How to Follow Through with Your New Year’s Fitness Resolutions

The following is a guest post written by Dave West of Koko Fitclub and does not necessarily reflect the views of exercisebasics.

Every year like clockwork on January 1, people across this country make a commitment to lose weight, get fit or stay healthy.

Do you know how many people reach their New Year’s resolutions? Not many. According to StatisticBrain.com, only 8 percent of people successfully achieve their New Year’s goals.

As an owner of fitness and health clubs in Scottsdale, Arizona, I see this process first hand. I’ve seen people fail. I’ve seen people succeed. In my opinion, what separates success from failure is ATTITUDE. The people who stick with their New Year’s fitness resolutions tend to have a positive outlook on life.

Sure, these people experience speed bumps along the road to their fitness goals. But they look at them as learning experiences.

Having a positive outlook on life can do so many great things for you. The Mayo Clinic says a good attitude:

  • Increases your life span 
  • Improves psychological and physical well-being 
  • Decreases the risk of cardiovascular diseases


In my personal experience, it also helps you reach your New Year’s fitness goals. So how do you carry a positive attitude throughout 2013? It starts by following these steps.

Step #1: Have a Plan – Too often people are set up to fail because they don’t have a plan to reach their fitness goals. It’s important to establish a fitness plan that meets your objectives. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when setting up your plan.

Step #2: Keep It Real – Know your strength and fitness levels. Setting unrealistic goals is going to make it tough to reach your goals.

Step #3: Monitor Progress – It’s going to be tough to reach your goals if you don’t monitor them. Monitoring progress helps keep you on track. It also builds confidence and momentum as you start to inch toward your goals.

Step #4: Always Be Learning – Knowledge really is power. Get help from fitness instructors. Read blogs like Exercise Basics or the Koko FitClub Arizona Fitness Blog. The more you know, the more confident you’ll become.

Step #5: Have Fun – It’s tough to stay positive if you’re not having much fun. Find a gym and do activities that make you smile. You’ll see an improvement in your confidence and fitness levels.

Following these tips will help you improve your attitude when it comes to fitness. Before you set any weight or fitness goals for 2013, make it a priority to stay positive.

Former professional baseball player Wade Boggs put it best: “A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.”

Dave West is the owner of Koko FitClub gyms in Scottsdale, Arizona. You can find out more about Koko FitClub by visiting www.KokoFitAZ.com.

Improve Your Posture to Increase Performance and Avoid Injury

The following is a guest post and does not necessarily reflect the views of exercise basics.

As well as leading to a number of detrimental health issues, like chronic back, shoulder, neck and knee pain, a poor posture can have a big impact on your exercise performance. While we all know that a bad posture can have a negative effect on our health and well-being, not everyone is familiar with what they can do to improve it. Below are some simple exercise tips that can help you gradually improve your posture and reduce the risk of developing a long-lasting injury.

Strengthen Your Core

In order to effectively adapt and improve your posture, it is important to understand what constitutes ‘correct’ posture. In general terms, good posture is when the body’s muscles and joints align properly – which allows for more efficient movement. When you are not well aligned, the muscles and joints (e.g. shoulders, hips, spine, knees etc…) are not working in unison – which results in some muscles having to work harder than others.

The first step to a good posture starts with strengthening the core, which gives you a strong and solid platform to build on. To do this, you need to focus on the abdominal muscles, obliques, lower back and hips. To get you started, here are some basic core strengthening exercise you can work into your normal routine:

Basic crunches (without sitting fully up) – these help to develop the rectus abdominals
Crunches with twist (alternate the crunch left to right) – these help the abs and obliques
Back extensions 
Side plank – works the obliques

Fix The Hunchback

Once you’ve strengthened your core, you can start tackling the rounded shoulders that have developed thanks to all that slouching at your desk, in the car or while watching TV. This can be rectified by strengthening the weak upper back muscles and stretching the tight muscles in your chest, shoulders, lats and hips:

Reverse fly exercise – to help the upper back
Resistance band seated row exercise - more upper back strengthening
Chest stretch
Standing quad stretch

Incorporating the above exercises into your normal exercise/stretching routine will see your rounded shoulders improve over time and create a more efficient posture.

Correct Tilting Hips

One of the signs of a poor posture is tilting hips. To check if you have tilting hips, look in the mirror side-on when you are wearing a belt. Is the belt at the same level all the way around your waist, or is it higher in the back? If it’s not level, then you have tilted hips – which are commonly caused by sitting down with bent legs for too long. Here are some exercises that can help strengthen your hamstrings, glutes and abs to correct tilting hips:

Bridges – strengthens the hamstrings and glutes
Swiss ball hamstring curls – works the hamstrings and glutes

Just as a poor posture doesn’t happen overnight, a correct and efficient posture takes time to develop. The above exercise guide will help you gradually strengthen your core muscles and improve your posture. To speed the process up, you can also change certain aspects within your daily routine e.g. make sure you sit upright and resist the temptation to slouch at your desk or when driving, get a firmer and more supportive mattress and make a concerted effort to stand more upright.

This is a guest post from Luke Glassford of physio supplies seller Physio-Med.

5 Ways to Squeeze Exercise into a Busy Schedule

The Following is a guest post and does not necessarily reflect the views of exercisebasics.

Has it come down to choosing between squeezing a plump body into an outfit you’ve outgrown or trying to figure out how to squeeze in exercise? Both situations are stressful but, let’s face facts; carrying excess weight on your body isn’t good for your health. Our bodies were made to move, and without at least 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week, the extra weight will slowly pile on. On top of that, every fitness and health professional keeps asserting that strength training is important for bone density and good health. Whittle your middle, tone your muscles and drop excess flab by following these five tips for squeezing exercise into a busy schedule.


