11/18/14

Can Older Women Have a Great Body?

Yes indeed, the older woman can have a fabulous physique that looks smashing in a swimsuit.

I don’t know what the older woman in the photo above does for exercise, but I’ll bet an arm and a leg that she does strength training. Now, the strength training isn’t necessarily with barbells and dumbbells. It could be with tension bands (intense resistance), kettlebells or Pilates equipment. It could be with machines or cable equipment.

It’s not impossible for a great body like this in an older woman to come from hardcore lap-swimming or rock-wall climbing.

However, chances are, this older female model does some pretty serious gym workouts with resistance. An older woman will not naturally have a body like this. No way. Look at those arms. Look at the muscles in her back.

Though it’s not difficult to find older women who can fit into this model’s swimsuit, this isn’t about size. It’s about BODY COMPOSITION. This model has a high degree of muscle mass relative to fat mass, compared to other women in her age group.

Yes, many 50-plusers could fit into that black swimsuit, but the vast majority would have the so-called flappy upper arms, no muscle definition in the back, but instead a soft and doughy looking back; and just an overall unfit, soft, untoned appearance: a “skinny fat” appearance.

The younger a woman is when she begins serious strength training, the greater her potential for achieving the best physique and fitness possible. To achieve a physique such as pictured here, the secret is intensity, not duration.

Thirty minutes of resistance training, four times a week, that induces sweat, heavy breathing to near-breathlessness, and “burning” muscles will produce a body such as the one you see here. Of course, the diet plan must accommodate the training and the goals. If you eat too much, you’ll have the toned, shapely muscles alright—but hidden by a thick layer of fat.

The following exercises are superior fat-burners, muscle-toners and strength-givers:

deadlift, squat, leg press, bench press, kettlebell swing, lat pull-down, seated row, barbell or dumbbell row, pushup, seated dip, pull-up and chin-up.

Though an older woman who’s not well-trained with weights will struggle to perform the pushup, dip, pull-up and chin-up, she can do the deadlift, squat, leg press, bench press, lat pull-down and rows right out of the gate. The deadlift and barbell squat, however, will require patience and practice to nail the form. Squats can also be done holding dumbbells at one’s sides.

An older woman can achieve a great body by doing these exercises (the list is not complete) and using a heavy enough resistance so that more than 8-12 repetitions are not possible. This is a general rule; not all exercises have to be an 8-12 rep maximum. You will not get a fabulous physique using tiny dumbbells. Won’t happen.

Is It Smart for Seniors to Lean Over Stair Stepper Machine?

Are you an older person who hunches way forward, leaning into the stair stepper machine, supporting your body weight with your arms?

Look at the older man in the photo. You don’t have to be a chiropractor to clearly see that this is bad for the back. Look at how his upper back pokes out. Look at his neck, relative to the spinal column. This can’t be good on the shoulders, either.

If a senior aged person’s objective is to improve any component of their body, then leaning over and into the stair stepping machine will not get them to their goal. Though I’m a personal trainer, I don’t even have to draw upon fitness expertise to see what goes on when a person, especially a senior, slumps forward into the stair stepping equipment. Come on, look again at the image.

I see this huge mistake all the time at the gym, and it’s not just seniors committing it. Many people in their 20s and 30s lean into cardio equipment, supporting their body weight on their forearms, butt sticking out. This is very impractical and has no carry-over to real life movement.

When you walk up a flight of stairs, even if your hands are on the rails, your body is erect, for the most part. It certainly isn’t as slumped forward as the man is showing in the photo.

There are several reasons why an older person may want to use a stair stepping machine. One is to improve cardiovascular fitness, in combination with a preference for this type of cardio equipment over a treadmill or stationary bike. Another is to just be fitter and have more energy, which overlaps with the first reason.

Of course, weight loss is a common goal. Other goals include lowering blood pressure and improving glucose metabolism.

Regardless of the reason, leaning into the machine and supporting one’s body weight with the arms is a very inefficient, non-efficacious way to exercise—even if you’re of senior age.

Stand straight on the machine, as you would if you were walking down your street. Just stand straight. If you can’t do the stepping unless you’re leaned into the machine with your butt sticking out and using your arms for support…then you have the steps moving too fast and/or the tension is too rough.

Set the speed slower so that you can stay upright; upright spine, good alignment with your neck to your vertebral column: an erect posture, not a folded-in posture. Reduce the stepping tension. Adjust the machine to a good-postured body, rather than maim your body’s posture to adjust to difficult settings on the machine. Maintaining the best posture possible is of utmost importance to seniors when they do cardio exercise.

11/12/14

Women: Tone Shoulders & Chest with Incline Dumbbell Press

The incline dumbbell press is one of the best ways for women to tone their shoulders and chest.

If you’re a woman who wants to increase the muscle tone of your shoulders and chest, you should include the incline dumbbell press in your workout routine. I’m a certified personal trainer.

How to Do an Incline Dumbbell Press for Chest and Shoulder Toning
It seems that most women at a gym do not do this exercise, but it’s very effective. There is leeway as far as how inclined the bench should be. Some benches have a non-adjustable incline, but most gyms provide only the type of bench that can be adjusted for angle.

I recommend that the angle be between the furthest-back setting and a 45 degree angle. Anything higher than a 45 degree angle will predominantly work the shoulders. That’s fine if you want a very shoulder-dominant exercise with a little chest recruitment thrown in.

But this article is about the incline dumbbell press specifically for shoulder and chest toning.

Grab a pair of dumbbells and have a seat in the pre-adjusted bench. Keep feet flat on floor at all times. Lean back against the support, and push the dumbbells overhead.

