Ask Scott: Prolapsed discs, reducing body fat and taking up golf
Top fitness coach Scott Pearson answers your health and fitness questions.
I am 56 and have been a runner for over 30 years. I would like to have more upper body strength, but unfortunately also have a prolapsed disc so heavy weights are out! Any advice please?
Consult a chartered physiotherapist before going on any strength training programme with your back problem; they will have a much better idea than me about which exercises would be safe for you.
Having said that there are a few things you can do: Firstly I recommend undertaking some core stability training (see some of my previous answers and articles), this will strengthen the areas around your spine and help protect your discs from any further damage.
I don't think that lifting weights is totally out of the question; however you may need to modify exercises in order to keep pressure off your back. Lying and seated exercises should be ok. Movements such as bench press, seated dumbbell curls and pull ups will all strengthen your upper body while limiting the stress on your spine.
By training with free weights, running, swimming and skipping, I've lost over 2 stone in 3 months and got my body fat down to 16% but have come to a brick wall. I can't lose the last few pounds of body fat to get to my six pack. I take a protein shake after workouts also creatine and flaxseed and eat well with plenty of fish, chicken and fruit/veg. What do you suggest? What about ephedrine?
Congratulations on the weight loss so far, it sounds like you are working very hard. Don't be disheartened, the last few kilos are always the hardest to shift.
Have you read my previous nutrition articles? Although it sounds like you watch your diet, you might find that you are eating at the wrong times. For example, any carbohydrates in the afternoon or evening mat not be being used and are therefore being stored as fat. Follow these three steps: 1. Breakfast like a KING (large portions with plenty of carbs for energy and some protein for tissue repair) 2. Lunch like a PRINCE (fairly large meal, again with some low GI. carbs and plenty of good quality protein) 3. Dinner like a PAUPER (relatively small meal low in carbs, high in protein. Here's where you need plenty of roughage provided by green vegetables)
You also mention that you take a protein supplement after training. While your body needs protein after you have worked it is more effective to take a protein supplement about an hour before training. After training I would normally recommend drinking some carbohydrate but if you are fat burning, drink only water and get your protein from your diet (chicken, fish, etc)
Taking creatine will not aid you in losing fat, it will however cause you to become heavier as you retain a lot more water. Drink often when taking creatine (especially if you are running, etc) as it can lead to severe cramping.
You may also consider using a fat burning supplement. At Sale Sharks we use a product called Thermo DynamX which is made by EAS; along with other ingredients it uses caffeine to stimulate the metabolism into burning more fat. This has proven to be very effective with some of our players. Take it one hour before any aerobic training. Ephedrine works in a similar fashion, but is extremely strong. For this reason it is banned in all IOC governed sports, so I would not recommend using it as a fat burner.
Unlike most of your other writers, I'm 45 and totally out of condition. I nearly died after a bit of gardening last week-end and my back's killing me now. I've read about jogging on the site but I think that will be too much. I can't even touch my toes and I creak when I get up. What's your advice?
I guess that you simply want to get into some kind of shape and start enjoying life, rather than continually feeling ill and over the hill!
My advice would be to start off extremely light and gradually build up the intensity. Do something that you enjoy and that you have control over, don't jump straight into a full blown training routine because you'll feel stiff, sore and tired and I'll wager you won't last more than a week!!!
Begin by doing something such as walking instead of taking the car for short journeys, take the stairs rather than the lift; anything that will burn a few calories. You'll feel quite a difference even doing these small things.
Coupled with that begin to watch what you eat. Eat the right foods at the right times (see my previous articles) and you will begin to feel much better.
After this stage advance by doing something a little more energetic, dancing classes, playing golf, walking, etc.
When you are confident with each stage gradually progress to something a little more demanding. The key is to enjoy what you do!
Page created on September 11th, 2007
Page updated on January 18th, 2010