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I am pleased to announce the opening of Integrated Medical Fitness to the Manhattan office.  Take advantage of the special introductory price and schedule your Fitness Evaluation!!! Contact the office for more information. 

Welcome to all the Gym Rats! Dr. P’s trainer, Shane O’Connor, credentialed in many areas of sports medicine, has contributed a comprehensive (yet super simple) fitness regimen. Dr. P’s recommended supplements for the “gym rats” are below as well. You can contact Shane at (914) 224-2804 or shaneoc55@hotmail.com.

 
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Start here! Introduction from Shane O’Connor

 

I think fitness is an incredibly important component to health, wellness and weight loss so I thought I would bring in an expert to help address the most common concerns, misconceptions and dreads of exercise for men and women both beginners and gym rats.

It’s a Saturday afternoon and you’re about two days away from beginning a new exercise program. After all, Mondays are the days we usually start all of our life’s great changes. Excitement begins to grow in the pit of your stomach as you fantasize about a new and improved you.

Just as you begin day dreaming about the many benefits that will follow a new active lifestyle, your vision is blurred by the confusion and frustration of what to do; and the time commitment to doing this. Anxiety builds as the magazine article about your favorite celebrities exercise routine, the late night gimmick infomercial, the friend that knows everything, and the newest DVD exercise program argue with one another for the leading role in your transformation. Now overwhelmed by which direction to take, you give up this dream without every starting and tell yourself that maybe exercise is just not for you.

As a personal trainer I have encountered many clients that have given up on exercise as a result of letting life’s obstacles get in the way, seeing little or no results, comparing themselves to magazine covers, or being deterred by exercise injury. Do yourself a favor and let go of any past pre-conceived notions you may hold about exercise because the truth is exercise is essential for a healthier more positive life – not just a better body.

No matter what area of your life needs improvement exercise can directly or indirectly affect it.  Physically, mentally, and emotionally you can change yourself. With the proper knowledge you can, put an end to sleepless nights, prevent and help treat a number of diseases and injuries, create a sense of self satisfaction, finally feel good about who you are, conquer your out of control stress levels, use your new found self esteem to spark your love life, and overall give yourself a new and improved existence while giving yourself the body that you have always dreamed of. Are you convinced yet? I thought so – even so - let’s get to it. 

First of all you are going to need a place to exercise. Join a gym, make a commitment, and invest in yourself.  You don’t have to join the nicest gym in town but, joining a gym will give you a place to go where your goal is specifically to exercise unlike the treadmill in your basement that is now probably being used to dry wet clothes. Make sure the gym you choose is convenient, the last thing you need is another excuse as to why you can’t fit in exercise.

Alright, so you’ve made the decision to start the gym and you’re all signed up and ready to go. Here’s where the next obstacle awaits.  Walking into a gym can be a foreign and an intimidating experience. There are dozens of machines that look like Eighteenth century torture devices, muscle heads screaming with what looks like three thousand pounds on their back, personal trainers walking around motivating their clients to do “one more!”, Cardio machines packed with people who look like they are stuck on a hamster wheel, and you’re thinking to yourself where do I start?  And how quickly can I get out of here?

A common mistake most people make is to just go with the flow and do a little of this and a little of that. Do not make this mistake! You want to get the most efficient workout for your time spent.  Too many times I’ve had new clients that have been going to the gym for months or even years for that matter and see more results with my help in just weeks. How I do that is through a combination of cardio training and full body strength training. Yes girls, strength training means lifting weight.  And if you are afraid of “looking like a man” lets clear something up right now: you are not going to grow muscles the size of Arnold Schwarzernegger and if you do please tell me your secret because I have been lifting weights since I was a teenager and my biceps still don’t look like his.

Let’s start with full body strength training which is important for a number of reasons. For now I want to focus on the most important aspects of exercise for beginners.  Due to the way we live our lives in today’s society, it’s important to start with the basics: posture, stability, and weight loss. 

The word metabolism is something that comes up all the time when talking about weight loss. We often hear he or she has a certain type of metabolism and that’s why they look the way they do, but what if I told you that you can actually change your metabolism through exercise? Metabolism simply put is the rate at which your body burns calories to sustain itself. Our bodies are made up of a number of things including muscle and fat. In order to sustain muscle our bodies use energy, more energy than it uses to sustain fat. Therefore the more lean muscle we have, the more calories we burn, and the higher our metabolisms are. So through strength training we can actually speed up our metabolisms.

