Month: September 2013

Just How Important is Exercise for Western Society?

Recently I reviewed the National Center for Health Statistics data on the major causes of death in Western society. It was not surprising to find 4 of the top 7 were indications of chronic lifestyle-related conditions; heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes among the top 7 listed.  It is interesting to note, only 100 years ago, the leading causes of death were primarily infectious diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, diarrhea, liver disease. As improvements in medicine and health care advanced, the incidence of the diseases reduced, only to be replaced by the choice of unhealthy lifestyles.

I bring this up because the majority of the unhealthy lifestyle related causes are preventable. According to The Healthy People 2010 review, physical activity or exercise, nutrition and stress management are considered the priority to optimal health and wellness and primary changes for longevity.  Data collected in the Healthy People review suggest that modest changes in physical activity  patterns and nutrition can prevent more than 400, 000 death annually! Modest changes in physical activity and increases in exercise are a small price to pay for illness prevention and premature causes of death.  Keep yourself healthy and well by continuing to incorporate exercise as part of your lifestyle.

 

For tips or more information on how to make changes to your exercise routine, please feel free to contact Kendra Kainz.

It’s Just Physics

By Personal Fitness Trainer Amber Walz Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

Physics is the science of matter and energy, intertwined with facets of everything that makes up the physical world. Force is proportional to the mass of something multiplied by the acceleration (f=ma). Every exercise you do is going to relate to how much force needs to be applied to overcome the inertia of the mass in order to create acceleration.

Gravity is fundamental to understanding kinesthetic principles that govern our bodies. Gravity is pulling on our bodies relative to where the fulcrum (pivot point) is located; usually this is at a joint. As an example, when performing a deadlift the fulcrum is at the pelvis and gravity is acting at the longest length of the lever (your head), so you would need to determine how much force would be need to be exerted to move whatever the weight is, or adjust how close the weight in your arms is relative to the body. The use of mechanical levers is used advantageously in the gym in equipment design like pulley systems and can be used in seesaw type lever mechanics by manipulating the lever arm so that you can maneuver a heavier weight at the opposite side of the fulcrum. This can be seen in dollies and tools like wrenches.

The rate of gravity at terminal velocity in free fall is 9.8m/s2. This gives us an understanding of how fast a weight will fall toward the ground once we have lifted it, how this will increase or decrease the difficulty of an exercise dependent on what position we are doing it in, and if we jump, fall, or throw something, what distance it will cover, in what time and with what force. We encounter another force that effects movement and that is friction, of greatest relevance, air resistance. A good example of the effect of air resistance is when we are running. The mechanical advantage is if there is less surface area for the air to hit. In this way, if we bend our knees and elbows at 90 degrees, we reduce the amount of surface area affected by air resistance. So, the study of kinesthetic mechanics dictates our movement through the atmosphere and has to account for both gravity and friction.

Thermodynamics is the conversion of thermal energy to mechanical energy, or heat energy congruent with work input versus work output. Though the first law of thermodynamics states energy can neither be created nor destroyed, complete conservation of energy determining work output does not biologically equate. In other words, energy that should be accounted for degrades, a quantity defined as entropy. The human body has about a 25% efficiency rate with heat energy being of greatest loss. How much we intake should be calculated based on this principle with the understanding of unaccounted for loss through entropy. Heat is a measurement of energy and temperature is an average measurement of energy. Temperature is an important factor when you are working out that determines if it will take more energy when it’s cold to keep your body temperature at homeostasis, or loss of energy through sweat when it’s hot to keep your body temperature at homeostasis. The design of sports clothing is specific to thermal insulation, reduction of water absorption (wick away), and compression for added support in susceptible areas (compression socks/ tights/ sports bras).

Amber WalzIf we are to better control our exercise experience, we can use physics to determine: how to best lift a weight to produce a specific goal, what food intake is needed for a specific workout, and how to best account for weather conditions and terrain. If you have any questions about how physics can be related to exercise contact Amber Walz.

Audit Your Training Program

By Tom Sheriff, Personal Fitness Trainer Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

More and more frequently I am asked by coaches, friends and fellow gym-rats to review their strength training program. I am always happy to do so because I feel that most programs lack a simple evaluation, monthly or yearly, to ensure effective and efficient progress is being made. The following is an explanation of how to perform a simple audit of your training program.

The first question you need to answer is “Am I following a program, or am I wondering around doing whatever I feel like doing?” If you are just doing whatever you feel like, simply proceed as usual but for the next two weeks record what you are doing each day. At the end of the two weeks you can apply my auditing techniques to your workouts and go from there.

Once you have your program laid out, the first and most important step to auditing a program is to look for “gaps.” Make sure you are doing the fundamental human movements:

• Push (Bench press, military, dips etc.)

