A Fitter U Q&A: January 2015 with
Joe Giandonato, MBA, MS, CSCS
Coordinator of Fitness Programs
Drexel Recreation Center
Drexel Recreation’s resident fitness expert, Joe Giandonato will be fielding questions each month from employees, students, and members and addressing topics related to strength training, weight loss, injury prevention and health education.
Do you suggest using weight machines or utilizing free weights?
1. “Should I do cardio or weight training first?” – Reynaldo D.
That’s a great question and it often serves as a common dilemma for many gym goers. Before we discuss bioenergetic and biomechanical implications, the sequencing of exercise modalities largely depend on an individual’s priorities, which are rooted in a combination of needs and goals. Performing cardiovascular exercise at higher intensities (classified as 80% of Heart Rate Reserve or greater) prior to weight training can deplete glycogen stores which are needed to support weight training. A state of depleted skeletal muscle glycogen is capable of impairing maximal strength and has been proven amplifying fatigue
occurring as a result of isokinetic exercise (1). While research has demonstrated that chronically depleted glycogen stores can recruit glycolytically dependent fast twitch fibers (2), it stands to reason that this may be a long term adaptation, since oxidative slow twitch fibers are predominatly utilized during cardiovascular exercise.
It is crucial that an individual not be fatigued prior to engaging in weight training. Obviously, performing compound exercises with appreciable loads following
exercise which may have exhausted glycogen levels, can elevate injury risk. The accretion of metabolites, which include inorganic phosphate and lactate, an elevation of hydrogen ions, and increase of blood plasma acidity collectively stemming from prior exercise, is not an environment which is conducive to muscular contractility.
As such, intensive weight training should precede extensive cardiovascular exercise. Cardiovascular exercise conducted at higher intensities (80%+ HRR) should precede cardiovascular exercise performed at lower intensities (60-79% HRR) and (40-59%). Within a training session, exercises utilized to develop maximal strength should be performed first. Subsequently performed exercise can transition from neurally dependent pathways to more metabolically dependent ones.
2. “What would you recommend for a quick 20-30 minute workout over lunch?” – Michael B.
For time constrained individuals, I would suggest circuit training involving one or all of the following: weighted object (i.e. dumbbell, weight plate, kettlebell) elastic bands or tubing, and one’s bodyweight. I would advise
selecting two exercises for the lower body (i.e. swings and squats), two exercises for the upper body (i.e. push ups and banded rows), one exercise for the core (i.e. planks) and another for the arms (banded biceps curls) and/or upper back
(banded pull aparts). Exercises for the lower body and upper body should be alternated to maximize efficiency and to increase the amount of work performed in the allotted time.
Here is a sample circuit which can performed within 20 minutes, which gives you the rest of your hour lunch break, to walk across campus to the gym and hopefully shower before you head back to work.
1. Swings (performed with a dumbbell or kettlebell) – 20 repetitions
2. Push Ups (performed from toes or knees) – 20 repetitions
3. Squats with Counterbalance (performed with weight held in front of body) – 20 repetitions
4. Banded Rows (affix band to stable and stationary object) – 20 repetitions
5. Plank x 1:00
6. Banded Biceps Curls – 20 repetitions
7. Banded Pull Aparts – 20 repetitions
Perform 2-3 sequences and punctuate each set with either :30 of active rest (jogging in place, jumping rope, cycling) or passive rest (standing, walking), depending on your fitness level.
3. “Can ketoacidosis occur by following a ketogenic diet?” – Sammie L.
Before we delve any further, let’s clearly define each of the terms in the aforementioed question. Ketoacidosis is a condition characterized by an excessive amount of circulating ketone bodies which lowers blood pH, and for those with compromised metabolic functioning, such as diabetics and alcoholics, possesses the ability to be fatal.
A ketogenic diet is a low carbohydrate diet which stimulates the production of ketone bodies within the liver. Ketone production stems from decreased energy intake, namely a reduction in carbohydrates.
In the absence of nutrients, ketone bodies enter the citric acid cycle, where they are converted into acetyl coenzyme A, a component which catalyzes fatty acid and carbohydrate metabolism. The ultimate goal of a ketogenic diet is to achieve a state of ketosis, in which the ketone bodies serve as the body’s preferred source of energy. However, operating in a ketotic state is somewhat inefficient and is not sustainable, especially, if regularly performing high intensity exercise is expected. The duration necessary to arrive at ketosis is highly variable, however, a safe bet is that it takes about seven days. An individual’s existing metabolic health, body composition, and activity levels all influence how long it may take to become ketotic and how impactful becoming ketotic will be.
The route from ketosis to ketoacidosis is even less direct, but it can be hastened if nutritional intake is suppressed and/or if an individual engages
in excessive physical activity. Ketoacidosis should be avoided at all costs.
So yes, you run a greater chance of slipping into ketoacidosis if you follow a ketogenic diet, however, you will likely need to establish a formidable imbalance between physical activity and nutrition.
4. “I am an avid runner who often competes in 5K races, and at times, experience knee pain. What can I do to prevent knee pain?” – Taryn D.
Distance running is an activity typically characterized by continous movements of low amplitude and high frequency, amounting to shorter stride lengths. Running longer distances requires less force output when compared to running shorter distances, since energy must be presereved for the duration of the activity. A shorter stride length is accompanied by greater moment forces of flexion and extension occurring at the knee joint, which pull on tendinous and ligamentous structures and create instability and in many instances, consequent pain. It is essential that the muscles of the core, which stabilize the lumbar spine and hips, as well as the posterior chain muscles, which extend and abduct the hips, be targeted within a complimentary strength training program. Your knee pain is the likely result of a muscular imbalance which has been exacerbated by continued running. It pains me to see many runners, including accomplished ones, eschewing what can be a vital cog in their success as athletes and prolonging their functionality.
5. “I am interested in becoming certified as a personal trainer, what do I need to do?” – Vijay E.
I commend you on your interest and desire in becoming a fitness professional. It’s an exciting and rewarding profession and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, our field is projected to experience growth, especially as the Baby Boomer generation, a large faction of our population grows older. While working in a gym may seem cool to outsiders since you are able to don athletic attire to work each day and seemingly workout at
your own leisure during the day, it involves a lot of hard work and patience to succeed. The field is loosely regulated and has little to no barrier of entry for those interested in joining the ranks. However, since you’re affiliated with Drexel, I assume that you want to be successful, so I would highly encourage that you pursue a certification which is recognized by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, such as the American College of Sports Medicine, National Academy of Sports Medicine, or the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Alternatively, you may consider a certification through the World Instructor Training School, an organization recognized by the US Department of Education, in which you may be able to earn credits toward your degree.
I would also suggest that you complete your formal education, even if it is not fitness related, as having a degree will open up many doors professionally and will make you eligible to earn advanced or specialty certifications such as the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist credential offered by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, which requires a bachelor’s degree to sit for the exam. But once you get certified, it’s far from over. You may need to complete an internship and will more than likely have to maintain your certification by earning continuing education units. For more information, I encourage you to contact me directly.
1. Jacobs, I., Kaiser, P., & Tesch, P. (1981). Muscle strength and fatigue after selective glycogen depletion in human skeletal muscle fibers.
Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol, 46, 47-53.
2. Krustrup, P., Söderlund, K., Mohr, M., & Bangsbo, J. (2004). Slow-twitch fiber glycogen depletion elevates moderate-exercise fast-twitch fiber activity and O2 uptake.
Med Sci Sports Exerc, 36, 973-82.
Please send your questions to Joe at email@example.com or drop by his office at the Rec Center, which is located in Room 310 on the third floor, nearest to the 33rd street side of the building.