Posts Tagged ‘Exercise’

Are You Experienced???

May 17, 2011

Are you experienced?

Not long after I moved to Phoenix and joined those who would climb the local mountains, did I find myself remarking about other “novice” hikers. You know what I mean. When you see the helicopters circling Camelback or Piestewa Peak Mountains don’t you knee jerk in thought and say to yourself, “dumb tourist” or “first time hiker” almost in disgust?

Last October I was running the “Camelback Loop”. (run from one parking area to the other and then up one side of the mountain and down the other to the original spot where we began). It was a great day for me. Everything felt really good. I was on FIRE! Once on the mountain especially as I was coming down, dodging hikers, wondering why they were in my way. A stumble here and a stumble there but recovering every time. I was the King!…..Until about 10 yards from the end. I dodged around the last hiker, and my right foot caught a rock. When I pushed off of another with my left I heard my hamstring pop and I landed hard off trail. It took about 20 minutes for me to get up and limp away. Aggressive Physical Therapy for the next week allowed me to walk upright again. It would be another month before I could hike and a second month before I could run again.

Are you experienced?

In the past couple of months the news has been sprinkled with athletic tragedy. Sally Meyerhoff an experienced and accomplished athlete lost her life while biking. Clint McHale lost his while rock climbing at Camelback Mountain.

There are simple rules of the road to follow when biking and running on the streets. Wheels go with wheels (in other words, bikes should be riding in the same direction as cars) and runners should be running, facing traffic. Stop at traffic signs. These should be easy to follow yet we still find situations where we choose to play with the “edge” and push ourselves into danger zones.

What is it in our mind set that allows us to push the edge no matter the consequence but then fault others as if we should be immune to the same scrutiny? Is it that magical line that takes us from safety to danger that is alluring?  Is it in the name of that higher level of competition that we play with this?

I’m certainly not sure of the answers. But I am very aware of the fact that it could be me or any one of us that could be getting a free helicopter ride off the mountain. I have often been heard to say during training sessions “you have to train so that you can train another day”.

I certainly do not want to hear your name in the news tomorrow. And I have no intent in you hearing mine. Please be careful. Enjoy this environment that we live and play in. And respect it as well.

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Overtraining – Is This You?

April 5, 2011

How many times a week do you workout? Notice that I said times not days. If you’re doing a class in one part of your day and then running for a period of time or lifting weights during another part of your day then you’re working out more than once in that day. Count these, not the days. How many days a week do you take off?

How do you feel when you wake up the morning after a workout? Are you still tired? Have you become a little more irritable? Are your legs feeling heavy when you’re going for your next run or workout? If any of this sounds familiar you may be suffering from overtraining.

In a very detailed paper published by the School of Physiotherapy at Curtin University, they define over training as – “an imbalance between training/competition versus recovery. Alternatively stated, it is too much training or competition combined with too little time for regeneration.” They list symptoms among others as “waking unrefreshed, loss of competitive drive, injury, muscle soreness and joint pain.”

Butler Universities Adrian Shepard goes a little further and lists other symptoms as

  • Decrease in performance
  • Increase in resting heart rate and blood pressure
  • Increased muscle fatigue, disturbed sleep patterns
  • Depression, irritability, apathy and low self-esteem

Dr William Kraus a cardiologist at Duke University who studies exercise adds that “you just feel bad. The spark is gone.”

Dr Steven Keteyian, director of preventative cardiology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit says ‘there’s another trap, athletes are obsessed and gullible. They will do anything they can to improve their performance and they don’t know when to stop.”

As many of my clients have heard from me, the real work happens after the training ends. It begins with the recovery process. When the body has a chance to rejuvenate itself and prepare for the next load that is about to be delivered. If your body does not get this time to rest then you will continue to tear it down and it will NOT have a chance to increase its condition, and you can risk injury.

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How To Get The Most Out Of Your Upper Body Training

November 1, 2010

Just like everyone else I’m in a time crunch to get my workouts in. In the last year I have gone from circuit training to splitting up my body parts into separate days. Well as you can imagine even for someone who lives in a gym this can be time consuming.

