Tag Archives: exercise set

Girl Goes from Scrawny to Muscular in 100 Days

The power of daily practice. Here’s another inspirational video from the Give It 100 (giveit100.com) website. This young woman started with a poor body image feeling week and ashamed of her scrawny body. Watch this time lapse video is see where she is a 100 days later.

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 8.12.39 PM

Ok. The woman is YOUNG, but I’m not and I’ve experienced impressive changes to my strength. If you ask me, I’ll show you my muscles, too! Since Halloween, 2013, when I began a weight/strength training program, my body image has changed. Whether I’m at the ATM at twilight (better not mess with me!), lifting something at home, holding myself upright in better posture, I feel STRONG. This is just from a steady, progressive, weight training program practiced regularly twice a week in addition to my regular cardio or other gym workouts.  You can, too, in just 100 days!

Strength Training, How to Get Started

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Ok, you’re convinced you want to strength train, but need a nudge or ideas to update your gym routine? Begin by identifying WHY you want to get stronger. Do you want to enhance your performance in running, golf, tennis or turn back the clock, and get as fit as you were when you were an elite athlete? How about strength to perform everyday household activities, lifting kids, dancing all night, or taking a long hike with a friend? According to the IDEA Fitness Journal, we lose 5% of muscle mass every decade after 40 and it accelerates after age 65. Strength training can reverse the loss of muscle, help your body move more youthfully, help you stand up straighter, and increase the range of motion in joints. “Most of us can be functionally younger every year for the next five or even ten years”, says Chris Crowley in his and Dr. Lodge’s book, Younger Next Year, a book advocating exercise six days a week for the rest of your life. It is well documented that being strong and fit improves the quality of life as one ages and reduces the chance of chronic diseases and limiting disabilities.

Next, set a GOAL. “Without a goal, you’re going nowhere”, says Jordan D. Metzl, MD, a sports medicine physician at Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, in a video describing his strength training program for an 81-year-old marathoner. Watch this lady get strong!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNVFGKhvOFk  Choose an exercise that you’re unable to perform or an upcoming athletic event and set a safe and reasonable timeline for reaching it. Personally, In December I set a goal for ONE chin up by April 15th.  I’ve wanted to improve my posture and upper body strength, but the goal of a chin-up is a much better visual to motivate my weekly workouts.

STRUCTURE your workout. Have a plan before you enter the gym. Although weight training can be effectively performed in 30 or 40 minutes, allow a least an hour; commit to two times a week for good results and three times a week for fabulous results.

A good strength-building program includes:

  • Foam rolling (5 minutes)
  • Dynamic stretching and cardio warm up (10-15 minutes)
  • 4-8 strength exercises performed in sets (30-40 minutes)
  • Stretching/flexibility exercises (5-10 minutes)FITNESS_SMR

Here’s information on each program segment.

Foam Rolling (5 minutes)

“If you only buy one piece of exercise equipment for the rest of your life, make it a foam roller”, says Dr. Metzl in his book, The Exercise Cure.  Using a foam roller is a form of self-massage that will get your muscles ready to work, help prevent injury, and improve mobility. Five commonly tight muscle  to foam roll before you exercise include quadriceps, adductors, upper back, glutes, and calves. Spend about 30 seconds on each muscle group.

Dynamic Stretching/Cardio Warm Up (10-15 minutes)


3rdtri-warmupwallDynamic stretching at low to moderate intensity gently activates muscles and ideally includes movements similar to what you’ll be performing with weights. The pictured dynamic wall slide warms up for squats and overhead weight lifting. Other examples are walking knee ups, lunges, or an active glute bridge. Add in some balance exercises.

Advancing to more active movements will bring your heart rate up. Try marching/jogging in place, jumping jacks, side shuffles, burpees, step ups (onto a step, the red Step 360 or a Bosu), walking lunges, jump rope, etc.

Strength (Resistance) Training (30 to 40 minutes)

Start simple, not to be confused with easy; your program should be challenging and progressively harder. Textbooks have been written on designing a strength training programs (variables such as repetitions, single sets, supersets, split routines, etc.). The purpose of this article is to get you started with a basic program promised to get results with four exercises. These four exercises are well researched as effective for working major muscle groups, developing core stability, and elements of balance.

Perform 2-3 sets of all four exercises, 12-15 reps each exercise (for the plank begin by holding for a count of 5 or 10 each rep, and repeat). Progress by gradually adding more weight/challenge to each exercise; along the way you can add others for targeted areas. Do these exercises for a month or two and you’ll easily be cranking out push-ups or bench presses that will surprise you.

Cable Row    BLOG_schuler_pull    


Cable Press Cable_Chest_Press



There are science-based progressions for strength building. A sequential training program begins with exercising on a stable surface with moderate weights. During this phase emphasis is on form and corrective exercises. Next, weights are gradually increased. Stability is decreased by executing movements with only one arm or one leg or on unstable surfaces like a foam pad, Step 360, or Bosu. The next level is heavier weights with stable surfaces (bench press with a barbell). Last, the power phase, involves weights and explosive movements. This high intensity training, traditionally used with elite athletes, has proven to be effective with all levels of exercisers according to an article in IDEA Fitness Journal, “Getting Intense with Older Clients”.

