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The Health Benefits of Almonds

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolAre almonds part of your daily or weekly diet?  More and more Americans have decided to consume almonds on a regular basis.  Almonds are not only a delicious, healthy snack any time of the day, they are also available year round.  When is a fat good for you?  When it's the good fat from Almonds.  Consuming the monounsaturated fats in almonds instead of an equal amount of saturated fats will lower your cholesterol by as much as 45%.  Almonds also have 37% of the RDA for vitamin E, an important anti-oxidant needed by your body to ward off damage causing free radicals!

Furthermore, almonds help reduce blood pressure by supplying a health dose of magnesium and potassium.  Magnesium helps with the relaxation of your veins and arteries so less resistance equals less pressure.  Moreover, eating almonds with a meal can help lower the glycemic index of the meal so almonds aids with the control of high blood sugar.  Whole almonds provide the most benefit but some consumers find lots of benefits in almond milk and almond butter as well.  Finally, if almonds aren't your thing, make sure to try other nuts like walnuts, chestnuts, and peanuts.  Almost all nuts have lots of anti-oxidants to keep your cells and heart healthy.  Good luck and happy health!


Health Benefits of Chocolate and Wine

personal trainer certification school chocolate and wineHappy Valentines' Day!  Believe it or not, there are health benefits to having a little chocolate and drinking a little wine on Valentine's Day!  First of all, chocolate tastes good.  Your mood will definitely improve after just one bite.  It also has been proven to lower bad cholesterol if eaten in moderation.  Chocolate also improves memory in older adults by increasing blood flow in the brain.  Moreover, chocolate has been shown to reduce the chances of heart disease and stroke.  It also contains the very important minerals potassium, zinc, and selenium.

In addition, many experts have lauded the health benefits of wine for many years.  Like chocolate, moderate wine drinking has been proven to lower the rate of heart disease and stroke in many studies; and also proved to slow brain decline.  Drinking wine in moderation can lower the chances of developing type 2 diabetes.  Furthermore, in a study conducted in Iceland, drinking wine lowered the risk of developing cataracts.  In a study for colon cancer, moderate wine drinkers reduced their chances of developing colon cancer by 45%!  One thing is for sure, eating chocolate and drinking wine can only be beneficial if consumed in moderation!  So enjoy a bite of chocolate and raise a glass to your health!


Peanut Butter

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolJanuary 24 is National Peanut Butter Day!  We consume 700 million pounds of peanut butter each year or enough peanut butter to coat the floor of the grand canyon!  A recent poll says there is a jar of peanut butter in 75% of homes in America.  Is there one in your home?  Are you one of millions of Americans that loves your peanut butter?  If so, you'll be happy to read about all the wonderful benefits provided by a huge spoonful of peanut butter! First, peanut butter has a significant amount of protein.  Many studies have confirmed that most athletes do not consume enough protein.  Furthermore, the protein, fiber, and unsaturated fats will help suppress your appetite which could lead to weight loss if that is your goal.

Moreover, peanut butter is a good source of potassium and anti-oxidants like vitamin E which aid in the fight against high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.  You can consumer peanut butter in a variety of ways.  Most people eat peanut butter in sandwiches but it's also become a staple in many protein smoothies as well.  Although smoothies require a blender, peanut butter sandwiches are easy to carry in a gym bag and make great pre-workout and post-workout snacks.  So the next time you're craving peanut butter, add some to your workouts!  Happy Health!


Setting Goals for 2017

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolDo you have health and fitness goals in place for 2017?  If so, now is the time to take action to ensure success.  The best thing to do to ensure success is to utilize S.M.A.R.T. goals and write them down.  That is be SPECFIC.  Don't be vague and settle for "losing weight" or "getting in shape"; write down a specific goal like losing 10 pounds, dropping 2 dress sizes, or performing 50 push-ups.  Make sure your goals are MEASUREABLE.  Pounds, inches, sizes, push-ups are measureable goals that you can strive for while "toning up" is more of a subjective observation that's difficult to measure and sometimes impossible to attain.

Furthermore, have a plan of ACTION.  Surround yourself with a great support team and write down your goals.  How many times will you work out?  What will your workouts consist of?  What type of diet will you follow?  Also, make sure your goals are REALISTIC.  Losing 50 pounds this month is unrealistic and quite frankly...unhealthy.  Try 10 pounds per month or 2 pounds per week.  Assign a TIME to each goal so you can challenge yourself.  Set up short term goals that line up with your long-term goal.  Hopefully, with these goal-setting tips, you can make 2017 your best year yet!!


Preventing Osteoporosis

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolEveryone knows that resistance training is very beneficial for muscles; but, did you know resistance training is also very beneficial for your bones? Many studies have proven that weight training builds stronger bones especially in beginners and older adults.  Although most of the studies have been conducted for older adults and the prevention of osteoporosis, everyone should be engaged in some type of resistance training.  In fact, bones that undergo resistance training become denser and stronger regardless of age; while bones that do NOT experience exercise stress become weak and brittle.  Your bones will adapt to the weight training the same way your muscles do.  The stress of the exercise signals your body to make changes or adapt.  In this case, resistance training will bring about a positive change to the bone structure.

Furthermore, a proper diet plan which includes calcium and vitamin D will further assist in building stronger bones.  These strong bones are the key to preventing osteoporosis as we get older and minimizing fractures at the more common sites like the hip, spine, and wrist.  Moreover, bone density is site specific; which means runners and walkers may have strong tibias (lower leg bones), but they may have weak bones at the hips, spine, and arms.  Therefore, everyone should participate in some type of weight bearing exercise for all the major muscles and major bones of the body in order to obtain a healthy body including a strong skeleton!


Managing Stress

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolFeeling a little stressed during the holiday season?  You're not the only one.  November 1st was National Stress Awareness Day.  So this year, forget the comfort foods this season.  That will only make you feel worse down the road.  Instead, put aside your worries for 30 to 60 minutes and get involved in some type of physical activity. There have been well over 100 scientific studies on the effects exercise has on anxiety.  The type of exercise that has shown to have the most positive effect is a low intensity, aerobic type exercise. 

Moreover, there are 4 main reasons why exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety: (1) rhythmic nature of exercise, (2) thermogenic effect of exercise, (3) a diversion or time-out from daily concerns, and/or (4) the sense of accomplishment. For those athletes who prefer a high intensity workout, there have been studies showing that a high intensity workout will also alleviate stress for similar reasons, especially the accomplishment of a very challenging workout goal.  So put down the ice cream and head to the gym for a great stress relieving workout that won't leave you bloated with holiday calories   Happy Health!!


Halloween Candy

personal trainer certification school halloween candyDo you still have Halloween candy in your house?  No doubt eating that candy will not only add a few extra calories into your diet but it will also give you somewhat of a guilty conscience.  Well don’t worry, there’s a way for your guilty pleasure to make its way into your muscles and satisfy your taste buds at the same time!

After your workouts, your muscles have used up muscle glycogen and are starving for sugar to replenish your glycogen stores.  An influx of sugar and protein will stimulate an extra uptake of glucose and amino acids into your muscles.  A good ratio is 3 to 1 or about 45 grams of candy (sugar) to 15 grams of whey protein.  You can have this sweet snack before, during and after your workouts!

So remember, fast acting sugar plus a fact acting protein makes for a wonderful pre and post workout snack.  But also remember that you need to resume your normal diet shortly thereafter.  Candy should only be used as a treat AFTER your workout! Happy Health!


Performing the Seated Row

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolThere are two effective ways to perform the seated row.  One way is to start the movement with your elbows low and follow through with a shoulder extension like the picture.  It will feel like you are bringing your elbows down and back.  Try to relax your lower arms so they don't fatigue prematurely.  This row will emphasize the utilization of the latissimus dorsi along with the teres major and long head of the tricep.

On the other hand, another very popular row begins with your elbows high and proceeding with the scapular retraction movement.  This second type of row will emphasize more rhomboids and trapezius especially the mid-traps.  Also involved will be the posterior deltoid because of the second joint action which is the horizontal shoulder abduction movement.

As with all new exercise programs, make sure you have medical clearance before you begin.  Mixing in both movements throughout the week will ensure you have a strong back.  Finally, contact a personal trainer if you have questions on these two exercises or any others.


Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

personal trainer certification school pumpkin seedsAlmost everyone enjoys carving a pumpkin for Halloween, but what do you do with the pumpkin guts, especially the pumpkin seeds, when you're finished showing off your jack-o-lantern?  Did you know pumpkin seeds are a nutritious year round snack?  One ounce of pumpkin seeds has almost half of the RDA of the muscle building nutrients magnesium and zinc!  Pumpkin seeds also pack a powerful protein punch for such a small size.  And if you're looking for creative ways to add fiber to your diet, pumpkins seeds boast an abundant dose of fiber in convenient snack sizes.

Moreover, you can consume pumpkin seeds in a variety of ways.  Most people like to eat roasted pumpkins seeds.  Others will dehydrate them and eat them raw.  You can even throw pumpkin seeds into a high-powered blender with scoop of protein powder for a delicious protein snack.  Finally, if you need a little help falling asleep, try pumpkins seeds for a late night snack.  Pumpkin seeds contain the protein tryptophan which is the famous turkey protein that will help you get some sleep.  No matter how you consume them, you are more than likely getting one of nature's best kept secrets and one of its most nutritious snack!  Happy Health!


Honey and Allergy Relief

personal trainer certification school honey allergiesOccasionally, we see road side vendors claiming they have the cure for your allergies. Their signs boast of their honey coming to the rescue of allergy sufferers. But are their claims true?  I looked deeper into honey and the claims of allergy relief.  The theory behind honey and its allergy relief lies within the bees little feet. As they fly from flower to flower collecting nectar, they also carry different types of pollen on their limbs. When they go back to their hives, the pollen is mixed in with the nectar to make honey.

Moreover, when the beekeeper takes the honey, it has many of the allergens causing problems among the local residents.  It does not have so much as to cause problems but just enough of the allergens for your body to make antibodies. In theory, one tablespoon of local honey per day will help your body make antibodies to these allergens...very similar to a flu shot. The trick is...it has to be local honey. Buying honey manufactured from counties and/or states far away from your hometown may not carry the same pollen causing your problems. Many people swear by local honey so if you are suffering this allergy season...it may be worth a try.  Happy Health!


Caffeine and Exercise

personal trainer certification school coffee caffeine workoutsCaffeine has been used in sports for many, many years.  There have been many studies conducted aiming to prove or disprove the efficacy of caffeine in sports.  Most studies have been done on endurance events with 200 to 400mg of caffeine.  Ivy et al (1979) concluded that caffeine definitely increased lipid metabolism AND work production in 9 trained cyclists over a 2 hour exercise session.  More recently, the research has been focused on combining carbohydrates with caffeine during sports performance.  Ivy et al (2009) did a study on cycling performance after drinking Red Bull. The results once again showed improved performance with no increase in RPE (rate of perceived exertion).  Another study by Gant et al (2010) showed that soccer players improved sprint performance and countermovement jumping after consuming a carbohydrate/caffeine sports drink.  Even more interesting was a study conducted by Stevenson et al (2009) on golf performance.  During a simulated round of golf, even skill movements like putting improved with the ingestion of carbohydrates and caffeine throughout the 4 hour period.  It was concluded that the carb/caffeine mix must also improve focus.

Thus far, little research has been done on caffeine and weight lifting but experts believe it must have a positive effect on weight training too.  At the very least, you'll be alert and focused when you are working out on a bit of caffeine.  As always, be safe when it comes to consuming supplements including large quantities of caffeine. 


Rest Days Between Workouts

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolEach muscle requires a certain amount of time to recover and rebuild.  The amount of rest needed depends on the intensity of the workout.  A heavy workout would require at least 72 hours of recovery.  If your muscles are still sore after 72 hours, you may need additional rest.  A heavy workout with some eccentric training causes more soreness referred to as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) than any other type of workout. A more moderate workout will require about 48 hours of recovery time while a light workout requires at least 24 hours of recovery time.

Another method of resting is linked to the size of the muscle.  Some experts believe that larger muscles like leg muscles require 4 days of rest, chest and back muscles require 3 days of rest, and smaller muscles like deltoids, biceps, and triceps require only 2 days of rest.  The most important thing to remember is listen to your body.  Your body will tell you if you had a light, moderate, or heavy workout.  Of course, any workout for a beginner may seem like a moderate to high intensity workout.  Therefore, beginners should initially workout 1 to 2 times per week and rest 2 to 3 days between workouts.  Once a person becomes more advanced, resistance training workouts can increase to 3 to 5 times per week.  Happy Lifting!


Reducing Muscle Soreness

personal trainer certification school reduce sorenessYou just had a hard workout!  The benefits are great but you just know you are going to be sore tomorrow!  Well the good news is that you can do something to reduce muscle soreness.  A study by Baty et al (2007) concluded that a carbohydrate and protein supplementation before, during, and after your resistance training workout reduced muscle damage more than a placebo alone.  The data showed a decrease in cortisol, creatine kinase, and myoglobin levels in the study group.

Also, the study group seemed to have more energy than the placebo group.  Other studies have concluded that a carb/protein supplement will improve energy levels in exercise participants.  It would appear that a  carbohydrate/protein supplement would be recommended for all athletes looking to reduce muscle soreness and/or to provide energy for workouts.  The best ratios seem to be 3:1 or 4:1 carbohydrates to protein.  In other words, about 30 to 40 grams of carbohydrates to 10grams of protein for a smaller person; possibly 60 grams of carbs to 20 grams of protein for a larger athlete.  This would reduce the recovery time and allow an athlete to return to a normal workout faster than usual.  Happy lifting!


Working Out the Tricep 

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolThe triceps brachii consists of 3 heads: the lateral head, the medial head, and the long head.  Along with the anconeus, the triceps brachii is primarily responsible for elbow extension.  All 3 heads of the tricep are active during all tricep exercises; but, there are some exercises that seem to emphasize one particular head over the other two. In order to emphasize the lateral head of the tricep, perform a tricep pushdown with an overhand grip on the bar with your elbows remaining by your side.  If you would like to emphasize the medial head, perform the same exercise with an underhand grip. When trying to emphasize the long head, you must move your elbows anterior to your spine, such as an overhead tricep extension exercise, a skull crusher, or a French press.

Adding these 3 exercises to your tricep routine should improve the effectiveness of your tricep workout.  Like all other tricep exercises, try and exercise through a full range of motion, and especially fully extend the elbow at the end of the movement.  Try doing 10 to 12 reps to failure to really add size or 15+ reps to tone your arms.  Happy lifting!!


Lat Pulldowns: Anterior or Posterior?

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolThere is an ongoing debate whether we should perform lat pulldowns in front of our heads or behind our heads.  Personal trainers should always consider the safety and effectiveness of an exercise before they include it in a resistance training program. A study by Signorile et al (2002) compared muscle activity in the latissimus dorsi using different hand positions and techniques. EMGs were connected to 10 subjects using 4 different hand positions: wide grip anterior, wide grip posterior, close grip, and supinated grip.

The study concluded that the wide grip anterior (front of the head) grip produced significantly greater muscle activity in the latissimus dorsi than any of the three other grips. Furthermore, there was more activity in tricep, teres major, pec major, and posterior deltoid during pulldowns in front of their heads than behind their heads. Also, most experts believe that anterior pulldowns are safer than posterior pulldowns concerning neck and shoulder joints.  Therefore, it is concluded that anterior pulldowns are not only safer, but this study has proven that anterior pulldowns are also more effective in recruiting latissimus dorsi and other muscles than lat pulldowns behind the head.  Happy Health!


Personal Trainer Jobs on the Rise

personal trainer certification school jobs careerAccording to the U.S. Department of Labor, "employment of fitness trainers and instructors is projected to grow 8 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. As businesses, government, and insurance organizations continue to recognize the benefits of health and fitness programs for their employees, incentives to join gyms or other types of health clubs are expected to increase the need for fitness trainers and instructors." 

Furthermore, that's why so many Americans are trying to transform their passion for fitness into a new career. Moreover, the fitness industry is one of the few growing businesses since the recession began adding nearly 10 million jobs and gym members since 2007.  With the obesity problem in the United States continuing to rise, the demand for personal trainers also continues to rise.  Health and fitness isn’t a fad, it’s here to stay.  Almost every gym in America along with many other medical facilities is looking for certified personal trainers. In addition, personal trainers enjoy their flexible schedule. This flexibility allows for many trainers to spend more time with their families.  Good luck and happy health!


