Fun and Fit: Q and A with K and A

Archive for the ‘exercise’ Category

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit:Kymberly and Alexandra

Q: Why do cardio fitness teachers always say “keep your head above your heart” when bending down?

Babs, Santa Barbara, CA

A: Hi Babs. We cardio teachers say this because we want to know exactly whom we will be giving rescue breathing to when you pass out. If your lipstick doesn’t match ours, we will have to make a split-second decision about whether or not to rush over and commence the ol’ huff and puff to bring color back into your vibrant (yet probably somewhat clammy at this point) face. And why should we be in a position to provide rescue breathing? There you were, just exercising away, enjoying the heck out of “Mack the Knife” being played on the sound system. “Babs,” your personal wiring system says, “You are working hard. As a reward, your muscle cells shall now demand increased oxygen. Because your muscles are so bossy and demanding, we won’t argue. Instead, we will increase your heart rate and blood flow so your muscles will like us and continue to take us nice places”. Well, let’s say you drop your head below your heart. While your head is inverted, you don’t realize that you’ve just invested in real estate and gotten yourself a lovely pool. It’s red and is in your head. Along with that increased blood pressure.

K: Did anyone follow that? Then you must have diminished oxygen supply to your brain, because I got lost somewhere around “Hi Babs.” Or Alexandra got her heart rate up answering, then suddenly stopped and dropped…. while still typing. Twin translation provided here: Cardio exercise involves raising the heart rate. An uppity heart rate provides more oxygen to working muscles AND the brain. (We are hoping the brain is working during all that activity. Always makes exercise more interesting). Heart rate up, then head suddenly down puts gravity in charge. (See “Perky, Not Saggy” for more on overcoming the effects of gravity). Blood rush to head. Whoa, feeling dizzy. Lots of pressure from rapidly pumping blood and increased blood volume. Then you lift your head above your heart again and WHAM, gravity takes over once more leaving you lightheaded. Your heart pumped out the oxygen, but you just started a fight between gravity and your brain for the game of “who gets the oxygen?”  Need I say more?

A: Don’t talk to me about pressure. Do you know how many nights I’ve stayed up, afraid to drop my head and anger my muscles? The last time they got mad, they moved my joints all over the place and I ended up walking uphill. Both directions!

K: Ok, I do need to say more. First, Alexandra: pull your head up and out.  Second, since in all my years of teaching, I have never had to rescue someone from the dreaded “head below heart- pass out” syndrome, I think this cue is really an excuse to see who’s listening and who is clock watching. ALWAYS listen to your instructor, especially if she looks like one of us.

A:Well, I am obviously more special as I have had to deal with the “Thar she blows” syndrome. Sadly, twas I. Yup, I had given blood and thought it would be an excellent idea to do a high intensity class. My brain did not agree and decided to depart for an “out of body” experience. Do you know how hard it is to give yourself rescue breathing when you are not fully, er, present? Ka-Plonk! By the way, yesterday a colleague suggested I would live longer if I decreased my stress and pressure. I said I was all for that. I want to live longer so I have more time to be stressed and worried. What?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA


Dear Fun and Fit: Kymberly and AIexandra:

Q; I keep hearing that I should change up my routine to avoid muscle memory? How often should I change my workout, and to what extremes? Reps/weights? or completely different exercises?

Tina, Texas


K: Dear Tina: As you are doin’ the Tighten Up in Texas, keep in mind this pithy and wise quote I made up myself: “Keep the mind clear and the body confused.” Always know what, why and how you are performing your resistance exercises.  That’s keeping the mind clear. And change up those resistance training exercises every so often. That’s where the body confusion comes in. Be careful not to mix up the two and wonder what the heck you are doing and why, but gosh, you sure have done it for a long time. That’s akin to saying “gee the food was bad, but at least they had big portions!”

Anyway, we are really talking adaptation and progression here, not muscle memory. You want muscle memory, which allows you to achieve good form and coordination. And you want to constantly push yourself to progress. Once you adapt to a move,  it’s time to vary the exercise in one of many ways.

A: I want some muscle memory. I want to remember what, why and where my muscles are! I had them just a minute ago. I think they got lost behind my Buns of Cinna! Geez, at this point I have a Samwise and pithy quote that I made up, and it’s better than Kymberly’s. It is this “Frodo, Frodo, it’s me – Sam. You have Muscle Alzheimer’s.” I too want to adapt and progress, but I call it something different. I call it “letting my children make it through their teen years by reminding myself it will soon be over, and I can find harmony and joy in their company.” Adapt? Yup. Progress? They’re alive aren’t they? So some days I lift my car keys and purse 15 times as I contemplate running away for 3 years. Other days I lift my car just once, and contemplate hurling it, and myself, over a cliff. Light weights one day, heavy the next.

K: Ummm, so where were we? Basically, adaptation occurs between 1 and 12 weeks– for each new move. Unless you are Alexandra, then it’s a lifelong process. For you, Tinaroo, I would change up about 20-30 percent  of my workout every few weeks. Don’t completely throw out one routine for another all at once. Morph your routine with one, two, or three new approaches each week without getting caught up in exact formulas. If you feel stale with a move, throw out the old Cinnabuns. Couldn’t resist. As for what element to change, that is the fabulosity (made up that word too and proud of it!) of resistance training. You can select to change reps, resistance, modality ( a fancy term that I did not make up that generally means “type”) such as free weights or tubing  instead of a machine for any given exercise.  Change the exercise perhaps: chest press instead of push-ups. Add a balance or instability factor: stand on discs or a BOSU instead of the ground. Change the stabilizing muscles: sit on a ball for tricep extensions instead of standing. Change the pace of each exercise: instead of four counts up and four counts down on a lunge for instance, do two counts down and six counts up. So many ways to vary – the exercise itself, the equipment, the speed, the balance factor, the resistance factor, the range of motion, the order of your routine. Get happy and choose what appeals to you.

A: Forget your troubles, come on get happy, gonna chase all your weight away. Said Hallelujah, come on get happy, get ready for the push-ups day! What appeals to me has nothing to do with working out. It involves curly dark hair and manly t-shirt smell. Really, I just go to the gym and work out so I can sniff the hotties. Oh, and I’m paid.

K: And whoever said to change your routine to avoid muscle memory, needs to read our blog in a big way. You change your routine to avoid lack of progress. Force the body to adapt upwards. Just as I have had to adapt to having a lookalike who lifts car keys for a workout. As you can tell by the fine quality of my advice, I do all the heavy lifting for her.

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Kymberly and Alexandra-so young, so fit, so funny!

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Fun and Fit: Q and A with K and A

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