Month: August 2011

Move to the Beat… Tune Up Your Workout Playlist!

Music is everywhere. We hear it when we go to the grocery store, in the elevator, while driving in the car, you name it. The soft tones, depending on the music choice, help to ease the mind, creating a more pleasant environment or shopping experience. Music helps to low anxiety levels and allows the mind to relax. This can also be useful during most exercise activities. At the gym we listen to music to help pump us up, block out unwanted stimulation (other conversations, weights crashing, etc.), and it helps to keep us motivated and moving. There is a reason why the theme song from Rocky tends to play in your head while running up a huge flight of stairs. It has been shown that positive experiences and mindsets produce positive feelings and a desire to repeat the activity. It has also been shown that lyrics that are related to determination and strength may also enhance motivation to exercise more intensely and/or for longer.

Music can be used to motivate you in the gym and help to keep your heart rate and energy up while taking an intense class. It can also be used to enhance your physical performance, making you work harder without thinking about it too much. All you need to know is the total beats per minute (BPM) for the songs you want to listen to. It is extremely easy to find the BPM of a song from your iTunes. Simply follow the directions below to find out which songs will have the BPM listed in your music library.

  1. Find the song you wish to know the beats per minute for in your iTunes library, and select the song by right-clicking on it. A long menu box should appear directly under the song.
  2. Click the button that says “Get Info”. This will take you to a larger pop up box where you can locate various information about that specific song.
  3. Click the tab on the top of the box that says “Info”, and look under the box that says BPM. If the box is blank, it means you will have to manually enter the beats per minute of the song. If you know the tempo of the song, you can type in the BPM yourself.

Once you have an idea of the BPM, play with the songs and see which ones correlate with your running speed. You can challenge yourself by throwing in a few songs that are at a faster BPM than your normal gait. The idea is that you will continue to run with the beat without noticing that you are running faster. It has even been shown that when patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease listen to music at a specific BPM, they tend to walk more fluidly without as many stutter-steps that occur without music.

There have been some studies that show it is not always the most beneficial to listen to music while performing exercise at a competitive level. Elite level athletes need to stay focused on their task and all the different variables that occur throughout their competition. This can be as simple as a slight turn out of the foot or more complex such as respiration rate compared to heart rate. Not to say elite level athletes do not listen to music at all while exercise. Simply put: music creates a dissociative environment (the feeling of ‘zoning out’) which is what most people are looking for. Athletes thrive in the associative state and do not need the distractions as much, especially during competition.

Overall, music is an extremely useful tool for the everyday exerciser. If you find you are not enjoying your workouts as much, try some music to make the experience more entertaining. When you go for a run, try playing with the BPM to see what happens. You may find yourself running faster and more efficiently based solely on the music you choose!

TRX Beginner Moves

There are several exercises that can be performed using the TRX straps. These exercises range from beginner to very advance. Most exercises have modifications or progressions that can be performed to place the exercise at the appropriate level. These progressions should be learned and perfected before moving on to some of the more difficult exercises. Listed below are three beginner moves with three progressions to increase the difficulty.

TRX Row

  • Progression #1 – Facing the anchor point, extend the arms to a straight position allowing the body to lower back. Place one foot back and put some weight into this foot. We call this off-set foot position. This foot will help to push throughout the upward phase of the exercise if the back and arms are not strong enough to successfully pull the body through full range of motion. The foot will also help slow your body on the way down. You can challenge yourself by seeing how much weight you actually need in the back foot. Keeping the core tight, drop your shoulders and pull your elbows back trying to engage your shoulder blades. Exhale on the way up. Also, make sure you control the movement throughout the entire exercise. The key is to keep tension on the straps during the movement.
  • Progression #2 – For the 2nd progression, stand with your feet together instead of having the off-set foot position. This removes the stability added by that back foot and forces the core to engage more to keep the body in the correct position. The movement is still the same. Remember: if the exercise feels like there is not enough weight take a step forward.
  • Progression #3 – For the 3rd progression, lift one foot off the ground and keep it in the air throughout the movement. Make sure you are strong in the core. As soon as you lift the foot, the core muscles will be trying to keep that side of the body up. Make sure you switch legs after 10 repetitions.

