More Results with Less Time: Your Holiday Survival Exercise Programs

Total Body Exercises are the key to this month's programs. By using muscles in both the upper and lower parts of the body simultaneously, you'll burn more calories in a shorter amount of time.

Work your abs as you do these exercises. Draw your belly button towards your back to stabilize, strengthening as toning your core as you build muscle.

Emphasize the big muscle groups: legs, back and chest. Arm and shoulder exercises are optional and will also incorporate some leg movement such as lunges, squats or stepping up to balance.

Do strength training every other day and cardio every day. Don't skip when time is short, even 15-20 minutes of exercise can make a difference and you'll feel much better for it.

Holiday Survival Workout for the Gym - Click here.

Travel Workout - Click here. It is shown with 2 people using resistance tubes, but you can easily attach the tubes to a door or post. I've included a link to my Amazon.com fitness store, where you can find the resistance tubes you'll need for this program (less than $15) and other goodies.



Are you or someone you know in treatment for an injury? Have you completed treatment and entered the post-rehab phase? Are you headed towards your next injury?

Nagging pains, problems, and injuries involving muscles and joints are an inevitable fact of life. Joint replacement surgeries are increasingly common. The good news is that a carefully designed fitness program can actually reduce the risk of injury, speed recovery, and prevent re-injury. Choose the wrong exercises, however, and you could be setting your self up for future problems.

These postings discuss pre-hab and post-rehab - specialized areas of training that require close work between client, trainer, and often physical therapists and doctors. However, once the issues are identified, your problems can be fairly easy to address.

Feel free to let me know if you have any questions, and to suggest future topics.


COMMON PROBLEMS: What To Do, What to Avoid

The following are some brief summary case histories of common problems that you can address in your fitness program, including key things to add and avoid:

Likely Injury: Rotator Cuff, Impingement, Biceps Tendonitis
Add to program: Chest stretch, reverse fly, scaption, close grip row, external rotation/rotator cuff strengthening
Avoid: Overhead shoulder exercise, incline chest press, front row, behind neck exercises

Likely Injury: ACL/MCL Tear, possibly knee or hip pain, frequent ankle sprains
Add to program: Side Lying Leg Lift, Single Leg Press/Squat, Hip stretch, IT Band Stretch
Avoid: Adductor

Likely Injury: Plantar Fascitis, Achilles Tendinitis, calf cramps, frequent ankle sprains
Add to program: Foam Roll and stretch calves, toe raises, side lying leg lift, single leg press/squat
Avoid: Calf raises

Likely Injury:
Low Back Pain, Disk injuries
Add to program: Planks, lower body and back stretching, unstable exercises
Avoid: Excessive hip flexion and abdominal flexion (sitting, leg raises, crunches)

Likely Injury: Slips and Falls, Hip Fracture
Add to program: Single leg exercises, core strengthening
Avoid: Extended periods of sitting


The Right Exercise Programs Can Prevent Injuries Before They Happen

"Pre-Hab" Train to prevent injuries before they happen. It may not be possible to reduce the risk of accidents, but you can train to reduce injuries from other sources such as falling, poor posture, and muscle imbalances. Start with a self-assessment or assessment by a qualified trainer who can help you develop a corrective fitness program.

The case histories below present a few common problems that can be observed and addressed in a fitness program, and some suggestions for each. You may have to make some changes to adapt your program to these phases, but you can still have a program that is effective and fun.

"Post-Rehab" If you've already had an injury or surgery, you're at a risk of recurrence. Follow a program designed to carefully get your body back into a regular training routine, while preventing a recurrence. The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends that athletes continue with exercises they did in physical therapy - for many people, this can last a lifetime. Try to identify and correct the underlying causes of the injury, often muscle imbalances and postural distortions.

If you need help, I can show you how to incorporate physical therapy exercises into your workout routing, keep the routine interesting, and progress the exercises from the more controlled and "clinical" physical therapy environment to the gym.