Diabetes in Texas on the Rise

personal trainer certification school texas diabetesToday, 2.2 million Texans have been diagnosed with Diabetes according to the Texas Health Institute which is about 1 out of every 12 Texans. However, a recent report predicts that the number will reach 8 million by the year 2040 if things don't change for the better. The main reason for the high diabetes rate is "obesity."  Currently, 29% of Texans are obese and that number is supposed to increase to 43% by 2040.  As the obesity rate continues to rise so will diabetes. In fact, the report also predicts that Texans will start developing diabetes at earlier ages.

On the other hand, the report concluded with possible solutions and hope for the future. One of the solutions is to increase physical activity along with physical education in middle schools and high schools. The sooner we get involved with preventative measures, the sooner we can help decrease the number of Texans being diagnosed with diabetes.  At PFTA, we are still hoping to makes positive changes in the world with respect to health and fitness. The staff and students at PFTA continue to educate and train adults and children alike.  If you'd like to make a difference, contact the nearest school to suit up against a battle we can easily win!


The Health Benefits of Cranberries

personal trainer certification school cranberriesAlthough most people only enjoy cranberries during the holiday season, this super food can provide an abundance of anti-oxidants year round.  In fact, cranberries have more anti-oxidants than strawberries, spinach, broccoli, apples, cherries, and many other fruits and vegetables.  Moreover, the only fruit that can provide your body with more anti-oxidants per serving than cranberries is blueberries.  Cranberries also pack a punch when it comes to providing your body with vitamin C and dietary fiber.

Furthermore, you can add cranberries to your normal diet in a variety of ways.  One way is to add dried cranberries to your favorite cereal or snack.  Another method is adding a glass of 100% fruit juice that includes cranberries to your breakfast.  Some shoppers buy fresh cranberries and store them in their refrigerator for up to two months!  No matter how you like your cranberries, make sure you include them in your weekly shopping long after the holiday season is over!
Source: WebMD


Balance and Stability Training

personal training certification schoolBalance represents an ability to stabilize and maintain a desired body position.  A balanced body is thought to represent a correct or efficient positioning of a body part or entire body.  Balance training has shown not only to improve balance but also strength.  With improvements in strength come improvements in sports performance. Furthermore, balance and stability training continues to grow and is a mainstay as a cutting edge method in conditioning and performance training programs.  

There are many ways to incorporate balance training into your fitness program.  You can warm up with a few balance movements, use them throughout, and/or finish your workout with balance training.  Always start with easier movements and progress as your neuromuscular system improves. Moreover, once the body is properly balanced, movements are more energy efficient, safer, and feel more natural.  Studies have confirmed more muscle activity in more muscles during balance training with equipment such as the Bosu Ball and stability ball.  Everyone gets benefits from balance training especially the elderly and those just beginning a fitness program.  Good Luck and Happy Health!


Staying Hydrated

personal trainer certification school hydrationIt is easy to get dehydrated in the Texas summer sun if you exercise outdoors especially when the temperature rises to 100 degrees and above.  Drinking plenty of water is essential to staying hydrated.  Water is the most abundant and most important nutrient in our bodies.  Our muscle weight is nearly 75% water. We receive most of our water from drinking liquids but we do get some from food.  On the other hand, we lose a lot of water through exhaling, urine, and sweat in this hot Texas summer.  We wake up most mornings feeling dehydrated; therefore, it is very important to start each day with at least one full glass of water.

Furthermore, dehydration starts at 1% body weight loss during activity.  At that level, studies have shown sports performance begins to drop and an athlete begins to slow down.  A person working out can lose as much as 3 liters of water per hour during a very strenuous workout.  Most experts suggest that a sedentary person should drink at least 2.5 liters of water per day.  Therefore an active person, exercising on a hot summer day, should drink as much at 5 to 10 liters per day!  Proper hydration will help you maintain your workout intensity.  Happy Health!


The Benefits of Stretching

personal trainer certification school stretchingEveryone loves to see the benefits of weight training and cardio exercise but most people forget about stretching.  Some athletes skip this part of the workout because they don't see the benefits in the mirror like they would for weight training and cardio.  Nevertheless, stretching is important as it can improve sports performance and reduce the risk of injury.  Stretching doesn't have to take a lot of time; in fact, you can get a lot of benefit from just 10 minutes of stretching 3 to 5 times per week, but preferably after every workout.

Moreover, a recent study published by NSCA shows a 30 second stretch after each workout will bring you flexibility benefits after just six short weeks while another study proved that stretching for only six seconds brought no flexibility benefits to the test subjects.  Therefore, reserve the last 10 minutes of your workout for stretching.  You can stretch 15 to 20 muscles in those last 10 minutes if you stretch each muscle for 30 to 40 seconds.  If you are like most Americans, the muscles that require the most attention are the pecs, lats, hamstrings, calves, hip flexors and low back.  Pick out a few more of your favorite stretches and you are on your way to a healthier, more conditioned body!  Happy Health!


Improving Speed, Agility, and Quickness (SAQ) 

personal trainer certification school agility drillsIf you or your clients are looking to improve speed, quickness, and agility, you may need to add hip flexion exercises to your leg routine. Most athletes know to train their glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves; but, many athletes forget to train the hip flexion muscle group which includes the psoas major and iliacus. Dean et al (2005) showed that subjects improved both 40 yard time and shuttle times after an 8 week hip flexion resistance training program. There were no improvements in the control group. Results were published by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning. A simple hip flexion exercise is lying leg raises or full sit-ups.

Moreover, you can add agility equipment to your workouts like cones and agility ladders (pictured).  Make sure to tackle these exercises before any heavy lifting...while your muscles are still fresh.  These exercises will improve your speed, quickness, and agility while burning a few extra calories as well. In summary, everyone should follow a total body, all joint action, exercise routine. If you are missing a few joint actions in your weekly routine, you may be shorting yourself athletic improvement or even worse, creating muscular problems that may lead to injury down the road.  Happy Health!


The Health Benefits of Jalapeno Peppers

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolDo you eat jalapeno peppers or any other pepper for that matter?  Well you should because they have a variety of healthy benefits.  Jalapeno peppers have a significant amount of vitamins A, C, and E, which are major anti-oxidants that aid with your body's fight against free radicals.  Furthermore, jalapeno peppers have iron, zinc, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and copper which help maintain a healthy body and strong bones!

Moreover, jalapeno peppers have been linked to several weight loss diets.  Many experts believe that peppers increase your metabolism which will help burn a few extra calories per day.  Also, peppers can help control your appetite or at the very least require you to drink a few more glasses of water :)

Jalapenos are best served raw or sautéed on a garden salad but if you can't eat them like that, feel free to wrap them with bacon or stuff them with cheese.  You'll still get all the benefits of the jalapeno pepper regardless of your method of consumption!


Shoulder Press for Deltoids or Traps?

personal trainer certification school shoulder pressShoulder press does not always target your shoulders.  In fact, most people in the gym keep the movement too high to stimulate the deltoids but rather work out the larger trapezius muscle instead.  The primary action of the middle deltoid is shoulder abduction up to 90 degrees. In other words, your deltoid is almost completely contracted when your humerus (upper arm) reaches 90 degrees which is about parallel to the floor. In order for your upper arm to move any higher, the movement has to be completed by the trapezius muscle.  If you keep the movement above parallel like the shoulder press pictured to the left, most of the work will be done by your trapezius muscle, specifically your upper trapezius.

Therefore, lateral raise is a better exercise for stimulating your deltoid while shoulder press, especially above parallel, is better for your traps. On the other hand, if you perform the shoulder press through a broader range of motion, one where your upper arm dips down below parallel and also well above parallel, you would have stimulated both the deltoid muscle and the trapezius muscle. Another alternative to working out your deltoids and your traps is to super set them with lateral raises followed immediately by shoulder presses.  Happy health and happy lifting!!


