Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Staying on track by Angela Mraz

Staying on track
Consistent and productive exercise is nothing less than - hard work.
It's all about commitment, adhering to a schedule, planning daily exercises and diets, executing all of it and finally coming to grips with the fact that changes to your body are normally slow and subtle. Hence lies the need for motivation. Sometimes, a whole lot of it. For me the biggest pool of motivation is the inner and outward feelings of living a healthy lifestyle. Eating unhealthy makes you feel sluggish. Not exercising, which is a great reliever of stress, doesn't allow for a good night's sleep. There are so many great reasons to exercise regularly, so the examples could go on and on.
Most places I go people will stare at my arms or shoulders, the brave ones will actually ask me if I work out. Compliments, especially from strangers, about the condition or shapeliness of your body can probably be ranked as the number one form of motivation. But what if you are just starting out? First and foremost, let me tell you that a proven formula for disaster is a lack of knowledge and a good plan. FITLatina.com is a great source of information to help you learn and develop a plan. I have seen many new gym members come and go. They exercise for several weeks and then one day vanish, never to be seen again. Where did they go? Did they have a well thought out plan? Or were they too unrealistic with their expectations. Unrealism will dry out your motivation pool in rapid fashion.
The boys and girls you see in the magazines are extremely dedicated to their craft. This is our job and what we love to do the most. Unless you are gifted genetically, plan on working out for many, many years if you want to come close to some of these physiques.
Ok, so now we have the foundation set with knowledge and a good plan chocked full of realistic goals. Your plan needs to be structured around short and long range goals. Short range goals shouldn't require a tremendous amount of effort to be accomplished. Getting to bed a half and hour early on Sunday so you can get up earlier on Monday to hit the gym is a good example of a short range goal that can be easily accomplished. Short range goals can and should also be created each and every day! Long range goals take a little more thought and planning. To simply say that you want to get in shape does not constitute a long range goal! For this goal, you need to be much more specific. What exactly does getting into shape mean to you? Is it being able to climb 3 flights of stairs without being winded? Is it to decrease you waistline or drop a dress size? Or is it to tighten the muscles in your arms or to lose a few pounds from your thighs? Remember, be specific and be realistic and most importantly - write down all your goals!
One of my best friends in the world is my workout journal. And honestly, I have come to learn the value of keeping one. In the beginning I would just go to the gym and lift weights, run on the treadmill and try to eat healthy. Like most people my memory is limited in its ability to recall how much I squatted last week and for how many reps I did it for. My portable workout journal, which travels with me to the gym each and every time I go, is an IPAQ with a simple spreadsheet broken down into the days of the week. Believe me when I tell you that the times I do forget to bring it, I am lost and never feel that I worked out as hard as I should.
Here is a great place to talk about an "on the fly"; short range goal. Let's say that the last time you did dumbbell presses your heaviest lift was 20lbs at 4 reps on the 4th and final set. Now here you are in the gym, workout journal in hand and you just wrote down your rep count for your 3rd set. A sudden rush of energy overcomes your body while you reach for the 20lbs dumbbells and you set out to beat your last week rep count of 4. An "on the fly" short range goal! 1 press, 2 press, 3 press, 4 press and 5 press! It's simple accomplishments like these that will continue to fill up your motivational pool. Journals can be simple or complex friends. They may contain daily information on workouts, the way you feel when you wake up in the morning, aches and pains, times to eat your meals, supplement information and anything else that you feel is important to write down. As the days go by your journal will contain a wealth of information. Sometimes I look back a year ago and see what my best squat or curl was. I can see how far I come as well as it helps me set more realistic goals down the road.
Another great idea is to take full body pictures of yourself (front, back and side shots) each month. Don't be over critical by what you see as the months go by. Changes are often subtle but you should see some positive results. When the motivational pool runs shallow the excuses not to exercise start to amass and take priority, so what do you do?
1) Look at your journal and re-read the reasons for why you started to work out in the first place. Did you accomplish some of your goals? Do they need to be more realistic?
2) We all go through stressful situations in our life. Remember one of the best stress relievers is working out.
3) Sometimes a simple thing like a buying new workout outfit will do wonders.
4) Make friends at the gym. Your gym should be a place where you feel comfortable, a place where you have someone to say hello to, and trust me, your hard work and dedication will pay off. Fellow workout-er's are quick to realize and pay compliments.
5) Find a workout partner that can help keep you motivated. When you may be low in motivation your partner may be high and vice versa. Also you now have an additional commitment to go to the gym. It wouldn't be fair to leave your partner hanging, would it?
6) Take a week off. Sometimes a simple re-charge of the batteries will do wonders! If you do decide to take the week off then do exactly that! Don't let the guilt of not hitting the weights pull you back into the gym early. By the time the week passes your motivational pool will probably be overflowing.
7) Get your hands on a fitness related magazine. I constantly find gallons of motivation by looking at my competition in the magazines.
8) You are not alone. We have all been there - burnt out, fed up, tired, hurt, or what ever you want to call it. There are hundreds of obstacles and set backs that lie in the wait. Keep your chin up and stay the course - you will be successful!
9) Find a role model. Someone who you may be able to communicate with via e-mail or written correspondence. There are many wonderful athletes out there that fully understand what you want to accomplish and just how difficult it can be.
10) Read 1-9 again!
Best success,

