It would be difficult to over-exaggerate the importance protein plays in our bodies. Like fats and carbohydrates, protein is considered a macronutrient, which means the body needs it in large quantities. When you consider that protein accounts for around 16 percent of your total body weight, then it's understandable why it's considered one of the body's basic building blocks.
For athletes, including both endurance and power athletes, the need for protein is greater than it is for non-athletes. As a general rule, about 10 to 15 percent of an athlete's total calories should be from protein.
Why Does Your Body Need Protein?
Your body breaks down the protein you consume into amino acids, which are used for several purposes, including as an energy source. It's also an important component in every cell in the body as your body uses it to make hormones, enzymes and other body chemicals. It's an important building block of bones, muscle, cartilage, skin and blood.
Why Is Protein Important?
For Immune Function
Proteins are essential to immune function. Antibodies are actually proteins that your body sends out when it is exposed to potentially harmful substances such as bacteria and viruses. In turn, the antibodies seek out and attack the virus or bacteria.
As previously mentioned, proteins are found in every cell in your body, and as such they are considered structural proteins. In other words, they provide the structure for your body — including muscles, bones and other body parts. Without them, you would not be able to walk, run or stand.
Proteins carry sodium and potassium into cells (and out of them) to maintain the proper electrolyte balance. They also carry vitamins from your organs to your cells, while the protein hemoglobin is responsible for carrying oxygen from your lungs to you cells.
Proteins are also vital in maintaining the pH balance of your body fluids, such as blood and saliva. Drastic changes in pH can lead to serious health issues.
For Losing Weight
When you digest proteins, your body burns more calories than it does when digesting fats or carbohydrates. Plus, a meal rich in protein will make you feel full for a longer period.
Sources Of Protein
Proteins found in these foods are excellent for building muscle:
If you're looking to get fit and build muscle, protein is a must. Let personal trainer Ralph Roberts help you navigate nutritional choices and exercises for these purposes.
As you advance further into your exercise program, you'll certainly become aware of various routines that, in many cases, can help you progress while avoiding overtraining and injury.
One such routine, the upper body/lower body split, in which you train different body parts on different days, is a classic routine that has been proven effective by countless athletes. This routine is the most effective for most people, with the exception of beginners, who should focus their early training on full-body workouts.
What Is An Upper Body/Lower Body Split?
An upper/lower split routine is when you train your upper body and lower body in different workouts. These workouts are typically done on different days (usually consecutive). In other words, each body group (upper/lower) is trained on its own individual day.
Why Do This Routine?
The primary reason for separating workouts into upper body and lower body days is that it allows you to train each body part at a frequency range of every three to five days, which is regarded as ideal. Studies have shown that this works best for most everyone beyond the beginner stage.
How Should I Divide My Workouts?
Upper/lower split workouts can usually be divided into a four-day or three-day workout routine.
The 4-Day Routine
The classic four-day routine looks something like this:
Monday - Upper Body
Tuesday - Lower Body
Wednesday - Off
Thursday - Upper Body
Friday - Lower Body
Saturday - Off
Sunday - Off
In the four-day routine, each muscle group is trained once every third or fourth day, which is the ideal range for most people.
The 3-Day Routine
Monday - Upper Body
Tuesday - Off
Wednesday - Lower Body
Thursday - Off
Friday - Upper Body
Saturday/Sunday - Off
In week two of the three-day routine, move your lower body workout to Monday and Friday, while doing your upper body workout on Wednesday.
It's also important to note that the actual days you choose (for either the four- or three-day workout) is up to you. The nice part about the routines listed above is that both give you weekends off.
What Muscle Groups Should I Train On Each Day?
In most cases, your upper body workout would train the following muscle groups: Chest, back, shoulders, Biceps and Triceps. The lower body workout would train these groups: Quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, lower back and abs.
Working with a personal trainer like Ralph Roberts in Amarillo can take your fitness program to the next level. Contact him today to get started on your own personal program.
