Category Archives: Fitness
No, I don’t mean alcoholic beverages. I’m talking about fluids such as water and Gatorade. A lot of people underestimate how important staying hydrated is to the body. It’s just as important to consume fluids before and after exercise, not just while you’re working out. I recently read a review article discussing hydration with water and sports drinks. Dehydration is a potential limiting factor in maintaining exercise intensity or duration. This is especially a problem in hot and humid environments, where sweating and excessive fluid lost is prominent. Some potential training/exercise problems associated with dehydration includes decreased strength and power as well as a reduced ability to maintain endurance-based tasks. While I know most people are generally well-hydrated in an exercise environment, the type of drink may influence your performance.
While drinking water is obviously better than nothing, it has been shown that consuming sports drinks (Gatorade or Powerade) can help better maintain your exercising abilities. Sports drinks contain carbohydrates and electrolytes, which aid in speeding rehydration, stimulates rapid fluid absorption, reduces the physiological stress on your body, and helps promote recovery. Depletion of carbs can cause fatigue and increase the perception of difficulty within the workout itself. Overall, staying hydrated is a key component during any physical activity. Drinking Gatorade can be more effective than plain water because of its added contents of carbohydrates and electrolytes. With that being said, don’t try to concoct your own sports drink. You can cause some major gastrointestinal distress if concentrations are not right. Keep those bottles filled as well as your body nourished. If you do that along with regular physical activity, you’re setting yourself up for a healthy and happy life.
Matt McCreary, FLEX Intern, UND Wellness Center
Need an improvement in your running or cycling performance, I know I do. Strength training with heavy or explosive movements will help improve your performance. People can’t forget about the importance of strength training because many endurance athletes avoid this type of training due to long recovery time, muscle soreness, and fatigue. However, it can definitely impact your overall fitness and improve areas of your body that don’t get much toning from running or cycling. Your legs may be in amazing shape, but adding strength training for your arms, shoulders, chest, and core can help balance out your body.
I enjoy running but the past three years I’ve been having runners knee. Runner’s knee is inflammation of the underside of the patella (knee). I didn’t know back then that strength training would help with my knee problems, but it does. Since I started strength training a few years ago I now have zero or low knee pain because I have incorporated strength training into my work out three times a week and I can enjoy running again. Strength training is important in an exercise routine because it helps improve your performance and helps build the stamina and strength for muscles and ligaments for running or cycling (as well as other aerobic exercises).
— Kelsey Olson, FLEX Intern UND Wellness Center
Keeps body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA. Prevents a type of anemia called, megaloblastic anemia (tired and weak)
Beef liver, clams, fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, fortified grains (check your nutrition facts label) – a multivitamin is for those who may be vegetarian or vegan.
Are you stuck at a plateau for exercising?
We’ve all been there with all different approaches on how to change up our routine or possibly not change up the routine at all and hoping that it’s just a minor phase in exercising.
After doing some research there is a fun new piece of equipment that can help in your exercise routine while helping to improve on your power and performance with weightlifting/powerlifting. This piece of equipment is called kettlebells. What makes a kettlebell so unique is the continuous and never-ending improvement which gives you a full body workout. The kettlebell appears to have something to do with the cannonball shape and the offset handle, which allow you to manipulate the kettlebell much differently than you could with a dumbbell, barbell, or any other training device. The shape and the handle allow you to perform ballistics and grinds. Ballistics are fast, explosive movements, while grinds are slow and deliberate. I have added kettlebell into my exercise routine and afterwards I feel the workout instantly. I wish I would’ve know about this piece of equipment before but now that I have I want to let everyone else in on this secret for a full body workout and to help improve on their exercise routine.
The best way to get started is to find a certified instructor and get qualified instruction from the beginning, if you can. This will ensure you get started off the right way and get results, faster and more safely than trying to figure it out on your own. For total body strengthening and conditioning, kettlebells are definitely a very special fitness and performance training tool to incorporate into your program.