Over the past few years, I've shared several corrective programs with blog readers, you can access some of these programs by clicking below. The programs are general and appropriate for most people, however, if you have been treated for an injury you should talk to your physical therapist or doctor and get clearance before proceeding. You can also feel free to contact me for an appointment to develop a more customized program or program for other issues, and for personal instruction.

Low Back Pain Program

Plantar Fascitis/Shin Splints

Rounded Shoulders/Forward Head


Deep Core Training


The problem with most People's Cores? Sit all day and the inner abdominal muscles and glutes get stretched out and weak, hip flexors and low back get short and tight...leading to low back pain, poor balance and other potential problems. Then you try to get active and things can really fall apart.

The problem with most people's core training programs?
1) too much emphasis on external abdominal exercises (crunches) and hip flexion (knee and leg raises);
2) not enough work on inner abdominals and glutes and stabilization while performing movement;
3) too many seated or lying exercise and machines, especially after sitting all day at work;
4 )inadequate or poorly targeted stretching;
5) lack of progression beyond a few basic exercises and failure to integrate movements with core stabilization.

Poor exercise selection can actually cause or exacerbate low back pain. However, an effectively designed fitness program can help protect you from injury and may speed your recovery. Some of the principles of these programs come from yoga and pilates, but you can actually incorporate them into a more traditional strength and conditioning program and progress them to provide continued improvement.

Here is a four step program that you can start to take to improve and train your innermost core:

Step 1- Flexibility: You can't properly work a muscle when the opposing muscles or synergists are tight and overactive, because your joints are in poor alignment. You're also more susceptible to injury. Most readers will benefit from a program like the one presented in the Ultimate Flexibility post, click here for a downloadable copy.

Step 2-Static Core Activation & Strengthening: Wake up the muscles that have been asleep all day long! These exercises focus on activating and strengthening the core in a stationary position, good examples include the 'plank' and quadruped with raised arm and leg. Static strengthening is a good start, but you'll also want to include exercises that train your core to stabilize your body as you perform movements.

Step 3-Integrated Core Training: Activate your core as you perform strength exercises for chest, back, arms, legs, shoulders - any muscle at all. Examples include single leg versions of standing chest press, rows, biceps curls, triceps extensions, as well as lunges and exercises performed on balance boards and stability balls. It is more challenging to stabilize as your perform the exercises, and these exercises train your core to stabilize in different ways that static core training. Once you've mastered this phase with good form throughout, you are ready to add more complex, dynamic movements that require core stabilization throughout.

Step 4-Dynamic Core Training: Here, we stabilize as we move multiple muscle groups together or move in multiple planes of motion, requiring constant effort to stabilize. A few examples include walking lunges with rotation and a step to balance, or a single arm row with a reverse lunge and step to balance, or multi-planar step ups onto a bench with balance and a biceps curl. These may sound over complicated, but they can be graceful to watch and help you stay balanced and on your feet when - for example - you have a near miss on the football field, track or crossing the street.

Deep CORE Exercise Progression

Here is a list of sample core strengthening exercises at each step. I'll be demonstrating them on the gym floor during Cary's Core Clinic and can help find the right level for you, and I incorporate many of them into the workouts at my Total Body Conditioning Class at NYSC Cobble Hill, Thursdays at 630AM

Static Core Activation &

Integrated Core Training

Dynamic Core Training

  • Standing on 1 leg

  • Stand/Balance on Wobble Board

  • Drawing in Maneuver

  • Plank

  • Quadruped with arm and leg raise

  • Side Lying Leg Lift

  • Stability Ball Squat

  • Stand on 1 leg and bicep curl, shouder press/raise, tricep
    pressdown, row, chest press

  • Balance on Board or Stability Ball and Curl,
    Skull Crusher, shoulder press/raise, row, check press

  • Quadruped with row or triceps kickback

  • Stability Ball Squat with biceps curls,
    shoulder press/raise

  • Single Leg bent over row or triceps kickback

  • Step up onto bench, balance and curl or
    shoulder press/raise

  • Walking lunge with rotation and step to
    balance on 1 leg

  • Row or chest press with lunges and a step to
    balance on 1 leg

  • Lunge, step to balance and curl or shoulder
    press; lateral lunge step to balance and curl or shoulder press


UltimateFlexibility(almost/so far)

I have two questions for you

  • Are you happy with your current level of flexibility?
  • What are you doing about it?

