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190218 Blood pressure, daily walking and the connection with being overweight

190218 Blood pressure, daily walking and the connection with being overweight

If you are overweight, then daily walking may not dramatically decrease your blood pressure. The healthy benefits that walking has on the blood vessels of a normal weight person may be lost on the overweight individual.

In general, terms this means that your arteries are not widening and the blood flow is not improved with walking, thus your blood pressure may not change to more optimum numbers.

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern conducted a study that analyzed over 35,000 Caucasian men and women. Each person in the study had regular checkups that included measurements of their Body Mass Index (BMI), and readings of their systolic blood pressure each visit. Additionally these participants exercised at each visit so their fitness levels could be assessed. The results may give anyone who is overweight a reason to reassess their situation.

The results were published in the American heart journal and they revealed that a normal weight person had an average of 12 mmHg lower systolic blood pressure than one who was obese. The blood pressure of the fittest was only 6 mmHg lower than for those who were least fit. Still, that wasn’t all they found.

After analyzing the blood pressure, BMI, and fitness data of the participants, they found that physical fitness was an important element in lowering blood pressure in those of a normal weight person. However, it was not as effective of a component in those who were overweight. Interestingly enough, many in this overweight group were physically fit yet their blood pressure was still high.

The take-home message here certainly indicates that diet alone may not help lower your blood pressure. The combination of losing weight, by engaging in regular exercise, and calorie counting will need to be in place before you begin to notice the beneficial effects of exercise on lowering your blood pressure.

120218 Blood pressure statistics and exercise suggestions for your information

120218 Blood pressure statistics and exercise suggestions for your information

By Danny M. O’Dell, M.A. CSCS

High blood pressure is the direct cause of thousands of needless deaths a year. Here are just a few of the facts about hypertension.

  • 878,421 people died if cardiovascular disease and stroke in 2000. Or one in CVD for every 313 Americans who died.
  • 90% of 55 year olds will develop hypertension in their lifetime.
  • 50 million Americans have Hypertension, one out or every five of us!
  • The higher the blood pressure the higher the risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke and kidney disease.
  • In adults over 50 systolic numbers over 140 is an important number to stay below.


  • Optimal: under 120 under 80

See a doctor for any of the following:

  • Pre-hypertensive: 120/39-80-89
  • 140-159 or 90-99
  • 160-179 or 100-109
  • 180-209 or 110-119
  • 210 or more 120 or more

Signs of hypertension:

  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Nausea or upset stomach
  • Vision changes or problems
  • Excessive sweating
  • Paleness or redness of the skin
  • Nosebleeds
  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Palpitations
  • Ringing or buzzing in the ears
  • Impotence
  • Headaches


  • Lack of Exercise
  • Smoking

Weight control

  • Diet
  • Alcohol
  • Loud, consistent noises

High blood pressure causes:

  • Death from stroke
  • Coronary events
  • Heart failure

Mitigating measures:

  • Reduce sodium intake
  • Maintain adequate intake of potassium
  • Follow the DASH diet
  • Maintain adequate intake of calcium and magnesium
  • Reduce dietary intake of saturated fats and cholesterol
  • Smoking-cut back or stop
  • Weight control-get within normal range
  • Diet-follow doctors advise
  • Stressors-eliminate or mitigate
  • Alcohol-cut back
  • Loud, consistent noises-protect yourself


Regular exercise:

  • Slows progression of renal failure
  • Prevents progression to more severe hypertension
  • Reduces all-cause mortality

Exercise methods used to control or reduce high blood pressure:

  • Resistance training
  • Muscular endurance
  • Circuits
  • 100’s
  • Rapid quick sessions
  • W:R of 1:1

Cardio training

  • 5-7 times per week
  • 20-40 minutes per session
  • 40%-70% @ maximum heart rate
  • 5-7 times per week
  • 10 minute bursts
  • Total time-30-45 minutes
  • 40%-70% @ maximum heart rate

“Losing 10 pounds will help remarkably” “If you don’t have time for physical activity, you will find time for illness.” Dr. Edward J. Roccella, coordinator of the National High Blood Pressure Education Program.

