Archive for the ‘Exercise’ Category

1. Box Jumps for conditioning

 

I’ve said this many times in the past, I’m not a fan of box jumps¬†as a tool for conditioning, The purpose of plyometric work is to learn how to generate force (accelerate), but more so, how to absorb it (decelerate). You are defeating the purpose jumping up and down on a tall box¬†like a chimpanzee on crack. More pressingly, they become very demanding on your body when you perform them in that fashion. This opens the door for potential injury.

There are far better options. I’d opt for something with less impact that’s not going to sacrifice future training quality (kettlebell swings, med ball slams, battle ropes, sled work).

2. Push-Ups with elbows flared out

 

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Even though Push-Ups are underrated ‚ÄĒ and don’t get the respect it deserves for its versatility ‚ÄĒ being able to do them properly¬†is not an easy task for beginners, especially women. Push-Ups with your elbows flared out isn’t an ideal position. A technical error like that becomes problematic simply because it puts undue stress onto your elbows and shoulders. Moreover, what you’ll typically see¬†is poor anterior core engagement and virtually no recruitment of the triceps.

The ideal position you want is that of an arrow ‚ÄĒ placing your left elbow at 8 o’clock, and right elbow at 4 o’clock. Initially, it’s going to be significantly harder, but it will pay dividends in the long haul.

3. Overhead Press

 

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Rule of thumb: if you can’t get your arms up overhead without dropping your neck (forward head posture), or over-arching your lower back, then pressing a load over your head is out of the question. Earn the right to do it.

To that end, overhead pressing has never been a¬†main staple in my workouts nor most of my clients, for good reason. The pertinent issue is¬†that a lot of folks can’t do them pain-free. And, in the grand majority of cases, people¬†just demonstrate¬†piss-poor form (top) ‚ÄĒ it’s like watching a live grenade about to go off.

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should totally discard the movement. In fact, I still have a few of my clients do them from time to time because it is a great exercise. It all comes down to risk-reward.

Bottom line: if you can perform them then have at it… but, do so in an efficient manner (bottom).

4. Deadlift Butchery

 

Many lifters have a tendency to hyperextend through the lower back at the top of the deadlift. Admittedly, I’ve also¬†been guilty of this in the past. This aberrant movement becomes more pronounced as the load gets heavier and heavier. ¬†Don’t believe me? Go to any commercial gym and see for yourself.

In all fairness though, those same people are just unaware of how to actually use their hips. ¬†We’re always going to resort to the path of least resistance. So, in this case it’s much easier to rely on our lower back than our¬†glutes (or lack thereof).

Luckily, this can be easily rectified by pumping the brakes and backing off on the heavy loads to give yourself some time to… yanno, work on technique.

Two ways¬†I’ve found to be extremely helpful in dissociating low back movement for true hip extension is the Hip Thrust and Sumo Deadlift.

5. “Squatty” Kettlebell Swing

 

There’s a world of difference between a knee-dominant movement, and a hip-dominant movement. With that in mind, the most butchered exercise out of the bunch would have to be the Kettlebell Swing. If applied appropriately and executed¬†correctly, it can improve hip strength and build a solid backside. Treating it like a squat, however, ruins many of the benefits.

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Let’s face it, cardio is bone-numbingly tedious. There’s ample evidence that suggests long duration¬†of steady-state or low-intensity cardio leads to muscle loss. Simply put, it becomes counter-productive. Now, if we’re talking about having a positive impact on your performance and body composition, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better solution¬†than adding “finishers” to your workout ‚ÄĒ it does a fantastic job of building muscle, maximizing fat loss, and improving conditioning. Don’t get me wrong, low-intensity cardio is still important, but you’re not doing yourself any favors by doing only two hours of cardio five days a week. Mix it up.

 

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1. Sled Work

 

Sometimes you just need a good kick in the ass to toughen you up. Hence, the sled.

The vast majority can agree that¬†there’s really nothing more badass than moving¬†heavy weight on the sled. But… they’re brutal, and they also make you question your sanity (in a good way).

Push it. Pull It. Drag it. Move it.

 

2. Landmine Complexes

 

Just to be clear, I think traditional barbell complexes are absolutely fine. If you can do them, do them. Generally, though, I don’t like them because a lot of people royally screw it up, particularly beginners.¬†You also have to understand that the further you go into a fatigued state, one thing is constant ‚ÄĒ¬†your form will start to break down. That is why I’m more partial to setting up with the Landmine. They’re safer. Nuff’ said.

