Thursday, March 26, 2009

Gain Without The Pain

By Paul Boisvert, NSPA Conditioning Specialist, Electra Personal Training Director

It is hard to believe that anyone would commit to regular exercise intent on inflicting injury on themselves. Yet, the general population seems to display a strong inclination to avoid the basic foundations of proper exercise techniques.

Of course, no one is intentionally looking to hurt themselves. In fact, most people may think that the poor technique that they are applying will actually benefit them in some way. In other cases, proper form may raise the bar on the effort level. It is easier to cheat with sloppy form.

It is important not to confuse discomfort with pain. Without getting too scientific, there are chemical processes that are needed in order for our muscles to continually contract. One by-product of this occurrence is called lactic acid. The lactic acid produces the “burn” or discomfort that results from high intensity training. Sharp, shooting pain or numbness is usually caused by compressed nerves, over-used muscles, hyper-extended joints, or hyper-flexed joints. Improper body alignment and other bad training habits are usually the culprits. There may also be a pre-existing condition that you were not yet aware of. That’s why it is important to stay on track with your regular visits to the doctor.

Here are some things to think of when you workout.
1.Posture: Do you know what good posture actually means? Do you know how to apply it to your own body?
Start by keeping your ears in line with your shoulder. Your shoulders should stay down and back without exaggeration. Next, align your shoulder joint, hip, knees and ankles.
You will be using your upper back, hip, abdominal, and low back muscles to maintain this position. If you have poor posture, this alone will give you a workout. Apply this to strength training, aerobic workouts, and stretching. Practicing proper alignment will help the muscles throughout your body work the way they should without being pushed beyond their limits.

2.Muscle range of motion: This is a big factor in injury prevention. It is important to know the limits of the muscles you are targeting.
For example, a bench press should be performed with the range limited to a 90 degree elbow angle at the bottom of the movement. The top of the movement should be limited to the full contraction of the chest. Going beyond these ranges induces the risk of shoulder or back injury. Also, the chest does not get trained to its fullest potential. Each exercise has a primary muscle of focus. Getting to know the feel of the primary muscle and its limitations will greatly increase your overall strength and control.

3.Using the right muscles to stabilize your body:
Learn how to train the muscles of your trunk or core more effectively. They are your foundation when the intensity of an exercise picks up. Too many people call on the muscles of the upper back and neck, often causing injury. This leads to unnecessary pain that will bring about sleepless nights and missed workouts.
If this is the case, you could use the services of an Electra personal trainer to set you on the right path with more core awareness. Once you learn to call on these muscles as your base, you will benefit from less pain and more results.

There are still several other techniques that can be mastered for safer and more effective training. However, these three areas are the best places to start.
Exercise should be a major priority in your life. Without it, all your other priorities will suffer. Your health, productivity, and overall quality of life will decline at a faster rate without it. A fitness program is a worthwhile investment. A wise approach can only help you reap from the benefits and avoid setbacks.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Proper Gym Manners

By Eduardo Lorenzo

Have you ever come in to the gym all hyped up to train only to find your favorite exercise equipment covered in a puddle of sweat? Yuck!
Ever spent part of your workout time removing weights from machines so you can put yours on? Or searched all over the gym for a bar, pulley handle or weight plates and dumbbells that aren't where they're supposed to be?
Why can't people at the gym be a little bit more courteous?
With so many people coming through the door everyday, being decent and having good manners is key to making everyone's workout time rewarding; not disturbing. Not everyone has two, three or five hours to train. Members all have real needs and goals, whether they are losing weight, putting on some muscle mass, increasing performance, or de-stressing from daily activities.
The main idea is to show respect and consideration. It’s all about proper etiquette and general decency.
With that in mind, there are definite things you want to avoid in order to keep our gym manners at a high level at all times. Let’s go over a few examples:

1. It’s always nice to get along with other gym members; but don’t become a social butterfly. Most people go to the gym to train, not socialize (that’s what Facebook is for). Don’t be screaming, grunting or talking too long to those who are focused on their workout. Don't disturb those who are reading, watching TV or listening to their iPod as they exercise; all of this can be irritating to some members.
2. Keep your sweat to yourself. Wipe down equipment when you're done. Remember Electra Health Club & Spa offers paper towels with sanitizing spray bottles to clean. Also, some gym goers do bring towela: use them!
3. Pick up after yourself, we’re talking food, water bottles, paper and whatever else including the weights.
4. So put your weights back on the rack. Once you're done with weight plates, dumbbells or barbells, put them back. My rule is: “If you can’t drop then nicely, and put them back, don’t even dare to pick up the weight.”
5. Loud grunting, or singing along to your iPod are no-nos, I mean seriously; I once heard this dude singing his heart out to “time after time” by Cindy Lauper… I mean, come on!!! Not in the gym. Turn off your cell phone for courtesy purposes. If you can't miss a call, take your conversation outside.
6. Don't hog the equipment. Many gyms have a 30-minute limit on cardio equipment that is enforced only when people are waiting. At Electra we have not set a 30-minute limit; however we still want you to be polite with other gym members.
7. If the gym is not busy, stay on that treadmill as long as you want. If it's packed, respect the rules. When working with weights, alternate sets with people who want to use the same equipment.
8. Wear clothing and footwear designed for exercise. It’s not a fashion place but at least don't wear pajamas and torn clothing. But do wear undergarments that provide support and cover areas others don't want to see. And if you're going to lounge in the sauna or steam room, please do not go in there wearing gym or street clothes and sneakers, bathing suits or towels are basics. Remember some of our members are children who shouldn’t be exposed, for crying out loud, to certain areas of the human anatomy.