Most people I meet are not happy with their flexibility. Even people who are really flexible seem to want more. Yet, its the last thing most people spend time on. I have even been guilty of this myself. This issue is meant to slightly change the way that you think about flexibility, and give you a step by step approach and some specific tools that can lead you to results - if you take the time and do the work that is needed. You'll probably have questions so feel free to ask.

THE PROBLEM WITH MOST PEOPLE'S FLEXIBILITY PROGRAMS The top 5: not doing the stretches that are right for YOU; doing the same few stretches over and over again; not stretching for long enough; using brute force instead of your brain to stretch the muscles; and, neglecting the strengthening component of a flexibility program. So many people try to improve, don't see much progress and every day, leave the gym and go back to the same desk or lifestyle and the problems start over.

Probably both. If a muscle is tight, think of it as being short --- therefore, the opposite muscle compensates by being long. Or does one muscle get too long, and the opposite compensate by shortening? Maybe both at the same time. Some of us are born this way, but often our lifestyles are important factors. If you sit all day, the muscles that you sit on (glutes and hamstrings) tend to get all stretched out and the hip flexors and quadriceps get all tight. If you work on a computer all day, the muscles in front of your chest and shoulders get tight as the muscles behind get stretched out. The same think can happen from driving and biking. I've written about this before...we call these opposing muscle agonists and antagonists. You'll improve your flexibility if you can identify the tight muscles and stretch them, and identify the weak muscles and strengthen them.

STRETCHING IS IN YOUR HEAD You know that stretching is done to make a muscle longer.. but exactly how do you do that? By pulling it to the maximum possible length? Or by getting your brain to do the work? Actually, its the brain and nervous system that controls the length of your muscles, you can do some damage by pulling to much or in the wrong way. There are numerous effective stretching techniques, all of them rely on stimulate sensors in the muscles to send a signal to the brain, and electrical impulse that says "relax me." Those impulses travel through the nerves and spinal cord, then the brain sends messages back to the muscle fibers telling them to relax. It takes at least 7-10 seconds for this process to initiate, so that guy who you see grabbing the front of his shoe and pulling his knee back for 3 seconds and then running off...he's not stretching. Nor is that person who pulls so hard that they overstretch the ligaments while the muscle doesn't increase in length.

STRENGTH TRAINING CAN IMPROVE FLEXIBILITY Sometimes a movement is difficult because a muscle is tight, but often it is because the opposing muscle is actually too weak and extended. I see this a lot with the inner thigh, biceps, and hips/glutes. In some cases, the opposing muscle is literally asleep, and when you try to perform a movement it barely wakes up and you get that stiff feeling like rigor mortis setting in. You can stretch the tight muscles as much as you want but only see limited improvement, so fight back by strengthening the muscle opposite the one that is tight. Which brings us to another issue...

YOU REALLY DON'T NEED TO STRETCH EVERY MUSCLE The are all kinds of group stretching classes, yoga, etc, which are really nice and have helped many people improve their flexibility. Keep in mind that these classes offer a generic one size fits all set of stretches which may not be ideal for your specific needs. You may actually be stretching muscles that are already all stretched out. This goes for the programs that I've included in the sidebar on the left, they're good programs but generic because I haven't assessed you yet. A physical therapist, massage therapist and some personal trainers can assess you and identify which muscles need stretching and which need strengthening. This is an ongoing process: I often do on the fly stretches during a training session when a client has difficulty performing certain movements.


Depending on your posture, fitness level and goals, some stretching before working out can be beneficial. The goal of this stretching is to relax those tight muscles so that the joints are in proper alignment before working out...because if the joints are in proper alignment you can work the muscles better and reduce risk of injury. Some forms of stretching may cause a short term reduction in the amount of force a muscle can generate, so you should avoid them before your powerlifting competitions or choose other forms of stretching. Other forms of stretching?

