General health and training

General health and training

Strength training basics

Training at PEAK PHYSIQUE & PERFORMANCE

Strength training at PEAK PHYSIQUE & PERFORMANCE

You do not need to be a bodybuilder to benefit from strength training. A well-designed strength-training program can provide the following benefits:

  • Increased strength of bones, muscles and connective tissues (the tendons and ligaments). This increased strength decreases the risk of injury.
  • Increased muscle mass. Most adults lose about one-half pound of muscle per year after the age of 30, largely due to decreased activity. Muscle tissue is partly responsible for the number of calories burned at rest (the basal metabolic rate, or BMR). As muscle mass increases, BMR increases, making it easier to maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Enhanced quality of life. As general strength increases, the performance of daily routines (carrying groceries, working in the garden) will be less taxing.

 

Starting with the basics

Many exercises can be combined into a program that works all the major muscle groups. Neglecting certain groups can lead to strength imbalances and postural difficulties. A certified fitness professional can help you develop a safe, effective program. You may also wish to consult with a certified fitness professional to learn safe technique before beginning a strength-training program.

One set of eight to 12 repetitions, working the muscles to the point of fatigue, is usually sufficient. Breathe normally throughout the exercise. Lower the resistance with a slow, controlled cadence throughout the full range of motion. Lifting the weight to a count of 2 and lowering it to a count of 3 or 4 is effective. When you are able to perform 12 repetitions of an exercise correctly (without cheating), increase the amount of resistance by 5 to 10% to continue making safe progress.

Staying motivated

An encouraging aspect of strength training is the fact that you’ll likely experience rapid improvements in strength and muscle tone right from the start of your program. Don’t be discouraged, however, if visible improvements begin to taper off after a few weeks. It’s only natural that, as your fitness level improves, improvements in strength and appearance will come at a slightly slower pace. To help keep your motivation up, find a partner to train with you.

Aim to exercise each muscle group at least two times per week, with a minimum of two days of rest between workouts. Training more frequently or adding more sets may lead to slightly greater gains, but the minimal added benefit may not be worth the extra time and effort (not to mention the added risk of injury).

Mixing it up

Machines and free weights are effective tools for strength training, and a combination of the two is generally recommended. Utilizing both machines and free weights provides exercise variety, which is important for both psychological and physiological reasons. Variety not only reduces boredom, but also provides subtle exercise differences that will enhance progress.

The benefits of strength training are no longer in question. Research continues to demonstrate that strength training increases both muscle and bone strength and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. A safe strength-training program combined with cardiovascular and flexibility training will give you the benefits of a total fitness program.

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Fitness is more important than just weight loss

Lyen at the gym

Lyen Wong at PEAK PHYSIQUE & PERFORMANCE

If you’re slim and lean, you don’t have to do resistance training – true or false? As long as you watch what you eat you’re healthy, right? Most people believe in these and other false “fitness facts”.

Fitness is a product of healthy diet and exercise, sleep and mental well being. “Physical fitness is considered a measure of the body’s ability to function efficiently and effectively in work and leisure activities, to be healthy, to resist hypo-kinetic diseases, and to meet emergency situations” as defined in Wikipedia. Here is why fitness is a far better goal than weight loss in the long run.

Difference between weight loss and fitness

While fitness usually does involve weight loss, all weight loss does not involve fitness. One can lose weight – the unhealthy way – through crash dieting, over-exercising, weight loss pills and several other, equally, harmful quack methods.

Unhealthy weight loss involves losing mostly muscle mass and small quantities of topical fat. Visceral fat, or fat that is stored internally around organs, does not decrease with unhealthy weight loss practices. In fact, it can increase due to the starvation mode set off with unhealthy dieting.

Pursuing general fitness and well being, on the other hand, takes care of the harmful body fat, while giving you a healthier mind and body and, yes, burning, calories. Weight loss is about losing weight rapidly. Fitness is about healthy living and longevity. Fitness is a combination of exercise, diet and rest. When weight loss is your only target, you tend to ignore the other benefits of living a healthy life.

Let’s look at what impact fitness has on the different systems in your body:

Importance of fitness: respiratory and circulatory system

You know the heart is a muscle that pumps blood and oxygen to the body. Exercise helps the heart in circulation of blood and oxygen. That means healthy skin, alertness and a healthy system, among other benefits. Similarly, a healthy diet aids your circulatory and respiratory system by preventing thickening arterial walls and better blood circulation.

Importance of fitness: digestive system

When we are constipated or feeling bloated we look for a change in diet to relieve us from our discomfort. But exercise can help you avoid digestive problems, as well. Walking, running and other physical activities can improve your digestive system.