Training by Angela Mraz

Information overload, a host of healthy recommendations complete with exercise illustrations and points for adopting healthy eating habits. What do you do, where do you begin and exactly what is right for you?
I am an advocate of forming good lifelong habits in lieu of flash in the pants diets or advertising campaigns boasting overnight changes. It takes approximately 21 days of doing something day after day for it to become habit forming. I can’t stress it enough; the importance to make time for doing something healthy as well as all the wonderful gifts you garner through it.
One of the first things I realized when I came to the United States was the amount of advertisements featuring slender, confident looking women. I wanted the adulation that I knew these women got but in the beginning I feel prey to the difficulties in accomplishing this goal. I remember "bumping around" in the gym - doing a little bit of this and that – eating healthy on the weekdays yet enjoying the tastes of Spanish foods on the weekend. Years of staring in the mirror not happy with what I saw promising myself that I will do better tomorrow. As I look back I can see how and where I fell short. I didn’t realize the personal commitment needing to make positive changes. What was healthy food, how much time and how often I should exercise and what types of exercises I needed to do. In November of 2005, at the wonderful age of 34, I was crowned Champion in both the WNBF Figure & Best Body Competitions. I stood on that stage in adulation, my personal result of turning learning and exercise in to a habit.
We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.
A wonderful quote by John Dryden -

The following exercises are geared for working "trouble spot" areas. Both the medicine and stability ball can be easily purchase at your local sporting goods store.
SUMO SQUATS (legs spread wide apart)
Performing sumo squats works more of the inside leg muscles than does the standard squat. I personally like the feel I get doing this movement. Stretching is important since flexibility will allow you to go deep into the movement imploring greater use of your glutes when you push back up. Keep your toes pointed out, slowly lower yourself, count to 3, and then mentally focus on your muscles in your legs. Push yourself up for a count of 1. In the photo Angela is holding the medicine ball out. This movement can also be done hugging the ball or holding it down between your legs.
RECOMMENDED SETS AND REPS: 2-3 Sets of 12-15 Repetitions.
REST: 30-45 seconds between sets.
Lunges are a fantastic exercise that targets both your leg and glute muscles. It takes some time and dexterity to get the movement down and flowing but learn and use it for great results. The focus is on the muscles in the extended forward leg. Stand with feet together, step out with either leg (the length of a normal walking step) and then lower yourself down. Feel for the stretch in your muscles, hold for a count of three and push back up. Lunges demand your concentration on the mind and muscle link. Feel your muscles work.
RECOMMENDED SETS AND REPS: 2-3 Sets of 12-15 Repetitions.
REST: 30-45 seconds between sets.
Dead lifts can be perhaps described as the Queen of back of the leg exercises. Standing with feet together you should begin bending at the waist. Concentrate on lower the ball down on a direct straight line until it touches your toes. Hold this position for a count of 2. Then put a slight bend in your knees and push forward with your buttock as you rise back up to a full standing position. The key to this exercise comes at the point where you bend your knees slightly and push your buttock forward. This action will ensure you use your leg and glute muscles instead of lower back muscles.
RECOMMENDED SETS AND REPS: 2-3 Sets of 12-15 Repetitions.
REST: 30-45 seconds between sets.
This movement is a mainstay in Angela’s legs workout. It isolates the muscles per leg allowing for a perfect blend of mind to muscle focus and a great workout. Use the stability ball as a rest for the non-working leg. Standing straight and tall begin bending at the waist. The path of the medicine ball should be straight down toward your toe. Allow the ball to touch your toe and hold the position for a count of 2. Rising back up the standing position should consist of the following key elements. Bend slightly at the knee and concentrate on pushing your buttock down and then out as you rise back to a standing position.
RECOMMENDED SETS AND REPS: 3-4 Sets of 15-20 Repetitions.
REST: 30-45 seconds between sets.
Hack squats are a wonderful exercise you can use to work the muscles in the front of your legs. To perform this exercise, situate the small of your back on the stability ball with your legs extended fully out. Your Feet should be flat on the floor and the medicine ball should be held directly over your chest. Without moving your feet, slowly roll down the ball moving your buttock to the back of your ankles. In the bottom of this movement your buttock should be nearly touching your ankles and the upper portion of your back should be resting on the stability ball. Hold this position for a count of two. To complete the hack squat you must push back using the muscles in the front of your legs. One full repetition results in your legs in the full extended position and the small of your back once again resting on the stability ball. You can add variation to this exercise by beginning in the starting position as described above however; hold the medicine ball straight over you knees. As you work your way down to the bottom part of the movement carry the medicine ball over and behind your head. Again, hold for a count of 2. As you push out of the position, carry the medicine ball over your head back toward your knees.
RECOMMENDED SETS AND REPS: 2-3 Sets of 10-15 Repetitions.
REST: 30-45 seconds between sets.
The old adage of "no pain, no gain" holds true for this exercise. So if you’re looking for a single exercise targeted specifically for your buttock this is the one. Using the stability ball for support, place the medicine ball in the behind your knee holding it in place by bending your lower leg up. Your fixed leg should remain straight throughout the movement. The correct start and finish position is having both knees side by side. The upward movement should be a focus on pushing the ball upward using the back of your leg or "trying to touch the ceiling with the bottom of your foot." Almost immediately you should feel your glutes begin to work. Push up as far as you can and hold that position for a count of 5 or more. Slowly lower your leg until your knee comes alongside the other. Work both sides of your buttock.
RECOMMENDED SETS AND REPS: 3-4 Sets of 15-20 Repetitions.
REST: 30-45 seconds between sets.
This exercise targets the outside of your hips. Lying with your back and buttock flat on the ground, place the back of your lower legs on the stability ball. Hold the medicine ball over and beyond your head. The movement begins with moving the ball over your head. As soon as the ball is directly over your chest, begin pushing your stomach up in an effort to meet the ball. The goal is to achieve a straight body position with only your shoulders touching the floor and the back of your lower legs remained fixed on the stability ball.
RECOMMENDED SETS AND REPS: 2-3 Sets of 10-15 Repetitions.
REST: 30-45 seconds between sets.

