Health Risks of Being Overweight

Do You Know the Health Risks of Being Overweight ?

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Body Mass Index Table
  • Cancer
  • Sleep apnea
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Fatty liver disease
  • How can I lower my health risks?
  • Additional resources

Weighing too much may increase your risk for developing many health problems. If you are overweight or obese on a body mass index (BMI) chart, you may be at risk for:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Cancer
  • Sleep apnea
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Fatty liver disease.

You can lower your health risks by losing as little as 10 to 20 pounds.
Type 2 diabetes
What is it?
Type 2 diabetes used to be called adult-onset diabetes or noninsulin-dependent diabetes. It is the most common type of diabetes in the U.S. Type 2 diabetes is a disease in which blood sugar levels are above normal. High blood sugar is a major cause of early death, heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and blindness.
How is it linked to overweight?
More than 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight. It is not known exactly why people who are overweight are more likely to suffer from this disease. It may be that being overweight causes cells to change, making them less effective at using sugar from the blood. This then puts stress on the cells that produce insulin (a hormone that carries sugar from the blood to cells) and makes them gradually fail.
What can weight loss do?
You can lower your risk for developing type 2 diabetes by losing weight and increasing the amount of physical activity you do. If you have type 2 diabetes, losing weight and becoming more physically active can help you control your blood sugar levels. Losing weight and exercising more may also allow you to reduce the amount of diabetes medication you take.
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Heart disease and stroke
What is it?
Heart disease means that the heart and circulation (blood flow) are not functioning normally. If you have heart disease, you may suffer from a heart attack, congestive heart failure, sudden cardiac death, angina (chest pain), or abnormal heart rhythm. During a stroke, blood and oxygen do not flow normally to the brain, possibly causing paralysis or death. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., and stroke is the third leading cause.
How is it linked to overweight?
People who are overweight are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, high levels of triglycerides (blood fats) and LDL cholesterol (a fat-like substance often called the “bad cholesterol”), and low levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good cholesterol”). These are all risk factors for heart disease and stroke. In addition, people with more body fat have higher blood levels of substances that cause inflammation. Inflammation in blood vessels and throughout the body may raise heart disease risk.
What can weight loss do?
Losing 5 to 15 percent of your weight can lower your chances for developing heart disease or having a stroke. If you weigh 200 pounds, this means losing as little as 10 pounds. Weight loss may improve your blood pressure, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels; improve how your heart works and your blood flows; and decrease inflammation throughout your body. Results may vary from person to person.
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Body Mass Index Table
To use the table, find the appropriate height in the left-hand column labeled Height. Move across to a given weight. The number at the top of the column is the BMI at that height and weight. Pounds have been rounded off.

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Cancer
What is it?
Cancer occurs when cells in one part of the body, such as the colon, grow abnormally or out of control and possibly spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S.
How is it linked to overweight?
Being overweight may increase the risk of developing several types of cancer, including cancers of the colon, esophagus, and kidney. Overweight is also linked with uterine and postmenopausal breast cancer in women. Gaining weight during adult life increases the risk for several of these cancers. Being overweight also may increase the risk of dying from some cancers. It is not known exactly how being overweight increases cancer risk. It may be that fat cells make hormones that affect cell growth and lead to cancer. Also, eating or physical activity habits that may lead to being overweight may also contribute to cancer risk.
What can weight loss do?
Avoiding weight gain may prevent a rise in cancer risk. Weight loss, and healthy eating and physical activity habits, may lower cancer risk.
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Sleep apnea
What is it?
Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person stops breathing for short periods during the night. A person who has sleep apnea may suffer from daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and even heart failure.
How is it linked to overweight?
The risk for sleep apnea is higher for people who are overweight. A person who is overweight may have more fat stored around his or her neck. This may make the airway smaller. A smaller airway can make breathing difficult, loud (snoring), or stop altogether. In addition, fat stored in the neck and throughout the body can produce substances that cause inflammation. Inflammation in the neck may be a risk factor for sleep apnea.
What can weight loss do?
Weight loss usually improves sleep apnea. Weight loss may help to decrease neck size and lessen inflammation.
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Osteoarthritis
What is it?
Osteoarthritis is a common joint disorder. With osteoarthritis, the joint bone and cartilage (tissue that protects joints) wear away. Osteoarthritis most often affects the joints of the knees, hips, and lower back.
How is it linked to overweight?
Extra weight may place extra pressure on joints and cartilage, causing them to wear away. In addition, people with more body fat may have higher blood levels of substances that cause inflammation. Inflammation at the joints may raise the risk for osteoarthritis.
What can weight loss do?
Weight loss can decrease stress on your knees, hips, and lower back, and lessen inflammation in your body. If you have osteoarthritis, losing weight may help improve your symptoms.
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Gallbladder disease
What is it?
Gallstones are clusters of solid material that form in the gallbladder. They are made mostly of cholesterol and can sometimes cause abdominal or back pain.
How is it linked to overweight?
People who are overweight have a higher risk for developing gallbladder disease and gallstones. They may produce more cholesterol, a risk factor for gallstones. Also, people who are overweight may have an enlarged gallbladder, which may not work properly.
What can weight loss do?
Weight loss — especially fast weight loss (more than 3 pounds per week) or loss of a large amount of weight — can actually increase your chance of developing gallstones. Modest, slow weight loss of about 1/2 to 2 pounds a week is less likely to cause gallstones.
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Fatty liver disease
What is it?
Fatty liver disease occurs when fat builds up in the liver cells and causes injury and inflammation in the liver. It can sometimes lead to severe liver damage, cirrhosis (build-up of scar tissue that blocks proper blood flow in the liver), or even liver failure. Fatty liver disease is like alcoholic liver damage, but it is not caused by alcohol and can occur in people who drink little or no alcohol. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC) has more information on fatty liver disease or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
How is it linked to overweight?
People who have diabetes or “pre-diabetes” (when blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not yet in the diabetic range) are more likely to have fatty liver disease than people without these conditions. And people who are overweight are more likely to have diabetes (see Type 2 diabetes above). It is not known why some people who are overweight or diabetic get fatty liver and others do not.
What can weight loss do?
Losing weight can help you control your blood sugar levels. It can also reduce the build-up of fat in your liver and prevent further injury. People with fatty liver disease should avoid drinking alcohol.
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How can I lower my health risks?
If you are overweight, losing as little as 5 percent of your body weight may lower your risk for several diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. If you weigh 200 pounds, this means losing 10 pounds. Slow and steady weight loss of 1/2 to 2 pounds per week, and not more than 3 pounds per week, is the safest way to lose weight.
To lose weight and keep it off over time, try to make long-term changes in your eating and physical activity habits. Choose healthy foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat meat and dairy products, more often and eat just enough food to satisfy you. Try to do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity— walking— most days of the week, preferably every day. To lose weight, or to maintain weight loss, you may need to do more than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily.
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Additional resources
National Cancer Institute
NCI Public Inquiries Office
Suite 3036A
6116 Executive Boulevard, MSC8322
Bethesda, MD 20892-8322
Phone: 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237)
TTY: 1-800-332-8615
http://www.nci.nih.gov/
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse
1 Information Way
Bethesda, MD 20892-3560
Phone: 1-800-860-8747 or (301) 654-3327
http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse
2 Information Way
Bethesda, MD 20892-3570
Phone: 1-800-891-5389 or (301) 654-3810
http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
NHLBI Health Information Center
P.O. Box 30105
Bethesda, MD 20824-0105
Phone: (301) 592-8573
TTY: (240) 629-3255
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Information Clearinghouse
1 AMS Circle
Bethesda, Maryland 20892-3675
Phone: 1-877-22-NIAMS (1-877-226-4267) or (301) 495-4484
TTY: (301) 565-2966
http://www.niams.nih.gov/
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Statistics Related to Obesity

Statistics Related to Overweight and Obesity

  • What are overweight and obesity?
  • How are weight-related health risks determined?
  • Body Mass Index Table
  • Why do statistics about overweight and obesity differ?
  • Prevalence Statistics Related to Overweight and Obesity
  • Economic Costs Related to Overweight and Obesity
  • Other Statistics Related to Overweight and Obesity

About two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight, and almost one-third are obese, according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001 to 2004. This fact sheet presents statistics on the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States, as well as the health risks, mortality rates, and economic costs associated with these conditions. To understand these statistics, it is necessary to know how overweight and obesity are defined and measured, something this publication addresses. This fact sheet also explains why statistics from different sources may not match.
Overweight and obesity are known risk factors for:

  • diabetes
  • coronary heart disease
  • high blood cholesterol
  • stroke
  • hypertension
  • gallbladder disease
  • osteoarthritis (degeneration of cartilage and bone of joints)
  • sleep apnea and other breathing problems
  • some forms of cancer (breast, colorectal, endometrial, and kidney)

Obesity is also associated with:

  • complications of pregnancy
  • menstrual irregularities
  • hirsutism (presence of excess body and facial hair)
  • stress incontinence (urine leakage caused by weak pelvic floor muscles)
  • psychological disorders, such as depression
  • increased surgical risk
  • increased mortality

