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Kelly Ryan's Corner - July 2003!

Kelly Ryan's personal area to answer your questions about getting into fitness.

July, 2003 Issue

Well I must be honest that this is my favorite month - because my birthday is in this month on the 10th! I am truly a kid at heart and I make a huge deal out of my own, husband's, family's and friend's birthdays. Let's discuss more serious matters...

Back in April, I dissolved my business partnership with Pureform Nutrition.

I am hoping that with this public announcement, the confusion caused by the ad in Oxygen and the website will be cleared up immediately and painlessly.

Now on to this month's questions...

Q. How do I get my legs to be leaner? I compete in bodybuilding because I feel that I am too big to compete in fitness or figure. I am 5'7" and weigh around 160 lbs. with a body fat around 22%. My legs are huge! Can you help?

A. Yes, I can help you and here is what I would suggest. If you tend to carry a lot of muscle or body fat in your lower body, then a high rep, medium weight routine is perfect for you. The high reps will force a lot of blood into the muscle and keep your heart rate elevated for cardiovascular and fat burning purposes. I believe in using only medium weight ranges because going heavy will build new muscle, and going too light is just basically spinning your wheels, and will take up time without any results. The key to becoming leaner is increasing the amount of lean muscle tissue in an area in order to kick in fat burning. Choose three exercises for your quads and three for the hamstrings, and do three sets of 15-20 reps for each exercise without mush rest in between sets. This will not allow the legs to recover and force the legs to work overtime to get through the sets.

I would also walk on the treadmill on a high incline for your cardio. Walking at 3 - 3.5 mph for an hour a day will surely lean out your legs. Keep your chin up and keep training hard!

Q. How do you deal with changes in your day to day routine, such as sleep patterns and stress levels? If you don't have a great workout are you bummed, or is tomorrow just another day? When you train with weights, do you always train intensely or if you don't feel up to it, do you go easy on yourself?

A. I deal with the changes exactly just that, day to day. If I am too tired, or stressed out then a workout will only hurt me, not help. Training when you feel sick will lower your immune system and cause you to miss more than just one workout. Time off or rest is healthy for you and allows your body to recover better. A long time ago I had to realize that not all workouts are going to be great workouts. I used to get upset if I didn't get a great pump during my workout, but a great pump doesn't always mean that I am making the gains that I want. One's body might not get a great pump during a workout because they have not consumed enough complex carbs the day before. It is just that simple. The key to success with your training is consistency. If you are consistent with your training, you will accomplish the results you desire.

Q. I have a question about body fat percentages. I recently had mine taken with a caliper and it was 18%. Honestly I thought it would have been much lower. I was wondering what an acceptable percentage for a 19 year old girl would be? Currently I weigh 117 lbs, and if my body fat is too high, then what can be done to lower it? I follow a consistent eating regiment of protein and carbs during the day and protein and veggies at night. I train 5 days a week (split upper and lower body) for about an hour with 45 minutes of steady cardio or 30 minute intervals. How does this all sound? Am I on the right track?

A. Well Amanda, sounds to me like you are doing great! I didn't even understand nutrition until I was 23 and had started competing. Good for you, at 19 you are well under way to becoming a superstar with this type of discipline. Your diet is fine and so is your training and cardio. Don't get discouraged because you have what I call baby muscle. My body fat percentages were always higher when I was younger because my muscle tissue had not fully developed yet. Remember muscle weighs more than fat as well so try not to focus on the scale too much okay. Gage your weight by the mirror and how you feel. The more experienced you become with training and nutrition, the easier it will be to gage your body and body fat. Anywhere from 18-22% is the average for women ages 18-30. You are doing great so keep up the good work, it will happen for you so just be patient. You'll get better as you get older, I promise!

Q. Hey Kelly, I have been working with a 40 year old woman friend on her wide grip pull ups. She is currently doing 8 reps for her first set, 6 reps for her second set and 4-5 reps for her third set. She has been stuck at 8 reps for several months. We tried putting her on the Gravitron for a couple of weeks, to increase her stamina, but she is still stuck at 8 max reps. Do you have any suggestions to help break her through?

A. You betcha! The idea you had with putting her on the Gravitron was great, so we will elaborate on that. What I do for myself is while having support on the Gravitron, I do as many reps as I can each set. This will increase her muscular endurance as well as her strength. When you push a muscle to fatigue and beyond with forced reps, you are then enabling the muscle to withstand more force or work the next time around. This might vary in time for each person, meaning, it might take a week or two of using this method to see any results, or it might take a month. This simply depends on the person, and how quickly they adapt to a training regiment.

Another way to increase your friend's endurance is to do negative repetitions for the last couple of reps, when the muscles are extremely fatigued as well. I will do maybe 17 reps and for the last five that I can struggle through, I hold the contraction at the top of the movement and slowly lower myself down. I try to resist the negative (downward) rep as much as possible, to the point where my arms start to shake, and my lats are on fire. Once I get to the bottom, I immediately use my training partner to help me back up into the top position and lower myself down again as slow as possible. I truly believe that your friend will see some results with either of these methods. Keep me posted and good luck!

Q. I have two questions for you. First I have been eating very well for about a month now and seem to be losing fat and toning everywhere except my lower abs and waistline. After I eat, my stomach bloats and I look like I am pregnant. I just read about this thing called insulin resistance, and people experiencing this seem to hold their fat in their stomachs. Is it possible that I am insulin resistant? Is there a way I could find out? Secondly I took this pump and flex class and was extremely sore in my lower body for 3-4 days afterward. I had to force myself to do cardio to work through the pain the next few days after the class. What is more important, waiting until my legs are not sore anymore, or sucking it up and doing my cardio anyway? No pain, no gain... right?

A. To answer your first question, it seems like you are on the right track to attaining the body you desire. Be aware that most people tend to hold body fat in certain areas... mostly the lower abs and "love-handle" region. Typically when a person holds their weight in their stomach area it is genetic or hereditary from their parents. With this statement in mind, these might be the last areas you lose your weight in. But do not fret, with a good nutrition program, weight training 3 days a week and cardio for at least 45 min to an hour 4-5 times a week, a person's body can totally change. What I would suggest though to be on the safe side is to go to your doctor or physician and tell them what is happening when you eat (the bloating) and after what types of foods. Have him or her check your blood sugar levels and see if you have any sensitivity to carbohydrates. This is the best way to see what is happening internally and to give you a piece of mind afterwards.

Now onto your second question. What happened to your legs was called DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscular Soreness). Your body will become very sore 1-3 days after the initial workout. The best thing to do is take Glutamine three times a day, best if done in a powder form, and get that body moving to break up the lactic acid build up. When you workout really hard, you are breaking down muscle fibers, and creating lactic acid to build up. The lactic acid is what causes you to become so stiff and sore afterwards. Stretching in between and right after your sets or exercises is a great way to reduce the amount of lactic acid build up and maintain your flexability as well. Hot baths at night time, or a jacuzzi will also help reduce soreness. Try stretching while your body is warm, you will feel a million times better the next day as well. I hope this helps for the next time you take such a class! Keep training hard.

See everyone next month! Keep those great questions coming to and keep training hard!