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.