Interval Training

Interval training is simply a matter of alternating high intensity exercise and low intensity exercise. It allows one to get the benefits of the high intensity work while giving the body some rest time. It allows one to extend a workout time period and build endurance gradually.

Running on a flat surface burns calories and gives your heart and lungs a great cardiovascular workout. Running up hill challenges your muscles, heart, and lungs, burning more calories and providing additional toning. But taking a 30 minute run up hill or on a steeply inclined treadmill would quickly exhaust most of us, or likely force us to stop early. However, running up hill then back down, or up hill then on flat ground would allow for high intensity work counter balanced by intervals of slower periods of active recovery. Interval training burns more calories and pumps more blood than continuous lower intensity exercise because it includes intervals of energy and oxygen-hungry work.

Because interval training burns a lot of calories and provides good muscle work, it may help you save time. A pound of feathers weighs the same as a pound of bricks. Likewise, running one mile burns the same number of calories as walking one mile. But walking one mile takes a lot more time. If your goal is calorie burning and toning, and you are short on time, then interval training does more, faster. Just remember that improving cardiovascular health requires aerobic exercise of 30 – 60 minutes, so don’t make all of your workouts quickies, save those for when you’re in a rush.
Interval training can also be helpful if your goal is to move yourself up to the next level of endurance and fitness. Maybe you have been trying to start a running program, but can’t seem to maintain such a demanding exercise. Interval training is, in fact, one of the most effective ways to train the body. Marathoners commonly use this method to train for an up-coming race. A good program is to run for 4 minutes then walk at a good clip for 1 minute, or do a 3/2 interval. Your body will work hard then rest (while remaining active), work hard then rest. Your heart, lungs and muscles will make the transition to running, running farther, or running faster in a safe and productive manner.

There are a lot of ways to add intervals to your workout. If you are already a runner add hills or speed segments. If aerobics classes are your genre, add explosive moves like jumps or sprints. Include segments of speed walking in your normal walking routine or take the incline of your treadmill up a little higher at timed intervals.

Interval training is productive and can add excitement to your ho-hum exercise routine. Doing interval work in place of your normal routine, once a month, once a week, or once a day, is a good and effective plan. E-mail me if you need suggestions on how to intensify, endure and enjoy. You’ll be glad you did.

Strength Training for Women

Strength training was once shunned by women who feared becoming “bulked up”. Only a few men and women have the potential to add large amounts of muscle. Women can increase strength with a much smaller increases in muscle compared to men. Those small increases in muscle add shape to the body, increase tone, and make you look better. The stronger your body is, the more toned you will be. Athletes have incredible body tone because they are very strong. That does not come from lifting light weights several times. It comes for imposing rigorous demands on the body that force it to adapt and become stronger.

Muscle is much denser than fat and will not significantly add to that bulked up look as much as an increase in fat would. Besides, if you are one of the select few women with the capacity to add significant amounts of muscle, the muscle increase occurs very slowly and you can stop increasing the weights you are lifting if and when too much muscle appears imminent. Most will find that they never will reach that point. Often people mistake the bulked-up look to muscle, but more often the real reason is fat. It is much more difficult to increase muscle than fat.

An increase in muscle and strength occurs when muscles are worked intensely. To do this two things must happen: (1) Demands are places on the body beyond a level that the muscles are equipped to handle: and (2) the body is giving adequate time to rebuilt after the exercise stimulus. The strength increases occur during recovery periods not during exercise. That’s why rest is important and the danger of overtraining is great when too much time is spent strength training.

It does not take hours in the gym each week to get results. Drudgery is not a requirement to increase strength. Just 30 minutes a week can produce remarkable results. To maximize results work intensely. If you are working intensely, workouts cannot be very long. The more intensely you work the more recovery time you will need and the less frequently you will need to workout. More time in the gym will not result in more improvement if the body is not given enough time to recover.

While many exercise for its cosmetic benefits, the health benefits are considerable, and far more important.

Increased bone density. Osteoporosis studies confirm what has been suspected for years. Strong muscles make for strong bones. Women who have undergone weight training have been able to significantly increase bone densities.

Lessen the debilitating affects of Osteoarthritis. Cartilage acts as a cushion between the bones and as a shock absorber when the body is subjected to excessive forces. Eventually the cushion wears out. You can hasten that process by engaging in excessive high impact exercise. Too much running and improper weight training can produce such unwanted results. Each body is different and some are less suited to this pounding than others. Weight training should be performed in such a manner where excessive force is minimized.

Protection of joints and connective tissue. Excessive force causes injury. This can be caused by a single event such as a turned ankle, or it can be caused by repetitive use. In either case the body has been compromised. If it is not allowed sufficient time to heal the condition often becomes chronic. Once a joint has been damaged the best you can do outside of surgery is to strengthen the muscles around those joints. This is best accomplished through strength training. Running will not make the muscles stronger. In fact excessive running can make the muscles weaker and in some case cause injury. According to Runner’s World 70 percent of those who run regularly for a year will experience an injury. This is not to say that people should not run (There are of course some who should not run.). People should not run to the point of injury.

