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     The Official eNewsletter of TODAY! Fitness

vol. 2011 issue 1



Happy New Rear!

Most people don't have buns of steel, sad to say, and search far and wide for the best butt exercises that will firm up the old rear end. Do me a favor: stand up and take a look at your butt. Study it closely and tell me...are you happy with it? You probably said no. Like the rest of us, you probably think your butt is too small, too big, too saggy, or too flabby. If you're nodding your head, there is something you can do. The right cardio exercise and weight training activities (think squats and deadlifts) can make a difference.

Your butt is composed of 3 main muscles:

Gluteus maximus

Gluteus medius


The gluteus maximus is the largest and most superficial of the three gluteal muscles. It makes up a large portion of the shape and appearance of the buttocks.  This is where most of your focus will be. The other two (the gluteus medius and minimus) are important too, though--they lie under the gluteus maximus and hold your pelvis upright every time you take a step. Not only that, your butt muscles are in charge of all the movements of your hips, including:

  • extension (moving the thigh backward)
  • external rotation (turning the thigh or pelvis outward)
  • transverse abduction (moving the thigh outward with hip bent)
  • adduction (moving the thigh inward with hip straight).

When it comes to athletic performance, your butt is one of the most important muscles in your arsenal.  The gluteus maximus is considered to be the engine that propels you forward when you are sprinting, jumping, skating or most other actions that involve lower body power.  With any strength and conditioning program for athletic performance, you will find a strong focus on exercises such as squats and deadlifts that target the glutes.

Targeting your Gluteus Maximus
If you have a little butt-flab, you have to lose body fat to get rid of it. The quickest way to do that is with cardio exercise, weight training and a healthy diet. Cardio is a must if you're trying to drop fat, so choose activities that allow you to burn the most amount of calories in the least amount of time, like these:

  • Interval training - bouts of high intensity cardio mixed with low intensity rest periods
  • Doing something completely different than usual (if you're a runner, try swimming...a walker, try cycling)
  • Increase your intensity -Going faster and harder burns more calories, but watch your heart rate
  • Lift heavy weights regularly - forget the low weights and high reps. Challenge your muscles!
  • Target your butt by trying these activities: hiking, stair-climbing, cycling, and step aerobics

I featured this exercise in my newsletter a few years ago, but since we're on the topic, this single leg chair squat (step-up) is a perfect body weight exercise for blasting your butt!

Plenty of folks out there still think that stair-climbing or cycling will enlarge their rears. But, like many myths out there, it simply isn't true. Your body has different muscle fibers: slow-twitch and fast-twitch. Fast-twitch muscle fibers (think of bodybuilders) are made to lift heavy weights and grow larger. The slow-twitch fibers (think marathon runners) are made for endurance and can't get very big. Remember that when you do aerobic exercise, you're relying on your slow-twitch muscles so they will NOT get bigger from cardio. Plus, building muscle requires progressive resistance--constantly giving your muscles more weight than they can handle so they grow stronger. While there is some resistance in many cardio machines, there isn't enough there for that progressive resistance.

The End ; )


Stable Surface is Best

For a while there, exercising on unstable surfaces was the trendy thing to do.  BOSU balls, wobble boards, balance beams, and the like could be found in every gym and training studio and it seemed like every exercise being represented in the magazines had some type of instability focus to it.  Now I'm not saying that all instability exercises are bad for you, but recent research is stating that straight up strength training is best accomplished without the additional focus on instability.

Exercising on stable ground builds core stability and increases lower and upper-body strength.  No study has found that exercising on unstable surfaces improves athletic performance or builds significant strength in major muscle groups better than training on firm ground.

An Appalachian State University study found that stable squatting was superior to unstable squatting for overloading the lower-body muscles.  The best total-body strength exercises include kettlebell swings and snatches, squats, deadlifts, standing overhead presses, and plyometrics (jump training).  These exercises use heavier loads, shorter tension times, and higher speeds than exercises on unstable surfaces.  Ground-based exercises have the same force, velocity, and core-stabilizing elements required in most sports and movement skills.  The take-home message is to stay grounded for strong muscles!

ref: International Journal Sports Physiology Performance

Nuts Promote Weight Loss

Eating nuts to lose weight doesn't make any sense.  They are calorie dense and high in fat.  Only one ounce of mixed nuts contains 174 calories and 15.9 grams of fat.  Why do nutritionists recommend nuts as part of a healthy diet?  Richard Mattes and Mark Dreher from Purdue University, in a review of literature, concluded that nuts contain many healthy nutrients and antioxidants that prevent degenerative diseases such as coronary artery disease and cancer.  Large population studies found a link between high nut consumption and reduced body fat.  Nuts prevent hunger and are poorly absorbed in the gut.  They also increase the energy cost of digestion and improve dietary compliance during weight loss.  Nuts are valuable for weight loss, as long as you don't eat too many of them.

ref:  Asia Pacific Journal Clinical Nutrition




Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!

180 Jump Squats


This exercise is simple, yet very effective.  I came across it doing the P90X Plyometric X DVD and liked it so much that I made some of my wrestlers hit it for 30 second and 1 minute bursts.  Depending on the duration of your intervals, it will really challenge your cardio while also giving you a great burn in your thighs and glutes.


Target:  legs and butt (quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus)

Count:  2 count

Description:  With your feet at least shoulder width apart, assume a squatted position facing one side or the other, with your forward hand on the ground and looking straight ahead.  Jump in the air and turn your body 180 degrees so that you are in the same position facing the opposite side.  Repeat this explosive motion for repetitions or time, trying to limit your ground contact time and keeping a brisk pace.


