Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My Biggest Issue

This is an old article but it is the kind of advice I see every month in most every women's magazine:


This is a link to what Madonna's personal trainer apparently had her do every session.  It's hard to know where to start on this one but the beginning is usually a good place:

Before you begin, keep in mind Anderson's cornerstone principle: variety. Whatever your routine, keep it as varied as possible, as Anderson believes a stale repetitive routine can actually limit muscle building and toning. If you are constantly working on the same muscles, you will only build in those areas.

Starting with some solid advice!  Variety is key in keeping you interested in your routine.  However, do not underestimate the value of good total-body exercises such as the squat or deadlift as a staple to be included in your routine every week.

On a side note, I hate the word toning.  Toning is a word I see associated only with women's fitness, as if it's something different than from what men do when they work out.  It's not.  Toning involves 2 factors: Muscle growth and fat loss.  To make a muscle appear more 'toned' it needs to 1) be there in the first place, and 2) Not be hidden by fat.

1. With a half hour of your favorite songs on your iPod, hit the treadmill running with one song, skipping with another and sprinting with another. Keep at it for the entire 30 minutes.

The principle that this is somewhat approaching is interval training which is a legitimate and very effective type of training for general calorie burning and increase your anaerobic threshold.  Interval training consists of running (or swimming, cycling, etc) at a low intensity for a period of time followed by a high intensity period.  This is repeated for various amounts of time, though 15 minutes can be pretty grueling going 1 minute low intensity, 1 minute high.  What "high intensity" means varies from person to person.  For an athlete it could mean an all-out sprint or for a beginner it could mean a light jog or fast walk.  

Skipping on a treadmill seems pretty silly and potentially dangerous, though.  Having a good music mix, however, is some solid advice.

2. Now on to toning. For each of the below, start with 10 repetitions and work up to 100. (Yes, 100. No one said it would be easy to look like a movie star!)

....Seriously??  100 repetitions?  Unless you're in a competition for useless wastes of time, 100 repetitions is completely and utterly unnecessary. (Especially when we're only using 3 lb dumbbells)  But, on the other hand, you'll be really good at making a curling (or whatever exercise you're doing) motion 100 times.  In fact, I bet most people could do 100 repetitions of these exercises with 3 pounds right now.  How do you progress from there?  1000 repetitions?  Are we doomed to spend hours upon hours in the gym to keep seeing results?! 

Only 99 more...

How about instead, let's save ourselves 2 hours and just up the weight to something we can only lift 10-15 times?  In fact, lifting heavier will make lifting lighter for 100's of repetitions easier than actually lifting light for 100's of repetitions.  Not that anyone would want to.

3. For those of you who want an even more intense workout, Anderson advocates the fun and intense cardio plus toning workout, namely dance aerobics. Also the subject of her new DVD, "Dance Aerobics" focuses on losing inches by burning fat, but also toning muscles in a fun way. If you are a member at a gym, apply the same methods used in her DVD by simply combining a resistance class with a dance-cardio class.

Oh look, a sales pitch.  Nothing wrong with dance classes at your gym for some cardio, though, as long as you're breathing heavy and building up a sweat!  

4. So you want to build muscle but not look like the Terminator? Anderson suggests working accessory muscles first, avoiding bulking up the large groups. Also, never work out with weights heavier than 3 lbs.
It's taking a lot of self restraint to not go off into a long rant about this particular point; that lifting heavy will make you bulky.  Let's just get it clear:

Lifting heavy weights will not make you look like a bodybuilder.  The Terminator isn't even human.  That was a terrible example.

Sarah Bertram squats 314lbs and Clean and Jerks 240lbs.  

And what's this about avoiding the large muscle groups?  Is the core not a large group of muscles, because she suggests an abdominal exercise.  I'm also pretty sure the glutes and hamstrings are large muscles and some of her other suggested exercises work those as well.  She does have one thing right though, working the stabilizer muscles is very important and one of the reasons I advocate using free weights over machines.  

The suggestion to never work out with anything heavier than 3 lbs is ridiculous, unless you truly can't do an exercise with correct form with more than 3 lbs.  See the bolded point above!

5. Everyday is a good day to workout. Anderson believes 6 days a week, 30 minutes per workout are the perfect numbers. 

I generally agree with the above statement.  30 minutes, however is the minimum amount we should get in a day and not what I would consider the perfect amount.  For a day with weights, 30 minutes probably won't get you through a decent routine with a warm-up thrown in.

Well, that was a long first post!  If you got to this point, congratulations, and thanks for reading this far!

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