Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Strength training is important for anti-aging (keep muscle tone), healthy weight management (boost metabolism = fat burning), and great for improving daily tasks (get out of bed without back pain = core strength and well-aligned squats). Strength training is doing the same exercise repeatedly until "failure" where you think can't do anymore. Then doing 2-4 sets of these "reps" (with a rest period in between) helps you recruit new muscle fibers as you have exhausted a group of muscle fibers in the first set. When I teach a fitness class, whether 1-1 or in a group, we do super-sets, which means we stimulate lower body muscle tone, switch to upper body (to allow the lower body to "rest"), and then repeat. If we're not super-setting, we stay active during the "rest period" with core strength exercises, cardio, or treat you to stretching.
You don't need fancy weight machines to get your strength training. Creativity with bands, dumbbells, and body weight works your muscle tone anywhere. That means we can workout at the park, on travel at the hotel, or at a conference room through a workplace wellness class. To get the most results out of your strength-training efforts, you want to remember fuel your body properly, just like my weight loss students need to manage their blood sugar by eating every 3-4 hours.
In today's carb-heavy junk food environment, it is up to you to keep healthy snacks in your gym bag, purse, or office desk with you so you are never desperately hungry. Some kind of carb+protein snack an hour before you work out and a protein-centric meal to help your muscles rebuild. If you need help getting protein on-the-go, smoothies are a great way pack in antioxidants and protein! And don't forget your fiber-rich veggies to help you detox and eliminate waste products from exercise and improve digestion! If you don't get enough fiber (email us for a fiber-ful worksheet), you can support your health with either a protein+fiber shake or a detox fiber powder that will help flatten your stomach.
Now, the key to good exercise is that we recover and can continue to do more workouts. Most people forget about exercise recovery, especially with the adrenaline high from exercise, you don't feel the exhaustion or pains until later. I have been working with some long-distance cyclists who need to watch out for "over-heating" with the hot LA weather, or simply exhaustion from a long ride. Are you fueling and hydrating enough for your workout, your hike, or ride? Are your muscles sore for too long and you're getting "charlie horses?" If your muscles are stiff, you're likely to be one of the many athletes who aren't getting enough potassium and magnesium, even if you eat your bananas and green veggies. Coconut water is your best friend of potassium against calf cramps and these days you can really pick you flavors. Happy exercising! (and recovery!)