Health Benefits of Garlic

personal trainer certification school garlic health benefitsGarlic doesn't just keep vampires away...it also has many health benefits!  It is one of the most popular cooking spices because of its strong smell and delicious taste.  Furthermore, garlic has good amounts of manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, selenium, a little fiber, and a little protein.  Some experts believe it can also prevent the common cold.  One study showed that subjects who supplemented with garlic reduced the number of colds by 63% as compared to those subjects on a placebo.

MMoreover, garlic can help against America's #1 killer...cardiovascular disease.  In another study, those subjects who supplemented with garlic lowered their blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease.  Garlic also prevents cardiovascular disease by lowering LDL, the bad cholesterol.  In addition, garlic contains antioxidants which many experts believe may prevent common brain diseases like Alzheimer's disease and dementia.   Believe it or not, it is also believed that Olympians in ancient Greece would supplement with garlic to  reduce fatigue!  In conclusion, there are many health benefits obtained from garlic and it may also improve your cooking!  Happy Health!


Kettlebell Training

personal trainer certification school kettle bell trainingThe Kettlebell is an old Russian training tool that has been recently re-discovered for full body conditioning.  Kettlebell workouts are said to improve strength, endurance, flexibility, coordination, and balance.  But does a kettlebell workout provide enough resistance to improve strength over traditional weight lifting?  Does a kettlebell workout improve cardiovascular endurance better than traditional cardiovascular exercise?

The American Council on Exercise did a study on the workout intensity on kettlebells versus treadmill running.  As expected, the kettlebell workout was intense.  Heart rate and oxygen consumption increased rapidly.  The results indicated that although the volume of oxygen consumed wasn't as high as treadmill running, the kettlebell workout produced cardiovascular gains as well as strength gains for most beginners.  However, experts agree in order to improve strength and power for your experienced athletes, traditional weight training may be more beneficial.  Furthermore, you will have to incorporate other traditional exercises to target some muscles that kettlebell exercise don’t fully incorporate.  In conclusion, if you are looking to change up your routine, kettlebells will give you some strength benefits along with very good cardiovascular benefits.  Happy Health!


Suspension Training

personal trainer certification school trx suspension trainingSuspension training is a revolutionary form of bodyweight exercise training.  The most popular suspension training device are TRX Bands.  These new devices have many benefits over the traditional types of training.  The equipment is easy to pack and light to carry so it makes the training area very portable.  You can set it up just about anywhere including homes, parks, and other gyms.  Because of it's unique setup, other benefits include agility training and balance training.  Moreover, proper technique ensures that you will also makes strength gains in your core.

Furthermore, there are hundreds of exercises you can perform with TRX Bands: squats, rows, curls, crunches, chest press (pictured), are just a few of dozens of exercises you can perform with suspension training.  Many trainers use TRX bands for total body conditioning.  You can perform a total body routine in less than 30 minutes.  You can do so many exercises in so little time because the transition time is a mere seconds.  In conclusion, suspension training is a great tool for trainers to change things up a bit so your clients can break through plateaus and start seeing gains again!  Good Luck and Happy Health!


Strawberries Pack a Powerful Punch

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolThere are many fruits and vegetables considered super foods and strawberries are high on that list.  Strawberries are members of the rose family and are the only fruit with the seeds on the outside.  Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C; you will get about half of your daily requirements from just one serving.  Strawberries are a good source of folate which help protect the red blood cells and is also very important for pregnant women and the development of the fetus.  Strawberries have also been proven to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.  One serving of strawberries also has 3 grams of dietary fiber which will assist in removing the bad cholesterol from your body. 

Furthermore, 1 cup of strawberries has approximately 254 mg of potassium which is essential in balancing your water levels and keeping you hydrated.  One study even showed that strawberries can ease inflammation which is very helpful for anyone with arthritis.  Nothing beats eating freshly picked strawberries; but, if you need to change it up, try them on your cereal, pancakes, waffles, or in a blender with other fruits and your favorite protein powder for a delicious smoothie.  Happy Health!


Pinto Beans - A Super Food

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolThere aren't many foods that pack a nutritious wallop like the good ole bean.  One cup of cooked pinto beans has 45 grams of carbohydrates (15 of those grams are dietary fiber), 15 grams of protein, and only 1 gram of fat.  They are also pack full of B-vitamins, iron, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium.  Beans also have several health benefits.  The soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol.  They naturally contain no sodium so they aid in reducing blood pressure if very little salt is added.  Beans are also very low on the glycemic index so they help to control blood sugar.

Moreover, the easiest way to prepare pinto beans is to boil them for 1.5 to 2 hours or until they soften.  After boiling, you can add salt, pepper, onion, garlic, and jalapenos!  You can also add bacon or sausage for more flavor and more protein.  Eat them hot and refrigerate or freeze leftovers for more beanolicious meals! 

Worried about gas?  Experts say soaking beans overnight may reduce gas.  Just replace the water before you start boiling them.  Soaking them overnight also makes them easier to digest and easier to absorb all the nutrients this super food provides.  Happy Health!


Six Pack Abs with the Russian Twist

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolYour abdominal muscles are responsible for core stabilization and several trunk movements.  You probably remember to exercise your abs with crunches and leg raises, but are you doing trunk rotations to activate even more core muscles?  One of the best exercises for trunk rotations is the Russian twist with a medicine ball as demonstrated by the picture.  Beginners should start with their feet on the floor while rotating their trunk for assisted stabilization.  Advanced clients can raise their feet a few inches from the floor to activate for core muscles caused by increased instability.  A common error is moving the arms side to side instead of rotating the trunk.  Concentrate on rotating your chest cavity and bringing the medicine ball along for the ride.

Furthermore, core muscles are predominately endurance muscles so the best way to fully activate their potential is to perform endurance sets.  Beginners should start with 2 to 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps while advanced clients can perform 3 to 5 sets of 20 to 30 repetitions.  Because these are endurance sets, rests between sets should be only 30 to 60 seconds.  Be creative and have fun on your next core session!


Leg Press Tips and Techniques

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolThe Leg Press is one of the most popular machines in the gym.  It is a single plane machine which means it really targets the glutes, quads, and hamstrings if used properly.  To use all three big muscle groups, your feet should be placed near the center of the plate.  If your feet are placed too high, you will recruit more glutes and hams than quads.  If you place your feet lower on the plate, you will recruit more quads than glutes and hams.

Another important facet to the leg press is the lower back.  As with most exercises, it is very important to keep a neutral spine throughout the movement.  Some exercisers will lower the weight too fast causing their lumbar spine to curve.  Make a mental note to keep your low back on the pad.  A curved lumbar will produce a posterior pelvic tilt which may lead to low back pain or injury in the future.  So next time you're at the gym and the angled leg press machine is available, try experimenting with foot position.  High on the plate for glutes/hams, low for quads, and wide for adductors.  But regardless of your routine, make sure you maintain proper form to prevent injury.  Happy lifting!


Hitting All Three Heads of the Deltoid

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolThere are many muscles that comprise what we call the "shoulder."  The largest and outermost muscle is the deltoid.  The deltoid muscle is divided into three parts: the anterior head, the middle head, and the posterior head.  For complete muscular balance, a trainer and their clients should exercise all three heads throughout the week.  These deltoid muscles usually assist with all upper body exercises but it's a good idea to "isolate" them with some specific shoulder movements.

You can really target the anterior deltoid with front raises (pictured).  It is best to do front raises with a neutral grip to minimize shoulder impingement at the top of the movement.  The middle deltoid can be worked with lateral raises using dumbbells or cables.  Using cables will also utilize the supraspinatus which is responsible for the early movement in shoulder abduction.  The posterior deltoid can be exercised with bent lateral raises or reverse pec deck.  Focus on moving your humerus back while squeezing your shoulder blades together.  You can have a shoulder day and exercise all three heads on the same day or break them up and hit them on separate days.  Happy health and happy lifting!


Certified vs. Qualified

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification school"Certified Vs. Qualified" those two terms are far from equal. Let's be frank, a certification won't prepare you for training clients.  In order to do a great job—not just an adequate job—you have to accumulate tons of practical and varied experience.  That's why we offer hands on training!  We don't just give you a book to read and a test to take!