050218 Blood Pressure Basics The effects of exercise on blood pressure

050218 Blood Pressure Basics The effects of exercise on blood pressure

By Danny M. O’Dell, M.A. CSCS

High blood pressure is the direct cause of thousands of needless deaths a year. Here are just a few of the facts about hypertension.

Dr. Laura Svetkey, director of the Duke Hypertension Center at Duke University states. “Americans can keep blood pressure low if they: keep trim, exercise, cut back on saturated fats, limit alcohol and sodium, increase dietary potassium and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables”. http://www.bupa.co.uk/

There are positive, and negative, effects on our blood pressure when we exercise or exert ourselves physically and/or mentally.

Blood pressure is the measure of the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. One in FIVE Americans has Hypertension. Many do not even know they have it, thus the term “the silent killer” It is not uncommon for young people to have hypertension.

Blood pressure is measured by stopping the blood flow for a few seconds and then beginning again. The amount of pressure the monitor detects accurately reflects the resistance your heart is pushing against each time it beats. The monitor works in the following fashion:

The arm cuff is placed on the upper arm or forearm. The brachial artery is then pinched off to stop the flow of blood. The circulation is briefly cut off, and then the air is let out of the cuff. The first heartbeat heard is the Systolic and the last one heard is the Diastolic.

Systolic pressure is the upper number in the formula

  • When the heart contracts to pump out the blood. Pressure is highest during this phase of the process

Diastolic pressure is the lower number.

  • The heart relaxes after pumping. Pressure drops to its lowest point just before a new beat.


Previously pressure readings below 130/85 were considered normal.

Previously readings above 130-139 over 85-89 were considered to be in the high normal range.

220118 Burning off the calories and keeping healthy

220118 Burning off the calories and keeping healthy

Physical activity burns calories. The optimum method of controlling your weight is a combination of good nutrition (see a registered dietitian), and exercise. The question now is what kind of exercise is the most efficient and longest lasting in its effects.

Many people use aerobics to successfully to help control their weight and improve their physical fitness while others use strength training to achieve similar goals.

In each case, physical activity speeds up your metabolism for a few hours afterwards. Of course, how much this materializes depends a great deal on the intensity and duration of the activity. Nonetheless, it happens and at a higher rate than if you did nothing at all.

The best way to keep this higher rate of calorie burning is to strength train. The reason: strength training increases your lean muscle to fat ratio. The higher this ratio is the more your body burns the calories because muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat tissue.

Strive to strength train 2-4 times a week for a minimum of thirty to fifty minutes at a time. Do your large muscle groups such as the chest, shoulders, legs, and back for 3-5 sets of 8 to twelve repetitions for each exercise. On the off days from strength training, do your aerobic training for fifteen to forty minutes per session.

No matter which method you choose, consult with your doctor beforehand, keep the intensity up, and stick with it.


150218 An introduction to Tai Chi part 2 of 2

150218 An introduction to Tai Chi part 2 of 2 

There are different styles of Tai-Chi, some are more aggressive than others and involve faster paced movements. Those most commonly practiced utilize gentle slower motions that are suitable for everyone.

As with anything in life there are positives and negatives in the practice of Tai-Chi. The pros seem to outweigh the cons though in these respects:

  • The movements are self-paced and non competitive, which to a competitive person may be a negative attribute.
  • The physical space requirements are negligible as well as the attire. You don’t need a lot of space or fancy gear to take part in Tai-Chi. It’s easy to do; you can do it anyplace and anytime either alone or with others. Once you become accustomed to the activity and more proficient in the art then you can add in your own to make it even more individualized and specific to your needs.

The negatives are almost non existent but do include the usual warnings of possible soreness if the first few sessions are overdone beyond your current physical fitness levels.

