Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category

Let’s face it, training is incredibly demanding. It’s a beautiful thing to see what your body can do when you push yourself; but there’s no reward if you’re not willing to do that. At the same time, you also have to appreciate that more isn’t always better.

There’s a delicate balance between being conservative and getting out of your comfort zone ‚ÄĒ and you’ll find that operating between two extremes can produce positive outcomes, especially when you’re trying to boost your performance on the field.

To read the full article on STACK, click HERE.

 

1. Perform Face-Pulls and Band Pull Aparts to keep your shoulders healthy

 

The shoulder is perhaps the most commonly injured area not just in the athletic community, but also the general population. They’re a ticking time bomb because at some point they’re eventually going to flip you the finger ‚ÄĒ whether it’s from inappropriate training, or from¬†poor posture.

The simplest, most-effective way to reduce likelihood of shoulder pain is to develop the muscles of the upper back. Hear me out, Face-Pulls and Band Pull Aparts are not just corrective exercises or activation drills. Applying them appropriately into your training can strengthen the weak links in your upper back and improve posture. Win-win.

2. Use Fat Gripz in your warm-up sets

 

Focus, concentration, and technique are more important than a lot of people think. These are all critical when working up to an appreciable load on compound movements like a deadlift or a bench press.

While using Fat Gripz is a great tool to improve your grip strength, another cool thing about it too is that by adding them in your warm-up sets it actually enables you to lift more weight after you’ve taken them off. You’re essentially making the exercise slightly more difficult to trigger the heightened involvement of your nervous system. By definition, you’re recruiting more muscle, but with less loading.

3. Prioritize single-leg work

 

Before you throw the yellow¬†flag, I‚Äôm not¬†against traditional squatting and deadlifting. They’re still vital to a well-balanced strength training program.¬†Your body, however, takes a beating. There‚Äôs only so much load that it can tolerate before you start to get diminishing returns.¬†Splitting the load up in half, and prioritizing single-leg work¬†still provides you with a comparable training effect, if not better.

You’re not imposing a ton of sheer and compressive force on the spine, and since sports are played on mostly on leg, it’s much more sport-specific.

4. Do Banded Sumo Walks to activate your glutes

 

Your glutes are responsible for producing a ton of force, so you’re not doing yourself any favors by not paying close attention to them. If they’re firing on all cylinders, your knees and/or low back end up taking a hit. Activating your glutes by simply adding a mini-band around your knees and forcing your knees out while you walk side to side enables¬†you to move and perform better.

5. Pair up your strength work with mobility drills

 

Freakish levels of strength should be commended and appreciated, but I’ve learned the hard way that being strong doesn’t mean a thing¬†if you move like a tin-can. Placing an emphasis on mobility goes a long way because if you can’t move well…guess what? You’re not going to perform¬†well.

Have fun sitting on the bench.

Understand that being strong and mobile are inseparable ‚ÄĒ the two go hand in hand. A great way to avoid the monotony of mobility work is to pair them up with your strength work.

Main Exercise                              Mobility Drill

  1. Squat                             Stationary Spiderman w/ reach
  2. Bench Press                  Quad Hip Flexor Mobilization
  3. Deadlift                          Prone 1-Arm Trap Raise

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

 

PushUpForm

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

 

OverheadPressForm

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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Just so we’re clear, there is absolutely no¬†supplement out there that is going to make up for crappy nutrition and destructive eating habits.¬†Supplements are there to supplement your diet.

With that in mind,¬†food is always going to be superior to supplements. There’s no debate in saying that your nutrition should primarily consists of¬†whole foods ‚ÄĒ it’s a given. But, there are a handful that I strongly recommend looking into.

1. Curcumin

 

Curcumin is the yellow pigment associated with Turmeric ‚ÄĒ and is perhaps the most powerful supplement I’ve taken. In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, its other effects range from pain management to benefits that affect nearly every organ system in the body. One of my long-time clients who has osteoarthritis in both knees has experienced tremendous feedback from supplementing with curcumin.

The caveat, though, is that it has poor bioavailability. So, you need to ingest curcumin as part of a formula that contains piperine (black pepper extract) to enhance absorption.

2. Vitamin D

 

More than 40 percent of American adults are thought to be deficient in vitamin D. ¬†In fact, every time I ask my clients for their blood work, more often than not, their vitamin D level is sub-optimal. Interestingly enough, when carbohydrate intake¬†is controlled, I’ve found that supplementing with Vitamin D has a positive effect on Hemoglobin A1c. So, if you’re pre-diabetic, look into your Vitamin D levels. Of course this is just anecdotal evidence.

3. Magnesium

 

Magnesium is a big player for a number of biochemical reactions that keep the body functioning properly. Unfortunately, most people across the population are deficient in it. A deficiency has been shown to increase blood pressure and has a negative effect on carbohydrate metabolism.

If you don’t want to supplement, nuts and leafy vegetables are among the best food sources.

4. Fish Oil

 

It’s pretty obvious¬†that we all¬†should be taking this due to it’s variety of¬†health benefits. There’s ample evidence that suggest¬†it promotes¬†healthier blood vessels, and lowers lipid count. Omega-3 fatty acids¬†delivers potent anti-inflammatory effects, and the most obvious is that it has a positive effect on brain and cardiovascular health.

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