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Fit Friday's In The Den-Legs & Nuts

by Jennifer Taylor

Here is the latest edition of Fit Friday's in The Den. Kalea Delezenne has written a great article about legs and I have added an article about how healthy and important nuts are in your diet.


Jen Taylor


By Kalea Delezenne,
ACSM -Certified Personal Trainer
MSU Graduate-Kinesiology & Health Promotion Degree 
Trainer at The YMCA Downtown Wellness Center 

If you are like me, exercise provides much needed 'me' time. It is associated with the term 'moving meditation,' in which all thoughts of the day float from your consciousness and are replaced with focusing on the task at hand. I receive self-satisfaction when I hit a new PR (personal record) and feel amazing when I am able to successfully master a new exercise. I would also like to give a personal shout out to endorphins, serotonin and dopamine; you guys rock. Seriously. Without you my workouts would be such a bore. Exercising also allows time for you to physically see the results of your hard work paying off in ‘real time’. This builds confidence and is a great incentive to keep doing what you are doing.

If you belong to a gym there are rules, written and unwritten, as well as words that are not used in every day conversation. (these may not ever make the Oxford list of word of the year; congratulations selfie!, but they are important to learn and understand). If you are new to the scene it may seem like you are learning about a new culture. You are and it is going to take time to acclimate yourself and to feel comfortable.

We are going to cover a few of these terms as well as begin to build up our leg routine over the next series of articles.

•Drop Set- One exercise performed without rest (such as a leg press or bench press), using a lighter weight for each successive set. (You would begin with a weight that you can perform with proper form for 6-8reps, say 200lbs, then you would ‘drop’ down to 175lbs and without resting perform another set of 6-8 reps, then drop to 150lbs etc.) You should be getting worn out by the 2nd or 3rddrop, which is part of the goal as this is leading you to failure and working on increasing muscle mass.

•Failure - in resistance exercise is the point during exercise performance when the neuromuscular system can no longer produce adequate force to overcome a specific workload (when you can no longer perform the movement). It is not that you can no longer perform the movement because the challenged muscle fibers aren’t entirely fatigued at this point, they just can’t produce enough force to overcome the specific load. If the weight was dropped (after a few minutes rest phase) you would be able to continue with the exercise.

•Isometric - this is when our muscles are actively held at a fixed length. (ex. If you are holding an object in front of you. The weight of the object would be trying to pull your arms downward, while your muscles are holding it up. So they are acting on each other with equal force so the object is just held in place.)

Having a basic understanding of different types of training can assist you as you work towards the achievement of your own fitness goals as well as offer you options so your routine is constantly challenging.

Continuing on from the article last week we learned the names of different muscles in our legs and their function. W e are going to take a look at how to begin to shape and strengthen them.

Caveat: I cannot stress enough how important your form is. Your form is important. It helps keep your back, knees and ankles safe. Not to mention helps reduce your chances of injuring your muscles. As much as we like to believe we are made of indestructible matter, we are in fact, not. (although I suppose that is always up for debate).

Forward lunge -- this targets the gluteus maximus, quadriceps and hamstrings. The size of the step you take will determine which muscle is more engaged. The shorter the step activates more of the quad, while a longer step hits more of the hamstring. As you step forward keep your joints in 90 degree angles. This means knees over ankles, and focus on keeping your weight through your forward heel as much as possible.


Lateral lunge -- this targets the quadriceps, targeting the lower section and middle (vastus lateralis) as well as the gluteus maximus. (the lateral or side lunge also stretches your inner thigh) Keep your weight through your heels, and pay close attention to the knee you are bending (flexing) that it is in line with your ankle. Keep your chest up and your weight through your heels, making sure that your knee is over your ankle.

Stiff legged deadlift -- this works muscles in your back that run along your spine, gluteus maximus and hamstrings. Stand with feet slightly apart (no more than hip width). Hold onto barbell, dumbbells or plates at hip level and bend forward at the waist, making sure to keep your back flat. Stop the movement around shin height, maintaining proper form. As you come back up, push through your heels, return to start and repeat. Important notes: keep your back flat, eyes up and think about leading with your chest. Maintain close proximity of the weights to your legs and keep your knees soft; slightly bent.

With all of these exercises be conscious of keeping your joints (hips, knees, ankles, and spine) in proper alignment. Your form is more important than how quickly you are performing them (especially if you are just beginning). It is important to breathe normally. Rule of thumb is to exhale with exertion but if you can't get the rhythm down just try not to hold your breath (counting out loud, quietly to yourself, is a way to force yourself to breathe and helps you learn the pattern). Next week we will go over more terms as well as the squat!


Eat nuts, live longer

By CNN.Com

Nuts are high in unsaturated fats, protein and vitamins, as well as antioxidants.

Hungry? Grab a handful of nuts. Not only are they packed with protein, but it turns out they may be the food for longevity.

At least, that's the conclusion of the largest study to date looking at the relationship between eating nuts and longer lives. Nuts are high in unsaturated fats, protein and vitamins, as well as antioxidants that are thought to be linked to a lower risk of heart disease.

Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School looked at nut consumption and deaths from all causes among 76,464 women participating in the Nurse's Health Study and 42,498 men involved in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. They asked the participants about their nut consumption, including how many almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios or walnuts they typically ate.

Those who reported regularly consuming nuts were less likely to die from a variety of diseases, most significantly cancer, heart disease and respiratory diseases.

In nuts we trust?

People who ate nuts seven or more times a week, in fact, enjoyed a 20% lower death rate after four years than individuals who did not eat nuts. Nut eaters also tended to be leaner, more physically active, and non-smokers.

Prior studies found similar connections between nuts and longer life, but the large size of this study gives the association more support.

The study was partially funded by the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization representing nine tree nut industries, but the group played no role in the research or results, said Maureen Ternus, executive director.

How many nuts does it take to extend lifespan? That's not clear, and the scientists say that the findings don't imply any cause and effect relationship between nuts and later death, but the correlation is worth investigating further.

Nuts are part of the balanced diet that public health officials recently outlined in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans -- the government group advised that adults eat about five to six ounce of protein (which could include nuts) a day.