Fitness: Maintaining optimum strength on weak muscles

Fitness: Maintaining optimum strength on weak muscles

Muscular strength should be maintained at the level which supports the daily activities and allows for emergency physical activities and occasional prolonged periods when adequate nutrition and hours of rest are reduced. Most occupations involve some muscular strain. Sitting for hours at a desk places a continuous strain on the small muscles supporting the shoulders and head. If these small muscles are not allowed to rest or if their circulation is not improved by massage or exercise, they will become fatigued and distractingly painful.

The strenuousness of muscular activity is proportional to the strength of the muscles involved. An activity which is strenuous for a weak muscled individual is less strenuous for another individual with stronger muscles. If a sufficient reserve of muscular strength is maintained daily tasks are performed with greater ease and efficiency, in greater quantities and with less fatigue. As the athlete trains for his event by strengthening himself through increasing loads of work, so the worker and the executive can train themselves the better to withstand their physical stresses through extra loads of physical activity.

Fitness: Maintaining optimum strength on weak muscles

The athlete requires daily periods of hard work to maintain a high state of training but those who perform sedentary or moderate work need less frequent and less strenuous periods of extra physical activity. The exercise periods can be made very pleasurable if the work is accomplished in the form of golf, bowling, tennis or other sport. If there is sufficient leisure time, desirable levels of muscular strength can be maintained by such activities as gardening, home workshop activities, fishing, hunting, and camping.

Strengthening Weak Muscles

Muscular weakness may be corrected by working the muscles against heavy loads. The loads should be adapted to the strength of the muscles and increased as muscle strength is improved. Tile rate of improvement will generally be in proportion to the amount of work performed by the muscles. Rapid improvement requires long periods of work. If the load of work is too heavy or the movement too rapid, or if insufficient rest is allowed between the bouts of work, exhaustion will occur and the total amount of work which can be accomplished during the exercise period is diminished.

A properly planned weight lifting program using dumbbells and barbells will give rapid increase in strength of weak muscles. The amount of work can be accurately controlled and the exercise can be adapted to the muscle groups needing the greatest development. Wrestling and gymnastics are also useful for improving muscular strength. In wrestling, however, a weak person usually exhausts himself before he has performed enough work to bring about the desired rate of improvement, Gymnastics tend to develop only the special parts of the body which are used in exercises. Both wrestling and gymnastics have a greater value in the later stages of a strength building program.

A special problem arises in exercises designed to strengthen abdominal muscles. Leg-lifting and trunk-flexing exercises can be performed most easily by contractions of the strong hip flexor muscles, the sartorius, rectus femorus, psoas major, iliacus, and the adductors. Abdominal muscles are brought strongly into play only when the performer contracts them voluntarily during exercise. Assistance can be given by palpation of the abdominal muscles and encouragement of the performer to use his abdominal muscles strongly in the exercise. Autogenous auditory facilitation by means of electrical amplification of the performer’s own muscle sounds assists in increasing the work output and endurance when muscular exercise is difficult.

Related Links

Fitness Main Page
Physiological Elements of Fitness and Beauty
The Effects of Training on the Physiological Systems
Physical Condition of Muscle

Easy mistake that derails your workout

Easy mistake that derails your workout

Whether on an elliptical, a treadmill, or a stair climber, holding the support bars is a bad idea.

The minute your workout starts to intensify, the temptation is always there: grab the rails. Whether you’re on a stair climber, elliptical or treadmill, reaching out for those support bars can undermine your workout in ways you probably don’t realize.

It may seem harmless to get your balance or hold yourself up a little, but it’s very easy to support half your weight without really trying that hard. And on a stair climber, for example, supporting half your weight with your arms can cut into your calorie burn by as much as 35 percent, according to Zack Barksdale, a professional fitness trainer at Cooper Aerobics in Dallas, Tex.

And as counterproductive as those lost calories are, Barksdale, who holds a Masters of Science from Baylor University, says the long-term effects are much worse.

“The bad thing about it is that you’re not activating your core,” he says. “You’re not working on posture if you’re holding on, and you’re not engaging your muscles naturally.”