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What are overweight and obesity?
Overweight refers to an excess of body weight compared to set standards. The excess weight may come from muscle, bone, fat, and/or body water. Obesity refers specifically to having an abnormally high proportion of body fat.[1] A person can be overweight without being obese, as in the example of a bodybuilder or other athlete who has a lot of muscle. However, many people who are overweight are also obese.
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How are weight-related health risks determined?
Various methods are used to determine if someone’s weight has increased his or her health risks. Some are based on the relationship between height and weight; others are based on measurements of body fat. The most commonly used method today is the body mass index (BMI). BMI is an index of weight adjusted for the height of an individual.
BMI can be used to screen for both overweight and obesity in adults. It is the measurement of choice for many obesity researchers and other health professionals, as well as the definition used in most published information on overweight and obesity. BMI is a calculation based on height and weight, and it is not gender-specific in adults. BMI does not directly measure percentage of body fat, but it is a more accurate indicator of overweight and obesity than relying on weight alone.
BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by height in meters squared. The mathematical formula is “weight (kg)/height (m²).”
To determine BMI using pounds and inches, multiply weight in pounds by 704.5,* divide the result by height in inches, and then divide that result by height in inches a second time. (You can also use the BMI calculator at www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi or check the chart below.)
* The multiplier 704.5 is used by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Other organizations may use a slightly different multiplier; for example, the American Dietetic Association suggests multiplying by 700. The variation in outcome (a few tenths) is insignificant.
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Body Mass Index Table
To use the table, find the appropriate height in the left-hand column and then move across to a given weight. The number at the top of the column is the BMI at that height and weight. Pounds have been rounded off.
Source: Clinical Guidelines on Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults, NHLBI, September 1998
An expert panel convened by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in cooperation with the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), both part of NIH, identified overweight as a BMI of 25 to 29.9 kg/m², and obesity as a BMI of 30 kg/m² or greater. However, overweight and obesity are not mutually exclusive, since people who are obese are also overweight.[1] Defining overweight as a BMI of 25 or greater is consistent with the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO)[2] and most other countries.
Calculating BMI is simple, quick, and inexpensive—but it does have limitations. One problem with using BMI as a measurement tool is that very muscular people may fall into the “overweight” category when they are actually healthy and fit. Another problem with using BMI is that people who have lost muscle mass, such as the elderly, may be in the “healthy weight” BMI category (BMI 18.5 to 24.9) when they actually have reduced nutritional reserves. BMI, therefore, is useful as a screening tool for individuals and as a general guideline to monitor trends in the population, but by itself is not diagnostic of an individual patient’s health status. Further assessment of patients should be performed to evaluate their weight status and associated health risks.
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Why do statistics about overweight and obesity differ?
The definitions or measurement characteristics for overweight and obesity have varied over time, from study to study, and from one part of the world to another. The varied definitions affect prevalence statistics and make it difficult to compare data from different studies. Prevalence refers to the total number of existing cases of a disease or condition in a given population at a given time. Some overweight- and obesity-related prevalence rates are presented as crude or unadjusted estimates, while others are age-adjusted estimates. Unadjusted prevalence estimates are used to present cross-sectional data for population groups at a given point or time period, without accounting for the effect of different age variations among groups. For age-adjusted rates, statistical procedures are used to remove the effect of age differences when comparing two or more populations at one point in time, or one population at two or more points in time. Unadjusted estimates and age-adjusted estimates will yield slightly different values.
Previous studies in the United States have used the 1959 or the 1983 Metropolitan Life Insurance tables of desirable weight-for-height as the reference for overweight.[3] More recently, many Government agencies and scientific health organizations have estimated overweight using data from a series of cross-sectional surveys called the National Health Examination Surveys (NHES) and NHANES. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted these surveys. Each had three cycles: NHES I, II, and III spanned the period from 1960 to 1970, and NHANES I, II, and III were conducted in the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s. Since 1999, NHANES has become a continuous survey.
Many earlier reports use a statistically derived definition of overweight from NHANES II (1976 to 1980). This definition (based on the gender-specific 85th percentile values of BMI for 20- to 29-year-olds) is a BMI greater than or equal to (>) 27.3 for women and 27.8 for men. NHANES II further defines “severe overweight” (based on 95th percentile values) as a BMI > 31.1 for men and a BMI > 32.2 for women.[4] Some studies round these numbers to a whole number, which affects the statistical prevalence. In 1995, WHO recommended a classification for three “grades” of overweight using BMI cutoff points of 25, 30, and 40.[5] WHO suggested an additional cutoff point of 35 and slightly different terminology in 1998.[2]
The expert panel convened by NHLBI and NIDDK released a report in September 1998 that provided definitions for overweight and obesity similar to those used by WHO. The panel identified overweight as a BMI > 25 to less than (30. These definitions, widely used by the Federal Government and more frequently by the broader medical and scientific communities, are based on evidence that health risks increase in individuals with a BMI > 25.
BMI cutoff points are a guide for definitions of overweight and obesity and are useful for comparative purposes across populations and over time; however, the health risks associated with overweight and obesity are on a continuum and do not necessarily correspond to rigid cutoff points. For example, an overweight individual with a BMI of 29 does not acquire additional health consequences associated with obesity simply by crossing the BMI threshold of > 30. However, health risks generally increase with increasing BMI.
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Prevalence Statistics Related to Overweight and Obesity*
Overweight and obesity are found worldwide, and the prevalence of these conditions in the United States ranks high along with other developed nations.
Below are some frequently asked questions and answers about overweight and obesity statistics. Data are based on NHANES 2001 to 2004. Unless otherwise specified, the figures given represent age-adjusted estimates. Age-adjusted estimates are used in order to account for the age variations among the groups being compared. Population numbers are based on estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey.
Q: How many adults age 20 and older are overweight or obese (BMI > 25)?
A: About two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese.[6]
All adults: 133.6 million (66 percent)
Women: 65 million (61.6 percent)
Men: 68.3 million (70.5 percent)
* The statistics presented here are based on the following definitions unless otherwise specified: healthy weight = BMI > 18.5 to < 25; overweight = BMI > 25 to < 30; obesity = BMI > 30; and extreme obesity = BMI > 40.
Q: How many adults age 20 and older are obese (BMI > 30)?
A: Nearly one-third of U.S. adults are obese.[6]
All adults: 63.6 million (31.4 percent)
Women: 35 million (33.2 percent)
Men: 28.6 million (29.5 percent)
Q: How many adults age 20 and older are at a healthy weight (BMI > 18.5 through 24.9)?
A: Less than one-third of U.S. adults are at a healthy weight.[6]
All adults: 65.4 million (32.3 percent)
Women: 38.1 million (36.1 percent)
Men: 27.4 million (28.3 percent)
Q: How has the prevalence of overweight and obesity in adults changed over the years?
A: The prevalence has steadily increased over the years among both genders, all ages, all racial and ethnic groups, all educational levels, and all smoking levels.[7] From 1960 to 2004, the prevalence of overweight increased from 44.8 to 66 percent in U.S. adults age 20 to 74.[6] The prevalence of obesity during this same time period more than doubled among adults age 20 to 74 from 13.3 to 32.1 percent, with most of this rise occurring since 1980.[6]
Q: What is the prevalence of overweight or obesity in minorities?
A: Among women, the age-adjusted prevalence of overweight or obesity (BMI > 25) in racial and ethnic minorities is higher among non-Hispanic Black and Mexican-American women than among non-Hispanic White women. Among men, there is little difference in prevalence among these three groups [6]. Sufficient data for other racial and ethnic minorities has not yet been collected.
Non-Hispanic Black Women: 79.6 percent
Mexican-American Women: 73 percent
Non-Hispanic White Women: 57.6 percent
Non-Hispanic Black Men: 67 percent
Mexican-American Men: 74.6 percent
Non-Hispanic White Men: 71 percent
(Statistics are for populations age 20 and older.)
Studies using this definition of overweight and obesity provide ethnicity-specific data only for these three racial and ethnic groups. Studies using different BMI cutoff points derived from NHANES II data to define overweight and obesity have reported a high prevalence of overweight and obesity among Hispanics and American Indians. The prevalence of overweight and obesity in Asian Americans is lower than in the population as a whole.[1]
Q: What is the prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adolescents?
A: While there is no generally accepted definition for obesity as distinct from overweight in children and adolescents, the prevalence of overweight* is increasing for children and adolescents in the United States. Approximately 17.5 percent of children (age 6 to 11) and 17 percent of adolescents (age 12 to 19) were overweight in 2001 to 2004.[6]
* Overweight is defined by the sex- and age-specific 95th percentile cutoff points of the 2000 CDC growth charts. These revised growth charts incorporate smoothed BMI percentiles and are based on data from NHES II (1963 to 1965) and III (1966 to 1970), and NHANES I (1971 to 1974), II (1976 to 1980), and III (1988 to 1994). The CDC BMI growth charts specifically excluded NHANES III data for children older than 6 years.[8]
Figure 1. Overweight and Obesity, by Age: United States, 1960-2004
Source: CDC/NCHS, Health, United States, 2006
Q: What is the mortality rate associated with obesity?
A: Most studies show an increase in mortality rates associated with obesity. Individuals who are obese have a 10- to 50-percent increased risk of death from all causes, compared with healthy weight individuals (BMI 18.5 to 24.9). Most of the increased risk is due to cardiovascular causes.[1] Obesity is associated with about 112,000 excess deaths per year in the U.S. population relative to healthy weight individuals.[9]
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Economic Costs Related to Overweight and Obesity
As the prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased in the United States, so have related health care costs—both direct and indirect. Direct health care costs refer to preventive, diagnostic, and treatment services such as physician visits, medications, and hospital and nursing home care. Indirect costs are the value of wages lost by people unable to work because of illness or disability, as well as the value of future earnings lost by premature death.
Most of the statistics presented here represent the economic cost of overweight and obesity in the United States in 1995, updated to 2001 dollars.[10] Unless otherwise noted, these statistics are adapted from Wolf and Colditz,[11] who based their data on existing epidemiological studies that defined overweight and obesity as a BMI > 29. Because the prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased since 1995, the costs today are higher than the figures given here.
Q: What is the cost of overweight and obesity?
A: Total Cost: $117 billion
Direct Cost: $61 billion*
Indirect Cost: $56 billion
*A recent study estimated annual medical spending due to overweight and obesity (BMI >25) to be as much as $92.6 billion in 2002 dollars—9.1 percent of U.S. health expenditures.[12]
Q: What is the cost of lost productivity related to overweight and obesity?
A: The cost of lost productivity related to obesity among Americans age 17 to 64 is $3.9 billion. This value considers the following annual numbers (for 1994):
Workdays lost: $39.3 million
Physician office visits: $62.7 million
Restricted-activity days: $239 million
Bed-days: $89.5 million
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Other Statistics Related to Overweight and Obesity
Q: How physically active is the U.S. population?
A: Only 26 percent of U.S. adults engage in vigorous leisure-time physical activity three or more times per week (defined as periods of vigorous physical activity lasting 10 minutes or more). About 59 percent of adults do no vigorous physical activity at all in their leisure time.[13]
About 25 percent of young people (age 12 to 21) participate in light-to-moderate activity (e.g., walking, bicycling) nearly every day. About 50 percent regularly engage in vigorous physical activity. Approximately 25 percent report no vigorous physical activity, and 14 percent report no recent vigorous or light-to-moderate physical activity.[14]
Q: What is the cost of physical inactivity?
A: The direct cost of physical inactivity may be as high as $24.3 billion.[15]
Q: What are the benefits of physical activity?
A: In addition to helping control weight, physical activity decreases the risk of dying from coronary heart disease and reduces the risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, and colon cancer.[14]
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Obesity Complications

