6/25/2014

Coming Soon To Bay Ridge Brooklyn

Contact me or stay tuned for details, I will be available for private clients and at NYSC Bay Ridge on 3rd Ave and 71st Street.

3/25/2014

Personal Training Price/Value Face Off

When it comes to personal training, pricing is all over the map.  You can easily find people to train you for anywhere from $40 to $250 per hour, and if you look hard you might even pay less (or more).  But what are you really getting for your money?   If someone is a good trainer, why do they have to work for so much less?  And how much better or smarter is the trainer who charges $250 per hour?

Among the larger fitness chains, training prices vary considerably. A trainer like myself - with 10 years of experience and a masters degree in exercise science - would be at the top of the scale.  Here's the surprise about this:  At NYSC, the rate for training with me as a member is $99 per hour, and it is $121 per hour as a non-member.  At any of the top 3 competing gyms, you could pay $140-150 per hour for a trainer at my "level."  So even as a non-member it is less expensive to train with a top trainer at NYSC.

So what about qualifications?  Here is another surprise.  Only one of the gyms requires all trainers to have at least 3 nationally accredited and recognized certifications or college degrees (no dubious "in house" certifications).  Again, NYSC.

So if you're thinking about training, why not stop by and check out the program here or contact me for more information.

3/20/2014

Do You Need To Change Your Workout?

Whether your goal is to improve performance, slim down, cut-up, bulk-up, reduce risk of injury or work around a problem area, a carefully considered change up in your workout might be just what the doctor ordered.  In this issue, the signs that your fitness program needs a change and the changes that can take you to the next level.  

If any of these statements are true, a change in program is overdue.

You've been doing the same exercises for more than 6-8 weeks, the only change has been to increase weight.   Your body adapts to the exercises, you will experience a diminished return on investment in terms of muscle development, and changing body composition (gaining or losing weight). Planned changes, or periodization, can help you break through the plateau.   What's more, continually performing the same exact movements makes you more susceptible to repetitive motion injuries.  Read more here Machines vs. Free Weights

You're taking up or increasing participation in a sport or activity (running, cycling, hiking, basketball, soccer, and so on).  Your fitness program can complement and enhance your activities and sports participation, or it can conflict with them.  You may have noticed a particular problem since increasing your new activity, small adaptations to your workout can make a big difference.

Your goal or timeline has changed, you may want to get into shape for a vacation or wedding or the beach.  Simply doing more of the same thing may not be the optimal solution;  in fact, you're more likely to see diminished return and experience some sort of injury that prevents you from reaching your goal.

You've got a new health issue, to name a few common ones: back, neck or shoulder pain; blood pressure; broken bones; cancer; depression; diabetes; GERD; hernia; plantar fascitis; pregnancy; surgery; tendinitis.   Programs can be modified to achieve results and help deal with most issues. In some cases, exercise can be part of "the cure" or recovery.

You're bored or having trouble sticking with an exercise program.  A new routine can be just the thing to motivate you. Of course, it should also be relevant to your fitness goals and level.

Ten Changes to Make Today

1.  Get off the Machines They're a great place to start and can be an important part of the program... but if you've gotten stuck in a machines-only exercise rut you're doing more to work the machines than to work your muscle in a meaningful way.  Plus, they may put you at risk of repetitive motion issues.   Read more here Machines vs. Free Weights

2.  Decrease Stability/Decrease Weight/Increase Repetitions Strengthen your core and burn more calories as you workout. Performing exercises standing, on an exercise ball, on balance boards or with suspension training like TRX are a good way to go.  A stronger core can also improve your performance in lifting and many sports and give you a tighter and fitter appearance.

3.  Increase Stability/Increase Weight/Decrease Repetitions
Go heavy at almost any age to increase muscle - since muscle burns more calories than fat, you'll begin losing weight while you rest!  Carefully select exercises and pay attention to proper form.

4.  Change the Tempo  Increasing time spent on the eccentric (negative), adding an isometric contraction to exercises, or simply slowing the overall tempo - and increasing the time that the muscle is kept under tension rather than the weight - can help produce gains in strength, endurance and muscle size and break through plateaus.  Longer negatives increase strength and endurance, isometrics help cut and build muscle size.

5.  Plyometyrics   Increase explosive power, reduce risk of injury and have some fun with Plyometrics.  Participants in a well-designed program of stretching, plyometrics and weight training reduced landing forces from a jump by 20 percent, and increased their hamstrings strength by 44 percent.  Plyometrics can also be applied to upper body exercises and sport specific training.

Click here to learn about how many sets and reps you should be doing and see program examples at programs.caryraffle.com.

6.  Assess, Correct, Emphasize and Eliminate  Bad posture and movements patterns can reduce performance and increase risk of injury.  A movement and postural assessment like the one on my website can identify which muscles are tight and need stretching and which are extended and need strengthening, and help determine which exercises and stretches to add or remove from your program.  You can learn how to assess yourself at assessment.caryraffle.com.

7.  Change the Mix or Timing of Strength and Aerobic Training  As a rule, if you want to get improve your running speed do cardio before strength, if you want to increase strength or build muscle, do cardio after.  The timing change that has personally helped me the most is to alternate days so that I can go all-in every day.

8.  Work One Side of Your Body at a Time  One side may seem weaker or smaller than the other, but that's only the beginning. Unilateral exercises can help improve core strength, and improve your overall strength by improving "neuromuscular efficiency" - the way your brain "recruits" muscle fibers.  This is time consuming, so you may not do it every time or for every muscle.  Read my article The Brain Train.