Boot camp type classes feature some power phase exercises and you may be fooled into thinking because you can “keep up” in a class you’re strong and have good form. First, we all think we have good form and we rarely look in the mirror enough. Second, we may think we’re performing an exercise properly but often we’re not. Our knees may be stressed in a squat or a lunge, shoulders may be too involved in a row or a push-up. You may not have the full range of motion (not squatting low enough) and you don’t know why. Also, classes aim more for variety rather than systematically strengthening specific body parts progressively so that maximum strength is developed. A progressive strength-building program designed for your particular body will whittle your waistline and build strength efficiently.

Stretching/Flexibility Exercises (5-10 minutes)

End by stretching muscles just worked. In addition, consider chest/shoulder openers to counteract daily “hunch” over computers, movements for back and neck flexibility, and stretches for hip flexors, quadriceps, and calves. hip_flexor_lunge

Initially, for people aiming to step up their workout program, it is advised to begin a daily stretching routine to improve flexibility and increase range of motion. Try it. You’ll be surprised at the tangible results in just a month or two. Watch this time-lapse video, How I Touched My Toes in 41 days, if you don’t believe in the power of daily practice. http://www.jasonbarron.com/how-i-touched-my-toes-in-41-days/

Remember, you have the opportunity to get younger and healthier this year!


This article first appeared as a Body Kinetics blog post (http://bodykineticsmarin.com/blog/)


Metzl, Dr. Jordan, The Exercise Cure: A Doctor’s All-Natural No-Pill Prescription for Better Health & Longer Life,  New York, New York, Rodale, 2013

Metzl, Dr. Jordan, Primary Care Sports Medicine, “Going the Distance: Dr. Jordan Metzl keeps 81-Year-Old Marathoner Elaine Breiger in theRace” , Hospital for Special Surgery, YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNVFGKhvOFk)

Crowley, Chris and Henry S. Lodge, M.D., Younger Next Year, New York, Workman Publishing, 2007

Clark, Michael A., Scott C. Lucett, Brian G. Sutton, NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training, Baltimore, MD, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2012.

McCall, MS,  Pete, “Getting Intense with Older Clients-Research shows that high-intensity training can improve the lives of senior exercisers”, IDEA Fitness Journal, February, 2014: p. 26-28

Photo Credits

Man foam rolling, (http://blog.nasm.org/training-benefits/foam-rolling-applying-the-technique-of-self-myofascial-release/)

Woman-wall slide, (http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/third-trimester-warmup-exercises#)

Woman, Hip-Flexor stretch,         (http://www.stretching-exercises-guide.com/golfing-stretches.html)

Man standing on one leg, (http://www.bocatc.org/blog/category/boc-test-experience/)

Man, cable chest press (http://www.nationalfitnessequipments.com/imageresult.php?exname=Cable%20Chest%20Press)

Woman, cable row (http://www.livestrong.com/blog/never-grow-old/)

Man squatting (https://www.google.com/search?espv=210&es_sm=91&biw=1365&bih=862&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=standing+cable+row&btnG=#q=squat&tbm=isch)

Man doing plank (https://www.google.com/search?espv=210&es_sm=91&biw=1365&bih=862&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=standing+cable+row&btnG#q=seniors+exercise+plank&tbm=isch)

Top 10 reasons to do Weight Training

Top ten reasons to do weight training? Here they are.imgres

10. Add spice to your gym life. Get off those big machines and try mixing it up with exercises that work your whole body synergistically. Weight training has a new face. It’s just not pumping iron. Using your body away from the machines can be more fun and uses balance and functional movements like bending and squatting.
9. Can be done with minimal equipment…a small set of hand weights, a few props and your own body weight.
8. A variety of equipment can be used to change it up. Just one exercise like the row can be performed with hand weights, bands, TRX/Rip 60 straps, cable and stationary machines sitting or standing. Rows can be performed kneeling on a bench, from a plank position, standing in a bent row, or lying over a Swiss ball. Balance and core muscles can be challenged from instability by standing on one leg, rowing single armed, standing on a foam pad, a Bosu, a single leg or in a deep squat.
7. No time for boredom. You only have to do 8-20 repetitions of each exercise then you take a break or move on. Beginners start at a low intensity weight with more reps (12-20) to build endurance and gradually progressive overload is applied where the weight is increased and the reps decreased (8-12) so that the last rep is performed only with effort.
6. Workout plans can be designed in many ways, depending on your training goals, and easily changed as your fitness changes. Two examples to begin with are: vertical loading, performing each exercise set (of 8-20 repetitions, see above) in a circuit style then repeating each exercise set two to three times or horizontal loading, performing each exercise set, two or three times, then moving on to the next exercise.
5. Can be done with just a few exercises. As few as four basic exercises based off the squat, row, chest press, and plank can build overall body strength, core stability and improve balance. (Not counting stretching done before and after each workout.)
4. Gets results. Your body will change visibly. Twice a week great results, three times a week amazing results, add cardio two or three times a week and you are strong and buff (if you are lean enough to see the muscle). Don’t worry, ladies, you won’t bulk up, you’ll firm up.
3. Burns more calories. Muscle burns calories so the more muscle you have the more calories you burn. From Women’s Fitness Magazine, “..the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that women who completed an hour-long strength-training workout burned an average of 100 more calories in the 24 hours afterward than they did when they hadn’t lifted weights.” (April, 2009)
2. Makes you stronger in everyday life. It’s proven to never be too late to start weight training. Being stronger helps you lift and move and carry and bend and squat and reach and do whatever you do and to keep your balance while you’re at it.
1. Fights aging. Really. Mentally, physically Best exercise modality to do so. Science says so.

Read more about the benefits of strength training in this Mayo Clinic article on fitness.

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