I can find lower priced brands of supplements, why should I use yours?

There are only a few places where the raw ingredients for nutritional supplements come from. The difference between the brands is how many fillers and binders are used to put them together. The brands we carry are tested by outside sources to ensure that they are the highest quality possible.

How can I tell if my supplements are a good quality?

It doesn’t matter how much of a nutrient you take in; it matters how much of it you can absorb. Capsules are usually not an issue but with tablets the binders might not let you break them down completely. You can test your tablet by putting it in 8 oz. of vinegar. If it doesn’t break up to finer powder vs. staying in chunks within and hour, you probably won’t be able to get much absorption.

Healing Hands

What is Healing Hands?

Healing Hands is our artisanal line of natural soaps, lotions, shampoos, candles, room sprays and much more. We use all natural ingredients which are chemical and
toxic-free, so our products are not only effective but help to restore and repair your body’s largest organ: Your Skin!

What’s in your handmade soap?

We use a base recipe of: Mango and Shea Butters, Rice Bran Oil, Coconut Oil, Castor Oil, and Almond oil. This recipe is very moisturizing and suitable for most skin types. We also make a traditional French sea salt soap with olive oil, as well as several other types of soaps for different skin types. See ingredients lists for more information.

Do you use any animal products in your soaps?

No. All of our soaps are made without animal products. We do not make any soaps with lard currently, nor do we use animal milk or honey in our soaps. We do use a locally sourced beeswax in our lotion bars and for our beeswax candles, which is why we do not market as a “vegan” company.

I’m allergic to fragrance, do you have any soap for me?

Yes, we make unscented soaps in both our base recipe and our traditional French sea salt soap is also unscented. We can also do custom orders if there is a particular soap you would want in an unscented version.

What’s the difference between handmade soap and the commercial soap I get at the store?

Most commercial soaps are detergent based, using synthetic ingredients that commonly cause skin reactions. Our soaps do not contain any artificial  colorants, hardeners, latherers, or preservatives. Commercial soap also lacks glycerin, a naturally occurring byproduct of saponification (the chemical reaction that we call soap making). Glycerin is a humectant, meaning it draws moisture from the air to your skin leaving it feeling soft and moisturized naturally.

Do you do guest favors for special occasions?

Yes, we do. If you are interested in placing a custom order or ordering in bulk, please feel free to message us and we can discuss ideas and pricing. We also have a range of other products if you would like to combine some into gift bags or baskets.

Training & Nutrition Programs

How can I find out more information on fitness and nutrition topics?

We have a weekly blog you can read; we have a bi-monthly newsletter you can sign up for, and we archive all of our articles in our Member’s Area. You will also find information through all of our social media channels including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube.

What is needed to get started with a program?

In our Member’s Area you will find all of the forms we need to get started with developing your program. Our first appointment is typically a Fitness Assessment where we take you through various fitness tests for strength, endurance, cardiovascular conditioning, and flexibility. We also perform a body composition test to separate your lean body mass from your fat mass.

How do I know which program to pick?

We offer a large variety of options that fits just about any budget. The main consideration is how much of a DIYer you are. If you just need us to design a safe and effective program, then you will do great with one of our basic options. If you would like us to work with you and make sure your technique is correct and gauge and monitor your
progress, then the Enthusiast package is your choice. The only thing left to decide is if you would like help with nutrition as well. Again, depending on whether you are more of a DIYer and just need guidelines, or would like everything customized for you. If it’s guidelines, then the Basic Nutrition or Basic Combo (if you’d like the training as well). If it’s customized for you, then you would go with our Ultimate Program.

How does virtual training differ from on demand?

Virtual training is where we work with you live via a platform such as Meet, Teams, Skype, or Zoom. On demand are recorded workouts you can follow anytime.

Is virtual training just as effective as in-person training?

Yes, it is just as effective as in-person training. The only difference is we aren’t able to hand you the weights.

Do I need anything special for virtual training?

The only thing you need is fairly fast internet connection and a smart phone, tablet, or computer. Other than this, there is no special equipment or anything else needed.

General Fitness & Nutrition

Why should I have my body fat measured? What’s the best method?

Determining your body composition allows you to make appropriate decisions regarding the diet and exercise program that is best for you. Beyond that it is the most useful way to measure the progress in changing your fat to lean ratio.

Hydrostatic weighing is the most accurate method to measure body fat, composition. Also referred to as “underwater weighing,” this technique requires the individual to weighed on land and under water. Percent body fat is calculated using a complex mathematical equation. Hydrostatic weighing is the gold standard for body fat measurement because research using the “tank” has been replicated and repeated most accurately using the ultimate test subject–a cadaver! In fact, the most common question professionals ask is how closely other methods correlate to this protocol.

