The Official eNewsletter of TODAY! Fitness

vol. 2009 issue 10



Thirsty is Too Late!

Paying attention to your sweat means the difference between dragging through a workout and finishing strong.  Athletic performance starts to suffer once you lose about 2 percent of your body weight during a workout.  Few people really know how much liquid that their body needs which is not surprising, given the number of conflicting reports there are.

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. 

Water lubes your muscles, transports nutrients around your system, and shuttles waste out of it, allowing your kidneys to function smoothly.  When you've sweated out 1 percent of your body weight, two things happen (and continue to happen with every additional 1 percent loss):  Your heart rate rises 7 beats per minute in order to push your thickening blood through your body, and your core temperature increases a third of one degree.  Lose 2 percent and not only are you physically suffering (your pace slows), but your brain starts going whacky due to being made up of 80% water.  Your reaction time becomes longer and you have trouble finishing certain tasks.  Becoming even more dehydrated and you might get headaches, cramps, and dizziness as your body has more difficulty transporting blood efficiently.  Lose 15 percent and your body is too dried out to stay alive.

The more active you are, the more water you need...this goes without saying.  The notion of 8 glasses of water will suffice for everyone is completely incorrect, but is a good benchmark for sedentary or minimally active people.  According to the American College of Sports Medicine, you should start your workout with a full tank, then replenish your fluids based on your pre- and post-workout weight.  More specifically, ACSM states that you should drink 12 ounces of fluid 4 hours before your workout and then weigh yourself.  If your pee is the shade of apple juice or darker, plan on drinking another 8 to 12 ounces 2 hours before you exercise.  During your workout, it is advisable to consume 4 to 8 ounces of fluid every 10 to 15 minutes.

Rather than drinking bottle after bottle all at once after a workout, it is advised to sip no more than 16 ounces an hour.  Your body can't process bottles of water rapidly and, although your urine won't be as yellow, you will be peeing too often to become sufficiently hydrated.  ACSM guidelines are to drink 16 ounces per every pound lost during an hour long workout.  When working out twice in a day, 20-24 ounces per pound of weight lost is advised.  Also, if you consume a lot of caffeine or alcohol, which are both diuretics, you will have pale or clear urine even though you are, in fact, dehydrated.

Researchers at the University of Texas found that women lost an average of 1.2 liters an hour during moderate-intensity exercise in a warm environment while men pumped out 1.6 liters.  This is rough guideline based upon research, so you will want to do the pre- and post-workout weight check to understand your own fluid loss average.  Hydration is an important factor for both your health and performance and should be a priority for any active individual!

ref:  Womens Health, 11/2007

How Much is Enough?

I know a lot of people that are religious about their workouts and that will plug away at their routines week after week.  This is certainly commendable, but I sometimes have to bite my tongue when I see them going through the paces with less than adequate intensity.  With several ways to increase the intensity of the workout, there should be no reason not to get the most benefit possible in the time that you are putting in.

As a general guideline, the weight that you are working with should leave you red-faced and weak.  By the last repetition, you should feel as though you have to put the weight down.  The number of repetitions that you do should be pre-determined prior to beginning your set.  It is often good to change this up once in a while.  Choose a weight that you can lift for 8-12 reps (moderate weight) one week, 12-15 (light weight) the next week, and then 6-8 reps (heavy weight) after that.  This type of variance is good for building muscle which also burns more fat.

Another good practice is to allow about a minute between your sets for maximum burn.  This keeps your heart rate elevated and your metabolism cranking for additional calorie burning.  As a rule of thumb, a longer rest/recovery period will allow you to lift more during the next set, thereby helping to build more mass, whereas shorter rest periods will provide more of a cardio type workout if that is part of the effect you are going for.

It's good to keep as many muscles involved as possible.  When prioritizing your exercises, choose compound exercises over isolation exercises.  You can think of a compound exercise as one that involves the movement of more than one joint.  A bench press moves the shoulder and the elbow joint working your chest, shoulders, and triceps whereas a tricep pressdown involves the elbow joint only and works only the triceps.  A lat pulldown involves the shoulder and elbow joint in a different direction working the back and biceps whereas most curls involve only the elbow joint and work only the biceps.  Compound exercises work more muscles for your effort (and time) and therefore do more for your muscle goals as well as your metabolism and calorie burn.  However, if you are performing an isolation type exercise, you can add a little more muscle involvement by choosing alternate forms that involve standing instead of sitting, or even unstable surfaces (bosu ball, stability ball) as long as they don't effect your form or cause safety concerns. 

