How do I get washboard abs? Should I do any specific abdominal exercises?

In order to see your abs, your body fat percentage must be low. Lowering one's bodyfat percentage
comes from proper diet and exercise. You can do all the crunches you want. If your body fat isn't low
enough, you will never see your abs.

I want to tone up my thighs. If I do hip and leg exercises, will my legs get thinner and more toned?

You cannot just lose weight or get toned in a specific area of your body. There is no such thing as
spot-reduction. The whole body is affected. For example, if someone loses weight or size in their thighs,
they will also lose weight or size in the upper portion of their body.

What type of exercise is best for getting in shape? Should I run, take aerobics classes or workout with
weights?

Getting in shape involves many types of exercises. In order for one to achieve total fitness, he or she
must address various areas of fitness: cardiovascular (running, walking, stepping, etc.); muscular
strength and endurance (training with weights to maintain and increase lean body mass and reduce fat
mass); body composition (having body fat percentage measured and monitored), and flexibility
(stretching and staying flexible).

What type of foods should I eat to get in the shape that I want to be in?

You should seek a nutritionist, dietitian or a person experienced in the field of nutrition, to determine
your needs in calorie and portion control in achieving a specific nutritional and fitness status. Guessing,
trying fad diets or starving oneself is a quick way to disaster and abondonment of one's original fitness
goal. Expert nutrition information is available durning initial consultation.

Why can't I look like that person. Why can't I have the muscles or tone that person has?

Every person is genetically different. For example, an exercise, nutritional regimen and calorie level that
works for one person, may not be suitable for another. An exercise routine that may create impressive
results in one person may not achieve the same results the another person. So every person has to be
assessed individually.

How many sets and reps should I do?
How much weight should I use?

The type of fitness goal you are trying to achieve will determine how many sets and reps and how much
weight you should use. For example, If you are trying to achieve a large musculature (body-builder
look), you would keep the weight moderate and do more repetitions and sets. If you were looking win a
powerlifting contest, you would use heavy weight and lower the repetitions and sets. If you were looking
to win a contest of ultimate endurance, you would use very light weights and do a lot of repetitions and
sets. Programs should be specific to the type of fitness goal one is trying to achieve. Specific programs
can be created for you.

How many days a week should I work out?

Many factors determine the frequency of one's workouts: physical status, time availability, proximity to a
gym, etc. You should not be so concerned with the number of days you work out but more concerned
about the effectiveness of each workout.

What is better free weights or machines?

Each one has its pros and cons. The pros for free weights are that they provide greater range of motion,
more closely imitate daily life activities and are less expensive. The cons for free weights are that they
require a more advanced type of person, involve spotters and the risk of injury is greater. The pros in
machines are that machines can be used more effectively by beginners, are safer to use, and can focus
on one specific range of motion. The cons are that they focus on the specific range of motion that they
are designed for and cannot be used for anything else and are generally more expensive. Free weights
and machines should be both used and the exercises should be changed occasionally to promote
growth, stimulate greater gains and minimize staleness.

If I eat fat free foods, will I lose weight and get in the shape that I want to be in?

Fat-free foods are exactly what they state to be, "fat free", not calorie-free nor are they sugar-free. Just
because a food is fat-free, doesn't necessarily mean that it is OK to eat as much of it as you want. The
amount of weight a person loses is dependent on their caloric balance. If you consume more calories
than you expend, you will gain weight. Conversely, if one expends more calories than one consumes, he
or she will lose weight. Some people get caught up on how many fat grams are in a serving and don't
worry about total calories.

I saw one of those machines on an infomercial. If I buy one of them will I be able to achieve the look that
those models have?

The person with the great physique who is advertising the machine, most likely didn't get his physique by
using the machine. Companies which design and sell these machines pay models to advertise the
machine. These companies spend a lot of time trying to appeal to your emotions, by using these very fit
models. Most of these models have trained and dieted extensively to achieve that eye-catching look.
FAQ
                          Fitness Questions and Answers - The Plain Truth
                                              All the facts you've been wanting to know!


Let's try something different this issue. There are a million questions, rumors, statements, and claims about fitness
made to the public each year. It's time to dispel the rumors and become enlightened about the truth behind fitness.
Together, let's become savvy about the news clips, high-pressure fitness salesmen, and late night infomercials that
prey on our pre-dawn minds.