The downside to hydrostatic weighing is that it is time-consuming, requires expensive equipment, and relies heavily on the expertise of the technician performing the test Therefore, other methods are more commonly used.

The second most popular method for determining body composition is skinfold measurement. The technician uses a caliper to measure skinfold thicknesses at various sites on the body. The caliper also has limitations. Individual differences such as age,
gender and fitness status make it difficult to determine norms for a large population.

Other methods developed in recent years include ultrasound, bioelectrical impedance, arm x-ray, and computerized tomography. Although salespeople will tell you differently, none of the research on these methods compare in accuracy to hydrostatic weighing or skinfold measurement, mostly because it’s difficult to replicate results.

Nonetheless, the accuracy of body fat measurement is of dire consequence only to the avid athlete. The “scale” is the most popular method for measuring land weight, but you don’t find people running around asking which scale is the most accurate. Like land weighing, body fat composition is most useful to monitor your progress.

Any method, used on a repetitive basis, provides an accurate benchmark to measure progress. Regardless of which method you choose, test yourself or get tested on a monthly basis, using the same protocol and the same technician. If you are working out regularly and eating healthily, you’ll experience a satisfying decline in the fat to lean ratio and move rapidly to your goals.

Are height-weight charts a good way for me to determine if I’m overweight?

Height-weight charts are statistical landmarks developed in the 1930’s by looking at height and average ranges of body mass of men of military age for whom the mortality rate was lowest. They did not consider specific causes of death or the quality of health prior to death. At that time a man more than fifteen percent above the highest number in the range was considered obese and a health risk. In the 1940’s it also meant he was ineligible for military duty. The chart was developed by insurance companies. The numbers for women were extrapolated from the figures for men.

In the 1980’s the ranges for men and women were increased by about ten pounds to allow for the increased mass that is carried by most of us born after WWII.

Height-weight charts are now regarded as outdated by health and fitness professionals. That’s because total body weight, or mass, is not as important as your ratio of fat to lean tissue. This information is not revealed by a scale. Only body composition assessment, commonly called body fat testing, allows a qualified technician to accurately predict an individual’s percentage of body fat, pounds of fat and pounds of lean and a realistic weight goal.

Most of us have heard of stories of airline attendants who were put on probation when their weight was too high for their height or lean football players who, based on height-weight charts, were told to lose weight. How many of us have weighed ourselves in the morning because we know how radically weight changes over a day? If you are still relying on height weight charts to determine if you are over or underweight you are “out of step” with the fitness community. Dump those statistics and your scale along with it. They’re worthless!

What should I eat before and after my work out?

Athletes continue to search for the perfect diet or the right combination of protein, carbohydrate, vitamins, and minerals to maximize exercise performance. Even recreational exercisers want to enhance their health and exercise program by eating the right foods in the right combinations. Ironically several studies report that athletes do not always eat right. Poor diet, combined with the increased requirements for vitamins, minerals and other nutrients can jeopardize athletic performance and general health.

Exercising on an empty stomach is not smart. Your body requires the energy food provides to fuel muscles. Any time you go more than 4 hours without carbohydrate intake the body begins converting body protein (including muscle) to the sugar needed to fuel the brain–and prevent hypoglycemia. The strain you put on your body when you deprive it of food, followed by the challenge of exercise, will set it up to conserve the calories you eat later and store them as fat.

Sports Nutritionist/Dietitian Nancy Clark, author of The Athlete’s Kitchen agrees on these additional key facts for people who work out regularly:

  • Complex carbohydrates, such as breads and cereals are the best form of fuel for endurance sports–not sugar.
  • Athletes need little or no more protein than is provided in the typical American diet. Protein powders are NOT necessary to meet this daily need.
  • Water should be consumed every 15-20 minutes during exercise.

Whether you are a “weekend warrior” or a recreational exerciser who engages in moderate activity two or three times a week, be sure to begin your day with a good breakfast, eat every 3-4 hours, and try to make sure you are getting complete, low-fat proteins, fruits and vegetables, grains and starches, and essential fats at each meal.

What are good sources of protein?

With protein, you often see the terms complete and incomplete. Protein is made up of Amino Acids. Some of these are essential (which means your body cannot make them and must be gotten in the diet) and the others are non-essential (which means your body is able to make them). Complete proteins contain all the essential amino acids and are the highest quality. These include poultry, fish, lean meat, and dairy. Vegetable sources are incomplete proteins and must be combined with grains or nuts to make them complete. Your body can only use protein if it is complete. Otherwise, it gets stored as fat or excreted.