Here is a question for you: Would you go to a doctor with an online education?  NO!  Massage Therapist?  Of course NOT!  Let's face it, I wouldn't even let someone cut my hair with an online certification and no hands on training!  The same thing goes for hiring a personal trainer.  Make sure your trainer is certified and qualified to teach you the specifics of fitness and nutrition.  So if you're looking for a certification that comes with hands-on training, you owe it to yourself to request a catalog and visit a PFTA Personal Trainer Certification School.  You can speak with the instructor and several current students to get honest feedback and legitimate testimonials.  You will also get to see the textbooks, gyms, equipment and the curriculum.  Happy Health!


Rest Between Sets

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolHow much rest do you need between sets?  Very few people actually time their rest periods. Most people just guess or start the next set when they feel rested.  But recently, studies have shown that there is actually more science involved than we actually first believed.  The amount of (or lack of) blood lactate concentration dictates the physiological changes in the muscle.

For increased muscular endurance, you should rest about 30 seconds between sets.  Also, circuit training or boot camps are similar to this style: lots of work and very little rest.  On the other hand, if your training goal is hypertrophy (an increase in the size of a muscle), then resting 60 to 90 seconds between sets would be optimum.  Multiple sets of the same exercise along with 2 or more exercises targeting the same muscle group will effectively produce hypertrophy.  Finally, a training goal of strength/power would require even more rest. It normally takes 3 to 5 minutes for complete ATP restoration so that is about the time you should rest between sets if strength/power is your goal.  As with all exercise, beginners should exercise with caution.  Always listen to your body and take some extra time if necessary.  Happy health and happy lifting!!


Train Like a Superhero

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolMore and more actors are training like athletes to give them that superhero body which is ideal for the big screen.  Like many athletes, these actors use a workout strategy called linear periodization.  They will also incorporate superset, compound sets, and circuit training to achieve the exact look they are looking for.  Many athletes utilize these types of techniques to bust through plateaus and peak and the right time whether it's for the super bowl, NBA championship, a boxing match, a bodybuilding show, or the filming of a Hollywood blockbuster.

Linear periodization relies on an old technique where the intensity increases as you get closer to your scheduled event.  But as the intensity increases, the volume of the workout will decrease.  You can easily do this with your own workouts.  For example, pick out a big muscle, multi-joint exercises like squats, bench press, or lat pulldowns.  This month, you will choose a weight that you can handle for 15 reps.  Next month increase the weight (intensity) to a weight you can lift for 10 reps.  On the 3rd month, choose a weight you can lift for 5 reps.  Repeat every few months with a higher intensity or until it's "showtime."  With the proper diet to go along a periodized program, you should have a superhero body in no time!


Resistance Bands and Tubing

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolAre you incorporating bands or tubing?  They're a great way to change up your routine or take exercise on the road.  You can easily pack them in your suitcase for travel and you can do exercises in the car or in your hotel room.  If done correctly, there is tension throughout the exercise, therefore you have to stabilize your body which helps with coordination, balance and it also helps you involve more muscle groups.  There are many popular band or tubing exercises but some of the most popular are squats, lunges, chest press, rows, curls, triceps presses, lateral raises, internal/external rotations, and crunches.

Furthermore, they're very inexpensive.  Bands range anywhere from $6 to $20, depending on how many you get and where you buy them, which is nice for the budget-conscious exerciser.  They're also great for all fitness levels.  Depending on how you use them, bands can be great for beginners as well as more advanced exercisers. You can use them for basic moves or to add intensity to traditional moves.  Bands and tubing come in different tension setting which are usually noted by a color.  Most importantly, have fun using different types of equipment!  Happy health!


Functional Training

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolMore and more people have goals of improved everyday life rather than big gains in size and strength.  A new style of training includes exercises that mimic everyday movements called "functional training." Most traditional exercises involve single muscle groups in a single plane.  Functional training utilizes more muscles groups in several different planes.  While traditional training will enhance absolute strength and hypertrophy, functional training will improve functional strength, stability, and coordination. For example, medicine ball chops (pictured) mimics one lifting an object from the floor and placing it on a higher shelf.

Moreover, you can combine traditional exercises with functional exercises to design a well-rounded routine.  For example, a back squat followed by asymmetrical step-ups OR bench press followed by one-arm cable press.  Just remember, when performing functional exercises, always progress from a more stable environment to a less stable one. For beginners, some of these "functional movements" may initially seem awkward.  However, after repeated bouts of the same exercises, your muscles will coordinate and adapt to the challenge of functional training.  Good luck and happy lifting!


Boost Your Metabolism

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolMany people have decided to lose weight this year.  Most of you all have chosen a diet to reach their weight loss goal.  Some of you all have chosen to began an aerobic exercise program.  But if you really want to boost your metabolism and reach your weight loss goal, it's time to incorporate resistance training into your diet and cardio plans.

Resistance training is NOT just for bodybuilders.  Resistance training is for anyone who wants to improve their overall health.  A proper resistance training program will develop muscular strength, improve muscular flexibility, enhance bone health and bone density, strengthen tendons and ligaments, improve your posture, and develop muscular endurance.

As an added bonus, a resistance training program will also boost your metabolism.  It has been well documented that a pound of muscle burns 80 to 100 extra calories per week while a pound of fat only burns 3 to 5 calories per week.  Thus one pound of muscle will burn over 10 fat pounds per year. With all the benefits of resistance training, the only question is why aren't more people doing it?!


Black Tea, Green Tea, and Lemons

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolAre you drinking black tea or green tea?  Great news!  Both are very beneficial to your body.  According to research, green and black teas have as much or more antioxidants than some fruits and vegetables.  These antioxidants scavenge for cell-damaging free radicals in the body and detoxify them.  In some studies, it was been shown that rats that were given tea developed less cancer than the control rats.  Although the antioxidant levels are nearly equal, the amount of caffeine in black tea is usually more than that of green tea: about 70mg to 40mg of caffeine.

Furthermore, adding lemon to your tea also has many health benefits.  Lemons are high in vitamin C and flavonoids which help fight infections like the flu and the common cold.  Although lemons are acidic to the taste, they are alkaline forming which help balance the pH in your body.  Lemons also helps detoxify the liver which aids the liver with most other cleansing functions.  Lemons also prevents scurvy, clean your bowels, dissolve kidney stones, and many other functions.  Thus, an energy drink may seem to give you instant energy and gratification, reaching for a glass of lemon tea will have more benefits in the long run.


Your Perfect Pre-Workout Strategy

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolNot everyone has a pre-workout plan.  If you are one that struggles with your workout, maybe you need to re-think your pre-workout plan.  One of your problems may be the timing of your pre-workout meal and drink.  It's best to have a small snack 1 hour before your workout.  This will give you the energy you will need for your workout plus it will give your body enough time to digest and absorb the much needed carbohydrates and protein.  This plan includes snacks for morning, afternoon, or evening workouts.  There are no performance advantages to working out on empty stomach.  The snack should be something that digests rather quickly, i.e., a banana with some whey protein.

On the other hand, it only takes caffeine less than 30 minutes to get into your bloodstream; therefore, while your pre-workout snack should be 1 hour before your workout, your pre-workout drink should be taken 30 minutes before your workout.  Furthermore, when caffeine is taken with food or within 30 minutes of a meal, the energy from caffeine is sustained for longer periods of time.  Ultimately, every "body" is different but if you follow these guidelines, you will be on your way to finding your Perfect Pre-Workout Strategy.  Good luck and happy health!


An Apple A Day...

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolEveryone has heard the phrase "an apple a day keeps the doctor away," but did you know that apples really do add a ton of nutritional value in your diet?  Apples are high in fiber and very low in calories to aid in weight management.  Fiber, as we all know, is important to reduce your blood cholesterol.  Apples have zero cholesterol and only trace amounts of sodium which is perfect to maintain a healthy blood pressure.

Furthermore, apples are high in vitamin C, polyphenols, and other anti-oxidants which can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.  One study even showed that people who ate apples on a regular basis lowered their risk of getting some types of cancer.

Finally, apples come in many different sizes and range in their sweetness.  If you prefer a tart apple, you are going to love the popular granny smith apple.  If sweet apples are more your style, try a fuji or kiku apple next time you are at the supermarket.  Also, most of the fiber and vitamin C are at or near the skin so it's a good idea to eat the apple skin as well.  Happy Health!


