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Half-Century asks:

What do you know about DHEA...I am a 50 year old woman...started pumping iron in January. Read an article on this supplement...that it helps build muscle. Am wondering how much I should take. The article said for woman...to start at 3 to 5 mgs. daily...any advice you can give me would be appreciated.

Gypsy replies:

I can give you info about DHEA. However, before I do I will tell you my opinion. Since you are just starting, I highly recommend that you do NOT go for supplements. Many of the supplements that are on the market tout some miraculous results that are often unfounded at best and at worst can cause severe health problems. If you are pumping to get stronger and healthier, I suggest that you go for a sensible and natural way of eating. Please read my article on diet: Fatty, Fatty Two-by-Four. You will get much more benefit and a healthier stronger body from patient hard work and a good natural diet than from any excess supplements that you put in your body. I know...because I have seen the results...that you can become a top notch body builder and a strong person without such supplements. If you have some natural talent and are motivated and willing to work hard and persevere, you will accomplish such goals. Also, if supplements are abused they can do just the opposite of what you want them to do. If you abuse your body with "synthetic" hormones, by overloading your glands and organs, you are asking for some bad problems. If you are talking about the long run...and at 50 you are still in it for the long run...those "incredible gains" can cause you a higher price than you bargained for. I would advise you to go into a good lifting program (designed for your goals) that includes aerobics and stretching. With that and a sensible eating plan, you can reach any of your highest goals. You are just starting out. Be patient and careful and you will achieve far more than if you rush your body beyond its willingness to grow strong and healthy. Having said this here is some info I picked off the Web about DHEA.

DHEA (short for dehydroepiandrosterone) is a prohormone.

Though the use of it has been touted as setting off the problems that come with aging...we lose our natural DHEA as we age...and to some extent it also seems to have a significant effect on weight loss and the building of lean muscle mass. Remember there is always a placebo affect of any drug, especially one that is lauded as the newest "magic feather." There seems to be no real knowledge about DHEA's function on the human body and many supplement promoters are pushing it as a wonder drug, there is no certainty that it is a factor in how healthy or strong you are or are apt to get. If you want to take DHEA synthetic version (synthetic DHEA is in fact a steroid drug) you should be aware of the consequences. If you do not take serious cautions and use it without any guidance there are some significant side effects. Our natural DHEA of course is what our body is used to so it does us no harm, but synthetic products tend to overload us with more than our bodies are supposed to carry.

The side effects of synthetic DHEA for women are:

Cervical dysplasia and endometriosis, increased risk of breast and brain tumors, depression, increased arthritis pain, alteration of pituitary chemistry, and interference with proper thyroid function. Also, because synthetic DHEA is improperly metabolized into the body, it stores and accumulates over time. This is why long-term use of synthetic DHEA carries the greatest risks. Synthetic DHEA is actually not very effective in raising DHEA levels. Many supplement companies may claim they have safe ways of using DHEA, but then it is in their self interest to do so.

However, you are a grown woman and must make your own choices.

In the end, unless you intend to become a competitive body builder...from which you are a long way right now...and are working with a competent trainer, who actually knows what she/he is doing and will give you honest information about the supplements she/he recommends, I think you should go au naturelle for body building.

I did use supplements for a short time. It seemed to enhance my muscle hardness, but in general it was my natural genetics and hard work that got me to the level of a competitive body builder. Now I just go for strength and health.


Chesty Galore asks:

I was wondering whether these exercise would help me in reducing couple of inches of my bustline as without going through surgery, if not then would you please suggest some exercise which would help take couple off inches & build it stronger.

Gypsy replies:

Exercise and proper diet will decrease the fatty tissue in your body, which includes the chest. When I started lifting and kick-boxing, my eating habits changed (exercise often alters your dietary needs) to a lower fat, higher complex carb and protein food intake. Chest exercises will help firm up the chest and combined with reformed eating habits can take off inches.

Chest exercises info:

Chest Exercises
Diet info:
Diet Talk

As far as plastic surgery, I would think twice about that.

The number of plastic surgeons has nearly quadrupled since the 60's. Almost one third of the physicians who practice plastic surgery are board certified in another specialty, or are not board certified at all. To determine whether a surgeon is a board certified in plastic surgery, call the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons of America at (800)635-0635.

The risks of plastic surgery include scarring, severing of nerves, infection, hemorrhage and blockage of a blood vessel in the lung or brain. The last three risks can cause severe impairment and in rare cases even death. Other complications include excessive bleeding during surgery. women who take large amounts of aspiring should stop taking them five to seven days prior to surgery, since the drug interferes with clotting. Also the majority of people who experience skin slough smoked more than one pack of cigarettes per day.

In my opinion I do not see the plus side of exposing ourselves to the additional hazards of unnecessary surgery.

If you are not about to start an exercise program and persevere with assiduous patience surgery is the quick fix, though in order to maintain you will have to exercise even after surgery. I can assure you that with proper diet and a good work out program, if you can set 1 hour a day 3-4 days a week will help you firm up and feel better.

Read my article about body control. I am sure you will find it informative and helpful.

Body Control

Gallahad the Grateful quest-tions:

I feel more confident now that I've found your web site, the way you break it down and explain each exercise, and always reminding those of us who don't know the right way to do them will help me tremendously. I just joined a gym two months ago and unless you have money for a personal trainer you're lost in the sauce. I don't have money for a personal trainer so I just watch what the big boys do and try to imitate them praying that I'm doing the exercise close to right, a lot of them are so stuck on them selves that they are not willing to help the new comer. I will be 51 yrs old next month and I was a little worried about starting so late, but once again thank you for your story and web page you are an angel sent for those like me, I'm going to give my body the work out it was deprived of for so many years.

I will remember to breath, and inhale at the beginning of all exercise. ;-)

Gypsy replies:

I thank you for your kind words. The way I have helped you is just the way I like helping people. There are many ways you can exercise and not spend a fortune doing it. You will also find that in the gym there are savvy people, who will also help you, either as they get to know you and see how hard you work. Observing some of the better lifters and builders (they are usually working hard-especially if they are competitive lifters and builders- and not into themselves as much as you might think, though lifting is more of an individual pursuit than other sports). When I started at the gym, it took a while, but when people so how dedicated I was and how hard I was willing to work the help came out of them. You will find a lot of varied behaviors at the gym, but remember not to make assumptions about why people are behaving the way they do. You should read my article on behavior, I think you will find it amusing as well as give you some insight to the gym society.