In doing this exercise you need to focus on using the muscles that are on the inside of your upper legs. Sit on the floor and place the stability ball between your knees. There are several different variations in performing this exercise. Angela recommends the "Triple 10’s". The first 10 repetitions of squeezing are performed in rapid succession followed by 10 repetitions of a slow, hard squeeze, holding the squeeze as hard as you can for 10 seconds. The final ten repetitions are performed again, in rapid succession. This is a great exercise geared toward working the inside of your legs.
10 reps fast, 10 slow, stead squeeze and hold (10 seconds), 10 reps fast.
Repeat the above 3 times.
REST: 30-45 seconds between sets.
Having a fit tone tummy requires two things; a healthy eating regime and a certain amount of exercise. The latter, abdominal crunches are a perfect exercise which focuses on the abs. Using the stability and medicine ball for abs provides unique ways to target the upper, mid and lower portions of your stomach. Lay back on the stability ball so that your lower back is balanced on the ball. Feet should set flat and wide enough to prevent rolling off the stability ball. Hold the medicine ball directly over your forehead and begin to lean back slowly. Using only your abdominal muscles lower yourself backwards. You should continue back until your head is parallel to the ground. Hold this position for a count of 3 and then slowly decent back forward again using only your abdominal muscles to get you back to the start position. You can add degrees of difficulty to this exercise by shifting the medicine ball further away and out from your body.
RECOMMENDED SETS AND REPS: 3 Sets of 20-25 reps.
REST: 30-45 seconds between sets.
This is simple exercise that targets the meat and muscle of the front upper arm (bicep). Place the medicine ball in either hand, kneel in front of the stability ball and rest the length of the back of your arm on top. Extend your arm all the way down and out. You begin the movement by curling or bringing the medicine ball towards your shoulder. When the medicine ball comes in contact with your shoulder, focus on your bicep by squeezing it as hard as you can for a count of 3. Relax and slowly extend your arm back to the start position.
RECOMMENDED SETS AND REPS: 2-3 Sets of 10-15 Repetitions.
REST: 30-45 seconds between sets.
The large muscle in the back of your arm is called the tricep and is called in to action by performing the Tri-Up exercise. Sitting on the stability ball, raise the medicine ball directly overhead. Arms are fully extended with elbows pointed toward the front. Slowly lower the medicine ball behind your head by bending your arms backwards. Lower you arms until your forearms are parallel to the ground. Hold for a count of 3 and then extend your arms upward.
RECOMMENDED SETS AND REPS: 2-3 Sets of 10-15 Repetitions.
REST: 30-45 seconds between sets.
This is a great exercise that will get the blood flowing to the back of your upper arms. Stand in front of the stability ball, reach back and place the palm of your hands on the top of the ball. Hands should be spread far enough apart so good balance can be achieved. In the proper start position your upper legs will be perpendicular to your lower legs. From this position you bend at the elbows allowing your buttock to lower to the floor. At the point where your upper arms become parallel to the ground, stop and hold for a count of 3. Using your upper arms press yourself back to the starting position.
For added resistance you can place the medicine ball on top of your lap when performing this exercise.
RECOMMENDED SETS AND REPS: 2-3 Sets of 10-15 Repetitions.
REST: 30-45 seconds between sets.
These exercises target problematic spots we all must exercise in the effort to develop a body shape we desire. For the beginner I recommend choosing 1 exercise for each body part, doing the recommended set and rep counts at least 3 to 4 times per week. Do everything possible to make this a habit. If you have a calendar, mark down the days and times when you plan to exercise. As I mentioned earlier, the equipment used for this article can easily be purchased at your local sporting goods store.
I tell people I train to go out and buy yourself a dress or bathing suit a couple sizes smaller than what you are wearing now. Make fitting in to it a goal for several months down the road. I follow that statement up with the old adage that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Making change to your body is a slow process. Stepping on the scale or mirror gazing should be done no more than once per week.
Be selective when you go grocery shopping. Simple measures like buying skim milk and diet sodas go a long way. Salmon, tuna, chicken breast, lean meats, and turkey should be substituted for less healthy alternatives. How about starting each morning with a couple egg whites and half a bagel, or snacking on vegetables or apples during work?
I’ve been exercising for nearly 10 years. For the last five of those years my life has changed significantly by making exercise and eating healthy a habit. You can do it too! There are so many wonderful outcomes that most anyone, despite age and condition can achieve. At 35, I am in the best shape of my life. You should understand that personal success and reaching your goal requires allies. There are many great people from my family, Gold’s Gym in Totowa, and Ruth Chris Steakhouse in Parsippany who have helped me stay the course by simply acknowledging my accomplishments.
Angela Mraz can be reached for personal training, seminars, or QA at www.angela-mraz.net