Beginning a new activity starts with learning how to do it correctly. In the case of Tai-Chi this will mean seeking out a competent instructor who will guide you in the technical aspects of posture and movement. Pay strict attention to your breathing and body position throughout the training session. Develop the ability to perform the motions effortlessly and without conscious thought. Doing so helps avert muscle strains and damaged joints.

Tai-Chi classes are taught throughout the world. In the United States contact your local senior center, the YWCA or YMCA or check with the gyms in your area. You can even look it up on the internet; there are scores of sites listed.

080218 An introduction to Tai-Chi part 1 of 2

080218 An introduction to Tai-Chi part 1 of 2

Tai-Chi is an ancient art that uses a series of gentle continuous movements which place an emphasis on joint leverage based on coordination and relaxation instead of muscular tension. Practioners of the art have discovered increased balance control, flexibility and cardiovascular benefits. The elderly have reduced their risk of falling after learning and applying Tai-Chi training practices.

Healthy individuals also have reported reduced pain while using Tai-Chi as an alternative exercise method along with lowered blood pressure readings, decreased pain from arthritis and the effects of multiple sclerosis.

Progressively self paced, Tai-Chi is a noncompetitive gentle exercise that is performed in a very specific defined series of movements and postures. Each of which flows gracefully and slowly from one to another without a pause.

A major benefit to older people is the reductions in falls that accompany the art of Tai-Chi due to the increased enhancement of their balance and coordination skills. Since these movements are low impact they place minimal stress on the joints and muscles which is ideal in some situations for those with advanced arthritis or osteoporosis.

Anecdotally the relationship of Tai-Chi to reduced stress, increased flexibility, improved muscle strength and definition along with the development of greater energy, stamina and agility are well documented. These benefits all contribute to a greater sense of well being. However the art has not been scientifically studied until recently. The findings, thus far, are supportive of the anecdotal reports.

The scientific research into Tai-Chi have indicated reduced anxiety and depression, improved balance and coordination which helps to reduce falls in those prone to falling and improved sleep patterns. The time spent in sleeping was found to be longer and with greater alertness reported during the following day.

Practicing Tai-Chi was shown to slow bone loss in post menopausal women an especially important issue to those with osteopenia or osteoporosis. It also reduced high blood pressure and improved cardiovascular fitness along with providing relief from chronic pain. All of these healthy benefits made for better daily living functioning.

020118 Boosting your insulin response with increased lean muscle mass

020118 Boosting your insulin response with increased lean muscle mass

A brief snapshot of Insulin resistance and why it is important to avoid.

This condition causes the body’s muscles, fat and liver cells to improperly respond to insulin. The pancreas makes the hormone, insulin. This hormone helps the cells take in and use glucose which in turn is a fuel used by the body to function. If there is not enough circulating insulin, excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream and increases the potential for developing diabetes. It is in everyone’s best interest to have as much lean muscle mass as possible to possibly avoid this serious medical condition, especially as you get older.

One of the unwelcome conditions of aging is muscular frailty, also known as sarcopenia[1]. Without strong muscles, coordination and balance problems begin to appear. These problems may be held at bay by greater lean muscle mass. A new study reports that increasing skeletal muscle mass by as little as 10%, is also associated with an 11% reduction in the body’s resistance to insulin and a 12% lower risk of developing transitional, prediabetes or diabetes.

Researchers from the University of California Los Angeles look at the data and 13,644 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Since these people were involved in the study between years of 1988 to 1994, the research is somewhat old. However when the muscle mass of one quarter of the participants was compared between those with the most muscle mass and those at the bottom with the least muscle mass, those with the greatest amount of fat three muscle mass were 63% less liable to get diabetes.

After making adjustments to leave out those with diabetes, the connection between muscle mass and improved insulin resistance became even stronger. According to the study[2], “increases in muscle mass above even average levels were associated with additional protection against insulin resistance and prediabetes.”

Not only is increasing your lean muscle mass important, but also losing weight helps to improve your metabolic health. Most of us already know that the fitter you are, the healthier you are probably going to be.