Mostly consistent perseverance and hard work, if your willing, is the way to get stronger. There are also things that, once you have grasped the possibilities of form and function of an exercise, you will be able to go off on your own and find your own ways to reach your goals. Start simple and slow and build. Make sure your exercise program includes aerobics and stretching as well as lifting. Check out my stretch column.

I so advise people (especially the ones with testosterone) not to macho out and do things too fast. Compete with yourself, not with the other people around you. See if you do better each time you go to lift. Remember in the end that you are the only one who can motivate yourself to doing things.

Getting stronger will give you a real boost in your day to day life and if you want to participate in group sports you will find after working out for even 6 months you will be able to use your new found strength and endurance for some other sport you might enjoy.

Read my Who Should Pump article. It give all kinds of motivational rationales of why you might want to start an exercise program. If one or more grabs your attention, click on the links and go to the article that you think suits your reasons for pumping.


Motivational Trainer asks:

Thanks for your web page. I browsed through a bit of it, which prompts me to ask a question.

I have been teaching a weight lifting class (for about 6 years now). I live in a small town, with a small town mentality. Even though I have been certifide to teach Aeorbics and Weight Lifting, been mentored by a great Personal Trainer, I am struggling to keep my class afloat! I know that dead lifts and squats are not for beginners, so I always ask my new students to easy does it when they perform these exercises. I encourage my students to start out slow 1 to 3 lbs and to gradually move up. We only meet twice a week, so we do a full body work out. I cycle my routines, and stress safety (as this is what I learned more than anything becoming certifide).

My mom is 69 years young, and boy can she lift! She uses 15 lb dumb bells for chest, back and lightens up for the smaller muscle groups. Although she is very "into" weight lifting, and is a great role model, I cannot motivate other senior women to get out there and pick up the weights. People are always asking me to do an easier class (the older women). I only have 6 committed women, who appreciate weight lifting and are willing to work. I am getting VERY discouraged with these "older" women that refuse to give the class a chance. I have tried to tell them how beneficial weight lifting is, to no avail!

I used to teach aerobics at the nearest gym, their BIG class was 8 or 10 students, so 6 committed students in my small town is very good, but they are not always consistant.

I am trying to do everything possible to encourage these unmotivated ladies, and it does grieve me that they are unhappy with the class because it is "too hard". They blame their aches and pains on my class, and I find it hard to believe that there is any connection (but I am willing to admit fault if indeed it is related to my class).

Any suggestions you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

Gypsy replies:

How nice to get a letter from another trainer/teacher. Besides having been a personal trainer, I have also taught at a local college here in the Twin Cities. I loved my time teaching at McAlester College. I learned a lot about motivation. It was a course for faculty as well as students. The people coming into this course were a captured audience, since it was an elective and they had already motivated themselves to at least show up at class. Sometimes I could gear the class en mass, but often had to select out special methods for individual students.

You sound like you have a wonderful thrust to your lifting classes. Starting slow and using light weights, especially with older people and novices is always a good idea, though some of the young ones can benefit from lessons of patience and perseverance.

Older people tend to make motivational decisions for themselves and very few after 50 can be coerced or even coaxed into doing activities that are not of their choosing. I often gave out handouts to my students of articles I had read and some of my own pages on the web, which I am told are very inspirational. I always give them my Who should Pump column:

This column list all sorts of motivations for pursuing a body building and weight lifting program.

I also bring in books: Such as "Growing Old Is Not For Sissies II (apparently book I is out of publication), which if you go to the bottom of my home page you can order from Amazon.com.

Also bringing in anatomy displays that show musculature and what the muscles are about, always seemed helpful and a primer on movement and muscle growth analysis was always of interest to people.

Also for older people, if they do not wish to get into lifting, I suggest some sort of exercise for those who still wish to be part of the physical world while they are alive. There are so many sports programs out there and strengthening exercises can be done to enhance a person's sports ability. After I started lifting, I got into boxing and bicycling, though for older people some sports are more impacting on the body than others, so choices should be made according to strength of the individual and enjoyment of the sport of choice.

And then there is just for fun type exercise. Walking every day is a good one. Going out dancing. I know a lot of older couples who enjoy that one and it is great exercise. Taking a yoga or ballet class is another alternative. Most of us as we get older like to smell the roses. It is a time for appreciation and savoring the good things in life. We have worked hard and now we want our leisure to be not only healthy, but fun. I have many women and men friends who want to lead a more sedentary life and that is everyone's prerogative, as long as they understand the pluses and minuses involved. I used to bring in a column I wrote for my students about sedentary living and what to expect if you do not wish to exercise at all.

As far as aches and pains of class, remind your students that there are aches and pains all your life to deal with, but if you start an exercise program you will find that those aches and pains will be more in control. When you first start working out (especially for non-athletic people) you will have to put up with a few achy muscles. However if you learn to warm up ( a good stretch program is always recommended before, during and after lifting), you will be less likely to injure yourself or pull a muscle. You might want to read my stretch manual. It give a smattering of stretch exercises and also an understanding of stretching-Stretching is a quiet, easy movement as opposed to lifting, it takes on a non-resistance. I always liked to describe the Stretching/Lifting as a Yin Yang mind set.

Be sure you discuss aches and pains with your class. It is important to understand that aches and pains are inescapable and you must learn how to deal with this whether you exercise or not. I think you will find some useful info on pain in my column An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Pain

The other thing to remember is to have fun. Make the class fun. Tell funny stories (I think of myself sometimes as an exercise comic), make it a group game to do excess. Things like abdominals, of example can be done with a friend.

I always recommend that women especially (women tend to be more self-conscious about gym and exercise, though I suspect this is changing), and older men can enjoy the camaraderie of working and getting stronger together. I always emphasize having a good time doing things, because if it is fun, you are much more likely to come back and do it again. Exercise in different places. When it warms up go outside. Take your class to a weight lifters gym (as opposed to a spa type gym) every once in a while. A good portion of my class was spent in questions and answers and even getting some good info from my students. Trust that people know themselves and help them with the goals they have set for themselves.

