Exercise Form: Why Attention To Detail Matters…

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It’s the January Effect at the gym – – “Gympocalypse” as someone has described it, and I love the word–which means it’s the perfect time to remind beginners and old timers, as well, that form matters.

Good Form Matters Greatly!
To categorize it simply, your form of movement is either helping you or hurting you.

Let’s understand why…

1. Proper form and a full and safe range of motion produce maximum results.
Let’s talk about the ever popular barbell curl. Watch how many times guys load up the bar and turn it into a back exercise to handle more weight by jerking backwards. Many will perform a partial range of motion for the same reason. Hint: If you extend the arms all the way down, you can probably skip the set of preacher-bench curls. Proper form is more difficult to do… but isn’t that why you’re there? Isn’t that what your goal is… maximum workout per time spent?

2. Proper form means a safer workout.
This is a particularly important point for my Senior fitness friends. Whether you’re new to training or not, aging brings a heightened respect for the possibilities and consequences of injury. But don’t think, at any age, that sloppy movements can’t injure you… especially if you’re handling too much weight. This is the primary culprit. Give yourself the time you need to grow, and respect your body’s signals along the way.

3. Proper form takes discipline and effort to learn.
Although it appears a simple matter to pick up weights and move them around, those of you who train understand that even a slight change in grip can change the dynamic of the effect. As in any sport, you need to be a student, first and always. There are many details such as a grip change, elbow orientation on a triceps exercise, or angle of the feet on a squat, that won’t be a part of what you notice when you first step into the gym, but you need to learn about such things. How you learn them is up to you, but be sure to set your ego aside when necessary so that you can move forward faster.

You Already Train Hard; Keep It Safe, Too!

Steven

The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The 3 Most Important Additions To Your Exercise Program:

You’ve committed to making this year a pivotal year and have formulated and begun the perfect program.

Congratulations!

Now let’s get real about the most important additional ingredients that you might be neglecting. Don’t.

1. Sleep

You’ll die without sleep sooner than you’ll die without food. Obviously, I’ve never put that claim to the test, but the source is deemed reliable. Sleep deprivation has, for many years, been used as a form of torture. Are you getting the picture about the importance of sleep?  Those of you who think that your body and mind can do without enough of it have already given evidence that you’re not getting enough sleep.

When you’re stressing out the body with intense workouts, giving it sufficient time to recuperate is paramount. Ignore the stress long enough and your body will let you know unequivocally that rest is necessary.

2. Diet and Nutrition
It is much more efficient and effective to refrain from eating too many calories than to eat too much, figuring that you’re going to ‘burn it off’ later. Here’s why that mentality will sink your ship: those cookies that you ate for a snack in three minutes will take you at least forty-five strenuous minutes on the stair machine to break even.

Exercise increases the need for certain nutritional components, especially protein. It’s not necessary to go crazy over this because you only need what is sufficient. The same is true of other vital nutrients. What is not needed by the body is eliminated (or stored as fat if it has caloric value). Under certain circumstances, such as non water soluble vitamins, too much can be dangerous.

If you’re serious about fitness, you must be serious about nutrition; but not to extremes. Educate yourself as you go. Disregard all advice that leads you to think that you can ‘rapidly melt fat away’ or anything similar. Your metabolism simply does not work that way. Period.

3. A Supportive and Knowledgeable Training Partner
You can purchase one at your local gym in the form of a personal trainer but if you have a friend that fits that description, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Many times I have shared my enthusiasm for fitness with friends by getting them started with the basics. Some gyms are sensitive about people in their facility instructing others, but I haven’t encountered any problems. Just to be clear, I am not a personal trainer and have only trained with friends and family who have asked.

During this past year I have benefited greatly by training together with a great friend who is accomplished in other areas of fitness, including Parkour. The opportunity to have a spotter for safety reasons, a coach correcting my form, and a friend encouraging me was critical to my improvement.