What are good sources of carbohydrate?

Fruits and vegetables are always the first choice. Then grains and starches. Processed sugars and foods are the ones to try and stay away from.

What are good sources of fat?

Good sources of fat are your poly- and mono-unsaturated fats. These include nuts, seeds, and most oils. Saturated fats are the ones to stay away from and these are typically solid at room temperature. Exceptions to this are coconut, coconut oil, palm oil, and palm kernel oil. These are high in saturated fat even though they are oils.

What does the term target heart rate mean?

The intensity component of training for cardiovascular fitness is critical. The principles of aerobic and anaerobic energy production make it clear that exercise at too great an intensity will use anaerobic metabolism, not the aerobic system that can increase your fitness levels. The higher a client’s level of fitness, the higher their appropriate exercise intensity. Heart rate during exercise can provide an excellent monitor of intensity.

Research shows that optimum exercise intensity for fitness improvement is in the range of about 60-90 percent of maximum heart rate. (Maximum heart rate or MHR is typically the number 220 minus your age.) “Target heart rate” is a shorthand term used to describe a heart rate at the “training-sensitive zone.”

To compute your Target Heart Rate, multiply your MHR by .60 and again by .90. This range is, for most people, the heart rate at which you will achieve maximum aerobic benefits.

For example:
If you are 40 years old your MHR is 220 minus your age (40) or 180.
60 % of 180 = 108
90% of 180 = 162

Your Target Heart Rate (range) is 108-162. Exercise at this pace. Compare it with the talk test which takes advantage of the hyperventilation response which indicates you’ve moved beyond aerobic to anaerobic metabolism. If breathing while you exercise in your target heart range is labored and difficult, the intensity is too great regardless of the numbers. If you can carry on a comfortable conversation while exercising in your target heart range, chances are using a target heart rate is a useful strategy to monitor your fitness training.

How can I tell if I am dehydrated?

Dehydration is what happens to your body when it loses more fluid than it takes in.

Water is essential to life. It is the medium in which all the functions of our body take place. In fact, water makes up 45-65% of our total body weight. About 62% of this water is stored in our cells. The remainder is in plasma, lymph, and other fluids.

The amount of fluid in our body usually remains relatively stable. If, for some reason fluid output exceeds fluid intake it’s no problem–if the imbalance is adjusted quickly. It’s when fluids aren’t replaced that you can get in trouble and experience dehydration. If you do, the effects can be significant. Common symptoms of even mild dehydration include thirst, muscle weakness, cramping, decreased performance, reduced cardiac function during exercise, higher resting heart rate, decreased oxygen consumption and fatigue.

It’s normal for us to lose body fluids through perspiration, sweating, excretion, and exhalation. Abnormal water loss occurs with prolonged vomiting or diarrhea, bleeding, burns and some medical conditions like diabetes.

Water with glucose and electrolytes or sports drinks with polymerized carbohydrates are popular fluid replacements for people who exercise for long periods of time. The polymerized drinks speed the replacement process while providing the carbohydrates for energy.

Plain water remains the best fluid for hydrating the body.

How much water do I need?

Water is the single most important nutrient for your body. Here is how to figure your requirements:

Take your body weight in pounds and divide it by two. This represents the minimum number of ounces of water you need each day. Now, add 8 ounces for every 15 minutes of intense activity where you are sweating. You also get to add an extra ounce for ounce for any carbonated, caffeinated, or alcoholic beverage.

Do your best to drink the water evenly throughout the day. If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated by 2% of your body weight. If you are going to the bathroom all the time, it means you are dehydrated and the water you are drinking is being flushed out because your body is not ready for it. During this phase you will be more dehydrated than without drinking the water, but it is a necessary step. Continue to consistently drink the correct amount of water until you are not going to the bathroom all the time. This should take roughly two days.

What do the new food labels tell me?

A typical supermarket offers about 20,000 different items. Food labels, now required by law on almost every food, can help you choose among the options available.

The most significant part of the new food labels is a new heading that reads Nutrition Facts. That is followed by:

  1. a list of the serving size of that particular food and
  2. the servings per container.

The new labels have more consistent serving sizes that replace those that used to be set by manufacturers.