Tone Muscles While Watching TV. Relaxing in front of the television after a long day at work can be a nice way to wind down. Invest the first 15 minutes of your television time in toning your muscles while you watch TV to accomplish your strength training. You only need to perform strength training moves three times per week, for 15 minutes each time to achieve results. Use dumbbells or kettlebells as you do squats, lunges, dumbbell rows, bicep curls and shoulder presses.

Ten-Minute Spurts. Health and fitness professionals recommend 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week. When a hectic schedule precludes 30 minutes of uninterrupted exercise, go for 10-minute spurts instead. Take a brisk walk, go up and down the stairs or jog in place for three 10-minute segments spread throughout the day. If you do this five days a week, you’ll be able to squeeze in your cardio.

Waiting-in-Line Isometrics. Does it seem like you spend an inordinate amount of time standing in line? Use that time wisely to tighten and tone your muscles as you wait for your turn. Choose one area of muscle to focus on at a time, such as your calf muscles. Squeeze or contract the muscles, and hold the contraction for 30 to 60 seconds. Move on to other muscles, as time allows. Isometrics can be done anywhere at any time, even while sitting at your desk.


Take the Long Way. You’ve probably heard it before—park at the far end of the parking lot or walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator. The extra movement adds up in calories burned and will contribute toward faster weight loss.

Wake Up with Yoga. Stretching keeps your muscles long and lean, loosens your joint and helps relax your body. Even five to 10 minutes of yoga in the morning can help improve your range of motion and flexibility.
An all-or-nothing approach to exercise sets you up for fitness burnout or definite weight gain. Similar to many other healthy lifestyle changes, incorporating exercise into your life doesn’t have to occur on a rigid schedule or be strenuous in order to be effective. The small bits of effort you put forth throughout the day add up to calories burned, fat lost and muscle being toned.

If it’s been a while since you last exercised, start out by incorporating one of the five tips listed here to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Do as much as you can and then stop, but when the exercises you’re doing start to feel easier, perform them longer or add more weight. It took time to gain weight and lose muscle tone, and it will take time to shed the fat and sculpt your muscles. Don’t let a busy schedule stand between you and your health and fitness. Squeezing in exercise throughout the day can add up to create an effective fitness plan that helps you meet your goals.

Samantha Rodgers is a writer, blogger, and health-fitness enthusiast who spends her time researching and writing about health related issues, most especially about healthy diet and fitness health. She also writes about medical trials and becoming a member of a volunteer pool for GSK trials alongside her health and fitness interests.

Health in the News: November 19, 2012 - Children and Exercise Intensity

edit: it was brought to my attention that the link was broken. it is now fixed. my bad.

So today sort of sucked. Car trouble and inconsiderate people are giving me a headache. I now remember why I used to walk everywhere with an ipod: not relying on vehicles and not having to speak to strangers. Anyway, my mood is getting better right now thanks to good coffee, comedy, and getting to see my wife in a couple hours. So on with the blogging.

This is my first health in the news post in a while. It was put on the back burner while I was finishing my thesis. I have more free time now so I'll be gradually getting back to things. Here's an article about children and exercise. The essence of the article is that, for children, intensity of exercise is more important that duration. Not surprising, children aren't getting enough vigorous exercise. Give this article a read and let me know what you think. click on the link below the photo.

Children and exercise intensity




Seriously, let me know what you think. I want to get more interaction out of my readers. I know that I have set this blog up as a resource, but I still want feedback. :)

BMI Not The Perfect Measure

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a way to categorize oneself based on weight and height. It's very useful for a general population, and indeed, has been shown to be a good predictor of obesity related morbidity - meaning that the higher your BMI the greater your morbidity, as well as your risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke. BMI is very easy to calculate and can quickly be used to determine your weight class using the following table:

Under Weight<20
Healthy Weight20-24.9
Over Weight25-29.9
Obese30+

Here's what I want to point out. BMI is great for the general population, however for an athlete you can basically throw it out the window. Marathon runners will commonly come in as underweight, olympic weight lifters or even football players will often come in as over weight, and body-builders are obese. However, no reasonable person would say that these people are unhealthy. BMI also does not take into account gender. Think about a man and woman of the same height. you would expect the man to weight more than the woman based on body-type, but according to BMI there should not be a difference. It also doesn't take into account a persons morphology (body type).


What I'm trying to say is take BMI with a grain of salt. Yes it is a good general estimate about your weight as it relates to your health, but it isn't be-all-end-all. Don't get to worried if you're tipping a little into the over weight category if you're an active individual who eats well. Do worry if you're in the overweight range and you have type 2 diabetes and smoke. Do you see the difference?


The Importance of Taking Breaks

This was shared with me a couple of days ago. It's an interesting infographic, and really, who doesn't like a nice infographic. I cannot vouch for any of the claims made in it, but I'm lead to believe it's all true and researched. Check it out and let me know what you think! clicking the pic will open it up in a new window so you can zoom in.
Take a Break!
source: onlinebusinessdegree

Strong or Powerful.. which are you?

Today I want to discuss the difference between strength and power.

Unfortunately, anytime we go to the gym and lift weights in ends up falling under the blanket term "strength training." While it's not entirely wrong to say this - because lifting weights will make you stronger - it could be a little more precise. There's a spectrum of training from strength to speed in relation to force produced and velocity of contraction. This is - aptly named - the force-velocity relationship and follows the curve below.


Interpreting the graph you can see that the slower the velocity of contraction, the larger the force you can produce. This is your maximum power. With a large velocity there will be less force produced. This is your maximum speed. Right in the middle of the curve, the blend of speed and strength, is your power. I like to look at it as being a large force produced at rapid contraction velocity. It's an explosive type of movement.

To put it into context I find it easier to take a look at a sport like football. Your big guys, your offensive line will be very strong. They have to produce a large amount of force to keep the D from breaking the line. While the initial movement after the snap will be very quick/powerful, they will have to maintain a large force production slowly to keep the D at bay, this is strength.