Another important reason for strength training is the fact that many of us have what I like to call “office syndrome” which is one of the biggest contributors to poor posture in today’s society. Office Syndrome is when we wake up in the morning from laying down all night, take a short walk to our means of transportation to sit down, walk from there to the office to sit down hunched over at our desks, walk to a meeting to yes sit down again, only to finally come home, sit down for dinner/TV and lie down in bed. We have now done no exercise and barely any standing in our entire day which weakens our muscles consequently leading to a slower metabolism, bad posture, and a weak core.

Stabilization techniques allow our bodies to function at higher more efficient levels in everyday movements such as walking up stairs, mowing the lawn, household chores, and many other common daily tasks by strengthening our core. Ultimately a lean, stable, strong body results in a more stable healthier life.  The human body is amazing in that it will adapt to the environment in which it exists. By telling your body with exercise that it needs to become more efficient in order to survive in such an environment, it will.

Living in today’s world can be demanding. Keeping up with the bills, school, children and countless other responsibilities can be stressful and sometimes overwhelming.  Stress is a familiar feeling and learning how to deal with it is extremely important. Exercise is a great natural way to deal with stress. Exercise takes your mind off what is stressing you in the first place. It also takes you out of your typical scenery and puts you in a positive place that should not be a stressful environment.

Stress causes our body to release a hormone naturally called cortisol. While okay in small doses, in our high stress society our bodies typically produce more cortisol than it should, which can actually be harmful. Exercise can help control our levels of cortisol and also release chemicals called endorphins which trigger a positive feeling both physically and mentally in our bodies. These happy chemicals may also help you cope with sadness or depression. 

Don’t just take my word for it go to the gym and a get a good work out and see how you feel. Overtime it will also boost your self- esteem and make you realize that if you can accomplish goals such as improving your life through exercise than you can do anything.  Exercise can take you beyond the physical improvements; it can literally touch your life in every aspect. A less stressed happier you can result in finally going back to school, being a better parent, a promotion at work, the courage to ask that special someone out, and many other positive improvements in your life.

Exercise not only creates a healthy body and mind but, simply makes life easier. With the right foundation you can reach your goals safely and effectively. I would now like to present a great exercise routine that will not only change your environment but also the body that lives in it.  Keep in mind that this is a great routine upon which to build a foundation and that to keep improving you must seek ways to progress these movements and your exercises to the next level. In subsequent newsletters, I can create a program for the more advanced in the group.  And, knowing Dr. Pescatore, he is going to have this as one of the monthly challenges – so be prepared and let’s get started!

 

Fitness Summary

 

In summary, this is what your full Routine will look like:

Day 1 - Strength training routine

Day 2 - Cardio Routine

Day 3 - Strength training Routine

Day 4 - Cardio Routine

Day 5 - Strength or cardio Routine (your choice)

And on the other two days of the week, you can choose to rest. The days also do not need to be consecutive.  Just shoot for 5 out of 7 days to be doing what I described.  Good Luck and let me know how you are doing with this fitness challenge.

 

Dr. P’s Supplement Suggestions

Since we are focusing more on fitness this issue, I thought it would be a really good idea to discuss nutrients that I hardly ever discuss and ones you may not be familiar with.  These are the supplements that I recommend to my patients who like to keep their bodies fit and who exercise on a regular basis.  Personally, I think they are good for anyone but since I know so many of you take so many supplements, I often only recommend these to the “gym rats”.

