Diets Don't Work! Weight Management Programs Do!

  • By Jason Keigher
  • 01 Aug, 2016
Many Americans view a healthy lifestyle as something difficult to attain--and something that's not much fun. Traditional diets have taught us that to lose weight, we must count calories, keep track of everything we eat, and deprive ourselves by limiting the amount--and kinds--of foods we eat. Diets tell us exactly what and how much food to eat, regardless of our preferences and individual relationships with hunger and satiety. Dieting can help us lose weight (fat, muscle, and water) in the short term but is so unnatural and so unrealistic that it can never become a lifestyle that we can live with, let alone enjoy!

While very few diets teach healthy low-fat shopping, cooking, and dining-out strategies, many offer unrealistic recommendations and encourage health-threatening restrictions. Even more important, diets don't teach us the safest, most effective ways to exercise; they don't teach us how to deal with our cravings and our desires, or how to attend to our feelings of hunger and fullness. Eventually, we become tired of the complexity, the hunger, the lack of flavor, the lack of flexibility, the lack of energy, and the feeling of deprivation. We quit our diets and gain back the weight we've lost; sometimes we gain even more!

Each time we go on another diet of deprivation, the weight becomes more difficult to lose, and we become even more frustrated and discouraged. Then we eat more and exercise less, causing ourselves more frustration, discouragement, depression. Soon we are in a vicious cycle. We begin to ask ourselves, "Why bother?" We begin to blame ourselves for having no will power when what we really need is clear, scientifically-based information that will help us develop a healthier lifestyle we can live with for the rest of our lives.

Deliberate restriction of food intake in order to lose weight or to prevent weight gain, known as dieting, is the path that millions of people all over the world are taking in order to reach a desired body weight or appearance. Preoccupation with body shape, size, and weight creates an unhealthy lifestyle of emotional and physical deprivation. Diets take control away from us.

Many of us who diet get caught in a "yo-yo" cycle that begins with low self-acceptance and results in structured eating and living because we lack trust in our body and are unwilling to listen and adhere to our body's signals of hunger and fullness. On diets, we distrust and ignore internal signs of appetite, hunger, and our need to be physically and psychologically satisfied. Instead, we depend on diet plans, measured portions, and a prescribed frequency for eating.

As a result, many of us have lost the ability to eat in response to our physical needs; we experience feelings of deprivation, then binge, and finally terminate our "health" program. This in turn leads to guilt, defeat, weight gain, low self-esteem, and then we're back to the beginning of the yo-yo diet cycle. Rather than making us feel better about ourselves, diets set us up for failure and erode our self-esteem.

The attitudes and practices acquired through years of dieting are likely to result in a body weight and size obsession, low self-esteem, poor nutrition and excessive or inadequate exercise. Weight loss from following a rigid diet is usually temporary. Most diets are too drastic to maintain; they are unrealistic and unpleasant; they are physically and emotionally stressful. And most of us just resume our old eating and activity patterns. Diets control us; we are not in control. People who try to live by diet lists and rules learn little or nothing about proper nutrition and how to enjoy their meals, physical activity, and a healthy lifestyle. No one can realistically live in the diet mode for the rest of their life, depriving themselves of the true pleasures of healthy eating and activity.

We Don't Fail Diets; They Fail Us!
Decades of research have shown that diets, both self-initiated and professionally-led, are ineffective at producing long-term health and weight loss (or weight control). When your diet fails to keep the weight off, you may say to yourself, "If only I didn't love food so much . . . If I could just exercise more often . . . If I just had more will power." The problem is not personal weakness or lack of will power. Only 5 percent of people who go on diets are successful. Please understand that we are not failing diets; diets are failing us.

The reason 95 percent of all traditional diets fail is simple. When you go on a low-calorie diet, your body thinks you are starving; it actually becomes more efficient at storing fat by slowing down your metabolism. When you stop this unrealistic eating plan, your metabolism is still slow and inefficient that you gain the weight back even faster, even though you may still be eating less than you were before you went on the diet.

In addition, low-calorie diets cause you to lose both muscle and fat in equal amounts. However, when you eventually gain back the weight, it is all fat and not muscle, causing your metabolism to slow down even more. Now you have extra weight, a less healthy body composition, and a less attractive physique.

Diets require you to sacrifice by being hungry; they don't allow you to enjoy the foods you love. This does not teach you habits which you can maintain after the diet is over. Most diet programs force you to lower your caloric intake to dangerously low levels. The common theory is that if you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. But when you eat fewer calories than your body needs to maintain its life-sustaining activities, you're actually losing muscle in addition to fat. Your body breaks down its own muscles to provide the needed energy for survival.

Traditional diets which use calorie restriction to produce weight loss are no longer appropriate. Most weight-loss programs measure success solely in terms of the number of pounds lost per weight loss attempt. Diets don't take into account the quality of the process used to achieve that weight loss or the very small likelihood of sustained weight loss. For long-term good health, you need to move away from low-calorie diets and focus on enjoyable physical activity and good nutrition. Exercising regularly and eating lean-supporting calories, protein and carbohydrates, and reducing fat-supporting calories will not only help you look and feel better, it will also significantly reduce your risk of disease.

America spends billions of dollars on different ways to fix people. If we focused more on prevention and on improving our day-to-day behaviors, we could cut health care costs in half. Contrary to popular belief, leading a healthy lifestyle doesn't have to be difficult; it doesn't have to painful or time-consuming. Making gradual, simple changes in your diet and physical activity will make great improvements in your health and well-being, and they can drastically reduce your risk of disease.

If your weight management program is to be a success, everything you eat and every exercise you do must be a pleasurable experience. If you're not enjoying yourself, it is unlikely that you'll continue your program. It's that simple. These small, gradual changes are not painful or overwhelming but rather the core of an exciting lifestyle that you will look forward to.

Take the frustration, guilt, and deprivation out of weight management, and allow yourself to adopt gradual, realistic changes into your life that will make healthy eating and physical activity a permanent pleasure. You will soon discover what your body is capable of and begin to look, act, and feel your very best. Good luck and enjoy all the wonderful benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle.
By Jason Keigher 30 Aug, 2016
Almost any form of exercise will stimulate some degree of strength and muscle development. Unfortunately, misconceptions, myths, and misunderstandings plague the fitness industry, especially in regard to strength training. There is a huge attrition rate among those starting a strength training program primarily because most people are not taught the principles essential for a safe and effective program.

