Top 5 Expert Anti-aging Tips: Look Younger and Healthier Now

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Who does not want to stay in shape, have nicer skin, hair, nails and radiate health and power … and have a longer, healthier, happier life … without spending a fortune.
Fortunately the very best anti-aging means are the least costly! Try them today, they work: Feel the effect here and now and onwards.

Anti-aging via clean air and daylight

Fresh air and daylight does wonders for you.

Sound Sleep
Research has shown, that good sleep aids weight loss and weight maintenance, improves health, energy level and performance.
You live longer with more energy and look younger, when you get 7-8 hours of good sleep every night.

Sleep problems? Do: Exercise (no later than three hours before bedtime), drink calming herbal tea, avoid food, coffee, tea, alcohol and violent stressing films or tv-programs just before bedtime.
The bedroom should be dark, quiet and cool.

Super Strength training
Strength training is the most effective method for preventing muscle cell aging! Strengthen you muscles with resistance training 2-3 times 20-30 min. per week.
Strength training gives you physical and mental power and improves performance; one study showed, that 80-year olds after a period with strength training had the same functional age as 60-year olds!
You will look younger and get more out of your life with a stronger body.

No time or desire for training? Your body needs it, so you have to do something. You can do a super short program of 5-10 minutes to get started with the healthy habit as soon as possible; it is easier than you think. Here is an easy home workout.
Supplement with cardiovascular training, e.g. jog, run, cycle, as part of your warm-up.

Delicious Diet
There is no way around it; Health, fitness, life quality and a youthful look is fed by healthy eating. However, this does not have to be less tasty or boring!
Eat whole grain produce, vegetables and healthy fat and oils (in fish, olive oil, organic eggs etc.) and keep skin, hair and nails strong and youthful.
Vary your meals, try different foods, so you experience new and exciting tastes.

Do at times – in moderation – enjoy less healthy foods, but then do enjoy it.
Focus, be present, eat slowly, chew 30-50 times and be conscious of the taste.
Mindful eating can help you lose weight or maintain weight and improve quality of life.

Does healthy eating seem difficult? It is easier than you think, if you start gradually. Take one step at a time; e.g. start by eating whole grain variations of your favourite foods, they taste better and are more filling.

Fresh Air and Daylight
Come outside. There is more energy in the fresh air outdoors (unless you live in e.g. LA or Beijing) and the sun provides light and life.
Get out as often as you can, preferably at least ½ hour a day, but be careful of too much sun, protect your skin.
Breathe deeply through your nose; all of your body needs oxygen, your brain and muscles liven up, you become healthier and more energetic, when you breathe deeply, slowly and regularly … clean air.

No time or possibility of getting out? Take time. If you only have a few minutes, open the door or window and stick your head or body out. Take 10 deep inhalations, feel your lungs with air. Do it as often as you can.
During weekends, take time off to go to the countryside to get more fresh clean air. Try it, it makes your feel better and younger.

Soothing Sauna
Sauna is very effective for stress reduction, recovery, reducing general soreness in muscles and joints, skin rejuvenation and strengthening your immune system.

A true sauna experience is hot-cold therapy with 10-20 minutes of high temperature followed by 1-3 minutes of (is)cold bathing repeated e.g. 3-5 times. This stimulates blood flow, enhances health and well-being and boosts body and mind.

No time or money for spa-activities? Your body loves it, so take the time and give it a try. You will be surprised at just how relaxing and stimulating it is.
And it does not have to be costly. Many pool and leisure activity facilities offer sauna facilities at low or no cost.


Apart from the above physical tricks, remember the three Long Happy Life social and emotional strategies: Social activity (family and friends), laughter and love (safe sex)!

10 Super Tips: Get Much More Out Of Your Fitness Training

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Fitness strength training is super training for every one regardless of sex and age. Unfortunately many fitness exercisers are wasting their time.
And it takes so little to make fitness so much better.

Good fitness 1) improves metabolism and increases energy expenditure during exercise and rest, 2) prevents injuries and 3) improves sports and everyday performance.

Poor fitness 1) gives minimal to moderate results, 2) may overload the body and 3) take up too much of your precious time.
Avoid wasting your time, check out these super tips for optimal fitness in minimal time.

Få meget mere ud af din fitness træning

1. Work out with direction and goal: ‘Less is more‘: It is better to work out for 20 min. in a sweat, than 60 min. with low energy levels. Go for out!

A higher intensity means saving time and getting better results:
Warm op: Do a 5 min. warm-up, and increase your performance by 10 %.
Choose effective exercises
: Do not waste your time with meaningless exercises.
Lift heavier weights: Lift ‘as heavy as you can’, meaning, that you are tired at the last lift. (1-3 sets of) 10 repetitions is a good number initially.

