Month: January 2011

I Want to Lose Weight But Hate Doing Cardio!

How many people think that the only way to lose weight is by doing cardio? I know that I hear that statement all the time. Well I’m here to tell you that there are plenty of other ways to lose fat and burn calories; one of the easiest ways is to start a weight lifting program.

Weight lifting is a great way to increase your lean muscle mass, gain strength, gain flexibility, get coordinated and jump start your metabolism for a week at a time in one workout. Doing cardio is a great way to burn a lot of calories all at one. The average person (150 lbs) using an elliptical will burn about 450 kcal per hour; but their calorie burning would soon subside within about 60 min of finishing the exercise. That same person would only burn 300 kcal in a moderate weight lifting workout for that same time frame. The difference is that the weight lifting workout will increase that person’s metabolism for about a week, and they end up burning more calories total from that one hour workout through the week than by doing that one hour on the elliptical.

Weight lifting using large muscle groups (legs, chest, and shoulders) also releases large amounts testosterone and growth hormone into your blood stream. These hormones start circulating through our body, causing all the muscles to burn fat and build muscle. These and more beneficial hormones are usually only released in these are quantities during weight lifting exercise. Along with a release in hormones, weight lifting also will increase the amount of neurons attached to a muscle fiber, giving you more coordination and balance. You can go from 10 neurons on one muscle to over 1000, imagine how much stronger and graceful that muscle would be if it had that many neurons helping coordinate it. This adaptation is helpful if you are a 15 year old soccer player or a 60 year old still taking the stairs and not wanting to catch a foot on that last step.

One can increase their endurance and flexibility through weight lifting too. When comparing two groups of subjects; one who just cycled and one that just performed vigorous weight lifters over a three month period. The weight lifters had almost the same VO2max as the cyclists. How can one get a cardiovascular workout through weight lifting? Try making a mini circuit with three exercises; two of the exercises can be opposing muscle groups like bench press and rows, while the third one can be a core exercise like a V-situp. Perform each exercise back to back and only rest after you have completed all three. By doing a mini circuit with opposing muscle groups you never overwork a muscle group and don’t have to take a rest between exercises, keeping the heart rate elevated and making it a more efficient, higher calorie burning workout. Flexibility can also be increased if you do a weight workout as long as you perform the full range of motion. In a study done of all the Olympic athletes, the second most flexible athlete, next to gymnasts, was the Olympic lifters! Full range of motion lifting creates long powerful muscles; when someone performs partial range of motion lifting they start to make their muscles adhere to its self and flexibility decreases. The strongest muscle is a fully hydrated muscle and fully elongated muscle!

When it comes to burning calories, just do something…15 min is better than nothing! When it comes to an actual workout program, if you want to burn a lot of calories in one workout, cardio can be the right answer; but if you get bored quickly with the cardio then try hitting the weight room. When it comes to a “weight” lifting workout it doesn’t just mean dumbbells and barbells; it also means machines, cables, group exercise, Pilates, yoga, pool workouts, anything that is weight bearing works (dumbbells and barbells just add to the workout’s fun factor). If you don’t know where to start you can always ask our fitness director Jacob Galloway to set you up with the Seattle Athletic Club’s complementary ActivTrax workout program or get you in contact with one of their highly qualified personal trainers to guide you to a new body.

Benefits of Using a Sauna

Many of us utilize the warmth of a sauna for relaxation, to sweat out an over indulgence the night before or for rehab after a strenuous exercise adventure; but what does the sauna really do for your body? Here are a couple of facts about that favorite spot in the locker rooms. (Many of the sauna therapeutic trials used a regular schedule of at least 5 days a week and often daily for one to three months, then several times a week for extended periods)

  • The sauna’s benefits can be used by the aged and even infants over 3 months (for short sessions <3 min) It increases your metabolism and pulse rates; thus increasing blood vessel flexibility and increases circulation to the extremities.
  • Some studies suggest that saunas reduce the incidence of the common cold and can temporarily relieve their symptoms
  • Saunas have been shown to help with depression and anxiety disorders
  • It can improve endurance sports performance through the increase in red blood cell production, decreases systolic blood pressure and increases exercise tolerance.
  • Saunas have been shown to help with chronic pain from rheumatoid arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome
    The sauna has been shown to reduce stress hormones and increase endorphins, but can increase levels of cortisol hormones.
  • Regular sauna combines with exercise has shown to efficiently clear organic chemicals, solvents, drugs, pharmaceuticals and heavy metals from the body.