- FLEX Intern Kelsey Olson
Are you one of those sitting a lot, not taking stretching breaks, constantly wearing a heavy backpack, or not exercising much? If yes, you may have noticed that back or neck pain has become a frequent guest. Even though you might be ignoring it, your body is actually trying to tell you something. It is time for you to start thinking about your posture when you sit, stand, sleep, and carry heavy backpacks or bags that might be weighing more than is healthy for your spine.
The danger is that if you keep ignoring the pain in your back and neck, your muscles will get strained or pulled and will stop supporting your spine correctly. Guess what- if your spine is not supported correctly, your vertebrae can get misaligned, nerves between the vertebrae can become pinched, and your brain will not be able to communicate with the body organs (how it usually does through the nervous system). This is not the news you want to hear about your spine and organs, right?
So how can you avoid the misalignment in your spine and say good-bye to the pain? There are a couple of good tips to consider:
- Exercise! Do it on a regular basis, not just weekends or when you have time. Exercise every day! Build up those back and neck muscles to help support the vertebrae and spinal ligaments.
- Maintain a healthy diet and weight. The less weight you are carrying around, the less stress you are putting on your back and neck joints and the less pain you will feel.
- Rest! Get a good night’s sleep every night, your muscles will be rejuvenated and ready for the next day.
- Relax! Take time to distress and become as stress free as possible; this will help those “knots” in your back.
- Keep good posture habits! Make sure that your back is straight, shoulders are squared, chin is up, chest is out, and stomach is in. If you can draw a straight line from your earlobe through your shoulder, hip, knee, to the middle of your ankle—–you’ve got it! To learn more about good posture, go to http://www.wikihow.com/Improve-Your-Posture
- When driving for long periods of time or sitting for extended hours, take stretch breaks, stand up and walk around at least once an hour.
- Avoid tucking the phone between your ear and shoulder and do not sleep on your stomach. This can cause stress and extra pressure on your cervical vertebrae and pinch nerves.
- Get lots of vitamin D and calcium. Your spine is made of bone so make sure you keep them strong!
- Lift with your knees bent, not from your back.
- Choose a well-padded backpack; wear it with both straps that are properly adjusted. It should weigh between 5-10 percent of your body weight- so keep excess items out of your bag!
Greetings UND Wellness Center members! My name is Matt McCreary and I am a senior majoring in Exercise Science and Wellness here at UND and I’m also a FLEX Intern at the Wellness Center for this Fall 2013 semester. FLEX stands for Future Leaders in Exercise and that’s exactly what I hope to be in the future. I’m hoping this internship provides useful insight into what I can expect in potential career opportunities while also helping to polish my skills as an effective communicator regarding health and wellness knowledge. My main responsibilities as a FLEX Intern are performing fitness assessments on members of the Wellness Center. This can range anywhere from getting skinfold measurements taken to a cardiovascular test on a treadmill. These are helpful tools for those of you who have health goals but maybe don’t know where to start. The fitness assessments are only a small fraction of services and activities offered at the Wellness Center.
Part of my process in becoming acclimated with the Wellness Center’s various offerings was to shadow one of the personal trainers and also to attend a Group Exercise (GX) class. I was fortunate to shadow Shawn, one of the personal trainers here at the Wellness Center, while he was with his client. Having a personal trainer that can help you reach your goals while also holding you accountable during the workout is the best of both worlds. These trainers understand that you want their help, and in return they put their best effort into developing a program that can meet your goals. They also are there to push you when things get tough, to motivate you feel like you want to quit, and to congratulate you when you complete your workout. I observed all three of these scenarios during Shawn’s and his client’s 75 minute session, and needless to say I was very impressed with the quality of work and effort from the two of them.
Another task I had to accomplish was to attend a GX class. Even though this is my 5th year at UND I never once attended a GX class prior to this internship. I attended the Power Cycling class offered on Saturdays at 11 in the morning. This was a new experience for me and shortly after it began a fun one at that. The class consisted of cycling at various speeds, resistance, and postures for 45 minutes. The class is set in the upstairs cycling room, fully equipped with a sound system, black lights, and a projector screen that plays music videos. Generally the rhythmic cycling that you do corresponds to the beat of the song playing, which provides the class with a little more entertainment than just staring at a blank wall in silence for 45 minutes. For me the biggest factor that got me working harder was the resistance on the bike. At first there is no resistance on the bike so pedaling is super easy, but as the class progresses the instructor will have you increase the resistance gradually. The resistance on the bike is altered a lot throughout the class which makes for a good change of pace in your cycling speed and thus your work output.
