What is Periodization and How Could it Apply to My Fitness Program

Periodization was first developed for athletes to avoid over training. Basically it involves cycling on and off of varying workout intensity levels. The idea is to avoid injuries associated with overtraining, as well as setting a specific time frame to be in peak shape. An example of periodization would be a marathon training program.

The average person would use this type of program most likely to to enhance their appearance for an upcoming event. A typical example of this would be a person preparing for a wedding or class reunion.
Many of us will start working out in anticipation of summer approaching.

If you one of those people here are some recommendations to get yourself looking your best this summer.

Given that we’re still right smack in the middle of winter this would be a good time to be following a quality strength training program. Ideally this would involve two or three days of strength training per week with a day or two rest in between. Best results would come from 8 to 15 repetitions of 3 to 4 sets with 60 to 90 seconds rest in between sets.

Once we get closer to the summer your program should change. This would be the best time to incorporate either circuit or interval training. The added cardiovascular exercise will help burn fat and calories. The desired effect is that you will become more lean which will show off all that muscle you built during the winter months. This being said, for women please don’t worry that building muscle necessarily means getting bigger. As long as you stay at repetitions that are about 12 to 15 you really are not working on building size. It’s repetitions below 10 that are best for that.

Although periodization was developed for athletes preparing for peak events, it doesn’t mean that your peak event has to be athletic. Hard work that is done during this never ending winter will help you look your best when the summer comes.

 

How to best incorporate strength training with Pilates

Ok, I know this title will cause most people who do pilates to take exception because pilates in itself is strength training. However many of those who have never tried it have preconceived notions on exactly what pilates is. When asked, many will say that it is mostly about stretching and building only abdominal strength. Well yes, it is those are common objectives during pilates workouts, however when done correctly pilates should be a total body workout focusing on muscular strength as a whole. It can be as aggressive and challenging as the fitness level of the participant will allow. This being said, pilates can also be very rehabilitative. Just as in any fitness program, the workout is dictated by goals and ability.

What is unfortunate about traditional strength training vs. pilates is that most people do either/or and the two are usually not done in the same month, week, or day. If you have researched the best ways to stay fit, chances are you have learned that diversifying your workouts are the key to being the most fit as well as the way to avoid injury. There is no reason why pilates cannot be incorporated into any strength training program. The problem with this idea is that gyms and trainers usually have them in separate areas and most instructors are not trained to do both. If this is the case in your gym, I would highly recommend alternating pilates workouts with workouts done in a traditional gym setting.

Although both forms of training are effective workouts, the focus for each is different and the two complement each other well. Many pilates exercises challenge the abdominal region somewhat more than traditional strength training exercises and take you through larger movements. When you are feeling tight from a possible heavy strength training day, the larger ranges of motion done in pilates can give you that needed stretch. It is important to note however, that just because you are stretching it doesn’t mean you aren’t having a tough muscular workout. It just means that the larger ranges of motion complement possible compromises made in range of motion when doing a heavier strength training workout.

In an ideal situation, pilates and weight training can be included in the same workout. If you have the ability to work with an instructor who is trained in both then going in between the two can not only be a tough workout, but the diversity will result in a very well rounded program. The way that the programs are tied in together can vary every workout according to what your body needs. In other words workouts can simply be divided or you can switch from one modality to the other throughout the workout. This approach is what will keep you the most fit as well as keeping you from becoming injured.

Pushing through the “plateau effect”

It is so gratifying measuring your success after beginning a diet and exercise program. The results that come at the onset are motivating and fuel you to continue. People begin to notice improvements in your physique and your clothes begin to fit differently. However, after a period of consistent improvement, your rate of progress begins to slow down or stop completely. This slowing or stopping of fitness gains is referred to as the “plateau effect”. In order to get your fitness gains back on track, you need some information and to make some changes in your “up till now productive” routine.

Lets start with the word “routine”; for our purposes, it means to do the same or similar thing at the same time and place. I will use the following spinning class schedule as an example: for the past four months you have been taking coach Spinshoe’s 60 minute, high intensity spin class ,religiously, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 5pm. To reiterate, same class, same instructor, same days, same time. Congratulations on your persistence (or OCD). Unfortunately for you, there is a process that occurs with religiously following a routine, it is called “adaptation”. This means that you get use to doing what was once challenging (you “get in shape”), and what was once challenging is no longer challenging. The net result of this occurring is that your fitness improvements slow down or stop.