That doesn’t just risk your cardio development. It might risk injury. “Later on down the road,” Barksdale says, “if you fall during any kind of physical activity, your shoulders aren’t going to have the range of motion to safely catch you. You’ll end up doing things like tearing your rotator cuff.”

Generally, Barksdale says it’s best to avoid the stationary machines if you can and get outside or to an indoor track. Instead of pushing down steps on a stair climber, you could be pushing your body weight up on stadium steps, which is a much more natural motion. It will also ensure your core is engaged, since there will be no rails to support your body weight as you go up.

But if the gym is a daily stop, and the machines are a part of the routine, there are some things you can do to maximize your time on them.

First and foremost: don’t reach for the rails. “If you don’t hold on, your neurological system is going to have to fire like crazy, which will give you better balance and reflexes for life,” Barksdale says. “If you’re holding on to railings, as you get older, your balance is going to start to go. We see it all the time.”

Also don’t think that just because you’re holding railings or poles that move with the motion of the machine, that you’re not doing harm.

“You’re moving your feet forward and backward, but if you’re holding on to handles that move as well, it will make your lower back tighter and tighter every day,” Barksdale says.

The fix? Go slow and engage your arms and core into the motion of the exercise to promote balance and strength. Too often, gym-goers amp up the speed on their machine and have no choice but to grab the rails for balance.

“If you’re going so fast that you’re having trouble staying up without holding the railings, that tells you that your core isn’t strong enough to go that quickly, and you need to work on that first before you start going so fast that you need to grab the railings,” Barksdale said. “It’s better to start off slow, and be able to balance.”

Workout mistakes to avoid for better results

Workout mistakes to avoid for better results

When you stick to a routine, it is easy to become, well, stuck. If you are not cut down, toning up, or feeling any kind, it is probably due to an error following year. Read on to learn how to restart – and get the body you want pronto!

Mistake 1: You can count on Cardio Peel Off Pounds

For most women, sweaty aerobic exercise is not enough. “Research shows that weight loss is minimal if it is accompanied by a plan,” said Amy Luke, PhD, a nutritional epidemiologist at the Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University of Chicago. “We can compensate for the extra energy we burn during physical activity by at least the rest of the day, or more commonly, we feel hungry after working, so we eat more.”

The solution: Keep your diet in check. To remove a book, which is 3500 calories in a week, aim to eat 300 calories less each day (300 x 7 = 2100) while burning 300 calories of exercise five times a week (300 x 5 = 1500) . “You plan for the year. You need to plan what you will eat after,” says John Porcari, PhD, professor of exercise physiology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and fitness advisory board member. Drink plenty of water also helps.

Mistake 2: You race through your representatives

Two things could happen here: Either your weight is too light, which is often the case for women, or are too heavy, and you let the momentum or gravity take over. Either way, your muscles are not sufficiently challenged, so they do not get more toned.

The solution: If you do not believe you’ve done just about everything you can do at the end of a game, choose a heavier weight. “You want there to be some pressure on the representatives of the second-last and last,” says Barbara Bushman, PhD, professor of exercise physiology at Missouri State University in Springfield. Achieving lighter weights when Do not move the weight with a regular check as you raise and lower.

Mistake 3: You Overcrunch Your Abs

If you make more than three sets of 15, you are wasting your time. “Crunches are not additional to your waist cinch,” says Michele Olson, Ph.D., professor of exercise science at Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama, and a FITNESS advisory board member. “We work the rectus abdominus, which is only one of the four muscles of the abdominal wall. But there are three other deeper muscles [internal obliques, external obliques, transverse abdominis] that give you a lean appearance by helping you with your posture.”

The solution: Take a break temporarily from your usual crunches and try the Pilates-based movements: (1) board (balance on the floor on forearms and toes and hold for 30 seconds), (2 ) Double-leg stretch (lie on your back, knees bent at 90 degrees with feet in the air and shins parallel to the floor, shoulders off the floor with your arms loosely clasping her knees, extend your legs and V arms wide, then back to top), (3) side planks (lie on the floor on your right, leaning on his right elbow, feet stacked, lift the hips, using your left hand on the ground in front of you to support Hold for 5 counts, then lower Do 10 repetitions, switch sides .. and repeat). Do 10 repetitions of each movement, three or four times a week.

