The Official eNewsletter of TODAY! Fitness

vol. 2006 issue 7



WORKing Out

A common complaint that I often hear from those that are already involved in an exercise program is that after several months or years of doing the same routine, they are not realizing as many, or as significant, results as they did in the beginning.  There are a few factors that can influence this scenario (frequency, intensity, duration, mode) but let's talk about intensity.

As I have mentioned before, the "overload principle" in exercise performance states that beneficial adaptations occur in response to demands applied to the body at levels beyond a certain threshold.  This means that you should not get too "comfortable" with a certain weight during resistance training, or a certain program with your aerobic workout.  You will obtain the most benefit from a exercise session by challenging yourself on a daily basis. 

It is important to kick up your intensity whenever possible while understanding the limits of tolerance and safety.  So if your personal trainer recommends 2 sets of bench press for 12 repetitions, rep number 12 should be fairly difficult to complete.  Once you are able to get the last repetition comfortably, it's time to throw another 5 lbs or so on the bar for your next set!

Likewise, if you are running on the treadmill, riding the bike, or using the elliptical trainer, you should monitor your heart rate and try to stay in your training zone.  When you have difficulty keeping your heart rate high enough, it's time to increase the resistance, speed, or other program parameters that will continue to challenge you.

Something is better than nothing, but if you really want to get the most from your time and energy, make sure you have the appropriate intensity.  There's a reason why they call it working out!

Got Water?

Maintaining hydration is by far the greatest concern for regular exercisers.  If you are dehydrated you will fatigue earlier and lose coordination skills.  Your performance can suffer when you lose as little as 2% of body weight due to dehydration.  To prevent this from happening, exercising individuals must drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after a workout.  Relying on thirst as an indicator of how much fluid is lost is not an accurate method.  If you relied on thirst, you would only put back 50 to 75% of the fluid that you lost and you would start your next workout already in a state of dehydration.  Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink, and do not stop drinking once your thirst has been quenched.  Most people have no idea how much fluid they need, let alone how much they have lost during the day or during exercise.  To gain insight into fluid losses, you should monitor your fluid levels by one of two methods:

  • Weigh in before and after a workout.  Consume two to three cups of fluid for each pound of body weight lost.

  • Check urine color.  A dark gold color means that you are dehydrated.  A pale yellow color, or no color at all, means that you are headed toward a state of hydration.  If you consume a lot of caffeine, which is a diuretic, you will have pale or clear urine even though you are, in fact, dehydrated.  Alcohol also is a very powerful diuretic.

Guidelines for Fluid Raplacement

  • Consume one to two cups (8 to 16 ounces) of fluid at least one hour before the start of exercise.  If possible, consume 8 ounces of fluid 15 to 30 minutes before the start of exercise.

  • Consume 4 to 8 ounces of fluid every 10 to 15 minutes during the workout.

  • Consume 16 to 24 ounces during the 30 minutes after exercise, whether thirsty or not.

Sports Drinks
Most experts will now recommend sports drinks to exercising individuals, especially if their workout lasts longer than 60 minutes.  The fear that sports drinks impair fluid absorption is unfounded, and it has been shown that sports drinks formulated with 6 to 8% carbohydrates plus at least 100 mg sodium per 8 oz replace fluids just as fast as water, improve performance, and help ensure optimal rehydration.  They also maintain physiological function as well as, if not better than, water.

Pay attention to the percentage of carbohydrates in each drink.  Those containing less than 5% carbohydrate do not provide enough energy to enhance performance, and beverages containing 10% carbohydrate or more (fruit juices and soda) are associated with intestinal cramping, nausea, diarrhea, and impaired absorption.


Elite Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!

L-Sit Raises

L-Sit Raises are a good exercise for targeting the muscles in your upper abdomen.   I don't particularly like doing the exercise, mostly because you will generally feel the burn pretty quick.  But once you lose that layer of flab around your waist line, you're gonna want to have something underneath to show off!

Upper Abdominals (rectus abdominus)

Count:  2 count

Description:  Starting position lying flat on your back with both legs up in an "L" position.  Freeze your knees throughout the exercise.  Keeping your hands under your hips, raise your butt off the floor, pressing your feet to the ceiling and return to the starting position.

Carb Loading for Performance

Many of you may have heard the term carb-loading mentioned before, but most assume that it just means eating lots of pasta before a big race or competition to give you more energy.  This simplified description is partially true, but there's a little more to it than that.

Muscle glycogen depletion is a well-recognized limitation to endurance exercise that exceeds 90 minutes.  Carbohydrate loading can nearly double an individual's muscle glycogen stores.  Obviously, the greater the pre-exercise glycogen content, the greater the endurance potential.

The most recent method of carbohydrate loading includes the following protocol: 

  • 6 days before the competition, the athlete exercises hard (70-75%) for 90 minutes and consumes a diet of 60% carbohydrates.
  • On the 2nd and 3rd days, training is decreased to 40 minutes, maintaining 70-75% intensity and 60% carbohydrates.
  • On the 4th and 5th days, the athlete consumes a diet of 70% carbohydrates and reduces training to 20 minutes.
  • On the last day the athlete rests while maintaining the high-carbohydrate diet.

So next time you are getting ready for a duration type activity, whether it be biking, running, triathlon, etc... be sure to put some extra gas in your tank to help you go the distance!

It's Go Time!

So whether you are just beginning your lifestyle change to incorporate exercise into your daily life, or you are a seasoned veteran that competes in triathlons or various other athletic competitions, your mindset is an essential tool in helping to drive you to exceed your goals!  Sure, I could say accomplish your goals or meet your goals, but that would be too finite.  The mindset that will bring you results is one of conquering obstacles and going through them, not running up to the wall and stopping! 

"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal" - Henry Ford 

If you do not have a personal trainer, you need to constantly evaluate yourself and whether you can do better.  Sure there will be days when you don't have the energy or are not feeling well... these things happen.  Just don't get to the point where you find yourself looking for excuses.  Decide how important your goals are... Analyze your priorities... Determine what you are willing to do to achieve success... Find a way to make it happen!

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Good Luck!

Pete Mazzeo, CPT

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