If you do decide to use the sauna, start gradually. Stay in only as long as you are comfortable, increasing the time with each visit. Remember that a sauna can elevate your core temperature, and should be used after clearance of your physician if you are child or older person who has heart disease or seizure disorders and those who use alcohol or cocaine are especially vulnerable.

Overtraining: Know When to Say “When”

Most SAC members new to exercise may think that their biggest issue to becoming more fit will be getting the motivation to work out more and become more active in general; but in reality a more common problem is the exact opposite… overtraining. Overtraining is when the volume, load, or repetition causes the negative effects (chronic soreness, joint ailments, etc) of exercise to outweigh the positives. This occurs whenever quality of motion is not the priority.

For some reason most gym goers have a set weight, mileage, rep number, or time that they MUST get to achieve their fitness goals. Focusing on such things and disregarding your quality of motion will eventually catch up to you. No matter if it is weight lifting, running, or yoga, too many movements without competent form will have a negative effect on your musculoskeletal system. Executing any movement without biomechanical efficiency will cause one muscle group, or more, to do way more work that it was designed to. If your back is rounded under a barbell back squat your low back will take the brunt of the movement. If you are not landing softly when you run, the bones and muscles in the feet and ankle will pay the price. This will initially cause some soreness from the overworked muscle. Sore muscles are muscles that are dehydrated and unable to lengthen and contract in a flowing manner. Continuing to stress these sore muscles not only promotes improper mechanics but also invites injury. Whatever calorie burn or muscle pump you achieve in that particular workout will be overshadowed by the damage you do to your body.

The brutal irony is that an over trained individual is bound and determined to improve their overall health and they are in fact speeding up the aging process. One of the first images that come to mind when the word “old” is mentioned is a hunched over, stiff and shuffling figure. Unfortunately age isn’t the only contributing factor to this type of appearance. Faulty movements such as poor running and lifting mechanics can “age” the human body past its years. So all the hours spent in the gym in hopes to slow down the hands of time can actually be speeding them up.

The most disconcerting thing about overtraining is an over trained individual is hardly aware of their condition. Here are some clear cut signs that someone is over trained…

1) Chronic Soreness
This is a huge red flag that your posture and movements leave a lot to be desired. “No pain, no gain” holds absolutely no water. Soreness means you lacked the skill and strength to perform your movements competently. Soreness is expected when you switch activities, increase load, or mileage. This shouldn’t be a constant condition.

2) Decrease in Performance
Are your mile times getting slower? Is your bench press going down in weight? The point of training is to increase performance. If you are not progressing in your activity you are just abusing your body. If your performance is lacking continuing to train in the same manner will only worsen the matter.

3) Lack of Energy
Are you plodding through your runs? Do your arms feel like lead when you try and lift your weights? Do you feel wiped out after each workout? If you answered “yes” to any of the above consider yourself over trained.

So before you throw in the towel and quit the gym, take a deep breath and relax. There is hope. Avoiding overtraining is a rather straight forward process. Just follow these three simple rules to recover from and avoid overtraining.

Every mode of exercise deserves respect. There is a reason there are Yoga and Pilates instructors and weight lifting and running coaches. These professionals don’t get credentials for merely participating in their craft for “x” amount of time. They know each movement they teach inside and out. In addition they are capable of transferring that knowledge to a wide variety of clientele. If you aren’t getting the desired effect from your current activities get professional help. A trainer or instructor can make adjustments to technique and programming that can often dig you out of your current training rut.

Do not just add more weight to your squat just to lift more weight. Add weight only when the current weight you are lifting can be performed with meticulous form. Don’t just add miles to your running route. Only add mileage when you can finish your current distance with some speed and grace. Exercise isn’t about loading up the weight or running farther; it is about mastering your movements and becoming a more efficient moving human being. If the load your lifting compromises your form or if your feel like you are plodding through you current mileage STOP!!! Only advance when you have earned it with skill, poise and power.

The body needs time to recuperate. Though this amount of time will differ from athlete to athlete it is always a must. If you are feeling tired and lethargic take a day or two off. Take that time to foam roll, stretch, get some down time and relax. A fully recovered body can perform at peak levels. Coming back strong in the gym far outweighs plodding through seven days a week of mediocre workouts.

When it comes to our health, most of us would do anything to keep it. Sometimes this creates a drive to do as much as possible all the time, creating an over-trained body feeling chronic soreness, with decreased performance and energy levels. Take a step back and look at your current exercise regime, if you see any or all of these happening try getting a coached, master your form before increasing the load and make sure you give your body ample time to rest and repair itself. If you have any questions please feel free to contact any of the Seattle Athletic Club’s Fitness staff or contact the Fitness Director Jacob Galloway.