If you have participated in any kind of race, marathon, bike ride, or pretty much any type of endurance event... you have probably seen and consumed your share of bananas!  That's because they are a low-fat, high-potassium fruit... and they even come prewrapped!  Bananas are excellent for replacing potassium lost in sweat.

Potassium, sodium and chloride comprise the electrolyte family of minerals. Called electrolytes because they conduct electricity when dissolved in water, these minerals work together closely. About 95% of the potassium in the body is stored within cells, while sodium and chloride are predominantly located outside the cell.

Potassium assists in muscle contraction and in maintaining the electrolyte balance in body cells.  Potassium is especially important in regulating the activity of muscles and nerves. The frequency and degree to which our muscles contract, and the degree to which our nerves become excitable, both depend heavily on the presence of potassium in the right amount.  Potassium is important in releasing energy from protein, fat, and carbohydrates during metabolism of other foods we eat.  Potassium also protects against high blood pressure.

When you sweat, you lose not only water but also minerals (electrolytes) such as potassium and sodium that help your body function normally.  A pound (16 oz) of sweat contains about 80 to 100 milligrams of potassium and about 400-700 milligrams of sodium.  Assuming that the harder you exercise, the hungrier you'll get and the more you'll eat, you'll consume more than enough electrolytes from standard post exercise foods.  You won't need salt tablets or special potassium supplements.  For example, a marathoner who guzzles a liter of orange juice after completing the event replaces three times the potassium they might have lost and munching on a bag of pretzels will more than replace any lost sodium.

Potassium may play a role in the prevention and/or treatment of the following health conditions:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Cataracts
  • Dehydration
  • Diabetes
  • Hepatitis
  • High blood pressure
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Potassium depletion due to excessive fluid loss from diarrhea, vomiting, or sweating

The kidneys regulate the level of potassium in the body. Potassium deficiency is not common but may result from excessive losses due to severe diarrhea, poor diabetic control, low-calorie diets (less than 800 calories per day), chronic alcoholism, hard exercise or overuse of muscles, or some diuretics and laxatives.  The symptoms of potassium deficiency include muscle weakness, confusion, irritability, fatigue, and heart disturbances. Athletes with low potassium stores may tire more easily during exercise, as potassium deficiency causes a decrease in glycogen (the fuel used by exercising muscles) storage.

Electrolyte imbalance, such as lack of potassium, may play a role in muscle cramps.  But a potassium deficiency is unlikely to occur as a result of sweat losses because the body contains much more potassium than even a marathoner might lose during a hot, sweaty race.  Nevertheless, you can rule out this issue by eating potassium-rich foods on a daily basis.

Since potassium functions in close cooperation with sodium, imbalanced intake of salt (sodium chloride) can also increase a person's need for potassium. Higher amounts of potassium are also needed by persons with high blood pressure.

Athletes also may need more potassium to replace that lost from muscle during exercise and the smaller amount lost in sweat. Low potassium can cause muscle cramping and cardiovascular irregularities. Eating foods high in potassium can prevent these symptoms. One cup of orange juice, a banana or a potato is sufficient to replace the potassium lost during one to two hours of hard exercise. Sport drinks are poor sources of potassium.

In addition, a diet that is high in sodium and low in potassium can negatively impact potassium status. While the typical American diet, which is high in sodium-containing processed foods and low in fruits and vegetables, contains about two times more sodium than potassium, many health experts recommend taking in at least five times more potassium than sodium.  The recommended daily potassium intake is 4.7 grams (4,700 milligrams) a day.  This is easy to do if you are a salad lover. Athletes involved in prolonged, hard exercise may require more potassium a day.

Besides bananas, other foods rich in potassium include:  potatoes, yogurt, orange juice, pineapple juice, raisins, spinach, crimini mushrooms, broccoli, winter squash, eggplant, cantaloupe, cucumber, bell pepper, strawberries, cauliflower and cabbage, and various other fruits and vegatables.  It also can be obtained from tuna and halibut.  You can find a list of the daily recommended requirements by going to the US Food and Drug Administration website.

ref:  Sports Nutrition Guidebook, eHow,

It's Go Time!

Ok... raise your right hand and repeat after me... I (state your name) hereby resolve to... and then fill in some time of concrete and specific resolution for yourself for 2011!  Ok... how many of you actually said "state your name"?  Get serious people!... Everyone knows how important goals are, but most of us don't take the time to formally commit to them!  By formally commit to them I mean right them down and look at them regularly (daily, weekly, monthly) and by specific I mean REALLY think about it and be serious about what you want to accomplish realistically.  Goals such as "I will lose weight" or "I will start working out" are garbage.  Think more like "I will reduce my daily caloric intake by 500 calories per day by cutting out the soda, chips, etc..." or "I will begin working out in January by doing 30 minutes of interval cardio 3 days per week and total body resistance training for 45 minutes 2 days per week."  These specific goals/resolutions help your commitment and motivation by really making you consider what you are willing to do and then start planning your schedule and routine around getting it done.  Hey, we're all busy people... make an appointment with yourself if that helps... whatever works... just get it done and take it upon yourself to make this a year of CHANGE!

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Exceed Your Potential!

Pete Mazzeo, CPT


"You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win."
- Zig Ziglar

youtube of the month --> Shawn T Interview
Very informative interview with Shawn T, creator of INSANITY and Hip Hop Abs. | Personal Training | News | Tips & Tools | Fitness Stuff




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