Monday, June 30, 2014

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 "If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus; and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them."
-- Bruce Lee

A Planned & Scientific Approach
to Exercise

Let's start this posting with a few "givens".  The first one is that you are healthy enough to do exercise and that you are in reasonably good health.  There is, therefore, no medical reason why you should not exercise or have debilitating factors affecting your performance.  The second factor is that if you want to succeed, you have to make fitness a top priority in your life.  That includes attention to your diet, what you eat and if it is balanced, nutritional, and adequate to meet the requirements you place on your body.  Are you a couch potato and shaped like one?  Overweight and under exercised?
The third consideration is that you have to be motivated and consistent in your workouts.  Starting and stopping is what you do with your car.  You can buy another one but you can't exchange your body.  You LIVE in it, keep it healthy and it will keep you out of the hospital and on the tennis court.

You can do different forms of exercise, in the gym, at home, or running around a high school track. You may enjoy Pilate's, Yoga, or jumping rope.  Do what you like but remember that you should try to work all the muscles of your body, including your heart and lungs.  Look to develop a firm, trim and shapely body, with consideration for mobility, stretching, movement, flexibility and strength. Also seek to build up your endurance (watch for shortness of breath) and keep in touch with your doctor if you have medical problems.

The equipment you need for exercising is determined by the type of workouts planned.  The guidance given here is for strength training either at home or in a gym.  Try to buy workout clothes that are loose enough to allow for perspiration and comfort.  If you run, get enough room in the toe box so that your feet are comfortable and will not be cramped.  Hopefully you should be able to elevate your heart rate as it is one of the signs of what happens when you exercise.  Couch potatoes are attached to the ground, but you should be active, moving, breathing at an elevated rate, and with  your heart rate in the proper range for your age and physical shape.  

Other than your clothes and shoes, I would  definitely recommend a heart rate monitor.  If you workout in a gym, the machines that have built-in monitors, and are often not working or are not accurate. The monitor provides guidance to you as to what your intensity should be, the workout zone you should train in, and it can provide a lot of useful information that should be of value to you. Cardiologists have done extensive research as to what the normal heart rate should be at it's maximum rate, and it varies according to age.  To do this they used healthy people, male and female as subjects for their research. There are some differences in rate according to who did the research but the usual formula most commonly used is 220 - your age = your maximum heart rate.  Now, if you're new to exercising, you should use a lower rate to workout in than what you will use as you progress in your fitness program.

An example could be a 45 year old female,  about 20 pounds overweight, without exercise experience.  To plug in the numbers: 220 - 45 = 175 beats/minute.  Being overweight without having exercised for a number of years, we'll use 50% of her maximum ( 175 X .50 = 87.50 or 88 rounded off.  This will become her training rate and she should have her average heart rate for her workout period to be approximately 88 beats/minute.  A good heart rate monitor should give you this information.  She should maintain this rate for a month or more, until she feels ready to reach a higher level of intensity in her workout.  This is a safe, scientific method that she can use and eventually go up to a 65% -85% of her maximum heart rate for her age. During her workout period this average HBR (heart beat rate) can include walking or running on a treadmill or using an elliptical trainer, or spinning on a bike.  She can spend about 10 minutes doing "cardio" and the balance of 45 -60 minutes using barbells, dumbbells, machines, doing calisthenics, push ups, squats, or whatever.  

Next week we will go more into the actual workout routine.

Monday, June 23, 2014

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"The road of life might be difficult or easy.  But whether we want to be in the driver's seat doing the best we can, or be dragged down the road yelling a loud screaming - is our own personal choice."

