The Lingo

For many new gym goers, the gym can be an intimidating place trying to learn how all the machines work and then there are all these terms that you start hearing. The following are some of the most common terms you might hear when weight training. It may also give you some ideas of how to mix up your routine.

Superset: A superset is when an individual does one lifting movement and then immediately does another movement for a different body part. Example: Push ups then right into squats.

Compound Sets: This is when one does two movements in a row for the same body part. Example: Leg curls right into stiff leg deadlifts.

Giant Sets: Giant sets are performed when an individual completes more than two movements in a row without rest. Example: Wide grip pulldowns, crunches, then squat jumps.

Concentric: This is the “positive” movement of the exercise. Example: the curling up when completing a dumbbell curl or the pressing down when completing and tricep pushdown.

Eccentric: This is the “negative” portion of the exercise. Example: straightening the arms after curling them in a bicep curl.

Isometric: There is no movement during and isometric exercise. Example: a plank or a wall sit.

1RM: This is an individual’s one rep max. This is the maximum amount of weight one can lift in a single repetition for a given exercise.

Drop sets: This is when an individual will take the amount of weight they are lifting and lower it by a percentage in order to complete more reps. Example: Bench press 100lbs for 10 reps then drop the weight 20% for 10 more reps.

Forced Reps: These are reps that require a spotter-someone to help watch your form and lift the weight for you if you can not. A forced rep would require the spotter to help the individual lift the weight once he/she feels they have reached failure in order to get more reps.

Plyometrics “plyos”: a type of exercise training that recruits the fast twitch muscle fibers the body uses for explosiveness and heavy lifting. Often times one thinks of jumping when it comes to plyos. Plyometrics can also be done for the upper body. Push ups, barbell curls, pull ups, push press and various other upper body movements can be done with the plyometric style.

Aerobic v.s. Anaerobic Exercise – Top 4 Reasons for Each

images[1]Aerobic exercise (a.k.a. aerobics, cardiovascular exercise or cardio) is any sustained, rhythmic activity that primarily uses your larger muscles and challenges your heart and lungs.

Aerobic means “with oxygen,” so when you exercise aerobically your body uses oxygen to help produce energy during the exercise. Your heart and lungs have to work harder to constantly deliver oxygen to your body during aerobic exercise, and this strengthens your heart and lungs.

There are plenty of ways that you can exercise aerobically. You can walk, run, or bike. You can use a treadmill, stationary bike, stair stepper, elliptical machine, or rowing machine. You can participate in an aerobic exercise class. Here are the top four reasons to get moving:

1. Toughens the ticker. Aerobic exercise strengthens the hardest working muscle in your body – your heart. A stronger heart pumps blood more efficiently, which improves blood flow to all parts of your body. Better blood flow results in more oxygen and essential nutrients being delivered to the cells of your body. It also results in more effective removal of toxins and other waste materials from your body.

2. Helps keep arteries clear. Aerobic exercise raises HDL (good) cholesterol and lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol. This results in less buildup of plaque in your arteries. Plaques begin in artery walls and can grow over the years. The growth of cholesterol plaques slowly blocks blood flow in the arteries causing all sorts of health problems.

3. Rallies the respiratory system. Aerobic exercise improves the effectiveness with which your respiratory system can supply oxygen to your body. Your body needs a constant and plentiful amount of oxygen in order to function properly.

4. Reduces body fat. Aerobic exercise not only burns calories, it’s the only type of exercise that directly burns body fat. In order for body fat to be burned, oxygen must be used to help produce energy during the exercise, and this only occurs with aerobic exercise.

 

images[8]Anaerobic exercise is high intensity muscular activity that lasts for a short period of time. Strength training a.k.a. weight lifting or weight training and calisthenics (push-ups, pull-ups etc.) are examples of anaerobic exercise. Strength training is the most effective type of anaerobic exercise. Here are the top four benefits:

1. Builds and maintains lean muscle mass. The loss of lean muscle mass can begin as early as your mid-20s, and it results in a loss of strength, a slower metabolism and decreased functional fitness. The loss of lean muscle mass is not the normal result of aging; it’s primarily the result of a sedentary lifestyle. If you don’t use your muscles they waste away. Strength training is the most effective way to build and maintain lean muscle mass and stay strong and functionally fit.

