Shari Duncan

Tag: Weight Training

Bands, Balls, Bells….. No Gym Required
Shari

by on Aug.04, 2010, under Fitness, General HEALTH, Motivation, Strength and Agility Training

Get fit. Lose the excuses…and those membership dues.


No money.  No time. No babysitter. Too busy. Too self conscious. These are the reasons given for NOT joining a gym.  But we all WANT to be fit and healthy. Guess what?  You don’t need a gym to get an amazing workout. And you don’t need to fight crowds to wait for fancy, expensive equipment.  You can get fit and healthy….at home!

Exercise should be made convenient and not made to rule your life… With a few simple, inexpensive aides, you will be on your way to a better you.  These aides will add versatility to your at home training sessions. Adding variety to your workouts will keep you engaged and interested, and keeps your muscles guessing and challenged so that you will make progress.

So swing by your local Wal-mart or Target and pick up one or all of the following:

Get back to basics with the 3 B’s…..

Resistance Bands:

Bands offer constant tension on the muscle, both in the positive and the negative part of the movement. Bands incorporate more stabilizer muscles to keep the band in alignmentthroughout each exercise, adding a different dynamic to the same old moves. This helps with coordination and balance as you engage more muscle groups. They also offer more variety than cables for example because you can create resistance from all directions – overhead, below, sideways, etc.

  • You can perform the same exercises as you do with free weights–the difference lies in positioning the band. For example, stand on the band and grip the handles for bicep curls or overhead presses. Or attach it to a door and do lat pulldowns or tricep pushdowns. The possibilities are endless and you’ll find there are a multitude of exercises available to you.
  • Bands range from $6 – $20, depending on how many you buy. Most bands are color coded, according to tension level. (It’s best to get at least 3, as different muscle groups require different levels of resistance).
  • And, they are easily packed away in a suitcase so that you can get your workout in even when traveling.
  • http://exercise.about.com/cs/exerciseworkouts/l/blbandworkout.htm

Stability Balls:

Exercise balls challenge you by placing your body in an unstable environment.  They are among the most versatile (and my favorite) exercise aides in that they help to improve core strength as well as strengthen abs and back.  When you lie or sit on the ball, your legs and abs immediately contract to keep you from falling off. Add an exercise to that (like a cheststability exercise ball or shoulder press or crunch), and you’ve just increased the intensity of the movement.

Use the stability ball as your “weight bench”.  This adds difficulty to the movement as well as engages the legs, butt and abs.

Before you buy a ball, make sure it’s the right size for your height. To test it, sit on the ball and make sure your hips are level or just slightly higher than the knees.  Again, you can find a stability ball for under $20.

http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/gear/equipment/best-stability-ball-exercises/?page=1

**When shopping for fitness balls, you may also consider purchasing a medicine ball.  A medicine ball is a weighted, hollow ball that varies in size from the size of a volley ball (lighter) to a basketball (heavier).

Dumbells:

You don’t need a whole rack of weights to supplement your home workouts. 2 -3 sets of dumbbells will enable you to get in a full body workout; especially if used in conjunction with a stability ball and/or bands.   For every exercise you can do with a traditional barbell, you can do a similar exercise (and more) with a  set of dumbbells. Use the heavier set for exercises in which you can manage more weight — squats and lunges for example; and lighter weight for exercises that work best with comparatively lighter weights — raises, rows, curls, etc.

For the exercise suggestions that follow, remember that many times the stability ball can replace a weight bench.

http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/dumbbellexercises.html

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What comes first… Cardio or Weights? Prioritize YOUR workout.
Shari

by on Jun.25, 2010, under Fitness, Strength and Agility Training

You know you got to do it.  Love it, hate it, or just love to hate it; we all need to incorporate some type of cardio into our fitness routines.

It is an essential part of any training routine. The question that is  often asked  is whether it is better to do cardio BEFORE or AFTER weight training.  The answer lies partially on your specific goals and what you want to accomplish. Your current conditioning, stamina and mindset are also important considerations.

In general, any exercise performed when you have ample energy is performed with greater intensity and with more focus and efficiency. Exercises you perform once energy supplies

Cardio, BEFORE or AFTER?  The choice is Yours

Cardio, BEFORE or AFTER? The choice is Yours

are low (or depleted) are less effective and more likely to result in injury. So If you are a recreational athlete, you might consider doing cardio and strength training on separate days.  Or you might combine the two with intervals or circuit training, which both strength and endurance activities are applied to whole body or timed routines. Or you may just start with what motivates you that day.