THERE'S MORE THAN ONE WAY TO LENGTHEN A MUSCLE Most people are familiar with two types of stretching: static stretching, which involves stretching in a stationery position and holding the stretch for about 30 seconds; and, assisted stretching, which is basically the same except your trainer or someone else helps you do it. There are many other techniques that may work for you, depending on your fitness level, exercise program and goals. I've summarized a few in the sidebar. Periodization, changing your stretch routine at regular intervals, can also be helpful in many cases.

Myofascial release is a technique for working out knots and adhesions that limit the extensibility of your muscle tissue. Pressure is applied to the knotted area, and after about 30 seconds, the brain sends a signal to the muscle to relax. If you have some persistent tight spots, you can do this yourself using a foam roller. They're available in the gyms, and if you'd like one for home you can order one online for about 20 bucks. The most common areas that benefit from the attention with the foam roller are the calves, IT Band and quads, but you can actually use them in almost any part of your body. I've got a program that illustrates how to use the foam roller for many different body parts. Click here to view/download the program and choose those stretches that target your own personal tight areas. Do the foam rolling before your regular stretching routine for maximum benefit. Feel free to let me know if you need some help in learning this technique.


STATIC STRETCHING The most popular form of stretching, where you hold a muscle in a stretched position and gradually allow time for it to extend. Hold for 20-30 seconds, shorter is not effective, longer is not much more effective. ACTIVE ISOLATED STRETCHING is a progression from static stretching, appropriate if you have no postural distortions. These stretches typically are performed in 1-2 sets of 5-10 repetitions, each repetition is held for 2-4 seconds. Some require assistance, be very careful with these, I dont recommend having someone who is not trained assist you with them. SAMPLE AI STRETCHES

DYNAMIC STRETCHING is for the fit, and is actually more like exercise than a stretch, and includes lunges, pushups with rotation, walking sideways with a resistance band. PNF (AKA Neuromuscular or Contract Relax) STRETCHING PNF means Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, and it basically tricks the brain into lengthening a muscle. A trained professional will alternate between stretching your muscle and having you resist against the stretch. Again, many require assistance and I do not recommend having someone who is not trained assist you. SAMPLE PNF STRETCHES

MYOFASCIAL RELEASE is a technique for working out knots and adhesions that limit ability of your muscles to fully extend. Pressure is applied to the knotted area, and after about 30 seconds, the brain sends a signal to the muscle to relax. SAMPLE SMR STRETCHES


Posture and Movement Assessments

I have a confession to make. From the minute I first see you, I am watching your posture and the way that you move and looking for way to improve you. Are your feet turned out? Do your shoulders round? Or are they elevated? Is your head forward? Does your back arch? Do your knees move in our out? If you answer yes to one or more of these questions, you have muscular or structural imbalances that need to be addressed in your exercise program. In many cases, certain exercises should be avoided to minimize risk of injury, and other exercises should be included to help correct the imbalance. For example, someone with rounded shoulders should avoid overhead shoulder exercises and strengthen the muscles that pull the shoulders back.

Posture can be addressed statically, basically in a stationary position, and dynamically, while moving. In addition to casual observations of movement, several assessments allow us to do a more focused evaluation. Here are two of the most common:

Overhead Squat Assessment: This consists of a squat with arms held above the head. Here, I'm looking for whether the heels lift, feet turn out, knees move in/out, low back arches or rounds, or the body leans forward.

Single Leg Squat Assessment: In the single leg squat assessment, look for whether the feel flatten, knees move in or out, or the hip shifts. These observations indicate imbalances in the calves, thigh muscles, back, core and shoulders that should be addressed in training.

Core Training and Stablility

There are 29 core muscles that work together to keep the body stable as it generates force, absorbs force, changes direction and moves in multiple different planes of motion. An effective functional exercise program trains your core to do all of this. Rather than training in isolation, we integrate core training into many exercises for other body parts. Ultimately, a core that is stronger while performing movements can improve your overall performance and strength and reduce risk of injury.

