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Friday, October 22, 2010

10 Fitness Tips That Might Surprise You

Exercise science is a rapidly changing field. There is new research coming out in the fitness and nutrition journals every month. What you learned today, may be considered obsolete, no longer relevant, or even harmful a year from now.

The basics will never go “out of style.” Certain exercises, training models, and basic nutrition will always be part of the training discussion but sometimes, we just want something new. Below are 10 surprising tips that you may not have heard before. 

Group Therapy-Having a social support system in place is essential to the success of an exercise program. A recent Swiss study concluded that participants in an exercise program who have someone to share the experience with, be it a friend, spouse, or other participant in the same program, are more likely to stick with it and reach their goals than those who decide to “go it alone.”

Stop doing cardio-Long duration, moderate intensity "cardio" is a thing of the past. "Aerobics" will eventually teach your body to use its own muscle as a fuel source. While it does demand work from the muscles, it's often a lesser amount than other activities. Weight lifting and anaerobic cardio i.e. sprinting (see the Xiser), have a greater effect on decreasing body fat than aerobic conditioning. As for it “increasing” your metabolism? Your metabolism is really more dependent on how much muscle you’ve got on your body.

Crunching is for cereal-The abs may be responsible for flexing your spine but more importantly, they're responsible for stabilizing it. In fact, the muscles of your mid-section make it possible for your torso to stay upright instead of falling forward due to gravity. Your abs and lower back actually prevent your spine from flexing. Want better results from your core workout? Train your core for stability-abdominal training should focus on static and dynamic stabilization.

Burn fat while you sleep-An effective workout need not last more than 30 minutes. IF, the intensity is high. Resistance training the whole body at this high intensity places a demand on the body that effectively creates an “after burn.” The after burn effect stimulates the metabolism for 36 hours or more after exercising.  So if you want to burn fat around the clock-while you work and rest, make sure to focus on total-body resistance training .

Vitamin C-helps keep the pain away-Vitamin C may play a role in repairing muscle and connective tissue. Some research suggests that antioxidant supplementation might be effective in minimizing post-workout soreness as some people who began taking vitamin C to prevent colds, noticed a decrease in post-workout soreness (check with your doctor before considering taking vitamin C as large doses can sometimes be harmful.)

Short and Sweet-When is the best time to workout? When you’ll do it! You don’t need to use “time” as an excuse to skip a workout. You CAN complete a total body workout in 45 minutes.  Begin with 5 minutes of foam rolling, a quick stretch of your personal “hot spots,” (the areas of your body that tend to be the tightest), then move into a few minutes of dynamic stretching in preparation for more demanding work. Keep the rest between sets to a minimum, and include a series of 4-5 “bursts” of high intensity cardio after resistance training.

Elliptical just means oval-Many people prefer the elliptical machine because it is easiest on the knees, but consider this: it also supports a great deal of your body weight making the demand on your cardiovascular system a lot less so fewer calories than you might expect are being burned. Additionally, the way these machines are programmed is notoriously inaccurate, leaving the average person believing they burned a lot more calories than they actually did. Bottom line: It’s too easy!

Body parts, schmody parts-For years, body building focused on breaking the body down into individual muscles to be trained on separate days over the course of a week. However, this approach has proven limiting. Muscles do not work in isolation! The body was meant to function holistically. Instead, focus on combination movements that work as many muscles simultaneously as possible, training the whole body functionally during each workout.

The “fat burning zone” is a myth-Here’s the concept: the body burns a greater amount of fat at lower intensities than it does at higher intensities.  It’s true that the body burns a greater percentage of fat at lower intensities than at higher intensities, but as a percentage of what? It’s a greater percentage of a smaller number.  At lower intensities, 50% of calories may be burned from fat, while at higher intensities it may only burn 35% of calories from fat but at higher intensities you burn a LOT more total calories.

Fruits and Veggies grow muscle? -A recent study suggests plant foods may help preserve muscle mass. Over time, some foods create a mild but slowly increasing metabolic "acidosis." Acidosis promotes muscle protein loss or degradation. Diets high in potassium-rich, alkalizing foods like fruits and vegetables, may help neutralize acidosis. This study concluded that eating more vegetables and fruits can significantly offset this effect. This is particularly important as we age because our muscle mass naturally begins to decrease.  Remember: losing muscle mass also slows your metabolism. So eat your veggies!


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© 2011 Jinifit, Inc. Fitness expert and Athletic Specialist Jini Cicero, CSCS, teaches intermediate exercisers how to blast through plateaus to create incredible transformations. Are you ready to take your fitness to a whole new level?  Find out now!  Take Jini's "Are you Ready?" Quiz at

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