Overall this was a fun class and I recommend students and faculty take advantage of these free GX classes. There is something for everyone, whether you are super fit, a beginner, an early riser, a dance enthusiast, or a FLEX Intern. There’s plenty more to come in this blog so stay tuned for more insights.
- Matt McCreary
Have you ever wondered “Why should I pay for group exercise classes when there are free ones on the schedule?”
Believe me, I’ve wondered the same thing. – but then I realized one of the MAJOR benefits that come from these classes. I’m the type of person who doesn’t like being surrounded by a TON of people when I exercise. I usually workout at the Wellness during times when there are NOT a lot of people in the building – but I’ve always wanted a little extra guidance and motivation with my workouts without the many faces all trying to do the same things as me at the same time – like in group exercise classes. Let’s face it – I can get stuck in a rut sometimes, even as a personal trainer. So my choices for the extra guidance & motivation as well as the major change up to my routine was either hire a personal trainer for an hourly rate OR look into the Specialty Group Exercise program. Since I was a college student at this point – I was like any other college student and strapped for cash I had to decide what was more budget friendly, but still getting the same results. The answer? Specialty Group Exercise.
So when I discovered Boxing which was offered as a Specialty Class (a few years ago) – I fell in love with the SMALL class size. There were only 8 people in my class and I got some very valuable attention and training at about 1/12th the cost of a personal training package!
I had never pushed myself so hard in a workout in a long time. Sure in the past I’ve always had my good workouts that left me sore the next day, but in this case someone was there holding me accountable making sure I wasn’t letting myself become complacent and take the “easy” route. They encouraged me when I didn’t feel that great about myself,helped me meet my fitness goals and kept me moving!!
Now while Boxing isn’t here this semester (bummer I know!) – I know there are some great options to choose from – there is ViPR which is brand new and puts a fantastic spin on strength training – taking you back to some very functional work in a new light. Reformer Pilates (which I’ve taught in the past) that is a great CORE workout that helps with balance too – after teaching that class I always felt stronger than when I wasn’t teaching! Rise & Climb is a completely NEW concept – this class will teach you how to become a better climber, become a stronger climber and will get you into the wall during the off hours (now ladies – who couldn’t use a little upper body strengthening? Am I right??) And lastly Beginner’s Mediation Yoga – which will help you center yourself spiritually & emotionally to be able to help find yourself & help keep you calm in the waning moments of the fall semester. Registration is going on NOW for all of these so I encourage you to sign up too before all the spots are gone! Head to the Wellness Center website NOW!!!
I hope to see ALL of you trying something new!
I recently discovered a great blog post about the misconceptions of women lifting weights by a Philip Hoffman, MBA who is a Certified Sports Nutrition Coach and Certified Fitness Trainer. Its definitely worth a read and a great motivation to get your rear to the weight room!
Do Women Bulk-Up by Working Out with Heavy Weights?
Exposing the biggest myth in women’s fitness and how to develop a stunning body by knowing the truth.
I dedicate this article to all the women who have been deceived, duped and downright lied to by the media, women’s fitness magazines and anyone else attempting to profit on selling women worthless information and exercise gadgets.
Millions of women have been deprived of what I believe to be the most empowering method of training for improving the body. All because of the myth that lifting heavy weights will cause you to develop a bulky-looking body.
The myth never seems to die, and the question never stops being asked: will women get bulked-up if they lift heavy weights?
For more than 25 years women have asked me this question, and my answer has always remained the same: you’re much more likely to get bulky (read fat) if you don’t lift weights.
Misconceptions pervade the fitness industry, but nowhere is it more prevalent than in women’s fitness.
It’s time for more industry professionals step up and refute these false notions and spread the word so that women can at least know the truth. Little is being done to educate women on the truths about muscle building, metabolism and permanent weight loss using honest, sustainable methods and strategies. I’m determined to do my part by writing this guide for women.
