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Questions and Answers About Exercise
Q: I have read in a few places that if you work out every day you risk to be sick more often, is this true?
How often you work out and how it affects your immune system largely depends
on your intensity. Exercising does stress the immune system and high
intensity combined with high
Q: I am a woman in my late 50's. I have recently been diagnosed with arthroses in my hip. Do you know of exercises I can do to maintain or increase my mobility? I am limping most of the time now and am in pain much of the time. I am wanting to start a training program, if it will help me, but I find machines very boring. I enjoy cross country skiing and biking. I'd really like to get coaching/training in cross country skiing, as well as exercises to increase my endurance.
Depending on the diagnosis of your hip, activity can help to keep the joint
mobile and active. Combining flexibility, weight training, and
cardiovascular exercise should not only help keep the joint mobile but
should also increase the strength of the muscles surrounding the joint
resulting in less pain. Unfortunately, without knowing more about your
condition and history I unable to give specifics as to what particular
exercise you should perform. However, at first stick to exercises you
find easy and enjoyable to perform. Strength training exercises that
work many muscles together help in lowering the stresses on the joints as
well as making your routines more efficient. You may find that as your
strength increases your stamina or endurance increases as well.
However, cardiovascular exercise performed at a variety of intensities will
help to improve your endurance the most. Receiving instruction in any
one of these areas is recommended in order to help decrease your chance of
your arthritis worsening.
Could explain the
relationship between kJ's and watts in cycling? What is a better
indicator of how hard one has worked? A lot of pro cycling trainers for
training rides are
Q: I work Monday, Wed, and Fridays and I go to Maryland every weekend on our boat, so I only go to the gym on Tuesday and Thursday mornings because that's the only time I can really go. Am I staying fit by only going 2 times a week or should I try to go more maybe after work or something?
Q: I am Physiotherapist and student from Unesp-Botucatu-SP- Brazil. I read article from "Tamaki" and need information about this articles-"A weight-lifting exercise model for inducing hypertrophy in the hindlimb muscles of rats". Do you know the ampers used in rats in vivo? Do you know E-mail of Phd Tamaki?
A: Although I am familiar with the article you are referring to, the reference I used from this article was to illustrate the broad range models used in skeletal muscle hypertrophy and to reinforce the notion that one can not always compare exercise "induced" in animals to voluntary exercise in humans. My emphasis is more on human muscle growth than animal muscle growth (although similar mammalian muscle fibers responds similar in all species), therefore unfortunately I do not know the ampers used in rats in vivo. If you are trying to reach the author of the article (if my memory serves me correctly that was a relatively old study at the time I read it in the late nineties) try contacting the research facility that the article originated from and perhaps they could help you contact the person you are looking for. Sorry I couldn't help you more.
Q: I will be purchasing a stationary bike and I would like to know which between recumbent bikes and upright bikes are more beneficial in working the glutes?
A: You would get more glute activation or muscle use from a recumbent bike than an upright bike. However, it would have little affect on muscle strength and muscle development after several months. Also, in case you were unaware, you would not lose body fat from the glute area any faster than you would from the abdominal, thigh, or any other region of the body when you use a recumbent bike versus an upright bike.
Q: Which would give me better results with my weight training? Increasing the number of exercises per body part, but only working that body part once a week? or Working all body parts twice a week? Are there some body parts that should only be worked once a week?
A: Generally speaking the more often you
can train that muscle group the better. However, you have to make
allowances for recovery based on how many sets and to a certain degree how
many reps you do. The more sets you do the longer it takes to
recover. Building strong muscle is best done with a lower number of
sets (typically 2 - 4 sets per body part) and a lower number of reps
(anywhere from 1 - 6), therefore with the right combination you can train
that muscle group twice a week for best results. All body parts can
be trained twice a week when these factors are taken into consideration
unless you have some major cross-over effect in muscle use from your
exercise selection. In that case because of the extra volume that
muscle is subjected to, it may be wise to train it only once a week.