This article is part five of a five part series discussing the very important principles and guidelines of a safe and effective strength training program. This article discusses exactly how to avoid the common mistake of overtraining. The previous article, part four of this five part series, discusses the importance of using the right amount of weight and number of repititions for each set, so you can achieve the results you desire. The following exercise guidelines are extremely important for your safety and the effectiveness of your strength training program.

Avoid Overtraining
If you feel burnt out, weak, and/or sore, you are probably overtraining. Not providing your muscles with enough rest will often prevent you from making improvements. Training the wrong muscle groups on consecutive days will also counteract your good results. Doing too many sets and exercises per muscle group will also cause overtraining.

Remember that weightlifting, especially in an intense program, produces tissue microtrauma, those tiny tears in the muscles that temporarily decrease strength and cause varying degrees of muscle soreness. It is absolutely necessary to provide ample rest time between successive training sessions. Muscles generally require about 48 hours for the resting and rebuilding process before you work them again.

You should never train the same muscle groups on two or more days in a row (abdominals are the exception). Hypothetically then, you would do your chest, shoulders, triceps, and abdominals on Monday; on Tuesday you would train your legs, back, biceps, and abdominals; you would take Wednesday off to give all your muscle groups extra rest; on Thursday you'd do chest, shoulders, triceps, and abdominals again; and on Friday you'd do legs, back, biceps, and abdominals again. This would allow two days (48 hours) of rest for each muscle between training days.

Those of you who train very intensely, would benefit greatly by taking even more rest time between sessions. A week does not have to be limited to only seven days--you can expand it to eight, nine, or even ten days. Think about it: why not? Day one could consist of chest, shoulders, triceps, (pushing muscles) and abdominals on Monday. Take Tuesday off. On day two, Wednesday, the routine could consist of legs, back, biceps, (pulling muscles) and abdominals. Take Thursday off. On Friday you do chest, shoulders, triceps, and abdominals again--and so on. This is especially important when mixing pushing and pulling muscles for different sessions. For example, if you train your chest on Monday and then triceps the next day, your triceps never really get a complete rest because they are indirectly trained with your chest on Monday and directly trained on Tuesday. But if you split up chest/shoulders/triceps or back/biceps, working them on different days, you can implement this eight day program for maximum muscle resting time. Remember: always allow your muscles a chance to grow, especially when you are feeling overtrained. If needed, give yourself an extra day off to grow. Never feel guilty about skipping a workout. That extra rest could be exactly what your body needs.

Many people make the mistake of doing too many sets per exercise, and/or doing too many exercises per muscle group. It's very common for people who want great muscle size and strength gains to simply do too much for each muscle group and overtrain to the point where they do more harm than good. A common weightlifting recommendation is to do at least four sets for each exercise and at least four exercises for each muscle group. This idea that "more is better" is a big misconception in the strength training industry and is recommended in many "muscle magazines" and other sources.

But when you see Mr. or Ms. Olympia in muscle magazines describing their workouts of four to five sets per exercise and four to five exercises per muscle group, do not be fooled into thinking that if you want their results you have to do what they do. These are professional body builders, quite likely to be on steroids; they can get away with these very intense long programs because their muscles are able to rebuild very quickly. If you are not on steroids--and for the sake of your health I hope you are not--your muscles will not be able to rebuild themselves quickly enough to make gains.

For each of the large muscle groups in the body such as back, chest, shoulders, quadriceps, and hamstrings, two to four exercises for each muscle is enough. For the smaller muscle groups such as biceps, calves, trapezius, etc. one to three exercises are enough. Because your back, for example, has specific muscles that need to be isolated, it is important that of the three exercises you perform, you do one that primarily targets each of the three areas: upper-middle back, lats., and lower back.

When you're doing two to four exercises for each muscle group, make sure you don't duplicate movements of specific muscle groups. For example, it makes no sense to do three sets of Bench Press using a barbell and then do three sets of Bench Press using dumbbells or Push-ups. Each of these exercises requires exactly the same movement and works the same specific muscle. Instead, it would make much more sense to do bench press for overall middle chest (either barbell, dumbbell, or machine); do incline bench press for upper chest; and do dips for lower-outer chest.

One point--maybe the most important of all for ongoing strength training programs--that is absolutely imperative to understand and implement into your training regimen is the need to overcome training plateaus. Ideally, you want to always be going through a momentum phase in which you try something new and "shock" your muscles, forcing them to make gains. Eventually however, you will come to a point in your training where you either get bored or stop seeing results.

When this happens it is absolutely crucial that you change what you are doing; this is when you need to get creative by incorporating something new into your program. You can make effective changes in your program in many ways: try new or alternate exercises, change the order that you train your muscles or the order of the exercises, and so forth.

I hope you have found the information in these five part series of articles helpful. You now have the knowledge to achieve the results you desire and the benefits your body deserves. Your greatest challenge, however, is not learning new exercises or the proper technique; it's not learning how many sets or reps to do or how much weight to use. Nor is it deciding when or how to change your routine. The greatest challenge facing you at this moment is deciding whether you are willing to take action and make strength training a priority.

When you begin achieving great results, the excitement and fun you experience will make the change well worth the effort. Action creates motivation! Good luck: I hope you enjoy all the wonderful benefits of an effective strength training program.
By Jason Keigher 01 Aug, 2016
Many Americans view a healthy lifestyle as something difficult to attain--and something that's not much fun. Traditional diets have taught us that to lose weight, we must count calories, keep track of everything we eat, and deprive ourselves by limiting the amount--and kinds--of foods we eat. Diets tell us exactly what and how much food to eat, regardless of our preferences and individual relationships with hunger and satiety. Dieting can help us lose weight (fat, muscle, and water) in the short term but is so unnatural and so unrealistic that it can never become a lifestyle that we can live with, let alone enjoy!

While very few diets teach healthy low-fat shopping, cooking, and dining-out strategies, many offer unrealistic recommendations and encourage health-threatening restrictions. Even more important, diets don't teach us the safest, most effective ways to exercise; they don't teach us how to deal with our cravings and our desires, or how to attend to our feelings of hunger and fullness. Eventually, we become tired of the complexity, the hunger, the lack of flavor, the lack of flexibility, the lack of energy, and the feeling of deprivation. We quit our diets and gain back the weight we've lost; sometimes we gain even more!

Each time we go on another diet of deprivation, the weight becomes more difficult to lose, and we become even more frustrated and discouraged. Then we eat more and exercise less, causing ourselves more frustration, discouragement, depression. Soon we are in a vicious cycle. We begin to ask ourselves, "Why bother?" We begin to blame ourselves for having no will power when what we really need is clear, scientifically-based information that will help us develop a healthier lifestyle we can live with for the rest of our lives.