It’s easy to understand why so many women fall prey to this myth. It’s everywhere!
To a large degree, part of the problem is lack of knowledge about the benefits of strength conditioning with weights. Many people think if they want to lose weight, they shouldn’t be lifting weights. It’s like there’s this nonsensical thinking that heavy weight lifting produces heavy, bulky humans. Some women immediately create the image in their mind of a she-male bodybuilder freak when someone mentions lifting weights. The truth is that the opposite occurs.
Some of you may have aspired to lift weights at one point or another but ended up not following through for one reason or another. Maybe you were simply overwhelmed by the whole gym experience, strolling aimlessly through the maze of exercise machines like a lost puppy in the gym.
Since I’ve spent a significant part of my life coaching clients, I know what goes through people’s minds when they are new to the gym.
You start by doing what you’re confident with doing. This usually means walking over to one of the treadmills, elliptical walkers or some other cardio machine, but you’re afraid to try anything else.
Here are 3 commonly stated reasons why women fear lifting weights:
- You are afraid you’ll get too big and bulky
- You only want to tone muscles, but not build muscles
- You fear lifting incorrectly and are intimidated by free weights
1. The fear of getting big and bulky
If you’re bulky, it’s because you’re fat. It’s not because you have too much muscle. If you don’t lift weights, you won’t have a lot of lean muscle mass. And if you don’t have a lot of lean muscle mass, then that bulk you’re referring to is nothing more than fat tissue.
If you doubt what I’m saying, schedule a body composition analysis test so you can see the results yourself. The test will indicate the amount of lean vs. fat tissue you possess. Once you begin a serious weight lifting routine, you’ll see your body composition greatly improve while you actually get smaller from losing fat tissue.
In some ways, I find it almost insulting on a personal-level when someone says they don’t want to put on too much muscle or become too big from lifting weights. I bust my butt at least five days a week and have done so for many years; let me be the one to tell you that getting big from lifting weights is the last thing you need to worry about.
The reality is that muscle mass is difficult to develop and you should celebrate every ounce you can gain. As you age, your life will depend on this muscle.
When someone says they don’t want to develop too much muscle, it’s like saying you don’t want to eat so healthy because you don’t need all that health. Or you don’t want to work too much because you’ll make too much money. You should only wish it were so easy.
Increasing muscle mass, unless you’re a male between age 16 and 25, with high-levels of testosterone, takes a very long time to develop. You have to work hard for years, training with heavy weights to build a considerable amount of muscle.
Let’s assume for a second that women could develop large muscle mass by heavy weight training. As soon as you stopped lifting, you would lose most of what you gained. The body begins to immediately shed its extra muscle mass when a stimulus is removed (i.e. Heavy weight lifting).
Maintaining muscle mass requires a constant stressor and isn’t something the body permanently holds. Your muscles will begin to atrophy as briefly as two weeks after discontinuing your workout routine.
Lifting weights does not create a bulky, unfeminine body. In fact, it creates a leaner, more athletic, elegant-looking body. Muscle is far more compact than fat; so the more muscle you build, and the fat you lose, the smaller you’ll actually become. And the more lean muscle tissue you acquire, the more calories you’ll burn 24/7.
As a result, your basal metabolic rate (BMR) will increase which should be the ultimate goal for anyone wanting to decrease body fat and stay lean. Increasing lean muscle mass by lifting weights is by far the most effective strategy of increasing your BMR.
In more than 35 years, I’ve yet to see even one female get big, bulky and muscular with the exception of those who took anabolic steroids. If I haven’t met a single woman that experienced this problem while lifting heavy weights, how is it that other women have seen differently?
Are people using women in bodybuilding magazines to base their conclusions?
Has anyone ever honestly seen the elusive women who acquire large, bulky muscles that aren’t in fact bodybuilders who take steroids?
The physiological reason women don’t develop big muscles from lifting weights
It’s all about the testicles
There is one simple reason why women are incapable of acquiring muscle mass anywhere close to the level that a male is capable of acquiring…the hormone testosterone.