There are mandatory and voluntary dietary components required on food labels. Mandatory data, per serving, listed in the order in which they must appear are:

  • Total Calories
  • Calories from fat

The next mandatory portion of the label provides information about nutrients that are most important to the health of today’s consumers and includes:

  • Total Fat (in grams) (and a percentage)
  • Saturated fat (in grams) (and a percentage)
  • Cholesterol (in grams) (and a percentage)
  • Sodium (in grams) (and a percentage)
  • Total Carbohydrate (in grams) (and a percentage)
  • Dietary Fiber (in grams) (and a percentage)
  • Sugars (in grams) (and a percentage)
  • Protein (in grams) (and a percentage) and
  • Vitamin A (in a percentage)
  • Vitamin C (in a percentage)
  • Calcium (in a percentage)
  • Iron (in a percentage)

WARNING: Although this portion of the label is a significant improvement over the previous label which listed carbohydrate, protein, and fat in grams, it can still be misleading. Health promotion educator, Ronda Gates, has a favorite saying that applies to food labels, “Labels don’t lie, but liars write labels.”

For example, if a label lists 260 total calories and 120 calories per serving, but under that lists total fat (still in grams) followed by a percentage, most consumers believe that percentage is the percentage fat of the food. In fact, if you look closely, you will see that percentage value is nothing more than % of daily value based on a 2,000-calorie diet.

These reference values are intended only to help consumers learn good diet basics. If you don’t eat a 2,000-calorie diet, the information is of little use to you.

What are some useful strategies to beat stress?

When you’re in stressful situations, be they physical, mental, or emotional, your adrenal glands secrete special hormones to help you through the stress. These hormones include epinephrine (also called adrenaline), norepinephrine, and cortisol. They prepare your body to handle stress by speeding up the heart to increase cardiac output, constricting blood vessels to the gut while enlarging those to the muscles, and dilating pupils dilate to give us a better look at whatever we’re confronting. They stimulate the liver to release its glucose stores for quick energy. Fat depots are induced to liberate free fatty acids for fuel. Stress hormone release produces a heightened state of awareness which helps us think more clearly and quickly.

The good thing about these hormones is the way they prepare the body to run away from danger. The potential bad effect is that many normal body functions are subverted in order to meet the demands of flight. Amino acids that are supposed to be used for tissue growth and repair are, under stress, burned for energy instead.

If the stress is emotional rather as well as physical, you have a medical time bomb. With constant stress, there is a constant re-routing of amino acids. Instead of supplying fresh material to grow hair, make antibodies, and rebuild heart muscle, amino acids are removed from tissues, travel to the liver, then go to muscles to be burned up as flight fuel.

A heart attack in someone under constant stress is more likely to be lethal. Invading bacteria from a cut are less likely to be mopped up by the white blood cells. The immune system is less hardy. Muscle wasting is more likely. People, training hard for athletics, are more likely to tip over into the overtraining syndrome.

What we need is a drug that will encourage our adrenal glands to make more stress hormone when we really need them, but none for the routine occurrences that we perceive as stressful. You will be pleased to know that such a drug is available although it has not been sanctioned by the American Medical Association, released by the Food and Drug Administration, or approved by the surgeon general. The drug is called exercise and you don’t need anyone’s permission to use it.

What is overtraining?

Overtraining occurs when you are asking your body to do more than what it can recover from. Nutrition, stress, and the amount of quality sleep all affects your recovery. It’s important to learn to listen to your body. If you feel tired during a workout it’s because you are and you don’t need as hard or long of a workout to make progress. Progress happens during recovery. Try to remember it’s 100% for the day and that looks different every week.

Questions from Clients

Does increasing muscle mass in teenagers inhibit growth?

Not if you are getting enough calories to obtain both goals. If you are not taking in enough calories, your body will not get the nutrients it needs for growth or muscle building. This should be monitored teens, so they are not jeopardizing their health.

I am a moderately fit 26-year-old female. I lift weights 3 times a week but don’t do nearly enough cardio. I am fairly thin but tend to get flabby if I don’t work out. I really want to step up my fitness and nutrition to get really fit. How should I change my diet and workout to do this?

You need to know how many calories you need a day to maintain weight. From there if you want to lose body fat, you should subtract 300-500 calories a day (for a safe weight loss each week). You mentioned that you are already thin but are flabby. That flab is body fat, so to “firm-up” you need to decrease body fat. Lifting weights will help increase muscle mass, which will help burn calories throughout the day, and will in turn “tone up” that flab. You can not turn muscle into fat, but you can reduce fat, and increase muscle. Until your foot is better, you should stick with the weights. You can get your heart rate up by doing circuit training with weights.

I have really been watching my diet and am not consuming more than around 1,500 calories a day. If my body was used to more calories than this, will it actually store some of what I eat, thus totally do the opposite of what I’m trying to accomplish by exercising and eating right. I’m not trying to lose anymore weight I’m just trying to lower my body fat percentage and put on some muscle. Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated; I look forward to hearing from you.

