Terre Pruitt's Blog

In the realm of health, wellness, fitness, and the like, or whatever inspires me.

  • I teach Nia, yoga and stretch! SIX group classes a week!

    Nia: Tues and Thurs at 9 am

    Yoga: Tues at 10:30 am and Thurs at 6:00 pm

    Stretch: Thurs at 10:15 am

    Please see my website for details! I sub for the City of San Jose and the YMCA so check my website for dates and times!

    I am also available for private Nia / yoga / Personal Training!

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Posts Tagged ‘strength training’

Dance Conditioning Tips — Not Just For Dance

Posted by terrepruitt on October 13, 2011

Almost a year ago one of my Nia students let me borrow a book, Conditioning for Dance.  Even though I had it for a week I didn’t take time to look at it in-depth.  But I like what I saw enough to buy the book.  A year later and I still have not looked at it in-depth, but again, when I pick it up and thumb through it, pausing to read here and there I love what I see.  Eric Franklin’s idea coincide a lot with Nia and many mind body practices.  I touched upon this in my original post Dance Conditioning.

The ideas he has shared in this book are somewhat like the Nia White Belt Principles in that they can be applied to more than just the workout or the technique, they can be applied to life.  In th beginning portion of the book Franklin talks about how sometimes when dancers are unable to perform a step, often the first thought is it is because the dancer is not strong enough.  So the dancer then works to build strength in the muscles required to do the particular step.  But it is not always because they are not strong enough, sometimes it is because they have other issues.  So getting stronger to power through the move will not necessarily allow them to do the move correctly, but it allows the issues to be reinforced.  If you are doing something incorrectly because of other issues continuing to do it without resolving those issues just enforces the issues.

His tips in regards to the above can be applied to life.

-When doing a task sense your body.  Learn to recognize when it is out of alignment or what behavior causes it to be out of alignment then practice doing that same task in a different way that allows your body to stay in alignment.

I know so many people who are in physical pain, it is my belief that many of them are because we do things without thinking and we do things that actually cause our bodies to be out of alignment.  When sitting at your desk at work do a body check.  Are you sitting up or are you slouched over?  Are your legs crossed?  Is your mouse so far away from your hand that you have to lean forward and/or really extend your arm?  These types of things that we do over and over and actually work our bodies into a state of misalignment.  I remember walking into a friend’s cube while she was working and after watching for a second I asked her what she was doing?  She responded that she didn’t know what I was talking about.  I said she was having to practically get out of her chair as she leaned forward to use her mouse.  She looked confused and then shrugged.  I suggested she move her mouse pad closer to her and she shrugged and did.  No, my friend is not stupid, she was just focused on working and never stopped to really think about her body and its alignment.  She just “did” because that was the way it was.  There are probably a lot of things — little things, just like that — we can do to help our body’s alignment.  Just sense your body as you go through your daily tasks.

-Imagine yourself doing the task.  Imagine all that it will require to complete the job then go through it mentally.  While imagining, sense the muscles that are used.

This is an easy one to apply to everyday. Whatever it is that you want to do imagine doing it beforehand and it will help you be aware of your body before you even begin the task. And this could also allow you to think of things that might slow you down if you had not thought of it before had. It will allow you to be better prepared.

-Seek the help of experts.

People that have done what you want to do before are always a great resource in life.

-Think positive.  If there are problems or issues think about them work to find solutions, but don’t dwell on them and allow them to affect your performance.

Thinking positive is a great tool and becoming so much more widely accepted as actually having benefit. Everyone has problems. Thinking positive doesn’t mean you don’t have problems it just means you don’t dwell on them.

-Work on flexibility making sure it the body is balanced.

In life it is good to be flexible, but you also need to have balance. Can’t be so flexible you become wishy-washy.

-Participate in strength training and do exercise that will help you reach your goal.

Strength training has so many benefits in everyday life, it is good for anyone at any age.

-Find ways to increase alignment without causing tension.

Everyone has different ideas on how to be aligned and in balance. But it should become a source of great stress in your life, so try to find ways to be balanced that will add to the ease and relaxation.

In his book Franklin goes into more detail and relates it specifically to dance. Here I was using my own words and trying to “vague it” up a bit so that it would be obvious how dance training tips could be applied directly to anyone’s life.

So amazing.  I am always amazed how our Nia White Belt Principles that we use in our dance practice can be applied to life.  But then, to me, that is what makes it a practice.  So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised .  . . and I really wasn’t, I was excited, that these tips for dance could be applied to more than just dance conditioning.

Posted in Exercise and Working Out, Helpful Hints | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Resistance Bands for Stretching

Posted by terrepruitt on September 3, 2011

I’ve talked about resistance bands being great for strength training. The other day after having taught a Nia class with a lot of sumo stances in it AND after having done some weighted squats, I really needed to stretch.  I needed a really deep stretch and as I was trying to think of how to get it I remembered I could use my resistance bands for stretching.  The resistance bands I have are long flat sheets of rubber.  I don’t have the ones that are like rubber bands or tubes.  Mine don’t have handles.  Any type of band made for exercising will do.  There are so many ways to stretch using a band.  I will just name a few in this post and maybe do another post at another time.

