July 15, 2024

SLOW DOWN your strength training!

Get Fit Quick Tip:

SLOW DOWN your strength training!

To get the most out of your strength training workout, slow down your pace! Complete the exercise at a pace where you’re able to stop the exercise at any point. Controlling the weight is key to overloading your muscles. A slow pace extends the time your muscle is under tension. Try lifting the weight for 2 seconds and lowering the weight for 4 seconds for starters.


*Consult your physician before beginning workout.



Thinking of Quitting? By Nicole Bryan

Ask any exerciser and just about every single one will tell you there have been days where they wanted to quit. Give it all up. Forget healthy living entirely. However, something or someone inspired them to keep going.
You want to quit your workout? Here’s why you shouldn’t:

There will be progress. In fact it’s almost a given or guarantee, if you stick with it long enough that is. Many of your body’s systems are trainable. You will become stronger and more efficient with repeated practice. For example, your cardiovascular system, or your heart. Your heart will become stronger when you make it work through exercise. Physical changes from exercise and healthy eating are both externally and internally based. They are based on human biology and physiology, so if you’re not seeing results do an honest inventory. Are you truly following the guidelines on a daily basis? If so, double-check or fine tune your approach. Maybe what you’re doing isn’t right for you or your body. Consult a Fitness Professional to dial in all aspects of your healthy living schedule. Stick with it long enough and you’ll get where you need to be.

Difficult times will pass. Schedules change, demand on our time change, responsibilities will change. Adjust your healthy choices, but keep at it. Just because it’s hard now, doesn’t mean it will always be that way. Focus on getting what you need from your workout. Your needs will change, and they should change. Why give it all up just because you hit a bump on the road? Don’t.

You won’t ever regret your effort. Plain and simply put, you won’t ever regret healthy choices or a healthy lifestyle. Your workout will always be worth your time and effort. When you have a few more years of healthy living behind you, you’ll never say you wish you didn’t do it.

Personal pride. What about the confidence that comes from setting a goal and accomplishing that goal? There is tremendous personal pride that will come from improving your lifestyle, your body and your overall health.

Makes your life easier. Being in good health makes life easier in many ways. You have energy to complete your tasks. You have strength to lift what you need.

Be an inspiration. You never know who you’ll be inspiring with your dedication and discipline. Chances are you were inspired to live healthy from another person, be that person for someone else. If you can’t do it for yourself when times get tough, do it for someone else until you find your groove again.

You never know where your health will take you. Being healthy opens you up travel, adventure, athletic competitions, community events, making new friends and family fitness endeavors. Be open to expanding your fitness.

So, if you want to quit your healthy living, firstly you are not alone. And secondly, don’t. Find what works for you and keep going. Early, late, long, short, high intensity, low intensity, home, gym. Don’t ever quit. Keep after it.

Manners Matter: Year-Round Gym Etiquette by Sarah Johnson

Yes, this is the time of year when gyms seem to quadruple their memberships overnight. The regulars, the newbies and the ‘resolutioners’ are all back in full force.

So now is as good a time as any for a friendly ‘Gym Etiquette’ reminder.


1. Share. If someone asks if they can work in a set on the machine you’re using, let them. And while waiting, do a set of push-ups or squats! Be efficient!

2. Be patient. When waiting for a user to finish their treadmill run, please don’t hover over them until they step off. Give them a chance to finish their workout, cool down and clean the equipment.

3. Wipe it down! On that note, clean up after yourself. Grab a towel and spray bottle or wipe, and make sure the next person using the equipment doesn’t have to see your sweat as proof of your efforts.

4. Smile. And finally, there will be plenty of brand-new exercisers out there using YOUR machine or standing in YOUR spot in the group ex room. Be friendly and welcoming: smile, show them where the dirty towels go, and remember you were once the newbie too.

Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahJChicago

The Benefits of an Elliptical Trainer by Fred Waters

The Benefits of an Elliptical Trainer for Baby Boomers

It is no coincidence that the popularity of elliptical trainers has grown with the aging of the baby boomer population.  For many in this generation, excessive high impact exercises have limited their activities.  Elliptical trainers are appealing to aging baby boomers for a number of reasons…

Low Impact Workout

As the name implies, an elliptical trainer moves your lower body in an elliptical motion.  Consequently this minimizes impact to your joints.   Moving in an elliptical motion minimizes the pressure on your knees, ankles and lower body.  The action is like running on air.  Elliptical trainers allow individuals with stress and strain injuries to continue to get an intense cardio workout.

Combined Upper and Lower Body Workout

With an elliptical trainer you get a combined upper and lower body workout.  Your arms move in a back and forth motion with the upper handle bars.  And by alternating the resistance between your arms and legs you increase the benefits to both areas of your body.

Variable Workout

With any elliptical trainer you can adjust the resistance.  By varying the resistance you enhance your workout by putting additional strain to your legs and upper body while increasing your cardio exertion. To even further target additional muscles and increase your cardio exertion, most elliptical trainers allow you to incline the motion, making you feel like you are climbing a hill.

Weight Bearing Workout

Weight bearing workouts should be an essential part of any baby boomer’s exercise routine.  This is when the bones work against gravity to support the body, or where they work against other kinds of resistance, as in weight-lifting.  As you push down on the pedals of an elliptical or push and pull the upper handle bars you are getting a double dose of weight bearing resistance.

Fred Waters has worked in the fitness equipment industry for over 17 years and is a recognized authority on fitness machines.  You can learn more about elliptical trainers and get reviews at www.Fitness-Equipment-Source.com.

Fitness Blunders by Nicole Bryan

Slamming the weights, not wiping down the equipment after your use or cutting in one someone else’s superset without asking! These are all etiquette oops-a-daisies in the gym. There are also misconceptions in the science of doing exercise that you’ll see often in the gym. Are you guilty of any of these?

Doing too much too soon. As a basic principle your body’s job is to always adapt to what you’re doing. Your muscles will adapt to the load of your workout by becoming stronger, when the load is appropriately increased in small intervals that is. Performing too many exercises too soon will place harmful stress on muscles, as well as your tendons and ligaments leading to injury.

Using momentum. Another basic principle in the science of exercise is control before load. If you are unable to control the weight you are lifting, it is too heavy. Decrease the weight before causing injury. Control means you should be able to stop the movement at any time during the range of motion. If this is not possible, momentum has taken over in place of your working muscles. Bouncing through exercises is a waste of time and more importantly, will lead to injury.

Doing the same thing all the time. Performing the same exercises for months on end will lead to a plateau. If you perform the same workout, same weight, same order, same exact exercises, your body will no longer be experiencing overload which means your body will cease becoming stronger.

Rushing through your workout. Rushing through your workout will cause your form to suffer, therefore increasing chance of injury. If the duration of your workout is overwhelming, it will be unsustainable. In turn you won’t be consistent. Since consistency is the key to your body changing, if you are hurrying through your workout to get it all in, it’s time to re-evaluate our exercise plan or change your schedule to allow for the extra time in the gym.

Pushing through extreme range of motion. More is not necessarily better in regards to exercise; the same rule applies to range of motion. Moving in a greater range of motion is not always best, because you’ll sacrifice stability. It’s important to stay in the range of motion where the resistance is the greatest on the goal muscle.

Are YOU right for your exercise? By Nicole Bryan

Fads and trends will always come and go. The next latest and greatest quick-fix is just around the corner. Your best friend swears her class is the absolute best way to lose weight. Your boss is adamant that her way is the best way ever! How do you know what’s best for you? Instead of asking yourself if an exercise is right for you, ask are YOU right for the exercise. Here’s how to tell:

What’s your goal? First determine what you’d like to accomplish. If you’d like to run a 5K in a certain time, then your program may be different than if you’re wishing to build strength for your job. Sounds like common sense, but many aren’t aware of what they’re goal is. Determine your goal, and then determine which exercise.