Your body may not start off right away getting rid of body fat when you change your diet but give it a little time. If you are starving your body, then it may want to hold onto the fat, and use other sources for energy. You did not mention your age or gender, so I could not tell if you are not getting enough calories. If your body does not start to respond, or you are feeling very sluggish, then I would reevaluate your calorie consumption. You need to make sure that you have enough energy for your everyday living as well as your workouts.

What are the physical & psychological benefits of exercise? Longevity benefits of exercise?

The number one benefit in my book, is the way you feel on a day-to-day basis when engaging in some type of physical exercise 3-4 times a week. The overall feeling of well-being is well worth the time that one may spend in a gym or practicing their favorite sport. As for the physical benefits, just being able to walk up a flight of stairs without being coming overly winded, being able to carry your own groceries, or being
without pain, are enough to keep me going on my fitness routine. The longevity benefits include things such as being able to have full range of motion of joints in old age, bone density, decreased risk for heart disease and some cancers, and the feeling of the young person still inside you. I hope these are good enough reasons to keep you motivated for the rest of your life’s workouts.

I am a 41-year-old woman, I have allowed my body to become saggy…. Is it possible at my age to get my flesh firm again? Or is this the end of the line for me?

The only way to get ride of “extra” skin is to have it surgically removed. But if what is happening to you is just extra body fat, and not skin, then there is hope for you. All you need to do is to decrease your body fat. This can be done by aerobic activity, weight training, and watching your caloric intake. Remember, there is no such thing as spot reduction. Fat loss will be seen all over the body, but you can strengthen the muscles in certain body parts. Increasing muscle mass will also increase your basal metabolism, which will help you lose body fat faster.

I’m a 47-year-old female and just starting to lift a few weights. I want to firm my muscles up, especially in my arms. Is there anything I can take that will help build muscle. I’m currently taking designer protein which is a whey protein. Should I be taking some form of creatine? Also, what brand of exercise equipment is the best? I’m interested in Bow Flex.

Lifting heavier weights will increase muscle mass. You need to lift a weight that is heavy enough that you have a difficult time with the last three repetitions in that set. You want to do between 6-10 repetitions per set, depending on your level off current fitness. (If you are just beginning, I would do 10 reps per set). Creatine may help in gaining strength, which will help you lift more weight, which will help build muscle. As for which exercise equipment is the best, is all depends on what you prefer. You do want to make sure that when you purchase any machine that you will be able to have a full range of motion, be able to set up properly to the machine to avoid injury, and that the machine will be able to grow with you (you won’t be out lifting it soon). These are just a few things to keep in mind.

I am a 62-year-old female about 30 lbs overweight (trying to do something about that) and am doing water aerobics & some nautilus & some sit-ups every other day. I had back surgery last year and don’t want to hurt my back, but I want a FLAT Tummy again. Are there some VERY effective exercises that I can do to get rid of this disgusting belly that won’t kill my back? Thank you.

The key to “six pack abs” is body fat reduction. You need to lose body fat to show off the muscle underneath. You are on the right track by doing safe aerobic exercises but should also be watching your caloric intake. Find out how many calories you need a day, and then subtract 300-500 per day for weight loss. This will put you into a safe weight loss program. Make sure that you are also getting your heart rate high enough when doing water aerobics. Lifting weights will help increase muscle mass, which in turn will burn more calories.

I used to have a fairly high level of upper body strength, but I hurt my shoulder about 1 year ago and have done very little upper body exercise since then. I have never done an upper body warm up but would like to know what to do before I start upper body exercises. Thank you very much.

Warming up your shoulder can start with 5-10 minutes on a cardiovascular machine, to warm the whole body up. You can then go from there and do some arm rotations by making a big circle with your whole arm. Perform circles swinging the arm to the front, and then do some swinging the arm the back. This will increase the blood flow to that area of the body, and get the ligaments warmed up and ready for weight bearing activity.

Which do you think would get better/faster strength and mass increasing results…super slow with lower weights/fewer sets or a traditional 10rep/3set/ escalating weight to muscle exhaustion.

The heavier weight with fewer reps will give you an increase in muscle mass. You should always control the weight that you are lifting but slowing the speed even more will not make a huge difference in your muscle gain, it will just fatigue your muscles out faster.

I have just lost 170 pounds. I have so much loose skin. Is there a way besides surgery to tighten up the skin besides surgery?

I do not know of any other way. Depending upon your age, and how long you have been overweight, will make a difference as to whether your skin will have elasticity left in it. Some lotions claim that they can firm skin, but I don’t know how much I would buy into that. You could try one (I would purchase one of the lesser expensive ones first) to see if there is any truth to their claims. You may be able to gain some elasticity back naturally.

