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.