When Should You Re-Test Your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)?

Scenario: A member started a work out program six months ago and had their resting metabolic rate tested. At what point should RMR be retested?

Resting metabolic rate is an individual’s nutritional consumption needs, having this value measured allows for the mathematically precise amount of calories needed to gain, maintain, or lose weight – all depending on the individual’s goal.

After participating in a workout regimen for a given time, such as six months, the body’s caloric demands change. If someone is trying to lose weight, and they hit a plateau of weight loss, they would need to retest their RMR; or if someone is trying to gain muscle mass, and they hit a plateau of weight gains, they would also need to retest their RMR.

With any change in body composition, such as an increase in fat free mass, caloric needs fluctuate. Because muscle burns three times as many calories as fat, a more muscular physique would require more calories than the average overweight physique. The transition into a more muscular body thus causes an increase in metabolism; burning the calories consumed even more quickly then before. This has a snowball effect, as you burn more calories you continually lose body fat, creating a larger fat free mass, again increasing your metabolism.

Factors that contribute to RMR include:

  • Body weight – more body weight requires more calories
  • Muscle mass – each pound of muscle consumes up to 50 calories a day for maintenance
  • Frequency of meals – the body knows to store less fat as it gets fed regularly
  • Hydration levels – slight dehydration can decrease your metabolism by 2%
  • Age – as we age the amount of muscle in our bodies decrease along with metabolism
  • Genetics – Pituitary and Thyroid issues can cause one to gain weight uncontrollably (this occurs in less than 1% of our population).
  • Environment – warmer climates have higher metabolism as they don’t need to store the energy for heat that the colder climates do
  • Gender – men burn more calories daily than women, and women naturally need to store ~ 10% more body fat then men

If you have any questions about resting metabolic rates or would like to schedule an appointment to find out what your RMR is; please contact Fitness Director Jacob Galloway.

Lunch Box Express 45 Minute Workout

Last year Personal Fitness Trainer Adriana Brown talked about the benefits of High Intensity Training. Her latest “Get It Done” lunch time workout applies these principles in a quick 45 minutes.

If you are ready to take your lunch workout to the next level contact Adriana today!

Overcoming Exercise Plateaus

Are you one of those people who keep doing the same exact workout that you have always done and wonder why you’re not seeing the results you want to see? Well, you’re not alone. I find that most people will stay with the same workout week after week, month after month and even year after year. It’s great that they have such a commitment to their workouts, and they are staying healthier than if they didn’t workout at all, but they could be reaching much better results if they integrated change to their workouts.

To find better results, you need to first ask yourself “what are my goals?” If you don’t have any workout goals you will be lost in the gym – idling at your current level of fitness. Keep your goals simple and SMART. SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timed. Example: “I want to lose 15 lbs. in 3 months.” The example fits all of the SMART criteria.

Now that you have a goal, write it down and keep it somewhere you’ll see everyday or set a daily reminder on your computer or phone. This way you’ll be reminded of your goal each day and not lose site of where you are heading. From this point, the burden of making your goal a reality is upon your shoulders. If you really want to reach a goal then don’t let anything or anyone stand in your way. Be accountable for your goals.

Second, you need to ask yourself “am I working hard enough to reach my goals or am I just doing what I need to do to get 30 minutes done on the treadmill?” I find most people are doing the latter. If you only put in the same amount of effort every time you workout, you will only find the results to be mediocre at best. If you’re trying to lose 15 lbs. in 3 months, the same mediocre workout isn’t going to work for you. You need to change it up and get serious about elevating your fitness level.

Instead of getting on the EFX at a resistance of 6 and zoning out for the next 20-30 minutes try the rower, or consider the track and the stairs or an interval workout on the EFX. Whatever you choose, the workout should be challenging and out of your comfort zone; but it shouldn’t kill you either – so be aware of the level of intensity you are aiming for. The change is just what your body needs when you have hit a plateau. When you first start working out it’s tough on your body, but in a short time you start to feel better and you start to see results from your hard work. The workout is something new to your body and it’s reacting well. But after a few weeks of the same routine your body is used to the workout and isn’t challenged anymore and the gains you saw earlier are dwindling (except that you are still in good health). Now you need to increase the amount of work you do during your workout – change it up. You can increase the amount of time you spend on the treadmill and/or increase the resistance or speed of the machine you use. It’s time to put a little more effort into your workout.