2. Minimize rest-pauses: Do not pause completely or rest for too long:
Optimize your workouts markedly by 1) timing your pauses; for general fitness 1-1½ minutes, for heavy weight lifting 3-5 minutes, and 2) having active rest-pauses, walk around instead of sitting down – or work other muscles during your pause (superset).

3. Quality vs. quantity. Do not lift more times or more weight than you are able to with correct technique. Better to do fewer (lighter) perfect repetitions.
Sloppy training is ‘memorized’ by the body, is stressful and very difficult to ‘undo’.
Quality training gives better results faster!

4. Train technically correct (in accordance with your goals): Only a few inches of deviation, means that the exercises work differently. Know what you are training, ensure that your body is in the right position and listen to your body – does it feel right?
Too many are pulling cables and weights in wrong directions and the effect is lost!

Note: Better workouts and results are facilitated by functional mobility, so do cool down with relevant stretches to keep the body mobile; this can improve your motor skills. 

5. Train heavy and fast. Speed improves agility. Start by lifting in a moderate tempo; 2-4 sec. for the lift, 2-4 sec. to lower the weight.
Over time: Lift faster, lower with control, e.g. 1 second for the lift, 3 sec. to lower it.
Advanced; Lift, in select exercises, as fast as you can, explosively, lower with control.

6. Awaken your muscles! The muscles get accustomed to the training, so make them react again by unaccustomed training. Vary exercises, programs and methods.
E.g. multi-angular training: Squats with narrow, moderate and wide stance and push-ups with narrow, moderate and wide hand position.

7. Change program frequently, e.g. every 3.-6. week, to keep motivation and stimulate the muscles to respond and improve.
Alternate moderate and heavy training: 6 weeks with 3-4 sets x 8-12 repetitions (hypertrophy), and 3 weeks with 5 sets x 5-8 repetitions (strength, requires basic training).
Exception: If you still progress and are happy with your present program.

8. Test yourself every month. Fitness Testing is easy and fun. It helps goal-setting, makes programming easier and training much more motivating.

9. Set goals, put them in your calendar or training log. Divide the goal into smaller goals for each period, e.g. one for every 1-2 months.
Goal-setting should be SMART, Specific and Measurable, accepted, Realistic and Timed – be concrete, eg. from 30 to 40 lbs in 1 month.

10. Train with a partner. This improves intensity and compliance. A partner can help, pace and ‘spot’: check if you are lifting with proper form and assist, when you want to lift more (if you do not have a partner, use a trainingbook or -app for motivation).

Apart from the fitness training itself, a healthy diet and lifestyle is essential for optimal results – and it does not have to be difficult. Make gradual improves using a ‘small increment technique’.

If you want more and better exercises, lots of inspiration and motivation for your fitness resistance training, check out these two bestsellers, available from www.amazon.com:

Resistance Training Exercises and Stability Ball Exercises.

   Resistance Training Exercises Fitness BooksStability Ball Exercises Fitness books

Alarms! Cure For Grandma Arms!

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Once again I was asked the question: Can I get rid of these grandma arms?
The short answer: In part, you don’t really want the other alternative, do you?
A more elaborate answer and a super exercise follow below.

One of the questions I have been asked the most – a top 3 question – as a problem page expert and trainer for 25 years, has been asked by women, even young women:
“How do I get rid of my ‘grandma arms’?”

Aarrghhh! I really dislike this expression often seen in fitness and women’s magazines. There are sooooooo many superfit grandmas and equally many unfit younger women …

However, as a trainer I aim to help, especially as many articles and film clips are filled with inefficient and waste-of-time ‘exercises for women’, so here is my answer:

Grandma Arm Make-over Method
Grandma Arms is a condition, that is a combination of untrained muscles, excess fat, and loose skin in the triceps area. It takes years to get Grandma Arms and they are not easy to get rid off (if at all). You need at least three approaches:

Skincare: Give yourself a good dry skin brushing with a sponge or soft brush immediately before having a bath; this stimulates blood circulation and makes the skin look healthier. Sauna and massage also stimulates the skin and blood flow.

Diet: Diet is an important factor for a healthy look; eat whole grain, vegetables and good oils as this helps in preventing accumulating fat and improves digestion and fat loss.

Exercise: Exercise, cardio as well strength training, is an effective beauty regimen for the arms and the rest of the body. Exercise increases blood flow and fat burning and tones the muscles – and arms – for a firmer, healthier look.