This sounds simple enough, but I’ve seen woman, and men, doing this with incomplete range of motion to convince themselves they’re stronger than they actually are; incomplete range of motion allows a woman or man to push heavier weight.

How to Do an Incline Dumbbell Press for Chest and Shoulder Toning: Good Form Matters
Women should choose a weight that’s light enough so that they can bring the dumbbells all the way down to their shoulders at the bottom of the movement, but do not rest them there! Push them back up, straightening the arms but not locking out the elbows. If you can’t bring the weights to the shoulders, they’re too heavy.

How to Do an Incline Dumbbell Press for Chest and Shoulder Toning: Hand Position
Palms can be facing ahead or facing each other. A third option is to hybridize this: Begin with palms facing each other, then rotate them forward; or vice versa.

Finally, to effectively perform an incline dumbbell press to tone chest and shoulder muscles, choose a weight load that makes 12-15 repetitions quite difficult with just one minute of rest in between each set. Do 4-5 sets, twice a week, with two or three days in between sets.

Why Women Should Do Farmer’s Walks

Why don’t more women do farmer’s walks? Though women in strongwomen competitions do farmer’s walks, you’ll rarely, if ever, see a woman performing farmer’s walks at a gym or health club. Why is this?

I’m a certified personal trainer. I don’t even see personal trainers having their female clients doing farmer’s walks, and that’s really strange, because this physical activity is probably the easiest strength training routine out there.

The farmer’s walk is easy because this routine does not require special form, balance or coordination. All you do is walk around carrying weights in both hands, arms straight. How easy is that? No bending or unnatural positioning. There is an exceedingly low risk of injury, and minimal strain on the joints. No jarring, no jumping, no impact.

Farmer’s walks are very safe, and women should do them. The question is simply the amount of weight that should be used.

The weight should be heavy, so that the exercise is difficult right from the beginning. The weights should be heavy enough so that going just 100 feet, or 1-2 minutes nonstop, is strenuous.

Farmer’s walks will strengthen a woman’s shoulders, back and legs. This exercise will translate to daily living, in that carrying luggage will become much easier. So will carrying weighty groceries – the kind of bags that you carry with handles and straight arms. Do farmer’s walks on a regular basis, and carrying anything heavy straight-armed will become significantly easier.

Any kind of weight can be used for this exercise. This means dumbbells, of course. But a woman can also hold onto weight plates. Rubber-coated weight plates have openings that make holding them a lot easier than the non-rubber-coated weight plates.

Kettlebells can also be used. And of course, a woman can use barbells. However, barbells will be cumbersome and require more room and an element of balance. I suggest sticking with the dumbbells, plates or kettlebells.

Start out with lighter weights first. What’s your biceps curling dumbbell weight? Add 10 pounds each side and do a farmer’s walk for two nonstop minutes with this weight. So if you normally curl 20 pound dumbbells for 12 reps max, then do a farmer’s walk with 30 pound dumbbells for a nonstop two minutes.

If this wasn’t that difficult, or if you know you could have gone longer than two minutes, then increase the dumbbell weight. Or use weight plates.

Farmer’s walks will not give women hulking shoulders, even though it will feel that way as you move around with a heavy weight load. It is exceedingly difficult for women to build up their trapezius muscles. Farmer’s walks won’t do much to change a woman’s appearance, but they will sure make a woman a lot stronger.

Why Slow Walking Is Bad for Body Health

Slow walkers may be more relaxed, but find out why this habit is hazardous to one’s health.

Habitual slow walking, regardless of reason, is bad for your health. This doesn’t mean that if you decide to move slowly while walking your new puppy or while sightseeing, that something bad will happen to your body.

What it means is that habitually walking slowly, concurrently with no cardio exercise to offset this bad habit, can shorten lifespan.

This conclusion comes from University of Pittsburgh researchers who analyzed nine studies involving about 35,000 participants 65 years or older.

For each increase in speed of gait of one meter per second, came a correlating 12 percent reduction in risk of death. Translation: Faster walkers live longer.

Subjects who walked slower than 1.36 mph had an increased risk of mortality. Those who walked faster than 2.25 mph lived longer. This is scary news for elderly people as well as younger people who habitually walk slowly.

It’s easy to blame slow walking on advanced age.
But look around you: You’ll see 20-somethings moving like turtles  –  everywhere. Watch crowds of people crossing a street. Most are not senior citizens, yet the crowd crawls, whether there’s five people, 10, 15 or 30.

Even pairs of people lethargically move. How often do you observe even a solitary person briskly walking across a street? It’s a rare sight, even if they’re wearing sneakers.

You’ll find slow walkers all over shopping parking lots  –  ranging from 20-something to 50-something. They become slow moving senior citizens.

In study subjects 70-79, those who couldn’t walk one-fourth a mile were less likely to still be around six years later, and more likely to suffer disease and disability prior to death (Journal of the American Medical Association, 2006).

Another study showed that men 71-93 who could walk two miles a day had 50 percent the risk of heart attack of men who could only cover one quarter mile or less.

Maybe it’s too late for your great grandma to put some spring in her step, but how did she get this way in the first pace? Lack of structured cardio exercise is sure in her history.

It’s not far fetched to expect the next generation of “old elderly” to be able to walk with a perk, being that more and more people in their 70s and 80s are completing long-distance walking and running events!

I’ve been on backcountry hikes exceeding five miles with people over age 70. So certainly, the sooner you make fast walking a habit, even if it’s just going from your car to the store entrance, the more you’ll lengthen lifespan.

Source: http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2011/01/05/study-walk-fast-live-long/