Hamstrings, Could Muscle Injury Cause Back Pain?

04 Apr

This is one of my most viewed articles on Kathie’s Fitness Blog so I thought I’d re-vamp it a little bit and re-publish it. Enjoy!

You often hear about athletes who are unable to play their sport due to a pulled hamstring. In fact, a pulled hamstring is one of the most common muscle pulls or muscle injury. Your hamstrings are a group of three muscles that help extend your legs at the hip and flex them at the knee. A pulled hamstring is a strain or tear in the muscles or tendons.

To understand what causes a hamstring injury you have to know how muscles work. All muscles work in pairs to perform a task. One set of muscles contracts to exert force while the other set of muscles relaxes. The hamstring muscles located at the back of the thigh, work with the quadriceps muscle group in the front of the thigh. When you want to bend your leg, the hamstring muscles contract and the quadriceps muscles relax. Conversely, when you want to straighten your leg, the quadriceps muscles contract and the hamstring muscles relax.

If one muscle group is considerably stronger than its opposing muscle group, the imbalance can lead to strain. This frequently happens with the hamstring muscles. The quadriceps muscles are usually much more powerful, so the hamstring can become fatigued faster. A fatigued muscle cannot relax as easily when its opposing muscle contracts, leading to strains.

Muscle strains are overuse injuries that result when the muscle is stretched without being properly warmed up.

An injury to the hamstring is usually readily apparent.

  • Mild strains may involve simple, uncomfortable tightening of the muscle.
  • More severe injuries may result in a sharp pain in the back of the thigh, usually in full stride.
  • A rupture or tear may leave you unable to stand or walk, muscles may be tender to the touch and painful to stretch your leg. Within a few days after a tear the area may appear very bruised.

If the muscle is completely torn, surgery may be necessary to repair and reattach it. Ouch!! No treatment is complete without proper rehabilitation to strengthen and stretch the muscle.

The best way to prevent a hamstring injury is to warm up before activity and stretch after activity. Weak or tight hamstrings can contribute to low back pain, so doing exercises to strengthen and stretch the hamstrings may also reduce your risk of low back pain. Be sure to perform all strength training exercises in opposing muscle form. For example if you work the quadriceps be sure to also work the hamstrings. The best exercise to isolate these two muscle groups would be the Leg Press and the Leg Curl working the quadriceps and hamstrings respectively. If you feel your hamstring is the muscle with the imbalance be sure to work it a little harder by adding an extra set or more weight for your sets.

A good stretch is to sit down and straighten your left leg. The sole of your right foot should rest next to the inside of your straightened leg. Lean slightly forward and touch your foot with your fingers. Keep your left foot upright with the ankle and toes relaxed. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat with the right leg. Remember stretching is best done AFTER activity.