How do I get rid of gross cellulite on the thighs? How do I trim my thighs?

Unfortunately, cellulite is genetic. The best you can do is reduce the size of size of the cellulite, but there may still be some dimpling. Endermologie may also help in the appearance of cellulite. The results are temporary, and you may need to have several treatments to start to see results, but there may be a difference in the appearance. Remember that cellulite is just too much subcutaneous fat underneath the skin, which is held in place by fibrous strands attaching the muscle to the skin.

I am 16 years old, and I want to know how to lift safely so that I don’t stunt my growth.

You want to be careful that you are getting enough calories to ensure that you are not stunting your growth. If you are a member of a fitness facility, ask a trainer there to show you how to do each exercise correctly so you are not injuring your joints. If you are doing these things, you should not be harming yourself.

I heard that thinning up your thighs and butt is all in sequence, what sequence is this and what is a workout that can give me fast results?

This seems to be one of the latest rages in weightlifting that you must follow a sequence. The only sequence that I know of is to work the largest muscles first, and then the smaller ones. You can begin with compound movements (lunges, squats, leg press) and then move to isolation movements such as leg extension, leg curl, calf raises, adduction & abduction. These are all great ways to shape the legs. If you work out your legs twice a week, and include cardio at least 3 times a week, you will see results. How fast depends upon your current level of fitness, and how hard you work. Remember that you need to watch what you eat, so you can reduce body fat to show off the muscle gained.

I have worked out three to four days a week for about three years now at a local fitness center. I am a male, age 37 non-smoker. My workout consists of a mix of aerobic workouts (Stairmaster, Nordic track, rowing machine, and aerobic classes) and weight training. My problem is that my lower body has almost no body fat while my upper body looks like the Pillsbury doughboy. I know that there is no such thing as spot reduction, but I must be doing something wrong here. One of the workers at the fitness center said I was upper body anaerobic (I think) what does this mean and what can I do about this situation? Liposuction is completely out of the question, so where do I go from here?

I am glad that you are not considering surgery for this and are willing to work hard for results. Men tend to carry fat around the middle section, and tend to be leaner in the legs, so this is not uncommon. You may need to reevaluate your caloric intake to make sure that you are not eating more calories than you expend. You can not lose body fat if you do not develop a deficit of calories. As far as what this trainer told you, I have seen no medical studies to support this theory.

Accordion I have not done any exercise for a while and wants to get back my fitness and slim body. What is the first step to begin with?Title

I would begin with consulting a physician before beginning any exercise program, especially if you are severely overweight, or have any medical condition for which you are being treated. I would then begin to watch my caloric intake and begin with a light to moderate (depending on your current health status) aerobic activity, and then add weight training into the routine. This will help you get back into working out, and back to your healthy way of living.

What are the best exercises with weights, for the triceps and upper arm area. I do several different ones but don’t seem to have much success at firming up.

You need to reduce the amount of fat covering the muscle to have the “firm” appearance. Size of muscle does not matter as much as excess body fat covering the muscle. Triceps extensions, Triceps kickbacks, Triceps pulldowns and dips are all good exercises to work this muscle. But to see the muscle, you need to reduce body fat.

I am 36 years old, about 30lbs overweight and extremely unmotivated. I have been in great shape before, but I struggle to get my legs and abs on the same level as my arms and chest. I only want to work legs, abs and back. What should I do to get motivated and what type of program would you recommend?

You can begin by doing aerobic activity for a minimum of 20 minutes at least 3 times a week. This will help in fat loss. As far as motivation goes, try working out with a partner. Or if it is possible, hire a personal trainer to help motivate you. Set goals for yourself and be ready to reward yourself when you reach those goals. To work your legs, you can do different exercises such as squats, lunges, leg press, leg extension, leg curl, calf raises, dead lifts and adduction/abduction. There are variations to each one of these, so depending on your fitness level and knowledge; you can change them up nicely.

I want to know how I could lose quick weight, also I want to improve my waistline, also work on my thighs and stomach. I want to achieve a flat stomach, and great thighs and a good looking buffed up but. What should I do to achieve these? Please help me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Losing weight too quickly is never permanent, or safe. If you would like to lose weight and keep it off, then following a sound diet, and exercising is always the answer. Most fast weight lose programs; you will end up losing water weight and not fat. So, the moment you stop following that diet plan, you put the weight right back on. Many of the weight loss supplements are dangerous as well, and you should consult your physician before using any of them. As for the thighs and butt, weightlifting will help in that area. Compound moves will work all of the lower extremity muscles (moves such as lunges, squats, leg press, step ups and dead lifts). Ask your trainer in your gym to show you a few of these if you are not familiar with them.

