Fitness 101 Health & Fitness News

Fitness 101, Issue 2: Your questions answered

A head photo of James Chicalo.

1. Why is stretching important? Do you have a stretching routine you recommend?

Flexibility is an important aspect of fitness that can enhance performance and improve quality of life. Flexibility can help reduce the risk of injury, especially in the lower extremities, and can also enhance an individual’s ability to carry out daily tasks and exercise. Stretching to increase one’s range of motion should be undertaken cautiously. It is important that, in the pursuit of increased range of motion one does not aggressively stretch to the point of causing muscle or tendon damage or diminish one’s ability to perform optimally.

Yes, I do a basic stretching routine that targets all of the major muscle groups. It is best to find a stretching routine you like and will stick to. Everyone is at their own personal level, so finding what works best for you is key.

2. What’s a plank? How do I do it correctly? How long should I do it for? Why should I do it? How often?

A plank is a position we place our bodies in to train and develop our core muscles. It is arguably one of the best core training exercises.

The plank is where we find ourselves in the extended or upper part of a push up. The plank refers to the direct board like positioning of our bodies from our shoulders down to our heels. In this position we hold our abdominal muscles tight, strengthening through our torso and hold this plank position for 30 seconds or longer.

After much reading and research I am of the belief that 30 seconds to 2 minutes is an ideal range to maintain perfect plank form. I recommend starting out planking for 20 seconds 2-3 times, each time you workout or as much as everyday. Soon you will be able to plank longer, as you develop a stronger core. Try planking for 1:00 minute, three times with small rest breaks in between.

As with most exercises, the plank can be modified (like the push up) by performing it on our knees and hands, or knees and on our forearms. It is best to have a certified trainer demonstrate the plank then ensure you are doing it properly to avoid injury.

3. How often should I weigh myself? Why?

This is a topic that is hotly debated. I believe in weighing yourself often if you have weight gain or loss in mind. That way you’ll be able to track your progress and increase or decrease caloric intake as needed. If you want to gain or lose weight you’ll want to keep a record.

However, If you weigh the same every day you step on the scale (within 5 pounds every time) and you don’t care about whether you gain or lose that 5 pounds, then weigh yourself whenever you want!

Do you have fitness questions? Submit them here.