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How to Boost your Body

immune-bodyThe idea of boosting your immunity is enticing, but the ability to do so has proved elusive for several reasons. The immune system is precisely that — a system, not a single entity. To function well, it requires balance and harmony. There is still much that researchers don’t know about the intricacies and interconnectedness of the immune response. For now, there are no scientifically proven direct links between lifestyle and enhanced immune function.

But that doesn’t mean the effects of lifestyle on the immune system aren’t intriguing and shouldn’t be studied. Quite a number of researchers are exploring the effects of diet, exercise, age, psychological stress, herbal supplements, and other factors on the immune response, both in animals and in humans. Although interesting results are emerging, thus far they can only be considered preliminary. That’s because researchers are still trying to understand how the immune system works and how to interpret measurements of immune function. The following sections summarize some of the most active areas of research into these topics. In the meantime, general healthy-living strategies are a good way to start giving your immune system the upper hand.

Fitness and Health

Muscular Strength Testing

Many studies have shown that maintaining or increasing muscular strength and endurance throughout the lifespan is important for preventing disease, maintaining health and preserving the ability to perform normal life activities.

Muscular strength is defined as the maximal force that can be generated by a specific muscle or muscle group during a single movement (ACSM 2005b; Heyward 2002; Howley & Franks 2003). The force generated is specific to the muscles involved, as well as the type (e.g., isometric or isotonic, concentric or eccentric), speed and joint angle of the contraction (ACSM 2005b). The muscular strength test results are usually expressed in terms of the amount of weight lifted during the test. The muscular strength test that will be discussed in this section is the one-repetition maximum (1RM). Other strength tests include handgrip dynamometer (isometric) and isokinetic testing.

1RM Testing. The 1RM is the heaviest weight that can be lifted one time while maintaining good form. This type of maximal strength testing is considered the gold standard for evaluating dynamic strength (ACSM 2005b). Because this type of testing involves the use of isotonic or dynamic muscular contractions, it translates well to real-life situations, as well as exercise performance.

Any exercise can be used to determine a 1RM. The procedures are as follows (ACSM 2005b; Heyward 2002; Howley & Franks 2003):

1. After a period of familiarization with the movement, have the client perform a light warm-up of 5–10 reps at 40%– 60% of his or her perceived maximum resistance (light to moderate exertion).

2. After a 1-minute (min) rest with light stretching, cue the client to perform 3–5 reps at 60%–80% of perceived maximum resistance (moderate to heavy exertion).

3. Add 5–10 pounds (lb). If the client is successful at lifting that weight, allow a rest period of 3–5 min and add another 5–10 lb. Continue this process until a failed attempt occurs. Record the last successfully completed lift as the 1RM.

4. Express the results relative to the client’s body weight (dividing the 1RM by the client’s weight).

The goal is to find the 1RM within a maximum of five attempts. A good familiarization period and clear communication between you and the client are key to an accurate and timely result.

Is 1RM testing safe for everyone? Research has demonstrated that if appropriate procedures are followed, this test is safe for all ages and even for individuals with various clinical conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and pulmonary disease (Heyward 2002). However, many professionals in the fitness or rehabilitation setting do not use the 1RM test to a great extent, preferring to be cautious with clients who have pre-existing conditions. With these clients, using one of the prediction equations, which employ a much lower resistance, is a very helpful alternative. For a list of 1RM prediction equations, see check http://mtcmma.com.

Body and Weight Training

dumbell

Many studies of Midwest Training Center have shown that maintaining or increasing muscular strength and endurance throughout the lifespan is important for preventing disease, maintaining health and preserving the ability to perform normal life activities.

While free weights and machines can certainly make your clients stronger, they often target muscles rather than movement. In addition, many free-weight and machine exercises, such as lat pull-downs and biceps curls, are open-chain exercises, which use only one joint as the resistance is moved away from or toward the body using freely movable limbs.

In contrast, most body-weight training exercises are closed-chain exercises, which use multiple joints as the resistance is moved away from or toward an anchored body part. Closed-chain exercises, which are more functional, result in greater motor unit activation and synchronization and better strength performance compared with open-chain exercises (Augustsson et al. 1998; Brindle et al. 2002).

By performing body-weight training exercises, your clients will not only look better; they will also learn how to train three-dimensional movement, acquire a greater kinesthetic awareness and become empowered as they perform tasks with their bodies. Moreover, body-weight exercises make your clients’ workouts portable, an added benefit for people who travel a lot or for those who have trouble motivating themselves to go to the gym.

9-Week Body-Weight Training Program
Training is the same for the first 2 weeks of each 3-week cycle, with the third week used for recovery and adaptation. Have your clients do these workouts 2-3 times per week. As clients progress, initially increase volume (# of reps with body weight), then decrease volume and increase intensity (by adding additional weight) and recovery period.

Weeks 1 and 2

  • chin-ups: 2 x 10 reps with body weight (or weight-assisted machine), with 1-minute rest
  • squats: 2 x 10 reps, with 1-minute rest
  • push-ups: 2 x 8–10 reps, with 1-minute rest

Choose two exercises each workout from traditional crunches, V-sits, stability ball crunches, reverse crunches, twist crunches and medicine ball crunches: 2 x 20 reps for each, with 1-minute rest.

Week 3 (Recovery)

Same as above, using 66% of # of reps from weeks 1 and 2 for each exercise.

Weeks 4 and 5

  • chin-ups: 2 x 15 reps with body weight (or weight-assisted machine), with 1-minute rest
  • squats: 2 x 15 reps, with 1-minute rest
  • push-ups: 2 x 12–15 reps, with 1-minute rest

Choose two exercises each workout from traditional crunches, V-sits, stability ball crunches, reverse crunches, twist crunches and medicine ball crunches: 2 x 30 reps for each, with 1-minute rest.

Week 6 (Recovery)

Same as above, using 66% of # of reps from weeks 4 and 5 for each exercise.

Weeks 7 and 8

  • chin-ups: 2 x 10 reps with 105%–110% of body weight (or of weight lifted using weight-assisted machine), with 90-second rest
  • squats: 2 x 10 reps with 105%–110% of body weight, with 90-second rest
  • push-ups: 2 x 10 reps with 105%–110% of body weight, with 90-second rest

Choose two exercises each workout from traditional crunches, V-sits, stability ball crunches, reverse crunches, twist crunches and medicine ball crunches: 2 x 20 reps with 105%–110% of body weight for each, with 90-second rest.