The Secret to Six Pack Abs

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolEveryone is looking for the secret to six pack abs.  The truth is, everyone is born with six pack abs but many people choose not to show them off.  I don't mean they choose to conceal their six pack abs with clothes; I mean they choose to conceal their six pack abs with a layer of fat.  If you can't see your six pack, you still may be able to feel it beneath your layer of skin/fat.  Many people falsely believe that doing hundred....even thousands....of sit-ups per day will result in six pack abs.  But the truth is, sit-ups, crunches, leg raises, and other ab exercises are great for increasing core strength but hardly do much for producing six pack abs. 

On the other hand, think of your fat as stored energy.  If you want to see muscle definition, you have to use up that stored energy surrounding your muscles!  Therefore, if you're looking to shed that layer of fat covering your abs, it's time to concentrate most of your efforts on energy consuming exercises while limiting the amount of energy you consume.  In other words, less crunches and more cardio.  Combine your cardio effort with a good diet and you shall see your hard earned sick pack ab wall in no time!  Happy Health!!


The Best Bicep Exercise

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolAs personal trainers, we are always looking for the best exercises to attack each muscle group.  For the biceps, a study was done to show the differences between three popular dumbbell exercises: the standing dumbbell curl, the sitting inclined dumbbell curl, and the preacher curl.  According to a recent publication by Liliam F. Oliveria et al, the standing dumbbell curl and the inclined dumbbell curl had more bicep activation for a broader range of motion as compared to the preacher curl.  Although all three exercises seem to elicit a good bicep recruitment, the preacher curl had a shorter range of motion thus ranking third among the three bicep exercises for effectiveness in this study.

So which is the most effective exercise for biceps?  We believe the most effective exercise has to be the inclined dumbbell curl due to it's larger range of motion.  The bicep is primarily responsible for elbow flexion and forearm supination.  The bicep is also an assistor with shoulder flexion. Therefore, one could argue that the inclined dumbbell curl with a 1/4 twist as you flex your elbow and flex your shoulder should be the most effective bicep exercise because the bicep's range of motion is the largest we could create in the gym.


The Healing Power of Cinnamon

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolCinnamon has been used for centuries, both as a spice and as an herbal medicine.  There has been much debate on the healing power of cinnamon. Some experts believe that cinnamon may be used to treat a wide array of diseases.  The most promising studies have been the use of cinnamon to treat type 2 diabetes. The effect of cinnamon either increases insulin sensitivity and/or slows the absorption of carbohydrates in the small intestine. One or both of those effect will lower your blood sugar thus helping control type 2 diabetes.

There has also been studies showing the effects of cinnamon as an antioxidant.  The antioxidants in cinnamon appear to attack free radicals similar to the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables.  Another study has even shown cinnamon to lower blood pressure, particularly systolic blood pressure.  The evidence seems to indicate that adding cinnamon to your diet will improve your health.  But more human studies are needed to establish better protocol and dosage amounts.  Currently, most experts believe adding 2 to 4 teaspoons of cinnamon per day would be enough to benefit your health. This amount of cinnamon could easily be added to your tea, oatmeal, toast, cereal, etc.  Happy Health!!


Barbell Squats Still The King

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolSquats vs. Leg Extensions?  The debate continues on which exercise is best for quadriceps.  A recent study has proven once again that the barbell squat is still the king when it comes to quadricep development.  A study done by Signorile et al (1994) compared the EMG activity of the quadricep muscle while the subjects performed barbell squats and knee extensions. The data showed that there was more electrical activity in the quadricep muscle during the barbell squat exercise than the leg extension exercise.

Furthermore, proper technique should be used when performing a squat regardless of the weight.  A shoulder-width stance with your toes slightly flared out is best for full lower body development including glutes, quads, and hams.

In conclusion, the barbell squat should be included at least once a week if you or your client are trying to increase leg strength. Moreover, if you or your client choose to use the leg extension machine, make sure you are using proper technique to minimize stress on the knee ligaments which means do NOT lock out the knees on knee extension and do NOT go beyond 90 degree knee flexion for optimum safety.


Watermelon Seeds Pack a Nutrient Punch

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolMost people already know that watermelons are a nutritious fruit.  Watermelons are a great source of low glycemic carbs, zero fat, zero sodium, zero cholesterol, packed with vitamin C and vitamin A, and of course a good source of water!  But did you know that watermelon seeds also have a high nutrient value?

1 ounce of watermelon seeds have 13g of good fat and 8 grams of muscle building protein!  Plus, watermelon seeds are also a good source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. 

Most people roast watermelon seeds similar to roasting pumpkin seeds.  But if you don't have time for that, just throw the watermelon chunks into a blender with your favorite protein powder for a pre- or post-workout snack.  You won't even know you're drinking the seeds when they are chopped into tiny pieces by your blender.


Boost Your Metabolism

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolThe gyms have been packed with people trying to look fit this summer.  Everyone is eating better and making sure to include cardiovascular exercise at least 3 times per week to burn a few extra calories; but if you really want to boost your metabolism and reach your weight loss goal, it's time to incorporate resistance training into your diet and cardio plans.  Resistance training is NOT just for bodybuilders.  Resistance training is for anyone who wants to improve their overall health.  A proper resistance training program will develop muscular strength, improve muscular flexibility, enhance bone health and bone density, strengthen tendons and ligaments, improve your posture, and develop muscular endurance.

Furthermore, a resistance training program will also boost your metabolism.  It has been well documented that a pound of muscle burns 80 to 100 calories per week while a pound of fat only burns 3 to 5 calories per week.  Therefore, each pound of muscle you add will burn over 10 fat pounds per year.  Moreover, since muscle is more dense than fat, a pound of muscle looks a lot smaller than a pound of fat so substituting one for the other will make you look fabulous this summer.  With all the benefits of resistance training, the only question is why aren't more people doing it?!


Caffeine and Exercise

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolCaffeine has been used in sports for many, many years.  There have been many studies conducted aiming to prove or disprove the efficacy of caffeine in sports.  Most studies have been done on endurance events with 200 to 400mg of caffeine.  Ivy et al (1979) concluded that caffeine definitely increased lipid metabolism AND work production in 9 trained cyclists over a 2 hour exercise session.

More recently, the research has been focused on combining carbohydrates with caffeine during sports performance.  Ivy et al (2009) did a study on cycling performance after drinking Red Bull. The results once again showed improved performance with no increase in RPE (rate of perceived exertion).  Another study by Gant et al (2010) showed that soccer players improved sprint performance and countermovement jumping after consuming a carbohydrate/caffeine sports drink.  Even more interesting was a study conducted by Stevenson et al (2009) on golf performance.  During a simulated round of golf, even skill movements like putting improved with the ingestion of carbohydrates and caffeine throughout the 4 hour period.  It was concluded that the carb/caffeine mix must also improve focus.

Thus far, little research has been done on caffeine and weight lifting but experts believe it must have a positive effect on weight training too.  At the very least, you'll be alert and focused when you are working out on a bit of caffeine.  As always, be safe when it comes to consuming supplements including large quantities of caffeine. 


Running For Your Health

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolHappy National Running Day!  On the first Wednesday of June, many runner across the United States celebrate National Running Day.  Many running clubs designated this day for experienced runners to reaffirm their love for running and for beginners to start a running program with a local running group.  Whether you are training for a marathon or running down the street for the very first time, we hope you enjoy your love for running on which is usually and nice summer day!

Moreover, running has become the cardiovascular exercise of choice for many fitness enthusiasts.  Most people choose long, slow distance (LSD) running because it's easy and very relaxing.  It definitely helps you lose weight, improves your cardiovascular system, and also de-stresses you.  On the other hand, if you want a more challenging and a more productive workout, give sprints a try!  Running sprints at or near 100% VO2 max will really give your cardiovascular system a boost.  Furthermore, many health experts believe that sprints will preserve more muscle than LSD running; therefore PFTA recommends changing it up.  Schedule some sprints along with your long runs throughout the week!  Happy Health!