To lose fat, and get into shape, a general recommendation is ‘cardiovascular exercise’ for 3-5 times a week, 30 minutes at a moderate to high intensity (exertion), but for a marked fat loss, you may even more.
For a fast marked fat loss the intensity – and possibly number of weekly workouts – should be increased; you need to work intensely, break a sweat for 30 minutes, or maybe increase duration to one hour still with a fairly high intensity. What is best for you?
This depends on your health, fitness level and preference.

In order to tone your arms, you need strength training – and no, women in general do not get oversized muscles from lifting weights.
When you strength train your muscles, they become strong and toned; the arms (and shoulders) will look shapelier.
One of the best and fastest methods for toning the arms effectively are push-ups, which everybody can do, it is just a matter of getting started!

Push-ups

Starting position: If you prefer, if necessary, choose the easiest version initially:
Stand 2-3 feet from a wall. Put your hands shoulder-width apart on the wall at chest level.

The movement:
1. Bend the arms, elbows should point straight to the back – not to the side. The goal is to bend the arms to a 90 degree angle or a little more.
2. Extend the arms and push back to the starting position; straighten the arms without locking the elbows.
3. Repeat 8-12 times. If you want more, have faster results, perform this series 1-2 times more with a short rest-pause in between: 1-3 sets (series) of 8-12 repetitions.

Alletiders Armstrækninger eller Armbøjninger Outdoor

Push-ups with incline body position; easier.
(Outdoor fitness at Cap Formentor, Mallorca).

Next level: If this is too easy, put your hands on the edge of a (stable) table or a sofa, so the body is closer to the ground.

Advanced level: Perform the exercise with the hands on the ground. First with the lower legs on the floor, then on the toes, body in a straight line.

Top tip to faster results: Do not stick with push-ups on the knees, the version typically recommended for women. Do push-ups on hands and toes for extra core training. If you think “that’s way too hard?!” Then the answer is “no”. Who ever said, that you need to go all the way down (and up) every time? You can ‘cheat’ and still have plenty of work (results); bend and extend the arms only a few degrees, that is fine for starters. Over time increase the range of motion.
Try this and two other brilliant push-up variations; see how in clip below.
Enjoy!

TV and Fitness? Turn That TV Off!

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Is TV healthy or unhealthy? Some research suggests that too much TV viewing is connected with physical inactivity and poor health?
Why is it then, that there are more and more TV’s in health clubs? Is it really necessary with more news or more soap during your one hour of fitness?

Independently of discussions about the poor quality (unhealthy effect) of certain TV-programs, TV and fitness is a really bad cocktail … having in mind, though, that there is a difference between cardio and strength fitness in combination with TV viewing.

Cardio fitness on cardiovascular machines, is a cyclic, repetitive, simple movement on an apparatus, where you do not have to think overly much or concentrate on keeping the balance; you primarily have to exert energy to get your heart rate up. So TV viewing and cardio is probably not directly physically harmful – and may even be a requirement for some in order to get the training done.
Note: TV’s should be in the cardio department and directly in front of the cardio equipment. If the exerciser must turn her/his head to see the screen (for ½+ hour at a time), it could affect the body position, leading to poor posture, misalignment, and overuse injury?
TV’s should be on ‘mute’ (maybe use of earphones) in order not to distract other exercisers. Noise (from many sources simultaneously) increases stress and distracts,
so concentration is lost, training intensity is reduced and safety is compromised.

Fitness strength training and TV viewing is another matter.

Strength training, especially with free weights, requires concentration, balancing with either your bodyweight or (heavy) weights and focusing on technique, proper exercise execution, in order for the exercise to work as intended and not to harm yourself or others.
TV in a strength training gym (room) should not be seen, as TV in this environment may lead to dangerous distractions, which may cause accidents, dropping weights, tripping or twisting, or overuse injuries because of poor alignment and technique.

Another risk factor entirely – but quite noticeable in many gyms with TV’s – is, that the exercisers go off into a trance, stand or sit completely caught up by the TV-programs, wasting time with far too many rest-pauses, which reduces the quality of training for oneself as well as others, as you 1) lose intensity and focus and 2) occupy benches and machines for long periods of time.

Here is a call for fitness centres and users: Find others ways of making fitness motivating and in return get better, more focused, time-efficient and healthy workouts.

Here is another 10 reasons to turn your TV off!  

Exercise, yes or no? Your heart says yes!

Happy Heart Exercise

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

I was asked by a worried potential exerciser Is exercise really healthy, if you suffer from a cardiovascular disease?. The answer is Yes!
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your heart, because it helps in preventing cardiovascular disease; it lowers your risk of atherosclerosis, a primary cause of heart disease and stroke.