TRX Chest Press

  • Progression #1 – Standing away from the anchor point, bring the hands directly under the shoulders, keeping the straps roughly 2 inches off of the arms. The straps should not touch the arms throughout this exercise. If they do, the weight is too much and a step forward should be taken and recheck your form. For this progression we will use the off-set foot position, placing one foot in front of us. Making sure the back is straight, open your arms to slightly wider than shoulder width, bend the elbows, and lower the body. A stretch will be felt in the chest muscles. As you bring the body forward, allow the front foot to take some of the weight. You can also use this foot to push back to standing. Keep the elbows high, exhale, and press yourself back to a standing position, remembering to keep tension on the straps at all times.
  • Progression #2 – For the 2nd progression, stand with your feet together instead of having the off-set foot position. This removes the stability added by that back foot and forces the core to engage more to keep the body in the correct position. The movement is still the same. Remember: if the exercise feels like there is not enough weight take a step forward.
  • Progression #3 – For the 3rd progression, lift one foot off the ground and keep it in the air throughout the movement. Make sure you are strong in the core. As soon as you lift the foot, the core muscles will be trying to keep that side of the body up. Make sure you switch legs after 10 repetitions.

*With both the TRX Row and the TRX Chest Press, ankle placement or stance is your preference. Some people have better ankle mobility than others. I normally use the Chest Press exercise as an opportunity to stretch my calves by seeing how long I can keep my heels down. At some point the heels will come up as you lower yourself down and that is ok. Just make sure you keep your core fully engaged, maintaining the plank position.*

TRX Lunge

  • Progression #1 – Facing the anchor point with your elbows under your shoulders, reach one leg back making a connection with the ball of your foot. Keeping your chest up, engage the core and drop the back knee towards the ground. As you breathe out, press through the heel of the front leg to return to a standing position. You can test your balance by following through with a knee drive, not allowing the foot to touch the ground before performing another repetition.
  • Progression #2 – For the 2nd progression of this exercise, do not allow the back foot to touch the ground in the back. Instead, hover the foot as you lower into the lunge position. Be sure to fully engage the core to prevent the hips from dropping. Try to keep the hands relaxed at all times; the straps are there for balance, not life support.
  • Progression #3 – The 3rd progression to this exercise hovers the foot in the back and adds a jump at the end instead of simply standing. Be sure you keep the weight in the front foot and you still press out of the heel as you stand up and brace yourself as you land.

These three exercises are a great compliment to any current workout routine. Since each exercise has 3 levels of progressions they can be performed by any skill level. If you are interested in trying these exercises please feel free to contact Personal Fitness Trainer Thomas Eagen (teagen@sacdt.com) to schedule a free 30minute demonstration.

Backstroke Timing… Tips to Avoid Headache.

Understandably, backstroke tends to remove swimmers from their comfort zone. You are on your back heading towards a concrete wall that you cannot see! Let’s see a raise of hands, how many of you have banged your head on the wall? I know I have a few too many times because I either wasn’t paying attention or miss calculated the distance. With the exception of those of us who day dream and don’t “see” the flags, there a few simple things that can help you avoid hitting your head again.

Whenever you get into a new pool, go to about ½ way down the lane and swim backstroke into the wall. When you see the flags above you, begin counting your strokes (each arm stroke counts!). The flags are the warning sign letting you know that you are approaching a wall. So, you are going to want to swim cautiously until you figure out the number of strokes that you take between the flags and the wall.

