Monthly Archives: November 2016

Two Keys to Making Exercise Fit

Given the ongoing rise in health care costs, one of the wisest steps you can take is to invest your time, money and energy in preventative care. One of the most cost-effective and time efficient means of preventing disease and disability is exercise. But therein lays one of the great challenges of our era. We know exercise is necessary to ensure a longer, healthier, more vital life and yet most of us hate to exercise or don’t make the time to do so. It’s like a joke I once heard from a seminarian: everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die. Exercise may not be perceived as a near death experience by most, but many liken it to visiting the dentist or doing their taxes. In other words, for many, exercise is not inherently enjoyable.

There are two key factors for making exercise an activity that will fit within the hierarchy of all of your other values: time-efficiency and an emphasis on safety. In order to fit with all the other values you devote your time to (work, family, hobbies, charity, school, etc.) exercise should take very little of your time and it should not injure you. That is precisely why I developed the exercise approach I’ve used exclusively for over twenty years in my NY personal training service: Inner Strength Fitness Consulting. It is an approach that combines the slow, flowing motion characteristic of Tai Chi with strength training.

The combination yields a higher quality of exercise and that allows my clients to reduce the amount of time they dedicate to exercise to thirty to sixty minutes per week. Properly performed, each exercise produces benefits for your cardiovascular system, your bones and your flexibility. So all of your fitness needs are met in the span of the same thirty to sixty minutes per week.

That should be music to the ears of those that see themselves as too busy to exercise. You are pulled in different directions by your competing values and you try your best to allot the appropriate amount of time and energy to those things that matter most. Exercise, properly conceived and performed, does not make you compromise on your other values. On the contrary, it gives you more vitality that you can then bring to all of your values.

What’s more, the slow motion, Inner Strength approach to strength training also makes exercise extremely safe and virtually eliminates the risk of injury. By moving in a very slow and controlled manner, the impact forces associated with popular fitness fads like rope jumping or group cycling are eliminated. My approach to exercise will build you up without beating you up and thus leave you free to enjoy all of your other values, including recreational activities.

Some Startling Revelations About Exercise

I watched a television program the other night about fitness: the program was actually about the latest research into health and fitness.
It centred mainly on research that was being done at the University of Nottingham in the UK.
It had come to some startling revelations about exercise.
The first was that if you don’t exercise the fat levels and cholesterol builds up in your blood stream often to an alarming level. So a sedentary life style was not to be recommended. Any movement was highly beneficial: even standing was to be much preferred to sitting down and standing with a bit of movement had many benefits. The main benefit was that the fat levels and cholesterol levels in the blood dramatically decreased having major health benefits. So any kind of exercise was preferable to none.
So the next question was how much exercise do we really need?
It turns out we don’t need that much: the body has a kind of switch that triggers with a relatively low level of exercise. This switch, once triggered, imparts many benefits to the body such as reducing fat levels and cholesterol and even influences aerobic fitness.
Now, it turns out that this low level of exercise is 20 seconds three times on an exercise day; and the exercise days are just three times in a week. So what you do is go as hard as you can on an exercise bike for twenty seconds: this flicks the switch in the body; then you rest for a minute or two and again go as hard as you can for twenty seconds. The rest would then be repeated followed by a third time of going as hard as you could on the exercise bike. In effect, all you are doing with the three energetic exercise bursts is ensuring you have really flicked the body’s switch.
Now at the end of week one you would have done three exercise sessions with a total of 3 minutes actual exercise. So for the month, you would do 12 minutes of actual exercise.
I mentioned that this exercise program is apparently enough to influence the body’s aerobic fitness: this apparently is dependent on your genes. The researchers at the University of Nottingham look for 11 tell tale genes and according to what they find, they can predict the amount of influence the exercises will have on aerobic fitness. They use a standard measure of VO2 max to measure aerobic fitness (VO2max is expressed either as an absolute rate in litres of oxygen per minute (l/min) or as a relative rate in millilitres of oxygen per kilogram of bodyweight per minute (ml/kg/min): the latter expression is often used to compare the performance of endurance sports athletes.

Gentle Post Pregnancy Exercises

Post pregnancy fitness exercise should only be carried out when you are ready for physical activities again. Most women wait for at least six weeks after giving birth before engaging in exercises but for some, they begin with their post pregnancy fitness exercise as soon as they feel they are ready.

Post pregnancy fitness exercise should be performed gradually. But before you begin, you need to consult your doctor for an easy exercise that you can perform in the first few weeks after your labor. Doing Kegel exercises is a good way to start because your movements only involves little muscle contractions inside the wall of the vagina and this post pregnancy fitness exercise also promotes strong pelvic muscles.

Also a good post pregnancy fitness exercise is walking. Walking helps your body prepare for a more dynamic exercise. Also, walking can be very relaxing since you are outdoors and breathing fresh air.

For a more gentle post pregnancy fitness exercise, you can try the following:

Pelvic Strengthening Exercise

This exercise is ideal for enhancing blood circulation in the pelvic area. It is also perfect for maintaining the shape of the vaginal canal.

• Lie down with your back on the floor. Slightly bend your knees but be sure to keep your feet flat on the ground.

• Constrict the vaginal muscles like you are trying to hold the urine flow.

• Hold it for about 5 to 10 seconds and then release.

• Repeat the same steps until you can.

Head and Shoulder Exercise

• Lie down with your back on the floor. Slightly bend your knees and your hands at the back of your head.