Interval training is great for getting you outside of your comfort zone. Basically, you have a work interval (30 sec. – 5 min.) followed by a rest interval. The rest interval can be 1-2 minute break to get some water and to catch your breath before you do your next work interval (passive recovery) or just slowing the treadmill down to a walk or slow jog for a 1 – 5 (active recovery). This will be exactly the change your body needs.

The same thing goes in the weight room. Try different lifts (especially if you haven’t done anything new in years), change the number of sets you do, change the number of repetitions you do and/or increase the amount of weight you lift. Your muscles won’t get any stronger if you don’t overload the muscle and challenge them. I know a lot of you are nervous about “getting too big.” Being stronger has nothing to do with getting bigger and it takes a lot of hard work and a high calorie diet for one to really “get big” from weight lifting. Rule of thumb: muscle hypertrophy = 3-8 reps, strength/power = 8-12 reps, and muscular endurance = >12 reps.

Third, if you need some assistance with changing up your workout, try a session with a personal fitness trainer at the club. If you need your car worked on you take it to a mechanic. The same should pattern applies to working on your fitness; trainers have the knowledge and the skills to put you on the right track to reach your goals. Having a trainer set up a workout will make your time in the gym time well spent and get you results quicker and safer.

Again, the changes to your workout will help your body get past your exercise plateau. In order to get stronger and become fit your body needs to be challenged and keep your muscles guessing. If you start to change up your workouts every 4 – 8 weeks you should never reach a plateau and you will reach your goals.

Now that you have the tools you need to overcome your exercise plateau, go out there and get it done. Set your goals. Change up your workout. Put in some hard work and have fun! If you have any question please don’t hesitate to contact me, or any of the other personal fitness trainers, at the club.

Pilates + Skiing and Snowboarding

It’s ski season—ah…the pure joy of skiing down a mountainside of sparkling powder, surrounded by tall evergreens and brilliant blue sky……

Then, after that first day of tackling moguls, dodging trees and other skiers; the fatigue and soreness of the legs and hips kick in. This is partly because of muscle overuse and lack of core strength. If the core is not working enough, your legs and hips have to work harder to stabilize you.

Pilates will stretch tight, overused leg muscles, such as the quads and hip flexors and strengthen underused muscles such as the hamstrings and inner thighs.

Skiers rely on side to side hip movement to recruit the inside and outside edge of the ski. Boarders tilt their hips forward and back to access the front and back edge of the board and use a more rotational movement to change directions. A strong core gives you better edge control. Edge control improves balance as you navigate the twists and turns of the slope –at high speeds-, the ever-changing snow conditions and the ability to get up unscathed when you take a tumble.

By practicing Pilates, core strength and alignment improves and you become more in tune with your body. Movements are fluid, there is less wear and tear on joints and your sport becomes more enjoyable. You’ll find yourself adapting better to changing snow conditions, challenging terrain, and falling less.

Here are some mat exercises you could start today:

1) The Hundred- core, arms, hip stabilizer
2) The Abdominal Series

  • Single leg stretch
  • Double leg stretch
  • Single straight leg stretch
  • Double straight leg stretch
  • Criss-cross

3) The Side Lying Leg Kick Series

  • Front/Back
  • Up/Down
  • Small Circles
  • Inner Thigh lifts
  • Bicycle

Nothing will improve your skiing faster than a strong core. Cross-train by adding a Pilates mat class to your fitness regime or perhaps a private session with your Pilates Instructor.

Stay strong, ski safe!

Spice Up Your Resolutions with a Group Class

Keep your New Years resolution alive by mixing up your workout and staying motivated. Group exercise classes such as Yoga, cycle, sports conditioning, dance or resistant classes are ways to liven up your workout while staying motivated and having fun. Before you lose site of your goals branch out into other areas of fitness training. Who knows, you might even enjoy it!

Group, by definition, is more than one person. Therefore, more conservative guidelines are set for group exercise than that of a personal trainer who works one-on-one or a coach who works with a well-trained athlete. Due to the nature of group exercise, an educated instructor will evaluate two main components-effectiveness and potential risk. With that in mind, the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America or AFAA, which is a nationally recognized organization for group exercise certifications, has developed five questions an instructor should consider when putting together a safe and effective workout for participants.

First, what is the purpose of the exercise? Consider muscular strength or endurance, cardiorespiratory conditioning, flexibility, warm-up, skill development, and stress reduction. Secondly, are you doing that effectively? Consider proper range, speed or body position against gravity. Third, does the exercise create any safety concerns? Consider potential stress areas, environmental concerns or movement control. Fourth, can you maintain proper alignment and form for the duration of the exercise? Consider form, alignment, and stabilization. Finally, for whom is the exercise appropriate or inappropriate? Consider modifications to increase or decrease the level of intensity based on fitness levels.