You sound like a very conscientious teacher and you love what you do. That in and of itself is motivational. If the teacher is having fun, well maybe it is fun. There is an old saying about leading a horse to water. You can let people know all the good drinking spots, but they have to bend down and do the drinking themselves, so don't be too hard on yourself for not motivating people. Help the ones who ask you to the best you can and keep emphasizing the joy of having a healthy fit and capable body. Remember that feeling good is essential to a happy healthy life.

If you can help someone be happy with themselves, even just six someone's, you are doing your work of being you sisters and brothers keeper. Level with your students about moving it or losing it and have them set their own goals. Remind them that if you only work out once a week, you will always be recuperating from muscle soreness, but a regular (3 days a week at minimum) 20-40 minute workout, depending on time and inclination is much more beneficial and the endorphins will take care of the pain.

I hope this was helpful. Let me know if there is anything else and I will try to help. The personal training business is hard. You have to be ready to promote yourself at every turn. This is hard since there is a fine line between ego and egotism. If you cannot satisfy your students with what you have, you may want to suggest other ways to maintain their bodies strength and agility. Don't make your profession a religion. Though you like what you are doing and feel it would benefit others, do not force your way on others, especially the older we get the less we like to be told what to do.

Always remember that there are other ways to fulfillment. Do not feel shy about suggesting them. You may lose a student, but you have helped someone out.


Eating Disorder asks:

My name is Louise, I was wondering if you could help me. You see over the last couple of years Iíve had to deal with a lot of stuff, which has taken its toll of my mental state. I began secluding myself at home, did nothing all day long except use food as an emotional crutch, which quickly turned into a binge eating disorder. Before I could even bring myself to admit I had a problem Iíd gained 2 stones (28lbs). During this time I was constantly abusing laxatives, drinking a mug of vinegar then a mug of milk in the hope that it would curdle in my stomach and either have the same effects as laxatives or cause me to vomit. Iíd spend hours exercising after a binge. My dad could no longer leave alcohol unlocked because Iíd drink a lot very fast in the hope to vomit, mainly because for some reason I couldnít throw up no matter how hard I tried. Since I admitted I had a problem mainly to myself I was able to take control and I managed to lose 12 lbs. After I reached 12 lbs. I found it very difficult to lose anymore than 12 lbs. no matter how hard I tried which just caused me to fall back into my old weighs. At the present time I donít go a day without a headache or a severe stomach. I hate myself for what Iím doing but I hate my body even more. The reason Iím contacting you is because I really want to get some help at a centre such as yours. I realise that living in England its a bit of a travel but please could you send me some information about the financial aspects of getting your treatment.

Gypsy replies:

The first thing I would like to say is that just the fact that you have recognized your problem is a terrific start. Many people are not even aware of what is bothering them and what they are doing to alleviate their discomforts.

Emotional crutches are solutions, but they are always temporary solutions and the bigger picture has to be taken into account. At some point crutches have to be thrown away and we have to learn to walk on our own two feet.

I do not run a clinic. I have taught and trained people in the health and fitness field and am semi-retired, at 58 years of age from that particular aspect of health and fitness, however I have written several articles based on my studies and experience that may be of interest to you.

I do not know exactly the events that led up to your "mental state." I know there are many stressful thing that are dealt out to us as we live. Some are the general day to day problems to be solved, which can like drops of water on our head can eventually make us feel a bit "nutty" to say the least and we need ways of dealing with our daily struggles. Then there are truly the larger occurrences that leave us almost numb and transport us to a surreal part of our mind. These too must be dealt with in the long run. The article on stress will give you some insight as to ways of dealing which you have not thought of. Living in a stressful society subjects us to daily assaults on our psyches. This can lead to muscle tension, headaches, back aches, stomach problems and other problems that overcontracted muscles due to stress can cause. Exercise is a wonderful treatment for depression for this reason. Runners and joggers get "runners high" which increases a natural narcotic-like painkiller in our blood-endorphins. Overdoing exercise is not a good idea-there are withdrawal symptoms, but a regular exercise program or just doing something physical every day for an hour will help rejuvenate your mind and body. Doing this with other people can even make it more fun.

Food and drugs, for most of us at one time or another, has been used to numb or deny our feelings, to comfort our souls or to give our lives some meaning and order. Almost everyone at one time or another has binged or felt nauseous, when we get scared, depressed, angry, lonely or sad. When we let food and drugs, become the exclusive outlet for handling our feelings, we risk self-destruction to ourselves, both physically and emotionally. Learning other ways to deal with repressed emotions can eliminate our need to abuse ourselves with food and drugs. Building self-esteem, developing a sense of control over our lives and receiving support from others is a good start to recovery. Read these two articles on diet and body control. I think you will find them informative and helpful.

When you get a chance, you will find the two articles listed below a good guide for mental roads toward your goals of recovery. How we behave behind our struggles can often help or hinder us in our search for answers. One of the things I always remember that no matter what magic feather you choose to aid you in regaining your health and fitness, as our former President Ronald Regan's wife Nancy talking about drug addiction, saying that you should just say "NO". Though many people laughed at her seemingly simplistic, philosophy, I for one saw the basic wisdom in her advice. Because in the end that is what the bottom line is: You have to decide how you will behave behind your problems. So enlist all the people you can find who are willing to help you, check out women's organizations in your area, take support whenever it is offered, find a health club or start your own exercise program, change your dietary habits, but in the end it is your body and your mind and you have to deal with it.

And don't forget that you have the right to feel good.

I truly hope this was helpful. Let me know and if there is anything else you wish to ask, please feel free to write again.


Trainer writes:

My name is Dusty Miller and I'm a Physical Training Instructor in the Royal New Zealand Navy (small country below Australia, no we're not part of Australia) 3 million people 2000 in the Navy we have 3 frigates. I maintain peoples fitness and train personnel in the Navy on anything to do with Physical Training.

