Pushing Through Your Workouts: Overloading vs. Overtraining

21 09 2014

A couple weeks ago, I woke up with a bad headache, felt lousy, and my energy was very low. My wife wasn’t able to sleep all night so I was up a lot trying to help her fall back to sleep. I got through my day at work and the time came for my workout. I wasn’t looking forward to it since my energy level was still sluggish at that point. However, I felt that if I didn’t do something, I would start off my week down a day. So I warmed up the best I could and went to the weight stack to tackle my first set of squats. My muscles felt like they were fighting  against each other rather than working together on the first set. My body didn’t communicate with each muscle group making 20 pounds feel like 100 pounds. I struggled though the first set and re-racked the weights and sat down. I started to think what my game plan should be for the rest of the workout. “Suck it up, get pumped, and push through the fatigue,” I thought “or take the day off and reset so I can come back to it fresh tomorrow?” This choice doesn’t seem to be a hard decision to make, however, some gym goers and athletes feel that if they push harder, they will break though that fatigue.

To make improvements in your body, you must work your muscles just beyond the normal demands of your body. The stress of the work must be challenging for the body resulting in adaptation to the difficult task and thereby allowing the body to endure and eventually overcome the same stress the next time it is encountered.  This concept is referred to as the principle of overload. A couple reasons many gym goers don’t see results after two to three months of beginning a new exercise routine, which ultimately leads to quitting, is because they don’t want to push their bodies to this state of exertion, or are afraid because they don’t know how hard to push themselves.

Those afraid of pushing themselves too hard are smart and should not proceed without proper guidance from a certified personal trainer. There is always an outcomes spectrum of benefits and consequences with everything we do related to health and fitness. Too little done and the benefits diminish but too much of the stimulus can also lead to diminished results.Results

When the spectrum is applied to our workouts, as mentioned before, too little stress on our muscles results in our bodies staying stagnant and improvement stops. Too much stress on the body will also lead to diminished results which could have fatal consequences such as injury. This principle is known as overtraining. If our bodies are subjected to constant stress and breakdown of our muscles, more time is needed to repair that muscle. If the time needed for repair is not present and the exerciser continues to add more stress to the damaged site, the stress becomes too great and injury may occur. Consistent balance between workload stress and repair time must be provided to generate safe and timely improvements.

So coming back to my workout a couple weeks ago. I knew that my body needed more time to rest and even if I pushed through my workout, the demands imposed on my body might have been too great which would have left me with an injury and caused me to miss more than just that one day. I could have gone easy on the weighs but the improvements would have been minimal in my state. Knowing all this information gave me the answer I needed. I cleaned off the bench and went home.





Tone Up By Making Waves

11 09 2014

Once in a while it’s nice to get off the fitness floor and jump into a new workout environment; literally. Even though the beach season is coming to a close, do this workout to give you another reason to be by the water and show off your results.

Warm-up:
5 minutes of easy swimming any stroke.

Workout: Perform each exercise for 45 seconds quickly but controlled. Move directly to the next exercise until you complete all exercises. Rest  1 minute  and repeat 3 more rounds. (click pictures to enlarge)

1. High Knees - Start with one knee up and the other one on the floor. Switch knees by driving the knee on the floor up to your chest as you thrust the raised knee back down to the bottom.
High Knee End High Knee Start

 

 

 

 

2. Punches - Get into a depth where your shoulders can be submerged when you stand with your legs wider than shoulder width and the knees are bent. Perform open palm punches by pushing your hand through the water and pulling the other hand back to the side of your chest. Rotate your hips slightly as you punch so you’re also incorporating your oblique abdominals.
Punches StartPunches End

 

 

 

 

3. Squat Jumps – Start with your feet shoulder width apart and squat down till your shoulders become submerged in the water. Explode upwards by thrusting your arms upwards and jumping out of the water as high as you can. Land with your knees bent.
Jump StartJump End

 

 

 

 
4. Reverse Abdominal Crunches - Hold yourself in place on a step so your body floats to the top of the water. Contract your abdominals as you pull your knees in towards your chest. Hold for a second and then extend your legs back out.
Crunch StartCrunch End

 

 

 

 

Cool Down:
5 minutes of easy swimming any stroke





Black Bean and Quinoa Burger

6 09 2014

Black Bean and Quinoa Burger A tasty meal for anyone looking for a vegetarian option. I found this recipe from my “Allrecipes” app and made a little modification by using red lettuce instead of a bun and adding salsa for a different flavor.

Servings per Recipe: 5-6
Serving Size: 1
Calories: 245
Fat: 10.6 g
Carbs: 28.9 g
    Protein: 9.3 g

Ingredients:
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup minced yellow bell pepper
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
1 egg
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 head red lettuce, washed and trimmed
5 table spoons salsa

Directions:
1. Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the water has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Roughly mash the black beans with a masher leaving some whole black beans in a paste-like mixture.