If we take a look at a different position, lets say a guy like J.J. Watt at defensive end. J.J. has to produce a large amount of force quickly in order to break through the line and get to the quarterback. If he produces this force too slowly he won't be able to overcome the offensive line, if he is too quick he won't be able to produce enough force to get through. That's J.J. is powerful, he produce a large amount of force rapidly.

That's it really. It's not too hard of a concept.

slow speed + very high force = Strength
rapid speed + high force = Power

Hopefully that helps explain this a little. Stay tuned for how to train differently to meet the goals of strength or power.  if you have any questions, please comment below, or email me.

Don't forget, if you like this blog to follow me in one of many ways in my right side bar.

Get Out There and Vote!

Hi folks,

This has nothing to do with exercise, but please read.

Image courtesy of coward_lion / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


I am not American, therefor I do not have the right to vote in America (obviously right?). In lieu of this I urge any of you that read this on a regular basis to get out and vote. You guys have the opportunity to help shape the future of the USA for the next four years and beyond.

I know who I would vote for if I had the opportunity and I know why I would do so. I plan on moving to the USA in the next year to practice physiotherapy. Because of this I very much want the POTUS to be the man I would vote for. I would vote for Barak Obama. I would do so because I like his the direction he's going with healthcare. I would do so because I like his policies ie: oil. I would do this because Romney confuses me and doesn't seem like an actual human being.

I'm not a political blogger. I am, however, well informed and I do care about what happens in the US elections because it not only affects Americans, it affects Canadians, it affects the world.  I'm not going to try to analyze platforms here, because I honestly don't know how to do that in writing. For that I'll point you towards more relevant sources:

Listen, whether you vote for Obama or Romney, just vote. Be happy that you have the right to do so. Be happy that you live in a democracy.

Getting the Most Out of Your "Nutrition Window"

The following is a guestpost and does not necessarily reflect the views of exercisebasics.

The last thing you'll want after completing an hour-long, full-body workout is to think about, well, anything. You're allowed five minutes to walk around and stretch your muscles, paying attention to every part of your body that was pushed beyond its supposed limit a mere 10 minutes ago. You then need to take action, as your nutrition window is ticking.

Every gym-goer or athlete serious about results and their performance should be well-versed in sports nutrition. Products like creatine and protein shakes are proven muscle-builders for those pairing a healthy diet with regular exercise. A similar effect can be obtained by following a protein-rich plan, featuring vast quantities of red meat, fish and eggs. Though taking on supplements is a lot easier than having to ease down four filling meals each day.

Now, protein in any form, consumed at any time of day can be beneficial. Providing, of course, the subject in question is combining their intake with exercise, otherwise the nutrients will go to waste. As protein serves as one of the building blocks of body tissue and a crucial source of fuel, there is a time gap that can be used by gym-goers to obtain optimum results. This is called the nutrition window.

The start

The window actually opens way before you've done your first curl. You should start taking small sips of your protein shake around 30 minutes before exercise. This will allow amino acids and sugars to flow freely into your bloodstream, ready for the workout.

Training

The best way to gain results is to sip on your drink as you train, but your ability to do this depends on the discipline. Bodybuilders have no problem with this technique as they frequently take short breaks between equipment switches. Cyclists or runners, who might find it harder to break, are therefore advised to exchange their marathon sessions for groups of 30 sprints, with a two minute drinks break separating each period. Sipping throughout will fill your body with vital carbohydrates and even more amino acids to working muscles, allowing you to maintain peak levels of performance as you exercise.

Finish

Immediately finish off the rest of your drink when you complete the workout. You might even want to make another one if muscle growth is your goal. During this period, you muscles will absorb all of the carbohydrates and amino acids available and transform them into energy reserves. The extra protein will also repair torn fibres, allowing you to speed up your recovery process and come back fresh the next day.

Meal

Foods like steak, beans and almonds contain vast quantities of protein, but protein-rich liquids will find their way into the bloodstream at a much faster rate. The solid foods must be broken down and digested inside, as opposed to a soup or broth, which will slip straight down your stomach.
The only problem with this method of consumption is liquid meals aren't exactly the most appetising and your cravings for a large bowl of pasta are likely to creep in after a week. So, make an effort to follow a liquid diet every other time you go to the gym. Either that or really do consume two protein shakes after workout before fixing up a protein-fuelled dinner, like an omelette or steak sandwich.

Disclaimer: If you read exercisebasics regularly you may know my view on protein supplementation.  While I don't typically endorse the use of protein powders, they do have their place and I think that the above article is well-thought out and appropriately written.

slowly getting back into the swing of things

Hi folks,

I know I keep saying that I'll get back to the regularly scheduled blogging soon and not too much has availed yet. I do have one more guest post line up and will soon be reviewing a product. I'm busy finishing my thesis for my masters. If any of y'all are interested it's a systematic review on the efficacy of eccentric exercise in the treatment of achilles tendinopathy. When I'm finished I may post it up here, depending on whether or not I'm allowed to do so from the university.  I'll warn you now, it promises to be very wordy and not exactly a light read. It is really interesting though.

The due date for the thesis is October 30th. Then I have 2 weeks before starting my final clinical placement. So it looks like I'll actually have some more time to dedicate to the blog, which is nice. I much prefer writing here for pleasure than researching and writing reviews for university. The end is nye though. stick with me folks.

For now I'll share one of my favourite videos. It's a this hour has 22 minutes skit featuring mark critch of newfoundland. Newfoundlanders will appreciate this, Canadians will - hopefully - understand it, and the rest of you will enjoy it because of its hilarity and overall awesomeness. Sorry, nothing exercise or physiotherapy related in the video.




Combatting the Wall

The following is a guest post and does not necessarily reflect the views of exercisebasics. 

If you're into your first week of exercising regularly, you might have heard of the dreaded wall. Thankfully, for any keen runners, the wall isn't physical. It exists as a mental barrier which usually halts you in your tracks after 14-20 days of keeping fit. Tiredness and fatigue usually bring down the wall, but boredom and repetition will also prize you of crucial motivation. This is why you need to incorporate variety into your exercise plan to give yourself the best chance of success.