  1. Ornithine– this helps the body to resorb the lactic acid that is released into your muscles after a hard workout – in other words, it takes the soreness away.  And, it doesn’t even have to be after working out – it can be after an aerobic activity or even just from doing too much work around the house or the yard. It also helps to release growth hormone into the body and aids in detoxification.
  2. L-citrulline- this helps the body to detoxify ammonia and to increase arginine formation thereby increasing nitric oxide production.  So, while it may work like the little blue pill, in this instance, it aids in bringing blood flow to the muscles during exercise and increasing endurance.  For general health, it improves endothelial function and therefore positively affects circulation.
  3. Arginine – this is another amino acid that is essential for helping the body to rid itself of ammonia.  It is also necessary for the production of protein so aids in helping to build muscle.  Interestingly enough, it helps the body to release insulin and may aid in diabetics to help in controlling blood sugar.  This amino acid will also aid in the production of nitric oxide thereby increasing blood flow, enhancing circulation and may improve athletic performance and shorten recovery time not only for body builders but also post surgery and post trauma.
  4. Geranium– this herb can help stimulate the adrenal cortex. In most of us, the adrenal gland is compromised by chronic stress, or poor diet.  Germanium may be a good adaptogen by helping the body to increase its DHEA level, thereby increasing testosterone or estrogen levels and to better balance the body hormonally.  By increasing testosterone levels, it is possible to increase lean muscle mass so this is excellent for either fitness buffs or weight loss enthusiasts.  It has also been shown effective in reducing water retention and acne.
  5. Beta-alanine– Studies have shown that this may enhance the muscle and strength building process.  Other studies have shown that it may help to delay fatigue and help in both anaerobic and aerobic endurance.  Hence, this supplement is good for any active individual.
  6. Creatine – no discussion on fitness supplements is complete with including creatine.  While I am not a big fan, it has been shown to help build skeletal muscle while improving performance in anaerobic activities such as body building.  It is thought to do this by enhancing ATP production which is the energy the body uses for all its activities.
  7. Rhodiola– this is actually a supplement I use a great deal with people because it is a great adaptogen and helps support the adrenal gland.  It has been shown to help the body increase its resistance to a variety of chemical, biological and physical stressors (and exercise is one of those).  It is also cardiopulmonary protective and has some central nervous system activities. 
    These properties have been attributed to its ability to influence levels and activity of monoamines (the first anti-depressants had the same ability) and opiod peptides such as beta-endorphins.
  8. Schizandra– this is another adaptogen used widely in my practice.  It also helps to stabilize the adrenal gland and acts in much the same way as Rhodiola
  9. Ribose– this helps the mitochondria in our cells. Since the mitochondria produce the energy in every cell in our body, this helps keep up our energy and especially helps when we are active.

 

 

Strength and Cardio Training Routine

Functional Strength Training Routine-   If you are new to exercise or have any health issues that limit you in terms of exercise you should consult with your doctor (Dr. Pescatore) before starting an exercise program.  Before beginning the strength training Routine be sure to do a warm up .  A warm up could consist of walking or jogging outside or on a treadmill, using the elliptical machine, using a bicycle outside or a gym bicycle, light boxing, or anything else that will get your heart rate up. A warm up should only last about 3-5 minutes. A good indication that you are warmed up properly is if you break a light sweat.

I have separated the same exercises into three different phases. Each phase should last about a month. Depending on your past strength training experience, fitness level, and your body’s response to the new exercises you should only proceed to the next phase once you have reached your full potential in the previous phase.

This means:

  1. The movement in the exercise must be performed as perfectly as possible.  This is so you stay injury free and get the most out of your work out.  I have added cues for you to follow to ensure that this happens.
  2. Once you reach fifteen repetitions of each exercise and are doing them with perfect form, then you are ready to move on to the next phase.
  3. However, if step one and two are not there in the month I allotted you, do not beat yourself up over it. We are all different and you need to work according to how your body responds.  My suggestion is to work as hard as you are able. As long as you are giving it your all than your body is receiving the benefits of exercise.

When doing your exercises you should move from one exercise to the other with rest in between (look at the example below).  Give yourself enough rest so that you can perform the next exercise completely.  Ideally you want to get to a point that you are just resting no more than 30 seconds in between but understand that it is okay if you need more at first, but do not baby yourself.  The strength training routine should be done 2-3 times a week ideally with one day of rest in between.  Most of these exercises can also be done at home in case you cannot get to the gym. I will point those out as I am explaining how to do them.  I would also like you to note that if in the start of each phase you can only make it through 2 sets of exercises it is okay.  If by the end you are spent and can no longer handle a third set than that is something that you can work towards on your future training days. 

Example of how to move from exercise to exercise in your routine

SET 1-  Squats -> Pushups  --> Plank  --> Lunges --> High Row --> Hip/ Glute raises

SET 2-  Squats --> Pushups  --> Plank  --> Lunges --> High Row --> Hip/ Glute raises

SET 3-  Squats --> Pushups  --> Plank  --> Lunges --> High Row --> Hip/ Glute raises

Cardiovascular Routine – A cardiovascular routine should be done 2 to 3 days a week in between your strength training routine.  You should start with 20 minutes and progress your way to 45 minutes. You should feel as if you are actually working hard. If you are not breaking a sweat or do not notice increased breathing than you need to up the workload. If you are breathing too hard and feeling lightheaded and dizzy than decrease your workload. A good way to test this is using “the talk test”.  You should be able to carry on a light conversation while doing your cardio, if so you are at the ideal intensity range. If your speech begins to cause an uncomfortable feeling or slow you down than you are working too hard. 

