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Archive for the Fitness Category

Fitness Tip of the Day: Flexibility Training to Improve Squats

If you are unable to perform a squat, one of our body’s primal moves; flexibility may be the problem not strength. A properly performed squat requires flexibility through the kinetic chain from the ankles, up to the legs, hips and shoulders. If range of motion is limited, squat technique will be poor. The body will compensate with dysfunctional movement patterns such as the rounding of the back, head and chest may drop forward, and heels may lift off the floor. These patterns can result in injury.

As a fitness trainer, I first recommend developing flexibility through a progressive stretching program. I recommend stretching the same amount of time that you spend exercising. If you worked out for an hour, stretch for an hour.

Never stretch upon waking when muscles are cold. Optimally, stretch after a workout or before bed. Always go in to a stretch slow and controlled; no bouncing or jerking movements. Stretch each muscle 3 times holding each stretch for 30 to 90 seconds.

The better your flexibility, the better the squat.

Author: Sharon’s Personal Training
Female Fitness Trainer of Tucson

Personal Trainer Health Website Recommendation

As a Fitness Trainer, I am always looking for resources that provide valuable and accurate information on diet and health. One such website is:

www.FrankComstockmd.com

Dr. Comstock is a physician board certified in emergency medicine as well as antiaging medicine. He worked for over twenty-five years in emergency medicine, and for the past ten years has practiced antiaging medicine at Lifestyle Spectrum in Tucson, Arizona.

His website promotes better health through lifestyle changes. Dr. Comstock’s blog posts include important topics such as: “Anti-Aging Exercise”, “Fat Burning Metabolism: FAQs”, “14 Reasons You Should Eat More Fat” and “Why You Shouldn’t Count Calories To Lose Fat”.

Check it out and bookmark the blog page! Better yet – apply Dr. Comstock’s exercise and diet tips. Knowledge is useless without action.

Sharon of Sharon’s Personal Training

Female Fitness Trainer of Tucson

 

Fitness Tip of the Day: Train Your Weak Link

The saying goes, A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

This is a literal fact about the structure of a chain and it also applies to the human body. The structure of the human body is a chain of skeletal bones linked together by muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia. If one “link” is damaged or weak, it will affect the function of the entire chain/body. I see many people in the gym performing exercises that come easy to them and that they’re good at. Basically, they focus on their strengths. Sometimes when I teach my clients a new exercise and it’s difficult or they can’t do it perfectly right away; they conclude, they shouldn’t do the exercise. The contrary is true. If a particular exercise is a struggle, that means you need to do it.

If you have this mindset, then you’re probably focused on your strengths and are neglecting to train your weaknesses. This routine will only perpetuate structural imbalances in your body. Strong muscles will continue to strengthen. Weak muscles will continue to be weak; thus, putting you at risk for injury or at best, prevent any significant progression in your training.

You probably already know which muscles are weak. Break out of your comfort zone and learn a new exercise or lift today. Make it one that emphasizes your weak area or muscle. It may feel unnatural or awkward at first, but keep at it. Once you learn the technique and improve in strength, it will become easier.

By training your weak links, will you will attain structural balance in your body. This will lead to higher levels of performance, greater strength gains and lower your risk of injury.

Sharon of Sharon’s Personal Training

Certified Female Fitness Trainer

TRX Suspension Training

I am now certified in TRX Suspension Training. Suspension Training is a system that uses your own body weight and suspended cables to give you a full body workout.The concept is that one part of the body is always grounded, similar to movement of everyday life. Most jobs are sedentary and require sitting for most of the day. Why do you go to the gym and sit more at a machine? Strength and mobility gains made on the TRX will transfer to activities of daily living and sports.

TRX is useful for all fitness levels and ages because you adjust the difficulty and load by changing your angle or position to the anchor. Even my senior clients and overweight clients perform well on the TRX and actually enjoy it. The suspended straps allow for greater range of motion than one might ordinarily have.

If you’ve never trained using Suspension Training, I highly recommend it! For more information or to find a TRX Certified Trainer in your area, click on the link below.