Mistake 4: you aim to stay in the area to burn fat

No wonder you think you have to do this to lose weight: Many cardio you mean when you are above and below the zone. But the reason to stick to the low intensity exercise has been completely discredited. “Because fat takes longer than carbohydrates to convert to energy, you burn a higher percentage of it while sitting or walking when you run. So the old thought was that in low intensity of exercise that you could torch body fat and lose weight, “says Porcari. But the theory did not work in practice.”

In one study, we had people walk or run for half an hour . On average, the marchers burned 240 calories, 44 percent were fat, so they burned 108 calories of fat. Runners burn 450 calories, 24 percent were fat, so they burned 120 calories of fat. You look at total calories or fat calories, the riders arrived safely in the lead, “says Porcari.

The solution: There is nothing wrong with low-intensity exercise, especially if you have common problems. “But to lose weight, you will probably need to do for more than half an hour. Just for general health, the recommendation is 30 minutes five days a week, “Porcari said.

Mistake 5: You Skip the Warm Up

You may think you are saving time, but you’re actually just affect 5 to 10 minutes of your workout. “Your body needs to warm up literally so that blood flow increases, the nervous system wakes up, and the body starts to use energy and oxygen more efficiently,” says Michael Bracko, a sports physiologist and Director of the Institute for Hockey Research in Calgary. The result: Each step feels like less of a slog, and burn calories in full swing.

The solution: Bracko said that the best warm-up is to do your exercises chosen a low intensity. Runners, for example, should work, then run. “Continue until you break a sweat,” says Bracko. Alternatively, you can try to “dynamic” stretching, which moves are taking body through the range of motion you’re about to do. For a runner, which can mean high knees, butt shots, and forward, reverse, and rushed next door. “Avoid static stretching where you hold poses for several reasons. Reality soothes the system and can affect the performance”, Bracko says.

Related Link: View more fitness secrets

Eating mistakes that sabotage your workout

Eating mistakes that sabotage your workout

Protein shakes and energy bars could actually hinder your tone-up routine. Here are five mistakes that may interfere with getting the most out of your training time.

Drinking a Protein Shake Before a Workout

Protein is digested much slower than carbs, so too much pre-workout can give you stomach cramps and prevent the carbs you need for fuel from getting absorbed and becoming available to your working muscles.

The Fix: Reach for a smaller quantity of protein, along with slow burning carbs pre-workout, and choose higher protein shakes, snacks or meals afterwards.

Exercising on an Empty Stomach

It’s physiologically impossible to burn pure body fat – during aerobic exercise you burn a combo of carbs and fat. When carbs aren’t readily available, your body is forced to break down its own muscle mass and convert it into blood sugar. That means by skipping, you may end up eating away at your own muscle instead of building it!

The Fix: If you don’t like the feeling of food in your stomach when you exercise stick with a liquid, like a small smoothie made with unsweetened frozen fruit and organic skim or soy milk.

Overusing Energy Bars

Overusing them can cause you to “eat back” the calories you burned exercising, preventing you from seeing results. A lot of my non pro athlete clients grab a bar post workout and eat a meal a few hours later, which may be overload when you consider that many bars are the equivalent of a turkey sandwich – and most people wouldn’t eat a turkey sandwich, then sit down to chicken stir fry a few hours later.
The Fix: If you’re going to eat within an hour of the end of your workout skip the bar, or go for it and pare down the portions in your next meal.

Not Eating Enough “Good” Fat

Every cell in the human body is partially made out of fat, including muscle, so “good” fat is needed to heal and repair post workout – without it you can stay sore and fail to see an improvement in strength and muscle tone.

The Fix: Include small portions of foods like extra virgin olive oil, avocado and almonds at every meal, and be sure to include a daily source of omega3 fatty acids.

Buying Into the Afterburn Myth

While it’s true that you will torch more calories in the hours after a workout, for most women it amounts to just an additional 50 calories burned, not enough to sanction a splurge (note: a medium original Pinkberry = 230 calories).