Try this:

  • Landmine Squat x 8
  • Landmine 1-Leg RDL x 8/leg
  • Landmine Deadlift x 8

Repeat for 3-4 sets.

 

 

3. Kettlebell Combos

 

While the sled is my favorite tool to use, the kettlebell would be a close second.  This piece of equipment is one of the most versatile tools you can have at your disposal.  As such, everybody should learn how to properly use them.

Option 1:

  • Kettlebell Swing x¬†12
  • Push-Ups x¬†8
  • Kettlebell Goblet Squat x¬†8
  • Push-Ups x 6

Repeat for 3-4 sets.

Option 2:

  • Kettlebell Swings x 20
  • Front Plank x 30 secs

Repeat for 3-4 sets.

Takeaway

 

Despite what you might’ve been told, cardio doesn’t have to be relegated into just countless hours of walking on the treadmill or elliptical. These are some of the simple protocols you can use to add some spice into your training, but also speed up your progress.

Speaking of which, I’m happy to announce that I’m taking clients for my online fitness coaching. If you¬†want to get stronger,¬†build lean muscle, and decrease body fat, learn more about my coaching here.¬†Follow the link and I’ll contact you as soon as possible to see how I can help.

Let's Get It Started

Now that the calendar has switched over another year, it’s safe to say we’ll be seeing a lot more people in the gym.¬† By no means is this an attempt to downplay their attempt to get in shape. Far from it. In this post, I want to share some tidbits I’ve learned this past year. Here they are:

1. It doesn’t matter what training protocol you do. You can’t out-train a destructive lifestyle.

 

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Perhaps the biggest perk of regularly working out is that you can afford to have higher allotment of indulgence. Meaning, you get to drink and eat more. To that end, it’s amazing how naive we are to think that progress is made in the gym.¬† Regardless of the training method, all you’re doing is breaking your body down.¬† What you do outside is going to dictate your results. If you live for the weekends, you’re not going to get anything in return.¬† Yes¬†‚ÄĒ there are people who can get away with eating crap, and getting minimal rest. But there is a tipping point.

Good intentions and justifying yourself on social media doesn’t mean much. Consider the different elements in your lifestyle that are a hindrance. Work to gradually change them and in turn, you’ll maximize results in the gym.

2. Being busy doesn’t necessarily mean productivity.

 

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When I first started out as a trainer in a commercial gym, I did everything and anything to fill up my time slots. Early in the morning, sure thing. ¬†Late afternoon, you got it. However, the more I advanced and grew, I realized that I had to be more efficient with my time ‚ÄĒ especially now that I’m a business owner. Greg McKeown, the author of Essentialism,¬†refers to this as discerning the vital few from the trivial many. To give context, you have to¬†recognize what’s important¬†‚ÄĒ and from there, you prioritize.

3. Prioritize single-leg work. You’re welcome.

 

Just to be clear, I’m not¬†against lower body bilateral training. ¬†In fact, I love the squat and deadlift. I’ve achieved a 315lb Front Squat, and a 405 Deadlift. Your body, however, takes a beating. There’s only so much load that it can tolerate before it starts to breakdown. So, why not split that load in half and do it one leg at a time. You still get a comparable training effect without imposing a ton of sheer force on the spine. You’d be surprised at just how much value focusing on single-leg work can bring.

4. All the training won’t matter if your diet royally sucks. (Get this through your head)

 

This ties in with the first point above. It’s a clear observation that completely disregarding the importance of proper nutrition is foolish, to say the least.¬† Look, I get it ‚ÄĒ it’s incredibly hard. But consider how many benefits have the potential to dramatically improve your physique and performance if your diet was on point. ¬†Understand that there is a trade-off and you have to exercise serious discipline (not restriction).

5. Being strong doesn’t mean jack sh**¬†if you move like a tin-can.

 

If you’re as strong as an ox, good on ya’. But if you can’t move well, you’re not going to be able to perform at a high level. Don’t be like the traitor from 300.¬† Maintain quality of movement by devoting at least 5-10 minutes on the foam roller in conjunction with your dynamic warm-up.

Trust me.

It’s much easier to maintain, than it is to regain it back.

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6. If you don’t like the way you look, do something about it.

 

We can’t all look like a bikini competitor, model, or physique athlete. But that shouldn’t stop you from training to improve your appearance. How you look is a testament to your health and vitality¬†‚ÄĒ take pride in it.

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