October 27, 2010

More workout sabotage

At the other end of the weight lifting spectrum of futile endeavors is lifting too much weight. This can be worse than not lifting enough;  not only are you wasting your time, but there is a good chance that you are hurting yourself.  How can it be too much weight if you are able to complete the reps?  There are a variety of ways to “cheat” and lift more weight than your muscles can handle.  The most common is the “body rock”. If you are doing isolation training (as compared to integrated strength training-more on that in another post), then you want only the body part you are working to be moving.  For example; when doing biceps curls your knees should not straighten and bend, and your torso should not be swinging back and forth. Speaking of swinging; unless you are specifically doing explosive training you need to lift the weights in a slow and controlled motion.  Try lifting the weight two (slow) counts up, and four counts down.  If you can only lift the weight by rocking your body or flinging it up and down, then you are using momentum, not your muscles.  Another self-check you can do is to ask yourself where you feel the exercise; shoulder pain during a biceps curl should give you a clue that something is wrong.  Does your back hurt during chest presses?  Then there is a good chance the weight is so heavy that your back is coming off the bench   You may be able to bench press 300 pounds, but if it is because you rely your back and shoulders, say hello to advil and physical therapy.   If you are not getting the results you want, try to slow it down, lower the weights and keep your body still.  Your muscles will actually work harder, and your back, knees and shoulders will thank you.

October 23, 2010

No more workout sabotage

There are countless ways people sabotage themselves while strength training, but the most common (at least for women) is not lifting enough weight.  Despite research to the contrary it seems women are still worried about bulking up.  How about helping let this myth die?  In truth, few women posses the genetics or testosterone to build huge muscles.  Bodybuilders train in a very intense, specific way, and even then, many resort to steroids. 
To reap the benefits (and there are many) of strength training you need to challenge your muscles. 
How much should you lift?  It all depends on your fitness level and your goals. If your goal is to firm up, gain muscle tone and improve your strength and health, you need to lift enough weight so that by the time you get to 10 or 12 repetitions it should feel like you could do very few more. If you are cranking out 20 reps or more you are probably not getting the results you want. Beginners can stick to one set, but if you have been lifting for a while or are trying to lose weight, aim for two.  Research is iffy as to the need for more than two sets. If you are training the whole body at once, two times a week should be enough.  You do not have to lift to failure; but if you lift heavy enough you will see results much faster, and you will no longer be wasting your time.

October 12, 2010

Lift to lose!

Trying to lose weight?  Make sure you lift weights.  Aerobic exercise is great, but if you want to slim down, you need to press some iron as well.  Lifting weights builds muscle, which helps you burn calories when you are not exercising. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn.  If you try to lose weight through diet and aerobic exercise alone you will lose muscle mass with the fat.  This will slow your metabolism down and impede your weight loss.  It’s common to hear people say, “I want to lose weight”, but it is fat you want to lose not muscle, so make it easier on yourself by picking up the dumbbells.

October 6, 2010

Lean on me not!

So what is the most common error that I see at the gym?  That’s easy; not going.  However, for those who do go, there are numerous ways people sabotage their own workouts.   Probably the easiest problem to fix is to avoid leaning on the cardio equipment.  Take a look at the stair climbers, ellipticals, treadmills and bikes at your gym.  I can almost guarantee at least one person will be hunched over, leaning his or her elbows on the handles.  Not only is this bad for your back (and it looks painful), but you are burning fewer calories.  Your upper body is taking some of the workload from your largest muscle groups, which will reduce the calories you burn. For best results try to avoid the handles: If you must use them for balance, stand straight and hold on lightly.  You may have to reduce the speed or resistance, but you will get a better workout, and your back will thank you.

October 4, 2010

E-mail updates now working

I have finally fixed the e-mail update link.  Please click on it to get blog updates e-mailed to you.  You can still try to sign up as followers, but that gadget has not been forwarding the updates, and several of you have told me you are not showing up (sorry).  When you click on the get e-mail updates link you will be directed to type in some nonsense letters; this is a spam detector.  If you can't make out the letters try again, you will get a new set in a different font.  You will be sent an e-mail to confirm the address;  check your spam box; it may end up there; it will be from feedburneremail.  Thanks for subscribing!