The problem is that people identify a form of exercise or sport they can use to keep fit and stick religiously to it. If you've found yourself in this situation, you'll notice that the hunger to compete or set new goals will start to wane within the first two weeks. The trick is to participate in two or three sports or exercises and change elements of your plan whenever you're getting bored of the same curls, lifts and cardio workouts.

As you linger on the edge of giving up altogether, here's how you pull yourself back from the brink…

Change the game-plan

Breaking out of your routine is key. If you're only lifting weights, you should look into using some of the other pieces of equipment at your gym. Exercise bikes and rowing machines are perfect alternatives as they test other areas of your body and allow you to build up your reserves. For example, rowing still requires you to continuously pull a weighted handle, but the movement also gives you an ab crunch at the same time.

It might also be that the setting is sapping precious ounces of drive out of your system. Should this be the case, work 20-30 minute jogs into your week to supplement the gym sessions, or sign up to a football team at the weekend. You'll then find yourself concentrating on new surroundings and using different muscles, which in turn is likely to give you more complete results when you look in the mirror.

Recover

The only cure for fatigue is rest, but a two to three day break is unlikely to revitalise you if you've been preparing incorrectly. After your workout, allocate 10 minutes to stretching and lightly walking off your exercise. Following this, you could perhaps take on bodybuilding supplements like protein shakes, which contain vital nutrients to aid muscle growth and repair.  

Change the tune

Most gym-goers use music to summon their inner-beast. An mp3 player could prove to be a useful tool for you over time, but it needs to be full to the brim with fresh sounds to maintain its worth. There's nothing worse than flicking through the first 10 tracks just to find something that takes your fancy. A selection should be found within the first few clicks if you've built up a strong library - allowing you to focus on your workout. Every week, pull up your list of tracks and decide which can stay and which can go.   

Of course, this is hard when you've got a player with over 2000 tracks loaded onto it. In this case, construct playlists featuring suitable gym music rather than hitting the shuffle function. You'll then always have something else to concentrate on while you push for the burn.  

the long and winding road

Hello blogland,

you may have noticed a lack of original content on my behalf and a few guestposts in the last couple of weeks. I feel like I should explain, or at least partly.

Over the summer there was a death in my family. It's not something I really want to talk about on my blog, or at least not right now. However, because of this I've had to fly home from the UK to Canada. I've been splitting my time while back between my hometown, my wife's hometown, and my university town. I've also had to fly back to the UK to get all my stuff and move home, all the while completing university coursework and preparing for my final placement as a physiotherapy student. Anyway, because of all of this I've not been able to write anything on my own. I've not actually felt like writing anything either, sort of lost my motivation for a little while there. I will be posting original content again, but for now you'll mostly see a few more guestposts until I can get settled again. I appreciate any of you who continue to follow me.

Top 8 Easy Low-Impact Exercises

The following is a guest post and does not necessarily reflect the views of exercisebasics

Low-impact exercises are a great safe way to maintain health and lose weight. This type of exercise burns calories without putting much stress on your joints. Here are a few low-impact exercises that are easy to integrate into your daily routine.

Walking


Walking’s one of the easiest exercises to work into a routine because it can be done anywhere. When you have a busy schedule, walking can easily be slotted into breaks, mornings, evenings, and sometimes even for small meetings. Modifying the intensity of a walk can also burn more calories; this can be accomplished through the use of hand weights, inclines, and pace.

Swimming


Swimming is a massive calorie-burning exercise, and it’s also one of the lowest impacts without having any impact with the ground. Swimming is a spectacular exercise because it works so many muscle groups. This type of exercise can be ideal for older people or individuals with weight-bearing issues such as joint problems. For this reason, aquatic therapy is often used for rehabilitation. Swimming can also be alternated with underwater running or water aerobics.

Yoga


There are some common misconceptions about the usefulness or intensity of yoga, but yoga is actually an intense mental and physical exercise. It is particularly effective at increasing blood flow throughout the entire body. There are different types of yoga, so it is very easy to customize a workout based on your desired results.

Rowing


A rowing machine is an excellent way to get a total body workout. The focus might be the rowing motion, but the exercise also tones the muscles of the back, legs, and core. Most machines allow users to modify the resistance, so it’s possible to modify the workout in that way.

Stair Climbing


This exercise is easy to implement with real stairs or ideally a stair machine. However this intense workout can be completed through the use of bleachers, stairs in the home, or stairs in the workplace, a gym membership is not required. Work a steady pace over a longer period of time rather than fast stair running to reduce knee impact.

Elliptical


The elliptical machine is an easy tool for beginners to use, and it offers an intense workout. Many machines also have an upper body component, making it even simpler to burn calories and get increase arm muscle tone. Additionally, elliptical machines have lower impact on the knee joint than treadmills.

Dance Workout DVDs


These dance workout DVDs have enjoyed an explosion in popularity, and this is for a good reason. An easy-to-follow, low-impact, calorie-burning dance fitness-party, it is a complete workout that are also extremely enjoyable. These instructional videos and classes have different intensities, so beginners can comfortably start exercising at an appropriate pace.

Ballroom dancing


Ballroom dancing has also experienced an increase in popularity. Many ballroom dances are swift enough to give a low-impact, calorie-burning exercise. Also, some individuals find it easier to stay motivated with an exercise partner, and ballroom dancing comes with an understood exercise buddy.

The exercises listed above are just a few of the many low-impact exercises. All of the workouts engage the entire body, which leads to a more intense routine. It is important to note that even low-impact exercises can be risky for individuals with certain health concerns, so individuals should consult a physician before starting any exercise routine.

About The Author: Brandon’s an avid runner and fitness blogger that works with HydroWorx, a fitness and commercial pools manufacturer.