TRXtraining.com

Sharon of Sharon’s Personal Training

Fitness Trainer of Tucson

Personal Trainer Tip of the Day: Perform Overhead Squats

Overhead squats are rarely performed but offer a great full-body workout. They also help to improve posture if you have rounded shoulders. Here’s how it’s done: place a dowel on top of your head and position your hands so that elbows are at a 90 degree angle. Now raise the dowel above your head so that your arms are straight and fully extended. Perform a regular squat keeping the dowel over your shoulders with arms fully extended. Focus on keeping your shoulder blades down and pinched together. This will help keep the dowel stay in alignment. Be sure to also maintain correct squat fundamentals such as keeping your heels planted and knees in line with your feet. Once you can successfully perform the overhead squat with a dowel, add weight by using a BodyBar or barbell.

Good luck!

Sharon Powell

Female Fitness Trainer of Tucson

Personal Training Tip of the Day: MOVE!

The structure and function of the human body was designed to move and be active. Muscles function best when they repeat a cycle of contraction under tension, followed by relaxation. This process has many health benefits such as, reducing muscle glycogen which in turn reduces insulin resistance. If you have Type II Diabetes or are at risk, exercise will help. The structure of joints were designed to bend and rotate. This action releases such chemicals as synovial fluid which lubricates the joint.

Our bodies were not meant to be sedentary. Sadly, most of our current jobs are. Even sitting for as little as 20 minutes has negative effects. Certain muscles shorten like the hip flexors (muscles located in the front of the pelvic bone). This can create hip and low back pain. Sitting for extended periods of time also lowers various chemicals (hormones), which set up your body to store more fat. Worse, when we get home from our jobs or school, we sit all night watching TV or at the computer.

Whenever I have a day where I have to sit much of the day, I always experience more soreness and stiffness. On days where I move a lot, I feel great. If you have a job that requires you are seated, I recommend getting up every 20 minutes to stretch and move. Even if you are not able to leave your desk, move at your desk. Perform body squats, leg swings, march in place – anything to get your blood flowing and the body moving.

Take away for today – MOVE!

Sharon Powell

Fitness Trainer of Tucson

 

FEMALE FITNESS AND THE FEAR OF BULKING UP

When it comes to female fitness, a phrase I often hear is, “I don’t want to bulk up.” Many females have the fear that lifting weights will cause them to “get big”. This concept could not be further from the truth. It is more difficult to bulk up than one might imagine, even for most men. Growing in muscle size depends on genetics, the female fitness status, exercise protocol, nutrition and hormonal response.

Most females do not increase in muscle size as a result of resistance training and actually may decrease in body circumference due to a loss in body fat. A research study involved a 20-week heavy resistance training program for the lower body testing the results on female fitness. Female participants were assessed prior to the study including body fat analysis and circumference measurements. At the conclusion of the study, participants had a decrease in body fat and an increase in muscle tissue, with no overall change in thigh circumference. Changes in muscle fibers as a result of heavy resistance training begin to take place within just a few workouts. Noticeable gains in muscle growth, however, take at least 8 weeks to several months, and only if the training and nutrition protocols are for the purpose of gaining in size.

Females tend to increase in strength not size because of their genetic makeup and hormonal differences. Women naturally carry more fat than men due to the needs during childbearing years. Also, females have much lower concentration levels of testosterone which has a muscle building stimulus. Another muscle building hormone is Growth hormone released from the pituitary gland. The production of GH responds differently in female fitness than it does in males. Studies show that only a specific type of training protocol will stimulate GH in females.

In addition, females generally have a higher percentage of slow-twitch muscle fibers, whereas males have a greater ratio of fast-twitch fibers. This is important because slow-twitch fibers have long endurance and lack the potential for growth in size.

In conclusion, to grow in muscle size, a female would need to follow specific training protocols and adhere to a high caloric intake of the right kinds of foods, not to mention supplements. Rest assured, women in the female fitness world; it is safe to lift weights without the fear of getting big! Women can feel confident that an increase in strength and power is achievable without large increases in circumference area.

By:  Sharon Powell

References:

Burger, M.E., Burger, T.A. (2002). Neuromuscular and Hormonal Adaptations to Resistance Training:  Implications for Strength Development in Female Athletes. The Strength and Conditioning Journal:  National Strength And Conditioning Association, Volume 24, 51-59.