• Take a deep breath and then contract muscles in your abdomen as you exhale. Rest your back on the floor and then raise your head and shoulders and then slowly lower it back to the ground.

• Repeat the same steps for at least 8 to 10 times.

Pelvic Tilting Exercise

• Lie down with your back on the floor. Slightly bend your knees but be sure to keep your feet flat on the ground.

• Take a deep breath and let your abdomen expand.

• Lift your tailbone up as you exhale while your hips lie flat on the floor.

• While your tailbone is lifted constrict your buttocks and then let go.

• Repeat same steps for at least 8 to 10 times.

Focus on Exercise Fitness

In order to achieve results from any form of exercise, whether your aim is to shape and sculpt your body, build muscle-mass or simply for general fitness and energy. Exercises performed incorrectly or performed without prior knowledge as to ‘How many Reps?’, ‘How many Sets?’, ‘How much Rest in between exercises?’ or even knowing whether you are training the correct muscle/muscle group in order to reach your goals. Here is a basic guide  that hopefully dispels a few myths and sets you off on the right track…

Firstly, learning how to perform each exercise correctly is a must, this especially includes maintaining correct form throughout each and every movement. This ensures that you will avoid unnecessary strain and injury, as well as reassurance that the correct muscle are being targeted throughout each exercise. Taking some time out to understand exactly how an exercise works, definitely pays off in the long term training fitness and exercies.

Now, on to the reps & sets…

If your aim is to shape & sculpt your physique through exercise, then the need to exercise using light-weights becomes essential, using high repetitions (until just before the muscle/s become fatigued) and normally between 3-5 sets of each exercise. Then repeating your complete workout 4 to 6 times each week. This ensures that your are burning off enough calories (providing your diet is correct) and allowing your muscles to become more dominant which will create a more defined, sculpted appearance.

If you intend to exercise in order to build muscle-mass, then each exercise must be performed using heavier weights, low repetitions and a maximum amount of possible sets. Increasing the amount of sets and/or weight during each subsequent workout actually increases the amount of potential for muscle growth, due to an ever increasing demand place upon each muscle, also called ‘Progressive Development’.

If you intend to exercise in order to lose body-fat, then your diet MUST come first. A simple shaping/sculpting routine as briefly described above is ideal starting point for an exercise programme, however if your nutrition plan is wrong you will be wasting your time exercising. That is the absolute, plain and simple truth!

Whilst creating any effective diet plan, predetermined goals are key to success…

When you need to lose weight, the first and foremost issue is to determine exactly how many calories your body needs to survive, then calculate the amount of calories you are currently using each day (also known as your TDEE, or total daily energy expenditure), then finally, you need to know the scary old ‘How many calories am I really consuming each day?’. Once you have this information on hand, which can be obtained from various fitness calculators or health guides and books, you are now ready to take the first step in creating your own personalised diet that effectively achieves your goals.

Losing weight, is simply a matter of expending more energy (Kcals) than you are consuming, which can easily be accomplished by reducing the amount of consumed Carbohydrates and Fats in your diet. Make sure your calculations beforehand are accurate and you will succeed. There really is nothing else to it! Although this is generally a brief overview of the concept, the principles remain the same. Through correct exercise and a strict eating plan that incorporates less calories than the amount actually burned-off, your body simply has no choice but to lose weight! Forget miracle pills and juices etc… This is the only NATURAL and more importantly, SAFE way to lose weight quickly.

In order to gain mass for bodybuilding, the opposite to weight-loss is required. Excessively loaded muscle/s need high amounts of protein in order to rebuild and repair themselves. However Protein alone will not grow muscles. A bodybuilder will often need to consume a lot more calories than that required. This ensures that weight is not lost and his/her body is constantly ‘Fuelled’ and ready to grow. Consuming approximately 2.5 – 3.5g of protein per lb. of bodyweight is normal, then dividing and balancing the Protein, Carbs and Fat ratios in each meal according to the bodybuilder’s goal (Be it bulking-up or removing excess bodyfat before a competition). You will often see professional bodybuilders and think that they are just fat, you are wrong… Beneath all of that ‘Fat’ is developing muscle, for once the excess bodyfat is removed through various dieting strategies, the actual size of each muscle does not really show many visible signs of shrinkage. This is all down to a carefully calculated nutrition plan.

The importance of an effective diet strategy whilst exercising not only concerns your physical appearance either. Without eating correctly, you simply will not have the required energy or stamina to constantly and correctly perform the exercises that are required to attain your goals. An athlete for example attempting a 3000m long distance run, without enough Carbohydrates for energy would certainly collapse way before the finish line. The same applies to a person seeking to lose weight, embarking on a bodybuilding diet just because it is high in protein, will not necessarily lose weight. Probably quite the opposite…

Without applying a little science and fundamental knowledge to an exercise routine, you are simply increasing the risk of failure, injury and dissapointment (which eventually leads to demotivation and lack of interest!), trust me I have been there…

By simply learning the facts first and then reinforcing this foundation by setting accessible goals through your newly gained knowledge, you will be on your way to realizing your ultimate fitness goals. Guaranteed!

After more than 15 years in the fitness industry, I am hoping that the above information will be useful to current/aspiring athletes, bodybuilders and ‘bodyshapers’. As far as exercising goes, knowledge is essential in order to avoid the myths and bogus reports you see scattered all over the place. Don’t believe them until you know the facts!