Also keep in mind the higher in intensity the repetition is (for example 2
- 3 repetitions to failure) the greater strain it puts on connective
tissue and muscle tissue as well. This usually results in a longer
recovery time when compared with lower intensity, higher repetitions. As
far as splitting your body parts, I suppose it may cause an effect but it
would come down to the sequence of the exercises more so than the body
parts chosen. The only thing I will mention is that if you are
looking for arm
I have a few questions...below is the weight plan I do when I work out at
my local Gym. However I usually only get to go to the Gym at the most
2 or 3 times a week. Is this bad where it is a 5 day work out and I
only go 2 or 3 times a week? Should I continue to do this plan or
should I stick to another plan? Is this the right plan for someone
who wants to have good endurance and big muscles?
A: It is not harmful
to your health if you only workout 2-3 times a week on a 5 day routine,
however it would impact your intended progress as you are not following the
program as it was outlined for you. It would be better to have a
routine that fit into your schedule than to have a routine that you have to
fit your schedule to. You can get good results in muscle growth,
strength and cardiovascular performance on a 3 day a week routine. Based on
your description of your routine (assuming you do 3 warm-up sets and 2
challenging work sets carried to technical failure per exercise) on a 5 day
split per week you would expect a maintenance effect on the muscle to a
modest amount of muscle growth after about 4-6 weeks followed by a strong
plateau. You may see continued increases in strength up to the 8 week
Q: I need information regarding protein powders and which one's to get. First I should tell you that I went to the doctor's to find out how to get more energy because I am very tired. I should let you know that I have an almost 18 month old, whom I am still breastfeeding and who wakes up at least three or more times per night. It can range some nights from every half hour to every two and a half hours. I know I am sleep deprived, but that is life at this time for me. So with the breast feeding, night walkings and extra training the doctor has recommended protein powders. I know nothing about these and am hesitant to just go out and buy the first product I see. What are the side effects, complications, good things and bad about this? What foods should I be eating? I am terrible about eating. My diet sucks. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I should tell you that I am training towards a time of 1:40:00. I have only been running for one year this August and want to get more competitive as I gain more of a base for my running. How can I stay on top.
A: As you may know
there are lots and lots of different brands of proteins in equally as many
price ranges. Generally a good protein powder is whey protein powder.
These are supposed to be the most useful and easily absorbed protein
available depending on what you read. You do get protein from soy
protein as well but the theory is you only use about 70% of the protein due
to losses through digestion and other processes. There is milk and egg
proteins as well as beef proteins but these are increasingly rare because
they do not dissolve as well and many do not like the taste or consistency.
You can spend as much as $80 for a whey protein and as little as $35 on one.
Look at how many grams of protein you get per serving and how big the
serving size (for example you may find one that gives 20 grams of protein in
a 50 gram serving size and another that gives 30 grams of protein in a 60
gram serving and both would have a different price) As far as prices go you
should be able to get a good protein powder for about $45 to $55 for your
needs. Very roughly you get what you pay for so experiment.
Protein powders are a food supplement so there aren't any side effects from
the protein as you might get from herbal remedies or pharmaceuticals.
Too much protein can put a strain on your kidneys, especially if you have,
or are prone to, kidney disease. Some low quality protein powders can
cause digestion problems such as bloating, stomach cramps, and diarrhea but
that is usually dose dependent and is more likely in people who have
A: The link that was
mentioned on the show was www.myomaxfitness.com
which is my website which I try to keep updated with current fitness info.
However, you may be more interested in my book "The Weight Trainer's
Exercise Handbook" (http://www.myomaxfitness.com/Handbook/handbook.htm)
as this book has several ball exercises for strengthening various parts of
the body plus over 200 weight training exercises as well. The nice
thing about the ball is that it can double as a bench making it much more
versatile. For example, you can do chest exercises using the ball as a
bench. In this situation, your core trunk muscles have to work to help
stabilize the body therefore making the movement work more than just a few
muscle groups. You would want to train your whole body and not neglect any
muscle groups to avoid any muscle imbalances. Make sure you also
include exercises that work the hip extensors (glutes, hamstrings) and
calves as well as the front of the thighs. In addition, core strength
is also important (abdominal,
A: I am glad you are
exercising consistently. To give you some suggestions for your
cardio... if you are going to go for 45 minutes or more you can break up
your session into 20 minutes on one machine and 25 minutes on another.