Deliberate restriction of food intake in order to lose weight or to prevent weight gain, known as dieting, is the path that millions of people all over the world are taking in order to reach a desired body weight or appearance. Preoccupation with body shape, size, and weight creates an unhealthy lifestyle of emotional and physical deprivation. Diets take control away from us.

Many of us who diet get caught in a "yo-yo" cycle that begins with low self-acceptance and results in structured eating and living because we lack trust in our body and are unwilling to listen and adhere to our body's signals of hunger and fullness. On diets, we distrust and ignore internal signs of appetite, hunger, and our need to be physically and psychologically satisfied. Instead, we depend on diet plans, measured portions, and a prescribed frequency for eating.

As a result, many of us have lost the ability to eat in response to our physical needs; we experience feelings of deprivation, then binge, and finally terminate our "health" program. This in turn leads to guilt, defeat, weight gain, low self-esteem, and then we're back to the beginning of the yo-yo diet cycle. Rather than making us feel better about ourselves, diets set us up for failure and erode our self-esteem.

The attitudes and practices acquired through years of dieting are likely to result in a body weight and size obsession, low self-esteem, poor nutrition and excessive or inadequate exercise. Weight loss from following a rigid diet is usually temporary. Most diets are too drastic to maintain; they are unrealistic and unpleasant; they are physically and emotionally stressful. And most of us just resume our old eating and activity patterns. Diets control us; we are not in control. People who try to live by diet lists and rules learn little or nothing about proper nutrition and how to enjoy their meals, physical activity, and a healthy lifestyle. No one can realistically live in the diet mode for the rest of their life, depriving themselves of the true pleasures of healthy eating and activity.

We Don't Fail Diets; They Fail Us!
Decades of research have shown that diets, both self-initiated and professionally-led, are ineffective at producing long-term health and weight loss (or weight control). When your diet fails to keep the weight off, you may say to yourself, "If only I didn't love food so much . . . If I could just exercise more often . . . If I just had more will power." The problem is not personal weakness or lack of will power. Only 5 percent of people who go on diets are successful. Please understand that we are not failing diets; diets are failing us.

The reason 95 percent of all traditional diets fail is simple. When you go on a low-calorie diet, your body thinks you are starving; it actually becomes more efficient at storing fat by slowing down your metabolism. When you stop this unrealistic eating plan, your metabolism is still slow and inefficient that you gain the weight back even faster, even though you may still be eating less than you were before you went on the diet.

In addition, low-calorie diets cause you to lose both muscle and fat in equal amounts. However, when you eventually gain back the weight, it is all fat and not muscle, causing your metabolism to slow down even more. Now you have extra weight, a less healthy body composition, and a less attractive physique.

Diets require you to sacrifice by being hungry; they don't allow you to enjoy the foods you love. This does not teach you habits which you can maintain after the diet is over. Most diet programs force you to lower your caloric intake to dangerously low levels. The common theory is that if you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. But when you eat fewer calories than your body needs to maintain its life-sustaining activities, you're actually losing muscle in addition to fat. Your body breaks down its own muscles to provide the needed energy for survival.

Traditional diets which use calorie restriction to produce weight loss are no longer appropriate. Most weight-loss programs measure success solely in terms of the number of pounds lost per weight loss attempt. Diets don't take into account the quality of the process used to achieve that weight loss or the very small likelihood of sustained weight loss. For long-term good health, you need to move away from low-calorie diets and focus on enjoyable physical activity and good nutrition. Exercising regularly and eating lean-supporting calories, protein and carbohydrates, and reducing fat-supporting calories will not only help you look and feel better, it will also significantly reduce your risk of disease.

America spends billions of dollars on different ways to fix people. If we focused more on prevention and on improving our day-to-day behaviors, we could cut health care costs in half. Contrary to popular belief, leading a healthy lifestyle doesn't have to be difficult; it doesn't have to painful or time-consuming. Making gradual, simple changes in your diet and physical activity will make great improvements in your health and well-being, and they can drastically reduce your risk of disease.

If your weight management program is to be a success, everything you eat and every exercise you do must be a pleasurable experience. If you're not enjoying yourself, it is unlikely that you'll continue your program. It's that simple. These small, gradual changes are not painful or overwhelming but rather the core of an exciting lifestyle that you will look forward to.

Take the frustration, guilt, and deprivation out of weight management, and allow yourself to adopt gradual, realistic changes into your life that will make healthy eating and physical activity a permanent pleasure. You will soon discover what your body is capable of and begin to look, act, and feel your very best. Good luck and enjoy all the wonderful benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle.
By Jason Keigher 01 Jul, 2016
For maximum effectiveness and safety, cardiovascular exercise has specific instructions on the frequency, duration, and intensity. These are the three important components of cardiovascular exercise that you really need to understand and implement in your program. In addition, your cardiovascular program should include a warm-up, a cool-down, and stretching of the primary muscles used in the exercise. The last article, part one of this two part series, explained the proper methods of warming-up, stretching, and cooling-down and discussed the frequency and duration of a sound cardiovascular routine.

You learned that cardiovascular exercise should be done a minimum of three times a week, a minimum of 20 minutes per session and should be done after a 5-10 minute warm-up (at a low intensity of 50-60% of max HR) and a 5-10 minute cool-down (at a low intensity of 50-60% of max HR) should follow. Once your muscles are warm (after warm up) and after the cardiovascular exercise, you should stretch those muscles used in the exercise.

This article, part two, discusses how to monitor exercise intensity and heart zone training.

There are several ways to monitor the exercise intensity. The best way to test the intensity is to take your heart rate during the exercise, within the first 5 minutes of your cardiovascular exercise session and again just before the cool-down.

There are two ways in which you can check your heart rate during exercise. The most accurate one is to purchase a heart-rate monitor that you strap around your chest. It will give you feedback on a digital watch that tells you exactly what your heart rate is at a specific time in the exercise session. The other way to obtain your heart rate is by palpating (feeling) either the carotid artery, the temporal artery, or the radial artery. The easiest site is either the cartoid or the radial artery. The cartoid artery may be felt by gently placing your index finger on your neck, between the middle of your collar bone and jaw line. Palpating the radial artery is done by placing your index and middle finger on the underside and thumb-side of your wrist.