Once you have your stroke number (N), subtract two (ex: it typically takes me 5 strokes to get into the wall from the flags, therefore, if I subtract 2, I have 3). Go back to the middle of the pool and swim backstroke into the wall again. This time, when you see the flags, count to your N-2 (for me this number is 3). When you reach your N-2 do your flip-turn. This will give you a baseline from where you can do further fine tuning. Complete a couple more turns and adjust your stroke count as needed. If you find that you are too close to the wall on your turn, take 1 less stroke before you flip. Typically, you will know if you are too close to the wall because your feet will hit the wall too high sending you to the bottom of the pool when you push off. If you are too far away, take 1 more stroke before you flip. When you are too far away from the wall, it will feel as though you missed the wall when you tried to push off. As you get more comfortable, you most likely will lengthen your stroke requiring you to take less strokes, but not always!

Now something important to remember is that the distance of your stroke changes with your speed; therefore, the number of strokes that it takes to get to the wall will also change with your speed. So if you are calculating how many strokes it takes to get to the wall for a race, make sure to do it at a slow pace initially, and then repeat it at race pace.

Welcome Amanda Goddard to Our Massage Team

The Massage department has a new addition! Please welcome Amanda Goddard to our staff. She comes to us highly skilled in many modalities of bodywork to fit any body’s needs. Amanda comes to us after spending time in Haiti working on relief efforts. She has also spent a solid amount of time working at an upscale club in San Diego which makes her a great fit for us!

Amanda received her training at Mueller College of Holistic Therapies in San Diego where she received her Massage Practitioner certification and then went on to receive her Holistic Health Practitioner Certification. She has been a Massage Practitioner since 2002. She has knowledge of many different modalities including Deep Tissue, Sports Massage, Swedish, and CranioSacral Therapy. With her broad base of training she enjoys incorporating many techniques, tailoring a massage to each clients needs.

Please come see for yourself what Amanda has to offer! Her shifts are:
Mondays 11:00am – 3:00pm
Tuesdays 11:00am – 3:00pm

Contact the club at 443-1111 to schedule your next appointment.

Flexibility 101

Flexibility refers to the degree to which a joint moves throughout a normal, pain-free range of motion. Since most physical activities and sports consist of many multijoint movements, flexibility is essential to your weekly workout routine. Flexibility training includes stretching exercises that work to increase range of motion.

Stretching can be performed at the start, middle, or end of a workout. Studies have shown that an active warm-up reduces the resistance to stretch, by increasing the temperature of the muscle you are increasing the elastic properties or the ability to stretch. Some typical warm-ups include walking, jogging, stationary cycling, and/or elliptical and rowing machine work.

Proper breathing is important when performing all exercises there is no exception when it comes to flexibility training. Using correct breathing techniques can help reduce stress and allow you to move into a position that is more comfortable. As a general rule of thumb, you should exhale slowly as you move to the end point of the stretch and inhale as you return to the starting position.

Posture is crucial when it comes to performing a stretch to ensure that you are targeting the current muscle groups. So when stretching here are a few things to remember, maintain a neutral position of the spine, try to keep shoulders back and away from ears, and hips should stay in a neutral and level position.

Here are a few basic stretches that you can perform at home…

Standing hip flexor stretch: Stand up straight with a neutral spine and keep hands of hips. Step forward with left foot into a lung position; right heel maybe elevated to facilitate this movement. Then, shift hips forward and maintain this position, feeling tension not PAIN in hips, quadriceps, and buttocks. Repeat with the opposite side.

Seated hamstring stretch: Sit upright on the floor with both legs extended and hands resting on top of quadriceps. Slowly walk the hands forward toward the feet, keeping the chest lifted.

Triceps Stretch: Facing forward, bring right arm up, bend from the elbow, and drop the hand behind the head. Try to reach left shoulder with right hand. Bring right hand to left shoulder and gently pull left elbow rightward to increase tension on arm. Repeat on opposite arm.

Chest Stretch: Place extended arms against an open doorway and lean forward, feeling gentle tension develop across the chest. Repeat on opposite side.