A person is considered overweight if they have a BMI of 25-30 and if the BMI is >30 they are considered extremely overweight or obese (see BMI index table). There are many medical complications of obesity which cause serious health problems. These medical complications of obesity are a leading cause of preventable death.
The most serious of these medical conditions include:

  • Stroke
  • Heart Disease (Coronary Artery Disease)
  • High Blood pressure
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Respiratory Disease and Asthma
  • Elevated Cholesterol & Triglycerides
  • Sleep Apnea

Obesity is also related to other conditions such as:

  • Joint problems & Back Pain (osteoarthritis)
  • Infertility & Menstrual Irregularities
  • Reflux Esophagitis (Heart Burn)
  • Gallbladder Disease
  • Emotional problems (Depression, poor self-esteem & anxiety)
  • Inactive & Anti-Social lifestyle
  • Poor Hygiene
  • Osteoporosis
  • Skin Infections and Ulcers
  • Urinary Incontinence
  • Poor Venous Circulation
  • Low Energy

In addition, most overweight patients typically suffer the consequences and effects of lost time at work.
The good news is that many of these medical conditions can be reversed & controlled as a direct result of weight loss so patients can live a better quality life.

Understanding Adult Obesity

 

 
 
Today, more than 65 percent of adults in the United States are overweight or obese. Obesity puts people at increased risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and some forms of cancer.
The large number of people with obesity and the serious health risks that come with it make understanding its causes and treatment crucial. This fact sheet provides basic information about obesity: What is it? How is it measured? What causes it? What are the health risks? What can you do about it?
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What is obesity?

“Obesity” specifically refers to an excessive amount of body fat. “Overweight” refers to an excessive amount of body weight that includes muscle, bone, fat, and water. As a rule, women have more body fat than men. Most health care professionals agree that men with more than 25 percent body fat and women with more than 30 percent body fat are obese. These numbers should not be confused with the body mass index (BMI), however, which is more commonly used by health care professionals to determine the effect of body weight on the risk for some diseases.

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How is obesity measured?

Measuring the exact amount of a person’s body fat is not easy. The most accurate measures are to weigh a person underwater or in a chamber that uses air displacement to measure body volume, or to use an X-ray test called Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry, also known as DEXA. These methods are not practical for the average person, and are done only in research centers with special equipment.
There are simpler methods to estimate body fat. One is to measure the thickness of the layer of fat just under the skin in several parts of the body. Another involves sending a harmless amount of electricity through a person’s body. Results from these methods, however, can be inaccurate if done by an inexperienced person or on someone with extreme obesity.
Because measuring a person’s body fat is difficult, health care professionals often rely on other means to diagnose obesity. Weight-for-height tables, used for decades, have a range of acceptable weights for a person of a given height. One problem with these tables is that there are many versions, all with different weight ranges. Another problem is that they do not distinguish between excess fat and muscle. According to the tables, a very muscular person may be classified obese when he or she is not. The BMI is less likely to misidentify a person’s appropriate weight-for-height range.
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Body Mass Index

The BMI is a tool used to assess overweight and obesity and monitor changes in body weight. Like the weight-for-height tables, BMI has its limitations because it does not measure body fat or muscle directly. It is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in pounds by height in inches squared and multiplied by 703.
Two people can have the same BMI but different body fat percentages. A bodybuilder with a large muscle mass and low percentage of body fat may have the same BMI as a person who has more body fat. However, a BMI of 30 or higher usually indicates excess body fat.
The BMI table below provides a useful guideline to check your BMI. First, find your weight on the bottom of the graph. Go straight up from that point until you come to the line that matches your height. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 indicates a person is overweight. A person with a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese. Please review your findings with your health care provider if your BMI is outside of the normal range.
 

* Without Shoes
**Without Clothes
Sources
George Bray, M.D., Pennington Biomedical Research Center.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults: The Evidence Report.
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Body Fat Distribution

Health care providers are concerned not only with how much fat a person has, but also where the fat is located on the body. Women typically collect fat in their hips and buttocks, giving them a “pear” shape. Men usually build up fat around their bellies, giving them more of an “apple” shape. Of course some men are pear-shaped and some women become apple-shaped, especially after menopause.
Excess abdominal fat is an important, independent risk factor for disease. Research has shown that waist circumference is directly associated with abdominal fat and can be used in the assessment of the risks associated with obesity or overweight. If you carry fat mainly around your waist, you are more likely to develop obesity-related health problems. Women with a waist measurement of more than 35 inches and men with a waist measurement of more than 40 inches may have more health risks than people with lower waist measurements because of their body fat distribution.
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What causes obesity?

Obesity occurs when a person consumes more calories from food than he or she burns. Our bodies need calories to sustain life and be physically active, but to maintain weight we need to balance the energy we eat with the energy we use. When a person eats more calories than he or she burns, the energy balance is tipped toward weight gain and obesity. This imbalance between calories-in and calories-out may differ from one person to another. Genetic, environmental, and other factors may all play a part.
Genetic Factors
Obesity tends to run in families, suggesting a genetic cause. However, families also share diet and lifestyle habits that may contribute to obesity. Separating genetic from other influences on obesity is often difficult. Even so, science does show a link between obesity and heredity.
Environmental and Social Factors
Environment strongly influences obesity. Consider that most people in the United States alive today were also alive in 1980, when obesity rates were lower. Since this time, our genetic make-up has not changed, but our environment has.
Environment includes lifestyle behaviors such as what a person eats and his or her level of physical activity. Too often Americans eat out, consume large meals and high-fat foods, and put taste and convenience ahead of nutrition. Also, most people in the United States do not get enough physical activity.
Environment also includes the world around us—our access to places to walk and healthy foods, for example. Today, more people drive long distances to work instead of walking, live in neighborhoods without sidewalks, tend to eat out or get “take out” instead of cooking, or have vending machines with high-calorie, high-fat snacks at their workplace. Our environment often does not support healthy habits.
In addition, social factors including poverty and a lower level of education have been linked to obesity. One reason for this may be that high-calorie processed foods cost less and are easier to find and prepare than healthier foods, such as fresh vegetables and fruits. Other reasons may include inadequate access to safe recreation places or the cost of gym memberships, limiting opportunities for physical activity. However, the link between low socio-economic status and obesity has not been conclusively established, and recent research shows that obesity is also increasing among high-income groups.
Although you cannot change your genetic makeup, you can work on changing your eating habits, levels of physical activity, and other environmental factors. Try these ideas:

  • Learn to choose sensible portions of nutritious meals that are lower in fat.
  • Learn to recognize and control environmental cues (like inviting smells or a package of cookies on the counter) that make you want to eat when you are not hungry.
  • Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (like brisk walking) on most, preferably all, days of the week.
  • Take a walk instead of watching television.
  • Eat meals and snacks at a table, not in front of the TV.
  • Keep records of your food intake and physical activity.

Other Causes of Obesity

Some illnesses may lead to or are associated with weight gain or obesity. These include:

  • Hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland fails to produce enough thyroid hormone. It often results in lowered metabolic rate and loss of vigor.
  • Cushing’s syndrome, a hormonal disorder caused by prolonged exposure of the body’s tissues to high levels of the hormone cortisol. Symptoms vary, but most people have upper body obesity, rounded face, increased fat around the neck, and thinning arms and legs.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition characterized by high levels of androgens (male hormone), irregular or missed menstrual cycles, and in some cases, multiple small cysts in the ovaries. Cysts are fluid-filled sacs.

