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The Maximal Results Workout Simplified

by Dr. Nicolas Campos

Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills Chiropractor Dr. Nick Campos

Ah…to workout or not to workout – this is definitely not the question here, since most of us already know how essential regular exercise is to good health. I don’t need to spend any time, then, going over all the benefits exercise has to offer. What I would like to do, instead, is spend some time giving you the latest and most cutting edge tips on maximizing your workouts for optimal results.

The first thing you must do when putting together a fitness program is to determine what your current exercise habits are. For instance, if you already work out occasionally but wish to add more consistency, then you might consider yourself an irregular exerciser. If instead, you have not exercised in a while or if you have never exercised at all, then you should consider yourself a beginner. Maybe this sounds obvious but, by putting yourself into the proper category, it will make a difference in how you should approach your workouts. Starting off on the wrong foot may literally trip you up, so it is important to do it right from the beginning.

The next thing you want to do is determine your goals. Do you want to get stronger, have more endurance or perhaps become more flexible? Do you want to lose weight or maybe just get more toned? Cool! Whatever you wish, establish it from the start so that you have a point of reference from which you can chart your progress later.

When you know your goals and have honestly evaluated your current exercise level you can get to the meat and potatoes of the program – actually working out. I recognize that getting started on any type of new regimen might be difficult at first, but it really only takes an initial push. Once you have built up enough momentum, it should become much easier. An ancient Chinese proverb illustrates this point beautifully; it says, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. This isn’t any less true than when embarking on an exercise program.

So, now that you have made it to the gym, what next? Your first consideration should be to follow a well-balanced program, one that has a nice mix of cardiovascular, resistance (weights) and flexibility (stretching) exercises. Don’t try to do everything on the same day. My recommendation is that you split-up your cardio from your lifting routine. The reason is that each one of those exercises takes a considerable amount of energy when done right. Doing both on the same day will tire you out, pretty much diminishing your output for the exercise you choose to do last and thereby reducing its benefit. Stretching, on the other hand, should be done every time you go to the gym. In fact, I recommend doing a little every day.

One question that I am often asked is, “How many days a week should I be working out?” This is a tricky question considering everybody is different, but I think that 3-4 days a week should be sufficient. Yes, some people have to do a little something every day. Maybe they need to decompress from the stresses of daily life or maybe it’s just the way they like to do it. Whatever the reasons, it is definitely not necessary, and for some it might even be dangerous.

The fact is that one can overdo it. There is a real disorder called overtraining syndrome and it is a severe form of burnout. Some of the symptoms include:
• Increased fatigue
• Feeling drained
• Persistent soreness
• Grumpiness or negative attitude
• Loss of appetite
• Insomnia
• Headaches
• Persistent illness, colds, sore throats
• Fidgeting or persistent twitching
• Increased body fat

This syndrome is no joke and if you are feeling any of these symptoms persistently, you might want to rethink your current exercise routine.

But let’s get back to you and me, because we don’t have that problem, right? Yes, yes… I know, quite the opposite. Let’s say a four day workout week is what you decide, then you might break it down something like this:

• Two days weights, two days cardio or
• Two days weights, one day cardio, one day yoga or
• Two days weights, one day cardio, one day tennis
(or boxing or pole dancing or whatever)

Whichever way you mix it up will be great – just make sure to balance the three activities we have mentioned earlier, and don’t forget to stretch every time you work out.

Let me point out that you will want to do a quick warm-up before you lift, as it is a must to get the blood flowing throughout your entire body. I recommend doing five to ten minutes of cardio either on the bike, the treadmill or the elliptical trainer (this is an especially good piece of equipment for anybody who experiences foot, ankle or knee pain or hip/low back pain). You should start slowly but increase the speed after one or two minutes. For the last three to eight minutes you should pretty much go full throttle; build up a sweat. Once you are warm you can go ahead and start lifting.

There are several ways you can approach your lifting routine. A full body workout is the most comprehensive, but you can certainly split up body parts. If you do, I strongly recommend not ignoring your legs. Not only do skinny legs look funny in relation to a well developed upper body, but exercising them will burn more fat than any other exercise you do, period. That’s right – PUMPING LEG IRON BURNS FAT! It does so as a result of the high metabolic need of the leg muscles to repair themselves following a workout session. In fact, lifting weights with any body part will burn fat efficiently; it’s just that the legs are the biggest muscles in the body, so they will burn the most.

I am a huge advocate of core training: working the abs and butt every session. The abdominal muscles are the core of your body and stabilize the low back and pelvic regions during everyday movements like walking and lifting, as well as for just about every other activity you can think of. If you neglect to strengthen your abdominal and/or gluteal muscles, you increase your chances of suffering from injury exponentially. Work them out every session; it’s a must. If you do not know the proper way to work these babies, ask me, I’ll be happy to demonstrate.

As far as stretching is concerned, concentrate on the body parts you exercise that day, particularly since they will get tight from the workout. I stretch between sets, so if I bench press, I’ll stretch my pecs (chest muscles) before I do the next exercise. Stretches should be held for about thirty seconds. This gives the muscle time to add more fibers to its ends, lengthening itself in the process. How far you stretch is not as important as the length of time you hold the stretch – at least in the beginning. As you get used to doing it and subsequently become more flexible, you can concentrate on stretching farther, but you still want to hold it for at least thirty seconds so that your muscles have time to elongate.

Another tip concerning weight lifting: mix it up from time to time. The human body is very efficient at adapting to stress and will quickly get used to the same routine. You can offset this by changing exercises, changing from machines to free weights or by increasing the amount of repetitions or sets you are currently doing. Either way, mix it up every 1-2 months; it is important to keep challenging yourself at all times.