You can exercise to either prevent cardiovascular disease – a smart move – or if you already suffer from a cardiovascular disease, you can use exercise as medicine to get better! Cardiovascular disease covers many a diagnosis, therefore you need a check-up and an individual exercise recommendation from your doctor, before embarking on a formalized training program.

Proceed with caution. First of all increase your daily ‘everyday living’ PAL, Physical Activity Level, and do it from today; walk and stand more and take the stairs every time.
Then include short duration exercise sessions, walking and cycling, to get an easy start and keep the motivation for staying with your program.

Exercise recommendations
If your are very inactive, start with 5-10 minutes.
If you are used to walking, start with 10-20 minutes.
Increase duration over time to 30-60 minutes; it is healthy and burns fat.

You should break a sweat and your breathing should be somewhat heavy; it is healthy.

Gradually you should exert yourself more for short periods of time (the interval structure below is an example from Dr. Bente Klarlund Pedersen):

Exercise program

  • Warm-up for 10 minutes.
  • 10 min. somewhat hard exercise followed by 5 min. easy exercise. And again:
  • 10 min. somewhat hard exercise followed by 5 min. easy exercise.
  • Cooldown, easy exercise for 5 minutes (last easy interval). Stretching as needed.

If this feels easy, repeat the sequence, first one, then two times for every exercise session: 3-4 series of 10:5 minutes (work:active rest).
Do not increase your exercise volume too much all at once. Increase either the number of sessions per week or the number of series per session.
Listen to your body; it should feel good and doable.

Exercise plan

3
 times 20 minutes a week is the minimum for health benefits. If you want to feel better and get into shape the recommendation is a

minimum 30 minutes of physcial activity every day (5-7 days) for adults and 60 minutes for children.

Initially the exercise should feel fairly easy, byt as soon as you are into the exercise habit and feel comfortable, it is recommended, that you exert yourself a little (to a lot) more – for your heart’s sake.

Note: Resistance training is also healthy for your heart and metabolism; when you do resistance training, the energy expenditure is increased both during exercise and during rest.
2 times ½ hour resistance training a week is highly recommended.
Ask for a program at your local fitness centre. Example:

Warm up for 10 minutes and then train your legs, upper body, low back and abs.
5-8 exercises is plenty for starters.
Do each exercise movement 8-12 times, repetitions, have a rest-pause, then maybe another 10, and a pause, and another 10: 1-3 series of 10 repetitions.

WOD: Design A Super Workout Program

Fitness Workout of The Day ProgramFitness Workout of the Day
Programming (Aagaard, 2012)

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

How to Design A Better Workout? Of course you can design your workout of the day without prior planning or periodization. However, if you really want to progress and make the most of your workout time, then it makes more sense to create a goal-oriented plan in which your daily workout is based on a week program, which is based on a long-term plan (year and quarterly or monthly plans).

The program for the individual daily workout(s) is the ‘core’ of periodization, planning your exercise periods. In CrossFit a.o. this is called Workout of the Day, WOD.

Structure
It is essential, that your program is designed in the proper way, based on knowledge of anatomy, physiology and sports science, so it is healthy and effective as well as motivating and challenging – for you.

An allround fitness program could have this structure:

  • Warm-up – general and specific
  • Coordination and balance and/or
  • Cardiovascular training and/or
  • Resistance training
  • Cool-down
  • Flexibility/stretching

Note: Your written workout program should include all parts of the workout, e.g. not just the strength training part of it.

The duration, content and sequence of each part of the workout depends on

1) workout goal
2) primary capacity/area in focus
3) total workout duration

Duration
Workout duration maximum is 45-90 minutes. 30-60 minutes is the norm.

High-intensity workouts, anaerobic energy systems training and explosive strength training, should not exceed 20-25 minutes (ex. warm-up).

Traditional fitness warm-up (60 minute workouts): 5-15 minutes.

Cardiovascular training: 20-60 minutes.

Moderate intensity resistance training, 8-10 exercises, 1-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions:
Approximately 30-60 min., maximal strength training 30-90 min. and bodybuilding (hypertrophy) 1-1½ hours (maximum).

Cool-down, easy walking or cycling, following intense cardiovascular or resistance training: 3-10 minutes.

Stretching for the major muscles with a focus on tight muscles: 5-10+ minutes.

