Friday, October 31, 2008
Although weight training doesn't burn the same number of calories as aerobic training, it does increase your overall muscle mass. That in turn increases metabolic activity and more calorie burn. As mentioned in the previous post, combining strength training and cardiovascular training is a one-two punch to help improve overall fitness. One key to being efficient with both components is doing a strength-training circuit which incorporates a full-body workout and short bursts of cardio activity. See the circuit training workout from Shape Magazine below.
Posted by FitGal at 10:41 AM
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I read many health magazines and there seems to be a bias. Men's magazines emphasize strength training over cardio; women's magazine emphasize cardio over strength (until very recently). Why not do like Deion Sanders and have both! Don't substitute one for the other but incorporate both into your workouts. An ideal routine would be to have 3-4 cardio workouts (varied duration and intensity) with 2-3 strength-training sessions per week. You can fit these in on the same day or alternate strength and cardio sessions throughout the week, depending on your time constraints. This strategy helps keep weight off by burning calories during the activity (cardio) and after the activity (strength training builds muscle = higher metabolism).
Monday, October 27, 2008
When pressed for time, stretching is the first item to go in a workout. It doesn't have to be that way. With some restructuring of your workout time you can fit stretching in even when you have a limited amount of time. Always warm-up and cool-down for about 5 minutes prior to any cardio workout session. This warm-up is usually a lower intensity version of your chosen cardio activity. These warm-ups and cool-downs optimize your stretching so you can get through a basic stretch routine at the end of your cardio workout in about 6-10 minutes. When doing strength training fit in your stretches between sets and focus on the muscle group you are working (see my previous post on active recovery). Consider integrating small stretching sessions throughout your day (see previous post on workplace exercise). Look for stretches that give you the most bang for your buck; focus on the areas that are consistently tight when time is limited.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Have you been working hard and consistently but not seeing more results? Take heart, with a few small tweaks to your workout you can start seeing improvements. If you are a beginner and have reached a plateau, it's time for change! Your body has finally adjusted to your workout and you have reached an impasse. Vary your strength training by changing from machines to free weights (or the opposite). If you have been using barbells, try the same exercises with dumbbells or maybe a cable machine. Experiment with changing how many sets, repetitions, weight or exercises you do and see what works. As far as your cardio workout, vary the duration, intensity or activity to challenge your endurance. Try working on the treadmill, bike, and rowing machine all in one session or alternate from day to day. Before long, you will be able to identify when a current workout needs to be reworked to increase its effectiveness again.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I have found that in order to minimize post-workout soreness you have to manage your routine. If you are new to working out, starting off slowly and gradually increasing your intensity will allow you to get results without the soreness. This takes time and patience as everyone wants to see result immediately. Unfortunately, this enthusiasm frequently leads to excessive soreness or injury resulting in termination of workouts. If you are a consistent exerciser, making small changes to your workouts will give you results but you must make more of them consistently. Let one small change lead to another and before you know it you have a whole new workout. Consider examining your warm-up. You may find your soreness comes from not preparing your muscles adequately for your strength session. Another strategy is to work in some active recovery between sets of exercise. Doing some stretching or abdominal work between sets can help keep aches at bay. Let me know if you have a strategy for getting results without aches and pain.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Most experts agree that keeping a food journal is a great way to lose and keep weight off. Putting in writing what you eat as well as when you eat can help you identify patterns. Once patterns are identified you can do some "pattern interruption" and introduce new healthy eating patterns. The issue is keeping track of all of this throughout the day. There are many high-tech devices that make food journals tolerable. If you have ever seen the TV commercial where the wife sends her husband to the grocery store with pictures of the items she wants on his camera phone, you have the idea behind services such as nutrax. This is just one such product but it indicates there are tech services (some are free) available to help you.
Posted by FitGal at 2:57 PM
Friday, October 17, 2008
You do it all the time at work, multitasking. With a few simple changes throughout your workday you can make time for some exercise. To get you started, if you live close enough to walk to work, do so. If not, when you park your car take the furthest space from your building. Once in the building, take the stairs not the elevator for some aerobic work; rather than emailing co-workers in the same building, go walk to their office when time permits. Save time by bringing your lunch and then use some of your lunch hour to walk around your office complex. If appropriate and feasible, ask for a wireless headset for your phone so you can walk in your office while making routine calls. Whenever possible, do some office stretching after long bouts of computer work or add some relaxation exercises to transition at the end of the day. Check out the links below for other workplace suggestions.
