Enhanced muscle development
Many times in the gym and sometimes on different blogs I hear the myth that certain exercises can increase “peaks” in muscles, or create enhanced definition in one part of a muscle being trained. Many professionals and consumers alike have voraciously declared that different exercises and special techniques will create the desired change in muscle definition such as increased peak in biceps, and defined “inner pecs,” or better lower abs. The truth lies in muscle physiology and frankly, changes in muscle fiber definition due to exercise is just a myth.
To begin, one must understand the All-or-None Principle. This principle states that once a nerve impulse is initiated, it travels along the entire axon without losing strength.
Rev up that rear!
Most likely you have been doing exercises and using machines that promise you the butt of your dreams. Well, have they delivered yet? Chances are you’re still wearing that sweatshirt around your waist to hide that hump of mass that’s gaining in popularity. Well, you can throw that sweatshirt away because a great backside is just a few exercises away.
Dedicating yourself to eating healthy and exercising consistently will always be a plus, but time is a huge factor for most of us. When we exercise, we need to be as efficient as possible because we don’t have all day to workout! And even if you did, choosing the correct stretches, exercises, and form will get you farther than those gruesome two-hour workouts at the gym.
The Main Muscles
First, let’s take a step back and learn a little about the body. We have muscles that surround our hips: the hip flexors and glutes to name a few important ones. The hip flexors start on the front, inner portion of the thigh, run vertically across the hips and attach to our lower back. The glutes run across from the lowest part of our spine and the top of the pelvis, and attach to the highest part of our outer thigh. Each muscle spoken of has a few tasks to do when we move. In simple terms, the hip flexors flex the hips when we sit. The glutes extend the hips when we stand from a seated position. The glutes also help us move side to side. These muscles perform opposite roles. So, it’s important that each muscle is in the best position to work effectively.
The Importance of Core Training
Ask anyone where they most want to reduce fat and/or increase muscle tone and you’ll find a majority focusing on their abdominal and/or gluteal regions. Although aesthetics is one of the most popular training objectives for these parts of the body, science has shown that the muscles in these regions, considered to be the core of the body’s structure, play critical roles in our ability to perform optimally in our everyday lives.
Whether placing groceries in the trunk of a car or swinging a golf club on the weekends, the core musculature, when functioning properly, allows us to perform these activities safely and effectively.
Core Anatomy 101
The core region consists of the pelvis, hips, spine and rib cage. Approximately 29 muscles make up the core musculature. These muscles are divided into two categories, depending upon their primary function. The stabilization category includes the small muscles located relatively close to the spine.
Effective Goals Setting
It is that time of year again where we set New Year’s Resolutions…maybe to quit smoking, eat more fiber or lose 20 pounds. How many of us really make an effective plan to achieve our goals? Go beyond the typical “I want to lose weight” and make an effective game plan for how you are going to reach your goal. Here is a 5 step process to help you get started!
Step 1: VISION
Here we want to discover one thing…the real motivation for your goal. Just keep asking yourself one simple word…why? I want to lose weight. Why? So I feel better. Why do you want to feel better? You may respond, so I can play soccer with my children. In a few short seconds we have discovered your motivation! You no longer have a vague goal of weight loss but a vision of playing soccer with your children.
Step 2: STRATEGY
Here we are going to use 6 principles known as SCAMPI to set effective goals.
1. Specific- set specific goals versus simply trying to “do your best”
2. Challenging- set goals that challenge your abilities versus ones that are easy to achieve
3. Approach-always think about moving toward your goal rather than a negative state. Change does not happen overnight. Think about the progress you are making towards being able to play soccer (maybe now you can jog for 10 minutes)
4. Measurable-be able to measure your progress so you know if your strategy is working
5. Proximal-have weekly goals as well as your long term goal. This will keep you motivated as each week you accomplish a goal that will help you reach your long term goal
6. Inspirational-your goal should be inspirational to you and consistent with your own ambitions.
Step 3: BELIEF
Belief is one of the most powerful predictors of change! You must believe that you can implement the strategies you just set! People who believe they will be successful work harder and are better able to overcome setbacks! To help boost belief in yourself try using visualization. Just remember it is needs to be very detailed.
Step 4: PERSISTANCE
Successful people succeed by working hard and rebounding from setbacks…they persist! They also use the setbacks as tools to strengthen their commitment. Use these strategies to increase persistence. 1. Reward your successes…start small and increase your rewards as you progress. 2. Ask for support or help from close friends and family to encourage your progress but also to recover from setbacks. 3. Prepare for setbacks! Carry a reminder card that you can read with a message or have a friend to call when a setback does occur.
Step 5: LEARNING
Is your persistence paying off? Make sure you measure your progress and review past data so you can make adjustments if necessary. You can monitor yourself daily using a scale of 0-10. 0 means no progress was made and 10 means outstanding progress. Remember that physiological changes (weight, body fat, blood pressure etc) take time to change. Try to initially measure behaviors instead of physiological changes!
Good luck with your New Year Resolution! Here is to a happy and healthy 2012! Crystal
Keep the Weight Off and become a Successful Losers
At any given time, nearly 60 percent of Americans are actively trying to lose weight. It is no surprise that a myriad of weight loss products, diet books and gadgets flood the marketplace. Although many people succeed at losing weight, few manage to keep the weight off for the long haul. Those who have are referred to as “successful losers” and research studies on these individuals reveal the keys to permanent weight loss.
The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) is the largest ongoing study on long-term weight loss. To be included in the study, you must have lost at least 30 pounds and kept the weight off for at least one year. On average, the 5,000 participants have lost 60 pounds and maintained the weight loss for nearly six years. The range of weight loss is 30 to 300 pounds, which means any weight loss goal is possible. Interestingly, the odds appear stacked against these individuals as nearly half were overweight or obese as kids and three-quarters have at least one obese parent. So, if you think you’re doomed because of your genetics, here is clear evidence to the contrary. You are NOT destined to be overweight for life and you CAN overcome it by changing certain behaviors.
Here are the habits successful losers adopted to drop those unwanted pounds:
- Eat breakfast daily
- Exercise approximately 60 minutes a day
- Check weight at least once a week
- Watch less than 10 hours of television per week
- Maintain a consistent diet on weekends and weekdays
- Track food intake
Eating breakfast every day helps manage hunger and may prevent over-eating and poor food choices later in the day. When we get extremely hungry, the tendency is to select foods we wouldn’t normally eat.
Daily exercise boosts your calorie burn which helps balance out the calories you take in. Remember, the definition of a stable weight is when the calories you consume equals the calories you expend. This doesn’t mean you have to do exercise you don’t enjoy. Most successful losers walk as their primary exercise.
Checking your weight regularly helps you stay in tune with your body and allows you to adjust your intake or activity if your weight creeps up. In fact, 44 percent of successful losers weigh themselves every day, and most check at least once a week.
Limiting TV time has a twofold effect - you’re less likely to snack mindlessly and you’re probably up burning more calories than you would be sitting in front of the tube.
Eating consistently each day of the week, including weekends, helps prevent you from eating more than you need, which over time leads to weight gain. Participants who had a consistent diet were one and a half times time more likely to maintain their weight within five pounds compared to those who didn’t.2 This is probably because a weekend of over-indulging can wipe out an entire week of progress.
Finally, tracking what you eat keeps you aware of what and how much you eat. This is especially important in weight control since most of us underestimate by at least 20-30 percent.