Content
Program content can be based on one, eg. strength, or more areas of fitness.
All-round fitness workouts may focus on:

  • Posture, static and dynamic
  • Aerobic and anaerobic capacity
  • Coordination, general and specific (balance, static and dynamic)
  • Strength/endurance, concentric/eccentric and isometric
  • Flexibility, static and dynamic, passive and active
  • Mental capacity (and social aspect)

The program should have a suitable level; exercises, which motivates and improves performance.

Exercise selection should be based on the primary movements of the everyday, leisure time activities and sports:

  • Flexion (bending)
  • Extension (straightening)
  • Pulling
  • Pushing
  • Rotation

The base movements of (initial) fitness programs should be the same for ‘every body’; the above base movements are equally important for men, women, children, juniors, grown-ups and seniors.

Fitness programs differ in respect to volume, based on frequency, number of times per week, intensity and duration, and specific exercise selection.
Specific exercise selection is based on the health and fitness status of the exerciser; this status determines the appropriate level of difficulty, including speed, for the exercises.

Focus points
Here is a short list of key areas to consider, when you want to design a super workout program:

  • Program – content, structure, volume, total duration
  • Training parts (sections) – goal, content, structure, duration
  • Exercise selection – level, simple or complex
  • Exercise sequence
  • Load – set, repetitions, intensity, type
  • Muscle contraction focus – concentric, eccentric, isometric
  • Tempo – slow, moderate, fast, explosive
  • Rest-pauses – between exercises and sets (and repetitions)
  • Method variation – variations, combinations
  • Recovery – rest between workouts

You can find more information about each area in articles (on the internet) and books on the subject of periodization.

Enjoy preparing your new and improved workout program.


Plan your optimal Workout of the Day,
so everything is set and you’re on your way
to a personal workout, which is fun to ‘play’,
with better results, so top form you display.  


 

Periodize: Perfect Your Short-term Plan

Styrketraening Mikrocyklus USWeek plan, microcycle, example (Aagaard, 2012)

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Top Tip 

First a super workout, then of course recovery. 
A nice mix of work and rest, wouldn’t you agree?
That’s the way to maximize results for all to see
and avoid fatique, overtraining, stress and injury.

In periodization the long-term plan, the macrocycle, and the mesocycles (1-3 month plans) provides the framework for more detailed short-term plans, plans for your weekly training.

A (very) short-term plan is called a microcycle. A microcycle can last from 1-14 days, but a typical fitness microcycle is 1 week, 7 days.

Your plan for the week (can be changed from week to week or repeated for several weeks) is a plan of all training activities; cardiovascular, strength, coordination (balance, agility, etc.) and flexibility training.
A complete plan – as shown in the figure – makes it easier to detect, if your training is planned in the right way with regard to volume and recovery.

FIT-formula
You can use the ‘FIT-formula‘ as a guide for your week plan or program; consider this:

Frequency, number of workouts per week
Intensity, how hard you work at each workout
Time, or duration, how long you train for at each workout

When your weekly training program involves different types of training, it can be somewhat of a puzzle to 1) arrange the workouts in relation to each other, so they do not interact in a negative way and 2) get sufficient recovery, rest.
Also when you have a large volume of training within one training modality, eg. strength training, you need to plan your training week carefully, so you get the right amount of variation and recovery so you get the desired results.

Recovery time
In general you need about 48 hours of rest following moderate intensity strength training (3 x 10 reps at ~75 % of 1RM) and approximately 24 hours of rest after moderate intensity cardiovascular training.

For beginners with a relatively low volume of training (eg. 3-4 times ½-1 hours or less a week), it is fairly easy to make a week plan and training programs, whereas programming for advanced fitness and sports programs with daily workouts can be a challenging task.

Guidelines and variation and motivation
To maintain motivation and keep progressing it is beneficial to change the week program within 4-6 weeks. However, many (novice) exercisers will continue to get results and feel quite happy with the same program for longer periods; this also allows for stable adaptation and improved exercise technique.

Listen to your body and mind and move on, when you feel the need for it.

Advanced, skilled and strong, exercisers may change their programs more frequently for instance every third week, but even a change of program from week to week is possible.

When planning an allround fitness week program, you can look to the American College of Sports Medicine’s, ACSM, basic guidelines for physical exercise:

Cardiovascular training: 3-5 times per week, 60-90 % of heart rate, 20-60 minutes

Strength training:
 2-3 times per week, minimum 1 [-3] sets of 8-12 repetitions, 8-10 exercises for the large muscle groups (equals approx. 30-50 minute workout).
Note: If you do split training, eg. upper and lower body work on alternating days, you can train more times per week.

Flexibility training
: 3 times per week, 1-4 repetitions/stretches lasting 10-30 seconds, stretches for the large [tight] muscles.

Enjoy planning your new improved program.