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     The Official eNewsletter of TODAY! Fitness

vol. 2010 issue 8



A Few of the Leading Fitness Questions

The answers to many common fitness questions can help most anyone get a jump start on reaching their weight loss and fitness goals. Here are some of the top fitness questions and their answers.

1. I want to tone and tighten my legs (or stomach, or arms, etc). What exercises can I do to lose fat there and get them toned?

Answer: You can't spot reduce. It is necessary for you to reduce the fat in your trouble area before you will see big results from your strength training exercises. You must burn calories and fat through cardiovascular activities. This includes such things as walking, jogging, step aerobics, jumping rope, swimming etc. But, while cardio is critical you should also include strength training exercises to help build muscles and tone your trouble area simultaneously.

2. I really want to workout and get in-shape, but I just don’t have the time. What should I do?

Answer: You are not alone. One of the top reasons people give for not working out is lack of time. The first step is to realize that it’s not that you don’t have the time, but that you are not making it a priority in your schedule. What people don't realize is that it doesn't take a huge time commitment to reap the many rewards of regular exercise. Many people think that if they can't workout several hours a week, then they might as well not workout at all. But, exercising even just a couple of days a week is far better than not exercising at all. The key is finding a truly effective and efficient workout plan.

3. What is the best fitness program for losing weight?

Answer: The key to a successful program is that it is comprehensive and includes the necessary pieces. There are three major components of a good weight loss program: cardio, strength training and stretching. It's equally important to include all three components. For example, you could do cardio 3 times per week, strength training twice per week and stretch before and after every workout.

4. I have hit a plateau and can’t seem to get the scale to budge (or can’t get any stronger). Can you help me?

Answer: The key to breaking through a plateau is change. One of the best techniques for overcoming a plateau is Interval training. This is a type of training that includes bursts of high intensity periods followed by lower intensity recovery times. You’ll also want to change your workout routine at least every 4-6 weeks.

5. What size weights should I train with and how many reps should I complete?

Answer: There's no one size fits all weight size that is best. The size of weight you use depends on your goals, skills, past fitness experience, etc. A good rule of thumb is to start with about 70% maximum resistance with 8-12 reps and 1-3 sets. To determine your specific 70% maximum size, you must first determine the maximum amount of weight you can lift. However, it's typically not recommended that beginners attempt to lift their maximum amount of weight, for safety reasons. So, another simpler option is to choose a weight size that provides fatigue after the 8th - 12th rep is completed.

6. Is it bad for your body to workout some of the same muscle groups daily?

Answer: Typically you should allow your muscle to rest about 48 hours before working it again. This is the safest approach and also the most efficient approach for improving strength. It will help you increase hypertrophy (growth) more effectively.

7. How often should I stretch and should I stretch before or after working out?

Answer: Actually, it's best to stretch both times. If you have the time, your body will really benefit from stretching both before you start exercising and again after your workout. At the very least, be sure to stretch after you have completed your workout. As far as frequency, even if you don't workout every day it is very beneficial to include a stretching routine daily.

8. How can I workout at home because I don’t belong to a gym?

Answer: There are many, many options for strength training and cardio workouts that don't require a trip to the gym. If you have dumbbells, a resistance band, or an exercise stability ball, there are literally hundreds of exercises that you can do at home. With these exercises you can increase your muscular strength, muscular endurance plus of course get a more defined look in your physical appearance. For cardio workouts you can simply walk outside or at an indoor location, stair climb, jumping jacks, etc.

ref. Lynn Bode

A Little Help Here?

Year number 13 for me with the Bike to the Bay... I hope it's a lucky one!  I'll keep participating as long as I can in this one... it's a great ride for a great cause.  This is my annual pitch for riders, volunteers, and sponsors.  Participation in the National MS Society's annual ride will help raise funds for Multiple Sclerosis research and local programs.   

The 2010 ride is scheduled for Saturday, October 2nd and Sunday, October 3rd.  There are a variety of ride length options for all levels of cyclists.  You can do the new 25k ride (15.5 miles), 45 miles, 75 miles (the full route), 100 mile century, or 150 miles (full route on Saturday and returning on Sunday). 

If you are interested in participating in the Delaware MS150 Bike to the Bay this year, you can email me at or click here to join Team Bank of America

Sponsor dollars are good too!  If you are able make a charitable donation by sponsoring me for the ride, we can reach our goals that much quicker!  Every dollar contributed will help us to end the devastating effects of MS, sooner rather than later.

Thanks for your support!

Click Here to Register or
Sponsor Pete for the 2010
MS 150 Bike to the Bay

Fat Use Higher During Running Than Cycling

Carbohydrate is the principle fuel for exercise above 65 percent of maximum effort.  However, metabolic rate increases 12 to 25 times above rest during exercise, so fat use increases tremendously.  South African scientists showed that fat use was greater during running than cycling.  They measured fat use indirectly during prolonged cycling and running at 60, 65, 70, 75, and 80 percent of maximum effort.  Cycling places a more concentrated load on the leg and thigh muscles, which would increase the use of carbohydrates and decrease the use of fats.  

ref: (International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism)


Partner Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!

Partner Standing Crunch

If this one looks a little tough, that's because it is!  This standing crunch presents a challenge for both partners, no matter which position you are in.  While the person on top is  performing a suspended leg raise crunch, the person on the bottom has to constantly adjust position to provide stability throughout the exercise... all while crunching forward to offset the weight.  Keep it up and this one will surely be good for a 12-pack : )


Target:  abs and core (rectus abdominus)

Count:  2 count

Description:  Starting back to back, the person performing the crunch will have the overhand hook while the supporting partner hooks underneath at the elbows.  The supporting partner then crunches forward almost to the point where the upper body is parallel with the ground.  The partner performing the crunch alternates between extending his legs straight out and bringing his knees as close to his chest as possible.  Complete the desired amount of reps before switching places.