Increased muscle tissue and range of motion. It is simple, if you don’t use it you lose it. As adults we lose about 10 ounces of lean muscle a year after the age of 30. If we don’t use the muscles the body has no need for extra calorie burning tissue. As we age we gradually lose the strength to move through a complete range of motion. This loss of flexibility is called adaptive shorting. Your body adapts to the demands or lack of demands placed on it. Proper strength training can reverse this muscle loss better than other forms of exercise and will produce enhanced flexibility. While it is good to be more flexible (safely increase your range of motion), enhanced flexibility is better. Enhanced flexibility is the ability to move through a greater range of motion and have more strength through that increased range of motion. With enhanced flexibility you will be stronger, feel better and reduce the likelihood of injury. There is no need to go through life with compromises in abilities and constant aches and pains.

Lower body fat, higher metabolism, and lower blood sugar. Each pound of muscle lost means a lower basal metabolic rate of 50 to 70 calories. A lower metabolism means less fat burning and a greater propensity to add fat. Muscle aids in the disposition of blood sugar. A more muscular body will burn more fat, control blood sugar, and lessen the likelihood of type 2 diabetes.

Protection against injury and immune deficiencies. The No. 1 one reason people end up in nursing homes is due to the loss of strength to carry out daily activities. With decreased strength, balance becomes more of a problem. Falls are more prevalent and injuries result – next stop the nursing home. A person with a stronger body is less likely to sustain injuries, less likely to fall, and is more able to withstand the debilitating effects of sickness.

The benefits are huge and the time required is minimal. You should operate from the premise that it is not how much exercise you can withstand; it is how much is required to produce optimal results. Anything beyond that which produces maximal results is a waste of time and counterproductive as your body cannot adequately recover from the exercise stimulus. If you attempt to put in as much time as possible strength training hoping for improved results, the only improvement will be in the wallet of your trainer.

Science of Arm Training

If your arms haven’t grown since you thought baseball was drug-free, then it’s time to make a change to your workouts. And I’m going to show you how to use efficient and effective exercises in a scientifically-designed plan that will add more size to your arms a week at BALCO labs.

Unlike the average gym member, the lifter that gets results trains with a plan (even on arm day). While my sets and reps scheme might be “out in left field” compared to what you are doing now, believe me, it’s guaranteed to improve on most arm training programs. But if you insist on playing in the 10-15 rep range for every exercise then you are bound to plateau and have minor-league arms. Research shows that a wide range of repetitions (from 3 reps per set to 12 reps per set) can lead to big-time gains in muscle size.

Using low reps and heavy weights for your arm exercises might go against the grain, but the following outline will work for arms and all other body parts. But for now, this is all you need to know.

In the first exercise of this workout, you’ll do 3 sets of 5 reps with a heavy weight (that allows you to complete all reps according to the guidelines below). The goal is to build absolute (“maximal”) strength and muscle mass (obviously). Increasing your absolute strength will help you lift more weight in all exercises. And if you can lift more weight, then you can train the muscles harder. In response, the muscle will get bigger to keep up to the demands of the heavy weights.

In the second exercise of the workout, you’ll use 4 sets of 8 reps. It just might be the optimal combination of intensity and volume for muscle growth and will work extremely well for lifters that have been stalled on higher rep sets.

In the third and final exercise of the workout for the arms, you’ll do 3 sets of 12 reps to add more volume to the workout and to fatigue the muscle and deplete muscle glycogen (glycogen is the name for carbohydrate stored in the muscles). High-volume training and fatigue cause the muscles to “stock up” on carbohydrate stores in preparation for the next training session. And when your muscles stock up on glycogen, they get bigger and future training sessions can be more intense. At the end of the 6 week program you’ll be blasting through these workouts with more intensity and strength than you’ve had in months.

One the trademarks of my strength-training programs, as you will see in the months to come, is to use supersets as often as possible (although there will be exceptions to the rule). With supersets, we pair two non-competing exercises together to get more work done in less time, without sacrificing strength or mass. Muscle size is not associated with how long you spend in the gym. The training goal is to get in, work hard, get out, pound a post-workout shake, get home, eat and grow.

Another way to increase the effectiveness of the training program is to focus on the tempo of the exercise. Tempo just means the speed of the exercise. For example and for our purposes, a 3-1-1 tempo means you’ll take 3 seconds to lower the weight, then you’ll pause for 1 second, and then you’ll lift the weight back up in 1 second. A slow eccentric (lowering) tempo and a fast concentric (lifting) tempo will work your Type II muscle fibers the hardest – these are fibers that have the greatest potential for muscle growth. So you’ll get your best strength and mass gains by using that general tempo arrangement.

You may have gone through a tempo phase in the past for a couple of weeks and then due to human nature you probably got lazy and forgot about using it. But for the next 6 arm workouts, I want you to stick to the prescribed tempo. You’ll see and feel the benefits after the first workout.

Now all that remains is to choose the best exercises for building big arms. With the help of scientific research, experience, and some recommendations from Charles Poliquin, I’ve put together some of the most efficient and effective arm exercises for mass and strength.