Exercise Benefits for Seniors

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolYou just turned 40! or 50! or 60! or 70!...you get the picture.  Getting older doesn't mean you have to stop exercising; in fact, many experts believe that seniors will see the biggest gains among all age groups once they begin exercising.  A healthy heart is important thus including cardiovascular exercise such as walking into your daily routine is pertinent.  Furthermore, many doctors advise their senior patients to include resistance training in their weekly activities.  This will ensure that seniors keep their bone density at optimum levels and reduce the  risk of osteoporosis.

Also, studies have shown that seniors have improved confidence because of exercise.  This improved confidence negates their fear of falling and breaking a bone.  This is true not only because a senior who exercises has improved bone strength, but a senior who exercises also has better balance and coordination than a senior who doesn't exercise.  Moreover, it's inevitable, starting as early as 25 years old, our metabolism begins to slow down at least 2% per year.  Exercising will slow down this decline and in some cases, actually boost your metabolism.  So getting older doesn't necessarily mean you have to only enjoy water aerobics, you can also continue or start an advanced exercise routine.  Happy Health!


Egg Controversy: The Yolk? Raw or Cooked?

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolBy now, everyone knows that eggs are a great source of protein.  Many fitness enthusiasts will eat hundreds of egg whites every year; but, should we also be eating the yolk?  Many people avoid the yolk because it contains almost all of the fat and almost all of the cholesterol; but, it also contains almost half of the protein.  One study by Qureshi et al (2007) tracked almost 10,000 subjects over 20 years.  The 3 groups were divided into zero egg consumption, 1 to 6 eggs per week, and 6+ eggs per week.  The data concluded that all healthy individuals, even those in the 6+ egg group, did not increase their risk for heart disease.

On the other hand, does eating raw eggs give you more nutritional benefits than eating cooked eggs?  Since heat will damage many of the vitamins, many experts believe that raw eggs have more vitamin and mineral content than cooked eggs.  However, eating raw eggs also increase the risk of salmonella.  The USDA believes only about 1 in 30,000 regular eggs are infected with salmonella.  To further decrease the risk of salmonella, experts encourage consumers to buy eggs from healthy chickens which are normally cage-free.  The cartons should be marked appropriately.  In summary, eggs are a nutritious source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.  Do your research and decide what's best for you.  Happy Health!


The Front Squat

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolAre you using front squats in your exercise routine?  Some fitness enthusiasts don't utilize the front squat because they feel as if they can't lift as much weight as a regular squat; from a biomechanical viewpoint, that assessment would be true.  There are many variations to the front squat but one thing is for sure, the front squat puts more emphasis on your quads than back squats.  Moreover, the barbell on your back forces you to bend slightly forward.  This lean puts the center of gravity more forward which requires more recruitment from your glutes and hams.

On the other hand, the barbell on your anterior deltoids requires your spine to remain more upright moving the center of gravity back toward your hip joints.  This position forces your quads to get more involved and produce more force.  This position also puts the glutes and hams at a different angle which minimizes their force production; thus, athletes can NOT lift as much weight as they would lift on a back squat.  The back squat is a great exercise for overall lower body development including the glutes, quads, and hamstrings; but, if your quads have become a weak point that you would like to target on your next workout, give front squats a shot!  Your legs will appreciate it!  Good Luck and Happy Health!


The Latest Research on Stevia

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolWhich sweetener do you use?  Many consumers use aspartame, saccharin, and/or sucralose to sweeten their taste buds without adding any calories to their food or drink.  But the latest sweetener making gains with consumers the last few years has been stevia.  Stevia was initially banned by the FDA in the 1970s because the government believed it may be harmful to Americans despite being approved for use in other countries.  In 1994, stevia was approved as a supplement but could still not be sold as a food or a sweetener in stores.  In 2008, the FDA finally put stevia on the GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list and has been growing in popularity ever since.

Stevia has been estimated to be up to 300 times sweeter than sugar BUT, like other sweeteners, does NOT provide any calories.  Stevia manufacturers also claim their product to be an "all-natural" sweetener and suitable for people with diabetes; thus, many consumers have been putting it in their coffee, tea, oatmeal, smoothies, and many other foods.  There is still some resistance by some in the community to consider Stevia as safe for consumer use; therefore, as with all sugar and sugar substitutes, it is best to use stevia in moderation.  Good Luck and Happy Health!


Training Upper and Lower Abs

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolWe all know that training our abs will strengthen our core and minimize back pain but should we try to isolate lower abs from upper abs?  There have been numerous studies that tried to answer the same questions for years.  Most studies agree that every abdominal exercise excites the muscle fibers of the entire ab wall, both upper and lower, equally.  For example, a study by Clark et al (2003) tested the upper abs and lower abs from 8 healthy subjects.  Using electrode placement on upper and lower abs, the results showed no significant difference between upper abs and lower abs on six different ab exercises.

On the other hand, a study by Willet et al (2001) reported small differences between lower abs and upper ab activity in their study.  In the study, the curl-up and reverse curl exercises both produced similar results for the upper rectus abdominis; BUT, the reverse curl seemed to excite the lower rectus abdominis more than any other exercise excited the lower ab wall.  Therefore, if you want to play it safe, doing both curl-ups and reverse curls will ensure your entire ab wall is strong and mobile.  Happy Health!


The Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolChances are when you hear the word "chia," you automatically think of the chia plants sold in TV commercials several years ago.  But did you know there are many health benefits to eating chia seeds?  Many people enjoy this great tasting "super food" as an additive to their muffins, shakes, and drinks.  You can also sprinkle Chia seeds on your oatmeal or yogurt.  This super food will instantly add good fats, protein, fibers, vitamins and minerals to your diet without sacrificing taste!

Moreover, Chia seeds are high in calcium for stronger bones.  One ounce of the seeds have 11 grams of fiber which will help to curb your appetite and control your blood sugar.  Also, each ounce of chia seeds has 4 grams of muscle building protein; not bad for a few seeds mixed in with your protein shake.  Health enthusiasts also rave about the "good fats" in chia seeds.  Each ounce of the seeds has 5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids thus providing your body with the nutrients it needs to repair itself after a great workout!  Adding chia seeds to your food and drinks is also another way of adding valuable anti-oxidants to your diet along with minerals such as magnesium, manganese, and zinc.  So hopefully next time you see the famous ch-ch-ch-chia commercial, it'll remind you of that little super food that will improve your workouts and make your body feel better!  Good Luck and Happy Health!


Speed and Agility Training

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolAre you training for speed and/or agility?  Most athletes incorporate speed and agility training into their workouts to improved sports performance but you don't need to be a superstar athlete to add speed and agility training to your workouts.  Speed is defined as moving your body in a straight line in as short a time as possible.  Speed may be the most valued performance measures in most athletic events.  Great drills for speed training include sprints.  You can work on stride length by running uphill and work on stride frequency by running downhill.  You can also utilize parachutes and bungee chords to increase your speed.

Moreover, agility is defined as the ability of your body to change direction in a very short amount of time.  Great drills for agility training involve ladders, hurdles, and cones.  Move your feet and change direction as quick as you can.  With agility drills, a good work:rest ration is 1:3 while speed drills may require a bit more rest, i.e.. 1:5 ratio.  If your workouts are getting boring your can try to change up the pace a little by incorporating some speed and agility drills in the next few workouts!  Remember have fun and have a great workout!
(Pictured: a PFTA personal trainer class performing a boot camp outside)


Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolIt's no debate that most Americans gain weight this time of year; heck even Santa puts on a few pounds.  But how much do we really gain?  And more importantly, can it be avoided?  Many experts believe we gain anywhere from 1 to 5 pounds from Halloween to New Year's Day but the good news is there are things you can do to limit or avoid any weight gain during the holiday season.

Hopefully you are not still eating Halloween candy; but, if you are, it's time to get rid of it. Take it to the office, have your kids take it to school, or give it to our homeless Americans. Furthermore, remember Thanksgiving DAY is only one day.  No need to stuff yourself like a turkey for more than 1 day or more than 1 meal for that matter. Third, Christmas is the holiday for giving...not for eating. Granted there will be lots of delicious goodies at your disposal; but, just remember to taste everything but don't indulge on anything!

Exercise is also important during the holiday season. Most gyms are still open around the holidays. If you don't have a gym membership, I believe it's still free to walk around your neighborhood. What great weather we are having this fall! As a bonus, exercise has been proven to reduce holiday stress and control blood sugar if you have eaten too many sweets.