And ideally, you should be able to increase from 20 minutes to 45 minutes in the first month.  But, as I have said earlier, everyone works as their own pace so if you need a little more time, take it – just make sure you get it done. For cardio you can walk/jog on a treadmill, ride your bike outside or a stationary bike inside, swim, walk/run stairs or use a stair climber machine, or anything else that requires movement for at least 20 minutes or more. I mentioned  in the strength training routine that you can also do some of the activities above as a warm up which is true but the difference between them is that a warm up lasts only 3- 5 minutes before your routine while your cardio routine will last at least 20 minutes.

I touched on “office syndrome” before. Here are some simple steps you can make in order to take control and make healthier choices throughout the day, not just at “exercise time.” Walk or ride your bike to work, take a walk outside during lunch, wake up early and go for a jog/walk before starting your day, walk the stairs in your office building, choose the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. There are plenty of chances to get extra exercise in throughout our day so instead of looking at it as a hassle, look at it as an opportunity to improve yourself.

This routine is built out of movements that improve your stability, build your core, and increase your upper and lower body strength. It will create a solid foundation for you to begin your new life as an active person.  So, what are you waiting for, click to expand one of the headings below to get started.

AudioSquat

 

Phase 1-Chair Squats- 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, toes pointing forward, shoulders back, chest out, arms behind your head.
  2. Slowly sit down maintaining your position.
  3. Stand back up.

Phase 2- Squats- 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, toes pointing forward, shoulders back, chest out, arms behind head.
  2. Push your hips back while pushing through your heels as you bend into a sitting position while keeping your back straight, head and chest up until thighs are parallel to the ground. Do not let your knees go beyond your toes
  3. Continue to push through your heels as your stand back up while maintaining your back, head, and chest’s position.

 Phase 3-Weighted squats-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, toes pointing forward, shoulders back, chest out, arms down with hands holding weights by your side.  Start with 5 pounds in each arm and increase from there.
  2. Push your hips back while pushing through your heels as you bend into a sitting position while keeping your back straight, head and chest up until thighs are parallel to the ground. Do not let your knees go beyond your toes
  3. Continue to push through your heels as your stand back up while maintaining your back, head, and chest’s position.

 

AudioPush Ups

 

 Phase 1-Pushups on inclined surface- 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions

  1. Stand on the balls of your feet and lean on an inclined object, place your hands outside of your shoulders, and your  toes on the ground.
  2. Keep your elbows out and begin to slowly bring your body down, maintaining a straight back while keeping your neck straight with your spine.
  3. Keep your elbows out and push your body up maintaining a straight back while keeping your neck straight with your spine.

Phase 2- Pushups with knees down - 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions

 

      1. Place your hands flat outside of your shoulders on ground along with your knees and toes.
      2. Keep your elbows out and slightly rotated towards body, push your body up maintaining a straight back while keeping your neck straight with your spine.
      3. Continue this motion up and down maintaining positioning.

 

Phase 3-Pushups-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions

      1. Lie flat on the ground face down, put your hands flat just outside of your shoulders, and your tip toes on the ground
      2. Keep your elbows slightly rotated in towards your body and begin to push up maintaining a straight back while keeping your neck straight with your spine
      3. Continue this motion up and down maintaining positioning.

 

AudioPlank

 

 Phase 1-Plank with Knees down - 3 sets of 30 second to 1 minute holds

  1. Place your knees on the ground for support only with your hips forward. Do not arch your back
  2. Place your elbows and forearms flat on ground below you.
  3. Maintain a straight position while keeping your upper back flat and your spine straight. This is held in one position for the time given above.

Phase 2- Plank - 3 sets of 3 sets of 30 second to 1 minute holds

  1. Place your toes on the ground with your knees up and body straight. Do not arch your back
  2. Place your elbows and forearms flat on ground below you.
  3. Maintain a straight position while keeping your upper back flat and your spine straight. This is held in one position for the time given above.

Phase 3-Plank with leg raise -3 sets of 30 second to one minute holds.

  1. Place your toes on the ground with your knees up and body straight. Do not arch your back
  2. Place your elbows and forearms flat on ground below you.
  3. Lift one leg by lifting your heel towards the ceiling straight up and hold position
  4. Half way through switch leg.