Once again, I'm just providing a guideline that you can choose to listen to or ignore.  This is often the choice between working out hard and just enjoying the time that you're there.  Although this is a personal choice, the fact of the matter is that your benefits are directly proportional to the effort that you put in.  Working out, by its very nature, causes some degree of discomfort.  The physical adaptations that your body makes is a result of the stress that you expose it to.  If you approach your workout with this mindset, and you prepare to exert the effort required to achieve results, you will find that your benefits will increase significantly.  I've said it before... they don't call it WORKing out for nothing!

Try This

Eat a piece of chocolate!  ...or whatever else you find to be a vice for you.  Hang on... not so fast.  What I'm trying to say is don't try to deprive yourself with a hard core diet all at once.  Chocolate is my addiction... but I didn't drop it completely either.  I'll allow myself a little piece or two on the weekend and then do without it all week.  The idea here is that you are much more likely to stick with the limitation if you have a little break to look forward to at the end of the week.  Be smart and don't go overboard, but whether it is soda, ice cream, chocolate, whatever... if you need to cut back on it then make the goal something realistic that you can stick to.  If your weakness is a daily kind of thing, and a week is too long, then shoot for a few days to start.  If it's not as frequent, maybe you can make a month.  But decide ahead of time and make a commitment to yourself to do it.  Goals are much more productive when you are able to adhere to them!   

Elite Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!

Seated Crunch

The seated crunch is a good example of an exercise that can be as challenging as you want it to be.  You can perform it on the ground (as pictured above), in a chair, sitting on a bench... really any place that you can get into a stable seated position.  The difficulty can be increased by slowing the tempo, adding ankle weights, putting a medicine ball or dumbbell between your feet, etc... to increase resistance.


Target:  Abs (rectus abdominis)

Count:  2 count

Description:  Starting in a stable seated position, extend your legs out in front of you.  Crunch your knees towards your chest as far as possible before returning to the starting position.  Repeat for desired repetitions.

Have You Been Suspended?

Suspension Training has received quite a bit of attention recently.  There are a variety of bodyweight exercises that can be performed with these simple and portable pieces of equipment and they offer an additional challenge due to the instability of the exercises.  The exercises that can be performed are excellent as they allow athletes to move their bodies against external resistance in a multi-dimensional environment.

Since suspension straps are basically just adjustable loops with handles, they can be rolled up and put in a gym bag or pouch and taken with you.  They can typically be hung from any stable bar, hook or doorway and are often a favorite for "playground workouts" for those that are into suspension training.

If you compare a barbell bench press to a Blast Strap push up, you will notice that the athlete can use the bench, the floor and the barbell to help stabilize the weight. With the Blast Strap push up, the body is being moved instead of a barbell and thus the body has to stabilize itself during the exercise. This incorporates many more muscles because of the stabilization effect.   

Blast Straps are sold by Elite Fitness Systems.  Although the heavy duty nylon straps, clasps and handles are made very well, I decided to make a cheap pair myself and save the $60 cost of the originals.  There is another version of these suspension straps out now called the TRX system that is being publicized heavily... not bad if you don't mind paying $149!

As you can see from the picture above, I used a small amount of rope, some PVC pipe, some strong cargo tie down or lashing straps (mostly because they were adjustable) and some heavy duty clips... all of which I picked up at home depot for about $10-$15.  Depending on what you want to put into them, you can include actual cable handles (stirrup handles) instead of the rope and pipe method.

For more information, additional exercises and video representation click here to go to the suspension strap page at

It's Go Time!

Cross your fingers for good weather on Saturday 10/3 as I'll be doing my annual 75 mile bike ride for MS.  Unfortunately, right now it's not looking very promising : (  Although this ride typically marks the end of my bike riding season, I certainly don't stop doing cardio.  That would be way too much ground to make up come spring time and I'd rather not start all over again! 

Sure I know a bunch of people that continue riding when it gets cold outside, but I can't say that motivates me in the least.  No, when it gets chilly outside is when I mix up my cardio between my elliptical, P90X+ DVDs, or even my old TAE BO Advanced tape.  I like to get in 35-45 minutes of something, 2-3 times per week... preferably interval training for the most beneficial workout in the time that I have.  During the rest of the week is when I hit my various resistance training workouts. 

With a very busy work, family, and personal life... I never really plan on rest days.  I pretty much just plan to do some type of workout every day... this way, when those unexpected issues pop-up (and they do) I don't feel as bad about missing a workout.  But hey... that's just me.  I only offer this up for those of you that may find this strategy helpful.  Either way, keep up or get into a routine that works for you... you have a whole 8 months to go before next summer!

For prior issues of this newsletter go to  

Exceed Your Potential!

Pete Mazzeo, CPT


"It's not a problem that we have a problem,
it's a problem if we don't deal with the
problem." -Mary Kay Utech

youtube video of the month --> Shoulder Rehab
Solid set of shoulder exercises for injury prevention and rehab.

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