Stuff Sam Says
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Sam is a trainer and physical therapist. He's very fit and very into weight lifting. I've had a few training sessions with him and thought I'd share what he's told me.
About weight lifting: Sam says if you can complete about 8 repetitions of an exercise three times with good form, but can't do even one more, the weight is right. If you can't complete 3 sets of 8 reps, the weight is too heavy. And if you can do three sets of 10 - 12 repetitions or more, with good form, you should use a heavier weight.
Take a very short break between sets - 45 seconds, a minute at most. Stretch out the muscle, or massage it to break up the lactic acid; take 3 or 4 deep breaths, then start the next set. The goal is to fatigue the muscle (Sam says 'tear the muscle up' - because the damage and healing is what makes the muscle grow & get stronger)
There are ways to 'cheat' and it's OK to cheat if you do it right. For instance he suggested I sit down to do a shoulder press because I was compensating by leaning back, which can cause injury. Soon I'll be able to press that weight standing up, but when I move to heavier weight I'll do it seated for a while. He's showed me ways to do front raises and lateral raises that make them a smidge easier (tiny smidge) to squeeze out that last couple of reps in a set.
He says that for some reason girls tend to stand with their knees locked. It's better, says Sam, to stand with knees slightly flexed, because when the joint is locked all the weight is on the bones of the joint; when the knees are flexed, the leg muscles are bearing some of the weight. I'm not a 'girl' anymore, by any means; but I do stand with locked knees. I'm trying to learn to keep them flexed.
I asked him why some workouts seem so hard when I'm doing the same stuff. He says it could be poor hydration - not enough water during the day. Could be not the right food - my body doesn't have the right fuel available. Could be over-training - muscles haven't had enough time to recuperate since the last session (that hasn't been my problem so far). Could be not getting enough sleep (that IS a problem). Or it could be an illness coming on.
Sam says our bodies adapt. We have to keep them confused. Every 3 months or so it's good to change our fitness routine, shake things up so we keep improving.
About nutrition: About 30% of calories should come from lean protein. (Sam's a big fan of tuna.) About 50% should come from carbohydrates - mostly green vegetables; some grains, beans & fruit but he thinks fruit is too high in sugar. (I still rely on fruit for a lot of my carbs - do you know how much spinach you'd have to eat?)
He says when you finish a workout you have ONE HOUR to eat some lean protein and carbs. He's pretty insistent about that - when we're leaving he'll say "You have ONE HOUR!" I usually have a couple of oranges and some roasted chicken or tuna with me because of his reminder.
Having a workout buddy can help keep someone motivated but it can also be a distraction. Depends on the person, their disposition, and how well matched we are in goals. If one person is really striving to push herself, and the other doesn't want to mess her hair up, neither is likely to be satisfied with their workouts.
When we first talked about setting up some training sessions I told him I'd lost weight before but never stuck with it. He asked, genuinely curious, "Why'd you quit?" I answered vaguely - I got injured, or there was some crisis in my life that distracted me. But his question stayed in my mind and I kept asking myself "Why DID I quit?" I realized I'd never really thought through what I was doing or why I was doing it.
A couple of weeks later we were talking again, & he asked "How much weight do you want to lose?" My answer surprised me. I said "I want to be fit." And that is the truth! I'm not after a number on the scale, or a clothing size, or anyone's approval. I want to find out what I can do - how strong can I be? How agile? How vigorous? What will that feel like? I really want to know!