Normal testosterone levels in men are 300-1100 ng/dl while in women normal is 15-70 ng/dl. If you compare the median-range testosterone levels in men and women, men’s = 700 and women’s = 42.5. On average, men produce roughly 16 times more testosterone than women, and many research articles state levels greater than 25 times more!
Testosterone levels in the body have a large range because all age groups are taken into consideration.
Consider this for a moment. Every male in the gym works to gain as much muscle as possible. Recalling the fact that men produce more than 15 times the testosterone of females, you’d think men could easily develop as much muscle mass as they desired.
There are very few men that are able to gain a significant amount of muscle mass without the use of anabolic steroids. Ask any male gym enthusiast if he has to cut down on his weight lifting because he’s developing too much muscle mass and see what he tells you.
Instead, males eagerly search for any supplement or training methods that provide them with an edge in developing muscle, because muscle gains are minimal and difficult to acquire.
If gaining muscle was so easy to gain, why does there exist a multi-billion dollar market for muscle-building products and information?
My point is this; not even males have to worry about getting too big! Anyone that you see with grossly large muscles is consuming steroids. Unless you have a rare set of genes, you’re going to work your ass off just to gain some respectable muscle.
Another point to clarify here is that women do produce testosterone, but it’s in such small quantities that it’s ridiculous to debate the natural ability of growing massive muscles in 99.9% of females.
Even women who dedicate their entire lives to lifting weights don’t get large and bulky because their bodies don’t naturally produce enough testosterone.
In addition to large differences in testosterone between men and women, there are also major structural differences in the size of their muscle fibers.
Men have contractile muscle fibers that are two times larger than women. In fact, research continues to reveal that although females can make significant increases in strength by weight training, they are not capable of increasing muscle size to the degree that men can.
2. The desire to tone muscles but without building
One of the most commonly-stated myths in women’s health is that you can “tone” your muscle without building muscle.
There is no difference in these terms, but the fitness industry and media use these terms to trick women by making them think they don’t have to worry about building bulky muscles. Women are misled into believing they can “tone muscles”. This is an aesthetically-pleasing euphemism that’s very effective in marketing.
“Tone” is a term women’s fitness magazines use as an alternative to “building muscle”.
To avoid the chance that women will envision images of steroid-induced, huge, bulky women bodybuilders, slick marketers use the “toned muscle” terminology in their advertising.
The toning myth has led to another misconception:
Women should workout differently than men.
The toning misconception is strongly supported by the media and fitness industry for the sole reason of selling gender-targeted activities and gym memberships. This, of course is at the expense of your fitness goals.
The marketing gender is powerful and is done so for good reason-profits. Fitness clubs sell memberships to women according to classes that are appealing. Clubs that have the latest treadmills with insulated cup-holders to keep your water cool or high-tech, selectorized weight machines that are stylish are all part of the plan to attract the female client.
Statistics indicate that females make up two-thirds (66%) of all gym members. That’s why there’s so much emphasis on appealing to selling to women. Helping you get results is secondary to what’s best for the health clubs.
What women need to assess when they’re looking to become a member of a gym are the free weights such as the dumbbells and barbells, number of benches, and area to perform your core-training exercises.
Instead, what we observe is the sales person walking a potential gym member through the gym, showing you the fancy equipment, yet walking by the free weight area with a comment like, “oh-and this is our free-weight area” with nothing more to say.
The key point is this: Women don’t have special needs as it relates to a method of training to develop a fit, strong and feminine body. Anyone telling you otherwise is lacking in knowledge and experience.
The truth is women need to train using the same type of equipment, applying the same principles of training, and performing the same exercise routines as men.
There’s no such concept as exercises for men and exercises for women. All the crap you see in women’s fitness magazines only serves to sabotage women’s effort to making crucial, life-changing progress to shaping the body and getting lean.
If you have any doubts about what I’m saying, take the time to do some research and read about the fitness philosophies of some of the foremost strength and conditioning authorities in the nation such as, Alwyn Cosgrove, John Berardi, Shawn Phillips, Tom Venuto or Bret Contreras.
