Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Are your shoulder workouts doing more harm than good?

For boot campers and gym rats looking to build strength, poor form or technique can turn shoulder workouts into a fast track to physical therapy. About a third of all resistance training injuries involve the deltoids--the muscles that form the rounded contour of the shoulder, making them one of the most common injuries that occur in the weight room.

But many of these injuries can be prevented with small changes in technique, a fact highlighted by new research published in the latest issue of Strength & Conditioning Journal.

The research focuses on one of the most popular shoulder exercises for men and women: the upright row. If you spend any time around the weight rack at your gym, chances are you know it.

To perform an upright row, pick up a barbell with an overhand grip, hold it by your waist, and lift straight up toward your chin. Some people use a pair of light dumbbells, kettle bells or a cable machine. All accomplish the same goal, strengthening the trapezius (a large muscle that spans the neck, shoulders and back) and the medial deltoid (the middle of the three muscles that make up the deltoids).

The problem, research shows, is that most people invariably lift the weight too high, which can lead to shoulder impingement, in which the shoulder blade rubs, or impinges, on the rotator cuff, causing pain and irritation.

...So, here are three simple steps to remember, which can reduce the risk of injury:

1) Keep the weight as close to your body as possible during the movement.
2) Avoid the temptation to pull the weight up to your chin or nose.
3) Don’t let your elbows or the weight climb any higher than your shoulders.

The same rule holds for another popular exercise called the lateral raise, which develops the medial deltoids. For this exercise, it's important to lift the weights out to the side, arms slightly bent — but do not extend any higher than the level of your shoulders. Just as with the upright row, poor form in the lateral raise can lead to impingement.

Exercising the medial deltoids carries a number of aesthetic and practical benefits. In addition to creating more muscle definition, the exercises can round out the shoulders and enhance the look of the upper arms.  They can also build strength for everyday activities like carrying groceries, lifting heavy objects or hoisting small children.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Core Muscles

The major muscles of your core include:

•Transverse Abdominis (TVA) - The deepest of the abdominal muscles, located under the obliques (muscles of your waist). It acts like a weight belt, wrapping around your spine for protection and stability.
Target Exercise: Plank

• External Obliques - These muscles are on the side and front of the abdomen, around your waist.
Target Exercise: Arm Sweep

• Internal Obliques - These muscles lie under the external obliques, running in the opposite direction.
Target Exercise: Crossover Crunch

• Rectus Abdominis - The Rectus Abdominis is a long muscle that extends along the front of the abdomen. This is the 'six-pack' part of the abs that becomes visible with reduced body fat.
Target Exercise: Crunch

• Erector Spinae - The erector spinae is actually a collection of three muscles along your neck to your lower back.
Target Exercise: Back Extension

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Last 10 Pounds

You know what I like to call those last 10 or 15 pounds that won't come off no matter what you do? Vanity pounds. The term describes our desire to lose weight that, as far as our bodies are concerned, actually feels healthy. Today's society pressures us to want to look a certain way, so for aesthetic reasons we try to be thinner than our bodies want us to be. Losing your first 50 pounds might have been tough, but believe me, dropping those final few stubborn pounds is a whole different challenge. The body struggles to hold on to that last bit of fat for survival purposes. Now, don't get me wrong, you can lose the weight if you want to, but it will require you to muster a tremendous amount of restraint and willpower. If you're really up for it, try the following for 30 days: 

Cut your sodium to 1,000 mg a day.

Drink at least 80 ounces of water daily.

Cut out processed foods.

Abstain from alcohol.

Train at 85 percent of your MHR (Maximum Heart Rate) for 60 minutes at least 3 times a week.

Dynamic Stetching

The best kind of warm up before a tough workout is a few minutes of cardio (such as jumping rope or jumping jacks) followed by dynamic stretching. We were taught years ago to sit or stand and stretch one muscle group at a time. Contrary to popular belief, this kind of static stretching — which helps prevent muscle soreness and improves flexibility — is best performed AFTER a workout, when your muscles are very warm and loose. In the past several years, fitness experts have discovered that there is a much more effective and healthy way to stretch BEFORE a workout: the dynamic stretch. Dynamic stretching is basically stretching with motion, so your body gets a chance to warm up the muscles slowly and in a functional way. It's a 1-2-3 punch: You warm up your body, get your heart rate up, and stretch all at the same time! Do them on a level surface for a total of about five minutes before you begin your workout. You will notice that with time the exercises will become easier and they will help improve your coordination, flexibility, and balance. High-Knee Walking and Trunk Rotations are some good ones to try!The best kind of warm up before a tough workout is a few minutes of cardio (such as jumping rope or jumping jacks) followed by dynamic stretching. We were taught years ago to sit or stand and stretch one muscle group at a time. Contrary to popular belief, this kind of static stretching — which helps prevent muscle soreness and improves flexibility — is best performed AFTER a workout, when your muscles are very warm and loose. In the past several years, fitness experts have discovered that there is a much more effective and healthy way to stretch BEFORE a workout: the dynamic stretch. Dynamic stretching is basically stretching with motion, so your body gets a chance to warm up the muscles slowly and in a functional way. It's a 1-2-3 punch: You warm up your body, get your heart rate up, and stretch all at the same time! Do them on a level surface for a total of about five minutes before you begin your workout. You will notice that with time the exercises will become easier and they will help improve your coordination, flexibility, and balance. High-Knee Walking and Trunk Rotations are some good ones to try!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How Many Calories Do You Burn When You Run a Mile? Try this Simple Calculator to Find Out!

Want to know how many calories you burn when you run a mile? Or 2 miles? Or maybe even 10? You can use the simple calculator below to find out! Enter your weight and the number of miles you ran (or plan to complete), and then hit calculate!

Because this calculator doesn't account for age, gender, and other factors, it's important to note that this tool only produces a general estimate.


Your
Weight
# of
Miles
Calories
Burned
Comment from Keebs Fitness

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Advice for Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions

Every January, with the dawning of another year, the annual New Year's resolution becomes one of those good ideas that never seems to work out as intended. Many people still approach the year's start with a laundry list of do's and don'ts that they hope can make a change in their lives.

What you're doing whenever you're changing habits is replacing one set of memories with another. That's a really important piece of it. When you're thinking about habit change and making New Year's resolutions, the most difficult New Year's resolutions for people to keep are usually the ones where they are trying to stop doing something.

Stopping an action means trying to take memories that you have and replacing them with nothing. People say they're going to eat less or they're going to stop smoking or they're going to stop drinking. One of the reasons it's hard to do that is now you're replacing this behavior with no behavior. So what you need to do is replace a habit with some other behavior.

Come up with an alternate behavior any time you want to do what you hope to stop. If you are trying to give up ice cream, for example, switch to frozen yogurt or a healthier food item when you would normally endulge. In situations where you can't come up with a behavior to replace the old one, find something that competes with it. For example, if you want to quit smoking, adopt the goal to run a 5K race. It is hard to remain a smoker if you are trying to train for a road race.

Good luck with your resolutions this year, and please don't hesitate to email Keeb Fitness for more advice.