Ideally it is best to do your cardio all on the same machine, however if you
find it unpleasant (i.e. boring) you can also get good results be splitting
up the time spent doing cardio. The exception being if you are doing
30 minutes or less in total time as you would only get better results going
for a minimum of 20 minutes or more on one machine. Other types of
exercise people find enjoyable are walking, cross-country skiing, or
biking (weather dependent of course!) outside once or twice a week or other
cardiovascular exercises such as biking or rowing.
Q: My fitness competition is in about 2 weeks (of course, I'm starting to panic). I'm wondering how I should best taper my training...everything I've read suggests dropping the weights and doing higher reps (upwards of 20 - 30 +)... do you agree with this principle, or should I stick with my 8 - 12 reps, as heavy as I can training? Also, the competition is sanctioned by the Ontario Physique Association: are they against glycerol, and what are your thoughts on glycerol supplementation before a show? Help help help help...
speaking, your biggest concern is water retention (depending on how you want
I am not familiar if
the OPA is against glycerol, I would imagine they would have difficulty
testing for glycerol anyways since it is a fluctuating energy metabolite
that reflects the breakdown of triglyceride use. Perhaps if one had
very high levels above a given standard they could do a comparison test but
they would need to do a blood test which I don't believe they do.
Contact the Ontario Physique Association through your regional
representative to make sure. From what I understand of the role of
glycerol, if you boost your blood glycerol level before a show I suppose it
would dehydrate you to some degree and therefore help you hold less water.
Also you can metabolize glycerol into glucose to help replenish your
A: One option is to
try the rowing machine. Usually you don't use your ankles, nor do you
Q: I'm male, 50, 5"6", 240lbs big boned. My best weight was 170. 185 wasn't too bad, but now I'm out of control. If I'm bored or stressed I seem to eat sandwiches - I love bread. Seem to gain 5-8 lbs per year - don't exercise - never did like it, but was always active. Always had a good appetite. I have arthritic knees, been getting progressively worse since late 30's. Joint problem with left big toe. Can't flex it up, hurts to push off that foot etc. Started getting a little sciatica pain last four months. Because of this, I am progressively less active = more weight = more difficult to participate in activity = more weight ! Suggestions? I live in Kanata - Is the YMCA at Corel Centre an option? Do they have instructors there that know what the are talking about? I ride a stationary bike and do ab exercises? I can't run /jog and even when I was somewhat fit, could swim more than 1-2 laps in a pool. I know someone who was in good shape 30 years ago, joined some fitness place, was told to do sit-ups on an elevated board, hurt their back and has been paying for it ever since.
A: Losing weight can sometimes be one of the greatest challenges in life. Your situation seems to be compounded by injuries as well the problem of continuing to gain excess weight. Many people lament the use of excess carbohydrates as a major problem in fat gain. There is much evidence to suggest the high amounts of carbohydrates results in excess caloric consumption as well as elevated insulin levels (insulin can contribute to increased fat cell size). However, there is also evidence to show that excess fat consumption results in fat gain. I haven't seen many studies on excess protein consumption and fat gain, possibly because it can be difficult (not too mention unhealthy) to consume large amounts of only protein to result in excess caloric consumption. In addition, protein digestion and metabolism operates through a different mechanism than the previous two macronutrients. The point is that excess anything can result in fat gain (this is fairly evident and common knowledge!). Removing the carbohydrate rich foods like breads, pastas, pastries, rice, etc and eliminating high fat foods results in less total caloric consumption = caloric debt = energy has to come from somewhere = fat is burned for energy. However depending on how much you reduce your calories and the resultant effects on your protein intake, you can also burn lean body mass (organ tissue, muscle tissue, etc) which reduces your body's energy metabolism. Exercise (particularly weight training) helps to slowdown or halt this effect and sometimes reverse it by helping maintain or build up your muscle and organ proteins.