3. Mix the quinoa, bread crumbs, bell peppers, onion, garlic, cumin, salt, hot sauce, and egg into the black beans using your hands.

4. Form the black bean mixture into 1 1/2 inch thick patties.

5. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.

6. Cook the patties in the hot oil until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

7. Place two leaves of lettuce on a plate and place a patty on top of the lettuce.

8. Top burger with a tablespoon of salsa and serve.





I’ve Got DOMS and I’m Feeling Good

23 08 2014

 

I love waking up in the morning and feeling the rewards of my labor. In this case, I’m feeling soreness in my legs from a run I did in the pouring rain two days ago. I felt the soreness in my legs while walking down the stairs to retrieve my newspaper; I felt it squatting down to pick up the newspaper; and I felt it walking back up the stairs with my newspaper.  And although it sounds like I’m whining, I’m actually loving every moment of it. I know that I have overloaded my muscles (topic for next blog) and thus my legs will become stronger and I have DOMS to thank for it.

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a condition where soreness in the muscles is felt twenty-four to forty-eight hours post exercise and can last up to seven days. This is a neurological response to notify the body that the muscles have been stressed to their limit and any further stress could lead to serious injury. The American College of Sports Medicine refers to DOMS as the first sign of muscle damage “where the individual has done too much too soon” (Bushman, p.366). However, soreness and muscle fatigue are common and are precursors for the muscle adaptation response, therefore, casting a grey area when referring to DOMS as an indicator of the muscles getting just enough or too much workload.

Many of my clients are very timid when it comes to feeling sore after a workout. Many do not like feeling pain after exercising and I can’t blame them. The once popular mentality for building muscle, “no pain, no gain” has long been abandoned. Therefore, as a trainer, I need to progress individuals at a safe rate and allow their muscles to adapt at the right pace. For those who are trying to gain muscular advantages, whether it be strength, power, or endurance, I must heed the warning signs of overtraining. Delayed onset muscle soreness can be a good way to track your workout intensities. Rate your post soreness on a zero to six Likert-type scale, where 1 = minor soreness, 3 = moderate soreness, 5 = extreme soreness. You should try to stay below a rating of three. This will allow you to elicit the adaptation response and promote physiological gains without overly damaging your muscles, leading to injury and setback.

Even with minor soreness from DOMS, the body has encountered micro-trauma within the muscle. It’s important to allow those muscles to repair and rebuild before tackling another intense bout of exercise using those same muscles. Ample rest time is recommended and hydration with proper nutrition is beneficial in healing the damaged tissue. Static stretching does not aid in the repair or reduction of DOMS, but should be done after exercise to return the muscle to it’s lengthened state. Deep tissue massage is controversial for relieving DOMS, as they may cause more pain within the musculature and extend the length of time needed to heal. Be aware of your intensity and remember, if you can’t walk the next day, you’ve probably gone to far.

References:
Bushman, B. (2014) ACSM’S Resource for the Personal Trainer (4th Ed.) Philadelphia , PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

McGrath, R., Whitehead, J., & Caine, D. (2014) The Effects of Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation Stretching on Post-Exercise Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness in Young Adults. International Journal of Exercise Science. Retrieved on August 23, 2014 from http://digitalcommons.wku.edu/ijes/vol7/iss1/3/

Herbert, RD., de Noronha, M., Kamper, SJ. (2011) Stretching before or after exercise does not reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness. British Journal of Sports Medicine. Retreieve on August 23, 2014 from http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/45/15/1249.short

Jernigan, K. (2013) Problems of Deep Tissue Massage. Retrieved on August 23, 2014 from http://www.livestrong.com/article/92924-problems-deep-tissue-massage/





Aracknophobia

16 08 2014

You may know people with this fear. If you’ve been to a gym where you can’t find the matching pair of dumbbells or you don’t know if someone’s still using the bench, that person probably is aracknophobic. Not to be confused with arachnophobia (spelled with a “k” and not an “h”),  which is the fear of spiders or other arachnids. Aracknophobia* (a.k.a, Iracknophobia) is the fear of re-racking your weights after you use them.

I heard this word used by my coworker, Phil, and immediately thought, “by George, he’s got it!” These people aren’t too weak to put away their weights, since they were able to use them. And when I think about laziness, these people are able to get up off their butts and motivate themselves to exercise so intensely that this couldn’t be the cause. But what if these people can lift the weight but just are too scared to put them back? They might fear that the weight might slip out of their hands because their last set was so intense that they have no more energy to lift that weight.