[1] Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle mass and coordination that results from the process of aging.

[2] Preethi Srikanthan, MD of the University of California Los Angeles, USA

121217 Balance out your exercise program

121217 Balance out your exercise program

It is well established that exercise benefits us in many areas such as increased self confidence, improvements in our moods, and longer healthier lives. Simply being able to do what you want to do physically and mentally may be made easier by engaging in a long term pattern of running, weight training, stretching/balance, and recreational sporting exertions.

During spring time the runners start hitting the road, especially those who are getting ready to run Bloomsday here in Spokane, Washington. While running is an admirable endeavor, it is not enough to keep your body in top physical condition. Our body needs physical and mental stimulation which is only achievable through the use of a variety of methods.

Cyclic exercise, similar to running, stresses the cardiovascular abilities thereby increasing the capacity to engage in lengthy activities through enhanced oxygen transfer to the working muscles. However, exercising in this manner will not increase the lean muscle mass composition of our body. In order to do that resistance training is necessary.

Weight training helps build strong bones.

Bone density responds directly to increases in intensities of load and site specifically to the greater pressures required to move the load. Adaptations take place within the structures of the bone that make it more resistant to the imposed loads and thus stronger.

Women in particular need this load bearing weight on their long bones, the spine and hips to stave off and help prevent osteopenia and osteoporosis from occurring. Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease that progressively decreases the bone density which in time leaves them weakened and vulnerable to fracture.


It is well established that exercise benefits us in many areas such as increased self confidence, improvements in our moods, and longer healthier lives. Simply being able to do what you want to do physically and mentally may be made easier by engaging in a long term pattern of running, weight training, stretching/balance, and recreational sporting exertions.


Getting stronger helps in other ways too. The strength to recover from a slip may prevent a bone damaging fall. Postural muscles that are strengthened through weight training inevitably lead to improved posture and a reduced potential of lower back problems. Even though strength training is high on the list of maintaining a strong fit body other pieces of the equation are important too. For instance being flexible enough to tie your shoes or even scratch your back is an important part of living a full and healthy lifestyle.

Work the joints normal range of motion each day by following a stretching program. But be cautioned that static stretching performed before a strength training session has been found to lower the power output by as much as 8%. If you are a sprinter, thrower or recreational handball or tennis player stay away from these at the start of your activity. The proper place for a static stretch is at the end of the workout when the muscles are warm and receptive to change. Doing so before hand, is an invitation to injury.

Find a good stretching book; read up on the proper way to stretch and start applying these to your exercise program. Brad Walker’s Stretching Handbook or Bob Andersons Stretching are two of the premier ones on the market and each one has stood the test of time. Even though flexibility is important it is not the end of the line. Maintaining your balance becomes harder as we age.


Prevention begins with daily practice. Standing on one foot or with heel to toe for multiple seconds at a time (60-120) will help stave off this decline in balance. Leaning toward the floor on one leg with arms to the side or rear will change the center of gravity and will change the feel of the exercise. In each instance it is important to have the ability to catch yourself on something solid to prevent a dangerous fall from happening in the event you do lose your balance while doing these.

Of course there are many other ways to practice balance training but this article is not being written to list them all. Suffice it to say balance is a critical part of living a healthy life.

Bodily balance. A physical state or sense of being able to maintain bodily equilibrium

311017 Are you contemplating losing weight or does your spouse just call you Chunky? 3/3

311017 Are you contemplating losing weight or does your spouse just call you Chunky? 3/3

The problem

Nearly every newspaper or magazine on the stands has an article about the obesity problem in today’s modern society. In case you are not aware of the dangers of being overweight here are just a few of the conditions that can have a major impact on your quality of life and on your lifespan. Obesity increases your chance of developing heart disease, hypertension, type two diabetes, cancer, arthritis, asthma, and sleep disorders.