How to Stretch at Work
Exercise at Work
How to Stretch at Work
Exercise at Work
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Many of my colleagues in the fitness and health business subscribe to the idea that six small meals a day works better than the standard three meals a day. This mini-meal philosophy may work for bigger folks but for small people like myself (5' 2" on a good day) this seems ridiculous. Based on my height, my age and activity level, if I want to stay within my weight range I would be eating about 1500 -1800 calories per day. If you divide 1800 by 6, you get about 300 calories per mini-meal. For most individuals, this is unrealistic, even if you make breakfast your biggest meal of the day. My gut feeling (no pun intended) is that the health industry does not think that the average American can make it through a couple of hours without putting something in their mouths and so, proposing something different would not work or be dismissed. Yes, there is the need to keep blood sugar up throughout the day but if you balance your main meals correctly, you can make it until the next meal. I am not a nutritionist but I can do the math and I would rather eat bigger and better meals (500-600 calories) three times a day. If there is a need for a snack (usually in the afternoon), then something for under 100 calories plus a good glass of water can extend me until dinner. Let me know what you think as everyone has different preferences.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Want to perk up your fitness routine in one easy step? Find a fitness buddy. Fitness buddies make activities more interesting, social, as well as safe. A fitness buddy can motivate you to work out even if you don’t feel like it because you have made a commitment to someone else. A buddy can help you break in a new gym, get you to your workout class, help train for a 5k race, or plan an outside adventure. Make sure you find a buddy with similar goals and schedule and then have fun!
Friday, October 10, 2008
I have never been a big fan of meditation—I can’t seem to stand still or manage a mantra. What I have found to work for me is active meditation. I started off with body-focused meditation through deep breathing. Close your eyes and sit comfortably in a chair with both feet on the ground and breathe deeply through your nose for 5 minutes. The deep breaths allow your muscles in your chest and diaphragm to tell your mind that you are ready to relax. You can use the same strategy when doing your stretching at the end of a workout. Once I found I could do this consistently, I moved on to more active tasks (such as walking the dog) and used the same process to bring my thoughts back to the present task (rather than making my shopping list in my head). In this way, my meditative state was based on my strides and my breathing. By doing so, I directed my energy which in turn becomes relaxing. Give it a try!
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
A study by Duke University indicates that even mild exercise can help you improve your heart health (Shape, February 2006, pg. 102). They assigned 133 sedentary adults to various amounts of exercise programming. The highest intensity group exhibited the highest gains, yet all participants improved overall. You may only need to walk a couple of miles a day (average 12 miles per week) to see improved cardiovascular health. Once you meet this realistic goal you make want to move toward something more challenging. Regardless of your ultimate objective, starting off with anything is better than not starting at all.
Monday, October 6, 2008
According to a new study, most Americans eat more from Friday-Sunday than they do during the week. Those extra calories could lead to a 5 pound weight gain over the course of a year. So how can you work on keeping strong? Scale back on your splurges; you do not need to eliminate them completely just monitor your portions.Incorporate some fun activity over the weekend to help you relax and/or burn off any of the small indulgences you may have had on Friday or Saturday night. Finally, stock up on healthy food and plan some nutritious meals you can enjoy over the weekend so the temptation to eat fattening food will be lower. Some minor preparation and planning can keep the weekend weaknesses in check.
Friday, October 3, 2008
I don’t usually advocate comparing fitness levels with others as a way to gauge improvement; everyone is different and needs to establish their own standards. There is one exception—when someone has been successful with something I want to accomplish. My neighbor seems to be losing weight--what are they doing that I am not doing? My friend just started yoga and does not complain as much about muscle soreness--would that work for me? My busy work colleague makes it to the gym before work-- How do they do it? If someone else has been successful with a specific strategy over a long period of time, ask some questions and see if it could work for you.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
There is confusion around the order in which you should do your workout—cardio or weight training to start? Unless you are a professional-level athlete, whether you do cardio or weight training first probably won’t change your overall results or performance, yet depending on your own personal goals starting with one or the other may be more helpful. If your personal goal is to get stronger, strength-training first allows your body to use more energy to help lift more weight and do more repetitions. If your goal is to lose weight, starting with cardio may help boost your calorie burn for the rest of the session. Regardless of whether you do strength-training or cardio first, make sure you warm up for 5 – 10 minutes before you begin.