Thursday, August 30, 2007

Tools of the trade: BOSU Balance Trainer

Do you need to kick it up a notch in your workout routine? Are you looking for great looking abs, legs and glutes? Do you just want to try something fun and different? Go get yourself a BOSU Balance Trainer to add to your fitness equipment collection.

BOSU stands for "Both Sides Utilized" or "Both Sides Up", referencing to it's limitless uses in a training routine. Developed in 1999 by David Weck, this "stability ball cut in half" provides an amazing way to improve balance and stabilization training while minimizing the potential risk of injury.

You can do practically any exercise that you can imagine with this tool; from push-ups, lunges, crunches and even combo exercises like V-sit bicep curls or plyometrics like ski jumps. BOSU balls constantly activate your core muscles (or the stabilizing muscles of the body) while engaging muscles all over the body all at the same time. This efficient recruitment of muscles maximizes the caloric burn in your routine, yielding accelerated results.

Here are some examples of how you can use the BOSU ball in your routine!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Be Creative. Use F.I.T.T. to your advantage

Nobody like to do the same workout routine day after day after day. It gets old fast and leads to mental burnout pretty quick. Not only is it mentally draining, but being rigid in a strict routine can set you up for failure, as life is never the same everyday. By using the F.I.T.T factors (frequency, intensity, time, type) you can be creative in your training routine, keeping it mentally stimulating while also providing flexibility for those times that cut your workout session short.

This variable can be adjusted to compliment a progressive integrated training program. By starting with just a few times a week, you can increase your training frequency (i.e. from 3 days a week to 5 or 6 days a week) to promote accelerated results without overtraining.

When certain life events get in the way of your workout routine, you can decrease the frequency while increasing other variables in the F.I.T.T factor (i.e. intensity and/or time). Say you have a project at work that is holding you in the office later than usual. You can decrease your training frequency from 5 days a week to 2 or 3 while increasing the intensity of your workout.

Intensity refers to the level of demand an activity places on the body. This is usually measured by heart rate and/or VO2 max. By keeping track of your Target Heart Rate, you can easily modify this variable to fit your desired fitness goal. Knowing your training intensity is key to avoiding overtraining, mental burnout and decreasing your risk of injury.

This variable can be altered when you are in a time crunch and want to maximize your results. If you typically have time for a 2 hour workout session in the gym but something has come up and you now only have an hour, you can train with less time at a higher intensity. This will yield similar results.

Time is similar to frequency in it's ability to compliment a progressive routine and allow for flexibility in unusual circumstances. By starting with 30 minutes a day of activity and increasing to 60 minutes, you can gradually build strength and endurance without overdoing it.

When life throws a wrench in your workout plans, you can adjust your training time accordingly to accommodate for prior engagements. Implementing a circuit training routine both decreases time while increasing intensity, thus maximizing results.

This is where constant variation can not only provide opportunities for fun and challenging exercises, but it also keeps you open minded about changing up your routine when you may be forced to. Variation in the type of exercises you do will coincide with a progressive training routine, constantly challenging your body to move in different ways while developing muscles in a more efficient manner.

Being familiar with different types of exercises and activity will ensure a successful workout session, no matter what situations may arise. Many times you may find cardio equipment under maintenance or you may be working out at "prime time" in the gym where you end up waiting for a specific machine. Rather than wasting your time, you can find different types of exercises that achieve the same desired effect.

By utilizing the F.I.T.T factors, you can design a progressive program that fits your fitness goal, no matter what life may throw your way. These variables can help spice up a humdrum routine or provide flexibility when you need to be creative in order to maintain consistency.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Back to Business: Cyber-Client Results

Now that I've got the all clear from the Doctor and I don't have any more worries looming over my head, I can focus my attention back to training and writing. I thought it would be fitting to post the latest client results to get things rolling again.

After about 15 weeks of training, Cheri has lost almost 30 lbs and about 10 inches. 4.5 of those were from the waist. She had to buy a whole new wardrobe and prior to leaving for vacation, she was able to go on a shopping spree to a store where she was never able to shop before.

I'm so excited for her! What an achievement!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Distracted, but not forgotten. I will post again soon!

I just wanted to update the blog to let regular readers know that there will be some great information posted soon! It's been a crazy time with a distraction that makes it incredibly difficult to focus my thoughts. I have great things to write about, but I can't seem to sit down and type them out.

Not too long ago, I wrote about a fellow blogger and her very informative post about Inflammatory Breast Cancer. The information motivated me to finally call my Doctor to get in for an exam. I've had a lump since I started breastfeeding. When I weaned my son almost 8 months ago, it was still there. I thought it would go away and it never did. I started to worry when it became increasingly tender.

