Friday, November 25, 2011

A Master Plan for Nutrition


First let me say that I have no degree or formal training in nutrition (or grammar for that matter) so be warned! I am not only an un-reliable source of "legitimate" nutrition information," but I lost the 5th grade spelling bee, for failing to capitalize the (I) in indian.

Nutrition is a HOT topic for fitness enthusiasts at any age. Even those 'less than enthused' are interested in learning how to "eat better." Over the years I've learned a couple of things about food, drink and how to put it all together. Here is what I've discovered:

Drink MORE Water - If you fail to adhere to this primary rule, nothing else will matter. Water is the most important nourishment you can put into your body.
Eat MORE Plants - Or at least less food that comes from plants. Vegetables are the most abundant source of nutrients. "Enriched" foods that come in a box, can, or any kind of packaging should be greatly minimized in your diet!

The fewer the ingredients on a package - the better! Why are you eating something that you can't even pronounce?

Lean Proteins are Good - This does not include 'turkey bacon' or similar! Fish, Eggs, Lean Beef, Skinless Poultry, & Legumes provide ESSENTIAL Amino Acids that your body needs to perform & function at optimal levels.
Fruit - Along with Nuts & Healthy Fats, Yogurt & Dairy are all "OK" (Allergies Permitting) but should be a small part of your daily intake.
Grains - I enjoy pizza, pasta, and a good piece of bread as much as anyone, but the nourishment provided is basically a ZERO. Even Oatmeal isn't as HEALTHY as it's made out to be. If you do slow-cook 'Rolled Oats' and sprinkle in a few Walnuts & Raisins from time to time - it's "OK," but I'm not impressed with the nourishment it provides.
Fatty Foods & Snacks - You already know this, but for the few that don't........"AVOID these!"
Alcohol - Red Wine has its benefits, Beer has its fans, and the Hard Stuff has a following. I guess the important thing is to keep it all to no more than 2 servings each night. Unless you work the night-shift? Then I suggest drinking during the day!

In your 20's you can eat & drink anything you want and still look & feel great.

In your 30's you can still eat all you want of certain foods.

In your 40's you can still remember a time when you loved 'Egg Rolls.'

Supplements & Vitamins:

As I mentioned earlier, the best supplement to your current nutrition is to Drink MORE Water. If you fail to do that or the foundation for your nutrition isn't strong (see above) then money spent on Supplements & Vitamins are a waste of money.

If your nutrition is strong there are supplements that you may wish to consider:

Fish Oil containing Omega 3 - Helps to reduce inflammation which is the cause of most pain & disease.
Liquid Vitamin, Mineral, Digestive Enzyme, & Herbal Complex - In liquid form this is more easily absorbed & digestible.
Chondroitin & Glucosamine - Assists in joint health & mobility.

I have a hard enough time counting to "10" so the idea of counting calories has never appealed to me. What I have discovered is that when I nourish my body with MORE Water, Plenty of Vegetables, Lean Protein, and some Fruit & Nuts I have the sustained energy to not only work all day but to train & compete at competitive levels.

My Bottom Line:
Drink MORE Water, eat good food, use supplements wisely and trust me you'll look, feel, & BE your BEST.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Master Plan for Fitness in Your 40's

Let's start with the basics. Most fitness or exercise programs aren't age specific but rather general in suggestion. YES, the body has primary movements that it should be able to perform at any age (Flexion, Extension, Rotation, Level Changing, Pushing & Pulling) but at 40 years of age the body quite simply has different 'needs' than that of a 20 or 30 year old.

At 20 years of age you can pretty much lose an appendage and grow a new one within a season (much like a stone crab.) In your 30's there are few aches & pains that a good night sleep and Advil can't fix. Once you hit 40 however, you start asking the serious questions like "So Doctor, what do you think?"

