Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Love It!

Posted: June 26, 2013 in Fat Loss, Health
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I have clients, friends, family and passersby coming to me everyday in a frantic search for truth and self-discovery. They contemplate whether or not it is even possible to look as stunningly beautiful as Kate or as devishly handsome as Pitt. They want a simple answer: YES or NO!? Well the answer, as formulaic and cliche as it may sound is: It depends.

Everyone’s genetic potential is vastly different. From the Pear to the Apple to the enviously desireable Hourglass, each bodytype is predisposed by genetics, much like eye color and hair type. You cannot do anything about this, but what I like to drill into their self-doubting psyches is that you can always, ALWAYS, look the best you possibly can. And this “best” is always within reach. Some may need to work just a bit harder than others.

What most people do not understand or choose to not see, is that fitness must be looked upon much like a marathon. Pacing oneself and looking at the big picture is important, but also taking one mile or goal at a time is crucial to any wellness plan’s success. Planning for a 30 lb loss within 3-4 months is a worthy goal to aspire to but can quickly become overwhelming when the loss doesn’t come as quickly as Dr. Oz promised it would. But breaking that goal into small increments of a few lbs per week or focusing on moving that belt loop just one hole over can do wonders for overall success.

I personally find the latter aim to be the most effective. Weight loss can be a tricky balancing act between water retention, muscle gain/fat loss, and clothing sizes, so it is best to look at how well your clothes fits to truly gauge your program’s success. If you look better and you have been told many times that you do, yet your weight seems to stay the same, don’t worry, you are doing absolutely fantastic.

What I want every self-doubter and naysayer to know at the end of the day is that  you must learn to love what the gym can do for you, to yearn not dread your next session. I ask that not only you learn to love what results you can reap but also begin appreciating the feel of your tired muscles, to hold dear the idea of feeling stronger each and every time you step into your workout place of choice, to feel a passion for your newfound diet. As sad as it is for me to admit, if you do not learn to love the fit lifestyle, you will always revert back to the start.

So please ask questions, get answers, and feed off this new life and I gaurantee you will never be more satisfied.

Happy Lifting,

Alejandro Lopez CSCS



P.S. E-mail me at with any questions or leave comments at the end of this article.

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When we engage in physical activity, we know and accept that our muscles are contracting, tendons and ligaments are pulling and being pulled upon and our bone structure is the lever system holding it all together. This is news to no one.What may escape our notice are the underlying psychological processes and mechanisms that either hinder or aid in the physical manifestation of our biomechanical movements. We witness, time and again, the fluid, almost flawless movements of our top athletes and imagine a clockwork mechanic that must be running the show behind the scenes. Although it is almost certain that these elite athletes have progressed to an automatic form of psychomotor performance, they still must think, reason, fear, and worry while they engage in their dance.

Most young and underdeveloped athletes operate at a “cognitive” level when engaging in athletic events. This means that each movement is thought about thoroughly, from the next dribble to the ultimate shot or pass. At this stage of psychomotor reactiveness, athletic prowess is hindered severely and performance suffers. Have you ever wondered why things always seem to go wrong when you are constantly thinking about the outcome or process? This situation is no different. When you are thinking about an act, you tend to focus primarily  on the negative–of what can go wrong. This leaves little room for art and finesse.

With time, practice, and patience, one can ascend to the next level of athletic thinking known as “associative.” This stage is characterized by a more automatic appraisal of movement. The bat may move a bit more fluidly through the air, the shot’s arc may be more natural, and the pass to your wide-out may arrive successfully with little thought. But, you still aren’t quite there yet. You still focus too intently on the game’s outcome or you may count your strides too often. Things are coming far more naturally, but you simply cannot get over that ponderous hump. You are  associative, no more and no less.

And our last stage was previously mentioned as “automatic.” You have seen Wade and James flow down the court as if they were born for basketball and basketball alone. They have laser-like focus and their eyes beam to their one particular goal. Nothing else matters and everything else can wait. They are more than likely part of an elite group of individuals transfixed in the automatic phase. Though this is not intended to imply they are robotic; as everyone fears, but they are so in tune with their movements that it seems to come easy. Not perfect, but damn close.