Q: Do those abdominal "track, slide, dolly" type of exercise devices really work your abs well?
A: Yes they do, but you need to know more. This type of movement certainly will refine your abdominal region, yet
you need to do more than just a slide, roll, or glide. Notice that the commercials say that their "Complete System"
yields amazing results. The complete system is often a booklet that should you how to cut fat from your diet and
reminds you that drinking eight glasses of water is healthy.

These types of abdominal devices can be a strain on the lower back if a weakness or injury is present. Also, the
shoulder joint can be stressed. I suggest bending the elbows slightly more than what is shown on TV. The elbows
may also need to be turned in or out a bit to decrease stress on the shoulders. There is one last thing to remember. If
you only do one of these types of abdominal/upper body exercisers as your fitness regime, your body will become
imbalanced over time. Look at the models performing the movements. Everything is done while slightly leaning
forward, focusing on specific areas, and strengthening some muscles more than others. If you supplement this
exercise with a well-rounded exercise program, then it's no problem. If this is your only form of exercise, you will
not be developing core stability (see below).

Q: What do you think about the Total Gym as seen on TV?
A: I personally have never used one. I've been told by a number of individuals that they really enjoy it. As I see it
demonstrated, it appears to be well constructed (always considering the price), and it offers a wide range of
functional exercises for the entire body. Of all the machines I've seen, it seems to be one of the best for the money.

Q: What's the scoop on the 24-48 hour type of diets?
A: They are great when you want to dehydrate your body and feel sick. When it sounds this good, it's too good to be
true. Staying on a diet like this for more than two or three days will also cause you to lose muscle tissue. Fat loss,
unfortunately, must be done at a slower and more methodical rate.

Q: How long will it take to reach my goals?
A: This is dependent on a variety of factors, such as your past exercise history, age, coronary risk factors, time
spent training and intensity of your training regime. Usually, significant "results" can be seen in a matter of weeks
when a properly structured plan is implemented. Please remember that results can mean different things to each
person. When a claim is made about quick results, see what is really being said. Will you feel better? Well, if you
have not been exercising, it's nearly impossible not to feel better with any exercise. Will you lose four inches in your
hips in the first week? This will only be the case if you landed a spot on Survivor or ran a marathon each day for
the week. When you see extremely large amounts of weight loss in a very short period of time, the likely reason is
dehydration. Only when you are lifting weights, doing cardiovascular exercise three or more times a week, and are
on a balanced, yet reduced caloric diet, should you see results appearing half this fast. As the old saying goes,
"Anything worth while takes time!"

Q: What happens if I go over my target zone for fat burning?
A: According to Lucho Crisalle, R.D. of the Sports Club Irvine, you will burn glycogen (blood glucose), which is
fine. The problem, however, is that unless you are a highly trained athlete, you don't have high amounts of
glycogen stored in your muscles cells and other storage areas. In this case, cortisol, one of the hormones secreted
with exercise begins to break down muscle tissue to transform it into glucose so you can continue to
exercise/survive. This process is commonly known as "gluconeogenisis," or the new formation of glucose by
breaking down muscle.

Q: My friend said I should do a triathlon to gain focus and lose weight. How should I select my first endurance
event?
A: I hope you read this column about a month ago. We discussed this very subject. First, the event should be
something that you enjoy. Choose an event that has an attainable distance and one that is logistically practical. Be
certain you have prepared yourself properly. Your focus needs to be on the training and learning about your body
as you prepare for the race. As you improve your fitness through a well-designed plan, you can't help but lose fat
and create a lean, muscular body.

Q: Why should endurance athletes lift weights?
A: When a muscle can generate a greater force (power output), it will better enable the athlete to reach a higher
speed. Weight training also keeps the muscles in an endurance athlete from being depleted by the end of a long
racing season. In addition, weight training creates muscular balance and stability. This keeps the athlete healthy
and helps prevent injuries.

Q: Why are strong abdominal muscles so important?
A: A strong mid-section will help support the lower back (lumbar spine). It also helps transfer strength and power
from the upper body to the lower. In general, the abdominal muscles, lower back, and pelvic region is called the
"core." What you need to strive for is "core stability." When the hip flexor muscles are too tight, it causes
inflexibility and forward pelvic tilt. Weak abdominals and a tight lower back will create an excessive arch in the
lower back known as "sway back" or "hyperlordosis." When an imbalance is present in this area, the result can be
pain, poor energy transfer in sports, and general body discomfort. Over time, the result can be spinal segments that
lip, spur, and even fuse.