Research Update 10/05/16:

The importance of the right training partner… 


https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161004081548.htm

Keep It Going,

Steven

The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0

Imagine The Difference That Fitness Could Make!

This morning as I surveyed the news landscape for articles pertaining to health and fitness, something in particular caught my attention. 

This article from ‘Time’  reveals the potential for exercise to effectively prevent depression:
http://time.com/3713268/exercise-depression/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+time/topstories+(TIME:+Top+Stories)

Please read my post, “Exercise As A Prescription For Anxiety” regarding a major study from Australia:
http://theseniorhealthandfitnessblog.com/2014/09/01/exercise-as-a-prescription-for-anxiety/

Let me connect the dots for you.
Exercise represents one of the most powerful and important tools in existence to change the course of our physical and emotional lives, yet it is virtually nonexistent in preventive and therapeutic practice!

It’s not for lack of scientific proof. It’s sad but true – – in one of the psychological journals evaluating the efficacy of exercise in treating depression–they concluded that the effect of exercise was only temporary – – once the subjects stopped exercising, the effect diminished. It was therefore concluded that exercise could not be a workable treatment modality.

And once I stop bathing, I start to stink.

Don’t wait for mental health professionals to figure this one out – – put on your running shoes, get the dumbbells in hand, learn to squat and get it done! Multiple times a week. Case closed (successfully)!

Imagine the difference in our society – – from the cost of health care to the enjoyment of life itself –if we just got up and made the effort!

Get it done,

Steven

The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

A Total Fitness Plan For Seniors: How To Design Your Own

Attempting to piece together an effective personal fitness program might seem to be an overwhelming task. By approaching the task first, from the necessary components of fitness that must be included and, second, deciding what activities you enjoy, we can construct a complete program that is individually tailored to your needs and likes. It’s very possible that you’ll need to include more than one activity if you’d like to be sure of addressing the important aspects of fitness listed below.
You may be wondering at this moment about your current state of physical fitness. It doesn’t matter. The needs are the same for all of us, and every exercise can easily be adapted to any skill level. So let’s design the program first and then discuss how to tailor it to your fitness level, no matter what that might be. If you approach this activity as a means of personal growth and discovery, the journey just might become an enjoyable and fulfilling lifetime pursuit.

Let’s get started!

The Basic Foundation: The Critical Components

1. Adequate Physical Strength To Handle Your Own Body Weight

2. Aerobic Capacity.

3. Flexibility and Range of Motion

4. Balance and Coordination

Because all forms of exercise are going to address these needs to some degree, our plan needs to make sure that each component receives sufficient focus to improve.

Senior Exercises?

I do the same exercises today that I’ve been doing for fifty years. The only change that aging brings regarding exercise is what I’m going to call ‘accommodation’… because of the body’s accumulated pains from injury, deterioration, or disease, the exercises must be done with a different pace and within the range of motion limitations imposed by pain resulting from the issues mentioned above.

Here are the basics you need to consider to construct your own complete program. It’s not difficult. High on the list is deciding what’s going to be fun for you, so that you look forward to enjoying the activity for itself.

Groups Are Great!

As much as I’ve always enjoyed the ability to simply workout by myself whenever I wanted, either at home, at the gym, or simply a run in the park; most people are going to have a lot more fun participating in a group activity. So what should it be?

Here’s how I survey the fitness landscape…

Since cardio is critical, your activity needs to get your heart pumping in the appropriate range for twenty minutes or more.

Since Osteoporosis should be a major consideration for every Senior, there must be some strength challenging movements (and, therefore, bone challenging) for the entire body; especially legs and hips. This is because mobility becomes increasingly more important and difficult as we age, and because hips are the usual point of impact in falling.

Since balance and coordination are important, movements involving changing your center of gravity are necessary.

Observations:

Yoga, Tai Chi, Aerobics, Zumba, Swimming, Hiking, Running, and the list goes on… They all incorporate the important components of fitness to varying degrees.