If your core training program consists mainly of crunches, leg extensions and back extensions, you're working in only one plane and risk overtraining your rectus abdominus. That's the "6 pack muscle" and yes, you can overtrain it to the extent that it increases the risk of injury - and in a way that will surprise you: A tight rectus abdominus pulls the pectorals forward, tight pectorals pull on the shoulders causing them to rotate in, rotator cuff muscles cannot function effectively and are at risk of injury. Running? By pulling on the chest muscles and moving the shoulders and head forward, an overtrained rectus abdominus can reduce your oxygen intake. Exercises that strengthen the deep inner abdominals, and exercises that incorporate core stabilization with other movements, are an essential component.

Public enemy number 1 is the chair, followed closely by the bench. If you spend a large part of your day sitting, it's a good idea to not to sit or lie down through your entire workout every time you train. Chairs and benches do the work of stabilizing your core as you perform the exercises.


Muscles need to be in proper balance to work together optimally. Our posture and movement assessments will tell us which appear to be too active or short and which appear to be underactive or extended. We need to stretch the short muscles and strengthen or activate those that are long or extended. Stretching and strengthening go hand in hand to achieve flexibility; the genera rule is that when a muscle is tight the opposite muscle is extended.

Here's an easy way to think about this: those muscles that you sit on all day long, your glutes, are probably asleep; the opposite muscles, hip flexors, are flexed all day long and remain short. The hip flexors can get so tight that they inhibit the glute. So stretch the hip flexors, strengthen the glutes, try not to overdo it on exercises that flex your hips... and you are on your way.

Do the same type of assessment and programming for other area of your body.

Advanced Functional/Core Mini Workout

The following are some selected exercises that some of my advanced clients are doing...you might not be ready for them right now but with consistent effort can work towards them. Feel free to ask me to demonstrate them if you don't know what they are:

Tube Walking (Hip Abduction with Band)
Reverse fly with Chest on Stability Ball
Single Leg Deadlift into PNF Pattern (drawing sword)
Single Arm Cable Chest Press/Lunge/Step to balance on One Leg
Single Arm Cable Row/Reverse Lunge/Step to Balance on One Leg
Lateral Lunge/Balance on one Leg/Biceps Curl
Single Arm Cable Triceps Pushdown Kneeling on Bosu Ball
Single Leg Box Jumps (Plyometrics)

We're generally working in a range of 2 sets of 12-15 repetitions. At the beginner and intermediate level, you might start with a standing cable chest press, progress to one leg chest press, then lunging chest press and so on, until you are ready to do the more advanced version of the exercises. One of my most advanced clients had never exercised until about 2 years ago and can do all of these exercises.


BODY FAT: Define it. Measure it. Lose it.

Think of Body Fat as Your Body's Way of Storing Extra Energy (Calories) and Protecting Itself

The scientific term for fat is adipose tissue, your body stores extra energy in the form of fat cells in the adipose tissue.

MYTH: When you exercise your body turns fat into muscle, when you stop exercising, it turns back to fat.

FACT: Fat and Muscle are separate and distinct. When you exercise you may lose fat and gain muscle, and when you stop you may lose muscle and gain fat. They don't transform into eachother.

Some of your body fat is called essential fat because it provides insulation and protects vital organs. Men need at least 2-4% and women need 10-12%. The remainder is called storage fat, and that's what send many of you to the gym. Body fat tends to increase with age.


Body Fat: Let's Not Get Carried Away with the Measurements!

