By Jay Murdock
Posted January 8, 9:36pm

First let me take this opportunity to wish you and yours a safe and prosperous New Year.  It’s hard to believe that we just finished the first decade of the new millennium.

Now is usually the time we all look to make resolutions for the coming year  and if  taming the bulge and getting more fit is one of your goals for 2011 you are not alone.  Over 66 percent of adult Americans are considered overweight or obese by recent studies, so it should be no surprise to find out that weight loss is one of the most popular New Year resolutions – and regular exercise is the best way to do it. Regular exercise has been associated with more health benefits than anything else known to man.  Some studies have shown that exercise reduces the risk of some cancers, increases longevity, helps achieve and maintain weight loss, enhances mood, lowers blood pressure, and even improves arthritis.  In short, regular exercise keeps you healthy and makes you look and feel better.  However, when considering a exercise regime, setting reasonable goals and staying focused are the key to success for those  millions of Americans who made a New Year’s commitment to shed those extra pounds.

When it comes to loosing weight we want to choose the right exercise equipment and the right training regime.  First let me say this – regardless of the claims you  hear on TV, you can not target train areas for weight loss.   No machine or exercise is going to trim your tummy or slim your hips by themselves.  The body doesn’t work that way. Your body is genetically predisposed to store fat in certain areas  and usually those are are going be the hardest  areas to  oose the weight. You have to devise a training plan that combines aerobic and anaerobic exercises with a proper diet and perform the workout at a pace that maximizes your bodies fat burning capacity.

One of the reasons many of us give up and don’t stick to our resolution to loose weight and be more fit is that we look for the results to be immediate.  After a couple of weeks of  super intensive workouts when we don’t get the results we desire we become discouraged and eventually give up.  However if your goal is to loose weight the “super-intensive” heart pounding workout isn’t going to get the job done, particularly if you’ve led a fairly sedentary lifestyle.  As a matter of fact, if your goal is weight loss what you want to do is train at a less intensive more moderate pace.

The Five Target Heart Rate Zones

In order to understand how this works we have to first take a look at the human body and how to train it at a pace to better meet your fitness goals.   There are  five different heart rate training zones for five different levels of exercise intensity, each of which corresponds with various metabolic or respiratory transport mechanisms within your body.

% of Maximum Heart Rate

100% – 90% = Red Zone

80% – 90% = Anaerobic Threshold Zone

70% – 80% = Aerobic Zone

60% – 70% =  Weight Management Zone

50% – 70% = Moderate Activity Zone

Training in one or all of these zones can play a part in your overall fitness or training program depending on your individual goals.  We use the term “zone’ because target heart rate shouldn’t be thought of as a specific number of beats per minute. Rather you should think in terms of of training in a range within your target heart rate zone, say for instance 135 – 145 beats per minute (bpm).  For example, the Moderate Activity zone ranges from 50% of your maximum heart rate (MAX HR) at its low end to 60% at the high end.  It doesn’t require a great deal of effort to get one’s heart to the Moderate Activity zone range, particularly if you haven’t exercised in a while.  Generally speaking, for weight loss, exercising in the Moderate-to-Weight Management Zone for 20 minutes, three times a week will get the job done.  The reason training at the Moderate-to-Weight Management (50-70% of MAX HR) is so effective is that your body actually burns fat to fuel the exercise, whereas with a more intense workout it doesn’t.

The million dollar question is first – how do you know what your MAX HT is and how do you train at a given percentage of it?  There are a number of heart rate monitors on the market today that range anywhere from under fifty bucks to a couple of hundred depending on what you want to spend and some fitness machines come equipped with them.  Although not as convenient , you can also  take your pulse manually to determine your heart rate while training.  As for determining your specific Target Heart Rate here is a formula commonly used to determine  the Moderate Activity Zone for weight loss.

Moderate Activity Zone (MAZ) for Weight Loss

Men: 200 – Age = MAX HT x 60% = MAZ  (Subtract your age from 200 then multiply the difference by 60%)

Women: 220 – Age = MAX HT x 60% = MAZ (Subtract your age from 220 then multiply the difference by 60%)

Again, understanding how the body functions, when working with our athlete’s we build in training goals designed to meet specific Target Heart Rate Zones (THRZ).  For instance in the preseason our training is focused more on the Aerobic Zone.  As  we progress toward the early season our objective is more of an aerobic/anaerobic mix.  As we transition to the Pre-competitive/competitive season we start incorporate drills that are geared toward the Anaerobic Threshold Zone and ultimately the Red Line Zone.

But for the weekend warrior only looking to beat the “battle of the bulge” and loose a few pounds – the “no pain, no gain” school of exercise doesn’t apply.  A more moderate workout is what well help you keep that New Year’s resolution.  Remember, fat burns slowly, but burn in higher amounts if the exercise intensity is low.  Carbohydrates burn at a faster rate and are the body’s first source of fuel if the exercise is more demanding. So if the goal is to loose weight then you want to burn fat to fuel the exercise.