Challenging yourself is also important when doing cardio. Cardiovascular exercise is for just that – your cardiovascular and pulmonary systems; your heart, your blood vessels, your lungs. It is essential to do some form of this exercise regularly. But, just as you will adapt to the stresses of lifting weights, you will also adapt to a cardio routine done the same week after week. It is therefore important to mix up your cardio workouts every so often. If you mainly run on the treadmill, try the elliptical trainer or the bike or the very vicious stair climber, you know, the one with the revolving staircase. Mixing it up like this will keep you consistently challenged while improving your strength and endurance in the process.

Now, there is some controversy as to the best way to do cardiovascular exercises. One prevalent theory is to bring your heart rate up to a certain percentage of your maximum which will ensure optimal fat burning. In my opinion, this is unnecessary. The best way to do it is to warm up for 1-2 minutes then go balls to the walls for the remaining time, slowing down every couple of minutes to bring your heart rate back down. You can then speed it up again after a couple of minutes, raising your heart rate and challenging yourself once more. Just monitor your breathing and if you feel winded, slow it down; you can always bring it back up in a minute. This technique will give you the best training and consequently the best results. I believe thirty minutes is good enough. Trust me; thirty minutes of cardio done all out is just as good, if not better, than doing an hour moderately paced.

Obviously, everybody is different, so your balls to the walls level may not be the same as mine. It may be a one minute sprint or it may be a fast walking pace. Either way, there is no one speed that is better than another – it is just what gets you breathing and sweating harder that really matters. So, be safe – push yourself, but don’t overdo it.

As far as how long one should work out in total: my personal philosophy is to not be in the gym for longer than one hour – any more is overkill. When your workouts begin to stretch into one and a half hours, two or even more, it can eventually become an obstacle, preventing you from working out at all if you have to find that kind of time to do it. You want to give your body a kick, not a whooping! One hour should give you time to exercise, stretch and have a life too – if that is at all important to you.

Exercising regularly requires you to pay special attention to a few dietary principles. First, make sure you drink lots of water before, during and after your workouts. By exercising, you sweat more and you need to replenish the water you lose. Drinking two liters per day is a minimum requirement, in my opinion. Less than that and you leave yourself susceptible to sprains, strains and other injuries that can be otherwise prevented.

You should also have some sort of carbohydrate replenishment immediately following your workout. This can be in the form of a sports bar or a sports replacement drink. Gatorade is my personal favorite and I drink it only during and after a workout; never on a day that I am not physically active. This is because it is high in glucose which is basically sugar. Although you need to replenish glucose stores that become depleted during exercise, a sport replacement drink consumed when you are not exercising will give you more calories than you want or need, and will ultimately be deposited as fat. Sports replacement drinks also replenish lost electrolytes which become secreted in the sweat and are very important to many metabolic functions.

Eat some protein within one hour of lifting weights. A good sports bar should do fine immediately following your workout, but it is a good idea to eat some real food between 1-2 hours post-session to give your body the protein it needs to build muscle. Some good foods to try are meats, eggs, fish, nuts or peanut butter. Either way, get something in you; don’t ignore this important habit, even if you are trying to lose weight. If you don’t take in some form of protein, your body will pull it from the only source it has – your own muscle tissue. Not only will this prevent muscle growth, it will also lead to overtraining syndrome, which, as we’ve said before, is something you don’t want to mess around with.

Lastly, since exercising can increase the formation of free radicals in your body, and these are known to be the cause of many cancers, you will want to add a good anti-oxidant supplement like alpha-lipoic acid to your diet. By doing so, you will beat down free radicals right in their tracks. This and a good multi-vitamin are a must if you exercise regularly.

Also, working out puts stress and strain on your body, so keeping up with your regular chiropractic checkups is a must. Exercise and chiropractic go hand in hand, and each one is definitely enhanced by the other. You will find that you can do so much more at the gym when you are properly aligned and in-balance that you will want to take full advantage of this option.

For the most part, the steps I have outlined are the most basic and essential to an effective workout routine. If you follow them closely you should notice results in a relatively short period of time. The most important thing, though, is to consider your exercise routine as a part of your lifestyle. When you see it in this way, you will be less likely to guilt trip yourself if you happen to miss a session here or there. You will have no need to do that if you know you will be back to the gym sooner or later. You will also start to notice all the little things that come along with practicing this habit like how much better you feel, how much better you function, and of course, what we all care about no matter how secretly – how much better you look. I promise that if you follow the routine as I have outlined here for a period of no less than one year, results will be yours. Without a doubt, when that time passes you will look in the mirror and see a completely different person staring back at you. The end product will be certainly worth the work – you’ve got my guarantee.

- January 28, 2006

The Six Keys to Optimal Health by Dr. Nicolas Campos
Summer 2006
For More Advice on Health and Optimal Living Read
“The Six Keys to Optimal Health” by Dr. Nicolas Campos

Live Life to the Fullest

Dr. Nick Campos, D.C.
West Hollywood Chiropractor

Disclaimer: this article is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for a professional medical diagnosis, opinion or suggested course of treatment. Please see your health care professional for a professional medical opinion, and refer to our Disclaimer and Terms of Use regarding your use of this website.



Dr. Nick Campos, Chiropractic Doctor Address:
1042 N. Fairfax Ave. West Hollywood CA, 90046
Telephone: 323-359-1032 :: Office Hours / Send Email Online

Disclaimer: this website is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for a professional
medical diagnosis, opinion or suggested course of treatment. Please see your health care professional for a
professional medical opinion, and refer to our Disclaimer and Terms of Use regarding your use of this website.

© 2004-11 Dr. Nick Campos. All Rights Reserved.