Friday, August 31, 2012

Fitness Friday: How to Deadlift Correctly

The folks at Fitsugar have excellent instructions on how to deadlift:

  • Hold the barbell (or two dumbbells at your sides) close to your legs, almost touching them.
  • Keep your arms straight and knees slightly bent.
  • Slowly bend at your hip joint -- not your waist -- and lower the weights as far as possible without rounding your back. 
  • Keep your back straight; a good way to do that is to look forward, rather than at the ground. Keep your spine neutral with a natural low-back arch, shoulders down. 
  • Squeeze your glutes to pull yourself up at a quicker pace than it took to bend down (Fitsugar recommends four seconds to bend down and two seconds to pull up). Don't use your back. Do not round your spine.
  • Using a weight that allows you to do three sets of 12-15 reps, keeping your form strong and correct through to the end.
Be sure to read the article, and not just because it concurs with what I have told clients for years: deadlifts are great for your core, glutes, posture... pretty much every muscle group.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tai Chi in Sculpture

This past spring, Peking University hosted repeat Olympic tai chi sculpture exhibition.

According to the Global Times:
In this exhibit, 200 sculptures depicting different tai chi maneuvers and forms were displayed on the grass west of the Qiubade Gymnasium, the location of the table tennis events during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The university hoped that drawing attention to tai chi and other outdoor activities would engage visitors to become more interested in sport.
(Photo credit pending.)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Shaping Up with Social Media

What tools do you use to get in shape? How about a keyboard and monitor?

People are using their computers for nearly everything these days, from address books to maps, from books to stereos. So the use of computers for fitness isn't a surprise.

Which computers, however, is a situation that's evolving: tablets, e-readers, smartphones, laptops  — there's a style and brand for everyone. I use a laptop and tablet. Chris uses a Kindle, laptop and BlackBerry. You might have an Android or iPhone.

Fitness enthusiasts can Get in Shape With David from many sources, available both on mobile devices and the Web.

If you already use any of these social media, be sure to connect with me, too:

Now, don't worry: information is shared between the resources. You'll see the videos on Twitter and Facebook, too, and graphics from Pinterest will show up on the blog and other social media. In all likelihood, you won't miss something because you read only one or two resources.

If you're there already, invite your friends to join us.

Finally, please feel free to leave comments and share information on these resources. When we share, we all learn.

See you — not only in the gym, but on the Web.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fitness Isn't Free: It Has to be Earned

Earn the Downhill courtesy motivationtohabit.tumbler

What do you want to accomplish on the fitness front? Make Fitness Friday the day you make your goals for the weekend.

Start today to make tomorrow better.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

More Muscle Groups, Higher Dividends

Boy, was I glad when I read the article below in the July-August 2012 issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. The article states that using multiple large-muscle groups creates a larger after-burn with your muscles. 

By expending more energy (which translates to calories), your burn more calories. This leads to more effective muscle-sculpting and weight loss.

As I have said repeatedly, keeping the body off-balance gives us better results, and we need to learn — and apply — new techniques and practices in our workouts. It also reinforced the message I bestow on my clients: Don't be afraid to try something new in your workouts. More often than not, it will pay off.

What's your favorite multi-muscle workout? 

Energy Expenditure During 1-Set and 3-Set Training Protocol

Many fitness professionals incorporate strength training routines into clients’ programs in part to incite postworkout elevated energy expenditure. But how many repetitions and sets are enough to generate extended periods of afterburn? Probably many fewer than you think.

A small study of eight young overweight males pitted the traditional 3-set strength training protocol against a 1-set program. Participants completed 1 set of 10 exercises, at 10-repetition maximum (RM), targeting all major muscle groups. During a separate intervention, they completed 3 sets of the same exercises, also at 10-RM. Exercises included leg press, leg curl, calf raise, bench press, lat pull-down, shoulder press, biceps curl, triceps extension, abdominal crunch and back extension. 

Movements were divided into three circuits, with 4 minutes’ rest between them. Energy expenditure was then tested 24, 48 and 72 hours after the exercise session.

The researchers discovered that the 3-set protocol resulted in significantly more energy expenditure during the workout than the 1-set protocol. “However, within protocols, both the one-set and three-set protocols were significantly elevated for resting energy expenditure expressed in absolute amounts at 24 hours post, 48 hours post, and 72 hours post, compared with baseline,” said the authors. “The results of this investigation support the current American College of Sports Medicine recommendation for resistance training, which is one set of eight to 10 exercises focusing on the major muscle groups. 

Although this recommendation is most often cited for overall muscular fitness, the fact that a single set can elevate resting energy expenditure for 72 hours may be an important modality for weight management.”

The study appeared in the European Journal of Applied Physiology (2011; 111 [3], 477–84).

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New Series on Martial Arts Includes Tai Chi Tip

Check out the blog's new series: Tai Chi Tuesday.

Stop by on Tuesdays to pick up a tip, trick or idea related to Tai Chi and martial arts.

Also, feel free to share your ideas, experiences — even links you found helpful. Leave them in the comments below or e-mail them to me.

This week's tip is something I tell my students every week:

Don't get too hung up on the actual Tai Chi form when you practice. 

Good rooting, chi development and relaxation are every bit as important as the form itself and the self-defense aspect.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Go Organic When Buying These Four Foods

Before you take a bite of that onion or apple, is it clean? I don't mean scrubbed of dirt, but free of dangerous pesticides, hormones and other chemicals.

AARP has a "top ten" list of suggested organic purchases, and Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a "Dirty Dozen" list (and clean list) of foods affected by hormones, pesticides and other chemicals.

Whether you go "organic," "hormone-free" or choose other other "-free" foods, know what you're purchasing. Know what "organic" means (and seek guidance from reliable sources, such as the U.S.D.A.) AARP offers an easy-to-understand definition:
organic standards prohibit use of most conventional pesticides, irradiation, sewage sludge, synthetic fertilizers and genetically modified materials, while animals must be given no antibiotics or growth hormones.

Don't be afraid to ask questions of vendors at farmers markets (or even grocery store managers with "local" food sections). Know your definitions, whether something is "spray-free" or "hormone-free."

  • Apples — EWG notes that 98 percent of conventional apples contain pesticide residues.
  • Milk — Consider milk from dairy cows not fed rBST, a manufactured hormone that boosts milk production. While there's no solid evidence that rBST causes cancer in humans, it does cause udder infection in cows — which, in turn, are treated with antibiotics — which, in turn, are passed on to the human drinker. If you're trying to avoid antibiotics in your food, keep this in mind.
  • Canned tomatoes — Chances are, your canned tomatoes contain Bisphenol_A (BPA). The Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health and  U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) all worry about BPA's effect on the developing brains of fetuses, infants and young children.
  • Celery — EWG lists it as number two on its "Dirty Dozen" list with nearly 96 percent tested showing evidence of pesticides.

What foods would you add to this list?
— Chris

Thursday, August 2, 2012

How To Better Stretch The Quads

Too many people stretch ineffectively and dangerously.

Click on the video above to view a proper technique for stretching the quadriceps.