When you're taking your heart rate you measure it in beats per minute (counting the number of beats for 60 seconds). For convenience, many people take their pulse for 6 seconds and multiply that number by 10, or simply add a 0 behind the number just obtained. So, if in 6 seconds you counted 12 beats, that would mean your heart rate was 120 beats per minute (bpm). Although counting for 6 seconds is most convenient, keep in mind that the longer the time interval used, the more accurate the results will be. For example, counting your heart rate for 30 seconds and then multiplying that number by 2 will give a slightly more accurate reading than counting your heart rate for 15 seconds and multiplying by 4, or 10 seconds and multiplying by 6. What ever time interval you use, be consistent.

Heart Zone Training
How do you know if you are training too intensely or not intensely enough for what you want to achieve? This is where Heart Zone Training comes in. Refer to the chart below. The top of the chart reads "Maximum Heart Rate," which is 100% of your heart rate (the fastest your heart will beat). This is different for everyone. To use Heart Zone Training you must first determine your maximum heart rate (max HR).

You can determine your max HR one of two ways. One way is to use the age predicted max HR formula, whereby you subtract your age from 220. So, if you are 40 years old, your predicted max HR would be 180 bpm. The other method, which is much more accurate and more individualized, is actually having a medical or fitness professional administer a max HR test for you, which is usually done on a stationery bicycle or treadmill for several minutes and requires very hard work. Thus, only those cleared by a physician should do this test. We do not explain how to administer this test because only trained professionals should do so. Please refer to the Global Health and Fitness Personal Training Directory for professionals in your area (may or may not be trained in administering a max HR test).

Once you have determined your max HR, you will need to decide what zone you want to train at. There are five different training zones separated by 10% increments, each having different characteristics and benefits.

Healthy Heart Zone
The first zone is called the Healthy Heart Zone. This is 50-60% of your max HR. This is the easiest and most comfortable zone within which to train and is the one that is best for people who are just starting an exercise program or have low functional capacity. Those of you who are walkers most likely train at this zone. Although this zone has been criticized for not burning enough total calories, and for not being intense enough to get great cardiorespiratory benefits, it has been shown to help decrease body fat, blood pressure and cholesterol. It also decreases the risk of degenerative diseases and has a low risk of injury. In this zone, 10% of carbohydrates are "burned" (used as energy), 5% of protein is burned and a whopping 85% of fat is burned.

Fitness Zone
The next zone is the Fitness Zone, which is 60-70% of your max HR. Once again, 85% of your calories burned in this zone are fats, 5% are proteins and 10% are carbohydrates. Studies have shown that in this zone you can condition your fat mobilization (getting fat out of your cells) while conditioning your fat transportation (getting fat to muscles). Thus, in this zone, you are training your fat cells to increase the rate of fat release and training your muscles to burn fat. Therefore, the benefits of this zone are not only the same as the healthy heart zone training at 50-60% but you are now slightly increasing the total number of calories burned and provide a little more cardiorespiratory benefits. You burn more total calories at this zone simply because it is more intense.

Aerobic Zone
The third zone, the Aerobic Zone, requires that you train at 70-80% of your max HR. This is the preferred zone if you are training for an endurance event. In this zone, your functional capacity will greatly improve and you can expect to increase the number and size of blood vessels, increase vital capacity and respiratory rate and achieve increases in pulmonary ventilation, as well as increases in arterial venous oxygen. Moreover, stroke volume (amount of blood pumped per heart beat) will increase, and your resting heart rate will decrease. What does all this mean? It means that your cardiovascular and respiratory system will improve and you will increase the size and strength of your heart. In this zone, 50% of calories burned are from carbohydrates, 50% are from fat and less than 1% is from protein. And, because there is an increase in intensity, there is also an increase in the total number of calories burned.

Anaerobic Zone
The next training zone is called the Threshold or Anaerobic zone, which is 80-90% of your max HR. Benefits include an improved VO2 maximum (the highest amount of oxygen one can consume during exercise) and thus an improved cardiorespiratory system, and a higher lactate tolerance ability which means your endurance will improve and you'll be able to fight fatigue better. Since the intensity is high, more calories will be burned than within the other three zones. Although more calories are burned in this zone, 85% of the calories burned are from carbohydrates, 15% from fat and less than 1% are from protein.

Red-line Zone
The last training zone is called the Redline Zone, which is 90-100% of your max HR. Remember, training at 100% is your maximum heart rate (maximum HR), your heart rate will not get any higher. This zone burns the highest total number of calories and the lowest percentage of fat calories. Ninety percent of the calories burned here are carbohydrates, only 10% are fats and again less than one percent is protein. This zone is so intense that very few people can actually stay in this zone for the minimum 20 minutes, or even five minutes (you should only train in this zone if you are in very good shape and have been cleared by a physician to do so). Usually, people use this zone for interval training. For example, one might do three minutes in the Aerobic Zone and then one minute in this Redline Zone and then back to the Aerobic Zone (this is called interval training and will be discussed further in a future article).

I hope you have found the information in this article helpful. You now have the knowledge to achieve the results you desire and the benefits your body deserves.

Your greatest challenge, however, is not learning new cardiovascular exercises or the proper technique; it's not learning the heart rate zone to train at for your goals and interests or how to monitor the intensity. Nor is it deciding when to try new cardiovascular exercises. The greatest challenge facing you at this moment is deciding whether you are willing to take action and make time for yourself and make cardiovascular exercise a priority.

When you begin achieving great results, the excitement and fun you experience will make the change well worth the effort. Action creates motivation! Good luck: I hope you enjoy all the wonderful benefits of an effective cardiovascular exercise program.
By Jason Keigher 01 Jun, 2016
Almost any form of exercise will stimulate some degree of strength and muscle development. Unfortunately, misconceptions, myths, and misunderstandings plague the fitness industry, especially in regard to strength training. There is a huge attrition rate among those starting a strength training program primarily because most people are not taught the principles essential for a safe and effective program.

This article is part four of a five part series discussing the very important principles and guidelines of a safe and effective strength training program. This article discusses the amount of weight you should use and the number of repititions you should do for the results you desire. I'll also explain how to gradually increase the weight you use to stimulate further gains. The previous article, part three of this five part series, discussed the importance of proper lifting technique, exercising through the full range of motion, the proper exercise sequence, and the correct number of sets to do for what you're trying to achieve. The following exercise guidelines are extremely important for your safety and the effectiveness of your strength training program.

Relationship Between Resistance and Repetitions
It's important to understand the inverse relationship between exercise resistance and exercise repetitions. When exercising to the point of muscle fatigue, most people can complete about six repetitions with 85 percent of maximum resistance. "Maximum resistance" is the most weight you can lift one time, in good form. Most people can complete eight repetitions with 80 percent of maximum resistance, 10 repetitions with 75 percent of maximum resistance, and 12 repetitions with 70 percent of maximum resistance.