When choosing a class that suits your needs, consider your goals whether they are flexibility, cardio-fitness or strength training. Once you have determined this, grab a schedule and jump in! Before you begin a new class, it’s always a good idea to talk with the instructor before class. He or she can provide valuable information as to what you can expect and what you may want to do to modify. Keep in mind, the first couple of times you try anything new it will seem awkward. The key is to keep going back. The more you participate, the better you will become. The energy in the class provided from the instructor, the music and the workout will inspire you to return and reach your fitness goals.

If you are ready to branch out and try something new to help your fitness goals become a reality, try a group exercise class today!

What Exactly is V02 Max?

Many of you may have heard the term “V02 max” thrown around when talking about your cardiorespiratory endurance and aerobic fitness, but I’m sure many of you are all wondering the same thing…What exactly is V02 Max and should I get mine tested?

VO2 max is the maximal oxygen uptake or the maximum volume of oxygen that can be utilized in one minute during maximal or exhaustive exercise. It is measured as milliliters of oxygen used in one minute per kilogram of body weight. VO2 max is one factor that can determine a person’s capacity to perform sustained exercise and is linked to aerobic endurance. It is generally considered the best fitness assessment tool available to accurately identify the appropriate training intensities specific to your fitness needs/goals.

Determining your V02 Max involves a graded exercise test on a treadmill. The test begins at a light intensity and gets slightly harder each minute until you reach near maximum exertion. The subject wears a mask and the volume of air expired along with the percentages of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the expired air are measured. From this, we can determine the following:
■ Peak oxygen consumption
■ Calories burned during exercise at different heart rates
■ Aerobic and Anaerobic Thresholds
■ Target intensity zones

VO2 testing is the best way to measure your cardio fitness and maximize your workout. Each person has a unique optimal training zone. Exercising at different levels of intensity will meet different fitness goals. Some intensities burn more fat, some increase endurance, and some focus on strengthening your heart. As you may know, the calories burned calculated on cardio machines are not known for their accuracy. Some machines are even known to bump up the calorie readout by almost 25%! Furthermore, machines do not always take into consideration all the factors in individual fitness levels and the specificity of the exercise, so relying on these machines to give you an accurate calorie and heart rate count can hold you back from attaining your goals if your not careful. Also, many of the charts you see on exercise equipment displays target heart rate based only on age. V02 max testing measures your precise target heart rate, then calculates your personal target intensity zones and how many calories you burn in each zone. These zones give you the precise heart rates necessary to optimize each level of exercise and maximize your results, so you workout smarter, not harder.

By knowing your V02 Max you will in turn be able to:
■ Burn more fat
■ Maximize your workouts
■ Eliminate training plateaus
■ Decrease fatigue and injury potential

Anyone who is looking to lose weight, maximize the potential towards their workouts, improve performance or most importantly, help make fitness goals attainable. Although many individuals would benefit from knowing their V02 max, it is especially valuable for those involved in sports where endurance is an important component in performance, such as:

■ Cycling
■ Rowing
■ Cross-country skiing
■ Swimming
■ Running

With spring approaching quickly and marathon/swimming/cycling season underway, now is the perfect time to maximize your potential and workout smarter, not harder!

Kale & Apple Salad with Pancetta & Maple Roasted Pecans

Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 12

  • 2 cups maple roasted pecans- recipe below
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 ounces thickly sliced pancetta, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons caper brine (from a jar of capers)
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 large head radicchio, shredded
  • One 8-ounce bunch kale—stems discarded, leaves finely shredded
  • 3 tablespoons snipped chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
  • 2 ounces shaved pecorino cheese

In a skillet, heat the oil with the pancetta and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the pancetta is browned, 6 minutes. Strain the pan drippings into a large bowl; whisk in the vinegar, caper brine and maple syrup and season the dressing with salt and black pepper. Add the apples, radicchio, kale, chives, tarragon and pecorino and toss. Mound the salad on plates, garnish with the pecans and pancetta and serve.


  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 1 pound pecans (3 ½ cups)
  • ¾ cup maple syrup
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper if desired

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil a 10” x 15” baking pan. Mix all ingredients and put onto pan in a single layer. Bake for 5 minutes and stir. Bake 5 more minutes and stir again. Bake for about 5 more minutes or until all of the syrup has crystallized, being careful not to overcook as they will burn quickly after they are done.
Put roasted nuts on a clean lightly oiled pan to cool.

Adapted from