In order to avoid the “plateau effect” you need to systematically change up your routine. Having a “routine” is good, you simply cannot stay on the same one too long. Plan on sticking to one routine for 6 to 8 weeks, this should allow ample time for improvement without hitting a plateau. After 6 to 8 weeks, significantly change your routine. Referring back to the aforementioned spin class schedule, a significant change might be to take a 90 minute, low to moderate intensity spin class on Monday and Friday and try a circuit training weight class on Wednesday (or on Wednesday and Saturday-I recommend resistance training at least two times a week in order to optimize improvements). You will notice that you do not have to completely stop doing your old activity, but you do have to change “how” you are doing it; you are changing from a high intensity class to a low to moderate intensity class (that is 30 minutes longer too!). Stick to this “new” routine for 6 to 8 weeks, then move on to another “significantly” different routine.

You do not need to keep coming up with “significantly different” routines indefinitely (but you may enjoy this creative aspect of the “art and science” of fitness- I know I do!). Try to find 4 to 6 different routines that you enjoy and that work for you, then cycle through them; staying on each routine for about 6 to 8 weeks. You may find it motivating and useful to keep a fitness log or journal and try to beat the “personal best’ that you achieved the last time you cycled through a specific routine. Good luck and keep improving!

Benefits of working with a personal trainer

For those of you who may question why working with a trainer may be a better choice than working out on your own I would like to share some info on what often brings people into my gym and how working with our trainers has helped. Reasons to seek out a trainer range from the desire to be motivated by someone who could help you achieve your goals more effectively to the fear of feeling as though working out alone may cause injury. There are also many who simply have learned that they will not stick to it on their own without help.

Unfortunately a foot on the scale or breaking out that summer wardrobe is often the driving force in hiring a trainer. Most of us have good intentions, but have had trouble sticking to a fitness regimen. An appointment with a trainer is a commitment to make time available for yourself and your well being. It’s also a way of sending yourself a message that your level of fitness is important enough to devote a focused amount of time with a professional. Having someone help to clarify your goals and working toward them with you is a huge motivator.

There are also those who seek out help from a trainer due to aches and pains that didn’t used to be there. Lack of energy may be a problem as well. This population sees their quality of life declining and simply wants to feel better. They may not only have specific goals, but also special needs that can be addressed more effectively by a trainer who is educated on how to address those needs. For example, a common limitation of someone new to fitness is lower back pain. How can you begin to know how to lessen that pain and avoid making it worse? Often people begin a workout regimen on their own and get injured which causes them to quit. A qualified personal trainer will not only help you work around an injury, but should be able to give you workouts that can help minimize pain.

Finally there are those who have been working out on their own, but have hit a plateau and are unsure of how to progress beyond their current level of fitness. This is frustrating because where you may have developed the discipline to work out regularly, the initial results may have stalled. Your body has the ability to adapt to what you are doing so in order to continue to improve your program must evolve along with your fitness level. A trainer should be able to continuously challenge your body and help you come up with alternatives to the workouts you have adapted to.

Whatever the reason that inspires one to seek our a trainer, better results can be counted on. Your chances of preventing injury and achieving your goals will be greatly enhanced. Better habits will be formed and your time in the gym will be far more productive.

Ways to continue your exercise regimen when the weather turns nasty

We can always come up with excuses to not exercise. For the most part we also know that they really are just excuses and if we schedule our workouts in and make them a priority then we will fit exercise in. However, what if your fitness regimen takes place outdoors? Not all of us choose a gym as our only means to get our workouts in. We cant always count on weather to cooperate. With proper planning you can still get your workout in, even if the weather turns nasty.