Are You Exercising Enough to Hit Your Goals?

I got the following article from a newsletter that I subscribe to called "Fitness Black Book".  Although it is mostly opinion based, I do agree with his take on weekly volume of exercise and the benefits of putting in your time.

I think this emerging trend of quick workouts is great, but how brief can you go before you aren't exercising enough? Can a few 30 minute workouts per week really give you the same results as 4-5 one-hour workouts per week? In my opinion, there is a time element involved to getting in peak condition. Even if you train hard, you can't expect to reach a high-level of conditioning just putting in a few 30 minute sessions per week. Perhaps the reason you haven't been able to lose those last 5 pounds or don't have defined abs is simply that you aren't devoting enough time to exercise.

One thing in limited supply for all of us is time. Life is too short to live in a gym, but recent studies suggest that 4 or more hours per week of exercise may be extremely beneficial to longevity.

4 Days Per Week Seems to Be My "Sweet Spot"
When I train 3 days per week, I am always slowly sliding back. It doesn't matter if my goal is fat loss or gaining strength. I can maintain a look for a few weeks, but will eventually lose ground and need to increase workout frequency. Again…I am not saying this is true for everyone. Training 5 times per week works well too…but 4 workouts per week is the point where I can make positive progress. Anything less than 4 workouts per week will result in regressing a bit. I could train 5 times per week, but then it comes close to "living in the gym" (although I will do this for 6-8 weeks in Spring each year).

What About the Time Per Workout?
I have gone through periods where I trained as long as 2 hours per workout, which was madness. These days, I seem to get my workout done in almost exactly one hour and 15 minutes. I spend 45 minutes of lifting and a total of 30 minutes of some sort of HIIT (high intensity interval training) and steady state cardio combo. I have tried to train less than that and it just doesn't seem to do the trick. Either I don't stay lean or my muscle definition and strength levels suffer. Summer is a different story…the extra physical activity can keep you lean with less official workouts per week.

There is a "Time Element" to Cardio…
I hate to say it, but even the most intense HIIT for 10 minutes isn't as effective as mixing in HIIT type cardio with an additional 20 minutes of steady cardio. It is trendy to look at steady state cardio as a waste of time. The problem is that most people compensate with the additional cardio by eating more. If this is the case, then it is a waste…BUT if you add in this extra cardio while maintaining a calorie deficit you will see consistent visible results. Intense cardio is good, but you do have to put some time into cardio if you want to see what it can really do for you. When wanting to get really lean I follow a "30 minute rule"…I have to get in at least 30 minutes of cardio after every session of lifting. I have never failed to predictably lose fat, getting as lean as desired following this cardio rule.

Exercise 5 Days Per Week to Reduce the Common Cold?
The Wall Street Journal
(Jan 5, 2010) talked about the effect frequent exercise had on the common cold. Dr. David Nieman conducted several randomized controlled studies showing that people who walked briskly for 45 minutes, five days a week over 12 to 15 weeks had fewer and less severe upper respiratory tract infections.

"No pill or nutritional supplement has the power of near-daily moderate activity in lowering the number of sick days people take…These subjects reduced their number of sick days 25% to 50% compared with sedentary control subjects."

Over 4 Hours of Exercise Per Week to Extend Life?
A study in Israel which was reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine (September 14, 2009), examined physical activity and survival rates. The researchers examined mortality data for 1,821 people for 18 years, from ages 70 to 88. Subjects were classified as sedentary (less than 4 hours a week of physical activity) or active (four hours or more, including vigorous exercise, such as jogging or swimming, at least twice a week). Here are there findings...

"Among physically active vs sedentary participants, respectively, at age 70, the 8-year mortality was 15.2% vs 27.2%…at age 78, the 8-year mortality was 26.1% vs 40.8%…and at age 85 years, the 3-year mortality was 6.8% vs 24.4%".

Basically, those who were physically active for at least 4 hours per week, significantly outlived those who did not exercise as much. It made a bigger difference as people aged.

Sometimes More is Better
To me, the benefits of training over 4 hours per week outweigh the negatives. Obviously some exercise is better than none, but I am going to do my best to create a new rule for myself…the "4 hour per week" exercise rule. I will do my best to get in at least 4 hours of exercise per week. It doesn't always have to be a gym workout, but I will do my best to hit that number. These studies aren't the only reason I am doing this. My experience has proven (at least for me) that it takes at least 4 hours of exercise per week to stay in peak condition.

ref:  Fitness Black Book

It's Go Time!

Oh no... is it really August?  Last month before summer vacation is over.  Well, all things considered, I guess it's not that big of a deal.  I mean, we had to work most of the summer anyway, right?  Still... the weather will be changing again soon enough for most of us, so you better make an effort to enjoy every last bit of it!  Get your fill of those outdoor activities that you've been talking about doing all winter.  Kayaking, hiking, biking, jogging, rollerblading... whatever you're into.  Enjoy the fresh outdoor air.

Happy 10th Birthday to my daughter Rachel!  We did a little father/daugher bonding last month to celebrate by completing the first annual Philly Mud Run.  Exercise, mud... what's not to like?

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Exceed Your Potential!

Pete Mazzeo, CPT


"Success is the maximum utilization
of the ability that you have

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