Archive for January, 2013


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We have a little discrepancy between the sexes that is as old as time. No, it has nothing to do with feelings or libido or television preferences. The issue is this: gentlemen tend to focus almost entirely on upper-body development while the ladies like to hammer their lower halves to carve out a well-defined backside and tighten their thighs. Now, while I am all for working out the largest muscle groups on a regular, rigorous basis; it may be time to focus on what’s above the waist, girls. Females possess roughly 2/3 of the maximal upper body strength that men do while having similar expressions of strength within the lower body (in relation to respective muscle cross-sectional area). Balance is vital in the gym and the strength you gain while consistently working your chest, shoulders, back, and arms will translate exceptionally well to the real world, allowing you to conquer all lifting tasks outside gym walls.

So focus on compound, multi-joint exercises like push-ups, dumbbell bench press, shoulder press, and free-weight (barbell or dumbbell) rows to round out your upper-body development. Soon you will be pounding out reps on the pull-up bar just like the huge, burly gentleman next to you and definitely squatting more than his tiny legs could possibly imagine! Happy lifting, girls!

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Alejandro Lopez, CSCS

If you have exhausted every possible option for biceps training, traveling to and fro the usual barbell biceps curl and the preacher curl; it may be time to enlist the Zottman curl. This little gem will elicit greater gains throughout the entire bicep/forearm complex producing noticeable gains in your biceps, your brachialis muscle (a synergist which runs betweenyour biceps and triceps on the outer portion of your arm), and your brachioradialis(which runs along your outer forearm, lying just below the brachialis). The Zottman curl works not only by stressing these muscles due to the grip change at the top of the movement but but also by producing a hold during the top portion as well to facilitate the aforementioned grip change. Here is how to do it:

  1. Hold the dumbbells in each hand at arm’s length close to your sides with the usual supinated grip (palm facing up)
  2. Perform a normal curl by utilizing your elbow flexors to pull the wait to your shoulders in a steady, controlled fashion.
  3. At the topmost point in the movement, flex your biceps forcefully for a count of one and slowly pronate your grip by turning your wrist 180 degrees so your palms are facing downward
  4. With palms facing downward, lower the weight through the eccentric, falling motion, in a controlled manner.
  5. When the weight is at its lowest postion with arms fully extended at your sides, reverse your grip to a normal, palms up grip and begin again for reps.

Happy Lifting!

This exercise can also be performed by beginning with palms facing downward wtih a switch at the top to palms facing upward.

Power to the Elderly!

Posted: January 2, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Alejandro Lopez CSCS

Strolling into your local gym, you will typically see all of the youngins swarmed around the heavy weights and latest machinery leaving the elderly participants relegated to the old-school machines and cardio machinery. They normally perform resistance and cardiovascular exercise with the lowest possible resistance at a very slow pace. Though this may seem to be the safe, proper form for the elderly, it certainly is far from the most beneficial.

When individuals age (past 40 and sometimes sooner), hormone levels including testosterone fall dramatically and muscle loss, sarcopenia, becomes almost inevitable when a sedentary lifestyle is the predominant one. Therefore, to delay the onset and progression of sarcopenia and osteopenia, bone loss, regular exercise is recommended. But which form of exercise is most beneficial and how is it best accomplished?

Muscle mass and, specifically,  its ability to express power, the velocity at which a weight is moved or displaced,  is the first to go and this proves problematic for the elderly who still require the ability to carry objects around the house without injury and without long delays. This means that when older gym-goers engage in resistance exercise the weight should be low enough to prevent injury but high enough to pose somewhat of a challenge (overload principle). The weight should also be raised at a relatively high rate of speed to improve on the power lost with age. It is extremely important to note that the weight should never be lowered quickly nor jerked back and forth forsaking form and function. Power training involves a quick concentric, upward motion and a more controlled, evenly paced eccentric, lowering motion.

Because safety is of the utmost concern when working with the elderly, machines rather than free weights should be utilized for power training. Machines typically offer a strict movement path for the exercise and a seated position to prevent slip and fall. So you can leave the light free weights for assistance work during arm and shoulder workouts.

So there you  have it. Though resistance training was solely mentioned, this does not imply that cardiovascular exercise is unimportant. On the contrary, maintaining function of the heart and lungs is vital for anyone, particularly the elderly.

Happy Lifting!