Water Aerobics… Great Workout – Less Impact

How do you get a great workout with less impact on your joints and muscles? Water Aerobics is what it sounds like, Aerobics in the water. You can make it a hard workout or an easy workout just like with any other workout. If you cycle and need to take it easy on a day you simply pedal a little easier with lighter tension or if you want a more intense workout increase the tension and pedal harder/faster. Water Aerobics is similar in the way you push yourself. Did you have a hard weight bearing workout the day before then you can make water aerobics a bit easier by moving a little slower with more stretching movements. If you feel you need to work harder then work harder, move faster and utilize the resistance of the water for a more intense workout. Another important part of water aerobics is the enthusiasm of the instructor. If your instructor is moving slow with little energy typically the people in class follow suite. For myself if I am feeling low on energy I say to myself “Don’t let your students down. They are here for a workout. Show them what you’re made of, don’t be a slacker!” After the workout is over my energy level has risen and I feel great. My students tell me “that was great!” People that are new to this type of exercise are often surprised at how hard they worked out. “I didn’t expect this to be so intense”. So, come in on Tuesday and Thursday from 8:30 – 9:30 give it a try, you just might surprise yourself.

How much protein do you need?

Protein requirements depend upon factors including body weight, body composition, rate of growth, physical activity level, type of physical activity, adequacy of energy and carbohydrate intake, and illness or injury.

Research indicates that protein needs for athletes are greater than 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight recommended for sedentary people.

Endurance exercise alters protein metabolism and increases amino acid oxidation leading to increased protein needs. The increase in need is dependent upon the intensity and duration of the exercise, with higher intensity and longer bouts of exercise associated with increased protein needs. Research supports a range in protein needs from 1.2 to 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram body weight for endurance athletes such as marathoners.

Individuals such as body builders, who are using resistance training to increase muscle mass, require 1.4 to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This increased need for protein, however, is much less than what most of these athletes assume it to be. In addition, these increased needs are easily met through traditional food sources.

Adolescent athletes involved in high-intensity physical activity must meet the nutrition needs of growth combined with physical activity. Their protein needs vary from 1.8-2.0 grams per kilogram body weight.

Protein supplements consist of either whole protein, such as egg, milk or soy protein, or individual amino acids or combinations of individual amino acids. Whole protein supplements do not offer an advantage over food sources of protein, but may be more convenient. Powders tend to be more concentrated protein sources than pills. Energy bars are most convenient and can offer a significant amount of protein. Instant breakfast type powder mixes offer a cheaper alternative to specially marketed protein powders.

Most athletes are meeting or exceeding their protein requirements through diet. There are, however, some athletes at risk for inadequate protein. These individuals are typically restricting caloric intake in order to achieve a low body weight and generally include wrestlers, gymnasts, dancers, and runners. Inadequate protein intake increases an athlete’s risk for injury and chronic fatigue.

Many Americans — athletes and nonathletes — are meeting or exceeding their protein needs.
Research does not support protein intake greater than 2.0 grams per kilogram body weight. High levels of protein can lead to increased water loss because the body excretes water to dispose of urea, a substance formed in the breakdown of protein. Water loss coupled with the fact that most athletes loose a great amount of water through sweat, can lead to dehydration. An excess of protein can also take calcium away from bones, thus predisposing one for osteoporosis.