However, if you are trying to achieve a specific goal, such as building muscle or improving sports specific skills, or if you have an extremely high level of fitness already, then order may play a role in your training regimen.

Cardio BEFORE Weight Training

Light cardio before training serves as great warm up that prepares the muscles for heavy lifting. The cardio can actually help to reduce the number of warm up sets necessary.

In order to build and maintain cardiovascular endurance,  perform endurance exercise first, If you are preparing for a hiking or biking event or training for a 10K or triathlon, then the focus, energy and efforts should be in the area that will assist you in improving/achieving optimal performance and results. Lifting prior to running is not recommended because you increase your risk of injury due to muscle fatigue.

Cardio AFTER Weight Training

Likewise, if the goal is to build muscle, it makes sense that your energy and efforts should be dedicated to weight training before cardio. Cardio burns fat and carbs depleting energystores necessary for strength training. So a hard cardio workout before training may not leave you enough fuel to challenge your muscles. If the body’s carbohydrate stores are depleted during intense cardio, there will not be enough critical fuel left to sustain a weight training session. Over time, this could actually lead to a decrease in strength.

Low intensity cardio activity after training also serves and is recommended as a cool down activity.

So if your goal is to improve your overall health and condition, the order really does not matter. Do what works for you.  If you prefer to get your cardio “out of the way”, then do it first. What matters is that you participate in activities that you enjoy and that combine both endurance and strength training!

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Vibram FiveFingers – Discover the Alternative.
Shari

by on Jun.13, 2010, under Fitness, General HEALTH, Natural Bodybuilding, Strength and Agility Training

It has 5 fingers.  It may just be the perfect workout glove; for your feet.

So many of us struggle with posture, balance and proper body mechanics not just in everyday activities but also when we train.  Although we work hard to maintain correct form and execution, it becomes challenging if alignment is off center. Risk of injury increases and strength, speed and agility may suffer.  Many of the exercises we perform in and out of the gym rely on flexible yet stable support from our feet and legs. Most traditional athletic shoes unfortunately, do not provide a sense of control. Of course, traditional footwear is necessary for

In (and out) of the gym: Increase Balance, Improve Posture while strengthening muscles in feet and lower legs.

In (and out) of the gym: Increase Balance, Improve Posture while strengthening muscles in feet and lower legs.

protection, safety and security but experts believe these same shoes that we wear day in and out also serve as a “cast” for the foot. And over time, they in fact weaken our foot and leg muscles, leaving them underdeveloped and more prone to injury.   It is important that the foot be stimulated and exercised in its natural state as often as possible.

So in my personal quest to improve my own center and develop a stronger base, I have discovered the Vibram Five Finger Shoes.  These funny looking shoes have been around for a couple of years. I was actually introduced to them over a year ago by a fellow bodybuilding friend and immediately dismissed them as ridiculous. Said to him, “no way would I ever”!  But as I looked into ways to improve my situation, the more these “five finger shoes” began to make sense.  They are unlike any other conventional footwear in that their design mirrors flex points and silhouettes the foot to propel the body forward and promote a more natural gait.

Here’s what the official website has to say about 5 finger footwear for use during fitness training:

FiveFingers footwear not only provides a sure-footed grip to enhance torque during power moves, it’s untrathin sole enhances feedback and lowers your center of gravity to improve balance and agility. FiveFingers will allow your foot to move naturally, flexing easily with every move you make. Its five individual toe slots lets your toes to separate gently, allowing you to use them as your natural stabilizers and providing unrivaled balance and increased muscle stimulation to your feet, ankles, and lower legs.

6 Key Reasons to Wear or Train in Vibram FiveFingers:

1. Strengthens Muscles in the Feet and Lower Legs – wearing FiveFingers will stimulate and strengthen muscles in the feet and lower legs, improving general foot health and reducing the risk of injury.

2. Improves Range of Motion in Ankles, Feet and Toes – no longer ‘cast’ in a shoe, the foot and toes move more naturally.

3. Stimulates Neural Function Important to Balance and Agility –when wearing Vibram FiveFingers, thousands of neurological receptors in the feet send valuable information

My new shoes... Black, of course

My new shoes... Black, of course

to the brain, improving balance and agility.

4. Improves Proprioception and Body Awareness – those same neurological receptors heighten body awareness, sending messages about body mechanics, form, and movement.

5. Eliminates Heel Lift to Align the Spine and Improve Posture –By lowering the heel, our bodyweight becomes evenly distributed across the footbed, promoting proper posture and spine alignment.