9. Superset and Circuit   Combine two or more different exercises for the same muscle group, with no rest in between, such as a chest press followed by pushup, and you can work the muscles longer and harder before tiring or risking injury.  Alternate between front and back of body or upper and lower body so that you don't have to rest in between, you will buirn more calories and increase the number of exercises per session.

10.  Interval Training  Alternating between higher and lower intensity in your cardio workout could be right for you if you have a good cardio base and want to improve performance or increase weight loss.  You'll also burn more calories for a few hours after exercising with interval training.  Read my quotes in this article The Best Interval Training Technique for You, on fitbie.com, from he publishers of Men's health

Still Stuck?  Get a Partner.  Join a Class,  Hire a Trainer  If two weeks or more pass by and you've skipped your exercise appointments, your plan isn't working.  Do you need an appointment with a friend or trainer so you don't cancel? Maybe a class? Or a written program to follow and log? Can you keep the commitment to exercise on your own? Do you get bored easily? Will you push yourself hard enough?   Do you need my help?

1/16/2014

What NOT To Do: The Six DO NOTS of Weight Loss

Happy New Year to all, it is good to be back.

We've all got the same thing on our minds after the holidays: getting back into shape and getting the most out of our fitness programs. In this issue, six simple tips about the things that don't work and alternative that do to help you get the most out of your efforts.  

1.  Don't Starve - Watching your calories is good, starving yourself and skipping meals actually works against you. When you skip meals or reduce your calorie intake too low, your body thinks you're starving and goes into "survival mode." It actually lowers your metabolism so that you burn less calories. Instead, plan on increasing exercise and reducing caloric intake so that you have a daily "calorie deficit" of 500-1000 calories. At this rate, you should lose 1-2 pounds of fat per week. The American Dietetic Association and American College of Sports Medicine consider this level optimal for long term weight loss.

2.  Don't Do Just Cardio - Aerobic exercise is great for burning calories while you're doing them and for a short time later. Strength training has the added advantage of building lean muscle - which means your metabolism increases and you burn more calories ALL DAY LONG! Ideally, do a combination of both for best results.

3.  Skip the Small Muscle Exercises - The larger the muscle, the more calories it will burn when you exercise. Legs, Back and Chest exercises give you the most bang for the buck, while small muscles like shoulders, arms and calves burn very few calories. Multi-joint exercises like those shown on the chart below give you the biggest bang for the buck, and can hit smaller muscles in the process. 

Skip These Small Muscle Exercises
Emphasize Big Muscles/Multi-Joint Exercises
 Biceps, Triceps, Shoulder Press, Lateral Raises, Front Raises,   Calf Raises
 Squats, Lunges, Pushups, Pullups, Chest Press, Rows,  Lat Pulldowns

 4
.  Cut the Down Time- Organize your strength workout into circuits so that you get more training volume and keep your heart rate up by reducing idle time between sets. Examples of circuits include lunge/pushup/pullup with no rest in between and chest press/row/squat. I've got some circuit training programs on my website at programs.caryraffle.com.  

5.  Don't Go in Without a Plan - It is proven that having a plan and schedule lead to better results. Where, when, how often will you exercise and what will you do in every exercise session? Base your plan on goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

6.  Don't Get Hurt - Overtraining, inappropriate exercise selection, and poor setup technique can lead to an injury that derails your program - or worse. Give each muscle group a day off between strength training sessions. Identify problem exercises for you with the mini-self assessment on my website assessment.caryraffle.com. Be careful with technique in getting in setting up weights or getting in and out of machines. It is easy to get hurt grabbing for a weight in the wrong way or squirming in and out of a machine without adjusting it properly.  If you've had a long break or are new to exercise, check with your doctor first.

If you need help getting a safe, appropriate, efficient and effective program off the ground, I can usually get someone on routine in as few as five sessions.  

2/03/2013

Get the Results YOU Want

Whether you're new to the gym, returning after a break, or resolved to bust through a plateau and take your fitness to a new level in 2013, this newsletter has you covered.  In this issue,  the tools you need including  help Setting Goals, Assessing Your Current Fitness, Scheduling and Commitment, Program Design and Measurement, and sample programs that you can adopt or adapt. 
Effective Fitness Goals are measurable, achievable, yet challenging.  Break big goals up into smaller goals so that you can track progress and be motivated by little successes along the way.  Choose the right measurements of success:  Some goals like strength and athletic performance and weight loss are easily measured in pounds, or with a ruler or stopwatch. For toning, body measurements, clothes size and subjective assessments of how you look and feel and move are often a better indication of change in body composition.  Ensure success by incorporating the following into your plan: ·         
·     Burn 3500 calories (or eat 3500 fewer) to lose a pound of fat.
·      Exercise at least 150 minutes per week to maintain health and body composition, and 300 minutes weekly significantly improve body composition according to the American College of Sports Medicine.
·       To ensure safe, effective long term weight loss, make lifestyle changes that lead you to drop 1-2 pounds per week, according to ACSM and the American Dieticians Association. 
·        It takes about 16 exercise sessions over several weeks to increase the size of muscle according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association. 
·       You cannot spot reduce, according to the American Council on Exercise. Combine aerobic and strength training to burn calories so that the body draws on stored fat from all areas. 
Once you've established your goals, assess your posture, movement and any problem areas using this mini-self-assessment.  Incorporate exercises that improve your posture and movement. Common problems like rounded and elevated shoulders, knock knees, out-turned feet and hips that are tilted can lead to injury, prevent you from working muscles at the optimum angle, and interfere with balance and force production. You'll perform better when working out or in sports and reduce risk of finding yourself on the disabled list.
Custom-tailor your program to focus on your goals, condition and abilities.   You probably can't wear a new suit off the rack without having it tailored to you, the same idea applies to "one-size-fits-all" exercises program, or borrowing exercises that suit another person or purpose.  If your goal is weight loss, focus on aerobic exercise, strength training large muscles (legs back chest), circuit-style training with limited rest, and multi-joint exercises to maximize calories burned.   For other goals, select the number of sets, repetitions and rest interval using the chart below.

