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Training tips

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Some fitness training tips.

Stair climbing

Five 2-minute sessions of stair climbing can give you a heart-pumping workout equivalent to 36 minutes of walking, according to a new study. When researchers tested 15 healthy but inactive young women (average age 18) for 8 weeks, those who worked up to climbing 199 steps in about 2 minutes, five times a day, posted a whopping 17% increase in cardio fitness levels compared with women who did nothing. The climbers also lowered their bad LDL cholesterol by 8%, an improvement that can cut heart disease risk by up to one-quarter.

In a follow-up study, 29 older men and women (average age 40) did even less stair climbing (145 steps in 2-minute bouts, three times a day) and boosted their cardio fitness by 8%.

Weight training benefits

A study by the University of Maryland found that resting metabolic rate increased by about 7% after six months of intense weight training. Other studies have indicated the increase may be as much as 15%. Every pound of lean muscle burns an additional 30 to 50 calories a day. Intense weight training may add 3 to 6 pounds of muscle in six months.

Men build muscle more easily than women. Since muscle is denser than fat, pound for pound it takes up less space. A pound of muscle is 30% smaller than a pound of fat. Weight training is especially important for older people since they lose muscle mass as they age. Proper weight training should be for 45 minutes for three non-consecutive days with 20 minutes of aerobics training on alternate days.

Another new trend in weight lifting is the SuperSlow workout. This workout uses a few select exercises with low repetitions with a super slow motion of movement (10 seconds on the concentric [raising] movement and 10 seconds on the eccentric [lowering] movement).

Workouts are only 15-30 minutes in length and are only done once or twice a week. Studies differ on whether this method of lifting is better or worse than conventional lifting, but some people get great results and only need to work out once every 7 to 10 days. See www.superslow.com for more information.

Overcome strength plateau

If you are exercising regularly, at some point you will reach a plateau, a point at which your body stops making gains. Most exercisers make the mistake of adding more sets or more weight to their routines, both of which may lead to injury. Break-down training is a better choice.

In break-down training, you push your muscles to a higher level of exhaustion by doing one set of reps with your usual weight, reduce the weight, and add 2-3 more reps. This provides deeper stimulus to muscle fibers so you may train more intensely and use a greater percentage of muscle strength.

In a study by the American College of Medicine, 60 adults aged 25 to 84 trained for four weeks, lifting a weight with which they could do one set of 8-12 reps per exercise. Half the group continued this routine for another four weeks. The other half, after doing the initial set, would lower the weight by 10% and complete 2-4 more reps. Adults who added these reps gained 39 percent more strength; the seniors gained 100 percent.

Isolation or compound weight training

Isolation exercises isolate a specific muscle or muscle group to shape and define the body, to create the look of muscle separation and to achieve an overall symmetry of the physique, such as the preacher curl for the biceps. Lifting machines help isolate specific muscles. Examples of isolation exercises are leg extensions, hamstring curls, dumbbell flies, cable crossovers, decline bench presses, side lateral raises, front raises, abductor/adductor exercises, shrugs, pushdowns, kickbacks, preacher curls, wrist curls, and seated calf raises.

Compound exercises employ several muscles and muscle groups. They require the work of several muscles at once and stimulate the most responsive muscle growth. The best results are achieved using free weights or dumbbells since they encourage effort from many different supporting muscles. Examples of compound exercises are deadlifts, squats, bench presses, lat pulldowns, pull-ups, dips, lunges, front squats, hack squats, upright rows, standing dumbbell curls, hammer curls, standing calf raises, and step-ups.

By combining both types of exercises, your body will develop overall strength as well as visible results.

Strength training injuries

One of the most devastating sports injuries is the tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament or ACL. One of the four major ligament complexes providing stability to the knee joint, the anterior cruciate ligament is frequently injured during twisting motions of the knee. Once it is torn, it does not heal itself. It usually requires surgery and months of rehabilitation.

