Posted: December 3rd, 2011 | Author: Aaron Bonser | Filed under: Exercise Tips, Health Tips | No Comments »
If you are having trouble losing weight there could be any number of reasons. I have listed 5 reasons that I feel are both manageable and achievable. While reading through these reasons, grade yourself on a scale of 1-10, 10 being perfect. This little test will help give you insight on areas of your health that you can improve.
1) Lack of movement -- If you sit and work long hours or have a sedentary lifestyle, start moving around. Functional movement increases circulation and can also affect energy levels. Try the following:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Frequent walks like parking further away or taking a break from doing work can help you burn an extra 300-500 calories/day!
2) Overeating -- By eating excess calories and low-quality foods you are doing more harm to your body than good. Try the following:
- Keep a food log. Food logs provide visual feedback on what you’re putting into your body.
- Cook your own food with fresh ingredients.
- Measure portion sizes until you are comfortable eyeing portions on your own.
3) Undereating -- Not eating enough can deprive your body of essential vitamins and minerals. Undereating also slows down your metabolism because your body will just hold on to the few calories it gets. Try the following:
- Eat 4-6 smaller meals/day. This will help regulate blood sugar and calorie intake.
- Plan out your day in advance. Now you’ll know when you have time or can make time to eat.
4) Not enough rest -- Your body does much more than you think when you sleep. Sleep effects metabolism and hormone function. Not enough rest can affect some of the hormones that affect appetite and hunger. Try the following:
- Make an effort to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep.
- Go to bed earlier.
- Exercise 3-5x/week.
5) Low muscle mass -- Muscles require energy and burn lots of calories. Resistance training stimulates muscle growth and increases your resting metabolic rate. This means you’ll continue to burn calories long after you exercise. Your resting metabolic rate (BMR) makes up for 60-75% of your body’s total calorie expenditure. Someone with a healthy and high BMR can burn over 1,000 calories in a day without even breaking a sweat! Try the following:
- Resistance training 2-3x/week. Each session should average 30 minutes to an hour.
- Eat more protein. Lean meats, eggs, and protein powders are excellent sources of protein which help rebuild and develop your muscles.
A great way to help improve your scores in these categories is to find a workout partner. Working out with someone has all kinds of benefits. A workout buddy will help keep you motivated, hold you accountable, and even make exercise more fun. If you feel you and your workout partner need more education on workout routines and programs that will help reach your physical goals, contact THE LAB at www.traininglaboratory.com/contact.
Posted: December 2nd, 2011 | Author: Aaron Bonser | Filed under: Exercise Tips | No Comments »
Flexibility is one of the 5 components of fitness. The other 4 are cardiovascular performance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, and body composition. Flexibility can be defined as the degree to which an individual muscle will lengthen as well as the ability of muscles to move through a full range of motion.
With that being said, I have been asked questions and come across various blogs debating the importance of stretching.
If someone asked you the question, “why do you stretch?”, what would you say? Most might answer, “so I don’t pull something!” Other responses would range from “warming up” to “I don’t wanna get sore!”
The real physiological effects of stretching aren’t what most people think. The following are 3 different perspectives on the effects of stretching, 2 research and 1 personal:
Contrary to popular opinion, there actually aren’t that many studies that prove stretching prevents injury and muscles soreness. According to Dr. Herbert from The School of Physiotherapy at University of Sydney, ”Stretching before or after exercising does not confer protection from muscle soreness. Stretching before exercising does not seem to confer a practically useful reduction in the risk of injury”. Your immediate response to this conclusion might be conflicting at first. A lot of people feel that they run or play better when they stretch. The fact is, there is no proven correlation for stretching and muscle performance. There are many other physiological factors that affect a muscle’s performance and recovery.
As a former pro athlete, I confess to a very dedicated regimen of stretching both before and after training and games. I was extremely flexible. Throughout my career I noticed that as my muscles grew and developed, and even though I stretched all the time, I was still getting muscle-related injuries. After frequent injuries I began looking into the effects of stretching. I learned that stretching cold muscles is not the best practice prior to physically demanding activity. I also learned that the warmer I was, the better I performed.
A research study in Nebraska compared athlete’s sit-and-reach scores with measurements of their running economy. The study was administered with a treadmill test and found that the athletes who were the tightest or LEAST flexible actually were the most economical. This was true for both the male and female participants. Those with the tightest hamstrings had the best running economy.
So what do you make of that study? You might be scratching your head with that one. The most probable conclusion is that tighter muscles contain higher elastic energy storage during each stride thus making running easier. What you should NOT conclude is that it’s better to have tighter muscles.
I am now going to list some popular beliefs to the benefits of stretching and then explain what really is going on…
“Stretching can help improve and/or maintain joint and muscle range of motion (ROM)” = True -- here’s the thing, you were either born with elastic muscles or you weren’t. This is genetic and uncontrollable. However, you can stimulate your muscles consistently to improve muscle elasticity and joint range of motion.