There are several
places you might want to check out if you live in Kanata. There is, as
you mentioned, the YMCA at the Corel Centre. As you probably know the
YMCA is a non-profit organization and operates partially out of the support
of many volunteers. I would hope their fitness instructors know what
they are talking about as the YMCA offers a course to certify theirs and
other instructors and personal trainers. As in any fitness
establishment there are very good instructors and trainers and there are
others who need more professional development. I do personally know
some instructors that work at Y's across the region who are very
knowledgeable. Other places you might consider looking into are the
Thunderbird Golf and Athletic Club, The Canadian Health and Squash Club, and
the Kanata Leisure
A: Human muscle cells function through several different metabolic pathways. All fiber types, regardless of whether they are primarily slow twitch muscle fibers (type I muscle cells that mainly use oxygen for the majority of their energy production) or primarily fast twitch fibers (type IIb muscle cells that mainly burn glucose for energy production), all have at least a bit of the necessary enzymes to function aerobically (with oxygen) or anaerobically (without oxygen). If a muscle cell was to have its oxygen supply completely cut off by eliminating blood flow (death would be a good example) the muscle cells would at first use its phosphagen stores until that energy source hit a critical level at which point glycolysis (the burning of glucose or sugar) would begin. Glycolysis produces several waste products one of which results in lactic acid. Lactic acid lowers the pH level of the muscle cell impairing certain metabolic processes. It has been suggested that high lactic acid levels inhibit a rate-limiting enzyme within the glycolytic cycle called phospho-fructo-kinase. Such an inhibition can decrease the productivitiy of glycolysis resulting in less energy production. Irrespective of this fact, eventually the muscle cell's own source of glucose (glycogen) would become depleted halting glycolysis and it's energy production. Without any other source of regeneration of the glycogen stores or the phosphagen stores the muscle cells stop producing energy and die.
Q: Since your workshop, which I incidently thought was excellent, I have tried out some of your ideas with clients wanting to put on some muscle mass. One of the participants at one of the gyms where I train had a few questions which I found most interesting and so I'm asking you for your opinion. He is a 55 yr old male who has been training consistently for over 30 yrs. When he was around 35 yrs of age, he was at his leanest and largest. He cycled hard twice a week and continued to weight train. He has never stopped weight training but has noticed he continues to lose his size he once had. He always challenges his body so he hasn't stayed with the same weight or the same exercises. His question to me is; if I trained him according to your formula, can he rebuild the bulk he once had? I think he can but not to the extent he was due to his ageing body even though he is very healthy, fit and eats well.
A: Can he rebuild the bulk he once had at age 35 now that he is 55? That is an excellent question... and one that is also a very difficult one to predict. Part of the answer depends on how much "bulk" he had when he was 35. There is lots of research that show that untrained males in their 50's can increase muscle mass significantly. Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot of research (that I have found) on trained males in their 50's relating their training routines to concurrent gains in muscle mass.
There are certain cellular and hormonal effects that can interfere with muscle growth once males pass 40 years of age. Hormonally, there is a significant drop in testerone levels (which really only contribute a small portion to the whole muscle growth process in the long run) and growth hormone levels (which can consequently have a potential lowering affect on endogenous and locally stored growth factors that help increase protein synthesis). Speaking on a cellular level, there is also a drop in the population of numbers of satellite cells (SC) which carry mostly DNA and appear to be the real keys for rapid muscle growth. The drop in SC's are possibly as a result of the fact that there may bea limit to the number of satellite cells the muscle cells can produce in a lifetime. Production rate is also controlled by growth factors as well. With lower growth factor release and production combined with the fact that there is also a possible limit to SC production in a lifetime, you can run into a situation where you have less DNA in order to generate all the necessary protein's required for the muscle to function. The muscle cell will make sure all of its essential organelles and structures are taken care of before it begins to worry about increasing net protein content. If there is enough DNA left over then the fiber will get bigger, if not it will not grow as large. The bitter irony of it all is those that have been exercising (weight training in this case) for long periods of time will more than likely have even lower SC numbers due to the high use of them of the years.
With the Phase Training that is outlined in the Science of Muscle Growth Specialist Course there are distinct phases where you take advantage of the state of the muscle fibers and then try to get them to grow as much as you can until you have to "reset" the muscle cells. Unfortunately, a good percentage of trained males over 40 years of age do not seem to respond nearly as well as those under 40 to this type of training system. For example, if a younger male would gain 15 pounds by the end of the 4 stages, an older individual might gain 5 - 8. Particularly noticeable is that they do not get as big of a "rebound" effect when starting the cycle over again. This is more than likely probably due to the physiology I outlined in the above paragraph. If he does not respond from the full 4 phases you might consider dropping phase V and extending phase III a few more weeks and then starting back at the beginning. I say this without knowing how he has been training for the past year or knowing his current fitness level and history.
