.  Plyometric training allows you to contract the muscle in a shorter amount of time while also completing more repetitions in a shorter amount of time.  This form of training will definitely enhance power or the rate of force production as well as enhance the buffering capacity of your anaerobic metabolism.  Anaerobic metabolism is all the mechanisms in the body that support muscular development and muscular work without the presence of oxygen.
Athletes and other fitness competitors get the most acute benefits from plyometric training.  Jumping and running are both similar in body mechanics and can be categorized as plyometric because of the continual power demands.  If you have a running event in the near future or plan to play a sport that consists of a lot of explosive quick movements, plyometric training can be the best way to prepare as well as put you at a lower risk of injury.  The more you train your muscles to support your movements, explosively, the less risk you will have of an injury due to explosive movements.  You will be better prepared for any activity that involves athleticism and agility.   Plyometric training is a functional style of training your muscles.  The high rate contractions can impose the same demands on your muscles as if you were really performing in a competitive event.  The closer the relationship to the way you train and how you perform will lead to optimal performance and subconscious movements so that you can focus more on breathing and the performance goals. 
Plyometric training can be recommended to youth and seniors as long as they have the functional capacity to do so. One to two days a week is good enough to effectively enhance your strength, power, muscular hypotrophy and muscular endurance.  As you become consistent with plyometric training you will feel lighter on your feet and be more powerful in your strength training workouts.  Runners will be able to move to a higher gear late in a race while weight lifters will be able to finally increase their one repetition maximum.  Plyometric training can redefine your goals in training and help you realize that the human body is capable of doing more than you thought it could do.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Benefits of Flexibility!

A key component in preventing injury and the ability to maintain a consistent workout throughout your life is flexibility.  Flexibility is a measure of range of motion.  Range of motion is the degree at which you are able to move around your joints. 

Here are some factors that affect flexibility:
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Activity Level
  • Joint Structure
  • Muscle Build
Everyone is affected positively or negatively by one or more of these factors.  Whether or not you are flexible, it is important that you maintain flexibility or also avoid being hyperflexible (hypermobile).  As you age and lose muscle tone your body builds more connective tissue around your joints which makes you less flexible.  Performing movements with resistance, in full range of motion, is helpful in maintaining flexbility.  Resistance training can also be productive in correcting hypermobility issues.

To maintain flexibility it is important to stretch before and after a workout.  Having a stretch session separate from a workout has also been proven to improve flexibility.  The proper way to stretch before a workout is dynamic movements without resistance that are related to the functional or isolated movement you will perform.  This type of stretching is referred to as "warming up".  A warm up should precede your workout and should last 10-15 minutes.

Benefits of a warm up:
  • Preparation for efficient muscle contractions
  • Improved reaction time
  • Improved muscle power and strength
  • More oxygen delivery to the muscles
  • Gradual elevation of heart rate
  • Less risk of injury

Stretching done after a workout is referred to as static stretching.  This can be executed with a partner (passive) or alone (active).  A static stretch can be accomplished by extending a muscle through its full range of motion while relaxed.  Once you have fully extended, to the point of slight discomfort, hold for 15-30 seconds before returning to the relaxed position.  A static stretch is not recommended before a workout.  This kind of stretch can be counterproductive if performed before a resistance training routine focusing on strength and power.  Warming up should entail dynamic movements or light aerobic training.

Static stretching does have its benefits in improving overall flexibility and posture.  After a workout is the best time to perform static stretches.  A separate stretch session can work well too, as long as you precede it with a standard warm up.  Static stretching two times a week has been proven to increase flexiblity which will prevent injury and contribute towards training posture and performance.

Injury prevention is the main reason why flexibility should be maintained.  Amongst all the other benefits that flexiblity has on performance and recovery; staying healthy, active, and consistent with you program overtime presents the best results.