6. Allows the Foot and Body to Move Naturally, Which Just FEELS GOOD.

http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/indexNA.cfm

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Shoulders in a Slump? Perk up your Posture !
Shari

by on May.16, 2010, under Fitness, General HEALTH, Stretching / Flexibility

Physical therapists call it upper-cross syndrome. I call it a pain in the neck, literally.

The older I get, the more rounded my shoulders appear. Poor posture is neither attractive or healthy.   So today I decided was the day to start doing something about it.  And naturally, I am sharing some tips and exercises that can reverse the effects of  slumping shoulders and improve posture.

Rounded shoulders can be caused by sitting at a desk or leaning forward for long periods of time. Anyone who sits extensively with their arms out in front of them, are prone to hunched shoulders.  (think hours on the computer, at your desk, or driving) If you have a forward head and rounded shoulders, you also probably have tight chest muscles and loose upper back muscles.  When the shoulders begin to slump, the muscles of the chest begin to shorten, the small muscles between the shoulder blades begin to weaken and the muscles of the back begin to lengthen, increasing the tendency to slump. Slumping collapses the chest and can also restrict breathing capacity.

Have your picture taken side view to determine postural concerns

Have your picture taken side view to determine postural concerns

Go ahead and give yourself a good once over in the mirror to check your alignment or have someone take your picture from the side.  Check to see if the middle of your ear is in line with the middle of your shoulder, hip, and ankle. If you can’t draw a straight line through these points, then you’ve just been diagnosed .  Proper posture involves aligning the body so that the pull of gravity is evenly distributed. What an eye opener this turned out to be for me. After studying my photographs, I recognized that I was in need of ALOT of corrective work.

Good posture includes:

  • A straight line from your ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles
  • Head is centered
  • Shoulders, hips and knees are of equal height

Another self test to see if you are crossed up:

Place two fingers at the top of your right shoulder and feel for a bony notch that protrudes from it. That’s your acromion. Now grab a ruler and lie on your back on the floor, your right arm resting alongside your body. With your left hand, measure the distance from your right acromion to the floor, being careful not to raise or lower your right shoulder as you do so. If the distance is more than 1 in ch, you have upper-cross syndrome.

Improve your posture by strengthening the weak upper back muscles, while stretching tight muscles in the chest, shoulders, lats and hips. As the upper back becomes stronger and the chest becomes more flexible, the shoulders naturally pull back—a sign of improved posture

These  stretches are sometimes used in rehab programs.

  1. While standing with feet shoulder width and knees moderately bent, bend the arms and raise the elbows as if they were wings. I use light hand weights to reinforce the workout, but do what works for you. Make fists and touch the thumb side of the fists to the chest. Next, while keeping the elbows level and at shoulder level, push the elbows horizontally back as far as possible. Do not jerk the elbows; just push them back smoothly and evenly. Hold them back as far as possible for a count of five, and then slowly bring the elbows back to the starting position.
  2. Standing with feet shoulder width and knees moderately bent, straighten the arms, horizontally and level with the floor, out to the sides and level with the shoulders. Turn the arms so that the palms are faced to the rear and push the arms back as far as possible and hold for a count of five. To increase the difficulty, find a wall and, standing as above, lean back against the wall and then push yourself forward. You can also use hand weights and bend and straighten the legs to increase the difficulty. Start with five or so repetitions and work up slowly.

To offset this muscle imbalance, it is necessary to work to strengthen the muscles of the back with pulling exercises like lateral rowing, shoulder rotation exercises, and lat pull downs.

Some other corrective exercises that work to stretch the chest area and also tighten the upper back muscles are the reverse fly and the back extension. There are many acceptable variations for each of these exercises.  They can easily be performed at home or worked into your training sessions at the gym on circuit machines, resistance bands or with light free weights.

Stand or Sit; with or without weight, this stretch will help correct rounded shoulders

Stand or Sit; with or without weight, this stretch will help correct rounded shoulders

–       – – – – – – – – – – – – – –    –

Rotator cuff exercise:


Will reduce the appearance of rounded shoulders and help pull them back and up. Stand tall with your arms bent at 45 degrees in front of you and elbows tucked slightly in to the waist. You can use light dumbbells for this exercise if you wish, but they aren’t necessary.

EXECUTION: Rotate the arms outward until they are each facing toward opposite walls, away from your body. Keeping the arms bent, press your hands toward the rear, as if you’re trying to touch something just behind you. This is a small move–a couple of inches at most. Perform this backward move between 10 and 15 times, keeping the shoulder blades pressed downward. You should feel the back muscles and the muscles between the shoulder blades compressing together. This exercise is also a great tension reliever!