Goal
Sets
Repetitions
Weight/ % 1 Rep Max
Rest
Lean/Tone (Endurance)
1 - 3
 12 - 20
Moderate / 60-70%
0 - :90
Increase Size (Hypertrophy)
3 - 5
 8 - 12
Moderate-High / 70-85%
0 - :60
Maximum Strength
3 - 6
 1 - 12
High / 70-100%
:45 - 5:00
Power (and Plyometrics)
3 - 6
 1 - 10
Low / 30-45% or 10& body weight
3:00 - 5:00
     
Consistency/showing up takes commitment.  Schedule your workout appointments like any other important meeting. Put it right into your calendar!  Attend scheduled classes, meet a reliable friend, have an appointment with a trainer, or create your own "incentive reward" program - reward yourself for achieving a fitness goal or just for showing up. My clients often tell me that without our scheduled appointment they would find a reason to skip the gym.  I even found myself skipping my aerobic workouts or cutting them short - so I changed my schedule to alternate days of total body strength training and aerobic exercise because it made my aerobics more consistent. 
500 Crunches a Day Won't Get You a Six Pack
Abdominal exercises may be the most over-hyped, overdone and possibly least effective exercises.  Your abdominal muscles are covered with fat.  To see the muscles, lose the fat.  Abdominal exercises do not burn a significant amount of fat.  You cannot spot reduce.  So what's the secret?  Diet, aerobic exercises, and working the big muscle groups.    
Exercise progression means continually overloading the body's system by changing the exercise stimulus. Increasing weight and/or repetitions is one way to progress, but shouldn't be the only way. Your body adapts to exercises within 4-6 weeks, you'll experience diminished return from your program as you continue doing similar exercises and a similar range of sets, repetitions, time under tension and stability.  Or in the case of aerobics, if you continue training in a steady state. You also expose yourself to the same kind of repetitive stress injuries as factory workers when you continually do the same exact movements and work at the same intensity.  Periodization is changing your exercise program at regular planned intervals.
 For best results, most people should Periodize their training and cycle between 2-3 different phases of training on a 4-6 week basis. If you've been focused on stable training such as machines, lying on benches and/or sitting through your workout, try standing.  It increases core activation and targets a greater cross section of muscle fibers. Once you've mastered standing, progress to exercises on a single leg, or with balance boards and balls. Then come back to a more intensive stable strength training routine. Or try plyometrics to increase power.   I've got some examples of progressions here.  Another option is to include different types of training within each week.  Instead of splitting between muscle groups, try alternating workouts between strength, stability and power.
Visit programs.caryraffle.com for a progression of programs for any fitness level.
Running the Marathon in 2013 is a realistic goal if you've been running at least 2-3 hours a week for a about a year.  Running your best time may also be possible for those who've run before, or maybe you want to get back into the marathon because an injury sidelined you?   Or run shorter distance races.  Interval training can help improve your aerobic capacity and speed, read more in this article, The Best Interval Training Technique for You.

The biggest mistake people make is to assume that because they're running they don't need to do leg exercises.   In fact, a custom-tailored corrective strength and flexibility program can help prevent injury and improve athletic performance.  The steps are almost identical to those outlined above for strength training.  Assess your posture and movement, and follow the programs outlined on my website. 

Has your running program been sidelined by recurring injury or pain?  It may be possible to overcome these problems with the right program.   I recently began training a new client who stopped running years ago because it hurt his knees.  After 2 weeks on a corrective program, he was able to start running without pain.

My niece is one of the top divers on her Division 1 college team, but  hamstring pain and tightness has affected her ability to jump off the diving board.  She's about to begin a program to overcome this problem.  Basketball players, soccer players and other recreational and competitive athletes can often benefit from corrective programs. 

Choosing the right measurement tool can be an important part of your success.  Many people want a hard objective measurement but softer measurements such as how you feel and how your clothes fit are also important. 

People often rely too much on a specific measurement, or choose one that lacks positive reinforcement or accuracy.  Body fat measurements, for example, are imprecise tools, and for someone interested in losing a large number of pounds, potentially discouraging.  Changes in waist or clothing size might be a more appropriate and motivating measurement. 

12/13/2012

NEW! UXF TRAINING ZONE AT NYSC WALL STREET


There’s something new and exciting happening at NYSC Wall Street.  You will see it when you walk in beginning Monday morning, but as a subscriber to my newsletter you get to a sneak preview.

