Exercise the other half of the energy equation
Diet and Exercise Goal
Desired Outcome: A lean, strong, attractive and flexible body with the endurance to perform all of our favorite activities.
Desired Means: Delicious and interesting food with sufficient variety. Flexibility to “cheat”, eat out, or at parties without a problem. An exercise program that does not take too much time and that is enjoyable. What we do must be sustainable for life. We are not interested in a short term fix.
Diet is 80% of the solution Exercise is the other 20%
In our previous podcasts we have stated that diet is 80% of the solution. We believe this because without a successful approach to eating we are fat, we have low energy, we are prone to inflammation and we will not enjoy the full benefits of exercise. This is true because excess weight is hard on the joints when exercising and it makes us more injury prone. Nutrition is also important for successful recovery from exercise and nutrition lays a foundation for increased muscle mass and strength.
Having said that, we cannot expect to have the leanness, strength, attractiveness and flexibility stated in the goal without activities that create and sustain these conditions.
Remember your “Owners Manual” is based on your goals. The approach to exercise we will describe is one that has helped us to successfully attain and sustain our goal.
Disclaimer: We are not doctors or any other kind of health professional. Your ability to exercise without harm should be guided by your trusted health professionals. This is especially true if you have any medical condition that needs to be accounted for in designing a fitness program.
We have both been certified as fitness instructors and Suz taught exercise classes for eight years. We have also read extensively on the subject and we have exercised regularly for over 30 years.
First Principle, The best exercise is the one you will do
With the exception of the occasional masochist, people do not do something they despise with regularity for year and years. To sustain motivation, exercise must be either intrinsically pleasurable or there must be a way to add enjoyment to something that is otherwise mind numbingly boring. The third option is to turn something you have to do anyway into a workout.
Activities that are intrinsically pleasurable
The list in this category is very much a case of personal preference. What we enjoy, you might hate and vice versa. Our favorites are:
Golf, which is not much exercise unless you walk the course but it is not sitting in a lounge chair either.
Tennis, Ter wears a computer that calculates distance travelled and calories burned. In two hours of doubles tennis the computer calculates that he runs about three and a half miles and burns about 500 calories.
Bicycling on a bike path in a pretty part of the world. This kind of cycling allows sightseeing and a great workout to co-exist.
Kayaking is something we came to love when we lived on our boat. The kayak was for us a water borne bicycle.
Walking or hiking again in beautiful surroundings.
Activities that lend themselves to the addition of enjoyment from other sources.
Visits to a gym are much more likely to occur if you have friends you go with or meet there. Studies have shown that the social aspect of going to a gym is the most important reason people continue to go.
Reading or watching TV while on stationary exercise equipment, Elliptical, rowing, spin bikes, treadmills etc. can be made into a source of personal enjoyment time when you get to watch your favorite TV show or you get to read a book, magazine, kindle or Ipad.
Exercise classes with music and a motivating instructor can be a fun time if the instructor and music are good.
Resistance training with body weight, free weights or machines does not readily lend itself to reading or TV watching. These activities usually involve people watching, social time with a workout buddy or Ter’s favorite listening to podcasts and books from Audible.
Life Activities as Workouts
If you work in a building with elevators, start using the stairs instead. When you park your car, find a spot farther away rather than close in. Walk instead of driving whenever possible. Consider riding a bike to work. Millions of people do and they save gas, car expenses, reduce traffic and save the environment in the process. Examine your life for opportunities to turn off labor saving devices and use labor creating devices.
No matter how well intentioned you are, inconvenience can lead to excuses and excuses can lead to an abandoned exercise program. ( Story of the YMCA in La Crescenta).
Finding the Time
We will cover time management principles in a future podcast but the truth is that you have all the time there is. It is all about how you are allocating it. Fitness does not take a lot of time. Carving out a consistent time slot for exercise is essential.
Our Goal Requires a variety of activities
Variety keeps things form getting boring
Variety stresses different joints and muscles so recovery can occur before the next insult.
Different activities produce different benefits. We believe we need:
- Resistance training to build and preserve muscle mass and strength.
- Cardio to burn calories and build endurance.
- Yoga or other stretches and full range of motion activities to improve range of motion and maintain joint health and relaxation.
In this podcast we will cover resistance training. In our next podcast we will cover cardio and stretching.
Benefits of resistance training:
- Builds lean muscle mass
- Preserves lean muscle mass when dieting
- Increases strength
- Shapes and contours the body
- Burns fat and glycogen
- Improves insulin sensitivity both short and long term
Your choices are to work against body weight, use free weights or to use a machine that provides resistance.
Machines are easier to maintain form but they do not recruit as many muscles as free weights. Free weights require prime movers and stabilizing muscles. Machines concentrate almost exclusively on prime movers. Machines can also deliver linear resistance through the range of motion. Some machines preclude cheating. We prefer the safety and convenience of machines but we also use dumbells for some targeted training.
Basic Points to remember:
- You need a well-designed routine. Consider a personal trainer to at least get you started properly.
- Proper form is essential. Bad form is dangerous and a waste of time
- Exercise stresses muscles, recovery builds them. You need time between workouts for recovery to occur. Do not over-train!
- Sound nutrition is essential to recovery and muscle development. Exercising while dieting preserves muscle. It is difficult to build muscle while dieting.
- The amount of force you generate is determined by the number of muscle fibers you recruit. The trick is to recruit as many as possible and to fatigue them to failure in 10-12 reps.
- Your success with muscle building is highly influenced by genetics and hormones. As we age we produce less and less growth hormone, testosterone and estrogen to name a few hormones that have a lot to do with muscle development.
- Adding muscle is a slow process. While fat can be added quickly and easily, muscle is difficult and slow. Each additional pound of muscle burns 37 calories a day. Ten pounds of muscle adds 370 calories a day to your food budget. It might take a year of resistance training to gain ten pounds of muscle.
- Muscle is a use it or lose it proposition. The average adult in the U.S. decreases their muscle mass by a half pound a year. Metabolism is composed or anabolic processes and catabolic processes. When anabolism exceeds catabolism we add muscle when the reverse is true we lose it.
We prefer to use the Bowflex Revolution Home Gym 20-30 minutes 3X a week. Industrial strength, professional Gym quality, smooth resistance easy to change exercises. The Bowflex comes with a manual and a DVD. You will at least need a buddy to check your form against the DVD and manual.
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Scientists at Rutgers University led by Ilya Raskin have shown that, in laboratory tests, chemicals in spinach, phytoecdysteroids, do help to build muscles, speeding up the body’s conversion of protein into muscle mass.
Book of the week: The Bowflex Body Plan.
If you prefer the Kindle edition click here
Tool of the week: Bowflex Revolution Home Gym
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