For most people (those seeking muscle strength and tone), 8-12 repetitions with 70-80 percent of maximum resistance is a sound training recommendation for strength and muscle development. Most people do not bother with finding their one repetition maximum for each lift to obtain the appropriate weight for each set of 8-12 repetitions. This would get pretty tedious especially when you are learning a new exercise.

Really, the best and easiest way to figure out how much weight you should use on each lift is to begin by taking your best conservative guess. After you have warmed up by using a light weight for 12 or 20 reps, choose a weight for your next set that will challenge you for your goal number of repetitions. If you are not sure what that weight should be, choose a weight that is likely to be too light, rather than making the mistake of going too heavy and not reaching your desired number of repetitions. For example, say you are trying to decide the proper weight for a set of 12 repetitions on the Shoulder Press. Choose a light, conservative weight slightly heavier than your warm-up and do the set 12 times (repetitions or reps). When you come to your twelfth repetition, if you feel as though you can perform another repetition or two, while still using good form, you might as well do that (to further promote blood flow to the shoulder muscle). Since you know that the weight you chose was a little too light (your 12th repetition was not a challenge), next time choose a slightly heavier weight that will challenge you for all twelve repetitions, or whatever your goal number of repetitions happens to be.

Important Note: Your strength may gradually decline as you progress through your routine. For example, on your first set (after warm-up) of the Bench Press you did 12 reps with 150 pounds--this would force a good amount of blood and fatigue your chest muscles. If for your second set you're trying to figure out the appropriate weight for 10 reps, you may or may not want to slightly increase the weight. That is, 150 pounds might be a challenging weight for 10 reps because your muscles are a little fatigued from the first set. So, try to be intuitive and pick an appropriate weight based not only on the weight you used on the previous set, but also how fatigued your muscles feel.

It is important that the weight you choose for each set challenges you for all of your desired repetitions, whether the number is 6, 8, 10, or 12 repetitions. Similarly, if you choose a weight that does not allow you to perform all the desired repetitions in good form, do as many as you can and choose a lighter weight for the next set. It is a good idea to keep a record of the weights you use on each lift so that when you perform the same exercise at another workout you know what weight to use on each exercise set.

In general, if your goal is to get notably bigger and significantly stronger, you will want to do fewer reps with more weight, so 6-10 reps is a good target for you on most exercises. Sometimes, on exercises like the bench press and squats, even as low as 2 reps will be enough. If you are more concerned with creating muscle tone, your rep number should be in the range of 10-15. Most people's goal is a combination of muscle strength, size and tone; the target number for these folks should stay between 8-12 repetitions. Remember, however, that whether you are going for 6 reps or 15, always pick a weight that will challenge you for the full set.

Progressive Resistance
As your muscles adapt to a given exercise resistance (weight), that resistance must be gradually increased to stimulate further gains. The key to strength and muscle development is progressive resistance, which is also called "exercise progression," or "the overload principle." This is the gradual and continual addition of weight to the exercise over time, as the previous weights become too easy to lift, so that your muscles are continually forced to work harder and thus increase muscle strength, size and tone. For example, in the Front Shoulder Press you might start out pressing (lifting) 20 pounds. After two or three weeks you may find that pressing 20 pounds has become too easy, and that you can do more than your chosen number of repetitions with little or no difficulty. The progression principle demands that as soon as the weight you are using is no longer a challenge, you must raise it. You progressively increase the weight you use for a lift so that you continue to make gains in muscle tone, size, and strength. It is important that you increase the weight only if the previous weight is too light; increasing the weight to push yourself harder can result in poor form and definitely increases the risk of injury.

Please understand that an increase in repetitions is an increase in strength. Many people think strength gains are only obtained when they increase the weight. But if you have increased the number of repetitions you can do with good form, you have increased your strength and more than likely, your muscle size and tone as well.

Please check back for Part five, where I'll discuss exactly how to avoid the common mistake of overtraining. Until then, be sure to use the right amount of weight and number of repititions for each set you do so you can achieve the results you desire. Good luck, and enjoy all the wonderful benefits of strength training.
By Jason Keigher 01 May, 2016
Flexibility is one of the key components of a balanced fitness program. Without flexibility training (stretching), you are missing an important part of overall health. Flexibility prevents injury, increases your range of motion, promotes relaxation, improves performance and posture, reduces stress and keeps your body feeling loose and agile. Although there is still some controversy over which flexibility exercises are the best and how often one should stretch. Most fitness professionals agree that the principles and guidelines of flexibility training that are about to be discussed are the safest and most effective.

Use Static Stretching
Static stretching involves a slow, gradual and controlled elongation of the muscle though the full range of motion and held for 15-30 seconds in the furthest comfortable position (without pain). This is the first and most important stretching principle. In our opinion, all stretches for each muscle group should be done by using this static form of stretching.

How often you should stretch is still not fully understood. Most professionals would agree however, that daily stretching is best, during and after exercise sessions. Frequent stretching will help you avoid muscular imbalances, knots, tightness, and muscle soreness created by daily activities and exercise.

Always Warm-Up Before Stretching
A warm muscle is much more easily stretched than a cold muscle. Never stretch a cold muscle, always warm-up first to get blood circulating throughout the body and into the muscles. A warm-up should be a slow, rhythmic exercise of larger muscle groups done before an activity. Riding a bicycle or walking works well. This provides the body with a period of adjustment between rest and the activity. The warm-up should last about 5-10 minutes and should be similar to the activity that you are about to do, but at a much lower intensity. Once you have warmed up at a low intensity for about 5-10 minutes and have gotten your muscles warm, you can now stretch.

Stretch Before and After Exercise
I recommend stretching both before and after exercise, each for different reasons. Stretching before an activity (after the warm-up) improves dynamic flexibility and reduces the chance of injury. Stretching after exercise ensures muscle relaxation, facilitating normal resting length, circulation to joint and tissue structures, and removal of unwanted waste products, thus reducing muscle soreness and stiffness. Body temperature is highest right after the cardiovascular exercise program and/or after strength training. In order to achieve maximum results in range of motion and to receive other benefits, it is highly recommended that you do static stretching at this point in your workout, just after your cardiovascular program and during or after your strength-training program.

