Archive for November, 2007

The Simplest, Easiest Workout Program Ever

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

Why do I need to exercise AT LEAST three days a week?

There are plenty of reasons why you should be exercising and exercising consistently. There is not a single person that cannot gain something from some level of physical activity, whether it is walking around the neighborhood or lifting heavy weights at the gym. Simply put, exercise is an integral part of the journey toward good health; weightlifting helps keep bones and muscles strong, while conditioning helps keep the cardiovascular system healthy. Literally everyone should exercise at least 3 days a week.

The Benefits of Exercise

What kind of benefits should you come to expect from working out three days a week? Exercise can alleviate many problems that some of us may deal with regularly. For instance, regular exercise helps to lower excess blood sugar and improve circulation in order to help with diabetes. Exercise helps to lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and elevate good cholesterol (HDL). Most trainees that I have talk to over the years are in agreement that exercise also helps curb nasty eating habits, helps increase energy levels during the day, and helps them to fall asleep at night. Of course, exercise has noticeable effects on blood pressure, cholesterol, and, therefore, heart disease. Exercise effects all aspects of our lives.

For those that think that exercise might be too hard on your joints, exercise can not only strengthen the muscle around the faulty joint but strengthen the tendons and ligaments too so that discomfort is kept to a minimum. Consistency with exercise, especially resistance training, can also lead to higher bone density, which can help keep osteoporosis at bay. A good number of studies have now determined that senior citizens can actually peel the years back with exercise, not to mention strengthening those brittle bones too. Some cases have been so extreme that the most feeble of 85 year olds will begin exercising only to become as fit as an average 55 year old.

So, even if you feel like a lost cause, don’t give up! Now, everyone knows how good it is to be active, but what exactly should you be doing for exercise?

Resistance Training

This could mean bodyweight, dumbbells, weight machines, or surgical tubing. I would recommend spending about 30 minutes at least three days a week performing total body workouts.

Make sure that the pace is challenging, the weight is not too heavy so that your technique deteriorates, or too light so that your workout wasn’t demanding enough. This takes trial and error.

I might suggest to a client or friend 4 simple movements that utilize a push, a pull, a leg exercise, and a functional core strengthener. To keep it simple I would recommend any combination of the following: pushups/bench press/dumbbell press, pulldowns/pull ups/rows, squats/deadlifts, and situps/weighted ab rotations/side bends. For these four movements, I would have them perform 20 repetitions for each movement, then 15 repetitions, then 10, and finally 5. This should be done with as few breaks as you feel you need and with as much passion as you feel you got. Once again, 3 times per week is the goal, but switch it up for each workout.

Cardio Exercise

Cardio is best described as an exercise performed for extended periods of time. This could mean 30-45 minutes of biking at a moderate pace, jogging, elliptical, or stair-climbing. All of these options burn significant calories, but some prove to be more demanding on the joints for some people. It’s all personal preference. Many people choose to perform cardio on two days sandwiched between the three resistance training days.

Just remember that you exercise to make yourself stronger, not to make yourself comfortable. Also, stop reading this article about exercising and just go do it!

Working Out With a Heart Rate Monitor

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

This is an old post. For more and better information, check out How to Calculate Your Target Heart Rate. You can also score a sweet Reebok Strapless Heart Rate Monitor on that page.

Girl Athlete
Female Athlete

Do you own a heart rate monitor? If not, then you are not alone. However, heart rate monitors are becoming increasingly popular, especially among athletes and those with certain health conditions.

In the days before heart rate monitors, people would have to stop and manually count a pulse by placing fingers over the carotid artery. Not only would this pressure on the artery distort the reading, but would cause some to get light headed by their pressing too hard in an attempt to find a pulse. Now, with a heart rate monitor, one doesn’t even need to stop to get an accurate reading.

The most important reason to buy a heart rate monitor is for safety.

Most fitness professionals will tell average clients to keep their target heart rate between 55% and 85% of their maximum heart rate. In order to calculate one’s maximum heart rate, simply subtract your age from the number 220. Next, you can then use this number and multiply it by 0.55 to get the lower end of the target zone and by 0.85 to find the cut off point.

Those with threatening conditions would be advised to exercise in the 55-60% range.

Still, let it be known that heart rate monitors are also a vital tool for the endurance athlete. Not only do heart rate monitors make readings simpler, they also make monitoring progress a lot simpler as well.

With a heart rate monitor, an athlete can better determine how to set the pace in an effort to optimize race performance. Without one, endurance athletes would run the risk of either over-training and exhausting the body or under-training and not pushing the body hard enough.

One thing is for certain though, heart rate monitors are useful tools that can simultaneously help and protect both the fittest of the fit and those at extreme risk.

Those trainees that regularly participate in cardiovascular activities can benefit by constantly gauging their heart rate, thus targeting their intensity to more effectively burn fat.

Again, this is an old post. For more and better information, check out How to Calculate Your Target Heart Rate. Get more info about the Reebok Strapless Heart Rate Monitor on that page too.