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Weight Training Injury?…. Key to Recovery, Keep Active
Shari

by on Apr.21, 2010, under Fitness, Motivation, Natural Bodybuilding

No need to turn into a couch potato if you get injured.  Look for alternatives, get back out there and keep fit!

Injuries are an unwelcome reality when involved in sports.  As we train, over train and push through plateaus, we’re bound to stumble across some injuries. They come in all shapes and sizes, and range from muscle tears to tendonitis. Failure to warm up, sudden cooling off, overload, improper movement and poor nutrition all contribute to weight training injuries. It is important to learn how to differentiate the positive pain of deep muscular burn from the warning pain of injury.

Many small injuries can be managed by Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (R.I.C.E.) Also elevating the limb helps restore blood flow to the injured area.

R I C E.... Remember this to treat minor sports injuries

R I C E.... Remember this to treat minor sports injuries

No matter the type of injury you have, there are usually alternative exercises that can be done while still resting the injured area   For example, if you cannot perform weight bearing activities during the initial rehab phase, try doing upper body interval workouts, and / or stationary cycling. What’s important is to remain physically active and maintain some level of fitness so when the recovery period is complete you are ready to return to action as soon as possible.

If the injury is serious and not responding to first aid measures, medical intervention is recommended.

When time is lost in the gym, it not only limits you physically but also affects you psychologically .  The challenge is to keep as safely active as possible. Physical rehabilitation  not only helps the body recover and regain strength but just as importantly helps in alleviating frustration and in keeping a peaceful frame of mind.

Be sure that medical clearance has been given before resuming activity in the weight room. Most physicians and training coaches believe in resuming activity as soon as possible. Depending upon the nature and severity of the injury, it is vitally important to maintain some degree of the pre-existing fitness level. Take it slow, gradually working back to your routine, focusing on getting blood flow back into the injured area.

The best way to prevent any sport or gym related injury is to stretch properly and execute the exercises with strict form.

Train Smart! You can do several things to minimize injury at home or in the gym:

  • Don’t lift weights that are too heavy for your stage of training,
  • Do use a spotter or buddy to help whenever you are lifting heavy.
  • Do lift with appropriate technique for the exercise, and
  • Don’t utilize potentially dangerous exercises unless you are sure you can handle them
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Hurts so Good?… Post Workout Muscle Soreness
Shari

by on Feb.27, 2010, under Fitness, Natural Bodybuilding, Strength and Agility Training

Muscle soreness is an unavoidable side effect of strength and endurance training.

After a hard workout, most people begin to experience soreness in the body parts trained within 24-48 hours. This type of pain is called “delayed onset muscle soreness” or DOMS and can last several days to a week. The primary cause of DOMS, according to most exercise physiologists, is from tiny tears that occur in the muscle as a result of high intensity exercise – especially resistance training.  DOMS is a normal and expected outcome of physical exercise.  The only way to eliminate DOMS is to avoid exercise.

When you work out you literally “tear down” muscle tissue fibers.  (These are microscopic tears -& very different from the medical definition of a torn muscle). During the days after the workout, the muscle begins to rebuild itself. However, the muscles must be given enough time to recover and as well as adequate nutrition. This rebuilding process creates a “new” muscle that is bigger and stronger than before. This is how the cycle of building lean muscle occurs.

It is important to differentiate between the burn felt during/after the workout from the pain of an injury. Soreness should not become debilitating or prevent you from participating in sports or performing daily tasks.  This type of “good sore” is a sign that the muscles were worked – & that muscle tissue was broken down during your training session. As a result, you will begin to become stronger and your muscles will grow.

DOMS is greatest, but not exclusive, to beginners new to exercising. Over time, the body will adapt to the workload imposed on it and the less sore you will feel.   If you continue to repeat the same workout over and over again, it will eventually cease to make you sore. AND you will cease to make any progressThis is why it is important, no

Dramatic changes to workout routine & intensity will bring on DOMS!

Dramatic changes to workload & intensity will bring on DOMS!

matter how long you have been training to change up your workout routines often.  Progressive overload is key getting stronger and building muscle.

Each time you “shock your body” with a new workout program, new exercises, new techniques you’ve never used before or in a long time, expect the soreness to return. Sometimes the amount of soreness from a change in your routine can be severe. So remember to go easy the first day on a new program and build intensity gradually or you may push over that line from “good sore” to “bad sore”.  Severe muscle soreness probably means you overdid it, which will happen from time to time.  In most cases is not reason for alarm.