Stretch Between Weightlifting Sets
Both strength training and flexibility training are so important for everyone. Those of you who have a hard time finding time to incorporate a strength training program into your lifestyle, can combine your stretching with your strength training programs. If you have had any experience in strength training, you know that for each exercise for each muscle group you train, you have a certain number of sets, usually between one and four. Between each set, you need to rest and let your muscle recover before going on to the next set. Well, what better use of your resting time than to stretch that specific muscle that you're currently training? Think about it, you've just done a set of 10 reps on the Bench Press. Now you have to rest, usually about one to two minutes before doing the next set. This is a great time to stretch your chest-- your chest is warm and you have time before you start your next set.

How often do you see people who neglect to warm up before their cardiovascular exercise or strength-training sessions? They begin going through their stretching routine before their muscles are even warm. It makes more sense to stretch each specific muscle between sets of strength training exercises. For example, if you are on a strength-training program where you do one exercise of three sets of 10 reps for each major muscle group in the body, you will want to work each muscle group one at a time starting with larger muscle groups and proceeding to smaller groups. Do your first set with relatively light weight to warm-up, then rest for a minute or so and then increase the weight and go onto the next set of 10 reps (or whatever your goal reps happens to be).

After the second set, your muscles should be warm and ready to be stretched. While resting before your third set, stretch the muscle that you have just trained, remembering the important principles of a static stretch, then proceed to your third and final set. Stretch the muscle one more time, even a little further. Go on to the next exercise for the next muscle group and after it is warm, do your stretch for that muscle, and so on. When you have gone through each of your strength-training exercises, you will have stretched each muscle without taking-up any more time.

Stretch Before and After Cardiovascular Exercise
If it is your day off from strength training and you are just doing your cardiovascular exercise routine, first warm-up for 5-10 minutes at a low intensity (50-60 percent of your maximum heart rate ) and stretch the muscles used. Proceed doing a cardiovascular exercise for at least 20 minutes at a intensity of 50-85 percent of your maximum heart rate (refer to the Global Health and Fitness Cardiovascular Exercise Program). Then cool down for 5-10 minutes at a low intensity (50-60 percent of your maximum heart rate). Now, because your muscles are very warm you should stretch each of the major muscle groups involved in the exercise, using the static stretching techniques we explained previously. For example, if you walked on the treadmill, you should stretch your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and lower back. Proper technique for each stretch is absolutely critical for achieving maximum effectiveness in any one specific muscle group. In addition to stretching those muscles used in the exercise, now is also a good time to go through a full body stretching routine--since blood has circulated throughout your body and warmed-up your muscles.

I hope you have found the information in this article helpful. You now have the knowledge to achieve the results you desire and the benefits your body deserves. Your greatest challenge, however, is not learning new stretching exercises or the proper technique; it's not learning how long to hold the stretch or the best time to stretch. Nor is it deciding when to try new stretching exercises. The greatest challenge facing you at this moment is deciding whether you are willing to take action and make time for yourself and make flexibility training a priority.

When you begin achieving great results, the excitement and fun you experience will make the change well worth the effort. Action creates motivation! Good luck: I hope you enjoy all the wonderful benefits of an effective flexibility training program.
By Jason Keigher 01 Apr, 2016
Almost any form of exercise will stimulate some degree of strength and muscle development. Unfortunately, misconceptions, myths, and misunderstandings plague the fitness industry, especially in regard to strength training. There is a huge attrition rate among those starting a strength training program primarily because most people are not taught the principles essential for a safe and effective program.

This article is part three of a five part series discussing the very important principles and guidelines of a safe and effective strength training program. This article discusses the importance of proper lifting technique, exercising through the full range of motion, proper exercise sequence, and the correct number of sets to do for what you're trying to achieve. The previous article, part two of this five part series, explained the importance of forcing blood to your muscles and proper lifting speed. The following exercise guidelines are extremely important for your safety and the effectiveness of your strength training program.

Form/Technique
The most common and critical training mistakes may be those of exercise technique. The tendency to use too much weight typically results in poor form, which decreases your ability to get results, and increases the risk of injury. Examples of poor form or technique are: bouncing the bar off the chest in the Bench Press; using hip and back extension to initiateBicep Curls; arching the back or bending backward under Shoulder Presses; using any sort of momentum in any exercise; and training at fast speeds. These mistakes will not send the blood you need into your muscles and will work counter to your goals. Be aware of these mistakes and eliminate them from your program.

Exercise Through Full Range of Motion
Perform each exercise through a full range of motion, with emphasis on the end of the positive phase. Full range exercise movements are advantageous for strengthening the prime-mover, or agonist muscles--the muscles directly trained in the exercise, such as the biceps in the biceps curl. Lifting in the full range of motion is also advantageous for stretching the antagonist muscles, the muscles that act in opposition to the agonist. In the Biceps Curl, the triceps is the antagonist. Training in the full range of motion enhances both muscle strength and joint flexibility.

Exercise Selection
It is very important to select at least one exercise for each major muscle group to promote well-balanced muscle development. Training only a few muscle groups or training one muscle group more increases the risk of injury.

Exercise Sequence
Another important element of strength training is exercise sequence. When performing a variety of weightlifting exercises, it is advisable to proceed from the larger muscle groups to the smaller muscle groups. This allows optimal performance of the most demanding exercises when fatigue levels are the lowest and you feel fresh. Another reason, one that is often overlooked, is illustrated by the common example of training both back and biceps. Ordinarily, you would want to train your back first, since it is the larger muscle group of the two; let's say you are doing the Rear Lat. Pull-down. In that exercise, you are indirectly working your biceps, too, since both muscle groups are at work in the pulling motion. This means that your biceps will actually be warmed up and ready to train when you get to them. This is the same for exercises requiring pushing motions such as the chest, shoulders, and triceps. By the time you are done with your chest exercises, both your shoulders and your triceps are warm and ready to train. Of course, you might not always do your "pulling" (back and biceps) and your "pushing" (chest, shoulders, triceps) motions on the same day--because as you reach a plateau you will want to change your exercises, the order that you do them, and the muscles that you train together, to provide a new stimulus and interest for yourself. This will be discussed soon.

Sets
Another important element is exercise sets. An exercise set is the number of successive repetitions performed without resting. The number of sets per exercise is largely a matter of goals, interests and personal preference. We recommend that people treat their first set as a warm-up--12-20 reps with relatively light weight (done slowly). Then you can do either one, two, or three more sets--even up to six (strength and power program)--depending on whether you are at a beginning, intermediate, or advanced level and what you are trying to accomplish.

If you are working on your second exercise for a particular muscle group, we recommend that you do either two or three sets for that exercise since that muscle is already warmed-up from the first exercise. Regardless of the number of sets performed, each set--and each repetition--should be done in proper exercise form and under control.