A doctor can tell whether there are underlying medical conditions that are causing weight gain or making weight loss difficult.
Lack of sleep may also contribute to obesity. Recent studies suggest that people with sleep problems may gain weight over time. On the other hand, obesity may contribute to sleep problems due to medical conditions such as sleep apnea, where a person briefly stops breathing at multiple times during the night. You may wish to talk with your health care provider if you have difficulty sleeping.
Certain drugs such as steroids, some antidepressants, and some medications for psychiatric conditions or seizure disorders may cause weight gain. These drugs may slow the rate at which the body burns calories, stimulate appetite, or cause the body to hold on to extra water. Be sure your doctor knows all the medications you are taking (including over-the-counter medications and dietary supplements). He or she may recommend a different medication that has less effect on weight gain.
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What are the consequences of obesity?

Health Risks
Obesity is more than a cosmetic problem. Many serious medical conditions have been linked to obesity, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. Obesity is also linked to higher rates of certain types of cancer. Men who are obese are more likely than nonobese men to develop cancer of the colon, rectum, or prostate. Women who are obese are more likely than nonobese women to develop cancer of the gallbladder, uterus, cervix, or ovaries. Esophageal cancer has also been associated with obesity.
Other diseases and health problems linked to obesity include:

  • Gallbladder disease and gallstones.
  • Fatty liver disease (also called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis or NASH).
  • Gastroesophageal reflux, or what is sometimes called GERD. This problem occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter does not close properly and stomach contents leak back—or reflux—into the esophagus.
  • Osteoarthritis, a disease in which the joints deteriorate. This is possibly the result of excess weight on the joints.
  • Gout, another disease affecting the joints.
  • Pulmonary (breathing) problems, including sleep apnea, which causes a person to stop breathing for a short time during sleep.
  • Reproductive problems in women, including menstrual irregularities and infertility.

Health care providers generally agree that the more obese a person is, the more likely he or she is to develop health problems.
Psychological and Social Effects
Emotional suffering may be one of the most painful parts of obesity. American society emphasizes physical appearance and often equates attractiveness with slimness, especially for women. Such messages make overweight people feel unattractive.
Many people think that individuals with obesity are gluttonous, lazy, or both. This is not true. As a result, people who are obese often face prejudice or discrimination in the job market, at school, and in social situations. Feelings of rejection, shame, or depression may occur.
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Who should lose weight?

Health care providers generally agree that people who have a BMI of 30 or greater can improve their health through weight loss.
This is especially true for people with a BMI of 40 or greater, who are considered extremely obese.
Preventing additional weight gain is recommended if you have a BMI between 25 and 29.9, unless you have other risk factors for obesity-related diseases. Obesity experts recommend you try to lose weight if you have two or more of the following:

  • Family history of certain chronic diseases. If you have close relatives who have had heart disease or diabetes, you are more likely to develop these problems if you are obese.
  • Preexisting medical conditions. High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol levels, low HDL cholesterol levels, high triglycerides, and high blood glucose are all warning signs of some obesity-associated diseases.
  • Large waist circumference. Men who have waist circumferences greater than 40 inches, and women who have waist circumferences greater than 35 inches, are at higher risk of diabetes, dyslipidemia (abnormal amounts of fat in the blood), high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Fortunately, a weight loss of 5 to 10 percent of your initial body weight can do much to improve health by lowering blood pressure and other risk factors for obesity-related diseases. In addition, research shows that a 5- to 7-percent weight loss brought about by moderate diet and exercise can delay or possibly prevent type 2 diabetes in people at high risk for the disease. In a recent study, participants who were overweight and had pre-diabetes—a condition in which a person’s blood glucose level is higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes—were able to delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes by adopting a low-fat, low-calorie diet and exercising for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. For more information about pre-diabetes and diabetes, visit www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov.
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How is obesity treated?

The method of treatment depends on your level of obesity, overall health condition, and readiness to lose weight. Treatment may include a combination of diet, exercise, behavior modification, and sometimes weight-loss drugs. In some cases of extreme obesity, bariatric surgery may be recommended.
Remember, weight control is a life-long effort, and having realistic expectations about weight loss is an important consideration. Eating a healthful diet and getting at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week have important health benefits. Sixty minutes of physical activity a day may be required to prevent gradual weight gain in adulthood. Previously overweight and obese individuals are encouraged to get 60 to 90 minutes of exercise a day to sustain weight loss.
Although most adults do not need to see their healthcare professional before starting a moderate-intensity physical activity program, men older than 40 years and women older than 50 years who plan a vigorous program or who have either chronic disease or risk factors for chronic illnesses should speak with their health care provider before starting a physical activity program.
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Additional Reading

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Strategic Plan for NIH Obesity Research. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS); NIH. NIH Publication No. 04-5493. 2004.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults. DHHS; NIH. NIH Publication No. 98-4083. 1998.
National Task Force on Prevention and Treatment of Obesity. Overweight, obesity, and health risk. Archives of Internal Medicine. 160(7):898-904. 2000.
Partnership for Healthy Weight Management. Weight Loss: Finding a Weight Loss Program that Works for You.
Website: www.consumer.gov/weightloss/brochures.htm. 2000.
U.S. Department of Agriculture and DHHS. Finding Your Way to a Healthier You: Based on the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” Phone: 1-888-878-3256. Website: www.healthierus.gov/dietaryguidelines. 2005.
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Weight Lifting Exercises

18 Oct 2011 Sports and Fitness

Weight lifting and Exercises Metabolism
 

  • Trapezius
  • Deltoids
  • Chest
  • Triceps
  • Biceps
  • Forearm
  • Abs

 
Trapezius
“Get huge traps!”
EXERCISES
Upright Rows

  • Use a close or wide grip.
  • Bring the bar up to the chin.
  • The elbows should come up higher than the bar.
  • Exhale on the lift.

Dumbbell Shrugs

  • Hold the dumbbells with your palms facing inward and the weights hanging at arms’ length at your sides.
  • Drop both shoulders down as far as possible then raise your shoulders while rotating them in a circular motion from front to rear. Keep your spine as straight as possible.
  • You can do this standing or seated on a flat bench with your feet on the floor.
  • The non-rotating version is shown here.
  • You can also do this with a barbell.

Most shoulder exercises also work the traps
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Deltoids
“Get so wide you have to turn sideways to get through a door!”
EXERCISES
Overhead Barbell Press

  • Legs should be shoulder width apart.
  • Press the bar up in your direct line of vision.
  • Don’t arch your back when pressing up.
  • Don’t lockout you elbows at the top of the movement.
  • Exhale on the lift.
  • Your arms should be 6 -8 inches wider than should width.
  • This can be done in front or behind the neck.

Upright Rows

  • Use a close or wide grip.
  • Bring the bar up to the chin.
  • The elbows should come up higher than the bar.
  • Exhale on the lift. A narrow grip primarily works the traps, a wide grip will shift the strain to the side delts.

Side Lateral Raises

  • Can be performed seated or standing.
  • gradually rotate the wrists so that the little finger is highest. It is like pouring a jug of water. Works the side delts for width!

Front Lateral Raise

  • Same as the side lateral raise except you raise the dumbbells to the front.
  • This works the front delts primarily. You can also use a barbell or do one arm at a time.

Overhead Dumbbell Press

  • Hold two dumbbells above your head.
  • With a slow motion move up and down keeping the dumbbells facing end to end.
  • Have a friend help you lift the weights to your start position for the first rep. Great deltoid exercise!

Arnold Press

  • Invented by Arnold Schwarzenegger! Same at the dumbbell overhead press except your have your palms facing your head at the bottom of the movement. Slowly twist to the top position where the dumbbells touch end to end.

Almost any exercise for back or chest also works the shoulders. Hit them hard for a few sets directly but be careful not to overtrain them! Injuries are very common to this area.
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Chest
“Pack pounds onto your chest!”
EXERCISES
Full Bench Press Video w/ Audio! (MPG, 37 sec., 3.95MB)
Basic Bench Press Video without Audio (MPG, 16 sec., 1.58MB)
Bench Press

  • Lie on your back and take the barbell from the supports, using a grip that is six to eight inches wider than shoulder width.
  • Lower the bar slowly to the nipple region, and then press it back to the locked-out position.
  • Don’t bounce it off your chest! Don’t let your butt come off the bench!
  • If you have trouble keeping your back on the bench without arching, put your legs up in the air. Mainly works the lower chest region, but the whole pectoral-deltoid area is stimulated.

Decline Bench

  • The opposite of incline.
  • Works the lower outer chest region.
  • Some bodybuilders say this stresses the chest harder than flat bench presses.
  • Adjust the bench between 30 – 45 degrees depending on what feels best.

Incline Bench

  • Set the bench to an angle of 25 – 30 degrees if possible.
  • Bring the bar down to the center of the chest just under the chin. Works the upper chest mainly, along with the front delts and triceps. As you increase the angle, the stress shifts from the upper chest to the shoulders.

Cable Crossovers

  • Grab a handle from the high pulley in each hand.
  • Lean forward with one foot in front and slowly bring the cables together.
  • Maintain tension in the pecs! Slowly return to the starting position.

Dumbbell Press

  • Similar to the barbell version, but you use two dumbbells.
  • With the dumbbells pointing end to end lower them to your sides. Pause at the bottom, and then press to arms’ length.
  • Dumbbells give you a greater range of motion for a greater stretch. Develops the pec-delt tie-ins and the inner chest.

Incline Dumbbell Press

  • The inclined version of the flat dumbbell press.
  • Lower the dumbbells slowly, going for a full but controlled stretch at the bottom. Great for developing the upper chest!

Incline Flyes

  • Lie face up on the incline bench.
  • Grab a dumbbell in each hand and place them at arms’ length above your shoulders with palms facing inward and the arms straight.
  • Using a semi-circular motion, lower the weights down to each side of the chest.
  • Keep your elbows slightly flexed!
  • Works your inner pecs. You can also do this on a flat bench.