Benefits of Adding Swimming to Your Current Workout

The following is a guest post and does not necessarily reflect the views of exercisebasics

Cardio and any other form of exercise that elevates the heart rate have been proven to have a lot of health benefits. For those who work out to lose weight, running on a regular basis is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to start shedding pounds. But if you want to up the ante on your workout, you should try and incorporate a swimming routine.

Not only will you be getting the cardio benefits, you're also toning your muscles, increasing your endurance, and adding variety to your routine to break or prevent monotony. Here are some more reasons why you should incorporate a swimming routine into your current workout.

Improves Technique and Coordination


Unlike running or cycling where your feet and legs are always moving forward, swimming gives you the freedom to move in more varied ways. Using different kinds of strokes for your laps, combined with treading, you get to exercise using different movements AND engage more muscle groups in every movement.

A simple way to look at swimming in terms of improving technique and coordination is this: anyone and everyone can simply go out and run, but not everyone can swim. This is not meant to discourage, but rather to challenge.

Engages and Tones Different Muscle Groups


If your regular workout consists of running or weight lifting, you are engaging specific muscle groups and areas of the body. The whole body benefits from running, but the focus is on the lower body. Same goes with weight lifting - its focus is on building upper body strength. So if you're already running and lifting weights on a regular basis, adding swimming to your routine will help "balance" things out and get an overall body workout by engaging the muscles from your neck down to your calves.

Many think that swimming focuses more on the upper body; hence, the "swimmer's body" effect. But if you combine your strokes with leg kicks, back crawls, and other leg actions, you are effectively working out not just the arms and legs, but also your core.

Increases Lung Capacity


When you do any cardiovascular and aerobic workout regularly, you learn to breathe deeper and improve your breathing because your body demands for more oxygen in the lungs. Swimming does the same, but in an increased capacity because of the added resistance that water provides. Try getting out of the water briefly and do the breast or back stroke. Now compare it to how much deeper your breaths get when you do the same in the water.

With this extra resistance, your body is pushed to do more - breathe deeper, kick harder, move your arms faster, etc. All this takes your regular and routine workout to a higher level, with your body developing those long, lean muscles on your arms, legs, back, core, etc.

Prevents Muscle Soreness and Improves Flexibility


When your workout consists mostly or purely of circuit training, running, or weight lifting, you will experience soreness in the muscles. Some who aren't so lucky, or do their exercises improperly, even experience muscle injury. Swimming can help prevent this, especially if you add it to your regular workout as the last routine. It can give your muscles that needed break and "healing time" from the high-impact, high-intensity exercises you did while still keeping the muscles warm.

So how does swimming lead to an improvement in flexibility? See, your muscles expand when they are warmed up (and you keep stretching or moving). This makes it easier and less painful for you to bend low, reach high, extend your arms further, etc. Swimming can be an excellent warm-down routine, a good break from routine fitness exercises, and a fun way to end every workout.

About the author: Ken Campbell has written for the health industry for many years. When he’s not reviewing hockey slide board training equipment, you can find him training for his upcoming triathlon.

How to Maximize Your Workout Benefits

The following is a guest post and does not necessarily reflect the views of exercisebasics.

If you're like most people, you probably have trouble finding enough time to work out as much as you'd like. That's why when you do finally get to exercise, you need to make every minute count. Some workout routines are more efficient than others, so it's important that you choose your exercises carefully. There are also some other simple changes you can make to your lifestyle that will help ensure you receive optimal benefits from the efforts you put forth exercising. Here are some tips for maximizing your workout benefits.

Use interval training


No matter which type of exercise you prefer, you can get a bigger bang for your buck by switching to interval training. This is a technique whereby you alternate short burst of very intense exercise with longer periods of rest or lower intensity exercise. This method of "starting and stopping" helps your body burn more calories and fat by helping it to process lactic acid buildup in a more efficient manner. The National Strength and Conditioning Association has guidelines for the ideal ratio of high intensity to low intensity exercise that depend on the length of your high intensity interval. For example, if you sprint for 30 seconds, you should use the ratio of 1:3 and follow that by a period of rest or slow walking for a minute and a half. Whether you like running, step aerobics, cycling, or swimming, there are ways you can adapt your routine to reap the benefits of interval training.

Get enough rest so your muscles can recuperate


You might be surprised to learn that your muscles actually grow while your body is at rest. Working your muscles causes tiny tears to form and it is during rest that these are repaired, boosting your metabolism and building up your muscles in the process. That is why it is not ideal to lift weights every day. Instead, give your body 24-48 hours in between lifting sessions for your muscles do to their work. You can still do other types of exercises on your days "off". Some people work different muscle groups on different days, focusing on arms every other day and legs on the days in between. Likewise, getting adequate sleep at night can help keep your body working properly and give you the energy you need to complete a proper workout.

Make sure you are lifting enough weight


You probably already know that building muscle helps raise your metabolism so that you burn more calories even when you're not working out. However, it's not enough to simply lift weights. You need to make sure you are lifting enough weight to get the maximum benefits to your metabolism. As a general guide, you want to lift weights that are heavy enough that you can only perform about 8 to 10 repetitions before becoming too fatigued to continue. This is the fastest way to become stronger and build muscle at the same time.

Choose appropriate post-workout snacks


A post-workout snack is important for helping your body replenish glycogen that is lost during exercise. It also gives your body energy to repair muscle tissue. Your snack should be mostly protein but you also need to add a small amount of carbohydrates into the mix. A few good options include a whole wheat pita spread with hummus, apples with peanut butter, half a tuna sandwich, or yogurt with berries. As you can see, with just a few simple tweaks, you can get better workout results.

About the Author: Aside from being a personal trainer, Steven Madison writes about other health and science related material, like anatomical and skull models for scientific research. In his free time, he loves to hike, swim and climb with his beautiful wife.

BRB

Hi everyone.

You may have noticed a lack of posting over the last couple of weeks. I can tell you that you can expect that to continue probably for another couple of weeks at least. There's been a personal tragedy in my family and all other projects are put on the back-burner for now.