More mature weight trainers also have to be a bit more vigilant on the nutrition, sleep, and stress levels on order to optimize growth as well. Since at this point they would now be growing more through indirect growth stimuli than direct route and process growth stimuli triggers. In the end would he be able to get as big as he was when he was 35? Providing he did not have enormous amounts of muscle mass when he was younger (i.e. 20 inch arms) and he has not lost substantial amounts of muscle mass (i.e. 14 inch arms) there is a good possibility he could regain muscle mass over the next couple of years possible totaling an increase of 15 - 20 pounds over the next couple of years. Ageing and its quantitative effect on muscle growth is an interesting topic and hopefully is the subject of many current research projects!
Q: I have read from several sources that lifting a low weight a high number of times causes both mitochondria division and vascularization. Is there any hard evidence to back these claims up?
A: I searched through my own database of articles
and did a quick search through Medline as well. I did manage to locate
several articles on the relationship between strength training and mitochondrial
density. Typically in "standard weight training" exercise (anywhere with
repetition ranges from 6 to 15 repetitions per set) there is a decrease in
mitochondrial density which refers to an increase in muscle fiber mass with
limited increases, no change, or decreases in mitochondrial numbers. This
results in the same or less number of mitochrondria to support a larger muscle
A: Although a football camp would condition the body like you mentioned (mainly aerobically and anaerobically since typical camps involve a lot of sprints, drills, and running) but I would doubt it would significantly improve his hockey skills. As you are probably aware in order to get better at a skill, it is necessary to practice that particular skill (be it skating, stick handling, etc). However, taking up a different sport that is quite a bit different from your main sport is not necessarily a bad idea. It allows a psychological break and also give a little bit of cross training which is never considered a bad thing when done at the proper time. This can help prevent burn out in the long run and gives the athlete a greater repertoire of various sports.
Q: I am interested in the field of dietetics and more specifically in the interest of sports nutrition and training. I hope that you might be able to help me find places that will offer information about the types of careers available and the education necessary. I already intend to complete a doctorate in this field but I need some guidance now in order to choose the right path to reach my goal. Any assistance you can offer would be greatly appreciated.
A: The area of sports nutrition is a broad area professionally. This is
partly due to the fact that many people will have very varied opinions and there
is a lot of nutritional information that is not based on scientific research.
The other problem is that there is no strong governing body for nutritionists in
Canada. There is one for registered dieticians, but not for nutritionists. I am
aware of universities and colleges offering courses in nutrition and food
sciences and I believe that the University of Guelph in Ontario is one such
institution. The place to find the where you can study to learn more about
nutrition would be to go to the school library reference desk and search out the
most recent information on courses offered at other universities or colleges. If
you are at university currently there should be wealth off information at
Student Services as well. If not, you can always check the local high school or
the local library as well. Of course, you could always search on the Internet
but I would imagine finding something as concise as a reference book unlikely.
Good luck with your new career!
Q: I do a lot of running, and I am trying to get my legs to look thinner. However, my upper leg muscles stick out. Obviously, I do not know what I am talking about, because I cannot even tell you the name of that muscle, so bear with me as I try to explain my problem. The fronts of my upper legs curve out as opposed to the model-like straight, stick legs. Is there any exercise that can flatten this muscle? Please help!
A: You did not mention if you were doing any sort of weight training
on top of your running so I will assume that you do not. The reason why your
upper leg muscles stick out could be due to a number of factors. If your leg
muscles were always that shape it is possible that your genetics are responsible
for the shape of you legs, however you do still have quite a bit of control over
them. As your muscles exercise, they respond by changing the structure of the
cells in your muscles. The cells do this by increasing the protein content
within the muscle, the energy stores that are stored within the cells, and the
tiny organs within the cell that keep the muscle cells alive. What you are
communicating in your question is how do you get your legs to shrink to take on
a more flatter, thinner appearance. The first step is to decrease body fat
levels, as body fat is stored on the legs and can add to that "bulky look". As
is evident, females tend to store more body fat on their legs than males and
therefore many believe their leg muscles are too big, when in fact the body fat
on their legs is creating that illusion. You did not specify if you were male or
female so I am not sure if that is your specific problem. If your body fat is
already low, you can try some other approaches.