Women seem to be prone to this injury more than men. The reason for this is not known. However, theories have focused on differences between men and women in the strength of the hamstring muscles, variations in muscle function due to the menstrual cycle, and a smaller notch size in the female femur. While women cannot do anything about things like femur size, they can strengthen their hamstrings. Hamstrings are the three muscles in the back of the thigh: the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus. The hamstrings play a vital role in walking, running, and jumping.

To help decrease ACL injuries among men and women:
  • Use weight training to improve hamstring strength.
  • Use stretching to improve hamstring flexibility.
  • Use plyometric jumping exercises to improve hamstrings firing time (the speed that a muscle contracts).

Add pep to workout

In a study at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia, 40 athletes ran faster and did more pushups when exposed to the scent of peppermint than with other, or no, scents. So dabbing some peppermint oil on your collar may boost your mood and help you perform better.

One-step sparring

When practicing one-step sparring, ensure you are doing all techniques correctly. According to the primacy of learning theory, the first way you learn to do something is the way you will do it when under stress. So, do not practice the wrong way at home and hope to perform one-steps correctly during class or at a test. Vary your practice order: perform the one-steps in order, reverse order, and randomly.

While performing one-steps, concentrate on the purpose of each technique, visualize your attacker, and perform the technique with power and focus against the imaginary opponent. Always chamber a technique before execution. This makes the one-steps easier to remember, gives the technique more power, and makes the technique more artistically pleasing. When first learning one-steps, keep a positive attitude, everyone makes mistakes while learning.

Target training

To perfect your target training, remember to:
  • Concentrate and focus on the center of the target.
  • When spinning, acquire the target with your eyes (get your head around first) and then complete your technique. 
  • Follow through with your technique, continuing the hand or foot past the target.
  • Practice with a partner on your own time, not just in class.  

Interval training

This is a high-intensity workout consisting of 10 rounds of 2-3 minutes with 1-minute rest between each round using basic to intermediate sparring techniques. For example, in round 1, perform front-leg and rear-leg front kicks. In round 2, perform front-leg and rear-leg roundhouse kicks. In round 3, perform inside and outside crescent kicks.

At some round, switch to hand techniques, such as jabs, punches, back fists, etc. Continue the workout for the remaining rounds choosing any techniques you like, such jump kicks, spin kicks, combinations, etc. Be creative, have fun, and do not forget to warm-up before and cool-down after the workout.

Workout plan

A professionally designed workout plan has four phases, general warm-up, specific warm-up, main workout, and cool-down. A general warm-up should include basic warm-up exercises, such as running in place or rope jumping. In the specific warm-up phase, lightly perform techniques that you will be doing in the main workout. Start doing these techniques slowly and get faster and higher until your body is warmed up. Then you are ready for the main workout where you will be full power and speed techniques.

After you are finished with the main workout, you are ready for the final phase, the cool-down. Cooling down consisting of walking around (if you are winded) and then performing some relaxed stretching and joint rotations.

Partner stretch

Partner stretching is another way to perform your stretching warm-ups. For a front rising kick stretch, have your partner stand with his or her back to the wall. Pick up one of his or her legs (knee kept straight) and slowly raise it to a point where it feels uncomfortable. Your partner will let you know when to stop lifting. Hold this stretch for ten seconds and repeat with the other leg. For a side rising kick stretch, have the partner stand sideways to the wall. Raise his or her leg, hold it for ten seconds, and repeat with the other leg.

Mirror practice

Mirror, mirror on the wall, how are my techniques compared to all?
Mirrors do not lie and they point out your faults in a non-critical way, so they are a great practice tool. Mirrors can show the areas in which you need more work.

Mirrors may help you improve your:
  • Forms. Watch yourself as you slowly do your forms. Notice the position of your stances. Are they sharp and correct, or relaxed and sloppy? Is your body erect? Do your kicks look sharp? Learn to watch the technical aspects of your form.
  • Kicking techniques. Accuracy in your kicks can be improved by selecting targets on your mirror image at which to focus your kicks. Accuracy of spinning kicks can also be improved by making sure you acquire the target in the mirror before executing the kick. 

