The Official eNewsletter of TODAY! Fitness

vol. 2007 issue 4



Training Zones

I think one of the most frequent questions that I have been asked recently come from people that are starting to become educated in regards to cardiovascular fitness and the importance of maintaining your heart rate in your "target zone".

Personally, I don't agree with the standard naming for the target heart rate zones. There are articles written regarding the benefits of working out in the "fitness zone" which is roughly 10 bpm higher than the "fat burning" zone.  If you think of the zone naming as an estimation of the minimum intensity necessary for the effect, it makes more sense.

In other words, just because you are working out for 20-30 minutes in the fitness zone, at a higher intensity than the fat-burning zone, doesn't mean that your are burning less fat. In fact, articles that I have read state that the higher intensity will actually burn more fat than the fat-burning zone!  The anaerobic zone however will use a different energy system, so staying below 90% during cardiovascular activity is important to keep you away from the lactate threshold.

A good rule of thumb for estimating the lactate threshold is to utilize the "talk test".  The talk test basically means that you should be able to still hold a conversation while getting in your cardio workout.  When you start to hyperventilate, that is an indication that you are at your lactate threshold and the anaerobic zone.  Personally, I like to exercise just below this intensity level.  I still believe that a heart rate monitor is one of the best pieces of exercise equipment that you can invest in but the talk test will give you an idea where your intensity limit is.

So for those of you that have stated that you don't feel like you are working hard enough in the fat-burning zone... kick it up a notch and get more benefits in the same amount of time! 

What's Your Max?

The number of times an exercise can be performed (repetitions) is inversely related to the load lifted; the heavier the load, the fewer the number of repetitions that can be performed.  Load is commonly described as either a certain percentage of a one-repetition maximum (1RM) - the greatest amount of weight that can be lifted with proper technique for only one repetition-or the most weight lifted for a specific number of repetitions, a repetition maximum.

The Chart below shows the relationship between a submaximal load (calculated as a %  of the 1RM) and the number of repetitions that can be performed at that load.

% 1 RM Number of repetitions allowed
100 1
95 2
93 3
90 4
87 5
85 6
83 7
80 8
77 9
75 10
70 11
67 12
65 15

What this means is that it is possible to estimate your "max" without the safety concern or risk of injury associated with attempting a maximum lift on some exercises.  This can be done by simply dividing the weight that you completed (with good form) for a number of repetitions by the corresponding %.  For example, if a person can bench press 190 pounds for 8 repetitions, then the estimated 1 RM would be 190 divided by .80 (or 80%) which is 237.5 pounds.

Granted, this is an estimation and other factors such as fatigue and muscle endurance can skew the numbers.  But it is an effective means of determining an appropriate load without spending a lot of time trying to figure out what a person is capable of lifting.

Healthy Competition

We often have trouble finding that one thing that motivates us to go above and beyond, to push ourselves to exceed our potential when we really don't want to.  For many of us, motivation can be found in the thrill of competition and the challenge and support of sharing this competition with a friend, family member, or co-worker.

There are support groups for everything from dieting, to quitting smoking or drinking.  These groups provide that added support to get people through the tough times and keep them motivated towards reaching their goals.  More and more lately, I have heard about some friendly "competitions" that have the same beneficial outcomes for all parties involved.

It is not hard to find someone that shares the same goals as you.  I'm sure you've heard people complain just as much as you about having to lose weight, quit smoking, lose inches, etc..  The next time you find yourselves complaining about it, you need to take it to the next level!  Make a bet with them for dinner, movie, whatever, and set a goal that is a month or three out.  Some good goals would be:

  • Lose the most weight by June 1st
  • Go the longest without smoking
  • Greatest reduction in body fat in 3 months
  • Wear a pedometer!  Compare the number of steps you walk in a a week.  (Find ways to increase your number of steps)

By having regular progress checks during your "contest", you will continue to motivate each other (or the group) to continue to make progress towards your goals.



Elite Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!

Chair Dips

The dip is a classic exercise that has been around longer than most of us.  I chose to highlight this exercise this month to show how it can be performed just about anywhere with a pair of chairs to be used in place of dip bars.  Although the dip can be a challenging exercise, beginners can start in the up position and focus on lowering themselves slowly (negatives) until they can build up enough strength to perform the entire exercise.