Please check back for Part four, where I'll discuss the inverse relationship between resistance and repititions and the importance of progressive resistance. That is, I'll explain the amount of weight you should use and the number of repititions you should do for the results you desire. I'll also explain how to gradually increase the weight you use to stimulate further gains. Until then, remember to use proper lifting technique, exercise through the full range of motion, exercise in the proper sequence, and use the correct number of sets for what you're trying to achieve. Good luck, and enjoy all the wonderful benefits of strength training.
By Jason Keigher 01 Mar, 2016
Almost any form of exercise will stimulate some degree of strength and muscle development. Unfortunately, misconceptions, myths, and misunderstandings plague the fitness industry, especially in regard to strength training. There is a huge attrition rate among those starting a strength training program primarily because most people are not taught the principles essential for a safe and effective program.

This article is part two of a five part series discussing the very important principles and guidelines of a safe and effective strength training program. This article discusses the importance of forcing blood to your muscles and proper lifting speed. The previous article, part one of this five part series, explained the proper methods of warming-up, stretching, and cooling-down for a safe and effective strength training program. The following exercise guidelines are extremely important for your safety and the effectiveness of your strength training program.

Importance of Blood Supply to your Muscles
It is important to understand the value and purpose of targeting or forcing blood to the muscles you are training. Many of the principles we teach have the sole purpose of forcing blood into your muscles. When you use proper lifting technique, you will notice blood racing to the specific muscle you are training. And this is exactly what you want to happen.

When blood is forced into your muscles during your weightlifting program it potentiates the "microtrauma" or tiny little tears in your muscles that we mentioned earlier. When this happens, your muscle tissues repair and rebuild themselves bigger and stronger than they were--if you allow ample resting time. This is why you never train the same muscle group two days in a row; if you do, you cut off the rebuilding process.

You will know that you are using proper form when you feel a warmth, some fatigue, and a "burning" feeling at the end of each set for each muscle group. If you do not get this feeling, you probably need to review the proper form for your exercise. This may be an indication that you are making other common mistakes in your routine that do not allow blood to be fully targeted to the your muscles.

One of the most common mistakes people make is not training their muscle groups in an organized, systematic fashion. Always do every set and every exercise for specific muscle groups together. For example, if your chest routine consists of three sets of bench press, do all three sets, separated by resting periods, and then go on to the next muscle group. Or, if your chest routine consists of two or three different chest exercises, do all of those chest exercises together. Do the Bench Press, then Incline Bench Press, then Flys, for example--until your chest routine is complete. Then you can move on to the next muscle group.

Many people make the mistake of doing a set of Bench Press for their chest, then a set of Biceps Curls, then another set of Bench Press, and then on to another muscle group, and so on. This does not fully target blood into any one muscle group. You are just teasing your chest muscles and then moving on to tease another muscle group without ever targeting enough blood into any muscle group to cause much stimulation for improvement.

Another common mistake is eating right before your training program or eating too soon after your program. This can cause your heart and digestive system to work too hard and compromise the oxygen and nutrient delivery to the working muscles. Eating just before or too soon after your workout will not allow you to get enough blood into the muscles you are training.

Think about this: Digestion takes a lot of blood to work effectively. The more blood your body sends to digest your food the less blood is available to go to your muscles, to rebuild and increase strength. You should wait at least 60 minutes after eating before you start your exercise program.

Similarly, do not eat too soon after ending your workout because you want the blood that you just targeted into each specific muscle to remain there as long as possible. If you eat food too soon after your workout, the blood will be forced out of your muscles and into your digestive system. So wait at least 60 minutes after your program before you eat a meal.

Of course you should not go to your workouts hungry; you definitely want nutrients in your system for performance enhancement and energy, but try to eat an hour or more before workouts, and make sure your meal includes foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates and protein and low in fat, sugar, and cholesterol.

Lifting Speed
One of the most important elements in weightlifting--one that has a big effect on how much blood is targeted to your muscles--is lifting speed. Speed plays a major role in the incidence of injury as well as strength and muscle development. Fast lifting creates momentum and doesn't promote blood flow to the muscle. Slow movement creates less momentum and less internal muscle friction. Not only does slow lifting require a more even application of muscle power throughout the movement range, it actually promotes rapid blood flow into the specific muscle you are training.

In every strength training exercise for every muscle there are two different parts to each repetition of the exercise set performed. One, the concentric contraction--called the "positive" phase of the repetition--isthe part where the muscle is actually doing the work, such as the lifting motion of the bicep curl--from the beginning where your arms are hanging straight down to the point where the weight is lifted up. The second part is the eccentric contraction--called the "negative" phase of the repetition--is the part with resistance, because you are returning the weight from the end of the positive phase back to the beginning. In the bicep curl, this is where you let the weight come back slowly to the beginning position, with your arms extended straight down again.

It is more important to let the weight come back slowly on the "negative" phase than on the "positive" phase. Coming back slowly with resistance on every exercise is very, very important because this is the phase that promotes blood flow to your muscles and thus causes microtrauma, building your muscles even stronger during your day of rest. We recommend one to two seconds for each lifting movement (the positive phase), and three to four seconds for each lowering movement (the negative phase). Whatever your actual lifting speed, remember to always come back slower with resistance (the negative phase) for each and every weightlifting exercise. If you find that the weight is so heavy that you cannot come back slowly in full control of the movement, you should lighten the weight until you can. Many people pay far too much attention to the quantity or weight of the lift and not the quality of the movement performed. Your muscles cannot know how much weight is on the bar or machine, but they will respond very well when you are using good, controlled form and come back slowly with resistance.

Please check back for Part three, where I'll discuss the importance of proper lifting technique, exercising through the full range of motion, proper exercise sequence, and the correct number of sets for what you're trying to achieve. Until then, remember to use slow lifting speeds and try to get as much blood into the specific muscle you are training as possible. Good luck, and enjoy all the wonderful benefits of strength training.
By Jason Keigher 01 Feb, 2016
For maximum effectiveness and safety, cardiovascular exercise has specific instructions on the frequency, duration, and intensity. These are the three important components of cardiovascular exercise that you really need to understand and implement in your program. In addition, your cardiovascular program should include a warm-up, a cool-down, and stretching of the primary muscles used in the exercise. This article is part one of a two part series discussing the very important principles and guidelines of a safe and effective cardiovascular exercise program. Part one will explain the proper methods of warming-up, stretching, and cooling-down and discuss the frequency and duration of a sound cardiovascular routine. Part two will discuss how to monitor exercise intensity and heart zone training.

