I have been getting a lot more e-mails from women who want to start competing in fitness. The number of fitness competitors decreased dramatically after the creation of the Figure division so it gives me great joy to hear that the interest in the best sport ever is starting to come back around.
On another note, it is the month of January, cold, windy and in the mid-west and Northern states, snowing, so going to the gym before or after work is the last thing on your mind. BUT, a New Year is the perfect time for making resolutions and for setting goals in regards to taking charge of bad habits that have maybe formed over the last year or years.
The key to success though is not to set these goals so high that it immediately sets you up for failure. Baby steps need to be taken in order to get acclimated to your new program and hopefully newly rejuvenated desire to be healthy and physically fit.
Ask a friend to join in your quest, or maybe your spouse so that both of you are on the same page and can keep each other motivated. If being physically fit were so easy then why are more people in the US categorized as being overweight or even obese more than ever.
I remember when taking P.E. in school was a joy because it allowed you to play sports, games and activities and break up each day's amount of time allotted to sitting at a desk with your nose stuffed in a book. I am all for academics, but when children and their parents feel that walking around Wal-Mart is enough activity for their daily caloric expenditure then something is truly wrong.
Let's start 2005 off right. Let's create new meaning to the word healthy and stick to it more than the few weeks into Feb, just so you don't feel so guilty about the money you spent on the entire month's gym membership.
Questions & Answers
Here are this month's Questions and Answers!
[ Q ] I am wondering if you can give me any tips on becoming a fitness competitor. I have been encouraged to do one by people who think I have the body structure and ability.
I currently have a routine that I follow where I split train each body part. And I have started my competition diet to prepare myself for any roadblocks (cravings) I may run into with my diet. My question to you is there any supplements that I should be taking?
A. I am truly excited to hear you say that you are considering competing in fitness and your "prepare ahead of time" mentality is right on track for you to be successful in your first show.
- Multivitamin/Multimineral (Solaray Mult-Vita Mega-Mineral)
- Pure Whey Isolate Protein Powder (Cytodyne Cyto-Pro)
- Glutamine (any pharmaceutical grade powder or capsule)
- Joint Support Complex (Pinnacle SAME Joint Complex)
- Fat Burner/Thermogenic (Xenadrine NRG)
Competing in the NPC (National Physique Committee) requires you to have a one-piece, and two-piece swimsuit, as well as a two minute fitness routine that demonstrates flexibility, strength, and endurance. The most important thing for you to remember is to cover all of your bases. Make sure your physique is balanced, not overly muscular, and well conditioned. In order to achieve this type of physique it is my recommendation to take a few different nutritional supplements.
Here is what I suggest you incorporate into your program and can be purchased here at BB.com:
I use these supplements myself when I am preparing for my shows and they really help my body perform at it's maximum level and recover quickly from all the hard training and cardio sessions.
With these products you will also notice a change in your routine performance and training. This program is what I follow when I am preparing for a contest. Keep it simple and keep it consistent.
[ Q ] I am 18 yrs old and have been weight training for two years. My legs are much defined but I just cannot get my upper body to be as defined. I feel my lower body over powers my upper body. Should I be using heavier weights with fewer reps or less weight with higher reps? Or do I just need to be patient?
A. Do not fret my young friend, it will happen in due time. My suggestion to you is this. Adjust your training so that you priority train your upper body so that it will catch up to your lower body. I must tell you that I was in your position when I began competing however I was already 23 and you are just 18 yrs old.
You should feel so ahead of the game it is not even funny. Be proud of the fact that you take better care of your self at your age than most people in their adult life.
Going back to my suggestion, train your upper body heavier but keep the reps between 10-15 and try pyramiding up and down in weight. I find that when I am trying to build muscle, pyramiding my weight during each set allows me to push myself beyond fatigue.
Lastly, make sure your nutrition is right on track so that you are eating enough calories (1500 at least) to put some muscle on.
Your goal is to have 20-30 grams of protein with each of your five meals daily. Vary your complex carbohydrates daily depending on the amount of activity and your training schedule. Lots of salads and green leafy veggies for your evening meals, with your protein, and dink plenty of water each day (1 gallon).
