- Go for periodic walks throughout the week (i.e., three to five times weekly for a duration of 30 minutes each)
- Go to bed the same time every night and have a regular pre-bed routine (i.e., taking a bath)
- Avoid eating junk food
- Avoid drinking coffee within four hours of bedtime
- Avoid "energy" drinks (these cause an inevitable crash later on)
- Avoid drinking alcohol
- Avoid spicy foods for dinner (tends to cause heartburn when lying down to sleep)
- Eat fiber-rich foods (e.g., fruits and vegetables)
- Eat more omega-3 fatty foods (e.g., seafood, nuts, dark green leafy vegetables)
- Eat foods with plenty of vitamin-B (e.g., eggs, lean meats, dairy products)
- Drink plenty of water
- If taking a medication having drowsiness as a side-effect, talk to your doctor about switching to a non-drowsy medication instead
There are many things you can do to reduce the sense of fatigue you may feel throughout your day:
Exercise order DOES matter and you would be wise to arrange the order of your exercises using the knowledge gained from this blog.
First, assuming that you're not a beginning lifter, you should determine which muscle groups you will workout for each day that you train (i.e., chest, shoulders, triceps). Once this is known, the next step is to arrange the order of the muscle groups to be trained from largest to smallest muscles (i.e., chest, triceps, shoulders). If you plan on training antagonistic muscle groups (i.e., quads and hamstrings), you should prioritize the muscle you feel needs more strength or size. In this case, for most people, the hamstrings should come first before quads. In other words, you would be wise to train the hamstrings when you have the most energy before hitting quads.
Once the order of muscle groups has been determined, the next step is to arrange the order of exercises. You should prioritize free weight compound exercises first when you have the energy and stamina. For example, you should perform incline dumbbell presses before pec-dec flyes when you work chest. Another example, perform dumbbell military presses before cable lateral raises when you work shoulders. For triceps, you should perform close-grip bench presses before rope pressdowns. On the other hand, if you feel your triceps or shoulders are mostly engaged in the incline dumbbell presses, you should perform a set of pec-dec flyes first to pre-exhaust your chest before hitting incline dumbbell presses.
To sum up, here's a quick general list you should follow to properly arrange your workout program:
Keep in mind that these rules for exercise order are not written in stone. As you become more advanced in your lifting career, you may vary the exercise order based on how your body feels or what you feel is a more effective exercise order. But in general, these are good rules of thumb for you to follow when getting started.
"Processed" is in quotes here because there is no legal definition of the term. The International Food Information Council Foundation defines processed foods as "Any deliberate change in a food that occurs before it's available for us to eat." This is such a broad definition that it could constitute any food that's chopped, conveniently pre-packaged, canned, boxed, blended, and/or pre-cooked. In this respect, processed foods are not necessarily unhealthy. Examples of foods that are considered processed but are not unhealthy include low-sodium canned vegetables and fruit, whole-grain bars containing nuts and seeds, quick oatmeal, and almond drink.
Processed foods generally contain preservatives (e.g., sodium). Does adding preservatives to a food inherently make it unhealthy? Not necessarily. Preservatives serve the purpose of increasing the shelf life of foods so that they do not spoil as quickly. The real issue here is how healthy are the preservatives themselves and what, if any, effect do they have on the body over the long term. Artificial flavors, colors, and assorted chemicals may also be added to processed foods to make the food more palatable and appetizing. Are these manmade ingredients unhealthy for consumption over the long term? Again, not necessarily. But having said this, words of wisdom are in order here: take a balanced approach and eat foods from each of the food groups daily and in moderation (i.e., fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and protein foods) to ensure you get plenty of vitamins and minerals to maintain a healthy life free of disease and sickness.
When many people experience chronic pain (pain lasting from three to six months), they tend to avoid exercise for fear of increasing their pain or causing some kind of damage. These people would rather go to the doctor for a prescription pain medication instead. Guess what? That's the worst thing you can do. Better to engage in some physical activity instead. Exercise is the safest form of pain therapy you can do and the best part: there are NO SIDE EFFECTS other than the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkiller. Unfortunately many of the drugs available on the market today DO have adverse side effects. Something as simple as daily walking is a superb exercise that may reduce chronic pain. Strive to incrementally increase the distance you walk on a daily basis. Strength training with weights is another excellent exercise that may reduce chronic pain such as arthritis as well as back and knee pain. No published study has ever determined that exercise is harmful. On the contrary, there's plenty of evidence from studies supporting that physical activity actually REDUCES chronic pain. So get out there and exercise!
