To Your Health
November, 2009 (Vol. 03, Issue 11)
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Maximize Your Workout

By Dr. Perry Nickelston

Are you suffering from exercise advice overload? These days, there's so much information out there it's hard to know where to begin, much less how to maximize your current workouts. One expert says to do this, while another one says to do that. And just when you think you have it down and are making progress, your body adapts to the program you're on, leaving you searching for other options.

Well, search no more. You are about to discover powerful ways for taking your body to the next training level. In order to give you the keys to workout success, I consulted one of the top personal trainers in the industry, Rich Mejias, NASM, ACE, a performance specialist at Edge Fitness in Ramsey, N.J. I approached Rich and told him readers wanted the bare-bones, hard-core truth about maximizing their workouts. Together, we've cut through all the fluff and come up with six ways to safely take your body to the maximum. You may choose any and all of the options listed below depending on your experience level. Just remember, it's about quality of exercise, not quantity. Do it right before you decide to do it more! That means you should talk to your doctor after reading this article so you know how to do each of the example exercises mentioned.

1. Dynamic Warm-Ups

Girl workout with dumb bell - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark How can you expect to get maximum results if you don't establish a base foundation and get your body ready to perform? The purpose of a dynamic warm-up is to prepare your body for your workout. It's value comes from taking your body through all the planes of functional human movement such as bending, twisting and rotating. Example exercises include squat to stand movements (10 reps), lateral lunges (10 reps), and reverse lunges with twist and overhead reach (five reps on each side).

What makes a dynamic warm-up more effective than other pre-workout routines like walking on the treadmill or stretching? According to Rich, "It raises the temperature in the muscles you are about to work and starts the flow of adrenaline. It allows the muscles, joints, and nerves to get ready for specific movements. The key to a good dynamic warm-up is making sure that you don't burn a significant amount of energy that you will need for your workout."

2. Interval Training

Want the best-kept secret when it comes to intense workouts? Studies have shown that about five minutes of high-intensity exercise, consisting of eight rounds of 20 seconds of exercise per round followed by 20 seconds off for recovery, is superior to 60 minutes of continuous cardio. Read that one more time so it sinks in! An important thing to remember when implementing this into your program is to never substitute duration for intensity. When working only a short period of time, you must ensure that your exercise form is perfect on each repetition.

Rich is adamant about doing this training properly. "Interval training is not for a beginner. It can be adjusted so that everyone can benefit from this type of training, but is highly recommended that you work directly with a personal trainer. Here are a couple of ways that you can adjust the program and still receive some of the same benefits: 1) shorter work times; 2) modified work-to- rest ratio (example: 10 sec on and 20 sec off)."

Example exercises include plyometric pushups with plyometric squats (20 seconds between sets), front-squat push-presses (15 seconds on, 15 seconds off), and kettlebell swings (20 seconds on, 20 seconds off).

*Plyometrics: Exercises based on fast, powerful movements, often used to improve performance in a particular sport.