If your daily run or walk is the means you use to get your cardiovascular exercise then do your best to prepare for the worst weather. For me, the best way to dress for running in the cold is by wearing lots of layers. Your body gets warm in no time when you are moving so your core is usually the easiest part to keep warm. A lightweight running hat or beanie will trap the heat in and often are lined around the headband to absorb sweat. Neck gaiters or face masks are also the best way to go in order to protect your face from wind without worrying about a scarf coming lose. I find that the parts that become cold most easily are hands and feet. Many companies make lightweight running gloves that are easily just thrown into the wash. If you are like I am however, you will need hand warmers. Several companies make ones that are reusable. If your hands tend to get cold easily they really make a huge difference. Chances are if your hands tend to get cold then so do your feet and yes, you can buy running socks that are made specifically for cold weather.

If all else fails and there is an ice storm, hurricane, or earthquake and you really can’t make it out of the house (Oh my!) then plan for an indoor workout. Without owning a treadmill or some other type of cardiovascular machine this can be a little harder. If you have a room in which you can jump rope without disturbing the downstairs neighbors then I highly recommend it as a means to get your cardio in. Jumping rope does take a little while to become skilled at doing however. Be prepared for it to get easier as you become better at it. If jumping rope doesn’t appeal to you then a little on line shopping for a workout DVD could be a solution that works for you. There are a multitude of ones to choose from. Take a look at the credentials listed for the person who created the workout. Make sure that the workout is coming from a qualified individual who is a certified professional. Ideally a workout DVD should offer modifications for different levels of participants. Choose the DVD by the type of workout that motivates you rather than the speed of results promised. Often quick promises are sales tactics and involve aggressive workouts that may not be the safest.

Again with a little planning you can continue your workout schedule even in less than ideal weather. The key is making a commitment to yourself to focus on your health. Once that commitment is made you can always work around the weather and find a way to put your health first.

How to Reset on Failed Resolutions

If you are like many, the holiday season was coupled with indulgences that fueled New Years resolutions. Afterwards you were ready to take on the new year with a new diet and exercise program to more than make up for the extra pounds from the holidays. This all worked well for the first week or two. However things started getting hard after that. Your ultimate goal is to make changes that last. new years resolutions can be too ambitious and often set you up to fail. Change is difficult and needs to be approached with short term goals in order to work toward the larger ones.

For example, rather than going on a diet maybe an alternative would be to ask yourself what unhealthy foods consumed on a regular basis can be cut out or limited. Start with working on one nutritional goal per week and build on it. For example you could set a beginning goal of substituting dessert with yogurt or replacing a daily unhealthy snack with a better choice.

As for exercise, rather than joining a gym and promising yourself you will go seven days a week, try something a little more realistic. The current usda exercise guidelines call for at least 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity physical activity just to reduce the risk of chronic disease. This is not even what is recommended for weight loss. That being said, many people can not commit to those guidelines right away. Thirty minutes three days a week is a good start. An idea could be to start that routine, keep it going for a month and then revisit your goals and see if you could build on them.

The bottom line is that dramatic changes in diet and exercise often cause you to end up feeling deprived. When the pendulum swings in one direction it often swings back in the other causing you to overindulge. Restrictive diets cause your metabolism to slow down which make you more likely to put on more weight than you started out with. Exercise programs that feel like punishment will soon be left behind. If your new years health resolutions have already been abandoned, try resetting by making a short term resolution or goal. By reaching a short term goal can you may just gain the momentum the momentum you need to attain those longer term resolutions.

PRESS RELEASE: A Multifaceted Approach to Fitness at the Reopening of Dakota Personal Training and Pilates

Dakota Personal Training and Pilates opened their studio ten years ago with a multifaceted approach to fitness, and consistently delivers this approach to their Manhattan clientele. As their approach and trainers evolve, so to will their studio. In November, their Upper West Side studio will undergo further upgrades in order to optimize a holistic approach to fitness.

Owner Penny Smart-Ludlow began as a group fitness instructor and personal trainer, and branched out over time to include Pilates, stability ball and interval training, as well as other modalities. “The more versatile your workout is, the more fit you are,” she claims. In turn, she has sought out trainers who have well-rounded backgrounds and seeks to match them with clients according to their individual needs.