 It is big and green and it is going to be fun!  The UXF Zone is an 800 square foot indoor turf area dedicated to functional training.  The zone includes Suspension Training, Sandbags, Kettlebells, a built-in Agility Ladder, Sled, Battle Ropes and a large Tire is coming soon.  The UXF Zone will be open to all members and fitness levels for self-guided workouts, small groups training and personal training. 


 
I expect to be spending time in the UXF Zone with most of my clients. If you’re interested in joining in training, have questions or if you want to bring in a friend or small group to try it, please feel free to let me know.

Some equipment was relocated and a few underutilized machines were removed. I had a chance to meet and input with NYSC’s VP of Equipment today, we worked hard to squeeze TRX Zone into our existing space with minimal sacrifice of existing equipment. If you can’t find something that you feel you absolutely need, let me know and I can suggest some alternatives.
Overall, this could be just the thing we all need to energize our fitness programs and get off to a great start in 2013.
 
(NOTE:  Preview photos from another NYSC Location)

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11/25/2012

Your Holiday Survival Workouts

Welcome to the most gluttonous of seasons.  Just when you need it most, here are a couple of quick workout programs  to help you get the most out of your time in the gym.  

Whether you're a veteran of the gym or a beginner, when it comes to working out during the holiday season, less is more. It's all about spending less time and burning more calories in the time that you have . . . so that you can have fun and enjoy the season. As always, start with some stretching and 5 minute of cardio, and use any additional time at the end of your workout for a cardio cooldown and stretch.

Here are two workouts that burn more calories by emphasizing the big muscles (legs, back and chest), and working in a continuous circuit to keep your heart rate up:

If you're currently working on NYSC's XpressLine, or looking for a quick and effective workout that's appropriate for any fitness level, try this XpressLine Holiday Edition workout. It's a superset circuit that combines most of the XpressLine machines with other exercises. This workout can be done with no rest in between if you're sufficiently fit. Supersets are two exercises done in succession.

The Holiday Survival Workout is a more advanced circuit that includes total body exercises and several supersets. Total body exercises simultaneously use upper and lower body muscles to maximize your calorie burn. Pre planned exercise circuits are a good way to keep your heart rate up during your workout, another great way to get more results in less time.

Try both, and feel free to let me know if you have any questions.

Top 10 Holiday Diet Tips of All Time

Experts offer their top tips on handling holiday diet temptations.

exerpted from a WebMD weight loss clinic feature by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

To help you survive the seasonal parties without packing on the pounds, WebMD consulted diet gurus across the country for their best holiday diet tips. Here are their top 10 recommendations:

1. Trim back the trimmings.To shave calories, go easy when adding nuts, cheese, cream sauces, gravy, butter, and whipped cream.

2. Wear snug clothes and keep one hand busy. Hold a drink in your dominant hand so it won't be so easy to grab food.

3. Chew gum. When you don't want to eat, pop a piece of sugarless gum into your mouth. This works well when you're cooking or when you're trying not to dive into the buffet.

4. Be a food snob. If you don't love it, don't eat it, And don't think it's your responsibility to sample everything on the buffet.

5. No skipping meals. "People who skip meals to save up calories tend to overeat everything in sight once they get there," says Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD, author of Diet Simple.

6. Check it out. When you arrive at the party, grab a sparkling water with a twist, and wait at least 30 minutes before eating.

7. Add fun and games. Take the focus off food and getting family and friends more active during holiday parties.

8. Alternate alcohol with nonalcoholic beverages. Cuts calories in half.

9. Skip the appetizers. If you need a little nibble before the meal, go for the veggies, fruit, salsa, or a small handful of nuts.

10. Limit the variety.  "Variety stimulates appetite...limit your choices to just a few items and stick with these, it will be easier to control than eating a little bit of 20 different dishes" according to David Katz, MD, MPH, author of The Flavor Point Diet.


Click here to read the full story at WebMD.com

10/10/2012

Reduce Risk of Injury. Speed Recovery. Prevent Reinjury.

Help prevent the kinds of injuries that cost lost time and increase medical claims with exercise programs and Workplace Wellness Solutions from Prehab Academy. Prehab Academy offers you variety of turnkey exercise and educational programs and can work with you to develop, promote and evaluate cost-effective custom workplace wellness solutions.

8/09/2012

Eccentric Exercise. Bigger. Stronger. More Powerfuller. Resistant to Injury.


No, it's not a blog posting about weird exercises. It's about the ECCENTRIC or negative phase of resistance exercises.  This often under appreciated and ignored part of an exercise is important for:

1. Increasing strength 
2. Increasing muscle size
3. Giving you delayed onset muscle soreness
4. Producing maximal power, ie, in plyometric movements
5. Rehabilitating injuries like tendonitis and protecting muscles, connective tissues and joints from future injuries

Read on for some simple ideas and changes you can make to help improve your exercise program  ... whether you want to get bigger, stronger, more powerful, reduce the risk of injury , or speed recovery.

Often left unloved

Consider the Chest Press. Most people think this exercise is all about the pushing (or CONCENTRIC contraction). Have you ever just let the weights fall after the last push or pull?  If so, you've eliminated the ECCENTRIC part of the exercise. In a set of 12 repetitions, you're only doing 11 1/2. Skipping the ECCENTRIC movement also reduces the time that the muscles spend working.

In plyometric training, the often overlooked ECCENTRIC movement is important as a loading phase:  like a rubber band, the muscle stores elastic energy that is released in the CONCENTRIC movement.  For best results, perform the ECCENTRIC movement first with an immediate transition into the CONCENTRIC movement.  ECCENTRIC and CONCENTRIC movements for some common exercises are shown below. 