Attempting to burn fat and build muscle simultaneously is one of the trickier tasks when attempting to get fit. Many claim it’s impossible, others will tell you it’s only possible with advanced dieting and training. Neither is correct. You can lose fat and increase muscle mass at the same time without any drugs or cutting-edge methodologies. The key is understanding how your body shrinks fat cells and generates muscle fibers.
How Your Body Burns Fat
The key to this is to maintain a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit is simply another way of saying that you are taking in fewer calories than you are using. A calorie deficit is the most important part of burning fat. If you do not have a calorie deficit, then you do not lose weight.
How Your Body Builds Muscle
When we train our muscles, we are damaging the muscle fibers. This causes the body to synthesize protein in order to repair them. The body does not simply replace the damaged cells, it improves them to deal with the stresses placed on them by working out. In other words, your body must synthesize more protein than was lost in order for you to gain muscle.
How A Calorie Deficit Affects Muscle Growth
Building muscle takes a lot of energy. If there is not enough energy available, your body will not prioritize muscle growth. In other words, if you are not taking in enough calories, your body will not generate new muscle fibers. The key, therefore, is to ensure you are taking in the right amount of calories to facilitate muscle growth but not enough to increase your body fat.
Eating To Ensure A Calorie Deficit While Increasing Muscle Mass
A number of factors are important for balancing fat loss with muscle gain. When planning your meals, focus on:
As your personal trainer, Ralph Roberts can help you to maximize muscle growth while burning fat. Contact Ralph Roberts in Amarillo.
Getting going in the morning can be difficult, and if you happen to be super busy, fitting in a good morning meal can seem impossible. Breakfast, however, should never be neglected. It is essential to starting your day off right, and is helpful in keeping you fit, healthy and, most of all, happy. To make your morning easier, we've collected five healthy breakfasts that are sure to get you moving.
To-Go Breakfast Burrito
Breakfast burritos are a great source of everything you need to get going in the morning. One large egg has 13 essential vitamins and minerals packed into it, and plenty of protein to get you moving. Pair one egg (or egg whites if you have cholesterol issues) with low fat cheese, tomatoes and peppers, and wrap it up in a whole wheat tortilla for a quick, on-the-go breakfast. Pair your breakfast wrap with a 100% juice beverage to get a serving of fruit in, too.
If you are really in a crunch for time, Greek yogurt is a great option. Pick up a low-fat option, but watch the sugar content. You can spice up plain Greek Yogurt with fresh berries or a banana to give it a bit of pizzazz and pack in some antioxidants. Add a high quality granola for added fiber. This quick breakfast is sure to keep you full until lunchtime rolls around.
Green smoothies have become all the rage recently, and for good reason. There are literally hundreds of different green smoothie recipes to try, and they are all chock full of minerals, vitamins and essential nutrients. You can start with a kale-based smoothie for a bit of extra pep in your step, but the sky really is the limit. Mix in your favorite frozen fruits for a cold, morning treat.
When the winter fully sets in, and you are looking for something to warm your bones before you head out, consider eating oatmeal for breakfast. To keep this breakfast super healthy, avoid pre-flavored instant oatmeal, and opt for traditional, steel-cut oats. You can jazz it up with fresh fruit, and a touch of honey or peanut butter.
Sure, most people think breakfast foods need to be sweat and light, but that's not always true. If you are looking for something with a savory flair, consider cutting up an avocado for a quick breakfast. Add avocado slices to two slices of whole wheat bread, salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy.
If you are looking to get fit and healthy, contact Ralph Roberts, personal trainer in Amarillo. With years of experience, Ralph Roberts can help you on your journey to a fitter, healthier and happier you.
Sometimes the hardest part of an exercise routine is sticking to it. There are a million excuses, including not having time, but the truth is that we find it hard to be accountable to ourselves when it comes to working out.
If motivating yourself to stick with an exercise routine is a problem for you, then here are some suggestions to help keep you committed (and off the couch).