Body Builders and certain competitive athletes may need to obsess about their % body fat, but most of us just need a simple reliable measurement of progress. There are more than a dozen different techniques for estimating body fat, including infrared and x-ray techniques, and one that involves drinking a radioactive isotope . Keep in mind that any approach gives you an estimate based on various measurements and mathematical formulas, you can't directly measure the fat like you can with weight and height. You would have to go through the inconvenience and mess of removing all the fat from the body, weighing it and replacing it to do that. It is best to look at the body fat measurement over time to see changes, and to have it performed by the same competent person using the same equipment. All of the methods have strengths and weaknesses, and research has been conducted to validate them. Here is a recap of the measurement methods:

Hydrostatic Testing - Immersion in a tank of water and measuring displacement is accurate within about 2% for most people. Adjustments by race are made, since African Americans tend to have denser bones while Asians have lighter bones. Air Displacement Plethysmography (The Bod Pod) is a similar but uses air displacement instead of water.
Skin Fold/Caliper Testing - Results are accurate within +/-3.5% for 90% of the population. Results for the other 10% can be off by much more. Variation by tester can be a big factor, so have the same person take the measurements and look for a trend in the results. This technique tends to overestimate body fat for lean individuals and underestimate for obese. Caliper testing needs to be done slowly, carefully and precisely, usually measurements are taken at least three times and averaged for a result.
Bioelectric Impedance - Results are accurate within +/-3% for 82% of the population, and can be off by up to 20% or more for the remaining 18%. Results are inaccurate for small changes and can be affected by hydration, skin temperature, exercise within 12 hours prior, alcohol within 48 hours, food within 4 hours, bladder and bowel content. A body scale once estimated me at 38%, almost 3x the measurement obtained from calipers around the same time.
Circumference Testing - using a few simple measurements, results are accurate within +/-5% for 86% of the population. (There is an online tester available at bodyfat.caryraffle.com, it measured me at almost the same as the calipers and is very easy to use so that you can track your results.)
Ask me - I can usually estimate someone's body fat within a couple of percent, not much less accurate than some of these techniques and a whole lot easier. (Be forewarned, you may have to show me your bare midriff!). If you get a body fat estimate that doesn't make sense - maybe from one of those diet supplement people who set up tables on the streets or at the mall - feel free to contact me for a second opinion.

Losing Body Fat

There are only 2 proven ways to lose body fat: Burn more calories than you consume or consume fewer calories than you burn. Most of use a combination of both - exercise and watching our diets. What about watching carbs? Sure, if you load up on empty calories your body may crave more nutrition and you'll end up eating more, but protein shakes are also loaded with calories that you may not need. I've got some tips, by no means a complete list but just my personal top 10:

Cary's Top 10 Fat Burning Tips
1. Eat a good breakfast. Numerous studies have shown that people who eat breakfast do a better job losing weight and keeping it off. Breakfast skippers tend to make up lost calories later in the day. They don't have the energy to work out as hard, and the body doesn't produce the enzymes need to burn fat during their workout. One theory is that if you workout hard on an empty stomach, the body goes into "survival mode" - sparing fat and burning muscle protein for energy.
2. Use a combination of cardiovascular and strength training activities. Both burn calories while you are working out. Strength training has the added advantage of building muscle mass so that your metabolism increases - so you burn more calories at rest. Start with a cardio warm up, but avoid long cardio sessions before your strength training if you want to burn fat. You want as much energy as possible available for the strength training session. (If you're already lean and training for a marathon, you can skip this advice). Exercise at least 150 minutes er week, more to make real changes in body composition.
3. Work in the "cardio training zone" and you'll burn more fat than in the "fat burning zone." The fat burning zone is a myth: you may get a higher percentage of calories but the total calories burned is lower. You actually burn the highest percentage of calories while sleeping, not exactly a fat burning activity. The cardio zone begins at about 70% of your maximum heart rate. People who aren't on medication can use 220-age to get their maximum hear rate. (In my fitness orientations, we use a different formula that is more personalized.)
4. Interval training for your cardio activities can increase your calorie burn for several hours after you are done exercising. This is recommended for those of you who have already established an aerobic base. Try alternating between 65%-75% of your maximum heart rate for 2 minute intervals.
5. Circuit Training for your strength activities keeps the calories burning - The idea is to keep your heart rate up by eliminating the rest in between sets. Most of my workouts are organized in compound sets, working opposite body parts so that while one side works the other side rests. You may need to rethink or reorganize your traditional split routines. Just be sure to rest each muscle group for 48 hours in between workouts.
6. Gear your strength training to building lean muscle and burning fat. Target the large muscle groups, your legs, back and chest muscles burn more calories than arms and shoulders, and the latter get worked along with the big muscles. You should generally be working in the endurance strength training zone, so do 2-3 sets of 12-20 repetitions of the exercises at moderate weight. Exercises that require you to stand and/or stabilize generally burn more calories than seated or lying exercises. Total body exercises (i.e. lunges with chest press/lat pull down/biceps curls) really turn up the heat.