I don’t have to lose weight; I want to build muscle. What kind of workout should I do?

You need to lift weights that cause the muscle to go to failure within 6-10 repetitions per set. You should work all muscle groups in the body. Incorporate a good diet with this (increase caloric intake if you are wanting to put on weight), and you should get the results that you need. You do not need to take in extensive amounts of protein (30% of daily calories is enough), but you need enough to repair tissue damage. Don’t forget to include cardiovascular exercises as well to work the most important muscle in the body, the heart.

I get bulky thigh muscles (especially my quads) very easily. I currently do Pilate’s 3 times a week and want to know what aerobic workouts will not promote bulky thighs? I currently hike and jog/walk.

Any aerobic exercise where you are working with resistance will help build the muscle in the legs. Walking on a flat surface (or jogging) should not bulk up the muscles like biking.

I’m a 235 lb 15yr old that plays football and loves to lift. The only problem is that I want to cut my abs and get rid of my gut, and I wanted to increase my biceps and get them toned and get my traps bigger and at the same time increase my bench! I know this is a real mouth full, but I am very willing to work hard! This year I did Powerlifting at my school, and I didn’t do my meet, because my max bench was only about 170 and I knew I would get killed in my weight class. No one helped me out with increasing my bench besides a few good people and I was wondering if you could help me so next football season, I will be faster and cut up to impress my coaches please help me.

This is certainly a great task that you are trying to do for someone your age. You may want to break them down into one goal at a time. First starting with the muscle gain, and then focusing on the fat loss. The more muscle you have, the faster and more efficient your body burns fat. When you lose body fat, you will get the definition that you want in your abs. After you have reached your goal in weightlifting, I would then focus on losing the fat. The only fat to lose fat is to decrease the number of calories that you take in. You will want to add some type of cardiovascular exercise to this to help with the fat burning. Do a minimum of 20 minutes at least 3 times a week. One type of exercise is not necessarily better than another, it is what you prefer and feel comfortable doing.

What is the best exercise and or supplements for chronic lower back pain?

You may want to consult a physician if the pain is too severe. But strengthening the abdominals will help aid in protection of the back. You will also want to strengthen the lower back itself by doing back extensions or lying on the floor (on your stomach) and lifting the upper body off the floor. Do not do these exercises if you feel any pain. You also want to get a good stretch after exercising, especially the lower back.

I workout right after work therefore I leave my gym bag in my car out in the heat all day long… does this affect the bottle of ripped fuel I keep in my gym bag or the affects it has on me?

This should not change the affect that it will have on you. The chemical compounds will not change unless they reach a certain heat point, and I am sure that it is not getting hot enough. You could always bring the bottle into work with you just so it stays colder for your consumption.

How many additional glasses of water, if any, does one need to drink to make up for the dehydration effect of one cup of fully caffeinated coffee?

For every ounce of caffeine that you take in, you should drink one ounce of water. So, your water intake should equal your caffeine intake.

I was wondering if you could suggest a good ab workout. I’m just starting to workout in preparation for a soccer league. Also, my arms are probably the weakest part on me. Anything I can do other than lift weights or push-ups etc.?

To increase strength in the arms you will need to do a resistance exercise, there is no way around that. For your abdominals, crunches are the most common way of working the abs. You can do this with or without resistance. You should take the muscle to failure, and work it every other day, unless they are very sore from the last work out, then take longer time for recovery. Make sure you hit the obliques (side of the abs).

Within the past year, I have had a C-section. My body type is a very long torso. The area above my belly button is flat from doing crunches but the area below is very pudgy and folds under at my incision. The doctor used my incision from an appendectomy, so the incision is a little bit lower than what I have seen from other women. Is there any exercise that I can do to target this area below my belly button since crunches are not working??

You have just gone through surgery that severed a muscle within the last year, it may take longer to get those abs back into the shape you used to be in. Remember that your skin was stretched for an extended period, so be patient. You may not get back the flat stomach you had before childbirth. But to work the lower part of the abdominals, you can do reverse crunches. With your feet in the air, slowly curl the pelvis up lifting the legs higher into the air. Be careful not to create momentum and swing the legs up. This is not a large movement, and you will need to concentrate on the muscles being worked, and if it is more comfortable on the lower back, place your hands under your buttocks.