• Pull (Pull-ups, rows etc.)

• Squat (Back squat, front squat, overhead etc.)

• Hinge (Dead lifts, good-mornings, RDL’s, etc.)

If any of the mentioned movements are missing, there are gaps in your program.

Next I look for the push to pull ratio. To do this simply count the number of reps you do for each movement in a week then find the ratio of pushes to pulls.
Example:

Push: 300 reps/week

Pull: 100 reps/week

In this example the push to pull ratio of 3:1 is way off (but very common). A ratio of 1:1 would be better and ideally you would have a 1:2 ratio of pushes to pulls. The correct ratio ensures balance and promotes good posture.

I also look for balance top to bottom because people tend to slack in the leg department. If you bench press 315 pounds but shudder at the thought of a body weight squat you need to check your priorities.

Thirdly I look at how these movements are being accomplished. The main lifts of all my athletes and clients are considered core and structural lifts. This means they recruit one or more large muscle areas, involve two or more primary joints, and emphasize loading the spine directly or indirectly. If you perform all your exercises sitting or laying on a machine you are not getting the real-world application that exercises should give you.
A back squat will do a whole lot more for you than a leg press or leg extension because it more closely replicates movements you perform throughout the day.

Lastly I look for the purpose and progression of each exercise. If you cannot think of the real reason you are doing an exercise, there is good chance there isn’t one. Program progression is a topic that warrants a separate discussion but you need to make sure there is some rhyme and reason to how your program is moving forward.

I hope you take the time to really evaluate your workouts because you deserve to make progress. Just remember to look for the gaps! If you would like your training program audited please contact Tom Sheriff.

End of Summer Blues

By Personal Fitness Trainer Adriana Brown, Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

 

Well, it’s coming; fall is right around the corner.  Soon, gone are the mornings of birds chirping, sun shining, and flip flops.  Now comes the hard part, the continual early wake up in the dark, wrapped in your ski jacket, de-fogging your car.  Not such a pretty picture I know.  This is the killer for many workout routines.  In the summer time it’s easy to have motivation to get up early and get your workout in before work but once the cold hits your warm bed talks louder and louder to you.  How do we avoid the bad weather slacking?  A few easy steps and hopefully we’ll stay the course!

 

  1. GOALS!  Set them now, set at least one goal for the next 3-6 months.  Make them small and achievable but make them something that means something to you.  Remember that Mexico vacation in December?  Now is the time to stay strong and continue to work towards that fit healthy body.  Maybe you just want to do the Tough Mudder in September, continue your training and you’ll make it through with flying colors and a smile on your face!  No matter what your goals are big or small, make yourself accountable and continue on your well earned path to success rain or shine!

 

  1. GET A WORKOUT PARTNER OR TRAINER!  The number one way to make sure you get out of bed is to have someone waiting for you at the gym.  Whether it is your friend from work, your cousin, or someone you are paying, having a breathing person waiting you at the gym will push you to make the same sacrifice as someone else.  It’s so much more fun to workout with someone else, you can push one another, you can do more partner exercises, you can both bring strength and weaknesses to the table, but best of all you can keep each other accountable.  If you are still ditching your best friend 2 days out of 3 maybe it’s time to pay someone to keep you on track.  By hiring a trainer not only do you get fitness expertise, great effective workouts, but you also get someone forcing you out of bed!

 

 

  1. MAKE A DEAL!  Waking up early not working for you?  Make yourself a deal.  Two days a week you go early to the gym and two days a week you do it after work.  If after a month you’ve found yourself only making two workouts a week take a step back and see just what is and isn’t working for your workout times.  If you just aren’t a morning person maybe 6AM isn’t going to work for you.  Then find yourself a better time.  Whatever fits and whatever gets you in and accomplishing your fitness goals!

 

  1. GOOD SLEEP!  Good sleep makes everything better and easier.  You are more alert, your digestive system works better, your immune system is stronger, you think better, and best of all you feel refreshed and ready to tackle the day.  Make a bed time, stick to it.  Routine at home is just as important as routine in the weight room.  Resist the urge to stay up late for your favorite show, an extra 30-60 minutes of sleep could be your missing link between feeling half sick all the time and feeling like you can run a marathon!

 

 

  1. WATER!  Drink it, drink lots of it.  Replace one of your 4 cups of coffee with water.  The more water you have in your system the better your insides function, the better you feel.  It’s so easy to do so DO IT!

 

These are a few simple ways to keep you going when the going gets wet.  Bring on the dark and the dreary; you’ll be feeling like a ball of sunshine when you finish a tough workout and you are proud of what you’ve done.  You didn’t work that hard all summer to let it go now!  Hang in there and work hard!