The Official eNewsletter of TODAY! Fitness

vol. 2006 issue 9



Back to School The Gym!

Whoa... tell me that summer didn't fly by this year!  It's back to school for the students already and just about time to put away the shorts and bathing suits for the rest of us.  So were you happy with your physique in that bathing suit this year?  No?  What do you want your body to look like next summer?  If you have an idea of what changes you want to make, then you are on your way to setting a long term goal for next year!

Don't wait until May or June to cram for this test!  If you are serious about getting more fit, looking better, feeling healthier and having more energy then make the commitment now!  Besides the fact that you will be able to benefit from improved health and fitness that much sooner, it is much easier to obtain a long term goal by breaking the goal into smaller, more manageable, pieces or short term goals.  Having smaller short term goals is also less intimidating, makes it more likely for you to achieve these goals, and therefore makes it more likely for you to see results and maintain the motivation necessary for you to keep up this lifestyle change.

For safety purposes, in addition to motivation and adherence, it is recommended that weight loss goals be between 1 and 2 pounds per week.  So with 9 months until next summer, or 36 weeks, you have the potential of safely shedding 36 to 72 pounds!... providing you do it the right way through proper nutrition and exercise.  Sure... you can't be expected to be THAT good all year with Christmas cookies, Halloween and Easter candy, and the occasional birthday... but as long as you don't make a habit of it, get back to the program, and commit to your SMART goals, you should have plenty of time to get to where you want to be. 

So how should you start?  For long term goals of maintaining your success once it is achieved, it is important to maintain exercise along with a sensible diet.  Lets look at the average facts:  3,500 calories is roughly equal to 1 lb of body fat.  Most moderate cardio exercises will burn 200-300 calories per 30 minutes while you are exercising.  So by creating a calorie deficit through a combination of diet and exercise (500-1000 calories per day) you should be on track to shed the 1 to 2 pounds per week. 

An example of a calorie deficit combination would be cutting 250 calories out of your daily diet (ie. switching from a Big Mac to a turkey sub)... and then burning another 250 calories by taking a bike ride or doing a weight training circuit for 30-45 minutes.  Many people get intimidated by creating a calorie deficit, but there are many small changes that you can make that will make a big difference.  Portion control (1-2 slices of pizza rather than 3-4!) and smart eating (baked instead of fried, mustard instead of mayo, cut out the junk) can make a significant impact when you are starting with a poor diet! 

Now it is easy to talk about weight loss as a goal, since most people feel that to be the key to success.  Let me reiterate one of my favorite the points... don't be overly concerned about those numbers on the scale while you are working out!  Sure, they are a good approximation that you are carrying more weight than you should be if you are not exercising... but if you begin a resistance training program, and you are starting from a previously sedentary state, you could have an initial gain in weight, depending on your exercise program.  THIS IS NOT A BAD THING!  Would it really bother you if you weighed a little bit more or had no change in your weight, but you lost a few sizes from your waist!  Your keys to success should be focused on your body composition, meaning your circumference measurements and body fat.

Just because summer is over, shouldn't mean that you should let it all hang out now!  If you commit to the lifestyle change and set achievable goals to keep you on the right track.. you'll make great strides towards exceeding your potential!



Elite Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!

Commando Pull-ups

Pull-ups and chin-ups are some of the most under-rated and under-utilized bodyweight exercises out there.  One of the reasons is due to the level of difficulty necessary to hoist the entire weight of your body up using only your arms!  These exercises are some of the most effective for building a strong back and biceps and there are variety of different styles of chin/pull ups to challenge you while mixing it up.  In addition, even if you don't have a chin-up bar, you can do these exercises at your local playground, a nearby tree, or any other sturdy object that you can hang from.  If you have difficulty doing even one rep, perform several "negatives" of the exercise by starting in the up position and let yourself down slowly.  As your strength improves, you will begin to be able to pull yourself up and increase repetitions from there.  I chose to show the commando pull-up above to demonstrate one of the not-so-typical versions of this exercise although the body mechanics are similar.

Back and biceps (latisimus dorsi and biceps brachii)

Count:  4 count

Description:  Start by hanging from the bar with a hand over hand position (similar to a baseball bat).  Pull up so that your right ear or shoulder is near the bar.  Lower down and then repeat to the other side .

The Need for Speed

Speed is the ability to achieve high velocity.  Speed is the manifestation of explosive force applied to a specific task but is incorrectly perceived as independent from strength.

Running speed, or sprinting, is a series of ballistic strides in which the body is repeatedly launched forward as a projectile.  By definition, running speed is the interaction of stride frequency and stride length.  Elite sprinters achieve greater stride length and are capable of increasing it until about 49 yards from a static start, whereas novices achieve maximum stride length at about 27 yards.  Elite sprinters also achieve greater stride frequency and are capable of increasing it until about 27 yards from a static start.  Novice sprinters achieve maximum stride frequency at about 11 to 16 yards.  Elite sprinters also produce greater initial force and velocity at the start, achieve a markedly greater rate of acceleration, and reach maximal velocity after about 5 to 6 seconds (49-60 yards).  Novice sprinters reach maximum velocity at 22-33 yards.

Sprint training focuses more on perfecting form and correcting faults while concurrently developing the athlete's physical abilities than on teaching novel mechanics.  Drills are usually aimed at 3 respective technique variants.  Drive is emphasized during the start and acceleration phases, whereas the stride and lift are emphasized in the maximum speed phase.

It's Go Time!

I know, another article about getting off your butt and exercising... hey, I thought it would be a timely motivator.  Changes in seasons are some of the best times to tackle a new challenge, or reset your priorities and expectations of yourself.  Many people think that they can prepare for the summer in March or April... well... you can!  But you can make much more progress, without having to go cold turkey if get into the groove now.  The kind of lasting results that you can really notice take several months to achieve (or sometimes years depending on what result you are shooting for).  Starting is by far the most difficult part, but once you do, and you start feeling better, and having more energy, you'll find that there was no reason to wait as long as you did! 

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Good Luck!

Pete Mazzeo, CPT

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