Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sprinter or Distance Runner...What Do You Relate To??

Are you a better sprinter or distance runner?  Many people believe that having more fast or slow twitch muscle fibers may determine what sports athletes excel at and how they respond to training.

Let's have a brief anatomy lesson so you understand what muscle fibers are all about.  Skeletal muscle is made up of bundles of individual muscle fibers called myocytes. Each myocyte contains many myofibrils, which are strands of proteins (actin and myosin) that can grab on to each other and pull.  This shortens the muscle and causes muscle contraction. It is generally accepted that muscle fiber types can be broken down into two main types: slow twitch (Type I) muscle fibers and fast twitch (Type II) muscle fibers.  Fast twitch fibers can be further categorized into Type IIa and Type IIb fibers. 

These distinctions seem to influence how muscles respond to training and physical activity, and each fiber type is unique in its ability to contract in a certain way.  Human muscles contain a genetically determined mixture of both slow and fast fiber types.  On average, we have about 50 percent slow twitch and 50 percent fast twitch fibers in most of the muscles used for movement. 

Let's break down each type of muscle fiber so you get a better understanding of what we are talking about.

Slow Twitch (Type I)

The slow muscles are more efficient at using oxygen to generate more fuel (known as ATP) for continuous, extended muscle contractions over a long time.  They fire more slowly than fast twitch fibers and can go for a long time before they fatigue.  Therefore, slow twitch fibers are great at helping athletes run marathons and bicycle for hours. 

Fast Twitch (Type II)

Because fast twitch fibers use anaerobic metabolism (e.g., metabolism in the absence of oxygen) to create fuel, they are much better at generating short bursts of strength or speed than slow muscles.  However, they fatigue more quickly.  Fast twitch fibers generally produce the same amount of force per contraction as slow muscles, but they get their name because they are able to fire more rapidly.  Having more fast twitch fibers can be an asset to a sprinter since she needs to quickly generate a lot of force.  

Type IIa Fibers

These fast twitch muscle fibers are also known as intermediate fast-twitch fibers. They can use both aerobic and anaerobic metabolism almost equally to create energy.  In this way, they are a combination of Type I and Type II muscle fibers.

Type IIb Fibers

These fast twitch fibers use anaerobic metabolism to create energy and are the "classic" fast twitch muscle fibers that excel at producing quick, powerful bursts of speed.  This muscle fiber has the highest rate of contraction (rapid firing) of all the muscle fiber types, but it also has a much faster rate of fatigue and can't last as long before it needs rest.

So, with that being said, are you a sprinter or a distance runner (even if in theory)?  Take a look at the different body types in various sports and you'll begin to understand the difference in muscle fibers.  And that, our friends, is your anatomy lesson for the day!!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fall Back Into Fitness

Well, here in Kentucky, fall weather came a little early this year.  Even though it's the middle of August, we are having "October-like" weather.  Kids have gone back to school.  Summer is closing down.  Have you neglected your fitness goals/endeavors this summer?  If so, maybe it's time to "fall" back into your routine.  Don't feel like it's too late or you've wasted too much time...jump back in and you'll be feeling better in no time.

So where do you begin?  Check with your gym to see if they have some fun group exercise classes on their schedule.  That's a great way to get back into it without having to do a lot of planning or thinking.  Let the instructors guide you through exercise while you lose your thoughts/problems/stress in the little sweat beads on your forehead (or on the floor, depending on the class!!).  While you're at it, check with your gym to see if they have any personal training specials.  Sometimes there will be "back-to-school" specials and now is the time to take advantage of it!!

Not willing to go the route of personal training or group exercise?  Want to spend more time on the gym floor?  Well if you are not sure where to start or you just don't want to waste your time wandering from machine to machine, why not try this workout.  Grab a pair of dumbbells that you'll use for all 3 of these won't put them down til your rest period.

1.  Double DB Swing x 2 reps (this picture shown with kettle bells instead of dumbbells)

2.  Overhead DB Squat x 2 reps  

3.  Single-Leg Deadlift with DB Row x 2 reps (each leg)

Perform each exercise in succession for 4 rounds WITH NO REST and without putting the weights down.  Once you complete the 4 rounds, rest for 90 seconds.  Now repeat this 3 MORE TIMES!!  This is a great metabolic workout that won't take long but will target total body movements and will kick up that fat-burner that's hiding deep inside!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Importance of Water in the Body

Hydration anyone?  How many people actually drink ALL of the water they are suppose to drink?  Why would you when we have all of the artificial liquid joy we can consume, right?  Let's take a closer look at which bodily functions actually use water to benefit yours truly (yourself!).

Nearly all of the body's organs rely on the consumption of water.  Water is your body's principal chemical component and makes up about 60 percent of your body weight.  Every system in your body depends on water.  For example, water flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells and provides a moist environment for ears, nose and throat tissues.

Lack of water can lead to dehydration, a condition that occurs when you don't have enough water in your body to carry out normal functions.  Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired.

So how much fluid (i.e., plain ol' water) does the average, healthy adult living in a temperate climate need?  The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day.  The AI for women is 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day.

For active exercising adults, a generic formula of body weight x .66= oz.  This should help you gather an idea of where you should be. 

Oh, and by the way...if you don’t have enough water in your diet, your liver will not metabolize fat as efficiently because your liver is taking on some of the functioning of the kidneys.  So if you don’t drink enough water, you will not metabolize fat as efficiently.  Think about it!!!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Are You Tough Enough???

Try this workout for a little something different and high intensity! 

Walking Lunges
Push Ups
Inverted Rows
2 Minute Sprint

Alternating Step Ups
Ball Slams
Walk Overs
2 Minute Sprint

Stiff Leg DeadLift
Renegade Row
Jump Squats
2 Minute Sprints

Make sure not to rest in between each exercise of the set.  After each set of the circuit, make sure to have 2 minutes of recovery.  After each circuit, make sure to have 2 minute rest as well.  Be sure to listen to your body...this is an advanced endurance workout, it is hard!

For each circuit, complete 2-4 rounds.  Guaranteed to give you a great workout!!!

As far as the rep range goes, there are different types you can do.  You can set a numeric goal of 15 to 30 reps or you can set a time goal (time under tension) of anywhere between 30 and 60 seconds, depending on time available and fitness level.

Make sure you have water for proper hydration during the workout and also to decrease the time needed for a water break.  You also might want to bring a towel, you will be wet by the time you leave!  Enjoy your workout and good luck!!!