This is a myth that just will never die as long as the media continues to perpetuate the false hope that simply performing ab crunches will magically flatten your stomach. The confusion may lie in the belief that contracting the abdominal musculature will somehow burn subcutaneous bodyfat (the fat found just under your skin). Unfortunately the body does not work that way. If nothing else, remember this: muscles lie under a subcutaneous fat layer. You can perform ab crunches until the cows come home but you won't be able to display a ripped midsection until that fat layer is reduced. The good news is that performing abdominal crunches (or any ab exercise) is not a waste of time because the ab muscles will continue to get stronger and will become more defined provided the ab fat diminishes.
How can you burn away the abdominal bodyfat? Not surprising news here but I'll enumerate the key points below:
Vegetables and whole grains tend to be relatively high in fiber which improves insulin sensitivity. This means the body will more efficiently use glucose for energy rather than for bodyfat storage. Fibrous foods also reduce appetite so you'll likely eat less foods overall. Examples of fibrous vegetables include broccoli (no surprise here), carrots, beans, peas, cauliflower, soybeans, spinach, and sweet potatoes. Examples of whole grain foods include brown rice, buckwheat, popcorn, shredded wheat, whole rye bread, whole grain bread, whole grain cereal, and wild rice.
BOTTOM LINE: To get a flat belly, you've got to be more active by performing cardio regularly (along with weight training) and eating good lean foods that are high in fiber such as vegetables and whole grains. Eating right and exercising regularly are the keys to flattening your belly, not performing endless abdominal crunches (!)
Most people know that eating too much sugar may lead to chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Excessive sugar intake has also been linked to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and fatty liver disease. Now a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has found that eating too much sugar may increase the risk of heart disease, the top chronic disease killer of Americans. It's important to note that sugar in and of itself is not the problem because many natural healthy foods such as fruit contain sugar. Fruit also contains fiber and nutrients which lessen the impact sugar has on the body.
The main issue brought into focus with this study is the increased risk of heart disease for those Americans who eat food containing too much added sugar. Most of the processed foods we eat contain added sugar to improve flavor and texture. The biggest culprit by far is soda. One 12-oz can of soda contains 9 teaspoons of sugar amounting to 140 calories! What harm can drinking just one can of soda have on your health? Plenty. Especially if you drink a can of soda daily--it all adds up over time and can have a deleterious effect on your health before you know it. Other foods to watch out for include baked goods such as cakes, pies, and cookies as well as fruit drinks, candy, yogurt with added fruit, and ice cream.
So what is a healthy amount of sugar you can eat without increasing your risk of heart disease? The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends less than 25% of your daily caloric intake should come from added sugar. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends less than 10% of your daily calories should come from added sugar. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends men should eat less than 150 calories (nine teaspoons) and women should eat less than 100 calories (six teaspoons) daily from added sugar. With all of these conflicting recommendations, what guideline should we follow? Nearly three out of four Americans eat more than 10% of their daily calories from added sugar while 10% consume about a quarter or more of their calories from added sugar. This study found that Americans who get about 15% of their calories from added sugar had almost a 20% increased risk of heart disease compared to diets containing little or no added sugar. The study also found that those who ate from 17 to 21% of their calories from added sugar had almost a 40% increased risk of heart disease. Finally, those who ate more than 21% of their calories from added sugar had almost an 80% increased risk (!) of heart disease. So clearly one should eat no more than 15% of their calories from added sugar (300 calories in a 2000-calorie diet) to lessen the risk (i.e., one in five chance) of incurring heart disease.
How can you track the amount of added sugar you're eating? Simply read the nutrition labels of foods and pay attention to words with the suffix -ose. Examples include fructose, maltose and sucrose. Also be aware of foods which contain any kind of syrup (e.g., corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, etc.).
When you go to the gym, the worst thing you can do is to only work on certain muscles at the expense of others. For instance, most guys like to focus on the "vanity" muscles--the ones you see in the mirror such as chest and biceps. But what about the antagonist muscles such as back and triceps? By neglecting the muscles you don't see in the mirror you risk incurring chronic muscle soreness and possible injury. Remember, it's all about balance. Balance in terms of strength and and balance in terms of flexibility between opposing muscle groups (e.g., biceps and triceps). You'd serve your body well by training in a manner that's comprehensive when it comes to exercising your muscles. There are, after all, over 600 muscles in your body! Be sure to give equal treatment to the muscles in front of your body as well as the rear. Consider a push-pull split routine in which you train only the push exercises one day and then the pull exercises the next day. For example, push exercises include bench presses for chest and overhead barbell extensions for triceps. Pull exercises include barbell rows for back and dumbbell curls for biceps.
