By Stephenie Karony

Wednesday, April 28, 1999

When lifting gets sticky,
do the right thing

Question: When lifting weights, I often hit a "sticking point," a part of the lift that I can't move through without "cheating." What should I do then?

Answer:Good question! Anyone who lifts weights is bound to run into some sticking points in certain exercises. About 99 percent of weightlifters take the easy way out and cheat on their form. But there is a better way.

The usual way individuals respond to a sticking point is by sacrificing good form. They either use momentum and swing the weight through the range of motion, or they contort their body in a way that the weight can be jerked through the sticking point. Both methods can lead to injury, and neither of them makes you stronger.

Swinging, jerking and contorting simply do not lead to functional strength. They lead to more swinging, jerking, contorting and injury.

The real solution to training through a sticking point is simple. Reduce the resistance and move through the limited range of motion at the point where the sticking occurs.

For real strength gains to be made, the weaker part of the muscle (think of it as the weakest link in a chain) must be the target of controlled partial rep work.

No one likes to reduce the amount of weights they're lifting. But in this case, as in many other plateau-busting exercises, it works. As soon as the weaker part of the muscle gets stronger, you can return to full range of motion training without having to cheat.

Q: What is the best dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids?

A: The fat in fish is by far the richest source of the poly-unsaturated fatty acids called omega-3s. Two of the most beneficial omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA, are especially abundant in fatty fish. Examples of fatty fish are salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout and herring.

The most studied benefit of omega-3 fats is their impact on heart disease. Emerging data suggest that a diet high in omega-3s is protective against heart attack. Omega-3 fats make platelets in the blood less likely to stick together, and they appear to reduce the inflammatory process within the blood vessels that leads to arteriosclerosis. In a word, omega-3s reduce blood clotting, thereby lessening the chance of having a heart attack.

It appears that the greatest impact of omega-3 fats is in reducing sudden death from cardiac arrest , i.e., when the heart stops beating.

Omega-3s have been shown to increase the resistance of cells in the heart to arrhythmia. Arrhythmia occurs when the electrical impulses that control the heart's rhythm go awry. Without medical intervention, the heart will ultimately stop beating. Researchers have found it more difficult to induce arrhythmia in lab animals that are fed a diet rich in omega 3 oils instead of other fats.

So if you want to lower your risk of sudden death from a heart attack, eat fatty fish at least once a week. Two or three times per week is even better. Remember, eating any fish, even low-fat fish, is better than eating no fish at all. If you don't like fish and don't want to try eating flax seeds, also very high in omega-3s, then be sure to cook with canola (rapeseed) oil. By the way, olive oil doesn't contain omega-3 fatty acids.

There are a couple of other life-style choices you can make to promote a healthy heart: exercise regularly, and eat a diet low in cholesterol and saturated fat, and rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables. And if you smoke, quit.

Stephenie Karony is a certified health
and fitness instructor, a personal trainer and the author of
"Body Shaping with Free Weights." Send questions to her at
P.O. Box 262, Wailuku Hi. Her column appears on Wednesdays.

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