The Many Benefits of Epsom Salt

23 Sep

SaltMy clients often get sore after our workouts and I tell them to take a warm bath in Epsom salt. After research I did on Epsom salt baths I found out that the benefits of this product are tremendous. Not only will Epsom salt relieve sore muscle tension but it will do so many other things as well. I even had a client tell me her headache of 4 days was gone after that bath and I found out that the Epsom salt soak will relieve migraines to arthritis pain, prevent gout and heal wounds. Epsom salt, named for a bitter saline spring at Epsom in Surrey, England, is not actually salt but a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate. Long known as a natural remedy for a number of ailments, Epsom salt has numerous health benefits as well as many beauty, household and gardening-related uses. Studies have shown that magnesium and sulfate are both readily absorbed through the skin, making Epsom salt baths an easy and ideal way to enjoy the amazing health benefits. Magnesium plays a number of roles in the body including regulating the activity of over 325 enzymes, reducing inflammation, helping muscle and nerve function and helping to prevent artery hardening. Sulfates help improve the absorption of nutrients, flush toxins and help ease migraine headaches. What are the health benefits of using Epsom salt? The wonders of Epsom salt have been well known for hundreds of years and unlike other salts, Epsom salt has beneficial properties that can soothe the body, mind and soul. Some of the countless health benefits include relaxing the nervous system, curing skin problems, soothing back pain and aching limbs, easing muscle strain, healing cuts, treating cold and congestion, and drawing toxins from the body. One of the simplest ways to ease stress and stress-related problems is to soak in a tub full of hot water with a few cups of Epsom salt. Some of the magical benefits of Epsom salt include: Eases stress and relaxes the body Stress drains the body of magnesium and increases levels of adrenaline. When dissolved in warm water, Epsom salt is absorbed through the skin and replenishes the level of magnesium in the body. The magnesium helps to produce serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of calm and relaxation. Research shows that magnesium also increases energy and stamina by encouraging the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the energy packets made in the cells. Experts believe that bathing with Epsom salt at least three times a week helps you to look better, feel better and gain more energy. Magnesium ions also relax and reduce irritability by lowering the effects of adrenaline. They lower blood pressure, create a relaxed feeling, improve sleep and concentration, and help muscles and nerves to function properly. Relieves pain and muscle cramps An Epsom salt bath is known to ease pain and relieve inflammation, making it beneficial in the treatment of sore muscles, bronchial asthma and migraine headaches. In addition, it has been known to heal cuts and reduce soreness from childbirth. Mix a thick paste of Epsom salt with hot water and apply to get soothing comfort. Why not try soaking your aching, tired (and smelly) feet in a tub of water with half a cup of Epsom salt? Epsom salt softens skin and will even neutralize foot odor. Helps muscles and nerves function properly Studies show that Epsom salt can help regulate electrolytes in your body, ensuring proper functioning of the muscles, nerves and enzymes. Magnesium is also known to be critical in the proper use of calcium, which serves as a main conductor of the electric impulses in your body. Helps prevent hardening of arteries and blood clots Epsom salt is believed to improve heart health and help prevent heart disease and strokes by improving blood circulation, lowering blood pressure, protecting the elasticity of arteries, preventing blood clots and reducing the risk of sudden heart attack deaths. Makes insulin more effective Proper magnesium and sulfate levels increase the effectiveness of insulin in the body, helping to lower the risk or severity of diabetes. Eliminates toxins from the body The sulfates in Epsom salt help flush toxins and heavy metals from the cells, easing muscle pain and helping the body to eliminate harmful substances. Your skin is a highly porous membrane and adding the right minerals to your bathwater triggers a process called reverse osmosis, which actually pulls salt out of your body, and harmful toxins along with it. For a detoxifying bath, at least once weekly add two cups of Epsom Salt to the water in a bathtub and soak for 10 minutes. What are some uses of Epsom salt? *Whether you like a relaxing soak or wish to enhance your beauty effortlessly, making Epsom salt a part of your daily routine can add a whole lot of goodness to your way of life. To experience the numerous health benefits of Epsom salt, take relaxing, stress-relieving Epsom salt baths three times weekly by adding 2 cups Epsom Salt to a warm bath and soaking for at least 12 minutes. For the added benefit of moisturizing your skin, add 1/2 cup olive oil or baby oil. Do not use soap as it will interfere with the action of the salts. Try to rest for about two hours afterwards. If you have arthritic joints move them as much as possible after an Epsom salt bath to prevent congestion in the joints. As a foot bath, pamper weary feet by adding 1/2 cup of Epsom salt to a basin of warm water. Relax and soak feet for 20 minutes. If you like, rub away any calluses using a pumice stone. Dry feet, then add two drops of peppermint essential oil to your favorite natural moisturizer, like shea or coconut butter, and rub in thoroughly to lock in the moisture. If you are pregnant or have any health concerns, check with your doctor before using Epsom salts. Epsom salt uses: HEALTH Athlete’s Foot – Soak feet in an Epsom salt bath to help relieve the symptoms of Athlete’s Foot. Remove splinters – Soak affected skin area in an Epsom salt bath to draw out the splinter. Treat toenail fungus – Soak your affected toes in hot water mixed with a handful of Epsom salt three times a day. Soothe sprains and bruises – Add 2 cups Epsom salt to a warm bath and soak to reduce the pain and swelling of sprains and bruises. Ease discomfort of Gout – Ease the discomfort of gout and reduce inflammation by adding 2-3 teaspoons of Epsom salts into a basin and immersing the affected foot/joint. The water should be as hot as it is comfortable. Soak for about 30 minutes. Epsom salt uses: BEAUTY Exfoliate dead skin – In the shower or bath, mix a handful of Epsom salt with a tablespoon of bath or olive oil and rub all over your wet skin to exfoliate and soften. Rinse thoroughly. Exfoliating face cleanser – To clean your face and exfoliate skin at the same time, mix a half-teaspoon of Epsom salt with your regular cleansing cream. Gently massage into skin and rinse with cold water. Dislodge blackheads – Add a teaspoon of Epsom salt and 3 drops iodine into a half cup of boiling water. Apply this mixture to the blackheads with a cotton ball. Remove foot odor – Mix a half cup of Epsom salt in warm water and soak your feet for 10 minutes to remove bad odor, sooth achy feet, and soften rough skin. Remove hairspray – Combine 1 gallon of water, 1 cup of lemon juice, and 1 cup Epsom salt. Cover the mixture and let set for 24 hours. The next day, pour the mixture into your dry hair and leave on for 20 minutes before shampooing as normal. Hair volumizer – Combine equal parts deep conditioner and Epsom salt and warm in a pan. Work the warm mixture through your hair and leave on for 20 minutes. Rinse thoroughly. Epsom salt uses: HOUSEHOLD Clean bathroom tiles – Mix equal parts Epsom salt and liquid dish detergent and use as a scrub on bathroom tile. Prevent slugs – Sprinkle Epsom salt on or near interior entry points to prevent slugs. As a hand wash – Mix Epsom salt with baby oil and keep by the sink for an effective hand wash. Epsom salt uses: GARDENING Fertilize your houseplants – Most plants need nutrients like magnesium and sulfur to stay in good health and Epsom salt makes the primary nutrients in most plant foods (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) more effective. Sprinkle Epsom salt once weekly to help nourish your houseplants, flowers and vegetables. Keep your lawn green – Magnesium sulfate crystals, when added to the soil, provide vital nutrients that help prevent yellowing leaves and the loss of green color (magnesium is an essential element in the chlorophyll molecule) in plants. Add 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt to a gallon of water and sprinkle on your lawn to keep the grass healthy and green. Insecticide spray – Use Epsom salts on your lawn and in your garden to safely and naturally get rid of plant pests. Epsom salt is relatively cheap and you can buy a quart jug of it at your local drug store or grocery store. Also available is an Epsom salt soak with lovely scents like Eucalyptus or Lavender.

Athletes of All Ages Succeed with the Help of a Personal Trainer

27 Aug

Sports are big business – profitable for athletes and individuals who prepare athletes for competition. Professional and amateur athletes at all levels – from grade school teams to the National Football League – need assistance of expert personal trainers who can make them excel at their sports. Until recently, most people believed that power athletes were born not made. That’s changed. Modern training techniques can make anyone faster, stronger and more powerful. A Certified Specialist in Sports Conditioning through International Sports Science Association can provide powerful tools needed to prepare athletes for professional, college, school, or recreational sports.

Through this internationally recognized certification the Sports Specialist has mastered the basic science and exercise programming techniques behind training athletes for competition. This detailed certification course covers the major bones and muscle of the skeletal and muscular anatomy and how this relates to sport performance. This information is of vital importance in determining the muscles involved in specific sports and exercises to develop them. For example, a baseball pitcher must have strong arms, shoulders & back muscles to throw the ball but he must also possess balance and strong legs and lower body as well as core strength in order to pitch at peak performance.

Having knowledge about the basic methods of measuring speed, endurance, power, strength, and flexibility is essential for this certification. This includes popular tests used by the NFL and other professional teams for measuring sports specific physical fitness. Improving skill is the best way to develop power for sport. They show proven techniques for using video to build skill systematically.

Via this certification one learns scientifically proven methods for building endurance, strength, flexibility, speed, power and agility. These techniques are incredibly effective techniques to help athletes perform to their full potentials. These methods can make even people with modest talents far better than they ever thought possible.

To pass this certification one has to design programs for major athletes involved in such sports as football, basketball, soccer, track and field, baseball and softball, bodybuilding, weight lifting, and golf. The program designs were very specific and included periodized training according to season and needed performance. In other words it is very specific, right down to seasonal training per sport.

An army runs on its stomach and so do athletes. No personal trainer’s knowledge is complete without thorough knowledge of sports nutrition, supplements, and drugs. The material studied is unbiased as well as scientifically accurate information about these vital topics. Please note that personal trainers are not equipped with the knowledge and certification to provide true nutritional advice. Only registered, licensed dietitians are credible sources of this information. However a Certified Personal Trainer has a wide array of resources that we rely on for this aspect of training.

Motivating athletes is a difficult and complex task for trainers and coaches. This is my specialty because I possess a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. I am always studying some sort of psychological aspect of sports, fitness and lifestyle. Understanding psychological characteristics of champions and basic psychological techniques to help athletes keep training and withstand the pressures of competitive athletics is imperative as a trainer of athletes. Imaging is tool used by successful athletes. Imaging will help the athlete practice and focus on their sport when they are not on the field. You often see young athletes practice imaging when they play the sport on a pretend level. True athletes never stop this pretending (aka imaging)!

Pain and injury are, unfortunately, part of playing competitive sports. As a personal trainer of athletes we often design programs that help rehabilitate injuries while building or re-building fitness. We help athletes develop fitness systematically without injury. And our work can even help prevent injury! This is extremely important in working with youth athletes as I have to come to know by working with my young sons. Hiring a trainer for your young athlete can be one of the best things you can do because the work the trainer does with the athlete helps them improve performance on the field and strengthens the child so he/she is less likely to injure them self in the sport. Who wouldn’t want injury prevention for their child? And as an added bonus the child is guaranteed* to be more powerful athlete which can lead to significant gains later in life and a stronger athlete – period!

I now have a wonderful opportunity to significantly impact the lives and careers of the people I work with because I am a Certified Specialist in Sports Conditioning. I treasure this opportunity and do my best to provide meaningful service and impart important knowledge about exercise, fitness and training. With my help and guidance, combined with a passion for excellence, I hope to inspire those I guide to higher levels of achievement. Thanks to my certification with International Sports Science Association, I hope to help my clients, family and friends to aspire athletic dreams every day! It is a Win-Win situation!!!

God Bless!

Kathie Ingram Owen

Athlete’s Succeed with the Help of a Personal Trainer

*Results on a consistent program with Kathie are guaranteed!

Athlete’s Succeed with the Help of a Personal Trainer

17 May

Professional and amateur athletes at all levels – from grade school teams to the National Football League – need assistance of expert personal trainers who can make them excel at their sports. Until recently, most people believed that power athletes were born not made. That’s changed. Modern training techniques can make anyone faster, stronger and more powerful. A Certified Specialist in Sports Conditioning through International Sports Science Association can provide powerful tools needed to prepare athletes for professional, college, school, or recreational sports. Kathie received this certification in 2006 and has trained many an athlete since then!

Through this internationally recognized certification the Sports Specialist has mastered the basic science and exercise programming techniques behind training athletes for competition. This detailed certification course covers the major bones and muscle of the skeletal and muscular anatomy and how this relates to sport performance. This information is of vital importance in determining the muscles involved in specific sports and exercises to develop them. For example, a baseball pitcher must have strong arms, shoulders and back muscles to throw the ball but he must also possess balance and strong legs and lower body as well as super core strength in order to pitch at peak performance.

Having knowledge about the basic methods of measuring speed, endurance, power, strength, and flexibility is essential for this certification. This includes popular tests used by the NFL and other professional teams for measuring sports specific physical fitness.

Via this certification one learns scientifically proven methods for building endurance, strength, flexibility, speed, power and agility. These techniques are incredibly effective techniques to help athletes perform to their full potentials. These methods can make even people with modest talents far better than they ever thought possible.

To pass this certification one has to design programs for major athletes involved in such sports as football, basketball, soccer, track and field, baseball and softball, bodybuilding, weight lifting, and golf. The program designs were very specific and included periodized training according to season and needed performance. In other words it is very specific, right down to seasonal training per sport.

An army runs on its stomach and so do athletes. No personal trainer’s knowledge is complete without thorough knowledge of sports nutrition, supplements, and drugs. The material studied is unbiased as well as scientifically accurate information about these vital topics. Please note that personal trainers are not equipped with the knowledge and certification to provide true nutritional advice. Only registered, licensed dietitians are credible sources of this information. However a Certified Personal Trainer has a wide array of resources that we rely on for this aspect of training.

Motivating athletes is a difficult and complex task for trainers and coaches. This is my specialty because I possess a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. I am always studying some sort of psychological aspect of sports, fitness and lifestyle. Understanding psychological characteristics of champions and basic psychological techniques to help athletes keep training and withstand the pressures of competitive athletics is imperative as a trainer of athletes. Imaging is tool used by successful athletes. Imaging will help the athlete practice and focus on their sport when they are not on the field. You often see young athletes practice imaging when they play the sport on a pretend level. True athletes never stop this pretending (aka imaging)! I have a close friend of mine who played professional baseball (All Stars and even the World Series) tell me he still plays pretend games in his mind! And he is 46 years old today! 🙂

Pain and injury are, unfortunately, part of playing competitive sports. As a personal trainer of athletes we often design programs that help rehabilitate injuries while building or re-building fitness. We help athletes develop fitness systematically without injury. And our work can even help prevent injury! This is extremely important in working with youth athletes as I have to come to know by working with my sons who are now teens. Hiring a trainer for your young athlete can be one of the best things you can do because the work the trainer does with the athlete helps them improve performance on the field and strengthens the athlete so he/she is less likely to injure them self in the sport. Who wouldn’t want injury prevention? And as an added bonus the athlete is guaranteed* to be more powerful which can lead to significant gains later in life and a stronger athlete – period!

I have a wonderful opportunity to significantly impact the lives and careers of the people I work with because I am a Certified Specialist in Sports Conditioning. I treasure this opportunity and do my best to provide meaningful service and impart important knowledge about exercise, fitness and training. With my help and guidance, combined with a passion for excellence, I hope to inspire those I guide to higher levels of achievement. Thanks to my certification with International Sports Science Association, I hope to help my clients, family and friends to aspire athletic dreams every day! It is a Win-Win situation!!!

Happy Training, Kathie 🙂

Athlete’s Succeed with the Help of a Personal Trainer

*Results on a consistent program with Kathie are guaranteed!

Determine Optimum Cardio Exercise

02 Dec

I am shocked to realize that so many people do not know the importance of their heart rate while working out!! This includes fitness “experts”. I decided to re-post this article so that close friend of mine will maybe realize that he might want to re-evaluate that high number he has been hitting during his intense cardio workouts! Please be careful!!

By the way, you know where they “came up” with the number 220 as the beats per minute to subtract your age from? Two-hundred and twenty is the beats per minute a healthy heart makes of a newborn baby. Bet you can remember that figure now! Read on:

Determining optimum and healthy cardiovascular exercise is something we need to consider before beginning an exercise program and there are two factors we rely upon to determine these factors. They are Heart Rate and Rate of Perceived Exertion.

A huge factor to consider is heart rate during your aerobic exercise. The question I am frequently asked as a personal trainer is: What should my heart rate be during exercise?” The answer is both simple and complicated. It takes a little figuring out and just a little bit of math.

First of all, you need to figure your resting heart rate which is usually a beat a minute or a little more than that depending on your age. In general young persons have a fast heart rate which is around 80 to 100 beats per minute. As a general rule of thumb consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program and determining heart rate.

There are three phases of typical cardiovascular exercise: the warm up, the cardiovascular output, and the cool down. When you begin exercise you should slowly increase your heart rate (warm up). The cardiovascular output is when your heart rate should be in between 65-85% of your maximum heart rate. “What is your maximum heart rate?” you ask. Well this is where your calculation comes in to play. Your maximum heart rate should never exceed 220 minus your age. If you are 25 years of age your maximum heart rate should not exceed 220 – 25 = 195 beats per minute. And don’t forget the cool down or the last 5 minutes of exercise in which you bring your heart rate down.

To burn calories most efficiently you need to exercise for 20-30 minutes at 65-85% maximum heart rate. So the 25 year old client would ideally keep his or her heart rate in between 126-165 beats per minute for 20-30 minutes of exercise. To calculate this number the formula is 220 minus your age and then multiply that number by .65 for the lower number and multiply it by .85 for the higher number. The calculation for the 25 year old client looks like this:

(220 – 25 = 195 x .65 = 126 bpm) and (220 – 25 = 195 x .85 = 165 bpm)

Today’s cardiovascular equipment at a gym or ones you may use at home have heart rate sensor’s that detect your heart rate by holding on to them while exercising. Some of the equipment will even tell you if you are working hard enough or too hard because it has asked for your vital statistics before you began exercising and will calculate the numbers accordingly. Sometimes this can be a deterrent because it does not accommodate for those who can work harder or those who have to work less hard because of individual circumstances.

I often create cardiovascular activity for my clients so they can work harder from time to time and will often reach their maximum heart rate for a minute or so during their program. This happens when you perform interval training. During an interval of one minute or so you will work hard enough to reach higher than 85% of your maximum heart rate and possibly even reach your maximum heart rate. I highly recommend that you do not exceed your maximum heart rate during your interval. Once you finish your interval bring your heart rate down by taking deep breaths and slowing down the activity. TIP: You can rapidly bring your heart rate down by taking deep breaths and slowing down the activity. Whatever you do, do NOT stop activity altogether as this creates a hazardous condition and could cause faintness and in extreme conditions a heart attack.

 Another way you can monitor your cardiovascular activity is called Rate of Perceived Exertion or RPE. RPE is used as a means to quantify the subjective feelings of the intensity of exercise. The scales describe a range of intensity from resting to maximal energy outputs and are used as a visual aid to exercisers in keeping their efforts in the effective training zone. The ratings range from 6-19 and are rated as follows:

6-8 Very, very light

9-10 Very light

11-12 Fairly light

13-14 Somewhat hard

15-16 Hard

17-18 Very hard

19 Very, very hard

*Source: ACSM Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription

 Ideally you’d like to keep the RPE in between 9-16 for at least 20-30 minutes of your aerobic exercise. Remember you need 5 minutes warm up time and 5 minutes of cool down time making your total exercise time 30-45 minutes long.

It is important to note that when exercising in the water RPE is the most effective means to determine effective training zones. The reason is because heart rate is affected differently in the water than it is on land.

The reason we rely on heart rate and RPE is to determine optimum, healthy exercise. Always warm up and cool down before and after your cardiovascular activity. The preferred time for cardiovascular activity is 20-30 minutes 3-5 times per week at 65-85% of your maximum heart rate, which is 220 minus your age. Two hundred and twenty was not just an odd number they drew out of the hat, it is the number of beats per minute a healthy heart makes of a newborn baby! Cool, huh!

**Always consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Individual differences vary depending upon the status of your health.

 

Interval Training – The Cardio You Must Do!

12 Oct

I cannot stress the importance of Interval Training in your cardio program. Because of that I am re-posting this article. Be sure you add Interval Training to your cardio work out today. You’ll be so glad you did. Every single client I train I place on some type of interval program. Intervals burn calories, condition your heart, build endurance and are the best way to train your body. They are not about pushing the interval button on the cardio equipment either. They are about pushing yourself. Read on:

Lack of time and lack of results are two reasons people give for not exercising. Interval training is a great solution to these two common problems.

Interval training involves short bursts of intense activity with what is called active recovery, which is typically a less-intense form of the original activity. Interval training can help you avoid injury that often accompanies non-stop, repetitive activity. It also provides you the opportunity to increase your intensity without burning yourself out in a matter of minutes. Interval training should be based on the needs and perceptions of the participant. In other words, how you feel determines the length and speed of each interval.

The advantages of interval training are many. It utilizes the body’s two energy production systems: the aerobic and the anaerobic. The aerobic system is the one that allows you to walk or run for several miles. It uses oxygen to convert carbohydrates from various sources throughout the body into energy. They anaerobic system, on the other hand, draws energy from carbohydrates (in the form of glycogen) stored in muscles for short bursts of activity such as sprinting, jumping, or lifting heavy objects. This system does not require oxygen, nor does it provide enough energy for more than the most brief of activities. And its byproduct, lactic acid, is responsible for that achy, burning sensation in your muscles that you feel after, say, running up several flights of stairs.

Interval training allows you to enjoy the benefits of anaerobic activities without having to endure those burning muscles. In its most basic form, interval training might involve walking for two minutes, running for two, and alternating this pattern throughout the duration of a workout. The intensity (or lack thereof) of each interval is up to how you feel and what you are trying to achieve. The same is true for the length of time of each interval. For example, if your habit is to walk 2 miles per day in 30 minutes, you can easily increase the intensity of your walk (as well as its calorie-burning potential) by picking up the pace every few minutes and then returning to your usual speed.

When you first start interval training, each interval can be a negotiation with yourself depending on how strong or energetic you happen to feel during that particular workout. Don’t forget the endorphins kick in at about 5 minutes into your workout, so how you feel when you start may be different once the endorphins kick in! Interval training also helps break up the boredom that often comes with doing the same thing day after day.

Be sure to consider these four variables when designing an interval training program:

  1.  Intensity (speed) of work interval
  2.  Duration (distance or time) of work interval
  3.  Duration of rest or recovery interval
  4.  Number of repetitions of each interval

When you first begin interval training you may only be able to do ONE interval throughout your entire thirty minute workout. That’s okay, we will work up to more. Interval training is proven to work. Most important it does increase calorie-burning potential!

bubbles up

Low Carb Diets are for Body Builders not Dieters

06 May

Yes, low carb diets are for body builders not those of you trying to lose weight. Remember the Atkins Diet?  This diet was named after Robert Coleman Atkins, MD. He was an American physician and cardiologist, best known for the Atkins Nutritional Approach (or “Atkins Diet”), a popular but controversial way of dieting that entails close control of carbohydrate consumption, emphasizing protein and fat intake, including saturated fat in addition to leaf vegetables and dietary supplements. You hear less about the Atkins Diet and more emphasis on a low-carb diet because Dr. Atkins suffered a heart attack in 2002. And the American Heart Association linked that heart attack to the Atkins Diet. Did you read that? The American Heart Association linked Dr. Atkins heart attack to his low carb diet. However, being the human that he was Dr. Atkins was in denial and claimed his heart attack was due to a “chronic infection.” Whatever the case low carb diets are not good and here is my reason for stating that:

You need carbohydrates for energy, plain and simple. If you do not consume carbs your energy levels drop dramatically. There is absolutely nothing wrong with consuming carbs, they must be healthy ones and they must be eaten in moderation. Healthy carbs consist of vegetables, fruits, beans, and 100% whole grains. The more natural the food the better. I like to say, “If it came straight from God it is straight up the best!” Once food is processed by humans its’ value drops. The more food is processed the worse its value gets. For example, fresh is best, frozen is good, canned is a no-no.

Here is why low carb diets work and who benefits from them the most. You know those commercials on TV where the guy with the absolutely great body tries to sell you a weight lifting machine? Do you know how he gets that great body? Or how about the body builder (steroids or natural) who is in competition and his muscles look absolutely beautiful <–matter of opinion?  Nine times out of ten those guys do not always look that great. To prepare for those commercials and body building competitions those athletes go through a very thorough preparation.

About a week before the competition or commercial the individual will deplete his body of carbs. They consume absolutely zero carbs or practically zero for that matter. They still have to work out too and beleive me these are the toughest workouts because they have very little energy because they have no carbs in their body. They have no fuel. BUT on the day of the competition, about an hour before they go on stage, they consume the exact right combination of carbs to make their muscles look absolutely perfect. This carbohydrate concentration plus a pump it up work out, not to mention a nice spray tan, puts that plumpness in the muscle and makes it look gorgeous.  But that carb combo is what makes the body look so great.

One of my instructor’s for my personal trainer certification had trained Arnold Schwarzenegger.  He told us that Arnold would order a bottle of red wine and a sponge cake. Consuming that meal before his competition would give him that edge.

So this is one of the reasons why the low carb diet works for the normal person like you and me. You go on a low carb diet and your body goes into a type of stravation mode. When you do eat carbs again; and you will because your body will crave them like crazy; your body will give you those results you’ve been looking for. But this is only “fooling” you into thinking the low-carb diet is the way to go when in fact, it is not.

I am quite sure there are “die” hard Atkins fans who will argue the fact with me but I remain defenseless because I know there is nothing to defend. The proof is in the pudding, or should I say the proof is in the muscle tone.  Happy Training!! -Kathie 🙂

Don’t Hit a Brick Wall Prevent Your Plateau in Fitness

19 Feb

So I have been asked to talk about fitness plateaus tomorrow at the Health Expo in Needville. I thought I’d share my talk with yall here too.

Plateaus hit all of us as they are a huge factor in being human. The body gets used to doing the same thing over and over, and in life we are forced to change.  Change is really good, as you will see. What better time to talk about plateaus than right here at Lent. You see, a plateau is usually hit within 40 days – hmmm that is how long Lent is. See the parallel? Another parallel is the fact that we are about 40 days into the New Year and this is exactly about the time people start falling off the wagon in their fitness programs. And do you know why? It is that little thing called plateau. Yup – they’ve hit it. Little do they know is that if they hired a knowledgeable trainer in the beginning or read up on fitness they would know what to do when they hit that plateau. Discouragement – bye bye!

So what is a plateau in fitness? It is when progress comes to a standstill after months (40 days) of continued progress. You’ve changed all your bad habits for good ones and committed to improving your lifestyle. And then all of a sudden BAM! A halt in your progress! This occurs thanks to repetition in your fitness routine.