If, however, I could offer only one addition to all of the above:

None of these can strengthen the bones as well as weight training.

Whatever activity you enjoy, I’d love to see you in the gym three times a week to compliment what may be missing.

To Total Workouts,

Steven

The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Take Your Training To the Next Level: Find a Training Partner!

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I had forgotten how much of a difference a good training partner can make in getting results. My focus has always been strong , along with a solid routine and consistent efforts. And I’ve always been one who likes to get things done according to the randomness of my particular schedule, my way.

But if you’ve been a loner in your training routine, for whatever reason, let me share with you the ‘Why’ of weight training with a partner.

Having just rearranged priorities to train together with another experienced lifter, let me tell you what’s new.

1. I’m Learning New Techniques.

By connecting with someone who’s better, I’m getting better.

Most lifters have favorite exercises and their preferred techniques regarding grip and hand position, etc. Trying a few of my own favorites with a slight difference in form, showed me a different emphasis on the muscle groups. Nice.

2. Heavier Weights Are Getting It Done Faster.

Having a good spotter in which I have total confidence makes an enormous difference in my willingness to push my personal limits. I’ve seen immediate increases because of this alone. Training with dumbbells should be a part of your routine. It’s obvious that your spotter needs to have the strength to take over if the worst happens, so gauge your willingness to push the limit with your spotter’s ability to get the job done.

3. The Competition Drives Intensity.

You know the feeling… It’s OK to slack off when you’re alone, but when your partner has shown up expecting powerful results, you’ve got to get it done!

4. Better Form.

Even though you know the proper motion, only a coach watching your movements can see if they’re being done properly. My training partner has helped me correct significant errors in technique.

5. Motivation

Nobody needs to suggest that I show up to train… but now the motivation has gotten more intense.

6. New Insights in Related Issues

When the topics of diet and nutrition came up, I was able to see the need for changes in protein intake and meal preparation, as well.

There’s always a reason that someone else is better, and more often than not, they’ll tell you what works.

Even if you feel like your workouts are good, with the right training partner your results will improve!

To Your Health and Fitness,

Steven

The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Exercise, Genetics, and Tragedy: What You Need to Know and What You Need to Do Now!

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My father was going through his jogging stage at the time, and I knew that moral support was needed. His birthday was nearing, and the popularity of ‘The Complete Book of Running’ by Jim Fixx, made the choice of his birthday gift an obvious one. He wasn’t particularly dedicated yet to the runner’s favorite rituals, but I knew he needed to make better lifestyle choices. My hope was that this would encourage him.

Despite the best-selling, craze-starting runner’s bible, and the family’s encouragement, his jogging efforts remained half-hearted at best.

When the news of Jim Fixx’s death spread, it became the unbeatable excuse for my father to stop jogging.

Jim Fixx had changed his life from an overweight, two-pack-a-day smoker, to a fitness icon. But he brought along damage that had already been done, and probably a genetic predisposition, as well.

For a fascinating look that sums up the mood of the time, read this New York Times article:

A few years later, I received a call from the hospital informing me that my father was undergoing emergency bypass surgery.

Both of these men refused to seek routine medical checkups. From what I understand in the case of Jim Fixx, he displayed no symptoms (or, just didn’t tell anyone). But because his father died prematurely from heart problems, and because of his own previous issues with smoking and weight, regular checkups should have been sought.

From the hospital bed after surgery, my father recounted how he, for years, was short of breath after climbing the stairs from the basement. I couldn’t believe that this was the first time he was telling me this.

Observations:

The suggestions that you see your doctor before engaging in an exercise program are not simply to guard against lawsuits over non-disclosure.

Ignoring your body signals is a stupid, deadly denial of reality, whether or not you choose to exercise!