So there you have it. The three major, accepted stages of psychomotor processes and biomechanical movement. Although, trait anxiety is a big determinant of where you begin and where you will go, Practice is the main predictor of where you will be within any given stage and the amount of drive will shove you from one stage to the next. Happy Lifting!

-Alejandro Lopez, CSCS

Weight training in a fitness center

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The following plan is one I concocted for a friend of mine who recently underwent a shoulder cartilage injury (Torn labrum). This is just a sample of what I am capable of now. (Haha, tooting my own horn, I know). But this plan also suits any individual, particularly older individuals and athletes, whose shoulers are of particular concern and desires a full body plan sans heavy shoulder work (As the shoulder joint-ball and socket- possesses such a high range of motion that injury is more likely compared to other joint types such as the knee or wrist). Here it is and any commentary is surely welcome. Thanks for reading!

Sample Plan

Alejandro Lopez, CSCS

1. Needs Analysis:

  • No Sport/General Fitness
  • Recovery from torn labrum (heavy shoulder movement counter indicated until further notice)
  • Rebound after deconditioning

2. Exercise Selection

  • Chest –Cable fly, Light dumbbell fly, Pec Dec, Decline Dumbbell Press & Floor Press (If indicated).

*Stay away from barbell exercises as range of motion is limited and may cause further injury.

*Focus on full range of motion and slow-controlled movement

*Never jerk weight up quickly nor drop weight down quickly

*Do not extend arm behind body, in other words stop weight a few inches above chest

  • Back– Light dumbbell single arm row, Machine cable row (wide grip and narrow grip to hit rhomboid, lats, and entire shoulder girdle), Medium grip lat pulldown (cable)
  • Legs– If squats are off limits for you (which I recommend until you heal and recover strength) focus on these exercises: Leg Press, Hack Squat (the machine where you stand diagonally and you squat to push pads on your shoulders up), Alternating Leg Lunge, and isolation exercises like leg curl for hamstrings and leg extension for quads.

*This is where you should go hard since nothing is off-limits as far as injury is concerned

  • ShouldersDo not perform isolation of shoulders
  • ArmsDo not perform any arm exercises over the head. Focus on alternating
    • Dumbbell curls through full range of motion (ROM) and isolation curls for biceps
    • Tricep pressdown [reverse (supinated, palms facing up) and normal grip (pronated-palms facing down) and Lying tricep dumbbell extension for triceps

3. Exercise Order

  • Always perform big, compound movements before isolation, but remember to keep your shoulder in mind, if big compound movements are causing pain, stop and move on to isolation.
  • Perform bigger muscle group exercises like legs before smaller muscle groups like chest or back.
  • Example: When performing chest exercises, Perform Dumbbell Decline or Floor Presses before Fly exercises
    • The compound workouts elicit greater release of hormones: testosterone, IGF-1, Growth Hormone, etc.

      4. Rep/Load Scheme

  • Typically, perform 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps for each exercise. I would usually recommend going lower reps for higher poundage like 6-12 reps at 67-85% your 1 Rep Max) but you need to rebound from your injury and improve you muscular endurance since you have been out of the game for a while lol.
  1. Frequency
  • I recommend engaging in a full body workout three times per week for the following reasons:

    i.      You should not overload a muscle group too much after a period of detraining and injury, so working it slightly three times a week allows for muscle gain at a slow, steady, sore-free pace.                                                     

  ii.      The more muscle groups you stress at a given workout, the more hormones will be released to promote hypertrophy (muscle gain) and strength gains.

  1. Rest Periods
  • The less you rest between sets the more Growth Hormone is released and the greater calories burned; therefore, until further notice, I recommend utilizing a 30 sec-1 min. rest in between every set and 2-3 min rest between each workout.