Your body is very young and you have so much to look forward to, just try to be patient. Believe me when I say it is easier said than done, I am the worst when it comes to making changes to my physique. I want to see the results NOW! Keep training hard and pushing yourself to the limit.
[ Q ] I am an intensely competitive high school wrestler looking to gain every advantage I can over the competition. I diet right, practice my sport at least twice a day, lift weights 3-4 times a week, and I do all kinds of extra cardio (jump rope, air dyne bike, etc?)
However, I am very inflexible, and believe that I could further improve my game and reduce the chances of becoming injured by improving my flexibility. Being a gymnast of sorts, I figured you could probably help me out with a stretching routine.
A. Mike, thank you for writing in and yes I can definitely help you with your flexibility. What tells me that you will have great success is the dedication I see you already have towards your sport of choice which is wrestling.
- Pike Stretch - Sit with both legs straight out in front of you on floor, flex feet and reach forward towards your toes.
- Straddle Stretch - Sit with legs in straddle position, reach to right and left sides by twisting upper torso so that your upper body lays flat, chest forward onto chosen leg. Alternate both right and left sides, and then try to pancake or lie flat in center. Take your hands and walk them away from you slowing so that you and move in and out of stretch easily.
- Butterfly Stretch - Sit with soles of shoes touch and knees out to the side. Grab your ankles and pull your self forward. Take the stretch deeper by placing your elbows on your knees and press downward as you pull your upper torso forward.
- Hurdle Stretch - Sit with one leg straight and the other knee bent so that your foot either folds into the other or away from it. This stretch can be effective by both taken forward or by leaning back.
- Shoulder Stretch - Lie flat on stomach; tuck the right arm underneath you so that you are lying on top of your arm. Your opposite or no-stretching arm is out to the side, giving you the leverage to stay on top of the arm underneath you. Switch sides and repeat. Next, change this up by lying flat on your stomach and placing both arms out to the side. Rotate your body outward and reach with the free arm up toward the ceiling. This stretch will open up your chest and deltoid.
- Triceps Stretch - Lift one arm up straight up towards the ceiling, bend at the elbow and place opposite hand, above the head, cupping your hand around the bent elbow. Place or use your thumb to press the forearm down, intensifying the triceps stretch. Switch arms and repeat.
- Biceps Stretch - Lace your fingers behind your back, dropping your thumbs downward and rolling your biceps and front deltoid outward.
- Neck/Back Stretch - Lie flat on your back, then roll knees up and over your head. Place your hands on your lower back and elbows on the floor as a stand or platform to keep you from un- rolling. Next place both arms out to the side and roll both knees to one side of your head. Move in and out of this particular stretch slowly and hold each position for the count of 10 to be more effective.
My husband, IFBB top Pro bodybuilder Craig Titus, used to wrestle in high school and took it all the way up to a Junior College level before getting into bodybuilding.
Wrestling takes great determination and a lot of heart. I admire wrestlers for their work ethic and competitive attitudes so in order for you to gain an advantage these things must happen. You must set aside time after each cardio, weight training, and practice session.
The best time to work on your flexibility is when the body is warm and your muscles are already preheated. I have been able to maintain the flexibility I have from my gymnastics days (or at least pretty close) by stretch after each of my routine practices, cardio and weight training sessions.
During my weight training, depending upon the body part I am working on, I usually stretch that particular muscle group and its opposite muscle group in between sets. I would do the following stretches:
Mike, please print this page out and keep it with you at all times, as a cheat sheet if you forget. Remember, stretch after your cardio sessions, and wrestling practices. Consistency will prove to be the key to your success!
[ Q ] I am a 36 year old mother of two. I work full time and I try to stay in shape! I am 5'3" and weigh 116 lbs. I run 3-4 miles 2-4 times a week, spin 1-3 times a week, and lift weights to "build" at least 3 days a week to hit each body part at least once.
I follow the "Body for Life" program and I eat cottage cheese once or twice a day. I want to decrease my body fat so what should my ratios be? I have heard 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight or is it 1 gram per pound of lean muscle. I have heard (40-30-30) and (60-30-10), (protein, carbohydrates, fats). Help! I obsess about calories (some habits are hard to break).