MHP Supplements & Victor Martinez

Victor is a competitor possessing unimaginable genetic gifts. His potential is so extreme that eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman has publicly stated that Victor will be the next Mr. Olympia.
It is easy to see from early in his career that Victor possessed great potential. However, his tremendous potential would prove to be Victor’s albatross. The expectations for Victor were set high. Even though he managed to earn his pro card at the 2000 Nationals and win the 2003 Night of Champions and the 2004 GNC Show of Strength—the next few years would prove to be challenging.
His subsequent dismal and disappointing 9th at the ’04 Olympia set the stage for what would be a series of blows that would call into question Victor’s competitive future.
The ensuing ’05 contest season would see Victor struggle with 7th at the Arnold Classic, 3rd at the New York Pro (formerly the NOC), 5th at the San Francisco Pro and 5th again at the Olympia. After that confounding season, Victor dragged his body home looking at his shoes. What was he going to do now? Perhaps the greatest potential in the sport just couldn’t seem to get it together. And Victor himself wondered if he ever could.
Then came a career changing opportunity for Victor. MHP, perhaps the most respected brand in sports nutrition approached Victor with an endorsement opportunity. Not only did this provide Victor the financial support to allow him to focus on his training, but he began working with MHP’s nutrition experts on crafting an advanced supplement regimen that would prove to make the difference and the changes were obvious.

"MHP supplements definitely made a huge difference for me. I’ve tried other products in the past, but they weren’t nearly as effective. The core to my supplement program is MHP’s Probolic-SR, TRAC Extreme-NO and Glutamine-SR. I just recently added Cyclin-GF and SARM-X and have seen tremendous results. If you train hard you should add these products to your program as well."

Victor Martinez
2007 Arnold Classic Champion
Team MHP
The staples to any sound supplement program are a quality protein, creatine, arginine/nitric oxide and glutamine. Victor’s core supplements include MHP’s Probolic-SR protein, TRAC Extreme-NO and Glutamine-SR.

2006 gave us, and Victor, the hope that things were turning around. He showed up at the Arnold Classic and gave us a glimpse of the new Victor – bigger, harder and more imposing. News of his controversial third place finish sent a shock wave through the sport. Victor was making his comeback! He was bigger, sharper and more striking than ever before.
At the ’06 Olympia, he showed up even better at over 260 pounds! He blew everyone away. His image in silhouette behind the screen at the evening finals made the hair
on the back of people’s necks stand up. He was just amazing- only a fraction from pushing the great Ronnie Coleman into third place instead of second behind Jay Cutler.