“Stretching decreases your risk of injury” False = stretching can simply help or maintain a muscle’s range of motion. There is no research that can prove stretching has a direct effect on muscle injury. There are many other factors that tie into tears and strains. A tear usually occurs where the muscle tissue meets the tougher tendon. Most might think if a muscle is stretched beyond its “limit” it will tear much like pulling a rubber band. (Cool trick: take 2 rubber bands but put 1 in the freezer for 20-30 minutes. Pull the warm rubber band as fast as you can almost to the point of snapping it. Do the same thing with the frozen rubber band. Was there a difference? Anything happen?) Let’s briefly examine that previous statement… First, there are limits to the ROM of your muscles. You have a genetically pre-determined elastic ability as well as max angle of the joint. For example, you can stand up and completely straighten your leg, no problem, but when you sit on the floor it is difficult for some to straighten his or her leg of even touch their toes. This is because the muscles and bones are like pulleys and levers that are attached to the next working link in your musculoskeletal system. Flexion and extension of the joints can increase the length of the muscles. Therefore if you pull your muscles beyond their physical ability, they will most likely tear. BUT they might also tear if you over-stretch thus dulling their elastic effect. This is seen most in very physical and athletic activities.
“Stretching improves posture” False = this is another difficult theory to prove. Posture is more related to body composition and one’s physical condition. While sitting at a desk, gravity pulls on your body causing flexion of the spine unless your reciprocate this force by using your core muscles. This means you need to voluntarily engage your core muscles to help align the spine and sit up “properly”. While tight muscles may add tension to certain postures, it still comes down to your physical conditioning and your ability to voluntarily engage the muscles in your core to maintain posture.
“Stretching decreases pain” True = depending on the cause of the pain, whether it be injury or other physical condition, stretching can release tension in the muscle. If the pain is caused by injury, such as a tear or pull, inflammation and scar tissue builds up amongst the fibers causing pain. Stretching can help pull the scar tissue in line with the rest of the muscle tissue and even help break up scar tissue for a faster recovery. “Muscle Nots” are common as well. This is when a muscle contracts but won’t release, basically staying active and causing pain. Stretching will help pull that muscle apart and hopefully stimulate a release in the knot.
“Stretching promotes circulation” True = stretching involves movement which promotes circulation. Sedentary behavior neglects muscle stimulation and therefore decreases blood flow.
“Stretching improves functional performance” True = functional performance is like doing daily activities. This is not to be confused with physical or athletic performance. Functional performance involves light to moderate intensities of movement and demands on the muscle. Example; bending down to tie your show or reaching around to scratch your back. Consistent stretching will help maintain the natural characteristics of the muscle including elasticity and ROM.
These are some of the most common questions and concerns I’ve come across and I hope they help to give you a better understanding about stretching and its effects on the muscles. Whenever you are about to participate in something physical, it is best to warm up the body first. A warm muscle is more elastic than a cold muscle. To improve your overall physical quality of life, I definitely recommend stretching on a consistent basis. Exercising, yoga, dancing, and various sports are all great activities to participate in that involve stretching and flexibility.
If there are other questions or theories you may have or would like to discuss, feel free to comment and ask. You can also ask THE LAB at www.traininglaboratory.com/contact.
Posted: November 28th, 2011 | Author: Aaron Bonser | Filed under: Exercise Tips, Health Tips, Lifestyle | 1 Comment »
Did you know it is estimated that about 70 million people in the United States have arthritis? The condition affects men and women of all races and ethnicities and even children. However, arthritis is more common in women and in older individuals. If you are suffering from joint stiffness and pain from arthritis, exercising might be the last thing on your to-do list. However, arthritis specialists will recommend exercise for patients suffering from arthritis and so will I. I’m going to share with you the theory behind exercise and its affects on arthritis.
First let’s point out that there are over 100 distinct conditions of arthritis. The most common form is osteoarthritis (OA). About 21 million Americans are diagnosed with OA. This condition can be caused over years of wear and tear, hence the reason it is most prevalent in men over 55 and women over 60, as well as health conditions such as obesity, physical injury, or even heredity. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is another popular condition which involves the disfunction of your immune system. With RA, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy joint tissue as if it were an infection or invading organism. This response can lead to stiffness, pain, and even tissue damage.
Well, that’s most of the bad news. I think most are waiting to here some good news, and there is good news!
I’ve learned that knowledge isn’t the only source of power. Action is power. It’s the people that actually do something with their knowledge that will be successful. It’s the people that accept defeat and do nothing that will suffer the most. I am about to give you the knowledge to fight this disease. BUT, that won’t be enough… you need to ACT on it.
Our bodies are designed to be active. The human body is so complex that scientists are still scratching the surface of its true potential. With that being said, you need to use your body the way it was intended to be used. You have to move. Movement immediately increases circulation in the blood stream which will help the systems of the body transport important compounds to the cells as well as remove any waste or toxins. Exercise takes movement one step further. With exercise you can stimulate cell growth and cellular regeneration. These are 2 very important processes you want taking place on a regular basis if you have arthritis.
Exercise is a highly effective way to combat arthritic symptoms without the need for surgery or medications. You should always consult a doctor before entering an exercise program in case there are specific limitations you health professional should know about. Other than that, it’s time to move!
