I am always being asked by clients how much weight they should use during their strength training sessions. When I first start training with someone, I err on the side of caution and use lighter weights so they can master their form before I increase their weights. Here are four signs that will let you know you need to increase your weight...
1. If the current weight you are lifting isn't challenging, it's time to increase your weight. Remember, the physiological benefits from strength training only come when you are pushing your body out of its comfort zone. You need to make sure your strength sessions are difficult, otherwise you aren't reaping the body benefits.
2. If you can do a million repetitions, it's time to increase your weight. Muscle fatigue and muscle failure are your goal. If you're doing more than 15 repetitions and are not feeling tired, you need to increase your weight. Don't just go through the motions, make sure you're getting the most out of your gym time.
3. If you have been lifting for a while and have never changed your weight, it's time to increase your weight. The point of strength training is to gradually overload your muscles so they have to adapt and get stronger. If you are still lifting the same weight you started with, you are not progressing, which will result in a training plateau which will stop you from achieving your goals.
4. If your body has plateaued, it's time to increase your weight. Don't let you body become accustomed to the demands you place on it. Always keep your muscles working hard and guessing what comes next in order to get quicker results.
...Now that you've determined that you need to increase the weight you're lifting, how much do you increase it? A good rule of thumb is to start your weight increase at 10%. Anything more than 10% makes you much more prone to injury! For example, if you're currently lifting 50 pounds, you would increase your weight by 5 pounds so that you are now lifting 55 pounds (10% of 50 pounds = 5 pounds). Also remember: Proper form is more important that lifting heavy! Always, always, ALWAYS lift using good form. If your form is compromised because your weights are too heavy, lighten your load until you can keep your perfect form during the lift.
It is always hard to start something new. There is always apprehension about beginning a new workout, new nutrition plan, or new activity that can either make or break you. I came across a great picture on the internet that pictorally describes the process of ignoring, being curious about, attempting, and completing something new. Try hanging this over the light switch in your bedroom. At night before you turn on the light, ask yourself where you are on the staircase, and more importantly, what you can do tomorrow to get to the next flight...
With the holidays quickly approaching, food is "weighing" heavily on people's minds. Okay, that was a pretty terrible joke, but it is true. More people are worried about what they eat during the holiday season because they don't want to gain those dreaded holiday pounds. Instead of focusing on counting calories or trying to abstain from all the delicious food spread out in front you you this year, try this: Choose healthier recipes for your holiday favorites, and control your portions.
Shape magazine has put together a list of five favorite Thanksgiving dishes, and came up with healthier recipes so that you are still able to enjoy your favorites without the added fat. For example, green bean casserole can contain LOTS of sodium and fat, but their suggested recipe only 90 calories and 1 gram of fat per serving (3/4 cup)!
Click here to see this and other great healthy Thanksgiving recipes!
First and foremost, I want to apologize that it has been a while since I've thrown a QuickFit Tip out for you. I've been ridiculously busy lately, which is good I guess, but sometimes I tend to throw a little too much on my plate. When I get swamped I tend to put off things that I dub as "non-essentials", and unfortunately, sometimes exercise gets thrown into the mix as well. I think to myself, "What's one more day of no workout when I can get a handful of work/life/family responsibilities taken care of?" Well, one missed workout turns into two, which turns into four...and so on. On that note...
Here are 11 Tips for Exercising Regularly. We all know that exercise helps you get through those most stressful times in life, so cutting it out will probably do more harm than good in the long run. So let's both not put off 'til tomorrow what can be done today! I'm going to go strap on my running shoes and hit the pavement...!!
Alot of gym patrons swear by treadmills, ellipticals, and other cardio machines. They will come in a few days a week after work, hop on a cardio machine for 30-60 minutes and then head home for dinner. But they're missing a HUGE part of an active, healthy lifestyle: Strength training.