I am on a course at the moment and it is very intense with assignments and studies on Physiology. One of my assignments is a Kinesiology assignment on the One Arm Tri-cep Extension behind head. I have to provide a quantitive anaylysis on the exercise. So far I have taken a video, photo's (correct and normal person carrying out exercise) would you be able to help me on some information on a few things as I'm quite stuck on it, as I don't fully understand Kineseology and Biomechanics in the space of 1 month that we've had to learn it. (Very hard for a Rugby Union player.)

In the assignment I have to do a check list of:

So far I understand a wee bit I'm really stuck on the Muscular Analysis eg. anconius, biceps seratus anterior, detoids what they all do and the Biomechanical Principles, also a few of the faults and an alternative exercise for less stress would be the Tri-cep push down I'm guessing.

If anyone would be able to help me with the points mentioned above I'd appreciate it very much.

Gypsy replies:

As with any particular study, Kineseology (study of movement) has some defining terms, that you must be familiar with since you have had some study. I will assume you know terms such as extension, dorsiflexion, flexion, plantarflexion, adduction, abduction,circumduction, rotation, supination, pronation, inversion, eversion. These are all terms of movement and I will be glad to, if you don't know already to explain any or all of these terms, but I am assuming you have some knowledge of this, since it is your field of study.

Mechanics of movement involve the relationships of fulcrum (joint), effort (muscle) and resistance (weight). Skeletal muscles use simple machines - levers - for increasing the efficiency of their contractile work about a joint. Mechanically, the degree of muscular effort required to overcome resistance to movement at a joint (fulcrum) depends upon the force of the resistance (weight) and the relative distances from the anatomical fulcrum to the anatomical places of muscular exertion and places of resistance. These positions of the joint relative to the site of the muscle pull and the site of imposed load determines the class of lever system that is used. If you want a breakdown of lever classes, I will be happy to do that, though I am not sure how much biomechanics you really have to know for what you are doing. Do you want info on neuromuscular junctions and motor units?

Remember when the integration of muscle action takes place, skeletal muscles contract (shorten), a joint is moved and two bones come closer together, isometric contraction expected. Muscles pull, they never push. The muscle attachment at the fixed bone is the origin, the attachment at the moving bone is the insertion. In complex movements where it is difficult to identify the fixed bone, the origin of the muscle is the more proximal attachment.. When a muscle contracts across a joint, the other muscles crossing that joint are affected. No one muscle acts alone in joint movement. In flexion of the elbow joint for example biceps contract while triceps is stretched. Conversely in elbow extends triceps is contracted and the biceps are stretched. In neutral, all muscles are at rest (relaxed). Tense or contracted muscles can often be relaxed by gentle stretching.

The triceps are the principle extensor - the muscles that straighten a joint from its relaxed position - and is made up of the three headed triceps brachii (arm) which has a massive tendon of insertion. The smaller anconeus assists in this function. Triceps is a powerful antagonist to elbow receptors.

The main problem with tricep extensions is using improper or sloppy form. Allowing elbow drifts from intended positions against the side of the head, allowing the deltoid and serratus muscles to synergistically assist in moving the weight. Done right however this does force the longhead of the triceps into wondrously effective action.

Pushdowns involve the lateral and medial heads of the triceps. The long inner head also works, but since it is not prestretched. It produces tepid primary force during the movement and most of the work is taken up by the two outer heads.

Check out my exercises on triceps and read the A HREF=http://www.dreamagic.com/gypsy/triex.html#tricep2>explanations and warnings and forms of doing exercises.

A better exercise is the cable push, which employs using a flat bench lengthwise in front of a high cable and kneeling with a curly bar attachment placed at the forehead with elbows bent and extending arms out full reach till parallel with the floor.

The main flexors of the elbow joint are brachaialis and biceps brachii. The brachialis has the best mechanical advantage, though in my experience everyone loves the pump (you know the ones that make the boys and girls go ooooooh). The tendon of the biceps inserts at the tuberosity of the radius, making the muscle a supinator (the muscle that allows external rotation) of the forearm. With the limb supinated the bicep works to full flexion of the elbow. If you take away the flexion of the pronated elbow the bicep "look" will be disappointing.

Check out bicep exercises with explanations. Those seratus anteriors those leafy muscles that extend across our ribs (I always liked to think of them as rib ticklers) are the muscles of scapular stabilization. The scapula lies on the posterior thorax. It has no direct bony attachment with the axial skeleton. Covered with muscle, it moves smoothly over the layers of the fibrous connective tissue of the thorax during upper limb movement. The muscles and mechanics involved in scapular movement are the pectoralis minor in protraction of the scapula, like the irresistible force pushing against the immovable object. The seratus anterior also play a large role in rotator cuff movement involving the SITS. Pushing forward with arms outstretched or reaching upwards, puts these muscles into play and any abdominal exercises, should always have some concentration on the seratus (twisting exercises).

Check out abdominals. There are some nice serratus exercises in there. The deltoids, the main muscles of the shoulder, are characterized by the multipennate (the plumed or feather like grouping) form of construction, a broad origin and an amazingly short arm lever, create a powerful mover of the humerous in flexion, extension and abduction.

As far as I can tell Newton's Law of Gravity (the force that draws all bodies in earth's sphere toward the center of the earth) and the Law of Inertia (things at rest remain at rest, things that move tend to keep moving unless some outside force is exerted), would apply to any movement or exercise. The influences I can only deduce, since in fact I have not read up on it as to its influence on any particular type of exercise, would require one performing any exercise to have an innate understanding of being grounded and a concept of doing exercises conscienciously and smoothly. For instance as far as gravity: being centered before lifts, balance, understanding weight and movement (the more the resistance on a body the more strength has to be applied of move that weight). As for Inertia: the importance of smooth transitions, from start to finish of an exercise, the importance of proper form to be used so as to minimize injuries.

As a Rugby player, I am sure that you know that you are primarily training for strength. Putting emphasis on certain muscle major muscle groups, such as shoulder girdle, back, hips and legs are helpful, but the other body parts should not be neglected. Forearm and hand work can be done indirectly through the bench press, albeit a chest exercise, just by gripping the bar. Work those abdominals. Nothing like a solid strength base to increase endurance. Work them during warm-up and cooling down. For flexibility, I would recommend a full session of stretching, paying attention to the leg biceps and shoulders. There is a quite adequate stretch manual that may be of some help.