Meditation

Meditation can lead to a more positive mental outlook. For best results, meditated at least 5-10 minutes daily to clear the mind and relax. Find a quiet place where you can comfortably sit cross-legged on the floor. Practice proper posture and focus on clearing your mind. Breathe deeply and try to relax every inch of your body.

Breathing

Breathing is the greatest nourishment available to you. Breath is a powerful interface between the physical and spiritual worlds. The pattern of your breath reflects your emotional and physiological states. Conscious breathing may change the entire physiological rhythm of your body, restoring tired muscles, feeding the cells, and even gently massaging your vital organs.

The three lobes of the lungs are fed by different breathing patterns or levels. Many people only breathe from the top lobe, which feeds the bronchi by a rapid, shallow breath, rather than the middle and lower lobes that brings the breath down to the abdomen.

Fire breath

A powerful breathing technique is an exercise called the fire breath, a form of Pranayama. Prana is the term for the life force energy attached to the oxygen in the air we breathe. Do this exercise every morning to push out the old breath so that you can breathe fresh energy into your body. This is the perfect way to begin a meditation because it helps the mind let go of the body and allows the spiritual energy to flow.

Sit with your spine straight so that the energies in your body can move up and down without hindrance. Close your fists and place your thumb and forefinger together - this creates an energetic arc so that your energy is circled throughout your body. Begin to "snort" or exhale forcibly and slowly out of your nose, pulling the diaphragm upward with each snort. Imagine you are pretending to be a toy train and increase the snorts to make the train sounds. Continue with very fast snorts for a few successions and then slowly back down to a stop.

When you finish the fire breath, breathe in deeply, and as you exhale, squeeze your anus up tightly. This tightens up the pubococcygeus muscle that runs through the perineum area, which closes an important acupuncture point so that energy does not drain out from below. Take several normal breaths and begin again. Begin to breathe deep breaths down to your belly. Focus on drawing the life force of prana into your body and concentrating on this act of nourishing yourself.

No brain, no gain

The purpose of training should be to enhance the physical and mental self:
  • Physical Development
  • Muscular strength.
  • Explosive power.
  • Muscular endurance.
  • Respiratory endurance.
  • Flexibility.
  • Speed.
  • Mental Development
  • Oneness with nature.
  • Reverence for nature.
  • Complete awareness of the environment.
  • Experience.
  • Conscience.
  • Concentration.
  • Culture.
  • Courtesy.
  • Modesty.
  • Thankfulness.
  • Self-sacrifice.
  • Courage.
  • Chastity.
  • Strength inside and mildness outside.
  • Points of Emphasis in Training
  • Vocal exhalation, for thoracic strength, the kiai.
  • Focus of sight.
  • Continuous balance during movements.
  • Flexibility of the body.
  • Correct muscle tone for maximum power.
  • High and low-speed techniques.
  • Exactness of techniques.
  • Adjustment for proper distance.
  • Proper breathing for endurance.
  • Conditioning hands and feet.
  • Be sincere.
  • Use maximum effort.
  • Train regularly.
  • Do your best every session.
  • Train in the basic spirit of taekwondo.
  • Obey instructions without objection.
  • Do not be overly ambitious.
  • Pay attention to every aspect of your training.
  • Pay attention to the order of training.
  • Get step-by-step instruction in new forms and techniques.

Prescribed exercise

In a Spanish report in the Archives of Internal Medicine, half of the patients in a group of 400 were given general advice to exercise, while the other half got written prescriptions. Six months later, the group that had received the prescriptions were more physically active than those who did receive the prescriptions.

As reported in the British Medical Journal, a study in New Zealand, found that women who were given written prescriptions to exercise were more likely to exercise 150 minutes a week and maintain that for two years. A study of 6000 patients in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science showed similar results.

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