Please don't forget about me, I'll be back soon.

FITT Principle

It's been a while since I've had original content of my own here. I thought I'd ease back into it with a short post about the FITT principle. The FITT principle should be a cornerstone of how your workout should be structured and any personal trainer will likely design programs following it.

F - Frequency. This is simply how often you're going to perform your routine.
I - Intensity. How hard you're going to be working
T - Time. How long your workout will be
T - Type. What kind of exercise are you doing.

This can be use in macro to design your routine for a week and then used in micro to structure individual exercises. Here's an example of how you can use FITT to design a strength training routine for a week.

Macro:

F: 4 days per week
I: Moderate
T: 45 minutes
T: Strength training

Macro:
FMondayTuesdayThursdayFriday
I80% 1RM80% 1RM80% 1RM80% 1RM
T45min45min45min45min
TUpper Body Push
Bench Press
Shoulder Bress
Triceps Dips
Lower Body Pull
Supine Hamstring Curl with Gym Ball
Dead Lifts
Single Leg Roman Dead Lift
Upper Body Pull
Lat Pull-Down
Seated Rows
Upright Row
Lower Body Push
Squats
Calf Raises
Seat Knee Extensions

You can then take each individual exercise and apply the FITT principle as below.

Micro:
F3 sets
I6-8 reps max
T30-40 seconds activity
3 minute rest
TBench Press

In the above micro split, the Time is determine by the tempo and work to rest ratio for strength training.
tempo for strength training is typical 2-1-2 (2 seconds eccentric , 1 second pause, 2 concentric). Work to rest ratio for strength training is about 1:5, so 30-40secs:150-200seconds.

That's basically it. Use the FITT principle to help design your workouts.

How do you design your workouts? let me know in the comments.

Guest Post: Running Without Your Shoes


If you ask most runners, they take a lot of pride in the different types of shoes that they sport.  Some runners spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars for the niftiest pair of shoes on the market, especially those who are concerned with really making an impression on the running scene.

With that in mind, it would almost seem ludicrous if not completely crazy to run a marathon with nothing but the soles of your feet.  It is hard to imagine running a marathon in the first place, let alone running with no protection for your feet, yet some people swear by it.

There have been a few studies on this particular matter, and for some people the findings may be pretty surprising.  As a preface for this whole discussion, for a long time now, people have preferred running barefooted for races for a variety of reasons.

In the 1960s Ethiopia’s Abebe Bikila, one of the greatest Olympic marathoners of all time won the first of his consecutive gold medals barefoot.  Bruce Tulloh, who has ran European record times from 1955 to 1967, was known as well for running barefoot.

While it may be hard to imagine running barefoot for miles and miles, many studies have shown that all the bells and whistles that new age running shoes boast are of little actual help.  So that means all the foam padding, posts, bridges, and dual-density midsoles are really not all they are cracked up to be.
Fortunately, this barefoot running craze has yet to catch on for a couple obvious reasons.  Perhaps first and foremost is the issue of safety.  Runners always run the risk of stepping on twigs, glass, or even sharp rocks in the process of their training.

That being said, there are some advantages to running barefoot.  The most important being the decreased weight of running shoes.  Although many running shoes are lightweight, it can make a world of difference removing that extra weight, especially in long distance runs.

However, although this definitely would help aspiring runners to get an advantage in a competition, most people are not going to be interested in stepping up their game to that extent and are perfectly content running around the block for some cardio.  At least the majority of runners would.

When it comes down to it, there are a lot of reasons people like to run barefoot, and there are a lot reasons people do not.  So the best way to test whether or not barefoot running is for you is to simply go out and try it on for size.  Who knows, you may end up liking it.

About the author: Jessica Staheli is a health and fitness nut. She loves to write about being healthy and getting in shape because she believes that taking care of your body is important. Having fitness equipment in your home is a great way to remind yourself to exercise, and she recommends TreadmillReviews.com for help with choosing a treadmill. Follow her on Google+.

Types of Muscle Contractions


Have you ever heard people talking about doing an exercise eccentrically? Do you know what they mean when they say it. Gym jargon can be confusing and when folks talk about contraction types it can be hard to figure out exactly what they mean. Here I will explain the different types of contractions as well as provide examples of their use.

Note: I don't like the term muscle contractions because "contraction" means to shorten. Only one type of contraction described below actually involves the muscle shortening. I prefer to say muscle activations, but that's me being a geek. For colloquialism's sake I'll use contractions for this post.

It may be helpful to understand Huxley's sliding filament theory before going on. I wrote a love story metaphor explaining it, but you might also like the good old fashion textbook explanation.

Types of Muscle Contractions


There are essentially three types of muscle contractions.
Bicep curl
source: sportsandsocial

Concentric: This, to me, is the purest form of muscle contraction because it's the only one in which the length of the muscles shortens as the muscle producing force. This is your basic contraction, such as when your trying to show off for the ladies so you start flexing your biceps. That's probably the best example of a concentric contraction that I can think of. As you flex your bicep, the muscle shortens while producing force.

Bench Press
source: A. Blight
Eccentric: An eccentric contraction is when force is produced while the muscle is lengthening. This is what happens when you do negatives on a flat bench. As you lower the bar to your chest your pecs (and triceps and anterior deltoid) lengthen, but they still have to produce force or else you'll be crushed by the bar. Another example is walking down hill or down a set of stairs. Your quadriceps work eccentrically to keep you from crumpling to the ground.

Sophie
source: bgreenlee
Isometric: An isometric contraction is when force is produced, but there is no change in muscle length. Think trying to pull ouf the sword of excalibur. Too geeky? How about trying to deadlift with a weight that you can't lift. Try as you might, that weight isn't coming off the floor, yet you're producing a hell of a lot of force trying to do so.


So there you have it, the short and skinny of muscle contractions.