Warming Up and Stretching
One very common mistake is stretching before muscles are warmed-up. It is important to stretch after your muscles are warm (after blood has circulated through them). Never stretch a cold muscle. First warm up. A warm-up should be done for at least 5-10 minutes at a low intensity. Usually, the warm-up is done by doing the same activity as the cardiovascular workout but at an intensity of 50-60% of maximum heart rate (max HR). After you've warmed-up for 5-10 minutes at a relatively low intensity, your muscles should be warm. To prevent injury and to improve your performance, you should stretch the primary muscles used in the warm up before proceeding to the cardiovascular exercise.

Cooling Down
The cool down is similar to the warm-up in that it should last 5-10 minutes and be done at a low intensity (50-60% of max HR). After you have completed your cardiovascular exercise and cooled-down properly, it is now important that you stretch the primary muscles being used. Warming-up, stretching, and cooling-down are very important to every exercise session. They not only help your performance levels and produce better results, they also drastically decrease your risk of injury.

Frequency of Exercise
The first component of cardiovascular exercise is frequency of the exercise, which refers to the number of exercise sessions per week. To improve both cardiovascular fitness and to decrease body fat or maintain body fat at optimum levels, you should exercise (cardiovascularly) at least three days a week. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends three to five days a week for most cardiovascular programs. Those of you who are very out of shape and/or who are overweight and doing weight-bearing cardiovascular exercise such as an aerobics class or jogging, might want to have at least 36 to 48 hours of rest between workouts to prevent an injury and to promote adequate bone and joint stress recovery.

Duration of Exercise
The second component of cardiovascular exercise is the duration, which refers to the time you've spent exercising. The cardiovascular session, not including the warm-up and cool-down, should vary from 20-60 minutes to gain significant cardiorespiratory and fat burning-benefits. Each time you do your cardiovascular exercise, try to do at least 20 minutes or more. Of course, the longer you go, the more calories and fat you'll "burn" and the better you'll condition your cardiovascular system. All beginners, especially those who are out of shape, should take a very conservative approach and train at relatively low intensities (50-70% max HR) for 10-25 minutes. As you get in better shape, you can gradually increase the duration of time you exercise.

It is important that you gradually increase the duration before you increase the intensity. That is, when beginning a walking program for example, be more concerned with increasing the number of minutes of the exercise session before you increase the intensity, by increasing your speed or by walking hilly terrain.

Please check back for Part Two, where I'll discuss how to monitor your training intensity and how to use heart zone training to achieve the specific results you desire. Until then, remember that cardiovascular exercise should be done a minimum of three times a week and a minimum of 20 minutes per session. Once your muscles are warm (after warm up) and after the cardiovascular exercise, you should stretch those muscles used in the exercise. For example, after bicycling, stretch your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, hips, and low back. After doing the rowing machine, stretch your legs, back, biceps, and shoulders. Good luck and enjoy all the wonderful benefits of cardiovascular exercise.
By Jason Keigher 01 Jan, 2016
Almost any form of exercise will stimulate some degree of strength and muscle development. Unfortunately, misconceptions, myths, and misunderstandings plague the fitness industry, especially in regard to strength training. There is a huge attrition rate among those starting a strength training program primarily because most people are not taught the principles essential for a safe and effective program. 

This article is part one of a five part series discussing the very important principles and guidelines of a safe and effective strength training program. Part one will explain the proper methods of warming-up, stretching, and cooling-down when strength training. Part two will discuss the importance of forcing blood to your muscles and proper lifting speed.

The following exercise guidelines are extremely important for your safety and the effectiveness of your strength training program.

Warming Up, Cooling Down and Stretching
Warming-up promotes safety, prevents injury, and increases performance. You should warm up two ways with the purpose of creating blood flow throughout the body and thus preparing your muscles for the workout. First, before beginning your weightlifting session, do some form of cardiovascular exercise at a light, comfortable intensity for about five to ten minutes. Walking or riding a bicycle works well. When you've completed your warm-up, be sure to stretch the primary muscles you've been using. For example, if you warmed-up on the bicycle, stretch your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and hips.

Then, for the first exercise of each muscle group, do a warm-up set with very light weight for 12-20 repetitions. For example, if your first chest exercise is the bench press, do a warm-up set of very light weight and then continue with your selected chest routine. When you have completed your chest workout and are ready to train the next muscle group, once again do a warm-up set; then continue training that muscle group, and so on.

Stretching provides better physical performance, prevents debilitating injuries, and makes you look and feel better by improving your posture. This is because when muscles are stretched, their elasticity improves, increasing your range of motion and improving the quality of your movements. Never stretch a cold muscle--always make sure your muscles are warm before stretching. When a muscle is properly warmed-up it is better able to become elastic and relaxes more easily; warming up also circulates blood to nearby tissues and helps remove unwanted waste products from your system.

In addition to stretching the muscles involved in the cardiovascular exercise, you should spend time stretching each specific muscle you have trained in your weightlifting program. This won't take much more time and the benefits are many. You have to rest between your strength training sets anyway, so you might as well use this time more productively--for stretching. Think about it: what better time to stretch than right after you have targeted blood to a specific muscle? After you have properly warmed up each muscle group, stretch between sets. Each set requires a resting period--usually between 30 seconds and three minutes (depending on what you are trying to achieve). Use your resting time wisely and stretch the specific muscle being trained. Stretch only after the muscle has been properly warmed-up and about once every two to three sets per muscle group.

By the time you have finished training each muscle of the body, you will have incorporated stretching into your program, and at the best possible time to stretch--right after exercise, when the muscle is warm. This stretching between exercises is a valuable technique and will make a tremendous difference in your health.

The cool-down after strength training is also crucial. Whenever a vigorous exercise session is stopped abruptly, blood tends to accumulate in the lower body. With reduced blood return, cardiac output decreases and light-headedness may occur. Because muscle movement helps squeeze blood back to the heart, it is important to continue some muscle activity after the last exercise is completed. Easy cycling, walking, or any other cardiovascular exercise at low intensity is an appropriate cool-down activity, as is any other form of cardiovascular exercise. Cool down for about 5-10 minutes at light intensity, similar to your warm-up.

Please check back for Part Two, where I'll discuss the importance of forcing blood to your muscles, common mistakes that hinder the process, and proper lifting speed. Until then, remember to always include a warm-up, stretching, and a cool-down for maximum effectiveness and to prevent injury. Good luck, and enjoy all the wonderful benefits of strength training.
Share by: