"I don't want to bulk up, I just want to lean out, tone up, and have longer muscles." As a fitness professional of over 10 years, I have heard this said to me a countless number of times. It is easy to understand where this thought process comes from. Everywhere we turn their is a photo shopped, skinny but "toned" model on the cover of the latest fashion or fitness magazine. We are constantly bombarded with fitness fads that promise delivering on such goals. Unfortunately, the truth is that these goals are often misunderstood and misdirected. Muscles do not get more "toned" or "leaner" or "longer"!!! These words are subjective terms that usually mean the person wants to reduce their body fat percentage. I believe their is a misconception amongst most exercisers as to how best go about this body fat reduction, but much of that conversation is for another blog. Muscles either grow (hypertrophy) or shrink (atrophy) depending on the stress or lack of stress placed on them over time. This is an adaptation process that is an unavoidable truth. Let's examine each one individually:
Muscles cannot get longer! At least not after you stop growing as a young adult. Pilates and Barre classes often times make these promises, but the truth is, the muscle bellies reach their full "length potential" when you reach adulthood. They do not get longer, if they did, the pennation angle from your muscles to your bones would expand giving you a lessened mechanical advantage at your joint, thus, making you exponentially weaker. Luckily this unwanted outcome is impossible! Pilates and barre can improve ones flexibility and posture, thus giving them the appearance of standing taller, however, their is no change in the length of their muscle bellies.
Muscles cannot get leaner! By definition, muscles are a lean tissue in and of themselves. They cannot get leaner than they already are. You can however grow more lean muscle tissue from increased stress on the muscle. This usually comes in the form of moderate to high intensity resistance training. The most efficient way to build muscle is from a progressive, linear or periodized training program that allots for incremental increases in resistance or repetition numbers on a planned basis.
Muscles cannot get more toned! Again, muscles either grow or shrink, they don't get more toned - we are not talking about hair color here! The only way to see the "tonality" of your muscles is to stress them so they grow and then reduce the layers of fat that cover them. The good news is that lifting weights the right way will increase your muscle mass and thus increase your metabolic rate. This increase in metabolic rate will help you become a more efficient fat burning machine with proper diet and adequate daily activity levels.
The moral of the story is to not fall into the trap of subscribing to subjective slang terms thrown around in the fitness industry. If you want to look better, reduce your body fat, and feel great about your health, then you are going to need to assume the proper diet, adopt a proper resistance training program, and increase your cardiovascular activity. That's the recipe for building the body of your dreams!
Yours in Health,
Matthew Miller, CSCS, USA-W, AASDN
President - Miller Sports Training & Fitness
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Re-rack your weights. Dumbbells and plates both should be re-racked after you are done using them. Thereís nothing more annoying than to see a 115 lb girl struggling to take each 45 lb weight off the leg press machine because Mr. Olympia is too ignorant to unload any of his 10 plates. Same goes with the squat rack. Same goes with dumbbells. You get the point. Nobody wants a chaotic gym.
Donít hog a machine, bench, or any busy traffic area just to talk on your cell phone. It makes sense that other gym goers have to wait their turn or ďwork inĒ when equipment is being used, but if you are just sitting there chatting during your 15 minute break, this wonít fly with anyone for too long. You never know who you might peeve off so be respectful and if you aren't using equipment that someone else is waiting for, then hit the road.
Donít make a scene. This includes exaggerated dumbbell dropping, screaming, groaning, etc. Sometimes grunting is necessary. Thatís okay. Sometimes lightly dropping the weight is necessary and thatís okay too. Itís exaggerated slamming, throwing, screaming and any other distractions that really are not okay. *Good gyms may have rubber flooring that allows for weight to be dropped but itís almost always a posted rule not to drop the weight.
Wear Deodorant. Whether you live a hippie lifestyle or not, itís just plain gross to reek of BO. Itís okay to sweat (Itís great actually) but keep the smell factor down as courtesy to the person next to you on the treadmill (or 2 or 3 treadmills down.)
Clean up after yourself. Donít leave your sweat puddles on the bench, mat, cardio equipment or anywhere else in the gym. Use a towel or wipe down the machines when you are done. Despite what the pervert next door says, your sweat isn't sexy. So clean it up.
Put your personal belongings away. Donít carry your bag around the gym from machine to machine. It gets in the way. Put it in a locker, leave it in the car, or keep it behind the front desk if you are working out in a small gym with no locker room.
Samantha Barrionuevo, BA, CSCS, Certified Personal Trainer
Miami Beach, FL
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Beach/Sand Ė Hit the beach for a jog and your knees will thank you. Not only do you burn 1 Ĺ times the calories than running on a hard surface, but you are also saving your joints from hard impact. My number one choice, hands down. Donít forget the beach often comes with eye candy!
Treadmill Ė Weather sucks? Hit the gym. You will have less of a calorie burn without the outside elements (wind, uneven surface, etc.) but you can play around with speed, incline, and distance and get a great timed interval workout in. If you are training for a race, it is best to train outside and keep the workouts ďfunctional.Ē (You do not have to propel yourself forward on a treadmill as you do outside.) Bonus: You can always multi-task and watch your favorite TV show during your run, too!
Hills- Use hills to build power, speed, strength and possibly the fun factor if running seems to be a bore to you. If you are serious about your workouts, incorporating hill work is the way to go.
Trail- If you donít have a beach at your fingertips and canít stand the sight of a treadmill, hitting the trails may be your best option. Itís much easier on your joints than pavement. A lot of times, trails will have uneven running surfaces and hills thus making it a good place to build endurance, strength and speed. Plus, you wonít have to watch out for cars, so you can zone out and take some ďmeĒ time!
Track Ė The track is great for sprint workouts and easy to measure distance.
Boardwalk/Dirt Path Ė This is usually a flat surface and nice for long distance running. If you are running with baby and stroller, this is probably the best choice for you.
Concrete/Hard Surface/Road Ė If this is your last or only available option, go for it. Make sure to have supportive shoes and carry out proper running technique. If you find a hard surface/path to run on where cars will not be around, this could be an option for stroller running as well.
The bottom line is run where itís safe and use the resources you have available. If you live near the beach, make good use of it. If you live where there is 8 feet of snow outside, invest in a treadmill. Have bad knees? Try running in water and stay off the pavement! Find whatís right for you and go for it!
Samantha Barrionuevo, Certified Personal Trainer
Miami Beach, FL
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http://www.thumbtack.com/Premier-Person ... gt;Premier Personal Training Service</a>
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