Pullovers

  • Be sure to keep your feet flat on the floor.
  • Hold a dumbbell over your head with your arms as straight as you can keep them.
  • Slowly lower the weight back behind your head until your arms are parallel to the floor.
  • You can also do this with your body perpendicular to the bench. Works your pectoralis minor.

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Triceps
“Get big triceps fast!”
EXERCISES
(toddclose.mpg, 31 sec, 2.91MB)
Close-Grip Bench Press

  • These place intense stress on the inner pectorals, anterior-medial deltoids, and of coarse, triceps.
  • The narrower the grip on the bar, the more stress you place on the triceps and the less you place on pecs and delts.
  • Your grip should leave your index fingers 5-8 inches apart.
  • Have a training partner help you lift the weight off the rack so that your arms are above your chest.
  • Be sure that your upper arms travel nearly directly out to the sides.
  • While slowly bending your arms, lower the weight to your chest.
  • Without bouncing the bar, slowly push the weight back up to starting position.
  • This exercise can also be performed on incline or decline benches. Try varying the width of your grip to see how it differently if works your pecs, delts, and triceps.

Triceps Parallel Bar Dips

  • This is generally considered a pectoral excersize, as it places intense stress on the pecs, anterior-deltoids and triceps, but when the torso maintained erect underneath the body, this is one of the best movements for the triceps.
  • Jump to a supported position on the bars with your palms facing inward, arms straight, legs bent, and ankles crossed.
  • Keep your torso perfectly erect throughout the movement.
  • Bending your arms, lower your body as far down between the bars as possible.
  • Without bouncing in the bottom position, slowly raise your body to the start position. When you become strong enough to use extra weight, you can dangle a dumbbell or plates beneath you with a rope or belt.

Pulley Pushdowns

  • This basic movement stresses the entire triceps muscle complex, particularly the outer and medial heads.
  • Grip the bar overhand with your index fingers no more than 3-5 inches apart in the middle of the handle.
  • Your feet should be shoulder width apart about 10-12 inches back from the handle.
  • Fully bend your arms, pressing your upper arms against your torso, where they should stay through the duration of the set.
  • Leaning slightly forward, move your forearms down, slowly straightening your arms.
  • Hold the straight-arm position momentarily, while flexing your triceps intensely.
  • Slowly return to the starting point. A good variation is the rope handle. You can also do this exercise with an undergrip on the bar and with different width grips.

Lying Barbell Triceps Extensions

  • These fundamental favorites isolate intense stress on the triceps, particularly the medial and outer heads.
  • Taking a narrow overgrip in the middle of a moderately weighted barbell, lye on your back on an exercise bench.
  • Keep your feet on the sides of the bench to provide balance.
  • Extend your arms straight up above your head.
  • With your upper arms remaining motionless throughout the set, bend your elbows allowing the barbell to travel downward in a semicircular arc until it slightly touches your forehead.
  • Reverse the direction of the movement of the bar using only tricep strength to slowly straighten your arms. There are many effective variations, such as using different grip widths, doing them seated, using an undergrip, or using a decine or incline bench.

(toddext.mpg, 26 sec, 2.34MB)
One-Dumbbell Triceps Extensions

  • This movement stresses the entire triceps muscle complex, particularly the inner and medial heads.
  • Take the dumbbell and grip it so that your palms are facing the inner-top plate and the dumbbell is hanging straight down (perpendicular to the gym floor).
  • To keep the weight from slipping, encircle your thumbs around the dumbbell handle.
  • Lift the dumbbell straight up above your head. This is the start position.
  • Lower the weight slowly behind your head until your arms are full bent.
  • Without bouncing in the bottom position, slowly raise the dumbbell back to the start position. You can increase the strictness of this movement by sitting at the end of a flat exercise bench, or on the floor with your back braced against the bench.

Standing Barbell Triceps Extensions

  • This is a fundamental triceps exercise, stressing the inner and medial heads of the triceps muscle complex.
  • Take a narrow overgrip in the middle of a moderately-weighted barbell.
  • With feet about shoulder width apart, stand erect and extend your arms straight up from your shoulders.
  • Keep your upper arms in the same position, while you lower the weight slowly behind your head until your arms are completely bent.
  • Without bouncing in the bottom position, slowly raise the bar back to the start position. You can vary the width of your grip on the bar or use an undergrip to isolate different parts of the muscle. You can also do these seated to isolate your legs from movement, making the exercise somewhat stricter.

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Biceps
“Build your biceps beyond belief!”
EXERCISES
(toddcurl.mpg, 34 sec, 3.13MB)
Barbell Curls

  • Undergrip the bar at shoulder-width.
  • Avoid swaying your torso to help you move the weight… that’s Cheating.
  • Press your upper arms against the sides of your torso to keep them in position throughout the set.
  • Use biceps strength to curl the weight in a semicurcular arc to your chin.
  • Powerfully contract your biceps at the finish position, then slowly lower the bar back to your thighs.
  • Experiment with different width grips to work different parts of the bicep muscle. You can also do these kneeling.

(todddbcurl.mpg, 44 sec, 3.89MB)
Dumbbell Curls

  • Like barbell curls, these place intense stress on the biceps and lesser stress on the forearm.
  • The undergrip is the primary method used to grip the dumbells, but for variation and to add more stress to the forearms, use an overhand (supinated) grip.
  • Press your upper arms against the sides of your torso to keep them in position throughout the set.
  • Use biceps strength to curl the weight in a semicurcular arc to your chin.
  • As the dumbbells reach the halfway point, rotate the wrists so that your palms are facing upwards (pronation) for the second half of the workout.
  • Powerfully contract your biceps at the finish position, then slowly lower the bar back to your thighs.
  • To intensify the work on your biceps, this exercise can be done seated. You can also alternate dumbell curls, lifting one weight as the other is coming down. Try these while seated on an incline bench to rip you a new one!

Hammer Curls

  • Hammer curls work the biceps incredibly intensely; however, they are intended as a brachialis and forearm supinator exercise.
  • Press your upper arms against the sides of your torso to keep them in position throughout the set.
  • Use biceps strength to curl the weight simultaneously upward and foreward in a semicurcular arc to shoulder level.
  • Powerfully contract your biceps at the finish position, then slowly lower the bar back at your sides.
  • To intensify the work on your biceps, this exercise can be done seated.
  • If seated, you can alternate hammer curls.

Concentration Curls

  • Sit with your feet 4-6 inches wider than your shoulders.
  • Grasping the dumbbell in hand, brace the back of your tricep against the inside of your thigh near your knee.
  • Use biceps strength to curl the weight in a semicurcular arc to your chin.
  • Your arm should be completely straight with the weight at your hand. Your other arm can either be rested on your other knee or wedged the triceps of your working arm.
  • With palm facing forward (supination), slowly contract your biceps to bring the weight up to your shoulder.
  • Tense your biceps as strongly as possible in this peak-contracted position, then lower the weight slowly back along the same arc to the starting position. The real key to this exercise is mental concentration. Stay focused on working those biceps!

Barbell Preacher Curls

  • This is an excellent overall mass builder for the biceps, particularly adding mass to the lower biceps near the elbow.
  • Lean over the preacher bench with your arms parallel.
  • Grasp the barbell or have a training buddy place the barbell into your supinated (palms face-up) hands.
  • The upper edge of the bench should be wedged under your armpits.
  • Use biceps strength to slowly curl the weight directly upward to shoulder level.
  • After reaching the peak, slowly return the weight to starting position.
  • Don’t attempt to bounce the weight in the bottom position, as your biceps are vulnerable to injury. Ease the weight down.
  • You can also do this exercise with dumbbells; both arms at a time arcing slightly larger than your elbows’ width, or concentrating hard on one arm at a time. You can also do this with a reverse palms-down grip to stress the forearms.

Lower Cable Curls

  • Bodybuilders use this exercise to isolate the biceps.
  • Grasp the handle on each side of you and stand with your hands face up.
  • Use biceps strength to slowly curl the weight toward your shoulder, keeping your elbow in the same place.
  • At the finish position, flex your biceps to give an additional burn.
  • Lower the weight slowly back along the same arc to the starting position.

High Cable Curls

  • Same as the above exercise, exept use the upper handles, pulling the weight from above.
  • Be sure to keep your elbows in the same position as you bring the weight towards your shoulders.
  • At the finish position, flex your biceps to give an additional burn.
  • Slowly uncurl your arms back along the same arc to the starting position.

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Forearm
“Look like Popeye!”
EXERCISES
Barbell Wrist Curls

  • Use a light weight.
  • Have your palms facing up.
  • Keep your elbows stationary on a bench or on your knees while sitting.
  • Most bodybuilders use a rep range between 12 – 15. Experiment to see what works best for you.

Reverse Wrist Curls

  • Same as the Barbell Wrist Curl except with a reverse palms-down grip.
  • Use a light weight. Keep your elbows stationary

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Abs
“Get a cut six-pack!”
AB EXERCISES
Parallel Bar Leg Raises

  • These aren’t as extreme as hanging from a chinup bar but more difficult than regular leg raises. With your elbows and forearm braced on the parallel bars to hold your weight, lift your legs straight up parallel with the floor, then lower them slowly.

Bent-Knee Leg Raises

  • Same as above except with bent knees.

Crunches

  • These are known to be very intense isolating movements for your abs. They equally distribute the stress from the top to the bottom of the adbominal wall. They place secondary emphasis on the intercostals.
  • So, how do you properly do them? While lying on your back, either hold your legs at a 90 degree angle in the air with your lower legs parallel to the floor, or drape them over a bench or piece of furniture.
  • With your fingers interlocked behind your neck, raise your shoulders and back off the floor, force your deltoids toward your legs, and pull your hips upward.
  • Finally, exhale your breath. Hold the contraction for a moment, then slowly lower yourself down again.

