Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Try Giant Sets When You Are Stressed For Time

Health club main workout area Category:Gyms_an...Image via WikipediaEver have one of those days or weeks when it seems like you just don't have an extra minute to spare?  You've been doing so well with your fitness program and you want to workout, but you don't have an hour to spend at the gym.  So, what do you do, skip your workout and feel guilty, or skip some other thing you had planned  and feel bad about that also?

Giant sets is the answer to your problem.  Giant sets is a training method in which you do three or more exercises, one after the other, with no rest in between.  The idea is to do a series of exercises in a row, take a brief rest period and then repeat the sequence for your desired number of sets.  This is a good way to get an excellent workout done in a short amount of time (usually under 30 minutes).

I like to design my giant sets to hit the following major muscle groups; back, chest, and legs.  I typically do 10 to 15 repetitions of each exercise for 3 complete sets with no more than 60 seconds rest between sets.  Here's what one of my giant sets looks like:
  • Back, lat pulldowns or seated low rows
  • Chest, flat dumbbell presses or pushups
  • Legs, barbell squats or walking lunges
3 sets of the above workout only takes about 20 minutes to complete, but I assure you it is effective.  If the workout seems too easy, increase your resistance, and if it's too hard, decrease your resistance.  Try it out and let me know what you think.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Is More Intensity Always Better?

Personal Training Overlooking Melbourne Catego...Image via WikipediaAs a personal trainer in my 50s I realize the value of a good fitness program in helping me to stay healthy, strong, and active.  However, I'm bothered by some of the fitness routines I see trainers having people do who are over the age of 40.

It seems the more intense the program the better people think they are.  I see trainers having people who are over 40 jumping on and off plyometric boxes, (risking injury to their knees, ankles, and lower back) until they are drowning in their own sweat. I see people who are de-conditioned being pushed by trainers to do giant sets of push-ups, squats, lunges, and you name it until they literally can't move another muscle fiber.

It leads me to question whether doing more intensity is always better (especially for the 40 plus crowd)?  In my 17 years of experience as a personal trainer and a person over the age of 40, I have to say no.  You can have anyone do jump squats until they are standing in a pool of their own sweat, but is that necessary what they need?

When working with clients over the age of 40, you have to take the following things into consideration when designing a fitness program for them.
  • How long it's been since they've done any exercise regularly?
  • What kind of regular exercise are they use to doing?
  • Do they have any condition that requires a doctor's approval before beginning a physical fitness program?
  • Any prior injuries that would prohibit certain exercises?
  • The condition of their ankle, knee, and shoulder joints.
  • Their core strength.
  • Do they have any muscular skelotor imbalances?
  • Are their fitness goals realistic?
  • Are they former athletes?  Sometimes they think they can still do what they did 20 years ago.
I know as a trainer you want your clients to see results quickly.  However, sometimes the best workout you can do with your client is one where they don't even break a sweat. 

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Exercise And Fitness Book Giveaway Contest

As promised, I'm starting a contest to giveaway a copy of my book Forever Fit and Firm.  All of the exercises that I have posted about over the last few weeks have come from my book.  There's only two requirements to enter the contest. 1. Become a follower of my blog and send me a comment stating your favorite exercise from one of my previous posts.  2. Become a Facebook Fan of mine and send me a comment telling me your favorite food.

The contest starts March 1st and ends March 31st.  Good luck!
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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Keeping Your Muscle Is The Key To Fitness Over 40

Strength TrainingImage by Rtist MrB via FlickrAs a personal trainer, I am in and out of health clubs all day. I love to observe the things people do in their efforts to "get in shape". The major thing I notice, is the over-whelming amount of cardio I see women doing while neglecting to do much strength training.

While cardio is an important part of any fitness program, it should not be the primary focus, especially if you are female and over 40 years of age. In your 20s you could knock off those extra pounds by just running on the treadmill a few extra times each week.  However, as you approach your 40s and beyond that plan isn't effective anymore and here's why.

As you enter your late 30s you start to lose muscle, and muscle is that part of your body that burns the majority of the calories that you consume each day.  A pound of muscle burns about 6 calories a day even while your are resting, and a pound of fat only burns around one calorie per day.

 If you don't do anything to combat the above scenario, you can lose as much as 10 lbs of muscle each decade beginning in your 40s.  That decreases your metabolism by about 60 calories a day every 10 years of your life.  So, that's about 21,900 calories a year that's being converted to fat, which is approximately 6 lbs of fat you gain each year.

I know, this is a very sad scenario, but there is hope.  Your savior is called strength training.  By incorporating strength training in your fitness program you can slow, and in some cases, even reverse muscle loss.  And, it's never too late to start, studies have shown the positive results of strength training in people well into their 90s.
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