Strength training uses progressively heavier resistance in order to strengthen the muscles and bones. Strength training can also be referred to as weight lifting, weight training, body sculpting, toning, body building, and resistance training. A regular, structured strength program increases the size and strength of the muscle fibers, and also strengthens the tendons, ligaments, and bones. These can all lead to a positive impact on your physical fitness, appearance, and metabolism, while reducing the risk of injury and decreasing joint and muscle pain.
Without consistent strength training, muscle size and strength decline with age. An inactive person loses about half a pound of muscle every year after age 20. After age 60, this rate of loss doubles! The good news is, muscle loss is not inevitable. With regular strength training, muscle mass can be preserved and rebuilt throughout the lifespan.
Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your strength program:
- Check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.
- Find a nationally certified professional with a strong background in movement science to help you create a program that specifically fits your needs and abilities.
- Always warm up for at least 5-10 minutes before strength training.
- Proper form is essential for safety and effectiveness. Start with light weights as you perfect your form and get accustomed to strength training. Gradually increase the amount of weight you lift over time, by no more than 10% each week.
- Always cool down at least 5-10 minutes at the end of your workout.
- Vary your exercise program to avoid boredom and plateaus. Changing your routine every 6-8 weeks is crucial to keeping your body/muscles surprised and constantly adapting. They'll have to work harder, you'll be challenged, and you'll burn more calories and build more lean muscle in the process.
- Machines are best for beginners or individuals rehabilitating an injury. They usually have detailed instructions and a picture on them, plus they show which muscles you are working. They are set up to put your body in proper form and isolate the right muscles.
- Free weights are more advanced. After you’ve had a good foundation with machines (or body weight exercises) you can move into free weights. When using free weights, form becomes even more important because there is nothing to support you or make you do it properly. Lift in front of a mirror and use the proper benches for support. Always watch the alignment of the joints and their relationships: shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles should be aligned. Your back should remain flat and your abs should be contracted to help support the lower back. Have a trainer assist you and have someone there to spot you if you are lifting heavy weights.
- Don’t hold your breath, which can be dangerous (it increases blood pressure and can cause lightheadedness, for example). Exhale fully and forcefully on the exertion phase—usually the phase where you are lifting the weight. Inhale deeply on the easier phase—usually when returning to the starting position. Try to keep this rhythm throughout every set. In the beginning, it will take some concentration, but after a while, it will become habit.
Remember, muscle is metabolically-active tissue. This means that the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism is while at rest. Which means that strength training is an important component of weight loss and weight maintenance, so be sure to include it in your exercise routine!
I am all for daily self-improvement. And you should be too. Don't let excuses or imagined boundaries get in the way of you being the best person you can be. It is empowering to get out of whatever rut you're stuck in and become a better you every day. Here are 15 Ways to Get Unstuck and Change Your Life for the Better. Master these, and reaching your goals will be a piece of cake. Remember, "In order to change your life, you must be willing to change yourself."
Think you can't eat healthy because you're on a budget? Think again! Sparkpeople.com has put together a fantasitc visual representation of what you may be spending your money on now, and the healthy food you could be getting instead. Check out their article, "$20 Food Showdown: Fast Food vs. Healthy Food." No more excuses--healthy food can be affordable, and with a little planning and some self-restraint you will be able to eat healthier regardless of your budget contstraints!
My clients are always asking me how much water they need to drink. Most of us know that we need to drink water every day, and some of us even know that it is recommended that we drink about eight 8-ounce glasses per day of that wonderful clear liquid.
But have you ever stopped to think about WHY we need to drink water? Our brain and body need water to function. Without it, we would shrivel up like raisins and die. We are constantly losing water, even just by living and we need to replace it! For example, we lose water by breathing--if you have ever 'hahhh'-ed onto a window you have seen first-hand the moisture we lose through our breath.
For more fun facts about water, dehydration, and some helpful hints to stay hydrated, check out The Water Cure (http://www.watercure.com/faq.html) while enjoying a tall, cool drink of water!