Machine Crunches

  • These stress the entire rectus abdominus wall to the max. The intense isolation works the intercostals as well.
  • Adjust the seat height, so that your toes are comfortable beneath the restraint. Hold on to the upper body restraint(s).
  • Now, with an appropriate weight chosen, crunch down and go to town. Be sure to keep your abdominal muscles stretched and go slow to really feel the burn.

List of other ab exercises…

  • Sit-Ups – They are the most basic and common adbominal exercise. Sit-ups work the entire rectus abdominus. You can perform them twisting to one side then the other to hit the obliques and intercostals. They can be performed on the floor or on an incline sit-up bench. With your feet hooked under the restraint and your fingers interlocked behind your neck, crunch your body together!
  • Roman Chair Sit-Ups – These relatively new exercises are designed to isolate the entire abdominal wall, especially stressing the upper half. If done with a twist to one side or the other, these can really work the obliques and intercostals. Simply sit at the Roman chair, hooking your toes around the restraint bar. Cross your arms and crunch! Slow and deliberate motions will really get those abs burning.
  • Leg Raises – These are fundamental for building ripped abs. Lie on an ab board or on the floor. Bend your legs at a 15-20 degree angle and crunch your legs toward your abs in a semicircular arc.
  • Bench Leg Raises – These are just leg raises that are done with your hips at the end of a bench so that you can get a far better range of motion and intensely work your lower abdominals.
  • Hanging Leg Raises – Quite a bit more intense than regular leg raises, these place stress on the entire abdominal wall, but primarily the lower half. Hanging from a chin-up bar with your legs bent at about 15-20 degrees, lift your legs until your feet are higher than your hips. Then, slowly lower your legs back down to starting position.
  • Knee-Ups – These are to be performed on the end of a flat bench. Grasp the sides of the bench with your hands behind your hips and extend your legs with a 15-20 degree bend. Slowly bend your legs and bring your feet toward the bench, then extend them again.
  • Hanging Frog Kicks – These are a more intense version of knee-ups. While hanging from a chinning bar with an overhand grip, move your knees up to your chest while bending your legs completely. Hold this position for a really great burn then slowly lower your legs back to the dangling position.
  • Pulley Crunches – These are a really cool way to work your abs. They not only stress the rectus abdominus to the max, but they also involve some muscle tensing of the lats and serratus anterior muscles at your sides. Use the upper cable of a pulley machine with the rope handle attachment. While on your knees, grasp the ends of the rope with both hands and pull downward with your arms and abs until you touch the floor about 4 inches ahead of your forehead. Hold this position for a two count, then slowly raise back up so you can do it again! Remember to exhale during the contraction. You can do this exercise with one arm at a time or from side to side to involve the intercostals and obliques more.
  • Side Bends – This is a great exercise to completely target your obliques. While standing, grasp a dumbell in one hand and allow it to hang at your sides. Put your other hand behind your neck. Let the dumbell pull that side of your body down as far as possible, bending only at the waist. Then use the obliques of the opposite side to pull your body back erect. About 30 reps on each side and you will be feeling it!
  • Seated Twists – Ready to tone your transverse obliques under your regular obliques? These are the answer. Reportedly these can help trim the waist line and are a great warm up exercise. While seated straddling the middle of a flat bench, place an unweighted light bar or broom stick across your lats, behind your neck. Grasp the ends of the bar with your hands. Forcefully twist at your waist left to right in a rhythm…they get tiring!
  • Standing Bent-Over Twists – These are very similar to seated twists except that instead of sitting, you are actually leaning forward twisting from side to side with your hands grasping the ends of the bar across your shoulders.