How To Keep Your Exercise Program
On Track And Progressing

In any exercise program one can reach a plateau when you seem to spin your wheels without showing progress in strength, firmness or in front of the mirror.  Strength training requires ever increasing intensity in your workouts because that's what it takes to stimulate muscular hypertrophy, toning and progress. You should also vary the exercises to use different muscles, increase the reps with lighter weights, and decrease the reps with heavier weights.  Start a set of each exercise using about half of what one rep could accomplish.  Example:  If you can do squats with a  maximum of 130 lbs. on the barbell for 1 rep, use 65 lbs to warm up the muscles of your legs.  Do another set for another 10 reps using about 95 lbs.but not to exhaustion.  The next set (3rd) try 110 lbs. until failure.  Then, if you are an experienced trainee, drop about 15-20 lbs off the barbell and do another set to failure.  Do this for all the muscles you want to develop and you should be able to get yourself out of the rut and on the highway to progressive bodybuilding.  The more advanced in your training and the more knowledge you acquire, the faster you'll be able to do multiple sets to fatigue your muscles.

Albert Einstein said "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome." Another aphorism is "“If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got." So pushing yourself during your workout, and varying your exercises for the same muscle groups you want to develop, is the fastest and best way to progress.  It's a good sign when you have some pain and tightness in the muscles you worked on the previous day.

Next week the topic we'll consider a planned, safe, and scientific approach to strength training. It will be defined, in detail, and somewhat in a cook-book style presentation.  Each step should be understood for practical planning if you want to adapt some or all of the ideas given for your own personal program.

Monday, June 16, 2014


“High and fine literature is wine, and mine is only water; but everybody likes water.” 
― Mark Twain

Water & Hydration

To talk about how much water you should drink before, during and after exercise is, like many other subjects, variable from one source to another.  One source says that your water consumption should average between 0.5 ounces of fluid to 1 ounce of fluid per day.  So if you weigh 150 pounds, your water requirement should be between 75 and 150 ounces per day. If you are drinking from an 8 ounce 
glass the amount of fluid should run a little over 9 glasses per day and if you need more fluid, say 150 ounces per day you would require almost 19 glasses per day.  

The amount of fluid should be based on the intensity, type of exercise and the time you spend doing it. 
Numerous other variables are also involved but in any situation you can begin the day with a glass of water each morning, be a training day or a rest day. It seems that the best measure of how much water to drink is your thirst. The benefits of taking large amounts of water each day, over and above the time you become thirsty, are mostly unsubstantiated. The claimed benefits of taking a lot of fluids include weight loss, fatigue, arthritis, headaches and alertness, preventing constipation are mostly unproven.  It is also an unproven factor to consider the color or your urine.  Some say a dark color may mean dehydration but there are many other causes of color changes. Also, even though caffeinated beverages are stated by some that they cause dehydration, a recent study has found that tea, coffee and sodas are hydrating for people and thus should count toward their daily fluid total.

Too much fluid can also cause problems.  When one consumes large amounts of water during exercising, the blood plasma (the liquid part of blood) increases, while the sodium concentration in the body fluids decreases.  This can develop into hyponatremia, or low blood sodium, and in can happen after drinking too much water.  The adverse effects of too much water and not enough sodium in the tissues may lead to tissue damage, and interfere with brain, heart, and muscle function. Symptoms can include vomiting, muscle twitching, delirium, seizures, coma and death.

A recent study of three deaths of US military recruits highlights the danger of drinking too much water.
The military focused on the dangers of not drinking enough, especially under conditions often associated with exercising and in hot conditions. 

A young man I knew was an experienced marathoner and just finished his fourth run.  At that point, at age 45, he died as what some experts think was caused by too much water drinking before and during his run. 

As in most endeavors we undertake in living, moderation is the name of the game ...........don 't flood your belly with water or any other fluid!

Monday, June 9, 2014


Some funny quotes on running/jogging:
"I over train so I can overeat"
"Kick asphalt"
"Your pace or mine?"
"Fast girls have good times"

Is Running Good or Bad 
For Your Well Being?

