Monthly Archives: October 2015

A Few Fitness Myths Busted!

Are you following a fitness myth?

Are you following a fitness myth?

With the surge of internet use in our culture, information can be passed around with the click of a button. This is a great tool which has made living in America easy, entertaining, and informative. The bad thing is there is no filter on the information. Often times the website you are reading could be the opinion of a moron with a domain and the ability to misinform the general public on whatever issue they like. Fitness is one of these topics.

I have spent years learning and practicing different styles of training. As a trainer and a participant in the fitness lifestyle, I have watched myself evolve. I can recall the days of power lifting (incorrectly) and using sheer will to push through sets. Although my ego was satisfied, my body was not. I recall days where I ran over 5 miles per day, every day for no apparent reason. I wasn’t training for a marathon or on the track team. I wasn’t even playing a competitive sport at that time. Though I saw a change in my body, it wasn’t what I was trying to accomplish.

I will go over 3 fitness myths that I have found to be true through my experiences, whether personally or through a client I’ve trained. I always feel experience trumps experiment. So ill save the scientific data for you to investigate further.

Why should women lift heavy?

Why should women lift heavy?


1. Women Shouldn’t Lift Heavy Weights

90% of the time when I train a female client for the first time, they tell me “I don’t want to look like a man” during our session once I mention heavy weights as we go over our goal setting.

I’m always amazed by this because with the age of information that we are in, there are so many women who blast this theory away on social media. Most women (and i’m being very general here) are concerned with their lower body and stomach. From my experience, that’s usually what I get when I ask them what are they trying to accomplish in the gym. When I visit commercial gyms (Golds, Planet Fitness, Fitness Evolution, etc…).

I see tons of ladies with 3 lbs dumbbells, talking to their “workout partners”, and taking selfies. After 2 weeks of this routine, they come to the conclusion that squats don’t work. They followed a “100 squats-a-day” challenge on Instagram and see no improvement. The main reason for this is the body is always responsive to the stress it is placed under. Without getting to scientific, if you don’t place your body under a certain stress it will never prepare itself to react  to that stress. So, just doing 100 squats may not be the best way to achieve your desire. You could be better served doing 3 squats at max weight to increase size, strength, and mobility. I’m not programming a workout here, but rather showing you how including heavy weight into your regiment is a great thing.

Ladies have no fear! Lifting heavy weights won’t have you looking like the woman on the 90’s fitness magazine with veins popping out of her arms. Those women are using different hormone stimulants to alter their appearance. What heavy weight will do is motivate you. You will become more inspired to do things you have never done, because you were able to lift something you never thought you could. It will sculpt and tone your body in a way that not many other forms of training can match. Heavy reps and hard work are a hell of a combination. So, do it! Forget what the people are saying, this works!

Boot camps are great for you right?

Boot camps are great for you right?


2. Boot Camps Are The Way To Go As A Beginner

If you are just starting out on your fitness journey, you may be attracted to a boot camp due to the group dynamics presented. It seems fun to workout with a group and not feel judged or pressured to perform at a certain level. Most boot camps are formatted with the “go at your own pace” outline and that makes it attractive to a newbie. The problem with this myth is that you may be cheating yourself and actually decelerating your progress.

Take a look at the picture above. At first glance I can personally point out 5 people doing an incorrect lunge. This is my MAIN problem with most boot camps. There is no screening process to see what level of fitness you are at. It is impossible for a trainer to watch all of those people at once and correct their form. So, if you have no idea how to correctly do a lunge, you will spend years in a boot camp doing an incorrect lunge. This will usually lead to knee problems which will make you think you “cant do a lunge”. Then a trainer who properly assess you will say, no you CAN do a lunge, we just have to teach you to do it properly!

Basically, if you don’t have a solid foundation, I would stay away from boot camps until you do. They seem attractive, but your money would be better spent learning the basics from a trainer, and then going to do your boot camps. Always remember its not just the quantity of work you do here, but a quality and quantity balance.

To run or not to run?...That is the question.

To run or not to run?…That is the question.