I had to wait three weeks to finally get in to see a Doctor (thanks insurance company!) and had my exam on Friday. There is something there and I will get further testing (hopefully this week) to determine the diagnosis. My Doctor is confident that it's not cancer, but now I'm hearing horror stories from people who've been told the same thing. Thus, the lack of posting here.

In the meantime, Whymommy nominated those women who have read her post and made the decision to get checked out for the Rockin' Girl Blogger Award.

I'm thankful for her post because without it, I probably would have continued ignoring the lump for quite some time. I hope the re-posting of her information on here was helpful to other women and inspired them to take action.

I'm positive the outcome will be nothing to worry about but until I get an official answer, I'm afraid my thoughts will be elsewhere. However when I get the all clear, stay tuned for some very useful tips and advice on how to achieve your fitness goal!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Ask The Trainer. What to do about back problems.

I'm always flattered when someone I've never met, emailed or known in general asks me for advice. I'm often taken aback, not because I doubt my knowledge or skill, but because of all of the fitness and health professionals in the world, I seemed to be the one who could help out the most. It's a very humbling experience.

The other night I received this email:

Hi there,
I don't know if you can help me...I am simply looking for guidance/feedback. I live in Australia and have an ongoing lower back/pelvis problem. I am a dancer and for the past few months (despite having danced for nearly 3 years) my left hip joint keeps rotating backwards and up causing severe misalignment and pain down my right side. The therapist I am seeing suggests to take 1 month off dancing to work on core stability (have been doing her exercises for 2 months now) and allow myself to become stronger and more stable so that my hip joint won't keep coming out...and my pelvis out of alignment. I am afraid that my body will never become strong enough to allow me to dance (my passion in life).

Could I possibly ask for your thoughts on this? I need guidance and help and would appreciate any feedback....

Kindest Regards,
N in Australia

Hi N-

I'm sorry to hear about your back and hip problems. It's very disappointing to deal with physical limitations, especially when your passion in life is very demanding.

While I can't diagnose conditions for people I've never examined and assessed, I can tell you what I would do to find out the cause of your misalignments, possible resolutions and referrals to professionals in Australia who could help.

First and foremost; a chiropractic, orthopedic, neurological exam complete with full spine x-rays would be recommended. This would allow a health professional gather all of the physical information needed to properly diagnose the true cause of the imbalances and misalignments. Part of this exam should include a gait analysis and an overhead squat assessment. These are biomechanical tests that a health professional would do to see how your body moves, finding your muscular imbalances (what muscles are tight and weak).

After a proper examination, the general course of action would include deep tissue massage or myofascial release to relax the "knots" in the muscles, causing them to hyper-contract. After that, the muscles are prepped for corrective exercise training. This "re-trains" the muscles to work in a more balanced manner. Specific Chiropractic adjustments will compliment the corrective exercises, as our bodies are made up of systems that work together. You can't correct imbalances without addressing both the muscular and skeletal systems.

After corrective exercise training, stabilization training would be your next step. This stage is more core intense and also progresses you into exercises that will begin to build more strength, in addition to stabilizing your joints.

You'll want to find a Chiropractor who specializes in human movement science. Chiropractic Biophysics is a great spinal/joint rehabilitation technique. These Doctors may recommend physical therapy or give you the corrective exercise training program themselves. If you go through a personal trainer, you'll want to find someone who is NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) certified. You might be able to contact NASM directly for a referral.

I agree with the recommendation of your therapist in that taking a break from dancing will help, giving your body time to heal and retrain. Unless there is something seriously wrong, you should be able to regain your strength and stabilization, allowing you to dance again.

I hope this information helps you out and points you in the right direction.

Good luck!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

K.I.S. Keeping It Simple...with the 5 keys to fitness

Health and fitness can be a complicated subject with the vast array of information available. We are constantly being bombarded with the newest discoveries in ground breaking research, publication of the latest fad diet and more tips and tricks than anyone can keep track of. How can the average gym goer decipher the good from the bad? What is the clear cut, no fluff secret to total fitness?

Here's the K.I.S. (Keep It Simple) strategy focusing on the five keys to reaching your goal. You can use this simple guide to help, making sure you have all of the components in place and ensuring your success.

1. Nutrition
This is by far the most important key to reaching you goal, be it reducing body fat, increasing muscle or improving sports performance. Without this component in place, you will never achieve optimum results.