Currently, the conventional thinking is that a greater emphasis on aerobic/cardiovascular fitness should be emphasized. I completely disagree. As we age, we maintain cardiovascular fitness much more easily while losing muscular strength & power much too readily. I'm not advocating an abandonment of aerobic activities, I'm simply recognizing that we need to have a healthy appreciation for strength & structural integrity. In my opinion 3 days a week of strength training exercises (see below) along with 3 days a week of aerobic/cardiovascular fitness training is optimal for not only physical betterment, but for combating disease, aging, and weight gain.

If you are new to exercise you might think this sounds like a lot. If you are an avid exerciser or an ex-athlete you will likely think it's not enough. What I suggest is that you save judgement until you do it, then your opinion will have much more credibility. Sound fair? Good. Now let's get to work!

Always start with mobility exercises to loosen up your joints and prepare your body for the movements to follow. A greater emphasis should be placed on joint mobility. Especially of the hips & upper back.

Mobility Warm-Up:
- Cat & Camel
- Hip Circles
- T Spine Rotations
- Cobra Stretch

*I'm not a fan of 'reps' to warm-up. The number of 'reps' it takes to feel fluid & loose is always the right amount.

"Movement Prep" is a term that has grown in popularity. What really matters is that the body is prepared to move. How this is best achieved will likely be subject for debate for some time?

Movement Prep:
- Bird Dog x 15 per side
- Side Plank Ups x 10 per side
- Bicycle Maneuver x 20 reps
(repeat 2x)

Strength training should be performed with your feet on the ground whenever possible. On the field, on the road, or in life, we seldom are asked to exert force from the seated position.

Strength Training:
- Squats, Lunges, or Step Ups x 10-15 reps
- Pullups, Cable/Band Row, DB Row x 6-10 reps
- Deadlift, Single Leg Reach, Back Extension x 6-10 reps
- Pushups, Band Press, DB Press x 6-10 reps
- Cable/Band Chops, Twists, Reverse Chops x 6-10 reps
(repeat 2-3x)

"Core Training" is another term that has grown in popularity. This simply is defined as your ability to maintain a neutral spine under stress. The core is less about muscles and more about a relationship to stabilize the body when exerting force.

Core Exercises:
- Prone Plank x 15'' - 60''
- Supine Bridge / Plank x 15'' - 60"
- Standing Core Press using Cable/Band x 10" - 20"
(repeat 2x)

I mentioned this earlier but as we age we maintain our aerobic fitness at the expense of our muscular fitness. We also loose our anaerobic power at a significant rate. This needs to be addressed in our conditioning.

- 20" hard rowing/punching w/ 10" rest x 6-10
- 100 yd sprints w/ full recovery x 6-8
- 8 minutes @ 85%+ Heart Rate (Cycle, Row, Run, ARC/Elliptical)

Recovery is the most underrated aspect of most fitness programs. While many recovery & regeneration methods exist, myofascial release or foam rolling is perhaps the one within the means of most.

Foam Roll the following:
- Posterior including Extensions of the Thoracic Spine
- IT Band
- Quadriceps & Hamstrings
- Feet (using a Tennis or Lacrosse ball)

*Like in the warm-up - I'm not interested in a certain time or number As long as it takes to feel fluid & loose is always the right amount.

Aerobic exercises are fun. Cycling, Running, Dance, or Martial Arts all benefit our Cardiovascular system and give us the joy of play (something we don't get enough of at any age.)

* Limit running time to 20-30 minutes & cycling time to 60-90 minutes. Endurance athletes or those preparing for an event will typically go much longer - more frequently but for 'fitness' goals it's not necessary. Train Smart then Go Live Your Best Life!

Frank Pucher
CEO, Fitness 121 Personal Training
Platinum Level Coach - Todd Durkin Mastermind

Fitness 121
5 Becker Farm Rd. Roseland, NJ 07068
Office: 973.535.1177
Named "Best Exercise Studio" 2010 & 2011 - New Jersey Monthly Magazine.