Reducing the Effects of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

If you train intently, you will be sore post work-out.

The goal is to reduce the DOMS effects and keep to your workout schedule.

WARM-UP/ STRETCH – The benefits of warm up before and post workout stretch are numerous and should never be overlooked or their value underestimated.  Warm up and cool down properly and build your workout program gradually to minimize DOMS.

REST:  Remember, a little soreness is expected; it is a sign of a good workout and eventually the soreness will go away.  Rest and allow the muscle groups worked to recover for a couple of days before working them again.

MASSAGE/ Hot Bath / Heat / (heating pad) will sooth sore aching muscle and reduce inflammation and pain.

WATER:  Drinking extra water helps to flush toxins and other byproducts of muscle breakdown that occur during heavy exercise.

VITAMIN C /E – antioxidants are proven helpful in dealing with muscle soreness and recovery. Your muscles produce more free radicals during exercise. Supplementation with antioxidants C & E will slow down the oxidation process, which in turn reduces fatigue and soreness.  A healthy supply of these nutrients help to minimize pain the day after a workout and will speed the healing process.

SUPPLEMENTATION:  Glutamine and BCAA’s (Branched-chain Amino Acids) are known to assist in muscle recovery and repair.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORIES: – (Ibuprofin) – like Motrin will alleviate symptoms for sure. I usually try to use these as a last option to the ones mentioned above.

PROPER NUTRITION: The fuel we give our bodies have a significant impact not only on performance but also in the muscle building and recovery process.  While proper nutrients will not prevent or give instant relief from muscle soreness, it is essential for the muscle repairing process. By consuming the right balance of nutrients before, during, and immediately following workouts, you can minimize the amount of muscle protein breakdown incurred during workouts and maximize the rate of post-exercise muscle protein repair and rebuilding. This principle is known as nutrient timing and is topic that will be discussed more in depth in future blogs.

**If soreness persists many days, or you suspect an injury, see a doctor. Otherwise for mild to moderate exercise related soreness, some combination of rest, anti-inflammatory, hot water/heat, massage, and drinking plenty of water will handle it.

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Don’t Forget to S T R E T C H !!
Shari

by on Jan.09, 2010, under Fitness, General HEALTH, Natural Bodybuilding

Stretching can be done anytime, anywhere.   Consider all of the benefits of stretching and why stretching really matters.

Flexibility for many is a goal in and of itself. Being able to take a joint through its full range of motion allows for more freedom of movement. Fitness activities like yoga and stretching concentrate on flexibility.  But so many of us overlook stretching as an integral part of our fitness programs or consider it a waste of time.  Experts agree however, if you want to achieve peak physical condition,  you need to stretch.  It is a powerful part of any exercise program. Most aerobic and strength training programs inherently cause muscles to contract and flex. Stretching after exercise promotes equal balance. Stretching also increases flexibility, improves range of motion of the joints and boosts circulation. Stretching can even promote better posture and relieve stress.

Benefits of a regular stretching program:      

Reduced muscle tension

Increased range of movement in the joints

Enhanced muscular coordination

Increased circulation of the blood to various parts of the body

Increased energy levels (resulting from increased circulation)

As stated before, Stretching improves flexibility. The most common forms of stretching exercises are static, sustained movements that are slow and controlled. Static stretches are thought to be safe for most people. They involve a slow, gentle stretch of the muscle that is held in a lengthened position for 10 to 60 seconds and repeated about three times.

Another type of stretching exercise is called dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching involves gradual increases in your range of motion and speed of movement with a controlled swing (not bounce) that reach the limits of your range of motion in a controlled manner. You never force this type of stretch. Examples of dynamic stretching are slow, controlled leg swings, arm swings, or torso twists.

Dynamic stretching exercises improve flexibility required in most sports and are often performed after a warm up before aerobic exercise training. Dynamic stretching exercises include 10 to 12 repetitions of the movement.

Some people practice ballistic stretching exercises. Ballistic stretching uses momentum in an attempt to force a joint beyond its normal range of motion. Bouncing-type stretches are ballistic and very different from dynamic stretching because they try to force a greater range of motion. Be cautious, as there is an increased risk of injury (from overstretching the muscles, tendons or ligaments) with ballistic stretching

Stretching is important for people of all ages and fitness levels.  When range of motion increases, limbs and joints can move further before an injury occurs. Post-exercise stretching can also aid in workout recovery, decrease muscle soreness, and ensure that muscles and tendons are in good working order. The more conditioned muscles and tendons are, the better they can handle the rigors of sport and exercise, and the less likely that they’ll become injured.

