Fitness Friday: To Stretch or Not To Stretch

So, I am a runner, spinner, tennis player, and I do strength training, but I never know what the true rule is on “to stretch or not to stretch”. I decide to take this question to a pro. I had a talk with Kirk Kaps, a Certified Athletic Trainer at Champion Sports Medicine, who works daily with professional athletes (and small unknown athletes like me.) He told me this, “In the past, we have always heard that is important for us to make sure we stretch our muscles very well before physical activity. Before this could occur, it was told that we must get a good warm-up in order to get a good stretch for the muscle groups when they are considered “cold” muscles. One recent study, performed in 2011, concluded that if you normally stretch and warm up before running, then by all means, continue that. But, if you’re a runner who doesn’t stretch at all, and still gets in a good warm-up, then continue your routine. In essence, each athlete should continue their own routine, but they should continue to get a 3 to 5 minute warm-up before they start their activity.” I hope this helps when you are stumped with this same question.

You can find this study at: http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20110217/stretch-before-running-new-twist-on-old-debate

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10 Reasons to Start Strength Training

Several years ago, my older sister, Julie, told me I need to start doing strength training. She is eight years older than I and always has good advice. She stressed the importance of this type of workout for strength, osteoporosis, and of course, a great looking figure as you get older. So, I gave it a whirl. When I began, I told my trainer, “Please don’t make me bulky.” He (Jeff Green at Icon Performance) continues to laugh about it to this day. I am so thankful I listened to my sister, so I thought I would share 10 great reasons to start weight training (you will be so glad you did).

1. It really does make you look lean- I can honestly now see real definition in my legs and arms without the bulk.

2. It prevents injury-I am a runner, and I cycle a lot. Strength training keeps my muscles strong to help prevent injury. Before I started weight-training, I used to be constantly sore. Now, I feel great.

3. Increased metabolism-Strength training can boost metabolism up to 15 % more, and it increases your metabolic rate for hours after training.

4. Increased strength and balance-the stronger I have become, the more my muscles work together properly in balance. I can carry my groceries inside with ease, and I see a difference in performance in my other sports.

5. It increases flexibility-By working my muscles though a full range of motion, my flexibility has increased. This really helps ward off back pain that I used to have.

6. Increased posture-Since my muscles have become stronger, I see a difference when I’m sitting and standing.

7. Stress relief-Weight training can really take your mind off stress and problems of the day. If you work out in a group of people, the time really flies by.

8. Increased Energy Levels-I normally leave the gym energized. Strength training elevates your level of endorphins which make you feel great and boost your mood. It is also said to help ward off depression.

9. Burn more calories-Your body burns calories during and after strength training. More calories are used to make muscle than fat.

10. Help fight diseases-Strength training is great to help prevent and fight arthritis, post menopause and even diabetes.

 

“The five S’s of sports training are: stamina, speed, strength, skill, and spirit; but the greatest of these is spirit.” – Ken Doherty

How to Get Lean?

Everyone wants to have a lean body, but how do we achieve it? I did some research to figure out what I am personally doing right and wrong, and here’s what I’ve found. If you have any other tips to offer, please share in the comment area below.

1. Strength Training-Adding strength training to your exercise program will help build lean muscles. Whether you use free weights, machines, body weight, or resistance bands, you will increase lean muscle, reduce body fat and burn more calories efficiently.

2. Eat more protein-Eating protein will help create lean muscle. Create your meals around protein. Identify what protein you are going to have and work your meals around that.

3. Do more yoga-In yoga, muscles are strengthened and elongated so you will not bulk up as much, but get a tone and flexible body.

4. Front-load your carbohydrates-Reduce the number of carbohydrates you eat as the day goes on. Studies show that your body’s ability to metabolize carbs drops as the day goes on, so more can end up stored as fat. My trainer, Jeff Green, from Icon Performance, says “Cut out all carbs after 3 p.m.” Wow is that hard, but if you can do it, you will see a difference.

5. Limit sugar, white flour and alcohol-These foods are quickly digested which causes blood sugar to rise. This stimulates the release of the hormone insulin, which signals your body to stop burning fat (and storing it instead).

6. Eat more frequently and eat smart-Nutritionist and Fitness Expert Sandra Koulourides, of “Fuel Plus Fitness”, suggests eating lean protein, good fat, veggies and fruit. Also, eating more frequent smaller meals with help curb cravings and splurging

7. Drink more water-Staying hydrated with water will help your body stay energized as well as help you cut down on soft drinks and caffeine.

8. Cardio and Interval Training-Do at least 30 minutes of cardio at least 5 days a week and stay consistent. Mix this with interval training, and you’ll rev up your metabolism even more.

9. Get more sleep-Refueling and resting your body often helps muscles rebuild. Get at least 8 hours of sleep (and 9 if possible) and take a day or two off a week.

10. Read labels-Don’t just look at protein and carbs, but take note at fiber, sodium, fat and how much sugar is in what you’re eating.