So, why are you fat?
Gyms are out of the question because they won’t let you smoke there.
But you know that for every pound of fat, your blood has to travel through an extra mile of veins and capillaries to get back to your heart – and it’s not a scenic byway those cells are driving.
Once, yours was a body for running and jumping.
Now it’s a body for sitting and spreading.
You used to be a deity in denim, a lord in Lycra.
Now you look like Spam in a trash bag.
You’ve degenerated from basketball to basket case.
Lots and lots of people are willing to help you regain your competitive edge, however – like Louanne Perfetti, a personal trainer who volunteered to help us stem the downward spiral to the seventh level of sloppiness.
We picked Perfetti because her last name means “perfect” in plural Italian. Plus, she’s about our age – we’re in our extremely late 20s and intend to stay there – but unlike us, she’s such a hardbody she could drive nails with her butt.
Louanne, ever the optimist, says it’s not to late to improve your conditioning for this ski season – or even this spring, so you don’t look like Moby Dick beached on a houseboat at Lake Powell.
Get going now
The first day or two of Perfetti’s perfect regimen will remind you, gently, you haven’t done this in this millennium. It doesn’t last long.
“Training year-round, instead of starting in October, for your winter sports would be ideal,” says Perfetti. “However, no matter how much you train, you can never get away from the first day kinks, but you can eliminate a great deal of the aches and pains and prevent unnecessary injuries from occurring.”
Perfetti says a well-rounded program would include:
– Strength training.
– Cardiovascular training.
– Core training.
– And exercises for balance, agility, speed and flexibility.
And when it comes to nutrition, we’ll just take it on faith that you understand a balanced diet does not consist of a cheeseburger in each hand.
Downhill skiing and snowboarding are a high-risk sports, and the stronger you are the better you’ll be.
“Weight-training is an important factor in reducing injury and developing muscle balance by strengthening all major muscle groups, with special emphasis on core strength,” says Perfetti. “A strong core connects the upper and lower body and is essential for stabilizing the spine. A weak core causes improper function of your extremities. Your movement patterns emanate from your core. Apparently, that’s why devices like stability balls, dyno discs, bongo boards and rocker boards are becoming more popular with professional skiers, snowboarders, hockey players and other athletes.
“These tools optimize your athletic performance by improving balance, agility and core strength,” says Perfetti. “They provide high levels of nervous system activation. If you play on an unstable environment, you must train on an unstable environment. The stability ball challenges your nervous system, giving it more reserve capacity for improved performance.”
Training on the stability ball forces you to stabilize in all three dimensions; this is important when in off-balance situations.
Posture makes perfect
When your mother told you to sit up straight, she was right, Perfetti says. The better your posture, the better your performance. Bad posture means more stress on your stabilizer muscles and joints, makes you more apt to suffer an injury, and your body has to work twice as hard.
“Skiing is primarily an anaerobic sport. The legs and thigh muscles involved in skiing perform high-intensity activity for only a short period of time,” says Perfetti. “Your cross training should mix quick, powerful bursts of activity with low-intensity types of exercise.”
“All exercises should be performed with excellent posture and perfect form,” adds Perfetti. “If you have knee, shoulder or back pain, consult your physician, or you may just need a professional to train you.”
Flexibility is important, too, in almost all physical activities, especially skiing and snowboarding. Increased flexibility in the joints enables you to be more powerful and flowing, Perfetti says, and the ability to flex and extend your limbs lets you spring load them for more power and loosen them for increased absorption over bumps and dips in the terrain.
About those “abs’
Do you do hundreds of crunches, so many that you look like you’re having a seizure?
“You’re wasting your time; you need help,” says Perfetti.
The overused floor crunch promotes bad posture, shortens abdonimal structure, draws your sternum down and head forward, she says. Your abdominal structure is 51 percent “fast-twitch” muscle fibers and should be trained with low reps and resistance. Your abdominal routine should have a balance between flexing and extending of your spine.
“The key to abdominal work is to learn how to activate your Transversus Abdominius,” says Perfetti. “Your “TVA’ is probably the most important stabilizer muscle in the body.”
The TVA, the major stabilizer of the lower back, has intimate communication with other stabilizing structures throughout the body, Perfetti says, and its activation has been shown to precede arm and leg movements.
“Learn how to activate your TVA and you will be performing 10 to 15 reps for your abdominals – and you will have a flatter, stronger belly,” says Perfetti, perfectly.
Some of Louanne Perfetti’s favorite lower-body exercises:
– High step ups: Alternating legs. Use dumbbells to make it harder. Step up into heel pull up with hamstring and butt.
– Cone jumps: Jump side to side over cone or box, landing softly on both feet. Stay in low squat position.
– Single-leg balance lunge: Stand on one leg, knee over ankle, the other leg on a bench behind you. Your lower body pushes through your front heel. Use a dyno-disc under your front foot to make it harder.
– Ball squat-and-hold: Press the ball into the curve of your back against a wall. With your hands behind your head, lower yourself toward the floor, push through the heels with your legs at 90 degrees in the lower position. Do not push your head forward; use good posture. When you reach 90 degrees, hold it for five to 10 seconds, then raise up. Immediately lower again. Repeat 10 times, then do 12 quick ball squats.
How “bout a quickie?
Perfetti recommends a series of four exercises:
– 20 squats with dumbbells held above shoulders, palms facing in.
– 20 alternating forward lunges.
– Fast, low step, 15 each leg.
– 20 jump squats
“You should be able to perform this in two minutes or less,” says Perfetti.
You don’t get off that easily, though. Take a one to two minute between sets, and do three sets of these exercises.
You can get a full body workout without going to the gym. You need a stability ball, dumbbells, a high step or your stairs and a willingness to sweat a little.
A variety of upper-body strength-training exercises can also be performed on the stability ball, such as: dumbbell chest press, rows pushups, shoulder presses, triceps dumbbell extension, biceps dumbbell curls.
For more information, call 926-9390.