EXERCISECONCENTRIC
MOVEMENT
ECCENTRIC
MOVEMENT
Chest PressAway from body (push)Towards body
Row, Lat PulldownTowards body (pull)Away from body
Biceps CurlFlexing elbowExtending elbow
Triceps ExtensionExtending elbowFlexing elbow
Shoulder PressAway from body (push)Towards body
Lat RaiseRaiseLower
Lunge, SquatPushing body upLowering body
     
Wisely and slow

Your muscles work hard to resist against the weight - or gravity - in the ECCENTRIC phase. They slow the decent of the weight in a chest press or biceps curl, or of the body in a squat, or the return of the weight stack in a cable exercise.
  
Muscles forcibly lengthen during an ECCENTRIC contraction, and this is believed to cause more damage to muscle fibers and sensory organs than other contractions.  In fact, delayed onset muscle soreness is mainly attributed to the ECCENTRIC phase.   Why is it good to damage your muscle fibers?  Your body responds to this damage by repairing the damage and creating new fibers.  Your muscle's sensory organs adapt and respond better to future bouts of similar exercises.  So we get bigger and stronger.  Just don't forget to rest, because this happens on the days off.  The adaptation is pretty quick, do the same exercise after 48-72 hours, and you're not likely to have the same amount of soreness.   
Muscles actually absorb energy during the ECCENTRIC phase; a variety of sources estimate that they are 40% stronger than in the CONCENTRIC phase.  To get the benefits, perform the ECCENTRIC phase completely and slowly.  Most training protocols specify 2 or 3 or 4 seconds for the ECCENTRIC contraction, however, some may call for a last repetition with a 10 second ECCENTRIC contraction.  Be careful trying this, use less weight, and work with a spotter - your muscles will tire more quickly and can fail unexpectedly.

Body builders often use this to continue working longer and/or harder in the ECCENTRIC phase.  For example, you might have a spotter lift the weights to perform the CONCENTRIC contraction in chest press or biceps curl, and complete the ECCENTRIC contraction on your own.
Breathe life into a stone, quicken a rock, and make you dance
 
More and more research is showing that emphasizing ECCENTRIC exercises and movements can be helpful in rehabilitation and prevention of tendon and muscle injuries, especially chronic tendinosis that may not respond to other therapies.  One advantage is that it can both lengthen and strengthen a muscle.  If you're experiencing chronic tendon or muscle problems, talk to your doctor or physical therapist about an incorporating ECCENTRIC exercises into your rehab program, and I can help you transition into the gym.

Use can almost change the stamp of nature

You may be able to prevent injuries in the first place and avoid re-injury by using ECCENTRIC exercises to "prehab" vulnerable spots.  For example, I have several clients who are runners and athletes incorporating ECCENTRIC calf exercises into their programs to protect the achilles tendon and plantar fascia.  Early intervention may help keep you from developing chronic injuries and landing in rehab in the first place.  This applies across the board, from competitive athletes to those just beginning a fitness program.  

7/26/2012

Myths About Perspiration, Fluid Replacement Guidelines, Your Personal Hydration Program

We're on track for the hottest summer on record, and with everybody sweating more, many of you have asked about hydration and fluid replacement strategies.

This posting  reviews common myths about perspiration and provides hydration and fluid replacement guidelines to enhance performance and avoid heat related illnesses.  Information comes from authoritative sources including position stands of The American College of Sports Medicine and peer reviewed publications of the National Strength and Conditioning Association.



MYTHS ABOUT PERSPIRATION

#1 - The More I Sweat the More Calories I Burn.  FALSE.  Perspiration is part of our body's cooling system, it does not necessarily require burning calories or correlate with caloric expenditures.  Example:  stand outside on a very humid 90 degree day, and you will sweat profusely.  Run indoors in a very dry 65 degree environment, and you may hardly break a sweat.

#2 - I Can Sweat The Weight Off.  FALSE.  -Weight loss due to sweating indicates dehydration.  This weight is water that needs to be replaced, it is not the stored body fat that you really want to lose.  In sports like boxing, MMA and wrestling, participants may temporarily sweat off a few pounds to make weight - but will immediately begin rehydration before the exercise event.

YOUR BODY'S HEATING AND COOLING SYSTEM 
Whether from exercise, movement or shivering, muscle activity generates heat, which your blood circulates. Your body cools itself by increasing blood flow close to the skin and through evaporation of sweat. Research has shown sweat rates range from .5 to 2 liters per hour with marked differences between individuals.  The amount of sweat varies based on individual characteristics such as body weight, genetics, heat acclimatization, and conditioning, and environmental conditions such as heat, humidity, clothing and equipment. 

EUHYDRATION, DEHYDRATION, HYPERHYDRATION  
Euhydration means we're at our normal hydration level and weight, and this is the most desirable state.  For most people water is about 60% of body weight when we are euhydrated. Dehydration is easily measured by calculating lost body weight before and after exercise.  Ten to 14 days of training in heat will help you acclimatize and reduce risk of dehydration.