   7.  Sample Workout

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Legs:  Leg Press3 sets of 15 repsRest 2 min b/w sets Rest or HIIT cardio 1-2 min high intensity spinning or running and 1-2 min of rest and continue-cycle for 15-20 min  Legs: Hack Squat3 sets of 12 repsRest 2 min b/w sets Rest or HIIT cardio 1-2 min high intensity spinning or running and 1-2 min of rest and continue-cycle for 15-20 min  Legs: Alternating Leg Lunge3 sets of 20 repsRest 1 min b/w sets Rest or HIIT cardio 1-2 min high intensity spinning or running and 1-2 min or rest and continue-cycle for 15-20 min  Full Rest,NoWorkOut
Back: One arm dumbbell row4 sets of 12 repsRest 1 min b/w sets   Back:Lat pulldown superset with cable row3 sets of 10 repsRest 2 min b/w sets   Back: One arm dumbbell row2 sets of 20 repsRest 1 min b/w reps    
Chest: Floor Press4 sets of 12 repsRest 1 min between sets(regular dumbbell chest press but on floor not bench)   Chest: Cable Fly superset with Cable Press3 sets of 10 repsRest 2 min b/w sets   Chest : Light Dumbbell Fly on incline bench2 sets of 20 repsRest 1 min b/w sets    
Biceps: Alternating Bicep curl3 sets of 12 repsRest 30 sec b/w sets   Biceps:Concentration Curl2 sets of 20 repsRest 30 sec b/w reps    Biceps: close grip cable curl3 sets of 10 repsRest 30 sec b/w sets    
Triceps: Tricep Pressdown3 sets of 12 repsRest 30 sec b/w sets   Triceps: Reverse- grip Tricep Pressdown2 sets of 20 repsRest 30 sec b/w reps   Triceps: Touching dumbbell floor press(floor press but make dumbbells touch whole time)3 sets of ten repsRest 30 sec b/w reps    

The New and the Old

Posted: September 5, 2012 in Health
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The fitness world is ever-changing. Theories are born, die, and are reborn into another skin. What was cutting edge dogma a year ago may be old news today. What was once a  detriment to health is now a beacon of long life and fitness. The reason I am writing this is to bring up a point I wished I had learned a long whole ago.

The point is this. What you are informed of today be it by a fledgling personal trainer or a seasoned, fitness veteran may be completely false but upheld by longstanding beliefs that are just as misleading and incorrect. I mention this never to discourage but to inform and there is a lesson.

My lesson to you should you choose to listen is to question everything that you are told, do in depth research into the science and rationale behind the many theories, and if the theory stands up to your rigorous tests; test it thoroughly on yourself. Try different approaches and always, always seek to improve. Because in the end, the hope to improve and better ourselves is one of the few things we will always hold on to. This rings true not only for  health and fitness but also in everything that we do.

So kick your training and diet in gear and always seek to try new things. because when you find your niche, your OWN method of being and doing; you will look and feel better than you have ever felt or imagined in your life. God speed!

We live busy lives. Busy. There is no way around it and there is only minimal respite. We skimp on certain things to make ends meet and indulge in only the barest of desires…..when time permits. But there is one thing that should never be sacrificed in order to keep responsibility in check and that is your exercise.

I stress this not only because you deserve to look your best, not only because it is good for overall health, but because exercising, even minimally, makes accomplishing everything from mowing the lawn to getting the kids to soccer practice much easier. All this brought to you by endorphins, a stronger, and more lightweight you!

Your body responds to the strenuousness of hard exercise by releasing a little feel-good chemical in the brain known as endorphins. These power-packing neurotransmitters elicit a sense of well-being well after your last set is finished. It allows you to tackle the mundane and the stressful with a little more kick. This is partly why you feel such a strong sense of accomplishment and well-being when you step out of the gym and a huge reason why you keep coming back. I suggest you focus intensely on that feeling and learn to yearn for it everyday. Before you know it, you will be back for another round ready for another dose of natural happiness.