Principles for Application of This Book

Although everything presented in this book applies regardless of what your health or fitness goal is, there are going to be a few modifications due to your current health and fitness level and your priorities.  Your application of this information is going to be different if your main goal is to be able to walk up stairs without difficulty rather than wanting to gain twenty pounds.

The following is a simple algorithm for determining what you need to pursue and how to do it.

Step 1: Determine Where You Are

Now that you’ve decided to start a fitness program, you must understand what health level you are currently at.  This is determined by things like your age, your cholesterol levels, your blood pressure, your blood sugar levels, your level of current activity, whether you smoke or not, your weight, and your family’s history of disease.

Before beginning an exercise program, you need to get clearance from a doctor.  Even if you think you’re healthy, there is always a chance that there is an underlying problem that you don’t know about.  The “American Heart Association and American College of Sports Medicine’s Health/Fitness Facility Pre-Participation Screening Questionnaire” is a good guideline.
http://www.obesityhelp.com/forums/fitness/cmsID,2431/mode,content/
The number one rule of health and fitness is to use your head.  If you’re going to take a risk by starting exercise without knowing your beginning health status, you’re literally putting your life in jeopardy.  Your chances of dying of a heart attack are much greater while exercising.  Although regular exercise will later decrease your chance of having a heart attack, you must be intelligent about progressing at a relatively slow rate in order to accomplish your primary goal: be healthy.  If you push too fast or even push at all with high blood pressure, there’s a chance your heart could rupture, and you could bleed to death.  I really don’t say this to scare you.  I simply say this because getting checked by a doctor is absolutely essential if you are unsure at all about your health.  It’s slightly inconvenient, but it may save your life.

Step 2: Determine Where You Want To Be

Regardless of your goal, we will always want to increase your motor control, probably increase your muscle mass, and probably decrease your fat mass.  However, you have to decide which of these three objectives is the most important to you at this time.

What’s your main motivation for choosing this fitness program?  If it’s to lose weight, you probably need to focus on increasing your muscle mass and decreasing your fat mass.  If you’re elderly or just coming out of physical therapy and want to be able to do activities of daily life again, you’ll need to work on motor control and increase your muscle mass.

Essentially, if you need to focus on activities of daily life, then we need to hone in on the types of exercises for activities of daily life.  We won’t neglect gaining muscle mass and potentially losing fat mass, but it’s not the focus.  We’ll probably keep your eating about the same.

If you need to lose weight, then we’ll focus on resistance exercise to build muscle mass in order to increase your metabolism.  On top of that, we’ll also focus on an appropriate level of cardiovascular training.  Exercises for activities of daily life will still be included, but they are not the main issue.  Rather than eating less, you will focus on eating more fruits and veggies.  These foods will help you still be able to eat the same amount, but they since they are low in calories and rich in fiber, they will make you feel full and lose fat.

If you need to gain weight, then we’ll focus on exercise to build muscle mass.  We’ll do enough cardiovascular training to keep your heart healthy, but it will be at the minimum we can get by with.  Exercises for activities of daily life will still be included, but they will not be the focus.  Lastly, you will eat more in order to provide the calories your body needs to create the extra muscle.  In order to do this, you’ll focus more on starchy vegetables and grains.  You need slightly more protein, but you won’t have much trouble getting it.

Step 3: Figure Out Your Short-term Goals

As far as getting there is concerned, you’ll have to take where you desire to be and break it down into smaller, step-wise goals. It is best to make goals for gaining or losing weight no more than two pounds per week.

Step 4: Develop a Plan for the Achievement of Your First Short-term Goal

Now, we’re into the meat of why this book was written.  First, we’ll go over direct application of nutrition.  Although each application is fairly simple, nutrition is probably the simplest.

Nutrition

Frankly, the application of nutrition information is as simple as following the five steps laid out earlier:
1. Plan Your Meals
2. Eat a Variety of Foods
3. Focus on carbohydrates (plant-based foods)
4. Limit Your Intake of Sugar and Fat
5. Don’t Worry About Protein

Now, the only things on top of that are

1. If you want to lose weight, then subtract about 250 to 500 calories out of your diet.
2. If you want to gain weight, then add about 250 to 500 calories into your diet.