Eduardo Lorenzo – NASM-CPT; specializes in sports performance, injury prevention, corrective exercises, physique enhancement and weight loss programs.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

March is the National Nutrition Month

By Eduardo Lorenzo

National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the American Dietetic Association. The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.
I can understand there is an overflow in the market for products, publications on diet, nutrition and health. Then where can you find some sound information that is not biased? Surely at the ADA website:
They have tons of articles that range from basic health to sports nutrition, diabetes, special needs and children’s nutrition. I recommend you go there and inform yourself the best possible way.
In the mean time, I would love to hear from you on, what are your nutrition habits? Any special recipes worth sharing? How are you doing with your fitness and weight management goals?
Send me an e-mail and let us know how it's going for you!

Yours in health and fitness,
Eduardo Lorenzo – NASM-CPT; specializes in sports performance, injury prevention, corrective exercises, physique enhancement and weight loss programs

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Be FIT with Daylight Savings Time!

This Sunday, March 8, 2009; at 2a.m., marks the beginning of daylight savings time—when clocks spring forward and Americans are cheated out of an hour of quality sleep. So with that in mind, don’t find yourself napping this weekend. Adjusting your clock may result in more than just a deprived day of 1 hour sleep. DST actually doesn’t save any daylight. But by moving ahead an hour it facilitates extra daylight mainly for our commute from work.

Yes! We’ll get an hour less this weekend to sleep, however there is a bright side to daylight. First of all DST will allow us to use less energy at home, thus helping us save money so necessary in this economy. It can also have a positive spin on our health. The more light on the outside provides a better path to safety driving reducing the amount of car accidents. It also provides more time to be fit and healthy. During DST there is no excuse to not hit the gym or be active with outdoor activities. Do the things you enjoy the best, go for a bike ride, a jog, play a pickup game with the guys, or hit the afternoon golf range and no need to rush through it.

What I want you to do is to think about those fitness goals and resolutions you set for yourself at the beginning of the year. Have you accomplished them, or are you at the moment still striving for them? Have you even started yet? If you have, then you have plenty of resources and light to keep at it. If you haven't, then now is the time to start and “spring forward” with DST.

If you still need some motivation this spring, take a trip. Hot places such as Hawaii, Arizona, US Virgin Islands and my all time favorite Puerto Rico don’t observe DST; mainly since daylight hours are similar during every season (some places are even closer to the equator); therefore there is no advantage to shift the clock forward.

It’s always sunny in my home town of Puerto Rico!

If you need advice on your fitness program you can visit me at Electra Health Club and Spa or e-mail me with questions/comments. I would love to hear from you!

Eduardo Lorenzo – NASM-CPT; specializes in sports performance, injury prevention, corrective exercises, physique enhancement and weight loss programs

Friday, March 6, 2009

What Is The Equation For Fitness Success?

If there is a question I get every single day from gym members, family, friends, different folks at the grocery store, it almost always comes down to one thing; and I’m telling you even from the newbie trainees to those who’ve been in the gym for some time: what is the secret to rapid results? Is there any magic trick or quick fixes to get there fast?

Truth be told, we all want that beach body overnight. Women want to wear their bikinis; men want to bench press 300 pounds or so, deadlift 3 times their bodyweight in two weeks of beginning their training program. Let’s face it. Everyone wants six pack abs without having to count calories… right?

The problem is that most are lost in this sea of information and the hype that is floating around about this diet or that one; do I eat carbs, more protein, is fat bad for me? etc, etc; that most just go from one program to the other with little to no knowledge. Some say, “I’ll eat what I want but, how about interval training, or 1 or 2 hours of cardio… is a mile or two long enough? Why aren’t I losing more weight?

Although there are many supplements and treatments out there that claim to get you there, most of them will just “supplement” whatever you are currently doing. If you are not doing well on your own or doing nothing at all (meaning doing proper exercise and eating healthy for weight loss) then forget it they won’t even work. The fact is that there is no secret to getting that sexy physique or building muscle and losing fat. It takes commitment, consistency, hard and smart work, plus common sense to not over do it; and by this I mean healthy eating and consistent physical activity, whether it’s at the gym or outdoor recreation.

Building an incredible physique takes time and determination. It's actually quite simple, and for the regular fitness enthusiast, 3-4 training sessions per week is going to be all they really need to achieve their physique and or fitness goals. Combine a good training routine of basic compound movements with a healthy dietary approach, and I can just about guarantee your success.

Usually 6 to 12 weeks is plenty of time to start noticing some real results. Of course everyone has a different body composition, health and goals of your own, but depending on your fitness level you can probably finally see your abs, increase your performance and energy levels, lose weight and gain lean muscle tissue. You should manage and see some good results “IF” you are consistent. If you don’t see results, chances are you are missing on something or probably just need a little help to push over that plateau.

If you need advice on your exercise, cardiovascular and nutrition programs you can visit me at Electra Health Club and Spa or e-mail me with questions/comments. I would love to hear from you!

Eduardo Lorenzo – NASM-CPT; specializes in sports performance, injury prevention, corrective exercises, physique enhancement and weight loss programs.