Target:  back of arms (triceps brachii)

Count:  2 count

Description:  With two (comfortable) chairs with their backs facing you about shoulder width apart, position your hands on the chair backs with your palms facing in.  Support your self using your arms and bend your legs to bring your feet off the ground.  Lower your knees to the floor and press up to the starting position.

Walk It Off!

Walking Facts:

  • 1 mile = 5280 feet
  • An average stride length is usual 2-3 feet.
  • On average, it takes 1760-2640 steps to complete a mile (with the average being 2000 steps).
  • The average fitness walking pace is close to a 15 minute mile. (roughly 2 miles in 30 minutes)
  • A 140 pound person will burn roughly 228 calories by walking for 30 minutes.

A good walking pace will vary depending on your fitness level, walking technique, walking goals, and terrain.  For general fitness walking you should walk at a pace that increases your heart rate, and you can maintain for 30 to 60 minutes.  Use the talk test... if you can't speak without gasping for air you are walking too fast.  If you are walking slow enough that you can carry a tune you are probably walking too slow.

A pound of fat equals about 3500 calories. To lose 1 pound a week you will need to expend 3500 more calories than you eat that week, whether through increased activity or decreased eating or both. Losing 1-2 pounds of fat a week is a sensible goal, and so you will want to use the combination of increased activity and eating less that will total 3500 calories for 7 days.

How You Burn Calories

Your weight x distance = energy used walking. Time does not matter as much as distance. If you speed up to walking a mile in 13 minutes or less, you will be burning more calories per mile. But for most beginning walkers, it is best to increase the distance before working on speed. A simple rule of thumb is 100 calories per mile for a 160 pound person.

Estimated Calories burned per mile by walking

Weight in Pounds
Speed Pounds 100 120 140 160 180 200 220
2.0 mph 65 80 93 105 120 133 145
2.5 mph 62 74 88 100 112 124 138
3.0 mph 60 72 83 95 108 120 132
3.5 mph 59 71 83 93 107 119 130
4.0 mph 59 70 81 94 105 118 129
4.5 mph 69 82 97 110 122 138 151
5.0 mph 77 92 108 123 138 154 169
6.0 mph 86 99 114 130 147 167 190
7.0 mph 96 111 128 146 165 187 212

* Note About the Calories Chart
You burn more calories per mile at very low speeds because you are basically stopping and starting with each step and your momentum isn't helping to carry you along. Meanwhile, at very high walking speeds you are using more muscle groups with arm motion and with a racewalking stride. Those extra muscles burn up extra calories with each step. Running may burn more calories per mile as there is an up and down motion lifting your weight off the ground as well as moving it forward.

MS Walk @ U of D

May 20 @ 9:00 a.m. - Perkins Student Center
(registration at 8am)

In the interest of exercise, social activities, and fundraising, we have decided to start a team for the local MS walk at the University of Delaware.  We are looking for friends, family, neighbors, (anyone!) to join "Bear Essentials" for this charity event!

Having participated in these walks in the past, in addition to the Bike to the Bay, they are very well organized, a great time, and help to raise both awareness and funds for a very worthy cause.  It is requested that each adult participant raise a minimum of $25 to help fund the research to eliminate this disease.  For more information about MS and related fundraising events visit the web site at .

If you are interested in participating in the MS Walk as part of our team, becoming a volunteer, or offering a donation please contact Pete Mazzeo at or 302-547-7454 for more information or go to the "Bear Essentials" team page.

Believe That You Can Help… Join The Movement

It's Go Time!

TICK TICK TICK TICK... Only 2 months until the summer months!  What kind of swim suit do you have picked out?  With a safe weight loss standard of 1 - 2 pounds per week, you still have the potential of dropping roughly 8 - 16 pounds by beach season!  No messing around though... If you are serious about it, make the commitment and start TODAY! 

It's not difficult to find an excuse not to workout.  We are all busy people and there is always something more important, or a reason why NEXT week, NEXT month, or once school is out, will be easier.  Funny how these excuses pop up, yet everybody seems to find time to watch LOST, Gray's Anatomy, or the BIG GAME!  Like I said before, even if you start doing something during the commercials (preferably every commercial)... something is better than nothing!  Make it a priority... you're worth it!

For prior issues of this newsletter go to  

Good Luck!

Pete Mazzeo, CPT

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