The individual needs of clients often extend past the constraints of either strength training or Pilates alone. The trainers at Dakota Personal Training and Pilates understand the benefits of an eclectic approach that combines the lean muscle benefits of strength training, and the core strength and mobility that comes from Pilates. The latest expansion of the Pilates area, and the addition of several new Life Fitness machines will allow for trainers to continuously improve this uniquely personal training experience.

The trainers at Dakota Personal Training and Pilates make up a team of professionals that is truly greater than the sum of its parts. Each trainer is skilled in multiple, complimentary disciplines; this creates a training environment in which the client is assured that their training needs will be met. Each new client is carefully screened and placed with a trainer who will maximize their results.

Which is more effective,weight training or Pilates?

What will give you the best results? It depends on what your goals are. These two forms of exercise are very different. The goals of those participating in them are usually very different as well. In my opinion, a good strength training program focuses on strengthening the entire body. Pilates focuses more on strengthening the muscles supporting the spine as the body moves through large ranges of motion. Each form of training has its benefits although neither has a complete answer to physical fitness.

The goal of a strength training program other than to gain strength is usually to lose fat as well. Through strength training you can increase lean body mass which in turn will speed up metabolism and change your ratio of muscle to fat. Strength training is also proven to slow down or prevent osteoporosis.

What can be missing from some strength training programs is what is commonly called core strength. Your core, or your muscles supporting the spine should be strengthened along with the muscles of the limbs. That is one of the main goals of Pilates. Pilates exercises challenge your core to maintain stability throughout large ranges of motion. This enhances flexibility as well as builds strength throughout the range of the muscles involved. Many Pilates exercises also emphasize spinal articulation which increase strength and flexibility in the spine.

Strength training can incorporate core strength when the body is made to support itself while lifting weight. Traditional body building programs often don’t comply with this principle. Most exercises in which your spine is supported by a machine or a bench do not challenge your core. Flexibility can be enhanced in a strength training program if the resistance enables you to work throughout your full range of motion. A program where the goal is mainly to build size does not enable you to work through large enough ranges of motion to enhance flexibility.

On the flip side while Pilates exercises may challenge your core they often do not give enough resistance to build lean body mass. Contrary to popular belief, Pilates does not lengthen your muscles. This is physically impossible. Small gains in muscle to fat ratio are often seen in one who does not exercise at all. However resistance must be challenging to muscle groups other than your core to change body composition.

So what is best would be to incorporate both forms of exercise. Exercise programs that use ideals of both forms of training are well rounded. This being said, neither is adequate to achieve significant changes in cardiovascular fitness. Cardiovascular training should always be done in addition to resistance training to see the best results.

What are the effects of exercise on aging?

Most of us have an idea what the effects of exercise are on your average person. Generally strength training helps boost your metabolism, and change your body composition. Cardiovascular exercise helps burn calories, increase endurance, and strengthens the heart. For the older population exercise also has been proven to counteract many of the problems associated with aging.
Decrease in lean body mass

A major condition we face as we get older is something known as Sarcopenia or muscle wasting disease. Once adults pass their twenties about 10oz of lean body mass is lost per year which is largely made up of muscle tissue. The good news is this can be prevented by resistance training. Studies have shown that older adults achieve the same changes in body composition as in those who are younger. We can actually put back what we lose.
Flexibility

As we age we lose flexibility resulting in increased risk for injury. Resistance training in which you work your full range of motion enhances flexibility. Regular stretching can increase flexibility lost due to aging. Remaining flexible also enhances balance. are
Bone density

Current research shows that exercise is likely to be the strongest way to prevent bone loss and increase bone density. Weight bearing exercise that puts load onto the skeleton is most effective. Resistance training using weight or exercise using body weight against gravity are both effective means (i.e. walking as opposed to swimming or bike riding).
Balance

Falls are the leading cause of injury related death in those over seventy five. Resistance training done on your feet and particularly that which incorporates balance can prevent falls.
Cardiovascular endurance

Being physically fit reduces chronic inflammation such as that associated with arthritis. It enhances your mood as well as cognitive functioning which in turn helps counteract Alzheimer’s. It lessens the possibility of suffering from dementia, diabetes, and other degenerative diseases.