Q: How important is massage therapy to an athlete?
A: In one word "VITAL". Massage does the following: reduces stress, decreases recovery time, promotes healing,
increases performance, increases speed, releases toxins and it feels oh, so good! Make sure your massage therapist
known your tolerance for pain, what type of massage you've experienced, and your intended benefit from the
massage.

Q: What is good pain, and what is bad pain?
A: Good pain should feel symmetrical; meaning that both of your arms or legs should feel about the same
sensation. Pain shouldn't be deep within a joint. Good pain should go away with a day or so. Only YOU control
good pain! Bad pain usually in non-symmetrical. One side or portion of your body will hurt much more than
another. Bad pain will last for several days, and may get worse. Often times, it's hard to pinpoint what caused the
bad pain. If bad pain persists, seek the advice of a doctor.

Q: Do orthotics (custom shoe inserts) really help an athlete perform better?
A: Many studies show significant improvement in performance in athletes after receiving orthotics. A Personal
note: I had extreme foot pain while I was training for the Ironman in 1993. I went to my sports chiropractor and
had orthotic molds made. I had a half-marathon course I was practicing on for the race. After one week in the
orthotics, my time improved by over five minutes. Absolutely true!!! P.S. I suggest using the soft leather kind, such
as those made by the company Foot Levelers, Inc. The harder plastic or carbon fiber types may work well for some
individuals as well.

Q: Does chiropractic treatment help sports performance?
A: Every individual is different. I can only tell you of my personal experience. I once dislocated my knee. Let's just
say my knee cap was on the side of my leg. I couldn't move. An ambulance had to take me to the hospital. The
emergency room doctor said I would most likely need surgery. I didn't want to go that route. I laughed (as I cried).
The next day I saw my chiropractor (to the E.R. doctor's dismay).
We began extensive treatment of the knee. This included adjustments, massage and electronic therapy aides. The
next week I rode my bike 200 miles. I've competed in over 100 bicycle races since then and have had little or no
pain. I also use chiropractic as part of my preventative medicine. As I look back, it would have been much wiser to
only ride my bike half that distance, but fortunately it worked out well.

Q: If I'm short on time, what is a good weight training program?
A: This workout should only be done if you have a good fitness base, knowledge of the movements, and no injuries.
Bar dips, pull-ups, push-ups, lunges, squats and abs crunches work virtually every muscle in your body. Try 3-4 sets
of each. You can probably finish in under thirty minutes.

Q: Should I stretch before or after I workout with weights?
A: Both. Prior to any stretching, a general warm-up should take place. A bike, rower, treadmill or stepper is fine.
This is to heat the body's core temperature. Once the core is warm, perform some moderate intensity stretches. Make
certain the entire body is stretched, however, spend a little extra time on the specific area you intend on training
first. After you finish your lifting routine, you body will be very warm and better able to stretch more deeply. This is
the time to gently increase the intensity of your stretching.

Q: If I'm very over weight, should I still lift weights? I don't want to bulk up any more.
A: You absolutely should lift weights. It doesn't need to be your focus, but it needs to be included in your complete
program. In most cases, weight training is not cardiovascular in nature. This means your body will not use fat as a
primary source of energy while lifting weights. However, weight training does make your body better at consuming
calories throughout the day. Because a muscle requires more energy to maintain its structure as compared to fat,
your body must use (burn) more calories to maintain that muscles integrity. Aside from all this, if you don't
maintain or build muscle as you lose weight, you will become what is known as a "thin, fat person." This is a
slightly built person who has no muscle mass.
Some people are worried about the added weight of muscle. It weights about 60% more than fat. So you may not
show as many total pounds lost on the scale, but you'll be much healthier. Most people can't tell your muscle density
just by looking at you, but they can see if you have large hips!


These are the types of questions that fitness professionals are asked on a daily basis. Keep asking questions and
demand the appropriate answer. If the person you ask doesn't know or if you are unsatisfied with the answer you
receive, ask someone else who satisfies your thirst for the true information that effects your quality of life.


Be curious about your body and the way it works. Always be learning new ways to improve your health, fitness, and
wellness. The reason Olympic records fall every four years is because someone dared to ask how can we make this
person better, faster, strong, and more intelligent.
                                                                       
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