Monday, November 25, 2013

 "With determination and heart, there's nothing you can't do.  I don't care how small you are, how skinny you are - I mean if you have the heart, and you have the drive, and you have the determination you can do whatever the hell you want!"

For The Beginner - Part 2

To do the various exercises, either have a personal trainer show you how and what to do to work your entire body or view the websites listed below.  If you look at a book or magazine you will probably see a view of the beginning and another view of the end of the exercise.  You need to know the rate or tempo of how fast or slow you do the movements and videos are preferred to fixed, stationary pictures.

By going online or using apps on a cell phone, you'll see how to do each exercise and often with an explanation of each movement.  Below are 4 websites showing exercises for the major groups of muscles and you can also check out apps for your smart phone.
  •    This website will show you exercises using a stability ball and they describe a 15 minute ball workout on a video.
Proper breathing during exercising is very important and you should practice on doing it correctly.  Inspiratory ventilation occurs in two forms: normal resting state (quiet) breathing and heavy (deep, forced) breathing.  The full breaths are those that will super-oxygenate your hardworking muscles and produce the most efficient workout.  These breaths are called "belly" breaths.  Many times during a workout, you may have a tendency to hold your breath.  Doing so can raise your blood pressure and strain other organs, particularly the heart.  Proper control of your breathing pattern keeps your blood pressure down.  It also keeps you more relaxed and focused.  As you contract (flex) your muscles, you should exhale and inhale upon relaxation of those same muscles.

Monday, November 18, 2013


Insanity;  doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.- Albert Einstein

Training For Beginners

In this article on training we are concerned with bodybuilding with weights, barbells, dumbbells,
machines, benches, stability balls, and, sometimes, elastic bands.  There are many other forms of exercise and maybe weights will not be your forte over a period of time.  The advantage of weight training is that you can work the entire body, or parts of the body, and include the benefits of leaner muscles, strength increases, improvement in your metabolism, and reducing the chances of many debilitating diseases.  You can include exercises for balancing, core strengthening, flexibility, agility, and weight reduction.  As you advance in the training process, you will notice improvement in sleeping, energy, digestion, etc.  The list can go on and on!  You will come to the realization that the human being is a muscle machine designed for movement.  One gets in trouble by thinking rest heals all.  Usually exercise, rest, proper diet, and moderation in all aspects are the keys to healthful fitness - first & forever.

A physical exam in a good practice for all ages, and especially for seniors.  You should know where your body needs special attention, it's weaker areas, and limited movement locations.  If you have knee problems, arthritis, balance problems, as well as heart and lung limitations, your doctor can advise you as to what, where and when your body will need special considerations.
To save you time and money, have a certified personal trainer develop an exercise program according to your desires, capabilities, and general health.  Many, if not most, clients of a gym are poor exercise trainees.  Their form is incorrect, they train with distractions (conversations with others, cell phones, and wasting time resting between sets of exercises) to an extent that their progress is hampered and goals are not obtained.  Once you have experience training you can go on your own and whether you progress is up to you.  Remember this statement as it pertains to most everything you do in life..................It's not the time you put into this program as much as it is what you do during the time spent!  Review a previous article on "Movement vs. Exercise". To work the entire body usually means doing exercises that affect the larger muscle groups. They are as follows:

  • Legs (calves, quadriceps, hamstrings).
  • Back (upper and lower back - from the neck to the lumbar region).
  • Chest (pecs, over the head extensions on a bench, side raises with dumbbells, chest pressing with both dumbbells and barbells).
  • Arms, upper/lower including biceps, triceps, forearms, dips, curls, with dumbbells and barbells).
  • Abs and core exercises using benches, stability balls, crunches, etc.
  • Cardio training on treadmills, elliptical trainers, running, step machines, stationery bikes.