It drives me crazy whenever I see personal trainers at the gym, training women using weights so small they could perform 40 repetitions.
The usual nonsense remark is this is the way to “tone” their muscles to look “slim and “feminine”. In reality, all they’re doing is wasting their clients’ hard-earned time and money.
There are millions of frustrated women that are making little to no progress with their fitness goals because of the powerful misconceptions that have been implanted in their heads by the media and fitness industry marketers.
The current approach that women are following is not working. As Einstein once quoted; the definition of insanity is someone that does the same thing over and over again yet expects a different result.
It’s time to change the way you work out if you expect to see different results.
Accept the fact that you need to workout performing the same exercises as men and you’ll be miles ahead of other women, and on your way to strengthening and shaping your body in a way you never thought possible.
3. You fear being judged by others and are intimidated by free weights
You’re not alone with your fear and intimidation of how to lift and use the free-weight area of the gym. In fact, I would say that men who are novice lifters have a greater fear because expectations are higher for males.
To help remedy the fear of being judged, you have a couple different options.
First, you can purchase equipment for home-based workouts until you gain a baseline level of experience and feel comfortable moving on to joining a gym. I recently wrote an article on my blog called How to set-up a home-based gym. You can view the list of equipment necessary to perform the exercises I recommend.
You could also seek out a qualified trainer that can teach you how to properly perform the compound exercise movements discussed. I seldom see personal trainers coaching women how to train this way, so you’ll have to get a referral from someone that knows what they’re doing.
Another option is to join a local cross fit gym and learn a few basic exercises. After one month, you should know how to perform the exercises on your own and then you can join a gym.
The worst thing you can do is allow fear to deprive you of experiencing the incredible benefits of weight training. There’s no reason to be intimidated by guys in the free-weight area of the gym.
Start reading articles on websites that write about weight training, watch YouTube videos and join a respectable forum where you can get help with questions. There will definitely be a learning curve just as there is with everything we do in the beginning.
You might feel intimidated and want to say “to hell with it” and want to hide out in the cardio area of the gym, but you must get over this. No one really cares what you’re doing in the gym. If you think people are staring at you because you’re not lifting with perfect form, you’re most likely very wrong. People are wrapped up with their own concerns and that doesn’t include you.
In fact, guys have respect for women that weight train, and there’s a chance you’ll intimate a guy with your experience. Especially once you know what you’re doing. The number of males that incorrectly perform the basic, functional exercises in the free-weight area is horrendous.
In my book, The 9 Principles For a Lean & Defined Body, I mention improper exercise form as one of the principles. One of the major reasons why most males don’t make significant progress is because of their poor exercise form and technique.
Learn proper exercise form, lose the fear factor, and you’ll intimidate some of the guys by your performance! I guarantee it.
Why you’ll actually get smaller by lifting weights:
The density of fat vs. muscle tissue
I’m sure you’ve heard before that muscle is more compact than fat. The reason for this is because of the difference in densities of the two types of tissue.
Fat takes up more space because it’s very soft and loose so fat occupies more space than muscle does when comparing equal weights of both tissue types.
Muscle density is 1.06 kg per liter of space and fat density is 0.919 kg per liter of space. That makes muscle about 18% more dense than fat.
If you gained 10 lbs. of muscle at the same time you lost 10 lbs of fat, you would be smaller in size. On the scale you’d weigh the same, but your pants for example would be looser.
Top 8 Reasons why every woman should lift weights:
- Increases your metabolism and BMR so that you are burning fat 24/7.
- Become empowered and increase your confidence. Becoming strong carries over into many other areas of life and helps you to be successful.
- Enhances curves, sculpts and shapes your body by increasing muscle tissue.
- Reduces chances for osteoporosis by increasing bone density
- Most effective anti-aging activity that exists for creating the “Fountain of Youth”.
- Reduces chances for many life-style related diseases and chronic illnesses.
- Increases energy levels and mood through the release of brain-chemicals that reduce anxiety and depression.
- Increases quality of life and well-being in countless areas such as sexuality, vitality, and relationships.