Archive for the ‘Health and Wellness’ Category

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So…I just turned 25 a few weeks ago.

(Yes — I can finally rent a car!)

And something I like to do every year is reflect on what I’ve done.  Every year I try to do better in terms of improving as a coach and how I can make an even bigger impact. Ever since I entered the game and became a part of the fitness industry two years ago, I made it a goal to help as many people as I could.  I wanted to be a reputable and well-versed fitness professional.

Yesterday, I read two blogs, 31 Random Training Thoughts by Mike Robertson, and 32 Random Thoughts On Training by Tony Gentilcore. Both are great reads and you should check them out. I liked the idea so much that it inspired me to do one as well. In honor of my birthday, here are my 25 Thoughts On Fitness and Nutrition.

  1. The number one excuse that keeps people from working out is, “I don’t have the time.” Look, you either want it that bad, or you don’t. Make the time.
  2. A suppressed metabolism coupled with high frequency training will not get you anywhere near your goal. You can’t expect to lose fat when you’re eating less than a 1,000 calories every day.  Give your body a reason to release energy by eating MORE. Yes — eat more!
  3. Too many people are under the impression that training to the point of exhaustion is indicative of a good workout. Always leave something left in the tank to ensure optimal recovery. 
  4. Don’t delude yourself into thinking that you’ve earned a reward after only putting in a day of work by doing one hour on the elliptical. reward
  5. I hate to break it to you, but there are no specifics with regards to nutrition and training. There is no one size fits all program or diet.  Everybody is different, everything is individualized. 
  6. Additionally, not everyone is meant to squat “ass-to-grass” and not everyone is meant to overhead press.
  7. I love squats and deadlifts 😉2015-08-28 15.26.51
  8. I hate kipping pull ups.
  9. Take your warm ups seriously. Don’t haphazardly warm up and start moving big weights without priming yourself up mentally and physically. 
  10. With regards to injuries, most of the time the site of the pain isn’t the source of the pain. Remember that!
  11. Generally, the vast majority of people who suffer from chronic back pain can easily relieve that by simply releasing the tension in their hip flexors via soft tissue work (foam rolling, massage, active release therapy) and stretching.
  12. Wheat and Soy= Fake health food
  13. Apple Cider Vinegar and Coconut Oil= Good
  14. Women: lifting weights will not make you look bulky and muscular. Stop the cardio and go lift something heavy. I beg you!
  15. Your lats and your glutes are two of the biggest muscles in the human body. Utilize them!
  16. Don’t overlook the importance of proper positioning. Pelvic positioning is of utmost importance when it comes to performing functional movements. Stacked joints are where we want to be.
  17. If you strengthen in misalignment, you develop muscular imbalances. If you stretch in misalignment, you create instability. You can’t fire a cannon from a canoe.
  18. I believe everybody should train somewhat like an athlete.
  19. 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 by doing box jumps and jumping back down repetitively.
  20. Weight loss on the scale is not indicative of progress. Conversely, gaining 2-3 pounds does not mean you’re regressing. Fluctuations are a part of the process.
  21. Losing weight or dropping body fat isn’t the problem, it’s keeping it off.
  22. Mobility is nothing without stability. Core activation, specifically with the anterior core is critical if you want to move an appreciable amount of weight.
  23. Most of the time shoulder issues arise from over developed lats and pecs. Releasing them with a foam roller or medicine ball will start to clear things up.
  24. I love pizza ;).20150306_161334
  25. If you can’t get your arms up overhead without dropping your neck (forward head posture) or over-arching your lower back (hyperlordosis), then you have no business overhead pressing a barbell. You have to earn the right to overhead press.

Growing up I didn’t know sh** about training or lifting weights.  I just did what looked fancy and cool. Go figure! Anyhow, I guess it’s safe to say (now that I’m a fitness professional) that I did a lot of things in the gym that were a complete waste of my time.

1. Smith Machine Squats

Photo Credit: Bodybuilding.com

It’s always up for debate whether the squat or the deadlift is the king of all exercises (topic for another day). One thing is for sure though, regardless if you’re an athlete or training to burn fat, you must… SQUAT! Squats are a must for any training program out there—performing them on a smith machine, however; will not cut it.

Squats on the smith machine would be the equivalent of cooking a ribeye steak in a microwave (why would you do that?!). You’ll end up cooking the damn thing, but the taste and texture of the meat won’t be as enticing as if you were to grill it. Here’s what I’m trying to convey: any exercise or implement that facilitates your prime movers (big muscles) in absence of your stabilizers (smaller muscles), will lead to the development of muscular imbalances and ultimately, injuries. There are tons of variations that induce a better training effect while at the same time, teaching the individual how to be proficient at squatting.

smithmachine

Try this:

I think I speak for every qualified trainer and coach out there—the Goblet Squat is the go-to exercise to learn how to squat properly.  Goblet squats induce a far better training effect while limiting the stress on your lower back.

Another great alternative is a landmine squat.  I picked this up from Ben Bruno when I was out in LA back in November. Now, in comparison to the goblet squat, this variation does a great job of ingraining the idea of keeping an upright torso—limiting factor for the goblet squat—because if you lean too far forward the bar will jam into your sternum.