The current exercise recommendation for cardiovascular exercise is thirty minutes five times per week and strength training twice per week. For someone who is sedentary these goals can be quite difficult. It’s important to remember that something is better than nothing. Small, realistic goals that you can commit to are certainly more beneficial than the all or nothing approach. Start off withsomething that is realistic and slowly add more activity. Do your best to find what is most enjoyable to you so working out can be something you look forward to.

References:
Taylor Paul, The secrets of Longevity . Part 2. PT on the net ; Westcott Wayne, Aging, Exercise and Motivation. Strength training for older adults. PT on the net:

Who Else Wants the Secret to Great Abs?

It never fails. As spring approaches people start thinking about getting in shape for summer. And every year the number one thing I’m asked is “How can I get great abs?”

You’ve probably pondered that question at some time or another and you’re likely frustrated with your waistline. Maybe you’ve given up on your abs after doing dozens of crunches only to see zero results. I don’t blame you.
Forget everything you’ve heard about how to sculpt your abs. Crunches simply won’t give you a six pack.

You see, to do crunches with the hope that it will turn your midsection into a washboard is to operate under one of the most widely held fitness myths. I’m talking about spot reducing. Simply put, training one area of your body will not specifically burn fat from that area.

You’ve probably heard that spot reducing is a myth, but most people still train as if it is true. Doing crunches will not magically make your waist shrink, it will not cause your muffin top to disappear, and it will not give you washboard abs.

Only a drop in body fat will do that for you.

So what is the secret to great abs? Instead of endless crunches, the secret is a winning combination of fat burning cardio, resistance training, and proper eating.

It is absolutely possible for you to dramatically shape up your waistline before summer hits this year. Yes, Y-O-U. Weight loss is not reserved only for the people you’ve seen on the Biggest Loser or on diet pill infomercials. You can do it too.
Answer the following two questions to see how your routine measures up:

How often do you exercise? If your answer was anything less than 4 times a week, then that’s the first thing getting between you and streamline abs. How do you define a fat burning workout? A routine including intense cardiovascular training coupled with effective resistance training. Do you do this?

I’m sorry to be the one to break this to you, but walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes isn’t a fat blasting routine. Neither is a leisurely 20 minutes on the elliptical machine. The truth is that you can dramatically increase your results while investing less time when you exercise right.

Cardio exercise is all about maintaining an effective level of intensity. This doesn’t mean that you should be out of breath or gasping for air. It does mean that you need to push yourself.

Resistance training is the second key part of a fat burning workout. This means working your major muscle groups against resistance in a way that stimulates your metabolism. Again the key here is to find the right intensity and to keep each muscle group guessing.
What kind of shape is your diet in?

Diet is a big stumbling block for most people-especially as it relates to their midsection.
Here’s a fact: If your diet is out of control then your abs will be too. You can’t trim your waist without trimming the junk out of your diet, regardless of how hard you exercise.

Keep calories in check.
Do you know how many calories you eat? The best way to find out is to record everything you eat for a few days. Tally the number of calories that you eat each day and do an evaluation-feel free to recruit me to help out with this part. Together we’ll chart improvements for your diet and adjust your calories for maximum results.

Just say “No” to junk food.
While this may seem obvious, your definition of “junk food” may need an alteration. Refined sugar is one of the biggest culprits in the junk food world-it is found in soft drinks, blended coffee drinks, cookies, cakes, packaged snacks, and other sinfully sweet treats. Processed fat is another monster. As a rule of thumb you can safely view all processed or refined items as junk food.

Eat more frequently.
The key here is to never let your metabolism “crash” by going hours without eating. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to skip breakfast-as this is the meal that ‘breaks the fast’ that your body goes into each night. Stick with eating small meals every few hours and always avoid stuffing yourself.

You should now understand why you are better off not wasting time on crunches-while it is important to exercise your abs a couple of times a week, you won’t expect fat to fall of that area after 100’s of crunches.

Do you want to flatten and sculpt your waist in time for summer this year? All you have to do is decide that you really want it. Commit to yourself-you deserve it.

See me for fat blasting workouts that deliver results. Together we will get you on a program that will melt the fat off your abs, exposing shape and definition-just in time for summer.