Your aim should be to strengthen all muscle groups and to develop muscle balance.


Triceps writes:

I have a question concerning the triceps. First I'm getting a little mixed - up on the terminology: lateral, medial, long heads and also outer, inner upper heads etc.

I'd like to develop what I believe is called the lateral head, (the head on the outside of the arm when arm is at rest hanging down). It seems that no matter which exercise I do that I'm developing the large head that goes from the inside of the elbow up the base of my rear deltoid. I'm looking more for definition than mass and maybe some sign of the lateral head. Can you help?

Gypsy replies:

The term lateral in anatomy (which is what lifters generally refer to when learning about muscles) refers to a structure that is further away from the "median plane" than another structure in the body.

The medial head is a structure closer to the "median plane" than any other structure in the body. The median plane is the midline, longitudinal plane dividing the head and torso into right and left halves. So basically our spine is like the line that divides our torso in half, so you could say it runs along the median plane.

With this picture in mind you can see that the lateral head of the triceps is on the outer part further away from the median plane than the medial head which is closer to the torso, thus closer to the medial plane. Remember that medial and median are not synonymous.

The principle extensor of the elbow is the triceps brachii (made up of the three heads: long (inner), medial and lateral (outer) and has large tendon of insertion. When body builders work on their triceps, for looks, they try to get an affect between the three heads around the tendon of insertion that is called a "horseshoe" effect. Triceps are a powerful antagonist to the elbow flexors.

The upper or lower (in anatomy is referred to as superior or inferior) is a relative term as which is closer to the head/closer to the feet or higher lower than another structure. So the long head of the triceps is upper to the medial head (and reversed if the medial head is the structure being initially referred to) and the lateral head is the upper structure from the supinators of the lower forearm.

Got it!!

Now having told you all this, I don't know if you have a clearer picture, but if you are not planning on being schooled in lifting and building or if you are not planning on being a trainer, the only good this jargon will do you, is to sound pedantically superior to the person who just wants to get strong or have the "body beautiful".

As to the other part of your query: Check out my tricep exercises. Most exercises that you pick out, if done with good form and consistent intensity of work, will give you desired results in that nice look (I love that horseshoe look of the tricep muscle).

Most of the tricep exercises you find there if done right will enhance those triceps.

The tricep pushdowns will do some nice work on the lateral and medial heads (acts upon the elbow).

There are also some cable pushes you can do kneeling by a flat bench with your elbow on the bench (I do not have a demo, but will try to give you a verbal picture.

Place your flat bench side-ways in front of a high pulley. Hold the attached bar with hands 6" apart. Face away from the machine. Press the cable out in a semicircular motion until arms are extended out in front parallel to floor. Return to starting position and repeat. Remember to use the same intensity from start to finish. This is an effective exercise for the triceps because of the superior stretch that the long heads get (the inside head that spans both elbow and shoulder joint).

All tricep presses should be performed properly (the elbow should remain fixed and still while the extension is being done) or it will only be somewhat effective, because of loss of isolation. Dips that are weighted and done on a flat bench are very popular, though stress is borne by the front (anterior) deltoids and this does take away somewhat from being a tricep builder. I did find free-style tricep dips using the parallel bars and holding for a few seconds on the extension and intensely and slowly lowering myself was quite effective.

I hope this info was helpful. Don't worry too much what things are called.

If you work hard and steady and are patient, you will develop your triceps.

I do hope you are not just into working your arms. Your back, shoulders, legs and abdominals all contribute to a pleasing, symmetrical body look.

And you want to try to maintain equal strength throughout your body.

Injuries often occur when you over compensate one muscle group for another.


Free Weight or Free Love? writes:

I am 56, 5ft 4in. tall. Weigh a little under 140. I returned to college last quarter. While there I took an aerobic weight circuit class. This is not the first time I have taken weight training but it had been at least 10 years since last time. I had traditionally been in good shape, having co-owned a fishing vessel with my husband, and fishing commercially for many years. I am amazed how easy it was to digress.

The reason I was looking up information was for a test we took today on what free weights to do for what mussels. I knew the answers for the machines we use in the gym but did not have a clue about what to do for free weights. Your information saved the day for me and I did very well on the test today. Thank You.

I am interested in the information you have on your web site about so many things. I have not read them all yet. I printed out many of them, I am reading them as time allows. I really like what you have to say. Very interesting topics. Interesting insights into life, love etch. (My husband pointed out your seeming approval of affairs, something I have not been very tolerant of.) I interpreted it a little differently.

My concern is that none of the entries are current. The muscle of the month has not had anything new for a long time. I hope I have not found you after you have stopped wanting to communicate to the rest of the world.

Gypsy replies:

I am so glad I was able to be of service to you and I thank you for your kind words.

I love working with free weights and now since I do my workouts at home I use them exclusively. They are so nice for spot work and they have so much more flexibility than machines. Between free weights, a step aerobic regimen and a pull up bar across my doorway, my husband and I have found that we can keep in shape quite adequately. That and walking back and forth to work (neither of us drives...yes we are an anachronism), we stay quite fit.

As far as my "approval" of extra-marital affairs, I think your husband, for whatever reason read something that wasn't there. I do not feel that I am in such a position about other people's lives. The section on THE LOVERS in my article on marriage should be re-read:

Elementary, My Dear Watson! Love and Marriage = Horse and Carriage

What I do in general disapprove of, especially with people one claims to love and has made commitments to is the lies and deceptions that often go along with this "extra" activity. Since different relationships tolerate different modes of behavior between couples (and may I add other family members and friends who also may be affected by the "extra" activities), I advise honesty about these things. Just because we are married or even madly in love, does not stop our draws to other people for sexual, intellectual and social reasons. These draws are not volitional. They often come out of the blue when we least expect it. What is volitional is our behavior behind our feelings. If couples are comfortable with making decisions to "share" their attention with others, then more power to them. If it is done openly and with mutual consent then that is their business. The problem also occurs as far as time and attention and as in my husband's and my case, we've spent a lot of time raising children and working and giving attention to each other so that sort of cuts a lot of that desire to "just talk". I mean when I see another elegant, sexy man, (my husband is definitely one of the sexiest men I've ever met and elegant and intelligent to boot) who takes my breath away, I can say, "Honey there is a man who gets my juices going and if my life weren't so happy and dedicated to you and the family, I might give him a tumble." And he can look at a woman and say "Sweetheart, that woman sure does have a nice ass and tits (he always adds not as nice as yours), what do you think? And often I agree, especially if she looks a lot like me. My personal feeling is that "extra" sex adds "extra" headaches to one's life and if your life is healthy and happy it seems an unnecessary "extra". Most divorces seem to happen, not because of the "affair", but because of the lack of communication and depth of deception.