The answer to that question all depends on who you talk to and what are the circumstances, genetics, and many other considerations that can affect the correct answer.  Let's look at some of the factors that influence the outcome of running benefits or harm, especially to the knee joints.
  1. There is a definite genetic influence on the structure of the joints involved in the exercise, and that includes the bone health (osteopenia, osteoporosis, bone density) the menisci, and the shape of the articulating surfaces.
  2. If there is pain while running and does it affect the position of your feet both taking off and landing while doing the exercise?  Pain can be a good indication of joint problems and if it gets worse or not improving, medical advice should be considered.  
  3. Some experts claim that running can bring more fluid in the knee joint and allow for freer movement.  Running is a weight bearing exercise and this aids in maintaining bone density. Thicker and denser bone stay stronger with less chance of fracturing. 
  4. A lot depends on the weight of the runner.  Example:  A 100 lb runner will have approximately 400 lbs striking the payment when landing on his feet.  This 4:1 ratio can be used for any size runner. Most successful runners are very trim and lean.  Being overweight is definitely a no-no.
  5. Running is not good for those with hyper-extending knees. In this case the inside part of their feet drop inward more than they should when they're running. That causes stress on the feet and knees, so their bodies are naturally not great shock absorbers.
  6. A C-shaped meniscus cartilage in a knee joint can wear down and lose it's sponginess (loss of shock absorption) which can eventually lead to arthritis.  Being overweight or running over a long period of time is a contributing factor.
Preventive measures for good health and function of the joints include moving around and by staying active.  Couch potatoes do exactly what you do not want to do if you are really interested in fitness. Weight bearing exercise and good nutrition is essential.  Try using an elliptical trainer when the knees start to bother you.  These machines allow your feet to be on a secure base without jumping up and down as in running.  You can have a great cardio workout with more consideration for your knee joints on an elliptical trainer. Be sure you have a good supply of calcium and vitamin D3 in your daily diet.

Along with exercise and good nutrition, be cognizant of adequate sleep and rest.  Exercise is a catabolic procedure (meaning it is a tear-down of the muscle tissue) and it is rest that brings back muscles that are healed, stronger, and firmer than before the exercise was undertaken.  This part of your fitness plan is called anabolic, or build up of the muscle tissues.

Monday, June 2, 2014


"The root of all health is in the brain. The trunk of it is in emotion. The branches and leaves are the body. The flower of health blooms when all parts work together." 
Kurdish Saying

Are You Running 'Naked'

The Wall Street Journal for May 29, 2014, Sports section, had an article entitled "How to Run 'Naked' - and Really Love It."  It's author is Jason Gay.  Jason means technologically he now runs naked.  "No watch, fitness wristband, heart-rate monitor, virtual coach app, head-phones, music or AC/DC and Ice Cube, even though I really crave AC/DC and Ice Cube." And you know what?  He adds, "And I love it."  Jason is now "in tune" with his body and not being distracted by technological gadgets.

In the gym, the same thing occurs. Many people are not running naked.  Some wear ear phones, some diddle with their cell phones, socializing by gabbing with others, or sitting by resting an unreasonable length of time.  In this sense these trainees are not concentrating on what their bodies try to tell them because they are side-tracked by anything or everything not connected to exercise. If, to use a metaphor, exercise was underwear, they run naked and don't either care or not aware of wasting time in a gym - or the same goes true if they workout at home.  To make progress requires concentration and attention to what's going on.

If technology has little value in working out, how about driving a car without some technology built into it? Would you drive without brakes, turn signals, lights, odometers, etc.?  In other words, technology informs us of what's going on in the car, around us, how fast we're going, etc. Jason enjoys running without "technology" limiting his fun.  To each his own and the freedom to choose what's best is really a personal choice.

Personally, I'll use what's ever available to aid any endeavor.  How can you either time a race or figure out what your VO2 is if neither a heart-rate monitor is attached to your wrist nor having one available on a treadmill? How can a trainee determine if he is exercising within the limits and intensity that he should be following in any planned workout?  Technology improves performance, safety, and progress.  Either with or without technology, learn "Muscle Talk'', taken from a previous posting.  It doesn't require any technology but it is a definite aid in exercising.


lose weight

"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."
- Arnold

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.