We tend to gravitate toward exercises and stretches that we're familiar with and feel comfortable doing. The problem is your body most likely needs more than this in order to be pain-free and stronger. Your brain which controls bodily movement has learned to move a certain way in order to avoid pain. The problem is that this "certain way" of moving may not be conducive to your health and well-being. You've subconsciously learned to move in a way to avoid pain for better or worse. The end result: your brain has learned to process an abnormal movement as a normal movement as a means to prevent pain. The idea here is to step out of your comfort zone that your brain (and therefore your body) has adapted to for such a long time. The unfortunate aspect of training from one day to the next is that you most likely do not realize you're exercising within your comfort zone. You've become so used to training a certain way that your body has learned to adapt to an abnormal movement pattern. Remember, adaptation is the enemy of progress. A knowledgable personal trainer and/or a physical therapist may be an invaluable resource for you to realize and then learn how to break away from a faulty movement pattern that may be causing chronic muscle pain.
BOTTOM LINE: In addition to performing exercises you like such as the bench press (which precipitates anterior shoulder tonicity), be sure to include exercises you need such as the pec-dec flye (which encourages anterior shoulder flexibility) as well. In addition, be sure to work the core muscles (e.g., glutes, abdominals, lower back and hamstrings) of your body to lessen possible muscle imbalances which may precipitate joint pain and injury. Strengthen weak muscles (typically upper back, abdominals, hamstrings, glutes and abdominals) and stretch tight muscles (typically anterior shoulder, chest, abdominals, lats, lower back, hamstrings, hip flexors, and calves). Heeding this advice will save you years of needless chronic pain due to muscle imbalances.
Back pain, particularly lower back pain, can strike at any time. Maintaining or increasing the strength of the muscles of the back can prevent or at least lessen the severity of back pain. Here are some exercises you can do outside the gym to keep your lower back healthy and pain-free:
Note: Perform 1 - 3 sets of 12 - 15 reps of each exercise.
This list of exercises is by no means exhaustive but is comprehensive in terms of strengthening the core muscles (i.e., abdominals, lower back, gluteals, and hamstrings) of your body. Performing several of these exercises 3 to 5 times per week will sufficiently strengthen your core, reducing the risk of lower back injury and ameliorate the severity of lower back pain.
The answer is neither exercise is better than the other. Rather, the more appropriate question should be: Which exercise is more appropriate for you to better achieve your fitness goal?
First, let's clarify the difference between a compound and an isolation exercise. A compound exercise is any exercise in which MULTIPLE JOINTS are involved in the movement of said exercise. For example, a bench press is a compound exercise because the shoulder and elbow joints are involved in the movement. A leg press is also a compound exercise because the hip and knee joints are involved in the movement. Other compound exercises include squats, pullups, pushups, and lunges. An isolation exercise is any exercise in which ONLY ONE JOINT is involved in the movement of said exercise. For example, a cable flye is an isolation exercise because only the shoulder joint is involved in the movement. A stiff-legged deadlift is an isolation exercise because only the hip joint is involved in the movement. Other isolation exercises include dumbbell curls, barbell overhead extensions, leg extensions, and leg curls.
Here are the benefits of performing compound exercises in your workout:
Here are the benefits of performing isolation exercises in your workout:
Now that you know the benefits of performing either compound or isolation exercises, let's get back to the original question posed before: Which exercise is more appropriate for you to better achieve your fitness goal(s)? Here are some examples of fitness goals and the recommendations:
If only this were the case, the mortality rate of people would be a lot less than it is now. Unfortunately, going to the gym will NOT significantly counteract the adverse effects of being sedentary all day (i.e., working at a job which requires one to sit behind a desk). Increasing the duration and/or intensity of your workout will do little to ameliorate the deleterious effects (e.g., obesity, diabetes, etc.) of sitting all day. Your best bet would be to increase the frequency of your workouts instead (i.e., exercise more days during the week). Blood vessel function cannot be significantly improved with minimal exercise to combat a lifestyle of sedentary behavior. Sitting excessively will lower your HDL (the good cholesterol) as well as raise your triglyceride and blood sugar levels--a recipe for heart disease among other chronic lifestyle-related diseases. If you work at a job that requires prolonged sitting, be sure to get up out of your chair at least once every hour and go for a brief walk. Your blood vessels will thank you!