Usually a period of 1 hour for a workout is recommended and, if possible, 4 times/week.  If this requires more time than you want to devote to your exercise programs, do a workout 2 times per week.  You can start out with 1 set of each exercise and learn the proper form for each movement.  8 to 15 reps are usually suggested and as you progress you can do multiple sets of each exercise.  Also try to allow about 1 week of rest for each of the muscle groups.  Cardio can be done at the beginning or ending of each exercise period.

Do at least 10 minutes of cardio and use whatever machine you like best.  The exercises listed for the various areas can be divided by the number of times you wish to workout during the week.  

With regard to how to do each exercise, you now have the benefit of the Internet.  Apple and android phones, tablets, and computers have a lot of information on each exercise you may expect to do.  You can see videos, diagrams, and pictures of exercises, starts and finishes.  Check out the apps available for your type of phone.

The Couch Potato

The Couch Potato
An Addendum

The usual potato is planted into the ground, and given a delicious dose of fertilizer and water. They grow only in Idaho, and gradually turn into an oblong mass of carbohydrate.  They ripen in the sun to turn a golden brown color.

A couch potato is a different species of potato, and they come from a fertilized egg from the human female.  As a youngster, they cry, make pee-pee, poop and cause many sleepless nights all around the globe, even in Seattle.  After a while, they crawl, fall, and bawl.  As they age, they eventually learn how to balance on two legs, like little gorillas.  When they patrol their home they come upon a bed-like object called a couch.  The couch in most homes is within easy viewing distance of the television set.  Using their youth, strength, and growing legs, they perch themselves on the couch where they spend almost all of their life.  

The diet of the couch potato resembles that of their cousins as it is an offshoot of fertilizer called, trash.  It consists of sugar, sugar products, high fructose corn syrup, pastry, cake, cookies, etc., etc.  With the TV turned on they lay flat on the couch and stuff themselves with trash.  What little muscle they had before "couching", it atrophies, and their little hands can no longer hold their cell phones.  Soon, with little movement and a lot of trash, they "round out" and roll off the couch.  Eventually, they are involved with some chronic potato disease and succumb to it. 

The moral of the story is that you do not want to live like a couch potato, so get off your butt and move around.  Try good food and you'll live a happy, healthy life so  you can get to the gym more often!

Let him that would move the world first move himself.
- Socrates

My Opinion

Like so many other subjects, some say stretch before and others say after exercising.  Most of those that recommend stretching suggest to do it after exercising, when the muscles have been "warmed up" by the activity.  I used to stretch before or after exercising but no longer stretch during the exercise period. Why?  Probably because of the way I "warm up" for each exercise.  Example:  If deep knee bends are to be done the first set is using about 50% of what the maximum load will be.  Then another set using about 75% of the maximum load and both sets 8-15 reps are used.  Rather than doing fewer reps I prefer to do the exercises at a full range of movement, thereby utilizing the capability's of the joints, ligaments, and tendons involved.

The purpose of the multiple set "warm ups" is to work the same muscles as in the final set when I like to fatigue the muscles to failure.  After failure I do 1 set of drop downs (reduce the load as necessary to do another 5-8 reps).  Stretching is okay for those that like and think its beneficial to reduce post-exercise discomfort.  Personally, I think the procedure mentioned above is much more specific to the muscles being exercised than stretching.  

Monday, November 11, 2013


"One man has enthusiasm for 30 minutes, another for 30 days, but it is the man who has it for 30 years who makes a success of his life".-Edward B. Butler


This is an article published 5/23/2013 and composed by Andrew Weil, M.D.  My opinion of stretching follows his views:

Is Stretching Necessary?
What is your view of stretching before exercising? I've heard people say it is essential, while others say it is unnecessary and possibly harmful. If you don't stretch before a workout, how should you warm up?
Answer (Published 5/23/2013)

Stretching before you exercise is not necessary, and new research suggests that it may undermine performance, not only of competitive athletes but of amateurs whose workouts include distance running, cycling or even golfing. I first wrote about stretching on this site in 2004, when I reported on a study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which found that stretching before exercise doesn't help prevent workout-related injuries. CDC epidemiologists reviewed 350 earlier studies on flexibility, stretching, and injury prevention to conclude that no evidence demonstrates that stretching prevents injuries. Their study was published in the March, 2004, issue of Medicine and Science in Sports and Medicine.