Health in the News: July 20, 2012 - First Lady Loves Exercise



Michelle Obama recently pumped out 25 push ups on Ellen as if she were a navy seal. Everyone admires the woman's arms, but there's another reason to admire the first lady. She's been pushing for communities to help her/the nation combat childhood obesity in her "Let's Move" initiative. Now she's trying to give the project a little bit of a reboot. Read the article in the link below and let me know your thoughts.

Michele Obama's Let's Move Initiative

The Sliding Filament Love Story

This is my terrible attempt to analogize Huxley's sliding filament theory. I used to think of the sliding filament theory story of love, betrayal, and violence. It makes it seem super interesting right? I thought I'd write a little narrative of how the story would play out. I promise to actually explain the theory soon. I hope in the meantime this entertains you. For those of you who already understand the sliding filament theory,  I really hope you enjoy this and can draw the parallels quite easily.

Woman broken heart 2
It's a normal day in Sarcomere, the core of Muscle city. A couple, myosin and tropinin - known affectionately as tropomyosin by their friends. are walking to neuromuscular junction, the train station because there's supposed to be some big event. They're joined by the brothers, adenosine-triphosphate and inorganic phosphate, who like to be called ADP and Pi. When they get to the junction they find out that the thugs, acetylcholine (ACh) is coming to town on the fastest train around, the nerve impulse. Everyone is pretty, ACh also cause trouble wherever they go. The train pulls into the station, ACh gets off and immediately wreck the joint, they smash a transformer and turn out all the lights.


Word reaches sarcoplasmic reticulum, the favourite hangout of the notorious calcium, who likes to be known as Ca+. Ca+ is a bigwig in sarcomere and he doesn't like it when a stranger comes and starts to cause trouble. Wasting no time, Ca+ rushing in sarcomere. This is where the story gets really heated.

You see, Troponin has always had huge crush on Ca+, like head-over-heels in love with him, so when troponin sees Ca+, with his pearly white smile, she ditches myosin on the spot. Myosin, although heartbroken, isn't long seeking out a new partner. He's had his eye on Actin, a beautiful girl who lives on the over side of the river. ADP and Pi come up with a cunning plan - they tell myosin he should build a bridge across the river, there's no way that actin could resist such a committed act. Myosin gets straight to work and builds a bridge. Actin, touched by the gesture mets Myosin and the bridge - it was love at first site. They name they bridge the actin-myosin cross bridge.  Myosin sweeps the lovely actin of her feet with one powerfullstroke. ADP and Pi, not wanting to be third wheels go on their merry way.

It seems that their love will never end, however, what myosin didn't tell actin is that the real reason troponin left him for calcium is because myosin is a two-timing bastard. It seems that he had himself a little piece on the side, her name is adenosine-triphosphate (ATP). When she finds out that myosin and troponin split up she rushes over to claim her man all for herself. Stumbling in on myosin and actin in the throws of passion she becomes furious. Fuelled with rage, she charges with malice in heart and socks actin square in her face. Myosin is powerless to stop ATP because he's so exhausted - what with hectic day he had losing one lover, building a bridge and getting busy with actin. In such a low-energy state myosin forgets all about losing troponin and realizes that actin was just a hook-up on the rebound. All he really wants to do now is go home with his one true love ATP.

ATP brings her man home as Actin is left wondering what the hell just happened. Unfortunately for ATP, Myosin never learns from his mistakes. He can't get Troponin off his mind so he decides to giver her a call. Apparently  Ca+ was actually a pretty big douche. Myosin figures it can hurt to invite Troponin over just to "chill" with him and his old pals ADP and Pi. When she comes over it's as if they had never been apart.

Health in the News: July 10, 2012 - Obamacare

There's no shortage of news about President Obama's healthcare reform in the last week or so since congress has passed the bill. Truthfully, I don't completely understand what it all means just yet because I've really not taken the time to sit down a figure out all the implications. I'm also much more familiar with the Canadian system for healthcare. In any case, I think that the following story shows how Obamacare may benefit the average person. It's about Stephanie Miller and her sister who died of colon cancer. Please click the link to watch an interview with the Reverend Al Sharpton and Stephanie as well as a video of here with President Obama.

What Obamacare could mean

The 1 Gram Protein Myth

How often have you heard that you need 1g of protein/lb of body weight? It sounds logical right, I mean when you're working out you need to increase your protein intake and a gram is a nice round number... What if I were to tell you that it's a bunch of hokum? What if I were to tell you that you can get the same benefits with much less protein intake? And, What if I were to tell you that you're wasting your money on protein supplements? I'm suspecting that some of you will not like me very much.



Here's the actual truth.

Firstly, protein is essential for hypertrophy (muscle growth). 

In order for muscles to grow protein synthesis has to be greater than protein breakdown

Resistance training stimulates breakdown of muscle protein and increase of muscle protein synthesis

Breakdown of muscle protein happens quicker than synthesis following resistance training and proteins will need to replaced through diet


Protein synthesis will plateau even with increased intake at a certain point. This means that no matter how much protein you take in, there will be a point where synthesis will no longer need the added protein and what's left over more-or-less becomes urea.

So yes, you will need more protein when you are exercising, but how much exactly? Here's what the literature says:

Well, first the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of protein is 0.8g/kg (0.36g/lb) for the general population. It has been suggested in laboratory studies that athletes required up to double the RDA, roughly 1.6g/kg-1.8g/kg (0.72g/lb - 0.81g/lb). This is still far less the the amount commonly recommended by fitness professionals of 1g/lb, so let's dig a little deeper.

Lemon (1991) suggests that endurance athletes require up to 1.4g/kg (0.63g/lb) and strength training athletes require up to 1.8g/kg (0.81g/lb); what about the bodybuilders or people who have been lifting for years, surely they require even higher protein intake than that. Not according to Phillips et al. (1999). They found that for trained lifters - those who had be lifting for at least 5 years with at least 3 sessions per week -  had a reduced rate of protein breakdown following exercise than untrained lifters, suggesting that they would require less protein than their novice counterparts. More to that point, Lemon et al. (1992) found that experienced lifters required only 1.04g/kg (0.47g/lb) compared to 1.5g/kg (0.67g/lb) for novice lifters.