Well that's what I have to say about that.

As far as my work on the web, I am now working a lot of hours out of the house and spending more of my time with my husband (he had a heart attack a while back and though he is alright, it was sort of a wake up call on our priorities), family and leisure enjoyments (bike riding, walking, and making love). What I have put on the Web is a labor of love and I would enjoy continuing it and may in the future. I am a fount of information and I do pass it on to the many people who write to me. I would like to put on more exercises, especially those that can be done at home (I get lots of questions about that) and more info on the other subjects I have written about. I am always happy to answer questions of my fans, If you have any or know people who want some answers, let them know. I have a lot of resources and much experience that I would love to impart. I am connected with other health and fitness professionals and medical professionals, including one or our daughters, who I know I can count on for honest and succinct medical advice if needed. I also glean from the experiences of others, so if you or any of your associates have any advice. demos or info that might help my readers, I would be glad to put it into my column and give them credit for their page as I do on my "show biz" page. As you see, I let people demo and write their own promotional blurb as well as give information. Though I may edit some things for brevity or grammatical and spelling content, I always give people the last okay before I put them up. I would gladly start doing this on my other pages.

"Show" Business


Needs Motivation asks:

I'm going to be in my nieces' wedding at the end of may, 2001, with quite a few 'young' gals. (23 & younger) I'm almost 40 years old, about 5'1-5'2, and weigh about 150 lbs. I 'did' make up my mind to 'start again' yesterday, with a no/low fat diet (there's very few meats I care for) & peddled my exercise bike for 30 & 35 minutes both nights, and lifted a few weights tonight, especially for the arms. Any motivation, helpful exercises, tips to 'sticking with it' would be so appreciated. I am married and have 3 children in different activities, and a full-time job outside the home. I feel like a 'loser' when I say, "I am too tired" to exercise at nite. Some nites are so-o-o hectic, and the last thing I feel like doing is working out at 9 or 10 at nite, as I have to get up, at the latest, by 4:30 am, and I'm one of those who needs 8-9 hours of sleep to feel human. I also have arthritis in my back and hands/arms, so lifting weights is very painful at times. I want so much to look good for her wedding and...for myself. Can you help me with some encouragement? Gypsy replies:

Check out my article on diet. It gives some good information and I believe a sensible approach to eating.

Fatty-Fatty Two-By-Four Can't Get Through the Bathroom Door

Then go to my muscle of the month page and check out the exercises for various parts of the body.

Muscle of the Month

Having done that, you have plenty of time until May, given that you have already motivated yourself toward a goal. Remember that what you have with maturity that those (23 and under) younger than you lack is a certain amount of calm. Although us 40 something's and older have moment of "panic " we also have learned the "this too shall pass" philosophy. This mentality is definitely an advantage. With intelligence and perseverance and keeping in mind that "shit happens", you can succeed in the areas you focus on. I never thought at the age of 50, I would get into weight lifting and building, but I did and became a teacher and personal trainer. Now I am maintaining a popular web site and get many wonderful letters of encouragement and queries from people like you, who I attempt to help with the info I have garnered over the last decade.

Remember your mind controls your body and your behavior. Your feelings start in your brain. You also seem to have a very busy schedule and like most people, you have to allocate and prioritize your activities. The problem with working out one day a week, even if you spend a long time at it is that you will always be sore. So it is better to fit 20 minutes every other day into your schedule, than trying to do too much in too few hours. You must decide when the best time for you to do it. It is difficult to do more work after you have been doing work all day. I eventually went to an early morning plan of a combo of step aerobics and lifting, while doing step. You do not have to use heavy weights. You can even use no weight at all. Just get all parts of your body moving in full movement exercising. You can also do things through the day, like arm and wrist rotations. Stretching is also a good thing to do during the day, when you are feeling tense or stiff. Check out the stretch manual I have placed on my site. You may find something in there to your liking. Remember stretches should be done slowly and with no tension.

They Told Me I Looked Like Arnold Schwarzenegger, But I Thought That A Bit of a Stretch

If you can't find 20 minutes 3 days a week, then try to keep conscious of this throughout your day. Run up stairs. Walk faster rather than ambling along. Move your body parts as you are doing things. Lift with your legs, not your back. I know from experience that moving the parts of your body that hurt can help arthritic and general daily joint ache. After a while the pain will go away. Get to know the difference between the general "pain" of life and serious injury. The article on pain and injury is a good one. So if you get a chance read it:

An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Pain

As far as looking good, I always have found that I look as good as I feel. If I'm feeling happy and on top of the world, I exude a good look. At our age, we deserve some feel good fun in our lives. We owe it to ourselves and if you can't find time to do anything else, may sure you find time every day to give yourself a good feeling about your life. Here's one that you might enjoy reading:

I Feel Good! DA DA DA DA DA DA...You Know That I Should!

Remember that life is short and beautiful if you stop and smell the roses. So have fun.


Menopause Madness complains:

I will be 52 in 2 weeks. Some days I feel fine, some days I feel terrible. I have been working out with a personal trainer (free weights mostly ) for 4.5 years, plus once a week at home. I have been in dozens of mid-distance road races, I hike, swim, do yoga. AND I STILL FEEL AWFUL! Fitness helps, but it doesn't cure everything. Today, I have the day off, (from work) and am going on a long hike with my much-younger brother and two rambunctious dogs.

