NEWS | Dec. 30, 2010

Train smarter

By Riley Phelps, head trainer Joint Base Charleston-Weapons Station

Starting and continuing a reasonable fitness program may be one of the best things you can do for your health and well-being. With your health care professional's approval to exercise, physical activity can reduce your risk of life-threatening ailments such as coronary heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer. A consistent exercise program can also improve your balance and coordination, help you lose weight and even improve your sleep habits and self-esteem. And the good news is you can do it in just four easy steps.

Nutrition plan

Nutrition is the most important factor in developing a healthy body. Food plans can be very efficient if they are reasonable and practical. Don't waste your time trying miracle fad diets. Anything that seems too good to be true probably is.

First, determine what type of results you want to achieve. Take time to research the important nutrients such as carbohydrates, fats and proteins required by your body to achieve specific results, consulting a medical professional if necessary. Food plans which are successful for some don't work as well for others. For example, those wishing to shed body fat and tone up would likely consume fewer total calories and grams of protein than athletes desiring high muscle mass. Remember, you are what you eat.

Water consumption

Our bodies consist largely of water. This makes daily adequate water consumption vital to our health and survival. Most of us should consume approximately six to eight cups of water per day under normal environmental conditions. Remember, feeling thirsty is an early indication of dehydration. As training demands and environmental conditions increase, so does the need for additional water ingestion. Water is also extremely important because it clears the body of toxins, helps metabolize fat, reduces fluid retention and helps supplements work more effectively.

Develop a workout program

Logging your workouts in a notebook or on the computer can prevent your initial motivation from slipping away and pays real dividends over time. Schedule a few sessions with a personal trainer or check the internet where you can find thousands of programs which contain variety and challenges for all skill levels and athletic endeavors.
It isn't necessary to work out every day. Working out three times a week with an exercise plan can accomplish more than showing up at the gym with no specific goal or plan. Prior to beginning any workout program, write down realistic, achievable goals. Take the notebook to every training and record FITT; Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type of exercise performed. Increase work demands slowly and consistently and put real effort into every workout. Include movement activities during the rest of your day as well. If your goal is weight loss, I recommend using the same scale only once a week and at the same time each week. Don't live or die by the number on the scale; give your body time to adapt to your new physically active lifestyle.


Rest is absolutely essential to the human body. This is especially true while building muscle and reducing fat. While it may feel like your muscles are growing during a workout, this is actually blood being pumped into the worked muscles. True muscle growth happens during rest and recovery. It takes approximately a week for muscles to fully recover. Don't overtrain your muscles. In addition, be sure to get at least eight hours of sleep per night.

Following these four steps will help achieve your fitness goals. If you have questions or are interested in working with a strength and conditioning professional, a free service at Sam's Gym on Joint Base Charleston-Weapons Station, call 764-4173.