Do you need a personal trainer?
Sure, A-listers use personal trainers to whip them into shape, but could you stand to gain from a session yourself?
Drink Up! The Importance of Hydration
Staying hydrated can help you perform better in your daily activities - especially at the gym.
Gym Myths Busted
Gold's Gym fitness experts Terra Yeske and Robert Reames debunk some common myths about diet, exercise and fitness.
Healthy Picnic Picks
These tips and tricks will help you stay slim all summer long.
Finding your form
Gold's Gym's experts can help you optimize your strength training
Working out with a partner
You don't have to go it alone. In fact, some experts say you'll actually burn more with a buddy.
Have you heard about the recent study linking belly fat to Dementia?
Gold's Gym Fitness Institute expert Robert Reames talks with U.S. News and World Report about ways to to reduce a bulging stomach...and your risk for Alzheimer's.
You've heard the message: Having a bulging belly can be detrimental to your health. Extra weight around the midsection is known to increase one's risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and early death. Now a new study, published today in the journal Neurology, suggests that having a larger belly in middle age may increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.
The new study, which was based on data from more than 6,500 members of Kaiser Permanente in California, shows that "where you carry weight, more [so] than your total body weight, is a good predictor of dementia," says lead author Rachel Whitmer, a research scientist at Kaiser Permanente. "You can have a healthy body mass index but have a risk of dementia due to belly fat." Study participants were ages 40 to 45 when they entered the study between 1964 and 1973, and some were followed until 2006, when they were as old as 87.
Fifty percent of adults have "central obesity," or fat that has accumulated around their midsections, according to the new study. So what can you do to get rid of the extra weight? U.S. News asked Whitmer and Robert Reames, a Los Angeles-based personal trainer and nutritionist for the Gold's Gym Fitness Institute, for advice on how to reduce a bulging stomach.
To figure out how much belly fat you have, use a tape measure to size up your midsection. Pull the tape measure around your tummy at about the level of your navel. Breathe normally and don't suck your stomach in while measuring. In women with a healthy weight, a belly circumference of 35 inches or more represents an unhealthy amount of belly fat, though some research suggests that even a girth of 33 or 34 inches is risky. In men, the risk for chronic disease goes up with a belly size of 40 inches or more, according to experts at the Mayo Clinic.
Originally published by U.S.News & World Report online
Written by January W. Payne
Increase Your Energy Through Fitness
Five Tips to Help You Power Through the Day
Have diet sodas, energy drinks and endless cups of coffee become a regular part of your work day? Next time you go to reach for another caffeine-packed beverage for a quick pick-me-up, remember the five tips below from Gold's Gym Fitness Institute Member and Sports Medicine Expert, Evan Ekman, to help increase your energy level and power through your day.
Let your body do its thing. A consistent exercise routine can have an extraordinary impact on your energy level. "When you are physically active, your blood flow increases to critical organs, such as the brain, helping them perform at their best," says Ekman. "When you exercise, your body naturally releases catecholamine's, which are safe "uppers" that improve alertness, energy, and concentration."
Do what you want! When exercising to increase your energy level, develop an enjoyable routine of cardiovascular fitness. If it's an activity you enjoy, you are more likely to stay with it. Ekman suggests doing this routine for 30 minutes, three to five times per week.
Energy essentials. It is important to fuel your body with healthy foods and the appropriate nutrients to function properly. Ekman's advice is to go back to the days of the food pyramid and make sure you are getting the appropriate servings of dairy, fruits and vegetables, protein, and whole grains. Furthermore, Ekman does not recommend consuming energy drinks when you are feeling tired because they will ultimately result in an energy crash.
Exercise equals Energy. Ekman recommends hitting the gym at the point in the day just prior to when your energy level is the lowest. This will not be the same time for everyone, but your program should be tapered to fit your needs. Try not to exercise just before bed as this can make it difficult to fall asleep at night.
Dream Away. Just as your body needs its nutrients, it also needs its rest. "Exercise places physical stress on the body, which sparks the brain to increase the amount of time we spend in deep sleep, the phase in which our body repairs itself," comments Ekman. Without enough sleep, your body will not be fully rested for the next day. Ekman suggests trying to obtain around eight hours of sleep each night to give your body proper rest.
8 Weeks to a Better Beach Body in Time for Bikini Season
Are you dreading the thought of putting on a bathing suit this summer? If so, you're not alone. Gold's Gym Fitness Institute Member and Certified Personal Trainer, Corry Matthews, provides three tips to help revitalize your workout and achieve your ultimate beach body in just eight weeks.
1. Come out of winter hibernation and hit the gym! "For most, a great fitness regimen includes a cardio workout about five times per week," comments Matthews. In order to increase your heart rate and burn more calories, Matthews suggests adding more intensity to your regular workout by including sprints on your morning jog, or by increasing the resistance on your stationary bike every few minutes.
2. It all comes down to what you eat. It is possible to see a significant improvement in eight weeks, but it really comes down to how dedicated you are to your workout and what you eat, says Matthews. Foods such as grapefruit and healthy carbohydrates, like sweet potatoes, can increase your metabolism and enhance your energy level.
3. Push and pull for those curves. Matthews offers a great workout strategy called the "Legs, Push, Pull and Abs." Follow Matthews' workout below, along with your cardio routine, three days per week with three sets of 10-12 repetitions per target region.