You can reduce joint pain and stiffness by exercising. The following are a few ways in which exercise fights back against arthritis:
Exercise can strengthen muscles around the joints adding an increased level of support during daily functional activities and other applied stresses.
Exercise increases flexibility and endurance. These two characteristics will allow you to maintain full range of motion (ROM) throughout the joint as well as prevent fatigue in surrounding muscle tissue.
Exercise increases your overall energy level. This means it will be 10x easier to get off your butt and move. With higher energy levels you can fight depression and even increase self esteem. Think of it in another sense, exercise will supercharge your internal furnace!
Exercise can help with you get proper rest. Rest is more important than you think. This is the primetime for cell growth and regeneration. Your body will basically rebuild itself while you’re resting.
Exercise will help control your weight. Amongst the obvious health risks associated with obesity, excess mass adds excess stress to your joints. Learn about body mass index (BMI) and find out if you are in an acceptable weight class for your height.
I’ve used the term exercise as a general term in this blog. Understand that there are all forms of physical movement and exercise. Examples include walking, biking, swimming, yoga, and resistance training. For further questions or insights to exercises that may work for you or someone you know suffering from arthritis, contact THE LAB @ www.traininglaboratory.com/contact.
Posted: November 20th, 2011 | Author: Aaron Bonser | Filed under: Exercise Tips, Health News, Lifestyle | No Comments »
This is the first of several summaries of research into the effects of strength training for women;
Can women make increases in strength?
Will women reach a point where they are too old to make improvements in strength?
Will strength training make women bigger?
Can strength training help reduce body fat levels?
Fortunately, there is a significant amount of research on the gender differentiated responses to strength (resistance) training.We will refer to some of the key points from several such studies in this article.
Can women increase strength?
There are many different studies on this subject but there is a recent investigation by Martel and colleagues from the University of Maryland (2006) that investigated responses to strength training in both genders and two different age groups. These groups included men and women aged 20-30, and men and women aged 65-75. All subjects trained over a nine week period, three times per week. Martel, et al. concluded that, “…strength training led to significant increases in 1 repetition maximum and type II fiber cross-sectional area in all groups.”
Click here to read more
Posted: November 20th, 2011 | Author: Aaron Bonser | Filed under: Exercise Tips | No Comments »
I would say it is fairly obvious how important physical activity is to improving and maintaining your health. There is also extensive evidence supporting the impact it has on overweight and obese individuals. Yet, even knowing the positive affects of being physically active and exercising, people still make excuses NOT to do it.
Why do you think this is? As you are reading this, I am sure a few ideas have popped into your head. The following will be 5 reasons to consider high intensity exercise (HIE). HIE training is characterized by several rounds of brief, intense, and repetitive bouts of exercise. This form of training has numerous health benefits and also overcomes almost every individual’s objection on why they do not exercise. Feel free to post comments after you have read through this post.
1) Represents a remarkably efficient routine. Efficiency is the key to any task, but especially for those who say they don’t have enough TIME to workout. HIE training is compatible with the time-constrained modern lifestyle most people live with today. You figure a common routine of exercise would take about 1 -- 1.5 hours out of someone’s day. Many cannot afford this time to exercise. With HIE training, you can be done in 20 minutes! Want the icing on the cake? You can increase stimulation of the muscles and burn more calories than those exercising for the 1 -- 1.5 hours!
2) An excellent alternative to classically prescribed sub-max endurance or aerobic training. Any fitness professional will tell you the importance of changing your exercise routine from time to time. Many people hit a wall or plateau while others simply get bored. HIE or interval training is an excellent way to “shake things up” and shock your body. This type of exercise has a wow factor that can break through plateaus and help regain focus on achieving fitness goals.
3) Great for sedentary individuals who find endurance/aerobic exercise to be monotonous. These individuals often find continuous, sub-max exercise to be boring. A high intensity, short, and focused routine may be more attractive because of the tremendous amount of energy you expend in such a brief period of time. Studies have shown that individuals with low fitness levels tolerate this style of training more so than longer endurance routines. There isn’t much down time with HIE and your body is accomplishing so much physically that your brain will make you think you’ve been working out for hours.
4) Induces greater changes in body composition for overweight and obese individuals. There are numerous studies demonstrating that only a few weeks of high-intensity interval training, usually on cycle ergometers, substantially improved a number of metabolic and vascular risk factors in overweight and obese sedentary individuals. These studies highlight the potential for this alternative exercise model to improve vascular function and metabolic health in these populations.
5) Offers a greater stimulus for skeletal muscles and a high level of muscular power is needed to perform this type of exercise. Whether you are trying to lose weight, gain muscle, increase strength, or simply improve your health, you need to give your body a reason to do so. HIE training stimulates more characteristics of the muscle fibers than low intensity/endurance exercise routines. This means your muscles will be given all kinds reasons to change!
If you are trying to improve your health and fitness or know of someone struggling to incorporate exercise into their lifestyle, share and discuss this post. There are countless resources for finding routines that are short and sweet. Make an active effort in finding them and ask questions.