A poor digestive system leads to a poor well-being and quick weight loss ignores this fact. The result of crash dieting is often Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and plenty of fat gain once you stop the fad diet. Instead, focusing on general fitness through balanced nutrition and exercise will give you a smoother digestive function.

Importance of fitness: lymphatic system

‘”The lymphatic system is a part of the circulatory system, comprising a network of conduits called lymphatic vessels that carry a clear fluid called lymph”, as explained on Wikipedia. Stretching, strength training and aerobic exercises improve the lymphatic system. A healthy lymphatic system reduces swelling, improves circulation, metabolism and flexibility.

Importance of fitness: cardiovascular system

Research has proven, time and again, that pursuing fitness is the best way to achieve better cardiovascular health. This means that your cardiovascular system is able to function a lot better when you’re fit, within your ideal weight range, and live an active life with healthy eating.

The cardiovascular system is responsible for circulating oxygen and important nutrients to the body. Opting for fitness, instead of quick weight loss, will help you avoid diseases related to the cardiovascular system like heart attack and stroke. Strength, stamina, and agility also get a boost with a well functioning cardiovascular system. Cardio exercises are the key to a functioning cardiovascular system.

However, many make the mistake of associating ‘cardio’ exercise with rapid weight loss. This usually leads to long hours of cardio that cause fatigue and over-train your body. What does this mean? Over-training leads to more fat storage in your body. So, if you walk/run/jog/swim too much, your body will start craving more food.

Importance of fitness: nervous system

The nervous system includes the brain and the spinal cord. Physical activity helps to keep the brain sharp and alert and improves hand-eye co-ordination and balance.

Mental health is crucial for a healthy life. By pursuing weight loss only, without any thought toward fitness and the right way to achieve it, your mind will experience fatigue and negativity. Those that rely on vanity alone as a motivator tend to drop out of their ‘fitness’ routine. A balanced diet and regular exercise over the long term, because you want to be fit instead of a size zero, is a better idea.

Importance of fitness: musculoskeletal system

This is the easiest association to make. We use muscles everyday, consciously or subconsciously. All aspects of exercising, from resistance training to flexibility and cardio training, and eating right improve the musculoskeletal system.

Importance of fitness: overall health

  • Improves performance and stamina
  • Reduces chances of experiencing lifestyle diseases
  • Promotes longevity
  • Prevents excess body fat
  • Improves mood
  • Improves confidence
  • Induces good sleep

When you focus on weight loss alone, and quick weight loss at that, you ignore your body’s actual needs. A common sign of rapid weight loss is weakness and fatigue. This is because your body loses muscle a lot faster than fat. With muscle loss, your metabolic activity decreases, causing imbalances and increased fat storage. The result: short term weight loss, and long term weight gain.

For the over-weight and obese, fitness does involve weight loss. But this is sustainable weight loss that comes with a shift in lifestyle habits. If your only concern is to look good in that slinky outfit or that wedding dress, then you will set yourself up for failure. Chasing the short term dream by radical, unsustainable means is a recipe for disaster.

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Weight Loss or Fat Loss?

Patrick A. Frey, CSCS

Patrick A. Frey, CSCS

When it comes to weight loss, the scale isn’t telling you the whole story.  The scale is an important tool in tracking progress, as is a measuring tape, but they don’t tell you how much of your loss is fat and how much is muscle.  In order to know if your weight loss has been primarily fat loss, you need to know your bodyfat percentage preferably from skin fold calipers, hydrostatic weighing or DEXA.

I’ve encountered too many people who are proud that they’ve reached their “ideal” weight, but more often than not they achieved it through unhealthy diets.  If they exercised at all, they probably only did aerobic/cardiovascular exercise and left out resistance training.  The result is a loss of muscle mass and they still have an unhealthy bodyfat percentage that can potentially be higher than it was before they started the diet.

When a caloric deficit is created through diet and aerobic exercise, the body will probably lose weight.  Unfortunately, your body would much rather shed muscle than fat so you need to send a message to your body that it needs to keep the muscle it has.  The way to do this is with a properly designed resistance training program.  In addition to keeping the muscle you have, you might also build more muscle which will help you burn even more calories even while at rest.  Plus, resistance training will help increase bone density, reduce the chance of injury, lower high blood pressure, reduce the risk of diabetes, and the list just goes on and on.

So, be sure to include all of the necessary components in your weight loss program. An incomplete fitness and weight loss program will lead to incomplete and compromised results.

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Review: What Julia thinks about us…

Female silhouette“Lyen is a great motivator and she really makes you want to exercise and eat healthy. She is very honest and upfront with you about your goals and training program. There is never a dull moment with her program, she switches up the routine and makes it so that you are able to do it. When you tell her you can’t go on she says “yes, you can”. She is awesome and I am very happy with her. She makes me feel comfortable and she gets to know your fitness level so that you can gradually build up and become stronger. If you’re looking for specific needs and want to see results, I highly recommend Lyen.”