 

AudioLunges

 

 Phase 1- Lunge w/o step back- 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions on each leg

  1. Start in a split stance with one foot in front of you flat and the other behind you leaning on your toe, hands on hips, keep your chest out and neck straight.
  2. Drop your body straight down, bending both legs while maintaining a straight position without letting your knee hit the floor.
  3. Push your body back up to starting position.

Phase 2- lunges w/push back - 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions on each leg

  1. Start in a standing position with hands on your hips keeping chest out and neck straight. Take a large step out into a split stance.
  2. Drop your body straight down, bending both legs maintaining a straight position without letting your knee hit the floor.
  3. Push your body back up to starting position.

Phase 3

  • Lunge with weight -3 sets of 15 repetitions (10-15 on each leg) – Hang the weights by your side and follow exact rules for the lunge w/push back (phase 2) Start with 5 pound weight in each hand

 

AudioHigh Row

 

Phase 1- High Row with band-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions  

  1. Stand straight up with an exercise band wrapped around a stable object similar to the structure of a pole, holding the band’s handles overhand using two hands. Your shoulders are down and your chest is out without arching your back.
  2. Pull the bands towards you with your elbows out and arms parallel to the ground.
  3. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you pull while maintaining proper positioning mentioned in step 1.

Phase 2- High Row with heavier band (more resistance than phase 1) - 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions

Phase 3-High Row with heavier band (more resistance than phase 2)  -3 sets of 10-15 repetitions

 

Body Row Body Row

 

 Phase 1- Body Row -Knees bent and feet in- 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions

  1. Using a straight bar such as the one found on a smith machine grab the bar over hand while sitting underneath with your arms fully extended. Elevate your hips till your body is straight leaning with your knees in towards your body and your feet flat.
  2. Pull your body up maintaining a straight position by keeping your hips, stomach, and lower back tight, with elbows at a 90 degree angle until your chest touches the bar or as close as you can get it. 
  3. Lower your body slowly to starting position.

Phase 2- Body Row -feet out and knees straight - 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions

  1. Using a straight bar such as the one found on a smith machine grab the bar over hand while sitting underneath with your arms fully extended. Elevate your hips till your body is straight leaning on the heels of your feet with your body straight from head to toe. 
  2. Pull your body up maintaining a straight position by keeping your hips, stomach, and lower back tight, with elbows at a 90 degree angle until your chest touches the bar. 
  3. Let your body slowly to starting position.

Phase 3-Body row with feet out on platform -3 sets of 10-15 repetitions

  1. Using a straight bar such as the one found on a smith machine grab the bar over hand while sitting underneath with your arms fully extended. Elevate your hips till your body is straight leaning on the heels of your feet on a low elevated platform with your body straight from head to toe. 
  2. Pull your body up maintaining a straight position by keeping your hips, stomach, and lower back tight, with elbows at a 90 degree angle until your chest touches the bar. 
  3. Let your body slowly to starting position.

 

RaisesHip/Glute Raises

 

Phase 1- Lateral hip raise- 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions on each leg

  1. Get down on your hands and knees maintaining a straight back and neck.
  2.  Lift one knee laterally away from your body (to the side) as high as you can without compromising a straight back and neck.
  3. Bring leg back down to starting position.

Phase 2- Glute raises- 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions

  1. Get down on your hands and knees maintaining a straight back and neck.
  2. Extend your leg out straight as high as you can without compromising a straight back and neck.
  3. Bring leg back down to starting position.

Phase 3- Glute hip raise combos -3 sets of 10-15 repetitions

 

      1. Get down on your hands and knees maintaining a straight back and neck.
      2.  Lift one knee laterally away from your body (to the side) as high as you can without compromising a straight back and neck.
      3. Bring leg back down to starting position.
      4. Extend your leg out straight as high as you can without compromising a straight back and neck.
      5. Bring leg back down to starting position.

That’s all there is to it.  It doesn’t take much exercise to make a big difference in how you feel and in how you look.  The health benefits will last for years to come.  And, almost all of these exercises can be done at home so there really is no excuse.  Plus, you don’t even need that much equipment to get a really good work-out.  A mat, some bands and eventually some dumbbells is really all you need to do every exercise I just described.  Just dedicate the time and don’t let anything stand in your way.  Make a commitment to this routine and I guarantee that you will notice a huge difference in just three months.  Now that you’ve mastered the functional strength training routine, let’s get our bodies moving and grooving.

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