Monday, December 31, 2012

Motivational Monday

Happy New Year to everyone!! It's been a great year and I appreciate all your support as I dive into this world of writing/blogging.
I will try to pump out more good stuff in the coming year and I hope you will all enjoy it.

Final motivational Monday of 2012

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” – Carl Bard

Start the new year off right!! Make your own ending!

2013 is going to be an awesome positive year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Fridays Favorites!!

Almost the new year so here are some great articles to get you jump started for 2013.

Nutrition broken down. Because it's all about nutrition. You can't out train a bad diet!

Lower your blood pressure without pills. Why go the med route when there's natural options

It's studies like these that send the wrong message. And I love the response

Hope for the best, expect the worst. Manage your expectations.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!!

Enjoy the holiday!! Thank you to all that have been following and reading this site. I appreciate all the support!!

Happy to get a copy of Exuberant Animal: The Power of Health, Play and Joyful Movement. Looking forward to reading through it.
And The Walking Dead graphic novels.

Most of all I loved watching my son on Christmas, even though he has no clue whats going on this year.

Hope Santa was nice to everyone else!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Motivation Monday

The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” – Steve Jobs

I love what I do!! I love challenging people everyday and I love helping people realize their goals and getting them there.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Fridays Favorite Things

Heres an interesting test to predict how well you move. Do you move well? Some flaws as it doesnt account for people with sports injuries and such. But interesting none the less

8 ways to improve your life.

If you're taking care of everyone else, whos taking care of you?

Carbs are not evil!!! They are a necessary macro nutrient. Just don't abuse them


Now I know you were probably expecting some sort of review on the popular workout DVD's, but I'm totally going to go in a different direction.  This is more personal, and focuses on you as a person.  What today's post revolves around is 90 things that you want to accomplish this month.  Its about making a list of things you've put off, maybe for months, that need to get done.  We all have these little to major things that you want done, but for one reason or another, they get put off, delayed, and never accomplished. 

I had this concept presented to me by a current training client during the month of December.  She has always talked about positive things like this since I've been training her, and it has a lot to do with the Wisdom courses she takes.  Any time she attends a Wisdom weekend, or a has a conference call with other like-minded individuals, there's always more great ideas coming from her.  Just looking at the website for the Wisdom courses gets you thinking about life. 

Wisdom Unlimited is designed for those interested in growth and development
as an ongoing part of their lives. It is for those who want their lives to be as
great as they can be, to live as productive members of a community,
to grow in wisdom, to develop themselves in ways that
open up new avenues of exploration in living full, contributing, and happy lives.
That is all positivity right there.  Its all about being a better YOU.  

Anyway, her concept and her list for December got me thinking about what I would like to accomplish starting in January.  At first it seems so daunting to come up with 90 things.  10, maybe 20 seems so doable, but 90?  So I'm currently in the midst of creating my list of 90 things.  I may post it so that I am held accountable to all those that read this, but I may hold onto it and keep it private.  I haven't decided yet. 

My list got me thinking about what people do January 1st, and their New Years Resolutions.  There's always the typical "get to the gym," "go on a diet," "lose weight," etc, but how many people actually follow through on those?  How many people come up with something original and really life changing?  Not many.  From my experience, there's a big influx of people to the gym, but then after a few weeks, things die down back to a normal pace.  You wonder what happened to those people.  Did they just give up?  Did the journey ahead of them to be healthier seem to challenging?  Did they find a solution? 

So I decided to take this concept of a list of 90 things and present it to all of you.  This goes way beyond a New Years Resolution.  Its more of a "January get stuff done" thing.  I want you to make a list of 90 things that you want to accomplish in January.  It could be anything.  Remembering to call someone, maybe a PR in a race, organizing a room, decluttering your drawers, etc.  Really anything.  Nothing is too ridiculous, nothing is too small.   Every time you accomplish something on the list, cross it off, check it off, do whatever you need to do to acknowledge you finished it.  This is meant to be a positive exercise so don't be discouraged if you don't hit everything, but do your best to check everything off.  Feeling guilty or blaming yourself for not completing everything is not what this is about.  Its about building yourself up, not tearing you down. 

Kick off 2013 to a great start!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Your Holiday Checklist

The holiday time is full of parties and there is always the temptation to fall of the nutrition bandwagon.  Here's a quick checklist to see if you are doing what you should be doing.

Answer Yes or No.  Add up all the "Yes" at the bottom.

If you're looking to shed some weight, you need to hit at least 8 yes answers.
If you're only looking to maintain your weight, try to get to 6 yes answers.

Sound fair?

Here we go!!

1.  Did you say NO at least 80% of the time when presented with candy or a plate of cookies?

2.  Instead of bringing a sugar laden dessert or candy for everyone to enjoy at a party, did you bring something more healthy like a veggie or fruit platter with a healthy dip, or even a healthy dessert?

3.  Did you skip the bread and breaded appetizers at holiday dinners and parties?

4.  Have you told yourself that sugar and sweet treats will ruin your diet? Here's a quick tip:  Avoid eating sweet treats by eating protein. 
5.  Did you eat balanced meals containing protein, whole carbohydrates and fats the day of a holiday party instead of starving yourself and "saving" your calories?  P.S "saving calories doesn't help."

6.  Did you stay away from alcohol most of the time of your holiday events?
Remember: alcohol causes your body to store fat and not be able to burn fat, and when you add sugar to it, it makes it even worse.

7.  Did you stick to mostly protein and veggies at holiday dinners and parties?

8.  If you can't exercise due to holiday commitments, did you keep your carbohydrate intake lower and focus mostly on proteins, vegetables and some fruits?

9.  If you know you're going to eat more carbs than your body needs at a holiday event, did you plan this into your diet? Maybe the day prior, eat a lower carb diet, and then the day following, eat a no carb diet ? Also, give yourself an extra point for performing an intense workout too!

10.   Even if you can't get to the gym, did you find time to do a short, quick circuit workout?  Maybe a 4 minute tabata workout where you do, lets say squats, for 20 seconds, then rest 10 seconds for 8 total rounds!!  Pick any full body exercise and it works too!! And only in 4 minutes.

How'd you do?

Feel free to post your results


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Weight Fluctuations

Are you the type that will go on the scale every day, sometimes more than once a day?
Do you freak out when the number goes up just a smidge, or sometimes even more than that?  Maybe its a couple of pounds. 
Well first things first, get the hell off the scale.  The scale is pretty much the most useless way to measure progress.  Yes, to a degree it can show you if you're trending towards your goals, but the mirror, and how you feel and how your clothes feel are better indicators of success and progress.

Still, there are people out there, and its men and women, that will hit the scale and look for any sign of progress and even with the slightest of fluctuation, will freak. 

I'm here to tell you, IT'S OK!!

Weight will jump all over the place.  If and when I do go on a scale, its never the same, and its always all over the place.  Too many variables go into weight in terms of pounds. 

Here's some physics for you:
The pull of gravity is different at different latitudes, so if you want to weigh a little less, move closer to the equator, or weight a little more go towards the poles. 

Ok back to seriousness. 