The how much 

A body mass indicator (BMI) is not the same as a body fat indicator. The BMI indicates weight compared to height and is not valid for most athletes or those who are above average in muscle density. The BMI will give guidelines to a person who is underweight, normal, overweight or obese. Being overweight is asking for trouble down the line so this must be controlled before your health begins to fail.

The common formula for BMI determination (in inches and pounds) is
BMI= (current weight expressed in pounds ÷ height expressed in inches X height in inches) X 703.

For example, a male weighing 215 pounds and standing 5’11” would use the equation numbers of BMI= (215 ÷ 71 X 71) X 703 = 29.98

The BMI gives a good indication of the amount of body fat on your body. This relationship varies depending on your age and gender. Most women will carry a higher percentage of body fat than most men will for the same BMI score. As we age, the muscle tends to atrophy due in part to a lack of use, which causes excess body fat accumulation. This does not mean if you stop exercising ‘the muscle turns to fat’ as physiologically this is an impossibility for two distinct cells to morph into different cells i.e. a muscle cell will not turn into a fat cell.

The solution

So what do you do about this turn of events in your life? The short answer is to begin to exercise, but only after speaking to your doctor about your plans. Second, find ways to reduce the stress in your life. Next, a gentle but structured exercise program is the safest way to losing your stomach fat.

If you are short of time and cannot go to the gym for a full session then do three to four ten-minute bursts of cardio throughout your waking hours on your aerobic day. On alternate days of the week do eight to ten different resistance exercises. These too can be split into shorter periods of activity spread over the course of your day.

Two days of resistance training and two days of cardio will be a good starting point towards better health. Gradually build up the intensity of your exercise sessions because intensity burns fat, not gently jogging or lifting light weights for a few sets. Get your heart rate up, breathe heavy and hard (within your target zone of course), and push the muscles into areas they have not seen in a while. In short, put something into it in order to get something out of it-like the fat in your stomach!

Try this routine out for a month and see how much better you feel at the end of thirty days.

On the cardio days do some walking, ride your bike, or even some light jogging. Remember, that when you first begin you do not have to keep up with every hot shot in the gym or on the running course. If you forget to gradually work up to it, your body will remind you of the folly of your actions the next afternoon.
Essentials of Personal Training, Baechle, T. R. and Earle, R. W. Human Kinetics 2004

Waist to hip ratio calculator: https://www.nyhq.org/diw/tools/hipcalc.html


241017 Are you contemplating losing weight or does your spouse just call you Chunky? 2/3

241017 Are you contemplating losing weight or does your spouse just call you Chunky? 2/3 

The problem

Nearly every newspaper or magazine on the stands has an article about the obesity problem in today’s modern society. In case you are not aware of the dangers of being overweight here are just a few of the conditions that can have a major impact on your quality of life and on your lifespan. Obesity increases your chance of developing heart disease, hypertension, type two diabetes, cancer, arthritis, asthma, and sleep disorders.

The why

Recent research has found that stress actually changes your nervous and hormonal systems around so they encourage fat accumulation around the waist. This type of fat is dangerous and can lead to an increase in your chances of developing hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.

The October issue of Obesity Research featured a report by Swedish scientists, which found changes occurred in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal connections.  This intricate system regulates the part of the brain that controls metabolism through the adrenal gland. They also found that men with accumulations of fat in the stomach had nervous system changes that help to keep the bodily functions in balance. These researchers believe that these brain and neuroendocrine changes happen due to a life of chronic stress.

The how

One method of determining where you store your body fat is to use the waist to hip ratio formula. Take a measuring tape from your sewing room or sewing kit and measure the circumference of your hips at the widest part of your buttocks. Write this number down and then measure at the smallest circumference of your waist, just above your navel. As you measure your waist, don’t suck your stomach in, as this will give a false reading. Letting it all hang out is the best stance here.

Divide the hip number into the waist number to determine the ratio. If the number is one or above you are at an increased risk of one or more of the diseases previously listed.

The formula is Waist ÷Hip and anything less than one is good news.

More next week.

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