The first one you probably have done when you pick up a band is just to hold it in each hand and let your arms “fall” to the side.  Obviously your arms don’t actually fall because you are holding the band, but you can feel the stretch in your arms and shoulders.  The great thing about bands is you can make the tension however you need it to be by the way you hold the band.  If you need a really deep stretch make the band really short and either pull or let your arms “fall”.  If you want a gentle stretch then hold the band closer to the ends.

Holding opposite ends of the band and allowing your arms to fall behind your body really allows for a stretch in the upper arms, shoulders, upper back and neck.

You can do side bends with an end of the band in each hand holding your arms above your head.  Again sensing the stretch in your shoulders and upper back, but with this stretch you also get your sides. Using the band for this stretch allows for a much greater stretch than without the band.

For the legs there are a few I want to share.  Sit down on the ground, fold the band in half then put your foot in the band at the fold, hold one side of the band in each hand.  Then lay down, keeping your foot flexed, bring your straight leg with the foot in the band up as far as you can.  Keep your other leg straight out on the floor.  Adjusting the tension of the band gives you the stretch you need.  You can bring your leg straight up and closer to your face for an even greater stretch.  The closer you pull your leg to your face the greater the stretch in the hamstrings and even calf.

Still lying on your back with your leg up and still holding the band let your leg fall ACROSS your body.  This is a further stretch for the hamstrings and gets the outer thigh.  With this stretch – again – using the band to pull your leg closer to your head gives you a bigger stretch. Hold the end of the band in the hand opposite the direction your leg is going, while the hand on the side of where your foot is gently pulls the leg towards your head.  Remember to be mindful of what you are sensing, often a stretch will cause discomfort but the muscles need to be stretched especially after a workout.  But pain is different than discomfort, so be aware of what sensation is present.

Another stretch you can do is from the same position of laying on your back, with your foot through the band, leg in the air, foot flexed, but this time let the straight leg fall away from your body.  With this stretch the hand opposite the side your stretching leg holds the end of the band and the hand on the side of the stretching leg can gently pull the leg towards your head. This stretch allows you to really sense the stretch in the inner thigh.  The closer your leg gets to the floor the more your inner thigh gets stretch.  And at the same time you can gently pull your leg towards your head enable the back of the leg to be stretched too.

Bands are such a great way to get some assisted stretching in without having to have another person there to help you.  It is like proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) by yourself.  As I mentioned before, please be mindful and aware of what your body is saying.  Discomfort at a tolerable level is acceptable but pain is not.

Posted in Helpful Hints | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Muscle Weighs More Than Fat

Posted by terrepruitt on August 2, 2011

I think you have probably heard that before.  You might have even said it.  I know that I have.  It doesn’t make sense.  One pound of muscle CANNOT weigh more than one pound of fat, that is impossible.  A pound of something does not weigh more than a pound of something else.  Nope, just not possible.  Doesn’t matter if one pound is feathers and another pound is rocks. As you probably know, it is really about volume or the SPACE that one takes up over the other.  A POUND of fat actually takes up more space than a POUND of muscle, but they still WEIGH the same.  There is really no getting around that weight thing.

Sometimes a scale that measures weight might be a little deceiving in terms of size and health.  It all depends upon your goal.  Right?  I always say that, but it is true.  If your mainly concerned with how much you weigh then that is what you should focus on.  If you want to be smaller then maybe a scale is not the best way to measure that.  If you want to build muscle or be stronger then you might not want to be concerned with the weight because it is difficult to get weight to go down and muscle to go up.  Of course, this is all very general, I am not saying one is good or one is bad, I am really just trying explain the point a bit.

I find, on occasion, one of the best ways to explain something is to use a visual aide.  Here is a picture.

What you see is three pounds of butter with a three pound weight.  What is butter?  Fat.  I am using the weight as a rough sample of muscle.  This is three pounds of fat compared to three pounds of muscle.  Yeah, yeah, I know it is not exact, but it gives us a rough idea right?  You can clearly see that three pounds of fat take up much more room than three pounds of “muscle”.

If you are working out and exercising to “lose weight” your scale might not always tell you the accurate truth. Because first of all usually we are working out and exercising to lose fat and one of the best ways to do that is with strength training.  A muscled body burns more calories than a fatty body, no matter what the body is doing.  So one way to help lose the fat is to gain muscle.  But if you gain muscle the number on your scale might not go down as much as you think it should.  Second, if you are not doing some type of resistance training you would be losing muscle.

If you are doing something in your fitness routine that builds muscle and the scale is not moving down or it is not going down fast enough for you, don’t get discouraged.  Maybe it is time to take out the measure tape.  It could be that you are going down in size but staying the same or even gaining pounds.

