I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

This classic line from the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, can also set the stage for how we can have better success in approaching our health and fitness. Here are 5 reasons to recruit your friends to join you in your workouts.

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MOSSA Group Power class

  1. You’re more likely to push yourself. Generally, people find that they challenge themselves more when they are with friends. This includes working at a higher level as well as going longer before needing to take a break.
  2. You’re more likely to show up. When people feel accountable to others, it becomes just a little bit harder to blow off a work out.
  3. You’re more likely to try new things when you’re with a friend. This can help keep you interested in working out. Explore new classes or types of training with friends.
  4. You can share your progress and results. Having someone who understands the work that you’ve put in and appreciates the results you’ve accomplished makes your gains that much sweeter.
  5. You will enjoy the workout more. Whether it’s because misery loves company or just that everything seems better when shared with friends, working out with friends definitely increases the fun value.

Working out with friends can raise the ante in your workouts. With a little help from your friends, you can do more than get by, you can thrive. Find someone to share your workouts with today.

 

Squat Until You Die!

You’ve probably heard from the hardcore exercisers that squatting is one of those basic exercises that everyone should be doing. At the same time, I often hear some in the medical field say, “Oh no. You should avoid squatting. It’s too dangerous.” Let me cut to the chase and say… yes, everyone should be squatting and should continue to squat until you are too weak to get out of bed (which won’t happen until later in life because, well… you’re squatting).

Deep-Squat

I know, that does sound like an outrageous statement, but I believe the controversy lies in the misunderstanding of what a squat really is. Squatting is dropping your center of gravity by flexing (bending) your hips, knees, and ankles and usually involves the hip moving backward and the torso tipping forward (although to what degree depends on the squat variation and differences in body structure). It is something we every day. If you get up and down from a chair (or toilet) you’re squatting.

squat variations

Some squat variations (L-R, T-B): Chair Squat, Goblet Squat, Front Squat, Sumo Squat, Dumbbell Squat, Overhead Squat, Prisoner Squat, One-Legged Bench Squat, Bulgarian Split Squat.

There are many varieties of squats, and while not every variation works for every body, there is at least one that will work for you. You can also make modifications to make squats more accessible to you. Adjusting the weight, from partial body weight (such as assisted body weight squats, i.e. holding on to something.) to adding weight with dumbbells, barbells, etc. is one modification. Adjusting the range of motion is another (start with small, top end range of motion and go deeper as you get stronger).

So, the notion that someone shouldn’t squat because of age, or arthritis, or low bone mineral density, or whatever… is not taking into consideration that we need to be able to do this movement and there are endless ways to begin.

Let me know if you have any questions and, if not, squat away, my friend.

What’s More Important as We Get Older, Cardio or Resistance Training?

A brief history… until “aerobics” broke onto the scene with Kenneth Cooper’s books, Aerobics (1968) and The Aerobics Way (1978), fitness was dominated by resistance training. cooper-aerobicsCooper’s books changed the face of exercise by supplying research showing the health benefits of cardiovascular training. When I was in college in the late 70s, my exercise science professors actually asked me to teach the weight training portion of their courses because none of them had any experience with anything other than aerobics (now commonly termed as cardio).lalanne

As a result of that paradigm shift, most health related research only looked at the benefits of cardio. Since that’s where the research was, cardio was the mode of exercise that was most recommended for health. Thankfully, resistance training has received more attention by researchers in the past couple of decades.

For the sake of this article, I’ll stick to an older definition of cardiovascular exercise as rhythmic, continuous, and maintaining a heart rate of 50-85% of your heart rate reserve (max heart rate – resting heart rate). Some typical cardio activities include walking, running, cycling, swimming, dancing, cross-country skiing, etc. Let’s define resistance training as loading movements with a force with the intent of increasing muscular strength or endurance. This can be with body weight, tubing, machines, free weights, etc. Please note that these definitions are simplistic for the sake of discussion. The truth is that there are many hybrid forms of exercise as well.

There are significant benefits from both of these exercise modalities. Both, in varying degrees, can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, improve lung function, increase insulin sensitivity, improve circulation, relieve stress, improve memory and cognitive function, help control weight, and many other positive health changes. So, which do we choose?

If we are talking about maximum benefits as we age, the best answer is to do some of both. That said, I’m going to say that IF I had to choose one, I would choose resistance training because, if done correctly, it can provide a greater ability to do daily activities. That, to me, speaks to keeping independence and quality of life. quirky_lift_4These activities, squatting down, lifting, carrying, pulling, and pushing, all benefit more from resistance training than traditional cardio training. Resistance training is also better at building/maintaining lean body mass, increasing fat loss, and improving bone mineral density.

Now many people hesitate at the idea of starting a resistance training program. They think that they are too old to be throwing huge weights on their back to squat or on the bench press. I’ve even heard doctors say that their patients shouldn’t squat. That’s a misperception of what resistance training really is. Getting up and down out of a chair (or off a toilet seat) is a squat. It’s a movement we need to be able to do and if getting out of your chair is difficult, that may be what you start with. Try getting out of your chair 6-10 times in a row. That’s resistance training and your body weight is the resistance. Doing repetitions of “chair squats” will strengthen your legs and hips and make getting out of the chair less of a challenge.

So, when you know you should be exercising and are finally ready to do something about it, don’t automatically think that cardio will do it for you. It is definitely good to do, but having the right resistance training program will give you faster and better results in how capable you are in doing your daily activities.