The Fix: My general rule of thumb: the 50/50 principle – if you’re trying to trim down you can afford to add about half the calories you burn to your usual intake, preferably about 50% before to help fuel the activity, and half after, for recovery. For example, an hour on the elliptical burns about 500 calories (for 150 pound person), which means you can safely “spend” an extra 125 cals both before and after hitting the gym – that’s the amount in about one slice of whole grain bread spread with one tablespoon natural peanut butter before, and a half cup each nonfat Greek yogurt and sliced strawberries topped with a tablespoon of sliced almonds after.

The best foods to fuel your workouts

The best foods to fuel your workouts

Turkey has more protein and iron than chicken, and kale trumps spinach on vitamin C.

As a health-savvy consumer, you try to toss nutrient-packed foods into your grocery cart. But when you’re deciding between similar-seeming nutritious items (say, turkey or chicken?), you may not know the superior choice. “Food is your fuel,” says Mitzi Dulan, R.D., co-author of The All-Pro Diet. “Selecting the most nutritious options will improve your diet and give you a competitive edge.” While you can’t go wrong eating both quinoa and brown rice, choosing the nutritional champ may give your workout the boost it needs. In a healthy-food smackdown, here are our winning picks.

Strawberries vs. Blueberries

Both are health all-stars, but a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reported that blueberries (particularly wild ones) showed the most antioxidant activity of all the fruits tested. “These antioxidants help keep your immune system strong,” says Dulan, “and reduce muscle-tissue damage from exercise.”

Healthy Choice: Mix blueberries into lean ground beef for burgers. The juicy fruit will help keep the meat moist.

Chicken Breast vs. Turkey Breast

Both breast meats are free of saturated fat, but turkey has three additional grams of protein per three-ounce serving, plus more iron (which helps deliver oxygen to muscles) and selenium. “This mineral functions as part of an enzyme called glutathione peroxidase,” says sports dietitian Suzanne Girard Eberle, R.D., author of Endurance Sports Nutrition. This enzyme works as an antioxidant to protect cells from free radicals that may contribute to cancer and heart disease.

Healthy Choice: Make your own lunch meat to avoid the excess sodium in much deli turkey. Bake turkey breasts, slice them thinly, and add to sandwiches.

Read more “The best foods to fuel your workouts”

How long it takes to get out of shape

How long it takes to get out of shape

If you take off two months — or two weeks — are you back to square one?

As we move into the dog days of August, that going-to-get-my-best-body-ever summer motivation starts to wane, and we’re more likely to skip a few days or weeks worth of workouts. This often leaves us wondering just how much damage we’ve done. I mean, if we take two weeks off, are we (gulp) back where we started?

For a little morale boost and a dose of reality, we called on Craig Rasmussen, a fitness coach in Newhall, Calif. Obviously, just how quickly you lose fitness depends on your starting fitness level, as well as other factors such as age and genetics. But Rasmussen’s general take is this:

After two weeks off… “We will probably start to see a decline in general fitness levels,” says Rasmussen. “These can occur at different rates in the muscular and cardiovascular systems.” At this point, it’s probably safe to jump back in at the same intensity you were cranking at before the hiatus.

Secret shortcut: Cardio levels decrease faster than strength–the magic of muscle memory. To take advantage of this phenomenon, during hellish work weeks, do just one set of five strength exercises–studies show that 50 to 90 percent of your strength gains come from your first set (though when your schedule eases up–to build muscle and ward off bone loss–go back to 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 exercises 2 or 3 days a week).

After more than two weeks off… “The longer that is taken off, the more you need to scale back,” says Rasmussen. “I would recommend scaling volume and intensity back a bit, but you do not have to start back at square one.” The good news: Assuming you had a solid foundation already in place, “you will regain fitness levels back at a faster rate than someone who has never had them in the first place.” Phew.

Secret shortcut: No time for recommended dose of 5 to 7 days of 20 to 60 minutes of cardio this week? To preserve heart and lung strength and prevent waistline creep, cut that amount in half and seriously ramp up the intensity. We love this simple interval workout.

Could a break actually be good for me? Totally. If you’ve been going all-out, working out HARD for months, you probably deserve and need a training vacay. “For many people who are stuck in the more is always better mentality, they have accumulated so much fatigue that a week off is just what they need,” says Rasmussen. This allows your muscles to recover fully so you can continue making strides whether you’re training for a race or trying to lose those last five (stubborn!) pounds.