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Body Building Nutrition

18 Oct 2011 Sports and Fitness

Diet Facts, Fallacies and Strategies for Building Muscle and Burning Fat
by Jeffery Stout, Ph.D.
If the human body could list its top-10 most efficient processes, adaptation would probably rank number one. Evolution over millions of years has turned the species into a form that’s geared not for the production of a slim waist or muscular arms, but for survival. In ages past, periods of famine were common. Yet the human race prevailed. The catch, unfortunately, is that those who have a considerable propensity to store fat survived. Thus, the 20th-century human is someone who has adapted to years of food shortages through a nauseating ability to maintain a pear-shaped torso. So much for survival of the fittest.
Consequently, when the innocent dieter initiates a restrictive diet, the body’s response is to kick into survival mode. That, in essence, is a signal to store fat to offset an anticipated period of insufficient calorie intake. Compounding matters is a gradual decline of the body’s metabolism, rendering the task of fat loss even more difficult.
The process is no different from any other the body performs when encountering change—it adapts. Instead of perceiving food as the culprit, you should view it as fuel. Food is fuel for an increasing metabolism, fuel for the release of fatburning and muscle-building hormones and, finally, fuel for a healthy diet and a normal lifestyle. When you eat food in precise amounts, your body must adapt; however, it adapts to the notion that it will get the energy it needs. When it does, your body will respond with its own goodwill gesture, a liberation of its suddenly unnecessary fat stores.
Facts and Fallacies of Food
All food can be separated into three basic types: proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Together they form the basis of all diets and, along with exercise, ultimately determine changes in body composition. You achieve such changes through hormonal release, an increase in metabolism and the preservation and enhancement of muscle tissue.
Proteins are considered the body’s building blocks for muscular repair, maintenance and growth. Adequate protein intake ensures the preservation of muscle tissue and enhances recovery from both strenuous workouts and daily activities. Since exercise causes significant damage to muscular tissue and subsequent growth requires adequate recovery, protein is often the missing factor. If you don’t take in enough protein, your muscle may not be spared and you’ll experience appreciable decreases in metabolism.
Fallacy 1: The RDA for Protein Is Sufficient
The recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, for protein is approximately .36 grams per pound of bodyweight. Based on that, a 200-pound man would require a mere 72 grams of protein daily. That may be sufficient for a sedentary individual, but when you factor in strenuous activity such as endurance or weight training, the RDA is grossly inadequate. In fact, research studies have suggested that consuming the RDA for protein during periods of intense training may lead to loss of muscular tissue.1,2 It’s apparent that protein requirements depend on an individual’s activity level, to the extent that a range between .64 and .91 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight is appropriate. 1.,2
The body’s primary fuel for energy is derived from carbohydrates. They’re especially important for aerobic activities and high-volume weight training and are also used during periods of recovery. As with protein, inadequate intake of carbohydrates can compromise exercise performance and duration; however, based on the recommendations of most dietitians, you might mistakenly believe that there are no perils involved in carbohydrate consumption.
Fallacy 2: The More Carbs the Better
Contrary to what’s often uttered about the merits of carbohydrates, the fact remains that excess carbs lead to excess inches. With the exception of the overly lean individual who has a speedy metabolism, a situation in which weight gain is often the goal, overindulgence in high-carb foods can be as detrimental to waistlines as excess fat. While many people believe that spare carbohydrates are in large part stored for energy, it’s more likely that excess carbs will be converted to bodyfat. 3 Furthermore, studies have shown that subjects can achieve identical improvements in body composition, strength and muscular endurance with diets in which as little as 40 percent of the calories come from carbohydrates vs. those that contain more than 60 percent carb.4,5 Studies have also repeatedly demonstrated that the total calorie intake is the dominant factor in weight loss.6,7
It’s obvious that fats have endured more than their share of abuse. Saturated fats, in particular, are considered a key contributor to heart disease, an epidemic that’s claimed more lives than the flood in Genesis. Fats also carry more than twice as many calories per gram as either carbohydrates or protein. Though it’s true that an excessive fat intake is the best way to make yourself resemble a blimp, it’s also a fact that fat is necessary for proper metabolic function, for hormone production and as an energy source.
Table 1: Glycemic-Index Rankings of Foods
(All foods are rated in comparison to white bread, which is scored 100)
High
Instant rice (128)
Crispix cereal (124)
Baked potato (121)
Cornflakes cereal (119)
Rice Krispies cereal (117)
Pretzels (116)
Total cereal (109)
Doughnut (108)
Watermelon (103)
Bagel (103)
Cream of Wheat (100)
Grapenuts cereal (96)
Nutri-grain bar (94)
Macaroni and cheese (92)
Raisins (91)
Moderate
Ice cream (87)
Cheese pizza (86)
White rice (83)
Popcorn (79)
Oatmeal cookies (79)
Brown rice (79)
Spaghetti, durum (78)
Sweet corn (78)
Oat bran (78)
Sweet potato (77)
Banana (77)
Special K cereal (77)
Orange juice (74)
Cheese tortellini (71)
Chocolate (70)
Low
Grapefruit juice (69)
Green peas (68)
Grapes (66)
Linguine (65)
Macaroni (64)
Orange (63)
Peach (60)
All-Bran cereal (60)
Spaghetti, white (59)
Apple juice (58)
Apple (54)
Vermicelli (50)
Barley (49)
Fettucine (46)
Lentils (41)
Fallacy 3: Avoid Fat Entirely
Most American diets contain either too little or too much fat. Neither method is a successful tactic for weight loss. When examining what occurs with most restrictive diets, people assume that all dietary fat can only be deposited in adipose tissue. That’s absurd. In reality the body uses dietary fat for energy when it’s in a state of negative energy balance. 8 As long as your total calorie intake is less than what you expend, the percentage of fat in the diet isn’t as significant as was once thought. Studies have also affirmed that subjects can achieve equivalent differences in weight loss with diets consisting of approximately 10 to 50 percent fat, as long as the total calorie consumption is identical.
It’s evident that the low-calorie, lowfat, high-carbohydrate diets that dietitians and others have been advocating for years are in fact fallacies.
All Carbohydrates Are Not Created Equal
Now that you know to avoid excess carbohydrates, it’s time to look at the type of carbs you should eat. Though all carbohydrates break down into glucose and are released into the bloodstream, the speed at which the process occurs varies drastically with different carbohydrates. The absorption rate is a critical factor in energy levels, fat reduction and overall health. Foods have been assigned a glycemic-index rating, a measure of how fast their carbohydrates enter the bloodstream to be used as energy or stored as glycogen, a preserved form of energy. High-glycemic foods are available quickly for use as energy; while that may seem optimal, in actuality they trigger a hormonal reaction that has reverse effects.
High-glycemic carbohydrates produce a rush of glucose into the bloodstream, elevating blood sugar levels dramatically. The sudden rise stimulates a release of the hormone insulin, which essentially negates the high-energy effects of glucose. The rapid release of insulin shuttles the glucose out of the bloodstream, effectively dropping energy levels to lethargic lows. To make matters worse, it also takes the fatty acid energy source with it, shoveling it into the fat cells for storage. High-glycemic foods, therefore, carry a double curse, keeping you fat and lazy.
In the past experts recommended that foods high in simple sugars— such as candy, cookies and soft drinks—be avoided for the aforementioned reasons. While that’s true, many revered energy sources are also considered high-glycemic foods. Surprisingly, many kinds of pasta, rice and potatoes rank rather high on the glycemic index. Breads and cereals are also often offensive, fast enough to zap energy levels and hoard fat. Fortunately, you can get the opposite results with low-glycemic foods. They provide more stable energy levels and a slower insulin response, favoring the probability of productive workouts and sustained vitality. Those foods rank in the below-70 category on the glycemic index chart (see Table 1). Since foods are usually eaten in combinations, the glycemic index of a meal is usually lower than the glycemic index of its highest constituent. For instance, if you combine equal calories from a bagel and an apple, the glycemic index of that meal becomes more acceptable.7,9 Protein also helps matters, as protein foods efficiently decrease the total glycemic index of what you’re eating by slowing the absorption rate of the carbohydrates. That emphasizes the importance of combining protein and carbohydrates in each meal.
Food: A Potent Hormone Trigger
As discussed above, the hazards of one hormone, insulin, are encouraged when you eat high-glycemic foods. While insulin promotes fat storage, growth hormone, or GH, effectively burns fat, builds muscle and improves the immune system. That provides another advantage to low-glycemic foods. If you emphasize low-glycemic foods and stable blood sugar, you have a positive environment in which GH can exert its effects.
The actions of the muscle-building hormone testosterone are chiefly influenced by the percentages of foods in the diet. Therefore, the percentages of protein, carbohydrates and fat can have dramatic effects on changes in body composition. For instance, if you want to add muscle rapidly, a low protein-to-carbohydrate ratio and a moderately high fat intake are necessary for maximal testosterone output.10,11 That’s not to suggest that you should reduce protein intake but, rather, that the percentage of carbs in the diet should be somewhat greater than the protein. 10 Furthermore, the source of food also influences testosterone concentration; for example, a vegetarian diet produces much lower testosterone levels than a meat-rich diet.
A diet high in red meat, however, also contains an abundance of saturated fats. Though the reasons for avoiding saturated fats are well established, such as their contribution to heart disease, other forms of fat can be quite beneficial for normal metabolism and hormone production. For example, the fat in fish is valuable. In addition, olive, sunflower and canola oils are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, a form of fat that’s a powerful stimulant of testosterone.
The Importance of Nutrient Timing
The number and content of daily meals is an extremely important but overlooked facet of proper nutrition. The timing and quality of foods you eat, especially pre- and postworkout, often means the difference between a successful diet and another failed attempt at physique enhancement. Skipping breakfast, avoiding postworkout meals and consuming highglycemic carbohydrates before workouts can easily transform a sound meal plan into a disaster. In addition, even the most sensible diets ignore the crucial nature of nutrient timing.
Elevating the metabolic rate is one of the most efficient ways to burn fat. The process of digestion of meals requires calories by itself, so the more often your body must break down food, the more efficient it becomes. Therefore, you should eat small meals throughout the day to maximize your metabolic response—and breakfast is the most important meal of the day, although the postworkout meal may be equally important. Studies have shown that diets that include a large breakfast result in significantly greater fat loss than diets that avoid it. Since the metabolic rate is fastest in the morning and slows throughout the day, it’s more likely that the calories you eat at breakfast will be used by the body and not stored as fat. Skipping breakfast, on the other hand, may result in vital losses of muscle and a subsequent decrease in metabolism.
The postworkout meal is equally essential for much the same reason. Your body exhibits an elevated metabolic rate after you exercise, much as it does when you awaken. Not eating food after you exercise, therefore, results in muscle tissue breakdown and, of course, a corresponding tumble of the metabolic rate. Research has proven that the rate of protein synthesis doubles following exercise and remains elevated for more than 24 hours.13,14 In other words, the body is primed for the acceptance of protein for muscle maintenance and growth. Equally important is the need for consuming plenty of carbohydrates. After you work out, your body is somewhat depleted of its glycogen stores. Remarkably, studies have shown that high-glycemic carbohydrates are the preferred source for replenishing the body’s energy stores after training. 15 Not only does that result in greater storage for recovery and subsequent workouts, but it also significantly decreases muscle breakdown.
Postworkout meals should contain about twice the normal amount of carbohydrates and protein, and you should eat them immediately following exercise. For example, if you were eating five meals per day and 3,000 calories, your postworkout meal would be approximately 1,000 calories, while the other four meals would average 500. Postworkout meals should also contain a larger percentage of protein than preworkout meals to keep up with the body’s elevated protein synthesis rate.
People make a lot of mistakes with the preworkout meal. How many fitness enthusiasts eat a bagel before exercise? Due to their alleged energy benefits, bagels are a popular preworkout food, but if you look at their glycemic index, it’s a whopping 103. The detrimental effects of eating such high-glycemic carbs before training are monumental. The corresponding insulin response will not only decrease energy stores for exercise, but it will also prevent fat breakdown. Fortunately, lowglycemic foods have much the opposite effect. They improve exercise performance without significantly compromising energy stores after a workout.9,17 That, in turn, leads to enhanced recovery and accelerated progress.
Consistency
A suggested meal plan [such as the one at the back of this book] isn’t perfect. You’ll need to tinker in order to determine the ideal diet for you. Building a physique takes time, dedication and consistency, and losing or gaining weight should be a gradual process to ensure the right kind of changes. Don’t rush it, stay focused and consistent, and you’ll move ever closer to physical excellence.
Editor’s note: Jeffery Stout, Ph.D., received his doctorate in exercise physiology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He specializes in neuromuscular fatigue, body composition and ergogenic aids and has published more than 70 manuscripts, abstracts and national presenta – tions in nationally and internationally recognized journals. He’s cur – rently an assistant professor and the director of the Human Performance Research Laboratory at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. In addition, he serves on the editorial board for Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise and the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
References
1 Tarnopolsky, M.; MacDouball, M.; and Atkinson, S. (1988). Influence of protein intake and training status on nitrogen balance and lean mass. J Appl Physiol. 65:187-193.
2 Lemon, R. (1991). Protein and amino acid needs of the strength athlete. Int J Sport Nutr. 1:127-145.
3 Bagghle, T. Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. Champagne, Illinois:Human Kinetics. 1994.
4 Rinchardt, K. Effects of diet on muscle strength gains during resistive training. In: Muscle Development: Nutritional Alternatives to Anabolic Steroids. Columbus, Ohio: Ross Laboratories. 1987. 78-82.
5 Van Zant, R.; Conway, J.; and Seale, J. (1992). Effects of dietary carbohydrate restriction on high-intensity exercise performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 24:S71.
6 Alford, B.; Blankenship, A.; and Hagen, R. (1990). The effects of variations in carbohydrate, protein and fat content of the diet upon weight loss, blood values and nutrient intake of adult obese women. J Am Diet Assoc. 90(4):534-540.
7 Golay, A., et al. (1996). Similar weight loss with low- or high-carbohydrate diets. Am J Clin Nutr. 63(2):174-178.
8 Walberg-Rankin, J. (1995). A review of nutritional practices and needs of bodybuilders. J Strength and Cond Research. 9(2):116-124.
9 Kirwan, I., et al. (1996). A low-glycemic meal 45 minutes before exercise improves performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2815(8):8768.
10 Volek, J.; Kraemer, W.; Bush, J.; Incledon, T.; and Bocics, M. (1997). Testosterone and cortisol in relationship to dietary nutrients and resistance exercise. J Appl Physiol. 82(1):49-54.
11 Reed, M., et al. (1987). Dietary lipids an additional regulator of plasma levels of sex-hormone-binding globulin. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 64:1083-1085.
12 Raben, A., et al. (1997). Serum sex hormones and endurance performance after a lacto-ovo vegetarian and a mixed diet. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 24:1290-1297.
13 MacDougall, J., et al. (1995). The time course for elevated muscle protein synthesis following heavy resistance exercise. Can J Appl Physiol. 29(4):480-486.
14 Biolo, G., et al. (1995). Increased rates of muscle protein turnover and amino acid transport after resistance exercise in humans. Am J Physiol. 268(3):E514-520.
15 Burke, L.; Hargreaves, M.; and Collier, G. (1993). Muscle glycogen storage after prolonged exercise: effect of the glycemic index of carbohydrate feedings. J Appl Physiol. 74:1019-1023.
16 Roy, B., et al.(1996). The effect of oral glucose supplements on muscle protein synthesis following resistance training. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 28(5S):S769.
17 Thomas, D.; Brotherhood, J.; and Miller, J. (1994). Plasma glucose levels after prolonged strenuous exercise correlate inversely with glycemic response to food consumed before exercise. Int J Sport Nutr. 4(4):361- 373.
Additional References
Anderson, K., et al. (1987). Diet-hormone interactions; protein/carbohydrate ratio alters reciprocally the plasma levels of testosterone and cortisol and their respective binding globulins in man. Life Sce. 40:1761-1768. Foster-Powell, K., and Miller, J. (1995). International tables of glycemic index. Am J Clin Nutr. 62(1):8715- 8905.