Done.  That’s the essence of everything you need to know about how to apply today’s most current research in nutrition.  As long as you’re following these steps, you’re applying pretty much everything that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends.  Any further research on your part would be primarily to answer the questions of “Why should I eat this?” rather than “What should I eat?”.  Further inquiries should be started at http://www.eatright.org/

Resistance Training

Resistance training is any exercise that puts muscles under extra stress in order to make them adapt.  Also, since we have resistance training for muscle building and resistance training for activities of daily life, it is imperative to include both.

For the sake of simplicity and logic, we have broken down every exercise into pushing, pulling, or legs.  In addition, we have broken down every exercise into muscle building or activities of daily life.  In order to achieve optimal benefit for a beginner, the ACSM recommends training two or three days a week using 8 – 10 exercises with 8 – 12 repetitions and being sure to train the whole body at each session.

My take on that is if we are using 8 – 10 exercises, we should balance them evenly between legs, pushing, and pulling.  So, we’ll have three leg exercises, three pushing exercises, and three pulling exercises.  Also, I believe that for most people, a lack of muscle mass is a greater problem for their health than a lack of motor control.  This is because America’s population is two-thirds overweight and one-third obese.

Consequently, I believe it is most intelligent to focus on stabilized exercises for building muscle mass in order to increase people’s metabolisms.  With that in mind, it makes sense to dedicate two out of every three exercises for each muscle group to training for muscle mass.  So, if we take legs as an example, it makes sense to me to use two muscle-building exercises and one activities of daily-life exercise.  Such a creation would be something like this:

Exercise 1.  Muscle-building focus.  Squats.
Exercise 2.  Muscle-building focus.  Dumbbell Front Squats.
Exercise 3.  Activities of daily-life focus.  Anterior reaches.

And then, we’ll apply that model to pushing and pulling as well.  We’ll train the whole body at each session, use three exercises for each muscle-group (pushing, pulling, and legs), and of those three exercises, two will be muscle-building focused and one will be activities of daily-life focused.

However, there will be instances where people need to focus more on learning motor control than they need to focus on muscle-building.  A lot of these instances are elderly individuals, rehabilitation patients, and high-level athletes who already have all of the muscle mass they want.

Although the high-level athletes won’t fall under the category of “beginner”, so they would be training more days using more advanced methods, I still think the principle of focusing more on motor control will benefit them.  As far as the elderly and rehabilitation patients go, we would still use the same template of two or three days a week, 8 to 10 exercises, and one set of each with 8 to 12 repetitions.  However, this time we’ll make it more motor control/activities of daily life focused than muscle building focused.  So, two exercises out of each series of three will be focused on activities of daily life and one exercise will be focused on muscle building.  For example:

Exercise 1.  Muscle-building focus.  Squats (add weight once they have mastered their body weight).
Exercise 2.  Activities of daily-life focus.  Single-legged Squats (as much as they can. Even if that means just standing on one leg without any movement at the hip or knee).
Exercise 3.  Activities of daily-life focus.  Anterior reaches.

Cardiovascular Training

The application of cardio essentially boils down to three things.

1. Start out conservatively!  Err on the too easy side rather than the too hard side.  If you start at walking slowly for twenty minutes, that’s fine.

2. Increase your duration before you increase your intensity.  In order to progress as safely as possible, you should increase how long you walk before you increase how fast you walk/jog/run.

3. Focus on total fat burned rather than percentage of fat burned.  All of the talk about a “fat burning zone” is simply based on percentages.  So, yes.  Walking slowly does burn a higher percentage of fat than walking quickly does.  However, do you care about what those percentages are or do you just want to lose the most fat you can safely lose in a given amount of time?  If you want to lose the most fat you can, you need to work at a level that is relatively difficult for you.  This will also give you heart benefits as well in order to substantially decrease your risk of heart disease.

For the rest of “The Simplified Science of How to be Healthy” go here.


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