Thursday, January 16, 2014

What NOT to Do: The Six DO NOTS for Weight Loss

Happy New Year to all, it is good to be back.

We've all got the same thing on our minds after the holidays: getting back into shape and getting the most out of our fitness programs. In this issue, six simple tips about the things that don't work and alternative that do to help you get the most out of your efforts.  

1.  Don't Starve - Watching your calories is good, starving yourself and skipping meals actually works against you. When you skip meals or reduce your calorie intake too low, your body thinks you're starving and goes into "survival mode." It actually lowers your metabolism so that you burn less calories. Instead, plan on increasing exercise and reducing caloric intake so that you have a daily "calorie deficit" of 500-1000 calories. At this rate, you should lose 1-2 pounds of fat per week. The American Dietetic Association and American College of Sports Medicine consider this level optimal for long term weight loss.

2.  Don't Do Just Cardio - Aerobic exercise is great for burning calories while you're doing them and for a short time later. Strength training has the added advantage of building lean muscle - which means your metabolism increases and you burn more calories ALL DAY LONG! Ideally, do a combination of both for best results.

3.  Skip the Small Muscle Exercises - The larger the muscle, the more calories it will burn when you exercise. Legs, Back and Chest exercises give you the most bang for the buck, while small muscles like shoulders, arms and calves burn very few calories. Multi-joint exercises like those shown on the chart below give you the biggest bang for the buck, and can hit smaller muscles in the process. 

Skip These Small Muscle Exercises
Emphasize Big Muscles/Multi-Joint Exercises
 Biceps, Triceps, Shoulder Press, Lateral Raises, Front Raises,   Calf Raises
 Squats, Lunges, Pushups, Pullups, Chest Press, Rows,  Lat Pulldowns

.  Cut the Down Time- Organize your strength workout into circuits so that you get more training volume and keep your heart rate up by reducing idle time between sets. Examples of circuits include lunge/pushup/pullup with no rest in between and chest press/row/squat. I've got some circuit training programs on my website at  

5.  Don't Go in Without a Plan - It is proven that having a plan and schedule lead to better results. Where, when, how often will you exercise and what will you do in every exercise session? Base your plan on goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

6.  Don't Get Hurt - Overtraining, inappropriate exercise selection, and poor setup technique can lead to an injury that derails your program - or worse. Give each muscle group a day off between strength training sessions. Identify problem exercises for you with the mini-self assessment on my website Be careful with technique in getting in setting up weights or getting in and out of machines. It is easy to get hurt grabbing for a weight in the wrong way or squirming in and out of a machine without adjusting it properly.  If you've had a long break or are new to exercise, check with your doctor first.

If you need help getting a safe, appropriate, efficient and effective program off the ground, I can usually get someone on routine in as few as five sessions.  

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