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Monday, March 9, 2009

March, 9 2009 - The Challenge of Female Fat Loss

More evidence is coming out that, while women burn more fat during exercise, they store fat more efficiently at other times. This recent study out of Australia shows a link between the hormone estrogen and fat storage. Basically suggesting that estrogen reduces women's ability to burn as many calories following eating, possibly due to the fact that the body is preparing for a potential pregnancy.....you can read on the study here.

With that said, it essentially means one thing, women have to work out harder and perhaps longer than men in order to reach a healthy and ideal level of body fat. Don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean women can blame hormones for being overweight, that's nonsense.....many other factors influence weight levels, including lifestyle, stress etc. The hormone thing is just one piece of the puzzle.

None of this should be too surprising to anyone who has been in a health club or gym recently.....if you look around, be it men or women, most people there are not working out even close to hard enough. The other week I for the first time ever saw a woman trying to read a hardcover book while doing twisting stability ball crunches. This is amazing as I thought I had seen it all after having worked in many health clubs in the past....just proves that if you think it can't happen it probably is or will happen. Ok, back to the hard work thing....and in no way am I trying to diminish what anyone is doing in the gym. The majority are doing what they know, which is quite often very little, particulary given the woefully inadequate and pathetic levels of training and instruction provided by "trainers" who went through a weekend course and have no idea what they are doing. So you have the blind leading the blind many times. That said, however, people need to push themselves harder than they are. You have to sweat and hurt and feel some discomfort in order to progress. Spending 5 minutes in between sets having a full on conversation is not doing anything for your physical fitness or fat loss for that matter. It's one thing to stay healthy, it's quite another to lose significant body fat. Ask anyone who has done so and they will tell you that doing 30 minutes of walking on a treadmill 5 times a week isn't going to do much of anything in terms of significant results. Once again this entails a lifestyle change that involves prioritizing fitness, committment, and consistency. These are the heavy hitters. I can say this from my experience, clients who are successful have positive attitudes, stick with routines over long periods of time, change their eating and rarely if ever stray for long periods of time. The other factor to keep in mind, and this is huge, if you have high levels of stress losing fat will be almost impossible. This means lack of sleep, crazy work hours, bad relationships (especially with significant others) and a whole host of other things including pharmaceuticals.

So if you aren't getting results, there is a lot to look at and evaluate in your life and usually most people know what they need to get straightened out. The hard part is actually doing it....get help if you can't seem to make yourself change on your own. Someone who will keep you accountable for your action or lack there of. There are numerous options which I'll get into next time....

Monday, March 2, 2009

March 2, 2009 - Higher impact better?

A new study suggests that higher impact activities may help bone density to a greater degree than weight training. Does this mean that you should immediately go out and start running or doing high intensity jumping drills? Absolutely not! However, what it does suggest is that light weight training and low impact activities such as walking do very little to improve or maintain bone density. Based on my experience most people do not do weight training or other exercise at a high enough level of resistance or impact to do any good. Other studies also illustrate that unless you are doing resistance training with weights at 80% or more of your maximum weight you will not build or maintain bone density. This means using a weight that only allows you to do roughly 8 reps. That means if you are using a weight that you could really do 12 reps with and only do 8 you aren't using 80%. This means you have to push yourself to use the proper weight in order to see results. In order to do this effectively you need to have the ability to adjust weights in at least 2.5lb increments with weights under 50lbs and in 5lb increments with weights greater than 50lbs. Yes, doing some higher impact activites such as jumping or jogging etc can be beneficial, but you need to make sure you are able to do them safely (i.e. under the guidance of someone who knows how to assess whether or not those activities are appropriate for you at the current time. Take home message is, even appropriate exercises, using inadequate resistance or impact will do little to ellicit progress, especially if bone density is a goal.
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