Are you right for your exercise? For example, you’re 2 months out of major back surgery perhaps now is not the time to participate in that karate class where challenging single-stance movements are required. Or you’re just getting back into the swing of your routine after a 20 year sabbatical, maybe now isn’t the time to jump right into a 5 day a week high-intensity circuit class. This point may be summed up in the following question; why do you want to do that particular exercise? Keep in mind this doesn’t mean the certain exercises are bad or impossible; this simply means appropriate exercise/exercise progression is specific to the individual and determined by what one wants to accomplish.

There is a principle called the SAID Principle that reinforces this idea. The SAID Principle stands for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. This principle simply states that our body will adapt to the load under which it is placed. In other words, we should do specifically what we’d like to accomplish. For example if we want to be a runner, then we’ll need to run. If our goal is to increase strength to be able to lift our children easier, then we’ll need to perform strength training exercises. If our goal is to increase flexibility, then performing strength training three days each week while beneficial in general, will not improve flexibility. If our goal is to be able to walk around town with less effort, than performing 100lb power-cleans may not be the most appropriate exercise. This is not to say 100lb power-cleans are a bad exercise, it just depends who wants to do them and why.

Every movement performed in our workout should serve a specific purpose in moving us towards our goal. Enlist the assistance of a Fitness Professional to create a program based on your goals.

Put enthusiasm back in your exercise! By Nicole Bryan

If your workout routine has become boring and you’re body is no longer changing, you may be on a fitness plateau.  A plateau simply means your body has adapted to your current exercise routine.  It is time to shake up your workout and make your body learn something new.

Performing a new exercise means the mind must develop a new muscle/memory pattern.  In other words, a new neurological pathway will give your body a stimulus to adapt to, and therefore you’ll continue to get stronger, more fit, etc.

Try the following ideas to energize your workout routine and break through the plateau.    


Change the order of your exercises.  While we usually work larger muscles to smaller muscles, changing the order of similar muscle groups will be just enough unaccustomed exercise to prompt change again.

Change the angle at which you are working a specific muscle.  Pick an entirely different exercise or machine to work a particular muscle group.

Change the number of sets and repetitions. While the basic number of sets and repetitions is determined by your goal, try supersets or giant sets for a more challenging workout.  Supersets involve exercising opposing muscle groups back to back without a rest period.  Performing giant sets involve choosing three exercises done in a circuit format.

Cross train. Choose a completely different mode of exercise.  For example, join a spin class or try the rowing machine at the gym.

Circuit train.  Alternate one set of a resistance exercise with one minute of cardiovascular work.  Repeat until all exercises/sets are completed.

It is a good idea to change a component of your routine once every six weeks.  You will increase your chance of reaching your goal, and decrease your chance of injury and boredom.

Must Do Moves at the Gym by Sarah Johnson

If you have limited time, space or comfort level at your gym, there is one machine to stick by during your entire workout – and you can strengthen your whole body in just a short amount of time. The cable machine is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment in the gym – with its various attachments, you can strengthen your upper body, lower body, core and even get some cardio work in without trekking all over the facility. Below are a few of my favorite combination exercises you can do using just one side of the cable machine and only two attachments. Moving quickly from one exercise to the next will keep your heart rate elevated and keep rest time to a minimum – you’ll be in and out in 30 minutes or less! (Consult your physician before beginning exercise.)

Need help adjusting the cable height or removing attachments? Gym staff will be happy to help!

Using Single Handle:

Lunge & Row: Place handle at abdomen level. Facing machine, stagger feet into lunge position and grab handle with arm opposite front leg. When lunging down, pull handle back, reaching elbow to wall behind you. Stand and release. Repeat with other arm and leg.

Core Twist & Step Away: Place handle at abdomen level. Facing perpendicular to machine, grasp handle with both hands, keeping arms straight. Step away from machine with leg further from cable, while turning the upper body using your arms. Carefully return leg and arms to starting position. Repeat with other side.

Using Straight Bar:

Press Down & Squat: Place bar above shoulder height. Standing shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, grasp bar with straight arms and bring down to shoulder height. Keeping your back straight and abdominals engaged, press the bar straight down to your thighs, as you sit back into your hips. Slowly return to a standing position and return the arms to shoulder height.

This article is written by Sarah Johnson. Follow Sarah on Twitter via @SarahJChicago