I'm having hot flashes as I sit here typing, my stomach aches and headaches never seem to end. But I am not giving up!!!! how little I do in comparison to my younger years: so what!!! At least I'm moving. My husband calls me the "silver fox" because of my naturally greying hair. Cute? I guess so.

Gypsy replies:

If you haven't already, read these three articles in my column. I think you will find them informative, interesting and fun.

  1. Whatever Shall I Do? - Wherever Shall I Go?
  2. Just When I Think I Know Where It's At, Some Body Moves It
  3. I Feel Good! DA DA DA DA DA DA...You Know That I Should!
Every stage has its problems. My youngest daughter was an athlete and throughout her young life she had aches pains and what we called "owies". We even had an owie time, where she could tell us about it all. However in the end she had to deal with it. It is fairly normal to have aches and pains as we get old even if we have never had them as children. I did not have a very painful childhood, but like you find myself dealing with periodic headaches, backaches and varying discomforts. I also, like you, keep active and have a loving husband and wonderful children and grandchildren who make my life more than just plain and ordinary.

Everyday I wake up and am thankful for all of my family and friends. I try not to whine, though I do let them know if I am feeling more under par than usual.

I have learned to cherish the part of life that pleases and not dwell on the part that is uncomfortable.

You are right, we do change along with the changing world around us and though, some things have gone by the by, other things have emerged. I know more, I am wiser, I am definitely mellower and have learned the pleasures of smelling the roses and watching the clouds roll by as well as keeping active. If you truly feel you are chronically ill, get a check-up from your medical practitioner of choice. I, myself, try to stay away from doctors, but if you do seek out medical advice, get the test results and show them to several other sources. Do not accept just one opinion, even if it is a "doctor". I have a daughter who practices medicine and though I trust that she will give us the best answers to our medical questions she can, she is still just another person, and one beloved of her family and subject to mistakes.

If you enjoy reading there are some wonderful books. One is Susun S. Weed's "Menopausal Years-The Wise Woman Way." If you check out the bottom of my site you will find you can order it from Amazon. com. I found it to be one of those nice combinations of the practical and spiritual. Also, though I don't have it listed yet amongst my favorites, you might want to take a gander at "Growing Old Is Not For Sissies I and II. One of my daughter's gave it to me as a Christmas present and I often used it in my health and fitness classes that I taught to older people.

Well sister, there you go. I do love hearing from the older wiser women of our society. You have just started. There are many more changes to see and experience as my woman friends who are in their eighties tell me. One of the women I worked with who is 86 and still ticking despite Pagets disease, says never worry about forgetting as long as you can remember you are not alone. I love my older women friends. They give me hope that I am still worthwhile to my society and will not ever be ready to be put out on that ice floe, until my last breath. We have so much to offer and I know many young people who are seeking our wisdom. I work with them and grandmother them and we teach each other. They keep me aware of what is to come and I guide them with what was and will always be- the knowledge that life finds a way and if they can't be smart enough to be happy then what will it be worth in the end.

Gravity Griper complains:

Ok, here's every mother's complaint. I've had three kids and yes, the bust is drooping. The best exercise I saw on the site for that seemed to be the cable crossover, but I don't have access to fitness equipment--is there a way to do this with dumbells?

Gypsy replies:

Check out some of the other chest exercises like the varous bench presses that Keith demos on the site.

I agree cables are superb, but with patience and persistence using the dumbells and barbells will work just as well. A flat surface board (padded) that you can create a flat bench out of will work: an incline or decline ability, while doing these exercises, will help you develop the full pectoral area. I also developed an exercise using dumbbells that emulates the pec deck (see pec dec exercise on site). Sit on a straight back chair and hold dumbbells up with on either side with elbows bent and arms forming right angel from shoulder. Press toward chest as you would using the pec dec machine(once again check pec dec exercise), only use your own body tension for resistence. This takes a certain amount of shoulder strength, but I suggest using light weights (3-8lbs depending on what you can handle).All chest exercises should start out with tension being put on the pectorals before and during the completion of the exercise. Read the info about how to work the chest in general. Do work slowly and intensely, concentrating on the muscle tha is being worked. Maintaining correct form will be the most productive way to reach your goal. The idea is to build up the muscle around the breast area, since the breast itself is made of fatty tissue and not muscle. You will notice a change in your drooping breasts. Don't expect bullet boobs, but by strengthening the muscles around the breasts you will find a lot more support.


Leggy Lifter asks:

Thank you so much for your helpful written exercises. (An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Pain). They seem to be easy to do, so I will start doing them immediately after I finish this letter to you. There is one thing though I don't fully understand, please explain to me in more detail what you meant by "do toe lifts and seated lifts in turned out foot positions". Thanks a million!

Gypsy replies:

Toe lifts are just rising up from your toes with straight leg and coming back down. To intensify this you can hold weights in your hand and place a raised board (a 2 x 4 board works fine) on the floor about 2 feet away from a wall. Stand erect with the balls of your feet on the board. With your back straight, knees locked and head up, keep your balance by placing hands on the wall (unweighted) or if you feel you can keep balance hold a weight in each hand. Raise up on your toes as high as possible. Try not to sway back and forth. Hold your position and then return to start. You can do this either with both feet together or put one foot against the opposite heel (one hand can balance you on the wall and the other you can hold a weight in your hand) and then repeat on other side. A seated raise can be done by placing a raised board on the floor about a foot away from the end of a bench on which you are seated. Rest dumbbells (plates may be easier to balance on upper legs so try it both ways)on each thigh about 2-3 inches above knee (a barbell will work too and weights can be added to the ends of barbell). With balls of feet on the board raise up on toes as high as possible and then return to starting position If you go to a gym, they may have a calf machine with pads that fit on your shoulder and weights that can be adjusted to your ability to lift them. Some gyms also have seated toe lift chairs, where you can rest a pad a little above the knee and put plates on the apparatus and do lifts.

As far as turnout. You can turn your feet out to the sides or pigeon toe them in. With your feet turned out to the sides (if you look at a ballet book, it is what is called second position stance), you will work your inner calf and thigh muscle, if you pigeon toe in you will work your outer thigh or calf muscle. Keeping your feet straight ahead catches the center muscles of calf and thigh.