3. Running Everyday Is Improving My Fitness Level

This particular topic is not in reference to those who are running for a sport/ living. The average gym participant who goes into the gym and spends 1 hour everyday on the treadmill or elliptical machine is doing themselves a disservice. I have a friend who is trying to gain weight and build some muscle. He called me frustrated that he was spending a lot of time lifting heavy and eating often. After asking a few questions about his regiment, I found out that the main cause for his flat line was his consistent running. He was running Every other day for a hour or so. While this could be a great idea for some training plans, most aren’t used that way.

Most people say, “today is cardio, so i’m going running”. Cardiovascular exercises is ANYTHING that gets the heart rate up.There are literally a million other things you could do that could be more effective for you and less harmful on the shins and knees. The wear and tear from the constant impact of your foot and the ground becomes a issue when we look deeper into the disadvantages of consistent running.

Again, I’m not saying running is all bad. But, as a country,  we have the wrong impression of it. You could do a kettle bell swing, get the same cardio workout, but a strength element is added. I’m a big fan of ballistic/cardio movements to really get the heart rate going. Jump Squats, Sled Pushes, Wind Sprints, Burpees, and Jumping Jacks are all great cardio supplements when running becomes boring or harmful.

Train smart, Train safe!

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Water…Water…Everywhere

What were you taught as a kid?

What were you taught as a kid?

Take a second and ask yourself, “How much water have I drank today?” Now after you answer that question in your own head, lets explore a little further. I am a firm believer that before any change is manifested inside the body, the mind must first be conditioned to initiate that change. As a child I can recall being bombarded with commercials showcasing kids drinking every “sugar filled” drink you can imagine. From Tang, Kool Aid, Sunny Delight, to Soda we were being programmed to want these drinks. Ironically this is not what the body needs. A war between your wants and needs were being waged. Your brain is so powerful that you can over power your needs with your wants for a prolonged amount of time. All of our choices though, soon come with a consequence. This is the main reason why you cant recall any water commercials as a kid. No kids smiling enjoying natures healing fluid. Your body is literally made up of over 60% water. You would think it would be a good idea to market that right?

How much is enough?

How much is enough?

So one of the first questions you should be asking yourself is, “How much water should I be drinking?” Conventional wisdom and our most recent medical research says that we should aim for at least half of our body weight in ounces. Logically that makes sense to me because over half our body is water. I started off keeping a marked jug of water as shown in the picture above. I would literally force myself to drink water. This method did work for me, but I would never recommend it in hindsight. Certain personalities are able to function in those realms (which is what makes giving any fitness and nutrition advice on a general level difficult, but thats another blog). I would suggest you look at how much water you currently drink and set a goal to drink more. Unless every drink you ingest is water, there is always room for improvement. My motto is small steps lead to large victories. If your better each week, how can you fail in the long run?

Which is better for you and your family?

Which is better for you and your family?

Bottled versus Tap? This is a discussion that has been very popular lately. On one side of the argument people are scared that the water coming out the tap isn’t clean. So they opt out of using it and buy bottled water. The problem with that is they never test bottled water to see how “clean” it is. Your basically taking someones word for it that the water is clean, Isn’t that the same thing as drinking out the tap and taking the states word that its clean? As we do more research we find the global effects of all the bottles being used in the purchase of bottled water and what happens to our ecosystem as we use more plastic. This is the other side of the argument. The amount of money spent on oil to transport these bottles across our region coupled with the damage that the burning of this oil is causing the environment is astounding. ¬†Although i personally have my¬†doubt in the true cleanliness of either path, I find that just adding a filter to my tap water satisfies my mental insecurities over the quality of the water while still being eco-friendly. Search inside yourself and weigh these topics on your conscious. See which way you will provide yourself this necessity and execute!

No matter how you do it, just drink some!

No matter how you do it, just drink some!

Overall, we can let the quality of something prevent us from doing it. We can let the promotion of all different types of drinks on the market prevent us. We can even consciously choose not to drink water because it “doesn’t taste like” anything. All of these things are excuses. We need water to live. The more you drink, the better your quality of life. It has some many uses and purposes in the human body. Entire text books have been written on this subject alone. If your looking to boost the taste of your water, trying adding some fruit to your H20 and infuse it. Just let it sit for about 20-30 mins and drink up! Nothing quenches your thirst better. So, again I ask, “How much water are you GOING to drink today?” Train hard, Train smart… Elevate.