2. Bolsters bones – strength and density. Millions of people worldwide suffer from osteoporosis. Consuming high calcium food (leafy greens, oranges, beans) or taking calcium supplements to increase bone strength and density is not enough. Bones need to be challenged by weight bearing exercise or they will become soft and brittle. Strength training will increase the strength and density of your bones more than any other type of exercise.

3. Motivates metabolism. The slower your metabolism, the easier it is to gain body fat and the harder it is to lose it. Strength training boosts metabolism because it builds and maintains lean muscle mass. Lean muscle mass is metabolically active tissue, so the more lean muscle mass you have the faster your metabolism will be.

4. Reshapes the body and improves appearance. Vanity! No other type of exercise can reshape your body and improve your appearance like strength training can. Strength training will give you a strong, toned, looking body.

Get Started (again) – Good Exercise Habits

We have all been there, probably several times. It’s been two months since you’ve seen the inside of the gym or done any type of exercise. Your day to day busy schedule, getting sick, family crisis, overtime at work have kept you from exercising. Now, the question is: how do you start again?

Once you have an exercise habit, it becomes automatic. You just do it. You go to the gym, you run three days a week, you play tennis every other day, you take a kick boxing class every Tuesday, etc… there is no force involved. But after a month, two months or possibly a year off, it can be hard to get started again. Here are some tips to climb back on that treadmill after you’ve fallen off. Choose the ones that you like and make the most sense, and then choose a few that don’t. You may be surprised at how well some of these tips work.

Reward Showing Up – 90% of making a habit is just making the effort to get there. You can worry about your weight, amount of laps you run or the amount you can bench press later.
Commit for Thirty Days – Make a commitment to go every day (even just for 20 minutes) for one month. This will solidify the exercise habit. By making a commitment you also take pressure off yourself in the first weeks back of deciding whether to go. Just go!

Make it Fun – If you don’t enjoy yourself at the gym, it is going to be hard to keep it a habit. There are thousands of ways you can move your body and exercise, so don’t give up if you’ve decided lifting weights or doing crunches isn’t for you. There is an endless range of programs that can suit your tastes.

Enjoyment Before Effort – After you finish any work out, ask yourself what parts you enjoyed and what parts you did not. As a rule, the enjoyable aspects of your workout will get done and the rest will be avoided. By focusing on how you can make workouts more enjoyable, you can adjust your workout plan to incorporate all the exercises you like and take out the exercises you don’t like. You will notice that after time, your likes and dislikes will change. An exercise you used to hate, may become one of your favorites.

Realistic Scheduling – Don’t put exercise time in a place where it will easily be pushed aside by something more important. Right after work or first thing in the morning are often good places to put it. Lunch-hour workouts might be too easy to skip if work demands start mounting.
Get a Buddy – Grab a friend to join you. Having a social aspect to exercising can boost your commitment to the exercise habit. I have a very good friend who is always willing to go to a spin class with me, and she has turned me on to Pilates.

X Your Calendar – One person I know has the habit of drawing a red “X” through any day on the calendar he goes to the gym. The benefit of this is it quickly shows how long it has been since you’ve gone to the gym. Keeping a steady amount of X’s on your calendar is an easy way to motivate yourself.

Measure Fitness – Weight isn’t always the best number to track. But fitness improvements are a great way to stay motivated. Recording simple numbers such as the number of push-ups, sit-ups or speed you can run can help you see that the exercise is making you stronger and faster.

Habits First, Equipment Later – Expensive equipment doesn’t create a habit for exercise. Despite this, some people still believe that buying a thousand dollar machine will make up for their inactivity. It won’t. Start building the exercise habit first, only afterwards should you worry about having a bunch of equipment. Furthermore, some of the most effective exercises require no equipment at all.

Isolate Your Weakness – If falling off the exercise wagon is a common occurrence for you, find out why. Do you not enjoy exercising? Is it a lack of time? Is it feeling self-conscious at the gym? Is it a lack of fitness know-how? As soon as you can isolate your weakness, you can make steps to improve the situation.

Start Small – Trying to run ten miles your first workout isn’t a good way to build a habit. Work below your capacity for the first few weeks to build the habit. Ease your body and mind into your exercise routine, and after a few weeks you will want to start challenging yourself by doing more.