Exercise can be a tremendous stress, albeit a positive one, on your system. Read this post:

http://theseniorhealthandfitnessblog.com/2014/05/15/tear-downbuild-up-why-you-underestimate-the-importance-of-recovery-after-training/

Weightlifting is an excellent form of exercise. Because it can cause extreme spikes in blood pressure when doing maximum efforts, arterial walls are stressed beyond normal. See your doctor and know beforehand if you have a potential problem. Weight Training can be enjoyed by everyone, but if you’re predisposed to such an issue, your pace and effort should be adjusted accordingly.

http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/hb2.htm

There is no substitute for common sense. None.

Train Safely and Respect Your Signs,

Steven

Become a part of ‘Senior Fitness Issues And Ideas’–a Google+ Community, (even if you’re not a senior) and I will gladly answer your exercise and fitness questions personally!

The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Reps and Sets: Breaking It Down For the Beginner…

There are always newcomers to every activity, so let me give you a heads up on, not only the basic terminology of weight training, but the reasons behind the terms, as well.

You know that resistance training (Including more activities than just weight lifting), by stressing muscles (and bones), makes them stronger.

Based on ideas of how much stressing it takes to achieve results, we do one specific exercise a number of times in succession: repetitions, or simply ‘reps’. When you’ve finished, say, 8 repetitions ( and maybe it was your target) that’s called a ‘set’.

How many reps/sets and how much weight do you need for a sufficient workout?

There are thousands of articles with hundreds of views. I’ll Make It Simple: Three sets of 7-10 reps per exercise, taking you in the range of max effort, is plenty. (Later you will learn to balance your workout load with your ability to recuperate).

My workouts are abbreviated versions of what I have done in the past. I do one set, close to failure, and continue immediately to the next exercise. Keep in mind, my objective here is a solid, full-body workout that I can do in 40 minutes. I start with the largest muscle groups, and alternate the exercises based on opposite muscle groups. For example, the triceps function to extend the arm away from the body. When the biceps contract, the arm is brought toward the body. You can see, then, that this technique allows slight a bit of rest for one muscle group while you’re working the opposite group.

Let’s Break That Down:

The bench press (or pushup, if no gym) works not only chest (pecs), but triceps, at the same time, as the arms are extended.
Immediately after exhausting those muscles, I’m going to blast my ‘pulling’ muscles; upper back(traps, lats), rear shoulders (delts) and arms (biceps, forearms) with a set of pull-ups to exhaustion.

My workout is much more than this, but this illustrates how I work two major muscle groups. This technique is called a “Super Set” and is pre-Arnold. I’ve built my own circuit (group of exercises composing a unit; typically working all muscle groups), that includes all my favorite movements done in Super Sets. The time factor determines the number of times I do the circuit, but if it’s only once, I’ve had a good workout.

It’s quick, efficient and effective. The big dogs do things differently and they have their own turf.

Right now, learn the basics. Then you can decide where it takes you.

Technique Again?

I’ve done enough reps to know how just a slight change in grip will effect the feel and the outcome of an exercise. Every experienced lifter knows. And they will all tell you that good technique counts. I say this to you because many of the guys working out around me are sloppy on form, doing partial reps, and swinging their bodies around to handle weight that’s probably too much for them.
Most of the time something is better than nothing, but safer and more efficient trumps that any day. So learn to do it properly in the beginning and don’t let your ego keep you from doing a lighter weight with good form, when the guy next to you overloaded the bar and his curls look like a back exercise.

I forgot, I haven’t told you what curls are.

Now, you need to do some homework. In that activity, you’ll learn what curls, squats, French curls, flyes, and all that other stuff really is.

Are there only two terms to know in weightlifting?

No… there are many more. Today you learned to count reps and sets. Welcome to our world!

There’s no need for me to cover what many have taught before. Take advantage of what you can learn just by seeking.

If I see issues that effect your performance, I’ll gladly give you a heads up along the way.

Train Hard, Smart, and Safe!

Steven

Become a part of ‘Senior Fitness Issues And Ideas’–a Google+ Community, (even if you’re not a senior) and I will gladly answer your exercise and fitness questions personally!

The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.