To sum it all up, there is no rhyme or reason to which variation you should do, because you’re better off doing either of them as opposed to doing them on a smith machine.

2. Unstable surface training

I saw a dude doing dumbbell squats the other day… ON A BOSU! I cringed every time I saw him do another set. Now, if you’re looking to burn fat, build muscle, or become a better athlete, you won’t—simply because you won’t be able to use as much weight (light weight=not enough stimulus to induce muscle growth) on an unstable surface.  If it’s not for rehabilitative purposes, stop doing them! If you can’t do a squat with correct form, then don’t do them on an unstable surface.  Training on an unstable surface such as a bosu ball, airex pad, or dyna-disc does not improve your performance or strengthen your core—there is no validity. The only thing it does is make the exercise (unnecessarily) harder—it does not translate to improved proficiency in a prescribed movement.

Functional-Golf-Training

 

Photo Credit: tnation.com

So, do me and yourself a favor and stay clear of these exercises.  Stick with the basics.

 crossfit

 


Here’s what you need to know:

  • The weight scale will deter you from reaching your goals.
  • Not eating a sufficient amount of quality food will dampen your progress.
  • Hours and hours of cardiovascular activity (elliptical, treadmill, zumba) will elevate the amount of cortisol in your body—excessive amounts will breakdown muscle tissue.
  • Progressive overload is key in building muscle.

It’s been an awful long time since you’ve stepped foot in the gym, about four months to be exact.  Within those four months you’ve developed some bad habits that inevitably took a toll on your health— you’ve put on some weight, you wake up every morning feeling like you want to go back to sleep, and you always crave sugar. Now all of sudden, you get motivated again to reclaim the figure you once had because let’s face it…we are all, to some degree a bit narcissistic—we want to look good. If you look good, you feel good!

Two weeks have passed and you’ve lost five pounds through dieting and training.  You’re so elated that you turn it up a notch—strict dieting and countless hours at the gym.  A month has passed and it’s time to step on the scale.  Your weight didn’t change at all.  You get discouraged and lose all your “motivation.”

Sound familiar?

Let me tell you that I have trained and interacted with a lot of women, and this is not uncommon.

Here are four mistakes women make with their training.

1. Fixation on the scale

weightscale

 

When the goal is primarily fat loss, there are two factors that are ultimately going to determine how successful you are going to be—weight and body fat. Unfortunately, rather than using a more direct and accurate approach—checking body fat—women tend to gravitate towards the former.  If left unchecked, this can be a recipe for disaster because it can deter you from any progress you’re fully capable of attaining.

Now, there is a distinction between weight loss and fat loss.  Losing weight is not indicative of how well you’re doing and a gain of 1.5 lbs does not mean “work harder and eat less” (this happens a lot) —while under-exercising can contribute to becoming fat and sluggish, over-exercising can cause immune system suppression.

If you see your weight drop it doesn’t mean you’ve lost a reasonable amount of fat.  Conversely, when you see your weight go up it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve added fat.  Fluctuations are a part of the process. Keep things in perspective, don’t allow the little things to get in the way of your goal, and toss your scale!

2. Not eating enough

caltheory

Don’t be entirely consumed with where your caloric intake should be, specifically regarding cutting back calories. While there is some merit to the “calories-in, calories-out” method, it’s not the be-all end-all approach for fat loss. My issue with it is that your basically starving yourself and while it may work short-term, you will inevitably gain back what you have worked so hard to lose.  Reason being is because your thyroid function will start to diminish, as a result of decreased energy (caloric intake) coupled with higher frequency (training). Simply put, this will turn down your metabolism further suppressing your body’s ability to breakdown fat. Focus on the quality of the food rather than the quantity.

3. Relying heavily on cardio

 

jogger.jpgNothing makes me cringe more than seeing a person ride the elliptical or run on the treadmill for hours. While there is nothing inherently wrong with cardio, there are some implications that can arise and could become problematic in the future.

Cardiovascular activity (aerobic) is a vital component for fat loss, but it’s not the most efficient.  You don’t need to beat yourself up by running everyday or going to cycling class five times a week. Long bouts of an aerobic based workout on a day-to-day basis causes the release of excess amount of cortisol, which will cause muscle breakdown and storage of fat, in addition to, prohibiting formation of additional muscle.  15 – 30 minutes of aerobic training a day will do the trick on resistance training days.  Circuit weight training has also been shown to be more beneficial with regard to fat loss as well.

4. Lightweight

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You see, muscle is very expensive in the body. The more muscle you have, the more calories you’re able to burn (increased metabolism). That is why I’m still dumbfounded by the fact that there are still a lot of women out there who think that lifting weights is going to make you “bulky and muscular.” You don’t get glutes like this by participating in zumba or spin class three times a week.

glutes.jpg

You get glutes like this by progressive overload — heavier weights and an accumulation of volume. To a certain extent, how I train my female clients is no different than how I train my male clients.  I still have them perform the deadlift and squat a reasonable amount of weight that provides enough stimulus for the body to adapt and grow.  I mean come on, who doesn’t want to get stronger? The confidence that comes with increased strength is advantageous to your overall health.

Here’s one of my clients deadlifting 192lbs for a double.

Remember: your body won’t change if you don’t challenge yourself.