 

3 Secrets To Pumping Iron

Secrets of weight training
I love weight training. I have been doing it for over 12 years, and I am always learning new ways to maximize my workouts and my results. Just walk into a bookstore, or browse online and you’ll find hundreds of books all ready to teach you how to gain the benefits of weight training, but there are a few steps you should adhere to no matter what your goals. These steps will ensure optimal results from you weight training activities.

Step # 1: Make your workouts short. Weight training programs should never last more than one hour. Remember, you’re placing stress on the muscles as you lift weights. An hour is the maximum time to exercise without causing stress and possible injuries.

Step # 2: Make your workout intense. During weight training sessions one of your goals should be to challenge your body, so it adapts by building new muscle cells and burning body fat. If you are going to take the time to lift weights, really make it worth your while. I had a football coach tell me that the last rep should look like the first rep.  This little tip helped me to make sure my intensity was at full throttle throughout the entire set.  The last rep won’t feel like the first one, as there is a pretty good chance it will be painful (in a good way) and exhausting, but if you keep good form and intensity, it will show in your results.

Step #3: Consistently change your weight training routines. Regardless of whether you are trying to burn fat, improve sports performance, boost your metabolism, get more tone, or become a body builder, change is a must. To reach your goals most effectively and work smarter, you must constantly challenge your body. Your body can adapt very quickly to repetitive routines week after week. Adding more weight, changing the routine and changing the number of repetitions are all excellent ways to keep change in your weight training workouts.You should change your workout routine at least every four weeks, but you can mix it up every week if you prefer.

The new fitness buzz is that weight training is the new cardio.  I don’t think it is a replacement for cardio, but the benefits of weight training are endless… for men and women.

Exercise Boredom – When It’s Time To Change You’ve Got To Rearrange

The last two weeks I feel like I have fallen off the “exercise wagon”. Even my fool proof tactic of putting the alarm clock in the bathroom, so I have to physically get up to turn it off, has not been working. In all the grogginess, I can come up with some pretty good excuses why I need to go back to bed and not exercise. It makes so much sense at 4:00 AM, but after two more hours of sleep and no exercise, my day always starts off way more chaotic.

I realize that I am bored, no not boring (well maybe just a little). I am bored with my workout routine, and who wants to get up early to go be bored?

It is common advice among fitness professionals to change up your workout to keep your muscles from adapting to the exercise and becoming, well, bored. Okay, so that is not the complete medical reason, but if you’ve maintained the same routine for too long, you may have reached a plateau that no longer benefits your body as much.

A bored mind and bored muscles need a change. Simple, small changes in your normal exercise routine may reunite your feet and the treadmill once again. When it’s time to change, you’ve got to rearrange / who you are into what you’re gonna be. / Sha na na na, na na na na na, sha na na na

There are a few quick fixes for exercise boredom.

My favorite is a good change of scenery. If the thought of trudging through another elliptical session makes you cringe, try doing something outside. I have traded in a stationary cardio machine workout for running on the canal.  There is a window of opportunity to exercise outside, depending on what part of the earth you live, so take advantage of nice weather and get out.

Change of scenery can also include a change of personnel. They are all very nice people, I am sure, but I see the same faces at the gym every single day. We have the same conversations (read: idle chit chat), and it can be a little boring. A new friendly face can add some extra motivation, so it may be time to enlist a friend. Working out with someone who you can push or who pushes you can add a new dimension to your workout, and you won’t skip the workout when you know someone else is waiting for you.

If one new face is good, a group of new faces might be better. There is an exercise class for everyone these days, at every level of fitness. Even if the thought of walking into a room full of strangers and getting your groove on sounds a little daunting, try it. Exercise classes are very motivating. There is something about having others around you who are experiencing the same kind of torture, I mean energy, that can keep you going, and keep you working at a more intense level. Friendships are sure to develop too.

The last trick is to set a goal, like running a 5K or training for a tournament. When there is an end event to work toward, it can be easier to be motivated. No one wants to be unprepared for an event.

Boredom happens to everyone. Recognize it, and then shake things up to get past it. There is no right way to do it either. Mix it up every week or every month, whatever you need to do to keep on keepin on.

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