1. Go Social With Your Goals
Sharing your workout plan on social media can provide plenty of motivation to stick with your plan. Let your friends know what you have planned for the next day's workout to help keep you accountable.
2. Reward Yourself
While vague goals such as "lose weight" may motivate some, you may be more motivated by more tangible rewards, such as treating yourself to a smoothie or an episode of your favorite show.
3. Compete In An Event
By signing up for a 5K race or another event, you give yourself something more motivating to work toward than a vague goal.
4. Do It For A Cause
Sign up for a charity run or other event where you raise money for a worthy cause. It makes you accountable to the people who give you money, but also to the cause/people you're raising money for.
5. Put Money On It
We all know that money can be a great motivator. Give cash to a friend and then earn it back only by reaching your fitness goals.
6. Sleep In Your Workout Clothes
If you have a workout scheduled for first thing in the morning, sleep in your workout clothes. That way, skipping your workout means peeling off your workout clothes and admitting that you're letting yourself down.
7. Visualize Daily
Set aside five minutes each day to visualize what you want to see in yourself, perhaps a high-performer or super-fit person.
8. Photograph Yourself
Take a photo of how you look in your underwear or favorite dress. While a scale can be deceiving, a photo won't lie. You can also take a “before” photo of yourself along with your goal.
Make a video of yourself talking about your goals and then post it on YouTube or Instagram.
10. Sign A Contract
Write down what your workouts will entail, how often you'll do them, and perhaps your end goal. You can do this with a friend, as well.
Need help in designing a workout plan just for you and sticking with it? A trainer like Ralph Roberts at the Downtown Athletic Club in Amarillo can work with you to meet your fitness goals.
We've all been trapped in high-stress moments when one of the stress-managing solutions we turn to is comfort food. That's where the ice cream and junk food binges come into play, throwing our nutrition – and fitness plan – off track.
But rather than berate yourself for what you think is lack of willpower, consider that something else might be in play that you're not aware of. Specifically, it's the stress hormone cortisol, which is linked to a variety of serious health problems, including weight gain.
So, before you reach for your favorite food crutch during periods of stress, consider the facts about cortisol, as well as ways to resist its powerful clutches.
What Is Cortisol?
Cortisol is released by the brain during those fight-or-flight moments that we've all experienced. It also prompts the liver to release sugar into the bloodstream and the heart to pump harder.
While cortisol is important in times of excess stress, too much of it can result in reduced muscle mass and increased abdominal fat.
Cortisol And Your Waistline
Excess cortisol isn't just released during moments of daily stress – like stress in the workplace – but also by lack of sleep, too much caffeine and/or alcohol, and even skipping a meal. Moreover, studies have shown that high cortisol levels trigger stress eating, because the sugar released by elevated cortisol stays in the bloodstream.
Ways To Reduce Stress Eating
The good news is that we aren't powerless against the effects of elevated cortisol and the desire to reach for unhealthy foods in times of stress. Here are some methods of fighting back:
1. Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Instead of reaching for inflammatory foods like those loaded with trans-fat, sugar, and refined or processed grains, anti-inflammatory foods like fruits and vegetables, fatty fish, and beans and nuts are better options.
2. Do Something Different
Changing your habit cycle will re-direct your cravings over time. Enjoy a cup of herbal tea rather than reaching for a candy bar.
Research has shown that people who meditate had significantly lower cortisol levels than those who don't.
4. Go Outside
Just being in the great outdoors can help reduce stress levels.
5. Give Yourself Space
You don't always have to place the needs of something else (work, family, etc.) before your needs. It's okay to carve out time that's just for you and that helps you handle stress.
Having a personal trainer can help keep you accountable, both to yourself and your fitness and nutrition goals. Someone like Ralph Roberts of the Downtown Athletic Club in Amarillo can be a partner as you strive to reach your goals.
The push up is a time-tested total body exercise that can be inserted into virtually any workout routine. It's also much more than just an arm (or chest) workout, as it provides a core strengthening exercise that can provide everything from building muscle to improving your posture.