I am 52 and have been taking golf lessons since last Nov. A couple of months ago I encountered something like a pulled muscle halfway between my left shoulder blade and my waist. It eventually subsided, but I encountered the same type of pain just under my left shoulder blade. It eventually went away. Now I have it just under my right shoulder blade. Are there stretches or exercises that can prevent me from getting these injuries?

Yes, there are. You need to stretch your rhomboids and trapezius muscles. You can do this by holding onto something with arms shoulder height and lean back keeping arms straight. You should feel the stretch in the upper middle part of the back. As you lean away from your hands you should try to separate the shoulder blades to really feel a good stretch.

I’m a 37 yr. old female with average fitness level. 6 months ago, I started working out at the gym – stretch classes, yoga, light weights, and cardio work. I did all the right things, seeing a personal trainer once a week and I feel great. But over the last couple of weeks, my knees have started to hurt, just a generalized ache that isn’t any worse after working out. My personal trainer makes sure I don’t overextend on any exercises. Any ideas?

My suggestion for you is to see a physician if you are in constant pain and discontinue leg work outs until you get the go ahead from your physician.

I’d like to attain by December good definition of my ab region. What is the best sort of nutrition to help me? Considering I’m a vegetarian. At the moment I’m doing a lot of exercise daily i.e., swimming, cycling, cardiovascular workout-treadmill-rowing step machine etc. and also yoga, so I am quite fit to start with. I need to rid myself of the excess fat around my stomach area love handles etc. My next question is, to lose weight one should burn more calories than what is put in, what is the best time to burn calories? In relation to the consuming of food? I’ve been told that to attain good definition of the stomach region diet is imperative i.e., no alcohol at all no fats etc could you please enlighten me on these to questions.

You are right about the calories; you need to burn more calories than you take in. As far as what type of food, you should be getting a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. This will vary from person to person, but the most common balance is 50% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 20% fat. And for burning the calories, you will burn them all day long. You burn more when doing aerobic exercise, but it doesn’t matter what time of the day you do it, if you are doing it.

I am a 20-year-old male. I am fairly fit (165 lbs.) but not toned. My biggest problem is that I have fatty breasts. How do I fix that?

The fatty breast may go away as you get older, and your hormones adjust. Some men have larger fatty deposits in the breast area and can only get rid of it with liposuction. This may not happen to you because you are fairly young. You can decrease your body fat, and that will help reduce body fat in that area. Unfortunately, you cannot spot reduce. You may want to start working out with weights, and gaining muscle mass, which will help in the reduction of body fat. Chest exercises may also aid in the reduced appearance of the fatty breasts.

What are the best weight machines to use for increasing arm strength, firming up the abdomen and chest? How often should I exercise and with how much weight? Haven’t exercised for 20 years!!!

For the chest you can do chest press, flyes, incline chest press, and dips. For the arms, you can do arm curls, triceps extensions, side lateral raises, shoulder press and reverse flyes. The abdominals are worked by doing crunches and you can do them with or without resistance. As for how much weight, you should start with something that
tasks the muscle on the last three repetitions of each set. I would suggest starting with 15 repetitions per set (doing 2 sets to start with), and then decreasing your repetitions and increasing your weight, as your muscles respond to the workout.

I’m looking to change my workout routine soon. I want to do two body parts. Which are the best two body parts that I should work out together?

You can work out your biceps and back together, your chest and triceps together, and legs and shoulders together. As for abdominals you could work them every other day. This should give you a good routine, and don’t forget to add the cardio in there as well.

What is the fastest most effective way to get lean, tight muscles? I used to dance, cheer, and run. I have 3 children and little time. I do enjoy music have access to a weight set and room to move around. I would like to begin immediately; my doctor says its ok and I would like to see some improvement by November 4.

Your best bet might be circuit training. If you are crunched on time, this will incorporate a weight routine and increase your heart rate. You will be lifting weights, but without a rest time in between. When you work one muscle group (i.e., Chest) you will want to work the opposing muscle group (back muscles). This is true with each exercise you do. While working the opposing muscle, you will rest the one you just worked. This workout keeps the heart rate elevated, so it is efficient in burning calories faster.

I was wondering if I can get your opinion on products such as: Hydroxycut and Xhenodrine. What are they supposed to do, and do they actually work? I also would like to know about the Atkins Diet.

These drugs are normally miss used and can be very dangerous. What they do is raise the heart rate, and keep it raised throughout the day. They also raise the blood pressure as well. These drugs are very dangerous to someone with hypertension, and if you are thinking about taking them do not take them for an extended period, and please consult your physician first. As for the Atkins diet, it is a carb-restricted diet that advocates a high fat, no carb diet to lose body fat. This is not a healthy diet.


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