How Much Protein Should I Eat in a Day?

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

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High Protein SteakHardcore bodybuilders, powerlifters, and other weightlifters eat a ton of protein in a day. OK, they don’t eat a “ton”, but they do eat more than the average person.

Just now much protein do they eat?

How much protein do you eat?

How much protein is appropriate?

Can we eat too much protein?

If so, what are the side effects?

The ultimate question is: how much protein should I eat in a day?

As with how much fat to eat in a day and how many carbs to eat in a day, it all depends on a couple factors:

  • age
  • body size
  • diet
  • activity level
  • lifestyle

The recommended amount of protein for a healthy adult is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. Since a kilogram is roughly equal to 2.2 pounds, that translates into .36 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.

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An exception to this rule is the recommended levels for pregnant women, which say that pregnant women should eat 10 grams more each day than the recommended amount. Lactating women require an additional 15 grams of protein during the first six months of nursing, and an additional 12 grams after that.

I firmly believe that this recommendation is grossly inadequate. In fact I wouldn’t recommend any less than .8 grams of protein per pound (rather than per kilogram) of body weight, for people looking to maintain a healthy body composition, and I wouldn’t recommend any less than 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight for people looking to gain muscle.

Males who participate in regular vigorous exercise typically will eat from 1 to 1.5 gram of protein per pound of body weight. This can be both positive and negative for the body. The additional protein will assist in muscle recovery and fat loss, but the effects of digesting the protein will place additional stress on the body.

Why Should I Limit My Protein Intake?

While protein is as vital to cellular metabolism as oxygen, there certainly lies a threshold for healthy and unhealthy consumption levels especially for those in poorer health. Processing protein requires a lot from kidneys and liver which is why those with problems with either of those organs are often ordered by their physicians to eat a lower protein diet.

An indirect drawback from excessive animal protein consumption is its effect on the cardiovascular system. Since many meats contain a fair amount of saturated fat, this can lead to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, as well as obesity.

For example, only 25% of a T-bone steak’s calories come from protein while the rest comes from saturated fat. Even a leaner cut of beef like a flank steak is still roughly 50% fat. The same holds true for eggs. Only 31% of eggs’ calories come from protein. Fish and chicken are certainly better sources of protein.

Remember when eating a diet higher in protein to drink plenty of water in order to replenish the considerable amount lost during protein metabolism. Try and stay on the safe side by avoiding extreme high-protein diets full of saturated fats like the ketogenic diets (Atkins) and you will be in much better physical standing.

To Gain Muscle:

I recommend 1 gram of protein per lb of lean body mass for males and females who exercise at least 3 times per week and are trying to gain muscle mass.

A 200 lb man with 10% bodyfat would aim to consume about 180 grams of protein in a day. That’s 6 meals with an average of 30 grams of protein per meal, and THAT, my friends, is quite doable.

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If you have trouble consuming that much protein with food alone, I highly suggest you pick up some Optimum Nutrition Protein Powders, a source of inexpensive, high quality protein. One extra protein shake a day could make all the difference in the world.

To Lose Fat:

I recommend .8 grams of protein per lb of lean body mass for males and females who exercise at least 3 times per week and are trying to lose body fat.

A 150 lb woman with 25% bodyfat would aim to consume about 90 grams of protein in a day. That’s 3 meals with 20 grams of protein per meal and 3 snacks with 10 grams of protein, and THAT, my friends, is also very doable.

More importantly, keeping your unhealthy fat consumption and processed carbohydrate consumption low, will go a long way to preserve your health for the long haul.

See also:
How many grams of fat should I eat?
How many grams of carbs should I eat?

Motivational Support of Friends and Family

Monday, November 5th, 2007

I want to address a real issue here today, and some of you may think I’m soft or catering to those will low self esteem and low willpower. The fact of the matter is this: your family and friends will not always be positive when they hear about your weight loss or fitness goals. They might even belittle you or belittle your dreams when you start to show progress. You need to prepare yourself for this in advance. The reality is that it is important that those closest to you serve as cheerleaders to motivate you and remind you that your hard work has paid off, but that you need to prepare yourself for the opposite.

We all like a little encouragement, especially when the weight loss plateaus or stalls temporarily. However, many of us are not so lucky and in fact might have to deal with hostility toward our weight loss. Maybe they think you are “better than them” by making such drastic changes, which is absurd. Whatever you do, don’t allow their negative energy to dampen your excitement. Plus, this negativity demonstrates that they are simply a poor excuse for a friend.

It is good to have a workout partner, or to have friends with the same fitness interests as yourself. Often times we can find people who share our goals online. Try searching for a popular form or blog, like Project Swole, and begin to post your comments and network with some of the members. This can be very motivating and the competitive aspect can be very good for progress. You could also try working with a personal trainer if you are just beginning, or if you need a supervised, motivational boost to your workouts.

In any case, remember that the weight won’t lift itself and the spare tire won’t get out there and run sprints. Get in the gym or out on the field and motivate YOURSELF to set new personal records today!