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More expert advice on pumping iron

Muscle your way into a better body

Diving headfirst into your fitness resolutions for the year, you might have told your friends you really just want to improve your overall health.

But let's be honest. Women want a tight rear and lean, muscular legs.

Men want a barrel chest and arms like a rolled roast.

Both men and women want six-pack abs.

We've put together a few ways to attack those areas – chest, arms, butt, legs and abdominal muscles. We enlisted the help of two authorities – personal trainer Stan Crowl, certified through the American Council on Exercise and the YMCA, where he has worked at the Walnut Creek Family branch for five years; and Warren Franke, associate professor in the Iowa State University Department of Health and Human Performance.

A word of warning from Crowl.

Strength training is good, but gains aren't made without overall health, which includes cardiovascular training, stretching, proper nutrition and enough sleep.

"Don't be impatient," Crowl said. "You've got to think of it as a process of building lean body mass and losing body fat.

"Take baby steps."

Our experts gave thumbs-up to one all-purpose lower-body exercise: They love the lunge, either with weights or without.

For upper body, they say the push-up is good for both chest and triceps.

Variation is the key once you get going in the full swing of fitness routines.

Even Maurio Coleman, 32, who has worked out since high school and played college football, knew he needed some expert advice to vary his routine at the Walnut Creek YMCA.

He hired Crowl and has gained so much muscle mass that now he wants to try to lose body fat.

He's on a program using lighter weights and higher repetitions to try to drop 35 pounds from his 275-pound frame.

"I'm on patrol, so I want to be able to get out of the car and chase people," said the suburban police officer.

Consider this a starting guide in each area, to be supplemented by training other body parts in your overall fitness program.

The muscles are quick learners, especially if you do the same exercises for months.

Move on to more advanced and varied exercises so you don't plateau.


Would a personal trainer help you?

If you need more help in designing a program, one option is to hire a personal trainer.

According to the IDEA Health and Fitness Association, a national group that represents fitness professionals, adult one-on-one personal training is ranked third in growth potential in the coming year among all fitness programs.

Here are tips from IDEA officials and Iowa fitness professionals on choosing the right trainer:

1. Is the trainer certified by a nationally recognized organization? There are nearly a dozen credible organizations in the U.S. Among those advertised by trainers in the Des Moines area are ACE (American Council on Exercise), NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association) and NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine). For a full list of accreditations, go to ideafit.com and click on "personal trainer recognition."

2. Does the instructor ask about medical conditions, previous injuries and current level of fitness? A good instructor won't compromise your health and safety and will tailor a program that fits your fitness level.

3. Does the instructor demonstrate how to do each exercise correctly? A good trainer will know which muscles you are working and proper technique.

4. Does the instructor have personal as well as book knowledge? In other words, do they practice what they preach? Performing the movements leads to better teaching.

5. Does the instructor keep up on current trends and new information from scientific journals? The science of exercise has evolved and continues to evolve. It does no good to have an instructor stuck in the 1980s.
– Mike Kilen

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