7. Don't rely on fad diets and supplements. Try to make lasting changes in your diet and lifestyle. Be careful of supplements containing large amounts of stimulants like caffeine and guarana, these can increase your heart rate and you may already be consuming caffeine in your coffee or tea. Caffeine in moderation does help burn fat. If you're already getting enough protein in your diet, ship the protein supplement you don't need the extra calories! The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that endurance trained athletes consume 1.2-1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily.
8. Periodize, or change your exercise routine, at least every 4-6 weeks. Your body adapts during this period and you will see diminishing returns on the time you invest. You can change the pace and duration of your cardio routine. For strength training, change the sets, repetitions, tempo, try less stable exercises and total body exercises.
9. Avoid Overtraining - Muscles grow while you rest. If you are spending more than an hour 3-4x a week working out and not seeing results, and often feel tired and sore, you may be overtraining. Your body shuts down the muscle building process and stops burning stored fat. Work hard, but also rest.
10. Pay careful attention to posture, aches, pains and injuries. You're in this for the long haul and cannot afford to be sidelined by pain or injury that keeps you from working out. It is important to incorporate corrective exercises into your program - call it "prehab" - and avoid exercises that can exacerbate your problem areas. The most common problems that I see include: a. Feet Turn Out /Knees Turn in - sets you up for foot pain (plantar fascitis), knee or hip pain or injury, back pain; b. Shoulders Roll Inward - sets you up for rotator cuff injury, possible upper spinal injury; c. Arched Back - Sets up disk injury may also indicate predisposition to abdominal herniation. I am happy to meet with you, assess you for these potential issues and discuss appropriate corrective exercises and program modifications.



Click here for a quick and easy test that you can do in your home, and track results over time. All you need is a computer that is connected to the internet and a tape measure. For more accuate results, schedule a reading with me using body calipers.


GREAT EXPECTATIONS: Setting Goals that Get Results

by Cary Raffle

We start the New Year with resolutions, plans and great expectations. How many of us will stick to our plans and succeed? Research has shown that we are most effective in achieving our goals when they are clearly defined, measurable, achievable, and are realistic but at the same time represent a little bit of a challenge. It also helps to break your goals up into smaller goals so that can have little successes along the way. How do you know what is realistic and achievable? Read on....

Exercise to Maintain Body Composition and Health - the minimum amount of exercise required to maintain your body composition and health is 150 minutes per week, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. This is usually expressed as 20-30 minutes of exercise at least 5 days per week and preferably every day. To avoid risk of injury, ACSM recommends moderate intensity exercise for those not training for athletic competition.

Be careful not to overdo it. Working the same muscles day after day is counterproductive, especially in strength training. You actually damage muscle fibers when you exercise, and they need at least 48 hours to repair and recover. Muscles grow during this rest period, not when you are working them. So give each muscle group time to recover in between workouts.

Losing Weight - For safe and lasting weight loss, plan on losing between 1-2 pounds per week, according to ACSM and the American Dietary Association. Faster weight loss may be unhealthy and you run the risk of yo-yoing, experiencing rapid drops and quickly gaining. Instead of fad diets, focus on making long-term lifestyle changes.

Maintain a calorie deficit - calories taken in minus calories burned - of about 500 - 1000 per day, you can eat less or workout more or do both. Remember that as you lose weight, your calorie needs also drops. See me to estimate your calorie needs, or visit www.mypyramid.gov for more comprehensive tools. However, if you are beginning an exercise program, make sure that you don't reduce the calorie intake so much that you don't have energy to work out.