But since I try to be more of a listener in order to be a learner, I have been taught that in a pinch I really only need to do two body parts per week for my upper body. Chest and back.

When working on my chest I am also indirectly using my tricep muscles. When working on my back I am also using my biceps. There are many weeks that go by that I only have time to do these groups and for sure my arms have not suffered.

This is how it works. The function of your tricep muscles is to extend your elbow. So every time I complete a pressing movement I am also contracting my triceps. Since the function of your bicep is to bend your elbow, every time you do a rowing motion you are also using your biceps.

So how about you? If you are doing resistance training how do you fit it into your schedule? Do you circuit, or like me do you hit different muscle groups? What is your efficiency level like in the gym? Are you a gabber or do you zone every distraction out, get your work done and then out the door so you can enjoy the rest of your life?

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Exercise and Arthritis

July 26, 2010

Nearly 27 million Americans are affected by arthritis. So what is arthritis and where does exercise come into the picture?

When the cartilage, which is the cushion at the ends of your bones breaks down. It causes the bones to rub up against each other. This can cause stiffness, pain and loss of movement in the joint. This is known as osteoarthritis.

Although arthritis is seen as something that happens in the normal course of aging, there are ways to manage this disease. One way this is done, yes you guessed it, is through exercise.

The John Hopkins Arthritis Center states that “Regular physical activity can keep the muscles around affected joints strong, decrease bone loss and may help control joint swelling and pain. Regular activity replenishes lubrication to the cartilage of the joint and reduces stiffness and pain. Exercise can enhance weight loss in those with arthritis who are overweight.”

The Arthritis Foundation says that –

  • For every one pound of weight loss, there is a four pound reduction in the load exerted on the knee for each step taken
  • Losing as few as 11 pounds can cut the risk of developing knee osteoarthritis by 50 percent for some women
  • Physical activity keeps joints flexible and maintains or improves muscle strength.

That information was directed towards the knee. But the same can be said for your ankles, hips, shoulders and elbows. If you keep the muscles that support your joints strong then they can support these joints while they are going through their range of motion.

So what about you? Has arthritis showed up in one or more of your joints? How has it affected your daily life? For me I can feel it in my hands, so I do exercises that help me with my grip. If you want ideas as far as what exercises will help with certain joints please feel free to ask me here or email me.

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Does Your Purpose Change With Age??

October 30, 2009

Why do you workout? For what purpose do you train? If you have been working out for any length of time (years), has your perspective of “why” evolved?

I recently became sick and found myself taking about 2 weeks off from my routine. This is the first time I have had any measurable time off for about 2 years. I typically lift 3 times per week and run or do some kind of cardio 3 times per week.

To give you a little background I’m approaching 51 yrs of age and I began exercising at 13. Over the years I have been kind of steady. Never taking a full year off but certainly life has gotten in the way (good & bad) and I have found myself in cycles, on/off/on/off.

During that time when I didn’t miss I had very focused goals in mind. Races, increase in amount of weight to lift, decrease of body fat, etc. Once I attained these goals I would then relax my intent.

I never thought that approaching any age would change me. But my routine took on a whole different attitude in the year approaching my 50th birthday. I DON’T MISS!

What strikes me now, and I see this in my senior clients is that my purpose has changed dramatically.

My seniors are amongst the most loyal clients that I have. It takes a mountain for them to cancel an appointment. They’re not concerned about bigger biceps, they’re not signed up for any races. They are very happy to come into the gym get their workout in and then get on with their lives. THEY DON’T MISS.

So what is different? Certainly, even if we don’t have full time jobs we still have schedules and obligations. It’s true just ask anyone who is retired, and they will tell you that they are busier now than when they worked.

Priorities have changed. And along with them so has my outlook on health & fitness. I still enter races, and oh yes I’m still very concerned with my aesthetics.

But now when I enter races it’s much more about having fun, rather than faster times, and being with the community that I enjoy so much.