  • Lose 2% of body weight, aerobic exercise performance and cognitive abilities are degraded. 
  • Lose 3-5% of body weight, there is risk of heat related illness.  The rate of sweat production declines and can lead to hyperthermia - overheating of the body and brain.  Life-threatening exertional heatstroke occurs when body temperature exceeds 104 and internal organs begin to shut down.
Whether you're working out, running, walking, or even sitting outside in hot humid weather, every pound you lose is a sign that you've lost about a pint of water. Hyperhydration, drinking an excessive amount of water before an athletic event or exercise (more than euhydration), has not been found to improve athletic performance and is not recommended.

GENERAL FLUID AND ELECTROLYTE GUIDELINES
NSCA provides the following general guidelines for fluid and electrolyte replacement:
Before exercise event:  Drink 16 ounces of water two hours before;  drink 8 ounces sports drink 10-20 minutes before.
During exercise event:  Drink a sports drink that contains 30-60 grams of electrolytes and 120-240 grams of carbohydrates per hour to prevent fuel depletion.  Drink 8 ounces of fluids every 15-20 minutes.
After exercise event:  Drink 2-3 cups of fluid for every pound of body weight lost.
Competitive athletes, marathoners and triathletes will benefit from a more personalized hydration program tailored.

YOUR PERSONAL HYDRATION PROGRAM
 Developing your own individualized program is actually easy. ACSM'smost recent position stand on fluid replacement  recommends individualized programs because our sweat rates vary.

Weigh yourself before and after exercise to determine your rate of fluid loss due to sweating, and rehydrate accordingly.  If you lose a pound in a half hour, replace it with 16 ounces of fluid per half hour of exercise.  This may vary depending on weather, intensity and clothing, but over time you should be able to make adjustments.

Begin to prehydrate a few hours before your exercise event, so that your stomach contents are emptied, fluids are absorbed by your body, and urine flow returns to normal.  Rehydrate during the exercise event to replenish the fluids being lost. 

ELECTROLYTES, SODIUM AND HYPONATREMIA
Electrolyte and sodium depletion and replacement is more difficult to individually quantify and program because it requires blood testing.

  • Electrolyte and sodium depletion can cause muscle cramping.  
  • Profuse sweating over time can literally flush sodium out of your body;  if not replaced, a dangerous condition called hyponeutremia resuts.    
Most people don't need to be overly concerned with hyponatremia, but participants in extended exercises events, including marathons, triathalons and sports in hot humid weather should consider electrolyte replacement or salt tablets. The concern here is the potential for athletes to overhydrate with water.

Interestingly, ACSM has found that sodium replacement does not reduce cramping in triathletes, implying that muscle fatigue and energy replacement may be more important factors. 

7/12/2012

Updated Exercise Programs and Progressions Page

Find links to15 different exercise and flexibility programs, including illustrated programs and a mini self assessment, on my Training Programs & Progressions page.  Feel free to contact me to schedule sessions for a more detailed and customized assessment and to personalize your program to your needs, goals and fitness level.

6/21/2012

Summer Dehydration Alert

Weight loss from exercise during the summer can be a sign of dehydration. It may seem like a good thing to lose weight after a workout, but it is actually one of the early warning signs of dehydration.  Every pound you lose working out is a sign that you've lost about a pint of water. Replace lost fluids to return to your pre workout weight, to avoid fatigue, cramping and potentially health threatening side effects.

2/10/2012

Can Kettlebells Relieve Back Pain?

Beware the sound byte, like this recent New York Times headline Turning to Kettlebells to Ease Back Pain.

The actual study compares Danish workers who did 2-3 [PROFESSIONALLY SUPERVISED, PROGRESSIVE INTERVAL TRAINING] sessions with kettlebells a week to those who were "encouraged to exercise" and concludes that kettlebells reduced neck, shoulder and low back pain.

The same effect from strength training is well known, and the Times article links to a large scale study that shows resistance training helps reduce musculoskeletal pain.

Mentioned in the article, but missing from the headline: "kettlebells can be difficult to control, it's important to learn proper form from a certified instructor."  Kettlebells may be an effective part of a fitness program for some people, but done incorrectly there is a high risk of injury, especially to lower back and other gym members. That's why many gyms don't allow members to use kettlebells without supervision.

Like any fitness program, the first step with kettlebells should be an assessment.  To avoid risk of injury - especially to the lower back - you need to have sufficient flexibility through the hips and back. in many cases, flexibility training or preconditioning without kettlebells may be advisable.

Similar or better results may be obtained without use of kettlebells, using traditional strength training programs that entail less risk and have more scientific research behind them.

2/08/2012

Beware the Hype

We're all trying to sell something and all having something sold to us. As a fitness consumer - OR trainer - the easiest thing can be to hitch onto the latest fad .  One year it was boot camps, now it is kettlebells, suspension training and crossfit.  There's a place for these approaches, the question is what do you need and why are they right (or wrong) for you?

Speaking of hype, another trend on the horizon is development of branded personal training programs. Right now, I can get certified as a trainer by PX90 or become a Biggest Loser Pro and have access to a huge marketing platform.To a large extent, these types of progams replace personalization with standardization.

It is smart marketing for these brands to generate more sales by selling trainer certifications. But buyer beware: Do these certifications guarantee quality and results to the consumer and trainer, or are they just a money making substitute for real knowledge and experience? Will personal training become yet another industry to fall casualty to national branding?

2/07/2012

Dirty Secrets of Personalized Training

When you walk into a gym like NYSC's Wall Street location, you've got over 5,000 pieces of exercise equipment (really!) and more than 50 classes a week. How do you know which are right for you? And which may be wrong.
Whether you train on your own, with a friend or group or with a professional trainer, personalized training is about getting the right program for you. This article will share the "secret process" a personal trainer uses to personalize your training.  Try it on your own, or let me know if you need some help.

