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Breaking Down…and Building Up

Although I strive to keep my body strong and healthy…however, like many individuals and athletes, I am very prone to ankle sprains. Unfortunately, recently I suffered another bad sprain. This recent accident left me unable to walk well for about three days and unable to exercise for almost two weeks. These types of injuries can be common and are critical to your activity. So what happens when I can exercise again? What are my muscles doing during this time? AND most importantly…how can i prevent re-injury?

With any injury or muscle injury these are very important questions to ask your self. It’s important to know the difference between a Strain (muscles) and a Sprain (ligament) in order to treat the injury and recover. Both these resources offer explanations on each and tips to follow in order to recover. The article from Sports Med focuses on ankle sprains specifically while the Penn State College of Medicine discusses Muscle strains. In either case…one major important factor to remember is RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). RICE is a simple acronym that can get you on your way to a fast recovery and maximizing your muscles!

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Filling up with Fuel

What goes into your body is a major part of maximizing muscle, strength, endurance, and performance when you exercise.  This article on Sports Nutrition from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons highlights the important and basic components of fuel and energy during exercise.

The most important aspect is hydration and water. It is essential for almost every function in your body and staying hydrated during and after is essential. The actual energy and fuel in your body come from the three sources of Carbohydrates, Protein, and Fat.

Carbs-  the most important fuel source and come from fruits, veggies, pastas, and grains (esp. whole grains). These sources give you energy and endurance.

Protein- is important for building new tissues and helping to repair muscles. The amount of protein needed depends on a variety of factors but high amounts are not recommended and can be harmful

Fat-is needed in small amounts. During exercise of low to moderate intensity, fat is the primary fuel source

Remeber…keeping hydrated and eating a balanced diet is the best way to maximize your muscles and support all levels of your body.

“Tri” it out

Have you ever thought doing a triathlon was something only extreme athletes did?….Think again because it really CAN be possible for many people.

Usually consisting of a swim, bike, and run a triathlon can range from one that may last two hours to events that could last days. There are also other versions that include kayaking, stair climbs, and even small events  for children.

Training for an event is something can be extremely rewarding once you cross the finish line. You can start smaller and work your way up, taking it one level of training at a time. Try to encourage friends or family to participate with you and it will make the experience that much better. If you have the time and want to put in the effort…why not go for it?  It doesn’t hurt to try and your pride and your body will feel great!

Check out this website to find events near you http://www.trifind.com/

Free Weights Vs. Machines

Whether you are just beginning to strength train or have been doing it for years, everyone tends to have a preference on their choice of muscle-building activities. This article from the National Strength and Conditioning Association highlights the potential positives and negatives to both free weights and machines.

Free weights can be categorized as dumbbells or barbells while machines are usually resistance training devices with plates or weight stacks. The main benefits from machine is the ease of using them if you have access. They can be costly and a lot to maintain, but if you have a gym membership…take advantage! Especially for beginners, they are safe and can be user-friendly. Free weights on the other hand, which the author of the article prefers, are better for stimulating real life movmements…they use the same types of muscles that one would use in everyday life or athletic use. They are also less costly and take up less space.

It is true that your muscles will grow in response to the load placed on them in either case. I personally like to do a combination of these exercises when I’m training. Free weights are quick and easy to store at home and the gym has great machines that I use on different days. BUT you must consider what is available to you and what works best for your body…personalize your exercises!

Check out the article for more information on the differences of free weights and machines

Climbing up

This past weekend a large group of girls in my sorority hiked Mt. Major near Lake Winnepesaukee in New Hampshire. I had never really done anything like this before and it was a blast!

Not only was the view absolutely amazing from the summit, but the experience up was just as enchanting. There were several trails for all levels and the hike was more challenging for some than expected.

However, after climbing up the rocks, over streams, and sticks and stones…the experience was so rewarding. It felt great to accomplish the hike and was a great work out for the muscles. Needless to say, today there were many girls who had a little trouble walking due to soreness but that means it was great for their bodies…we worked a variety of different muscles, especially the upper legs and gluteus maximus.

As the weather gets warmer, hiking can be a great alternative exercise for your muscles and overall physical fitness. You could try it with a few friends or family members or a large group…either way if you keep a positive attitude your bound to have a great time!

Check out this website for information on Mt. Major or more hiking trails throughout New Hampshire http://www.hike-nh.com/trips/major/index.shtml

Brianne and I working on improving our wellness!

Protein vs Peanut Butter

You’ve heard it and you’ve seen it, so what is with all these new and upcoming protein powders, supplements, and basically “magic muscle builders”…..the truth is when it really comes down to it, for most people it’s almost impossible to look like some of the guys advertised even with a lot of protein(that can only hurt your body more)!

It’s questionable as to what you really should be eating (or taking for that matter) after a work out. Is there really a difference between Whey Protein for example and just plain old peanut butter? These two websites high light some important similarities/truths and major differences. The first is WebMD and the other is a more questionable website that really focuses on protein powders. It is interesting to compare the two and although the first is short and simple, it is much more straight forward and basic

The important thing we do know is that food is important post-work out. As both websites state, a combination of both protein and carbs,in addition to water are important for your body to restore its glycogen stores, restore energy, and help the muscles to recover. However the difference in quality and quantity is something that is controversial, especially in the world of muscle builders. Yet, i have a very strong opinion based on sticking with the basics and simple nutrition to maximize your workout to the fullest!

The dreaded push-up

For most…the idea of a push-up is pretty common knowledge, however the question is do you actually know the correct form for a push-up?

The push-up or modified push-up (with knees on the floor) can be great for your biceps, triceps, multiple other muscles in your arms, chest, and even your abdominal muscles if it is done correctly. Yet if done incorrectly, you could injure your back or be wasting your time because the muscles may not be targeted.

This video by Les Whitley, a trainer who is a director of one of the Velocity Sports Performance franchises, demonstrates the proper way to do a push-up and how to progress.

You can check out some more how-too videos from Les as well as the Velocity Sports Performance website to learn about the performance training facilities