Luckily there is a cure for this phobia and it’s a technique that psychologist and psychiatrists use with their patients when a real phobia is present. They actually have the person expose themselves to the phobia in a controlled setting. So an arachnophobic person may hold a spider in their hand to witness that it will not hurt them, thereby creating a peaceful image in their minds when thinking about spiders in the future. The same should be done for those suffering from aracknophobia. The next time you see someone with this condition, walk up to them sympathetically (gently patting them on the shoulder as if to console a crying child if needed) and let them know that you will help them out. Hand them the weights that they were using and walk them to the proper rack to replace the weights. Then encourage them that no harm has come to them and that they can start re-racking the weights themselves. Together, let’s make our workout areas a safe and stress-free environment, so that our workout time can be spent exercising and not wasted on finding dumbbells.

*Disclaimer: In case some of you are thinking that there really is a phobia of re-racking weights, please note that there is not.





Mise-en-place

12 08 2014

You never know what you’ll find on NPR when you drive to work in the morning. Today’s segment in Morning Edition was perfect for relating to my own work as well as to my clients goals. (Hear the story by clicking here.) The title of the segment is “For A More Ordered Life, Organize Like A Chef.” It discussed a concept that many chefs adopt known as “mise-en-place” which is French for “put in place.” This is a phrase that they use to keep themselves organized  and focused on the task at hand.

During my work, I’m not only training my clients, but also keeping the members happy, ensuring that the facility is safe and in good working order, communicating with my team, and trouble shooting any problems that may arise. If I’m not adopting the mise-en-place concept, my client will not receive a hundred percent of my focus and will lose out on their paid time with me, which could also prevent them from achieving their workout goals. Therefore, keeping my work organized will allow me to stay focused on the task at hand and not get tied up in too many things at once which would result in a loss in productivity. Another great principle of mise-en-place is “slow down to speed up”. Chef and Owner of Telepan, Bill Telepan, describes this principle: “I always say, ‘Look, I’d rather you take an extra minute or two and slow up service to get it right.’ Because the one minute behind you are now is going to become six minutes behind because we’re going to have to redo the plate.”

An excellent example of how this second principle relates to your fitness goal is to think of a time when you wanted to rush through everything to see results. You go through your workouts quickly expecting to see something all of a sudden or you search to find that easy “pill” that will get you to your goals quicker, only to find yourself back where you were two to three months later. If you take your time to slow down and focus on doing it right the first time, you will reap the rewards of your work when you’re finished. You will also realize that your results stay with you a lot longer and you won’t have to start all over again. In addition to the principle of slowing down to speed up is the prevention of injury if you do things right the first time. Who wants to be laden with an injury, only to find out that you can’t continue exercising towards your goals for another three to six months?

Follow this discipline and you’ll be successful in your fitness goals and in your life. Some chefs go as far as tattooing “mise-en-place” on their body, but I don’t believe you need to go that far. Maybe you can write it in your daily log as a reminder to stay focused on the task at hand. You are keeping a daily log, aren’t you?

Reference:
http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/08/11/338850091/for-a-more-ordered-life-organize-like-a-chef





Catch of the Day

10 08 2014

Fish is a great way to receive  your dietary needs of healthy fats. In addition to Omega-3’s, fish is a great source of protein. Here is an easy recipe I found in “Simple Suppers” by Gina Steer. This was easy to make and it tasted great. One recommendation is to reheat any leftovers in the oven rather than microwave to prevent softening of the pastry border.

Fish Puff Tart – (Cook time: 35 minutes) Fish Puff Tart

Ingredients:
3/4 lb. prepared puff pastry, thawed if frozen
5 oz. fresh cod
5 oz. smoked haddock
1tbsp. pesto sauce
2 tomatoes, sliced
4 oz. goat cheese, sliced
1 large egg, beaten
freshly chopped parsley, to garnish

Prepare:
 1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into an 8 x 10 in. rectangle.
2. Draw a 7 x 9 in. rectangle in the center of the pastry to form a 1 in. border. (Be careful not to cut through the pastry)
3. Lightly cut crisscross patterns in the border of the pastry with a knife.
4. Place the fish on a chopping board, and with a sharp knife, skin the cod and smoked haddock. Cut into thin slices.
5. Spread the pesto evenly over the bottom of the pastry shell with the back of a spoon.
6. Arrange the fish, tomatoes, and cheese in the pastry shell, and brush the pastry with the beaten egg.
7. Bake the tart in the preheated oven for 20-25 min. until the pastry is well risen, puffed, and golden brown. Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve immediately.

 

Reference:
Steer, G. (2011). Simple Suppers. essential recipes; Flame Tree Publishing. p. 48








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