Flexibility and Strength Training


If you lift weights, it’s even more important to stretch, and the best time to stretch is right after a workout. Stretching should not be done as a warm-up to an activity as you could injure your muscles if stretching them when they are cold. At least 3 to 5 minutes of cardiovascular training is recommended to warm up the muscles sufficiently. Stretching of fatigued muscles can increase flexibility and improve muscle building. Static stretching helps loosen muscles, removes lactic acid and prevents the muscle tissues from healing at a shorter length after a heavy workout.

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Exercise and Antioxidants
Shari

by on Jan.03, 2010, under General Nutrition, Natural Bodybuilding

Antioxidants are vitally important for general good health, but have additional benefits for those who exercise regularly.

Antioxidants are directly related in the prevention of cellular damage in the body; a common path for cancer, aging, and a multitude of diseases.  Free radicals form when oxygen interacts with certain molecules and start chain reactions that damage the cells.  We are exposed to huge amounts of free radicals from pollution, cigarette smoke and automobile emissions. Every time we eat, we consume free radicals in the form of pesticides and preservatives. Antioxidants create a defense system to prevent free radical damage to the body and assist in slowing down the aging rate of these cells, thereby helping your body to recover from exercise.

We all agree that exercise is extremely beneficial to our health; but it also increases production of extra free-

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radical oxygen molecules. During weight training, certain compounds such as lactic acid build-up in the muscles and generate free-radical damage to cells which further breaks down muscle tissue.   Our bodies need antioxidants to keep oxygen working in a healthy way.  This is especially true for any person who is trying to exercise to help improve their fitness and weight loss.

Although our bodies produce antioxidants, we manufacture insufficient amounts to ward off the internal damage produced by the toxins in our environment. This is why ensuring a well balanced diet is so vital to overall good health and well-being.  5-9 servings of fruit or vegetables per day, along with a balanced exercise program is recommended to meet the needed nutrients for a fundamental antioxidant system. For most of us, it is a challenge to meet these basic, daily nutritional requirements. In this case, supplementation may be a benefit. Many vitamins and minerals contain anti-oxidant properties.

Those of us who participate in weight controlled sports and/or do not consume a well balanced diet may be at risk for vitamin deficiency. Sport nutrition experts suggest that those who exercise regularly take antioxidant supplements daily, particularly vitamin E (400 IU) and vitamin C (1000 mg).  Vitamin E supplementation has been shown to protect against exercise-induced oxidative damage and to enhance recovery following intense exercise. Studies also suggest that vitamin C may quicken recovery time, and decrease muscle soreness.   Other than vitamin C, E, there is no clear scientific evidence that most antioxidant supplements aid in defense against exercise induced oxidative damage.

Foods sources then are our best source for antioxidant.

Small red beans and wild blueberries top the list of foods that have the highest concentrations of disease-fighting antioxidant compounds, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In general, colorful foods are higher in antioxidant properties, as well as in vitamins, minerals and fiber.

The top 20 ranked foods that interfere with or prevent damage from free radicals are displayed in the table below:

Rank Type Food item Serving size Total antioxidant capacity per serving size
1 Beans/Legumes Red Beans (dried) Half cup 13727
2 Fruit, Berry Wild blueberry 1 cup 13427
3 Beans/Legumes Red kidney beans (dried) Half cup 13259
4 Beans/Legumes Pinto beans Half cup 11864
5 Fruit, Berry Blueberry 1 cup 9019
6 Fruit, Berry Cranberry 1 cup (whole) 8983
7 Vegetable Artichoke (cooked) 1 cup (hearts) 7904
8 Fruit, Berry Blackberry 1 cup 7701
9 Fruit Prune Half cup 7291
10 Fruit, Berry Raspberry 1 cup 6058
11 Fruit, Bery Strawberry 1 cup 5938
12 Fruit Red Delicious apple One 5900
13 Fruit Granny Smith apple One 5381
14 Nut Pecan 1 ounce 5095
15 Fruit, Bery Sweet cherry 1 cup 4873
16 Fruit Black plum One 4844
17 Vegetable Russet potato (cooked) One 4649
18 Beans/Legumes Black beans (dried) Half cup 4181
19 Fruit Plum One 4118
20 Fruit Gala apple One 3903
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