Better yet, there's more than just one way to do a push up. By varying your body and arm positioning, you can target certain muscles while also benefiting your entire body.
So, the next time you get down on the mat to do push ups, consider adding the following variations to your routine.
Wide-Grip Push Ups
A classic variation on the standard push up, the wide-grip version adds a degree of difficulty because it makes it tougher to push your body upward. It targets the chest, triceps and muscles in the front of the shoulder, with the shoulders and chest lifting with the assist of the triceps.
Incline Push Ups
The most commonly used version, the incline push up targets the muscles of the chest and others. With the triceps, deltoids and core muscles activated during the exercise, less stress is placed on the elbows as the weight lifted is distributed more evenly. They can even be used as a pre- or post-exercise stretch.
Decline Push Ups
To do a decline push up, you'll need to place your feet at a higher elevation than your hands. This means resting your feet on a chair, bench, stair step, or anything else that lifts your feet off the ground. The level of difficulty is increased as you target the chest, shoulders, arms and back. Maintaining the proper body position requires additional strength and stability in the core, legs and back.
One-Arm Push Ups
You'll feel this variation in your abdominal muscles and obliques as they work harder to keep the body stabilized on one arm. Meanwhile, you're also strengthening the chest and triceps muscles while building a solid core. The one-arm push up requires greater body control, which will aid building muscle and strength.
T Push Ups
Another variation of the standard push up, the T push up is a good all-around strength builder that builds additional strength in the chest, shoulders arm and core. To do it, perform a regular push-up but at the top swing one arm from the floor toward the ceiling while twisting your torso. Repeat, but use the opposite arm.
If you're looking for a personal trainer who can custom-design an exercise plan for you, contact Ralph Roberts in Amarillo. He's more than just a trainer – he's part coach, instructor and training partner.
Most of us started doing them when we were in school – perhaps in a gym class with a phys ed teacher closely monitoring our form and reps. Still, the common push up never goes out of style.
A basic strength-building exercise that strengthens your upper body while improving core strength, the push up is still a part of countless exercise regimens, including the ones favored by military personnel.
So, why do push ups? Here are six reasons you should.
They Strengthen Your Chest
Push ups work your pectoralis major muscles, which are the two large muscles in your chest. As you raise and lower your body during the push up, the pectoralis major is doing a large share of the work.
They Strengthen Your Shoulders
The key muscles used here are the deltoids, which assist the pectoralis major during the push up motion. They're considered a weaker muscle group, but are crucial to all movements of the shoulder. A well-defined deltoid gives your shoulders that rounded look.
They Strengthen Your Triceps
Located in the back of your arm, the triceps brachii helps you extend your arm outward. It makes up the majority of the upper arm mass and is the most exerted muscle during a push-up.
They Exercise Your Abs
That's right, your stomach also gets a workout during push ups. As the body is held in the prone position, your abdominal muscles help the body brace itself. Just make sure you're using correct form throughout the push up to help you exercise your abs without straining your lower back.
They Exercise Your Serratus Anterior
The serratus anterior is a muscle at the back of the chest that lies under the armpit. These muscles are activated during push ups and strengthened with repetitions.
They Strengthen The Coracobrachialis
This muscles runs from the shoulder blade to the upper arms. During a push up, it pushes the upper arm against the body, which is essential in performing the exercise. A well-conditioned coracobrachialis is key to building upper body strength.
What Are Some Other Benefits Of Push Ups?
They enhance your cardiovascular system. When you engage large muscle groups at the same time, you make your heart work harder in delivering blood to muscle tissue.
They prevent lower back injuries. Push ups force your entire torso to stabilize the body. In return, you strengthen the vulnerable lower back area.
They provides stretching. Another benefit of doing push ups is that they provide a stretch to your biceps and back muscles. This improves your flexibility and can help prevent injuries.
If you have questions about push ups or other exercises and routines, contact professional trainer Ralph Roberts in Amarillo.
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