Currently my oldest client is 86. She sees me 3 times a week and plays golf twice a week. I train several people in their 70’s and a few in their 80’s. They just want to be the best they can be for where they are in their lives. They are very happy to be using 2, 3 or 5 lb weights.

They are grateful for every day.

I’m a couple of decades away from these folks but I can relate more and more to what is most important in their lives.

Don’t get me wrong I still want to be in front of my friends at the finish line. And I still peek over to see how much weight my contemporaries are lifting.

But as long as I am exercising most days of the week then I am satisfied with where I am. I know that I am doing all that I can do to enjoy MY life and be as fit as possible.

We are all somewhere in the continuum of life. And the same goes for the level and intent of our health & fitness.

So what about you? And I realize that this question goes out to those who have been at this game for a long time. Has life changed your perspective concerning your goals? Are you as competitive as you use to be? As long as you are active there really isn’t a wrong answer to this.

For more Health & Fitness please visit our ongoing blog at

How Do You Train?

October 15, 2009

I train a lot of people. Some have events they are working towards. Some have very specific goals (weight loss, balance, specific body parts they want to improve).

Yet quite a few just want to be as well-conditioned as they can be.

When I first began to train others as an occupation the workouts were very “straight sets” based. This is how bodybuilders train. They do a set of a particular movement, rest, and then do another set of the same movement. We would repeat this process for each exercise and body part that we were working.

As I have evolved as a trainer I use circuit training as a rule. This especially suits my clients who are seeking out a higher level of conditioning.

A typical workout goes like this:

We will begin with an appropriate aerobic warm-up and then a stretching period to loosen up their body. And then it’s off to the races.

A session is about an hour and in that time I can work every major body part for multiple sets. We move from one exercise to another with little rest. I can do this by using opposing muscle groups or combining upper body to lower body.

An example of this would be to do a chest press into a lat pulldown right into a leg curl and then repeat. The client’s chest is resting while they are working on their back and then legs.

After a series like this I will typically put them on a cardio machine for 1 to 2 minutes at a moderate to high level. Their body isn’t getting any resistance placed on it but their hearts are working hard.

We then move on to the next series of resistance moves.

I’m often asked “what’s the rush?”

So what does this type of training do in a functional manner in the world outside of the gym?

All of my clients are driven, active people. Whether, this is at their job, their social life or as their lifestyle. What we are doing in the gym is conditioning their bodies for the stress that is placed upon it during their daily activities.

I work with grandparents who now have no problem keeping up with their grandchildren.

I work with heads of corporations who can lead by example. Because they can work circles around most of their younger executives due to their conditioning.

And I also train those who are at mid-life. They are looking ahead towards the rest of their lives and want to take their health and fitness into their own hands, before some disease that could have been prevented by exercise comes knocking on their door.

I would like you to ask yourself. How do I train? What am I training for? Do the two interconnect? Are you just spinning your wheels in the gym doing the same movements time after time?

Do you have any questions that you would like to ask me about what you are doing? Can I help you problem solve around a plateau?

As always I am at your service if you need any help. Just ask.

For more Health & Fitness information please visit our ongoing blog at

Stretching…..Do You???

August 15, 2009

This week I had a conversation with a fellow that I have been training for several years. In the past year he has stepped up his running and in fact is going to join our team for next year’s Ragnar Relay. I was taken back when he told me that he didn’t stretch after his runs. After some thought I realized that this was actually pretty common. Stretching after running should be as automatic as running itself. Not having enough time is not a good enough reason to not stretch. After all it really doesn’t have to take any more than 3 to 4 minutes to complete. After running I religiously put my knees through their full range of motion by doing 10 squats then do a standing quad stretch for 30 seconds each. After this, what is left is to stretch my hamstrings, again for 30 seconds each. This really assists in stopping a lot of the soreness that I would feel had I not gone through this routine. What do you do after running? Do you have a different routine that you follow? What can you share with the rest of us to assist in our recovery?