Also remember that in order for you to actually build bigger muscles you have to follow a specific training plan so chances are you are not going to get bigger. Women – in general – don’t need to be concerned with that.  That is another great reason to measure because the body will change so it might look different or seem bigger to you, but with a measure of it, you will know.

Not too long before I hurt my foot I thought my scale was broken.  It kept showing me the same weight but my clothes weren’t fitting the same.  I threw my scale away.  Turns out it really wasn’t broken,  I was NOT gaining weight,  I was just losing muscle mass.  So now that my foot is better (better, not the same, but better) I want to get back to having more muscle.  I thought this would be a great way to remind me.  Sometimes I know things, I just need a reminder, what about you?  Do you sometimes need a reminder?  I am sure that you know that muscles DOES NOT weigh more than fat — not possible, but I thought I’d give us a visual to keep in our heads.

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Build it Big

Posted by terrepruitt on February 24, 2011

In Nia classes we have the opportunity to experience flexibility AND mobility AND agility AND strength AND stability. Depending on the starting point we can either be increasing or maintaining.   I also believe it is good for people to participate in a weight training program. I believe it is good to use weights to keep strength or build strength. I think having muscle strength in important. Most people do not have to concern themselves about getting big and bulking up. I have heard women say they don’t lift weights because they don’t want to do either of those things.

First of all, as a reminder, weights are not the only way to build strength, any type of resistance can work muscles. Depending on your starting point different things can be used, for example body weight alone without the use of weights is a great place to start. The use of resistance bands or tubing can be a great way to work muscles without having to deal with storing the weights. Working with weights (resistance) is a great way to stave off the aging process.

I think it might help people who are afraid of building big muscles to know how it happens. Basically if you want to build big muscles you have to work really, really, really hard at it. It doesn’t happen from going to the gym two or three times a week doing a few exercises at 8 repetitions each. Hypertrophy (muscles getting bigger) occurs when heavy weights are lifted in a specific way . . . more than the average person is going to lift (75% to 85% of what you can absolutely lift), more exercises than the average person takes time for, and with less rest time than most people take in the gym. It really takes work and concentration. It is very stressful on the body and people often don’t like to be sore. The type of lifting required to cause hypertrophy is not something the average woman is going to do. Doing 8 to 12 repetitions of a few exercise two or three times a week will enable your muscles to stay toned or it might even build some strength, but it will not make the muscles really big. If you want to increase your strength add more resistance or more reps.

What could actually happen if you start working with weights is the shape of the muscle might adjust and it you might think it is bigger because you actually start sensing it. I would recommend you measure your limbs with a flexible tape measure before you start a weight regimen. After a couple of weeks measure again, see if there is actually an increase in size. I’ll be waiting to hear . . . .

Posted in Exercise and Working Out | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Strength Training

Posted by terrepruitt on October 16, 2010

I have said it before that resistance training or strength training has many benefits.  I even have posted about it in my Resistance Training Benefits post.  But as I see people in my life age I am reminded daily that having strength can also equal independence.  Being able to do everyday tasks is a great incentive.

Everyday tasks like carrying the laundry, carrying the groceries, and moving the garbage can full of garbage, all things that many of us might not think about, but we would if we couldn’t do them.  So in addition to the health benefits there are also many other reasons to train with weights or resistance.

After age 20, most of us lose about a half pound of muscle a year. By the time we’re 65, we will have lost 25 percent of our peak strength.  Aging plays a part in s muscle mass, but it does not have to be as severe.  If you want to keep doing what your doing—be independent–it is good to put a little muscle into it.  A way to keep the muscles you have or build some is to work them two to three times a week.   Working your muscles does not have to be with weights, but it does have to be resistance.  Anything that you have to exert force to move.  It helps you stay young and independent.

Posted in Exercise and Working Out | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Resistance Training Benefits

Posted by terrepruitt on November 10, 2009

Resistance Training has many benefits.  I say resistance training because the resistance may be any force the body has to overcome.  It does not have to be weights, it can be bands, springs, or even your own body weight.  In addition to doing something that you like you want to train according to your goals.

Some of the benefits of resistance training:

  • Increase in strength, power, and endurance in the muscles
  • Increase in size of the muscle
  • Increase in lean mass (or maintained lean mass)
  • Increase in the tone of the muscles
  • Increase in metabolism
  • Increase in bone density
  • Increase in energy
  • Improvement in the body’s muscle to fat ratio
  • Improvement in mood
  • Improvement in Insulin Sensitivity

and

  • can assist in lower your resting blood pressure
  • can assist in preventing sarcopenia
  • can assist in lowering your resting heart rate

I met up with a friend today in San Jose at the gym we had a nice workout.  We played with some of the equipment and managed to get a great set of exercises in.  It is nice to be reminded of why resistance training is important.

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