Lactic acid levels are mainly controlled by the enzymes within the muscles
that break down the lactate molecules creating other energy molecules can then
be used where needed. Heavy breathing can also lower lactic acid levels as part
of the way the body deals with lactate in the blood is by breaking it down into
A: What you are describing is a fairly common
problem. One option is to exercise before you go to work and get the
workout out of the way. However, since you wake up at 5:45 AM it may be
difficult to wake up 45 mins to an hour earlier. If you do manage to get
into this routine, it pays off in the end. Typically at the end of the
workout you will feel more energized and not as tired as you may think. On
top of that you might burn a bit more body fat as well, due to the fact that
your body's energy stores are lower in the morning than the
Q: My question is which
exercise burns the fat? I had always believed that you needed to work out at
a certain intensity to burn the fat, now I have read that you should not work
out hard. So I am totally confused. I walk about 40 minutes a day at 4 miles an
hour. I am trying to lose weight and am on a low fat diet. I would greatly
appreciate it if you could clarify this for me.
A: Thanks for your question, it is actually a frequently asked question among fitness enthusiasts. Your body burns fat for immediate fuel at certain percentages for various intensities. For example, at rest you can be burning 60 calories an hour and 45 of those calories (or 75%) of those could be coming from the fat stored in your body. When you go for a brisk walk you might be burning 300 calories per hour and 195 calories or 65% of those calories might be coming from fat. To carry this furthur, maybe you are biking at a moderate pace and you are now burning 500 calories per hour and 150 calories or 30% are coming from fat.
Why are you now burning less calories from fat at a faster pace? What happened was that since you are going at a higher intensity and considering burning fat with oxygen takes some time metabolically, your body must burn sugars to take up the energy debt. Burning sugar takes very little time to provide the rest of the energy compared to having to burn fat. As you may have guessed, when you go at very high intensity (or at a pace that requires your anaerobic system to provide energy) the energy demand is so great that your body can not burn fat efficiently and in enough time and it therefore it must burn sugar to make up the deficit and provide the energy.
Therefore many people believe that exercising aerobically at a moderately low intensity will result in the majority of the calories you are burning will come from fat. This is true. However, what many people fail to consider is that although working at a very high intensity does not result in a substantial amount of fat being burned immediately to fuel the exercise, it does increase your metabolic rate after the exercise greater than if you were exercising at a moderately slow pace. In fact, generally following 2 hours after you stop exercising at a high intensity or after a moderately low intensity you have burnt the same amount of calories from fat! This is due to the fact that you continue to burn more fat at rest following high intensity at a greater rate than doing a lower intensity exercise. Confused? Most exercise scientists are still arguing over the fastest most efficient way to burn body fat.
Whether or not to do high intensity anaerobic exercise or moderate aerobic intensity depends on several facts such as exercise history, training status, time constraints, fitness level, motivation, reasons for exercising, and health status to name a few. Unfortunately, the fitness industry is full of individuals who espouse "the best way" to exercise to accomplish a certain goal. There are definetely better ways than others, however proving "the best way" is inheritantly difficult when considering the multiple pathways your body can use fat as a fuel.
Q: I am interested in gaining weight. I am 5'8" and weigh 120 lbs. I would like to concentrate on certain areas; such as the hips and legs. I would like to know what exercises I can do and what type of weight training I need to do.
A: When you say you are interested in gaining weight I am assuming
that you would like the weight to be muscle and not fat. I will also
assume that you have not trained with weights before either, as your past
I'm a hardworking bodybuilder from Sweden and I saw your site on the internet.
(very good information) and I got a little curious about that Bulgarian
bodybuilding system by Leo Costa jr. I was wondering if you know where I
can get some more information about that.
A:Unfortunately I do not have any info on the Bulgarian
bodybuilding system. I believe it hit the peak of its popularity about 7 or 8
years ago and then faded away. There used to be an ad for the system in
old issues of
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