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Monday, July 28, 2008

Exercising in the Heat

It is very important to remember the potential dangers that come
with exercising in hot conditions. As long as you know the do's and
don'ts of working out in the heat, then you can fully take advantage
of all the fun of summer.

What you should do: Drink plenty of fluids. It's extremely important
to stay hydrated. If you're thirsty then you are already dehydrated;
drink before you feel a need to. Be sure to drink throughout the day
(stick to non- caffeinated beverages, preferably water). Also, drink
15-20 minutes before beginning your workout and every 15 minutes
throughout the exercise.

Eat regularly. The heat can decrease your appetite, but it's important
to eat normally. Try to eat small meals 5-6 times a day. Include
lots of fruits and vegetables. Aside from being nutritious, fruits
also tend to help with hydration.

Wear light, loose fitting clothes that can breathe. Cotton is always
a good choice. If your outdoor activity produces a lot of perspiration,
consider clothing that is designed to wick the sweat away.

Wear sunscreen. Even if you exercise early in the morning or late in
the evening, if the sun can reach you then you can get burned. Not
only is a sunburn bad on the skin and potentially dangerous but it
also hinders your bodies ability to stay cool.

Use common sense and don't attempt strenuous activities that your
body is not accustomed to. Stick to exercises that you are
very familiar and comfortable with.

Check the weather forecast. It's best not to participate in intense
outdoor exercise sessions when the heat index registers in the
dangerous zone.

What you should not do: Don't try to diet by sweating. Excessive
perspiration is not the key to permanent weight loss. Any decrease
in the scale would simply be a result of water loss, not fat
reduction.

Don't adapt the "no pain, no gain" motto. Ignoring your body's signals
could be dangerous. Heat-related illnesses come with warning signs.
Be sure to learn how to recognize them and what actions to take.
Don't forget to drink plenty of liquid when swimming. Just because
your body is surrounded by water does not mean that you are
well-hydrated. As with any land exercises, you need to regularly
replenish lost fluids when in the pool.

Avoid physical activity during the hottest part of the day, which
usually is between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. If you want (or need) to be
working in very hot temperatures, don't do it until you become
acclimated.

Try to spend only a few minutes a day in the hot conditions for
the first couple of weeks and then add time gradually each day.

Avoid extreme changes in temperature. Don't hop from being
extremely hot and sweating excessively right into an ice cold,
air-conditioned environment. Try to cool your body down slightly
before exposing it to the extreme temperature variation.

Whether you have to work outside or do it for enjoyment, following
the above tips will help you stay cool and safe during the dog
days of summer. So, don't spend the season cooped up, get out
there and have some fun!

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Do You Suffer Lower Back Soreness After Squats?
By John O'Neill, Australia

Squats are unquestionably a great way to train legs (and a
lot else), but a lot of people seem to suffer low back
soreness, even after warming up and using correct
technique. Personally, I used to have mild low back
soreness for days after doing heavy squats
(incidentally, by heavy I mean what is heavy to you). This
unfortunately means many people will avoid squats
altogether.

A few months ago I changed my entire routine, and now
no longer suffer any back soreness - in fact my lower
back has never felt better. The trick seems to be training
lower back directly after upper legs. My gut feeling is
that the Leg Curls are also useful though. The routine I
am using for my upper leg/lower back day is:

* Squats (2 sets x 10-12)
* Leg Extensions (2 sets x 10)
* Leg Curls (2 sets x 10)
* Hyperextensions (2 sets x 10-15)
* Seated Good Mornings (2 sets x 10-15)

By necessity I train at home alone so am limited in what
exercises I can choose. Just vary the routine I have given
above to fit it with your own circumstances and routine. I
also warmup/stretch before the workout, and do a bit of
stretching/warmdown afterwards, especially for lower
back.

In case you're wondering, I do the Hyperextensions off
the end of a standard bench press bench, gripping around
the bench with my legs and using a towel to help pad it for
my inner thighs. I hold a light weight across my chest to
help add resistance (currently only about 20lbs), and
would be wary about going too much heavier.

The Seated Good Mornings I do on a normal chair, but
they could also be done off the side or end of a bench.
Extend your upper body right down between your
spread legs, keeping back straight and head up. In
fact this is virtually a stretching movement, but again
I use a light weight held across my chest (currently
35lbs). Again I would be wary about trying to 'go heavy'
in this movement.