Many things go into what you weigh.  Even going past the usual description of fat mass and lean body mass.  Hormonal changes can cause weight shifts, what you eat can cause all sorts of shifts, as can something like going to the bathroom. 

Here's is something interesting I found from Dr. Melina Jampolis, who wrote The No-Time-To-Lose Diet:

For every 16 oz of fluid you consumed, that's an immediate gain of
1 pound

Need to poop?  Being backed up can cause a weight retention of as much as
2 pounds

Air pressure changes in flights that take 4 hours or longer will actually increase fluid retention typically to the tune of
2 to 3 pounds

Have a high sodium dinner and you'll likely find yourself waking up heavier by
2 to 3 pounds

That time of a month?
Hormone fluctuations for up to a week leading into your period, or for the guys truly connected to their wife's pregnancy, expect a water weight gain of up to
5 pounds

So, if you're a thirsty, constipated, frequent flier, with a penchant for pizza and heading to that time of month, expect a quick shift in the scale of up to:
19 pounds !!

That's some intense weight gain right there!

So don't freak out over every little half pound or pound(s) gain or loss.  If you're doing your work, which means eating well(80/20 rule) and exercising, then you should have nothing to worry about. 

In the end, its all relative.  Just go ask Santa.  He lives at the North Pole, where you weigh the most. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Motivation Monday

Keep moving forward! Just keep swimming! 
All about moving on, getting over the past, staying positive, and well moving forward.  The past is the past.  Whatever happened this weekend is gone, so if you screwed up your diet, or didn't get your workout in, its ok.  It happened, its over.  Make sure today is the best day of your life.  Then say that again tomorrow. 

Today's motivation comes straight from Rocky Balboa

Killer freakin speech!! 

"The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't how hard you hit; it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done. Now, if you know what you're worth, then go out and get what you're worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain't you. You're better than that!"

Thanks to Unattainable Life for this clip, and check out the link posted for more Inspiring Videos.

In the stream of moving forward we have Walt Disney:

Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.  (side note, this was also at the end of the movie Meet the Robinsons)

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Surround yourself with positive people everyday. It rubs off. On how you think. On how you act. On what you do. None of us is guaranteed any certain amount of time on this earth. And your quality of life is directly related to the quality of the people who surround you. Surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Who make you smile. Who make you feel special. Who are committed to a life of faith. Seek them out. LOVE each other. And celebrate everyday you share together.

This seems more appropriate than ever after the events in Connecticut yesterday. You just never know. Live life to the fullest everyday.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Are you a liability?

That's the question you should be asking yourself.

Are you a liability at your job? In your home?

In NY, we just had Hurricane Sandy. Crazy storm that had wide spread damage. What if you were one of the unlucky people that had everything wiped out? What if you were stuck and had to help other people? Would you be able to? Are you healthy enough, or fit enough to be useful, or are you out of shape, unhealthy and require someone else to help you survive? to get out?
Hopefully the answer is "yea I can manage myself." Hopefully you can.

A great story that illustrates my point comes out of NYU Hospital in NYC. The nurses there had some serious work on their hands. They had to evacuate 20 newborn babies down 13 flights of stairs, carefully as some were sick and needed extra attention. Do you think they could have done all that if they were not healthy and in any kind of physical shape? The story is not only a testament to the great work that the nurses do, but also to the fitness level of all of the women that helped out. Here's the story if you want to check it out: NYU Nurses

At home, are you able to play with your kids? That's the one thing that keeps me going back to my workouts. The one thing that has me working on my mobility and trying my best to stay in shape. I want to be able to run around with my son AND keep up with him. Are you able to do work around the house? Yard work, house work? Laundry? Or are you so out of breath, so out of shape, that you physically can't do anything but lay on the couch, which leads to more inactivity and even more unhealthiness.

What about at work? Are you putting everything you can in terms of work capacity into your job? Or is your health holding you back from being a productive member of the team? If you're out of shape and unhealthy, do you think you'll be able to have the same output as someone who is healthy and in shape at work? When you lead an unhealthy life, you are bound to miss more time at work due to illness or doctor appointments. You are bound to have less energy than your fitter coworkers and therefore get less done during the workday. This decreases not only your capacity to work but it will decrease your value as an employee. If you have no value as an employee, then what are the chances you keep your job?

Tough, harsh questions. Maybe a little insensitive, but such is the world we live in where the obesity rates are climbing and the activity levels are dropping. You can't just beat around the bush to get someones attention, you have to be straight forward. You can call people out on being smokers and kick them out of bars/restaurants, or being alcoholics, but there is this oversensitivity when you call someone out on being out of shape and overweight. Why? I would think the same logic applies.

Are you useful to society when disaster strikes(zombie apocalypse anyone?) or are you going to hold people back, needing others to save you all the time. It's not an easy thing to ask, and it may be a little insensitive, but in order to survive, you need to be able to help out and not be a hindrance. Or even just for self survival. If you're being chased by someone (zombie?) you can?t stop to rest or call a time out because you're out of breath. You have to keep going, keep pushing on. There's no way to do that if you're out of shape.

Now it comes out that the military is kicking people out for being out of shape (out of shape soldiers). Well that's great. We have an army of unhealthy, unfit people. How the hell are we going to protect our country when all our soldiers are out of shape. According to the article, the number of personnel deemed overweight or obese has tripled between 1998 and 2010. Even worse than being overweight and out of shape, recruits that even make it to training are so screwed up when it comes to movement patterns that they fail anyway. They can't do basics like rolling, running, jumping, or crawling. Since our lives have become more sedentary, movement patterns have gotten awful, and we have sub par recruits to protect the country. Being healthy and fit is now a matter of national security.

You owe it to yourself, your family, your coworker, society, and your country to live a healthier life, get active, get moving and increase your ability to do more work. Otherwise you'll just get left behind.

Survival of the Fittest!!

Motivation Monday

"Perfection doesn’t exist. Measure your progress against where you used to be, NOT the perfect ideal."

Too many people get wrapped up in comparing themselves to other people. Especially in the gym!
"oh he/she is stronger, skinnier, more toned, faster..etc"
Or even comparing yourself to some celebrity in a magazine. Trying to live up to the celeb world of ideal is only going to end up in failure and frustration. And besides, most images you see in a magazine are photo shopped and airbrushed.

Its all a bunch of BS. Compare yourself to yourself. Where did you start? Where are you now?

Don't worry about what someone else is doing or worry about being perfect.

Just be you.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fit Kids = Smarter Kids

In an article published recently by Science Daily, it was found that kids in better shape or more fit, finished higher in their class in terms of test scores. 
Fit Kids, Smart Kids
This is a super important study as it shows that schools that try to eliminate P.E class and/or recess are only doing the students harm.  The more fit the kids are, the better they do on tests, specifically funding related standardized tests.  Not only that but if you teach fitness skills early, kids are more likely to adapt and keep up a healthy lifestyle. 

Studies have also shown that by exercising, students learn new skills, and develop more neurons.  This enables more pathways in the brain, therefore making learning easier.  John J. Ratey’s book SPARK: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain examines something called Zero Hour P.E. Class in which students exercise before first period.  The results were astounding. Zero Hour PE showed improvements in reading and comprehension.  I'm not going to get into all the details, you can read the article for that.  But its interesting to see the correlation between exercise and success in the classroom. 

In a related study, Brain Development/Fitness, it was found that there was an association between fitness of 9-10 year olds and hippocampus development.  The hippocampus is an area of the brain associated with memory.  And as any student knows, memory is important in terms of learning.  In the study, it was found that there was a larger hippocampal volume in fitter 9-10 year olds.  So once again, exercise and learning are related. 

And its never too late.  The neurological system is plastic and is always changing.  Challenge your brain, try new skills, work out harder and smarter.  Who knows where it'll take you. 

In the end, it should never be an issue whether kids should have P.E class or recess.  Exercise and playing have a huge role in brain development and learning ability.  Lets keep it that way. 

Favorite Things of the Week

Here are some articles and in one case a picture that caught my eye during the week. 
If you're curious to know how I find these, some I see posted online, some I see linked from twitter.

Cool Picture

Sugar Addiction

Do you gain weight during the holiday season?

Training is as much neurological as it is physical.  This was my favorite of the week, as I've kinda known this for a while, but its nice to see in an article.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Motivation Monday

Part of success is just showing up. The other part, doing the work, day after day. Don't get distracted. Stay focused. That's how you become better than everyone else.

Friday, November 30, 2012

How Front Squats and Deadlifting saved my knees

This is the story of how I went from being "diagnosed" with arthritis in my knees, to being relatively pain free. I was a runner. Since the 8th grade I've been running. I went from track to cross country to 5K's, you name it. Then there's the always fun challenge of "Why not a marathon?" Back in 2007, I ventured out to start training for my first of three marathons. NYC! The holy grail of marathons. 18 week schedule, gradually increasing in distance per run, and weekly mileage. During that training I tackled a few half marathons, no big deal. 13.1 miles, no problem. And for the most part they weren't. Training went pretty smoothly during the 18 weeks, some minor pains, blisters, etc. Nothing major.
Then the big race. So pumped full of adrenaline, I didn't even feel the first 3 miles or so. Especially the mile and a half going over the Verrazano. But as the miles progressed, and the constant pounding continued, my knees started getting more and more achy. Going up the Queensboro Bridge, that's when I felt my knees start to go. I managed to finish, but not without pain.
Eventually the pain would subside and I would feel like nothing ever happened. So I ended up doing 2 more. Another NYC, and Disney(which was super fun actually). Same result though. My knees would kill me. So I took off to see the Dr. and that is where my "diagnosis" of arthritis came in.
It made sense. I could barely do body weight squats without my right knee going crazy with pain.

Here I was at 25, 26, suffering from arthritis!

This had to stop. I took to training. At first little physical therapy exercises to help strengthen my quads and hamstrings, but then I started incorporating a foam roller. Let me tell you, that made a world of difference. I would roll every major muscle group in my legs and stretch as much as possible. Soon I was able to do body weight squats with little to no pain. Awesome, that was step 1. Just a side note, my squats are ass to grass, none of that half squat BS you see. As long as my form is fine, that's what I aim for. *Read my baby squat post!!

As I got better, I tried adding in back squats, but I couldn't go anywhere. Shooting pain in my right knee right away. So I decided to hold back from squats and I started adding in deadlifts. Being that there is very little knee flexion involved in the deadlift, it was a really safe choice to develop my leg strength. And it totally did. The more often I deadlifted(and actually KB swings too) the better my knee would feel doing squats. Maybe I had a crazy anterior/posterior imbalance going on.

Then I started adding in front squats. Pain free front squats I might add!! So my program consisted of deadlifts, front squats, swings, among other things. But those were the primary exercises on my road to recovery. Each week, I would hit these lifts, and each week, it would be pain free. However, any time I tried to do a back squat, the right knee would flare up and be an angry elf(must be a south pole elf.....ELF movie anyone??...)

So back to my program i went. I even tried doing box squats with the load on my back. That was a little better, but still a little painful. So I kept at my DL, front squat routine. This went on for a few years with my training. I would never back squat. Just didn't want to risk it.
Then one day, this past year actually, during a strength phase of a program, I decided for the hell of it to try to back squat. Wouldn't you know it, ass to grass back squat, ZERO pain!! I was freaking ecstatic. I hadn't been able to do that in such a long time. It was amazing. Talk about an accomplishment.
I owed it all to front squatting, deadlifting, and foam rolling. In retrospect, I probably had muscle imbalances going on from my quads being over developed from running long distances, and developing compensation patterns. I will say, I definitely had a lot of trigger points in my hips, glutes, TFL, and calves. So a lot of crap going on. So I think I'm proof that even if you have arthritis in your knees, the best solution is to work on correcting any imbalances and actually squatting/deadlifting your way to healthier knees.

That's my crazy story and I'm sticking to it.

Favorite Things of the week

I always like finding interesting articles and passing them onto you.  Enjoy this weeks edition of things that I found interesting.  My hope is that something in one of these articles will help you on your journey to a healthier, fitter life. 

It all comes down to nutrition for most people.  No matter how hard you work, if your diet is garbage, you'll see no results.  That's not to say that you wont get stronger, but if your goal is fat loss(notice i said fat loss, not weight loss) then diet is key!!

Pick your side.  A tale of two kingdoms

Healthy Recipes

Working out with someone can help you burn more calories.  That is why semi-private and group training sessions work really well.

Great list of ways to achieve greatness

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Is this your life?

Is this you?

Does this represent what you do all day?  Chances are this is exactly what you look like.  Even as you're reading this, you are probably demonstrating this posture that has plagued our population. 
There is so much going on in the body when you sit like this and its easy to see with the aid of this skeleton. 
Rounded shoulders, pelvis is tilted, head and neck are forward, and the thoracic spine/upper back is super curved.  The rib cage almost looks compressed as well.  No doubt the shoulders are elevated into a shrug position.  Its almost as if this person is trying to get into a teeny tiny ball.  This posture leads to a lot of problems, namely pain and injury associated with your lower back and shoulders.  Poor posture and poor mobility, especially in the shoulder joint tends to lead towards impingement, or rotator cuff problems.  This presentation can also lead to tight hip flexors which will pull your pelvis into an anterior tilt and can be the cause of any of that low back pain you're experiencing. 

Now if this is you, do yourself a favor, fix your posture. Straighten up, pull your shoulders back, and open up you chest.  The more you focus on correcting and being aware of your posture, the less likely you'll be injured or have pain.  Now it wont be an overnight success in correcting your posture.  But the more you work at it, the better off you'll be. 
Here are a few tips to help you along the way:

1.  Stretch your chest, and hip flexors especially.  Posture like this tends to present with tight pec muscles and tight hip flexors. 
2. In addition to stretching, you should be foam rolling your upper back and hip complex in order to increase its range of motion.  This especially includes the hip flexors. 
3.  Finally doing exercises that require you to strengthen muscles that have been weakened by your poor posture.  For the upper back, you should focus on exercises that retract or squeeze your shoulder blades.  This can include supermans, body weight rows, or dumbbell/machine rows.  But you know i don't advocate machine use ;-)  Maybe in this case only.  Also work on simple retraction exercises with low weight.  Also shoulder slides on the wall/stick ups are a great way to increase shoulder range of motion. 
For the hips, concentrating on hip bridges, crab walks, and reverse planks should help "wake up" your glutes and help with that pelvic tilt. 

In summary, this classic "office worker" posture is becoming more and more common in the gym and in clients that I see.  If you let this slip for too long, it may lead to problems along the way.  Do yourself a big favor, try working on the 3 tips I provided, and maybe you'll help correct the way you sit and even stand. 

Good Luck!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Motivation Monday

Today is the best day to start (anything.) Procrastination is contagious. Wait until tomorrow and you may find yourself waiting until next week, next month or next year.

Get after it!!!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What I'm Thankful For

It's Thanksgiving and there is lots to be thankful for this year.

-My health and the health of my family and friends.

-My son who is the best thing I've ever done with my life.

-That I can move and move well.

-To be surrounded by a lot of love.

-That I get to do something I'm passionate about and I'm able to help so many people.

-For my clients who enable me to have the career that I love and keep me going.

-My clients passion about getting healthy and changing their lives.

-Thankful for everyone that has been in my life as they have shaped who I have become and will be.

What are you thankful for?

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Turkey Day!!

Here comes Turkey Day!! This is my favorite holiday of the year, mostly because I get to eat, eat, eat. Oh and watch football all day.
The best part is the leftovers where i can create awesome turkey/cranberry/gravy sandwiches. Actually I look forward to that more than anything.

Unfortunately this year I also have to sit through an ugly Jet/Patriot game at night. At least Gronkowski is out but seriously, what is wrong with the Jets.

Now I know most people will be shocked that I enjoy my Thanksgiving dinner and splurge.

"But you're a personal trainer! Shouldn't you be watching what you're eating and controlling yourself."

Yea but I'm also human. And seriously, one day of splurging isn't going to kill me. Or you. And I'm not suggesting getting so stuffed that you pop a button, need to undo your belt, or can't move, but don't stress about it. People get too worked up about "surviving the holidays," that they forget what the holidays are all about...
Spending time with family and friends and celebrating the last year!
Especially on Thanksgiving (another "what I'm thankful for" post coming soon).

Now what I do want you to do is work your butt off all week leading up to it, and then right after, on "Black Friday" you should be back on track in terms of training program and diet. Hit the gym hard, not the sales. The best thing you can do is to get in a hard, solid workout the next day so that you don't slide back into bad habits.
Black Friday should be a day not for shopping and getting 50% off things you probably don't need, but for getting in another intense workout to get back on track right away. The longer you go after splurging, the harder it'll be to get back on track and on your program.

Thanksgiving is all about sharing the past year with family and celebrating, not stressing about what to eat. Do yourself a favor, relax and enjoy the company you are with.


Happy Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Motivation Monday

Todays quote is taken from the IFET course i took this weekend with Kettlebell Concepts and Vincent Metzo.
Oh and also the Greeks.

"Mens sana in corpore sano."

which translates to:

"A sound mind in a sound body."

You should not only develop your body while in the gym, but also your mind. Complex movement patterns and movement skills help create new neurological pathways and develop the mind.
Don't just do mind numbing cardio or machine to machine resistance training, go out and learn to move better.
You'll be healthier both in mind and body for it.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Favorite things of the week

This week we have a few articles that I found really interesting.

Nutrition broken down by macronutrients. A great read

8 great tips to maintain weight loss and sticking with your goals.

Life is all about choices...are you choices the right ones?

This last one is super important because many people take some sort of pill to help ease the pain of soreness and that might not be the best approach.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Are you doing these wrong?

Squats, Swings, and Lunges.

3 amazing, metabolism boosting exercises. 3 exercises requiring a great amount of strength, skill, and body mechanics. 3 exercises that i see done incorrectly in most gym members/clients. Now this could be due simply to bad body mechanics, bad posture, or bad movement patterns. Or it could be that the movement pattern wasn't learned correctly as has always been poor. When done incorrectly, these movements can lead to injuries to the hips, knees, lower back, and even ankles.
The key to learning these movement patterns is to regress in order to progress. Start simple and get the basics in order, so that you can progress to more complicated movements that involve multiple joints.

Lets start with the squat. In one of my previous posts, titled "Start acting like a 3 year old," I showed a picture of a baby doing a perfect squat. Problem is, we lack that same kind of form due to postural issues, and various compensation patterns we develop as we age. The squat, especially the deep squat involves a lot of mobility through the hips, but also requires that one has proper mobility through the ankles and thoracic spine. Oh and stability through the knees and lumbar spine (thank you Gray Cook's joint by joint approach).
Here is the way to execute a proper squat:
1. Stand with feet hip width apart, maybe a little wider.
2.  Initiate the movement by pushing the hips back, and then bending the knees, lower yourself down at least till thighs are parallel to ground if not lower. 
3.  Make sure you keep your head and chest up and avoid bending from the waist. 
4.  Once you reach a proper depth, drive through the heels and push you body up.

Of course there a many variations and all sorts of movements and tools you can add to make it a more challenging exercise.  Regress before you can progress.  Get the simple part down, before you start making it complex.  Too many people want to jump in and play with all the fun toys before mastering the basics. 

Next, the swing.  I hate improper swings.  I really really really hate it.  I hate seeing gym members do it, I hate seeing other trainers try to "teach" it.  I guess it's become one of my pet peeves to the point that when I see someone pick up a kettlebell, I have one eye on my client, and one eye on this unwelcomed distraction.  I think the uggliest swing Ive ever witnessed involved full spinal flexion where this persons shoulders ended up near their knees.  If that werent bad enough, the swing continued into a full hyper extension with the kettlebell way overhead.  Ugh!!  I had to intervene and ask where they learned to swing a bell like that.   I was disgusted when I was told, "oh my trainer showed me."  Wow, is all I have to say. 
Swinging a kettlebell comes from the hips, not the arms or shoulders. 
1.  Start with the feet hip width apart.
2.  Push your hips back.  As far back as you can(think deadlifts) keeping your abs tight. 
3.  Grab the kettlebell, swing it back between your legs and then explode forward, extending from the hips and squeezing your glutes as hard as you can.  You should be standing straight up and not arching
4.  Control the bell during the lowering phase, absorbing the momentum with your hips, and loading for the next rep. 

Once you master and control the basic swing, there are many variations that you can do.  Once you have this awesome exercise in your arsenal, your workouts will never be the same.  

Lastly, lunges are constantly being done wrong.  I see a lot of people tracking their knees over the toes, heading for a knee injury of some sort.  This is especially true of forward and walking lunges.  People tend to let the bodies momentum carry them forward and into a compromising postition.  Another common error is lunging and letting the upper body fall foward, similar to the same problem with the squat. 
Here is your quick fix:
1.  You want to take a comfortable step forward and drive your hips DOWN towards the ground. 
2.  You do not want to drive your hips forward.  That will strain the knee too much. 
3.  Lower yourself till both knees hit 90 degrees, however making sure the back knee doesn't hit the ground. 
4.  Push off the front leg using the quads and glutes to come back into a standing position. 

A great way to progress up to lunging is by doing a split squat.  This is an exercise in which the lunge is held and you learn to push your hips down to the ground and back up again.  Once you master the split squat, then movement can be incorporated for an added challenge.  Another added challenge is adding upper body exercises to the lunge, but save that for when you have the skill and balance to complete basic lunges. 

Lunges also come in all planes of motion.  Off the top of my head I can think of 5 lunge variations. 
1. Forward
2, Reverse (step back lunge)
3.  Lateral or side lunge
4. Transverse (which is similar to side lunge, but on more of a 45 degree angle)
5.  Curtsy or crossing lunge (TRX is a big help on this one)

Master and learn the basics for all three of these exercises before you jump into trying all sorts of crazy things, just because you see other people doing it.  If you take one thing away from this post it should be:
"You must regress in order to progress"

Monday, November 12, 2012

Motivation Monday!!

"Don't dwell on the past and don't live in the future. Focus on today."

This is a good one for a Monday. Many people struggle over the weekend, especially with diet and come to the gym Monday morning to "try" and make up for weekend indulges. Doesn't work that way.
Today is a new day, get back on track and get after it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Train the movement!!

What a better day to discuss why you should train movement patterns and not body parts!
If you live in the northeast and just got slammed with snow, chances are you are digging yourself out. Shoveling away.
Shoveling snow is a movement pattern that requires squatting and shifting weight from side to side. Are you shoveling properly? Driving from the legs and hips? Or are you like most people and use your arms and low back? That's a recipe for disaster. That's why you need to train in 3D and use movements as part of your workouts.
Life is a series of three dimensional movements, usually involving a shifting in weight, either yours or what you're carrying/lifting. Start training like it!

Thankfully there is a great way to do that. Welcome to the world of training with ViPR. A hollow rubber tube with 3 handles allows for thousands of combinations of grips and movements whether they be how the hands are moving, the feet are moving, or the body is moving.
It's unique design allows for a complex movements and shifting/lifting patterns. What better way to prepare your body for life's daily challenges than training your body to handle forces from any angle.
Oddly enough on this snowy day, there is a shoveling movement pattern that would help out perfectly. It'll train you to drive with the legs, open and turn the hips, and remove that snow properly. ( or could just get a snow blower ha ha ha)

If you haven't experienced the fun and challenges of working with the ViPR, you are missing out and I highly suggest getting your hands on one with an experienced fitness professional. Preferably one with ViPR experience. Like me!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Favorite things of the week

Here are some articles that I've read over the past week that I found interesting. I'm going to try to keep this a consistent post from week to week.

Are you making these mistakes?

I've talked about sitting in previous posts because it is a major health risk. Much of the population spends entirely way to much time sitting. Work, commuting in the car, at home watching tv, even when you're exercising (sitting machine to machine).
That can seriously stunt your ability to achieve your goals. Think about how much you sit, and try to cut down on it.

Found this website full of interesting healthy recipes. Already tried the sweet potato fries and lime/cilantro chicken. Delicious

Common workout mistakes

Myth about cardio. I hate cardio. I'd rather do sprints, battle ropes, kettlebell swings. Anything than boring slow state cardio. Especially for trying to lose fat. Don't get me wrong i used to love running for miles. But that was more mental than physical. FYI training for 3 marathons I didn't really lose any weight. Just sayin.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Motivation Monday

Hope this finds everyone with power and a warm, safe house. We were slammed on the east coast and there has been a lot of devastation. Makes you happy to have what you do. Things will get better and we can rebuild. And we will rebuild.
My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in NY and NJ especially in the hardest hit areas.

I thought this was an appropriate quote for today:

"Energy and persistence conquer all things." -Benjamin Franklin

If we keep at something, it'll eventually get better. That goes for anything in life.

Stay strong!

Friday, November 2, 2012

What are you thankful for?

It's November, and everyone starts thinking of what they are thankful for. Maybe because of Thanksgiving coming up or just the general holiday season.
This year I have lots to be thankful for, and based on the devastation that hit Long Island, NYC, Connecticut, and New Jersey, I have even more.
I'm thankful that I have such an amazing career that let's me help many people lead a healthier life.
I'm thankful for my family and that they are all healthy and safe.
I'm thankful for my son, who has been the best thing I have done with my life.
I'm thankful for my wife, for putting up with me and my crazy schedule.
Finally I'm thankful that I got the inspiration and courage to keep this site going. Usually I don't think my writing and what I have to say is useful, but if even one person learns something from me, then it's worth it.

Be thankful for what you do have and never take for granted what you have. You never know when it could be taken away.

What are you thankful for?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Motivation Monday

Last Monday of October.  Did you reach any of the goals you set from the beginning of the month?
I know I did.  I wanted to stay more on top of writing and I think i accomplished that throughout this month.  It may not be the best writing in the world, but I think the more I put it out there, the better it will get.

Here is your quote to get you started this week:

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
Albert Einstein

For example, endlessly pedaling away on a bike or walking on a treadmill day in, day out, not getting any results but still convincing yourself that "cardio" is the key to losing weight.  Try changing up your routine.  Add something new.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Are you taking care of your body part 2

Ok so in my last post I covered what you should do before your workout and hopefully you’ve come away with some new found knowledge that you need to take care of your body. Now remember gains or losses made in the gym come with recovery, not with how much you abuse your body. With that said a great way to recover after an intense workout is foam rolling, trigger point therapy, or self myofascial release. These are pretty much all the same thing.  Foam rolling is more generalized to major muscle groups, while trigger point therapy is more localized.  There are many types of rollers and massage balls.  For a good resource, check out this site for trigger point therapy.  There is a lot of great info as well as lots of great products, especially The Grid. 

Anyway back to what the TP therapy is all about.  This therapy will ensure that you’re ready for your next workout. Maybe you’ve heard about this in a magazine or someone talking about it around your gym. Odds are, if you ask a trainer about it, they’ll know all about it.  Or hopefully they'll know about it.   
Here are some basics about foam rolling or trigger point therapy:
A foam roller is basically a long tube of high density foam that you lay a major muscle group on. These major muscle groups basically consist of the back, glutes, quads, and hamstrings. As for the massage balls, they can hit smaller muscles, and more local areas of tightness.  Think, pec minor, rotator cuff muscles, hip rotators like piriformis. 

Now all you have to do is roll around until you find a place where there’s pain or discomfort. Now here’s the worst part; I want you to stay there.
Confused? Yea I thought so. Usually we want to shy away from pain. This is different. Think of it as a deep tissue massage. I want you to press the foam roll right into the spot that hurts. After about 45 seconds to 2 minutes of what may be one of the most uncomfortable things you’ll ever experience in a health club, the pain will dull down from something unbearable to a subdued barely noticeable discomfort, perhaps even go away entirely.  
What you’ve just successfully done is break up knotted muscle tissue, restoring proper function to the region. Feel free to continue this process on all of the major muscles, and you’ll find when you get up you feel like you just had the best massage of your life. I will warn you, some areas, specifically the IT band (side of your thigh) are more painful than others. 
So lets review what's been covered over the last 2 posts:

Start every workout with a dynamic warm-up by following the SEMI guidelines; perform your routine for the day knowing you properly warmed up, and then at the end, treat your muscles to some foam rolling and I promise you, your body will thank you in the end.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Are you taking care of your body?

I would say 75% of people that just walk into the gym do not even bother going through a proper warm-up before they workout, and I would say almost 100% of those people end up with some sort of injury over the course of a given year. 

A proper DYNAMIC warm-up is essential to getting the body in a ready state to perform the task at hand, your workout.  That workout could be anything, ranging from intervals on the bike or treadmill, squatting in the power rack, or picking up dumbbells and strength training.   Now in my experience in the gym, 4 scenarios play out.

Scenario 1:  You jump right onto the hamster wheel (aka the treadmill) and start moving along until your “prescribed” 30 minutes are up.

Scenario 2: You walk over to the dumbbell rack and start throwing weights around, paying no mind to damage you’re doing to your body. 

Scenario 3: You do a few stretches, chest, hamstrings, quads, and off you go to your workout.

Scenario 4: You do a dynamic warm-up, one that almost feels like a workout, and prime your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints for the workout ahead.

Answer this question: Which one describes you?

If you answered Scenario 4, congratulations, you know what you’re doing.  Keep up the good work.  There’s a great chance you won’t injure yourself during your workout.  On top of that, you probably have a great deal of flexibility, mobility, and stability. 

As for the rest of you, you have some learning to do.

A warm-up is more that doing a little jogging or biking.  It is even more than stretching a couple of muscles.  It’s all about getting the blood flowing, the heart pumping, and the joints moving.

A dynamic warm-up is exactly what it sounds like.  You are actively moving around and heating up muscles and joints of the body to prepare them for your strength training routine.  Remember those dorky exercises that you used to do in high school gym class?  The arm circles and jumping jacks?  Yea, those are a small part of a dynamic warm-up.  There are a lot of ways to ensure your body gets properly warmed up and ready for exercise.  Without these, it would be like trying to start up an old car and pushing the engine to the max.  Sooner or later, it’s going to fail and breakdown. 

Here are few guidelines for a great dynamic warm-up: Remember S-E-M-I

Specific: warm-up the muscles and joints your using for the day. 

Easy to accomplish: the warm-up is only a warm up, have fun with it!  Don’t over think it and    make it complicated.

Movement based: focus on mimicking the movements in that days routine. 

Increases blood flow: any good dynamic warm-up should get your heart pumping.

So let’s break that down a little bit. 

If your workout has a ton of explosive movements in it(Olympic lifts, plyometrics), then some good warm-up ideas could include jumping rope, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, burpees/squat thrusts, and maybe a few low box drills. This keeps it relevant to the workout ahead, and relatively simple thus preventing a waste of energy that would be needed in the warm-up, while still get the much needed muscle prepared for what’s to come.

Let’s say your routine contains mostly controlled speed strength moves. Whether it be an upper body/lower body split, full body workout (which are better for you) or a body building routine, you would want to warm-up the muscles and joints specific to that day’s workout.  If you were doing a leg routine, you’d want to go with some full range body weight squats, hip mobility drills like spider man climbs, hip presses, or kettlebell swings with a warm-up appropriate weight (find a qualified KB instructor before trying).   As for an upper body routine, something as simple as pushups and a few bodyweight rows with a TRX are a great idea to get the shoulder moving(ps shoulder mobility is super important  Better range of motion = less chance for injury).  Adding in mobility exercises like stick-ups or snow angels can also help. 

Notice how we change the warm-up to be relevant for what we’re doing in the workout. This is definitely not a case of “one size fits all.”
Try this warm-up
-Overhead squats (with or without a broomstick of some sort) x
-Walking or stationary lunges (add elbow to opposite knee for more advanced exercise)
-Caterpillar/Inchworm (with or without pushup)
-Spiderman Climb
-Thoracic Mobility (from hands and knees)
-Leg Swings (on back with arms out to side, swing one leg side to side w/o shoulders leaving ground)
-Scorpion Stretches
-Finally some animal based movements for total body warm-up and conditioning.  For example, Apes, Dog, Bear, Crab, Tiger/Cougar

Guarantee you'll be ready to rock.

Regardless of what’s in your routine, make sure to pay attention to mimicking the range of motion you will be using, and feeling the increase in blood flow to the intended areas.  This will decrease your risk for injury.  Less chance for injury means more chances to work out and less use of pain killers. 

Look for part 2 when I talk about foam rolling.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Motivation Monday

You live longer once you realize that any time spent being unhappy is wasted. -Ruth E. Renkl

Positivity and optimism leads to positive results. Why spend your time being unhappy and negative? Act positive and good things will come.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Wow, I actually did that?

So its a Friday night, and my son is sleeping already(early night for him) and I decided to clean up my documents folder, or at the very least organize it a lot more, being that I have lots of workout programs for my clients, for myself, or just some just for fun that haven't really been used. 
Anyway, looking over where I was 3 or 4 years ago in my workout designs, I would have smacked myself in the face.  "Really, that's what you're gonna do?"
I guess my inexperience played a factor in the kinds of workouts i was churning out, but still...WOW!!

My workouts now are a lot better now.  At least I think so, you may have to talk to some of my clients to really find out.  My organization is better, the goal of the session is more pronounced, and just the overall vibe from the program is better.  I guess that's also experience, but Ive also committed to learning a lot more about many different things.  Since I've started my career, I've stayed not only on top of research through NSCA articles, but also new trends in fitness, like TRX, ViPR, kettlebells, and group training.  I think that non-stop drive to learn and be taught has helped me grow as a trainer. 

How have you changed over the past 3 or 4 years?  Different habits? Different opinions?  Different lifestyle?
Maybe you've tried to lead a more healthy lifestyle? 

Let me know

Thursday, October 18, 2012

2.5 Minutes

Is that all you need to get in shape? In a recent study from Colorado State University and the University of Colorado, it was shown that in just 2.5 minutes of intense exercise, an extra 200 calories are burned during that day. (for you science people that like to see the study).

Notice I didn't say during the actual exercise. Over the course of the day, the uptick in metabolism is accounting for that calorie burn.

In this study, participants sprinted on a bike for 30 seconds at an all out effort with a 4 minute recovery. They did this 5 times. Essentially a typical interval training workout. What researchers discovered was that the participants burned an extra 200 calories on those workout days.
An extra 200 calories from just 2.5 minutes of hardcore work? Seems like a good trade off to me.

Now what I don't want you to do is go overboard and say "if 2.5 minutes is good, then 60 minutes must be even better.". When it comes to intervals, intensity and rest are essential. The sprint part needs to be all out, and if you reach a point where that is no longer possible, then what's the point of continuing?

A safe place to start is doing 5-10 intervals for 30 seconds with enough recovery where your heart rate and breathing rate come down. This ensures that you can give a max effort on the next interval.
An even better way to do interval training is by monitoring your heart rate. To do this we need to look at the following formula.

Target Heart Rate = ((max HR − resting HR) × %Intensity) + resting HR

(max HR being 220-AGE)

So for someone looking to do intervals over 85% of their max, we'll look at a 30 year old with resting HR of 60.
THR= ((220-30)-60)* .85 + 60.
THR= 170
So in this example HR should get to 170 to be an effective interval.

As for the rest period, HR should reach below 50% of max. Therefore based on the same formula the THR is 125.

Just another way of doing this workout. Try plugging in your own numbers. Just be sure to take your resting HR as soon as you wake up in the morning. That's when it's at it's lowest.

We used to chart that number over the course of a cross country season to see how our body adapted to training. As the season progressed, the more efficient our bodies got at handling the training, and our resting HR would come down.

Give this a try and if you need help with the formula, leave a comment and I'll help in anyway I can. I even have a few beginner interval workouts to try on your own.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What the Space Jump has to do with you


By now I'm sure everyone has heard or seen Felix Baumgartner's amazing jump from space.  If you haven't, look it up on YouTube.  It is quite an amazing accomplishment.  He has seen things that few have seen in person and probably never will. 
From over 24 miles above the earth, he jumped down hitting record speeds and surpassing the sound barrier, and landed safely on the ground.  This record setting jump was 5 years in the making.  Think about that..5 years.   That's a long time to have your eyes set on a goal.  Now I'm sure there were bumps along the way.  People telling him that he was crazy for trying to attempt such a jump.  Even last week, when the jump was supposed to take place, the weather thwarted their plans, and the jump was scrubbed. 
I dont think any of that got in his way.  I dont think anyone could shake his determination to finish what he started.  He had a goal, and he hit his mark. 

My favorite quote was "Sometimes we have to get really high to see how small we are." Sometimes we need to stop and see the bigger picture to get the minor details. 

Now what has this record setting space jump have to do with you?
Well, we all have goals in life, don't we?  But how often do we let little things hold us back from reaching those goals?  In the context of health and fitness, we always have big ambitions and goals when we first start(especially the new years resolution crowd), but slow progress and slow results leads to disappointment and then eventually you just drop off completely.  But theres a saying "some people quit due to slow progress, never grasping the fact that slow progress IS progress."  It may not happen overnight, but with hard work it will happen. 
I'm here to tell you, dont let little setbacks slow you down and deter you from your goals.  Learn from those set backs so they dont happen again. 
Look if Felix Baumgartner can jump from the edge of space, you can certainly accomplish any goals you set out to accomplish. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Motivation Monday

Let's get after it this week.

Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. -Lou Holtz

You have the ability on any given day to take on your goals, hit the gym, keep your nutrition on point.
You need that internal motivation that nothing is going to stop you from those goals.
Take on an attitude of "I'm gonna give it my all. I'm 100% in and committed."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wait? You're still doing that?

Now, if you've read any of the first few posts that I've written, you know I'm
Do yourself a favor, avoid these machines, that is if you are still training using machines at all. 
Leg Extensions, Hip ABductor, Hip ADductor. 

The leg extension machine is probably the most dangerous one to use just from a bio mechanics/physics standpoint.  The body is really a system of levers and when looking at leg extensions, the knee acts as the fulcrum and the load is at the very bottom of the lever(lower leg), as in a class three lever.  This results in shear forces on the knee, specifically on the ACL(anterior cruciate ligament) itself.  Yes it is designed to increase strength of the quads, however at what cost to the knee.  In terms of looking at it from a "functional" standpoint, when is a forceful leg extension done?  Soccer? Place kicking in football?  Most of that strength is drawn from the hips, not in isolation.  Just in terms of the compression and shear forces on the knee joint itself, you would do yourself a big favor in staying away from this exercise.  Try doing wall squats, or squats in general.  Squatting with the right form is one of the best exercises you could do for your quads. 
"But what if I'm coming off a knee injury?" Well yea, that's a tough question, but there are heel slides, quad sets, and straight leg raises to help recover initially, but the sooner you get back to squatting, the healthier your knee will be.  Listen, I handled my own knee recovery from a PCL(posterior cruciate ligament) by doing suspended TRX lunges, front squats, and deadlifts.  Not once did I do a leg extension.  My knee has never been better. 

Looking at the two hip exercises, you have to look at it from a functional standpoint again.  When are you ever seated and moving your legs in and out against a resistance?  Safe to say almost never.  I would rather see people engage in lateral or transverse lunges as these exercises train the adductors to decelerate the body and absorb impact.  They train the body to move and work as one rather than in isolation.  As for the abductors, try wrapping a band around your ankles and doing lateral walks for about 15-20 steps.  Much more effective at targeting those abductor muscles. 

So skip these 3 useless machines and try the substitutions i mentioned.  You may find out that they work better than those isolation exercises. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Motivation Monday 11/8

"Clear your mind of can't!!  - Samuel Johnson

Can't is a word you use to set yourself up for failure.  There are no can'ts, only won'ts, and don't want to's. 
Try living without the word can't in your vocabulary, specifically "I can't."
Its so self limiting. 

Say to yourself "I can!"  Very powerful stuff right there. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Weclome to October: Motivation Monday

Hey, its the start of the a new month.  That means its time to reevaluate some of our goals and see where we are at.  My new goal is to be more involved in this blog, and that means starting today, I'm going to provide an inspiring quote each Monday.  I'm calling it Motivational Monday. 
Typically Mondays are the hardest day to get moving again because of a long weekend where we might not always be on top of our diet or exercise programs.  Maybe with the help of a good, positive quote, you'll get going again. 

“To give anything less than your best
is to sacrifice the gift.”

– Steve Prefontaine

This is one of my favorite quotes, mostly because of who said it.  What I take away from this quote is that you should always give your best everyday, no matter what it is your trying to accomplish.  This applies to all aspects of life. 

Go out and be 1% better today than you were yesterday. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Start acting like a 3 year old.

Think about when you were a kid.  There was so much you could do, and you pretty much did it without thinking.  We used to jump around, crawl, roll, run, and really just "play".  As adults we really don't engage in those activities as much.  Think about it.  When was the last time you did these things for fun.  Not just part of a workout? 
Babies squat! Babies squat perfectly. 
Without even thinking about it, they drop down, and are in perfect squat form.  I try to get my clients to strive for this.  I will always say "squat like a baby."  This image is exactly why.  Adults, as we get older move less and sit a lot more.  This leads to muscles to kind of "fall asleep." More inactivity lead to your body not knowing how to move properly and leads to all sorts of compensation patterns.  I cant even tell you how many times I've told clients to push their hips out and keep their chest up or lead with the hips and the knees will follow.  So tip #1 SQUAT MORE.
Running has evolved from something you do as a kid on instinct while playing games like tag or sports to something adults do as a chore, slaving away on a treadmill.  Kids run around everywhere.  I watch my nephew and hes bouncing off the walls, running all over the place.  On a visit to see them in Georgia, I spent a lot of time chasing him around the house.  From one end : "race me uncle Chris!" to the other and back to the couch.  Over and over again.  No thinking, not forced into it, just playing.  So tip #2 PLAY MORE.
What is the first thing we learn to do as kids?  We learn to roll then crawl.  We should crawl a lot more.  I have my clients crawl a lot.  Sometimes within a workout, sometimes just in terms of a warm-up, but crawling is great for mobility.  As we age, we lose mobility, especially in the hips.  We also lose the ability to support our own body weight, either because we get heavier or because we don't take part in exercises that require us to support our own weight. 
There are many ways to crawl and many workout systems have popped up that are all about crawling.  Like Animal Flow.  Even just for mobility purposes alone, crawling is worth it.  Tip #3 CRAWL.  By the way, its a great core workout.
Kids jump on and off of everything.  Couches, chairs, stairs, beds.  They love to jump.  Try telling a kid to not jump on something.  Doesn't really work.  They jump without fear.  Kids also play hopscotch, jump rope, leap frog.  All little kids games.  I try to get clients to jump, broad jumps, box jumps, whatever.  They have to size it up, stand there, think about it, and then finally do it.  Then it comes down to teaching how to land properly.  Landing softly is instinct for kids.  Adults need to think about it. 
Jump rope is even harder.  We lose that coordination and skill for jumping rope when it used to be so natural.  The first time I give a client a jump rope, its "oh i remember, i used to do this as a kid." Time to relearn!!  So last tip; JUMP MORE.
There ya go, get out there and start acting and moving more like a kid.  It'll do your body good.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Oh you only lift 5lb weights? Go on about how big your bag is!

I think that line would be a great sarcastic Wonka meme! Don't you?

It seems to me that the myth that women shouldn't lift heavy weights because they will get bulky is still prevalent.  Not a day goes by that I see women just using 3lb or 5 lb weights.  Or maybe an occasional 8lber thrown in there.  Now its bad enough that I see this, but what makes it even worse is that I will see a woman go from bent over rows on the bench right into tricep kick backs(if you can even call them that) with the same 3-5lb weight.  Sorry, but if you think that is going to make your arms toned, then you might as well do 100 of them( which oddly enough, a certain celebrity trainer prescribes).

Lifting heavy weight has numerous benefits, of which include building muscle, bone density, and strength.  But wait, " don't want to build muscle" you say.  You don't want to look "bulky."  Good news, you're in luck, lifting heavy weights wont make you bulky unless you are training that way.  It takes training to get bigger and eating to get bigger.  Oh and there's that little thing called testosterone, that as a woman you don't have enough of to warrant that kind of muscle growth.  But you keep doing
your light weights and your endless cardio.  Hows that working out for your fat loss?

Oh yea one more benefit of building muscle: increased metabolism. 

Benefit #2 of lifting heavy is an increase in bone density.  This happens because as the muscle gets stronger, it pulls harder on the bone it is connected to, and the bone cells need to react and produce more bone cells to support to added strength in that particular muscle.  Most women do not lift heavy enough to warrant such a response in those cells.  Most likely because of the #1 excuse of not wanting to get bulky. 

Lastly, getting stronger is super important, because why not be stronger.  Why would you want to be weaker?  Think of how many things you pick up in a day.  Wouldn't it be amazing if it didn't strain you so much to pick something off the ground, or carry out the trash, or pick up your child/grandchild/dog/whatever.  I woulds say yes.  I had a client that was so proud of how strong she became because she was able to lift a big pack of water bottles, and another that picked up her 70lb dog and was amazed that she was able to.  That's why you train heavy, that's why you strength train. 
Well that, and the stronger you are, the more stable your joints, the more balanced you are.  And when you get older, balance gets a little tricky and wouldn't it be nice to say that your strong enough that if you stumble, you'll have the strength to not fall and go boom?
I know many who have had near misses and if it wasn't for training heavy, they probably would have gone down. 

So please do yourself a favor and lift a little heavier than you are used to.  I promise the benefits will be worth it. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

What are you passionate about?

I recently received an email regarding writing for fitness from Jon Goodman.  He asked "why would you want to write for fitness"  He went on to ask if there was any moment that brought on that desire to write.  In my mind, he was really asking me "what are you passionate about?"
It really didn't take me long to come up with an answer.  The only problem I had was limiting it to the 75 words that were required in the reply.  How can I narrow down what I am passionate about to just 75 words.  I tried really hard.  I even asked a dear friend that I ask to look over all of my work that I write, just to make sure I wasn't leaving anything out. 
Here is what I came up with:
If there is one thing I'm passionate about, it's education:
Not just for my clients, but for trainers as well.  My inspirational writing moment
came in response to two articles: one about personal training as a career,
the other calling kettlebells "overrated."  These articles got me heated
because they showed how out of touch the public is with respect
to fitness.  There's a lot of garbage out there.  That's what I want to change.
Now narrowing down my response to 75 words was hard work.  I had many rewrites with the same basic premise.  That I have a passion about education.  I figured I would take that simple little question, and expand on my train of thought with no words limit:
My passion lies with education.  First and foremost with the education of my clients.  With each and every workout, I try to teach my clients a little more.  Its usually something small like a new way to stretch, or maybe its learning how to foam roll, but the key is, its something.  Something they can take away from the workout, and maybe show a friend or family member.  Nothing makes me prouder than seeing a client teach someone else a new skill.  Recently it was a simple piriformis stretch that one of my female clients showed her husband. 
Another aspect that I love about teaching my clients is skill exercises, like snatches or cleans.  Or even deadlifts.  Seeing a client hit a new PR on a lift, or just getting that a-ha moment on an exercise makes it worth all the missed lifts. 
Educating not only my clients is important, but I believe educating the general public about not only the benefits of a proper exercise program, but more importantly the "how" of exercise.  Too many people really don't know what it is to  really workout.  Most people exercise, some people get in a workout, few people train to force an adaptation.  As Ive written before, most people slave away on the cardio deck.  Or take advice from terrible celebrity "trainers."  There's an overload of misleading, awful information out there that the public just eats up.  And most of it has no basis in the real training world.  "Get your flat abs doing these 3 moves."  Really?!?  No, your abs will not get flat doing those 3 moves.  Yes, your abs will work, but flat abs come from proper diet and exercise intensity. 
Too much info dilutes really good info. 
Trainer education is another passion of mine.  Ive written about this before because I believe that most trainers lack the skills and knowledge to be successful, safe trainers in the fitness industry.  Its a big commitment for a client to put their body and their life in the hands of a trainer, and I'm sorry but I would like my trainer to know what the hell they are doing.  Not one that took an exam online and in an hour can call themselves a trainer.  That leads to the perception that "anyone can be a trainer."  I take pride in the fact that I have the education I have.  Other trainers should too.  That is why I've tried to teach other trainers the things that I know, and make myself available to any questions that they may have.  I take pride in the fact that I am a go to guy for answers when it comes to training related questions.  In my opinion, trainers should have a knowledge of anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, exercise science, assessment, and nutrition.  Along with knowing what to do if presented with a client with certain contraindications or special needs.  Oh and some rehab knowledge is a must too. 
So yea, I could totally rant about personal training and the state it is in, but that could take an entire other post. 
What I'm getting at is I think there should be education backing our industry, and my passion is trying to get something in place.  Till then, I will educate any trainer that comes to me with questions. 
That is what I am passionate about.  I ask "What are you passionate about?"