A more recent study by Hoffman et al. in 2006 confirm the findings of earlier studies. They found that collegiate athletes did not benefit from higher protein intakes of >2.0g/kg (0.90g/lb) compared  to recommended levels fot athletes of 1.8g/kg (0.81g/lb).

Now, there are other issues that effect hypertrophy with relation to protein intake such as the timing of when protein is consumed, the quality of the protein, overall calorie intake and where these calories come from (fats or carbs), and the type of sport involvement. However, I've yet to read a study that supports a total protein intake greater than 1.8g/kg (0.81g/lb). I'd be happy to read any study that supports a greater intake if any someone can find me one.

Now, I'm not saying that protein supplements are an entirely bad thing. There are days when reaching the RDA may be difficult or certain groups of people (such as those with celiacs) may find it difficult to reach the amount through diet alone. In these cases I can support the use of protein supplements. I just want you guys to understand that protein requirements are much lower than the industry may have you believe, and the widely perpetrated myth that 1g/lb is needed has no scientific basis. I will concede that it is a nice round number, so it makes the math easy. It is, however, more than double what most people actually require.



___________________________________

References:


Bohé, J. et al. (2003). Human muscle protein synthesis is modulated by extracellular, not intramuscular amino acid availability: a dose-response study, J Physiol, 552 (1), 315-324

Hoffman, J. et al. (2006). Effect of Protein Intake on Strength, Body Composition and Endocrine Changes in Strength/Power Athletes, Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 3 (2), 12-18

Lemon, P. (1991). Effect of exercise on protein requirements, Journal of Sports Sciences, 9, 53-70.

Lemon, P. et al. (1992). Protein requirements and muscle mass/strength changes during intensive training in novice bodybuilders. J Appl Physiol, 73, 767– 775.

Phillips, S. et al. (1999). Resistance training reduces the acute exercise-induced increase in muscle protein turnover, Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, 276, E118-E124.

Tipton, K. and Wolfe, R. (2007). Protein and amino acids for athletes, Journal of Sports Sciences, 22 (1), 65-79.





ACL Injury Part 3: Treatment

Now that you know the mechanism of injury and function of the ACL and the risk factors along with ways to prevent and ACL injury, it's time to learn about how to treat an injury once sustained.

Treatment for an ACL injury will depend on the grade of the injury itself. Ligament injuries range from Grade 1-3.

Grade 1:minimal damage to ligament, no instability
Grade 2:partial tear, mild/moderate instability
Grade 3:complete rupture, very unstable

For a grade 1 sprain the mainstay of treatment will be to reduce inflammation and the PRICE method will be used along with the use of crutches in the acute/sub-acute face (3 days - 3 weeks) to reduce weight bearing through the knee. However, for more substantial injuries other options need to be explored.

Grade 2 and Grade 3 Injuries


Early Stages:

In the early stages of and ACL partial or complete tear the management is exactly the same as any ligament injury and focusing on getting the swelling down. Li At this point medical attention will be need and a discussion will be had about whether or not to have surgery.

Surgical Intervention:
source: www.indiahospitaltour.com

More often than not - especially in athletes - ACL injuries will be surgical repaired. There are conflicting ideas of whether surgery is required. Studies have shown that there is no difference in the function of the knee 2-10 years after injury for those who had surgery vs those who had not. Other studies report that Early surgical intervention reduces the risk of meniscus damage.

If surgery is required then the ligament will either be repaired by stitching the ruptured ends together or completely reconstructed. Reconstructed ACLs can come from the individual (autograft) or a cadaver (allograft). Autograft reconstructions will typically use either the patellar tendon or hamstring tendon to make the ligament.

Pre-surgery Rehabilitation

If surgery is the treatment of choice the surgeon will likely give you a home exercise routine or refer you to physiotherapy to prepare for surgery. To prepare fo surgery strength and range of motion of the knee need to be maintained. A typical program will include something like: 

isometric quadriceps
heel slides
1/4 squats
stationary bike 
Straight Leg Raises

Post-surgery Rehabilitation

The best post-surgery rehabilitation can be debated. While certain things such as the use of ice, anti-inflammatories and pain killers are commonplace, the type of rehab is largely dependent on the surgeon's protocols. Some surgeons may only want you to do open chain exercises - such as sitting knee extension. Others may want just closed chain - such as 1/4 squats. I would imagine that most surgeons will use a mixture, or introduce open chain or closed chains at different times. Whatever their reasoning, it's important that the surgeons post-surgery protocol be followed by the injured person and the physical therapists. A typical post-surgical protocol may look similar to the one found here"


Non-Surgical Intervention


Not everyone will go down the surgical route for an ACL injury, and studies have shown that non-surgical intervention can be just as effective in the long-term as surgery, albeit there is controversy surrounding the matter. Indeed many people choose to forgo surgery and are living normal lives - such as my brother. Studies have shown that factors such as obesity, age, history of meniscal injury, and sex may play a part in the effectiveness of non-surgical intervention with regards to secondary osteoarthritis and knee instability.

Conservative management will be essential the same as a pre and post surgery protocol, but sans surgery. Again, hamstring strength will be a major focus because of it's function in preventing excess knee extension.




Health in The News: June 19, 2012 - Americans Smoking Less, But Eating More

Hello folks,
No Smoking
I'm taking a break from the ACL series to bring you this news story. It's good and bad news. First, the good news. The amount of Americans that smoke is down by nearly 6% over the last 12 years and more americans report exercising is up as well. The bad news, 28.7% of Americans are obese and diabetes is on the rise. Click here to read the article:

Mixed bag of Health in America

So, we take the good with the bad right? Presumably, the obesity numbers will begin to creep down if the trend to exercise more comes up and people start making healthier decision. One step at a time.

What do you guys think?