Example of Protein Needs
Person/Activity Protein Needed
120 pound sedentary female 44 grams protein per day
120 pound female marathoner 65-76 grams protein per day
120 pound female body builder 76-98 grams protein per day
180 pound sedentary male 65 grams protein per day
180 pound male marathoner 98-114 grams protein per day
180 pound male body builder 114-147 grams protein per day

Meat, Fish, Poultry
Lean beef, chicken, turkey breast: 1 oz, 8 Grams of Protein
Beef 3 oz. hamburger, roast beef, 21 Grams of Protein
Poultry:3 oz. grilled chicken sandwich, 21 Grams of Protein
Fish: 1 oz, 7 Grams of Protein
Fish: 3 oz. tuna sandwich, 21 Grams of Protein
Lunch meat:1 oz, 5 Grams of Protein
Eggs: 1, 6 Grams of Protein

Beans, nuts
Kidney beans: 1/2 cup, 9 Grams of Protein
Navy beans: 1/2 cup, 7 Grams of Protein
Garbanzo beans (chick peas): 1/2 cup, 6 Grams of Protein
Tofu (soybeans): 2 oz, 5 Grams of Protein
Peanuts: 1/4 cup, 9 Grams of Protein
Peanut Butter: 2 tbsp, 8 Grams of Protein
Nuts: 1 oz (handful), 5-7 Grams of Protein

Dairy
Low-fat cottage cheese: 1/2 cup, 13 Grams of Protein
Milk (whole, skim): 1 cup (8 ounce glass), 8 Grams of Protein
Yogurt (whole, skim): 1 cup (1 8 ounce container), 8 Grams of Protein
Cheddar cheese: 1 oz, 7 Grams of Protein
Ice cream, frozen yogurt: 1/2 cup, 4 Grams of Protein
Processed cheese (American): 2 oz, 13 Grams of Protein

Breads, cereals, grains
Macaroni and cheese: 1/2 cup, 9 Grams of Protein
Pasta : 1 cup cooked, 8 Grams of Protein
Bagel: 2 oz, 6 Grams of Protein
Raisin bran: 1 oz (2/3 cup), 3 Grams of Protein
Rice: 1 cup cooked, 3 Grams of Protein
Bread 1 slice: 2 Grams of Protein

Vegetables
Baked potato: 1 large, 4 Grams of Protein
Peas, green: 1/2 cup, 4 Grams of Protein
Corn: 1/2 cup, 2 Grams of Protein
Lettuce: 1/4 head, 1 Gram of Protein
Carrot: 1 large, 1 Gram of Protein

Fruits
Banana, orange, apple: 1 medium, 1 Gram of Protein

Pilates Exercise of the Month: Single Leg Circles

Purpose: To improve flexibility and range of motion at your hip joint and challenge abdominals.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the floor.
  2. Press your shoulders and arms (palms down) into the mat and keep your neck long.
  3. Straighten one leg to the ceiling and turn it out slightly from the hip.
  4. Draw a circle with your leg. That is, move your leg across the center of your body, then lower it, bring it around the other side and up; pause at the top.
  5. Do not let your leg swing too far right or left (outside your hip joint). The motion of the leg should not cause you to roll off to one side or arch your back.
  6. Repeat 5-8 times on each leg, inhaling as you circle your leg, exhaling as you pause. Then, reverse direction.

Checklist:

  • Anchor your pelvis and do not shrug your shoulders.
  • Avoid lifting your chin and crunching the back of your neck.
  • Remember to draw your navel in and up, hollowing out your midsection.

Goal: Remain very still in your upper body, keep pelvis level and control the circling movement of your leg from your core.

Progression: Straighten your floor leg (not bent anymore). And, make your circles of the straight leg a little bigger each time if you can keep your back and pelvis still.

Note: If any popping of hip occurs, bend your knee and draws the circles with the knee bent.

Visualization: Imagine drawing circles on the ceiling with your leg.

Partial Range of Motion is Way Easier and Gets You Stronger Faster Right? Wrong!

At most health facilities in the world if you were to look out on the weight room floor I’m sure of two things… people will be doing curls, and people will be doing partial range of motion. Usually these go hand in hand, but people can do partial range of motion (ROM) in many different exercises; the most common being pushups, squat, & pullups/chinups.