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One of the latest reports of the effect of static stretching (defined as stretching in which the muscle's elongated position is held steadily, rather than intermittently) comes from the University of Zagreb. It focused on how static stretching affects athletic performance. The Croatian researchers examined data from 104 earlier studies that explored this issue and calculated that static stretches reduce strength in the target muscles by almost 5.5 percent, with even greater impact if stretches are held for 90 seconds or more. Stretching for shorter periods of time may diminish this negative effect but doesn't eliminate it, the researchers concluded. The analysis, published in the March 2013 issue of Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, also showed that stretching reduces a muscle's ability to produce force by about two percent.

A second new study, from Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas and published in theJournal of Strength and Conditioning Research, found that after passive, static stretching, young men described as "moderately trained" were 8.36 percent less able to perform a single squat holding barbells than they had been earlier after warming up on resistance machines and with free weights. Incidentally, the researcher who conducted this study reported other results in the December, 2010, of the same journal showing that static stretching before playing golf worsened the game of test subjects, leading to significant decreases in club head speed, distance, accuracy and consistent ball contact.

No one knows exactly why stretching should have a negative effect on exercise. The authors of both reports suspect that the problem is the loosening effect of stretching on muscles and tendons, reducing their ability to store energy and spring into action.

Instead of stretching, the best way to warm up is to do a slower version of the exercise you're about to perform: if you run, walk, then jog to warm up. If you plan to walk, start off slowly. And if you're doing strength-training exercises, start off with lighter weights, using slow, deliberate form with enough repetitions to get used to each movement.

Stretching does have a role in fitness – it improves flexibility, lengthens muscle tissue, improves posture and body awareness and helps neutralize stress. For best results, stretchafter your workout when your muscles are warm and most elastic.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

"The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100 percent."


Learn "Muscle Talk"

This is the basis of all exercise (arguably) and is not usually mentioned as something to learn.  Too bad, as all trainees of any sport are involved with this "language".  Listen up: The muscles have no brain cells, no hearing nerves, and the same goes for the smell, vision, speech and some of the other senses (up to 22 senses according to some scientists).  They don't know the difference between 8 reps, 3 sets, or a Cobb salad!  So if we want to develop our body to become strong, healthy, lean, and sexy, we have to understand ............MUSCLE TALK!

If muscles don't talk, how can you understand what they want, what bothers them and what they can do? Let's say someone or some where you were led to believe that you should  do a bicep curl for 10 reps and 3 sets.  That's nice but it means nothing to the force that does the curl.  The brain tells the muscles (via the nervous system) that you should pick up a dumbbell weighting 10 lbs and curl it 8 times.  If you are strong enough to do it, you will, and maybe you can curl more than 10 lbs.  How about 15 or 20 lbs?  Sooner or later you won't be able to budge the added weight, even though your brain told you to execute the movement.  What then?  In stead of what then, consider what is the dominant force that is doing the exercise.  The muscles told the brain to "Buzz off, we can't lift that amount of weight even for 1 rep" The muscles then prevail, right? So what this all means is that there is a final point in exercising that shows up when the muscles involved get progressively fatigued until failure of doing the curl.   Whoopee!  That point may be for 1 ,5, or 15 reps or whatever.  To read that you should use 10 lbs. for 8 reps is just a guess, by the trainee or trainer.

Note: Doing exercising until failure is not something the beginner should practice.  Learn how to do each exercise in good form for approximately 8-12 reps, and usually for 1 set. As your body responds to exercise wait for at least 1 month before increasing the intensity of the exercises performed.  In the near future a program for beginners will be given on this blog.  Also, it's advisable to have a trainer help you set up a program according to your condition, health and age.

The description of exercise then becomes the progressive fatiguing of the muscles involved until failure of the movement, and it is done under supervision.  The Supervisor then becomes the trainee's muscles.