Charge, S. B. P., and Rudnicki, M.A. (2004). Cellular and molecular regulation of muscle regeneration. Physiological Reviews, Volume 84, 209-238

 

Copyright ©2011

HOW TO BREAK A PLATEAU

Have you stopped losing weight after being so successful at first? Or have you stopped gaining muscle mass? Have you reached a plateau? I have one question for you – how long have you been doing the same workout routine?

 

Our bodies have built-in survival mechanisms which cause them to adjust to the exercises we regularly perform. If you have been doing the same routine for more than 8 weeks, and you are no longer seeing results, there is a good chance your body has acclimated. Depending on your fitness level and body type, it can take as little as 3 weeks for your body to adapt.

 

So how to you break the plateau? Simple – change your workout! If you’ve only been walking for exercise, add strength training; i.e. lift weights. For bodybuilding, change the number of sets and reps. If you’ve been lifting heavy with low reps for a while, change to high reps with lower loads.

 

If you are not sure how to adjust your exercise program, consult with a Certified Personal Trainer. They can analyze your current program and make adjustments to keep you moving towards your fitness goals.

By:  Sharon Powell

Copyright ©2011

How a Personal Trainer Can Help During Cancer Treatment

By: Jackie Clark

A cancer diagnosis can be one of the most challenging experiences in many peoples’ lives. While an exercise program is not a substitute for chemotherapy and cancer treatment under a healthcare provider, it does offer valuable benefits for anyone fighting cancer.

Chemotherapy works by preventing some cells in the body from reproducing. It works predominantly on rapidly producing cells, but can have negative impacts on the entire body. Cancer consists of normal human body cells that reproduce very rapidly, outside of the control of the body. When chemotherapy attacks these rapidly reproducing cells, it also impacts other cells in the body that reproduce rapidly. These include cells that produce hair, blood, muscle, and other parts of the body.

Chemotherapy often results in a feeling of lethargy, a dull aching pain, loss of appetite, and depression. Mesothelioma patients often may experience pain on the surface of the body, as chemotherapy works to eliminate cancer cells. For many individuals, exercise can help reduce several of the symptoms of chemotherapy.

A personal trainer can guide a cancer patient through a variety of different exercises, which offer many health benefits. Exercise boosts levels of endorphins in the brain, which can help fight depression and pain. Endorphins are the natural equivalent of pain medicine, and can offer relief for up to several hours after exercise. Exercise also boosts appetite, which can be lowered during cancer therapy.

By using a personal trainer, a cancer patient will be able to concentrate on exercises that are the most beneficial to him or her. For some types of cancer, certain exercises may exacerbate symptoms or increase pain. By working around these areas, a certified trainer can help an individual design an exercise plan best suited to his or her condition.

For many patients, a mesothelioma prognosis can be a life-changing experience, but with the right care and emotional support, it’s possible to recover. Many cancer patients feel a sense of despair and uncertainty with a cancer prognosis, but the right diet, exercise, and cancer therapy can allow an individual to maintain a high quality of life while undergoing treatment. Odds of successful recovery can be improved for many patients with the right exercise plan, so following a comprehensive recovery strategy can have one back to their normal life very soon.

HOW TO DO A LAT PULLDOWN PROPERLY

A common mistake I see in the gym involves the Lat Pulldown. Many people perform the exercise more like an “arm” pulldown, using their arms and shoulders. The purpose of the Lat Pulldown is to work the Latissimus Dorsi – a major back muscle. Sit directly under the bar using a wide grip and arms extended. Begin by pulling your elbows down and slightly back. Avoid leaning back or moving your torso for momentum. Bring the bar straight down until the bar touches your collar bone. You should need to rotate your chin back as the bar passes your face. Think of squeezing your shoulder blades together during the pulldown phase. Once the bar reaches your collar bone, work your muscles against gravity during the ascent by raising the bar slowly to the starting position. If you feel the muscles underneath your armpits and the lower area of the shoulder blades, then you are doing a Lat Pulldown correctly.

By:  Sharon Powell

Copyright ©2011

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