Pectoral Ponderer queries:

I would like to know what effect building my pectoral muscles will have on lifting my breasts. I have been told that "yes" this will help and that "no" this will not help This just depends on whom I ask. I am not looking for the miracle cure, but I would like to have a realistic idea of what kind of results can be expected or hoped for. Your assistance will help ease a worried and uneasy mind. I want a really good body and I would like for that to also include breasts that do not sag.

Gypsy replies:

Yes building your pecs will raise your breasts to some extent. I have what is considered large breasts (a D size bra - a DD when I was a nursing mother). Depending how big you are, how old you are and how hard you are ready to work will determine how much of an uplift you will get. My tits have lifted a bit. My nipples no longer point down to the floor. However, I do not have those perky teenage breasts that I had before nursing children. My breasts also shrink when I diet down. Like I said, I do not have those bullet boobs, however by doing pec dec work and various angles of bench presses I have gained cleavage as well as muscularity. I am very happy with my looks at 54 years of age, but the happiness comes from feeling strong and fit and having a loving family with a wonderful man in my life who would love me even if my tits dragged the floor.

So there you have it! It is a yes and no kind of situation. If this is not satisfactory and you go the implant route - Be careful! Be very very careful!! Check out those pec exercises at Daughter to Father: Does That Mean We Can't Get Married, Have Children And Go On the Oprah Show?


Workout Wonderer asks:

I was wondering how often do I do these exercises. Everyday, three days, a week, every other day???

Gypsy replies:

Three days a week is just fine. Less than that you may find yourself sore every time you go to exercise. Of course the intensity and amount of days you work your muscle groups will determine how fast or slow you build. However three days a week will certainly work your muscles. Remember to stretch before and after and during workouts and if you do not work your weights aerobically, find some aerobics to do 3-4 days a week, 20-30 minutes a session..

Workout Wonderer asks again:

Thank You very much for the reply but I have just one question: I was, before this advise, working abs everyday, Mon thru Fri. Was I over-working the abs? I was doing that for over 2 months and I saw almost no results. Gypsy replies:

You discovered ab burn-out the same way I did. In fact many people, who work out, do not realize that your muscles need rest to grow and if you do not give them that rest they will do just the opposite of what you want- Fatigue. Also vary the type of ab work you do. It will catch different parts (eg. cable abs, floor abs, knee ups etc.) of your abdominals. Be sure to do serratus (upper side abdominals) obliques ( below the serratus side abdominals). Concentrate on the part of the abdominal your working and work it slow and intense, so you can feel the resistance.Mother Nature - Mother Love - Mother of Invention - Mother Fucker - Mother of Us All - Yo' Mama


Home Alone asks:

I am fifty-one and work out regularly on a Schwinn Airdyne. It's ok but I am interested in resistance training. I prefer to work at home rather than a gym. Any advice on equipment??

Gypsy replies:

I fully understand your desire to work out at home. My husband who is 60, works out on a program I set up for him. I have him using free weights for resistance and he does step aerobics (less impacting than most aerobics) for endurance. This is cheap and doesn't take up much space, plus it does the job. He is getting stronger and feels better.

I do recommend free weights since they are cheaper and designed for multiple movement rather than single movement as is the case with machines (stairmaster, treadmills, cycles, climbers). For the same cost you can buy a good bench with leg extension device and enough free weights to do hundreds of movements. You might want to check out papers for good used equipment. Some local fitness stores will be a good source of equipment and info. You can also have some equipment built. You do not need a large investment-just a few freeweights and the self-motivation to start you off.

Start with a standard 110 lb Barbell/Dumbbell set (with leg extension attachment and adjustable back): One 60" x 1" barbell; Two 14" x 1" Dumbbell bars; Four 10 lb plates; Six 5 lb. plates and; collars for barbells and dumbbells. For additional needs you may want to invest in two 25 lb. plates. Invest in a good set and it will make your workouts more enjoyable. Machine holed plates are of higher quality than those with cast holes-easier handling. Chrome bars are the best and will last a lifetime. Chrome squeeze grips will make changing weights easier and quicker.

One piece of advice: If you are just starting to lift, you may want to invest in a supervised training session. This way you will get good tips on training and perhaps help in designing a good lifting program. Also remember that push-ups, pull-ups (a bar across the doorway is what I have at home) and some tricep dips using a sturdy chair will also help build muscle mass. Running will build up quads and even flat bench leg curls with ankle weights can strengthen those hamstrings.

You do not have to spend lots of money to stay strong and healthy.

Montreal Golfer asks:

I was wondering what exercises would you recommend for tendonitis in the shoulder. I started doing some weight training last November, but after about a month, raising my arm to put on a shirt was painful. The doctor gave me a cortisone shot and it's a bit better but not 100%. Are there exercises to help or should I just not do weights. I play a lot of golf in summer and do not want to make it worse. Do you have any suggestions?

Gypsy replies:

Tendon injuries are different than muscles. Tendons are tough, fibrous and inelastic. They also have very little blood circulation. This makes tendons really tough to heal. With tendon injuries, repetitive motion can cause more irritation and should be avoided. In my article on injury, An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Pain, you will find a section on ligament and tendon injuries. Check it out and read the whole article for a general overview of dealing with injury. In my muscle of the month (Muscle of the Month) column you will find some good shoulder exercises to be started only after the swelling and pain go down. Mild stretching before and after exercising will help too.See They Told Me I Looked Like Arnold Schwarzenegger, But I Thought That A Bit of a Stretch

Golf is a rotary activity, so when you get back into full swing (no pun intended) remember to concentrate on exercises that empathize rotary movement of the trunk and forearms (torso twists, wrist curls, lying leg crossovers,low back extensions etc). Calisthenics and swinging a weighted club are good ways to increase strength. Though a relatively new concept for most golfers, weight training will be helpful for improving strength and flexibility on the links.

You will find some more info on tendon injuries in my advice section in these other query/answers and


You may send your comments and suggestions to Gypsy --- The Gift of Youth via electronic mail by sending email to:

gypsy@dreamagic.com (Gypsy)


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