15-Minute Muscle Builder

18 Oct 2011 Sports and Fitness

THE 15-MINUTE MUSCLE-BUILDER
OUR FAVORITE piece of fitness equipment: the classic barbell.
You can use it not only for jousting, but also to do this total-body exercise from Mark Philippi, C.S.C.S., the strength coach at UNLV. Do six repetitions of each move without changing weights and without rest. After you’re finished, rest 1 minute and repeat (give yourself 2 minutes if you’re a beginner). The benefit: Hard work=hard muscle. Start with a 45-pound barbell. Too hard? Try some dumbbells.
* Results may vary from person to person.  Results not guaranteed.
1. Squat and press
MUSCLES WORKED: entire body Place the bar behind your head and rest it behind your shoulders, holding it so that your elbows are pointing down [A], Slowly sit back as you lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor [B]. Pause, then press your heels into the floor, push yourself back up to the starting position, and use your upward momentum to drive the bar over your head to do a shoulder press [C]. Lower the bar to the starting position and repeat.
* Results may vary from person to person.  Results not guaranteed.
2. Good morning
MUSCLES WORKED: lower back, hamstrings From the same starting position as for the squat and press [A], bend forward at the waist by moving your hips backward while your back remains slightly arched and your knees slightly bent. Lower your chest; your back should go no farther than parallel to the floor [B]. Return to the starting position.
3. Bent-over row
* Results may vary from person to person.  Results not guaranteed.
MUSCLES WORKED: upper back Hold the bar with an overhand grip, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees, then bend at your waist, holding the bar at arm’s length. Keep your back flat throughout the movement [A]. Bend your elbows to pull the bar to your chest [B]. Pause, then return to the starting position.
4. Upright row
* Results may vary from person to person.  Results not guaranteed.
MUSCLES WORKED: shoulders Grab the bar with an overhand grip with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Rest the bar at arm’s length on the front of your thighs [A]. Keep the bar close to your body and pull the weight up to your lower chest, keeping your elbows above the bar [B]. Pause, then return to the starting position. 5. Biceps curl MUSCLES WORKED: duh, biceps Hold the bar with an underhand grip, your hands shoulder-width apart [A]. Keep your elbows close to your sides and curl the weight toward your chest [B]. Pause at the top of the movement, then return to the starting position.
* Results may vary from person to person.  Results not guaranteed.

Training for Weight Control

18 Oct 2011 Sports and Fitness

HEAVY DUTY TRAINING:
EFFECTIVE FOR WEIGHT CONTROL?
by Shawn Franckowiak, B.S. & Kevin R. Fontaine, Ph.D.
Strength training has been long been recommended to normal and underweight individuals as a means of increasing muscular mass, enhancing fitness, and vitality. Indeed, organizations such as the American College of Sports Medicine (1995) have advocated strength training consisting of single sets of 8 to 12 repetitions on 8 to 10 exercises per workout for healthy persons. However, it is not as clear whether strength training should be recommended for overweight persons whose goal is weight (more specifically fat) loss rather than weight gain. In this article we will describe the potential role strength training can play in weight loss efforts, and outline some broad recommendations to enhance its effectiveness.
In order to lose body fat, you must create an energy deficit (i.e., expend more calories than your body needs to function). Unfortunately, when you create such a caloric deficit you do not lose just body fat. That is, the body takes energy from body tissue indiscriminately. In fact, any diet produces not only fat loss, but muscle loss as well. A recent analysis by Ballor and Poehlman (1994) indicated that an average of 28% of the weight lost among dieters who do not exercise is actually fat-free mass compared to 13% among dieters who also exercised (primarily aerobic exercise). Indeed, if the caloric deficit is severe enough (e.g., very low calorie “fasting” diets) even organ tissue is lost. Moreover, since dieting is an unnatural act, the body begins to adapt by reducing resting metabolic rate (RMR) (i.e., you have to create progressively greater caloric deficits to continue to lose body fat at a given rate). Given this, the primary goal for strength training for weight reduction programs is to preserve fat-free mass while losing body fat. The preservation of fat-free mass also serves to keep the metabolic rate as high as possible so that fat loss can be promoted even with a relatively modest caloric deficit. In addition, strength training may be a useful strategy for maintaining the fat loss (i.e., keeping the weight off) once the person has reached their goal. That is, building as little as one pound of muscle after dieting will allow the person to consume an additional 50-100 calories per day. Remember, muscle is metabolically active (i.e., it needs a modest amount of calories to survive) while fat is not.
When fitness professionals develop exercise programs for overweight persons, they sometimes do not advocate strength training. One major reason for this is that many overweight persons are reluctant to engage in strenuous anaerobic activity. It is far easier to convince the overweight person to engage in lower intensity aerobic activity (“to burn fat”) than to workout with weights in a high intensity fashion. Indeed, it is quite common for us to be told by an overweight person seeking treatment “I want to lose weight, not gain it.” Such individuals need to be rationally convinced that, in the long run, strength training will be of substantial benefit to them. It will not only help them lose fat more efficiently during dieting, but it will also help them to maintain the fat loss once they return to a less restricted diet.
Let us look how we can have overweight adults strength train by using Mike Mentzer’s Heavy Duty Training Axioms. Note that these will need to be modified for optimum safety and effectiveness given this special population:
Intensity
Intensity is the name of the game in strength training. You have to work hard enough to set the growth machinery into motion. However, with the overweight individual you cannot simply launch right into training to positive failure. It is possible, even likely, that the person has never weight trained in their life. As such, you need to slowly and gradually increase the intensity of the workouts (perhaps over several weeks) until the person is physically and mentally capable of working an exercise to failure. Remember, training to positive failure is a skill that takes time to learn. You must also consider that, with a caloric deficit, the person is not likely to be able to train at the same level of intensity as someone who is not dieting. So you want the person to train as hard as they can, but within the context of an deficient caloric status. We would not suggest intensity generating techniques (e.g., static contractions, negatives etc.) while the person is dieting. These techniques make such a profound inroad on recovery that they could be detrimental to someone who is dieting. It should go without saying but any overweight individual (irrespective of whether or not they have existing health problems) should consult a physician before engaging in this, or any other, type of training.
Brief
The workout for an overweight individual should only be as long as the person is interested in working out. Most often, individuals that are overweight mention that time constraints make it difficult to participate in a regular strength training routine or they lose interest with long workouts. Making workouts short and intense should provide necessary stimulation of muscles without producing disinterest or boredom. We suggest single work sets of 3 to 5 multi-joint exercises which focus on the larger muscle groups (legs, hips, back). Weights can usually be lifted using approximately 60 to 80% of their initial 1RM and slowly progressing from there. Workouts should be conducted at a rather brisk pace and should be kept to less than 30 minutes.
Infrequent
Overweight persons are usually making major life changes to fit in strength training. Remember that time is the most cited excuse for not exercising. Indeed, one reason many people are anti-strength training is the belief (propagated in the popular muscle media) that you must train very frequently (up to 6 days a week) in order to make progress. The brevity and relative infrequency of Heavy Duty (HD) training may be very appealing to the overweight trainee. We would suggest training two to three times a week initially in order to develop the skill to adequately perform the movements. As the intensity increases, the frequency of training should be reduced even further to ensure proper rest and recovery.
Safety
As mentioned before, these individuals may have major health risks that will be of concern to the fitness trainer. HD training focuses on safety above all else. Make sure these individuals acquire the skill to perform each exercise properly before having them train alone. Stressing slow controlled movements and good form will lessen the chance of injury. Obviously, the use of machines would be preferred because they require less skill to execute the movement. Apart from general instruction regarding proper exercise technique, a great deal of emphasis should be placed upon educating the overweight person with respect to muscular soreness, correct breathing, and any other factor which may be relevant to their training. It has been our experience that many overweight persons are particularly sensitive to, and sometimes fearful of, the sensations that go along with intense exercise (e.g., heavy breathing, elevated heart rate etc.). Any information that can alleviate fear in this regard would be of great benefit to the overweight trainee.
Conclusion
The benefits of HD Training are not restricted to those who simply want to increase their strength and muscular body weight. In conjunction with reduced caloric intake, overweight persons can use the HD approach to attempt to maintain their existing muscle mass. By preserving this mass, their dieting effort will likely be more time-limited and effective. It needs to be made clear to the overweight person that the goal is fat loss, not weight loss per se. Indeed, the ability to maintain their fat loss will be enhanced greatly by using HD principles to increase their muscular bulk once the period of caloric restriction has ended. In sum, brief, intense and infrequent strength training can be a valuable component of a comprehensive fat loss regimen.
References
American College of Sports Medicine

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