Julia K. (Homestead, FL)

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Article: Effects of rapid weight loss on your body

Magazines and websites everywhere want to tell you how shed weight quickly or, even better, “melt” your fat off either through diet or exercise. But they leave out the negative effect that quick weight loss has on your body. We all want to lose weight in a hurry but we hate to break it to you: the only ‘quick’ solutions to weight loss are usually unhealthy. Are you aware of the effects of rapid weight loss on your body? Let’s find out.

  1. Cellulite – The term cellulite refers to the appearance of dimpled skin on your abdomen, thighs, buttocks and hips. Weight gain and loss are one of the reasons for cellulite.
  2. Weight gain – We may lose weight quickly with intense ‘dieting’, but your body tries to accumulate calories when it lacks sufficient vitamins and minerals. The practice of not eating only does more harm than good.
  3. Malnutrition – This is common sense, lack of a balanced diet will lead to malnutrition.
  4. Makes you hungry – If you haven’t eaten after a long time, do you feel like eating fried and oily food? That’s exactly what happens if you starve yourself.
  5. Lack of energy – fainting – Lack of nutritious food equals lack of energy. Feeling tired? Eat a healthy meal.
  6. Hair loss – Lack of protein and nutrients can lead to hair loss. Your body needs food to regenerate cells.
  7. Depression, lack of sex drive and irritation are some emotions you will face.

Bottom line: Don’t be fooled with quick weight loss diets. Effective weight loss is a combination of exercise and diet, the healthy way. Weight loss is not a piece of cake!

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What can you expect from your personal trainer?

Working with certified and experienced personal trainers offers many advantages:

  1. Custom programming. A knowledgeable personal trainer will create a customized exercise program for you, designed to help you reach your unique health and fitness goals. A trainer will also take into account special considerations (e.g. existing medical condition, pregnancy, post-rehabilitation, medications taken, etc) when creating a program exclusively for you.
  2. Safe and correct technique. When exercising, safety is the number one priority. A personal trainer will teach you the proper mechanics of each exercise and will ensure that you are performing each with correct form, thus maximizing the efficiency of your workouts.
  3. Motivation. Having a scheduled session with a trainer promotes accountability on your part, and can assist in developing adherence in the long run to making exercise a regular part of your routine. In addition to the outside motivation, a personal trainer can also help you develop a more positive outlook on exercise by exploring options for making exercise more enjoyable, reviewing short-term progress towards goals, and assessing feeling- and mood-state changes related to exercise, thereby improving self-confidence and self-motivation.
  4. Boredom prevention. A personal trainer can help you select activities that you enjoy, and also choose exercises that will keep you challenged and on track towards reaching your fitness goals. Personal trainers have vast knowledge of various exercises, tools and techniques that can make your workouts both fun and effective.

What can I expect during my initial training session?
During your initial meeting with a trainer, he or she will begin the process of getting to know you, in terms of your health and fitness goals, your health and exercise history, as well as your likes and dislikes. It is this information along with your trainer’s expertise and experience that will assist them in developing a customized program for you. Depending on your fitness goals, your trainer may administer a variety of assessments during the initial session, or may reserve some assessments until a point in your program that is more appropriate. The assessments that are ultimately selected are done so in line with your fitness goals, and are used to establish a baseline for progress comparison further down the road. Assessments are also used to gauge your current level of fitness, which can assist the trainer in developing your customized program (in terms of selecting proper exercise intensity, appropriate weight for strength training exercises, etc) and meeting your health and fitness needs. Examples of assessments that may be conducted include body composition assessments, movement screens and postural assessments.

How many times a week should I work out with my trainer?
Just like the program itself, how many times you meet with a trainer is a very individualized decision that depends on a variety of factors, including your schedule, fitness goals and your motivation level. Keep in mind that the ultimate goal of a quality personal trainer is to promote self-efficacy within the client, enabling them to take ownership of their exercise experience. It is for this reason that a good trainer will seek to truly educate clients (about things such as proper form, appropriate intensity, ways to stay motivated, ways to progress, etc) as opposed to just simply putting clients through a workout without having them understand the rationale as to why certain exercises were selected, and how the developed program relates back to their health and fitness goals.

How do I know which trainer is right for me?
It is important to note that not all trainers are created equal. When in comes to selecting the right personal trainer for you do some research and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Remember that it is your body and also your time and money. Choosing the right personal trainer ensures that you will receive the most from your training sessions and also that you will enjoy the experience. Keep in mind that an investment in the right personal trainer is an investment in your health and your success.

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