Over Training- Are you helping yourself or satisfying your ego?

How often should you train?

How often should you train?

So you have an excellent workout plan prepared, a dedicated training partner, and the will to win. You’re ready to begin your fitness journey towards a new you! You have watched all the YouTube videos you could stand, and now its time to work. Well, before you dive head first into a training plan, let’s explore some things.

I began my fitness journey listening to a huge internet star by the name of C.T. Fletcher. His basic message was, “no excuses…leave it all in the gym”. I remember converting all of his videos into mp3 form and listening to them on my ipod during workouts. These “workouts” were beyond normal. I was doing 500 repetitions of exercises on ONE muscle per day. So, I wouldn’t do just legs, I would do quads. The sets would be broken down as such: 5 exercises, with 4 sets of 25 on each exercise. At first this seemed impossible, but I was programming myself to forget that word. No matter what my body said, I told it to keep going. I can actually remember being upset if I stopped during a series. This is in no way a criticism of C.T. Fletcher or his way of doing things ( I actually like A LOT of what he says still). Instead I will highlight why the “leave it all in the gym” mentality might not be the best for you.

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Go hard or go home, everyday?

What Are Your Goals?

First thing you should define is, what are your goals? Do you get paid for your athletic performance? Do you have a specific goal that you are trying to attain? I’m going to assume that the majority of readers here are just trying to get stronger and maintain a healthy lifestyle. So under that presumption, the 500 rep program is definitely not for you. I personally believe in having training sessions where you leave wondering how you made it through. I also believe that to much of anything can be harmful if misused. So how does that information now help you?

What I believe everyone should do is mix their training up. The first thing I notice (and have struggled with until this day) is actually taking the time to stretch. Most of the biggest guys in your local gym have NO flexibility. Ask them to sit on the ground and touch their toes and you would be amazed. How many people have you seen spending 20-30 minutes stretching in your local gym? Strength means nothing without mobility to use the power you have gained. In fact, with increased mobility, your power will actually be more efficient.

Form or Ferocity?

Form or Ferocity?

Form Police

Form is one of the most criticized aspects of fitness. In the bodybuilding underworld, those who correct it are referred to as the “Form Police”. In my early stages of training, I wasn’t as strict on form and placed more emphasis on effort. One day while doing pull ups (without my shoulder packed and no tension) it hit me. What if I could do these 50 pull ups with strict form. That would be impressive. I had to retrain my body to do 10 correctly. I mention all this to say, FOCUS ON FORM. If you cant do 1 push up correctly, it makes no sense to train doing 50 incorrectly. You are really only working out your ego. Don’t focus on getting through a number of reps. Instead focus on completing each rep properly. If you burn out, place the weight down safely and take a few deep breaths. Shake out the arms and legs and start again once the lactic acid has passed. Focus on quality not quantity with your session and you will see your return on investment in the gym increase tremendously.

Tension...Tension...Tension

Tension…Tension…Tension

Tension

Look at this picture above. If you search google you will find thousands of pictures with people planking in this position. The arch in his back tells me that his isn’t getting the most out of his plank. A simple posterior pelvic tilt will send all the tension to his core. Right now his lower back is doing a lot of work, along with the shoulders. The plank is truly a staple move. The foundation of almost every exercise because you end up in a plank. After a squat, you end up in a plank at the top. Dead lift, you end up in a plank at the top. Push up, you end up in a plank at the top. So why not train to plank properly? Anyone doing a 5 minute plank challenge is wasting their time. Your not using tension properly if you CAN hold a plank for 5 minutes.

I’m not going to say what will work for you. We would need to sit down and discuss many factors to come up with that answer. What I will say is, make sure your training incorporates all aspects of fitness. Ultimately, we are training to live. Or as a fellow trainer of mine Jen says, “We train for life”. Train hard, train safe, and train smart!