Just a word of warning. If you do now, or after trying
this routine, continue to suffer low back soreness from
squats or any other exercise, please get your technique
checked by someone that knows how it should be done.
It's not worth wrecking your back.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chains For Gains
by Ken O'Neill

Use of chains in training seems thus far limited to those following
the regimes of Louie Simmons and his Westside Barbell Club, or
his impact on strength training for football teams. As such, they
remain secret yet to be discovered by many.

Admitting to being an addicted reader and eximenter, news of
Simmons' rotine reached me months ago. A couple of workout
visits to Dave Goddin's Hyde Park Gym while vacationing in
Austin last summer gave me the chance to work out with
chains while squatting. I was sold.

How do you use chain? Eccentric resistance, basically the key to
early Nautilus machine design. An added boost for me is that
training with chain in pressing movements has profoundly healed
rotator cuff irritations. Using a power rack, you set the chain so
that it doesn't start coming off the ground adding resistance until
you're well past the mid range/sticking point of a movement,
adding resistance gradually through the lock out phase.

Powerlifters report rapid progress in breaking sticking points in
their lifts doing this. I recently purchased two three-foot chains
each weighing 25 pounds. I attach them to my bar with a steel ring
and a pair of hooks attached to a 5-foot length of ΒΌ" chain. That
allows for fast changing of the length of chain for specific
movements (i.e., bench press, incline press, seated press). For
example, load your bar to 200 lbs for the bench press; by the
last quarter of the movement you'll be lifting 240-250 pounds
into peak contraction and lockout. Good for squats and rack
deadlifts, too.

A basic starter kit involves two 25 pound chains and two 12-13
pound chains. The lighter ones are better for delt press and
tricep extensions, but can be added with the heavier ones as
strength increases mount up. Simmons says his lifters also
gain another benefit: speed with heavier poundages. Some
folks reportedly exienced upward of 50 pound sonal
record increases within 2 short months of chain work on the
squat and deadlift. This is what Nautilus claimed it could do.
With a home gym power rack you can suddenly make some
great gains.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

How We Lose Weight

Your body weight is controlled by the number of calories you eat
and the number of calories you use each day. So, to l ose w eight
you need to take in fewer calories than you use. You can do this
by becoming more physically active or by eating less. Following
a weight-loss program that helps you to become more physically
active and decrease the amount of calories that you eat is most
likely to lead to successful weight loss. The weight-loss program
should also help you keep the weight off by making changes in
your physical activity and eating habits that you will be able to
follow for the rest of your life.

Diet

The word "diet" probably brings to mind meals of lettuce and
cottage cheese. By definition, "diet" refers to what a person eats or
drinks during the course of a day. A diet that limits portions to a
very small size or that excludes certain foods entirely to promote
w eight l oss may not be effective over the long term. Rather, you
are likely to miss certain foods and find it difficult to follow this
type of diet for a long time. Instead, it is often helpful to gradually
change the types and amounts of food you eat and maintain
these changes for the rest of your life. The ideal diet is one that
takes into account your likes and dislikes and includes a wide
variety of foods with enough calories and nutrients for good health.

How much you eat and what you eat play a major role in how much
you weigh. So, when planning your diet, you should consider: What
calorie level is appropriate? Is the diet you are considering
nutritionally balanced? Will the diet be practical and easy to follow?
Will you be able to maintain this eating plan for the rest of your life?

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Calculate Your Daily Calories

Here's a simple formula you can use to estimate your total caloric
needs for the day.

Change your weight in pounds to kilograms: Divide your weight by 2.2.

Your basal metabolic rate is approximately one calorie per kilogram
per hour. Multiply your weight in kilograms by the 24 hours in a day.
This is the number of calories you burn just being alive each day.

Now factor in activity: Multiply your calories needed a day (from #2
above) by the following factors, depending on your activity level:

Light activity: multiply #2 by 1.3
Moderate: multiply #2 by 1.4
Heavy: multiply #2 by 1.5

If you sit at a desk for your job, and workout 30 minutes a day, this is
considered light activity. If your job involves more motion, and you
are active in addition to your workout (you take stairs, walk to work, do
a lot of housework, etc.), this is considered moderate activity.
Construction work, athletic activity, etc. is considered heavy activity.
Most Americans are in the "light activity" level.

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