Goal Setting - Weight loss is probably the most frequent goal, but it isn't necessarily the most effective measure of results or the one that is right for you. Body measurements, clothes size and subjective assessments of how you look and feel and move are often a better indication. Many people who begin a new fitness program will see the shape of their body change and their clothes size decrease without a corresponding weight loss. This can happen because muscle weighs more than fat. So when you increase your lean body mass (muscle) and decrease your fat, you weight may not go down as much as you expect. Over a longer period of time, you should see the weight loss results. One of my clients was highly deconditioned and cited his greatest accomplishment as being able to reach down and tie his shoes without having to sit down and rest.

Getting Your Workout In - Whether you're joining a gym, running in the park, or walking at the mall, nothing is going to happen if you don't actually get your workouts in. Most successful people start by scheduling their workout appointments, just like any other important meeting. Put it right into your calendar! It may help to attend regularly scheduled classes, meet a reliable friend, or have an appointment with a trainer. I've had many clients who wouldn't make it at all without their training appointment, or who would cancel because they weren't in the mood if not for the 24-hour cancellation fee.

Muscle Growth (Hypertrophy or 'Getting Big") - It takes more than 16 exercise sessions over the course of several weeks to see an increase in muscle size, according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association. However, increasing the size of the muscle does not necessarily increase the strength or lifting capacity of the muscle. Increased strength and increased size are two distinct and different muscle adaptations, and you need to train differently for each.

Plateauing - Expect your strength training to plateau after about 4-6 weeks. At this point, you experience diminished return from your program as you continue doing similar exercises and a similar range of sets, repetitions, time under tension and stability. We call this the SAID principle (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand). Progression requires changing one of more of the variables in your program on a regular, pre-planned basis. It is not only about increasing the weight. Progression can also apply to your cardio training and diet, in some circumstances. I wrote about progression last year. You can sample a few general programs from past newsletters by clicking the links below, or meet with me to develop a program specific to your current fitness level and goals.

Program 1 - XpressLine
Program 2 - Introductory Strength Training
Program 3 - Unstable Exercises (incorporates Core Training)
Program 4 - Advanced Unstable Exercises (unilateral workout) Running the Marathon in 2009 - Start now and many of you can do it! If you've been running at least 2-3 hours a week for more than a year, you've got a pretty good base to start from. Let's set a realistic goal first - for most of you, that would be completing the training and the first marathon without an injury. You can find several alternate programs for marathon training at the ING NYC Marathon website (click here). You'll be increasing to about 50 miles of running a week at the peak of your training. It is a good idea to get assessed for any muscle imbalances and postural distortions, so that you can incorporate corrective exercises and stretching into your program. Exercises to strengthen your core and complement the running program will also help. Risk Factors - According to the International Health and Racquet Sports Association, about half of all new gym members experience an injury during their first 6 months of membership. This often leads them to abandon their memberships, fitness programs and goals. The National Academy of Sports Medicine recommends that all fitness programs begin with an assessment, identification of risk factors, and a corrective phase of training to reduce the chance of injury. Post Rehabilitation - If you've had an injury that required physical therapy, you may have some additional risk factors. The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends that you continue to incorporate the rehab exercises into your training program.

URBAN LEGENDS: Two of the Great Myths of Fitness

"No Pain, No Gain" - Pain, especially that lingering sensation that you feel for days, is not necessarily the sign of a great workout. It is actually a sign that your body is adapting to new stimulus. If you continue with a similar exercise program at similar intensity, the soreness shouldn't return. You can minimize the soreness by starting light and gradually working into new routines. To read more about this subject, click here for an article from the American Council on Exercise.

"The Fat Burning Zone" - The idea here is that you burn a higher percentage of calories from stored fat in the fat burning zone compared to the cardio zone. True, but you burn more total calories in the cardio zone - think of it as getting a smaller piece of a much bigger pie. You actually get about 100% of your calories from stored fat when you are sleeping, but the total calories burned is very low. Focus on total calories, once you've established an aerobic base, and train in the cardio zone for best results reducing weight and burning fat. To read more about this subject, click here for an article from the American Council on Exercise.

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