Muscle Building Myths Debunked
We debunk 5 myths that are holding back your gains in the gym.
Is Your Workout Extinct?
Chances are, these are the same rules you lift by right now. And that means your workout is long past due for a 21st-century overhaul. Keep in mind, I'm not suggesting that your current plan doesn't work. After all, at its most basic level, building muscle is simple: Pick up a heavy weight, put it down, repeat. But improve the details and avoid mistakes, and you'll build more muscle in less time, with less risk of injury. Put a check next to today's date -- it marks the official expiration of your old workout.
Myth: "Do eight to 12 repetitions."
The origin: In 1954, Ian MacQueen, M.D., an English surgeon and competitive bodybuilder, published a scientific paper in which he recommended a moderately high number of repetitions for muscle growth.
The truth: This approach places the muscles under a medium amount of tension for a medium amount of time, making it both effective for and detrimental to maximum muscle gains.
A quick science lesson: Higher tension -- a.k.a. heavier weights -- induces the type of muscle growth in which the muscle fibers grow larger, leading to the best gains in strength; longer tension time, on the other hand, boosts muscle size by increasing the energy-producing structures around the fibers, improving muscular endurance. The classic prescription of eight to 12 repetitions strikes a balance between the two. But by using that scheme all the time, you miss out on the greater tension levels that come with heavier weights and fewer repetitions, and the longer tension time achieved with lighter weights and higher repetitions.
The new standard: Vary your repetition range -- adjusting the weights accordingly -- so that you stimulate every type of muscle growth. Try this method for a month, performing three full-body sessions a week: Do five repetitions per set in your first workout, 10 reps per set in your second workout, and 15 per set in your third workout.
Myth: "Do three sets of each exercise."
The origin: In 1948, a physician named Thomas Delorme reported in the Archives of Physical Medicine that performing three sets of 10 repetitions was as effective at improving leg strength as 10 sets of 10 repetitions.
The truth: There's nothing wrong with -- or magical about -- doing three sets. But the number of sets you perform shouldn't be determined by a 50-year-old default recommendation. Here's a rule of thumb: The more repetitions of an exercise you do, the fewer sets you should perform, and vice versa. This keeps the total number of reps you do of an exercise nearly equal, no matter how many repetitions make up each set.
The new standard: If you're doing eight or more reps, keep it to three sets or less. If you're pounding out less than three reps, you should be doing at least six sets.
Myth: "You need to do three or four exercises per muscle group."
The origin: Arnold, circa 1966.
The truth: You'll waste a lot of time. Here's why: Schwarzenegger's 4-decade-old recommendation is almost always combined with "Do three sets of eight to 12 repetitions." That means you'll complete up to 144 repetitions for each muscle group. Trouble is, if you can perform even close to 100 repetitions for any muscle group, you're not working hard enough. Think of it this way: The harder you train, the less time you'll be able to sustain that level of effort. For example, many men can run for an hour if they jog slowly, but you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who could do high-intensity sprints -- without a major decrease in performance -- for that period of time. And once performance starts to decline, you've achieved all the muscle-building benefits you can for that muscle group.
The new standard: Instead of focusing on the number of different exercises you do, shoot for a total number of repetitions between 25 and 50. That could mean five sets of five repetitions of one exercise (25 repetitions) or one set of 15 repetitions of two or three exercises (30 to 45 repetitions.)
Myth: "Never let your knees go past your toes."
The origin: A 1978 study at Duke University found that keeping the lower leg as vertical as possible during the squat reduced shearing forces on the knee.
The truth: Leaning forward too much is more likely to cause injury. In 2003, University of Memphis researchers confirmed that knee stress was 28 percent higher when the knees were allowed to move past the toes during the squat. But the researchers also found a countereffect: Hip stress increased nearly 1,000 percent when forward movement of the knee was restricted. The reason: The squatters had to lean their torsos farther forward. And that's a problem, because forces that act on the hip are transferred to the lower back, a more frequent site of injury than the knees.
The new standard: Focus more on your upper body and less on knee position. By trying to keep your torso as upright as possible as you perform squats (and lunges), you'll reduce the stress on your hips and back. Two tips for staying upright: Before squatting, squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold them that way; and as you squat, try to keep your forearms perpendicular to the floor.
Myth: "When you lift weights, draw in your abs."
The origin: In 1999, researchers in Australia found that some men with back pain had a slight delay in activating their transverse abdominis, a deep abdominal muscle that's part of the musculature that maintains spine stability. As a result, many fitness professionals began instructing their clients to try to pull their belly buttons to their spines -- which engages the transverse abdominis -- as they performed exercises.
The truth: "The research was accurate, but the interpretation by many researchers and therapists wasn't," says Stuart McGill, Ph.D., author of Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance and widely recognized as the world's top researcher on the spine. That's because muscles work in teams to stabilize your spine, and the most valuable players change depending on the exercise, says McGill. Read: The transverse abdominis isn't always the quarterback. In fact, for any given exercise, your body automatically activates the muscles that are most needed for spine support. So focusing only on your transverse abdominis can overrecruit the wrong muscles and underrecruit the right ones. This not only increases injury risk, but reduces the amount of weight you can lift.
The new standard: If you want to give your back a supporting hand, simply "brace" your abs as if you were about to be punched in the gut, but don't draw them in. "This activates all three layers of the abdominal wall, improving both stability and performance," says McGill.
Written by Michael Mejia