Moreover, New Year's Eve is just not about consuming adults beverages; it's also about setting new goals for 2014. What a great way to start off the year with an exercise session on January 1, 2014.  Have a great holiday season and get ready for 2015!!


Does Ionized Water Work as Advertised?

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolIonized water is another trend to hit the market the last few years.  Although sellers of ionized water claim to improve health benefits, there is no evidence that any of the claims are true.  Sellers of ionized water claim that the alkaline water promotes healthy weight loss, boosts the immune system, neutralizes free radicals, and slows the aging process.  They claim that ionized water serves as an anti-oxidant very similar to beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E.

On the other hand, experts in the field of chemistry and physics rebuke their claims.  Science has proven that your body prefers homeostasis, which means, your body makes adjustments all day long to stay at the preferred pH of 7.4.  Also, experts claim that once the negative ions are ingested, they would quickly bind with positive ions thus neutralizing any effects that may have been theoretically possible. As with all supplements, it is "buyer beware" because supplements such as ionized water are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  In conclusion, the most important thing is that you are drinking enough water regardless of its source.  Have a great workout and stay hydrated!


Is Beta-Alanine the Next Creatine? 

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolBeta-Alanine has been the latest buzz at the gym the last few years.  Does it work?  Is it as good as creatine?  Can you use it with creatine?  Is it for strength?  Is it for endurance?  Are there any side effects?  The preliminary studies have been mostly positive.  In several studies, beta-alanine has been shown to improve both strength and endurance by delaying fatigue.  Hoffman et al. (2006) even showed improved strength performance when beta-alanine was used in conjunction with creatine.

More studies are needed but preliminary research shows that 2 to 3 grams per day should increase your workout intensities by delaying the lowering of pH levels in your muscles.  This mechanism allows your muscles to work harder, longer which should improve both strength training workouts and cardiovascular workouts. On the other hand, there has been one reported side effect.  Most subjects have reported a tingling sensation if they consumed too much.  Most supplement companies advice a limit of 800mg beta-alanine at a time up to 4 times per day.  As always, consult your physician or an experienced personal trainer about working out and spots supplements.


Choosing the Right Personal Trainer

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolA personal trainer's first priority is creating a safe and effective workout for his or her clients.  The workout should also be fun but challenging.  You want to feel like you got something accomplished.   A skilled trainer will design a program that involves all the joint actions and major muscles in your body.  Failing to execute all the joint actions may create muscular imbalances.

Furthermore, knowledge, experience, and a personality that is compatible with yours is very important in choosing a personal trainer.  A knowledgeable, experienced trainer will keep track of your workouts on a workout log; you'll usually see them carrying a clipboard.  A successful trainer will perform some type of fitness assessment for baseline measures and then again to highlight your improvements. 

Also, personal trainers normally charge between $30 to $60 per session.  If this seems high, remember, it's an investment in your health and your future.  Choosing the right personal trainer is a great start to a healthy lifestyle.  Good luck and happy health!


Salty Killer: the Hypertension Epidemic

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolHypertension (high blood pressure) has become a major problem in the United States.  Sodium (salt) is a major factor in the hypertension epidemic and hypertension is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease.  A recent article by the National Council on Sports and Fitness detailed the problems of the "salty killer."  Nearly one in three U.S. adults is battling hypertension and half of those Americans are losing the battle.  On average, U.S. adults consume 3,266 mg per day (way too much salt).  Most of the time, we are consuming foods high in sodium without even noticing.  The recommended dietary allowance for sodium is less than 2,300 mg per day.

In addition, foods are packed with sodium because salt adds flavor and it is a great preservative.  Popular foods with high salt content include deli meats, chips, crackers, and many condiments.  The best thing to do to win the battle against high blood pressure is adding an exercise routine to your daily schedule and making a conscience effort to cut out excessive sodium.  So instead of fast foods and/or processed foods, better choices would be fresh meats, fruits, and vegetables from the market.  Minimizing salt intake will greatly reduce the chances of cardiovascular disease.  Exercise and education are two big steps in winning the battle against hypertension.  Good luck!


How to Prevent Shin Splints

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolIf you love to run, sometime in your lifetime, you will develop shin splints or medial tibial stress syndrome.  Most of the time the injury is caused by overuse of your lower leg muscles.  This happens when you add to many miles too quickly to your exercise program, improper foot wear, muscular imbalances, and/or not warming up properly.  Once you develop shin splints, it is best to rest, massage, apply ice when necessary, and start a strength training program.  Work your way back up with short walks before you start running again.

But once you start running again, there are things you can do to prevent shin splints in the future.  One of the things you can do is strength training for your tibialis anterior.  The tibialis anterior is the muscle on the front side of your lower leg, opposite of your calves.  A great exercise for your T.A. is toe taps.  Take turns tapping your foot/toes on the floor while your heel is elevated.  Start of with three sets of 20 to 30.  You should feel a slight burn on the front of your lower leg which means it's working!  Also, don't forget to properly warm-up before exercising and just as important, don't forget to stretch after each workout session.  Don't get discouraged; you're doing great so far!  It won't be long before you'll be running again!


What is Metabolic Training?

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolMetabolic Training is used more and more by personal trainers and athletes alike.  The name comes from the stress the training puts on different energy systems particularly the ATP/CP and Glycotic energy systems which creates an abundance of lactic acid.

There are several key factors to Metabolic Training.  One, this type of training requires the recruitment of large muscle groups.  That means you'll need to design a program that recruits legs, chest, and back muscles and less concern with biceps and triceps.  A great combo is squat presses followed up bench press and a barbell row superset!  This will really get your metabolism going!!  Second, your rest periods should be short while your intensity is very high.  Keep pushing yourself to your body's limits.

This type of training will produce incredible benefits including improved cardiovascular efficiency, improved hormonal profile, increased metabolism, and superior fat burning.  In summary, make sure your workouts are geared toward your training goals.  Good luck!


Do Artificial Sweeteners Cause Weight Gain?

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolMany people believe artificial sweeteners cause weight gain; others are not so sure.  Here's what we know so far:  One, they have close to zero calories so they can't, by themselves, make you gain weight.  One theory is that the sweet taste may be making you crave real sugar and/or real calories thus creating a positive caloric balance also known as weight gain.  Make sure you don't eat too many snacks between meals if you feel that's the case.  The craving will go away.

Two, some experts believe that drinking a diet soda with zero calories gives people the false sense of freedom to consume as much food as they want.  We need more education in schools to remind children and adults alike that diet drinks are just flavored water.  Diet drinks don't allow you to eat more food with little consequence.

Three, it's been written that even artificial sweeteners can cause an insulin spike which can lead to weight gain.  This theory has NOT been proven and is 100% false.  We are 100% positive that your super human body can tell the difference between artificial sugar and the real thing!  But again, diet soda with a big carb meal will give you an insulin spike which can lead to weight gain.

In summary, enjoy your diet soda if you choose but don't add any more calories to your meal.  Remember why you're drinking the diet soda in the first place.  Furthermore, if you already prefer water over diet drinks, then stick to water.  Water will always be the preferred beverage of choice.


Train Like a Wolverine

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolYou may have seen a shredded Hugh Jackman play "Wolverine" in several X-Men movies the last few years.  Hugh has worked very hard to portray the character as a leaner, more muscular wolverine than the earlier movies.  Like many athletes, Hugh Jackman uses a workout strategy called linear periodization.  Many athletes utilize this type of technique to bust through plateaus and peak and the right time whether it's for the super bowl, NBA championship, a boxing match, a bodybuilding show, or the filming of a Hollywood blockbuster.

Linear periodization relies on an old technique where the intensity increases as you get closer to your scheduled event.  But as the intensity increases, the volume of the workout will decrease.  You can easily do this with your own workouts.  For example, pick out a big muscle, multi-joint exercises like squats, bench press, or lat pulldowns.  This month, you will choose a weight that you can handle for 15 reps.  Next month increase the weight (intensity) to a weight you can lift for 10 reps.  On the 3rd month, choose a weight you can lift for 5 reps.  Repeat every few months with a higher intensity or until it's "showtime."  With the proper diet to go along a periodized program, you should be shredded like the wolverine in no time!