Exercise Equipment

There are so many different finds of exercise equipment out there to  train all parts of the body and so many of them end up being used as coat racks or on eBay.  So if you had to pick which was the best and most efficient piece of exercise equipment to help you keep your fitness goals for 2011 what would it be?

Treadmills are probably the most popular kind of exercise equipment you can buy.  They are used by all ages and even your doctor will tell you to get one and use it in good health.  It is the next best thing to walking or jogging outside but is more convenient and can be used anytime you want to exercise.  Treadmills can move slowly for walking or faster for running.  This type of exercise equipment will give you a total body workout and comes in either manual or electric models.

But for me, if I had to pick just one piece of equipment it would be a Nordic Track Ski Machine.

Nordic Track started out over 20 years ago with the ever popular Nordic Track Skier.  This was the first of it’s kind and still is a classic piece of exercise equipment.  It simulates a cross country skiing and allows you to work both your arms and your legs (or just your legs if you don’t want the upper body workout).

Just like cross country skiing, it burns lots of calories and can tone your body quickly.

Strengths:

Total Body Workout – The Nordic Track ski machine works both your arms and legs giving you an overall total body workout.  This can get you faster results in less time and is great for cross-training. Plus the skier also offers you a no-impact workout that is easy on the joints.

High Calorie Burning – Most of the user reviews we read of this machine said that the Nordic Track skier helped them lose weight and tone up extremely quickly.  Having personally used a Nordic Track Ski Machine some years ago, I can agree.  While working at our local Nordic Track outlet I would use one of the skiers in the showroom on a regular basis and I noticed  immediately that my pants were loose within 3-4 days of using it.  I also noticed  that even at a moderate pace I began to sweat very quickly within minutes of using this machine which means I was burning more fat. Within 4 months I had lost 47 pounds doing nothing but moderately walking on the Nordic Track on my shifts at the store in between waiting on customers.

My dramatic weight loss prompted one of my friends to suggest that I consider coming out of retirement and trying my hand at running competitively again.  Eventually I purchased on of the machines (the Achiever $799.00) and began training in earnest for the masters competition that summer.   Using the Nordic Track and resistance training as my base in the winter, that summer I trained for and ran my first 100m dash since high school and ended up winning the Lake Eire Masters Championships. I won the Bronze in my division at the Ohio Games and was Lake Eire Masters Indoor 400m Champion the following indoor season.

Holds Up Well Over the Long Run – Several user reviews commented on how their ski machine had lasted them 5 to 7 years and was still going strong, I have personally had my machine for over 10 years.  Considering the price ($599 for the Pro model), this is quite a feat for a budget piece of equipment.

Weaknesses:

The skiing motion (especially if you’re not used to it) can take some getting used to.  It definitely doesn’t have the natural feel of walking on a treadmill.  But if you’re committed to it, you’ll get used to the motion fairly quickly.

Exercise boredom is a problem for ANY machine so it’s recommended that you place the skier in front of a television or purchase a reading rack for it.

Conclusion:

The Nordic Track skier is ideal if you want to lose weight and tone up very fast.  It’s excellent for cross-training and provides very low impact on the joints. It also burns a lot of calories in very little time which would be ideal for the time-pressed exerciser who doesn’t have a lot of time to waste.   It comes equipped with a heart rate monitor which I incorporated into my training regime in order to more efficiently reach my training goals and as I stated previously the results were far more than I expected.  I’m no longer employed by Nordic Track and have no interest in the company, but if you are looking to keep your fitness goals for 2011 – I highly recommend their ski machines.

In any event, whether you choose to use a treadmill or any other type of fitness equipment the key is to work smarter not harder.  Set reasonable goals, be consistent and be sure to check with your physician before beginning any fitness program.

If you have any questions or would like further information on anything we’ve discussed in this post feel free to contact me at jmurdock@flight101ssd.com.

Have a Happy and Healthy New Year!
Coach Murdock
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Comments
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  2. Thanks for the informative post on weight loss. I’m a licensed mental health counselor and am writing a book and blog called “Reclaiming the Plunder of the Body Image Bandit.” Food addiction is much more about our hearts and our stories than calories and carbs. Since you are in the exercise field, you probably realize that most people who lose weight gain it all back over time – plus more. This is because they don’t address the underlying issues that pulled them through the doorway of food addiction. My book and blog explain what it means to treat the cause of food and body image issues (as well as other eating disorders) instead of treating the symptoms only. I hope you get a chance to pop over to peruse the blog. I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks again for the informative post. Take care, Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC http://www.cherriemac.wordpress.com

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  4. This actually answered my downside, thank you!

  5. […] Keeping That Resolution to Get Fit in 2011 Share this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Comments […]

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