Thursday, January 31, 2008

Help Me - I'm Lost!

Ask A Trainer, from Scott Fushi, trainer at Midtown Fitness Center, Putnam CT.

Are You feeling lost (and we don't mean the tv show)?

Question: I feel lost and overwhelmed in the gym; where do I start?

Answer: Using a personal trainer is a great way for newcomers and “start-overs” to get an exercise program designed with your specific goals and limitations. You get a safe, effective workout under the watchful and experienced (check references please) of your trainer. Personal training sessions are also great for fit or experienced gym members to re-energize their routines and break through pesky plateaus. If you can’t get a training session yet; here are a few basic workout guidelines to ensure a solid, strong start in the gym.

Have and keep a positive attitude. Studies in the UK and at Harvard have shown that believing in what you are doing helps increase performance and gets you better results. It’s a continuous circle of success that starts with good self confidence and motivation levels that lead to improvements in your health/fitness levels which in turn continue to boost your self confidence and motivation.

The physical side of the fitness equation calls for equal focus as well. Your workouts need to be physically challenging yet tolerable. If you have health issues please contact your physician to help set some safety guidelines. The use of a certified trainer is another way to minimize risk of injury and maximize your efforts. Please don’t be misled into thinking your toning muscles or burning calories without a little “sweat equity”. Low levels of intensity that usually are in the “fat burning zone” still require some amount of exertion. A good indicator of intensity or pace for your workouts is the conversation method. If you can’t talk with ease throughout your routine, try to back off a bit.

A lot of people feel that cardio (treadmill, elliptical, rowing or cycling) is boring and difficult to stay with. Recent research at the University of Missouri has shown that 3 ten minute bouts of activities (with a few strength training exercises in between those cardio times) instead of the continuous 30 is just as effective at burning calories yet feels significantly easier to complete. You can even try different activities for each of those ten minutes sessions to keep it even more varied and interesting. Remember, it is generally considered bad form at the gym to fall asleep on the recumbent bike.

You can also more bang in your calorie burning buck by putting most of your cardio activity in the end of your workout session. An example would be a 5 -10 minute warm-up, a few stretches on the tight areas with limited range of motion (we all have them), your 20-40 minute strength routine followed by 10-30 more minutes of cardio.

This sequence was tested by the University of Wisconsin and proven to raise metabolic rates and calorie expenditures higher and longer than others.

Core and functional training are the big buzz words these days for good reasons. Improving your strength and flexibility in those low back muscles stabilize and support the spine and also enhance posture, balance, sports performance and even household tasks. Low back pain can also be decreased and higher levels of comfort are possible.

Exercises such as the standard crunch (keeping legs bent), or the “bicycle” performed with a controlled 4 count pace will help improve abdominal and trunk strength. The “plank” as it is known; is a simple yet effective core building exercise that is performed by resting on your forearms and toes. Hold this position with your belly off the ground and your back in a supported (non-arched) position) for 15 to 60 seconds. Try not to let that “bridge” position sag. If that is too hard try doing it on your knees first and gradually build up your time and tolerance.

Multiple joint exercises also are a way to integrate core and functional training into your workouts. Lunges, dumbbell bench presses and seated or bent-over rows are all movements that require additional stabilization and therefore burn more calories. They also improve your balance and range of motion while building strength. They are not only multi joint movements but they are multi-beneficial movements.

Try a few of theses suggestions and you will get good results for your exercising efforts.

For information visit

Please submit your ask a trainer question to Scott at

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Fact Or Fiction?

Weight Training Facts and Fiction

If you are new to weight training, here is a quick start guide to help you get a better understanding about some of the facts and fiction surrounding building muscle.

Who is Weight Training For?

The benefits of weight training spread across all genders, races and ages. Weight training was once a very obscure "fringe" activity only practiced by strongmen and body builders. Those days are long gone.

Today, anyone who values their long term health, can gain substantial benefits by using moderate weight training to enhance their overall physical and emotional well being.

Is Weight Training Dangerous?

When performed in a safe and controlled manner, weight training is very safe. In fact there are far fewer injuries in weight training than - bicycling, golf, or basketball. Actually, those individuals who train with weights have less occurrence of injury when performing other activities due to increased muscle and tendon strength as well as increased bone density. Please use a spotter when lifting heavy.

Will I get Bulky Muscles From Weight Training?

No! That's actually one of the biggest myths about weight training. Many women fear working out with weights. They think they will become masculine and muscle bound. Nothing could be further from the truth. Women don't have the same genetic potential to gain muscle that men do.

If it was that easy to get huge muscles, every man on earth would be 250 pounds of solid muscle. You and I know that's not true, so put your mind at ease.

Weight Training Makes You Inflexible

The truth is that most people gain improved flexibility and range of motion in joints when following a weight-training program. Well-defined muscles help your body function more efficiently -Much more than sitting on your butt all day.

If I stop Weight Training My Muscles Will Turn Into Fat?

That would be a neat trick! Tell you what, take a steak out of your fridge, and leave it on the counter for a month. Did it turn to fat? Of course not, muscle doesn't turn into fat any more than a tub full of Crisco will turn into muscle if you put it on your counter and let it sit for a week.

How often should I change my program?

For best results, consistently change your program. If you don't change your program, you're guaranteed to eventually reach a plateau. A good recommendation, change your program every 2 - 3 weeks or if your progress has stopped.

When is the best time to stretch?

Because of the properties of the connective tissue that surrounds muscle, it's best to stretch when your muscles are warm. This means the best time to stretch is at the end of a workout. However, if you need to stretch before you workout, you should do some light activity like walking or cycling (warm-up) for 6-12 minutes before you stretch to ensure your body temperature has risen. Hold a stretch 20-30 seconds

How much cardio exercise do I need to do to get fit?

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 3-5 cardio workouts lasting 20-60 minutes in duration each week. Good cardio-challenging workouts include power walking, jogging, cycling, fitness classes, stair-climbing etc. Keep in mind though, if you can't meet these recommendations, any movement is better than nothing!

Should I do my cardio before or after weight training?

Glycogen stores are stores of energy that your body uses during weight training and cardiovascular exercise. Although, during weight training glycogen stores are the only energy source used. Thus, completing your cardiovascular routine before weight training will substantially deplete your energy (glycogen) stores needed to complete a proper weight training program. Also, completing your weight training before your cardiovascular program significantly decreases you glycogen stores. So, when you begin your cardiovascular training your body burns less glycogen and more of your stored fat. In summary, to reach you optimal fat burning stages and to have the proper energy to utilize an exercise program, complete your weight training before your cardiovascular training.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Hey -Are You A Loser?

Can you believe it? People want to be called a "Big Loser"!

The Biggest Loser tv show has set in motion hope for big people that need guidance and knowledge on how to live healthy. US Button is promoting a contest for local people that want to lose weight.

Five hundred dollars cash will be awarded to whoever loses the greatest percentage of body weight. Second prize is a one year membership to Midtown Fitness! We will also give prizes to the top ten losers!