A. Portion Sizes
I. Consuming more and moving less leads to stored fat, or weight increase. Consume less and move more and you'll achieve fat loss. The key is to know exactly how many calories your body needs to reach your specific goal.

B. Type
I. You won't get to your goal by eating highly processed, unbalanced foods.
II. Keep it fresh and clean.
III. On average, most people need a macronutrient (carbs, protein, fat) balance of 60/20/20.

2. Cardio Training
This component will make you slim and trim while keeping your heart healthy and beating strong. It's also important to find balance and synergy. Too much can derail your progress, leaving you frustrated and unmotivated.

A. Frequency
I. 30 minutes of moderate daily activity is a must.
II. Most people are successful in cardio training with a more intense frequency of three to five times a week.

B. Intensity
I. Use Maximum Heart Rate formula to determine the appropriate intensity that best suits the goal.
II. Beginners: 50%-60% of MHR (Maximum Heart Rate)
III. Advanced: 65%-85% of MHR

C. Time
I. Beginners: 10-20 minutes
II. Intermediate: 15-45 minutes
III. Advanced: 30-60 minutes

D. Type
I. Walking is best for beginners
II. The best kind of cardio is the type you enjoy doing.
III. Keep it interesting with variety.

3. Resistance Training
This key component will help you become a lean, mean optimum performing machine. Increasing muscle density will increase your metabolism, thus decreasing body fat. Increases in strength does not equal increases in size. Everyone, including women, needs to incorporate integrated strength training into their routines.

A. Balance
I. Improves functional, or everyday performance.

B. Coordination
I. Keeps communication between mind and body movement strong.
II. Core (stabilization) training prevents injury and improves strength performance.

C. Flexibility
I. Ensures muscles contract efficiently, maximizing results.
II. Helps to improve other aspects of fitness programing (increases speed, decreases weight, increases strength

D. Strength
I. Increases metabolism, thus decreasing body fat
II. Creates not only muscular looks, but also "toned" look or definition.

4. Rest
Stress and over training can lead to injury or halt progress. By creating a progressive program, you can methodically train while allowing for proper recovery.

A. Rest Day
I. Take one day off a week from working out
II. Allow for 48 hour recovery time after lifting routine (per muscle group)

B. Sleep
I. Make sure to get 6-8 hours of restful REM sleep to ensure full recovery

C. Cheat Day
I. Decreases the feeling of deprivation that often sabotages a fitness program.
II. Balance and moderation is key as over indulgence will halt success.

5. Education
Knowledge is power. By understanding the basics, you will master the essential skills it takes to be successful in achieving your fitness goal. Education is also an incredible motivator.

A. Form
I. Provides an understanding of body movement and helps you to achieve perfect form.

B. Progression
I. Provides you with the knowhow to advance through platues

Friday, August 3, 2007

Dimples aren't cute when they're on your backside. Everything you need to know about cellulite

Many women of all shapes and sizes have often done a double take when getting a glimpse of their derrière in the mirror. Some have vowed to never wear shorts or skirts. Women around the world are covering up to hide cellulite.

The "cottage cheese" appearance seen on the thighs and buttocks of many women is cellulite. Some 90 percent of women have cellulite. Even the thin and physically fit are prone to dimpled thighs. The true cause of cellulite is not completely understood. However, it appears that in individuals with cellulite, there is irregular connective tissue under the skin. To understand what cellulite is, you need to understand a bit about musculature and fatty tissue.

If you look at a cross section of a woman's thigh, you'll see tight fiber bands connecting muscle through the fat to the skin. Where the bands aren't attached, the fat bulges up. When enough fat is deposited under the skin, it will tend to bulge through the connective tissue much like a balloon bulges when you squeeze it. In essence, the irregular connective tissue squeezes the fat and causes it to bulge. This may explain why cellulite has an irregular "cottage cheese" or "orange peel" appearance. Men generally don't have the problem because their fibers criss-cross and the fat can't bulge up as easily.

Other factors that may contribute to the development of cellulite are genetics, hormones (specifically estrogen), stress and diet.

While many remedies have been proposed to reduce cellulite (creams, herbs, massage, etc.), many have little effect on this condition. Creams have not been shown to be very effective at all, but some forms of massage may be beneficial. The use of deep tissue massage or a self-myofascial release (SMFR) technique has worked for a number of women. Using a foam roll is the easiest way to accomplish this.

While there's not much you can do to control genetics or the way your body responds to hormones, you can help to smooth out the lumps and bumps by:
  • Reducing stress levels
  • Eating a well balanced high fiber diet
  • Staying hydrated
  • Quit smoking
  • Workout following an integrated training program complete with SMFR