I’m sure many of you have great reasons for only doing half of the motion; starting back in the 80’s some research even came out to say that you can have the same benefits from doing half reps as the full rep. Many people say that their bodies react to it better, it’s safer on their joints, they are stronger and can workout harder etc. etc. Well let me tell you what the science says about partial range of motion exercises:

  1. Partial range of motion can be used to gain strength & size, especially if you have plateaued. They go on to state that it is not a workout regiment you do every day, more of a once every two weeks and it must be accompanied by a full range of motion exercise using the same muscle groups within the same workout. Partial ROM is also supposed to be utilized AFTER a base strength has been achieved!
  2. The strongest muscle fiber is a fully elongated (stretched) and fully hydrated. If we take that first concept, a fully elongated muscle fiber means working a muscle through the full ROM. If you do partial reps, you are strengthening only one half of the muscle fibers. Let’s take pushups, if you just push yourself up halfway off the floor, or only lower your body halfway down…what happens when you fall and need to catch your body with that muscle fiber that is never worked. My guess would be injury. This may not happen right away, but I guarantee if all you ever work is partial ROM severe injury will plague you at some point.
  3. What happens with muscle fibers that are continually contracted but never stretched or relaxed? They become very tight and shorten up. A prime example of this would be with the bicep curl. For those of you who curl the weight up to your shoulders and then as you lower it shoot your elbows backward keeping a large bend in the arm, you will end up with locked elbows. Ever see those people who cannot straighten their arms out all the way? Well your bicep can actually fuse to your arm if you do too many partial ROM exercises and never incorporate straightening your arms all the way. The only way to have this fixed once it happens is surgery where they have to tear the muscle off the humerus… doesn’t sound like too much fun to me! (Women are allowed to have a soft elbow, meaning an ever so slight bend in their arm, when doing curls because of a hyperextension issue only with females).
  4. Now the big question, squats…should someone go below parallel? Isn’t it bad on the knees? Here is my opinion on this topic; since the science goes back and forth with some research stating it is bad on the knees & others stating it is just fine. One…when we were born could we squat our hips below our knees? If you are ever in the SAC go check out the day care; I bet you a dollar you will see kids squat down their diapers below their knees to pick up toys! Two…look at other countries like China and Japan, everyone there sits with their knees below their hips to do everything. You will see people of all ages reading newspapers, eating, holding a conversation sitting in a deep squat. So if we were born able to do it and other counties do it (and they have a lot less knee/hip issues than the USA) I would assume it would be ok to perform a deep squat, but even smarter to utilize a trainer to help you get going first.
  5. Are there exercises it is ok to do partial ROM? Yes there are, but for the general population who workout in the gym, there is no need for them to do them; and if you really want to know what they are, come find me ill let you know which ones. A hint is they are usually associated with the shoulder complex!

All in all, if I was to recommend someone do partial ROM it would be to get over that plateau in strength, but I would still make them do that same movement full ROM within the same workout. Women may have a soft bend during curls to prevent hyperextension of their elbows; other than that there is no solid evidence of any full ROM exercise (to my knowledge) being a safety concern. If you have questions about your form on an exercise, grab a PFT in a red shirt and ask them to check out your form; we would gladly assist you in correcting any unsafe movements!

What does not kill you might still really hurt you badly.

Have you ever heard someone mention that “what does not kill you makes you stronger”? While that statement may hold true for some situations in life, it is far from universal. Something that does not kill you may still reduce your overall quality of life. Putting your body through regular unhealthful situation does not build immunity to those behaviors; it reduces your overall quality of life.

I often hear it expressed anecdotally that reduced symptoms associated with unhealthful situations must mean an improvement in health (for example, getting used to cigarette smoke, building a tolerance to alcohol or dairy products). Actually, what is happening is a lowering of your overall quality of life – or, you are getting used to feeling badly.

Taking care of your body through appropriate rest, reduced stress, eating healthfully, and regular exercise can redefine your definition of what it means to feel good. Do not accept regular illness and injury; rise above it.