IT IS NOT WHAT YOU SEE ON TELEVISION
What's with the frightening picture of personal training presented on television?  Trainers behave like screaming drill sergeants who push and whip their clients through extreme workout programs that produce amazing results. It's like some secret dark art practiced by a cult of Adonises.

It usually doesn't work that way. Most of us in the real world of personal training follow a different approach. We design programs with careful consideration to avoiding injury, ensuring consistency and helping our clients meet their goals. And many of the best trainers aren't nearly pretty enough for TV.

ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL
Some people are on a mission to do every single exercise in the gym. Others do a very small list of the same exercises over and over again, sometimes for years and years. Then, there are those who follow a "one-size-fits-all program," a program that they've bought or pulled from the latest issue of a magazine or gotten from a friend.

When someone says to me "I've just joined and need someone to show me how to work the machines," my response is always the same: "Let's talk about the most important  machine in the gym. Your body. Let's find the right exercises for YOU."

"80% OF LIFE IS JUST SHOWING UP"
You can't succeed until you figure out what it takes to get yourself to exercise on a regular basis. Will you make an appointment with yourself and keep it? Do you need an appointment with a friend so you don't cancel? Maybe a class? Or a written program to follow and log? Can you keep the commitment to exercise on your own? Do you get bored easily? Will you push yourself hard enough? If two weeks or more pass by and you've skipped your exercise appointment, your plan isn't working.

One surprising thing I've learned since becoming a trainer: most clients train because they just will not show up on their own without the threat of being charged for cancellation. Recently a few clients even told me how good they felt after buying a personal training package: "Now I know I will workout 2-3x a week for the next few months."

The same is true of those advertised programs. The logs and variation keep you coming back and keep it interesting. No wonder people get results.

THEN WHY DO I NEED A PERSONALIZED PROGRAM?
In some cases the answer is obvious. Maybe you have a medical condition, are coming back to the gym after physical therapy, or participate in a competitive sport and need to improve performance and/or reduce risk of injuries.  For the rest of the world, a truly personalized exercise program can improve your physical condition, strength, posture, movement and athletic abilities. Incorrec exercise selection can exacerbate problems with posture and movement and will not produce the desired results, while sticking with the same program for too long will lead to you to plateau and stop improving. In some cases, this can lead to the same kind of repetitive stress injuries that you might associate with factory workers.

WHO ARE YOU?
Your personalized program starts with an inventory of YOU, including goals, medical background, and issues that affect exercise.

1. What is your age and weight?
2. What are your goals?
3. What is your current program and exercise experience? If you've taken classes or worked with trainers before, what were the results, what did you like and dislike?
4. Do you have any current or past injuries, medical conditions, pain or sensitive areas?
5. What is your lifestyle: what do you do at work and for recreation?
6. How often can you work out and how much time can you spend?
7. Which exercises do you like and which do you dislike?
8. Do you have any problems with posture and movement?



THE MISSING LINK
The single most important part of any personalized fitness program - and the oneso often missing - is a Fitness Assessment. This is the one thing that allows the program to be personalized to YOU.

- your fitness goals
- your answers to the above questions
- your posture and movement
- your current performance level and abilities

Sometimes the assessment is based on testing; often it is based on your history and a simple "visual inspection." Many times, I've already taken note of a client's issues and have them perform tests to demonstrate and explain the issue and program rationale to them.

Among people I meet in NYC, the assessment usually reveals one or more of the following issues: Rounded Shoulders; Externally Rotated Feet; Knock Knees; Arched Lower Back.  If you've got these issues, there are certain exercises that are recommended to correct them, and other exercises that should absolutely be avoided.  Learn more about assessment and try assessing yourself with the mini self assessment guide.

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CAN YOU GIVE A RATIONALE FOR YOUR OVERALL PROGRAM AND EVERY EXERCISE IN IT?
Once you've answered the above questions and completed your assessment, you should be able to explain why your personalized program and each exercise is right or wrong for you - right down to the number of sets, repetitions and tempo. This knowledge will transform your program and exercise selection into a carefully considered and highly personalized process.

Here are some brief examples of rationales that I might use:

The client is deconditioned and his goal is weight loss, so the program will focus on a) maximizing calories burned through cardiovascular training and working the large muscle groups (legs, back, and chest). It will also include stretches and exercises to minimize the risk that an injury will interrupt the program.

The client is a competitive runner who has been experiencing plantar fasciitis and pain in the iliotibial bands. The program will target the lower extremity postural distortion syndrome and include stretches for the calves and hip muscles (including the IT band and tensor fascia latae) along with strengthening of the gluteus medius, gluteus maximus and anterior tibialis.

2 sets of 15 single leg biceps curl with dumbbells was selected because the goals include core strengthening and building lean muscle, and the client has a shoulder imbalance that makes barbell curls or preacher curls somewhat risky and less effective.

Incline chest press and overhead shoulder exercises are not included in this program due to the client's rounded shoulders and/or history of rotator cuff injury, common upper extremity postural distortions.
2 sets of 15 repetitions with :03 isometric contraction of rear flies and shoulder external rotation will strengthen the muscles that pull the shoulder back along with shoulder internal rotation with a :04 negative to help improve range of motion.