A. Wow, sounds to me like you are a Super Mom! You are very busy and so I do not blame you for asking what the suggested nutritional ratios are since you put forth so much time and effort.
I must first ask why you eat so much cottage cheese. Dairy is a food group that slows down digestion, contains fats, cholesterol, and unnecessary sugars so most competitors eliminate dairy from their diet unless, it is a cheat day.
Next I suggest that you follow the 60-30-10 ratio because your goal is to lower your body fat and become leaner. This ratio accounts for 1500-2000 calories a day.
I usually take in a rough 16-1700 calories per day depending on any extra snacks (rice cakes, baby cookies) I have eaten. This ratio program would equate to 20-30 grams of protein per meal for you, 20-30 grams of complex carbohydrates for your first 2-3 meals in the morning, then switching to vegetables and salads for your carb sources at nighttime.
The 10% fats can be accomplished by have a small handful of nuts such as cashews, or almonds. A couple tablespoons of olive oil in a salad dressing, or a higher fatty protein such as a cold water fish (salmon), or red meat (filet mignon).
Your workout regiment looks fantastic and your weight training mindset is right on the money so I feel that by following the 60-30-10 caloric ratio program, you will accomplish the results you so desire.
Keep on rocking mom - you are a great role model for other women who read this column, including myself! I have my dog Joey; he is my baby for now. :)
[ Q ] I have been fighting a very frustrating problem for a long time now and would like to hear a women's perspective on this. My wife will simply not exercise.
I have bought her a gym membership, made sure healthy foods are in the house, encourages healthy sleeping habits, and even spoken to her about the benefits and sent her articles but they don't seem to have any effect on her. She has been putting on weight (fat).
She is clearly unhappy with her situation because she will not wear shorts or a bathing suit, even in the hottest weather. She is claiming it is all water in her stomach, or that her stomach is swollen, but this is clearly not the case.
I am afraid this is the beginning to a major downward spiral that will result in obesity. Recently I have even tried bribery by offering her $20 for every workout (and my definition of workout is very broad), and $50 if she manages 5 workouts in a 7 day period.
I love her regardless but have given up recently because I get so much animosity from her when I bring up the issue. I do not expect her to become a fitness nut like me by any means, I just think she would be a lot happier if she was in half decent shape. Can you suggest anything I haven't thought of?
A. Elliot, I respect your attempts so far towards this issue as it is a very delicate one. A woman's self image is a tricky thing and men really have to be aware of the things they say and do in reference to a woman's body because we are much more emotional and can easily take something out of context and make it negative towards ourselves. I know this because I was bulimic for 11 years and my self image was a huge part of the problem.
However, without knowing your wife personally, I cannot say that your wife has any eating disorder issues. Maybe she might feel that you are so into fitness that she might be rebelling against it? Maybe she feels that you will someday find someone at the gym, and she might lose you even though you encourage her to come with you.
A lot of women do not like to train in a co-ed gym and need the all-women facilities to feel more comfortable. Other times it is purely a case of someone really not liking any activities at all.
I have a friend like this, but hates his body and will not train or do any cardio to change it. I have asked him, and simply he says," I know what to do, I just feel so depressed about myself that I cannot get motivated to do anything about it."
Keep in mind I have never seen this friend without his shirt on, or in a pair of shorts ever and we live in the desert! It is kind of that double edged sword where the person hates their body; he/she has the knowledge to change it, but does not want to do anything about it. Have you tried talking to her about more personal matters like work related issues or family matters?
Sometimes a person can feel so much pressure coming at them from all sides that they revert inward and become very isolated. Have you noticed this in any of her behavior?
Elliot, I would love to be able to suggest some magic solution in order to resolve or shed some light onto this situation, but without knowing your wife more personally, I feel communication is the best thing for you two to focus on. She needs to tell you how she feels about things and open up as to why she is so against change, but yet feels as she does about her body.
Maybe by you two talking and you expressing to her your fear of her becoming unhealthy to the point of obesity, she will understand your efforts behind getting her to workout. It might sound crazy but a good talk, and I mean about deep seeded issues can resolve the toughest matters.
Just like you said, a woman's perspective on things can be completely different than a man's so by talking to each other, can clear things up. I really hope this helps.