Our bodies are incredibly efficient and are able to adapt to any kind of work we give it. When we give it the same tasks to perform over and over again, the body adapts to the level of work and therefore becomes more proficient. Once the body gets to its optimal efficiency in performing these tasks, it requires less energy and consequently burns less calories, putting a stop to our progress. Hence, you have hit a fitness plateau. And this is when so many people quit.

So what can you do to prevent this? Well, first of all let’s ask these first questions to determine the type of plateau you’ve hit and what type of action we are going to take.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Have you been overtraining or working out too much? Not getting enough rest? Working out even though you are sore?
  2. Have you been performing the same workout over and over again for the last several weeks?
  3. Have you been eating enough calories?

If you answered yes to any of these questions and you quit seeing results from your fitness program then you have hit a fitness plateau. Here are some suggestions to overcome a plateau:

  • Take time off. The number one cause of lack of progress is overtraining. Your muscles may not be able to recover and heal the tiny tears that occur in the fibers during a workout. This is why you are sore! Without rest and recovery your body responds by decreasing the amount of calories you burn while inactive in an effort to conserve energy. Rest is just as important as working out. This may come as a surprise to some of you but it is! Taking time off allows your body to fully recover and add to that new muscle growth you’ve already stimulated.
  • Add variety. You must always challenge and surprise your body. The reason your body hits a plateau in the first place is because it has gotten used to the same ole thing. Cardio exercise is important in everyone’s fitness regimen and it doesn’t matter who you are. Interval training is very important in everyone’s cardio exercise program and you should already be incorporating intervals in your program. If you don’t know what interval training is Click Here to read about it. You can always vary the way you do intervals. For example, if you’ve been doing 1 minute fast and 2 minutes rest work, you can vary that to 2 minutes fast and 1.5 minutes rest work. You can also vary the cardio activity you are doing. Instead of using the bike try water aerobics for a change. In your strength training program you can do something as simple as reversing your routine in order to overcome a plateau. This is called muscle confusion.
  • Eat More. I know I can hear you now! What? Eat More!! Are you kidding me Kathie? No I am not! Your body needs to maintain daily function and your body will either 1) use fat for fuel or 2) use muscle (protein) for fuel – called thermo genesis or “starvation mode”. I preach about that “starvation mode” thing all the time! Many people think that cutting calories to below a healthy level will speed up their weight loss by forcing the body to consume stored fat. And yes it will speed up weight loss but when they do start to eat again, and I don’t care if it is lettuce, the body will store it as fat for the next time the body “starves” for energy. The fact is your body can function twice as long if it holds onto the fat and uses the protein (your muscles) for fuel. And this is exactly what happens, causing you to lose muscle while slowing your metabolism.

So in a nutshell, hitting a plateau is a good thing. Basically your body needs rest, more food, and a change in the program to overcome the plateau. So change is good after all!! -Kathie

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The Athlete’s Use of the Thera-Plex Unit

20 Jan

The Thera-Plex Unit is not just for physical therapy and weight loss. The athlete can also benefit from the use of the unit.

The unit has been spotted inside bodybuilding gyms and sport facilities around the world. The athlete uses it after a very hard work out. The client would do a 30 minute treatment with a speed of 10 on all 3 areas. The machine works better than a massage or a hot tub treatment but it does have a similar affect. You see, by using the machine at the maximum speed it creates an major increase in circulation. This increase in circulation in the entire body means the muscles repair quicker. A quicker repair in muscles means the athlete can perform his or her workout sooner than the next guy and therefore they are not overtraining!

An athlete who is not overtraining is a happy athlete indeed because that athlete is able to train more often which is what he or she needs to do anyhow. You see rest is just as important as working out. But sometimes an athlete has to “overtrain” and by using the Thera-Plex Unit the athlete won’t worry about that factor.

It important that the athlete use the unit immediately or as soon as possible after his workout or training session. The reason for this is the unit assists the body’s release of the lactic acid accumulated during the work out. By releasing the lactic acid and circulating the blood immediately after the workout the athlete is making sure his body is getting rid of all the toxins accumulated during the workout and thereby getting the body ready for the next work out sooner than the person who does not use the unit. The athlete would probably want to spend more time on the last cycle on the unit which is the main cycle for releasing toxins. The very last cycle on the unit is where the arms and legs are moving together.

So Mr./Ms. Athlete how about using a Thera-Plex Unit after your next workout so you can prepare for that big event!

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