Side-Lying leg lifts (hip abduction) is included in this program because the clients knees tend  to move inward, i.e., they excessively adduct; the hip Adductor machine is avoided because the clients adductors are extremely tight and short; the hip abduction machine is avoided because it also works the piriformis (muscles that externally rotate the hip).

YOU CAN'T PROGRESS WITHOUT PROGRESSION
As you develop your own personalized training program, think about how you will progress the exercises over the next month, and over the longer term. Our bodies adapt to a program after about 4-6 weeks at which time the program produces diminishing results. Most people think of progression as simply increasing the weight or changing the specific machines or exercises, and overlook the opportunity of varying the training modality.

If you've been focused on stable training such as machines, lying on benches and/or sitting through your workout, try standing to increase core activation and target a greater cross section of muscle fibers. Once you've mastered that, progress to exercises on a single leg, with balance boards and balls. Then come back to a more intensive stable strength training routine. Or try plyometrics to increase power.

I've got some examples of progressions here.

I know that not everyone shares my passion for exercise, but try to make the workouts as interesting as possible.  Develop a few good personalized programs and progressions that you can change at 4-6 weeks intervals or use "undulating periodization," where you vary the workout more frequently. This is the "muscle memory" secret of that popular "one-size-fits-all program" that you see advertised on television. Only better, because the program and progression is personalized for YOU.

So there you have it, the dirty secrets of personalized training. I guess they aren't so dirty after all though.

1/24/2012

Will Yoga Wreck YOU?

This special report was prompted by your questions since January 5, when The New York Times Magazine featured this article: "How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body."


Before answering the question, here are a couple of analogies, corny or useful? You decide.

Exercise is a like a power tool. Learn how to use it and you can make something beautiful, use it improperly and you can cause damage.

Learning to use the gym is like learning a new language. It goes better and faster with repetition and as much professional help as you can get to master the basics.

Yoga isn't much different from any sort of group exercise class or exercise program, which I wrote about last February. If you carefully select the right exercises for you, do them properly, get rest in between workouts and don't overdo it, you've probably got very little to worry about and will see great results. Make wrong choices and you could be headed for trouble.

The idea that anyone can walk into a class and safely pursue an exercise program is questionable. Surely some people can, and class instructors are great with groups and love teaching classes.

When taking classes, it's wise to ask the instructor for assistance and recommendations when you begin, as you want to progress, if you have any injuries, or if you have difficulty with certain parts of the class. Sometimes this works, but those great instructors who teach classes or specialize in one training modality might not have the time, experience or education to help you with individualized assessment, program design and progression. In those cases, you may need to look elsewhere for help.

I've enjoyed taking classes and am a certified group exercise instructor. I rarely teach classes because I prefer to focus on careful, individualized exercise prescription, injury prevention, and proper form. It is not possible to do this for a group, everyone has different special needs or issues. This type of personalized approach can be a smart compliment to group classes or specialty training.

The group format encourages people to overdo it as they try to keep up with the class and impress the instructor. "There's enormous peer pressure in exercise classes. One-on-one training can be helpful in overcoming this," according to my client Jada Turco, MD, a psychiatrist and holistic practitioner with The Center for Integrative Psychiatry. "It gave me the knowledge and confidence to go into classes and decide which exercises weren't right for me and which to modify."

Bottom line: Make smart choices, know yourself and your limits, get professional input. Consider more individualized training to get the best results and reduce risk of injury

You Made the Resolution to Exercise, Now What?

Every year I'm encouraged to see hundreds of people who succeed in making fitness a part of their lives, and end up better for it. They enjoy a healthier lifestyle, feel better and look better, and hopefully live longer too.

 
The two biggest barriers I see people encountering are unrealistic expectations and maintaining consistency. It is easy to be discouraged when you don't instantly pick up new things, struggle with the effort, don't see results quickly enough, or find it difficult to work exercise into your schedule. But is there any question that if you do stick with it you will be better off?

 
Keep these facts in mind to keep you going:

 
Burn 3500 calories (or eat 3500 fewer) to lose a pound of fat.

Exercise at least 150 minutes per week to maintain health and body composition, preferably 30 minutes per day for at least 5 days according to the American College of Sports Medicine.

It takes about 16 exercise sessions over several weeks to increase the size of muscle according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

You cannot spot reduce <, according to the American Council on Exercise. Focus on aerobic and strength training to burn calories so that the body draws on stored fat.

See your doctor before beginning an exercise program.

 
How To Stick To Your New Fitness Program
6 Tips to Keep You On Track
Originally Published in January 2010

 
#1 make an appointment with yourself and stick to it. Adherence to the program is your biggest challenge, put your appointments in your calendar and don't cancel

 
#2 clearly define your goals, be realistic, and break them up into small, achievable pieces. This gives the opportunity for positive reinforcement along the way

 
#3 meet with a qualified professional to assess your needs and abilities, and develop a program that is appropriate for you. The exercises you did 10 years ago on the basketball team (or before your shoulder injury) are no longer appropriate

 
#4 don't overdo it. Start slowly - half of all new gym members have an injury in the first 6 months, the last thing you need is to get benched for a month or two

 
#5 be prepared to change your program after 4-6 weeks. Your body adapts to your routine during this time and will need an additional challenge for continued results

 
#6 keep it interesting and have fun. Whether it is a workout buddy, a class or a trainer that gets you interested and motivated, this is really important to keeping you coming back.