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Cadet 2nd Class Pat Harrison, Cadet Squadron 4, participates in a Combat Conditioning Club Crossfit workout in September, 2011.(U.S. Air Force Photo/Mike Kaplan)
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Resolve to improve fitness in 2012

Posted 1/20/2012   Updated 1/20/2012 Email story   Print story

    


by Tech. Sgt. Vann Miller
Public Affairs


1/20/2012 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Athletics is fully engrained with the academic and military culture here: Cadets approach fitness with the same vigor as military customs, academics and responsible citizenship.

As the students and staff ring in 2012, many still embrace the common New Year's resolution of improving their workouts or managing their weight.

If your aspirations are to become an elite athlete, then 15 minutes of strength training is not enough, said Buck Blackwood, head strength and conditioning coach for the Athletic Department.

"A well-conceived quarter hour of lifting can be beneficial," he added. "Pick a structural weight-bearing exercise, such as those (requiring) multi-joint movements, typically from a standing position." Some examples include squats and shoulder presses.

Blackwood mentioned that single-joint, and seated or lying down, exercises don't affect energy expenditure, balance or overall strength to the same degree.

"If time is an issue, select structural weight-bearing exercises to maximize your effort," he said.

The proper workout is just part of the solution to body sculpting, weight control and overall fitness. According to the staff at the Health and Wellness Center here, people can take some basic steps to see long-term improvements.

One bit of advice the HAWC offers is keeping an exercise log. This log ensures exercise goals are met. The log should have exercise durations, levels, heart rates and exercise types or body area worked.

Proper motivation and diet are the other components to improving overall fitness. The steps to change one's diet may be as simple as including all the basic food groups, said Staff Sgt. Bianca Meehan, NCO in charge of the HAWC.

"A lot of people undereat while trying to lose weight, which can actually slow weight loss down," Meehan said. "To increase your chances for success, change one eating habit at a time."

Meehan recommends the following changes to improve your diet:

· Include portions from all food groups every day
· Get at least half of your grains from whole-grain foods
· Eat fresh fruits and vegetables for snacks instead of candy, chips or cookies
· Watch your meat portions and opt for lean cuts of meat
· Swap out soda for water or try low-calorie flavored water instead.

The final component in improving workout sessions is motivation. The conversation about staying motivated begins with staying safe. Nothing discourages working out like an injury. So to avoid potential problems, no matter what the intensity, there are some areas a person can improve. Quality of movement takes priority over quantity whenever performing exercises, Blackwood said.

"Proper technique and full range of motion is critical to prevent injury," he said. "As in any athletic activity, warming up is essential before a lifting session, and mobility exercises need to be implemented along with the strength training in order to maintain and improve an optimal functional range of motion throughout the exercise."

Start out slowly, said one HAWC official. Many beginners make the mistake of pushing their workouts, wanting to go too fast too soon. This causes muscle soreness, which can drag down motivation.

Other motivations some athletes tend to suggest are music, workout partners or both. Various websites allow people to best match exercise routines to their playlists. Search online for "match music to workouts" to find the right software for your system of choice.
To find a good calorie calculator and easy-to-follow meal plan, visit http://www.choosemyplate.gov.

For more exercise tips, contact the HAWC at 333-3733.



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