Choosing The Right “Diet” For You

You create the standard for your lifestyle...

You create the standard for your lifestyle…

You’re at home and you decide that today is the day you’re going to change your life. You’re tired of the stomach bulge and the excuses. You’re tired of not having enough energy to get throughout your day. You’re tired of having to stop on floor three when you walk up six flights of stairs. You’re tired….tired…tired…and today it all stops. So what do you do? You go to your fridge and you toss out everything that you deem unhealthy. You create a bunch of strict rules that you will now abide by with no room for error. You convince yourself that this is it and the battle lines are drawn.

Three hours after your first salad, you realize that this is a lot harder than you originally imagined. The random visions of cupcakes, snacks, and snickers keep racing through your head. You decide to go for a drive and see all the billboards with food advertisements everywhere. You are bombarded with food displayed on every corner. Sound familiar? It should! This is the struggle of the everyday working person in modern society.

So what’s the solution?

I have found that there is a distinct connection between the mind and the outcome of the individuals experience. There is an old saying, “What the mind can believe, the mind can achieve.” Most people take the wrong approach when it comes to making a lifestyle change. We come up with some unrealistic goal that doesn’t fully take into account our lifestyle, habits, or environment. The brain is designed to produce the fastest results with the most logical output. Ironically, we program our brains to what our desired “standard” is everyday. The body is always trying to reach this “standard” or balance which is called homeostasis. To truly make a lifestyle change one must undergo a habit change. A complete paradigm shift from one group of habits to another. The easiest way to achieve this (from my experience) has been with small goals that lead to a larger outcome. Create a plan that enables constant progress through small achievements. Not only will this build your confidence for the larger challenges you will endure, but it will allow you to celebrate your journey over and over again.

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Be like water…

The Bruce Lee Mentality

To me, the genius of Bruce Lee’s philosophy when it came to martial arts was the fluidity of his mind. His “Be Like Water” mentality enabled him to adapt to all types of challenges presented to him in battle. Everyday you are engaged in a battle between your wants and your needs. You may truly feel you need to eat better, but you also want that slice of pizza and the Papa Johns commercial you just saw isn’t helping your original thought. I find that employing that philosophy to my fitness and nutrition journey has been extremely beneficial. I take all the positive aspects of any genre of fitness and nutrition you can imagine and incorporate them into my regiment. So, I encourage you to do the same. Research the primal/paleo “diets”. Study the low carb/ high carb/ carb-cycling routines and see what fits your individual beliefs. Trying to gain weight? See which meats offer you the most protein for you buck. Although all human bodies are created with the same functioning organs, our environments play a large roll in our direction. We all come from different backgrounds, environments, and locations. This is why every nutrition/lifestyle change has to be customized, There is no one size fits all answer other than spending the energy necessary to learn ones self. Find your weaknesses and strengthen your plan around it.

You Have To Do The Work

You can pay a nutritionist to break down the percentages of what foods you should be eating, but YOU still have to eat them. You can pay a personal trainer to show you exactly what exercises you should be doing, but YOU still have to do them. Remember, this is YOUR life and you are in control of everything that goes on in it. So if making a life change when it pertains to your nutrition is important to you, you’ll take an active roll in making sure that happens. Set small goals weekly that will eventually create better habits over time. The time will pass anyway, so why not stack the cards in your favor. You can start by saying you will drink one extra glass of water this week. Next week, continue to drink that extra glass of water, but create another goal. You can decided to eat 2 pieces of fruit each day (depending on your specific desires), and so forth. At the end of 3 months you would be surprised with how much your life can change.

Happy-fitness-girl

Always smile at your progress, no matter how far you have come…

Stick With It Even In Your Setbacks

I believe we are perfectly designed, with imperfect actions. So when you find yourself in a rut don’t be to hard on yourself. As long as life offers you another day, you have another opportunity to get it right and attack the problem even stronger. It is better to focus on being conscious of what may have triggered your reaction so you can prevent that trigger from affecting you again. As long as you are becoming stronger in your journey everyday, how can you not reach the finish line? Stay strong and remember its Mind and Muscle, together!